Study Reveals Intense Exercise May Suppress Immune Function in Firefighters

Excessive intense exercise might suppress the immune system, a potential concern for those with physically demanding jobs such as emergency responders and athletes. A 2023 study involving over 4,700 post-exercise fluid molecules from firefighters supports this notion.

Ernesto Nakayasu, a biomedical scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), explains, “People who are very fit might be more prone to viral respiratory infection immediately after vigorous exercise. Having less inflammatory activity to fight off an infection could be one cause.”

Moderate physical activity is known to benefit the immune system over time. However, the immediate impact of vigorous exercise on the immune system is debated. Although some prior studies have reported upper respiratory tract infections in athletes after strenuous activity, there is little concrete evidence linking intense exercise directly to an increased risk of opportunistic infections.

Nakayasu and colleagues conducted an experiment on 11 firefighters, analyzing their blood plasma, urine, and saliva before and after a 45-minute intense exercise session, which involved carrying up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of gear over hilly terrain.

Kristin Burnum-Johnson, a bioanalytical chemist at PNNL, said, “We wanted to take an in-depth look at what’s happening in the body and see if we’re able to detect danger from exhaustion in its earliest stages. Perhaps we can reduce the risk of strenuous exercise for first responders, athletes, and members of the military.”

Exercise undoubtedly benefits health, from mood enhancement to immune system strengthening. However, similar to previous studies, this new research found signs of possible immune suppression in the firefighters post-exercise.

Amid the expected physical adaptations to meet the demands of increased fluids, energy, and oxygen during exercise, a decrease in inflammation-related molecules was observed, alongside an increase in opiorphin, which dilates peripheral blood vessels.

The implications of these changes for short-term immune function remain unclear, though the researchers offer hypotheses. “[Opiorphin] may increase blood flow to muscles during the exercise regimen to improve the delivery of oxygen and nutrients,” the researchers write. They suggest the decrease in inflammatory molecules after exercise could be an adaptive response to improve gas exchange due to higher cellular oxygen demand.

The participants’ oral microbiome also changed, possibly due to an increase in antimicrobial peptides in their mouths after intense activity. This increase may compensate for immune suppression, though this is debated. “However, this increase in antimicrobial peptides had no effect on inhibiting E. coli growth,” Nakayasu and his team note, indicating a limited protective capacity of these peptides against infections in the oral cavity.

Other scientists argue that some observed changes might indicate a “heightened state of immune surveillance and immune regulation” rather than immune suppression.

While the study’s within-subject comparison minimized the small sample size impact, firefighters’ unique exposure to pollutants during fires might also alter their immune responses.

Moreover, the study only involved healthy, active men, prompting researchers to call for broader research to confirm their findings. Despite these limitations, Nakayasu and his team conclude, “There is evidence supporting a relationship between physical demands and a higher incidence of respiratory infections.”

Revolutionizing Housing: Maine’s ASCC Unveils World’s Largest 3D Printer for Bio-Based Homes

Dozens of 3D-printed homes have been constructed worldwide, from accommodating a family in Virginia to housing members of an impoverished community in rural Mexico. Notably, the world’s largest 3D-printed neighborhood is currently being built near Austin, Texas.

This technology could be particularly beneficial in states like Maine, which will need approximately 80,000 new homes by 2030 to address a housing shortage, according to a report released last year by three state agencies.

“People can’t find homes, they’re very expensive. We also have an aging population…so there’s less and less people who are electricians, plumbers, or builders,” Habib Dagher, the executive director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC), told CNN via video call.

Dagher believes he has a solution. Last month, ASCC unveiled what it claims is the world’s largest polymer 3D printer. Dagher hopes the “Factory of the Future 1.0” can help address the state’s housing crisis and revolutionize 3D-home-printing in the process.

“The approach we’ve taken is quite different from what you’ve seen, and you’ve been reading about for years,” he says.

A Home Every 48 Hours

In recent years, 3D-printing has been used to build various structures, from businesses and bridges to mosques. One non-profit is even working on printing schools in a war zone. Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest 3D-printed structure and aims to have 25% of new buildings constructed using 3D printing technology by 2030.

The majority of current 3D printing relies on concrete, with a robotic arm equipped with a nozzle layering wet concrete into the desired shape.

ASCC is taking a different approach. Its massive printer and its predecessor, which in 2019 was certified by Guinness World Records as the “largest prototype polymer 3D printer,” are the only printers building homes with wood residuals, according to Dagher.

This technology has already been tested. In late 2022, the university unveiled the “BioHome3D,” a 600-square-foot single-family unit, which it claims is the world’s first 100% bio-based 3D-printed home, constructed from local wood fiber and bio-resin materials.

“When they’re doing concrete, they’re only printing the walls,” says Dagher. He explains that the floor, roof, and walls of the BioHome3D were all printed.

Concrete homes also need to be built on-site, which can be problematic, especially during the snowy New England winter. “When the weather goes bad for two weeks at a time, you can’t print,” he adds.

In contrast, ASCC printed prefabricated modules at the university and bolted them together on-site to create BioHome3D.

The new printer can produce objects as large as 96 feet long, 32 feet wide, and 18 feet high, and can print up to 500 pounds per hour. Dagher says the goal is to be able to print 1,000 pounds of material in an hour. At that rate, it could reproduce the BioHome3D in 48 hours, he says.

If they can reach that target, their 3D-printed homes will be “very competitive with current housing construction costs,” he adds.

However, processing wood materials at such a high speed can be challenging. Even ASCC’s record-breaking printers sometimes jam. For instance, while printing BioHome3D, the printer stopped working due to a dust buildup. “Nobody’s ever done this before with these kinds of materials,” says Dagher.

‘When Can I Have One?’

The BioHome3D’s warm wooden floors and walls give it a sleek, modern Scandinavian-inspired log cabin look.

“Many people feel concrete is a cold thing to look at and it’s not necessarily where you want to live,” says Dagher. The BioHome3D, however, is “very warm and inviting.”

It’s also sustainable. When a home is no longer needed or wanted, it can be ground up and used to print something else. ASCC is using wood residuals from Maine’s sawmills in its research and is looking into scaling up production using these local byproducts.

Thousands of people have toured the prototype on the university’s Orono, Maine campus, and Dagher says it’s rare when a visitor doesn’t ask, “‘When can I have one?’”

“We hear, ‘You know, I’m retiring, and I want to downsize. Can I put one of these up?’” Dagher says.

There are some obstacles to overcome first. “It takes years for codes to change,” says Dagher, referring to building codes that construction companies must meet.

The printer won’t displace traditional home construction, but in the future, 3D printed homes are likely to comprise a larger share of the world’s housing stock, he predicts.

ASCC is now working on how to incorporate conduits for wiring and plumbing “exactly where an architect would want them” into the printing process, he adds.

The printer’s next big project is a nine-home neighborhood for people experiencing homelessness. ASCC is partnering with a local NGO to design the structures, and printing is set to begin in 2025.

Unlocking the Secrets to Mental Sharpness: Eight Daily Habits for Healthy Aging

Maintaining Cognitive Sharpness: A Guide to Healthy Aging

Maintaining mental acuity as we age isn’t solely reliant on chance. It’s a consequence of our daily routines and lifestyle decisions.

Many marvel at the mental agility of individuals well into their 70s, 80s, and beyond. Yet, it’s no enigma – they adhere to daily practices that foster sharpness.

I’ve observed and aggregated the prevailing habits of such individuals. Surprisingly, it’s never too late to integrate these into your own life.

In this piece, I’ll outline eight daily habits typically embraced by those who retain mental agility well into their senior years. They’re more straightforward than you might imagine.

1) Physical Activity

One of the most prevalent habits among those who sustain mental acuity into their later years? Regular physical activity.

Exercise doesn’t just sustain physical fitness; it profoundly impacts brain health too.

Engaging in physical activities enhances blood circulation to the brain, bolstering cognitive functions. Moreover, it releases neurotransmitters that uplift mood and induce relaxation.

From strolls to yoga, swimming to gardening – the nature of the activity is inconsequential. Consistency is key.

To maintain sharpness as you age, incorporate regular physical activity into your daily regimen. Commence modestly, but commence promptly. It’s never too late to adopt a new habit for your well-being.

2) Continuous Learning

Another habit prevalent among those who maintain mental sharpness is a commitment to lifelong learning.

For instance, my octogenarian aunt, remarkably astute for her age, has always been an avid reader. She commences each day by perusing the newspaper from cover to cover.

Yet, it doesn’t cease there. She actively partakes in book clubs, attends lectures, and even enrolled in an online course last year, delving into ancient history – a topic she’s perennially been captivated by.

What her example underscores is that perpetually learning and stimulating one’s mind isn’t merely beneficial for brain health; it imbues life with interest and excitement.

3) Nutritious Diet

Our dietary choices wield considerable influence over our mental sharpness as we age. Certain foods are known to fortify brain health.

The Mediterranean diet, abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and lean protein, is often correlated with reduced risks of cognitive decline.

It’s not about adhering to stringent dietary regimes, but consistently opting for healthier choices. Incorporating brain-boosting foods like blueberries, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate into our meals can yield significant benefits.

Remember, what you consume doesn’t solely impact your waistline; it profoundly affects your brain health. Make the conscientious decision to nourish your body and mind with wholesome food.

4) Social Engagement

Maintaining social connections is another habit of those who preserve mental sharpness in later years. Human beings thrive on interpersonal interactions.

Whether it involves catching up with friends over coffee, engaging in group activities, or simply conversing with neighbors, regular social interaction invigorates our brains and keeps us mentally stimulated.

Conversely, isolation can exert deleterious effects on both mental and physical well-being. So, keep your social calendar abuzz – it’s beneficial for your brain.

5) Quality Sleep

Obtaining adequate sleep isn’t solely about awakening refreshed; it plays a pivotal role in cognitive health.

During sleep, the brain consolidates memories and eliminates waste products, essentially recharging and resetting.

Individuals who sustain mental sharpness into their later years often prioritize quality sleep as part of their daily routine.

Thus, ensure you’re receiving sufficient sleep each night. Your brain will express gratitude.

6) Mindfulness and Meditation

In today’s frenetic pace, it’s easy to succumb to hustle and bustle, neglecting moments of introspection.

Yet, those who retain mental sharpness as they age often engage in mindfulness or meditation. These practices alleviate stress, enhance concentration, and foster tranquility and well-being.

By grounding ourselves in the present moment, we allow our minds to rejuvenate, fortify, and develop resilience against life’s stressors.

Therefore, allocate a few moments daily to breathe deeply, introspect, and be present. It’s a gift bestowed not only upon oneself but also upon those in one’s orbit.

7) Cognitive Stimulation

Just as physical exercise is vital for maintaining bodily health, cognitive exercises are imperative for brain health.

I recall my grandfather’s daily ritual of solving crosswords. Every evening, he would ensconce himself in his favorite armchair, pencil in hand, deeply engrossed in the puzzle. Even as his eyesight waned, he persisted, switching to larger prints but never relinquishing his beloved crosswords.

Cognitive exercises such as puzzles, board games, or learning a new language challenge our brains, preserving mental agility and staving off cognitive decline.

Embrace the practice of challenging your brain daily. Your future self will be appreciative.

8) Optimistic Outlook

Arguably the most crucial habit is maintaining a positive attitude. Those who retain mental sharpness in their golden years often harbor an optimistic perspective on life.

A positive outlook enhances resilience in confronting stressful situations, mitigates the risk of physical health ailments, and contributes to longevity. It’s a potent tool that shapes our reality and influences mental well-being.

Therefore, endeavor to nurture a positive mindset, even amidst adversity. It transcends mere sentiment; it’s indispensable for cognitive health.

Unlocking the Complex Pursuit of Happiness: Insights from Neuroscientist Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Happiness is a concept deeply embedded in human history, dating back to ancient civilizations. Approximately 250 years ago, it was enshrined as an unalienable right in the United States’ Declaration of Independence: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Despite centuries of contemplation, the notion of happiness and its attainment remains elusive. For some, it signifies a general sense of well-being, while others equate it with moments of pure joy. Some find happiness in achieving dreams, while for others, it could be a blend of these experiences or something entirely different.

Personally, I consider myself a fairly happy person. I have three wonderful teenage daughters and a loving wife, Rebecca, with whom I recently celebrated our 20th anniversary. My family, including my parents and my “baby” brother, is close-knit. My career as a practicing neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent provides me with a sense of purpose. However, I recognize that happiness is complex, layered, and nuanced.

**The Pursuit of Happiness**

A challenging question is how best to pursue happiness. Is it a fixed trait we are born with, or can it be cultivated and enhanced? If it’s the latter, what strategies can help us achieve it?

Despite the “pursuit of Happiness” being a foundational principle in the U.S., many Americans struggle with it. The latest World Happiness Report saw the U.S. drop to 23rd place, its lowest ranking in the report’s 12-year history. Additionally, a 2024 Gallup poll revealed that less than half (47%) of Americans are “very satisfied” with their personal lives.

This issue isn’t confined to Americans; humans as a species might not be naturally adept at achieving happiness. Contrary to what one might expect, happiness isn’t something we are genetically primed to attain; it requires effort.

“If anything, natural selection kind of doesn’t really care about our happiness that much. I mean, natural selection’s job is just to keep us alive and keep us around to reproduce. And I think it does that not by making us feel these moments of contentment but maybe just the opposite,” cognitive scientist Dr. Laurie Santos explained to me recently.

“It does that by building in a negativity bias. So we’re just a little bit worried that there could be a tiger around the corner, that we could get shunned at work. And we’re kind of constantly on the alert for that,” she added.

Dr. Santos, who holds a doctorate in psychology, teaches “Psychology and the Good Life” at Yale University, the most popular course in the university’s history, and hosts “The Happiness Lab” podcast. She was also the first guest on the 10th season of my podcast, “Chasing Life.” This season, I speak with experts across various disciplines about the science of happiness, including its definition, attainment, maintenance, and effects on our minds and bodies.

**I’m Happy but ‘Constructively Dissatisfied’**

Despite being a generally happy person, I also consider myself “constructively dissatisfied,” a term I coined during my conversation with Santos.

I distinguish between happiness and satisfaction, believing that complete satisfaction might erode my happiness by leading to complacency and stagnation. My personality seems to thrive on dissatisfaction, which propels me into action and enhances my energy and enthusiasm.

The times when I feel happiest are when my constructive dissatisfaction drives me to improve situations, whether it’s removing a brain tumor, completing a documentary, working in my garden, or cooking dinner with my family.

Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and author, who also appeared on my podcast, agreed with this perspective. “Because dissatisfaction often is the soil in which growth and positive change happens,” she explained. “And dissatisfaction doesn’t actually have to be a lack of appreciation or gratitude. If you can envision a better future for yourself or others, it requires feeling a gap between how things are and how things could be.”

The “constructive” aspect is crucial to me because I don’t want to merely wallow in dissatisfaction; I want it to be productive. As long as dissatisfaction doesn’t overwhelm my emotional well-being, it benefits me, though it can be a source of tension and struggle.

“It strikes me that you’ve kind of gotten something out of the journey, gotten something out of that struggle,” Santos told me, while also cautioning against overextending oneself. “We can push ourselves and engage in challenges; those can be some of the happiest, most flow-inducing moments of our lives. But we need to make sure we’re doing that in balance.”

She warned that if we lose sleep, neglect friendships, and make ourselves miserable, “maybe think about pushing yourself in a different way.”

To mitigate negative feelings, Santos suggested incorporating moments of true happiness into one’s life. “Maybe I need a little bit more laughter or some breaks, or I need to engage in that purposeful pursuit with a bit more social connection, or something like that.”

**Tried and True Strategies**

According to Santos, most people have a set point of happiness. Mine might be lower than my brother’s, who is more outgoing and cheerful, despite our similar backgrounds. Significant events like winning the lottery or experiencing tragedy can temporarily alter happiness levels, but people typically return to their baseline. However, with diligent practice, Santos believes it’s possible to raise one’s happiness level, a concept she teaches her students.

Santos not only lectures about behaviors and mindsets that boost happiness but also assigns practical “course rewirements” to rewire these practices into students’ lives. Her recommendations include paying attention to sleep, exercise, and diet, becoming more “other”-oriented, and fostering gratitude and compassion.

My favorite advice from her is to nurture social connections. “Every available study of happy people suggests that happy people are more social,” Santos said. And conversely, social people tend to be happier. “So we just need to make time for our friends and family members and loved ones.”

Dr. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist who oversees the Harvard Study of Adult Development, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that good relationships are the key to both happiness and health. Warm relationships help buffer life’s challenges, reducing stress hormones and inflammation, which are linked to many chronic diseases.

This doesn’t mean one must be an extrovert or a social butterfly. Rather, it’s about consistently nurturing relationships. Waldinger advises being proactive in reaching out to friends, establishing routines like weekly calls, refreshing old relationships with new activities, making new friends through shared interests, and initiating conversations with strangers. The right amount of social interaction varies from person to person.

Meaningful relationships are essential to my happiness. I know from experience that strong connections with family and friends are crucial, and they are ultimately what bring me the greatest joy.

Unlocking Restful Sleep: Strategies to Combat Nighttime Phone Use and Improve Sleep Quality

Jessica Peoples, like many individuals today, is no stranger to the cautionary tales surrounding excessive screen time before bed. Despite this awareness, she admits to spending between 30 to 60 minutes on her phone before drifting off to sleep, often engrossed in social media feeds. Peoples, employed as a discrimination investigator with the state of New Jersey, acknowledges the impact of her screen time on her sleep, noting, “Recently, I’ve been trying to limit the amount… I do notice that how much time I spend affects how long it takes to fall asleep.”

The prevalence of this behavior extends beyond just Peoples. A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that over half of Americans engage with their phones within an hour of bedtime, prompting experts to highlight this hour as the cutoff point for device usage. Melissa Milanak, an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina specializing in sleep health, underscores the necessity for the brain to unwind well before bedtime to facilitate restorative deep sleep. Drawing an analogy, she compares the brain’s need to cool down before sleep to letting a casserole cool before refrigerating, emphasizing the importance of this preparatory phase for optimal sleep quality.

While altering bedtime habits may pose challenges, the consequences of insufficient sleep are well-documented, ranging from heightened anxiety to obesity. Research underscores the disruptive impact of smartphones on the body’s circadian rhythm, crucial for regulating sleep and hormone functions. Lisa Strauss, a licensed psychologist focusing on cognitive behavioral treatment of sleep disorders, elucidates the multifaceted ways in which screens impede sleep. Beyond the widely discussed blue light emitted by smartphones, even minimal exposure to bright light in bed can disrupt melatonin production, thus delaying the onset of deep sleep.

However, it’s not merely the light emissions that disrupt sleep patterns; the activities conducted on screens also play a significant role. From endlessly scrolling through news updates to succumbing to the allure of personalized social media content, engaging with digital devices at night carries its own set of repercussions. Technostress, induced by the constant influx of information, can trigger heightened arousal, potentially activating the brain’s fight-or-flight response. Additionally, algorithmically curated content often leads users into prolonged scrolling sessions, far beyond their intended duration.

Despite much of the existing research on digital media’s impact on sleep focusing on younger demographics, Strauss notes that a substantial portion of her clients grappling with insomnia are middle-aged individuals. She observes a trend wherein individuals immerse themselves in online content, spiraling down addictive rabbit holes, irrespective of age.

Breaking the cycle of nighttime phone usage necessitates a holistic approach, encompassing not just restricting phone usage in bed but also revamping evening routines. This entails cultivating alternative activities that provide fulfillment and relaxation. Suggestions include indulging in reading physical books (preferably over e-readers), listening to podcasts, engaging in household chores, spending quality time with family, or connecting with loved ones. Milanak emphasizes the importance of utilizing the pre-sleep hour for tasks devoid of screen involvement, recommending the creation of to-do lists as a means of diverting attention away from rumination in bed.

Moreover, it’s crucial to establish a mental association between the bed and sleep by performing non-screen-related activities in another room. Strauss advocates for delineating distinct microenvironments for wakefulness and sleep, even if it entails minor adjustments like altering one’s seating position or facing a different direction. Placing the phone out of reach, preferably in another room, serves as a practical measure to minimize the temptation of late-night screen usage.

For those finding complete cessation of nighttime phone usage unfeasible, there are strategies to mitigate the adverse effects. Implementing night mode settings on devices or gradually reducing screen brightness can help attenuate the impact of artificial light on sleep quality. Minimizing disruptive notifications by activating “do not disturb” mode, with exceptions for essential contacts, offers a compromise between connectivity and sleep hygiene. However, Strauss cautions against viewing these measures as a carte blanche for unrestricted nocturnal screen time, encouraging individuals to reflect on the underlying reasons driving their late-night digital habits.

In essence, addressing the pervasive issue of nighttime phone usage necessitates a comprehensive overhaul of bedtime routines and digital habits. By fostering alternative pre-sleep activities and implementing practical strategies to minimize screen exposure, individuals can reclaim restful sleep and mitigate the detrimental effects of excessive screen time on sleep quality and overall well-being.

Enhance Mental Resilience and Revitalize Metabolism with a 30-Minute Weight-Free Walking Routine

In a bid to cultivate mental fortitude and invigorate metabolic activity, a 30-minute walking workout devoid of weights emerges as a versatile regimen accessible to all, irrespective of location or fitness level.

Collaborating with outdoor footwear giant Merrell, Goop introduces a mindful walking meditation aimed at fostering an enhanced connection with nature while promoting mindfulness. The session, spearheaded by Mel Mah, serves as a guided practice tailored for outdoor environments, be it a hike, beach stroll, park visit, or even a simple backyard excursion. “Developing a deep connection with nature is a matter of getting out in it,” underscores the team. With just half an hour dedicated to this endeavor, participants are encouraged to immerse themselves in the present moment.

For those venturing into public spaces, outfitting with premium workout headphones ensures privacy during this introspective journey. Time spent amidst nature yields multifaceted benefits, ranging from improved sleep and stress reduction to lowered heart rates. Furthermore, research suggests that exposure to outdoor settings, particularly natural landscapes, fosters heightened creativity.

Mah emphasizes the significance of connection in facilitating a deceleration of pace. “Let’s begin by slowing down the mind and body,” she suggests. Commencing with a series of preparatory steps involving closing one’s eyes, elongating the spine, and tuning into bodily sensations through mindful breathing sets the tone for the session.

A notable aspect of Mah’s approach is the delayed introduction of walking, accommodating individuals not solely focused on physical exertion. To fully leverage the 30-minute walking workout, initiating the walk prior to commencing the session is advised.

The Physical and Mental Perks of Outdoor Walking

From a physical standpoint, brisk walking proves instrumental in sustaining a robust metabolism, curbing sedentary behavior, and contributing to Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which encompasses calorie expenditure beyond formal workouts. While the session is framed as a walking meditation, it can seamlessly transition into a workout by incorporating light handheld weights, ankle or wrist weights, amplifying pace, or tackling undulating terrains to elevate heart rate, introduce resistance, and intensify muscle engagement.

However, weighted accessories are not indispensable for reaping rewards. Mental resilience can be honed concurrently with physical conditioning, utilizing body weight to fortify muscles, joints, bones, and ligaments. Moreover, the session underscores a strong emphasis on mindfulness, allowing for moments of silence for personal exploration or heightened intensity if desired.

It is noteworthy that any form of exercise, including walking, contributes positively to overall well-being, with a daily target of 7,000 steps recommended. Individuals pursuing weight loss objectives may find the session’s intensity insufficient and may opt for alternative routines geared towards this goal.

In addition to uplifting mood and mindfulness, walking fosters strength in lower body musculature and vital joints such as hips, knees, and ankles, crucial for preserving muscle mass and bone density with advancing age. This aligns with osteogenic loading, a process wherein bones undergo stimulation for growth and reinforcement.

During the walking session, participants are encouraged to immerse themselves in their surroundings, keenly observing scents, sounds, and tactile sensations. Conscious engagement with foot movements and rhythmic breathing serves to tether the mind to the present, fostering a deeper connection with the sensory experience.

1 May, 2024: The First of May set in Tartu, Estonia

It is Kevadpüha. It is the first day of spring, a day of great festivity and warmth for the Estonian people. Had Mother not had her mother-in-law at home, she would be spending the entire night with her sister, Eha, and her nephew, Jaan, out on the streets of Tartu, celebrating the Walpurgis Night to the fireworks above the town hall building. Of course things are different this year for many reasons. Her nephew is growing to become a teenager and wants to spend less time with the uncool adults who helped raise him. And Mother has been so busy being a second mother to her mother-in-law that she has little time to meet her sister. She hasn’t met her in months and has no idea what is going on in her life, which is why she decided to call her some days ago and invite herself over, to the house she used to visit regularly, in an attempt to celebrate the first day of spring like they used to.

It is Kevadpüha. Mother didn’t come the evening before because there was no way she could have spent a whole night without sleeping after taking care of her mother-in-law all day. Mother comes at seven in the morning, the hour during which Eha readies herself for work. It is in theory the start of spring, but the weather is still incredibly cold. The morning’s temperature is right about zero, and it is hard to bear because of Mother’s lack of fat on her bones and the lack of sunlight above to warm her in its glow. Eha has a beautiful backyard with ample space for a garden and an apple tree, but all that one can see in this hour is the dead, dry, blacked-out branches, the frosted wooden planks of the fence, and the snow. Mother finds the key Eha hides under a doormat—some things never change—and uses it with the fence that will lead to the back of Eha’s home.

Indoors, Mother is greeted by the heat. She takes off all of her outerwear, hangs them in the closet, sits herself at the table in the kitchen, and lets the hot air from the heater blow right over her back.

Just as planned, Mother’s arrival coincides with Eha finishing her shower. She comes downstairs with her blond hair wrapped in a towel. She is looking wet from the shower but also from the excess make-up and lip balm that she cakes on her face. She is wearing a tight black dress that cover her legs but shows off her cleavage. Mother notices the stretch marks and wrinkles around her breasts. She looks like a mess, Mother thinks in the back of her head. Mother feels like she should admonish her for wearing clothes that show off her body in unflattering way, particularly since Eha is aging, but she chooses not to. Her sister will fight with her if she says it.

,, Good morning, Jelena,” Eha says, looking downwards to mind her steps but also connecting her gaze with Mother’s eyes. Her eyes are warm and expressive because of the full shape of her eyelids, but they are icy blue, which make even her casual glance a little piercing.  ,, How was your trip to the house?”

,, Good morning, Eha,” Mother says. ,, My trip was good. Normal. I am a regular, after all.”

Mother laughs and puts her hand on the table, showing off her confidence.

Eha doesn’t respond but focuses on her steps, as if she is having trouble with the dimness of the lights and the shadows being cast by the stair planks.

,,Why are you taking so long to come down?” Mother asks, a light boastfulness in her voice. ,, Are you having trouble? Don’t tell me, you are becoming old like me.”

Again, Eha doesn’t retort. She reaches the end of the bannister and tells Mother, ,, Age is a funny thing, yes. It affects us all, whether it is today or someday.”

Mother curls her fingers on the table. She is used to Eha being snappy, willing to get into an argument over whatever Mother says. But today she is being quite self-effacing, slow, and contemplative.

Did something change over the first few months of the year that Mother did not know about?

Eha opens the fridge, takes out a bunch of food, readies some plates and pans. She seems to be making pancakes, as is the tradition of her house. Mother stands up to help her, but as she grabs at the eggs, Eha slaps her hands away.

,, You have some morning coffee,” she says, and she pours some from the kettle, probably made an hour earlier. Eha has the habit of leaving the stove flame on while the coffee brews during her shower so that it will be piping hot for breakfast. Eha thrusts a cup into Mother’s hand, singeing it. Mother retreats quickly to the table to put it down.

,, Let me help you with the breakfast,” Mother says as she flicks her hand in the air to soothe the burn.

,, You sit, and you wait for your food,” Eha says. ,, It has been too long since you had any of my food.”

Yes, it has, Mother thinks to herself, which is why she wants to help with the breakfast. When Mother helps with the breakfast, she feels like a part of the kitchen. But today she is being served like a guest, which makes her feel even more removed. It doesn’t help that the house looks different. Generally, Eha’s house is decorated like any other traditional house, with brown wooden walls and the smell of wheat almost staining the air, but in the last few months someone has hung up a number of pop art pictures here or there. Mother is tempted to ask if Jaan is suddenly getting interested in Andy Warhol, or contemporary art.

,, Will Jaan come down soon?” Mother asks. Eha is meticulously whisking batter and pouring jams into small little plates.

,, He will come when he comes,” is all she says. Then she follows it up with:. ,, By the way, his style has changed. You will be surprised.”

How? Mother wants to ask. Eha’s comment is the type of thing one says when one wants to invite more questions. Mother feels like her sister has purposefully said it to get a rise out of her. She remembers the last time she tried to pry into Jaan’s life. She had forced herself into his room when he was supposed to be coming down for breakfast and caught him masturbating. She still feels the shame in seeing what she saw, and in the lack of conversation she should have had with him. As that shame returns to her body, the questions in Mother’s mind still, and she finds herself wanting to change the subject.

,, Is your husband joining us for breakfast?” Mother asks.

Eha puts a pancake on the pan and readies another, but instead of answering Mother, she responds with her own question. ,, How is life at home going? How is Kaspar?”

,, Kaspar is fine,” Mother says. ,, But now, there is also the question of Kaspar’s mother.”

Mother puts a dry smile onto her face, but really she is getting worried. There is a lot on Mother’s mind that goes unsaid. Father was kind enough to hire a nurse to take care of her for a few hours, but Mother can’t help but think the worst of things. Will this nurse abuse her mother-in-law while no one is there to observe her? Will she do the work that is expected of her, or will she sit there and watch TV, waiting for Mother to return to get her hands dirty? Was it a good idea to take time off like this? Is it worth it, too, if Mother and her sister are simply going to be sitting here, having breakfast, like they used to in the past before Mother became so busy?

Mother looks up. Eha is looking directly at Mother this time. It is not a casual look. It’s like Eha is looking into Mother, prying something out of her, and taking the time to examine it, without Mother’s consent. Mother feels vulnerable. She winces, wondering what Eha sees.

Is Eha about to say something? It has to be something that is going to hurt.

Eha says: ,, I am proud of you, you know that?”

,, What?” Mother says, actually aloud. She clarifies: ,, What is there to be proud of?”

,, You are thinking a lot about your mother-in-law. It is not how you normally behave.”

Mother scoffs. ,, I do a lot for my family. Don’t you remember how much I did for you and your son? Or now that I am rarely here, are you forgetting?”

Eha ignores Mother and continues. ,, It is nice, all that you are doing for your husband. It’s a big sacrifice you are taking on. I don’t think I would be able to change my lifestyle like you have done. And you genuinely care for her. I know you want to complain, but I see it in your eyes. You genuinely care.”

Mother lets out a sigh. She cannot help it. She did not even know she had a sigh inside of her. She was not expecting Eha to say any of these nice things. It is like she has been punched in the stomach, but in a positive way. Her eyes are watering.

It’s been months, and everyone has gotten busy and grown apart, pulled in all the different directions that life is taking them.

But Eha, of all people, had taken the time to appreciate Mother. It makes Mother feel like all of the hard work she has done for her mother-in-law has made a difference, just like all the other times she has made sacrifices for the people she loves and cares for. Suddenly, it all feels like time and effort well spent. The clarity that only distance provides means that, for once, she is being seen by her sister. It is a distance that is worth it.

Unveiling the Power of Walking: A Pathway to Holistic Health and Wellness

The Revelation of Walking

In the domain of health and fitness, walking often remains overshadowed by more vigorous exercises. Nevertheless, it stands out as one of the most efficient methods to improve overall health. From enhancing mental clarity to boosting cardiovascular fitness and managing weight, the advantages of walking are extensive and profound.

Tailoring Your Daily Walk

Determining the ideal daily walking distance isn’t as simple as it appears. It’s not merely about adhering to a standard but about customizing your walk to suit your individual health condition and objectives:

Weight Considerations: “Heavier individuals burn more calories per mile; thus, your body weight influences how much you should walk.”

Start Gradually: For newcomers to regular exercise, commencing with manageable distances and gradually increasing both the pace and duration of your walk is crucial.

Set Clear Goals: Establish clear, attainable objectives. If weight loss is your aim, you may need to aim for longer walks.

Dietary Integration: “Integrating walking with a balanced diet is crucial. The synergy of diet and walking can accelerate your progress towards your fitness goals.”

Optimal Walking Metrics

While individual needs differ, a general guideline for those aiming to improve fitness is to target around 10,000 steps daily, equivalent to approximately 7 to 8 kilometers. This objective aligns well with burning roughly 300 to 400 calories each day, potentially resulting in a loss of about half a kilogram per week when combined with a suitable diet.

Incorporating Walking Into a Busy Schedule

In today’s fast-paced world, achieving 10,000 steps daily might seem daunting. Here’s how I integrate walking into my hectic life:

Break It Down: “Segment Your Walks: Break down the goal into smaller, more manageable walks throughout the day. This could mean a morning walk, a midday stroll, and an evening walk.”

Walk to Work: If viable, walking to work not only contributes to your step count but also energizes your morning.

Choose Stairs: “Stairs Over Elevators: Opt for the stairs whenever possible to increase calorie burn.”

Walking Meetings: Transforming catch-ups into walking meetings not only benefits physical health but can also enhance creativity and team spirit.

Monitor Progress: Utilizing a pedometer or smartphone app to monitor your steps can offer motivation and accountability.

Walking surpasses mere physical exertion; it serves as a cornerstone of wellness, supporting both the mind and body in harmonious ways. While the 10,000-step goal serves as an excellent starting point, personalizing this target to align with your unique health journey is crucial for optimal benefits. Walking is less about reaching a destination and more about savoring each step on the journey towards a healthier, more vibrant life.

Exploring India’s Economic Schism: A Journey with Amina from Poverty to Opulence

Close to the area I once called home lies one of India’s most dazzling shopping centers. During the day, the immense structure overshadows everything in its vicinity. At night, a dazzling array of lights starkly contrasts with the neighboring shops and houses, which have taken on a worn appearance from pollution and rain.

Within this grand establishment named Quest, residents of Kolkata with substantial disposable incomes indulge in luxury foreign brands like Gucci and dine at Michelin-starred restaurants.

However, life outside continues at a steady pace for individuals like my acquaintance, Amina.

She resides in a slum nestled in the shadow of Quest.

Amina embodies a statistic often mentioned yet rarely acknowledged: Approximately 60% of India’s nearly 1.3 billion inhabitants subsist on less than $3.10 per day, according to the World Bank’s median poverty line. Moreover, over 250 million people, constituting 21% of the population, survive on less than $2 per day.

Growing up as a middle-class Indian, I had limited exposure to the lives of the underprivileged. We inhabited distinct spheres, a divide that seemed to widen as India surged forward as a global economic force. While the affluent prospered, the impoverished largely remained in their dire circumstances, contributing to the expanding gap.

Presently, the wealthiest 10% in India command 80% of the nation’s wealth, as reported by Oxfam in 2017. Furthermore, the top 1% possesses 58% of the country’s wealth, in stark contrast to the United States, where the richest 1% owns 37% of the wealth.

Another illuminating perspective reveals that the wealth of 16 individuals in India equates to that of 600 million people.

These eye-opening statistics about my homeland evoke a sense of dichotomy. One facet of India showcases billionaires, technological advancements, nuclear capabilities, and democratic values. Conversely, there exists another India, inhabited by individuals like Amina, where nearly 75% of the population resides in villages, engaged in arduous labor; only 11% own refrigerators, and 35% lack basic literacy skills.

I am meeting Amina today because policymakers and journalists seldom engage with individuals like her to assess India’s progress. Quest Mall in Kolkata symbolizes India’s economic triumph, and I am curious to hear Amina’s perspective on it.

Amina and I go way back to 1998 when she began working at my parents’ residence. Each morning, she would trek from her dwelling about a mile and a half away, arriving around 10 AM to tend to household chores. Despite her age, which she claimed to be around 50 despite lacking any documentation, she exhibited remarkable resilience from years of domestic labor.

My mother held Amina in high regard, and even after my parents passed away in 2001 and I sold the flat, I made a point to visit Amina whenever I returned to Kolkata.

Over time, I learned about the challenges she faced, particularly after her husband’s passing, which left her struggling to secure steady employment due to her declining health. Despite my attempts to assist her financially, Amina insisted on earning her keep by offering services like massages or pedicures.

My frequent visits to India stem not only from my distinct upbringing but also from a deep fascination with the country’s evolution from a poverty-stricken former colony to a formidable global player.

I am mindful that Western perceptions of India often revolve around clichés such as corruption, traffic accidents, pollution, arranged marriages, and vibrant festivals. However, India’s societal landscape has evolved significantly, characterized by a burgeoning youth population, a surge in urban obesity rates, and the transformation of traditional trades due to the proliferation of the IT sector.

Such transformations necessitate constant reacquaintance with my birthplace.

Today, I am eager to reconnect with Amina and assess her well-being since our last encounter. Navigating through dim, labyrinthine alleys, I reach Amina’s modest dwelling. The air is thick with the aroma of cooking spices mingling with the acrid scent of coal-burning stoves.

Amina’s living conditions, reminiscent of those depicted in Katherine Boo’s “Beyond the Beautiful Forevers,” epitomize the struggles faced by individuals like her. Amidst scratched aluminum pots and an antiquated television set, Amina resides in a dimly lit room devoid of windows, paying a monthly rent equivalent to what she once earned at my parents’ residence.

Her room serves as a shared space for her and her grandchildren, offering a glimpse into the harsh realities endured by marginalized communities.

Economists like Devinder Sharma advocate for an alternative approach to India’s development, urging policymakers to address the systemic inequalities perpetuated by existing tax structures and government incentives that primarily benefit the affluent.

Conversely, Indian entrepreneurs attribute the widening wealth gap to systemic issues such as government corruption and inefficiency. Factors like gender, caste, and geographic location further exacerbate disparities, as highlighted by economic development expert Raj Desai.

As I engage with Amina in her humble abode, I am struck by her physical frailty, a stark contrast to her once robust demeanor. Despite her diminished mobility, Amina’s resilience remains evident as she eagerly anticipates our outing.

Accompanied by her granddaughter, Manisha, Amina ventures into an unfamiliar realm as we arrive at Quest Mall, where the dichotomy between old and new becomes palpable.

Outside the opulent mall, street vendors like Tapan Datta continue their daily routines, unfazed by the extravagant offerings within. However, our attempt to enter the mall is met with resistance from a vigilant security guard, underscoring the exclusivity of such establishments.

Inside, Amina’s astonishment at the immaculate surroundings is evident, offering a glimpse into a world previously beyond her reach. As we explore the mall, I observe the incongruity between the exorbitant price tags and Amina’s meager means, highlighting the stark disparities perpetuated by India’s economic growth.

While Amina’s inability to comprehend the astronomical prices provides a sense of relief, it also serves as a poignant reminder of the insurmountable barriers faced by individuals like her.

As we reflect on our experience, Amina’s poignant words resonate deeply, encapsulating the profound sense of resignation prevalent among marginalized communities.

Amidst academic discourse and policy debates surrounding India’s economic trajectory, Amina’s plight serves as a poignant reminder of the inherent inequities perpetuated by systemic injustices.

Despite the ongoing discourse regarding India’s economic future, the fundamental question of how to alleviate widespread poverty remains unanswered. While some advocate for progressive policies aimed at redistributing wealth, others emphasize the importance of addressing systemic issues such as education and healthcare.

As I bid farewell to Amina, her poignant words linger, serving as a testament to the enduring resilience of individuals like her amidst formidable challenges. In her world, devoid of the prospect of upward mobility, the American dream remains an elusive notion.

As I depart, I am reminded of the stark juxtaposition between luxury and deprivation, a sobering reality that underscores the urgent need for inclusive economic reforms aimed at uplifting the most vulnerable segments of society.

Solar New Year celebrations unite religious groups across the South Asian diaspora

(RNS) — For the past week, between April 9 and 15, South Asians celebrated the beginning of a new year with friends and family. Although originating in the Hindu luni-solar calendar — the Vedic auspicious month of Chaitra marks the beginning of a joyous new spring season and harvest — New Year celebrations have been adopted and adapted by religions and cultures across the Indian subcontinent.

Indians from all backgrounds celebrate according to their community’s socio-religious customs and unique calendars, from Ugadi for Telegus and Kannadigas in the southern states to the Gudi Padwa festival of western Maharashtra to the northern Assamese New Year celebration of Bohag Bihu, just to name a few.

And for those who immigrated to the United States from India, Bangladesh, Nepal or Sri Lanka, these New Year celebrations emphasize an important aspect of South Asian diasporic identity: the cultural heritage they share, rather than religious differences.

“It’s not just about crops,” said Sahej Preet Singh, a Sikh man from the northwestern state of Punjab, who moved to the United States in his 20s. “It’s not just about religion. It’s a lot more than that. It’s the culture, it’s the food, it’s that sense of belonging in the rest of the community, and all the communities coming together. It’s really about brotherhood.”

Singh, who now works as a community engagement manager for the Sikh Coalition, said that when he first immigrated, the loss of community was palpable. It was common for doors in his small town to be unlocked so friends could come and go without asking, but in an apartment in Queens, New York, he didn’t even know his neighbors. Holiday celebrations, like Vaisakhi, the New Year holiday in his Punjabi culture, have helped build a new diaspora community that is much more diverse.

“Here, you might be able to see South Indians and Marathis and Punjabis and Gujaratis all celebrating Gudi Padwa or Vaisakhi,” said Singh, who fondly remembers his mother feeding him a dessert so the New Year would start off with some sweetness.

Vaisakhi, with its colorful processions, large langar meal at the gurdwara and melodious “kirtans,” or group devotional singing, marks the start of a plentiful harvest season for the farm-heavy land of Punjab and the establishment of the Sikh faith by Guru Gobind Singh, though it was a festival time for Punjabis of all faiths.

Moving here, said Singh, who is now in upstate New York, has allowed him to better understand the commonalities between Indians and South Asians as a whole, giving him a piece of home to hold onto. The new community he has formed in the United States, he says, is a reflection of the diversity that only a place like the U.S. can bring.

“I might see somebody on the street who might not be Punjabi but they might be South Indian or Marathi or Gujurati, and I will still probably make it a point to at least nod and say hi to them,” he said. “You know, even shared iftar dinners are becoming a big deal here now.”

Naznin Seamon, a Bengali poet who moved to Queens, New York, in 1997, wants to keep religion and culture separate.

“We have so many problems, so many issues, but these cultural events, these cultural things, they actually make us open our mind,” said Seamon, a Muslim from Bangladesh. “They help us flourish, help our creativity. And it is a source of joy.”

The New Year celebration of Pohela Boishakh, celebrated by ethnic Bengali people from India and Bangladesh, has its roots in the Mughal empire, when Muslim leadership decided to switch from the Arabic lunar calendar to the Hindu solar agricultural calendar to better reflect the harvesting of crops, thus marking a new tax cycle and accounting year.

Some of Seamon’s fondest memories from Bangladesh, she says, were made during her town’s Pohela Boishakh festivities. She would look forward every year to donning a typical white and red sari, with bindi and flowers in her hair, to attend a colorful fair where she got to ride a Ferris wheel and look at photographs in a ViewMaster. Bengali Muslims and Hindus would sell their goods, including homemade animal masks that would be worn at a parade.

Though some would pray to Hindu gods for a bountiful and prosperous harvest, Pohela Boishakh is for all, Seamon says, despite a growing charge by some Muslim religious fundamentalists to discourage the sharing of a holiday they say is rooted in Hinduism.

“To celebrate any culture. I don’t have to follow that religion,” said Seamon, who is also a high school teacher. In Queens, she says the Bengali population is ever-growing, so much that she now teaches Bangla and is in charge of the Bangla Student Association at her school. The idea of celebrating Pohela Boishakh with her students, she says, is not only for them to “get off their phones,” but to appreciate the diversity of their parents’ homelands.

“Just because we came to a different country and we have so many opportunities doesn’t mean that I have to forget my own roots,” she said. “Coming to a new country is adapting and accepting, not changing my own identity, because every culture is beautiful in its own way.”

Kathirvel Kumararaja, a Hindu from Tamil Nadu in the south of India, is also seeking to help diaspora children take pride in their origins. He is the president of the more than 50-year-old New York Tamil Sangam — the first community organization for the ethnic and linguistic group in North America. The platform is for the “global Tamil community,” which stretches from India to Southeast Asia, to “share pride in belonging.”

“Starting from Indra Nooyi, Sundar Pichai, to the vice president of America, Kamala Harris — they’re all Tamils and come from the same tradition,” said Kumararaja, who is also the chair for the International Tamil Entrepreneur Network. “Starbucks CEO, FedEx CEO, you name it, they’re all Tamils. These kids have so many role models in society.”

Puthandu, the New Year holiday marking the beginning of the Tamil calendar and month of Chitterai, is a time for family, according to Kumararaja, who is married to a Tamil Christian. Kids and parents arise at the same time, laying eyes on a mirror in which they can see an abundant tray of fruits, flowers and coins, as well as a dish of raw mango, tamarind, jaggery and neem leaf, which they eat “just to show that life is sweet and sour.” Everyone prays together, seeks blessing from their elders and eats typical Tamil delicacies to bring in a prosperous beginning.

And importantly, the holiday is a public observance back home for all Tamil people, whether they are of Hindu, Christian or Muslim background. Like other ethnic New Years, including Chinese New Year, he says, many people don’t necessarily look at the Scriptures to find a reason to celebrate. It is a joyous time for all, reflected in his New York organization’s celebration with musical performances from popular Tamil singers.

“Typically, acculturation happens in American society in the name of freedom,” he said. The community festivals, he said, are one way to “show our kids what our culture is about and what are the values that we as Tamils represent. We don’t have to be shy about our culture or identity.”

Appen Menon, a board of trustees member for the Kerala Center of New York, understands this multi-religiosity. Hailing from the southern state of Kerala, where Christianity and Islam are widely practiced, Menon’s organization is no stranger to hosting combined cultural and religious events, like Easter and Vishu celebration.

“It’s a great feeling that we have people from diverse backgrounds from Kerala here, and we all celebrate all the celebrations including religious holidays together,” said Menon. “Although we are away from home, we found a home here.”

Vishu, the New Year holiday of Malayali Hindus marking the defeat of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna, begins before dawn, when devotees make sure to lay their eyes on an idol of Krishna and a plate of abundance first thing after they wake up. Families then bathe, eat a sweet dish, go to the temple and finish the celebration with a sumptuous lunch feast.

While the scale of celebration cannot be the same in the U.S. as it is in Kerala, Menon, an attorney, says there are still benefits from forming new traditions. He and his family never celebrated Diwali, the well-known Hindu festival of light, in the same festive way of North Indians, but here, they are able to join in.

“While you’re in India, you know, you don’t see too many people from other states,” he said. “You see mostly people from Kerala and you are not exposed to those kinds of celebrations. Here, we are. And in a big way or small way, we also participate.”

After a delicious feast made by his wife, which he says he “can claim he helped with,” Menon says it’s time for a nap and a reflection on the new year.

“Back in India, when I was growing up, I didn’t know too much Hindi,” he said. “But I heard this phrase: ‘Alag bhasha, alag vesh, phir bhi apna ek desh.’”

Different language, different dress, still a country of our own.

Global Study Reveals Alarming Rise in Cyberbullying Among Adolescents: Urgent Calls for Action

An international study has revealed that nearly one in six adolescents have encountered cyberbullying, with an increase in such incidents among school-aged children since the onset of the pandemic, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). Conducted across 44 countries and regions, the study involved over 279,000 young participants. In Wales, where approximately 37,000 youths were surveyed, 17% reported being victims of cyberbullying. The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey indicates a rise in the proportion of adolescents experiencing cyberbullying since 2018, with figures climbing from 12% to 15% for boys and from 13% to 16% for girls.

England and Scotland also witnessed alarming rates of cyberbullying among their youth. In England, out of over 4,200 respondents, nearly one in five (19%) disclosed being cyberbullied at least once or twice in recent months, with 11% admitting to perpetrating cyberbullying themselves. Similarly, in Scotland, where more than 4,300 young individuals participated, 18% reported experiencing cyberbullying, while 11% acknowledged engaging in cyberbullying behavior.

The report underscores an “urgent need” to enhance awareness among young people, families, and educational institutions regarding the various forms of cyberbullying and its consequences. Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, emphasized the heightened prevalence of cyberbullying amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, as social interactions shifted predominantly online during lockdowns. He stressed the imperative of addressing virtual forms of peer violence to safeguard the health and well-being of adolescents and young individuals. With youths spending significant amounts of time online daily, even minor fluctuations in bullying rates can significantly impact their overall health and well-being, warranting comprehensive action to combat cyberbullying as both a health and human rights concern.

Sarah Hannafin, a senior policy adviser for the NAHT school leaders’ union, expressed deep concern over the escalating rates of cyberbullying among children. She highlighted the pervasive nature of online bullying, which can occur anytime and anywhere, underscoring that schools alone cannot tackle the issue. Hannafin urged swift and effective implementation of the Online Safety Act by the government, emphasizing the crucial role of social media platforms in providing a safe online environment.

Responding to these concerns, a spokesperson for the UK government reiterated their commitment to making the UK the safest place for children online through the Online Safety Act. The act mandates companies to take decisive measures to protect children from harmful content, illegal activities, and abuse, including cyberbullying. Non-compliant companies risk facing fines of up to 10% of their global annual revenue, potentially amounting to billions of pounds.

Finland Retains Title as World’s Happiest Country; Denmark Follows Close Behind

Finland has once again secured the top position on the annual ranking of the happiest countries globally, marking its seventh consecutive year in this esteemed spot. The ranking, curated by the World Happiness Report, is determined by factors such as self-assessed life evaluations and responses to the Cantril ladder question, which prompts individuals to rate their current lives on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible life for them.

The report, compiled by the Wellbeing Research Centre at the University of Oxford, assesses over 130 countries, taking into account variables such as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and freedom from corruption. While the top ten countries have remained relatively stable, the top 20 witnessed some changes, with Costa Rica and Kuwait ascending to the 12th and 13th positions, respectively, while the United States and Germany dropped out of the top 20 entirely, with the U.S. sliding from 15th to 23rd place this year.

Among the top ten happiest nations, only the Netherlands and Australia boast populations exceeding 15 million, while in the top 20, only Canada and the U.K. surpass 30 million inhabitants.

Finnland maintains its lead as the happiest country globally, scoring 7.741. Frank Martela, a Finnish philosopher and psychology researcher, attributes the nation’s happiness to its strong sense of community, altruistic behaviors, and individuals finding a clear purpose for themselves. Martela suggests that it might be more precise to say that Finland harbors the fewest unhappy individuals worldwide.

Finnland’s excellence extends beyond happiness rankings, as evidenced by its performance in education, work-life balance, environmental quality, social connections, safety, and life satisfaction, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index. The country also boasts a life expectancy at birth of approximately 82 years, with women outliving men by an average of six years. Moreover, 96% of Finns believe they have someone reliable to lean on in times of need, as per the OECD Better Life Index.

Denmark secures the second spot on the happiness index with a score of 7.583. The nation’s high ranking is attributed, in part, to its commitment to equality and social welfare responsibilities, according to its official website. These factors are closely associated with happiness, according to the World Happiness Report.

Despite Denmark’s reputation for imposing some of the world’s highest taxes, which can reach up to half of an individual’s income, the benefits counterbalance the costs. The country offers free healthcare, subsidized childcare, tuition-free education for university students along with grants to cover expenses, and pensions for the elderly coupled with caregiver support.

According to the OECD Better Life Index, Denmark surpasses the global average in various domains including employment, education, healthcare, environmental quality, social connections, civic engagement, and life satisfaction. Additionally, Denmark holds membership in prominent international organizations such as the OECD and NATO.

Extravagant Pre-Wedding Bash Unites Billionaires, Bollywood, and Rihanna in Indian Splendor

If the golf courses appeared a bit less populated this weekend, it’s likely because some of the world’s wealthiest individuals gathered for the pre-wedding festivities of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in the Indian city of Jamnagar. The son of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Anant, is set to marry Radhika this summer, marking an opulent celebration that rivals those of his siblings. The event boasted a Rihanna performance, an extensive dress code spanning nine pages, and notable personalities such as Mark Zuckerberg.

The Nuptial Couple:

Anant Ambani, the youngest scion of Mukesh Ambani, and Radhika Merchant are set to tie the knot. Mukesh, the ninth-richest person globally and the wealthiest in Asia, heads Reliance Industries, a conglomerate with interests in oil, textiles, telecommunications, and entertainment. Radhika, hailing from a wealthy background herself, is the daughter of Viren Merchant, CEO of Encore Healthcare.

Star-Studded Guest List:

The celebration played host to a guest list that read like a who’s who of the business world, featuring renowned figures such as Bill Gates, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Notably, Rihanna graced the event with a performance for which she reportedly received around $9 million. Other attendees included David Blaine, Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, and even Ivanka Trump (though Hillary Clinton’s attendance remained uncertain).

Historical Precedent:

This extravagant celebration follows in the footsteps of Anant’s elder siblings. Isha Ambani’s wedding in 2018 featured a performance by Beyoncé, while her twin brother’s nuptials in 2019 included a pre-wedding bash with Coldplay and the Chainsmokers. It seems being an Ambani guarantees a musical extravaganza.

Rihanna’s Showstopper:

Videos circulating online suggest that Rihanna’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. The singer performed hits like “Work,” “Bitch Better Have My Money,” and “Stay,” making it a night to remember for the guests.

Beyond Business:

Amidst lavish dinners featuring 500 dishes prepared by 100 chefs, the festivities took a philanthropic turn with a visit to an animal-rescue center run by Reliance. Anant, known for his passion for animals, has transformed the center into a haven for rescued animals, including one of the world’s largest elephant hospitals.

The dress code for various events spanned nine pages, incorporating themes like “jungle fever” and traditional Indian garb. Guests were treated to a visually stunning array of outfits, with Mark Zuckerberg’s flashy attire drawing attention and Bill Gates donning a tasteful Champagne-colored Jodhpuri suit for his first Indian wedding experience.

Ivanka Trump’s Instagram Chronicles:

Ivanka Trump, not one to miss an opportunity, shared multiple Instagram posts showcasing her various outfits and providing glimpses into the festivities. One notable post featured a high-speed Ferris wheel, sparking curiosity about the unconventional entertainment at the event.

Steaming Sartorial Solutions

Even amidst such grandeur, practical details surfaced. The dress code included a directive for a three-hour turnaround time for clothes requiring steaming, with a firm note emphasizing the feasibility of adhering to this timeline. The laundry team, it seems, established clear boundaries even in the midst of such opulence.

In essence, the pre-wedding celebration of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant emerged as a fusion of extravagance, star power, and philanthropy, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of opulent matrimonial festivities.

Flaunting Wealth Amidst Global Crisis: Inside the Lavish Ambani Pre-Wedding Extravaganza

They argue that while money can’tpurchase affection, it can undoubtedly fund a lavish pre-wedding extravaganza. The world’s elite are presently recuperating from a three-day spectacle in India celebrating the imminent marriage of Anant Ambani, the youngest offspring of Asia’s wealthiest individual.

The celebration, reportedly priced at $120 million, epitomized extravagance: it boasted a detailed nine-page attire guideline, an exclusive performance by Rihanna, and a banquet that even Nero might have deemed excessive.

“Twenty-one chefs concocted ’75 types of dishes for breakfast, more than 225 types of dishes for lunch, 275 types of dishes for dinner, and 85 types of items … [for] the midnight meal,'” elaborated the Times of India. The aim was to ensure that none of the guests, among them Mark Zuckerberg, Ivanka Trump, and Bill Gates, would experience the indignity of eating the same meal twice.

While the notion of outrageously affluent individuals indulging in exorbitant activities isn’t novel, the conspicuousness of the Ambani pre-wedding gala is noteworthy. It was so extravagant that even the Daily Mail, not typically associated with leftist views, penned a dismayed article highlighting that the lavish celebrations occurred “just yards from where some of the poorest people on earth eke out a living.”

Flaunting Wealth Amidst Global Crisis Inside the Lavish Ambani Pre Wedding Extravaganza

The stark contrast between multimillion-dollar feasts and Gujarati slums wasn’t the sole disconcerting aspect of the event. In recent times, there has been a noticeable shift towards “stealth wealth” or “quiet luxury.” The ultra-rich have opted for more understated displays of their immense wealth, signaling affluence through subtle status symbols rather than ostentatious labels. However, the Ambani festivities deviated from this trend, representing a bold return to the overt excess and conspicuous consumption reminiscent of the 1980s.

Admittedly, the Ambani family has never adhered to the understated luxury trend. They have consistently flaunted their wealth. For instance, in 2018, Beyoncé performed at Isha Ambani’s pre-wedding festivities—an affair estimated to cost around $100 million. Moreover, the family resides in Antilia, a 27-story tower recognized as the world’s first billion-dollar residence. This is no ordinary mansion; it boasts three helipads, a 168-car garage, and a snow room for cooling down amid artificial snowflakes. With nine elevators, it epitomizes opulence. “This is a gated community in the sky,” remarked author Gyan Prakash as Antilia was constructed overlooking Mumbai’s slums. “It is in a way reflective of how the rich are turning their faces away from the city.”

Nevertheless, while the Ambanis have always flaunted their wealth, this wedding signifies a shift in societal trends. It wasn’t just the bride and groom embracing ostentation; even figures like Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, who have championed philanthropy and advocated for a more equitable world, didn’t hesitate to display their materialistic inclinations. A viral video captured the couple admiring the groom’s $1 million Richard Mille watch. “This watch is fantastic,” exclaimed Chan. “That’s soo cool!”Flaunting Wealth Amidst Global Crisis Inside the Lavish Ambani Pre Wedding Extravaganza

Zuckerberg concurred, adding, “You know, I never really wanted to get a watch, but after seeing that, I was like, ‘Watches are cool.'”

The tech mogul wasn’t the only one attracting attention. Bill Gates, also vocal about his intentions to address global issues, shared a video featuring the internet-famous tea-seller Dolly Chaiwala serving him tea. While Gates likely intended it as a lighthearted celebration of innovation, it exuded uncomfortable colonial undertones.

Inequality, exacerbated by the pandemic, has reached unprecedented levels, with the wealth chasm continuing to widen. As Oxfam recently observed, we inhabit a “decade of division,” with successive crises accentuating the gap between the oligarchic few and the vast majority. Are these oligarchs not concerned about flaunting their wealth in front of the masses? Are they oblivious to the optics of reveling in luxury while even middle-class Americans struggle to put food on the table? They’ve undoubtedly been cautioned about the optics of inequality. At a London event last year, members of the global elite were warned of a “real risk of actual insurrection” if inequality persisted, and they were advised to be wary of “pitchforks and torches.”

However, if the flamboyance of the Ambani pre-wedding affair signifies anything, it’s that those born into privilege aren’t particularly perturbed by the prospect of public backlash. And why should they be? They possess underground doomsday bunkers to retreat to if things go awry. The Ambani spectacle appears to herald the demise of stealth wealth, signaling that billionaires no longer feel compelled to feign concern about inequality and are shamelessly embracing ostentatious luxury. Once again, the 1,200-person soirée was merely a prelude to the grand event in July—only time will tell what extravagant measures they’ll undertake or how the wedding could possibly surpass the pre-party. We mere mortals can only anticipate and speculate.


The Thirteenth Vision (21 February, 2024)

This is the real world. This is the world that Mother knows.

She is inside her home. It is a two-story cottage in Toledo, a town of Castilla La Mancha. The town encircles a hill. The houses are egg-shell yellow or dove white and covered with brick-coloured roof tiles. Her home sits on the top of a lane curving up to the Alcázar.

Mother is in her bed, opening her eyes. She goes to the window and opens her curtains, seeing the hazy clouds and the Tagus river underneath, as well as the sharp green cliffs on the other side.

She had dreamt she was on top of a horse in Mongolia just now.

Su vida ahora tiene que ser la realidad. No es una ilusión.

She yawns and stretches, still in the pants and shirt she sleeps in. She goes for a shower, then gets herself ready to go downstairs.

As she passes the hallway into the kitchen, she notices someone right by the wooden table. It is her mother-in-law, sitting in her wheelchair. This is more and more of a sign that Mother cannot be in a dream. She remembers the day her mother-in-law was moved into her house. Was it a week ago? Was it two? Certainly, the way her husband and his two brothers had bickered, that could not have been an illusion. They had been shouting so loudly that she could hear them on the second floor while doing her prayers. When she came downstairs, their hands and arms were flailing in the air, gesticulating with passion their shared concern for their mother that had led each of them to a separate conclusion.

She must come home. She must stay with me. We will take care of her.

That was what her husband felt despite what his brothers had said. And so her mother-in-law was now staying at home with them as they tried to improve her medical state.

Mother tries to shake herself awake. Why is her mother-in-law downstairs by herself? There she is, sitting in her wheelchair, her mouth stuck in a smile, staring not at any person but deeply at the wall. Mother’s husband, Pedro, must have taken her in her wheelchair up and down the cobblestones to show her around the town before leaving to go to the hospital. It is only around six in the morning. Pedro must have left ten minutes ago. He trusts Mother to help him with the rest of his mother’s needs. This includes cleaning out her diaper, bathing her from head to toe, and feeding her by spoon the gazpacho or paella she makes for lunch.

This is not a dream. This is very much reality.

Mother suddenly shivers. She feels like she is in the middle of the tundra, but how can she feel this cold when she’s indoors and the heater is on? She feels like she has horse hair stuck to her pants, but when she picks it up, the hairs are grey and blond, clearly hers. She could have sworn she was in the middle of doing something, and it wasn’t cooking or cleaning.

I was about to realise something, and it was important…

« Oye… oye… ¿me escuchas?»

Is that her mother-in-law speaking? First of all, the dementia has been strong for the last year. If her mother-in-law speaks, which happens at random moments, it usually isn’t anything comprehensible, just a word here or there followed by a few sentences that don’t cohere to what was previously said.

The voice is also not coming from that side of the room. It’s almost like it is coming from somewhere underneath her. How is that possible? There is nothing below her other than the floor tiles they installed a few years ago…

« Oye… oye… ¿me escuchas? »

This is clearly a man’s voice. Mother is now scared. She reaches for the knife nearest to her, the one she normally uses to cut peaches and apples. The rough gesture frightens her mother-in-law, who gasps and looks about, as if she has been suddenly awoken from whatever dream world she was living in. What a beautiful thing, to live in a dream. Mother is almost jealous of her mother-in-law’s innocence, but only for a moment. Mother fears getting older and slowly losing her mind.

In a bid to console her mother-in-law, Mother comes to her side and tries to pat her arm.

« Suegra… no te asustas, por favor »

Her mother-in-law looks like she is about to cry. Teardrops are forming under her eyes. She is trying to lift a finger, like she is about to point somewhere behind Mother. She always does this regardless of what’s going on, but this time Mother wants to turn around. She brandishes the knife and faces the other side.

There is nothing. No one. It’s just the corridor that leads towards the living room, and a window facing the cliffs. Mother holds the knife firmly but considers putting it back on the table. She remembers she should be cutting some fruit for breakfast. It is difficult for her mother-in-law to chew apples, so Mother mashes them and feeds them to her mother-in-law via a spoon, like she would a little boy.

« Oye… you need to look below, not behind… »

Right on the tiles is the upper half of a man’s body. The man is wearing armour from the Medieval era. He has a sharp pointed goatee, and the two tips of his moustache curl upwards.

« ¿Quien eres tú? » Mother shouts. He cannot be human. His body is literally bifurcated by the floor. And yet when Mother stares firmly, she sees the rest of him. He is sitting up, lying on a bed, with the covers partially on top of him. He looks almost exactly like how Mother must look when she wakes up. Even the lower part of his body is in pyjamas, and the covers of his bed resemble hers.

« ¿Quien eres tú? » Mother asks again. « ¿And why are you on my bed? ¿How are you on my bed? ¿Who are you? »

« Tantas preguntas » the man complains. He rolls his eyes at Mother, then closes them, as if he would rather be sleeping. « I used to have all of these questions arise to me in my dreams. ¿Where is my Dulcinea? ¿What has happened to Sancho? ¿And who are you? ¿Who are you? Ultimately, it never mattered. I acted and made a lot of mistakes and embarrassed myself. And now here I am, lying here for eternity, known to the world as a fool. I just lie in bed and hide under the covers. If I had known back then that everything I believed in was an illusion, I would have never done what I did. »

Mother takes a few steps back. The fingers that are holding the knife are quivering. She has to concentrate to make sure she doesn’t drop it. Mother’s bottom lip wobbles.

The man carries on: « But then would I take it back? I acted as I did because I believed it. Belief is such a strong emotion. We do everything with the conviction that it is right, but most of the time, when we are in that state of mind, we do so much wrong. »

Mother would nod if she had the composure to do so. She sees a bit of herself in the man’s reflections, and the pit of feeling in the centre of her chest is aching, as what tends to happen whenever a truth is said and one is unprepared to deal with it.

« And yet the world is turning, the turns are turning. The world is like one giant windmill, and we are trying to catch on to it. »

The man laughs peculiarly, taking Mother out of the pain she is feeling. She now feels irate, annoyed, and confused. She wants to take the knife and cut the man right at the point where the tiles are reflecting the bed, to make the illusion dissipate like fog.

The man pulls at his moustache, twisting the hairs into an even finer upward curl. He looks at Mother and contracts his eyebrows.

« Life itself is a farce. We call something madness when we think it’s close to the odd, but in reality, being so fixed in how we should live life is a madness itself. What is wrong with dreaming? I lived my entire life as a dream, and the world made fun of me for it. And yet because I was willing to live this way, many others came after me and made a fool of themselves as well. People call such fools heroes. They make stories about them, they erect statues of them, they memorialise them, as time goes on and on. »

The man stifles a laugh, and then turns his eyes to meet Mother’s.

Mother turns away to face the wall, but the man’s half-body is coming out of the beige paint. Mother turns towards the kitchen, only the man is appearing out of the sink. Mother suddenly worries about her mother-in-law. Mother turns to face her, but she is facing the man instead, who is now sitting in the wheelchair, but also on the bed, as if it were an image pasted all around the wheelchair’s frames.

How is it that she can’t escape this man? He has become a part of everything she sees. She doesn’t have the time for this. It’s already getting late, the sun which was starting to rise is now full in the sky. She has to get on with washing and feeding her mother-in-law. If this apparition wasn’t disturbing her, she would have been in the midst of her prayers by now.

Mother closes her eyes and wishes, Dios, denounce this devil and leave me in peace.

She opens her eyes and sees he is still in front of her.

« You cannot get rid of me yet, dear. I am in front of you for a reason. I’m here to propose to you an adventure. It is an adventure far greater than the one I have undertaken. For though I have slayed many a knight and rescued many a damsel, it was only at the end of my journey that I realised anything about myself. You, my dear, have the gift of taking such a journey after countless others have tried and failed. You can start already knowing something a bit about yourself. You can start having already learned from our failures. And deep down, dear, you are far less in the fantasy than I ever was. I think you already know what you need to work on. »

The man touches Mother in the middle of her chest, and as if she is a pool stuck in stillness, she feels something inside of her ripple.

« You were dreaming for a reason. »

Mother looks at her mother-in-law, remembers the feeling of annoyance of having someone intrude on the schedule of her day. There are so many people and existences suffering on the planet, but Mother has not done anything for them. Mother has been extremely inactive. She wanders in her mind, she wanders in the four corners of her house. She has only lived her life while waiting for her life to end.

Perhaps she could use an adventure to take her closer to her destiny.

Mother suddenly imagines her son kissing another man, and her heart fills with disgust.

The man says:

« Do you want to leave this dream, to become disillusioned like I have? You have the chance to keep dreaming, to reach the heights I could only imagine reaching. »

Mother shakes her head.

The man smiles and extends his hand.

Unlocking Lasting Happiness: How Strategic Spending Can Transform Your Well-being

For years, the prevailing belief has been that money cannot buy happiness. Although money may solve certain issues, studies have revealed that material possessions only provide temporary satisfaction before losing their appeal. Nonetheless, recent research suggests that spending money in particular ways can have a positive impact on one’s well-being.

“Scientifically-backed purchases aligned with personal values can lead to more sustained joy,” the article explains. It emphasizes the importance of not just purchasing items but being deliberate about expenditures that enhance life, foster connections, and promote personal growth. By exerting some effort and engaging in self-reflection, individuals can cultivate a fulfilling and purposeful existence.

The article delves into seven categories of purchases scientifically linked to heightened happiness. It aims to provide insight into how to invest meaningfully in emotional health by supporting the suggestions with research, real-life examples, and practical tips.

1.Prioritize Experiences Over Material Possessions

Research consistently shows that investing in experiences such as travel, courses, or cultural events leads to longer-lasting happiness compared to material purchases. While people quickly adapt to new possessions like gadgets or clothing, experiences contribute to shaping one’s identity and often involve social connections.

“Choose experiential purchases that resonate with your core interests and values for maximum fulfillment,” advises the article. For instance, instead of splurging on the latest iPhone, consider taking a Mediterranean cooking class. Not only does this activity build self-confidence, but it also offers an enjoyable social experience with lasting joy.

2.Allocate Resources for Quality Time with Loved Ones

Human beings inherently crave social connections, which significantly contribute to happiness and well-being. Therefore, spending money to strengthen bonds with friends and family is considered a wise investment. Purchases that facilitate meaningful interactions and togetherness often result in shared laughter, joy, and comfort.

The article suggests considering activities that loved ones enjoy when making purchases to promote quality time. For example, rather than dining out at an expensive restaurant, opt for a potluck meal where everyone shops for ingredients together and prepares dishes collectively. This shared experience fosters deeper connections and lasting memories.

3.Support an Active Lifestyle

Regular exercise not only provides physical benefits but also boosts mental well-being by releasing endorphins that elevate mood. Investing in equipment and gear that supports an active lifestyle can reduce anxiety, alleviate depression, and increase energy levels. Outdoor activities further enhance mood by exposing individuals to sunlight and boosting vitamin D levels.

“Consider purchasing a bike, running shoes, or home workout equipment tailored to your interests,” suggests the article. Instead of buying more electronics or clothing, engaging in activities like biking along local trails or walking while listening to audiobooks can contribute to mood-enhancing movement.

4.Enhance Sleep Quality

Quality sleep is essential for allowing the brain and body to recharge, process information, and regulate emotions. Poor sleep can significantly impact focus, decision-making, immunity, and mental health. Investing in bedroom upgrades such as new mattresses, weighted blankets, and blackout curtains can improve sleep quality.

For instance, upgrading bedding with high thread count sheets, breathable comforters, and ergonomic pillows can create a luxurious sleep environment. Blocking external light with thick curtains can mimic natural melatonin rhythms and promote better sleep.

5.Invest in Personal Growth and Self-Care

Spending on personal development focuses on internal growth, healing, and learning, ultimately leading to a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Whether it’s furthering education, indulging in spa treatments, or seeking therapy, investing in self-improvement can boost confidence and overall well-being.

“Sign up for activities like a wine-tasting class, a shiatsu massage, or watercolor painting lessons to indulge your inner self,” suggests the article. Balancing physical pampering with intellectual or skill growth can lead to a more well-rounded identity and a greater sense of fulfillment.

Affordable Excellence: A Guide to 10 Outstanding Scotch Whiskies Under $60

Scotch whisky enthusiasts understand the magic that unfolds in the $50 to $60 price range. This sweet spot offers a more refined and special experience, with a tantalizing depth in oak, craftsmanship, and flavor diversity. In this entry-level arena for most Scotch whisky brands, we’ve curated a list of 10 exceptional bottles, all under $60, readily available at most liquor stores. Keep in mind that Scotch whisky prices can fluctuate due to factors such as import tariffs and shipping fees, and regional variations may also play a role in pricing.

  1. Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 12 Years

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Creamy like vanilla pudding, bright pear orchard vibe, mild toffee, sweetgrass, and hints of oak.

Palate: Soft woodiness, candied pear, vanilla cream, soft cinnamon spice, and gentle malts.

Finish: Light and approachable with lingering pear, vanilla cream, mild spice, and a silken mouthfeel.

This entry-level Speyside whisky, aged in a blend of American and European oak, boasts a creamy vanilla pudding nose with notes of pear, toffee, and mild oak. The palate offers soft woodiness, candied pear, and a touch of cinnamon spice, leading to a light and approachable finish with a silken mouthfeel.

  1. Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Select

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $56

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Red fruit, plums, nuts, and peated maltiness.

Palate: Fruity with mild spice, Ace bandages, smoked salts, and malt.

Finish: Lingering fruit and wood with a distant wisp of smoke and Band-Aid.

Crafted by Master Distiller John Campbell, this Laphroaig whisky showcases the diversity of casking processes, with a nose featuring red fruit, plums, and peated maltiness. The palate offers a fruity, mildly spicy experience, with a finish marrying fruit, wood, and a subtle smokiness.

  1. Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley Unpeated Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $53

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Wildflowers, granola bars, brine, salted caramel, orange oils, and softwood.

Palate: Seaspray, tart apples, Caro syrup mid-palate sweetness.

Finish: Sweet oak dominates, fading into a spicy malt with sea salt.

Bruichladdich’s unique philosophy shines in this unpeated whisky with a nose of wildflowers, brine, and salted caramel. The palate delivers seaspray, tart apples, and a sweet oak finish with a touch of spice, making it a great choice on the rocks or in whisky-forward cocktails.

  1. Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky 12 Years Old

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $53

Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Rich holiday cake with dark spices, dried fruits, candied citrus, nuts, and a hint of smoke.

– Palate: Fragrant honey, sweet texture, and a touch of sweetness.

– Finish: Chimney smoke on a snowy day, connecting peated malt and dark bourbon.

– Hailing from Scotland’s far north Orkney Islands, this unique whisky offers a nose of rich holiday cake and a palate with fragrant honey and sweet texture. The finish, reminiscent of chimney smoke on a snowy day, bridges the gap between peated malt and dark bourbon.

  1. The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky DoubleWood Aged 12 Years

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $59

Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Soft and floral honey, vanilla extract, red berries, and wine-soaked oak.

– Palate: Marzipan, cinnamon, plum trees, tree bark, and leather.

– Finish: Spicy malt, hot cinnamon, and honey tobacco.

– Pioneering the “double aging” trend, this unpeated single malt offers a nose of floral honey and red berries. The palate meanders through marzipan, cinnamon, and plum trees, culminating in a finish with spicy malt and honey tobacco.

  1. Chivas XV Blended Scotch Whisky

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Orange marmalade, cinnamon, clove, and mincemeat pies.

– Palate: Dark dried fruits, soft berries, butterscotch, and caramel-laced toffees.

– Finish: Lush and creamy with vanilla, mincemeat pie, brandy-soaked dates, and Christmas pudding.

– A classic Chivas blend aged for 15 years, this whisky delights with a nose of orange marmalade and mincemeat pies. The palate unfolds with dark dried fruits, soft berries, and a creamy, lush finish, making it perfect for sipping on the rocks or in cocktails.

  1. Aberlour Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky Double Cask Matured Aged 12 Years

– ABV: 40%

– Average Price: $59

– *Original Tasting Notes:*

– Nose: Brandy-soaked orange peels, almonds, sweet sherry, vanilla creaminess, and a hint of chocolate.

– Palate: Bitter and creamy chocolate, brandy-soaked orange, pear, cherry, and marzipan nuttiness.

– Finish: Stewed fruits, soft tobacco, and vanilla creaminess.

– *Paraphrased:*

– A cornerstone whisky for brands like Chivas, this soft unpeated single malt offers a nose of brandy-soaked orange peels and almonds. The palate features bitter chocolate, brandy-soaked fruit, and a finish with stewed fruits and vanilla creaminess.

  1. Ardbeg An Oa Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

– ABV: 46.6%

– Average Price: $54

Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Slow-smoked peaches, cherrywood, smoky savory herbs, and black licorice.

– Palate: Butteriness, burnt toffee, nutmeg, walnut, Earl Grey, and woody maple syrup.

– Finish: Salted black licorice, florals, singed savory herbs, and black-pepper-covered brisket fat.

– A quintessential Islay peated whisky, this Ardbeg expression features slow-smoked peaches and savory herbs on the nose. The palate is buttery with burnt toffee and nutmeg, leading to a finish with black licorice, florals, and a hint of smoked brisket fat.


  1. Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky “The Lasanta” Aged 12 Years

– ABV: 43%

– Average Price: $52

-Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Subtle spice, creamy toffee malts, honey, brandied berries, and vanilla tobacco.

– Palate: Dried fruit, leather, nuttiness, spicy orange, and dark chocolate.

– Finish: Creamy vanilla, marzipan, brandied pear, and dark dried berries.

– Glenmorangie’s 12-year-old expression boasts a nose of subtle spice and creamy toffee malts. The palate offers dried fruit and nuttiness, with a finish highlighting creamy vanilla and brandied pear, creating an easygoing sipper.

  1. Oban Little Bay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Small Cask

– ABV: 43%

– Average Price: $57

– Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Smoked prunes, plums, dates, creamy malts, walnut bread, and orange saltwater taffy.

– Palate: Clove-studded oranges, malted vanilla, saltwater taffy, stewed pear, brandy, and spiced nutty apple cake.

– Finish: Spiced nutty apple cake with a buttery crumble along a damp wooden pier.

– This Highland whisky from Oban, aged in small casks, presents a nose of smoked prunes and creamy malts. The palate features clove-studded oranges, saltwater taffy, and a finish reminiscent of spiced nutty apple cake along a damp wooden pier.


These 10 outstanding Scotch whiskies under $60 offer a diverse range of flavors and profiles, making them accessible to both novices and seasoned enthusiasts. Whether you prefer the bold peatiness of Islay or the refined sweetness of Speyside, this selection provides a delightful journey through the world of Scotch whisky without breaking the bank.

Inside the Staggering Wealth of the World’s Richest Family: The Al Nahyan Dynasty

The Al Nahyan royal family, rulers of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, has secured its position as the wealthiest family globally, boasting a staggering fortune of $305 billion (Rs 25,38,667 crore) as of 2023. This places them ahead of the heirs of Walmart Inc., whose net worth totals $232.2 billion (Rs 19,31,374 crore), according to a report by Bloomberg.

Led by the influential United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, commonly known as MBZ, the Al Nahyan family holds approximately six percent of the world’s oil reserves. Their strategic investments span various industries, from Rihanna’s lingerie line Savage X Fenty to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, as highlighted in The New Yorker.

One of the key figures in their financial empire is UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon, also known as Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He heads the International Holding Co., an investment company whose value has surged almost 28,000 percent in the last five years, reaching a market value estimated at around $235 billion, making it one of the largest firms in the Middle East. The company boasts a diverse portfolio, with interests in agriculture, energy, entertainment, and maritime, employing tens of thousands of individuals worldwide.

Presidential Palace and Luxurious Properties

The Al Nahyan family’s opulent property portfolio includes a collection of magnificent palaces. Foremost among these is the Qaṣr Al-Waṭan, a presidential palace in Abu Dhabi valued at $475 million (Rs 4078 crore). Spanning an expansive 380,000 square meters, the palace features a 37-meter-wide dome and a chandelier adorned with 350,000 crystal pieces. Divided into eastern and western wings, it houses a “House of Knowledge” with prized historical artifacts and halls used for official functions. Opened to the public in 2019, the palace stands as a symbol of the Middle East’s grandeur.

In addition to Qaṣr Al-Waṭan, the Al Nahyan family owns other lavish properties worldwide, including the Chateau de Baillon in northern Paris and several residences in the UK. Former family head Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan earned the moniker “landlord of London” for his extensive property holdings in affluent neighborhoods, rivaling even the British royal family’s London assets in 2015.

World’s Biggest Megayachts

The Al Nahyan dynasty’s fleet extends to some of the world’s most luxurious megayachts, surpassing even the possessions of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Notable yachts include the Azzam and the Blue superyachts, each valued at $600 million (Rs 4992 crores). Azzam, the world’s longest yacht at 591 feet, boasts accommodation for over 100 people and features a golf training room, overshadowing Jeff Bezos’ 417-foot superyacht, nicknamed ‘Koru.’ The $597 million (Rs 4967 crore) Blue, measuring 525 feet, ranks as the fourth-largest yacht globally, while the $660 million (Rs 5490 crore) A+ was even borrowed by actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Eight Private Jets

The Al Nahyan family’s presidential fleet comprises eight aircraft, including the Airbus A320-200 and three Boeing 787-9s. Notably, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s personal collection includes the $478 million (Rs 3977 crore) Boeing 747 and the $176 million (Rs 1464 crore) Boeing 787, reflecting the family’s commitment to a lavish lifestyle.

Uber-Expensive Fleet of Cars

Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan al Nahyan’s car collection is museum-worthy, with over 700 vehicles, including the world’s largest SUV and the coveted Willys Jeep. Meanwhile, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s impressive collection features five Bugatti Veyrons, a Ferrari 599XX, McLaren MC12, Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, and a Lamborghini Reventon, as detailed by The New Yorker.

Premier League Football Club

Beyond the realms of luxury, the Al Nahyan family has left its mark in the sporting world. The Abu Dhabi United Group, under Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s ownership, acquired the English football team Manchester City for $255 million (Rs 2122 crore) in September 2008. Moreover, the investment company holds an 81 percent majority stake in the City Football Group, managing football clubs like Manchester City, Mumbai City, Melbourne City, and New York City.

The wealth of the Al Nahyan royal family transcends conventional boundaries, reflecting not only in their financial holdings but also in their ownership of iconic properties, megayachts, private jets, luxury cars, and a prominent presence in the world of sports. As the world’s wealthiest family, the Al Nahyan dynasty continues to shape global investments and redefine opulence on an unprecedented scale.

Affordable Fitness: Building a Thrifty Workout Routine

If budget constraints have kept you from achieving your fitness goals, you’re not alone. While the dream of a personal gym with top-notch equipment may seem out of reach, there are cost-effective ways to get in shape without breaking the bank. Milo F. Bryant, a San Diego-based trainer, highlights the simplicity of free outdoor activities: “I can go to the beach for free. I can pick up some hundred-pound rocks and carry them.” Bryant also recommends bear crawls, emphasizing their effectiveness on steps.

Creating a home gym doesn’t have to drain your wallet. The classic jump rope, priced at just $10, offers an incredible workout. Gwen Gates, a coach at the Logan Health Medical Fitness Center, suggests a Tabata-style routine, utilizing 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off intervals for 10 to 20 minutes. For those uncomfortable with jumping, letting the rope hit the ground and stepping over it still elevates the heart rate.Affordable Fitness Building a Thrifty Workout Routine

Battle ropes are another budget-friendly option for working the arms and incorporating cardio. While commercial ones may start at $50, a homemade version using supplies from a hardware store can be just as effective. For those interested in strength training without barbells, exercise bands, costing no more than $20 for a full set, offer versatile options. Bryant recommends placing bands around ankles or knees while walking sideways, providing an effective workout.

Kettlebell workouts are popular, but the weights can be expensive. Brad Roy, the editor of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, suggests using medicine balls instead, starting at around $20. Gwen Gates advises incorporating them into squats, progressively adding difficulty by raising the ball above your head.

For a back-to-basics approach, consider rucking, or walking with weight on your back. This age-old practice builds strength, stamina, and muscular endurance. While specialized rucking backpacks start at $100, you can achieve the same effect by loading your current backpack with a few books or water bottles. Utilizing pull-up bars or exercise tools found during your walk adds an extra dimension to your routine. Playground exercises, from step-ups to tricep dips, provide a diverse set of options.

Bird-watching, disc golf, and shadowboxing can also be incorporated into your walks. Bird-watching, in particular, can extend the duration of your walk as you seek out new species. If you’re not a bird enthusiast, try disc golf, a budget-friendly activity with approximately 9,000 courses across the United States. Shadowboxing routines or walking with poles, starting at $25, provide effective arm and shoulder workouts. Trekking poles, suggested by Dr. Roy, encourage better posture than traditional canes, making them an excellent option for those considering walking aids.

For a more dynamic workout, consider pickleball on a tennis court. Paddle and ball sets start at $30, offering not only physical benefits but also improving hand-eye coordination and balance, especially beneficial for older adults. Dr. Roy describes pickleball as an “awesome activity” for overall fitness.

Achieving fitness goalsdoesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. By incorporating affordable tools and outdoor activities into your routine, you can build strength, improve endurance, and enhance your overall well-being without burning a hole in your pocket. As Milo F. Bryant aptly puts it, “You want to be able to move,” and these budget-friendly optionsprovide the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Marital Shifts Among the Stars: Navigating the Changing Landscape of Celebrity Unions

The traditional belief regarding marital satisfaction follows a U-shaped trajectory. It commences with an exhilarating romantic phase, then experiences a decline as individuals grapple with the reality that life with a partner is not always a steady ascent to happiness but can resemble more of an arduous journey. However, as time progresses, satisfaction often returns, either through acceptance of one’s circumstances or, ideally, through the negotiation of a more harmonious union.

Contrary to this conventional wisdom, the events of 2023 have challenged the notion that a long marriage is synonymous with a lasting one, particularly when it involves two high-profile and driven individuals. This year witnessed the surprising dissolution of well-established celebrity couples, previously held up as #couplesgoals, signaling a clearcutting in what was once considered the old-growth forest of enduring unions.

In September, Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness, a resilient icon of celebrity coupledom, announced their separation after 27 years. The shockwaves continued in October when Jada Pinkett Smith revealed in her memoir that she and Will Smith had been living apart for seven years, constituting a quarter of their marriage. Meryl Streep and her husband, sculptor Don Gummer, married for 45 years, disclosed that they had been leading separate lives for six years. Additionally, Kellyanne and George Conway decided to part ways after more than two decades, surprising many with the longevity of their union.

Leaving a spouse after a quarter-century might appear perplexing to some, akin to learning Chinese and then relocating to Mexico or meticulously ironing a stack of laundry only to throw it all back in the wash. To others, it may indicate a shift in affections. Notably, in these high-profile splits, there have been no public accusations of infidelity as the root cause, though such details are often kept private.

Various perspectives offer more mundane explanations for these late-stage divorces. In the absence of children to raise, there may be a lack of a joint project to engage in. After 25 years, spouses may find it challenging to surprise each other, with their stories, habits, and chewing noises growing thin. Divergent views on retirement, coupled with the myriad distractions in today’s world, from food-delivery apps to OnlyFans, contribute to the perception that the benefits of growing old together no longer outweigh the drawbacks.

Alternatively, these late-in-life separations can be viewed as a positive sign—a refusal to settle for the hand life has dealt, an insistence on seeking change even after decades of marriage. It signals a message to the cosmic order that one is not done yet, that there’s still room for transformation and new beginnings.

This theme of resilience and continued pursuit of dreams is echoed in the experiences of prominent figures in 2023. Madonna, at 65, is on tour, while Barbra Streisand (81) and Martha Stewart (82) grace glossy magazine covers, the latter flaunting a different kind of “rack.” Annette Bening, aged 65, stars in a biopic about Diana Nyad, who swam 110 miles at 64. Even in the realm of politics, the leading candidates for the next U.S. presidency are 77 and 81 years old. The success of “The Golden Bachelor,” depicting a widower’s quest for love in his 70s, underscores that the elderly are not fading away quietly but are defying the waning of their cultural influence and romantic aspirations.

However, it’s worth noting that this resilience is more evident among the affluent. Just as the past two decades have witnessed a growing income gap between those who choose to marry and those who don’t, late-life separations and the subsequent quest for senior love are endeavors typically undertaken by high-net-worth individuals. The discreet nature of these splits, involving separate but desirable residences, comes with a hefty price tag, requiring both partners to be financially secure enough to handle the bills without public disputes over assets.

The pursuit of new love, although a perennially captivating fantasy, can also be a daunting endeavor. Even for individuals like Gerry Turner, the golden bachelor, who have potential suitors delivered to their doorstep, finding a new mate is not without its challenges. Embracing a fresh start with someone whose flaws are already known may not lead to a springtime of new experiences, but there’s a certain allure to the prospect of a spectacular autumn.

As we navigate the changing landscape of celebrity unions, it may be prudent to extend positive thoughts to our favorite celebrity couples, particularly the more seasoned ones. How are Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon faring? Has anyone heard from Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance recently? Perhaps a Groupon for a date night for Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks would be a thoughtful gesture. In the unpredictable realm of celebrity relationships, 2023 serves as a reminder that caution is never unwarranted.

New Study Unveils the Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Emotions: Positive Moods Take a Hit, Revealing a Nuanced Connection

In the realm of understanding the impact of sleep on our emotions, a profound analysis spanning over 50 years of data has illuminated the intricate relationship between sleep deprivation and our emotional well-being. This groundbreaking study, the first of its scale since 1996, unravels the complexities of how our nocturnal habits intertwine with our feelings.

Reflecting on the evolution of research in this field, Jo Bower, a lecturer and researcher at the University of East Anglia, notes the substantial growth since 1996. With an abundance of data at their disposal, researchers like Bower can now discern the effects of various types of sleep deprivation, such as staying up late, insufficient sleep duration, and intermittent awakenings during the night.

Published on December 21 by the American Psychological Association, Bower’s study, conducted in collaboration with colleagues from institutions in Texas, Colorado, and Montana, delves into the impact of these sleep patterns on emotional states. Examining data from 154 studies involving 5,715 participants, the team meticulously analyzed reported outcomes. The predominant and consistent effect observed across all types of sleep loss was a decline in positive emotions coupled with an increase in emotional numbness and anxiety.

Bower elucidates, “We looked at everything that they reported in those studies, and what was strongest and most consistent was an impact on positive moods.” Contrary to popular intuition, individuals experiencing sleep loss were more inclined to express diminished happiness, excitement, and contentment than heightened anger or anxiety. This revelation challenges common perceptions as people often associate sleep deprivation with heightened irritability or sadness.

The study highlighted a pervasive emotional numbing and a loss of pleasure in many participants, even in cases of mild sleep deprivation, such as staying awake just an hour or two later than usual. Notably, the negative impact on emotions was accentuated when participants lost Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, suggesting that distinct neural processes during different stages of the sleep cycle could influence daytime emotions in varying ways.

Quoting Bower, “We thought that was really interesting because, intuitively, if you talk to someone [who hasn’t slept], they’ll quite often say they’re more grumpy or they’re more sad or they’re more irritable, but actually, the evidence suggests that it’s these positive emotions that suffer.”

This comprehensive exploration into the intricate dance between sleep patterns and emotional well-being underscores the profound implications of sleep on our daily lives. As we navigate the demands of modern life, understanding the delicate balance between a good night’s sleep and our emotional resilience becomes increasingly crucial.

Winter Wellness: Expert Tips for a Healthy and Happy Season

As the days grow colder and shorter, and the New Year’s resolution deadline looms, it’s the perfect time to focus on staying healthy this winter. We’ve gathered insights from experts, offering a mix of conventional and unique tips to keep you in top shape, from lip care to winter-friendly yoga.

  1. Protect Your Pout

The winter chill can wreak havoc on your lips, the thinnest skin on your body. Dermatologist Sarvenaz Zand recommends choosing petroleum-based balms with minimal ingredients or opting for those with beeswax and shea butter. While sunscreen-infused lip balms are great for summer, skip them in winter to avoid irritating sensitive lips. Zand suggests applying lip balm twice daily and, for severe chapping, trying an over-the-counter ointment with hydrocortisone.

“For those who prefer to avoid petroleum, I love the ones with beeswax and shea butter,” says Sarvenaz Zand, a dermatologist in Mill Valley, Calif. “Remember to use your lip balm twice a day.”

  1. Prioritize Social Connection

Amid the lingering threat of the coronavirus and year-end responsibilities, it’s essential to resist isolation for the sake of your heart and brain health. Consider organizing potlucks, starting a book club, or simply spending time outdoors with friends. Psychologist Tamar Mendelson emphasizes the importance of reaching out to those facing holiday blues, especially adolescents experiencing increased depression and anxiety. Acts of altruism not only benefit others but can also enhance your own well-being.

“Altruism won’t just help your targets; a growing body of research suggests it can make you happier and maybe even healthier as well.”

  1. Embrace Snowga

Combat winter lethargy by embracing “snowga” – yoga in the snow. While unconventional, this activity offers a unique way to stay active during the colder months. Dress warmly in full snow gear, including gloves, scarves, and boots, and avoid pushing your limits in the cold. Remember to incorporate indoor stretching after your snowga session to keep your body flexible.

“You don’t want to do this barefoot. Skip the thin leggings for your full snow regalia, with gloves, scarves, and boots.”

  1. Pamper Your Pet and Dust Off Allergies

Winter can make furry pets dust magnets, so veterinarians recommend washing them at least once a month. To minimize indoor allergies and asthma risks, conduct a dust inventory, change HVAC filters, and wash bedding weekly in hot water. Additionally, consider using special mite-proof cases for pillows. Maintaining a clean living environment contributes to overall health and well-being.

“Furry pets are dust magnets. In the winter, they may also track in snow and mud.”


  1. Savor the Moment with Mindful Moments

Practice “hygge” by indulging in mindful moments, such as a hot-chocolate meditation. Take 20 minutes to enjoy a warm beverage, focusing on its aroma and taste. Mindfulness teachers suggest imagining the experience if actual consumption is not appealing. Hydration is crucial during winter, so be sure to drink enough water and consider using a humidifier to maintain skin and respiratory health in dry indoor environments.

“If you want to go full-tilt hygge, cocoon your way into a pair of flannel PJs and slippers and settle down for a hot-chocolate meditation.”

  1. Stay Healthy, Keep Germs at Bay

Guard against winter ailments by getting a flu shot and maintaining good hand hygiene. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a handy online demonstration on proper handwashing techniques. Moisturize after washing to prevent dry, cracked skin. Ensure adequate vitamin D intake through diet or supplements, as it plays a crucial role in fighting infections. Consult your doctor before adding curcumin, found in turmeric, to your winter immune-boosting regimen.

“Remember, of course, to apply moisturizer after you wash. Dry, cracked skin makes it easier for germs to get inside your body.”

  1. Prioritize Winter Footwear Safety

Take precautions to avoid falls, particularly for those over 65, as winter increases the risk of slips and falls. Choose footwear with rubber soles, waterproofing, and insulation. Consider slip-on cleats for snowy days, ensuring your footwear accommodates thick socks. If fashion-forward footwear is a must, bring them in a bag and change upon reaching your destination to minimize the risk of falls.

“The CDC warns that millions of people over 65, in particular, fall every year, with risks that rise significantly in winter.”

These expert tips cover a spectrum of winter wellness strategies to help you navigate the season with health and happiness. From caring for your lips to embracing unique winter activities and maintaining social connections, these practices aim to make your winter a season of well-being.

Nurturing Connections: The Power of Creative Expression in Combating Loneliness

Loneliness affects approximately one in four adults globally, with repercussions ranging from an increased risk of heart attacks to dementia and premature death. However, loneliness is not a new or rare phenomenon; rather, it is nearly universal. The key lies in how individuals respond to these feelings of isolation. Dr. Jeremy Nobel, a primary care physician and author of the recently published book Project UnLonely, emphasizes the importance of human connection in addressing loneliness.

“Just like thirst is a signal you need hydration, loneliness is a signal that you need human connection,” notes Dr. Nobel. His book, Project UnLonely, serves as a guide, advocating for creative expression as a means to communicate and establish connections. Vulnerability to loneliness can stem from various factors, including trauma, illness, or being part of a marginalized group. The prevalent American mindset of individualism and independence may also contribute to social disconnection.

The evolving societal norms over the past century have provided individuals with greater freedom to shape their own identities. While this presents opportunities, it also poses challenges, as determining one’s identity and sense of belonging can be disorienting. Dr. Nobel remarks, “It’s both a set of opportunities and a set of challenges.” The absence of a prescribed way to “belong” can make finding connections challenging, leading many to hesitate in expressing themselves or communicating openly.

Dr. Nobel, a poet himself, has experienced the healing power of creative expression firsthand. His early work with active-duty service members and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan focused on using artistic expression and mindfulness activities to help them cope with post-traumatic stress. As a believer in the medicinal benefits of creative expression, he founded the Foundation for Art & Healing two decades ago.

Project UnLonely now collaborates with community-based organizations to develop evidence-based creative expression programs, spanning various forms such as music, painting, drawing, and culinary arts. Dr. Nobel emphasizes that the options are endless, including activities like knitting, crocheting, quilting, and even gardening.

Research supports the idea that engaging in art, or even appreciating the work of others, reduces stress hormone levels and increases feel-good hormones like dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. Dr. Nobel explains, “So what the arts do is they relax you and put you in a good mood,” creating an inviting atmosphere for connection.

Project UnLonely encourages individuals to take steps toward fostering connections:

1.Be Curious:Pay attention to your interests and motivations. Knowing yourself is the first step to bonding with others. Dr. Nobel suggests, “Connecting authentically with other people is best done if you have some kind of authentic connection with yourself.”

  1. Make Something:** Creative expression doesn’t require artistic prowess. Dr. Nobel recommends simple acts like doodling, dancing, cooking, or engaging in textile arts. Making something tangible becomes an artifact expressing your thoughts and feelings to others.

3.Take a Risk by Having Conversations:Share something about yourself, even if it’s not a deep secret. Taking a risk is the first step to authentic connection. Sharing something you’ve made, like a doodle or dance move, can act as a catalyst for more profound conversations.

  1. Find a Group that Matches Your Interests:Whether through volunteering or joining a group with shared interests, connecting with like-minded individuals is crucial. Dr. Nobel shares examples, such as an online group fascinated by brown bears in Alaska, which led to a unique connection during Fat Bear Week.
  2. Recognize Other People’s Loneliness:Loneliness can be a cycle, and reaching out to others experiencing loneliness is vital. Dr. Nobel advises, “If you see someone who’s experiencing loneliness, tolerate the risk of asking them how they’re doing.” Sharing your own experiences of loneliness can create a meaningful connection.

Project UnLonely and Dr. Jeremy Nobel advocate for the transformative power of creative expression in combating loneliness. By encouraging individuals to explore their interests, make tangible artifacts, take risks in conversations, join groups, and recognize others’ loneliness, the initiative aims to create a supportive and connected community, addressing the global issue of social isolation.

Loneliness A Global Health Threat

Loneliness is a pressing health threat, with serious consequences for the health and mental well-being of the elderly and young people worldwide, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday.

Social isolation — having an insufficient number of social connections, and loneliness — and the social pain of not feeling connected are widespread.

Loneliness A Global Health ThreatContrary to the perception that isolation and loneliness primarily affect older people in high-income countries, they impact the health and well-being of all age groups across the world.

According to research, social isolation is common among one in four older people and in five to 15 per cent adolescents. However, these figures are likely to be underestimations.

To address it, the UN health body announced a new Commission on Social Connection which will promote social connection as a priority and accelerate the scaling up of solutions in countries of all incomes.

“High rates of social isolation and loneliness around the world have serious consequences for health and well-being. People without enough strong social connections are at higher risk of stroke, anxiety, dementia, depression, suicide and more,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a statement.

“This WHO Commission will help establish social connection as a global health priority and share the most promising interventions,” he added.

The Commission, to be co-chaired by US Surgeon General, Dr Vivek Murthy, and African Union Youth Envoy, Chido Mpemba, will have 11 leading policy-makers, thought leaders and advocates.

Running for three years, it will analyse the central role social connection plays in improving health for people of all ages and outline solutions to build social connections at scale.

The Commission will consider how connection enhances the well-being of our communities and societies and helps foster economic progress, social development, and innovation.

Studies show that lack of social connection carries an equivalent, or even greater, risk of early death as other better-known risk factors – such as smoking, excessive drinking, physical inactivity, obesity, and air pollution.

Social isolation also has a serious impact on physical and mental health; studies show that it has been linked to anxiety and depression and can increase risk of cardiovascular disease by 30 per cent.

The Commission on Social Connection, supported by a Secretariat based at WHO, will hold its first leadership-level meeting from December 6 to 8, the WHO said. (IANS)

The Impact of Daily “Micro-Acts” of Joy on Emotional Well-being

It’s 8 a.m., and your in-box is filling up. You spot an email about a colleague’s promotion. Do you scroll past or take a moment to give props? Or, you’re in line at the coffee shop, where it’s easy to tune everyone out. But, today, you decide to pick up the tab for the person behind you.

How might a small act like this influence your mood later today, tonight, or throughout this week?

An analysis released Tuesday from scientists behind a research initiative called the BIG JOY Project finds that people who commit daily “micro-acts” of joy experience about a 25% increase in emotional well-being over the course of a week.

“We’re really excited,” says Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a BIG JOY project leader, and science director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. “There are statistically significant, measurable changes [including] greater well-being, better coping, less stress, more satisfaction with relationships.”

The BIG JOY Project is a collaboration between UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and other research institutions. So far, the researchers have preliminary results from over 70,000 participants in more than 200 countries. “What we’re really focused on is understanding impact and the potential for change in people’s lives,” Simon-Thomas. Overall, the new analysis shows micro-acts led to increased feelings of hope, optimism, as well as moments of fun or silliness.

This project did not begin as a typical research study, but rather a ‘citizen-science’ project which is still open to anyone who wants to participate. Here’s how it works. Participants take an on-line survey to answer questions about their emotions, stress, and their social tendencies. Then, every day for seven consecutive days, they agree to try small, happiness-boosting activities, what the researchers have dubbed “micro-acts” of joy.

All of the recommended micro-acts have been linked to emotional well-being in prior published studies. Examples include making a gratitude list or journal, or engaging in acts of kindness such as visiting a sick neighbor or doing a nice gesture for a friend – or a stranger. Some micro-acts involve celebrating another person’s joy, or engaging in self-reflection, meditation, or taking the time to identify the silver lining in a bad situation, known as positive reframing.

Each day, people answer questions about what they did and how they felt afterward. At the end of the week, they take another survey to gauge how their emotions and sense of well-being have changed.

A sense of agency

When people intentionally plan out a daily micro-act, it may help them feel as if they have a bit of control over their emotions, explains researcher Elissa Epel, a BIG JOY collaborator, and a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. “So there’s this feeling of agency,” Epel says, and that could be one explanation for the improvements in well-being seen in the survey.

For instance, participants were asked how much they agreed with the statement: “I have felt able to impact, influence, or play an active role in how happy I generally feel.” The participants’ level of agreement with this statement increased by about 27%, over the course of the week.

Since all participants chose to be part of the project, it’s likely they were hoping for a benefit. But it’s not clear if everyone — even people who don’t believe small acts can be beneficial – would see the same results. “We haven’t randomly assigned a group of people to do the seven day [program],” Simon-Thomas says, so without control group data, the results are all preliminary. The researchers plan to run some controlled studies and publish results in the future.

A tool for spreading well-being

At a time when global conflicts, political divide, and societal problems may seem insurmountable, some may question whether small acts of joy can help make a difference? The answer, the researchers say, stems from the ideas of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who both spoke about how it’s possible to feel joy even in the midst of suffering, and to use that feeling to help do good.

The BIG JOY project began as a collaboration with documentary filmmakers who produced a 2021 film called Mission: Joy, which aimed to illuminate this message. “They really wanted to spread the wisdom that we have more control over our happiness than we know,” Epel says.

Epel has spent decades studying how stress affects the body, and she says it’s been surprising to see the benefits of micro-acts of joy. “These very short practices are clearly having a positive residue,” Epel says. She’s come to think of the micro-acts as “tools at our fingertips” that we can use in the moment to relieve feelings of stress, anxiety and worry.

Of course, it’s important to point out what micro-acts cannot accomplish. They are not a replacement for therapy or medications used for serious mental health challenges, including depression. And, the researchers point out, it’s also not appropriate to think micro-acts can help overhaul the struggles of someone whose basic needs are not met. “It would be embarrassing and shameful to be like, hey, you don’t have enough to eat, why don’t you try Big Joy,” Simon-Thomas says.

But she says, the hope is that the joy that emanates from micro-acts may help spur some people to get involved in the greater good — whether it’s in your community, your workplace, your school, or an organization you admire. “What we’re hoping is that when people finish Big Joy they have that sense that, oh, my happiness is contingent in part on how generous and invested I am in common humanity,” Simon-Thomas says.

Starting a new practice

At a time when random acts of kindness could be viewed as bumper sticker cliché, researchers say it’s important to continue to nail down potential benefits through rigorous studies.

“I appreciate the skepticism,” says Judith Moskowitz, a social scientist at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, who is not involved in the new Big Joy analysis. The body of research on positive psychology has to date produced mixed results. And Moskowitz says the ongoing research creates an opportunity to better understand the effects of these small steps.

Moskowitz’s own research has shown a series of small steps (similar to those used in the Big Joy project) can help people cope during bad situations. For instance, she found caregivers caring for a sick loved one were able to tamp down anxiety after going through a 5-week course.

“So many of the things that are causing us stress and sadness are out of our control,” Moskowitz says. “So these micro moments can give you something to hold on to,” she explains, and help you stay engaged.

“Decades of research have shown that even in the context of really stressful events or sickness, there is absolutely the capacity to experience moments of positive emotion as well,” she says.

Rather than thinking of joy as something that happens to you, it may make sense to think of it as a skill that you can get better at through practice, says Simon-Thomas. “If you want to stay physically fit, you have to keep exercising,” Simon-Thomas says, and the same likely goes for well-being, she says.

Just as the benefits of exercise wear off, so too do the effects of these micro-acts.

“I feel optimistic. I feel more relaxed. I feel more supported in the world when I engage in these micro practices myself,” says Simon-Thomas. “I just believe that humans can change for the better,” she says.

One way to get started with the Big Joy concept is to plan out the moment of your micro-act each day. Maybe build it into your daily dog-walking routine; that’s a good time to make a mental gratitude list or look for an opportunity to chat with a neighbor.

“Part of this is intention setting,” Simon-Thomas says. “If you have a map to where you’re going to go, you’re much more likely to go there,” she says.

Glamorous Showdown: Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt Shine at Jio World Plaza Launch

Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt made individual appearances at the grand opening of the Jio World Plaza Launch on Tuesday. Both actresses looked dazzling as they posed for the paparazzi in their off-shoulder dresses.

Deepika opted for an elegant off-shoulder grey Louis Vuitton dress, which she complemented with knee-high black boots. Her look was finished off with a chic messy bun. Deepika graced the star-studded event without her actor-husband Ranveer Singh, graciously posing for the photographers before heading inside.

On the other hand, Alia Bhatt chose a different off-shoulder dress featuring bold design patterns near the waist. She kept her accessories minimal and her hair untied. Alia arrived without her actor-husband Ranbir Kapoor, exuding her own unique style.

Among the notable stars in attendance were Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Riteish Deshmukh with Genelia D’Souza, singer Kanika Kapoor, and Javed Jaffrey, among others.

Deepika’s Revelations on Koffee with Karan

Deepika has been in the spotlight since her appearance with Ranveer Singh on Karan Johar’s chat show, Koffee with Karan. During the episode, Deepika disclosed that she and Ranveer hadn’t committed to each other and that she continued to see other people until he proposed to her.

“I was going through a phase where I said, ‘I just don’t want to be attached, don’t want to be committed.’ And I had fun! And then he comes along, so I didn’t commit until he proposed to me. There was no commitment as such. Even if we were technically allowed to see other people, we would just keep coming back to each other,” she candidly shared.

After her comments garnered both attention and criticism, Congress leader Supriya Shrinate extended her support to Deepika with a heartfelt note. Actor-comedian Vir Das also humorously addressed the men upset by her comments in his recent social media post.

Upcoming Projects for Deepika and Alia

Deepika’s most recent appearance was in a special role as Shah Rukh Khan’s mother in the blockbuster film Jawan. Her next project is “Fighter,” alongside Hrithik Roshan, directed by Siddharth Anand. “Fighter” is set for release on Republic Day next year.

Alia Bhatt, who recently won the National Award for Best Actress for her outstanding performance in “Gangubai Kathiawadi,” is gearing up for her next film, “Jigra,” directed by Vasan Bala.

Why children of married parents do better, but America is moving the other way

Economist Melissa Kearney’s recent book, “The Two-Parent Privilege: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind,” has sparked a wide range of reactions, with some critics accusing her of stigmatizing single mothers, while others view her findings as a validation of their support for marriage. In this book, Kearney argues that children raised by two parents have a higher chance of success, and the marital status of parents significantly impacts their children’s success.

Kearney’s argument runs counter to the trend in the United States, where an increasing number of children are being born and raised by single mothers. The U.S. has the highest rate of children living in single-parent households globally, with approximately 23% of U.S. children under the age of 18 living with a single parent and no other adults.

Kearney’s research shows that this trend is detrimental to children, widens inequality, and has far-reaching consequences for society as a whole. She is sounding the alarm and calling for a conversation on this issue.

“I’ve achieved what I aimed for, which was to initiate a discussion,” Kearney states. “But I am frustrated that the initial reaction is often knee-jerk.”

Critics on both sides have expressed their discomfort with Kearney’s focus on one family structure over another. However, Kearney emphasizes that she is not prioritizing one family type over another but is merely acknowledging the data, evidence, and the reality of the situation.

One undeniable fact is the increasing number of women who are choosing to have children and remain single. In 2019, almost half of all babies born in the U.S. were born to unmarried women, a significant increase from 1960 when only 5% of births were to unmarried mothers. This shift towards single motherhood is not due to divorce, as many unpartnered mothers have never been married.

While some children raised by single mothers achieve great success, the overall data indicates that those growing up in single-mother households face lower odds of high school graduation, college degrees, and high earnings in adulthood. Kearney’s research shows that families led by single mothers are five times more likely to live in poverty than those headed by married couples. The presence of two adults in a household who can contribute to the income significantly reduces the likelihood of poverty. Raising children demands various resources, including financial support, time, emotional energy, and more.

Single mothers often start from a disadvantaged position, with lower levels of education and income. This discrepancy exists across racial and ethnic lines. Many single mothers do not have support from other adults, such as grandparents or family members, which places the full burden of financial support and caregiving on the mother. This situation can lead to exhaustion and added stress, with no one to provide support when needed.

Kearney’s focus on single mothers is based on their large number, as single fathers represent a much smaller fraction. Kearney is especially concerned about boys growing up without fathers as role models, which can have negative consequences. Data shows that boys from disadvantaged homes are more likely to face difficulties at school and within the criminal justice system.

In summary, Kearney’s research underscores that single parenting, particularly when the mother is unmarried, can have a profound impact on children’s outcomes and can contribute to inequality and reduced social mobility. While the decline in marriage rates and the evolving definitions of family structures have changed societal norms, Kearney emphasizes that the data indicates the benefits of a stable, long-term, two-parent household in raising children.

The decline in marriage rates and the challenges faced by men without college degrees have led to more women entering the workforce and an increase in their earnings, making them less likely to marry men who cannot provide economic security or stability. The economic changes and shifts in gender roles have altered the dynamics of marriage and family structures.

Kearney aims to draw attention to the issue of single parenting and its impact on inequality and mobility in the United States, seeking to engage both conservatives and progressives in a much-needed conversation on this complex and important topic.

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New report reveals 98% of world population experienced alarming trend this summer: ‘Virtually no one on Earth escaped’

A recent study conducted by Climate Central has unveiled the ramifications of escalating temperatures in the year 2023 and has emphasized the role of humanity in exacerbating this issue. The discoveries are truly enlightening and serve as a poignant reminder of the collective responsibility we all share in addressing the underlying causes of global warming.

So, what precisely did this study reveal? In accordance with the research group Climate Central, this peer-reviewed investigation, as summarized by Euronews Green and Reuters, has brought to light a startling statistic. It was determined that a staggering 98% of the global populace encountered temperatures higher than the norm between the months of June and August in the current year. Moreover, these elevated temperatures were found to be twice as likely to be attributable to human-induced pollution.
This study delved into global heat events and employed advanced modeling techniques to eliminate the influence of pollution, enabling a determination of the potential high temperatures in a world untouched by human factors. By analyzing data from 180 countries and 22 territories, it was estimated that approximately 6.2 billion individuals endured at least one day of substantially high average temperatures that would have been extremely improbable to attain in the absence of carbon pollution.

The influence of human activities made these temperatures five times more likely to occur.

The Vice President for Science at Climate Central, Andrew Pershing, emphasized the far-reaching impact of global warming during the past three months, stating, “Virtually no one on Earth escaped the influence of global warming during the past three months.”

One of the most disconcerting revelations of this study pertains to the month of July, which emerged as the hottest on record. Additionally, August witnessed an average temperature increase of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit when compared to the same month before the onset of widespread industrial activities.

The gravity of this situation becomes even more apparent when considering that these concerning heat trends were observed not only in traditionally warmer regions but globally. As Andrew Pershing noted, “In every country we could analyze, including the Southern Hemisphere, where this is the coolest time of year, we saw temperatures that would be difficult — and in some cases nearly impossible — without human-caused climate change.” This statement raises significant concerns, particularly in light of the devastating heatwaves and wildfires that have ravaged the United States and Southern Europe in 2023.

In examining isolated heatwaves, climate scientist Friederike Otto from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment underscored that these extreme events had become “infinitely more likely” due to the planet’s rising temperatures, as reported by Euronews Green.

So, what actions can we take to mitigate the human impact on our climate? This study consistently points to human-induced pollution as the driving force behind the alarming heat trends. In light of this, it is imperative that we work towards reducing the harmful gases released into the atmosphere.

Initiating changes in our daily lives, such as opting for eco-friendly modes of transportation like walking, biking, or using public transit instead of relying on fossil fuel-powered vehicles, can be a significant step forward. Additionally, making a conscious effort to reduce meat consumption in our weekly diets can contribute positively to the environment. It is worth noting that the agricultural processes associated with beef, pork, and chicken supply chains make substantial contributions to global pollution and deforestation, as highlighted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Given that 98% of the global population has experienced elevated temperatures in the year 2023, it is in the best interest of everyone to collectively address the root causes of this phenomenon. Each of us plays a crucial role in preventing further exacerbation of this issue and safeguarding the planet for future generations.

Dating For Seniors?

In the era of online dating and the advancement of technology, love knows no boundaries. Romance has found new avenues that do not adhere to any barriers, especially to that of age.  It is reported that there is a steady rise in the number of senior users on their app by dating app QuackQuack. It ran a poll among its senior users to better understand the changing dynamics of love and companionship.

The online survey ran for three days among a total of 6,000 participants from metros and smaller cities. The survey participants ranged between 50 and 68 years; a majority of them are retired,
and a portion of these daters are business owners. The survey results show the paradigm shift in societal attitudes towards love and romance in the later stages of life.

Breaking Bad Norms 

38 per cent of seniors from Tier 1 cities on the app explained how society would rather have them join a golf club or a yoga class, but dating is pretty much taboo for a retired individual. A man or a woman above 50 looking for romantic endeavors still instigates a lot of talks, but these seniors revealed they pay no heed to such gossip because having a healthy love life is much more satisfying than poking your noses into other’s business. They also mentioned how they find dating apps a more private way of finding love, keeping your love under wraps, especially from nosey neighbors.

Online dating to the rescue 

34 per cent of male daters from Tier 2 cities between the ages of 50 and 65 explained how online dating has turned out to be their saviour. 7 per cent of these men are widowed, 9 per cent
divorced, and 18 per cent never married. They disclosed the difficulties of dating in a small Indian city.

Firstly, women of that age are under more pressure from society than men. Hence, finding a suitable partner with the same emotional maturity and freedom to choose love over societal stigma is the biggest challenge. But on dating apps, they stated, people can connect from any part of the country, and not just their locality. Moreover, it offers the kind of privacy that is not possible in real life. Plus, the facility to chat with a person for a while before taking it IRL allows these men ample time to evaluate if they are being duped.

Companionship Over Love 

27 per cent of women above 50 voiced that companionship, the genuine kind, is superior to love, and that is what they are seeking. They mentioned being in relationships, experiencing true love,
and even truer heartbreaks when they were young, and after all these years, they have come to realise that comfortable companionship is what matters in the end. They also disclosed the exact
requirements on their bio, so no man will come with expectations that do not align with what they are willing to offer.

Success Stories 

8 per cent of the survey participants claim to have found genuine love on the app. 12 per cent of women mentioned they have found friends like family and urged more seniors to start using dating and friendship apps; age should never be the factor in deciding whether one deserves to find real connections. (IANS)

“Dancing The Christian Hymns”

The first of seven online seminars planned for 2023-2024, by the hostess, Sylvie Lagache, a contemporary dancer, therapist with a master's degree in theology specializing in liturgy is
scheduled for November 4 at 4 p.m. on the theme: “Dance in the liturgy.” Says Lagache, “I will develop the importance of a spiritualized body for a liturgy that is less mechanical, flat, reduced to formalism, but more lively, celebrating the living.”

Lagache will develop the concept  of a “spiritualized body” for a liturgy less reduced to formalism, but more lively, celebrating the Living. She will also talk about mystical dance and the parallel between the bodily learning of a dancer and the learning of the inner way.  “Being in your body as a temple of God and dance the prayer,” says Lagache.

The first seminar will focus on mystical dance and the parallel between the bodily learning of a dancer and the learning of the inner path: breath, anchoring, verticality and meditation and projection (giving and receiving). We will dialogue together on the universal dimension of dance as unity between religions.

“I have chosen to present to you a dance on the Kyrie Eleison, because for me, it is the message that Christ came to bring, that is to say the inner movement that every Christian must go through:
recognizing his errors, his transgressions, his negative emotions (anger, fears…) for a possible transformation which is metanoia, conversion,” says Lagache. “It's going from the Old Man bent and closed in on himself to the New Man, straight and open, on the move! It is Man resurrected in Christ, a subject developed in my book “The Unified and Spiritualized Body.”

Lagache says, she invited to this seminar first of all people who have been with her, one Ana for over 30 years and the other Beto for over 10 years, in Brazil. Both continue basic classical dance
classes with breathing online. They will give their testimony in relation to dance and spirituality.  Then she invited a dancer and dance therapist from Ivory Coast who lives his Christian faith
deeply and who will come and talk to us about the importance of dance in the Church.

“So the dance that I propose is not of the order of representation, but rather it is a communion between Man and God and God and Man. It is a prayerful dance, because instead of praying with
words we will pray with the body. The gestures purport to express prayer, repentance, listening, contemplating, bowing, begging, rising up, receiving grace,” adds Lagache.

The zoom link is Visit: . One can register at [email protected]

What Does Friendship Look Like In America?

Americans place a lot of importance on friendship. In fact, 61% of U.S. adults say having close friends is extremely or very important for people to live a fulfilling life, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. This is far higher than the shares who say the same about being married (23%), having children (26%) or having a lot of money (24%).

How we did this

We decided to ask a few more questions to better understand how Americans are experiencing friendship today. Here’s what we found:

Number of close friends

A narrow majority of adults (53%) say they have between one and four close friends, while a significant share (38%) say they have five or more. Some 8% say they have no close friends.

There’s an age divide in the number of close friends people have. About half of adults 65 and older (49%) say they have five or more close friends, compared with 40% of those 50 to 64, 34% of those 30 to 49 and 32% of those younger than 30. In turn, adults under 50 are more likely than their older counterparts to say they have between one and four close friends.

There are only modest differences in the number of close friendships men and women have. Half of men and 55% of women say they have between one and four close friends. And 40% of men
and 36% of women say they have five or more close friends.

Gender of friends

Most adults (66%) say all or most of their close friends are the same gender as them. Women are more likely to say this than men (71% vs. 61%).

Among adults ages 50 and older, 74% of women – compared with 59% of men – say all or most of their close friends are the same gender as them. Among adults younger than 50, the difference
is much smaller: 67% of women in this age group say this, as do 63% of men.

majority of adults (63%) say all or most of their close friends are the same race or ethnicity as them – though this varies across racial and ethnic groups. White adults (70%) are more likely than Black (62%), Hispanic (47%) and Asian adults (52%) to say this.

This also differs by age. Adults 65 and older are the most likely (70%) to say all or most of their close friends share their race or ethnicity, compared with 53% of adults under 30 – the lowest
share among any age group.

Satisfaction with friendships

Picture: FOX

The majority of Americans with at least one close friend (72%) say they are either completely or very satisfied with the quality of their friendships. Those 50 and older are more likely than their
younger counterparts to be highly satisfied with their friendships (77% vs. 67%).

The survey also finds that having more friends is linked to being more satisfied with those friendships. Some 81% of those with five or more close friends say they are completely or very satisfied with their friendships. By comparison, 65% of those with one to four close friends say the same.

The survey didn’t ask adults who reported having no close friends about their level of satisfaction with their friendships.

What do friends talk about?

Of the conversation topics asked about, the most common are work and family life. Among those with at least one close friend, 58% say work comes up in conversation extremely often or often,
while 57% say family comes up this often. About half say the same about current events (48%).

There are differences by gender and age in the subjects that Americans discuss with their close friends:

Differences by gender

Women are much more likely than men to say they talk to their close friends about their family extremely often or often (67% vs. 47%).

Women also report talking about their physical health (41% vs. 31%) and mental health (31% vs.15%) more often than men do with close friends. The gender gap on mental health is particularly
wide among adults younger than 50: 43% of women in this age group, compared with 20% of men, say they often discuss this topic with close friends.

By smaller but still significant margins, women are also more likely than men to talk often about their work (61% vs. 54%) and pop culture (37% vs. 32%) with their close friends.  Men, in turn, are more likely than women to say they talk with their close friends about sports (37% vs. 13%) and current events (53% vs. 44%).

Differences by age

Those ages 65 and older (45%) are more likely than younger Americans to say they often talk with their close friends about their physical health.

There are two topics where young adults – those under 30 – stand out from other age groups.

About half of these young adults (52%) say they often talk with their friends about pop culture.This compares with about a third or fewer among older age groups. And young adults are more
likely to say they often talk about their mental health with close friends: 37% say this, compared with 29% of those 30 to 49 and 14% of those 50 and older.

India’s Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage

India’s top court declined to legalize same-sex marriages in a historic ruling delivered on October 17, 2023. This ruling affects what is now the world’s most populous country. And same-sex marriages are not legal there at this time.

The marriage ruling will be a disappointment for LGBTQ+ people in India, who had hoped the supreme court judges would recognise their constitutional right to marriage equality.
In a sign of how contentious the issue remains in India, the five-judge bench of the supreme court, led by the chief justice of India, said they had been divided on the matter, and four separate judgments were written by the bench. Two of the judges had supported same-sex civil unions but the majority verdict ruled against them.
Rohin Bhatt, one of the lawyers in the case, said: “Today the court has reaffirmed that queer citizens will be relegated to an unsympathetic legislature and an apathetic executive. We are second-class citizens, no matter how many judicial platitudes say otherwise. We will rise in rage and protest.”

India’s Supreme Court delivered the judgment on petitions advocating for the legalization of same-sex marriage, and this decision has profound implications for the rights and recognition of LGBTQ+ individuals in the country.

Petitioners and Their Objectives

The court considered 21 petitions filed by same-sex couples, including those raising children together, LGBTQ+ activists, and organizations. The petitioners’ legal representatives argued that marriage is a union between two individuals, not restricted to a man and a woman. They asserted that laws should evolve to reflect changing concepts of marriage over time, with same-sex couples deserving the dignity and recognition of marriage.

Students and supporters of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) shout slogans, hold placards and pride flags as they take part in an LGBT+ Pride vigil organised after India’s top court on Tuesday declined to legalise same-sex marriage and left it to parliament to decide, at North Campus in New Delhi, India, October 18, 2023. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

The petitioners contended that the Indian constitution guarantees all citizens the right to marry a person of their choice and prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. They highlighted that the inability to marry deprives them of joint bank accounts, co-ownership of property, and the opportunity to adopt children together.

The petitioners argued that the prohibition on same-sex marriage infringes upon their constitutional rights and relegates them to “second-class citizens.” However, the government and religious leaders have staunchly opposed same-sex unions, contending that they run counter to Indian cultural norms.

In April and May during hearings, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, leading the bench, described it as “a matter of seminal importance,” and these proceedings were “livestreamed in public interest.” The court reserved its order on May 12. Justice Chandrachud emphasized that they would not meddle with religious personal laws but would explore the possibility of amending a special law governing inter-caste and inter-faith marriages to include LGBTQ+ individuals.

This debate carries immense significance in a nation where tens of millions of LGBTQ+ people reside. While the Indian government reported their population at 2.5 million in 2012, global estimates suggest a much higher figure, possibly exceeding 135 million, or 10% of the entire population.

During the proceedings, the judges displayed empathy for the concerns of same-sex couples and pressed the government for its plans to address these issues.

Government’s Position

The government initially questioned the court’s authority to address this matter, arguing that it should be a decision for parliament. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the government, urged the court to dismiss the petitions, asserting that marriage could only occur between a heterosexual man and woman.

Government authorities also criticized the same-sex petitioners, characterizing them as “reflecting urban elitist views.” Remarkably, leaders from various religious denominations in India united in opposing same-sex unions, asserting that marriage should be reserved for procreation, not recreation.

Despite these strong objections from the government and religious leaders, the judges decided to hear the case. They clarified that they would not venture into religious personal laws but would explore the potential amendment of the Special Marriage Act (SMA) of 1954 to include LGBTQ+ individuals.

The Special Marriage Act: A Key Focus

In India, the majority of marriages occur under religious personal laws, such as the Muslim Marriage Act and the Hindu Marriage Act. However, these laws recognize marriages only between couples of the same religion or caste. Consequently, if a Hindu and a Muslim sought to marry, one of them had to convert to the other’s religion.

This approach posed a significant challenge to the concept of personal liberty, a right guaranteed by the Indian constitution. Consequently, after India gained independence, the government introduced the Special Marriage Act in 1954 to facilitate inter-faith or inter-caste marriages.
The Special Marriage Act effectively detached marriage from religion, affirming that individuals did not need to renounce their religion to marry. This was a major step forward for personal liberty. During the court proceedings, the petitioners proposed substituting “man” and “woman” with “spouse” in the Act as a means of achieving marriage equality.

However, it became evident as the hearings progressed that amending this single law might be insufficient since numerous other laws govern divorce, adoption, succession, maintenance, and related matters, many of which fall under the purview of religious personal laws.

In a 2020 Pew survey, 37% of respondents believed homosexuality should be accepted, a substantial increase from 15% in 2014 when the question was first posed in the country. In a June survey by Pew, 53% of Indian adults supported legalizing same-sex marriage, while 43% opposed it.

Nonetheless, conservative attitudes towards sex and sexuality persist in India, and LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face stigma and discrimination. Lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, representing the petitioners, argued that society sometimes requires a push to acknowledge LGBTQ+ individuals as equals under the constitution, and legalizing same-sex marriage could be that catalyst for acceptance.

Empathy from SC Justices
The Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud and the four other judges ruled that amending the special marriage act went beyond the scope of the court, amounting to “judicial lawmaking”, and was instead the job of the legislature.
In his ruling, Chandrachud emphasised that LGBTQ+ people should have the right to choose their partners and co-habit and should not face discrimination under the law.
“Choosing a life partner is an integral part of choosing one’s course of life. Some may regard this as the most important decision of their life,” he said. He instructed the government to form a high level committee to examine the concerns, rights and welfare entitlements of same-sex couples.
“Queerness is not urban elite. Homosexuality or queerness is not an urban concept or restricted to the upper classes of the society,” added Chandrachud. He had also expressed his support for LGBTQ+ couples being allowed to adopt, but was overruled by the majority of the bench.
One of the petitioners, Mario da Penha, said it was “a day to be disappointed, but not to lose hope. There’s been tremendous work that has gone into these petitions, and many hopes and dreams of the queer community attached to them — to lead lives that most other Indians take for granted. The fact that the dream could not come to fruition today is a disappointment for all of us.”

The Changing Landscape of Skills and AI in the Workforce

Executives are raising alarm bells about the impending impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the workforce. A recent survey conducted by edX, an online education platform, sheds light on their concerns. The survey collected responses from 800 executives and 800 employees, revealing some thought-provoking insights about the evolving skills landscape.

According to the survey, a staggering 49% of executives believe that nearly half of the skills currently existing in the workforce will be irrelevant by 2025 due to AI. This revelation underscores the rapid pace of change that AI is ushering in. Furthermore, an equally substantial 47% of these executives express doubts about their workforce’s readiness for the future job market. While the identification of skills shortages may not be surprising coming from an educational platform, the timeframe in question is indeed an eye-opener.

Picture: LinkedIn

Executives foresee substantial changes on the horizon, particularly in entry-level knowledge worker roles. A striking 56% of these leaders anticipate that over the next five years, their organizations will eliminate more than half of these roles due to AI. Even more startling, 79% of executives believe that entry-level knowledge worker jobs will cease to exist entirely as AI ushers in a new era of roles for incoming employees. Notably, 56% of these executives also foresee their own roles being either “completely” or “partially” replaced by AI.

However, there are dissenting voices in the industry who take a more cautious stance. Richard Jefts, the executive vice president and general manager at HCL Software, believes that the immediate impact of AI on career trajectories may be less dramatic. He asserts that many companies, despite claims of AI adoption, are still in the early stages of implementation. In his view, the real transformation of careers will occur as AI matures, emphasizing a longer-term perspective.

The impact of AI on jobs and tasks is multifaceted and not simply a matter of replacing tasks with AI-driven solutions. Frederico Braga, head of digital at Debiopharm, points out the complexity of predicting where and when this transformation will manifest. He believes that professionals whose daily routines intersect with digital activities will need to adapt their career goals as they witness changes in their work-related activities and processes.

In some cases, career redirection may not be necessary. Jonathan Martin, president at WEKA, suggests that individuals can enhance their career prospects by leveraging emerging AI tools to amplify their existing strengths. He encourages individuals to explore how AI can make them incrementally better at what they already excel in.

Vittorio Cretella, CIO of Procter and Gamble, anticipates AI’s value as augmented, not artificial, intelligence. He asserts that the most successful AI applications will complement human skills rather than replace them. Humans, he believes, will continue to excel in problem definition and pattern identification, areas where AI still struggles.

The survey conducted by edX raises concerns even among the highest-level decision-makers, including CEOs. Surprisingly, 47% of C-Suite executives believe that “most” or “all” of the CEO role should be entirely automated or replaced by AI, a sentiment shared by 49% of CEOs themselves.

While AI may take over decision-making processes at certain levels, running organizations necessitates enduring qualities that only humans can provide. Leadership, curiosity, and strong soft skills are qualities that will remain in high demand, according to Jefts. These qualities are challenging for generative AI to replicate.

As AI continues to evolve, certain skills will become more crucial. These include critical thinking, logical intelligence, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence, and structured planning and organization. Conversely, skills in decreasing demand will encompass repetitive tasks, analysis, interpretation activities, and content generation as AI becomes integrated into daily work activities.

The survey highlights that while AI will replace certain tasks, it will also enhance the effectiveness of executives and free up their time for more critical business activities. Beyond handling routine tasks, AI can contribute to idea generation, planning, forecasting, and data-driven decision-making.

The survey reveals that 92% of executives recognize the importance of improving their AI skills within the next one to two years. Almost all of them are already incorporating AI into their roles. However, close to 80% express concerns that their lack of AI proficiency could leave them unprepared for the future of work. The rapid pace of change is cited as a source of anxiety for some executives.

Familiarity with AI and its capabilities is expected to empower business professionals, particularly in areas such as HR, sales, and support. Senior IT leaders, in particular, are likely to be the professionals most impacted by AI and will need to understand the technology.

Nevertheless, Martin maintains that there will always be a place for creative and strategic thinking. Innovation and great ideas will continue to rely on human creativity, as generative AI apps advance. Human involvement will still be needed to develop prompts, curate results, and determine how AI-generated output is applied.

The survey underscores the importance of creativity for problem-solving in any industry. Human creativity, agility, and tenacity will be essential to address the various challenges that arise throughout one’s career. In this realm, AI may struggle to replace years of real-world experience and human intuition.

The Common Thread of Insecurity: Everyone’s Battle with Impostor Syndrome

Steve Jobs’ Perspective:

Steve Jobs: it’s easy to think the Apple co-founder (did you know there were actually three?) possessed something — intelligence, talent, creativity, connections, etc. — that you don’t.

But here’s the thing. Scratch the surface of even the most successful people and you’ll likely find they suffer from impostor syndrome: the inner belief they’re inadequate and mediocre, despite objective evidence that proves their skills, talents, and achievements.

Jobs summed it up nicely:

“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call ‘life’ was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it.

The minute you understand you can change it, you can mold it … that’s maybe the most important thing: to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it …

… and make your mark upon it.”

Jobs was a mixed bag. Visionary entrepreneur, and a guy who sometimes ate only carrots or apples for a week. Incredibly influential leader, yet also the antithesis of a warm, empathetic boss.

We’re all mixed bags. At times, we’re all a little insecure. A little uncertain. A little — or a lot — messy. As Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates puts it, “Everyone is some sort of [screwed] up.”

Depressing? Absolutely not; that perspective is actually empowering, especially when you consider other examples.

Richard Branson’s Perspective:

Take Richard Branson. Quintessential entrepreneur. Noted philanthropist and humanitarian. World-class adventurer. Influencer of world leaders. I was nervous the first time I interviewed him, but I shouldn’t have been. He was gracious. Thoughtful. Considerate. (He even gave me half his sandwich.) Even though personal reality rarely lives up to public perception, Branson was exactly what you would hope he would be.

And then there’s this: As I was leaving, I heard him say to the PR rep, “Do you think that went OK? I’m not sure I did some of his questions justice.”

And it hit me: Even though Sir Richard is incredibly successful, intelligent, and accomplished, he’s also insecure. Just as you or I would have been, he was worried he didn’t come off well.

Additional Examples:

A few more examples? After our first interview, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett told me he had been nervous because he “never imagined he would ever be in a magazine like Inc.” Dany Garcia, the Rock’s business partner and CEO of the Garcia Companies, called me back after our interview, not because she wanted to change a few answers but because she was worried they lacked depth. Jack Welch paused after a question and said, “Let me think about that for a minute. I don’t want to sound dumb.”

I can list plenty more examples.

A Common Human Thread:


Because we’re all just people: No matter how talented, how celebrated, how successful or influential someone may appear on the outside, on the inside, people are just people. We all share the same doubts and fears.

That high-powered investor you’re about to pitch? She’s smart. Savvy. Successful. Naturally, you’re nervous. Even intimidated. You’re afraid your vision, your plans, your foresight, and your passion won’t be good enough.

You’re afraid you won’t be good enough.

But so is she. No matter her track record, she’s still insecure about the future: whether she can spot the next group company, the next great entrepreneur, the next great opportunity. Deep inside, she worries that she won’t be good enough.

Underneath the trappings of success is a person just as nervous and insecure as you.

Because, to paraphrase Jobs, we’re all just people — and the playing field is a lot more level than it might appear.

Embracing Our Shared Humanity:

The next time you feel nervous about meeting someone, pitching someone, selling someone, connecting with someone, make sure your nervousness isn’t misplaced. It makes sense to be nervous about how you will perform, especially if you aren’t prepared. (Confidence is all about preparation; the more prepared you are, the more confident you feel.)

But it doesn’t make sense to be nervous about the person. No matter how successful on the outside, on the inside they’re just like you: Scared. Nervous. Insecure. Messy.

Some sort of (screwed) up.

Which means you can be just as successful, in whatever way you choose to define success, as the people you admire. You can be just as successful as the people you think might be smarter, more talented, more skilled, more connected.

Because deep inside, we’re all the same.

In the best way possible.

The Power of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: Insights from Satya Nadella

When Satya Nadella assumed the role of Microsoft CEO in 2014, he displayed a distinct leadership approach. Rather than boasting about IQ points or intellectual achievements, he emphasized the importance of understanding people and building meaningful connections as a leader. His key mantra for effectiveness and setting himself apart from the crowd was encapsulated in just two words: emotional intelligence.

In a widely publicized event nearly a decade ago, Nadella addressed a large audience of students on the topic of their future and possibilities. During his speech, he stressed the significance of developing emotional intelligence (EQ), saying, “In the long run, EQ trumps IQ. Without being a source of energy for others, very little can be accomplished.”

Research indicates that companies that prioritize emotional intelligence in their workforce tend to experience higher levels of productivity and employee engagement compared to those that overlook this vital aspect.

Picture: Harvard

In an era where technological advancements often take center stage, the importance of emotional intelligence can sometimes be overshadowed. However, leaders like Satya Nadella have shown that emotional intelligence is not merely a desirable trait but a crucial element for achieving lasting success in the corporate landscape.
Let’s delve into several ways in which leaders and high achievers can harness emotional intelligence to enhance their own performance and create a more productive workplace environment.

1.Empower Through Active Listening

Two decades ago, I reported to an executive who possessed a high level of emotional intelligence, and I gleaned a valuable lesson that has stayed with me to this day. I was leading a team through a challenging project, and the pressure was palpable, causing tensions to run high. Within the team, there was a quieter member struggling to find their voice amid the chaos.

Instead of steamrolling ahead with his own ideas, our executive, who was also our boss, took a step back. He approached the team member and asked a simple but powerful question: “What do you think?” The impact was astonishing. The team member’s face lit up, and they began to share their valuable insights, including a brilliant solution that hadn’t been considered before. Subsequently, the project achieved resounding success, and we all imbibed a crucial lesson: Leadership is about empowering others and valuing their perspectives.

2.Lead with Authenticity and Empathy

Emotional intelligence is not synonymous with being overly sentimental or softhearted. It is about comprehending the emotions, motivations, and aspirations of the individuals you work with. It involves creating an environment where everyone feels genuinely valued and heard.
The crux of leading with emotional intelligence is to actively listen, empathize, and lead with authenticity. It also entails recognizing and managing one’s own emotions because a high-performing leader who can’t or won’t navigate their own feelings often struggles to guide a team effectively.

3.Embrace the Power of Humility

Admitting that you don’t have all the answers can be uncomfortable, especially when people expect you to provide solutions. Garry Ridge, chairman emeritus of WD-40 Company, had an unconventional perspective during his tenure as CEO. Ridge found that the three most powerful words he ever learned were “I don’t know.” As he became comfortable with not having all the answers, he started to experience personal growth and learning.
Ridge emphasizes that, “As soon as you pretend to know everything, you close yourself off from the opportunity to learn more and gain different perspectives. So, not only have I become comfortable with ‘I don’t know,’ but even more so today, I constantly ask myself, ‘Why do I believe that?’ This is because the world is changing so rapidly.”
As you reflect on your own leadership style, remember that authentic leadership is not about having all the answers but about creating a space where collective brilliance can flourish.

Satya Nadella, in his ongoing role as the leader of Microsoft, continues to demonstrate the power of emotional intelligence. His example underscores that emotional intelligence is not just a buzzword but a potent force that can shape the future of leadership in the tech industry and beyond.

The wisdom shared by Satya Nadella and other experienced leaders emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence in today’s corporate landscape. This intangible yet powerful attribute, often overshadowed by technological advancements, plays a pivotal role in driving productivity, fostering collaboration, and shaping the future of leadership in the ever-evolving world of business.

The Impact of Religion on Well-Being: A Global Perspective

A recent Gallup report reveals that religious individuals worldwide tend to exhibit more positivity, higher social support, and greater community involvement when compared to their non-religious counterparts. This comprehensive study, spanning a decade of data, highlights the complexity of measuring the well-being of religious people, and it emphasizes that the benefits of religion can vary significantly from one country to another. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that not everyone is equally interested in or receptive to the potential advantages of religious engagement.

The report, released on October 10, states, “Gallup World Poll data from 2012-2022 find, on a number of wellbeing measures, that people who are religious have better wellbeing than people who are not.”

To assess these differences, the study evaluated nine aspects of individuals’ lives, covering positive interactions, social lives, civic engagement, physical health, community basics, optimism, and more. Each of these nine indexes was scored on a scale from 0 to 100, based on responses to a series of questions.

For instance, the positive experience index included questions like “Did you smile or laugh today?” and “Were you treated with respect?” The civic engagement index inquired about charitable donations and assisting strangers, while the physical health index asked about limitations in performing typical age-related activities and the presence of physical pain. The community basics index explored housing and infrastructure.

Religious individuals scored higher than their non-religious counterparts on five of Gallup’s indexes: social life (77.6 compared to 73.7 for non-religious individuals), positive experience (69 to 65), community basics (59.7 to 55.6), optimism (49.4 to 48.4), and civic engagement (35.8 to 31).

In two indexes, religious and non-religious individuals showed similar scores: the “life evaluation” index, which assesses whether individuals are thriving or suffering, and their local economic confidence.

However, religious individuals scored lower on two other indexes: negative experience and physical health.

Notably, these differences between religious and non-religious individuals were most pronounced in highly religious countries. Even small variations can have significant global implications. The report states, “Each one-point difference in index scores between religious and nonreligious people represents an effect for an estimated 40 million adults worldwide.”

For example, the four-point difference in the Positive Experience Index means that approximately 160 million more adults globally have positive experiences due to their religious affiliation.

The report suggests that religion and spirituality might serve as valuable resources for addressing the mental health crisis prevalent in many countries. However, the report also highlights the declining interest in and engagement with religion.

Gallup partnered with the Radiant Foundation for this report. The Radiant Foundation is associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and promotes a positive view of religion and spirituality.

Jeff Jones, Gallup’s senior editor, commented on the complexity of quantifying the impact of religion and spirituality on well-being, especially as religious landscapes change and spiritual practices evolve. He noted, “With the changing nature of religious landscapes and spiritual practice, it can make quantitative measurement amid the changes challenging, as the traditional forms of spirituality — namely, attending formal religious services, are becoming less common, and people are seeking other ways to fulfill their spiritual needs.”

The report also cites several factors contributing to the decline of religious engagement around the world. These include growing polarization, which pits religious and non-religious individuals against each other, with the latter sometimes viewing the former as a threat. Religious groups, particularly from larger faith traditions, may wield their power in ways that others perceive as harmful.

The report suggests that “religious groups and individuals — particularly from the dominant religious group in a society — who are hostile to other religious groups may promote a cultural context that is harmful to the wellbeing of those outside the group. Resentment toward the dominant group may also tune people out to their messages, both those that are harmful (out-group animosity) but also that are helpful (serving others).”

The Gallup report provides valuable insights into the impact of religion on individuals’ well-being and the intricate dynamics at play in various countries. It underscores the potential benefits of religious engagement while acknowledging the challenges posed by the evolving landscape of spirituality and the declining interest in religion worldwide.

Psychologists Studied 40,000 Couples — The Single Phrase That Bettered Their Relationship

What if a single phrase could change the course of your relationship?

The language and the words you use when you talk with your partner always matter. They are at the core of how successful your relationship is gonna be — they can literally make it or break it.

After studying 40,000 couples, psychologists Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman discovered the one phrase that can significantly contribute to any relationship’s success:

We all want to feel appreciated

The #1 thing we all want in our relationships is to be valued.

We want our partners to notice the things we do for them. We want our efforts to be acknowledged. We want to be seen.

A simple “thank you” can do the trick.

Making room for gratitude within a relationship builds intimacy and emotional safety. But anyone who’s ever been in a long-term relationship knows that it’s far more common to notice the things our partners do wrong instead of what they’re doing right — and vice versa.

To quote the Gottmans:

“But it’s easy to fall into the trap of only seeing what your partner is not doing. You develop a narrative where you’re the one putting in all the effort, and you start to believe it’s true.”

We take the things our partners do for us for granted

We say “thank you” when our colleague or friend brings us a cup of coffee or holds the door for us, but when our partners do the same thing, we keep our gratitude silent.

Think about all the small and thoughtful gestures you and your partner do for each other. For example, you might make a cup of tea for them every morning. They, in turn, might cook your favorite meal every time you’re feeling down.

How often do you say “thank you” to each other?

The thing is, most of us take the little things our partners do for granted and act as if saying “thank you” should be reserved for some special occasions. Over time, we even forget how important saying “thank you” really is.

And it’s really important. Research has shown that romantic partners who express gratitude are more than three times less likely to break up. Another study suggests that individuals who feel appreciated by their partners have better-functioning relationships and are more resilient to internal and external stressors.

How to open a cycle of appreciation and gratitude

When it comes to relationships, “thank you” is the most under-appreciated and under-used phrase.

Saying “thank you” to your partner is like saying “I appreciate you”. You don’t always need grand gestures or big love words to show your appreciation. Those two “humble” words work their magic.

RELATED: 5 Words That Are Infinitely More Romantic Than Saying ‘I Love You’

Here are some situations where you or your partner (probably) don’t say thank you to each other but should:

  • With every little thing you do for each other (making a cup of coffee every morning, washing the dishes when it’s not one’s turn, or bringing home one’s favorite snack).
  • When you receive a genuine compliment (say “thank you” instead of deflecting the praise by saying something like “oh, it’s nothing”).
  • When one of you shows patience (e.g., when you run late, or when your partner is having a tantrum).
  • When one of you actively listens and gives the other one their undivided attention (say “thank you for listening”).
  • When you support each other, especially in times of need (say “thank you for being there with me when I was going through “X thing”).

Expressing gratitude to your partner might be the single best way to maintain a high-quality relationship.

You don’t have to go around saying thank you to each other 10 times a day, but you should say it often to make each other feel valued and appreciated.

It goes without saying that a good partner should be supportive and considerate but that doesn’t mean you should take the things they do for you for granted — and vice versa.

Every little thing one of you does for the other takes thoughtfulness, time, and energy, and none of you should ever feel your actions go unnoticed and under-appreciated.

Silent gratitude sucks. Be vocal. Say “thank you” more often. A cycle of mutual appreciation and gratitude can work wonders for your relationship.

(Margaret Pan is a freelance writer who writes to help others find love for others and themselves. This article originally appeared on YourTango)

Pope Francis Suggests Possibility Of Blessing Same-Sex Unions

Pope Francis has responded to a challenge posed by five conservative cardinals regarding church teachings on homosexuality, indicating the potential for blessings of same-sex unions under certain conditions. The Vatican recently released a letter, dated July 11, written by Pope Francis in response to a set of five questions, or “dubia,” raised by the cardinals a day earlier. In the letter, Pope Francis suggests that the possibility of blessing same-sex unions could be explored, provided it does not confuse such blessings with sacramental marriages.

New Ways Ministry, an organization advocating for LGBTQ+ Catholics, considers this letter a significant step forward in making LGBTQ+ Catholics feel more welcome in the church and a step away from their marginalization.

While the Vatican maintains that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman, it has traditionally opposed same-sex marriage. However, Pope Francis has previously expressed support for civil laws granting legal benefits to same-sex couples. In certain parts of Europe, Catholic priests have been blessing same-sex unions without facing reprimand from the Vatican.

The Pope’s response to the cardinals represents a shift from the Vatican’s official stance. In a 2021 explanatory note, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that the church could not bless gay unions because “God cannot bless sin.”

In his recent letter, Pope Francis restated that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. However, in response to the cardinals’ inquiry about homosexual unions and blessings, he emphasized the importance of “pastoral charity,” which requires patience and understanding. He noted that priests should not merely reject or exclude but should consider forms of blessing requested by individuals that do not convey a mistaken view of marriage.

Pope Francis explained that when a blessing is requested, it is a plea for God’s assistance, a desire to live a better life, and trust in a benevolent higher power. While there are situations that are objectively “not morally acceptable,” he stressed that “pastoral charity” requires treating people as sinners who may not bear full responsibility for their circumstances.

He further advised that dioceses and bishops’ conferences need not establish fixed norms or protocols regarding this issue. Instead, it can be addressed on a case-by-case basis, recognizing that the life of the church operates beyond mere regulations.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, welcomed the Pope’s stance, stating that allowing pastoral ministers to bless same-gender couples implies recognition within the church that holy love can exist between same-gender couples. He viewed this as a significant step towards greater equality for LGBTQ+ Catholics.

The five cardinals, all of whom are conservative prelates from various parts of the world, had posed several challenges to Pope Francis regarding church teachings on homosexuality, women’s ordination, papal authority, and other matters in their letter. They made this material public just two days before the commencement of a major three-week synod at the Vatican, where LGBTQ+ Catholics and their role in the church were among the discussion topics.

Picture: ABC

These cardinals, who are among Pope Francis’ most vocal critics, are all retired and belong to the doctrinaire generation of cardinals appointed by St. John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI. The signatories included Cardinals Walter Brandmueller of Germany, a former Vatican historian; Raymond Burke of the United States, who was removed by Pope Francis from his position as head of the Vatican supreme court; Juan Sandoval of Mexico, the retired archbishop of Guadalajara; Robert Sarah of Guinea, the retired head of the Vatican’s liturgy office; and Joseph Zen, the retired archbishop of Hong Kong.

Some of these cardinals had previously signed a set of “dubia” in 2016 challenging Pope Francis’ position on allowing divorced and civilly remarried couples to receive Communion. At that time, they were concerned that his stance contradicted the church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Pope Francis did not respond to their questions, and two of their co-signatories subsequently passed away.

In response to their latest questions, Pope Francis did reply, although the cardinals found his response unsatisfactory. They revised their five questions, resubmitted them to the Pope, and requested a simple “yes” or “no” response. When they did not receive such a response, they decided to make the texts public and issue a “notification” to the faithful.

The Vatican’s doctrinal office later published the Pope’s reply to them, although it omitted his introductory remarks encouraging the cardinals not to fear the synod.

The Man Who Thinks He Can Live Forever

In a quaint neighborhood located in Venice, California, there exists a row of unassuming, similar residences inhabited by ordinary people going about their finite lives, engaging in activities like sharing pizza with friends, celebrating birthdays by blowing out candles on cakes, and indulging in late-night television binges. However, in the midst of this typical scene, halfway down the street, resides Bryan Johnson, a 46-year-old tech entrepreneur of substantial wealth, who has dedicated the past three years to an extraordinary pursuit: the quest for immortality.

Johnson, a centimillionaire, has invested over $4 million in the development of a life-extension system known as Blueprint. This system entails relinquishing all decisions regarding his physical well-being to a team of medical experts who employ data-driven methods to devise a strict health regimen aimed at reducing what Johnson terms his “biological age.” This regimen entails the daily consumption of an astounding 111 pills, the use of a cap emitting red light onto his scalp, the collection of his own stool samples, and the attachment of a miniature jet pack to his penis during sleep to monitor nocturnal erections—a regimen that categorizes any action hastening the aging process, such as enjoying a cookie or sleeping fewer than eight hours, as an “act of violence.”

Bryan Johnson is not alone in his pursuit of defeating the ravages of time among middle-aged, ultra-wealthy individuals. Figures like Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel have previously invested in Unity Biotechnology, a company dedicated to developing therapeutics targeting age-related diseases. Elite athletes also resort to various therapies to maintain youthful bodies, from hyperbaric chambers to cryotherapy, along with specialized “recovery sleepwear.” However, Johnson’s mission transcends conventional means of preserving health and vitality; it is about surrendering his entire being to an anti-aging algorithm, with the firm belief that death is a choice he refuses to make.

Outsourcing the management of his body, in Johnson’s view, necessitates triumphing over what he terms his “rascal mind”—the part of human nature inclined toward post-dinner ice cream, 1 a.m. amorous encounters, or late-night beer with friends. The ultimate objective is to rejuvenate his 46-year-old organs to mirror the vitality and function of 18-year-old counterparts. Johnson asserts that the data amassed by his medical team suggests that Blueprint has already bestowed upon him the bones of a 30-year-old and the heart of a 37-year-old. This experiment has led him to assert that “a competent system is better at managing me than a human can,” marking a profound breakthrough that, in his perspective, redefines the essence of human existence. His rigorous dietary and exercise regimen, he contends, holds a place in history alongside the Italian Renaissance and the invention of calculus; while Michelangelo had the Sistine Chapel, Johnson extols his special green juice.

However, when I arrived at Johnson’s residence one Monday in August, my intention was not solely to ascertain the effectiveness of his intricate anti-aging strategies. Given my family’s history of cancer and my personal penchant for pepperoni pizza, I harbored doubts about my own prospects for longevity. Instead, I dedicated three days to observing Johnson’s lifestyle, aiming to understand what life governed by an algorithm would entail and whether this “next evolution of being human” would retain any semblance of humanity. If living akin to Johnson promised eternal life—a considerable if!—would such an existence be desirable at all?

Kate Tolo, Johnson’s 27-year-old chief marketing officer and ardent follower, greeted me at the door. Originally from Australia, Tolo had committed to Blueprint just two months prior, becoming the first individual besides Johnson to test its effects on a female body. Tolo is known as “Blueprint XX.”


Upon entering Johnson’s residence, I was struck by its exquisite simplicity, devoid of clutter, with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows offering vistas of the pool and luxuriant green surroundings—an ambiance reminiscent of an Apple Store set amidst a jungle. Tolo presented me with a small bowl of specially prepared chocolate, meticulously processed to eliminate heavy metals and sourced exclusively from regions with a high polyphenol density. Regrettably, it tasted quite disagreeable. Additionally, she prepared a juice-like concoction containing chlorella powder with spermidine, an amino complex, creatine, collagen peptides, cocoa flavanols, and ceylon cinnamon. Tolo and Johnson affectionately referred to it as the “Green Giant,” yet its appearance leaned more toward obsidian, resembling the residue washed off a duck following an oil spill. She deftly mixed it, avoiding any spillage on her pristine white jumpsuit, and informed me that its transit through the digestive system could vary among individuals. I hesitantly took a sip, finding it akin to Gatorade but gritty.

Johnson entered the room, attired in a green T-shirt and minuscule white shorts. His physique resembled that of an 18-year-old, though his visage bore signs of extensive cosmetic procedures undertaken in pursuit of a perpetually youthful appearance. His complexion radiated a pale, luminescent glow, partly attributed to numerous laser treatments and the absence of body hair. Johnson clarified that the hair on his head was not dyed, but he employed a “gray-hair-reversal concoction” infused with “an herbal extract” to impart a dark brown hue to his hair. Gesturing toward my glass of the Green Giant and then to the nearby bathroom, he inquired if Tolo had issued any warnings. I feigned another sip.

The following day, Johnson meticulously elucidated his morning routine, offering a step-by-step account. Although he had risen at 4:53 a.m., he had deferred most activities until my 7 a.m. arrival to facilitate observation. His bedroom appeared almost austere, devoid of photographs, books, television, or any items one might typically find in a bedroom—no glass of water, phone charger, chair laden with discarded clothing, neglected dry cleaning, towels, mirrors, or any other accoutrements. “I only sleep in here,” he stated. “No work, no reading.” The sole furnishings in the room, aside from his bed, comprised a laser face shield employed for collagen enhancement and wrinkle reduction, and the device attached to his penis during sleep to gauge nocturnal erections. “I experience an average of two hours and 12 minutes of nightly erections of a certain quality,” he disclosed. “To emulate an 18-year-old, it should be three hours and 30 minutes.” Johnson emphasized that nighttime erections serve as a “biological age marker for sexual function” with implications for cardiovascular fitness. The erection monitoring device resembled a petite AirPods case featuring a turquoise strap, resembling a purse for a unique purpose. (It is imperative to clarify that no visual observation of male genitalia occurred during the research for this article.)

When Johnson awakens and detaches the device, he steps onto a scale utilizing “electrical impedance” to gauge his weight, body mass index, hydration level, body fat, and a metric called “pulse wave velocity,” the specifics of which he elucidates but I struggle to fully comprehend. “I’m within the top 1% for ideal muscle fat,” he asserts. Following this, he engages a light-therapy lamp (emulating sunlight) for two to three minutes to reset his circadian rhythm. Monitoring changes in his body, he measures his inner-ear temperature. He initiates his day with two ferritin pills to boost his iron levels, accompanied by vitamin C. Afterward, he proceeds to cleanse his face, apply an anti-wrinkle cream, and dons a laser light mask for five minutes, featuring red and blue lights designed to stimulate collagen production and manage blemishes. By this time, it’s typically around 6 a.m., and Johnson descends to commence his day.

The Blueprint supplement regimen is meticulously laid out on Johnson’s kitchen counter, meticulously organized from left to right. It begins with eye drops intended for pre-cataract care. He then employs a small vibrating device against the side of his nose, purportedly stimulating a nerve that aids in tear production. Johnson prepares his “Green Giant” concoction, a blend he consumes alongside additional pills while sipping a dark-green sludge. “It’s what my body demands,” he remarks. Is there ever a pang of longing for coffee, even a hint? “I adore coffee; it’s such a delight,” he acknowledges. “It’s an addictive escalator for me.”

At this juncture, he embarks on specialized exercises to bolster his grip strength. Subsequently, he proceeds to his home gym, adorned with floor-to-ceiling wallpaper featuring a forest photograph. He partakes in a one-hour routine, even though Johnson is capable of leg-pressing 800 pounds, his daily workout doesn’t differ significantly from that of an exceedingly enthusiastic individual at the gym: a regimen involving weights, planks, and stretches. He adheres to this regimen seven days a week, supplementing it with a high-intensity workout three days a week. On certain occasions during these high-intensity workouts, he wears a plastic mask to gauge his VO2 max, the maximum oxygen consumption rate during physical exertion. Johnson asserts that his VO2 Max places him in the top 1.5% bracket compared to 18-year-olds.

Following his workout, Johnson consumes a meal comprising steamed vegetables and lentils, blended to a consistency resembling that of a sea lion’s skin. He and Tolo eschew conventional meal labels like “breakfast,” “lunch,” or “dinner,” opting instead for “first meal,” “second meal,” and so forth. This is his “first meal.” He extends an offer of “nutty pudding,” a concoction composed of macadamia nut milk, ground macadamia and walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, Brazil nuts, sunflower lecithin, Ceylon cinnamon, and pomegranate juice. It possesses the hue of a pencil eraser and offers a somewhat dusty taste, reminiscent of vegan yogurt if you have a palate for it.

Johnson contends that all of these practices are driven by a broader purpose beyond sculpting his physique and preserving a youthful appearance. “Most individuals assume that death is inevitable. We are essentially endeavoring to extend the time available to us before our demise,” he asserts. He further maintains that, until now, there has not been a historical era when Homo sapiens could assert with sincerity that death might not be an unavoidable fate.

However, experts hold a sharply contrasting viewpoint. “Death is not a choice; it is ingrained in our genetic makeup,” asserts Dr. Pinchas Cohen, the dean of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California. Cohen underscores that while extending human life expectancy is conceivable — over the course of the 20th century, life expectancy surged from around 50 to over 80 years — achieving immortality is an implausible aspiration. “There is absolutely no substantiated evidence to support it,” Cohen contends, “and no existing technology even hints at such a possibility.”

Dr. Eric Verdin, CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, concurs, adding, “If you desire immortality, you should turn to a church.” He expresses skepticism not only about Johnson’s claims regarding attaining immortality but also about his assertions regarding age reversal. “He professes to be transparent in his approach, but as a scientist, it’s exceedingly challenging to comprehend the methods he employs to assess his age,” Verdin comments. He notes that the Buck Institute attempted to collaborate with Johnson on research but received no response. Johnson’s disinclination to engage in collaborative efforts with independent scientists deepened Dr. Verdin’s skepticism. “I believe that if he wishes to convince the scientific community that his methods are credible, he should be open to scrutiny and challenges from fellow researchers,” Verdin insists. (Johnson, on the other hand, claims not to recall ignoring Verdin’s invitation and asserts that he and Verdin have recently exchanged amicable emails.)

Some scientists believe that limited age-reversal is within the realm of possibility. In a provocative and hotly debated endeavor, researchers at Harvard Medical School claim to have rejuvenated older mice and are now in the process of investigating whether the aging process can be reversed in human skin and eye cells. However, their experiments adhere to established scientific protocols. In contrast, Brian Johnson, a visionary entrepreneur, has chosen to be a human guinea pig by embracing a multitude of age-related treatments simultaneously, aiming to discern their effectiveness.

Medical professionals not only question Blueprint’s potential to achieve immortality but also express concerns about the health implications of Johnson’s regimen. Dr. Nir Barzilai, the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, met Johnson at a recent retreat for the Academy for Health & Lifespan Research and was disconcerted by his appearance. Dr. Barzilai noted that Johnson looked unwell, with a pallid complexion and a distinct change in his facial features. He also raised alarms about Johnson’s low body fat, an essential component for bodily functions. Dr. Barzilai emphasized the potential dangers of Johnson’s approach, where numerous supplements and treatments are combined, suggesting that these treatments could interact adversely. He pointed out that conventional medical research typically focuses on the effects of one drug at a time, rather than studying the cumulative effects of over a hundred pills concurrently. Dr. Barzilai firmly stated that Blueprint is not an experiment accepted by the scientific or medical community.

Johnson has not made his personal medical team available for interviews, nor has he provided detailed information about his team. Nevertheless, he intends to share Blueprint with the public. Johnson makes all his biological measurements, ranging from resting heart rate to plaque index to images of his intestines, available online. His YouTube videos detailing his exercise routine and therapeutic experiments have garnered millions of views, and approximately 180,000 people subscribed to his newsletter in the first five months. Blueprint’s inaugural commercial product, a cholesterol-reducing olive oil, is available on his website and features a black box adorned with a red-lit image of Johnson, accompanied by the slogan “Build your autonomous self.” Johnson himself consumes this olive oil, constituting fifteen percent of his daily diet, and it has quickly sold out.

As Johnson, his associate Tolo, and I prepare to enjoy our “first meal” on his expansive rust-colored couch, Johnson directs my attention to a bookshelf filled with biographies of historical figures like Ben Franklin, Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Napoleon. He emphasizes his affinity for the 25th century more than the 21st century, asserting that he is more concerned with how future generations will perceive him.

Johnson believes that artificial intelligence (AI) represents the most significant development in the galaxy’s history. He contends that in response to the impending AI revolution, allowing algorithms to manage the human body is the ultimate form of human-AI “alignment.” Johnson argues that as AI optimizes various aspects of human life, from marketing to legal research to retail, it is logical for algorithms to also oversee human physiology. He views this as an evolutionary adaptation to an AI-dominated future.

I inquire about the intangible aspects of human existence, the emotions and experiences that define us beyond mere biological functions. Johnson’s perspective is starkly different. He asserts that everything, from love to sex to attending a baseball game, can be reduced to biochemical states in the body. He believes that humanity is heading into a future where control over these aspects will diminish, leading to a divorce from traditional human customs, including philosophy, ethics, morals, and happiness.

I attempt a different angle, questioning the implications of living forever. I ask Johnson to imagine outliving everyone he knows, including his children and grandchildren. He compares this scenario to the feelings of separation experienced during “senior night” in high school, where individuals bid farewell to friends with the understanding that they may never meet again. Johnson suggests that life is a series of transitions, and each stage prompts the question of whether it’s worth continuing.

Tolo, who has been quietly enjoying her nutty pudding on a separate corner of the couch, has not contemplated this aspect. She expresses hope that as many people as possible can embark on the journey of immortality.

In the pursuit of immortality and a future deeply intertwined with AI, Brian Johnson’s Blueprint experiment challenges conventional wisdom, stirring both fascination and skepticism within the scientific and medical communities. While Johnson’s unorthodox approach raises numerous questions, it undeniably provokes contemplation about the boundaries of human existence and the potential for radical transformations in our understanding of life itself.

Johnson voices his perspective once more, stating, “I think your question reflects Homo sapiens for the 21st century. The underlying assumption is, they have roughly 70 years of life. That’s their starting frame: I’m going to die soon, and I can’t do anything about it. So I’m optimizing in this window of time… If you change the frame, and death is not inevitable, none of the previous practiced thought patterns work.”

My 21st-century Homo sapien mind remained skeptical. Johnson seemed to imply that for humans to thrive in a future harmonized with AI, they might have to relinquish some of their innate humanity. It brought to mind “Tuck Everlasting,” the 1975 children’s book about an immortal family who, due to their inability to age, became disconnected from the world, forever isolated.

After leaving Johnson’s residence, I headed to the DoubleTree hotel in Marina Del Rey. At the front desk, as is customary at DoubleTrees, I was offered a chocolate chip cookie. My impulse was to indulge, but I recognized it as an act that would expedite my inevitable demise. So, I left it on the counter and took my Blueprint-approved dinner—steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and lentils, doused in $75 olive oil but utterly devoid of flavor—up to my room.

Johnson’s path to this perspective was far from straightforward. He grew up in a small Mormon community in Utah, where his grandfather owned a farm with horses. Johnson and his four siblings spent most of their time outdoors, assisting with the harvesting of alfalfa and corn. He served as a Mormon missionary in Ecuador, pursued education at Brigham Young University, and later attended business school at the University of Chicago. He married, became a father of three, and in 2007, he established Braintree, a payment-processing company. Five years later, Braintree acquired Venmo, and in 2013, the merged entity was sold to PayPal for approximately $800 million, leaving Johnson with over $300 million.

Despite his financial success, Johnson describes this period as agonizing. He plunged into a deep depression in 2004, which lasted for a decade. The challenges of building his company while raising three young children overwhelmed him. Neither medication nor therapy provided relief. He found himself 50 pounds overweight and deeply unhappy.

Within a year of selling his company, Johnson divorced and left the Mormon church. In 2014, he invested $100 million in creating the OS Fund, which focuses on companies operating in what he terms the “programmable physical world.” These are companies utilizing AI and machine learning to develop new technologies in therapeutics, diagnostics, and synthetic biology. In 2016, he established Kernel, a neurotechnology company that employs a specially designed helmet to measure brain activity. The company’s objective is to detect cognitive impairment at its earliest stages, with a current focus on identifying biomarkers for psychiatric conditions. It can also serve as a somewhat quirky hobby to measure the age of his own brain.

During my visit, we drive to Kernel’s offices, located approximately 20 minutes from Johnson’s home. Despite his mission to “not die,” he still drives himself around Los Angeles in an electric Audi, albeit at a notably sedate pace. Before pulling out of his driveway, he repeats his pre-driving mantra: “Driving is the most dangerous thing we do.” Johnson is aware that his unwavering commitment to living indefinitely could render an accidental death rather ironic. He muses, “What would be more beautiful irony than me getting hit by a bus and dying?”

In Kernel’s open-plan office, I am ushered into a small room where a technician equips my head with what resembles a ski helmet fitted with numerous circular probes. I am instructed to sit and watch a screensaver-style video featuring soft, crystalline shapes morphing into one another. Later that day, I receive my results via email, revealing that despite being 34 years old, my brain’s age is 30.5.

On the way back home, Johnson repeats his pre-driving mantra as he cautiously navigates the streets of LA at around 16 miles per hour. As he elucidates once more why Blueprint represents “the most significant revolution in the history of Homo sapiens,” a black Chevy truck emerges from a Trader Joe’s parking lot. He swerves to avoid it, scarcely missing a beat before returning to his comparisons with explorers like Magellan and Lewis and Clark. Johnson clarifies, “I’m not a biohacker. I’m not an optimization enthusiast. I’m an explorer, concerned with the future of human existence.”

In the not-so-distant past, even individuals with the most futuristic aspirations were once ordinary humans. Tolo initiated contact with Johnson back in 2016 when she was immersed in the world of fashion in New York City. The dawn of the AI revolution was on the horizon, and she strongly believed that the future of our species necessitated a symbiotic relationship with AI. Her motivation stemmed from encountering a quote by Johnson in a tech newsletter, where he advocated for humans to “merge with AI.” It was at that point she resolved to work alongside him. After years of persistent efforts, an opportunity eventually materialized, leading Tolo to accept a lower job title and reduced pay to become Johnson’s assistant at Kernel. She reminisces about the countless hours spent in his office, engaging in discussions about the trajectory of humanity.

At the outset of her tenure with Johnson, Tolo was your typical twenty-something individual. She enjoyed alcoholic beverages, creamy lattes, fast food, and late-night dancing escapades with her friends. However, earlier this year, she and Johnson began deliberating whether she should embrace Blueprint, an endeavor to understand how this lifestyle would affect a female body. Before fully committing, Tolo requested a 30-day trial period, during which she adhered to a stringent regimen. This included a meticulously structured sleep schedule, Johnson’s precise dietary protocol, the ingestion of over 60 pills daily, and a rigorous exercise routine consisting of 13 minutes of intense activity and 39 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Tolo also closely monitored her ovulation and menstrual cycle.

Reflecting on her trial period, Tolo recalls attending brunches with friends while bringing her Blueprint-compliant food. She experienced a tinge of melancholy as her friends savored delectable dishes while she adhered to her prescribed regimen. Ultimately, she decided to fully commit to Blueprint, convinced that the health benefits outweighed the lifestyle adjustments. Tolo’s friends adapted to her Blueprint lifestyle, and she shifted her social engagements to earlier hours to safeguard her sleep pattern. They grew accustomed to her habit of bringing her own vegetable concoctions to restaurants. This decision was more than just a commitment; it was a definitive choice. Tolo expressed, “It would also be the final decision in a way. It’s like, I’m deciding to no longer decide again.”

As Blueprint XX, Tolo has relinquished numerous aspects of her life that she had come to cherish. She and Johnson view themselves as contemporary versions of Adam and Eve, contemplating even an Adam-and-Eve themed photoshoot to convey the magnitude of the revolution they advocate for the entire human race. Although Tolo is positioned as vital to humanity’s future, she served and plated all the meals during the visit and appeared to handle most of the household chores.

Currently single, Johnson spends the majority of his time with his 18-year-old son, Talmage. While Talmage adheres to the Blueprint diet, rest, and exercise routines, he opts out of the anti-aging therapies. He briefly donated blood plasma to his father as part of an experiment to assess its impact on aging but discontinued after the results proved inconclusive. Talmage, on the verge of embarking on his freshman year of college, shares many of his father’s attitudes towards lifestyle and life extension. He remarks, “The idea of having pizza is more painful than pleasurable for me.”

Johnson acknowledges that his lifestyle makes dating a challenging prospect, citing “10 reasons why [women] will literally hate me.” These reasons include early dinner times, a lack of sunny vacations, a strict bedtime of 8:30 pm, aversion to small talk, solitary sleeping habits, and prioritizing matters above relationships.

Throughout the visit with Johnson, the interviewer contemplated the concept of “the emergent self,” a notion esteemed by Johnson. It is a self guided “more by computational guidance and less by human want.” However, the innate human trait of desire cannot be discounted. The experience of wanting is profoundly human. Observing Johnson’s commitment to his unconventional lifestyle, questions arose: What did he truly want? Did he miss indulging in birthday cake, staying up late dancing, or savoring hot dogs and beer during baseball games? Johnson yearned for eternal life, but what is life without desires?

There existed numerous desires, each potentially leading to life’s eventual end. The desire to meet a friend for cocktails in Santa Monica, to luxuriate in a hotel bed while watching TV, or to engage in late-night text conversations with friends. The longing to FaceTime with a daughter, one who had led to a joyful weight gain during pregnancy due to buttery pasta and cheese pizza indulgence. The craving for eggs and bacon for breakfast. A fundamental realization surfaced: the richness of life is intertwined with desires, and the pursuit of these desires, despite potential consequences, is an inherent aspect of being human. Life is too brief to cease wanting.

Caring for the Old: On the United Nations Population Fund’s India Ageing Report 2023

A substantial portion of the global population is aging, and India is no exception to this trend. According to the India Ageing Report 2023 by the United Nations Population Fund, there is a stark reality on the horizon. The population aged 60 and above is projected to double from 10.5% or 14.9 crore individuals (as of July 1, 2022) to 20.8% or 34.7 crore by the year 2050. This means that one in every five people will be a senior citizen, with far-reaching implications for healthcare, the economy, and society as a whole.

In regions like Kerala and West Bengal, a growing elderly population is experiencing solitude as their children migrate in search of better opportunities. While advancements in healthcare have contributed to increased life expectancy, and declining fertility rates are observed in various countries, including India, there are formidable challenges in providing for a burgeoning elderly population. Within this overarching demographic shift, there are numerous other noteworthy statistics. Notably, elderly women outnumber their male counterparts. A 60-year-old person in India can anticipate living another 18.3 years, with women having a slightly longer life expectancy of 19 years compared to men at 17.5 years. In India, where female labor force participation stands at a meager 24%, it is imperative to ensure economic and social security for women to prevent their increased vulnerability in old age.

Furthermore, there are substantial variations between states. In 2021, most southern states reported a higher proportion of elderly citizens compared to the national average, and this gap is expected to widen by 2036. In contrast, states with higher fertility rates, such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are also projected to witness an increase in the elderly population’s share by 2036, but it will remain below the national average. Overall, more than two-fifths of the elderly population belong to the poorest wealth quintile, ranging from 5% in Punjab to a staggering 47% in Chhattisgarh. Additionally, 18.7% of the elderly have no source of income, which exacerbates their economic vulnerability. A significant portion of the elderly population resides in rural areas and often faces economic hardships. Addressing these challenges necessitates a comprehensive societal approach that encompasses physical and mental health, basic necessities like food and shelter, income security, and social care. Geriatric care should be tailored to their distinct healthcare requirements.

While there are several government schemes aimed at assisting the elderly, many remain unaware of them or find the application process overly complex. The National Policy on Older Persons from 1999 and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007 establish guidelines for the care of the elderly. However, to ensure that senior citizens can lead dignified lives, both public and private policies must create a more supportive environment.

India is witnessing a significant demographic shift with a rapidly aging population. This transformation has profound implications for various aspects of society, including healthcare, the economy, and social well-being. To address the challenges posed by this demographic transition, it is imperative to implement a holistic approach that encompasses healthcare, economic security, and social support. Furthermore, raising awareness about existing government schemes and simplifying access to them is essential to ensure that the elderly receive the assistance and care they deserve in their later years.

Loneliness Trends Among Older Adults In The U.S.

In January of 2023, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA) conducted a survey involving adults aged 50 to 80 to assess their feelings of loneliness and social interactions. This study aimed to compare the results with similar surveys conducted in 2018, 2020, 2021, and 2022 to discern trends in loneliness and social engagement before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the NPHA’s latest report, 34% of adults aged 50 to 80 reported feeling isolated from others at some point in the past year. This marks a significant decrease from 56% in 2020 and a slight increase from 27% in 2018. Similarly, 37% of older adults indicated experiencing a lack of companionship in the past year, compared to 41% in 2020 and 34% in 2018.

The survey also revealed that one-third of older adults reported infrequent contact with people outside their homes in 2023. This rate was notably lower than the 46% reported in 2020, yet higher than the 28% in 2018. These findings indicated a mixed trajectory in terms of social interaction during the pandemic.

The survey identified certain factors associated with feelings of isolation, lack of companionship, and limited social contact. Those reporting fair or poor mental health, as well as poor physical health, were more likely to experience loneliness. The same was true for individuals with health issues or disabilities that affected daily activities, those not employed or retired, those living alone, and those in the 50-64 age group. Women also reported feeling lonelier than men.

Loneliness has substantial implications for mental, cognitive, and physical health, general well-being, and even longevity. Previous NPHA surveys consistently demonstrated that isolation, lack of companionship, and infrequent social contact correlated with poorer mental and physical health among older adults.

While the report showed a decline in feelings of isolation and lack of companionship among adults aged 50 to 80 in 2023, the rates were still significant. The findings emphasized that addressing loneliness requires a multifaceted approach. Similar to discussing diet and exercise, clinicians should identify older adults at higher risk of loneliness and refer them to community resources like senior centers or local libraries to promote social connections. Friends and family members are also encouraged to reconnect with older individuals who might have experienced limited contact in recent years.

The study’s results underscored the importance of tackling the issue of loneliness, which the U.S. Surgeon General has referred to as an “epidemic.” Policymakers, clinicians, and family members need to work together to combat this issue and its adverse effects on older adults’ well-being.

The data for this report were collected through a nationally representative survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. The survey, administered in January 2023 to adults aged 50 to 80 (n=2,563), combined online and phone methods. The sample was weighted to reflect U.S. Census Bureau figures, resulting in a completion rate of 61%. The margin of error ranged from ±1 to 3 percentage points for overall results and higher for subgroups.

It’s important to note that the findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the University of Michigan, which retains all rights over the material.

AAPI’s Leadership Training Focusses On “Leading From The Inside Out”

(New York, NY: August 22nd, 2023)  Physician burnout is an epidemic in the U.S. health care system, with nearly 63% of physicians reporting signs of burnout such as emotional exhaustion and depersonalization at least once per week. The American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) in its efforts to provide education and helping the reduce burnout and offer insights into effective leadership strategies, organized a Leadership Conference for AAPI leaders at the Indian Consulate in New York on Saturday, August 19th, 2023.

“Leading From The Inside Out” was the theme for the Leadership Conference organized by AAPI, which was attended by dozens of AAPI members form across the nation. Experts from Brahma Kumaris and Point of Life Foundation presented insightful workshops for the members of AAPI. The workshop is intended to provide healthcare workers with practical self-care tools for health and wellness and help build a simple daily meditation practice.”

In her welcome address, Dr. Anjana Samadder said, “Welcome to the first ever Leadership Conference by AAPI after the Covid pandemic that impacted our  lives in so many ways. This Conference led by Brahma Kumaris and Point of Life Foundation has been designed to help AAPI leaders develop deeper clarity about the nature, scope, and the need for and ways to care for us, who are deeply impacted by the pandemic and the daily stressors of caring for our patients. The workshops today encompasses a wide range of skills that not only reflect one’s ability to process emotions, but even more importantly, their ability to communicate with, manage, and be true leaders in the modern world.”

In his brief remarks, Consul General of India, Shri Randhir Jaiswal praised the achievements and contributions of Indian American physicians. He highlighted the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington, DC and thanked AAPI members for coming out in large numbers to be part of the event. Calling the Indian American Physicians as the “real heroes” Ambassador Jaiswal said “You are the real heroes who have risked your lives and have been out to assist others. What is unique about AAPI is that you bring a global perspective to defeat the virus and serve the people. We are proud of your achievements, serving the people all across the United States.”

Shri Randhir Jaiswal thanked AAPI members for their response to the Covid pandemic and beyond, serving selflessly millions of people around the nation,  and  their actions have become a benchmark for the rest of the Diaspora community. He lauded AAPI and the tireless work of its members. “You have put a benchmark for all other diaspora organizations,” he said.

Dr. Anupama Tiwari, a Professor of Pulmonary Critical Care at the Albany Medical School and a Raja Yoga advocate for holistic healing led the presentation along with along with Judy Rodgers, a consultant and media specialist, who is also the co-founder of the Center for Business as Agent of World at Case Western. Judy, the co-author of “Something Beyond Greatness,” spok about the three critical areas of Doing Leadership: Adaptability, Mindful Communication, and Self Mastery. She said, “Listening is an act of love and respect.”

Dr. Neha Bungla presented her insightful thoughts On Being A Leader. Dr. Neha is a primary care physician in outpatient and inpatient, as well as a dance teacher. A Raj Yoga practitioner, her mission has been advocating for a healthy mind. According to Neha, “Values matter the most to you as a leader” and she spoke about values such as: Integrity, Honesty at the core, and Dedication. Her insightful talk was focused on “How do we maintain stability in the midst of low frequency energy.” She said, “What you think, affects how you act and feel. Great leaders don’t tell what you need to do but show you the way.”

Satyan Shah, an Investors turned Board Certified Health Coach, having an MBA, is now turned to meditation, whose passion is promoting holistic lifestyle for the past 14 year. He shared with the audience how his successful job at the highly competitive Finance World took a turn for the better, by practicing Yoga and mindfulness.

Self Care and Meditation wer the topics presented by Dr. Anjali Grover, an Endocrinologist,

and a wellness chief and trustee. She’s a Raj Yoga meditation enthusiast, using it to influencing patient care, teaching and life.  Elaborating on self-care strategies, Anjali said, “Time is trying to tell us something. When I take care of myself I can give my best to others. The foundation of self-care is awareness of who I am. We have the dual Self Beauty and Beast. Beast is the acquired self, and we forget our true natural self, which is Beauty,” she said. “Start with one moment, one thought. Embrace the role entrusted to you. Embrace change. Embrace challenges. Nurture the seed of inner strength by spending few moments daily on meditation. Accept and appreciate each one plays in your role. Be there in the present moment.”

Dr. Kala Iyengar is a pediatrician turned spiritual teacher, who advocates meditation’s role in health. She directs Peace Village Learning and Retreat Center, BK, US. Sr. Kala provided education on Raj Yoga Meditation and creating the right mindset for mediation. “Yoga is the connection to the spiritual self,” she said. “Mind is like a horse that is driven by the external world. Knowing what is controlling my mind is essential. Then, there is a need to reverse the trend,” she said. She led the participants to a 20 minutes long meditation, using techniques from Raja Yoga.

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, President-Elect said: “The leadership conference was a well organized event by Dr. Kusum Punjabi. The speakers were outstanding and there was so much to learn from them as leaders. Thanks Consulate General of India, New York for hosting this event.

It was an awesome experience participating in India’s Independence Day celebrations in New York City. Thanks to FIA for organizing it and proud of AAPI for representing American physicians of Indian origin!”

In his remarks, Dr. Sumul Rawal, Secretary of AAPI, who coordinated the conference. said, “Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic and this is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness and leadership through Yoga and Meditation practices.”

Dr. Avinash Gupta, Executive Vice President of the Federation of Indian American Associations (FIA) and an organizer of the AAPI Float at the annual India Day parade urged AAPI members to join in the 41st annual India  Day Parade by FIA on Madison Avenue at the heart of New York City.

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, a key organizer of the event, while introducing the need for the timely conference said, “This is an afternoon of informative and enlightening presentations by leaders from the Brahmakumari’s World Spiritual Organization and Point of Life Foundation is geared to provide RP members and healthcare professionals with them. effective management and relationship assertive communication strategies, practical self-care tools for health and wholeness and step to build a simple daily meditation practice.”

The AAPI Leadership Conference was sponsored by MOCAAPI, Suresh Nachani, Real Assets, Dr. Nand Panwani, Polina Tours, ABC Billing, Dr. Lokesh Edara, and, Dr. Anajana Samadder.  For more details on AAPI, please visit:

Eight Lifestyle Factors Identified to Add Decades to Lifespan

A recent study unveiled during the annual gathering of the American Society for Nutrition has pinpointed eight pivotal lifestyle factors that have the potential to significantly extend an individual’s lifespan. Drawing insights from an extensive analysis encompassing 719,147 participants enrolled in the Million Veteran Program, the research underscores the benefits of engaging in regular physical activity, cultivating robust social connections, practicing sound sleep routines, abstaining from excessive alcohol consumption, adhering to a wholesome dietary regimen, refraining from smoking, effectively managing stress levels, and steering clear of opioid dependence, all of which are correlated with a noteworthy increase in longevity.

Picture : Medical News Today

In accordance with the study’s findings, individuals who wholeheartedly embraced all eight of these behaviors from the age of 40 onward were rewarded with a substantial boost in their lifespans, as compared to their counterparts who remained aloof from these practices. The upshot was particularly remarkable, with a remarkable lifespan augmentation of around 21 years observed among women and an even more impressive extension of 24 years among men. Furthermore, those individuals who rigorously adhered to the complete spectrum of these practices exhibited a remarkable 13% reduction in the risk of mortality during the duration of the study, in stark contrast to those who chose to forgo these habits entirely.

However, the study also underscored that there are advantages to be reaped even from the partial adoption of these behaviors, or commencing their practice subsequent to the age of 40. This underscores the study’s emphasis on the importance of inculcating these practices early on, to facilitate more favorable health outcomes as individuals age.

While all eight practices were underscored as critical pillars for fostering longevity, specific behaviors such as smoking, opioid consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle were intrinsically linked to an escalated jeopardy of untimely death. This poignant revelation underlines the need to prioritize these practices as a means to mitigate the looming threat of premature mortality.

Lending his expertise to the discourse, Dr. Patrick Coll, a distinguished geriatrician and the medical director for senior health at the esteemed University of Connecticut, accentuated the pivotal role of physical activity in the context of aging individuals. He expounded upon the manifold benefits of incorporating regular exercise routines, encompassing elements of resistance training, aerobic exercises, and exercises aimed at enhancing balance and flexibility. Such holistic physical engagement, he asserted, augments muscular strength and serves as an efficacious deterrent against potentially perilous falls.

In concurrence with its comprehensive findings, the study acknowledged that not all individuals enjoy uniform access to these propitious practices, owing to factors such as socioeconomic status, geographical location, and cultural disparities. The multifaceted inequities ingrained within society can exert a palpable impact upon an individual’s capacity to wholeheartedly embrace these transformative lifestyle shifts. Moreover, the researchers reiterated that the results gleaned from the study were of an observational nature and, thus, did not lay the foundation for causal relationships to be established with certitude.

The study’s profound insights contribute substantively to the burgeoning domain of research that endeavors to decipher the intricate nexus between lifestyle choices and the duration of one’s lifespan. Nevertheless, the researchers remain acutely aware of the imperative need for further in-depth investigations to definitively unravel the intricate tapestry of causation that underlies these associations.

More Americans Say They Can Never Retire

A developing portion of working Americans don’t figure they will at any point resign, ongoing studies recommend. Retirement is a respected life stage and a close widespread assumption in working America. However, an agreeable retirement requires reserve funds, and numerous laborers dread they need something more.

In a July survey directed mutually by Axios and Ipsos, 29% of laborers under 55 addressed a retirement question with, “I don’t figure I will at any point resign.”

Inquired as to why not, 3/4 of the never-resign bunch said they couldn’t bear to quit working. A more modest offer said they would have rather not.

“Instructions to make the dollars and pennies of retirement work is a steady difficult exercise for the individuals who are resigned and Americans wanting to arrive at that achievement one day,” said Clifford Youthful,president of Ipsos Public Affairs.

Another overview, from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), found that 33% of laborers presently hope to resign at 70 or later, or never.

A third report, from the Transamerica Community for Retirement Studies, discovered that 40% of Age X specialists, and almost 50% of boomers, hope to resign after 70, or not by any stretch.

Picture : NYSSCA

Retirement fears appear to be rising. In the EBRI study, the portion of laborers wanting to defer retirement rose to 33 percent in 2023 from 29 percent in 2022 and 26 percent in 2021.

The late spring of 2023 could appear to be an odd second for Americans to feel shy of retirement reserves. Almost 3/4 of all 401(k) cash sits in stocks, and the financial exchange is blasting, albeit this week has been rough.

Yet, the full story of American retirement arranging is more convoluted.

One main explanation laborers are stressing over retirement is expansion, which flooded in 2021 and 2022 after numerous long periods of somewhat level costs.

Another component is reduced retirement investment funds. The normal 401(k) lost around 20% of its worth in 2022, as per speculation house information.

The two stocks and bonds plunged in 2022. That shouldn’t occur: At the point when stocks fall, bonds typically rise, as well as the other way around. Last year was a strange exception, set off by the expansion emergency and the remedial mission of government loan fee climbs.

The country’s retirement accounts are recuperating, however they are not completely mended. The typical IRA held $109,000 in the main quarter of this current year, down from $127,000 simultaneously last year, as per Devotion Speculations.

More than two-fifths of children of post war America in the 55-64 age bunch have no retirement reserve funds, Evaluation information show. Many work for little organizations that don’t offer retirement reserve funds, or work independently, or miss the mark on pay to take care of cash.

The middle retirement bank account in that age range has a surplus of $71,168, as per a NerdWallet examination.

Normal insight proposes that is not anywhere close to enough. Laborers accept they will require about $1.8 million for an agreeable retirement, as indicated by another Charles Schwab review.

As anyone might expect, numerous Americans don’t figure they will have adequate cash to live serenely in retirement. In the 2023 EBRI review, 36% of respondents said they don’t trust monetary security after retirement.

That data of interest, as well, is crawling up. A year prior, 27% of laborers needed retirement certainty.

Transamerica research observed that main 17% of Age X laborers are “extremely certain” of an agreeable retirement. The most seasoned individuals in that associate are approaching age 60.

Open Communication Is Key In Every Relationship: Aditya Roy Kapur

Kindness is one of the most attractive qualities in a person and 41 per cent of Indian Gen Z respondents on the social networking app, Bumble, consider being unkind to strangers as a deal breaker in a relationship. Bumble also found that an overwhelming majority (76 per cent) of those surveyed stated that how they define what makes a great partner has changed dramatically over the past five years. 46 per cent of Indian respondents say that they are no longer willing to date someone who doesn’t make time for them and 44 per cent of respondents say they are no longer willing to put up with toxic behaviours.

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The women-first dating app launched a global integrated campaign titled Kindness is Sexy featuring new content with actor Aditya Roy Kapur. This partnership comes at a time when singles in India are more focused on kindness as a key element of their dating decisions. According to its latest survey, an overwhelming majority (81 per cent) of respondents in India agree that kindness is sexy now more than ever before and 56 per cent of respondents value kindness over physical attributes in a potential partner.

“When we approach dating with kindness, we help create an environment of respect and compassion, and for connections to grow,” said Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble. “Kindness is a core value here at Bumble, and we know it is the driving force behind our mission of creating healthy and equitable relationships. This new content helps redefine the idea of attraction and encourages us to never lose sight of the most valuable traits in a relationship.”

The campaign’s new film embodies this sentiment as it features popular actor, Aditya Roy Kapur exploring modern online dating as he redefines stereotypical tropes of sexy through the lens of different facets of ‘kindness’ in a relationship-respect, vulnerability to empathy. The film leverages a playful, humourous twist in the end which ultimately shows how kindness is sexy and goes a long way in making meaningful connections.

Speaking on this partnership, actor Aditya Roy Kapur shares, “At the end of the day, the heart of everything lies at being good to people around you, including your romantic relationships. I think it’s great what Bumble is doing by telling everyone, who is on their platform and whoever wants to join, that what matters is being good to each other, being accountable and responsible on the platform. By showing kindness is sexy, I think they have set the tone very clearly about the kind of interactions and the kind of people they want on the platform – I think more power to Bumble for doing that!”

IANSlife caught up with Aditya Roy Kapur to get his opinion and thoughts regarding the campaign and dating:

According to you, what are the simple acts of kindness that can make a positive impact in the dating culture these days?

Aditya: I think open communication is key in every relationship, being open to listening and understanding each other is an act of kindness. So I would say being comfortable with each other is important and expressing gratitude in any kind of relationship goes a long way too!

Any tips for your fans to make kindness a habit?

Aditya: I think whenever you think someone is doing something nice, make them know that you notice and appreciate it. It feels nice to know that someone has noticed good things that you do and good qualities, if they have been nice to you or checked in with you – let them know that you notice because it matters to them that you see them for the good.

How does it feel to associate with Bumble for Kindness is Sexy Campaign? What message do you hope to communicate through this collaboration?

Aditya: What Bumble is trying to put across is something that resonated with me. I think being kind, asking people how you like to be treated with empathy should be at the core of any healthy relationship, whichever form it may take. So, when I heard of the campaign and what its message was, I looked at it only as something that can be positive, and I felt that Bumble always goes about putting their ideas across in a fun way. I really liked the stuff that they have done for their other campaigns as well. So, it was a really exciting prospect to collaborate with them on something that I felt would be fun, interesting and also a positive message. (IANS)

How to Keep Your Home Cool in Extreme Heat

Global temperatures have reached alarmingly high levels across the U.S., Europe, and Asia as heat waves set record highs this week.

Parts of European countries including most of Italy, eastern Croatia, southern Spain, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro are under red alert, the European Union’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre said on Wednesday. Meanwhile, as of July 18, Phoenix had experienced 19 consecutive days of 110°F temperatures or higher. And Beijing is also experiencing a record stretch of 95°F heat.

The extreme heat comes as weather phenomenon El Niño, which occurs every two to seven years and brings higher global temperatures along the northern hemisphere, takes place. It also arrives at a critical point in global warming.

“Extreme heat events in the United States are already occurring and expected to become more common, more severe and longer lasting due to climate change,” said Claudia Brown, a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some scientists say that 2023 could be the warmest year on record, posing a problem for millions across Europe where air-conditioning is relatively rare. Only about 3% of homes in Germany and less than 5% of homes in France have an air cooling unit in their home, according to the Washington Post. That’s compared to 90% of homes in the U.S.

TIME spoke to experts about how to keep cool in your home. Here’s what they said.

Block out sunlight

The main thing to do when attempting to keep your house cool, is to block sunlight from entering the home.

“What you want to do is stop the heat before it gets through the glass or any other wall,” David Wright, a solar environmental architect, says. “You can use outside shading techniques or shades that go up and down and block sunlight at certain times of the day, or horizontal shading devices like arbors, trellises, and awnings.” Any sort of plant life that can absorb sunlight before it hits a wall is helpful, he adds.

While blocking sunlight and heat from the outside before it has a chance to enter the home—such as by having trees around your house—is the most efficient way to keep your home cool, there are tricks for people living in apartments too, says Wright, pointing to blackout curtains as a good option.

“If sunlight is allowed to come through glass into the house, once it gets inside and strikes an object,” explains Wright, “the wavelength goes from long wave to shortwave. And the short waves don’t go back through the glass. That’s what traps heat.”

Homeowners can opt for insulated glass or low-e glass—which has a thin coating that reflects heat—to prevent heat from entering the home. Applying a tint to windows in your home may also be beneficial, Miami Chief Heat Officer Jane Gilbert writes to TIME in an email statement.

Gilbert adds that residents can paint their roof a reflective white to help block out sunlight, while Wright suggests people invest in a heat pump or air conditioner to help with additional cooling.

Improving insulation in ceilings, attics, crawl spaces and even walls, will also reduce heat, according to Gilbert. Residents can also get a deal when fixing their homes as “utilities offer rebates and the IRS provides tax credits for insulation,” Gilbert tells TIME.

Use the nighttime to your advantage

If you live in a house with thermal mass (meaning it’s made of brick or concrete and retains heat well), Wright says that you can try to cool your home at night without air conditioning. He suggests homeowners take note when the outside temperature drops below the interior temperature, and then open all the windows and doors that you can.

Of course, Wright mentions, this should only be done if safety is not a concern. Low lying windows or doors are especially beneficial when doing this technique because hot air rises.

Wright also mentions that any part of your house that is built into the ground, like a basement, is going to be much cooler than other parts of your house because it is touching the surrounding earth, which is likely cooler than the air temperature. Spending time there may be optimal for cooling.

Know when a fan is efficient

Wright says that ceiling fans with large paddles, or Casablanca fans, are most helpful. “It pushes the heat up toward the ceiling and provides evaporative cooling around the body of the person,” Wright tells TIME.

Sonia Singh is the marketing communications supervisor for Maricopa County, Ariz., where Phoenix is located. There, it can get so hot that simply slipping on the concrete can lead to second-degree burns. Singh says that fans “become insufficient for cooling the air at a safe temperature” when its hotter than 90°F. At that temperature, residents without air conditioning should move to a space with air conditioning.

Know when to move to a cooling center

Brown emphasizes that air conditioning is the most efficient way of staying cool when temperatures are particularly high.

 Living a Happy, Successful, and Meaningful Life Comes Down to 5 Simple Things: Steve Jobs

After twelve years, a lot of individuals actually seek Steve Jobs for exhortation. Seems OK: The co-founder of Apple’s perspectives on leadership, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship still hold up today. Great representation: Science supports Jobs’ assertion that the best managers never wanted to be managers.)

The following are five of his suggestions that have stayed with me.

On Insight

Occupations invested a ton of energy pondering the idea of insight, if by some stroke of good luck since it’s difficult to encircle yourself with savvy individuals in the event that you can’t distinguish brilliant individuals.

So what did he feel was the best sign of high insight? As Jobs said:

“A lot of it is memory. But a lot of it is the ability to zoom out, like you’re in a city and you could look at the whole thing from the 80th floor down at the city. And while other people are trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B, reading these stupid little maps, you can just see it in front of you. You can see the whole thing.

And you can make connections that seem obvious to you, because you can see the whole thing.”

Regardless of how much data you’re ready to hold, memory doesn’t be guaranteed to assist you with deciding. ( I know a lot of brilliant individuals who once in a while battle to simplify choices.)

Jobs believed that the smartest people are good at connecting with others. However, you can’t make associations except if you gather various encounters you can interface. As Jobs said:

“One of the funny things about being bright is everyone puts you on this path. To go to high school, go to college. …

[But] the key thing that comes through is they had a variety of experiences which they could draw upon in order to try to solve a problem, or attack a particular dilemma, in a unique way.

What you have to do is get different experiences. To make connections which are innovative, to connect two experiences together, you have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else … or you’ll make the same connections.”

Attempt new things. Discover new things. Do things that aren’t happy; That’s a sure sign that the experience, as well as the lessons you can learn from it and relate to it in the future, are unique to you.

Since it’s simple, in any event, soothing, to get familiar with something you definitely know. However at that point you’ll have something similar “pack of encounters” and make something very similar “road level” associations as every other person.

On Authority and Obligation

Nobody at any point does anything genuinely advantageous all alone. That implies we as a whole are, whether officially or casually, on occasion in a situation to lead.

Furthermore, to assume liability.

Here’s a story from John Rossman’s book Think Like Amazon:

Steve Jobs told employees a short story when they were promoted to vice president at Apple. Jobs would tell the VP that if the garbage in his office was not being emptied, Jobs would naturally demand an explanation from the janitor. “Well, the lock on the door was changed,” the janitor could reasonably respond, “and I couldn’t get a key.”

The janitor can’t do his job without a key. As a janitor, he’s allowed to have excuses.

“When you’re the janitor, reasons matter,” Jobs told his newly-minted VPs. “Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering.

“In other words, when the employee becomes a vice president, he or she must vacate all excuses for failure. A vice president is responsible for any mistakes that happen, and it doesn’t matter what you say.”

Certain things A lot of people believe that external factors, particularly those of other people, are to blame for success or failure. Assuming I succeed, others helped me, upheld me- – others were “with” me. On the off chance that I come up short, others let me down, didn’t have confidence in me, didn’t help me- – others were “against” me.

Somewhat, that is valid. Yet in addition not absolutely inside your control.

The one and only thing you can influence? Yourself. So go about as though achievement or disappointment is absolutely inside your control: Assuming you succeed, you caused it. Assuming that you fizzle, you caused it. As Jobs would agree, “Reasons quit making a difference.”

Never rationalize. Never list reasons. And never blame others.

Except if, obviously, you point them at yourself – – and resolve that in the future, you’ll take the necessary steps to make turn out the manner in which you wish.

Regarding Perseverance If talent is the capacity to acquire a skill or knowledge more quickly than the majority of people, I definitely lack talent.

But that’s fine because, as Jobs stated:

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard. You pour so much of your life into this thing.

There are such rough moments… that most people give up. I don’t blame them. It’s really tough.”

Although Jobs was referring to founders of startups, the concept is generalizable. For a large portion of us, achievement depends on appearing, many days, in any event, when we would rather not.

Despite the fact that persistence is only one factor in achieving any worthwhile goal, science demonstrates that showing up every day is of utmost importance. A meta-examination distributed To Review of Educational Research found that undergrads who reliably go to class get better grades.

That may appear to be more of a correlation than a causation because the smartest people may attend class more frequently, but there is more to it. Class attendance (better predicts) college grades than any other known predictor of academic performance, including scores on standardized admissions tests such as the SAT, high school GPA, study habits, and study skills.

Results also show that class attendance explains large amounts of unique variance in college grades because of its … weak relationship with student characteristics such as conscientiousness and motivation.

Are you not particularly gifted? Not very intelligent? However long you appear, and continue to appear, you’ll probably get along nicely.

On the off chance that you don’t have an ability for deals, deals abilities can in any case be learned. Most leadership skills—giving feedback, building teams, setting expectations, showing consideration for others, seeking input, focusing on meaningful priorities, etc.—are useless if you lack the ability to lead people. can be acquired.

Progress in many pursuits doesn’t need ability. Achievement basically requires expertise and experience you can acquire.

However long you’re willing to continue to appear.

Perhaps you would rather not start your own organization, significantly less form a flourishing business. All things considered, Jobs felt everybody ought to plunge a toe in the enterprising water, regardless of whether it’s “just” a part time job.

Why? As Jobs said:

I think that without owning something — over an extended period of time, like a few years — where you have the chance to take responsibility for your recommendations, where you have to see your recommendations through all action stages, and accumulate scar tissue for the mistakes, and pick yourself up off the ground and dust yourself off, you learn a fraction of what you can. Coming in and making recommendations and not owning the results, not owning the implications, [provides] a fraction of the value and a fraction of the opportunity to learn to be better.

Without the experience of actually doing it, one never gets three-dimensional. Begin a business or a part time job and you get to diagram your own course, go with your own choices, commit your own errors, be liable for your own prosperity – – and gain from those choices, missteps, and triumphs.

Additionally, add another dimension to your life, personality, and skills.

On Money

Abundance isn’t an intermediary for insight. Also, certainly not so much for progress.

Jobs stated:

“When I was 25, my net worth was $100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. There’s no way you could ever spend it all, and I don’t view wealth as something that validates my intelligence.

My favorite things in life don’t cost any money.”

Simple to say when you’re valued at $100 million, yet at the same time. While money does a ton of things – – one of the most significant is to make decisions – – after a specific point, research shows cash doesn’t make individuals more joyful.

Jobs set his sights on earning a living doing what he loved. It’s up to you to decide what constitutes a “living,” but once you’ve achieved that level of financial success, you should put in a lot of effort to include at least some of the “love what you do” component.

Because if you do that, you’ll be living the life you want.

Unveiling Yoga’s Transformative Power in a Post-Pandemic World

Like few other ancient practices, yoga has shaped the world’s consciousness. Over a quarter of adults in the United States say they can’t function because they are so stressed. As indicated by the World Wellbeing Association, normal mental issues, for example, uneasiness and melancholy expense the world economy US$ 1 trillion yearly. This International Yoga Day, as we mark the second year since a major pandemic, it is high time that we delve deeper into the benefits of yoga for our post-pandemic world, which is dealing with significant shifts in work, wellness, and personal lives.

This Yoga Day is special because Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in New York to celebrate it at the UN Headquarters this year, where he proposed the idea of a dedicated yoga day in 2014.

While Yoga has become well known with an expected 300 million specialists around the world, 34 million in US alone, the famous origination of yoga is many times restricted to ‘asanas’, the actual stances that structure only one of the eight appendages of yoga as per Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Although the asanas can provide a workout comparable to that of a gym session, comparing yoga to a gym routine would be like comparing a single wave to the ocean.

Pranayama, or breath mindfulness, is another basic appendage that remains closely connected with asanas is in many cases disregarded in Western practices. Breathing methods can pivot crippling medical problems and as per Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscience teacher in Stanford College, changing how you inhale can end pressure in its tracks. He referred to a specific form of pranayama as a “psychological sigh,” which involves taking a shorter inhalation followed by a longer exhalation.

Whether as basic as a mental murmur or as perplexing as the ‘Wim Hof Technique’, which assisted its namesake with enduring outrageous cold and procure a few notices in the Guinness Book, are characteristically attached to our profound and actual prosperity. Yoga stands out because of the harmony between Asana and Pranayama, which gives us a mindful synchronicity that goes far beyond the mat.

Yama and Niyama, the initial two appendages, lay the moral and moral foundation for a yogic way of life. They create a mutually respectful agreement with the outside world, which results in mental clarity, emotional equilibrium, and spiritual awakening. Strangely, the pandemic has pushed us towards these standards. We have reduced our ecological footprint by working from home and commuting less, which is in line with “Ahimsa,” or nonviolence toward our planet. The thoughtfulness time, then again, mirrors ‘Svadhyaya’ or self-study. For sure, the pandemic has pushed us to ponder our lives, rethinking our connections, and reevaluating our work-life reconciliation.

The fifth appendage, Pratyahara, urges us to separate from the computerized over-burden and reconnect with ourselves. Initial five appendages structure the Bahiranga (outer) yoga, which, when dominated, can assist us with taking advantage of inert human potential.

The last three appendages — Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi — address Antaranga yoga, the inner part of yoga that takes advantage of the force of the brain. Here, we track down the underlying foundations of care — an idea now far reaching in the West. Care Based Pressure Decrease (MBSR) procedures, broadly perceived for their adequacy in managing pressure and injury, can be followed back to the standards tracked down in these appendages of yoga.

So, what does this all mean for the world after the pandemic? The comprehensive form of yoga provides a path as we shift our focus to health, well-being, and meaningful living. This isn’t just about adaptability or stress help, yet an excursion of self-change that starts with self-restraint, prompting internal harmony, poise, and euphoria.

Dharana and Dhyana can get us in contact with our inward presence, true serenity and inward joy and those manifest remotely as us having ‘chief presence’, which is progressively pursued in our work places. Yoga’s standards of concentration and discipline have even been applied effectively by Indian young people in bringing home the Scripps Spelling Honey bee titles a large number of years because of training that they get from North South Establishment.

Presently, envision the potential if we somehow happened to expand the utilization of these standards to more extensive life difficulties and open doors. An increase in productivity, creativity, and focus as well as a decrease in stress levels and a greater comprehension and acceptance of oneself and others could result from an expanded yoga practice.

As we celebrate Global Yoga Day this year, it merits thinking about how yoga, in its complete structure, has such a huge amount to propose in rethinking our reality. Its range stretches out past the Indian diaspora, who, with their developing presence across worldwide influential positions, have a one of a kind chance to share this all encompassing comprehension of yoga.

The principles and practices of yoga can help leaders establish businesses and communities that are harmonious and sustainable as the focus of leadership shifts from profit as the single bottom line to a triple bottom line that incorporates social and environmental considerations.

Moreover, it’s interesting to take note of the amount of this old insight lines up with the goals of contemporary developments. For instance, the developing accentuation on psychological wellness tracks down a friend in the yoga sutras. The Yama and Niyama tenets are in line with the focus on sustainable living. Careful practices, when thought about other option, are currently at the very front of standard wellbeing discussions. Yoga’s timeless relevance is demonstrated and its role in shaping our collective future is demonstrated in this synergy.

Yoga provides us with a framework for transformation—an opportunity to redefine our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world as a whole—as we navigate the complexities of our post-pandemic reality. Every small step on the yoga path can result in significant inner shifts, whether through mastering a challenging pose or simply observing our breath.

The force of yoga lies not simply in that frame of mind to assist us with contacting our toes yet in aiding us reach inside and contact our actual selves. To draw in with yoga at this level means to set out on an excursion of persistent learning and development, one that can prepare us to explore existence with versatility, elegance, and serenity.

As we keep on investigating the profundities of yoga, we should make sure to praise its extravagance and variety. Whether you’re rehearsing Ashtanga yoga in a New York studio, pondering by the Ganges, or performing Pranayama in your family room, you’re adding to a worldwide embroidery of change.

Thus, on this Worldwide Yoga Day, we should imagine a future where the comprehension of yoga rises above past the asanas. How about we endeavor to embrace its more profound insight in our regular routines. All things considered, a definitive objective of yoga, as portrayed in the Yoga Sutras, is to in any case the vacillations of the brain. In the midst of the variances of our impacting world, that feeling of quietness may very well be the securing force we want.

Bill Gates Says Warren Buffett Taught Him To Value Free Time

As President of Microsoft, Bill Doors had a pressed timetable — in any event, sending 2:00 a.m. solicitations to workers. Gates didn’t realize how to be kind to himself and his staff until he looked at the personal daybook of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett.

“I had consistently pressed, and I felt that was the main way you could get things done,” Entryways told writer Charlie Rose in a meeting with Buffett in 2017. “[ I] recollect Warren showing me his schedule … he [still] has days that there’s nothing on it.”

Buffett’s sparser timetable showed Entryways a significant example: ” You control your time … It’s anything but an intermediary of your reality that you fill consistently in your timetable. I can purchase anything I need, essentially, yet I can’t delay,” Buffett added.

Science actually supports Buffett’s strategy, which is essentially “work smarter, not harder.” Laborers’ capability steeply declines when they work over 50 hours out of each week, a 2014 Stanford College concentrate on found.

Individuals who stir as long as 70 hours seven days get a similar measure of work done as the people who slouch over their PCs for 55 hours, the examination uncovered.

That lesson hasn’t just been hard for Gates’ CEO. For instance, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed to CNBC’s David Faber in May that he now sleeps at least six hours per night. Musk had previously stated that he frequently worked all-nighters to get to work. “I’ve tried [to sleep] less, but… even though I’m awake more hours, I get less done,” Musk stated. What’s more, the cerebrum torment level is terrible in the event that I get under six hours [of rest for each night].”

For some, getting there might be difficult. It took Doors years to find a solid balance between serious and fun activities, he said in a new beginning discourse at Northern Arizona College.

I didn’t take vacations when I was your age. I didn’t trust in ends of the week. Gates stated, “I didn’t think the people I worked with should either.”

He continued, “Don’t wait as long as I did to learn this lesson.” Take your time to nurture your relationships, recoup from your losses, and rejoice in your accomplishments. Whenever you need to, take a break. Resist the urge to stress about individuals around you when they need it, as well.”

Harvard Professor Claims 3 Habits Helped Him 10 Years Younger

A Harvard genetics professor who only gets six hours of sleep each night and does not exercise every day claims that three habits helped him age by a decade. David Sinclair consumes polyphenols in a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt in the morning, green matcha tea, and 80 percent dark chocolate on occasion to maintain his healthy lifestyle.

However, Sinclair, a 54-year-old Harvard Medical School professor of genetics and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research, is not rigid about everything.

In a recent interview, he told GQ that he doesn’t usually exercise every day and doesn’t sleep more than six hours a night (standard guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week and between seven and nine hours of sleep each night).

Despite this, he claims that his regimen has helped him maintain a biological 10 years younger than his age, highlighting the modern phenomenon known as “reverse aging” or fighting decline and disease caused by age.

Sinclair tells GQ, “I think a lot of us think that when you’re in your twenties, you’re impervious to aging and illness. What we now know is that the epigenetic clock starts to tick from birth and that what we do in our twenties does affect our ultimate longevity.”

Experts say that your epigenetics are the focus of research that is relatively new on delaying and reversing aging. The 12 hallmarks of aging, which include epigenetic changes, cellular senescence, and chronic inflammation, have been outlined by longevity experts. The aging process may be slowed down by lifestyle choices and other treatments that target one or more of these characteristics.

Sinclair previously stated to Fortune, “Biological age is a much better representation of health status than birthday candles.” Birthday candles don’t tell you how well you’ve been living or how many years you have left in your life.

He is of the opinion that we will one day be able to go back 20 years. He continued, “I see no reason why that wouldn’t be possible.” The only question is when.

So, how does Sinclair manage to stay young and healthy as she gets older? In his early thirties, he started working on it. The longevity researcher started out in three ways:

Consuming Resveratrol Sinclair swears by resveratrol, a natural polyphenol or antioxidant that can be found in peanuts, red wine, and berries. Each morning, he takes it as a supplement along with “a couple of mouthfuls of yogurt.” Sinclair also has green matcha tea, which is high in polyphenols like ECGC catechins.

Antioxidant properties of polyphenols have been shown to improve mood, strengthen the gut microbiome, lower the risk of tissue damage, and increase heart strength.

Sinclair, on the other hand, consumes the micronutrient as a supplement, which is not regulated by the FDA in the United States; As a result, the dosage may be ambiguous and higher, increasing the likelihood of adverse effects like nausea and vomiting. The Cleveland Clinic says that the whole food source of the micronutrient is more likely to help you than the micronutrient in a supplement.

Sinclair tells GQ that for about 15 years he has made morning polyphenols a priority. Skipping breakfast Sinclair does intermittent fasting, in which he waits between 16 and 18 hours between large meals—a practice that is supported by many C-suite executives.

He tells GQ, “That’s basically having a very late lunch or a big dinner.” However, he warns against malnutrition and starvation and says that starting this regimen when you’re younger can be risky.

Intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and dementia, all of which are common causes of aging. Fasting, on the other hand, is not for everyone and can be harmful to one’s health, as well as a trigger for people who struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating. Without being excessively severe, there are additional ways of fasting that might work for you.

Specialists suggest beginning little, making feasts exceptionally nutritious, and remaining hydrated. Sinclair began reducing his intake of sugar and meat. He centers around a plant-based diet; Rice, couscous, and almonds make up a typical dinner.

According to what he tells GQ, “I rarely, rarely eat anything other than plant-based and nut-based foods, including milk.” Even though drinking wine is a part of the Mediterranean diet, Sinclair has given up the nightcap.

I’ve stopped eating dairy and alcohol as well. I rarely consume food or drink, but when I do, I’m happy to do so for a celebration or other occasion, but that’s what I focus on. Additionally, he admits to having an “occasional french fry.”

He claims that his diet “made a huge difference to my blood biomarkers and epigenetic age” within months. A plant-based diet is related with medical advantages like bringing down the gamble of diabetes, dementia, stoutness, and hypertension. Additionally, eating foods made from plants lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to Harvard Health, excessive sugar consumption, particularly added sugar in highly processed foods, is linked to diabetes, obesity, and heart issues.

“My memory also returned when I switched to this new diet. He tells GQ, “I used to have a hard time remembering phone numbers and key codes. Now it’s easy. As a result, I returned to my 20-year-old mind.”

An Important Skill Successful People Use At Work—And How To Develop It

There aren’t all people who are self-assured, well-organized, or great at solving problems who are happiest at work or who become millionaires before retiring?

According to Juliette Han, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist, a different skill gives successful people a competitive advantage in the workplace: Self-awareness.

Yet, Han, who is likewise an employee at Columbia Business college and a scholastic counsellor at Harvard Clinical School, says many individuals erroneously accept that mindfulness is “tied in with grasping your sentiments and defects.”

She adds that reflecting on your strengths and mapping them to your goals is part of being self-aware. Research recommends that creating mindfulness assists us with being more inventive, pursue sounder choices, convey better and assemble more grounded connections. Han describes it as “the most underrated skill” that successful individuals use to advance in their careers.

To discover your strengths and cultivate greater self-awareness, here are three suggestions:

Consider your skills and interests. What are your strengths? What activities do you enjoy? These are two of the main inquiries you ought to present yourself at work, whether you’re beginning a new position or crashing from burnout, says Han.

“For instance: Do you appreciate driving a group, or investigating information?” she says. ” You may be able to identify repetitive tasks with the assistance of these questions.”

When you have a decent comprehension of your assets and the work liabilities you’d appreciate, you can foster an arrangement to work on your abilities and spotlight on the ventures and errands that invigorate you.

When you meet with your boss or go out for coffee with a coworker, ask them for feedback by asking them these questions: Can you give me a specific instance when I contributed to your work?

Anything their response is will “assist you with gathering something important to you, the effect you have on those you work with and how others view you,” Han makes sense of.

Additionally, these conversations can assist you in determining which skills need improvement. For instance: On the off chance that a collaborator specifies a period your capacity to perform multiple tasks came in grasp on a significant venture, and this isn’t an expertise you use frequently, you should consider rehearsing that ability more.

Han asked her dear companions how they would portray her in three words, and “amusing” sprung up in pretty much every reaction. She understood that her humor not just made her an old buddy, as per her loved ones — it could likewise make help her be a more sympathetic, cordial chief.

Han adds, “Sometimes, you don’t realize your strengths until you see them through the eyes of someone else.”

Put forth objectives and keep tabs on your development

When you know which abilities you need to improve or integrate more into your work, you ought to lay out objectives and keep tabs on your development, which can assist you with remaining inspired and work all the more proficiently.

According to Han, the skill pays off in dividends, but it takes a long time to notice measurable improvements in self-awareness.

Han says, ” It is possible to possess all of the world’s technical skills and charisma, but if you are completely unaware of who you are, how you present yourself, and how you interact with others, it will be much more difficult to cultivate the friendships you need to truly succeed.

Bill Gates On Problem Solving

While possessing the correct answers is crucial, success can also be attained by posing the right questions. As Gates stated:

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve tackled every big new problem the same way: by starting off with two questions. I used this technique at Microsoft, and I still use it today. I ask these questions literally every week about Covid-19.

Here they are: Who has dealt with this problem well? And what can we learn from them?

In essence, this encapsulates Gates’ approach. When attempting to tackle a significant problem or reach a substantial goal, avoid spending time trying to create something new from scratch. Instead, look for an excellent existing solution that can be adapted to your needs. Seek out individuals who have successfully resolved the issue or achieved the objective. Begin with the end in mind – the resolution or accomplishment – and work your way back.

This method serves as a great equalizer since it doesn’t require you to be exceptionally creative, intelligent, connected, educated, or wealthy. All that’s needed is the willingness to search, examine, and follow the steps and processes discovered. The best part is that you’ll embark on this journey with confidence – rather than hope – that your efforts will produce results.

As the saying goes, “what works for others can definitely work for you.”

Bill Gates on Using Your Time Wisely

Warren Buffett once remarked, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Gates shares a similar perspective:

He recalls Warren showing him his calendar, which had many empty slots. Gates used to believe that filling every minute was the only way to be productive. However, he realized that being cautious with time and allowing for days with nothing on the schedule meant that “sitting and thinking may be a much higher priority.”

Gates emphasizes that a packed schedule is not an indicator of your commitment or effectiveness; it simply makes you busy.

If you find yourself struggling to achieve your goals, take a step back and identify what truly matters and drives results. In most cases, the key factor isn’t you, so don’t assume your presence is indispensable in every meeting or call.

Remember, an overbooked calendar might be preventing you from attaining the success you aspire to and rightfully deserve.

Bill Gates on Being a Good Leader

During Microsoft’s early years, Gates utilized his remarkable memory to monitor the hours employees worked by memorizing their license plates. He would check the parking lot to see when they arrived and left. Given that Gates worked weekends and “didn’t believe in vacations,” this approach is not too surprising.

However, Gates eventually recognized that focusing on results was more important and a better use of his time as a leader. He also learned to adjust his expectations, particularly in terms of patience. As Gates mentioned:

Patience is an essential component of success, particularly for leaders.

Reflect on the most exceptional boss you’ve ever had. You were inspired to perform your best because you knew they cared about and believed in you, and you didn’t want to disappoint them.

One of the most effective ways to demonstrate to your employees that you care and have faith in their abilities is by exercising patience. When you display patience and convey genuine confidence, your team members will naturally be driven to discover methods to accomplish tasks that astonish everyone – themselves included.

3 Effective Ways to Enhance Relationships

Navigating relationships can often appear more complex than necessary. We find ourselves questioning whether our partner is “the one” and if perfection can be sustained. However, reality doesn’t always meet our expectations. When issues arise, the feeling of being overwhelmed or lost in love can set in. To address this, you might explore scientific research, seek counseling, or sift through myriad relationship advice, trying to find something valuable.

The sheer volume of information can be daunting, making inaction seem like the best option. While doing nothing may provide temporary relief, it won’t lead to lasting improvements in your relationship. The good news? Enhancing your relationship is actually simpler than you think, boiling down to just three fundamental strategies.

Take Initiative People who adopt the “take initiative” approach tackle problems head-on. If this sounds like you, it’s difficult for you to sit idly by. Instead, you’re eager to take action and invest time and energy into resolving issues. You prefer being proactive, anticipating potential hurdles and addressing them before they become major concerns. As Nicholas Sparks penned in The Notebook, “So, it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day…” Embrace the effort; it’s a natural part of building a strong relationship. Here are some ways to take initiative:

  • The four-hour commitment:

Enhancing your relationship doesn’t need to be time-consuming. With 168 hours in a week, allocate just four to prioritizing your relationship. To maximize the impact, plan date nights with “N.I.C.E.” activities—those that are “new, interesting, challenging, and exciting.” Studies indicate that couples who engage in such activities together enjoy better relationships (Aron et al., 2022).

  • Develop relationship skills: Use some of those four hours to improve your relationship skills. Key areas to focus on include communication, conflict resolution, understanding your partner, self-awareness, life management, stress management, and sexual/romantic skills (Epstein et al., 2013). Most of these skills involve self-improvement, making them easier to implement without your partner’s assistance. And since there’s always room for growth, revisiting these skills is beneficial. Research suggests that honing these abilities leads to a healthier relationship.
  • Be more adventurous in bed: Here’s an enjoyable suggestion: increasing sexual variety can boost arousal and desire (Morton & Gorzalka, 2015). Greater desire and arousal lead to improved sexual satisfaction by combating monotony and boredom, ultimately reducing the likelihood of infidelity. It’s a win-win situation.

Lower Expectations

If adding more to your already busy life seems unattainable, consider wanting less instead of doing more. This doesn’t mean discarding all your standards; rather, adjust your expectations to be more realistic and appreciate what is sufficient.

The “lower expectations” approach appeals to those who understand that their perception of their partner’s actions or their relationship rules affects their happiness. For instance, viewing occasional moodiness as a deal-breaker or believing that happy couples don’t argue is counterproductive. As Hamlet said, “…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” The issue might not be the relationship itself, but your perspective. Educating yourself about healthy relationships can help.

  • Soulmate myth: While romance is important in a relationship, believing in soulmates can impose nearly impossible standards on your partner. No one is truly flawless. Soulmates are thought to be your perfect match, the person you’re destined to be with (Knee & Petty, 2013). When your partner inevitably falls short, doubts arise. You may question whether you’re in the right relationship or if your partner is the right person for you. Let go of these impossible standards.
  • Manage expectations: In the film Up in the Air, Anna Kendrick’s character, Natalie, has a highly specific list of qualities she wants in a partner and claims, “I just don’t want to settle.” Vera Farmiga’s character, Alex, explains that not ticking every box on a wishlist isn’t a failure. However, unrealistic expectations will always disappoint, setting both your partner and your relationship up for failure. Instead, lower your expectations by recognizing that neither you nor your partner is perfect. Excessively high expectations and constant dissatisfaction can prevent you from appreciating your amazing partner.
  • Avoid searching for problems: Even with properly adjusted expectations, you might still be overly critical of your partner and relationship. Our natural negativity bias encourages us to focus on negative aspects (Rozin & Royzman, 2001). This can lead to “problemicity” or identifying problems where none exist. Research suggests that when your relationship lacks significant issues, you tend to overemphasize smaller ones (Levari et al., 2018). One way to lower expectations is by not creating drama or seeking out problems.

However, don’t disregard all your standards. Lowering expectations too much can lead to unhappiness. Find a balance with reasonable and realistic expectations.

Appreciate What You Have Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. If you struggle to find time to “do more” and you have fair expectations, consider adopting the easiest strategy: cherish your current relationship. As Alan Kay said, “A change of perspective is worth 80 IQ points.” It’s time to gain wisdom about your love life.

  • Be grateful: Improving your relationship could be as simple as expressing gratitude for what you already have. Acknowledge everything that is easy, comfortable, uncomplicated, stable, and predictable in your relationship. We often take these fundamental building blocks for granted, but they are crucial to success. Expressing gratitude for these positive aspects can enhance relationship quality (Algoe et al., 2013).
  • Celebrate the positives: Take your appreciation a step further by emphasizing the good parts even more. Researchers call this “capitalization,” which involves savoring good news and positive moments in a relationship to boost individual well-being and self-esteem (Gable & Reis, 2010). Capitalization also increases closeness, satisfaction, intimacy, and commitment in the relationship. Remember, healthy relationships typically have more positives than negatives – just take the time to notice them.
  • Embrace positive illusions: You might worry that your partner and relationship aren’t as great as you perceive them to be. What if you’re wrong or deceiving yourself? Surprisingly, holding positive illusions, or viewing your relationship as better than it is, can actually benefit the relationship (Murray et al., 1996). Our overly generous assessments give our partners a goal to strive for, encouraging self-improvement (e.g., “My partner thinks I’m really wonderful, so I better make sure I am so they’re not disappointed.”), which ultimately benefits the relationship.

What’s the Ideal Approach? So, which of these three strategies should you choose? The best one is the one you’re most likely to put into practice. Your personal problem-solving preference will determine the ideal approach.

  • If you’re proactive and driven, take initiative.
  • Are you somewhat critical, judgmental, or demanding? Lower your expectations.
  • If you believe stepping back and reassessing is necessary, focus on appreciating what you have.

Select the strategy that allows you to get started immediately. Once you begin implementing it, you’ll create positive momentum that can be utilized to incorporate other techniques. Feel free to mix and match or stick with the one that works best for you. What truly matters is that you’re actively working to enhance your relationship. Its future is too valuable to do anything less.

First-Ever Sex Championship To Be Hosted In Sweden

While many countries, even many European ones, are slow to make big moves in recognizing sex as a recreational activity, Sweden, in true trendsetter style, has not held back. This Nordic country was the first to register sex as a sport and is now all set to host the first-ever European Sex Championship which will be held on June 8.
The championship is being organized by the Swedish Sex Federation and is open to anyone from any European Country. The tournament is expected to last for several weeks, with each participant having to compete for 6 hours a day. Challenges are bracketed under 16 disciplines, including seduction, oral sex, penetration and more.
According to Dragan Bratych, the chairman of the Swedish Sex Association, the focus of sex as a sport is on maximizing pleasure, so the more pleasure one’s partner experiences, the more points one earns. Creativity, strong emotions, imagination, physical fitness, endurance and workability are all under the scanner during the challenges.
Contestants are also expected to be well-versed in the Kamasutra and will be given extra points for displaying as many of its disciplines in their challenges. During the final evaluation, winners will be determined through a 70-30 split; 70% audience votes and 30% jury rating.
According to the report, 20 contestants from different countries have already applied. The organizers have also expressed that sexual orientation can play a strategic role in this sport and believe that other European countries will adopt the same in the future.
Sport has often been used as a loose term to apply to many weird and unusual activities such as wife-carrying, underwater hockey, extreme ironing, chess boxing – all legitimate sporting activities that a quick Google search will confirm. But none compare to Sweden’s move to declare sex as a sport. As could be expected, the internet has a lot to say about it, both for and against. Here’s a quick snapshot:

The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing for Stress Relief and Enhanced Productivity

Residing in The Hague, I am surrounded by 11 kilometers of stunning coastline that features picturesque dunes and sandy shores. During summer, it’s common to find locals at Scheveningen or Kijkduin, the city’s most popular beaches, basking in the sun, taking leisurely walks, or cycling before settling on one of the many benches available. They might be reading, conversing with friends, or simply engaging in the act of niksen.

Niksen, a Dutch wellness trend translating to “doing nothing,” gained global attention in 2019 as a method for managing stress and recovering from burnout. At that time, many people were seeking relief from fatigue and depression caused by overwork, leading to the adoption of concepts like Japanese ikigai or Danish hygge. As a linguist, I appreciated how the idea of doing nothing could be conveyed in a single, easy-to-pronounce word.

In my book, Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing, I describe it as “doing nothing without a purpose” – not mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or meditating. While mindfulness focuses on being present in the moment, niksen is about setting aside time to simply exist, allowing your mind to wander freely. In our post-pandemic world, reevaluating how we work and utilize our time is crucial.

From a linguistic standpoint, the verb “niksen” (doing nothing) is derived from “niks,” meaning “nothing.” According to Monique Flecken, a psycholinguist at the University of Amsterdam, “It fits with the tendency of the Dutch language to create verbs out of nouns,” such as “voetbal” (football) becoming “voetballen” (playing football), or “internet” turning into “internetten.” She adds, “The Dutch are a practical, direct people and their language reflects that.”

In the Netherlands, niksen can have both positive and negative connotations. Flecken explains that a parent might ask their child, “Zit je weer te niksen?” (Are you doing nothing again?), while someone might also say “lekker niksen,” translating to “delicious doing nothing,” when referring to an evening blissfully devoid of tasks or work.

Psychologist and author Thijs Launspach defines niksen as “doing nothing or occupying yourself with something trivial as a way of enjoying your own time.” He notes that this concept is more applicable to older individuals with unstructured free time, whereas younger generations in the Netherlands – a country known for its work-life balance – are more stressed than ever.

Launspach attributes this stress to various factors: “Our lives and our jobs have become increasingly complex. We tend to spend a lot of time with computers. There is a lot of pressure on being the best version of yourself, be it in our jobs, or the expectations of parents [or] from social media. There is a lot of pressure to perform.”

Stress, as Bernet Elzinga, a psychology professor at Leiden University, points out, isn’t always detrimental. “It’s not necessarily bad to be for a moment in a state of stress, where you’re really on and focused. The problem is when this is getting out of hand,” she remarked. However, niksen can offer a solution by allowing the mind to wander and reflect, connecting us to our default mode network.

Interestingly, engaging in niksen can boost productivity, as taking breaks enables our brains to rest and refocus. This might explain why the Dutch, despite not working long hours, are highly efficient at work. In the Netherlands, the prevailing attitude is “just be normal, that’s already crazy enough,” discouraging overtime and reflecting the country’s honest and egalitarian culture.

This approach appears to be effective, as the Dutch are renowned for their creativity and innovation – from famous painters like Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Escher to inventive flood control measures like massive dams and floating houses.

The Dutch also value enjoyment, as evidenced by the word lekker, meaning “delicious,” but applicable to anything pleasant, such as lekker warm, lekker slapen, and lekker niksen. Their focus on leisure makes it easier for people to do nothing more effortlessly. Locals often spend their time actively, cycling or hiking, and flocking to cafes and terraces whenever the sun emerges, even in winter. These spaces are ideal for practicing niksen.

However, Launspach remains skeptical of using niksen as a stress prevention strategy. “I’m a little bit skeptical of the idea that you should create a buffer between you and stress. I don’t know if that’s even possible in the way that we live and work now,” he stated. Elzinga, on the other hand, believes engaging in physical activity in nature is a better way to distract from daily concerns.

Fortunately, the Netherlands offers opportunities to combine niksen, nature, and movement. The Dutch cherish their limited natural areas, with many dune spaces forming part of an extensive network of hiking and cycling routes across the country. Even in larger cities like Rotterdam, The Hague, or Amsterdam, trails are never too far away.

In collaboration with the Dutch Railway system, Wandelnet has developed NS Wandelingen, a series of easily accessible hiking routes via public transport. With distances ranging from 7 to 22 kilometers, these routes are perfect for day trips, and the numerous benches along the way provide opportunities for niksen breaks.

The Dutch can enjoy such leisure time thanks to their excellent welfare system and balance between hard work and ample days off. “Having a good social support system, having lower stress level relates to feeling secure and in balance. So, I wouldn’t overestimate the importance of that,” said Elzinga. Given the ongoing global challenges – the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine – stress relief is more vital than ever.

Effective Communication Helps Strengthen Relationship and Fulfil Your Needs

Arguably, the most crucial aspect you can bring to your relationship is being conscious of your own emotions. Equally important is understanding your partner’s feelings. To say that these skills are essential for a couple’s well-being and happiness would be a massive understatement.

Even with awareness of your relationship’s emotions, what should you do with this knowledge? This is where communication skills come into play. How do you express to your partner that they’ve angered or hurt you? How can you convey your needs to them? As most couples therapists know, “The way you communicate a difficult message is even more important than the message itself.”

Let’s examine examples of unsuccessful communication.

Ineffective Communication Examples

Mark is upset and angry because Beth didn’t pay attention to him at a party, even after he asked her to stay by his side since he didn’t know anyone.

  1. Passive-aggressive: Mark decides, “I’ll show her how it feels. I’ll ignore her at my work party next week.”
  2. Aggressive: Mark approaches Beth during the party and quietly, but furiously, says, “You are so self-centered! I’m never going to another party with you again.”
  3. Sarcastic: As soon as they get in the car to drive home, Mark angrily says, “Well, I hope you had fun at that party because I sure didn’t.”


Passive-aggressive actions are more about retaliation than communication. Mark believes his tit-for-tat approach will teach Beth a lesson, but it won’t. When Mark ignores Beth at his work party, it’s likely that she’ll never link his behavior to her own. Even if she does, resentment will follow. This method only burdens the relationship with negativity over time.


In this example, Mark uses an accusatory and confrontational approach, with poor timing. His words, tone, and decision to confront her during the party guarantee that Beth won’t want to fix the issue. Instead, she’ll feel attacked, hurt, and potentially humiliated. Sadly, Mark’s needs will remain unaddressed.


Here, Mark waits until it’s too late for Beth to correct her behavior in the moment. He doesn’t communicate his feelings directly or considerately. Sarcasm is like “a jab that comes at you from the side.” Beth will feel accused and attacked, raising her defenses. Consequently, Mark’s message will be lost.

The Worst Thing About Ineffective Communication

If you see yourself or your partner in these examples, it’s likely that neither of you learned effective communication skills growing up. As a therapist specializing in childhood emotional neglect, I’ve observed that many couples’ communication is heavily influenced by their upbringing.

Some families openly and directly address emotions and are comfortable discussing problems. Others are deeply uncomfortable or entirely oblivious to their members’ feelings. Emotionally neglectful families fail to teach their children essential emotional communication skills required for a happy marriage.

If you or your partner were raised in an emotionally neglectful family, there’s a high chance your marriage suffers from a lack of communication skills. This can be frustrating and divisive, but there’s another lesser-known negative result: your messages, feelings, and needs go unheard, and thus, unfulfilled.

Good Communication Skills Examples

Consider the same scenario where Mark feels hurt and angry because Beth disregarded him at a party, even after he requested her to stay with him since he was unfamiliar with the crowd.

  1. At the party, Mark gently places his hand on Beth’s shoulder and whispers in her ear, “Don’t forget, I don’t know anyone here. Please remember to stay with me.”
  2. As they drive home, Mark calmly asks, “Beth, I thought we agreed to stick together at the party tonight. What happened?”

In the first instance, Mark’s communication is spot-on. He conveys his needs to Beth while still at the party, giving her the chance to rectify the situation. His approach is non-confrontational, as he merely reminds her. This way, he not only assumes she isn’t deliberately ignoring him but also encourages her to address the issue.

In the second example, although Beth cannot fix the problem during the party, Mark still communicates in a non-accusatory and non-aggressive manner.

Posing questions is an excellent method for avoiding blame and allowing your partner to explain their actions. It also fosters open discussion rather than inciting an angry or defensive reaction. Remember, “the moment your partner’s defenses are up, you lose their capacity to attend to your feelings or needs.”

The Greatest Benefit of Effective Communication

Effective communication skills offer numerous advantages. They facilitate honesty within the relationship and continuously deepen your understanding of one another—even after 20 years together.

As with poor communication skills, there’s another crucial aspect that most people overlook: when you express yourself appropriately, your partner is more likely to listen, increasing the chances of getting your wants and needs met.

If you or your partner were raised in an emotionally neglectful family and didn’t have the opportunity to learn effective communication skills, it’s essential to know that it’s never too late. As long as you’re willing to learn, you can acquire these skills and even pass them on to your children.

Harvard-Trained Expert Reveals Top Technique for Gaining Trust: ‘That’s What I Would Do’

Establishing trust with others is crucial for success, but setting an example as a leader is not the most effective approach, according to a Harvard-educated leadership consultant. Yasmene Mumby, founder of management consulting firm The Ringgold, tells CNBC Make It that many people believe demonstrating their leadership competence will earn them trust. However, she emphasizes that trust is built when people know “that you have their back, that they’re supported by you and that your support isn’t going to be used for exploitation later.”

Mumby suggests that the key to cultivating this deep connection lies in active listening. By being fully engaged in conversations and demonstrating understanding through your responses, you can gain the trust of others. “Go in utilizing your deep, inquiry-based listening,” Mumby advises, adding, “That’s what I would do.”

Mastering this simple yet not necessarily easy strategy involves maintaining eye contact, remaining still, and waiting for the speaker to complete their thoughts before responding, as mental health coach Amanda O’Bryan suggested in a Positive Psychology blog post. When you do respond, consider asking open-ended follow-up questions, such as “How did that make you feel?” or “How can I help?”

According to Mumby, giving undivided attention is essential, as any form of mental multitasking can detract from the conversation.

A 2010 study from the University of Utah’s psychology department found that only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively. To truly build trust, Mumby emphasizes the need for consistency and repetition in practicing active listening.

She concludes, “You need to be able to demonstrate that you’re consistent and you don’t switch up when the moment is right.”

12 Habits Successful People Avoid in Social Settings

What differentiates successful people from others in social situations? The answer might be simpler than anticipated: habits. Adopting the right habits can lead to success in business and life, while letting go of harmful ones can help overcome challenges. To achieve greater success, learn from those who have already found it by emulating their habits and identifying any personal behaviors that might hinder your progress. In this article, we’ll discuss key habits that successful individuals avoid in social settings, providing a clear path for personal growth and achievement.

1.They Never Put Anyone Down

The journey to success can sometimes be lonely, especially if what we consider accomplishments aren’t widely recognized. Truly successful people understand this and develop empathy for those striving to succeed. Rejections and obstacles can be disheartening, but knowing that their efforts are appreciated by some can keep them going. Successful people are aware of the struggles involved in reaching the top, so they always advocate for fair treatment. They never intentionally demean anyone in public; instead, they elevate and uplift others’ spirits, encouraging them to keep going.

  1. They Don’t Conform Just to Fit In

Successful individuals know how to adapt in social situations without conforming to ideas that conflict with their values. They consistently align with their core values, embracing authenticity and simplicity while overcoming challenges and expectations. If successful people stopped pursuing their passions after listening to naysayers, they wouldn’t become pioneers in their industries. For them, external validation is appreciated but not necessary for achieving success. Their priority is following their convictions, even if they’re in the minority.

  1. They Don’t Tolerate Disrespect

Truly successful people recognize their worth and refuse to let others disrespect them. Their strong sense of self-respect enables them to distance themselves from situations or individuals who fail to appreciate and value them as they deserve. Disrespect in social settings can manifest in various ways, from subtle to blatant actions or words. However, instead of creating a scene, successful people handle confrontations gracefully. They maintain professionalism but always communicate their feelings and reasons for taking offense.

4.They Never Claim Perfection

Genuinely successful individuals understand that achieving perfection is impossible, and as such, they don’t pretend to be perfect. Maintaining a faultless exterior can be draining, as “it’s easy to slip up and make mistakes.” Society’s concept of perfection is so restrictive that those perceived as perfect often fear taking risks or stepping outside their comfort zones. Successful people acknowledge that certain factors, like the actions of others, are beyond their control. Instead of fretting over things that don’t go according to plan, they concentrate on what they can influence. They never feign perfection and consistently accept responsibility for their failures, rather than burdening themselves with stress and blaming those around them.

5.They Don’t Overcompensate

Successful individuals never feel compelled to overcompensate, as they possess a natural confidence based on a firm grasp of their own identity. They understand that their best efforts are sufficient for any given situation. Moreover, successful people recognize that overcompensation often arises from a need to hide personal deficiencies. With a strong faith in their own abilities, however, they have no reason to disguise any perceived shortcomings. This self-confidence enables them to concentrate on their objectives without succumbing to the pressure to overcompensate. Defining one’s own vision of success is essential – successful people clearly comprehend what accomplishment means to them, which eliminates the urge to overcompensate or overachieve. While they have a guiding compass directing them towards their goals, they’re not impervious to insecurities and failures. Nevertheless, they refuse to allow setbacks to define them or hinder their pursuits, maintaining focus and resilience in the face of adversity.

6.They Always Celebrate Their Achievements

For successful individuals, reaching their current position required a long and challenging journey. Many might have considered giving up along the way, but various motivations and milestones kept them going – which is why it’s crucial for them to consistently celebrate every victory. “Celebrating small wins gives us a feeling of pride and happiness that keeps us working towards bigger goals.” This sentiment is particularly true when others join in the celebration. However, celebrating achievements in social situations doesn’t grant people the right to be boastful or arrogant. Successful people do so because they’re genuinely proud of their accomplishments and wish to share their positivity, not because they want to feel superior to others.

7.They Always Listen to Others

While successful people have a clear sense of their goals, they also appreciate the significance of listening to others – even if it proves challenging at first. They never neglect to listen because they recognize that their ideas may not always be the best – others might have more valuable insights or methods for achieving a shared objective. Effective listening involves more than simply allowing others to speak; it also requires giving full attention and resisting the urge to react defensively. “If you start listening closely to what others have to say, then it’s easier to gain their trust and respect.”

  1. They Always Prioritize Their Friends

Successful individuals understand when to accept requests and invitations, but they also recognize when it’s appropriate to decline. They develop the skill of discerning when to say no over time. These people always make time for their loved ones, ensuring they never cancel plans. Highly successful individuals avoid flaking on others by not overcommitting themselves. They enjoy spending quality time with important people in their lives while also setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care. Success, in their eyes, involves choosing whom to say no to. Effective time management allows them to strike a balance between pursuing their passions and bonding with loved ones.

  1. They Seize Every Opportunity

Highly successful individuals believe that valuable lessons can be found in the most unexpected places. They are confident in their ability to handle any opportunity that comes their way. Many people struggle with self-doubt and impostor syndrome, but successful individuals set themselves apart with their unwavering faith in their own capabilities. Instead of being intimidated by significant opportunities, they confidently embrace them, understanding that even failure provides essential learning experiences. Successful people approach every situation as a chance for growth and improvement.

  1. They Don’t Expect Too Much Too Soon

While successful people do their best to help those around them, they also acknowledge that they are not responsible for meeting everyone’s needs. They believe in earning their success and never anticipate handouts or unearned favors from others. When it comes to offering assistance, they are more than willing to return the support they’ve received during their times of need. Appreciative of the aid they’ve been given, they often form lasting friendships with those who have supported them, cultivating a network of caring, uplifting connections.

  1. They Avoid “Humble Bragging”

Humble bragging is a way of boasting that thinly disguises arrogance with a semblance of humility. Successful people understand that humble bragging is irritating and toxic behavior, so they exercise restraint in their choice of words and tone. They don’t embellish their stories with exaggerations or false details to make them seem more impressive than they are. Their friends and family members take pride in their accomplishments, ensuring that their achievements are recognized and celebrated without the need for humble bragging.

  1. They Never Pretend to Know It All

Successful individuals never claim to have all the answers, especially when their knowledge on a subject is limited. Rather than speaking thoughtlessly, they listen attentively to others and strive to learn from them. Many people lack the intellectual humility to admit their ignorance and seek help, often because they perceive it as a sign of weakness. However, successful individuals recognize that listening to those who possess greater expertise is crucial for achieving their goals. They understand that admitting what they don’t know is perfectly acceptable, as there is always room for growth and improvement.

5 Pieces of Advice Bill Gates Would Give His 21-Year-Old Self

What wise life advice would you offer your younger self if given the chance? Bill Gates addressed this question during his commencement speech at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff.

You might wonder why Gates, who typically declines most commencement invitations, chose to speak at a public college ranked 284th in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings. Gates believes NAU is “redefining the value of a college degree.” Rather than boasting about its exclusivity, the school focuses on inclusivity and transforming as many lives as possible through the power of higher education. NAU welcomes any Arizona high school graduate with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and tuition is free for those with family incomes below the state’s median of $65,000. Students who don’t qualify for admission are directed to community colleges and encouraged to transfer later.

Gates himself never earned a college degree, aside from honorary ones received for speeches like this one. After three semesters at Harvard, he dropped out to co-found Microsoft. “So, what does a college dropout know about graduation? Not much personally, to be honest,” he told the NAU graduates.

Nevertheless, he envisioned the college graduation ceremony he never had and the valuable insights he could have gained from a commencement speaker. Since he never experienced that, Gates shared his advice with NAU’s new graduates from the perspective of a 67-year-old philanthropist, former CEO, and former world’s richest person.

  1. “Your life isn’t a one-act play.”

When Gates left college to start Microsoft, he thought he would work there for the rest of his life. “I’m so glad I was wrong,” he said.

He’s not alone. Staying in one job or even one profession throughout an entire career is no longer common. In a 2021 survey, 52 percent of Americans considered changing jobs, and 44 percent had actual plans to do so. Experts agree that it’s nearly impossible to predict what you might want in 20 or even 10 years.

Gates told the graduates, “You’re probably facing a lot of pressure right now to make the right decisions about your career.” He reassured them, “It might feel like those decisions are permanent. They’re not. What you do tomorrow–or for the next 10 years–does not have to be what you do forever.”

  1. “You can never be too smart to feel confused.”

Gates left Harvard believing he knew everything necessary, but he was mistaken. He now asserts that the journey to knowledge involves “leaning into what you don’t know, instead of focusing on what you do know.” Eventually, everyone encounters a work problem they can’t solve independently. Gates advises staying calm and seeking guidance from someone knowledgeable. “People want to help you. The key is to not be afraid to ask,” he said. “You may be done with school. But the rest of your life can–and should–still be an education.”

  1. “Seek work that addresses a problem.”

Gates emphasized that more jobs and professions enable you to “make a living by making a difference.” Pursuing such roles is highly rewarding. “When you spend your days doing something that solves a big problem, it energizes you to do your best work. It forces you to be more creative, and it gives your life a stronger sense of purpose,” he explained. A strong sense of purpose can prevent future regrets about wasted time on unimportant work. Moreover, Sanjiv Chopra, a Harvard Medical School professor and author, claims that having a purpose in life will make you happier than winning the lottery.

  1. “Never underestimate the power of friendship.”

Gates reminded listeners that he co-founded Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen and that the graduates’ friends and contacts could significantly impact their success. “They are your network,” he stated. “Your future co-founders and colleagues. Your best sources of support, information, and advice. The only thing more valuable than what you walk offstage with today is whom you walk onstage with.”

  1. “Cutting yourself some slack doesn’t make you a slacker.”

Gates wishes he had learned this lesson earlier. “When I was your age, I didn’t believe in vacations,” he told the students. “I didn’t believe in weekends. I didn’t believe the people I worked with should either.” He used to monitor employees’ hours from his office, but becoming a father changed his perspective. “Don’t wait as long as I did to learn this lesson,” he advised. “Take time to nurture your relationships. To celebrate your successes. And to recover from your losses. Take a break when you need to. Take it easy on the people around you when they need it, too.” He encouraged new graduates to have fun before embarking on the next stage of their lives.

The author’s new book, Career Self-Care, discusses how professionals can balance their dedication to work with self-care and personal relationships. As Gates mentioned, learning this lesson earlier can lead to greater happiness and success. Prioritizing self-care and a life outside work often results in higher career achievements.

6 Powerful Habits To Transform Your Life One Day At A Time

Small habits can often bring about substantial changes in our lives. Incorporating easy yet impactful practices into our everyday routines can lead to enduring self-improvement and transformation. In this article, we delve into six minor habits that can alter your life for the better when consistently applied.

Write Down Your Goals

The initial habit to embrace is recording your objectives. “When you put your aspirations on paper, they become more concrete,” serving as visible, solid reminders of what you want to accomplish. Writing down your goals helps to engrave them in your memory, making it simpler to concentrate on achieving them.

To establish practical objectives, think about using the SMART criteria, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By setting SMART goals, monitoring your progress and maintaining motivation becomes easier. With your written goals, you can “refer to them regularly,” supplying you with continuous motivation and guidance.

Establish Systems for Goal Achievement

Although goal-setting is essential, it’s equally important to develop systems that support their realization. A goal signifies the desired result, while a system represents the process leading you there. Having a systematic approach to attaining goals reduces the chances of being sidetracked by unexpected obstacles or distractions.

For instance, if you aim to lose 10 pounds within three months, a potential system could include regular exercise, meal planning, and monitoring your daily calorie consumption. By concentrating on the system rather than the outcome, you can maintain constant effort and enhance your chances of success.

Implementing and sustaining systems necessitates discipline, organization, and occasional reevaluation. Regularly assess your systems’ effectiveness and make adjustments to guarantee ongoing progress.

Apply the Pareto Principle to Prioritize Important Tasks

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, implies that roughly 80% of results stem from 20% of efforts. Utilizing this principle in various aspects of your life enables you to concentrate on the most crucial tasks, ensuring that your energy is channeled toward activities with the most significant outcomes.

To effectively employ the Pareto Principle, start by identifying and prioritizing the most vital tasks in your personal and professional life. Focusing on these high-impact activities can lead to “meaningful progress toward your goals” while preventing the risk of overextending yourself.

Learn to Say No

Developing the ability to be selective with your commitments is one of the most influential habits you can cultivate. By declining things that don’t align with your objectives or values, you make room for activities that truly matter.

Establishing boundaries is crucial for maintaining equilibrium and focus in your life. Mastering the art of saying no without causing offense or straining relationships is essential. Practice assertive and transparent communication, and keep in mind that it’s often better to turn down an invitation or request than to overcommit and disappoint others or yourself.

Saying no to the right things can result in heightened focus and productivity, ultimately enabling you to accomplish more in less time.

Treat Time as Your Most Precious Asset

Time is a finite resource that cannot be regained once spent. When you acknowledge the true value of your time, you’re more likely to make choices that mirror your priorities and bring you closer to your goals.

To effectively utilize your time, devise methods for managing and monitoring it. Consider using tools like calendars, planners, and time-tracking apps to stay organized and maintain oversight of your schedule. Set aside time for crucial tasks and ensure you have enough downtime for relaxation and rejuvenation. Periodically evaluate how you use your time and adjust as necessary to maximize this invaluable resource.

Improve a Little Each Day

The notion of continuous improvement highlights the power of small, incremental changes. Rather than aiming for huge leaps forward, concentrate on making daily progress in various aspects of your life, such as health, relationships, and career. Over time, these minor adjustments can accumulate, leading to significant transformation.

To integrate daily improvement into your routine, begin by identifying areas where you want to grow. Next, establish attainable micro-goals that can be addressed each day. For instance, if you want to enhance your fitness, commit to doing ten minutes of exercise daily, gradually increasing the duration or intensity as you become stronger.

Consistency is the key to continuous improvement. Consciously engage in daily activities that promote growth and progress, creating a positive feedback loop that fuels your motivation and reinforces your commitment to change.

Inspirational stories of people who have transformed their lives through small, consistent changes serve as powerful reminders of what can be achieved when we concentrate on daily improvement. Embrace the potential of incremental progress, and you might accomplish more than you ever imagined.


The six habits examined in this article – recording goals, establishing systems for goal achievement, applying the Pareto Principle, learning to say no, valuing time, and pursuing daily improvement – can bring about lasting change when consistently practiced. As you begin your journey toward enduring transformation, remember these habits and commit to incorporating them into your everyday routine.

Change is rarely easy, but with perseverance, determination, and a focus on these minor habits, you can create a life that is more satisfying and more aligned with your values and ambitions. Keep in mind that small, consistent steps lead to major transformations. Start today and harness the power of small habits to change your life forever.

FDA Recommends Over-The-Counter Birth Control Pill In The US

Federal health advisors announced on Wednesday that a long-standing birth control pill could potentially be sold over the counter, potentially leading to the first non-prescription contraceptive medication in the U.S. A panel of FDA advisors unanimously supported Perrigo’s proposal to sell its daily medication alongside products like eye drops and allergy pills. The recommendation came after a two-day meeting discussing whether women could safely and effectively use the pill without professional supervision. The FDA is expected to make its final decision this summer.

Picture : WTSP

If the agency follows the non-binding recommendation, Perrigo’s drug, Opill, would become the first contraceptive pill available without a prescription. The company stated that sales could commence late this year if approved. External experts mostly expressed confidence that women of all ages could use the drug appropriately without consulting a healthcare provider first.

“In the balance between benefit and risk, we’d have a hard time justifying not taking this action,” said Maria Coyle, an Ohio State University pharmacist who chaired the panel. “The drug is incredibly effective, and I think it will be effective in the over-the-counter realm just as it is in the prescription realm.”

Despite numerous criticisms from FDA scientists regarding how Perrigo studied the drug, including questions about whether study participants could understand and follow labeling instructions, the panel largely dismissed these concerns. Instead, they emphasized the advantages of providing more effective birth control, particularly to young people and lower-income groups, than what is currently available over the counter, such as condoms and gels.

Opill belongs to an older class of contraceptives containing only progestin, which generally has fewer side effects and health risks but may be less effective if not taken consistently at the same time daily. Although the FDA’s decision will not apply to other birth control pills, advocates hope that an approval might encourage other drugmakers to seek over-the-counter sales. In many parts of South America, Asia, and Africa, birth control pills are available without a prescription.

Approved in the U.S. five decades ago, Opill was shown to be over 90% effective in preventing pregnancy when taken daily. However, it remains uncertain how popular it might be if approved for over-the-counter use, as Opill has not been marketed in the U.S. since 2005.

Certain women, particularly those with breast cancer, should avoid taking Opill due to the risk of accelerating tumor growth. Women experiencing unusual vaginal bleeding are advised to consult a doctor before using it, as bleeding could signify a severe health issue. However, in reading comprehension studies conducted by Perrigo, 68% of women with unexplained bleeding incorrectly believed they could take the drug. A few women with breast cancer also indicated they could use Opill.

Panel members noted that nearly all women with a history of breast cancer would be under the care of a cancer specialist who would advise against taking hormonal drugs that could exacerbate their condition. “I would think any woman who had a breast cancer diagnosis in the past would be highly aware of that, so I don’t think that’s going to be a concern,” said Dr. Deborah Armstrong of Johns Hopkins University.

Perrigo claimed its 880-patient study demonstrated that women would consistently take the pill daily if made available over the counter. However, the FDA identified several issues with the study, including over 30% of participants who mistakenly reported taking more pills than they were given. FDA reviewers argued that this problem cast doubt on the company’s overall conclusions about the drug’s use and effectiveness.

FDA regulators also suggested that changes in U.S. demographics since the pill was first tested—including increased obesity and other chronic conditions—could diminish the drug’s effectiveness. Despite these concerns, Opill has garnered support from numerous reproductive rights and medical groups advocating for broader access to birth control.

“Opill over the counter would give us one more option for access and the more options that are available the better,” stated Clare Coleman, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. Coleman was among over 25 speakers who endorsed Perrigo’s application during a public comment session on Tuesday.

Catholic organizations, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, oppose the move, arguing that women should be evaluated by a doctor before receiving the drug. Perrigo has not publicly discussed pricing for the drug if approved. Non-prescription medications are typically less expensive, but they are generally not covered by insurance. Requiring insurers to cover over-the-counter birth control would necessitate a regulatory change by the federal government.

Happiness Is A Trap

Despite global issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, and mass shootings, people remain obsessed with happiness. Happiness has become a central focus in modern society, with terms like “Chief Happiness Officer,” the Happy Planet Index, and the World Happiness Report emphasizing its importance. However, despite this, people are often unhappy, with millions suffering from depression and anxiety worldwide.

Happiness has long been seen as a goal and a reward for hard work, even by ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates. However, the positive thinking movement and abundance theory have made it seem like happiness is the primary objective that people can achieve if they try hard enough. However, the phenomenon of affective forecasting shows that people often misjudge what will make them happy, leading to disappointment.

Picture : Freedom and Flourishing

Amidst this confusion, it’s worth asking whether happiness is the right goal to pursue. Instead, what if people pursued wonder, an emotion as universal as happiness and fear? Wonder can make people feel like a small part of a bigger system, which can make their problems seem smaller too. Negative emotions like sadness and fear shouldn’t be avoided, as they contribute to a more profound sense of well-being. Psychologist and philosopher Kirk Schneider calls happiness “potential fool’s gold” and warns against toxic positivity, which can be just as harmful as negative thinking.

Embracing negative emotions and emotional granularity, or emodiversity, can help people broaden their emotional vocabulary, which makes them more resilient. Co-activation, holding positive and negative emotions in one’s mind simultaneously, is also a powerful coping mechanism that increases people’s sense of meaning and gratitude in the face of adversity. Bittersweetness, sympathy, nostalgia, and wonder are mixed or “dually valenced” emotions that can have positive effects.

During times of stress, people often lean on simple emotions like happiness or sadness instead of embracing complex emotions like wonder. However, complex emotions make people more resilient and help them metabolize traumatic experiences. In one study, widows and widowers who recalled both positive and negative elements of their deceased spouses were better able to manage their grief. Author Susan Cain describes mixed emotions as “some of the most sublime aspects of being human,” connected to our appreciation of how fragile life can be.

In conclusion, it’s important to question whether happiness is the right goal to pursue. Wonder and mixed emotions like bittersweetness, nostalgia, and wonder can provide people with more profound well-being and resilience. By embracing complex emotions, people can better metabolize traumatic experiences and find meaning in them.

10 Key Traits Of Trustworthy People

When it comes to trusting someone, certain traits help in establishing a sense of reliance. From honesty to accountability, here is a list of qualities often found among trustworthy people:


Signs that someone may not be entirely honest are difficulty making eye contact, nervous body language, and changing stories.


Consistency and following through on commitments indicate reliability. From being punctual to meeting deadlines without fail, trusted people remain dependable when called upon.


Unexpected changes in behavior and decision-making can pose as a warning sign – if you’re looking for someone to trust it’s best to observe their consistency across various scenarios over time.


Taking initiative and dealing with problems before they arise sets responsible people apart from those who cannot be trusted, as they will always take ownership of their actions rather than shifting blame onto others.


Moral and ethical principles create an internal compass ensuring decisions will be made justly regardless of any external influences – making these people good role models for others to learn from.


By being open about thoughts, feelings, and intentions transparency creates a level of trustworthiness due to the knowledge that you’re never in the dark about how another person truly feels or what is really going on within them.


Whether we’re talking about friendship or romantic relationships, loyalty is essential for another person to be considered trustworthy – staying committed even when times get tough or shinier alternatives come along!


In line with taking responsibility for their actions, accountable people are willing to face consequences if things do not go according to plan while also learning from mistakes so they don’t repeat them in the future as well as happily taking glory when success is achieved.


Having empathy means being able to understand how one feels and put yourself in their shoes – leading towards more favorable outcomes when another can identify with your experience at a human level instead of acting solely based on logic.


When confiding in someone any violation of secrecy shows lack of trustworthiness which applies both personally or within the workplace context where sensitive information needs protection from gossip or loose lips!

Sense Of Smell To Boost Energy And Mood

One of the surprising ways to boost energy and happiness is through the sense of smell. Every time one indulges in a lovely scent, it ties them to the present, with a feeling of being transported into the past. Scent memories can be powerful, prompting a person to remember the most loving moments of their past. Enjoying lovely fragrances helps people recall happy times. “With a scent, you can’t bookmark it, rewind it, stockpile it, or save it for later. It ties you the present moment,” says the author in the book.

Picture : Organi Aromas

Utilize Your Sense of Touch to Alleviate Stress

Another sense that people can tap into to calm their anxious selves is the sense of touch. Holding something cuddly and warm can be comforting in anxiety-ridden situations, such as medical facilities. “My aunt works in palliative care, and they recently put in a big order of light, cuddly throws. It’s comforting for people to touch something soft and warm,” the author explains. Similarly, the author has her way of using touch to address anxiety-ridden situations involving public speaking. She says, “I hold a pen when I’m in a situation that makes me anxious, like being backstage before giving a big talk.”

Boost your focus and productivity by harnessing the power of sound

Those distracted and feeling unproductive can use their sense of sound to help focus. One way to address the challenge of controlling the surroundings is to take breaks from enclosed spaces in a quieter and more serene atmosphere. For instance, one could work in a coffee shop or similar bustling environment while secluding oneself to a private space at the library or other areas designated to promote quiet workspaces.

Boost your creativity with your sense of sight

On the other hand, those seeking to boost their creative inspirations can use their sense of sight. Rather than getting lost in thought during a walk, the author suggests looking for small details. For example, during the daily walks, find small details such as colors, tree types, or materials on buildings. Notably, the author advises looking closer each day for the more beauty and surprises that likely exist. The author gained insights into mismatched details on a street she had walked on hundreds of times before.

Want to feel more connected to people? Tap into your sense of taste

Lastly, for those seeking to connect better with others, she recommends using taste. Sharing unique foods and flavors brings people together, as it is an ancient human custom. In creating shared sensory experiences, people loosen up and feel closer. Thus, the author organized a “Taste Party” event where her guests examined various flavors and rated them. They explored the five basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, asked each other about childhood candy, and continually laughed throughout the evening. It was a tremendous experience, made their conversations feel unusually warm and intimate.

The five senses can help people to live healthier, happier, and more fulfilled lives. The author’s journey to find ways to enhance the quality of life led to her inspirational book “Life in Five Senses.” By tapping into the power of the senses, individuals can connect to the ordinary moments of life that they want to experience and remember.

(Gretchen Rubin is a happiness researcher and bestselling author of “The Happiness Project.” Her most recent book is “Life in Five Senses: How Exploring the Senses Got Me Out of My Head and Into the World.” She’s also host of the popular podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, and founder of the award-winning Happier app.)

The 10 Happiest Countries in the World in 2023

Individual happiness is subjective, but some factors contribute to a happy society no matter where you are, according to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. For the past 11 years, the nongovernmental organization has ranked more than 150 countries based on their citizens’ self-evaluations of their quality of life, including social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and lack of corruption.

Picture : CNN

And while the big winners continue to be the Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark, and Iceland, the report also points out that despite multiple world crises, including the war in Ukraine, global life satisfaction is “just as high as in the pre-pandemic years.”

“The overall goal is a happier society,” professor Richard Layard, co-director of the Wellbeing Programme at the London School of Economics and editor of the report, said in a press release. “But we only get there if people make each other happy (and not just themselves). It’s an inspiring goal for us as individuals. And it includes the happiness of future generations — and our own mental health.”

Now, check out the top 10 countries that seem to have figured out the formula for a happy society.

  1. Finland

This Nordic nation has been crowned the happiest in the world for a record sixth time. While its final score (7.804) is slightly lower than last year’s (7.821), Finland is still considerably ahead of other countries. And it’s not keeping its secret to happiness to itself. The country recently announced that it’s holding a “Masterclass of Happiness” to help people “find their ‘inner Finn’ and master the Finnish state of mind.” On the agenda? Professional coaches will help participants connect with nature among the peaceful scenery of Kuru Resort in the Lakeland region, known for its stunning landscapes and lakes.

  1. Denmark

With a total score of 7.586, Denmark maintains its status as a runner-up this year, too. The country where hygge is a way of life is also proof that high taxes don’t necessarily mean an unhappy nation. While Danish people pay the highest personal income tax in Europe (almost 56 percent), its citizens benefit from a comprehensive social welfare system, including free education and health care that seems to leave them pretty content.

  1. Iceland

Not only is the Land of Fire and Ice one of the happiest in the world, it’s also the safest. The country tops the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, having closed more than 90 percent of its gender gap. What else makes Icelandic people happy? A high income, a stable economy, a lack of corruption, generosity, free education, and a strong sense of community, to name a few. And we’re certain that having access to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world helps, too.

  1. Israel

The most significant change in this year’s ranking is Israel, which jumped five spots to number four — its highest since the report’s launch in 2012. Experts explain this with the country’s fast recovery post-COVID (the economy expanded by 6.5 percent and GDP per capita increased 4.4 percent). Additionally, Israelis have strong social connections and high life expectancy, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

  1. Netherlands

The Netherlands comes in fifth with a score of 7.403, mirroring last year’s ranking. Aside from its endless tulip fields (which makes us happy), the country’s economy was recently praised for its resilience and robust recovery compared to the rest of the EU in the latest report by the International Monetary Fund. Plus, affordable higher education, an excellent job market, a strong sense of community, and high civic engagement all reinstate a sense of happiness in Dutch society.

  1. Sweden

Sweden moved up one spot to sixth this year. Despite recording more deaths from COVID-19 than other Nordic nations, the country’s score was slightly higher than last year’s. Air and environmental pollution in Sweden are the second lowest after Finland, resulting in better life expectancy, according to data from OECD. A high employment rate and gender equality (more than 80 percent) also lead to better life satisfaction in Sweden.

  1. Norway

It’s easy to see why Norwegians consider themselves a happy nation. With tuition-free education, a high income rate, low levels of corruption, and a robust social support network, Norway has been a fixture on the top 10 happiest countries ranking, and it even topped it in 2017. With an abundance of natural attractions such as fjords, mountains, lush forests, lakes, and regular northern lights sightings, people don’t have to travel far to find a quiet spot to unwind and recharge.

  1. Switzerland

While Switzerland fell four spots since last year, the country is still home to some of the happiest (and healthiest) people in the world, thanks to low crime rates, a high GDP per capita, and beautiful mountain scenery that welcome year-round recreation. According to the World Happiness Report, Swiss people also relate positive life satisfaction with “prosociality,” like volunteering and charitable donations.

  1. Luxembourg

Luxembourg made its debut among the top 10 happiest countries last year under number six, but it fell to number nine in 2023 with a score of 7.228. While it’s one of the smallest and least populous nations in Europe (it’s slightly smaller than Rhode Island), Luxembourg is actually one of the wealthiest countries in the world when it comes to GDP per capita. Safety, high public trust, and diversity all contribute to a greater sense of happiness in locals here (half of which have a foreign nationality).

  1. New Zealand

Similar to last year, New Zealand occupies the tenth spot on the list of world’s happiest countries. After the nation opened post-COVID in April 2022, it has seen a steady stream of visitors helping it recover and, in some industries, even beat pre-pandemic levels.

But aside from a high GDP per capita, New Zealand residents — even those who live in cities — are lucky to have access to incredible beaches, lakes, and vineyards. The country also outperforms other OECD places in many well-being factors, including education, health, and civic engagement.  (Courtesy:

People With High Emotional Intelligence Use 5 Simple Words To Become Exceptionally Persuasive

I think it’s worth the effort of a little bit of simple memorization.

Here’s a powerful strength I developed by solving a personal weakness.

First, the weakness: I can be a little impatient, maybe even a little bit lazy. I’ll follow through on my word, but sometimes my more complicated plans wind up abandoned.

But the powerful strength? It’s that I’ve developed radar for simple things you can do to improve your life.

Truly, the simpler the better, because I’ve learned that otherwise I’m not likely to do them.

Picture : Science of People

I think that’s part of why I’ve been so drawn to the concept of emotional intelligence, and especially to the idea that there are very simple things you can change about your behavior — as simple as memorizing a few basic words and concepts — to leverage emotions and increase the odds that you’ll achieve your goals.

For example, people with high emotional intelligence keep five simple words in mind when they hope to persuade someone else of something, because remembering them guides their verbal behavior.

It will all make more sense if we simply list the words and explain what they’re meant to symbolize, one by one.

They’re alliterative — starting with p, just like persuasion: prefacing, prioritizing, pausing, politeness, and phrasing. Here’s why they matter:

  1. Prefacing

Emotionally intelligent people become more persuasive by using a smart preface to whatever else they have to say.

If you want to persuade someone of anything — that they should buy your product, or go out with you on a date, or join your side of the jury and vote not guilty — you’re often best off starting out by being up front about what you’re going to say next.

Sometimes, you can be very direct: “I need you to show more interest at work, or I’m afraid you’ll risk losing your job. Here’s why … ”

But sometimes, you want to be more subtle:

“I have an idea I’d like to ask you to consider.”

“I noticed something about your performance today. Do you mind if I offer some advice?”

“I want to tell you a story; I hope you’re going to find it interesting — maybe even instructive.”

I’m sure you can appreciate the differences. The point is that you signal to the other person in a conversation that you’d like them to pay attention to what comes next, but you also work to signal that what you have to say is both useful and nonthreatening.

  1. Prioritizing

Emotionally intelligent people become more persuasive by organizing their arguments so that their most important points don’t get lost.

There’s an old saying that if you don’t know where you’re going, any route will take you there. People with high emotional intelligence basically try to do the opposite of that.

In short (and, “short” is usually a good thing in this context), if you can’t quickly explain the pillars of whatever position you want to advocate, you probably haven’t thought it through well enough. And the easiest and most tried and true method to prioritize is probably to use the Rule of 3.

We’re hardwired to look at things in groups of three: everything from the Christian Trinity, to children’s stories like the “Three Little Pigs,” to the three bullet-pointed quotes in the previous section of this article.

Sometimes you’ll want to announce the road map of your argument to the person you’re talking to; sometimes you won’t. But you’ll always want to have it mapped out in your head, so that you satisfy the other person’s hardwired emotional desire for conversational geometry.

  1. Pausing

Emotionally intelligent people become more persuasive by using pauses in conversation as a tool to trigger desired responses.

A decade ago, a Dutch psychologist named Namkje Koudenburg of the University of Groningen wrote about an experiment she’d done in which she calculated what happens when people pause for about four seconds in their conversations.

In short, that’s the point at which people start to feel emotional responses including, sometimes, fear and anxiety. So people with high emotional intelligence learn to leverage that knowledge.

Want to offer relief and comfort? Pause two seconds or less in your discussion.

Want to raise the possibility that the other person will feel more compelled to respond or engage to what you have to say — maybe sometimes even concede? Have the discipline to wait as many as four full seconds after making a point.

  1. Politeness

Emotionally intelligent people default toward politeness, and leverage it to avoid creating resistance where it doesn’t need to exist.

There’s a bagel shop within walking distance of my house. The bagels are good, the price isn’t too high, and my daughter used to like to go there with me when she was little. But just one time, the owner of the place was rude to me.

A few weeks later, I realized that while I hadn’t made a conscious decision to avoid the place, I simply hadn’t gone back. None of the practical reasons why it was a good place to buy bagels mattered anymore; the fact that I hadn’t been treated politely trumped everything.

Another example: A few years back, researchers published a study in MIS Quarterly showing that even when the substance of answers was identical, people responded better to answers that were also polite.

The point is that we all have these emotional reactions; emotionally intelligent people understand that you should only be impolite when you have a good, strategic reason for doing so. But the default is politeness.

  1. Phrasing

Emotionally intelligent people tend toward specific phrases that they’ve thought through so that they don’t accidentally trigger unintended emotions.

Truly, this is the simplest habit — symbolized by a single word. Think through the phrases you plan to use at different points in conversation ahead of time.

For example, imagine a situation in which you think someone else is just flat-out mistaken and stubborn. You plan that if this happens, you’ll want to respond with one of the following three phrases, depending on the reaction you hope to prompt:

“You’re flat out wrong.”

“I can’t understand how you could possibly think that.”

“Can you help me think this through and understand your position better?”

I can (and have) written entire articles about specific phrases and how they can spur positive or negative reactions. But before we move on, let’s talk about one other specific type of phrase.

These are the ones to have thought through for situations in which you realize that no matter how many tricks of emotional intelligence you try, you’re unlikely to persuade the other side. I’m thinking of responsive phrases like:

“Lots to think about here. Let’s pick it up at the next meeting.”

“Please, don’t make a decision now. Let me get the answers to the questions you posed.”

“It seems like we have a few issues to resolve. Why don’t I write up a draft on what we’ve agreed on, and we can go from there?”

Sometimes — not always, but sometimes — if you can’t seem to win, you might be better off making sure that the game hasn’t actually ended.

Look, as I write in my free e-book 9 Smart Habits of People With Very High Emotional Intelligence, increasing your emotional intelligence is a lot easier when you focus on things that are simple. Bonus points if helps you overcome a personal weakness like my impatience.

Money Can Buy Happiness, Scientists Say

People get happy as they earn more, according to a new study which overturns the dominant thinking that money cannot buy happiness.

The study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper, shows that, on average, larger incomes are associated with ever-increasing levels of happiness.

Two prominent researchers, Daniel Kahneman from Princeton University and Matthew Killingsworth from the University of Pennsylvania, surveyed 33,391 adults aged between 18 and 65 who live in the US, are employed and report a household income of at least $10,000 a year.

For the least happy group, happiness rose with income until $100,000, then showed no further increase as income grew. For those in the middle range of emotional well-being, happiness increases linearly with income, and for the happiest group the association actually accelerates above $100,000.

“In the simplest terms, this suggests that for most people larger incomes are associated with greater happiness,” said lead author Killingsworth.

“The exception is people who are financially well-off but unhappy. For instance, if you’re rich and miserable, more money won’t help. For everyone else, more money was associated with higher happiness to somewhat varying degrees,” he added.

The researchers said that the study shows both a happy majority and an unhappy minority exist.

For the former, happiness keeps rising as more money comes in; the latter’s happiness improves as income rises but only up to a certain income threshold, after which it progresses no further.

These findings also have real-world implications, according to Killingsworth.

For one, they could inform thinking about tax rates or how to compensate employees. And, of course, they matter to individuals as they navigate career choices or weigh a larger income against other priorities in life, Killingsworth said.

However, he adds that for emotional well-being money isn’t all. “Money is just one of the many determinants of happiness,” he says. “Money is not the secret to happiness, but it can probably help a bit.”  (IANS)

Relationship Experts Share The Non-Physical Traits Men Consider Ideal In A Partner

The physical traits of women that attract men are no mystery.

Research has shown that just as broad shoulders and a narrow waist attract most women to men, a hip-to-waist ratio that accentuates the “right” curves on a woman is irresistible to most men. Oh, and also breasts, lips, eyes, butt, legs, hair, complexion … the list of physically alluring features is vast. Every man has his own preferences, just as every woman has hers.

But what if we look past the surface? Looks might catch someone’s eye initially, but what keeps them around past that first blush of physical attraction?

What personality traits does a man look for in a woman who could become a potential romantic partner?

We asked a panel of YourTango Experts who have made a study of relationships in their careers to share the traits that men seek in a woman to create a deep, lasting connection.

Six relationship experts share the non-physical traits that men are attracted to in a woman:

  1. Encouraging and supportive

Encouragement. Men want not just approval, but someone who will have their back and make them feel that setbacks are not failures but a search for a new way forward. You can be cheerful and say, “You are smart. You will figure it out.”

– Jeff Saperstein, career coach

  1. Emotional intelligence and a sense of humor

Outside of physical traits and attractiveness, the top traits high-value men look for are the following based on actual input from my male clients: light-heartedness, curiosity, a focus on personal growth, and possessed of a high EQ (emotional intelligence).

A woman who can emotionally connect with a man, and understands and appreciates his feelings, ambitions, and insecurities is a top trait men look for. High emotional intelligence plays a big role in any relationship. It speaks volumes when a woman can stay aware of her emotions and the emotions of others, allowing for meaningful communication and connection without blow-ups and emotional outbursts.

– Carmelia Ray, celebrity matchmaker and online dating coach

  1. Warmth and confidence

Most men look for a woman who is comfortable with herself since this will likely help them feel comfortable in her presence. They like a woman who is warm, kind, and friendly with an upbeat personality because that makes them feel good. If he feels good when he’s with you, that is a great start!

– Ronnie Ann Ryan, dating and intuitive coach

  1. Accepting and non-judgmental

We are all aware that men are visually stimulated. But when it comes to finding a partner to settle down with, many men are looking for someone that they can be themselves around. I’m not talking about gross bodily functions, I mean they want to be free to express their real desires, hopes, and fears.

Someone that will allow them to express themselves without judgment or shame. Men crave respect and they want to know that their partner won’t lose respect for them when they see them at their most vulnerable.

– Taylor Kovar, CFP, CEO at the Money Couple

  1. Congeniality and a well-rounded life

As a matchmaker, the most common non-physical traits that my male clients seek in a partner are: easy to be with, happy with her life, and having interests that excite her.

  1. Honesty and level-headedness

A partner must not make up stories and live in a fantasy world but must live in reality — where actions never lie.

– Jack Kinney, founder and career coach

The No. 1 ‘Desirable Skill’ That Very Few People Have—Especially Men

When young people ask me for career advice, I always tell them: “Don’t just focus on your own accomplishments. Be a collaborator.”

Through a decade of teaching and research at Harvard’s business and law schools, I discovered an important and often overlooked insight: People who figured out how to collaborate across teams gained a major competitive edge over those who did not.

The advantages of collaboration skills

When it comes to hiring, smart collaborators are highly desirable candidates. They deliver higher quality results, get promoted faster, are more noticed by senior management, and have more satisfied clients.

But here’s what shocked me the most: Collaboration skills are surprisingly rare, especially among men.

A 2021 McKinsey study found that women leaders, compared with men at their same level, were about twice as likely to spend substantial time on collaborative efforts that fell outside their formal job.

How to be an exceptional collaborator

Being a collaborator isn’t easy. But the primary goal is simple: bringing people together to solve problems and learn something new.

Here’s how to get better at it:

  1. Be an inclusive leader.

Whether or not you’re the project leader, take steps to draw diverse people together.

The mindset I always have is: “That person thinks differently from me. They know something different that I don’t, and I can learn a lot from them.”

These people shouldn’t just have different knowledge domains. They should also represent different professional backgrounds, ages and life experiences.

  1. Show appreciation and acknowledgement.

A groundbreaking study by Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg found that workers, especially men, often take their professional networks for granted.

During job interviews, because they failed to appreciate how much support they received from their colleagues, they believed they were more independent and “portable” than they actually were.

This “me-first” mentality is often a dealbreaker — and turnoff — for hiring managers. Even Claire Hughes Johnson, a former Google VP of 10 years, says she looks for self-awareness and collaboration skills “before anything else.”

  1. Ask for help.

If you’re in charge of presenting a sales report every week, but do it solely on your own, that could suggest you think your opinion is the most valuable.

But if you reach out to experts across different departments for insights, your data points will likely be more compelling.

Don’t forget to mention the names of those who contributed, as well as their expertise. This will give your report more credibility.

  1. Crowdsource.

Give people a way to learn without having to be part of every team. My research found that a desire to learn is a frequent driver of voluntary commitment.

Communities created through Slack and similar messaging tools are a great way to spur virtual forms of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and knowledge distribution.

  1. Share data streams.

Scorecards and dashboards are powerful tools for several reasons:

They allow you to measure progress against the goals you’ve set.

When shared publicly, they create a sense of peer pressure, because they allow the outcomes of leaders to be compared to those generated by their peers.

They make critical information accessible, and thereby make the process of inclusion more transparent.

Consider which data should be shared, and when, and how. The point is not to hide data, but rather to make it accessible and useful to specific audiences. A good rule of thumb: err on the side of oversharing.

(Heidi K. Gardner, PhD, is a Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession and Program Chair of the Sector Leadership Master Class. Previously, she was a professor at Harvard Business School. She is also the coauthor of the bestselling book “Smarter Collaboration.” Heidi earned master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and a second PhD from London Business School. Follow her on Twitter.)

Is Marriage Dying or Just Changing?

There has been a general decline in marriage over recent decades. But behind that general decline lies a more interesting story. Marriage is diversifying, with different people tying the knot for very different reasons. But marriage is also dividing, especially along class lines.

To understand these marriage patterns, it is important we try to understand why people get married in the first place. There are perhaps five main reasons to marry: God, money, love, pregnancy, or status:

For some people marriage is simply a religious matter, a covenantal relationship. Marriage is a sacrament, especially in the Christian tradition.

For many more people there’s still an economic element to getting married. (On that note, let me give an early recommendation of Melissa Kearney’s forthcoming book, The Two-Parent Privilege: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind.)

There is obviously also companionship and love: you fall in love and want to spend the rest of your life with someone. So, for many there’s primarily a romantic element to marriage.

Another reason for getting married, much less common today than in the past, is because of an unintended pregnancy, the so-called, “shotgun wedding.” There was a sense that if you were bringing a new life into the world, then that should be done within marriage, and that remains true to some extent today.

Marriage is also a signal of status (what Andrew Cherlin calls the “trophy marriage”), and this may be more common today than in the past—being married is a way of signaling success and status within a society.

So there are now a range of reasons, including religion, romance, economics, and status, that might lead people to the marital state. But it is clear that the “standard” model of marriage as breadwinner and childrearer is passing away.

For women, the traditional model of marriage was an economic necessity particularly if she was planning to have children—to be with a man who would be the provider. Obviously, that has changed today. Women account for 40% of sole or primary breadwinners in U.S. households.

For men, marriage was a way to attach himself to children. If he was going to have children, he had to do that with a woman who would raise those children, and so he had to provide for them. So, there was a complementarity inherent in the traditional view of marriage, but which, of course, was founded on a very deep economic inequality between men and women.

That inequality was a driving force of the women’s movement, especially for people like Gloria Steinem, who said the point is to make marriage into a choice rather than a necessity, and to actually free women from the economic bondage of marriage. “Being able to support oneself allows one to choose a marriage out of love and not just economic dependence,” Steinem said in 2004. That inequality and dependence has been successfully shattered by the women’s movement.

Today, the very institution of marriage, which is central to human societies, has been fundamentally transformed. It’s an institution that is now entered into on the basis of egalitarian principles. Women have huge exit power—they are twice as likely as men to file for divorce. As a result, women are no longer stuck in bad marriages, which is a huge achievement for humanity.

But for men, of course, the old role of providing while their wives raise the children has largely gone out of the window, too. Men’s role in marriage and what it means for a man to be “marriageable,” to use a slightly ugly term from social science, is very different now from in the past. When it comes to marriage, women are increasingly looking for something more than just a paycheck.

Today, the very institution of marriage, which is central to human societies, has been fundamentally transformed. It’s an institution that is now entered into on the basis of egalitarian principles.

It’s a bit like the kaleidoscope has been shaken, and the patterns haven’t quite settled yet. You see lesbian and gay couples being able to opt into marriage. Within a couple of years of the Supreme Court decision, we saw almost 3 out of 5 lesbian and gay couples choosing to get married. You also see a big class gap opening up: fewer working-class and lower-income Americans are opting into the institution. What we now have is what my colleague Isabel Sawhill describes as “a new fault line in the American class structure.” No one expected that Americans with the most choice and the most economic power—and especially American women with the most choice and economic power—would be the ones who were continuing to get married and stay married.

There’s been a very slight decline in marriage for those with four-year college degrees, but a really big decline for those with less education. The typical college-educated American woman is almost as likely to get married as her mother was, and if anything, a little bit more likely to stay married.

One of the other big changes has been a significant rise in the age at first marriage, up to around 30. I think about my parents who married at 21, having met at 17, which was pretty common back then. Actually, as late as 1970, most women who went to college in the U.S., which was a minority of course, were married within a year of graduating. That’s a world that’s very difficult to fathom now, as both men and women now enter the labor market, become economically successful, and often establish themselves economically before getting married. Today, you do all that first, then you marry. Marriage has become more like a capstone, to use another of Andrew Cherlin’s descriptions, where marriage is a signal of everything that has led up to the ceremony, rather than the beginning of a journey.

We can no longer tell a single story about marriage in America in the way we could 40 years ago. We need to tell different stories based on class and race and geography. We’ve seen a real divide opening up in marriage in the United States.

Americans, today, are much less likely to see marriage as something that you need to do to be a complete person or have a good life. In fact, fewer than 1 in 5 Americans now believe that it’s essential to be married to have a fulfilling life. That’s a huge cultural change.

The model of marriage that was founded on economic dependency for women is completely obsolete. This is progress. But while we have created models of the family that are more equal and fair, they are often not such stable unions. The challenge we now face is to find ways to create more stability in our family life, without sacrificing the goal of equality. What we should be asking is how do we have strong relationships within which people can raise kids well? Marriage can still play a role here, of course. But there are alternative models, too. With 40% of children being born to unmarried parents, and most of those born to mothers without a college degree, there will need to be.

Because what matters above all is parenting, the way we raise our kids. It is possible to imagine a renewed future for marriage based around egalitarianism between men and women, but a shared commitment to kids. I think that’s for us to create. (That’s an argument I made in my 2014 Atlantic essay, “How to Save Marriage in America.”)

If marriage is to survive, it will be in this new model founded on shared parenting, not as a restoration of the old one based on economic inequality.

(Richard V. Reeves is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do about It (Brookings Institution Press, 2022. Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Publication: Courtesy: Brookings Institute)

An 85-Year Harvard Study On Happiness Found The No. 1 Retirement Challenge That ‘No One Talks About’

In 1938, Harvard researchers embarked on a study that continues to this day to find out: What makes us happy in life?

The researchers gathered health records from 724 people from all over the world, asking detailed questions about their lives at two-year intervals.

As participants entered mid- and late-life, the Harvard Study often asked about retirement. Based on their responses, the No. 1 challenge people faced in retirement was not being able to replace the social connections that had sustained them for so long at work.

Retirees don’t miss working, they miss the people

When it comes to retirement, we often stress about things like financial concerns, health problems and caregiving.

But people who fare the best in retirement find ways to cultivate connections. And yet, almost no one talks about the importance of developing new sources of meaning and purpose.

One participant, when asked what he missed about being a doctor for nearly 50 years, answered: “Absolutely nothing about the work itself. I miss the people and the friendships.”

Leo DeMarco, another participant, had a similar feeling: After he retired as a high school teacher, he found it hard to stay in touch with his colleagues.

“I get spiritual sustenance from talking shop. It’s wonderful to help someone acquire skills,” he said. “Teaching young people was what started my whole process of exploring.”

Taking on hobbies might not be enough

For many of us, work is where we feel that we matter most — to our workmates, customers, communities, and even to our families — because we are providing for them.

Henry Keane was abruptly forced into retirement by changes at his factory. Suddenly he had an abundance of time and energy.

He started volunteering at the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He put time into his hobbies — refinishing furniture and cross-country skiing. But something was still missing.

“I need to work!” Keane told the researchers at age 65. “Nothing too substantial, but I’m learning that I just love being around people.”

To retire happy, invest in your relationships now

Keane’s realization teaches us an important lesson not only about retirement, but about work itself: We are often shrouded in financial concerns and the pressure of deadlines, so we don’t notice how significant our work relationships are until they’re gone.

To create more meaningful connections, ask yourself:

Who are the people I most enjoy working with, and what makes them valuable to me? Am I appreciating them?

What kinds of connections am I missing that I want more of? How can I make them happen?

Is there someone I’d like to know better? How can I reach out to them?

If I’m having conflict with a coworker, what can I do to alleviate it?

Who is different from me in some way (thinks differently, comes from a different background, has a different expertise)? What can I learn from them?

At the end of the day, notice how your experiences might affect your sense of meaning and purpose. It could be that this influence is, on balance, a good one. But if not, are there any small changes you can make?

“When I look back,” Ellen Freund, a former university administrator, told the study in 2006, “I wish I paid more attention to the people and less to the problems. I loved my job. But I think I was a difficult and impatient boss. I guess, now that you mention it, I wish I got to know everyone a little better.”

Every workday is an important part of our personal experience, and the more we enrich it with relationships, the more we benefit. Work, too, is life.

Robert Waldinger, MD, is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, and director of Psychodynamic Therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is a practicing psychiatrist and also a Zen master and author of “The Good Life.” Follow Robert on Twitter @robertwaldinger.

Marc Shulz, PhD, is the associate director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, and a practicing therapist with postdoctoral training in health and clinical psychology at Harvard Medical School. He is also the author of “The Good Life.”

Best Way To Beat Burn Out

With burnout rates at historic highs, businesses are scrambling to find practical ways to retain staff — or at least so they should be.  As burnout continues to burn businesses, the problem is that the strategies that work best often seem backward. Take for example the strangest Great Resignation strategy, which is also the most effective, or Google’s wildly simple trick to increase productivity, which also decreases burnout.

What we see is that when it comes to keeping staff, oftentimes the most evident methods prove counterproductive. Meanwhile, the seemingly counterintuitive methods can work wonders.

Finding a viable solution is crucial. And not just for businesses looking to stave off the effects of burnout — such as decreased productivity, increased employee turnover, and damage to the overall ethos of a workplace — but for those who feel its sting first-hand along with its laundry list of symptoms, from chronic fatigue to brain fog, lack of focus, and even trouble sleeping.

The standard solution is something we can all get behind — and use more of: vacation time.

After all, time off is a much-welcomed reprieve from work, the stress at the office, and the burden of persistent pressure and endless responsibilities. With vacation time to burn and burnout to battle, many envision a blissful vacation beachside with zero expectations, time at home with nowhere to be, or an awe-inspiring adventure that will magically distract you from any lurking stresses long enough to magically dissipate them into thin air.

While the hope is that a vacation will recharge our proverbial batteries, the reality is that we often come back with even less patience for the things that we have little patience for. Rather than returning refreshed, we return worn out, disconnected, and even more disinterested.

Following a week of doing whatever it is we want to do is a week — and years — of the work that requires us to do what we have to do. In that stark contrast, feelings of discontent may magnify.

According to research recently published by the Harvard Business Review, vacations are not the most effective way to reduce burnout. But that doesn’t mean less time off is the answer.

In fact, more time off is.

What the Harvard researchers found is that employees need an extended period of time off in order to recharge and return to work with a rejuvenated perspective and renewed motivation.

In other words, the solution to burnout is a sabbatical. But the traditional sabbatical as we know it is not the sole antidote for a modern workplace.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

It’s not a common application of the classic quote, and yet when it comes to work, it works.

Especially in the case of a sabbatical. Because even though an extended amount of time off sounds like a dream, the reality is that after a point it gets old.

As humans, we need time for the excitement of our time off to wear off. For our to-do list to diminish. And for boredom to creep in.

For example, if you played your favorite song on repeat, you would eventually want to hear something else. As fun as it would be to eat at your favorite restaurant every day, there would only be so many days until you got tired of it and began to desire something else.

There are only so many movies and shows we want to watch on Netflix. Only so much time our family and friends have to spend with us. Only so much we can do to entertain ourselves during the day before we actually begin to miss work.

That’s right, I said it. After enough time, you might actually miss work, the intrinsically rewarding feeling of being productive, the chase, the colleagues, the clients or customers, and in the case of an unpaid sabbatical, the money.

Burnout recovery doesn’t have to burn business

Vacation time can be enough of a burden on businesses that struggle to carry on in the absence of staff. So the idea of an extended leave can simply seem out of the question. However, as Harvard researchers suggest, sabbatical leave can come in many forms. And it surely doesn’t have to burn your business to help your employees recover from burnout.

For example, while there are both paid and unpaid sabbaticals, there are also working sabbaticals where employees have the opportunity to work remotely — and independently — from anywhere in the world, whether that be their living room or a land far away.

The difference with a working sabbatical is that while remote work has become increasingly commonplace, that doesn’t always mean that staff have the freedom to work from other time zones, or even just work on a schedule that works best for them.

By giving employees the time and space to live more freely and enjoy their lives more fully, employees are not only more satisfied with their role but more grateful for it.

Sabbaticals do more than recharge staff — they elicit gratitude

It’s within this time away that we begin to regain (or simply gain) an appreciation for the jobs we have, the people we work with, and what our role affords us — mentally or financially.

In other words, what a sabbatical affords us is the ability to appreciate what we have and what our positions afford us in life.

It gives us perspective, and with that, it helps us reconnect to our why. The reality is that most aren’t necessarily in love with the work that they do. But when they can see that it gives them the things they want in life — whether that’s the money to live in a home they love, the flexibility to be a present parent, or the space to enjoy life outside of work — they realize why they do what they do because they see what they do it for.

Employers have a tendency to fear that employees won’t return after a sabbatical. But when employees are given the opportunity to take an extended leave, research shows that they tend to stay. Because most would hold onto an employer that provides them with the freedom to go — and come back.

Connecticut Is 3rd Happiest State In U.S

Conn. (WTNH) — When choosing where you should live, happiness should certainly play a role. So, where do people find themselves most happy?

All 50 states were analyzed on a Happiness Index Score in a new study, conducted by the CBD experts at Joy Organics.

Each state was scored based on ten factors relating to well-being and happiness: suicide rates, average hourly wage, severity of depression and anxiety, unemployment rates, number of primary care and mental health providers, adverse childhood experiences, neighborhood amenities, and percentage of sleep-deprived residents.

Connecticut took the No. 3 spot with a happiness score of 83.9%. It had the third lowest mean severity score for anxiety across the country, and just 12% of its residents reported having an adverse childhood experience like witnessing domestic violence or death of a parent.

Massachusetts was ranked as the happiest state in the U.S., scoring 94.5 out of 100 with the highest number of mental health providers, the highest number of primary care providers, and the highest average hourly wage of any state at $28.14. Additionally, Massachusetts had the third lowest suicide rate.

New Jersey ranked well with the lowest suicide rate of any state, while Nebraska had the lowest levels of anxiety and depression. A spokesperson for Joy Organics noted that there are “lots of ideas as to what constitutes happiness for different people.”

“Mental wellbeing, support and suicide rates were weighted more heavily in the ranking, accounting for a larger proportion of each state’s overall score, as these were deemed to be the most important factors,” the spokesperson said. “Of course, there is much more that determines happiness than these specific factors alone, but they can help to build a picture of each state’s overall wellbeing levels.”

Additionally, mental health concerns are also underreported in more states than others due to a level of stigma, the spokesperson said, noting that some states may appear happier than they actually are.

Good Night’s Sleep Will Add Years To Your Life, Study Finds

Not getting enougha sleep? It could be shortening your life, a new study suggests. According to research from the American College of Cardiology released Thursday, getting the right amount of good sleep each night can play a role in heart and overall health, which could in turn add years to your life. The data also suggests that about 8% of deaths could be attributed to poor sleep patterns.

Dr. Frank Qian, co-author of the study and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School, told CBS News that sleep impacts many aspects of health, from hormones and metabolism to mental health and memory. From his and his team’s analysis, he was most surprised with the “potential life expectancy gain… with just fairly simple sleep quality improvements.”

The qualities they identified include:

  • Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night
  • Having trouble falling asleep no more than twice a week
  • Having trouble staying asleep no more than twice a week
  • Not using sleep medications
  • Waking up feeling rested at least five days a week

While this may resemble a typical nightly routine for some, for others, especially those who rely on medication for a solid night of sleep, meeting the goals on this list could pose a challenge. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis.

The study found that for those who reported meeting all five of the sleep measures listed, life expectancy was 4.7 years greater for men and 2.4 years greater for women, compared to people who met only one or none of the criteria on the list.

For those getting enough hours of sleep but still not feeling rested, Qian says it could indicate a number of things, including going to sleep distracted, sleeping in a less-than-optimal environment or having untreated sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes someone to intermittently stop breathing while asleep.

But he admits no one’s sleep is perfect, and that’s OK — to an extent.

“Certainly all of us… have those nights where we might be staying up late doing something or stressed out about the next day,” Qian explains. “If that’s a fairly limited number of days a week where that’s happening, it seems like that’s OK, but if it’s occurring more frequently then that’s where we run into problems.”

The research was an observational study analyzing data from 172,321 people who participated in the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018, which is fielded each year by the CDC and the National Center for Health Statistics.

More research is needed to understand the differing results between the sexes as well as what types of sleep aids or medicines are a factor and their impact.

Human brain looks years ‘older’ after just one night without sleep

Going just one night without sleep may make the brain look older, as if it had suddenly aged one to two years overnight, a new study suggests. However, these changes seem to disappear after a good night’s rest.

In the study, researchers used machine learning to generate “brain age” estimates from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of sleep-deprived people’s brains, which they compared to MRIs of those same people’s brains after a full night’s sleep. The results, published Feb. 20 in the Journal of Neuroscience (opens in new tab), suggest that one night of complete sleep deprivation produces changes in the brain similar to those seen after one or two years of aging.

Brain age is “a very interesting measure in terms of looking at how that changes from the sleep loss,” said Judith Carroll (opens in new tab), an associate professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles who was not involved in the study.

The researchers pulled from five existing data sets, which included data from 134 participants in four groups: total sleep deprivation (no sleep for one night), partial sleep deprivation (three hours time in bed for one night), chronic sleep deprivation (five hours in bed each night for five nights) and a control group (eight hours in bed each night). Each group had at least one night of baseline sleep, where they spent eight hours in bed, before sleep deprivation; most groups also had a full night of recovery sleep afterwards.

Everyone had an MRI taken after each night, allowing researchers to compare how their brains looked before and after sleep deprivation, and after a full night’s rest.

The researchers determined the apparent ages of the participants’ brains using a machine-learning algorithm called brainageR, which was trained on data from more than 3,000 people. The publicly available algorithm predicts a person’s chronological age from their brain MRIs based on how healthy brains typically look at given ages, in terms of their tissue and fluid volume. In past tests, researchers found that brainageR could accurately predict age within about four years.

In their new study, the researchers found that, for the group that got no sleep for one night, brainageR estimated that they were one to two years older, on average, than they were predicted to be at baseline. These differences vanished after a night of recovery sleep.

The partial and chronic sleep deprivation groups didn’t have significant differences in their age predictions, compared to control.

These results jibe with earlier research on the effect of sleep deprivation on the brain. There’s evidence that several types of changes take place in the brains of sleep-deprived people, including changes in fluid distribution and gray matter volume.

This “widespread change in brain morphology … would be captured with this method of brain age as well,” study senior author Dr. David Elmenhorst (opens in new tab), a professor in the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at the research institution Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany, told Live Science. Crucially, he framed the results not as actual aging but rather as changes that the machine-learning algorithm interpreted as aging.

Because the study found this effect only in the total sleep deprivation group, it’s hard to say what the results might mean for the effects of sleep deprivation in real life, Carroll said. “I’m not sure that we can say anything about long-term effects of chronic sleep loss, because even the chronic condition’s only five days,” she said.

The study was also relatively small. Elmenhorst said a larger sample size might highlight smaller effects in the other groups, like a brain age increase of a few months. Future research could also incorporate people who experience chronic sleep deprivation, such as people who do shift work, Carroll said.

“A lot of individuals really struggle to sleep [during the day] when they’re awake all night,” she said. “Something that looks more closely at this in those groups, I think could be really valuable and more informative.”

Study Finds Where Americans Are Happiest

Research shows that in some cases, money does lead to happiness. In fact, a 2021 University of Pennsylvania study found a correlation between happiness and income growth, even past an annual income of $80,000. This is in contrast to previous research that found happiness stagnated after an individual earned $75,000. However, not all places can offer the same level of happiness, as some cities offer more economic opportunities and a better quality of life than others.

To uncover the happiest places in America, we analyzed the 200 largest cities, 164 of which had available data. We looked at 13 different metrics across three categories: personal finance, well-being and quality of life. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, read the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

California cities dominate the top 10. While cities like Sunnyvale and Fremont offer the No. 1 and No. 3 highest earnings for individuals, these Western cities score highest in the quality of life category. Specifically, top 10 California cities had lower percentages of people living in poverty, higher marriage rates and lower violent crime rates.

Birmingham is the least happy city. This Alabama city ranks in the bottom five across metrics such as personal bankruptcy filings per capita, life expectancy and the percentage of residents living in poverty. Newark, New Jersey and Memphis, Tennessee follow as the second- and third-least happy cities.

Top 10 cities have high marriage rates. Residents who’ve said “I do” make up the majority of the population in all but one city: Arlington, Virginia, where the marriage rate is 44.0%. Frisco, Texas, which ranks No. 5 overall, has the highest marriage rate study-wide (62.6%).

  1. Sunnyvale, CA

Well-being and quality of life is where Sunnyvale, California ranks best. The city has the highest percentage of individuals earning $100,000 or more (62.5%), the third-lowest percentage of adults living below the poverty-level (roughly 5%) and the fifth-highest marriage rate (56.8%). Violent crime in the area is also low (No. 9) with roughly 149 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.

  1. Arlington, VA

While Arlington, Virginia ranks in the top seven across all three categories measured (personal finances, well-being and quality of life), the city ranks highest in the former. Specifically, roughly 48% of Arlington’s residents earn $100,000 or more (No. 5). Additionally, living costs make up less than 35% of the median household income (No. 6). The county in which Arlington is located also has the lowest amount of personal bankruptcy filings.

  1. Bellevue, WA

Bellevue, Washington scores highest in the quality of life category but also does well for resident personal finances. Specifically, roughly 61% of Bellevue’s residents earn $100,000 or more (No. 2) and less than 8% of the population lives below the poverty line (No. 8). Additionally, cost of living as a percent of income is the lowest across the study (28.69%).

  1. Fremont, CA

Fremont, California ranks No. 3 for both its high percentage of individuals earning $100,000 or more (55.4%) and its low living costs relative to income (32.17%). The city also ranks No. 2 for both the percentage of adults who live below the poverty-level (4.9%) and its marriage rate (61.6%).

  1. Frisco, TX

Frisco, Texas takes both the No. 1 spots for the marriage rate (62.6%) and the percentage of residents living below the poverty-level (2.5%). Additionally, the city ranks No. 2 for its typical living costs compared to the median household income (29.55%) and its violent crime rate (roughly 86 crimes per 100,000 residents).

  1. Plano, TX

Plano, Texas ranks the top 20 across six metrics, most notably: the city has the fourth-highest marriage rate (56.9%) and the 10th-lowest violent crime rate (roughly 155 for every 100,000 residents). Just over a third of the Plano population earns $100,000 or more and typical cost of living expenses make up 40.43% of the median household income in the city.

  1. Roseville, CA

Living costs in Roseville, California are the fifth-lowest across the study making up about a third of the median household income annually. Just over 38% of the city’s population earn $100,000 or more (13th-highest) and less than 6% live below the poverty-level (fourth-lowest). The county in which Roseville is located also has the 15th-lowest number of personal bankruptcy filings study-wide.

  1. San Jose, CA

Roughly 43% of San Jose, California residents earn $100,000 or more (10th-highest) and less than 7.4% live in poverty (eighth-lowest). Additionally, Santa Clara County – where San Jose is located – takes the No. 2 spot for both the percentage of residents reporting poor mental health days (10%) and life expectancy (84.7 years).

  1. Santa Clarita, CA

Santa Clarita, California ranks best in the quality of life category, taking the No. 8 spot. Specifically, less than 7% of the city’s population live in poverty (sixth-lowest) and roughly 53% of residents are married (10th-highest). The area is also pretty safe, with the seventh-lowest violent crime rate study-wide (roughly 131 crimes per 100,000 residents).

  1. Irvine, CA

Irvine, California ranks in the top 10 for both the percentage of individuals earning $100,000 or more (nearly 46%) and living costs as a percent of income (roughly 38%). Irvine also has the No. 1 lowest violent crime rate study-wide (51 crimes for every 100,000 residents). Additionally, the county in which Irvine is located is also No. 10 for both the percentage of residents reporting poor mental health days (11.3) and life expectancy (82.8 years).

Most Young Men Are Single. Most Young Women Are Not

More than 60 percent of young men are single, nearly twice the rate of unattached young women, signaling a larger breakdown in the social, romantic and sexual life of the American male.

Men in their 20s are more likely than women in their 20s to be romantically uninvolved, sexually dormant, friendless and lonely. They stand at the vanguard of an epidemic of declining marriage, sexuality and relationships that afflicts all of young America.

“We’re in a crisis of connection,” said Niobe Way, a psychology professor and founder of the Project for the Advancement of Our Common Humanity at New York University. “Disconnection from ourselves and disconnection from each other. And it’s getting worse.”

In the worst-case scenario, the young American man’s social disconnect can have tragic consequences. Young men commit suicide at four times the rate of young women. Younger men are largely responsible for rising rates of mass shootings, a trend some researchers link to their growing social isolation.

Societal changes that began in the Eisenhower years have eroded the patriarchy that once ruled the American home, classroom and workplace. Women now collect nearly 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees. Men still earn more, but among the youngest adults, the income gap has narrowed to $43 a week.

Scholars say the new era of gender parity has reshaped relationship dynamics, empowering young women and, in many cases, removing young men from the equation.

“Women don’t need to be in long-term relationships. They don’t need to be married. They’d rather go to brunch with friends than have a horrible date,” said Greg Matos, a couple and family psychologist in Los Angeles, who recently penned a viral article titled “What’s Behind the Rise of Lonely, Single Men.”

Recent years have seen a historic rise in “unpartnered” Americans, particularly among the young. The pandemic made things worse.

As of 2022, Pew Research Center found, 30 percent of U.S. adults are neither married, living with a partner nor engaged in a committed relationship. Nearly half of all young adults are single: 34 percent of women, and a whopping 63 percent of men.

Not surprisingly, the decline in relationships marches astride with a decline in sex. The share of sexually active Americans stands at a 30-year low. Around 30 percent of young men reported in 2019 that they had no sex in the past year, compared to about 20 percent of young women.

Only half of single men are actively seeking relationships or even casual dates, according to Pew. That figure is declining.

“You have to think that the pandemic had an impact on some of those numbers,” said Fred Rabinowitz, a psychologist and professor at the University of Redlands who studies masculinity.

Young men “are watching a lot of social media, they’re watching a lot of porn, and I think they’re getting a lot of their needs met without having to go out. And I think that’s starting to be a habit.”

Even seasoned researchers struggle to fully account for the relationship gap between young women and men: If single young men outnumber single young women nearly two to one, then who are all the young women dating?

Some of them are dating each other. One-fifth of Generation Z identifies as queer, and research suggests bisexual women make up a large share of the young-adult queer community.

Young women are also dating and marrying slightly older men, carrying on a tradition that stretches back more than a century. The average age at first marriage is around 30 for men, 28 for women, according to census figures.

Heterosexual women are getting more choosy. Women “don’t want to marry down,” to form a long-term relationship to a man with less education and earnings than herself, said Ronald Levant, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Akron and author of several books on masculinity.

In previous generations, young women entered adulthood in a society that expected them to find a financially stable man who would support them through decades of marriage and motherhood. Over the 1950s and 1960s, that pattern gradually broke down, and today it is all but gone.

Women are tiring of their stereotypical role as full-time therapist for emotionally distant men. They want a partner who is emotionally open and empathetic, the opposite of the age-old masculine ideal.

“Today in America, women expect more from men,” Levant said, “and unfortunately, so many men don’t have more to give.”

The same emotional deficits that hurt men in the dating pool also hamper them in forming meaningful friendships. Fifteen percent of men report having no close friendships, a fivefold increase from 1990, according to research by the Survey Center on American Life.

“Men are less naturally relational than women,” said Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution whose new book, “Of Boys and Men,” has drawn wide praise.

Reeves points to a recent Saturday Night Live sketch that reimagined the neighborhood dog park as a “man park,” poking fun at “this reliance of men on women to do the emotional lifting for them.”

Social circles have been shrinking for men and women, especially since the pandemic, but men struggle more. Thirty years ago, 55 percent of men reported having six or more close friends. By 2021, that share had slipped to 27 percent.

“Women form friendships with each other that are emotionally intimate, whereas men do not,” Levant said. Young women “may not be dating, but they have girlfriends they spend time with and gain emotional support from.”

Aaron Karo and Matt Ritter, both in their early 40s, study the male “friendship recession” in their “Man of the Year” podcast. It arose out of an annual tradition of gathering at a steakhouse with several male friends, all close since elementary school.

“Guys are taught to prioritize career,” Karo said. “Also romantic relationships, although it doesn’t seem like they’re doing a very good job at that. Making friends and keeping friends seems to be a lower priority. And once guys get older, they suddenly realize they have no friends.”

The podcasters and their friends created the annual gathering as a way to keep their friendship alive. It spawned a year-round group chat and a “Man of the Year” trophy, awarded to the most deserving friend at the annual dinner.  “We treat friendship as a luxury, especially men,” Ritter said. “It’s a necessity.”

4-Day Workweek Trial: Shorter Hours, Happier Employees

(AP) — Work less, get more. A trial of a four-day workweek in Britain, billed as the world’s largest, has found that an overwhelming majority of the 61 companies that participated from June to December will keep going with the shorter hours and that most employees were less stressed and had better work-life balance.

That was all while companies reported revenue largely stayed the same during the trial period last year and even grew compared with the same six months a year earlier, according to findings released this week.

“We feel really encouraged by the results, which showed the many ways companies were turning the four-day week from a dream into a realistic policy, with multiple benefits,” said David Frayne, research associate at University of Cambridge, who helped lead the team conducting employee interviews for the trial. “We think there is a lot here that ought to motivate other companies and industries to give it a try.”

Picture : NYTimes

The university’s team worked with researchers from Boston College; Autonomy, a research organization focused on the future of work; and the 4 Day Week Global nonprofit community to see how the companies from industries spanning marketing to finance to nonprofits and their 2,900 workers would respond to reduced work hours while pay stayed the same.

Not surprisingly, employees reported benefits, with 71% less burned out, 39% less stressed and 48% more satisfied with their job than before the trial.

Of the workers, 60% said it was easier to balance work and responsibilities at home, while 73% reported increased satisfaction with their lives. Fatigue was down, people were sleeping more and mental health improved, the findings show.

That’s just what Platten’s fish and chips restaurant in the English seaside town of Wells-Next-The Sea has found, especially in the hospitality industry where people often work seven days a week.

“Everyone is focused, everyone knows what they’re doing, everyone is refreshed,” said Kirsty Wainwright, general manager of the restaurant about a three-hour drive northeast of London. “What it means is that they are coming into work with a better frame of mind and passing that on to obviously the clients and the public that are coming here for their meals. They’re getting a greater service because the team are more engaged.”

Starting the trial going into the busy season in June, Platten’s, which is open seven days a week, found the biggest hurdle was finding a model that worked for everyone, Wainwright said.

They constantly communicated with employees to find what worked best, which was having the staff split into two groups, allowing one group to work two days on, and other to have two days off, she said.

The concept lets people work, have a day to do chores like cleaning the house and “then have two days off, seeing your friends, seeing your family, doing some stuff yourself,” Wainwright said. “And that’s what this is all about — is actually just working to live and not living to work.”

For companies that rolled out the shorter work hours — whether it was one less workday a week or longer hours in parts of the year and shorter hours the rest of the time to make an average 32-hour week — revenue wasn’t affected, the findings say.

Revenue grew 1.4% over the course of the trial for 23 companies that provided adequate data — weighted for the size of the business — while a separate 24 companies saw revenue climb more than 34% from the same six-month period a year earlier.

For Platten’s, “I don’t think we were really measuring it in terms of profitability,” Wainwright said. “That’s not really it for us. We wanted to measure it in productivity. And actually, the productivity has gone through the roof.”

For all those who participated in the trial, there was a drop in the likelihood of employees quitting, down 57% compared with the same period a year earlier, as well as those calling out sick, down 65% from a year ago, according to the findings.

Of the companies, 92% reported they would continue with the four-day workweek, with 30% saying it’s a permanent change. That includes Platten’s, which said it’s sticking with the model permanently.

Charlotte Lockhart, co-founder and managing director of 4 Day Week Global, said “resounding success” of the U.K. pilot program mirrors earlier efforts in Ireland and the U.S.

There are, of course, industries that can’t institute shorter hours because they need workers round the clock, such as nurses and first responders. Those workers and others have been walking off the job in the U.K. in recent months demanding better working conditions and pay that keeps pace with the high cost of living.

The pandemic changed the way the world works, with people seeking greater flexibility to improve work-life balance.

Spirits Beat Brews In Consumption

(AP) — Producers of spirits have new bragging rights in the age-old whiskey vs. beer barroom debate. New figures show that spirits surpassed beer for U.S. market-share supremacy, based on supplier revenues, a spirit industry group announced Thursday.

The rise to the top for spirit-makers was fueled in part by the resurgent cocktail culture — including the growing popularity of ready-to-drink concoctions — as well as strong growth in the tequila and American whiskey segments, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said.

In 2022, spirits gained market share for the 13th straight year in the fiercely competitive U.S. beverage alcohol market, as its supplier sales reached 42.1%, the council said.

After years of steady growth, it marked the first time that spirit supplier revenues have surpassed beer — but just barely, the spirit industry group said. Beer holds a 41.9% market share, it said.

“Despite the tough economy, consumers continued to enjoy premium spirits and fine cocktails in 2022,” Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO Chris Swonger said.

Overall spirit supplier sales in the U.S. were up 5.1% in 2022 to a record $37.6 billion, the group said. Volumes rose 4.8% to 305 million 9-liter cases.

Seemingly unfazed, Brian Crawford, president and CEO of the Beer Institute, insisted that beer “remains America’s number one choice in beverage alcohol.”

“It’s interesting to hear liquor companies boast about making money hand-over-fist while simultaneously going state-to-state hunting for more tax carveouts from state legislatures,” Crawford said in a statement.

Benj Steinman, president of Beer Marketer’s Insights, a leading beer industry trade publication, said the beer industry saw unprecedented growth in the 1970s, growing at a pace of 4% annually. As recently as 2000, beer’s share in the alcohol market was 58%.

Over the past several decades, beer’s growth has essentially been flat. Meanwhile, spirits have flourished, especially over the past two decades.

“I think there’s just a long arc on these things,” Steinman said.

Steinman and

chief economist at the Brewers Association, a craft beer industry trade group, agreed there are several reasons for the shift to spirits.

“Some of it’s just the younger generation coming up, looking for a lot of variety,” Steinman said. “They sometimes like spirits. Cocktail culture is another thing.”

Watson cited data showing that liquor has become 20% cheaper relative to beer in recent decades. “Price is a particularly large part of the story,” he said.

Another factor is advertising and marketing. Watson pointed to the success of spirits in its outreach to women. Steinman said distilled spirits now advertise freely, something they didn’t do generations ago.

“They’ve increased their availability. They’ve increased their ability to advertise. They’ve had a lot of legislative and policy wins that have enabled growth for distilled spirits,” Steinman said. For spirit producers, reaching the market share milestone was worth toasting.

At Baltimore Spirits Company in Maryland, the head distiller and the manager of its cocktail bar said they are pleased with the rise in the consumption of spirits.

Eli Breitburg-Smith, head distiller and cofounder, said the distillery founders saw a space in the market to make rye whiskey as consumer demand was growing.

“We did see that it was going to be on the rise,” he said. “Now, I don’t know that we thought it would be overtaking beer or anything like that, but we felt like there was a good space in the market for new whiskey, original whiskey, and people that … were making a unique product.”

Gregory Mergner, the general manager of the distillery’s cocktail gallery, said he didn’t anticipate spirits rivaling or surpassing beer for market share.

“As ubiquitous as beer is. I don’t think anybody could have foreseen whiskey overtaking it,” he said. The spirit sector’s rise has coincided with a growing thirst for high-end, super-premium products.

That trend toward premiumization slowed overall in 2022. But it remained strong because of growth in the tequila/mezcal and American whiskey categories, the Distilled Spirits Council said.

More than 60% of the spirit sector’s total U.S. revenue last year came from sales of high-end and super-premium spirits, mostly led by tequila and American whiskey, said Christine LoCascio, the group’s chief of public policy and strategy. Those high-end products fetch the highest prices.

“While many consumers are feeling the pinch from inflation and reduced disposable income, they are still willing to purchase that special bottle of spirits choosing to sip a little luxury and drink better, not more,” LoCascio said.

Within the spirit sector, vodka maintained its as status the top revenue producer at $7.2 billion, though sales were flat in 2022, the group said.

In the tequila/mezcal category, sales rose 17.2%, or $886 million, totaling $6 billion, it said. Sales for American whiskey were up 10.5%, or $483 million, to reach $5.1 billion, it said. The American whiskey category includes bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey.

Brandy and cognac sales were down 12.3%, with revenues totaling $3.1 billion.

Premixed cocktails were the clear leader as the fastest-growing spirit category.

Sales for premixed cocktails, including ready-to-drink spirit products, surged by 35.8%, or $588 million, to reach $2.2 billion, the council said.

Meanwhile, spirit sales volumes in restaurants and bars — referred to as on-premise sales — continued to recover from pandemic-era shutdowns but they remained 5% lower than 2019 levels, the council said. Those sales represent about 20% of the U.S. market.

Off-premise sales volumes at liquor stores and other retail outlets remained steady in 2021 and 2022, after experiencing sharp gains during the pandemic restrictions in 2020, it said.

Meanwhile, there is a crossover strategy brewing in the alcohol market.

Steinman said that even the big players in the beer industry “are playing in all these different growth arenas, including spirits.”

Molson Coors changed its name in 2019, going from Molson Coors Brewing Co. to Molson Coors Beverage Co. Watson noted that the No. 2 canned ready-to-drink liquor product, Cutwater, is made by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

For beer producers, the reversal in market-share rankings is no reason to cry in their suds.

Watson cautioned that the market share trend could flip, calling it “likely at some point we’ll see beer grow again at the expense of other segments.”

No. 1 Phrase Used In Successful Relationships, Research On 40,000 Couples Finds

For the past 50 years, we’ve been putting love under the microscope. As psychologists, we’ve studied more than 40,000 partners about to begin couples therapy. We’ve also been happily married to each other for 35 years, so we know a thing or two about successful relationships.

While every partnership is unique, with its own set of challenges, there’s one thing that all couples have in common: We want to be appreciated. To be acknowledged for our efforts. We want to be seen.

The No. 1 phrase in successful relationships: ‘Thank you’

A thriving relationship requires an enthusiastic culture of appreciation, where we’re as good at noticing the things our partners are doing right as we are at noticing what they’re doing wrong.

But it’s easy to fall into the trap of only seeing what your partner is not doing. You develop a narrative where you’re the one putting in all the effort, and you start to believe it’s true.

Getting rid of this toxic mindset requires building a new one: scanning for the positives and saying “thank you.”

How to get into the appreciation mindset

You probably say “thank you” all day long, almost without thinking, to your colleagues, to the bagger at the supermarket, or to the stranger who holds the door for you.

But in our most intimate relationships, we can forget how important saying “thank you” really is.

For many of the couples we’ve worked with, we found that when one person started the cycle of appreciation, it became easy for the other to join in and strengthen it.

Here’s your assignment for today:

Step 1: Be an anthropologist.

Keep a close eye on your partner, whenever you can. Follow them around. Write down what they do, especially the positive stuff! Don’t write down the negatives, such as ignoring a pile of papers you asked them to pick up.

Note that they washed the breakfast dishes, fielded phone calls, picked up the toys strewn all over the living room, and made you coffee when they went to make one for themselves.

You don’t have to hide the fact that you’re spying. You can tell your partner you’re observing them to get a better sense of their day, and everything they do.

Their behavior isn’t going to change much just by knowing you’re watching.

Step 2: Say “thank you.”

Thank them for something routine that they’re doing right, even if it’s small, even if they do it every day — in fact, especially if it’s small and they do it every day!

But don’t just say “Hey, thanks.” Tell them why that small thing is a big deal to you: “Thank you for making the coffee every morning. I love waking up to the smell of it and the sounds of you in the kitchen. It just makes me start the day off right.”


Don’t expect this to be easy. You may run into some challenges. Here’s our best advice:

If you’re crunched for time…

Make a quick list of everything you each do, then pick a couple of things to flip-flop on. If you’re always the one who gets the kids off to school, have your partner do it today instead. If your partner is always the one to make dinner, you do it tonight.

See what it feels like to put yourself in each other’s shoes.

If you’re having trouble getting out of the negative perspective…

Try to separate the negative feelings about what happened in the past. Focus on the here and now, this specific moment, this specific person. What can you tangibly observe?

Ask yourself: “Have I had these negative feelings before this relationship ever began? Who with? What set off those feelings?”

Identifying, naming and sourcing these types of negative thoughts and feelings can help you let them go.

If it feels like you’re seeing the positives, but your partner is not…

Remember, you’re trying to change your own mental habits. You’re not changing your partner.

Ultimately, how they think and feel is not within your control. But changing your own way of looking at the world is powerful. You’re disrupting the cycle of negativity and refusing to give it any fuel to continue. And that alone can make a significant difference.

(Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman are the co-founders of The Gottman Institute and Love Lab. Married for over 35 years, the two psychologists are world-renowned for their work on relationship stability and divorce prediction. They are also the co-authors of “The Love Prescription: Seven Days to More Intimacy, Connection, and Joy” and “10 Principles for Doing Effective Couples Therapy.” Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.)


An 85-Years-Long Study Throws Light On Making One Happy In 10 Minutes

What makes you genuinely happy? There could be a wide range of answers ranging from closing a big sale or investment, reaching a mountain summit after an arduous hike, or eating a perfect ice cream cone on a hot summer day. But according to what may be the longest-running scientific study of happiness, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which has been going on for 85 years, the biggest determinant of genuine. long-term happiness isn’t wealth, or accomplishment, or even pleasure. It’s the relationships we form with the people in our lives, in our workplaces, and in our communities that bring us the greatest happiness in the long run.

With that in mind, the New York Times worked with the leader of the Harvard study to create a 7-Day Happiness Challenge as a way to start the new year. The whole challenge is well worth doing. These are the four steps that resonated most with me, and you can do any of them in about 10 minutes, any time of the day.

  1. Plan an 8-minute phone call with a friend.

The Times’ wellness columnist, Jancee Dunn, tried this with a friend of hers and was surprised at how powerfully it lifted her mood. The eight-minute phone call plan solves two ongoing problems with conversations. The first is that most of us “tend to think that in some unspecified future, we’ll have a ‘time surplus,’ where we’ll be able to connect with old friends,” according to Bob Waldinger, the psychiatrist leading the Harvard study who worked with the Times on these challenges. But chances are that “someday” when we think we’ll have lots of time for our friends will never come. So we need to make time right now or risk drifting away from our friendships.

The second is that, as Harvard research has shown, most conversations go on too long–often longer than either party would prefer. So set an eight-minute limit ahead of time–what Dunn calls a “hard out,” guarantees that this won’t happen. It also makes it easy for even a very busy friend to say yes to the call. For instance, Dunn’s friend spent eight minutes talking with her while traveling to the dry cleaner’s.

What surprised Dunn was how much she and her friend were able to talk about in eight minutes. “We talked about our mothers’ health, made birthday plans, gossiped about a friend who abruptly quit his job and moved to a tiny Mexican town, traded book recommendations, and explored the possibility of an afterlife,” she wrote. Perhaps because they had both committed to a tight time limit, they were quick to get the important stuff.

Dunn wrote, “I had missed her, and didn’t realize it until I heard her voice.” This is an important factor, researchers say. Hearing someone’s voice is a more powerful way to connect than texting with them or chatting over social media. So make that eight-minute phone call today, if you can.

  1. Start a conversation with a stranger.

Research has shown that starting a conversation with a stranger increases our happiness, even when we don’t expect that it will. Given that humans are profoundly social creatures and that we all thrive on connection, that shouldn’t really be as surprising as it is. Dunn put this advice to use herself when she asked a neighbor whose dog always barked at her if there was anything she could do to make friends with him. There was, and it was surprisingly simple–all she had to do was take off her hat, because hats upset this particular dog for some reason.

In my own case, a few years back, I struck up a conversation with Shelmina Babai Abji at a cocktail party and we soon became friends and supporters of each others’ careers. At the time we both had book projects we hoped to sell and in some odd twist, both our books came out on the same day. I’m proud to have her endorsement on my book, Career Self-Care.

  1. Get to know someone at work.

Work friends are incredibly important–particularly in the high pressure and long hours that go with starting a business. Yet, experts say, we don’t always recognize the value of these relationships. So choose someone at work you would like to get to know better. This could be an acquaintance who you’d like to turn into a friend, or someone you don’t know at all but would like to get to know.

For someone you don’t yet know, find a bit of common ground. These conversation starters can help. If you like, pay attention to things they may have mentioned in public, perhaps that they are about to give an important presentation or will be attending a family member’s wedding. If you follow up afterward and ask how it went, they’ll be impressed and pleased that you were paying attention and remembered what was going on with them. You’ll have turned that person from a stranger into an acquaintance.

To go from acquaintance to friend, invite them to do something simple that takes only a few minutes, like walk with you to the corner deli to pick up lunch. Or, use the Ben Franklin
effect, and ask them to do you a small and easy favor, a counterintuitive but powerful way to get someone to like you. With most people, this approach will help start you on your way toward being a work friend. If it doesn’t work with this particular person, don’t dwell on it. Just pick someone else and try again.

  1. Send someone a thank you message.

Research shows that this simple gesture creates immediate happiness benefits both for the person doing the thanking and the person receiving the thanks. So, even though it’s not the easiest of these steps, it may be the most important. Take a few minutes to write a note to a friend, a loved one, a family member, or even someone who’s helped you in your career. It can be someone you see all the time, or someone you haven’t spoken to in years.

Imagine that this is the last message you’ll be able to send this person, and write down what you’re grateful for. You don’t need to put a huge amount of thought into this–you can do it in less than 10 minutes, as promised. Now here’s the hard part: Send the message. Whether by email or social media, or snail mail, send it. Don’t worry if the person at the other end hasn’t heard from you for a long time. People are always happy to get a thank you note, even if it’s from someone they haven’t thought about in a long time. Getting it will make them happy, and sending it will make you happy.

If you can, try one of these 10-minute challenges every day next week. Altogether, they will ]take only about an hour of your time. At the end of the week, ask yourself if these small steps made you feel better than you would have without them. If the answer is yes, should you make them part of your routine every week? (

7 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude in Your Everyday Life

The secret to happiness lies in being grateful. Follow these expert tips to learn how to practice gratitude every day.

Grateful people are happy people. This was one of the top findings of the Harvard Adult Development Study, the longest-running study on happiness and health in the world, spanning 100 years and two generations of Americans. What’s more, grateful people live longer and are healthier overall. This means that learning how to practice gratitude is one of the best things you can do for yourself, says the current director of the study, psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, MD.

Why? The answer is pretty simple: Being grateful focuses your attention on what you have, rather than what you don’t, and reminds you about all that is good in your life. It also has another, less-obvious benefit, according to Dr. Waldinger, who co-authored The Good Life, a book that divulges the secrets to happiness, based on the Harvard study. “Gratitude is one of the best tools we have for strengthening relationships, and our relationships with others are the strongest factor in determining happiness,” he explains, adding that being grateful is one of the simplest and easiest things you can do to increase your happiness—and the effect is almost instantaneous.

So if you want to know how to be happy, learn how to practice gratitude in your life every day. This can include doing gratitude meditations (one of Dr. Waldinger’s favorites!), writing thank-you notes, gratitude journaling in a gratitude journal and reading gratitude quotes. Keep reading for even more tips for practicing gratitude and becoming a happier you.

What is gratitude?

Before you learn how to practice gratitude, be sure you understand the concept. So, what does gratitude mean, exactly?

Gratitude is the positive feeling of being thankful for someone or something. But in practice, it’s so much more than that, says Canadian psychologist Haley Perlus, PhD.

“Gratitude is a productive emotional training tool. When you are grateful for your life, you can experience the positive and pleasant feelings associated with happiness, peace, passion, excitement and love. These pleasant emotions can then be a catalyst for positive changes in your life,” she explains. “Gratitude is also the opposite of our negative inner voice. It disrupts negative patterns and creates an opportunity to focus on all the good in one’s past, present and future.”

Why is gratitude important?

Science has proven over and over again that gratitude provides powerful physical and mental health benefits, says Dr. Waldinger. Being grateful can help prevent disease, and being thankful can even help you live longer.

Some of gratitude’s greatest benefits include:

Lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other lifestyle diseases

Stronger immune system

Sharper memory and less mental decline with aging

Higher-quality sleep and less insomnia

Reduced perception of chronic pain

Less inflammation in the body

Better mood and less incidence of depression and anxiety

Higher self-confidence and fewer feelings of anger, jealousy and envy

Greater ability to forgive yourself and others

Better ability to prioritize and manage time

7 ways to practice gratitude

Being grateful is a learned skill—and one you can get better at with practice, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you at first, says Perlus. Ready to practice gratitude in your everyday life? Try the simple, expert-approved tips below.

  1. Say what you’re grateful for out loud

Vocalizing what you’re grateful for can be more impactful than simply thinking it, says Perlus. Hearing yourself say it aloud helps cement it in your memory, and articulating it helps you identify what aspect of the experience you are grateful for.

How to practice gratitude: Use Voice Memos or another app to dictate what you’re grateful for (and save the recordings so you can go back and listen when you need a little moment of joy). Or encourage the family to share something they’re grateful for each evening at dinner.

  1. Write down what you’re grateful for

Putting your thoughts on paper, whether that’s in a gratitude journal or a thank-you note, is a powerful way to connect your mind and your body, reinforcing the positive feelings.

How to practice gratitude: Keep a notebook in your purse or desk to jot down things you’re grateful for as they happen. Or try gratitude journaling: Write three things you’re grateful for every day in a journal you keep by your bed.

  1. Share your gratitude with others

Sharing your gratitude has an immense effect on both you and others, triggering a cascade of happy thoughts and feelings while also strengthening your bond. Even people who said thank-you to a stranger reported a strong feeling of happiness, adds Dr. Waldinger.

How to practice gratitude: Make a conscious effort every single day to tell someone how grateful you are for them. Call a parent, write a thank-you note to an old teacher, give a friend a thank-you gift or simply thank the cashier at the grocery store.

  1. Meditate on gratitude

People often make the mistake of assuming feelings control the mind—that how we feel determines what we think about. In reality, your mind dictates what you feel, says Dr. Waldinger. So focusing your mind on gratitude by doing a daily meditation is one of the best ways to feel more grateful in your life.

How to practice gratitude: Simply put, thinking grateful thoughts helps you see more things to be grateful for in your life. Clear your mind. Then take one to five minutes each morning to do a guided meditation on gratitude or to meditate on things or people you’re grateful for. A happiness meditation will help you be happier at home, at work and anywhere else you spend your day.

  1. Plan to be grateful in advance

Gratitude doesn’t just occur in hindsight. Go ahead and plan your gratefulness ahead of time. And don’t wait to spontaneously “feel grateful.” Identify areas in your life in which you feel unhappy and then list ways to feel grateful in those situations.

How to practice gratitude: Write out a list of specific things to be grateful for and carry it with you, or set an alarm on your phone to remind you to look for moments of gratitude. Not sure where to start your planned gratitude journey? Sign up to do something nice for someone else—feeling grateful is just one of the benefits of volunteering.

  1. Challenge yourself to be grateful in difficult circumstances

Life isn’t about what happens to you but how you handle it, and grateful people are more resilient when handling trying times, says Dr. Waldinger. There is no situation, no matter how difficult, in which you can’t find something to be grateful for—and practicing gratitude can go a long way toward improving the way you deal with hard things.

How to practice gratitude: Look back through old journals or photo albums of hard times in your life and make notes about what helped you get through them and what you were grateful for. Use that information to help you find the silver linings in current troubles.

  1. Get inspired by others’ gratitude

Being grateful is a skill, and you can learn how to do it by seeing how others practice gratitude in their lives. Pay attention to the way friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances show gratitude throughout the day—or ask them about their gratitude process. (

Mood Affects The Way You Process Language

Newswise — When people are in a negative mood, they may be quicker to spot inconsistencies in things they read, a new University of Arizona-led study suggests.

The study, published in Frontiers in Communication, builds on existing research on how the brain processes language.

Vicky Lai, a UArizona assistant professor of psychology and cognitive science, worked with collaborators in the Netherlands to explore how people’s brains react to language when they are in a happy mood versus a negative mood.

“Mood and language seem to be supported by different brain networks. But we have one brain, and the two are processed in the same brain, so there is a lot of interaction going on,” Lai said. “We show that when people are in a negative mood, they are more careful and analytical. They scrutinize what’s actually stated in a text, and they don’t just fall back on their default world knowledge.”

Lai and her study co-authors set out to manipulate study participants’ moods by showing them clips from a sad movie – “Sophie’s Choice” – or a funny television show – “Friends.” A computerized survey was used to evaluate participants’ moods before and after watching the clips. While the funny clips did not impact participants’ moods, the sad clips succeeded in putting participants in a more negative mood, the researchers found.

The participants then listened to a series of emotionally neutral audio recordings of four-sentence stories that each contained a “critical sentence” that either supported or violated default, or familiar, word knowledge. That sentence was displayed one word at a time on a computer screen, while participants’ brain waves were monitored by EEG, a test that measures brain waves.

For example, the researchers presented study participants with a story about driving at night that ended with the critical sentence “With the lights on, you can see more.” In a separate story about stargazing, the same critical sentence was altered to read “With the lights on, you can see less.” Although that statement is accurate in the context of stargazing, the idea that turning on the lights would cause a person to see less is a much less familiar concept that defies default knowledge.

The researchers also presented versions of the stories in which the critical sentences were swapped so that they did not fit the context of the story. For example, the story about driving at night would include the sentence “With the lights on, you can see less.”

They then looked at how the brain reacted to the inconsistencies, depending on mood.

They found that when participants were in a negative mood, based on their survey responses, they showed a type of brain activity closely associated with re-analysis.

“We show that mood matters, and perhaps when we do some tasks we should pay attention to our mood,” Lai said. “If we’re in a bad mood, maybe we should do things that are more detail-oriented, such as proofreading.”

Study participants completed the experiment twice – once in the negative mood condition and once in the happy mood condition. Each trial took place one week apart, with the same stories presented each time.

“These are the same stories, but in different moods, the brain sees them differently, with the sad mood being the more analytical mood,” Lai said.

The study was conducted in the Netherlands; participants were native Dutch speakers, and the study was conducted in Dutch. But Lai believes their findings translate across languages and cultures.

By design, the study participants were all women, because Lai and her colleagues wanted to align their study with existing literature that was limited to female participants. Lai said future studies should include more diverse gender representation.

In the meantime, Lai and her colleagues say mood may affect us in more ways than we previously realized.

Researcher Jos van Berkum of the Netherlands’ Utrecht University, co-authored the study with Lai and Peter Hagoort of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands.

“When thinking about how mood affects them, many people just consider things like being grumpy, eating more ice cream, or – at best – interpreting somebody else’s talk in a biased way,” van Berkum said. “But there’s much more going on, also in unexpected corners of our minds. That’s really interesting. Imagine your laptop being more or less precise as a function of its battery level – that’s unthinkable. But in human information processing, and presumably also in (information processing) of related species, something like that seems to be going on.”

Harvard Study Finds 4 Simple Ways to Make Yourself Really Happy in 10 Minutes or Less

An 85-year-long study reveals the secret to long-term happiness. Should you try it? What makes you genuinely happy? There could be a wide range of answers ranging from closing a big sale or investment, reaching a mountain summit after an arduous hike, or eating a perfect ice cream cone on a hot summer day. But according to what may be the longest-running scientific study of happiness, the Harvard Study of Adult Development which has been going on for 85 years, the biggest determinant of genuine. long-term happiness isn’t wealth, or accomplishment, or even pleasure. It’s the relationships we form with the people in our lives, in our workplaces, and in our communities that bring us the greatest happiness in the long run.

With that in mind, the New York Times worked with the leader of the Harvard study to create a 7-Day Happiness Challenge as a way to start of the new year. The whole challenge is well worth doing. These are the four steps that resonated most with me, and you can do any of them in about 10 minutes any time of the day.

  1. Plan an 8-minute phone call with a friend.

The Times’ wellness columnist Jancee Dunn tried this with a friend of hers and was surprised at how powerfully it lifted her mood. The eight-minute phone call plan solves two ongoing problems with conversations. The first is that most of us “tend to think that in some unspecified future, we’ll have a ‘time surplus,’ where we’ll be able to connect with old friends,” according to Bob Waldinger, the psychiatrist leading the Harvard study who worked with the Times on these challenges. But chances are that “someday” when we think we’ll have lots of time for our friends will never come. So we need to make time right now or risk drifting away from our friendships.

Picture : TheUNN

The second is that, as Harvard research has shown, most conversations go on too long–often longer than either party would prefer. So to set an eight-minute limit ahead of time–what Dunn calls a “hard out,” guarantees that this won’t happen. It also makes it easy for even a very busy friend to say yes to the call. For instance, Dunn’s friend spent eight minutes talking with her while traveling to the dry cleaner’s.

What surprised Dunn was how much she and her friend were able to talk about in eight minutes. “We talked about our mothers’ health, made birthday plans, gossiped about a friend who abruptly quit his job and moved to a tiny Mexican town, traded book recommendations and explored the possibility of an afterlife,” she wrote. Perhaps because they had both committed to a tight time limit, they were quick to get the important stuff.

Dunn wrote, “I had missed her, and didn’t realize it until I heard her voice.” This is an important factor, researchers say. Hearing someone’s voice is a more powerful way to connect than texting with them or chatting over social media. So make that eight-minute phone call today, if you can.

  1. Start a conversation with a stranger.

Research has shown that starting a conversation with a stranger increases our happiness, even when we don’t expect that it will. Given that humans are profoundly social creatures and that we all thrive on connection, that shouldn’t really be as surprising as it is. Dunn put this advice to use herself when she asked a neighbor whose dog always barked at her if there was anything she could do to make friends with him. There was, and it was surprisingly simple–all she had to do was take off her hat, because hats upset this particular dog for some reason.

In my own case, a few years back, I struck up a conversation with Shelmina Babai Abji at a cocktail party and we soon became friends and supporters of each others’ careers. At the time we both had book projects we hoped to sell and in some odd twist, both our books came out on the same day. I’m proud to have her endorsement on my book Career Self-Care.

  1. Get to know someone at work.

Work friends are incredibly important–particularly in the high pressure and long hours that go with starting a business. Yet, experts say, we don’t always recognize the value of these relationships. So choose someone at work you would like to get to know better. This could be an acquaintance who you’d like to turn into a friend, or someone you don’t know at all but would like to get to know.

For someone you don’t yet know, find a bit of common ground. These conversation starters can help. If you like, pay attention to things they may have mentioned in public, perhaps that they are about to give an important presentation or will be attending a family member’s wedding. If you follow up afterward and ask how it went, they’ll be impressed and pleased that you were paying attention and remembered what was going on with them. You’ll have turned that person from a stranger into an acquaintance.

To go from acquaintance to friend, invite them to do something simple that only takes a few minutes, like walk with you to the corner deli to pick up lunch. Or, use the Ben Franklin Effect, and ask them to do you a small and easy favor, a counterintuitive but powerful way to get someone to like you. With most people, this approach will help start you on your way toward being a work friend. If it doesn’t work with this particular person, don’t dwell on it. Just pick someone else and try again.

  1. Send someone a thank you message.

Research shows that this simple gesture creates immediate happiness benefits both for the person doing the thanking and the person receiving the thanks. So, even though it’s not the easiest of these steps, it may be the most important. Take a few minutes to write a note to a friend, a loved one, a family member, or even someone who’s helped you in your career. It can be someone you see all the time, or someone you haven’t spoken to in years.

Imagine that this is the last message you’ll be able to send this person, and write down what you’re grateful for. You don’t need to put a huge amount of thought into this–you can do it in less than 10 minutes, as promised. Now here’s the hard part: Send the message. Whether by email or social media, or snail mail, but send it. Don’t worry if the person at the other end hasn’t heard from you for a long time. People are always happy to get a thank you note, even if it’s from someone they haven’t thought about in a long time. Getting it will make them happy, and sending it will make you happy.

If you can, try one of these ten-minute challenges every day next week. All together, they will only take about an hour of your time. At the end of the week, ask yourself if these small steps made you feel better than you would have without them. If the answer is yes, should you make them part of your routine every week? (

Those With “No Religion” In USA Aren’t Increasing

(ZENIT News)- A Gallup demoscopic group reflects that, although noticed in different reports over the last decades that the number of people with “no religion” has increased, that increase has halted over the last six years.

Although it’s true that in the decade of the 50s the number of those with “no religion” was 0, in 2022 one fifth of the American population say they have “no religion,” reflecting that from 2017 to 2022 the percentage has halted. Gallup polls of that period of years show that the stabilization has stayed around 20-21%, of those that state they have “no religion.” It’s evident that the increase from 1950 to 2022 contrasts with the stabilization of those with “no religion” over the last five-year period.

Picture : Guardian

This data is relevant as, in the opinion of Dr Frank Newport, a Gallup sociologist, “there are hundreds of academic articles, academic reviews and books that examine the phenomenon of religious identity. The majority of these operate under the supposition that the percentage of those “without any religion” increases constantly, as part of a general tendency to secularization in American society. Our tendency about religious identity suggests a certain caution when assuming that these tendencies are inexorable.”

However, the Gallup data shows that there was also a stabilization of those with “no religion” in 1980, when the percentage stayed at 10% up to 2000. Between 2000 and 2017 the tendency was stabilized even more.

According to Newport, “we don’t know what will happen with religious identity in the future. History tells us that the only constant, when it comes to American religion, is change. Hence, it’s not known when or if the “ascent of those with no religion” will be recovered again. An important consideration is age.” Newport stresses that already in a 2019 analysis, an important question pivoted around the probability that the young people of today and of tomorrow will continue to become more religious as they get older. “However, regardless of what happens in the future, I believe that a key conclusion of the Gallup data is the evidence that a constant increase, year after year, in the percentage of Americans that don’t have a religious identity is certainly not inevitable.”

Is Witchcraft Real?

From ancient Greece to modern-day TikTok witchcraft, the world of witches has been a changing one.

(The Conversation) — Living on the North Shore in Boston in the fall brings the gorgeous turning of the leaves and pumpkin patches. It is also a time for people to head to nearby Salem, Massachusetts, home of the 17th century infamous witch trials, and visit its popular museum.

Despite a troubled history, there are people today who consider themselves witches. Often, modern witches share their lore, craft and stories on TikTok and other social media platforms.

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Picture : The Coversation

As a scholar who works on myth and poetry from ancient Greece – and as a native of New England – I have long been fascinated by the cultural conversations about witches. Witch trials in the Americas and Europe were in part about enforcing power structures and persecuting the weak. From ancient Greece through Puritan New England, witches functioned as easy targets for cultural anxieties about gender, power and mortality.

Ancient witches: gender and power

While modern witchcraft is inclusive of many different genders and identities, witches in ancient myth and literature were almost exclusively women. Their stories were in part about navigating gender roles and power in a patriarchal system.

Fear about women’s power was an essential part of ancient anxiety about witchcraft. This fear, moreover, relied on traditional expectations about the abilities innate to a person’s gender. As early as the creation narrative in Hesiod’s “Theogony” – a poem hailing from a poetic tradition between the eighth and fifth centuries B.C. – male gods like Cronus and Zeus were depicted with physical strength, while female figures were endowed with intelligence. In particular, women knew about the mysteries of childbirth and how to raise children.

In the basic framework of Greek myth, then, men were strong and women used intelligence and tricks to cope with their violence. This gendered difference in traits combined with ancient Greek views of bodies and aging. While women were seen to move through stages of life based on biology – childhood, adolescence via menstruation, childbearing and old age – the aging of men was connected to their relationship to women, particularly in getting married and having children.

Both Greek and Latin have a single word for man and husband – “aner” in Greek and “vir” in Latin. Socially and ritually, men were essentially seen as adolescents until they became husbands and fathers.

Picture: FT

Female control over reproduction was symbolized as a kind of ability to control life and death. In ancient Greece, women were expected to bear all responsibilities during early child rearing. They also were the ones to exclusively take on special roles in mourning the dead. Suspicion, anxiety and fear about mortality were then put on to women in general.

Powerful women

This was true especially for women who did not fit into typical gendered roles like the virtuous bride, the good mother or the helpful old maid.

While ancient Greek does not have a word that directly translates as “witch,” it does have “pharmakis” (someone who gives out drugs or medicine), “aoidos” (singer, enchantress) and “graus” or “graia” (old woman). Of these names, graus is probably closest to later European stereotypes: the mysterious old woman who is not part of a traditional family structure.

Much like today, foreignness invited suspicion in the ancient world as well. Several of the characters who may qualify as mythical witches were women from distant lands. Medea, famous for killing her children when her husband, Jason, proposes marrying someone else in Euripides’ play, was a woman from the east, a foreigner who did not adhere to the expectations for a woman’s behavior in Greece.

She started her narrative as a princess who used concoctions and spells to help Jason. Her powers increased male virility and life.

Medea allegedly learned her magical craft from her aunt, Circe, who shows up in Homer’s “Odyssey.” She lived alone on an island, luring men to her cabin with seductive food and drink to turn them into animals. Odysseus defeated her with an antidote provided by the god Hermes. Once her magic failed, Circe believed she had no choice but to submit to Odysseus.

Witches over time

Elsewhere in the “Odyssey” there are similar themes: the Sirens who sing to Odysseus are enchantresses who try to take control of the hero. Earlier in the epic, the audience witnesses Helen, whose departure with the Trojan prince Paris was the cause of the Trojan War, add an Egyptian drug called nepenthe to the wine she gives to her husband, Menelaos, and Odysseus’ son, Telemachus. This wine was so strong, it made people forget about the pain of losing even a loved one.

In each of these cases, women who practice magic threaten to exert control over men with tools that can also be part of a pleasurable life: songs, sex and families. Other myths of monstrous women reinforce how misogynistic stereotypes animate these beliefs. The ancient figure Lamia, for example, was a once beautiful woman who stole and killed infants because her children had died.

Empousa was a vampiric creature who fed on the sex and blood of young men. Even Medusa, well-known as the snake-haired Gorgon who turned men to stone, was reported in some sources to have actually been a woman so beautiful that Perseus cut her head off to show it off to his friends.

These examples are from myth. There were many living traditions of women’s healing and song cultures that have been lost over time. Many academic authors have traced the modern practices of witchcraft to ancient cults and the survival of pagan traditions outside of mainstream Christianity. Recent studies of ancient magical practices show how widespread and varied they were.

While ancient women were likely subject to suspicion and slander for witchcraft, there is no evidence that they faced the kind of widespread persecution of witches that swept Europe and the Americas a few centuries ago. The later 20th century, however, saw renewed interest in witchcraft, often in concert with movements empowering women.

Modern witches are crossing international borders and learning from each other without leaving their homes by creating communities on social media, like TikTok. If fear about women’s power led to paranoia in the past, exploring and embracing witchcraft has become part of reclaiming women’s histories. (

(Joel Christensen, Professor of Classical Studies, Brandeis University. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

Transgender Life Celebrated At Pageant In India

(AP) Anilya Boro may not have won the crown at India’s Miss Trans NE pageant this year, but having her parents there in support was a validation in its own right.

“I must prove to my parents that I can do something as a girl,” said the 22-year-old. “I didn’t win a title, but I am very happy that my parents were at the show to support me. Now they have accepted my decision to live as a girl and undergo surgery, but they don’t want me to rush through.”

Picture : AP

Twenty transgender women sashayed on a stage dressed as ethnic and tribal characters in the beauty pageant, drawing rounds of applause from the audience. The contestants came from India’s remote eight northeastern states, some of them nestled in the Himalayas in a relatively undeveloped region known for its stunning natural vistas.

Anilya Boro may not have won the crown at India’s Miss Trans NE pageant this year, but having her parents there in support was a validation in its own right.

“I must prove to my parents that I can do something as a girl,” said the 22-year-old. “I didn’t win a title, but I am very happy that my parents were at the show to support me. Now they have accepted my decision to live as a girl and undergo surgery, but they don’t want me to rush through.”

Twenty transgender women sashayed on a stage dressed as ethnic and tribal characters in the beauty pageant, drawing rounds of applause from the audience. The contestants came from India’s remote eight northeastern states, some of them nestled in the Himalayas in a relatively undeveloped region known for its stunning natural vistas.

Sexual minorities across India have gained a degree of acceptance, especially in big cities, and transgender people were guaranteed equal rights as a third gender in 2014. But prejudice persists and the community continues to face discrimination and rejection by their families. They’re often denied jobs, education and health care.

Ajan lived in the Indian capital for 13 years as a fashion designer and moved to her hometown of Guwahati in northeastern Assam state after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

She had won the title of Trans Queen in 2014, in a pageant held in the southern city of Vishakhapatnam, and later decided to help the community in the northeastern region.

“The Miss Trans NE pageant on Nov. 30 was only for men who identified themselves as women. Next year, it will include transgender men as well,’’ Ajan said.

Anilya is keeping her sights high, dreaming of one day winning the Miss Universe title. Her mother, Aikon Boro, said Anilya wore only girl’s clothes since she was 6 or 7, feeling the most comfortable in them.

“Everybody in the family tried to change her habits and behavior but she didn’t listen. Now the family members have accepted her as a transgender person,’’ she said.

The top prize at Miss Trans NE went to Lucey Ham from Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh state which borders on China, while Aria Deka and Rishidhya Sangkarishan, both from Assam in the far northeast, were runners-up.

“I am overwhelmed with joy. I have nothing to say. I will never forget the biggest moment of my life,” Ham said after she was crowned the winner.

Disability Is Not A Barrier To Success In Life 

What we call differently-abled people are people with different abilities, which cannot be denied.

“The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The Day observance aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains derived from integrating persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life. 

The main program of the observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the UN Headquarters in New York will include the Opening, panel discussions, and cultural events. Member States, civil society organizations, and the private sector are welcome to organize their events to celebrate International Day to raise awareness and promote the rights and perspectives of persons with disabilities worldwide”. (UN Department if Economic and Social Affairs)

Many disabled persons endorse that the biggest inspiration in their success, is Lipin Raj, who got into the civil service despite his visual impairment. The author as a disabled person, turned himself as an inspiration to many, but never compromises his attempts with a sense of inability!

Many people around us put aside the handicaps of life and put success into their own hands. Alix Louise Savage is an Australian Paralympic wheelchair racer and leading coach. Sauvage is considered Australia’s most famous disabled sportswoman. He won nine golds and four silvers in four Paralympic Games and eleven golds and two silvers in three IPC Athletics World Championships. And has won four Boston Marathons. He also achieved world records in 1500m, 5000m, 4x100m, and 4x400m relays. 

She was the Australian Female Athlete of the Year in 1999 and the International Female Wheelchair Athlete of the Year in 1999 and 2000. In 2002, her autobiography Louise Sauvage “My Story” was published. Many world-renowned people have come forward with the message that disability is not a barrier to success in life. Beethoven, a world-renowned pianist, born in Germany, was hard of hearing. American writer Helen Keller was visually challenged. 

Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and others are also great people who have overcome crises. Indian woman Arunima Sinha overcame physical challenges to become one of the world’s best mountaineers. They have conquered many peaks in the world, including Mount Everest. Ira Singhal, who topped the civil service examination in 2014, and Shekhar Naik, who led the Indian blind cricket team to victory in the Twenty20 match in 2012, have also fought tirelessly in the face of adversity. 

December is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The United Nations decided to celebrate this day to end the inequality and discrimination faced by people with disabilities in social life. 

In 1975, the United Nations made the Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Later 1982 was celebrated as the year of the differently abled. Then the period from 1983-92 was also observed as a Decade of Persons with Disabilities. Finally, in 1992, it was decided to celebrate December 3rd every year as Diversity Day 

A sign of cultural superiority is the vision to embrace more diversity. When one imagines primitive man struggling for basic survival, such as food, shelter, and security, artistic growth may seem like a spectacle. But in modern times, when we communicate as a global village, cultural promotion becomes an integral part of social life. 

A diversity perspective is also an approach that goes beyond dichotomies such as black-white and male-female. It is essential to include people with disabilities in this holistic approach. According to the World Health Organization, around 100 million people worldwide have some form of disability. It is also basic etiquette to share the joy of the cultural world that humanity has built. 

The United Nations promotes enabling inclusive development by ensuring the participation of the differently abled in the mainstream of society. To this end, the United Nations takes the initiative and intervenes to bring about changes in legislation and policy approaches at the national level. The World Health Organization, a part of the UN, also plays an essential role in coordinating Disability Day celebrations. 

The celebration of this day also reminds the world every year of the importance of protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, they too have equal rights to live.

Which Exercise Burns the Most Calories?

Your time is precious — and limited. So when it comes to working out, it’s not uncommon to wonder: what exercise burns the most calories?

Exercise scientists have rigorously studied the amount of energy people expend during different types of exercise, and they’ve determined which workouts are best for burning calories. The thing to keep in mind: the more muscles you engage and the harder (and longer) you push those muscles, the more energy your body will churn through, says Dr. Tim Church, an exercise researcher and a professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. So in order to maximize the number of calories you’ll burn, “you want an exercise that uses both lower and upper body muscle groups and is performed at a high intensity,” Church says.

Picture : Stylist

A study on one popular CrossFit workout called the “Cindy” — in which a person does a series of pull-ups, push-ups and squats in as many rounds as possible — found that it burned an average of 13 calories per minute. The workout lasts 20 minutes, so exercisers burned an average of 260 calories in total. While perfect apples-to-apples studies aren’t available, some Tabata research has shown that one of these workouts — composed of 4-minute training blocks that mix maximum-intensity bouts of resistance and aerobic training with short periods of rest — burns 14.5 calories per minute, or 280 calories during a 20-minute workout.

These per-minute calorie averages beat out many traditional forms of exercise. “But there’s such a variety within these classes and the people doing them that scores are all over the map,” says John Porcari, author of the Tabata study and a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. For example, some people in his Tabata study burned up to 360 calories during the 20-minute workout, or 18 calories per minute.

Yet “per-minute” calorie burn isn’t always the best way to assess a workout’s energy demands, Porcari says. The total time spent training and a person’s willingness to stick with a workout are also important factors. “You can crank like the dickens for 30 seconds and burn a lot of calories,” he says. So if you’re extremely short on time, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is probably your best option. But in the real world, Porcari says, many people won’t be comfortable (or capable of) engaging in regular or extended bouts of high-intensity training.

He says a “more fair” way to assess an exercise’s true energy demands is to ask people to do it at a pace that is comfortable for them. And when it comes to vigorous, calorie-burning exercises that people are comfortable doing for extended periods of time, running usually comes out on top. “When you look at the literature, running tends to burn more calories than other modalities,” he says.

According to an online calorie estimator from the American Council on Exercise, a 115-pound person running for 30 minutes at a slow-to-moderate pace (a 10-minute mile) would burn about 260 calories: the same amount people who did CrossFit typically torched in 20 minutes, according to the research. A 175-pound person would burn nearly 400 calories during that same 30-minute run. Pick up the pace, and you can achieve an even greater rate of calorie burn.

You may be wondering whether more intense forms of exercise lead to a higher rate of calorie expenditure even after training is finished — or a so-called “afterburn effect.” Research from Colorado State University has shown that, yes, intense exercise does keep a person’s metabolism humming longer than mild exercise. But this afterburn effect tends to peter out quickly — within a few hours — and it accounts for a small fraction of the total calories a person expends during and after exercise.

Also, a workout’s length — not just its intensity — helps to keep a person’s metabolism elevated after training, finds a review from the University of New Mexico. So if your goal is to burn the maximum amount of energy, you’ll want to find an exercise that is vigorous and that you can stick with for a long stretch of time.

For a lot of people, that mode is running. For others, it may be fast stationary cycling or Tabata or using an elliptical. The research suggests all are more or less comparable if you’re able to put in the time and keep up the intensity.

The bottom line? The best workout for burning calories is “the one you actually do,” Church says. You can find extreme forms of exercise that maximize per-minute calorie burn. But if you don’t stick with them or do them regularly, they’re not much good to you.

Mindfulness Works As Well As An Anxiety Drug

Mindfulness meditation worked as well as a standard drug for treating anxiety in the first head-to-head comparison.

The study tested a widely used mindfulness program that includes 2 1/2 hours of classes weekly and 45 minutes of daily practice at home. Participants were randomly assigned to the program or daily use of a generic drug sold under the brand name Lexapro for depression and anxiety.

After two months, anxiety as measured on a severity scale declined by about 30% in both groups and continued to decrease during the following four months.

Study results, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, are timely. In September, an influential U.S. health task force recommended routine anxiety screening for adults, and numerous reports suggest global anxiety rates have increased recently, related to worries over the pandemic, political and racial unrest, climate change and financial uncertainties.

Picture : ABC News

Anxiety disorders include social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and panic attacks. Affected people are troubled by persistent and intrusive worries that interfere with their lives and relationships. In the U.S., anxiety disorders affect 40% of U.S. women at some point in their lives and more than 1 in 4 men, according to data cited in U.S. Preventive Services Task Force screening recommendations.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that emphasizes focusing only on what’s happening at the moment and dismissing intrusive thoughts. Sessions often start with breathing exercises. Next might be “body scans” — thinking about each body part systematically, head to toe. When worried thoughts intrude, participants learn to briefly acknowledge them but then dismiss them.

Instead of ruminating over the troubling thought, “you say, ‘I’m having this thought, let that go for now,’’’ said lead author Elizabeth Hoge, director of Georgetown University’s Anxiety Disorders Research Program. With practice, “It changes the relationship people have with their own thoughts when not meditating.”

Previous studies have shown mindfulness works better than no treatment or at least as well as education or more formal behavior therapy in reducing anxiety, depression and other mental woes. But this is the first study to test it against a psychiatric drug, Hoge said, and the results could make insurers more likely to cover costs, which can run $300 to $500 for an 8-week session.

The results were based on about 200 adults who completed the six-month study at medical centers in Washington, Boston and New York. Researchers used a psychiatric scale of 1 to 7, with the top number reflecting severe anxiety. The average score was about 4.5 for participants before starting treatment. It dropped to about 3 after two months, then dipped slightly in both groups at three months and six months. Hoge said the change was clinically meaningful, resulting in noticeable improvement in symptoms.

Ten patients on the drug dropped out because of troublesome side effects possibly related to treatment, which included insomnia, nausea and fatigue. There were no dropouts for that reason in the mindfulness group, although 13 patients reported increased anxiety.

Dr. Scott Krakower, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, said mindfulness treatments often work best for mildly anxious patients. He prescribes them with medication for patients with more severe anxiety.

He noted that many people feel they don’t have time for mindfulness meditation, especially in-person sessions like those studied. Whether similar results would be found with online training or phone apps is unknown, said Krakower, who was not involved in the study.

Olga Cannistraro, a freelance writer in Keene, New Hampshire, participated in an earlier mindfulness study led by Hoge and says it taught her “to intervene in my own state of mind.’’

During a session, just acknowledging that she was feeling tension anywhere in her body helped calm her, she said.

Cannistraro, 52, has generalized anxiety disorder and has never taken medication for it. She was a single mom working in sales during that earlier study—circumstances that made life particularly stressful, she said. She has since married, switched jobs, and feels less anxious though still uses mindfulness techniques.

Stress Suppresses Sex

A recent study has shown that stress can harm sexual performance and sperm health, leading to infertility. The study found that men who reported higher stress levels were more likely to have lower sperm counts and less sperm motility. In addition, the study found that stress can also lead to erectile dysfunction. While the study did not specifically look at the causes of infertility, it is clear that stress can play a role in both sexual performance and sperm health. This is yet another reason to try to reduce stress in your life.

Seven daily activities to help reduce stress levels to lead a better sexual life are:

Go for walks: Physical activities play a huge role in dealing with our stress levels. Going out for a walk early morning or evening helps us to stay active. Meeting new people, interacting with them, enjoying the small details in our surroundings, and inhaling fresh air while going for walks help reduce our stress level to a great extent.

Practicing Yoga: Yoga is a natural cure for many health problems. Several yoga positions and asanas help in better blood and oxygen circulation in our bodies. Lowering head positions in these asanas helps us maintain calm and also relaxes our nervous system

Communicate: It is important to communicate our feelings, especially during anger or grief. Holding our grief and anger for prolonged time results in added stress levels which affect our health. Communicating and sharing problems with our close and loved ones helps to relieve stress and brightens our mood. We never know if they have any ideas or suggestions to help us solve the issue.

Slow breathing & meditation: Even your breath, which you wouldn’t think, calms you down and enables you to make wiser judgments, controls your temper, and fosters patience. This facilitates better decision-making and improved stress management.

Proper diet: Good nutrition and a balanced diet are necessary to maintain stress levels. Often during stress, we tend to reach out to sweet cravings but that should be consumed within a limit. It is important to drink enough water to stay calm during stressful times.

Listen to music: Good music is a good stress manager and reliever. When you have music playing in the background of your life, you will enjoy it more and feel less stressed throughout the day.

Sleep enough: It’s crucial to obtain eight hours of sleep each night, go to bed and wake up at the same time at least five days a week. Sleep is the best healer. Sleep restores the worn-out tissue, lowers the danger of inflammation, and helps the body’s desperately required cell renewal.

If you are struggling with stress, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce it before it gets late, affecting your sexual health and mental well-being. Learn and adapt methods to deal with daily stress to live a happy life, not allowing stress to suppress your happy moments. (IANS)

15 Minutes of Exercise a Week Is Linked to a Longer Life

Squeezing exercise into a busy schedule can be tough. However, new research suggests that doing just 15 minutes of physical activity over the course of a week is linked to a lower risk of dying prematurely compared to not exercising at all—as long as the movement gets your heart pumping.

In the study, published Oct. 27 in the European Heart Journal, researchers used a data set to track nearly 72,000 people in the U.K., who were ages 40 to 69 and didn’t have cardiovascular disease or cancer when they enrolled, for about seven years. The researchers zeroed in on a week at the start of the study during which everyone wore an activity tracker on their wrist. People who did no vigorous activity during that week had a 4% risk of dying sometime during the study, but for people who got at least 10 minutes, that risk was cut in half. Among people who got 60 minutes or more, that risk fell to 1%. Overall, the researchers estimated that getting 15 to 20 minutes a week of vigorous physical activity was linked to a reduction in the risk of dying by 16% to 40%.

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It comes as no surprise that the more time people spent doing vigorous physical activity, the greater the longevity benefit. But the “sweet spot” where people benefited the most was about 60 minutes a week, says Matthew Ahmadi, a research fellow at the University of Sydney in Australia and lead author of the study. (That’s not to say exercise beyond an hour was necessarily worse, noted Ahmadi; because the study didn’t include many people who got more vigorous physical activity, potential maximum benefits of getting more intense physical activity are unknown.)

Even if people don’t have the time to go to the gym, the study shows it’s possible to get health benefits from day-to-day activities because short-duration exercise can add up, says Ahmadi. He suggests picking up your pace or working more intensely at things you already do—for instance, walking, gardening, or even doing chores. “Any physical activity a person is doing provides an opportunity to do vigorous physical activity, if they can do the activity at a faster pace or higher intensity for just short periods of time,” he says. What counts as vigorous physical activity varies depending on your level of fitness, he notes, but a good sign that you’re doing it is having difficulty holding a conversation.

A similar observational study, also published Oct. 27 in the European Heart Journal by a different group of researchers, also suggests that the intensity of physical activity—not just the time spent moving—is important to reduce cardiovascular disease. In the study, which also looked at adults of the same age in the same U.K. data set, researchers tracked about 88,000 people for about seven years.

After analyzing data from the week during which people used activity trackers, researchers found that doing physical activity with greater intensity was linked to a reduction in people’s cardiovascular-disease, even without increasing the amount of time people exercised. For example, people who walked quickly for seven minutes instead of slowly for 14 minutes during that week had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease later on. 

The studies were both observational, which means that the research can’t prove that physical activity was the reason why people who did it lived longer—or had less cardiovascular disease—than those who didn’t. The week of physical activity was also just a snapshot in time, and people’s habits may have changed later. However, other studies have also found that short bursts of movement can reduce risk of death. One 2011 study published in the Lancet found that just 15 minutes of physical activity a day could reduce the risk of early death. A 2014 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that just 5 to 10 minutes a day of running could reduce early death from any cause.

The new research doesn’t mean the total time you spend moving isn’t important, says Paddy Dempsey, an author of the cardiovascular-disease study and a research fellow at the University of Cambridge. People with the very lowest rates of cardiovascular disease got more physical activity overall and got the most moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Although any movement is valuable, Dempsey says, if you’re strapped for time, “adding in a bit of intensity can provide unique health benefits, while also potentially making workouts more time efficient.” (Source: TIME.COM)

8 Types Of ‘Difficult’ People—And Passive-Aggressive Is The ‘Absolute Worst’

Having to work with frustrating people is simply part of life. You can’t escape them. But you also don’t have to grin and bear the stress as if you have no choice.

While researching for my new book, “Getting Along,” I identified eight types of difficult people. The first step to effectively handling these annoying colleagues is to know exactly what kind of person you’re dealing with.

The 8 types of difficult people

  1. The Passive-Aggressive is the absolute worst on this list because they are the most common. They’ll appear to comply with the needs of others, but will then passively resist following through. Or they might use indirect methods to express their thoughts and feelings, so their intentions are never entirely clear.
  2. The Insecure Boss might be a micromanager who drives you up a wall with incessant nitpicking. Or they might be a paranoid meddler who makes you question your every move. They may even intentionally hurt your career if they perceive you as a threat.
  3. The Pessimist constantly points out all the ways something can fail. It sometimes seems like they can never find anything positive to say.
  4. The Victim is a type of pessimist who feels like everyone is out to get them. They don’t take accountability for their actions, and they’ll quickly point their fingers at other people when things go wrong. 
  5. The Know-It-All is convinced that they’re the smartest person in the room, hogs airtime, and has no qualms about interrupting others. They gleefully inform you of what’s right, even if they’re clearly wrong. 
  6. The Tormentor is someone who has earned their way to the top, typically making sacrifices along the path — only to mistreat others below them. They might be a senior colleague who you expect to be a mentor, but who ends up making your life miserable instead.
  7. The Biased knowingly or unknowingly commits microaggressions. No matter what they think their intention is with these comments, their behavior is inappropriate and harmful.
  8. The Political Operator is laser focused on advancing their own career — but at your expense. Of course, engaging in office politics is often unavoidable, but this person is fixated on getting ahead and has a take-no-prisoners approach to doing so. 
Picture: CNBC

How to handle passive-aggressive behavior at work

Passive aggression is one of the most frustrating behaviors I see in offices because it can be so hard to pin down and ultimately fix.

But there are some tips you can use to nudge your colleague to interact with you in a more productive, straightforward way.

  1. Don’t label them as “passive-aggressive.”

Don’t label them as “passive-aggressive.”

Illustration: Ash Lamb for CNBC Make It

“Stop being so passive aggressive!” is a loaded phrase that will only make things worse. I’d be shocked if your colleague said, “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll stop.”

It’s more likely that this request would make them even more angry and defensive, which will stop any sort of positive communication in its tracks.

  1. Focus on the content, not the delivery.

Focus on the real concern or question hidden behind the snarky comments.

Before reacting to a passive aggressive comment, ask yourself: What is the underlying idea they’re attempting to convey? Do they think that the way you’re running a project isn’t working? Or do they disagree with the team’s goals?

If you can focus on the real concern or question hidden beneath that snarky comment, you can find a way address the actual problem in a way that works for everyone.

  1. Figure out what the other person cares about.

Of course, you still may not fully understand what your coworker wants. But spend some time thinking about possible explanations. Just like during negotiations, assess the other person’s interests. What do they care about? What do they want to achieve?

Then do what psychology professor Gabrielle Adams calls “hypothesis testing”: Ask — respectfully and without judgment — about what’s going on. You might say, “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been responding to my emails. Is there something wrong?”

  1. Call attention to what’s happening.

With this tactic, it’s best to stick to facts — the things you know for sure — without emotion or exaggeration.

For example: “You said you wanted to help with this project and you haven’t joined the three meetings we’ve had so far. You also didn’t respond to the email I sent last week about next steps.”

Then explain how their actions affected you: “I’m disappointed and stressed out because I’m not able to do all of the work myself, and I had hoped to have your help.”

Finally, the tricky part: Make a straightforward request. “If you’re still interested in helping out, and I hope you are, I’d like you to attend the meetings. If not, I need to know so I can find an alternative solution.” 

Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review and a co-host of HBR’s Women at Work podcast. She is the author of “Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People)” and the “HBR Guide to Dealing With Conflict.” Follow her on Twitter @amyegallo.

Ash Lamb is an illustrator and designer based in Barcelona, Spain. He spends his time deconstructing and illustrating ideas for creative entrepreneurs. He also teaches people from all around the world how to create impactful visuals at Follow Ash on Twitter and Instagram. (Source: Harvard)

Relationships Evolving Among People In India

With the large youth population and their divergent views on romantic relationships, the idea of relationships and marriage in India has undergone a significant change in recent years.

The foundation of a romantic relationship has long been based on the institution of marriage, particularly in Indian society. Because of how dependent men and women were on one another in marriage, this constitution has endured for years despite all challenges, no matter how big or small. The youth of today are self-sufficient in all facets of life, financially, emotionally, and mentally. The need to be dependent on a partner is gradually vanishing, and both men and women are open to relationships without boundaries.

Technology has a significant influence on how people view relationships today. People no longer value the perseverance and effort it takes to build a meaningful relationship because everything, from food to information to dating, is just a click away. They view it as a waste of time if it takes longer to accomplish the goal. Relationships and all other facets of life have been influenced by this mindset. Despite little sacrifice, people still desire love. Still seeking harmony, but with few concessions. Today, a lot of people in India date multiple people without taking the time to get to know them. At the first sign of “incompatibility,” they move on to the next person, looking for the unique chemistry that only exists in rom-coms.

Due to this behaviour, marriages are no longer seen as the throne of a stable relationship and the idea of monogamy sounds like a crisis. Everyone loves the idea of falling in love, but very few people are willing to put in the effort necessary to achieve it, and those who do tend to get easily bored. This causes a lot of disappointment and resentment in those who are already married, which fuels an increase in extramarital affairs. For individuals who fit this description, there’s a good chance that marriage took place either too soon in their lives, leaving them with a fear of not having had other romantic experiences or a need to try them right away. Some people wonder or worry that they are with the wrong person because they feel it.

These individuals have always been present in Indian society, and on a large scale. In January 2020 Gleeden – an extramarital dating app presented a study, conducted by IPSOS, about the state of Infidelity in India. According to the results gathered by IPSOS, 55 per cent Indians had already been unfaithful to their current partner at least once at the time of the interview out of which 54 per cent were men and 56 per cent were women. This is shows exactly the state of a “happily ever after” marriage in India. The important question to decode here is if someone is unhappy in their marriage why not just break it off, move on and divorce your partner?

The truth is that not many people still have the courage to end a long-term marriage with a separation or divorce. Dust is still swept under the carpet, as preferred. Thus, Gleeden-like apps have enjoyed tremendous success in India. Most of their users come from highly affluent backgrounds. Professionals with college degrees and high-paying jobs are both men and women. There are also many housewives among the engineers, business owners, consultants, managers, and executives. In terms of age, men tend to be over 35 while women tend to be over 26.

Sharing about this shift in monogamy and infidelity in Indians, Sybil Shiddell, Country Manager India for Gleeden said: “The Indian society has been very quiet on matters related to marriage for many years but 2022 has seen a lot of people starting to embrace the concept that monogamy is not forcefully the only way, and more and more couples are opening their marriages to adventure and experimentation. However, it is important to understand that there could be multiple reasons behind infidelity and it does not always depend on the behaviour of the spouse. Mostly, people cheat because they feel something is missing in their life and they fancy a new adventure. For some people, cheating could also be beneficial to the couple and add some spiciness to their marriage. An IPSOS study, as well as some internal surveys, found out that physical attraction and sex, lack of attention from the current partner and desire for a blowing romance are the most common drives that lead to an extramarital affair.”

She adds: “Even as we speak about people and their desires, there isn’t a one-fits-all formula. Everything depends on the individuals and the reasons behind infidelity. In the ideal world, transparency and consent should be the preconditions: both people involved in an extramarital relationship must know that one of them (or both) is married and that they would want to stay that way making this new relationship always secondary. There should be these predefined rules like we have on Gleeden: a dating app devoted to extramarital dating, where conditions and expectations are all in the “open”. The intent is clear and there is no room for misinterpretation. This doesn’t happen on traditional dating apps, where one can pretend to be single and easily lie to their dates about the marital status and real intent of that encounter.” (IANS)

How COVID-19 Changed Life Expectancy Rates Around The World

COVID-19 has caused an inordinate number of deaths around the world so far, causing life-expectancies to plunge. Historically, countries have recovered from other so-called “mortality shocks,” such as the 1918 flu and two world wars, within one to two years. But the shock of the pandemic is enduring in many places.

A study published Oct. 17 in Nature Human Behavior reviewed life-expectancy trends in 29 countries during 2021, building on previous data the scientists had analyzed from 2020, and found that COVID-19 continued to account for most life-expectancy losses in 2021. But those life-expectancy losses from the pandemic are dissipating in some countries with relatively high rates of vaccination and infection-derived immunity, which both contribute to lower COVID-19 deaths. 

Four countries in western Europe—Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Sweden—have fully restored their population’s life expectancy back to pre-pandemic levels, and four others have nearly done so, while other countries did not experience additional losses in 2020 compared to 2021. But the U.S. and 11 countries, including many in eastern Europe, continue to record excess mortality.

“We found it was indeed possible for nations to recover from drastic and historic life-expectancy losses,” says Jonas Scholey, research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for demographic research and co-author of the paper. “But within our sample, it was not the norm.”

The reasons for disparities among the countries, not surprisingly, has to do with how resilient their health-care systems are at bouncing back from the burden of caring for COVID-19 patients. It also relates to the countries’ underlying health trends that had been in place before the pandemic.

Since COVID-19 hit people ages 60 and older particularly hard, the countries that recovered best were those that lowered excess mortality among this population most quickly, through successful vaccination campaigns and the capacity to provide antiviral treatments and intensive care. Belgium, which showed the most impressive recovery out of any country studied, was particularly strong in these areas; for people 60 and older, life-expectancy rates dropped about a year in 2020 but went up by about 10 months in 2021, nearly returning to 2019 levels.

The U.S. also improved mortality rates among the elderly in 2021, but those gains were offset by increases in deaths among younger populations, including from gun violence and opioid overdoses. On top of deaths caused by COVID-19, deaths related to other chronic conditions, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, also continued to increase, keeping mortality among working-age populations high. Overall, life expectancy in the U.S. dropped by more than two years during the pandemic compared to 2019 levels.

In eastern Europe, persistent losses in life expectancy are likely due to fractured health-care systems that still have not recovered from the overwhelming impact of the pandemic, says Scholey. “I’m not at all optimistic about how fast health-care systems can regenerate from the shock they had to absorb over the past 2.5 years,” he says. “By that I mean people in the health care system as well; some have resigned and others suffer from burnout, and this has an effect on what health systems can do.” Many countries in eastern Europe showed deeper life-expectancy losses in 2021 than in 2020; the populations of Bulgaria and Slovakia, for example, both lost about two years in 2021 due to COVID-19, which is higher than the 18-month and 9-month deficits they recorded, respectively, in 2020.

It’s still too early to determine how big an impact the pandemic will have on life-expectancy long term. It’s also impossible at this point to assess the impact of delayed health care for conditions like cancer and heart disease, which may have an eventual effect on mortality. Experts expect the consequences of people skipping or not getting treatments because of COVID-19 to emerge in mortality and life-expectancy trends in the next few years.

Still, with more of the world’s population now vaccinated, it’s possible that in the coming year, some of the life-expectancy losses in countries could begin to reverse, says Scholey. “I am cautiously optimistic that the excess deaths this winter [from COVID-19] won’t be as pronounced in many countries as they have been over the last two years. But with a virus as unpredictable as SARS-CoV-2, “we’ll have to see.” (TIME.COM)

7 Surprising Health Benefits Of Gratitude

Now is the season to think about what makes you most thankful, but research supports making it a year-round habit. Many studies have found there are benefits of gratitude — both mental and physical — and all it takes to enjoy them is a little bit of introspection.

Here are seven surprising benefits of practicing gratitude.

Gratitude can make you more patient

Research from Northeastern University has found that people who felt grateful for little, everyday things were more patient and better able to make sensible decisions, compared to those who didn’t feel very gracious on a day-to-day basis. When 105 undergraduate students were asked to choose between receiving a small amount of money immediately or a larger sum at some point in the future, for example, the students who had shown more gratitude in earlier experiments were able to hold out for more cash.

Gratitude might improve your relationship

According to a study in the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology, feeling grateful toward your partner — and vice versa — can improve numerous aspects of your relationship, including feelings of connectedness and overall satisfaction as a couple. “Having a partner that’s grateful for you or you being grateful for the other” can both help your love life, says Emma Seppälä, a happiness researcher at Stanford and Yale Universities and author of The Happiness Track. (Seppälä wasn’t involved with the research.)

Gratitude improves self-care

In a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers asked people to rate their levels of gratitude, physical health and psychological health, as well as how likely they were to do wellbeing-boosting behaviors like exercise, healthy eating and going to the doctor. They found positive correlations between gratitude and each of these behaviors, suggesting that giving thanks helps people appreciate and care for their bodies.

Gratitude can help you sleep

“Count blessings, not sheep,” Seppälä says. Research in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research has found that feeling grateful helps people sleep better and longer. That’s likely because “you have more positive thoughts before you go to sleep,” says Seppälä (who wasn’t involved in the study), which may soothe the nervous system. If you’re going to make a daily gratitude list, Seppälä recommends writing it before bed.

Gratitude may stop you from overeating

“Gratitude replenishes willpower,” says Susan Peirce Thompson, a cognitive scientist who specializes in the psychology of eating. The concept is similar to the Northeastern research that found a connection between gratitude and patience: Thompson says cultivating feelings of gratitude can boost your impulse control, helping you slow down and make better decisions. If you find yourself taking slice after slice of pumpkin pie, for example, Thompson recommends excusing yourself from the table to jot down a quick list of things you’re grateful for, which can help you clear your mind and reset.

Gratitude can help ease depression

Thompson, the cognitive scientist, says experiments have shown that people whole partake in the “three good things” exercise — which, as the name suggests, prompts people to think of three good moments or things that happened that day — see considerable improvements in depression and overall happiness, sometimes in as little as a couple weeks. “If there were a drug that did that, whoever patented that drug would be rich,” Thompson says. “Gratitude is very powerful.”

Gratitude gives you happiness that lasts

Lots of things, from a compliment to a sugary treat, can bring little bursts of happiness. But instant gratification also goes away quickly, Seppälä explains, which leaves you craving more. “Gratitude is something that leads to much more sustainable forms of happiness, because it’s not based in that immediate gratification; it’s a frame of mind,” she says. If you regularly take time to express gratitude and thankfulness, you’re likely to see results.  (courtesy:

Researchers Find Ways To Help Teens Get More Sleep

By, Rush University Medical Center

Newswise — Adjusting to a new sleep schedule at the start of the school year can lead to disturbed rest, daytime fatigue and changes in mood and focus for teens. 

Although they need eight to 10 hours of sleep per night to maintain physical health, emotional well-being and school performance, according to the National Sleep Foundation and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, most adolescents get less than eight, especially on school nights.

Newly published research from RUSH in the journal SLEEP sheds light on how adolescents can get more shut-eye. 

“There are a lot of changes a teen goes through,” said Stephanie J. Crowley, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the director of the Pediatric Chronobiology and Sleep Research Program at RUSH. “One specifically is a change to sleep biology that happens during puberty.” 

“The brain systems that control sleep change in such a way that it’s easier for an adolescent to stay awake later into the evening. One of these systems — the 24-hour circadian clock — shifts later in time,” Crowley said. 

So there are two competing forces: one to go to bed earlier for the school schedule and the other a biological change that happens naturally to a teen’s body.

Because of this complex conflict, RUSH researchers set out to test a two-week intervention that targets the circadian system with different behavioral measures and tries to help the teens figure out a better nighttime routine. 

To combat teen sleep deprivation, the researchers used bright light therapy on two weekend mornings for a total of 2.5 hours. The bright light cues the internal clock to wake up a little earlier. This shift should make it easier for the teen to fall asleep at an appropriate time.

Less tired, irritable

Crowley and her team then helped counteract sleep deprivation by providing time management tools and addressing barriers to an earlier bedtime, like limiting certain after-school activities. 

Researchers were able to shift the teens’ bedtime by an hour and a half earlier, and their total sleep time increased by approximately an hour. 

“The interesting thing is that teens with late circadian clocks shifted by up to two hours earlier,” Crowley said. “And the teens who had an earlier circadian clock didn’t need to be shifted any earlier. They just needed the behavioral support of trying to manage their time in the evening and increase their sleep duration.” 

The researchers also found that the teens in the intervention group were less tired, less irritable and less worried, and they exhibited better concentration. The students’ morning alertness improved as well. 

The RUSH researchers are following the participants in another study to determine whether the adolescents were able to maintain their improved sleep routine.

India’s Supreme Court Liberalizes Abortion Law

(RNS) — Some three months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Americans’ constitutional right to abortion, India’s Supreme Court has delivered a landmark judgment declaring abortion legal up to 24 weeks.

The ruling supersedes a 1971 law that made abortion legal in India, but only under certain conditions that included risk to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, fetal abnormalities or the pregnancy being a result of rape or the failure of a birth control device. There were restrictions, however, on unmarried women.

Feminists in India welcomed last week’s ruling for embedding reproductive rights into its understanding of constitutional rights for women. Activists particularly applauded the court’s acknowledgement of marital rape, with the justices ruling that “due to a husband’s act of sexual assault or rape,” a woman “should not be compelled to give birth to and raise a child with a partner who inflicts mental and physical harm upon her.”

The judgment will have significant implications for the rights of not just India’s majority Hindu women, but also women belonging to Muslim, Christian and other minority faith groups.

But the ruling has a particular effect on Hindu Indians, who traditionally prefer male children and drive many sex-selective abortions in India, which are illegal. The medical journal Lancet has estimated that a third of all pregnancies in India are aborted illegally.  

According to the Pew Research Center, India’s population skyrocketed to 1.2 billion by 2011 from 361 million in the 1951 census. “Hindus make up 79.8% of India’s population and Muslims account for 14.2%; Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains account for most of the remaining 6%,” Pew said in 2021.

While there is no one Hindu religious view on abortion, as Hinduism brings together a wide variety of philosophies and beliefs, conservative Hindus tend to oppose abortion.

The Vedas, the ancient Hindu texts, portray abortion as a crime of the worst kind. Some ancient Sanskrit classical sources compare abortion to killing a priest, considered among the most heinous of crimes. One of the most ancient Vedas, the Rig Veda, describes abortion as equivalent to killing one’s parents. The Atharva Veda lists the “fetus slayer” among the greatest of sinners. An Ayurvedic medical text, the Sushruta Samhita Cikitsasthana says, “A woman becomes an outcast by procuring abortion.”

Yet beliefs about when life enters the fetus differ from text to text. Some of the classical texts say the embryo is an embodied soul from the point of conception. But some Hindu sources sanction and provide instruction about the termination of a pregnancy. Scholar Sandhya Jain has noted that there are Ayurvedic texts that not only offer prescriptions for contraception but also for how to end pregnancies.

Scholars caution against considering the views expressed in ancient texts as authoritative, saying that “Hindu ethics” are far from monolithic.

Shana Sippy, a scholar of Hindu and South Asian studies at Centre College, argues that the classical texts were written by and for culturally privileged Brahmin men. “Oppressed castes and women, among others,” Sippy said, are “seen as marginal and expendable.” The Vedas, therefore, “like many classical religious texts, have upheld forms of systemic oppression, at times even advocating physical violence against human beings it deems as marginal,” she said. 

Other Indian religious groups, such as Jains and Buddhists, don’t necessarily oppose abortion, though they may oppose it as an act of karma that can set back the progression of the soul in its endless journey toward salvation or freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Abortion is considered an act of violence that goes against the principle of “ahimsa,” or nonviolence. As a violent act toward a human being yet to be born, it would be considered an “unwholesome” act, explains Buddhist scholar Karma Lekshe Tsomo.

But, the effects of karma depend on the intention behind it. As Tsomo says, the karmic consequences of a surgeon’s mistake, whose patient dies on the operating table, is not the same as that of a robber who kills a person for greed.

The ancient Hindu texts emphasize the importance of saving the life of the mother. The Rig Veda says, “In an irredeemable situation, it is best to cause the miscarriage of the fetus, for no means must be neglected which can prevent the loss of the mother.”

Similarly, in Islam, women can seek abortion based on life circumstances, including financial. Above all, the Islamic tradition promotes mercy, and many Muslim jurists and bioethicists agree that abortion before 120 days of pregnancy is permissible on certain grounds.

The Supreme Court’s decision, going out of its way to address marital rape and specifying several categories of exceptions, seemed to conform to the idea that the legitimacy of abortion depends on circumstances, providing a counterweight in the world’s largest democracy to the recent tightening of restrictions in the world’s most prominent one.

A Good Marriage May Help You Live Longer. Here’s Why

By, Jamie Ducharme

If you have a happy marriage, “’til death do us part” may be a long ways off.

Married people who rated their unions as “very happy” or “pretty happy” had roughly 20% lower odds of dying early than people who said their marriages were “not too happy,” according to a recent study published in the journal Health Psychology. The work expands on existing studies that have linked marriage to a number of positive health outcomes, from a healthy heart to a trimmer waistline.

The study was based on interview responses from more than 19,000 married people up to age 90 who participated in the General Social Survey between 1978 and 2010. They were asked to rate the happiness and overall quality of their marriages, among other questions. The researchers then tracked their health and survival through 2014.

People who said they had “very happy” or “pretty happy” marriages were about 20% less likely to die during the time frame of the study compared to people who said they had “not so happy” marriages. That result held true even after adjusting for age, gender, race, education and geographic region. (The study didn’t look at how not-so-happily coupled folks fared compared to singles, nor did it account for changes in marital satisfaction over time.)

Study co-author Mark Whisman, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, says there are several ways that a good marriage seems to improve health. For one thing, married people may encourage their spouses to adopt healthy habits such as eating well, exercising and seeing a doctor regularly, Whisman says.

But there are also a number of ways that a supportive marriage seems to help psychological health, which also translates to physical well-being. In general, marriage “provides people with meaningful roles and identity, a purpose in life, a sense of security,” Whisman says. “Those kind of psychological factors might influence health.” Strong marriages in particular may improve “mental health and well-being, which we know is associated with physical health,” Whisman says.

Finally, Whisman says a happy marriage provides a degree of social support above and beyond even that provided by friends and family, and plenty of research shows that social support is integral to good health. “A high-quality marriage can serve as a buffer against chronic or acute stressors in life,” Whisman says. Married people just tend to spend a lot more time together than with anyone else, “so we think there’s something more specific about the marital relationship relative to other social relationships.”

That’s a heartening finding if your marriage is happy, but all that time together can backfire if your union isn’t so strong. Unhappy marriages have been linked to everything from a higher risk of heart disease to high blood pressure — so the health of your partnership could mirror your own wellbeing. (Courtesy: TIME)

East, South, West, Or North: What Is The Best Direction To Sleep?

“Interestingly, Anandakanda, an Ayurvedic text, mentions the directions in which one should sleep to enjoy a deep, restful sleep,” Dr Gopinath said.

Be it Ayurveda or modern science, experts constantly stress the need for a good night’s sleep for the healthy functioning of our mind and body. This is because lack of sleep can significantly impact your well-being and put you at risk of serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and mental health issues, among others. Apart from ensuring that you are sleeping an adequate number of hours, you must also pay special attention to the direction you are sleeping in, says Ayurveda.

Highlighting the importance Ayurveda places on sleep, Dr Arun Gopinath, Senior Medical Officer, Kerala Ayurveda said, “Farmers often leave their fields fallow, allowing the soil to regenerate and recoup its lost fertility. Sleep works in a similar manner – it is the period when we renew and revive our senses for a fresh start and a productive day. Sleep or nidra is highly vital in Ayurveda – so much that it is included in the three pillars of life or the Traya Upasthambhas along with food or Ahara and sexual conduct or Brahmacharya.”

He added that Acharya Charaka – one of the principal contributors to the ancient system of Ayurveda – hailed sleep as ‘Bhutadhathri‘, “indicating that restful sleep nourishes our body like a mother, or dhatri nourishes her child.”

However, despite its many benefits, many people struggle to get restful sleep. While we often blame lifestyle factors for it, little attention is paid to the direction we sleep in, which could have a significant impact on the quality of our sleep, and also our health. “Interestingly, Anandakanda, an Ayurvedic text, mentions the directions in which one should sleep to enjoy a deep, restful sleep,” Dr Gopinath said.

The best direction to sleep

According to Ayurvedic expert Dr Dixa Bhavsar Savaliya, one should sleep with their head facing south as it is considered the direction of deep, heavy sleep. “As South is negatively charged and your head is positively charged, there is a harmonious attraction between your head and the direction. Instead of energy being pulled out if you sleep with your head to the north, energy is drawn into your body promoting health, happiness and prosperity. That means you should sleep like a log with your head facing south,” she explained.

Agreeing, Dr Gopinath said: “In mythology, it is believed to be the direction of Lord Yama, meaning you will enjoy a night of uninterrupted sleep and longevity or deerghayu in this direction.”

A study, published in the National Library of Medicine, stated that hat those who were instructed to sleep with their head in the south direction for 12 weeks had the lowest systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and serum cortisol.

Worst direction to sleep

Is there a worst direction to sleep, too? Just like the south is considered to be the best direction to sleep in, Ayurvedic experts suggested avoiding facing north while sleeping. This is because “sleeping towards the north makes the positive pole of earth coincide with the positive pole of our body, which repels each other. You will, thus, have nightmares and disturbed sleep,” Dr Gopinath explained.

Dr Dixa added that, in this direction, you won’t get a restful night’s sleep and are likely to wake up exhausted from the unconscious war that’s been going on all night long. “This magnetism is understood, Ayurvedically, to affect blood circulation, stress and cause disturbance of the mind,” she said.

What about east and west?

Now that it is established that sleeping with your head towards south and north are the best and worst positions, respectively, let’s delve deeper into the remaining two directions and their effect on your sleep and, in turn, health.

East: This sleeping direction is considered beneficial for students as it is believed to be a memory enhancer. “As the sun rises in the east, this direction signifies rejuvenation and positive energy characterised by intellect and creativity,” Dr Gopinath said.

Dr. Dixa added that this direction helps improve concentration, and promotes meditative sleep and very good health.

West: Sleeping west, on other hand, is linked to an unsettled night’s sleep. “Vastu Shastra says that this is the direction of striving which could give you unsettling dreams and not a very restful night’s sleep,” she explained.

Additionally, sleeping with your head towards the west can lead to emotional distress, Dr Gopinath mentioned. “It increases Rajas or restlessness, and you may suffer from nightmares. But it also makes a person success-driven, so it is for those who want to succeed in life and are not bothered about their sleep quality,” he added.