Archives for December, 2011

Dieting

Research-Backed Resolutions

The more I read and think about  New Year's Resolutions, the less I think they accomplish a dingdang thing. I've made a lot of resolutions that have led me absolutely nowhere. Mostly, they make me feel bad because I tend not to follow-up. Oh sure, I'll get back on my eating/exercise program as soon as the holiday minefield of homemade pound cake and mint M&Ms is behind us, but that's more about returning to...
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Family

Happy Festivus! Air Those Grievances

I love Festivus because it frees the part of my personality that I am told I should suppress--the gripey, complainy part.

(What's Festivus? Watch the video here.)

Perhaps I shouldn't admit to having anything in common with Frank Costanza. And I'd rather skip the Feats of Strength part of the holiday. And I haven't put up a Festivus pole this year.

But the Airing of the Grievances? I'm all over it.

I'm not...
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Books

The Irrational Pleasure of Exchanging Gifts

What is your favorite kind of gift to receive?

My favorite is useful gifts. Socks, for example. A nice sweatshirt—nicer than I might buy myself. Something related to one of my hobbies. Food gifts are nice. They always fit and don’t take up space.

My least favorite is gift cards, which stress me out a little because then I have to decide what gift to buy myself. That’s a lot of pressure. And I’m at an...
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Anxiety

Fear of Parties: One Good Reason


New research finds a small but significant correlation between social anxiety and ability to recognize faces.

Yes. Oh yes.

I don’t have severe social anxiety, but I do have some, and this gave me an aha! moment about it. I have a terrible time remembering faces.  Even famous people. I recognize George Clooney, easy. Matt Damon? Not so much. Meryl Streep, easy. Charlize Theron?...
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Brain Function

How Pain Ate My Brain

The other day I learned that I’ve been walking around for the better part of a decade with a dislocated toe.

I knew something was wrong. I’d had it X-rayed and the doctor said it looked like I’d jammed my toe somehow (true) and had developed some form of arthritis. I can’t remember the name. He gave me a prescription I never filled. I was not ready for a lifelong commitment, and figured...
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Aging

What It Takes To Be a Lifelong Learner

A friend learning her way around her new iPad wonders if learning really is different as we get older. And what’s the deal with that?

The short answer is yes, our ability to learn does change as we age. We get slower.

We have diminished capacity in our working memory as we age. That is, you can’t throw too much stuff at us at once. As a rule, it takes older people longer to learn things...
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Brain Function

Daydreaming As Our Default Mode (And Why That’s Not Great)

Last night, my yoga and meditation teacher mentioned her surprise at how  much easier meditation gets over time.

She no longer has to work nearly as hard as she once did, she said, to reach a meditative state. And, she said, it's much easier than it once was to keep intrusive thoughts and daydreams at bay while she meditated. “I don’t know why,” she concluded, with some wonder in her voice.

Coincidentally, I’d just spent much...
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