Tag Archives: Mind

Russell on thinking and societal changes…

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The great majority of men and women, in ordinary times, pass through life without ever contemplating or criticising, as a whole, either their own conditions or those of the world at large.  They find themselves born into a certain place in society, and they accept what each day brings forth, without any effort of thought beyond what the immediate present requires…they seek the satisfaction of the needs of the moment, without much forethought, and without considering that by sufficient effort the whole condition of their lives could be changed…It is only a few rare and exceptional men who have that kind of love toward mankind at large that makes them unable to endure patiently the general mass of evil and suffering, regardless of any relation it may have to their own lives. These few, driven by sympathetic pain, will seek, first in thought and then in action, for some way of escape, some new system of society by which life may become richer, more full of joy and less full of preventable evils than it is at present (p. viii).  

Bertrand Russell

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Don’t Wallow

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I just read a great article by my favourite author, Donald Miller at his Storyline Blog.

It was about not giving into self-pity, and he gave the example of an Olympic ice skater who knew how to not wallow in his mistakes. You can’t wallow when you’re performing in a competition and make a mistake. You have to pick yourself up quick smart and keep going even when it feels so demoralizing to fall.

This lesson can be applied to life. We’re gonna make mistakes, we’re gonna fail and fall regularly. We’re gonna have cause to to feel self-pity and wallow. But don’t be consumed by it, because it stops you from getting on with what you’re supposed to be doing.

I know when I do something stupid, I can cut myself up about it for ages. This doesn’t help anything at all. So there’s no use wallowing in it and thinking I’m the worst of the worst.

No, I learn my lesson. I made a mistake, I learn from it, and then I move on.

When I don’t move on and I wallow, it cripples me. I beat myself up and I become ineffective because I feel like I’m no good and have nothing to offer. I get consumed by my wallowing thoughts.

There’s no point.

I know.

I’ve done both. I’ve wallowed over a mistake and felt terrible for ages; and I’ve controlled my mind to stop dwelling on it and move on with the lesson I learnt.

I can tell you it took a lot of effort to control my mind because it naturally wanted to wallow, but I was so much better for it when I didn’t give into it. I wasn’t crippled, I wasn’t wasting time worrying when there was nothing I could do, and I could continue on with life and focusing on things that did matter.

Waking up to the Hoax

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This video changed my life.

It struck home for me. It showed me a perspective I had, it challenged it and tore it down.

In my culture, to be a viable/normal citizen, you go to school, go to uni, get a 9 to 5 job, get married, have kids, and climb the ladder at work. I never questioned this. Never.

I loved school in terms of the learning side of it. I enjoyed doing homework. I knew I was going to go to uni from the moment I went to primary school. All of school and uni was there so I could get a 9 to 5 job. I’d get married and have kids in there somewhere, then retire after being in the same job for my whole life.

That was what I thought I wanted. That was what I thought was supposed to happen. I never questioned this.

Until I saw the video.

At the time I saw the video, I’d already had three jobs (none of which I wanted to stay in), I’d never been on a date, and clearly there were no kids. At the time I saw the video, I thought I was a failure at life. I thought I wasn’t a viable citizen and people would look down on me for it. I was chasing after the things my culture told me to chase, and I felt like it was all a hoax.

The video showed me it was a hoax, and it gave me permission to not go after something I didn’t know if I even wanted. I’ve realized that I actually probably don’t want kids. If I met the right person and they wanted kids, sure I’m open to the idea. But I’m not even sure I care if I get married or not anymore. Single life is pretty good.

No longer am I chasing after something my culture tells me to chase. No longer am I chasing something I think  should want. Instead, I’m learning to sing and dance to the music of life- appreciating each moment rather than rushing to the next thing.

Power of Animal Therapy

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I believe in animal therapy.

I know how much a dog can brighten the worst day in my own life.

And this is an amazing story my friend told me about a man she knew who was a donkey owner:

This man took his pet miniature donkey to a nursing home regularly. He trusted the donkey because he knew it would never bite anyone with its calm temperament.

One day the donkey ran away from the man while he was at the nursing home. He was mortified; the donkey had never done anything like this before. He was frantically searching the building for the donkey.

And then he found the donkey down corridors and through a door into a room with an elderly man. The man was in tears, and the donkey owner thought the donkey had bitten him. But the donkey had its head resting on the elderly man’s lap and the man was just sobbing.

The man told the donkey owner that he’d been a donkey handler while overseas during a war. The man felt lonely and isolated in the nursing home ever since the war, but this donkey came to him and simply rested its head on the man’s lap and stayed there as if to comfort the man.

The man was given what he needed. He missed being with donkeys. He was comforted, and the donkey made him not feel alone anymore.

The donkey owner was gobsmacked. The donkey set off straight to this man’s room with such purpose and ran through corridors and different areas of the building to get to him.

I think it’s amazing. Animals amaze me. I know dogs can be very in tune with people’s feelings and know when people are sad.

I love animals so much, and this story just makes them love them more!

Are you affected? I sure hope so

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  Psychology – A class divided

A Class DividedElliott divided her class by eye color — those with blue eyes and those with brown. On the first day, the blue-eyed children were told they were smarter, nicer, neater, and better than those with brown eyes.

Throughout the day, Elliott praised them and allowed them privileges such as a taking a longer recess and being first in the lunch line. In contrast, the brown-eyed children had to wear collars around their necks and their behavior and performance were criticized and ridiculed by Elliott.

On the second day, the roles were reversed and the blue-eyed children were made to feel inferior while the brown eyes were designated the dominant group. What happened over the course of the unique two-day exercise astonished both students and teacher.

On both days, children who were designated as inferior took on the look and behavior of genuinely inferior students, performing poorly on tests and other work.

Like many readers already know: I am an incurable softy. I get touched by everything beautiful, especially people`s courage, personalities and thoughts. I must confess that this documentary awoke a mix of different feelings: Sadness for the wrongs we`ve done, but also hope for the future and love towards humanity. It also excited some thoughts: What if we could teach children by asking the right questions without feeding them our own pre-made solutions?  Do we learn teachers how to teach, what to focus on and how to take care of our future at all? Because, our children are the future, and I really hope they will do better than we did.

I`d rather know this before I have my own children; I want to know that the world can be better, before I let them run around in it. Peril will be everywhere, of course, but as long as there`s hope, I`m willing to take a chance. I want to protect them from landmines around the next corner. 

My eyes are still filled with tears, touched by the courageous woman who wanted to show her class what racism is by making them really understand it. My first sceptical «be-carefulness», was convinced by her gentle voice that soothed both the children in the “experiment” and me.

Thank you, brave woman. Thank you for not closing your eyes.

I embed hope in my touched tears, and know they won`t be shed for nothing.

Love, Nina. Clinical psychologist

The documentary

The horrible part was not that one was forced to join in: But that it was impossible not to.

G. Orwell: 1984

76 CommentsOctober 5 – World Teachers’ Day (teacherinsights.wordpress.com)
Socializing Race (warwithinmorris.wordpress.com)
You have something in your eye. (purpleturd.wordpress.com)
Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes (chewingmyfruit.wordpress.com)

https://forfreepsychology.wordpress.com/lets-change-the-world/project-validation/

 

Permission to be an introvert

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An essay I wrote why it’s okay to be an introvert. I wrote it because I felt so misunderstood as an introvert and thought there was something wrong with me and needed to change. The more I researched it, the more I learnt it’s okay to be an introvert and the world needs them.

Stress and Memory From a Neuroscience Perspective

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Stress and Memory From a Neuroscience Perspective

 

 

 

 

 

 

“From a neuroscience perspective, amnesia in the absence of brain damage can be partially explained in biochemical terms. Stress causes a chemical reaction that affects regions of the brain responsible for memory. With repeated overwhelming stress, neurotransmitters and stress hormones are released in the brain in such excess quantity that they can adversely affect portions of the brain responsible for emotional memories as well as other kinds of memory.” p. 33, The Wandering Mind: Understanding Dissociation from Daydreaming to Disorders by John A Biever, M.D. and Maryann Karinch.

i'm not out to convince you or draw upon your mind*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC license)–
“i’m not out to convince you or draw upon your mind” by Andrea Joseph
“Standing at the Gates of Hell” by Shane Gorski

Time To Pretend

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“All the great empires of the future will be empires of the mind.” ~Winston Churchill

Digital Art by Jeanne MasarWhat I mean by hard-wiring caused by years and generations of socialization is that genetically humans are now predisposed to suffering. Suffering, in the social environment, has become normalized, and anyone who should deviate too far from this standard is considered “crazy” or abnormal.

Now, before I continue, let us come to an agreement about what constitutes suffering? Not a definition of suffering but what can be called suffering in the human condition (as we exist in a societal environment). In what form does suffering come? Suffering can be called an intangible state of being, that is, one’s being exists in a state of suffering. Suffering, once had a definite and easily determined cause, i.e., racism (but let us not veer off into efforts of indoctrination or further observations at this movement through sociology’s eyes just yet), womanizing, immigration (and by immigration, I mean, in the early days of Europeans arriving in America and their efforts at rising out of poverty), etc. [NOTE: I purposefully chose social movements, that is large acts of deliberate oppression enacted upon other groups of humans by other humans within a society. I could not go to an indigenous culture for several reasons, but mainly, because I don’t consider myself well-versed enough in indigenous culture to do so and I think much of human suffering that we are talking about stems from western culture and western society constructs. Further note: I am looking at human suffering solely from an anthropological perspective]. Okay, these kinds of mass suffering no longer effects western society as deeply, save only in a mass destructive way, i.e. Hurricane Sandy or 9/11, and human suffering suddenly comes to the forefront.

Sociology says that natural disasters are usually the times in which human beings will come together and forget about all the differences that the day before loomed so important as to cause neighbor to fight with neighbor and realize that “We are all human beings” that we bleed the same blood, etc. etc. Well, why is that? Why is it that humans only understand suffering following a natural disaster (there is a whole other element about this that disturbs me when I think upon it. In what I have been reading of late (anthropology, molecular biology, organic chemistry, which are naturally intermarried and naturally lead to consciousness) it seems as if humans do not unite because suddenly they caught a glimpse of what is really important, but out of fear and a unity in loss. Everybody understands loss)? It is as if humans require a disaster, some cataclysmic event, in order to set aside our petty differences. I think this is part of the reason why these unified acts of kindness are only temporary. Once enough time has passed, or that the event is forgotten or that some other kind of remedy has occurred, that time of bonding falls away, and we return to our “normally” suffering selves. This is a fundamental problem, I think.

I reason that there must be some deeper cause for humans’ [current] inability to understand human suffering or the suffering of others. I mean, if you believe in Kohlberg’s scale of Moral Development, there is more than one dimension, more than one scale of existence, and some humans exist on different scales. We are not all equal, in other words. Now, here is an element of reality that some are reluctant to discuss or even entertain the notion that it is true. We are not all equal. Equality can only be an extrinsic quality offered to humans in society; meaning, equal protection from police, equal representation in court, equal opportunity at law, you know, this kind of philosophy. However, it is not true biologically, psychologically, physiologically, culturally, or genetically, you know? I think we don’t fully understand this, as humans. There is a distinction in some things. It is only so on a certain level. It’s like humans try to create a unified theory of everything in everything. This would create a homogenous existence, what could be learnt from this? What use is a homogenous existence? That would be like playing the game not to lose. Risk is not necessarily a negating property, nor is chance, and I think that playing the game not to lose is to surrender risk and chance.

But, don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge that there is potential and probability that the world can be different. I think fear is a powerful obstacle. But, this too, will end. As in chaos theory and entropy, randomness slows down to order, and order slowly breaks down [entropy] and then transforms to something else, some other unrecognized pattern (what we then call chaos). We, as a race of humans, are learning that the once archetypal ways of living are outdated and obsolete. We are realizing that the acts we have and are committing upon ourselves, upon our consciences, upon our environment, upon the planet; we are now comprehending that every act has an equal and [sometimes] opposite reaction. We are learning to love what we are and then live that way. The times are changing and the time to pretend ends like a clock slowly winding down until it stops on high noon.

*Digital Art by Jeanne Masar.

A Question of Altruism

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My latest question has come from reading the book Freakonomics. It’s all about how people respond to incentives and can be made to do just about anything given the right incentive. It’s based on the idea that people will try to get things they want with the lowest cost. There’s a chapter on altruism and much of the book deals with the fact that people do things for their own benefit. Acts like giving money to charity are seen not to be 100% selfless, because things like the warm glow and how others see you play a part.

Dictator

I liked the experiments of the Dictator where one person is given an amount of money and has the option of giving another person some, all or none of that money. If people were only about self-interest they would keep all of it, but most people gave about 25% of their money. Not necessarily out of interest for the other person, but so they will look good in front of the examiner or to have that warm fuzzy feeling for doing a good thing.

In a variation of this experiment, both people were given the same amount of money but only one person could choose if they would give some of their money away or take some of the money from the other person. In this case people often took money from the other person, so there goes any selflessness.

But when both people had to work (by doing some task) for the same amount of money and one person had the option to give or take the money, it was more likely that not as much was taken as in the previously mentioned experiment. This suggests we value it when people earn their money. 

Selfless or self-interested?

A real life example of when self-interest seems to rule over selflessness is when people don’t intervene when they witness abuse. There have been TV shows that show people walk right past a person being beaten up (staged by actors) or just stand round and watch instead of either physically intervening, saying something or calling the police.

Of course there are heaps of examples of people acting out of self-interest: cheating, stealing, murder, etc. And there are good acts that appear selfless, but I wonder how much of it is actually out of self-interest. Social pressure plays a big role in getting people to do the right thing as people try to avoid being looked down on. The advertising for giving money to charity often mentions the fact that anything over $2 is tax deductible, which provides an added incentive to give besides the warm glow of giving. A person can do a good act simply because they feel good when they live up to their own morals and can feel high and mighty about themselves. In this way selflessness leads to pride, which is definitely in the interests of self.

I wonder if it is possible when no-one is looking for people to take the selfless option. If there was a guarantee that no-one would ever find out that you stole a million dollars that was sitting on a table, would you resist? There would be no social pressure coming into the decision making, there would be no-one in the way of you taking it and no punishment. Who could resist? In a way you’d be stupid not to do it. Given those circumstances I can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t take it and I’m the ISTJ duty fulfiller and reformer so my moral standards tend to be as high as they come.

That’s why I’m not sure if people truly are altruistic. But with more thought I do think it is possible not to take it. But I’m not sure it would be for selfless reasons. If I wasn’t to take it, it would be because of my morals, because I believe it is wrong to take it. Regardless of anyone else I still have to live with me and I want to live up to my morals so that means I can’t take it. But this is all self-interest reasoning; it’s all for me and what I want and for my peace of mind. So I wonder if that’s the best we can hope for: altruism in the sense that people do the right thing because they want to do the right thing and therefore do what they want, i.e. altruism with self-interest but self-interest that benefits others. 

Law of incentives

I wonder if there is anything that could go against everything someone wants and yet they still do it for the sake of others. If you believe in the law of incentives: no, because at some point no matter how small, you do things because you want to. Even if you don’t want to do it, you see a good reason to and that makes you do it or else you wouldn’t do it. 

I have no conclusion. These are just my rambling thoughts on something I’ve been questioning. Intriguing!

People: Good, Evil or Neutral?

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I’m pretty sure one of my opinions goes against what most people think about a certain issue.

This isn’t usually the case because a) I’m not an opinionated person and b) the opinions I do have don’t tend to make any ripples. I have an agreeable nature and it’s for this reason that I feel like I shouldn’t have the opinion I have or at least shouldn’t share it. I don’t like to cause rifts and I avoid conflict like the plague; they just don’t make me feel good. Plus, I am very aware I might be wrong.

So please don’t hate me for having my opinion. If I could change my opinion so we could agree, I would seriously consider it. But I can’t shake what I really think. Even if I wanted to, I know deep down this is what I believe:

I believe in the fundamental goodness of people. I know not one of us is good all the time—we have all had bad thoughts and habits, we have all said and done bad things—and I know some people seem to spend more time being bad than good, but just as no human (who wasn’t also God) is purely good, I don’t believe any human can be purely evil. Even if a person seems like they have no good in them, I don’t believe anyone is a lost cause. I believe everyone can choose to do good no matter how much bad they’ve done.

The people who don’t know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, I don’t think this a fault of their own—not entirely anyway. I’d think genetics and things like bad influences and traumatic experiences would play a role.

How do you define “evil” anyway? Is it intentionally doing the wrong thing? Is it doing the wrong thing when you believe you’re doing the right thing? Is it the motivation for doing the wrong thing? For example, is it evil to do the wrong thing for personal gain? And is it evil to do the wrong thing for the good of others? Does context and circumstance always come into it?

I’m not sure how I define “evil” but for some reason this is my opinion: Hitler wasn’t evil. I know lots of people will disagree with me and I fully understand why. Part of me wonders why on earth I would believe he wasn’t evil. But it’s just the way it is. I believe he did a lot of horrible things that were wrong and shouldn’t have been done. I believe he did these things on such a scale that might lead people to conclude that he himself was evil. I totally get that, and like I said, part of me wishes I could agree with you.

I can’t fully explain why I have my opinion, but there it is. Especially considering I’m a naturally pessimistic person, you’d think I’d say he was evil.

So here are some questions to think about: Are people good, bad or neutral? What makes a person good or evil? Does it have to do with actions, motivations and/or the beliefs of a person?

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