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What is Consciousness? What is Its Purpose?

Video Source: | AtheneWins

What makes up our consciousness? Are the things we think to see and do of our own mind or in an illusion? Can we figure out the purpose of the brain, mind, and consciousness?

All these questions and more are answered in this intriguing documentary that outlines research from tens of thousands of research in neuroscience. Take a look and imagine and learn more about consciousness and the brain.




Science Shows What You Think Will Make You Happy Probably Won’t

If you’re like most people, you probably think you know what makes you happy. Unfortunately, science says there’s a good chance you don’t.

When asked if they think they’d be happier winning the lottery or becoming paraplegic, most people quite understandably respond that they’d be happier with all that money and no handicap.

Still, real life statistics show that one year after winning the lottery or losing the use of their lower body, people in both these groups are equally happy. Yes, really, EQUALLY.

When estimating our happiness, we humans tend to engage in something called “impact bias” where we overestimate the actual effect that different outcomes will have on our life.

Dan Gilbert the speaker on this video and the author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” claims we humans are happiness synthesizing machines. This means we can create happiness out of any situation, so the actual things that happen in our life; the real outcomes we get, are not as important to our happiness as we think they are.

What is “synthetic happiness?” Gilbert says “real happiness” is what happens when we get what we want and synthetic happiness is what we create when we don’t get what we want.

It’s a great theory. I love it. But I’m not a fan of the name. What Gilbert is calling “synthetic happiness” is what I might call “soul growth” or “spiritual happiness”, because when we don’t get what we think we want, we are forced to grow from the inside out. We are pushed into a position where we need to evaluate our outcome and change our behaviors (or at least own that we don’t want to engage in the behaviors we believe will get us what we think we want). Out of this, we get a deeper sense of self and others and we course correct in ways that make us — well, happier.

Gilbert mentions the fact that our love grows when we consciously choose one thing over another. That’s conscious growth. Choosing to love, and to have that love deepen. It’s the opposite of waiting for some passing emotion to come and grab us. It’s the cultivation of love and appreciation.

From my experience as a yoga teacher and life coach, the biggest gifts of our lives come from the times when we don’t get what we want. A disappointing experience forces us to re-evaluate and to evolve. And perhaps, that’s the reason we’re really here — to grow — and to serve others out of our own growth. Oh, and of course, to find a deep happiness (even a sense of fulfillment) from our growth and service.

Watch the enlightening and entertaining Ted Talk by Dan Gilbert above and learn about how you pursue happiness both consciously or unconsciously. It just may make you grow a little bit.

vicki howieVicki Howie is the Creator of Chakra Boosters Healing Tattoos™ (find out what inspired her to create them here). Check out her new book “The Key to Your Chakras” here on amazon.com. Vicki is also the Creator of Chakra Love and the Chakra Life Cycle System®, as well as the Co-Editor of Conscious Life News. You can visit her website chakraboosters.comfacebook page and youtube channel for lots of free chakra info and gifts. Vicki’s biggest joy is to help you unleash your full chakra power and step into your highest potential.




How You Can Enjoy Being Alone With Your Thoughts

Be optimistic. Think happy thoughts. Lots of happiness advice makes it sound as if we could flip a switch and fill our heads with puppies and rainbows—and wouldn’t that be great?

But it turns out that positive thinking isn’t so easy. In an infamous 2014 study where people had 15 minutes to mentally entertain themselves, about 40 percent chose to help pass the time by—no, not meditating—receiving an electric shock.

In fact, a recent study found that only 13 percent of people’s thoughts are positive and inner-directed, and they enjoy those thoughts more when they arise spontaneously. (In other words, they prefer those happy thoughts come naturally rather than putting in the effort to “think positive.”)

Could this process be easier and more enjoyable? It’s not an idle question: According to the researchers behind the new study, if people were better able to generate pleasant thoughts, they might rely less on technology for constant stimulation. It could help those who have trouble falling asleep, or who start pounding the steering wheel in traffic.

The researchers didn’t find a magic switch. But they did discover a simple trick.

Across four studies, more than 250 college undergraduates and 800 online participants started by listing eight topics they’d enjoy thinking about, including memories, fantasies, and things they were looking forward to. People wrote down everything from their wedding day to Valentine’s Day, their family or the summer, eating decadent cake, or living in the World of Warcraft universe.

Next, participants (alone in a room) were instructed to entertain themselves for four to six minutes with thoughts about the topics they had listed. “Your goal should be to have a pleasant experience, as opposed to spending the time focusing on everyday activities or negative things,” the researchers advised.

That was it, except for one small difference: Half of the participants had access to their list of topics, either written on notecards or displayed on a computer screen one by one. The other half didn’t.

Afterward, participants rated how pleasant the activity was (how enjoyable, entertaining, and boring) and how cognitively difficult it was (how hard it was to concentrate, how much their mind wandered, and how much time they devoted to irrelevant topics).

Ultimately, the researchers found that the group who could look at their list of topics found the experience more pleasant and less cognitively demanding. All the participants had made lists in the first part of the experiment, but having access to that “thinking aid” was key.

“Often when we have a few free minutes, we reach for our cell phones to entertain us,” says Erin C. Westgate of the University of Virginia. “But with a little planning ahead of time, we might be able to use our own minds instead.”

She and her co-authors (including Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University) speculate that the list might have made it easier for people to concentrate; to remember their go-to, happiness-boosting topics; or to decide which one to think about when.

After reading this study, I’m tempted to put up some kind of poster in my apartment and fill it with images of loved ones, Paris, swing dancing, and cats. Those are certainly better than an electric shock!

About the Author

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Kira M. Newman is the managing editor of Greater Good. She is also the creator of The Year of Happy, a year-long course in the science of happiness, and CaféHappy, a Toronto-based meetup. Follow her on Twitter!




Neuropsychiatrist Discovers Telepathic Abilities In Autistic Children And Films It On Camera

By Arjun Walia | Collective Evolution

What we label as autism covers a vast spectrum. One autistic child may be able to communicate perfectly and perform normal daily life tasks, while others can barely move, and still, others can’t communicate at all. You also have children under this label known as autistic “savants” who show extraordinary abilities.  This is why it’s more commonly referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Some savants are able to perform extreme mathematical calculations in their head, similar to a calculator or computer, and others have remarkable artistic ability spanning across a variety of subjects. The list of abilities seen in savants is long, and one ability that could one day be added to that list is telepathy.

Unfortunately, it’s commonly believed that autistic children who lack movement and communication are ‘not there.’ Yet some evidence suggests they are not only aware but have greater mental abilities than the average person. The communication barrier may be preventing them from sharing that with us, but perhaps we’ve been missing something?

Although often ridiculed, many scientists have been studying and publishing papers on human telepathy for decades, making some unbelievable observations with statistically significant results. In fact, in 1999 a statistics professor at UC Irvine published a paper showing that parapsychological experiments have produced much stronger results than those showing a daily dose of aspirin helps prevent a heart attack.

Some more examples will be provided later in the article, but for now, if you’d like to see a selected list of downloadable peer-reviewed journal articles reporting studies of psychic phenomena, mostly published in the 21st century, you can click here.

Telepathy is one ability included in the parapsychology group. Others include remote viewingnear-death experiences (NDEs), and out of body experiences (OBEs).

Evidence For Telepathy Among Some Nonverbal Autistic Children 

Diane Powell, M.D, is an author, public speaker, researcher, and practicing neuropsychiatrist. Her education is extensive, and she’s worked with some of the best minds of the century, including several Nobel laureates. She studied biophysics and neuroscience during her undergraduate years,  has worked in neurochemistry, and attended John Hopkins School of Medicine. She co-published research on the genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease with Marshal Folstein and did neuroscience research in Joseph Coyle’s laboratory. After receiving her medical degree in 1983, she stayed at Johns Hopkins to complete postdoctoral training in medicine, neurology, and psychiatry. In July 1987, Dr. Powell joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School, where she taught neuropsychiatry and gained experience in cross-cultural psychiatry and mind-body medicine. She moved in July 1989 to engage in molecular biology research at the University of California at San Diego during the Human Genome Project.

She has always been interested in human consciousness, particularly in the special abilities these gifted children have and how they are helping to grow our understanding of the mysteries of consciousness.

In January 1987 she trained for six months at The Institute of Psychiatry in London, England with Sir Michael Rutter, who was knighted for his work on autism.

This is a short summary of an impressive and lengthy CV, but it’s important to show that the list of credible researchers in this field long and growing. “Extended human capacities,” as the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) defines them, and parapsychology, are serious subjects.

Dr. Powell’s work with non-verbal autistic children has shown strong evidence for telepathic abilities. The video below is one example of a test she conducted with multiple nonverbal autistic children. This particular child achieved a 100 percent hit rate, and in total average, the children achieved a group hit rate of 90 percent.

Powell explains in the video that she wants to further study these children: “I want to go back and I want to film Haley under ideal scientific conditions. There are also several other children across the globe who demonstrate a similar phenomenon. I want  to go and document them as well.”

Deepak Chopra was also present and witnessed what was going on here, as mentioned in this interview Chopra and Powell did together.

More Evidence of Telepathy

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

– Nikola Tesla

In the mid-1960s, Montague Ullman, MD, began a number of experiments at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York to test the hypothesis that people could be primed to dream about randomly selected material. In other words, they could choose what they wanted to dream about before going to sleep, and this could include anything, from artwork to movies to photographs and more. Shortly after these experiments began, Ullman was joined by Stanley Krippner, who holds an impressive background in the scientific study of dreams, psychology, and parapsychology. The experiments they conducted spanned more than 10 years, During the experiments, there was usually a “telepathic sender” and a “telepathic receiver.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE…




How to Know if You’ve Married the Wrong Person

By Christine Carter | Greater Good Magazine

When my first marriage failed, I wanted desperately to fall in love and start again. I wanted to show my princess-obsessed little girls that lasting love was possible; that their romantic dreams could come true. That my romantic dreams could come true.

When I met Mark, the man who is now my second husband, I was optimistic. He met my propensity for anxiety with a proclivity for deep calm. He told me that he wanted to dedicate the second half of his life to romance. I was sold. Even better, no one was a bigger champion of me (or my work) than him. In that first year together, he gushed over me in a way that only my grandmother had done before. It felt great.

Four years after we met, we married. It was something I had to talk Mark into; going through a divorce is hard, and neither of us was eager to go through that again. But I think I had a deeper agenda, one I couldn’t see then. I think I wanted to marry Mark in part because I didn’t want to raise my kids alone. It was so much more fun to have an adult to talk to at night. I also married Mark—again, unconsciously—in an attempt to preserve those feelings of being adored which are the hallmark of the early stage of almost every relationship. Nothing could be more romantic than a wedding and a honeymoon; nothing, in theory, could make our relationship more permanent than marriage.

This is obviously faulty logic. There was, of course, no actual connection between the feelings I wanted to resurrect and the institution of marriage. Indeed, as Alain de Botton has so wisely written, we attempt to use marriage to “make nice feelings permanent.” He continues:

Marriage tends decisively to move us onto another, very different and more administrative plane, which perhaps unfolds in a suburban house, with a long commute and maddening children who kill the passion from which they emerged. The only ingredient in common is the partner. And that might have been the wrong ingredient to bottle.

Marriage did move us onto a decisively different plane, complete with a move to the suburbs and the ensuing long commute. Three of our teenagers decided to live full-time with us (the fourth goes to boarding school). This was a departure from the week-on, week-off custody arrangements we were used to. Mark and I lost all the alone-time we had as a couple, but our family life blossomed. I thrived in a house full of teenagers.

Without the time to ourselves, we were used to—and with some significant family stressors hammering away at us—Mark and I started operating a little more like middle-aged business partners than twenty-somethings in love. It became unclear to me how people with teenagers underfoot could ever have sex without the constant (and libido-killing) threat of interruption. An unending family feud about how to load our new dishwasher developed.

Recently, in the midst of the still-ongoing dishwasher feud, dozens of text messages deep into an argument about why it is idiotic/wasteful to rinse dishes before loading them into the dishwasher, I realized: Once again, I have married the wrong person.

Or had I?

Stop the world

I know I’m not alone with my questions.

Do you, too, sometimes have a sinking feeling that you did not marry “the one”? Perhaps you have married a person with whom the sex is not always frequent, passionate, and surprising. Perhaps your spouse’s blind adoration seems to be fading? Do the two of you sometimes feel contempt or defensiveness in the face of each other’s “helpful” feedback? If that sounds familiar, you have likely married the wrong person.

That’s okay. Here’s what I didn’t understand until recently: We all marry the wrong person. Or, rather, we marry people for reasons that don’t really pan out over the long haul.

According to the brilliant de Botton, we mustn’t abandon our flawed spouses simply because our marriages aren’t living up to childhood daydreams. Instead, we need to jettison “the Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.”

It’s no small feat for me to let go of this cultural ideal. For many decades, it has housed my most cherished hopes and dreams. In middle school, I started fantasizing about having a man to “stop the world and melt with,” thanks to Modern English, and despite no lasting evidence that such a person existed, I have never really stopped awaiting his arrival.

It’s not that I haven’t been in love: I have. I am in love with my husband now. But every time I wish he was different—every time I wish he would do, say, or be something that he isn’t—it’s as though I’m expecting him to be someone else. It’s as though Prince Charming could be just around the bend, if only…

It’s this gap between expectation and reality that generates all of life’s disappointments. We human beings have a wonderful capacity to create rich fantasies. But when we expect our reality to match fantasy and life doesn’t deliver what we imagined it would, it’s hard to feel anything other than cheated.

The truth is not very appealing: There is no prince in shining armor coming to save me from my loneliness and anxiety, to rescue me from my feelings of inadequacy. It begs hard questions: Can I consistently feel grateful for what I do have, rather than disappointed in what I don’t? Can I let go of my attachment to a cultural idea that is, quite literally, a fairy tale?

In truth, I don’t really want to let go of my romantic fantasies. I like them. They are like the promise of an amazing meal or an unforgettable vacation. And every once in a while, I do, in fact, get one of those things.

Choosing imperfection

As if he knew that I’ve been thinking about all this, the other day in the car Mark asked me if I’d marry him again, knowing what I know now. Actually, he didn’t ask so much as he asserted, with good humor, that he knew I wouldn’t marry him again.

“You’d marry someone more spiritual,” he declared. “And more emotionally expressive. Someone younger.”

“I would choose you,” I insisted, and not just because I don’t like to be told what I do and don’t like.

In my heart I knew it was true: I would marry him again and again, even now that I know that marriage is not necessarily easier or more pleasant than being alone, even accepting that marriage does not have any power to transport us back into a state of romantic bliss.

I know now that no actual human being can ever measure up to the romantic fantasy of a soulmate. Mark might be imperfect (and imperfect-for-me), but I am also highly imperfect and, as such, imperfect for him. It’s such a fair match.

It’s clear that all along I’ve been asking the wrong question. “Are you the right person for me?” leads only to stress and judgment and suffering.

Determining the rightness of a match between ourselves and another is a fundamentally flawed enterprise, because nothing outside of ourselves—nothing we can buy, achieve, and certainly no other person—can fix our brokenness, can bring us the lasting joy that we crave.

A more empowering—and more deeply romantic—the question is: Am I the right person for you?

A more constructive (and potentially satisfying) proposition is to ask: Can I accommodate your imperfections with humor and grace?

Can I tolerate your inability to read my mind and make everything all better?

Can I negotiate our disagreements with love and intelligence? Without losing myself to fear and emotion?

Am I willing to do the introspective work required of marriage? Can I muster the self-awareness needed to keep from driving you away?

Do I think I am brave enough to continue loving you, despite your flaws, and, more importantly, despite mine?

I do.

About the Author
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Christine Carter

Christine Carter, Ph.D. is a Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center. She is the author of The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less (Ballantine Books, 2015) and Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents (Random House, 2010). A former director of the GGSC, she served for many years as an author of its parenting blog, Raising Happiness.

Read more great articles at Greater Good Magazine.




Boosting Your Brain Function with Dr. Lana Morrow, Neuroscientist and Inventor

Source: Regina Meredith

In this fascinating video, Regina Meredith interviews Dr. Lana Morrow, who has dedicated her life and research as a functional medicine neuroscientist to finding new pathways to bring the brain into coherence.

As the inventor of her new dopamine boosting technology, THINK!, she has discovered how to boost our natural dopamine production, which is responsible for the speed at which our brain can operate, our focus levels and happiness itself. It’s all done through a tiny headband that reads your brainwaves as you play games on your computer – wirelessly! Learn more about Lana at infocusforum.com.




Angry People Are More Likely to Overestimate Intelligence, Study Finds

Source: Mercola.com

A study of 528 participants found that people who have a quick temper or score high on having a tendency to be angry, also tend to overestimate their intelligence and abilities. The illusory perception of themselves — which is associated with narcissistic illusions — was unrelated to their actual intelligence quotient, PsyPost reported. Researchers said that since this study looked only at dispositional tendencies, they hoped to study whether being temporarily angry also leads to biased perceptions of ability.

Negative emotions of any kind can blur perceptions of reality, whether it’s anger or pessimism or just feelings of depression or extreme grief. When it comes to anger, there actually is a biochemical cascade that occurs when you’re angry, called the fight-or-flight response. It’s a stress response that begins in your brain, eventually working itself into every cell of your body. As such, it can affect the way your body interprets these signals in such a way that you may even feel chest pains even though there’s nothing physically wrong with your heart.

And, yes, earlier studies have shown that all of this can affect your cognitive behavior, willpower, decision making, and judgment. It’s also been shown that short-fueled people live shorter lives, as frequent anger is associated with a heightened risk of high blood pressure and heart problems, including heart attack and stroke. Even an intense bout of anger has its risks.

Fortunately, there are scientifically proven ways to strengthen your prefrontal cortex and improve your self-control in emotion-triggered situations. One tried-and-true proven method of conditioning yourself to learn to feel more at ease with life’s everyday happenings and to improve your mental and emotional outlook is to make it a point to be more mindful — focusing on what you’re doing and the sensations you’re experiencing at the moment.




The Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life” in 2019

By Kira M. NewmanEmiliana R. Simon-ThomasJeremy Adam SmithJill SuttieSummer AllenSophie McMullenElizabeth HopperTom Jacobs | Greater Good Magazine 

What are the path to a happier life and a more compassionate society? We tend to prefer strategies that seem straightforward: To be healthier, we eat healthier; to fight apathy, we urge others to join us in getting involved.

But sometimes the way to individual and community well-being isn’t so direct. This year’s insights suggest just how circuitous it can be, illuminating how keys to well-being like gratitude, awe, and forgiveness can have surprising benefits—in seemingly unrelated areas of life—that we might not have expected. Change one thing in your life, and inevitably something else will shift.

These insights go to show how complex and interconnected our attitudes and behaviors are, within ourselves and our relationships. They also remind us that, sometimes, we just need to see it all as a journey, having a little patience as we work toward good things.

The final insights were selected by experts on our staff, after soliciting nominations from our network of more than 300 researchers. We hope they offer you some motivation and tools to keep pursuing a meaningful life for yourself and your community.

Happy people are more willing to tackle social problems

The quest for happiness has often been seen as self-absorbed. But new research published in The Journal of Positive Psychology disputes that narrative. It turns out that happier people may care more about contributing to important causes and have more energy for doing so.

In one experiment, researchers recruited the University of Virginia students after the violent Unite the Right rallies in 2017. After measuring the students’ happiness and level of concern about the rallies, the researchers offered them a chance to sign up for an on-campus group fighting racism. Those who reported being happier showed more concern about the rallies and were more willing to sign up to fight racism going forward.

“There’s a naïve belief out there that maybe we shouldn’t be focused on making people happier or increasing their well-being because they won’t be motivated to do anything,” says lead researcher Kostadin Kushlev. “But our findings suggest the opposite: Being happier links to more action, not less.”

To confirm this, Kushlev and colleagues studied more diverse participants in two other experiments. In one, participants chose their own social concern, such as climate change, and then reported on how active they’d been or planned to be in addressing it. In another, the researchers used surveys to compare how people in the U.S. rated their happiness, concern for the environment, and efforts to protect the environment—through past activity or potential future sacrifices, like a willingness to pay higher taxes.

In both cases, happier people were more likely than unhappier ones to have done something in the past and to intend to do something again in the future. In other words, they were more socially involved.

These findings counter the prevailing wisdom (and some science) that suggests negative emotions are what drive social action. Instead, being happy may give us the fuel we need to do good in the world.

In the long run, diversity wins

Is diversity too politically difficult and socially disruptive, as many argue? Does social trust and cohesion depend on ethnic and religious homogeneity?

New research provides some reason to think that humans may not be as averse to diversity as we think, at least not over time. A team of researchers used 22 years of data, drawn from over 100 countries, to look at how people react to growing religious diversity in their societies.

They found that, at first, diversity does indeed tend to cause problems—people report lower quality of life and less trust in neighbors, strangers, and institutions. “In the short run, when diversity suddenly increases very rapidly, there is a loss of trust,” says Douglas Massey, a Yale psychologist who co-authored the study. “People don’t know anything about new people in society. They haven’t had any experience with them, they haven’t had any contact with them.”

Over time, however, things start to shift in a positive direction. “We’re talking about ten, twelve years, maybe,” says Massey. “People come into contact with the newcomers and they come to appreciate them as human beings rather than a category of strangers.”

Massey stresses that while it appears that societies tend to accept diversity over time, that does not mean that the process simply happens on auto-pilot. The outcomes are heavily dependent on leadership. Leaders who frame outsiders as scary and act to isolate or exclude them are simply prolonging the short-term stresses of diversity while delaying the benefits, says Massey, citing classic intergroup contact theory.

What this research shows is that virtually every place on the planet comes to accept religious diversity over time—and, we might hope, other types of diversity, as well. In fact, this result echoes studies in psychology and neuroscience showing that people’s brains do gradually get used to diversity. “It tells a different kind of story than the one a lot of people are putting forward,” says Massey. The only question is how long it takes—and who will take on the work of making it happen.

Awe changes our brains for the better

When experiencing the emotion of awe, people often feel less focused on themselves and more connected to the greater world. But what makes awe so transporting and transcendent?

A recent study published in the journal Human Brain Mapping offered a peek into the captivating nature of awe by examining people’s brains while they were feeling it.

The University of Amsterdam’s Michiel van Elk and his colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of 32 people while they watched three different types of videos: awe-inspiring natural phenomena, funny animals, and neutral landscapes.

The researchers compared brain activity when participants were passively watching the clips—when their minds could wander—versus when they had a focused task to perform while watching (counting perspective changes in the clips).

For the funny and neutral videos, watching passively increased activity in regions of the default mode network (DMN)—a brain system that is particularly active when our minds wander or when we think about ourselves—compared to watching while counting perspective changes. However, watching the awe videos passively did not increase DMN activation as much.

This finding suggests that participants may have been extra engaged while watching the awe videos—even when they didn’t have a task to do—and thus their minds were less likely to wander and start thinking about themselves. Awe’s ability to dampen DMN activity may be key to giving us that sense of transcending our everyday problems and stress.

This study also found that counting perspective changes while watching the awe videos increased activity in areas of the frontoparietal network—a brain network thought to be involved in externally directed attention—more than the other types of videos. This finding may help explain how awe draws us out of our self-focus and engages us more with the external world.

What does this mean for you? If you feel a need to get out of your head, go take in that vista, concert, or whatever helps you find your awe—it just might help.

Treating yourself gets old fast—but giving to others doesn’t

One of the challenges we face in the pursuit of happiness is how quickly we adapt to the good things in life, something psychologists call hedonic adaptation. It’s why going to your favorite restaurant every day would be exciting at first, but would soon become routine—even boring—over time.

However, a study published in Psychological Science suggests that all activities are not created equal when it comes to hedonic adaptation. Compared to treating ourselves, doing something kind for others may give us more enduring satisfaction.

In the study, researchers Ed O’Brien and Samantha Kassirer gave 96 participants $25 to spend over the course of five days. About half of the participants were asked to spend the money on themselves, while the other half were told to spend it on someone else—buying whatever they wanted, as long as it was the exact same thing each day.

People who spent the money on themselves declined in happiness over the five days of the study—a result in line with hedonic adaptation. However, for participants who spent money on others, happiness remained high throughout the study.

In a second experiment, the researchers found a similar pattern: When participants repeatedly won an online game, the enjoyment they derived from winning decreased more slowly if they were told their winnings went to charity (compared to participants who were able to keep their winnings).

As the authors explain, “Happiness from giving appears to sustain itself.” We’re less likely to get used to it or take it for granted.

This makes sense in the context of our evolutionary history, were working cooperatively was crucial. O’Brien and Kassirer suggest that being repeatedly helpful and kind could have improved our ancestors’ reputations and their chances of survival. Fast forward to today, and we seem to get a wide range of benefits from helping others, from a greater sense of purpose and meaning to better physical health.

Of course, this research doesn’t imply that we should never treat ourselves—just that treating ourselves gets old faster. The optimal approach for well-being, simple and yet so complex, maybe to find the right mix of self-care and caring for others.

Practicing loving-kindness slows aging

Globally, anti-aging products are expected to rake in over $330 billion by 2021. But a recent study suggests a cheaper way to stave off senescence: a contemplative practice called loving-kindness meditation (LKM) that “aims to cultivate warm-hearted positive emotions toward oneself and others.”

A team led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill psychologist Barbara Fredrickson randomly assigned 142 midlife adults to participate in either a six-week LKM training or a mindfulness meditation (MM) training. There was also a group on a waiting list who served as the control. The researchers obtained blood samples from all participants prior to the pieces of training and again after the pieces of training ended—specifically to measure telomeres.

Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes inside every cell that protect it against daily wear and tear; over the lifespan, telomeres get progressively shorter. The shorter your telomeres get, the sooner your likelihood of dying. The good news, however, is that certain behaviors and lifestyle choices can either slow their shrinkage or even make them longer.

In this experiment, the researchers observed that telomeres shortened across all participants over the course of the training, which is a typical pattern of change over time. Further analysis suggested that while telomere length shortened in both the control and MM groups (less so in the MM group), it did not systematically shorten in the LKM group at all. Practicing loving-kindness meditation appeared to have slowed people’s aging just a bit.

The researchers note that there are limits to this study. The participants were interested in and willing to try meditation; it may not have the same impact on someone who isn’t. Telomere length variations could have been affected by events and circumstances unrelated to the pieces of training. Even so, these results contribute to the solid case that strengthening our kindness and social connection can fuel good mental and physical health and, yes, keep us youthful.

Your partner’s emotional health could affect your longevity

Romantic partners are interconnected—and research is starting to show just how deep this connection goes. According to two studies published this year, your spouse’s happiness could have an impact on your physical health.

Olga Stavrova of Tilburg University in the Netherlands analyzed data on over 4,300 couples to understand the relationship between a spouse’s life satisfaction at one point in time and their partner’s survival over the eight years that followed. Her findings were pretty remarkable. When a person’s partner was significantly happier, that person had a 13 percent lower chance of dying within the eight-year period. This was true regardless of the person’s age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or health when their partner’s happiness was measured.

As expected, a person’s own happiness was also tied to their mortality. But, based on her analyses, having a happy partner was, even more, protective—it may be what keeps us alive longer.

Hers isn’t the only study published this year to deal with how our spouses’ emotions affect our lifespan. An international team of researchers arrived at a similar insight by analyzing over 1,200 U.S. adults over the course of two decades. While they didn’t find any longevity benefits from day-to-day good feelings in a partner, they did find that a lot of negative feelings in a spouse seemed to shorten the other person’s life.

While these two studies are quite different, they both suggest that our physical health can be tied to our spouses’ emotional health. Why? Scientists don’t yet know. Perhaps a happier partner tends to exercise more, which encourages the other to exercise. Or maybe happier people eat better food. It could be that constantly confronting a partner’s negative emotions causes stress, which erodes physical health over time. It’s hard to know for sure. But these two studies suggest that if we want to live longer, we might want to focus on not just our own well-being, but that of our partner, too.

People who are more forgiving sleep better

If you have trouble falling asleep, you may have tried counting sheep or listening to a bedtime meditation. But according to one study, there’s another practice you could consider instead: forgiveness.

Researchers asked over 1,400 American adults to rate themselves on how likely they were to forgive themselves for the things they did wrong and forgive others for hurting them. The participants also answered survey questions about their sleep quality over the past month, their current health, and their satisfaction with life.

The results suggested that people who were more forgiving were more likely to sleep better and for longer, and in turn have better physical health. They were also more satisfied with life.

Forgiveness of self and others “may help individuals leave the past day’s regrets and offenses in the past and offer an important buffer between the events of the waking day and the onset and maintenance of sound sleep,” wrote the researchers, led by Luther College professor Loren Toussaint.

When we don’t forgive, we tend to linger on unpleasant thoughts and feelings, such as anger, blame, and regret. This can involve painful rumination—focused attention and repetitive thoughts about our distress. Ultimately, this study suggests, the resentment or bitterness we are harboring could be detracting from our sleep quality and our well-being.

While we know sleep is important for overall health, this study offers a new perspective on forgiveness as a key factor in achieving healthy sleep. It also helps explain the findings from two research reviews this year, which found that more forgiving people are healthier.

If you’re holding onto a grudge, forgiveness could be one constructive practice to try—whether in the name of better sleep, better health, or its many other benefits.

Kids who engage in the arts feel better about themselves

When children reach middle school, they tend to lose self-esteem and feel unworthy as they start to compare themselves more with others—and new technology isn’t helping. But parents and educators should take note: A new study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences suggests that participating in the arts might bolster kids’ self-esteem.

The researchers interviewed over 6,000 11-year-olds from the U.K. The kids reported on their self-esteem, as well as how often they listened to or played music; drew, painted, or made things; and read for enjoyment at home. They also noted whether their parents joined them in these hobbies.

“Children who participated in arts activities most days were significantly more likely to have higher levels of self-esteem than those who participated less often,” the researchers report. They determined this using a special statistical method: Children were each matched with another child with similar demographics—gender, ethnicity, and parental education and employment—so that the results could be attributed not to those factors, but to the difference in their creative pursuits.

For reading, as well as for music, this boost in self-esteem was limited to kids whose parents got involved with them at least once or twice a week. Kids who did more painting and drawing, however, felt better about themselves whether their parents were involved or not. Importantly, it didn’t matter whether kids were actually good at art or music.

The researchers suggest a few explanations for their findings. Creating art might make us feel unique and accomplished, encouraging us to pursue other goals, too. At the same time, it could also bond us together with others, like when we sing in a choir.

Other research has found that creative activities can improve learning—particularly among low-income youth—and boost cognitive development. At a time when arts funding is up for debate, it’s increasingly clear that some of the best tools we can provide our children may be paintbrushes and pianos.

Feeling grateful makes us more honest

Gratitude is the feeling of enjoying something good that has come from another person’s efforts, and research suggests that it leads to lower blood pressure, better coping, stronger relationships, and more. This year, Northeastern University social psychologist David DeSteno added another item to gratitude’s long list of benefits: honesty.

In an initial study, DeSteno’s team split participants into three different groups. In one group, a researcher secretly pretending to be a participant rescued participants from having to start over on a super-tedious computerized task that they had already finished. In the second and third groups, participants never had to worry about starting over. Indeed, when they were done with the boring task, they got to watch either a funny or a mundane film clip with the faux participant. Then the researchers surveyed all the real participants to see how they felt about the pretend participant—looking specifically for feelings of gratitude.

In the next step, the researchers led all the real participants into separate, private cubicles where a “randomizer button” would decide what they had to do next in the study: either a brief, fun task or a longer, more onerous one. The pretend participant would be assigned to whichever task the real participant did not do. In reality, the button was rigged to always land on the longer, more onerous task—but it was up to participants to report this result to researchers.

What happened? While some of the film clip watchers lied to save themselves from the onerous task, only one of the participants who felt grateful for being helped lied. Even if the clips made them happy, the film clip watchers were considerably more likely to cheat.

A second experiment used slightly different methods but obtained similar results: Participants who had been made to feel grateful were much more likely, to be honest about the results of a coin flip. In fact, the more grateful participants reported feeling, the less likely they were to cheat.

As DeSteno writes, “Gratitude stands as a promising candidate for an honesty ‘nudge’ of sorts.”

Seeing goals as a journey makes you more likely to stick to them

The path to well-being is often paved with goals. Some of those goals have clear finish lines—lose 10 pounds; make a new friend. But finish lines also feel like endings. Once we pass them, we might be less motivated to keep up the habits that got us there in the first place, so we end up regressing.

A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found a way to keep people engaged in their goals even after the pride of triumph had worn off. Across six different experiments, Szu-Chi Huang and Jennifer Aaker from the Stanford Graduate School of Business studied over 1,600 people with a variety of aspirations, from restricting their calories to walking more steps to graduating from school. Many of the participants were U.S. college students and staff; others were business people in Ghana.

After everyone completed their goals, the researchers divided them into three groups. One group was asked to reflect on their experience as a journey, a second group thought about their goal as reaching a destination, and a third didn’t hear these metaphors at all. All the participants then journaled about their goal or talked about it with an interviewer.

Ultimately, the researchers found that thinking about goals as a journey can help us maintain good habits even after we’ve reached our target. The journey groups were more likely to take immediate action to stay on track, like signing up for an exercise program or doing reading that would further their education. When the researchers checked in with them days or months later, they had stuck with their habits better than the other two groups.

Additional analyses found that the journey metaphor gave people a greater sense of personal growth, a feeling of changing and learning over the course of the experience. It was that feeling, in turn, that explained why they stuck to their new habits. Lots of research suggests how we can achieve our goals, like setting up the right environment. This new study offers advice for a time when we may not realize we need it: after we succeed.

About the Authors
{author}

Kira M. Newman

Kira M. Newman is the managing editor of Greater GoodFollow her on Twitter!

{author}

Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas

Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., is the science director of the Greater Good Science Center.

Jeremy Adam Smith

UC Berkeley

Jeremy Adam Smith edits the GGSC’s online magazine, Greater Good. He is also the author or co-editor of four books, including The Daddy ShiftAre We Born Racist?, and The Compassionate Instinct. Before joining the GGSC, Jeremy was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. You can follow him on Twitter!

{author}

Jill Suttie

Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine.

{author}

Summer Allen

Summer Allen, Ph.D., is a Research/Writing Fellow with the Greater Good Science Center. A graduate of Carleton College and Brown University, Summer now writes for a variety of publications including weekly blog posts for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is also very active on twitter: follow her, or just reach out and say hello!

{author}

Sophie McMullen

Sophie McMullen is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying Psychology with a double minor in Spanish and Public Policy. She is a research and editorial assistant for Greater Good magazine.

{author}

Elizabeth Hopper

Elizabeth Hopper, Ph.D., received her Ph.D. in psychology from UC Santa Barbara and currently works as a freelance science writer specializing in psychology and mental health.

{author}

Tom Jacobs

Tom Jacobs is a staff writer for Pacific Standard magazine. Through interviews, reviews, and essays, he has tracked and analyzed trends in the arts and sciences, with an emphasis on psychology, the role of culture, and the cultivation of creativity. A native of Chicago, Jacobs earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University.

Read more great articles at Greater Good Magazine




How to Improve Your Ability to Learn and Memorize Stuff

It comes as natural feeling that we all want to learn staff with ease, the good news is with a little afford it is possible to sharpen your memory the way you will learn easier than before. Although, it takes practice and developing the ability to control your emotions.

According to Leon, Founder & Editor at Novodus talks about official studies done on memory, he explains “life itself as it comes is the best tutor/mentor. You just need to want to open up to new and unknown with no fear and indolence”.

Yes, learning is emotional because it is evoking in you the idea that learning is difficult, hard to memorize and keep stuff in your memory for later recall. Nobody said it is easy unless you are a genius with photographic memory or you are autistic able to memorize impossible but that would just not work well because you as an autistic person would not be able to read this article to comprehend its content and use it in your favor.

This is exactly what it takes, to be normal but with a strong will and desire to improve and succeed and to finish a project once you have started it. Just be yourself, don’t compare your abilities to learn and memorize with other people, we are all different. One is better than another, but no one is the best in everything. What makes you think you are the best for yourself is the ability to accept your weaknesses and turn them into your strengths!

There are ways how to do it, it is proven, and tested. All you need to do is:

Control your emotions

Find a quiet place or anywhere where you would feel comfortable, and take a few deep breaths. It is not just about to get more oxygen in your brain but to calm your emotions like fear or unwillingness to learn/study. You might think that it is useless and you are wasting your time by just taking extra time to breathe. Well, you breathe anyway, you would say, but you do it very superficially, and automatically with no control. If you breathe deeply in a controlled way for a few minutes, this will help you to take away all your junk thoughts, and negative emotions away.

Think of this the way; nothing comes cheap, but this is for free!  Ok, time is money, they say, but you can easily make up the lost time later when you study. Trust me, you need to calm down, take your emotions under control, send the negative ones away, and get on with it! That brings us to another ability to be more patient.

Be more patient

 

Patience takes practice just like learning. It is easy to get destructed or even frustrated by the volume of the stuff you have to learn. It evokes in you the idea that there isn’t left enough time for learning. You need to become more patient and try to deal with stuff with ease as it comes, with ease. So, you need more time, and time is passing by even faster when you feel impatient. Impatience leads you to inattentiveness and agitation, furthermore to nervousness. 

When you learn to be patient, time goes by in your favor. You need to learn how to control your emotions first to be patient. Another way to make stuff easier to learn is the ability to organize.

 

Organize more to gain control and more time

 

This one is easy to do. Just don’t be that lazy, and clean the mess, will you! Not only in your kitchen after you finished your meal but also on your desk in your study room. Simply, be more organized. 

 

Don’t just stare in the screen

 

Computers, laptops, and internet access to online information make it very easy and efficient to find and learn stuff. Hmm, I am talking here about the whole package on how to improve your memory. That means you should grab some books on the subject you learn. You should write stuff on the paper by pen, and not just to type it on your laptop. This is like an exercise helping you to activate more neurons faster to make new connections to learn and this way to comprehend better the subject.

 

Remember, it is not always about memorizing but understanding the concept of the subject. The easier you understand the concept the better you learn it, and the better you can talk about it, possibly memorize it. It is proven that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes by hand.

 

Be more open to the world around you with a smile

Yes, open up. Don’t be frowning or rejecting new ideas and techniques. If you don’t try you won’t know, will you? Smile more, even for yourself when nobody around. The day always starts with you, so if you give it a go with a smile, what can go wrong, actually, it all with go right, will it!

How Smiling affects your Brain; each time you smile your brain feels happy. When a smile flashes across your face; dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are all released into your bloodstream, making not only your body relax but also work to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

 

That’s it, my dear readers. It doesn’t take much to give it a go with a smile and be happy for little things. Do whatever it takes to set your mood the way you will feel encouraged to learn new stuff, and don’t forget that practice is what you need to memorize and recall stuff. Because the final results always count most, when your day of exams or tests comes and you will pass with a good grade. This is a positive result, an achievement making you proud and happy just the way you are!




The Science of Interconnectedness & Proactive Creation – [VIDEO]: TEDx

I am always reminding myself of just how important it is to have a game plan. I like to know where I’m going as well as the fastest and simplest way to get there. I’m a list-maker, a goal-setter, and I’m the queen of travel itineraries, but sometimes the stiff, rigidness of being a Capricorn gets a bit old and I like to just wing it and leave things up to chance.

There’s nothing wrong with this and in fact, I highly encourage spontaneity. But there’s a huge difference between literally choosing to surrender to the moment and simply relax into it, and well just floating along in life bumping against rocks and logs.

How many of us do this with the majority of our lives? How many of us are not living as conscious creators, but rather on auto-pilot where instead of us going out into the world and happening to things; things continue to happen to us? The end result is that we continue to succumb to fate, rather than creating our destiny.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned in my life is that everything is connected. This is a tough concept to grasp when our physical senses want so intensely to convince us that we are separate. But as I mention is just about every article of mine, everything is energy and therefore there is no divide, but a mere convincing and illusory perception of it.

Once we fully grasp this Truth, it becomes much more difficult to treat others poorly because you see yourself in everyone. You can connect with the homeless man on the corner with reverence and compassion, you can connect with the lost child with the calm assertion and empathy…we begin to see the struggle, the emotion the FEELING in others over the physical “hardness” of our bodies. We are now able to focus more on what binds us rather than what can potentially divide us.

This brings me to the 2 basic ways of living; either in proactive creation or on auto-pilot. I highly recommend the first as it is comparing yourself safely behind the wheel of a moving car you know is safe vs one you are aware may have lost its brakes, etc. It’s living with the power to steer your life with a calm, empowered direction. When we are not consciously creating our lives, we default to auto-pilot living where our lives are ultimately created for us by the “outside” world; further instilling the illusion of separation.

This is why it is so important to be mindful of our actions and to always be creating your life! If you don’t, someone else will! 🙂

Please take a gander at the video below featuring Cassandra Vieten of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), it is amazing and speaks further on the topic here of interconnectedness and even takes a bit of a deeper dive into the actual science behind it. Enjoy!

Video Source: Insititute of Noetic Sciences: IONS

 

Tamara Rant is a Co-Editor/Writer for CLN as well as a Licensed Reiki Master, heart-centered Graphic Designer and a progressive voice in social media activism & awareness. She is an avid lover of all things Quantum Physics and Spirituality. Connect with Tamara by visiting Prana Paws/Healing Hearts Reiki or go to RantDesignMedia.com

Tamara posts new original articles to CLN every Saturday.

Follow Tamara on FacebookTwitter and Google+

This article was originally created and published by Conscious Life News and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Tamara Rant and ConsciousLifeNews.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this Copyright/Creative Commons statement.




Social Media Use Increases Depression and Loneliness, Study Finds

Source: Science Daily

Summary: Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram may not be great for personal well-being. The first experimental study examining the use of multiple platforms shows a causal link between time spent on these social media and increased depression and loneliness.

The link between the two has been talked about for years, but a causal connection had never been proven. For the first time, the University of Pennsylvania research based on experimental data connects Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram use to decreased well-being. Psychologist Melissa G. Hunt published her findings in the December Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Few prior studies have attempted to show that social-media use harms users’ well-being, and those that have either put participants in unrealistic situations or were limited in scope, asking them to completely forego Facebook and relying on self-report data, for example, or conducting the work in a lab in as little time as an hour.

“We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid,” says Hunt, associate director of clinical training in Penn’s Psychology Department.

To that end, the research team, which included recent alumni Rachel Marx and Courtney Lipson and Penn senior Jordyn Young, designed their experiment to include the three platforms most popular with a cohort of undergraduates and then collected objective usage data automatically tracked by iPhones for active apps, not those running the background.

Each of 143 participants completed a survey to determine mood and well-being at the study’s start, plus shared shots of their iPhone battery screens to offer a week’s worth of baseline social-media data. Participants were then randomly assigned to a control group, which had users maintain their typical social-media behavior, or an experimental group that limited time on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to 10 minutes per platform per day.

For the next three weeks, participants shared iPhone battery screenshots to give the researchers weekly tallies for each individual. With those data in hand, Hunt then looked at seven outcome measures including fear of missing out, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

“Here’s the bottom line,” she says. “Using less social media than you normally would lead to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”

Hunt stresses that the findings do not suggest that 18- to 22-year-olds should stop using social media altogether. In fact, she built the study as she did to stay away from what she considers an unrealistic goal. The work does, however, speak to the idea that limiting screen time on these apps couldn’t hurt.

“It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely,” she says. But when she digs a little deeper, the findings make sense. “Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there’s an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.”

Because this particular work only looked at Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, it’s not clear whether it applies broadly to other social-media platforms. Hunt also hesitates to say that these findings would replicate for other age groups or in different settings. Those are questions she still hopes to answer, including in an upcoming study about the use of dating apps by college students.

Despite those caveats, and although the study didn’t determine the optimal time users should spend on these platforms or the best way to use them, Hunt says the findings do offer two related conclusions it couldn’t hurt any social-media user to follow.

For one, reduce opportunities for social comparison, she says. “When you’re not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you’re actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life.”

Secondly, she adds, because these tools are here to stay, it’s incumbent on society to figure out how to use them in a way that limits damaging effects. “In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life.”


Story Source:

Materials provided by the University of Pennsylvania. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Melissa G. Hunt, Rachel Marx, Courtney Lipson, Jordyn Young. No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and DepressionJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2018; 751 DOI: 10.1521/jscp.2018.37.10.751

Melissa G. Hunt is the associate director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rachel Marx and Courtney Lipson graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018.

Jordyn Young is a member of the University of Pennsylvania Class of 2019.




Before You Make an Important Decision, Science Says It May Be Best To Sleep On It

By Anna Hunt | Waking Times

When it is difficult to make an important decision, especially about something that may impact your life, you may want to sleep on it. It’s logical to assume that it is easier for a rested brain to evaluate choices and make a decision. But come to find out, your brain actually makes some of its own decisions while you sleep. As well, sleep helps the brain process your emotions about a situation, so you are less irrational in your decision making.

Parts of the Brain that Impede Decision Making

During our awake hours, we are consistently making choices. There are times when we’re on automatic pilots, like making the morning coffee or driving to work. But most of the day we have to make decisions about what we want to wear and eat, what we want to do that day, how to tackle work and life situations, etc.

Your personality and society are big influences when it comes to decisions. So are all of the beliefs that you’ve formed based on your interactions with others. Essentially, all that makes you who you are will impact what choices you’re making in life – big or small.

Unfortunately, all of this personality, emotion, conditioning, etc, can make decision making difficult. When it’s time to make a choice, all of the voices in your head have an opinion. All your doubts, beliefs and aspirations argue their case in the silent battle within the mind.

The Unconscious Mind at Work

What happens when you sleep is that all of this personality and programming that makes you, you, are shut off. When the conscious mind sleeps, the unconscious mind starts to pilfer through everything that happened during your day.

Researchers Sid Kouider and Thomas Andrillon at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris in France were able to show that this “unconscious” brain actually continues to respond and process information, even when a person is asleep. In their study, they asked test subjects to press either a left or right button based on the type of word they heard. Initially, the subjects were awake. The researchers used an EEG scan to observe the activity in the brain immediately before each subject pressed the correct button to give the response.

The researchers continued to prompt the subjects with new words, even after the subject fell asleep. (The participants were laying down in a dark room.) The EEG showed that the brain continued to process the meaning of the new words and to prepare for either the left or right button response. Of course, the subjects didn’t press any button because they were asleep. This study was published in Current Biology.

This study shows clearly that the unconscious mind is still processing information from the outside world, even while you sleep. It may be beneficial to reflect on a decision calmly before going to sleep. Perhaps the unconscious mind will work things out for you.

A Nightly Makeover

It’s well known that the brain gets a makeover every time you sleep. During sleep, support cells in the brain clear away residue leftover from the day. The brain’s support cells, called glial cells clear out worn-out neurons and old, unnecessary synapses, or connections, between neurons.

Not only is the brain busy cleaning. It also integrates new information that we learned during the day. As it gets rid of the old, it also builds new synapses.

Furthermore, the brain helps integrate emotional experiences into context and produce appropriate responses. Research by Matthew Walker, Director of the University of California Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, showed that “sleep deprivation does the opposite by excessively boosting the part of the brain most closely connected to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.” (source)

Consequently, a good night’s sleep may help your brain to process your emotions about a situation. Instead of making a knee-jerk response or being irrational when making a choice, your brain will be ready to make choices that are more sensible.

The idea of having the brain suss things out while you sleep isn’t new. Alexander Graham Bell was a firm believer is making the unconscious mind work for you:

I am a believer in unconscious cerebration. The brain is working all the time, though we do not know it. At night, it follows up what we think in the daytime. When I have worked a long time on one thing, I make it a point to bring all the facts regarding it together before I retire; and I have often been surprised at the results. (source)

About the Author

Anna Hunt is a writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.

Sources:

https://theconversation.com/brains-can-make-decisions-while-we-sleep-here-they-are-in-action-31716

https://www.awarenessjunkie.com/neuroscience-shows-brain-literally-eats-due-lack-sleep/

https://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2007/10/22_sleeploss.shtml

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-happens-your-body-brain-while-you-sleep-ncna805276

This article (Before You Make an Important Decision, Science Says It May be Best to Sleep On It) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Anna Hunt and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

Read more great articles at Waking Times.




Is Social Connection the Best Path to Happiness?

If you want to be happier, a new study suggests, you should focus on your relationships.

BY Kira M. Newman | Greater Good Magazine

What are your personal strategies for happiness?

Nearly 1,200 Germans explored this question in a recent study—and then Julia M. Rohrer and her colleagues followed up with them a year later to find out how happy they felt. The researchers found not all roads lead to happiness.

In surveys, study participants first identified how satisfied they were with their life on a scale of 0-10, and then wrote down their ideas for maintaining or boosting their life satisfaction in the future. After a year, they reported their life satisfaction again and answered some questions about how they had spent their time.

Analyzing the data, the researchers could distinguish between two different types of happiness strategies: social and individual. Some goals—like seeing friends and family more, joining a nonprofit, or helping people in need—put participants into contact with other people. The other type of goal includes staying healthy, finding a better job, or quitting smoking—things that don’t necessarily involve spending time with people.

Ultimately, people who wrote down at least one social strategy tended to follow through and spend more time socializing that year, and they (in turn) became more satisfied with their lives. They were the people who committed to teach their son to swim or be more understanding of others, to go on a trip with their partner or meet new people.

Meanwhile, people who focused on individual goals didn’t improve their life satisfaction over the year. In fact, the self-focused road to happiness was even less effective than having no plans for action at all, which was the case for about half the participants. Those people were either relatively content—writing “Everything is fine” or “I wouldn’t change much”—or they hoped for changes in external circumstances, like the country’s politicians. They actually fared better when compared to people who pursued individual strategies.

These findings back up an earlier study, which suggested that people who intensely pursue happiness aren’t always more content. That was only true in cultures that define happiness in terms of social engagement and helping others (like East Asia and Russia, but not Germany or the United States).

What seems true across cultures is that social connections are key to well-being. For example, very happy people are highly social and tend to have strong relationships; kids with a richer network of connections grow up to be happier adults, and socializing is one of the most positive everyday activities. But this is one of the few studies to actually compare social and individual paths to happiness—and find that connecting with others might be inherently more rewarding.

Or, the researchers suggest, perhaps social goals are simply easier to attain. You could argue that it only takes a few phone calls to start spending more time with friends, but eating healthier requires constant and repeated effort—and goals like finding a new job aren’t entirely under your individual control. People who focus on social goals might just achieve them more often, deriving some contentment from that.

About the Author

Kira M. Newman is the managing editor of Greater Good. She is also the creator of The Year of Happy, a year-long course in the science of happiness, and CaféHappy, a Toronto-based meetup. Follow her on Twitter!




Tips for Choosing the Right Psychiatrist

The decision to see psychiatrists help you with your personal problems can be quite overwhelming. However, seeking psychiatric services can be a crucial step to help you overcome your problems. The psychiatrist diagnoses conditions and prescribes medications or the alternative treatments that can help to manage your symptoms, such as insomnia or anxiety.

Some psychiatrists can also offer professional counseling to patients or perform specific psychiatric procedures such as psychotherapy. They can also recommend or refer people to counselors or psychologists.

Getting the right psychiatrist who can help you effectively is crucial for overcoming your struggles. This article gives you some incredible tips that can help you choose a good psychiatrist.

1. Get referrals

You can get a list of psychiatrists from a healthcare clinic, your primary doctor, or your insurance company. You can also ask your family or friends for recommendations. After getting a list of the potential psychiatrists, you can research more about them on reputable websites.

There are different types of psychiatrists. Some psychiatrists may work only at residential hospitals or facilities, while there are those who may work at regular medical practices.

2. The psychiatrist credentials

When choosing a psychiatrist, it is crucial to consider board certification. The board certification indicates that the psychiatrist has the adequate training, experience, and skills needed to provide psychiatric services. If you are looking for a psychiatrist for an elderly, choose a doctor who has experience treating the seniors. For a child, look for a psychiatrist who is certified by the board to handle children and adolescents.

You should also confirm if the psychiatrist has been involved in disciplinary actions or any malpractice claim. You can also research on the doctor’s medical school, certifications, training hospital, etc.

3. The psychiatrist’s experience

Experience matters when it comes to choosing a psychiatrist. A more experienced psychiatrist is more likely to provide better results than an inexperienced one. Ask the psychiatrists the number of patients with your specific condition he has handled. If you require a particular procedure, for instance, electroconvulsive therapy or transcranial magnetic stimulation, you can ask the psychiatrist the number of procedures he has performed and the complication rates he has encountered as well as the risks of the complications.

4. The communication style

Communication is vital when it comes to providing psychiatric services. A psychiatrist should be able to communicate effectively and support your information needs. For you to evaluate your potential psychiatrist’s communication style, you need to ask him or her questions during your first meeting and see how he/she responds. The psychiatrist should welcome your question or answer you in a way that you understand better. Not paying attention to your questions or not answering straightforwardly can indicate a red danger. If that happens, then you should look for another psychiatrist.

Therapy usually takes months or even years, and so you will have to form a strong relationship with the doctor. Choose a psychiatrist who has an interest in knowing you more, who will respect your decisions, and will consider your preferred treatment options.

5. The quality of the hospital

The quality of the hospital also matters when it comes to psychiatry care or psychiatric procedures. The psychiatrist hospital is also your hospital. So you should consider the quality of care at the hospital where the psychiatrist provides care.

Hospital quality is critical because patients who are at the top-rated hospital are likely to have fewer complications. You should also consider the location of the hospital. The location should be closer or easily accessible; should you need a hospital for treatment or tests.

6. Know what your insurance covers

Your health insurance cover is also crucial when choosing a psychiatrist. As much as you should look for the credentials and experience of the psychiatrist, you should also ensure that your insurance coverage covers the psychiatric services you are seeking. If you want to get the best services without digging deeper into your pockets, you should choose a psychiatrist who fits in your plan.

During your research for your insurance network, you may find that there are psychiatrists in private practice who don’t accept insurance. These psychiatrists are out-of-network and their appointment costs can also be high.




Third Eye Pineal Gland: The Biggest Cover Up in Human History

Source: Universe Inside You

The pineal gland (also called the pineal body, epiphysis cerebri, epiphysis or the “third eye”) is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. It produces the serotonin derivative, melatonin and uses it to regulate sleep and restfulness but it also has other functions.