• How Humor Builds Empathy

    Humor begets more than LOLs—Scott Aukerman, creator of the podcast Comedy Bang Bang! talks to BigThink about how it’s a life skill that can help us navigate uncertain social waters and garner more authentic interactions.
    3 Ways Humor is a Skill that Builds Empathy
    1) Humor disarms. Aukerman says some of the most powerful people throughout history brag and make fun of people—it’s an easy and popular way to get laughs, but it doesn’t invite empathy.
    The kind of
  • Mindfulness: The Antidote to Anti-Aging

    Aging has been around for as long as we have—so you’d think we might have accepted it by now. By the same token, you’d think we’d also had enough of cats on the internet, but they’re just so darn cute.
    The past 20 years has given birth to a booming “anti-aging” industry, replete with creams, pills, diets, and even anti-aging clinics. So, a few bucks and a little extra work can keep me young forever? Sounds like a beautiful fantasy! Oh right, that’s
  • Goodbye, Things: Find Peace of Mind By Letting Go of Your Stuff

    Fumio Sasaki is a 35-year-old man living in Tokyo. Tired of the materialist society he grew up in, Fumio moved to a studio flat in a new neighbourhood and discarded nearly all his possessions. His new book Goodbye, Things tells the story of how getting rid of his stuff transformed his life. He spoke with writer Kate Bermingham about how his life has changed.
    Kate Bermingham: What possessions do you still own?
    Fumio Sasaki: I have about 20 pieces of clothing, including underwear. My ele
  • How to Find Fulfilling Work

    Mindfulness shows us that we’re not “destined to respond the same way emotionally to the same old triggers,” science columnist Sharon Begley writes in Mindful. Perhaps the same can apply to our work life: we’re not destined to stay in the same job that our teenage- or college-aged selves chose for us.
    This animation from The School of Life suggests that finding fulfilling work takes reflection, some mental digging, and giving ourselves permission to do this
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  • How to Handle a Toxic Relationship

    Last week, I had lunch with a friend. As we were walking out, she mentioned that she had to see someone who hadn’t always been kind to her, a relationship that caused her more stress and suffering than anything else. She’d been avoiding the meeting, but now it looked inevitable.
    “She just makes me so anxious,” she said, gritting her teeth. I’ve been there myself. Lots of times. Seriously toxic relationships call for us to cut off contact altogether; others, though a
  • Want to Eat Mindfully? Remember the BASICS

    BASICS is an acronym for a complete set of guidelines that walks you through the eating process from beginning to end. These are not rules and you don’t need to be perfect at them. However, practicing the BASICS could change the way you eat forever.
    B – Breathe and belly check for hunger and satiety before you eat
    Take a few deep breaths and relax the body. As you’re doing this, check in with your belly. Are there sensations of physical hunger? How hungry are you? What are you
  • Confessions of an Anxious Meditator

    Not long after I started meditating, I was persuaded to spend a whole day at it. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly easy. I soon felt trapped in my own body, and since I had decided not to leave—a clear admission of defeat—I sat there wanting to climb out of my skin. My breath shortened. I was sweating in my palms, and all over really. My eyes darted around the room. Occasionally, we got up and walked around, but that didn’t make much difference. Something was going o
  • How To Meditate with Noise: A 3-Minute Practice for Anywhere

    1. Begin this meditation by noticing the posture that you’re in. You may be standing or sitting or lying down.
    2. Notice your body exactly as it is. See if you can tune in to any sensations that are present to you in your body in this moment. There might be heaviness or lightness, pressure, weight. There might be vibration, pulsating, movement, warmth, coolness, These sensations can be anywhere in your body, and all you have to do is notice them. Notice what’s happening with curiosi
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  • Meditation in Public Schools: Pro or Con?

    Liz Scheltens of Vox explores how mindfulness is making its way into US schools.
    The video begins with a demonstration from Satyani McPherson, a meditation teacher with Minds Incorporated, who leads a mindfulness session with students at Eastern High School in Washington, DC.
    The video also features Harvard researcher Sara Lazar, who studies how yoga and meditation impact cognitive function. Lazar talks about how she started practicing yoga after a running injury, noticed she started f
  • Using Mindfulness to Manage Your Expectations

    Every day, at work, at home, even on vacation, we deal with expectations. Our own expectations, and those of the people around us. Expectations are beliefs we have about something as it will be in the future: the project will be done on this date, the teenaged kids will wash the dishes, or ten miles is a reasonable distance to kayak in one day. Sometimes, expectations are based on accurate information and negotiated agreements. Often, they’re not. Even if the original expectation was caref
  • What Happens in a Child’s Brain When They Learn to Empathize?

    A remarkable milestone occurs in children around their fourth birthdays: They learn that other people can have different thoughts than they do. A recent study is the first to examine the specific brain changes associated with this developmental breakthrough.
    The new study specifically explored the brain changes that occur when a child is able to recognize that another person believes something that the child knows is false. Once children gain this ability, they can better predict other people&rs
  • How might our relationships improve if we gave more and protected ourselves less?

    Tara Brach shares three ways to awaken our potential for natural presence and caring. Click here to read more. Preview her upcoming weekend course, Radical Acceptance, at 1440 Multiversity. 
    The post How might our relationships improve if we gave more and protected ourselves less? appeared first on Mindful.
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  • The Art of Admiring: A Mindful Lesson From a Toy Camera

    I recently bought a new smart phone because I ran out of memory on my old one—a move that is akin to cluttering up one room and, instead of taking the time to clean, starting to fill up another bigger room.
    As a parent in the digital era, I snap pictures like crazy. I send one image after another to my husband, documenting my day with the children in fragments that he can piece together remotely. Each image sent to him seems to stamp the moment with more value, and yet, ask me two days lat
  • 5 Ways to Organize Your Phone to Unhijack Your Mind

    Your phone’s slick, minimalist shell betrays a cacophony of alerts from apps, notifications from non-humans, and icons you barely intend to graze. Yet there you are, ten minutes later, not even using the toilet by that point.
    Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google and founder of Time Well Spent, offers these 5 tips for re-organizing your phone to create a less distracting experience:
    1) Turn off notifications from machines. Could you turn off almost all notificatio
  • When You’re Depressed: Is There Room to “Let Go”?

    Feeling overwhelmed is a common trigger for my anxiety attacks. A project doesn’t go as well as I’d hoped or I miss a deadline, and fear and insecurity rise in my mind and body. “I’m going to be judged and found wanting,” goes the narrative. “They won’t want to work with me again. Who was I anyway to take on such a job? I’m an imposter. I always fall at the last hurdle.” My heart starts racing, my stomach churns, my muscles stiffen. These sen
  • Why You Should Take a Relaxing Lunch Break

    I know the importance of breaks in a workday. The science clearly shows that taking a cognitive timeout helps us to work better and feel better, and personal experience confirms that.
    But, still…
    Like many Americans, I sometimes find myself working right through lunch. I get lost in my work, or I think, Hey, if I just finish this project, it will be out of my hair and then I can relax.
    But a newly published study suggests this is the wrong approach. It turns out that taking a deliberate b
  • Change Happens. How Adaptable Are You?

    Sheila groaned when she read the email message announcing the decision to replace an electronic medical record system at the hospital where she works. As head of nursing, she’d argued against the change. She was furious that others on the leadership team discounted her concerns. Staffing was already too tight on many units and now nurses would spend time learning new software rather than attending to patient needs.
    Feeling her heart pound and her face flush, she stood up from her desk and
  • How the Brain Changes When We Practice Knowing Our Minds

    It was the 1980s that made self-esteem more like a punch line than a desirable quality. That decade brought us the much-ridiculed California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem (only California would create an official program for making people feel better about themselves), the National Association for Self-Esteem, and enthusiastic efforts to raise people’s self-esteem, not by making them smarter, more talented, kinder, or otherwise better but just by telling them how wonderful they are. It
  • 5 Ways to Kick Bad Habits

    1. It’s your brain
    Habit-making is simply what our brains do. They’re designed to create neural pathways that provide the best results. So, when a desire triggers a reaction that in turn satisfies that initial urge, the brain takes note. The next time that desire arises, the brain calls up the circuitry that got the job done before. Part of this is neurochemistry, says psychologist and author Elisha Goldstein.
    When an urge is satisfied—whether for soothing, attention, or any ot
  • 7 Common Pop Psychology Myths You Might Be Spreading

    Whether you are an avid reader of psychology news or just a casual one, you’ve probably run across a plethora of fascinating findings about human behavior, thought, and emotion. This barrage of findings isn’t surprising. Unlike studies in, say, molecular biology, psychology research has a lower barrier to entry: Plan your experiment, get funding and approval, recruit participants (often, handy undergraduates, or even volunteers in cyberspace), and you’re good to go. No complica
  • How to Meditate When You’re Anxious

    Q: When I’m freaking out about something, I find it impossible to meditate. I do have a history of panic attacks. Any suggestions?
    We’re often susceptible to inadvertently engaging in what I like to call Strategic Meditation. That is, because we sometimes attain a degree of calmness when we practice, we begin to think that we should meditate in order to change how we feel. Such an approach is particularly ineffective and fraught with danger when we feel highly distressed, panicked, o
  • Err on the Side of Human

    At this year’s Academy Awards, the night’s big award, best picture, was largely a contest between two movies: La La Land, a bubbly, lighter-than-air musical depicting beautiful people traipsing through the hills, valleys, boulevards, and freeways of LA; and Moonlight, a gritty coming-of-age story about a young African American marginalized not only through racial discrimination but because he is poor, gay, and being raised by a mother addicted to drugs. Despite its grave theme, Moonl
  • The Mindful Survey: Your Inner Artist

    Have you ever dreamed of becoming an artist?What’s your creative outlet of choice?
    In order of popularity:
    Do you believe creativity is learned or inherent?
    Learned: 14%Inherent: 46%Not sure: 40%
    Does your creativity thrive in peace or chaos?
    In peace: 61%In chaos: 8%Doesn’t matter: 31%
    Do you have a song that pumps you up when you’re doing creative work?
    “I prefer quiet.”
  • Two Ways Forgiveness Helps You Through Tough Times

    “Forgiveness is an important expression of generosity of giving,” says Stephen G. Post in a recent video from Big Think. Post is a bioethicist and bestselling author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times.
    Post argues that forgiveness doesn’t ask you to be naive, especially when you’ve really been harmed by someone and when the hurt is deep and profound. In fact, it provides you with the space to t
  • 3 Ways to Get Back Into Meditation

    When I was in high school, my advisor, Michael Mulligan, called my parents to recommend a special treatment for my anxiety: Transcendental Meditation (TM). I was a high-achieving perfectionist so anxious, at times, that I had stress-induced asthma.
    Mr. Mulligan was not then, and is not now, a new-age spiritual seeker. He is a dyed-in-the-wool New England educator who, surprisingly, became a California cowboy. Picture a balding lacrosse preppy in khakis and a cowboy hat.
    I dutifully sat with my T
  • 5 Ways Sadness is Good for You

    Sadness is not usually valued in our current culture. Self-help books promote the benefits of positive thinking, positive attitude, and positive behaviors, labeling sadness as a “problem emotion” that needs to be kept at bay or eliminated.
    Evolution must have had something else in mind, though, or sadness wouldn’t still be with us. Being sad from time to time serves some kind of purpose in helping our species to survive. Yet, while other so-called “negative emotions,&rdqu
  • Are You Addicted to Being Judgy?

    Of all the wondrous array of thoughts that are possible, negative judgments about ourselves and others are one of the mind’s compulsive obsessions. It’s as if the human brain has a hyperactive gland that secretes judgments, just like the adrenal gland secretes adrenaline. Negative and reactive judgments can arise instantaneously and in regard to almost anything. Sometimes they focus almost exclusively on you, and sometimes almost exclusively on others.
    Exercise: Investigating Judgmen
  • 6 Books to Get You Unhooked from Negative Habits

    From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love—How We Get Hooked & How We Can Break Bad HabitsJudson Brewer (Yale)
    We’re forever reaching for something that will bring us pleasure: coffee, a Facebook post, a kiss, or something more sinful. We rev up our craving engine in the morning and give it few breaks through the day. What’s up with that? Why so needy? As director of research at the Center for Mindfulness and developer of smoking cessation and mindful eating
  • How to Be a Better Friend to Yourself

    We spend a lot of time thinking about our friends, making sure our friends feel supported. However, when we fall into the rhythm of a busy social life, we may unconsciously ignore the most necessary part of supporting our friends: learning how to be our own friend.
    In a cherished friendship, we’re mindful to be as caring and wise as we can be to keep our relationship on good terms. But we don’t often afford ourselves the same caring attention.
    This animation from
  • The Mindful Approach to Those Very Real Butterflies in Your Stomach

    An Early Account
    In the 1950’s Dr. Thomas Almy, a prestigious gastroenterologist, snapped a picture of a live colon responding to the proverbial “butterflies in the stomach.”
    Dr. Almy invited a student to take part in an experiment where he used a sigmoidoscope to look inside the student’s rectum and colon. A bystander complicit in the experiment said something about cancer of the colon. Upon hearing this, the student concluded that he must have cancer, at which time his
  • 5 Mindful Tips for Parenting Conundrums

    Mindfulness is a natural capacity we all have for being aware of what’s happening in the present moment. That sounds simple, but many parents find that life is such a rush, we’re never fully here—we’re always worrying about the next thing on the to-do list.  We get stressed and anxious, easily provoked by our children into unhelpful reactions, instead of responding in a more considered way.
    The good news it that we can train ourselves to slow down, to pause more
  • How to Stop Passive Aggression from Ruining Your Relationship

    Every Saturday night, Bill and Sarah leave their son with a babysitter and go out to dinner. Sarah hopes that by dressing up for date night, it’ll keep a spark in their marriage. One night, Sarah puts on a new, little red dress. It’s more daring than what she usually wears, so she’s nervous to show him.
    When he sees it on her, he smiles and gives a little, surprised shake of his head. “You look…different,” he says. Sarah feels crushed, but she doesn’t s
  • How mindfulness stops you from being a slave to your bad habits

    Meditation is no longer a mystery, and no longer remains on the periphery of medical theory in the recent decades thanks to the work of pioneers like Jon Kabat-Zinn.
    “There are a lot of studies that are being done now that are showing the benefit of mindfulness for all kinds of conditions,” says Mark Epstein, an American author and psychotherapist, in a recent video from Big Think.He shares three ways mindfulness can benefit our brains:Mindfulness pulls you out of emotional traps
  • 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Go on a Meditation Retreat

    1) What’s the Setting?
    Urban-ish or rustic, vegetarian or vegan, silent or guided, beach or mountain, solitary or group—retreats come in all shapes and types. Make sure you like the space and geographical area. Find out whether the retreat center is aligned with your values. Are there chairs suitable for meditating in? Are you OK with doing some volunteer work during the retreat?
    Find out whether the retreat center is aligned with your values. Are there chairs suitable for medit
  • Free Yourself from Feeling Out of Control

    A great many people who suffer with panic attacks experience feeling as though they are losing control and going crazy. Some people describe feeling a disconnect from reality that scares and confuses them. You may feel completely helpless, as though there is nothing you can do and no one can help you. You literally believe that a threat is present, likely, or imminent. It’s a frightening experience that is not soon forgotten. In fact, the fear alone that it may happen again is enough to st
  • Step Into Spring With Resources for Mindful Running

    There are some particularly valuable resources that will help you understand both the premises and practice of running mindfully, beginning with websites devoted to techniques for learning to run more naturally and efficiently.
    1) ChiRunning
    ChiRunning, which is based on the movement principles of T’ai Chi, connects the mind to the body in a way that helps runners stay relaxed. The website’s blog is updated weekly with useful tips, and the site also links to lists of ChiRunning works
  • Why Our Brain Thrives on Mistakes

    Making a mistake hurts. It can carry with it embarrassment, even shame, since starting very early in school—and perhaps even earlier than that—most of us have been socialized to associate failure with purely negative outcomes (think bad grades, not being picked for the team, getting turned down for a date, etc.). It’s possible that we can fear failure so much that we will develop a cognitive bias (i.e., confirmation bias) that causes us to filter out negative information (anyth
  • How to Avoid A Poorly Designed School Mindfulness Program

    In the UK, it was recently announced that the national government will put public money into mindfulness in education for the first time. One hundred and fifty schools will take part in a trial training program as part of a wider piece of research into mental health and wellbeing programs. This new level of interest is welcome, but it does bring to light some critical tensions that could arise when designing and implementing programs in schools with tight resources. There are a number of things
  • 4 Signs of a Poorly Designed School Mindfulness Program

    In the UK, it was recently announced that the national government will put public money into mindfulness in education for the first time. One hundred and fifty schools will take part in a trial training program as part of a wider piece of research into mental health and wellbeing programs. This new level of interest is welcome, but it does bring to light some critical tensions that could arise when designing and implementing programs in schools with tight resources. There are a number of things
  • The Science of Mindfulness Myth Busters Quiz

    Create your own user feedback survey
    1) Practicing mindfulness meditation cures physical illness.
    False. Meditation improves the psychological symptoms of people with illness, but research so far has not proven that meditation can actually cure illness. Many studies that investigate whether mindfulness meditation can decrease physical symptoms of different diseases show inconclusive results. For example, across 38 different studies, mindfulness meditation was found to
  • A Guided Awe Walk Meditation

    We are all naturally endowed with a set of passions that enable us to find our purpose, increase our well-being, and navigate our place in the social world. These passions include gratitude, compassion, mirth, and our focus here, awe.
    Awe is the experience we have when we encounter things that are vast and large and that transcend our current understanding of the world. The Greek philosopher Protagoras believed that our capacity for awe is our defining strength, it is the engine of creativi
  • Why Emotional Self-Control Matters

    On the surface, these three people live worlds apart:
    Stefan works as a family practice nurse practitioner/manager in a busy urban clinic in the American Midwest.
    Angelique turned her talent for design into a thriving business using recycled textiles to create clothing she markets throughout southeast Asia.
    Avery directs a large non-profit organization focused on improving access to nutritious food in poor communities in northern England.
    Beneath the surface, they’re closer than you’

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