How to bounce back from failure
Plus, what magic can teach us about the way we think.
“If you look at it one way, whistleblowing is the most moral thing you can do. If you look at it another way, it feels like the ultimate betrayal.” – Adam Waytz
Bouncing back. It’s April…how are your New Year’s resolutions going? If you’ve failed, don’t beat yourself up – it might make things worse. People are often more prone to failure after experiencing an initial stumble, thanks to something called the “setback effect.” In a recent study, researchers wanted to see if they could fix this problem. They studied people who were trying to stick to a diet or quit a procrastination habit, then measured how those folks handled a slip-up. People were more prone to the setback effect when they blamed their failures on internal factors, like “I have no willpower.” But when they attributed their failures to external factors – “a friend pressured me to eat junk food,” for example – they were better able to bounce back and refocus on their goal. So if you can’t seem to stick to that diet, go ahead. Blame it on the cake.
This magic moment. “Any working magician will tell you that some people really hate magic.” It’s a bold claim from an interesting new study on why magic rubs some people the wrong way. Part of what makes magic so appealing to some of us is the same thing that makes it frustrating for others. “Practitioners create the illusion of the impossible,” the researchers write. They “provoke intense curiosity and uncertainty” without the satisfaction of telling us how their tricks work. It’s psychologically unsatisfying. And the way people respond to this says a lot about the inner workings of the human mind. Researchers looked at a sample of nearly 1,600 adults and found that people who hated magic had a few things in common. They were less open to new experiences and less prone to experiencing awe. They had less tolerance for uncertainty and more of a need for structure. They were also less agreeable and scored higher in other “socially aversive traits,” like dominance and psychopathy – yikes! Something to keep in mind next time you bump into a magician.
Inner conflict. Speaking of uncertainty, we’ve all felt emotionally conflicted over something. But mixed emotions aren’t always a bad thing. Ambivalence can serve us in important ways. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
April 18: What happens when our moral compass points in two directions at once? In this week’s episode: loyalty versus honesty.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
April 19: “I needed someone to take care of me, too.” When psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb was grieving, a stranger reminded her of the special bond between therapists and their patients.
April 21: Laura Holmes Haddad was feeling defeated from her chemotherapy treatment when the words of an anonymous x-ray technician made her day.
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Courtesy of Grabarchuk puzzles. Read more about them here.
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
A man left home running. He ran away and then turned left, ran the same distance and turned left again, ran the same distance and turned left again. When he got home, there were two masked men. Who were they?
The answer: They were at a baseball game – one man was the catcher and the other was the umpire.
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
Would you like zigzag tubers with that?
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