CLOSE

The Surprisingly Simple Way to Be More Successful—and Stay Happy

We often get so caught up in our long-term aspirations that we forget to pay attention to the present—but this type of thinking can harm our professional and personal lives, warns Dr. Emma Seppala, science director for the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University.

“We tend to focus on the future a lot, and on our careers,” Seppala points out. "And that’s a very good thing, in terms of having goals, ambitions, and aspirations. However, if you’re doing it constantly—if you’re always thinking about the next thing you’ve got going on, and trying to check the next thing off of your to-do list—you’re actually hampering your productivity.” This is because you’re less able to focus on what’s happening right now, she says. As a result, your performance will suffer in the moment—and so will your relationships with other people.

However, Seppala has simple advice on how you can become more mindful in your day-to-day life. The trick lies in your breathing: By taking long, deep breaths, you can slow your heart rate, calm your nervous system, and quiet your brain. This way, you can focus on the now ... and stop worrying about what’s next.

Watch the full video Seppala made with TechInsider online, or learn more of Seppala's work-life tips by checking out her new book, The Happiness Track.

[h/t TechInsider]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
science
Humblebraggarts Are the Worst (Science Says So)
iStock
iStock

Humblebraggarts. We all know (at least) one: that person who takes a woe-is-me tack to ostensibly "complain" about something when the real intent is to boast.

"It's noon, I haven't had a cup of coffee, and the espresso machine at this Mercedes dealer is broken. FML!"

"Have been sitting on the runway for 30 minutes. Next time I'm flying commercial instead of private."

In many ways, it's another version of #FirstWorldProblems, and social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have only made the practice more pervasive. As TIME reports, a new study has concluded that people see right through this fake humility—and like people less for doing it.

Researchers at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a series of nine experiments, including a week-long diary study and a field experiment, to both identify the ubiquity of the behavior and then determine its effectiveness as a form of self-presentation. Their findings, which were published in the January Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, determined that if you're going to brag, people would rather you just be transparent about it.

"It's such a common phenomenon," Ovul Sezer, study co-author and an assistant professor of organizational behavior at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, told TIME. "All of us know some people in our lives, whether in social media or in the workplace, who do this annoying thing. You think, as the humblebragger, that it's the best of both worlds, but what we show is that sincerity is actually the key ingredient."

Of the 646 participants, 70 percent of them could recall a recent humblebrag they'd heard—the majority of which (about 60 percent) were complaint-based. But the study showed, overwhelmingly, that any statements that could be perceived as humblebragging (whether complaint- or humility-based) "are less effective than straightforward bragging, as they reduce liking, perceived competence, compliance with requests, and financial generosity," according to the study's authors.

"Despite the belief that combining bragging with complaining or humility confers the benefits of each strategy," the study concluded, "we find that humblebragging confers the benefits of neither, instead backfiring because it is seen as insincere.”

In other words: they're not fooling anyone.

"If you want to announce something, go with the brag and at least own your self-promotion and reap the rewards of being sincere, rather than losing in all dimensions," Sezer said—though she suggested that an even more effective tactic is to find someone else to boast on your behalf. "If someone brags for you, that's the best thing that can happen to you, because then you don't seem like you're bragging," she told TIME.

However, Sezer's final piece of advice was not to be too hasty in your dismissal of humblebraggarts as a whole. "We all do it, to some extent," she said. "I hope I don't sound like I'm humblebragging when I talk about this research."

[h/t: TIME]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
fun
Can You Figure Out Why the Turtles Bulge in This Optical Illusion?
iStock
iStock

Ready for a little vision test? Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a Kyoto-based psychologist who studies visual illusions, created this eye-bending image that appears to bulge and bend. In the image, shared on Syfy.com, the horizontal and vertical lines actually run straight across and down, but they look like they ripple, and the shapes (Kitaoka calls them turtles) look like they’re different shades of gray, even though they’re an identical color.

As Phil Plait explains for Syfy, the key is in the corners—the turtle “legs,” if you will. “At each vertex between turtles, they form a rotated square divided into four smaller squares," he writes. "Note how they're offset from one another, giving a twist to the vertices.” If you zoom in closely on the image, the lines begin to straighten out.

The difference in the colors, meanwhile, is a result of the contrast between the black and white pixels outlining the turtles. If the outlines of the turtles were entirely black or entirely white, instead of a combination, the grays would look identical. But the contrast between the two fools your eyes into thinking they're different.

To see more of Kitaoka’s illusion art, you can follow him on Twitter @AkiyoshiKitaoka. Then, go check out these other amazing optical illusions.

[h/t Syfy]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios