Science of the Spirit


Mental health habits that bring consistency to our lives, promote wellness and resilience

Parents, teachers, and doctors regularly encourage young people to establish good physical hygiene habits. Here are just a few: Bathe daily. Eat healthy meals. Brush your teeth at least once a day. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom. Clip your toenails before they get too long. These habits become routine after a while.

Most of us probably were not intentionally taught good mental health hygiene habits. These habits also bring consistency to our lives, promote wellness and resilience, and protect us from becoming overwhelmed by mental illness.

While mental health hygiene habits may vary from person to person, it is important to identify those that work best for us and to integrate them into our day — every day — through reminders and practice until they become a routine that we anticipate with pleasure.


How old grows young: Preschools in nursing homes provide new life to elderly residents

Aging can have a lot of issues attached to it: The body is no longer at the top of its game and gravity is slowly but surely drawing the body down to its final resting place. We try not to complain, but Bette Davis probably said it best: Old age is no place for sissies.

As we age, there is also bound to be loss as friends and family age and inevitably cross over. What used to be a huge gathering during holidays and special occasions begins to dwindle, and many will suddenly become part of the nearly 50% of elderly people who feel isolated and alone. Then, when coupled with the physical ailments of aging, which are made worse by feelings of loneliness, emotional issues can turn into a disaster and depression can easily set in.


Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration: The awakening of self-awareness

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This is the third in a series of Sunday posts about Kazimierz Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration, using as a starting point his 1967 book, Personality-Shaping through Positive Disintegration, released in a new edition as paperback and ebook. All otherwise unattributed quotations from Dabrowski in this series are from the 2015 paperback edition. You can also purchase the book as part of a larger collection of Dabrowski's works at Bill Tillier's website

Becoming an Adult

A recent Facebook status by a Millennialgeneration friend caught my attention as I was thinking about this week's topic (he gave his permission to share it here):

Comment: Previous instalments to this series:

2 + 2 = 4

5-year-old "child savant" speaks several languages, solves algebra & has psychic powers

On top of having some incredible skills in language and mathematics, this genius savant, a 5-year-old boy from Los Angeles, is also said to have psychic powers.

Los Angeles, California resident Ramses Sanguino has been diagnosed with autism. He is also being described as a "child savant" since he is able to solve complex mathematical equations and speak several different foreign languages ever since he was young.

The video posted on YouTube by the boy's mother, Nyx Sanguino, shows Ramses speaking Russian at 13 months old, speaking Japanese at the age of 2 and solving complex algebra now at the age of 5.

Comment: See more: Why scientists deny psychic phenomena


Boost kids physical & mental health with outdoor games

You hear it more and more recently, "kids don't play outside anymore." But with a shift towards being indoors instead of out, engaging with technology instead of nature, and sitting instead of moving, what exactly are kids missing out on? Research shows that children's physical and mental health are both taking a toll. Encouraging outside games for kids is important in promoting their health and well being.

Physical Benefits of Active Play

Exercise is as important for kids as it is for adults. Physical activity is important for kids to have healthy bones, good physical fitness, and low levels of inflammation in the body. One study in children 7 to 11 years old, for example, found that breaking up continuous sitting with only 3 minutes of moderate walking every 30 minutes improved insulin functioning.[1] Plus, being active helps kids socially and academically as well. Read more about some of the benefits of physical activity for kids in Active Body, Active Mind: Why Kids Need Recess.

Comment: More reasons to leave no child inside:


Characteristic behaviors of highly creative people

Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process.

Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don't have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works.

And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they're complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. And it's not just a stereotype of the "tortured artist" -- artists really may be more complicated people. Research has suggested that creativity involves the coming together of a multitude of traits, behaviors and social influences in a single person.

Comment: Creativity is not magic, and there's no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It's a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative:

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Surprising ways that shame can be triggered in our lives

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Shame is an insidious emotion that can sabotage our lives, especially when we're unaware of its presence. Shame is like the many-headed mythological hydra. As soon as we lop off one head, two more appear.

We may be unaware of the shame we carry and what triggers it. One way to detect whether shame is contaminating our operating system is if we often get defensive and reactive. Perhaps our partner expresses disappointment that we didn't complete a chore and we immediately think, "Nothing I do is ever enough. I'll never make her happy!" We might defensively respond, "I was just about to do it, you're always on my case!"

Our reactive anger may spring from a fear of losing love and acceptance. We're prey to the fight, flight, freeze response when there is a real or imagined threat to our emotional safety. But another possibility is that a subtle shame is being triggered. Somewhere deep down we might think, "She's right. I did promise to fix the damn faucet and I got distracted by other things." Or, "I'm overwhelmed at work and need time to relax. But if I say this, then I won't appear as the hero I want to be. I'll feel like a failure."

The power of vulnerability

Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. The most primitive human emotion we all feel and the one no one wants to talk about. Shame is believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. It creates feelings of fear, blame and disconnection. It's the fear that something we've done or failed to do, an ideal that we've not lived up to, or a goal that we've not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection. I'm not worthy or good enough for love, belonging, or connection. I'm unlovable. The only people who don't experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection. Here's your choice: Fess up to experiencing shame or admit that you're a sociopath.


Shame needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy. Empathy and shame are on opposite ends of a continuum. Shame results in fear, blame (of self or others), and disconnection. Empathy is cultivated by courage, compassion, and connection, and is the most powerful antidote to shame.
See also: The difficult emotion of shame


Groups motivated toward benefiting others perform better and are more cooperative

When team members are motivated toward promoting the benefits of others, they are higher-performing and stay in their teams for a longer period, according to a new study.

Jasmine Hu, assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, and her colleague Robert Liden of the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted a field study with 67 work teams from six companies in both U.S. and China and a lab study with 124 student teams at Notre Dame.

"Findings from both the field study and lab research showed that the greater motivation to benefit others, the higher the levels of cooperation and viability and the higher the subsequent team performance," Hu said. "These types of teams were also less likely to have members voluntarily leave their teams. Furthermore, we discovered that these positive effects of team motivation to benefit others were stronger the more the tasks required close interaction and higher interdependence among its members."


Let sympathy lead to action

Whenever there is a tragedy somewhere in the world, people tend to react with an outpouring of emotion and sympathy. This a healthy and excellent thing, but oftentimes the sympathetic impulse rises and extinguishes all within the confines of a person's chest and without producing any external effect. Too often we compulsively consume the news the way we consume a book or a movie: as removed spectators who enjoy the drama — the emotions it elicits — for its own sake. (Most people do not think of horror and sympathy as pleasurable, but all intense emotions, when experienced in a situation of safety, offer a certain gratification.) This passivity is understandable — we feel powerless to do anything beyond broadcasting support on social media. But in this we think too narrowly. While it may not be possible to turn our sympathetic feelings into actions that will directly help the victims of tragedies, we should not let this noble impulse — an affirmation of our best humanity — pass by unutilized either.

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Tell-tale signs that you are in a relationship with a narcissist

A Narcissist is someone who after taking the trash out gives the impression he just cleaned the whole house"

Have you ever got the sense that your partner thinks he/she is generally superior to you, or more entitled to things than you are? Does he/she find a host of ways to devalue you or ignore you? Does he/she try to control you? If so, you may be living with a Narcissist.

If you are in a relationship with a Narcissist, it will be a one-way relationship, as he/she is particularly self- absorbed.

Narcissism is considered a spectrum Disorder, which means that there are degrees of manifestation of the characteristics, so a person could have a couple of Narcissistic traits, or have many and be considered to have a full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as defined in the DSMIV, or sit anywhere in between.

Comment: Trying to maintain a relationship with a narcissist is exhausting and futile. The best way to protect yourself from the depredations of narcissists is to learn how to spot them before you become entangled. Learning how to set healthy boundaries by being able to say No to their outrageous demands will make you unpopular with these types of people and could help you escape from a toxic relationship.