First, Sam Harris presents evidence in his book “Waking Up” that the default mode network, a part of the brain which is responsible for autopilot behavior, is highly associated with depression, anxiety, and lack of satisfaction.

Second, maximizers are people who insist on having the best option there is when choosing things for themselves, and satisficers are people who insist on a “good-enough” option. Barry Schwartz cites literature in his book “The Paradox of Choice” that the former are depressed, anxious, and less satisfied.

Both books are advocates for a certain approach to life, particularly in the 21st century Western World. Harris lists off a litany of positives around mindfulness/meditation, and Schwartz advocates for the deliberate restriction of choice. Thus, the association between bad outcomes — depression, anxiety, lack of satisfaction — is taken by the authors to imply a causal relationship, with the direction of causality flowing from their variable of interest to the undesirable, and not the other way around. …


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Conflict is misunderstood. Acts like a villain but thinks like a hero. After all, it is the at the heart of life’s most foul insistences: soldiers plunging bayonets and bullets into the same chests leant on by husbands and wives; bricks hurled through the windows of a quaint home; new accusations elbowing past old love. But despite its cruel face, conflict’s eventual aim is to sow divine, and not diabolical, seeds, and we needn’t shrink and cringe at its apparitions. …

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