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‘The Upside of Your Dark Side’ – Todd Kashdan & Robert Biswas-Diener

Nu mai citisem psihologie de ceva timp, așa că am ales ‘The Upside of Your Dark Side’, scrisă de Todd Kashdan și Robert Biswas-Diener.

În mare se vorbește despre cât de importantă e (și) suferința pentru a fi o persoană stabilă emoțional, “întreagă”, și cum anumite aspecte considerate negative ale personalităților noastre ar trebui mai degrabă considerate unelte pentru a naviga mai ușor situații care cer anumite tipuri de reacții de la noi. Kurzgesagt, nu trebuie să te ferești întotdeauna de emoții negative, în schimb să realizezi că te ajută să crești și să te dezvolți în mai multe feluri decât ai crede. E bună cartea, o recomand.

Mai jos sunt câteva paragrafe pe care mi le-am notat (conțin niște informații foarte interesante). Nu m-am obosit să le mai traduc ca până acum, și nici nu am găsit o variantă în română a cărții pentru a le copia de acolo ori a le cere traducătorului, cum am făcut la ‘The End of Faith’. C’est la vie.

Am pus la final și un clip cu unul dintre autori.

In a psychological phenomenon known as sehnsucht [pronounced ZAYN zookt], it’s not unusual to find that yearning for a missed opportunity or unfulfilled goal can inspire a rich fantasy in which we imagine ourselves successful in those aims. Sehnsucht is important as a psychological balm against the sting of opportunity lost: participants in an international research study who felt sehnsucht were able to embrace the fantasy, plumbing it for emotional reward. The one noteworthy exception was Americans. Unlike our European counterparts, we are far more likely to see our dreams as achievable, so we’re often reluctant to relegate them to the realm of fantasy, which we tend to see as a negative. But fantasy can be a valuable resource.

Today Melanie’s children are grown and she may return to law school. She feels less of a burning need to be a judge, however, in part because she has reaped the emotional rewards of her fantasies. Sehnsucht is one of many strategies that whole people employ to help them manage the psychological fallout from the road not taken, to make quitting palatable when it makes sense and to handle disappointment.

More critical still was the German philosopher Hegel. “What the English call ‘comfort,’” Hegel wrote, “is something inexhaustible and illimitable.” Hegel concluded that “the need for greater comfort does not exactly arise within you directly; it is suggested to you by those who hope to make a profit from its creation.” It is noteworthy that Hegel, like Freud, focused not on the achievement of comfort but on the dangers associated with the “need for comfort.” Hegel suggests that a person’s need for comfort is an illusion, of the kind fostered today by the advertising gurus of Madison Avenue. Hegel argues that this urge, like an addiction to coffee, may feel right, but it is neither natural nor healthy.

In one study, researchers showed a funny film clip to both European Americans and Asian Americans, all of whom were clinically depressed. The Asian Americans laughed and smiled at the comedic scenes, whereas the European Americans did not. In another study, depressed European Americans showed only muted reactions to sad film clips. Their Asian American counterparts, on the other hand, were more likely to weep. The European Americans, it seems, had flipped off a switch, whereas the Asian Americans were still very much experiencing their emotions. In short, Asians appear to be more comfortable with unpleasant feelings. It is here, perhaps, that we can benefit from looking at this phenomenon more closely.

In another study, researchers interested in how people remember the emotional events of their lives tracked the actual day-to-day moods of adults and then had them recall the frequency and intensity of their emotions throughout the two-week study. As you might imagine, people were more prone to remember the intense events—both positive and negative. Interestingly, they underestimated the frequency of their past positive emotions but had no difficulty accurately recalling their negative events.

Dr. Hi Po Bobo Lau from the University of Hong Kong and his team posed these very questions in their research. Enter the dreamlike scenario of participants in the study. Think of a specific time in your life when you felt very happy. Now, how much (assign a price tag between $2 and $200) would you be willing to spend to re-create this feeling? Once you come up with an exact dollar amount let’s move on to other positive emotions. A sense of calm? Excitement? Now let’s focus on negative emotions. Think of a specific memory when you felt intense regret. How much would you pay to avoid that feeling again? What about fear? Embarrassment? What we’re asking you to do is put an exact dollar amount on each of these emotions. You might guess by now that avoiding pain was worth more money to participants than buying happiness. But let’s be precise, down to the penny. This is what Dr. Lau’s subjects were willing to pay:

$44.30 for calm tranquility
$62.80 for excitement
$79.06 for happiness
$83.27 to avoid fear
$92.80 to avoid sadness
$99.81 to avoid embarrassment, and
$106.26 to avoid regret.

Only one emotion was more valuable than avoiding regret, and that was love. Sure, happiness, excitement, and feeling calm are good, but as social creatures we want someone who will accept, value, and care for our innermost self. Love was worth $113.55. If you, the reader, are not from Hong Kong, you might be skeptical about these dollar figures. So let it be known that when posed the same questions, adults from the United Kingdom had the same shopping experience: while tranquility ($53.47) and excitement ($60.90) were worth purchasing, they were no match for the need to escape embarrassment ($71.83) and regret ($64.40), and nothing was worth more than love ($115.16).

Forgas and his colleagues found that when people are happy they are able to detect whether someone is lying only 49 percent of the time, slightly worse than chance. When people were experimentally put into an unhappy, sad mood before watching the videotapes, they ended up being much more successful, accurately detecting liars 62 percent of the time.

After being given a list of fifteen words on a similar theme, such as bed, rest, and tired, and asked to remember whether the word sleep had been on the list (it hadn’t), happy people were much more likely to take the bait and incorporate this misleading information into their memory. To get an idea of the extent of these false memories, happy people were 50 percent more likely to recall words they hadn’t seen.

When asked about the details of what happened, questions included false details (“Can you remember the young woman playing with her scarf as the instructor gave her something from his wallet ?”—the detail in italics being false). Happy people were 25 percent more likely to recall false facts than unhappy people.

The laziness of happy people extends to a reliance on stereotypes in stressful situations. Soon after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, participants played a first-person shooter game in which they were told to kill any screen character carrying a gun. Ramping up the difficulty level, half of the targets wore traditional turbans and the other half didn’t. If happy people are more likely to be driven by stereotypes, then do they end up with an itchier trigger finger against stereotypical Muslims? Compared with unhappy peers, they were three times more likely to shoot at Muslim than non-Muslim targets. On average, happy people tend to be kind, feel grateful, and put a priority on being a good community citizen. But in aggressive situations, when negative stereotypes are activated, those benefits disappear. Happy people find it harder to escape deeply ingrained biases. Yes, the use of mental shortcuts is a wonderful time – and energy-saving device, but as shown here, in the wrong situations, failing to focus on details in the present moment can be destructive.

In another study, these same researchers gave adults a questionnaire asking them how much importance they place on attaining happiness and about the amount of stress in their lives. The same paradox emerged. Each day over a two-week period, adults with the greatest desire to be happy felt lonelier, more depressed, and less purposeful, and had fewer positive emotions, lower progesterone levels, and reduced emotional intelligence.

How could boredom be beneficial? In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, boredom is described as a precursor to insight and discovery. Parents sometimes want their children to be bored because they have an intuitive sense that grappling with this uncomfortable state is how kids discover what they’re interested in, quiet their mind, and find outlets to channel their energy. We wish more parents would trust that when their kids get bored, they’ll find the way out on their own, resisting the temptation to schedule activities from morning to night to keep boredom at bay. But don’t just take our word for it. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a 2007 consensus statement on how child-directed, exploratory play is far superior when it comes to developing emotional, social, and mental agility than structured, adult-guided activity.

Edward O. Wilson describes the value of boredom in his autobiography, Naturalist:

Adults forget the depths of languor into which the adolescent mind descends with ease. They are prone to devalue the mental growth that occurs during daydreaming and aimless wandering . . . often I just sat for long periods scanning the pond edges and vegetation for the hint of a scaly coil, a telltale ripple on the water’s surface, the sound of an out-of-sight splash.

You cannot banish the devilish, unflattering qualities of your personality. Nor would doing so be healthy or useful. Suppressing experiences is psychologically destructive because it divorces us from the full richness of real life. To progress on your journey of personal growth, love, and meaning and purpose in life, you need to become aware of all aspects of yourself, including your darker tendencies, and be agile enough to integrate them into your behavioral repertoire as needed. Do not repress, ignore, or hide the darker gifts. Be aware of them, appreciate them, and when you’re ready harness them. When you do this, you’ll find that you’ve gained greater access to well-being. To do otherwise is to be enslaved by fear, to set an artificial limit on what you experience and accomplish in this, the one and only life we know for sure that you’ll have. Make the most of it. Become whole.

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