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Mon, 20 Feb 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


How to be successful without sacrificing your well-being

© Unknown
In the last year, have you felt stressed, burnt out, or exhausted? You're not alone. Burnout levels are on the increase across professions, and a Gallup poll shows that more than 70% of the Americans feel disengaged at work. In our pursuit of success, we are wearing ourselves out. But everyone seems to be moving at the same alarming speed. Our health and well-being suffers, but it feels like there simply is no choice and no alternative: We just have to keep going. So we pour ourselves more coffee and keep at it.

However, research shows that we have it all wrong. We have the misconception that, in order to be successful, we have to postpone our happiness and well-being. Here are the six myths of success that we tend to fall for.

Never stop accomplishing. Stay continuously focused on getting things done. To achieve more and stay competitive, you've got to move quickly from one to-do to another, always keeping an eye on what's next.

Comment: Further reading:

Heart - Black

Is love even possible in our narcissistic culture?

© Unknown
We seem to be living in a more and more narcissistic culture. And evidence from numerous sources suggest that self-centeredness and narcissism are at an all-time high. Research by Professor Jean Twenge at San Diego State among others have demonstrated that our culture has become more and more interested in themselves and less and less interested in others. Furthermore, our Hollywood celebrities, sports stars, and politicians seem to be putting on an effective and ongoing clinic on how to be completely self focused. The frequent narcissistic comments of so many people in the daily news (including presidential candidates) are really quite breathtaking. Selfie and Facebook culture provides venues for additional reinforcement of self-focus.

One of the unintended consequences of our increasingly narcissistic culture is the lack of interest in others, the common good, and quite possibly romance as well. After all, if you are so self-centered and focused on your own needs and desires to the exclusion of others how can you possibly negotiate the important give and take that goes with any healthy loving relationship? How can a narcissist maintain interest and concern for anyone else and to do so in a sustainable way? We know that traditional dating culture among youth is much less common than it used to be while casual hook-ups are much more commonplace. The widespread use of and rise in online pornography also fits this more self-centered approach to sexual and lack of relationship behavior.

Therefore, as our culture and community gets more narcissistic where egoism rules the day, the ability and interest to engage in collaborative, loving, giving, and sometimes selfless intimate relationships become more and more challenging to negotiate and sustain.

Comment: Further reading:

People 2

Compassion is essential to our evolution as a species

With the U.S. celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it felt like a good week to take up the question of compassion. In a week when we commemorate high human virtue (not to mention lend each other support during our biggest community endeavor of the year), what does it mean to offer compassion—and how did this inclination develop?

While compassion is defined a number of ways, the genuine crux of it is the concern we have for others' struggles and suffering coupled with the desire to lend help or support in some regard. Rather than the "vicarious" emotional experience of another's difficulties (sympathy or empathy, depending on who you talk to) or the actions we take in response to our concern for another's situation (altruism), compassion records us more in the role of supportive witness—and perhaps motivated actor on another's behalf. While today we consider compassion one of the most esteemed human traits, what were its origins? Is this really a product of evolutionary forces rather than cultural response? How could it have grown out of the rough and tough, survival-of-the-fittest world of Grok's day?

The answer may be something of both nature and nurture, but make no mistake. The roots of compassion are pure genetic instinct even if modern society extends the context for compassionate exchange. Experts associate the development of compassion with a wide variety of key social dimensions within expanding human social organization. They note that compassion stands as its own emotion, differentiated from easily related feelings like sadness or even love.


People 2

That incredible thing we do during conversations

© goodnewsshared.com
It is much more than just stimulus and response!
When we take turns speaking, we chime in after a culturally universal short gap.

One of the greatest human skills becomes evident during conversations. It's there, not in what we say but in what we don't. It's there in the pauses, the silences, the gaps between the end of my words and the start of yours.

When we talk we take turns, where the "right" to speak flips back and forth between partners. This conversational pitter-patter is so familiar and seemingly unremarkable that we rarely remark on it. But consider the timing: On average, each turn lasts for around 2 seconds, and the typical gap between them is just 200 milliseconds—barely enough time to utter a syllable. That figure is nigh-universal. It exists across cultures, with only slight variations. It's even there in sign-language conversations.

"It's the minimum human response time to anything," says Stephen Levinson from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. It's the time that runners take to respond to a starting pistol—and that's just a simple signal. If you gave them a two-way choice—say, run on green but stay on red—they'd take longer to pick the right response. Conversations have a far greater number of possible responses, which ought to saddle us with lengthy gaps between turns. Those don't exist because we build our responses during our partner's turn. We listen to their words while simultaneously crafting our own, so that when our opportunity comes, we seize it as quickly as it's physically possible to.

"When you take into account the complexity of what's going into these short turns, you start to realize that this is an elite behavior," says Levinson. "Dolphins can swim amazingly fast, and eagles can fly as high as a jet, but this is our trick."

Comment: See also: How we think before we speak


Other-focused people experience greater emotional complexity says study

© ideachampions.com
Many Western cultures see these feelings as suggesting indecision, but that's not accurate new research finds.

Mixed emotions are a sign of emotional complexity, a new study finds.They are not necessarily a sign of indecision.

People experiencing higher emotional complexity are also better able to control their emotions and have a lower incidence of depression, other studies have found.

The new conclusions come from researchers who looked at 16 different cultures, including the US, Canada and the UK.

Professor Igor Grossmann, who led the study, said:
"People in many western countries see mixed feelings as undesirable — as if to suggest that someone experiencing mixed feelings is wishy-washy.

Actually, we found that both westerners and non-westerners who show mixed feelings are better able to differentiate their emotions and experience their lives in an emotionally rich and balanced fashion."
People living in cultures which are self-oriented — like the US, Canada and the UK — experienced less emotional complexity, on average.

Comment: See also: Psychological well-being and empathy

Light Saber

Focus on the meaningful: Choose to spend your limited time wisely

There's a meme that started way back in 2007 talking about a professor who fills up a jar full of golf balls, pebbles, and sand to demonstrate that you should fill your life with the important things first (the larger golf balls), so that the little things (the pebbles and sand) don't take up all the room in your life (the jar).

There's a reason memes become popular and get shared online — because there is some kind of universal truth connected to them that people recognize. This clever story of a jar and golf balls is just such a meme.

You have a very short time on this planet — much shorter than you realize when you take into account the tens of thousands of years of civilization before you were born, and the likely tens of thousands of years in the future. How are you going to spend that time? What kind of things will you spend most days focusing on — the little, useless things, or the bigger, meaningful stuff?

Comment: Priorities become crystal clear when people know their days are numbered: The common regrets of the terminally ill


Maternal happiness dips when kids are in middle school

Think back to your middle school or early teenage years. You might have been worried about your grades, or how you came across to everyone else, or why you were suddenly sprouting body hair all over the place, or how incredibly annoying your parents suddenly seemed. Whatever was on your mind, there's a good chance you don't recall those years as among your favorites.

You're not the only one who isn't thrilled with the adolescent experience, psychologists are finding. And if you happen to now be a mother with kids approaching middle school, your happiness might be about to dip again.

In fact, how well-adjusted moms are can depend a lot on what developmental stage their kids are going through, psychologists at Arizona State University in Tempe report in a new study. In a survey of many aspects of wellbeing and satisfaction, moms with kids in middle school faced drops in many areas, while those with adult children and infants fared the best.

Alarm Clock

Feeling stuck? Focus on action rather than outcome

© Kostas Nikellis
"This is a holy moment. A sacramental moment. A moment in which a man feels the gods as close as his own breath.

What unknowable mercy has spared us this day? What clemency of the divine has turned the enemy's spear one handbreadth from our throat and driven it fatally into the breast of the beloved comrade at our side? Why are we still here above the earth, we who are no better, no braver, who reverenced heaven no more than these our brothers whom the gods have dispatched to hell?"
In this speech from Steven Pressfield's gripping, well-researched re-telling of the Battle of Thermopylae (Gates of Fire), the Spartan King Leonidas addresses his troops after a victory. He is reflecting on the fact that when you do battle in chaos, Lady Fortuna and skill have an equal say in the outcome. Pressfield explains this dynamic in his equally worthwhile non-fiction work, The Warrior Ethos:
"In the era before gunpowder, all killing was of necessity done hand to hand. For a Greek or Roman warrior to slay his enemy, he had to get so close that there was an equal chance that the enemy's sword or spear would kill him. This produced an ideal of manly virtue - andreia, in Greek - that prized valor and honor as highly as victory."
Andreia meant that judgment was based on actions taken — not outcomes. Society understood that the outcome was, at least in part, in the hands of the gods. What was in a man's control was how he acted.

Comment: Also see Why we make plans but don't take action

Black Cat 2

Meet the animal whisperers: Interspecies communicators illustrate how the entire world is conscious

Many animal communicators have demonstrated that is is possible to fully communicate with animals (just as with people), hearing their words & thoughts in a telepathic or energetic way.

Animal communicators are people who can fully communicate with an animal just as they would with a normal human person. The communication is telepathic and 2-way; the animal communicators can both "speak" (by sending thought out towards the animal) and "hear" (by receiving thought in from the animal). Animal communicators have most likely existed for a long time, probably in every single culture in the world. It is only in our modern Western materialistic culture, which has been influenced by mainstream institutions of religion and science based on perceiving a reality of separateness, that such a possibility seems so outlandish. However, as the following examples show, animal communication, also known as interspecies communication, is a very real phenomenon. These animal communicators are able to access knowledge from and about the animal which they could not possibly have otherwise known.

Comment: See also:

Arrow Up

Overcoming hidden obstacles on the path to achieving your goals

Grow where you are
This time of year is all about knowing what we want for ourselves. We rightfully accept the window for change and wonder what kind of transformation we're ready for—what measures we're willing to commit to, what possibilities exist if we're willing to go down that road. And so we daydream. We imagine what it would be like to feel better/fitter/healthier than we do right now. We think about how life would be different. We start to mentally put the pieces in place—how we'd go about this endeavor. How bold are we willing to be? Where will the energy, support, ideas and resources to fuel this venture come from? Maybe it's at this stage or maybe even after we get started, but all too often some other element eventually weaves its way into the picture. Self-doubt, pessimism, compromise, sabotage begins trickling into our process. Our hidden, well-worn obstacles start popping up.

It seems like a universal dictum. When you start to make positive change, you're going to get pushback. It's not a magical force thing. The fact is, you're rocking the boat. Your attempt to change, no matter how small, is throwing off the dysfunctional equilibrium you've been living with. Somewhere along the line you got used to how you live and how you feel. Inertia is as much a psychological as a physical phenomenon.

Change your ways, and it's as if all the mental bogeys and old patterns wiggle their way to the forefront to register their agitation. Maybe even the basic, external logistics of change become a knotted mess temporarily. It can feel like the universe is on a targeted mission to crush your good intentions.

Personally, I don't think the universe has it out for you, but I'd make this suggestion. Expect pushback and learn to roll with it.

Comment: The first part of self-change may be setting an Aim, so that you know where you want to go. Make it something achievable, but not too easy, so that you set yourself up for success rather than failure, and keep building from there. Then, just keep making daily choices that point you in the direction of your Aim, taking baby steps to get there if necessary, and soon enough you may find that you're in a completely different reality from the one that you started in.