Sunday 26 March 2017

Being Happy All the Time Isn't Realistic... shoot for 80% of the time!

With the focus on Positive Psychology, it can sometimes seem like the goal is to always be "happy".  Positive Psychology teaches us there are many benefits to using happiness as a tool to help us lead a fulfilling life.  But researchers also remind us there is value in "negative experiences".

Psychologist Todd Kashdan, the author of The Upside Of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self—Not Just “Good” Self—Drives Success and Fulfillment, has found in his research that negative emotions encourage people to take productive action or reframe events of the better. 

"Getting into a fight with your partner may strengthen your relationship, or feeling anxious about a test can increase studying, thus chances of a better grade."

Kashdan isn't saying forget about happiness. He's simply suggesting we focus on the positive 80 percent of the time — this includes kindness, compassion, and gratitude — and the “negative” 20 percent of the time. So like, the 80/20  rule,  but for mental health. 

Click here for a description of the 80/20 rule.

Sunday 19 March 2017

Exercise's Supercompensation Theory: does it work for our brains?

Bodybuilding can be a great analogy for successful change and growth.  In the link below TedTalk with Mischa Janiec inspired me to research more about Supercompensation.   This is the precise timing of your next work out to build on the natural process of your body "growing" in anticipation of the next taxing workout.  If we exercise again too soon, we will merely compromise our recovery.  If we wait too long, we will have returned "to normal", and thus we will be building from the same position as before, as though the workout didn't even happen.

I know there is no scientific basis to translate this to our mental capacity, but I found it to be a great metaphor... we go into life to fail so we know how to grow and get stronger.  And we must keep challenging ourselves for growth... but not too much too soon to cut into our recovery time, and not too little after too longer, or we will have forgotten the benefits of our earlier challenge. 

Invest in Yourself.  Go beyond in the gym, and you will go beyond in every other aspect of your life.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Comfort May Be Ruining Your Life

It's the hypothesis by Bill Eckstrom, in his Ted Talk Video "Why Comfort Will Ruin Your Life", that our very pursuit of a lower stress, low change environment may very well be the major cause of our malcontent and dissatisfaction.

He presents four interlocking circles in a vertical column.  Moving from Stagnation at the bottom, up to Comfort, to Complexity, then to Chaos at the top.  He says we always have to go to Complexity to grow.

Great value in this philosphy, but I have problems with the word "always".  We can grow our money comfortably with good investing.  We should lose weight "comfortably" for it to stay off.  We can make conscious decisions to improve our situation and ourselves, and do it comfortably and calmly.

However, I do agree that moving into Complexity will mean you have to change, grow and adapt, which are all good things for your over all quality of life and satisfaction. 

Some people just want to be comfortable and don't want to change... as short sighted as this may be.  What we need to do is learn to comfortable in complexity... and welcome it into our lives.

Sunday 5 March 2017

Genetics May Be Keeing You from Saving for the Future!

Whew!  I dunno about you, but when I used to blame one of my weaknesses of will, personality or morals on my parents and upbringing, that really helped.  But then I decided I couldn't use what did or didn't happen decades ago as an excuse.

But now I can blame it on GENETICS!   You see, it's not me!  Talk to the genes!

A Neuroeconomist (you just knew they had to exist) is making the argument that we may have a genetic reason for not saving for our own future!

“Saving doesn’t do much for your happiness,” says Michael Norton, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of the upcoming book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. “Having more money in the bank isn’t highly correlated with being a happier person but the more debt you have, the less happy you are.”

The article goes on to say that if we write ourselves a letter from the 65 year old version of ourselves, thanking us for the money and indicating all the things we can do with out, this will go a long way to encouraging us to save (up to 30% more!)

As well, for those of us who are not wired to save, it helps if we see any money we don't spend as extra money we can have to spend on something else!  It may seem really obvious to those folks who understand why saving is beneficial, but for the rest of us, literally saying "If you don't buy that, you'll have $100 to spend on something else in the future." or maybe even more specifically "You'll be able to buy that trip to Iceland that you've always wanted"... that will trigger the right part of our brain to enjoy the benefit of saving; if only so we can spend it again to dip our frigid body into a warm blue thermal-pool.

Spending activates the same part of our brain as having sex activates.  (Do people really have sex while in fMRI scanners?!)   At the same time, noticing the price tag can activate another part of the brain... the same area where foul smells are registered.  So the lesson here is if you see something you like, check out the price as quickly as possible to reduce your chance of falling totally in love first!

Also, telling others  you're going to save is a real motivator, and reporting to them weekly about how much you save will encourage you to save twice as much!

One area I disagree with this article: it says to pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first... While this make the most logical sense, the brain REALLY needs to see quick wins to be motivated, so pay off the card with the lowest balance, regardless of the interest rate amount, so your brain will be motivated by this quick win.  Then you will only have 6 more cards!!!!  Then pay off the next lowest balance quickly.  And now you have only 5 more cards.  Certainly, once you're in the habit of paying off the cards, then do the wise thing and pay off the one with the highest interest... but be sure you're IN THE HABIT of paying off cards first!