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Fri, 24 Feb 2017
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Emotional intelligence: How smart people handle difficult people

© firstsun.com
Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people's buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus—an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small "arms" that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success—when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you're bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It's the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people—caused subjects' brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it's negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

Palette

7 Unconventional Signs You Are A Really Creative Person

Being sarcastic, ignoring deadlines and these five other unusual things are all linked to higher creativity.

Comment: See also: Everyone is born creative, but it is educated out of us at school


Family

Is Neoliberalism creating an epidemic of mental illness? Wrenching society apart

What greater indictment of a system could there be than an epidemic of mental illness? Yet plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness now strike people down all over the world. The latest, catastrophic figures for children's mental health in England reflect a global crisis.

© unknown

Better Earth

Making it a habit to be a grateful human being

How You Can Tell if Someone is Grateful

I'm terrible at gratitude.

How bad am I? I'm so bad at gratitude that most days, I don't notice the sunlight on the leaves of the Berkeley oaks as I ride my bike down the street. I forget to be thankful for the guy who hand-brews that delicious cup of coffee I drink mid-way through every weekday morning. I don't even know the dude's name!

I usually take for granted that I have legs to walk on, eyes to see with, arms I can use to hug my son. I forget my son! Well, I don't actually forget about him, at least as a physical presence; I generally remember to pick him up from school and feed him dinner. But as I face the quotidian slings and arrows of parenthood, I forget all the time how much he's changed my life for the better.

Gratitude (and its sibling, appreciation) is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff. It's a lens that helps us to see the things that don't make it onto our lists of problems to be solved. It's a spotlight that we shine on the people who give us the good things in life. It's a bright red paintbrush we apply to otherwise-invisible blessings, like clean streets or health or enough food to eat.

Comment: See also: Can't keep your New Year's resolutions? Try being kind to yourself


Question

Quantum theory and the afterlife: What happens when we die

© HinesSight - Typepad
Soul/Body
The biggest question so many of us have in life, one that we have been seeking to answer for years: what happens when we die? Even modern day science seeks to answer this question. Where does human consciousness come from and what is its origin? Is it simply a product of the brain, or if the brain itself is a receiver of consciousness. If consciousness is not a product of the brain, it would mean that our physical bodies are not necessary for its continuation; that awareness can exist outside our bodies.

Asking these questions is fundamental to understanding the true nature of our reality, and with quantum physics gaining more popularity, questions regarding consciousness and its relationship to human physicality become increasingly relevant.

Max Planck, the theoretical physicist credited with originating quantum theory — a feat that won him the Physics Nobel Prize in 1918 — offers perhaps the best explanation for why understanding consciousness is so essential:
"I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness."
Eugene Wigner, also a theoretical physicist and mathematician, stated that it's not possible to "formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness."

Comment: See also: Researchers claim that humans have souls which can live on after death


People 2

Whether our speech is fast or slow, we say about the same

© Brown University
A new study finds that whether we talk fast or slow we all communicate about the same amount of information in a given time.
The purpose of speech is communication, not speed—so perhaps some new research findings, while counterintuitive, should come as no surprise. Whether we speak quickly or slowly, the new study suggests, we end up conveying information at about the same rate, because faster speech packs less information in each utterance.

The study suggests we tend to converse within a narrow channel of communication data so that we do not provide too much or too little information at a given time, said Uriel Cohen Priva, author of the study in the March issue of Cognition and assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences at Brown University.

"It seems the constraints on how much information per second we should transmit are fairly strict, or stricter than we thought they were," Cohen Priva said.

People 2

Listening with your eyes: One in five people may 'hear' visual movement or flashes of light

One in five people is affected by a synaesthesia-like phenomenon in which visual movements or flashes of light are "heard" as faint sounds, according to scientists.

The findings suggest that far more people than initially thought experience some form of sensory cross-wiring - which could explain the appeal of flashing musical baby toys and strobed lighting at raves.

Elliot Freeman, a cognitive neuroscientist at City University and the study's lead author, said: "A lot of us go around having senses that we do not even recognise."

More florid forms of synaesthesia, in which disparate sensory experiences are blended, are found in only about 2 - 4% of the population. To a synaesthete, the number seven might appear red, or the name Wesley might "taste" like boiled cabbage, for instance.

The latest work - only the second published on the phenomenon - suggests that many more of us experience a less intrusive version of the condition in which visual movements or flashes are accompanied by an internal soundtrack of hums, buzzes or swooshes. Since movements are very frequently accompanied by sounds in everyday life, the effect is likely to be barely discernible.

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Brain

A scientific explanation for why people cling to their political beliefs

We've all heard the phrase: "Let's not talk about politics."

A new scientific study shows why people readily abandon rationality for political beliefs. It also underscores how well Establishment forces have been able to push the populace into an 'us vs. them' mindset.

Researchers at the Brain and Creativity Institute used functional MRI - a revolutionary technique that maps the brain by coupling cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation - to find out what happens in the brain on politics.

"When people's political beliefs are challenged, their brains become active in areas that govern personal identity and emotional responses to threats, neuroscientists have found."

This would certainly explain how a hyper-partisan atmosphere breeds knee-jerk hostility, and agreement on anything becomes out of reach.

Life Preserver

Optimism and a zest for living: Life lessons from centenarians


Age is just a number, and this is clearly evident in the lives of the three centenarians interviewed in the LifeHunters video above.

Each has his or her own story — Clifford Crozier, born in 1915; Emilia Tereza Harper, born in 1913; and John Millington Denerley, born in 1914 — but you'll notice a certain "je ne sais quoi" that they all seem to share.

Positivity and strength are certainly apparent, along with a will to live and a continued interest in and curiosity about the world around them.

Even as times changed, these people kept on living, adapting to and welcoming the new phases of their lives. It's this fortitude and emotional resilience that has likely played a major role in their longevity.

Emotional Resilience and Optimism Help You Stay Young at Heart

Each of the centenarians in the video look far younger than their chronological years, and they certainly don't act their age (who knows how a 100-year-old is "supposed" to act anyway). Their positive attitudes undoubtedly are to credit for helping them stay young at heart, and research backs this up.

Key

Discontinuity effect: Making a major life change can help us break our bad habits

41% of Americans make New Year's resolutions but only 9% feel they were successful in keeping their resolutions. The problem may be in the timing. According to research being presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Annual Convention the time for successful habit change isn't based on the calendar, but on big changes to our everyday lives like moving to a new home.

"Changing your habits is very difficult," says Bas Verplanken, professor of social psychology at the University of Bath, "including finding the right moment to make a change."

Everyday choices

Habits develop when we repeat behaviors, and they are reinforced the more everything around us stays the same. Some habits are beneficial, such as brushing your teeth daily. Other habits can benefit communities and affect how we respond to decisions such as recycling, what we buy, and how we commute.

Work from Verplanken and colleagues show habits can be changed when you change the factors around the habit (location, context). Researchers call this the "discontinuity effect."

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