It may seem simple, but making your bed is quietly one of the most important daily rituals a person can have. I promise, it will change your life. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not. Those of you who already do it know exactly what I mean.
First and foremost, making your bed forces you to get out of it. That’s not necessarily a small feat, especially if you’re suffering from depression. Not only are you out of bed, but you can’t get back in. It’s a line of demarcation that officially starts your day.
More than that, though, it’s a ceremonial act of respect for oneself. It’s a deliberate measure of control that you can always take, even when the rest of your life is complete and utter chaos.
Do it. Every damn morning. It only takes a minute, but it will have a cascading effect that subtly improves everything else about the rest of your day, right up to the moment when you get to crawl back in to a well made bed at night.
When I think of all the truly successful people I’ve known in my life, the ones who really have their shit together, all of them — every last one — routinely make their beds every single morning. This is not a coincidence.
Lost in Distance 01, 2010, You Jin
It may be the best of time as well as the worst of time. The rapid development of science, technology and economy in China brings about great increases in information communication, consumption culture and consumer desires. So the younger generation in China is not only basking in these benefits but also bearing the cost of all these changes and upheavals brought by resulting from the development. In this important period of scientific development and social transformation, people’s lives, lifestyles and environment undergo great changes, which not only constraints and influences contemporary man’s psychology and behavior, but also affects people’s daily life and the tastes and discourse in artistic creation. With his sensitivity and practices, You Jin is contemplating and reflecting on this epoch.
Moreover, what is noteworthy about his works is that the language of dots, lines and segments which is orderly amid chaos, mechanical but controlled, symbolizing the characteristics of modern information technology (coded, mechanized, controlled, pluralistic and self-disciplined) as well as the possible hidden dangers.
–Xia Yun, Language Generation from Chaotic Code
…The issue, we’ve long thought, is that women just aren’t interested; female desire is simply weaker, and stoked by intimacy and familiarity. But scientists are now wondering whether commitment itself might be the problem. In other words, it’s not a libido deficit, it’s monogamy—an unspoken two-year itch. As Bergner puts it, the female drug we’re really seeking is “monogamy’s cure.”
…Psychologist Lori Brotto of the University of British Columbia cuts to the chase: “Sometimes I wonder whether [low female desire] isn’t so much about libido as it is about boredom,” she says. Ken Wallen, a psychologist and neuroendrocrinologist whose work at Emerson University outside Atlanta has revealed that female rhesus monkeys are the sexual aggressors, echoes the sentiment: “The idea that monogamy serves the natural sexuality of women may not be accurate,” he says. Bergner also cites an Australian study of women over age 40 that correlated low female desire to the length of time a woman had been with her partner, not hormonal changes. Once those women were with new partners, libido returned.
American psychologist Marta Meana routinely sees women whose white-hot lust for their partner has turned to ash. She theorizes that, within monogamy, women’s narcissistic need to feel desired is not being met: they feel their partners are trapped and that “a choice—the lust-propelled selection of her—was no longer being made.” One of the women interviewed in In What Do Woman Want?, Sophie, reveals how she compensates to summon lust for her husband: by fantasizing about being ravaged by Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.
The “you complete me,” best-friends model held as the marital ideal and routinely joked about as a turn-off for men may actually be even more so for women, says Meana: “There has to be an ‘other’ for there to be sexiness.”
The idea that women might be ill-suited for monogamy flies in the face of entrenched thinking that women use sex to bond while men use intimacy for sex, as enshrined in the “intimacy-based sex-response cycle” pioneered by Rosemary Basson, a professor of psychiatry at UBC. It also upends the “parental investment theory,” the notion that men’s seemingly limitless reproductive capacity is why they fling seed far and wide, while women maximize limited reproductive resources by being choosy. Societies have long used the low-libido explanation to maintain order: it discourages female infidelity and has freed women’s energy to focus on home and children.
-Anne Kingston, “The female libido and the two-year itch”
Holler to research that genuinely interrogates sexist evolutionary psych theories and autonomously recognises women’s sexual desire. Good things will come from this.
A number of recent studies on neurobiology and trauma show that the ways in which the brain processes harrowing events accounts for victim behavior that often confounds cops, prosecutors, and juries.
…In the past decade, neurobiology has evolved to explain why [rape] victims respond in ways that make it seem like they could be lying, even when they’re not. Using imaging technology, scientists can identify which parts of the brain are activated when a person contemplates a traumatic memory such as sexual assault. The brain’s prefrontal cortex—which is key to decision-making and memory—often becomes temporarily impaired. The amygdala, known to encode emotional experiences, begins to dominate, triggering the release of stress hormones and helping to record particular fragments of sensory information. Victims can also experience tonic immobility—a sensation of being frozen in place—or a dissociative state. These types of withdrawal result from extreme fear yet often make it appear as if the victim did not resist the assault.
This is why, experts say, sexual assault victims often can’t give a linear account of an attack and instead focus on visceral sensory details like the smell of cologne or the sound of voices in the hallway. “That’s simply because their brain has encoded it in this fragmented way,” says David Lisak, a clinical psychologist and forensic consultant who trains civilian and military law enforcement to understand victim and offender behavior.
Lisak and Tremblay, also a consultant, teach an open-ended, narrative approach that elicits sensory details and allows a victim to describe the assault in her own words. This means asking questions about what she smelled, felt, or heard as a way of delicately gathering evidence that may corroborate her account. If, for example, she correctly identifies the rapist’s cologne, Lisak says, that’s a sign she can provide accurate recollections. He remembers a case in which the victim’s initial memory of her assault was cloudy, but when asked about sounds, she recalled hearing the assailant walking in her apartment. That triggered another memory of him talking on the phone to a car mechanic. She had enough details of the conversation to allow the police to find the mechanic, who confirmed that he spoke to the assailant.
In contrast, police officers with no specialized training often antagonize victims as they zero in on discrepancies. It’s understandable: Cops learn to interview victims based on interrogation practices, which emphasize establishing a timeline and key facts. But what may seem like good police work, Lisak says, can lead a detective to press victims in a way that yields misleading or false information, as they prematurely try to piece together fragmented memories.
Cops must also learn that trauma influences victims in ways law enforcement won’t necessarily understand. One notorious example is victims’ flat affect. This always puzzled senior officer Holly Whillock, a 13-year veteran of the Houston Police Department. She expected victims to be enraged or visibly anguished, but instead they spoke coolly, without emotion.
While Whillock thought the muted response might be the result of trauma, she also knew it would be a weakness in court. Defense attorneys question detectives on a victim’s bearing, often asking: “How could she have been raped if she didn’t react when you asked her about the assault?” It’s a simple way to destroy a victim’s credibility—unless a cop can explain why a victim’s lack of affect is a normal response following a traumatic experience. It can actually support the victim’s account, says Dr. Rebecca Campbell, a professor of ecological-community psychology at Michigan State University who recently trained the Houston Police Department.
–Rebecca Ruiz, “Why Don’t Cops Believe Rape Victims?“
Look at Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest. We collect our favorite things in one spot for anyone who’s interested: the era of the curator. Rather than write about ourselves directly, our personalities manifest in collections of our commercial desires, aesthetic attractions. We are what we “like,” not what we do.
–Jacob Axelrad, “Longform“
A very interesting offhand observation embedded in a great essay on Longform Reads.
‘Curator’ might feel like too self-aggrandizing a term though. Perhaps it is more accurate to say we are in the era of ‘glorified virtual scrapbookers’. Or maybe we should just call ourselves digital magpies. Depends on how cynical I’m feeling, I guess.
Still, a phrase worth pondering.
…Across the world, it seems, wealthier people are much more likely to complain — or kvetch, if you will — about being busy than the poor. It’s not simply that the well-to-do work more, although that’s part of it, says Daniel Hamermesh, the University of Texas economist who co-authored the 2005 study with a former graduate student. It turns out that if you hold the hours people spend at their jobs and on household chores constant, individuals who bring home bigger paychecks still feel more stressed for time. Increase a husband’s income, and his wife begins to feel busier.
Hamermesh reached his conclusions by analyzing time-use surveys from the United States, Germany, Australia, and South Korea. The results were fairly consistent across international borders, although they varied a bit in South Korea, he says. In general, the richer a survey taker was, the more they kvetched about their lack of time. Women, meanwhile, kvetched more than men. And although Hamermish is hesitant to make cross cultural comparisons, he says that Americans appeared to be the “world champions” of kvetching.
All of this seems a bit counterintuitive. After all, one of the perks of being rich is that you can afford to pay people to take care of life’s necessities in order to free up more time for life’s pleasures. A nurse and a Google engineer might work the same hours. But the engineer can afford a babysitter and maid.
Nice in theory. But in practice, hiring help only makes a marginal difference, Hamermesh says. “You can’t pay somebody to sleep for you,” he explains. “You can’t pay somebody to read Proust for you. Or go to the opera, or go to the movies, or go to a ballgame.” And that’s where a bit of psychology comes into play.
We all live on two things: time and money. And people who have extra income don’t get much, if any, extra time to spend it. As a result, Hamermesh argues, each of their hours seems more valuable, and they feel the clock ticking away more acutely. Much the way it’s more stressful to order dinner from a menu with 100 items than 10, choosing between a night at the symphony, seats at the hot new play, or tickets to Woody Allen’s latest flick is in some senses more stressful than knowing you’ll have to save money by staying in for the evening. There’s a lot the rich could be doing and too few hours to do it all.
That isn’t to say the rich are necessarily more stressed overall. While the poor are less likely to complain about a lack of time, they are much more likely to complain about a lack of money. “One of them is always going to be scarce for you. If you’re rich, it’s time that’s scarce. If you’re poor, it’s the money that’s scarce,” Hamermesh says.
So should we all feel guilty about our kvetching? Not necessarily — as long as you remember that, in the scheme of things, being busy is a nice problem to afford.
–Jordan Weissman, “Why Only Yuppies Feel Busy: An Economic Theory”
Philosophers and psychoanalysts have long debated the lure of the morbid – but the current dominant explanation, from evolutionary psychology, is rather deflating, lacking any reference to Freudian “death drives” or the like. We’re compelled by horrible things, this argument goes, because it pays to scrutinise dangers that could threaten one’s survival. Such tendencies evolved before mass media, of course – so these days, we see celebrity self-destruction and far-off tsunamis, and they grip us as hazards that might befall us, too.
But Wilson’s conversations with psychologists lead him to another, more uplifting conclusion: that “our attraction to the macabre is, on some level, a desire to experience someone else’s suffering.” We yearn to empathise – a yearning that is, incidentally, perfectly compatible with the evolutionary argument, since empathy helps us forge close bonds, which are essential for survival. Striving to feel what it might be like to be caught in the tsunami, or the pile-up, may be fundamentally healthy. Perhaps even “the itch to touch a corpse,” Wilson writes, recalling his behaviour at his grandmother’s open-coffin funeral, “is normal [and] noble.“
–Oliver Burkeman, “Morbid Curiosity: Can gawping at disaster be good for us?”
A connection between fascination with things associated with morbidness and human desire for empathy? My gut says yes–and actually, such an argument would provide a socially acceptable explanation for why on earth I end up studying topics associated with the grim.
But the ideas gotta fester longer before I have more to say.
The American Dream is really two dreams. There’s the Horatio Alger myth, in which a person with grit, ingenuity, and hard work succeeds and prospers. And there’s the firehouse dinner, the Fourth of July picnic, the common green, in which everyone gives a little so the group can get a lot. Markus’s work seems to suggest the emergence of a dream apartheid, wherein the upper class continues to chase a vision of personal success and everyone else lingers at a potluck complaining that the system is broken. (Research shows that the rich tend to blame individuals for their own failure and likewise credit themselves for their own success, whereas those in the lower classes find explanations for inequality in circumstances and events outside their control.) But the truth is much more nuanced. Every American, rich and poor, bounces back and forth between these two ideals of self, calibrating ambitions and adjusting behaviors accordingly.
–Lisa Miller, “The Money-Empathy Gap“, pg 6
In the cover story for New York Magazine, Miller brings light to a new group of psychology studies trying to understand the role socio-economic class has on personality, from interpersonal relations to physiological response. Turns out, despite our cultural denial about the significance of class in America, money matters. And you can see it all over our confused little minds.
[Also, super clever to use dogs to visualise class and power dynamics in the pics accompanying the article.]
So much interesting in this burgeoning field. Definitely an area to watch out for.
Happy 4th of July, folks.