Scientists Analyze Life Stories to Learn

Scientists have taken to a new and interesting study, according to an article from the New York Times. The study of the life stories of people. They claim while everyone has a very diverse background from person to person they are able to find significant similarities between the way people *perceive* the world around them, and how they react to it. While this comes as no big surprise, it is interesting to find that these traits are being analyzed and compared.

 In analyzing the texts, the researchers found strong correlations between the content of people’s current lives and the stories they tell. Those with mood problems have many good memories, but these scenes are usually tainted by some dark detail. The pride of college graduation is spoiled when a friend makes a cutting remark. The wedding party was wonderful until the best man collapsed from drink. A note of disappointment seems to close each narrative phrase.

Perhaps some of you, like me, have changed the way you used to view the past. While I can relate to those who do seem to interpret every life event with some disappointment because I at one time felt that way, I no longer do. I view the bad events of my life in a different way than I have in years past. I view the good in my life as something altogether glorious and a gift, while I view the bad in my life as the toll I must pay for living. It is out of my control, and thus, not to be upset by.

By contrast, so-called generative adults — those who score highly on tests measuring civic-mindedness, and who are likely to be energetic and involved — tend to see many of the events in their life in the reverse order, as linked by themes of redemption. [...] Often, too, they say they felt singled out from very early in life — protected, even as others nearby suffered.

While I can say that my well being has improved from the very significant change in mindset — one significant enough that few who have known me over the years can deny that I’m a different person — I find it interesting, though unsurprising, that the way I view the nature of reality is similar to others who have found improvements in THEIR wellbeing.

Those in the study who scored lower on measures of psychological well-being were more likely to see their moods and behavior problems as a part of their own character, rather than as a villain to be defeated. To them, therapy was part of a continuing adaptation, not a decisive battle.

In other words, they took their own personal problems to be part of who they are. They took things too personally. The cutting remark from a friend destroyed the pride of their graduation, because they not only saw their graduation as a personal victory, but they reviewed the outside (of themselves) remark from a friend as a personal defeat.

I’ll end this with a quote from Lifehack which I recently ran across and enjoyed:

“Don’t worry about about your personality. You don’t really have one. Personality, like ego, is a concept invented by your mind. It doesn’t exist in the real world. Personality is a word for the general impression that you give through your words and actions. [...] What fixes someone’s personality in one place is a determined effort on their part—usually through continually telling themselves they’re this or that kind of person and acting on what they say.” – Lifehack

How then, can anything be taken… personally?

Fish Oil Slows Cognitive Decline

Adding to the enormous list of benefits that already exists for Fish Oil, Fish Oil has recently been found to slow certain types of cognitive decline in the older generation with as little as small of a dose as 400mg of EPA a day.

The authors conclude that, over a period of five years, consumption of approximately 400 mg omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day had less cognitive decline than those who consumed only about 20 mg per day of the fatty acids.

The mere fact that they used such a seemingly small amount in the study in and of itself is striking to have produced such results. I personally take 2g of EPA per day, and know that in studies on depression they used anywhere from 1-3g a day of omega 3 EPA from fish oil. I’m sure the average eskimo gets a lot more than that on a daily basis too… (I wonder if they’ve considered testing populations that eat a lot of fish for cognitive decline?)

The article also notes that the cost of medical care for alzheimers patients directly and indirectly costs the US $100 billion dollars a year. An ounce of prevention is worth ten pounds of cure.