Friday, 26 February 2016

How to predict the future (part 366)

According to a longitudinal study that was done for more than 50 years, you can predict the future of a relationship from a 10 minutes discussion between the two partners.
Short version:
1. If you identify one of this four negative traits: contempt, stonewalling, criticism and defensiveness, chances are that the relationship will not last. All four traits and you got 92% chance to not be in that relation after 10 years.

2. If you have these positive traits, the more the better, chances are that you will live happily ever after. The positive traits are: humor, simple acts of appreciation, forgiveness and communication (being emotionally open to each other, to be more exact).

Not that you know this, you have no excuse. Apply it and be happy. Together.

See you soon.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Love and flow in our peak state, or how i learn to skate through life (part 2)

This time i will start with some studies done by Helen Fisher, regarding the three stages of attraction.

1. First stage is Lust, or sex drive, generated by estrogen and testosterone. This it is not a precursor to romantic love, there are distinct systems in the body that are activated through various stages of attraction. It is defined by the desire to have any available partner.

2. Romantic attraction is the second stage, related to finding the right partner. Fisher defines this stage as “elation, heightened energy, obsessive thinking, focused attention and yearning”. Romantic attraction is characterized by high levels of adrenaline, norepinephrine and dopamine (all three are stimulants of some kind) and lower levels of serotonin.

3 And then we have the third stage. We are talking here about the emotional attachment, a calm relationship with one long term partner. After the initial stage we can observe the apparition of pro-social bonding chemicals as endorphin, vasopressin and oxytocin. Endorphin will show up once be become tolerant to the increase of dopamine and norepinephrine that come with the falling in love process, about 18 months into a relationship. They calm everything down, changing the mad experience of being in love into the security and stability of a mature relation. Vasopressin was linked to monogamy (Brendan P. Zietsch from University of Queensland did an experiment showing that mutations to vasopressin receptor gene are linked with extra pair bonding, this is only a scientific term for sexual infidelity. Warning: correlation is not the same as causation, are many unmeasured factors that contribute to infidelity, do not use that as an excuse). Oxytocin is promoting feelings of trust and security, it was named “cuddle chemical” or "moral molecule" for the obvious reason. Serena Rodrigues did a research which was showing that oxytocin increase monogamous tendencies in mamalian species. Also have an important role in childbirth, mother-child bonding, promoting connections, instrumental in father forming bonds with newborns, stress relieving effects, increased care not only towards your own offspring, but others offspring too, even other species. Oxytocin is a neurochemical enabler of trust, devotion and kindness (as it was shown in Kosfield experiment).

To summarize this, love is a motivational state associated with a desire to enter or maintain a close relationship with a preferred individual. Love plays a role in mediating reward and goal-directed motivation. It can change you way of thinking and behave, due to intensely focused attention on the specific other person. On MRI studies, love is increasing significantly the activity in ventral tegmental area (VTA), medial insula, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), hippocampus, nucleus accumbens (NAC), caudate nucleus and hypothalamus. At the same time, the activation of amygdala, prefrontal cortex (PFC), temporal lobes and temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) will decrease. The brain region involved in the love process can be divided into subcortical and cortical brain networks where first mediates reward, motivation and emotion regulation, and second supports social cognition, attention, memory, mental associations and self-representation. We can assume that falling and being in love may affect the underlying functional architecture structure of the involved brain regions. Love may change the function of the reward, motivation and emotion regulation brain network. A person in love will try frequently to monitor their own emotional state, as well as their lovers’ emotional state, monitoring conflicts while adjusting cognitive strategies in order to resolve conflicts so as to maintain their romantic relationship. We can observe two patterns in this case, in the brain activity. First, at sub-cortical level, we cave a hyper-activation in the neuronal systems that regulate pleasure, emotional processing and sensory integration (notice more, feel more), Second, we have a widespread deactivation in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in higher cognitive processes like rational decision-making and long term planning (love is a mild form of temporary madness). The effect diminishes over time, but not completely.

Now we go with the flow. First stage is similar, with a testosterone increase as in the lust phase. Second and last stage we got the initial increase of dopamine and norepinephrine (coming with the heightening of the focus), endorphin increase in the middle part of last stage (bringing calm and peacefulness) and oxytocin increase at the end (the flow's afterglow phenomenon). But we have few notable differences here. First is related to time, the entire process of falling and being in love will develop over a 3-4 years period, while you can experiment all this being in flow in one afternoon only. The biggest surprise was when we measured the serotonin levels. When we start to be in love, serotonin decrease dramatically. Our focus and ability to make decisions are also affected. But when you are in flow, the serotonin levels increase. Flow follow focus, so when you are falling in love, because of your lack of focus, is much more difficult to get in flow. But if you are in flow, it is easier to fall in love? Let's see. Dopamine is the one neurochemical involved in this situation. It is also the one behind shopping addiction, but this is a story for another time. Dopamine makes everything look good. Remember that time when you went to an exotic place in holiday, and risk and novelty got you in peak state. Then you have seen a person and fall in love. Everything was perfect. Then holiday is finished, you come back, and return to your normal state, out of flow. Things start to not look well . Many relationships of this kind will not survive after coming back.

So, being in love make it almost impossible to get in flow, being if flow can help you to fall in love, but it is not the genuine feeling. What we can do? It is any solution to have what is the best of both?
Yes. It is possible, but involve some work. A lot of work. You need to become an evolved being. Imagine that, until know, you were only that tiny caterpillar. In order to do this, you need to become a butterfly.

Some people talk about the third super feeling, defined by ancient Greeks as Agape, the selfless love. the love of the spirit, not the one of the limited Ego. Yale university had done a research involving people practicing loving kindness (people that are known to us as Buddhist monks). The reward process parts of the brain, very active while being in love (or addicted to cocaine), are deactivated at people practicing selfless love (the more experienced you are, the more deactivated the brain reward mechanism it is). While the romantic love feels like flow, the selfless love is like flow. When attention is not self centered, but oriented towards the entire humanity, that moment, the selfless love will mimic flow perfectly. And you start to feel whole again. It is almost a religious experience, it is more than that even.

In conclusion, it is possible to be both in flow and in love, but not in the way you were thinking. It is the subtle focus from "I am" to "You are".

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Quote of the day

"The teacher is always the one who learn the most."

Is that true? Some people believe that they are learning at their best when they are teaching others. Speaking from a technical view, resuming you knowledge and explaining what you know to others, you reconnect to your already formed neuronal pathways and you reinforce them. It is a good way to power up your memory, especially if it is about something that is your passion. As Richard Back said, we are teaching the best what we really need to learn about. I hope you will think about this for tow seconds and you will use this nice trick next time when you need to become better at something.

Good night my friends!

Monday, 22 February 2016

The pretending theory of a red ninja scarf and the goose's drawers

I forget it. I don't know how, but I forget it.
What did I forget?
Do you remember a moment when you were just a child, and you were perfectly happy, without no reason at all?
I don't. I can't remember anymore.

I am an adult now. I buried all my childhood dreams deep down, under so much self importance.
And why? Doesn't matter anymore.

It's a time to live. It's a a time to love.
I open my eyes.

I want to tell to everyone that they have the possibility  be happy.
Everyone has the choice be happy.
Everyone has the obligation to be happy.

I am a child again.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Love and flow in our peak state, or how i learn to skate through life (part 1)

This is an excerpt from my future book, even if i cannot call it a book as i wrote only 10 pages. But it is very interesting and i like to debate about this. 

Flow - is a state of mind when you are connected with everyone and everything around you, when you go through life with a spirit like the water (the alleged mizu-no-kokoro), without any real obstacle. 

Love - especially romantic love, is one of the most powerful feeling that you can find anywhere on Earth. Not kidding, a study in anthropology involving no less than 170 societies, searching for evidence of romantic love, reached the conclusion that there is no society without love to be present. 

Now, both love and flow are characterized by intense focus and intense euphoria. But when you love someone, your attention is focused on that person, when you are in flow, your attention focus will shift from deep inside to being aware and perfectly integrated in the whole outside world. If we get an analogy with the Light, surprisingly, falling in love is like a huge firework explosion, while being in flow is like the Light focused in a laser beam. And from this different view, few questions come to life. What is harder, to focus in one point and maintain that focus indefinitely or to expand into infinity? Can you fall in love when you are in flow? Can you go in flow when you are in love? Do they overlap? How can we maintain our flow, or the initial intensity of being in love? I will try to answer to all these questions, from biochemistry perspective. 

To fully understand this you need to find what really happen to us when we fall in love, or when we are in love. There are three main areas of the brain that are activated in romantic love. First one is the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a part of the brain containing A10 cells, the ones that make dopamine. VTA is part of the brain's reward system, some scientist describe this area as the reptilian core of the brain, associated with wanting, motivation, focus and craving. The feelings processed by VTA are much bellow cognitive thinking process, even bellow basic emotions. As a significant synchronicity, same brain region is activated by cocaine rush. But love is much more. Why? If you really want, you can completely erase the habit of using cocaine. That is the reason why some believe that, if you fall in love romantically, it is better to be sure that the other person is feeling the same way about you. VTA become even more active when you cannot get what you want. Dumped, you just love harder. The second area activated by romantic love is the core of nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain that is activated when you are willing to take big risks for big gains or big losses. The third area activated is the one associated with deep attachment to another individual. According to the research done by Art Aron, at the people who are still in love after 25 years, the brain areas associated with intense romantic love are still active, like in the beginning. 

What are our conclusions? Romantic love is addiction, as good or as bad as the relation with the chosen one is going well or not. In this process, we have all the characteristics of a typical addiction: tolerance (you need to see or to stay close to the other person more and more), withdrawal (a symptom where one would experience major depression when he or she having access to something/someone that is addicted of it, after being dependent on it) and relapse (you can easily get back in a former state and/or condition, even after you were thinking that you got over it). As humans, the implications are far more subtle than our far cousins, the primates, for example. In the animal kingdom everything is simple, thanks to the pheromones & company, we have only love at first sight. But we will speak about this with other occasion. 

And the question remains. Why we fall in love? They tested socioeconomic background, level of intelligence, level of good looks, religions values, childhood, personality types according to biology, as in measured degrees of dopamine, serotonin, estrogen and testosterone. (If you are wondering about, search The Braverman Test) Why we feel that a person makes us to fall in love with rather than another? We do not know yet. The magic is still there. 

(That's it for today, in the second part i will write about the three stages of love, the three stages of flow and the major difference between them, we keep in touch.)

Good night everyone!


Friday, 19 February 2016

The vagus nerve, my pride and Tara, the Hindu goddess of compassion

   Just to point our another great alternative way to become more happy, or why we should integrate meditation in our daily routine. The vagus nerve, maybe you heard about it, maybe you don't, also known as the "caretaking" nerve, it is having connections with the oxytocin network, it is linked with a stronger immune response, it regulates your inflammation response, it relates with the interaction between breathing and heart rate, intervene in the digestion process and few other boring pieces of information. 
   What we need to know? The more compassion we feel, the stronger vagus nerve responds, the more pride we feel, the weaker is the response. And we care about this because higher levels of activation of vagus nerve are linked with an increase in positive emotions, more resilience to bereavement, more sympathetic prosociality of children and more trust when we interact with strangers. The vagus nerve strongly relates to altruism and prosociality. And the good news! Higher levels of activation can be cultivated through specialized exercise and meditation. Another good reason to start to do that again. Isn't it?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Love and on-the-peak state

I am working at some interesting ideas, if is not too large I will post something about very soon.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

The vulnerable ape model

Humans are agents capable of helping others, learning new behaviors and forgetting old ones. The evolutionary approach to archaeological systems has therefore been hampered by the 'modern synthesis' - a gene-centered model of evolution as a process that eliminates those that cannot handle stress. The result has been a form of environmental determinism that explains human evolution in terms of heroic struggles and selective winnowing. Biologists committed to the modern synthesis have either dismissed agency as a delusion wrought in our bodies by natural selection, or imposed a sharp, Cartesian split between 'natural' and 'artificial' ecologies.

We revisit the seminal literature of evolutionary biology and show that the paradigmatic fault lines of 21st century anthropology can be traced back to the 19th century and beyond. Lamarck had developed a two-factor evolutionary theory - one factor an endogenous tendency to become more advanced and complex, the other an exogenous constraint that drove organisms into conformity with environment. Darwin tried to eliminate the progressive tendency and imposed linearity constraints on evolution that Thomas Henry Huxley rejected. When experimental evidence falsified Darwin's linear hypothesis, the race began to develop a new, gene-centered model of evolution. This became the modern synthesis.

The modern synthesis is now under pressure from the evidence of anthropology, sociology, paleontology, ecology and genetics. An 'extended synthesis' is emerging.

Read more here

Valentine's day, women's secret weapon and the French kiss sexy dark secret

   I wanted to start to say something about the first kiss, but then the dark side embraced me (A kiss can kill, you heard this, no, it is not the ninja art of Kunoichi kiss of death, in 10 seconds of kissing we exchange about 80 millions bacteria, so literally a kiss can, potentially, kill you. And i will not even start about the Zyka virus). I will try an anthropological approach, as one study of 168 cultures discovered that the romantic-sexual kissing (lip to lip contact that may or may be not prolonged) is only present at 46% of them. The more socially complex is a culture, the higher is the frequency of kissing.

   Why? We have multiple reasons. First of all, kissing is critical when we talk about a modern woman choice of a sexual partner. Yes, kissing is more important for women than men. Higher frequency of kissing is linked to how much freedom a woman has.

   But really, why we kiss? According to recent discoveries, when lips touch, the brain activity spikes and harmonizes. If you are sensitive enough you can even read the degree of synchronization between you two (much probably this will happen if you are a woman). This synchronization produce the conditions for a better emotional connection.

   Another theory presumes that women are covertly picking up genetic information or/and pheromones during a kiss. Claus Wedekind (in his research done in 2000 at University of Lausanne) discovered that women prefer men whose MHC ( major hystocompatibility complex) genes are different from their own, an adaptive trait to produce offspring with stronger immune systems. So kissing is in fact a "sniffing" in disguise. Even in societies where kissing is not a norm, they will have an alternative to it, like licking, biting, rubbing or sniffing. There is some evolutionary function behind it? Or it isn't?

About 80% of the hunter-gatherers cultures do not kiss, and they see it as something similar with dogs sniffing each other butts. Kissing is a learned behaviour. Before 1960, some of the scientists presumed that kissing is an attempt to recreate the mother chewing food for the infant gesture, or the baby's mouth on motherly breast. But more recent researches, as the one made by Wlodarsky/Dunbar in 2013 showed that kissing serves as a mate assessment function (and women indeed can "read" more than men through the first kiss). In a further study done in 2014, Wlodarsky and Dunbar discovered even more. Kissing for women serves as a mate assessment device in early stages of an relation, but can be used to monitor and maintain the pair bonds in later stages. When kissing, women find cues regarding genetic quality, attraction, emotional maturity and fitness level. Their sensitivity vary across the menstrual cycle, being most sensitive in the high conception risk phases. For men only: in the light of those studies, you can be a very good kisser for one person, and a bad kisser for another. Do not be offended, it is only genetics. A good first kiss will increase your chances to going on a date or casual sex, making you more attractive for that specific woman. Some of this information will almost make me reconsider my soulmate theory. What I will say next it's not a joke, but similar studies showed that a man can reach same kind of conclusions just looking at a picture of a woman.

   At last, kissing was discovered to be a behavioral adaptation to stimulate desire and loyalty in a socially powerful male. Kissing for pleasure? You wish. Or you are a man. The conclusions are that women are not only hopeless romantic souls, they also kiss for freedom, control and to gather information.

Monday, 8 February 2016

How to be happy for ever ( Not a fairy tale! )

I will just underline some ideas in order to get a structure for my thoughts. If you are an intelligent, you can apply this concept even further. As the story said: the only limit is your imagination.

- Obstacles in maintaining a higher level of happiness are:
a) a genetically determined set point for happiness , our average level of happiness will gravitate towards this value
b) happiness is a long life trait, and this kind of traits are not easily to change. It is possible, but it is implying a lot of effort.
c) hedonic adaptation - we adapt to all the positive (and negative) things (we get used with the good life), even if we receive a boost, it is only temporary.

-How to achieve sustainable increases of our happiness
a) the happiness set point is fixed, stable over time and immune to influence and control. We do not know any way to change it as he reflects immutable intrapersonal, temperamental and affective personality traits. Not a good way to increase happiness
b) circumstantial factors will provide a temporary boost, that it is rapidly lost due to hedonic adaptation. Work well on short term, but not feasible on long term.
c) intentional activity - we are talking about behavioral, cognitive and volitional activity. Hedonic adaptation seems to be much weaker in case on intentional activity. The slowest hedonic adaptation is observed in the volitional activity.

Positive activity based changes last much longer than circumstantial changes, and volitional activity seems to be the best way to enhance and maintain happiness almost permanently. 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Happy child, happy parent, happy everyone (even happy you)

I am researching some interesting stuff about how to raise a child and how to be a better parent, as a result of babysitting my 6 months old nephew for two days. I will write about this as soon as i have some free time.
Also interesting stuff about the art of happiness, but is a lot of information, i will try to summarize that for you too.

See you,

Friday, 5 February 2016


All those gloomy afternoons,
Few of the impeding dooms,
The coach that will never came
At my bus stop on the Middle Lane.

And I'm stuck.
Yes, stuck again.
I'm so vain.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The jedi padawan and the laser shaving razor

First i was thinking, reading about this, wow, the future is closest than I thought. But then this happen. Oh, come on, good people from Kickstarter, why did you do this? Why?

P. S. After the Kickstarter failure, they are trying in indiegogo website.