Summary of “Today’s Biggest Threat: The Polarized Mind”

As psychologists concerned with the social and psychological bases of human destructiveness, and as dedicated observers of history, we have arrived at the conclusion that so much of what we call human depravity seems to be based on a principle termed “The polarized mind.” The polarized mind is the fixation on a single point of view to the utter exclusion of competing points of view, and it has caused more human torment and misery than virtually any other factor.
As citizens of very different and sometimes clashing civilizations, the United States and Iran respectively, we also have a unique vantage point on the polarized mind.
While so many theories of human destructiveness are associated with regional customs, mores and histories, we have observed the polarized mind at work in widely divergent cultural, ethnic and economic circumstances.
We are in complete agreement that the polarized mind is one of the major threats to humanity, not just isolated parts of the world.
Our empirically based studies, for example, have indicated that mindlessness-a condition of narrowed perception and reactivity-is a chief and cross-cultural feature of the polarized mind; while mindfulness, an attitude of heightened awareness or presence, is a cardinal feature of the depolarized mind, associated with capacity for discovery, creativity and well-being.
What is the basis for the polarized mind? While there are many contributing factors, from family and cultural conditioning to scarcity of resources to availability of weapons to neuropsychological dispositions, the common denominators among all these factors appears to be fear and anxiety.
The polarized mind has thus become associated with a range of extremist behaviors from despotism to racism to xenophobia to the obsession with power and control.
Such cycles are evident in history: whenever people experience individual or collective trauma, such as wars, economic collapse and personal or cultural displacement, and they are unable to acquire the psychosocial support necessary to address these upheavals, the polarized mind is likely to predominate.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Scientists Say Your “Mind” Isn’t Confined to Your Brain, or Even Your Body”

You may compliment someone’s great mind, or say they are out of their mind.
Traditionally, scientists have tried to define the mind as the product of brain activity: The brain is the physical substance, and the mind is the conscious product of those firing neurons, according to the classic argument.
Growing evidence shows that the mind goes far beyond the physical workings of your brain.
Our mind cannot be confined to what’s inside our skull, or even our body, according to a definition first put forward by Dan Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine and the author of the 2016 book, Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human.
“You can’t limit our understanding of the coastline to insist it’s one or the other. I started thinking, maybe the mind is like the coastline-some inner and inter process. Mental life for an anthropologist or sociologist is profoundly social. Your thoughts, feelings, memories, attention, what you experience in this subjective world is part of mind.”
Siegel says integration-whether that’s within the brain or within society-is the foundation of a healthy mind.
“In our modern society we have this belief that mind is brain activity and this means the self, which comes from the mind, is separate and we don’t really belong. But we’re all part of each others’ lives. The mind is not just brain activity. When we realize it’s this relational process, there’s this huge shift in this sense of belonging.”
In other words, even perceiving our mind as simply a product of our brain, rather than relations, can make us feel more isolated.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why we are hard-wired to worry, and what we can do to calm down”

Worry is when that vital planning gets the better of us and occupies our attention to no good effect.
We’ve all experienced moments of flow, times when our attention is just effortlessly absorbed in what we are doing.
Studies carried out in real time confirm an increase in happiness when people can focus attention on what they are doing, rather than when their minds are wandering.
The reason can be found in the activity of linked brain regions, such as the default mode network, that become active when our attention is not occupied with a task.
Mindfulness training, for example, asks students to direct their attention to the sensations of breathing.
Despite repeated resolve, a person finds that, within seconds, attention has effortlessly defaulted to planning daydreams.
Mindfulness makes us more aware of these preoccupations and reorients attention to the senses.
Don’t expect attention to stay there; it won’t.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Reduce Digital Distractions: Advice From Medieval Monks”

The mind was the root problem: it is an inherently jumpy thing.
These innovative social spaces were assumed to function most optimally when monks had guidelines about how to do their jobs.
For these monks, the meditating mind wasn’t supposed to be at ease.
There were many theories in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages about the connection between the mind and body.
Most Christians agreed that the body was a needy creature whose bottomless appetite for food, sex and comfort held back the mind from what mattered most.
The mind loves stimuli such as colour, gore, sex, violence, noise and wild gesticulations.
If a nun wanted to really learn something she’d read or heard, she would do this work herself, by rendering the material as a series of bizarre animations in her mind.
The process also keeps their minds occupied with something that feels palpable and riveting.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Bruce Lee’s Writings on Willpower, Emotion, Reason, Memory, Imagination, and Confidence”

Although Bruce Lee is best known for his legendary legacy in martial arts and film, he was also one of the most underappreciated philosophers of the twentieth century, instrumental in introducing Eastern traditions to Western audiences.
Hollywood eventually had to relent and it was precisely the philosophical dimension that rendered the movie – just before the release of which Lee met his untimely death – a cultural icon and a beacon of racial empowerment associated with the Black Power movement, later acquired by the Library of Congress as a “Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” artifact.
Lee saw philosophy as inseparable from everyday life, just as he saw the mind as inseparable from the body, each end of the battery constantly charging the other.
Photograph courtesy of the Bruce Lee Foundation archive.
In these notes to himself, Lee articulated his personal philosophies aimed concretely at his own growth but resonating with universally applicable insight into our common psychology, behavior, and human nature.
Archival material with exclusive permission from the Bruce Lee Foundation archive.
Complement with Lee on the crucial difference between pride and self-esteem, then tune into the excellent new Bruce Lee podcast, in which Lee’s daughter, Shannon, and creative director Sharon Lee unpack his philosophies and discuss how the abiding ideas behind each of his tenets apply to various aspects of our modern lives.
You can help keep his legacy alive with a donation to the Bruce Lee Foundation.

The orginal article.

Summary of “This Is The Mind-Set You’ll Need In Order To Thrive In The Future Of Work”

To stay competitive, we need to get comfortable making difficult, complicated, higher-order decisions more regularly-until we’ve achieved what Harvard psychologist Robert Kegan refers to as “Immunity to change.”
It isn’t about turning yourself into a superhuman or somehow making yourself “Smarter.” It simply means tapping into the potential that your mind is already hardwired to possess.
Meet Your “Self-Transforming” Mind In his 2009 book, Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization, Kegan makes no bones about the difficulty of the challenge.
One level higher is the “Self-authoring” mind-set, and above that is the “Self-transforming” mind.
It recalls F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Test of a first-rate intelligence,” which he defined as the “Ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
There may be some other, more straightforward brain hacks to train your mind so you’re less blindsided by future events.
Then ask yourself who else is in the room and set out a chair for each of them, which may include the angry part of you, the fearful part, or even the part that’s excited by possibilities for change.
“By addressing conflicting internal perspectives this way, complex cognitive changes begin to happen.” This one-person game of musical chairs that you’re enacting in physical space is similar to the one you’re training your mind to undertake when it faces complex challenges.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Pay Attention!”

Pay attention! How much about our current situation, our life and times, may be locked in that simple and rather commonplace instruction? Pay attention! To have been a student-and most of us have been-is no doubt to have heard the phrase directed at you.
Paying attention is not unrelated to discharging a debt, to offering tribute, to giving the entity that demands the attention something akin to cash.
“I made myself pay attention, even though what he was saying was boring.” “It wasn’t easy to pay attention to him, but I did.” There’s a tribute involved.
As a culture, we have a case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or at least the attention deficit part.
The capacity to pay attention is critical to the life of absorption.
In our culture, I believe we ask too many people to pay attention too much of the time-and give them nothing back for it but sustenance.
Under the reign of the computer, jobs are more and more about attention: Get it right, pay attention to detail, fill out the chart, and fill it out again.
In short, if attention does not lead to absorption, or if there is little possibility of absorption in a given life, then there will be deficits of attention.

The orginal article.

Summary of “On the Tranquility of Mind”

In our quest to do the best we can, we are apt to defeat ourselves by pushing against life with the brute force of uncalibrated ambition, razing our peace of mind on the sharp-edged sense that there is always more to achieve.
Nothing is so bitter that a calm mind cannot find comfort in it.
With the omission of those things which either cannot be done, or can only be done with difficulty, let us follow the things which are placed near at hand and which offer encouragement to our hopes; but let us remember that all things are equally unimportant, presenting a different appearance on the outside, but equally empty within.
Whatever seems lofty is dangerous Those whom an unfavorable fortune has placed in a critical position will be safer if they eliminate pride from their proud circumstances and bring down their fortune as much as possible to a lowly state.
Nothing will free us from these disturbances of the mind so well as always fixing some limit to our advancement.
Untamed ambition, Seneca admonishes, stands in the way of meeting life on its own terms with calm consent – acceptance that is the supreme prerequisite for tranquility of mind.
The wise man does not need to walk about timidly or cautiously: for he possesses such self-confidence that he does not hesitate to go to meet fortune nor will he ever yield his position to her: nor has he any reason to fear her, because he considers not only slaves, property, and positions of honor, but also his body, his eyes, his hands, – everything which can make life dearer, even his very self, as among uncertain things, and lives as if he had borrowed them for his own use and was prepared to return them without sadness whenever claimed.
Whenever he is ordered to return them, he will not complain to fortune, but will say: “I thank you for this which I have had in my possession. I have indeed cared for your property, – even to my great disadvantage, – but, since you command it, I give it back to you and restore it thankfully and willingly” If nature should demand of us that which she has previously entrusted to us, we will also say to her: “Take back a better mind than you gave: I seek no way of escape nor flee: I have voluntarily improved for you what you gave me without my knowledge; take it away.” What hardship is there in returning to the place whence one has come? That man lives badly who does not know how to die well.

The orginal article.

Summary of “5 exercises to help stop believing your unwanted automatic thoughts |”

This happens because we’re programmed to notice the world as structured by our thoughts but we miss the fact that we are the ones thinking these thoughts.
The first step in making the pivot away from believing our automatic thoughts is to become aware of just how complicated our thought processes are.
To get a look at how automatic and circuitous your own thinking is, take a minute to point your thoughts in any direction of your choosing.
That difference explains how defusion exercises weaken the link between automatic thoughts and behavior.
No matter how good you are at defusion, your mind will keep forming new thoughts that you’ll naturally fuse with.
As you listen to your thoughts and notice when your mind starts to chatter, answer it back with something like, “Thanks for that thought, George. Really – thank you.” If you speak to your mind dismissively, it will continue right on problem-solving, so be sincere.
Your mind will probably push back with thoughts like, “That’s silly – that won’t help!” Respond again with, “Thanks for that thought, George. Thank you – I really do see how you are trying to be of use.” You might consider inviting it to comment further by replying “Got anything else you have to say?”.
By practicing exercises like these, we can start laying down unhelpful thoughts that have driven us for years.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Walking as Creative Fuel”

“Every walk is a sort of crusade,” Thoreau wrote in his manifesto for the spirit of sauntering.
Who hasn’t walked – in the silence of a winter forest, amid the orchestra of birds and insects in a summer field, across the urban jungle of a bustling city – to conquer some territory of their interior world? Artist Maira Kalman sees walking as indispensable inspiration: “I walk everywhere in the city. Any city. You see everything you need to see for a lifetime. Every emotion. Every condition. Every fashion. Every glory.” For Rebecca Solnit, walking “Wanders so readily into religion, philosophy, landscape, urban policy, anatomy, allegory, and heartbreak.”
Perched midway in time between Thoreau and Solnit is a timeless celebration of the psychological, creative, and spiritual rewards of walking by the Scottish writer Kenneth Grahame, best known for the 1908 children’s novel The Wind in the Willows – a book beloved by pioneering conservationist and marine biologist Rachel Carson, whose own splendid prose about nature shares a kindred sensibility with Grahame’s.
Titled “The Fellow that Goes Alone” and only ever published in Peter Green’s 1959 biography Kenneth Grahame, it serenades “The country of the mind” we visit whenever we take long solitary walks in nature.
Nature’s particular gift to the walker, through the semi-mechanical act of walking – a gift no other form of exercise seems to transmit in the same high degree – is to set the mind jogging, to make it garrulous, exalted, a little mad maybe – certainly creative and suprasensitive, until at last it really seems to be outside of you and as if it were talking to you whilst you are talking back to it.
Then everything gradually seems to join in, sun and the wind, the white road and the dusty hedges, the spirit of the season, whichever that may be, the friendly old earth that is pushing life firth of every sort under your feet or spell-bound in a death-like winter trance, till you walk in the midst of a blessed company, immersed in a dream-talk far transcending any possible human conversation.
All these are only the by-products, the casual gains, of walking alone.
Complement with poet May Sarton’s sublime ode to solitude, Robert Walser on the art of walking, and Thoreau on the singular glory of winter walks, then revisit Rebecca Solnit’s indispensable cultural history of that art.

The orginal article.