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Tue, 26 Mar 2019
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Actively religious people are happier than those who don't participate in a faith

Religion happiness

More than a third of actively religious adults in the US (36 percent) described themselves as ‘very happy’ in the surveys, compared to a quarter of both inactive and unaffiliated Americans.
People who actively practice a religion may be happier than the rest, according to a new study.

A Pew Research study analyzed survey data from more than two dozen countries to compare the self-reported lifestyles of religious and non-religious people.

Overall, the researchers found actively religious people tend to be happier, though they aren't necessarily healthier in terms of exercise or obesity rates.

While the link between religion and health may not have been so clear, the findings on self-reported happiness are 'striking,' the researchers say.

The study broke religious participation down to three categories are: Actively religious (regular participation), 'inactively religious' (claim a religious but attend services infrequently), and 'religiously unaffiliated' (people who do not identify with any religion).

More than a third of actively religious adults in the US (36 percent) described themselves as 'very happy' in the surveys, compared to a quarter of both inactive and unaffiliated Americans.

Comment: From Christian faith to nihilistic void:
Christianity introduced a sense of wonder and gratitude. The world and life were a miracle, a gift from God. Respect and awe towards creation inspired people, led them to respect and emulate it.

For the materialist, the world is a boring thing. The cosmos is a giant clockwork, life is a series of biochemical reactions. A tree is nothing but a bunch of chlorophyll-producing cells. Materialists are bored by the world because they are oblivious to it and its true nature. They don't see its magic, its harmony. They've lost any sense of wonder, curiosity or gratitude.


The Transcendental Treasure of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Flies in The Face of Materialism And Postmodernism

Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer
© Wikimedia Common
Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer
If you want to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, I'd like to suggest that you spend some time in meditation on truth, beauty, and goodness. They each represent gifts to us, things that make life possible, intelligible, and worth living. They are such essential qualities that we call them transcendentals. They transcend our everyday knowledge and point toward a source that is at least capable of truth, beauty, and goodness.

Why do we value them?
  1. They are the foundations on which a life worth living is built.
  2. They enable discovery, creation, and nurturing of others.
  3. They are not wishful thinking.
  4. They are transformative.
  5. They are indicators that the world is rich, purposeful, and meaningful.
  6. They are the product of a designer who knows truth, beauty, and goodness.

Comment: How we think - and what we value - provides food for the soul just as surely as what we eat nourishes the body, or not.


How can we unlearn the fear that affects us negatively?

overcoming fear
Imagination is a wonderful thing. Emotions are often a result of the mind telling us stories without our direction over the outcome. When we imagine any fear repeatedly in a safe environment, soon our phobia, and our brain's response to it, begins to subside.

That's the takeaway of a new brain imaging study led by CU Boulder and Icahn School of Medicine researchers, suggesting that imagination can be a powerful tool in helping people with fear and anxiety-related disorders overcome them.

"This research confirms that imagination is a neurological reality that can impact our brains and bodies in ways that matter for our wellbeing," said Tor Wager, director of the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at CU Boulder and co-senior author of the paper, published in the journal Neuron.

Being afraid of the unknown is not a new concept. From birth to death we've been trained to fear everything for a very long time. The dangers of modern life have a stranglehold on people's imaginations. Sociologists call the phenomenon a risk society, describing cultures increasingly preoccupied with threats to safety, both real and perceived, but most definitely imagined.

Comment: See also:


Study shows people are strongly influenced by gossip even when it is explicitly untrustworthy

© master1305
New research in the journal Emotion suggests that people are highly influenced by gossip, even when it is explicitly identified as untrustworthy. The findings indicate that qualifiers such as "allegedly" do little to temper the effects of negative information on a person's likeability.

"Words and phrases like 'apparently', 'allegedly' or 'is suspected of' are frequently used in daily communication, in social media and in media coverage about people, in order to signify the questionable veracity of information. These terms even serve a legal purpose and are intended to prevent false accusations, prejudgments and defamations," said study author Julia Baum of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Berlin School of Mind and Brain.

"Until now, however, little has been known about how our brain processes verbally communicated person-related information of dubious reliability and how this affects our judgments. Do we consider the uncertainty of information in order to temper our judgment about a person, formed on the basis of negative statements, and to prevent misjudgements?"

In two experiments, with 56 German participants in total, the researchers found that the judgment of people was strongly influenced by positive or negative information, even if that information was presented as uncertain.

Comment: Here we see how the mainstream media doesn't need 'facts' to convince people of their narrative. Most pieces now are written with the express purpose of appealing to one's emotions. And whether or not 'allegedly' is used in the statement, they've already made up their mind. See also: Gossip more powerful than facts in shaping opinion: study


Benefits of garden-based learning for children

© The Conversation
The time you spend in the garden with your children is invaluable.

If you have children or work with children, then you probably have noticed that hands-on experiences help them make connections to the lessons they are learning. This is especially true when the lesson involves something you enjoy or have made a hobby out of, such as gardening. Hands-on learning experiences surround us if we take the time to look, and educational opportunities abound with a little ingenuity to turn daily tasks into lessons.

Help your children establish a sense of responsibility surrounding planning, caring for, and harvesting their own gardens. Older children can even get in on the spacial awareness, science, and finances behind it all. These lessons easily transfer to a larger picture: namely, how their own responsibilities and care of something living is integral to their attention to personal moral values as they grow.

Comment: Read more about the benefits of gardening for any age!

Red Flag

The new APA guidelines: A symbolic castration of men?

teen boy
The anthropologist Margaret Mead famously quipped that a fundamental challenge for any culture is what to do with the young men. Without guidance, young men can become violent and destructive. In every society of which we have substantial knowledge, men are more likely than women to commit violent crimes.

This male/female disparity appears to hold not only across all known human cultures but across the primate order as well. Male chimpanzees engage in violence much more often than female chimpanzees do, and the male/female disparity in violence is larger among chimpanzees than among humans. For example, Jane Goodall and her colleagues found that adolescent male chimpanzees often kill and eat monkeys; adolescent female chimpanzees almost never kill monkeys, preferring a more vegetarian diet.

In the classroom, girls are more likely to seek to please the adult; boys are more likely to disregard or defy the adult. Again, this female/male disparity has been widely documented not only among humans but among chimpanzees in the wild as well. There is a growing disparity in academic achievement, with American boys falling behind their sisters. As a practicing family doctor, and also as a veteran of visits to more than 400 schools over the past 18 years, I have observed that many boys care more about getting to the next level in their video game than about doing well in school and pleasing the teacher. I recently wrote about a boy who stayed up till 3 AM on a school night playing video games. He refused to go to school the following morning, preferring to sleep in. His mother called 911 to ask the police to get her son out of bed. I have never encountered a girl who stayed up till 3 AM playing video games and refused to go to school the next day.

Comment: See also:


The 'silent treatment' is a sign of an unhealthy relationship

silent treatment
Communication is one of the most important factors in any healthy relationship - whether it's with family, friends, loved ones, coworkers, bosses, or whomever. And much of the social conflict we experience in our lives is due to some type of miscommunication or lack of communication.

One study published in the journal Personal Relationships has identified one pattern that's common in most negative and toxic relationships.

Psychologists looked at over 100 married couples in the U.S. and had them keep diary reports of the status of their marriage and current marital conflicts. The participants also rated their individual depressive symptoms. By analyzing these reports, researchers discovered that a "demand-withdraw" pattern was one of the biggest predictors of marital dissatisfaction and symptoms of spousal depression.

A "demand-withdraw" pattern is when one individual attempts to "demand" a change from their partner, and the partner "withdraws" from the conflict by walking away, being silent, or pretending to ignore the other person.

Both types of behaviors can be damaging toward a relationship: 1) Trying to force someone to make a change, and 2) Not communicating with your partner.

One of the most popular examples of this type of communication style is the "silent treatment." This is when someone tries to express that they are mad by completely cutting off any communication with the other person: no verbal responses, no answering phone calls, no text messages, no eye contact, etc.

Comment: See also:Two relationship patterns that are most harmful to couples


Is DNA to blame? Should killers with a violence gene get lighter sentences?

Violent Genes
© grandeduc/iStock/Getty Images Plus
In 2015, Anthony Blas Yepez was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison after killing George Ortiz, his girlfriend's step-grandfather.

Three years prior, Yepez and his girlfriend were living with Ortiz when, according to testimony, Ortiz hit Yepez's girlfriend in the face. Yepez says he isn't sure what happened next but that he "must have blacked out." When he came to, he was on top of Ortiz, who was bleeding and appeared to be dead. Yepez and his girlfriend then poured cooking oil on the victim, lit him on fire, and fled the scene in Ortiz's car.

Now, Yepez's lawyer, Helen Bennett, is seeking a retrial for her client - and she's relying on an unusual argument: that Yepez is genetically inclined to act violently due to the "warrior gene."

Specifically, Bennett is arguing that Yepez has low levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). Some research implies that people with low MAOA do not regulate chemicals in the brain properly, which can result in abnormal aggression. Later this year, the New Mexico Supreme Court is expected to review the case.
"Now is the time for courts to begin to analyze this intersection between science and law."
According to Bennett, Yepez has low MAOA levels and suffered abuse in childhood. (Some evidence suggests that childhood trauma combined with low MAOA can lead to antisocial problems.)

"Under certain circumstances with people with a certain genetic makeup who have had experiences of abuse or trauma in their childhood, their free will can be overrun by this impulse to violence," Bennett tells Medium.

It's not the first time Bennett has attempted this argument for Yepez. In 2015, she tried to introduce the warrior gene theory into case evidence, but the judge at the time rejected it. Bennett is hoping for a second shot.

"Now is the time for courts to begin to analyze this intersection between science and law," she says. "As science envelops and touches upon so many aspects of our society, it's really incumbent upon the courts to engage in this consideration."

Comment: For more on this, see these articles:


Yes, the rich and famous actually are quite narcissistic

rich and famous
Have you ever wondered whether those who inhabit the ethereal world of the truly wealthy are, at their core, narcissistic? Does it seem that the ability to satisfy your every whim, to have well-paid staff wait on you hand and foot, and to socialize with other high-flyers can make almost anyone become unduly self-centered and entitled? Imagine yourself being able to walk into a room and immediately draw the attention of all who want to impress you. Consider what it would be like to have personal shoppers come to you with a panoply of expensive designer clothes and jewelry and you don't even have to peek at the price tag. Someone is hired to come every day to freshen your appearance and you have personal trainers who inspect every muscle as you enter your in-home gym. If you're not just rich but famous, imagine that your every move is followed and reported in the media by reporters and photographers. You read about yourself daily in the musings of the celebrity press, and your social media following is flourishing.


Proper breathing brings better health

© Ruslan Ivanov Getty Images
Breathing is like solar energy for powering relaxation: it’s a way to regulate emotions that is free, always accessible, inexhaustible and easy to use.
As newborns, we enter the world by inhaling. In leaving, we exhale. (In fact, in many languages the word "exhale" is synonymous with "dying.") Breathing is so central to life that it is no wonder humankind long ago noted its value not only to survival but to the functioning of the body and mind and began controlling it to improve well-being.

As early as the first millennium B.C., both the Tao religion of China and Hinduism placed importance on a "vital principle" that flows through the body, a kind of energy or internal breath, and viewed respiration as one of its manifestations. The Chinese call this energy qi, and Hindus call it prana (one of the key concepts of yoga).

A little later, in the West, the Greek term pneuma and the Hebrew term rûah referred both to the breath and to the divine presence. In Latin languages, spiritus is at the root of both "spirit" and "respiration."

Comment: The Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program is an easy to practice breathing and meditation technique. Stimulate your polyvagal system and breath your way to better health with the Éiriú Eolas program!