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Retail therapy doesn't work: People overestimate the happiness new purchases will bring


People overestimate the happiness new purchases will bring 'Retail therapy' doesn't work for long, even among the most materialistic, study suggests.
They say money can't buy happiness, and a new study suggests that's true for even the most materialistic.

Instead, the study found, these folks seem to be happiest right before they buy a coveted item. Once they have the purchase in hand, their joy fades quickly.

The findings may not be all that surprising, experts say. But the notion that you're a lot happier before a big buy than after - particularly if you're on the more materialistic side - had not been "empirically tested" before, said Brent McFerran, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who was not involved in the new research.

In real life, you might be able to think of times when you've anticipated an important purchase, then felt let down after buying it. But whether you learn from that, and stop putting so much stock in "stuff" is another matter, McFerran said.

Family

No more "empty nest": Middle-aged adults face pressure on both sides

The "empty nest" of past generations, in which the kids are grown up and middle-aged adults have more time to themselves, has been replaced in the United States by a nest that's full - kids who can't leave, can't find a job and aging parents who need more help than ever before.

According to a new study by researchers at Oregon State University, what was once a life stage of new freedoms, options and opportunities has largely disappeared.

An economic recession and tough job market has made it hard on young adults to start their careers and families. At the same time, many older people are living longer, which adds new and unanticipated needs that their children often must step up to assist with.

The end result, researchers suggest, are "empty nest" plans that often have to be put on hold, and a mixed bag of emotions, ranging from joy and "happy-to-help" to uncertainty, frustration and exhaustion.

"We mostly found very positive feelings about adults helping their children in the emerging adulthood stage of life, from around ages 18 to 30," said Karen Hooker, director of the OSU Center for Healthy Aging Research.

"Feelings about helping parents weren't so much negative as just filled with more angst and uncertainty," Hooker said. "As a society we still don't socialize people to expect to be taking on a parent-caring role, even though most of us will at some point in our lives. The average middle-aged couple has more parents than children."

Life Preserver

Meditation for chronic pain relief

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People suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma - in which psychological stress plays a major role - may benefit from mindfulness meditation techniques, according to a study by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction, originally designed for patients with chronic pain, consists of continuously focusing attention on the breath, bodily sensations and mental content while seated, walking or practicing yoga.

A class in stress reduction can be beneficial in many ways, some of which have little to do with mindfulness, according to Melissa Rosenkranz, assistant scientist at the center and lead author on the paper, which was published recently in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. For example, learning to manage stress by engaging in regular physical activity may be therapeutic.

"We wanted to develop an intervention that was meant to produce positive change and compare the mindfulness approach to an intervention that was structurally equivalent," Rosenkranz says.

The study compared two methods of reducing stress: a mindfulness meditation-based approach, and a program designed to enhance health in ways unrelated to mindfulness.

Comment: Benefit right away from conscious breathing and meditation at eebreathe.com.


Info

The "coolest" kids are also the biggest bullies says new study

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A new study from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) revealed that "cool" kids in middle school had a tendency to participate in bullying more than others.

Bullying was defined as either "starting fights or pushing other kids around" or "spreading nasty rumors about other kids." The UCLA psychology study found that bullying could help improve an individual's social status and popularity among middle school students. In addition, students who were already considered popular utilized these forms of bullying.

The researchers believe that the findings of the study, which were recently published in the online edition of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, could help school administrators and anti-bullying programs improve their tactics for eliminating school bullying.

"The ones who are cool bully more, and the ones who bully more are seen as cool," explained the study's lead author Jaana Juvonen, a professor of psychology at UCLA. "What was particularly interesting was that the form of aggression, whether highly visible and clearly confrontational or not, did not matter. Pushing or shoving and gossiping worked the same for boys and girls."

In the project, the researchers observed 1,895 ethnically diverse students from 11 Los Angeles middle schools. The students were dispersed across 99 different classes, with investigators conducting surveys at the start of the seventh grade, the fall of eight grade, and the spring of eight grade. During each of the three surveys, the students filled out questionnaires asking them to name the students who were thought to be the "coolest," the students who usually started fights or pushed other students around, and those who spread mean rumors about other students.

People

School system favors pupils driven by worry and conscientiousness

In one of three studies, Pia Rosander carried out personality tests on 200 pupils in southern Sweden when they entered upper secondary school at 16. Three years later, when they received their final grades, she was able to observe a strong link between personality and grades.

In personality psychology one talks of "the big five" - the five most common personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. These qualities influence how a person behaves and are relatively stable qualities, which means that they do not change greatly over time or in different situations.

One of the traits is clearly associated with high grades: Neuroticism, where pupils are driven by fear and worry, also led to high grades. Contrary to Pia Rosander's hypothesis, openness, or intellectual curiosity, did not lead to high grades.

"We have a school system in Sweden that favours conscientious and fear-driven pupils", says Pia Rosander. "It is not good for psychological well-being in the long term if fear is a driving force. It also prevents in-depth learning, which happens best among the open personality types who are driven by curiosity."

Info

Meditate like a Marine to pump up your mental muscles

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© rodale.com
The moments just before deployment can be highly stressful for those in the military, but a study published in the journal Emotion finds that meditation improved mood and bolstered working memory during this period.

Working memory is the short-term memory system we tap into for managing information, controlling emotions, problem solving, and complex thought - sometimes in crisis situations. You can gain the same benefits when faced with stressful situations, whether planning your wedding, having your first child, preparing to undergo surgery, or getting ready to change jobs, according to lead study author Amishi P. Jha, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Comment: Learn how A Little Meditation Goes a Long Way:

Meditation and Its Benefits
Meditation builds up the brain
Meditation Makes You More Creative
Meditation Better Than Morphine
Brain Scans Reveal Why Meditation Works
Brain Scans Show How Meditation Calms Pain
Meditation Reduces the Emotional Impact of Pain
Meditation As a Form of Mental Exercise to Improve the Brain
Brain Scans Prove Meditation "Effective in Curing Mental Illness"

Confused about which meditation practice to try? Visit the Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program website to about learn more the modern revival of an ancient breathing and meditation program which is being acclaimed around the world as THE TOOL that will help you to:
  • Relax from the stresses of everyday life
  • Gently work your way through past emotional and psychological trauma
  • Release repressed emotions and mental blockages
  • Rejuvenate and Detoxify your body and mind



Magic Wand

Marine Corps studying how mindfulness meditation can benefit troops

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© banoosh.com
Camp Pendelton, California - The U.S. Marine Corps, known for turning out some of the military's toughest warriors, is studying how to make its troops even tougher through meditative practices, yoga-type stretching and exercises based on mindfulness.

Marine Corps officials say they will build a curriculum that would integrate mindfulness-based techniques into their training if they see positive results from a pilot project. Mindfulness is a Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present.

Facing a record suicide rate and thousands of veterans seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress, the military has been searching for ways to reduce strains on service members burdened with more than a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marine Corps officials are testing a series of brain calming exercises called "Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training" that they believe could enhance the performance of troops, who are under mounting pressures from long deployments and looming budget cuts expected to slim down forces.

Comment: Meditation is a tool that can regulate and reduce stress levels in addition to increasing calm and relaxation in the body, mind and spirit. To learn more about the benefits of meditation visit the Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program. Éiriú Eolas is the modern revival of an ancient breathing and meditation program


Music

Playing music may lower blood pressure, improve psychological well-being

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Playwright and poet William Congreve once said that "music has charms to soothe a savage beast". That certainly appears to be true, especially if that beast is a person's blood pressure. A pair of studies has found that playing music may lower people's blood pressure and improve their feeling of well-being.

A recent study conducted by researchers from Leiden University Medical Center examined the effect that music may have on blood pressure. According to the Pacific Standard, the study compared 25 musicians and 28 non-musicians between the ages of 18 and 30 years old.

The groups were matched for height, weight, level of physical activity and caffeine and alcohol consumption.

In fact, the only difference was that the group of musicians - which consisted of three guitarists, four flutists, five singers and six pianists - practiced their instruments over an average of 1.8 hours each day.

Info

Emotional smarts tied to general IQ

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Social abilities and general intelligence may be controlled by the same regions of the brain, new research suggests.
Emotional smarts and general intelligence may be more closely linked than previously thought, new research suggests.

In a group of Vietnam veterans, IQ test results and emotional intelligence, or the ability to perceive, understand and deal with emotion in oneself or in others, were linked. And in brain scans, the same regions of the brain seemed to perform both emotional and cognitive tasks, the study found. The findings were published in the journal Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience.

"Intelligence, to a large extent, does depend on basic cognitive abilities, like attention and perception and memory and language," said study coauthor Aron Barbey, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois, in a statement.

"But it also depends on interacting with other people. We're fundamentally social beings and our understanding not only involves basic cognitive abilities but also involves productively applying those abilities to social situations so that we can navigate the social world and understand others."

In the past, scientists believed that emotional intelligence and general intelligence were distinct, and books and movies are rife with depictions of intellectually brilliant but socially clueless nerds.

Bulb

Researchers map emotional intelligence in the brain

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© L. Brian Stauffer
University of Illinois neuroscience professor Aron Barbey led a study that mapped the brain regions associated with emotional intelligence.
A new study of 152 Vietnam veterans with combat-related brain injuries offers the first detailed map of the brain regions that contribute to emotional intelligence - the ability to process emotional information and navigate the social world.

The study found significant overlap between general intelligence and emotional intelligence, both in terms of behavior and in the brain. Higher scores on general intelligence tests corresponded significantly with higher performance on measures of emotional intelligence, and many of the same brain regions were found to be important to both. (Watch a video about the research.)

The study appears in the journal Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience.

"This was a remarkable group of patients to study, mainly because it allowed us to determine the degree to which damage to specific brain areas was related to impairment in specific aspects of general and emotional intelligence," said study leader Aron K. Barbey, a professor of neuroscience, of psychology and of speech and hearing science at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois.

A previous study led by Barbey mapped the neural basis of general intelligence by analyzing how specific brain injuries (in a larger sample of Vietnam veterans) impaired performance on tests of fundamental cognitive processes.