Category: Psychology

Parker Palmer: Welcome to the Human Race

Why is depression so hard for us to bring out into the open? Why does it stir up so much shame and fear? How can we shift our view of depression from a problem that needs to be fixed to a gateway to empathy, courage, wholeness, and belonging? These are the profound questions explored by Tami Simon and Parker Palmer in this incisive, insightful podcast. 

Join Tami and Parker as they discuss: Being present for those in depression; suffering and empathy; courage and resilience; integrating (rather than disowning) experiences of depression; showing up in the world as who you really are; the vast intelligence of life—and the weaving of shadow and light; embracing paradox; Parker’s metaphor of “living at altitude” (or the level of ego) vs. living from one’s soul; depression as a befriending, grounding energy; how Abraham Lincoln’s depression served as a force of reconciliation for a nation at war with itself; learning to be “hallowed by our diminishments”; and more.

Clay Routledge: The Surprising Powers of Nostalgia

Can relishing the past help us create a better future? If we want to move ahead, how does going back support us? Could it be that thinking about the past is inseparable from thinking about the future? These are the questions Dr. Clay Routledge explores in his new book, Past Forward

In this fascinating and very cool podcast, Tami Simon and Clay consider how a walk down memory lane can lead you to a brighter tomorrow, discussing: agency, action, and the power of a “meaning mindset”; building a culture of agency; existential psychology; the subjective experience of time and the concept of “temporal consciousness”; why it’s important to savor the moment; the characteristics of nostalgia; working with difficult or bittersweet memories; how creativity is facilitated by a sense of security; journaling, playlists, scrapbooks, cooking, and other practical approaches to cultivate nostalgia and its benefits; the “reminiscence bump” and how nostalgia helps us feel younger; becoming our true selves; nostalgia around objects and personal possessions; and more.

The Modern Science of Nostalgia

In the first two decades of this new century, the science of nostalgia has exploded. There are now hundreds of published scientific studies exploring a wide range of questions about how humans experience nostalgia and the different roles it plays in daily life. Scholars from all over the world are now conducting diverse studies about the ways nostalgia influences our lives.

Keeping in mind the history of nostalgia, it’s amazing what we are now learning. Nostalgia is certainly not a disease and it’s far more than just a source of entertainment. By using the gold standard of science—experiments in which research participants are randomly assigned to different treatment conditions—we’ve been able to answer a number of key questions. What causes people to experience nostalgia? How does nostalgia impact how people feel about their current lives? Does nostalgia influence our interests, goals, and behavior? If so, in what ways? Do the effects of nostalgia differ from person to person?

In addition to experimental studies, we have now conducted rigorous survey studies observing how nostalgia naturally occurs and what psychological characteristics, life experiences, and behaviors it tends to be associated with. This has helped us answer other intriguing questions. Are some individuals naturally more nostalgic than others? Is there a nostalgic personality type? Are people more or less nostalgic at different ages? Are people more or less nostalgic when experiencing different life changes such as moving away from home, starting a new career, facing personal tragedy and loss, or experiencing major life disruptions such as a global pandemic?

Over the last two decades, we have asked thousands of people to document their nostalgic memories. This has given us a great deal of insight into the more qualitative experience of nostalgia, which has in turn helped us develop a more complete picture of what happens inside a person’s mind when they take a nostalgic trip down memory lane. These personal stories have guided a lot of my research questions on the topic.

Combining these different approaches to researching nostalgia, mycolleagues and I have made a number of discoveries that cast this old emotional experience in a brand-new light. We’ve put nostalgia under the microscope, and what we’ve discovered is that nostalgia doesn’t cause problems as proposed by past scholars, physicians, and psychologists. On the contrary, problems cause nostalgia.

When people are down because they feel sad, lonely, meaningless, uncertain, or even just bored, they often turn to nostalgia. Nostalgia lifts our spirits and offers stability and guidance when life becomes chaotic and the future feels uncertain. Even though nostalgia contains sentiments of loss, it ultimately makes people feel happier, more authentic and self-confident, more loved and supported, and more likely to perceive life as meaningful. In addition, nostalgia inspires action. Nostalgia starts with people self-reflecting on cherished memories, but it also drives people to look outside of themselves, help others, create, and innovate.

Though I’ve been researching nostalgia for a couple of decades now, I’ve remained excited about the topic because there is still so much to learn and so many ways to apply the knowledge we’ve gained to helping people improve their lives and the world we all share.

Journal Prompts:

Get out a pen or pencil and a piece of paper; or use a digital device, such as a phone, tablet, or computer. Briefly jot down your reactions to the following questions: 

  • How would you define nostalgia?
  • Do you consider yourself to be highly nostalgic, moderately nostalgic, or rarely nostalgic? 
  • Do you think the activities in which you engage in the present—from your work to your personal hobbies—are meaningfully influenced by nostalgia? 
  • Do you think nostalgia can help you pursue your current goals and make plans for the future? Finally, what is a nostalgic memory that really stands out as special to you? Describe this memory and how it makes you feel. 

Excerpted from Past Forward: How Nostalgia Can Help You Live a More Meaningful Life by Clay Routledge, PhD.

Clay Routledge, PhD, is a leading expert in existential psychology. His work has been featured inn the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Atlantic, The New Yorker, Wired, Forbes, and more. He is the vice president of research and director of the Human Flourishing Lab at the Archbridge Institute. For more, visit clayroutledge.com.

Past Forward

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Matt Gutman: Conquering a Lifetime of Panic Attacks

28% of Americans will experience a panic attack in their lifetime. Some researchers say that number is closer to 50%. Renowned ABC News correspondent, Matt Gutman, never felt afraid when assigned to active and dangerous war zones. Yet when he had to speak on live television in front of a viewership of 9 million people, the seemingly unflappable reporter suffered intense panic attacks that nearly cost him his job. To help anyone whose life has been impacted by this often misunderstood mental health challenge, Gutman shares his personal journey in No Time to Panic

In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Gutman about the book and the hard-won insights he brings his readers, exploring: The importance of destigmatizing panic attack disorder; conventional and alternative healing modalities; “retiring the drill sergeant” (aka managing the inner critic); excavating unresolved grief; how panic disorder can metastasize into other psychological issues; physical threats vs. social threats (and how we tolerate them); the evolutionary purpose of anxiety; how vulnerability is often the first step toward healing; the paradox of welcoming your panic; psychedelics and ego transcendence; the power of mindfulness and meditation; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

David Spiegel: Self-Hypnosis for Well-Being

The practice of hypnosis is considered by many people within and outside of the medical profession to be useless, dangerous, or both. Yet studies are showing how hypnosis offers us a reliable, remarkably powerful therapeutic tool for managing pain and stress, changing unwanted habits, improving sleep, and overcoming a broad range of health challenges. 

In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with author and psychiatrist Dr. David Spiegel to separate the facts from the fiction, exploring: hypnosis as a naturally occurring state of highly focused attention; letting go of our usual preconceptions about ourselves; cognitive flexibility (not “suggestibility”); Dionysians, Apollonians, and Odysseans—three categories of hypnotizability; the Spiegel eye-roll technique; a guided experience of self-hypnosis for stress and anxiety; hypnosis vs. meditation; respecting and protecting your body; focusing on what you’re for instead of what you’re against; and a case example using self-hypnosis to heal trauma and dissociation (please note: this example occurs at 39:10–41:03 and includes a reference to sexual assault).

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Shamini Jain: Healing Ourselves at This Time — T...

What is the future of health and healing? In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Shamini Jain about her vision of the medicine of tomorrow, where not only the physical aspects of who we are but also our emotions, energy, and spirit are all vital considerations in the prevention and treatment of illness. 

Tune in to this illuminating conversation with the author of the book, Healing Ourselves: Biofield Science and the Future of Health, for a glimpse ahead to an emerging, universal flourishing of humanity. Tami and Dr. Jain explore: the body as a garden, the field of psychoneuroimmunology and the link between mind and body, subtle energy and the biofield, the “benevolent challenge” facing humanity at this time, using vibration and sound to work with difficult emotions, energy healing and preventative care practices, a guided biofield vocal toning exercise, the movement toward “whole-person health” in an interconnected world, the neuroscience of social pain and empathy, extending healing to others, surrender and trust, giving ourselves permission to be everything that we want, and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

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