Find Your Way #2

Hello friends,

A bit of housekeeping: Starting this week, the newsletter will be delivered to your inbox every Saturday. If I come across something particularly interesting, I might share additional posts during the week. As always, I would greatly appreciate if you could share Find Your Way with others.

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Here are a few things I have found interesting/thought provoking this week.

  • It’s easy to underestimate the power of social support. Having a strong network of friends and families doesn’t just feel good, or provide social capital; it changes the way we see the world. Consider this research highlighted in Shawn Achor’s book Big Potential:

“And in incredible research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, the researchers found that if you are looking at a hill and judging how steep it is, the mere presence of social support around you transforms your perception. In fact, if you look at a hill while standing next to someone you consider to be a friend, the hill looks 10 to 20 percent less steep than if you were facing that hill alone.”

  • Humans are much more altruistic than we think. More and more the world feels like a zero-sum, winner-take-all competition; it’s kill or be killed out there. Or is it? During World War 2, only 15% of riflemen shot at enemies, even in the face of mortal danger. The military eventually remedied this through training: they used relentless drilling to train the altruism out of new recruits. Even in high stake situations, like war, we are deeply driven to help, not hurt other people. I find this important to remember in these divided political times.

  • If you have had a traumatic experience, it can help to write about it. As a counselor, a common response to talk therapy from young people has been “What’s the point in talking about my problems? Words can’t change them”. However, opening up about adverse events is helpful:

    “In an impressive study published in 2012, Denise and colleagues had survivors of serious motor vehicle accidents write about their experiences or write about superficial control topics. Compared to those in a control group, people in the expressive writing group had fewer PTSD symptoms in the months after writing. What made this study so noteworthy is that the actual rate of PTSD dropped in the emotional writing group but not in the control condition. In a later study, Sloan led a team that examined the effectiveness of expressive writing in a very small study of war veterans with PTSD. She found that PTSD symptom severity decreased in the months following the treatment. What’s more, five of the seven veterans no longer met diagnostic PTSD criteria three months later.”

    Thanks for reading! If you have ideas for what I should include in future newsletters (book recommendations, interesting research, podcasts, etc). Please respond here and let me know.

With purpose,