Read this. Slowly.

Plus, the resilient power of your psychological immune system

“I have compassion for anybody who kind of finds themselves stuck in a world that makes no sense to them.”  —psychologist Jennifer Bosson

BRAIN WAVES

  • You are what you read. Reading helps us enter entirely new worlds beyond our own, and some evidence suggests it makes us more empathic and understanding, too. In the process of reading literature, we therefore enrich our understanding of other people and of the world – and of ourselves,” writes Robert DiYanni, a professor of humanities at New York University. “We become, in some sense, what we read.” But in our busy lives, it’s easy to rush through a book without absorbing it. DiYanni offers a few tips to savor your reading so you can gain more from it. For example, limit your reading time and set aside time for thinking, too. “When I’m reading something of interest and value, I will often limit myself to one chapter a day, for example, or perhaps 20 or 30 minutes of reading time followed by five or 10 minutes to think, reflect and jot notes and questions,” DiYanni says. “Take time to enjoy the way the writer presents his or her thinking, to reflect on what a work is saying to you, to mull over the insights you glean and to enjoy the writer’s craft and art.” Of course, reading doesn’t always go as planned.

  • Your post-pandemic brain. There’s been a lot written on how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect our long-term mental health. But new research conducted during the first year of the pandemic suggests we may have underestimated our resilience. “On the whole, we were surprised not to find the prolonged misery we had expected,” psychologists Lara Aknin, Jamil Zaki, and Elizabeth Dunn wrote in the Atlantic. Early in the pandemic, the team observed that anxiety, depression, and psychological distress were indeed climbing dramatically, along with the number of people experiencing them. ”But as spring turned to summer, something remarkable happened: Average levels of depression, anxiety, and distress began to fall,” they wrote.  “Some data sets even suggested that overall psychological distress returned to near-pre-pandemic levels by early summer 2020.” Of course, this doesn’t erase the struggles people have faced during the crisis. But the findings speak to the power of our psychological immune system, a host of cognitive abilities that enable us to make the best of even the worst situations. “The pandemic has been a test of the global psychological immune system, which appears more robust than we would have guessed,” the researchers concluded.

  • Why we tell stories. Why is my friend late? How does nuclear fission work? What happens when I sneeze? We all need to understand why certain things happen. Some researchers think the drive to explain the world is a basic human impulse, similar to thirst or hunger. Listen to learn more.

ON THE PODCAST

July 12: What is it like to be the only woman at the (poker) table? Or a rare man in a supposedly "feminine" career? In this favorite episode from 2019, we tell the stories of two people who grappled with gender stereotypes on the job, and consider how such biases can shape our career choices.

June 19: We all know what it's like to feel hundreds of eyes on us: the pressure, the expectations, the anxiety. In this week’s episode, why so many of us crumble under pressure –– and what we can do about it.

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MIND GAMES

What common mathematical symbol can you place between the numerals 4 and 5 which results in a number greater than four but less than six?

LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE

A 3-letter-word has been taken out of each of the following words. Can you figure it out?

RA_ _ _G

_ _ _DER

S_ _ _G

MU_ _ _Y

The Answer: TIN

FROM THE TWITTERATI…

A MOMENT OF JOY

It’s been nice knowing you.

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