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Science Says People Who’re Annoyed By Chewing Sounds Are More Creative

Science Says People Who’re Annoyed By Chewing Sounds Are More Creative

Does the slurping or smacking of people’s lips when they are eating really get to you? Maybe you hate going to the movies because the people crunching popcorn next to you make you want to crawl inside a hole. Or, maybe it’s just the sounds of someone chewing bubble gum noisily that drives you bananas.

If this sounds more like you, relax. You may have heightened sensitivity to certain noises, a diagnosable condition called misophonia. While joining the unlucky 20 percent of people who have misophonia may be unfortunate, it’s not entirely bad. There is some good news associate with this condition.

Scientists from Northwestern University have found that people who are hypersensitive to particular sounds tend to be more creative than those who are not.

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Yep, you read that right. If you get annoyed by chewing sounds, you are probably a genius. The more rage you feel at people’s inability to munch their food quietly, the more of a genius you probably are.

How Misophonia is linked to creativity

In their eye-opening study, the researcher from Northwestern University surveyed 100 participants who were asked to provide as many answers as they could to several unlikely scenarios within a limited amount of time. The researchers monitored how participants reacted to a number of noises, and then asked them to complete a Creative Achievement Questionnaire before drawing their conclusions.

According to the study authors, the participants’ “answers revealed a strong link between those with the most creative answers and achievements and those sensitive to background noise.” The study showed that “higher divergent thinking scores were linked with more selective sensory gating.” In other words, the more the sounds bothered you, the higher you scored on tests that measure creativity.

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Darya Zabelina, lead researcher in the study, explains:

“The propensity to filter out ‘irrelevant’ sensory information… happens early and involuntarily in brain processing and may help people integrate ideas that are outside the focus of attention, leading to creativity in the real world.”

Interestingly, the researchers also looked into the habits of “creative geniuses” like Charles Darwin, Anton Chekhov and novelist Marcel Proust to compare their findings. They found that many of these massively creative people also had a strong aversion to background noises. Proust, they wrote, had such a strong aversion to noises that he covered “his bedroom with cork to block out noise whilst he worked.”

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Darwin, Chekhov and Johan Goethe also strongly lamented the distracting nature of noise. Even Franz Kafka, one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century, reportedly said: “I need solitude for my writing; not ‘like a hermit’ – that wouldn’t be enough – but like a dead man.”

So, the next time you’re getting vexed that someone next to you is loudly slurping on their chicken noodle or munching and crunching on their crisps, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re more creative, and probably also smarter than they are. Otherwise, that person wouldn’t be mindlessly chomping on their food like that.

Coping with noisy eaters

You’d imagine adults would know better than to chew with their mouths open, but it’s obvious not everyone is as well-mannered or considerate as you’d want. That means creative people, those with misophonia don’t have it easy. But, one can persevere through annoying “mouth sounds.”

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If, however, people’s lip smacking bothers you too much, you need to learn how to cope. You can’t make everyone else change the way they eat just because it bothers you so don’t even try to change a chewer.

Pawel Jastreboff, who’s credited with coining the term misophonia, has helped people with misophonia by teaching them to associate positive experiences with annoying mouth sounds, gradually reducing the negative emotions the subjects felt.

Jastreboff’s technique works more than 80% of the time, so maybe you don’t have to plug your ears or walk away from the dinner table halfway through a meal if your spouse or other family member is the chewer, after all.

Featured photo credit: LoloStock via shutterstock.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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