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The Goldilocks Principle of Stress and Anxiety

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The Goldilocks Principle of Stress and Anxiety

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The Goldilocks Principle

The Goldilocks Principle

Just like the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where the preferred porridge has to be neither too hot nor too cold, and the preferred bed has to be neither too soft nor too hard, we have to find our sweet spot which has the right amount of stress, anxiety, challenge and thrill, while not being paralyzing or life-sucking.

Demanding jobs carry with them worry, stress and anxiety, but not having anything to worry about in a job is also detrimental to our well-being.

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The Optimal Level of Stress

Whether it is the stress that is taken by schoolchildren or workplace challenges, we have to find an optimal level where there is just the right amount of pressure. There is a balance that has to be achieved for stress levels (which comes from external factors) and anxiety (which is usually through our internal thought mechanisms).

Stress to some extent is beneficial as it releases hormones like cortisol in the brain, increasing your performance in the short term while enhancing brain functions.

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Healthy Levels Of Anxiety

  • If we are occasionally stressed out or worry prior to a big presentation, we are well within the healthy levels of anxiety and it can be our motivation as well.
  • If we are unable to sleep at night, have constant health issues or are unable to eat, then we are in the unhealthy stress/anxiety territory and need to take corrective action.

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Ordinary and altered states of consciousness

Ordinary and altered states of consciousness

Altered states of consciousness can only be defined if there is an understanding of an ordinary state of consciousness.

While scientists can't agree on a clear definition, alte...

Modulating states of consciousness

  • Excessive dancing, meditation, and mind-altering plants were used in ancient civilizations to modulate the activity of the mind.
  • In 1892, the term "altered states of consciousness" was used to refer to hypnosis.
  • William James introduced the scientific investigation of mystical experiences and drug-induced states into the field of psychology.

The five altered states of consciousness

  • Pharmacological. These altered states include short-term changes caused by psychoactive substances, such as LSD MDMA, cannabis, cocaine, opioids, and alcohol.
  • Psychological. Hypnosis, meditation, and music can lead to altered mental states.
  • Physical and physiological. An altered state of consciousness is achieved through sleep, where dreams dissociate one from reality.
  • Pathological. A traumatic experience causing brain damage can lead to an altered state of consciousness. Other sources include epileptic or psychotic episodes.
  • Spontaneous. Daydreaming and mind wandering can cause altered states.

The Components Of Our Emotions

The Components Of Our Emotions

Emotions are useful tools while taking a decision, when utilized in the right way. The three components of our emotional experience are:

  • Physiological: our bodily ch...

Emotions And Our Survival Mechanism

Emotions are not a disposable or unnecessary response, but are signals, giving us vital clues about the state of our mind and body, akin to pain. It is a neglected part of our survival mechanism.

Our natural reaction is to suppress our emotions, but it is increasingly apparent that repression of our emotions, especially the stronger kind, is psychologically and physically harmful to us.

Emotions In The Office

Showing emotion using empathetic and active listening is part of emotional intelligence and is greatly valued as a managerial skill set.

Studies show that empathic leaders enjoy more success and goodwill. Interpersonal communication is greatly enhanced when one is able to read someone's emotions and control one’s emotional reactions.

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Evaluating The Mental Models We Use

Evaluating The Mental Models We Use

Mental models are a set of ideas, which like an algorithm, shapes our perception and understanding of how the world operates.

And we need to evaluate the validity of these shortc...

The Validity Of A Mental Model

  • In any research, the validity of any concept is the first thing to check.
  • One has to stress-test the rationality and see if the right thing is measured, for the right outcome to be divulged.
  • Validity helps us evaluate the accuracy and appropriateness of the mental model in a particular situation.

The Reliability Of A Mental Model

The most important part is to check the consistency of any mental model when the same circumstances are applied repeatedly. Ideally one has to get the same result. This is usually done by:

  1. Test-Retest Method: A set of diverse and repeated tests can check the reliability of a mental model.
  2. The Inter-Observer Method: This method takes into account data from different observers or administrators to cross-check the validity and reliability of a mental model.