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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Psychology

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None of them have anything to do with money, fame, or success

Licensed from Shutterstock // Ostanina Anna

How do you compare to the person you were ten, twenty, or thirty years ago? Are you kinder, braver, more principled? I’m fifty now, and those metrics matter to me. But that wasn’t always the case.

In my twenties, I lusted after money, job titles, and sex as trophies of a successful life. Those criteria now seem laughable and childish. Yet, many of my peers still chase after the same cravings that drove them in their twenties. They’re frustrated with life. They feel left behind even though they’re rich. They’re aggrieved despite being blessed and privileged.

That’s what happens…


A simple rule to help you overcome burnout

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The other day, a close friend and I were texting about something hard happening in her life. I asked how she had been doing lately, and she gave it to me straight: “I feel like I’m doing everything I can to stay sane, but no matter what I do, it doesn’t balance the scales.” Enter distressed emoji.

My friend’s insightful (and extremely relatable) observation reminded me the Belgian researchers Isabella Roskam and Moïra Mikolajczak, who study parental burnout and effects. While burnout can feel a lot like stress and even anxiety and depression, it’s not just about the presence of…


There’s real power in minimizing your choices

The more choices we have the better, or so we think. But that’s not always the case. Constraints, that is, artificially minimizing choices, are becoming increasingly important to our mental health. We should embrace them in more areas of our lives.

Here’s why: In a world where technology is accelerating, you have access to what, for all intents and purposes, is infinity in more areas of your life. …


What lights you up is just as important as what upsets you

Photo by Kai Dahms on Unsplash

Recently, a friend posted a beautiful picture to Instagram: a quiet sunrise moment in her parents’ tree-filled backyard. “I’m trying to get better at finding glimmers throughout my day,” her caption read. I wasn’t quite sure what a glimmer was, but if my body’s sudden state of calm was any indication, I got the idea. Surveying the tiny, tree-lined square –– even on my iPhone –– felt like exhaling, the exact kind of beauty and calm I needed to reset after a stressful morning.

I clicked over to another post my friend had linked, and I learned my suspicion was…


It’s all about choice, intentionality, and frequency

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

During this Great Social Reset period, Americans are rediscovering what it means to be a social human. What are friends? What do I do with them? Do I have any left? While getting reacquainted with our social circles is undoubtedly going to be awkward — and exhaustingnew research shows that maintaining friendships is easier if hanging with friends becomes a part of our routine.

Jeffrey Hall, a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, and his colleagues surveyed 127 adults about their social interactions over the course of a week in 2018. At five points during…


A psychological phenomenon explains why we are so terrible at seeing how good we have it

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

I was recently on one of my favorite radio shows of all time, NPR’s RadioWest, talking about my new book, The Comfort Crisis. The show’s host, Doug Fabrizio, started the interview by asking me to tell a story about two Harvard psychologists, David Levari and Daniel Gilbert, who a few years ago noticed something funny while standing in line for TSA. And what they noticed led them to conduct a study that can explain why so many of us are so bad at seeing how good we have it.

You can listen to me tell the story on the show…


Stop sidelining what’s important in favor of what you can check off your to-do list

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Human beings crave progress. That craving distorts what we work on. Vital pursuits with less tangible progress are frequently sidelined for trivialities we can check off a to-do list.

Think of the last time you updated your computer. Just having the progress bar made the wait more bearable. The inching left to right may have been inconsistent. It may have been downright misleading, as the frustration at witnessing it stall forever at exactly 99% can attest.

But imagine how much harder it would be to wait if the progress bar weren’t even there.


From Homer to Franzen, productive people lean on these pacts as a proven way to stick to their goals

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Famed director Quentin Tarantino “never use[s] a typewriter or computer.” He prefers to write screenplays by hand in a notebook.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri writes her books with pen and paper, then types them up on a computer without internet.

Jonathan Franzen, the writer magazine called the “Great American Novelist,” believes “you can’t write serious fiction on a computer that’s connected to the Internet.”

These methods may seem extreme, but desperate times call for desperate measures. …


Break your habit of giving up power

Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

I have an embarrassing problem. A problem that pokes its tiny stupid head above the surface when I least expect it.

Recently I was walking my dog around the block, admiring the snowdrops coming up in my neighbor’s lawn. Suddenly both Ginger and I had to jump and scatter to avoid collision, because a biker barreling down the sidewalk finally looked up, swerved, and just barely missed us.

Stunned, I shouted out the first words that came to me —

“Sorry!”

In a moment of heart-stopping shock, before righteous anger set in, before I had time to think through a…


The answer isn’t a simple yes or no

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It’s a question I’ve asked myself in the past: Is it possible for an introvert to become an extrovert? The short answer is “kind of.” But after studying what true introversion is, I believe the better answer is why would you want to?

If you wish to become an extrovert, what are your reasons? Is it because you want to be able to do all the things extroverts do: be bold on stage, hold the room in conversation, or approach strangers with ease? Or do you want the of being an extrovert and for people to like you?

If…

Forge

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