You really can convince yourself to be happier, especially if you’re listening to an upbeat song while doing so.
Instead of spending months learning how to lucid dream, take advantage of this great way to start dreaming consciously.
This pair of studies suggests that even minimal cues of psychological distance can make us more creative. Although the geographical origin of the various tasks was completely irrelevant – it shouldn’t have mattered where the questions came from – simply telling subjects that they came from somewhere far away led to more creative thoughts.
Finding a job is so 20th century. That is why young people today need to be more “innovation ready” than “college ready.”
A new study shows that personality isn’t a two-party act and never has been.
News is bad for you. It leads to fear and aggression. It hinders your creativity and makes you sick. We should stop consuming it, says Rolf Dobelli, who’s abstained for years.
Why are credit cards, televisions, books, and iPods shaped the same way? They all form a “golden rectangle”—a phenomenon we’ve recognized for millennia. But why are we so obsessed with these rectangles in our media? In 2009, Duke University researchers discovered a practical explanation. Humans can process information inside these rectangles, like text in a paragraph, very efficiently. In this case, we’re drawn to a lighter cognitive load. We like books because they actually look easy to read.
It’s just one of many examples given by Lance Hosey from The New York Times in a recent column. Through a series of research vignettes, he presents beautiful design as an evolutionary imperative beyond this caveman ideal of needing sharper rocks to better kill mastodons.
On the evening of April 8, 1999, a long line of Town Cars and taxis pulled up to the Minneapolis headquarters of Pillsbury and discharged 11 men who controlled America’s largest food companies. Nestlé was in attendance, as were Kraft and Nabisco, General Mills and Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars. Rivals any other day, the C.E.O.’s and company presidents had come together for a rare, private meeting. On the agenda was one item: the emerging obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. While the atmosphere was cordial, the men assembled were hardly friends. Their stature was defined by their skill in fighting one another for what they called “stomach share” — the amount of digestive space that any one company’s brand can grab from the competition.
I doubt anyone reading this will claim never to have thought, regarding some experience, “I wish this would last forever.” But most of us don’t take that wish very seriously. We seem instinctively to know that it is the kind of desire that collapses under a moment’s thought.
Imagine you’re sitting in the sun, holding your partner’s hand, thinking, I wish this would last forever. Now imagine that a genie grants your wish. Wonderful! No clouds dim the sun, you sigh happily, the pleasant feeling lasts. Then you begin to feel an uncomfortable pressure in your bladder. Your neck starts to ache. You get bored. Your partner’s hand grows sweaty. Soon you’re desperately wishing you could get up, get away from this hell.
Emilio Ferrer, a psychology professor at University of California, Davis, who has conducted a series of studies on couples in romantic relationships, finds that couples connected to monitors measuring heart rates and respiration get their heart rate in sync, and they breathe in and out at the same intervals.
To collect the data, the researchers conducted a series of exercises, sitting 32 heterosexual couples a few feet away from each other in a quiet, calm room. The couples did not speak or touch.
“We’ve seen a lot of research that one person in a relationship can experience what the other person is experiencing emotionally, but this study shows they also share experiences at a physiological level,” Ferrer says.
“Why is every superhero movie an origin story?” complained Entertainment Weekly film critic Adam Markovitz after seeing a trailer for this summer’s Man of Steel—yet another version of the 75-year-old Superman saga. Perhaps we love origin stories, Markovitz suggested, because they “show the exact moment when a normal guy goes from being Just Like Us to being somehow better, faster, stronger.”
“On a really great day, it feels like I and the band are the music,” said Death Cab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard about performing live. “I feel it on a very spiritual level.”
Musicians, of course, are excused for, even expected to talk like this. Sex and drugs and rock and roll, and all that.
But if you’re familiar with the concept of flow, you’ll notice that Gibbard’s description of a great show sounds like athletes’ descriptions of a great training session or competition — total immersion in the task such that the barrier between actor and act disappears. According to a study published in Evolutionary Psychology, there’s more than a metaphorical match between Gibbard’s in-the-moment music making and the pleasing wash of a good workout. Performing music, the study’s authors say, releases endorphins, the body’s natural opiates responsible for the famous runner’s high.
Maybe it was because they had met on OkCupid. But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one.
“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”
Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”
According to a study published by a team of psychologists, musicians playing different parts of a duet aren’t just syncing time — they synchronise brainwaves.
Johanna Sänger of Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development gathered 32 guitarists and arranged them in pairs to play Sonata in G Major by Christian Gottlieb Scheidler. Each musician was hooked up to electrodes, so Sänger and her team could monitor their brain activity the 60 times they were asked to play the composition. An earlier study from the Institute had already demonstrated that guitarists playing the exact same tune begin to share brainwave patterns. However, in this study Sänger asked the musicians to play different parts from the same piece of music. As well as playing totally different notes, one was asked to take the lead and set the tempo for the other to follow. Her hypothesis was that, if the brainwave patterns again aligned, then it would demonstrate they have an inherently important role in musicians’ “interpersonally coordinated behaviour” — or, their ability to play well as a pair. All pairs did in fact present with synchronised brain oscillations.
“When people coordinate their own actions, small networks between brain regions are formed,” said Sänger. “But we also observed similar network properties between the brains of the individual players, especially when mutual coordination is very important; for example at the joint onset of a piece of music.”
The synchronisation is known as “phase locking”, and took place largely where the frontal and central electrodes were placed (the frontal lobe is responsible for retaining long term memory, aligning emotion memory with social norms and predicting an action’s consequences).
Fantastic article in this month’s Esquire Magazine on “the new narcissism.”
Television is inherently an act of narcissism. It both feeds and fuels what Freud described as the core of the narcissistic personality — “the delusion of being watched.” Television’s narcissism is currently shifting ground. This month, The Carrie Diaries relaunches the Sex and the City franchise while Girls starts up its second season. The contrast is stark: In the old narcissism, we have dumb, beautiful moneyed people trying to become more beautiful and more moneyed. In the new narcissism, we have smart, unattractive poor people trying to confront their pervasive, intense self-obsession. All of the best shows on television, the most urgent, most relevant pop culture of the moment — Louie, Community, the upcoming season of Arrested Development — reflect us as we are: narcissists in search of a cure from ourselves.