“How can I be happy?” Narrated by Stephen Fry – That’s Humanism

The time to be happy is now and the way to find meaning in life is to get on and live it as fully and as well as we can.


How You Can Learn to Finally, Really Relax

How You Can Learn to Finally, Really Relax

Relaxation strategies for the long-term:

  • Classic relaxation techniques include meditation, deep breathing, visualization (e.g., picturing yourself at the beach or another relaxing environment), getting a massage, andprogressive muscle relaxation.P
  • Psychology Today offers this five-step process to change your physiology to quickly make you feel more relaxed. It starts with orienting yourself and feeling more connected to your surroundings, then goes through slowing your breath and coaching yourself into a more relaxed state. P
  • Practice mindfulness, which simply means paying attention to the present moment. Often, it’s hard to relax because your mind is busy somewhere else. Consider enrolling in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, an eight-week course that teaches people with chronic illnesses or medical conditions how to calm their minds and bodies. P
  • Try something different and active. Maybe a break from the everyday routine to take a painting class or water skiing would be relaxing to you.P
  • Raise your laugh quota. Spend more time with people and things that make you laugh (or convince yourself that everything is funny) and you’ll find greater relaxation and a better mood.P
  • Remind yourself to relax. I’ve always had a hard time falling asleep and relaxing, but lately this one deceptively simple technique has been doing wonders: think of restful language. Often we don’t even realize how tense we are, but thinking or reading words like “relax” and “let go” can turn that all around.P

How to Breathe Properly – A (Surprisingly Important) Complete Guide

How to Breathe Properly – A (Surprisingly Important) Complete Guide

5 Easy Ways to Proper Breathing


1. Concious breathing – Become aware of how you breathe during different parts of the day. A practical tip for this is to let your phone alarm go off every hour or so and check your breathing each time it does. Are you breathing relaxed, rhythmically, silently and deeply through your nose? Is there room for improvement in this particular situation?

2. Breathe through your nose – A closed mouth, with the tongue placed up the palate ensures that the breathing happens in and out the nose. If your nose is stuffy, do a sinus rinse.

3. Extended exhale – An extended exhale increases the relaxation and makes the inhale deeper and more rhythmical. For optimal breathing the inhale should be 2-3 seconds, exhale 3-4 seconds followed by a pause for 2-3 seconds. The extended exhale also has a positive effect on the inhale which gets deeper.

4. Straight posture – An upright posture gives a deeper breathing where the diaphragm gets more space to work. Your thoughts and feelings are affected in a positive way and at the same time it gets easier to breathe through the nose.

5. Body consciousness – Be aware of your body and how tense or relaxed it is in different situations. A relaxed body makes it easier to keep a rhythmical and relaxed breathing.

Memory: 10 Fascinating Quirks Everyone Should Know

I am most fascinated by the “Google effect”. Read on…

As the great psychologist William James said:

“If we remembered everything we should on most occasions be as ill off as if we remembered nothing.”

Here are ten interesting quirks of memory which provide a better insight into what makes us remember — or forget.

1. Context is king

What we can remember partly depends on the situation and mental state we are in at the time.

This is because our memories work by association.

The context itself can refer to all kinds of things: some things are easier to remember in a certain place, others when we experience specific smells, others when we are in particular emotional states.

One striking study which demonstrates this had deep sea divers learning lists of words either 15ft underwater or on dry land (Godden & Baddeley, 1975).

It turned out that when they learned words underwater, they remembered 32% of them when tested underwater, but only 21% when tested on the beach.

Of course our memories are far more complex than lists of words: many will have all kinds of contextual hooks, but the study neatly makes the point that for memory, context is very important.

2. Google remembers for you

If you’ve ever worried about the effect the internet is having on your mind, then this aspect of memory would seem to fuel those worries.

The ‘Google effect’ is the finding that we tend to forget things which we know we can look up on the internet.

In a study by Sparrow et al. (2011) participants were manipulated into thinking they could either retrieve items they were supposed to recall from a computer, or that the items had been irrevocably deleted.

The results showed that people’s memory was worse for things they thought they could look up.

Crucially, though, despite the fact that people’s memory was worse when they could access the information, they were better at knowing where to find it.

Given that you can look most stuff up on the internet, doesn’t that mean we’ll eventually forget almost everything?

Lead author of the study, Betsy Sparrow, doesn’t see this as the beginning of the end, rather a ‘reorganisation of the way we remember things’:

“Our brains rely on the Internet for memory in much the same way they rely on the memory of a friend, family member or co-worker. We remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found.”

So it’s not a step backwards, but an evolution in how memory works.

3. Negative emotions fade faster

This is a simple — and wonderful — quirk of how memory works.

It’s the fact that, on average, negative emotions are forgotten quicker than positive.

A typical study asks people to write about things that have happened to them over a period of months.

Then they are asked to recall these events up to five years later.

A curious thing happens for most (non-depressed) people: the negative things are forgotten at a higher rate than the positive.

Psychologists aren’t exactly sure why this happens, but it seems to be part of our natural psychological immune system which helps protect against life’s inevitable knocks.

4. Deep processing

This is a very obvious and intuitive quirk of memory, but nonetheless continually ignored by generations of students and others who are trying to learn.

It’s the fact that the deeper a fact or memory is processed, the greater the chance of it being recalled later.

A classic study had people trying to memorise a list of words (Craik & Tulving, 1975).

Some were told to focus on surface details, like the sound of the words or how they were written. Another group, though, had to process the meaning.

You’ll be unsurprised to learn that those who thought about the meaning of the words did the best on a subsequent test.

And yet, students and other learners continue to revise by rote or by just focusing on surface details.

Looking for deeper connections is the way to more strongly fix memories in the mind.

5. Memory distortion

When a memory is ‘misattributed’ some original true aspect of a memory becomes distorted through time, space or circumstances.

Some examples that have been studied in the lab are:

Misattributing the source of memories. In one study participants with ‘normal’ memories regularly made the mistake of thinking they had acquired a trivial fact from a newspaper, when actually the experimenters had supplied it (Schacter, Harbluk, & McLachlan, 1984).
Misattributing a face to the wrong context. Studies have shown that memories can become blended together, so that faces and circumstances are merged.
Memory expert Daniel Schacter suggests that misattributions may actually be useful to us (Schacter, 1999).

The ability to extract, abstract and generalise our experience enables us to apply lessons we’ve learnt in one domain to another.

6. The Zeigarnik effect

The Zeigarnik effect is named after a Russian psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik, who noticed an odd thing while sitting in a restaurant in Vienna.

The waiters seemed only to remember orders which were in the process of being served. When completed, the orders evaporated from their memory.

Zeigarnik went back to the lab to test out a theory about what was going on.

She asked participants to do twenty or so simple little tasks in the lab, like solving puzzles and stringing beads (Zeigarnik, 1927). Except some of the time they were interrupted half way through the task.

Afterwards she asked them which activities they remembered doing.

People were about twice as likely to remember the tasks during which they’d been interrupted than those they completed.

The Zeigarnik effect, therefore, is that incomplete tasks are remembered better than completed ones.

It’s pretty easy to see why that might be a useful quirk of memory.

7. Childhood amnesia

Most adults can’t remember much, if anything, from before the age of three.

It’s what Sigmund Freud first termed ‘childhood amnesia’.

A new study of childhood memory reveals that childhood amnesia sets in at around the age of seven (Bauer & Larkina, 2013).

The results showed that between 5 and 7 years-of-age, the children could remember between 63% and 72% of the events they’d first recalled at the age of three.

However, by the age of 8 or 9, the children only remembered about 35% of the events.

When children are young the hippocampus–a part of the brain crucial to memory–is still undergoing neurogenesis: new neurons are constantly being produced.

Until this process is complete we find it hard to lay down long-term autobiographical memories.

8. The reminiscence bump

While we may remember little from before around the age of seven, the teenage and early adult years are a completely different matter.

Between about 10 and 30-years-old, most adults experience some of the biggest moments in their lives, all in relatively quick succession.

There’s education, puberty, falling in love, deciding on a career, getting married, having a first child and so on.

While life’s later years can be full of happiness and fulfilment, it’s in these two decades when most people experience the largest changes to their identities, goals and life circumstances.

Naturally, then, people tend to remember this period most intensely — that is the ‘reminiscence bump’, named after the bump on the graph of people’s retrieval of autobiographical memories (in red below).


9. The consistency bias

New experiences don’t fall on a blank slate; we don’t merely record the things we see around us.

Instead everything we do, have done to us, think or experience, is affected by past thoughts and things that have already happened to us.

One strong psychological drive humans have is to be consistent.

This, then, can lead to a consistency bias: we have a tendency to reconstruct the past to make it more compatible with our current world-view.

For example, as people get older, on average, they get politically more conservative.

Despite this people report always having had roughly the same views (Markus, 1986).

10. The recall effect

Many memories which have the scent of authenticity may turn out to be misremembered, if not totally fictitious events, if only we could check.

But, does the long passage of time warp the memory, or is there some more active process that causes the change?

In one experiment participants had memories laid down in a carefully controlled way to test this out (St. Jacques & Schacter, 2013).

The results showed that people’s memories were both enhanced and distorted by the process of recall. This shows that merely recalling a memory is enough to strengthen it.

This is one aspect of the fact that memory is an active, reconstructive process; recalling something is not a neutral act, it strengthens that memory in comparison to the others.

A good memory

Hopefully these ‘quirks’ of memory help to underline the fact that some of what we think of as the disadvantages of memory are really strengths.

As the great psychologist William James said:

“If we remembered everything we should on most occasions be as ill off as if we remembered nothing.”

Source: http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/03/memory-10-fascinating-quirks-everyone-should-know.php

The Man Who Sold His Motorcycle….and Found Peace


” you have to open your hands to let go what is holding you back so you can receive what is better for you”

It has been more than a month since I let you go. It was not an easy decision by any means. In fact,  one of the hardest things I had to do. More often than not, I can’t help to think about you; our times together, riding on the fast lane,  like there was no tomorrow. Time didn’t exist when we were together. It was pure joy, ecstasy like no other drug. I loved the way I rode you, like a wild horse. How the wind caressed my face , how your raw power vibrated my core. We spent some long years together and I enjoyed every second of them. Too much, I think.


And like everything that is done in excess, it becomes, like an addiction too much to handle.

Like  a drug you were demanding more of me. More time to ride, more time away from home, more money to keep up with your high maintenance. I was blinded by your seductive attraction, by your speed by how happy I felt riding you. My world revolved around you and everything else or anyone who didn’t like how much I wanted you, I had no problem turning the other face like I didn’t care.

Everything comes to an end or a pause to take a broader view of the life I was leading and assess my priorities. In my case, it took a unfortunate yet inevitable event for the way I was handling things, to put the brakes on you.

I lost sight of what was important. The veil of freedom and self center righteousness obscured my vision. I didn’t want to hear the truth of reality despite of been ringing into my deaf ears for a long time. I neglected the most important thing in my life for going out with you…my family. By chasing my personal happiness, I was happy but the people most important to me were not happy. I broke the rule of happiness in my marriage: happiness must go both ways.

In retrospect, I could see it coming. From the moment I laid my eyes on you and brought you home you were not welcomed. You preferred to ride with me only and didn’t like her, my wife, to ride along and truth be told she didn’t like you either.

Every time I went out with you, there was always an issue day or night. I didn’t see it before because I was living the single man’s life, justifying my riding and time with you as a reward of my hard work. The bickering became upsetting and riding emotionally painful. It was not much fun anymore. I was not at peace and prefer not to ride anymore.

Only then I realized what needed to be done and took me more time to finally do it. I cried, like a little boy when I let go of you. Watching you being handle by others and away from me brought me to tears. Knowing it will be the last time together, I rode you like I stole you and still letting go was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced.

But like a friend of mine said ” you have to open your hands to let go what is holding you back so you can receive what is better for you”.
I did and by doing it  I grew up and found out what is really important in my life. By letting you go, I found peace.

So, so long my iron horse. I enjoyed the good times riding. Now it’s time for me to take care of the ranch until we get a  better horse that we both can ride and enjoy together….the way it should have been in the first place.