Saturday, April 14, 2018

How to Spot a Narcissist

woman relaxing

Put Stress in Its Place

How you handle stress makes a big difference in how you feel. It might even help your blood pressure, blood sugar level, and the rest of you. Use these calming strategies to stop stress ASAP.
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bubble gum
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Break Out the Bubble Gum

Next time you’re at the end of your rope, unwrap a stick of gum. According to studies, chewing gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. Some researchers think the rhythmic act of chewing may improve blood flow to your brain, while others believe the smell and taste help you relax.
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hiker mountains
3 / 11

Get Outside

Spending time outdoors, even close to home, is linked to better well-being. You're in a natural setting, and you're usually doing something active, like walking or hiking. Even a few minutes can make a difference in how you feel.
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happy man
4 / 11

Smile Like You Mean It

Don’t roll your eyes the next time someone advises you to “grin and bear it.” In times of tension, keeping a smile on your face – especially a genuine smile that’s formed by the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth – reduces your body’s stress responses, even if you don’t feel happy. Smiling also helps lower heart rates faster once your stressful situation ends.
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woman lavender
5 / 11

Sniff Some Lavender

Certain scents like lavender may soothe. In one study, nurses who pinned small vials of lavender oil to their clothes felt their stress ease, while nurses who didn’t felt more stressed. Lavender may intensify the effect of some painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, so if you’re taking either, check with your doctor before use.
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woman headphones
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Tune In

Heading into a stressful situation? Music can help you calm down. In one study, people had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol when they listened to a recording of Latin choral music before doing something stressful (like doing math out loud or giving a speech) than when they listened to a recording of rippling water. (Wondering what that choral piece was, music fans? Try Miserere by Gregorio Allegri.)
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woman yoga
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Reboot Your Breath

Feeling less stressed is as close as your next breath. Focusing on your breath curbs your body’s “fight or flight” reaction to pressure or fear, and it pulls your attention away from negative thoughts. Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting your chest and lower belly rise and your abdomen expand. Breathe out just as slowly, repeating a word or phrase that helps you relax. To reap the most benefit, repeat for at least 10 minutes.
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trying clothes
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Be Kind to Yourself

We all have a constant stream of thoughts running through our heads, and sometimes what we tell ourselves isn’t so nice. Staying positive and using compassionate self-talk will help you calm down and get a better grip on the situation. Talk to yourself in the same gentle, encouraging way you’d help a friend in need. “Everything will be OK,” for instance, or "I'll figure out how to handle this."
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Write Your Stress Away

Jotting down your thoughts can be a great emotional outlet. Once they're on paper, you can start working out a plan to resolve them. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer pen and notebook, a phone app, or a file on your laptop. The important thing is that you’re honest about your feelings.
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men conversing
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Tell a Friend

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek out the company of a friend or loved one. Have a friend who’s dealing with the same worries as you? Even more reason to open up. You'll both feel less alone.
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cycling class
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Get Moving

When you work up a sweat, you improve your mood, clear your head, and take a break from whatever is stressing you out. Whether you like a long walk or an intense workout at the gym, you’ll feel uplifted afterward.
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Help! My Depression Treatment Isn't Working

Woman in a dark, gloomy room looking out a window

When Depression Resists Treatment

It's hard not to feel hopeless when depression treatment doesn't work. But don't give up. As many as two-thirds of people with depression aren't helped by the first antidepressant they try. Work with your doctor to find the best treatments. Depression is highly treatable, and there are many options available. You might find that changing your medication, combining drugs, seeing a specialist, or talking to a therapist helps your recovery and reduces relapses.
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Psychotherapist talking to female patient
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Talk Therapy for Focus and Insight

Talking with a mental health professional can help you set goals, tackle problems, and stay focused on medical treatment for your depression. Talk therapy is an important part of treatment for many people with chronic and treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Ask your doctor to help you find a therapist whom you can work with effectively. Talk therapy includes individual psychotherapy and support groups.
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Grieving woman clutching photo of deceased child
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Therapy That Can Help

Some people may benefit from specific types of therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) attempts to break down ineffective or destructive patterns of thinking that may contribute to depression. Problem-solving therapy, a type of CBT, may help people with depression cope with negative or stressful life experiences. Interpersonal psychotherapy examines issues like grief, which may affect the relationships between people or cause depression.
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Woman in bed looking at medication
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Find the Right Medications

Many people who start taking an antidepressant don’t have a complete recovery and may need a change in treatment. You should see some improvement after six weeks. If your antidepressant isn't working, your doctor may change your prescription or increase your dosage, or prescribe other antidepressants or even other types of drugs to go with it. Continue to take it as prescribed, even if you start to feel better.
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Map of brain function and mood centers
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Which Antidepressant Is Right?

The most commonly prescribed antidepressants, known as SSRIs and SNRIs, affect the brain chemicals serotonin or both serotonin and norepinephrine, respectively. Your doctor considers side effects, safety, tolerability, and your history of depression when prescribing antidepressants. You may experience mild to severe side effects like dry mouth, nausea, insomnia, sexual problems, changes in blood pressure, or suicidal thoughts from antidepressants. Sometimes side effects go away. If severe side effects persist, talk to your doctor about changing medicines.
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Patient receiving transcranial magnetic stimulatio
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Other Treatments for Depression

If several courses of different antidepressants have failed, you and your doctor might consider other medical treatments that can help treatment-resistant depression. Electroconvulsive therapy uses small electric currents to cause a brief seizure in the brain. A series of treatments over several weeks can help ease symptoms of severe depression. In vagus nerve stimulation, a small pacemaker-like device is surgically implanted under the collarbone that sends electrical signals to the brain through a large nerve that runs up through the neck. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (shown) sends magnetic pulses to the brain to improve mood.
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Female reverend counseling an elderly man in pew
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Pastoral and Spiritual Counseling

Make sure you have enough support from family and friends so you can cope with your depression. Many people find comfort from being part of a spiritual community. If you are religious, talk with your priest, rabbi, minister, or other religious advisor. These people often know you and your family as individuals. And they can help you articulate the things that are important to you. They'll also help you understand your role in the community.
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Volunteers cheerfully serving soup to the needy
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Volunteer for a Sense of Worth

Depression feeds on isolation. When you separate yourself from the community, your sense of having no value grows stronger. Volunteering is a perfect antidote. It gives you something to do and turns your focus outside yourself. At the same time, it makes you feel good about who you are. Find something you value. Then offer to help.
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Adult son having a serious talk with his father
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Let Your Family Help

Depression is hard on you and your family. But remember, they can't help if you won't let them. If you share your feelings, you won't create a divide between you and those you love. Let them help when they can, and consider couples or family counseling. Let your family know they are important in your life.
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Woman thoughtfully writing in her journal
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Plan to Feel Better

You don't always do things that make you happy. But planning enjoyable activities for each day can help your treatment. Each afternoon, jot down a list of what you want to do for yourself the next day. Then add what you need to do for others. Review your plan at the end of each day. How did the things you accomplished make you feel?
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Smiling female jogger taking a breather roadside
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Exercise, a Natural Medicine

You may not feel like exercising. But exercise is effective in easing depression. Your body's physical response to exercise actually improves your mood. That's because exercise causes the release of endorphins. These chemicals trigger a positive feeling. It doesn't matter what kind of exercise you do. Just find something you enjoy and start moving.
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Support group engrossed in discussion
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Support From Others Who Understand

A support group is made up of people who know what it feels like to be depressed. It helps to know others understand how you feel. Even more important, they can share coping techniques from their own experience. Plus you have the opportunity to share your successes with them. Ask your doctor to help you find a support group in your area.
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Bone Cancer Warning Signs

bone cancer in knee

What Is It?

It starts when a tumor forms in a bone. It usually begins in one of the long ones in your arm or leg. As it grows, it kills normal bone cells and may spread to other parts of your body. Bone cancer is most common in children and young adults.
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type of bone cancer
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Common Types

Osteosarcoma, the most common bone cancer, usually happens to people ages 10 to 30 and most often starts in the arms, legs, or pelvis. Ewing sarcoma also is more likely to be in kids and young adults. It starts most often in the arms, chest, legs, pelvis, and spine. People over 40 are more likely to have chondrosarcoma -- usually in the arms, legs, or pelvis. Cancers like leukemia that start in marrow -- tissue in some of your bones -- aren’t seen as bone cancer.
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types of rare bone cancer
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Rare Types

Other less common bone cancers tend to affect adults. These include giant cell tumors -- which usually happen around the knees in young adults -- and chordoma, which typically starts in the base of the skull or the tailbone. Fibrosarcoma is sometimes seen in older adults who have had radiation therapy for another kind of cancer. It’s typically found in the knees, hips, and jaw.
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mom measuring son height
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What Can Raise Your Odds of Getting It?

Your chances of getting one of these cancers are higher if you have metal implants in your bones, as you sometimes get if you break one. And cancer treatment, like high doses of radiation and some cancer drugs, may make you more likely to have it, too. It happens more often in children and young adults whose bones are still growing. But with chondrosarcoma, it’s the reverse -- your odds go up as you get older.
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retinoblastoma in child's eye
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Health Conditions

You also may be more likely to get bone cancer if you have certain conditions caused by problem genes. These include a kind of eye cancer called hereditary retinoblastoma, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and Rothmund-Thomson syndrome. And babies born with an umbilical hernia -- when part of an intestine or some tissue pokes through a weak spot in their belly -- are more likely to get Ewing sarcoma. But the chances of that are very low.
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person holding elbow
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Symptom: Pain

This is the most common early sign. It may come on slowly, starting out as tenderness you feel now and then, and become an ache that doesn’t go away. But this kind of pain can be caused by many things besides cancer, like growing pains and arthritis. See your doctor to find out what’s going on.
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teen with broken wrist
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Other Symptoms

You also may have:
  • Broken bones (the tumor can make your bone weak, and it may break more easily)
  • A lump over one of your bones
  • Night sweats
  • Swelling and redness over a bone
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss for no reason
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bone scan
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Diagnosis: Imaging Tests

Your doctor may recommend X-rays along with one or more of these to see if you have a tumor:
  • Bone scans: Your doctor puts a small amount of a radioactive substance in a vein in your arm, then uses a special camera to take pictures of your bones.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: X-rays taken from different angles are put together to show the size and shape of a tumor and if it’s spread.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: Strong magnets and radio waves are used to clearly show the outline of a tumor.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: Radiation is used to make 3-D color images to check your body for cancer.
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bone biopsy
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Diagnosis: Biopsy

Your doctor takes out a small part of the tumor -- either through surgery or with a needle -- to test it for cancer cells. It’s the only way to know for sure if you have bone cancer.
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splitting cancer cells
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Imaging tests help your doctor figure out the stage of your cancer so she’ll know how to treat it:
  • Stage I hasn’t spread beyond the bone, and the cancer cells aren’t growing very quickly.
  • Stage II hasn’t spread, but cancer cells are growing quickly.
  • Stage III is in at least two places on the same bone.
  • Stage IV has spread beyond the bone.
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Treatment: Surgery

Your doctor’s recommendation will be based on the size, stage, and type of tumor, along with your overall health. Surgery to take out the tumor is the most common first step. To replace any bone that has to be taken out along with the tumor, your doctor may use bone from another part of your body or from a bone bank, or a metal implant.
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teen getting chemotherapy
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Treatment: Chemotherapy, Radiation

A combination of powerful drugs (chemotherapy) and beams of high-energy X-rays (radiation therapy) are sometimes used with surgery. They may help shrink a tumor beforehand or kill any cancer cells left afterward. Chemotherapy drugs travel throughout your body, so your doctor also may reccommend them if cancer has spread beyond the bone. And he may suggest radiation if surgery isn’t possible, or to help ease pain caused by advanced cancer.
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cryosurgery rods
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Treatment: Cryosurgery

During this type of surgery, your doctor puts a probe filled with liquid nitrogen right next to the tumor. The probe makes a ball of ice that freezes and destroys the cancer cells. This is usually used to treat bone cancers that aren’t growing quickly. In some cases, it also can help keep the joint from being damaged or help save an arm or a leg.
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blood test
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Follow-Up Care

Bone cancer can spread to other parts of your body, including other bones, or it may come back in the same place. So you’ll have regular follow-up visits with your doctor, and she may want to do blood tests and X-rays to keep an eye on things. Depending on your treatment and where the cancer was, you also may need physical therapy to make parts of your body stronger and help you use them again.
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Inspirational Quote – April 14, 2018

“Only you can fill in what’s missing. It’s not something another person can do for you.”

Have you ever had the feeling that something is “missing” in your life? I’m not talking about someone, but a feeling, a belief, something that resonates with your very spirit or soul. I believe we each seek out what we feel drawn to and that this enriches and enables us to feel comfortable, happy and content with who and where we are in life. Those of us who have achieved this are very fortunate indeed to have realized that nobody but ourselves could “fill in what was missing” and acted accordingly. I hope you have found or find the same.

That Friend Walking Behind Me

In this beautiful reverie, Parker Palmer imagines a friend who has been walking behind him all the time, calling his name. The inner friend finally has to resort to depression to wake him up to ask himself what he really wants behind all his activities, and to help him realize he isn't alone. It's not the intellectual self or the ethical self or even the spiritual self, but what Thomas Merton calls the True Self.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Why Timing Matters for Your Happiness and Success

A new book explains the psychology of time and how to harness it for greater well-being.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
You probably instinctively know this about yourself—you may even joke about it from time to time. But you probably don’t give it much import or consider the implications beyond your sleep schedule.
But, according to author Daniel Pink, that would be a mistake. In his new book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, he argues that timing is everything, and that when we perform tasks can matter as much as how we perform them. When we don’t pay attention to how time affects us—whether we’re talking about the time of day or our emotional experience of time—we end up making bad decisions, hindering our creativity, and leaving important projects incomplete. His book points to ways to use time to our advantage, while providing some provocative research supporting his argument along the way.

How our internal clock affects us

We all have a natural rhythm in our moods and our energy levels. Studies suggest that people’s moods tend to rise during the morning hours, then dip in the afternoon, and continue to rise again later in the evening until just before bedtime. That’s why some researchers suggest you shouldn’t make important decisions or take tests late in the day. When you are less energetic and happy, you have trouble separating out peripheral information to get to the right answer.
On the other hand, if you need to solve problems that entail insight rather than logic, the afternoon may be better, for opposite reasons. Being less focused might leave your mind more open to making creative leaps.
For a natural night owl, this pattern may shift to later in the day. But the key is that timing makes a difference, and we should perform important tasks at the peak time for us—and ask our employees to do the same.
“Whatever you do, do not let mundane tasks creep into your peak period,” warns Pink. “If you’re a boss, understand these two patterns and allow people to protect their peak.”
Of course, many of us have work schedules that don’t allow for this—we don’t have that much flexibility. That’s when Pink suggests we find ways to mitigate our inevitable dips in energy.
One clear way is taking regular breaks. Research has shown again and again that taking short time-outs and even naps can reduce attention fatigue and recalibrate our brains—if they’re the appropriate length, that is. (For naps, it’s about 15-20 minutes, writes Pink.) Taking a true break at lunchtime—free of cell phones and work tasks—also helps, as does adding time in nature or a little human contact during that lunch.
Why breaks? Consider the risks of not taking them. Research has found that anesthesiologists and colonoscopy doctors provide poorer care at the end of their shifts, creating risks for their patients. But, with small breaks and check-ins for surgical doctors, some of these problems seem to diminish. The same is true for school kids, who perform much better with regular breaks.

Beginnings, middles, and endings

Not only does Pink explore how to take advantage of our personal time clocks, he also cites compelling research on how markers of time impact our thinking about what we’re doing—and how we can leverage that for our benefit.
People often look at projects as linear, meaning that the best way to get them done is to make incremental progress over time. But life doesn’t work like that, in part because we give special attention to beginnings, middle periods, and endings.
Consider beginnings: A false start can be hard to overcome—so, Pink argues, we should pay attention to start off right. He suggests tying new projects to a marker of time, like the first of the month or the beginning of fall, to give them added significance; or finding other ways to call attention to a beginning. For example, when starting a new job, you can visualize yourself in the position before the first day, allowing yourself to start inhabiting the role prior to taking it on. Or, if you’re an employer, you might make a new employee’s first day of work special in some way—perhaps taking them to lunch or making sure others come by and say hello. A warm welcome early in the job can inspire new employees, leading to greater motivation and job loyalty down the road.
And, Pink says, when research suggests ways to make beginnings better, we should seek institutional changes—like starting the school day after 8:30 a.m. for middle and high school students, who benefit emotionally, physically, and cognitively from later start times.
“Armed with the science, we can do a much better job of starting right—in school and beyond,” he writes.
After the excitement of a new beginning, midpoint project slumps (or midlife emotional dips, for that matter) are pretty much universal, writes Pink. We could all use strategies to overcome them, such as:
  • Setting interim goals—to reduce worry about getting everything done at once.
  • Committing to your goals publicly—to give you accountability and help you stick to them.
  • Picturing someone your project would help if it were completed—to increase your motivation.
  • Prioritizing your top goals and ignoring the rest—to fight overwhelm and help you focus.
  • Showing yourself compassion—to stop you from beating yourself up, which kills motivation.
Lastly, endings also tend to impact us, writes Pink. Think of a basketball team who, nearing the end of a game, makes a special push to win. Just knowing you are close to finishing something may change your view of what needs to happen, in a few ways:
1. Energizing you. A person who is 49 years old is about three times more likely to run their first marathon than someone just one year older. The end of a decade has significance that may motivate people to push themselves in new directions—for good or ill.
2. Helping you remember experiences later. If you end a meal with a great dessert or kindness from a waiter, you will see it in a more positive light, even if the rest of the meal was only ho-hum. This can lead to inaccurate memories, of course, but it is a part of human nature worth understanding. You could use it to your advantage by planning a vacation that ends with a bang—something novel and extra special. That way, you’ll remember it more fondly later, no matter how badly it may have started.
3. Helping you focus on what’s most important. That’s why endings to books are often inspirational or contain some twist or message that resonates long after the book is over. To take advantage of this, you might consider ending your work day by taking a few minutes to write down your progress since the morning. You might also top that off with a quick note of gratitude toward a coworker or friend. This helps keep you motivated and feeling closer to others.
4. Elevating you emotionally. Especially if you consider them as poignant events in your life—like graduating from high school or retiring from a job—endings can feel uplifting. Adding a special event or celebration can capture this meaningful feeling.

Other “time hacks”

Pink’s book is full of research-based tips for handling many of the temporal challenges we face—“time hacks,” as he calls them, that help us with everything from knowing when it’s best to go first (or last) in an interview, to what’s the best time in life to get married, to when to quit a job. Though mostly focused on individual hacks, Pink does also tap into the research on synchronicity—timed, coordinated movements, like rowing or singing together—showing how these kinds of activities can benefit groups and providing fodder for employers who want to create a more unified team.

He ends with some provocative findings about how our experience of time is influenced by emotion and how that can impact our behavior. For example, studies have found that time tends to slow down when we’re feeling awe, that nostalgia for our younger selves can bring meaning to our present, and that we are more likely to save for the future if we can empathically imagine ourselves at an older age.
Though the sheer number of studies he covers and suggestions he makes is overwhelming, the big take-home from Pink’s book is that by understanding time and how it impacts us, we can find more success and enjoy our lives more.
“Shifting our focus—and giving when the same weight as what—won’t cure all our ills,” writes Pink. “But it’s a good beginning.”