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30 revealing ideas from social psychology that can help us to appreciate people and our lives

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Below are interesting points (sometimes with some of personal thoughts & reflections) that I have learned from a course on social psychology taught by Professor Scott Plous of Wesleyan College.

@~@ Know yourself. Seach inside yourself.
LaoZi : "He who knows others is learned. He who knows himself is enlightened."
Benjamin Franklin : "There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self"
Daniel Gilbert : "We seem to know less about the worlds inside our heads that about the world our heads are inside."

@~@ People often MISWANT.
Blueroselady :
How to overcome the challenge that we are remarkably bad at predicting of what will make us happy?
This question is very important because many of life’s big decisions involve predicting our future feelings.
Examples of life’s big decisions : marriage, career / profession, migration, vacation.
Funny real-life example : a friend J told me that her husband fluctuates between praising-in-the-form of question and complaining:
(1) "why a such a smart woman like you wanted to marry a jerk and stayed on?"
(2) "It’s a nightmare to be with you for the rest of your life, I was enticed by your physical attractions"

@~@ Most people are too preoccupied with themselves to notice our shortcomings (e.g. your pimple, your spiky hair because of having no time to comb your hair because of waking up late).

@~@ "Research has found that audiences can’t pick up on your anxiety as well as you might expect …
Other people are noticing less than you might suppose."
Blueroselady: The next time you have to deliver a public talk / give a company presentation / make a sales pitch, do not worry. Just do it!

@~@ Susan Andersen & Serena Chen, 2002: In our varied relationships, we have varying selves.

@~@ Much of our behavior is not consciously controlled but automatic and unself-conscious.
Blueroselady: Be mindful. We can choose to practice mindfulness.
Mindful breathing… Mindful eating… Mindful doing…

@~@ self-schema vs possible selves
self-schema = beliefs about self that organize & guide the procession of self-relevant information.
possible selves = images of what we dream of or dread becoming in the future.
self-schema strongly affect how we see / perceive, remember, evaluate other people & ourselves.

@~@ major negative events vs minor irritations
major negative events activate our psychological defense.
minor irritations do not activate our psychological immunity.

@~@ Role playing becomes reality.
As we enact a new role, e.g. college student, parent. salesperson, we initially feel self-conscious.
Progressively, the role playing becomes reality.
This reminds me on the message that Amy Cuddy wants us to remember in her TED talk on body language.
Fake it till you make it.
Fake it till you become it.

@~@ How do we decide if we are rich, smart, or tall?
The answer is social comparison (Festinger, 1954) in affluence, status, achievement.
Blueroselady: Many things in life (that I know of) are relative, particularly those that are measurable.
A reader’s question: "I have made a living comparing data in my job / career. Comparing has become my second nature. How can I stop comparing in life?"
Blueroselady suggestions:
# Gratitude exercises.
# Detachment exercises : Detach your emotions from the outcome of your comparisons. I hear you, it is easy to say, but challenging to do, that is why detachment is an art; for the sake of our happiness, we must practice the art of detachment.
# Mindfulness exercises : Remember that (1) social comparisons can decrease our life satisfaction. (2) 人比人气死人 (3) "There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self."
# Kindness exercises : Be kind & compassionate to yourself, leave behind comparisons with others.
# Affirmations e.g. It is better to be a first rate version of yourself than a second rate version of someone else.

@~@ Children whom other people label as as gifted, hardworking or helpful tend to incorporate such ideas into their self-concepts & behavior.

@~@ Self-reliance
Self-reliant individual is celebrated in Western literature, e.g. The Iliad, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

@~@ Classifying / pigeonholing / labeling cultures as solely individualist or collectivist oversimplifies.
The oversimplification is because within any culture, individualism varies from person to person (Oyserman et al, 2002).
Blueroselady: Remember not to do hasty generalization.

@~@ Interdependent self
# has a greater sense of belonging.
# is defined by social connections with family, colleagues, loyal friends.
# has many selves: self-with-parents, self-at-work, self-with-friends.
# disapproves egotism, whereas independent self disapproves conformity.
# e.g. collectivistic Asian & Third World cultures.
# persists more on tasks when they are failing because wants to meet others’ expectations (e.g Japanese)
# prioritizes WE over ME

@~@ "So far, most of psychology has been produced by psychologists in middle-class White American settings studying middle-class White American respondents."
However, there are ways of life beyond the one that each of us knows best.
Blueroselady: In other space & time context (e.g. sociocultural context), there can be different ideas & practices about how to live a meaningful life.

@~@ Tips: eat before shopping.
Gilbert & Wilson (2000) showed that hungry shoppers do more impulse buying

@~@ Why is your friend’s success can be more threatening that that of strangers?
According to Zuckerman & Jost (2001), you feel that your self-esteem is threatened.
How do people react to self-esteem threat?
High self-esteem people blame others or try harder next time.
Low self-esteem people blame themselves or give up.
According to Roy Baumeister, folks with high self-esteem are more likely to be obnoxious, to interrupt, & to talk at people rather than to talk with people.
Bonus: It is useful for parents to know that
# among sibling relationships, the threat to self-esteem is greates for an older chld with a highly capable younger brother / sister.
# many people could not escape their tough childhoods, which is a cause of low self-esteem.

@~@ Secure self-esteem
# is rooted more in feeling good about who one is than in grades, looks, affluence / money, others’ approval.
# is essential for long-term well-being.
# Blueroselady views secure self-esteem neither as high nor low self-esteem, but self-esteem in equilibrium / in balance.

@~@ self-esteem vs self-efficacy
self-esteem = if you like yourself overall
Self-efficacy = if you believe you can do something

@~@ How to be less intimated (by others) & less gullible?
# remember that personal testimonies are powerfully persuasive but they may also be wrong.

@~@ Self-serving bias?
# attribute positive outcomes to oneself (e.g. own managerial skill)
# attribute negative outcomes to other factors (e.g. a down economy)

@~@ Examples of self-serving bias
# Group members’ estimates of how much they contribute to a join task typically sum to more than 100%. For instance, husband & wife are members of a group.
# most business people see themselves as more ethical than the average business people.
# Pronin & Ross (2006) reported that we see ourselves as objective & everyone else as biased. No wonder we fight!

@~@ Feedback is best when it is TRUE & SPECIFIC.
Specific feedback e.g. You are good at maths.
General feedback e.g. You are great.
To encourage someone (e.g. children, mentees, students, subordinates), remember that specific feedback is more effective than general feedback.

@~@ To improve performance, give self-efficacy feedback instead of self-esteem feedback.
e.g. of self-efficacy feedback : You tried really hard.
e.g. of self-esteem feedback : You are really smart.

@~@ When to listen to criticism & not to listen?
David Dunning’s gentle rule: "if two people independently give you the same piece of negative feedback, you should at least consider the possibility that it might be true"

@~@ Terror management theory by Jeff Greenberg: the reality of our own death motivates us to gain recognition from our work & values, but not everyone can achieve such recognition.

@~@ Competence + perseverance = success

@~@ Success requires enough optimism to sustain hope and enough pessimism to motivate concern.

@~@ According to Jule Norem (2000), defensive pessimism can sometimes save us from the perils of unrealistic optimism.
Blueroselady: Negative emotions such as anger and pessimism are not entirely bad, we just need healthy ways to deal with them.
Tips: Whenever you feel angry, remember that the person you are hurting is yourself.

@~@ Tyranny of freedom? too many choices can lead to paralysis.
According to Barry Schwartz, individualistic modern cultures have an excess of freedom which leads to the tyranny of freedom.
# Choice may enhance regret.
# People have expressed greater satisfaction with irrevocable choices than with reversible choices. This is because when people can undo their decisions they tend to consider both the positive & negative features of the decisions they had made. When they could not undo their decisions, people tend to concentrate on the positive features & ignore the negative features. For example, people expressed more satisfaction with their marriages several decades ago when marriage was more irrevocable.

@~@ Love causes marriage, but marriage would also causes love.
Blueroselady: This hypothesis may explain why arranged marriages (in some cultures) have successfully worked and survived.

@~@ The 5:1 ratio of positive:negative activities
To sustain important relationships such as marriage and parental relationships, ensure that you strive to increase the ratio of positive to negative activities by at least 5 fold.
e.g. of positive activities : holding hands, giving a hug, lending a listening ear.
e.g. of negative activities : arguing, complaining.

More
# Book: Social Psychology. Chapter 2. DG Myers. 2012.
# Notes at the end of email

Written by blueroselady

December 26, 2013 at 3:55 am

Where else besides restaurants and hawker centers can we eat in Singapore? Someone’s home through PlateCulture

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I used to be adventurous in my food consumption: gulping everything edible (though I am not highly carnivorous) until my pregnancy, confinement and breastfeeding restrict my choices of food. Please don’t get me wrong.

These experiences (that I am grateful of) have widen my horizons and allowed me to embrace a new passion in food, its benefits on health, and simple cooking. I even take a course on cooking for children from Coursera.

These days, I love home-cooked meals.
I also try to minimize eating MSG-infested food served in restaurants and (some) hawker centers.
Sometimes, I feel thirsty after dining in some restaurants / food courts / hawker centers. Have I become so sensitive to MSG and excess salt?

Now, I choose to savor (instead of hastily consume like in the past) my food and constantly learn creative ways related to food and health.

Recently, I learned about PlateCulture through Anh-Minh Do of Tech in Asia. PlateCulture, a Malalysian-based start-up (founded by Audra Pakalnyte and Reda Štarė of Lithuania), is like Homedine in US and Cookening in Europe.

So, I started browsing the hosts listed by PlateCulture.

I am particularly interested by Healthy Chinese Food with Herbs hosted by Sara K of Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. Like Sara, I love pandan leaves and ginger.

Here are 4 inspirations from her (mixed with my past experience):
(1) I plan to incorporate traditional Chinese medicine principles into my cooking.
For example,
On a hot day, have a bowl of green bean soup.
On a cold day, have a bowl of red / azuki bean soup.
(2) Freshly squeezed orange juice with no water or sugar added, is indeed a simple pleasure of life.

(3) I often cook steamed fish (salmon with sesame oil or white fish with ginger), perhaps I should also try cooking foil-wrapped steam herbal chicken.

(4) Sara wrote "Dinner at home is often accompanied with relaxing traditional/new-age music with aromatherapy". Sometimes I do listen to classical music while enjoying my simple home cooked dinner, perhaps I should try traditional / new-age music too.

For PlateCulture-listed kitchens in Singapore (as of October 2013), the cost ranges from SGD 30-70 per person, which is quite expensive for our standard.

Normally, we will only spend around $15-$20 per person on our once-a-week restaurant dining. Sometimes, we are pretty happy eating at shop houses without air conditioner, and it costs us only $5++ (less than $10) per person. Many times, my husband and I will share a cup of coffee.
I do not care if people say that I am cheapskate, we do so simply because I could not take too much caffeine (but I love coffee!);
it is more about one of my values of being frugal and sustainable (environmentally friendly and not wasteful).

Of course, I understand that home kitchens (like those promoted by PlateCulture) are not professionally run restaurants. It is the interactions with the hosts and the newly formed relationships that matters, which are absence from dining in restaurants.

I really look forward to more affordable home dining experience in Singapore offered by PlateCulture!

Written by blueroselady

October 9, 2013 at 6:37 am

Smoke haze in Singapore. 14 tips on how to survive haze / severe air pollution. Her dream home needs to meet 6 criteria

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In summer 2013,
air pollution from forest fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra island has choked Singapore.
To make the condition worse, El Niño which tends to produce very dry weather conditions in the region, appears to intensify the effects of the fires in Indonesia.

PSI = Pollutant Standards Index.
PM 2.5 = A reading for airborne particles with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less – small enough to deeply penetrate the lungs.

PSI Value & Air Quality Descriptor according to NEA:
0 – 50 : Good
51 – 100 : Moderate
101 – 200 : Unhealthy
201 – 300 : Very unhealthy
Above 300 : Hazardous

On 20 Jun 2013 1 PM, the 3-hour PSI Reading was 371 in Singapore.

A friend of mine mentioned that the city looks apocalyptic.

In Beijing in January 2013, the PSI reached the range of 470-490.
Lung cancers are soaring in Beijing.
A friend who works in China shared that many people, if they can afford it, want to get out of China, due to the environmental hazard : pollution.

The U.S. AQI only goes up to 500.

The 19th century London was notoriously known as the foggy city.
The hazy / bleak / fog everywhere London was too distant for me to recall of London.
In my lifetime (the 21st century), my memory of London has been positive (but I do not live there long enough).

Here are tips on how to survive living with haze:

1. Spend less time outdoors.

2. If you have to go out, wear N95 mask, wear hat / carry umbrella, carry a bottle of water.
When you feel a tingle in the throat or start coughing, a drink of water can be helpful.

3. Before you go out, close all your windows and ventilation outlets.

4. Wash your face, rinse your mouth, and clean your nasal cavity, shower when getting indoors.
Blow your nose in a piece of tissue, you will see black particles in it.

5. Children & older adults should remain indoors and keep activity levels low.

6. Close your windows when the condition is severe.

7. If you use air-conditioner, make sure your apartment has enough oxygen.

8. Keep plants with broad leaves at home to absorb dusts. Place a wet mat beneath your doors.

9. Use air purifiers with HEPA filter.

10. Smoke less. Avoid smokers.

11. Eat more fruits, vegetables. If necessary, take vitamin C.

12. Drink more water, milk (especially if you suffer from dry throat). Stay hydrated. Drink at least 2 litres of water a day.

13. Avoid / minimize alcohol / coffee.

14. Go somewhere unaffected for holiday. My husband’s friend D has brought his family for a holiday in Bali.

15. If the haze / air pollution is a constant problem, consider migrating.
A friend who was born in Indonesia,
S shared with me about the criteria for her dream home which I found interesting.
S wants to move to places like New Zealand, Australia, or Canada,
where the air quality (and presumably the living conditions are better).
She told me that once when she was in Toa Payoh, a Hong Kong expatriate shared that Hong Kong people who migrated to US / Canada are relatively richer than those who migrated to Australia / NZ due to higher fund required for the former.

Here are S’ criteria for her desired home:

1. 2nd floor and above, but not too high floor (she was concerned about earthquake & window safety for her children).

2. Why not ground floor?
Bungalows often consist of only ground floor (if not 2-storey high).
S shared with me her experience living in a ground floor house where she suffered annually from the flood (and the risk of electricity through water).

3. Her home must have a bomb shelter, based on her experience living in Singapore, where flats have a bomb shelter that also serves as a store room. An alternative is to have multi-storey with an underground / basement.

4. Entire flat must be well-equipped with air-conditioner, although she mentioned that she would not switch them on daily, as she is aware of the consequences of air-conditioner on our protective ozone layer. The air-conditioner fixtures are meant to survive for severe haze episodes.

5. To have fridge & freezer in her room (so that she can have access to her food).
Perhaps, a well equipped studio apartment (not too spacious) will be easier for her to manage.

6. Yes, but S also wants to rent her rooms for additional income, so she needs a spacious home, unless it is hard to get tenants.

Related:
http://donghuan.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/my-first-day-back-in-china-and-tips-on-how-to-survive-beijings-dirty-air/
http://spotlightxoxo.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/skin-care-tips-during-the-haze/

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Written by blueroselady

June 20, 2013 at 9:47 am

How to live a healthy life? 17 simple tested tips

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1. Rest well. Sleep 6-8 hours daily.

2. Live a life of integrity, so that you can sleep well at night.

3. Master the art of how to stop worrying, so that you can sleep well at night.
Many years ago, I found the simple tips by Dale Carnegie help.
I have added more tips to my arsenal,
and will share about it more.

4. Know when & how to say NO to unnecessary activities / requests.

5. Remember “Those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind.
Beware of culture-driven narcissism.

6. Remember “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me
Example:
When my good friend L was serving in Students’ Union, she gave her best to serve the students as an act of gratitude.
L was from a relatively poor family but fortunately she received full scholarhsip and some living allowance, so she was highly motivated to give back to other fellow students.
Sadly, her predecessor (in Students’ Union) scolded her ‘lackey’ / ‘running dog’.
Later she realized that her predecessor was just a man who was hungry for power, loved to drink excessive alcohol, and did not care of others.
No need to care about his word.
I personally found L an inspiring leader.
She was willing to help her subordinates much more beyond what her predecessor did.

7. Pray to say your gratitude and aspirations / hope.

8. Forgive.
The most forgiving person I have ever known: Jesus.
When you want to forgive someone (but still feel the hurt inside), remember Jesus.

9. Harbor no intention to harm others.
害人之心不可有,防人之心不可无.
If you have been erred, the best revenge is success.

10. Eat more vegetables and fruit; eat less red meat.
Tips:
cook rice with some healthier choices e.g.
sweet potatoes
carrot
pumpkin

11. Eat home cooked food.
Honestly, cooking can consume a lot of time.
On Vesak Day of 2013, I spent my time from 10am – 4 pm going to shop for groceries, washing, peeling, cutting, and cooking.
Yes, I do take a time out for brunch, feeding and bathing my child.
But, it consumed 25% of my time.
My strategy to cope:
do not cook on continuous days,
if possible cook on alternate days.

12. Try your best to pass motion daily.
When the diaper of my first son was wet,
it was more difficult for him to relax and pass motion, regardless that I train him to pass motion.
That is why he loved to pass motion after I just changed his diaper.

13. Stroll / walk, breathe in fresh air @ park / natural reserves / gardens / beaches. Nature heals!
If you have a dog, you can walk your dog.

14. Reframe your perspectives of doing house chores as a form of exercises.

15. While you pursue the tangible, cherish the intangible.
At the end of the day, it is the intangible (love, happiness, health, harmony / peace) that matters.
However,
to have the intangible,
one must have the tangible : money (e.g. to travel / to learn / to buy), achievements (e.g. degree, career promotion, sales record), materials (e.g. nutritious food, warm clothings, safe home / luxurious bungalow).
Solution?
1. Prioritize.
2. Practice the art of balancing.

16. Write to yourself.
Read
http://goinswriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/The-Writers-Manifesto.pdf
Keep a diary / journal.
Reflect.
This helps to prioritize.

17. Create for yourself & share it to others.
My simple definition of “create” include
think of ideas.
write your ideas down.
do it (e.g. experiments / cooking / dance).
design products.
photograph your creation.
make audios of your ideas & creations (e.g. if your idea is in the form of song / poem / speech).
make videos of your ideas & creations.
make presentations (using e.g. powerpoint).
invent / innovate business ideas / business models.
the list goes on

and most importantly
share them to the world with your greatest LOVE!
Honestly, the act of creating makes me so happy.

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Written by blueroselady

June 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Movies watched in winter Jan 2011

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On the flights, I managed to watch these 4 movies (partially or completely):
Eat, Pray, Love
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Love in Disguise (戀愛通告)
Cyrano Agency
I am grateful for the experience because I seldom have time to watch movies due to busy schedule.

Some reflections:
Eat, Pray, Love
I learned about it when a roommate of mine was reading the novel by Elizabeth Gilbert which is about a woman’s search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia. Notice the 3 countries’ name begin with I. (I, I, I).
In the travels, the main characters discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by EATING in Italy; the power of PRAYER in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of TRUE LOVE in Bali.
Personally, I have neutral feeling towards the story.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
, also known as Wall Street 2
Jacob “Jake” Moore, an ambitious, young proprietary trader, reminds me on a Gates’ scholar I know.
Working in finance seems to offer bigger hope in our incomes, but the risk and stress are also high.
Give me a number? More. Please do not fall into this trap.
Ideally, we should set a target and once we reach the target, we could pursue other dreams.

Love in Disguise

Like the very long hair of Liu Yifei, like the ancient Chinese beauties.

Cyrano Agency
Sang Yong’s proposal at the beach, by giving a large shell with a diamond ring inside is romantic.

Movies to see:
The founding of a republic
The founding of a party (to mark the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China)
The Grandmasters (Wong Kar Wai’s biopic of Wing Chun teacher Yip Man, starring Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi)
Dans la Lumiere (about Aung San Suu Kyi, directed by Luc Besson).

Written by blueroselady

January 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm