Why Physical Touch Matters for Your Well-Being

Physical contact seems to be declining in modern life. But what happens when we lack human touch?

By Jonathan Jones

Earlier this year, Tiffany Field, head of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, traveled to different airports in Florida to watch people interacting.

A researcher who has studied touch for more than four decades, Field made a shocking discovery: Nobody was touching each other. Everyone was on their phone.

“I think social media has been really detrimental to touch,” Field told me. “Being on your phone is distancing people physically from each other. It used to be in airports, you’d see people hugging and napping on each other. Now they’re just not touching.”

The science of touch came of age in the mid-1990s, when two scientists traveled to Romania to examine the sensory deprivation of children in understaffed orphanages. The touch-deprived children, they found, had strikingly lower cortisol and growth development levels for their…

New Approaches to Healing Collective Conflict and Trauma

The challenge facing seven billion plus people now living on the planet is how to recreate the Third Side for today's conflicts ranging from those with our neighbors to nuclear conflicts. William Ury is one of the world's leading experts on negotiation, co-founder of Harvard's Program on Negotiation, co-author of Getting to Yes, author of multiple award-winning books, and founder of the Abraham Path Initiative, which shines a light on the ancient path of Abraham who is celebrated for his kindness and hospitality. In this interview with Thomas Hbl, he discusses how to heal collective conflict and trauma. Ury's belief is that the secret of peace is us, the community coming together. This Kosmos interview explores his ideas on how to bring us together.

Are You Bathing in Germs?

A new study suggests that showerheads may dump bacteria on you that cause lung infections.

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

You no doubt think that stepping into your shower will wash away dirt and germs, but a new study shows your showerhead might instead dump nasty bacteria on you that may cause lung infections.

Most people know to keep their bathrooms clean, especially the toilet and sink. But researchers discovered that places in the United States and Europe where germs called mycobacteria are found in abundance in showerheads are the same places where bacterial lung infections are most common. In America, that includes parts of Southern California, Florida and New York.

"We live in a world covered in bacteria, and the bacteria in our showerheads follow some interesting geographic trends, and can be altered by our water source and water chemistry," said study lead author Matthew Gebert.

"We're exposed to microbes constantly in our day-to-day lives, some beneficia…

5 Bits of Nutrition Advice You Should Stop Following

You hear nutrition tips seemingly everywhere these days -- and a lot of them may be wrong.

By Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD

Have you noticed that nearly everyone seems to be doling out nutrition advice: your sister-in-law, the trainer at the gym, the woman behind you in line at the grocery store, and every person on the internet? I can tell you that as a dietitian, I cringe at approximately 95 percent of this advice. Here are some of the top offenders:

“Only Shop the Perimeter”
Let’s get this one out of the way first: This advice may be as old as time, but it’s terrible! If I only shopped the perimeter, I would never again buy nuts, dry beans, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, canned tomatoes, and olive oil. I agree with the general spirit of this advice (buy lots of fresh foods) but there’s no denying that the middle aisles are full of good-for-you, affordable choices—and that stocking up on these shelf-stable items is a smart strategy for healthy eating.

“Switch to Sea Salt to Cut Back on Sodium”

These Words Cause Happiness

Did you know that you have the power to spark happiness in someone else's brain with just a few simple words? College student Eva Dickerson shares how she spread happiness across her campus, equipped with just her iPhone and some compliments.

K9s for Warriors: Together We Stand

Sometimes it's not the human who rescues the dog, but the dog who rescues the human. K9s for Warriors, a program based out of Ponte Verda, Florida, was established in 2011 to help soldiers experiencing PTSD and other war trauma disabilities. The dogs are trained to be service dogs and address symptoms in their owners such as anxiety, isolation, depression, and nightmares, often serving in conjunction with traditional treatments like medication and psychotherapy. To date, the program has rescued more than 850 dogs and 440 military service members, with an astounding 99% program success rate. "Service dogs are prescriptions on four legs," says owner Shari Duvall. Read on to learn more about the inspiring stories behind the soldiers and their canine warriors.

W. Kamau Bell’s United Thanks of America

In a Q&A, the comedian and host of United Shades of America explores the place of gratitude in a divided country.

By Jeremy Adam Smith

Thanksgiving is approaching, but according to one new study, we’ve been spending less time with each other over turkey and mashed potatoes. The reason why might shock you: Americans are avoiding Thanksgiving with family because of political differences.

W. Kamau Bell doesn’t think that’s a good thing, which might be why he’s carved out an unusual niche for himself on today’s polarized social and political landscape. He’s a comedian with real moral seriousness, a black man who reveals the lives of people who hate him, and a social commentator who tries to tries to tear down barriers rather than build them up. Through his autobiographical stand-up specials like Private School Negro and best-selling book, The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell, he’s explored how social forces have shaped his personality and life. Through his CNN series United Shades of Am…

A Modern Elder Muses on Gratitude in Silicon Valley

What defines the modern elder? Wisdom? Success? Or something different altogether? In this article, Chip Conley reflects on his transition to a Silicon Valley tech startup at the age of 52, following a career in the hospitality industry. Surrounded by much younger coworkers, or "the land of the Millennials", Chip quickly realized that being an elder today is less about reverence and more about relevance. Taking a beginner's-mind approach, Chip thought carefully about how he showed up at work, viewing himself as both a mentor and an intern. Read more to learn about the five traits of modern elders and how much we can learn from them if we listen.

How to Be a Kindness Role Model for Your Kids

We can inspire our kids to be kinder by talking about and practicing kindness ourselves.

By Dale V. Atkins, Amanda R. Salzhauer

Today, World Kindness Day, is an opportunity for people across the world to focus on good deeds in their communities, reminding us that kindness is a positive force that connects us all. But how can we make sure that our kids get that message, too? After all, for kindness to become the norm in society, our children will need to learn how to be kind to carry the torch forward for future generations.

It can be hard to show kindness in our daily interactions—for us, as well as for our kids. Even though we are hardwired for kindness and empathy, we can be hampered by the busyness in our lives or by more negative influences in the world, like bullying, intolerance, hate crimes, and more.

In our book, The Kindness Advantage: Cultivating Compassionate and Connected Children, we help parents and grandparents uncover their children’s compassionate qualities by introducin…

The Boy Who Wanted to Go to School

With hard work, determination, a little serendipity, and a lot of heart, Wubetu Shimelash made it all the way from a remote region of Ethiopia to a prominent U.S. university. This man who once fashioned sandals out of tires now dons a fedora and impresses everyone with his positive attitude, joyous spirit, and infectious smile. It is a story of true success--both for him personally, and for the community that benefits from his warm presence and talents. "'Wherever I go, I am not lost,' Wubetu says. 'I go with my values. I try to adapt to a new culture without losing my culture.' His values? Being happy. Being kind. Staying positive. Working hard. And loving. 'The power of love is limitless,' he says." Read on for more.

How to Break the Loop of Our Destructive Patterns

When we're afraid, we often find ourselves caught up in habitual ways of responding that fail to bring us the relief we seek. "To keep repeating a baleful pattern without recognizing that we are caught in its loop is one of life's greatest tragedies; to recognize it but feel helpless in breaking it is one of our greatest trials; to transcend the fear of uncertainty, which undergirds all such patterns of belief and behavior, is a supreme triumph." In a beautiful response to Vincent Van Gogh's 1884 letter to his brother on fear and risk-taking, novelist Nicole Krauss sheds light on how rather than being governed by our fears, we can recognize the opportunity to step outside of them and ultimately overcome them.

Small Towns Offer Clues to Life Expectancy Drop

By Sonam Vashi

Along the Virginia-Tennessee border, near Virginia’s southwestern tip, you can find a mirror image: twin cities named Bristol that straddle the state line. State Street, the main artery of both cities, forms the dividing line between the two cities, and a sign in lights that frames the street points out the state boundary: “Bristol VA | TENN, A good place to live.”

But that’s where the similarities end between the two Bristols, including on the most basic of health measures: If you live on the Virginia side, you can expect to live 2 years less than your Tennessee neighbors.

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)

New study published today in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals an increase in national life expectancy in the US since 1980, but improvement depends on where you live.

Explore the updated US Health Map data visualization tool:

Growing gap between longest and shortest lifespans in the US emphasizes the need for pol…

The Role Colors Play in Your Life

What Colors Your World?Our vibrant world is filled with colors, and they may affect you more than you realize. They can change your mood and your behavior, maybe even your diet and who you find attractive. Before you redecorate, get dressed, or serve your next meal, it might be good to keep that in mind. Swipe to advance 2/12 Your MemoryColors can affect what you remember. If there’s lots of red around, you’re more likely to recall negative words. Green, on the other hand, tends to make you hold on to positive ones. That may help you have a happier view of your life and a healthier state of mind. Swipe to advance 3/12 Your LibidoWomen find men who are wearing red more desirable. And it seems that men are indeed attracted to “a lady in red.” But that’s only a physical effect -- the color doesn’t make people of either gender seem more likable or kind. Swipe to advance 4/12 Your RelationshipsWe all want the people around us to be happy, and painting the walls of your home pink, green, or white …