Daily Dose of Inspiration – Subconscious Mind — Be Inspired..!!

Originally posted on Be Inspired..!!: “There is a treasure house of power within the human mind.” You must use your conscious mind intentionally and take action to direct what your subconscious mind focuses on. You are the Captain, and your subconscious mind is the crew or team of workers deep within the hold of the…

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Daily Dose of Inspiration – Respect Yourself — Be Inspired..!!

Originally posted on Be Inspired..!!: Respect yourself and other will respect you ~ Confucius Respect starts with respect for self. A person who respects themselves is confident and has a positive attitude. When you feel good about yourself, it will in turn affect the way you treat other people. The above statement of Confucius means…

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A Bad Relationship Could Significantly Shorten Your Life

If a fraught relationship might be significantly shortening your life, are you better off alone?

Stressful Relationships vs. Isolation: The Battle for Our Lives


Source: A Bad Relationship Could Significantly Shorten Your Life

“In your everyday life, do you experience conflicts with any of the following people?”

  • Partner
  • Children
  • Other family
  • Friends
  • Neighbors

A Danish health survey asked almost 10,000 people between ages 36 and 52 to answer, “always,” “often,” “sometimes,” “seldom,” or “never” for their applicable relationships.

Eleven years later, 422 of them were no longer living. That’s a typical number. What’s compelling, Rikke Lund and her colleagues at University of Copenhagen say, is that the people who answered “always” or “often” in any of these cases were two to three times more likely to be among the dead. (And the deaths were from standard causes: cancer, heart disease, alcohol-related liver disease, etc.—not murder. Were you thinking murder?)

The association accounted for variables like cohabitation, chronic physical and mental disorders, depressive symptoms, and emotional-social support. Worries emanating from close relationships like partners or kids were more strongly related to mortality than worries from those more distant. But still, even if you are not overtly trying to kill your neighbor, it would seem that a duplicitous relationship could be ravaging you both.

Lund and other public-health researchers published this association in the current Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. They also saw a similarly morbid trend when those same 10,000 Danes answered a slightly different question: “In your everyday life, do you feel that any of those people demand too much of you or seriously worry you?” Frequent worries or demands from a partner or children were associated with 50 to 100 percent increased risk of dying during the 11-year followup.

The conclusion, then: “Stressful social relations are associated with increased mortality risk among middle-aged men and women.”We could argue all day about the definition of middle-aged here. But that would only kill us faster. Instead, stop reading this immediately and go tidy up all your relationships. If they are beyond repair, sever them completely. Then make a list of all the things you’re going to do with the extra life you just gained. If you don’t make a list, you’ll never do them.In arguably more practical terms, Lund and colleagues suggest another course of action: “Skills in handling worries and demands from close social relations as well as conflict management—within couples and families and also in local communities—may be important strategies for reducing premature deaths.”

Ruth Frith, 100, competing in the shot put final at the 2009 World Masters Games (Ho New/Reuters)

Epidemiological studies like this have told us before that stressful relationships, especially marriages, are associated with cardiovascular disease, immune dysfunction, and endocrine dysregulation. We’re not certain why. Studies have implicated inflammatory cytokines and elevations in the stress hormone cortisol. This study is unique in looking directly at death, though. It’s especially interesting because positive, protective effects of social relations on health are widely known. Like exercise, relationships shape individual health outcomes throughout life.

In isolation, most of us wither psychologically and crumble physically. In 1979, a California epidemiological study showed that the risk of death during a given period among people with the fewest social ties was more than twice as high as in those with the most. Some experts have suggested that isolation, perceived or objective, should be commonly considered alongside things like obesity as a serious health hazard. One study found social isolation was as strong of a predictor of mortality as smoking. People with heart disease are 2.4 times more likely to die of it if they are socially isolated. We could go on and on with these decades of pro-social correlations.

So the point here is relationships are like almonds. We know that if you eat almonds, you increase your odds of living longer—unless you hate almonds so much that eating them sends you into a rage, raising your blood pressure, and you eat them every day until at some point the hypertension eventually causes a stroke. Yes, just like almonds. The objective nature of what’s said or done between people converges with our personalities to create perceptions of that relationship, and that’s what matters and (seems to) significantly influence our bodies. “Certain personality traits may promote the reporting of any social relation as stressful,” the researchers write, “and therefore strong correlations between measures of stressful social relations would be expected.”

 Men did seem more physically vulnerable to worries and demands from their partner than did women, which is in keeping with a scientific understanding of men’s health as especially relationship-dependent. Men release more cortisol in response to stress than women do, and marriage has proven more beneficial to men’s health than to women’s. And it was Harry Nilsson, not Mariah Carey, who was first moved to popularize Badfinger’s “Without You” in 1971 by really drawing out the emotive i in the line, “I can’t liiive if living is without you.”

As with gender, costs and benefits of social relationships don’t play out equally across socioeconomic strata. People on the lower end have the highest levels of social stress, which Lund suggests is due to a lack of health-promoting coping strategies among people who have fewer “intrapsychic and social resources.” People disadvantaged by income, education, or occupational status have “higher social vulnerability towards several types of major personal events such as income loss, ill health, divorce and death of a loved one.”And finally, on a heartening note, people who said they “never” experience negativity from social relationships had a slightly higher mortality rate than those who “seldom” do. So a little negativity might be good. I think that’s how we know we care about people? And how we know we’re alive? I’m not sure.

James Hamblin

JAMES HAMBLIN, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk and is the author of a book by the same title

The 3 Most Common Issues We Bring to Therapists

By  Linda Esposito LCSW    From Anxiety to Zen

How we learn to trust ourselves to solve our own problems.

Source: The 3 Most Common Issues We Bring to Therapists

When it comes to mental health, we all have a daily choice: Practice peace or practice stress. As a psychotherapist, I am commonly asked for solutions to the following questions:

  1. How can I be happier?
  2. How can I learn to trust myself and others?
  3. How can I get rid of anxious thoughts so that I can focus on my priorities?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but hunkering down and working on the basic components of a satisfying life can go a long way toward achieving mental peace and emotional well-being. The following tips can help with this practice:

1. Happiness is largely determined by how you handle stress. Listen to your fears, and spend time every day quietly thinking about them. Sit with them, and maybe even thank them. Ask yourself: What lesson am I supposed to learn?

And be patient with the slow pace of problem-solving. Time moves fast when we’re having fun, but life and its problems are meant to be savored. The beauty of sitting in the muck is knowing that you’ll find your standing posture eventually. Transform your fears into faith that life will turn out OK.

2. Security. Know that the world is basically a safe place, where most people possess good will. When you trust in that, you believe that things will work out the way they are supposed to. Most important, you trust yourself to solve problems. While it can be hard to find the good in the world, especially given around-the-clock access to bad news, the truth is there are more positive events every day than dangerous, scary or negative events.

3. Direction. Listen to your thoughts; they are the cornerstone of your mental health and the key to executing a healthy plan of action. Try this three-step process to deal with your stress:

  1. Reframe. When negative thoughts invade your brain with catastrophic “what ifs,” make a conscious effort to look at the big picture. The Helicopter View exercise can help: Imagine that you’re looking down at your problem from a helicopter. As the helicopter takes off, rising higher and higher, the view zooms out to reveal a bigger and broader picture less focused on the ground-level details. When you pull back from an emotional situation, you can see things more clearly and rationally.
  2. Relinquish the need to control a situation or another person: The “my way or the highway” mindset and other inflexible, rigid, or concrete behaviors keep you miserable and stuck. Letting go provides you with the clarity and direction necessary to focus on the things within your control and let go of what you cannot control (such as people, weather, and traffic, for starters). Put your energy into what you are able to influence and be OK with being powerless over other situations. In short, stay out of your own way.
  3. Reset to relax: Take a “brain break” and experience a lighter sense of being. You are neither a prisoner nor a passive participant in your life. Seeing yourself as an active, capable member of society means you’re not confined to playing defense and waiting for the other shoe to drop. On the contrary, playing offense means your actions are calm, confident, measured, proactive, and purposeful. (Mindfulness-based exercises can help you change your mindset. Click here for a short video on the basics of meditation.)
The difference between peace and chaos can be as simple and profound as committing 10 minutes a day to practicing better mental health habits. It can help you let go of stress and clear space for peace of mind, happiness, and more fulfilling relationships.

Copyright 2016 Linda Esposito, LCSW

Linda Esposito, LCSW

Linda Esposito, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Pasadena, CA specializing in helping stressed out, sleep deprived anxious adults, and angry teens and their frustrated parents. She’s especially interested in improving our collective stress management skills, and reducing the 46 million plus prescriptions written yearly for Xanax in the US. Linda also writes for The Huffington Post, as well as her psychotherapy blog WiredforHappy.com.

It’s healthier to be sad sometimes than happy all the time

WRITTEN BY Frank T. McAndrewProfessor, Knox College

As happiness in one area of life increases, it’ll often decline in another.

Source: It’s healthier to be sad sometimes than happy all the time

In the 1990s, a psychologist named Martin Seligman led the positive psychology movement, which placed the study of human happiness squarely at the center of psychology research and theory. It continued a trend that began in the 1960s with humanistic and existential psychology, which emphasized the importance of reaching one’s innate potential and creating meaning in one’s life, respectively.

Since then, thousands of studies and hundreds of books have been published with the goal of increasing well-being and helping people lead more satisfying lives.

So why aren’t we happier? Why have self-reported measures of happiness stayed stagnant for over 40 years?

Perversely, such efforts to improve happiness could be a futile attempt to swim against the tide, as we may actually be programmed to be dissatisfied most of the time.

You can’t have it all

Part of the problem is that happiness isn’t just one thing.

Jennifer Hecht is a philosopher who studies the history of happiness. In her book The Happiness Myth, Hecht proposes that we all experience different types of happiness, but these aren’t necessarily complementary. Some types of happiness may even conflict with one another. In other words, having too much of one type of happiness may undermine our ability to have enough of the others—so it’s impossible for us to simultaneously have all types of happiness in great quantities.

For example, a satisfying life built on a successful career and a good marriage is something that unfolds over a long period of time. It takes a lot of work, and it often requires avoiding hedonistic pleasures like partying or going on spur-of-the-moment trips. It also means you can’t while away too much of your time spending one pleasant lazy day after another in the company of good friends.

On the other hand, keeping your nose to the grindstone demands that you cut back on many of life’s pleasures. Relaxing days and friendships may fall by the wayside. As happiness in one area of life increases, it’ll often decline in another.

A rosy past, a future brimming with potential

This dilemma is further confounded by the way our brains process the experience of happiness. By way of illustration, consider the following examples.

We’ve all started a sentence with the phrase “Won’t it be great when…” (I go to college, fall in love, have kids, etc.). Similarly, we often hear older people start sentences with this phrase “Wasn’t it great when…” Think about how seldom you hear anyone say, “Isn’t this great, right now?” Surely, our past and future aren’t always better than the present. Yet we continue to think that this is the case.

These are the bricks that wall off harsh reality from the part of our mind that thinks about past and future happiness. Entire religions have been constructed from them. Whether we’re talking about our ancestral Garden of Eden (when things were great!) or the promise of unfathomable future happiness in Heaven, Valhalla, Jannah, or Vaikuntha, eternal happiness is always the carrot dangling from the end of the divine stick.

There’s evidence for why our brains operate this way; most of us possess something called the optimism bias, which is the tendency to think that our future will be better than our present.

To demonstrate this phenomenon to my classes, at the beginning of a new term I’ll tell my students the average grade received by all students in my class over the past three years. I then ask them to anonymously report the grade that they expect to receive. The demonstration works like a charm: Without fail, the expected grades are far higher than one would reasonably expect, given the evidence at hand. And yet, we believe.

Cognitive psychologists have also identified something called the Pollyanna Principle. It means that we process, rehearse, and remember pleasant information from the past more than unpleasant information. (An exception to this occurs in depressed individuals who often fixate on past failures and disappointments.)

For most of us, however, the reason that the good old days seem so good is that we focus on the pleasant stuff and tend to forget the day-to-day unpleasantness.

Self-delusion as an evolutionary advantage?

These delusions about the past and the future could be an adaptive part of the human psyche, with innocent self-deceptions actually enabling us to keep striving. If our past is great and our future can be even better, then we can work our way out of the unpleasant—or at least, mundane—present.

All of this tells us something about the fleeting nature of happiness. Emotion researchers have long known about something called the hedonic treadmill. We work very hard to reach a goal, anticipating the happiness it will bring. Unfortunately, after a brief fix we quickly slide back to our baseline, ordinary way-of-being and start chasing the next thing we believe will almost certainly—and finally—make us happy.

My students absolutely hate hearing about this. They get bummed out when I imply that however happy they are right now is probably about how happy they will be 20 years from now. (Next time, perhaps I will reassure them that in the future they’ll remember being very happy in college!)

Nevertheless, studies of lottery winners and other individuals at the top of their game—those who seem to have it all—regularly throw cold water on the dream that getting what we really want will change our lives and make us happier. These studies found that positive events like winning a million bucks and unfortunate events such as being paralyzed in an accident do not significantly affect an individual’s long-term level of happiness.

Assistant professors who dream of attaining tenure and lawyers who dream of making partner often find themselves wondering why they were in such a hurry. After finally publishing a book, it was depressing for me to realize how quickly my attitude went from “I’m a guy who wrote a book!” to “I’m a guy who’s only written one book.”

But this is how it should be, at least from an evolutionary perspective. Dissatisfaction with the present and dreams of the future are what keep us motivated, while warm fuzzy memories of the past reassure us that the feelings we seek can be had. In fact, perpetual bliss would completely undermine our will to accomplish anything at all; among our earliest ancestors, those who were perfectly content may have been left in the dust.

This shouldn’t be depressing; quite the contrary. Recognizing that happiness exists—and that it’s a delightful visitor that never overstays its welcome—may help us appreciate it more when it arrives.

Furthermore, understanding that it’s impossible to have happiness in all aspects of life can help you enjoy the happiness that has touched you. Recognizing that no one “has it all” can cut down on the one thing psychologists know impedes happiness: envy.

The ConversationThis post originally appeared at The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

14 psychological reasons why good people do bad things

What causes these smart, successful people to get wrapped up in illegal activities and unethical behavior?


Why do good people do bad things? Oftentimes it stems from one of many psychological phenomena.

Source: 14 psychological reasons why good people do bad things

It’s an old story: the star executive who gets caught waist-deep in a fraud scandal; the finance phenom who steals millions by skimming off the top.

What causes these smart, successful people to get wrapped up in illegal activities and unethical behavior? Dr. Muel Kaptein of the Rotterdam School of Management tackled this question in a paper about why good people do bad things.

These major crimes usually escalate from smaller offenses or lapses in judgment that are rationalized by a slew of psychological reasons.

Business Insider collected 14 insights from Kaptein that explain a few of the various reasons why good people lie, cheat, and steal.

This is an update of a story originally reported by Max Nisen and Aimee Groth. 

The Galatea effect

Self image determines behavior. People who have a strong sense of themselves as individuals are less likely to do unethical things.

Alternatively, employees who see themselves as determined by their environment or having their choices made for them are more likely to bend the rules, as they feel less individually responsible.

Source: Muel Kaptein

Social bond theory

In large organizations, employees can begin to feel more like numbers or cogs in a machine than individuals.

When people feel detached from the goals and leadership of their wo

rkplace, they are more likely to commit fraud, steal, or hurt the company via neglect.

Source: Muel Kaptein

The power of names

When bribery becomes “greasing the wheels” or accounting fraud becomes “financial engineering,” unethical behavior may be seen in a more positive light.

The use of nicknames and euphemisms for questionable practices can free them of their moral connotations, making them seem more acceptable.

Source: Muel Kaptein

Environmental influence

Employees reflect their environment. If corruption, major or minor, is a part of their workplace, they become blind to its occurrence and its possible costs.

A study incorporating participants from a variety of countries found that the less transparent and more corrupt the participant’s country of origin, the more willing they were to accept or give bribes.

Source: Muel Kaptein

The compensation effect

John Raoux/AP

Sometimes people, having been moral and forthright in their dealings for a long time, feel as if they have banked up some kind of “ethical credit,” which they may use to justify immoral behavior in the future.

An experiment from Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong found that people who have just bought sustainable products tend to lie and steal more afterwards than those who bought standard versions.

Source: Muel Kaptein

Acceptance of small theft

There are dozens of small temptations in any workplace. Stationery, sugar packets, and toilet paper frequently go home with employees.

Those small thefts are ignored. So are slightly larger ones, like over-claiming expenses or accepting unauthorized business gifts. It doesn’t take long for people to begin pushing those limits.

Source: Muel Kaptein

Reactance theory

Abbas Atilay/AP

Rules are designed to prevent unethical behavior, but when they’re seen as unjust or excessive they can provoke the opposite reaction.

This is known as reactance theory. People resent threats to their freedom, and they often manifest that resistance by flouting certain rules.

Source: Muel Kaptein

Tunnel vision

Setting and achieving goals is important, but single-minded focus on them can blind people to ethical concerns.

When Enron offered large bonuses to employees for bringing in sales, they became so focused on that goal that they forgot to make sure they were profitable or moral. We all know how that ended.

Source: Muel Kaptein 

The blinding effect of power

Powerful people appear more corrupt because they’re caught more publicly. However, a recent study found that when given power, people set ethical rules much higher for others than they do themselves.

If someone is influential and sets rules for others, they can begin to see themselves as morally distinct from their employees, and not subject to the same rules.

Source: Muel Kaptein

Broken window theory

Scott Olson/Reuters

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani popularized the “broken window theory” when he led a sweeping effort to lower crime rates. The idea was to crack down on smaller, petty crimes, and clean up the city to create some semblance of order and discourage larger crimes.

When people see disorder or disorganization, they assume there is no real authority. In that environment, their threshold for overstepping legal and moral boundaries is lower.

Source: Muel Kaptein

Time pressure

In a study, a group of theology students were told to preach the story of the good Samaritan, then walk to another building where they’d be filmed. Along the way, they encountered a man in visible distress.

When given ample time, almost all helped. When they were deliberately let out late, only 63% helped. When encouraged to go as fast as possible, 90% ignored the man.

Source: Muel Kaptein

The free-rider problem

“If nobody else steals stationery, the company won’t notice if I do. If nobody else in the area pollutes, they won’t notice if a tiny bit of waste is released.”

Positive and ethical behavior can sometimes engender an opposite reaction. If total damage is limited, people feel as though they can take more liberties.  

Source: Muel Kaptein

Cognitive dissonance and rationalization

When people’s actions differ from their morals, they begin to rationalize both to protect themselves from a painful contradiction and to build up protection against accusations.

The bigger the dissonance, the larger the rationalization, and the longer it lasts, the less immoral it seems.

Source: Muel Kaptein

The Pygmalion effect

The way that people are seen and treated influences the way they act. When employees are viewed suspiciously and constantly treated like potential thieves, they are more likely to be thieves.

This effect occurs even in employees who aren’t initially inclined towards unethical behavior.

Source: Muel Kaptein

There is a second “window of opportunity” for learning in late adolescence and early adulthood

By guest blogger David Robson

We may have multiple sensitive periods for different kinds of skills depending on the brain’s development at that time. By David Robson

Source: There is a second “window of opportunity” for learning in late adolescence and early adulthood

If you want to maximise a person’s intellectual potential, the general consensus for a long time has been that you need to start young. According to this traditional view, early childhood offers a precious “window of opportunity” or “sensitive period” for learning that closes slowly as we reach adolescence. It’s the reason that toddlers find it easier to master the accent of a foreign language, for instance.

This view has even shaped educational policy. If you want to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds, for instance, some psychologists had argued that you would do better to target primary schools, with diminishing returns for interventions later in life, as if badly performing teenagers were something of a lost cause.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore at University College London has spent the last decade over-turning some of these assumptions, showing that the adolescent brain is still remarkably flexible as it undergoes profound anatomical changes. “The idea that the brain is somehow fixed in early childhood, which was an idea that was very strongly believed up until fairly recently, is completely wrong,” she told Edge in 2012. The transformation is particularly marked in the prefrontal lobes (located behind the forehead) and the parietal lobes (underneath and just behind the top of your head): two regions that are involved in abstract thought.

The upshot is that teenagers may go through a second sensitive period, in which they are particularly responsive to certain kinds of intellectual stimulation. A new paper from Blakemore’s lab, published in Psychological Science, builds on this idea, showing that our ability to learn certain kinds of analytical skills doesn’t diminish after childhood, but actually increases through adolescence and into early adulthood.

ravensThe team – led by Lisa Knoll – recruited more than 600 participants aged 11 to 33, and randomly assigned them to three groups, each trained in a different skill. They taught the first group “numerosity discrimination”, which involved rapidly guessing the number of coloured dots to appear on a screen. They trained the second group in “relational reasoning”: the ability to detect abstract rules and relationships using the kind of non-verbal puzzles (known as Raven’s Matrices) that are common in some IQ tests (see image left). The third group, meanwhile, honed their facial perception: they judged repeatedly whether two photos, shown in rapid succession, represented the same person or not.

It’s worth noting that these skills don’t require any advanced factual knowledge. Instead, they represent a broader capacity for abstract thought and pattern recognition that might be useful for many kinds of academic work.

The online training sessions were short but frequent, lasting a maximum of 12 minutes a day for 20 days. The participants were then tested – with the same kinds of puzzles used in training – shortly after they had finished their last session, and again a few months later, to see whether the skills had stuck

Sadly, the participants in the third group would have been disappointed if they ever had hopes of being a “super-recogniser” – their facial perception showed next to no improvement.

But the hard work paid off for many of the other participants: those learning the relational reasoning and the numerosity discrimination had all boosted their scores. Based on these successes, Blakemore, Knoll and colleagues next examined whether those gains depended on the participants’ age.

According to the accepted wisdom, they should have seen the greatest dividends among the youngest subjects aged 11-13, when they were closest to that childhood window of opportunity. But as the psychologists had expected, the older participants turned out to gain the most from the training. The late adolescents (aged 16-18) improved their relational reasoning by around 10 per cent, for instance: nearly twice the gains of younger participants. Even the adults in the group tended to perform better than the youngsters, suggesting that our 20s and early 30s may still be a fertile time for self-improvement.

At least in these kinds of analytical skills, the window of opportunity was still wide open, perhaps reflecting the greater neuroplasticity – the ability to forge new neural circuits – of the prefrontal cortex that Blakemore had previously observed in the brain scans. If so, it supports her idea that we may have multiple sensitive periods for different kinds of skills depending on the brain’s development at that time. As one window of opportunity closes, another may open.

There are other potential explanations, though. The researchers tried to control for the participants’ motivation, showing that the results still held when you took into account the number of completed training sessions. It seems the older participants weren’t just trying harder. But it’s also possible that the teenagers and adults had developed better cognitive strategies for learning: deliberate mental procedures that don’t necessarily reflect greater anatomical plasticity.

Given the recent controversies surrounding brain training, it’s also worth noting that we don’t know whether these improvements led to meaningful changes in other areas of the participants’ lives. Blakemore and Knoll couldn’t find any corresponding boost in working memory, for instance, and we don’t know if these abstract analytical skills would correspond to a greater aptitude for mathematics or science at school or university.

Even so, I’m intrigued about the potential implications and the promise this holds for future research, adding further evidence to the growing body of work showing that adolescence is a fascinating and potentially fertile period of intellectual growth. Contrary to our sometimes dim view of teenagers, there’s much more to those years than the acne and the angst.

A Window of Opportunity for Cognitive Training in Adolescence

Ravens pic credit: Wikipedia commons.



Post written by David Robson (@d_a_robson) for the BPS Research Digest. David is BBC Future’s associate editor.