If location tracking is a priority, a GPS-enabled wristwatch like the GizmoWatch keeps track of kids through an app on parents' phones but only allows incoming and outgoing calls to and from select numbers. To investigate these expectations further, Chapman and Chapman gave undergraduate students thirty cards.8 Each card had an inkblot, what one patient said about the inkblot, and different emotional, personality, or sexual characteristics of the patient. The students were asked if homosexuals made any particular response more often than other responses. The naive undergraduates thought that the signs mentioned by the psychologists (i.e., feminine clothing, anus, confusion between the sexes, etc.) were stated more by homosexuals. However, the thirty cases were constructed to be random. There was no association whatsoever between the patients' responses and their sexual orientation as listed on the cards. Yet, the students saw associations, and they were the very same associations that experienced clinicians see. Thus, untrained students and clinical psychologists are falling into the same trap--they see associations because of their false expectations. In another compelling experiment, the Chapmans gave students thirty cards that contained a patient's response to an inkblot along with his emotional problem or a statement indicating he was homosexual.9 Two responses (i.e., seeing a monster or a part human/part animal creature) were always given when the patient stated he was a homosexual (i.e., a perfect correlation). Despite the perfect correlation, the students failed to see the association. Only 17 percent thought these two signs occurred more frequently with homosexuality, while 50 percent thought that seeing things like buttocks, genitals, and female clothing occurred more frequently, even though they were listed at random so no association existed. These studies demonstrate that if we think two variables are related, we'll often see a connection, irrespective of the evidence. This is what is known as illusory correlation--we see associations that don't actually exist.10 Other responses from the Rorschach test reveal similar problems. If a patient gives a reflection response like "I see a cat looking into a mirror," clinicians typically interpret it to mean the person is narcissistic, even though studies have shown that there's no association between narcissism and reflection responses. The bottom line is, the reliability and validity of the Rorschach test has not been supported by scientific research. Therapists are seeing associations between responses and illnesses or personality traits because they expect to see them, not because they exist.11 And yet, people are being treated every day for a variety of mental health issues by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who use the Rorschach inkblots. Furthermore, psychologists use the test to help courts decide which parent should get custody of a child, whether prisoners should be granted parole, or what should be done about convicted murderers.12 Hundreds of thousands of crucial decisions are made each year based upon the unreliable Rorschach. Similar problems exist with other widely used projective tests. For example, with the Draw-a-Person test, a clinician interprets the psychological meaning of a face drawn by a patient. Chapman and Chapman asked clinicians what types of characteristics certain patients might draw, and found that 91 percent of them thought a paranoid patient would draw atypical eyes.

However, controlled studies show that there is no difference between the eyes drawn by paranoid patients and by normal subjects. The perceived correlation by clinicians is purely illusionary.13 And yet, clinicians continue to use the test, even though they know the results of such studies. As one clinician commented, "I know that paranoids don't seem to draw big eyes in the research labs, but they sure do in my office."14 We can only imagine the number of inaccurate diagnoses made because of clinicians' misguided beliefs in their ability to accurately perceive associations. Seeing associations that aren't there also occurs in business and government. Graphologists maintain that they can tell many different things about an individual's personality by analyzing handwriting samples. They don't analyze the content of the writing, they analyze how a person crosses her Ts or loops her Os. Empirical research has demonstrated that graphology is completely useless.15 For example, one study had an "expert" graphologist evaluate a number of handwriting samples, with some of the samples presented more than once. The graphologist gave very different analyses to the same handwriting samples. It's scary to think that about 85 percent of the largest corporations in Europe, and about three thousand corporations in the United States, have, in the past, employed graphology in their personnel selection.16 You may have been denied a job because of a graphologist's unfounded judgment. When greed, hatred, and ignorance reveal themselves in our daily lives, we use our mindfulness to track them down and comprehend their roots. The root of each of these mental states is within ourselves. If we do not, for instance, have the root of hatred, nobody can make us angry, for it is the root of our anger that reacts to somebody's actions or words or behavior. If we are mindful, we will diligently use our wisdom to look into our own mind. If we do not have hatred in us, we will not be concerned when someone points out our shortcomings. Rather, we will be thankful to the person who draws our attention to our faults. We have to be extremely wise and mindful to thank the person who exposes our faults for helping us to tread the upward path of self-improvement. We all have blind spots. The other person is our mirror in which we see our faults with wisdom. We should consider the person who shows our shortcomings as one who excavates a hidden treasure of which we were unaware, since it is by knowing the existence of our deficiencies that we can improve ourselves. Improving ourselves is the unswerving path to the perfection that is our goal in life.

Before we try to surmount our defects, we should know what they are. Then, and only then, by overcoming these weaknesses, can we cultivate noble qualities hidden deep down in our subconscious mind. Think of it this way: if we are sick, we must find out the cause of our sickness. Only then can we get treatment. If we pretend that we are not sick, even though we are suffering, we will never get treatment. Similarly, if we think that we don't have these faults, we will never clear our spiritual path. If we are blind to our own flaws, we need someone to point them out to us. When they point out our faults, we should be grateful to them like the Venerable Sariputta, who said: "Even if a seven-year-old novice monk points out my mistakes, I will accept them with utmost respect for him." Venerable Sariputta was a monk who was 100 percent mindful and had no faults. Since he did not have any pride, he was able to maintain this position. Although we are not arahants, we should determine to emulate his example, for our goal in life also is to attain what he attained. Of course, the person pointing out our mistakes may not be totally free from defects himself, but he can see our faults just as we can see his, which he does not notice until we point them out to him. Both pointing out shortcomings and responding to someone pointing out our own shortcomings should be done mindfully. If someone becomes unmindful in indicating faults and uses unkind and harsh language, he might do more harm than good to himself as well as to the person whose shortcomings he points out. One who speaks with resentment cannot be mindful and is unable to express himself clearly. One who feels hurt while listening to harsh language may lose his mindfulness and not hear what the other person is really saying. We should speak mindfully and listen mindfully to be benefited by talking and listening. When we listen and talk mindfully, our minds are free from greed, selfishness, hatred, and delusion. As meditators, we all must have a goal, for if we do not, and blindly follow somebody's instructions on meditation, we will simply be groping in the dark. There must certainly be a goal for whatever we do consciously and willingly. It is not the vipassana meditator's goal to become enlightened before other people or to have more power or make more profit than others.

Meditators are not in competition with each other for mindfulness. Our goal is to reach the perfection of all the noble and wholesome qualities latent in our subconscious mind. This goal has five elements to it: purification of mind, overcoming sorrow and lamentation, overcoming pain and grief, treading the right path leading to attainment of eternal peace, and attaining happiness by following that path. Keeping this fivefold goal in mind, we can advance with hope and confidence. Now we compare ourselves to thousands, if not millions, of virtual neighbors. And we see only what they allow us to see--photos of their pets, happy dinners with friends, the view from an exotic beach, kids getting academic awards, crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Most of this is posted by people who are "friends" in name only. It's a giant understatement to say that all this adds up to a managed and distorted view of who people really are and how they actually live. And that's before we account for perceptions created by advertisers that can be grossly manipulative, misleading, or outright false. Those suffering from depression are already poised to believe that their lives don't measure up to the lives of others. The Internet provides persuasive "evidence" they're right about that. While much of what you see on the Internet presents an overly rosy view of reality, millions of other sites peddle the opposite extreme: nonstop doom and gloom. It's an alarming parade of war, famine, political strife, social injustice, and environmental catastrophe--almost as if news organizations, bloggers, filmmakers, chat group members, and millions of commenters have conspired to turn whole regions of cyberspace into a scene from Dante's Inferno, in which the entrance to hell is inscribed "Abandon hope all ye who enter here!" Spend much time there, and you'll be convinced the world teeters on the edge of calamity and collapse every second of every day. I believe a steady diet of "digital distortion" is harmful to anyone's mental health and magnifies depression symptoms. It rarely leads to healthy or effective political engagement on important issues. In fact, exposure to "doom porn," as it is sometimes humorously called, simply reinforces feelings of powerlessness and despair. That's why, to a person struggling to overcome serious depression, it's positively toxic. Turning off the spigot and cleaning up the digital sludge is an essential step toward recovery. A hallmark symptom of serious depression is an inability to keep up with daily responsibilities and obligations. You feel drained of the energy and motivation needed to complete even the most commonplace tasks.

Lots of factors converge to make this so, including poor nutrition, lack of exercise, unhelpful sleep habits, and chaotic emotions. An often overlooked item that also belongs on the list is time leakage. A person who is depressed will spend eight hours avoiding fifteen minutes of cleaning the kitchen by filling the time with every possible distraction. The Internet presents an infinite warehouse of options. One click leads to a hundred more possibilities. Social media is a bottomless pit of posts, likes, follows, and comments, and before you know it, whole days have disappeared. In all that time, you're not simply standing still. For reasons we've already discussed, chances are you've gone backward, deeper down the rabbit hole of hopelessness and despair. Reclaiming your time and how you spend it is a vital step in reclaiming your life from depression. Watch their smiling faces, and feel yourself as a powerful, comedic presence in their life--and as someone they can depend on to feel better, based upon your ability to tell a great joke, or to be a skilled storyteller. Knowing that whatever it is you want to accomplish, will come true. It's just a daydream away. In order to become credible, it's important to stop worrying about what other people think. More specifically, you must abandon the thoughts that have been plaguing you since the last outing you made. Did someone laugh at your hobbies? Ignore you altogether? Forget your name? It doesn't matter. When you meet someone for the first time, they will make a series of snap judgments about the kind of person you are and whether they are interested in talking to you. If you sit there and worry about mistakes you've already made, they will be judging that same mistake prone person you were weeks or months ago.