In the late 1950s, Russian geneticist Dmitry Belyaev had a problem. He had to lie. The Soviet Union had banned the study of genetics. In fact, Belyaev’s older brother, also a geneticist, had been executed by Joseph Stalin. The lie Belyaev told was that his Siberian farm of wild foxes was a study on furs. In reality, he was trying to find out if he could turn wild foxes into something like dogs. His hunch was that what made dogs playful, tail-wagging, loyal companions was one thing, being friendly.
In Siberia, he selected the least aggressive and most friendly foxes…
Serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins. Those are the happy hormones. They are chemicals in your body that help regulate your mood. So what exactly do these happy hormones do? And how can you boost them in healthy, scientific ways?
Serotonin helps regulate sleep, appetite, and mood. Here’s a wild fact about serotonin. About 95% of it is produced in your digestive system, which is packed with a network of 100 million neurons. It’s often referred to as the “second brain.” What all that means is digestive health is crucial to serotonin levels.
I can’t think of anything I would like to do less than skydiving, kayaking, or rock climbing. Yet countless people find great joy and satisfaction in those things. Not me. I spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon reading scientific articles and taking notes.
What we find enjoyable, what makes us happy can be very subjective. So how to define it? According to researchers, happiness comes in two varieties. First is hedonic happiness or subjective well-being. Psychologist Tim Lomas put it this way in Psychology Today: “Basically, pleasure and enjoyment.” What I find pleasurable is deciphering scientific articles. …
Donald Trump created a swamp the size of an ocean, but don’t expect Joe Biden to drain it.
In 2016, Donald Trump pledged repeatedly to “drain the swamp.” At his rallies, people chanted the slogan and cheered wildly for it. Clearly, they liked the idea.
Trump vowed to clean up the corrupt culture of money and influence in Washington that was crushing the hopes and dreams of hard-working Americans. It was a rigged system. And only Trump could fix it because he knew exactly how it worked.
Boy, did he ever!
Not only did Trump not drain the swamp, he…
For most of us, trying to change someone’s mind is all about proving that person wrong. And you may have plenty of facts and evidence on your side.
“No, Janet,” you argue. “If ghosts and spirits existed then the largest particle accelerator ever created would have detected their particles, but according to physicist Brian Cox, that hasn’t happened. So there! Proof. No ghosts.”
But eventually it all falls on deaf ears, and nothing is accomplished. You both walk away even more entrenched in your positions. This happens in marriages, friendships, workplaces, and politics all the time. There is even a…
We often think that taking care of ourselves is the best path to happiness. And certainly you shouldn't neglect yourself. But many of us have self-care and happiness backwards. It’s not all about you.
Laurie Santos is a psychology professor at Yale University. Since 2018, she has taught the most popular course on campus, Psych 157: Psychology and the Good Life. She also hosts The Happiness Lab podcast and offers a free course called The Science of Well-Being. It currently has over 3 million people enrolled.
In a recent New York Times interview, Santos said this about focusing too much…
When a co-worker was talking to me the other day, I was so self-conscious that I barely heard what she was saying.
Am I staring at her too long? Is that weird? Why I am looking so deep into her eyes? Stop doing that. She looked away. I am being weird. Is that a frown or a smirk? I don’t know. She was smiling before. Is she talking about something funny? What is she saying? She stopped talking. Oh no, now what?
“Oh, wow, I’ll be darn,” I said.
A puzzled expression crossed her face. Awkward silence.
If a version…
The Ultimatum Game is a popular economics experiment that pits two people against one another. It’s sort of like the game show “Let’s Make a Deal.” One person is the dealer who proposes how to split a gift of $100. The other person can either accept the offer or reject it. The catch is that if the person rejects the deal, both people lose and no one gets any money.
The smart thing to do in the Ultimatum Game is take any offer, even a $90/$10 split. It’s terribly unfair, but you are still $10 richer than before, right? Wrong…
In 2015, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s husband died suddenly at age 47. “The wails of crying in that hospital were unlike anything that I’d ever heard in my life,” said a friend to Time Magazine. She had to be pried loose from her husband’s dead body. She described the pain of her grief in a famous Facebook post. “The emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to even think and breathe.” For weeks, her mother held her in bed as Sheryl cried herself to sleep each night.
There are countless stories of overwhelming pain from the loss…
Have you ever wondered why men wore wigs in the 1700s? Why tattoos are so popular? Or why everybody bought fidget spinners?
We like to think we have our own thoughts and feelings. Dragon tattoos are cool. I want one. Big white powdered wigs are cool. I want one. We think those thoughts and feelings are uniquely ours. But not so fast.
A long history of evidence says otherwise. And new discoveries in neuroscience are confirming that.
In 1932, Arthur Jenness conducted one of the first social conformity experiments. He put 811 beans in a jar. Participants wrote down in…
Science, psychology, and history. Sometimes with a personal angle.