Stop right there!

Plus, why you should see yourself as a work in progress.

“If we can get people to see themselves as connected to all of humanity, we might be able to change the way they think about themselves. It might be the trigger we need to motivate people to work towards a common purpose.” —psychologist Jay Van Bavel

BRAIN WAVES

  • Stop right there! Many sports injuries happen when an athlete tries to do too much too fast — they increase their training load too rapidly. In the long run, it’s better to pace yourself. This is true beyond the world of sports, says author Brad Stulberg. “What you are able to accomplish tomorrow is in part influenced by the restraint you show today,” Stulberg writes. In his new book, The Practice of Groundedness, Stulberg makes the case for patience over productivity. For example, writers are often advised to stop in the middle — that is, stop writing when you’re on a roll. This makes it easier to pick back up and get in the flow during your next session. “Groundedness is a deep reservoir of integrity and fortitude, of wholeness, out of which lasting performance, well-being, and fulfillment emerge,” Stulberg explains. “When you become too focused on productivity, optimization, growth, and the latest bright and shiny objects, you neglect your ground.” Next time you’re in a state of flow — with your writing, your workout routine, or a work project — instead of pushing yourself to the limit, try to stop just one step short. Stopping short is difficult, Stulberg says, but in the long run, it can keep you going — and keep you grounded.

  • Me who? If you had to predict who you would be in a decade, what would you say? For many of us, imagining the person we’ll be in the future can be surprisingly hard. In a TED Talk on the psychology of our future selves, Dan Gilbert argues that human beings are “works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished,” a mistake he calls “the end-of-history illusion.” This illusion impairs our decision-making abilities —and our happiness. “Most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago, but we find it hard to imagine who we're going to be,” Gilbert explains. “And we mistakenly think that because it's hard to imagine, it's not likely to happen.” In other words, our future selves feel like strangers.  But if we can learn to see ourselves as works in progress, it might be easier to accept the uncertainty of our future selves. And then, we have a better shot at making solid decisions. “The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been,” Gilbert reminds us. “The one constant in our lives is change.” 

  • Having more choices generally seems like a good thing. More choices, more freedom, right? But researchers say the relationship between choice and happiness isn’t clear-cut. In this episode, we explore the complex relationship between our choices and our sense of control. Plus, how we can use this connection to make better decisions.  Listen to learn more.

BIG NEWS

If you’re a longtime fan of Hidden Brain, you’ve probably heard our “unsung hero” segment at the end of each episode. Today, we’re very excited to share that we’re launching a new podcast inspired by that segment. It’s called My Unsung Hero. Each episode, we'll share a story about a moment when one person helped another in a time of need. And we'll show you how these acts of heroism — some big, some small — transformed someone’s life. You can hear the trailer and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you have your own story of an unsung hero, we want to hear about it! Go here to find out how to record and share it with us.

ON THE PODCAST

Sept 20: In our evolutionary past, our group identities were an important source of protection. But they can also be a source of conflict and pain. In this episode, how group identities bring us together, tear us apart, and transform our understanding of the world.

Sept 27:  This week we look at what it means to be a storyteller in a time of caustic cultural debate and ask when, if ever, is it okay to tell a story that is not your own?

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MIND GAMES

14,500 people sit in a stadium. One of them is picked out. What are the chances that the person's birthday is on a Sunday?

LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE

A man pushes his car to a hotel, pays the owner of the hotel and pushes his car away.

What was he doing?

The Answer:  Playing Monopoly

FROM THE TWITTERATI…

A MOMENT OF JOY

At Recess Therapy, Julian Shapiro-Barnum interviews life’s greatest therapists: kids. Here’s their best advice for being happy:

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.