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Thu, 19 Oct 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


8 science supported reasons why writing is an excellent health-hack

Did you know that writing about pain can actually have a positive effect on your immune system?
A series of studies have shown that people who take the time to write down traumatic events in their life not only feel better, but actually physically become better, too.

Studies show that writing down your pain actually has a positive effect on your immune system. Not only that, it can help with the healing process.

In the following article, we will look at the science behind how the cathartic properties of writing works, as well as some ways to help you get motivated to write.

Pennebaker's Discovery

The positive physical effects of writing on the body were first noticed by James Pennebaker in 1986, who was then the chair of the psychology department at Southern Methodist University.

Comment: More on the benefits of writing:


Talking to your dog is good for your health

I love long walks along the beach and talking about the meaning of life.
Dogs are pretty special creatures. For one thing, they are totally adorable. It's pretty much impossible to look at a puppy and not feel your insides turn to shmoosh. If you can, you should probably get yourself to a doctor, like ASAP, because your heart isn't working properly.

Puppies are also brilliant conversation starters. When meeting new people, there's no greater way to form an instant bond than by exchanging animal photos. Awkward social function? Dog pics are sure to ease the tension. Token single person at a friend's baby shower? Find a way to work your fur baby into every conversation. Angry boss? Kill them with puppy cuteness. If you are unable to bond with someone over mutual animal obsession, they are probably a robot. Abort mission. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

Puppies are also way better than partners when it comes to basically everything. They are always happy to see you, never critique your cooking skills, make great exercise buddies and don't screen your calls. They are also great listeners. You can pour your heart out to them and know that when you're done - instead of offering judgment or unsolicited life advice - all you're going to get is a wagging tail and a lot lotta puppy love.

Light Saber

Self-transcendence: The art of achieving seemingly impossible goals by focusing on a purpose greater than yourself

Want to become your best self? Then stop thinking about yourself so much
In July 2011, I was crawling down the aisle of a plane on my hands and knees while passengers screamed around me. We were on a flight from Spain to the US, and we thought our number was up.

The plane had hit a bout of extreme turbulence just as I'd left the restroom, causing the aircraft to shake violently. Nearby flight attendants were also slammed to the ground. The lights flickered, and food trays flew across the aisles.

I was frozen with panic; I felt as if I were watching the entire episode happen from outside my body. It was, without a doubt, one of the most surreal and terrifying moments I've experienced to date. Then two young women in the back of the aisle began to sob hysterically. "Please! I don't want to die!" one said.

Without thinking, I lifted myself from the floor of the plane and took their hands into my own icy palms. In a firm, calm voice, I told them that everything would be okay. And I kept saying that until the plane stopped shaking.


How laughter brings us together

Victor Borge once wrote, "Laughter is the closest distance between two people." Many of us would probably agree that laughter brings us closer to others, whether we're joking with our spouse or laughing with an audience at a comedy club.

Yet laughter isn't always positive for relationships. Think of your friend laughing at your embarrassing fashion faux pas, or a boyfriend laughing at a comedian you find offensive. This kind of unshared laughter can have the opposite effect.

Now, a new study explores when laughter works as a social glue—and when it doesn't. While all genuine laughter may help us to feel good, shared laughter may communicate to others that we have a similar worldview, which strengthens our relationships.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, devised a way to produce shared laughter in the lab, to measure experimentally how it might impact a relationship with a stranger.

Mr. Potato

"We're giving our kids bad advice about how to succeed in life" -- A leading happiness researcher

© AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty
Most kids could use some more time to do nothing.
Most parents want their kids to be successful in life—and so we teach them attitudes that we believe will help them achieve their goals. But as I learned while researching my book The Happiness Track, many widely-held theories about what it takes to be successful are proving to be counterproductive.

Sure, they may produce results in the short term. But eventually, they lead to burnout and—get this—less success. Here are a few of the most damaging things many of us are currently teaching our children about success, and what to teach them instead.

Snow Globe

Cognitive bias and the links between intelligence and prejudice

© Pixabay/CC BY SA
Human judgement often becomes less accurate when we train it on ourselves. Self appraisals commonly flatter our strengths and minimise our weaknesses. The average man overstates his height by 1.2cm and the average woman understates her weight by 1.4kg.

Judgements of our bodily dimensions may be prone to distortion but they are constrained by the brute facts of physical reality. A short person cannot claim to be tall without losing credibility.

However, when we judge our psychological characteristics we are not constrained in the same way. We may be remarkably inaccurate in our self assessments, as if we were observing our mental capacities in a fun-house mirror.

Self-assessed intelligence

These judgement biases have been studied in assessments of general cognitive ability or intelligence. Intelligence can be assessed formally using psychometric tests but it can also be informally estimated. Researchers have examined whether people's estimates of their intelligence accurately reflect their psychometric intelligence.

Comment: See also: 58 cognitive biases that screw up everything we do

Wine n Glass

Twenty things people notice when they quit the booze

Of all the culturally conditioned behaviors we've mindlessly adopted, alcoholism is one of the most curious. We know it is highly detrimental to personal health and that it directly contributes to myriad societal problems including violence and drunk driving. We also know that the alcohol industry is exceptionally lucrative while at the same time the police state uses this addiction to extend their authority.

Some argue that alcoholism is a spiritual disease, and that the consumption of 'spirits' is a means of giving the self up to our inner demons. Dr. Gabor Maté sees alcoholism as a means of covering up personal trauma and emotional pain, yet even without getting too deep into this it's easy to see that abstaining from booze has some pretty incredible benefits for those seeking better health and greater awareness in life.

But what do dedicated social drinkers and outright alcoholics see when they give up 'spirits,' as they are called, and what can the observations from newly sober people tell us about the sicknesses running rampant in our society? What can we learn from them about the conditioned



When is stress good for you?

© Photo by Paul Furborough/EyeEm/Getty
Breaking point.
The subtle flows and toxic hits of stress get under the skin, making and breaking the body and brain over a lifetime.

Stress pervades our lives. We become anxious when we hear of violence, chaos or discord. And, in our relatively secure world, the pace of life and its demands often lead us to feel that there is too much to do in too little time. This disrupts our natural biological rhythms and encourages unhealthy behaviours, such as eating too much of the wrong things, neglecting exercise and missing out on sleep.

Comment: Face life with Éiriú Eolas, a stress relief program

Apple Red

The Devouring Mother: Understanding the psychological archetypes of consciousness

The following is a talk hosted by Theryn Meyer in Vancouver with Dr. Jordan B. Peterson on the topic of the devouring mother. While this might seem like some obscure psychological discussion, with no bearing on your personal reality, I can assure you nothing could be further from the truth. The human psyche is fundamentally the same, at its core level, which means that people tend to act in similar ways given certain conditions—this is the basis for social engineering and propaganda. Insofar as this topic is concerned, the devouring mother is something almost everyone faces in their lives and has played a major role in shaping the world for millennia.

From a psychological perspective, war and the lust for it is driven by a deep need for social acceptance. In society this comes in the form of the motherland, who demands of her children-citizens that they honor their obligations to the state, one of which being the need to go to war so as to prove one's worth to society.

Comment: If you'd like to see a real-life example of the 'devouring mother' archetype in action through a single person, read this article:


New research shows PTSD might physically change the brain

Post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health condition triggered by witnessing or living through a traumatic event, is linked to a host of emotional side effects, including anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares. Now, new research indicates PTSD might physically change the brain, too.

Researchers at University of California San Diego Health took brain scans of 89 former or current military members with mild traumatic brain injuries, and used a symptom scale to identify 29 of those individuals as having significant PTSD. After measuring the participants' brains, the researchers found individuals with PTSD had a larger amygdala, which is the region of the brain associated with controlling emotions, including fear.

"It could be that individuals prone to PTSD symptoms after a head injury have a larger amygdala to begin with, that they have a brain primed to respond to fear and startle reflexes in an exaggerated fashion," Dr. Douglas Chang, study author, professor and chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation service at UC San Diego Health, told HuffPost.

"Or these results could be the result of neuroplasticity, of a brain reaction to fear conditions resulting in growth of the neural networks of the amygdala fear processing organ."