The world of psychology is overflowing with literature on how to live a good life and be happy. Who doesn’t want to be happy? The problem is that often people look in the wrong places. For example, many people think that the road to happiness involves great achievement, in either academic performance or in their career. Other people search for happiness in trying to make sure they have plenty of money and material comfort or possessions. However, it is possible to become very successful and very rich and still be entirely unhappy.
This week I found myself driving in the crowded congestion of the M6 motorway. I had a long drive ahead of me and found myself quietly fuming at the constant stopping and starting of traffic. As the minutes went by I started cursing the modern overcrowded state of our motorways. Now at that point my brain began to get tangled up in a negative snowball of thoughts. And the more it went on the more I felt annoyed and frustrated. “Why are our motorways so awful? Why are there so many more cars?
An old saying goes, “Listen carefully to how a person speaks about other people to you. This is how they will speak about you to other people." In fact, according to recent psychological research, the way a person speaks about others can also shine a light on their personality, their overall mental well-being and how others see them. (This is not about moments of justifiable criticism – it’s about how we describe other people on a regular basis).
Modern life can be exhausting. Trying to create greater calm is the antidote. But this antidote doesn’t happen by itself. We have to actively cultivate it.
We are all black-belt experts in busyness. Our minds have never been so busy. We get bombarded with information from our media and our focus is usually on fixed on what’s coming up or what we have to do next. Our mental chatter adds to the load. We worry about all the worst things that can happen in the future. Or we ruminate about things that have happened in the past. No wonder we are all so tired.
We all worry if we catch ourselves talking to ourselves. It’s said to be the first step to madness. But, in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, leadership experts Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman propose that, in some contexts, talking aloud to yourself can be really helpful. In fact, they claim that it helped 92% of people they worked with to shed bad habits and become more successful.
New US research on ageing suggests that memory loss is not inevitable. Indeed, a very small group of older adults, called ‘superagers’, appear to have mental skills as sharp as people in their twenties. Furthermore, their brains appear ‘younger’, showing thicker connective pathways.
According to American life-coach Mel Robbins, a simple intriguing countdown technique can help us achieve our true potential. This technique attempts to help us solve a fundamental human problem. That is, we all have great ideas about the kind of life we want and the things we want to achieve. However, and here’s the catch, whenever we decide to take action we often don’t feel like doing it!
We are all becoming increasingly aware of the impact of smartphones in our lives. They are truly amazing inventions. A phone, a camera, a message system, a portal to all the knowledge in the world, a social meeting place, a map, a music and video player and countless other games and online tools. But the cost is that they are becoming increasingly addictive. Like all addictions, they get in the way of being able to live a rich and rewarding life. We check them first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Don’t you love television? We all have our favourite programmes. It’s part of life in the modern age. So, are there any downsides?