NAME YOUR EMOTIONS: It’s also true that we can’t change what we don’t notice. Denying or avoiding feelings doesn’t make them go away, nor does it lessen their impact on us, even if it’s unconscious. Noticing and naming emotions gives us the chance to take a step back and make choices about what to do with them.
Emotions are just a form of energy, forever seeking expression. Paradoxically, sharing what we’re feeling in simple terms helps us to better contain and manage even the most difficult emotions. By naming them out loud, we are effectively taking responsibility for them, making it less likely that they will spill out at the expense of others over the course of a day.
FAKE LAUGHING: A fake laugh is an imitation of a real laugh, but produced with a slightly different set of vocal muscles controlled by a different part of our brain. The result is that there are subtle features of the laughs that sound like speech
If you slow down a “real” laugh 2.5 times, the result is strangely animal-like. It sounds like an ape of some kind, and while it’s hard to identify, it definitely sounds like an animal. But when you slow down human speech, or a “fake” laugh, it doesn’t sound like a nonhuman animal at all—it sounds like human speech slowed down.
When we asked people whether a slowed laugh recording was a human or nonhuman animal, they couldn’t tell with the real/spontaneous laughs, but they could tell that the recordings of fake/volitional laughs were of people.
3 SIGNS OF PSEUDOMATURITY: These young teenagers sought out friends who were physically attractive; their romances were more numerous, emotionally intense and sexually exploring than those of their peers; and they dabbled in minor delinquency — skipping school, sneaking into movies, vandalism. The fast-track kids didn’t turn out O.K.
At 13, they were viewed by classmates with envy, admiration and not a little awe. The girls wore makeup, had boyfriends and went to parties held by older students. The boys boasted about sneaking beers on a Saturday night and swiping condoms from the local convenience store. They were cool. They were good-looking. They were so not you. Whatever happened to them?
Now in their early 20s, many of them have had difficulties with intimate relationships, alcohol and marijuana, and even criminal activity.
They are doing more extreme things to try to act cool, bragging about drinking three six-packs on a Saturday night, and their peers are thinking, ‘These kids are not socially competent.’
Cool Kid (Gianluca Fabrizio/Getty Images)
ANXIETY: Adolescents, on average, experience more anxiety and fear and have a harder time learning how not to be afraid than either children or adults. It turns out that the brain circuit for processing fear — the amygdala — is precocious and develops way ahead of the prefrontal cortex, the seat of reasoning and executive control. This means that adolescents have a brain that is wired with an enhanced capacity for fear and anxiety, but is relatively underdeveloped when it comes to calm reasoning.