Science of the Spirit
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Disgusting stuff turns us into liars and cheats, and cleanliness makes us honest again

Trainspotting
© The Independent, UK
Study reveals the subconscious impact of emotions on decision making.
Feeling physically disgusted can make us prone to deceive others, whereas cleanliness prompts us to play fair again, say scientists behind a newly published study.

The decisions you make are often highly influenced by seemingly innocent objects and events around you, whilst you remain completely oblivious to the effect. Seeing an ad for a burger chain and choosing to stop for food is an obvious example, but some of the ways in which our minds are guided by the outside world are less self-evident. Would you have guessed, for example, that watching the toilet scene from Trainspotting would make you more likely to lie and cheat?

That infamous scene was shown to one group of participants in a new study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes which aimed to uncover the effects of disgust on unethical behaviour. And lo and behold, those who had just watched Ewan McGregor slide through the 'Worst Toilet in Scotland' were more likely to lie in order to get two dollars than those who had been spared this ordeal.

Vikas Mittal, professor of marketing at Rice University in Houston, Texas, co-authored the paper and explains the mechanism behind the seemingly bizarre connection.

"As an emotion, disgust is designed as a protection. When people feel disgusted, they tend to remove themselves from a situation. The instinct is to protect oneself. People become focused on 'self' and they're less likely to think about other people. Small cheating starts to occur: If I'm disgusted and more focused on myself and I need to lie a little bit to gain a small advantage, I'll do that."
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Be present: Living in the moment really does make people happier

© Corbis RF/Alamy
Reminiscing, thinking ahead or daydreaming tends to make people more miserable.

Psychologists have found that people are distracted from the task at hand nearly half the time, and this daydreaming consistently makes them less happy.


Happiness is found by living in the now, particularly if the now involves having sex, according to a major study into mental wellbeing.

But the study also found that people spend nearly half their time (46.7%) thinking about something other than what they are actually doing.

The benefits of living in the moment are extolled by many philosophical and religious traditions, but until now there has been scant scientific evidence to support the advice.

Psychologists at Harvard University collected information on the daily activities, thoughts and feelings of 2,250 volunteers to find out how often they were focused on what they were doing, and what made them most happy.

Comment: 'Happiness is found by living in the now' and what leads to emotional wellness is being fully present in the moment. In our present fast paced technological society there appears to be no room for 'just being'. A recent article details such an (unhappy) state: The dis-ease of being busy
This disease of being "busy" (and let's call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.
The solution? 'The benefits of living in the moment are extolled by many philosophical and religious traditions.' Meditation is just one tradition that brings the practitioner back into the moment, focusing on the breath, the meditator is able to observe thoughts and sensations in the body. Meditation has also been called The art of attention, to learn more about breathing and meditation, in addition to experiencing moments of presence check out the Eiriu Eolas Stress Reduction and Meditation program here.

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An example of how lying and believing lies damages the brain: Glenn Beck reveals mystery illness and says doctors had to 'reboot' his brain

The conservative commentator Glenn Beck has revealed that he has suffered from severe neurological problems for several years, and credits, in part, "medical cowboys" at a chiropractic brain rehabilitation center for helping "reboot" his brain.

Beck detailed his health problems during a filmed broadcast shown Monday night, saying that his troubles began while he worked for Fox News and they "quite honestly made me look crazy". He described the first symptom as a "time collapse", saying he lost the ability to connect memories and facts. "I then began to lose names and faces ... entire conversations would go away."

He teared up as he described almost two years of increasing uncertainty and fear in the face of a mysterious ailment, which doctors said could leave him unable to function "in five to 10 years". Beck said that "vocal paralysis" and seizures began to affect his work, and that he was told by doctors that his lifestyle could not continue "because it was literally killing me".

He said doctors were baffled by the range of symptoms, which included "strange eyesight problems" and sensations of limbs crushed or "set on fire or pushed broken glass into them".

Comment: Andrew Lobaczewski in his seminal work, Political Ponerology - A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes, talked about "the first criterion for ponerogenesis" being the atrophy of critical faculties.

One of the reasons this particular point is so interesting is because we at SOTT.net have observed this "turning into half-wits" over and over again. It's the damnedest thing! The instant an individual makes a decision to believe a lie, it's as though their ability to use accurate reasoning about anything else - not just a contentious item - grinds to a halt.

Which, of course, leads to the consideration of Faith itself. Soren Kierkegaard suggested that religion is, of its essence, not persuasion of the truth of a doctrine, but commitment to a position which is inherently absurd. Human beings attain their identity by believing something that deeply offends their minds (or others).To exist, he says, we must believe, and to really believe means to believe something that is dreadfully hard to believe.You can't just believe something plausible because that is easy...So, for some people, it may be that believing lies is some kind of proof that they are in control of their choices, they aren't being pushed around or dominated by irritating things like facts and evidence.

We wonder if lying, holding onto a lie, even if one is only lying to the self (and in case of Glenn Beck is being an intentionally lying presstitute of the PTB), causes some kind of damage to this area of the brain? Or, if not actual damage, just sets up a pattern of activity that affects other areas of the brain in a detrimental way? One suspects that even when people believe a lie that some part of their brain knows the truth and they know, at some level, that they are lying or believing lies (which amounts to lying to the self).

We also wonder what kinds of results would show up doing these kinds of scans on psychopaths? Do psychopaths know they are lying in all cases? And if that is the case, does it have the same physiological effect on them as it does on an individual with a conscience?

Just a whole lot of thoughts and questions...

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Why we may cry with happiness

© Psychcentral
Life is full of events that ignite emotions.

When these events occur people may react by performing an action or expressing an emotion that may be opposite of the actual emotional state. The actions and even our use of seemingly contradictory language may help us relieve emotional stress.

For example, the phrase "tears of joy" never made much sense to Yale psychologist Dr. Oriana Aragon. But after conducting a series of studies of such seemingly incongruous expressions, she now understands better why people cry when they are happy.

"People may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions," said Aragon, lead author of a study that will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

"They seem to take place when people are overwhelmed with strong positive emotions, and people who do this seem to recover better from those strong emotions."

There are many examples of responding to a positive experience with a negative emotion.

A crying spouse is reunited with a soldier returning from war. Teen girls scream at a Justin Bieber concert and so do soccer players as they score a winning goal. The baseball player who hits a winning home run is pounded at home plate by teammates. And when introduced to babies "too cute for words," some can't resist pinching their cheeks.

"I was surprised no one ever asked why that is," said Aragon.

Aragon and her colleagues at Yale ran subjects through some of these scenarios and measured their responses to cute babies or happy reunions.

Comment: See also:

Eleven characteristics of bona fide happy people

Face life with Éiriú Eolas, a stress relief program

Music

How playing an instrument benefits your brain

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What's going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians' brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

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Past life memories of 4-year-old son terrify Virginia mother


U.S. Marine Sgt. Val Lewis died in a bombing explosion October 23, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon. Yet 4-year-old Andrew, who lives in Virginia Beach, remembers it as his death.

"He just starts crying hysterically and I say "What's wrong Andrew?" and he says, "Why did you let me die in that fire?'" says Michele Lucas, Andrew's mother.

Is Andrew running away from a past life?

His mother, Michele, says he is saying things and recalling memories that no one his age should know.

Comment: Intuitions of our immortality: Visions of life before conception

3-year-old remembers past life, identifies murderer and location of body

Norman Mailer: 'I believe in reincarnation'

4-year-old girl claims to be reincarnation of shuttle astronaut

Remembrances of Lives Past

Reincarnation: Its meaning and consequences

Hearts

The 2 traits that make for a lasting relationship


Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.
Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say "I do," committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.

Except, of course, it doesn't work out that way for most people. The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction. Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book The Science of Happily Ever After, which was published earlier this year.

Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates. Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into the lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were. Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?

Comment: Kindness and generosity. Shouldn't it be obvious? Apparently not. Who would have thought there was such a shortage in our world of these two basic human traits? As our leaders get more psychopathic, our society follows suit. Our generation is one of narcissism, materialism, superficial relationships. The sad thing is that we are not only bringing about our own destruction; we're miserable while we're at it. See also: The four things that kill a relationship stone dead

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The dis-ease of being busy

I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: "I'm so busy... I am so busy... have so much going on."

Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: "I'm just so busy... got so much to do."

The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

And it's not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.

After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled... and scrolled... and scrolled. She finally said: "She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it's gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She's just.... so busy."

Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.
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Brain's response to threat silenced when we are reminded of being loved and cared for

Being shown pictures of others being loved and cared for reduces the brain's response to threat, new research from the University of Exeter has found.

The study discovered that when individuals are briefly presented pictures of others receiving emotional support and affection, the brain's threat monitor, the amygdala, subsequently does not respond to images showing threatening facial expressions or words. This occurred even if the person was not paying attention to the content of the first pictures.

Forty-two healthy individuals participated in the study, in which researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brain response.

The study, published this week in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, suggests that being reminded of being loved and cared for dampens the threat response and may allow more effective functioning during, and activation of soothing resources after, stressful situations. This was particularly true for more anxious individuals.
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Crafting offers meditation-like benefits

© culturbia.net
More than half of US households craft at least once a year,1 but for some it becomes a daily pastime. If you're an avid crafter - knitting, quilting, scrapbooking, etc. - you've probably lost yourself in a project on more than one occasion.

This tendency to become so absorbed in your craft that you're able to forget about your worries, obligations, and even physical pains is called "flow" - and it's a key reason why crafting may be phenomenal for your mental and emotional health.

Comment: Creativity Explained
Creativity is not magic, and there's no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It's a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.

The science of creativity is relatively new. Until the Enlightenment, acts of imagination were always equated with higher powers. Being creative meant channeling the muses, giving voice to the gods. ("Inspiration" literally means "breathed upon.") Even in modern times, scientists have paid little attention to the sources of creativity.

But over the past decade, that has begun to change. Imagination was once thought to be a single thing, separate from other kinds of cognition. The latest research suggests that this assumption is false. It turns out that we use "creativity" as a catchall term for a variety of cognitive tools, each of which applies to particular sorts of problems and is coaxed to action in a particular way.


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