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Stressed? Anxious? Irritable? Balancing Your Brain’s Negativity Bias

Fear, and even stress, are essential – to a certain degree. They keep us alive by insisting we pay attention to potential dangers and threats. However, living with too much fear – and fear’s conjoined twin, anger – leaves us living lives that are small, miserable, and stressed. In order to protect you, your brain has what’s called a negativity …
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Body Scan Mindfulness Practice

One very helpful mindfulness practice is the Body Scan. Mindfulness practice, as succinctly defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn:  Paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally. In a body-scan mindfulness practice, the thing you’re paying attention to (on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally) is your body — everything from your toes to your scalp. Using your body as the focus …
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Poor sleep hurts your brain: Risk factor in the development of Alzheimer’s

Poor sleep now, Alzheimer’s later? The amount and quality of your sleep now could play a big role in how your brain does as you age, including developing Alzheimer’s. Here’s more research to convince you to move sleep up from the bottom of your to-do list. I’ve written before about the importance of good quality sleep (here, for example). Now …
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Narcissism and Running A Major World Power

It takes a certain level of narcissism to believe you should have a hand in the running of a major world power. But there is a very important difference between healthy and unhealthy narcissism. Healthy narcissism is a real and valuable trait. We all need to feel loved, important, and powerful in our lives to a certain degree. In general, …
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The Mixed Blessing of Adult Coloring Books

Adult coloring books can help with relaxation – or pave the way to avoidance of the real problem. What should you be aware of about the benefits and potential pitfalls of this beautiful, soothing outlet? Back in 2008, when I was having a health issue that was going to require surgery, I was grateful to have accumulated a number of …
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Defeat Your Snooze Button, and Triumph Over Your Whole Day

What you and your brain need to know about hitting the snooze button – it’s not just a waste of time. Consider these facts about sleep and snoozing when you’re waking up tomorrow, and give yourself the chance for a better start every day. “I’ll just hit snooze one more time.” Nine minutes, fifteen minutes… whatever the length of your …
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Attached at the Hippocampus – First Love, Later Love

Why do psychologists always want to dig around in your childhood? Shouldn’t it be more like, “That was then, this is now”? Isn’t it supposed to be “live in the moment, don’t blame your parents for everything that’s wrong, keep calm and carry on”? The thing is, though, that even from a brain-wiring perspective, your first experiences with love and relationships—those …
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Solicitation, Mad Men, and Psychologists

Like any business, my office gets contacted by companies who offer help with marketing. Unlike most other businesses, psychologists have special obligations, responsibilities, and professional ethical standards for how they let the public know about their services. Even a basic listing in the phone book used to be prohibited. It wasn’t until 1972 that psychologists were allowed to advertise at all. …
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Mettā Practice

The meditation practice described below is called a mettā practice. Mettā translates roughly as “loving-kindness” from Pāli (a Sanskrit dialect). It’s one way to help yourself break out of the “autopilot” of self- (and other- ) criticism – the unconstructive kind. In this mettā practice, you’re going to be practicing the intention for well-being in yourself, then going through a list of …
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Brain Myths for $400, Alex

It’s great when brain science goes mainstream – understanding how our brains work goes a long way in living better lives. There’s a problem, though, when brain science goes bad. Or at least, when lots of people get it wrong, and brain myths trample reality. As a culture, we’re paying more and more attention to the brain, wanting to understand it, talking …