Emotional Intelligence

Why You Should Curate Your "Delusions" in a Negative World

Why You Should Curate Your "Delusions" in a Negative World #Brain #Lifehacks

Words reveal a lot about the "deep code" of the societies we interact in. In the US and many other countries, "realism" (rather than negativity) is presented as the opposite of "optimism." This is reflective of our pervasive cultural psychological bias. In a game of poker, this would be a "tell".

In reality, negativity is, at least, just as delusional as optimism. And given how the deepest scaffolding of the human brain is biased towards the negative to spot threats to our survival, it's more likely than not that our negativity (“realism”) is less realistic.

Although positivity is encouraged in US culture, there is also a subliminal, opposite undercurrent - That your optimism is a more of a delusion than your negativity. And yet, you should still be optimistic. This one of the most ingrained examples of cultural cognitive dissonance.

In truth, neuroresearch shows that we are all living in some sort of delusion. And if we're humble enough to admit it, we get new freedom. We get to choose an interpretation of reality that most helps us thrive. And that delusion, is typically a more "positive" delusion. Although some people are too positive for their own good (producing reckless behavior), most of us are not.

As an added bonus, optimism promotes problem-solving related brain activity. So we can more effectively address the valid concerns that make people feel negatively. Unlike prior contexts, in today's environment, it seems positivity is more useful to our individual and collective flourishing.

Let's get balanced, heal from our cognitive dissonance, and get epic.

Let's get #balanced, #heal from our #cognitive dissonance, and get #epic.

This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.

How to Decide When You Should Talk Fast or Slow

How to Decide When You Should Talk Fast or Slow #Communication

Speaking Fast vs. Slow

Some people are naturally fast talkers and some people are slow talkers.
Most of us have the ability to influence the speed of our speech one way or the other. 

Have you ever wondered if fast talking is "better" than slow talking or vice versa? 
The answer to that question is contextual. So what talking speed is best in what circumstances?

1. When You Want to Look Smart

Fast Talking (at least, if you're in the US)

Quickness of speech has nothing to do with your intelligence. Einstein was not a fast talker. Yet fast speakers are often viewed as intelligent

In fact, actors in the US get instructed to speak faster when they play intelligent characters. Think Aaron Sorkin. Scriptwriters believe that the faster a character speaks, the more clever and competent they come off.

This idea is backed up by research that Norman Miller and his colleagues conducted in 1976. Their data suggested that people who spoke faster seemed more credible to listeners. Fast speech signaled confidence, intelligence, objectivity, and knowledge. After all, it takes a certain amount of mental firepower to quickly construct and present thoughts.

That said, cultural factors may be at play.
Norman Miller's study was conducted only in the United States.

How to Decide When You Should Talk Fast or Slow #Communication

2. When You Want to Get People Excited

Fast Talking

Research by Stephen Smith and David Shaffer in 1995 suggested that fast talking is associated with anger, excitement and fear. If you're trying to elicit any of these emotions at any point in a conversation or presentation, speeding up your speech can help. 

People naturally talk faster when they get excited. So when you signal your excitement with fast speech, the listener's experience will mirror that emotion. 

3. When You Want to Communicate Effectively

Slow Talking

Many of us believe that we need to say a lot of words to communicate the essence of our thoughts. But we often overlook the fact that the human brain can only recall 4-7 chunks of information at a time.

If you speak 300 words, and the listener can only hold 10 of them, what are the other 290 words good for? Probably not much. Even worse is that the listener may internalize only the least important seven words to your message.

Fast speech rates lower a person's ability to comprehend and understand what the other person is saying and why they are saying it.

The more you slow down your speech, the more the listener's comprehension will increase.

When you speak many words at high speed, you are "setting the table" for miscommunication. So when you have something important to say, slow down, be brief, and convey the essence of your message in 10 words or less. This will make sure your message lands. Besides, research shows that fast speech correlates with lower information content. So you probably didn't need all those quickly spoken words anyway. 

When you communicate slowly and mindfully, you'll be surprised by how few words you need.

Check out this related post: "Chunking": The Real Secret to Effective Communication

4. When You Want a Soul-to-soul Connection

Slow Talking

Ever notice that whenever there is a big, romantic moment between people in a movie the tempo of speech between characters slows?

When we are highly focused or deeply connected to another person, our speech rate naturally slows down and we speak less.

You can easily train your voice to convey more trust to others by slowing down your speech rate and dropping your pitch. This was tested at the University of Houston. When doctors spoke slower, the listeners perceived them as "more caring and sympathetic."

By slowing your speech you can dramatically increase intimacy and empathy through your conversations. And, as noted above, you will be communicating more effectively. Effective communication opens doors to deeper relationships more intimate connections with others.

Want to Upgrade Your Communication Abilities?

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5. When You Want to be Persuasive

It depends...

According to Miller's research, when people spoke at 195 words per a minute (a speedy conversational pace) they were more persuasive than at 100 words per minute (a slower conversational pace). This result led researchers to the conclusion that fast talking was predictably better for persuasion.

In this study, Miller and fellow researchers tried to convince participants that caffeine was bad for them. Presenters that spoke faster were more convincing than others.

This study is seems humorous to witness. Imagine a person speaking at a hyper-caffeinated pace explaining the dangers of coffee. Nevertheless, the findings seemed to support the notion that if you spoke faster, you were more persuasive.

Later, researchers began to wonder if this was really true.

Further research showed that:

  • Fast talking is more persuasive when the audience is inclined to disagree with the speaker. 
  • Slow talking is more persuasive when the audience is open-minded.

Here's why:

It boils down to the fact that fast-talkers are less comprehensible. When a fast-talker delivers a message to a disagreeable crowd, there isn't much time for the audience to come up with counter-arguments. And when they fail to come up with counter-arguments, they are more persuaded. 

It works the other way around when the audience is more open and likes the speaker's message. When a message is delivered slowly, there is plenty of time for the listeners to resonate with speaker and agree more deeply.

How to Decide When You Should Talk Fast or Slow #Communication

Staying Mindful in Our Communication

Although there are some contexts where fast talking can be useful, the research shows that slow talking is way better for communicating and connecting with others.

Before entering a discussion, consider asking yourself what your intention is. This will help you enter a mindful state as you proceed. Most likely, you want to feel a connection and communicate clearly with whomever you are talking to. And if that's true, you should slow your speech rate.

If you train with the exercise below, you will change your brain in ways that can dramatically improve your communication skills and social intelligence.

Neuro-Exercise: The 10-10 Communication Game

Try this brain-training game with a partner. 
The object of the game is to have a conversation where each person takes turns speaking only 10 words or less.

Each person holds their fists in front of them. For each word spoken the speaker raises one finger. When the speaker has raised all 10 fingers, the speaker's turn is over. Then, the other person has to respond in 10 words or less.

Do this while deeply listening and paying close attention to facial expressions.

At first you’ll feel a little weird, but the finger counting slows down your mind, and then it actually becomes easier for your brain to select essential words that convey more precisely what you mean. The slower speaking also improves improving neural comprehension in the listener’s brain, and it becomes more difficult to feel anxiety or irritability, two emotional qualities that derail the communication process.

Of course, this is just a training exercise, but when it comes to effective speaking and problem solving, we recommend that you try your best to adhere to the 20-Second "Rule," speaking for no longer than 20 seconds – and much less when you want to convey a key point or concept. Twenty seconds is about how long it takes to speak 3 sentences, but you’ll still have to count out your words on your fingers until you build the intuitive skill of speaking briefly. Without your fingers, you'll probably say too much and muddle the effectiveness of your conversation. With them, you can solve problems in a quarter of the time it normally takes.


The above post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. Josiah Hultgren is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a NeuroCoach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain. His mission is to help create a more vibrant world and apply neuroscience in ways that help people reach their highest potential.


Speed of speech and persuasion. Miller, Norman; Maruyama, Geoffrey; Beaber, Rex J.; Valone, Keith

Celerity and Cajolery: Rapid Speech May Promote or Inhibit Persuasion through its Impact on Message Elaboration Stephen M. SmithDavid R. Shaffer

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When the hands speak. Gentilucci M, Dalla Volta R, Gianelli C. J Physiol Paris. 2008 Jan-May;102(1-3):21-30. Epub 2008 Mar 18.

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You May Be More Negative Than You Think

You May Be More Negative Than You Think

A negative mentality is profoundly harmful to the the circuitry of the brain. Fortunately, the problem is addressable. Anyone who struggles with negativity can take measures that are proven by science to help regulate negativity and become more positive. Unfortunately, most people who are chronically negative don't even know that they are. Without this self-awareness, it is impossible to do anything to address the core problem.

A person who is chronically negative, by definition, is one that is habitually negative. When someone forms a habit, it moves from the part of their brain that is self-aware (the frontal lobes) to deeper parts of their brain that are unconscious and automatic. The more anyone does anything, the less aware they are of it. Thus, negative people are usually not aware of how negative they are.

We have to be very deliberate to become aware of our own negativity. The good news is that as we become aware of it, our brains become less negative.

You May Be More Negative Than You Think


Can you can go an hour without a negative thought or feeling? Give it a shot. This includes worries, doubts, fears, disappointments. When you have a negative thought, write it down. It will help you become more aware. Don't be surprised if you have as many as 25 negative thoughts or feelings an hour. The more you do this exercise, the more you'll see your negativity drop. For even faster progress, enlist your brain's reward circuitry by promising yourself an indulgence if your negativity substantially drops. This exercise will significantly improve your brain's performance and enrich your experience of life.

The above post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. Josiah Hultgren is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a NeuroCoach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain. His mission is to help create a more vibrant world and apply neuroscience in ways that help people reach their highest potential.