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Small Talk vs. Big Questions: How to Build a Deep Connection With Anyone

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When I look back on my life, the times when I’ve built the deepest connections with people are when we just sit and talk about the “big questions” in life.

How do you picture a perfect society? What are your big goals in life? What do you think are your biggest strengths and weaknesses? What’s your favorite memory?

A popular study led by social psychologist Arthur Aron suggests that asking these “big questions” is an important aspect of building a deep connection with anyone, whether it be a lover or a friend.

In the experiment, they had individuals broken into a “small talk” group, where individuals just talked about everyday things, and a “big questions” group, where individuals were given a series of personal questions to ask each other.

It was discovered that those in the “big questions” group were far more likely to develop a deep connection with the other person. And many were willing to continue their relationship outside of the laboratory.

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My Top 10 Psychology Articles of 2014

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Another year is coming to an end – this article is a celebration of the top 10 best psychology and self improvement articles published in 2014 at The Emotion Machine.

As of today, there have been more than 500+ articles published here in the past 5 years. These are great places to start learning more about how your mind works and how to improve your life.

Check out what you may have missed this year. And get ready to continue this journey into the new year!

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Cognitive Bias Modification: Train Your Mind to See The Positive

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Is your mind biased to see the positive or the negative in your environment?

A new form of self-therapy called cognitive bias modification attempts to train your mind to see the positive through a fun and interesting new technique.

In fact, a recent study has shown that cognitive bias modification (CBM) has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. And another study discovered that CBM can reduce the pain of social rejections.

The basic idea behind the exercise is to try to spot the “happy face” among a bunch of “sad faces.” With practice, your mind gradually starts attracting to the “happy faces” faster and more easily.

And the reason this works is because your mind becomes less sensitive to the negative stimuli in your environment and more sensitive to the positive stimuli in your environment.

Try “cognitive bias modification” out for yourself.

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Free Won’t: Why You Shouldn’t Take Any Single Thought Too Seriously

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You can’t take any single thought you have too seriously.

Why? Because your mind is a lot like a “mental playground,” constantly generating and experimenting with new solutions and new ideas.

Therefore, no single thought can possibly define you.

So you had a scary or negative idea, or image, or dream? No big deal – it’s just your mind playing around with new ideas.

It doesn’t necessarily mean anything important or significant. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to act on it. Your imagination just needs to run wild sometimes.

This attitude toward our mind can often help us approach our thinking in a more healthy and constructive way.

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How to Stop Being Jealous of Other People’s Success

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“100% of all haters in the world are unrealized potential.”

Joe Rogan


You can tell a lot about a person by how they react to other people’s happiness and success.

For many, we seem to get easily threatened when we see other people doing better than us in some area in life. We find it hard to be happy for them, but instead we have feelings of jealousy and envy.

I remember when I was young and whenever I used to see my peers succeed at something – whether it be grades, sports, relationships, jobs, etc. – I used to always try to downplay it. Good grades? “Lonely nerd.” Good at sports? “Dumb jock.” Good job? “Sold his soul to corporate America.”

But the root of all jealousy is ultimately low self-esteem.

I’d see a friend’s band play a show and I would think, “They aren’t really that good. They make boring music. I could do better.” But the truth is that it was better than anything I could’ve done at the time. I was just protecting my ego from getting too hurt.

Jealousy is a form of self-protection. And we can get jealous of all different types of success, merely because we aren’t experiencing them yet in our own lives.

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