Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Only Thing We Have to Fear...

Harvard psychologist and happiness guru Daniel Gilbert wrote an important column in the New York times last week. Link here.

Therein he pointed out that anxiety is caused by uncertainty more than by pain. If you know for certain that you are going to receive a shock you will be less anxious than you would be if you were not certain whether or not you would receive a shock.

This implies that consistent routines are therapeutic. It also implies that some experiences can traumatize us because they disrupt our routines.

If you want to have more and better friends, do not regale them with tales of your tormented psyche. Establish consistent rituals involving them. Handshakes, formal greetings, a warm smile... these are the stuff of positive human connection.

Following Gilbert, if someone scowls all the time you will be able to adjust your expectations and create a new rituals. But if you do not know whether you will be greeted by a handshake or a scowl you will not be able to establish a routine and will avoid contact.

People are more likely to seek your company if they do not feel that they are dealing with a different person every time they see you.

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