Our brains are wired to prefer melodies we already know. David Huron, a musicologist at Ohio State University, estimates that at least 90 percent of the time we spend listening to music, we seek out songs we’ve heard before.
That’s because familiar songs are easier to process, and the less effort needed to think through something—whether a song, a painting, or an idea—the more we tend to like it.
In psychology, this idea is known as fluency: when a piece of information is consumed fluently, it neatly slides into our patterns of expectation, filling us with satisfaction and confidence.
“Things that are familiar are comforting, particularly when you are feeling anxious,” Norbert Schwarz, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, who studies fluency, told me.
“When you’re in a bad mood, you want to see your old friends. You want to eat comfort food. I think this maps onto a lot of media consumption. When you’re stressed out, you don’t want to put on a new movie or a challenging piece of music. You want the old and familiar.”
Perhaps one reason machines haven’t yet invaded the recording room is that listeners prefer rhythms that are subtly flawed.
A 2011 Harvard study found that music performed by robotic drummers and other machines often strikes our ears as being too precise.
“There is something perfectly imperfect about how humans play rhythms,” says Holger Hennig, the Harvard physics researcher who led the study. Hennig discovered that when experienced musicians play together, they not only make mistakes, they also build off these small variations to keep a live song from sounding pat.
Love should not control, condemn, judge, or even intervene but simply accept, receive, give, and attend.
Nonetheless, someone who loves you may enact her love in a manner which you legitimately find offensive. It is a mistake to believe, however, that actions can prove the absence or presence of love. While cruelty and rage are not expressions of love, they do not prove its non-existence.
By the time she was 12 she had rejected religion, but it had already left another indelible mark, the "real cliche, the sense of guilt. You grow up believing that you're wrong and bad. And for me, because I took what I was told really seriously, it bred a very intense habit of introspection and self-examination and a terrible severity with myself. So that nothing was ever good enough. It's like installing a policeman, and one moreover who keeps changing the law."
Danny Maseng: The niggun is a song without words because, ultimately speaking, to reach God no words will suffice. And it's done through the universal language which, in Hasidic Judaism, is music. There are ten levels of prayer and above them is music. But there ain't no happy in it that is not connected with a little, bitter after-taste. Life is beautiful. Isn't it sweet, isn't it awesome; I'm going to die tomorrow.
It's this wonderful tension between aspiration and reality. In my dreams you don't even know how high I can go. The reality is that I'm going to be heartbroken thoroughly and completely right here on this earth. And a beautiful niggun manages to trace that distance.
Lawrence Kushner: One of the main principles that governs Hasidism was not only can you serve God with joy but if you're bummed out you can't serve God. So Hasidism is resolute, monomaniacal, about saying that you have to find a way to access the joy that you have. Joy brings you close to God.
In 2003 Steve Jobs had a pancreatic cancer scare that turned out to be a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, an extremely rare and slow-growing condition that accounts for only 1 percent of pancreatic cancer cases. It was the best-case scenario. His wife told Isaacson she remembered his doctors “tearing up with joy” when they learned the good news.
But then Steve Jobs refused to have surgery, once again putting all his faith and bullying, reality-blind certitude into his insufferable brand of sanctimonious veganism. This wasn’t a matter of passing up radiation and chemo; this was a matter of passing up every cancer patient’s dream of not even having to go through radiation and chemo.
Why We Procrastinate When we look at a big project we focus the hardest parts. This makes us see disaster ahead and we feel repelled by it.
Just Start Anyway The best way to get over this bad feeling is to simply start anyway. Once started, we have a natural desire to continue a task so once you get going you will automatically keep going at least for a while.
Willpower But how do you see it all the way through? Willpower won't do it. It's a limited resource that can be used up. So what do successful people do?
Schedule Breaks When Anders Ericsson studied top violinists he found that when they practice they actually focus on the hard parts. So how do they maintain their commitment to hard work? They schedule breaks in the practice session.
If the brain knows that a break is coming it won't it won't be so afraid of hard work that it can't sustain. These fiddlers work 90 minutes and then break for 15. Apparently, this matches the natural requirements of your body.
Tim Ferris, however, favours the Pomodoro Technique which recommends 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of rest. Then, after 4 work sessions you take 15-30 minutes of rest.
Deadlines Deadlines also help you get work done. When drug addicts had to submit an essay on time those who wrote down when and where they would complete the essay were 90% more likely to do so. Students who set dates on their assignments also do better than those who don't.
Track Your Work Apparently, people who make ongoing notes about their progress toward a goal do better than those who don't. Tracking progress improves performance because you become very aware when you are doing very little or wasting time. You can track your work on an Accountability Chart.
Create two-columns. Column 1: lists the time-span of your work sessions. Column 2: lists the tasks you completed during the session.
Don’t create any columns for your breaks.
Planning At Night Selecting up to five priority tasks for the next day is better done at night than planning in the morning because when you are in a rush to get to work you'll easily cast it aside.
Segmenting Since we shy away from big projects, it makes sense to split them into smaller segments. Instead of listing “Work on research project” as a daily goal, you only target parts of the research process like "finishing the introduction".
As the book opens Ms. Abramson is enveloped by a deep depression after two life-altering events: the death of her beloved Buddy and a near-fatal accident in which Ms. Abramson was run over by a truck while walking near Times Square, requiring months of rehabilitation.
Into this “severe case of midlife blues” arrived Scout. For Ms. Abramson, a puppy was the perfect remedy. “I felt a reflexive urge to cover the top of Scout’s soft head with kisses,” she writes.
Ms. Abramson makes up “lullabies with silly lyrics” to coax Scout to sleep. She marvels at Scout’s “sultry, flirtatious look” and compares her to “a canine version of Veronica Lake, down to her blond, silky fur.”
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy aims to ease disturbing feelings by exposing the sloppy thinking that provokes them and, usually, this means unmasking exaggerations.
I found a good example of this same process in a political discussion.
Peter Hitchens complains that critics of Vladimir Putin are all too ready to compare him to Stalin and argues that in spite of Putin's faults it's ridiculous to make hysterical accusations. Here is what he says:
Mr Putin, as often discussed here, is no paragon. He is indeed a man of many very bad faults, and his state is corrupt and violent. But to mention him in the same breath as Stalin is simply to betray a complete lack of the sense of proportion.
For me, it’s simple. Mr Putin has not yet opened a vast archipelago of homicidal labour camps, nor crammed millions of his citizens into them, nor launched a great terror on his people under which anyone may be seized without pretext, and tortured into confessing non-existent crimes before being shot in the back of the head or despatched to a living death in Norilsk.
Mr Putin has not deliberately caused a gigantic famine in which millions have died.
Mr Putin has not murdered many of his close associates. He has not signed an unscrupulous alliance with Hitler, partitioned Poland, or established an iron secret police despotism over the whole of Central Europe.
Nor has he persecuted legitimate scientists, nor has he embarked on anti-semitic purges of doctors. Nor has he encourage a pharaonic personality cult, requiring the erection of thousands of images of him.
Nor has he encouraged a cult around a boy (Pavlik Morozov) who betrayed his own parents to the secret police, nor has he compelled his own immediate colleagues to endure in silence the cruel imprisonment of their close family members..
Most CEOs of Mayer’s stature — people running multibillion-dollar public companies the size of Yahoo — are gregarious, outgoing types — the kind of person who might have been a politician if the world of business and money hadn’t beckoned. Baby-kissers. Back-slappers. Schmoozers.
Mayer is not that type. Peers from every stage of her life — from her early childhood days to her first year at Yahoo — say Mayer is a shy, socially awkward person.
How in the world has she overcome such a disadvantage to rise so far, so fast?