A counterintuitive way to achieve difficult goals
Plus, the side effects of after-hours email
“I worked undercover to learn what they had learned were the most powerful influences.” – psychologist Robert Cialdini
Goal pursuit. Struggling to keep your New Year’s resolutions? It might help to remember that the struggle is real. In a series of experiments, researchers had people take on various goals, like learning a new language. Some folks were led to believe it would be easy (“Learning a new language can be an easy process for many people”), while others were told the goal was tough (“Learning a new language can be a difficult process for many people”). Turns out, people were better able to achieve goals, like learning a new language, when they were primed with the idea that the goal might be difficult. This “effectively frames the struggle as part of the goal pursuit process rather than a personal deficiency, increasing the belief that one can reach their goal,” the researchers concluded. It seems counterintuitive, but normalizing the idea that goals are tough might make them easier to achieve.
You’ve got mail, unfortunately. Excessively checking work email doesn’t sound healthy, but this habit might be even worse for you than you think. A 2019 study found that checking email outside of work hours was linked to a handful of health consequences, along with anxiety and even relationship issues. The researchers suggest that we can offset these negative effects by setting better boundaries between our work and personal lives. Easier said than done, but one step might be to give up on Inbox Zero.
Gripes and grumbles. We often look down on people who complain a lot. Yet when something goes wrong in our own lives, many of us go straight to griping, grumbling and kvetching. We all complain, but there are ways to complain more effectively. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
Jan 16: Why are some people so good at getting other people to do what they want? Psychologist Bob Cialdini was fascinated by this question -- so fascinated that he went undercover, working as a salesman to understand how persuasive people work their magic. This week, we learn what he discovered as we bring you part one of a two-part mini-series on the science of influence.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
Jan 17: When her car broke down, Sabrina wondered how she’d get her daughter to daycare – and how she’d pay for the repairs. A crew of car mechanics saved the day.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A farmer wants to cross a river and bring with him a wolf, a goat, and a head of cabbage. He has a boat, but it will only fit himself plus either the wolf, the goat, or the cabbage. If the wolf and the goat are alone on one shore, the wolf will eat the goat. If the goat and the cabbage are alone on the shore, the goat will eat the cabbage. How can the farmer bring the wolf, the goat, and the cabbage across the river without anything being eaten?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
Sam's mother has four children:
April, May, June, and ...
What is the name of the fourth child?
The answer: Sam
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
This interactive globe t lets you tune into radio stations all over the world.
Have an idea for Hidden Brain? A story you want to share with us? Send an email to email@example.com. And if you’d like to support our work, you can do so here. Listen to us on Spotify, Apple, Amazon Music or your favorite podcast platform.