Scientists seek to quantify everything—even the ineffable. And so the human search for meaning recently took a physical turn as Columbia and Yale University researchers isolated the place in our brains that processes spiritual experiences.
In a new study, published in Cerebral Cortex (paywall) on May 29, neuroscientists explain how they generated “personally relevant” spiritual experiences in a diverse group of subjects and scanned their brains while these experiences were happening. The results indicate that there is a “neurobiological home” for spirituality. When we feel a sense of connection with something greater than the self—whether transcendence involves communion with God, nature, or humanity—a certain part of the brain appears to activate.
The study suggests that there is universal, cognitive basis for spirituality, as opposed to a cultural grounding for such states. This new discovery, researchers say, could help improve mental health treatment down the line.
by Zat Rana
Before dying at the age of 39, Blaise Pascal made huge contributions to both physics and mathematics, notably in fluids, geometry, and probability.
This work, however, would influence more than just the realm of the natural sciences. Many fields that we now classify under the heading of social science did, in fact, also grow out of the foundation he helped lay.
Interestingly enough, much of this was done in his teen years, with some of it coming in his twenties. As an adult, inspired by a religious experience, he actually started to move towards philosophy and theology.
Right before his death, he was hashing out fragments of private thoughts that would later be released as a collection by the name of Pensées.
While the book is mostly a mathematician’s case for choosing a life of faith and belief, the more curious thing about it is its clear and lucid ruminations on what it means to be human. It’s a blueprint of our psychology long before psychology was deemed a formal discipline.
There is enough thought-provoking material in it to quote, and it attacks human nature from a variety of different angles, but one of its most famous thoughts aptly sums up the core of his argument:
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
by Marcel Schwantes
Anger is one powerful human emotion. It is also a very normal human emotion that needs to be expressed in a healthy way. But there's a place and time for appropriate anger, and we all have to learn how to manage it before it escalates.
That takes emotional intelligence -- the ability to exercise self-awareness to understand the situation from multiple angles and self-control to see things through other filters before pulling the anger-trigger.
When anger comes knocking, and it will, we have to know how to deal with it appropriately. If mismanaged, it can take down company morale and sabotage your ability to lead and collaborate well.
Here are six habits of people that manage theirs remarkably well.
By Adam Schorr
Consider a married couple. He’s spent the last 20 years working on himself. Learning, exploring, discovering. Changing. So has she. Each has been on a journey of enlightenment to become a better person. And they are, in fact, both of them, wonderful people. But they’ve each been on their own journey, and now, while each is one with the universe, they’re not in the same universe. They have nothing left in common. He doesn’t fit in her world. And she doesn’t fit in his.
This scenario came to mind recently during a conversation with a financial services executive I advise. He is interested in becoming a more creative leader. And it occurred to me that there are really two dimensions to this challenge. Or any leadership challenge.
There’s the internal work of improving yourself. But in parallel, there must also be the work of engaging your team. When you work on yourself but not on your team, two unintended consequences can unfold.
By Carol Tuttle
Overwhelmed, scattered, totally worn out. Does that ever sound like you? Even though you’re committed to work-life balance, sometimes equilibrium isn’t as easy to find as you’d like.
Most advice suggests that you set boundaries, manage time better, and practice self-care. Yes, those are important. But if you’re juggling a hundred balls, you need an overall strategy to calm things down — not just tactics that give you more to do.
Consider the possibility that you can have work-life balance with a simpler (and even counterintuitive) approach.
Where your balance (and imbalance) actually comes from
It’s easy to look at your emails, phone calls, meetings and to-do’s and believe that they are the problem. Everything coming at you is just too much!
by Suzie Doscher, Executive and Life Coach, Zurich, Switzerland
In the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of a “control freak” is “a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.” The Merriam Webster dictionary says that a control freak is “a person whose behavior indicates a powerful need to control people or circumstances in everyday matters.” One way or another, control freaks are not always easy to be around.
I understand this personality trait could stem from a chaotic childhood. Such experiences can make it hard for people to trust others or relinquish control to others. The fear of falling apart pushes them to control what they can. As their emotions are all over the place, they feel loss of control. For this reason, control freaks will micromanage whatever they can with the belief that this makes them strong. People who feel out of control tend to become controllers.
By Marcel Schwantes
Ever wonder if you're true leadership material? Perhaps you've been told you are, but the question is, by what standard? Thousands of leadership books are written each year, many of them with marketing agendas to rehash and repackage what has been talked about for decades.
What is true about leadership that will remain unchanged through the centuries is this: It's about people and relationships. And that requires that leaders have a natural bent for both. If you're not into either, you're not a leader.
And you can start with the proven fact that great leaders aspire to lead by serving the needs of their people. You don't need flavor-of-the-month books and expensive formal training to learn this concept.
But you do need to develop and measure yourself against the standards of great leadership (which I strongly propose to be servant leadership). Here are four top leadership characteristics I have witnessed that float to the top. Do any describe you?
By Judith E. Glaser
I have yet to meet an executive who joins a company to be ‘minimized,’ marginalized or to be intentionally held back from making a contribution.
We join a company to make a difference, to make a contribution, to be praised and rewarded. We join a company to bring our voice to the table, and ‘lean into conversations’ so our voices join in the spirit of partnering with others to shape, create and co-create the future.
Neuroscience is teaching us that ‘self-expression’ might be one – if not the most important way for people to connect, navigate and grow with each other.
BY STEPHANIE VOZZA - 4 MINUTE READ
Ever have to psych yourself up to go to work? If that’s the case more often than not, your job might not align with your personal motives, says Carter Cast, author of The Right (and Wrong) Stuff: How Brilliant Careers are Made and Unmade.
Strengths are your natural skillsets, and motives are the place from which you draw energy, says Cast. They differ from values, which are what’s important to you. “If you ask someone what their values are, they can rattle them off quickly,” he says. “Motives are much harder to identify because we’re often not conscious of them. They’re the river that flows under us.”
A mismatch in job and motives will wear you down and eventually cause you to fail to live up to your potential, says Cast. “Currently, the assumption is that if you took this job, it’s the right job for you,” says Cast. “But people who are smart, don’t have a skill gap, and are good interpersonally will underperform if they don’t have energy for position.”
by Maktuno Suit - Leadership Consultant & Psychotherapist
Christine dreads going into work everyday to face her manager, Paula. She feels as though Paula is ready to criticise her for any mistake that she makes and hence tries to avoid her due to the anxiety that she feels in her presence. Christine spends excessive amounts of time trying to make her work ‘perfect’ before presenting it to Paula - fearful of the critique she will receive. Christine feels like she is constantly undermined and that Paula is threatened when she performs well. Christine describes her as a ‘bad boss’ who makes her feel unsafe and she is looking for a new job.
Recently, the notion of creating psychologically safe cultures and teams in the workplace has become central to our understanding of an effective organisational environment.