Ladies, is your husband, like mine, one of those men who refuses to get out on the dance floor? A new study may provide you with some ammunition.
Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany, is the lead author of the study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. She recruited senior citizens, average age 68, for eighteen months. Half of them undertook weekly repetitive strength and endurance exercises such as cycling. The other half learned dance routines that were changed up every other week. Different genres, rhythms, arm movements, and patterns kept participants on their toes physically and mentally.
Although all physical activity can slow, or even reverse, brain decline, those who danced saw greater benefits as well as better balance.
Good luck at getting that man of yours off the couch.
A study done by psychologists at Carnegie Mellon University has left me going “Duh.” It seems that people with a supportive spouse are more likely to take on challenges and subsequently more likely to continue to have supportive relationships. Oh, really?
The researchers rounded up 163 married couples and gave two options. One person in each couple could either solve a relatively easy puzzle or could make a speech that might win them a prize. Supportive spouses gave encouragement and conveyed confidence and enthusiasm.
Those who took on the greater challenge were studied again six months later and found to have more personal growth and better relationships. They were happier.
How else would you attain personal growth except by challenging yourself? And of course they were happier. They were still married to someone who built them up instead of putting them down. Professor Brooke Feeney, lead author of the study, states the obvious, “Significant others can help you thrive through embracing life opportunities.”
The lesson here is pretty clear. Choose your spouse wisely.
One of the facets of emotional intelligence is the ability to control one’s emotions. Researchers at Michigan State College and the University of Michigan have discovered a simple technique.
Talk to yourself in third person. There is a name for this–illeism. Who knew?
For example, when I’m stressed, instead of my thinking “Why am I upset?” I should think “Why is Fran upset?” You know how it’s always easier to think clearly about someone else’s problems? This works the same way. Isn’t that genius? Just that tiny bit of psychological distance apparently does the trick.
This has all sorts of implications. Could it be used to treat those with PTSD? Or what about addictions?
My suggestion: if you try this at home, do the talking silently. Referring to yourself in the third person out loud is a wee bit pretentious.
Whether you call it deferred gratification or maximizing, it will make you happier. So say researchers at the University of Connecticut.
Their study refers to the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant toiled all summer laying in provisions for the winter to come while the grasshopper played and had a good time. The human version of that ant behavior is called maximizing; the grasshopper behavior is satisficing.
For Satisficers, good enough is good enough. These are the people who would’ve taken one marshmallow in that classic childhood study instead of waiting so they’d get two.
Because Maximizers are concerned with making the very best choices for the future, they were thought by earlier researchers to be less happy. Having so many options to consider might lead to stress and second guessing themselves. Did all that work and no play make Jack or Jill dull?
It turns out that the maximizers aren’t unhappy after all. They feel good about their forward-thinking ways. As you’d expect, they save more money.
Of course, most people aren’t strictly one or the other. The behaviors are on a continuum. So which end of the scale are you on? Do you identify as an ant or a grasshopper?
If you’ve ever taken Psychology 101, you know about Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. Self-actualization may not be merely an intellectual or spiritual exercise. Researchers at Arizona State University have discovered that biology might be involved too.
They asked 1200 people what being self-actualized looked like. They found it is connected to the desire for status.
From an evolutionary perspective, living up to your full potential gives certain social advantages: respect and affection from your peer group and even the chance to wow a mate. As a result, your genes can be passed to future generations.
So it seems finding your purpose in life might not be an act of altruism. What do you think?
A study done at the University of Gothenburg says if you plan to work in your senior years, you should start planning before age 50.
The researchers, psychologists Kerstin Wentz and Kristina Gyllensten, say their participants engaged in what they call career crafting. This meant taking themselves seriously and thinking about what they wanted in life. Remaining employed at least part time allowed them to flourish and avoid boredom while maintaining a social life. They were proactive about learning new things.
The researchers advise vocational counseling for those age 45 similar to what is given to teenagers. They also advocate making student loans available.
As an avid devotee of MOOCs and webinars, I love this idea. Personally, I grew to hate the career in the insurance industry I stumbled into at age 18. At age 45, I embarked on a master’s degree to pursue something more meaningful. I cycled through several stop gap jobs until I finally got a job at a community college. That whole process might have been shortened if I had done better research and planning.
What’s your story? Will you continue working past “normal” retirement age?
All those records of people’s lives are finally proving useful.
Researchers have tapped into New Zealand’s extensive digital databases to examine the lives of 1000 subjects from birth to age 38. They found that the Pareto Principle, or more commonly the 80/20 rule, holds true for illegal and other non-desirable behaviors.
The scientists from Duke University, King’s College London, and the University of Otago in New Zealand say 20% of those studied accounted for a whopping 81% of incarcerations, 77 % of fatherless child rearing, 75 % of drug prescriptions, and 66% of welfare benefits plus more than half of nights in the hospital and cigarettes smoked. They were more likely to be obese and to file personal injury claims too.
In the study, they gave participants tests at age three to measure what they called “brain health.” This consisted of intelligence, language and motor skills, frustration tolerance, restlessness, and impulsiveness. Low scores in brain health even at such an early age predicted high healthcare and social costs as adults.
The results point to the continuing need for early interventions with disadvantaged children. The components of brain health can be taught or improved upon. Such education would benefit not only the individual children but ultimately society as a whole.
Lead researcher Avshalom Caspi says the return on investments to undertake this sort of intervention would be remarkable. Indeed.
Educators, what kinds of interventions have you seen in your community?
A recent study about bullying caught my eye. Chad Rose, an assistant professor of special education from the University of Missouri College of Education, and Nicholas Gage, an assistant professor from the University of Florida, say that children with disabilities are bullied significantly more often than those without disabilities. This inequality in bullying continues over time. It peaks in third grade, subsides in middle school, and increases again in high school.
They conclude that the disabled students aren’t developing the social skills to defend themselves as they mature. They recommend that schools teach “appropriate response skills.”
Apparently, the conduct doesn’t end in school. When a relative of mine with a disability was bullied in the workplace, I did some research and blogged about it.
Of course, it is important for the disabled students to learn better communication and coping skills. But isn’t it even more important that the bullies are taught better behavior?
To be fair, Rose and Gage are in the field of special education and focusing on improving conditions for at risk children, not on the general school population. They do assert that social skills are no longer taught to anyone. Still, it seems to me another instance of blaming the victim.
What say you?
I venture a guess that no woman in America will be surprised by the results of research done by Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, and Minnesota Population Center. They studied time diaries from 12,000 parents and concluded dads are happier when parenting than moms are. It seems moms do more of the work tasks while dads do more fun tasks. Ya think?
Moms were often alone with their kids, but dads often spent time with their kids in social situations with other adults around to give support. Moms were also more likely to be on call 24/7, so dads got more uninterrupted sleep.
For a fictional look at how this can play out, I recommend Leave Me, a novel by Gayle Forman. The mom in this book suffers a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery only to return home to whining, demanding children and a husband who thinks she can make a full recovery in a week so as not to inconvenience him.
Having facts from a study like this one to back up fiction and anecdotal evidence is good, but when will this situation change? I don’t have children, but I do find myself jumping in to do things that others could and should do for themselves and then feeling resentful. I need to learn to back off, set better boundaries, and ask for help instead of playing martyr. Do you?
Are you one of those people who always have a Plan B? Turns out that might not be such a good idea.
Two management professors, Jihae Shin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Katherine L. Milkman of the Wharton School of Business at Penn, undertook a study to see if having a backup affected how hard people work toward a goal and their chances for success. Turns out if it is a goal that requires hard work, it does. People don’t put as much effort into achieving their goal and consequently don’t achieve less.
A goal that is dependent on having high innate skill isn’t affected by this dynamic.
The professors acknowledge that making an alternate plan helps reduce uncertainty and stress. They suggest, however, waiting until later in the process to think about Plan B. Do the work first and see what happens.
What is your best strategy for achieving goals?