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Thu, 17 Aug 2017
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How laughter brings us together

Victor Borge once wrote, "Laughter is the closest distance between two people." Many of us would probably agree that laughter brings us closer to others, whether we're joking with our spouse or laughing with an audience at a comedy club.

Yet laughter isn't always positive for relationships. Think of your friend laughing at your embarrassing fashion faux pas, or a boyfriend laughing at a comedian you find offensive. This kind of unshared laughter can have the opposite effect.

Now, a new study explores when laughter works as a social glue—and when it doesn't. While all genuine laughter may help us to feel good, shared laughter may communicate to others that we have a similar worldview, which strengthens our relationships.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, devised a way to produce shared laughter in the lab, to measure experimentally how it might impact a relationship with a stranger.

Mr. Potato

"We're giving our kids bad advice about how to succeed in life" -- A leading happiness researcher

© AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty
Most kids could use some more time to do nothing.
Most parents want their kids to be successful in life—and so we teach them attitudes that we believe will help them achieve their goals. But as I learned while researching my book The Happiness Track, many widely-held theories about what it takes to be successful are proving to be counterproductive.

Sure, they may produce results in the short term. But eventually, they lead to burnout and—get this—less success. Here are a few of the most damaging things many of us are currently teaching our children about success, and what to teach them instead.

Snow Globe

Cognitive bias and the links between intelligence and prejudice

© Pixabay/CC BY SA
Human judgement often becomes less accurate when we train it on ourselves. Self appraisals commonly flatter our strengths and minimise our weaknesses. The average man overstates his height by 1.2cm and the average woman understates her weight by 1.4kg.

Judgements of our bodily dimensions may be prone to distortion but they are constrained by the brute facts of physical reality. A short person cannot claim to be tall without losing credibility.

However, when we judge our psychological characteristics we are not constrained in the same way. We may be remarkably inaccurate in our self assessments, as if we were observing our mental capacities in a fun-house mirror.

Self-assessed intelligence

These judgement biases have been studied in assessments of general cognitive ability or intelligence. Intelligence can be assessed formally using psychometric tests but it can also be informally estimated. Researchers have examined whether people's estimates of their intelligence accurately reflect their psychometric intelligence.

Comment: See also: 58 cognitive biases that screw up everything we do


Wine n Glass

Twenty things people notice when they quit the booze

Of all the culturally conditioned behaviors we've mindlessly adopted, alcoholism is one of the most curious. We know it is highly detrimental to personal health and that it directly contributes to myriad societal problems including violence and drunk driving. We also know that the alcohol industry is exceptionally lucrative while at the same time the police state uses this addiction to extend their authority.

Some argue that alcoholism is a spiritual disease, and that the consumption of 'spirits' is a means of giving the self up to our inner demons. Dr. Gabor Maté sees alcoholism as a means of covering up personal trauma and emotional pain, yet even without getting too deep into this it's easy to see that abstaining from booze has some pretty incredible benefits for those seeking better health and greater awareness in life.


But what do dedicated social drinkers and outright alcoholics see when they give up 'spirits,' as they are called, and what can the observations from newly sober people tell us about the sicknesses running rampant in our society? What can we learn from them about the conditioned

Comment:


Umbrella

When is stress good for you?

© Photo by Paul Furborough/EyeEm/Getty
Breaking point.
The subtle flows and toxic hits of stress get under the skin, making and breaking the body and brain over a lifetime.

Stress pervades our lives. We become anxious when we hear of violence, chaos or discord. And, in our relatively secure world, the pace of life and its demands often lead us to feel that there is too much to do in too little time. This disrupts our natural biological rhythms and encourages unhealthy behaviours, such as eating too much of the wrong things, neglecting exercise and missing out on sleep.

Comment: Face life with Éiriú Eolas, a stress relief program


Apple Red

The Devouring Mother: Understanding the psychological archetypes of consciousness

The following is a talk hosted by Theryn Meyer in Vancouver with Dr. Jordan B. Peterson on the topic of the devouring mother. While this might seem like some obscure psychological discussion, with no bearing on your personal reality, I can assure you nothing could be further from the truth. The human psyche is fundamentally the same, at its core level, which means that people tend to act in similar ways given certain conditions—this is the basis for social engineering and propaganda. Insofar as this topic is concerned, the devouring mother is something almost everyone faces in their lives and has played a major role in shaping the world for millennia.

From a psychological perspective, war and the lust for it is driven by a deep need for social acceptance. In society this comes in the form of the motherland, who demands of her children-citizens that they honor their obligations to the state, one of which being the need to go to war so as to prove one's worth to society.

Comment: If you'd like to see a real-life example of the 'devouring mother' archetype in action through a single person, read this article:


Brain

New research shows PTSD might physically change the brain

Post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health condition triggered by witnessing or living through a traumatic event, is linked to a host of emotional side effects, including anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares. Now, new research indicates PTSD might physically change the brain, too.

Researchers at University of California San Diego Health took brain scans of 89 former or current military members with mild traumatic brain injuries, and used a symptom scale to identify 29 of those individuals as having significant PTSD. After measuring the participants' brains, the researchers found individuals with PTSD had a larger amygdala, which is the region of the brain associated with controlling emotions, including fear.

"It could be that individuals prone to PTSD symptoms after a head injury have a larger amygdala to begin with, that they have a brain primed to respond to fear and startle reflexes in an exaggerated fashion," Dr. Douglas Chang, study author, professor and chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation service at UC San Diego Health, told HuffPost.

"Or these results could be the result of neuroplasticity, of a brain reaction to fear conditions resulting in growth of the neural networks of the amygdala fear processing organ."

Key

Counter-intuitive: Why "positive thinking" is terrible advice

© wsj.com
Have you ever been told to just "think positive" and your problems will go away?

Or that to achieve your goals in life, all you have to do is visualize it with positive intent?

It's a philosophy that's been popular for decades thanks to books like How to win Friends and Influence People and Think and Grow Rich.

But is it really helping us live more meaningful and fulfilling lives? Not exactly.

In fact, according to spiritual guru, Osho, it might just be one of the biggest "bullshit philosophies" there is.

Brain

Psychopaths' brain reveals source of wishful thinking behavior

Psychopaths, with their superficial charms but lack of empathy, may act the way they do because their brains are wired to overvalue immediate rewards, a new study finds.

Psychopaths' brain wiring may also lead them to avoid thinking about the consequences of their potentially immoral actions, the study found.

Psychopaths are thought to make up about 1 percent of the general population and up to 25 percent of the prison population. Scientists who investigate psychopathy commonly define people with the disorder as having a lack of conscience or remorse, as well as impulsivity or a lack of self-control, shallow experiences of emotions, superficial charm and a grandiose sense of their own worth.

More than three-quarters of incarcerated psychopaths are in prison because of a violent offense, according to a 2011 review of studies. Although not all psychopaths are violent, they can prove socially destructive in other ways, by lying, cheating and stealing, that review added.

Comment: Psychopathy is untreatable, period. In a controlled environment maybe psychopaths could do something that benefits the greater good, but we doubt it. It's time to give up the wasted idea that we can save the psychopath. They don't want to be saved! They think of us humans as something 'other' in need of adaptation to their world view. While we are busy trying to save the psychopath, they are busy trying to remake humanity in their image.

See also:


People 2

Anxiety overtakes depression as most common mental health issue for Americans

Anxiety is the new depression, with more than half of all American college students reporting anxiety.1 Recent research2 shows anxiety — characterized by constant and overwhelming worry and fear — is now 800 percent more prevalent than all forms of cancer.

A 2016 report3 by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State confirmed the trend, finding anxiety and depression are the most common concerns among college students who seek counseling.4 Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the U.S. may be as high as 40 million, or about 18 percent of the population over the age of 18, making it the most common mental illness in the nation.5,6

Fortunately, there are many treatment options available, and some of the most effective treatments are also among the safest and least expensive, and don't involve drugs.