From brain pickings:
“A one-syllable word heavy as a heartbeat … a sort of traffic accident of the heart.”
An interesting piece on Diane Ackerman’s two-decade old book, A Natural History Of Love.
From The Atlantic:
In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished — but he, prisoner number 119104, had lived. In his bestselling 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which he wrote in nine days about his experiences in the camps, Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning, an insight he came to early in life. When he was a high school student, one of his science teachers declared to the class, “Life is nothing more than a combustion process, a process of oxidation.” Frankl jumped out of his chair and responded, “Sir, if this is so, then what can be the meaning of life?”
As he saw in the camps, those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,” Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
It seems to me that Frankl defined a kind of happiness with his above declaration.
The following essay is by William Blake, who has been held in solitary confinement for nearly 26 years. Currently he is in administrative segregation at Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum security facility located in south central New York State. In 1987, Blake, then 23 and in county court on a drug charge, murdered one deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt. Sentenced to 77 years to life, Blake has no chance of ever leaving prison alive, and almost no chance of ever leaving solitary — a fate he considers “a sentence worse than death.”
Read it at the link.
For many years personality psychologists gave the same answer as any pessimist: no, people’s personalities don’t change.
This was even more true once they got to 30-years-old. By that time, it was thought that if people preferred their own company or were overly neurotic, they tended to stay that way.
In the last 15 years, though, this view has changed. Instead of personality being set in stone at 30, now evidence is emerging that there is some change. In fact people don’t give exactly the same answers to personality questionnaires at different times in their lives. But are these shifts meaningful? Could the differences be more about the tests than real life?
Read more at the link.
From Harvard Magazine:
An ingenious researcher finds the real ingredients of “fake” medicine.
From The Chronicle Review,
The amazing influence of unconscious cues is among the most fascinating discoveries of our time—that is, if it’s true
Advice from Zenhabits:
Knowing isn’t the problem. It’s the doing that gets us every time.
In business, there’s a concept called The Knowing-Doing Gap, where companies study all kinds of ways to improve, hire consultants and hold endless seminars, start a new Big Program every year … but don’t actually change anything. They know what to improve, but don’t actually implement it.
Why is implementing so hard? How do we put knowledge into action? What’s stopping us, and how do we overcome it?
From The Boston Globe; an excerpt:
For centuries, people have tried to understand why it is that we feel bored. In the early 1900s, psychoanalytic theorists speculated that people became bored out of unfulfilled unconscious desire. Midcentury existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre, by contrast, saw boredom as a fundamental philosophical crisis, what Schopenhauer once termed “the feeling of the emptiness of life.” Within the modern psychology establishment, theories grew more refined. Beginning in the 1960s, arousal theorists described boredom as the result of a mismatch between our need for arousal and the ability of our environment to meet it; cognitive theorists put the emphasis on individual perception of the environment as monotonous or uninteresting, whether or not it actually is so. What all of these ways of thinking about boredom had in common, however, was that they were fundamentally descriptive, without suggesting a testable causal origin for boredom—or, accordingly, any solutions.
My observation: I haven’t got time to be bored.
From The New York Times—Good luck with that “thinking clearly” stuff.
The most central, memorable, and knowable element of any person — personality — still defies any consensus.
This seems oversimplified, but it’s short with an interesting list—from Barking Up The Wrong Tree:
First off, psychopath doesn’t just mean someone who cuts you up with a chainsaw — though the majority of people who do things like that are psychopaths. What’s the definition?
Psychopathy is a personality disorder that has been variously described as characterized by shallow emotions (in particular reduced fear), stress tolerance, lacking empathy, coldheartedness, lacking guilt, egocentricity, superficial character, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity and antisocial behaviors such as parasitic lifestyle and criminality.
So which professions (other than axe murderer) do they disproportionately gravitate towards — or away from?