Tag self-awareness

On Emotions, Cognition, and Comedy: An Introduction

Hello everyone! My name is Melissa Cesarano, and I am a new member of the rethinkED team for the 2015-2016 school year. To introduce myself, I’d like to begin by stating that I’m quite an eccentric human with eclectic tastes and talents. I’m a yogi, actress, comedian/improviser, poet, and cognitive scientist! I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (Quakersssss!!!) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Cognitive Studies and Philosophy of Mind, and a minor in Poetics. Currently, I’m a PhD student at Columbia University in Cognitive Studies in Education. I also work at a biotech company, Evoke Neuroscience, where I serve as the company’s science writer, lecturer, and research associate. At Evoke, I’m also training to receive a certification in biofeedback and neurofeedback, which will help me acquire a more holistic approach to emotional and psychological wellness, in addition to my more academic brain expertise. Additionally, I’m attending comedy school at The Peoples Improv Theater and The Upright Citizens Brigade. I’ve co-founded my own NYC sketch comedy group, Laundry Day Comedy, and believe strongly that humor, play, and creativity are essential to our epistemic growth and self-realization as life long students; as Ludwig Wittgenstein so elegantly stated, “If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.”

My research as a Doctoral Candidate focuses on emotions. In undergrad, I felt that the cognitive realm was academically interesting, yet lacked the poetry, color, and humanity that I yearned for as an artist and creative. Admittedly, there seemed to be a lack of understanding as to where/how to fit emotions into a cognitive framework. Therefore, about two years into graduate school education, I resolved to undertake the task of understanding emotions from a cognitive perspective.

Emotions are difficult to comprehend intellectually even though they’re an integral part of our everyday lives. Nevertheless, they certainly color our interactions with others, motivate our behaviors, elucidate our passions, and are essential to our experience as humans. To clarify, they are a phenomenological manifestation of the things that matter to us. For a brief introduction to emotions (What Emotions Are (and Aren’t)) I recommend reading this riveting article in The New York Times by Lisa Feldman Barrett, the head honcho in Emotion Research (I like to call her ‘The Big LFB’):

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/opinion/sunday/what-emotions-are-and-arent.html?_r=0

Specifically, the research that I’ve been conducting at Columbia, along with my research partner Ilya, relates to teaching people abstract models of the Human Emotion System (HES). Creating accurate mental models of our own emotional functioning and grounding these principles in tangible real-life emotional situations, seems to increase self-regulation through increased self-awareness of emotional functioning in a variety of different experiential contexts. The topic of my dissertation, however, deals with the ‘naïve’ mental models that people acquire intuitively through everyday life experience prior to explicit learning of the HES. Arriving at a deeper understanding of people’s HES intuitions and misconceptions (and the cognitive processes that underlie them) through careful epistemological inquiry, should thus allow for a more effective teaching of the HES model and other social-emotional learning (SEL) concepts.

Basically, I think it’s really insane that students are taught things like ‘the laws of physics’ in school, but are never taught the ‘laws of emotions’, the causal relations and principles of our own emotional functioning. Instead, we are left with the difficult and daunting task of pretty blindly dealing with these powerful and mysterious forces. Interestingly, emotionality is delegated to ‘higher learning’, a Psych 101 lecture in the hallowed spaces of America’s college halls.

Finally, I would like to join Ali in saying that it is an absolute privilege to be a part of such an inspiring community here at Riverdale. We hope to enlighten you and to contribute to the ever-evolving educational landscape at this prestigious school. Keep a lookout for upcoming posts from the rethinkED team!

With gratitude and an abundance of smiles,

Mel

Who Helps You Doubt Well?

Who Helps You Doubt Well? | rethinked.org

WHO HELPS YOU DOUBT WELL?  You are often reminded, and tell others in turn, that as a leader you need to be both self-confident and self-aware. That is much easier said than done. Confidence, the genuine kind, requires a degree of conviction. Self-awareness, on the other hand, is borne out of doubt and uncomfortable questions. Too much of one can destroy the other, that is why we need help to navigate the tricky waters between the Scylla of numb rigidity and the Charybdis of paralyzing doubt. Left alone at the top, most leaders eventually fall prey of one or the other. Who cares enough to keep you open to alternative views and steady in the face of diversions? Who helps you tell an emerging threat or opportunity from yet another distraction?

I found this excellent question over on the Wall Street Journal where associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, Gianpiero Petriglieri, shares the top four questions he’d like to ask CEOs. In a world of constant and accelerating change, doubting well is becoming an increasingly necessary capacity, and not solely for CEOs. I love the idea of intentionally seeking out people who will help you to doubt well and thinking about how you yourself might help others do that.

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Source: Four Key Questions for CEOs via The Wall Street Journal, published November 25, 2014

Stefan Sagmeister, Paulo Coelho, Milton Glaser & Other Creatives on Rethinking the Fear of Failure …*

Stefan Sagmeister, Paulo Coelho, Milton Glaser & Other Creatives on Rethinking the Fear of Failure ...* | rethinked.org

I once received a proverb from a fortune cookie that read, “Everybody loves progress but nobody likes change.” That’s something that’s proven true again and again in both my personal and professional life. Every time we want to reach for something, we are confronted with the possibility of failure and the paralyzing fear that often comes with that possibility. So how can we manage that fear? How can we acknowledge the possibility that our efforts may crumble but still strive for what we want? I don’t believe in definitive, one-size-fits-all answers because we all wrestle with very individual amalgams of inner tensions, insecurities, hopes, dysfunctions and past experiences, but I found this series of insights on the fear of failure from various creatives very inspiring and illuminating. The series was curated by the Berghs School of Communication for their 2011 symposium on the fear of failure:

During 4 days, between 26-29th of May, we dissect, discuss, learn and listen how overcoming the fear of failure is the only path to take if you’re aiming for success. 

As part of the exhibit, the students asked several well-known creatives in various fields to send back video responses in which they discuss the fear of failure. Below are some of my favorites, but be sure to check out the Bergs School of Communication Vimeo channel to browse the full collection of responses.

PAULO COEHLO – BE AUTHENTIC

“I sit down, I breathe and I say, “I did my best, I put all my love, I did it with all my heart. So whether they’re going to like it or not, it is irrelevant. Because I liked it. I’m committed to the thing that I did.” And so far, nobody has ever refused it or criticized it or anything. Because when you put love and enthusiasm into your work, even if people don’t see it, they realize that it is there. That you did this with your body and soul. So what I encourage you to do is this and don’t worry about the fear of failure, it is a human feeling. The important thing is to move beyond this fear and to do what you think you should do.”

Paulo Coelho – on the fear of failure. from Berghs’ Exhibition ’11 on Vimeo.

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STEFAN SAGMEISTER – CULTIVATE A BIAS TO ACTION

“Specially as a student, but probably throughout life, it is very important to embrace failure and to do a lot of stuff, as much stuff as possible with as little fear as possible. And much much better to end up with a lot of crap but having tried it, than to overthink in the beginning and not do it.”
“If you don’t start it now, you will not start it later. “

Stefan Sagmeister – on the fear of failure. from Berghs’ Exhibition ’11 on Vimeo.

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REI INAMOTO – DEVELOP SELF-AWARENESS

“Knowing what you’re weak in, is probably the best way to overcome.”
“A tip is not just accepting the fear of failure and the fact that you’re going to fail at some point in your career and in your tenure at a job that you might have, but also knowing your weakness and how to overcome that weakness.”

Rei Inamoto – on the fear of failure. from Berghs’ Exhibition ’11 on Vimeo.

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SARAH MOON – REFRAME

“The failure I want to talk about is the one that comes from one’s own demand, the one that never leaves you in peace, the one that is supposed to be the contrary of success but here again, what does success mean? In my view, it hasn’t got much meaning, it is more about achievement in the sense of doing as much as you can. That’s what success should be. So fear of failure, at the end, can be a good natural instinct that allows you to make mistakes, and that therefore, find a new road and maybe, a surprise.” 

Sarah Moon – on the fear of failure. from Berghs’ Exhibition ’11 on Vimeo.

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MILTON GLASER – CULTIVATE A GROWTH MINDSET, BE T-SHAPED, WHEN IN DOUBT,  ASK: WHAT WOULD PICASSO DO?

“The consequence of specialization and success is that it hurts you. It hurts you because it basically doesn’t aid in your development. The truth of the matter is that understanding development comes from failure. People begin to get better when they fail—they move towards failure, they discover something as a result of failing, they fail again, they discover something else, they fail again, they discover something else. So the model for personal development is antithetical to the model for professional success. As a result of that, I believe that Picasso is the most useful model you can have in terms of your artistic interests. Because whenever Picasso learned how to do something, he abandoned it. And as a result of that, in terms of his development as an artist, the results were extraordinary. It is the opposite of what happens in the typecasting for professional accomplishment.”

“One question is, what are you afraid of? Is it the condemnation of others—if you do something and it is inadequate is the criticism of critics and other experts and even your friends and relatives that embarrasses you, that makes you unwilling to go forward? Of course, there’s also in professional life the fear is that you won’t get anymore work because visible failure is a detriment, people think, and perhaps correctly, that you don’t know what you’re doing. So there is that inhibiting factor. Another one that may be more profound and more interesting is our own self criticism. A characteristic of artistic education, is for people to tell you that you’re a genius, and that you’re an artistic genius, and that you’re a creative genius. And so everybody gets this idea if they go to art school that they’re really a genius. Sadly, it isn’t true. Genius occurs very rarely. So the real embarrassing issue about failure is your own acknowledgement that you’re not a genius, that you’re not as good as you thought you were. And doing a project that is truly complex and difficult tests your real ability and since we all have a sensitive ego, alas, within our confident facade, the thing that we most fear in regard to failure is our own self-acknowledgement that we really don’t exactly know what we’re doing. There’s only one solution, and it relates to what I was saying earlier, you must embrace failure, you must admit what is, you must find out what you’re capable of doing and what you’re not capable of doing. That is the only way to deal with the issue of success and failure because otherwise you simply will never subject yourself to the possibility that you are not as good as you want to be, hope to be, or as others think you are. But that is, of course, delusional. So my advice, finally, about fear of failure, which is a kind of romantic idea, there’s only one way out—embrace the failure.”

Milton Glaser – on the fear of failure. from Berghs’ Exhibition ’11 on Vimeo.

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[Hat Tip: Famous Creators on the Fear of Failure via Brainpickings]

Celebrating Frida

Happy birthday Frida Kahlo!

Frida, who was born in Coyoacán in 1907, would have been 106 today. She is a great rethinked…* inspiration & hero and we hope you join us in celebrating her this weekend.

Watch a free online biographical documentary on Frida:

 

Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI

Enjoy some of the her own and family photographs from Frida Kahlo: Her Photos by James Oles, Horacio Fernadez, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio and of course Frida Kahlo

 

    

 

 

 

Te vas? No. Alas rotas

 

Excerpts from her journal printed in The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait edited by Carlos Fuentes

 

(Left) HIS BROTHER NEFERDÓS

(RIGHT) AVE [AVI-] RIA [ARY]

 

(Left) STRANGE COUPLE FROM THE LAND OF THE DOT AND LINE . ____________ . ____________ . “ONE-EYE” MARRIED THE BEAUTIFUL “NEFERISIS’ (THE IMMENSELY WISE) IN A MONTH OF HEAT AND VITALITY. . OF THIS UNION BORN TO THE THEM WAS A BOY STRAGE OF FACE AND HE WAS NAME FERUNICO, AND IT WAS HE WHO FOUNDED THE CITY COMMONLY KNOWN AS “LOKURA”

(Right) Portrait of Neferúnico. Founder of Lokura.

Alone with my great happiness with the very vivid memory of the little girl. It has been 34 years since I lived that magical friendship and every time I remember it it comes alive and grows more and more inside my world. PINZÓN 1950. Frida Kahlo LAS DOS FRIDAS Coyoacán Allende 52

                     Jealous


(Left) Feet what do I need them for If I have wings to fly. 1953

 

(Left) my fault? I admit, my great guild as great as pain it was an enormous exit which my love came through. A very quiet passage that was leading me toward death I was so neglected! That it would have been best for me. You are killing yourself! YOU ARE KILLING YOURSELF There are some who will never forget you! I took their strong hands Here I am, for them to live. Frida

(Right) Years. Waiting with anguish hidden away, my spine broken, and the immense glance, footless through the vast path….Carrying on my life enclosed in steel. Diego!

(Left) NOT AS MAD AS A HATTER

 (RIGHT) JULY 1953. Cuernavaca Supporting points In my entire figure there is only one, and I want two. For me to have two they must cut one off It is the one I don’t have the one I have to have to be able to walk the other will be dead! I have many, wings. Cut them off and to hell with it!!

 

(Left) The horrible “Eyesaurus” primitive ancient animal, which dropped dead to link up the sciences. It looks up . . and has no name. –We’ll give it one: THE horrible EYESAURUS!

(Right) Astonished she remained seeing the sun-stars and the live-dead world and being in the shade.

(Left) pain – pleasure and death are no more than a process for existence XXXX the revolutionary struggle XXXXX in this process is a doorway open to intelligence

(Right) Anniversary of the revolution 7th of November 1947 Tree of Hope stand firm! I’ll wait for you– You responded to a sense with your voice and I’m full of you, waiting for your words which will make me grow and will enrich me. DIEGO I’m alone.

Who is this idiot?

 

(right) dog

(left) What a dish!

 

 

   (left) This pen is no good for this paper. I have never seen tenderness as great as Diego has and gives when his hands and his beautiful eyes touch Mexican Indian sculpture.

(right) No one is more than a function–or part of a total function. Life goes by, and sets paths, which are not traveled in vain. But no one can stop “freely” to play by the wayside, because he will delay or upset the general atomic journey. From this comes discontent. From this comes despair and unhappiness. We all would like to be the sum total and not one of the numerical elements. Changes and struggles disconcert us, terrify us because they are constant and certain, we search for calm and “peace’ because we foresee the death that we die every second. Opposites unite and nothing new or arhythmic is discovered. We take refuge in, we take flight into irrationality, magic, abnormality, in fear of the extraordinary beauty of the truth

(left) Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep I’m falling asleep

 (right) 1st. I’m convinced of my disagreement with the counterrevolution–imperialism–fascism–religions–stupidity–capitalism–and the whole gamut of bourgeois tricks–I wish to cooperate with the Revolution in transforming the world into a classless one so that we can attain a better rhythm for the oppressed classes. 2nd. a timely moment to clarify who are the allies of the Revolution    Read Lenin–Stalin–Learn that I am nothing but a “small damned part of a revolutionary movement. Always revolutionary never dead, never useless.


               Don’t come crying to me! Yes, I come crying to you.

                      (Left)  March 53. My Diego. I’m no longer alone. Wings? You keep me company. You lull me to sleep and make me come alive

(Right) I love Diego ~ Love

(Right) Chabela Villasenor– Ruddy Long Live comrades STALIN, MAO      Life   Death     WORLD DOE PAINTER POET     Long live Marx Engels Lenin

                      (Left) Color of poison. Everything upside down. ME? Sun and moon feet and Frida

Perhaps the most salient way to pay homage to Frida’s life and work is by embodying her spirit and attitude in our thoughts and actions. Frida dug deep inside herself and lay bare what she found, in all its beauty, gore, messy and chaotic glory. She sought the very human, those parts in herself that defined her condition, perception and experience of existence. She was not afraid to search for the things that hurt, and she was not ashamed to the show the ugly parts either. Frida’s art and life are one of the most touching, deep and honest message of love and respect for the human being–in all that she encompasses:  her flaws and weaknesses and immense capability and eternal possibility to imagine a different way.

So this weekend make a special effort to get in touch with the very human, very organic, messy and beautiful side of yourself. Realize that we all bleed and that we are all in search of connection and meaning. Take a step back and evaluate yourself honestly, what are the more negative things you see? How could you create a design challenge around the things you want to change? And how could you celebrate all the positive you see in yourself and others? Make this weekend a time of reflection and rethinking; get outside of yourself and into others, act with courage, compassion and imagination. & journal away…

~ Happy Frida Weekend ~

 

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