Posts tagged: Findings

Finding: The science of kindness

Researchers at the Stanford School of Business have found a magic bullet for personal happiness — and it’s not what you might think.

A happy “helper’s high” is what you get when you do good for others, says Jennifer Aaker, whose experiments on the phenomenon are published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. So, if you’re feeling blue, try performing five random acts a day for six weeks. It’s been shown to increase increase happiness — as does volunteer work, and spending money on others instead of yourself.

To maximize impact and your helper’s high, the trick is to make your goals specific. A concrete goal is more achievable, and the standards for success are more clearly defined. For example, aim to increase recycling in your home vs. to save the environment. Or, aim to do one concrete thing a day to improve the life of another (as Dr. Aaker’s
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Finding: Being ignored is bad for your health

When Patrick Swayze tells Jennifer Gray “No one puts Baby in a corner” in the classic movie Dirty Dancing, he spoke a fundamental truth: It’s just not worth it to let yourself be ignored. And science concurs with art: Research at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business finds that feeling excluded at work can harm your health, job satisfaction, and overall psychological well-being. In fact, social ostracism in the workplace is more damaging than harassment.

So while it might be easier to respond to on-the-job conflict by discretely tucking yourself into the corner, it’s better to stand up and face it head on. You’ll have greater self-esteem, and you’ll be more likely to get what you need.

For tips on how to confront with confidence, check out “How to stop being a reluctant confronter” by the Unstuck
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Finding: The gratitude cure

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

Okay, uplifting song lyrics can sound like cold comfort when we find ourselves on a hard road, or when unexpected obstacles appear on the path toward our goals. But researchers in four separate studies show that the physiological benefits of “latching on to the affirmative” are real. Just spending a few minutes each night jotting down things that you’re grateful for can lead to a 25% increase in happiness, better sleep, fewer health complaints, and a greater tendency to be generous toward others.

The trick is to surface things that you’re truly grateful for. Faking gratitude won’t achieve these amazing benefits. Try noting — and sharing — things you like about yourself, your friends, your job, your spouse, or even a stranger. Here are 40 ways to get
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Finding: Use your alarm wisely

Oh dear, it’s 7 am already? The urge to hit the snooze button can be automatic. But consider the wear and tear on your brain that results from being jerked awake, restarting the sleep cycle from stage 1 (the worst time to be woken up, science says) — only to be jerked awake again five minutes later. It’s like a fire drill going off over and over in the delicate inner workings of your system…

Research shows that using your alarm this way makes the transition from sleep mode to wake mode harder. It might take as long as two hours for your brain to go from zombie to fully alert, and you won’t feel sharp or well-rested.

The best advice? Wake to natural light, and be true to the rhythms of your own body (Unstuck has a printable worksheet to help you do this). But, failing that, just stop
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Finding: Reading literature enhances empathy and understanding

Here’s an easy fix to social awkwardness — reading! A recent study found that participants assigned short excerpts of literary fiction scored consistently high on tests measuring empathy or social intelligence. The theory is that literary fiction gets you to imagine the thoughts and emotions of complex characters — which exercises and strengthens your empathy muscles, boosting your ability to navigate real relationships in the real
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Finding: Facebook may be dangerous to your mental health

A study by two German universities found that Facebook brings out the green-eyed monster in many of us. One in three felt worse after using the social network. Those who browsed but didn’t post anything were most affected. The primary culprit: Other people’s vacation photos. Many also felt bad about themselves when they saw the number of Likes or birthday greetings they got in comparison with others. (You can read the study’s abstract here.)

If you check your Facebook account automatically or often, you may want to start considering your frame of mind before logging in.

Learn more about the dangers of
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