June Reading List 2020

My commitment to reading this summer has surprisingly not fallen to complete shambles after one month. Although, truth be told, the thought of making this blog post definitely kept me reading in moments of waning motivation.

Same as last time, below is the list of books that I’ve enjoyed this month for which I won’t give easily Google-able summaries, but instead share some of my favorite thought provoking quotes.

Why Do I Feel Like an Imposter? by Dr. Sandi Mann

I’ve given a lot of thought to Imposter Syndrome lately, especially since starting my internship and since getting a writer’s block on my CMU related blog post (uh yes, they’re still forthcoming). I experienced so many “woah, this is so relatable!” moments while reading this psychologist’s take on Imposter Syndrome.

Internal rules of a super-imposter: I have to be great at everything. The more I do the greater I am. If I am not perfect at every role I take on, then I have failed. I should be able to juggle everything. I should be able to cope. Not coping is a sign of weakness. If I fail at something, this proves that I am a fake.

The self esteem imposter syndrome cycle is obvious. If you have a negative opinion about yourself, then you are not going to think that anything you do is good enough. If there is evidence of the contrary, then you are left in a state of cognitive dissonance, struggling with two contradictory beliefs about yourself. In order to resolve this uncomfortable feeling about yourself, you have to change one of your cognitions or beliefs. You can either change your core belief that you are not good enough, or change the cognition that you have evidence that you are good enough. Core beliefs are incredibly difficult to shift, so it is usually easier to change the belief that there is evidence that I am good enough, to the evidence cannot be believed.

… the hedonic treadmill hypothesis, which states that just as we adjust our walking or running speed to match the speed of the treadmill. We adjust our moods to match life’s circumstances. Lottery winners report being super happy after winning the lottery, but their happiness falls to baseline within 2 months after winning. That’s not to say that money is irrelevant to happiness… but to believe that wealth per se is a measure of success is to misunderstand what success is. Success is surely about happiness. Someone who is happy is surely more of a success than someone who is rich but unhappy. Money might contribute to more happiness, but it is not enough. Sufferers of IS (Imposter Syndrome) usually measure their success and achievement against material matters, which are tangible and very visible, rather than unseen and unknown matters of genuine happiness. This is why many of us would rather earn 50k with all our other friends earning 30k than earn 80k with all our friends earning 100k. In the second case, even though we are earning more, we do not feel as successful as our friends. If we can challenge the way we measure success, we might feel more confident that we have made it after all.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

It would have been negligent of me to not have taken time this month to work towards further educating myself on present day racial issues as well as the Black Lives Matter movement. Reading Kendi’s book is just one of many small steps I realize I should continuously take towards understanding how much work and change I need to see in myself as well as in our society.

Americans have long been trained to see the deficiencies of people rather than policy. It’s a pretty easy mistake to make: People are in our faces. Policies are distant. We are particularly poor at seeing the policies lurking behind the struggles of people.

Individual behaviors can shape the success of individuals. But policies determine the success of groups. And it is racist power that creates the policies that cause racial inequities. Making individuals responsible for the perceived behavior of racial groups and making whole racial groups responsible for the behavior of individuals are the two ways that behavioral racism infects our perception of the world.

I had to learn to keep racist police offers from getting nervous. Black people are apparently responsible for calming the fears of violent cops in the way women are supposedly responsible for calming the sexual desires of male rapists. If we don’t, then we are blamed for our own assault, our own deaths.

“Racist” and “antiracist” are like peelable name tags that are placed and replaced based on what someone is doing or not doing, supporting or expressing in each moment. These are not permanent tattoos. No one becomes a racist or antiracist. We can only strive to be one or the other. We can unknowingly strive to be a racist. We can knowingly strive to be an antiracist. Like fighting an addiction, become an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s books are always floating around top Psychology reading lists and I thought I’d finally give this popular book a shot.

When our friends rank us on the Big Five, how close do they come to the truth? The answer is, not surprisingly, that our friends can describe us fairly accurately. They have a thick slice of experience with us and that translates into a real sense of who we are. Then Gosling repeated the process, but this time he didn’t call on close friends, he used total strangers, who had never even met the students they were judging. All they saw were their dorm rooms. He gave the raters clipboards and told them they had 15 minutes to look around and answer a series of very basic questions about the occupant of the room. On a scale of 1 – 5, does the inhabitant of this room seem to be the kind of person who’s talkative, tends to find fault with others, does a thorough job, is original, is reserved, is helpful and unselfish with others and so on. The dorm room observers weren’t nearly as good as friends in measuring extroversion… The friends also did slightly better in accurately estimating agreeableness. But on the remaining three traits of the Big Five the strangers with the clipboard came out on top. They were more accurate at measuring conscientiousness and they were much more accurate at both predicting the student’s emotional stability and their openness to new experiences.

Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which mean we can change our first impressions. We can alter the way we think slice by changing the experiences that comprise those impression. If you are a white person who would like to treat black people as equals in every way, who would like to have a set of associations with blacks as positive as those you have with whites, it requires more than a simple commitment to equality. It requires that you change your life, so that you are exposed to minorities on a regular basis and become comfortable with them and familiar with the best of their culture so that when you want to meet, hire, date, or talk with a minority, you aren’t betrayed by your hesitation and discomfort. Taking rapid cognition seriously, acknowledging the incredible power for good and ill that first impressions play in our lives requires us to take active steps to control those impressions.

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

Ending off with a very light-hearted, comedic, and not at all psychologically cerebral book, I was really excited to pick up a book written by a fellow Asian American woman, especially one in such an unconventional and male dominated industry like comedy.

Dear girls, I highly encourage you to study abroad at some point. In fact, I’m just going to make you do it. If you don’t, I swear I will burn all my limited edition tracksuits that I know you will want when you’re big enough to fit them. Bottom line, spending a significant amount of time outside the United States in your formative years makes you a better person. You learn things simply from living your day to day life in another country that can’t be taught in a classroom.

Dear girls, in case I die suddenly, this is very important information I want to pass down to you, more crucial than money or love. This might be the most important lesson in this book. Being able to select a great asian restaurant is a great source of pride for me. Life is too short to be wasting meals on bad food and I would feel deep shame if I ever caught one of you eating at a gross asian restaurant. I’d rather catch you trafficking cocaine into Thailand… than see you eating at a P.F. Changs. General rule of thumb, 99% of the cliental should be asian. If you see groups of old asian women there, that is a very, very good sign.