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Personal Growth

Extraordinary Experiences Are Socially Isolating (So Next Time, Take a Friend)

Having a much more interesting time with life than your peers is a recipe for social isolation, according to a report published in Psychological Science.

Think twice before motorbiking across India or seeking out other extraordinary experiences, say a team of Ph.D. students studying the effects of great experience on conversation. Having a much more interesting time with life than your peers is a recipe for social isolation, according to their report published in Psychological Science. In an experiment which supported the group’s conclusion, individuals given a very interesting video to watch later felt excluded when the majority of the group had watched a far more boring video. Contrary to what the people who watched the interesting video expected, conversation seems to thrive on the mundane.


“Participants expected an extraordinary experience to leave them feeling better than an ordinary experience at all points in time,” the authors wrote. In other words, we think seeing or doing amazing things will make us feel better than people who haven’t; it actually makes us feel worse.

A similar study reports that experiencing intense events with another person, even if they are a stranger, results in yet a more intense experience whether it’s eating a piece of chocolate or jumping out of an airplane. So if you are set on having a great time, do it with another person. You’ll have a fuller experience and have someone to talk to about it.

In his Big Think interview, writer Robert Stone recounts some of the harrowing adventures he took on his path toward recounting them on the page:

Read more at the Atlantic

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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It’s plain to see that I’m an optimist, sometimes more than is socially comfortable. The ease with which I dismiss the disastrous economic decline above serves as one example of that. I wrote that the recession will benefit our political system, and, before I cut this line, as having “rewarded our company for methodical execution and ruthless efficiency by removing competitors from the landscape.” I make no mention of the disastrous effects on millions of people, and the great uncertainty that grips any well-briefed mind, because it truly doesn’t stand in the foreground of my mind (despite suffering personal loss of wealth). Our species is running towards a precipice with looming dangers like economic decline, political unrest, climate crisis, and more threatening to grip us as we jump off the edge, but my optimism is stronger now than ever before. On the other side of that looming gap are extraordinary breakthroughs in healthcare, communications technology, access to space, human productivity, artistic creation and literally hundreds of fields. With the right execution and a little bit of luck we’ll all live to see these breakthroughs — and members of my generation will live to see dramatically lengthened life-spans, exploration and colonization of space, and more opportunity than ever to work for passion instead of simply working for pay. Instead of taking this space to regale you with the many personal and focused changes I intend to make in 2009, let me rather encourage you to spend time this year thinking, as I’m going to, more about what we can do in 2009 to positively affect the future our culture will face in 2020, 2050, 3000 and beyond.

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