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Tue, 23 Jan 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


What's the secret to writing painlessly & productively?

© Thomas Pullin
I first encountered Robert Boice's name about three years ago, somewhere online; after that, it started popping up every other month. Boice, I learned, was a US psychologist who'd cracked the secret of how to write painlessly and productively. Years ago, he'd recorded this wisdom in a book, now out of print, which a handful of fans discussed in reverent tones, but with a title that seemed like a deliberate bid for obscurity: How Writers Journey To Comfort And Fluency. Also, it was absurdly expensive: used copies sold for £130. Still, I'm a sucker for writing advice, especially when so closely guarded. So this month, I succumbed: I found a copy at the saner (if still eye-watering) price of £68, and a plain green print-on-demand hardback arrived in the post. So if you hunger to write more, but instead find yourself procrastinating, or stifled by panic, or writer's block, I can reveal that the solution to your troubles is...

Comment: Writing by hand benefits the brain: The lowdown on longhand


Zen Gardner: What really matters?

It's amazing how the big questions in life are pushed to the end of the line. Sure everyone wonders about the "big stuff" on and off, but their lives are too preoccupied with other issues that they've been told are more pressing and important - when it's nothing of the sort.

This applies directly to the on-going awakening and how to put our best foot forward in times like these. How best can we be used to effect change? What is the most productive and effective course of action in our personal lives?

With everything at stake at this crucial juncture in history these questions become profoundly important. And the answers just may surprise each of us.

Comment: We were made for these times

Heart - Black

Healing the Mother wound that was inflicted on you as a child

broken woman image
I want you to take a moment and think about the kind of relationship you had with your mother.

What did it look like? How did it feel? Do your thoughts drift to the good times, or do they dwell on the bad times?

Our mothers were pivotal players in our development as children and they formed the very foundation of our emotional and psychological growth. To this very day our mothers continue to influence us both through our deeply ingrained perceptions of life and through our feelings towards ourselves and other people.

But although our mothers may have tried their very best to nurture us, our relationships with them may have been laced with undercurrents of shame, guilt and obligation. In fact, we may continue to carry unresolved grief, fear, disappointment and resentment towards our mothers long into our adult lives. This deep pain is usually the result of unhealed core wounds that are passed on from generation to generation.



Finding your hidden cognitive biases

narrow mind, cognitive bias
In cognitive psychology, there is an effect called the "better-than-average" effect.

The basic concept of an "average" implies that 50% of people will be below average, and 50% of people will be above average. However, when you ask people if they're below or above average when it comes to any particular skill (e.g., driving or singing in tune), far more people will rate themselves as above average than the 50% that would be expected.

Likewise, even when we know about certain cognitive biases, we often think of ourselves as being immune to those biases. We think "Other people might fall into that cognitive trap, but I'm too smart for that."

If you're looking to optimize your thinking, it can be worthwhile to look at which cognitive biases you see yourself as being immune to.

Comment: While we like to think we're rational human beings, we are actually prone to hundreds of proven biases that cause us to think and act irrationally:


Why adults have to stop trying so darn hard to control how children play

Children playing
© Daily Record
"Cut it out!" a little girl screams at the top of her lungs.

"Yeah!" Another girl yells. "Back away!"

I look over in the far corner of the woods to see a small group of girls holding hands and forming what looks to be a wall in front of a teepee they just created. A little boy stands in front of them with a face that is beet red. He is shaking from head to toe.

"I will NOT!" he yells back. "You have to let me play! That is the rules!" He gets dangerously close to them.



Negative perceptions of aging and performance can decrease cognitive function and hearing

aging, elderly, time running out
A study led by researchers at the University of Toronto shows that when older adults feel negatively about aging, they may lack confidence in their abilities to hear and remember things, and perform poorly at both.

"People's feelings about getting older influence their sensory and cognitive functions," said Alison Chasteen, professor in U of T's Department of Psychology and lead author of the study published in Psychology and Aging. "Those feelings are often rooted in stereotypes about getting older and comments made by those around them that their hearing and memory are failing. So, we need to take a deeper and broader approach to understanding the factors that influence their daily lives."

In the study, the researchers examined three variables -- views on aging, self-perceptions of one's abilities to hear and remember, and one's actual performance of both functions -- to uncover connections between them. It marks the first time all three factors were studied together using the same group of subjects.

Heart - Black

Heart of darkness: Scientists explain why psychopaths are the 'perfect recruits' for Daesh

© Unknown
The jihadist organisation Islamic State (ISIS) has been making headlines for the deadly terror attacks that its followers have launched in Iraq, Lebanon, France, Mali, Turkey and United States. The sheer brutality and cruelty of these attacks makes people wonder what goes on in the minds of these ISIS militants.

Mind experts say various scientific studies conducted in the fields of psychology and neuroscience could explain why psychopaths have a tendency to be attracted and convinced by ISIS' propaganda and ultimately recruited by the terrorist group.

First, what is a psychopath? This is an individual suffering from a personality disorder that makes them antisocial, unstable and aggressive, causing the person to exhibit violent social behaviour, the experts say.

Comment: Understanding psychopathy is essential for understanding why the world is the way it is. See also: Masters of Manipulation: Psychopaths rule the world:
As anyone can readily see from the preceding prototype description of the psychopath, the high powered arena of politics, the dog-eat-dog corporate world and the strong arm tactics of the military domain are all ideal and ripe fields of endeavor for those imbued with psychopathic traits.

A study out of Great Britain last year using a psychopathic survey to assess the presence of psychopathic traits within the national workforce showed that CEO's, politicians, media honchos, lawyers, surgeons, military generals, police officers and the clergy all scored highest. Generally any line of work characterized by a hierarchical infrastructure that places those in positions of power ruling over others with relative impunity proves to be the most fertile ground attracting those with a psychopathic personality.

Alarm Clock

Who should really take a time out?

child in time out
This summer, a seven-year-old boy in Timmins, Ontario, became front-page news across the nation because his parents are suing the local board of education. They allege that he has been repeatedly locked in a closet at school to control his behaviour.

Such punishment may seem cruel, but it is not all that unusual. It's an extreme example of the classic "time-out" — one of the more prevalent, and pernicious, notions advocated by parenting experts.

Not long ago, the mother of a young girl with attention-deficit disorder wrote to me saying that, when her daughter was 3, psychologists advised a similar time-out to discourage her temper tantrums. Lock her in a closet, they suggested, "where she couldn't hurt herself."

2 + 2 = 4

The key to a real education: Self discovery

Kids self discovery
What if kids knew themselves - I mean really knew themselves?

Ask the average school leaver who they are at the core of their being and they'll likely say they haven't the faintest clue. Heck, ask me eight years ago when I was in my final year of high school and I'd have shrugged my shoulders too. I, like many others I've spoken to, didn't find myself until after I'd run the school gauntlet. Why is it that so many kids go through over a decade of 'education', yet come out the other end without a sense of who they truly are? Surely, the education system hasn't done its job. Or, perhaps, the education system was never geared at helping children learn who they are. If that is the case, as I daresay it is, what a tragedy...

But it doesn't have to be this way.

Comment: Education and the death of creativity
In short, we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. We teach children to be part of the system governing our society- uniformed, respectful of authority, scared of making mistakes. "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original," Robinson points out. "Kids aren't afraid to make mistakes. If they don't know, they'll take a chance. But by the time they become adults most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. We run our companies this way. And we're now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make."


The dark side of self-control

self control
Every virtue can come with its own accompanying dark side: honesty with brutality, courage with recklessness, and self-control with rigidity. It is said that people who seek therapy do it either because they need controlling their impulsive behavior or because they need loosening their rigidness.

Both impulsiveness and compulsiveness are often just two sides of the same coin. Compulsivity differs from impulsivity in that a particular action is repeated over and over. Psychologist Ainslie argues that rigid (or compulsive) behaviors arise as side effects of successful attempts to alleviate the weakness of the will.

Compulsive people are apt to get just as little long-range pleasure as impulsive ones. Here is how:

1. A defense mechanism

Rigid behavior is a defense mechanism in the effort to maintain a strong, consistent, positively valued sense of self. People who are strongly preoccupied with being in control may be struggling against more powerful temptations toward self-indulgence than most of us face.