Saturday, 31 October 2020

Helping people design their ideal life

Who am I with when I feel most alive? Who shows up in my darkest hours? Who do I call when I'm proud and want to celebrate? Who do I think of when I say amazing friend? Who asks me about my dreams and goals? Who brings out the best in me? I want people in my front row who make me come alive. I want those whose energy inspires me to be the best version of myself. Careful investigation by the Tennessee Department of Health determined that there was no physical cause of the symptoms (Jones et al. Eventually, the authorities convinced everyone there was no gas leak, and the symptoms disappeared. The Social Construction of Reality We have seen that our great reliance on social learning and our susceptibility to concepts that are brought to mind make us very open to social influence. Considered from the cultural perspective, these two forms of social influence play a large role in how people are socialized as children into a cultural worldview (see article 2). The title of sociologists Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann's 1967 article The Social Construction of Reality nicely captures the point. Many of our beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors are taught to us in the first years of our life, when we are virtually totally dependent on our parents for sustenance, security, and knowledge. As we mature, educational, religious, and social institutions further reinforce our own culture's way of viewing the world. The version of the cultural worldview we have internalized over the course of childhood becomes a form of social influence that is both profound and largely taken for granted. The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge put it this way: Since rats aren't known for being experts in such fields, drawing this false conclusion is understandable. Surprisingly, even when possessing the knowledge that a specific food-symptom-relationship is false, this doesn't necessarily prevent an aversion.

The psychologist Martin Seligman gave this phenomenon the name Sauce-Bearnaise Syndrome, based on a personal painful experience. One day, after having eaten filet mignon covered in sauce bearnaise, he - according to a self-report - spent the whole night throwing up. Although he knew that a virus was currently spreading at his office which caused exactly these kinds of symptoms, an aversion against sauce bearnaise nevertheless developed. Many people who have experienced fish related food-poisoning will know the following seafood disgust. In extreme cases, this aversion stays forever. Interestingly, it seems that an aversion to alcohol often is of rather short duration. After wild party weekends, millions of suffering people have already sworn that no drop of alcohol will ever enter their mouths again. But generally, this intention lasts only as long as the hangover. Each year, I sit down in a coffee shop and ask myself, Who's in my front row? I'm looking for eight names. Choosing someone to be in your top eight means that others won't be. I want to be best friends with everyone, but it's just not possible. I can know thousands and care for many, but my front row is different--it's limited to eight. When we select a recipient for a front row experience, we try to get as many tickets as possible, but that's often a limited number. The recipient needs to choose who they want to share that experience with. Your life is similar in that each day you make choices, consciously or not, about who you invest your time with. Who in your life should be in your front row? The TD Threshold was built by people wanting to help others live out their biggest dreams. The great Fundamental . Associated, I had almost said identified, with the parental Voice, Look, Touch, with the living warmth and pressure of the Mother on whose lap the Child is first made to kneel, within whose palms its little hands are folded, and the motion of whose eyes its eyes follow and imitate--(yea, what the blue sky is to the Mother, the Mother's upraised Eyes and Brow are to the Child, the Type and Symbol of an invisible Heaven!

From this cultural worldview, we learn scripts for how to behave in different situations and different social roles. Culturally Defined Social Situations For an illustration of the influence of culturally defined situations, think of instances in which the norm is to be quiet. You may have come up with these: a library, a tennis match, or a funeral. But this same norm doesn't apply at a playground, a hockey game, or a wedding reception. As a child, you had to learn which norms apply in which situations, but once you've internalized those rules, you don't need to decide consciously to be quiet or loud. Instead, the context itself automatically activates the norm, which then guides your behavior. To demonstrate this, Aarts and Dijksterhuis (2003) presented participants with a picture of a library or a train station and told them they would be going to that location later in the session. The treatment of alcoholism with aversion therapy often consists of taking a drug called Disulfiram, also known as Antabuse. This drug inhibits a specific enzyme in the body, what causes to instantly experience tremendous hangover symptoms when drinking alcohol: headache, vomiting, chest pain, difficulties in breathing, vertigo, and even collapsing. The more alcohol you drink, the heavier the symptoms. You can even get a Disulfiram implant under the skin, so the effect lasts up to a full year. Technically, this treatment isn't really aversion therapy in its actual meaning. Because, when people use Antabuse, they usually don't drink any alcohol as long as the drug is active - they know about the drastic consequences. But if they don't drink, and therefore never receive the punishment, it's actually not a conditioning procedure anymore. It's more like Antabuse is pointing a gun at your head, saying: Don't you dare to try! People sometimes tell anecdotes about their youth where they involuntarily received a treatment of aversion therapy. In those stories, they get caught by one of their parents while secretly smoking cigarettes. In the article The Dream Manager, Matthew Kelly poses the question, Isn't one of our primary responsibilities of all relationships to help each other fulfill our dreams? If you're a business owner or leader of teams, his article points out that helping your employees live out their personal dreams helps people engage more deeply in their work.

When I interview people for my podcast, my goal is to create a high-quality connection with my guest. A high-quality connection is an interaction that makes each party feel engaged, open, motivated, and revitalized. I believe that lifting others up, celebrating them, honoring them, and focusing on helping them feel fulfilled are some of the most fulfilling things we can do. When I make my list of Top 8, I write next to each name what dream makes them come alive. I hang this list next to my desk, and I see it daily. I'll often send a text message randomly with something like this, Hey, what are you doing today to get closer to your big dream this year? Zig Ziglar was quoted as saying, You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want. Henry David Thoreau said, Friends . A third group was shown a library but had no expectation of going to a library. Participants then had to make judgments in a lexical decision task (a task in which participants have to decide whether a presented string of letters is a word or a nonword). Only the group that expected to be going to a library showed evidence of activating the concept of silence. Specifically, they were faster than either of the other groups to recognize silence-related words as being actual words. In a second study, participants who expected to go to a library also pronounced words more softly in what they thought was an unrelated communication task. For them, the anticipation of entering a library automatically activated a norm of being quiet that then affected their speaking volume even before they left the lab! THINK ABOUT As you read this, what also might come to mind are the instances when people break social norms. Have you ever been studying at the library when someone walked in, talking loudly to a friend? From such casual observations, it is clear that some individuals are more likely to toe the line than others. The father doesn't react angrily or take away the packet, but surprisingly prompts the youngster to smoke another one. And, directly afterwards, another one.

Then one more. And then the rest of the packet. The end of these stories is usually very unpleasant - with a lot of tears and the content of stomachs spread over the floor. Behavioral therapists did this quite similarly. Scientific studies about it are quite old - mostly from the 60s and 70s. The procedure in the anecdote is called rapid smoking, and indeed was a common treatment. The task: taking a drag on a cigarette every 6 seconds until you feel sick. A variant was to hold the smoke in the mouth as long as possible, and to focus on the disgusting taste. They are kind to one another's dreams. Nobody knows better the power of having quality relationships than those who are fighting for their lives. It's wonderful to have friends around when things are great, it's critical to have friends when things aren't. A PERFECT MATCH I love thinking that, on any given day, I may meet someone who becomes one of the most important people in my life. In my early thirties, I had one of those days. As a single guy who worked hard, I was looking for ways to earn extra money while meeting some new friends. So I decided to get a roommate. Sifting through applications, I answered the request from a woman named Tatyana who wanted to stop by and see my place. On the drive over, she called and said, I'm trying to get to you, but I'm lost. Some seem to go out of their way to break every norm they can think of, whereas others seem to follow norms as if their very lives depended on it. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

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