GGSC > How to Connect with What Matters to You

How to Connect with What Matters to You
June 25, 2020
Greater Good Science Center

Based on the Science of Happiness podcast episode “How to Deal with Uncertainty” (October 2018).

cynicism is cheap and lazy


Joan Borysenko: Resilience

Surviving And Thriving When Times Are Tough with Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.
October 22, 2014
by New Dimensions

“Resilience is that recognition that it’s not the end of the world. Furthermore, resilience is more than just bouncing back from the stress, like losing your house or losing your money. It’s an innate transformation, for example, understanding that happiness is an inside job.” She guides us through the warning signs of pessimism and the pitfalls of optimism, and offers up a wealth of suggestions for how we can develop what she calls “stress-hardiness”—to handle all of life’s challenges with resilience, equanimity, and inner peace. (hosted by Michael Toms)

Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. is a psychologist and cell biologist.  She holds a doctorate in medical sciences from Harvard Medical School, and has completed post-doctoral fellowships in behavioral sciences and psychoneuroimmunology. She is a pioneer in integrative medicine and a world-renowned exper t in the mind-body connection. She is a journalist and host of her own radio show.

She is the bestselling author of fourteen books including:
◦Minding the Body, Mending the Mind (De Capo Press 2007)
It’s Not the End of the World: Developing Resilience in Times of Change (Hay House 2009)
◦The PlantPlus Diet Solution: Personalized Nutrition for Life (Hay House 2014)

Topics explored in this dialogue include:
◦What first step you can take today to change your life for the better
◦When stress is a good thing
◦Why optimism can break your heart
◦How “burning out” can be a good thing
◦How you can find your balance when you feel overwhelmed

Molding reality so that it’s palatable

You & Your Brain – Julian Keenan

It turns out that even the most basic things we believe about ourselves are often wrong.
Neuroscientist Julian Keenan says it has to do with how the brain works.
He’s the author of the “Face in the Mirror: How We Know Who We Are.”

Cartesian Theater,”the idea that there’s someone inside my head looking at someone inside my head who’s looking at someone inside my head and you keep going in that circle.

one of the key components of the self is molding reality not so that it’s real but so that it’s palatable.

theory of mind
you can think about what I’m thinking about what you’re thinking about my thinking.
We can go back and forth with this like cognitive gymnastics where we get into each other’s minds.

more on depression and reality:

more on memory and time travel:



You Might Like:
Ethan Watters on the Globalization of the American Psyche »
Barbara Bradley Hagerty on “Fingerprints of God” »
Richard Nisbett on IQ »
Maryanne Wolf on Dyslexia as a Gift »
Siri Hustvedt on her Shaking Sickness »

The Optimism Bias

The Optimism Bias: Human Brain May Be Hardwired for Hope
By Tali Sharot
TIME. May 28, 2011,8599,2074067,00.html

We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures. We watch our backs, weigh the odds, pack an umbrella. But both neuroscience and social science suggest that we are more optimistic than realistic. On average, we expect things to turn out better than they wind up being. People hugely underestimate their chances of getting divorced, losing their job or being diagnosed with cancer; expect their children to be extraordinarily gifted; envision themselves achieving more than their peers; and overestimate their likely life span (sometimes by 20 years or more).

The belief that the future will be much better than the past and present is known as the optimism bias. It abides in every race, region and socioeconomic bracket. Schoolchildren playing when-I-grow-up are rampant optimists, but so are grownups: a 2005 study found that adults over 60 are just as likely to see the glass half full as young adults.

Collectively we can grow pessimistic — about the direction of our country or the ability of our leaders to improve education and reduce crime. But private optimism, about our personal future, remains incredibly resilient.
A survey conducted in 2007 found that while 70% thought families in general were less successful than in their parents’ day, 76% of respondents were optimistic about the future of their own family.


for more on depression and reality:

Is America Still The ‘Land Of Opportunity?’

Is America Still The ‘Land Of Opportunity?’
July 01, 2013

Is the old saying still true? Can you work your way up from the bottom today, to become an innovator and a leader? Host Michel Martin explores the skills you need to compete and succeed in school and beyond.


Shirley Ann Jackson, she’s president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She’s a theoretical physicist. She also happens to be the first African-American woman to lead a top-50 research university.

Joel Klein is a former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. He’s now the CEO of Amplify, the education division of News Corp.

Madeline Levine is a psychologist and author of “Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success.”

Paul Tough is a writer who’s been focusing on education for some time now. His latest book, “How Children Succeed,” is just out in paperback.

KLEIN: right now, increasingly, what you see is less and less mobility at the top colleges. You see fewer and fewer kids who grew up in poverty who are getting into those schools and those programs.

MARTIN: Antonio Villaraigosa said that the civil rights issue of our time is this issue of the achievement gap. It’s the democracy issue of our time. … If you want to be able to compete in the new economy, you have to have intellectual capital.

JACKSON: we get the product of the, primarily, the public school system, and there are issues with what we get,  … those things can range from how deep the knowledge is to what the maturity level of the young people turns out to be.

TOUGH: we’ve been focused very much in our school system and, I think, in many of our families on cognitive skills, on the sort of skills that get measured on standardized tests.
And as Shirley Ann is pointing out, those matter a lot when kids get to college, but they’re not all that matters.

There’s also this other set of skills that economists called non-cognitive skills, things like grit and perseverance, conscientiousness, optimism that matter a lot, especially at the college level.

LEVINE: At Stanford we just did a study, 95 percent of kids are cheating. It’s well-known.

KLEIN: as Paul has pointed out, they don’t have the grit, the determination, the stick-to-itiveness to grow.

JACKSON: it also would help to delineate where peoples’ skills and intelligences really are.
And there are multiple intelligences.

LEVINE: I think we need socioemotional learning in every classroom – Chicago’s doing a good job of integrating it – which means that, not as a separate course, but as part of how everything is taught.

KLEIN: Every place but education has gone through a technological revolution, and education is sitting still*. And I think the opportunities to empower our teachers, change the learning process, engage kids – I’ve seen it with the work we’re doing at Amplify, and I’ve been in schools that are using these products and how excited they are.

You want to get kids working together, give them the kind of quests we put them on.
Figure out in groups who killed Edgar Allen Poe and why.

* April 15, 2013