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Blog Action Day Revisited

Blog Action Day Revisited

Monday the 15th October saw the Blog Action Day project begin. Kicking things off with the very and, maybe always, timely topic of the environment.

In my mind, it was a success. And to celebrate how much the blogging community got on board, I want to share some of the best posts that came out of Blog Action Day.

Blog Action Day Stats

Seven tips for how simultaneously to boost your happiness and safeguard the environment (in your own small way) by The Happiness Project suggests some simple practices to make you feel better about yourself and the environment.

Leveraging Ideas suggests there may be an environmental impact from virtual worlds such as SecondLife in Environmental Concerns In Virtual Worlds.

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GearFire Student Productivity has 6 tips to save on the electricity your computer uses while hinting to taking public transport while away from the monitor in 7 Ways To Conserve Precious, Precious Electricity.

Cranking Widgets’ Tips For Environmentally Friendly GTD are using either recycled paper, digital tools instead of paper, or at least using the entire sheet of paper!

On a similar note is Kate Davis’ idea of Using GTD To Reduce Negative Environmental Impacts. After all, GTD is for everything and everybody.

Want to start Getting To Know Your Environment? David Seah tells you how:

More importantly with regards to me, I need to live in it. Even more specifically, I need to be aware of it. From a purely selfish reason, there may be secrets in the Environment that will help me in much the same way that hike through Winchester opened my eyes to just how much more glorious Nature could be, and how I could be bound with it.

If you work from home you may already be doing your part saving the environment, says Success From The Nest as Simply Thrifty talks about your water usage.

Lifehacker has some Easy Ways To Live Greener with software, tips and hacks. If you want to put your two cents in they have a poll for each idea.

Leo at ZenHabits goes all out giving us 5 Ways To Save the World, While Getting Fitter, Saving Money, Simplifying, and Becoming Happier. The topic was only the environment, right?! :)

Scott H Young goes a similar route with Save The World And Improve Your Health At The Same Time. His final suggestion to Get Involved is a vital element when discussing any of these posts. What good is a Blog Day without the Action?

If you think your job can’t be friendly to our environment, then check out Top 5 reasons green workplaces make their employees happy at work by the Chief Happiness Officer Alex Kjerulf.

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Ririan simplifies things again with 10 Simple Ways You Can Save the Planet and Money while The Positivity Blog has 20 Simple Ways to Help the Environment by Using Your Computer.

The Dumb Little Man himself, Jay White, shows us a few Items You Never Thought To Recycle like car batteries and shoes. Pst, have you noticed I’m just recycling blog posts?

Freelance Folder’s How We Can Help Save The Earth drew upon stats, Jon’s own environmental tips as well as a plethora of Blog Action Day resources like this one. Apparently only 3-5% of plastics are recycled in any way!

Get into the habit of things with OrganizeIT and 20 Tips For Laying The Foundations Of Your Environmentally Friendly Habit.

LifeDev has some controversial suggestions like If It’s Yellow Let It Mellow, If It’s Brown Flush It Down. There are indeed Small Changes In Your Bathroom, Big Benefits For The Environment.

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The environmental wellness principle is a term that I’m going to coin right now. If you aren’t benefiting the environment, you’re harming it. It’s as simple as that. If you’re reading this, you have internet access, which means you know, or can easily find out, many ways to be environmentally friendly. The only thing that remains is to choose benefit over harm.

That’s a big call from Alex Shalman, but we understand what he’s saying. It’s that old ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us’ mentality that is very warranted in this day and age.

blog action day

On that note, we end with Dustin’s excellent post over here at Lifehack.org called You The Consumer. It includes a brief history of consumerism as well as a checklist for those of us trying to become better shoppers, environmentalists, human beings.

Please feel free to add your own favorites. Over 20,000 blogs participated so be sure to check out BlogActionDay.org to read about them all.

It’s almost a week on, how do you think it went? What have you been doing in response? What are your suggestions for next year?

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More by this author

Craig Childs

Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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