What I Learned from QS Europe

November 29, 2011

There are many ways to experience a conference, especially one with so many inspiring overlapping sessions presented by attendees. My personal bias is towards mood tracking, so that’s mostly what I paid attention to this weekend, as well as meeting all the impressive quantifiers who came!

If you want to look back over the conference, here are links to the photos and tweets that came out of it. Paul MillerMartha Rotter, and Gangadhar Sulkunte also wrote up some great summaries of their experiences. Huge thanks to our great friends at QS Amsterdam for helping to make this happen!

Here is some of what I took away from the weekend:

  • Jenny Tillotson is working on “emotional clothing” that can sense how you’re feeling and boost your mood/energy or help you relax.
  • I had never thought of the idea of collecting silence, as Danielle Roberts does.
  • Lisette Sutherland’s recipe for overcoming social anxiety? Habituation. Pick a social thing that scares you but that you enjoy doing, and keep doing it over and over again, even if it’s hard at first. You will learn to recognize the patterns of your feelings and begin to be able to insert a rational thought into the emotional loop – “this fear is not real!” – which will lessen the severity of the emotion.
  • A good reminder – not every pattern has meaning. Sometimes it’s just meaningless coincidence.
  • Jan Peter Larsen told us about patterns that predict addiction or depression relapse, and interventions to help prevent full relapse. The predicting patterns include sleep inconsistency, social passivity, and web surfing, both duration and types of sites visited. The interventions include inviting reflection on and awareness of your mood patterns, and facilitating the act of reaching out to other people for support.
  • Steve Dean showed how deconstructing behaviors into sequences of small, specific actions can help you design rituals that work for you in your daily life.
  • Richard Ryan presented research showing that emotions only last for 90 seconds, unless you keep amplifying them.
  • One of my own insights from the weekend is that carefully managing my inputs (sensory, social, emotional and informational) is important to not triggering destructive or negative emotional states.
  • Another of my insights: when you recognize a painful pattern in yourself, that’s the first step towards replacing it with a helpful pattern that meets the same underlying need, but in a non-harmful way. This led to a pretty significant breakthrough for me!
  • Marco van Heerde pointed out that sometimes too much precision in your data isn’t helpful for building awareness. It’s ok to be vague!
  • Kristin Prevallet taught us some powerful mood-managing exercises, including EFT. You can focus on and change how your body feels in order to change your mental state. In other words, ease your emotions somatically, before they turn into big stories in your mind.
  • And finally a wise insight from Robin Barooah: the problem with research isn’t that it’s too slow, it’s that existing research isn’t put into practice.
It was another transformative event for me, and I’m already looking forward to the next conference! Feel free to share any other insights from the weekend in the comments below.

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