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The Psychology Of Social Media: How Our Online Lives Are Harming Real-Life Happiness

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In the age of the internet and smartphones, there is no denying that technology continuously shapes our everyday lives. Ours is an ever-connected society, and social media in particular has transformed human interactions well beyond the confines of our immediate circles. We can now communicate with friends, family, and likeminded communities regardless of physical location, and sharing even the most intimate aspects of our private lives has become the norm.

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Whilst global connectivity is no doubt extremely positive, a closer look at social media highlights a more destructive reality for the individual. In a world where everything is seemingly on show, it is crucial to question just how real social media is and to consider its impact on our mental well-being.

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Social Media: What’s The Appeal?

To truly understand the relationship between social media and self-image, we need to recognize what draws us to online networks in the first place. Keeping in touch with far-flung friends and relatives may be an obvious advantage to sites like Facebook, but our fascination with social media runs deeper than that: it taps into our desire to be heard. Indeed, the internet has given us all a voice, with affordable packages such as this one making it easier than ever before to create a website or blog using common WordPress themes. Practically anyone can become a published writer or photographer within the online sphere, and the abundance of user-generated media stands testament to our inherent need to share. Social media presents not only another platform through which to express ourselves, but by apparently focusing on the banalities of everyday life, it enables us to construct an identity over which we have total control.

Through status updates, location check-ins, and photo uploads, we appear to give our online friends all-access insight into our lives, but in reality, the majority of us are presenting an edited version. Whilst this is necessary for maintaining some degree of privacy, the danger arises when we become more fixated on portraying the perfect existence than actually living it. Posting only the most flattering selfies or fun-filled weekend snaps may seem completely harmless – and is indeed a natural reflex for many online socialites – but our obsession with airbrushing every aspect of our digital lives can actually have some rather alarming psychological implications.

The Actual Self Vs. The Online Self

The notion of keeping up appearances is not unique to social media; from job interviews to meeting new people for the first time, it’s only natural that we put our best selves forward. According to Edward Tory Higgins’ self-discrepancy theory (1987), we all identify with three different types of self: the actual self – the person we perceive ourselves to actually be; the ought self based on who we believe we should be; and the ideal self shaped by hopes, wishes, and aspirations – the person we want to be. Higgins believed that the larger the perceived discrepancy between, say, the actual and the ideal self, the more prone the individual is to negative emotions, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and even self-contempt.

Of course, it is not only our own profiles that affect our mental wellbeing. Several studies have identified a correlation between Facebook usage in general and dissatisfaction with one’s own life, with envy cited as the most common emotion induced by the site. Bombarded with constant reminders of other people’s “perfect” lives, it can indeed be incredibly difficult to see through the illusion that everyone else is flying higher, having more fun, and going to better places. Our failure to fully realize our own goals is once again highlighted, and we feel inadequate – and miserable – by comparison.

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External Validation or True Self-Worth?

According to Statista, 73% of the US population had a social media profile in 2015, a figure that grows significantly year on year. The question remains, then: if social media makes us feel so bad, why do we continue to subscribe and take part? Fear of missing out no doubt plays a major role, as online networks have become so integral to the way we interact with our peers. Another key factor is our inherent need to be regarded positively by others, as explained by psychologist Carl Rogers’ theory of personality. There is no denying that posting a picture online and receiving likes and comments is one of the most instant – and measurable – forms of external validation, and gives us quite the buzz. In that respect, social media has made it all too easy to choose the path of instant, short-term gratification, with the ideal or online self often taking precedence over the actual self. Whilst social media provides a quick-fix, the ever widening gap between the actual and ideal selves can leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled in the long term.

Loving Yourself In The Age of Social Media

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.
Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person (1961)

A significant part of Rogers’ theory is the concept of self-actualization through reaching one’s full potential, ultimately aligning the actual self with the ideal self. Although this is an ongoing journey rather than a fixed destination, the more congruent we perceive the two selves to be, the greater our sense of fulfilment. However, in a world where social media paints a glossy picture of perfect lives, there is a growing tendency to abandon the pursuit of self-actualization and to live vicariously instead through the online self.

Someone who knows only too well just how toxic this can be is teenage model Essena O’Neill. Having previously made a living through her social media posts, she dramatically quit Instagram last year, exposing a deeply flawed reality behind the perfect scenes. No longer able to cope with the discrepancy between her real life and the life she was portraying online, she has shunned social media in order to focus on “real-life projects.” In an emotional video that clearly captures just how miserable it made her feel to be “defined by numbers,” O’Neill strongly urges others to follow suit.

Achieving and maintaining a positive self-image in the social media age is not necessarily about quitting Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Rather, it is about readjusting your perception of the online world and finding a balance between digital and real life. Firstly, learning to see through the smoke and mirrors of other social media profiles will break the habit of comparing yourself unfavorably, so that time spent online is more about connecting with friends than highlighting your own shortcomings.

Secondly, it’s crucial to focus wholly on aligning your actual self with your ideal self, rather than simply projecting these aspirations onto your online profile. Be 100% present in every moment – do things that actually fulfil and satisfy you, regardless of whether it makes an impressive social media post. Nurturing face-to-face connections and placing more value on your real-life state puts a much-needed perspective on social media, ultimately boosting the way we perceive ourselves and paving the way to genuine, long-term happiness.

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Researchers Outline Reality of Psychic Ability & Explore Whether It May ‘Run In The Family’

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    It is commonly believed that psychic ability, like many mental and physical traits, runs in families. This suggests the presence of a genetic component. Researchers recently decided to search for one among people with psychic abilities.

  • Reflect On:

    Can special abilities, or psychic abilities be passed down? Are these abilities innate and lying dormant within all of us?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

‘Psychic ability’ comes in many different forms, from telepathy to clairvoyance or remote viewing, there are a number of phenomena that have been demonstrated under strict scientific controls that have yielded statistically significant and repeatable results. There are also multiple declassified documents that have been archived by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) via their electronic reading room, for example, pertaining to individuals with “special abilities” who are able to perform feats like telekinesis, or healing at a distance. You can access a few examples of that here, and here where I go more into depth.

The literature in this area, from peer-reviewed research all the way to examples from the within the defense departments of  multiple countries, is quite robust. It’s another subject seen as fringe and in-credible yet has more than enough evidence to for a reasonable person to deem these abilities as possible.

The researchers of a recent study published in EXPLORE titled “Genetics of psychic ability – A pilot case-control exome sequencing study” decided to search for some sort of genetic link among people with psychic abilities. They explain:

Many cognitive and perceptual abilities are associated with genetic factors. An open question is whether or not extraordinary “psychic” abilities such as mind-to-mind communication (in the vernacular, telepathy), knowledge of future events before they occur (precognition), and perception of hidden or remote events (clairvoyance), might also be associated with genetic factors. Evidence of the reality of such extraordinary abilities has been offered by multiple meta-analysis of experiments conducted over the past century, which demonstrate independent repeatability and robust statistical significance.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that extraordinary manifestations of these abilities run in families.. Few formal studies have evaluated the genetics of psychic abilities. Telepathy studies with identical and non-identical twins have found mixed evidence for greater concordance among identical versus nonidentical twins on telepathy task performanceOther case studies of families with data on up to four generations have been conducted. The pattern of familial transmission in second sighthas also been examined. This capacity is defined as “a special psychic ability believed to be a natural faculty of mind, regarded as an inborn gift by some andan affliction by others…Second sight implies that there are two forms of sight. One is normal sight and the other is the ability to have prophetic visions which occur spontaneously and arrarely directed at will.” Second sight is considered hereditary within the Scottish tradition. A formal pedigree analysis of second sight found an autosomal dominant pattern f inheritance. Other studies have evaluated the relationships between psychic abilities and the temporal lobe. However, to our knowledge, no similar investigations have been conducted using modern genetics techniques.

Interesting stuff, isn’t it? For the study, more than 3,000 candidates from around the world were selected and screened through two online surveys. This was done to locate people who claimed that they, as well as other family members, had some form of psychic ability. Eligible candidates were then selected as the final “psychic cases,” and then age, sex, and ethnicity-matched individuals, with no claims of psychic ability, were selected as the controls.

DNA from the saliva of the 23 participants were subjected to “whole-exome sequencing.” This is a test that looks at most of the genes within an individual. After this, two independent bioinformatics analyses were blindly applied to the sequenced data. This means the ones doing the analyses had no idea about the results the other lab was getting. They were completely separate.The analyses focused on protein-coding sequences and another one included some adjacent noncoding sequences.

According to the researchers:

Sequencing data were obtained for all samples, except for one in the control group that did not pass the quality controls and was not included in further analyses. After unblinding the datasets, none of the protein-coding sequences (i.e., exons) showed any variation that discriminated between cases and controls. However, a difference was observed in the intron (i.e., non-protein-coding region) adjacent to an exon in the TNRC18 gene (Trinucleotide Repeat-Containing Gene 18 Protein) on chromosome 7. This variation, an alteration of GG to GA, was found in 7 of 9 controls and was absent from all psychic cases.

You can access the full study here.

This means the study did not find any significant markers suggesting that these abilities may be genetic, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t. We already know through epigenetic studies that various traits are passed down to offspring, be it physical or even emotional. It is interesting that the study did however identify a noncoding variant that was largely restricted to non-psychic controls.

The most conservative interpretation of these results is that they result from random population sampling. However, when the results are considered in relation to other lines of evidence, the results are more provocative. Further research is justified to replicate and extend these findings.

Keep in mind, the researchers did test those who claimed to have psychic ability and overall they scored better on the tests than those who did not. There were many limitations to this study, and a big one was the size of the number of people used for the study.

Given the fact that, in the researchers experience and based on my research and examples that I’ve written about, these abilities are undoubtedly real, so looking for some sort of genetic component is quite reasonable and would have tremendous implications.

The researchers explain:

The identification of genes involved in psychic abilities has the potential to yield clues about their distribution within the general population and also their evolutionary origins. Such a finding may also have clinical value because it may help inform the development of pharmacological or environmental interventions to enhance or suppress such abilities, and clinical performance applications could be used. Enhancing these abilities could augment decision-making in many contexts, stimulate creativity in art and science, and improve diagnosis of disease, insofar as these faculties and activities may be partly dependent on, or enhanced by, psychic ability.

For example, perhaps telepathic communications could be developed for individuals living with communication disabilities, such as aphasia or cerebral palsy. On the other hand, suppressing these abilities might alleviate psychotic symptoms in some individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, insofar as “disordered” psychic manifestations may be at risk factor in these individuals.

The Takeaway: Studies within the realm of parapsychology, which encompasses the study of various psychic abilities mentioned in this article, are abundant. Many show eye-opening repeatable results. Remote viewing is one of many great examples, showing “successful replication” by yielding “significant scientific evidence.” (source)

The methodology and the controls on these experiments are tighter than any other area of science where I’ve worked. Dr. Dr. Jessica Utts, former Chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Irvine (source)

Again, there are also documented real world examples that defy belief linked earlier within this article, which brings me to my next point. Much of the science produced today, in my opinion, isn’t really following the scientific method. By that I mean discoveries that challenge what we once thought we knew, and ones that have paradigm shifting implications for humanity, are often ignored and unacknowledged. We see this all the time in the field of parapsychology.

“There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing.”
 Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (source)

Why do we fail to properly confront new concepts and ideas that don’t fit within the frame? Studies and results from these realms truly call into question what we think we know about the nature of reality and human potential. They will force humanity to open up to a broader view of reality that currently may not fit within the accepted framework of knowledge in the minds of many. But if there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s change.

Discoveries in this field, I believe, will lead to the realization that love, compassion, thoughts, emotions and service to others are key for humanity to move forward. It’s more than likely that this is the true nature of human beings, not competition and separation.

These must be our priority, we have to change the way we think here on planet Earth. If we continue to operate from a place of greed, ego, and have a lust for power, control and material wealth, which are cultural learnings, not necessarily our nature, we will not move forward to a thriving world. Non-material science has the potential to change the way we perceive the world, and ask the deeper questions like, why do we live the way we do when we can create a human experience where everybody can thrive? How can a race that is so intelligent and technologically advanced be so politically and morally corrupt?

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Consciousness

New Moon In Aries: Taking Bold Action

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a New Moon in Aries during the later hours of April 11th in the Americas and on the 12th everywhere else in the world. This is initiating a 29.5 day lunar cycle and new wave of energy for the coming month; however, the astrological configurations mentioned throughout this article will be more prominent over the following two weeks. This cycle will include a Full Moon in Scorpio on April 26th/27th.

Aries season began at the Equinox (on March 20th globally this year) as it always does, as per the framework of the Tropical Zodiac. Being the first of twelve signs, and initiator of a transitional season, it begins the Astrological New Year. However with this New Moon actually occurring in Aries as well, it will crank up the energies of this sign even more so in comparison to the previous weeks that were part of a lunar cycle initiated by a New Moon in Pisces.

Aries is the domain of self, independence, and individual needs. As a Cardinal Fire sign ruled by Mars, it is assertive, courageous, direct, pioneering, and leading. It is initiating, quick, bold, energetic, and warrior-like. Negatively, this energy can be inconsiderate, selfish,  hot tempered, combative, restless, impatient, aggressive, and overly competitive. Aries lacks thoroughness due to its quick forward energy.

New Moon Conjunct Mercury & Venus In Aries

This New Moon is close to both Mercury and Venus. This can reflect a period in which our social interactions and engagement with others can be more lively. Both Mercury and Aries have a busy moving type of energy and we may feel more active, physically and/or mentally, as a result.

The conjunction of both of these planets with this New Moon also means it is tied into cycles that each of those planets have with the Sun. Venus recently joined the Sun in the last week of March and it is now travelling ahead of it in zodiacal position.

In recent weeks this has been a time in which we experienced shifts, developments, endings, beginnings, or more clarity around Venus areas of friends, love, social dynamics, values, worth, or financial matters in some cases. This New Moon and the weeks following can continue this process, especially when it comes to beginnings or newer ways of expressing ourselves in these areas.

Mercury is now approaching the Sun as they will make their conjunction on April 18th/19th. At that time we may experience developments, which may be significant, connected to what has transpired during its previous retrograde in February and how things have unfolded since then. From there, these things may develop further with a better perception, or circumstances may indicate lack of sufficiency, not what was anticipated, or that something needs to change.

Planets In Aries Square Pluto & Sextile Mars Trine Jupiter

This New Moon, along with Venus and Mercury, are in a square with Pluto and sextile with Mars and Jupiter. Pluto combined with Aries and Mars energy can reflect a period of intensity. However, it can also play out as issues around power, control, manipulation, jealousy, insubordination, or subversion.  It can also be revealing, psychological, compulsive, transforming, and purging.

The sextile with Mars in Gemini adds to the lively, assertive, instinctual, and energetic expressions of Aries. The Aries’ planets sextile to Jupiter, which is also trine Mars, can be good for applying ourselves in a way that is expansive, optimistic, educational, philosophical, explorative, freedom seeking, or centered around beliefs. New doors may open up and it can even be lucky for some people.

Uranus square Saturn (mentioned here in a previous article) is still in the backdrop as it will be throughout the year. Although it’s not in one of its strong periods, themes of ‘freedom/rebellion/revolution being at odds restrictions/limitations/traditions are still playing out. This may get activated in different ways by this new lunar cycle and the Aries energy that has already been present over the previous weeks following the Astrological New Year.

Making Intentions & Things To Consider

How would you like to grow and expand and what do you need to change to get there? In what areas do you need to be more bold or courageous? What have your relationships shown you in recent weeks? What is important for your individuality? What are your personal needs? What do you stand for and should you be fighting for it? Do you need to be a leader in any aspects of your life? Are there any new things that you want to explore?

These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time. However, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. The exact moment it will occur is 2:31am Universal Time on April 12th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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Consciousness

A Symbiosis of Humans & Technology – Changing The Conversation

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Have you ever noticed that discussions about transhumanism tend to focus on technology more than humanism? The journey to reaching our highest potential as a species is usually focused externally on the technology rather than internally on our conscious evolution. This is probably because people assume that conscious evolution is more about spirituality whereas technology is more having to do with the things humans create. The two paths are interdependent so we need more conversations between experts in each of these fields. It will only be through a recognition of the symbiotic nature between humans, their technology, and the environment that we will avert self-destruction.

trans·hu·man·ism (n.) 1. A belief that humans should strive to transcend the physical limitations of the mind and body by technological means. 2. A movement of people who espouse such a belief.

Standing at a Crossroads: The influence that technology has on society and culture is called, technodeterminism. Most of us carry mini supercomputers in our pockets called smartphones. These devices act as external brains which seamlessly integrate into most aspects of our life. Most of us are completely dependent on them for travel, work, communication, entertainment, and beyond. Take a moment to consider the future implications of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine-learning, mass surveillance, automation, genome editing, nanotechnology, and their potential influences on society, culture, and our environment.

When I think about these things, I can’t help but ask:

Why aren’t people like the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, and Dr. Andrew Weil conversing more with people like Ray Kurzweil, Elon Musk, and Steve Mann?

Ancient Futures: It will become increasingly imperative for our most advanced technologies to be informed by the natural ethos of indigenous people blended with the emotional-intelligence of our enlightened spiritual masters. We must remember that the first humans who captured fire to light their cave, stay warm on a cold night, or cook their food were using technology. Anthropologists proudly call us humans “tool-makers” as one of the attributes that make us distinct from most species.

Paradigm Shift: Conscious evolution will require a concerted effort to communicate across silos and disciplines. Cooperation and collaboration towards collective goals will need to take the place of competition for personal gain. What are we hoping to accomplish, and at what cost? We are a risk-taking species and that drives us to exceed all our limitations. Let’s make these be calculated risks because with our technology also comes a great responsibility.

Start Within: Even our most sophisticated technology does not possess the complexities of organic systems. Computers and machines can do many things for us but they will never be able to feel for us. The realm of emotion is central and unique to our human experience yet it is only now starting to be recognized as a valuable form of intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” -Andrew Coleman A Dictionary of Psychology

Research in multiple fields of study shows that curiosity, creativity, taking initiative, multi-disciplinary thinking, and empathy are skills that will redefine traditional beliefs about intelligence. The ability to accommodate new information requires a certain level of mental flexibility, humility, and ultimately character. It is through our ability to feel and process our emotions that our higher intelligence flourishes.

SuperHumans: Any sports fan knows that there are individuals who possess superhuman gifts. Think of popular sports stars like Michael Jordan, or any of the various extreme sports heroes who somehow manage the seemingly impossible. We also have the various musical or art prodigies who express the skills of a master before the age of 10. We have seen humans walk on red-hot coals with bare feet, walk a tightrope between skyscrapers, and exhibit mind-boggling feats of mental-focus, and will-power. Did you know that Wim Hof ran a half marathon barefoot on ice and snow, with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 34 seconds? Humans are capable of amazing things when they channel discipline, practice, creative brilliance, fearlessness and focus. We have barely scratched the surface of what is possible!

Global Meditation: This simple practice of quieting the mind, and bringing presence to one’s breathing has a long list of documented benefits that include enhanced neural connections, deep feelings of connection and well-being, as well as a strengthened immune system. When we compound this focused intention to include tens of thousands of people all over the world, we begin to literally shift planetary magnetic resonance. The science does not lie, we are potent electrical beings with the ability to focus consciousness and create beyond our wildest imaginations.

Everything technology offers is a reflection of the technology that we, as humans are. Learning to laugh at ourselves a little while delving into our emotions and to make room for possibilities beyond our currently held beliefs is essential for this journey. In order for us to create technology that is aligned with all of life and our planet, we must first become aligned with ourselves and each other. Global meditation is where we practice together!

We can no longer claim that a technology is advanced if it is destroying our skies and rivers or perpetuating harmful practices like war and domination. These are examples of misguided technologies. Our DNA has been informed by countless generations of evolution. It is time that we focus our consciousness towards the natural wisdom kept by indigenous people, while embracing the presence of enlightened spiritual masters. This will allow us to infuse our science and highest technological advancements with ecological and emotional intelligence for the benefit of all life.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

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If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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