I curate articles from around the web that present an interesting perspective or helpful information using technology to improve our wellbeing. Each of these articles were featured in my July 2019 newsletter. I send out an update twice a month along with some notes on my latest work. Sign up for my newsletter here.
Thinking so much about pride this past month, I wanted to learn how that feeling connected with my daily gratitude practice and its application to performing at our best.
Turns out three emotions - pride with gratitude and compassion - not only increase patience and perseverance, but also builds social bonds. In his Harvard Business Review article, author David DeSteno writes how "research has shown that when people feel grateful, they’re willing to devote more effort to help others, to be loyal even at a cost to themselves, and to split profits equally with partners rather than take more money for themselves. When they feel compassion, they’re willing to devote time, effort, and money to aid others. And when they feel proud – an authentic pride based on their abilities as opposed to a hubristic one – they’ll work harder to help colleagues solve problems."
If pride, gratitude, compassion are all emotions that can improve our performance and help be better teammates, how do we cultivate those emotions? One of the most impactful books I've read in recent memory is How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett, and in this TED Talk she presents an overview of her Theory of Constructed Emotion. The book upended my understanding of the brain and emotions. It continues to resonate with me every day since we are in a constant state of assigning emotional meaning to the sensations in our body. With my work in behavior design, understanding the connection between emotions and behavior is essential in creating the systems of habits for the outcomes we desire. Dr. Barrett's work is groundbreaking and gets my highest recommendation.
If you didn't get a chance to watch the epic battle on Wimbledon's tennis courts this past Sunday, you missed Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer's back-and-forth tie breaking match that held everyone in suspense for nearly five hours. At one point, Federer was one point away from winning, requiring Djokovic to fight back to bring the match to the first ever Wimbledon final tie breaker. Meditation and visualization is one of the key practices Djokovic credits with having calmness under stressful conditions like Sunday's final.
In a New York Times article a few years ago, he talks about his mental practice: “One of the ways is to kind of meditate, but not meditate with the intention of going away from those problems, but visualize. Visualization is a big part of everybody’s life, not just athletes’, but everybody. I strongly believe in visualization. I believe that there is a law of attraction: You get the things that you produce in your thoughts. Life just works that way."
In my interview with Anand Sharma about data and improving health with his Gyroscope app, we talked about the challenges of changing behavior once you see your data. In this article, behavior designer Nir Eyal helps bridge that gap by breaking down why it’s important to know how habits are formed and when it’s better to stick with a routine instead. "Habits are a type of routine, but not all routines become habits."
Eyal has an excellent new book coming out in September called Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. When I read an early draft for him to offer my feedback, I realized how important the framework he's sharing will be to help remove the clutter to focus on what you value.
"Forming a habit requires first sticking to a routine. To do that, make time in your schedule, expect and learn to cope with discomfort, and find ways to pre-commit to the task."
I spent many of my days during the month I lived in Dublin this past spring walking its streets and checking out the beautiful old buildings, amazing parks and the sexy new tech company headquarters. It's such a walkable city. So I was instantly engaged in this article about the benefits of walking when Guardian writer and editor Amy Fleming began her interview with neuroscientist Shane O’Mara with a stroll through Dublin's historic Trinity College where he works.
O'Mara believes in "a 'motor-centric' view of the brain – that it evolved to support movement and, therefore, if we stop moving about, it won’t work as well." As a practitioner of movement based training, this immediately clicked.
"One of the great overlooked superpowers we have is that, when we get up and walk, our senses are sharpened. Rhythms that would previously be quiet suddenly come to life, and the way our brain interacts with our body changes.”
He even thinks we should prioritize walking over going to the gym, saying people who spend an hour at the gym a couple times a week generally walk less, and we'd be better off overall just walking more every day.
After you read this walking superpower article, it'll feel pretty hard not to want to get up and walk.
[Title Image: Chris RubberDragon]