Posted in know better do better, mental health, mindset, podcasts, socializing

Podcast quote: negative people

I started listening to the Work Life podcast, by Adam Grant. I love it! Super-interesting.

Since they’re relatively close to the beginning of the podcast, I started at the beginning.

Season 1, Episode 3 was “The Problem with All Stars,” and while it was interesting to listen to, the piece that was most striking to me was not about the main topic at all.

From the transcript:

“Emotional contagion is something that I became interested in many, many years ago when I was working with a colleague, ‘Meg’ as a pseudonym, and I wasn’t even reporting to her, she was just working in my environment. I knew she was negative but I didn’t think much of it. And then one week Meg went on vacation. And it was amazing. Like suddenly the team, me, everybody — our shoulders lowered, we were more relaxed and happy. And then she came back and everything went back to the way it was and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, how amazing that this person, who I didn’t even report to could have such a tremendous influence on not only my mood, but the mood of everybody else.”

This isn’t surprising, but it brought to mind a lot of scenarios from the past few years. Times when I’ve been frustrated to be consistently in the presence of constant negativity. Times when I’m sure I was the one bringing the group dynamic down. Scenarios from longer ago, also from both sides of the fence. Which brings me to…

The concept applies to family dynamics, of course. When one person in the house is always (or even just often) miserable or angry or high-strung, it takes a toll on everyone in the house. And because this typically develops over time, it follows the boiling-a-frog fable. (In that case, the person who points it out is more likely to be ostracized than the person causing the problem … but that’s a tangent I’m not going to ride out today.)

And socializing.

Really, it applies to anywhere with people you’re in proximity to. At the grocery store and someone ahead of you is chewing out the cashier? Changes your environment. Someone unpleasant on the train? Next table over at dinner is full of crankiness or anger or vitriol? These change your experience, even if they’re not chronic, like a coworker or housemate would be.

Obviously we don’t have control over all of these situations, but it’s worth the time and effort to see where we can eliminate or reduce contact with negative people … and also to be introspective enough to know when it is us. (Not self-deprecating and assuming it’s always us … introspective and having a solid guess as to when it’s us.)

Posted in mindset, podcasts

Podcast quote: internal conflict

When the weather is nice, I don’t listen to as many podcasts. Most of my listening is in the car, and when the weather is nice, the windows are down, and when the windows are down, I can’t hear podcasts (or music), so I just enjoy the air.

But the weather hasn’t been nice lately, so I’ve been getting caught up with some of my backlog of podcasts.

One I recently finished was another episode of Armchair Expert.

Adam Grant was the expert they interviewed. I wasn’t familiar with him (which is true of the majority of their guests), but the interview was very enjoyable to listen to. Because it was a great interview? Maybe. Because I love psychology? For sure.

There was a lot of takeaway from what Adam was talking about, and there’s a clip that I’m planning to play for my classes (that, thankfully, has no swearing, or I wouldn’t have the option), and I have another podcast on my playlist and two books on my wishlist.

Besides all of that, there was this one little sound bite that was interesting to me:

“Sometimes I have to be false to my personality to be true to my values.”

In other words, sometimes introverts need to speak up or extraverts need to button up in order to act in a way that is in line with their value system.

It got me to thinking.

I’m still thinking.

Does it give your brain something to chew on?

Posted in differences, know better do better, mental health, mindset, podcasts, socializing

Perhaps a bronze lining would be better

I recently discovered a new podcast: The Happiness Lab. It’s fairly new—there are only eight episodes so far—and I learned about it through a plug on Revisionist History.

This coincided perfectly with a personal goal of adjusting my mindset in certain areas so I can be happier.

Episode 3: A Silver Lining.

They talked about how of the three medalists on the podium at the Olympics, the silver medalist is typically the least happy, sometimes not happy at all. And how this lasts well beyond the end of the winner’s national anthem.

They talked about making less money but double the people around you, versus making twice as much money but half the people around you … and how when asked which they’d prefer, people responded overall in a roughly 50/50 split.

The whole episode was fascinating to listen to. And had some moments of familiarity.

Whether you compare yourself physically, financially, socially, emotionally, or some other way, we all do it sometimes. The more we do, the less happy we are, because Top Dog is a difficult status to achieve and harder to maintain.

Where are you only happy if you’re better than the people around you? And where are you happy regardless of the state of the people around you?

Posted in know better do better, mindset, podcasts

Sunk costs

A while back, I was listening to Akimbo by Seth Godin and something really stuck with me. He’s said this in previous podcasts, but, like most things, it took repetition before it hit.

It’s about sunk costs—things that you’ve invested time and money into, but that the time and money shouldn’t be part of a current decision (though, because we’re emotional people, it often is).

I went to school and now I’m thinking about changing careers. But I spent all that time and money on school!

“It is a gift from the you of yesterday to the you of today.”

The you of yesterday gifted you with education, with whatever else came from those years. But standing here today, what do you want to do?

This is especially applicable to getting out of unsavory situations, whether they be relational or monetary. Instead of thinking about how much you already invested, look forward, find a path, and follow it.

Maybe it’s continuing on the same path, but make that decision without the burden of the past.

Of course, the advice is also simplistic and there are variables that come into play in some cases and on and on. But the basic premise is solid. And if you peel away layers of your arguments as to why you can’t change paths, how often do you get down to sunk costs? (Often. Not always. But often.)

Eliminate those arguments, and help yourself move forward.

Posted in audience participation, connections, know better do better, mindset, motivation, podcasts

Old dogs, new tricks, and endless possibilities

Schools in this area have an evacuation site. If, for whatever reason the whole school needed to be evacuated, where would we all go?

At my first job in Arizona, the steak house was mentioned.

New to the local area and vegetarian, I couldn’t think of any steak houses nearby … and also thought that was an odd place for a fairly large elementary school to evacuate to. We’re definitely bigger than their maximum capacity.

Turns out, it’s a Mormon thing. (Based on my Wikipedia research before writing this, she was incorrect to call it a stake house, but perhaps the locals differ from Wikipedia in their vernacular.)

The area has a large Mormon population. Nowhere I’d lived up to that point had much if any Mormon population, so these words/buildings/customs were unfamiliar to me.

My brain making connections the way it does, when I thought of this story, it reminded me that on Freakonomics Radio a few months ago, they were talking about trying new things:

…basically if you are not listening to a certain style of music by the time you’re 28 or so, 95 percent chance you’re never going to. By age 35, if you’re not eating sushi, 95 percent chance you never will. In other words, these windows of openness to novelty close.

Honestly … I think we can do better. Clearly, we need to be nudged … or pushed … or dragged against our will sometimes, but we can do it!

35? 28?! That’s less than half of a life trying all sorts of things and more than half a life with the same old same old. No wonder so many old people are cranky.

Seriously. If we’re open to new things, our lives will be richer, our brains will be healthier, and we have a much better chance at forward progress (in our personal lives, in our communities, in our country, in the world).

In the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve tried a lot of new foods and tons of old foods in new combinations. I’ve learned a lot of new stuff. Tried new activities. Befriended new people.

That said, I’m quite happy much of the time to eat the same stuff, read the same stuff, talk to the same people, and so on. Really, I could just stay home a lot of the time and be perfectly content.

How do I get into new stuff?

Well … every now and then, it’s something that I’ve been interested in for a while but never made time for (because you can’t do it all at once) — like photography.

Even more rarely, it’s something that creeps into my life in such a way that I don’t even remember how it got there, and then it grows and I feed it and it grows and I feed it… — like triathlon (currently defunct) and healthy living stuff.

Most of the time? Someone else introduces me to it. Most of the music I listen to; all “ethnic” food that isn’t Italian, Polish, or American Chinese; running; rock climbing; camping; a trove of details about dinosaurs, Saturn V, and Minecraft. These are all things that I would not have come into on my own — someone else introduced me to them.

And my life is richer for it.

Though I would be OK without Minecraft.

If you know my eating habits, you know some of my favorite restaurants are Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Mediterranean. I never ate any of these before I moved to Arizona. (Thank you to the people who introduced me to these amazing cuisines!)

What have you done or eaten or listened to or read or watched lately that was new? (And what do you love that you can share with me that might be new to me?)