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6 Tips for Using Journaling as a Path to Healing There’s a body of research, including that of James Pennebaker, that shows the writing can be used as a powerful tool for healing with certain caveats. Writing permits us to … ...
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Today I Love These Soaring Temperatures Today I love these soaring temperatures. I love that they bring back memories of ditching school and cruising the town with the windows down and the radio blaring … but … ...
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Problematic Use of the Internet and Social Media CCPR: Dr. Moreno, please tell us a little about your background. Dr. Moreno: I am a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist. My primary areas of research are social media and problematic internet use. CCPR: What exactly is Internet addiction and where did the idea of … ...
Best of Our Blogs: March 8, 2016 These days there are subscription based services for everything from healthy snacks to yoga gear. Opening a box full of surprise gifts every week or month curated just for you can feel a lot like Christmas. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a mental health … ...
Four Awe-Inspiring Activities When was the last time something filled you with awe? While young children seem to be wonderstruck on a regular basis, this experience tends to be rare in adults; our attention is by necessity more focused on day-to-day responsibilities and mundane tasks. But awe is just as important for adults, according to a new and rapidly growing field of research. Researchers define awe as the feeling we get in the presence of something larger than ourselves that challenges our usual way of seeing the world. A great work of art, a breathtaking vista, a moving speech, the first flowers of spring—these can all evoke awe. Central to the experience of awe is a sense of smallness, but not the kind associated with shame or self-doubt—rather, awe involves feeling interconnected with others and broadening our horizons, like a camera lens zooming out to reveal a more complex and inclusive picture. From this vantage point, everyday concerns tend to feel less overwhelming—as we get smaller, so do they. Research suggests that awe has numerous psychological benefits, including increased life satisfaction, a sense of time slowing down or standing still, and a greater desire to help others. It may also have health benefits: A recent study found that people who experienced awe more frequently in their daily lives showed lower tissue levels of interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine associated with heart disease risk. Remarkably, awe predicted lower levels of interleukin-6 than other positive emotions, including joy, contentment, and amusement. Awe may help people cope better with stress by promoting curiosity and exploration, rather than withdrawal and isolation. It’s not necessary—or desirable—to feel awe all the time, but most of us could use a little more of it in our lives. Researchers have identified several effective strategies for increasing awe, many of which are collected on the Greater Good Science Center website Greater Good in Action (GGIA), which features the top research-based activities for fostering happiness, kindness, connection, and resilience. Here, I highlight GGIA’s four core awe practices. 1. Write about a personal experience of awe What experiences in your life have most filled you with a sense of wonder and inspiration? A hike through the Grand Canyon? A visit to the pyramids of Egypt? Your child’s first steps? The simple act of writing about awe can be very powerful. The Awe Narrative practice involves reflecting on a personal experience of awe and then writing about it in as much detail as possible. Recalling the experience in vivid detail can conjure up the feelings you had at the time. A 2012 study led by Melanie Rudd, assistant professor at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, found that people who completed this writing exercise felt even better than people who recalled and wrote about a happy experience. Afterward, they reported stronger feelings of awe, less sense of time pressure, and greater willingness to volunteer their time to help a charity. This practice may be especially useful when the daily grind is weighing you down. Even just a brief reminder of an awe-inducing experience from your past may help lift you out of the doldrums and remind you that the world can be a magical place. 2. Take an Awe Walk Flickr / Chris Chabot / CC BY-NC 2.0 Travel can be a great source of awe, but awe can also be found closer to home. The Awe Walk practice involves taking a stroll somewhere that has the potential to inspire awe. This could be a natural setting, like a tree-lined trail; an urban setting, like the top of a skyscraper; or an indoor setting, like a museum. Whether you feel awe on your Awe Walk depends not just on where you go, but on your attitude. One way to create more opportunities for awe is to approach your surroundings with fresh eyes, as if you’re seeing them for the first time. Otherwise ordinary features—a bird singing, the color of the sky—may be transformed into something more extraordinary. Your walk will also be enhanced if you leave your cell phone (and other potential distractions) at home so that you can be fully present, and if you seek out novel environments, where the sights and sounds are unexpected. But it’s also possible to integrate an Awe Walk into your daily routine—even if a route is familiar to you, you can make an effort to notice new things. The same old sights you pass every day may turn out to be surprising sources of inspiration. As a case in point, Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, got the idea for the bestselling novel during her morning commute, as she gazed curiously out the train window. Indirect evidence for the effectiveness of the Awe Walk comes from a 2015 study led by Paul Piff, then a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. In this study, one group of participants stood in a grove of towering eucalyptus trees and gazed up for just one minute, while another looked at a building instead. Those who looked up at the trees reported greater feelings of awe, were less likely to feel superior to others, and were more likely to help someone in need, supporting the idea that awe fosters a sense of humility and concern for others. 3. Watch an awe-inducing video Yosemite National Park Even if you’re stuck at home, awe can be found on your computer screen—the Internet provides an endless supply of goosebump-inducing images and videos. One of these videos is featured in the Awe Video practice—a reel of majestic shots from Yosemite National Park. National Geographic is another good source of awe-eliciting media, and YouTube hosts countless recordings of riveting speeches and performances. You could also draw from your own photo or video collection, if you’ve visited awe-inspiring locations, or make a point to capture your next adventure on film (provided that this doesn’t interfere with the experience itself). Research suggests that the Awe Video practice is an effective way to boost awe in the moment. In a second 2012 study led by Melanie Rudd, participants watched a brief video displaying people in city streets and parks interacting with vast, mentally overwhelming images of waterfalls, whales, and astronauts. Compared to participants who watched a video designed to induce happiness, they reported greater feelings of awe and a sense of having more time. 4. Read an awe-inspiring story Written words can also evoke awe. The Awe Story practice involves reading a detailed story about climbing up the Eiffel Tower and taking in the panoramic view. The story is told in the second person to make readers feel like they’re experiencing it themselves. Awe-inspiring writing can also be found in literature and nonfiction, such as Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, and in your own writing (a reason to consider recording your experiences of awe as they occur, so that you can reflect back on them when you’re in need of an awe boost). A third 2012 study led by Melanie Rudd illustrates some possible benefits of reading about awe. In this study, participants read either the Eiffel Tower story or a story about climbing an unnamed tower and seeing a plain landscape from above. Those who read the Eiffel Tower story reported greater awe, a greater preference for experiences over material objects, a sense of having more time, and greater life satisfaction (compared to those who read the neutral story). That sense of having more time was what made people more satisfied with their lives. Life can sometimes feel lackluster and dull, and inspiration can be hard to find. On those days, even a small dose of awe can go a long way in elevating your spirits and reviving your sense of purpose. Awe isn’t always a comforting feeling—sometimes it can be downright frightening—but it’s a powerful way to cut through the monotony and see things in a new light. We hope that the awe exercises on Greater Good in Action will be a useful starting point as you aspire to make your life more “awesome.”
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder is Changing. There are some people that are able to manage bipolar disorder without medication, though not many. Bipolar disorder can be debilitating, and remaining at a functioning level is difficult, even … ...
Your Ideal Partner’s Height According to Dr Pawlowski According to Polish anthropologist Dr Pawlowski, having a "correct" height ratio between a man and a woman is the key to relationship success.
An Active Social Life Associated With Well-Being in Life Social participation and social goals — even in the face of health decrements — may ease well-being decline late in life, study says
Selective Attention Limits Your Ability to See Others Our experience of the world and the signals we allow into conscious awareness can easily be limited by past experience and even by a simple, in the moment, switch in focus.
How To Handle Other People's Bad Phone Habits What do you do when someone insists on using their phone at the wrong time? Do you sit idly by or do you call out the offender?
The brain’s gardeners: Immune cells ‘prune’ connections between neurons A new study out today in the journal Nature Communications shows that cells normally associated with protecting the brain from infection and injury also play an important role in rewiring the connections between nerve cells. While this discovery sheds new light on the mechanics of neuroplasticity, it could also help explain diseases like autism spectrum [...]
Overconfidence linked to one’s view of intelligence Washington State University researcher Joyce Ehrlinger has found that a person’s tendency to be overconfident increases if he or she thinks intelligence is fixed and unchangeable. Such people tend to maintain their overconfidence by concentrating on the easy parts of tasks while spending as little time as possible on the hard parts of tasks, said [...]
New mothers with postpartum psychiatric disorders face increased risk of suicide Over a period spanning four decades, a total of eight Danish women committed suicide within a year of being diagnosed with a birth-related psychiatric disorder, including severe episodes of postpartum depression or psychosis. Despite the modest number, statistical evidence of a causal link between postpartum disorder and suicide is extremely strong, highlighting the need for [...]
Alzheimer’s more versatile than previously known Accumulation of the substance amyloid beta in the brain impairs the memory and cognitive ability in people with Alzheimer’s. New findings from Lund University in Sweden show that the cause of amyloid beta pathology might be more versatile than previously known. Researchers believe that these new findings may be of significance to the development of [...]
Life Goes On I broke up with my boyfriend. He had a temper and I would not tolerate being called names, etc. It was hard. I care about him deeply. I worry about … ...
Combining 2 techniques to ‘rewire’ the brain may improve movement for stroke survivors Used in combination, two innovative rehabilitation approaches can promote better long-term recovery of arm and hand movement function in stroke survivors, suggests a paper in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, the official journal of the Association of Academic Physiatrists. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer. Adding peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) to “constraint-based” [...]