Psychological research has had a tendency to study negative effects of behavior both on the individual and cultural level. But new research has started to focus more on the positive aspects of behavior. I like this shift, as I think it will change how we interact with the world. In one TED talk I watched, scientists were studying genetic superhumans. That is, people with genetic ‘flaws’ that has proven to give these people abilities normal people don’t have. By getting more knowledge about these ‘superhumans’ we are also a step closer to knowing which environmental, psychological and biological factors contribute to their genetic make-up.
Humans in a big crowd have an inclination to behave the same way. It is difficult to resist the force of it. This is why people, who ordinarily are sensible, can do things that they regret afterwards . It is also the reason people who normally are harmless can become violent.
There are thousand different ways we can be affected by mass suggestion, both in a negative and positive sense.
A mass-suggestion experiment
If I could do a study as a researcher, I would want to look at how positive mass-suggestion could affect us . Let’s for fun’s sake call it a social media experiment. If every person shared the research hypothesis I’m about to present with one person, it would be interesting to see what would happen next.
My hypothesis would be something like: Can we by mass-suggestion, make people around the world do the same thing on the same day?
For example I could propose that the 30th of september, every one of us tried to do one random act of kindness. What do you think would happen? Could it affect us all in a positive way?
The date could be set one year in advance to make sure that many get the message, but as information can spread like fire in the right circumstances maybe it would not be necessary to wait that long.
So, would somebody be interested in an experiment like that? What can each and all of us do by simply being kind towards others?
Why not try? We got nothing to lose.
I am a 29-year-old girl from Norway where I work as a psychologist. On my free time I love to read, travel and experience new things. I also like taking photos and creative activities like scrapbooking and decoupage. My personality? For those of you who know the BIG 5 personality test, I am high on Openness, Conscientiousness, middle on agreeable and on extroversion/introversion. It basically means that I`m a flexible person, work hard, usually don`t make a fuss and love to be with others, while also needing to be alone to think and calm down. I also want to add that I love the Italian language, my family, Haruki Murakami, good music and my friends. I am VERY emotional, but calm when I have to be. Earlier I had a tendency to put other`s needs first, believing that I wasn`t worthy of any attention myself. Luckily I have grown in heart and mind since then, and learnt that being there for others mean taking care of your own needs first.
This blog is a blend of my personal story (called narrative or the sound of..) topics related to psychology and just random things I find interesting. I work daily as a clinical psychologist, and most of my clients have been abused and neglected in heartbreaking ways. Many of my posts will cover subjects related to trauma and dissociation. I am quite open and honest in my posts, because I believe it might make us psychologist less mysterious.
Most of the psychologist I know are kind, intelligent people. Some with their own stories, but all with a genuine wish to help. In this blog I want to share what I know about overcoming challenges and following your dreams.
Since more and more people have started to read this blog, I unfortunately found it necessary to password protect some of my more personal posts. If you want to read them, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also on twitter (@ninjafighter), instagram and Facebook. I also have two other blogs that are dedicated to psychology and the “Kindness project” that I started one year ago, You find them here: Free psychology and The kindness project.
In the last blog I post interviews with different people. I ask them questions about good things they do, and my hope is that their answers will inspire others to do be kind towards others. I have also invited guest bloggers to share their stories on “Free psychology”. They are brilliant writers, so feel to explore their story on this blog. I am always open to invite more bloggers who want to write, so feel free to contact me at any time if you`d like to write about topics relevant for the blog.
I started my blog three years ago, and it has grown so fast I almost can`t believe it. I am really proud of it, and grateful because I have made new friends and found other blogs that I like.
I want to thank all my readers and offer some encouragement to everyone who suffers or have done so in the past. I have been in the deepest valleys myself, and felt emotional pain so intense that I was afraid of it.
I hope this blog might prove that the fight for a better life is worth it.
- What Are the Different Types of Psychologists and What Do They Do? (psychology.about.com)
The following proverbs were collected by a first grade teacher over the years. She gave her classes part of an old proverb and let them fill in the rest. As You Shall Make Your Bed So Shall You........ Mess It Up. Better Be Safe Than........ Punch A 5th Grader. Strike While The........ Bug Is Close. It's Always Darkest Before........ Daylight Savings Time. Never Under Estimate The Power Of........ Termites. You Can Lead A Horse To Water But....... How? Don't Bite The Hand That........Looks Dirty. No News Is........Impossible. A Miss Is As Good As A........ Mr. You Can't Teach An Old Dog New........ Math. If You Lie Down With The Dogs, You'll........Stink In The Morning. Love All, Trust........Me The Pen Is Mightier Than The........Pigs. An Idle Mind Is........ The Best Way To Relax. Where There's Smoke, There's........ Pollution. Happy The Bride Who........ Gets All The Presents! A Penny Saved Is........ Not Much. Two's Company, Three's........The Musketeers. Don't Put Off Tomorrow What........You Put On To Go To Bed. Laugh And The Whole World Laughs With You, Cry And......You Have To Blow Your Nose. None Are So Blind As........ Helen Keller. Children Should Be Seen And Not........ Spanked Or Grounded. If At First You Don't Succeed........ Get New Batteries. You Get Out Of Something What You........ See Pictured On The Box. When The Blind Leadeth The Blind........Get Out Of The Way. There Is No Fool Like........Aunt Eddie.
“There is perhaps no psychological skill more fundamental than resisting impulse. It is the root of all emotional self-control, since all emotions, by their very nature, led to one or another impulse to act.” Daniel Goleman
It soars through you like a wave. The impulse to do something you will regret later. The urge is so irresistible, that you feel there is no other way. You just have to do it. Have another drink, although it is way beyond bedtime. A cigarette after managing to not smoke for three days. The ice-cream dripping with chocolate sause that you kept in the fridge. Just in case you get visitors. We know these impulses so well, and despair when we cannot do anything to stop them. Walter Mischel found in his famous Marshmallow experiment, that children who managed to postpone having a marshmallow and get two later if they waited, had better results at school and success later in life. Unbelievable, isn`t it? That just one experiment like this, can predict what happens years later? For some this might even lead to a feeling of despair: Especially if you struggle time and time again with resisting those impulses. Is it really impossible to stop the urge when it threatens to take over? Sometimes it honestly is. When you are stressed, have too many things to think about, have no time to think through what you do during a day or feel tired, you might slip on some of your promises to yourself. Studies show that choosing and resisting alternatives, drains mental energy. In the evening you might be so exhausted that willpower simply vanishes. BUT: We can trick our gratification searching brain. First: Prepare for the fight. Do not keep what you are trying to avoid, around you. Don`t buy that chocolate bar. To avoid doing so when you are stressed, plan to go shopping when you are not hungry. Shop everything you need so you don`t need to pop into the store later. If you feel bad from not having your usual way of regulating those difficult emotions or cravings, find alternative positive activities. Talk to yourself a LOT: I am strong. I can do this. I am actually doing it already by trying to resist. Good work! And if you manage to resist the impulse, for just one or ten minutes, be sure to tell yourself what accomplishment it is. Because you have just rode on the wave instead of letting it sweep you away. Even without a surf-board. Because who actually learn how to resist impulses? If we haven`t had good role models, like many of us haven`t (especially today when everything happened two minutes ago), how could we have learnt to resist? Luckily, the marshmallow experiment showed that if the experimenter learnt the children how to resist impulses, for example by distracting them (having interesting toys in the room, asking them to close their eyes) they managed to do so in the future too. Every time you find creative ways to resist your urges, your willpower grows. It is hard work, and sometimes it feels like it`s all for nothing. But just think about how happy people who have really tried to change, often are. Why might that be? I think you already have the answer: Because it is immensely gratifying to doing what we know in our hearts are right.
But, we have to balance resistance with acceptance. Sometimes we push the brakes to often, leading to us stopping impulses that are healthy and bring life to us.
From the blog feed your soul: My concern, however, is the squashing of the other impulses, the ones that guide us to life-enhancing decisions. The impulse to express a truth even if it is unpopular. The impulse to say no, when social mores would have us say yes. The impulse to radically change a life that looks perfectly fine from the outside but feels like death on the inside. I am afraid that we will begin to live only in extremes, much like the stratification of our socioeconomic classes. We become like the addict, powerless over any whim or desire, or we become the ascetic who deems any impulse evil, and the control over our desires the mark of superiority.
Is it possible to live in the middle ground, where our impulses can go through a highly developed discernment filter and we honor all ways?
I love those thoughts from the blog. And in my opinion, it is possible to find that balance. But first we must learn the skills to stop impulses first, and then we must learn to let go. Finding the balance can`t be done if we lack the knowledge and experience necessary to either resist or let go. So if you want to resist more, can it harm to try?
We all know how important teachers are. We have met many of them, and some have managed to stay in our hearts. Some have broadened our minds, while others might have made us feel inferior. Since February I have been around in classrooms, having the honor to see how far teachers in Norway have come since I was a little girl, eager to learn. School today is not about rote repetition, it is about so much more: Learning life skills. It is also about learning HOW to learn, and awakening curiosity in eager minds. It is about helping children be kind towards each other and giving them positive feedback while also challenging them to think more deeply about issues. I have seen small tricks, like getting the children to clap their hands when the teacher does so, to make them stop and listen. I have seen teachers managing to remember who got to say something, and who did not. I have heard them talk about their worries, for example when a child keeps to himself. And their pride when somebody just learnt to read after trying for a long time. Teachers are amazing. They must be in the middle of thousand tasks, always caring and giving. They must engage the students, and encourage those who struggle to make sense of what they are supposed to learn. I only have respect for teachers. They really try their best to educate our future. And I know many of them go home, remembering the faces of children lighting up when they had yet another moment of mastery.
Right now I am reading originals. It is an inspiring book that I already have learnt a lot from.
The #1 New York Times bestseller that examines how people can champion new ideas—and how leaders can fight groupthink, from the author of Give and Take
“Reading Originals made me feel like I was seated across from Adam Grant at a dinner party, as one of my favorite thinkers thrilled me with his insights and his wonderfully new take on the world.” —Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and The Tipping Point
“Originals is one of the most important and captivating books I have ever read, full of surprising and powerful ideas. It will not only change the way you see the world; it might just change the way you live your life. And it could very well inspire you to change your world.” —Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In
With Give and Take, Adam Grant not only introduced a landmark new paradigm for success but also established himself as one of his generation’s most compelling and provocative thought leaders. InOriginals he again addresses the challenge of improving the world, but now from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?
Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent. Learn from an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him, and a TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor. The payoff is a set of groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.
Since I have started working with children with learning disabilities, autism, ad/hd and a plethora of other problems, I have learnt a lot about schools and teaching. I have three schools, and meet a lot of teachers and pupils. It is interesting to see how different the teachers and schools are. But what strikes me, is how warm many of the teachers are. They care about the children, and in addition to that they manage to engage them. But is there more the schools can do to challenge the children and make them learn? Next Monday I am going on a lecture by James Nottingham. We have prepared for this, by watching a movie about the learning pit and I have also read his book, and am inspired. He encourages teachers to make the children think. The following video will demonstrate his theory. I hope it will inspire people who work with children, and also parents. Children are our future, so we should do everything to equip them with the cognitive and emotional skills to thrive in their circumstances.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in “Big Magic” that when you have an idea that occupies your mind, you must not let it slip away. When we have a dream, a thought that won`t stop arriving into your thoughts, take care of it. Nurture it. Because it might blossom.
This week I have slept well and saved up some energy. And that has made me determined. I have already done one “kindness interview” with a musician, and on Sunday I will interview a famous blogger. I ask them about kind things they have done to others, and hope it will inspire others to do the same. This summer I interviewed The Dandy Warhols, and the artist answered so truthfully that it made me realize why I spend my free time doing things like these: Because it makes me believe in humanity. I have always needed to come up with ideas and follow them through. I started a volunteer organization in a city I lived in before I moved to Bergen, and know I brought people together. But now I am determined to work for my kindness project. It feels like my baby: I try to take care of it and make it stronger. I want my baby to grow up and become an adult that contributes to society.
The logistic of finding people to interview, can sometimes be a challenge. But the obstacle is the way. The harder I work, the better it feels when I get results. Luckily, my circle of friends is growing. I get to meet wonderful people, who are kind and recommend other people I should interview. I also try to interview the man in the street, because every human being has a story. Has their moments when they wanted to make the world a little bit better, by being compassionate towards others. Is the world not wonderful?