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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'd very much recommend the book The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard Davidson.

I'll give you a little bit of an intro.
Richard Davidson is a neuroscientist, specifically in the fields of psychology and psychiatry.
He is a proponent of meditation, which is a central theme in his book, and has studied the neurological responses within the brains of those who have participated in both short and long term meditation practices. His work has been of much interest to the Dalai Lama, of whom has given Richard support in rallying long-term meditators for clinical study.

He very adequately explains the basis for truth in brain plasticity, meaning, which I think is overall the most important theme of the book, that the brain has the ability to change. Even in adulthood.
Older mainstream beliefs held that the brain was hardwired and became more 'set' in its ways when physical growth stopped. If you've kept up with recent neuro-chemical studies, you will find that this is no longer held in such high regard which we can largely attribute to the studies described in this book.

This book is the product of his motivation to explain the basis of what he calls our Emotional Styles and States, which he categorizes into the following six items.

1. Resilience [Slow to Recover <--> Fast to Recover] (ability to bounce back from emotional hardship or setbacks)

2. Outlook [Negative <--> Positive] (our preference towards a positive or negative outlook regarding future events)

3. Social Intuition [Puzzled <--> Socially Intuitive] (understanding of and attentiveness towards social patterns and responses within spoken and unspoken interactions, for example, knowing when a person wants to be left alone with only clues from body language)

4. Self-Awareness [Self-Opaque <--> Self-Aware] (introspective ability to mental states (emotions) and sensitivity to bodily responses to internal/external emotional stimuli, i.e. heart rate, breath rate, body temperature, etc.)

5. Attention [Unfocused <--> Focused] (ability to stay tuned to a singular object of focus, either within the mind or outside the self)

6. Sensitivity to Context [Tuned Out <--> Tuned In] (awareness to changes in situation and appropriate changes in response, e.g. knowing not to laugh at a funeral)

Each has a dimension of influence on your overall Emotional Style and each is backed up by studies of the chemical responses within the brain to standardized tests as monitored by an fMRI.

On a personal note, I check out as such:
Very High on the Resilience spectrum (unfortunate stuff just doesn't bother me and fades quickly from memory)
Mid-Low on the Outlook spectrum (immediate future things, not so good, long term things, much better)
Mid-High on the Social Intuition spectrum (I think I can read people relatively well)
Very High on the Self-Awareness spectrum (this may just be a product of being an INTP)
Mid-Low on the Attention spectrum (my mind goes everywhere, which I'm working to change)
Mid-High on the Sensitivity to Context spectrum (sometimes I miss certain cues, but I'm generally pretty aware of what I am and am not supposed to act like)

My mild depression is due partly to my inability to stay focused on positive tasks, negative outlook on immediate events, and high self-awareness, which when in a negative feedback loop becomes high self-consciousness. Ironically, my resilience hampers learning anything positive from such experiences because of my general attitude towards "don't worry, it's whatever". If I was maybe a little less resilient and a little bit more attentive, I think I would be more likely to really take a look at the things that have made me unhappy. I'm high on the self-awareness scale, but I do have occasional blind-spots.

Due to what I previously stated is the most important theme in the book, brain plasticity, I have the ability to change the circuitry of the chemical pathways in my head, with conscious thought, which I've already begun to do.
Yes, I've begun meditating. No, I never gave such a practice much honest consideration until now. Yes, I recommend it. Chapter 11 gives some pretty good instructions as to how to do so.

Self-improvement! Make it your battle-cry.

17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
or!!!!!! (see thread.)
Fuck it! Fuck everything! It don't matter! We're all going to die anyways! There's no need to deal with any of this shit! It doesn't matter if I want to help people that might not have this outlook! There's no reason for wanting other people to be happy! It's all just shit!
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