The woman who never forgets…anything

Imagine having a “highly superior autobiographical memory” (H.S.A.M).

That’s the case for Australian Rebecca Sharrock who remembers everything from the time she was born to what she did on any particular Saturday a decade ago. ALL in clear detail.

'People can remember what they did last Saturday but I can remember what I did Saturday ten years ago.'Click To Tweet

Only 60 people in the world are known to have the memory condition. And while it comes with benefits — she can even remember every word from the Harry Potter books — there are negative moments in her life that she can’t forget. Yet, even when times get tough she can recall the good memories to balance it out.

Amazing.

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‘Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation’

humor self preservation
gif via @rjblomberg

Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation. It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

As Trevor Noah puts it, “Laughter doesn’t need thought.” It is intuited.

‘Write drunk, edit sober’ 🍺✍️

write drunk edit sober
gif by @andreeailisai

In a recent study done by professor Andrew Jarosz of Mississippi State University reveals that drunk people are more creative at problem-solving.

We gave participants 15 questions from a creative problem-solving assessment called the Remote Associates Test, or RAT—for example, “What word relates to these three: ‘duck,’ ‘dollar,’ ‘fold’?”; the answer to which is “bill.” We found that the tipsy people solved two to three more problems than folks who stayed sober. They also submitted their answers more quickly within the one-minute-per-question time limit, which is maybe even more surprising.

What Jarosz’s study showed is that impairment of focus is a boon for creativity. Sober people tend to overthink. Being a little tipsy loosens the need for perfection and crowd-pleasing.

“Aha!” Let’s relax and unwind

The study is not an excuse for artists or anybody for the matter to get drunk. But what it says is that our intention to be serious and focus all the time can get in the way of outside the box thinking.

Take the study for what it’s worth.

Types of cognitive bias

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The race to the bottom begins when what you think you know, you know. I am once again reminded of this Seth Godin quotes from All Marketers Are Liars:

The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.

The stuff we want to hear sticks.

Confirmation bias and stereotyping are just the appetizers. Beware a blind spot, or better yet, the ostrich effect.

Biases are shortcuts. The truth never expires.

ORIGIN: The notion of cognitive biases was first introducted by psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in the early 1970s. Their research paper, ‘Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases‘ in the Science journal has provided the basis of almost all current theories of decision-making and heuristics. Professor Kahneman was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2002 after further developing the ideas and applying them to economics.

The paradox of jumping through hoops

the paradox of jumping through hoops

We chase the ephemeral pixels when boring is the most interesting.

We jump through hoops to please others when it is disobedience that leads to innovation. ‘Think different’ is a clarion call for doing better, assuming the maintenance.

We obsess with material goods when the fulfillment of life hinges on love and experience.

The paradoxes of human psyche go back to mimetic desire — we want what other people want. Emulation is vague, snagging attention but grasping for comprehension.

Around the racetrack, we go.

Tips for boosting your memory and brain power

Tips for boosting your memory and brain power

If you’re looking to boost your memory and brain power, this video contains some excellent tips and reminders.

In summary:

  • Exercise. Physical exercise helps form new brain cells and solidifies existing neurons. It also increases the hippocampus brain area which is responsible for memory and learning
  • Never stop learning. Learning something new builds new brain cells. In fact, parts of your brain shrink when you stop learning. Be a life-long learner!
  • Play music. Learning to play music stimulates your verbal memory. This is because music training improves your left temporal lobe.

    Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsley
  • Use Mnemonics. Associate new information with a shortcut of memorable images, sentences, or simple words. Also, try the Acrostic and Mind Palace techniques. The more you can combine words with images, the stronger your brain power. Keep in mind what Einstein said about creativity.
  • Gain new experiences. Do small things like eating with your weaker hand to stimulate more connections between areas of your brain. Such practice also strengthens nerve cells and ward off the negative impact of aging.
  • Try brain games. You can also workout your brain with puzzles, crosswords or Sudoku. Playing brain games improves cognition and keeps surviving neurons active.
  • Eat omega-rich foods. Your brain needs omega-3 fatty acids to function at its optimal level.
  • Challenge your brain. It’s vital to do small tasks like practicing math skills so you don’t outsource all your thinking to computers.

Above all, stay mentally active by engaging in mental stimulation. That does not mean chasing the nearest dopamine hit. Do any of the above tips on a daily basis instead.

Human brains are hardwired for rural landscapes

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According to a study done by psychologists at Exeter University, humans are hardwired for rural environments.

An MRI scanner revealed that human brains grow confused at the image of cities. Meanwhile, reviewing photos of the countryside calmed down the mind to a meditative state.

Reports researcher Dr. Ian Frampton:

“When looking at urban environments the brain is doing a lot of processing because it doesn’t know what this environment is. The brain doesn’t have an immediate natural response to it, so it has to get busy. Part of the brain that deals with visual complexity lights up: ‘What is this that I’m looking at?’ Even if you have lived in a city all your life, it seems your brain doesn’t quite know what to do with this information and has to do visual processing.”

Take a walk in the park

We all know the city can make us feel like another rat in a cage. The zoo metaphor isn’t off. Said one Exeter professor: “If you don’t get the conditions right in zoos, the animals start behaving in a wacky way.” To quote novelist John Berger, “the zoo is the epitaph to a relationship.”

Urbanization is not natural, so the brain does its best to adapt to infrastructure and chaos. Catalan artist Arnau Alemany depicts the relationship between the metropolis and the fields. City parks provide an important outlet to human nature.

Despite the chaos, cities work. Like our crazy neurons, there seems to some order in the disorder. The brain is plastic, after all.

‘Excellence is often irrational. Greatness is often strange. Beauty is often odd’

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“Isaac Newton spent just as much time obsessively decoding biblical prophecies and predicting the end of the world as he did revolutionizing our understanding of physics. Florence Nightingale revolutionized the practice of health care even as she was racked with intense despair for much of her life. John Nash, the founder of game theory, was a paranoid schizophrenic.

I am not telling you to go out and contract a case of clinical depression or paranoid schizophrenia. I’m just reminding you that excellence is often irrational. Greatness is often strange. Beauty is often odd.”

— Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life (Amazon) by Eric Greitens

A prescription for live gigs could add a decade to your life

Jamming Out The Loud House GIF by Nickelodeon-source.gif
gif via @nickelodeon

Attending a gig every two weeks may add a decade to your life. That’s according to a study done by O2 and behavioral science expert Patrick Egen.

The study reveals that 20 minutes of seeing live music results in a “21% increase in feelings of wellbeing.” This is higher than both yoga and dog-walking which are also known to uplift mood.

 “Our research showcases the profound impact gigs have on feelings of health, happiness and wellbeing – with fortnightly or regular attendance being the key. Combining all of our findings with O2’s research, we arrive at a prescription of a gig a fortnight which could pave the way for almost a decade more years of life.”

Live music as medicine

Unfortunately, listening to tunes by yourself doesn’t have the same effect. The live music experience produces a higher score on happiness in the areas of self-worth, social nature, and stimulation. As a result, venue goers are more productive and have higher self-esteem.

Placebo or prescription, it sounds like music is jam-packed full of healthy vitamins.

What does it mean to be me?

Sociologist Erving Goffman believed that all human interaction was a theatrical performance. In his most famous book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goffman called his analysis the study of  “Dramaturgy.”

Dramaturgical analysis is the idea that we present an edited version of our selves when we meet others in person.

All the internet’s a stage

The internet, of course, adds a new layer of complexity to Goffman’s perspective. If social media is edited real life, then our dramaturgical action is the physical extension of it. We are no less authentic online than we are in person.

Goffman’s theory builds on American sociologist Charles Cooley’s ‘The Looking Glass Self’ theory. In 1902, he contextualized the individual:

“I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind.”

Keep in mind that people didn’t even think of themselves as individuals before the spread of mirrors in the 15th century.

We juggle identities online and off but each of us has a fixed character. It is our friends and family members and Google that know our truest self.

 

‘I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing’ 👁🌲

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“Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.”

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson

As seen in The benefits of walking in nature

The benefits of walking in nature

The benefits of walking in nature

One of the main benefits of walking in nature is that trees inspire feelings of awe. According to research done by psychology professor Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley, awe benefits not only the mind and body but also improves our social connections and makes us kinder.

Spending time outside is also vital as a destressor. One study found that camping gets the stress hormone cortisol back under control. Even sitting near trees at the office help calm us down with “softly fascinating stimulation.”

Spending time outside has many benefits including improving short-term memory, sparking creativity, lowering blood pressure, reducing fatigue, strengthening focus and more.

The benefits of walking in nature
The Hyperion: The world’s largest tree located in Northern California (Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic)

Nature is a higher power

Knowing how little we stand in a swathe of gigantic trees also puts life in perspective. Wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Nature:

“Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.”

Nature soothes the sense of self. It reminds us that we are less significant we are, and that fact may make us happier we’re here.

Picasso: Art as a form of diary

picasso #art #artist #painting
Photo by Cecil Beaton 1933 © The Cecil Beaton Archive at Sotheby’s

Art is where our mind’s eye merges with reality to create a theater inside our head, resulting in the form of a diary. This was especially true for Pablo Picasso.

Picasso was perhaps best known for his practice of public journaling via painting. “My work is my diary. I have painted my autobiography,” he said.

Picasso grasped his inner thoughts and projected them on canvass. His art gave us a peek inside his head, such as his relationship with partner Marie-Thérèse Walter in his formative years.

picasso tate modern #museum #art
‘The Dream’ (1932) Private collection © Succession Picasso/DACS London

Art is therapy

Art is an instrument for coping, part mental therapy part expression. Bottling his thoughts without letting them go would’ve driven Picasso insane. Whether it is painting, writing, or playing sports, we exercise our bodies to verify that we’re still alive.

As Picasso and so many other artists illustrate, self-expression has a real and irresistible pulse.


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Alien Hand Syndrome

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via NPR

What if you woke up one day and had a brand new second hand that moved on its own?

This is what happened to Karen after she had brain surgery to help cure her epilepsy. After her operation, her left hand immediately took on a life of its own. For starters, it immediately began to unbutton her shirt on the hospital bed while the surgeon pleaded her to stop.

After she went home the hand started to do other things like slapping her, which reminded me of the self-beating Jim Carrey famously gives himself in the movie Liar Liar.

What caused her alien hand syndrome?

Apparently, the surgery had to split her brain and removed her Corpus callosum, which ties the left and right brain hemisphere together. Basically, the operation caused the opposing sides of her brain to switch roles.

Fortunately, Karen has come to appreciate the moral authority her left hand tries to impose on her decision-making. Any time she tries to smoke, for example, her left hand puts the cigarette out and even flicks the ashes around.

Karen’s come to appreciate the magic discipline of her hand. However, she still gets in a smoke or two. “I understand you want me to quit,” she tells her hand, “but cut the crap!”