Proof Positive

Love on the Beach

Love, like all emotions, surfaces like a distinct and fast-moving weather pattern, a subtle and ever-shifting force. ~Barbara Fredrickson, Love 2.0

The summer is ending and it is morning on the boardwalk. It is as perfect of a morning as there is going to be.

An elderly couple walks past me and find, what I assume to be their usual spot on the boardwalk. They are nuzzled up to the railing overlooking the beach. Each are carrying their provisions. He has his chair, a newspaper and a small neon blue and silver insulated lunchbox. She carries two small sun umbrellas, her chair, and an identical cooler.
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Brain and Behavior

Is the Cure for the Common Cold Within Reach?

Handshakes, High Fives, Fist Bumps, And Hugs
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” - Virginia Satir
In 2008 Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, gave each other a fist bump after a well-received campaign speech in Minnesota. The gesture went viral. It became the new handshake. Now, according to some, it may be trending as a health initiative.
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Inspiration & Hope

Moral Intuition and the Kindness of Strangers

She was dressed in a mink coat and oversized full fur Russian hat. Her Jimmy Choo boots and all black pantsuit seemed out of place in New York’s Penn Station. Plus, she was wheeling behind her an oversized Louis Vuitton travel bag. Even for New York she seemed too intense.

She might have been fifty years old, but her exact age was disguised, buried under impenetrable makeup and dark lipstick. She had style -- but lacked grace. She seemed to be on a mission -- somehow in a hurry to take a trip she didn’t want to take.

The escalator leading down to the train platform had a long line of passengers eager to board. Some with bags -- some with brief cases -- each looking to go home or get away.
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Aging

Love is a Verb: Findings from the Longest Study on Happiness

For decades psychology as a science studied the flaws in human beings. Depression, anxiety and mental illness research and treatment protocols dominated the journals. Looking for causes and treatments, scientists sought to find ways to alleviate suffering for the populace. In spite of all the advances and success, one truth remained: Not being depressed isn’t the same as being happy.

Nonetheless, since 1938 researchers at Harvard have been collecting data about 724 men. The study followed two groups of men for 75 years. Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant began the study of 268 Harvard sophomores, while law school professor Sheldon Glueck studied 456 12- to 16-year-old boys who grew up in inner city Boston.

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Brain and Behavior

Are You A Mystic? A Call To Participate In Mystics Anonymous

Traditional doctors say I'm a mystic.  I don't deny it. ~Bernie Siegel
On August 1 and 2, 2009 I had an extraordinary experience while sitting on a beach. It was as though I was having a low-grade seizure. I vibrated as if I were somehow a piano, guitar, or violin string being tuned to a tuning fork. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was by no means a joyous event. I couldn’t stop, not could I explain the quivering. I sat on the edge of the beach and watched the rhythmic waves of the ocean slap the shore.

I didn’t know exactly what was happening, but I knew it was extraordinary. I was hyperalert -- in awe -- being nudged into a type of anticipatory readiness.
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Friends

Friendship Day: Be the Friend You Would Like to Have

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me. ~ Henry Ford

In 1935, the U.S. Congress declared the first Sunday in August a holiday to honor friendship. This year it is Sunday, August 2nd.

To celebrate the occasion I wanted to honor my best friend, Joel Morgovsky. Yes, that’s us over the past 35 years — and he just had a birthday, a milestone at that. The observance gave me pause for thought about the length of our friendship and the love — there is no better word for it — for each other.

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Brain and Behavior

The Yes-And Rule and Confessions of a Wannabe Giver

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full -- Luke 6:38

When I read Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take, I was impressed by the simplicity and novelty of the idea. He contends that there are three types of people, givers, takers, and matchers. The givers that do the best find ways of giving that are gracious and not depleting, yet they don’t worry about getting something back from the source they gave to. They give with the full belief that their giving comes back to them, almost in a karmic fashion, through other channels.

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Brain and Behavior

Three Things that Help Children Succeed

A child today spends more than six hours a day in front of an electronic screen -- an average of nearly 45 hours a week. To put this in perspective, your child may be spending more time in front of screens than they would at a full-time job. In fact, they spend more time with electronic screens than they do in school, or engaged with any other activity except for sleep. Yet, screen time is even beginning to eclipse sleeptime.

A recent study found that the social demands that put adolescents in front of electronic screens are highest in the evenings -- particularly in front of computers and cell phones with their friends. This causes them to lose much-needed sleep. Teens who were more active in the evenings were not only at greater risk for insomnia or depression, but also for other anxiety-related disorders such as social phobia, separation anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
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General

What Do Therapists Think About Before Your Session?

Ever wonder what your therapist is thinking about before he or she works with you? Are their thoughts focused on techniques? Are they reviewing your issues? Theirs? Is therapy more effective depending on these thoughts?

There is an intriguing research that points to better therapy outcome when the therapist thinks about something very specific: Your strengths.

Researcher Christopher Fluckiger has shown that resource priming -- contemplating a client’s strengths prior to conducting therapy -- results in the client responding with resource activation (using more of their strengths during the session).

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Anxiety and Panic

Why We Worry and What to Do About It


Don't believe that worrying will solve or help anything. It won't. So, stop it.

- John Alonzo, 83, from the Cornell Legacy Project
I was at a New York City diner recently and overheard two young women talking. One was telling her friend how anxious she was about her classes and her job. She was worried that she wasn’t going to do well in her statistics course, and layoffs at work.

Her friend asked about her new boyfriend, her upcoming vacation, and the beautiful coat she’d received as a birthday present from her parents. Each good thing got a one-sentence response, and then the conversation slid right back into the anxieties about work and school. Each attempt at giving the good things a chance to flourish was met with a return to the topics of worry and concern.

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Brain and Behavior

3 Rules for a Positive Transformation

Things do not change; we change.
- Henry David Thoreau
At the core of positive psychology is the research on intentional activities. The effectiveness of deliberate positive interventions has created a platform from which many people are transforming their lives for the better. Purposeful, conscious activities -- such as committing acts of kindness, expressing gratitude, and reviewing the good things happening in your day -- have an additive effect. The more we do, the better we feel, and the more we seek intentional activities to supplement these good feelings.

Barbara Fredrickson, one of the leading researchers in the field, coined this progression "broaden and build." Intentional activities run the gamut: meditation, exercise, expressive writing, or the proverbial "count your blessings." Researchers and applied practitioners are constantly seeking new interventions to add to our emotional piggybank.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Are New Treatments for Depression Right Under Our Nose?


“The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.” - Edith Wharton
Yogic breathing, a phone app, and laughing gas may be some of the best new remedies for depression.

Some interesting pilot studies in 2014 are providing hope for the future of depression. Curiously, these new possibilities all involve the mouth and nose. Breathing a certain way, speaking a certain way, and inhaling nitrous oxide all may have potential in reducing symptoms and breaking the cycle of depression.

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