Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation

Join an internationally bestselling children's book author and her down-home husband and their dogs as they try to live a happy, better life by being happier, better people . You can use those skills in ...more

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August 17, 2022 00:22:39
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Do NOT hide in a stuffed bear when running from the cops and where the hell is the empathy, you jerks

“You can’t love someone or something without relating to its existence,” says musician Pharrell Williams in a MasterClass about empathy. “In order to relate, you have to empathize.” For Williams, it’s about changing your vantage point. “A lack of POV is a lack of context” he says, and when you don’t have a context then you can’t understand the greater situation that's around you. It's like you're looking at just the mountain in front of you and don't realize that there's an entire landscape behind it. “When you open your mind’s eye, you get a bigger view,” he says. This goes for people too. He suggests thinking about a demographic and trying to imagine an hour of what that person is going through, he says. It's best to think about a segment of the population that is very different from you or one that you have a bias against. “We tell people to just get over it and let it go,” he says about when people are oppressing you, but if you close your eyes and try to imagine what it’s like to live their experience, you might stop oppressing others. “Empathy is a crucial step in forgiveness,” he says because it makes us realize that “we might have made some insane choices in similar circumstances.” Empathy is the first step in forgiveness and understanding because it’s a step of awareness. It becomes a democratizing and political force, Williams says. Developing empathy is something you can actively cultivate, which is cool and hopeful, but scientists also think it might have to do with this thing called “mirror neurons,” which is still kind of a concept right now. As Psychology Today explains, “These neurons, it ...

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August 09, 2022 00:17:14
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Brad Pitt in a Skirt and Mixing Things Up in Your Relationships To Make Them Last

One of the key components of happiness and living a good life is having a good close relationship with someone else and for a lot of us, our closest relationship is with our spouse. Cough. Shaun and Carrie are spouses. Is this the key to our happiness? It’s a good question. Eli Finkel, a professor of psychology of Northwestern University, wrote a book “The All-Or-Nothing Marriage” and he also wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times where he spoke about how much we expect of our spouses. Those expectations can make things better or um . . . worse. “At the heart of the American ideal of marriage lurks a potential conflict. We expect our spouse to make us feel loved and valued, while also expecting him or her to help us discover and actualize our best self — to spur us to become, as Tom Cruise’s titular character in “Jerry Maguire” puts it, “the me I’d always wanted to be.” “The problem is that what helps us achieve one of these goals is often incompatible with what helps us achieve the other. To make us feel loved and valued, our spouse must convey appreciation for the person we currently are. To help us grow, he or she must emphasize the discrepancy between that person and the person we can ideally become, typically by casting a sober, critical eye on our faults.” Cough. This seems like a pretty good out in any argument. “It wasn’t that I was criticizing you for not installing the bidet I bought you for our anniversary for six months honey when I said you were a procrastinator, it was that I was trying to help you be the person ...

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August 02, 2022 00:17:21
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Are you a cheerleading mutant?

Cheerleading mutant. It sounds pretty awful, but it’s actually a good thing. Because that optimism and gratitude help make your brain healthier and life better. That gives you the sort of cheerleading persona, but where does the mutant come in? Hang on and we're going to tell you . . . First let's define gratitude “Gratitude is associated with a personal benefit that was not intentionally sought after, deserved, or earned but rather because of the good intentions of another person” (Emmons & McCullough, 2004). Arthur C. Brooks wrote in an article called, “Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.” ‘Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. A 2014 article in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience identified a variation in a gene (CD38) associated with gratitude. Some people simply have a heightened genetic tendency to experience, in the researchers’ words, “global relationship satisfaction, perceived partner responsiveness and positive emotions (particularly love).” That is, those relentlessly positive people you know who seem grateful all the time may simply be mutants.” Though we may not have those genes, we can make the choice to become happier by working on being more grateful. It’s like that smiling thing, we talked about ages ago (last month) where if you really smile and move all your facial muscles, your brain gets tricked into thinking you’re happy. Brooks says, “If grinning for an uncomfortably long time like a scary lunatic isn’t your cup of tea, try expressing gratitude instead. According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward ...

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July 26, 2022 00:17:09
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Sometimes a robot breaks your finger-Live Happy Anyway

In “Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded,” a 2016 New York Times op-ed, the Dalai Lama and Harvard professor and president of the American Enterprise Institute Arthur C. Brooks join together to write: “How strange, then, to see such anger and great discontent in some of the world’s richest nations. In the United States, Britain and across the European Continent, people are convulsed with political frustration and anxiety about the future. Refugees and migrants clamor for the chance to live in these safe, prosperous countries, but those who already live in those promised lands report great uneasiness about their own futures that seems to border on hopelessness.Why?” This was an interesting op-ed for me to read a day after I talked with twelve students in my Write! Submit! Support! class out of the Writing Barn in Austin. The students are spread out all over the country and so many of them had difficult Julys when it came to getting words on the page and one eloquently asked, “How do you write when you’re so worried about the world?” To my sort of brain that’s the perfect time to write because I’m one of those “write your way through it” kind of people, but obviously not all brains are wired like my brain. Thank God, right? It also made me think about our marriage. Shaun is a wicked caretaker and I’m not used to that. He’s also severely independent and so when I try to take care of him? It doesn’t always happen because he’s also super alpha, right? And that makes me feel like . . . Well, like I don’t have as much of a purpose, that I’m not ...

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July 19, 2022 00:15:27
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Nap Like An Ancient Warrior

When our daughter was little, she would shout, “Napping is for the weak!” Which was super annoying, obviously, but we’ve forgiven her. Despite for her love for Alexander the Great (who definitely took naps), she truly fed into the Western culture ideal that napping means that you’re either weak minded or weak bodied. We as cultures are so anti-napping that we medicate our bodies with caffeine to make it through the day. The British have a four o’clock tea time. Sleep makes your brain work better. It’s legit your body’s best friend. And naps are a part of that. Imagine your health is a three-legged stool, right? One leg is sleep. One leg is eating healthy. One leg is exercise. We focus a lot of money and time on two of those legs, but blow off the third and that makes the whole damn stool wobbly.  Adults are meant to sleep between 6-10 hours a night. And according to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans don’t get six hours a night. So, that's a problem. All the self-help people say the same things. You want to go to sleep at the same time at night. You want to wake up at the same time. Set your damn alarm. Cover your windows, don’t look at screens before bed. Blah. Blah. Blah. We hear it all the time. But how about a nap? How does this help things? It's all about the brain. Well, a brain has neural circuits. A neural circuit according to The Psychology Dictionary is “The structural arrangement of neurons and their interactions with each other when placed end-to-end. Circuits typically completed one task, such as forming a negative feedback loop opposed to multi-tasking.” A nap resets ...

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July 12, 2022 00:17:59
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Multitasking Is Stupid and Naked Florida Men

We talk about the naked Florida man in the random section of the podcasts. We don't transcribe that part, and believe me, you don't want us to, but here's the link to the article. So I’ve been reading this book called The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, by cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin. Anyone who has had wine with me (or a rum and root beer) will know eventually that cognitive neuroscience is my big regret—like it’s the date I went on and wanted a relationship with, but I had put so much time in with my BF political science that I just couldn’t dump him and swipe right on the cognitive neuroscience profile. His book is full of cool stuff about how our brains are just really overwhelmed and wasting a lot of time dealing with things like 40,000 items in the grocery store or hundreds of emails and notifications and god-forbid texts starting before 7 a.m. He suggests not trying to grab all the info all the time and be a little more chill because that’s what our brains need us to do. We have to focus on the important stuff, slow down, and work efficiently. Daniel Levitin writes: “Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking. Multitasking creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation. To make matters worse, the prefrontal cortex has a novelty bias, meaning that its attention can ...

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