Colour Psychology: How To Use Colour To Boost Your Mood

It’s easy to feel down when it’s dark and cold outside but there are lots of ways you can bring colour into your life. Here, an expert explains how to use colour psychology to help boost your mood.

Colours can also help us express and understand emotions, making them a powerful communication tool. This is a discovery people have made on TikTok recently. Creators have been taking to the platform to explain the meaning of each colour and how it can help them understand themselves and the people around them better, with the tag #colourpsychology reaching over 4 million views.

As we head into the autumn and winter months and the nights get darker, many people will find this negatively impacts their mood. But although the skies might not be blue, there are plenty of ways you can bring more colour into your life and use it to help improve your mindset.

In fact, you can even use colour as a self-help method. Karen Haller, a behavioural colour psychologist, has spent years researching this and has found an array of methods to help you do so. Although it’s not necessarily as simple as TikTok would have you think.

“Colour psychology is a study of how we can use colour to positively influence how we think, feel and behave,” Karen says. “It’s one of the most underestimated resources we have to change how we act.”

“When you decide whether or not you like a colour, that’s an emotional experience,” Karen says. “It makes you feel something, even if you’re not consciously aware of it.”

Building a personal relationship with colour psychology is an ongoing process but there are a few things you can do to start to use colour to positively influence your life, and maybe even help you deal with issues like self-doubt and social anxiety.

What is the meaning behind each colour?

Karen explains that each colour has a traditional psychological meaning. However this can vary depending on the shade of the colour, so it’s not necessarily important to learn them all. It can be useful to understand what the primary colours represent, though.

“Each colour has positive and adverse effects,” Karen says, explaining that both of these things need to be taken into account when you’re thinking about how to use these colours to your benefit.

Red

“Red is a very physical colour. Red physically stimulates us – it encourages motivation and energy,” Karen explains. “Because of this, however, red can also cause overwhelm, as it represents speed, and it can sometimes make you feel like you are moving too quickly.”

Yellow

“Yellow has a direct effect on the nervous system. Yellow is an optimistic colour that encourages positivity,” Karen says. “However, the adverse effects are that yellow can be quite irritating and anxiety-inducing.”

Blue

“Blue is the colour that aligns with the mind. Dark blue is mentally stimulating and it can help with focus; soft blue is a colour that allows your mind to dream,” Karen explains. “Often, blue can keep the mind overly-stimulated, which is something to look out for as an adverse effect.”

How to figure out which colours work for you

Although there are traditional meanings that can be assigned to each colour, as people do on TikTok, Karen explains that colours are actually very personal, and the colours that help you feel better will be different to the colours that help a friend or family member feel good.

Karen recommends going through your wardrobe and pulling out clothes in an array of colours and then holding each of them up to your face, in order to figure out what your relationship is with each colour. “Without any make-up on, stand in front of a mirror and hold the different colours up to your face,” Karen says. “Take note of what happens to your face – does it light up or does it create shadows?”

If you know one colour suits your complexion, you can use this to compare to the other colours. This method isn’t only about your appearance, however. Consider how your facial expressions and other reactions differ with each colour, as this will help you to understand how you connect with different colours.

How to establish an emotional connection with colour

You’re constantly coming into contact with different colours in your day-to-day life and it’s not possible to consciously understand your reaction to every single one of them. But in order to become more in touch with your relationship with colours, Karen recommends keeping a diary for a period of a week to take note of how you respond to any colours that stand out to you or that you have to make decisions about.

“Write down what you are wearing each day and how the colours in your outfit make you feel,” she explains. “You should also take note of other decisions about colour you make, like choosing a red glass instead of a yellow glass.”

You don’t have to acknowledge your decisions in this way for very long but by doing so for a short period of time, you’ll come to better understand your relationships with specific colours, which will help you make better colour decisions in the future.

How to incorporate colour psychology into your life moving forward

Once you have established your relationship with particular colours, you can start to incorporate them into your life more, whether that’s through decorating your home with them or buying clothes in that colour. You can then also follow the same process Karen explains above to figure out which colour combinations work for you.

“The most important thing is that you think consciously about the decisions you make about colour,” Karen says, adding that by making intentional decisions, you will become more conscious of which colours you like and dislike, which will help keep you in touch with your emotions.

By:

Source: Colour psychology: how to use colour to boost your mood

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How Digital Makes Banks Flexible, Responsive And Intimate

While making digital the main channel of customer engagement, banks are also looking to move beyond business as usual, says Amit Anand, a Vice President in Cognizant Consulting’s Banking and Financial Services.

COVID-19 made online channels indispensable for bank customers, including those who preferred in-person banking. This accelerated their digital strategies and created an opportunity to go beyond the basics and become partners in their customers’ pursuit of financial wellness.

As banks bet big on digital, they are looking at technologies such as AI, advanced analytics, and automation to provide personalization, prediction and speed in creating powerful customer experiences. Banks are also increasingly relying on machines to automate repetitive tasks and make complex decisions, creating demand for human skillsets that complement intelligent machines.

Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work (CFoW), working with Oxford Economics, recently surveyed 4,000 C-level executives globally, including 287 senior banking and financial services executives to understand how banks are adapting to fast and dramatic changes.

The earliest forms of digital banking trace back to the advent of ATMs and cards launched in the 1960s. As the internet emerged in the 1980s with early broadband, digital networks began to connect retailers with suppliers and consumers to develop needs for early online catalogues and inventory software systems.

By the 1990s the Internet became widely available and online banking started becoming the norm. The improvement of broadband and ecommerce systems in the early 2000s led to what resembled the modern digital banking world today. The proliferation of smartphones through the next decade opened the door for transactions on the go beyond ATM machines. Over 60% of consumers now use their smartphones as the preferred method for digital banking.

The challenge for banks is now to facilitate demands that connect vendors with money through channels determined by the consumer. This dynamic shapes the basis of customer satisfaction, which can be nurtured with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Therefore, CRM must be integrated into a digital banking system, since it provides means for banks to directly communicate with their customers.

There is a demand for end-to-end consistency and for services, optimized on convenience and user experience. The market provides cross platform front ends, enabling purchase decisions based on available technology such as mobile devices, with a desktop or Smart TV at home. In order for banks to meet consumer demands, they need to keep focusing on improving digital technology that provides agility, scalability and efficiency.

Seven Ways to Capitalize on Digital

  1. Institute front-to-back digitization. Banks can effectively compete with fintech competitors by becoming digital institutions.
  2. Explore new customer segments and business paradigms. Digital makes it easier than ever for banks to explore small business segments, even as they pursue existing markets.
  3. Emphasize platform centricity and smart aggregation. Open banking standards can help banks to provide personalized products to customers in collaboration with third-party providers and fintechs.
  4. Invest in personalizing the customer relationship. Banks should use personalized experiences to make customers’ lives as frictionless as possible.
  5. Focus on re-building trust and resiliency. Banks need to eliminate any biases in decisions made by machines.
  6. Enshrine inclusivity into your digital strategy. Banks should use digital to reach customers who are left out by being physically and cognitively challenged.
  7. Balance machine-driven and human-centric work. Create sturdy human-machine collaboration by reevaluating jobs for a shared environment.

For more, read our paper “The Work Ahead in Banking: The Digital Road to Financial Wellness”.

Amit Anand is Vice President and North American Practice Leader for Cognizant Consulting’s Banking and Financial Services. Amit has 20 years of experience with firms such as Accenture, Infosys and Cognizant. He has successfully led and managed large business transformation, digital and IT transformation, and associated organizational change management for several financial services clients. Amit is a recognized thought leader with more than 15 publications on topics such as Open Banking, Digital 2.0 and new-age operating models. He can be reached at Amit.Anand@cognizant.com

Manish Bahl leads the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. A respected speaker and thinker, Manish has guided many Fortune 500 companies into the future of their business with his thought-provoking research and advisory skills. Within Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, he helps ensure that the unit’s original research and analysis jibes with emerging business-technology trends and dynamics in APAC, and collaborates with a wide range of leading thinkers to understand and predict how the future of work will take shape. He most recently served as Vice President, Country Manager with Forrester Research in India. He can be reached at Manish.Bahl@cognizant.com

Source: How Digital Makes Banks Flexible, Responsive And Intimate

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Neuroscientist: Do These 6 Exercises Everyday To Build Resilience and Mental Strength

When I first began researching anxiety in my lab as a neuroscientist, I never thought of myself as an anxious person. That is, until I started noticing the words used by my subjects, colleagues, friends and even myself to describe how we were feeling — “worried,” “on edge,” stressed out,” “distracted,” “nervous,” “ready to give up.”

But what I’ve found over the years is that the most powerful way to combat anxiety is to consistently work on building your resilience and mental strength. Along the way, you’ll learn to appreciate or even welcome certain kinds of mistakes for all the new information they bring you.

Here are six daily exercises I use to build my resilience and mental strength:

1. Visualize positive outcomes

At the beginning or at the end of each day, think through all those uncertain situations currently in your life — both big and small. Will I get a good performance review? Will my kid settle well in his new school? Will I hear back after my job interview?

Now take each of those and visualize the most optimistic and amazing outcome to the situation. Not just the “okay” outcome, but the best possible one you could imagine.

This isn’t to set you up for an even bigger disappointment if you don’t end up getting the job offer. Instead, it should build the muscle of expecting the positive outcome and might even open up ideas for what more you might do to create that outcome of your dreams.

2. Turn anxiety into progress

Our brain’s plasticity is what enables us to be resilient during challenging times — to learn how to calm down, reassess situations, reframe our thoughts and make smarter decisions.

And it’s easier to take advantage of this when we remind ourselves that anxiety doesn’t always have to be bad. Consider the below:

  • Anger could block your attention and ability to perform, OR it could fuel and motivate you; sharpen your attention; and serve as a reminder of what’s important.
  • Fear could trigger memories of past failures; rob your attention and focus; and undermine your performance, OR it could make you more careful about your decisions; deepen your reflection; and create opportunities for changing direction.
  • Sadness could flatten out your mood and demotivate you, OR it could help you reprioritize and motivate you to change your environment, circumstances and behavior.
  • Worry could make you procrastinate and get in the way of accomplishing goals, OR it could help you fine-tune your plans; adjust your expectations; and become more realistic and goal-oriented.
  • Frustration could stymie your progress and steal your motivation, OR it could innervate and challenge you to do more or better.

These comparisons may seem simplistic, but they point to powerful choices that produce tangible outcomes.

3. Try something new

These days, it’s easier than ever to take a new online class, join a local sports club or participate in a virtual event.

Not too long ago, I joined Wimbledon champ Venus Williams in an Instagram Live workout, where she was using Prosecco bottles as her weights. I’d never done something like that before. It turned out to be a fantastic and memorable experience.

My point is that for free (or only a small fee) you can push your brain and body to try something you never would have considered before. It doesn’t have to be a workout, and it doesn’t have to be hard — it can be something right above your level or just slightly outside of your comfort zone.

4. Reach out

Being able to ask for help, staying connected to friends and family, and actively nurturing supportive, encouraging relationships not only enables you to keep anxiety at bay, but also shores up the sense that you’re not alone.

It isn’t easy to cultivate, but the belief and feeling that you are surrounded by people who care about you is crucial during times of enormous stress — when you need to fall back on your own resilience in order to persevere and maintain your well-being.

When we are suffering from loss or other forms of distress, it’s natural to withdraw. We even see this kind of behavior in animals who are mourning. Yet you also have the power to push yourself into the loving embrace of those who can help take care of you.

5. Practice positive self-tweeting

Lin-Manual Miranda published a book about the tweets he sends out at the beginning and end of each day. In it, he shares what are essentially upbeat little messages that are funny, singsongy and generally delightful.

If you watch him in his interviews, you’ll see an inherently mentally strong and optimistic person. How do you get to be that resilient, productive and creative?

Clearly, part of the answer is coming up with positive reminders. You don’t necessarily need to share them with the public. The idea is to boost yourself up at the beginning and at the end of the day.

This can be difficult for those of us who automatically beat ourselves up at the drop of a hat. Instead, think about what your biggest supporter in life — a partner, sibling, friend, mentor or parent — would tell you, and then tweet or say it to yourself.

6. Immerse yourself in nature

Science has shown again and again that spending time in nature has positive effects on our mental health. A 2015 study, for example, found that it can significantly increased your emotional well-being and resilience.

You don’t need live next to a forest to immerse yourself in nature. A nearby park or any quiet environment with greenery where there aren’t that many people around will work just fine.

Breathe, relax and become aware of the sounds, smells and sights. Use all your senses to create a heightened awareness of the natural world. This exercise boosts your overall resilience as it acts as a kind of restoration of energy and reset to your equilibrium.

 

By: Wendy Suzuki, Contributor

 

Wendy Suzuki, PhD, is a neuroscientist and professor of Neural Science and Psychology in the Center for Neural Science at New York University. She is also the author of “Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion.” Follow her on Twitter @wasuzuki.

Source: Neuroscientist: Do these 6 exercises every day to build resilience and mental strength

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11 Self-Sabotaging Phrases To Drop From Your Vocabulary

Sometimes we say things to ourselves that aren’t in our self-interest. Calling yourself a loser or saying “I’m such an idiot” every time you make a mistake isn’t having a positive effect on your self-esteem (on the other hand, you should definitely try affirmations), but beyond the obviously negative self-talk, there are a host of things we say that hold us back more quietly.

While not as plainly negative as “I suck at everything,” these phrases sabotage us in a sneakier—but still damaging—way. Here are some words and phrases that work in the background to stealthily undermine us; things we’d be better off leaving behind when trying to reach our goals.

“I don’t have time”

Consider that it’s a misconception that we do or don’t “have time” for something, because we control what we prioritize. In actuality, we have time for things we make time for. Sometimes, “I don’t have time” can be a smokescreen for: “I don’t want to” or “I’m afraid.” When it comes to pursuing life goals, it’s easy to cite lack of time as a reason to not get started. But what if you dedicated just 10 or 20 minutes a day to start work on your next big goal?

“I don’t know how”

And where would we be if we only did things we knew how to do? Somewhere between Boringtown and Dead Inside-ville. It’s normal we don’t all know how to write a book proposal or run our own business. No one does when they first start. Instead of resting on the excuse that we don’t have some magical fount of necessary knowledge, we can get going on the what, and learn how as we go.

“I’m not ready”

This excuse is gold because it lets us off the hook. Most people will sympathize or corroborate our ironclad reasons for not taking action yet. The problem with “I’m not ready,” however, is that it assumes there is some magical time off in the future when we will be. But there isn’t.

Even if we earn more money, get more experience, or “settle down,” we still may not feel ready. Because it’s not really about those things, anyway. It’s about our relationship to fear, change, and the unknown. By all means, prepare before leaping. But if we spend spend too much time preparing, we may find ourselves in the same spot a year—or ten—from now.

“I’ll try”

In the words of the eternally wise Master Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda uttered these words when training a young Luke Skywalker out of his surly lack of belief in himself. The concept applies to us non-Jedi knights as well. The words “I’ll try” contain an implicit lack of commitment.

It’s more comfortable to say we’ll “try” to do something, but it’s much more productive when we pick a side and hold ourselves accountable for taking the actions necessary to do the thing we said we’d do.

“Maybe”

“Maybe” is a great word to keep us stuck in the comfortable malaise of indecision. To avoid committing to bringing that casserole to book club, “maybe” away. But when it comes to bigger ambitions, there’s no better way to stop us in our tracks than with a weak-ass maybe. Saying “maybe” to something is still making a choice—a choice that leaves us in limbo and pushes the same choice further down the road. What if we decided now?

“I should…”

The word “should” is made of judgment. It implies that something is the right thing to do, and if it isn’t done, there will likely be negative consequences. Instead of using “should,” replace it with “I will.” After declaring what we will do, we can enjoy the empowered feeling of making a choice from possibility, rather than fear.

“If it happens, it happens”

While this phrase can at times be useful as an exercise in letting go of the outcome after putting your heart and soul into something. As a standalone, it implies we have zero self-agency or impact on a given outcome. The things we want most don’t just “happen.” They require vision, commitment, and repeated action.

“But so-and-so really needs me”

It’s a wonderful thing to help others. But there is such a thing as giving so much as to put us in a perpetual martyr position where there is no time, resources, or bandwidth left to improve ourselves. Are there places in your life where you’re over-functioning for someone or something else? Commit to taking back some of that time for you.

“I’m not smart/talented/brave enough”

As the story goes, Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Where would we be today if he had internalized that feedback?

We all “lack” in some areas and are stronger in others. The good thing is, we don’t need to be champions of intellect, courage, financial prowess, and beauty to achieve things. Instead of comparing ourselves to others and despairing about our interpretation of the results, we can focus on what we know are our strengths. (P.S. Courage comes from practicing being brave. If we do little things we’re afraid of, our bravery muscle will grow.)

“Just my luck”

We might say it when there’s “crazy traffic” and we end up being late, but saying things are “just my luck” puts us solidly in the victim position, as if there’s nothing that can be done to change what “happens to” us.

Take the last thing that you were mad about. What could you have done differently to improve the outcome? Empowered change starts with taking full responsibility for our choices—and their consequences—both good and bad, rather than habitually blaming “bad luck.”

“If only…”

These two words often lead into a wish, hope, or a complaint. “If only I was younger.” “If only my rent were lower.” “If only I’d gone to a better college.” Phrases like these keep us in a state of fantasy and helplessness. They presume a certain set of conditions or circumstances that would perfectly set us up for a successful, happy life. (Recognizing this is impossible is actually quite freeing.)

Try shifting this statement into one of declarative action. “When I get my Master’s…” or “Tomorrow, I will…” and follow it up with one step you will take towards your goal.

Source: 11 Self-Sabotaging Phrases to Drop From Your Vocabulary

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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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What’s The Difference Between Sympathy & Empathy? Psychologists Explain

The suffix -pathy comes from the Greek word for “suffering,” pathos. The U.S. medical system is built around pathology, which simply means diagnosing suffering and treating disease. Similarly, mental health professionals find social connections critically important to the ways that people cope with and overcome suffering, grief, and trauma. Words like sympathy, empathy, and even apathy describe the nuanced differences between the very complex social connections and reactions humans display when we are suffering or when we witness others in pain.

While subtle behavioral differences might seem obvious to therapists, counselors, and psychologists, it’s not so easy for everyone else. So we spoke to Atlanta-based therapist Habiba Zaman, LPC, NCC, Pepperdine University professor of psychology Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D., and licensed clinical psychologist Bruce L. Thiessen, Ph.D., about simple ways to define sympathy and empathy—and their relationship to compassion.

Defining sympathy.

“Sympathy is when you understand someone else’s suffering and feel sorrow or pity for the experience they are facing,” Zaman explains. “It involves having a value judgment on someone else’s experience.”

While often well intentioned, this value-judgment-centered response often creates a palpable distance between the person in pain and the person who is listening. So, Zaman says, sympathy is often extended when a person doesn’t necessarily relate to, fully comprehend, or appreciate the circumstances of suffering facing someone they know or love.

“The emotion of sympathy is my experience of (reaction to) your situation. Sympathy lacks understanding,” Sultanoff adds. “When you are sympathetic, you get caught up in your own emotional reaction to how you are experiencing the world. This, for the most part, does not demonstrate any understanding of the person in distress.”

He notes that sympathy can create a barrier to understanding that can be activated because a sympathetic person may shift focus away from the person in distress to focus on themselves instead. Sympathy is the emotional reaction of the listener, who might say things like “I feel so sorry that this is happening to you,” or “I get so angry just listening to your story.” Other common ways it can show up are as pity (e.g., “I feel so bad for you”) or even as envy (e.g., “I’m sorry for your loss, but I sure wish I had as much time with my loved ones as you did”).

Defining empathy.

“When one expresses empathy, one draws upon personal experience, in relating to another person in the midst of a similar experience or hardship,” Thiessen explains. “An example of an empathetic statement might be, ‘I also have recently lost a loved one and know what it feels like to experience that deep sense of sorrow and grief.”

He says that this sense of commonality is a key differentiator between empathy and sympathy.

“Empathy is the ability to feel intimately and see the other person’s perspective. It is not just to understand what they are going through but rather, being able to walk in the other person’s shoes,” Zaman explains. “It is being able to say, ‘I am here to feel with you’ and let you know you are not alone.”

She adds that empathy is best defined by how the listener connects with the person in pain. Without judgment, an empathetic person would try to create and hold space for a person’s feelings and experiences. Empathy, which can be taught and honed over time, involves honoring how a person in pain sees their own situation, even if that is not how others might view it.

Understanding the key differences.

When it comes to understanding the key differences between empathy and sympathy, there are both internal and external factors to keep in mind. Sympathy and empathy are largely distinguished by external behavioral and performative aspects, which most people believe are a reflection of how the listener internally feels about the person who is suffering. Instead, the experts say that the difference is more about the relationship between the listener and the sufferer.

On the outside, sympathy often appears socially distant, like a one-off message of condolences, with no follow-up. Zaman says this is because sympathy lacks intimacy, but there may be situational reasons why that might be the case. In certain corporate settings or power structures, it might be appropriate to emotionally withhold to maintain decorum or to preserve group dynamics that extend beyond just the listener and the person in pain. Social dynamics and the appropriateness of displaying curiosity toward a person in pain might make a listener moderate their naturally emotive behavior.

“Sympathy is used in social situations where there isn’t an intimate connection between two people. It would be perfectly appropriate in a corporate environment to experience sympathy from coworkers or a boss. A card or flowers that share in acknowledging grief is perfectly acceptable and is expected in those environments because anything more could be perceived as inauthentic, unless that initial and genuine connection is there,” Zaman says.

Meanwhile, she says, that very same gesture of sending a card and flowers might be wholly inadequate for lifelong friends. Thus, the relationship and social context between the people involved is very important.

Also, no matter how close or distant the relationship, Sultanoff says that empathy is an internal experience of feeling caring, concern, and understanding toward another human being or living creature that is best shown through active and reflective listening.

“Responding by repeating back (but not parroting) what you heard from the other person, while especially attending to their feelings, demonstrates focus on the person and letting go of your own internal distractions,” he says.

In an attempt to be empathetic, a person who genuinely wants to help might share problem-solving advice, but Sultanoff says that this behavior does not necessarily show empathy for the other person’s immediate emotional state. In many ways, the difference between sympathy and empathy is the desire to understand the experience of a person who is suffering, not necessarily the drive to stop their suffering.

What about compassion?

“Both empathy and sympathy, when coming from a place of sincerity, are sensations and open expressions of compassion,” Thiessen says. After all, compassion, which simply means “to suffer together,” is an expression of caring and warmth.

He says that compassion from empathy typically comes from sharing similar experiences with another person, but compassion from sympathy can be just as useful. “For example, the act of researching the types of suffering experienced by an abused child might increase a person’s sympathy for abused children, regardless of whether or not the researching party had ever been a victim of child abuse,” offers Thiessen.

And this ability to extend emotions beyond one’s own personal experience is good because compassion allows humans to be motivated to alleviate harms they, personally, have never experienced.

“Expressions of compassion, be they in the form of empathy, or sympathy, or some palpable act of kindness, can be experienced as a healing balm on the psyche and the soul,” Thiessen says.

Moreover, that emotional inspiration can spark activism, philanthropy, or public advocacy in the service of moral causes that are far-reaching and socially impactful. In this way, actively cultivating compassion can allow an observer in one situation to be a force for change in many others.

The bottom line.

In the simplest of terms, empathy is an internal emotion that is directed outward toward another person, Sultanoff says. It demonstrates a true understanding of the other person, without any personal biases interfering with that understanding. Sympathy, however, is internally directed.

If you are watching someone in mourning or grief, empathy is focused on understanding the person in pain, while sympathy is focused on your reaction to watching that person deal with their pain. “From a mental health perspective, empathy is very healing, and sympathy is not,” Sultanoff says.

“Generally, it feels better to be the recipient of empathy than simply sympathy, because it allows for a point of connection and intimacy. Also, an expression of sympathy may be more difficult to trust unless it is coming from a genuine relationship and a place of genuine concern,” Thiessen summarizes.

All that said, both feelings can serve socially positivity purposes when tied with compassion and action.

Nafeesah Allen, Ph.D.

By :  Nafeesah Allen, Ph.D.

Nafeesah Allen, Ph.D., is an American writer and independent researcher with a particular interest in migration, literature, gender identity, and diaspora studies within the global

Source: Sympathy vs. Empathy: The Key Differences & Social Uses

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How to Deal With Your Childhood Trauma As an Adult

Recovering from trauma is hard no matter when it happens. However, if adversity happens during childhood, it can be especially hard to overcome. Unlike adults, children have very little control over their environment. If a child is living in an abusive home, their ability to remove themselves from that environment is extremely limited, whereas an adult will usually have more emotional and financial resources with which to escape.

Meanwhile, children are still learning what healthy relationships look like, as well as how to cope with difficult situations. If a child is growing up in a household where abusive behavior is the norm, this can skew their understanding of what is and is not acceptable within a relationship. Even when the trauma is unavoidable, such as a death in the family or a major illness of a family member, children are still developing their coping skills, which makes it that much harder for them to process what has happened.

So how can adults who experienced adversity in childhood process and deal with that trauma now that they’re grown?

How to measure your childhood trauma

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) quiz, is a measure of childhood trauma. The test itself is short—only ten questions—and asks about family adversity growing up, including physical or sexual abuse, neglect, and about family members with mental health struggles or substance abuse.

The higher the score, the more likely a person is to develop chronic health issues during adulthood, such as anxiety, depression, diabetes, asthma, cancer, obesity, coronary heart disease, and substance abuse. People who score a 4 or higher have a significantly higher risk than those who didn’t experience childhood adversity.

If you do have a high ACE score, knowing that these early experiences can have a negative impact on your health and well-being as an adult can be quite discouraging. However, it’s really important to remember that your ACE score is only an indicator of what you went through, not a guarantee of what your future will look like.

“Just because a person has experienced several ACEs, that doesn’t necessarily mean later problems are inevitable, that just makes them predisposed,” said Genevieve Rivera, executive director of the American SPCC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating parents and preventing child abuse. “We do have strategies, practices, tools, and routines that can help us to rewire our brains and our bodies.”

Start by seeking out professional help

“If you have a trauma history, if you have experienced childhood adversity, what you can do is get connected with support ahead of time,” said Melissa Goldberg-Mintz, a clinical psychologist and founder of Secure Base Psychology, PLLC. “That’s something you can do preventively.”

For people with high ACE scores, there is a strong probability they will develop issues such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, anger, and suicidal impulses. That is why it is essential to be proactive about seeking the mental healthcare you need. “It’s really important to have a professional in your corner to help guide you through,” Rivera said.

Seeking help is often the first, most essential step for working through the lingering effects of childhood adversity, and it can serve as a foundation for establishing a healthy, functional life.

Learn to recognize and develop healthy relationships

“Connection is the best medicine we have,” Goldberg-Mintz said. If a child going through adversity also experiences a warm, loving relationship—whether it’s a parent, grandparent, or caregiver—this will often provide a protective buffer against developing issues later in life. “The single best way we know how to deal with emotional pain is through connecting with people we feel securely attached to,” she said.

Adults who didn’t experience a loving relationship as children, however, can still work on developing healthy relationships later in life, which can help stave off some of these outcomes. Humans are social creatures. We crave connection, and if we don’t get it, our mental and physical health can suffer. Developing an understanding of what healthy relationships look like, and what the boundaries and expectations in those relationships should be, is key.

Make your physical and emotional well-being a priority

Given that childhood adversity can result in a number of chronic health issues later in life, whether physical or mental, it’s important to focus on caring for your physical and emotional well-being.

“You want to make sure your basic needs are being met,” Goldberg-Mintz said. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, and connecting with others. “If you’re not getting your basic needs met, you are going to be more vulnerable to these bad outcomes.”

This can be challenging, especially because conditions like depression and anxiety make getting enough sleep or exercise especially difficult, the more you can focus on your own physical and mental well-being, the better.

Strengthen your resiliency

Resilience is the capacity to recover from adversity quickly. Some children who experience adversity are able to develop resilience, while others have a harder time. “Research shows that even just one supportive parental figure in a child’s life goes a long way toward helping them build this resilience,” Rivera said.

However, for those who struggled to build resilience during childhood, it’s still possible to develop these skills as an adult—and that goes back to seeking professional help and focusing on building those healthy relationships. Resiliency has a way of developing naturally when we do those things.

“We all have resiliency inside us, but we have to work on building it,” Rivera said. “Research has actually shown that our bodies experience a positive biological response when we’re surrounded by healthy relationships.”

Source: How to Deal With Your Childhood Trauma As an Adult

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Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy on How to Find Power and Confidence in a Crisis

In times of crisis, don’t look to the past or the future for answers. That’s according to social psychologist and behavioral science expert Amy Cuddy. The Harvard University lecturer and author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges explained in a virtual keynote to Inc. 5000 honorees this week that productivity-sapping emotions such as anxiety, dread, and distraction come from thinking too much about the past and future.

Staying present, Cuddy explains, can help you approach difficult situations with composure and find solutions with confidence. “It’s the power to bring yourself forward to express your most confident, competent, trustworthy, decent, awesome self in stressful situations,” Cuddy says. “It is the ability to control your own states, your own behaviors, and, to some extent, your own outcomes.”

Here are three of Cuddy’s tips for how to make the most of a bad situation.

View challenges as opportunities.

When presented with a challenge, Cuddy advises reframing the situation. If you feel nervous to approach someone, for example, think of them as a collaborator or an ally, rather than as a competitor. Changing viewpoints can make you feel more in control of coming up with a solution to your problems.

“When we feel powerful, it leads us to act,” Cuddy says. “When we feel powerless, we don’t act.”

Don’t fake it until you make it.

Faking it until you make it works in some situations, but not when it comes to relationships. The best relationships are built on trust and authenticity–not on overstating your abilities.

“Unfortunately, we often make the mistake in work situations of showing off our skills and our strengths before showing that we are trustworthy,” Cuddy says. “When we neglect that piece, this other piece–the strength, the competence, the skills–they just don’t matter, especially for leaders who really need to inspire people to do their best work.”

Avoid panicing at all costs.

When presented with something that makes you panic, Cuddy advises business owners to think of a time when you felt your best, whether it was finishing your first successful fundraising meeting, landing your biggest client, or even at a personal event such as a wedding. By contrasting the panic with a good feeling, it can help you reset your approach to the situation and feel more present.

“When we feel present, we’re not doubting who we are [and] we believe in ourselves,” Cuddy says. “And when we believe in ourselves, we believe in what we’re selling.”

Source: Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy on How to Find Power and Confidence in a Crisis | Inc.com

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Avoid These 5 Phrases That Make You Sound ‘Passive Aggressive’: Body Language Expert

Today, we live in a world where business, degrees and even entire relationships are conducted behind a screen. As a result, employee frustration and miscommunication is at an all-time high, with tone alone being misinterpreted almost half of the time in email, leading to endless wasted hours and heightened anxiety.

For better or worse, digital communication, whether it’s through email or direct messages on platforms like Slack, don’t let us see each other’s immediate reactions — which is why we look for ways to “politely” express irritation. The key word is “politely,” but it isn’t always interpreted that way.

So let’s take a look at the five most common phrases employees use that actually make them passive aggressive and petty:

1. “Per my last email…”

What it actually means: “You didn’t really read what I wrote. Pay attention this time!”

2. “For future reference…”

What it actually means: “Let me correct your blatant ‘mistake’ that you already knew was wrong.”

3. “Bumping this to the top of your inbox…”

What it actually means: “You’re my boss [or employee]. This is the third time I’ve asked you. I need you to get this s*** done.”

4. “Just to be sure we’re on the same page…”

What this actually means: “I’m going to cover my a** here and make sure that everyone who refers to this email in the future knows that I was right all along.”

5. “Going forward…”

What it actually means: “Do not ever do that again.”

It’s likely that you’ve used one of these phrases before without even realizing that it could be perceived as passive aggressive. Or, you may have been on the receiving end, which can also be frustrating.

(Even as a digital body language researcher, whenever I see “Thanks for your patience” in an email, I can’t decide if they’re brushing me off with an undefined future date, or if they really only need a few days longer than expected to get back to me. In most cases, though, I know they’re just saying “Sorry I’m late with this; it’s taking longer than I thought.” That’s all.)

The right way to express what you mean

So how should we frame our own “Just following up on this” without engaging in any passive aggressiveness? When is it okay to loop in our boss without seeming like a jerk? When do we use the phone to call and clarify something?

Here are four things successful communicators do:

1. Don’t respond to messages or emails when you’re angry or frustrated.

This prevents miscommunication, wasted time and regret. If you feel emotionally hijacked, save your email message as a draft and revise and send it when you’re in a better mood.

2. Assume good intent.

Instead of calling someone out for screwing up, step into their shoes and ask yourself, “What are some reasons why they might have made this mistake?”

It’s better to people exactly what they need to take action. Sometimes just adding a quick brief so that they don’t have to go back and read through previous emails and writing “Here’s what I need from you” or “Here are the open dates again” is helpful.

3. Show empathy and encouragement.

Replace imperative words like “Do this” with conditional phrases like “Could you do this?” When delivering feedback, begin your message by expressing appreciation using words like “Thank you for [X]” or “Excellent job on [X].”

If your boss, or even a client, sends you a passive aggressive email, fight that urge to send an even more petty reply. Lowering your actions down to their level will only escalate the tension and increase anxiety.

4. Avoid digital ghosting.

Need to get back to someone? Here’s a quick guide to remember:

  • If you can answer in 60 seconds or less: Respond immediately.
  • If it’s urgent: Respond immediately or let the sender know you are working on it. Make an appointment with yourself on your calendar if you need to.
  • If it’s a matter lacking urgency: Don’t stress; block out time to follow up after at your convenience.
  • If you’re the one waiting for a response: Unless it’s critical that you get a reply ASAP, remember that people may have a lot on their plates. If you follow up twice and don’t get a reply, switch to a different medium (e.g. a phone call).

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By: Erica Dhawan, Contributor

Erica Dhawan is a leadership expert, keynote speaker and author of “Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance.” She is also the founder and CEO of Cotential, a company that has helped leaders and teams leverage collaboration skills globally. Her writing has appeared in publications, including Fast Company and Harvard Business Review. Follow her on Twitter @ericadhawan.

Source: Avoid these 5 phrases that make you sound ‘passive aggressive’: Body language expert

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These 5 Words Will Open Thousands of Doors For You

Every person is a world. Life at work, in business and even in the family is full of complex relationships, where each person has their own agenda, their own history and particular dimensions.

As we have seen previously, the projects that go ahead are not always the best; And those people who are right are not the ones who win the discussions, because the most important element in a communication process is not the content or the technique but, above all, the relationship and connection.

To be completely clear: your success doesn’t just depend on your talents or your ideas; Above all, it depends on you knowing how to forge relationships . Talent and ideas are necessary, but the relationships you form along the way give them direction, direction, power and dimension.

However, in the process of making our projects come true; be it our own businesses or projects in our company, we constantly find:

  • Closed doors.
  • People in high positions or unreachable.
  • Inaccessible uncomfortable people.
  • Adversaries or people who do not want us to do well.
  • People we would like to address, but we don’t know how.

How can we break down social and personal barriers to build bridges with people who can be part of our path?

A powerful phrase

The answer lies in this magical phrase that took me years to discover, and that today I am happy to share with you, hoping it will be useful to you. Remember that with great power comes great responsibility .

The opener phrase is this: Can I ask you for advice?

“Can I ask you for advice?” It is a simple and short phrase; easy to say, remember and repeat. It is a phrase that can be used constantly without losing its validity and, above all, has behind it the power of science to open the doors that until then were closed.

I have used it at different times where it seems to me to be in a dead end; where I lack answers or in which I feel that I need to form a closer relationship with a colleague, a superior, a subordinate and, even, someone who perceives me as his enemy.

After using it for a couple of years – with excellent results – I started recommending it to other people, who also reported their own success stories. Now I am sure that this is one of the most useful phrases in my professional life … and that it can also be in yours.

It is not about magic, but about communication and science. How does it work?

1. The Ben Franklin effect

The Ben Franklin effect is a known psychological effect to change the perception that others have of us by allowing them to do us a favor.

Yes, you heard right: let them do you a favor; not you to them.

It is, at first glance, counterintuitive. We may think that, to please, we must “do” favors, but it turns out that when others do us favors, it is proven that their perception of us improves, since considering ourselves worthy of their time and attention forces them to see ourselves in a more favorable light , as valuable and kind people.

They must be favors that are not heavy, annoying or expensive. For example, asking a colleague for a ride or letting him buy us a coffee… and simply thanking him, without making him feel bad and without seeking to pay him immediately. Receive a favor … and thank you! opens more doors than applause and flattery.

2. An elegant compliment

When asking for advice, the Ben Franklin effect is activated; But that is not all.

On the one hand, a tip is a favor or a service that costs nothing: it is free. Maybe they can deny you -for whatever reason- a ride or a coffee, but who can deny advice? Until now, for many years of using this phrase, I have never encountered someone who refuses to give advice that is asked with kindness and humility.

But there is still more! When it comes to asking for advice, we are asking for a favor as well as making a compliment. We are telling the other person that they are smart, that they are brilliant, that we respect them, and that their opinion is important . It is a gift to your own ego – a gift that no one will stop receiving. People, in general, like to be heard and taken into account.

That is why this phrase is magical. It seems like a favor, but it is also a gift.

3. Let the other shine

It can be personal advice, about work, about a project, or about an important decision. The key is to state the advice simply and clearly and then let the other speak, always respecting the 80/20 rule . When it comes to asking for advice, we are placing the conversation firmly on the other person’s court, letting them speak and express their own personality and history.

When you have asked for advice, do not make excuses or explanations. Answer the question they ask you, but soon return the voice to the other person.

A rule of life: everyone likes to talk about themselves. So it will also allow you to get to know him more and forge – without feeling forced – a real human relationship, one of friendship and trust. Without his realizing it … now they are part of the same team.

4. Peripatetic effect

When we ask another person for advice about something that interests us and we get them to be interested in it, it is possible that due to the effect of mirror neurons , which generate empathy and neural alignment between two people, both can find a solution to a real problem.

In this way, you will not only have strengthened the relationship, but you will also have a practical answer or tangible progress in your project. The best of all? The other person will feel that the idea was theirs – let them take all the credit! – and will defend and promote it with passion.

This is not a manipulative system, but a method of thinking called peripatetic , in which, through questions, we can help other people reach conclusions that they feel as their own . It is widely used in communication and negotiation. It can also be your great ally with the magic phrase.

5. Create real conversations

We waste too much time in innocuous and empty conversations, small talk to fill the time. But how much real conversations are needed! It is impressive what you can discover and achieve if you learn to master the art of conversation .

Nobody asks for advice on worthless things. We ask for advice on things that matter and concern us, that can peek into our privacy or explore big issues. The best friendships are born – says CS Lewis – when one person says to another “How? Do you also think that way? I thought I was the only one! ”

Asking for advice is one of the five avenues of wealth in silence and will help you forge business, personal and friendship relationships that will pave the way for a better life.

So now you know. When you find a closed door, the best key is to ask for advice.

Francisco García Pimentel

 

By:

Source: These 5 words will open thousands of doors for you

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Critics:

For businesses, this could mean: creating new ideas, new product development through research and development, or improving existing services. Innovation can be the central focus of a business and this can help them to grow and become a market leader if they execute their ideas properly. Businesses that are focused on innovation are usually more efficient, cost-effective, and productive.

Successful innovation should be built into the business strategy, where you can create a culture of innovation and drive forward creative problem-solving. Success is the state or condition of meeting a defined range of expectations. It may be viewed as the opposite of failure. The criteria for success depend on context, and may be relative to a particular observer or belief system. One person might consider a success what another person considers a failure, particularly in cases of direct competition or a zero-sum game.

Similarly, the degree of success or failure in a situation may be differently viewed by distinct observers or participants, such that a situation that one considers to be a success, another might consider to be a failure, a qualified success or a neutral situation. For example, a film that is a commercial failure or even a box-office bomb can go on to receive a cult following, with the initial lack of commercial success even lending a cachet of subcultural coolness.

The fields of probability and statistics often study situations where events are labeled as “successes” or “failures”. For example, a Bernoulli trial is a random experiment with exactly two possible outcomes, “success” and “failure”, in which the probability of success is the same every time the experiment is conducted. The concept is named after Jacob Bernoulli, a 17th-century Swiss mathematician, who analyzed them in his Ars Conjectandi (1713).

The term “success” in this sense consists in the result meeting specified conditions, not in any moral judgement. For example, the experiment could be the act of rolling a single die, with the result of rolling a six being declared a “success” and all other outcomes grouped together under the designation “failure”. Assuming a fair die, the probability of success would then be 1 / 6…

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