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The Importance of Self-Reflection

By Habits and Strategies, MasteringHappiness

In Greek and Roman Mythology, Narcissus stared at his own reflection, so absorbed in his own image he was oblivious to anybody else. The idealized image that he saw withdrew him from the world. He was in an emotional vacuum, devoid of anything but what he wanted to see.

But aside from Narcissus, and those suffering from the psychological condition of narcissism, our own self-reflection can provide us the kind of useful assessment that allows us to live up to our own standards.

Researchers Robert Wicklund and Shelley Duval discovered back in the 1970s that when people were in front of a mirror and told they were being filmed, those people changed their behavior in very positive ways. They worked harder, gave more accurate answers to questions, were more consistent in their actions, and acted more consistently with their values.

About a decade later, Charles Carver and Michael Scheier looked at this in more depth, and within their larger explorations of self-awareness and self-regulation, found something fascinating.

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Understanding Our Social Nature

By Habits and Strategies, MasteringHappiness

Our social nature has huge benefits, and underlies much of our resilience and success as a species. But it can also steer us in bad, sometimes disastrous directions, and can be used to manipulate us.

We are social creatures. We influence one another, we care about each other, we follow each other and are able to cooperate and act together as a team.

We’re also cultural creatures. We learn from each other – and learn most effectively by watching what other people do. It matters to us what other people say and think and do. The accumulated knowledge and habits and standards of the ages become part of our own self-concept.

For much of what we do, this works extremely well. For small bands of hunter gatherers, which is how mankind has spent most of our existence, it’s been essential for our survival and flourishing.

And yet these very qualities can be used against us to manipulate us into accepting, doing, and buying things that work against our deepest values, that we can come to regret, and that sometimes can lead us into horrible tragedy. They make cults possible; they make the most murderous regimes and criminal gangs possible. They allow us to be passive when emergency action is necessary. Read More

Building a Foundation of Safety and Trust

By Habits and Strategies, MasteringHappiness

There’s a vow that, if taken by romantic couples, would go a long way toward establishing safety and trust, and limiting much of the pain that couples commonly experience – much of the pain that couples commonly inflict upon one another.

There will be pain in any relationship, we hurt each other without even trying. There’s plenty of conflict in the very best of relationships. John Gottman has found in his research that in successful marriages about 69% of conflicts never get resolved. So a happy marriage isn’t about the absence of conflict, or an absence of hurt.

It all comes down to how we treat each other given that there is conflict, and times when we unintentionally hurt each other.

In other words, it’s what we do or do not do intentionally that makes the difference.

The vow that I suggest to make between the two of you is this:

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By MasteringHappiness
Joel F. Wade, Ph.D.

7960-B Soquel Drive, #157, Aptos, CA USA 95003

Phone: (831) 464-3374


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