Compassion and the human operating system…

I’d like to speculate a bit today (OK, a lot) and, in the process, mash-up some ideas from evolutionary psychology, computer science, and modern psychological therapy. Bear with me, and let’s see what happens… Plotting human origins back through time, we start with single-cell organisms. Read More …

The illusion of control and choice (#nofreewill)…

Following on from my last entry – I wanted to explore more on the topic of unconscious versus conscious choice, and our ability to make conscious choices versus our perception of that ability. Let’s see what we can come up with. For the majority of our Read More …

Demystifying the unconscious…

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d try something a bit more challenging than usual, and less ranty! I’ve chosen a deliberately obtuse title today – so let’s start with some demystification of that… Most of us have a pretty limited idea of what Read More …

Therapy ain’t no picnic (and it’s not life coaching either)….

It’s a commonly held misconception that people see psychologists for ego massaging, an opportunity to experience catharsis (the idea that letting things out makes you feel better), or some sort of self-fest where the therapist builds up self-confidence in a Tony Robbins-style ‘ra ra’ session. I Read More …

We don’t need any more anger, we need action (and a lot more compassion)…

So, whilst this isn’t a political blog, you’ve probably figured out that I’m not a Trump fan. After the US election last week, like many, I was stunned, and weirded out, and frightened for the future, and a little bit weepy. I also had a Read More …

Why are we so angry?

Are you angry? Maybe you’ve noticed that more people seem to be angry, intolerant, frustrated, or stressed – on the road, at work, in the supermarket? Angry politicians, angry protesters, angry Facebook feeds? What’s going on? Let’s start with the first question: are people getting Read More …

Me, me, me: The growing danger of narcissism in politics and society…

Modern freedoms are remarkable; it’s unlikely that there’s ever been a time in which individuals in the first world have had so much latitude. We have access to more than ever before: information, employment, education, luxuries, food, and choice. Alongside this growth in freedom is Read More …

Brexit was an inside hack…

I’m going to start this post with a personal admission: I’m so angry at what’s just happened in the UK. The loss of Britain’s membership to the EU, the potential damage to the EU itself, and the denial for future generations of a connection to Read More …

I don’t remember: Why your memory isn’t nearly as good as you think it is…

Chances are, you probably think that your memory is either pretty good, or really bad. You also probably think that (despite your own experience), human memory is like what Hollywood would have you believe: everything you experience is encoded with perfect accuracy, and can be recalled Read More …

Optimistic pessimism…

Apologies for the gap in blogs – it’s been a big few months with an interstate move (including moving my practice) and an overseas trip. But things are settling down, and I hope to write more regularly. Today I’m going to write about something I’ve Read More …

Using social media for good instead of evil…

If you’ve read my blogs, you’ll already be familiar with cognitive bias: the universal human tendency to make the same types of errors in our thinking in certain types of situations. Probably resulting from limits in our cognitive architecture (i.e., the way our brain evolved to Read More …

Urinal chess – Nature or Nurture?

There’s an important phenomenon, well-known to my male readers, that is likely to be a complete mystery to any female ones: urinal etiquette. The rules around urinals are (to men) extremely clear, and the consequences of violating those rules relatively severe. And yet, I for Read More …

Why dogs are happier than you: Understanding primary and secondary emotions…

Dogs experience an internal world that is substantially different from the one you and I inhabit. For dogs, the world is comprised of primary experiences, largely undiluted by the cognitions (including worry) and secondary emotions that we humans constantly bathe ourselves in. Let me elaborate. There’s a great Read More …

Why we dehumanise others to justify evil…

We’re all aware of the huge number of people currently seeking refuge in Europe in order to escape horrible conditions in countries like Syria. We’ve all seen the disturbing pictures of drowned little boys, and heard the various opinions being spruiked, from compassion to political Read More …

Debunking the myth of the “Adrenaline Junkie”…

Today’s post is a recycle of a paper I wrote about six years ago that I never got around to publishing. Rereading it the other day, I thought it was worth putting up here. Apologies that (i) it’s long (really) and; (ii) it’s written as Read More …

FYI: Emotional intelligence is not arse licking…

So, anyone who’s spent any time working for a large organisation will have come across the “latest management fad” – the supposed panacea that will make everything better. From Myers-Briggs* to Hartman’s Colour Codes^ management fads run the full gamut of pseudoscientific nonsense, wasting time Read More …

The Prisoner’s Dilemma and Compassion…

Imagine the following scenario: two prisoners are held in solitary confinement and have no way of communicating with one another. Each is told, individually, that there are three options: (1) if you betray the other prisoner, you will go free and he will be imprisoned Read More …

Why we get angry at the wrong things…

There seems to be a lot of angry people out there. On the roads, on the airwaves, on social media – everyone is pissed off at the world around them. Everybody wants things to go their way – and rants and rails at the injustice Read More …

Emotions as data: A different way of understanding your feelings…

Emotions are a large part of what it is to be human – nearly all of us live in a soup of subjective feelings that often determine how we act. Not only do we let our emotions govern our actions, they also provide our motivation for, Read More …

An alternate take on Mindfulness…

I’ve written a lot about mindfulness, and up until now, it’s pretty much all been about mindfulness as a way of either feeling or functioning better – sort of a ‘mindfulness for a better you’ stance. This is also the direction taken in a lot of Read More …

What the hell is wrong with us?

Welcome to humanity: a species of short-sighted, venal, self-absorbed, stupid, profligate feeders. And that’s the good stuff. This is what evolution primed us for – based on a tiny population, nasty predators, and a cruel environment we evolved to put ourselves and the survival of Read More …

How to fail (as an employer, organisation, government, leader, Prime Minister, etc.)…

A few years ago I wrote a book called ‘Managing People in Organisations’ (Amazon link here) – I like to think that it’s pretty good and, my own trumpet blowing aside, it represents a thorough review of the best practices in keeping people engaged at Read More …

It’s not hard to understand, but most of us don’t even want to try…

The dust has settled, the headlines have been forgotten and, three weeks later, the Melbourne Cup is just another public holiday. But, for a short instance, a large number of people raised an objection to the treatment of horses used by the horseracing industry. For Read More …

I hate to break it you, but you’re not real…

You know how you take things really seriously, how you strive and struggle in your life, how you get really hung up on all your important thoughts and feelings? Well, I hate to break it to you, but none of that is real. Even worse, Read More …

Guest blog: Horses for Courses…

For something different, my wife (veterinary surgeon and animal ethicist and welfare expert) is contributing a post today. Enjoy! If you live in Victoria, have any interest in horse racing or indeed, just happened to drive along the Citylink during the ‘blink and you miss Read More …

Why the “No” vote won (and why this is bad for humanity): Evolution, conservatism and fear…

For a species that’s more adaptable than any other on the planet, we humans are pretty bad at change. Put us in a situation where we have to adapt (and have no other choice), and we’ll do pretty well, at least when it comes to Read More …

Dogs are awesome…

Today’s post is a little different: it’s to celebrate the life a wonderful little Jack Russell by the name of Paddy. Paddy was my wife’s constant companion for 17 years, and mine for the last seven. Paddy was put to sleep on Friday after a Read More …

Making teams work: Increasing cooperation and productivity by removing primate politics…

Any of you who’ve spent time working in a large organisation will be familiar with the seeming need for (what feels like) endless meetings. In fact, working with and in groups is an inescapable fact of pretty much all organised work. Occasionally, this experience can Read More …

Being professional: Ethics and practice…

We all remember the Suarez biting incident a few weeks back. Given my background in sport psychology, I found it particularly interesting and even thought about writing a blog about it. At the same time, I had several requests (from the media) to speculate on Read More …

How not to be miserable: Challenge, mastery, and flow as panacea…

There’s a pervasive theme among my clients. Time and again, they report having pretty OK lives; they have a comfortable home, supportive relationships, a decent job, and plenty of stuff. But they’re unhappy, or preoccupied, or stressed, or overwhelmed by their emotions (usually anxiety and, Read More …