What is the One Thing that All Humans Share?

This morning the weather in the suburbs of Tel Aviv was bright and sunny, and a cease-fire was finally in effect. On my way back home from the gym, I stopped at the grocery store to get some milk. The store was empty apart from a cashier, another employee who was arranging inventory on the shelves, and their boss. I went to the aisles to fill up my basket, and by the time I got back to the register, the boss had left. The three of us were the only ones in the store, and with no customers around, and no boss watching over the employees’ shoulders, the situation lent itself to small-talk. I started by complaining about the Tel Aviv heat:


This is Your Brain on Oxygen

Many of us hold our breath unintentionally while engaged in daily tasks such as reading and writing email (a phenomenon called “email apnea” or “screen apnea” [1]). We simply “forget” to breathe. This deficit of oxygen-flow to the brain can result in headaches, increased stress, loss of concentration, and fatigue. Yet simple breathing exercises can restore normal, healthy breathing, promote a healthier brain, and even foster more positive mindsets and perspectives. Here’s what your brain looks like on oxygen, along with a simple breathing exercise you can practice each day.


Is there an Ultimate Destination?

I’m sitting on a flight from Paris to New York, trying to pass eight long hours, and getting bored. The airplane does not have an in-flight entertainment system, and my Kindle book-reader ran out of battery, so I resort to reading anything I can lay my eyes on. First I read the duty-free catalog (twice), then the airline’s travel magazine, and to my embarrassment I even read the safety card. Eventually I empty my pockets, pull out my boarding pass, and stare at it. On its back there is some fine-print titled “advice to international passengers on carrier liability”, and it starts with the following words:

Passengers on a journey involving an ultimate destination


5 Things You Can Do in the Next 5 Minutes to Be Happier in the Next 5 Days

Happiness is a lifelong pursuit of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. But while it could take years of persistence to deeply transform your life, there are scientifically-tested strategies that are shown to provide an immediate happiness boost. Such activities provide a modest increase in happiness but it lasts for weeks and months, and when practiced consistently over time, they become happiness habits, energizing you to live your dreams and passions.

Here are 5 such strategies that you can practice right now, to get a shot of healthy psychological nutrients:


Emergency Room Serenity

Early Sunday morning, I was awakened by a telephone call. On the other end of the line was my sister, and her voice sounded worried and dramatic. She told me that our mother is experiencing increased heart rate and blood pressure, and is being rushed to the hospital. My dad is 89 and my mother is 79, so I expect and dread these calls at the same time. An hour later, I arrived in the emergency room.


Always Ask for Directions

Stopping and asking for directions used to be the most reliable way to find your way around. A local person would not only know the way, but also the traffic patterns, the most interesting places to visit, and the best burger served within a twenty-mile radius. Asking for directions was never about getting from point A to point B. It was an opportunity to connect with another person, in the moment when you needed them most.


The Ultimate Rock’n’Roll Intervention

In the past decade, I’ve crossed-off a bunch of epic rock concerts from my bucket list. When I was growing up in Tel Aviv during the eighties, I could only dream of seeing bands like AC/DC or Deep Purple perform live, and moving to New York has made it possible. Each summer, I rushed to see all the giants of Rock’n’Roll before they disappear for good. I saw performances of hair-bands, of one-hit bands, and of some of the true classics of rock, but somehow I missed the band that’s been around the longest - The Rolling Stones. As the years went by, the list became shorter, and the cravings for the shows weakened. Eventually, I moved back with my family to Tel Aviv, and stopped going to concerts.

And then, the Stones came to town.


A Crying Face in the Crowd

A few days ago I was driving down the main street that crosses my town. I stopped in a traffic light waiting to turn left, when all of a sudden I heard loud sounds of weeping. The sounds stood out above the noise of cars, buses, and roadwork. Animal-like sounds of crying blended with mumbled, unintelligible words. I looked around, but could not identify where they were coming from. When the light finally changed, as I started to turn, in the corner of my eye I saw an old man in the car next to me. His hands gripped the wheel firmly and his face was distorted with agony, crying and screaming. Seconds later I saw his car in my rearview mirror driving away, and he disappeared.


5 Things You Can Do Today to Sleep Better

In her 2010 TED Talk, Arianna Huffington identified sleep-deprivation as the culprit for many bad decisions made by world leaders, and urged all of us to create a better world simply by going to sleep [1]. Many of us are not only flooded with time-demands but are also overwhelmed emotionally and cognitively. More than often it’s not just difficult to allocate enough time left for sleep, it is also hard to get good, replenishing sleep in whatever time we have. In recent years, scientists have shown that lack of quality sleep causes the same symptoms of alcohol intoxication: slow reaction times, impaired judgment, and reduced intelligence [2]. Simply put, when we don’t sleep well, we are drunk drivers, workers, and parents.

Here are five things you can do today to sober up and get the sleep you need.