Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Anger or gratefulness it’s up to you

From the 15 August 2012 article at Health Services Authors

Gratefulness could be the best way to happiness and to avoid child’s mental health problems in case of a pathogenic infancy. In France our psychologists developed the concept of resilience. Anglo-Saxon world put the accent on gratefulness as a tool for resilience, paving the way for the happening of a state of mind conducive to happiness. Listen to how Nancy Floy, an acupuncturist from Chicago, got through a very difficult childhood thank to her grand mother’s teaching of gratefulness for yet being still alive after a night of alcoholic chaos perpetrated by her own genitors.
Gratefulness is a very good way of conducting once life, don’t you think? Anyway my three dogs already behave according to this precept: they manifest energetically their joy, eyes full of gratefulness whatever the littlest good I do for them (like for example just giving them a little cup of water when they are thirsty, or appearing in the evening after a full day of absence, nothing more than that makes them very happy ;-)

Thanks to the media HUMANKIND for broadcasting such interesting programs.

The interview of Nancy Floy

The public radio HUMANKIND.

Related articles

August 22, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mindfulness: Psychology Of Possibilities Can Enhance Health, Happiness

 

Ellen Langer. Famous psychologist. First tenur...

Ellen Langer. Famous psychologist. First tenured female psychologist at Harvard. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Langer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 3 August 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

First-time mothers who pay attention to their emotional and physical changes during their pregnancy may feel better and have healthier newborns than new mothers who don’t, according to research to be presented at American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

“These findings continue more than 40 years of research that has made clear that whether you are mindless or mindful makes a big difference in every aspect of your health and well-being — from competence to longevity,” Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard University and a pioneer in researching mindfulness, said in an interview. Langer is a past recipient of APA’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest.

For Langer’s recent study, researchers trained women pregnant with their first child in mindfulness with instructions to notice subtle changes in their feelings and physical sensations each day, she said. When compared with two other groups of first-time pregnant mothers who did not have the mindfulness training, these women reported more well-being and positive feelings and less emotional distress. “They had higher self-esteem and life satisfaction during this period of their pregnancy and up to at least a month after birth,” Langer said. “And this also had a positive impact on their deliveries and overall health of the newborns.”

Teaching mindfulness through attention to variability may be helpful for many disorders, including asthmadepression and learning disabilities, to name a few, according to Langer.

“Noticing even subtle fluctuations in how you feel can counter mindlessness, or the illusion of stability. We tend to hold things still in our minds, despite the fact that all the while they are changing. If we open up our minds, a world of possibility presents itself,” she said.

Author of the popular books “Mindfulness,” “The Power of Mindful Learning,” “On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity,” and most recently, “Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility,” Langer is known for her work on the illusion of control, aging, decision-making and mindfulness theory.

In her lecture, Langer will describe her research to test possibilities rather than find out what is typical. “Psychologists have traditionally studied the ‘norm’ rather than exceptions that could show that we are capable of far more than we currently realize,” she said. Among other research, she will describe her work showing how a change in mindset has resulted in weight loss and improved vision and hearing, and how subtle differences in choice of words can improve health.

Langer first demonstrated the psychology of possibilities in her landmark 1981 “counterclockwise” experiment in which a group of elderly men spent time immersed in a retreat created to reflect daily life in the 1950s and where they were told to speak of the past in the present tense. Men in a comparison group reminisced for the week and were given no instructions regarding verb tense. The experimental group showed greater improvement in vision, strength, joint flexibility, finger length (their arthritis diminished and they could straighten their fingers more) and manual dexterity. On intelligence tests, 63 percent of the experimental group improved their scores, compared to 44 percent of the control group, Langer said.

BBC television recently replicated the study with British celebrities in a program that has been viewed in Great Britain, Australia, India and Hong Kong. It’s currently being replicated with local celebrities in Germany and the Netherlands, Langer said.

“It is important for people to realize there can be enhanced possibilities for people of all ages and all walks of life,” Langer emphasized. “My research has shown how using a different word, offering a small choice or making a subtle change in the physical environment can improve our health and well-being. Small changes can make large differences, so we should open ourselves to the impossible and embrace a psychology of possibility.” 

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Avoiding self-sabotage

What makes your brain happy and why you should do the opposite

From the 28 December 2011 EurekAlert

Why do we routinely choose options that don’t meet our short-term needs and undermine our long-term goals? Why do we willingly expose ourselves to temptations that undercut our hard-fought progress to overcome addictions? Why are we prone to assigning meaning to statistically common coincidences? Why do we insist we’re right even when evidence contradicts us? In WHAT MAKES YOUR BRAIN HAPPY AND WHY YOU SHOULD DO THE OPPOSITE (Prometheus Books $19), science writer David DiSalvo reveals a remarkable paradox: what your brain wants is frequently not what your brain needs. In fact, much of what makes our brains “happy” leads to errors, biases, and distortions, which make getting out of our own way extremely difficult.

New Scientist says, “David DiSalvo takes us on a whistle-stop tour of our mind’s delusions. No aspect of daily life is left untouched: whether he is exploring job interviews, first dates or the perils of eBay, DiSalvo will change the way you think about thinking… an enjoyable manual to your psyche that may change your life.”

DiSalvo’s search includes forays into evolutionary and social psychology, cognitive science, neurology, and even marketing and economics—as well as interviews with many of the top thinkers in psychology and neuroscience today. From this research-based platform, the author draws out insights that we can use to identify our brains’ foibles and turn our awareness into edifying action. Joseph T. Hallinan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Why We Make Mistakes”, calls DiSalvo’s book “the Swiss Army knife of psychology and neuroscience research—handy, practical, and very, very useful. It boils down the latest findings into simple easy-to-understand lessons you can apply to your daily life.”

Ultimately, DiSalvo argues, the research does not serve up ready-made answers, but provides us with actionable clues for overcoming the plight of our advanced brains and, consequently, living more fulfilled lives…

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Optimism May Help Protect the Heart

myocardial infarction - Myokardinfarkt - scheme

myocardial infarction - Myokardinfarkt - scheme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 18th April 2012 article at Medical News Today

Harvard researchers suggest optimism, happiness and other positive emotions may help protect heart health and lower the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events. It also appears that these psychological well-being factors slow the progress of cardiovascular disease.

The findings are the result of the first and largest systematic review of its kind, and are reported in the 16 April online issue of Psychological Bulletin, by lead author Julia Boehm, a research fellow, and senior author Laura Kubzansky, an associate professor, in the department of society, human development, and health, at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in Boston, Massachusetts….

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Consumerism and Its Antisocial Effects Can Be Turned On — Or Off

21st Century Materialism

21st Century Materialism (Photo credit: tomislavmedak)

From the 9 April 2012 article at Science News Daily

Money doesn’t buy happiness. Neither does materialism: Research shows that people who place a high value on wealth, status, and stuff are more depressed and anxious and less sociable than those who do not. Now new research shows that materialism is not just a personal problem. It’s also environmental. “We found that irrespective of personality, in situations that activate a consumer mindset, people show the same sorts of problematic patterns in wellbeing, including negative affect and social disengagement,” says Northwestern University psychologist Galen V. Bodenhausen…

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

How Tearjerkers Make People Happier

From the 29 March 2012 Medical News Today article

People enjoy watching tragedy movies like “Titanic” because they deliver what may seem to be an unlikely benefit: tragedies actually make people happier in the short-term.

Researchers found that watching a tragedy movie caused people to think about their own close relationships, which in turn boosted their life happiness. The result was that what seems like a negative experience – watching a sad story – made people happier by bringing attention to some positive aspects in their own lives.

“Tragic stories often focus on themes of eternal love, and this leads viewers to think about their loved ones and count their blessings,” said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, lead author of the study and associate professor of communication at Ohio State University. …

March 29, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | 1 Comment

It really is the journey rather than destination (the neuroscience of happiness)

hmm….maybe this is why I am almost always happier gathering material and resources for articles, reports, papers, etc rather than the actual writing…

From the 28 January Salon article by Lucy McKeon

They say money can’t buy happiness. But can a better understanding of your brain? As recent breakthroughs in cognitive science break new ground in the study of consciousness — and its relationship to the physical body — the mysteries of the mind are rapidly becoming less mysterious. But does this mean we’ll soon be able to locate a formula for good cheer?

Shimon Edelman, a cognitive expert and professor of psychology at Cornell University, offers some insight in “The Happiness of Pursuit: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life.” In his new book, Edelman walks the reader through the brain’s basic computational skills – its ability to compute information, perform statistical analysis and weigh value judgments in daily life – as a way to explain our relationship with happiness. Our capacity to retain memories and develop foresight allows us to plan for the future, says Edelman, by using a mental “personal space-time machine” that jumps between past, present and future. It’s through this process of motivation, perception, thinking, followed by motor movement, that we’re able not only to survive, but to feel happy. From Bayes’ theorem of probability to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Edelman offers a range of references and allegories to explain why a changing, growing self, constantly shaped by new experiences, is happier than the satisfaction any end goal can give us. It turns out the rewards we get for learning and understanding the workings of the world really make it the journey, not the destination, that matters most…..

I think one scientifically, psychologically validated reason for not making the most of one’s happiness is investing in the wrong kind of acquisitions. If you have some money to spend and you spend it on buying goods that’s not nearly as effective in making you happy in the long run as buying experiences…….

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

The French Unhappiness Puzzle: The Cultural Dimension of Happiness from Full Text Reports…

 

English: (Green) MogoliË. (Light-green) The Eu...

Image via Wikipedia

The French Unhappiness Puzzle: The Cultural Dimension of Happiness  from Full Text Reports….

From the Full Text Reports Summary

December 23, 2011

Source:  Research Papers in Economics

This article sheds light on the important differences in self-declared happiness across countries of equivalent affluence. It hinges on the different happiness statements of natives and immigrants in a set of European countries to disentangle the influence of objective circumstances versus psychological and cultural factors. The latter turns out to be of non-negligible importance in explaining international heterogeneity in happiness. In some countries, such as France, they are responsible for 80% of the country’s unobserved idiosyncratic source of (un-)happiness.

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Psychology, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

How Happiness Impacts Choice

From the abstract at Full Text Reports

Consumers want to be happy, and marketers are increasingly trying to appeal to consumers’ pursuit of happiness. However, the results of six studies reveal that what happiness means varies, and consumers’ choices reflect those differences. In some cases happiness is defined as feeling excited, and in other cases happiness is defined as feeling calm. The type of happiness pursued is determined by one’s temporal focus, such that individuals tend to choose more exciting options when focused on the future, and more calming options when focused on the present moment. These results suggest that the definition of happiness, and consumers’ resulting choices, are dynamic and malleable.

 

December 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Are Pets Good For Human Health? The Truth Is “Nobody Really Knows”

From the 3 August 2011 Medical News Today article

How often do you read about a study that says a pet is good for your health? Most of us would say fairly often. Apparently, only those that demonstrate health benefits hit the headlines, while others that either have no evidence or reveal some unpleasant data are ignored, researcher Howard Herzog revealed in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science. Professor Herzog, from Western Carolina University Psychology Department, says that prior studies on the impact pets might have on longevity and health have produced a mishmash of conflicting results…

Read entire article here

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Income Disparity Makes People Unhappy

From the 13 June 2011 Medical News Today article

Many economists and sociologists have warned of the social dangers of a wide gap between the richest and everyone else. Now, a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, adds a psychological reason to narrow the disparity – it makes people unhappy.

Over the last 40 years, “we’ve seen that people seem to be happier when there is more equality,” says University of Virginia psychologist Shigehiro Oishi, who conducted the study with Virginia colleague Selin Kesebir and Ed Diener of the University of Illinois. “Income disparity has grown a lot in the U.S., especially since the 1980s. With that, we’ve seen a marked drop in life satisfaction and happiness.” The findings hold true for about 60 percent of Americans-people in the lower and moderate income brackets. …

…The conclusions: That grim mood cannot be attributed to thinner pocketbooks during periods of greater inequality-though those pocketbooks were thinner. Rather, the gap between people’s own fortunes and those of people who are better off is correlated with feelings that other people are less fair and less trustworthy, and this results in a diminished sense of wellbeing in general.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Psychologists Say Well-Being Is More Than ‘Happiness’, UK

From the 12 April 2011 Medical News Today article

The British Psychological Society has welcomed the Office of National Statistics (ONS) programme aiming to measure the nation’s well-being. Responding to a national consultation (closing date 15 April) the Society commented that well-being amounts to more than mere happiness, and involves a wide range of personal and social domains. Psychologists also commented that positive relationships and a sense of meaning and purpose in life are crucial to genuine well-being.

The ONS consultation is part of an overall programme to develop new measures of national well- being. These are intended to cover the quality of life of people in the UK, the environment and sustainability as well as economic performance. The ONS is seeking views on what well- being means and how it is affected both for the individual and the nation overall. ..

…The full consultation response can be viewed in the Consultation section.

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Most ‘locked-in syndrome’ patients say they are happy

Most ‘locked-in syndrome’ patients say they are happy
A survey on self-assessed well-being in a cohort of chronic locked-in syndrome patients: happy majority, miserable minority

BMJ Open

From the February 25, 2011 Eureka news alert

Most “locked-in syndrome” patients say they are happy, and many of the factors reported by those who say they are unhappy can be improved, suggest the results of the largest survey of its kind, published in the launch issue of the new online journal BMJ Open.***

The findings are likely to challenge the perception that these patients can no longer enjoy quality of life and are candidates for euthanasia or assisted suicide, say the authors.

The research team quizzed 168 members of the French Association for Locked in Syndrome on their medical history and emotional state, and their views on end of life issues, using validated questionnaires.

Locked-in syndrome describes a condition in which a person is fully conscious, but cannot move or communicate, save through eye movements or blinking. The syndrome is caused by brain stem injury, and those affected can survive for decades.

In all, 91 people replied, giving a response rate of 54%. Around two thirds had a partner and lived at home, and most (70%) had religious beliefs.

There were no obvious differences between those who expressed happiness or unhappiness, but not unexpectedly, depression, suicidal thoughts, and a desire not to be resuscitated, should the need arise, or for euthanasia were more common among those who said they were unhappy.

Over half the respondents acknowledged severe restrictions on their ability to reintegrate back into the community and lead a normal life. Only one in five were able to partake in everyday activities they considered important.

Nevertheless, most (72%) said they were happy.

Only four of the 59 people (7%) who responded to the question asking whether they wanted to opt for euthanasia, said they wished to do so.

Among the 28% who said they were unhappy, difficulties getting around, restrictions on recreational/social activities, and coping with life events were the sources of their unhappiness.

But a shorter period in the syndrome – under a year – feeling anxious, and not recovering speech were also associated with unhappiness.

A greater focus on rehabilitation and more aggressive treatment of anxiety could therefore make a big difference, say the authors, who emphasise that it can take these patients a year or more to adapt to this huge change in their circumstances.

“Our data show that, whatever the physical devastation and mental distress of [these] patients during the acute phase of the condition, optimal life sustaining care and revalidation can have major long term benefit,” they write. “We suggest that patients recently struck by [the syndrome] should be informed that, given proper care, they have a considerable chance of regaining a happy life,” they add.

And they conclude: “In our view, shortening of life requests … are valid only when the patients have been give a chance to attain a steady state of subjective wellbeing.”

***BMJ Open ” is an online-only, open access general medical journal, dedicated to publishing medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas. The journal publishes all research study types, from study protocols to phase I trials to meta-analyses, including small or potentially low-impact studies. Publishing procedures are built around fully open peer review and continuous publication, publishing research online as soon as the article is ready.

 

BMJ Open aims to promote transparency in the publication process by publishing reviewer reports and previous versions of manuscripts as pre-publication histories. Authors are asked to pay article-processing charges on acceptance; the ability to pay does not influence editorial decisions.”

 

 

 

 

February 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness is a Focused Mind

HealthDay news imageWhen people’s minds wandered, they reported more dissatisfaction, study found

From a November 11, 2010 Health Day news item

THURSDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) — If you want to be happy, try to stay focused.

New research shows that when people’s minds drifted from the task or activity at hand, they reported being less happy than when they were fully engaged in whatever they were doing.

The human mind is uniquely capable of wandering — that is, to ponder things that have happened, to anticipate things that will happen, and to plan for things that might happen, explained study author Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University. The ability is one of the traits that makes human beings human, he noted.

Yet, cognitive wandering comes at a cost, which is that when people are thinking about something other than what they’re doing, they feel less happy, the researchers discovered…

….The study is published in the Nov. 12 issue of Science.

 

 

 

November 14, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

Global Study Finds We Are More Likely to Give to Charity When Happy, Not Wealthy

Source: Charities Aid Foundation

The “World Giving Index”, the largest study ever carried out into charitable behaviour across the globe, which ranked the UK the eighth most charitable nation in the world, has found that happier people are more likely to give money to charity than those who are wealthy.

The “World Giving Index” used a Gallup survey on the charitable behaviour of people in 153 countries representing 95% of the world’s population. The survey asked people whether they had given money to charity in the last month and to rank how happy they are with life on a scale of one to ten. For all countries CAF compared the strength of the relationship between giving with both a nation’s GDP and the happiness of its population. CAF found that the link between happiness and giving is stronger than the link between wealth and giving.

The study also measured two other types of charitable behaviour alongside giving money – volunteering time and helping a stranger. The “World Giving Index” combines the levels of each charitable behaviour to produce a ranking of the most charitable nations in the world.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

   

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