The Power of Sharing Stories

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Can Storytelling Improve Your Mental Health?

As Joe Clemons was growing up, he used to listen to family members share stories. Some stories were imaginative and rousing, while others were more monotonous. Nevertheless, hearing accounts of how his elders experienced life before him was a form of bonding and had a large part in shaping his selfhood—especially the stories his father told him about coming of age as a black man at the height of the civil rights movement. Click here to read more…

Does the Warm Glow of Giving Ever Get Old?

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Imagine what it would be like to eat at your favorite restaurant every day. Going there would be exciting at first, but with time it would simply become part of your routine—and you might even get bored with it.

Past research has found that we adapt surprisingly quickly to the good things we get in life, a phenomenon psychologists call hedonic adaptation. Doing something for the first time is likely to make us happier than doing something for the fiftieth time; we get used to it and take it for granted. Click here to read more…

The Simple Gesture That Enhances Health and Well-Being

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In my twelve-step fellowship, we greet each other with a hug. Whenever I see my daughters, we hug. I’m not talking about a fleeting, drive-by, bro-style pat-on-the-back hug, but rather one that is substantial, sustained, and heartfelt. Hugging another person with intention and feeling is a powerful form of recognition, an unequivocal acknowledgement that he or she matters. It is often an indicator of emotional intimacy that says, “I got you,” even—or perhaps especially—in the face of adversity. Click here to read more…

This May Be The Best Way To Help Kids Who've Been Through Trauma

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Why do some children who experience trauma seem to recover naturally over time whereas others develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and even depression? A new studypublished in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry has identified one key factor: seeing their own emotional reaction as "not normal." Click here to read more…

What Is Compassion?

Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.

While cynics may dismiss compassion as touchy-feely or irrational, scientists have started to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathycaregiving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people.