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Psychology

Is Empathy Overrated?

Reading: While it may result in tremendous good, empathy can also be narrow, biased and surprisingly insensitive, argues psychology professor Paul Bloom.

Does empathy make the world a better place? It certainly looks like it. After all, empathy drives people to treat others’ suffering as if it were their own, which then motivates action to make the suffering go away. I see the bullied teenager and might be tempted initially to join in with his tormentors, out of sadism or boredom or a desire to dominate or be popular, but then I empathize — I feel his pain, I feel what it’s like to be bullied — so I don’t add to his suffering. Maybe I even rise to his defense. Empathy is like a spotlight directing attention and aid to where it’s needed.

Positive Thinking: Is it something we all need to learn?

Why pessimists have a reason to be cheerful

Whatever explains Japan’s chart-topping life expectancy, it isn’t being really chipper all the time

For critics of positive thinking like me, as well as for plain old curmudgeons (also like me, to be fair), it’s an awkward truth that an optimistic outlook does seem to lead to a healthier life. Scientists, with their annoying fixation on facts, have published study after study suggesting that an upbeat attitude protects you from cancer, heart disease and stroke. In one big analysis of American women, the most optimistic were 29% less likely to die, during a six-year follow-up, than the least; in another, involving men too, people with positive views of ageing ended up living longer.

Emotional Hygiene

Bosses should be sent on mental health courses to stop employees becoming stressed and depressed, claims major study as expert reveals tips to make you happier at work

  • Employees reported 18% less sick days if their manager went on the course
  • Hectic workloads can often lead to poor mental health - resulting in sick days
  • The world-first University of New South Wales research is dubbed 'promising'

Jealousy, Prejudice and Discrimination

Reading: Jealousy, Prejudice, and Short People

Downshifting: a new way to become happier?

Reading:

Originally the term "downshifting" referred to changing down a gear, in a manual geared car, to slow the car in addition to using the brakes.
 
In recent usage, the term is used to mean the gradual process of changing your life so it is simpler, quieter, balanced, and much less stressful.  
 
What is a downshifter?  
 
Downshifters are people who adopt long-term voluntary simplicity in their life. They accept less money through fewer hours worked in order to have time for the important things in life. Downshifters also place emphasis on consuming less in order to reduce their ecological footprint.  

Speaking multiple languages can give you multiple personalities

Reading: 

The idea that language affects the way we look at the world is hardly new. But could your personality actually change depending on which language you're speaking? That's the idea put forward by a new psychological study.

Euthanasia

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is the difference between euthanasia and suicide?
  2. Is there a difference between euthanasia and murder?
  3. Does a family member or a doctor have the right to turn off a life support machine?
  4. How long should doctors keep someone alive who is brain dead?

Psychological Boundaries

Reading:

Boundaries define where we end and other people begin, both physically and emotionally. Psychologically, they define a space we see as our own, separate from other people. When we are in love or feel very close to another person through friendship, collaboration, or special circumstances, boundaries may get blurred, as we see ourselves not as separate from them. However, even then boundaries continue to be an important piece of our emotional health.

Is envy eating us alive?

Reading:

Is Envy Eating Us alive?

Have you ever been in the situation of seeing someone you perceive as an equal succeed beyond their – and your – wildest dreams? Have you ever struggled to understand how they did it, given that they are, according to you, no more talented or skilled than you? If the answer to these questions is yes, you have likely struggled with the painful feeling of envy.

The problem of choice

Reading:

Should Governments Nudge Us to Make Good Choices?

Our decisions are constantly shaped by subtle changes in our environment. Even choices that feel deliberate and conscious can be swayed by cues that we may not even notice, such as social norms or the setting of a default option. Behavioral scientists use the phrase “choice architecture” to describe the ways in which the environment influences how we decide.

Introverts and extraverts

  1. Are introversion and extraversion inherited qualities?
  2. In what age does the type of personality peep?
  3. Is it possible to be an extravert and introvert simultaneously? Can we get more introverted or extraverted if we want?
  4. What are the qualities that determine an introvert?
  5. What are the qualities that determine an extravert?
  6. What type of personality could you attribute yourself to and why?
  7. Can you determine personality type of any person by his behavior?

Mood, Feelings and Emotion

Questions for discussion:

Cheating

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is your definition of cheating?
  2. Have you ever cheated?
  3. Why do you think that people cheat?
  4. Have you ever cheated in an exam?

Professional Identity

Choosing a profession

  1. What is your profession? What personality traits one should have to get it?
  2. What influenced your career choice? By what criteria did you make a choice?
  3. What kind of talents does a person need to be a professional in your field of work?
  4. What are your talents? How do you utilize your potential at work? Which of your talents do you develop just for yourself as a hobby (if you have one)?

Pride

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is pride?
  2. Are you proud of your country?
  3. Do you feel more pride in yourself or in others?
  4. Are you proud of your heritage?
  5. Do you think you were always a source of great pride for your parents?

Body Language

Questions for discussion:

  1. Why do you think body language is important?
  2. How do you use body language in your daily life?
  3. How does body language help you to communicate?
  4. How does your native culture use body language?
  5. What kind of body language do you use at school, University and work place?

Middlelife Crisis (Revisited)

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is the definition of midlife crisis?
  2. Di you have your midlife crisis?
  3. Do you think everyone has a midlife crisis?
  4. What can you do to minimize midlife crisis?

Uniqueness

Vocabulary: 

Unique –not typical; unusual 
Characteristic – a distinguishing quality, attribute, or trait 
Extraordinary – very unusual, remarkable 
Exceptional -unusually excellent; superior
Astonish - to fill with surprise or wonder; amaze 
 

Feelings that drive us crazy

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you get annoyed when other people display bad manners? Could you give some examples?
  2. Do you get annoyed when someone cuts in front of you when you are waiting in line?
  3. Do you get angry when politicians make promises they can't keep?
  4. Do you get annoyed when you watch the news on TV and see all the terrible things happening in the world?
  5. Does it annoy you when shop assistants try to sell you things you don't need?

Сhildhood. Are we similar to our parents?

1. How are you similar to your parents? How are you different?

2. Were your parents super protective?At what age could you go
places by yourself? Did your parents always tell you what to do?

3. Did you play outside? What did you like to play? How long did you
play outside a day? Could you play outside all year long?

4. Did you play on the streets? Was it dangerous to play in the streets? What kind of things did you do in the streets? Did you ever have an accident while playing in the streets? What happened?

Is marriage an identity crisis?

In 1921, Stone's example inspired the journalist Ruth Hale to found the
Lucy Stone League, an American organization supporting women's rights
to keep and use their maiden names. Mentored by Helena Normanton, and
open to both women and men, the 'Lucy Stoners' challenged in federal
court any government edict that would not recognise a married woman by
the name she chose to use. Their slogan was "My name is my identity
and must not be lost." During the 1920s they succeeded in getting real

Superstitions

Reading: Most people in the world have similar superstitions. Here are some of them:

How Successful People Stay Calm

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

7 ways to quickly become a master at anything

There's a right way to learn. Want to be more successful? Actually that's not ambitious enough — want to be the best? I do. So I called my friend Daniel Coyle, author of the best books on getting better at anything: The Talent Code and The Little Book of Talent.

Dan knows that the "10,000 hour rule" is nice, but you need to align your effort with the way your brain was designed to learn. Hours are vital but you can get to mastery faster — much faster — by practicing the right way. So how can you and I do that? Here are seven steps experts use:

Dreams

Questions for discussion:

Encouragement

Questions for discussion:

  1. What do you do to encourage yourself when going through hard times? Does it work?
  2. Who do you talk to for encouragement and inspiration?
  3. What books offer encouragement and inspiration?
  4. Which of your family members encourage you most? How?
  5. How can discouragement help us to grow?
  6. What do you do when you feel depressed?
  7. What could someone do to encourage you when you feel depressed?
  8. What are some saying in your country that bring encouragement?

White Lies & Truthfulness

Questions for discussion:

  1. Are white lies good or bad?
  2. Is a white lie still classified a lie?
  3. Is it okay to tell white lies?
  4. Does telling a white lie make you a bad person? When is a white lie acceptable?
  5. What is truthfulness? What do we mean when we say that a person if truthful?

Teenagers: Why Do They Rebel?

Driving fast, breaking curfew, arguing, shoplifting. Teenagers can push your patience, but unfortunately, some kids go as far as blatantly flouting rules or breaking the law, often with tragic results. What's with this rebellious streak? How can parents funnel it into less risky business?

Do you complain too much? Or not enough?

Reading:

It started out innocently. I was attending brunch at a friend's house. The aroma of bacon and coffee wafted through the air; our infants napped contentedly. But before long, our chatting turned into moaning and groaning. One friend began complaining about her mother-in-law's behavior at a recent dinner. Another kvetched about his brother's out-of-control toddler. Yet another deplored her boss's ineptitude. Soon I was bad-mouthing my own mother, who had just visited. One small complaint had snowballed into an avalanche of dissatisfaction.

Creativity

Reading:

No matter what line of work you’re in, chances are the daily grind of schlepping to work (even if it’s just down the hall) and toiling away in an open office to do a job that doesn’t exactly tickle your fancy every day is enough to stifle your more creative urges.

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