How to Use Stress to Your Advantage

Psychology, Uncategorized

Stress is usually characterized as an unpleasant and unwelcome feeling that expresses itself both physically and mentally. The effects of stress range from irritability and anxiety to raised blood pressure and heart disease. When you think of stress in these terms, it’s no wonder you spend so much time trying to manage or avoid it altogether.

But what if, instead of stressing over how to rid your life of stress, you focused on ways to use it to your advantage? What would happen if you perceived stress as a helpful companion with benefits to offer rather than as an irritating foe out to make your life harder?

As Dr. Kelly McGonigal describes in her book The Upside of Stress, it is this shift in mindset that allows you to have a healthier, even beneficial relationship with stress. Dr. McGonigal, a health psychologist, once shared the same stance a majority of health professionals have adopted: stress is bad and you need to eliminate it immediately before it affects your health. However, she discovered that perceiving stress through such a negative lens can actually be harmful to your health. On the other hand, when you view stress as a helpful tool and motivator, and learn how to harness it to your advantage, your health is less likely to be negatively affected. In fact, stress may actually be good for you if you learn to embrace it and use it properly.

Benefits of Stress

Often when you think of stress, the first thing to come to mind are its negative symptoms (i.e., panic, headache, tightening in the chest, etc.). But stress actually has an abundance of benefits to offer, such as:

Motivating Action

Stress can serve as a great motivator for reaching goals or accomplishing simple tasks. Whether it’s landing a new job promotion, meeting a deadline, or tackling a to-do list, a little stress can push you to take action. If you didn’t feel any stress at all, you might not feel inclined to break out of your comfort zone, which is essential for personal growth.

Building Resiliency

When you experience small amounts of stress, you are actually building up your resistance to future stressors. According to the American Psychological Association, over time humans are wired to adapt to stressful situations by building personal coping systems.

Boosting Cognitive Function

A 2013 study from the University of California – Berkeley found that acute stress can generate new nerve cells in the brain, improving cognitive and mental performance. According to the authors of the study, a certain amount of stress can promote:

  • Optimal levels of focus
  • Improved memory
  • Enhanced learning of new tasks

Using Stress to Your Advantage

If stress has its benefits, then how do you take advantage of them? How can you make stress work for you rather than against you?

Retrain Your Brain

As previously discussed, how you view stress can determine how it affects you. Retraining the brain to view stress as a helpful tool rather than a roadblock will take time as the latter has likely become deeply ingrained. While it will take some practice, it is possible to change your response when stress rears its head.

Replace the negative thoughts that typically arise at the first sign of stress with more positive ones, such as, I’m experiencing stress and welcome it fully. Then, think of how you could best use it to solve a problem or reach a goal. How can you make the stress work for you?

Tip: Don’t stress over trying to think of a way to best use stress! This strategy will get easier over time. If you’re unable to think of how to take advantage of whatever stressor you’re facing, simply accept that it’s there. Sit with it rather than flee from it.

Reframe Your Perspective

When you attach purpose to a difficult situation, it becomes easier to handle or, at the very least, motivates you to handle it. When you reframe stressors in order to add meaning to your life, you are giving your stress a positive purpose.

Perhaps its purpose is one of the above benefits discussed such as motivating behavior, building resilience, or boosting cognitive performance, or it could be something else entirely. Pairing stress with a purpose will allow you to broaden your perspective as to why it exists and the benefits it provides. 

Ask Why

Sometimes you feel stressed and can easily identify the cause; other times you’re unsure where it stems from. Pinpointing the root cause of your stress puts you in a position to work with it rather than against it. When you feel the symptoms of stress, either physically or psychologically, but don’t know what’s brought it on, you may feel as though you aren’t in control of what’s happening. However, identifying its origins and approaching it within a more positive framework puts you back in the driver’s seat.

Stress is a part of everyday life, and as much as you might try to will it away, it will inevitably creep up again. By making stress your ally, you can learn to use it to your advantage and perhaps even learn something new in the process. So next time you’re feeling stressed, accept it as part of the journey and embrace it whole-heartedly. You might be surprised by the result.

Democracy and political ignorance

Uncategorized

Political ignorance is far from the only factor that must be considered in deciding the appropriate size, scope, and centralization of government. For example, some large-scale issues, such as global warming, are simply too big to be effectively addressed by lower-level governments or private organizations
political leaders and influential interest groups often use public education to indoctrinate students in their own preferred ideology rather than increase knowledge.

indoctrination was one of the major motives for the establishment of public education in the first place.

A smaller, less complicated government is easier to keep track of.
Democracy and Political Ignorance is not a complete theory of the proper role of government in society. But it does suggest that the problem of political ignorance should lead us to limit and decentralize government more than we would otherwise.
The informational advantages of foot voting over ballot box voting strengthen the case for limiting and decentralizing government.
1 Ilya Somin, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013), ch. 1.
​3 Tony Blair, A Journey: My Political Life, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), 70-71.
6 Bryan Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).
8 Ibid. 110-17. For an important recent defense of this kind of argument, see Hélène Landemore, Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence and the Rule of the Many, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

The Influence of the Mass Media..?

Psychology, Uncategorized

http://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/paradox.html

 

‘This happens because the means or mechanisms by which public attention is attracted and sustained is almost irrelevant to the modern MassMedia.. This internal inconsistency arises simply because the specific content of media is subordinated to the guiding necessity to attract and sustain public attention in a competitive media environment.’

miley-cyrus-covers-glamour-may-2009

 

Nietzsche: ‘What does not kill us will make us stronger’.

media1

World War One executions

Uncategorized

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In World War One, the executions of 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers took place. Such executions, for crimes such as desertion and cowardice, remain a source of controversy with some believing that many of those executed should be pardoned as they were suffering from what is now called shell shock. The executions, primarily of non-commissioned ranks, included 25 Canadians, 22 Irishmen and 5 New Zealanders.

Between 1914 and 1918, the British Army identified 80,000 men with what would now be defined as the symptoms of shellshock. There were those who suffered from severe shell shock. They could not stand the thought of being on the front line any longer and deserted. Once caught, they received a court martial and, if sentenced to death, shot by a twelve man firing squad.
The horrors that men from all sides endured while on the front line can only be imagined.

“We went up into the front line near Arras, through sodden and devastated countryside. As we were moving up to our sector along the communication trenches, a shell burst ahead of me and one of my platoon dropped. He was the first man I ever saw killed. Both his legs were blown off and the whole of his body and face was peppered with shrapnel. The sight turned my stomach. I was sick and terrified but even more frightened of showing it.”
Victor Silvester.

With no obvious end to such experiences and with the whole issue of trench life being such a drain on morale, it is no wonder that some men cracked under the strain of constant artillery fire, never knowing when you would go over the top, the general conditions etc.

Senior military commanders would not accept a soldier’s failure to return to the front line as anything other than desertion. They also believed that if such behaviour was not harshly punished, others might be encouraged to do the same and the whole discipline of the British Army would collapse. Some men faced a court martial for other offences but the majority stood trial for desertion from their post, “fleeing in the face of the enemy”. A court martial itself was usually carried out with some speed and the execution followed shortly after.

Few soldiers wanted to be in a firing squad. Many were soldiers at a base camp recovering from wounds that still stopped them from fighting at the front but did not preclude them from firing a Lee Enfield rifle. Some of those in firing squads were under the age of sixteen, as were some of those who were shot for ‘cowardice’. James Crozier from Belfast was shot at dawn for desertion – he was just sixteen. Before his execution, Crozier was given so much rum that he passed out. He had to be carried, semi-conscious, to the place of execution. Officers at the execution later claimed that there was a very real fear that the men in the firing squad would disobey the order to shoot. Private Abe Bevistein, aged sixteen, was also shot by firing squad at Labourse, near Calais. As with so many others cases, he had been found guilty of deserting his post. Just before his court martial, Bevistein wrote home to his mother:
“We were in the trenches. I was so cold I went out (and took shelter in a farm house). They took me to prison so I will have to go in front of the court. I will try my best to get out of it, so don’t worry.”

Because of the ‘crimes’ committed by these men, their names were not put on war memorials after the war. Many of their nearest relatives were told that they had died in France/Belgium but werenever told how or why.

A French military observer witnessed one execution by the French Army:

“The two condemned were tied up from head to toe like sausages. A thick bandage hid their faces. And, a horrible thing, on their chests a square of fabric was placed over their hearts. The unfortunate duo could not move. They had to be carried like two dummies on the open-backed lorry, which bore them to the rifle range. It is impossible to articulate the sinister impression the sight of those two living parcels made on me.
The padre mumbled some words and then went off to eat. Two six-strong platoons appeared, lined up with their backs to the firing posts. The guns lay on the ground. When the condemned had been attached, the men of the platoon who had not been able to see events, responding to a silent gesture,
picked up their guns, abruptly turned about, aimed and opened fire. Then they turned their backs on the bodies and the sergeant ordered “Quick march!”
The men marched right passed them, without inspecting their weapons, without turning a head. No military compliments, no parade, no music, no march past; a hideous death without drums or trumpets.”

Whether these men will ever receive a posthumous pardon is open to speculation. It is said by the government that the evidence required to go down this route simply does not exist after all these years. It may well be that a blanket pardon for all 306 men is not justified as some of
the men executed may well have deserted and did not have shell shock.

One of the many reasons that anger the campaigners is that far more men deserted in the United Kingdom than in France/Belgium (four times) but that no-one was ever executed for desertion actually in the UK. The actual legal status of court martials has also been questioned. The accused did not have access to a formal legal representative who could defend him. Some got a ‘prisoner’s friend’ while many did not even have this. Legally, every court martial should have had a ‘judge advocate’ present but very few did. The night before an execution, a condemned man had the right to petition the King for clemency but none ever did which suggests that none were aware that they had this right. On January 13th 1915, General Routine Order 585 was issued which basically reversed the belief of being innocent until found guilty. Under 585, a soldier was guilty until sufficient evidence could be provided to prove his innocence.

Immediately after the war, there were claims that the executions of soldiers was a class issue. James Crozier was found guilty of deserting his post and was shot. Two weeks earlier, 2nd Lieutenant Annandale was found guilty of the same but was not sentenced to death due to “technicalities”. In the duration of the war, fifteen officers, sentenced to death, received a royal pardon. In the summer of 1916, all officers of the rank of captain and above were given an order that all cases of cowardice should be punished by death and that a medical excuse should not be tolerated. However, this was not the case if officers were found to be suffering from neurasthenia.

Footnote: In August 2006, the British Defence Secretary Des Browne announced that with Parliament’s support, there would be a general pardon for all 306 men executed in World War One.

A new law passed on November 8th 2006 and included as part of the Armed Forces Act has pardoned men in the British and Commonwealth armies who were executed in World War One. The law removes the stain of dishonour with regards to executions on war records but it does not cancel out sentences. Defence Secretary Des Browne said:

“I believe it is better to acknowledge that injustices were clearly done in some cases – even if we cannot say which – and to acknowledge that all these men were victims of war. I hope that pardoning these men will finally remove the stigma with which their families have lived for years.”
history learning site

Quiet people have the loudest minds…

Uncategorized

Quiet People Are Smarter/Deeper Than You.
Obviously, this one is put forth by some quiet people themselves, in a sort of overdefensive backlash against being treated like the weird, abnormal ones. History has always shown that the most sensible way to fix discrimination against one group is to turn around and discriminate against the other group instead. What’s the old saying? Two wrongs make a right? You see that kind of attitude in articles like this one, where the author talks about how introverts are “more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts,” and how extroverts’ conversation is “98-percent-content-free talk.” Or take this blog, which suggests you “feel bad for extraverts or as I like to call them: the life-disadvantaged.” It’s normal to be kind of resentful when you’re misunderstood, and it’s normal to feel like the universe should make it up to you by giving you some kind of positive trait to make up for it. I’m not sure if I should blame comic books for the common narrative of “everyone always treated me like I was weird and different but it turns out this weirdness is actually because I have special powers that make me better than them,” but it seems like everyone wants to play that card these days. Marvel Directory The X-Men are actually not as good a metaphor for real life as you would think. The same arguments we’re always making about how this or that trait of an introvert or quiet person isn’t wrong, just different, applies in reverse to extroverts. Maybe introverts don’t understand why extroverts need to talk so much or why they need so many friends and social events, but that’s not wrong either, it’s just different. You know, like Apple products. I don’t buy that introverts are necessarily smarter, either. I’ve met a ton of quiet, introverted people that were dumb as bricks. I do think it’s a lot easier to look smart when you don’t talk as much, because of that whole kung fu master vibe, and because anything stupid you think is less likely to come out of your mouth. On the other hand, I think there’s some virtue in being willing to take risks and say things that might be wrong, as long as you’re brave enough to fess up to and correct your mistake afterward. Basically, nobody’s wrong, except for people who aren’t willing to accept the other group of people they don’t understand.

an extroverts idea of a gathering of friends

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An extrovert’s intimate gathering of a few close friends. One common definition of the introvert/extrovert divide is that extroverts gain energy from being around people, whereas introverts spend energy when hanging around people.
http://nairanotes.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/quiet-people-have-the-loudest-minds/

‘Keep silent, and you will never regret it. Speak, and you often will.’

‘When you cannot praise, and there is no need to speak, keep quiet!’
http://www.josemariaescriva.info/article/the-way.

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