Brain and Behavior

7 Habits of Highly Defective People

After you have known people for a while, you realize they are defective. They're cheap, crude, pushy, ignorant, loud, and unattractive. How did this happen? How did people who seemed so elegant and gregarious become the varmint-like creatures you want to avoid? What made them change into the dirty froth of humanity right before your eyes? Believe it or not, science has done some research on this phenomenon.

Highly defective people (HDP) have several common characteristics that reveal themselves over time. Their habits astound and mystify us. They might look different on the outside, but on the inside they are very much alike. They share common attributes that make them a kindred clan. One or two of these traits alone wouldn’t qualify them, but with a cluster of seven, you are in the presence of a HDP. In no particular order, here’s what to look for:

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Would Your Life Be Better if You Owned More Things?

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough. ~ Oprah Winfrey
Materialists are those who have a central life focus on acquiring more things. They often relate their happiness directly to their possessions while declaring these goods as both the main source of life satisfaction and a symbol of their success in life. The answer they give to the above question is a resounding “yes” -- More is always better for the materialist. But does accumulating stuff make them happy?
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Are Antidepressants Enough?

Zinc, exercise, Vitamin D and potential stress busters top the list of new possibilities to supplement the widespread use of antidepressant medicines. The latest research is welcome because antidepressants only work about half the time, and they often come with unwanted side effects, such as low libido, weight gain, and in some cases (believe it or not) depression.
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Brain and Behavior

True Colors: Research Sheds Light On Body Emotions

Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.
~ Pablo Picasso

There is a saying in bodywork that your “issues are in your tissues.”

Now there is some evidence to support this: New research reveals that various emotions, both positive and negative, are felt in different body areas.

A study published on Dec. 31, 2013 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that bodily sensations related to different emotions appear to be a universal phenomena. From an anxious lump in the throat or cold feet, to the excitement and warm feeling of a first kiss or a long hug, our bodies respond to our feelings with physiological fluctuations. While this information isn’t headline news, the fact that these researchers were able to find that this is a universal phenomenon is something of a breakthrough.

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Is Your Diary the Ultimate Self-Help Tool?

If you keep a diary or journal, you are not alone. In fact, in a recent study, 83 percent of girls ages 16-19 are reported to be keeping a diary, and most of them say they keep their highly personal reflections offline. How prevalent is keeping a journal or diary? Google Scholar had over 36,000 entries in 2013 alone on the topic.

You also are in good company.

Presidents George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Harry S. Truman, and writers Lewis Carroll and Virginia Woolf all kept a diary. Then, of course, there are famous ones. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is written about her life in hiding from the Nazis from June 12, 1942 to August 1, 1944 during World War II. The diary was a gift given to her on her 13th birthday, the day she first began writing in it, and is considered to be one of the top books of the 20th century.

Evidence suggests that keeping a journal -- which includes your thoughts about events in your life and how you feel about those events -- can help you cope with the past. It also can help you reach your goals for the future. This is called expressive writing.

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Miracle on 38th Street: Micro-Changes & Majestic Moments in a Philadelphia Cab

“Happiness is when you give the love…” -- Philadelphia cab driver

Elevation results, when the right kind of tone and the right kind of emotions, with the right kind of rhythm and respect, become integrated with the right kind of themes to form a vibrant life-philosophical line of thought. -- Finnish practical philosopher Esa Saarinen

“Don’t get out; it’s too cold,” I told the cabbie. “Just pop the trunk.”

He did. I put my bags in the back and slid into the cab. “38th and Walnut, please.”

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How Much Grit Have You Got? Duckworth Will Help You Find Out

"Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backwards, or sideways." — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Angela Duckworth operates the Duckworth Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, which studies the interplay between grit and self-control. According to the website: "Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and...
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A Close Encounter with Thich Nhat Hanh

I was eating my California wrap outside at a local coffee shop in Boston when without reason I began to weep. Tears began rolling down my face, which made me feel as if I were sitting in a steady rain. It was as if my eyes had suddenly sprung a leak or a nearby sprinkler had found me.

Initially I didn’t have any feeling, but within seconds after the tears began like a fountain, I felt what seemed like an inconsolable pain -- a deep sorrow that grew in intensity. It was as profound and moving as any emotion I’ve ever had.

Within the space of a brief moment I had gone from enjoying my lunch at a sidewalk café on a beautiful late summer day in Boston to a crying, blubbering mess. What the hell was going on?

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Mental Floss: How Meditation is Like Brushing Your Teeth

A colleague challenged me the other day while we were waiting for the elevator about the value of meditation. She gave me a very hard time.

“I don’t understand why you positive psychologists get your undies in a bunch about meditation,” she said, “I tried it and I think it is the stupidest thing in the world. Stop your mind -- and breathe.”

“Well,” I began, “it really isn’t just about trying to stop your mind. Often it is about breathing, but I really think if you believe it is stupid it probably isn’t going to work.”

“See -- you have an answer for everything. So if I think it is going to be stupid, then it is going to be stupid. You always put it back on the person. If meditation is going to work, why do I have to believe in it? Why doesn’t it just work?"

“How often have you tried to meditate?” I asked, trying to keep from responding.

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The Reciprocity Ring: A New Take On Giving

When Irvin Yalom did his pioneering work in the 1970s on group therapy he included altruism, vicarious learning and hope among the original therapeutic factors. Forty years later a new application of group dynamics has emerged with renewed vitality: Welcome to the Reciprocity Ring®.

In Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Adam Grant has awakened a method for engaging the act of giving and receiving. He is a gifted storyteller and a consummate teacher and researcher. As the youngest tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, he has put forth a precisely organized and exceptionally well-crafted book.

He uses several methods to make his point. Among them he includes expertly constructed true stories, case studies, research and a very rich chapter on resources for information. Make no mistake: This is not another business book with some ideas about doing more and better business.

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Bed & Bored: The Element of Surprise in Making Love Last

“Love withers with predictability; its very essence is surprise and amazement. To make love a prisoner of the mundane is to take its passion and lose it forever.”
~ Leo F. Buscaglia

"Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays."
~ Henny Youngman

If I were going to create a bumper sticker for a good relationship it would be:

“Keep it Fun; Keep it Fresh; Keep it Real.”

Even the most cynical and contemptuous couples soften when I ask them to tell me how they met...

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Brain and Behavior

Down in the Dumps? Garbage Pickers with a Happy Life

A recent article published in the Journal of Positive Psychology surveyed the life satisfaction of 99 garbage pickers in León, Nicaragua. Researcher Jose Juan Vazquez interviewed these difficult-to-access individuals and found that not only are they happy, there is no correlation whatsoever to their financial well-being.

This is one of those studies that take a moment to get your mind around.

Imagine you are an itinerant individual living in absolute penury in a third-world country. You survive by going through other people’s garbage and extracting your food for the day as well as other essentials like clothing and footwear. You live your life hand to mouth and what your hand finds are the things others have discarded. You recycle what you can for money, and this considerable effort earns you about $3 a day.

By downward social comparison, almost anyone seeing a person living in these conditions would assume the individuals engaged in this activity would resent their life circumstance and view their life as anything but happy.

But this study shows this is a false assumption.

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