I have been in pain, every day, all day, for decades. But it is no longer my identity.

Human head within a colorful abstract image.
Human head within a colorful abstract image.
Image credit: agsandrew.

I am in pain. I have been in pain, every day, all day, since I was a teen.

I have psoriatic arthritis. Or is it Ankylosing Spondylitis? The diagnosis keeps changing. In my youth, it was identified as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. And before that, it was “growing pains.”

My current rheumatologist once described what I have as a “miserable, recalcitrant disease.” That sums it up nicely. While the diagnosis and treatment may have shifted over the years, the pain has remained. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, always present. It has been my “dark passenger” since I was 16 years old.


Give me an extra shot and skip the Herbalife

Part of our goal at Better Humans is to flush the snake oil down the drain and pledge that our readers aren’t going to get through an article simply to…

The literacy research and practical tactics you can use to build a foundation for a life-long love of reading

Man and woman read a book with little boy.
Man and woman read a book with little boy.
Image credit: monkeybusinessimages

My daughter can often be found with piles of books around her. There’s always one within reach.

At just over a year old, she explores more than a dozen books per day, sometimes alone and sometimes with us, her parents.

So how did we do it? It wasn’t as difficult as you might think.

“The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.” — Reach Out and Read, Archives of Disease in Childhood, Reading Aloud to Children: The Evidence.

When I was growing up, people…

The joy and satisfaction of realistically cutting out fast-fashion and developing your eco-conscious wardrobe

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Duy Hoang on Unsplash

At the end of 2019, I took a long, hard look at my closet and my wallet. I had never considered myself as an impulsive shopper or fervent fast fashion consumer, but I was struggling to close my dresser drawers. I couldn’t squeeze another hanger into my tiny closet if I tried.

And despite the surplus, I was cycling through the same couple shirts and pants. …

Give the GTD concept of “next actions” even more power by writing “first actions”

Set of wooden blocks showing arrow pointing to target
Set of wooden blocks showing arrow pointing to target
Image credit: Dilok Klaisataporn

David Allen’s influential productivity book, Getting Things Done, i.e. GTD, advances the concept of writing your to-do lists as Next Actions. You can do even better than that, though, and if you do, you’ll practically obliterate procrastination.

I won’t come close to doing the GTD book justice, but the general gist of the Next Action concept is that how you write an item on your to-do list matters.

If you write something vague, like “change car tires,” you will invite your future self to procrastinate.

The way procrastination works is that later in your day, you’ll come to the “change…

If you’re prone to anxiety, I’ll bet you tend to live in the future a little bit…always on alert for the next problem coming at you.

One way to counteract…

Noble Leisure

Using permission, prioritization, and persistence to unlearn the harmful guilt we associate with time off

A person crosses their legs as they relax on the beach.
A person crosses their legs as they relax on the beach.
Photo by Veronika Nedelcu on Unsplash

Most of us are becoming increasingly aware of how critical rest and time off are for our mental health, our overall wellbeing, and even our professional performance.

Many of us have come face-to-face with the negative consequences of not getting enough detachment, and we’re aware of the danger. Yet actually disconnecting and taking time off seems to be more and more difficult.

We just can’t shake the guilt that we associate with not constantly working. It’s been too deeply ingrained in our culture and our psyche.

My business partner John Fitch and I recently collaborated with Deloitte’s chief well-being officer…

What kind of positivity should we pursue and in which situations — and at what point does it become forced, unnatural, or even toxic?

Illustration of negative and positive input on a seesaw.
Illustration of negative and positive input on a seesaw.
All illustrations by the author.

In our society, “being positive” is seen as a strength. We admire people who’re upbeat, energetic, proactive, and creative. We want to be more like them because we believe this would grant us a life of success and fulfillment.

A positive outlook on life is assumed to be the supreme virtue. But is it always?

I can’t tell you how many times when I expressed personal or professional frustrations, certain friends told me that it’s “all in my head.” With that, they implied that if I only tried to see things in a more positive light, everything would shift. …

There was lots of buzz over the weekend about a new paper by Jeremy Bailenson of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. In the paper, Bailenson proposes four causes that contribute to the peculiar exhaustion many of us experience in video conferencing:

  1. Faces at close distance: Zoom screens show us multiple faces at perceived distances that give us the sense of having several people at physically intimate distances. There is a social intensity to this contributes stress.
  2. Cognitive load: the need to telegraph and interpret exaggerated nonverbal cues, along with the loss of context at the social interactions between participants…

Using science-based practices, my self-talk became notably healthier—as did my self-esteem in general

Woman looking at her eye in mirror
Woman looking at her eye in mirror
Image credit: Lisa Vlasenko.

Does your inner dialogue sound something like your most shit-talking nemesis?

You’re not alone. I personally relate to being berated by my own thoughts, and many of the clients with whom I work in a private practice psychotherapy setting also describe this experience.

Studies have shown that the majority of our thoughts are repetitive in nature. We also know from research that the more worried, ruminating, or self-blaming thoughts we have in general, the higher levels of anxiety and depression we can expect to entertain (see “The structure and consequence of repetitive thought”), although tolerating any level of depression or…

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