Monday, January 18, 2016

five reasons i am lazy: 1.

Laziness Is More Complex Than You Think: How a More Nuanced Approach Can Help Us Overcome Laziness When Needed

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When I was in high school, I was what you would call a lazy student. Studying, doing my homework, preparing for exams -- none of these were activities I was particularly good at. My father would often say that I lacked "Sitzfleisch," a German word that translates to "sitting meat" and refers to the capability of sitting on your behind and getting your work done. When I reached 11th grade, however, everything changed. I met a teacher who visibly cared about his subject, Biology, and what he taught actually interested me. Gone were the days of struggling to study. Instead, I started to devour books upon books about biology and even arranged for a biology tutor. Interestingly, this attitude generalized to other subjects as well, such that by the end of 12th grade, my father stopped calling me lazy and proudly announced that I had finally developed "Sitzfleisch."
But was it really that simple? Is laziness a trait that one can get rid of over time? The answer, in my opinion, is a resounding "No." To this day, I am still lazy in some situations, but not in others. Laziness, I believe, is not a trait that one has or does not have but is instead a set of states and habits. I think that what we call laziness is actually a blanket term for a wide range of behaviors that have different roots and origins. Overcoming laziness, then, does not merely require a single approach, such as developing "Sitzfleisch," but instead depends on the type of laziness we encounter. Here, I outline different kinds of laziness, what their root causes may be, and how we can best overcome laziness when desired or necessary.
We have many words for laziness. Whether we call it lethargy, sloth, or idleness, the terms all similarly imply an unwillingness to work or use energy, despite having the ability to do so. Often, this happens against our better judgment. In many instances, we know that we should be engaging in different behaviors but instead either actively or passively choose not to and thus act lazy. The Greeks even went so far as to call this type of behavior "akrasia," or weakness of the will, which is reminiscent of current popular depictions of laziness.
Likewise, when we are being lazy or see other people being lazy, it usually carries a negative connotation, as if the person who is being lazy is actively withholding an ability to engage in behaviors that he or she would benefit from. In Christian moral tradition, sloth is even one of the seven deadly sins. Our advice for overcoming laziness mirrors the advice of my father: "Just get over it and get to work!" However, as I'm sure most of us have experienced, it is not that easy. Why is that the case? Is laziness a one-size-fits-all term? Can we gain anything from distinguishing between different kinds of laziness?
One can think of the decision of whether or not to pursue a goal as an effort-motivation balance. That is, individuals will only engage in goal pursuit if the effort necessary to achieve a goal stands in adequate proportion to how motivated they are. Laziness, or a lack of goal pursuit, can therefore be thought of as a situation where individuals are not motivated to expend the effort necessary to achieve their goals. As a result, what influences the effort-motivation balance, and thus the decision of whether to engage in goal pursuit or remain lazy, is how effortful the goal pursuit is and how motivated individuals are to achieve their goal.
Let's look at the latter aspect of the balance first: motivation. At times, we don't want to do something simply because we are not motivated to do so. There are plenty of things that we could do; we only choose to do the things that we feel are important to do and that we are motivated to achieve. When our motivation to do something isn't high enough, we are not willing to expend a lot of energy in order to achieve that goal. This sounds trivial, but it gets more interesting when we dig deeper into the causes of what might motivate someone to expend effort.
For example, in my own case, I think that it was mostly a problem of the class material not having triggered my interest enough for me to want to study. It wasn't until I had a teacher who piqued my interest and who made me want to learn more about the intricacies of the human mind that I started to become motivated to study. Interest levels can also be determined by whether or not the task at hand represents an adequate level of challenge. There is nothing more boring than a task that is too easy and nothing more frustrating than a task that is a behemoth, or too difficult for us to even dream of managing it. At the right level of challenge, which is when we feel like we can, by expending effort, reach the goals that are inherent in the task, we are more motivated to do it.
Our perceptions of our motivations to engage in goal pursuit are equally important as our actual levels of motivation. Beyond whether we feel like we have the capabilities to achieve and beyond why we are motivated, our goal pursuit depends on a wide variety of other factors. For example, receiving feedback along the way and in turn feeling that we have made progress toward our goal can help us feel more motivated. Having the expectation that we will be able to achieve that task and feeling that it is within our control to reach that goal will make it more likely for us to feel motivated. Experiencing social support from our friends and family, who care about whether or not we achieve our goals, can also be a viable source of additional motivation.
An additional determinant of motivation is how individuals construe, or mentally represent, their goals. In fact, representing a goal in terms of the concrete steps necessary to reach it, instead of the more abstract representation of why we want to engage in it and what its purpose is, will make it less likely that we will be motivated to expend effort to achieve that goal. Imagine, for instance, having made dinner plans with a date. We can frame the situation in terms of the details, such as shaving, getting dressed, walking to the subway in the freezing cold, getting squished in the subway, waiting for a long time at the restaurant. When the menial details and means of goal pursuit are not motivating in themselves, then framing our goal pursuit in that way will make it less likely that we will successfully achieve our goal, and we thus end up lazy, on the couch. On the other hand, thinking about why we are going on the date, what its purpose is, and how we might feel in the presence of our date will make it more likely that we will pursue our goal. In order to overcome laziness, then, one should assess the sources, perceptions, and representations of one's motivation.
Sources of motivation need not exist permanently in order to be felt. Expectations can also be learned: An individual who has absorbed supportive beliefs about his or her motivations to engage in goal pursuit will be more likely to expend effort. The opposite is true of someone who, for example, has learned not to expect to be able to have control over whether he or she is able to reach a goal. This can in turn produce a vicious cycle: Not feeling motivated or able enough to expend effort, the individual will be more likely to fail at goal pursuit, be lazy, and thus reinforce his or her beliefs of inefficacy. What follows is a further lack of effort expenditure and further reinforcements of laziness -- a seeming lack of "Sitzfleisch." Instead of being told to "Just get on with it!" what may be most valuable in these circumstances is opportunities to break this vicious cycle by changing expectations and building self-efficacy.
Now, let's turn back to the other aspect of the balance: effort. Another possible reason for being lazy is a lack of energy. When we are exhausted, or when our resources are reduced, it feels harder to expend energy. As an example, imagine the following situation that university students experienced in numerous studies conducted by Florida State University researcher Roy Baumeister and colleagues: You come into a psychology laboratory and, after being briefed and consenting to participate, have to engage in a difficult task, such as writing an essay about a topic of your choosing without the letters "a" and "e." This is not an easy task, as you quickly realize. After you finally finish writing your essay, the experimenters ask you to take part in a second, seemingly unrelated task. Overall, study after study has found that participants are less likely to perform well on this second task in comparison to a group of participants who are given an easier version of the essay task, in which they aren't allowed to use the letters "x" and "z."
What this shows is that engaging in a task crucially depends on currently available levels of resources. Being lazy -- that is, choosing not to engage in a task as fully as one would if resources were not reduced -- may therefore reflect a need to retreat in order to regain energy supplies to expend more energy in the future. In some cases, being lazy should thus be equal to taking a break, to taking a step back in order to take two steps forward. We don't expect runners to cook us a lavish meal to celebrate their having just finished a marathon. Likewise, I think that it would do us well to identify some situations of laziness as cases where we knowingly reward ourselves for our previous efforts and take the opportunity to regain more energy for the future.
However, beyond the mere levels of actual resources available, an individual's perceived levels of resources seem equally important. For instance, different emotional states are known to impact how we feel about our current energy levels. When feeling happy and elated, we are more likely to feel energetic and are therefore more willing to expend resources, in turn seeming less lazy. Along these lines, unlike participants shown a neutral video, participants shown a funny video after the difficult version of the task mentioned above were just as likely to expend energy in the second task as participants who had engaged in the easy version of the task. In contrast, when we feel sad or frustrated, we feel that we have lower levels of energy, which in turn can make it less likely that we will engage in effortful behaviors.
This can reinforce our perceptions of low resource levels, as after having perceived ourselves as being unable to engage in behaviors, we infer that we must have lower energy levels. What is even more worrying is that in this type of situation, the same task looks more difficult in comparison to when we feel that we have higher resource levels, making it even less likely for us to choose to engage in this task. What follows is a vicious cycle of lethargy. What we can do, in these instances, is focus on our emotional state. Mere awareness and mindfulness of the impact of one's feelings on how one perceives one's energy levels can help. Developing habits or specific plans can also help, as these behavioral patterns require lower levels of energy due to their automaticity and can help break the reinforcing nature of perceiving oneself as lethargic. In fact, observing oneself engaging in effortful behaviors can rather ironically give one the impression of higher available levels of energy. However, when all else fails, it is equally important to acknowledge that sometimes, it is perfectly fine to be lazy when one isn't feeling up to performing a task. As I argued above, laziness gives us the opportunity to retreat, reevaluate the situation, and tackle given problems with more vigor in the future.
Laziness is therefore more complex than we think. It is unfortunate that this word implies a trait-like description of some people who are just not willing to expend effort, even though they are perfectly capable of doing so. I believe that this understanding is far removed from the reality of laziness. People are not inherently lazy. People do not inherently lack "Sitzfleisch." Instead, a more careful unpacking of the term "laziness" shows that it has a wide variety of roots and causes. In order to address these appropriately and to help ourselves and others expend effort where it is necessary or desired, we need to appropriately identify the type of laziness at hand. We also need to recognize that sometimes, being lazy is far from a sin. After all, isn't getting to take a deserved break why we expend effort in the first place?
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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Don't worry. Be Happy


Over the course of my career as a therapist, I've counseled thousands of people, which in a lot of ways amounts to a giant research project. People come to me when they're depressed or otherwise struggling -- whatever their specific issues, they generally hope to "get better." In short, they want what most people want: to be happy.
Through my work, I've come to notice the themes that characterize unhappy people, and the changes that move them from feeling stuck in their own shit to enjoying life. While everyone is different, and happiness is by no means an easily achievable goal, I've learned that there are certain traits happy people share. 

Happy people realize that the gods aren't conspiring against them, and only them

Something I often hear from depressed clients is, "Why does this always happen to me?” or, “What have I done to deserve this? Why can't I be like (insert happy person's name here)?"
Yet challenge and change are guaranteed. Debt, illness, job loss, heartbreak, stress, unexpected death -- it’s inevitable that life will throw you some or all of these things. Happy people realize this. They know that everything is constantly in flux, but they’re open to uncertainty, discomfort, and change.

They have solid, deep relationships, and aren't concerned with accumulating acquaintances

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, humans are all social beings who need connection to thrive. This means real, live friendships, where you actually hear each other’s voice (and even spend time together in person!). Happy people's friendships and romantic relationships are based on connection, not money or status.
This doesn't mean you have to come from a supportive family you love unconditionally in order to be happy! It just means you should seek out relationships in which you feel safe, respected, and accepted, in spite of your imperfections. If your family provides that, great; if not, seek it elsewhere.

They actually derive meaning from their day-to-day lives

Happy people don't live for the weekend. I mean, they like the weekend and all. They're down for sleeping in and having no set obligations, but they don't start dreading Monday come Sunday morning.
One of my clients, "Greg," was your prototypical “finance guy.” Bottle service every Saturday, eyeing a Maserati as his next purchase, taking a different beautiful woman to a different destination once a month. Yet amidst all the glamour and things, Greg was depressed. Largely contributing to his unhappiness? The lack of purpose he felt. Greg realized that depression was telling him he yearned for fulfillment. He remembered coaching and playing rugby in college, which was also the last time he remembered feeling happy. Instead of buying the Maserati, Greg co-founded a coaching academy with an old teammate. Three years later, he doesn’t have the money to spend on bottle service every Saturday night, but he sure as hell doesn’t miss it.

They don't stress too much over the future, and don't whine too much about the past

Living for the next accomplishment or purchase is like being a heroin addict living for your next hit (well, maybe not quite, but almost). Finish school! Get the promotion! Get married! Buy a house! Have kids! Buy a summer home! Buy another summer home! Renovate the bathroom! Chill the fuck out and take some of today in. You can plan for the future... just don't live in it. Similarly, it's useful to learn from the past, but don't spend your days lamenting about "what if" or "if only." 

They treat their bodies well

It doesn't matter how many positive thoughts you have if you're living off chips, candy, and booze, then spend all your off-hours watching TV. You may think it's only a minor factor in how you feel, but food is a key player in mental health. Accept it.

They're cool with being emotional, but don't let their feelings control their whole lives

It's true that some feelings can be irrational. You don't always want to act on your anger or jealousy or anxiety in the way you want to, otherwise your boss might have a few black eyes and you'd be doing a stint for felony assault. But cutting yourself off from your feelings entirely isn't a good solution, either. You'll wind up feeling like a shell of yourself.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture where we believe painful feelings are a sign of weakness, or failure, or pathology. But if you can acknowledge that painful feelings have utility (sadness means you've lost something you care about; anxiety means "prepare," anger means you've been mistreated, etc.), you can listen to them and act based on them in a way that'll make you happy, and you won't have to feel like you've given up a part of yourself just to avoid an "undesirable" emotion.

They're able to get lost in moments of fun

Remember when you were growing up and your dad said you should play now because when you were grown up life would be work? Was that just me? Sorry dad, but you’re wrong. Finding an activity that makes you forget about everything going on around you -- basically, something you think is fun -- brings you into the present so you can actually enjoy life.

Think about what makes you get lost in the moment -- what do you consider "fun"? If you’re conflicted because you think it’s “unproductive,” know it’ll actually make you more efficient the rest of the time.

They know that failure is, in fact, an option

When I first start working with clients, they almost always have a critical inner voice -- maybe it was how their parents raised them, or it developed after years of experiencing bullying or an abusive partner, or they just got into the habit of beating themselves up because at one point it was motivating.

The problem with this is that old cliche: it works until it doesn’t. Eventually, it becomes the voice of anxiety and depression. Happy people realize the most important relationship they’ll ever have in life is the one with the voice in their head; they treat themselves like they would a good friend or family member -- with expectations, of course, but with understanding, too.

Happy people also permit themselves to make mistakes. They don’t go around trying to fuck up, but they accept that it happens and are supportive (and, at times, amused) rather than punishing in response. If you live by the mantra that “failure is not an option,” you might wind up miserable.

They're grateful, but not in an irritating, #blessed sort of way

Gratitude isn’t about watching Oprah and blessing every meal. It’s about seeing the whole picture and focusing on the positive stuff. Happy people recognize that the good stuff in their lives really could've gone differently. Sure, they could've inherited millions, but they also could've been born into war or extreme poverty. They see the world through a lens of appreciation and find humor in the tough stuff, but don't need to sugarcoat their lives with a veneer of public gratitude when things aren't so rosy.

They may compare themselves to others sometimes, but don't paralyze themselves through comparison

Comparison can have utility. Upward comparison (comparing yourself to someone you admire) can help you see where you want to be. Downward comparison may help you feel grateful. But comparison can also cause a great deal of pain. It can breed inadequacy, jealousy, and hatred, among other uncomfortable feelings. Happy people know there's enough room for all of us (for now). They don’t expend energy wishing they were someone else.

Yeah, but HOW DO YOU DO THIS? Well, you've gotta be curious, compassionate, and nonjudgmental. None of these abilities come naturally, so you have to learn (damn), whether it's through therapy, or some other practice you find useful for igniting these skills, like yoga or meditation. But it's really up to you.

They're accepting of reality without being resigned to it

It's not that they're complacent or passive. They still desire growth and change. They don't say, "I'm glad this happened," if they don't get a job they really wanted, but they also don't torture themselves by being angry about their reality longer than necessary. They accept that they missed a connection or got dumped. They accept their less-than-perfect body or student debt. They realize that beating up on themselves or cursing the universe generally doesn’t make things better.

They realize happiness is found (mostly) within

Kinda tough if you're already unhappy, huh? It takes work, sure, but happy people know media isn't an accurate depiction of reality. This doesn't mean all happy people live in the bush and reject cultural norms, but they aren't controlled by them. They don't obsess over watches, cars, handbags, or other status symbols that really don't change what's on the inside. They realize that ultimately, they're the ones who control their choices, how they treat themselves, and how they react to the shitty stuff.

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Megan Bruneau, M.A. RCC is a psychotherapist and wellness coach who's still working on the whole constant happiness thing. 

Reason 3,207 to get a water filter.

The National Guard was deployed to assist in handing out canned water at the Flint Fire Department on Friday.CreditBrittany Greeson for The New York Times
President Obama has declared a state of emergency in response to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., where thousands of residents have been exposed to toxic amounts of lead.
The president’s action on Saturday authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency” in Genesee County. FEMA can provide up to $5 million in federal aid to help provide water, filters, and other items for up to 90 days to residents whose water has been contaminated since the city switched water supplies in a cost-cutting move in 2014.
The declaration was requested on Thursday by Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, who had also sought a major disaster declaration and asked for nearly $96 million to be expedited for relief efforts. A disaster declaration would have freed up more federal aid, but Flint’s problem did not qualify because it was a man-made disaster.
Flint, which had long received water from Lake Huron provided by Detroit’s water utility, began drawing its water from the Flint River in 2014in an effort to save money while a new pipeline was built. Residents sooncomplained about rashes and strange odors from the river water, but city and state officials mostly insisted that it was safe to drink. Last year,elevated levels of lead were found in children’s blood. In October, Flint switched back to Detroit’s water system.
Officials remain concerned that damaged pipes could continue to leach lead, which can cause cognitive damage in children and kidney issues in adults. State officials were also investigating whether the contaminated water was connected to a recent outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease that has killed 10 people. Michigan’s attorney general is also investigating the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water.
Flint is a city of about 100,000 plagued by poverty, aging infrastructure and a declining population. In his request, Governor Snyder estimated the cost of replacing Flint’s water infrastructure at $767 million, according to The Detroit News.
His administration has come under criticism for not recognizing the severity of the water problem in Flint sooner and moving too slowly to address it. The governor declared a state emergency on Jan. 5, and asked for federal help nine days later.
Representative Dan Kildee, a Democrat, whose district includes Flint, had pushed for a disaster declaration for months. On Saturday, he welcomed the emergency declaration and blamed the state for creating the water crisis.
“I welcome the president’s quick action in support of the people of Flint after months of inaction by the governor,” he said in a statement. “The residents and children of Flint deserve every resource available to make sure that they have safe water and are able to recover from this terrible man-made disaster created by the state.”
Governor Snyder has defended his handling of the water situation in Flint. In an interview with Time magazine on Thursday, he said: “As soon as I became aware of elevated lead levels in blood, we took action.”
But that did not satisfy many of his critics, including Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate, who on Saturday called for the governor’s resignation.
“Because of the conduct by Governor Snyder’s administration and his refusal to take responsibility, families will suffer from lead poisoning for the rest of their lives,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement. “Children in Flint will be plagued with brain damage and other health problems. The people of Flint deserve more than an apology.”

Thursday, January 7, 2016

sexual deformities. they occur in humans as well as fish.

Bren Jacobson shared GMO Free USA's photo.
1 min
nother good reason to get a good water filter. contact me if you want one. bbc did a brilliant documentary on the subject of xenoestrogens and endocrine disrupters called "assault on the male" over 20 years ago. the cause sterility, deformity, and cancer.
INTERSEX FISH: 85% of male smallmouth bass tested in or nearby 19 National Wildlife Refuges in the U.S. Northeast had signs of female reproductive parts, according to a new federal study. The study, led by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also reported that 27% of male largemouth bass in the testing sites were intersex. The study is the first of its kind in National Wildlife Refuges and adds to growing evidence that endocrine disrupting chemicals are getting into U.S. lakes, rivers, streams and reservoirs - no matter how protected the waters seem. But yet, the researchers didn't test for chemicals in the water. WE'LL GIVE THE GOVERNMENT A HINT: It's probably glyphosate and atrazine, the two most widely used, toxic, endocrine-disrupting herbicides in the U.S. Made by, yours truly, Monsanto and Syngenta. But that's probably why they didn't test the waters. Protecting GMO/agrichemical industry profits over the People's and environmental health. TEST THE WATERS. Then shut down Monsanto and Syngenta.