Want To Be More Patient? Practice Gratitude

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Want To Be More Patient? Practice Gratitude
Patience — it’s good, but notoriously hard, to have. Now, a new study shows a potential way to increase it: Have gratitude.

Published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers from Northeastern University, the University of California, Riverside, and Harvard University found that feelings of gratitude are associated with increased patience in the context of a test where waiting leads to a greater monetary reward.

“Showing that emotion can foster self-control and discovering a way to reduce impatience with a simple gratitude exercise opens up tremendous possibilities for reducing a wide range of societal ills from impulse buying and insufficient saving to obesity and smoking,” study researcher Ye Li, an assistant professor in the School of Business Administration at the University of California, Riverside, said in a statement.

In the study, 75 study participants were asked to write down the details of an event that made them feel happy, an event that made them feel grateful, or the events of a typical day. They were also asked to indicate on a five-point scale how happy or grateful they felt at the current time.

Then, the participants underwent the next part of the experiment, where they were given the opportunity to pick a cash amount — a lower one that would be paid out that day, or a a higher one that would be paid out anywhere from a week to six months later. The lower cash amounts ranged form $11 to $80, while the higher cash amounts ranged from $25 to $85.

Researchers found that gratitude seemed to predict the ability to wait longer for a greater financial reward. Specifically, the average person who was grateful needed to have $63 immediately in order to forgo receiving a higher amount of money — $85 — in three months. Meanwhile, the average neutral or happy person needed just $55 immediately in order to forgo receiving the $85 three months later.

“Comparing gratitude’s effects to those of happiness, the results also confirm the importance of more narrowly parsing the influence of positive emotional states within the context of economic choice,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Need even more incentive to be grateful? Check out these 10 healthy reasons:

Sleep Your Way to Creativity and 9 More Sure Fire Methods for More Ideas
It’s hard to keep track of everything we learn about creativity. One day I’m adjusting the temperature in my workspace, and the next I’m trying to put off creative work until I’m tired.

If you’re in the same boat, and you find it’s difficult to remember what will improve your creativity and when you should do your most creative work, hopefully this list will help you get it all straight.

1. Your brain does better creative work when you’re tired.

Unlike solving an analytical problem, creative insights come from letting our minds wander along tangents and into seemingly unrelated areas. Though many of us identify as morning larks or night owls, peaking in our problem-solving skills and focus at particular times of the day, creative thinking actually works better at non-optimal times. So, if you’re a morning lark, your brain will be better at finding creative insights at night, when you’re tired.

The reason behind this is that a tired brain struggles to filter out distractions and focus on one thing. It’s also more likely to wander off on tangents. While that seems like a bad thing when you’re working, creative thinking actually benefits from distractions and random thoughts. Research has shown that we’re better at “thinking outside the box” at our non-optimal times.

2. Exercise can improve your creativity.

We know exercise is good for us for lots of reasons, but here’s one more. Studies have shown that exercise can improve our ability to think creatively. When researchers had half the participants in a study perform an exercise video while the other half simply watched a video, those who had exercised outperformed the others in terms of divergent thinking — or, coming up with more possible solutions to a problem.

exercise and divergent thinking creativity

I love the way it’s explained in this Pyschology Today article:

Sweat is like WD-40 for your mind — it lubricates the rusty hinges of your brain and makes your thinking more fluid. Exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas that are buried in the subconscious.

3. Ambient noise levels are best for creativity.

I actually thought silence might turn out to be the best sound for creative thinking, but it turns out that ambient noise levels are just right. Unlike loud music or silence, ambient noise levels have proven to be perfect for improving creative thinking.

Silence, in fact, actually helps us to sharpen our focus, so it’s useful for intense problem-solving or detail-oriented tasks. Creative thinking, on the other hand, requires the kind of ambient buzz of sound that you might find in a café to promote broader thinking and new ideas.

So much so that tools like Coffitivity exist to bring that ambient café sound to your desk:

creative environment - coffitivity

4. Nothing is original: Creativity is all about making connections.

I always thought creativity was about coming up with original ideas, but it turns out creativity is really just about making new connections between existing ideas. This is pretty exciting, because it means creativity suddenly seems less scary: we can all connect things that already exist, right?

Even Steve Jobs agrees with this theory of what creativity is all about:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.”

Another quote I love about this is by the artist Austin Kleon:

Every artist gets asked the question, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’

The honest artist answers, ‘I steal them.’

Research has even found that intelligence is something that comes from physical connections in the brain:

Several brain regions, and the connections between them, were what was most important to general intelligence.

brain connection general intelligence

The brain regions important for general intelligence are found in several specific places (orange regions shown on the brain on the left). Looking inside the brain reveals the connections between these regions, which are particularly important to general intelligence. In the image on the right, the brain has been made partly transparent. The big orange regions in the right image are connections (like cables) that connect the specific brain regions in the image on the left.

5. Traveling abroad might improve your creative thinking.

The research on this one is still small, but one study showed that for college students, those who travelled abroad scored higher on creative thinking tests than those who stayed at their main campus. This particular study followed students who travelled from their college in the U.S. to take part in a summer study program in England.

In many countries, cultural norms differ greatly between different states or areas, so it follows that we might see an increase in creativity from even interstate travel.

6. Dim lighting makes us feel more free.

I like a lot of natural light in my workspace, and I get quite frustrated in dark rooms when I need to focus. However, I was surprised to find this research that proved dim lighting can improve creative performance.

The researchers completed six different studies, which all showed that dim lighting increased creativity. They found that even without noticing a difference in visibility, if the lighting around them was dim, participants were likely to be more creative. The reasoning came from the subconscious feeling of being more free to explore:

… darkness elicits a feeling of being free from constraints and triggers a risky, explorative processing style.

For times when you don’t have control over the lighting around you, you can just think about being in the dark and it could have an effect:

Other experiments found that merely priming the idea of darkness — such as by taking five minutes to describe an experience of literally being in the dark, and recalling how it felt — was sufficient to boost creativity.

7. Blue and green can improve your performance on creative tasks.

tree on hill

Color me surprised. Apparently a brief glimpse of green can improve your creative performance! Another study actually shows that seeing red or blue can have different effects on our cognitive performance: Red helps us with detail-oriented tasks where we need to focus, whereas blue enhances creative performance.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to paint your office blue or green, but it’s a helpful tip to keep in mind when you’re working on a creative project or switching between different types of work.

8. Constraints can be beneficial to creative work.

constrained art

Another idea I had about creative thinking which was proved wrong is that freedom leads to more creative ideas. Counterintuitively, it turns out that constraints can actually increase our creative output. This could be due to removing the overwhelm of having too many choices. If you’ve ever faced the hurdle of a blank page, you’ll know what I mean.

Writer and actor John Cleese describes creativity as something that can be so elusive that one almost has to trap it using constraints.

You have to create boundaries of space and then you have to create boundaries of time.

One of my favorite examples of amazing creativity coming out of constraints is an old story in which an author (often Ernest Hemingway, but the true author is debatable) bet his friends that he could write a whole story using just six words. Here’s the result:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

9. A separate, messy desk can improve your creativity.

I’ve never been a fan of having a messy desk, but I’m starting to think I might need to. This research proved that a messy environment leads to more creative thinking. It also encouraged participants subconsciously to be more drawn to new things than anything labelled as “classic.”

The study also found that a more orderly environment led participants to be more generous and choose healthier snacks than those in the messy environment. Perhaps the answer is to have two work spaces, for different types of work, as writer Austin Kleon does:

His digital desk in the background is where his analytical work takes place, while the foreground is home to his messy, analog desk for creative thinking tasks.

10. Being sleepy can make you more creative.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt especially ready to work when I’m still waking up. This period of coming out of sleep is called the hypnopompic state. We often end up with strong visual images lingering from our dreams when we wake out of REM sleep, when most of our dreaming happens. For this reason, lots of artists have coveted this just-waking-up period to improve their creative thinking.

Famous surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, was known for using the hypnopompic state to help him generate creative ideas. He would often nap in a chair, holding a spoon in his hand. Under the spoon, on the floor, was a tin plate. When he drifted off to sleep, he’d drop the spoon, and the clattering noise it made on the plate would wake him up, helping him to latch onto those vivid images that occur in our dreams.

dali painting

There’s a lot to remember in here, and no doubt I’ve missed more studies about how to improve your creative thinking. Changing one thing at a time about your process or working environment could eventually lead you to incorporating more of these into your day.

What works best for your creative thinking? Let us know in the comments.

P.S. If you liked this post, you might also like: How to Optimize Your Environment for Creativity with The Perfect Temperature, Lighting and Noise Levels and The Psychology Behind Brainstorming: Why It Doesn’t Always Work and 4 Ways To Get Ideas More Consistently.

Image credits: deadstar 2.1, NCBI, Hugh MacLeod, PNAS, *Kicki*, Bert Kaufmann, Michael Johansson, Austin Kleon, ahisgett

This Graffiti Art Proves You Can Find Encouragement Anywhere (PHOTOS)
The stress and strain of constantly being connected can sometimes take your life — and your well-being — off course. GPS For The Soul can help you find your way back to balance.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others’ stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing “secret weapons” that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony, or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to look at the GPS Guide below, visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

Sometimes the words you need to hear on a rough day are hidden in the most unlikely places. Instead of seeking inspiration in the same spaces, look around you — what you need to hear could be placed on buildings, signs or below your feet. If you’re feeling down and need a little encouragement, check out the graffiti art below. You’ll feel uplifted in no time!

For more GPS Guides, click here.

Smartphones: We Created You and We Can Destroy You
We are at a crossroads with smartphones. We have to make an important decision. We have to decide if we’re going to let them control us or if we are going to grab them by the arm, swat them on the butt, and say, “Now listen, you’re getting too big for your britches. You are living in my pocket and I’m paying your monthly service fees, so you’re going to follow my rules. And if you don’t, you’re going to bed without a charge.”

Just like kids, smartphones need boundaries. Here are five boundaries you must put in place if you want to take back control of your smartphone.

1) Don’t let them interrupt:
“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, watch me!” your smartphone says as it beeps and buzzes with text after tweet after Facebook notification.

“Honey, just a minute. The grown-ups are talking,” you say to your phone. Would you let your 4-year-old interrupt a conversation? Of course not! You’re not raising a rude child. Don’t let the silicon screamer interrupt a conversation either. Commit to finishing a conversation before checking the text. It can wait.

2) Only let them speak when spoken to:
My grandpa used to say, “When I was a kid, you only spoke when spoken to.” That applies to smartphones, too. Put it on silent — all the time. What about emergencies? This is where it gets really cool. Kids aren’t allowed to call you at work any time they have a silly question or just want to say hi. They have rules they must follow. Your phone needs rules, too. There are lots of ways to silence your phone except for certain numbers like the day care, your job, spouse, elderly parents or kids. Here is how to do it for the iPhone and for Android.

3) Get a sitter:
Sometimes you need to have some mommy-and-daddy (or mommy-and-mommy, or daddy-and-daddy) time. Before cell phones, when you went out to eat at a restaurant, you would leave the number of the restaurant with anyone who might need to get ahold of you in an emergency. That still works today. Leave your phone at home for at least one social event per week. Smartphones are okay to stay home by themselves, as long as they understand not to open the door for strangers.

4) Give them a bedtime:
It is important that kids get adequate sleep, but another benefit of kids going to bed early is that it gives the grown-ups some time to themselves. Smartphones need a bedtime, too. Put them to bed (outside of the bedroom, in case you want to have sex) at a reasonable hour. Then they will be all charged up (pun intended… carefully planned, actually) and ready for a new day tomorrow.

5) Make them run errands:
“Go give the mail to mommy,” you might say to a child. Kids love passing along messages or running small errands. Smartphones are great for that, too. Set up your phone so that you can send emails but can’t receive them (here’s how). This is wonderful. If you think of something you need to tell someone or something you can’t forget to do, just send an email or send yourself a reminder. That’s it. You’re done. No need to deal with the incoming email until it’s time to do so. Email sent and you’re back to living your life.

Technology wasn’t invented for technology’s sake. It was invented to make your life easier. It’s supposed to help you spend more time living your life and less time sustaining it. Use it that way. Time is all you have. Use technology as a tool to enjoy more of your time instead of an obligation that takes you away from living your life.

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