Two years ago, I decided to change my sleeping habits. I spent the majority of my high school and college years staying up until five in the morning. I’d then sleep in as late as I possibly could, guzzling coffee into the wee hours of the night and regularly proclaiming my hatred for the early morning.
Then, when I hit my twenties, began freelancing, and moved in with roommates who had vastly different schedules and weren’t very good at staying quiet in the morning, everything changed. I found myself woken up bright and early most days when my roommates crashed around the house to get ready for their 9-5 jobs.
With a wake-up call like that, I’d spend most of my day in a terrible mood, and that grumpiness would last well into the evening. By then, I would finally muster the motivation to write, but would often be too tired to get anything substantial done. My writing career suffered, my health suffered, and my mood suffered…and I still hated mornings.
Something had to change.
You just parked your car. You look at the clock and see that you have five minutes to spare.
You figure you might as well use this extra time to do a little mental preparation. So you close your eyes and you begin to say yourself:
“I got this… I got this… I. GOT. THIS.”
But then, a teeny tiny thought creeps into your mind…
“… What if I don’t got this?”
And just like that, the tide begins to turn. Read More…
Have you ever been taken advantage of? You probably have, without even knowing it.
In fact, I’d be willing to bet that if you’ve ever purchased anything, someone has at one point or another leveraged some psychological principle to get you to make the purchase “of your own free will.”
You shouldn’t feel bad. We’re hardwired to make automatic decisions based on limited information. It’s the only way to survive, particularly in today’s world.
You are not in control of your thoughts. You may think you are, but that’s just an illusion.
I know that may sound like hippy stuff, but it’s actually one of the central premises of psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow.
The book covers everything from economics to politics to human relationships, but one of its primary focuses is how people think and make decisions–and why those decisions are often wrong, even if people don’t realize it.
Since most of college (and life for that matter) involves thinking and making decisions, Kahneman’s material is quite relevant to college students. In particular, his documentation of common cognitive biases and fallacies (the source of many of our mental mistakes) is quite useful, and it’s what I’ll focus on in today’s post. Read More…
Ever thought something like this?
“I don’t understand why my girlfriend is being so emotional. Why can’t she just be rational like me?”
Or how about this?
“Why does my boyfriend never listen? I’m being perfectly clear.”
Or maybe even this?
“I wish my friends would change their stupid opinions. Can’t they see how obviously wrong they are?”
We all have, I imagine. It’s easy to look at other people and wonder why they don’t behave rationally, why they hold on to beliefs that seem stupid.
Well, I’ve got some good news for you. You don’t have to think like this. It’s perfectly rational, of course, but that’s exactly the problem. Your supposed rationality is an illusion. You’re as irrational as everyone else–you’re just really bad at noticing it.
Now I had known this for a while, but I didn’t truly understand it until I read a book that changed the way I view emotions, relationships, and the way humans think and (un)reason.
The book I’m talking about is Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.
Since this is a college advice blog, I’m going to stay away from the topics of politics and religion and focus on what the book can teach us about being better boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, and people. Read More…
Ever meet someone who you decide you instantly like because they made such a great first impression?
I have friends who absolutely love Gabe Newell, the CEO of Valve. I am also in possession of a brain that has decided it loves Gabe Newell as well.
Why do we love Mr. Newell? In my case, I actually only have a few pieces of information to go on:
- He’s the CEO of a company that makes great games
- He sent all of his employees to Hawaii once
- He actually replied when I sent him an email
Now, those three pieces of information are probably sufficient enough for us to assume that Gabe’s a pretty damn nice guy. However, the feelings that I, my friends, and gamers the world over share for the man go far beyond, “Yeah, he’s a pretty nice guy.”
Clearly, some gaps are being filled in here – not with actual evidence, but with emotional over-simplification. In fact, this is an example of a common psychological phenomenon that you should probably know a bit about. Read More…