Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit

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Stress Reduction, Brain-Training, Self-Management, Innovation & Human Stupidity / Misery

Stress: Understanding, Theories & Research Findings | Stress: Role of Television Viewing, Sitting All Day & Over-zealous Sports Fans | Stress: Stress Reduction & Coping Approaches for stress, anger & Boredom | Self-Management, Brain / Mind Training, Critical Thinking Skills, Human Stupidity & Being Miserable | Innovation, Inspiration, Ethical Decision-making, Logical Fallacies, Bogus Apologies & the Simple Life

Stress Theories & Approaches

"Tend-and-Befriend"—A new Stress paradigm for women: Psychologist Shelly Taylor, Ph.D. with five colleagues developed the first new model to describe people's stress response patterns in more than 60 years. It adds another dimension to the "fight-or-flight" paradigm that describes how women may respond to stress by tending to themselves and their young while befriending others. Also see a UCLA study on friendship among women.

Fight, Flight or Freeze (Fright) is a more nuanced updating of Water Cannon's 75-year-old "fight-or-flight" paradigm for stress reactions. Each of these reactions can be functionally adaptive, yet the freeze (fright) option is often the most problematic for human beings given how we can get immobilized and often dissociate, and this is precisely when harm, abuse and trauma ensues. Some also add fool around or fidget as well as faint.

Distress and Eustress: Distress, whether in hypoactivity (doing too little) or hyperactivity (doing too much) is different from eustress (literally "good stress") or maintaining a level of activity that is in the Optimal Range of Performance—Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) moves through three stages of (1) Alarm; (2) Resistance; and (3) Exhaustion or Burnout. In the late 1940's Hans Selye put animals through horrendous experiments and did autopsies to discover what organ systems collapsed and in the 1950's he wrote seminal books on "stress", a word he coined for anything that demands a change. His central construct was homeostasis or the stability of the physiological systems that maintain life. The updated term for homeostasis is allostasis referring to the superordinate system by which stability is achieved through change. His work has been since updated by many stress researchers and theoreticians including Robert M. Sapolsky in his book Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers—Third Edition (2004).

Stress / Modern Life Up-to-the-minute Research

Record level of Stress and lowest level of emotional health found in college freshman, according to a survey of over 200,000 incoming full-time students at four-year colleges published in January 2011—Additionally, every year this survey has been conducted over the last 25 years, women had a less positive view of their emotional health than men, and that gap has widened. Speculation is that the economy has only added to the stress, not only because of financial pressures on their parents but also because students are worried about their own college debt and job prospects when they graduate. Linda Sax, professor of education at UCLA and former director to the freshman study who uses the data in research about college gender gaps, said the gap between men and women on emotional well-being was one of the largest in the survey. Other comments by her: "One aspect of it is how women and men spent their leisure time," she said. "Men tend to find more time for leisure and activities that relieve stress, like exercise and sports, while women tend to take on more responsibilities, like volunteer work and helping out with their family, that don't relieve stress." In addition, Professor Sax has explored the role of the faculty in college students' emotional health, and found that interactions with faculty members were particularly salient for women. Negative interactions had a greater impact on their mental health. "Women's sense of emotional well-being was more closely tied to how they felt the faculty treated them," she said. "It wasn't so much the level of contact as whether they felt they were being taken seriously by the professor. If not, it was more detrimental to women than to men." She added: "And while men who challenged their professor's ideas in class had a decline in stress, for women it was associated with a decline in well-being."

Stressed in America: The American Psychological Association's 2010 Stress in American Survey sends the clear message that chronic stress (i.e., stress that interferes with your ability to function normally over an extended period) is becoming a public health crisis. Nearly 75 percent of Americans say they are stressed out to the max with top concerns being money (76 percent), work (70 percent) and the economy (65 percent). One third of parents say stress is "extreme." Many stress-out Americans seem to underestimate or are in denial concerning the effect it has on their families, especially their children. Key findings from this November 2010 survey include: stress is up (i.e., Americans are suffering from moderate to high stress, with 44 percent reporting that their stress levels have increased over the past five years); children are hurting (i.e., almost a third of children reported that in the last month they had experienced a physical health symptom often associated with stress, such as headaches, stomach aches or trouble falling or staying asleep); self-care isn't a priority (i.e., only 40% of Americans rate their health as very good or excellent and they know they're not doing a good job taking care of themselves); and lack of willpower is a problem (i.e., Americans cite lack of willpower as the biggest barrier to adopting healthier behavior).

Video/Slide Show:

Modern life's wall-to-wall 24/7 jumble, speed, disconnection, spliced and sampled mash of technology via the internet, YouTube, Hula, PDA's, smart phones, faxes, texting and tweeters—Yes, the Beatles in Yellow Submarine were correct: It's All Too Much: Knowledge has continued to speed up over recorded time from doubling every 1500 years until the sixteenth century to every 250 years until 1750 AD to 150 years by 1900 and now is doubling every 1-2 years! Researchers report that people are inundated with about 100,000 words a day! Various sources estimate the number of commercial messages the average American consumer is exposed to from 247 to 500 to 600 to 850 to 1,000 to 2,000 to 3,000 to now 5,000 per day! Peruse documentation and commentary about the current state of affairs. Another late March 2010 San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article entitled "Couch potatoes swivel to Net while watching TV" looks at how simultaneous multimedia experiences are becoming ever more popular. Other recent articles report on the rise in simultaneous use of the web and TV, with Nielsen reporting that Americans in general now spend 35 percent more time using the Internet and TV at the same time than a year prior and that nearly 59 percent of consumers reported doing this at least one a month as well. Many possible stress-reducing antidotes are available, whether it is slow eating, yoga, meditation, contemplation/reflection, reading and being in a reading group, daily walking/exercise, volunteering, being out in nature, enjoying yourself, building great friendships and nurturing your present friends, prayer and a deepening spiritual life, for a return of "what is" and the inner peace of Presence.

Techno-Consumerism aims at liking, infatuation and enabling narcissism; anything real risks hurt and struggle and also can yield joy and love, such as nature, loving relationships and anything to do with people and the real world out there, all according to best-selling author Jonathan Franzen in a May 2011 opinion piece in the New York Times. Entertaining and well worth reading.

Distracted driving among young is rampant: An excerpt of this March 2011 article from an Associated Press article: "US Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports magazine have released a poll that....said that 63 percent of people under 30 acknowledged driving while using a handheld phone and 30 percent said they have sent text messages while behind the wheel. The Department of Transportation said nearly 5,500 people in the United States were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2009."

Risks in Modern life

Severe Risks of Engaging in Night Shift Work: Research continues to show that working at night runs counter to the body's natural circadian rhythm, causing major health problems such as sleep disorders, fatigue, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal upsets, poor judgment, crankiness, warped perspectives and impairment of concentration, data processing and short-term memory for night workers. About 20 percent of Americans are shift workers, mainly in the health care, industrial, transportation, communications and hospitality sectors of the workforce. Summary research results, health consequences and possible solutions are discussed at the links below.

Headphone use could help make you deaf: A January 2011 article in the New York Times makes the case against headphones and cites some disturbing research data, including the number of teenagers with slight to severe hearing loss jumped 33 percent since 1994 and headphone users who listen to music at high volumes for more than an hour a day risk permanent hearing loss after five years! OBefore you discount these findings as alarmist, read on with an open mind and a "what do I know?" attitude. Other links below examine the same issue. Can you hear this?

Videos: 3news.co.nz/Teens-going-deaf-because-of-endless-use-of-headphones~

Who's busiest? Are Americans workaholics? Americans work more than Brits or Germans—Working hours and household chores across OECD countries—Mexicans work longer hours than anyone else in OECD countries, devoting 10 hours to paid and unpaid work, such as cleaning or cooking at home, while Belgians work the least at 7 hours. The OECD average is 8 hours work per workday and most unpaid work is housework. Interestingly, Americans spent the least time cooking each day (30 minutes) and most people spend around 50 minutes a day cooking. The second link below looks specifically at the United States and how it stacks up to the other OECD countries.

Several June 2011 articles note that Americans now put in an average of 122 more hours per year than Brits, and 378 hours (nearly 10 weeks) more than Germans! American workers putting in longer hours for static salaries getting a bit much? We really do work too hard, ya think?

Stress: Understanding, Theories & Research Findings | Stress: Role of Television Viewing, Sitting All Day & Over-zealous Sports Fans | Stress: Stress Reduction & Coping Approaches for stress, anger & Boredom | Self-Management, Brain / Mind Training, Critical Thinking Skills, Human Stupidity & Being Miserable | Innovation, Inspiration, Ethical Decision-making, Logical Fallacies, Bogus Apologies & the Simple Life

Television Viewing / Commercials & Sitting All Day

Average time spent viewing television is at "all-time high" according to Nielsen: As of a report issued in February 2009, Nielsen says the average American household watches 8 hours and 15 minutes of television in a 24-hour period, while the average amount per individual (over the age of 2) is about 4 and a half hours! In the last three months of 2008, the average American television viewer watched more than 151 hours of television per month—an "all-time" high—up from 145 hours during he same period the previous year, and this increase is part of a long-term trend. The amount of time spent watching traditional TV increases with age. For example, one source stated that teenagers (12 to 17) spend 103 hours (approximately 33 hours/week) watching TV a month, while senior citizens (65 and older) spend 207 hours (approximately 52 hours/week)! Another report from 2007 shows the time spent per day, with women spending an average of about 5 and a quarter hours per day watching TV, men spending a little over 4 and one-half hours per day, and teens and children spending close to three and one-half hours per day. This translates into women spending about 37 hours watching TV per week, men spending about 31 hours watching TV per week, and teens and children spending about 23 hours watching TV per week! View data on TV use and depictions of violence, prevalence of commercialism and statistics relating TV usage upon family life and children. A fifteen year study released in 2003 shows childhood exposure to media violence predicts young adult aggressive behavior.

Watch TV less, feel richer; watch TV more, feel poorer: A 1997 study by researchers Thomas O' Guinn and L. J. Shrum found that people who watch more television believe that a higher percentage of Americans have tennis courts, luxury cars, maids and swimming pools. This perception can lead to feelings of inadequacy when you don't have these material possessions and a willingness to live beyond your means. A similar observation is many women tend to feel less attractive by looking at fashion magazines, supposedly from setting up unrealistic comparisons and falling short. A 1995 psychological research study reported that 3 minutes spent looking at models in a fashion magazine prompted 70% of women to feel depressed, guilty and shameful. Another research finding is that 50% of American women are dieting and 75% of "normal" weight women think they are too fat. A Merck Family Fund poll found that 56% of people who reported that they were "heavily in debt" also admitted to watching "too much TV." A word to the wise—a fulfilling life is a lived life, not watching one on a screen.

Television commercials are now legally mandated as of December 15, 2010 to ensure that commercials aren't louder than regular programming: On December 2 the U.S. Congress passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM), sponsored by Representative Anna Eshoo, a 10-term Democrat from Silicon Valley, California, that requires broadcast and cable stations to adopt industry technology that ensures that commercials aren't louder than regular programming. The legislation attracted overwhelming bipartisan support—a rare thing—and President Obama signed it into law Wednesday, Dec. 15. A triumph for all television consumers! Both remarkably overdue and just on time as an unexpected wonderful gift for the holidays and beyond. Thank you Anna Eshoo!

Sitting All Day and Sedentary activities are strongly injurious to your physical health: Sedentary activities like prolonged TV watching increases risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and overall mortality, according to a June 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzing data from eight large studies. A similar research finding was published in May 2010 that found that sedentary behaviors increase risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in men. In a related June 2011 study, Epidemiologist Steven Blair found that men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity has a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported less than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity, and many of these men routinely exercised!

Risks for Over-zealous Sports Fans

Emotional connection of sports fans can put them at increased risk of a heart attack after big games like the Super Bowl. February 2011 research shows: A home-team loss can literally break a fan's heart! Men and women were affected with increased deaths from heart attacks in weeks after their home-team lost. Apparently it is the intensity of the game and the fan's emotional attachment to the team that can trigger the same kind of stress and flight-or-flight reaction as extreme events like earthquakes. March 2011 research results showed that domestic violence police reports rise 10% after NFL upset losses (i.e., defeats when the home team was predicted to win by four or more points). Sports fans, beware.

Stress: Understanding, Theories & Research Findings | Stress: Role of Television Viewing, Sitting All Day & Over-zealous Sports Fans | Stress: Stress Reduction & Coping Approaches for stress, anger & Boredom | Self-Management, Brain / Mind Training, Critical Thinking Skills, Human Stupidity & Being Miserable | Innovation, Inspiration, Ethical Decision-making, Logical Fallacies, Bogus Apologies & the Simple Life

Stress Reduction

Stress Reduction Basics

SKILLFUL MEANS Wiki!—Billed as a Wikipedia of methods for healing distress and dysfunction, promoting well-being and personal growth, and deepening spiritual practice: A broad array of wonderfully helpful "skillful means" are available and relevant for psychological practices, meditation practices and other practices. Peruse these for very timely stress relief as you engage them. Developed by neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D., it is open to contributors from diverse fields and backgrounds. Highly recommended.

Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) is a flexible individually-tailored multifaceted form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): It is aimed to help people cope with the aftermath of exposure to stressful events and on a preventative basis to "inoculate" individuals to future and ongoing stressors. Crucially, it offers skills acquisition, rehearsal and application in having the words and coping skills tailored to the specific stressors people may have to deal with. Specific coping skills may include emotional self-regulation, self-soothing and acceptance, relaxation training, self-instructional training, cognitive restructuring, problem-solving, interpersonal communication skills training, and attention diversion procedures. Psychologist Donald Meichenbaum, Ph.D. is the seminal figure most associated with SIT.
apa.org/divisions/div12/rev_est/sit_stress.html Inoculation Training.ppt~

People with faith don't get as stressed as people without it: Research released in June 2010 found that theist students who were primed to think about their faith exhibited the least neural distress after making mistakes, in contrast to atheists who had high defensive activity. Previous research reported that religious people tend to live longer, healthier lives. An excerpt: "If having faith blunts the distress of errors, the researchers believe, spiritual people may have an advantage in coping with our topsy-turvy world."

Stress Reduction: Practical articles

Psychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is offering "Just One Thing", a free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week that he states "will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind." Especially valuable is the link to the issue addressing "Taking in the Good" since it offers very simple and practical ways to work around the brain's built-in "negativity bias" and help imprint uplifting positive events in three steps. The recent column on "Do you need a break?" offers many simple stress-reduction strategies.

Consider that HOPE is not your friend (nor is FEAR)—When stressed to the point of feeling hopeless, you can begin to live in the present (like children do) WITHOUT HOPE: Do you want anything to do with the twin phantoms of hope and fear? Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis brilliantly noted, "I fear nothing. I hope for nothing. I am free." Once you realize that hope is nothing more than a delusion or false idea with a positive spin being projected by the ego-mind into an unknown and unknowable fictive future, while fear is exactly the same except it is with a negative spin, does it make any sense whatsoever to have anything to do with either hope or fear? Don't both hope and fear inevitably set up disappointment, frustration and abused reaction patterns? A healthy alternative is to fully aware of "what is" or reality (that is the only thing that is real) and remain in the only time that actually exists (the present or now). It's fine to be aware of realistic fears that sometimes arise and take necessary actions, and realize the vast majority are imaginary. It's also fine to hold an affirmative, positive vision right here-and-now and let every moment be the opportunity for its culmination and fulfillment, it's manifestation and actualization, without a shred of hope. Paul Watzlawick, Ph.D. wrote a book with the title that says it all: The Situation is Hopeless, but Not Serious (1983). Explore the links that cover hope/ hopelessness and fear/fearlessness along with offering many practical actions you can do immediately when you're feeling hopeless. Psychological research from November 2009 supports the conclusion that giving up hope can make those living with a serious illness happier. Moreover, the researchers noted that there was a dark side to hope in that it can cause people to put their lives on hold. Psychiatrist David Viscott, M.D. is a best-selling author. In his book Emotional Resilience (1996) Viscott sees hope as interfering with the natural healing process by causing you to wait or postpone taking actions to turn around your own life. Viscott perceives hope as denial and recommends you drop hope in lieu of accepting exactly "what is" and move forward in taking corrective, adaptive actions as quickly as possible. Further he notes that hope is a reflection of powerlessness, much like a child's cry in the face of the fearful unknown. In other words, hope thwarts the normal movement to save yourself. Even the comedian Lily Tomlin notes, "Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past."

Life's Little Mysteries is a lovely website that explores just as the title says—life's little mysteries, whether they be under the subject headings of Body & Mind, Creatures, Culture, Earth, Space, Entertainment, Money, Sports, Tech or Weird. Absolutely fascinating and recommended.

Burnout (the experience of long-term emotional, cognitive, and physical exhaustion and diminished interest caused by excessive and prolonged stress)—Diagnosis, causes, coping skills, and prevention: Burnout is not synonymous with stress. Burnout is about being dried up, used up, feeling empty and "not enough", as in not enough motivation, vision, self-care and motivation, while stress is usually about "too much", as in too much activity, over-engagement, pressures, urgency and being very reactive. It is essential to recognize work-related and lifestyle causes of burnout, physical, emotional and behavioral signs/symptoms of burnout, and personality traits that can contribute to burnout. Recognizing emotional exhaustion and its short-term and long-term effects can not only be a catalyst for learning stress management approaches and improving quality of life, it can also be life-saving. Compassion fatigue and caregiver burnout are two varieties of burnout. The key is building the primary preventive skills and strategies over the long-term to protect yourself from even getting close to burnout, while you "live long and prosper" (as the character Spock from Star Trek would say).

Anger Coping Approaches

Acting Out In Anger is defeating and destructive—Profound health and stress impact of acting out anger

Boredom Remedies

Boredom—Research shows both negative and positive findings (Perhaps it is "where you come from" and how you do boredom that really matters that accounts for the following results): Being bored can negatively impact your health since research shows that there's a possibility that the more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early, while other survey research shows teenagers turn to alcohol due to boredom. A contrary view is offered that people tune things out for clear purposes and over time boredom becomes a tool for helping sort information, much like an increasingly sensitive spam filter. Research in various field, including education and neuroscience, make the counter positive case that falling into a bored and numbed trance allows the brain to reformulate the outside world in ways that are creative and productive at least as often as they are disruptive. One set of researchers concluded that it is time that boredom "be recognized as a legitimate human emotion that can be central to learning and creativity." Also several links offer ways to overcome boredom, if you are so inclined. Consider it all for yourself.

Boredom: A lively History (2011) by Peter Toohey is anything but boring, at least according to the review in the New York Times—This author distinguishes between two main forms of boredom: 1) simple boredom (typically caused by unwelcome confinement or monotony, that is typically transient for most people with some chronic sufferers); and 2) existential boredom (people who seem to find the human condition of existence itself to be boring (also known as melancholy, depression, acedia or Christian spiritual despair and world-weariness among others. Not boring!

Stress: Understanding, Theories & Research Findings | Stress: Role of Television Viewing, Sitting All Day & Over-zealous Sports Fans | Stress: Stress Reduction & Coping Approaches for stress, anger & Boredom | Self-Management, Brain / Mind Training, Critical Thinking Skills, Human Stupidity & Being Miserable | Innovation, Inspiration, Ethical Decision-making, Logical Fallacies, Bogus Apologies & the Simple Life

Brain / Mind Training, Biases & Critical Thinking Skills

Brain Training Games

The brain's/mind's strong "negativity bias" builds in wariness, so we need not get caught up in fear-driven "paper tiger paranoia" according to neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D.: Read his October 2010 article "Stephen Colbert: We Don't Need to 'Keep Fear Alive' found in the online Huffington Post. Peruse his October 2009 three-part presentation "The Self-Transforming Brain & Taking in the Good" that also discusses this phenomenon at the Awakening to Mindfulness conference in San Diego, California. In a short interview and in an hour-long talk Rick gives an overview of the brain and how it functions from his fine book Buddha's Brain (2009). Entertaining and informative.

Cognitive biases: Several lists of cognitive biases are highly worthwhile to periodically review in order to use good judgment and not get hoodwinked, bamboozled and hornswaggled by our neurology and environmental conditioning. These lists include decision-making and behavioral biases, biases in probability and belief, social biases, memory errors, and common theoretical causes of some cognitive biases. Each bias when revealed and remembered can help better understand and temper each pattern of deviation in judgment. Flawed self-evaluations or inflated self-views, such as the majority of people perceive that they are better than average drivers or above-average intelligence, are particularly intriguing since all are statistical impossibilities. Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself (2005) by David Dunning, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Cornell University, is a remarkable achievement given his social psychological research on mistaken views of competence, why people often remain blissfully unaware of their incompetence and personality flaws, and exploring why people tend to perceive themselves as more unique and special than they really are and profess inflated opinions of their moral fiber that are not matched by their deeds. Of particular note is the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which "people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it." The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than in actuality; by contrast, the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to a perverse result where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others." The authors draw an analogy with anosognosia—a condition in which a person who suffers a physical disability due to brain injury seems unaware of or denies the existence of the disability. This may include unawareness of quite dramatic impairments, such as blindness or paralysis. In a number of studies Kruger and Dunning hypothesized that with a typical skill which humans may possess in greater or lesser degree: (1) Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own skill level; (2) Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skills in others; (3) Incompetent individuals fail to recognize their extremity of their inadequacy; and (4) If they can be can be trained to substantially improve their own skills level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill. Presence and witnessing coupled with awareness of cognitive biases are key skills to identify and begin correcting cognitive biases. Articles below address antidotes for cognitive biases and "implicit bias." Also peruse all the memory biases. All highly recommended

Some people are simply too asleep, self-deceived and unaware they are unaware to know they are ignorant. Read the New York Times five-part series published in late June 2010 on "The Anosognosic's Dilemma" that explores the Dunning-Kruger Effect, that is, how our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence.

Antidotes to Cognitive biases:

"Fundamental Attribution Error"—A major cognitive bias to repeatedly be aware of and quickly correct: Undervaluing the influence of context / environment / situation in explanations for observed behaviors of other and overvaluing supposedly stable dispositional / personality traits. The adage "put yourself in the other person's shoes" goes a long way to correct for this error. Most important! Please also check out the "Not-So Fundamental Attribution Error" that Bryan Caplan offers in a behavioral economics context drawing upon more recent research showing that the effects of personality traits are generally as strong as the effects of situations, thus showing that a moderate position is correct with both the person and the situation being necessary to help understand and explain human behavior given both have comparable relations with behavioral outcomes. Who knew?

Proposed scientific concepts that would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit: New York Times Op-Ed writer David Brooks in March 2011 writes on the suggestions of 164 thinkers at the Edge Conference. Review suggestions including path dependence, the Einstelung Effect, the Focusing Illusion, Supervenience, the Fundamental Attribution Error and Emergence. Peruse all the 164 candidates being offered by the attendees. Fascinating! What would you nominate?

Confirmatory bias—Given a hunch or hypothesis, people start to look and distort information to confirm it is true: The confirmatory bias is a huge cognitive bias to derail and distort effective decision-making and seeing things as they are: David Dunning, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Cornell University and author of Self-Insight (2005, p. 47), discusses confirmatory bias: In short, once a question has been asked or a hypothesis advanced, people assess their answers by looking for positive evidence that the hypothesis is true and neglect searching for evidence that the hypothesis is false. Given this bias tends to make people too confident in their choices, he notes that research supports people writing down why they might be wrong tends to have a corrective effect in influencing their confidence and helps aligns it more accurately and appropriately with the actual or realistic rates of accuracy (p. 48). The confirmatory bias would more broadly be the tendency to see, search and interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and beliefs. This bias is closely related to belief bias or one's evaluation of the logical strength of an argument being biased by their belief in the truth or falsity of the conclusion, according to Wikipedia.org.

Critical Thinking Questions: Being familiar and regularly using critical thinking questions in the cognitive domain, as offered through Bloom's Taxonomy, is especially important for higher level distinctions, judgments and decision-making. Bloom's Taxonomy, as developed by Linda G. Barton, M.S. Ed. in Quick flip Questions for Critical Thinking (1997), offers key words and questions at the following six levels in the cognitive domain: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. A most useful structure to return to time and again. Recommended

Wikipedia—Critical Thinking

Counterfactual Thinking: This is the process of mentally changing some aspect of the past as a way of imagining what might have been. An amazing study of Olympic medalists indicated the counterintuitive finding that bronze medalists tend to be happier than silver medalists. Researchers attribute these results to the most compelling counterfactual alternative for silver medalists is winning the gold, whereas for the bronze medalist it is finishing without a medal. Thus, the silver medalists were less happy in holding the upward counterfactual of winning the gold and the bronze medalists were happier in holding the downward counterfactual of not winning a medal at all. Counterfactual thinking can serve a preparatory function for handling the unfolding present or future (upward counterfactuals) and also serves an affective function for feeling better (downward counterfactuals), but not help us in future situations. Re-imagined versions of the past, are doomed to regret, despair, and an excruciating sense of loss. Counterfactuals produces feelings like guilt, regret, sadness and despair, yet they can also help you change your behavior and sometimes help you feel better. Counterfactual thoughts have also been categorized with respect to the direction of comparison relative to the actual event. Upward counterfactuals serve a preparatory function in that identification of the cause of a negative outcome or some other factor that could have avoided the unfortunate situation and imagining how things could have been better, may prepare us for future similar situations. On the other hand, downward counterfactuals are considered to serve an affective function (the comparison between what happens in fact, and how things could have been worse, should help people to feel better), but this will not help us in future situations. Upward counterfactuals produce comparatively greater distress but, paradoxically, can lead to better adaptive outcomes than downward counterfactuals. February 2010 research found that counterfactual thinkers are more motivated and analytical in organizational settings. While counterfactual thinking can serve analysts in preparing for any eventuality, counterfactual thinking clearly is not in the context of this present moment or presence, possibly accounting for their producing feelings of guilt, regret, sadness and an excruciating sense of loss and despair. Thus they can be seen as one instance of hypotheticals, of which you could say you have no idea what someone is talking about!

Actual research study of satisfaction among Olympic medalists

Organization Skills, Human Stupidity & Being Miserable

Being organized and structured allows you to be more effective and productive—Organizational systems and approaches that actually are simple, efficient and above all used can make a tremendous difference in the quality of our work and lives. One approach is the Getting Things Done (GTD) system that uses the two key elements of control and perspective within a workflow process to gain control over all tasks and commitments one wants or needs to get done and six different levels of focus to provide them with a useful perspective. It was developed by David Allen and offered in a book by the same name. Free public podcasts and other related links are available at the link below. FranklinCovey organizational planning systems have been quite popular and their "Get Organized Community" offers organizational advice and insight. Other approaches are also offered through other links.

Nine plus fifty essential "Life Skills" for women (and men): Self-efficacy, or the confidence that you can take actions in the world and know that these make a difference in yielding desired results and outcomes, is a beautiful muscle and ability to learn. So, learn to sew a button, tie a necktie, do a basic waltz, hang a picture, throw a yard sale, build a fire, compost, roast a chicken and more. The link to ehow.com offers "How To Do Just About Everything" along with videos and another link to Marc and Angel Hack Life's "50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do." You will feel empowered.
Videos: ehow.com/videos.html

The Five Basic Laws of Human Stupidity: What's more fun and dangerous than stupidity?—Carlo M. Cipolla put forward "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" in the Spring, 1987 The Whole Earth Review. They have not changed since then or for millenniums before now! Albert Einstein once noted, "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Let's not overlook Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. In a nutshell, the five laws are : 1) Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation; 2) The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person; 3) A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process; 4) Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error; and 5) A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is. Other links also explore this rich deep topic. Recommended.

Learn to refine your abilities to be utterly miserable and languish in despair!!---Surefire ways to create yourself as miserable and despairing (and equally heartily laugh, release them all, and be free!) Also check out the masters of "demotivation" with all their outrageously smart gallows humor posters at www.despair.com along with reading the classic books How To Make Yourself Miserable (1966) by Dan Greenburg and a newer one on the subject entitled How To Be Totally Miserable (2007) by John Bytheway. There are so many ways to make yourself miserable and despairing that it simply boggles the mind!! (It is also equally available to be exactly as you truly are and bask in original sanity and natural happiness in being alive).

Miserable Resources

Misery: So many ways to create misery, unhappiness and suffering (All well worth avoiding): Classic books on the subject include Dan Greenburg's How To Make Yourself Miserable (1976) and the more recent guide of John Bytheway's How To Be Totally Miserable: A Self-Hinder Book (2007). Also check out the "demotivation" posters at Despair, Inc. and related book The Art of Demotivation—Manager's Edition: A Visionary Guide for Transforming Your Company's Least Valuable Asset—Your Employees by E. L. Kersten, Ph.D.

Videos: youtube.com/watch?v=oOFKsvBn7oQ

Schadenfreude & Despair, Inc.—Schadenfreude, the outlaw emotion of shameful pleasure—is the exquisite feeling of delight taken in someone else's comeuppance, especially when envied persons fall from grace—Another slice into being human! Findings from Japanese researchers published February 2009 in the respected journal Science found physiological mechanisms of the painful emotion of envy in activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and a rewarding reaction of schadenfreude in activation of the ventral striatum. An excerpt from the New York Times April 2011 Op-Ed piece detailing this research: "When subjects felt envy, their brain scans showed increased activity in their anterior cingulate cortex, a region associated with aversive emotion, pain and conflict. When schadenfreude was invoked, the reward circuits of their brains lighted up, the ventral striatum and medial orbitofrontal cortex, the same parts of our brains that hum when we’re enjoying good food or winning contests." Peruse the posters of DESPAIR, INC., a company based in Austin, Texas that produces posters and souvenirs that satirize the motivational indoctrination common in corporate America, for many examples of schadenfreude, most are hilarious if in questionable taste. Interestingly, some consider the opposite of schadenfreude to be the Buddhist idea of mudita, "happiness in another's good fortune" or "sympathetic joy."

Stress: Understanding, Theories & Research Findings | Stress: Role of Television Viewing, Sitting All Day & Over-zealous Sports Fans | Stress: Stress Reduction & Coping Approaches for stress, anger & Boredom | Self-Management, Brain / Mind Training, Critical Thinking Skills, Human Stupidity & Being Miserable | Innovation, Inspiration, Ethical Decision-making, Logical Fallacies, Bogus Apologies & the Simple Life

Visionaries, Innovation & Making a Difference

Visionaries inspire seeing beyond the apparent limitations into a larger vision for everyone—Life-changing, in a word.

Innovation research: In a late October 2010 article in the New York Times, Steven Johnson offers four quadrants to help understand innovation after an analysis of 300 of the most influential innovations in science, commerce and technology: 1) classic solo entrepreneur, protecting innovations in order to benefit from them financially; 2) amateur individual, exploring and inventing for the love of it; 3) private corporations collaborating on ideas while simultaneously competing with one another; and 4) the space of collaborative, nonproprietary innovation, exemplified in recent years by the Internet and the Web, two groundbreaking innovations not owned by anyone. He is most interested in the fourth quadrant that is an open system not locked in a zero sum conflict with markets (i.e., a win-loss game) which creates new platforms which support commercial ventures. Steven Johnson is an author and entrepreneur whose book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation (2010) has recently been published and was the basis for this article.

Innovation: The New York Times Magazine presents its annual collection of the most innovative ideas. It is clearly the single most fascinating article of the year. Check out previous years as well since they are all wonderful windows into the ingenious, the weird, the fantastical, the practical and the amazing. A yearly highlight! Also check out Time magazine's 50 best inventions for 2008 and 2009 along with videos. For some comic relief and some blunderheaded wild pitches, check out Time magazine's 50 worst inventions. Look at the 50 best inventions from 2010 and years before (scroll down near the bottom of the link). Also peruse the all-Time 100 gadgets and top 10 failed futuristic predictions. Also check out the "Best Ideas of a Decade" that run through the best ideas of each year, the most prescient picks, best understatement, oversold, a few ideas we could use more of, the best one-sentence observation and the most 'off' picks. Fascinating!


Idea entrepreneurs: "In Pursuit of the Perfect Brainstorm" article from December 2010 in The New York Times looks at solo practioner idea entrepreneurs and small companies that think about thinking in re-imagining companies to solve problems and be proactive in their company direction and strategies. Companies like Jump Associates, Ideo and Kotter International charge somewhere between $200,000 to $500,000 a month depending on the complexity and ambiguity of the question you need answered. The term "disruptive innovation" coined in 1992 by Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and author of books such as "The Innovator's Dilemma," give the examples of Netflix reinventing the way videos are rented and outflanked Blockbuster as well as Wal-Mart crushing Sears. Alex F.Osborn invented the term "brainstorming" in 1948 to describe the animated and slightly chaotic quality of the creative idea process. One excerpt: "You often hear this from idea entrepreneurs: Don’t ask us for the answers. Let us help you frame the questions, so you can answer them yourself." Another excerpt—Osborn's "three-box framework": "In Box 1, he puts everything a company now does to manage and improve performance. Box 2 is labeled “selectively forgetting the past,” his way of urging clients to avoid fighting competitors and following trends that are no longer relevant. Box 3 is strategic thinking about the future. “Companies spend all of their time in Box 1, and think they are doing strategy,” he says. “But strategy is really about Box 2 and 3—the challenge to create the future that will exist in 2020.” He recommends to clients what he calls the 30-30 rule: 30 percent of the people who make strategic decisions should be 30 years old or younger. “The executives who’ve been there a long time, they grew up in Box 1,” he says. “You need voices in the room that aren’t vested in the past.”

Imitation (actually iteration) is more valuable than innovation: Peruse the article "Defend Your Research: Imitation Is More Valuable Than Innovation" by Oded Shenkar in the on-lint Harvard Business Review for April 2010 as well as the second letter on the bottom by Boris Pluskowski who makes the point that the article writer is confusing imitators (e.g., Burger Queen) with iterators (e.g., McDonald's and Apple). The key number is 97.8% of the value of innovations goes to imitators! As Oded Shendar writes, "In fact, nearly 98% of the value generated by innovations is captured not by the innovators but by the often overlooked, despised copycats." True imitation (actually iteration) requires great adaptability, intelligence and improving upon the technologies and processes of the innovation. The second link below is an amazingly well written, intelligent and incisive look at this issue that coins the term "imovation" as a hybrid fusion of both innovation and imitation that Obed Shenkar calls the "key strategic junction." Other links below explore this subject. Recommended, especially for the business-oriented and entrepreneurial.

10 Big Ideas/What's Next is a terrific annual feature of Time magazine: This forward looking guide points to the most important trends to be aware of in navigating this fast-paced, ever-changing world. Below are links to the years of 2010, 2009 and 2008. Look at the 50 best inventions from 2010 and years before (scroll down near the bottom of the link). Also peruse the all-Time 100 gadgets and top 10 failed futuristic predictions.

Insight—Gaining Insight into the 'Aha' Experience: Research released in December 2010 point to the main characteristics of the experience of insight as suddenness, ease, positive affect, as well as truth and confidence. An excerpt: "In sum, insight is an experience during or subsequent to problem-solving attempts, in which problem-related content comes to mind with sudden ease and provides a feeling of pleasure, the belief that the solution is true, and confidence in this belief." The researchers claim that at present there is no coherent explanation for the phenomenology / experience of insight.

Original article:
webcache.google...alphagalileo.org...Gaining+Insight+Into+the+Aha Experience~

Group Brainstorming not such a good idea to generate unique and varied ideas: March 2010 research from Texas A&M University showed that group brainstorming exercises can lead to fixation on only one idea or possibility, blocking out other ideas and possibilities, and leading eventually to a conformity of ideas.

One person can make a difference—Engaging in random acts of kindness spread surprisingly easily: It is inspiring to learn of the difference ONE person can make in this world. Specifically, asking to speak with someone's manager/supervisor/boss to acknowledge outstanding service is uncommon and remarkably powerful in helping the creme rise to the top. Engaging in random acts of kindness spread surprisingly easily according to March 2010 research findings and uplifts everyone.

Inspiration, Motivation & the Simple LIfe

Apple and Pixar founder Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford University commencement address is a model of simplicity, wisdom and inspiration

Video: youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA

Harry Potter series author J. R. Rowling's 2008 Harvard University commencement address on "The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and he Importance of Imagination" is available in both video and text format. Well worth a viewing and a reading, along with comments.

Inspiration: Professor Randy Pausch's last lecture (literally) powerfully points to achieving your dreams while you are alive
Video: youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

Inspirational YouTube videos of songs, poems, speeches and short films that will knock your socks off!

Mini Motivation: Daily inspirational quote picked by Tim Church: This website provides a daily inspirational quote and you can receive more of them by simply refreshing the page. Wonderful.

Listening to Your Inner Voice: In Kings 2 in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) there is a passage that speaks of "the still small voice" (also translated as "the gentle whisper") and is understood to be the immanent Divine speaking within everyone of us. This inner voice is sometimes called intuition, the Holy Spirit, inner voice, inner guidance, "guardian angel", muse or inspiration. There are mystical literatures that say that before harm our Source always warns us. Refuse to listen to your inner voice at your extreme harm and hazard.

The simple saner life—Experiencing more with less: Voluntary simplicity can be very appealing in the face of an ever more complicated modern life that is unsatisfying...here is how. The art and joy of having less and enjoying life more boils down to four key principles: 1) the Zen of space ti enhance beauty and peace; 2) conserved energy; 3) free your space so our outer space reflects our inner peace by cleaning out and simplifying our outer space; and 4) appreciation for everything since this is the seed for abundance and broad well being. This is flushed out with avoiding multitasking by doing one thing at a time, inhabiting presence, slowing down, clear the clutter, control your spending by spending less than you make and wisely saving, and enjoy what you have. Peruse the link below that offers 72 immediately useable and highly practical ideas to simplify your life, how to create a life of contentment, a guide to creating a minimalist home, the "slow food" movement, and more. All recommended.

People's Stories

Practical Ways to Create the Simple Life

Ethical Decision-Making, Logical Fallacies & Bogus Apologies

Steps in ethical decision-making and 22 cognitive strategies to justify any unethical behavior: Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP and Melba J. T. Vasquez, Ph.D., ABPP provide 18 steps in ethical decision-making as well as 22 ethical fallacies drawing upon the most common cognitive strategies used to justify unethical behavior. These are essential resources for psychological professionals, all professionals and everyone. Other related highly valuable links to ethical resources are provided at the bottom of both links.

Logical Fallacies in Psychology: 22 Types

8 Bogus Apologies—Help with identifying when words are used to deceive: Ken S. Pope offers this most helpful guide.


George Demont Otis         Silvery Trees

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