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Fri, 20 Oct 2017
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Science of the Spirit

Mr. Potato

The epidemic that will destroy America is its permanent state of adolescence

It's clear that America is suffering from an epidemic of arrested emotional development

As a Humanities professor I have had the opportunity to teach psychology and social psychology for more than 20 years. Occasionally the knowledge obtained in these areas allows me analyze and understand social behavior and certain cultural trends. This is one those occasions.

If one is able to observe American society in an objective manner (granted no easy task) it becomes clear that the country is suffering from an epidemic of arrested emotional development (AED). This particular illness is characterized by some combination of: addiction, greed, immaturity, fear, blame, shame, resentments, anger, confusion and suffering. What it means is that the vast majority of Americans are stuck in adolescence exhibiting behavior like lying, negative attitudes, disobedience and disrespect, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and issues of sexuality.

One has only to watch American movies or television shows to get a snapshot of juvenile, puerile, and base comedy characteristic of adolescent humor. It's no accident that 42 year old Jimmy Fallon is essentially the "eternal teenager" performing comedy that mostly includes bathroom humor and gags that are based on and appeal to a silly sense of immaturity. The other darling of late-night shows in America is Stephen Colbert who specializes in insulting public figures in an overtly adolescent display of negative attitude and disrespect.

Comment: Other observers agree with this sobering assessment:


New study shows that expressions of appreciation help alleviate the burdens of spousal caregiving, relieve stress

The fact that spouses often become caregivers for their ailing partners is quite common in American life - and few roles are more stressful.

Yet helping behaviors, which are at the core of caregiving, typically relieve stress, according to Michael Poulin, an associate professor in the University at Buffalo Department of Psychology.

When discussing spousal care, the draining demands of caregiving and the uplifting effects of helping stand in apparent contrast to one another.

But recent research shows that the time caregivers spend actively helping a loved one can improve the caregiver's sense of well-being - and now, Poulin, an expert in empathy, human generosity and stress, is part of a research team that has published a study exploring why that's the case.

Comment: And on the other side of the coin, being thankful and showing gratefulness has its own benefits for those who give such expression:

Making it a habit to be a grateful human being

Irony alert: Ten wonderful things to be grateful for


Man who had near-death experience describes what happens to 'good souls' and 'bad souls' after they die

The man was rescued by lifeguards and resuscitated after nearly drowning.

It's a subject of eternal fascination and perhaps, in spite of all of mankind's scientific advancements, one of life's greatest mysteries.

What happens after death is a topic everyone has an opinion on - and it's an experience which a few people claim they've had.

One man has explained how by being medically "dead" for a few moments, he not only saw there was an afterlife, but also what happened to "good" and "bad" people.

The man revealed on Reddit how he had drowned a year and a half ago, and experienced a sensation like he was travelling in the moments before he was resuscitated by lifeguards.

Comment: While the man's descriptions may be consistent with stereotypical descriptions of "heaven" and "hell", it is interesting to note that some of his experiences have much in common with Rev. G. Vale Owen's book: The Life Beyond the Veil Volumes I-II


Saving your sanity and career: Six toxic relationships to avoid like the plague

© Getty
Most everyone has experienced a relationship that turned toxic. If you have, you know they're a major drain on your energy, productivity, and happiness.

In a new study from Georgetown University, 98% of people reported experiencing toxic behavior at work. The study found that toxic relationships negatively influence employees and their organizations in nine notable ways:
  1. 80% lost work time worrying about the incidents.
  2. 78% said that their commitment to the organization declined.
  3. 66% said that their performance declined.
  4. 63% lost work time avoiding the offender.
  5. 47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work.
  6. 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work.
  7. 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers.
  8. 12% said that they left their job because of it.
  9. 48% intentionally decreased their work effort.

Comment: Further reading:


Been there, done that? Strange signs that your soul may have reincarnated from a past life

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a stranger and felt an instant connection? Have you ever wondered why you're claustrophobic, or have a fear of heights? The answer could stem from a past life. In fact, it's commonly believed that many of our personal characteristics, experiences and even skills are closely linked to another life lived on earth. But how do you know for sure that your soul has reincarnated from a past life? These six signs may prove you likely have.

Reincarnation is the belief that when you die, your soul moves into a new body. Some believe this is an absolute truth, others are skeptical. However, according to psychotherapist Dr. Brian L. Weiss, author of Many Lives, Many Masters and Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, everyone reincarnates.

"I think everybody reincarnates because we have many lessons to learn, lessons about love, compassion, charity, nonviolence, inner peace, patience, etc.," suggests Dr. Weiss. "It would be hard to learn them all in only one life. Also, some people come back voluntarily to help others."

Comment: Further reading:

People 2

Adulting and the disappearance of the American grown-up

The term 'arrested development' comes to mind when pondering the all too often ludicrous behavior of modern adults. It is used to describe people who are stuck in a childlike level of psychological development, unable to grow beyond the behaviors, attitudes and dependencies that mark the pre-adulthood stage of life. Something is holding them back, or something is preventing them from moving forward.

The esteemed author and scholar of mythology, Joseph Campbell, reminds us that in cultures from around the world, the journey from adolescence to adulthood is a big deal, historically marked with ceremony and rites of passage. In this, a young person must confront their greatest fears, overcome them, then integrate themselves into the world as a newly established co-creator, abandoning the roles of dependent and victim.
"The boys are brought up to be in fear of the masks that the men wear in their rituals. These are the gods. These are re the personification of the power and the structure of society. The boy, when he gets to be more than his mother can handle, the men come in with their masks, and they grab the kid, and he thinks he's been taken by the Gods.

The mask represents the power that is shaping the society and that has shaped our world, and now you are a representative of that power." - Joseph Campbell

Comment: The most useful life skills every 20-something should master


Energetic wellness - Simple ways to boost your vitality

Have you ever woken up in the morning and you just feel off? Peculiar and out of balance; like someone is holding your normal self hostage and a stranger has hopped behind the wheel. You get out of bed and your coordination is whacky, perhaps you walk into the wall, or trip over. Then you spill your morning coffee or smoothie, lose the car keys and forget that important work document. While it may sound comical, every so often that kind of day is probably quite familiar to most of us. So what's going on when your body and mind are at odds, nothing seems to work properly, and you feel like everything is conspiring against you?

When we feel our energy is off, it often literally is off. Now this may sound ultra new age, but really it's quite scientific. Everything in the world is made up of energy and vibration. Sometimes things can seem so solid, and so definite, when really if you scratch beneath the surface, a parallel universe is playing out.

Comment: Access your inner shaman: Using the universal life force to heal your body

Black Cat 2

Animal companions: Why do humans talk to animals if they can't understand?

The tendency to converse with dogs, cats, and hamsters ultimately says more about people than it does about their pets.

"Do you think it's weird that I tell Nermal I love her multiple times a day?"

My sister's question was muffled, her face stuffed in the fur of her six-month-old kitten (named for the cat from Garfield). We were sitting in the living room of her apartment and, as always, Nermal was vying for our attention-pawing at our hair, walking along the couch behind us, spreading across our laps and looking up at us with her big, bright eyes. She's almost aggressively cute, and inspires the kind of love that demands to be vocalized. I'd find it weirder if my sister weren't doing so.

People 2

How 'trauma bonding' leads people to stay in abusive relationships

© ian dooley / Unsplash
Those who have never been in an abusive relationship struggle to understand how people remain in one for so long. If somebody was mistreating you, "why did you stick around?" they ask.

For survivors, this can be a really tough question to answer. The lucky ones escape, and stumble upon articles or books that give them the terms to be able to understand what happened to them, and thus describe their experience. Other times, though, this doesn't happen, and people might not even be aware they were in a relationship that could be classed as "abusive."

This is because we are conditioned to believe abuse is always physical. On TV and in films, we see characters who are obviously evil. They are violent to their partners, shout at them aggressively, or even murder them in a fit of rage. While this does happen, it's not a true representation of the abuse many others experience.

According to therapist Shannon Thomas, author of "Healing from Hidden Abuse," psychological abuse is insidious, and it occurs a over time like an IV drip of poison entering your veins.


Accepting negative emotions can make you feel better in the long run

© UC Berkeley photo by Yasmin Anwar and Melani King
Putting on a happy face can take a psychological toll.
Pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat, while embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, according to new UC Berkeley research.

"We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health," said study senior author Iris Mauss, an associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley.

At this point, researchers can only speculate on why accepting your joyless emotions can defuse them, like dark clouds passing swiftly in front of the sun and out of sight.

"Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you're not giving them as much attention," Mauss said. "And perhaps, if you're constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up."

The study, conducted at UC Berkeley and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Denver, Co., metropolitan area.

The results suggest that people who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed.

By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months.

"It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being," said study lead author Brett Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. "People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully."