The perks of branching out

Plus, two types of forgiveness.

“We want to defend the world that we care about and that we love. And we want to do this for ourselves and for the people who are yet to come.” —George Marshall, Director of Projects at Climate Outreach

BRAIN WAVES

  • A little of this and a little of that leads to a lot...Practice makes perfect ​​if you want to excel at something. But practicing in a variety of disciplines — rather than specializing in a single one — might yield better results. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of more than six thousand athletes, including 772 of the world’s top performers. They wanted to answer this question: What explains exceptional human performance? “Does a focus on intensive specialized practice facilitate excellence,” they asked, “or is a multidisciplinary practice background better?” Studying the histories of these highly skilled athletes, they found that intense, specialized practice was associated with initial mastery. But a multi-disciplinary approach, where athletes were dabbling in other types of sports, was associated with long-term excellence. Good news for the dabblers among us.

  • Let’s get emotional. We know that there are both psychological and physical benefits to forgiveness. A new study highlights the two different types of forgiveness: decisional versus emotional forgiveness. “Decisional forgiveness is making the decision to forgive the perpetrator, and not to seek revenge,” writes science journalist Emma Young at the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest. This type of forgiveness seeks to maintain the relationship, while still allowing you to hold a grudge. “In contrast, emotional forgiveness involves getting rid of negative emotions towards the perpetrator and replacing them with positive ones,” she continues. Overall, the researchers found that emotional forgiveness offers people more psychological distance from the offense. Put simply, they were better able to forgive and forget. The results suggest that, as other forgiveness researchers have suggested, the emotional approach might be better for reaping the full benefits of forgiveness.

  • The story you tell. We can’t go back and change the past. We can’t erase trauma and hardship. But what if there was a way to regain control of our personal narratives? Interpreting the stories of our lives — and rewriting them — can change us forever. Listen to learn more.

ON THE PODCAST

Some news: Our annual You 2.0 series returns starting next week! Every week in August, we’ll bring you stories about how to approach the chaos of our lives with wisdom. 

June 26: From rising temperatures to mass flooding, the evidence of climate change seems to be all around us. Yet the consequences still seem unfathomable. This week, an encore of one of our favorite episodes about why it’s so hard for us to wrap our heads around climate change.

Aug 2: Purpose is essential to our well-being. It buffers us against the challenges we confront at various stages of our lives. It provides a sense of stability in uncertain times. Purpose is also something we can cultivate. This week, how a sense of purpose can help us weather life’s biggest storms.

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MIND GAMES

What five-letter English word doesn’t change in pronunciation even when you remove four of its letters?

LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE

I was born on August 1, 25 B.C. I died on August 1, 25 A.D. How old was I when I died?

The Answer:  49. (There was no year zero.)

FROM THE TWITTERATI…

A MOMENT OF JOY

Words of wisdom from Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Have an idea for Hidden Brain? A story you want to share with us? Send an email to ideas@hiddenbrain.org. And if you’d like to support our work, you can do so here. Listen to us on Spotify, Apple or your favorite podcast platform.

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