Self Improvement


Checking your phone is contagious

A 2021 study suggests the same psychological phenomenon that makes yawns contagious also affects people to check their smartphones.

We subconsciously follow the norms imposed on us by people around us and match our actions with theirs, known as the chameleon effect. This is why people often pick up each others' mood during conversation or why yaws are so contagious.

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Self Improvement

Most people are susceptible to the chameleon effect's impulse to pick up and look at their phone when someone else is doing it.

Research found the odds that people would use their phones are about 28 times higher when the first user actually looked at their phone while they used it, compared to when a person just held the phone and tapped without looking. But when people were at a meal, they were less likely to check their phones after a trigger event.

Relatedness covers our desire to connect and interact with other people. People are more motivated to take action when they're seen as pro-social.

Creating a sense of relatedness means ensuring people build connections with each other. It also means making sure people know the importance of what they're asked to do and how it relates to the rest of the team and organisation. If your team members know who they helped by their efforts, you can guarantee they'll work hard to help those people.

Competence refers to our desire for control and mastery. Competence is about our natural desire to feel like we are learning and making progress towards a set of objectives.

Creating a sense of competence has more to do with what you don't do. Instead of only focusing on constructive feedback, ensure you also celebrate wins, big and small. When you do give constructive feedback, pair it with positive feedback and praise to remind them of the progress already made.

How to increase motivation

A hundred years ago, it was much easier to motivate people. You could switch people from an hourly rate to a piece-rate system, where they would be motivated to do repetitive tasks faster. But in the knowledge or creative work economy, those tasks are becoming rare.

Richard Ryan and Edward Deci pioneered the self-determination theory, which states that people are motivated when they can determine for themselves what to work on and how to do it.

Autonomy is how much someone feels in control of their own choices - they have a say in what they work on and how they work on it. They don't feel micromanaged but empowered to pursue objectives and deadlines on their terms.

One way to figure out if you are leading from a place of autonomy versus control is to pay attention to how often you're giving them advice vs asking them questions designed to guide them in finding their own solutions.

It can keep us from doing things that can hurt us, but it can also paralyse and prevent us from making our lives better.

We can overcome fear by replacing it with something else. For example, if you are fearful of starting your own business, challenge the fear by:

  • Accomplishing one small, achievable project each day, such as finding a mentor.
  • Get creative or learn a new skill.
  • Surround yourself with supporters.
  • Recognise the real value of your life and abilities.

We often pay more attention to what we don't have instead of what we do have. Studies found that giving thanks makes us happier. People that show gratitude are more optimistic, feel better about their lives and exercise more. It also can improve relationships.

Every evening, reflect and write down everything that you're grateful for.

Common culprits that stand in the way of your happiness

Happiness has a wide range of benefits, including making us healthier, improving relationships, increasing productivity, and helping us make more positive contributions to society.

There are five common culprits that stand in the way of your happiness.

  • Self-defeating self talk
  • Avoiding meaningful connections
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Lack of gratitude
  • Fear.

Mark Twain wrote, "comparison is the death of joy."

While it is normal to compare yourself with others, it's also a waste of time. Your comparison could be a wrongful assessment as you may be comparing yourself to someone who isn't as happy as they pretend to be.

Connection with other people and the feeling of belonging are essential for a happy life.

Research shows:

  • People with stronger social connections tend to live longer.
  • Marriage decreases the risk of depression, suicide, and substance abuse.
  • Mental health and relationships are vital to happiness.

If you struggle to network, start networking online, or team up with an extrovert, adopt outgoing traits, and practice your elevator pitch.

Most people have an inner critic that judges them, doubts them, belittles them, and always telling them they are not good enough.

You are able to stop beating yourself up.

  • Start paying attention to your thoughts. It will help you notice when your inner critic is busy.
  • Separate the critic from your own identity. You can even give your critic a name.
  • Tell your critic to go away.
  • Replace the critic by noticing positive qualities.

Understanding how electrons move or not through a solid material and so make a material a metal, an insulator or a semiconductor, for example, requires the development of "effective field theories" that don't go into all the details.

But it is difficult to construct such a theory, and the reason why many important questions in solid-state physics remain unresolved.

Quantum mechanics explains the basic mathematical framework that supports it all.

To understand how things work in reality, quantum mechanics must be combined with other elements of physics, such as Einstein's special theory of relativity, to create quantum field theories.

Quantum particles can act as particles located in a single place, or they can act as waves that are distributed all over space or in several places at once.

How they appear seems to depend on how we choose to measure them. Before we measure, they seem to have no apparent properties at all. This fuzziness leads to paradoxes such as Schrödinger’s cat (a cat is left dead and alive at the same time). Quantum particles also seem to affect one another at the same time even if they are far away from each other, known as entanglement.

Quantum physics - a simple explanation

Quantum physics is the field of physics that explains how everything works.

It is the best description of the nature of the particles that make up matter and the forces with which they interact. If you want to explain how photons on light turn to electrical current in a solar panel, or how the sun keeps burning, you'll need to use quantum physics.

  • A fourth fundamental force of nature that quantum theory cannot explain, namely gravity, doesn't even involve particles. None of the decades of effort can bring gravity under the quantum umbrella to explain all of fundamental physics within one "theory of everything."
  • Then it appears that over 95 per cent of the universe consists of dark matter and dark energy. There is currently no explanation within the standard model.

Three different quantum field theories deal with three of the four fundamental forces by which matter interacts:

  • Electromagnetism: It explains how atoms hold together.
  • The strong nuclear force: It describes the stability of the nucleus at the centre of the atom.
  • The weak nuclear force: It explains why some atoms undergo radioactive decay.

The three theories are known as the "standard model" of particle physics.

When you understand your anger, you can intervene in any of the three stages (provocation, interpretation, mood).

  • You can avoid provocations when you decide it's best to do so. You can ignore or hide irritating political Facebook posts.
  • When you can't avoid a provocation, you can evaluate your thoughts and ask if they're reasonable or accurate.
  • You can take steps to avoid getting into pre-anger states, such as feeling tired, hungry, or rushed.

Anger management strategies include relaxation, such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, or meditation.

When you're angry, relaxation approaches work to decrease unwanted emotional and physiological arousal. Suggestions such as punching a pillow is a bad idea since it doesn't reduce anger but increase the likelihood of later aggression.

Anger comes from three interacting factors:

  • A provocation or trigger. It's what happened right before you got angry (being cut off in traffic, or insulted by someone, for example)
  • The person's interpretation of the provocation. When you blow things out of proportion, overgeneralise, or label people in inflammatory ways, you become angrier than you otherwise would
  • Their mood at the time, such as tired, stressed, hungry, already angry.

Anger is a fuel that can energise you to solve problems. But if it gets out of control, you can blow up and be a danger to yourself or those around you.

One way to productively use your anger might include addressing the small issues in your life that lead to frequent frustrations, such as a leaky tap. You can also use your anger to assert yourself by having a meaningful but difficult conversation.

Explaining Anger

Anger is characterised by an intense feeling of displeasure, ranging from frustration to rage. It includes a physiological response like increased heart rate and muscle tension, thoughts such as blame or revenge, and predictable behaviour, such as the desire to lash out.

Many people don't act out how they feel. They might want to yell or scream, but instead, they might pout, cry, or breathe deeply.

  • Is your anger justified? Consider if you've really been wronged or treated unfairly, and what the real consequences of that are.
  • What does your anger tell you about the situation? When you think your anger is justified, what is your anger communicating to you about the circumstances? Your anger may come from the stress of the coming day.
  • What does your anger tell you about yourself? Anger can tell you a lot about your values and needs. It can give you a better understanding of what to do next.

The most valuable way to understand, manage and use your anger is to keep a mood log.

Using a mood log for a week or two will help you identify the relationship between your feelings, thoughts, and situations. It will give insight into how you tend to think and behave when you're angry. You might notice that you get angry when your goals are blocked, or you are more prone to thoughts such as blaming. With this knowledge, you can consider whether your anger is productive.

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