The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain – @sjblakemore «Simple, educational a brilliant lesson»!


by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically «teenage» behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain.

Three Keys to (Much) Better Decisions

The simple act of making decisions, says the researcher Roy Baumeister, progressively depletes our ability to make them well. We begin to experience something called «decision fatigue.» Worse yet, we’re often not even consciously aware of feeling tired and impaired.

Here’s how the brain compensates: As much as 95 percent of the time, it makes decisions automatically, by habit, or in reaction to an external demand. So what would it take to intentionally make better decisions in a world of infinite choices?

The answer begins with self-awareness. Our first challenge is resist being reactive. Many of our worst decisions occur after we’ve been triggered — meaning that something or someone pushes us into negative emotion and we react instinctively, fueled by our stress hormones, in a state of fight or flight.

That’s all well and good if there’s a lion charging at you. It’s not very useful in everyday life. Most of the time, it makes more sense to live by the Golden Rule of Triggers: Whatever you feel compelled to do, don’t.

If you respond out of a compulsion, you haven’t made an intentional choice. It may feel right — even righteous — in the moment, but it’s more likely to exacerbate the problem than solve it.

Here are three keys to making really good decisions:

1. The first key is not to make bad ones. That begins with self- awareness — becoming more attentive to the physical signs that you’re feeling a sense of threat. The most common ones are tightness in any part of your body, more rapid breathing, and the experience of anger or fear. The intensity of an emotion is not a reason to act on it.

Instead, when you recognize what’s happening in your body, take a couple of deep breaths — breathe in to a count of three, out to a count of six. Then feel your feet, which will ground you back in reality.

All you’re trying to do here is buy time. It’s only when you quiet your physiology that you can think clearly and reflectively about how best to respond.


Tony Schwartz

TONY SCHWARTZ
http://blogs.hbr.org

Tony Schwartz is the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything. Become a fan of The Energy Project on Facebook and connect with Tony at Twitter.com/TonySchwartz and Twitter.com/Energy_Project.

Recently, I came across this startling statistic. Each day, we make an average of 217 food-related decisions. Is it any surprise we so often make poor choices about what we eat?

The simple act of making decisions, says the researcher Roy Baumeister, progressively depletes our ability to make them well. We begin to experience something called «decision fatigue.» Worse yet, we’re often not even consciously aware of feeling tired and impaired.

Here’s how the brain compensates: As much as 95 percent of the time, it makes decisions automatically, by habit, or in reaction to an external demand. So what would it take to intentionally make better decisions in a world of infinite choices? Continuar leyendo «Three Keys to (Much) Better Decisions»

Why You Need to Make Your Life More Automatic

How different would your life be, after all, if you could get yourself to sleep 8 hours at night, exercise every day, eat healthy foods in the right portions, take time for reflection and renewal, remain calm and positive under stress, focus without interruption for sustained periods of time, and prioritize the work that matters most?

Right now, the vast majority of what we do each day occurs automatically. We’re often triggered, as these authors make vividly clear, by subtle cues we’re not even aware of — a smell, a visual image, a familiar sight. These cues prompt us to move away from any potential pain and discomfort, no matter how minimal, and toward immediate reward and gratification, no matter how fleeting.

The primary role of our prefrontal cortex is to bias the brain towards doing the «harder» thing. Unfortunately, our rational capacity is often overwhelmed by the power of our own most visceral and primitive desires.

We’re often captive to our biochemistry. When the neurotransmitter dopamine is triggered, for example, what we feel is craving, not pleasure. This explains not just why we fall into a range of self-destructive addictions, but also why we don’t take better care of ourselves and make wiser choices day in and day out.

The solution is to learn how to co-opt the more primitive habit-forming regions of our brains, so that rather than reinforcing our negative impulses, they become the soil in which we build positive rituals that serve our long term interests.


Tony Schwartz

TONY SCHWARTZ
http://blogs.hbr.org/

Tony Schwartz is the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything. Become a fan of The Energy Project on Facebook and connect with Tony at Twitter.com/TonySchwartz and Twitter.com/Energy_Project.

Why is it that three prominent books published just during the past several months focused on the subject of willpower?

The first answer is that neuroscience has finally begun to open a window into the complex way our brains respond to temptation and what it takes to successfully exercise choice.

Second, a raft of recent studies have shown that the capacity for self-control — even more than genetic endowment or material advantage — fuels a range of positive outcomes in life, including more stable relationships, higher paying and more satisfying work, more resilience in the face of setbacks, better health, and greater happiness.

Finally, these books — WillpowerThe Willpower Instinct, andThe Power of Habit — are a response to an increasingly evident need. Demand in our lives is truly outpacing our capacity.

The sheer number of choices we must make each day — what foods to eat, what products to buy, what information merits our attention, what tasks to prioritize — can be overwhelming. As Roy Baumeister puts it in Willpower, «Self-regulation failure is the major social pathology of our time.» Continuar leyendo «Why You Need to Make Your Life More Automatic»

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