December 5th, 2009

dean learner Putting on the truth

Your Mind at Work

Occasionally throughout my life I've been wonderfully complemented by a question:

"How can you be so calm/nice/easygoing/patient/thoughtful..."

I call it a complement because all of those are things I strive to be, and it's great to know that I'm having some kind of success from the point of view of people who aren't me.

However, while I've tried my best to explain my methods, I've never had a scientific, brain-based reasoning behind them. Then I watched this video yesterday:

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The mental process and techniques he describes are a large part of how I shape my personality. When I hear bad news, I go right into problem-solving mode - how can I fix this, or even turn it into an opportunity? I'm far more likely to use this method of dealing with a problem than to suppress it.

The big part that I wasn't aware of was of how much of our (and my) lives are governed by the threat response. When someone asks you to do something hard, or criticizes your work, BAM! Threat. When think you ought to talk to someone you don't know? Threat. So I guess next I'll work on recontextualising that - I'm already able to handle that response, but I didn't realise how often it occurs.

This ties in pretty well to a long-term line of thinking for me - when I was in my teens, I noticed/decided that I didn't really fear death. I've got a good, logical set of reasons why it's not scary, but I always found it a bit weird that my brain was able to handle that - as my biochemist friend Chris argues, surely fear of death is a survival mechanism, and lacking it just makes it easier to die?

Working from the ideas in the video, it seems to me that accepting death will/has made it easier for me to deal with threatening scenarios, and thus has actually increased my survivability.
labyrinth stimulating hat

Movember photos

I'm late sharing the awfulness that was my final Movember mustache with you. I tried to put together enough material for a time-lapse photo, but really all that changes is my hair, so I gave up halfway through the month. You can see those photos on my Movember page:

and a couple that Collapse )

And now, Collapse )

This'd be great if it meant I didn't have to shave, but unfortunately, there's basically a mustache there, but it's pale blond and invisible!