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The hero’s journey, starring you
Plus, are some emotions more flexible than others?
“Grief is as individual as your fingerprint.” —Lucy Hone
A hero’s journey. We all love a good story. And recent research suggests that making yourself the hero of your own story can give your life more meaning. In a series of studies, researchers asked people to frame their life experiences from the lens of a hero’s quest. To do this, they pulled out some features of the classic hero's journey — a personal transformation, for example, or a big quest —and turned them into prompts for participants. Volunteers answered questions like, "What change of setting or novel experience prompted your journey to become who you are today?" When people incorporated these “hero elements” into their life stories, they reported higher levels of meaning and lower levels of depression. "It might seem difficult for people to imagine themselves as mythical heroes, but our results suggest this is not required," said study co-author Benjamin Rogers."The lives of everyday people can — and do — have the elements of a Hero's Journey.” It’s a good reminder that the way we frame our stories can have a profound effect on our lives.
Elastic emotions. You’re supposed to meet a friend for lunch, but you bail on her at the last minute. You probably feel bad, and she probably feels annoyed. And after the second or third time you cancel on her, those emotions intensify – at least, for her. She gets angrier while you, by contrast, feel less guilty each time you bail. In a recent paper, researchers use this quirk of human behavior to explain how some emotions are more flexible than others. “In short, we found that anger is more elastic than guilt,” the researchers write, “which suggests a new perspective on emotions: the sensitivity to which emotions update in response to new circumstances.” Across a series of studies, they found that while anger increased or decreased during certain interactions, emotions like guilt were more likely to plateau. We like to think we have full control over our emotions, but the findings suggest that “guilt behaves like an on-off switch whereas anger is more elastic and dial-controlled,” writes Psyche editor Matt Huston.
What we gain from pain. We've all heard the saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." But is there any truth to this idea? Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
Healing 2.0: Life After Loss: You’ve probably heard that people who lose a loved one may go through what is known as the “five stages” of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But many people find that their grief doesn’t follow this model at all. In the latest installment of our Healing 2.0 series, we revisit our 2022 conversation with resilience researcher Lucy Hone. Lucy shares the techniques she learned to cope after a devastating loss in her own life.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
Mary Griffis’ Story: Not long after she lost her brother, Mary stalled her car in heavy traffic. As drivers honked and shouted, a stranger slowed down to help.
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.
ON HIDDEN BRAIN+
Stronger Than You Think: After experiencing a terrible loss in his own life, Anthony Mancini wondered: what’s the best path to healing? In his research, he discovered a surprising finding about the human capacity for resilience.
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FROM OUR LISTENERS
Connor, Emma, Russell, and Taylor are celebrating Thanksgiving together. To save money, each of them is bringing a different side dish (cranberry sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, or yams). Each of them is also bringing a different dessert (apple pie, chocolate cream pie, pumpkin pie, or sugar cookies). With the help of the clues below, can you puzzle out who brought which side dish and which dessert?
1. Emma didn’t bring the green beans, but she did bring pumpkin pie.
2. Connor brought the cranberry sauce, but he didn’t bring chocolate cream pie or apple pie.
3. The person who brought the yams also brought the chocolate cream pie.
4. Taylor brought the green beans.
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
First, I threw away the outside and cooked the inside. Then I ate the outside and threw away the inside. What did I eat?
The answer: Corn on the cob
MAKING YOUR LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE
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