Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Q: How can scientists work in the most difficult times and circumstances?
Krishna: Scientists are 'extremophiles'. They are individuals who thrive on difficulties!
Because they are the first people to go ' to places where no man has gone before'. They are the first people to attempt what nobody has done before.
This is how scientists themselves interpret it: It’s because they see a way out. They see that things can be done despite the difficulties.
Hope is seeing a pathway, even though the pathway seems far, far away.
Some of these scientists call themselves '‘realistic optimists".
Just optimism doesn't make you do things in the way things should be done.
Positive thinking - this cultural phenomenon is not only delusional, but dangerous. Insidiously, the obsession with positive thinking shifts us to an inescapable feeling of guilt when we find it difficult or impossible to remain optimistic all the time. The reality is that human emotions fluctuate. It is perfectly normal to go through periods of sadness and despair, and cry when you feel like it. There's really something wrong with you if you don't experience such things. Won't you feel sad if you lose a job or money or a loved one? There is nothing wrong with it. Psychologists recommend that people suffering from grief express their emotions through talking and crying, rather than keeping their emotions in check and laughing artificially. The science of laughing and crying says that there is a myth that laughing works well always. Sometimes, when you are emotionally distressed, crying helps! Laughter does have the power to override other emotions momentarily – but not fully (1).
According to experts, Suppressing or turning away from our difficult emotions is not healthy or helpful.
What happens is, it undermines our ability to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. This is associated with lower levels of resilience, lower levels of well being, and higher levels of depression and anxiety. And it also impacts our relationships and our ability to achieve our goals.
Instead of pushing negativity aside or forcing positivity, one critical way of dealing with a difficult emotion is to label it effectively. When we can label our emotions more accurately, it helps us understand the cause of those emotions and activates what’s called a ‘readiness potential,’ your ability to set goals and to make real concrete changes.
Instead of telling a distressed person how to feel, like 'don't take it so hard' or 'don't think about it,' you could encourage them to talk about their thoughts or feelings so that person can come to their own conclusions about how to change their feelings or behaviors, according to research.
Making people see things and think realistically is more important than thinking positively. The thing that makes us truly strong is ‘being realistic’, neither positivity nor negativity. (1)
I think half of the battle in any scientist's job is learning to take what could be a very overwhelming anxiety and turn it into productivity and resilience. You just have to focus on these little areas where you can make a difference. To help others despite your own difficulties. If you could do that successfully you forget your own pains and problems.
The coping technique these scientists have in common is doing something to help. The word they often use is “agency.”
Agent. (Science: pharmacology) Any power, principle or substance capable of producing an effect, whether physical, chemical or biological.
Intense desire to find a way out of trying times is what differentiates a winner from a loser. The winners never think it’s depressing. They don’t think it’s gloomy. It’s just difficult. It’s just challenging
Regular depression and regular anxiety tools work just as well for these people.
If you like doing something, you do it no matter how hard it is. Scientists like science.
Moreover, Scientists are 'we' people. Working together with other people in a common effort give them more success. Collaborations and collective effort make them cope with challenging circumstances.
One scientist beautifully put it in this way:
“I go to a scientific meeting and I look around at the hundreds of scientists that are working on this very problem I am dealing with . And I’m like ‘Yeah, we’re doing this.’” 'We can achieve success collectively'.
They also think 'We’ve got to do as much as we can in the limited time we have'. And science tells us it is not 'game over', it is just 'game started and proceeding'.
Faint signs of life clinging on in nature despite the odd circumstances give scientists inspiration. It tells them, "There must be another way to deal with this. And that way might lead to a new life and success'.
This is the story of the scientists whose 'never say die attitude' is leading the world.