There is an awful lot of misinformation out there about how to live a happier and more fulfilling life, much of it is propagated by the self-help industry.
People have core narratives about relationships that are rooted in their early interactions with their primary caregivers, and these narratives act as filters, influencing interpretations of their adult relationships. In short, the way in which we interpret the world is extremely important. Our interpretations are rooted in the narratives we construct about ourselves and the social world.
To a large extent, we acquire core narratives from our culture and parents and religions. We are provided with a ready-made belief system about the major questions in life, and for many of us, this is perfectly fine.
We feel worst when we are in a state of uncertainty. The uncertain person doesn’t know what to make sense of, whereas the certain one can begin the process of meaining-making and understanding and explaination for even the bleakest of outcomes. And by doing so, that person adapts and recovers.
Some kinds of explanations make us feel better than others; optimists put more of a positive spin on negative outcomes than do pessimists, enabling them to cope better and bounce back more quickly.
When someone proposes a way to make you happier or more tolerant of others, turn you into a better parent, or help your children avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, ask politely, ‘But does it work?’
Be mindful of your own and other people’s identities and how these identities can be threatened by a specific situation or context.
Initiate interactions with people who are outside of your comfort zone. You might worry that such interactions will be awkward or unwelcomed, but often these fears are unfounded.
(Consumer) interpretations are not always set in stone, and in fact can be redirected with just the right approach. Those small changes in interpretations can have self-sustaining effects, leading to long-lasting changes in behavior.
Be skeptical of advice from self-help books about easy roads to riches, fame, and everlasting happiness.
In order to change people’s behavior we have to see the world through their eyes. It’s not just about incentives, it’s about the way we interpret ourselves and the social world.
The human mind does not process negations as well as it does affirmations. When a president says, ‘I am not a crook,’ people are more likely to think of him as a crook, because he becomes associated in their minds with the word, despite his denial.
People are excellent rationalizers, and they might well make themselves feel better by finding an explanation that deflects blame away from them. They don’t do this consciously, of course – rationalization works best if it occurs behind the scenes, so that they don’t know that they’re coming up with these ideas in order to make themselves feel better. It feels like they’re simply telling it like it is.
People are motivated to perceive themselves as good, competent, moral people, and that when that view is threatened, they do what they can, psychologically, to repair their self-image.
Intelligence is a skill that is learned and is not a fixed quality that people are born with.
Disproving a stereotype is an endless and unavailing task; something you have to do over and over again as long as you are in the domain where the stereotype applies.
Stereotype lift is when a person’s performance improves when there is a stereotype that his or her group does better on a task than other groups.
Stereotype threat is a psychological state that people experience when they feel they are at risk of confirming a negative stereotype about a group to which they belong.
There is a danger to providing (people) with strong incentives: doing so can convince them that they are ‘doing it for the money’ and undermine any intrinsic interest they had at the outset. On the other hand, if (people) have no interest in an activitiy to begin with, providing them with rewards can’t hurt.
One of the best ways to achieve a sense of purpose is to find an activity you enjoy in which you are helping others.