After watching Ma Yansong, I couldn’t help but be filled with a sense of joy looking at all the beautiful spaces he had designed – the way they all continued to have very similar elements, such as the curved edges, but also managed to look so distinctively unique was amazing. Although Ma didn’t go into too much detail on how the public were reacting to his spaces in this talk, I do imagine that there would be a large impact on those that live within immediate areas of these buildings will of felt the effects from them.
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
It’s becoming common knowledge that nature has always had an overwhelmingly positive impact on our overall well being, so to find a way to merge architecture and nature is a fantastic way to allow us to lift peoples spirits within urban environments whilst continuing to develop and use the space as we must.
Although my project isn’t necessarily leaning towards creating a building, I’ll certainly be taking in this line of thought and trying to find ways that I can embed nature going forward, even if it’s just a subtle hint – such as an adaption to the shape or colour.
During this talk, Patrick Wincent focuses on the effects of everyday technology and the effects it is having on our relationships. He uses the term ‘digital zombies’ – which I personally find quite fitting. You see them everywhere, a couple out on a date, one or sometimes both have their heads in their phones. No real human interaction. And even when you aren’t seeing it happen, you can see the effects almost everyday. It’s like people are losing the ability to talk to eachother, or when they do, they’re easily distracted and find it hard to stay on one topic. Below is my visual response to the phrase ‘digital zombies’…
He goes on to talk about how he himself was once seduced into the digital world constantly, which resulted in him missing out on precious real time moments – such as his son scoring the winning goal in his rival match. This got me thinking – one of the most obvious reasons that we bury ourselves into technology is because we lack the ability to stay in one moment too long. What if we’re missing out? Do I have a new notification? Has someone messaged me?
I asked the question – where did this huge fear of missing out come from? How long have we had it and what is it’s purpose?
The dictionary definition of FOMO is “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere”.
Although FOMO is a term that seems to of only come into play within recent years, there is research that backs up the idea that this is a primal fear we have had from extremely early years. Anita Sanz says “The fear of missing out is an old—actually an ancient—fear, being triggered by the newest form of communication: social media. Our survival as an individual within a tribe, and thus our survival as a species, once hinged on our being aware of threats both to ourselves and to the larger group. To be “in the know” when we roamed around in small groups was critical to survival.”
This feeling is created in part of the brain’s limbic system, the amygdala, whose job it is to detect whether something could be a threat to our survival.
Further Insight to the Mind
Deconstructing the research of Rick Hanson, Ph.D – A neuropsychologist and author.
Following on from what I had learnt about the amygdala, I decided to delve further into how what parts of the brain/mind effect our emotions – by stripping back the functions of joy right to it’s very core, I hope to understand how and what can trigger joy to be activated in a more defined manner.
“There are two kinds of memory: Explicit and Implicit.
Explicit: Recollections of specific events.
Implicit: Emotions, body sensations, relationship paradigms, sense of the world.
Implicit memory is different from remembering ideas or concepts: this kind of memory is in your “gut.” It’s visceral, felt, powerful, and rooted in the fundamental and ancient – reptile and early mammal – structures of your brain”
This tells me that Explicit memory may be more factual and based on past situations, whereas the Implicit memory deals with the ever changing ‘now’, the emotional and soulful side of the mind. So if I were to try and make an impact on the emotions on someone, this is the side of memory that I need to be targeting.
First, the amygdala – the switchboard that assigns a feeling tone to the stimuli flowing through the brain (pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral) and directs a response (approach, avoid, move on) – is neurologically primed to label experiences as frightening and negative. In other words, it’s built to look for the bad.
It seems we are programmed to focus on the negatives, so to try and counteract this side of the brains functioning, I’m going to hard to work twice as hard to get a brief moment of joy into another person, never mind a positive lasting effect. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to do something big in order for it to work, it just has to be fine tuned to directly aim for the ‘happy spots’ of the mind.
Yes, we can notice positive experiences and remember them. But unless you’re having a million dollar moment, the brain circuitry for what’s positive is like a paper- and-pencil pad compared to a high-powered video camera plugged into a fast computer with terabyte storage for what’s negative.
Rick Hanson then goes on to explain the many benefits of exposing yourself to positive experiences and how we can hope to make the most of them. All these lead me down excellent paths of further research that I can use to build my concept with. It makes me feel great knowing that it’s not a total uphill battle, there are simple, defined, ways we can tap into the benefits of the positives and create more joy in the world.
That’s a deeply wise and wonderful undertaking: happiness is skillful means. And happily for happiness, this is aligned with your deepest nature: awake, interested, benign, at peace, and quietly inclined to joy.