"Positive psychology is a movement in social psychology which attempts to change the way that we think about humans," explains positive psychology expert Shawn Achor. "Instead of focusing merely on the average, which is what we normally do in traditional psychology—we would find out what the average person is like, or how the average person responds—instead, what we look at are people who are up above the curve for some given dimension. Maybe that means that they are extremely energetic, that they are very happy, they’re very productive. And our goal is to find out why that is."
In his Big Think interview, Achor, the author of "The Happiness Advantage," tells us that, unlike regular psychology, which focuses on the average or below average, he studies people who are in some way exceptional, with the hopes of applying that knowledge to the greater population.
We can actually reprogram our brains to be happier, says Achor. "The brain is like a single processor in a computer." Someone who is chronically negative or pessimistic is merely scanning first for the stresses and the hassles of life. And because the brain has finite resources, it cannot also scan for the positive elements. As a result, that person continuously reinforces his own negativity, causing himself to feel unhappy. The key to positive psychology is training the mind to divert its resources in a different way, finding ways to be optimistic and reasons to be grateful. After a period of about 21 days, the pattern of positive thinking can be retrained permanently in the brain, something Achor calls the Tetris Effect. And he tells us five ways that we can be happier by harnessing this Tetris Effect.
And you can not only change your own outlook but also influence that of the people around you, something that has always been known but never fully understood. It has to do with something called "mirror neurons" in your brain. "These mirror neurons are the reason why a yawn spreads at board meetings," Achor explains. "Your brian, when you see something in your visual field, raises the likelihood of your experiencing that as well." The same goes for positivity—as well as negativity—which is why leaders can have such a profound effect in business. "You can have one person on the room that is very expressive of their negativity and stress and it can spread to the entire team," Achor says. He also gives several other pieces of advice about leveraging the happiness advantage in the business world.
Ultimately, Achor wants people to understand that happiness should not be kept on our cognitive horizons; it is not something that will magically appear after reaching a certain level in a company or a school. "Happiness is a work ethic," Achor says. "It's something that requires our brains to train just like an athlete has to train."
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.
- Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
- In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
A new paradigm for machine vision has just been demonstrated.
- Scientists have invented a way for a sheet of glass to perform neural computing.
- The glass uses light patterns to identify images without a computer or power.
- It's image recognition at the speed of light.
A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.
- The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
- The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
- It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
"A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain," Musk said, referring to tests of the device.
- Neuralink seeks to build a brain-machine interface that would connect human brains with computers.
- No tests have been performed in humans, but the company hopes to obtain FDA approval and begin human trials in 2020.
- Musk said the technology essentially provides humans the option of "merging with AI."