521 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2019
    1. Web browsers are very heavily optimized for running javascript really fast, and if I were you I would recommend using whatever makes you most efficient and happy as a developer, over what makes the browser run the least amount of code
    1. Principles of Miracles

      The goal of any journey has to be determined right at the beginning or else you wander idly as a leaf in winds. Consider carefully now: why did you take this book? You've read a lot of other books, you have been listening to many gurus, you even might belong to a religion of some sort, and yet you're here and reading this. Inquire: why?

      There is a splinter in your mind that fuels your strangeness, it does not allow you to just settle down and "live a normal life". But what's the goal of this desire? What is it that this splinter wants? The only reason that could motivate you to pick up this giant brick of paper and at least imagine taking in its yearly course is very simple: you are deeply disappointed and unsatisfied. All of those books and gurus didn't work for you, as well as many other things that you have tried in "normal life", but something deep in you continues striving forward refusing to give up, it looks for something so majestic that nothing is compared to that. Before you say this strive is meaningless and never could be reached, let me invite a simple question: what if the splinter's goal is happiness? Is this too much to ask?

      This course is a unique and absolutely self-sustained instruction for guiding you to happiness and it requires not from you to have a background in any other system of a thought. In fact, you'll do yourself a major favor if you would drop all that you've grasped before - those books and gurus failed you, hold on to it no more. Don't try to fit this course in well known patterns, accept the fact you need a teacher and open up your mind abroad. There is no stamp and sign on paper, no court supported guarantee this course is genuine, but if you follow it you'll get experience and only this can ever make you sure.

      If happiness is your desire but you do not abide in joy, then it is logical to figure: you must be doing something wrong. Depression, fear, anxiety are rather more familiar to you and so it follows that your habits and your entire thinking framework is dedicated heavily to those. There is a saying that to get a thing you never had, you gotta do what never tried. Another quote asserts: in goodness you are asked to bite the poison and after that the honey flows, while ignorance is giving you the honey barrel, but when you bite it - poison flows. To sum it up, you must be ready for a challenge, because ACIM is going to disturb, you will resist against what it is asking you and yet what if behind of your resistance is the key that's gonna make at last all of the difference in the world?

      Your past learning must have taught you the wrong things, simply because it has not made you happy. On this basis alone its value should be questioned. T-8.1.4

      You who are steadfastly devoted to misery must first recognize that you are miserable and not happy. The Holy Spirit cannot teach without this contrast, for you believe that misery is happiness.T-14.2.1

      Resign now as your own teacher. T-12.5.8

      Remember nothing that you taught yourself, for you were badly taught. T-28.1.7

      you are studying a unified thought system in which nothing is lacking that is needed, and nothing is included that is contradictory or irrelevant. W-42.7

      To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold.T-24-in.2

      If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God. T-4.1.4

      God's Will for you is perfect happiness ... You are indeed essential to God's plan. Without your joy, His joy is incomplete. Without your smile, the world cannot be saved. W-100.2,3

  2. Jul 2019
    1. An ungrounded, dangerous separation of joy from happiness has infiltrated the Christian community. The following is typical of the artificial distinctions made by modern Christians:
  3. Sep 2018
    1. But we are also hopeful that, by informing and moderating our desires, and by grasping the limits of our new powers, we can keep in mind the true meaning of our founding ideals—and thus find the means to savor the fruits of the age of biotechnology, without succumbing to its most dangerous temptations.

      This idea in the text might also largely reference the uses of drugs and medications as one means of seizing happiness---a "founding ideal". The narrator of this quote, however, emphasizes the importance in not "succumbing to its most dangerous temptations" by means of remembering the "true meaning of our founding ideals".

  4. Aug 2018
    1. Think about it this way: How much better might it feel to take a breath after making a mistake, rather than berating ourselves?“All you have to do is think of going to a friend,” Dr. Neff said. “If you said, ‘I’m feeling fat and lazy and I’m not succeeding at my job,’ and your friend said, ‘Yeah, you’re a loser. Just give up now. You’re disgusting,’ how motivating would that be?”This is the linchpin of being kinder to ourselves: Practice what it feels like to treat yourself as you might treat a friend. In order to trade in self-abuse for self-compassion, it has to be a regular habit.AdvertisementSo the next time you’re on the verge of falling into a shame spiral, think of how you’d pull your friend back from falling in, and turn that effort inward. If it feels funny the first time, give it second, third and fourth tries.And if you forget on the fifth, remember: Four tries is a lot better than zero.
    2. But it’s step three, according to Dr. Brewer, that is most important if you want to make the shift sustainable in the long term: Make a deliberate, conscious effort to recognize the difference between how you feel when caught up in self-criticism, and how you feel when you can let go of it.“That’s where you start to hack the reward-based learning system,” Dr. Brewer said.
    3. The second step to self-compassion is to meet your criticism with kindness. If your inner critic says, “You’re lazy and worthless,” respond with a reminder: “You’re doing your best” or “We all make mistakes.”
    4. 3 steps to self-compassionFirst: Make the choice that you’ll at least try a new approach to thinking about yourself. Commit to treating yourself more kindly — call it letting go of self-judgment, going easier on yourself, practicing self-compassion or whatever resonates most. To strengthen the muscle, Dr. Brewer suggests “any type of practice that helps us stay in the moment and notice what it feels like to get caught up. See how painful that is compared to being kind to ourselves.”
    5. core to self-compassion is to avoid getting caught up in our mistakes and obsessing about them until we degrade ourselves, and rather strive to let go of them so we can move onto the next productive action from a place of acceptance and clarity
    6. researchers found that “self-compassion led to greater personal improvement, in part, through heightened acceptance,” and that focusing on self-compassion “spurs positive adjustment in the face of regrets.”
    7. The solution? It’s called self-compassion: the practice of being kind and understanding to ourselves when confronted with a personal flaw or failure
    8. Evolutionary psychologists have studied our natural “negativity bias,” which is that instinct in us all that makes negative experiences seem more significant than they really are. In other words: We’ve evolved to give more weight to our flaws, mistakes and shortcomings than our successes.
  5. Apr 2018
    1. liberty to human happiness.

      I've often wondered why, and often had to be sure my students understood, that Jefferson used "the pursuit of happiness" rather than Locke's more direct reference to property rights. Obviously Mill wrote after Jefferson, so my question is did Jefferson borrow this "utilitarian" adaptation from any particular writer or thinker and were Mill & Bentham reading the same literature years later. Just curious.

  6. Nov 2017
    1. “The practical implications of this positive feedback loop could be that engaging in one kind deed (e.g., taking your mom to lunch) would make you happier, and the happier you feel, the more likely you are to do another kind act,”
    1. 'Many groups in the last decade have been keen to establish a link between kindness and happiness, including the UK government. Offering kindness to others has been explored as a possible panacea for many of our social ills, ranging from social isolation to more serious mental and physical health conditions. Our review suggests that performing acts of kindness will not change your life, but might help nudge it in the right direction. We recommend further research is done to compare the effects of being kind to family and friends as opposed to strangers. This is an area about which we know surprisingly little at the moment.'
  7. Oct 2017
    1. And generally to form them to habits of reflection, and correct action, rendering them examples of virtue to others & of happiness within themselves.

      This sentence speaks to the University's goal of not just educating people with external information, but truly building their personalities from within. The University strove to not only teach its students new knowledge, but also to develop their self-reflective and moral capabilities. Jefferson also wrote about "happiness" in the Declaration of Independence, yet here the "happiness" seems to be a more intimate, personal essence. As a student at UVa, I think it is my obligation to myself and to the university to create an environment where happiness is thriving.

  8. Sep 2017
  9. www.youthvoices.live www.youthvoices.live
    1. I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) since 2004. Neither my ASD and ADHD are as much of an impact on me now than it was several years ago, but I still carry some of the symptoms of it (Stuttering, repetitive movements, etc.), none of it being life threatening of course.

      I'm glad you don't let your disorders affect you. That you have managed to look past them nearly all together. I can relate to you in a way due to me having ADHD and Tourette's Syndrome (TS). Being able to look past the syndrome you have and not let it affect you and keep you from enjoying you're everyday life.

    1. Ordinary men and women, having the opportunity of a happy life, will become more kindly and less persecuting and less inclined to view others with suspicion. The taste for war will die out, partly for this reason, and partly because it will involve long and severe work for all

  10. Jun 2017
  11. Mar 2017
    1. Miracles reawaken the awareness that the spirit, not the body, is the altar of truth.

      How many times you thought a heavy bank account will make you happy? How many times you thought the same about mercedes or career, romantic lover, fame or children and villa on a sheer? You might have also had some reveries that drinking alcohol will do or using drugs of any kind. Dig deep in this idea: what is it that you really want? If you look good enough you'll see the only reason why you're seeking all those things -- the joy is tied to them within your mind and it is joy indeed you really want. And yet, how many times your idols failed you? Weren't you shocked by the amount of side effects they bring? You thought a zillion coins will give you peace and happiness but what you've got is constant worry and distress. Is it not time for you stop chasing carrots but focus on your real goal instead?

      If you would look on anyone more closely to figure out their motivation and what exactly makes them tick, you'll be surprised to see that you are not the only one who's chasing happiness, it is at root for anyone indeed. There is no difference between a mother of a baby and user of some drug except in ways they're looking for it: the mother plans to get it from her baby the other - from the drug. Even the biggest tyrants you can name were doing what they've done only because they honestly believed: this is the way to joy. And so the universal goal is equal but everyone has a unique and special plan on how to get it, a map their very own. However if you have dared to lift this heavy brick of paper it means you are among of those who've started to suspect: your plan has failed.

      what you seek for is a source of joy as you conceive it. T-24.5.1

      It never is the idol that you want. But what you think it offers you T-30.3.4

      You must have noticed an outstanding characteristic of every end that the ego has accepted as its own. When you have achieved it, it has not satisfied you. T-8.8.2

      It is essential that you accept the fact, and accept it gladly, that there is no form of littleness that can ever content you. You are free to try as many as you wish, but all you will be doing is to delay your homecoming. T-15.3.2

      I will not value what is valueless. W-133

      The world I see holds nothing that I want. W-128

      Seek not outside yourself. For it will fail, and you will weep each time an idol falls. T-29.7.1

      Perceiving equality, the Holy Spirit perceives equal needs. This invites Atonement automatically, because Atonement is the one need in this world that is universal. T-6.2.5

      Accept the plan you did not make W-186.5

      Only God's plan for salvation will work. W-71

  12. Dec 2016
    1. God works mysteriously. God is like a great attraction without a marquee or a billboard. God is pulling you along incessantly. Hopefully, the excess baggage in your life will be left aside sufficiently so that you can begin to experience the attraction itself, for this is the call of love to the lover. This is what you try to recreate with one another, this profound love and attraction.

      God, the Great Strange Attractor

      In the mathematical field of dynamical systems, an attractor is a set of numerical values toward which a system tends to evolve, for a wide variety of starting conditions of the system. System values that get close enough to the attractor values remain close even if slightly disturbed... An attractor is called strange if it has a fractal structure. This is often the case when the dynamics on it are chaotic, but strange nonchaotic attractors also exist. If a strange attractor is chaotic, exhibiting sensitive dependence on initial conditions, then any two arbitrarily close alternative initial points on the attractor, after any of various numbers of iterations, will lead to points that are arbitrarily far apart (subject to the confines of the attractor), and after any of various other numbers of iterations will lead to points that are arbitrarily close together. Thus a dynamic system with a chaotic attractor is locally unstable yet globally stable: once some sequences have entered the attractor, nearby points diverge from one another but never depart from the attractor.

    2. to be happy and to have meaning in the world, you must concentrate on developing Knowledge and allow it to contribute itself where it knows it can be of the greatest benefit. This will fulfill your need for relationship and community.
    3. If you are with the world's evolution, you will comprehend what needs to be done by you individually, and you will not condemn the world for its inevitable course. There are many people who think, "I want the world to be fun for me, and I hate the world because it is not fun for me! I will not be happy until the world is fun for me!" So, you have another miserable person in the world, blaming the world for being itself. You are the architects of the next century. The results of your labors will be experienced by your offspring. That is how each generation builds for the next.
  13. Jan 2016
    1. things that matter

      for the future; in the long-term view. This corresponds to optimizing overall happiness using exploration rather than exploitation. There also seems to be certain intuition tied to the concept of "mattering" though that is no easy to explain as "maximizing overall happiness".

  14. Nov 2015
    1. Somewhat surprisingly, self-compassionate people actually take more responsibility for their actions. In one study, self-compassionate people who got neutral feedback about their speaking skills were more likely to attribute it to their personality (instead of, say, a mean observer) than people with high self-esteem. Mistakes and criticism don’t threaten them as much as they do for people who have to perform well all the time.
    2. Self-esteem and self-compassion might seem like opposites, but they actually go hand in hand. Self-compassionate people tend to have higher self-esteem, and both correlate with less anxiety and depression and more happiness, optimism, and positive emotion. But the differences between the two are telling. As Neff explains it, the pursuit of self-esteem is the desire to be special or above average – and since half of us aren’t, we tend to get inflated egos and look down on other people. We may refuse to see our weaknesses and be at risk for narcissism, self-absorption, self-righteous anger, prejudice, or discrimination.
    3. Perhaps the most challenging objection to self-compassion is the idea that we need an admonishing voice in our heads to spur us toward success. And we do – just not the self-critical voice that we’re all so used to hearing. Self-criticism scares us into believing that failure is unacceptable, and self-critical people tend to be more depressed, less confident, and afraid of failure. In contrast, a self-compassionate voice would motivate us with the desire for health and well-being – and we’d be more likely to listen.
    4. Isn’t the point of life to change and improve, rather than just accept things the way they are and naively believe the future will be better? In fact, mindfulness and the other techniques discussed help put us in better touch with reality so we can see things clearly and act from there. And thanks to neuroplasticity, science has shown that we are able to change.
    5. Routine meditators also retain more brain cells, while the rest of us lose 4% of ours as we age.
    6. Mindfulness at work means noticing and examining the habits of behavior, thinking, and feeling that we’ve created. Sometimes, what appears to be a problem is only a problem because of the expectations or feelings we attach to it, not the reality itself. Healey encourages us to create some distance between ourselves and our emotions and simply observe. We can also keep an eye out for little assumptions or habits that are making us unhappy, like jumping for the phone when it rings. Finally, we can cultivate mindfulness by meditating as well as injecting it into everyday experience.
    7. More mindful partners report more sexual satisfaction. More mindful students participate more. More mindful teachers burnout less. More mindful health professionals burnout less and have more self-compassion. More mindful prisoners are less angry, hostile, and moody. More mindful people with post-traumatic stress disorder have less symptoms of trauma, intrusive thoughts, avoidance, and hyperarousal.
    8. studies show changes in gene expression after 8 hours of meditating in the lab
    9. According to set point theory, our attitude and behaviors have a bigger effect on our happiness than our external circumstances – and that’s good news for mindfulness. Mindfulness shapes our brain by increasing gray matter in areas related to attention, learning, self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and compassion.
    10. Mindfulness literally changes our brains, making some areas more responsive, interconnected, and dense. In particular, these are areas related to empathy (the insula); memory, emotion, and emotion regulation; and reward circuitry. In response to distressing stimuli, meditators see more activation in their prefrontal structures (for awareness) and less in their fear-driven amygdala.
    11. They have helped people reduce chronic pain, improve psoriasis, and increase their immune response to the flu shot. One study of mindfulness/compassion meditation out of Emory University showed reductions in stress markers, and even a simple long exhale (ahhhh) increases vagal tone. And – last but not least – a three-month meditation training program boosted telomerase activity, indicating longer telemores and perhaps a longer life expectancy.
    12. Kabat-Zinn says that meditation is not the goal; the point of cultivating mindfulness is to learn to live our lives like they really matter now, rather than constantly living in regret or anticipation.
    13. When our mind wanders during meditation, a group of brain areas called the “default mode network” activates. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what this network does – it may be directly involved in mind wandering or simply be carrying out brain maintenance when we aren’t thinking about anything in particular. As soon as we realize our mind is wandering during meditation, other brain regions for detecting relevant events light up. As we refocus our attention on the breath, the executive brain network takes over. Experienced meditators who repeat this process thousands of times start to show differences in the brain. They develop more connection between the self-focused part of the default mode network and brain regions for disengaging attention, which makes it easier to shut off that area of the brain when they realize their minds are wandering. Over time, meditation improves working memory, fluid intelligence, and standardized test scores.
    1. It helps to share the ideas in yourgoals and plans with other people.
    2. Can you for instance advocate for awe-eliciting green spaces inthe physical spaces you inhabit to infuse communities with a greater sense of commonhumanity and increase collective happiness?
    1. Lyubomirsky makes the simple but important point that increasing your level of happiness takes sustained effort and commitment over time, just like achieving any other important goal in life.

      Now the good news is, a lot of the activities that I think foster happiness, well-being, can become habitual over time, and so, once they become habitual, the effort decreases.

    2. Humans tend to adapt to positive changes as well as negative ones, so it makes sense that trying a variety of happiness strategies can ensure that we don’t get numb to their benefits over time.

      “Variety is not only the spice of life,” write Sheldon and Lyubomirsky in a recent book chapter, “but the spice of happiness as well.”

    3. Research has also shown that the amount of effort someone puts into increasing their happiness has a large effect on whether or not an activity works. In several studies, researchers found that people who reported that they put a lot of effort into their activities saw the greatest gains in well-being. Other methods are also used to evaluate effort, such as how many characters someone writes in his or her gratitude letters.

      At first glance this seems to contradict a prior finding that doing certain activities too often, like a gratitude journal, can actually erode the positive effects. However, I suppose their is a distinction between frequency of an activity and the quality of the activity.

      In fact, this is discussed below:

      • Duration. Happiness-increasing activities are also most effective for people who engage in them for longer periods of time, research shows. The trick, says Layous, is to make a habit of one or more positive activities without wearing yourself out.

      • Dosage. Research has found that frequency and timing impact how well certain happiness-increasing activities work. More isn’t always better: The proper dosage often depends on the activity.

      [examples ...] The findings may seem contradictory, but they underscore the importance of choosing activities that feel voluntary and not burdensome, say Layous and Lyubomirsky.

    4. a study by Stephen Schueller, published last year in the Journal of Positive Psychology, found that people assigned to a happiness activity similar to one for which they previously expressed a preference showed significantly greater increases in happiness than people assigned to an activity not based on a prior preference. This, writes Schueller, is “a model for positive psychology exercises similar to Netflix for movies or Amazon for books and other products.”
    5. Extroverts, for example, would likely benefit most from positives activities that involve socializing and being surrounded by others, whereas religious people might prefer an activity with a spiritual component.
    6. In one study, Layous and Lyubomirsky found that positive activities were effective for people who were mildly depressed, but not for people who reported already being happy or severely depressed.
    7. Findings indicate that adults get more out of positive activities than adolescents and college-aged students. That said, the college-age sample may be misleading, says Layous, because many undergrads are required to participate in studies for course credit, not by their own volition. In other words, a disproportionate number of students in these studies may lack the all-important motivation that their older counterparts have.
    8. So far, Layous and Lyubomirsky’s analysis suggests that Westerners benefit more from positive activities than other populations, including Asians. One study conducted at UC Riverside found that Anglo-Americans benefitted more from happiness-increasing activities; however, researchers did see a small trend that Asians gained more from activities directed toward benefitting others’ happiness, like writing a letter of gratitude, than activities strictly intended to benefit the self.
    9. Receiving encouragement from others also seems to maximize happiness. In one study, people who read bogus testimonials from peers saying an activity worked saw greater increases in happiness than those who did not.
    10. In one study, Lyubomirsky posted online two nearly identical requests for study participants. The only difference? One version told participants the study was meant to increase their happiness, while the other simply told them they’d take part in a cognitive exercise. After performing the same happiness-inducing activities, the people who signed up for the happiness study—the group Lyubomirsky saw as more “motivated” to become happier—gained more from the study than those who signed up for the other exercise.

      The study. This sounds very similar to the placebo effect, so I wonder if they have checked to see what effects they would find if they picked activities previously classified as neutral.

    11. posit in their theorizing about person-activity fit that perhaps people who are high in sensationseeking might choose a really varied and novel kinds of activities for boosting their ownhappiness, whereas people who are more sort of quiet or less social or less extravertedare more likely to choose these less demanding self-reflective kinds of activities.
    12. For people to benefit from a positive activity,or any self-improvement behavior for that matter, they have to effortfully engage in it,be motivated to become happier, and believe that their efforts will pay off.
    1. In one version of this experiment, if we gave participants synthetic oxytocin (in the nose, that will reach the brain in an hour), they donated to 57 percent more of the featured charities and donated 56 percent more money than participants given a placebo. Those who received oxytocin also reported more emotional transportation into the world depicted in the ad. Most importantly, these people said they were less likely to engage in the dangerous behaviors shown in the ads. So, go see a movie and laugh and cry. It’s good for your brain, and just might motivate you to make positive changes in your life and in others’ lives as well.
    2. Once a story has sustained our attention long enough, we may begin to emotionally resonate with story’s characters. Narratologists call this “transportation,” and you experience this when your palms sweat as James Bond trades blows with a villain on top of a speeding train.
    3. Any Hollywood writer will tell you that attention is a scarce resource. Movies, TV shows, and books always include “hooks” that make you turn the page, stay on the channel through the commercial, or keep you in a theater seat. Scientists liken attention to a spotlight. We are only able to shine it on a narrow area. If that area seems less interesting than some other area, our attention wanders.
    4. This evidence supports the view of some narrative theorists that there is a universal story structure. These scholars claim every engaging story has this structure, called the dramatic arc. It starts with something new and surprising, and increases tension with difficulties that the characters must overcome, often because of some failure or crisis in their past, and then leads to a climax where the characters must look deep inside themselves to overcome the looming crisis, and once this transformation occurs, the story resolves itself. 
    5. When people watch Ben’s story in the lab—and they both maintain attention to the story and release oxytocin—nearly all of these individuals donate a portion of their earnings from the experiment. They do this even though they don’t have to. This is surprising since this payment is to compensate them for an hour of their time and two needle sticks in their arms to obtain blood from which we measure chemical changes that come from their brains. 

      (Ben's story is a very sad story)

    6. I recall that Martin Seligman also mentions this buffering effect in a slightly more rich context, but the essential message is the same.

    7. narratingdifficulties, frustration, stresses in the simple writing expressive paradigm leads toincreased happiness, reduced stress, reduced visits to health centers, reduced depression,even sort of better profiles of your immune system as you're handling disease.
    8. When we adults unite play, love, and work in our lives, we set an example that our children can follow. That just might be the best way to bring play back into the lives of our children—and build a more playful culture.
    9. Finally children do as we do, not as we say. That gives us incentive to bring play back into our adult lives. We can shut off the TVs and take our children with us on outdoor adventures. We should get less exercise in the gym and more on hiking trails and basketball courts. We can also make work more playful: Businesses that do this are among the most successful. Seattle’s Pike Fish Market is a case in point. Workers throw fish to one another, engage the customers in repartee, and appear to have a grand time. Some companies, such as Google, have made play an important part of their corporate culture. Study after study has shown that when workers enjoy what they do and are well-rewarded and recognized for their contributions, they like and respect their employers and produce higher quality work. For example, when the Rohm and Hass Chemical company in Kentucky reorganized its workplace into self- regulating and self-rewarding teams, one study found that worker grievances and turnover declined, while plant safety and productivity improved.
    10. As adults have increasingly thwarted self-initiated play and games, we have lost important markers of the stages in a child’s development. In the absence of such markers, it is difficult to determine what is appropriate and not appropriate for children. We run the risk of pushing them into certain activities before they are ready, or stunting the development of important intellectual, social, or emotional skills.  For example, it is only after the age of six or seven that children will spontaneously participate in games with rules, because it is only at that age that they are fully able to understand and follow rules.
    11. The results showed no advantage in reading and math achievement for children attending the academic preschools. But there was evidence that those children had higher levels of test anxiety, were less creative, and had more negative attitudes toward school than did the children attending the play preschools.
    12. elementary school children become increasingly inattentive in class when recess is delayed. Similarly, studies conducted in French and Canadian elementary schools over a period of four years found that regular physical activity had positive effects on academic performance. Spending one third of the school day in physical education, art, and music improved not only physical fitness, but attitudes toward learning and test scores. These findings echo those from one analysis of 200 studies on the effects of exercise on cognitive functioning, which also suggests that physical activity promotes learning.
    13. sociodramatic play, where two or more children participate in shared make believe, demonstrate the value of this play for academic, social, and emotional learning. “Sociodramatic play activates resources that stimulate social and intellectual growth in the child, which in turn affects the child’s success in school,” concludes Smilansky in a 1990 study that compared American and Israeli children. “For example, problem solving in most school subjects requires a great deal of make believe, visualizing how the Eskimos live, reading stories, imagining a story and writing it down, solving arithmetic problems, and determining what will come next.”
    14. found that children who received an enriched, play-oriented parenting and early childhood program had significantly higher IQ’s at age five than did a comparable group of children who were not in the program (105 vs. 85 points).
    15. In infancy and early childhood, play is the activity through which children learn to recognize colors and shapes, tastes and sounds—the very building blocks of reality. Play also provides pathways to love and social connection. Elementary school children use play to learn mutual respect, friendship, cooperation, and competition. For adolescents, play is a means of exploring possible identities, as well as a way to blow off steam and stay fit. Even adults have the potential to unite play, love, and work, attaining the dynamic, joyful state that psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.”
    16. it’s not hard to understand how, in any highly social species, natural selection might favor those who laugh. Laughter may help some animals avert an attack, and according to Panksepp, animals may be attracted to others who laugh, seeing their laughter as a sign that they have a positive temperament and can get along well with others—and some of those positive interactions could lead to reproduction. “Laughter indicates emotional health, just as a peacock’s tail indicates physical health,” he says. Indeed, just as humans like to spend time with their funny friends, Panksepp has found that rats gravitate towards those who “chirp” the most.
    17. when rats are sizing each other up in the moments before a potential fight, which may mean that laughter can help diffuse situations that might otherwise escalate into physical conflict. Similar behavior has been documented among chimpanzees.
    18. As rats age, their chirping generally becomes less frequent. (A similar phenomenon seems to occur in humans: Research done by William Fry, a professor emeritus at Stanford University School of Medicine, has found that kindergarteners laugh 300 times a day, whereas adults laugh just 17 times.) However, rats who were tickled often when young usually retain their tendency to chirp later in life.
    19. It is precisely this more childlike, instinctive form of laughter that scientists believe they have uncovered in rats. Panksepp, the Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science at Washington State University, has found that rats emit their high-pitched chirps when tickled, especially in areas, such as the nape of the neck, that are targeted by fellow rats during playful bouts. They make the same sounds when playing or anticipating playtime with one another, as well as when anticipating a reward. Other research has found that this chirping is common when rats enter new environments or encounter new animals; Panksepp likens this to nervous laughter in humans.
    20. scientists have probed the brain circuits involved in human laughter, but this research has faced a number of limitations. For one, though researchers have used sophisticated equipment to observe people’s brain activity while they read cartoons or jokes, this equipment is quite sensitive to movement—a major drawback when you’re trying to induce a hearty belly laugh.

      Why rats, which do have a form of ultrasonic laughter, have been used in laughter research.

    21. In one study at San Diego State University, students enrolled in an Introductory Psychology course were taught using three kinds of lectures: one that incorporated course content-related humor; one that included humor, but not related to the course material; and one that used no humor at all. When researchers tested student’s retention of knowledge six weeks later, they found that those who attended lectures with course-related humor scored significantly higher than the other students.
    22. Importantly, humor is also great for our social relationships. People list having a sense of humor as one of the most important traits in a mate. In classrooms, a humorous teacher makes learning more enjoyable and increases a student’s motivation to learn.
    23. Experiments on humans have found that laughter can increase blood flow and strengthen the heart, much like aerobic exercise does. Laughter also helps decrease one’s threshold for pain, although not all humor is the same in this respect. According to Weems, positive humor—humor that looks for the bright side of troubling situations—is beneficial to our health, while darker, sardonic humor is not.
    24. Take for example an old Groucho Marx joke: “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.” Our brains will read the first sentence and be taken down a path imagining Grouch Marx on a safari in his pajamas, before we get the new image of the elephant actually inside his pajamas. That process of moving from one possible solution to the next involves a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate, or AC, which becomes more active when there are conflicting interpretations in the brain. The AC helps to quiet down the “louder” parts of the brain (associated with the expected response) to allow other quieter answers to emerge, and it’s particularly active during jokes. It helps us to figure out the novel solution, which, when resolved, gets incorporated into the brain and gives us that spike of dopamine. This is why we feel so good when we get a joke, and why jokes are not funny the second time around.
    25. he grouped humor preferences into three types: “incongruity-resolution,” which involves “violating one’s expectations in novel ways;” “nonsense humor,” “which is funny only because it makes no sense;” and “sexual humor,” which is offensive or taboo. Although not everyone finds the same type of humor funny, the common thread in these joke types is that they all involve dealing with surprise and resolving the ensuing cognitive dissonance. “What elicits laughter isn’t the content of the joke but the way our brain works through the conflict the joke elicits,” writes Weems. Basic Books, 2014, 230 pages

      Apparently fMRI was used in this work, though it isn't immediately clear how.

    26. Weems explains what humor is, how things become funny, and why evolution gave us laughter. According to Weems, laughter and humor help us process conflict in our environment through the dopamine that is released in our brains when we find something funny. Dopamine relieves tension—which I discovered with my son—but it’s also implicated in motivation, memory, and attention, affecting processes as varied as learning and pain management.
    27. why do we find some things funny—like Captain Kirk cringing over Cyrus’ performance—while others leave us flat? For answers, look no further than the new book, Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why, by cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems.
    28. philosopher Thomas Nagelhas written about is that one of the most important achievements of the human mind isto make sure you always remember in the vast flow of human experience and time and whereyour life is going, that things can be insignificant. That everything in some sense has a smallplace in the broader flow of human experience and laughter really helps you get there, ithelps you put things into perspective sort of a almost delightful sense of the absurd.
    29. the very simple finding is that the peoplewho laughed when talking about the relationship with their partners two and four years laterwere actually doing a lot better psychologically. Less anxiety, greater purpose in life, greaterrelationships with other people, less depression by finding perspective through laughter.

      he studied middle-aged individuals who on average were about 45 years of age. He brought them to the lab six months after their partner had died in their lives.

    30. laughing, probably through its effects on breathingwhich makes you breathe more deeply, actually calms your cardiovascular system. So, it reallyseems to be altering your stress profile as a pathway to physical health.
    31. Hirosaki, for example, has found in a review that bursts of laughterdecrease blood pressure, they enhance your immune function. In certain contexts, for example,when combined with exercise, they will reduce levels of chronic pain. They will improvethe physical health of elderly populations. Other studies by Ko, for example, find laughterimproves depressive symptomatology, how well elderly patients are sleeping.
    32. laughter is not only about jokes, butis just part of human speech. In fact, most forms of laugh occur in conversations whenwe’re not necessarily telling jokes but we’re trying to signal playfulness and cooperativenessto other individuals.
    33. what peoplethink of as laughter is really kind of this behavioral response to contradictorypieces of information where what you assume to be true proves not quite to be true whenyou look at other information in the world.

      And that motivates us to learn and to develop and to be curious as the foundation of laughter.

    1. Here are some more specific ideas for where to take an awe-inspiring walk. Natural settings: Hike up a mountain with panoramic views Walk along a trail lined with tall trees Walk along the shore of an ocean, lake, river, or waterfall Walk outside on a clear night and look up at the stars Walk to a place where you can watch a sunset or sunrise Urban settings: Climb to the top of a skyscraper or look up in an area dense with tall buildings Visit a historic monument Explore a part of the city that you've never seen before Tour of a large ballpark or stadium Go on a city art walk and explore different galleries Visit the botanical gardens or a zoo to see plants and animal species you've never seen before Walk around with no destination in mind and see where it takes you Indoor settings: Walk slowly around a museum, giving your full attention to each piece Visit a planetarium or aquarium Take a tour of a historic mansion, cathedral, or opera house

      Turn off your cell phone or leave it behind

      Go somewhere new when possible

    1. But does awe continue to have its beneficial effects on social behavior even if the stimulus is threatening or isn’t associated with nature at all? Indeed, after exposure to videos of threatening natural disasters (e.g. volcanoes) or beautiful close-up slow motion footage of colored drops of water, participants also showed a greater tendency toward fairness when distributing resources between themselves and another individual.
    2. Participants consistently reported that awe produced “a reduced sense of self importance relative to something larger and more powerful that they felt connected to,” says Piff. And subsequent analysis confirmed that this feeling of the “small self” was responsible for their ethical behavior. This seems to suggest that experiencing awe prompts people to help others.
    3. In answer to why awe would be a potent predictor of reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines, this latest study posits that “awe is associated with curiosity and a desire to explore, suggesting antithetical behavioral responses to those found during inflammation, where individuals typically withdraw from others in their environment,” Stellar said.
    4. In addition to autoimmune diseases, elevated cytokines have been tied to depression. One recent study found that depressed patients had higher levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine known as TNF-alpha than their non-depressed counterparts. It is believed that by signaling the brain to produce inflammatory molecules, cytokines can block key hormones and neurotransmitters—such as serotonin and dopamine—that control moods, appetite, sleep and memory.
    5. She suggests that people evoke more feelings of awe in their lives by exposing themselves to nature, art, and music. “Put yourself in situations where you’re experiencing new things,” she says.

      She = Melanie Rudd

    6. researchers induced awe in some people—by having them read a story about ascending the Eiffel Tower and getting a high-up view of Paris—but not others. Afterwards, they found that members of the awe group reported feeling more satisfied with their lives than the other group. Also, when given a choice between material goods and positive experiences—such as a watch vs. tickets to a Broadway show—the awe group was more likely than the other group to choose the positive experiences.

      the researchers conclude that the awe group’s higher life satisfaction and preference for experiences over objects could be explained by the fact that they felt like they had more time on their hands.

    7. people who felt awe were less likely to feel impatient and more likely to volunteer their time than study participants who felt happiness. However, awe did not make people more likely to donate money, suggesting that awe does not make people more generous in general. Instead, it was the sense that they had more time to spend that seems to have made participants more willing to lend a hand.
    8. There are new psychophysiological findings finding that cytokine levels, cytokinesreally reflect an inflammation in response in your body, which is very tough news onyour health, the only positive emotion that really lowers levels of cytokines is provingto be awe.
    9. spiritually-orientedpeople are less likely to experience depression. Nowthose findings beg the question of why: what is it about feeling like you have a spiritualpractice? One hypothesis is, it’s really community.

      (paraphrase) it could also be awe

    10. that feeling awe, or elevation or inspired, in this case by beautifulnatural trees, makes people more pro-social and kind.
    11. if you live around beautiful green spaces, crime drops precipitously.

      This was done among urban environments, so not just "urban" vs "rural".

    12. E.O. Wilson’s writing about biophilia.And it’s really this very rich hypothesis that we have this evolved love about naturalbeauty. So if you’re out in the woods, you’re in the mountains, you’re watching patternsof light on the ocean, it triggers this feeling in us, this feeling of beautiful delight ifyou will. And E.O. Wilson makes the case that that is an evolved preference because whenwe attach to beautiful things in nature, we’re finding kind of resource-richenvironments that have food and water and shelter as a way to orient towards thelandscape.
    13. Awe ofcourse is very important to Immanuel Kant who wrote an essay that differentiated in1764 the experiences of the sublime or awe from beauty which we’ll talk about.
    14. Edmund Burke.And what he does, and really one of the most impressive books on awe ever written, is hesecularizes awe. He takes this emotion and he shows how it really is a part of everyday,perceptual experience. So he writes about how patterns of light and dark can triggerawe, how things that are powerful like oxen can trigger awe. He kind of maps out what sortof sensations create this experience that used to be the domain of religion.
    15. the scientific literature awe is defined as "the feeling of being in the presence of something vast and greater than the self, that exceeds current knowledge structures"--meaning that you need to adjust your understanding of the world, and your place within it, in order to make sense of an awe-inspiring event, feat, or behavior. 
    16. Research suggests that the more sort of nuanced and detailed and richour narratives are, the more resilient we are to stress, the faster we are to recover,and what we hope end up will end up being the case, is the happier we can be.

      This makes sense; you need different aspects of life to buffer against downturns in other areas.

    17. awe is best describedas a feeling that we have typically when we’re in the presence of something much greaterthan ourselves. So maybe we’re in a very high, expansive vantage point looking outat something huge and overwhelming or inspiring.
    1. Emmons proposes a series of questions to help people recover from difficult experiences, which I’ve adapted for the workplace: What lessons did the experience teach us? Can we find ways to be thankful for what happened to us now, even though we were not at the time it happened? What ability did the experience draw out of us that surprised us? Are there ways we have become a better workplace because of it? Has the experience removed an obstacle that previously prevented us from feeling grateful?
    2. Research points to the notion that gratitude might have positive effects on transforming conflicts, which can benefit the organization and working relationships. How do you do that? It starts with the one charged with mediating the conflict: For example, a supervisor with two bickering employees might open a meeting by expressing sincere appreciation of both parties. Throughout the process, that person should never miss an opportunity to say “thank you.” The research says this attitude of gratitude will have a positive feedback effect, even if results aren’t obvious right away.
    3. Giving creates gratitude, but giving can also be a good way to express gratitude, especially if the person in question is shy. You can say “thanks” by taking on scut work, lending a parking space, or giving a day off. These kinds of non-monetary gifts can lead to more trust in working relationships, if it’s reciprocal, sincere, and altruistically motivated.
    4. How do you convey authenticity? Details are decisive. When you are specific about the benefits of a person, action, or thing, it increases your own appreciation—and it tells a person that you are paying attention, rather than just going through the motions.
    5. The key is to create times and spaces that foster the voluntary, spontaneous expression of gratitude. It’s also the case that studies consistently show that there is such a thing as too much gratitude—it seems trying to be grateful everyday induces gratitude fatigue.
    6. Employees need to hear “thank you” from the boss first. That’s because expressing gratitude can make some people feel unsafe, particularly in a workplace with a history of ingratitude.
    7. The benefits of gratitude go beyond a sense of self-worth, self-efficacy, and trust between employees. When Greater Good Science Center Science Director Emiliana Simon-Thomas analyzed data from our interactive gratitude journal Thnx4.org, she found the greater the number of gratitude experiences people had on a given day, the better they felt. People who kept at it for at least two weeks showed significantly increased happiness, greater satisfaction with life, and higher resilience to stress; this group even reported fewer headaches and illnesses.
    8. Gratitude is a non-monetary way to support those non-monetary motivations. “Thank you” doesn’t cost a dime, and it has measurably beneficial effects. In a series of four experiments, psychologists Adam Grant and Francesca Gino found that “thank you” from a supervisor gave people a strong sense of both self-worth and self-efficacy. The Grant and Gino study also reveals that the expression of gratitude has a spillover effect: Individuals become more trusting with each other, and more likely to help each other out.
    9. Americans actively suppress gratitude on the job, even to the point of robbing themselves of happiness. Why? It may be because in theory, no one gives away anything at work; every exchange is fundamentally economic. You don’t deliver that memo to your boss at three o’clock sharp out of the goodness of your heart, but because that is what you’re being paid to do. Your “thanks” is a paycheck. Fail to do what you’re “asked,” and you may not see another one. Tellingly, only those who earned $150,000 or more were likely to express any gratitude for their jobs, according to the Templeton survey. This hints at one of the factors that undermines gratitude at work: power and pay imbalances. In a study published in January 2012, M. Ena Inesi and colleagues found that people with power tended to believe others thanked them mainly to kiss their butts, not out of authentic feeling—and as a result of this cynicism, supervisors are themselves less likely to express gratitude.
    10. Why should anyone thank you for just doing your job? And why should you ever thank your coworkers for doing what they’re paid to do? These are common questions in American workplaces, often posed rhetorically—and sometimes with hostility.
    11. Trying to surprise your partner with something she didn’t even know she wanted might feel more special to you, but to maximize gratitude, it is best to give gifts that reflects your partner’s wishes.
    12. Expectations are the bane of gratitude. When people expect an act of kindness, they are less grateful for it. To maximize gratitude, try doing something unexpected.
    13. gratitude motivates us and it helps us to make gestures that bind us more closelywith our romantic partner, and actually with other social partners in our lives.
    14. gratitude does more than just make kids feel good; it also improves their mood, mental health, and life satisfaction, and it can jumpstart more purposeful engagement in life at a critical moment in their development, when their identity is taking shape.
    15. Experiences that heighten meaningful connections with others—like noticing how another person has helped you, acknowledging the effort it took, and savoring how you benefitted from it—engage biological systems for trust and affection, alongside circuits for pleasure and reward. This provides a synergistic and enduring boost to the positive experience. Saying ‘thank you’ to a person, your brain registers that something good has happened and that you are more richly enmeshed in a meaningful social community.
    16. Loyola University psychologist Fred Bryant finds that savoring positive experiences makes them stickier in your brain, and increases their benefits to your psyche—and the key, he argues, is expressing gratitude for the experience. That’s one of the ways appreciation and gratitude go hand in hand.
    1. Normative understandings of infra-structure usually are organized around theways in which materiality is a platformupon which social differences are created,recognized and sustained

      Materiality causes differentiation in social classes.. the want of materialistic objects and those who have the ability (money) to get them will be higher. Can money buy happiness?

    1. Don’t overdo it. Evidence suggests writing occasionally (1-3 times per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. That might be because we adapt to positive events and can soon become numb to them—that’s why it helps to savor surprises.

      It could be overdoing it, or it could be due to the lack of a concentrated effect, which I believe was also speculated to be a possible reason that doing ~5 kind things all in one day was more beneficial than trying to do it throughout the week.

    1. Like a lot of TV viewers these days, we binge-watch our favorite shows on Netflix, consuming two, three, or more episodes—sometimes entire seasons—at a time. But little do we realize, bingers like us are cheating ourselves out of happiness. Stephen Morris That’s the lesson from new research in the field of positive psychology. What this research shows is that indulging in life’s pleasures in smaller doses, or even giving them up for stretches of time, helps us enjoy them significantly more.
    1. The results showed that the gratitude group reported feeling more closure and less unpleasant emotions than participants who didn’t write about their experience from a grateful perspective. The grateful writers weren’t told to deny or ignore the negative aspects of their memory. Yet they seemed more resilient in the face of those troubles.

      Could be a good source for gratitude journal entries.

      More tips here

    2. Grateful people give credit to others, but not at the expense of acknowledging their own responsibility for their success. They take credit, too. It’s not either/or—either I did this all myself or somebody else did it for me. Instead, they recognize their own feats and abilities while also feeling gratitude toward the people—parents, teachers—who helped them along the way.
    3. If I am grateful for something you provided to me, I have to take care of that thing—I might even have to reciprocate at some appropriate time in the future. That type of indebtedness or obligation can be perceived very negatively—it can cause people real discomfort. The data bear this out: When people are grateful, they aren’t necessarily free of negative emotions—we don’t find that they necessarily have less anxiety or less tension or less unhappiness. Practicing gratitude magnifies positive feelings more than it reduces negative feelings. If it was just positive thinking, or just a form of denial, you’d experience no negative thoughts or feelings when you’re keeping a gratitude journal, for instance. But, in fact, people do.
    4. 1. Gratitude leads to complacency I’ve often heard the claim that if you’re grateful, you’re not going to be motivated to challenge the status quo or improve your lot in life. You’ll just be satisfied, complacent, lazy and lethargic, perhaps passively resigned to an injustice or bad situation. You’ll give up trying to change something. In fact, studies suggest that the opposite is true: Gratitude not only doesn’t lead to complacency, it drives a sense of purpose and a desire to do more.

      Gratitude myth, debunked:

      ...Yet they don’t report feeling more satisfied with their progress toward their goals than other people do. They don’t become complacent or satisfied to the point that they stop making an effort.

    5. research by my colleagues, has linked gratitude to a host of psychological, physical, and social benefits: stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, more feelings of joy, and a greater sense of social connection, among many others.
    6. The humble person says, “How can I not be filled with overflowing gratitude for all the good in my life that I’ve done nothing to merit?” The realization that all is gift is freeing, and freedom is the very foundation upon which gratitude is based. True gifts are freely given, and require no response.
    7. Thinking about oneself is natural; humility is unnatural. Perhaps this is why gratitude is counterintuitive. It goes against our natural inclinations. We want to take credit for the good that we encounter. This self-serving bias is the adult derivative of childhood egocentricity.
    8. The humble person says that life is a gift to be grateful for, not a right to be claimed. Humility ushers in a grateful response to life. Humility is a key to gratitude because living humbly is the truest approach to life. Humble people are grounded in the truth that they need others. We all do. We are not self-sufficient
    9. According to Mark T. Mitchell, professor of political science at Patrick Henry College in Virginia: Gratitude is born of humility, for it acknowledges the giftedness of the creation and the benevolence of the Creator. This recognition gives birth to acts marked by attention and responsibility. Ingratitude, on the other hand, is marked by hubris, which denies the gift, and this always leads to inattention, irresponsibility, and abuse.
    10. psychiatrists estimate that only one percent of the general population meets the clinical criteria for narcissistic disorders. However, narcissistic characteristics are found in all individuals in varying degrees. Early childhood is marked by egocentrism, the inability to take another’s perspective. This preoccupation with one’s own internal world is a normal stage of human development. Over time, most of us evolve out of this restricted perceptual lens. However those who continue to see the world primarily from the inside out slide down the slope from ordinary egocentrism to entitled narcissism.
    11. modern times have regressed gratitude into a mere feeling instead of retaining its historic value: as a virtue that leads to action. Just as great philosophers such as Cicero and Seneca conclude in their writings, gratitude is an action of returning a favor and is not just a sentiment. By the same token, ingratitude is the failure to both acknowledge receiving a favor and refusing to return or repay the favor. Just as gratitude is the queen of the virtues, ingratitude is the king of the vices.
    12. The lack of gratitude is contagious, and is passed from one generation to the next. Conversely, the act of gratitude is also viral and has been found to greatly and positively influence not just relationships but one’s own emotional status.
    13. Tom Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, known for his finding that spending money on experiences brings more happiness than spending money on material things, also studies gratitude. In his gratitude research, Gilovich looked at whether people feel more grateful for purchased experiences than purchased things (spoiler alert: yes). 
    14. when the people cultivate really extreme individualistic attitude ornarcissistic attitude and real clear focus on self they feel less gratitude. We knowfrom scientific literature that when we think about materialistic pursuits and we sort ofare interested in consumerism if you will we show declines in gratitude and then I thinkthat for those of you who are kind of leading busy life or are parenting kids who feel alittle over scheduled but what we are learning is that just that over scheduling and beingtoo busy is a very clear barrier to experiencing gratitude because gratitude requires a littlebit of time for reflection on the things that have been given to you.

      Barriers to experiencing gratitude

    1. Rather, a lack of gratitude may be connected to why that division of labor is so unequal to begin with.
    2. It is not uncommon for romantic partners, particularly if they are co-habitating or raising children, to feel like the other person doesn't contribute as much to maintaining the home as they themselves do. It's a result of our cognitive tendency to call to mind our own actions and behaviors more readily than we can think of or remember other people's actions and behaviors. Gratitude, the article below suggests, can counteract this relationship challenge. 
    3. Those in the gratitude condition showed avery strong preference for working with a partner, whereas those who were in the controlcondition actually preferred to work alone. So, one of the things we see about the socialbenefits of gratitude is that it enhances our desire to affiliate with others. Gratitudealso enhances our communal orientation toward others
    1. Remember, your goal is not to relive the experience but rather to get a new perspective on it. Simply rehearsing an upsetting event makes us feel worse about it. That is why catharsis has rarely been effective. Emotional venting without accompanying insight does not produce change. No amount of writing about the event will help unless you are able to take a fresh, redemptive perspective on it. This is an advantage that grateful people have—and it is a skill that anyone can learn.
    2. There’s another way to foster gratitude: confront your own mortality. In a recent study, researchers asked participants to imagine a scenario where they are trapped in a burning high rise, overcome by smoke, and killed. This resulted in a substantial increase in gratitude levels, as researchers discovered when they compared this group to two control conditions who were not compelled to imagine their own deaths. In these ways, remembering the bad can help us to appreciate the good. As the German theologian and Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.” We know that gratitude enhances happiness, but why? Gratitude maximizes happiness in multiple ways, and one reason is that it helps us reframe memories of unpleasant events in a way that decreases their unpleasant emotional impact. This implies that grateful coping entails looking for positive consequences of negative events. For example, grateful coping might involve seeing how a stressful event has shaped who we are today and has prompted us to reevaluate what is really important in life.
    3. Thanksgiving, was born and grew out of hard times. The first Thanksgiving took place after nearly half the pilgrims died from a rough winter and year. It became a national holiday in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War and was moved to its current date in the 1930s following the Depression. Why? Well, when times are good, people take prosperity for granted and begin to believe that they are invulnerable. In times of uncertainty, though, people realize how powerless they are to control their own destiny. If you begin to see that everything you have, everything you have counted on, may be taken away, it becomes much harder to take it for granted.
    4. We don’t have total control over our emotions. We cannot easily will ourselves to feel grateful, less depressed, or happy. Feelings follow from the way we look at the world, thoughts we have about the way things are, the way things should be, and the distance between these two points.
    5. Mother Theresa talked about how grateful she was to the people she was helping, the sick and dying in the slums of Calcutta, because they enabled her to grow and deepen her spirituality. That’s a very different way of thinking about gratitude—gratitude for what we can give as opposed to what we receive. But that can be a very powerful way, I think, of cultivating a sense of gratitude.
    6. With gratitude comes the realization that we get more than we deserve. I’ll never forget the comment by a man at a talk I gave on gratitude. “It’s a good thing we don’t get what we deserve,” he said. “I’m grateful because I get far more than I deserve.” This goes against a message we get a lot in our contemporary culture: that we deserve the good fortune that comes our way, that we’re entitled to it. If you deserve everything, if you’re entitled to everything, it makes it a lot harder to be grateful for anything.
    7. Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret—emotions that can destroy our happiness.
    8. In effect, I think gratitude allows us to participate more in life. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures you get from life. Instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness. We spend so much time watching things—movies, computer screens, sports—but with gratitude we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators.
    9. people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits: Psychological Higher levels of positive emotions More alert, alive, and awake More joy and pleasure More optimism and happiness Physical Stronger immune systems Less bothered by aches and pains Lower blood pressure Exercise more and take better care of their health Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking Social More helpful, generous, and compassionate More forgiving More outgoing Feel less lonely and isolated.
    10. The next thing that Phil saysin the sort of positivity bias, the notion that gratitude amplifies the good, is thatgratitude counteracts adaptation and habituation.
    11. First, gratitude enhances the frequency andthe magnitude of enjoyment that people have around present pleasant positive emotionalexperiences.
    1. Ask Yourself Three Questions. Utilize the meditation technique known as Naikan, which involves reflecting on three questions: “What have I received from __?”, “What have I given to __?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
    1. It is gratitude that enables us to receive and it is gratitude that motivates us to return the goodness that we have been given. In short, it is gratitude that enables us to be fully human.
    2. Life becomes complete when we are able to give to others what we ourselves received in the past.
    3. A second reason supporting the power of gratitude is that gratitude increases one’s sense of personal worth. When we experience gratitude, we understand that another person wishes us well, and in turn, we feel loved and cared for. If someone has incurred a personal cost by helping me out, then how can I not conclude that I have value in that person’s eye?
    4. So why is gratitude good? For two main reasons, I think. First, gratitude strengthens social ties. It cultivates an individual’s sense of interconnectedness.
    5. Compared to people who didn’t receive the favor, including some who were put in a good mood by watching a funny video clip, the people who received the favor and felt grateful toward the confederate were more likely to go through the trouble of filling out the survey. This suggests the unique effects of gratitude in motivating helping behavior, more so than the general effects of simply being in a positive mood.
    6. Indeed, contemporary social science research reminds us that if we overlook gratitude, it will be at our own emotional and psychological peril. After years of ignoring gratitude—perhaps because it appears, on the surface, to be a very obvious emotion, lacking in interesting complications—researchers have found that gratitude contributes powerfully to human health, happiness, and social connection.
    7. One fascinating study in the 1980s found that American men were less likely to regard gratitude positively than were German men, and they viewed it as less constructive and useful than their German counterparts did. Gratitude presupposes so many judgments about debt and dependency that it is easy to see why supposedly self-reliant Americans would feel queasy about even discussing it.
    8. In some cases, people have reported that gratitude led to transformative life changes. And even more importantly, the family, friends, partners, and others who surround them consistently report that people who practice gratitude seem measurably happier and are more pleasant to be around. I’ve concluded that gratitude is one of the few attitudes that can measurably change people's lives.
    9. How many family members, friends, strangers, and all those who have come before us have made our daily lives easier and our existence freer, more comfortable, and even possible? It is mind boggling to consider.
  15. Oct 2015
    1. there are ones who are less grateful whohave a different orientation toward life. For variousreasons they’re going to focus more on what life is denying, what life is..um...what they’relosing out on. Looking at life with a lens ofscarcity vs. a lens of abundance.
    2. It’svery hard, by the way, to find people who are veryungrateful. In fact, if you look throughout thehistory of ideas, you see in-gratitude being excoriated as a vice, you know, it’s oneof the worse things people can say about you that you’rean ungrateful person. In some cases it really representssociopathy, or anti-social behavior because reciprocity is such a universal norm, thatwhen people do good things for us we do good thingsin return. We don’t return harm for good andso it’s unusual to find an ungrateful person,
    3. . The grateful person atthis other extreme end of this continuum of gratefulness, is one who accepts all of lifegood and bad. Everything that happens they see it asa gift or potential gift. That’s with a grateful person.Now, it’s quite a bit different than journaling all the nice things happening to you, butyou have to start somewhere.
    4. there’s a difference between that short term feeling and saying that someoneis a grateful person, that they habitually lookat life from a grateful focus or through gratitude glasses. That’s very different, I think.So, we could align levels of gratitude on acontinuum from the habit of saying thank you, to a moredeeper, abiding sense of thankfulness for life asa fundamental life orientation. That’s a different level of a degree of gratitude.
    5. It leadsto kind of more prosocial leadership behavior and, in fact, more charitable giving.
    6. the more grateful you are, the tendency is foryou to feel less anxious, less depressed. Bob Emmons really put it nicely, which isthe more you move to this grateful mindset, it'salmost physically impossible to be anxious or depressed.
    7. Adam Smith, the great economist, when he was thinking about what makes forcivil, kind, cooperative societies, said that gratitude is really the glue that ties peopletogether. If you move forward a couple of centuries we encounter Trivers, the greatevolutionary thinker who was making the case that altruism and sharing and generosity ofthe reciprocal kind that takes place between two individuals is really driven by feelingsof gratitude, of having a sense that other people are giving to you
    8. by beginning with the definition from Bob Emmons' really nicebook called Thanks from 2007. Gratitude, Emmons writes, is the feeling of reverence for thingsthat are given, and I think there's a real emphasis here on "given," which is the thingsthat we're grateful for are really beyond our own agency, beyond our own volition.
    1. Extrinsic goals, on the other hand, are focused on attaining rewards and/or praise from others--they are a means to an end, not inherently rewarding in and of themselves. Examples include financial wealth, fame, or popularity. People often pursue extrinsic goals under the assumption that these goals will bring them happiness, but evidence suggests otherwise. Researchers speculate that intrinsic goals lead to greater happiness because, in the pursuit of these goals, people have positive experiences along the way that support their happiness.
    2. Intrinsic goals: According to positive psychologist Tim Kasser and colleagues, intrinsic goals "are those that are inherently satisfying to pursue because they are likely to satisfy innate psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, competence, and growth"; they depend on satisfying one's own basic psychological needs rather than relying upon the judgments or approval of others. Examples of these goals include self-acceptance, forming social connections, and physical fitness.
    3. other scientists are finding when you really sortof focus our attention on these sort of intrinsic goals like being connected to others as opposedto making more money as you might imagine, those lead to more boosts in happiness andthen this other focus on making money and achieving fame really doesn't sort of boosthappiness in the same fashion.
    4. people who set goals to really find greater autonomy or freedom who feel greater confidenceand in particular, again as you might intuit, to be more connected to other people, theyactually had rises in happiness over that 6 month period.
    5. when we set goals that are reallynon-zero that have to do with not only honoring our own interests, but also advancing thewelfare and interests of others, friends, family members, and social groups, that kindof a goal, that non-zero goal that really incorporates others interests with the greatergood is associated with greater success, career, and happiness.
    6. Many of the themes of this week--optimism, focus, flow--converge on another mental habit that relates to happiness: goal setting. Research suggests that setting goals for ourselves, and progressing toward those goals, can foster well-being, perhaps because our happiness is intertwined with having a sense of meaning, hope, and purpose in life--a topic we touched on in Week 1. However, research also suggests that not all goals contribute equally to our happiness.
    7. Familiarity with one another’s communication style also helps them respond to each other quickly, and we know from Csikszentmihalyi’s research that immediate feedback is critical to flow.

      Programming specific example: waiting for compile times, etc., is a killer.

    8. They found that, more than any particular type of activity, achieving flow was determined by the mix of challenge and support teachers provide: Engagement was high when students were appropriately challenged by complex goals and high teacher expectations but also supported through positive interactions with their teacher.
    9. They found that students were most engaged in school while taking tests, doing individual work, and doing group work, and less so when listening to lectures or watching videos. In addition, the students were most engaged and reported being in a better mood when they felt that their activities were under their own control and relevant to their lives. The researchers conclude that teachers can encourage more flow in their classrooms through lessons that offer choice, are connected to students’ goals, and provide both challenges and opportunities for success that are appropriate to students’ level of skill.
    10. Real learning, says Shernoff, requires student engagement—of which flow is the deepest form possible—and that involves a combination of motivation, concentration, interest, and enjoyment derived from the process of learning itself—qualities that are essential to Csikzentmihalyi’s definition of flow.
    11. But one place where we might not find too much flow these days, sadly, is in American schools. For years, the learning conditions in classrooms have been practically antithetical to the conditions people need to achieve flow and all the benefits that come with it. Especially in the era of No Child Left Behind and high-stakes testing, schools have often favored regimentation over self-directed learning, making it harder for students to get deeply engaged with topics that interest them. Paradoxically, these trends might be undermining the kind of student achievement they were designed to promote, and could even be causing student burnout.
    12. Have you ever been so engaged in an activity that you lost all sense of time? Hours passed, but you didn't notice; you felt calm, focused, deeply satisfied, even meditative? Psychologists have a word for that mental state: flow.
    13. But what happens when a challenge ramps up and we don't have the skills to meet it? We're at risk of experiencing "frazzle," as Daniel Goleman explains in the next video.
    14. Many people surveyed in research by Csikszentmihalyi and others report that flow is an optimal state, when they truly feel like they're "in the zone." These findings resonate with Matt Killingsworth's research on mind-wandering and happiness, which we covered earlier.  In flow, we experience the opposite of the kind of distracted mind-wandering that Killingsworth links to unhappiness.
    1. Sirois suggests that interventions that focus on increasing self-compassion may be particularly beneficial for reducing the stress associated with procrastination because self-compassion allows a person to recognize the downsides of procrastination without entangling themselves in negative emotions, negative ruminations, and a negative relationship to themselves. People maintain an inner sense of well-being that allows them to risk failure and take action. 
    2. Often because we fear failing at the task and dread all the negative self-evaluations that might result from that failure.

      This popular explanation, and more importantly, Wikipedia, seem to suggest otherwise - though a nod is given to this hypothesis in the wiki article.

    1. self-compassion tends to promote health related behaviors such assticking to one’s diet or reducing smoking, or seeking medical treatment when it'snecessary and even exercising.
    2. People who were mindful were likely to behappy, but people who were mindful and self-compassionate were more likely tobe happier.
    3. Self-compassion is alsoassociated with positive psychological strengths such as happiness, optimism, curiosityand exploration, personal initiative, and emotional intelligence.
    4. "self-compassion (unlike self-esteem) helps buffer against anxiety" when confronted with threats to one's self-image; it also found that increases in self-compassion are associated with increased feelings of social connectedness and decreased depression, among other indicators of psychological well-being.

      I wonder if the ability to laugh at oneself is subsumed by self-compassion; at least, they seem related.

    5. all the traps that people can fall into when they try to get and keep a sense of high self-esteem: narcissism, self-absorption, self-righteous anger, prejudice, discrimination, and so on. I realized that self-compassion was the perfect alternative to the relentless pursuit of self-esteem. Why? Because it offers the same protection against harsh self-criticism as self-esteem, but without the need to see ourselves as perfect or as better than others. In other words, self-compassion provides the same benefits as high self-esteem without its drawbacks.
    6. In fact, a striking finding of the study was that people with high self-esteem were much more narcissistic than those with low self-esteem. In contrast, self-compassion was completely unassociated with narcissism, meaning that people who are high in self-compassion are no more likely to be narcissistic than people low in self-compassion.
    7. People with high levels of self-esteem, however, tended to get upset when they received neutral feedback (what, I’m just average?). They were also more likely to deny that the neutral feedback was due to their own personality (surely it’s because the person who watched the tape was an idiot!). This suggests that self-compassionate people are better able to accept who they are regardless of the degree of praise they receive from others. Self-esteem, on the other hand, only thrives when the reviews are good and may lead to evasive and counterproductive tactics when there’s a possibility of facing unpleasant truths about oneself.
    8. Those with both high and low self-esteem were equally likely to have thoughts like, “I’m such a loser” or “I wish I could die.” Once again, high self-esteem tends to come up empty-handed when the chips are down.
    9. Participants’ self-compassion levels, but not their self-esteem levels, predicted how much anxiety they felt.
    10. self-compassion steps in precisely where self-esteem lets us down—whenever we fail or feel inadequate. Sure, you skeptics may be saying to yourself, but what does the research show? The bottom line is that according to the science, self-compassion does in fact appear to offer the same advantages as high self-esteem, with no discernable downsides. The first thing to know is that self-compassion and self-esteem do tend to go together. If you’re self-compassionate, you’ll tend to have higher self-esteem than if you’re endlessly self-critical. And like high self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with significantly less anxiety and depression, as well as more happiness, optimism, and positive emotions. However, self-compassion offers clear advantages over self-esteem when things go wrong, or when our egos are threatened.
    11. self-compassion entails three core components. First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering. Third, it requires mindfulness—that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it. We must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate.
    12. I slowly came to realize that self-criticism—despite being socially sanctioned—was not at all helpful, and in fact only made things worse. I wasn’t making myself a better person by beating myself up all the time. Instead, I was causing myself to feel inadequate and insecure, then taking out my frustration on the people closest to me. More than that, I wasn’t owning up to many things because I was so afraid of the self-hate that would follow if I admitted the truth.
    13. when we acceptourselves fully, and we embrace who we are, flaws and all, then it actually does allowus to see ourselves clearly (because it’s safe tosee ourselves clearly), and because we care about ourselves and don’t want to suffer,we’re going to try as much as possible to makechanges that, you know, are going to make us healthier and happier, but we also knowthat if we don’t succeed, it’s still OK.
    14. if you really have self-compassion, remember, you are more ableto see yourself clearly. It is safer to see yourself clearly and therefore it’s a loteasier for you to take responsibility because it’sokay to have messed up, to have made a mistake.

      This is to emphasize the difference with making excuses for oneself, and it is a fairly interesting distinction.

    15. Self-compassionisn’t poor me, self-compassion is: it’s hard for all of us. The human experienceis hard for me, for you, this is the way life is. It’s not ego-centric, quite the opposite,it’s a much more connected way of relating toyourself. And also this is why the mindfulness is so important. When we’re mindful of oursuffering, we see it as it is, we don’t ignore it, but we also don’t over-exaggerateit.
    16. “this is really hard. This is difficult. I need a little care and compassion toget me through this.” Then we really aren’tat our best, at our most psychologically stable, when we gotowards trying to fix that problem. So it’s actually something you have to remind yourselfto do before going straight into fixing problems.Just acknowledge and validate how difficult thesituation is.