Merciful Love Can Help Relieve the Emotional Suffering of Extreme States - Michael W. Cornwall, 2018I do not believe such love can easily well up inside us while we are distracted by ponderous, analytical mentation. Doesn’t the “clinical gaze” that sometimes may emerge in the eyes of “mental health” caregivers reflect the detached or even defended inner emotional state of the caregiver? That impersonal clinical gaze strives to keenly identify and measure the severity of the “symptoms” of mental illness in order to ascertain definable patterns of “psychopathology.” The clinical gaze also searches for the degree of deviance from codified societal norms. But the inner clinical stance of the caregiver that fosters the caregiver’s own emotionally detached, impersonal objectifying gaze, tragically, can reinforce the inner self-judgments and the inner devaluing and self-shaming of the suffering person the caregiver would hope to help. One’s very self-identity is called into question as the inevitable psychiatric diagnosis process unfolds. We are then redefined as “disordered” beings who are fundamentally failing to pass as equals with those more “healthy” and successful persons than ourselves. A psychiatric diagnosis almost always brings a diminution of self-worth to those so often already in the grip of harsh self-judgments about their worth and inherent value (Cornwall, 2016b).
To Find Meaning in Your Work, Change How You Think About ItWho we work with is as important as what we do. Psychologist Martin Seligman (among others) has written extensively on the importance of relationships to happiness and fulfillment (it’s a core element of his “PERMA” model for flourishing); and the now famous Harvard Grant Study found that happiness and even financial success are tied to the warmth of one’s relationships, with the study’s chief architect famously concluding, “Happiness is love. Full stop.”
Birds of a Feather Do Flock Together. - PubMed - NCBIWe argue that the lack of evidence for personality similarity stems from the tendency of individuals to make personality judgments relative to a salient comparison group, rather than in absolute terms (i.e., the reference-group effect), when responding to the self-report and peer-report questionnaires commonly used in personality research. We employed two behavior-based personality measures to circumvent the reference-group effect. The results based on large samples provide evidence for personality similarity between romantic partners ( n = 1,101; rs = .20-.47) and between friends ( n = 46,483; rs = .12-.31). We discuss the practical and methodological implications of the findings.
George Saunders Explains How to Tell a Good Story (watch it)“A bad story is one where you know what the story is and you're sure of it," he says in this short film, George Saunders: On Story. For Saunders, storytelling is a stand-in for day-to-day life—and the same considerations you take when approaching how to tell a story mirror the freedom to self-determined identity that you give your loved ones.
A neural link between affective understanding and interpersonal attractionAt the neural level, changes in interpersonal attraction were predicted by activity in the reward system of the observer’s brain. Importantly, these effects were specific to individual observer–target pairs and could not be explained by a target’s general attractiveness or expressivity. Furthermore, using multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA), we found that neural activity in the reward system of the observer’s brain varied as a function of how well the target’s affective behavior matched the observer’s neural representation of the underlying affective state: The greater the match, the larger the brain’s intrinsic reward signal. Taken together, these findings provide evidence that reward-related neural activity during social encounters signals how well an individual’s “neural vocabulary” is suited to infer another person’s affective state, and that this intrinsic reward might be a source of changes in interpersonal attraction.
Jakes Brewer meets the futureWhen we went to have an ultrasound for this baby, I wasn't sure if I wanted to know the gender, we did not know with Georgia, so I told the ultrasound tech, just put it in an envelope and we'll decide later, and by the time we got to the end of the ultrasound, the baby was not cooperative and in a bad position, by the time we got to the end of the long ultrasound, she had forgotten what I had told her, and she made sure I was looking away when she wrote on the screen what we're having. He was still looking, and I was looking at him, and he was like, "Whoa whoa whoa!," and he has a very good poker face. I was like, "Do you know now?," and he said, "Yep," and we being us, I didn't bug him about it, and he didn't let anything slip. That was three weeks, a month ago, and what is truly wonderful about that, is that forever more, I will know, and his son or daughter will know, that he met them that day, in that room, in a way that none of us have met this one yet, and he got to know him or her for a month, in his mind, and come up with names, and think about the future.
Vagal tone and human connectionsRemarkably, people with higher vagal tone are more flexible across a whole host of domains — physical, mental, and social. They adapt better to their ever-shifting circumstances, albeit completely at nonconscious levels. Physically, they regulate internal bodily processes such as glucose levels and inflammation more efficiently. Mentally, they’re better able to regulate their attention and emotions, even their behaviour, and navigate interpersonal connections. By definition, then, they experience more micro-moments of love. It’s as though the agility of the conduit between their brains and hearts — as reflected in their high vagal tone — allows them to be more agile, attuned, and flexible as they navigate the ups and downs of day-to-day life and social exchanges. Indeed, this is what doctoral student Bethany Kok and I have found: compared with people with lower vagal tone, those with higher vagal tone experience more love in their daily lives, more moments of positivity resonance.
Caring for others, Dean Smith catalyzed a caring communityFor as long as anyone can remember, Smith devoted several hours every Monday morning to corresponding with former players, coaches, team managers, almost everyone associated with the Carolina basketball family. His memory for even the smallest events in others’ lives was legendary. […] “I never really thought about a legacy, except the nice thing I’m probably most pleased with, the real high graduation rate: 96 percent. But the fact they all stick together. They call themselves the Carolina Family. I didn’t plan that. They’re really good people. I think they all like me now. They might not have liked me when I played. I don’t know whether that’s a legacy, but I’m very proud of all of ‘em.”
Structured conversation leading to intimacyThe 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.
Seeing someone see you’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life. I spent the first couple of minutes just trying to breathe properly. There was a lot of nervous smiling until, eventually, we settled in.I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected.Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story I felt brave, and in a state of wonder. Part of that wonder was at my own vulnerability and part was the weird kind of wonder you get from saying a word over and over until it loses its meaning and becomes what it actually is: an assemblage of sounds.
Savoring joint memories"Relational savoring refers to the practice of purposefully focusing one's attention on a positive relationship memory, a time in which one felt especially adored or safe with one's romantic partner." Basically, that means sharing and reliving positive memories together, from recounting an amazing vacation or replaying your first date to revealing your first impressions of one another. In short, Borelli says, it's conversations that start, "Remember when we...?"
How Joni Mitchell met Carey of Blue post GrahamThe next night, Penelope and I went to the Mermaid Café for a drink with Cary. Several hippies were there along with some soldiers. Someone recommended this clear Turkish liquor called raki. I wasn’t a big drinker, and after three glasses I woke up the next morning alone in Cary’s cave. The stacked leather heels of my city boots had broken off, apparently from climbing a mountain the night before. I had no recollection of the climb. Later, when I returned to my hut, Penelope was gone. I was told she went off with one of the soldiers from the Mermaid the night before. That was the last I saw of her for many years.
The benefits of connecting with others also turn out to be contagious. Dr. Epley and Ms. Schroeder found that when one person took the initiative to speak to another in a waiting room, both people reported having a more positive experience. Far from annoying people by violating their personal bubbles, reaching out to strangers may improve their day, too.
In contrast with the weak and scattershot correlations among the biological and socioeconomic variables, a loving childhood—and other factors like empathic capacity and warm relationships as a young adult—predicted later success in all ten categories of the Decathlon. What’s more, success in relationships was very highly correlated with both economic success and strong mental and physical health, the other two broad areas of the Decathlon. In short, it was a history of warm intimate relationships—and the ability to foster them in maturity—that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.