A Stanford neuroscientist reveals something ‘puzzling’ in people who are extremely successful

There’s a common trait in many people who are extremely successful — they’re highly organised. But this lifestyle actually comes with a serious downside, explains Robert Sapolsky, who is a professor of neuroscience at Stanford University and author of “Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.” Here’s a transcript of the video.

Everything is regulated! Everything is under control! And it’s stressful.

Something called repressive personality disorder. People with repressive personalities, they’re not anxious, they’re not depressed.

What these are, are highly-organised people who are incredibly on top of stuff and extremely productive and totally together.

This was the college roommate who never once had to do an all nighter. This is the person who can tell you what they’re having for dinner 2 weeks from Thursday because they have got this very regimented life.

Everything is totally predictable, and they’re usually extremely successful. And you sit there and you say “Why can’t I be half as together as they are?”

And then you see something very puzzling, which is they have elevated levels of stress hormones in their bloodstream. And their frontal cortices are working harder than average.

What’s that about?

Their brains are sitting there squeezing their psychic sphincter shut around the clock to make sure everything is regulated, everything is under control. And it’s stressful.

In other words, this extraordinary finding that sometimes it can be very stressful to construct a world in which nothing stressful and unexpected ever occurs.

Because all you are is maintaining the walls around you all the time. And that takes a lot of work. And then along comes something you can’t control and every fuse in you blows and you have a meltdown.

But otherwise, this is a very successful profile churning away underneath the surface around the clock to produce this wonderfully peaceful, predictable world.

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