5 Reasons why you will be a Hater all your life – The Psychology of Fanaticism.

brain

If you have ever tried to reason with a hardcore fanatic, you would have noticed what I did.  Even if you prove to him that his “facts” are either untrue or grossly exaggerated, he would coolly look the other way and continue with his allegations. He would keep throwing unsubstantiated prejudices about his pet hates. Whatever you do, you will not get him to empathize even a teeny weenie bit with those on the other side of the battle lines. “They are evil, they have done even worse things and they deserve it” would be the recurring themes.

What surprised me is that people harboring these believes are otherwise generally quite good and conscientious. They lead normal lives and hold noble values. Then what could be the reasons for the intense and unjustified hatred that they harbor? – The Jekyll and Hyde bit? – Got me probing.

It turned out that this could be attributed to some of the inbuilt faults in our thought processes. By listing them here, I am trying to throw light on the challenges that we will face when we try to break the walls people build around themselves…..

The Reticular Activation System (RAS) – The prime culprit. This is a mechanism in our brain that filters out unwanted inputs that come in. In a second, 1.6 million bits of information hit our brain. The poor thing can process only a measly 164 bits per second. So the RAS acts as a watchman and admits only the most important information. The rest gets bounced off. And it is we ourselves who tell the RAS what is important, through our thoughts, interests and actions. If you are planning to buy a new car and have shown interest in it, you will suddenly start seeing that car all over town. The car was always there. You however started noticing it now, because your RAS is admitting it in instead of bouncing it off. But what does RAS have to do with our topic? Lots.  If you have a prejudice about a particular community or ideology and if you talk about it or read about it a couple of times, RAS kicks in. It will start increasingly alerting you with inputs that align with your point of view while blocking all inputs that stand against it. So you will not see the virtues, good actions and benevolence of your foes. You will see only their badmash and badass aspects. This is akin to LIKING certain pages on Facebook. FB will then flood you with recommendations of similar ones. You LIKE them too and soon your time line will be flooded with related stories taking it completely to one side of the debate. So you stop seeing things that disagree with you. And you get condemned to live sorely in your “Haters hell”.

Now that’s bad enough. But it doesn’t end here. Check out the long train of our thinking errors.

Cognitive Dissonance- When you encounter a belief or idea that contradicts your world view, that inconsistency causes stress or dissonance. (That’s what you get when someone refutes your political post on FB) .So you try to reduce this by actively avoiding situations and information which would increase the dissonance. So in the long run, you end up unfriending or ignoring all the dissenters and entertaining only a coterie of YES men – haters of the same feather.

Here comes the next one- Confirmation Bias- we have the tendency to look for or interpret information in a way that confirms our beliefs. We collect evidence selectively… very selectively. And we will misinterpret even the noblest of their actions to suit our opinion. “They did it for this”. Told Ya!!!

Check this one out – The “Just-World Phenomenon” If we witness an injustice done to someone we hate, in order to rationalize it, we will search for things that the victims did to deserve it. This is done to ease our anxiety .This peace of mind comes at the expense of blaming the innocent victims- so they deserve it.  So if you hear that your favorite side has done something evil, you will promptly justify it by saying- they had it coming.

Now here is the icing on the cake- The Bias Blind Spot: We are often unaware of our own thought biases. So even after reading this article, you will vehemently deny that you have any of such thinking faults. Come on, you are above all these, aren’t you?

So where does this take us? – If we hate something or someone, we will not see the good things that they do. We will avoid being exposed to their good side, will interpret even the good things that they do as bad, will attribute any injustice done to them as something that they deserve, all while staying blissfully unaware of the unfairness in our thinking process.

Think about it- terrorist attacks, communal riots, imperial aggression, even discord in the family- who is right and wrong? Man, you could be so way off!!!!

The same hold good for the Lovers too.

Next time, you either judge or get into a heated debate with someone, remember this…

2 Comments

Filed under Till sunset and beyond

Sell that Treadmill off!!! ASAP

treadmill

New research on happiness has spilled the beans. Buying “physical assets” like a new home, a luxury car, and toys for the big boys etc doesn’t make us any happier.

Researchers have found that immediately or soon after the acquisition we would start aspiring for the next model or the costlier piece thereby rendering happiness elusive.

They have termed this condition the “Hedonistic Treadmill”. Parallel is drawn to the act of running continuously on a treadmill, without literally reaching anywhere. This finding supports the argument that money does not buy happiness and that the pursuit of money as a way to become happy and contented is futile.

How can one become Happy, then?

It was found that True Happiness is experienced when one follows one’s passion, exercises one’s inherent strengths or undertakes tasks that make a difference in the lives of others.

Convinced? So out with the Treadmill….

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Humility for Humanity

dream-big-and-stay-humble
Just the other day, during a pep talk to students, a young enthusiast posed this question- “Why are you advising us to be humble when this world values first impressions and self confidence more than humility?” Though I answered to the best of my modest capability, I wasn’t quite contented with my own reply.

So after reaching home, I decided to go Pal Sourcing on this subject. I posted this query -“In just 2 words, give your tips on how to be loved by all” on FB and tagged many of my good friends. In the comments that flowed in, many of them wrote “Be Humble“. I couldn’t but compare these comments with the responses to another query-“How to be successful?” that I had posted earlier. I remember very well that none of my good friends had brought up the topic of humility then. This aggravated by doubt- Were people attributing humility to sweet, submissive also-rans and pride and boisterousness with Success? If the responses of my Pals were an indication, yes they were. Could this be true? – I tried to seek out empirical research on the topic. So Google Ahoy.

Interestingly, research on humility showed that this trait has great value. Humility has been linked with better academic performance, job performance, and excellence in leadership. Surprising!!!it was found to be a distinguishing trait of CEO’s of successful organizations. Moreover organizations with humble leaders were found to have more engaged employees and less voluntary turnover.

Research further showed that instead of having low esteem, humble people were self regarding as well as other-regarding. They valued the welfare of other people and had the ability to “forget themselves” as well, when appropriate. Not bad at all…..

Humble people were found to have better social relationships, and tended to be more forgiving, grateful, and cooperative. A recent set of studies also showed that people who are humble tend to be more generous with both their time and their money.

So the verdict is out- shunning arrogance and embracing humility will make you better loved as well as super successful. For our own good and the good of humanity, let us therefore set out to cultivate humility. (In ourselves first, preferably)

Humility for Humanity- I love the way it sounds.

2 Comments

Filed under A new sunrise

So, what’s your problem, eh?

Image

So, what’s your problem, eh?

 Do we have an answer to this question? If yes, are all our problems purely personal and restricted to our own self seeking interests? Or, on the other hand, do we have it in us to answer this question by saying “Communalism is our problem” or “Hunger deaths among children is our problem”?

 Imagine how wonderful this world would be if all of us own a problem that we have wholeheartedly committed to solve? What if we devote our time and resources to solve this problem rather than fighting for more space, more time, or more money in our own teeny weenie part of the world?

So let that skin crawl, hair stand, eyes twitch…….

Let that empathy bubble inside…

Let that righteous rage boil over……

Yeah!!! I do have a problem… and I am going to do everything possible to solve it.. God Willing!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Are you a good person? Are you capable of doing Evil things?

Image

 

Before jumping to a conclusion, take a lot at the findings of researchers who worked on the subject- What makes good people do bad things?

Multiple credible studies tell us that the right dose of social situations can change good people to evil doers. These studies confirm that the line between good and bad is not fixed and people can cross over any time based on the environment.

What would persuade good people to do evil things? Take a look.

  • Influential , larger than life, authority figures- In a study, volunteers were ordered by people in authority and power to give electric shocks to people who answered questions incorrectly, they surprisingly complied- more than 80% of them. All that was needed was a command from those in power.
  • Dehumanizing and labeling- In a study, when victims  were given demeaning tags like  “animals” and “traitors” it was found that normal people found it easier to hurt them. Such labeling made it easier for people to justify their acts.
  • Breaking it down- People found it easier to inflict pain on others when they were made to do minor acts first and then progress on to do major things.
  • Group think and Peer Pressure- When a group of people do it, you do it along with them. You get drawn into the actions of the mob regardless of whether you agreed with them or not.
  • Anonymity- When people were given masks, they readily embarked on evil deeds. When everyone was given masks, the issue became graver, as if they lost their humanity altogether. Explains why warriors changed their appearance by donning war paint.

The psychological analysis done on the perpetrators at the Abu Ghraib prison and plotters of terror attacks confirm the above without doubt- It’s not a question of rotten apples. It’s a question of rotten barrels rather.

During communal riots, you often find peace loving, ordinary folk joining marauders at the instigation of popular, influential leaders  and doing unthinkable acts of violence. These leaders create such situations by indulging in name calling and de humanizing, by fueling prejudices and demonizing  groups of people or communities.  They also ensure that small skirmishes happen over time, thereby creating a snow ball effect that builds enough momentum to break good will , good sense and the forces of good.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

To befriend Success, first write your Failure/Mistakes Resume

Image

Failing/making mistakes is not all that bad.  If we can look back and analyze what went wrong and learn from it, our odds of succeeding will improve. To learn from failure, however, we have to “own” it.  We have to figure out what went wrong and what to do better next time. If we don’t, we end up repeating the same mistakes over and over again. By acknowledging them, we tend to avoid covering up, rationalizing or blaming.

There’s always an intelligent way to handle any failure/mistakes  you come across or made in life. The most intelligent way I’ve found is to record my failures in what I like to call a “FAILURE/MISTAKES RESUME.”

How to create a Failure/Mistakes Resume?

Look back at all the areas of your life. Professional, Financial, Relationships, Emotional, Health and Spiritual. List down the failures you have had/mistakes you have made.  Get to the root of the problem by asking Why?. Keep repeating the Why’s till you arrive at the root cause. Then create an action plan to avoid this in the future. 

Thats all…..

  • Failure
  • Why?
  • How to avoid?

Here is a list of my most jarring mistakes. I wouldn’t want to share the WHY’s with you. I would stand exposed. But this list is really helping me to build my personal brand with honesty  and humility.

Try it out.

  • Not learning Arabic
  • Not making health a top priority
  • Selling myself too low
  • Reacting without thinking
  • Not working on writing my book
  • Being too frank on Social Media
  • Not praying on time
  • Not staying in touch with old pals

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Women or Men- who are more productive?

images

Answer to the million dollar question- Women or Men- who are more productive?

According to a new study by independent research consultancy the Ponemon Institute, Women employees work harder and longer than men do

By observing both genders during 10 minute work windows

• On an average females worked 2.5 minutes during ten minutes, while male subjects worked for just 2.1 minutes in the same amount of time. (Almost 20% more)

• Not only do women work longer, but they also apparently work harder than their male counterparts.

• When subjects were given the opportunity to walk away during an experimental waiting period, just 38per cent of women left their desk, while 52per cent of men did.

• When the researcher and subject were both male, the average time worked was 3.6 minutes.

• When they were both female, productivity rose to four minutes.

• But with a female researcher and a male subject, the time worked dropped to just 2.8 minutes.

• Another investigation into the impact of having children on the productivity of male and female lawyers has found that childless women get the most work done – more than childless male lawyers and lawyers of either gender who have children.

So to have maximum productivity, have an all girl team!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope I don’t get terminated :)

Leave a comment

Filed under A new sunrise