Creativity

The Joy of No Sex

Full disclosure: I work in advertising. It's an industry where husky-voiced, hair-flicking women smolder in ads selling cat food and sneakers, and where shirtless hunks flex fuzz-free pecs to sell salad dressing and synthetic butter.

The following viewpoint will therefore get me into trouble, which I’m familiar with.

Here are two commonsense truisms:

While great sex is joyful, lousy sex is not
Happiness is possible without a daily grind (I’m not talking coffee)

Yet for reasons such as the availability heuristic -- a cognitive shortcut that encourages us to think of commonplace examples in our everyday environment when making decisions -- we often overestimate the importance to our well-being of having regular sex. When we pause to think of the world around us, we more often remember non-nude pretzel-like scenarios in which we were happy.
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Children and Teens

Why You Should Support Your Child’s Interests

My 11-year-old son Tommy collects stuffed bananas. You know, stuffed banana plush toys. He found his first one (and all of them, in fact) at the thrift store. This initial stuffed fruit was not just an ordinary banana, it was a stuffed Rastafarian banana complete with dreadlocks.

“What is this?” he asked.

“It’s a Rastafarian banana,” I said with glee.

Needless to say, Tommy had to have it. The price was right -- $3. We bought it and took it home.

This purchase brought on an extensive Internet research project on the Rastafarian religion.
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Books

Psychology Around the Net: May 21, 2016


They're at the tailend of the U.K.'s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) across the pond!

Similar to October's Mental Illness Awareness Week here in the U.S., the U.K.'s MHAW, supported by the Mental Health Foundation, is all about educating people about mental health and helping people learn the importance of taking care of their mental health.

Thus, you'll see some U.K.-related information in this week's post, including news about the royal's latest mental health campaign and new information about psychedelics and depression. Also catch up on the latest about relationships and mental health, strategies for better sleep, and the importance of doing things by yourself.

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Children and Teens

What to Do When You Feel Unmotivated in Your Career (And 3 Ways to Do Your Best Work)

We’ve all faced days at the office where we’re just not feeling motivated. Off days happen to everyone and it’s tough -- if not unrealistic -- to constantly do your best work. There are bound to be times when you procrastinate too much, lack focus, or struggle to start important projects.

You may react by getting down on yourself, wondering where your determination has gone. It can be disappointing to feel like you’re not living up to your aspirations, especially when there’s important work to be done, which there almost always is. Speed, efficiency, and productivity are what drive results, and when our energy doesn’t match our ambition, it can be frustrating.
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Children and Teens

5 Ways to Help Young Kids Communicate Their Emotions

One of the most valuable lessons you can teach your child is to identify and manage their emotions. Doing so shows them that experiencing a range of emotions is normal. Kids who learn healthy ways to express and cope with their emotions show less behavioral problems. They feel more competent and capable.

“Being able to talk about emotions sets the foundation for healthy problem solving and conflict resolution,” said Sarah Leitschuh, LMFT, a psychotherapist who specializes in helping families develop healthy ways to communicate about and cope with emotions. These skills also help kids to maintain healthy relationships right now and as they get older, she said.

Sometimes, however, parents teach or model the opposite to their kids: They inadvertently create a space where a child feels uncomfortable expressing their emotions, Leitschuh said.
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Books

A Cancer Survivor’s Healing Plan

When I last saw my oncologist, he referred me to a counselor about some anxiety and flashbacks. It's one of the free services available to me as an ongoing patient being monitored post-cancer.

I had one appointment, and we had a good talk. He gave me perspective and helped me understand that I already do have a lot of life skills and ways to cope with anxiety as memory flashbacks happen. I just need to breathe through it and wait a few minutes for it to pass. It seems like a grief response, he said, and will get less frequent with time. But it's normal. It's intrusive but not disabling.
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College

The Ladder of Success is Different for Different People

“Welcome to the neighborhood. You will love our cozy cul-de-sac. See you at the annual block party!” the Jones’s pastel invitation coos.

Don’t know the Joneses? In reality, you have known them your entire life.

The Joneses represent homecoming Barbie and Ken, doting college sweethearts, first-time homebuyers, the ascending professional couple, and the glitzy “it” couple living in the tree-shrouded corner home. Which, incidentally, is where you and your family will be mingling awkwardly at the Friday block party.
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Bipolar

Bipolar: What Mania Looks Like for Me

What is a grandiose idea in bipolar disorder? Most people believe that's something like believing you are Jesus or a superhero. I have had bipolar disorder for most of my life and never experienced such feelings. I never understood what it could feel like until recently. I was reading an article one day and started to see a much clearer picture of what it looked like from my perspective.

Like a lot of people with bipolar I disorder, I tend to gravitate toward the manic side of things. I spend a lot of time in a hypomanic state.

I have a very creative side to me. I start projects that I usually don’t finish, and sometimes I talk about household projects that never even get started.
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Anxiety and Panic

An Anxious Comedian Attempts to Talk about It

Being anxious is awful. And one of the worst parts is being too afraid to even talk about it.

Sometimes this reluctance is due to fear of judgment. It's easy to imagine that others will think less of me if I am honest with them about it.

Sometimes it's a more nameless fear. I know it's not rational, but it can feel as if the simple act of talking about anxiety -- of acknowledging its existence -- might somehow make it stronger. Even sharing with a close friend can feel next to impossible.
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Books

7 Creative Shortcuts and Solutions to Simplify Life with Young Kids

Life with kids can feel anything but simple. Things rarely go as planned. You’re exhausted and could sleep for days. You feel like a mess surrounded by a whole lot of mess. Expert advice only makes you feel less-than and like you’re doing everything wrong. Which, naturally, only makes you feel more overwhelmed.

That’s what happened to author Asha Dornfest. Dornfest felt like she was drowning. For help she consulted parenting and productivity books and sampled time management systems, among other things. She assumed that other “more qualified people” would have the answers she needed.

“But expert advice didn’t fix my new life,” she writes in her book
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Brain and Behavior

The Daily Grind

Rise and grind. 5:58 a.m. You jolt up; the blaring alarm clock interrupts the morning stillness. Rousing yourself from your morning stupor, the ritual begins: a glance outside, dry toast with jelly, and a quick part of your thinning hair. Lingering in front of the mirror, your sunken eyes and ashen face stare back. Middle age looms; those carefree university days are receding like your hairline.

Before turning down Reminiscence Road, you remember that you have a 6:45 a.m. bus to catch. Boarding the bus, you nod at the driver and exchange glances with your dreary-eyed workaholics; most are staring into space or mumbling into their phones.

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Brain and Behavior

Understanding the Fascinating World of Dreams

“I was walking down a dark street, whistling and enjoying the darkness. Suddenly, I heard footsteps. Somebody was following me. I tried to run but my legs were cement. I couldn’t budge. I screamed. Nobody heard me. My heart was beating so fast. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do.”

Maria continued: “I woke up in a cold sweat, shaken by the dream and wondered what it meant. I couldn’t figure it out. I have no enemies. There’s nothing that’s scaring me in real life. So, I kind of just tried to get it out of my mind by telling myself it’s just a dream.”

Dreams are mysterious. We’re both fascinated and perplexed by them. When they frighten us, we try to push them aside, saying “it’s just a dream.” Too bad. We can learn a lot from our dreams once we learn to speak their language.
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