How To Identify Your Dominant Emotional Style (and Why It’s so Important)

During difficult times, we often find ourselves defaulting to a single, dominant emotion, even when another might be more “logical.” For example, your default emotion may be anxiety, which is what you’ll feel during the stressful times, even if a more appropriate emotional reaction might be anger, sadness, or frustration.

This is your dominant emotional style, said Alice Boyes, Ph.D., author of the book “The Healthy Mind Toolkit,” in a recent article she wrote for Psychology Today. In times of stress, a “dominant emotion” is the emotion we default to and is often linked to how we interpret and react to situations. Going back to the anxiety example, your reaction may be due to a tendency to blame yourself for situations; if your dominant emotion is anger, that might be due to a tendency to assume others are trying to hurt you.

Why being able to feel a range of emotions matters

We default to our dominant emotion because that’s what we know and what is most familiar to us. However, it’s important to be able to experience a range of emotions, as this is often the key to a healthier, happier life.

One way to think about emotions is to think about all of the different emotions as being part of a balanced ecosystem. Within an ecosystem there are many different components, all of which are important for a healthy system. If this balance gets disrupted though, with one emotion becoming heavily dominant, then the overall health of the system gets thrown off balance.

As studies are showing, people who experience a broad range of emotions tend to have better mental and physical health, which includes lower rates of depression. One possible reason is that a mixture of emotions, even if they are negative ones, can help prevent a single emotion from completely taking over.

Two options for reducing your dominant emotion

Feeling too much of one emotion is exhausting and can leave you burnt out. According to Boyes, there are two options that can help you step back from your dominant emotion.

The first option is to think through other possible interpretations of the situation. As Boyes notes, her dominant emotion is anxiety, where she will usually blame herself. However, when she slows down and evaluates the situation, trying to think through other reasons for what is going on, this allows her other emotions to surface.

The second option is to focus on the quieter feelings, the ones that have been drowned out by your dominant emotion. “If I tune into my smaller emotions, they rise to the surface more,” Boyes wrote. These other feelings can help you come up with different solutions to your problem, while also helping you to have a more balanced perspective.

As Boyes points out, these strategies for dialing down your dominant emotion can have a lot of positive benefits. This includes feeling a sense of relief, enhancing your creativity, identifying new ways to problem-solve, as well as motivating you to try alternative approaches that you might not otherwise think of.

As Boyes noted, when it comes to feeling these other emotions, “It’s okay if feeling your non-dominant emotions leaves you feeling unsettled and perhaps a little at sea. You can feel unsettled and still also benefit.”

Source: How to Identify Your ‘Dominant Emotional Style’ (and Why It’s so Important)

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Related Contents:

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The circumplex model of affect: An integrative approach to affective neuroscience, cognitive development, and psychopathology

The Emotions

Flashback: Reshuffling Emotions

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Culture and the categorization of emotions

Are There Basic Emotions?

A Fuzzy Inference System for Synergy Estimation of Simultaneous Emotion Dynamics in Agents

“The Conceptualisation of Emotion Qualia: Semantic Clustering of Emotional Tweets

Passion and Reason: Making Sense of Our Emotions

Reconstructing the Past: A Century of Ideas About Emotion in Psychology

HUMAINE Emotion Annotation and Representation Language

A Fuzzy Inference System for Synergy Estimation of Simultaneous Emotion Dynamics in Agents

Consumer Behaviour: Perspectives, Findings and Explanations On the Origins of Human Emotions: A Sociological Inquiry Into the Evolution of Human Affect

Happily disgusted? Scientists map facial expressions for 21 emotions

Handbook of Cognition and Emotion

Why Your Most Important Relationship Is With Your Inner Voice

As Ethan Kross, an American experimental psychologist and neuroscientist, will cheerfully testify, the person who doesn’t sometimes find themselves listening to an unhelpful voice in their head probably doesn’t exist. Ten years ago, Kross found himself sitting up late at night with a baseball bat in his hand, waiting for an imaginary assailant he was convinced was about to break into his house – a figure conjured by his frantic mind after he received a threatening letter from a stranger who’d seen him on TV.

Kross, whose area of research is the science of introspection, knew that he was overreacting; that he had fallen victim to what he calls “chatter”. But telling himself this did no good at all. At the peak of his anxiety, his negative thoughts running wildly on a loop, he found himself, somewhat comically, Googling “bodyguards for academics”.

Kross runs the wonderfully named Emotion and Self Control Lab at Michigan University, an institution he founded and where he has devoted the greater part of his career to studying the silent conversations people have with themselves: internal dialogues that powerfully influence how they live their lives. Why, he and his colleagues want to know, do some people benefit from turning inwards to understand their feelings, while others are apt to fall apart when they engage in precisely the same behaviour?

Are there right and wrong ways to communicate with yourself, and if so, are there techniques that might usefully be employed by those with inner voices that are just a little too loud? Down the years, Kross has found answers to some, if not all, of these questions, and now he has collected these findings in a new book – a manual he hopes will improve the lives of those who read it.

“We’re not going to rid the world of anxiety and depression,” he says, of Chatter: The Voice in Our Head and How to Harness It. “This is not a happy pill, and negative emotions are good in small doses. But it is possible to turn down the temperature a bit when it’s running too high, and doing this can help all of us manage our experiences more effectively.”

According to Kross, who talks to me on Zoom from his home in a snowy Ann Arbor, there now exists a robust body of research to show that when we experience distress – something MRI scans suggest has a physical component as well as an emotional one – engaging in introspection can do “significantly” more harm than good.

Our thoughts, he says, don’t save us from ourselves. Rather, they give rise to something insidious: the kind of negative cycles that turn the singular capacity of human beings for introspection into a curse rather than a blessing, with potentially grave consequences both for our mental and physical health (introspection of the wrong sort can even contribute to faster ageing).

Does this mean that it’s not, after all, good to talk? That those in therapy should immediately cancel their next appointment? Not exactly. “Avoiding our emotions across the board is not a good thing,” he says. “But let’s think about distance instead. Some people equate this word with avoidance and repression. But I think of it as the ability to step back and reflect, to widen the lens, to get some perspective. We’re not avoiding something by doing this, we’re just not getting overwhelmed.”

According to one study, we talk to ourselves at a rate equivalent to speaking 4,000 words per minute (by way of comparison, the American president’s State of the Union address, which usually runs to about 6,000 words, lasts more than an hour). No wonder, then, that listening to it can be exhausting, whether it takes the form of a rambling soliloquy, or a compulsive rehashing of events, a free-associative pinballing from one thought to another or a furious internal dialogue.

But if such noise can be paralysing, it can also be self-sabotaging. What we experience on the inside can blot out almost everything else if we let it. A study published in 2010, for instance, shows that inner experiences consistently dwarf outer ones – something that, as Kross notes, speaks to the fact that once a “ruminative” thought takes hold of us, it can ruin even the best party, the most longed-for new job.

Why do some people have a louder or more troubling inner voice than others? “That’s harder to answer,” he says. “There are so many ways it can be activated, some genetic, some environmental.” What is certain is that these experiences cannot be discounted: “The data is overwhelming when it comes to the connection between anxiety and physical health conditions.” Those who are able to quieten their inner voice are happier; their sense of relief can be palpable.

See also:

  1. What Is Your Inner Voice?
  2. What If You Don’t Hear Any Voice?
  3. Why Don’t We Listen to Our Inner Voice?
  4. How to Listen to Your Inner Voice
  5. Moving on with Your Inner Voice
  6. Final Thoughts
  7. More About Self-Understanding

What is interesting about the science involved in all this is how it both backs up, and goes against, intuition. Much of Kross’s book is devoted to what he calls the “toolbox” of techniques that can be used to dial down chatter, and while some of these seem to contradict all that we think and feel – “venting”, for instance, can do a person more harm than good, because talking about negative experiences with friends can often work as a repellent, pushing away those you need most – others confirm that when we act on certain instincts, we’re right to do so.

To take one example, if you are the kind of person who slips into the second or third person when you are in a flap (“Rachel, you should calm down; this is not the end of the world”), you really are doing yourself some good. What Kross calls “distanced self-talk” is, according to experiments he has run, one of the fastest and most straightforward ways of gaining emotional perspective: a “psychological hack” that is embedded in “the fabric of human language”.

Talking to yourself like this – as if you were another person altogether – isn’t only calming. Kross’s work shows that it can help you make a better impression, or improve your performance in, say, a job interview. It may also enable you to reframe what seems like an impossibility as a challenge, one to which, with your own encouragement, you may be able to rise.

Some of his other techniques are already well known: the power of touch (put your arms around someone); the power of nature (put your arms around a tree). Activities that induce “awe” – a walk in the mountains, say, or time spent in front of a magnificent work of art – are also useful, helping with that sense of perspective.

Writing a daily journal can prove efficacious for some (something that felt terrible one day physically becoming old news the next), while neat freaks like me will be thrilled to discover that what he calls “compensatory control” – the creation of exterior order, better known as tidying up – really does have an impact on interior order. Reorganise your sock drawer, and you may find that your voice quietens.

Research shows, too, that superstitions, rituals and lucky charms can be useful, though most of us will draw the line at, say, taking our milk teeth with us when we fly, as the model Heidi Klum is said to (she keeps hers in a tiny bag, which she clutches during turbulence). Placebos have been found to work on chatter, just as they do in the case of some physical illnesses.

In one study in which Kross was involved, a saline nasal spray acted as a kind of painkiller for the inner voice: data from brain scans showed that those who’d inhaled it, having believed they were inhaling a painkiller, displayed significantly less activity in their brain’s social-pain circuitry compared with those who knew they had inhaled only a saline solution.

No wonder, then, that Kross believes children should be taught the science behind all of these ideas, and in the US he has already begun working with teachers to make this happen: “We want to find out if knowing this stuff influences how they regulate themselves.” Does he make use of the toolbox? (Physician, heal thyself.) “We should probably ask my wife,” he laughs. “But yes, I do, absolutely. I’m human, too.” In particular, he is “very selective” when it comes to friends from whom he seeks “chatter support”.

Kross finished his book long before the outbreak of the pandemic, let alone the storming of the Capitol. But as he observes, it could hardly be published at a more opportune moment. “This is the perfect chatter episode for society: a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, political uncertainty, widespread groupthink.” His most cited paper to date looked at the harmful implications of social media, often “a giant megaphone” for the inner voice – Facebook expressly asks its users: “What’s on your mind?” – and an environment that he thinks we need to learn to navigate with more care.

As for the pandemic, though, he is less pessimistic than some about the effects it is likely to have long-term on mental health. “We are already seeing signs that depression and anxiety are spiking,” he says. “Everyday feelings of sadness are elevated for many, and then there are more full-blown episodes. But there is also a lot of resilience, and we often underestimate that. A lot of people are doing quite well. They’re managing this hardship in an adaptive way. I am an optimist. We will return, I think, to a nicer place, though how quickly that will happen, I only wish I could say.”

Which technique should the pandemic-anxious deploy? “Well, one that I personally rely on is temporal distancing,” he says. This requires a person to look ahead: to see themselves determinedly in the future. Studies show that if you ask those going through a difficult experience how they will feel about it in 10 years’ time, rather than tomorrow, their troubles immediately seem more temporary. Does this really help him? “Yes, it does. I ask myself how I am going to feel a year from now, when I’m back in the office, and I’m seeing my colleagues, and travelling again, and taking my kids to soccer – and it gives me hope.”

It is, as he says in his book, a form of time travel: a mental Tardis that, if only we can manage to board it, may make everything from a bereavement right down to a silly argument seem less brutal, just a little easier to bear.

By: Rachel Cooke

Source: Why Your Most Important Relationship Is With Your Inner Voice

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More Contents:

There’s a Dark Side to Meditation That No One Talks About

The Running Conversation in Your Head

People Who Hear Voices in Their Head Can Also Pick Up on Hidden Speech

The ‘Untranslatable’ Emotions You Never Knew You Had

Hallucinogen Therapy Is Coming

How you attach to people may explain a lot about your inner life

How can you conquer ordinary, everyday sadness? Think of it as a person

How anxiety scrambles your brain and makes it hard to learn

10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck

How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life

How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power

How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person

How to Attain Self Realization (Step-By-Step Guide)

Aging is Inevitable Why Not Do It Joyfully? Here’s How

It was recently my birthday. It wasn’t a “big” birthday — one of those round-numbered ones that feels like a milestone — but nevertheless it got me thinking about aging.

When I was a kid, growing older felt like an achievement. Each year that passed marked one step closer to adulthood, which for me meant independence and freedom. I remember going to the city with my dad to see plays or go to the Met and seeing a group of women having lunch in a café. It seemed glamorous and exciting to be an adult. I couldn’t wait.

Likewise, I never quite understood the popular antipathy toward old age. At Spencer’s, a novelty store at the Galleria Mall in White Plains where my friends and I would find gag gifts, I was always perplexed by the section of “Over the Hill” merchandise. I mean, my grandparents didn’t listen to my music or play Nintendo with me, but they were cool in their own way — not crusty and out of touch like the caricatures suggested. The geezer jokes and “lying about your age” punchlines that adorned the mugs and t-shirts there seemed to come from another world, one that didn’t make sense to me.

In my 20s and 30s, friends would casually toss around the phrase “We’re so old!” I rolled my eyes. We were so young, I felt, and why should we waste that youth focused on what was already behind us? After all, right at that moment we were the youngest we would ever be.

My 20s were miles better than my teens — more expansive, less cloistered —  and my 30s better than my 20s. I became more confident in my 30s, I got into therapy and dealt with years of childhood trauma, I learned to communicate my needs and be more mindful of the needs of others. I wouldn’t trade the growth of these past decades for fewer lines on my face or grey hairs on my head.

Author Heather Havrilesky wrote: “Growing old gracefully really means either disappearing or sticking around but always lying straight to people’s faces about the strength of your feelings and desires.”

Now that I’m in my 40s, though, aging isn’t some future concept. Just being alive means growing older, so yes, we’ve all been aging since we were born. But at a certain point, the notion of what life will be like in a couple of decades starts to feel more real, and then I start to reflect more on what my current choices mean for that future me.

I look back and wonder what my work-hard-play-hard 20s mean for me now. Could I have had a healthier body today if I had been kinder to it when I was younger? And could being gentler now give me more joy and freedom in the future?

The dominant discourse on aging, especially when it comes to women, revolves around “aging gracefully.” This generally involves looking at least three to five years younger than you actually are, while not appearing to do anything to get that way. It also means “acting your age,” by wearing age-appropriate clothes (mini skirts have an expiration date, apparently), having age-appropriate hair and doing age-appropriate activities — but maybe doing one or two surprisingly youthful things (surfing, maybe, or tap dancing) that don’t seem like you’re trying too hard yet let people know you’re still in the game.

As author Heather Havrilesky writes in her biting essay on the topic, “I think about how growing old gracefully really means either disappearing or sticking around but always lying straight to people’s faces about the strength of your feelings and desires.”

The only way to age and be deemed acceptable is to have lucky genes or to conceal your battles against time underneath a practiced smile.

“Aging gracefully” entails walking a tightrope between a youth-obsessed society, which tells us that our value declines as we age, and a culture that says nothing is as uncool as desperation, the fervent desire for something we can’t have. Marketers stoke our desire for youthfulness as the ticket to remaining relevant, then shame us when our efforts to preserve that youth go awry.

So the person who ages without thought to their appearance is written off as “having given up,” and the one whose face remains 35 forever thanks to the surgeon’s knife is considered a joke, and the only way to be deemed acceptable is to have lucky genes or to conceal your battles against time underneath a practiced smile. It all sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

And so I’ve been thinking about how we move beyond this damaging — and frankly misogynistic — frame. What if instead of seeing aging as something to defeat and conquer, we were to embrace what gets better with age, and work to amplify these joys while mitigating the losses of youth? I’m not suggesting we paper over the very real challenges, both physical and mental, that come with aging. But can we view these challenges without judgment or shame and instead look for joyful ways to navigate them?

I delved into the research on aging, and here are 8 insights I’ve found that can help us think about joyful ways to feel well as we grow older.

1. Seek out awe 

In a study of older adults, researchers found that taking an “awe walk,” a walk specifically focused on attending to vast or inspiring things in the environment, increased joy and prosocial emotions (feelings like generosity and kindness) more than simply taking a stroll in nature. Interestingly, they also found that “smile intensity,” a measure of how much the participants smiled, increased over the eight-week duration of the study. These walks were only 15 minutes long, once a week, and are low impact, so this is an easy way to create more joy in daily life as we age.

Practiced joyspotters well know the power of attending to joyful stimuli in the environment to boost mood. This study suggests that tuning our attention specifically to things that invoke wonder and awe can have measurable benefits, especially for older adults.

2. Get a culture fix 

A 1996 study of more than 12,000 people Sweden found that attending cultural events correlated with increased survival, while people who rarely attended cultural events had a higher risk of mortality. Since then, a raft of studies (a good summary of them here) has affirmed that people who participate in social activities such as attending church, going to the movies, playing cards or bingo, or going to restaurants or sporting events is linked with decreased mortality among older adults.

One reason may be that these activities increase social connection, deepen relationships, and reinforce feelings of belonging, which are positively associated with well-being. Cultural activities also help keep the mind sharp. While the pandemic has made this one challenging, as things start to open up again, getting a culture fix can be an easy way to age joyfully.

Enriching your environment with color, art, plants and other sensorially stimulating elements may be a worthwhile investment not just for protecting your mind as you age, but also your joy.

3. Stimulate your senses

One of the most talked-about parts of my TED Talk is when I describe my experience spending a night at the wildly colorful Reversible Destiny Lofts, an apartment building designed by the artist Arakawa and the poet Madeline Gins, who believed it could reverse aging.

The idea that an apartment could reverse aging sounds farfetched, but it becomes more grounded when we look at the theory behind it. Arakawa and Gins believed that just as our muscles atrophy if we don’t exercise them, our cognitive capacity diminishes if we don’t stimulate our senses.

They looked at our beige, dull interiors and imagined that these spaces would make our minds wither. And as it turns out, some early research in animals (see also) suggests there might be something to this. When mice are placed in “enriched environments” with lots of sensorial stimuli and opportunities for physical movement, it mitigates neurological changes associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia. While there is some evidence to suggest that this might apply to humans as well, the mechanisms behind this phenomenon are not yet well understood.

That said, we do know that the acuity of our senses declines with age. The lenses of our eyes thicken and tinge more yellow, allowing less light into the eye. Our sense of smell, taste and hearing also become less sharp. So, while you don’t have to recreate Arakawa and Gins’s quirky apartments, enriching your environment with color, art, plants and other sensorially stimulating elements may be a worthwhile investment not just for protecting your mind as you age, but also your joy.

4. Buy yourself flowers 

As if you needed an excuse for this one, but just in case, here you go. A study of older adults found that memory and mood improved when people were given a gift of flowers, which wasn’t the case when they were given another kind of gift.

Why would flowers have this effect? One reason may link to research on the attention restoration effect, which shows that the passive stimulation we find in looking at greenery helps to restore our ability to concentrate. Perhaps improved attention also results in improved memory. Another possibility, which is pure speculation at this point, relates to the evolutionary rationale for our interest in flowers.

Because flowers eventually become fruit, it would have made sense for our ancestors to take an interest in them and remember their location. Monitoring the locations of flowers would allow them to save time and energy when it came to finding fruiting plants later, and potentially reach the fruit before other hungry animals. I have to stress that there’s no evidence I’m aware of to support this explanation, but it’s an intriguing possibility.

Taking it a step further, research has also shown that gardening can have mental and physical health benefits for older adults. So whether you buy your flowers or grow them, know that you’re taking a joyful step toward greater well-being in later life.

There’s something joyful about a mini time warp — maybe it’s revisiting a vacation spot you once loved or maybe it’s a getaway with friends where you banish talk of present-day concerns.

5. Try a time warp 

In 1981, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer ran an experiment with a group of men in their 70s that has come to be known as “the counterclockwise study.” For five days, they lived inside a monastery that had been designed to look just like it was 1959. There were vintage radios and black-and-white TVs instead of cassette players and VHS. The books that lined the shelves were ones that were popular at the time. The magazines, TV shows, clothes and music were all throwbacks to that exact period.

But these men weren’t just living in a time warp. They also had to participate. They were treated like they were in their 50s, rather than their 70s. They had to carry their own bags. They discussed the news and sports of 22 years earlier in the present tense. And to preserve the illusion, there were no mirrors and no photos, except of their younger selves.

At the end of five days, the men stood taller, had greater manual dexterity, and even better vision. Independent judges said they looked younger. A touch football game broke out among the group (some of whom had previously walked with a cane) as they waited for the bus home.

Langer was hesitant to publish her findings, concerned that the unusual method and small sample size might be hard for the academic community to accept. But in 2010, a BBC show recreated the experiment with aging celebrities to similar effect. Langer’s subsequent research has led her to conclude that we can prime our minds to feel younger, which in turn can make our bodies follow suit.

While it might be difficult to recreate Langer’s study in our own lives, I think there’s something joyful about a mini time warp. Maybe it’s revisiting a vacation spot you once loved, and steeping yourself in memories from an earlier time. Maybe it’s a getaway with friends where you banish all talk of present-day concerns. Maybe it’s finding a book or a stack of old magazines from back then and reading them while listening to throwback tunes.

It’s also worth noting that a control group from the counterclockwise study who simply reminisced about their youth, without using the present tense, did not experience the same dramatic results — so these “mini time warps” may be more for fun than for tangible benefit. But even if you don’t turn back the clock, checking back in with your younger self can be a way to rediscover parts of yourself that you may have lost touch with and bring them with you as you age.

6. Maximize mobility 

Exercise is often touted as a way to stay healthy and vibrant at any age, but one finding that makes it particularly relevant as we get older is that movement has been shown in studies to increase the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a vital role in learning and memory. This is important because the hippocampus shrinks as we age, which can lead to memory deficits and increased risk of dementia. In one study of older adults, exercise increased hippocampus size by 2 percent, which is equivalent to reversing one to two years of age-related decline.

In addition to its cognitive effects, movement itself can be a source of joy. The ability to swim, hike, dance and play can be conduits to joy well into our older years. When I struggle to get motivated to exercise, I often think about my future self and how investing in my mobility now can help preserve range of motion and minimize repetitive stress injuries later. Simply put: you have one body, and it has to last your whole life. The more you do now to care for it, the more freedom you’ll have to do the things you love late in life.

As we age, we have a choice: We can either cling to the world as we shaped it and refuse to engage in the new world that kids are creating, or we can adapt to their world and remain curious, active participants.

7. Refeather your nest

Once you start looking at negative tropes around aging, you start seeing more and more of them. Take the phrase “empty nest,” which carries strong connotations of loss and deprivation. Though I’m at the stage where my nest suddenly just became quite full, I love the idea of reframing the “empty nest” into something more joyful.

One of my readers, Lee-Anne Ragan, offers up as a joyful process in the wake of children going off to start their own independent lives. She points out that the idea of an empty nest suggests that there’s nothing left, while refeathering takes a more ecological lens, imagining a kind of regeneration that happens as the home, and the family, transforms into something new. A refeathered nest is a place of possibility, creativity and delight.

8. Stay up on tech

While technology is often blamed for feelings of isolation, some studies show that for older adults, being technologically facile can offer a boost to well-being. One reason is that internet use may serve a predictor of social connection more broadly, and social connection is one of the most important contributors toward mental health and well-being throughout life, but especially in old age.

Other studies suggest that when older adults lack the skills to be able to use technology effectively, it leads to a greater sense of disconnection and disempowerment and that offering training to older adults on technology can promote cognitive function, interpersonal connection and a sense of control and independence.

I’ve often been tempted, when a radically new app or device comes out, to say “That’s for the kids,” and ignore it. With free time so scarce, exploring new tech feels less appealing than digging into one of the books piled up on my nightstand. And anyway, unplugging is supposed to be good for us, right? But technology shapes the world we live in, and those technologies that seem new and fringy in the moment often end up in the mainstream, influencing the ways we communicate, work and access even basic services.

I remember trying to teach my grandmother how to use email. She was someone who never wanted to bother anyone, and I thought that email’s asynchronous communication would be good for her. Instead of calling, she could just send a note and know that she wasn’t interrupting anyone. She tried, but she struggled to learn it. She had stopped caring about technology long before that, and the leap to figure out how to use a computer was too great. Small choices not to engage with a new technology don’t matter much in the moment, but once you get a few steps down the road to disconnection, it can feel intimidating to try to plug back in.

Staying engaged with new technologies doesn’t have to be a burden. It might simply mean saying yes when a niece or nephew invites you play Minecraft or opening a TikTok account just to check it out. You don’t have to master every new app or tool, but being comfortable with new developments can help you ensure you don’t end up feeling helpless or blindsided when the tech you rely on every day changes.

I think a lot about something psychologist Alison Gopnik said when I interviewed her for the Joy Makeover a couple of years ago. She said that each new generation breaks paradigms and overturns old ways of doing things as a matter of course. This isn’t gratuitous — it’s how we move forward as a society.

Each generation of kids will remake the world, and from this we’ll gain all kinds of new discoveries. So as we age, we have a choice: we can either cling to the world as we shaped it and refuse to engage in the new world our kids’ and grandkids’ generations are creating, or we can adapt to their world and remain curious, active participants in it.

This to me is at the heart of aging joyfully. Our goal shouldn’t be to cling to youth as we get older, but to keep our joy alive by tending our inner child throughout our days while also nurturing our connection to the changing world. In doing so, we balance wisdom with wonder, confidence with curiosity and depth with delight.

By:

Source: Aging is inevitable, so why not do it joyfully? Here’s how |

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References

“Does Human Life Span Really Have a Limit?”. WebMD. 28 June 2018.

How To Integrate Well-Being Into Work So Employees Perform And Feel Their Best

While executives have long recognized that well-being is important, the COVID-19 pandemic brought home how significant it really is. Organizations suddenly found themselves called upon to prioritize workers’ physical and mental well-being as a matter of survival, as protecting their health and alleviating their stress became critical to operations. Work and life, health, safety, and well-being became inseparable.

Even before COVID-19, though, well-being was rising on the organizational agenda. In fact, well-being was the top-ranked trend in Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends study, with 80% of nearly 9,000 survey respondents identifying it as important or very important to their organization’s success.

Shifting realities: COVID crisis casts a new light on the importance of well-being

Against that backdrop, when COVID-19 took hold, the crisis cast new light on the importance of well-being and made us acutely aware of the consequences when well-being is put at risk. Many organizations took quick action to redirect resources toward making work safe and keeping workers healthy, for example by moving workers into remote work arrangements, implementing testing and contact tracing strategies for on-site workers, and establishing new programs for emergency medical leave, childcare and eldercare support, and physical, mental, and financial health.

As the pandemic went on, well-being remained paramount in many organizational leaders’ minds. Conversations about the toll of social isolation and economic recession on workers’ mental and emotional health entered the public dialogue and keeping workers physically healthy and safe continued to be a top priority.

Workers prioritize transforming work for well-being more highly than executives

Even so, there is a continuing disconnect between employers and workers when it comes to prioritizing well-being. When asked, “What are the most important outcomes you hope to achieve in your work transformation efforts in the next one to three years?” respondents cited improving quality, increasing innovation, and improving worker well-being. But improving well-being was the second-to-last outcome identified by executives.

HR executives were slightly more deliberate than non-HR executives about focusing on well-being as an important outcome, with 20% of HR executives selecting it as a priority, compared with 15% of non-HR executives. But designing well-being into work cannot be done by HR alone. The incorporation of well-being into work must be done symphonically, championed by leaders at every level and in every function if it is to make a meaningful difference.

Organizations can take a variety of actions to integrate well-being into work

Organizations looking to build well-being into work should consider actions, policies, and mandates at three levels – individual, team and organizational. And they should take into account five environments in which they’re designing work, including, cultural, relational, operational, physical, and virtual. For example, here are a few actions leaders can take:

At the organizational level:

  • Form teams based on worker preferences, working styles and personal needs
  • Embed well-being criteria in work scheduling, performance management processes, leadership evaluations and rewards and recognition programs
  • Design work environments to support workers’ physical, mental and emotional health needs

At the team level:

  • Model well-being behaviors such as taking micro-breaks or making only certain meetings video-based
  • Enable team agency and choice by allowing teams to adopt well-being practices best suited to their needs
  • Leverage physical workspaces that promote team collaboration and performance
  • Use new technologies, like virtual reality, to train team members to navigate stressful situations (e.g., interacting with a frustrated customer)

At the individual level, people should also take ownership over their well-being by being proactive and vocal about their well-being needs, checking in more frequently with colleagues and leveraging wearable technologies and apps to help master distractions, increase mindfulness and reduce anxiety.

The design of well-being into work is a practice that must be developed, strengthened and flexed over time to be effective. As work itself changes at a rapid pace, the ways that an organization supports individual and team well-being must adapt in tandem. It’s no longer about achieving work-life balance. The pandemic has shown us that well-being is not about balancing work with life but integrating them.

When an organization is able to successfully design well-being into work, well-being becomes indistinguishable from work itself, embedded across all organizational levels and environments to drive and sustain not only human performance but also human potential.

Erica Volini is the Global Human Capital leader for Deloitte Consulting. Throughout her career, she has worked with some of the world’s leading organizations to link…

Jen Fisher is leading voice on workplace well-being and creating human-centered organizational cultures. She frequently speaks and writes about building a culture of well-being at work and hosts WorkWell, a podcast series on the latest work-life trends. Jen currently serves as Deloitte’s chief well-being officer in the United States, where she drives the strategy and innovation around work-life, health, and wellness. In her role, she empowers Deloitte’s people to prioritize their well-being so they can be at their best in both their professional and personal lives. Jen is a healthy lifestyle enthusiast and seeks to infuse aspects of wellness in everything she does. She believes self-care is a daily pursuit and considers herself an exercise fanatic, sleep advocate, and book nerd! As a breast cancer survivor, she is passionate about advocating for women’s health and sharing her recovery journey. Jen lives in Miami with her husband, Albert and dog, Fiona

Source: How To Integrate Well-Being Into Work So Employees Perform And Feel Their Best

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What Happens When You Work From Bed For A Year

(Credit: Alamy)

For many people, working from home, or ‘WFH’, has also come to mean ‘WFB’ – working from bed. Getting dressed and commuting to an office has been replaced by splashing water on your face and cracking open a computer as you settle back under your blanket.

A staggering number of people are setting up shop on their mattresses; according to a November 2020 study, 72% of 1,000 Americans surveyed said they had worked remotely from their bed during the pandemic – a 50% increase since the start of the crisis. One in 10 reported they spent “most or all of their workweek” – 24-to-40 hours or more – in bed. This is especially true of young workers; in the UK, workers aged 18 to 34 are the least likely to have a proper desk and chair, and are twice as likely to work from bed than older workers.

But WFB isn’t just for lack of a proper chair – many simply love the cosiness and ease of the set-up. On Instagram, the #WorkFromBed hashtag pulls up thousands of photos, many of them featuring smiling people snuggled up in their pyjamas with cups of coffee, maybe even breakfast on a tray.

But the reality is that turning your bed into your office can trigger a slew of health problems, both psychological and physical. And even if you don’t notice them now, adverse effects – possibly permanent – could emerge later on in life.

Studying and doing homework from bed is bad, too, and working on a bed while lying on your stomach can be especially bad for your body (Credit: Alamy)

Ergonomic nightmare

It’s important to acknowledge that working from home is a privilege that isn’t afforded to hundreds of millions of people. Plus, for some remote workers, space for a full workstation just isn’t available, meaning working from bed may be their only choice.

Still, for others, it’s the easiest option and the path of least resistance. (Motivation is an all-time low during the pandemic, after all.) People may have a desk or a kitchen table to place their computer on – they just choose not to.

Young people are particularly likely to fall victim to these bad habits, because they may not feel the strain of them right away

But experts say that regardless of whether working from bed is avoidable or not, the ergonomic advice is the same: it’s not good for your body, so it’s very important to vary your posture and support different parts of your body wherever possible.

Your neck, back, hips and more are all strained when you’re on a soft surface that encourages you to slump or sprawl. “None of it is optimal,” says Susan Hallbeck, director of health-care-system engineering at the Mayo Clinic, one of the largest medical research institutions in the US. “You’re really not supported in a way that’s conducive to work.”

Young people, she points out, are particularly likely to fall victim to these bad habits, because they may not feel the strain of them right away. But the pain will flare up down the road. And depending on how bad your habits have been over this last year, the damage may already be done. It depends on the person, but it may be too late to undo the ergonomic problems you’ll face when you get older.

These ailments could include simple headaches, and could also extend to permanent stiffness in your back, arthritis and what’s known as cervical pain – that’s pain in the bones, ligaments and muscles in your neck that allow motion. “Anything is better than continuing the bad habit. Whenever you can stop, stop,” says Hallbeck.

If you must continue working from bed (“there are grades of bad,” says Hallbeck), try recreating the experience of sitting in an upright chair as much as you can, and aim for “neutral posture” – that is, avoid putting strain on any one part of your body.

Roll up a pillow and stick it under your lower back for lumbar support, put pillows under your knees, try to separate the display from your keyboard (if you’re able) and put the display at eye level or higher. Whatever you do, avoid lying on your stomach to type; it really strains your neck and elbows.

When in doubt, get creative, like using an ironing board as a makeshift standing desk. But if you possibly can, it’s worth splashing out on some comfort. “If you’re going to be working from home for a long time” – and most experts predict that we will – “it really does pay to invest in a good workstation, even if it’s a very small workstation,” adds Hallbeck.

Breaking your brain

When you work from bed for a year, it doesn’t just potentially wreck your body. It’s possibly bad for your productivity and sleep habits, too.

“As sleep specialists, we tend to recommend that the bed should be for the three Ss: sleeping, for sex or for when you’re sick. That’s it,” says Rachel Salas, associate professor of neurology and sleep expert at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.

“The more you watch TV in bed, play video games in bed and not sleep in bed, your brain starts learning, ‘oh, OK, we can do any one of these activities in bed’. It starts building these associations, which eventually evolve into conditioned behaviours.”

Not only does working from your bed spell potential ergonomic disaster, but it can rewire your brain to disassociate your bed with sleep (Credit: Alamy)

Not only does working from your bed spell potential ergonomic disaster, but it can rewire your brain to disassociate your bed with sleep (Credit: Alamy)

This is what experts call ‘sleep hygiene’ – essentially, best practice as it relates to being in bed. Putting on your pyjamas at night is good sleep hygiene because it tells your body it’s time to start shutting down. Doomscrolling or sending emails in bed is bad sleep hygiene.

So, when you set up shop in bed with your laptop, phone, Slack and all the glowing screens your job requires every day, your brain and body eventually stop associating bed with rest. That’s a big reason why the pandemic has led to ‘coronasomnia’, says Salas, referring to the global spike in insomnia and sleep disorders that has accompanied Covid-19.

“You’re really training your brain to be alert, and [telling it] this is where your ideas come and this is where it’s full work mode” when you WFB, adds Salas. “When you’re trying to wind down and go to sleep, your brain is like – ‘wait a minute, what are we doing? This is work time’.”

Doing this for a year, or any extended period of time, could lead to insomnia, or to something called circadian rhythm disorder. That’s when our bodies’ natural clocks, that tell us when it’s time to sleep, get thrown out of whack in the long term. Salas says it can also aggravate non-sleep-related issues you may have, like restless leg syndrome, in which case the affected body parts need rest to avoid the symptoms associated with the condition.

And disturbed nights, body pain or both mean that work-wise, you’re less likely to be productive, creative or focused, the experts say, making it likely your work could suffer.

A problem for everyone?

The most pernicious issue, however, is that all those potential problems may show up in some WFB workers, but not in others.

“Some people will swear that it’s not an issue for them: they can work in bed, they can sleep in bed,” says Salas. “They can do whatever they want in bed and it doesn’t negatively affect their sleep.”

Genetics, environmental factors, how bad the habits are and how long you do them, your age: all of these play a role in whether working from bed for a year or longer is actually going to be bad for you. “It’s not a dose-response relationship,” says Hallbeck.

And although working from bed may not necessarily be something you can change – or want to change – it’s important to keep in mind that your body and brain may not feel the fallout at the moment. But they could, someday. “They won’t feel it right now,” says Hallbeck, especially of younger workers who WFB. “But as they age, it will pop up.”

It may feel like one more thing to worry about in the Covid-19 era. But if this period has taught us anything, it’s that, as far as health goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. “If you don’t have any of the negative effects, great,”says Salas. “But that might not always be the case.”

Source: What happens when you work from bed for a year – BBC Worklife

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