Jun 28

Malcolm Gladwell’s new podcast, Revisionist History, debuted with an episode entitled The Lady Vanishes. One of the major themes of the episode is the perplexing notion of moral self-licensing. This occurs when a person exhibits progress in some issue of social or moral importance only to result in an increase in contradictory behaviors. In other words, when we do something good, we feel good about what we have done, this leads to feeling an increase in our moral standing (a moral surplus so to speak), which then leads to a feeling of freedom to act in ways that contradict that standing (moral deficit). It’s the “I gave at the office so I can now ignore those in need” mentality.  Almost like earning enough good will to spend it on immoral actions. This can be seen in small ways each day (“I feel good about having a salad for lunch so I’ll go ahead and splurge on dinner and dessert tonight.”) or in larger, systemic ways (the firm hires its first female partner but an internal sexist environment intensifies). Continue reading »

Jun 21

Our natural instinct toward the things we fear is to avoid them. Our logic, although most often beneath our awareness, is that if we ignore it, it will go away. Ignorance is bliss. Or at least we hope it is. Unfortunately, this approach leads to increased anxiety, as opposed to a decrease. Anxiety (unhealthy fear) is like a weed. It often grows to take up the space that you give it. Avoiding something that makes you anxious usually results in that anxiety growing and impacting your life to a greater degree. Continue reading »

Jun 14

Advice like “Don’t make too much of it,” “don’t overthink it,” “Simplify your life,” and “Keep it Simple Stupid” are generally good things to keep in mind. However, there are times when making things more difficult can actually help you think better. There is a theory that says we have two ways of thinking: a quick, easy, intuitive way based on emotions (System 1) and a more calculated, deliberate way based on logic (System 2). Many times we make decisions and based on familiarity or intuition. If you have ever tried to proofread something you have written you may know the difficulty in finding an error in something so familiar. This is because when our brains think that something is familiar, we naturally want to process it quickly and come to a conclusion. For example, read the sentence below. Continue reading »

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