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Books

Brush Up On Your People Skills, Read a Novel

“I never read fiction,” is a point of pride for many people, along the lines of “I never watch TV.”

The implication is that nonfiction is a higher calling, that fiction is a frivolous pastime while nonfiction is a serious education. This has been a push-pull throughout the history of the novel, especially since early novels tended towards salacious or scandalous, more Danielle Steel than Ian McEwan.

Poet Samuel Coleridge, (1712 to 1835) stated his...
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Brain Function

Looking at the Negative (Spaces) In Our World

Elisha Goldstein’s book, The Now Effect, has sent my brain spinning in yet another direction.

The anecdote:
A professor stood before a philosophy class holding an empty jar. As the students took their seats, she began filling the jar with golf balls. When they reached the top, she asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then took a bag of pebbles and...
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Books

Complaining About Complaining

Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."

I picked up The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way To Get Results, Improve Your Relationships, Enhance Self-Esteem, by psychologist Guy Winch, in hopes of learning something about the chronic complainers in my life.

But the book taught me as much about myself as others.

Despite the many years that have passed since, I still wince...
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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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Developmental Psychology

What Is The Parenting Recipe For Making Mean Kids?

It’s Anti-Bullying Week and this year’s theme is Stop and Think—Words Can Hurt.

Interestingly, for all our focus on how to stop kids from bullying each other, we have precious little research addressing what parenting styles are likely to produce bullies. Because, let’s face it, if your nine-year-old child is a bully, chances are very good you and/or the child’s other parent can take credit.
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Communication

Gasoline-On-The-Fire Phrases

A friend told me that one word guaranteed to infuriate his teenage daughter during any disagreement is “relax.”

Riders on New York City’s subways were for years irritated by the phrase “Please be patient” at the end of announcements about subway delays.

And the quickest way to get a rise out of me is to tell me, “Don’t be ridiculous.” Oooh, that burns me up.

What makes phrases like these so incendiary?

Some phrases are guaranteed to turn a...
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Aging

How the Internet Destroys Our Past

“Say hello to your past,” read the subject line of an email that landed in my junk email box.

It was from my old friend Meryl. I hadn’t spoken to her in decades. A few weeks later, we met for coffee.

Later I received a Facebook friend request from a mutual friend. Within three days, we had located three more people from that old gang of ours. Then we were...
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Friends

Why You Might Have Trouble Making Friends

Today's guest blogger is Irene S. Levine, PhD, author of  Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend and co-author of   Schizophrenia for Dummies. Irene discusses about all sorts of issues surrounding women's friendships on her blogs The Friendship Blog and The Friendship Doctor.

Many women write to me perplexed about why they can't form close friendships. They try new approaches, put themselves in all the right places, see...
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