Science of the Spirit


People can draw energy from each other - the same as plants do

A biological research team at Bielefeld University has made a groundbreaking discovery showing that plants can draw an alternative source of energy from other plants. This finding could also have a major impact on the future of bioenergy eventually providing the evidence to show that people draw energy from others in much the same way. Members of Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse's biological research team have confirmed for the first time that a plant, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, not only engages in photosynthesis, but also has an alternative source of energy: it can draw it from other plants.

The research findings were released this week in the online journal Nature Communications published by the renowned journal Nature. Flowers need water and light to grow and people are no different. Our physical bodies are like sponges, soaking up the environment.
"This is exactly why there are certain people who feel uncomfortable in specific group settings where there is a mix of energy and emotions," said psychologist and energy healer Dr. Olivia Bader-Lee.
Plants engage in the photosynthesis of carbon dioxide, water, and light. In a series of experiments, Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse and his team cultivated the microscopically small green alga species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and observed that when faced with a shortage of energy, these single-cell plants can draw energy from neighboring vegetable cellulose instead.

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Three inner virtues which unexpectedly come with age

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On top of wisdom, there are three inner virtues which unexpectedly come with age.

People become more trusting as they get older, a new study finds.

This is just the reverse of the stereotype of cynical, suspicious, grumpy seniors played on by many a sitcom.

And trust is not the only inner virtue that comes with age.

Dr Claudia Haase, one of the study's authors, said that greater trust may lead to more happiness with age:
"When we think of old age, we often think of decline and loss.

But a growing body of research shows that some things actually get better as we age.

Our new findings show that trust increases as people get older and, moreover, that people who trust more are also more likely to experience increases in happiness over time."
On top of greater trust and happiness, people often experience more optimism with age.

Dr Haase said:
"We know that older people are more likely to look at the bright side of things.

As we age, we may be more likely to see the best in other people and forgive the little let-downs that got us so wary when we were younger."
The conclusions come from two groups of people, one huge sample of almost 200,000 people from 83 countries.


My husband convinced me I was insane


Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in "Gaslight"
The writer didn't know what "gaslighting" was, until it happened to her. Here's how a loved one's lies and manipulation can make you believe you are crazy—and potentially drive you to the brink.

An envelope arrived at my house. My heart sank—I just knew what I was about to see: photos of one of my rock-star husband's groupies. I'd suspected for some time that something was up between the two of them. I tried to believe him when he insisted he was faithful. But, c'mon now, what constantly touring musician didn't indulge in extramarital affairs?

Naturally, I opened the package to find photos that indicated she'd spent five days with my husband. When I confronted him—and this wasn't the first time I had—he'd insisted he only saw her once, at a show.


The art of developing patience

Many of us have a problem with patience. That is, we lack it. We might be impatient in all areas of our lives. Or we might get impatient in certain situations.

We might get impatient while waiting in line at the store, or sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Or waiting for an email to arrive in our inbox. Or hearing back from a potential employer.

Of course, the pace of our world doesn't help with cultivating patience. Our society's tempo is rapid-fire. We press "send" on an email, and it works in seconds (and how annoyed do you get if it takes a few seconds longer to actually send?). Our food comes with a time guarantee, or it's free.

We're able to walk into a grocery store, walk through any aisle and grab exactly what we need (without waiting hours in line only to find that the item sold out hours ago).

You probably know that being impatient isn't helpful or healthy. When we try to speed things up, we only get worked up and stress ourselves out. Which affects everything from ruining a good meal to pushing people away, said Casey Radle, LPC, a therapist who specializes in anxiety, depression and self-esteem at Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, Texas.


Study finds depression distorts people's perception of time

Most people experience differences in how time is perceived, with or without depression.

For example, 10 minutes in the dentist's waiting-room can seem like an hour.

While an enjoyable conversation with a good friend can pass in the blink of an eye.

What a new study finds, though, is that depressed people have a general feeling that time is passing more slowly, or even that it has stopped.

Dr. Daniel Oberfeld-Twistel, one of the study's authors, said:
"Psychiatrists and psychologists in hospitals and private practices repeatedly report that depressed patients feel that time only creeps forward slowly or is passing in slow motion.

The results of our analysis confirm that this is indeed the case."
The strange part is what happens when people with depression are asked to judge intervals of time.

For example, they are asked to watch a movie and estimate its length.

Or they are asked to press a button after five seconds has passed.

Comment: See also:

Distortion of time perception from emotions offset by sense of control


How the touch of others makes us who we are

© colormetwentysomthing
Not only does touch seem to signal trust and cooperation, it creates them. Our sense of touch does much more than help us navigate the world at our fingertips. It is becoming clear that touching each other plays a fundamental role in our lives. It isn't just a sentimental human indulgence, says Francis McGlone at Liverpool John Moores University, UK. "It is a biological necessity."

Touching gives the world an emotional context. It builds trust and promotes teamwork, wins friends and influences people. But that's not all. Beginning in the womb, it may guide the development of regions in our brain that govern social behaviour. It could even give us our sense of self. The touch of others makes us who we are.

Compared to the other senses, however, touch often gets a raw deal. It receives less attention than sight or hearing, say. And yet the skin -- our touch detector -- is our biggest organ. An average-sized man has some 5 or 6 kilograms of it -- roughly the weight of a bowling ball. As well as regulating our temperature and shielding us from infection and injury, our skin is a communication interface with the outside world. And just as we can lose our sight or hearing, we can go touch-blind.


Those who achieve goals do so despite their self-doubt

We often assume that in order to achieve our goals, we need to become more confident. We need to work through our deep-seated self-doubts and then take action. Because then we'll be ready. Then we'll be able to achieve what we want to achieve. We'll feel more secure with ourselves. We'll actually believe in ourselves.

While learning ways to be more confident can be valuable, you don't need to put your goals on hold until you do.

In fact, according to Tara Mohr in Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message, "Self-doubt will always be a part of what we each work with as we take steps to play bigger."

Successful people deal with self-doubt all the time. The people who write bestselling books, give brilliant talks, hold high positions and make breakthroughs in all sorts of ways still feel insecure. They still worry they don't measure up.

Comment: The raging inner critic will undermine us and keep us from achieving the things most important to us, unless we learn to talk back and silence the 'monster'. To learn more about self-critical thinking and perfectionism, listen to the interview with Dr. Aleta Edwards on SOTT Talk Radio. Dr. Edwards is the author of the best-selling e-book Fear of the Abyss: Healing the Wounds of Shame and Perfectionism.


It's not always depression

How can it be that a seemingly depressed person, one who shows clinical symptoms, doesn't respond to antidepressants or psychotherapy? Perhaps because the root of his anguish is something else.

Several years ago a patient named Brian was referred to me. He had suffered for years from an intractable depression for which he had been hospitalized. He had been through cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, supportive therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. He had tried several medication "cocktails," each with a litany of side effects that made them virtually intolerable. They had been ineffective anyway. The next step was electroshock therapy, which Brian did not want.

Comment: Other possible solutions may be journaling and having a supportive network of people that one can feel safe expressing their emotions with.
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The power of vulnerability

Study: Laughter among friends leads to self-disclosure which helps deepen relationships and create trust

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Study: Laughter among friends leads to self-disclosure which helps deepen relationships and create trust

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When people tell each other something intimate, it deepens the relationship. Laughter encourages people to open up and this is the secret to how to make friends, a new study finds. People in the study were more likely to disclose something personal about themselves after laughing together, although they didn't realise it.

Self-disclosure is usually critical to how to make friends, as the study's authors explain:
"Self-disclosure has long been regarded as critical to relationship development and is typically considered as an exchange, where intimacies are traded as a means of deepening and developing relationships.

Indeed, people tend to like those to whom they disclose as well as those who disclose to them, and disclosure intimacy typically increases as relationships develop."
So the study may explain one way that laughter can help people connect.


Why liberals are happier than conservatives

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While conservative say they are happier, it's liberals who act and look happier, according to a new study.

The research questions the modern myth that conservatives are happier than liberals. The key difference in this study is in how happiness was measured.

Professor Peter Ditto, one of the study's authors, explained:
"If you want to know how happy someone is, one way to do it is to just ask them, and this logic has been relied upon heavily in research on subjective well-being.

But another way to think about it is that happy is as happy does, and looking at happiness-related behavior avoids the issue of someone striving to present him- or herself as a happy person."
Liberals look and sound happier

The researchers analysed huge amounts of data from all sorts of sources. They included millions of words from Congressional records of known conservatives and liberals.