Learn how to practice "self-indifference."
First, recognize that our genes make us worrywarts.
After a year of toxic stress ignited by so much fear and uncertainty, now is a good time to reset, pay attention to your mental health and develop some healthy ways to manage the pressures going forward.
Fractal patterns are noticed by people of all ages, even small children, and have significant calming effects.
- A new study from the University of Oregon found that, by the age of three, children understand and prefer nature's fractal patterns.
- A "fractal" is a pattern that the laws of nature repeat at different scales. Exact fractals are ordered in such a way that the same basic pattern repeats exactly at every scale, like the growth spiral of a plant, for example.
- Separate studies have proven that exposure to fractal patterns in nature can reduce your stress levels significantly.
Fractal patterns are evident in nature as well as in some man-made art, architecture and sculptures.
Credit: Anikakodydkova on Adobe Stock<p>The research team explored how individual differences in processing styles might account for trends in fractal fluency. Researchers exposed participants to images of fractal patterns (exact and statistical), ranging in complexity on computer screens.</p><p>The ages of the participants were:</p><ul><li>82 adults (between the ages of 18-33)</li><li>96 children (between the ages of 3-10)</li></ul><p>When viewing these patterns, the participants chose favorites between pairs of images that differed in complexity. When looking at exact fractal patterns, selections involved different pairs of snowflake-like or branch-like images. For statistical fractals, selections involved choosing between pairs of cloud-like images. </p><p>Although there were some differences in the preferences of adults and children, the overall trends were similar: exact patterns with greater complexity were more preferred. This study confirms that these preference trends are apparent in early childhood, suggesting that the appreciation for common fractal aesthetics is formed earlier in our development than previously thought. </p><p>Prior to this study, exposure to fractal patterns might have been expected to vary across the lifespan of a person due to environmental and developmental patterns. Instead, this study found a consistent preference across childhood and through adulthood which suggests a stable fractal aesthetic is established early in life. There is a possibility, according to this study, that an early biological or evolutionary mechanism optimizes our visual system for processing fractals. </p>
Fractal patterns can be used to significantly reduce stress<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk1OTg2OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjQ3MjQ0N30._vBGVkgp9RLj9wIBG-RC9sy5-LlSkrNVFqZ6N1Wqm2A/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C618%2C0%2C618&height=700" id="3a2ba" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ff0d89c69acb5ade6f8006e68504fda0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="fern plant fractal pattern in nature" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Fractal patterns and designs can reduce your stress by up to 60%, according to research.
Credit: MNStudio on Adobe Stock<p>The term "fractal" was first coined in 1975 by Benoit Mandelbrot, who discovered that simple mathematic rules apply to a vast array of things that often looked visually complex. Since then, many studies have been conducted on what fractals are, where we find them, and even how they impact us.</p><p>The study above, mentioning the positive benefits that fractals have in even small children, becomes particularly interesting when you begin to understand the potential benefits we derive from even minimal exposure to fractal patterns. </p><p><strong>Fractal patterns can reduce stress by up to 60 percent, according to <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/codes-joy/201209/fun-fractals#:~:text=The%20results%20of%20many%20studies,physiological%20resonance%20within%20the%20eye." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Psychology Today</a>. </strong></p><p>Exposure to fractal patterns in nature can reduce your stress levels significantly. It seems this kind of stress reduction most often occurs because of a certain physiological resonance within the eye. While this effect is most prominent in nature's fractal patterns, some research indicates that certain types of artwork carrying fractal patterns can also promote relaxation.</p><p><strong>How can you use fractals to feel happier? </strong></p><p>A separate <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/codes-joy/201209/fun-fractals" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Psychology Today</a> article focuses on how to use our knowledge of the positive benefits of fractals to our advantage. To take a walk in nature, visit a park or garden or sit and watch the clouds for a while, paying special attention to the patterns you see can help you include this kind of relaxation practice into your daily life. Alternatively, you can opt for a visually pleasing fractal plant (like the spiral aloe or a fern) to sit at your office desk. </p><p>Additionally, you can conduct some "research" of your own by placing yourself in fractal-rich environments for 20 minutes a day for one week and monitoring your stress levels before and after. </p>
A new study found that personality growth in young adults predicted career benefits such as income, degree attainment, and job satisfaction.
Success with the Big 5<p>That's the conclusion of a recent <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797620957998" target="_blank">longitudinal study</a> published in Psychological Science. The study followed two samples of Icelandic youths from roughly ages 17 to 29. Its researchers used data across three and five time points to measure the young adults on the Big Five personality traits (openness, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability). It also surveyed them for five indicators of early career success. These were income, degree attainment, occupational prestige, and job and career satisfaction.</p><p>The study's findings showed that personality growth predicted career outcomes better than "adolescent trait levels and crystallized ability." Across both samples, the researchers found extroversion, conscientiousness, and emotional stability to have the strongest effects. Specifically, conscientiousness was tied to career satisfaction, emotional stability to income and career satisfaction, and extroversion to job and career satisfaction.</p><p>"Overall, the findings highlight the importance of personality development throughout childhood, adolescence and young adulthood for promoting different aspects of career success," Kevin Hoff, lead author and assistant professor of industrial-organizational psychology at the University of Houston, <a href="https://uh.edu/news-events/stories/2020/december-2020/12022020-hoff-personality-maturity-career.php" target="_blank">said in a release</a>.</p><p>Hoff believes these results support policies designed to help young people develop personality-based skills. "The study showed you're not just stuck with your personality traits, and if you change over time in positive ways, that can have a big impact on your career," he said.</p><p>According to the release, the study is the first to assess the predictive link between personality growth and career outcomes across a decade of young adulthood. While preliminary, it does fit in with other studies looking into the relationship between personality traits and career success. </p><p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1069072703254501" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2003 study</a> published in the Journal of Career Assessment surveyed more than 5,000 individuals. Its results found that conscientiousness, extroversion, and openness correlated with career satisfaction. Similarly, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1999.tb00174.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a 2006 study</a> published in Personnel Psychology drew on data from <a href="http://ihd.berkeley.edu/research-centers/inter-generational-studies" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Intergenerational Studies</a>. It found that conscientiousness positively predicted extrinsic career success (i.e., income and status) as well as intrinsic success (i.e., job satisfaction).</p>
The change you want to be<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="67cab64f293633035f0c699f71a5d426"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vyJ_hhninDw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>William James famously penned that personality becomes "<a href="https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4318271" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">set in plaster</a>" by the age of 30, never to soften again. There's some truth to this. Personality traits do remain relatively stable throughout our lifetimes. Your inherently disorganized friend won't transform into Marie Kondo because they watched a YouTube tutorial on shirt folding.</p><p>But many studies show that our personalities aren't immutable, either. We can remold ourselves well beyond 30, shifting our traits on their continuum in ways that can be either beneficial or deleterious. One such study, <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/pspp0000210" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology</a>, assessed participants' personality traits for 50 years. If found that as people mature over time, they also accumulate personality changes.</p><p>"The rankings (of personality traits) remain fairly consistent. People who are more conscientious than others their age at 16 are likely to be more conscientious than others at 66. On average, everyone becomes more conscientious, more emotionally stable, and more agreeable," Rodica Damian, the study's lead author and the director of the Personality Development and Success Lab at the University of Houston, <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201808/how-do-personality-traits-change-16-66" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said in a statement</a>.</p><p>Cultivating such growth can be difficult as these traits often require the very talents we feel we lack. To become more extroverted, for example, one needs to be less introverted. It seems both obvious and self-defeating—if one was more outgoing, one would be more outgoing. Because of this, interventions typically focus on actions that alter how we typically think or behave (hence the name cognitive-behavioral therapy). These actions can be small at first, but they have to be deliberate and specific, the so-called <a href="https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/brain-hack-new-years-resolution" target="_self">SMART goals</a>.</p><p>To become more extroverted, introverts don't have to throw lavish, hedonistic house parties to rival those of rock-'n'-roll legends. Instead, the introvert starts by attending a small book club on a specific day and tasking themselves to talk at the meeting This is the first step that makes subsequent steps easier, and after an accumulation of such steps, self-perspective begins to shift. </p><p>"Once you start to change those behaviors, you'll start to change the way you see yourself," <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201604/can-introvert-ever-change" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Susan Krauss Whitbourne</a>, Professor Emerita of Psychology and Brain Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, writes. "That change in <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/identity" title="Psychology Today looks at identity" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">identity</a> may provide the key to personality trait change. You change the narrative from 'I've always been an introvert' to 'I've usually engaged in introverted behavior.' Seeing yourself as in charge of your personality rather than being run by it may be the key to having your personality suit instead of define you."</p><p>The same goes for conscientiousness. Taking on tasks and responsibilities that <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-new-home/201902/three-potential-ways-become-more-conscientious" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">require one to utilize conscientiousness</a> brings about that change over time. As Damian noted, people typically become more conscientious as they get older. One reason is simply that adulthood requires more diligence, discipline, and self-control than high school and punishes a lack of those traits more harshly. Adult environments also tend to reward and support such characteristics. By realizing that with intention, we can self-furnish our environments to support and foster that change.</p><p>We can also hack our metacognition—the way we think about our thinking—to great effect. Such techniques are often used in <a href="https://cogbtherapy.com/cbt-emotion-regulation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">emotional regulation therapy </a>to intervene in heightened or easily triggered outbursts. Mindfulness, for example, teaches people to identify their emotions, and the practice helps people from becoming overwhelmed through the act of labeling an emotion as something distinct from themselves. Recognizing the difference between being angry and feeling angry assists in self-modulation.<em></em></p><p>Some techniques and interventions may improve certain personality traits better than others, but they all demonstrate a key takeaway. Practice won't make perfect, but it can shift personality to be more in line with our goals. While personality may not be the only factor in career and life success, self-improvement will pay dividends to both.</p>
Radical thinker Rutger Bregman paints a new, more beautiful portrait of humanity.
Optimism is what runs the world, and cynicism only serves as an excuse for the lazy.