Last week I experienced my first opportunity to try small-scale, personal fundraising following a family crisis. Prior to this, my psyche had lugged around
two uncomfortable misconceptions concerning charitable giving. These happily vanished. This has made it easier for me to give, going forward.
I’d like to share what I learned. [Read more...]
Have you heard of the default mode network? It's relevant to three Emissary characters' mindsets. Lately, there is not a single day that goes by where I don’t catch myself. DMN! There I go again! DMN stands for default mode network. I have developed a new habit of catching mine running overtime. It’s a relief. I catch my DMN running, and bring my attention back to the present moment. It is a good exercise. I’ll describe what the DMN is, in more detail in a bit. Thanks to functional MRI, the DMN is is a hot research topic these days. [Read more...]
Most people think of heart arrhythmia as something they don't want. Indeed, atrial fibrillation, extra beats, and excessively slow or fast heart rates should have you seeking the advice of a cardiologist right away. But respiratory sinus arrhythmia, or RSV, appears to be an exception. [Read more...]
I asked my mother for advice on how to cope with the grief of losing her. Her well-meaning answer left me unsatisfied at the time. [Read more...]
No, it’s not a new book by JK Rowling. It’s a recent insight I’ve had trying to understand why some fictional characters immediately trigger my empathy, while others leave me apathetic. Have you ever asked yourself why you can’t finish a book, yet there are others you can’t put down? This question has led me down a tangental yet intriguing road exploring what education researchers call learning mindsets. My thesis here is that exciting characters have what researchers call a growth mindset, while the boring ones have a fixed mindset. I’ll describe these in a bit. But first, let’s talk about writing fiction and creating boring characters! [Read more...]
I am about to complain about an anonymous person's behavior, but first, let me express my acute discomfort in making the complaint public. It feels peevish and mean of me considering that this person is extremely caring and thoughtful in a great many ways that I am not. [Read more...]
The answer, researchers are finding, is helping people at risk for burnout. This research surprised me. Compassion and empathy activate different brain structures. [Read more...]
Do you hate certain sounds with a passion that you know is unreasonable? You might have misophonia. Greek for hatred of sound, "misophonia" is replacing previous labeling attempts such as Select Sound Sensitivity Syndrome and Sound-Rage. [Read more...]
I remain preoccupied with a simple physiological pathway, for a few years now. I am fascinated by the mechanism required for us to sense the bottoms of our feet. [Read more...]
I felt obligated to have a Profound Spiritual Experience when I was young. I learned about them from my mom. She sustained a lifelong fascination for Profound Spiritual Experiences. She was always reading about other people having them. From what she told me, there seemed to be a lot of these people. She didn't expect to have Profound Spiritual Experiences herself, but she revered those who did. With an embarrassed chuckle, she would would explain to her friends that this was her "favorite subject". [Read more...]
I perform a short list of activities every day. Three things, sometimes four. It's taken me a number of years of grouchy fumbling around to figure out
how to get these habits to stick. They HAVE been sticking for over five years as of now. Something is working! I call this list my ME-things.
ME isn't a clever acronym, it just signifies activities that support me in a fundamental and ongoing way. It's that simple.
I don't enjoy horror as a story-telling genre. Now, if you do, I don't think there is anything wrong with you. You are in good company, and I might even envy your fortitude. So I ask myself every year, why do I LOVE Halloween? [Read more...]
My career taught me to trust that scientific models could predict the behavior of specimens on my lab bench. Perhaps this primed me to question whether any cosmic laws govern a more thorny human sociological problem. I speak here of the problem of pinning. I suspect everyone pins to some degree, although I am quite certain I have never done it myself (she laughs nervously). [Read more...]
Want to knit stronger neurons? Crafts can help. I don't know how to knit. I have on occasion been known to mess around with a crochet hook though. After doing this for a few days, I will proudly show off the result to my husband. "It's a rectangle!" I say importantly. [Read more...]
Who writes lists on old-fashioned paper? We do! Movie making requires lists. (Scripts, equipment lists, cast and crew contacts, audio files, video files,
and now that we possess DVDs, invoices, retailers, customers, theaters, employees, etc.) Research backs up the notion that paper list-making helps
your memory, even if you never glance at your list again.
I've taken an unintended break from writing this column–which I love and miss!–to fly to Colorado. I've been caring for my mother, who has dementia. For those of you who know me, my preoccupation with researching methods to protect the aging brain is no secret. Some people may be tempted to buy brain training programs. [Read more...]
I've been writing down my dreams for years. I'm hooked. I love recalling my dreams but I can't exactly explain why I love it so. Most mornings I'll recollect at least a few tidbits, but on mornings where get up too quickly, details fade swiftly. Mornings where I wake with nothing to report leave me feeling let down, wanting. [Read more...]
Here I am on my morning run, half-listening my favorite medical podcasts, and half-wondering what to write about for my column this week. (Yes, my attention skills need work, but honestly, a lot of these medical journal summaries are mind-numbingly dull. I mean, how many varieties of prostate screening do I want to learn about when I don't even own a prostate?) [Read more...]
Sitting is the new smoking.
Being mindful of your body's position in space, especially for prolonged periods of time, is integral to your well being. [Read more...]
Sometimes when I'm casting around for a source of wonder, I remind myself about the origin of atoms making up my body. We are made of mainly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and smaller amounts of other atoms. [Read more...]
I don't like feeling hungry. This is why the inside of my car looks like a squirrel exploded. Each time I raid my emergency bags of peanuts in the shell, I try to be neat, but particles diffuse along a steep concentration gradient. Peanuts kill my hunger like nothing else. I am sure other people have their magic bullets, but for me, it's peanuts. Sure, it would be faster for me to eat shelled peanuts, but I love the built-in tactile reward of the shell removal process. Tim rolls his eyes at me each time I vow, after cleaning my car, never to turn it into a rolling nut processing facility, again. It's never long before my next road emergency. [Read more...]
I made up this exercise, and am playing around with it. It's evolving, so I would love to know what you think and what works for you.
It's simple. It will put you in a good mood. The hardest person to be kind to, sometimes, is yourself. If you don't genuinely care for yourself, as you would care for your best friend, it makes it extra hard to do all the things you want to do. [Read more...]
Public speaking anxiety is common. It comes in different forms. Given my choice of audiences, I love a small group where I can see everyone's reactions. Big audiences, radio and TV are venues I still wrestle with internally. Some friends tell me they prefer the anonymity of a big crowd or a camera in their face to a small group. It is all a matter of what you get used to! And if you really want to get over a fear, you have to slowly get used to doing what you are afraid of, sometimes with baby steps. [Read more...]
This is my current favorite focusing technique. I invented it, on a whim, for myself, and it's really stuck with me. If you give it a try, I'd love to know what you think. [Read more...]
My cats often appear convinced that I am handling something they need, and they are wrong. "It's just tomatoes," I tell them, after I've opened a can. They don't believe me. And sometimes, to convince them, I oblige them. I let them sniff my can of tomatoes or beans or artichokes or whatever it is that isn't cat food. Rather than turn aside, however, they sniff, sniff, sniff! Just long enough for me to get a little impatient with whatever mysterious, extended thought process they are experiencing. They are interested, even intrigued, if not a bit let down. [Read more...]