Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Screensaver of Doom: Inspired by Kelly McGonigal

I listen to podcasts and audiobooks all the time. (This blog is not sponsored by, yet, but it should be.) They make boring tasks like housework go faster. I listen to them all of the time in my car and when walking or running. I feel a little anxious when I don't have anything new on my playlist.

There might be a good reason for that. I was listening to an interview on Sounds True: Insights on the Edge with Kelly McGonigal. She wrote The Willpower Instinct and also has a new audio program out,The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Program for Personal Transformation. It's next up on my wishlist.

The thing that struck me in the interview was something I'm not sure is in the audiobook.While talking with interviewer Tami Simon, McGonigal mentioned that the brain's "default mode" when not otherwise engaged is to resort to fault-finding, of both the self and others.  She said that most people think that the brain is resting when not thinking of anything, but neuroscience shows that instead, it starts picking things apart.

I thought that the fact that I do this was a flaw in my own wiring, but now I find that it's a factory-standard Screensaver of Doom.  Nothing to do? What can I criticize about myself or the people and things around me?  I guess evolution might have favored a mind that was always looking for things that needed to be improved or changed.  When I told my husband, who's a high-school teacher, he said the kids that never seem to think are also the ones who are mean.

I wonder if I listen to audiobooks to drown out the negative noise in my head.  Vickie has mentioned that she does this, and it does seem that without something to entertain me, I sometimes find it hard to get going.

McGonigal's program seems to be different. It's about learning to be more mindful and present, not tuning out.  And, of course, it's about becoming more compassionate.

As I said, I can't wait to get it. When I do, you'll be the first to know.


  1. Perception is an American crime drama television series created by Kenneth Biller and Mike Sussman. The series stars Eric McCormack as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a neuropsychiatrist who assists the FBI on some of their most complex cases.
    The series is broadcast in the United States on the cable channel TNT, and is produced by ABC Studios.[1] It premiered on July 9, 2012.[2]

    Eric McCormack as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a neuropsychiatrist and professor at (the fictional) Chicago Lake Michigan University (CLMU), who is enlisted by the FBI to assist on some of their most complex cases. Dr. Pierce's interest in neuroscience stems from his own schizophrenia and paranoia.[4]

  2. Dr Pierce in the show listed above plays loud marching band (I think) music in his ears and directs in time to the music to keep his schizophrenia from creeping into his brain.

    It was very interesting to observe.

    So it isn't enough to give himself something to think about, he sort of has to have the whole band marching thru his brain.

  3. I have learned to turn my brain totally off like when I am on my yoga mat. But when my brain has to be on, my books on audio make a huge difference in the peacefulness of my life.

  4. I grew up in a highly critical family and it has taken me a good 45+ years to undo the tapes that play in my head, not just about myself but about others, as well. I have come to understand that compassion just feels better, overall! This post, by a friend of mine, really hits home:

  5. I am considering logging my food Oct-Dec.

    I consider you to be a wealth of knowledge on the systems available, so am writing to ask for pointers.

    I need something simple.

    If I need to pay a small fee, that is okay.

    I only need to be able to log from my house computer (not iPad or the like).

    I want to log total calories and then have carbs, fat, protein percentages broken down for me.

    I want to calculate sodium and fiber.

    I want nutritional data (calcium, vitamins in foods, etc) tracked also.

    I might like to easily be able to put the information in a post.

    I am trying a new woman's doctor in February (unless a spot opens earlier). I would like to have very good data for her. Three months would give a very good snapshot.

  6. thought of one more - I eat mostly whole foods. Someone pointed me to a site long ago that was processed food and eating out based. Don't remember the site, and I was only visiting it looking for data (I think for a post). But I remember thinking - this would so not be a good fit for me.

    1. I replied by email to Vickie but thought I should probably post here in case anyone else wants the info. is good if web-only tracking. The interface is a little old and there is no mobile option. LoseIt has both web and mobile tracking (iPhone and Android). Both are free. I like LoseIt best but FitDay tracks more nutrients, I think.

      A lot of people use MyFitnessPal but I didn't like it as much.

      All three would have whole foods and processed foods in the database.

  7. I see that it rolls up calories, carbs, protein, fiber.

    BUT do not see fat.

    Am I missing something?

    and it cracks me up the the whole foods are buried. I plugged in oatmeal and the first thing listed was oatmeal PIE, but real oatmeal was on the second page. . .

  8. email did not come thru

  9. I went back to my old excel sheet, updated the way it tracks and that is working for me. The online sites were too much like watching commercials and walking down the junk food aisle . . .


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07