Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation

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June 21, 2022 00:13:07
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Topless Mom Saving Her Pet Goose and Smile Like You're Happy, Damn It

It actually works. Back in 1862 Duchenne De Boulogne noticed that certain muscles in our face engaged whenever we were joyous. It was an involuntary reaction of our cheek muscles, the zygomatic major, and the orbicularis oculi. That’s a muscle right in front of our temples and below our eye. And when those cheek muscles and that special little muscle engage? That’s when we smile. The weird thing is this is a human universal. It happens all over the world despite gender, sex, culture, race, etc. The weird thing is that if we make ourselves smile like this, with those muscles engaged, we actually usually start to feel happier. The process reverses. There’s a guy who teaches the Introduction the Art of Happiness at a Harvard X class, Arthur Brooks, who has an experiment where you take a pencil and hold it between your teeth and you keep it there for 45 seconds. Do it. Seriously. When you do this you flex those muscles in your cheeks and your heart rate starts to decrease and your stress in your body? It starts to release. What does that mean? It means that happiness is a shared condition of humans around the world. It means we can see happiness expressed in people’s bodies. And finally, most importantly, we can actually make ourselves feel happier just by doing that easy dorky experiment where we hold chopsticks or a pen between our teeth. How cool is that? Brooks believes that “happiness is something that grows in us when we give it away,” and also that “happiness doesn’t just happen to you, you can manage it.”   DOG TIP FOR LIFE Manage your happiness! Work for it! Wag your tail. Grab a stick. It's awesome. LINKS https://learning.edx.org/course/course-v1:HarvardX+happy+2T2021/block-v1:[email protected][email protected]/block-v1:[email protected][email protected] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2319446/ https://nypost.com/2022/05/19/topless-mom-in-her-undies-rescues-pet-goose-from-bald-eagle/ SHOUT ...

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June 15, 2022 00:16:55
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You are so biased so how do you stop it

There’s this guy named Sid who wrote about cognitive biases over on Medium. Sid got me thinking about all the ways we make decisions based on wrong assumptions or biases. He lays out ten, right? And I just wanted to talk about the first two this week and maybe make this a series. Why? Well, because as Sid says, “Being aware of our cognitive biases helps to recognize their power in shaping our thoughts, opinions, attitudes and the decisions we make. Let’s check out these effects by analyzing ten cognitive biases that shape our world today.” So, those first two are: The Availability Heuristic The Affect Heuristic. Let's start with the first one. The availability heuristic  According to the Decision Lab, the availability heuristic is a bias that “describes our tendency to use information that comes to mind quickly and easily when making decisions about the future.” It’s basically memorable moments that are made influence our decisions in ways that they shouldn’t. The decision lab has a great example. “Imagine you are considering either John or Jane, two employees at your company, for a promotion. Both have a steady employment record, though Jane has been the highest performer in her department during her tenure. However, in Jane’s first year, she unwittingly deleted a company project when her computer crashed. The vivid memory of having lost that project likely weighs more heavily on the decision to promote Jane than it should. This is due to the availability heuristic, which suggests that singular memorable moments have an outsized influence on decisions.” And this sucks because bad memories are easier to remember than good ones. And that means we aren’t making our decisions logically. This happens because our brains need shortcuts. ...

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May 24, 2022 00:14:09
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Take a Nap Like Alexander the Great and Fight Burnout

So, sometimes we burnout. We work and work and strive and strive and juggle multiple obligations and opportunities and we just stop being fully there because we’re so tired. Before I go on, let’s define burnout. I’m going to go with this definition because it's not a Medium or blogger guru, but from the National Institute of Health. “The term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. He used it to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals in “helping” professions. Doctors and nurses, for example, who sacrifice themselves for others, would often end up being “burned out” – exhausted, listless, and unable to cope. Nowadays, the term is not only used for these helping professions, or for the dark side of self-sacrifice. It can affect anyone, from stressed-out career-driven people and celebrities to overworked employees and homemakers.” That NIH article also has some nice rundown of symptoms: "Exhaustion: People affected feel drained and emotionally exhausted, unable to cope, tired and down, and don't have enough energy. Physical symptoms include things like pain and gastrointestinal (stomach or bowel) problems."Alienation from (work-related) activities: People who have burnout find their jobs increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may start being cynical about their working conditions and their colleagues. At the same time, they may increasingly distance themselves emotionally, and start feeling numb about their work."Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work, at home or when caring for family members. People with burnout are very negative about their tasks, find it hard to concentrate, are listless and lack creativity." It’s a lot like depression, right? But it’s not the same. Typically, people with burnout don’t’ feel hopeless, suicidal or have low ...

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May 18, 2022 00:14:09
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Flirts, Take Charge of Your Biological Clock.

There’s this thing called a biological clock and it’s basically the timer of a bunch of things that your body does. It controls when you go to sleep, when you shoot out an egg, when your energy is high and when it crashes. People who work third shift or whose shifts change have biological clocks that get all scattered. This happens to people who travel big distances too, right? We call it jet lag. But even in a normal day we sometimes are more energetic and sometimes we are dragging and just want to find a couch and flop on it. That clock though? It controls a lot. It also controls how alert you are, when you’re hungry or more easily stressed. It can even impact your immunity and hormones and temperature. When you understand how it works? That’s when you can figure out how to optimize your life. According to JE Driskell and B Mullen who co-authored “The efficacy of naps as a fatigue countermeasure: a meta-analytic integration” for Hum Factors, our energy levels decrease a bit when early afternoon hits. So, if you want a nap? And you can take one? That’s the time to do it. Or, it’s an okay time to text your crush or sigfig if you know they aren’t super busy. Never text when you know someone is super busy. And if you can’t take a real nap, if you can change up your work for a bit or take a break? It can really help your energy levels and focus and mood for the rest of the day. Cool, right? That is the same time of day (noon to four) when concentration becomes a long ...

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May 10, 2022 00:18:12
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You can totally hack into other people’s heads

You can totally hack into other people’s heads. It sounds dastardly, right? But you can tweak other people’s memories. On Mind Hacks, Heather Fishel cites the work of Dr. Jon Lieff and writes: “Once an event occurs and time moves on, it becomes a part of your memory. Each time you recall that event and its details—smells, sounds, details, and so on—you're not, in fact, remembering the original moment. Instead, you're recalling the last time you remembered that memory.” But it’s more than that. We tweak those memories to make better stories: Fishel says: “Wired writer Jonah Lehrer points out, human nature makes us love stories, and the more exciting and engaging a story is, the more we'll want to share it. As a result, when we recount our memories both internally and to others, we ignore any facts that don't suit the plot. Our minds allow us to toss aside any information that we dislike, replacing truth with pure fiction. Why? We simply want to fit in, and unless we change what we remember, our stories will suck.” We will tweak our own memories so we don’t look dumb, so we fit in, so we tell a better story, and we usually don’t even realize that we’re doing it.  And sometimes we have totally false memories. What is a false memory? According to VeryWellMind, false memories “are misremembered, distorted, or fabricated recollections of past events. Such memories can be trivial, such as mistakenly remembering where you put your car keys, but they can also be much more serious.” The big time consequences of false memories are the stuff of novels and tv shows: false convictions, financial loss, lawsuits, children dying in heated, locked ...

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May 04, 2022 00:18:16
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Pot Food at the Wedding and Positive Motivation Theory

Last week on WRITE BETTER NOW, we talked about fear for our characters as we write, and not all of you are writers, but I bet a lot of you are characters. Sorry! We couldn’t help teasing you there. Anyway, FEAR is great when it comes to writing novels and short stories and getting our characters to do things proactively on the page. But in real life? Eh . . . It can be a problem. A lot of us use fear to motivate us to do things. Sometimes we do this consciously. Sometimes we do this subconsciously. But it’s basically the act of doing things because we don’t want an outcome that we’re afraid of. Like what? We go to work because we’re afraid of losing our house to bankruptcy. We go on a diet because we’re afraid of people’s scorn if we’re at our maximum density. We are kind to our spouse when they are being a putz because we’re afraid of being alone. And all those things? They are stressful. It stresses you out if you’re always doing things because you’re afraid. And it also stresses you out if you’re always not doing things because you’re afraid. Fear may keep you employed, fit, and in a relationship (albeit a potentially toxic one), but it’s not super helpful if you’re trying to not be anxious and stressed. So, how do you motivate yourself instead? One cool way is protection motivation theory. What’s that? According to CommunicationTheory.org, “The theory therefore says that in order for an individual to adopt a health behavior, they need to believe that there is a severe threat that is likely to occur and that by adopting a health behavior, they ...

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