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Hugs and kisses: The Health Impact of Affective Touch – Maria Cohut

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We seek affection, try to establish a connection, or attempt to communicate a need. Various cultures use touch in various ways to display tenderness or respect, and other non-human primates use it to create a connection and establish social hierarchies. Recently, however, some experts have expressed concern that Western societies are experiencing a moment of crisis,as physical touch becomes more strictly regulated and we are less and less likely to engage in social acts such as hugging…….

Read more: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323143.php

 

 

 

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Why Following Your Passions Is Good for You (and How to Get Started) – Lizz Schumer

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Before Andrew Rea started his popular “Binging With Babish” YouTube channel, he could barely get out of bed. Today, he credits the show, which inspires its three million subscribers to make their favorite “as seen on TV” dishes, with saving his life. In 2015, six months before starting the channel, Mr. Rea, a former visual effects supervisor, was overcome with depression. But by combining his passions for food and filmmaking, as well as seeking professional help, he rediscovered how using those passions could lead to a rewarding career……

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/smarter-living/follow-your-passion-hobbies-jobs-self-care.html

 

 

 

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20 Signs You’re Doing Better Than You Think You Are – Brianna Wiest

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Take a deep breath. You’re doing amazing and if you doubt that just read these positive self affirmations to boost your esteem. You doubt your life. You feel miserable some days. This means you’re still open to growth. This means you can be objective and self-aware. The best people go home at the end of the day and think: “or… maybe there’s another way……

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2015/02/20-signs-youre-doing-better-than-you-think-you-are/

 

 

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Practicing Self-Compassion for Mental Health – Zana Wellness

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Instead thinking about a bad argument with a loved one, an emotional breakdown at work, the lady who frustrated you at the grocery store for walking slow, focus on what it was you NEEDED at that time. If you were arguing with a loved one, was it because you dislike them OR because at that time you needed to be heard? And that lady at the grocery store, was she walking slow to piss you off or is it that you needed to be seen? Shifting your perspective about certain incidents …….

Read more: https://zanawellness.com/2018/09/10/practicing-self-compassion-for-mental-health/

 

 

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30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself – Marc Chernoff

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Our previous article, 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself, was well received by most of our readers, but several of you suggested that we follow it up with a list of things to start doing.  In one reader’s words, “I would love to see you revisit each of these 30 principles, but instead of presenting us with a ‘to-don’t’ list, present us with a ‘to-do’ list that we all can start working on today, together.”  Some folks, such as readers Danny Head and Satori Agape, actually took it one step further and emailed us their own revised ‘to-do’ versions of the list…..

Read more: http://www.marcandangel.com/2011/12/18/30-things-to-start-doing-for-yourself

 

 

 

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Teaching kids the importance of empathy can help shut down bullying | king5.com | Empathy Magazine

You have the school supplies purchased and loaded up in your child’s backpack, ready to start the year on the right foot – but what about making sure your child is equipped with empathy?

Establishing strong, successful relationships and friendships are vital to your child’s development and growth. “Practicing empathy is really just watering the seeds for kindness, tolerance, respect, and compassion,” says Dr. Tiffany Spanier of Allegro Pediatrics.

Sending your child back to school with a better understanding of these social elements can help them know what to do in bullying situations and establish a better communication connection between you and your child.

Source: Teaching kids the importance of empathy can help shut down bullying | king5.com | Empathy Magazine

 

 

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Bringing Men Out of Isolation with Empathy and Accountability – Justin Lioi

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The mass of men lead incredibly isolated lives these days. One seemingly no-brainer solution is for men to connect with other men wherever they can: MeetUp groups, local bars, softball teams, etc.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this idea, it’s not enough, and can actually end up doing more harm than good. Men need to be grounded in an analysis of patriarchy and oppression and unless this happens at the same time (or before) they come together in groups these new friendships and coalitions run the risk of reinforcing the same oppressive systems that are already in place.

The Invisibility of Patriarchy (at least, to the Patriarchy)

Men don’t talk about their feelings., so the stereotype goes. Well, they do talk about anger. They certainly complain. If they’re straight, they complain about their female partners. Saying they’re too needy. Always wanting them to do something they don’t want to do. Not having enough sex.

That’s fine. It’s fine for people to talk about what they want and what they are not getting. There’s no good reason to shut down anyone from expressing their wants and desires, their frustrations and irritations. The problem comes about when there’s no deeper exploration of all of these things. When you’re around your local bar or when you’re at softball practice it’s likely no one is analyzing relationships (I’d love to hear about exceptions, though!) Complaints are either being heard and left alone or they’re being fired up and intensified.

It’s an echo chamber and nothing gets shifted or worked on.

I often get asked if getting men together to talk is enough: “Forget therapy, forget groups, just get men together. Let them build relationships with each other and then things will go well. Society will move forward. We just all need to talk.”

The problem is that oppression and privilege is often invisible to the people who have it. If they are not continually brought back to examine it—if the fish is not constantly told they are swimming in water—they don’t realize it’s there and they think that society really is a meritocracy.

Empathy & Accountability Are Both Required

For groups of men coming together to be effective two things need to be present. They need to be able to do some of the above—express their anger, annoyance, irritation—even if those feelings could be heard by some as unacceptable (which is why we should do it in male spaces so we don’t continue to subject women to this). Only bad can come from repressing all of that. It’ll just come out in some other way: resentment or violence, to name a few. I’m not making excuses for it, but “holding it in” has never worked out well for anyone.

The second important part of this coming together is to not stay there. Men need to be open and less defensive when there is some pushback around the underlying premise of what’s being said. Not, “You shouldn’t say that. How dare you feel that way.” But more along the lines of, “Ok, I hear that, but let’s take a look at where your anger is directed. What might we all be missing here and what is the other person seeing that isn’t as apparent to you?”

Accept the feeling, but challenge the premise from where it arises. Buddies and groups of people without an analysis tend to stay in the anger/resentment without pushing forward. They practice their anger and annoyance without holding each other accountable.
And we all stay stuck.

There’s a stereotype in politics that the left is all about “bleeding hearts” and the right is only about “personal responsibility”. I’m not here to challenge political stereotypes, but I know that for growth—personal and communal growth—we need both. We need to empathize while also holding ourselves and others accountable. One or the other does nobody any good.

So, yes, men need to come together into groups. They need to come out of isolation and give up the myth of full independence, but they need to do so outside of the space that reinforces patriarchy and inside the space that moves us forward.

 

 

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My Trauma is Not Your Thought Experiment: On Oppressive Empathy — At The Intersection

When it comes to anti-oppression work, I have a problem with empathy. Or rather, I have problem with the ways in which people with privilege and power enact so-called empathy. The ways in which it always seems to demand a centering of their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and experiences in a narrative that otherwise should be about […]

via My Trauma is Not Your Thought Experiment: On Oppressive Empathy — At The Intersection

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How Habits Can Get in the Way of Your Goals – Caroline Benner

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Along the Pacific Crest Trail, hikers who set out to complete the entire 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada are especially vulnerable to quitting at two points: around mile 100 and mile 1,000.

Those who make it past mile 100 are the hikers who carve out new habits amid the challenge of their new lives: wake up, eat Pop-Tart, stuff tent into pack, walk. Wearing clothes clammy with yesterday’s sweat, squatting behind a tree to go to the bathroom, and eating ramen for dinner every night become the norm.

But hikers who establish those useful on-trail habits tend to get bored of them as soon as the novelty and challenge are gone. This disenchantment often hits around mile 1,000, at the beginning of Northern California.

Hiker Claire Henley Miller, who ended up quitting at mile 1,232 in 2015, described this phenomenon in her book: “It began as something new and invigorating and had lasted in this way for many suns and moons. But now, after participating in mile after mile of this one continuous event, the journey had turned into a mundane chore of waking, walking, and setting up camp; an ongoing cycle of wash, rinse, repeat.”

“Why did I end my hike with only 250 miles until Canada?” 2015 hiker Brett Pallastrini asked in his journal. “I was done hiking. I was mentally over it.”

Whether hiking a trail or pursuing other projects, the feeling of being “over it” can be so strong that we abandon goals that once excited us, even goals that we have the potential to achieve. Research into our emotional experiences around habits can help explain this phenomenon and keep us on track with our goals.

The Downside of Habits

Habits, those automated actions we repeat at regular intervals, help us achieve goals. Want to lose weight? Make a habit of eating breakfast instead of skipping it. Want to write a novel? Make it a habit to wake up a half hour early and write. The link between habits and goals is so compelling that it has generated multiple bestselling books.

What no one mentions—but those Pacific Crest Trail hikers saw—is that those same habits that you establish to achieve your goals can turn on you. When we get too accustomed to a particular behavior we perform en route to a goal, we are more likely to quit. Like a marriage that has gone stale after too many years together, our goal becomes boring, and we look for new thrills.

In one study, University of Southern California psychology and business professor Wendy Wood and her colleagues asked college students to record what they were doing at one-hour intervals for a day or two: studying, exercising, or socializing, for example. They also asked students how they felt about that behavior on a scale that ranged from very negative to very positive.

Wood found that when performing habitual behaviors, students reported feeling less intense emotions—and, in particular, less pride. This was true even when the behaviors had once been enjoyable, like watching TV or hanging out with friends. It was also true for behaviors that were important to achieving long-term goals, Wood says. Working and studying, two activities that contribute to a future career, were not especially pleasant or unpleasant for students when performed habitually.

Wood explains this phenomenon, the so-called “double law of habits”: “Repetition has multiple effects,” she says. “One is to strengthen the memory trace for an action, so that habitual tendencies get stronger. The other is to weaken your emotional response (boredom starts), so that you are no longer getting much kick from what you are doing.”

Even habits as longstanding and simple as brushing your teeth are plagued by the habituation problem, Wood says. If you give people toothbrushes that monitor when they brush their teeth, you find that most people brush consistently in the morning, to eliminate bad breath, but evening tooth-brushing gets neglected when they are too tired or busy.

“We speculate that people whose lives are characterized by large proportions of habitual behavior can find that their emotional experiences become dull and subdued over time,” write Wood and her colleagues. One of Wood’s graduate students is currently investigating this question further.

How to Combat Habit Boredom

While there is plenty of advice on how to establish habits to help you meet your goals, there is little research about what to do when those habits get boring. So what do we do in the meantime?

One way that people overcome this challenge is by figuring out how to add interest, fun, or passion back into those habits that move them toward their goal. You add passion back into a marriage by doing things you find fun together: going on date nights, for example. You can make habits compelling again in the same way.

For their 2015 hike, Catie Joyce-Bulay and her group downloaded a smartphone app with riddles—some of which took a day or two to solve. Her group also tried thinking of all the word combinations that PCT could stand for (Pina Colada Time, Partially Castrated Tiger). Other hikers turn their focus to blogging about the hike, or spend their hiking hours listening to books on tape they had always wanted to read—in other words, sharing their experiences with others or keeping their minds occupied.

But beware: Paradoxically, we sometimes reduce our enjoyment even further in attempting to reinvigorate our drive. It can be tempting to challenge yourself with new behaviors that set the bar higher; for example you might push yourself to work on your novel for 45 minutes every morning, instead of a half hour. But just making any change, even if it is a change that is beneficial for achieving your goal, doesn’t make an activity more engaging.

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“You want to change things up to make it more fun again, not less fun,” Wood says. Thinking hard about what makes something fun for you is vital.


Focus on changing your behaviors so they bring you intrinsic joy, that sense that you love what you are doing and it is right for you. Université du Québec à Montréal professor Robert Vallerand’s work on harmonious passion finds that when we are engaged in activities that bring us that sense of joy, we tend to work harder and perform better. If you are able to introduce joy into the habits you perform en route to your goal, you may have greater success at reaching it.

If your goal has gone stale, take a cue from the hikers and think about how to make it more compelling again.

For example, say your goal is to eat more healthfully. After deciding to add more vegetables and whole grains to your diet, you’ve gotten into a good routine of cooking healthy dinners for the last few months. Suddenly, you find yourself ignoring your planned recipes and stopping by McDonald’s after work more and more often. Your habit of cooking a healthy dinner has turned on you; it became boring and drove you to McDonald’s.

The solution? Sit down and brainstorm new ways to eat vegetables and whole grains that you would find appealing. Do you love going out to restaurants? Plan to go out to dinner twice a week for the next month and order only vegetable dishes. Do you think trying new recipes is fun? Challenge yourself to cook every grain recipe in the Joy of Cooking.

Of course, we don’t want to adopt behaviors that will compromise our ability to achieve our goals. “The challenge,” Wood says, “is to figure out how to change things up enough in your head while still keeping up efficiency.” If every vegetable dish you order at restaurants is loaded with cream and cheese, the additional fat you’re adding to your diet might compromise your original goal to eat more healthfully.

It is normal to be “over it” at some point as you work toward your goals. When this happens, you can decide to gut it out, or try to liven up the process. Adding fun back into a dull routine is a more successful strategy, especially when you’re further away from the finish line.

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How To Teach Your Kids To Care About Other People – Caroline Bologna

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As deep-seated divisions, vitriol and disturbing news fill headlines, many people are wondering what happened to the qualities of empathy and kindness in our society.

In the same vein, many parents are wondering how to raise kids who will be a force for love and goodness in the face of bitterness and hate.

HuffPost spoke to psychologists, parents and other experts about how to instill empathy in children.

Talk About Feelings

“The gateway to empathy is emotional literacy,” said Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and the author of numerous parenting books, including UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.

A simple way to foster emotional literacy is by promoting face-to-face communication in the age of texting and smartphones. “Digital-driven kids aren’t necessarily learning emotions when they pick emojis,” Borba said. “Make it a rule in your house to always look at the color of the talker’s eyes because it will help your child tune in to the other person.”

Another key aspect is teaching kids to identify their own emotions early on. “Use emotional language with kids. Say things like, ‘I see you’re really frustrated,’ or, ‘I see you’re really mad,’” Laura Dell, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Education, told HuffPost.

“Before children can identify and empathize with other people’s feelings, they need to understand how to process their own feelings,” she continued. “Once they can identify their own emotion, they’re better able to develop those self-regulation skills to control their own emotions ― and then take the next step to understand the emotions of others.”

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Ravi Rao, a pediatric neurosurgeon turned children’s show host, believes parents should teach feelings as much as they teach things like colors and numbers.

“You’ll see parents walking through the park and taking every opportunity to ask, ‘What color is that man’s jacket?’ ‘What color is the bus?’ ‘How many trees are there?’” he explained. “You can also practice emotion by saying things like, ‘Do you see the woman over there? Does she look happy or does she look sad?’”

Rao also recommends playing a “guess what I’m feeling” game at home by making happy or sad faces and asking your children to identify the emotion. “You just get their brains in the habit of noticing the signals on other people’s faces.”

Once kids have a better sense of emotions and how things make them feel, you can ask them about the emotional perspectives of others. “You can ask things like, ‘How do you think it made Tommy feel when you took his toy?’ or, ‘That made Mommy really sad when you hit me,’” said Borba.

Use Media To Your Advantage

Watching TV or reading books together presents another great opportunity to cultivate empathy, according to Madeleine Sherak, a former educator and the author of Superheroes Cluba children’s book about the value of kindness.

“Discuss instances when characters are being kind and empathetic, and similarly, discuss instances when characters are being hurtful and mean,” she suggested. “Discuss how the characters are probably feeling and possible scenarios of how the situations may have been handled differently so as to ensure that all characters are treated kindly.”

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Borba recommends engaging in emotionally charged films and literature like The Wednesday Surprise, Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Set An Example

Parents need to walk the walk and model empathy themselves, noted Rao.

“Kids will pick up on more things than just what you say. You can say, ‘Pay attention to other people’s feelings,’ but if the child doesn’t perceive or witness you paying attention to people’s feelings, it doesn’t necessarily work,” he explained.

Rao emphasized the importance of parents using language to convey their own emotional states by saying things like, “Today, I’m really frustrated,” or, “Today, I’m really disappointed.” They can practice empathy when role-playing with dolls or action figures or other games with kids as well.

It’s also necessary for parents to recognize and respect their children’s emotions, according to Dell.

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For kids to show empathy to us and others, we need to show empathy to them,” she explained. “Of course it’s tough as a parent trying to get multiple kids to put on their clothes and shoes and get out the door to go to school in the morning. But sometimes it makes a difference to take that pause and say, ‘I see it’s making you really sad that we can’t finish watching ‘Curious George’ this morning, but if we finished it, we wouldn’t be able to make it to school on time, and it’s really important to get to school on time.’”

“It doesn’t mean you have to give in to their wants all the time, but to recognize you understand how they feel in a situation,” she added.

Acknowledge Children’s Acts Of Kindness

“Parents are always praising children for what grades they got or how they did on a test. You can also boost their empathy by letting them know it matters to develop a caring mindset,” said Borba, noting that when children do things that are kind and caring, parents can stop for a moment to acknowledge that.

“Say, ‘Oh, that was so kind when you stopped to help that little boy. Did you see how happy it made him?’” explained Borba. “So your child realizes that caring matters, because you’re talking about it. They then begin to see themselves as caring people and their behavior will match it.”

Expose Them To Differences

“Parents have to help their children grow up and thrive in a diverse society through education about and exposure to others who are different, whether culturally, ethnically, religiously, in physical appearance and ability or disability,” Sherak said.

There are many ways to expose your children to the diversity of the world ― like reading books, watching certain movies and TV shows, eating at restaurants with different cuisines, visiting museums, volunteering in your community, and attending events hosted by various religious or ethnic groups.

“It is also important to follow up such visits and activities with open discussions and additional questions and concerns, if any,” said Sherak. “It is also valuable to discuss differences in the context of our children’s own environments and experiences in the family, at school, in their neighborhoods, and in the larger community.”

Parents can urge local schools to promote cross-cultural awareness in their curricula as well, said Rao.

“We also just have to eliminate jokes about race and culture from our homes,” he added. “Maybe back in the day making jokes about race like Archie Bunker seemed acceptable and part of what the family did when they got together on holidays. But that actually undermines empathy if the first thought a child learns about a race or group of people is something derogatory learned from humor. It can be very hard to then overcome that with other positive messages.”

Own Up To Your Mistakes

“If you make a mistake and behave rudely toward someone who messes up at a store checkout, for example, I think you should acknowledge that mistake to kids,” said Dell. After the bad moment, parents can say something like, “Wow I bet she had a lot on her hands. There were a lot of people at the store right then. I should’ve been a little kinder.”

Acknowledging and talking about your own lapses in empathy when your kids are there to witness them makes an impression. “Your child is right there watching, seeing everything,” Dell explained. “Own up to moments you could’ve made better choices to be kinder to the people around you.”

Make Kindness A Family Activity

Families can prioritize kindness with small routines like taking time at dinner every night to ask everyone to share two kind things they did, or writing down simple ways to be caring that they can all discuss together, said Borba. Playing board games is another way to learn to get along with everybody.

Borba also recommended volunteering together as a family or finding ways that your children enjoy giving back.

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If your kid is a sports guru, then helping him do arts and crafts with a less privileged kid might not be the best match, but you can find other opportunities for face-to-face giving that match their interests,” she explained. “Help them realize the life of giving is better than the life of getting.”

Families might also consider writing down their own mission statements, suggested Thomas Lickona, a developmental psychologist and author of How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain.

“[It’s] a set of ‘we’ statements that express the values and virtues you commit to live by ― for example, ‘We show kindness through kind words and kind actions’; ‘We say we’re sorry when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings’; ‘We forgive and make up when we’ve had a fight,’” he explained.

Lickona also recommended holding everyone accountable to the family values at weekly family meetings centered around questions like, “How did we use kind words this week?” and, “What would help us not say unkind things even if we’re upset with somebody?”

“When kids slip into speaking unkindly ― as nearly all sometimes will ― gently ask for a ‘redo,’” he said. “‘What would be a kinder way to say that to your sister?’ Make it clear that you’re asking for a redo not to embarrass them, but to give them a chance to show that they know better. Then thank them for doing so.”

Another piece of advice from Lickona: Just look around.

“Even in today’s abrasive, angry, and often violent culture, there are acts of kindness all around us. We should point these out to our children,” he said. “We should explain how kind words and kind deeds, however small ― holding the door for someone, or saying ‘thank you’ to a person who does us a service ― make a big impact on the quality of our shared lives.”

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