Reflect on the different ways your life could have gone. Believing that the way things did work out was “meant to be” and appreciating the benefits of that journey both can add a deeper feeling of meaning to your life.
Four experiments explored whether 2 uniquely human characteristics—counterfactual thinking (imagining alternatives to the past) and the fundamental drive to create meaning in life—are causally related. Rather than implying a random quality to life, the authors hypothesized and found that counterfactual thinking heightens the meaningfulness of key life experiences. Reflecting on alternative pathways to pivotal turning points even produced greater meaning than directly reflecting on the meaning of the event itself. Fate perceptions (“it was meant to be”) and benefit-finding (recognition of positive consequences) were identified as independent causal links between counterfactual thinking and the construction of meaning. Through counterfactual reflection, the upsides to reality are identified, a belief in fate emerges, and ultimately more meaning is derived from important life events.
Source: “From what might have been to what must have been: Counterfactual thinking creates meaning.” from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology – Vol 97, Iss 5
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“A key to alleviating depression is fostering a shift from self-worth goals to learning goals and from the beliefs underlying self-worth goals to the opposite beliefs.”
There is evidence that beliefs (cognitive vulnerabilities) and goals (to prove self-worth) contribute to depression but little consideration of how they work in tandem. Synthesizing research on beliefs and goals leads us to four propositions: (a) People with cognitive vulnerabilities often adopt self-worth goals (seeking to prove self-worth and to avoid proof of worthlessness). People with the opposite beliefs often adopt learning goals. (b) Stressors trigger depression largely because they lead people with self-worth goals to focus narrowly on goals to avoid proof of worthlessness. The same stressors do not lead people with learning goals to become depressed. (c) People with goals to avoid proof of worthlessness adopt defensive self-handicapping behaviors (e.g., effort withdrawal, rumination) when dealing with stressors, because those behaviors serve their goals. The same stressors lead people with learning goals to adopt constructive, problem-solving strategies. (d) A key to alleviating depression is fostering a shift from self-worth goals to learning goals and from the beliefs underlying self-worth goals to the opposite beliefs.
Source: How goals and beliefs lead people into and out of depression.from Review of General Psychology – Vol 13, Iss 4 by Rothbaum, Fred; Morling, Beth; Rusk, Natalie
I think this technique could be really powerful.
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Looks like the answer might be yes:
Can incentives be effective when trying to encourage the development of good habits? We investigate the effect of paying people a non-trivial amount of money to attend an exercise facility a number of times during a one-month period. In two separate studies, we find that doing so leads to a large and significant increase in the average post-intervention attendance level relative to the control group. This result is entirely driven by the impact on people who did not previously attend the gym on a regular basis, as the average attendance rates for people who had already been using the gym regularly are either unchanged or diminished. In our second study, we also obtain biometric evidence that this intervention improves important health indicators such as weight, waist size, and pulse rate. Thus, even though personal incentives to exercise are already in place, it appears that providing financial incentive to attend the gym regularly for a month serves as a catalyst to get some people past the threshold of actually getting started with an exercise regimen. We argue that there is scope for financial intervention in habit formation, particularly in the area of health.
Source: “Incentives to Exercise” from Departmental Working Papers, Department of Economics, UCSB, UC Santa Barbara, 2008
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Affection exchange theory and previous research suggest that affectionate behavior has stress-ameliorating effects. On this basis, we hypothesized that increasing affectionate behavior would effect improvements in physical and psychological conditions known to be exacerbated by stress. This study tested this proposition by examining the effects of increased romantic kissing on blood lipids, perceived stress, depression, and relationship satisfaction. Fifty-two healthy adults who were in marital or cohabiting romantic relationships provided self-report data for psychological outcomes and blood samples for hematological tests, and were then randomly assigned to experimental and control groups for a 6-week trial. Those in the experimental group were instructed to increase the frequency of romantic kissing in their relationships; those in the control group received no such instructions. After 6 weeks, psychological and hematological tests were repeated. Relative to the control group, the experimental group experienced improvements in perceived stress, relationship satisfaction, and total serum cholesterol.
Source: “Kissing in Marital and Cohabiting Relationships: Effects on Blood Lipids, Stress, and Relationship Satisfaction” from Western Journal of Communication
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We can’t be sure about fun, but female blondes do make more money:
This study contributes to the economics literature that links physical characteristics to labour market outcomes, by investigating the influence of hair colour on women’s own wages and also their spouse’s wages. Using U.S. panel data, we find that blonde women receive large wage premiums.
Source: “Physical appearance and wages: Do blondes have more fun” from Economics Letters
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