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These 14 Psychological Facts Just Might Have You Thinking Differently

Feeling stressed? Wish you knew some secrets for feeling happier, lighter, and freer?

While the complexities of the human condition are, of course, a little too deep to be reduced to a list, there are actually a few tips you can use every day to help shake off some of the drudgery that might be dragging you down. There are also some weird little facts that might not help you personally, but might help you be a little more understanding towards other people. In the end, these new bits of knowledge will actually help you a lot in the long run.

1. If you tell people your goals, you’re less likely to achieve them.

If you tell people your goals, you're less likely to achieve them.

Flickr / Thomas Leth-Olsen

People have been studying this phenomenon since the 1930s, and it’s been proven time and again. So the next time you get the urge to pester someone with questions about what their goals are, remember that you might not be helping.

2. Smart people tend to underestimate themselves, while the more ignorant tend to think they’re brilliant.

Smart people tend to underestimate themselves, while the more ignorant tend to think they're brilliant.

Flickr / Alberto G.

The more informed you are, the more possibilities you’re aware of, including the one where you might be wrong. Everyone’s confidence in their intelligence ebbs and flows depending on the situation, but don’t get too cocky.

3. Your thinking and decision making will be more rational if you think or speak it in another language.

Your thinking and decision making will be more rational if you think or speak it in another language.

Flickr / Miguel Efondo

A study at the University of Chicago found that Korean exchange students made more rational, less biased decisions if they first translated all their information into English. This might be because translating forces you to be deliberate and consider each word, and thus come to a more level-headed solution. So the next time you’re worried you’re not being rational, dust off that language you studied in high school and see if it helps.

4. When you remember something, you’re actually remembering the last time you remembered it, rather than the event itself.

When you remember something, you're actually remembering the last time you remembered it, rather than the event itself.

Flickr / Kamilla Oliveria

This one is a little mind-boggling, but this is why people’s memories get distorted over time — it’s like playing a years-long game of telephone with yourself.

5. Kids today are more stressed out than the average psych ward patient of 1950.

Kids today are more stressed out than the average psych ward patient of 1950.

Flickr / Balamurugan Natarajan

The 1950s had plenty of problems, but at least no one was auditioning for preschool. There’s also the fact that we now have a better knowledge of mental health and illness, so it’s easier to diagnose issues that might have flown under the radar earlier. However, with everything that’s happened in the past 65 years, people have very different things to stress out over.

6. 18-to-33-year-olds are the most stressed out people.

18-to-33-year-olds are the most stressed out people.

Flickr / Nazareth College

Having to deal with education, figuring out a career path, and entering the work world full time makes for a terrible combination that results in a lot of stress. Combine that with the fact that none of us are going to get Social Security, like, ever, and you have the perfect storm.

7. Music can change your outlook.

Music can change your outlook.

Flickr / Ville Hyvonen

The soundtrack of your life can drastically alter your perception of events, even if you’re not aware of it. Why do you think such attention is paid to movie soundtracks? If you don’t believe this, put on your favorite movie with the sound off, and play the same scene with different songs in the background. You’ll see how quickly your perception of the visuals changes.

8. Your favorite song(s) are probably linked to an emotional event.

Your favorite song(s) are probably linked to an emotional event.

Flickr / William Brawley

Just like music can change your perception of the present, a specific song can bring you back to a very different time. Just hearing it will give you a little emotional reminder of the first time you heard it. Of course, the more you hear it in different settings, the more that association might fade.

9. Money can actually buy happiness.

Money can actually buy happiness.

Flickr / Dustin Moore

Yeah, it’s true. People who struggle financially will, naturally, be more stressed out. Have you ever heard a poor person say that money can’t buy happiness? Didn’t think so.This has a cap, though. Once people reach the income of about $75-$80,000, their happiness levels don’t change, even if they make more money. Basically, if they can feed themselves and have a home without worrying about running out of money, people will be happy.

10. Spending money on other people makes you happy.

Spending money on other people makes you happy.

Flickr / JD Hancock

Therapy shopping for yourself is often a hollow happiness, like drinking alone, but when you buy gifts for other people, it can actually make you happier. We’re not saying you should blow your money irresponsibly, but buying (or making) gifts for other people is like a gift to yourself, too.

11. Spending money on experiences rather than objects makes you happier.

Spending money on experiences rather than objects makes you happier.

Flickr / AJU_photography

Getting to do or see something exciting makes for a better memory than just getting a thing and looking at it from time to time. After all, you’ll have more to talk about, and the action of going and doing something is more fulfilling than simply obtaining an object.

12. Meditation and prayer can cut stress.

Meditation and prayer can cut stress.

Flickr / Toshimasa Ishibashi

You don’t have to be religious to meditate, and studies show it’s good for you to sit quietly on a regular basis. You might not think you have time, but the next time you feel like vegging out in front of the TV, try slow, even breathing and clearing your mind for a while.

13. You can convince your brain that you slept well, even if you didn’t.

You can convince your brain that you slept well, even if you didn't.

Flickr / Rob and Stephanie Levy

Take a few deep breaths and think about how well you slept last night. If you can convince yourself of that, you’ll feel a little boost of energy. It’s called “placebo sleep,” but don’t use this as a regular excuse to not get actual sleep. You still need that.

14. Surrounding yourself with happy people makes you happy.

Surrounding yourself with happy people makes you happy.

Flickr / Greg Walters

You know that one friend you have who complains all the time and takes no joy in everything? You know how you feel after hanging out with them? Exactly. Spending time with people who are positive and content will rub off on you and lift your mood. Likewise, don’t be that negative friend — be someone else’s positive buddy!

(via Higher Perspective)

Take a deep breath and try to remember some of these the next time you’re having trouble understanding why you’re feeling a certain way, or why someone else is acting the way they are. It’ll do some good in the end, and make your life a lot easier.

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