Source: Wikimedia Commons | Nobu Tamura People have long pondered what consciousness actually is. Consciousness seems very different from other biological functions—like some sort of nonmaterial essence within our heads. Thoughts and feelings seem ethereal, untethered from anything physical. Self-awareness seems like a phenomenon utterly divorced from anything that could possibly be produced by cells comprised of physical particles. People used to think of life itself that way too, and many still do. But biologists solved the enigma of what makes things alive mid-way through the twentieth century, the foundations of that understanding having been built over the preceding century. Before that, living things were believed to possess some sort of animating essence that accounted for their difference from inanimate matter. People could not imagine how the same material particles that comprise inanimate matter could be arranged in such a way as to make something alive , without … [Read more...] about What Actually Is Consciousness, and How Did It Evolve?
Winding staircase. Source: Monika Pejkovska/Unsplash. In many cultures, there is an embedded association between a person’s perceived “ wisdom ” and their capacity to give sound advice. As the adage goes, “with age comes wisdom.” But as research has shown, the soundness of advice has less to do with the adviser’s age or experience, and more to do with perspective. The “bible of positive psychology ”— Character Strengths and Virtues — identifies perspective as one of 24 key character strengths. By “perspective,” the editors and founders of the field mean one’s ability to weigh different points of view and see the bigger picture without getting caught up in the details. The troubling thing about most advice is that it lacks this crucial perspective. Our brains are wired to find patterns and build stories, so without conscious effort, we will default to the simplest, most familiar answer, which doesn’t make for great advice. Though we tend to focus on the content … [Read more...] about Finding Perspective in the Pause
Source: Pressmaster/Shutterstock There are many ways that someone can feel powerful in the world. Some of them involve social structure. For example, as a college professor, I have relatively more power than the students in my classes, but less power than the deans and administrators at my university. There are also personality factors that influence the feeling that you have power. People who have a high sense of self-efficacy or agency generally feel as though they have power in situations. There are also actions you can take to make yourself feel more powerful. An interesting set of studies published in the May 2018 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin by Michael Schaerer, Leigh Tost, Li Huang, Francesca Gino, and Rick Larrick suggests that giving advice to others can increase the feeling that you have power. In particular, the researchers suggest that when you advise someone else, it gives you the sense that someone may follow your advice. That … [Read more...] about Giving Advice Creates a Sense of Power