Showing posts from December 22, 2019

What Santa Can Teach Us About Children’s Brains

Yes, kids believe in Santa Claus—but they aren't as gullible as you think.

By Rohan Kapitany

Warning: this piece contains Christmas spoilers

Many of us tell our children about a rotund, bearded man in red, who lives in the icy tundra at the top of the world. He is tasked with judging the moral worth of children everywhere. He has a list. He has checked it twice. And there is no court of appeals.

We promise our children that, on a known date and under the cover of darkness, he will sneak into our homes. Here, his judgment will be delivered. In preparation, it is customary to erect and decorate a tree inside one’s home (a dead one, or a simulacrum, will do just fine) and to leave a food sacrifice of high-fat cookies and nutrient-rich milk. He will then repeat this act several billion times, aided by his entourage of flying polar caribou.

Why would children believe something so absurd? And can it teach us anything about how children come to discriminate between what is real and what is no…

The Ripple Effects of a Thank You

A new study shows that expressing gratitude affects not only the grateful person, but anyone who witnesses it.

By Jill Suttie

Researchers studying gratitude have found that being thankful and expressing it to others is good for our health and happiness. Not only does it feel good, it also helps us build trust and closer bonds with the people around us.

These benefits have mostly been observed in a two-person exchange—someone saying thanks and someone receiving thanks. Now, a new study suggests that expressing gratitude not only improves one-on-one relationships, but could bring entire groups together—inspiring a desire to help and connect in people who simply witness an act of gratitude.

In this extensive study, Sara Algoe of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her colleagues ran multiple experiments to investigate how witnessing gratitude affects people’s feelings toward the grateful person and the benefactor (the person who is being thanked).

They came up with a few diffe…

Finding our Freedom Under a Frozen Lake

Could freediving into a frozen lake teach us something about living a less stressful life? Let’s hear from these divers about what they’re experiencing as they explore the icy depths. It may just give you a few ideas of your own!

As we face task after task each day, it’s easy to get caught up in the motor of our minds. But these freedivers are here to let us in on the art of letting go! Here’s what it looks like to be able to focus on what we can actually control in life.

By Sam Burns

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Night Shift at the Marriott

Picture this: It's almost 11pm on a hot August day. You're exhausted, having just driven over 600 miles, and you arrive at the newly opened Marriott, your last hope for a place to lay your tired body down for the night. You are third in line at the front desk, where there is a single young woman on duty, doing everything she can to keep things under control. When you finally arrive at room 309, you find it completely untouched by maid service. Read this incredible story about who's got the night shift at the Marriott.

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Kintsugi: The Golden Joinery of Love

Sue Cochrane is a former family court judge who sought to bring more love into the practice of law. The forces she battled were not confined to the court room -- among them, poverty, violence, addiction, abuse, a terminal diagnosis and more. In this powerful piece, she explores kintsugi -- a stunning Japanese art form in which broken pottery is repaired by filling the cracks with gold. Kingtsugi, poems, quotes, and books inspire this remarkable individual, "to find healing in a life that for a long time, was not only cracked, but broken apart -- and, in a few places completely shattered." Cochrane tells her story here as a reminder of our shared humanity, our vulnerability, and the capacity we have to heal our brokenness in beautiful ways.

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How to Break Free of Emotional Eating

We can develop a healthier relationship with food and gain more control over what we eat.

By Jill Suttie

Do you have struggles around eating? If you do, you’re not alone. In the United States, millions of people will fit the diagnosis for binge eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Many more have less severe eating issues—such as obsessing over calorie counting or feeling shame when they eat “bad” foods—that wreak havoc on their health and happiness.

Often, people with problematic eating patterns are worried about their weight and attempt to lose weight by cycling through dieting regimens, which often backfire. Even if a diet does result in weight loss, it can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with food and eating.

According to Howard Farkas, a psychologist specializing in emotional eating and the author of a new book, 8 Keys to End Emotional Eating, part of the problem lies in how our minds work against the goal of weight loss.

Our minds respond negatively to deprivation, s…

Don’t Use Authenticity as an Excuse to Be Cruel

Too often, we use "authenticity" to justify bad behavior at work. Here's how to amplify the good in you while minimizing the bad.

By Michael F. Steger

“How do you respond to critics who have pointed out all of the problems of authenticity in organizations?”

We were at the end of a workshop on finding meaning and purpose at work—and the question, from a senior human resources executive, stunned me a bit.

“Can you tell me more?” I asked. “There are problems with authenticity?”

“Oh, yes,” she replied, “It’s a big problem. Loads of hostility and aggression. No company would buy into a meaningful work program if it was going to give rise to authenticity.”

In the conversation that ensued, I discovered that this executive was truly concerned that authenticity was being poisoned. Behind her question, you can almost see the workplace goblins licking their chops, feeling armed with another way to abuse others and slink away with a parting excuse: “Don’t be so sensitive. We’re supposed …

Why We All Need More Awe!

Do we already have the key to healing what divides us? The answer is YES, if only we learn to harness the power of awe! Find out how.

Is there a key to inspiring more kindness, cooperation, and connection in people? As it turns out, the experience of awe might be just the emotion we need to create a better shared future!

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

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Be Love Now

"Imagine feeling more love from someone than you have ever known. You're being loved even more than your mother loved you when you were an infant, more than you were ever loved by your father, your child, or your most intimate lover--anyone...This love is actually part of you; it is always flowing through you. It's like the subatomic texture of the universe, the dark matter that connects everything. When you tune in to that flow, you will feel it in your own heart--not your physical heart or your emotional heart, but your spiritual heart, the place you point to in your chest when you say, 'I am.'" More in this beautiful passage by Ram Dass.

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How We Think About Forgiveness at Different Ages

Children's understanding of forgiving develops as they grow older.

By Robert Enright

If you’ve seen your children struggle to forgive someone for hurting them, you know that forgiveness is complicated. After all, forgiveness is complicated for adults, too. At times, we wonder why we’re trying to forgive someone anyway; later, we might think we’ve forgiven them, only to experience a sudden burst of anger and resentment.

Indeed, my research has found that it takes many years for us to grasp the notion of forgiveness as we grow up. In over 30 years of studying forgiveness, I have interviewed children and adolescents, as well as college students and adults—and found that our understanding of forgiveness evolves over childhood and young adulthood, partly influenced by what we learn from our parents and communities.

Young children are often taught that the proclamation of “I am sorry” followed by the automatic reply of “I forgive you” can solve any conflict. This may be because we as parent…

How to Trick Your Mind into Making Fair Decisions

We are more likely to make choices for the greater good when we assume a “veil of ignorance,” a new study suggests.

By Jill Suttie

We all face difficult moral choices, benefitting some people over others. Do we give money to a homeless person we pass on the street or save it for a homeless shelter? Should we support regulations that reduce carbon emissions and improve the environment for future generations, even if that might hurt some people’s livelihoods today?

These decisions can often be influenced by psychological biases. For instance, we tend to show more kindness toward people who we see as part of our “tribe,” which can make us act unfairly toward members of other groups. Or we might support policies that we think will be good for us, even if they won’t be good for many other people.

How can we make better, less biased decisions? A new study points to one solution: a mental trick called a “veil of ignorance.”

Philosophers have long argued that when we approach tough moral decisions…

The Deep Heart

"John Prendergast is a retired psychology professor, spiritual teacher, and the author of books such as 'In Touch' and 'Listening from the Heart of Silence.' His new book is titled 'The Deep Heart: Our Portal to Presence.' In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with John about subtle and sublime experiences of the heart. John comments on the childhood wounding that often leads to a fear of vulnerability and a general alienation from the heart's true voice. John and Tami also talk about seeking answers through the heart rather than the mind, as well as the spiritual dimensions one explores while doing so. Finally, they discuss how to crack the armored shell caused by wounding and how you can deal skillfully with the pain of living in an uncertain, often dismaying world."

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