All posts tagged: human condition

A Million Smiles: From war torn wreckage to bustling metropolises, Mike Worsman searches for a smile

The Mills Longitudinal Study at UC Berkeley was a 50 year investigation of the wellbeing and social development of a group of women since graduating from the college. The initial study examined the smiles from photos of 20-something year old women in their college yearbook in order to measure any favourable outcomes in their lives many years later. Only the Duchenne Smile was considered as it sees the corners of the mouth and cheeks raised, and crow’s feet formed at our brow. Essentially the Duchenne Smile is our physiological expression of true happiness. What the study posited was that emotional tendencies are believed to shape personality and the life course of their influence on cognitive, behavioral and social processes. 30 years later, the study found that positive emotional expression in their college yearbook photos related to stable aspects of personality change in certain traits over time, observers’ judgement of the women’s personalities and their responses to those women, and life outcomes measured up to 30 years later. In fact, over time, those who expressed more …

You’re 1 in 4 Hundred Trillion

In a Ted Talk by Mel Robbins, she points out that the odds of you, or any single individual, being born is 1 in 4 000 000 000 000. When you think about it like that it magnifies what our lives are composed of: what we’ve done and what we haven’t done, what we have and what we don’t have. Forget about material possessions like your dream car, or dream home. Think about your life’s goals. From book you want to write, the job you want to get, the marathon you want to run, to the body you want to be in. How many of these have you not achieved because you haven’t started to pave the way there? Why? For most of us it could be that we put off starting our journeys because we’re think about the effort it would take, the trials and tribulations that we we would experience, and then somehow conclude that going through that trouble isn’t worth it, and our current states are ok after all. In other words, we trick …

The Virtues of Remembering The Mundane

One summer my family and I drove from Melbourne to Adelaide to make it in time for my graduation. It was a 600 kilometre drive — that’s about a 7 hour road trip sitting in a hot car, passing an endless stretch of arid land, counting the naked trees scorched by the unforgiving Australian sun. Then, the time spent seemed insignificant. The conversations, the pep-talks, the packed lunches and pit stops. It was all part of one mundane experience to get us from A to B. We no longer take these trips, and my father has now passed away but these insignificant moments I initially took for granted, mean the world to me. It’s a discovery in retrograde: the essential from the insignificant. A four-part study in Psychological Science led by Ting Zhang explored the tendency to underestimate just how curious and interested we will be for recounting mundane activities such as making breakfast, or a trip to the mall. The first of Zhang’s studies, for example, required participants to create time capsules, with such contents including: last social activity attended, a fragment from …

Helen Keller on Listening to Beethoven

Letters of Note is by far, and easily one of the most gratifying spaces on the internet. As I searched the archives, I stumbled across a letter by Hellen Keller to the New York Symphony Orchestra after their performance of Beethoven’s 9th at Carnegie Hall in New York. Though half deaf and blind, Hellen Keller describes how she heard and experienced the music. I put my hand on the receiver and see if I could get any of the vibrations. [someone] unscrewed the cap, and I lightly touched the sensitive diaphragm. What was my amazement to discover that I could feel, not only the vibrations, but also the impassioned rhythm, the throb and the urge of the music! The intertwined and intermingling vibrations from different instruments enchanted me. I could actually distinguish the cornets, the roll of the drums, deep-toned violas and violins singing in exquisite unison. How the lovely speech of the violins flowed and plowed over the deepest tones of the other instruments! When the human voice leaped up trilling from the surge …

success failure

If You’re Failing, You’re Doing Ok

During one piano recital I was so nervous that as soon as my fingers hit the keys, I completely forgot how to play. I was just pushing at keys – at that moment I was blind, the music infront of me meant nothing, and my fingers were temporarily disconnected from my hand. I was lost. Nevertheless, I tried again. My second attempt didn’t fare well either. I tried again, and again, and finally I got to playing my piece. It would have been much easier, and much less embarrassing to have left. My parents, peers, and teachers were in the audience, waiting to hear what the many years of piano lessons had left me with. When I finished my piece, I bowed, and walked back to them musicians room. It was grim, but at one point my friend came up to me and said, “if that was me I would have just left, but you actually stayed there until you got it right.” After that my music teacher and piano teacher said the same thing. Had I …

Sense of Purpose in Life? Your Heart Will Thank You For It

Researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York have found that a healthy heart is linked to having a sense of purpose in life. The researchers came to their conclusions after reviewing 10 relevant studies, and data from more than 137,000 people. Lead study author Randy Cohen, M.D, explained: “Developing and refining your sense of purpose could protect your heart health and potentially save your life…Our study shows there is a strong relationship between having a sense of purpose in life and protection from dying or having a cardiovascular event. As part of our overall health, each of us needs to ask ourselves the critical question of ‘do I have a sense of purpose in my life?’ If not, you need to work toward the important goal of obtaining one for your overall well-being.” Alan Rozanski, MD, study co-author and Director of Wellness and Prevention Programs for Mount Sinai Heart at the Mount Sinai Health System said that based on these findings future research should now further assess the importance of life purpose as a determinant …

Feeling Rich Without Money

We buy things that attract us, as if somehow they’re going to fill our empty metaphorical spaces. We buy the pretty vase because our jobs aren’t what we expected, we buy the shoes and the bag because we ended a long-term relationship, we buy the new wardrobe fillers because our work wasn’t received how we wanted it to. We swipe, select check, savings or credit and enter our pins as if somehow we’re entering the secret code to enter the happy and satisfied life club. The thrill of that if it existed. But deep down we know those things are band-aid solutions. But we ignore them because acknowledging them would be too hard. Too powerful a tug on the marionette strings attached to our hearts. We wander the high streets, the mall strips, peering into the shopfronts, hoping to find something perfect but we’re really looking to find some kind of panacea for our lives. The perfect object, is a substitute for the perfect life. Every time we whip out our wallets,  we’re really wanting to …

empathy

How Technology Can Help Create Empathy

1. Explore the human condition Social media, although at times forces users to trawl through banal updates about every day life, there is a lot of dialogue which highlights how people feel. Perhaps these are people that you wouldn’t necessarily meet in your day-to-day life, yet they share their stories on an open platform. Their stories sit there waiting to be read, to gain some attention and maybe, just maybe, be understood. With this, we can learn how someone on the other side of the world is feeling, and add this as a reminder that we understand, if only a little, the lives of others. 2. Anonymity We’ve all undoubtedly got a range of odd usernames. The weirdest one I have is “bozzeyed”. I don’t really know what that means, but with my moniker, I feel a little more at ease when wanting to express my opinions online. Of course, we’ve all come across trolls, or other people/bots who are purely inflammatory, but, nestled among the hateful comments, are people who are trying to voice …