Social psychologist Ellen Langer's unconventional studies have long suggested what brain science is now revealing: our experiences are formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. Naming something "play" rather than "work" can mean the difference between delight and drudgery. She is one of the early pioneers — along with figures like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Herbert Benson — in drawing a connection between mindlessness and unhappiness, between mindfulness and health. Dr. Langer describes mindfulness as achievable without meditation or yoga — as “the simple act of actively noticing things.”
Happiness. A word that gets bandied about quite a bit lately, and for good reason. As the fields of neuroscience, biology, psychology, and so many others reveal the science behind our brains, we discover more about ourselves. Our moods, our emotions, our behaviors are driven by a mix of environmental factors and genetic predispositions.
The infographic above may not capture the details of the science, but it jogs a host of questions and insights. A few thoughts to chew on:
Human memory is a sensory experience says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he's learning how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. And what he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events that after all make up the drama of culture, of news, of life.
Watch this fabulous talk on Hubble and Rembrandt, Casablanca in psychological terms, how stars actually "evolve," and why Malala Yousafzai's bravery is "the best example of the power of curiosity."
Photo by Ofer Deshe/Flickr, cc by 2.0
The saying “time is money” may ask us to think carefully about the quality of our experiences, but the association of “time” with “money” can also diminish your ability to feel pleasure.
“Love” by Christopher Brown (Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Wednesday night at 11:08, the state of Georgia executed Troy Davis, a man widely believed to be innocent. A last-minute delay went to the Supreme Court, where a stay of execution was denied.