firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
I am trying to take a course on edx.org called The Science of Happiness. But I just did 1/5 of the first week's work and I'm not sure how far I'm going to make it. Here is what I tossed into the discussion forum after reading two articles with an increasing sense of outrage. I'm darned if I'm going to make myself unhappy over a course about happiness.

These are the articles I'm commenting one.

Four Ways Happiness Can Hurt You by June Gruber
Is a Happy Life Different from a Meaningful One?" by Jason Marsh & Jill Suttie

~~~

The June Gruber article and the Jill Suttie/Jason Marsh article are taking correlations and assuming causal relationships without showing their work. June Gruber's article first.

These statements are contradictory, but no mention is made of this fact.
"too much positive emotion—and too little negative emotion—makes people inflexible in the face of new challenges."

"When feeling happy, we also tend to feel less inhibited and more likely to explore new possibilities and take risks."

"positive emotions like happiness signal to us that our goals are being fulfilled, which enables us to slow down"
This statement does not provide any evidence that pride "leads to" mania instead of being associated with mania or mania causing excessive feelings of pride. Isn't mania understood to have a biological component? If so then it would seem more likely that mania could lead to excess pride than that excess pride could lead to mania.
"when we experience too much pride or pride without genuine merit, it can lead to negative social outcomes, such as aggressiveness towards others, antisocial behavior, and even an increased risk of mood disorders such as mania."
In the context of human behavior, "hardwired" means "biologically or genetically determined" rather than "culturally determined." Americans don't have different genes than people who live in other countries, so it's pretty silly to assert "We seem hardwired to pursue happiness, and this is especially true for Americans."

Why would people who are depressed or who have bipolar disorder be more likely to 'pursue' happiness? Perhaps because their conditions make it more difficult for them to feel happy? Suggesting that their striving is causing their disorders seems like blaming the victim (especially since these conditions usually have a biological component).
"the pursuit of happiness is also associated with serious mental health problems, such as depression and bipolar disorder. It may be that striving for happiness is actually driving some of us crazy."
The final paragraph is written with highly questionable assumptions that constantly creep into self-help and pop psychology articles: that a person has finely detailed control over how and when they experience certain emotions and can therefore create an emotional experience as easily as making an omelette, and that it is necessary to constantly apply this sort of control in order to be "healthy."
"First, it is important to experience happiness in the right amount. Too little happiness is just as problematic as too much. Second, happiness has a time and a place, and one must be mindful about the context or situation in which one experiences happiness. Third, it is important to strike an emotional balance. One cannot experience happiness at the cost or expense of negative emotions, such as sadness or anger or guilt. These are all part of a complex recipe for emotional health and help us attain a more grounded perspective."
Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh's article is not as problematic as Gruber's, but it isn't free of the problem of confusing correlation and causation either.
A recent study by Steven Cole of the UCLA School of Medicine, and Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that people who reported more eudaimonic happiness had stronger immune system function than those who reported more hedonic happiness, suggesting that a life of meaning may be better for our health than a life seeking pleasure.
It must be that pursuing meaning causes better health, because it couldn'tpossibly be the case that people who are healthier find it easier to pursue meaningful activities than people who are having immune system problems all the time.
firecat: cat nose (curious cat nose)
Are there any books, web sites, communities, or apps for this? --> "Getting things done when you're depressed, easily fatigued, easily distracted, virtually unable to prioritize, and tending to have a problem with authority, including your own."

Are there any for this? --> "Relearning how to set and follow through with goals when you've forgotten how and have the issues mentioned above."

In the past I've tried and failed to be inspired by Flylady, Unfuck Your Habitat, Getting Things Done, TiddlyWiki, and various others. But if you have issues similar to mine and use them effectively, feel free to explain how.

I keep on top of small tasks using a reminder app (*and I need to remember that I used to have trouble with that, so my current state of frustration is actually a little distance down the road of where I think I want to go, so yay?*) but so far I haven't figured out how to make it work for bigger projects.

ETA: I'm mainly seeking recs for tools/books/communities that you have worked with. I know the guidelines (such as "break down the task" and "designate x minutes to work on the task") but I get into states where I have a hard time putting the guidelines into practice.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Wardens-Go-Undercover-to-Crack-Down-on-Trophy-Animal-Sales-203101781.html
Excerpt:
Online marketplaces such as eBay have made it even easier for international sales of exotic animal parts such as ivory, rare animal skulls, horns, and other items banned for sale under state, federal and international law because they threaten endangered species.

To address the problem, the Peninsula Humane Society partnered with eBay to train volunteers to identify, report, and help investigate these illegal sales. In the first year, more than 2,000 items were removed from eBay after being identified by volunteers. In the first 3 months of 2013, some 1,300 products have been flagged.
Job description: http://phs-spca.org/volunteer/positions.html#InternetExaminer

I can see this program making a difference by watching the way the wording of ebay auction descriptions changes as sellers try to get further under the radar. For example, elephant ivory is illegal to sell on ebay, so sellers advertise real elephant ivory as "faux ivory" (but if you look at the pictures, plenty of the faux ivory is real).
firecat: statue of two fat people kissing (fat people kissing)
National Public Radio (NPR) has a web page asking for comments on the topic "What does it mean to live in a nation where one out of every three people is obese." (The nation in question is the United States.)

http://www.publicinsightnetwork.org/form/apm/0d2dd143dca7/what-does-it-mean-to-live-in-a-nation-where-one-out-of-every-three-people-is-obese

The lead-in to the comment section says:
Americans are getting bigger. And it's not just changing our health, but our nation's infrastructure, spending habits, economy and state of mind. What changes have you noticed to the way we live? 

Tell us here. Your response will help shape a national reporting project on obesity.
Here are the comments I left them.

What conversations do you have - or avoid having - about weight?
Read more... )
firecat: gorilla with arms folded looking stern (unamused)
My willingness to use flying as a form of transportation was drastically reduced when the TSA instituted rules limiting the amount of liquids through the security checkpoint. Originally, empty beverage bottles were not allowed through the checkpoint either. That was a boundary for me because I consider it a basic need to carry a lot of water with me when I travel, and I consider it an unreasonable burden to be required to purchase an overpriced bottle of water after clearing the checkpoint. (I can't find any rules about empty bottles on the TSA site right now and I've had reports from people who fly that they were able to bring empty bottles through the checkpoint, so maybe that rule has changed.)

As a person with medical conditions, I am exempt from the rules about liquids, but it offends me that the rules are imposed on other people. It also strikes me as pointless to have rules that people can exempt themselves from just by saying they have a medical condition.

So for the past several years I've flown very rarely.

The fact that I need to buy two seats to be comfortable also contributes to my choice to limit flying.

The new rules about full-body scanners and more intrusive pat-downs strengthen my resolve to limit the amount of flying I do. I don't have a lot of body modesty and don't fear sexual harrassment, so I don't think I would be personally harmed by going through the scanner or being manually searched.

But I believe people have a right not to be subjected to invasive searches without probable cause, and I'm not willing to relinquish my right.

I am privileged and fortunate that I have a choice whether to fly, and I am not making any recommendations for other people.

This mainly affects my likelihood of going to Wiscon. Theoretically I could drive to Wiscon and I'm not ruling that out, but I looked into it once and it seemed like it would be more driving than would be enjoyable for me. I'm not making any decisions about flying now, because a lot of things could happen between now and May, but I'm somewhat less likely to go if the scans and invasive searches become standard.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Looking at the election results today I noticed that in most races, if the Green party and the Peace & Freedom party combined forces, they would have gotten a respectable percentage of the vote and more than the Libertarians or the American Independents. It doesn't look like they are that far apart on the issues, but maybe I'm wrong.

It's all pretty irrelevant anyway given the right-wing trend in the rest of the U.S.

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firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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