Last week, in weather that was over 70 degrees, a sign warning about ice caught my attention. Don't you think my photo of the sign makes a fitting poster to welcome the new spring? Enjoy the coming season!
Some of us set goals or make choices based on what we don't want to happen, what we want to move away from; others of us are moved by what we want to attain, or move towards. In any given situation, some people are away-from aroused while others are towards propelled. This away from (prevention)/towards (promotion) preference is called regulatory focus; I have blogged about it before.
While doing some research on zombies and other kinds of monsters, I kept thinking of regulatory focus. If we learn from stories (see my last post which is about whether stories teach), then perhaps our regulatory focus would give a clue as to what kinds of stories are most edifying for each of us. Which stories are most influential are likely not one-size-fits all since we are not monolithic. The type of story that will motivate is probably situational, too: Brian may be motivated by a story about how he doesn't want his life to turn out when looking at finances, but by the story of someone who got it right in the arena of health.
Approaches such as Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focused seek to find out what has worked in the past and move towards the future with those successes or assets in mind. Their stories don't invite or include monsters from the past. These methods seems to be towards/promotion focused and the stories are, too. The approaches are growing in popularity and who would argue with their spotlight on the positive?
In a significant sense, monsters are a part of our attempt to envision the good life or at least the secure life. Our ethical convictions do not spring fully grown from our heads but must be developed in the context of real and imagined challenges. In order to discover our values, we have to face trials and tribulation, and monsters help us imaginatively rehearse. Imagining how we will face an unstoppable, powerful, and inhuman threat is an illuminating exercise in hypothetical reasoning and hypothetical feeling.
When we seek to teach through narrative or story, should we include a mix of tales? Both of monsters or mistakes and of pioneers or progress? Look at what could go or has gone wrong, along with what can or has gone right? What do you think?
Brains on Purpose: Traits and States to Shape Your Conflict Fate
Our brains are changing all the time. We can be in control of those changes or we can have accidental brains, ruled by habit. Stephanie will show you how you can break bad habits, set and reach goals, and maximize your ability to handle conflict through the process of self-directed neuroplasticity. By using some basic techniques, you can take charge of how your brain changes. You can rewire your brain on purpose.
Over coffee a while back, my friend and colleague Andrea Gross described to me an idea. I thought it filled a real gap in successful aging, and could be very valuable to those of us who are growing older (who isn't?) and to our children. Because I was so impressed with her concept and its potential benefits, I asked her to write a guest post describing her idea to you. She agreed! Here it is. Thank you, Andy.
How Do I Want to Live When I’m 91? Why We All Need an Aging Care Directive
Please don’t get me wrong. I intend to live to a ripe old age. But just in case I die young, I’m prepared—maybe not emotionally, but practically.
I have a health care directive that tells what kind of medical care I want if I can no longer speak for myself. I’ve signed a durable power of attorney that names a person to handle my financial affairs if I am unable to do so. And of course I have a will that details how I want my estate to be divided.
But what if I don’t die? What if I wither gradually, remaining mentally competent but a bit slower on the uptake, physically able but wobbly on my feet? In that case, I need a fourth document, an Aging Care Directive that tells how I would like to live, what kind of assistance I’m most willing to accept.
How long should I continue to drive? Do I prefer to remain in my own home, move in with a relative, or
Some factors, needs, desires, traits, goals that seem inconsistent can be reconciled with a simple double axis chart like the one I have drawn above. This reconciliation can occur among two or more people, or inside one person. The chart helps us to see the conflict or inconsistency in a more visual way, or, as I often say, to solve it pictographically. (Click for more about the pictographic path.)
Let's use the example of a child custody dispute between divorcing parents. One parent wants much predictability in the agreement and the other wants more flexibility. Put predictability on the vertical axis (the lines labeled "x" and "y" are axes) and flexibility on the horizontal. The goal might be to find a solution in box 3 which is high in both predictability and flexibility. Far to the right on the "x" or horizontal axis and high up on the "y" or vertical axis is represented by box 3, just as low in both factors would be box 1.
Often, the parents discussing and describing what each of the boxes looks like for the family will help to resolve the conflict. Perhaps they will tell stories about the future in each box. For example, as they describe how box 1 would play out in their children's and their lives, both parties will probably agree that is not a solution either would choose. The discussion though can bring clarity and understanding. Discussion of each of the boxes can be enlightening.
The double axis method can be used for individuals, too. Let's say you want to engage in both stillness
Your emotions can certainly impact your decisions, but you might be surprised by the extent to which your emotions affect your pocketbook. New research from psychological scientist Jennifer Lerner of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and colleagues Yi Le and Elke U. Weber of Columbia University explores how impatience brought on by sadness can in turn produce substantial financial loss. The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Using data collected at the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory and the Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia, the authors found that subjects randomly assigned to view a video that induced sadness exhibited impatience and myopia, which were manifested in financial decisions that elicited higher gains in the short term, but lesser gains over the longer term. Thus, subjects in the sadness condition earned significantly less money than subjects in the neutral condition. They showed what is known as “present bias,” wherein decision makers want immediate gratification and so they ignore greater gains associated with waiting.
“Across three experiments, the median sad participant valued future rewards (i.e., those delayed by 3 months) 13% to 34% less than did the median neutral-state participant. These differences emerged even though real money was at stake and even though discount rates in the neutral condition were already high,” the authors reported.
“These experiments, combining methods from psychology and economics, revealed that the sadder person is not necessarily the wiser person when it comes to financial choices,” they concluded. “Instead, compared with neutral emotion,
The field of psychology includes many, many models, the understanding of which can be helpful to lawyers in negotiation and in the courtroom, and to mediators in conflict resolution. Several of those models, including AIM, may have a role in some decision making. What's AIM? From Wikipedia's entry on Affect Infusion Model:
The Affect Infusion Model (AIM) is a theoretical model in the field of human psychology. Developed by Joseph Forgas in the early 1990s, it attempts to explain how mood affects one's ability to process information. A key assertion of the AIM is that the effects of mood tend to be exacerbated in complex situations that demand substantial cognitive processing. In other words, as situations become more complicated and unanticipated, mood becomes more influential in driving evaluations and responses.
Affective dispositions to objects and persons are difficult to change. Once an individual forms a positive or negative feeling, to a certain city, a model of a car, or a type of food, then that feeling tends to persist. Others may assail the individual with facts and evidence to sway the feeling—the pros and cons of the given city, the fuel efficiency of the new car, the voluminous calories of the food—but once formed, the affect tends to persevere.
As these examples suggest, the tendency of affect to persevere despite evidence to the contrary is a very common phenomenon covering a rich range of experiences. Feelings are often independent of facts and evidence and it seems to be the case that it is harder to change how a person feels than what a person believes to be true. ...
Critical thinking is very important for reaching good decisions, whether in management and leadership of self or others; or in conflict resolution, from personal to global. Just what is critical thinking? Click to watch a short video that addresses that question.
A few of the many valuable points made in the video:
When we engage in critical thinking, we seek out and are guided by knowledge and evidence that fits with reality, even if it refutes our cherished beliefs
Critical thinkers cultivate an attitude of curiosity [the "c" in CARVE] and eagerness to widen their perspective and broaden their knowledge, and they are willing to do the work required to keep themselves properly informed about a subject
Critical thinkers examine reasoning, assumptions, and biases behind claims
What will sabotage critical thought? Lack of respect for reason, intellectual arrogance, unwillingness to listen, intellectual laziness, and lack of respect for evidence
If we think in false dichotomies, we will tend to draw false conclusions
A barrier to critical thinking: Leaping to false conclusions because you can't tolerate the ambiguity of not knowing
Though the seconds may tick by on the clock at a regular pace, our experience of the ‘fourth dimension’ is anything but uniform. When we’re waiting in line or sitting in a boring meeting, time seems to slow down to a trickle. And when we get caught up in something completely engrossing – a gripping thriller, for example – we may lose sense of time altogether.
But what about the idea that time flies when we’re having fun? New research from psychological science suggests that the familiar adage may really be true, with a caveat: time flies when we’re have goal-motivated fun.
Existing research demonstrates that experiencing positive feelings or states makes us feel like time is passing faster than negative feelings and states do. But, as some researchers observe, not all positive states are created equal. Sometimes we experience feelings of contentment or serenity. These feelings are certainly positive ones, but they aren’t very high in what researchers call ‘approach motivation’ – they don’t make us want to go out and pursue or achieve something. Feelings of desire or excitement,