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Lessons Our Emotions Can Teach Us — and How Many of us dismiss our emotions. We think of them as capricious and inconvenient. We think they stall problem-solving. We think they take too much time to process, and we don’t have the luxury of simply sitting and stewing. If we grew up in a home where emotions were vilified...
Neuronal circuits filter out distractions in brain Scientists have hypothesized for decades about how the brain filters out distractions, but it has been challenging to find evidence to support the theories. Now, researchers have identified a neural circuit in the mouse brain that controls attention and sensory processing, providing insight into how the brain filters out distractions. The work has implications for devastating psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia that are characterized at least in part by significant attention deficits.
How Are We To Talk About the Complexity of Bisexuality? A man is bisexual if he feels a persistent sexual and/or romantic attraction to both men and women. A man can seek sex with men but not be gay or bi. This has worried some of my readers who conclude that I am “biphobic” or I don’t believe there are any bisexuals.
Five Ways to Get the Gift Right Christmahannukwanzadan is coming! Does anything about that make you anxious? The holidays are supposed to be a joyous occasion, but they can also be stressful. Thinking about gifts can especially involve both ticklish anticipation and dread. How many people are on your list? Can you get them all things they’ll adore, without breaking your bank? What if one of your otherwise-thoughtful gifts is met with shrouded disappointment? Science can help! Here are five research-based techniques that can help ease the stress, and bring the joy back into exchanging gifts. 1. Think about the good timesWe often think of empathy in terms of reactions to other’s distress, but evidence shows that we’re built to share positive states, too. So before heading out to shop, spend a few moments reliving “good times” with the people on your list. Try to reflect upon the last—or the most memorable time—you felt positive empathy with them. What were you doing? What could you offer that could promote that experience again, or something similar? Maybe the answer is quick and easy: a hula-hoop, new hiking socks, tickets to a comedy show? Maybe it’s not, because you haven’t spent much time with the person (e.g., your adolescent nephew). If you need help, reach out to someone who is close to your giftee, ask them to tell you about a “good time” they shared with him or her, and draw inspiration from that. Then, when you are in the midst of gift giving, remind your giftees about the shared memories that inspired your gift—because as a recent study suggests, sharing emotions with others is inherently pleasurable and they’re likely to like the gift even more. 2. Take their perspectiveAnother strategy is to deliberately perspective-take—that is, to put yourself in the shoes of your giftees and see the world through their eyes. Before buying anything, take a few moments to jot down what you know the person on your list likes, what they like to do, and what they are good at doing. What’s their favorite color? How do they spend their free time? Now, channeling their likes and skills, what would you be interested in doing, doing more of, or learning to do—if you were them? A blossoming baker? Cooling rack. A weekend adventurer? A headlamp. Beginner at tennis? Tennis balls. You may need to consult some experts if they’re into something you know little about. Again, the important thing is to stay in their shoes—and resist the urge to get them something you think they should like or be interested in. 3. Focus on experiences, not thingsResearch from Tom Gilovich at Cornell shows that people experience greater long-term satisfaction from investing in experiences than from accumulating material possessions. People remember and treasure experiences more readily than things, and feel better about having spent on experiences than on things over the long term. Newer studies suggest that people feel more grateful for experiences than things. The way our minds and memories work, we adapt to things, but build rich narratives around experiences that in part, define the very fabric of who we are. This doesn’t mean you should limit your gifts to hand scrawled IOUs for hot air balloon rides (though that sounds pretty fun). But as you empathize and perspective-take for gift ideas, add the experiential opportunities that your gift could provide to the equation. To sweeten the deal, think of a gift experience that you can share with your giftee!        4. When exchanging gifts, be mindful!What happens if your gift fails to please? This can be heartbreaking, especially if you invested a lot of emotional energy or money in the gift. You may also find yourself disappointed in gifts to you! The solution is the same in both cases: mindfulness. During gift exchanges, try to dedicate some attention to staying positive, appreciative and “in the moment.” Positive emotional experiences are the intended goal of the gift exchanging, particularly pro-social states like affection and gratitude. Pro-social states have a track record of health benefits in the body and mind—and lead to behaviors that strengthen social capital like trust and cooperation. Though reflexive and sometimes unavoidable, negative states like disappointment, obligation, and jealousy are not particularly useful during gift exchanges. Better to notice them coming on, decide to let them go— and then consciously turn toward emotions that will help bind you back together. Being “in the moment,” enables you to deliberately savor the experience at hand and connect with the person that has given you a gift, or received a gift from you. 5. Avoid perfectionismToo often, we adopt a perfectionist mindset—that is, insurmountable expectations about how gifts (given or received) should feel. This might stem from our most primal childhood memories of discovering that coveted toy under semi-torn wrapping! But trying to recapture that perfect childhood moment can drive dissatisfaction in adulthood. Gift exchanges can feel competitive, with stifling pressure to give the perfect, most impressive gift even among friends and family. Barry Schwartz’s research on maximizing vs. satisficing shows that people who are good at “satisficing”—that is, making the best of things, and thus enjoy greater happiness and resilience. So when getting gifts, try to apply a self-compassionate lens to soften perfectionist expectations. Don’t worry about whether your gift is perfect. Scientific research shows that self-compassion improves personal well-being and social functioning—and that people who are more relaxed and content are more well-liked by others.  In short, the surest path to a happy holiday is to focus on relationships and experiences—not the gifts!
Want to distract someone? An emotional face might work The sudden appearance of a face within our visual field can affect the motor action accompanying a gesture even if the face is totally unrelated to what we are doing and even if we try to ignore it. With one condition, though: the face must display strong emotion.
No Motivation Since I had a slight med change, I’ve been having a hard time getting up and gaining any motivation takes a long time. I know within time I’ll get used to it, but I also know there’s some things I can do to help myself out. If you have a...
Suicide: More Common During The Christmas Holiday Fact or Medication Bottles: Paxil: Hugging, partying, having fun Medication Bottle Latuda: I HATE the Holidays! Caption: Doomsday Preppers Survival kit for the Holidays Suicide Holiday|Suicide Ideation|Suicidal thoughts |Suicide Genes Whether or not suicide is more common during the Christmas holiday is Fact or Myth...one thing WE ALL MUST NOT LOSE FOCUS ON...
Are You Being Too Assertive? Not Enough? Many people want to be more assertive in the workplace. Being assertive can help you voice your opinions to your coworkers, help you negotiate that promotion and pay raise, and also has a number of health benefits.
Top 10 Anxiety Blogs of 2014 It is natural to feel anxious in certain situations. We’ve probably all felt nervous before an exam and experienced the accompanying physical sensations: lying awake the night before, sweaty palms, racing heart. For some people, though, anxiety affects and interferes with their daily life. Anxiety disorders take several forms, from...
12 Things That ADHD Is To Me Just what is ADHD? I know, there’s a clinical definition. But writing it out here would likely take up the whole post. There’s examples of development shortfalls and effects that must persist, and situations that produce certain overwhelming feelings and … well, it does go on. But maybe there’s a...
Can We Train the Mind to Increase Wellbeing? Wellbeing is not dependent on health. Wellbeing refers to healthy, sustainable personality characteristics that are associated with health, happiness, and flourishing. However, health is not a prerequisite for wellbeing, nor are external circumstances. Live like those who exhibit a high level of wellbeing. This article describes evidence-based practices that can...
Commonly prescribed painkiller not effective in controlling lower back pain A new study out today in the journal Neurology shows that pregabalin is not effective in controlling the pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis, the most common type of chronic lower back pain in older adults. “Chronic low back pain is one of the most common reasons why older adults go to the doctor and [...]The post Commonly prescribed painkiller not effective in controlling lower back pain appeared first on PsyPost.
Birdsong study reveals how brain uses timing during motor activity Timing is key for brain cells controlling a complex motor activity like the singing of a bird, finds a new study published by PLOS Biology. “You can learn much more about what a bird is singing by looking at the timing of neurons firing in its brain than by looking at the rate that they [...]The post Birdsong study reveals how brain uses timing during motor activity appeared first on PsyPost.
Paying attention makes touch-sensing brain cells fire rapidly and in sync Whether we’re paying attention to something we see can be discerned by monitoring the firings of specific groups of brain cells. Now, new work from Johns Hopkins shows that the same holds true for the sense of touch. The study brings researchers closer to understanding how animals’ thoughts and feelings affect their perception of external [...]The post Paying attention makes touch-sensing brain cells fire rapidly and in sync appeared first on PsyPost.
Unearthing secrets of new neurons Heather Frank, then a senior majoring in neuroscience at Colgate University, explains studies on neurogenesis that she worked on during an internship in the NIMH Unit on Neuroplasticity.The post Unearthing secrets of new neurons appeared first on PsyPost.
New SNAP-tagging technique provides unprecedentedly detailed images of mouse neurons Scientists can now explore nerves in mice in much greater detail than ever before, thanks to an approach developed by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, Italy. The work, published online today in Nature Methods, enables researchers to easily use artificial tags, broadening the range of what they can study and [...]The post New SNAP-tagging technique provides unprecedentedly detailed images of mouse neurons appeared first on PsyPost.
How to overcome trauma after wars In the current issue of P&P a group of German investigators report on a psychological treatment applied in the setting of post war trauma. Dissemination of psychotherapeutic modules to local counselors seems a key requirement for coping with mental health disasters in conflict regions. The authors tested a train-the-trainer (TTT) dissemination model for the treatment [...]The post How to overcome trauma after wars appeared first on PsyPost.
Biological predictors may predict who is going to respond to psychotherapy In the current issue of P&P a new study identifies biological characteristics who may predict who is going to respond to psychotherapy. Psychodynamic psychotherapy has been used to treat depression for more than a century. However, not all patients respond equally well, and there are few reliable predictors of treatment outcome. The authors used resting [...]The post Biological predictors may predict who is going to respond to psychotherapy appeared first on PsyPost.
Is perfectionism the problem behind chronic fatigue? In the current issue of P&P a report outlines the role of perfectionism in chronic fatigue and in other medical disturbances such as irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia. Biopsychosocial models of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) posit that personality and stress have predisposing and perpetuating roles in the persistent and unexplained fatigue that characterizes this functional [...]The post Is perfectionism the problem behind chronic fatigue? appeared first on PsyPost.
My Second Hospitalization in a Psych Ward It was nearly 5 years ago that I slit my wrist with a kitchen knife upstairs in my dad’s home office. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking as this is one of those times when my bipolar brain took over. I don’t remember making a plan. I don’t...