All Posts Tagged “Psychology”

Travel University: Psychology 101

Psychology 101 | Travel Psychology

Psychology can be your owner’s manual. A practical understanding of the big ideas and concepts in psychology allows you to live better. You learn about the reasons people are happy or unhappy, what motivates people, how to overcome trauma, and how to live a more serene and joyful life. This is practical psychology, but it is not what you would find in a college course.

If you go to college, Psychology would probably be an option you never take. The students that do take Psych 101 learn about a pyramid of needs, the history of psychology, diseases and other abstract theories. You learn about schizophrenia, but not about meditation, you learn about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but don’t take any time to explore your emotions.

Travel gives you lessons in practical psychology.

Be More Practical

Have you seen “I Am Not Your Guru?

It’s the new Tony Robbins documentary on Netflix following six days at a Tony Robbins Seminar.

It’s good movie, but there is one point that stuck out. One sentence, hidden in the middle of the documentary, that struck me.

Tony was telling the story of his childhood. His mother was violent and unstable. Tony was talking about it and said, “I had to learn practical psychology.”

Practical psychology.

Tony didn’t have time for fancy ideas, for debates about what the ego means, to take classes, or to write papers. He didn’t have time to learn the history of psychology. He needed some fucking good ideas. He needed them right away.

Conformity vs. Self-Esteem

“Does not group validation and support lead to an experience of true self worth?

The error here is in equating any feeling of safety or comfort with self esteem.

Comformity is not self-efficacy. Popularity is not self-respect.

Whatever its gratification, a sense of belonging is not equal to trust in my mind or confidence in my ability to master the challenges of life. The fact that others esteem me is no gaurentee that I will esteem myself.

If I live a life of unthinking routine, with no challenges or crisis I may be able to evade for a while the fact that what I posses is not self-esteem, but psuedo self-esteem. When everything is alright, everything is alright. But that is not how we determine the presence of self-esteem.

Genuine self-esteem is what we feel about ourselves when everything is not alright. When we are challenged by the unexpected. When the cocoon of the group can no longer insulate us from the tasks and risks of life.

At such moments our deepest premises reveal themselves.” – Nathaniel Branden


Finding your place in a group is not the same as finding yourself.

When you start pursuing self-esteem, there is usually a transition period in your social circle. You transition from your friends of circumstance to friends who you relate to on a values level. Ideally, you find friends that inspire you, and that you admire.

When you find yourself amongst this great group of peers, it can be tempting to let your independence go. You want to let your guard down. You tell yourself that these amazing people, who are more knowledgeable about so many topics must have the right answers. But you start down a slippery slope when you defer to your group over yourself.

No matter how exceptional the group you find yourself in, remember “Conformity is not self-efficacy. Popularity is not self-respect. Whatever its gratification a sense of belonging is not equal to trust in my mind or confidence in my ability to master the challenges of life.”

No matter how exceptional the group, remember that when you lose yourself to a group, you lose yourself.

Enjoy Life More | Lose Yourself

I keep reminding myself that I shouldn’t take life so seriously. I shouldn’t end up feeling so stressed. I tell myself that in the long run, all of this little stuff I’m stressing about won’t matter, so I should feel relaxed. I should feel happy, but it doesn’t work.

I have these moments of clarity when everything seems to make sense. I notice that I feel happy, I notice that I feel alive. I have these positive emotions and in my mind, I continue to make note of how I’m feeling. I tell people, “I feel really happy right now” and I keep saying it in my head. I notice that I feel happy, and then I fell happy that I feel happy.

I get caught in a trap. I enjoy the effects of positively reinforcing emotions, so the habit is continually practiced. Then when I start to feel down, I try to stop this habit of judging my emotions. It doesn’t work, though. I’ve already practiced it too much.

I notice myself feeling stressed and I feel stressed about feeling stressed. I notice myself feeling sad and feel frustrated about feeling sad. Instead of just accepting how I feel at the start, I compound the feeling by trying to avoid it.

Then there is the second layer of the problem. The second reason that judging your emotions leads you to anxiety and depression.

When I am noticing that I am feeling happy, I am judging that emotion in comparison to the way I felt before. Happiness then isn’t a state like a speed reading on a speedometer. Happiness becomes the acceleration of my mood.

To notice myself feeling happy, I need to be judging my current state against a feeling of less happiness. Feeling’s don’t last for long, so you don’t have a long time frame to compare against. I end up comparing to how I felt in the hours or the days before. If I’ve been feeling decent the entire time, it is easy to trick myself into thinking that I’m not happy, even if I had been experiencing the same mental state.

My good moods get normalized. So when I start to feel less happy, I get frustrated, or sad, or just generally worried about it. By judging my emotions, I end up making myself miserable.

The trick to enjoying life more is to stop trying to enjoy life more. Stop judging the way I’m feeling all the time; worrying about if I am happy, or sad, or stressed. Enjoying life is not about noticing that you are happy; it is about getting lost. Getting past that part of your mind that wants to compare everything to everything else, and getting lost in the moment.

When you get lost in an activity or in learning a new skill, you aren’t judging the way you are feeling, you are just living. You get lost in your life, and you are experiencing what it is like to be alive.