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Felix

@felixg26

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The Longest-Running Study On Happiness
  • The Harvard Study of Adult Development has followed 724 men (from various economic and social backgrounds) since they were teenagers in 1938.
  • The clearest message from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
  • The people who fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships, with family, with friends, with community.
  • Over the years, the researchers asked members questions about their lives and their mental and emotional wellness.

@felixg26

What makes a good life?

ted.com

  • Social connections are good for us, and loneliness is toxic. The people that are more socially connected to family, to friends, to the community, are happier, they're physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected.
  • It's not just the number of friends you have, and it's not whether or not you're in a committed relationship, but it's the quality of your close relationships that matters.
  • Good relationships don't just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. The people who are in relationships where they feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people’s memories stay sharper and longer.
Mark Twain
"There isn't time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”
Sympathy Vs Empathy

Sympathy is when you feel pity at someone, or are sad due to the hardships of a person. Empathy is when you are able to put yourself into what they are going through.

Example: If someone gets a fracture while bike riding, you feel sympathy for them, but if someone gets a fracture and you also fell from your bike and suffered a fracture a while ago, you feel empathy for them.

Sympathy vs. Empathy: What’s the Difference?

mentalfloss.com

The word sympathy, in the 16th century, described a relationship between two things that are related in a certain way, like a doctor giving a discount to frequent patients.

It was an open-ended term encompassing love, woe, sorrow and many emotional experiences..

Coined in the 17th century, the word empathy initially began as a German word Einfûhlung, relating to how people derive pleasure from art and nature by finding similarities and injecting their own feelings in it.

Sympathy was a feel with or feeling for emotion, and empathy a feel in emotion.

Social ambiguity

Social life can be full of uncertainty. Friends don't always smile back at you. Strangers sometimes look upset. The question is how you interpret these situations. Do you take everything personally or do you think there are reasons they behave that way that has nothing to do with you?

While most people tend to overcome socially ambiguity with ease, knowing it is unavoidable, other people tend to see themselves as perpetual victims. They believe that one's life is entirely under the control of forces outside one's self.

Unraveling the Mindset of Victimhood

scientificamerican.com

Researchers found the tendency for interpersonal victimhood consists of four main dimensions:

  • Always seeking recognition for one's victimhood: Those who score high on this dimension have a constant need to have their suffering acknowledged. It is also normal for victims to want the perpetrators to take responsibility for their wrongdoing.
  • Moral elitism: Those who score high on this dimension perceive themselves as having perfect morality while viewing everyone else as immoral. They view themselves as persecuted, vulnerable and morally superior.
  • Lack of empathy for the pain and suffering of others: People who score high on this dimension are so preoccupied with their own victimhood that they are unaware of the pain and suffering of others.
  • Frequently thinking of past victimization: Those scoring high on this dimension continuously think about their interpersonal offences and their causes and consequences rather than about possible solutions.

In interpersonal conflict, all parties are motivated to maintain a positive moral self-image. However, different parties are likely to create very different subjective realities. Offenders tend to downplay the severity of the transgression, and victims tend to perceive the offenders' motivations as immoral.

The mindset one develops - as a victim or a perpetrator - affects the way the situation is perceived and remembered.

Three main cognitive biases characterize the tendency for interpersonal victimhood and contribute to a lack of willingness to forgive others for their perceived wrongdoings.

  • Interpretation bias: People with a higher tendency of interpersonal victimhood perceive low offences, such as lack of help, as more severe. They also anticipate hurt in ambiguous situations.
  • Attribution of hurtful behaviours: Those with a tendency for interpersonal victimhood were more likely to think an offender had harmful intentions. They were also more likely to feel a greater intensity and duration of negative emotions after a hurtful event.
  • Negative memory bias: Those with a greater tendency for interpersonal victimhood recalled more words representing offensive behaviours and feelings of hurt ("anger," "betrayal") and remembering negative emotions more easily.

Researchers found those with a tendency for interpersonal victimhood were most likely to have an anxious attachment style.

Anxiously attached individuals tend to doubt their own social value and seek reassurance continually. They feel dependent on others to validate their self-esteem and worth, and at the same time, they experience complicated negative feelings.

At a group level, a collective victimhood belief can be learned through channels such as education, TV programs, and social media.

If socialization processes can form a victimhood mindset, then the same processes can instil a personal growth mindset in people.

We could learn that we are not entitled but are worthy of being treated as human. We could learn that its possible to grow from trauma and become a better person. We could shed the victimhood mindset for something more productive, constructive, and hopeful to build positive relationships with others.

From Openness to Closing Yourself Off

From a young age, we learn that not everyone is on our side, and not all situations are going to go our way. 

Over time, we build walls around our hearts to protect ourselves from these hurts.

Overcoming a Fear of Vulnerability and Love Your Imperfections

verywellmind.com

Building walls create a safe space into which you can quickly retreat, but it also leaves you trapped behind your own emotional defenses, unable to give or receive positive emotions as well as negative ones. 

This, in turn, leaves many people feeling isolated and alone.

The fear of vulnerability is ultimately a fear of rejection or abandonment. To combat it, you must first learn to love and accept yourself with all your flaws, embarrassing stories, past mistakes, insecurities and awkwardness.  

Realize that everyone feels like this, regardless of how successful they are.

We understand that people that we admire are imperfect, but don't find their flaws unforgivable. Yet, when it comes to ourselves, we beat ourselves up for our own imperfections.

Do not judge yourself more harshly than you judge them.

  • Acknowledge yourself as a whole human being, flaws, imperfections and all. 
  • Own and embrace your past mistakes.
  • Apologize to anyone you feel you have significantly wronged, and then move on. 
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Stop trying to prove your value. You are important.
Ending friendships

Sometimes a friendship can become so painful or unhealthy that we need to end it.

But we often don't have clear guidance or formulas to make these decisions. Our negative emotions drive our thoughts and may cause us to make poor decisions and lose relationships we could have kept.

Losing Friends With Grace

psychologytoday.com

We commonly form attachment bonds with a friend. Although we don't talk about it, we do have unspoken psychological expectations when our friends become attachment figures.

The indicator of a secure attachment figure is that s/he is consistent, available, warm, and responsive. But an insecure attachment style (preoccupied, dismissing, or fearful) might struggle with friendship expectations or the ability to provide a secure base to others.

You are likely able to accept the good with the bad in your friends. You may get close to your friends but will also give them space. If you feel hurt by a friend, it won't consume you.

You will have seen enough relationships go through the ups and downs so that you know not all relationships last. You know you can tolerate the loss and are free to continue getting close to people.

You likely have a stronger need for closeness in your relationships. You desire a "best friend" and confidante. You may be overly attuned to subtle cues that you are left out.

You become very involved in a person's life, but your friends may not reciprocate when you are in need. You may feel hurt, betrayed, angry and shame because of the belief that there must be something wrong with you.

You may have friends who complain that they are there for you, but you don't reciprocate or reach out enough. You are social but feel exhausted by the amount of emotional interaction that some of your friends need.

Try using the "consistent, available, warm, and responsive" recipe. Communicate boundaries and expectations (which most friends don't openly discuss.) For instance, you are not available at 3 a.m. for a chat. If you are less expressive, be aware that more anxious friends need the interpersonal feedback to know that you still like them.

  • Try to be honest with the person. Do it with kindness and just talk about your own emotional availability. "I realize that I'm not a good friend right now. I just don't feel very emotionally available."
  • Try to avoid "all or nothing" thinking. Friendships have cycles. Sometimes people are close, and then they drift apart. If you want to end the friendship in the drifting apart phase, you will prevent the ability to revive the friendship another time.
  • It's better to show up some than not at all. Many people will avoid sending an old friend a text thinking they don't have the time for a long exchange. Send them a text anyway.
  • Allow friends to "change orbit." Most people have 2 to 4 close friends, a circle of about 10 friends they do things with occasionally, a circle of casual friends, and many acquaintances. Sometimes people need to change friends because of life circumstances. Let them go with love knowing that they also have their own life paths to follow.

Don't sit and wait for a text or phone call. Get busy in your own life. Make plans and fill your day.

If you can't stop hurting, consider whether the pain is partially an emotional memory from previous painful events that you have not dealt with.

If your friend is making it hard for you to function (won't stop calling, interferes with your work, causes damage to your other relationships, hurts you financially) and you have already spoken to this person, a hard stop may be necessary.

It is kinder to tell the person that you are stopping the friendship than ghosting them or letting them live in a state of anxious ambiguity. Conversely, if you have a friend that keeps you living in that anxious state, and you have tried to speak about it, then honour yourself and end the friendship.

  • Offering our kids an ear, empathy and encouragement helps them tremendously and moves the needle towards the best solution.
  • Asking teens if they need any help is the first step towards providing relevant advice.
  • Divide their problem into two categories: what can be changed, and what cannot.
  • For things that can be changed, focus on the needs identified by your kid, and brainstorm for possible solutions.
  • For things that cannot be changed, help them come in terms with the circumstances that are not in one's control.

Why Teenagers Reject Parents' Solutions to Their Problems

nytimes.com

Don't Instruct Adolescents

Solving any teenager problem is an exercise in futility, with broken hearts, social dramas and academic pressure making them split their heads every day.

Teens share their worries with us because they feel like sharing, and need empathy, not a solution. Reassuring and sincere words that make them feel better can be enough, and any solution offered will most probably backfire.

They may only need a vote of confidence and can easily turn well-intentioned guidance as criticism and lectures.

Teenagers talk to parents about their problems and after being offered solutions and suggestions, dismiss the ideas provided as irritating, irrelevant or both.

Teens and adolescents may just need a venting outlet and will feel better simply by articulating their worries and problems.

Adults can provide them with mental space by listening to them without interrupting, letting them sort, survey and organize their thoughts.

A Friend Indeed

According to a report in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, an acquaintance has a chance of being your friend after about 50 hours of shared activity or discussions. A friend can be a close (or best) friend after about 200 hours.

Our old and former friends know intimate details of a part of our lives, but do not have an idea about our present selves, due to the years or decades of separation. This can feel disorienting, as suddenly a person with whom one was once so close, appears like a stranger.

How to Revive a Friendship

nytimes.com

Long-lasting, high-quality friendships lower the chance of chronic illnesses, and mortality rates. They boost one’s happiness and can also be a buffer towards anxiety, stress and even depression.

One can consider looking back and reconnect with a lost but cherished friend for emotional support or to relive the long-forgotten times.

  • We need to ask ourselves if a certain friendship is even worth resuscitating, or if one of us has moved on to such an extent that we really don’t recognize the person any more.
  • The circumstances of growing apart also matter. If it was betrayal or a falling out, the process of getting back may require reconciliation and may not be easy.
  • People evolve due to the various life events that happen in the course of their lives, like medical issues, marriage, children or a divorce. It’s important to keep one’s guard up, as the person that one gets to meet after years might be a complete stranger in some ways.

It’s important and natural to rekindle a friendship with a solid reason, a purpose that has to be shared with the old friend.

Almost like wooing the former friend, one has to show their best, most honest side and share life experiences that are similar to the other person. One also has to ensure that the connection is genuine and organic, while not coming across as forced or intrusive.

  • Ensure that your rekindled relationship with your former friend has some solid foundation before opening up the private areas of your life, like introducing your spouse. If you go too fast, you may be disappointed if the other person is not as keen on holding friendship as per your expectations.
  • Even with the best intentions and impeccable plans, things are not always predictable and as per one’s anticipation. The old pal may have some unresolved feelings or they may not be having the time to nurture a friendship anymore, and it is best to prepare for any such outcome in advance, rather than trying to save your face later.
Anticipatory grief

Conventional grief, the kind of grief that occurs after the loss of a loved one, or even loss of one’s dreams, is commonly discussed and understood.

Anticipatory grief is a lesser-known dimension of grief, something which occurs before death (or any great loss).

Why Am I Already Grieving When My Loved One Is Alive?

verywellhealth.com

Grief involves anger and loss of emotional control, often a state of confusion.

Anticipatory grief, for those who experience it, is sometimes even more severe and stressful. It does not lessen the burden of actual grief after the loss has been experienced, and is not a substitute for it..

Anticipatory grief is a chance of closure and personal growth which comes at the end of life. It is a chance to reconcile differences and heal the heart with forgiveness.

  • Sadness and tearfulness, often triggered by any outside input.
  • Fear of death and the loss, along with the life changes that may accompany the loss.
  • Feeling of loneliness, as the person feeling anticipatory grief is unable to express it.
  • Anger, both in the person dying as well as the person who is about to lose a loved one.
  • The need to talk and vent out emotions.
  • Guilt and Anxiety, especially survivor guilt.
  • Intense emotional, physical and spiritual connection with the loved one.
  • Difficulty in sleeping.
  • Fear and concern for the children.
  • Acceptance of the inevitability of death.
  • Though anticipatory grief is a normal emotional process, if there is any difficulty in coping, one can seek the help of mental health professionals.
  • Expressing oneself and letting out one’s emotions is extremely important, and it is dangerous to bottle them up.
  • If you feel like letting go, make sure you continue to love the loved one, before and after the death, keeping the memory alive.
Personal needs

Working parents tend to focus all their energy on work or family and put their own needs on hold. With the current crisis, parents have even less time for their own needs while they juggle work and family life.

But the benefits of taking care of ourselves are undeniable. And while we know the benefits, it can be challenging to communicate our personal needs to our partner.

How to Communicate Your Self-Care Needs to Your Partner

hbr.org

Take two minutes right now and list what would most benefit you. It could be taking 15 minutes to decompress after work. Or to have a few hours a week to read a book. Or even guitar lessons.

Highlight what sticks out to you the most on your list. Then decide what top few choices are suitable for your available time and finances.

To have a successful and productive conversation with your partner about your needs and desires:

  • Timing is everything. Set a time aside together that is free of distractions, relatively peaceful, and not when you are overtired.
  • Remember, you're on the same team. Handle the conversation with gentleness and without criticism.
  • Actively listen. To encourage understanding, don't just listen to respond. Truly try to understand how your partner feels.
  • It's about giving and taking. Relationships are about mutual understanding, compassion, and sacrifice.
  • Do regular relationship checkups to foster connection and open communication.

Fear of abandonment can come from childhood loss or neglect as a child, especially if it is more emotional.

Brain development is the process of creating, strengthening, and discarding connections among the neurons. The growth of each region of the brain depends largely on receiving stimulation. By not attending to that stimulation, your body can't function properly.

The remedy to fear of abandonment in your relationship is to work on exercising that "attachment muscle," allowing yourself to become more vulnerable and open with your partner.

4 relationship problems that can be linked back to early childhood

bigthink.com

Studies showed that the experiences as a baby within the first three years of life lay the foundation for how the brain is wired well into adulthood.

However, it is possible to "re-learn" things as adults and change the framework of our brains this way. If you are committed to your partner but fear the "label," consider how you view attachment, dedication, and loyalty in relationships.

Entitlement is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and treatment by others. It is a selfish quality.

People act entitled in relationships because they are overcompensating for never getting what they want or are comfortable in always getting what they want.

There are 4 different kinds of parenting styles that can lead to your child feeling worthless or defective.

  • Authoritarian parents: they want their children to obey rules but have little time to listen to their child's feelings or needs.
  • Permissive parents: They are too laid back and may let children "fend for themselves," making children feel they are not worthy of their parent's time.
  • Narcissistic parents: They feel as though the world and their children revolve around them, placing their own needs and desires above those of their children.
  • Perfectionist parents: They always think their children need to do better, making their children feel inadequate even after accomplishing something good.

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