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Thea Newton

@theanewton

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Epictetus
“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.”

@theanewton

An ancient philosopher's advice for a fulfilled life, even in dark times

qz.com

Misery And The Mind

Misery can be influenced by your circumstances, but it is largely indifferent to them because it grows from within. Most of us have everything that we need to avoid it, but our untrained brains are prone to create it through anxiety.

This concept is easy to understand but it requires consistent effort and application. Keeping your brain in check demands that you understand and internalize it into day to day conduct.

Diversify Your Sources Of Joy

We only have so much time and energy, so it’s good to eliminate the meaningless things we do. And then spread your remaining time and energy across multiple sources.

Balance work with other hobbies or personal projects, increase the number of people you can rely on, etc. Over a long enough time, something will go wrong, and having multiple sources of fulfillment to rely on will save you from complete collapse.

Control The Narrative Of Your Life

Change what you can control, let go of what you can’t and expect unfairness, difficulties and pain. Everything in your life is your responsibility, and what makes a negative occurrence bad is how you deal with it, not the thing itself.

Accepting full responsibility rids you of excuses and lets you associate the issues of life with your inability to deal with them. It’s important not to be too hard on yourself, but this association leads to proactivity.

Chronic Dissatisfaction

We all are familiar with the feeling that things are not as they should be in terms of success, relationships, material possessions. This feeling can make you look outwards with envy and inwards with disappointment.

Pop culture, social media and advertisements are not helping either, because they work as a constant reminder that aiming for less than "perfect" equals failure.

An Antidote to Dissatisfaction

youtube.com

In the last two decades, researchers have started to work on ways to counteract our chronic dissatisfaction. This is how positive psychology was born - the study of what makes life worth living, while cognitive behavioral therapy was developed to change negative feelings.

Scientists also began to investigate why some people are happier and more satisfied than others and how to apply what they are doing right to the rest of the world.

One of the most relevant predictors of how happy people are, how easily they make friends, and how good they are at dealing with hardship is gratitude.

Gratitude can mean different things to different people, depending on the context: it's a character trait, a virtue, a feeling, and a behavior.

  • When your brain recognizes that someone is doing something positive for you, it reacts with gratitude to motivate you to repay them.
  • This gratitude makes you care about others and others care about you.
  • It became an evolutionary advantage to play well with others and build lasting relationships.
  • Early forms of gratitude were biological mechanisms that modified your behavior towards cooperation, which helped humans to dominate the earth.
  • As we got better at reading emotions, selfish individuals were identified and avoided.
  • Gratitude directly counteracts negative feelings and traits, like envy and social comparison, narcissism, cynicism, and materialism.
  • People that are happy no matter what, tend to be happier and more satisfied; they have better relationships and easier time making friends, they sleep better, tend to suffer less from depression, addiction and burnout, and are better at dealing with traumatic events.
  • Gratitude counteracts our natural tendency to forget and downplay positive events.

The ability to experience more or less gratitude is not equally distributed.

We have what's known as trait gratitude, which determines how much we can feel it. It depends on genetics, personality, and culture.

How To Make Your Brain Feel More Gratitude

The easiest gratitude exercise with the most solid research behind it is gratitude journaling. It involves sitting down for a few minutes, 1-3 times a week, and writing down 5 to 10things you are grateful for.

Participants in studies on gratitude journaling reported more happiness and higher general life satisfaction after doing this practice for a few weeks. Practicing gratitude may be a real way to reprogram yourself.

The Fresh Start Effect

When we want to change ourselves anew, we often set a date on when to start changing our behaviors or our habits. This is the concept of having a "fresh start".

The effect of the "fresh start" is that we're able to overlook our past mistakes and imperfections of our daily lives and have new beginnings. We are then more likely to take action towards our goals.

The Fresh Start Effect: The Secret to Sustained Motivation

samuelthomasdavies.com

Temporal landmarks are the days that stand out as being more meaningful than other days, mainly due to it producing the feeling of having a "fresh start"

These temporal landmark days make us feel more distant from our past failures.

  1. Be strategic about when you want to start changing your behavior. If you want to trigger the fresh start effect you must think carefully about the meaning behind the days for yourself.
  2. When you start to drift away from your target, don't lose hope. Focus on a new fresh start date. We often forget that motivation's biggest problem is that it ebbs, it flows, and will often fail you without notice.
  3. Connect with your future self. Every action you decide to do now will affect your future inevitably.
The #1 skill to overcome procrastination

Facing a task, experiencing the uncomfortable emotions associated with it and doing the task despite those  emotions.

Overcoming Procrastination: Why Mindfulness is The Key

fityourself.club

Procrastination is an emotion management problem
Happens when we feel uncomfortable (anxiety, overwhelm ) toward a task. We want to do it, but end up doing something else that feels better.  We run away from our negative thoughts and emotions.
Our mind is a reason-giving machine

It rationalizes the shit out of anything that’s just a little bit uncomfortable and create excuses as to why we shouldn’t do something now. Those excuses are irrational, but sound superficially reasonable. 

Get better at facing your procrastination

Do it by:

  1. Becoming aware of any negative emotions and the excuses your mind is telling you.
  2. Learning how to deal effectively with emotions, as our natural tendency is avoidance .
  3. Practicing mindfulness, which allows us to take action despite experiencing negative emotions.
Mindfulness helps beat procrastination because:
  • It helps in recognizing whatever emotions or thoughts we’re experiencing.
  • It makes us more self-compassionate.
  • It improves our self-control and emotion regulation abilities.
  • It helps us tune out distractions.
Black History Month

Since 1976, the United States celebrates the achievements of African-Americans during Black History Month.

Black History Month started as "Nero History Week" in 1926. Historian Carter G. Woodson was bothered that many textbooks and other historical reviews did not consider the contributions of black figures. Woodson allocated the second week in February to raise awareness of these stories.

Why Was February Chosen to Celebrate Black History Month?

mentalfloss.com

Carter G. Woodson chose the second week in February specifically because the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14) were during that period. The publicity led many mayors and college campuses to recognise the week.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford made Black History Month official, urging people to use the opportunity to honour the often neglected accomplishments of black Americans.

Use assertive communication

Assertive communication allows us to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions without judging or blaming other people.

Emotionally intelligent people know how to communicate their opinions and needs in a direct way while still respecting others.

10 Ways to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

inc.com

Respond instead of reacting

The emotionally intelligent person knows how to stay calm during stressful situations. 

They don't make impulsive decisions and understand that in times of conflict the goal is a resolution.

Utilize active listening skills

Emotionally intelligent people make sure they understand what is being said before responding. 

They also pay attention to the nonverbal details of a conversation. This prevents misunderstandings, allows the listener to respond properly and shows respect for the person they are speaking to.

Be motivated

Emotionally intelligent people are self-motivated and their attitude motivates others. 

They set goals and are resilient in the face of challenges.

Maintain a positive attitude

Emotionally intelligent people have an awareness of the moods of those around them and guard their attitude accordingly. 

They know what they need to do in order to have a good day and an optimistic outlook.

Practice self-awareness

Emotionally intelligent people are aware of their own emotions and how they can affect those around them. 

They also pick up on others' emotions and body language and use that information to enhance their communication skills.

Take critique well

Emotionally intelligent people don't get offended or defensive when facing criticism.

They take a few moments to understand where the critique is coming from, how it is affecting others or their own performance and how they can constructively resolve any issues.

Empathize with others

Emotionally intelligent people understand that empathy is a trait that shows emotional strength, not weakness. 

Empathy helps them to relate to others on a basic human level and opens the door for mutual understanding between people.

Utilize leadership skills

Emotionally intelligent people have high standards for themselves and set an example for others to follow. 

They take initiative and have great decision making and problem-solving skills. 

Be approachable and sociable

Emotionally intelligent people come off as approachable, because they give off a positive presence. 

They smile, have great interpersonal skills and know how to communicate clearly, whether the communication is verbal or nonverbal.

Purposelessness Is Pleasurable
  • The low-brow, consolatory entertainment is enjoyable to viewers because it is relaxed, sociable, sharable and accessible. It is purposeless and trivial, making it relatable to our common humanity.
  • The reality TV recipe often has an everyman quality to it, so the viewers are able to relate to the antics of the participants who talk, act or behave as a normal person (like the viewers) would.
  • The pandemic resulted in TV viewership along with streaming network viewership to thrive. Most of the content is not intellectual but unchallenging, popcorn programming that someone who has had a hard day can relax and unwind with.

This is why you can't stop watching 'bad' TV

theconversation.com

The tried and tested, familiar format is often repetitive and has the narrative inevitability that people are accustomed to. Much like a football match, it is the small variations that provide the entertainment in an otherwise repetitive TV programming.

The sameness of consolatory TV is how it bonds the viewers to what is familiar, and what affirms to how our society bonds.

10 Behaviors for Happiness
  1. Let go of the need for specific outcomes
  2. Define your own success and happiness
  3. Fully commit to the things that make you happy
  4. Be grateful for what you already have
  5. Say “I love you” more
  6. Have hobbies directed toward your dreams
  7. Don’t postpone what you can do now
  8. Do something every day that terrifies you
  9. Put “the Important” before “the Urgent”
  10. Forgo the good to pursue the best.

The Secret to Happiness Is 10 Specific Behaviors

observer.com