A note made from Germain Greer’s speech

Yesterday evening I attended a 2015 Hadyn Ellis Distinguished Lecture – “Women & Power: the Lessons of the 20th Century” made by Professor Germain Greer.  There was no picture and recording that I can share as Professor Greer did not like it. I respected it.

As a woman myself, I probably haven’t done anything particularly to seek equal opportunities for women in education and employment, like the feminists did. I assume that in the theater there were few people like me who didn’t know her feminism influence and her arguable viewpoint on transgender people. But obviously in the theater there were few people like me who is a Chinese and grew up and largely educated in China where women had equal vote right to men in 1949 (the same time when P.R.China was established).

May be because of the recent Paris attacks, the security and safety of the event was overwhelmed: security staff and policemen were around the venue, two times of ticket checking, one bag checking, and security staff stood in front of the theater watching the audience.

About 10 protesters again Professor Greer (mainly about her previous statement on transgender people) were outside of the venue. They were quiet and had clear message boards in hand.

The theater was almost full and the Vice-Chancellor started the event.

Professor Greer had both intellectual rigour and a sense of humour. Mostly sarcasm! I couldn’t understand all her jokes because I lack of knowledge about Western history and culture. She talked about the issues such as women vote, unequal pay and opportunities between women and men, “unskilled” from low payment, abortion, and sex-selective abortion. She encouraged women to endeavour to gain power for themselves but have fun in it. Those issues are closely related to women, however, she didn’t talk these issues without showing evidences. She didn’t try to convince you to believe her without having your own different opinions. It’s the free speech and the open critical face-to-face dialogue that influence people. I was thinking if a strong but clear viewpoint was stated by an ordinary person, probably no media would care much or think twice. If it was made by famous people like Professor Greer, it would call a lot of attention and bring up debates, which is a good thing. Why can’t we talk and learn from each other?

There are some viewpoints below that made me think more (they are not quite her own sentences).

  • What do women vote for? What do you think the vote accomplishes?
  • Equality is not enough.
  • Abortion and not allowing abortion, which is good or right for women?  (Not talking about what the law says, there are a lot of individual circumstances here! It’s case by case! Only people who are in the situation know it the best, however they are too busy of thinking between keeping or losing the baby to think of this issue.)
  • Women are not supporting each other enough, at least are not as much as men do to support each other.
  • It’s not the economic status that women need to seek, it’s the power that matters.

I was thinking about why I didn’t do as much as the feminists did?

Recalling my own experience, I was brought up in a family that girls are as good as boys though the culture at the time was that boys are better than girls. My parents/teachers didn’t say I shouldn’t do so and so because I was a girl. I studied in the same classroom with boys and went to university by passing the same exams. We had 1/4 female students in the subject and male classmates were nice to us. I worked in a core team in a company and I was the only woman in the team. I did the same job to male colleagues and we had the same payment. Companies encouraged young women to work in the IT positions. So in China I didn’t experience too unequal treatments because of my gender. Here I do not deny that it definitely had/has unequal treatments between women and men in life. I also don’t deny that in the same working area men in general get paid higher than women. For me it’s more about the inequality between the rich and the poor and the different opportunities from individual to individual. I wish I understand more of the issues if I didn’t experience it myself.

Advertisements

What are your rules of life?

It took me 4 months to finish reading the book The Rules of Life. This is because firstly I don’t like to be ruled by the book or the author’s suggestions. I wanted to discover if I have already applied some rules. Secondly, I’d like to see how much I remember if I don’t touch the book for a while.

There are many of the rules in the book that I would call habits or attitudes. They are in the person’s personality and beliefs that present who they are. We all more or less have them but we may be not aware of them.

The rules I like in particular are:

  • 2. You’ll get older but not necessarily wiser
  • 7. Be flexible in your thinking
  • 10. Only dead fish swim with the stream
  • 13. No fear, no surprise, no hesitation, no doubt
  • 49. Only the good feel guilty
  • 58. Know when to listen and when to act
  • 61. Keep talking
  • 69. Let your kids mess up for themselves – they don’t need any help from you
  • 73. There are no bad children
  • 95. Be part of the solution, not the problem

A few quotes I like:

Plans have to be realistic; dreams don’t. (p.38)

Live here, live now, live in this moment. (p.41)

If it’s dead, don’t go digging it up every five minutes to check if there’s a pulse. It’s dead; walk away. (p.74)

Peace is what we always need

Peace is what we always need, seek and safeguard.

In the evening, I watched the video of the China military parade that commemorates the 70th year of the World War II victory.

As a Chinese, I felt very proud. I sang with them…

From 1931 to 1945, my grandparents experienced the worst 14 years in their life. They didn’t like to talk about the hard time, but when I heard they talked sometimes, there were fragments of adventure stories for me, horrifying, frightening, dreadful, hair-raising, and incredible. I drew those worst human pictures and best human figures in my head. I felt I was so lucky that I was not born over that time. I thank the brave old generations very much.

Yes, we pursue peace and freedom.

Keep a positive attitude

I came across this post about the beauty of mathematics. I like the magic of numbers in mathematics even though I am not very good at it.

The post mentioned the mathematical equations, which I learnt ten years ago. I love it and have had the quote on my office wall since. I have made my own version of it to remind me better. It’s worthwhile to share it again.

safety-100-attitude-1-728

(image from http://image.slidesharecdn.com/SafetyBanner-123028928048-phpapp03/95/safety-100-attitude-1-728.jpg?cb=1230260574)

 

Read the quotes and change attitudes

Voice of Heart is a nice blog that collects beautiful quotes about life and love. Sometimes I feel a low mood, I go to the site and read some of the quotes. It brightens my way…

I like to read some of the quotes from tiny buddha. We all know, we all know, but sometimes we need the simple wise words to remind us again, to help us to see things in a positive way, and to make our mind in peace…

I also like to see some of the quotes on Motivational Quotes. Some are funny images, some are beautiful words.

Dr Tal Ben-Shahar – Harvard Open Courses 1504 – Positive Psychology 23

This is the last session of the Harvard Open Course 1504. It’s a summary of the whole course and a wonderful and touching collection of random students’ personal reflection from this course.

Write down two things that are particularly personally meaningful and/or interesting for you.
My immediate thought:

  • Allow ourselves to be human
  • Grateful, appreciation
  • ABCs – Affect, Behaviour, Cognition
  • 3Ms – Magnify, Minimising, Making up
  • 3 Rules in a relationship

Write down two commitments or behaviour changes you make.
My immediate thought:

  • Do more exercise – cycling every day
  • Write down gratefulness every day

Courage is not about without fear, it’s about having fear but still go ahead.

Happiness is the ultimate currency. It’s not about having a high versus low expectations, it’s about having right versus wrong expectations.

The core of change is to introduce behaviour change now.

People and their work:

  • Carl Rogers said “what is the most personal is the most general.”
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes – simplicity and complexity
  • Peter Drucker said “Don’t call me to tell me how wonderful it was. Call me and tell me what you are doing differently.”

Dr Tal Ben-Shahar – Harvard Open Courses 1504 – Positive Psychology 22

This session continues on the topic of self-esteem.

It is nature that we all have some components of the three self-esteem types. If we want to completely get ride of the dependent self-esteem, we actually are fighting with nature. It does take time to reach the third level self-esteem.

Why do we need to study independent self-esteem? Because it brings benefits as below:

  • better moral behaviours
  • better cognitive performance
  • higher level of happiness

Self-esteem is simply an attitude. It’s the attitude I have toward to the self. 

In relation to the ABC change model (Affect, Behaviour, Cognition), changing Behaviour is the most effective approach to change.

How do we enhance self-esteem?

  • behave like those people who are having high independent self-esteem. It’s important for us to have a role model, change behaviour and over time achieve the attitude.
  • pursue the things that you are interested in and have the experience of flowing.
  • take action
  • humble behaviour
  • have time to reflect on ourselves
  • integrity exercise – journalling, ask yourself “Am I just say thing to be impressed rather than to be authentic? Am I having the little lies?”

People and their work:

  • Warren Bennis – leadership, “I was not always this way.
  • Abranham Maslow – I couldn’t find people who were below the age of 45 were self-actualised. Even self-actualised people still have dependent self-esteem and independent self-esteem.
  • David Schnarch – studied how it’s in 50s and 60s that the individuals become differentiated and where the highest potential for passion is within a relationship.
  • Michael H. Kernis – 1995, stated the concept of self-esteem stability. People with low stable self-esteem were more likely to be hostile; people with more stable self-esteem were more likely to be generous and benevolent.
  • Tal’s research found that dependent self-esteem is highly correlated to instability of self-esteem and independent self-esteem is highly correlated to stability of self-esteem. He also found that narcissism is connected actually to high dependent self-esteem. High independent self-esteem people are more likely to be generous and benevolent.
  • Daniel Gilbert’s work on cognitive dizziness
  • Tim Kasser’s work on time affluence
  • Stanley Milgram’s experiment (Milgram experiment) – 63% of percentages of participants went above 350 volt, which is beyond the level where the person was not even heard any more.
  • George Loewenstein coined the concept hot-cold empathy gap
  • Nathaniel Branden – integrity and to be honest to yourself
  • Bella DePaulo’s research on lying and her research shows that basically everyone lies. People lie in average 3 times a day.
  • Melissa Christino wrote in her thesis “Your true potential lies way way down in the depths of your soul, in the pit of your stomach, past your knowledge, beyond your nervousness, and buried under your fears and anxieties.”As hidden as it may be, it is still there I know it’s there because I felt it before and I know it’s there in others too because I seen others perform miracles. There is a faint glow of unparalleled potential in all of us and when we find it – it shines.”

Dr Tal Ben-Shahar – Harvard Open Courses 1504 – Positive Psychology 21

This session goes back the topic of relationship and moves on to the topic of self-esteem.

How can we cope with conflict in relationship?

  • Asking positive question – What am I grateful for in my partner?
  • Asking positive question – What is wonderful about our relationship? What’s working?
  • Communicating about positive events (win-win)

When Tal talked about a feeling of “low self-esteem” and “punish by success”, I was surprised that I had the exact feeling before! However, I never really quested why because I thought I have a high level of requirements for myself. This session is so important for me to understand it.

Like happiness, we shouldn’t ask the question “Am I happy or unhappy?”, we should ask “How can I become happier?” Self-esteem is often misunderstood. The question we should ask is not “Do I have high or low self-esteem?” but rather “How can I enhance my self-esteem?”

Self-esteem is defined by Nathaniel Branden as “the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness.” Both competency and worthiness are essential in self-esteem.

Self-esteem is not a product of empty reinforcement. Only praise no matter what to children won’t help their self-esteem in a long run. It actually reduces their motivation to work, makes them unrealistic, and makes them less happy than they potentially could have been.

Pseudo self-esteem is the pretence of self-efficacy and self-respect without the reality.
Self-esteem is founded in the reality, in actual performance, actual success, in actual practices. It’s a product of hard work.

Self-esteem is not associated with success, not associated with social status, and not associated with money. Tal has done in-depth research on the paradox of self-esteem based on Jane Loevinger’s work and presented an epigenetic model as following:

  • The first level of self-esteem – dependent self-esteem
  • The second level of self-esteem – independent self-esteem, not contingent on others
  • The third – sense of self
The worthiness The competency
Dependent self-esteem Constant evaluation of what other people think of me
Determined by others
Look for constant approval
Compare oneself to others
Independent self-esteem Evaluate oneself according to one’s own standards
Determined by own evaluation
Looking for beautiful enemies to improve self
Not compare one to others, but compare to oneself;
Pursuing self-concordant goals
Unconditional self-esteem Not contingent
Confident enough to not involve in evaluation
Interdependent
Is not “don’t care”

Everyone has some dependent self-esteem, some components of independent self-esteem, and some components of unconditional self-esteem. The question is of degree and the model is epigenetic.

Interesting research findings:

  • Sometimes people who associate too much self-esteem are arrogance, conceit, and narcissism.

People and their work:

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson’s article on friendship in 1841.
  • Robert M. Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
  • Shelly Gable – positive psychology and relationship
  • Jane Elsner, Barbara Heilman and Amanda Horn –  2×2 matrices of communication and relationship: passive active; destructive  constructive
  • Albert Bandura, Germain Duclos, Stanley Coopersmith, Nathaniel Branden – definition of self-esteem
  • John Carlton – two important character of the most successful people: asking questions and believe themselves.
  • Daniel Goleman – emotional intelligence
  • Nathaniel Branden – self-esteem anxiety, six practices for the cultivation of self-esteem (integrity, conscious, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, purpose)
  • Richard L. Bednar and Scott R. Peterson – self-esteem as a core of underlying course, paradox of self-esteem
  • Roy Baumeister – self-esteem and narcissism
  • William James, Charles Cooley, George Mead – dependent self-esteem
  • Nathaniel Branden, Abranham Maslow, Carl Rogers – independent self-esteem
  • Maltimore Devano – dependent self-esteem
  • David Schnarch, Abranham Maslow – unconditional self-esteem

Dr Tal Ben-Shahar – Harvard Open Courses 1504 – Positive Psychology 20

This session is about humour presented by Shawn Achor. A full lecture video is here.

Shawn has a different teaching style from Tal’s. He speaks much faster but the content making people laugh.

I often think people who are humorous are genetically funny. Actually, we can use the Beta press to change the way that we actually view our environment so it’s actually adaptive for us and we learn to be humorous.

The sympathetic nervous system (which makes us energetic) and the parasympathetic nervous system (which makes us clam) work together to make us react to the world. The soprano effect, called by Shaw, is the chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Humour is like mindfulness and meditation, activates the sympathetic nervous system.

Laughing itself is both medicine and exercise.

Humour increases pain tolerance and reduces pressure. It is a luxury.

Humour is extremely contagious because we are actually hardwired for empathy for other people and the mirror neurons in our brain begin to active when we see other people laughing.

Humour is a signal of cognitive fitness.

Humour can make us transfer things that we thought were negative or bad or upsetting in the past.

Six ways of increasing your humorous level:

  • Writing Journals – write the things that make you laugh over the day, think the things funny and change the shape of it and reform the pattern in your brain.
  • Watching funny people – because of mirror neurons, you actually pick up the rhythm from them.
  • TQP (the Two Question Process) – repeating to ask the two questions to yourself “why am I so funny?”, “Why nobody recognise this?”
  • The permission to be subhuman.
  • The variety is absolutely the spice of life. The more you can change up the pattern you are doing, the more you see the potentials in your environment.
  • The Tetris Effect.
 Interesting research findings:
  • On eResources – 97:3 ratio of research on negative factors to humour research.
  • Medical School Syndrome – the way we study the world around of us actually change the lens through which we view the world
  • The Tetris Effect – It makes player see the Tetris shapes when they are not playing the game. Shaw called it as a cognitive afterimage.
  • 10 to 15 minutes of laughing is enough to burn the amount of calories of a medium size block of chocolate.
  • Our mammalian brains are actually hardwired for variety.

People and their work:

  • Three people in the area of humour research: Sigmund Freud, Henri Bergson and Shaw Achor.
  • Sigmund Freud’s book Jokes and Their Relation to The Unconscious. He argues that homour is way that allows for id impulses come out. Humour is a psychological release.
  • Henri Bergson argues that humour is the point in which we correct somebody when we slip or fall off the human developmental trajectory. Humour is a social “corractive”.
  • Shaw Achor believes that humour is a mindful lens through which we view the world. Humour is a cognitive lens.
  • Richard Wiseman’s book The Luck Factor
  • Barbara Fraley’s research on humorous and encounters
  • Eric R. Bressler studied the difference between men and women in terms of humour
  • John Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse