NPR
3 min read
Psychology

Need A Happiness Boost? Spend Your Money To Buy Time, Not More Stuff

Money can't buy happiness, right? Well, some researchers beg to differ. They say it depends on how you spend it. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that when people spend money on time-saving services such as a house cleaner, lawn care or grocery-delivery, it can make them feel a little happier. By comparison, money spent on material purchases – aka things – does not boost positive emotions the way we might expect. Think of it as a way to buy back what has become for many Americans a scarce resource: free time. Yet, in a culture where many
Entrepreneur
3 min read
Psychology

Finding Your 'Stress Sweet Spot' to Perform at Your Best

When you hear the term "peak performer," what do you think of? Odds are it’s someone who routinely operates under intense stress, getting the job done regardless of the difficulties. We think of athletes, lawyers, astronauts. But in their groundbreaking recent book The Leading Brain, researchers Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann offer a more nuanced take on what it means to be a peak performer. To Fabritius and Hagemann, peak performance doesn’t necessarily mean thriving amid intense stress. Instead, it means finding your sweet spot -- the amount of stress (or using their term, “arousa
The Atlantic
3 min read
Psychology

When the Mind Wanders

In 2014, one in 16 Americans visited the ER for home injuries that resulted from, among other things, fumbling knives (the cause of at least 249,000 injuries), ladders (at least 105,000), and cookware (at least 22,000). One of the main causes of these accidents? A wandering mind, says Steve Casner, the author of Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds. By one estimate, he notes, people daydream through nearly half their waking hours. Psychologists have recently focused more intently on the tendency to think about something other than the task at hand. For one experiment, two Harvard
The Atlantic
3 min read
Self-Improvement

Is Any Job Really Better Than No Job?

Any job is better than no job. Or at least that’s the thinking when it comes to preserving physical and mental health after unemployment. Indeed, many studies have found that the long-term unemployed have at least twice the rate of depression and anxiety, as well as higher rates of heart attacks and strokes. One study on Pennsylvania men weathering the 1980s recession found that a year after they were laid off, the men’s risk of dying doubled. And as one review of the most recent recession put it, “nearly all individual-level studies indicated that job loss, financial strain, and housing issue
The Wall Street Journal
4 min read
Psychology

Six Steps You Can Take to Better Understand How Others View You

Most of us are not as self-aware as we think we are.Research shows that people who have a high level of self-awareness—who see themselves, how they fit into the world and how others see them clearly—make smarter decisions, raise more mature children and are more successful in school and work. They’re less likely to lie, cheat and steal. And they have healthier relationships. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist from Denver, spent three years conducting a study on self-awareness and has a new book on it titled “Insight.” When it comes to self-knowledge, she says there are three types of
The Atlantic
17 min read
Self-Improvement

How Motherhood Affects Creativity

Her labor begins, and she leans back on her bottom, pulling the first baby out of her body with her own hands and teeth. Within five minutes, another newborn arrives. Soon, her babies are squirming around her, squealing and desperate to suckle. Although the mother rat has never given birth before this, she is now responsible for a dozen lives—so she hits the ground running, instinct as her compass, biology as her map. She has already stockpiled the materials for a warm nest. She uses what she can find. Strands of hair, dried grass, twigs, paper towels, furniture foam. Her brain is closer to a
New York Magazine
15 min read
Psychology

When Big Brother Parents

SHEP WAS 13 WHEN he started stealing from his parents. It began not long after he and his siblings moved with their parents to a suburb north of New York City from the city abroad where the family had lived for more than a decade. While his siblings settled into their new home, Shep withdrew. He grew anxious and unhappy and began to struggle in school and to obsess over the Madden NFL mobile football game, losing interest in everything else. His mother, Elizabeth, had suspected that the move back to America would be hardest, of all her children, on Shep; he had loved his friends and his life a
Nautilus
11 min read
Psychology

How to Choose Wisely: From Yelping to dating, there’s a better way.

Sparkling or still water? Organic or conventional avocados? Four stars or three-and-a-half? The modern world sets loose upon us a barrage of choice in the consumer marketplace, while the Internet not only expands our consumption opportunities—giving us most of the world’s music in a smartphone app—it offers us myriad new chances to learn about the tastes, and distastes, of others. For several years, leading up to the 2016 publication of my book You May Also Like: Taste in An Age of Endless Choice, I dove into the latest research on consumer behavior, via social science, psychology, and neurosc
NPR
2 min read
Self-Improvement

Why We Can't Shake Life's 'Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda' Moments

Everyone has regrets. You probably have a few of them. By some estimates, regret is the most common negative emotion that we talk about, and the second-most common emotion mentioned in our daily lives. Amy Summerville is a professor of psychology who runs the Regret Lab at Miami University in Ohio. She says a big part of why we struggle with regret has to do with the idea of rumination. "Rumination is having thoughts spring unwanted to mind and we're chewing them over without actually getting anything new out of them, they're just repeatedly, intrusively, becoming part of our mental landscape.
The Guardian
3 min read
Religion & Spirituality

After 500 Years, Europe’s Reformation Scars Have All but Healed, Study Finds

Five centuries after the Reformation triggered a series of long and bloody religious wars across Europe, modern-day Protestants and Catholics believe they have more in common theologically than they do differences, and most would be willing to accept each other as neighbours and family members. “Theological differences that split western Christianity in the 1500s have diminished to a degree that might have shocked Christians in past centuries,” says a report by the Washington-based Pew Research Center. The study does note a geographical divide in western Europe, with predominantly Protestant
NPR
5 min read
Religion & Spirituality

Is The Apocalypse Coming? No, It Isn't!

The Sign, a documentary directed, shot and produced by Josh Turnbow and Robert Dvoran and set to air Thursday, addresses whether the end of days is coming this month, as some biblical literalists predict. The "sign" in the title refers to an alignment in the sky peaking on Sept. 23, whereby Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter will be around the constellations of Virgo and Leo, together with the sun and moon. Sept. 23 is when Jupiter leaves Virgo after being there for a while. According to Revelation 12, some say, this is when the end comes, after much turmoil and destruction: "A great sign appea
The New York Times
4 min read
Psychology

How to Bring Your Vacation Home With You

BE OPEN TO UNEXPECTED, IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES. The cruel thing about vacations is that they are pleasurable but finite. I recently had time to contemplate this unwelcome fact during a 10-hour flight home from a Greek island where I had spent a paradisiacal two weeks. I found myself wondering about the relationship between the duration of a vacation and the longevity of its mental health benefits. Is a large amount of time off the secret to bringing your vacation home with you? We Americans have been preoccupied with the length of our vacations for some time. William Howard Taft, our 27th presid
Better Nutrition
4 min read
Self-Improvement

Stress Relief Toolkit

Have you ever noticed your pulse accelerate when you do something as mundane as watching the news? In an automatic response to perceived danger, the body floods with hormones and elevates the heart rate, boosting our energy in preparation for “fight or flight.” These days, some of us find our bodies’ alarm systems going off all the time, which can lead to serious health consequences. “Stress relief isn’t optional anymore, it’s a necessity,” says Cassandra Bodzak, a holistic lifestyle expert, meditation and wellness teacher, and TV personality. “Consider creating a foundational support system f
A Plus
5 min read
Self-Improvement

We Tried 3 'Fake It 'Til You Make It' Strategies To See If We Could Trigger Feelings Of Self-Confidence

Some people naturally radiate an inherent sense of confidence, but for the rest of us (introverts especially), these feelings of self-assurance aren't always easy to access. If you're in the latter category, you've probably been told to "fake it 'til you make it," but maybe it's time we take the phrase a little more seriously.    Science shows faking self-confidence can actually make it happen.  While this sounds like magic, studies show positive feelings can be manufactured by employing mindful physiological practices, such as as straightening your posture, striking a power pose, or even chan
The Guardian
2 min read
Religion & Spirituality

Taj Mahal Is Muslim Tomb Not Hindu Temple, Indian Court Told

A court in India has heard testimony from government archaeologists that the Taj Mahal is a Muslim mausoleum built by a Mughal emperor to honour his dead wife – delivering an official riposte to claims it is a Hindu temple. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which protects monuments of national importance, had been ordered to give its view in response to a petition filed by six lawyers stating that the Unesco world heritage site in the city of Agra had originally been a temple called Tejo Mahalaya dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. The petition also demanded that Hindus be allowed to
Better Nutrition
2 min read
Self-Improvement

Don’t Stress About It

Stress comes in many difierent shapes and sizes, some of which aren’t always obvious—work pressure, debt, illness, worries about children or aging parents, and the list goes on. There are also psychological forms of stress such as holding on to things and stuflng down feelings. Regardless of the cause, all forms of stress can negatively afiect health and mental well-being. There are a lot of efiective ways to deal with stress and lighten your stress “load.” We have some suggestions in “Stress Relief Toolkit” by Tina Rubin on p. 38. For example, here’s an easy stress management tip that can pay
NPR
3 min read
Psychology

Can A Machine Tell Whether You Are Gay?

Drawing on databases of images collected from an online dating site, a new study conducted at Stanford University concludes that faces carry information about sexual orientation. This information is not available to visual inspection by ordinary perceivers. But it can be extracted by powerful, pattern-recognizing machines ("deep neural networks" or DNNs). According to the study, which has also been reported here , here and here, a DNN was 91 percent accurate in determining sexual orientation from photos of men and 83 percent accurate with woman. Humans, given the same images to inspect, had a
Nautilus
5 min read
Religion & Spirituality

The Case for Cosmic Pantheism

Aren’t those opposites?” people often ask me, when they discover I study science and religion. As a professor of religious studies, I am particularly drawn to the places where religion and science seem antagonistic, but turn out to be entwined. The multiverse, I would argue, is one of those places. This may come as a surprise, because the multiverse is so often used as an argument against the existence of God. The multiverse hypothesis has been around since the late 1950s, but it gained traction in the late 1990s when physicists discovered dark energy, or the cosmological constant. When it com
Popular Science
3 min read
Psychology

The FDA Says Ecstasy Is a ‘Breakthrough’ Drug for PTSD Patients

'Molly' tablets often don't contain much MDMA, because they're packed with fillers. The purest way to get MDMA is in crystal form. Depositphotos Ecstasy doesn’t sound like something you do in a doctor’s office. But the Food and Drug Administration wants that to change. The FDA just approved the substance, more clinically known as MDMA, as a ‘breakthrough’ drug—and will work to move it through clinical trials as efficiently as possible. The FDA only grants breakthrough status when a medication (for a serious disease) is likely to offer significantly better results than currently available treat
The Guardian
4 min read
Psychology

Feeling Like an Impostor? You Can Escape This Confidence-Sapping Syndrome | Fiona Buckland

The philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” Whether on a local or global level, the problems we face require the best people to step up. But many hold back because they feel that luck rather than ability lies behind their successes, and dread that sooner or later some person or event will expose them for the fraud that deep down they believe themselves to be. Far from being a realistic self-assessment, the impostor syndrome mind-trap prevents people from believing
The Atlantic
6 min read
Psychology

How Friends Become Closer

“Friendships don’t just happen,” says William Rawlins, a professor of interpersonal communication at Ohio University. “They don’t drop from the sky.” Like any relationship, friendships take effort and work. But they’re often the last to receive that effort after people expend their energy on work, family, and romance. And as I’ve written before, as time goes on, friendships often face more hurdles to intimacy than other close relationships. As people hurtle toward the peak busyness of middle age, friends—who are usually a lower priority than partners, parents, and children—tend to fall by the
Better Nutrition
1 min read
Wellness

Adapt With Adaptogens

Adaptogens get their names from the adaptive properties the plants exhibit in nature, meaning the plants respond and adapt well to stressful environmental conditions, making them hardier and stronger. Fortunately, these herbs have the same effect on us. The following adaptogens can help to improve your stress response and mitigate the negative impact stress has on your immune system. As a result, these adaptogens help restore balance to your entire body. 1 ASHWAGANDHA is a calming adaptogen that supports healthy adrenal function. It is often used to relieve anxiety and fatigue, and to help ba
NPR
3 min read
Religion & Spirituality

Lee Relative Who Denounced White Supremacy Resigns As Pastor Of N.C. Church

A descendant of a nephew of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee announced yesterday that he had resigned as pastor of his church in Winston-Salem, N.C. Robert Wright Lee IV, who came to national attention denouncing his relative's legacy on NPR and elsewhere, said he made the decision after Bethany United Church of Christ moved to vote on his tenure there. "We are all called by God to speak out against hate and evil in all its many forms," he wrote in a blog post. "There are so many good things going on with this congregation and I do not want my fight to detract from the mission. If the recent med
The Atlantic
8 min read

Love In The Time Of Individualism

C.S. Lewis’s wife, Joy Davidman, died of bone cancer on July 13, 1960. The next day, the famous author wrote a letter to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, to tell him the news. “I’d like to meet,” Lewis writes, suggesting the two grab lunch sometime soon. “For I am—oh God that I were not—very free now. One doesn’t realize in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy is to be tied.” When it comes to romance, Americans are freer than they’ve ever been. Freer to marry, freer to divorce, freer to have sex when and with whom they like with fewer consequences, freer
Mic
4 min read
Self-Improvement

The Reason You’re More Likely to Cry on Planes

It’s a scenario we all recognize: You’re peacefully enjoying a flight one minute, and the next you’re openly sobbing at the rom-com playing on a tiny screen, hoping your seat neighbors don’t notice. Or maybe you’re feeling inexplicably high-strung and can’t pinpoint why, or you can’t help but question all your life choices during turbulence. You’re not imagining it — travelers are frequently overcome with unexpectedly strong feelings when they’re in the air. Your trek through airport security may be stressful enough on its own, but once you step aboard, you’re in for a whole new emotional rol
Nautilus
7 min read
Tech

Your Next New Best Friend Might Be a Robot: Meet Xiaoice. She’s empathic, caring, and always available—just not human.

One night in late July 2014, a journalist from the Chinese newspaper Southern Weekly interviewed a 17-year-old Chinese girl named Xiaoice (pronounced Shao-ice). The journalist, Liu Jun, conducted the interview online, through the popular social networking platform Weibo. It was wide-ranging and personal: LJ: So many people make fun of you and insult you, why don’t you get mad?Xiaoice: You should ask my father.LJ: What if your father leaves you one day unattended?Xiaoice: Don’t try to stir up trouble, what do you want?LJ: How would you like others to comment on you when you die one day?Xiaoice:
The New York Times
2 min read
Happiness

Giving Proof

TURNS OUT GENEROSITY REALLY CAN MAKE US HAPPIER. The adage says it’s better to give than to receive. But is it really? The scientific evidence that generosity is good for us has been scant, even as the benefits of selfishness are obvious. Recently, however, a neurological study published in Nature Communications found there may be some biological truth to the maxim after all. The study showed that generosity changed the activity in people’s brains in ways that increase feelings of happiness, even if the generous act is small or only imagined. Scientists at the University of Zurich and elsewher