Brain Scans Reveal How Drinking Turns People Into Raging Assholes

We all have that friend who gets a little out of hand when they start drinking alcohol. Maybe he gets loud, or maybe she starts fights with strangers for looking at her funny. Alcohol seems to induce aggression, changing the brain in a way that makes a drunk person more likely to see minor social cues as threats, but how it does so has always been a bit of biological mystery.

Scientists found that alcohol-induced aggression was correlated to decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.

But in a paper published in the journal Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, a team of researchers led by Thomas Denson, Ph.D., of the University of New South Wales School of Psychology use brain scans to show that alcohol changes activity in certain key parts of the brain related to aggression and emotion.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique that tracks changes in blood flow in the brain, the team looked at the brains of 50 young men after they consumed either two alcoholic drinks or two non-alcoholic placebo drinks. These volunteers engaged in a task that gauged their level of aggression in the face of provocation, which revealed the parts of the brain that become more active in such situations.

These scans show how alcohol-induced aggression was related to decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, caudate, and ventral striatum, but increased activity in the hippocampus.
These scans show how alcohol-induced aggression was related to decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, caudate, and ventral striatum, but increased activity in the hippocampus.

The researchers found that alcohol-induced aggression was correlated with decreased activity in prefrontal cortex, caudate, and ventral striatum, but increased activity in the hippocampus. These parts of the brain all control key factors in aggression: The prefrontal cortex is associated with thoughtful action and social behavior, the caudate is linked to the brain’s reward system and inhibitory control, and the ventral striatum is a part of the reward system that makes you feel good when you do something good. The hippocampus, meanwhile, is associated with emotion and memory.

These results support previous hypotheses that prefrontal cortex dysfunction is associated with alcohol-induced aggression. Taking all these brain areas together, the researchers say their findings suggest that intoxicated people have trouble processing information through their working memory. In short, they suspect that alcohol focuses a person’s attention on the cues that could instigate aggression while taking attention away from their knowledge of social norms that say violence is not acceptable.

Along similar lines, they also suspect that alcohol could make relatively minor cues seem aggressive or violent, which can cause a drunk person to overreact to a minor incident, like someone looking at them funny or accidentally bumping into them at the bar. Denson’s previous research on the angry brain found a lot of overlap in the way the prefrontal cortex behaves when someone is drunk and angry versus when they’re simply ruminating on their anger while sober.

This research proposes some possible brain biomarkers for alcohol-induced aggression, which is a significant public health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, alcohol-related violence — including homicide, child abuse, suicide, and firearm injuries — was responsible for more than 16,000 deaths between 2006 and 2010, the most recent years the agency reported figures.

While the new study doesn’t propose a solution per se, it does build on our body of knowledge around an age-old question: Why do some people become assholes when they get drunk?

Abstract: Alcohol intoxication is implicated in approximately half of all violent crimes. Over the past several decades, numerous theories have been proposed to account for the influence of alcohol on aggression. Nearly all of these theories imply that altered functioning in the prefrontal cortex is a proximal cause. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment, 50 healthy young men consumed either a low dose of alcohol or a placebo and completed an aggression paradigm against provocative and nonprovocative opponents. Provocation did not affect neural responses. However, relative to sober participants, during acts of aggression, intoxicated participants showed decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, caudate, and ventral striatum, but heightened activation in the hippocampus. Among intoxicated participants, but not among sober participants, aggressive behavior was positively correlated with activation in the medial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These results support theories that posit a role for prefrontal cortical dysfunction as an important factor in intoxicated aggression.

Porn and video game addicts risk ‘masculinity crisis,’ says Stanford professor — RT News

Men who play video games “in excess” and watch online porn are facing what has been called a masculinity crisis, according to a leading US psychologist.

Reuters/Robert Galbraith

For those who think online video games and porn are passive online activities that have no real consequences in the real world, take heed.

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo interviewed 20,000 young people in the United States, 75 percent of them male, and found that excessive, solitary playing of video games and watching porn is seriously damaging the social development of young men.

“Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation – they are alone in their room,” Zimbardo, who just released a book on the subject, entitled“Man (Dis)Connected,” told the BBC in an interview.

“Now, with freely available pornography – which is unique in history – they are combining playing video games, and as a break, watching on average, two hours of pornography a week.”

Zimbardo says “excessive” use of video games and pornography is not necessarily a matter of specific time, but rather the psychological change in mindset that such isolated activities produce, where the individual begins to feel he’d rather be doing that particular activity than anything else.

Phillip Zimbardo, 82, is a psychologist and a professor emeritus at Stanford University. He is perhaps best known for his 1971 experiment in which students were asked to play the roles of ‘guards’ and ‘prisoners’ in a mock prison. Intended to continue for two weeks, the experiment was aborted in less than a week as the initially normal ‘guards’ eventually became sadistic and the ‘prisoners’ became submissive and depressed. Zimbardo has also written introductory psychology books, textbooks for college students, and other notable works, including The Lucifer Effect and the The Time Cure. Zimbardo is the founder and president of the Heroic Imagination Project.

“When I’m in class, I’ll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I’m with a girl, I’ll wish I was watching pornography, because I’ll never get rejected,” he explained. The brains of young men are actually becoming “digitally rewired” by these new pastimes.

Zimbardo says that one of the consequences is the so-called“porn-induced erectile dysfunction,” or PIED, where young men who should be sexually active are “having a problem getting an erection.”

“You have this paradox – they’re watching exciting videos that should be turning them on, and they can’t get turned on.”

While playing video games and watching pornography are not necessarily bad activities, they can begin to have a negative effect on the social development of individuals if used in excess, the psychologist said.

He believes that parents need to take more control of the situation by taking simple steps, like keeping a journal for tracking how much time is being set aside for a variety of different activities, like doing homework, reading and writing.
At the same time, schools need to rethink their sexual education requirements, and instead of placing excessive emphasis on the physical side of relations, talk more about communication and expressing emotions, he said.

“We need to set standards of excellence, and be aware that there is a problem in the first place,”Zimbardo said.

High IQ could be shield against schizophrenia, scientists say.

An Albert Einstein pumpkin is pictured at Madame Tussauds in New York (Reuters / Carlo Allegri)

An Albert Einstein pumpkin is pictured at Madame Tussauds in New York .

High intelligence might halt the development of schizophrenia, especially in genetically predisposed people, according to a large-scale study contradicting earlier, more conventional beliefs that braininess may increase risk of this disorder.

A team of US and Swedish scientists has recently established that intelligence quotient, or IQ, is an important “moderator” in the development of schizophrenia, but the link actually works the opposite way.

“If you’re really smart, your genes for schizophrenia don’t have much of a chance of acting,” said first author Kenneth S. Kendler, professor of psychiatry and human and molecular genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University.

More than 1.2 million Swedish males born between 1951 and 1975 and registered in the Military Conscription Register participated in the study that assessed their IQ at ages from 18 to 20, in late adolescence, and tracked the history of schizophrenia-related hospitalization until 2010.

High IQ lowers the risk of schizophrenia (Image from the study published in American Psychiatric Association)

High IQ lowers the risk of schizophrenia (Image from the study published in American Psychiatric Association)

It turns out, low IQ is among other factors – like fetal experience, childhood trauma or early drug use – contributing to the development of the mental illness, although there is a huge variation in the intelligence scores of people with schizophrenia.

“What really predicted risk for schizophrenia is how much you deviate from the predicted IQ that [you] get from your relatives,” Kendler said. “If you’re quite a bit lower, that carries a high risk for schizophrenia. Not achieving the IQ that you should have based on your genetic constitution and family background seems to most strongly predispose for schizophrenia.”

According to the study, a 1-point decrease in IQ increases the risk of schizophrenia by 3.8 percent, and the strongest effect was seen within families – it “nearly disappears at the highest IQ level.”


Probability of schizophrenia predicted by risk of illness in close relatives (Image from the study published in American Psychiatric Association)

Probability of schizophrenia predicted by risk of illness in close relatives (Image from the study published in American Psychiatric Association)

The study, dubbed “IQ and schizophrenia in a Swedish national sample: Their causal relationship and the interaction of IQ with genetic risk”, is said to be the largest study of the relationship between IQ and schizophrenia to date. It has been published recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that often manifests itself with poor social interaction and loss of motivation and initiative. In extreme cases psychosis, a state of losing contact with reality, flooded with hallucinations, paranoia and delusions occur. Treatment may help some people recover from the illness, although others may be affected for years, demonstrating unusual or bizarre behavior.

In the US 2.4 million adults and almost a quarter of a million Australians suffer from this severe mental disorder, which occurs in about one in 100 people worldwide.

Chronic pain could change your personality

Subtle changes in the brains of people with chronic pain could cause personality shifts that make them worry more and be less adventurous, say researchers.

Chronic pain patients are less likely to want to go out and explore the world (OcusFocus: iStockphoto)

Such personality shifts could result from other diseases too, say the researchers, whose work adds to the idea that our personality can change throughout life.

It is well known that traumatic injury to the brain from an accident or cancer can change one’s personality,” says clinical psychologist, Dr Sylvia Gustin of Neuroscience Research Australia.

But she and colleagues were interested in finding out whether more subtle changes to the brain, known to occur in people with chronic pain, could also lead to shifts in personality.

Their study, published recently in PLOS ONE, studied 22 people with chronic nerve pain on one side of their face.

“These people report a severe burning pain in their face. They say it’s like lightning or a knife through their cheek,” says Gustin, adding such pain can occur if nerves are injured during dental surgery.

Using five different brain imaging methods the researchers compared the brains of the chronic pain patients with those of healthy controls.

They also assessed the personality of participants using a 240-item questionnaire.

Gustin and colleagues found that people with chronic pain were more passive and less novelty seeking than the controls.

“Chronic pain patients are less likely to want to go out and explore the world,” says Gustin.

Imaging found chronic pain patients had greater activity in parts of the brain involved in emotions, cognition and behaviour

In particular, they had more neuronal growth in the prefrontal cortex, which is a part of the brain linked to emotions, cognition and behaviour — including seeking out new experiences.

The degree of nerve growth was correlated with the degree of personality change, says Gustin.

She says previous research in animals also showed similar changes associated with chronic pain, says Gustin.

Gustin and colleagues argue that these brain changes occur after the onset of chronic pain and lead to a reduction in novelty seeking.

Importantly, all the changes seen in the brain were on the opposite side to that of the face pain.

Given that the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa, this supports the idea that the pain was directly linked with the brain changes.

Focus on pain

Gustin thinks greater nerve growth occurs in the prefrontal cortex because people are focusing more on their pain.

“I think this is because these people are thinking and worrying more,” she says.

She says this worrying in turn could prove to be “vicious cycle” by exacerbating the brain linkages that lead to decreased novelty-seeking.

Gustin says other diseases could also lead to subtle personality changes like this.

The findings challenge a long-standing view that people don’t change their personality after the age of 18, she adds.

In future research she would like to see if it is possible to reverse brain and personality changes due to chronic pain by altering brain rhythms.

Gustin says a major outstanding question is why some people develop chronic pain in the first place and others, with the same injuries, don’t.


New Study Validates EFT’s Effectiveness.

Story at-a-glance

  • Energy psychology uses a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles
  • Recent research found that, compared to the control group, it significantly increased positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreased negative emotional states like anger and shame
  • Another recent review found statistically significant benefits in using energy psychology for anxiety, depression, weight loss, PTSD, phobias, athletic performance, cravings, pain, and more
  • A review published in the American Psychological Association’s journal found that EFT “consistently demonstrated strong effect sizes and other positive statistical results that far exceed chance after relatively few treatment sessions”

Although frequently overlooked, emotional health is critical for your physical health and healing. No matter how devoted you are to the proper diet and lifestyle, you’re unlikely to achieve optimal health if emotional barriers stand in your way.

Energy psychology uses a psychological acupressure technique based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture (which has been used to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years) but without the invasiveness of needles.

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is the most popular form of energy psychology and was developed in the 1990s by Gary Craig, a Stanford engineering graduate specializing in healing and self-improvement. I routinely used EFT in my practice, and highly recommend it to optimize your emotional health.

The method involves tapping specific points on your head and chest with your fingertips while thinking about your specific problem—be it a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc.—and voicing positive affirmations. This can be done alone or under the supervision of a qualified therapist.1

The combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the emotional block from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance.

Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, your body can often rebalance itself, and accelerate healing.

While some still view energy psychology with suspicion, EFT has actually met the criteria for evidence-based treatments set by the American Psychological Association for a number of conditions, including post-traumatic distress syndrome (PTSD).2

Research Validates EFT’s Effectiveness

In a critical review published in the American Psychological Association’s (APA) journal Review of General Psychology3 last year, researchers found that EFT “consistently demonstrated strong effect sizes and other positive statistical results that far exceed chance after relatively few treatment sessions.”

Other recent studies demonstrate how EFT can accomplish remarkable progress in a very short amount of time for people with a history of trauma. For example:

1.    A 2009 study4 of 16 institutionalized adolescent boys with histories of physical or psychological abuse showed substantially decreased intensity of traumatic memories after just ONE session of EFT.

2.    An EFT study5 involving 30 moderately to severely depressed college students was conducted. The depressed students were given four 90-minute EFT sessions. Students who received EFT showed significantly less depression than the control group when evaluated three weeks later.

Most recently, a study published in the Energy Psychology Journal6 confirmed that the benefits from EFT are the result of the tapping process and not a placebo effect. The study included 20 college students who were divided into two groups. One group did EFT while the control group received mindfulness training. Before and after the sessions, positive and negative emotions were assessed.

This included enjoyment, hope, pride, anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, boredom, and mindfulness. Overall, the EFT group experienced significantly greater increases in positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, along with greater decreases in negative emotional states like anger and shame. The study concluded that:

“No significant change was found for mindfulness. Tapping on acupoints, combined with the vocalization of self-affirming statements, appears to be an active ingredient in EFT rather than an inert placebo. The results were consistent with other published reports demonstrating EFTs efficacy for addressing psychological conditions in students.”

Tapping Alters Conditioned Responses

Such findings come as no great surprise to other researchers in the field, such as Dr. Dawson Church, Ph.D., founder of the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare. Dr. Church told the Examiner:

“We learn early on to disassociate from our emotions. EFT is a way that people can feel safe and empowered to process their emotions. When we tap and use affirmative statements, we can actually change our old conditioned responses.”

Earlier this year, Dr. Church published a review7 of more than 40 different EFT studies evaluating the effectiveness of the method. In his paper, he cites studies demonstrating the method’s effectiveness for a wide range of emotional problems, including:


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)




Weight loss and food cravings

Athletic and academic performance

Test anxiety


Dr. Church’s website,,8 is a great resource if you want to learn more about EFT and the research that has been done on each of these ailments, as well as other problems. According to Dr. Church:

“EFT has been researched in more than 10 countries, by more than 60 investigators, whose results have been published in more than 20 different peer-reviewed journals… EFT research includes investigators affiliated with many different institutions.”

It’s worth noting that as a general rule, the research being done on EFT is done using the techniques originally developed by Gary Craig.9 An expanding list of similar techniques has sprung up since then, and while they might provide similar benefits, EFT is the only empirically validated treatment version. (The APA defines an empirically validated treatment as one for which there are two different controlled trials conducted by independent research teams.)

Operation Emotional Freedom

EFT has shown particular promise in the treatment of war veterans with post-traumatic stress.10 I want to highlight this aspect of its use as PTSD is hard to treat, and studies have shown drugs like antidepressants and antipsychotics to be on par with placebo for the treatment of this condition.

The documentary film entitled Operation: Emotional Freedom,11 directed by Eric Huurre, follows a number of veterans and their families who went through intensive therapy using EFT. Gary Craig, along with other EFT practitioners worked very closely with veterans who were all suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety and a few were suicidal. The results were truly astounding. At the end of treatment, each one of them describes a new feeling of peace and hope that there is help and they were able to overcome emotional traumas experienced in combat.

The film offers a close look at the current state of health care for combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD, and examines the myths and misconceptions surrounding the chemical approach to treating emotional conditions and why drugs are not “the answer” that pharmaceuticals promise. (You can learn more about the efforts to assist veterans and their families through energy psychology on the film’s website,

Research performed by the Iraq Vets Stress Project13 also demonstrates the effectiveness of EFT. In a study that included 100 veterans with severe PTSD,14 90 percent of the veterans had such a reduction in symptoms that they no longer met the clinical criteria for PTSD after six one-hour EFT sessions! Sixty percent no longer met PTSD criteria after just three EFT sessions. At the three-month follow-up, the gains remained stable, suggesting lasting and potentially permanent resolution of the problem.

How to Perform EFT

For a demonstration of how to perform EFT, please view the video below featuring EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman. This is a general demonstration that can be tailored to just about any problem. You can also find text instructions and photographs of where to tap on my EFT page. For when you’re on the go, there are at least four different EFT applications available in the iTunes store. The apps range from a simple recap of the EFTs Basic Recipe to a sophisticated virtual coaching app for specific mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

Bear in mind that while EFT is quite easy to learn and perform, I strongly encourage you to seek out a qualified therapist for more serious or complex issues. It is an art, and tapping for deep-seated issues typically require the kind of skill that only a well-seasoned practitioner will have. If you try to self-treat, you may end up falsely concluding that EFT doesn’t work, when nothing could be further from the truth… This is particularly pertinent if you’re trying to address trauma-based stress such as PTSD or grief following the loss of a loved one.


15 Reasons Why You Should Be Independent of the “good” Opinion of Others.

“Be independent of the good opinion of other people.” ~ Abraham Harold Maslow

We are often flattered by appreciation and hurt by criticism. While it is true that approval boosts our morale and criticism depresses us, quite often an obsessive quest for approval becomes a psychological problem. People almost go in a mode of complete self-negation and keep devising ways to please others.


This brings us to the importance of the need to think and act independently of what the people talk or think about us. It should, however, be noted that in our zest for independence we should not lose sight of the legitimate sensitivities of the people around us and also the need to remain with a certain amount of social discipline. Independent thinking does not mean being anarchic. Also we should be open to helpful and constructive criticism.

There are 15 reasons why we should not be obsessed with pleasing people to seek their appreciation.

1. Constant quest for appreciation may become a psychological problem.

Most of us who think that they are not getting the type and amount of approval they expect stop interacting with the people. They become introvert. The problem aggravates further when they try to create an imaginary world where they indulge in some sort of delusive self- talking especially with people whose favourable opinions and views they seek in the actual world, but cannot get.

“You will never gain anyone’s approval by begging for it. When you stand confident in your own worth, respect follows.” ~  Mandy Hale

 2. We are all born unique individuals.

Spiritually speaking, each one of us is born as a unique soul with individual ‘sanskars’ or certain naturally endowed thought patterns. Trying to cramp them to fit into the thinking moulds of others would mean going against the very laws of divinity and nature. If you do not believe in spirituality, still, it cannot be denied that biologically each one of us has unique genes and DNA.  Forcing them to go against their natural course may prove counterproductive.

Nonetheless, independent thinking does not mean ignoring the accumulated wisdom of the ages. It also includes listening attentively to the views of those who love and care for us and balance them with our own specific biological and spiritual needs.

3. Chasing approval from others may distract us from working to achieve our goals.

It dilutes our focus on what we really wish to pursue and may ultimately impede our progress and happiness resulting out of it.

“Do not look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

4. How many people can you please by seeking their approval?

There are hordes of them and each one has their own tastes, likes and dislikes. In trying to please everyone it is likely you end up displeasing most of them.

“People who want the most approval get the least and people who need approval the least get the most.” ~ Wayne Dyer

5. Independent thinking is essential for personal and social evolution.

What would have happened if Darwin had listened to the opinions of the ‘respected people’ of the society of those days and stopped pursuing his theory of evolution?

6. Truly independent people follow their own heart and soul even at great risks.

Socrates preferred to drink hemlock rather please the people in authority and seek their approval and live like their slave. He lived and died like truly free and fearless man.

7. Constant anxiety to seek approval from others causes tension and depression.

You are always looking sideways to see if someone is looking and risk losing your chosen path.

8. Anxiety about approval or disapproval suppresses creativity.

You need to follow your instincts to live a truly joyous and happy life.

“I too will something make
And joy in the making!
Altho’ tomorrow it seem’
Like the empty words of a dream
Remembered, on waking.” ~ Robert Bridges

9. Hypocrisy and self-deception

Working to always please others is self-defeating hypocrisy and dishonesty. You force yourself to obey others even if you think they are wrong. “It is not doing what you believe is wrong or right but what others believe is right or wrong for you”. In process you do not live for the pleasure of yourself, but for others. You are killing your soul.

10. Seeking approval is like living an imagined life in others’ breath.

Any person can breathe-blow you away like a useless piece of tiny straw.

11. Fear of approval or disapproval dissipates the raw, virginal and primordial instincts and feelings that our spirit is endowed with when we are born.

It kills the purity, simplicity, joy and innocence of our soul.

“The older I get, the less I care about what people think of me. Therefore the older I get, the more I enjoy life.” ~ Unknown

12. Fear of approval and disapproval kills initiative

Ability to take free and fearless initiative is the driving force for the evolution of self and society. It is the basic quality that defines true leadership that is marked by taking bold decisions regardless of what people think of you.

13. You live an artificial rather than a natural life.

If you follow your own instincts you can fly in the soaring heights of the limitless skies. On the other hand, you stay caged like a parrot with your wings clipped, howsoever beautiful and colourful you may look. You become a slave of others rather than being a master of your own free will.

14. Seeking appreciation of others stifles your divine powers of intuition, clairvoyance and foresight.

Most people stifle their innate divine powers of intuition and clairvoyance under the pressure of approval and disapproval of people around them.

15. Fear of disapproval leads to constrained and regimented living.

Quite often you come to grief for following the approval of others rather than your own instinct.

The Story of a Lost Soul Who Forgot to Dream.

“Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you.” ~ Marsha Norman

A while back I went shopping with one of my friends. As we were looking at all the purses, scars, necklaces and all the other things that women usually look at when they go shopping, we stopped to try a pair of shoes. Because they didn’t had our size in that store, the young man working there sent one of his colleagues to bring the shoes from somewhere else and invited us to take a sit.

As we were siting there, chatting and waiting for our shoes,  I noticed how tired and sad the young man looked.


“How are you?” I asked him with a smile on my face?

Are you tired? 

You do look a bit tired.

You want to sit down and have a chat with us?

We promise not to be too annoying” and I started laughing.

“No, I am good.” he replied with a shy look on his face.

“What time did you came to work today?” I asked him again.

“It’s late, almost 10 pm.

I’m sure you’re tired.

Have you been working the whole day or did you came in in the afternoon?”

To which he replied:

“I came to work early in the morning.

Yes, I work all day every day.”

“Do you have days off?” I asked.

“I have one day every month” he replied.

My boss only gives me one day off every month.”

“What?!” I immediately asked.

“One day?!

What do you mean one day?

You come here every day, you work all day from early in the morning till late evening and you only have one day off per month?

This is crazy!”

He looked at me a bit confused and replied:

“My boss gives me only one day, yes but I am young.

I am only 18 years old.

I don’t have a family so it’s good.”

“But do you want to do this forever?” I asked him with a very surprised look on my face.

“Will you work here for a long time or do you plan to do something else?

“I don’t know.” he replied.

“I will stay here. 

I am still young.”

“But do you have a dream? Do you know what you would like to do in the future?” I asked.

To which he replied:

“No, I don’t have.

I will work here now and if my boss gives me another job I will take it.”

“So no dreams?” I asked him again.

“You really don’t know what you would love to do in the future…”

I was a bit confused and sat quiet in my sir for a few seconds and then I started talking again.

“What if there were no limits to what you could achieve?

What if you knew that you could do anything, what then?

What would you like to do if you knew that you could do it and nothing and no one would stop you?

Would your life be any different?”

“No, I don’t do that” he replied.

“I don’t dream.

I don’t know.

I don’t have money.

If I get a new job and make more money then I will see.”

“No, but what if you already had all the money you wanted or needed, what then?” I asked him, feeling all happy and excited.

“How would your life be any different?

What would you do and what would you work on?”

He looked at me very confused and replied:

“But I have no money.

I can’t do that. 

I don’t know.

If and when I will make more money I will do more but not now.

I need to make money first.”

“So you don’t have a dream?” I asked.

“There is nothing you’re passionate about?

Nothing you would love to do?

No dreams, no hidden ambitions?

To which he replied:

“No, I don’t have.

I don’t know.

I can’t do it.

I need money and if I make more money I will know more…”

Both me and my friend looked at each other and we couldn’t believe what we were hearing. We left the store feeling confused and sad at the same time.

Because I felt like I had to insist some more, right before I left the store, I told him again:

“Please, think about it some more. 

Think about your dreams, ok?

Go back to when you were a little boy and see if you can find your dreams there.

I am sure you will find them there.

Think about how your life would look like if there were no limits to who you could be and what you could achieve.

Look at it as a game. 

You’re a guy… Guys love games. 

Make it a game.

Think of how your life would look like if there were no limits and start from there.

Find your dreams!

Follow your dreams…”

I really wanted him to think about I told him and to work on discovering and following his dreams but who knows if that will ever happen..

You see, for the past one year or so, I became very intuitive and I got really good at reading people and at what I call “seeing into their souls”. Whenever I see a sad, lost and lonely soul, I immediately jump in and start a conversation in the hope that a seed of greatness will be planted into their beautiful minds and their lives will eventually be transformed. I can’t help it, it’s who I am at the moment

“How can a 18 year old work such long hours and have only one day off per month?” I kept asking myself.

“How come he had no dreams?

He wan’t even able to use his imagination, escape his current reality and envision a better life for himself… 

Dreams are free, how can he have none?”

His story made me feel sad and confused at the same time. Because he was so caught up in his current reality (which was all about making a living), he was too afraid to even dare to think how his life would look like if there were no limits to what he could be, do and have…

I understood him perfectly.

I know how it feels like to be lost in the dark. I know how it feels like not to have a sense of direction, to wake up every morning dragging your body from your bed, not wanting to do many of the things you “have” to do and live a life that has no meaning… Been there, done that.

When I was younger, I had no dreams either. I didn’t even know what dreams were made of.  I was too caught up in my sad and unhappy reality to even dare to dream.

There are some basics needs that need to be met before moving on to daring to dream and even though a lot of times it may be hard to forget about your sorrows and build in your mind’s eye a better picture on how you would like your life to look like, it’s essential for your own health, happiness and wellbeing.

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.” ~ Karen Ravn

Dreams keep you alive. Dreams keep you young, giving you faith, vitality and energy to do many of the things your soul longs for. Dreams give meaning to your life.

You need dreams to stay alive. Without dreams your soul dies little by little and all you have left is a soulless walking body and a soulless life.

I started dreaming just a few years ago and my life continued to get better and better from that point onwards.

The question that inspired me to start dreaming was the same one I have asked that young man:

“If there were no limit to what you could achieve, how would your life look like?”

I am now living my life thinking that there are no limits to what I can be, do and have and the funny thing about it is that many of the limits I used to impose on myself years ago have disappeared. It’s  true what they say, “there are no limits to what you can be, do and have, only those you choose to impose on yourself.”

No matter how hard this may be to digest, I can tell you for sure that there is a lot of truth in these words. It’s us who limit ourselves, not the world around us.

The more I follow my heart and intuition and the more I live my life thinking that there are no limits to what I can achieve, the more I realize how true the following words from Patanjali really are: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

Dare to dream. You don’t have to dream big if you feel like you’re not ready. Start with one small dream at a time. Have faith. Trust yourself and when in doubt, let the words of Harriet Tubman to give you strength and courage:”Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”




3 Ways to Follow Your Passion While Still Working a Full Time Job.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. ~Confucius

We have all been there – sitting in our cubicle staring into the distance, dreaming of the day when you could leave it all behind and really follow your passion.  Safe inside those four walls it sounds so nice, and just outside your grasp.  But how do you really develop the skills and income needed to leave your job, while still working at your full time job?  It’s hard to stay motivated and pursue your passion when you don’t have that much extra energy after work.


Here are 3 ways you can keep nurturing your dreams and following your passion, so that when you’re ready to leave the full time job, the path is laid out before you.

1. Keep the Inspiration Alive

Whatever your dream is, make sure it stays alive and real.  Don’t let your ideas fester in your head, only to wilt away.  Feed it, give it a life of its own. Connect with your passion in real life – take classes, go to lectures, attend meetups with folks interested in similar activities.  If you’re passionate about becoming a life coach, attend a coaching seminar or workshop in your area.  If you long to become a yoga teacher, make sure you’re taking classes at a yoga school that also helps train new teachers.

Join online communities of likeminded folks, so you start building your network of people with similar ideas, dreams and passions as yourself.  Tell your old friends and new community about your dream.  It helps make it real and gives you invested stakeholders to support you on your way.

2. Connect with Other People Farther Along Your Path

You can learn from them what to expect, and what the potential pitfalls and benefits are.  It’s a fine line between connecting with people who are doing what you want to do and idolizing people who are years ahead of you.  It can be damaging to look at highly successful people and try to map your journey to theirs, because the distance is daunting.  Especially if you’re just starting out, this can cause paralysis and overwhelm.  We want to avoid that and keep you moving towards your dreams in an informed way.

Mentors are an amazing thing.  Build relationships with people that inspire you, and ask them to mentor you.  It’s a fast track for learning more about your chosen path, quickly.  Mentors can inspire you, support you, and help you understand the next steps in your journey.

3. Gain Experience

As much as possible, get your feet wet before leaving your job.  This way you will know if you really like it, or just loved the idea of it.   It’s totally fine to like an idea more than the reality of something – and it’s good to know if that’s the case before you cut ties (and loose a paycheck).  If you do love it as much as you think you do, it’ll only motivate you more to keep following your passion – and the time gaining experience will give you a solid boost when it’s time to spread you wings and fly on your own.

All of these things can be done after work or on the weekends.  Generally, the more we love something, the more reward we feel doing it, the more motivated we are to invest more time in it.  So don’t be surprised if these start out as one or two hour a week activities that end up taking most of your time! That’s a good thing, it means you’re on the right path, following your passion, making your dreams happen.

If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. ~Joseph Campbell


What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?

Did you know that how you write can indicate more than 5,000 personality traits? The size of your letters, spacing between words, shapes of letters and more can all signify different characteristics. Handwriting analysis (also known as graphology) can even be used for detecting lies and revealing possible health ailments. Check out the infographic below to learn what your handwriting says about you. It’s also fun analyzing the handwriting of your friends and family members, so be sure to hand it off or pass it along!



The sport hormone?

A review argues that the hormone oxytocin affects athletic performance, because of its role in modulation of emotional and social processes important to team sports. Jill Jouret reports.

In elite sports, winning can come down to subtle aspects of performance. For example, an individual’s gestures and expressions of emotion can affect team performance and a contest’s outcome. A study of touch behaviour (eg, high-fives, chest bumps) among players in America‘s National Basketball Association showed that teams who touched more had better season records. An investigation of football players’ body language after successful penalty kicks in World Cup and European Championship matches noted that specific celebratory behaviours were associated with the team eventually winning a shootout. Perhaps the emotional display by the elated kicker led to a positive emotion in a teammate, who struck the ball better on his attempt. Whether through touch or emotional expression, trust and goodwill communicated among players motivates the team toward higher achievement.

review by Gert-Jan Pepping and Erik J Timmermans, published in September, 2012, in The Scientific World Journal, argues for oxytocin as the biochemical basis of such emotion transfer that can lead to enhanced performance in team sports. Via its action as a peripheral hormone and a central neurotransmitter, oxytocin modulates a diverse range of mammalian processes. Peripheral effects include regulation of uterine contraction during labour, stimulation of lactation, and modulation of inflammation. Oxytocin receptors are expressed by neurons in the brain and spinal cord, and it has been shown to affect pair bonding, maternal behaviour, and sexual receptivity. Oxytocin is destroyed in the gastrointestinal tract, and does not seem to cross the blood—brain barrier when given intravenously, so its effects are studied in animals by injection of a synthetic form directly into the brain, and in humans via administration of a nasal spray.

Oxytocin is often referred to as the feel-good hormone, because it is released in response to touch and is associated with feelings of calmness and stress reduction. A positive feedback loop means that higher oxytocin concentrations further increase the desire for tactile interaction. This association seems to be the basis for its role in promotion of mother—child bonds and fidelity in monogamous pairs. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience provided behavioural evidence of oxytocin’s involvement in maintenance of bonds among committed couples. After administration of intranasal oxytocin, men in monogamous relationships kept a greater distance between themselves and an attractive researcher than did those given placebo, and approached an attractive image more slowly, whereas no such effect was seen with single men. No wonder oxytocin is also known as the love hormone.

In their review, Pepping and Timmermans outline the argument for giving oxytocin yet a third moniker—the sports hormone. Positive emotions and prosocial behaviour are associated with improved performance in achievement settings in general, hence increasing investment in work environments that enhance team spirit and boost individual motivation. In sports, emotional expressions underpin the continuing exchange of information and mood between teammates and opponents. An emotional display by one player can inspire a similar mood in teammates, and the team’s overall disposition can motivate individual performance. This convergence of mood, or emotional contagion, is a key element in team unity. Measuring a player’s hormone levels during competition is a logistical challenge, but the studies reviewed by Pepping and Timmermans show that, in controlled settings, oxytocin affects processes central to emotional contagion and social perception.

Empathy denotes cognitive ability to adopt another person’s point of view, or emotional capacity to have a shared feeling on the basis of another person’s experience. Cognitive empathy is an important quality for an athlete, since it allows them to understand and predict other players’ behaviour, and emotional empathy contributes to convergence of mood (and motivation) among teammates. The Multifaceted Empathy Test is used to measure empathy, by asking study participants to rate emotional reactions to pictorial stimuli; those given one dose of intranasal oxytocin before the test reported higher empathy than those given placebo. Intranasal oxytocin also improved performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, which measures participants’ ability to infer a mental state from subtle facial cues.

Reading emotions such as fear or determination in other players can help athletes make quick decisions about their own actions, and oxytocin seems to be a key biological component for processing these social cues. Pepping and Timmermans describe a study in which MRI showed higher brain activity in specific regions associated with emotion recognition when participants given oxytoxin (vs placebo) were shown images of facial expressions. One dose of oxytocin also improved recognition (ie, at lower intensities) of an emotion emerging on a dynamic, computer-generated face that started with a neutral expression.


Studies showing an effect of oxytocin on gaze behaviour suggest a mechanism for how it modulates emotion recognition, and provide further evidence of its involvement in social exchanges. Tracking the eye movements of men given intranasal oxytocin (vs placebo) showed longer gaze duration and fixation on the eye region of neutral faces. Eyes are the main source of information in interpersonal communication, and gaze behaviour is central to impression-forming among athletes. Sports psychologists have studied gaze behaviour in the context of football penalty kicks, to define the best kicking strategy (eg, to look or not to look at the target), but from a goalkeeper’s point of view, kickers who gaze directly at them for longer create a more imposing impression. To the extent that oxytocin is involved in detection of confidence or fear, a boost in either party could make the difference.

At the elite level, in which superior talent is universal (and modesty in interviews is advised), team unity is often credited for a win. Trust, generosity, and cooperation are indispensable processes for building and maintaining team cohesion, and according to Pepping and Timmermans, oxytocin is once again involved. In games with monetary stakes, individuals given oxytocin make trusting decisions more often than those given placebo. People are also more generous under the influence of oxytocin; when asked to make a masked, one-sided decision on how to split a sum of money with a stranger, a group given oxytocin was 80% more generous than those given placebo. Oxytocin enhanced cooperative decision making when participants played games with economic incentives to cooperate. Stronger incentives lead to greater cooperation, but only if social information was present. When social information was absent, players who received oxytocin were actually less cooperative, which suggests that the oxytocin system intricately modulates risk-taking and risk-aversion in social exchanges.

With so much evidence for oxytocin’s role in athletic performance, particularly in the context of team sports, will players be stashing oxytocin inhalers into their equipment bags for a quick hit mid-game? Pepping and Timmermans point out that oxytocin’s effects are not universally prosocial. Compared with placebo, oxytocin administration increased ratings of envy (ie, a negative emotional reaction to another player’s good fortune) and gloating (ie, malicious pleasure at another’s misfortune) in economic games designed to elicit these negative social emotions. Athletic pursuits are awash with relative gain and loss situations, and keeping composure is important for success, so an artificial boost of oxytocin could be ill advised.

As professional cycling joins the rogue’s gallery of sporting doping scandals, talk of another performance-enhancing drug might seem distasteful. But research suggests that there are subtle ways to improve ability through the natural stimulation of oxytocin, which will always be legal. The high-five, the fist-pump, and the group hug remain staple elements of sporting life, and dosing up on a little more might just make the difference between winners and losers.

Source: Lancet






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