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Self Improvement

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Choral singing makes people happy

The most popular arts-related participatory activity in the United States is choral singing. The group activity seems to stand out for this reason: Singing has some effects that other participatory activities don't.

Choral singing makes people happy. In songbirds, a male singing to a female activates the pleasure centre of the male's brain. Scientists found that the effect of singing on birds' brains is similar to the effect of addictive drugs on human brains. But the effect doesn't happen when singing alone.

Cory Sinclair (@corys_clair) - Profile Photo

@corys_clair

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Self Improvement

Research on happiness

Most people want to live a happier life. But happiness is not easy to achieve despite the many proposed formulas: Get enough sleep. Exercise. Meditate. Help others. While they are linked to happiness, they don't work for everyone.

Researchers have turned to smartphones to try and understand happiness better. Thousand of people have contributed to The Happiness Project, a smartphone app that tracks happiness.

Research found that happiness depends not on how well someone is doing but if they're doing better than expected.

However, high expectations can be a problem. Expecting too much and not finding it can cause unhappiness. On the other end, if you always expect the worst, it isn't easy to make good choices. Realistic expectations are generally the best.

Most events don't affect happiness for long. If you've received a promotion, you'll be happy for a while until your brain has adjusted to the circumstances, then you are ready to make your next move.

It might be better to view happiness differently. Happiness is a tool, not a goal. As a tool, happiness can tell us if something went well or motivate us to keep going. When our happiness drops, it may be time to try something new.

While we are not in control of our tastes, we can shape them and acquire new ones with the following tips:

  1. Explore new stuff, comparing your tastes with others, keeping an open mind. Learn about food, music and art from different cultures.
  2. Slow down your experiences, chewing your food slowly, and not being in a hurry while travelling to new places, reading or meeting someone. Relish life.
  3. Reflect on your past experiences and try to document your exploration.
Why We Like What We Like: How Our Taste Is Shaped

Our genes, along with culture, curiosity and social instincts shape our tastes. And an overlooked factor that shapes our experience is our expectations.

Taste becomes highly subjective, and the same wine can taste different if labelled as a highly priced one, and can taste generic if labelled as a cheap wine.

The exposure effect in how things taste is described as our increased liking of stuff that we have tasted repeatedly. Apart from food, music, languages and art seem to have the same effect.

We also don’t like what we don’t know, and our tastes naturally evolve over time due to more exposure, experience and changing expectations.

  1. Set aside a time by creating a reminder.
  2. Pick a task that you feel afraid to do. It can be recording an audio, calling someone, or negotiating a deal.
  3. Remember how meaningful it is to you or your loved one.
  4. Do it for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Learn to embrace the uncertainty, feeling the physical and physiological sensations inside you.
  6. Be compassionate to yourself and look for openness and gratitude.
  7. Make the task accountable by involving your friends.
The Edge Of Uncertainty
  • Most people do not like to be in uncertain situations.
  • Instead of an uncomfortable conversation, we would like to let the bad situation be as it is.
  • Instead of doing something challenging and creative, we would rather be obscure.
  • When things overwhelm us, we would like a simple, quiet way to deal with troubling matters.

We need to come towards the edge of uncertainty, the place we don’t like much, but which is full of growth, learning, creating and inventing. It is here when we toil that we find meaning, intimacy, beauty, love and vulnerability.

Complete uncertainty, when our lives seem in total chaos is not a desirable state to be in, and we rightly should avoid that. The edge of uncertainty is a stateless problematic than an untethered life.

If we can find a little stability, we should move towards the edge of uncertainty, developing a growth mindset.

The inner voice

The silent conversations that people have with themselves influence how they live their lives. Some people benefit from internal dialogues, while others fall apart.

When we experience distress, research shows that introspection can do more harm than good. Introspection gives rise to negative cycles with potentially grave consequences for our mental and physical health. The ability to step back and reflect can help to get some perspective.

We speak to ourselves at a rate of about 4,000 words per minute. No wonder listening to it can feel so exhausting when we ramble or rehash events.

These inner voices can be paralysing and self-sabotaging if we let it. But those who are able to quieten their inner voice are happier.

  • Distanced self-talk: Talking to yourself as if you were another person is calming and can help you make a better impression, or improve your performance. ("Hey, you should calm down; this is not the end of the world.")
  • The power of touch - Put your arms around someone.
  • The power of nature - Put your arms around a tree.
  • Activities that create "awe" - A walk in the mountains, or looking at a work of art.
  • Writing a daily journal.
  • Creating exterior order - Tidying up has an impact on your interior order.

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