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Fri, 24 Feb 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


The canine connection: Icebreaker for humans

People's canine companions make for good icebreakers, and can overcome the barriers humans put between themselves and strangers.

People's canine companions make for good icebreakers, and can overcome the barriers humans put between themselves and strangers.
Thirty years ago, Paul Knott broke his neck in a car accident, landing him in a wheelchair and ending his career as a firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Since then, he's gone back to school, finished his degree, started working as a "data cowboy" (his words), trained people on dispatch systems (still for CAL FIRE), and raised three Australian shepherds.

Comment: "A dog can express more with his tail in minutes than his owner can express with his tongue in hours." Anonymous

Check out more articles on "man's best friend":
  • Tail-waggers and their people share hormonal bond through mutual gazing
  • Dog 'walks 200 miles to find woman who nursed her back to health after hit-and-run accident'
  • Kids are less likely to develop Asthma if they grow up with dogs
  • Why do dogs like to sniff crotches?


Zeigarnik effect for beating procrastination: Start somewhere...anywhere!

© n/a
One weapon for beating procrastination is starting somewhere…anywhere.
What can waiters, the TV series 'Lost' and the novelist Charles Dickens teach us about avoiding procrastination?

One of the simplest methods for beating procrastination in almost any task was inspired by busy waiters.

It's called the Zeigarnik effect after a Russian psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik, who noticed an odd thing while sitting in a restaurant in Vienna. The waiters seemed only to remember orders which were in the process of being served. When completed, the orders evaporated from their memory.

Zeigarnik went back to the lab to test out a theory about what was going on. She asked participants to do twenty or so simple little tasks in the lab, like solving puzzles and stringing beads (Zeigarnik, 1927). Except some of the time they were interrupted half way through the task. Afterwards she asked them which activities they remembered doing. People were about twice as likely to remember the tasks during which they'd been interrupted than those they completed.

What does this have to do with procrastination? I'll give you another clue...


Condition yourself to overcome your fears

© Monty Pelerin's World
ReadyNutrition Readers, this is a segment that will give you a framework for dealing with fear and how to give yourself an edge. Although I am not a psychologist or sociologist, I have been trained in some techniques to help give yourself a mental edge when facing those things that trouble you the most. Keep in mind: those who have heart conditions or medical conditions requiring a physician's care should consult with their doctor prior to utilizing any information presented herein. This information is presented strictly for informational purposes only.

Fear is Healthy

That being said, what is fear? Fear is a normal emotion that is designed to protect us as a species. There is no shame in fear or being afraid, and that being said, you can learn to control your fear so that it is not a negative factor that can bring you down. Fear is designed to alert your mind and body to the fact that danger may be imminent and then is triggered the sympathetic and parasympathetic response, which is the fight or flight mechanism of your nervous system. It physiologically has to do with epinephrine and norepinephrine produced in your body, as well as your adrenal system.

Magic Wand

The Lancet: Mindfulness meditation as effective as Big Pharma

A new study published in The Lancet medical journal has found that Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may be just as effective as pharmaceuticals when it comes to preventing chronic depression relapse.

Researchers at Britain's Oxford University and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry conducted the first large-scale study to compare the treatment of chronic depression with MBCT and anti-depressants. They found very little difference in the results of the two different treatments, including a minimal difference in the cost of the mindfulness training versus the constant use of pharmaceuticals.

MBCT combines traditional Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods with psychological strategies such as mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of, and accepting of incoming thoughts without attaching or reacting to them. The practice is common among most meditation practices. MBCT was designed to help those suffering from chronic depression to learn to respond constructively to their emotions.

Comment: Breathing techniques are an integral part of a meditation practice. Practicing breathing techniques along with meditation on a regular basis can instantaneously better your mood, calm your body and tame stress. For more information about breathing techniques and the Prayer of the Soul Meditation Seed, visit the Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program website.


Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration: Wandering upward to a new you

© Travis/Flickr
This is the fourth in a series of Sunday posts about Kazimierz Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration, using as a starting point his 1967 book, Personality-Shaping through Positive Disintegration, released in a new edition as paperback and ebook. All otherwise unattributed quotations from Dabrowski in this series are from the 2015 paperback edition. You can also purchase the book as part of a larger collection of Dabrowski's works at Bill Tillier's website PositiveDisintegration.com.

Wandering Upward
"The process of personality building, therefore, is characterized by a wandering 'upward,' toward an ideal..." ~ Kazimierz Dabrowski
Chapter two of Personality-Shaping through Positive Disintegration introduces the concepts of developmental instinct, primary integration, and disintegration, all of which are important to understand in the overall process of "wandering upward" toward a personality ideal. This is also the chapter in which we learn about the role of excessive excitability (over excitability), which will be next week's topic.

Below are just a few main points and terms from the beginning of the chapter.

Comment: Previous instalments of this series:


No such thing as a 'male brain' or 'female brain' - Your brain is a mosaic of male and female

© Johan Swanepoel
There is no such thing as a "male brain" or a "female brain," new research finds.

Instead, men and women's brains are an unpredictable mishmash of malelike and femalelike features, the study concludes. Even in brain regions previously thought to show differences based on sex, variability is more common than consistency.

"Our study demonstrates that although there are sex/gender differences in brain structure, brains do not fall into two classes, one typical of males and the other typical of females, nor are they aligned along a 'male brain - female brain' continuum," the study researchers wrote today (Nov. 30) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Rather, even when considering only the small group of brain features that show the largest sex/gender differences, each brain is a unique mosaic of features, some of which may be more common in females compared with males, others may be more common in males compared with females, and still others may be common in both females and males."


Learning to notice when we are using defensive behavior to avoid emotions

Mary picks a fight with her husband at night so she doesn't have to deal with her sex anxiety. Looking for what's wrong with her husband distracts her from her discomfort and the feelings of vulnerability that are causing her anxiety in the first place. By not directly addressing her core feelings with her husband, Mary misses an opportunity to be understood and problem-solve.

Michael doesn't feel settled or at ease with himself unless he drinks beer after beer. The alcohol calms his physical tension and mental anguish, but that strategy for dealing with his underlying pain is not sustainable. Eventually his drinking will lead to health and relationship problems.

Halley stays home instead of going out on weekends because social situations stress her out. She feels safe at home and also lonely. Dealing directly with her fears would afford her the opportunity to engage more with others in a way that feels good for her.

Robert curses out strangers when he feels disrespected. Precious emotional energy is used up by his hair-trigger anger. Instead he could get curious about his overreaction. Learning to "let it go" is a valuable asset.

These are all examples of defensive behaviors.All of us use defenses to deal (or not deal) with emotions. Defenses are developed to avoid painful feelings. Defenses are brilliant adaptations our minds make to help us cope with vulnerabilities. While defenses serve a purpose, especially in the environment and at the time in which they were originally created, there is a cost for the protection they offer.


Evil Rays

Studies show that rudeness is contagious

When you see someone smiling or you hear laughter, you often can't help but smile or laugh yourself. Now scientists from the University of Florida have shown that the same applies to certain non-aggressive negative behaviors, especially rudeness.

A series of several studies conducted by researchers Trevor Foulk, Andrew Woolum and Amir Erez has shown that the exhibition of rude behavior by an individual, activates concepts associated with rudeness in the minds of others. Those being targeted by rude manners and people witnessing such behavior are equally affected. Rudeness is contagious in this manner.

The research showed that once the mind is stimulated with negative concepts, a person is more likely to interpret subsequent actions as rude, even if they are ambiguous or benign, and one is more likely to act with malevolence during interactions with others, thus further infecting them with hostility and negativity.

Comment: This trend towards greater meanness and callousness on a societal level can be termed as ponerization:
Ponerization (from ancient Greek poneros - evil), is a ponerological term coined by Dr. Andrzej M. Łobaczewski. Ponerization is the influence of pathological people on individuals and groups whereby they develop acceptance of pathological reasoning and values.


Communicating with care in your heart: The practice of love

© karenmaezenmiller.com
In all communication, there is one thing that each and every one us requires. We all want to be appreciated, honoured, and respected. None of us want to feel criticized, rejected, ignored, or manipulated. To reduce it to its simplest terms, we each want to feel loved. I do not mean love in a romantic sense, or some outpouring of emotion, but simple caring. This is the universal bottom line of every human relationship. We all want to feel cared for.

If each of us would like to be treated with care and respect, then it should be our intent to do so for others. But what often happens is the exact opposite. Instead of trying to ensure that the other person feels loved and appreciated, we end up in a vicious circle of recrimination and attack.


The unexpected gifts of imperfection

By confronting our scarier emotions — vulnerability, fear, and shame — we can learn to lead a more "wholehearted" life. Brené Brown shows us the way.

The toughest moments in life rarely feel like gifts. Whether it's losing a job, struggling through a foundering relationship, or witnessing the death of a loved one, experiences that bring us to our knees tend to trigger our defenses, not our wisdom.

And yet, when we humble ourselves enough to open up during awful times — accepting that we're vulnerable rather than lashing out or collapsing in despair — we're primed to receive "the gifts of imperfection," explains best-selling author Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW.