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How To Make Your Relationship Stronger

Get to know the power of extrospection.

In psychology, introspection has a long history as a key to understanding how the mind works. It was the method advocated by German physiologist Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) who is considered to have founded the first experimental psychology lab. Wundt believed that by gaining insight into his own thought processes, he could gain understanding of the structures that make up our mind. In his Leipzig lab, founded in 1872, he advocated the use of introspection even as he designed what we now regard as primitive experimental tools to understand perception.

We now think of introspection, a fundamental process used in mindfulness, more generally as “thinking to yourself.” According to mindfulness advocates, when you think to yourself, you become not only more self-aware, but more aware of your environment.

I’ve often wondered if there is a parallel process, what we might call extrospection, that occurs when you articulate your innermost thoughts to others. Like oversharing, or too much information (TMI), perhaps you blab at length about what’s going on inside your mind. Extrospection could make you seem more approachable, but it can also get you into trouble. If your words reveal your inner state when that inner state is angry or critical of others, you’re better off keeping your thoughts to yourself until the situation is appropriate.

Introspection has social aspects that often do concern the behavior and possible feelings of other people. According to the notion of Theory of Mind, we are constantly formulating propositions about the thoughts and motivations of people in our lives. We can use introspection to gain data to feed those propositions, as we try to understand other people by measuring our own reactions. For example, if you’re watching a news story in a public place, such as a waiting room covering a violent murder, you most likely are feeling fearful and sad. Given the content of that news story, by defining your own feelings, you are likely to assume other people are experiencing similarly negative emotions.

Wundt believed that introspection could provide the data needed to understand the structures of the mind, but he didn’t have many tools to use to peer directly into those structures. Nearly 150 years later, we still can’t observe exactly what neurons are doing in the brain, but we can see at a more general level which brain structures become activated under particular experimental instructions.

Ute Kreplin and Stephen Fairclough (2015), of Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, designed an intriguing experiment to examine introspection as a tool to understand the feelings of others. They measured the activity of regions of the brain thought to be involved in Theory of Mind, which is when we use our own thoughts to understand those of others. Their young adult participants were exposed to two types of artistic images designed to evoke positive and negative emotions. In the “self” condition, participants were instructed to think about how the image makes “you” feel, whether, sad, happy, or angry. In the “other” condition, they were asked to think about how the artist felt while painting the picture, and what type of person the artist was—happy, angry, or sad.

The paintings designed to evoke positive emotions were pleasant and attractive, such as a still life of fruit. The negative paintings were ugly or disgusting. The example the authors show in the article, for example, was of a pair of androids apparently committing sodomy on some kind of animal, something I’m pretty sure anyone would see as repulsive.

While viewing these images, participants were hooked up to a brain scanning machine that measured blood flow through the regions of the brain involved in Theory of Mind activity. The researchers expected greater activation of these regions during the “self” condition, but instead found that the “other” condition evoked greater neural activation. However, the elements of the painting turned out to play a critical role in determining which brain areas rose to the occasion. It was while viewing the negatively-valenced paintings that participants became more aroused under the “other” condition instruction. When viewing the positive paintings, their brains were more likely to become activated in the “self” condition.

The upshot of the study is that we seem to become more mentally and emotionally engaged when we imagine others to be sad or angry. This study suggests that our empathy is more engaged when others are in pain. We use our mental energies to understand how they’re feeling, putting aside our own possible distress or anxiety. Seeing pleasant images leads us to engage in more introspection regarding our own emotional state.

The findings also suggest why we are so drawn to beautiful images in art—and why we find them soothing. When you look at Van Gogh’s sunflowers or Monet’s water lilies, do you feel inwardly happy and relaxed? This study suggests that art can help you engage in self-soothing if you allow yourself to experience those positive emotions.

Fulfillment in our relationships may depend heavily on our ability to understand how others are feeling. As stated by the authors, the Theory of Mind perspective proposes that “empathy and perspective-switching is fundamental to one’s ability to navigate the social world” (p. 39). Examining your own reactions when the person you love is feeling upset or angry may provide you with the mental tools you need to be a better listener, and partner.

References


Kreplin, U., & Fairclough, S. H. (2015). Effects of self-directed and other-directed introspection and emotional valence on activation of the rostral prefrontal cortex during aesthetic experience. Neuropsychologia, 7138-45. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.03.013

Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.    Fulfillment at Any Age    Jun 18, 2016
 
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26 Mind-Blowing Psychology Facts That You Never Knew About People

Learning something new about yourself is always interesting and entertaining. And understanding the psychology behind the way we behave, treat others, and express ourselves can be even more appealing.

Today, we have compiled a list of the most surprising psychology facts that can help you better understand yourself and others.

Our emotions don’t affect the way we communicate.
In fact, the very opposite is true:

 

  1. Any friendship that was born in the period between 16 and 28 years of age is more likely to be robust and long lasting.
  2. Women generally prefer men with deep husky voices because they seem more confident and not aggressive.
  3. The people who give the best advice are usually the ones with the most problems.
  4. The smarter the person is, the faster he thinks, and the sloppier his handwriting is.
  5. Our emotions don’t affect the way we communicate. In fact, the very opposite is true: the way we communicate has an influence on our mood.
  6. The way a person treats restaurant staff reveals a lot about their character.
  7. People who have a strong sense of guilt are better at understanding other people’s thoughts and feelings.
  8. Men are not funnier than women: they just make more jokes, not caring whether other people like their humor or not.
  9. Shy people talk little about themselves, but they do this in a way that makes other people feel that they know them very well.
  10. Women have twice as many pain receptors on their bodies than men, but they have a much higher pain tolerance.
  11. Listening to high-frequency music makes you feel calm, relaxed, and happy.
  12. If you can’t stop your stream of thoughts at night, get up and write them down. This will set your mind at ease so you can sleep.
  13. Good morning and good night text messages activate the part of the brain responsible for happiness.
  14. Doing things that scare you will make you happier.
  15. The average amount of time a woman can keep a secret is 47 hours and 15 minutes.
  16. People who try to keep everyone happy often end up feeling the loneliest.
  17. The happier we are, the less sleep we require.
  18. When you hold the hand of a loved one, you feel pain less keenly and worry less.
  19. Intelligent people tend to have less friends than the average person. The smarter the person is, the more selective they become.
  20. Marrying your best friend eliminates the risk of divorce by over 70%, and this marriage is more likely to last a lifetime.
  21. Women who have mostly male friends stay in a good mood more often.
  22. People who speak two languages may unconsciously shift their personalities when they switch from one language to another.
  23. Being alone for a long time is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
  24. Travel boosts brain health and also decreases a person’s risk of heart attack and depression.
  25. People look more attractive when they speak about the things they are really interested in.
  26. When two persons talk to each other and one of them turns their feet slightly away or repeatedly moves one foot in an outward direction, this is a strong sign of disagreement, and they want to leave.
Based on materials from 8FACT 


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Psychologists Explain How to Stay Calm In An Argument

“Conflict wreaks havoc on our brains. We are groomed by evolution to protect ourselves whenever we sense a threat. In our (world), we don’t fight like a badger with a coyote, or run away like a rabbit from a fox. But our basic impulse to protect ourselves is automatic and unconscious.” – Diane Musho-Hamilton

Emotional intelligence (“E.I.”) is defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” A low E.I. generally leads to an inability to stay calm, resulting in more conflict, while a high E.I. leads to less conflict and an ability to stay calm under pressure

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. Even the coolest, calmest, and the most collected person in the room will experience some degree of interpersonal turmoil at some point. In most cases, people don’t have any control over what happens next.

The only aspect of a conflict we can control is how we react. This isn’t to say that overriding this “automatic and unconscious” process is easy; it’s not.

But we can learn to recognize, acknowledge, and manage our negative emotions. We can override, to some degree, this innate physiological response.

We can learn to stay calm during any conflict, including in the midst of an argument.

HERE’S HOW:

1. TAKE DEEP BREATHS

Why: The ability to remain relaxed and centered during a conflict depends on your ability to de-tense the body. Shallow breathing is the body’s innate response when confronted with stress. Quashing this natural response and practicing deep breathing instead helps the body to remain calm.

How: Deeply inhale through the nose before slowly exhaling through the mouth. Smooth, deep breaths will cease the production of two stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol.

2. CONCENTRATE ON YOUR BODY

Why: Concentrating on any physical sensations that arise in a conflict permits you to mindfully change them. When your focus switches to the body, you can feel the tension, shallow breathing, etc. that accompanies stress.

How: When you notice your body beginning to tense, return your posture to a neutral state by relaxing your shoulders and hands. This open position communicates positivity using body language – and often diffuses conflict.

3. ACTIVELY LISTEN

Why: A person will initiate an argument, or some other kind of conflict, if they feel they’re not being heard. Furthermore, it’s impossible to diffuse a conflict without attentive and active listening.

How: When someone is talking, focus all of your attention on what the person says. Ignore any thoughts of constructing a response. Once the person finishes speaking, you have the necessary information to respond intelligently.

4. ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

Why: Open-ended questions are invaluable in conflict resolution. First, open-ended questions demonstrate that you are attentively listening. Second, these type of questions show respect for the person by allowing them to articulate their thoughts.

How: Learning to ask open-ended questions can be a bit tricky for some people. The easiest way to avoid asking “Yes” or “No” questions is not to use the words “Do,” “Don’t,” “Did,” and “Didn’t” when asking a question. Instead, use the words “What,” “Why,” “When,” and “How.” Try it now. Notice the difference?

5. KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN

Why: The easiest way to escalate conflict is raising your voice. On the flip side, one of the easiest ways to diffuse conflict is lowering your voice. Voice level is also linked to blood pressure. When BP reaches a certain point, it becomes more difficult to understand what’s being communicated.

How: The first step is to diffuse the initial anger of the other person. You can’t do this by raising your voice. On the other hand, you can quickly impart a sense of calm by making the conscious decision to lower your voice.

6. AGREE TO DISAGREE

Why: Not every conflict will produce amicable or mutually agreeable results. However, you can avoid deepening the conflict by politely disengaging from the conversation.

How: One law of interpersonal conflict is that it takes two participants. Separating yourself from an argument is appropriate under one of two circumstances: (1) the person becomes increasingly hostile, or (2) the conversation, despite your best efforts, is not going anywhere.

In closing, unless you happen to be a self-awareness guru, you will become angry in an argument at some point. Human beings are emotional creatures – and this ability to feel can be used to either our advantage or our detriment. It’s also important to forgive yourself if you should act in an unbecoming manner. We all do – and anyone who says otherwise is either a fool, a liar, or both.

By following one or more of the six tips given, you will assuredly feel more confident in any conflict. As a result, you’ll use your emotions and self-regulation to your benefit. Doing so, you will gain the trust and confidence of people in your good and even temperament.

To our non-argumentative better selves!

REFERENCES:
HTTP://WWW.NOTEY.COM/@HUBSPOTMKTGBLOG_UNOFFICIAL/EXTERNAL/8558555/HOW-TO-CALM-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT-INFOGRAPHIC.HTML?UTM_CONTENT=BUFFER8E58E&UTM_MEDIUM=SOCIAL&UTM_SOURCE=PINTEREST.COM&UTM_CAMPAIGN=BUFFER
HTTPS://HBR.ORG/2015/12/CALMING-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT
HTTPS://WWW.PINTEREST.COM/PIN/324751823116339269/
HTTPS://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BASICS/EMOTIONAL-INTELLIGENCE


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5 Things Much More Important than Being Right

I really don’t like to be wrong. How about you?

Are you someone who wants — even needs — to be right most of the time? All of the time? Do you like to have the last word in a disagreement? Do you get frustrated when others don’t agree with your opinions? I do, much more often than I’d like. And it never feels good.

Being right is so overrated, especially when it comes at the expense of basic human kindnesses. Inherent in the need to be right is the desire — consciously or not — to put ourselves above others, to make them wrong in order to appease our own insecurities and our ego’s need to be perfect.

Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the love in that? There are so many healthier choices we can make than needing to be right. Let’s start making them!

When we find our minds locked into the need to be right — whether in an argument, a discussion or a casual conversation — let’s call on our hearts to integrate the following five virtues.

1. Openness

We can’t always agree with each other, nor should we always try to. That doesn’t mean everyone who disagrees with us is wrong, or that we’re always right. There’s so much to learn from the ideas and opinions of others when we stay open to listening to them. When we give up the need to be right, we communicate and listen on a deeper level, with more understanding and acceptance, and with less judgment and resistance. This is how dialogues move forward and connections deepen. Also, our openness almost always encourages openness in those with whom we communicate.

2. Detachment

It really is possible to be passionate about what we’re trying to express without being attached to how it’s received. When we are attached to what we’re saying, and to the need to be right about it, we often end up forcing our ideas on others, or distorting our beliefs simply to gain the approval of others. Detachment gives us the freedom to communicate without the pressure of needing to be seen as right. Through detachment, we can find peace with however our comments are received and with whatever direction a conversation takes. Who’s right and who’s wrong becomes irrelevant.

3. Humility

The need to be right is rooted deeply in the ego, and one thing our egos are not is humble. Let’s take a breath and swallow our pride when someone says something we believe to be wrong. We don’t have to prove them so. Even more, we need to be willing to be wrong ourselves. It’s not about compromising our truths, but about being humble within the expression of them. It doesn’t matter whether we’re right or wrong. What’s important is how we handle ourselves in either case.

4. Forgiveness

Though the need to be right enters all areas of our lives, it’s especially damaging during conflicts with those we love. When we believe we’ve been wronged, we often want to prove to the one who’s hurt or betrayed us just how wrong they are. We want to hurt them back. Instead, the focus needs to be on forgiveness. It’s important to share our feelings and express how we feel hurt, but not without a commitment to forgiving the action and the person, no matter how wrong we believe them to be. When the desire to forgive takes precedent, the need to be right dissipates, opening the door for a more conscious and healthy connection.

5. Kindness

Dr. Wayne Dyer famously wrote, “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” We all struggle with the insecurities of our egos, with the insecurity of being wrong. And a threatened ego will almost always lash out. When we make an effort to prove someone wrong by establishing ourselves as right, we’re being unkind in the process, whether we intend to be or not. Only the ego cares about the distinctions between right and wrong. The heart simply loves and accepts whomever is on the other side of the conversation. Let’s operate from our hearts, with kindness.

The next time we feel ourselves pressing to make our point and needing to be right, let’s take a moment to remember that being right is not the goal. It’s unimportant. Let’s try to integrate some of the above qualities into our way of speaking, knowing that by doing so we invite a more conscious and loving exchange with whomever is on the other side of our dialogue.

What other qualities do you bring into your disagreements to keep them from being about who’s right and who’s wrong? I’d love to know.

 
by Scott Stabile      Oct 03, 2014


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Fun Fact Friday

    • Washing your hands makes you more optimistic.

    • 11% of the world is left-handed.

    • It takes 5 different parts of your brain for you to understand and laugh at a joke.

    • Our brains have a negativity bias and will remember negative memories more than good ones. This helps us to better protect ourselves.

  • It’s ok and “I’m fine” are the two most common lies spoken in the world.

  • A protein in human saliva called histatin can help wounds heal faster.

  • A beautiful face attracts more partners than a beautiful body, according to a scientific survey.

  • Single people tend to be less selfish than married people, according to new research.



Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Alexithymia describes a person who has a difficult time expressing their feelings to others.
  • Having a large amount of hair on your body is linked to having higher intelligence.
  • Kissing is good for teeth. The anticipation of a kiss increases the flow of saliva to the mouth, giving the teeth a plaque-dispersing bath.
  • If everyone in the world washed their hands properly, we could save 1 million lives a year.

cuddle

 

  • Depressed people tend to eat more chocolate.
  • The inventor of the television would not let his own children watch TV.
  • Human saliva has a painkiller called opiorphin that’s more powerful than morphine.
  • Cuddling with loved ones releases oxytocin, a hormone which reduces stress and prevents nausea and headaches.
Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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How to Listen with All Four of Your Ears

New research shows how to get your ears to listen through all their channels.

When we think about communication, we generally divide it into two categories—verbal and nonverbal behavior. But, according to the “four ear” model of communication, we speak and listen through four separate channels. The question is, when you communicate through one of those channels, what will your listener hear? A new study that used behavioral neuroscience to investigate the factors that influence how your message is received focused on the role of the hormonal neurotransmitter, oxytocin. Although it’s based in neuroscience, this study provides an understanding of how to make sure your listeners actually hear what you want them to hear.

University of Munich’s Michaela Pfundmair and colleagues (2016) based their work on the four-ear model theory, which proposes that each verbal message contains four different dimensions of communication:

  1. Factual content: Actual, specific, “mere” information.
  2. Self-revelation: Information about yourself that you wish to share with the other person.
  3. Relationship: Terms that express how you feel about the other person and about your relationship with that person.
  4. Appeal: A request that you are making of the other person.

This model suggests that what you communicate to others depends on which message you hope they will receive. If you want to address relationship issues, that’s the dimension you’ll emphasize. You wouldn’t provide a weather report to your intimate partner when you’re trying to get through a conflict about whether your partner loves you as much as you love your them.

What the recipient of your message hears, however, is less clearly determined. Your partner is potentially listening with all four ears and will have to decide which dimension your message is intended to convey. The weather example is perhaps a little extreme, but consider what might happen while trying to overcome a conflict about how you and your partner handle household finances. Your partner might think you’re providing factual information (what’s in your bank account) when instead you’re hoping that the conversation will lead to more openness and better communication about your finances in general.

communication

Another example, taken from the Pfundmair et al study, involves a communication in which you’re trying to send a message containing an appeal, such as seeing if your friend will watch your cat while you’re out of town for a few days. Your recipient can decide to ignore the appeal and instead figure that you’re simply talking about how much you care about your cat (self-revelation). The authors believe that messages intended to communicate an appeal are the most difficult to get across to produce the desired result. They argue that this is because appeals take the most effort to process by recipients: “Its underlying presumption is a concept of communication as social exchange or even unilateral donor action on behalf of the recipient” (p. 63). The appeal message attempts to create an effect. The listener has to decide whether to help realize this effect. As a speaker, you also know that such messages may not lead to that desired result, so you may not communicating them so successfully.

To determine whether people would be more receptive to appeal messages when their empathy is aroused, the researchers augmented the socially responsive channels in participants by giving them intranasal doses of oxytocin. One of this hormone’s primary effects is to increase empathy. If their empathy is aroused, participants should be more willing to accommodate an appeal message.

To examine the effect of oxytocin vs. a placebo on the interpretation of appeal messages, 43 male participants (with an average age of 30) completed a four-ear communication questionnaire. The questionnaire contained 16 scenarios for which participants were asked to rank-order the extent to which they represented one of the four types of messages. One scenario involved asking participants to imagine that a friend told them about having a fight with his girlfriend. The participant had to rank which of four interpretations they thought the statement communicated. In this example, the message could contain factual content (“I had a fight with my girlfriend”), self-revelation (“I’m worried about my relationship”), relationship information (“I feel that I can talk to you about my girlfriend”), or appeal (“Please listen to me and give me advice”).

Across the board, participants who were given oxytocin ranked the appeal dimension as highest of the four possible interpretations. This finding fit with the belief of the authors that messages that communicate appeal are the most likely to lead to social bonding. Although it’s true that appeals require more effort on the part of the listener, by communicating your desire for help, you stimulate the recipient to respond in a more prosocial manner. The oxytocin worked because it primed participants to hear the message as a request for help rather than a statement of fact.

We can’t routinely give our friends and family members oxytocin to help them focus on our appeals, but we can still learn from this study: By making clear that an appeal is an appeal, you can open the channels of reciprocity between you and the people with whom you interact. For example, if you want your partner to help out more with those financial balancing acts at home, instead of saying how much time you’ve spent (information), let your partner know that you’d like some help. When you communicate more clearly, you make it more likely that your partner’s appeal “ear” will be tuned in to that channel.

Similarly, when trying to completely understand what others are saying to us, take the extra effort and judge whether you’re receiving an appeal message that’s disguised as one of the other three dimensions. Having more fulfilling social interactions means that we must all try to communicate, and listen, through all four of our ears.

Fulfillment at Any Age        Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.        @swhitbo        Posted Jan 17, 2017    

References

Pfundmair, M., Lamprecht, F., von Wedemeyer, F. M., & Frey, D. (2016). Your word is my command: Oxytocin facilitates the understanding of appeal in verbal communication. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 7363-66. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.07.213