Showing posts from November 25, 2018

Sailing the Winds of Grace

A book fell out of a bookcase, fell all the way down the stairs -- not just any book, but a book that held a letter Mother Teresa had written to Rosalie Giffoniello six years earlier. Rosalie had a question: "Can I volunteer at one of your orphanages? Are there special needs children I could help?" Mother Teresa had written back, but Rosalie wasn't quite ready. She stuck the letter in a book. Six years later she was in bed wondering, "What should I do this summer?" That's when she heard a book fall down the stairs. It was the one that held Mother Teresa's letter: "Come to India." Giffoniello's life changed at that moment. It's an amazing story...

Do Kind People Make More Money?

A new study offers more evidence that selfishness may be self-defeating.

By Tom Jacobs

Altruistic people tend to score higher on many measures of life satisfaction. Yes, that seems counterintuitive, and such measures can admittedly be subjective. So a research team decided to explore the relationship between selflessness and two outcomes we are evolutionarily programmed to desire: wealth and procreation.

It reports generous people have more children than selfish ones. What’s more, as a rule, they also earn more money.

It further finds “people generally expect selfish individuals to have higher incomes,” an unsupported belief that can inspire bad behavior. In fact, writes a research team led by Kimmo Eriksson of Stockholm University, being socially conscious literally pays dividends.

In the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the researchers describe five studies that explore this connection. They analyzed four large-scale data sets, including two that tracked individuals and fami…

Where Homework Means Building Affordable Housing

Each year, beginning in the fall, a group of third-year architecture students from Auburn University take up residence in a small rural Alabama town to begin building a house. In the winter, when a new semester begins, they are replaced at the Newbern, Alabama, project site by another cohort of 16 students who finish up the job and prepare the house for its new occupants. The 20K Home Project began 13 years ago as a challenge to architecture students at Auburn to build a $20,000 house, with $12,000 in material and $8,000 for labor. The idea was to create "the perfect house" for needy families in rural areas where dwellings are often substandard and where affordable building can be a logistical challenge.

How to Help Someone See Things Differently

By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Have you ever noticed that your attempts to help people see their problem in a more positive light often fall on deaf ears? Your suggestion might be perfect for the situation, but it won’t help if the recipient of your advice doesn’t really hear it. So, the key to really helping someone is often to help them be open to a new way of seeing their problem.

For instance, when Duncan was forced to stay home from work with the flu, he could not stop worrying about how he was going to fall behind. Then he talked with his friend Sam who listened to his concerns, but pointed out that he had needed to slow down from his hectic pace for a long time. Duncan realized Sam was right, and he decided this was his body’s way of making him get the rest he so desperately needed. With this new perspective, he was able to put his worries aside and appreciate the rest even as he started to recover.

Sam was able to help Duncan reframe his situation by using this method of approachin…

Living Simply in a Tiny Off-Grid Cabin

Meet Tom, Sarah and their daughter, Neesa. They live in a 20 square meter off-grid cabin on property in New Zealand. Instead of paying rent, they share the work of looking after the land with the owners. Tom is a medical doctor and Sarah is an illustrator. Both have chosen to reduce their work to almost nothing in order to have more time to focus on living well. This short film is an example of Happen Films' Living the Change, a feature-length documentary which explores solutions of which any one of us can be a part.

9 Scientific Secrets to Healthy Aging

The second half of your life can bring some of your most rewarding decades. You may be more confident than your younger self. You gain wisdom and patience. Sure, your hair sprouts more grays and your face sports more lines. But you can grow older with your body and mind as healthy as they can possibly be.

Here are science-backed secrets to do just that.

Eat Whole Foods

It’s more a way of eating than a formal diet. You load up on veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and low-fat dairy. You eat less fatty meats, butter, sugar, salt, and packaged foods.
Many studies have found that this diet can help you live longer and protects against heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe one way it works is by physically changing parts of your chromosomes linked to age-related diseases.


Aim for 30 minutes every day. If that’s too much, break it up into shorter strolls. Regular exercise -- especially if you do it briskly enough to feel a little breathless -- del…

12 Desserts That Won't Expand Your Waistline

Berries and CreamIt’s a classic combo. Berries are sweet, juicy, and low in calories. They also have many heart-healthy nutrients, like antioxidants and fiber. Dress a cup of them up with a dollop of whipped cream or low-fat sour cream -- it adds 20 to 50 calories, but little to no sugar. Swipe to advance 2/12 Frozen Fruit BarsSome store-bought brands offer low-calorie, lower-sugar options. Or make your own to avoid, or at least limit, added sugars. Look for recipes that use more fruit than juice. That way, you’ll still get some fiber and other nutrients in your sweet treat. Swipe to advance 3/12 Dark ChocolateEnjoying an ounce a few times a week is not as bad for your diet as you might think. It has less sugar and more cocoa than milk chocolate. That means fewer calories, but more nutrients like flavonoids. For the most benefit, look for cocoa content of 70% or more, but keep in mind that caffeine content goes up with the cocoa, too. Swipe to advance 4/12 Yogurt ParfaitIt can feel as indulgen…

How to Make Your Workday More Mindful

We can find more balance at work by noticing distractions in all their different forms, says Joe Burton.

By Kira M. Newman

At age 40, Joe Burton was not a mindful leader.

He was the COO of an $8 billion company, working 12-hour days and weekends and making more than half a million dollars a year. But his body was paying the price: He was suffering from insomnia, asthma, and eight years of chronic back pain that was so bad it sometimes brought him to tears.

“I was frustrated, angry, competitive, and hurting,” Burton writes in his 2018 book Creating Mindful Leaders: How to Power Down, Power Up, and Power Forward.

Among his doctors’ recommendations were major surgery or meditation—and, begrudgingly, he chose meditation.

Now, meditation is his job. After spending time as the president of Headspace, he founded Whil, a training platform that helps professionals become more resilient to stress and improve sleep and performance. He wants to help the people who are suffering as he did—the nearly 4…

The Abundance of Less

In "The Abundance of Less" Andy Couturier profiles the lives of ten pioneering Japanese artist-activists living lives of extraordinary grace and purpose outside the bounds of mainstream society. As author David Abram puts it,"Reading this magic book is like drinking from a fresh wellspring deep in the mountains: it slowly returns one to sanity. In an era when the allure of ten thousand digital screens eclipses the inner radiance of a stone lying among the reeds, how clarifying to encounter the eloquence and humility of these well-lived lives." What follows is Couturier's introduction to a book that reads like a touchstone for these troubled times.

Three Risks of Too Much Screen Time for Teens

You probably know that technology overuse may be damaging. But do you know why?

By Christine Carter

We understand that smartphone and social media overuse can be toxic for teens (and, frankly, for all of us). But do we understand why? When we know what it is about smartphones and social media that may be hurtful, we can better help our teens use their devices in healthy, nonharmful ways.

So why can overuse be toxic? The reasons are many, but research reveals three things that might surprise you.

1. More screen time means more time alone

Teenagers make an interesting case study in loneliness.

Although they seem fantastically connected socially—my teens are constantly communicating with literally hundreds of kids through text and social media and video chat—more teenagers now feel left out and lonely than ever before (or at least since we started measuring these things). A surprising 48 percent more girls and 27 percent more boys felt left out in 2015 compared to 2010.

Why are they so lonely,…

Books on How to Lead a Meaningful Life

Looking to curl up with a good read? Check out this list of 2017's best books on how to stay resilient and live a meaningful life. Covering topics that range from how to raise responsible, mature, and empathic children in an increasingly digital age, to why compassion matters in the workplace, this list offers something for everyone. Thought-provoking, engaging, and insightful, your next great read awaits.

How to Deal with Feeling Bad About Your Feelings

New research explores how "meta-emotions" work, such as feeling sad about feeling anxious.

By Natasha Bailen, Haijing Wu Hallenbeck, Renee Thompson

For a moment he felt good about this. A moment or two later he felt bad about feeling good about it. Then he felt good about feeling bad about feeling good about it and, satisfied, drove on into the night.
—Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

You can probably recall a time when you experienced a meta-emotion, or an emotion that occurred in response to another emotion. Perhaps you teared up while watching a sappy movie with friends, then felt embarrassed about feeling sad. Or perhaps when you were a child, you felt happy your sibling was reprimanded, then felt guilty about feeling happy.

Most people are familiar with meta-emotions, but very little is known about them. So our team at the Emotion and Mental Health Lab at Washington University in St. Louis designed a study to explore people’s meta-emotional experiences in…