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.
Dave Crenshaw is a Productivity and Leadership Mentor and author of the new book “The Power of Having Fun: How Meaningful Breaks Help You Get More Done.” In this chat, we talk about the purpose of having fun at work and why it’s so important to take meaningful breaks that align with your “ultradian rhythm.” He uses the metaphor of walking through a desert and needing an “oasis” so that you can re-energize yourself and stay motivated at work. We also touch on how his approach differs from the idea of “work-life balance,” and why we can still enjoy work even if we don’t have the perfect job or career.
Discover more about Dave Crenshaw here:
The Power of Having Fun
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To better understand others, we must first better understand ourselves.
This is according to a new study published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement titled “Know Thy Selves: Learning to Understand Oneself Increases the Ability to Understand Others.”
Psychologists spent 3 months collecting data from 161 participants between the ages of 20-50 and had them take a “contemplative training” course that’s based on the Internal Family Systems model, which teaches individuals that they are made up of different “sub-personalities,” such as your “happy voice” or “inner critic.”
The goal is that by better recognizing these different parts of our personalities, we become more aware of our own tendencies and patterns – and this can help us better navigate our relationships and how we connect with others.
The results of the study showed that participants who improved the most at identifying the different parts of their personality also improved at their ability to infer the mental states of others, a skill known as “theory of mind” or empathy.
Thus, self-awareness and empathy are very intimately connected. Once we become more aware of what makes us who we are, we are better able to understand the differences between ourselves and others, and what makes them who they are.