Tag Archives: happiness

2015…

A new year has begun. A bit strange if you ask me. 2015 sounds so far into the future, but it’s not. It’s right here. It’s here and it’s nothing like we imagined it would be when we were kids. I thought for sure that by now we’d have flying cars and go on to space vacations regularly (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, but that’s what we were promised, right?).

What sort of future did we get instead? Is it fun walking around carrying a smartphone sharing your location and private life with anyone willing to listen? I don’t know. I do it too. It’s kinda sad though. All that technology, all that potential, and what is ultimately used for is marketing. To get us to buy more stuff we don’t really need.

I think we can do better. Humanity deserves more than that. I mean we slave away at meaningless jobs, trying to get more money to buy things we don’t really need… wait, is that from fight club? Well, almost. It went something like this “We buy things we don’t need with money, we don’t have to impress people we don’t like”. I guess the point remains: why am I still quoting a 20-year old novel, a 15-year old movie? Why do we still live in a world where money is god? Why, even after (or during) the recession, did we not get it? Why slave away for other people? For faceless corporations, for greedy CEOs, why do we keep making excuses for them? Maybe we just like being peasants working for the king. It’s sort of always been this way, it just had different names over the centuries.

Peasant vs King

I’ll fight it for as long as I can. I am not a slave, I am not a peasant, I’m definitely not working so that the greedy people “on top” can make more money. I commit to making the world a better place. Through my work, through the technology we are so lucky to have, and through any other action that can actually help. I do not believe in collecting “likes”, I believe in studying, learning, sharing (in a good way), and acting in an organised calculated manner. But knowledge comes first.

It may be simple, but it is what I plan to do this year.

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How to Build a Happier Brain

Ever wondered why it’s so easy to focus on negative experiences and yet we cannot seem to recall happy times without feeling anything more than nostalgia? Doesn’t it seem that our brain has a hard time registering good experiences and yet it’s so efficient in storing the bad ones?

The following article has an interesting theory: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/10/how-to-build-a-happier-brain/280752/

Brain
Brain

From the article:

As our ancestors evolved, they needed to pass on their genes. And day-to-day threats like predators or natural hazards had more urgency and impact for survival. On the other hand, positive experiences like food, shelter, or mating opportunities, those are good, but if you fail to have one of those good experiences today, as an animal, you would have a chance at one tomorrow. But if that animal or early human failed to avoid that predator today, they could literally die as a result.

That’s why the brain today has what scientists call a negativity bias. I describe it as like Velcro for the bad, Teflon for the good. For example, negative information about someone is more memorable than positive information, which is why negative ads dominate politics. In relationships, studies show that a good, strong relationship needs at least a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.

Positive experiences use standard memory systems: moving from short-term buffers to long-term storage. But to move from a short-term buffer to long-term storage, an experience needs to be held in that short-term buffer long enough for it to transfer to long-term storage—but how often do we actually do that? We might be having one passing, normal, everyday positive experience after another: getting something done, look outside and flowers are blooming, children are laughing, chocolate tastes great, but these experiences are not transferring to storage or leading to any lasting value.