Tara Cousineau is a clinical psychologist and author of the book The Kindness Cure. In this chat, we discuss the current state of kindness (and cruelty) in our world and practical ways we can make kindness cool again. One big factor is how the internet and social media shape what we see in the world (with an emphasis on negative news) – this can lead to a “cool to be cruel” mentality. We also talk about the importance of both mindfulness and forgiveness when overriding our old impulses and instincts, and how this relates to being a kinder and nicer person in the future.
Discover more about Tara Cousineau here:
The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart and Your World
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Dreams and nightmares have always been a fascinating yet perplexing subject to study in psychology.
While the majority of our dreams may have no real underlying meaning or purpose behind them (what I sometimes call “brain vomit”) that doesn’t mean that our dreams never have anything important to say or teach us about our lives.
If you wake up from a dream and it sticks with you and leaves a lasting impression on you, then that dream must be resonating with you in some way (even if it’s just a raw feeling).
For example, if I have a dream about an old friend who I haven’t spoke to in awhile, that may influence me to want to contact that person and see how they are doing.
Was it my brain trying to send me a specific message to contact them? Not necessarily, but that doesn’t mean we can’t interpret our dreams as we see fit and find some meaning in them.
If a dream is meaningful to you, then it’s meaningful to you. There’s no science that can take that away from you, even if on a neurological level dreams may just be random processing.
Nightmares can be even more interesting. In fact, in a new study published in the scientific journal Motivation and Emotion, researchers analyzed participants dream diaries to find re-occurring dreams and nightmares.
They discovered that individuals who had re-occurring nightmares were more likely to report that they were also feeling more powerless, anxious, or frustrated with their lives.
Jeff Callahan is a social skills and communication coach behind the site Become More Compelling. In this chat, we talk about how we first became interested in self improvement, advice on how to overcome social anxiety and start new conversations, the importance of taking action and trying new things, and why it’s okay to be self-conscious when you’re first learning new skills. We also touch on the importance of staying connected with old friends and family, our idea of the “scariest social situations,” and what we can learn from stand-up comedians.
Discover more about Jeff Callahan here:
Become More Compelling
How to Effortlessly Join Any Group Conversation
Never Split The Difference
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One big concept in psychology right now is the “growth mindset.”
The basic idea behind the “growth mindset” is that we have the capacity to change and improve ourselves over time. This is in contrast to a “fixed mindset,” where we often believe that the way we are right now is the way we are always going to be – and there’s no hope to ever change that.
According to a fascinating new study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, even just one quick 30 minute lesson about “growth mindset” can help young teens with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The study first measured symptoms of anxiety and depression by having individuals take a self-reported survey (their parents were also asked to take a survey to assess these symptoms in their child as well). Only individuals who reported severe symptoms were accepted into the study.
Participants were then assigned to take a 30 minute computer session that taught them about new findings in psychology and the benefits of a “growth mindset.” This included research that our personalities are often much more malleable and subject to change than we think. It also also covered the idea of “neuroplasticity,” which explains that our brains are always building new neural connections based on new experiences.
The teens were then given examples of how a “growth mindset” could be applied to their daily lives. And older youths shared their personal experiences and how a “growth mindset” helped them deal with real world problems like embarrassment and rejection.
Researchers then did follow-ups with each participant after 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months to assess how much their symptoms of anxiety and depression had changed.
It was discovered that participants who took the one-time lesson about “growth mindset” reported less symptoms of anxiety and depression on all follow-ups. This shows that even just a quick 30 minute lesson about “growth mindset” can have a significant long-term impact on our mental health and well-being.
Nature is all around us yet we rarely take the time to step back and appreciate it.
According to a new study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, it was discovered that tiny moments spent appreciating everyday nature can have many individual and social benefits.
Researchers separated participants into 3 groups. The first group was asked to take photos of objects from nature that caught their eye during the day, the second group was asked to take photos of objects that were man-made, and the third group acted as a control and wasn’t instructed to do anything.
Participants were asked to do this for two weeks and jot down what they were feeling after each photo was taken.
Once the study was completed, researchers found that individuals who were asked to photograph scenes from everyday nature reported more positive emotions, “elevating experiences,” and more feelings of connectedness to other people, to nature, and to life itself. Those in the nature condition also reported a more prosocial attitude than those in the other conditions.
The big takeaway of this study is that anyone can take the time to step back and appreciate the nature that surrounds them on a daily basis – and this can have a very positive impact on our happiness and well-being.