Researchers have succeeded in making an AI understand our subjective notions of what makes faces attractive. The device demonstrated this knowledge by its ability to create new portraits on its own that were tailored to be found personally attractive to individuals. The results can be utilised, for example, in modelling preferences and decision-making as well as potentially identifying unconscious attitudes.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki and University of Copenhagen investigated whether a computer would be able to identify the facial features we consider attractive and, based on this, create new images matching our criteria. The researchers used artificial intelligence to interpret brain signals and combined the resulting brain-computer interface with a generative model of artificial faces. This enabled the computer to create facial images that appealed to individual preferences.
“In our previous studies, we designed models that could identify and control simple portrait features, such as hair color and emotion. However, people largely agree on who is blond and who smiles. Attractiveness is a more challenging subject of study, as it is associated with cultural and psychological factors that likely play unconscious roles in our individual preferences. Indeed, we often find it very hard to explain what it is exactly that makes something, or someone, beautiful: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” says Senior Researcher and Docent Michiel Spapé from the Department of Psychology and Logopedics, University of Helsinki.
The study, which combines computer science and psychology, was published in February in the IEEE Transactions in Affective Computing journal.
Preferences exposed by the brain
Initially, the researchers gave a generative adversarial neural network (GAN) the task of creating hundreds of artificial portraits. The images were shown, one at a time, to 30 volunteers who were asked to pay attention to faces they found attractive while their brain responses were recorded via electroencephalography (EEG).
“It worked a bit like the dating app Tinder: the participants ‘swiped right’ when coming across an attractive face. Here, however, they did not have to do anything but look at the images. We measured their immediate brain response to the images,” Spapé explains.
The researchers analysed the EEG data with machine learning techniques, connecting individual EEG data through a brain-computer interface to a generative neural network.
“A brain-computer interface such as this is able to interpret users’ opinions on the attractiveness of a range of images. By interpreting their views, the AI model interpreting brain responses and the generative neural network modelling the face images can together produce an entirely new face image by combining what a particular person finds attractive,” says Academy Research Fellow and Associate Professor Tuukka Ruotsalo, who heads the project.
To test the validity of their modelling, the researchers generated new portraits for each participant, predicting they would find them personally attractive. Testing them in a double-blind procedure against matched controls, they found that the new images matched the preferences of the subjects with an accuracy of over 80%.
“The study demonstrates that we are capable of generating images that match personal preference by connecting an artificial neural network to brain responses. Succeeding in assessing attractiveness is especially significant, as this is such a poignant, psychological property of the stimuli.
Computer vision has thus far been very successful at categorising images based on objective patterns. By bringing in brain responses to the mix, we show it is possible to detect and generate images based on psychological properties, like personal taste,” Spapé explains.
Potential for exposing unconscious attitudes
Ultimately, the study may benefit society by advancing the capacity for computers to learn and increasingly understand subjective preferences, through interaction between AI solutions and brain-computer interfaces.
“If this is possible in something that is as personal and subjective as attractiveness, we may also be able to look into other cognitive functions such as perception and decision-making. Potentially, we might gear the device towards identifying stereotypes or implicit bias and better understand individual differences,” says Spapé.
Anjan Chatterjee uses tools from evolutionary psychology and cognitive neuroscience to study one of nature’s most captivating concepts: beauty. Learn more about the science behind why certain configurations of line, color and form excite us in this fascinating, deep look inside your brain. Check out more TED talks: http://www.ted.com The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. Follow TED on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TEDTalks Like TED on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TED Subscribe to our channel: https://www.youtube.com/TED
Michiel Spape, Keith Davis, Lauri Kangassalo, Niklas Ravaja, Zania Sovijarvi-Spape, Tuukka Ruotsalo. Brain-computer interface for generating personally attractive images. IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, 2021; 1 DOI: 10.1109/TAFFC.2021.3059043
July 7, 2020 — Researchers have found that dopamine neurons in the brain can represent the decision-making process when making economic choices. As monkeys contemplated whether or not to choose an item, a subset of …
Oct. 15, 2019 — The question may be as old as democracy itself: are physically attractive people elected more often than less attractive opponents? Scientists have found out that looking good can at least partly …
Feb. 21, 2019 — Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way we do business, and it can potentially allow firms to improve their decision making, given that individuals are willing to adopt algorithms in …
June 8, 2017 — School programs designed to educate children and adolescents on how to understand and manage emotions, relationships and academic goals must go beyond improving the skills of the individuals to …
FROM AROUND THE WEB
ScienceDaily shares links with sites in the TrendMD network and earns revenue from third-party advertisers, where indicated.
If you know anything about the history of glasses, you would know that they weren’t always viewed as a popular fashion accessory. Glasses for fashion used to be a remote idea that was only feasible in the galaxy far far away.
Specs were only used as a means for vision correction and anybody who wore them was either considered a nerd or a bookworm.
As portrayed in hollywood movies and shows, glasses represented shy or reserved souls who couldn’t do no wrong. Or they were used to portray insecure bespectacled ladies in rom-coms who removed their glasses to unleash the sexy diva within.
But, this negative reputation of glasses was soon refuted with the arrival of designer glasses frames that were everything from cute, stylish, nerdy to sexy.
It’s a different story now. People with 20/20 vision wear frames like transparent glasses or tortoiseshells to make a strong fashion statement.
The psychology behind glasses
Glasses shifted from being a vision necessity to being a staple fashion accessory. Today, the choices are abundant with different styles of frames in different designs and colours.
No matter if you wear glasses for fashion or specs with a prescription, they are saying a lot about you while sitting quietly on your face. Your eyewear holds the power to make you look trustworthy, honest, intelligent, or sophisticated.
Apart from sending cues about your personality, your designer glasses also help others to form a perception of you. They open the door for subconscious evaluation and here is what people might think of you.
You are easy to approach
Did we mention that glasses make you look more intelligent? So you better not act all surprised when people come to you to seek your valuable opinion on something. Especially if you are sporting transparent glasses or hipster frames.
Your eyeglasses help forming people’s perception of you. It is easier to strike up a conversation with someone who appears smart and trustworthy due to their specs than a non glasses wearer whose personality can’t be predicted.
It’s almost as if your glasses yield some kind of special powers. Also, wearing glasses is a way to tell the world that you are not embarrassed by your flaws (in this case, your imperfect vision). Instead, you are rocking your glasses with pride to let out your human side. What more does a person need to be approachable?
That becomes your signature look
We all have a signature look. It is described around the way we usually style ourselves. For instance, if you like to go bold on accessories, that becomes your signature style.
Whether you wear designer glasses in chunky frames or specs in thin titanium frames, they are making a statement about your style.
When you sport glasses every day, they kind of become your signature look. We are not saying that they define the type of person you are. But, they become an inseparable part of your overall appearance.
The signature look is not only for people coming from creative or artistic fields. You can be a student with transparent glasses or wooden frames and they become your signature look.
It is not a secret that glasses give a powerful boost of self-confidence. So, if you used to shy away from wearing them before, just bear in mind what wonders they could have done for your self-confidence and esteem.
They highlight your best features
What glasses you choose to wear is a matter of personal choice and style preference. We all want our individuality to reflect in our appearance.
Another good thing that comes along with wearing designer glasses is that they help you put your best features forward. If you have blue eyes, you can emphasize the colour with frames in blue shades or muted tones. And if there is a facial feature you would like to hide, glasses can do that as well.
In case you want your eyeglasses to just sit there without interfering with your overall look, transparent glasses or clear frames will do just that.
There are so many different types of frames out there. It all comes down to your features, skin tone, and lifestyle to choose the right one for you. If you fancy a rather minimalistic look, rimless frames are the best choice. Picking subtle frames when buying reading glasses online can be great too.
People identify you by your glasses
Eyeglass wearers have the advantage to distinguish themselves from the crowd. Thanks to their glasses, their individuality is far more prominent than those who don’t wear any.
If you like to wear those big chunky frames in weird patterns and unique designs, people will recognize you in a second no matter where you go.
Just like tattoos and lip piercings create a unique look, glasses are made to do just that, even more so, when you wear statement glasses. Transparent glasses might not be a smart choice when you are looking to distinguish yourself from other people.
For a unique look, don’t hesitate to go for intimidating frames like oversized glasses or quirky geometric specs. You can do that to your readers as well. You will find a variety of frame styles when you search for reading glasses online. Pick out a unique and bold style to stand out from the crowd.
They help you in your career
Since your glasses give out an intellectual vibe, they help you in situations like job interviews and things like that. Sounds a bit silly, right?
Wearing glasses makes people think that you are one of those intelligent people who will be the right fit for the job. If you are a man, stick to rectangular or square frames in neutral shades to do the interview right. If you are a lady, designer glasses cat-eye frames with modest curves and black colour will bode well with your career progression.
Now that you know what glasses are capable of, do you need any more reason to wear them? Even if your eyes are doing just fine, there are countless glasses for fashion out there for you.
Versace VE1163M freeprescriptionlenses.com – February 1[…] Reviews 0 Versace VE1163M You can showcase your refined taste when you wear Versace VE1163M eyeglasses […] Made with Monel metal, the full-rim frames of these Versace eyeglasses are durable, lightweight, and noncorrosive, so the glasses stand up to wear whether you’re at wor […]0
Every detail does matter.When you have big dreams, and a grand vision for your career, it’s the little actions, and the small details you prioritize that will set you apart. Sure, you can work on adding habits and incorporating new skill sets into your daily life. Nonetheless, it’s key to stop and ask yourself: what do you need to eliminate or change today?
It is easier to add a new habit than it is to break an old one because habits are comfortable and we are hardwired to want that safety. What if that one conversational habit you had was blocking you from the success you want to create in your networking efforts, or what if the nervous tick to repeat “umm’” over and over was what didn’t get you that big break?
The first step is recognizing that you have a habit that needs to be broken in the first place. Here are six of the most common habits I have seen ruin someone’s credibility without them even realizing it.
1. Constantly apologizing.
When you use “sorry” in every conversation, people are not only going to be confused, but it leaves the impression you don’t value your own thoughts, ideas, and actions. If you are constantly apologizing for everything, you are planting one seed inside of your coworker’s minds: that you don’t do things right.
I like to tell coaching clients to replace “I’m sorry” with “thank you”:
“I’m sorry I’m late” becomes: “Thank you for waiting for me.”
“I’m sorry to ask you for a favor” becomes: “Thank you for helping me out.”
“I’m sorry I made a mistake” becomes: “Thank you for pointing out my mistake.”
2. Using “uptalk” in your dialog.
Uptalk is a speech pattern that completes each sentence with an ascending inflection in sound, like that of a question. This happens in the typical “valley girl” accent we all know and love from the movie Clueless. Often this inflection sound leads those you talk to, to wonder if you are asking a question or providing an answer. It creates doubt in you from your listener, and triggers questioning as to whether what you’re saying is true or not. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it, and when you speak with uncertainty, you convey just that. The pitch of your voice does matter, and a Science study proves it. There is a group of neurons that actually track changes in someone’s tone of voice- and our brains give meaning to sounds.
In order to instill confidence and trust in your communication, you want your statements to sound like declarations, not questions. If you are uncertain of whether you do this, record yourself talking and listen to hear whether your sentences are floating suggestions or sound like you are stating a fact.
3. Having poor manners.
Using good manners is so simple, yet so underrated. I have seen some of the most powerful people in a room completely disregard standard manners by picking their nose, forgetting to say thank you when someone opens the door, interrupting people when they talk or shoving someone when they’re walking by—and unknowingly pay a price for it. We have all been in a room with that person who doesn’t thank the wait staff or causes a scene because something simple wasn’t granted to them. In the moment, they get what they want, but in the long haul, it’s off-putting. No matter how established someone may be, let’s be honest:this sort of action casts a negative shadow over them that isn’t easily forgotten. Be the person who says “please” and “thank you” with your coworkers, managers, sales team, and vendors.
4. Being a conversational vampire, or narcissist.
A conversation narcissist politely shifts the focus of the conversation from someone else to themselves. This could look like:
Coworker: “I just recently gave a presentation to the management team and I forgot to pass out the handouts that I printed. I feel like such an idiot for forgetting.”
You: “Oh that’s nothing, one time I was talking to the entire upper-level executive team and I only made a few copies, I didn’t know everyone was going to come. Luckily they all loved the presentation…”
This style of communication diminishes the other person and immediately dismisses their question, request for guidance or story altogether. By shifting the focus to you, and using their share as a start to talk about yourself, you may be minimizing their needs or concerns, and discrediting what they are sharing. This leaves those around you feeling pretty dismissed and misunderstood, and you can bet that over time, they’ll realize they cannot come to you for connection or guidance in the future.
One way to avoid being this archetype is by practicing validation with people. That means, whether you agree with what they’re saying or not, showing that you appreciate or respect their point of view however you can. Often that will sound like, “I can see where you’re coming from with that,” or “I’m sorry you’re feeling [insert their feeling here.” Once you validate someone, considering asking them for more information on their story, so that you can stay in curiosity and heart-centered listening, without making it about you. This is the work of strong leaders.
5. Participating in workplace gossip.
Gossip causes people to view one another differently. Whether you are speaking the truth or not, gossip creates friction between coworkers and leads to a toxic workplace culture. You may think being the “in-the-know” person in the workplace is going to get you ahead, but the truth is that gossip causes cynical behavior among employees and harms your value at work creating decreased trust. In fact, the person talking smack always looks worse than the person they’re speaking about.
Instead of engaging in the gossip, work on removing it. Be the example, and change the topic when gossip enters the room. If they circle back around to gossiping, you can nod your head through kind listening, and validate them with “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and change the subject. If they keep coming to you with gossip, consider setting a boundary that it doesn’t feel right for you to speak about colleagues in this way. Chances are that your colleague won’t like being the recipient of this conversation, but their discomfort with your boundary is truly not your responsibility, so long as you deliver it as kindly as possible.
6. Dressing inappropriately.
If you want to appear credible, you must not only fit the part on paper, but in how you dress. Back when I worked in counterterrorism in my early 20s, I’ll never forget a roommate I had who’d leave the house looking like she was going to a nightclub, except she wasn’t… she was off to work in the U.S. Senate! She was stuck without growth in the same role for years, and looking back, her clothing choices are a realistic reason as to why her career was stagnant. If you want to get ahead, what you wear matters more than you think. People perceive you differently based on what you wear, and studies have also have found that wearing formal attire makes your abstract thinking capabilities increase, making you more adept in your role.
There are a handful of fashion do’s and don’t I share when it comes to workplace attire, but a great rule of thumb is to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. And if you have to ask yourself if an outfit or accessory is appropriate for work, it likely isn’t. Keep the club-inspired trendy attire for the weekends and be the credible professional you want to be viewed as.
Don’t let these habits wreak havoc on your career credibility. Take responsibility for your actions, thoughts, and words. At the end of the day, you’re the one that makes yourself credible.
I’m a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you’re excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Publishing, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.
Some people, regardless of what they lack—money, looks, or social connections—always radiate with energy and confidence. Even the most skeptical individuals find themselves enamored with these charming personalities.
These people are the life of every party. They’re the ones you turn to for help, advice, and companionship.
You just can’t get enough of them, and they leave you asking yourself, “What do they have that I don’t? What makes them so irresistible?”
The difference? Their sense of self-worth comes from within.
Irresistible people aren’t constantly searching for validation, because they’re confident enough to find it in themselves. There are certain habits they pursue every day to maintain this healthy perspective.
Since being irresistible isn’t the result of dumb luck, it’s time to study the habits of irresistible people so that you can use them to your benefit.
Get ready to say “hello” to a new, more irresistible you.
1. They Treat Everyone With Respect
Whether interacting with their biggest client or a server taking their drink order, irresistible people are unfailingly polite and respectful. They understand that—no matter how nice they are to the person they’re having lunch with—it’s all for naught if that person witnesses them behaving badly toward someone else. Irresistible people treat everyone with respect because they believe they’re no better than anyone else.
2. They Follow The Platinum Rule
The Golden Rule—treat others as you want to be treated—has a fatal flaw: it assumes that all people want to be treated the same way. It ignores that people are motivated by vastly different things. One person loves public recognition, while another loathes being the center of attention.
The Platinum Rule—treat others as they want to be treated—corrects that flaw. Irresistible people are great at reading other people, and they adjust their behavior and style to make others feel comfortable.
3. They Ditch The Small Talk
There’s no surer way to prevent an emotional connection from forming during a conversation than by sticking to small talk. When you robotically approach people with small talk this puts their brains on autopilot and prevents them from having any real affinity for you. Irresistible people create connection and find depth even in short, every day conversations. Their genuine interest in other people makes it easy for them to ask good questions and relate what they’re told to other important facets of the speaker’s life.
4. They Focus On People More Than Anything Else
Irresistible people possess an authentic interest in those around them. As a result, they don’t spend much time thinking about themselves. They don’t obsess over how well they’re liked, because they’re too busy focusing on the people they’re with. It’s what makes their irresistibility seem so effortless.
To put this habit to work for you, try putting down the smart phone and focusing on the people you’re with. Focus on what they’re saying, not what your response will be, or how what they’re saying will affect you. When people tell you something about themselves, follow up with open-ended questions to draw them out even more.
5. They Don’t Try Too Hard
Irresistible people don’t dominate the conversation with stories about how smart and successful they are. It’s not that they’re resisting the urge to brag. The thought doesn’t even occur to them because they know how unlikeable people are who try too hard to get others to like them.
6. They Recognize The Difference Between Fact And Opinion
Irresistible people handle controversial topics and touchy subjects with grace and poise. They don’t shrink from sharing their opinions, but they make it clear that they’re opinions, not facts. Whether discussing global warming, politics, vaccine schedules, or GMO foods, irresistible people recognize that many people who are just as intelligent as they are see things differently.
7. They Are Authentic
Irresistible people are who they are. Nobody has to burn up energy or brainpower trying to guess their agenda or predict what they’ll do next. They do this because they know that no one likes a fake.
People gravitate toward authentic individuals because they know they can trust them. It’s easy to resist someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel.
8. They Have Integrity
People with high integrity are irresistible because they walk their talk, plain and simple. Integrity is a simple concept but a difficult thing to practice. To demonstrate integrity every day, irresistible people follow through, they avoid talking bad about other people, and they do the right thing, even when it hurts.
9. They Smile
People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they’re talking to. If you want people to find you irresistible, smile at them during conversations and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result.
10. They Make An Effort To Look Their Best (Just Not Too Much Of An Effort)
There’s a massive difference between being presentable and being vain. Irresistible people understand that making an effort to look your best is comparable to cleaning your house before company comes—it’s a sign of respect for others. But once they’ve made themselves presentable, they stop thinking about it.
11. They Find Reasons To Love Life
Irresistible people are positive and passionate. They’re never bored, because they see life as an amazing adventure and approach it with a joy that other people want to be a part of.
It’s not that irresistible people don’t have problems—even big ones—but they approach problems as temporary obstacles, not inescapable fate. When things go wrong, they remind themselves that a bad day is just one day, and they keep hope that tomorrow or next week or next month will be better.
Bringing It All Together
Irresistible people did not have fairy godmothers hovering over their cribs. They’ve simply perfected certain appealing qualities and habits that anyone can adopt as their own.
They think about other people more than they think about themselves, and they make other people feel liked, respected, understood, and seen. Just remember: the more you focus on others, the more irresistible you’ll be.
What other qualities make people irresistible? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
Like many parents, Alisa Metcalf was focused on making sure her son Charlie was prepared for the college process. She started saving when her son was young and felt that she was on track. But as the years went on, despite doing all the right things, she didn’t feel completely prepared. “The application process can still be very daunting,” she says. “There is so much more to this process than how to pay for school.” Luckily for Metcalf, her employer, DaVita, an international provider of kidney care services, had already thought about how to help her through the college process with her son…….
The workplace is stressful, particularly when faced with a situation that tests your integrity. There can be pressure to carry out a manager’s directive. You want to perform well in your role, and you naturally feel like you should please the person who evaluates your performance. To remain true to yourself and maintain your self-respect, you have to be grounded. This sometimes may mean having a different view from your boss. But great managers respect employees who think independently, have the organization’s best interest in mind and respond with constructive solutions…..
It’s called Project Oxygen. Beginning in 2008, Google researchers wanted to understand what makes a manager great at Google. Here’s what they found.Project Oxygen…Google sought to identify the common threads among Google’s highest performing managers. Based on internal research, Google then applied its findings to its manager development programs….
The mass of men lead incredibly isolated lives these days. One seemingly no-brainer solution is for men to connect with other men wherever they can: MeetUp groups, local bars, softball teams, etc.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this idea, it’s not enough, and can actually end up doing more harm than good. Men need to be grounded in an analysis of patriarchy and oppression and unless this happens at the same time (or before) they come together in groups these new friendships and coalitions run the risk of reinforcing the same oppressive systems that are already in place.
The Invisibility of Patriarchy (at least, to the Patriarchy)
Men don’t talk about their feelings., so the stereotype goes. Well, they do talk about anger. They certainly complain. If they’re straight, they complain about their female partners. Saying they’re too needy. Always wanting them to do something they don’t want to do. Not having enough sex.
That’s fine. It’s fine for people to talk about what they want and what they are not getting. There’s no good reason to shut down anyone from expressing their wants and desires, their frustrations and irritations. The problem comes about when there’s no deeper exploration of all of these things. When you’re around your local bar or when you’re at softball practice it’s likely no one is analyzing relationships (I’d love to hear about exceptions, though!) Complaints are either being heard and left alone or they’re being fired up and intensified.
It’s an echo chamber and nothing gets shifted or worked on.
I often get asked if getting men together to talk is enough: “Forget therapy, forget groups, just get men together. Let them build relationships with each other and then things will go well. Society will move forward. We just all need to talk.”
The problem is that oppression and privilege is often invisible to the people who have it. If they are not continually brought back to examine it—if the fish is not constantly told they are swimming in water—they don’t realize it’s there and they think that society really is a meritocracy.
Empathy & Accountability Are Both Required
For groups of men coming together to be effective two things need to be present. They need to be able to do some of the above—express their anger, annoyance, irritation—even if those feelings could be heard by some as unacceptable (which is why we should do it in male spaces so we don’t continue to subject women to this). Only bad can come from repressing all of that. It’ll just come out in some other way: resentment or violence, to name a few. I’m not making excuses for it, but “holding it in” has never worked out well for anyone.
The second important part of this coming together is to not stay there. Men need to be open and less defensive when there is some pushback around the underlying premise of what’s being said. Not, “You shouldn’t say that. How dare you feel that way.” But more along the lines of, “Ok, I hear that, but let’s take a look at where your anger is directed. What might we all be missing here and what is the other person seeing that isn’t as apparent to you?”
Accept the feeling, but challenge the premise from where it arises. Buddies and groups of people without an analysis tend to stay in the anger/resentment without pushing forward. They practice their anger and annoyance without holding each other accountable.
And we all stay stuck.
There’s a stereotype in politics that the left is all about “bleeding hearts” and the right is only about “personal responsibility”. I’m not here to challenge political stereotypes, but I know that for growth—personal and communal growth—we need both. We need to empathize while also holding ourselves and others accountable. One or the other does nobody any good.
So, yes, men need to come together into groups. They need to come out of isolation and give up the myth of full independence, but they need to do so outside of the space that reinforces patriarchy and inside the space that moves us forward.
We’ve got to find our own personal balance between our outside reality… the one that keeps our material world going and our other very true (and what I feel is our most important) reality. Our internal creative reality is that part of us that longs to do the things we are meant to do opposed to those things we have to do to survive in this made up society. We risk losing our creative selves when we focus too much of our time juggling the demands of what is outside of us.
Wouldn’t you like to be immune to comparison? To devote your energy to making your own goals happen rather than enviously poring over the details of other people’s successes?
We live in a world in which comparing ourselves with others is easier than ever. Social media means we’re constantly invited to measure the curated high points of other people’s lives against the everyday ups and downs of our own reality.
From a neuroscientific point of view, this can be harmful for two reasons. First, it’s distracting and energy intense. Social media requires you to make a lot of decisions: what to like, how to comment, what content to post and how to frame it. These low-level decisions add up and deplete your cognitive resources for the times when you really need them in your own life.
Second, overuse of social media can trigger your ‘lack’ thinking mode, whereby you activate your brain’s negative pathways as a result of focusing on everything you don’t have and others do. Research into teenage behaviours shows that negative body image and self-objectification are directly related to social-media usage.
The good news is that there is plenty you can do to inoculate yourself against the urge to compare yourself, whether online or in real life, with friends you perceive to be more successful or happier. By focusing on modifications that harness the power of neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to change for the better – you will be able to build your resilience. Remember, nobody is born confident; it is something you can work at. Here are some ideas for how to do just that:
Think abundantly. This can help you reframe others’ successes as inspiring rather than threatening. Tell yourself there is enough to go around for everyone (partners, great jobs and money). Thinking abundantly translates into liking, commenting and engaging on social media, spreading the love around, focusing more on the positive responses you give to other people than you do on your own feed. This emphasis on giving is a good way to counteract the narcissistic tendencies social media can fuel.
Switch your self-talk. You know that negative voice inside your head? Ask yourself what its underlying message is. It will usually speak to your deepest insecurity, whether that’s “I don’t have what it takes to be successful” or “Change is dangerous. I’d better stay where I am”. Take this exact message and find its opposite: “I am successful” or “Change is exciting”. Repeat this aloud, and with feeling, whenever you remember.
The greater the positive emotional charge you can give your affirmations, the more likely it is your brain will take note of them. This is because emotionally charged thoughts activate a ‘value tagging’ system in the brain that tags not only what is important to you deep down but also creates a sense of your place in the world, such as your identity in life (I belong) or your purpose at work (what I do is meaningful).
Hold on to good feelings. Wellbeing and resilience have been linked with the ability to sustain positivity and savour happy moments after they have passed. In 2015, researchers at CIHM in the University of Wisconsin-Madison used brain scans to demonstrate that those who were able to maintain those good feelings had sustained ventral striatum engagement.
This area of the brain is part of the basal ganglia, where our internal reward systems are found. You can work on enhancing this ability yourself by making a point of noticing your successes. Write down your greatest achievements of the past year and past five years, with a line or two on what you learnt from each of them. I recommend writing a miniature version of this list every night too. Note down the compliments you get. Print out pictures of yourself you like. This will help remind you that there is plenty you are doing that is good.
Get used to fake stress. Boost your natural mental and physical resilience by trying intermittent fasting (this could be as simple as only eating between 12 noon and 8pm most days) or having a regular ice-cold shower followed by a sauna. Training yourself to endure temporary hardship has been found to improve immunity (fasting) and build the brain’s fight or flight response (cold-water immersion), rather like the way allergies are sometimes treated through controlled exposure to the allergen.
Let unhelpful thoughts move along. Regular mindfulness meditation will help you to allow unfriendly thoughts to pass without clinging on to them. This way, you avoid veering off down an inadequacy-inducing rabbit hole of comparison, a huge waste of brain energy that comes at a great cost to your confidence.
If everyone who read the articles and like it, that would be favorable to have your donations – Thank you.