You may not know him, but the latest Nobel Prize winner knows a lot about your relationship with money. Professor Richard Thaler, author of the best-selling book “Nudge,” was awarded the prize in October for his contributions to the field of behavioral economics—essentially, the study of how and why we make real-life financial decisions.
A lot of behavioral economists’ research centers around the fact that we’re pretty much hard-wired to go against sound economic reasoning and to make a big mess of our finances. But we’re not doomed to failure. We can use what they’ve learned about how our brains work—for and against us—to set ourselves up for success.
Here are four ways Nobel Prize winners say we can do just that.
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Developing both could be the key to your personal and professional success.
Almost every week, I get a question from someone asking me about the difference between emotional intelligence and mental strength. It's a great question because there are many misconceptions about what it means to be mentally strong and myths about how to develop emotional intelligence.
The Definition of Emotional Intelligence?
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Term papers and problem sets don't prepare you to tackle these real-world challenges.
Graduation season is behind us, which means the parties, speeches, and frantic search for first jobs have mostly ended. For recent grads now begins the the hard work of actually learning how to make your way in the world as a young professional.
You've no doubt already noticed that can be terrifying and confusing (if also exciting). Why? Because while college no doubt taught you how to write a term paper, calculate problem sets, and polish a resume, there are a ton of essential life and career skills that school just can't teach you.
The good news is that everyone is in the same boat as you (even if they're better at faking confidence). And the even better news is that there are a whole lot of resources out there that can get you up to speed on these skills quickly and with a minimum of stress and embarrassment. Here's what the experts suggest you focus on.
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We invest a lot of time in teaching young people to be academically prepared, but we often overlook the skills they really need to succeed.
Parents, teachers, and coaches dedicate their days to preparing kids for the challenges of life after high school. They devote countless hours to ensuring kids can score high and perform well in today's cutting-edge world.
But there's one set of valuable skills adults aren't teaching kids--emotional skills. And perhaps those are the most important skills of all, because no matter how smart or athletic a child is, that child will never succeed without mental strength.
What college students wish their parents had taught them.A 2015 nationwide survey of 1,502 college students revealed that 60 percent wished they had gotten more help with emotional preparation for college.
Emotional preparedness includes the ability to:
The survey revealed that young people who felt the least emotionally prepared were more likely to have lower GPAs. They were also more likely to take a leave of absence after their first term.
Without adequate skills to cope with uncomfortable feelings, they were also more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to help them numb emotional pain. And despite the fact that the majority of students were struggling, 45 percent of them felt as though "everyone has college figured out but me."
Emotional challenges reach beyond academics.The college students who participated in the survey said their stress reached far beyond academics--so it's likely that young people entering the work force or the military may also be lacking the mental strength they need to successfully join the adult world.
The respondents found it "extremely challenging" to make new friends, handle their bills, be independent, and keep touch with family and friends.
Teach kids how to be mentally strong.Parents are so focused on making sure their children have every competitive advantage possible that they're not allowing kids to make mistakes, experience failure, or face natural consequences. Instead, parents are bailing them out when they're in trouble, rescuing them from discomfort, and solving their problems for them.
Consequently, we're raising a generation of emotional wimps. And it's not the kids' fault. It's the grownups who are so focused on test scores and athletic performance that we've forgotten to teach kids the basic skills they need to become mentally strong adults.
No matter how high your child's SAT scores were, what good will that do if he's too anxious and stressed out to stay in college? And how successful will your star soccer player be if she can't manage her anger on the field?
It's time to listen to what young people are telling us--we aren't helping them build the mental muscles they need succeed.
And while it's never too late to teach your children emotional skills, the earlier you start the more time they'll have to sharpen those skills before you send them off into the adult world.
Addiction treatment programs see high relapse rates in their patients because treatment tends to stop at the crisis and stabilization phases of the disorder and never gets to explore patients' personal growth, said the closing keynote speaker at this week's Addiction Professional Summit on continuing care in Anaheim, Calif.
Reef Karim, DO, director of The Control Center long-term behavioral treatment facility in Beverly Hills, outlined stages of treatment that begin with crisis intervention and ideally should proceed to identity formation and development of a core belief system. However, patients generally end treatment at the stage of achieving some lifestyle modification, without developing a self-concept that is essential to personal wellness, Karim said.
“I can say with full authority, 'People can change,'” said Karim, assistant clinical professor at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience. “But you have to have a sense of who you are in the world.”
He said in relation to treatment programs' typical reaction of blaming the patient who relapses, “Rarely do we talk about self-concept. Rarely do we talk about spiritual change.”
Clinicians should ask their patients a simple “Who are you?” question to probe their core values, although they may have to expect not much of an answer at first, Karim said. They might have to start with the basics, such as a person's political leanings or general interests. With some of his patients, he tries to address the difference between “the advertised version of you” (as portrayed on social media) and “the real version of you.”
In today's society, “We are more focused on capturing the moment than experiencing the moment,” Karim said. “We'd rather advertise than do, live! Our brains are suffering for it.”
He added, “We are more lonely than we were 10 years ago, and we're more bored than we were before.”
The Feb. 4-5 summit, “From Treatment to Recovery: Embracing a Continuing Care Model,” explored issues around treatment organizations becoming recovery-focused and supporting a system that moves away from episodic care. Topics included maximizing the power of treatment center alumni, using technological tools for recovery support, and integrating families and communities into the continuing care model. The event was produced by the publishers of Addiction Professional.
Changing the brain
Karim, whose online talk show “Reef Madness” explores a range of health and human behavior topics, used rich storytelling from his upbringing as the son of Indian immigrants to share messages about personal growth that should resonate with clinicians as much as patients.
He embraces the concept of “self-directed neuroplasticity,” which suggests that individuals can actively influence brain function in order to overcome limitations that have them stuck in life. Use of probiotics, or meditation, or yoga, can help achieve this. Medications may be helpful in the crisis phase of addiction treatment, he said, but mainly achieve symptom reduction.
“Medications certainly aren't going to give you self-concept,” Karim said, adding, “A good doctor knows when not to prescribe.”
Four S's—social connection, stress management, self expression and sense of purpose—hold the key to bringing about meaningful change, Karim said. “With these, you can make a shift in life,” he said.
February 6, 2016
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
A new study of opioids reveals a tie between drug addiction and social connection.
Science has long known that having positive social connection is important to a happy and healthy life. But less is understood about how our brains support and encourage connecting with others.
While prior research has suggested oxytocin plays a role in nurturing and trusting others, thereby strengthening social bonds, many researchers also suspect that brain opioids are important to social connection. Opioids are naturally occurring brain chemicals—perhaps the most well-known being endorphins—that cause pleasurable sensations in the body and encourage us to enjoy whatever we are experiencing. It’s possible that opioids also cause the warm feelings we get in social encounters, thereby encouraging us to be more engaged with others.
But, according to a recent study, the role of opioids may be a little more complicated than that—and there are practical implications for how we treat drug addiction.
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I believe we can find joy in the journey of life while keeping our ambitions, goals, health, personal and spiritual lives satisfied. If we learn to prioritize living life while planning for the future, we can find the work-life balance that fuels dreams. I’m talking, simply, about retiring while you work.”
– David Adams
In an increasingly unpredictable financial world, most of us are more open than ever to new thinking when it comes to mapping out our futures. I spoke with financial planner David Adams recently after hearing one of his radio programs, and was impressed by him. His personal history says a lot about his work ethic and vision.
Some background: By his early 30s, Adams had reached a pinnacle of success as one of the nation’s top financial planners. He had a big house in a popular area of town, reached a tremendous level of professional and financial success, and was well-regarded as as a thought leader in his industry. But he didn’t feel whole. So he spent the next five years investing time and money in self-discovery and personal development. What he learned through all of that he now shares on his weekly radio program, Retire While You Work, broadcast on Sundays at 5 p.m. CST on News Radio WLAC 1510 AM, 98.3 FM, and on iHeart Radio.
Also, he was recognized in 2016 as a Top 40 under 40 IBD Advisor in the U.S by WealthManagement.com and REP magazine. Adams also appeared on the cover of Investment News as “Advisor to the Stars” for the work he does with musicians, songwriters and those in the entertainment industry. Additionally, Nashville Lifestyles selected him as one of the 25 Most Beautiful people in 2016 and Nashville Business Journal ‘s 40 Under 40 2017 for not only his professional accolades, but his devotion and commitment to non-profit service. While these accolades are important, Adams true passion is helping his audience, whether it be on the radio or through motivational speaking engagements.
As Adams explains on his radio show as well as through his motivational speaking engagements, “Retiring while you work is a way of looking at life. It allows you the freedom to enjoy life now while also planning for tomorrow.” Adams connects with his audiences and shares the tools necessary for adjusting one’s view of life and work, and explains why he feels the concept of retirement in this country is broken. He challenges us to rethink conventional wisdom with some basic concepts that support the Retire While You Workplan.
Here is part of our discussion:
· 'Practical hiring' is the technique of testing candidates' self-awareness.
· After they present a product or presentation to you, ask them, "What would you do differently?"
· Candidates that can answer immediately and thoughtfully are the ones that can identify more efficient processes and strive for improvement.
Résumés featuring ivy league schools, past positions with top tier organizations, fancy logos, job titles and impressive tech skills — they all mean nothing.
I immediately file résumés in the trash.
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We all have stress in our lives. When it comes to your teens, you know that school (like homework, tests, SATs, college applications) combined with juggling social media and after-school activities is one of the biggest sources — and you want to make sure that it doesn’t lead them to unhealthy behaviors to help cope.
Stress can be a motivator, but it also can produce negative feelings and, unfortunately, increase the possibility that a teen will use drugs. When people are under stress, the brain releases cortisol, the stress hormone. Over time and under chronic stress, parts of the brain that are related to memory or learning are negatively affected by the presence of cortisol. Interestingly, some of these areas of the brain are the same parts impacted by drug use and addiction. In reality, your child’s brain is still developing until age 25, and stress can damage parts of the brain that can make your child more vulnerable to drug addiction, in the same way that early use of drugs can.
It’s not a new concept that stress can lead to drug use and addiction — far from it — but it’s something that many parents don’t necessarily associate with school and the good intentions that they have for their kids. Abusing drugs not prescribed to them, like prescription stimulants, act on the "reward center" in your child’s brain, releasing euphoric chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. In time, they can cause the brain to rely on drugs to keep those chemicals flowing. While drugs might make your child temporarily feel respite, in the long run, misusing drugs actually makes stress more pronounced.
Unfortunately, those exposed to chronic stress are more likely to use substances in an attempt to relax or "power through" the stress, so it’s important that your child knows how to use healthy coping mechanisms instead to deal with the pressures he or she faces.
We explored teen stress and anxiety in a back-to-school blog post series, including how to help your child manage stress in a healthy way. Take a look:
What are the hallmarks of addiction? How can you tell if you are addicted to something, be it drugs, work or some other compulsion?
Essentially, addiction happens when you rely so much on an external substance or process to fulfill an inner need, that the removal of the substance or process leaves you agitated, uncomfortable and distressed.
In the case of drugs, we have made the choice to be harsh and crass with our internal chemistry. Instead of allowing the body to be the infinitely wise and subtle conductor of an orchestra of neuropeptides, we aggressively stimulate and trigger massive cascades of short-term pleasure-feelings. The more we do this, the more we lose the power to respond with sensitivity to the challenges of our life. We become powerless and ineffective, sometimes quite insane?we become toxic, "dirty" creatures (interestingly, the root meaning of sanity is "clean.")
Many of us become addicted to our work, finding it increasingly hard to relax, release and enjoy the simple pleasures of life beyond the rollercoaster of our jobs' demands. And, of course, as a culture, we have become addicted to stress, addicted to thinking, addicted to the high and lows of the "fight or flight" response.
Addiction to anything reduces us spiritually, cripples us emotionally and poisons us physically.
Recovery from addiction requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses every problematic issue simultaneously?the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
So how can qigong help?
Lets take addiction to drugs (including nicotine and alcohol) as the model:
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