Week 47 Roundup: Why We Read, Why We Laugh, Flow

Danbo with a kiwi on his head

Hope all my fellow yanks had a good thanksgiving. If you pay attention to the media messages, you might think that Thanksgiving is just a pre-shopping fueling session for the Black Friday consumer orgy, but the real message is one that can truly benefit people:
give thanks for what you have. (Even if you have a kiwi on your head.)
Grateful people tend to be happier, healthier, and maybe just a little sexier. Don’t believe me? Here are a couple links  (wiki, NY Times) that summarize research on this topic.
I haven’t spent much time on the intertubes this week, but here are a few choice links I think you’ll enjoy.
  • Who Enters Flow is a post from Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman. In this article, Dr. Kaufman addresses the question of who enters flow (much of the article draws on results from a new paper from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). Interestingly, high intelligence is not associated with a greater likelihood of entering flow. My armchair theory: intelligent people have a lot of mental chatter that makes them self-conscious.
  • As an English major, I noticed a definite bias among professors and snootier students against ‘genre’ fiction. Yet, as David Farland argues in this article, genres like sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, western, etc., satisfy a basic human desire: to get us high on endorphins and serotonin as a result of being drawn in to a good story. Next time somebody tries to give you hell for enjoying such works, just tell them you’re doing it for the endorphins.  (This doesn’t change the fact that I found Twilight unreadable).
  • Have you ever wondered why our brains make us laugh? Turns out laughter is a reward mechanism for noticing unexpected patterns or realizing our assumptions were incorrect. Here’s a write-up on some recent research on this topic.

Have a great week!

Photo credit: anieto2k