Brené Brown on Empathy (A Beautiful Illustration)


Think Like a Gamer

“When times are tough, doing what you’d do in a game — powering up, finding allies, and beating the bad guys — is a supremely powerful response.” – Jane McGonnical

I recently read Jane McGonical’s article, It’s Time to Think Like a Gamer, and found her study to be a simple yet insightful look into the mind of a gamer and how the lessons we learn while playing our favorite video games can also be a guideline for success in our real-world adventures and challenges.

Jane’s basic outline:

1. Be willing to play.

 Be willing to engage wholeheartedly with difficult obstacles and look at stressful life events as challenges, not threats. In games we do this as we Accept the Challenge to Play. Every game starts with a challenge. Whether it’s to solve a puzzle, or rescue a princess.

2. Power-Ups

Power-Ups are bonus items that give you more strength, power or extra life. A real-world power-up is any positive action you can take, easily, that creates a quick moment of pleasure, strength, courage, or connection for you. Collecting a power-up simply means identifying it as something you want to try and then using it in your daily life. For example: What physical activity energizes you? What reliably inspires you when you read or watch it? Is there a place or space you can get to easily that brings you comfort? Who is the best person to get in touch with when you need a pick-me-up? Eventually you may build up a super collection of power-ups. The bigger your collection, the more control you’ll have every day to feel better.

3. Bad Guys

Bad guys are used in video games as obstacles that force us to be creative and clever. Bad guys in everyday life work in the same way – they make things tougher on us. But they also help us develop skills and strategies that ultimately make us smarter, stronger and faster. This is not just a feel-good sentiment. It is a validated, scientific finding. To become happier and healthier, we need psychological flexibility – the courage to face things that are hard for you. “It doesn’t matter in any given moment, or even three times in a row, if the bad guys overwhelm you, or if you back away,” says Todd Kashdan, professor of psychology and senior scientist at the at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University.” But if you look two or three weeks in a row, and there’s a willingness to approach those stressful things, and to absorb some of the stress and discomfort that comes with it – that’s true psychological flexibility.”

Identifying the bad guys: What habit do you want to break? What makes you nervous or uncomfortable? What zaps your energy? What thoughts or feelings run through your mind and make you question your goals or abilities? What has a doctor or therapist recommended you do less of or avoid? Just identifying them is a step toward your win.

4. Go for the Win

Always hold out the possibility of a positive outcome. Learn the skill of benefiting. Be aware of good outcomes that can come even from stress or challenges. Extremely positive results can arise when you least expect it, even in the most daunting circumstances.

Today’s Spotlight: John Gottman (The Einstein of Love)

“Mostly, all you can do in love is repair how you screw up.” – John Gottman

John Gottman might be the world’s most calculating romantic. Love is a form of energy, he insists, and by expressing the dynamics of human relationships in mathematical terms, he aims to save more of them.

World renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction, John Gottman has conducted 40 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. His work on marriage and parenting have earned him numerous major awards. Dr. Gottman was one of the Top 10 Most Influential Therapists of the past quarter-century by the Psychotherapy Networker. He is the author of 190 published academic articles and author or co-author of 40 books, including the bestselling  What Makes Love LastThe Relationship CureWhy Marriages Succeed or Fail; and Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child, among many others. Together, he and his wife have founded the Gottman Institute in Seattle, where they teach their findings to therapists and also ordinary couples seeking aide.

At the University of Washington, Gottman founded the “Love Lab.” He recruited 130 demographically representative newlyweds to spend 24 hours there being monitored and observed. Gottman was interested in how they build intimacy when they are just hanging out together. Gottman pored over the videotapes and noticed that partners regularly issue bids, gambits of some sort that invite conversation, laughter or some response. When, six years later, he contacted the former newlyweds, 17 percent were no longer married. Looking again at the videotapes, he discovered that, among those who divorced, partners had responded to only 33 percent of their spouse’s bids, while those who stayed married were turning toward their partner’s bids 86 percent of the time, building up a reservoir of positive emotions that disposed them kindly to each other in times of conflict.

In Principia Amoris, Gottman has polished the insights gleaned from decades of research and expressed them both in words and different equations. He spent more than 15 years with mathematician and biologist James Murray converting the findings into quantifiable variables, then creating equations showing how the variables interact to drive marriages toward hell or a state of grace. Trying to understand love is like trying to understand the weather, Gottman urges: It’s complex, but essentially full of the kind of patterns that mathematicians can interpret.

The Gottmans have developed an intervention for couples dealing with varying struggles; from fights veering into violence, dealing with affairs, one partner with PTSD and/or addiction. “The relationship is potentially the greatest source of healing,” he says. “We think we have the technology to help with that.” But at the end of the day, is he the ultimate spoiler, reducing romance to a bunch of equations? His response to this claim: “Does understanding the way a star works eliminate the awe we feel when we look at the night sky? Or does the knowledge add to the majesty of the night?”

Source: Psychology Today

How to Become Batman

The blind using sonar for sight.

Human Echolocation. A surprising real thing. It’s the ability of humans to detect objects in their environment by sensing echoes from those objects. By actively creating sounds – for example, by tapping their canes, lightly stomping their foot, snapping their fingers, or making clicking noises with their mouths – people trained to orient by echolocation can interpret the sound waves reflected by nearby objects, accurately identifying their location and size. Similar in principle to active sonar and to animal echolocation, which is employed by bats, dolphins and toothed whales to find prey.

Blind from infancy due to retinal cancer, Daniel Kish learned as a young boy to judge his height while climbing trees by making rapid clicking noises and listening for their echoes off the ground. No one taught him the technique, which is now recognized as the human form of echolocation. “He just used it, without knowing that he behaved like a bat,” says Lutz Wiegrebe, a neurobiologist at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany.

Like Kish, a handful of blind echolocators worldwide have taught themselves to use clicks and echoes to navigate their surroundings with impressive ease. Kish can even ride his own bike down the street, as his daring YouTube videos show. A study of sighted people newly trained to echolocate now suggests that the secret to Kish’s skill isn’t just super sensitive ears. Instead, the entire body, neck, and head are key to “seeing” with sound, an insight that could assist blind people learning the skill.

In this powerful podcast from Invisibilia, Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel examine the surprising effect our expectations can have on the people around us. Listen to the podcast here: How To Become Batman


Beautiful Bookstores Around the World

Polare, Maastricht, Holland

Polare, Maastricht, Holland – Transformed from a 700-year-old Catholic church to an ornate bookstore, the Polare (formerly Selexyz) is indeed a class apart. It houses a massive three story bookshelf with staircases, elevators and walkways.

Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires – A gorgeous renovated movie theater that is now home to a variety of books. It retains the 1920’s glamour using theater boxes for reading rooms, painted ceilings and crimson stage curtains.

Livraria Lello e Irmao, Porto, Portugal

Livraria Lello e Irmao, Porto, Portugal

Livraria Lello e Irmao, Porto, Portugal – The neo-gothic façade, heavily decorated walls, stained glass ceilings along with ornamented pillars has not only an enormous amount of charm, but remains a hot spot for Harry Potter fans as it was featured several times in the movie series.

Shakespeare & Company, Paris

Shakespeare & Company, Paris

Shakespeare & Company, Paris – Named after a bookstore frequented by Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce during the 1920’s, the shop on Paris’s Left Bank has become equally legendary. Opened in 1951 by the American writer George Whitman, and run by his daughter since his death in 2011, it became a gathering place for Beat Generation writers like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Whitman allowed travelling artists and writers to lodge at the shop since its inception.