Sunday 20 December 2015

Men are Healthier and Happier if They Meet with Pals Twice a Week

It's so common in our society to put our priorities in the wrong place.  We make our choices with the best of intentions, but they actually are jeopardizing the very goals we're striving to achieve.

One example is how we decide to spend our time, and with whom.  It would seem to make sense that if we want to "be successful", we should spend more time at the office to get stuff done.  But truth be told, we should be spending more time with our mates!

A study in 2013 by Robin Dunbar, director of Oxford University’s social and evolutionary neuroscience research group, revealled that if men met up with four other male friends, face to face, at least twice a week... regardless of why... they would reap the benefits of male friendship. Those benefits, in addition to general health, include faster recovery times when faced with illnesses, and even higher levels of generosity.

Um... now this study WAS sponsored by Guinness, the makers of the famous Irish stout and stewards of dozens of other worldwide beer brands.  Which doesn't make this study irrelevant or incorrect, but who knows if they're hiding other studies which show that meeting up once a week with two friends away from a bar actually brings even BETTER results... :)

Sunday 13 December 2015

Loneliness and Social Isolation are as Harmful as Obesity, Smoking or Alcoholism

Researchers at Brigham Young University in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science suggest that social isolation, whether real or perceived, is associated with a higher risk for dying younger.

What are we going to do to prevent a loneliness epidemic in the near future?

Check out the book "Bowling Alone" published in 2000.

Sunday 6 December 2015

Spending Money on Future Activities and Experiences is the Happiest Way to Spend

It turns out money CAN buy you happiness, as long as that happiness is an experience you will anticipate in the future!  During the time leading up to that experience, you will experience the highest level of life satisfaction.  Moreso than in anticipation of a material purchase, and moreso than an experience that occurs right away, and you don't have the time to anticipate.

And although this article doesn't say it, I can say from experience and other reading, buy that future experience on credit is not a way to increase the happiness quotient!

Sunday 22 November 2015

The Type of Person You Are Indicates How You Should Try To Change Your Habits

Author Gretchen Rubin has written a book that speak about the different ways we interact in the world will dictate different methods we should use to change habits.   Want to develop better habits? Figure out your habit tendency, she says. 
  • Are you an “Upholder,” who can meet internal and external expectations? 
  • Or are you a  “Questioner,” like Jane Eyre, who’ll only do something if they think it’s justified? 
  • An “Obliger,” like Andre Agassi, who is motivated to meet the expectations of others? 
  • Or a “Rebel,” who resists both internal and external expectations? 
Different tendencies require different strategies for change. Obligers respond well to accountability partners. Rebels don’t.

Sunday 15 November 2015

Integrating Spiritual Experiences into Psychology

The majority of people in western cultures indicate they have had at least one "spiritual experience" in their lifetime.  These can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, from near death-like experiences, or out-of-body experiences where the person feels their consciousness as separate from their body.  This may be achieved through meditation, use of narcotics or a variety of other ways.

“One of the issues people often face is integrating the experience into their life”, says Dr Karen Frewin, a registered psychologist and senior lecturer in counselling and guidance at Massey’s Institute of Education in New Zealand. “Because of the unusual nature of spiritual experiences, some people may find them difficult to differentiate from some mental illnesses, which leaves them wondering whether they are ‘crazy’ after having such an unusual experience.”

Dr Frewin states despite the difficulty some people have with understanding the experience, the beneficial changes that can occur for many indicate they could serve a positive psychological function, and have implications for psychotherapy and understandings of anomalous phenomena.

Even with the long reported positive effect spiritual experiences may have on lives, many health practioners and psycologists lack the competence and training to respond to clients reporting concerns of a spiritual nature.  This is expected to be a focus of researchers in the field of Positive Psychology, as they seek to capitalize on the positive results spiritual experiences appear to promote.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Five Hacks You can Do Everyday to be Happier

Throughout this blog, there are tidbits about how to be happier, and discussions about why we would even want to be happier, and the positive effects our happiness can have on us, our families, communities and society at large.

So, assuming that being happier is a good thing, here are 5 hacks Shawn Achor recommends you do everyday to condition yourself to be happier:

According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happy Secret to Better Work:
1)      Bring gratitude to mind – Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day
2)      Journal – About a positive experience you’ve had recently for 2 minutes once a day
3)      Exercise –  Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity
4)      Meditate – Watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes a day and
5)      Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness   Write a 2-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague, or compliment someone you admire on social media