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.


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.


3 Common Thinking Traps And How To Avoid Them, According To A Yale Psychologist

The mind is a tricky thing. It can lead us to believe that we can confidently sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” at karaoke even though we haven’t heard the song in years, or that one terrible review on Yelp is reason enough not to go to a 4-star rated restaurant.

These thinking errors are what people in the psychology community call cognitive biases. And that’s the focus of a new book out this month, Thinking 101: How to Reason Better to Live Better, by Yale psychology professor Woo-kyoung Ahn. In the book, Ahn highlights some of the most pernicious cognitive slip-ups we make — and how biases can cloud our judgment and affect the people around us.

Researchers suspect that many of these biases are evolutionary, says Ahn. During times of scarcity, our ancestors had to make quick judgments in order to survive among predators or thrive in a difficult environment. But in a time of abundance, she adds, these quick judgments don’t always do us good.

However, we can do our best to try to correct these thinking traps, says Ahn, which she teaches her students how to do in her popular undergraduate course at Yale. In general, she says, the key is to pause before making assumptions — and be aware of our tendencies for different kinds of bias.

This is known in the field of psychology as an “illusion of fluency,” which describes our tendency to be overconfident in our abilities without sufficient evidence. This can lead us, for example, to bungle career-altering presentations because of inadequate preparation, or dramatically underestimate the time it takes to complete projects.

In her class at Yale, Ahn uses an experiment to illustrate this phenomenon with her students. She shows them a dance clip from the song “Boy with Luv” by the K-pop group BTS. After watching six seconds of the easiest choreography moves over and over again, she invites the students who believe they have the dance down to do it themselves. One after another stumbles.

“People can have overconfidence about what they can accomplish by watching other people do it so fluently,” Ahn says. When the pros dance in a way that looks effortless, they think they can do it effortlessly too.

How to counteract it: You can correct this bias, she says, by doing what the Yale students did: Try it out yourself. It will quickly put any feelings of overconfidence to rest.

You can also fight this tendency by over-preparing and considering potential obstacles beforehand, says Ahn. For example, if you’re working on a home remodeling project for the first time and have no idea how long it will take, don’t try to guess. Talk to friends who went through a recent remodel or consult with a few contractors to understand how long the project might take and what problems may arise. The more information you have, the better and more accurately you can assess a situation.

The bias: We tend to fixate on the negative

The concept of “negativity bias” illustrates our propensity to weigh negative events a lot more heavily than an equal amount of positive events. It explains why a friend’s unenthusiastic review of an Oscar-nominated movie, for example, might spur you to watch something else. Or why you might be less inclined to hire a potential employee after hearing one negative thing about them, despite positive referrals.

Negativity bias can be dangerous because it can lead us to make the wrong choices. It can hold us back from making a decision about something, say a big purchase like a house, or even a political candidate, out of fear there was once a negative event associated with an otherwise good choice.

How to counteract it: When making a choice, play up the positive attributes of your options, says Ahn. Marketers use this tactic all the time. For example, instead of saying that ground beef contains 11% fat, they label it is as 89% lean. These are both true and accurate descriptions of the same product, but flipping the framing of it can make it a more attractive choice for buyers concerned with fat intake.

The bias: We cherry-pick data to fit our worldview

Ahn considers “confirmation bias” — the tendency to seek out or interpret information to support what we already believe — the worst bias of all. That’s because of its potential to lead us to miss an entire range of possibilities for ourselves and others.

Ahn and Matthew Lebowitz, a psychology professor at Columbia University, conducted an experiment in 2017 to illustrate the pitfalls of this bias. They gathered a group of participants and told some of them they had a genetic predisposition to depression – even though they did not. The results of that group’s depression self-assessments showed much higher levels of depression than people in a control group who were told they did not have the predisposition.

Because of confirmation bias, the participants who were told they had a genetic risk of depression retrieved “only the evidence that fit with that hypothesis,” says Ahn. And in doing so, they managed to convince themselves that they were actually depressed. The study shows that if we believe something is a fact, even if it isn’t, our mind can find information to support those views.

Now imagine this bias at work on a societal level. Ahn says it can lead to under- or over-representation in say, leadership in politics, business and other industries, which can feed gender or racial inequality.

She shares an example. Let’s say you’re a male scientist and you’re looking to hire other scientists to join your company. Because you see that the most prominent scientists in your field are currently men, you’ve convinced yourself that the next generation of great scientists will also be men. This colors your decision-making in hiring — and so you fill the positions with men.

That choice will continue to have a ripple effect, says Ahn. For others looking at the new hires, it might perpetuate the idea that “only men can be great scientists — and that’s exactly how prejudice and stereotypes get formed in society.”

How to counteract it: Allow yourself to examine all possible explanations before you make a judgment. For example, if an actor landed a part but her parents were also in the entertainment business, many of us might attribute her employment to nepotism. Since we’ve seen many examples of parents giving their kids a leg up in business or politics, another example of a child benefiting from their parents’ success would fit that theory.

But could it also be true that she gave the best audition? By looking at the issue from many different viewpoints – not just your own – it challenges your confirmation bias. And you might realize that perhaps there is another side to the story.

The audio portion of this episode was produced by Michelle Aslam. The digital story was edited by Malaka Gharib. (Courtesy: NPR)

Saudi Man Marries 53 Times In 43 Years

A Saudi man has claimed to tie the knot 53 times in 43 years to find “peace and stability”. Being called the ‘polygamist of the century’, the 63-year-old man said the reason behind his multiple marriages was his “search for a woman who could make him happy”, reported Gulf News.

According to the ‘polygamist’, he “tried to be fair to all his wives”.

Narrating his story, he said that “when I married for the first time, I did not plan to marry more than one woman because I was feeling comfortable and had children”.

The man, identified as Abu Abdullah, said that, however, after a while, due to certain “problems”, he decided to marry again at the age of 23.

He said that several issues erupted between him and his wives, prompting him to marry again. “I married 53 women over long periods. The first was when I was 20 years and she was six years older than me,” he was quoted in the article.

Abdullah said that his shortest spell of marriage was a one-night event. He added that “most of his marriages were to Saudi women”, but he has also married foreigners during his overseas business trips. “I used to stay for three to four months. So I married to protect myself from vice,” Abdullah said.

Meanwhile, the polygamist is reportedly now married to one woman. According to him, he does not plan to remarry.

Rise In Live-In Relationships Is Due To Use & Throw Culture

Matrimonial relationships in Kerala seem influenced by a consumer culture of “use and throw” which is evident from the rise in live-in relationships and divorce on flimsy or selfish grounds, the Kerala state high court has observed.

The Kerala High Court in India observed that matrimonial relationships appear to have been influenced by consumer culture of “use and throw”, which is evident from rise in live-in relationships in the state and the prevailing trend to opt for divorce on flimsy or selfish grounds.

The HC also said that the younger generation apparently views marriage as an “evil” to be avoided in order to enjoy a “free life” without any liabilities or obligations.

The HC dismissed a divorce plea of a man who abandoned his wife and three daughters after nine years of marriage subsequent to an alleged affair with another woman and said “courts cannot come to the aid of an erring person to legalize his activities, which are per se illegal”.

“Law and religion consider marriage as an institution by itself and parties to the marriage are not permitted to walk away from that relationship unilaterally, unless and until they satisfy the legal requirements to dissolve their marriage through a court of law or in accordance with the personal law which governs them,” the high court said.

The younger generation apparently views marriage as an evil to be avoided for enjoying a free life without any liabilities or obligations. “They would expand the word ‘WIFE’ as ‘Worry Invited For Ever’ substituting the old concept of “Wise Investment For Ever”

Mere quarrels, ordinary wear and tear of matrimonial relationships or casual outburst of some emotional feelings cannot be treated as cruelties warranting a divorce, the HC said.

“They would expand the word ‘WIFE’ as ‘Worry Invited For Ever’ substituting the old concept of ‘Wise Investment For Ever.’ The consumer culture of ‘use and throw’ seems to have influenced our matrimonial relationships also,” said the court.

“Live-in-relationships are on the rise, just to say goodbye when they fall apart,” a bench of Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Sophy Thomas said while dismissing a divorce plea of a man who abandoned his wife and three daughters after nine years of marriage subsequent to an alleged affair with another woman.

“They would expand the word ‘WIFE’ as ‘Worry Invited For Ever’ substituting the old concept of ‘Wise Investment For Ever.’ The consumer culture of ‘use and throw’ seems to have influenced our matrimonial relationships also,” said the court.

“Live-in-relationships are on the rise, just to say goodbye when they fall apart,” a bench of Justices A. Muhamed Mustaque and Sophy Thomas said while dismissing a divorce plea of a man who abandoned his wife and three daughters after nine years of marriage subsequent to an alleged affair with another woman.

The court said that law and religion consider marriage as an institution, and parties are not permitted to walk away from that relationship unilaterally, unless and until they satisfy the legal requirements to dissolve their marriage through a court of law.

What Doctors Wish Patients Knew About Loneliness And Health

Even though people are becoming more connected through social media and other outlets, the great irony is that many people still feel lonely. That loneliness, in turn, can have far-reaching implications on a person’s health and well-being. Loneliness as a public health issue has been intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing how to recognize loneliness and what can help patients overcome feeling lonely is key.

There’s a gap in feeling connected

“Loneliness is essentially the feeling of being uncomfortable or in distress when someone feels that there is a gap between the connection they would like and the connection they actually have,” said Dr. Bell Washington, adding that “you can be in a crowd full of people, you can know all of them, and you can still feel lonely.”

“So, you might have a lot of superficial social connections, but what you really want is something deeper—someone to know you on the inside,” she said. “It’s really based on perception of the difference between the relationship you’d like and the relationship that you have with others.”

Younger people are feeling lonelier

“Loneliness was already an epidemic of its own, but the global COVID-19 pandemic caused loneliness to increase substantially over the past few years,” said Dr. Bell Washington, who took a course during the last year of her MPH program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Medicine where she learned the serious complications of loneliness. “A 2021 online survey found that 36% of all Americans—which includes 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel ’serious loneliness.’”

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “found 63% of young adults also suffer significant symptoms of anxiety or depression,” she said. “That means we have a generation of young people hungry for deeper connection who often do not have the skills or opportunities to achieve it.”

“One’s 20s are filled with countless social expectations including separating from one’s nuclear family, finding a partner, developing a career and finding a ‘tribe,’” Dr. Bell Washington said. “For many this time is complicated by unrealistic social media lives which are often unattainable. That only amplifies the loneliness that young adults feel.”

Social isolation can play a role

“An individual experiencing loneliness will often describe feeling alone. This is distinct from social isolation where there is a paucity of social connectedness,” said Dr. Clark. “Social isolation can be a sequela of loneliness, but there are plenty of individuals who experience loneliness and are still socially connected.”

Additionally, “there are some people who I would consider socially isolated, but they feel perfectly fine with it,” said Dr. Bell Washington. “The pandemic revealed that though some people considered themselves loners, when they truly had to be alone all of the time (due to quarantine or isolation), they found out that they actually do value social connection, and would have preferred to be with other people.”

Social media affects loneliness

“We get these dopamine surges when someone likes our status,” said Dr. Clark, referring to a social media posting. Many, conversely, feel “sad or upset when they do not receive a certain number of likes or have over 1 million followers on their social media accounts.

“And if you’re having an identity crisis—and if you’re letting social media dictate who you are—that can create some loneliness,” he added. “We must be mindful of the psychiatric sequelae of loneliness. These include depression and anxiety.”

Everyone is at risk for loneliness

“We’re all at risk for loneliness in our lives,” said Dr. Clark. “There was a report that came out from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. It revealed that more than one-third of adults 45 or older reported feeling lonely and about a quarter of adults 65 or older were considered to be socially isolated.

“Social isolation in itself was associated with a 50% increased risk of developing a neurocognitive disorder and other serious medical conditions,” he added. “No one is immune to loneliness and social isolation, but there are certain groups who are at increased risk.”

“When we think about historically marginalized groups in terms of immigrants—as well as the LGBTQ+ community—those are groups that have been shown to be at high risk for loneliness and social isolation,” Dr. Clark said.

“Anyone can suffer from loneliness and the highest risk is for those who are not able to remedy the loneliness when they feel it,” Dr. Bell Washington echoed. She added, “The fear of being alone in your loneliness only makes the isolation worse. It is easy to feel you’re the only one who needs social connectedness, but that is not true. There is no shame in being lonely. We were built for connection.”

It’s linked to health complications

“There is some evidence to note that people who are experiencing social isolation and loneliness are at increased risk for premature death,” said Dr. Clark, adding that “social isolation and loneliness were associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% risk of stroke.”

“Now, I’m a romantic and a poet, and there’s something to be said about the broken heart—literally and figuratively speaking,” he said. “If you’re already feeling lonely, that’s going to impact your heart. If you’re feeling socially isolated, that’s going to impact your heart.”

Discrimination is also a factor

Looking at “immigrants and the LGBTQ+ group, why do these groups feel so isolated and lonely? Well, discrimination is a factor that can be a barrier for them being able to feel socially connected,” said Dr. Clark. “The other thing would be language barriers if we’re talking about immigrants where English is not their primary language.”

“It can be difficult to form relationships with others when historically marginalized groups continue to be stigmatized,” he said. “We have to acknowledge our implicit and explicit biases if we hope to seek to embrace humanity in the form of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Acknowledge how you’re feeling

“Sometimes we are in denial. When we’re in denial, it’s easy to avoid those feelings that we know are bubbling on the surface, but we just try to continue to suppress them,” said Dr. Clark. “If you are feeling lonely, the first thing is, acknowledge that, and then ask yourself: What is contributing to my loneliness?”

“Loneliness is not your fault. Social isolation is not your fault,” he said. “Because, again, there are probably precipitating and perpetuating factors that are contributing to these states of being.”

“We have to remember that we are enough and that we belong,” Dr. Clark said.

Related Coverage

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Everyone needs a support system

“If we’re wanting people to live longer, healthier lives, we have to be better about investigating how loneliness is impacting our communities,” said Dr. Clark. “Everybody needs a support system. Even the person who says that they have a shy temperament and they’re more introverted—they still need a support system.” “When we’re looking at our AMA declaring this as a public health issue, it speaks to the importance of advocating for connectedness for all communities that will enable them to flourish,” he said. “For example, supports systems are a positive, prognostic factor for individuals who are suffering from mental health conditions, substance-use disorders and personality disorders.”

“We have to make sure people have the available resources that will allow them to cultivate connectedness,” Dr. Clark said, adding that “these resources must be diverse, equitable and inclusive.”

Don’t minimize anyone’s struggle

“People assume if someone is doing well, making money and has a family that they can’t be lonely, but that is not true,” said Dr. Bell Washington. “We all benefit from having a deeper connection with others, no matter what stage of life we’re in.”

“We really can’t minimize anyone’s struggle, because we all have different difficulties that we’re coping with,” she said. “We are human, we have needs and we have a right to express those needs. We should always be kinder than necessary because you never know the hidden battles that people are going through.”

Take loneliness seriously

“Loneliness is something to be taken seriously,” said Dr. Bell Washington. Loneliness “can have serious mental and physical complications that worsen if ignored.” She added that, “social isolation and loneliness lead to higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, memory issues and even death.”

“It is not a sign of weakness. You do not have to be a superhero. You don’t have to be strong all of the time and there’s nothing wrong with desiring or seeking connections,” she said. “The same things we needed as little kids; we need as adults too. So, of course you need sleep, healthy food and physical activity, but you also need connection.”

“That connection looks different for different people. For some, it may be connection with a higher power,  family or friends,” Dr. Bell Washington said. “I advise all patients to make sure you are taking care of yourself and seek help if you need it.” Washington

Reach out to your physician for help

“If you notice that you are sad or worried more days than not, that would be a sign that you probably should check in with someone,” said Dr. Bell Washington. “In addition to confiding in a trusted family friend, I’d recommend reaching out to your personal physician.

“They can make sure you are not suffering from depression or other mood issues as a result of your loneliness,” she added. “Your doctor would be a great person because they can be sure to provide you some help as well.”

“Then obviously if you get to the point where you’re feeling so lonely and so isolated that you start feeling hopeless or suicidal, you should reach out to your doctor immediately,” Dr. Bell Washington said, noting “there’s also a new 988 mental health hotline. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence, please get help!”

(Two psychiatrists, AMA members share their thoughts on what patients need to know about loneliness as a public health issue. These AMA members are:

  • Tiffani Bell Washington, MD, MPH, an outpatient general, child and adolescent psychiatrist working with Centurion and also in private practice in North Carolina. She is an American Psychiatric Association delegate to the AMA Young Physicians Section, alternate delegate to the Section Council on Psychiatry and a member of the AMA Ambassador Program, which equips individuals with the skills and knowledge to confidently speak to the AMA’s initiatives and the value of AMA membership.
  • Frank Clark, MD, an adult outpatient psychiatrist at Prisma Health in Greenville, South Carolina, and associate clinical professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville. He is also an American Psychiatric Association delegate to the AMA Section Council on Psychiatry.)


Yoga Versus Democracy? What Survey Data Says About Spiritual Americans’ Political Behavior

(The Conversation) — As the United States gets less religious, is it also getting more selfish?

Historically, religious Americans have been civically engaged. Through churches and other faith-based organizations, congregants volunteer, engage in local and national civic organizations and pursue political goals.

Todaythe rise of a politically potent religious right over the past 50 years notwithstanding – fewer Americans identify with formal religions. Gallup found that 47% of Americans reported church membership in 2020, down from 70% in the 1990s; nearly a quarter of Americans have no religious affiliation.

Meanwhile, other kinds of meaningful practice are on the rise, from meditation and yoga to new secular rituals like Sunday assemblies “without God.” Between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of American adults who meditated rose from 4.1% to 14.2%, according to a 2018 CDC report. The number of those who practiced yoga jumped from 9.5% to 14.3%. Not everyone considers these practices “spiritual,” but many do pursue them as an alternative to religious engagement.

Some critics question whether this new focus on mindfulness and self-care is making Americans more self-centered. They suggest religiously disengaged Americans are channeling their energies into themselves and their careers rather than into civic pursuits that may benefit the public.

As sociologists who study religion and public life, we wanted to answer that question. We used survey data to compare how these two groups of spiritual and religious Americans vote, volunteer and otherwise get involved in their communities.

Spiritually selfish or religiously alienated?

Our research began with the assumption that moving from organized religious practices to spiritual practices could have one of two effects on greater American society.

Spiritual practice could lead people to focus on more selfish or self-interested pursuits, such as their own personal development and career progress, to the detriment of U.S. society and democracy.

This is the argument sociologist Carolyn Chen pursues in her new book “Work, Pray, Code,” about how meditators in Silicon Valley are re-imagining Buddhist practices as productivity tools. As one employee described a company mindfulness program, it helped her “self-manage” and “not get triggered.” While these skills made her happier and gave her “the clarity to handle the complex problems of the company,” Chen shows how they also teach employees to put work first, sacrificing other kinds of social connection.

Bringing spiritual practice into the office may give workers deeper purpose and meaning, but Chen says it can have some unintended consequences.

When workplaces fulfill workers’ most personal needs – providing not only meals and laundry but also recreational activities, spiritual coaches and mindfulness sessions – skilled workers end up spending most of their time at work. They invest in their company’s social capital rather than building ties with their neighbors, religious congregations and other civic groups. They are less likely to frequent local businesses.

Chen suggests that this disinvestment in community can ultimately lead to cuts in public services and weaken democracy.

Alternatively, our research posited, spiritual practices may serve as a substitute for religion. This explanation may hold especially true among Americans disaffected by the rightward lurch that now divides many congregations, exacerbating cultural fissures around race, gender and sexual orientation.

“They loved to tell me my sexuality doesn’t define me,” one 25-year-old former evangelical, Christian Ethan Stalker, told the Religion News Service in 2021 in describing his former church. “But they shoved a handful of verses down my throat that completely sexualize me as a gay person and … dismissed who I am as a complex human being. That was a huge problem for me.”

Engaged on all fronts

To answer our research question about spirituality and civic engagement, we used a new nationally representative survey of Americans studied in 2020.

We examined the political behaviors of people who engaged in activities such as yoga, meditation, making art, walking in nature, praying and attending religious services. The political activities we measured included voting, volunteering, contacting representatives, protesting and donating to political campaigns.

We then compared those behaviors, distinguishing between people who see these activities as spiritual and those who see the same activities as religious.

Our new study, published in the journal American Sociological Review, finds that spiritual practitioners are just as likely to engage in political activities as the religious.

After we controlled for demographic factors such as age, race and gender, frequent spiritual practitioners were about 30% more likely than nonpractitioners to report doing at least one political activity in the past year. Likewise, devoted religious practitioners were also about 30% more likely to report one of these political behaviors than respondents who do not practice religion.

In other words, we found heightened political engagement among both the religious and spiritual, compared with other people.

Our findings bolster similar conclusions made recently by sociologist Brian Steensland and his colleagues in another study on spiritual people and civic involvement.

Uncovering the spiritual as a political force

The spiritual practitioners we identified seemed particularly likely to be disaffected by the rightward turn in some congregations in recent years. On average, Democrats, women and people who identified as lesbian, gay and bisexual reported more frequent spiritual practices.

We suspect these groups are engaging in American politics in innovative ways, such as through online groups and retreats that re-imagine spiritual community and democratic engagement.

Our research recognizes progressive spiritual practitioners as a growing but largely unrecognized, underestimated and misunderstood political force.

In his influential book “Bowling Alone,” Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam suggests American religious disaffiliation is part of a larger trend of overall civic decline. Americans have been disengaging for decades from all kinds of civic groups, from bowling leagues and unions to parent-teacher organizations.

Our study gives good reason to reassess what being an “engaged citizen” means in the 21st century. People may change what they do on a Sunday morning, but checking out of church doesn’t necessarily imply checking out of the political process.

Jaime Kucinskas does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

(Evan Stewart, Assistant Professor of Sociology, UMass Boston. Jaime Kucinskas, Associate Professor of Sociology, Hamilton College. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

Women Have More Sex Partners Than Men In Several Indian States

The National Family Health Survey which was conducted among 1.1 lakh women and 1 lakh men showed that the number of sex partners on average for women was higher than men in many states and Union territories.

Women on average have more sex partners than men in 11 states and UTs but the percentage of men who had sexual intercourse with someone who was neither their spouse or lived with stood at 4 per cent, much higher than that of women at 0.5 per cent, according to the NFHS data.

The National Family Health Survey which was conducted among 1.1 lakh women and 1 lakh men showed that the number of sex partners on average for women was higher than men in many states and Union territories.

These states and UTs are Rajasthan, Haryana, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu. Rajasthan had the highest number of women who had on an average 3.1 sex partners as against the 1.8 for men.

But the percentage of men who had sexual intercourse with someone who was neither their spouse or live-in partner, in the 12 months preceding the survey, stood at 4 per cent. For women, the number stood at 0.5 per cent.

A marginally larger share of rural women than urban women and those currently married than of those never married, divorced, widowed, or separated said they had sex with two or more partners in the 12 months preceding the survey.

However, according to the NFHS data, a larger population of men (3.6%) than women(0.5%) have had sexual intercourse with those who were neither their spouses nor those with whom they have lived together just 12 months before the survey.

The National Family Health Survey-5 conducted during 2019-21 surveyed 707 districts of the country from 28 States and eight UTs. The national report also provides data by socio-economic and other background characteristics, useful for policy formulation and effective programme implementation.

Half Of Fatal Cancer Cases Linked To Avoidable Risk Factors

Almost half of all cancers that lead to death can be attributed to risk factors that are avoidable, a new study found, with researchers advising that governments invest in supporting environments that minimize exposure to certain cancer risk factors.

The study, which looked at cancer cases from 2019 and was published in The Lancet, found that 44 percent of cancer deaths were what researchers referred to as risk-attributable cancer deaths, meaning cancers that could be linked to higher exposure to certain risk factors for the disease.

On a global scale, the leading risk factors were smoking, alcohol and high BMI in descending order. These risk factors were the same for both male and female patients.

The same study found that 42 percent of cancer-related disability-adjusted life-years — the number of years lost to not living at full health or with a disability — could be attributed to risk factors.

The burden of risk-attributable cancers varied across regions, with smoking, unsafe sex and alcohol being the leading risk factors in lower-income, socially disadvantaged countries. Higher-income countries tended to reflect the global risk factors, according to researchers.

“Although some cancer cases are not preventable, governments can work on a population level to support an environment that minimises exposure to known cancer risk factors,” researchers said.

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“Primary prevention, or the prevention of a cancer developing, is a particularly cost-effective strategy, although it must be paired with more comprehensive efforts to address cancer burden, including secondary prevention initiatives, such as screening programmes, and ensuring effective capacity to diagnose and treat those with cancer.”

Researchers noted that “substantial progress” has been made in reducing tobacco exposure, particularly through interventions like taxation, regulations and smoke-free policies globally. Similar efforts have been made to address risks such as alcohol use and unsafe sex.

“Behavioural risk factors are strongly influenced by the environment in which people live and individuals with cancer should not be blamed for their disease,” said researchers.

Technology Promises To Change The Meaning Of Death — At Least For Some

When artificial kidneys were first used as a medical tool in 1945, it became unnervingly clear that human organs, until then essential to the human makeup, were replaceable. Soon after, hearts — once thought to be the linchpin of humanity — were quickly substituted by external devices, supplanting the inexplicable complexity of human muscle with far simpler, synthetic parts.

This month, a team of Yale scientists partially revived the cellular function of pigs a full hour after the animals’ brain and cardiac waves had flatlined. With the help of their OrganEx system, they restored some cellular activity in the pigs’ hearts, livers and — most meaningfully to bioethical discussions — brains. Though the pigs did not regain consciousness, the Yale researchers demonstrated that vital organs may remain treatable for longer than most scientists have suspected. While this finding doesn’t yet have clinical applications, it may soon offer a new challenge to medical claims about where life ends and death begins.

The pigs had been dead for an hour. Scientists made their hearts beat again.

The brain is the last human organ whose parts cannot be replaced synthetically: As philosopher Daniel Dennett writes, brain transplants are the one kind of operation where one should wish to be on the donating side. If at one point our hearts epitomized the singularity of humans, today the gooey, floating mass within our skulls delineates what we understand as human life.

Until the middle of the 20th century, a patient could be pronounced dead without debate if her heart stopped and her lungs ceased to function. But new ventilators and defibrillators meant that checking for rising, falling or fluttering chests was no longer a valid way to diagnose death. In the late 1960s, physicians who were concerned about the viability of transplantable organs proposed a new metric for thinking about our mortality, one focused on brain death rather than on the functioning of other organs. Their approach soon took hold, and when today’s physicians record their patients’ time of death, they mean the moment when medical devices can no longer register or restore consciousness.

As Harvard bioethicist Robert Truog suggests, what we formally call “death” consists “more of a moral judgment than a biological fact.” In other words, brain death is less the point at which an organism is definitively gone and more an arbitrary limit, designed to permit legal and medical systems to move on. Though there are no properly documented cases of recovered consciousness after a correct brain death diagnosis, Truog predicts that medical advances may at some point preclude us from using the term “brain death” as a legally binding elision with what the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics defines as “human death”: the irreversible cessation of the “fundamental work of a living organism.”

Green burials can change our relationship with death

With the successful revival of some brain and cardiac cellular activity in mammals, the day when medical technologies will again force us to update our definition of human death looms slightly closer.

This promise is at once thrilling and terrifying. If we extrapolate on the potential of the Yale team’s OrganEx system, we may eventually be capable of reviving silent brains and restarting organs that once would have been considered irreversibly dead. (As it turns out, “irreversibly dead” is not a pleonasm.) In just a few decades, we may be forced to acknowledge that death isn’t a biological absolute so much as an administrative process. Death certificates might indicate that the deceased’s family couldn’t afford to reboot their loved one — or to preserve their body long enough to let such technologies take hold. With advancements in cryonics and emerging technologies such as OrganEx, this is no longer just a science fiction hypothetical but a reality conceivable within our century.

The distinction between life and death, in other words, might become a more painful sort of moral judgment: a matter of who can afford to keep a body functioning. In such a future, health inequities would be exacerbated; the wealthy could repeatedly forestall their death, while those least well-off would be forced to accept an indeed “irreversible cessation” of their bodily functions. The fact, however, is that this future shouldn’t sound unfamiliar to those least well-off today. In 2022, a person dies almost every hour while waiting for an organ transplant. Patients of color are especially vulnerable to such deaths, having fewer systemic chances to delay their fate.

The notion that death could be, and sometimes is, an administrative hurdle — the result of missing ventilators, organs or, in the future, superior but expensive OrganEx devices — makes funerals difficult to swallow. We might ask whether we should continue to develop life-extending technologies if they risk exacerbating our already horrifying inequities.

The answer, I suggest, is yes. In the 1940s, the vast majority of patients with failing kidneys did not have access to dialysis — though some exceptionally well-off, well-connected or simply lucky ones did. Since then, millions of low-income patients have been saved because we accepted this period of inaccessibility. In 2022, artificial kidneys are far from equitably distributed, with those who lack health insurance often unable to afford them. Yet the only way of increasing access to cutting-edge medical interventions is by encouraging more funding for them — even if this temporarily worsens disparities.

If the philosopher William MacAskill is right — and if we do our part to ensure we have a future to look forward to — humanity is only entering its adolescence and has a moral obligation to improve the lives of future generations. In fact, with the current pace of technological advancement, it is not implausible that these futuristic, life-extending medical technologies may become available for low-income people alive today. And one might argue that the fastest, most ethically permissible way of lowering the price of extraordinary medical therapies is by having the wealthy subsidize them as initial customers, as philosopher John Rawls implies.

DNA testing is radically reshaping the definition of family

DNA sequencing is a case in point: The first incomplete sequence cost $2.7 billion in 2003 and offered no clinical relevance. In 2011, Steve Jobs paid $100,000 to learn his genome sequence and his tumors’ genes, without encouraging results. Today, thanks at least in part to Harvard geneticist George Church, who advocated for the democratization of genome sequencing since the 1990s, it is the upper-middle-class American’s $299 go-to Christmas present and is only beginning to provide clinical benefits. Tomorrow, insurance companies and European governments may offer DNA sequencing free of charge, allowing vulnerable populations to benefit from this once-luxurious tool.

The practice of forestalling death is as old is it is undivorceable from the concept of medicine. As history shows, today’s extraordinary measures will simply be tomorrow’s measures, saving the lives of real humans, both rich and poor. This will remain true even when we again tweak our definition of where life ends and death begins. (Courtesy: Washington Post)

Indian American Creators Put A New Spin On Arranged Marriage

Visibly frustrated, matchmaker Sima Taparia recounts her struggle to an “Indian Matchmaking” producer: She has been tasked with finding potential partners for a 30-something Indian man living in Nashik, a few hours outside of Mumbai, but women of his generation would rather live in a bustling metropolis than this quieter part of the country. Thirty years ago, Sima reminisces, she followed her husband to Nashik and fell in love with the warmth of its people. Why hasn’t anyone done the same for Akshay Dhumal?

“Akshay’s charming, handsome. Parents are good. He’s loaded with money. He has a good business, good education. Everything is there,” she says. “But the girls, they do not want to go to Nashik.”

Generational differences often pose challenges to Sima, whose downsized presence in the new season of the Netflix reality series hints at the evolving landscape of arranged marriage. When the show premiered two years ago, it set off a flurry of takes in South Asian communities: Some criticized how it painted the culture as “burdensome,” while others described it as “telling it like it is.” Sima’s strong-willed client Aparna Shewakramani became a fan favorite for refusing to contort herself to fit other people’s expectations.

The determined independence exhibited by Aparna — as well as by the women who refuse to abandon their big-city lives — is also a central component of two other recent South Asian-led projects on Netflix: the romantic comedy “Wedding Season” and the comedy series “Never Have I Ever,” which released a new season Friday. All three were created by Indian Americans and explore the growing sense of autonomy exercised by the people for whom matches are sought, whether in India or as part of the diaspora. Ultimately, the power lies with them.

“In America, you feel tired of being asked about arranged marriage,” said “Wedding Season” writer Shiwani Srivastava. “But on the flip side, you realize people have a gross misunderstanding of it.”

Following in the footsteps of its rom-com forebears, the “Wedding Season” screenplay began with a trope: Protagonists Asha (Pallavi Sharda) and Ravi (Suraj Sharma) would pretend to date, but … to what end? Srivastava, 40, pulled from her life years before, when she attended weddings on an almost biweekly basis. Maybe Asha and Ravi want to throw nosy aunties off the scent. If they “dated” each other, neither one would be pestered into going out with a close friend of someone’s second cousin, twice removed.

In the film, Asha, a certified girlboss, starts to resent the expectation that she entertain those matchmaking efforts. She challenges her parents to consider that she can support herself and may never want to get married. In writing immigrant parents who presumably came to the United States in the 1970s or ’80s, Srivastava made sure to include a line in which Asha’s father, Vijay (Rizwan Manji), observes that his daughter seems to believe her parents’ mentality is straight from the India of 40 years ago.

“I think it does happen. It’s been documented across different immigrant communities: You bring your way of thinking from certain points of time and transplant it in America,” the screenwriter said. “It evolves in America but, meanwhile, India is evolving in parallel. We’re not the same. We’re different cultures.”

Srivastava underscored that “Wedding Season,” set in her home state of New Jersey, depicts “a very specific Indian American experience for millennials who were born to this wave of immigrants.” The disclaimer could be even more precise. Similar to “Never Have I Ever” — and, to some extent, this season of “Indian Matchmaking” — the film doesn’t delve into factors such as caste or colorism, both of which can heavily influence the matchmaking process. All three projects feature heterosexual Indian couples as well, for the most part from middle- or upper-class Hindu families.

These grains of salt might be implied with a Netflix rom-com, a genre hardly expected to answer for societal shortcomings. Srivastava didn’t set out with the intention to provide commentary on arranged marriage; Ravi, for instance, never hesitates to go out with someone of his parents’ choosing. Srivastava said it was a framework she used to highlight the courage it takes for two people to embrace what they truly desire in life. Although Asha and Ravi are initially set up, what matters in the end is that they choose each other.

In Srivastava’s experience, arranged marriage “feels like a misnomer — it’s more like an arranged introduction,” she said. “I often joke with my family about [this] dating service run by your parents and their network. They’re the ones setting you up on the date, and the rest is up to you.”

In “Indian Matchmaking,” Sima shares her exasperation directly with Akshay and his parents. This isn’t the first time she has been asked to find someone willing to move somewhere like Nashik. She says she often winds up asking clients, “Are you marrying a city, or are you marrying the boy and the family?”

The boy and the family, granted equal weight. In this collectivist culture — and in any culture, really — the best-case scenario would be for both partners to mesh well with each other’s families. It might even be a requirement for some couples. The worst case? Let’s turn to the teen comedy “Never Have I Ever.”

Early on, protagonist Devi Vishwakumar’s older cousin, Kamala (Richa Moorjani), begins living with Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) and her mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), after arriving from India to pursue a PhD at Caltech. Kamala is soon set up with a potential husband, Prashant (Rushi Kota), and she gives him a fair chance. But in the third season, Kamala realizes her growing discomfort with the situation has less to do with Prashant and more to do with the fact that she isn’t ready for marriage, period.

They end things, much to the chagrin of Devi and Kamala’s grandmother, Nirmala (Ranjita Chakravarty), who proceeds to ice Kamala out. Kamala is forced to reckon with the fact that her desire to better understand what she wants for herself — which includes dating Devi’s English teacher, Manish Kulkarni (Utkarsh Ambudkar), a man Nirmala disapproves of — butts heads with what is expected of her.

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“The arranged marriage storyline we were introduced to has really evolved and been a part of a larger story about [Kamala] finding her independence and voice,” said Moorjani, 33. “I felt very empowered by her journey because it’s something I deal with in my own life, to put my own happiness first.”

Moorjani found the storyline “fascinating and interesting to watch on an American television show.” The series, which was co-created by Lang Fisher and Mindy Kaling, marks the latter writer’s most substantial depiction yet of Indian American culture. She previously starred in sitcoms “The Mindy Project” and “The Office,” for which she wrote numerous episodes — including the silly, celebrated “Diwali” episode.

In a recent interview with Marie Claire, Kaling noted that her production company is developing a romantic comedy about Indian weddings that she co-wrote with Dan Goor and will star in with Indian actress Priyanka Chopra. Kaling, a single mother of two, said the film is “a lot about the value that we put, particularly Indian women, on marriage. And how so much of our value is set on being married.”

When filmmaker Smriti Mundhra was in her late 20s, an aunt recommended she become a client of Sima’s. It didn’t work out for Mundhra romantically — she had just gotten out of a relationship and largely agreed to her aunt’s suggestion because she “felt like as long as I was unmarried, I was disappointing people that I loved” — but she did succeed on another level. She was now well acquainted with Sima, who was “so blunt and so hilarious.”

In her time working with Sima, Mundhra encountered firsthand the “regressive and problematic things that exist” in matchmaking alongside the merits of a “culture that values community over individuality.” As a storyteller, she couldn’t let that go. Sima first appeared in Mundhra’s 2017 documentary “A Suitable Girl,” about three Indian women facing pressure to marry, before starring in “Indian Matchmaking.”

Mundhra, now 42, approaches reality television as a documentarian. In its second season, the show is less concerned with whether its characters will find love than it is the evolving concepts at play: individual needs and desires, societal expectations and, of course, the matchmaking process itself. Sima can seem dismissive at times but, according to Mundhra, is a “product of her generation” and aware she must change alongside her clients.

“That doesn’t come without its pains and frustrations,” Mundhra added.

One of the most significant shifts Mundhra has witnessed in the process may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with more traditional practices: Whereas Sima used to base the bulk of her assessments off conversations with clients’ parents, she now speaks to clients directly. This makes for great television at times, particularly when a client balks at Sima’s frequent suggestions that they lower their standards, but exposes flaws in the system as well. Should they really be expected to set aside much of what they believe they deserve?

The answer varies. Mundhra noted that none of the clients showcased in “Indian Matchmaking” were forced into the process; even for the more reluctant sort — such as Aparna, who decides Sima isn’t a match for her, either, and spends the second season looking for love on her own — autonomy doesn’t imply rejecting traditions but deciding the extent to which they embrace them.

The show continues to follow Aparna’s journey even after she shirks the matchmaking process because, according to Mundhra, the realization that “I need to hit pause on this because I need to figure out who I am” is just as valuable a takeaway.

The desire to “make our communities happy, our families happy — it’s still strong,” Mundhra said of her generation. “But it’s getting harder and harder to drown out that individual voice.”

Global Population Projected To Exceed 8 Billion In 2022; Half Live In 7 Countries

The world’s population will cross 8 billion in November, according to recently released projections from the United Nations. And more than half of all people live in just seven countries.

China has the world’s largest population (1.426 billion), but India (1.417 billion) is expected to claim this title next year. The next five most populous nations – the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Brazil – together have fewer people than India or China. In fact, China’s population is greater than the entire population of Europe (744 million) or the Americas (1.04 billion) and roughly equivalent to that of all nations in Africa (1.427 billion).

As recently as 2015, half the world’s population was concentrated in just six countries – the same as above, with the exception of Nigeria, which was then the seventh most populous country and has since passed Brazil to move into sixth place. Recent population growth, however, has been faster in the rest of the world than in these nations, meaning that the top six now hold slightly less than half (49%) of the world’s people. Including Brazil’s 215 million people puts the world’s seven most populous countries at 51.7% of the global population.

In the UN’s “medium” scenario for future population growth – its middle-of-the-road estimate – the global population is expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100. Growth is expected to be concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 29% of all the world’s births happened last year. The 2021 total fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa, 4.6 births per woman, is double the global average of 2.3 births per woman and triple the average in Europe and Northern America (1.5) and in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (also 1.5).

Desi Dating Service For South Asians In North America Launched

In the age of dating apps for adults, the platform specially caters to South Asian families in the diaspora that are looking for suitable marriage prospects within their own community.

Texas-based, Indian-American entrepreneur Radha Patel has launched, ‘The Auntie Network’, a tech-driven online desi dating platform for South Asian singles and families in North America.

The Auntie Network is based on the traditional South Asian system of matchmaking and aims to provide its users with suitable dating or marriage prospects from among the Desi diaspora community in the States.

“For decades, the Sima Aunties (Indian Matchmaking on Netflix) of the world have leveraged their networks to introduce single men and women to prospective life partners,” said Patel, founder and CEO of The Auntie Network and happily-married mother of two.

“Now, imagine if we could all harness the power of our inner Sima Aunties and had access to a network of singles all over North America, and eventually from the diaspora around the world,” she said.

“Just like grooming a child into an adult takes a village, finding that adult his/her plus one for life also takes a village,” Patel said. “Our platform aims to provide a safe, secure, sophisticated village for Indian singles who don’t cringe at the thought of a digitally-arranged marriage.”

Here is a step by guide to using ‘The Auntie Network’:

Step 1: Create an account at

Start by making your own “parent” account. This is how you will talk to the parents of prospective matches and share profiles with your kids.

Step 2: Search the network

Find eligible matches by location, community, and many other search options. Save and favorite profiles or share potential matches with your children.

Step 3: Meet other aunties & uncles

Get to know parents of eligible singles and determine together if your children are a good match. Involve your kids as little or as much as they want in the search process.

Step 4: Introduce your kids

Recommend hand picked matches for your kids. They can talk to one another & decide if this is their life partner. Help make your family complete because after all… Auntie knows best! Membership varies from $0 to $30 a month, depending on the level of services selected.

The Auntie Network is currently live and family members can sign up for a free one month trial at

Meteoric Rise In Number Of Americans Injecting Drugs

A recently released study by the Coalition for Applied Modeling for Prevention (CAMP) and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the colossal rise in injection drug use (IDU) in the United States in recent years.

CAMP’s study estimates that in the last decade, IDU has gone up exponentially. The most recent data, from 2018, estimated that approximately 4 million Americans injected drugs. This is a five-fold increase from the last approximation, in 2011.

The burden of fatal and nonfatal overdoses among those who inject drugs has also gone up sharply, according to CAMP’s research. Injection-related overdose deaths tripled from 2007 to 2018. Data also shows that there are about 40 nonfatal overdoses for every fatal overdose of IDU. 

“Our estimate of the number of people who inject drugs in the U.S. indicates that services need to be substantially expanded — this includes services to meet harm-reduction needs and efforts to reduce escalating rates of overdose mortality, as well as services to address the spread of infectious diseases,” said Heather Bradley, a lead author of a study that CAMP cited in its findings.

The CDC warns that “people who inject drugs are at high risk for HIV if they use needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment.” 

The CDC estimates that a third of people who inject drugs share syringes, needles or other drug injection equipment. 

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Though new cases of HIV are down overall, the CDC reports that about 10 percent of new HIV cases in the United States are people who inject drugs.

Hepatitis C cases have also skyrocketed in recent years. According to the CDC, in 2011 there were an estimated 2,700 cases of hepatitis C, and in 2019 the number leapt up to approximately 57,500.

The CAMP researchers note the findings in the study “provide valuable insight” to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on IDU in the U.S. and give researchers and public health officials information they can use to try to implement harm reduction in IDU. 

Tags CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC drug trafficking drugs Drugs hiv illegal drug use injection drug use United States 

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India’s Population Will Be Larger Than China’s In 2023

India is set to become the world’s most populous country next year, overtaking China with its 1.4bn people, according to UN figures.  On World Population Day, the United Nations has released a report projecting India to surpass China as the world’s most populous country next year. It further stated that the world population is forecast to reach eight billion by mid-November 2022.

By this November, the planet will be home to 8 Billion people. That overall population milestone “is a reminder of our shared responsibility to care for our planet and a moment to reflect on where we still fall short of our commitments to one another,” Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, without citing specifics.

“This is an occasion to celebrate our diversity, recognize our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates,” he added.

 But population growth is not as rapid as it used to be.  It is now at its slowest rate since 1950 and is set to peak, says the UN, around the 2080s at about 10.4bn though some demographers believe that could happen even sooner.

Currently, with 4.7 billion Asia is the most populous continent and has 61 per cent of the global population,17 per cent reside in Africa (1.3 billion), 10 per cent in Europe (750 million), 8 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean (650 million), and the remaining 5 per cent in Northern America (370 million) and Oceania (43 million). 

According to World Population Prospects 2019, China with a 1.44 billion population and India with 1.39 billion are the two most populous countries in the world, representing 19 and 18 per cent of the world’s population, respectively. However, by around 2023, India’s population will overtake China to become the most populous country with China’s population projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or around 2.2 per cent, between 2019 and 2050.But the population of the world is expanding unevenly.

More than half the growth we will see in the next 30 years will happen in just eight countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.

At the same time, some of the world’s most developed economies are already seeing population decline as fertility rates fall below 2.1 children per woman, which is known as the “replacement rate”. In 61 countries, the report says, populations will decline by at least 1% by 2050.

With one of the lowest fertility rates in the world (at 1.15 children per woman), China has announced that its population is due to start declining next year – much earlier than previously thought. That is despite the country abandoning its one child policy in 2016 and introducing incentives for couples to have two or more children.

As India’s population continues to grow it will almost certainly overtake China as the country with the biggest population in the world. 

Fertility rates are falling globally – even in many of the countries where the population is expanding. That is because, as previous generations expand, there are more people having children, even if individually those people are having fewer children than their parents did.

Growth is also largely thanks to developments in medicine and science which mean that more children are surviving into adulthood and more adults into old age. That pattern is likely to continue, which means that by 2050 the global average life expectancy will be around 77.2 years.

But this pattern means that the share of the global population aged 65 years or above is projected to rise from 10% this year to 16% in 2050. Again the distribution will be unequal with some countries, in East Asia and Western Europe, already seeing more extremes in ageing.

GOPIO And Indian Consulate Celebrate Yoga Day With Happy Life Yoga

On the occasion of International Yoga Day 2022, GOPIO Northeast chapters in cooperation with the Indian Consulate in New York and Emmy-nominated filmmaker and Happy Life Yoga speaker Tirlok Malik hosted a highly interactive and informative Yoga Zoom event on June 23rd featuring experts and speakers from various walks of life. 

Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India in New York sent his best wishes to GOPIO and Malik for celebrating the International Yoga Day 2022. The chief guest Indian Consul Vipul Dev, who looks after Political, Press, Information and Culture at the Indian Consulate, New York (USA) and special guest Congressman Subramanian Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Indian-born American businessman who has been serving as the U.S. representative for Illinois’s 8th congressional district since 2017, were present on the occasion. 

GOPIO-Manhattan Secretary Bhavya Gupta was the MC for the event which was hosted in the presence of Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International as well as distinguished members of GOPIO International and its chapter officials from the Northeast of USA and many viewers from all over the world. The event was also supported by The Indian Panorama, Indian American Forum, GOPIO Chapters (New York, Central New York, Central Jersey, Edison and Connecticut).

The event was energetic, knowledgeable, inspiring, and celebratory in nature. While emphasizing upon the growing importance of Yoga in today’s times, Malik explained his vision behind Happy Life Yoga and its underlying philosophy, “A way of living inspired by the wisdom of Ayurveda, Yoga and Indian Philosophy, Happy Life Yoga is beneficial for one and all. The pandemic has made the world realize that it is of paramount importance to have a good health, physically and emotionally, and the Happy Life Yoga platform can show how to achieve it.”

GOPIO Chairman Dr. Abraham in his welcome remarks said, “Yoga has now become an international brand after the UN declaration in 2014 and Yoga Day is now celebrated all over the world.” Dr. Abraham also complimented the Indian Consulate for continuing to hold the celebration at the Times Square in New York City.

 Indian Consul Vipul Dev said, “Yoga has become very popular in our life and personally I feel great that something like Yoga from my country has been adopted and owned by the rest of world.” He also added that Yoga brought positivity in his life. He also mentioned that the Indian Consulate in New York has been celebrating Yoga Day with community groups starting in the first week of June, including one at the Niagara Falls.

In his brief remarks, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi congratulated GOPIO and Tirlok Malik for propagating the power of Yoga globally through the Happy Life Yoga event. “Today, the International Yoga Day has evolved into in major annual event that’s celebrated all across the globe. The key is to celebrate Yoga as a health practice that is truly universal. I would like to congratulate GOPIO and Mr. Malik for playing an active role in propagating the power of Yoga.”

One of the major highlights of the Happy Life Yoga event was the knowledge sessions moderated by Malik who is known for his ability to engage with his audience using the right mix of banter and substance.

The distinguished speakers included Prof. Indrajit Saluja (Chief Editor/Publisher, The Indian Panorama), Indu Jaiswal (Chairperson, Indian American Forum), Sangeeta Agarawal (CEO and Founder, Helpsy), Dr. Jaya Daptardar (Author and Ayurveda Practitioner), Domini Monroe (Model and Actress), Dr. Tara Shajan (President, Nurse Association), Prakhar Gupta (Podcaster), Dr. Renee Mehrra (Reenbow Media), Anil Narang (Vegan Ambassador), Anna Pillai (Ayurveda Practitioner), and Victoria Moran (Founder, Main Street Vegan Academy).

The event ended with a thunderous applause even as Malik promised to bring more Happy Life Yoga events in the near future. Happy Life Yoga is the creation of Tirlok Malik. It is essentially an educational platform that offers a unique holistic approach to health and happiness using tools from Ayurveda, Indian Philosophy, and Yoga to help better manage modern-day challenges such as work, finances, relationships, family and other social pressures. It was launched in June 2019 in New York. Malik’s portfolio of work has won many awards and has been acclaimed in media and people worldwide. Through his work he intends to inspire others to live happier and healthier lives and the journey continues.

During the program, GOPIO Foundation Executive Trustee Lal Motwani, who also serves as honorary chair of GOPIO-New York chapter spoke on the new initiative from the chapter on launching India Collection of Books at the Queens Public Library on August 13th when the library will also honor India for its 75th Independence. GOPIO-Manhattan Chapter Board Member Siddharth Jain spoke on the various services from the chapter including community feeding on the last Monday of every month and invited members of the community to sponsor this effort. 

GOPIO-Manhattan Chapter President Shivender Sofat invited the community to participate in other chapter activities including welcoming new students from India for a Welcome Dinner event in late September. GOPIO-New York President Beena Kothari, who managed the Zoom session gave the vote of thanks.

Also present at the event were community leaders including AIA National President Govind Munjal, India Association of Long Island President Bina Sabapati, The Kerala Center President Alex Esthappan, Milan Cultural Association President Suresh Sharma, Indo American Senior Citizen Association President Mukund Mehta and community leader Pam Kwatra. 

GOPIO Manhattan, in accordance with its mission to serve the larger society and those in need, has taken several initiatives in the recent past. A Community Feeding is organized by the Chapter providing ​vegan or ​vegetarian lunch for the homeless and needy at Tomkins Square Park in Manhattan on the last Monday of every month. The chapter appeals to the community to support the initiative by being a volunteer and/or a sponsor.

AAPI Will Celebrate 8th International Yoga Day With Focus On “Heal the Healers” In San Antonio, TX

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with all the 10 City Council Districts of San Antonio, TX and Mayor Ron Nirenberg and iDoYoga San Antonio is organizing its flagship Free Yoga Classes and Education on the benefits and ways to make yoga a part of one’s daily life during the 40th annual convention.

Led by internationally famed yoga gurus, including  Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author; Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga; and, Eddie Stern, Yoga teacher, speaker and author, the highly anticipated and popular Yoga on the famous Riverwalk is part of the global celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY), founded in 2014 by the United Nations General Assembly, establishing June 21st (summer solstice) of each year to be a day of celebrating yoga in nations around the world. It was ratified by 175 nations and is now being celebrated each year by millions of people around the world.

A major theme during the 40th annual convention is “Physician, heal thyself,” acknowledging and seeking to respond to the growing signs of burnout among physicians, by offering positive remedial resources as part of the first-ever Wellness Program being offered to participants at the 40th annual Convention of AAPI to be held in san Antonio from June 23rd to 26th, 2022 at Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center.

AAPI is the largest ethnic physician organisation in the USA, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin. The convention is focussed on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI said.“We do acknowledge that these are challenging times, more than ever for us, as physicians, who are on the frontline to assess, diagnose and treat people are affected by this deadly pandemic with Physician burnout post COVID-19. Our colleagues have sacrificed their lives in order to save those impacted by this pandemic around the world,” Dr. Gotimukula added.

Accordingly, the wellness sessions at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, personal Reflexology Sessions, take home wellness routine, ailment based yoga therapy sessions, workshop on Spiritual well-being, book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine, and a unique opportunity to visit first of its kind in San Antonio, Aum Ashram.

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr.  Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022. Dr. Shah praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant. Put together by a highly talented and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, the 4 days long event will be filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention is going to be a unique experience for everyone, he added.

Convention Committee members include Mr. Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention; Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Convention Treasurer; Dr. Vijay Koli, Past President of AAPI & Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Convention Advisor; Chief Operating Officers, R. Reddy Yeluru and Ram Joolukuntla; Dr. Rajeev Suri, President of TIPS & Co-Chair of the Convention, and the other Co-Chairs of the Convention, including Dr. Shankar Sanka, Dr. Hetal Nayak, and Kiran Cheruku.

The Convention will honor India and its  75 years of Independence Day celebrations- co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI said, “This is the first time in the AAPI convention we offer these exclusive wellness packages geared towards the well-being of Physicians and their families by bringing the essence of science and spirituality of yoga and lifestyle medicine into our self-care routine. As we all are aware, a calm mind and a refined intellect are essential for making right choices. We promise to leave you empowered with the tools required.”

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “AAPI being the largest ethnic medical association in the nation, we are proud, we have been able to serve every 7th patient in the country. We serve in large cities, smaller towns and rural areas, sharing our skills, knowledge, compassion and expertise and caring millions of people.”

“Leading up to the festivities, we will be accepting donations for 2 local non-profits, including
Yoga Day Foundation and the Veteran’s Yoga Project, said Dr. Hetal Nayak, Founder of I Do Yoga San Antonio. “These organizations exist to provide yoga and mindfulness training to families in San Antonio through schools, hospitals, military installations and community partnership to improve services. They believe access to these tools improves physical, mental, and emotional health and empowers families to navigate their communities and lives in a more positive way.  iDoYoga San Antonio, is a grassroots community project under the Sewa International, she added.

Each day of the convention will have a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates will showcase one’s own state dress code. Heritage India is the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus is on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day, he added.

Some of the major events at the convention include: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

“A huge thank you to all of the doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals for your dedication and commitment to service during this uncertain time,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI said. “This is a unique opportunity for all of us, the front-line physicians who are putting our lives at risk to the save the lives of others,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. “Thank you for fighting selflessly against this virus and helping keep everyone healthy and safe,” Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI added.

During the annual convention, physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

AAPI delegates will have a multidisciplinary CME conference that allows specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers will discuss gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

Planned to have a limited number of attendance due to the ongoing Covid pandemic and the taking into account the safety of the participants, including Physicians, Healthcare Leaders, Academicians, Researchers and Medical Students, “the annual convention offers extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the alumni and evening social events,” Dr. Gotimukula added. For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:  and

Life Expectancy in India Rises But Disparities Remain

The current life expectancy for India in 2022 is 70.19 years which is a 0.33% increase from 2021, according to reports. In 1950, three years after the country gained independence, the life expectancy stood at 35.21 years. Although its life expectancy is lower than its comparators in the middle-income range, namely, Sri Lanka (77.39 years), Brazil (76.37 years), China (77.3 years) and Costa Rica (80.75 years), the gains in India’s life expectancy have definitely been noteworthy. Due to improvements in healthcare facilities and availability, there have been significant enhancements in infant and child mortality along with maternal mortality. All of these have contributed to the gains in the longevity of life in India.

India’s life expectancy at birth inched up to 69.7 in the 2015-19 period, well below the estimated global average life expectancy of 72.6 years, reports TOI. It has taken almost ten years to add two years to life expectancy.

A look at life expectancy at age one and at age five in this period suggests high infant and under-five mortality could be the reason India finds it difficult to raise life expectancy at birth faster.

Data in the recently released “abridged life tables” 2015-19 of the sample registration system (SRS) shows that the gap between life expectancy at birth and life expectancy at age one or age five is biggest in states with the highest infant mortality (IMR), Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

In Uttar Pradesh, with the second highest IMR of 38, life expectancy jumps the highest, by 3.4 years, on completion of the first year. In Madhya Pradesh, with the highest IMR of 43, surviving the first year after birth raises life expectancy by 2.7 years.

Over a 45-year period, India had added about 20 years to its life expectancy at birth from 49.7 in 1970-75 to 69.7 by 2015-19.

Odisha has had the highest increase, of over 24 years, from 45.7 to 69.8 years followed by Tamil Nadu, where it increased from 49.6 to 72.6. Uttar Pradesh had the second lowest life expectancy of 65.6 in 2015-19, after Chhattisgarh with just 65.3. However, from having the lowest life expectancy in India of just 43 years in 1970-75, it has increased by 22.6 years in Uttar Pradesh.

In the neighborhood, Bangladesh and Nepal, which had lower IMRs than India (24 compared to 28), now have higher life expectancy at birth of 72.1 and 70.5 respectively, according to the UN’s Human Development Report, 2019.

Life Expectancy is one of the most important and most used indicators for human development. It helps in assessing the overall health of the population. It captures mortality along the entire life course, very different from infant and child mortality. There has been an unprecedented increase in life expectancy due to better availability of medicines, technology and treatments.

While like other nations, life expectancy in India has improved in general, there is a huge gap in data between people from different social and economic groups. As India moves ahead with the idea of Universal Health Coverage, it is important to address the pressing need of giving attention to the health of marginalized populations in India.

Disparities in mortality and morbidity among various social-economic categories have existed in India for several decades. A study published in 2020 in BMJ which analyzed data from National Family Health Survey Round IV (2015-16) showed that the life expectancy of SCs, STs and OBCs were lower than other higher caste individuals.

This was common across both males and females. NFHS-IV data also showed that Muslim female life expectancy was 69.4 years, 2.8 years less than Hindu high caste female life expectancy, and Muslim male life expectancy was 66.8 years, 2.6 years less than high caste male life expectancy.

Furthermore, compared to upper-caste Hindus and other backward castes (OBCs), Adivasis die four years earlier, Dalits three years earlier. This data is from a new 2022 study that looked into Social disadvantage, economic inequality, and life expectancy in nine Indian states. It was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

In absolute terms, the disparities in life expectancy between higher-caste Hindus and life expectancies of Adivasis and Dalits are comparable to the Black-White gap in the United States. To no surprise, another study concluded that individuals with a family income of Rs 50000 had more than double the mortality rate than those with an income of more than Rs 1 lakh.

Your Guide To A Good Night’s Sleep

New Delhi– Most of us today, idolise the ones working on 3 to 4 hours of sleep. It’s all cool but I’m sure you remember the sweet taste of sleep? Oh no, I’m not tempting you to sleep for long hours and forget all your responsibilities. I know we’re living in a fleet-footed world and 24 hours just don’t seem enough.

When you don’t have something in adequate amounts you should always try and optimise it rather than disrupting everything, especially your sleep. Let me explain with an example – when you leave for a trip, you pack your stuff in a nice and organised manner but when you start packing for your return journey, what happens? You know that very well!

When your responsibilities seem to overpower you, stop, take a deep breath and make those 24 hours your slave.

How can you do that?

First of all, find out what works for you. People need a different amount of sleeping hours to boost their energy levels. You need to find your optimum level. After that, start scheduling your work and leisure timings accordingly.

Do you feel sleepy but still keep tossing around even after getting in bed at the right time?

If yes, this is probably because of your environment and poor pre-sleep discipline. To have the sleep that you are looking for, you need to work hard. Create an environment, which works best for you.

Pre-sleep discipline: Keeping all the distractions aside mentally and physically, dim the lights and start preparing for your bed. This will allow your mind to know it’s time to sleep and till the time you get to bed, your head would be light as a feather.

Set your Bedroom Temperature Body and bedroom temperature can profoundly impact sleep quality. Studies reveal that high or low temperatures in the sleeping area can deteriorate sleep quality. Depending on your body’s preferences, you need to find what suits your body for a good and comfortable sleep. In most cases, the bedroom should be cool (between 60 and 67 degrees) for optimal sleep.

Take a relaxing shower A relaxing warm shower is another popular way to sleep better. According to studies, a hot bath before bed improves sleep quality and helps people get more sound sleep. Alternatively speaking, if you don’t want to take a bath at night, simply dip your feet in lukewarm water for relaxation for improved sleep.

Invest in a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow Some people wonder why they always sleep better in the hotel. Apart from having a relaxed environment, bed quality can also affect your sleep. The best mattress and bedding is extremely subjective. If you plan on upgrading your bedding, base your choice on personal preferences.

Sleep hygiene is important Blue light from cell phones, TV screens, and laptops can make it difficult for you to fall asleep, so make sure you turn them off at least half an hour before you sleep. Even the bright light from a lamp or the window can affect your pattern; consider using blackout curtains, eye-masks, white noise machines, and other accessories for a good night’s sleep.

The bottom line Sleep plays a crucial role when it comes to our health. Common sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can cause sleep loss; people with sleep apnea characteristically make periodic gasping or snorting noises, momentarily interrupting their sleep. These obstructions during sleep can pose serious complications and should be sought from a medical professional. Also, sleep loss and sleep disorders are linked with hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, obesity, mental distress, and adverse health behaviors such as cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, and heavy drinking.

Additionally, sleep medicines aren’t the solution and even lead to addiction. If you are interested in optimal health and wellbeing, then you should make sleep your topmost priority and start incorporating some of the tips above.

The Buzzy New Drinking Trend: Alcohol-Free Booze

Non-alcoholic alternatives to booze have been around for a while. But recently, the sector has been booming.  For a long time “you had ‘near beer,’ which was kind of a joke,” said Duane Stanford, editor of Beverage Digest. “People would be discreet about drinking them. And now that’s completely changed.”

The non-alcoholic trend started to pick up a year or two before the pandemic, with no-alcohol bars catering to the so-called “sober curious” popping up in some cities, and has continued to grow at a rapid clip.

In recent years, major alcohol companies including Heineken, AB InBev and Molson Coors have started offering more zero alcohol options. Smaller brands, such as Athletic Brewing, which makes non-alcoholic craft beer, and Seedlip, which makes booze-free liquor alternatives, have also arrived on the scene.

A non-alcoholic martini. Seedlip “started to gain momentum a few years ago and continues to today,” said Lizzy Freier, director of menu research and insights at food service consulting firm Technomic.

Mentions of Seedlip on drink menus has grown 100% year-over-year, Freier said, adding that “we’re now starting to see some new alcohol-free spirits show up on the market, especially in independent restaurants.”

Non-alcoholic booze alternatives are still a tiny market compared to regular alcoholic beverages. But while alcohol sales slip, sales of their alcohol-free counterparts are soaring.

In the year ending May 14, US retail sales of non-alcoholic spirits grew 116% to $4.5 million, according to NielsenIQ. Alcoholic spirit sales slipped about 1% to just under $21 billion.

In that same period, non-alcoholic beer jumped 21% to $316 million and non-alcoholic wine rose 20% to $50 million. Traditional beer sales fell 4% to about $46 billion, and sales of alcoholic wine declined 6% to nearly $20 billion.

Stanford sees it this way: As interest in non-alcoholic alternatives rises, there’s a greater imperative for brands to deliver better products as more of them launch.

“There is a real market force now to go and create those solutions and to really work at it,” he said. “There’s money to be made. So people are figuring it out.”

But, Stanford added, “I do wonder what the natural ceiling is for these products, because you don’t have the functionality of alcohol.” In other words, how many people really want booze without the buzz?

Going out, but drinking less

Demand for non-alcoholic alternatives has been largely driven by younger consumers who want to drink less but aren’t interested in abstaining from alcohol altogether, Stanford said.

“They’re not necessarily teetotaling. In fact, most of them aren’t,” he said. “They do drink alcohol, but they’re just trying to moderate.”

A non-alcoholic beer or cocktail might appeal to consumers who, for example, are observing Dry January. Or maybe they want to stay out late with friends, but keep drinking to a minimum. Perhaps they have to drive home, or are trying to avoid a hangover. Or they are aware of alcohol’s negative health effects, and want to consume less in general.

Those drinkers could always reach for a seltzer or a soda, of course. But non-alcoholic beverage makers are positioning their products as more sophisticated and flavorful. And, with colorful cans and festive packaging, they’re designed to help non-drinkers blend in.

“The biggest market play we’re seeing is this emphasized idea that customers can still gather, celebrate and enjoy a good drink while still abstaining from alcohol, whether that be for lifestyle choices or personal reasons,” Freier said.

Erin Flavin, seated facing the table, started researching non-alcoholic alternatives to booz when she quit drinking.

Erin Flavin found herself imbibing more than she wanted to during the pandemic. So in October 2020, she decided to quit drinking. Sick of seltzer, she explored other options.

“I started out with teas,” she said. She discovered Rishi Tea & Botanicals, which makes a line of “sparkling botanicals” drinks. They come in flavors like grapefruit quince, dandelion ginger and elderberry maqui, made with red wine grape skins.

“I was drinking that a lot, in a beautiful glass, and still having my little ritual at the end of the night,” she said. “That really helped.” Last year, she started selling some non-alcoholic drinks at her Minneapolis hair studio, Honeycomb Salon. She plans to open a non-alcoholic liquor store soon.

While some, like Flavin, took stock of their drinking habits during the pandemic, others had been thinking about alcohol alternatives for years.

Non-alcoholic beers get crafty

For Ben Jordan, it was challenging to find something flavorful but non-alcoholic to drink when he’d go to get-togethers while at graduate school, about a decade ago.

“I was wanting to drink beer at parties and in social environments, but didn’t want the effects of ethanol,” he told CNN Business. At the time, the non-alcoholic beer options were “pretty bad,” he said.

So he set out to find a solution, eventually co-founding ABV Technology, which sells and rents machines that remove alcohol from beer to craft breweries, enabling them to get in on the trend. ABV Technology also offers its products to distilleries and wineries. The company was incorporated in 2017, and Jordan is its CEO.

One surprising incentive for craft brewers deciding whether to invest in non-alcoholic beers? The hard seltzer craze.

Once ABV Technology’s machines remove alcohol from beer, that booze can then be used for hard seltzers. For a brewer, that affords the option of turning alcoholic beer into two products: non-alcoholic beer and trendy hard seltzer.

Ben Jordan, CEO of ABV Technology, Jordan predicts that in the United States, non-alcoholic beer could end up making up a fifth of the total US beer market.  “Things look very positive for the non-alcoholic beer industry right now,” he said.

But there are challenges ahead, especially as consumers cope with soaring inflation. Non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits don’t come cheap.

Bottles of non-alcoholic spirits are priced in the $20 to $30-range on Amazon. And a can of non-alcoholic beer costs about the same, if not more, than the same sized-can of regular beer, Jordan said.

A sliver of the population may be willing to pay that amount for that alternative, Stanford said.

“Upwardly mobile, young consumers who want these kinds of products for specific lifestyle reasons — as long as you’re offering them quality and something that they actually want to hold and be seen with, they will pay those prices,” he said.

But getting money-conscious skeptics on board? “The challenge is, you’re gonna have to convince them that the quality is there,” Stanford said, “that they’re going to look cool drinking it, and they’re going to want to be seen with it.”

Emmy-Nominated Filmmaker Tirlok Malik Makes Happy Life Yoga Presentation To Over 200 CEOs At Asia Society In New York

Tirlok Malik, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and Happy life Yoga speaker, was a guest speaker at the event finale for ‘New Majority 2022: The Opportunity for Building Allyship’ organized by the Asian American Business Development Center, Inc., at the Asia Society and Museum. AABDC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization established in 1994 by Mr. John Wang, the founder and the president.

It assists Asian American businesses in strengthening their capacity to compete in the mainstream market, to expand business opportunities, and to promote recognition of Asian American businesses’ contributions to the general economy. AABDC is associated with the United Nation Department of Global Communications and actively supports the 17 sustainable development goals.

The event featured guest speakers from various fields such as civil rights, business, community, and nonprofit leaders to gather, speak, learn from and brainstorm with each other. The event unpinned the all important thought that when we engage in difficult conversations about unlearning prejudice acquired in our respective communities, when we work together and support each other, and when we speak with one voice, it is incredibly powerful.

It was a very informative and constructive summit discussing the opportunity for Building Allyship in Asian and American communities. The event had opening keynote remarks by Ramon Laguarts (Chairman and CEO, Pepsico). Some of the other speakers at the event included Dr. Randal Pinkett (CEO, BCT Partners), Anne Chow (CEO, AT&T), S.David Wu (Ph.D) (President, Baruch College, The City University of New York), Michael Garner (Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, MTA), Frankie Miranda (CEO, Hispanic Federation), Ying McGuire (CEO, National Minority Supplier Development Council), Sandeep Gupta (Board member, Ascend Canada, Partner Deloitte & Touche LLP), and Marcela Miguel Berland (CEO, Latin Insights), among others. Dr. Pinkett was also the MC for the event.

Tirlok Malik made an engaging Happy Life Yoga presentation at the end of the event with more than 200 CEOs participating in laughing and positive happy affirmation for self along with Malik. Tirlok Malik explains, “You have to start with affirming to yourself: ‘I Love Myself,’ because if you love yourself, you take care of yourself. And then we are able to bring happiness to others.” Malik further says that Happy Life Yoga (yoga of life) is a gift from the spiritual land of India, which he wants to share with the world. Malik was honored with the Outstanding Asian American in Business award by the Asian American Business Development Center in the year 2005.

Malik into his 50s (he refuses to reveal his age) has made a handful of films around India. His most recent release is a short film titled To New India with Love, streaming on YouTube. The movie about youth aspirations explores how ambitions, and as a result relationships, are changing order in modern India. The film has gathered critical acclaim with political leaders such as Kiran Bedi talking about the message it showcases.

The filmmaker, who has lived in New York since he turned 24, doesn’t mince words when he speaks about the confused Indian. “The first generation wants to send their children to America but when it comes to marriage they want their children to go the traditional way. As ironical as it may sound, this is the mindset of most Indians,” he says. It is this complex cultural tiff that Malik explores in his films.

Yoga And Meditation Can Change Your Genes

Yoga and meditation may do more than just help you feel relaxed in the moment. A new scientific review suggests that these and other mindfulness exercises can actually reverse stress-related changes in genes linked to poor health and depression.

In the new paper, published in Frontiers in Immunology, British researchers analyzed the findings from 18 previously published studies—involving a total of 846 people—on the biological effects of meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, Qi gong and Tai Chi. Together, the authors say, the studies show that these mind-body exercises appear to suppress the expression of genes and genetic pathways that promote inflammation.

Inflammation can temporarily boost the immune system, and can be protective against infection and injury, the authors write in their paper. But in today’s society, in which stress is primarily psychological, the body’s inflammatory response can become chronic and can impair both physical and mental health.

Researchers found that people who practiced these activities regularly had fewer signs of inflammation, including a decrease in their production of inflammatory proteins. This signals “the reversal of the molecular signature of the effects of chronic stress,” they wrote, which may translate to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.

Environment and lifestyle can both affect which genes are turned on and off, and that can have real effects on disease risk, longevity and even which traits get passed on to future generations. Stressful events, for example, can activate the fight-or-flight response and trigger a chain reaction of stress-related changes in the body—including activating specific genes involved in making proteins that produce inflammation.

Lead author Ivana Buric, a PhD student in Coventry University’s Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in England, says her team was surprised to see that different types of mind-body techniques had such similar effects at the genetic level. “Sitting meditation is quite different than yoga or Tai Chi,” she said in an email, “yet all of these activities—when practiced regularly—seem to decrease the activity of genes involved in inflammation.”

This is a relatively new field of research, she adds, and it’s likely that similar benefits could be obtained from other lifestyle changes like healthy eating and exercise. There aren’t yet enough studies to know how activities like yoga compare to other types of physical activity in terms of altering gene expression.

Buric says the existing studies suggest that mind-body interventions “cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our well being.” She also emphasizes that inherited genes are not static and that DNA activity can depend on things people can control. “By choosing healthy habits every day, we can create a gene activity pattern that is more beneficial for our health,” she says. “Even just 15 minutes of practicing mindfulness seems to do the trick.”

Monkeypox Due To Risky Sexual Behavior, Expert Says

A leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” said Heymann.

That marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates and outbreaks have not spread across borders.

To date, WHO has recorded more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including Britain, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, the U.S. and Australia.

Madrid’s senior health official said on Monday that the Spanish capital has recorded 30 confirmed cases so far. Enrique Ruiz Escudero said authorities are investigating possible links between a recent Gay Pride event in the Canary Islands, which drew some 80,000 people, and cases at a Madrid sauna.

Heymann chaired an urgent meeting of WHO’s advisory group on infectious disease threats on Friday to assess the ongoing epidemic and said there was no evidence to suggest that monkeypox might have mutated into a more infectious form.

Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. It can be spread through close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bedsheets, but sexual transmission has not yet been documented. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization. Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

The disease can be fatal in about 10% of infections, but no deaths have been reported among the current cases.

WHO said the outbreak is “atypical” and said the fact that cases are being seen in so many different countries suggests the disease may have been silently spreading for some time. The agency’s Europe director warned that as summer begins across the continent, mass gatherings, festivals and parties could accelerate the spread of monkeypox.

Other scientists have pointed out that it will be difficult to disentangle whether it is sex itself or the close contact related to sex that has driven the recent spread of monkeypox across Europe.

“By nature, sexual activity involves intimate contact, which one would expect to increase the likelihood of transmission, whatever a person’s sexual orientation and irrespective of the mode of transmission,” said Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London.

On Sunday, the chief medical adviser of Britain’s Health Security Agency, Dr. Susan Hopkins, said she expected more monkeypox cases to be identified in the country “on a daily basis.” U.K. officials have said “a notable proportion” of the cases in Britain and Europe have been in young men with no history of travel to Africa and who are gay, bisexual or have sex with men. Authorities in Portugal and Spain also said their cases were in men who mostly had sex with other men and whose infections were picked up when they sought help for lesions at sexual health clinics.

Heymann, who is also a professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the monkeypox outbreak was likely a random event that might be traceable to a single infection.

“It’s very possible there was somebody who got infected, developed lesions on the genitals, hands or somewhere else, and then spread it to others when there was sexual or close, physical contact,” Heymann hypothesized. “And then there were these international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the U.S. and other European countries.” He emphasized that the disease was unlikely to trigger widespread transmission.

“This is not COVID,” he said. “We need to slow it down, but it does not spread in the air and we have vaccines to protect against it.”

Heymann said studies should be conducted rapidly to determine if monkeypox could be spread by people without symptoms and that populations at risk of the disease should take precautions to protect themselves.

A French Nun Who Enjoys Chocolate And Wine Is The Oldest Living Person

A 118-year-old nun living in a nursing home in southern France has become the world’s oldest living person, according to the Guinness World Records.

Sister André is also the oldest nun ever, according to a statement released by Guinness on Monday, April 25th.

Born as Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904, Sister André has dedicated most of her life to religious service, the statement said. Before becoming a Catholic nun, she looked after children during World War II and then spent 28 years caring for orphans and elderly people at a hospital.

Sister André, who lives near the French city of Toulon, is also the world’s oldest Covid-19 survivor. The Guinness World Records statement said she tested positive for the virus at the beginning of 2021, but recovered fully within three weeks, just in time for her 117th birthday.

In an interview with the French TV channel RMC Story on Tuesday, Sister André appeared to have mixed feelings about becoming the new oldest living person.

“I feel I would be better off in heaven, but the good Lord doesn’t want me yet,” she said, calling the title a “sad honor.” However, she also expressed her joy at being “pampered” by her family.

Sister André enjoys chocolate and wine — and drinks a glass every day — her nursing home, Résidence Catherine Labouré, confirmed to CNN.

When she turned 118 earlier this year, the elderly nun received a handwritten birthday note from French President Emmanuel Macron — the 18th French president of her lifetime — according to a tweet from the nursing home. There have also been 10 different Popes presiding over the Catholic Church since she was born.

Sister André became the world’s eldest following the death of Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman previously certified as the world’s oldest person, who died at the age of 119 on April 19.

World’s oldest person, Kane Tanaka, died in Japan aged 119. The title of oldest person ever recorded also belongs to a French woman. Born on February 21, 1875, Jeanne Louise Calment’s life spanned 122 years and 164 days, according to the Guinness World Records statement.

How Much You Should Sleep Every Night

A national panel of sleep experts released new recommendations Monday that call for more hours of sleep for most young people.

The National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at promoting healthy sleep and safety, says the amount of sleep a person needs is highly variable and that some people need more than others. Still, the new hour ranges for each age group recommend more hours for infants, kids and teens:

Newborns (0-3 months ): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)

Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)

Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)

Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)

School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)

Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)

Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)

Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours

Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

To come up with the new recommendations, the foundation put together a panel of 18 scientists and researchers from prominent medical associations in the United States and asked them to review over 300 studies on how much sleep is ideal. The panel then voted on how much sleep is appropriate at different ages.

Getting too little sleep and getting too much sleep are both unhealthy behaviors that can lead to a variety of consequences from grogginess to weight gain.

US Life Expectancy Declined In 2021

Life expectancy in the United States took another hit in 2021, furthering a dramatic decline from 2020 that was the largest since World War II, according to a new report.

The study — published Thursday on the preprint server medRxiv, which means it has not been peer-reviewed — found that after falling nearly 1.9 years in 2020, life expectancy in the US decreased another 0.4 years in 2021 as Covid-19 continued to spread.

“Although the introduction and availability of effective vaccines were expected to curb US mortality rates in 2021, slow vaccine uptake and the spread of the Delta variant produced large surges in mortality,” the researchers wrote.

With a brief exception in the summer of 2021, Covid-19 has consistently been one of the top three causes of death for the past two years in the US, an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows.

In the decade before the pandemic, life expectancy in the US changed by an average of less than 0.1 years annually, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Changes to life expectancy amid the Covid-19 pandemic widened an existing gap between the US and other high-income countries, the new report shows. Among a set of 19 peer countries, life expectancy dropped only a third as much as in the US in 2020 (down 0.6 years, on average) and rebounded in 2021, with an average increase of about 0.3 years.

Life expectancy in the US fell from 78.9 years in 2019 to 76.6 years in 2021 — now more than five years less than the average among peer nations.

“This speaks volumes about the life consequences of how the US handled the pandemic,” Dr. Steven Woolf, study author and director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, said in a statement. “What happened in the U.S. is less about the variants than the levels of resistance to vaccination and the public’s rejection of practices, such as masking and mandates, to reduce viral transmission.”

In the US, there was a disproportionate decrease in life expectancy for Black and Hispanic people in 2020. But in 2021, White people had the largest losses, with life expectancy holding steady for Hispanic people and rising slightly for Black people.

For this study, Woolf and other researchers from the University of Colorado and the Urban Institute analyzed death data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Human Mortality Database and other international statistical agencies.

Taking A Break From The Digital World Is Healthy

Technology has connected us in ways we never anticipated and made our lives more convenient. While technology definitely comes with numerous positive benefits, there are negative sides to it as well that can lead to physical and psychological issues. A 2017 study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people within the age group of 19-32 who had higher usage of social media were more likely to feel isolated than those who didnt use social media so often.

Innovative technologies and smart gadgets have made us slaves of the digital era, and there’s an imperative need to get some respite from this dependency and disruption. That’s where yoga and meditation can make a difference. These ancient practices have been part of our civilisation for years and are used to align the body, mind and spirit and bring mental clarity.

Why a Break from the Digital World is Necessary

We are constantly tethered to technology through our smartphones, tablets, computers, and even watches, and companies are pushing our psychological buttons to make us return for more. Constant distractions are ruining our cognitive functions and leaving many prone to anxiety and memory lapses. Overuse of digital media can also have detrimental effects on physical health. Too much smartphone usage can put a lot of pressure on the shoulders, neck, and spine. Technology overuse can also lead to strained injuries of the thumbs, fingers, and wrists. Overexposure to the blue light emitted by smartphones and computers can also interrupt the circadian clock, causing sleep issues.

How Yoga can help

In people who practice yoga on a daily basis, changes occur in the brain structure and new connections are developed. Also, it results in improved cognitive skills like memory and learning. Here are some easy yoga poses to get you started:

Tadasana (Mountain Pose): How to do:

*Stand with the feet together keeping the arms by the side.

* Straighten the legs and tuck the tailbone in while engaging the thigh muscles.

* While inhaling, elongate through the torso and raise the arms.

* Exhale and release the shoulder blades away from the head.

* Take slow breaths and maintain this position for 30 seconds.

Benefits: This pose engages all the major muscle groups and improves concentration and focus.

AdhoMukhaSvanasana: How to do:

* Come onto your hands and knees with the palms just past the shoulder.

* The knees must be kept under the hips.

* Lift the hips and press back to form a V-shape with the body.

* Keep the feet hip-width apart.

* Spread the fingers and move the chest towards your legs.

* Maintain this position for 30 second and gently release.

Benefits: This pose stretches the lower body, improves posture and balances the body and mind.

Balasana (Child’s Pose): How to do:

* Kneel on your mat with the toes tucked under.

* Lower the hips towards the feet and extend your arms forward.

* The stomach should be resting on the thighs and forehead touching the mat

* Maintain this position for 1 minute and release.

Benefits: Apart from releasing tensions in the chest, this pose relaxes the spine and back as well as promotes good sleep.

Savasana: How to do:

* Lie on the back with the arms alongside the body.

* The palms should be facing upwards and the body must be kept completely relaxed including the face.

* Continue with gentle breathing and keep your attention on your breath.

* Stay in this pose for a few minutes and release.

Benefits: This pose calms the nervous system reducing stress and anxiety. It also aids the immune and digestive system.

Achieve Balance with Meditation

Meditation has been a useful tool for ages to maintain control of the mind and transform thoughts. People who incorporate meditation into their daily lives remain more composed during times of adversity and clear-minded. In fact, new studies have revealed that consistent practise of meditation increases GABA levels, which promotes emotional well-being and helps one feel happy.

When combined with yoga and pranayama, meditation can do wonders for our body and mind gradually, and one can see the reflection of the same in their daily lifestyle.


The rapid advancement of technology has certainly led to increased stress and emotional distress driven by rapid reward cycles, exposure to too much information, and simultaneous engagement in different tasks. Meditation and yoga can help us release inner tensions, quiet the mind, and stay focused. Only a few minutes of practise every day can bring a whole world of change, making us happy, healthy, and resilient to stress and burnout. Technology is here to stay and even get more advanced. It rests on us as to how we can adopt these practises as part of our lifestyle to bring a positive change and stay healthy.

Do Women Live Longer Than Men?

The numbers don’t lie: women tend to live longer than men. The average American man will live to age 76, according to the latest CDC figures, while the average woman in America will live to age 81.

And a woman’s extra years tend to be healthy ones. The World Health Organization’s HALE index, which calculates the number of years a man or woman can expect to live without a major disease or injury, finds that American men can look forward to 67 healthy years, while American women will enjoy 70 years of “full heath.”

This male-female lifespan gap is not a new phenomenon; experts have known about it for decades. It’s also not restricted to Americans. “This gender gap in life expectancy is true for all societies, and it is also true for the great apes,” says Dr. Perminder Sachdev, a professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of New South Wales in Australia who has studied human longevity.

Why do women tend to outlive men? Sachdev says there are a few popular theories—some to do with biology, and some to do with behavior.

“Men are more likely to smoke, drink excessively and be overweight,” he says. “They are also less likely to seek medical help early, and, if diagnosed with a disease, they are more likely to be non-adherent to treatment.” On top of all that, he says, men are more likely to take life-threatening risks and to die in car accidents, brawls or gun fights.

There’s evidence that a man’s biology—namely, his elevated levels of the male sex hormone testosterone—may lead him into the kind of trouble that could shorten his life. Research from Duke University has found that elevated testosterone levels are associated with risky behaviors.

Experts say testosterone may abbreviate a man’s lifespan in other ways. “Male sex hormones decrease immune function and increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases,” says Kyung-Jin Min, a professor of biological sciences at Inha University in South Korea.

In a 2012 study published in the journal Current Biology, Min and his colleagues examined the historical health records of 81 Korean eunuchs: men who were castrated as children, and who therefore stopped producing much testosterone. They found the eunuchs tended to live about 14 to 19 years longer than uncastrated men who shared their same socio-economic status.

While the links between testosterone and immune function aren’t clear, Min’s study points to lab research showing that testosterone may block the release of some disease-fighting immune cells. On the other hand, there’s also a good amount of research linking low levels of testosterone to heart disease and poor health outcomes in men, so the relationships between testosterone and a man’s health are complex.

It may well be that a man’s hormones aren’t to blame; instead, a woman’s hormones may offer her some added lifespan benefits.

“Estrogen appears to be protective—it has been shown to have an antioxidant role,” says Sachdev. A 2013 review in the International Journal of Endocrinology found evidence that estrogen can prevent the kind of DNA damage that leads to disease. That review also turned up evidence that estrogen can help maintain normal, healthy cell function.

These sorts of findings help explain the male-female longevity gap. But why would evolution and natural selection instill women, but not men, with these life-extending attributes?

“All this is entirely speculative,” Sachdev says, but it may have to do with a female’s historical role as child-rearer. “Once children are born, men are disposable,” he says. “But the robust body of the mother is important for the survival of the offspring.” A woman’s body has evolved to withstand and bounce back from the physical trauma of pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the demands of breastfeeding—challenges to which a male’s body is never exposed. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. And for women, that strength may translate to a longer, healthier life.

10 Happiest Countries In The World

Happiness is a difficult thing to measure, but one initiative at the United Nations has been trying to figure it out. Every year since 2012, the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network has published its World Happiness Report—a study that examines the connections between happiness and development, all while encouraging policymakers to place more of an emphasis on the former.

Around 1,000 people in each U.N. member state rate their quality of life on a scale from 0 to 10, while researchers cull data from six areas: GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support, trust and corruption, perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity. The World Happiness Report 2022 was just released, and while the results follow previous trends (every Nordic country made the cut), the list is a little more interesting because of COVID-19. The report paid special attention to evaluate how different governments have supported citizens’ happiness before, during, and likely after the pandemic.

Here is the list of the 10 happiest countries in the world—and who knows? Maybe just daydreaming about visiting these countries will give you a boost of happiness.

10. New Zealand

New Zealand has had one of the lowest rates of COVID-related deaths during the pandemic, cementing its spot in the top ten. Even without that time stamp, Kiwis are a famously happy and friendly bunch, which stems from satisfaction in both the workplace and social spheres. Having a Prime Minister who prioritizes emotional and mental growth certainly doesn’t hurt, either: In 2019, Jacinda Ardern introduced a Wellbeing Budget, which allocated billions of dollars towards initiatives like bolstering mental health, reducing child poverty, and supporting the Māori and Pasifika populations.

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: This one’s easy: go play outside. New Zealand is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world, with as many outdoor activities as there are stunning landscapes. Whether you spend your vacation kayaking in Milford Sound, hiking through Tongariro National Park, or bungy jumping in Queenstown, you’re sure to leave feeling better than when you arrived.

9. Israel

After placing 12th last year, Israel has finally broken into the top ten in 2022. The country’s response to the pandemic instilled a lot more government trust among citizens, as it was one of the first nations to successfully vaccinate a large percentage of its population. Israel also happens to be one of the healthiest countries in the world, with the lowest number of diet-related deaths (high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, etc.) in the entire world.

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: Travelers can enjoy that life-extending Mediterranean diet at thousands of restaurants in Tel Aviv, the culinary capital of Israel. Writer Gabrielle Robins suggests seeking out street food like falafel at HaKosem, hummus at Abu Hassan, and kebabs at Zalmaniko.

8. Norway

There’s not too much to complain about in Norway. The mix of a well-integrated government welfare system and a thriving economy built on responsible management of its natural resources (good riddance, fossil fuel-powered cars) means that very few are left behind, and the feelings of social support, trust in government, and economic well-being that come from that all contribute to overall happiness.

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: It’s scientifically proven that being near water makes people happier, and Noway has a lot of opportunities to enter an aquatic state of mind. The country has some of the deepest and most beautiful lakes in Europe, including Lake Mjøsa about 60 miles north of Oslo. There is a bike path that circles the entire lake, so get in a good ride before cooling off in the water.

7. Sweden

Sweden had the highest number of COVID-related deaths among all the Nordic countries, which may account for its drop from the 6th to the 7th spot this year. Still, it remains one of the happiest countries in the world thanks in large part to a high GDP per capita. An emphasis on social equality that is built into the education system starting in kindergarten, 16 months of paid family leave that can be split between a couple after a new child is welcomed into a family, and free day care also make Sweden the best country for women, according to a separate study. Basically, an emphasis on work-life balance leads to a happier populace.

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: Lagom is a way of life in Sweden (similar to hygge in Denmark), something that’s hard to translate but basically boils down to balance and moderation. Swedes apply lagom to everything from wardrobe to diet, but the most tourist-friendly way to enjoy this lifestyle is to join in fika—a designated time of day to slow down and be in the present, usually with a hot cup of coffee and baked good. Just stop by any one of Stockholm’s excellent cafes around 11 a.m. (we’re fans of Café Pascal and Green Rabbit) to easily join the locals in this daily tradition.

6. Luxembourg

With a population under 600,000, this small country offers high salaries and a strong social security system to help its citizens after retirement. But before you jump to the conclusion that money is actually buying happiness in Luxembourg, the country has many other perks that have nothing to do with cash, including a great healthcare system and excellent work-life balance (probably due to the mandatory five weeks of vacation time).

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: Can’t decide between nature and culture? Get a dose of both (and a little exercise while you’re at it) by climbing Chemin de la Corniche, a pedestrian promenade that winds along Luxembourg City’s 17th-century stone walls. Dubbed “Europe’s most beautiful balcony” by Luxembourger author Batty Weber, the street affords incredible views of the Alzette River and the city’s historic center.

5. Netherlands

The biggest stat from the Netherlands this year? That its happiness levels have barely changed (we’re talking less than 0.03 percent) between 2005 and 2021. And in the Netherlands, it turns out, happiness starts young. A 2013 UNICEF report rated Dutch children the happiest in the world, based on a number of metrics related to educational well-being, safety, and health.

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: According to the UNICEF report, 85 percent of Dutch children eat breakfast with their parents every morning (a sign of positive wellbeing). While you may be past the age of sitting down for meals before school, you can still enjoy a classic Dutch breakfast during your visit to the Netherlands: typically a slice of bread topped with appelstroop, jam, or hagelslag sprinkles (we’re smiling already).

4. Switzerland

Switzerland (which dropped one spot this year) is a country where everything is voted on, from how many vacation days workers should have to how many immigrants should be allowed into the country, and referendums down to the local level happen many times a year. This system of direct democracy means that Swiss citizens feel an unparalleled sense of participation in their country’s evolution. The Swiss are known to be insular, and it can be off-putting to first-time visitors, but there is a strong social fabric held together by a belief that every voice matters, which can go a long way toward feeling content.

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: According to a research from University College London, eating small amounts of dark chocolate can lead to a significant decrease in depressive symptoms—and where better in the world to shop around for chocolate than Switzerland? Try the 99 percent cocoa bar at the Teuscher HQ in Zurich, or hop on a train to Broc to visit the renowned Cailler-Nestle chocolate factory and shop.

3. Iceland

Iceland ranks high in terms of the proportion of respondents who said they felt like they had a fellow citizen to count on when the going gets rough. This perhaps became most obvious in the wake of the country’s post-2007 financial collapse and subsequent revitalization. You’d think that the perpetual flood of American tourists into Reykjavik might have dealt a blow to the residents’ happiness—it’s got to be a little harder to get that dinner reservation than it used to be, after all—but when it comes to well-being, the Icelanders are unfazed. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they can always escape the city to a countryside that looks like another planet.

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: In a small country like Iceland, it’s easy to socialize with your friends and family—a huge contributing factor to overall happiness. Tap into that close-knit culture by joining an Icelandic family for a homemade meal, which you can easily do through several tour companies. Creative Iceland offers a deal like this in Reykjavik, while Viator has an option in the fishing town of Hofn.

2. Denmark

Denmark remained in the number two spot this year. The country rates near the top in all the reported metrics—life expectancy, social support, and generosity among them—but it is also a country hugely committed to renewable energy production (39.1 percent of its energy was wind-generated in 2014). A recent study from the Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute (whose existence is probably reason enough for a top spot) narrows down Denmark’s happiness to a number of different categories, including trust in the government, economic security, freedom, civil participation, and work-life balance.

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: Socioeconomic factors aside, the country’s happiness certainly comes in part from a respect for the planet it’s built on. To get a sense of that “at one with nature” mentality, visit Denmark in the summer and stay at a traditional Danish seaside inn. After a few days cycling along the coast, eating fresh mussels and house-made sourdough, and taking in views of the Baltic Sea from a shaded hammock, you can’t help but feel a little more joyful.

1. Finland

For the fifth year in a row, Finland is number one when it comes to happiness. The country consistently ranks among the top education systems in the world, occasionally beaten out by countries like South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. Much of that success comes from a widespread reverence for teachers, who are required to have a master’s degree (their education is state-funded), and a pedagogical system that focuses less on quantitative testing and more on experiential learning and equal opportunity.

Endorphin-boosting travel tip: Winter swimming is an extremely popular activity in Finland, with citizens claiming they get a huge rush of happiness as soon as they’re back on dry land and their circulation kicks back in. It’s an acquired taste to be sure, but the surge of serotonin and dopamine might just be worth it.

“Master of Arts in Happiness Studies” Announced By Centenary University In New Jersey

Centenary University in the state of New Jersey is launching what it called the world’s first “Master of Arts in Happiness Studies.” The first ever such program at the University level will “explore the implications of happiness for individuals, the workplace, and our broader society,” according to the college’s announcement. It’s set to launch virtually in the fall and will cost students $17,700.

Centenary, a private college in Hackettstown, New Jersey, with about 1,100 students, teamed up with the Happiness Studies Academy to create the happiness program. University President Bruce Murphy told the media that a variety of professionals could benefit from the program, such as human resource employees creating trainings for staff or CEOs incorporating lessons into their organizations.

Murphy said in his March 18th announcement: “This online, 30-credit graduate degree is an interdisciplinary program designed for leaders who are committed to personal, interpersonal, organizational, and societal happiness. Grounded in science and research, this new degree will study happiness and resilience to prepare graduates to make an impact in a wide range of fields.”

“We were thrilled when Centenary University President Murphy and his colleagues were willing to take the leap, so to speak, and create and an academic field out of the fields of happiness, which is sorely needed in our world,” Ben-Shahar, who co-founded the Happiness Studies Academy, is quoted to have said.

The academy’s mission “is to lead the happiness revolution by educating leaders who are themselves dedicated to personal, interpersonal and communal flourishing,” according to its website.

“When we’re talking about happiness, we’re talking about cultivating resilience, the ability to deal with hardships, with difficulties, and there’s plenty to go around today,” Ben-Shahar told Fox News. “Whether you’re talking pandemic, whether you’re talking war, uncertainty, whether it’s on the economic level, the emotional level.”

“We need some practical advice, evidence-based advice to help people deal with difficulties,” he continued. The degree will incorporate aspects of various disciplines ranging from psychology, philosophy and neuroscience to finance and business to literature, religion and music.

“This fully online accredited MA in Happiness Studies focuses on educating leaders who are committed to the cultivation of wellbeing in themselves and others, to the fulfillment of society’s potential for both happiness and goodness,” the program’s website states. “Regardless of your area of interest and action … the rigorous ideas and evidence-based interventions that are part of the MA in Happiness Studies will help you bring out the best in your family, colleagues, clients, students and yourself.”

“Whatever profession you identify, there is a place – a very important place for happiness studies – for the science of well-being,” Tal Ben Shahar, a happiness expert and the director of the program, told the media. “The degree in happiness studies is relevant for essentially every field of practice,” Ben-Shahar said. He said the Happiness Studies Academy receives students from a variety of professions, including lawyers, doctors, therapists, teachers, coaches and managers.” 

Centenary has received 38 applications for the program since it was announced at the March 18 World Happiness Summit in Miami, Murphy was quoted to have said. “I see a lot of opportunity for individuals to be engaged, to take this master’s degree program, to get the certification and to go forth and do great things with it,” Murphy said. 

Finland Ranks First In The World Happiness Report

For the fifth year in a row, Finland has topped the rankings of the World Happiness Report. Aalto University experts are available to comment on what happiness means in this context and how this small country ensures its residents’ well-being.

Finland shares a 1,340 kilometer border with Russia. Besides separating the European Union country from its neighbor, the border has also marked a grim reality: the largest happiness divide in Europe, with the happiest country alongside one of the unhappiest.

‘Other countries outside of the Nordics, like Canada, New Zealand and Netherlands have started examining wellbeing more closely to better understand what factors explain why some citizens are happy and some not. Wellbeing is very multi-layered. First, of course, you need to have your basic needs met. We might take food, shelter, and clean drinking water as self-evident, but if you suddenly lose them – like many civilians in Ukraine right now – life becomes a struggle. It’s much easier to think about higher needs, such as self-expression, when you can take your survival relatively for granted,’ says Frank Martela, an expert on the basis of Finland’s happiness.

‘Research shows that high national ranking on these surveys is not so much about culture,’ Martela notes. ‘It’s more about how a country’s institutions take care of their people – this leads to higher ratings of life satisfaction.’

Smart urban planning is part of how Finland promotes satisfaction and well-being. Access to green spaces reduces stress and promotes physical activity, and an environment of trust means that kids can move around independently and adults can feel safe and secure. Marketta Kyttä, professor of land use planning, says ‘a person’s environment plays a big role in their happiness, which makes the topic of health promotion in cities very important. It’s closely related to social sustainability and whether you feel connected to your community.’

Much of Finland’s success is underpinned by an effective system of progressive taxation, explains Timo Viherkenttä, a professor of practice in law and taxation. ‘Taxation – there’s two sides of the coin. It’s not a question of whether Finns are masochists and want to pay more. Finns get more social structure and safety with the higher taxes they pay. Nevertheless, we have to be vigilant that our tax euros are being spent efficiently,’ Viherkenttä says.

‘I think that health is a major factor in happiness. In Finland there’s always been heavy discussion around how to improve our healthcare and education systems – we prioritise these key initiatives so they’re not left behind,’ he says.

Aalto University experts are available to comment on following themes:

Measuring and maintaining well-being

Frank Martela is a philosopher and researcher of psychology specialized in meaningfulness, happiness, and how organizations and countries can unleash human potential. His book A Wonderful Life – Insights on Finding a Meaningful Experience (HarperCollins 2020) has been translated into 24 languages, including French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, and Indonesian.

Martela has become one of the key experts on why Finland is so happy. He has written about the topic for Scientific American Observer and co-authored a chapter on the Nordic countries for the 2020 Word Happiness Report. Martela has been interviewed by The New York Times, Vice News, Le Monde, and the Monocle Observer. He earned his first PhD in organizational research (Aalto University, 2012) and his second PhD in practical philosophy (University of Helsinki, 2019).

Urban planning to make people feel healthy and safe

Marketta Kyttä, professor of land use planning, studies child- and human-friendly environments, environments that promote wellbeing and health, urban lifestyles, perceived safety, as well as new methods for public participation. Her multidisciplinary research team is currently focused on the place-based, person-environment research with public participation, using geographic information system methodology. The team has also worked on numerous real-life public participation projects in Finnish cities and abroad.

High rewards from high taxes

Timo Viherkenttä is a professor of business law with extensive experience in tax law and the economy. He was the CEO of the State Pension Fund of Finland (2015-2020), and has also served as Justice of the Supreme Administrative Court, as well as Director General of the Budget Department at the Finnish Ministry of Finance.

Best Way To Fight With Your Partner, As Per Psychologists

When it comes to relationships, conflict is inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be emotionally distressing or callous. Couples can disagree and, yes, even fight while still showing compassion and respect for each other, according to psychologists.

In fact, clinical psychologist Deborah Grody says, married couples who don’t have any conflict are often the ones who end in divorce. “Relationships that can’t be saved are relationships where the flame has completely gone out, or it wasn’t there in the first place,” she says. When one or both partners are indifferent toward their relationship, they don’t care enough to even fight, according to Grody.

That said, frequent heated and hurtful conflict is certainly not healthy or sustainable, either. You can have conflicts with your partner in a constructive way, and it may actually bring you closer together, according to a 2012 paper published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers found that expressing anger to a romantic partner caused the short-term discomfort of anger, but also incited honest conversations that benefited the relationship in the long run.

If you want to navigate conflict with your partner in a healthier and more productive way, keep these things in mind during your next argument:

Be curious about your fights

During counseling sessions, Noam Ostrander, an associate professor of social work at DePaul University, often asks couples, “What does the 5:30 fight look like on weekdays?”

“They sort of smile because they know,” says Ostrander. That’s because, Ostrander says, couples often have the same fight over and over — almost following a script — without solving anything.

A common cause of “the 5:30 fight,” Ostrander says, is one partner wanting to tell the other about their day, and the other partner avoiding it — needing a minute to decompress after getting home from work. This likely leads to one partner accusing the other of not caring about them, and the other partner feeling attacked.

Instead, Ostrander encourages couples to pinpoint what triggers this repetitive fight, and try out ways to compromise instead of allowing the conflict to erupt. Rather than following the same old script, notice that you fight when one person gets home, and suggest a new way around that. “You can say, ‘What if we just pause, say hello or kiss hello, give it 15 minutes, and come back together,’” Ostrander says. This way, both partners can communicate that they do want to hear about the other person’s day and together, find the best way to do that.

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Schedule a time for conflict

Despite having even the most open lines of communication, conflicts are still bound to happen. And when they do, it’s helpful to choose a time to talk through problems, according to Grody. “If you start to have a fight, say, ‘Let’s pick it up this evening, or another time when there’s time to discuss things,’” she says.

Setting aside time to work out disagreements allows both partners the space to regroup and prepare, Grody explains. They can think about the best way to communicate their feelings in a calmer, more rational way, so as to avoid the instinct of being defensive or accusatory. “Most of the time, things are said on impulse in the heat of anger,” says Grody. “But the words stay with us.”

Call a timeout if you or your partner needs one

During an argument, it’s common for one or both partners to enter “fight, flight or freeze” mode, according to Ostrander. Humans enter one of these modes when they think they may be in danger, he says. “Fight or flight” refers to when stress hormones activate to give people more energy to either fight the stressor or run from the situation. And “freeze” mode occurs when a person simply does not react at all, in hopes that the stressor loses interest in the fight, he says.

When a couple is in this precarious zone, problem solving is highly unlikely, because each person is solely focused on reacting to the perceived threat they feel from their partner. And if only one person is in the “fight, flight or freeze” mode, while the other is trying to resolve the issue, it can frustrate both people and escalate the fight, Ostrander says.

“If you’re really upset with someone and they’re trying to problem solve, it can feel like they’re not even listening,” he says. “I often encourage, in those moments, that someone needs to call a timeout.”

And you can frame this timeout in a way that doesn’t make your partner feel like you’re simply walking away. “Perhaps somebody says, ‘Okay, I want to have this conversation. I need like 10 minutes to calm down. I love you, I’m not going anywhere,’” Ostrander says. “‘We’re going to come back to this, we’re going to figure it out.’”

When returning to the discussion after the brief hiatus, both people will be in a better place to make real progress, Ostrander says.

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Make requests instead of complaints

Fights often start with the same two words: “You always.” Rather than asking their partner to do something they’d like them to do, like cleaning up around the house, people jump to make accusations, according to Ostrander.

“You’re not getting what you want, because of how you’re asking for it,” he says. It’s easier for people to ask their partner why they never do something than it is to simply request that they do it.

Saying, “I’m not feeling great. I’m stressed about the way the house looks. Would you mind picking some stuff up?” is more direct and respectful than putting your loved one down for his or her failure to meet your need, Ostrander says. It’s also more likely to result in your partner completing the task.

Listen, and ask your partner for clarification

When the time comes to sit down and talk about solving conflicts, Grody says the most important thing couples can do is to listen — without interrupting. This can be more challenging than it seems. If your loved one says he or she doesn’t feel heard, for example, you should listen until your partner is finished speaking, according to Grody. Then, ask for clarification if there is something you don’t quite understand.

Asking, “what makes you feel like I’m not listening?” is a much more tactful way to address your partner’s complaint than simply saying, “well, I’m listening, so you should feel heard,” Grody says. Making sure you’re holding eye contact and positioning your body toward your partner when he or she is speaking will also signal that you are listening. These small adjustments can prevent countless fights down the road, Grody says.

And of course, during any fight, insults and character assassinations should be avoided at all costs, according to Grody. “Once it gets to the point where there’s name calling and things like that, the discussion should stop,” she says. “It’s not going to go anywhere.” Couples can come back to the conversation when both parties have had time to cool down.

Learn the right way to apologize to your partner

Just as people have different love languages, Ostrander says we have different apology languages, too. It’s not enough to recognize that you’ve hurt your loved one and you owe them an apology: You have to know them enough to tailor your apology to their needs, according to Ostrander.

“Some people want big gestures and some people want, ‘I’m really sorry I hurt your feelings, and I will take steps not to do that again,’” says Ostrander. “The process is figuring out what’s meaningful for your partner.”

Incorporating Pleasure Can Lead To Safer Sex: WHO Researchers

Teaching people about achieving sexual pleasure can help sell safe sex messages, according to researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The study found that programs using this approach improves condom use more than ones that focus only on the dangers of unprotected sex, the BBC reported. The researchers say enjoyment — rather than fear — is a healthy motivator.

Billions of dollars are spent around the world each year on sexual and reproductive health and rights services, yet many programmes do not address one of the fundamental reasons many people have sex — to feel good, the report said.

Anne Philpott, a public-health professional, set up The Pleasure Project — the group that worked with the WHO team — in 2004, as a result of the frustration of “endless Aids meetings where no one talked about people’s motivations for having sex”.

“Pleasure is arguably the most powerful motivating factor for having sex and yet has been absent from sex education or sexual-health interventions,” Philpott said.

“If you ask most people, ‘Did your sex education equip you for your relationships and sex lives?’ they will say, ‘No’,” she added.

Globally, a million sexually transmitted infections are acquired every day, the majority without symptoms. Using a condom can protect against these, as well as prevent pregnancy.

Philpott said condoms should be marketed as pleasure tools — as a way to enhance feeling and reassurance.

The researchers trawled medical literature to find recent examples of different safe-sex programs and measure their effects on behavior change. They found 33 projects promoting pleasure along with the safe-sex message, the report said.

And these tended to be more successful in terms of increasing condom usage than those that focused only on sexually transmitted infections and risk reduction, it added.

Teaching about pleasure, desire and joy alongside consent, wellbeing and safety are the objectives of a pleasure-based sex education programme. (IANS)

Americans Less Likely To Have Sex, Partner Up And Get Married Than Ever

Valentine’s Day is a day of love, a special day on which we’re supposed to make sure that those around us know how much we care for them. But on this day when Cupid is supposed to strike us with his arrow, there are several reasons to think “love” (by its many definitions) isn’t what it once was in the United States, for better or for worse.

Indeed, here are four potentially troubling statistics and one potentially positive sign about love in the US. We’re at a 30-year low for sex

Twenty-six percent of Americans ages 18 and up didn’t have sex once over the past 12 months, according to the 2021 General Social Survey. You might think this is just a pandemic effect, but it’s part of a long-term trend. The two years with next-highest percentage of adults saying they didn’t have sex once in the past year were 2016 (23%) and 2018 (23%) — the last two times the survey was conducted. Before 2004, the highest percentage of Americans who said they hadn’t had sex in the past year was 19%.

Last year’s survey was also the first time that the percentage of Americans who had sex once a month or less topped 50%. In 1989, 35% of American adults had sex once a month or less.

Some of this has to do with fewer people getting married and an aging population, but that doesn’t explain all of it. Among married couples under the age of 60, 26% had sex once a month or less in 2021. In 1989, it was 12%. The 1980s really were better for sex.

We’re at a 30-year low for living together: Fewer people are living together with a partner.

It’s not just about sex. Some 62% of Americans ages 25 to 54 lived with a partner or were married, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center study of 2019 US Census Bureau data. This included 53% who were married and 9% who were cohabitating. That’s well below the 71% of couples who lived together in 1990, with 67% married and 4% cohabitating.

You might think the growing share of unmarried people living without a spouse is due to rising educational levels among women who don’t need the financial support of a man. The statistics tell a different story, though. Better educated people and higher wage earners are the most likely to live with a partner or be married. A lot of people won’t get married if they don’t think it’s financially feasible, according to Pew polling.

There’s also been a higher increase in unmarried men living alone (10 points) than women (7 points) compared to the 1990 baseline.

Partnership is at a low, not just marriage Could it just be the case that people are still in relationships, but don’t want to be tied down by either living together or being married? Yes, but the statistics suggest something else is cooking.

The General Social Survey has, on and off since 1986, asked participants whether they had a steady partner. This past year, 30% of adults ages 25 to 54 (the same age bracket as the Pew study) indicated that they did not have a steady partner. In 1986, it was 20%. In fact, the percentage of 25- to 54-year-olds who said they didn’t have a steady partner never topped 23% prior to the 2010s. It’s been 25% or above in every survey since.

Interestingly, as the population ages and more Baby Boomers have gotten above the age of 55, the percentage of older folks in a relationship has stayed fairly steady — in the mid-to-high 60s on average.

That means this trend toward singledom is more about young people than older people. It’s the same with sex: The percentage of those age 55 and older not having any sex in the last year (40%) is about the same as it was 30 years ago.

Many Americans Didn’t Get Their Partner A Card For Valentine’s Day

Of course, the reason love is on my mind is that today is Valentine’s Day. Love is supposed to be in the air.  A 2022 Monmouth University poll found, however, that a mere 55% of Americans in relationships usually receive a Valentine’s Day card from their partner. Combine the other 45% with the over 30% of all American adults without a partner, and most people aren’t getting a card from a partner this year.

Once again, it’s among the younger generation where love seems to be less in the air. The clear majority (64%) of Americans ages 55 and older who are in a relationship say they usually get a card from their partner. This drops to 57% among those ages 35 to 54 and a mere 41% in my age bracket (18-34).

It shouldn’t be that hard to do Valentine’s Day right. Our partners really don’t want that much from us. Just 4% want an expensive gift more than anything else for Valentine’s Day. The majority across age brackets yearn for a simple gift like chocolates or to spend the night at home with their partner doing a favorite activity.

The divorce rate is dropping

If there is one thing good about declining marriage and partner rates, it’s that it seems people are less likely to run headlong into a marriage that has a high probability of failing.

The rate of divorces and annulments was at its lowest level this century in 2019, according to the CDC/NCHS National Vital Statistics System. There were 2.7 divorces and annulments per 1,000 people in the population. That’s down from 4 per 1,000 in the year 2000.

It shouldn’t be surprising, therefore, that the divorce rate among young adults has seen the sharpest drop. This is the group that is least likely to marry, and those who do seem to be doing a better job of going into a marriage that has a good chance of succeeding.

Maybe one day I’ll be one of those lucky ones in a successful marriage. A boy can hope. Can’t he?

Covid Lockdown Linked To Increase In Drinking At Home

Lockdown measures throughout 2020 have been linked to people in Scotland and England drinking more at home, according to new research.

The latest study, from researchers at the University of Sheffield and University of Glasgow, measured the impact of COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 on drinking practices, using data on almost 300,000 adult drinkers.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, found that while people were broadly drinking the same amount of alcohol during periods of restrictions as they were when no restrictions were in place, lockdowns appeared to be linked to a shift in habits to at-home, late evening drinking.

In Scotland, the study found that there was also an increase in solitary drinking, although researchers say this could be explained by a higher proportion of people living alone in Scotland than in England.

At-home drinking remains an under-researched area, and while the long-term impacts of these recent changes are not yet known, the study authors suggest that these new drinking habits should be closely monitored as we move into a period of fewer restrictions.

During the first UK lockdown, venues such as pubs and restaurants were closed, affecting the type of locations where people could drink alcohol. Restrictions were eased from July 2020, with pubs and restaurants gradually allowed to reopen. However, from September 2020 in response to rising case numbers, a series of national and local restrictions were put in place that once again impacted hospitality settings.

The research team studied 41,500 adult drinkers in Scotland and more than 250,000 adult drinkers in England, focusing on the original March 2020 lockdown, the easing of restrictions in July 2020 and the onset of further restrictions in September 2020 until December 2020.

While figures show there was no statistical difference in the total number of alcohol units consumed each week during different periods of the first year of the pandemic, more detailed analysis reveals that lockdown restrictions were associated with people starting to drink later in the day, and in Scotland where there is a higher proportion of people living alone, with more solitary drinking.

Dr Abigail Stevely, co-author of the study from the University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group, said: “Despite some concerns that people might drink more in the day-time, we actually found that there was a shift towards people starting drinking later in the evening during lockdown restrictions. This perhaps reflects changes in people’s routines and the absence of opportunities for daytime socialising such as going to the pub with colleagues after work.

“Although we found that lockdown restrictions did not change overall levels of alcohol consumption, there is evidence from other studies that heavier drinkers may have increased their consumption. It will be therefore important to continue monitoring drinking during the pandemic to prevent additional health problems in future.”

The study’s findings suggest shop-bought alcohol consumption increased following the March 2020 lockdown and remained persistently higher than previous years throughout the rest of 2020, even in the period when lockdown restrictions were eased. Meanwhile, hospitality alcohol consumption decreased following the March 2020 lockdown and remained lower than previous years throughout the remainder of 2020.

The researchers believe this is most likely explained by three reasons: even when on-trade premises reopened they were operating at reduced capacity; some venues (e.g. nightclubs and live music venues) remained closed; some people will have continued to stay away from hospitality settings even in periods of lesser restrictions over fears of catching COVID-19.

Dr Iain Hardie, lead author of the study from the University of Glasgow MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, said: “Going forward it remains unclear what the long-term consequences will be of the changes in alcohol consumption in 2020. With hospitality premises back operating at closer to full capacity it’s likely that alcohol consumption in these venues will move closer to pre-pandemic levels, although they could potentially decline again in response to new variants if restrictions are reintroduced or people are afraid of indoor spaces.

“However, the increase in home drinking in 2020 is a concern. We know from other studies that alcohol related harm has risen during the pandemic. The increase in home drinking is likely to have contributed to this. In the past, home drinking has been a relatively under researched topic, and there is now a need to monitor it more going forward to find out whether these home drinking habits picked up by people in 2020  become a new norm within peoples’ drinking behaviour. ”

The study, ‘The impact of changes in COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on alcohol consumption and drinking occasion characteristics in Scotland and England in 2020: an interrupted time-series analysis’ is published in Addiction. The work is funded by The Economic and Social Research Council. The Medical Research Council and the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office.

The University of Sheffield is one of the world’s top 100 universities, renowned for the excellence, impact and distinctiveness of its research-led learning and teaching.

With six Nobel Prize winners among its former staff and students, Sheffield has a proud history of discovery, innovation and social change. In 1930, it pioneered the very first medical use of penicillin, while more recently researchers developed a lifesaving drug for the treatment of ovarian and breast cancer.

U.S. Population Growth Has Nearly Flatlined, New Census Data Shows

America’s population size is standing still, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population growth over the 12-month period from July 1, 2020 through July 1, 2021 stood at unprecedented low of just 0.12%. This is the lowest annual growth since the Bureau began collecting such statistics in 1900, and reflects how all components of population change—deaths, births, and immigration levels—were impacted during a period when the COVID-19 pandemic became most prevalent.[i]

The new estimates show that during this period, population growth declined from the previous year in 31 of 50 states as well as Washington, D.C., with 18 states sustaining absolute population losses. In some states, especially California and New York, population losses were exacerbated by inflated out-migration during the pandemic, just as other states such as Florida and Texas benefitted from greater population in-flows.

While COVID-19 clearly played a role in this near-zero population growth, that growth had begun to plummet even before the pandemic. The 2020 census showed that from 2010 to 2020, the U.S. registered the second-lowest decade growth in its history—a consequence, in large part, of the aging of its population, which led to more deaths and fewer births. Nonetheless, the new data shows that pandemic-related demographic forces have left an indelible mark on the nation.

Historic dips and spikes in population growth follow pandemics and economic trends

The unprecedented near cessation of U.S. population growth is depicted in Figure 1, which charts annual growth rates in the 121-year period from 1900 to 2021. Over this time, the nation experienced wide variations in growth, resulting from wars, economic booms and busts, as well as changing fertility and immigration patterns.

Noteworthy are the sharp dips in growth: in 1918-19, due largely to the Spanish Flu pandemic, and in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a result of the Great Depression. Growth rose to levels approaching 2% during the prosperous post-World War II “baby boom” years of the 1950s and 1960s. And after a lull in the 1970s and 1980s, population growth rose again in the 1990s due to rising immigration and millennial generation births.

The 21st century ushered in another population growth downturn, exacerbated by the 2007-09 Great Recession. This spilled into a 2010s decade-wide growth slowdown that provided a backdrop for the nearly flat growth of 0.12% in 2020-21. This most recent statistic reflects more deaths and fewer births associated with an aging population along with greater restrictions in immigration near the end of the decade, even before the pandemic hit.

The factors that led to today’s unprecedented flat growth rate

The demographic components of reduced population growth in 2020-21 are depicted in Figure 2, which contrasts year-by-year changes since 2000 in what demographers call “natural increase”—the excess of births over deaths as well as net international migration.

As indicted above, declines in the nation’s natural increase levels during the 2010s reflected more deaths associated with an aging population as well as the after-effects of the Great Recession in the postponement of childbearing for young adult women. Immigration trends were more uneven due to changing economic circumstances, including the recession and immediate post-recession downturn, as well as immigration policies that became more restrictive during the Trump administration.

Both natural increase and immigration contributions to population growth became markedly reduced in 2020-21, in large part due to the pandemic. (Pandemic impacts were partially evident already in 2019-20 data.) Population gains attributable to natural increase rose as high as 1.1 million in 2016-17, but dropped to 677,000 in 2019-20 and then again to 148,000 in 2020-21. Over the past two years, the number of deaths in the U.S. rose by 363,000 (from 3.07 million to 3.43 million) and the number of births declined by 166,000 (from 3.74 million to 3.58 million)—reflecting, in part, pandemic-related decisions to postpone having children.

Immigration levels plummeted as well, exacerbating the impacts of earlier policy restrictions. The new estimates showed a net international migration of just 256,000 in 2020-21—down from an already low 477,000 in 2019-20 and from over 1 million per year in the middle of the 2010s decade.

Despite this decline in immigration, it was the dip in natural increase—propelled by deaths during the pandemic—that drove much of the nation’s dramatic growth slowdown.  In contrast to earlier years, the contribution of natural increase to the nation’s growth was even less than that of immigration.

Eighteen states lost population in the past year

The national growth slowdown exerted a broad impact across the nation’s states. Among the nation’s 50 states and Washington, D.C., 31 showed lower growth (or greater losses) in 2020-21 than in 2019-20 (see downloadable Table B).

The states that led in growth rates were mostly in the Mountain West, including Idaho, Utah, Montana, and Arizona, which had annual rates exceeding 1.4%. In terms of numeric growth, the biggest gainers in 2020-21 were Texas (310,000 people), Florida (211,000), Arizona (98,000), and North Carolina (93,000). Still, these gains were smaller than what these states saw in 2019-20 or 2018-19.

Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that 18 states (including Washington, D.C.) lost population in 2020-21. This is up from 16 population-losing states 2019-20; 14 in 2018-19; and just 10 in the two prior years.

New York and California registered the biggest numeric losses. Both states showed substantially greater losses in 2020-21 than in the prior two years, as was the case for most states that sustained recent population losses.

Twenty-five states registered more deaths than births

The poor growth performance of most states in 2020-21 reflects a combination of lower natural increase and smaller immigration from abroad—components which led to reduced national growth and reduced domestic migration across states (see downloadable Table C).

All 50 states and Washington, D.C. displayed lower natural increase in 2020-21 than in the previous year. Moreover, 25 states showed what demographers call “natural decrease”—an excess of deaths over births. Led by Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia, most of these states are in the nation’s Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast. Just eight of these states registered natural decreases in 2019-20; in 2018-19, this was the case for only four (West Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont).

Similarly, immigration from abroad was lower across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. in 2020-21 than in the previous year. This is especially the case for those with greatest immigrant gains: Florida, Texas, New York, and California.

Domestic migration sharpened state gains and losses

Domestic migration (movement within the U.S.) is the one demographic component which can either worsen or improve state population growth in a slow growth environment. This was especially the case during the past year, when pandemic-related economic, social, and safety factors prompted selective movement flows.

The new census estimates show how domestic migration impacted states which both lost and gained population. For example, the three states with the greatest overall population losses—New York, California, and Illinois—were the three leaders in net out-migration.    These states contain major cities and metropolitan areas, which have been associated with out-migration during the pandemic, and registered greater out-migration in 2020-21 than in each of the previous two years. It is also noteworthy that Washington, D.C. lost 23,000 domestic migrants—a huge outlier from earlier years, when the city experienced far smaller migration losses or gains (see downloadable Table C).

Similarly, states with the greatest overall population gains—Texas, Florida, and Arizona—were leaders in 2020-21 domestic in-migration. Just as most migrant-losing states shed greater numbers of migrants during the pandemic than earlier, it is the case that most migrant-gaining states (Arizona and Nevada were among the exceptions) gained more migrants than before.

A historic demographic low point

Among the many consequences the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on the nation, its impact on the nation’s demographic stagnation is likely to be consequential. The new census estimates make plain that as a result of more deaths, fewer births, and a recent low in immigration, America has achieved something close to zero growth in the 2020-21 period. This trend has affected most states, and will lead to sharp changes in how many Americans make decisions about childbearing as well as where and how they live.

While it is true that the rise in pandemic-period deaths—especially among the older population—contributed much to this slow growth, declines in fertility and immigration also added a great deal. Because the latter demographic components contribute most to any future rise in the nation’s youth and labor-force-age population, it is vital that we examine public policies that can overcome barriers to the bearing and raising of children and, probably most important, stimulate immigration in ways that will reinvigorate the nation’s population growth.

Even before the onset of the pandemic, Census Bureau projections foresaw the onset of slower growth, increased aging, and continued stagnation of our labor force. Among the many ways that are needed to recover from the pandemic, a focus on reactivating the nation’s population growth should be given high priority.

How American Couples’ ‘Inter-Hindu’ Marriages Are Changing The Faith

When my wife and I started dating, we thought our shared Hindu faith would make things simpler. We had friends who had dated non-Hindus who had encountered bumps when it came to how they would tie the knot and how the children would be raised. The fact that we were both Hindus meant we could sidestep those kinds of interfaith hassles.

We soon learned that, even though we both called ourselves Hindu, some key differences in the way we each practiced the faith complicated our relationship.

The oldest of the major global faiths, Hinduism formed more than 4,000 years ago out of widely diverse sects across what we now call India. As it spread to the four corners of the globe, thanks in part to the Indian diaspora prompted by British rule, Hinduism took on local colors.

The Hindu identity of my wife’s family was shaped by generations of living in Guyana, a former British colony on the northeast shoulder of South America. Their practice was shaped by the trauma of indentured servitude, pressure from Christian missionaries and cultural hybridity passed down from generations in the West Indies.

My family traces its lineage to the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where our faith was shaped by thousands of years of rituals and rites of worship, some of them germane only to Tamils.

As our lives were intertwined, I adapted to singing bhajans, devotional songs that were foreign to me growing up. I learned to celebrate Holi, or Pagwah, the spring holiday called the festival of colors, which is less known in South India. My wife, for her part, had to familiarize herself with my family’s observance of regional festivals such as Pongal, celebrating the sun deity Surya, which is observed widely in the Tamil diaspora on Jan. 14.

Our conflicts may not have the same implications as a Catholic marrying a Protestant, a Sunni marrying a Shia or even an Orthodox Jew marrying a Reform Jew, for whom the theological differences may go beyond devotional customs. Nonetheless, nearly two decades after we met, we still occasionally encounter tensions about when to celebrate a given holiday or which mantras — prayers — are correct in certain religious observances.

But over time we have come to understand that our differences are cultural deviations and that our spiritual practices are enriched when we meld the best of both of our backgrounds.

In raising our child, we are combining elements of both of our cultural practices and theological interpretations of Hinduism, making sure that he participates in the Hindu devotionals his Caribbean ancestors did to maintain their religion through a life of bondage, while teaching him how to identify religious symbols in Tamil, my ancestral language.

Groups, such as the Pew Research Center, that study religious demographics don’t keep data on intercultural and inter-tradition relationships and marriages, but such bonds among American Hindus are clearly on the rise as the children of different diaspora communities meet at school or at work and as Hindus have begun identifying more with the idea of being Hindu than a specific sect or tradition within the faith.

It’s no longer uncommon to see relationships between, say, Sri Lankan and Trinidadian Hindus, or Hindus from South Africa and those from the Indian state of Punjab. While these couples have Indian heritage in common, however distant, we have also seen increasing numbers of relationships between Indic and non-Indic young people, such as Indonesian Hindus.

The choices American Hindus make about who they will marry will have profound implications for the next generation. In some sense, the implications are contradictory: Some Hindus will inevitably move away from regional and cultural identities — losing some of their grounding in the faith — while at the same time more deeply embracing a faith based on common devotional practice.

The most significant example may be caste, a system that is not theologically intrinsic to or scripturally codified in Hinduism but is internalized by many Hindus from India and other parts of the Indian subcontinent. Already we have seen caste become a less important issue as Indian-American Hindus enter into relationships with non-Indian Hindus (and, indeed, non-Hindus).

But younger American-born Hindus are also less attached to theological considerations or fidelity to a sampradaya, or philosophical tradition. As a result, more Saivites (followers of Siva) are marrying Vaishnavites (followers of Vishnu) or devotees of the feminine goddess Shakti.

There are also increasing numbers of marriages between the mostly Indian American followers of Chinmaya Mission and the many white, Black and other non-South Asian devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, known popularly as Hare Krishnas.

This could mean some sampradayas may see a dip in their memberships as more Hindus identify with a broader religious community and a more unified idea of American Hinduism, distinct from other Hinduisms in regions like South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean.

For those of us who are now raising that next generation, these changes are an opportunity and challenge as we redefine what it means to be Hindu in America.

(Murali Balaji, a former award-winning journalist, is a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the editor of “Digital Hinduism: Dharma and Discourse in the Age of New Media.” The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

This column is produced by Religion News Service with support from the Guru Krupa Foundation.

How Social Media Influences Our Perception Of Love

Many of us don’t genuinely compare true love, but we draw similarities from films and television shows. Doesnt that make you think? Do you ever wonder why people seem to have bought into an idea of love, which is designed for amusement?

Social media impacts our perceptions of true love and what it should look like. Let’s have a look at some of the tools it employs.

High passion: This is defined as ensuring that your partnership is satisfied every day. It means that both partners are entirely satisfied with their relationship at all times. Each person is constantly filled with butterflies for the other. This is just one aspect of your union when you truly fall in love and are a member of a solid relationship. You’ll have off-days and days when you’d rather share something emotionally with each other than physically. You’ll have days when you don’t want to talk at all. True love is when you can sit in a room with someone and be at ease in silence.

Romance: It’s all about the romance in the movies: the flowers, the fancy dinners, the mansion and valuing your life over his. It’s critical to value romance. Small things, on the other hand, are what keep it going. It’s something that both parties should work on. Do you get up early to say your goodbyes before he goes for work? When he arrives home, do you get a kiss? Even after courtship, if you practice simple things, the spark will stay. It’s up to you both to keep it alive.

The “nomeansyes” trope: This is a difficult one. It’s difficult because social media has discovered a technique to persuade us to believe in an idea that is neither pragmatic nor realistic. We have a tendency to believe that the one person with whom our timing was off, the one who slipped away, would someday return to us.

Wouldn’t someone who is so ideal for you find a method to communicate with you? Yes, there are times when this genuinely works. However, it’s definitely better to let someone leave with no expectations for the future. Allow the last chapter to come to a close and look forward to the next. There’s a reason for everything. Perhaps the pages in your book that were set aside for the person have ran out. You should allow yourself to consider a re-read if the stars mysteriously align.

The perfect person: Sorry to break it to you, but this is also a myth. Why? Because there is no such thing as a flawless human. We see flawless portrayals of individuals in the media because a playwright has painstakingly crafted them. This could be their idealised version of what someone should be. There is a fact that you should quit looking for someone who is perfect in every way. Are you flawless? Look for someone whose goals and values align with yours. Most crucial, aim for a relationship where you can adore each other’s great as well as unfavorable aspects. Love is accepting each other’s flaws as well.

For us, social media generates illusions. We cling to illusions that help us build our ideals and notions about what love should be like. Let go of those illusions. Love is more about acts than it is about the flawless picture. Perhaps we should take a different approach.

Instead of waiting for them to make the first move, if you truly love someone, you should be bold enough to take action, to make the grand gesture at the end of the movie, and to profess your love. Instead of ideals, perhaps what we should take away from social media is the power to find answers and take control.

Is Hybrid Dating The New Norm?

Aside from the medical concerns that the epidemic presented to millions of people, there was also an overwhelming sense of loneliness and fear that contributed to mental health problems. Humans are social beings, so it’s only natural that they want to connect with others and develop meaningful bonds. In fact, in the 21-30 age range, 90 per cent of men and 78 per cent of women showed a strong desire to venture out during these difficult times.

Eagerness to get out and meet new people

Two out of every three males in the 18-21 age group believe that they are obligated to go out and meet intriguing people; they believe that they no longer have a choice. Instead, it’s an absolute must to keep them sane.

According to QuackQuack CEO Ravi Mittal, the epidemic has produced a global feeling of agonising isolation triggered by stay-at-home standards. ‘The yearning among people, particularly young people, to return to regular conduct is stronger than ever. They’ve been glued to their screens for the past 18 months and can’t take it any longer.’

The sweet spot between video calls and restaurant dates.

While the epidemic has caused certain mental problems, it can never be regarded casually. It is necessary to maintain vigilance since lives are at stake. A decent strategy would be to keep the interactions online for as long as feasible and then organise for ‘meets-in-person’ when the pain of nostalgia becomes too much to bear. Men and women can communicate via phone conversations, chats, and video calls while also planning meet-ups at a favourite hangout.

At least 52 per cent of men aged 21 to 30 and 45 per cent of men aged 31 and up are willing to leave their homes on occasion for brunch or dinner dates. The fact that this population has already been vaccinated is one clear reason. According to App, 75 per cent of males in the 18-20 age bracket are willing to go out with their dates while adhering to all pandemic restrictions. A combination of online and physical dates, according to 44 per cent of women, is the greatest option for pursuing a romantic relationship.

Challenges that stem from dating the ‘hybrid’ way

In this time of uncertainty and disease, about 55 per cent of women between the ages of 21 and 30 are nervous about going out on a date. They do agree, however, that if they are too lonely or miserable to stay at home for too long, they may reconsider their decision not to go on an offline date. Moving out of your gates and attempting to enjoy a few moments with the one you love is both exciting and terrifying. Hybrid dating may not be the greatest option for lovers who are so enamoured with each other that they don’t want to be apart for even a second. It is still the most practical approach that is precisely aligned with the current circumstances.

It has the support of a large number of people of various ages, and as the trend gains traction, it is safe to assume that hybrid dating is not risky – 83 per cent of males in the 30+ age group agree. People are catching on to this new trend: in the last three months, the number of women who agree with the concept of hybrid dating has increased by 50 per cent . After all, mental health is at the top of the list of things that might assist you in living a happy life. There are no questions to be asked if anything assists you in achieving that goal. Everything is fair and just when it comes to finding ways to spend time with the people you care about. (IANS)

Tools For Peace: Pope Francis Presents Three Points To Ponder

Every year on the New Year’s Day, the Church celebrates the World Day of Peace. Each year the Holy Father sends a message for the celebration of this day. This year, on the 55th World Day of Peace, Pope Francis had this message for us: “Dialogue Between Generations; Education; and Work: Tools for Building Lasting Peace.”

In his introductory remarks, Pope Francis expresses his sadness over the fact that the path of peace which St. Pope Paul VI called by a new name of integral development, “remains sadly distant from the real lives of many men and women and thus from our human family, which is now entirely interconnected.” Despite numerous efforts, wars and armed conflicts, diseases of pandemic, effects of climate change and environmental degradation, hunger and economic slowdown add up to disruption of peace in the world.

The Pope reminds us that peace is both a gift from high and the fruit of a shared commitment. All of us, therefore, must contribute our mite towards peace beginning with our own individual hearts and families, then within the society and all working up to relationships between peoples and nations.

Pope Francis proposes three paths for building lasting peace. First, Dialogue between Generations, second, Education and third Work. A word on each:

Dialogue Between Generations to Build Peace: In a world beset with untold problems, two common reactions of people are, either to flee from reality or to react with destructive violence. But the Pope says that there is another possible option: “Yet between selfish indifference and violent protest there is always another possible option: that of dialogue. Dialogue between generations”. He goes on to explain: “Dialogue entails listening to one another, sharing different views, coming to agreement and walking together.” This sounds very much like the way we are to be involved in the current synodal process on Synodality.

We must note here that the Pope does not merely preach but works to promote peace. We recall with great admiration how a couple of years ago the Pope brought leaders of two warring factions of South Sudan together and even knelt down and kissed their feet to broker peace.

Stressing the urgent need for an inter-generational partnership, Pope Francis affirms: “Young people need the wisdom and experience of the elderly, while those who are older need the support, affection, creativity and dynamism of the young.” The Pope is of the opinion that “the global crisis we are experiencing makes it clear that encounter and dialogue between generations should be the driving force behind a healthy politics, that is not content to manage the present with piecemeal solutions or quick fixes, but views itself as an outstanding form of love for others, in the search for shared and sustainable projects for the future”.

For such lasting endeavours, dialogue between the elderly (“keepers of memory”) and the young (“those who move history forward”) is necessary. Each must be willing to make room for others and not to insist on monopolizing the entire scene for pursuing their own immediate interests.

Such inter-generational dialogue is also necessary when we think of care for our common home. The environment, the Pope reminds us, “is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next.”

Teaching and Education as Drivers of Peace: To build paths of peace together we cannot ignore education which is a privileged setting and context for integral development. “Education provides the grammar for dialogue between generations,” observes the Holy Father.

However, the Supreme Pontiff laments that “In recent years, there has been a significant reduction worldwide in funding for education and training; these have been seen more as expenditures than investments. Yet they are the primary means of promoting integral human development; they make individuals free and responsible, and they are essential for the defence and promotion of peace. In a word, teaching and education are the foundations of a cohesive civil society capable of generating hope, prosperity and progress”.

While there is a significant reduction in the funds for education, on the other hand, military expenditures have increased and they seem certain to grow exorbitantly, says the Holy Father. He goes on to call governments to “develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry”.

The Pope hopes that “investment in education will also be accompanied by greater efforts to promote the culture of care…. A country flourishes when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components: popular culture, university culture, youth culture, artistic culture, technological culture, economic culture, family culture and media culture”.

Pope Francis says that it is essential then “to forge a new cultural paradigm” through “a global pact on education for and with future generations, one that commits families, communities, schools, universities, institutions, religions, governments and the entire human family to the training of mature men and women”.

It is by investing in the education and training of younger generations, we can help them, through a focused programme of formation, to take their rightful place in the labour market, affirms the Pope.

Creating and Ensuring Labour Builds Peace: “Labour is an indispensable factor in building and keeping peace”. Humans are social animals. We always work with or for someone. Hence the work place enables us to learn to make our contribution towards a more habitable and beautiful world.

The Pope is well aware that the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected the labour market. Millions of economic and productive activities have failed. Migrant workers have suffered particularly with no system of welfare or social security for them. Violence and organized crimes are on the increase in many countries. The only answer to this is “an expansion of dignified employment opportunities” according to the Holy Father.

“Labour, in fact, is the foundation on which to build justice and solidarity in every community. Peace is not possible without justice and solidarity. Efforts must be made to encourage a renewed sense of social responsibility, so that profit will not be the sole guiding criteria.” The fundamental human rights of the workers must be respected. When justice is ensured and human rights are respected, the workers will themselves contribute to building peace.

Holy Father concludes his World Day of Peace Message with the following appeal to government leaders, those with political and social responsibilities, priests and pastoral workers, and to all men and women of good will: “Let us walk together with courage and creativity on the path of intergenerational dialogue, education, and work.

May more and more men and women strive daily, with quiet humility and courage, to be artisans of peace. And may they be ever inspired and accompanied by the blessings of the God of peace”. Let us pay heed to the Holy Father’s appeal and to his peace message. Let us use the three tools proposed by him and contribute our share in building world peace. Peace be with you!

How Break-Ups, Solitude Disproportionately Affect Middle-Aged Men

Break-ups and years of living alone may increase the risk of ill health and death — but apparently only for men, according to a new Danish study.

A few breakups or years lived alone is not in itself a risk of poor health but the combination of long-term solitude and multiple failed relationships is shown to affect levels of two inflammatory markers significantly, the study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s department of social medicine showed. The findings were published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

The researchers used data from the Copenhagen Ageing and Midlife Biobank for over 4,800 participants (aged 48 to 62) between 1986 and 2011. The data included information on serial partnership breakups and the number of years lived alone, apart from the participants’ education, long-term health conditions, medicines etc.

Blood samples were taken to measure the inflammatory markers interleukin 6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP).

The researchers found that the highest levels of inflammatory markers in men were found in those who had experienced the most partnership breakups. Inflammatory markers were up to 12% higher in the group who had spent seven or more years living alone.

No such associations were found among women, although the study had just 1,499 women. But the authors also suggest that men tend to externalise their behaviour following a partnership breakup, by drinking, for example, whereas women tend to internalise, having depressive symptoms. This may influence inflammatory levels differently.

Partnership breakups and living alone are associated with several adverse health outcomes. The aim of this study, carried out in Denmark, is to investigate whether accumulated numbers of divorces/partnership breakups or years lived alone across 26 years of adult life are associated with levels of inflammation, and if vulnerability with regards to gender or educational level can be identified.

Methods 4835 participants from the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank (CAMB) aged 48–62 years were included. Data on accumulated numbers of partnership breakups and years living alone were retrieved from a national standardised annual register. Inflammatory markers interleukin 6 (IL-6) and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were measured in blood samples. Multivariate linear regression analyses were adjusted for age, educational level, early major life events, body mass index, chronic diseases, medicinal intake affecting inflammation, acute inflammation and personality scores.

Results For men, an association was found between an increasing number of partnership breakups or number of years living alone and higher levels of inflammatory markers. No such association was found for women, and no evidence of partnership breakups and educational level having a joint effect was found for either gender.

Conclusion The findings suggest a strong association between years lived alone or accumulated number of partnership breakups and low-grade inflammation for middle-aged men, but not for women. Among those of either sex with a lower level of education, no specific vulnerability to accumulated years lived alone or number of breakups was identified.

Indra Nooyi Discusses Life Experiences With Indian American Community

The Connecticut Chapter of the Global organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO-CT) and the India Cultural Center (ICC) of Greenwich, Milan Cultural Association of Hartford and Ascend Connecticut/Westchester Chapter co-hosted a program ‘A Conversation with Indra Nooyi’ December 4, 2021, at The Village, near Star Point in Stamford, Connecticut, USA.

It was a sold-out program, according to a press release, to hear the famous Indian-American CEO, who is a national icon in the U.S., especially for women and immigrants to this country.

Nooyi’s memoir, My Life in Full: Work, Family and Our Future. Was published recently, and discussions at the meeting revolved around the book as well as on life in general for the Indian-American community.

Raised in a traditional home in South India, Nooyi broke many stereotypes to become the first woman to head PepsiCo and enhance the company’s image and revenues, all while raising a family in Connecticut.

A graduate of the Yale School of Management, Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 2019 and was there for 24 years. In her book, Indra Nooyi shares these experiences and ideas of how to balance work and family for women.

At the Dec. 4 event, Nooyi spoke on her life from coming to the U.S. and climbing the ladder to become the first Indian CEO of a Fortune 50 company, at the same time managing her family and helping society at large.

The discussion was moderated by ICC Director Mudita Bhargava, who asked a range of questions. Bhargava is also a Vice Chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Greenwich high school seniors Maya Hirani and Veda Swaminathan introduced Moderator Bhargava and Speaker Indra Nooyi.

“Family is the most important unit that exists, however, families are fragile and can be messy at times, but it is better to keep it intact,” Nooyi is quoted saying at the meeting. On women’s empowerment, Nooyi said, “It is very important for the women to be educated and be financially independent.”

A sold-out audience for the Dec. 4, 2021, event hosted in Connecticut by GOPIO and several other organizations, to discuss former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi’s new book. Photo courtesy GOPIO “Women are making a difference, for example, 70% of female students in High Schools are valedictorians and they get whole 1 point more in GPA, 47% of MIT students are women and more that 50% graduates are women,” Nooyi added.

On the role of technology in our lives, Nooyi said that one needs to juggle priorities to balance work and families. On mental health, Nooyi has said “There’s a stigma attached to it, we deny this issue, however we should talk about mental health and support those dealing with it.”

On rising upward in your profession, Nooyi recommended, “Put your hand up for the most difficult assignment because then you’ll leave the mark and you’ll be remembered.” The vote of thanks was offered by GOPIO-CT Vice President Dr. Jaya Daptardar. The book Indra Nooyi – My Life in Full: Work, Family and Our Future is available from Amazon.

America Growing More Secular By The Year

Christmas is just 10 days away, and most Americans will celebrate the birth of Jesus. But a new poll from Pew shows the share of U.S. adults who consider themselves Christian is falling. Only 63% of Americans self-identify as Christian this year, a marked drop from 75% 10 years ago.

The declining number of Americans who say they are Christian is offset by a growing number of people who call themselves atheist, agnostic or people of no particular faith. These unaffiliated Americans make up a full 29% of the U.S. population, up from 19% in 2011.

“The secularizing shifts evident in American society so far in the 21st century show no signs of slowing,” the Pew researchers concluded. “The religiously unaffiliated share of the public is 6 percentage points higher than it was five years ago and 10 points higher than a decade ago.” “In U.S., roughly three-in-ten adults now religiously unaffiliated” Graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center

Though Christians are still a healthy majority, their decline is perhaps best reflected in two questions from the poll: how often people pray and how important religion is in their lives. Only 45% of U.S. adults said they pray on a daily basis (down from 58% in a similar 2007 survey). And the number of Americans who say religion is “very important” in their lives is also falling: 41% of Americans consider religion “very important” in their lives, down from 56% in 2007.

Protestants account for most of the decline — down 4 percentage points from five years ago and 10 percentage points since a decade ago, with both evangelical and nonevangelical Protestants declining overall to 40% of U.S. adults. Catholics held relatively steady at 21%.

“This is at least in part a reaction to the political environment,” said David Campbell, professor of American democracy at the University of Notre Dame who has written about American secularization. “Many people turning away from religion do so because they think of religion as an expression of political conservatism, or as a wing of the Republican Party. That’s especially true of white Americans. The more religion is wrapped up in a political view, the more people who don’t share that political view say, ‘That’s not for me.’”

There was no corresponding rise in the number of Americans adhering to other faiths. A total of 6% of Americans identify with non-Christian faiths, including 1% who describe themselves as Jewish, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhist, 1% who are Hindu and 2% who identify with a wide variety of other faiths.

But notably, the number of atheists and agnostics in the survey roughly doubled in the past decade to 4% and 5% respectively, up from 2% and 3% in 2011.  Some scholars said this doubling may not be as big a shift numerically as it is culturally.

“There’s less stigma attached to being an atheist,” said Ryan Burge, assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and the author of a book about the “nones,” or the religiously unaffiliated. “It’s revealing of what’s been there for a long time, rather than a big shift. People may not have answered honestly 20, 30 years ago.”

But Burge said the decline of Protestant Christianity from 52% in 2007 to 40% today is very significant.“It’s more evidence that America is going to be much different,” Burge said. “Think of American history. For a plurality of Americans to say religion is not important, that’s a big shift in how we think about ourselves.”

A survey released by PRRI during the summer found that the religiously unaffiliated had lost ground, making up just 23% of the country. But the Pew poll found little to support that conclusion. The number of people with no religion grew steadily from 16% in 2007 to 29% in 2021, Pew indicated.

Despite the growth of secular Americans, shifts in American culture and politics have not caught up, said Hemant Mehta, a popular atheist blogger who has reported on issues important to the atheist community.

“All these numbers are meaningless unless we convert them into political power,” he said, speaking of the 29% of people with no religious affiliation. “Conservative Christians do that really well. They still have all the power. We’re growing in numbers but we have no political power. Unless we can figure out how to get politicians to care about issues that matter to most of us, what’s the point?”

The poll was part of the National Public Opinion Reference Survey conducted by Pew online and by mail between May and August. The survey was conducted among 3,937 respondents, who took the poll on their own . It has a margin of error of 2.1 percentage points.

Dr. Ann Shippy Launches Be Resilient, Be Immune Program

Are you worried about the status of your immune system? You’re not alone. People all over the globe have been feeling anxious about their health and the health of their loved ones. It’s something that most of us have not had to deal with in our lifetimes. With stress and the uncertainty of your future health, it’s more important than ever to build a strong, resilient immune system.

Dr. Ann Shippy’s Be Resilient Be Immune program provides strategies to build immune defenses and lifelong wellness.  Dr. Ann Shippy merged her internal medicine background, extensive research, and clinical expertise into an online program that was designed to help you take control of your health, build confidence, and stop living with fear. Be Resilient Be Immune is for anyone who wants to learn Dr. Shippy’s strategies for resilient health.

In a series of over 25 comprehensive videos, Dr. Shippy shares her recommendations and action steps on what you can do now to help prepare your body so that you’ll be better equipped to resist and fight infection. This program includes everything from diet recommendations, treatment protocols and lifestyle choices to help you elevate and improve your immune system naturally while helping to support lifelong wellness.

Dr. Shippy’s methods are designed to help you identify your individual challenges and build a solid foundation for a stronger immune system. The program’s topics include labs to help assess your immune status, lifestyle choices that may lower immune status, analysis of worldwide data and treatments, and nutraceuticals and other strategies to support resilience.

Dr. Shippy has committed her work to designing life-altering treatments and protocols for her patients by tapping into the human body’s incredible ability to express or repress helpful or detrimental genes, as well as prevent, heal and even reverse certain illnesses. In this program, Dr. Shippy also addresses the science of epigenetics, the way lifestyle impacts genetic expression and how this all ties into resilience, immunity, and your future health.

Clients who have completed the program mention how Dr. Shippy helped get their body back into balance while laying the foundation for a healthy immune response that was resilient when challenged. Be Resilient Be Immune is a substantial and compelling program for anyone who is looking for sound, scientific resources and tools from a premier functional medicine doctor.

Dr. Shippy believes that everyone (especially those who may be at high risk) should implement key strategies to build up their immune system to achieve resilience for this infection as well as other illnesses. If you or someone you know wants to learn how to be prepared, be resilient and be strong, sign up today for this insightful and informative health program, led by Dr. Shippy.

Dr. Shippy’s Background
As a former IBM engineer, Dr. Ann Shippy, MD transitioned to the world of medicine in part in search of better solutions to her own health ailments, which she hadn’t found in traditional medicine. She is board-certified in internal medicine and certified in functional medicine to better serve her patients. Her practice, which is based in Austin, Texas, takes a functional approach to a wide range of health concerns, including autoimmunity, digestive issues, and toxicity from mold exposure and heavy metals. Dr. Shippy has authored two health manuals: Mold Toxicity Workbook and Shippy Paleo Essentials.

3 Factors That Determine If People Inform Themselves Or Remain Ignorant

Newswise — People choose whether to seek or avoid information about their health, finances and personal traits based on how they think it will make them feel, how useful it is, and if it relates to things they think about often, finds a new study by UCL researchers.

Most people fall into one of three ‘information-seeking types’: those that mostly consider the impact of information on their feelings when deciding whether to get informed, those that mostly consider how useful information will be for making decisions, and those that mostly seek information about issues they think about often, according to the findings published in Nature Communications.

Co-lead author Professor Tali Sharot (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences and Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research) said: “Vast amounts of information are now available to individuals. This includes everything from information about your genetic make-up to information about social issues and the economy. We wanted to find out: how do people decide what they want to know? And why do some people actively seek out information, for example about COVID vaccines, financial inequality and climate change, and others don’t?

“The information people decide to expose themselves to has important consequences for their health, finance and relationships. By better understanding why people choose to get informed, we could develop ways to convince people to educate themselves.”

The researchers conducted five experiments with 543 research participants, to gauge what factors influence information-seeking.

In one of the experiments, participants were asked how much they would like to know about health information, such as whether they had an Alzheimer’s risk gene or a gene conferring a strong immune system. In another experiment, they were asked whether they wanted to see financial information, such as exchange rates or what income percentile they fall into, and in another one, whether they would have liked to learn how their family and friends rated them on traits such as intelligence and laziness.

Later, participants were asked how useful they thought the information would be, how they expected it would make them feel, and how often they thought about each subject matter in question.

The researchers found that people choose to seek information based on these three factors: expected utility, emotional impact, and whether it was relevant to things they thought of often. This three-factor model best explained decisions to seek or avoid information compared to a range of other alternative models tested.

Some participants repeated the experiments a couple of times, months apart. The researchers found that most people prioritise one of the three motives (feelings, usefulness, frequency of thought) over the others, and their specific tendency remained relatively stable across time and domains, suggesting that what drives each person to seek information is ‘trait-like’.

In two experiments, participants also filled out a questionnaire to gauge their general mental health. The researchers found that when people sought information about their own traits, participants who mostly wanted to know about traits they thought about often, reported better mental health.

Co-lead author, PhD student Christopher Kelly (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences and Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research) said: “By understanding people’s motivations to seek information, policy makers may be able to increase the likelihood that people will engage with and benefit from vital information. For example, if policy makers highlight the potential usefulness of their message and the positive feelings that it may elicit, they may improve the effectiveness of their message.

“The research can also help policy makers decide whether information, for instance on food labels, needs to be disclosed, by describing how to fully assess the impact of information on welfare. At the moment policy-makers overlook the impact of information on people’s emotions or ability to understand the world around them, and focus only on whether information can guide decisions.”

Daily Dose Of Yoghurt Could Be The Go-To Food To Manage High Blood Pressure

Whether it’s a dollop on your morning cereal or a simple snack on the go, a daily dose of yoghurt could be the next go-to food for people with high blood pressure, according to new research from the University of South Australia.

Conducted in partnership with the University of Maine, the study examined the associations between yoghurt intake, blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors, finding that yoghurt is associated with lower blood pressure for those with hypertension.

Globally, more than a billion people suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure), putting them at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) such as heart attack and stroke.

CVDs are the leading cause of death worldwide – in the United States, one person dies from CVD every 36 seconds; in Australia, it’s every 12 minutes.

UniSA researcher Dr Alexandra Wade says this study provides new evidence that connects yoghurt with positive blood pressure outcomes for hypertensive people.

“High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so it’s important that we continue to find ways to reduce and regulate it,” Dr Wade says.

“Dairy foods, especially yoghurt, may be capable of reducing blood pressure.

“This is because dairy foods contain a range of micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, all of which are involved in the regulation of blood pressure.

“Yoghurt is especially interesting because it also contains bacteria that promote the release of proteins which lowers blood pressure.

“This study showed for people with elevated blood pressure, even small amounts of yoghurt were associated with lower blood pressure.

“And for those who consumed yoghurt regularly, the results were even stronger, with blood pressure readings nearly seven points lower than those who did not consume yoghurt.”

The study was conducted on 915 community-dwelling adults from the Maine–Syracuse Longitudinal Study. Habitual yogurt consumption was measured using a food frequency questionnaire. High blood pressure was defined as being greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg (a normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg).

Researchers say that future observational and intervention studies should continue to focus on at-risk individuals to examine the potential benefits of yogurt.

India’s Population Growth Rate Is Slowing Down Women Are More than Men For the First Time Ever In India

India’s population growth is losing steam as the average number of children born crossed below a key threshold, according to newly released data from a government survey, media reports state. India’s total fertility rate (TFR) across India dropping to 2.0 in 2019-2021, compared with 2.2 in 2015-2016. A country with a TFR of 2.1, known as the replacement rate, would maintain a stable population over time; a lower TFR means the population would decline in the absence of other factors, such as immigration.

Other vital indicators found in the report suggests, India now has 1,020 women for every 1000 men. India’s population is not getting any younger, and India is no longer facing the threat of a population explosion. All three radical findings are part of the summary findings of the fifth round of the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS), which were released by the Union health ministry on November 24.

NFHS is a sample survey, and whether these numbers apply to the larger population can only be said with certainty when the next national census is conducted, although it is very likely that they will in the case of many states and Union territories. In cities across India – as in other countries – women are opting for fewer children: the urban fertility rate is 1.6.

The new data has been welcomed, and is hailed as a heartening signal by government officials and researchers in a country that is expected to overtake China to become the world’s most populous sometime this decade. Since the mid-20th century, Indian leaders have tried to curb high birthrates, which are often reversely correlated with women’s welfare metrics and economic progress. A burgeoning population is seen, in the longer term, as a hurdle to development and a driver of environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.

These new numbers indicate that India can no longer be called a country of “missing women”, a phrase first used by Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen in a 1990 essay in the New York Review of Books. Back then, there were 927 women per 1,000 men in India. According to NFHS-3, conducted in 2005-06, the ratio was equal, 1000: 1000; it went down to 991:1000 in 2015-16 in NFHS-4. This is the first time, in any NFHS or Census, that the sex ratio is skewed in favour of women.

Indian fertility rates have been trending downward for the last two decades as the country grew richer, underwent rapid urbanization, and rolled out programs that provide contraceptives and family planning education. But the progress shown in just the last two national surveys has been significant, demographers said.

“This is of course good news,” said Nandita Saikia, a professor of public health at the International Institute for Population Studies (IIPS) in Mumbai. “It indicates there has been some kind of transformation in the last four years in socioeconomic conditions.” India’s population has been expected to overtake China’s sometime around the year 2027. That date “could be delayed if this trend continues,” Saikia added, “but not for long.”

The dropping fertility rate does not mean India’s population is already decreasing, but rather its growth rate is slowing. India’s population, which stands at just under 1.4 billion, will continue to rise beyond the year 2050 and peak at over 1.6 billion before stabilizing and returning to about 1.4 billion by 2100, according to United Nations projections.

Several Indian leaders since the country’s independence in 1947 have grappled with the population question. In the 1970s, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi carried out a controversial mass sterilization drive. Population control measures – and the difference in birthrates between India’s religious groups – remain one of the most polarizing issues in domestic politics today.

The declining fertility rate observed in recent years was backed by an uptick in several key indicators, demographers said. The proportion of women who used contraceptives rose from 54 to 67%, according to the national survey, while those who reported an unmet need for contraceptives fell. The proportion of teenage marriages has also decreased, according to the study, while there has been an improvement in the gender balance of newborns in a country with a deeply held preference for sons. For every 1,000 baby boys, there are now 929 baby girls, up from 919 girls five years ago.

The study showed the long-standing gap between India’s north and south widening: the large, poor tracts that line the northern Ganges River continue to show high fertility rates, with women in Bihar state having an average of three children each. Southern states including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had fertility rates below the replacement rate.

To be sure, the gender ratio at birth for children born in the last five years is still 929, which suggests that son-preference, in its various macabre forms, still persists, but the sex ratio is a significant milestone achieved on the back of policies aimed to curb sex selection practices that were once rampant and female infanticide, and on the fact that women in India tend to live longer than men.

The average life expectancy at birth for men and women was 66.4 years and 69.6 years respectively in 2010-14, according to data from the Census of India website. There are other interesting read outs from the survey. The share of population under the age of 15 years, which was 34.9% in 2005-06, has come down to 26.5% in 2019-21. India is still a young country — a median age of 24 years in 2011 according to the Census figures — but it is ageing, and that comes with the associated policy challenges.

“The fact that we are now an aging population suggests that our approach to women’s health needs a more holistic life cycle view rather than one that prioritises reproductive health only,” Yamini Aiyar, president of the Centre for Policy Research, said. “The fact that more women have completed ten years of schooling in 2019-20 than previously coincides with a drop in female labor force participation points to significant structural challenges in India’s labour market. These need to be urgently addressed if India is to make progress,” Aiyar added.

Finally, the total fertility rate (TFR), or the average number of children per women in India, is now just 2, which is below the internationally accepted replacement level fertility rate – the point at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next — of 2.1. This means, India’s population may have peaked — another data-point that can only be established by the Census, but which is almost certainly for at least the southern states, as well some of the richer ones.

“There is usually a gap of 30-40 years between total fertility rate falling below replacement levels and a decline in overall population, because the population which will give birth in the next 10-15 years has already been born in the past when fertility levels were higher,” said Dr KS James, director and senior professor at the International Institute for Population Sciences. “Of course, the population growth in southern states is going to fall at a faster rate than the rest of the country,” he added.

NFHS-5 was conducted in two phases between 2019 and 2021, and covered 650,000 households from 707 districts of the country. The States and UTs that were surveyed in Phase-II are Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

NFHS is the most comprehensive database on a host of socioeconomic and health indicators with a focus on women – NFHS-5 covered 720,000 women and just above 100,000 men – and its basic results can be compared to the previous four rounds which were conducted in 1992-93, 1998-99, 2005-06 and 2015-16.

While the statistics quoted above are a watershed moment in India’s socio-economic and demographic transformation story, other findings of NFHS also convey a similar message. Socio-economic challenges facing India, going forward, will need to be dealt with more nuance and some of the stereotypes and political beliefs (such as the political obsession with population control laws) which dominate the public discourse will need to be shelved.

“This is not saying the country’s problems of unemployment, inequality, education, and everything else are automatically over,” said Sanjay Kumar Mohanty, the head of population policies at IIPS. “But population is no longer a top priority concern.”

“The improved sex ratio and sex ratio at birth is also a significant achievement; even though the real picture will emerge from the census, we can say for now looking at the results that our measures for women empowerment have steered us in the right direction ,” said Vikas Sheel, additional secretary, Union ministry of health and family welfare and mission director, National Health Mission.

Bidens Showcase First White House Christmas Decorations

For their first Christmas in the White House, the Biden family will celebrate with the theme of “gifts from the heart” for their holiday decor.  In unveiling the theme on Monday, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden explained:

“The things we hold sacred unite us and transcend distance, time, and even the constraints of a pandemic: faith, family, and friendship; a love of the arts, learning, and nature; gratitude, service, and community; unity and peace. These are the gifts that tie together the heart strings of our lives.”

An ornament of a portrait of U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden is hung on a Christmas Tree in the State Dining Room of the White House during a press preview of the holiday decorations Nov. 29, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

In just one week, over 100 volunteers from the local area decorated the outside and inside of the White House with 41 Christmas trees, 6,000 feet of ribbon and over 78,750 holiday lights.

Every room in the White House celebrates a different gift

In the East Colonnade and East Landing, doves and shooting stars adorn the hallways. The decorations honor the service of COVID-19 frontline workers and first responders. Featured here is a Christmas tree that honors the military, “who have laid down their lives for our country, and the families who carry on their legacies.”

The library is decorated with stacks of books and birds and butterflies created out of recycled newspaper; it represents the gift of learning. The Vermeil Room is decorated with colorful paint swatches and paint brushes, and represents the gift of the visual arts.

Wreathes are seen on the back of chairs in the room that displays the White House’s collection of state china. The holiday decorations symbolize the gift of friendship and sharing.

The East Room, the largest room in the White House, represents the gift of gratitude. It is decorated with the Neapolitan crèche that includes with over 40 figurines from the 18th century; the crèche has been displaeevery holiday season since 1967.

A White House Military social aide looks on near the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue room during a press preview of the White House holiday decorations in Washington, D.C. on November 29, 2021.

The Blue Room, where the official White House Christmas tree sits, represents the gift of peace and unity. Doves carrying a banner embossed with every U.S. state and territory cascade down the tree.

The Red Room, decorated to represent the gift of the performing arts, includes brass instruments hanging from the mantel. Ballet slippers, tap shoes and musical notes are strung around the tree.

A ginger bread White House is seen in the State Dining room during a press preview of the White House holiday decorations in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 29, 2021.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The State Dining Room represents the gift of family. It features a gingerbread White House, made of 55 sheets of baked gingerbread. It has eight detailed replicas of community buildings to honor frontline workers, including a hospital, police station and fire station.

The Grand Foyer and Cross Hall represent the gift of faith and community. The area is decorated with floating candles. The hallway alcoves and tree displays depict wintry scenes of towns and cities, representing the bonds of communities.

Is Husband Justified In Beating The Wife? Survey Has Telling Responses

Responses to the question, “In your opinion, is a husband justified in hitting or beating his wife…,” from as many as 18 states and Jammu and Kashmir are telling.

A falling fertility rate and a surge in their bank accounts point to the growing empowerment of women but when it comes to attitudes regarding domestic violence, the latest National Family Health Survey shows the distance that needs to be travelled.

Responses to the question, “In your opinion, is a husband justified in hitting or beating his wife…,” from as many as 18 states and Jammu and Kashmir are telling.

Of the women surveyed, Telangana led with 83.8 per cent of them saying that men are justified to beat their wives; Himachal Pradesh registered the lowest at 14.8 per cent. Among men, Karnataka leads with 81.9 per cent of the respondents saying such behaviour is justified as against 14.2 per cent in Himachal Pradesh.

Also Read |NFHS survey out: Dip in women owning property, but better financial, social autonomy

The survey asked the question and then listed the “following (seven) situations” as reason to hit or beat the wife: If she goes out without telling him; if she neglects the house or the children; if she argues with him; if she refuses to have sex with him; if she doesn’t cook food properly; if he suspects her of being unfaithful; if she shows disrespect for in-laws.

According to the survey, the most common reasons cited to justify domestic abuse: showing disrespect to in-laws, neglecting the house and children.

Data pertaining to surveys held in 2019-21 was released Wednesday. These were conducted in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura and West Bengal.

The other states which have a high percentage of women who justify domestic violence are Andhra Pradesh (83.6 per cent), Karnataka (76.9 per cent), Manipur (65.9 per cent) and Kerala (52.4 per cent). Men from Himachal Pradesh and Tripura had the lowest acceptance of domestic abuse with only 14.2 per cent, 21.3 per cent respondents agreeing.

Data from the NFHS-4 (2015-2016) for the entire country released in January 2018 said that while 52 per cent of women surveyed believed it was reasonable for a husband to beat his wife, only 42 per cent of men agreed with it.

In the latest survey, of the 18 states, women respondents in 13 — Manipur, Gujarat, Nagaland, Goa, Bihar, Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal — chose ‘disrespect to in-laws’ as the main reason for justifying beating.

This is followed by the second option: ‘neglecting house and children’ for accepting spouse violence. ‘Being suspected of being unfaithful’ has got the least number of justifications for beating. Only women (21%) in Mizoram choose it as the main reason for physical abuse over the other two options.

Sharada A L, director of Population First, an NGO working for women rights, said: “This kind of patriarchal mentality is deeply imbibed in the minds of the women who think that serving their family and husband should be their first priority.”

How Do People Understand Other People?

Newswise — To successfully cooperate or compete with other people in everyday life, it is important to know what the other person thinks, feels, or wants. Dr. Julia Wolf, Dr. Sabrina Coninx and Professor Albert Newen from Institute of Philosophy II at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have explored which strategies people use to understand other people. For a long time, it was assumed that people relied exclusively on a single strategy: mindreading. This means that people infer the mental states of others solely based on their behaviour. In more recent accounts, however, this ability has been relegated to the background. The Bochum-based team now argues that although people use a number of different strategies, mindreading also plays an important role. They present their findings in the journal Erkenntnis, published online on 10 November 2021.

Strategies for understanding others

In recent years, researchers have criticised mindreading for being too complicated and demanding to be a common strategy for understanding other people. Julia Wolf provides an example of mindreading: “When I see someone running towards a bus, I infer that this person has the desire to catch the bus,” she says. “In doing so, I can either picture myself in their situation, or draw on my knowledge of general principles regarding the behaviour of others.”

However, in order to recognise the feelings, desires, and needs of others, people may take a different approach. They can directly perceive that a person is stressed based on physical features and other contextual cues. But they can also predict what a person will do next based on learned behavioural rules, without having to infer and attribute a mental state. “When someone gets on the bus, I can predict that they will show their ticket at the entrance without thinking about what is making them do so,” says Sabrina Coninx.

People combine different strategies

Today, researchers assume that people combine several strategies to understand others. “We argue that mindreading is more than an unreliable and rarely used backup strategy in this context – it plays a major role in social cognition,” Albert Newen sums up the findings. The authors identify three criteria that could be used to test the importance of mindreading: how frequently it is used, how central it is, and how reliable it is.

While more empirical research is needed to answer the frequency question, the Bochum-based team thinks that there are good reasons to think that mindreading is central to social understanding. “It enables us to develop an individual understanding of others that goes beyond the here and now,” explains Julia Wolf. “This plays a crucial role in building and maintaining long-term relationships.”

Moreover, the researchers see no reason to assume that mindreading is less reliable than other strategies. “All strategies have limited reliability; social cognition is only successful by combining them,” says Sabrina Coninx. The Bochum-based group therefore suggests that social cognition shouldn’t be considered in terms of competing strategies. They assume that the strategies interact, support each other, and can be combined flexibly to best suit the situation at hand.

What Americans Can Learn From Other Cultures About The Language Of Gratitude

Families and friends traditionally gather to express gratitude during this time of year. Many also participate in acts of service and charity as a way of giving back to their local communities.

As communication scholars who study intercultural communication, we have studied how the many languages around the world have their own unique words and expressions for saying “thank you.” In turn, these expressions reveal very different assumptions about how human beings relate to one another and about the world we collectively inhabit.

Not everyone says thank you

Americans are known the world over for saying “thank you” in many everyday situations. Though some of these “thank yous” are undoubtedly heartfelt, many are also routine and said without much feeling. Given how often Americans say “thanks,” it might be surprising to know that in several other cultures around the world, people rarely say “thank you.”

In many cultures in South and Southeast Asia, including in India, where the expression in Hindi is “धन्यवाद,” spelled out as “dhanyavaad” in English. A deep degree of unspoken gratitude is assumed in interpersonal relationships through this expression.

In an article in The Atlantic, author Deepak Singh, an immigrant from northern India to the United States, explains that “in the Hindi language, in everyday gestures and culture, there is an unspoken understanding of gratitude.”

In many relationships – for instance, between parents and children or between close friends – saying thank you is considered inappropriate in these countries because it introduces a sense of formality that takes away the intimacy of the relationship. Thank you is appropriate when it is deeply and truly felt, and in situations where a person goes above and beyond the normal expectations of a relationship. Then too it is said with great solemnity, with eye contact, and perhaps even with hands at heart center in namaste position.

The economic rhetoric of gratitude

In American English, many of the expressions of gratitude are couched in transactional language that involves expressions of personal indebtedness. We say, “I owe you a debt of gratitude,” “Thanks, I owe you one,” “One good turn deserves another,” and “How can I ever repay you?”

Thinking of gratitude as a kind of transaction can indeed encourage people to form mutually beneficial relationships.

But it can also lead people to see their personal and impersonal relationships in economic terms – as transactions to be judged by market criteria of gain and loss.

The American language of gratitude tends to reflect the fact that many of us might see relationships as interpersonal transactions. But if we were to enter into relationships only on the premise of what benefits us personally, and potentially materially, then it can be very limiting.

This is why, we argue, it can be enlightening to look at other languages of gratitude.

Thanking earth, sky and community

Many Chinese people, for example, use the phrase “謝天,” or “xiè tiān,” which literally means “thank sky” as a way to express gratitude to all things under the sky. In a famous essay included in many high school textbooks called “Xiè Tiān,” writer Zhifan Chen noted, “Because there are too many people that we feel grateful to, let’s thank sky then.” The writer redirects individuals’ gratitude toward an all-encompassing universe, one that includes all things and all beings.

In Taiwanese, people say “感心,” or “kám-sim,” which means “feel heart,” to express gratitude. In complimenting a good deed, the word is also meant to highlight how people who witness the act but do not directly benefit from it are touched by the benevolence. It encourages people to recognize that the impact of good deeds is not limited to its direct recipients but to other members of the community as well.

To say “kám-sim” is to recognize that our actions have effects that ripple outward, potentially strengthening and solidifying the social fabric, which ultimately benefits us all.

Every time we express gratitude, we invoke a social world. Often, we invoke a world without realizing its full force.

For instance, when we use a language of gratitude characterized by economic metaphors, it can shape our view of the world and our social relationships, encouraging us to see life itself as a series of transactions. Being more conscious about our linguistic conventions and the potentials of our choices can empower us to create a world we really desire.

Learning from other languages of gratitude, perhaps we can make our “thank you” less casual and more heartfelt.

Now You Can Increase Your Life Span

Daejeon, South Korea–While everyone wants to live a long and healthy life, it isn’t possible for everyone. However, recent research has highlighted the significance of the tumour suppressor protein PTEN that can increase your health span, when targeted to create therapies to promote a longer life span.

This study was conducted under Professor Seung-Jae V. Lee from the Department of Biological Sciences.

It was published in the ‘Nature Communications Journal’. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) signalling (IIS) is one of the evolutionarily conserved ageing-modulatory pathways present in life forms ranging from tiny roundworms to humans. The proper reduction of IIS leads to longevity in animals but often causes defects in multiple health parameters including impaired motility, reproduction, and growth.

The research team found that a specific amino acid change in the PTEN protein improves health status while retaining the longevity conferred by reduced IIS. They used the roundworm C. elegans, an excellent model animal that has been widely used for ageing research, mainly because of its very short normal lifespan of about two to three weeks.

The PTEN protein is a phosphatase that removed phosphate from lipids as well as proteins. Interestingly, the newly identified amino acid changed delicately recalibrated the IIS by partially maintaining protein phosphatase activity while reducing lipid phosphatase activity.
As a result, the amino acid change in the PTEN protein maintained the activity of the longevity-promoting transcription factor Forkhead Box O (FOXO) protein while restricting the detrimental upregulation of another transcription factor, NRF2, leading to long and healthy life in animals with reduced IIS.

Professor Seung-Jae V. Lee said, “Our study raises the exciting possibility of simultaneously promoting longevity and health in humans by slightly tweaking the activity of one protein, PTEN.”

This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT through the National Research Foundation of Korea

Happiness: Only I Myself Am Responsible For It

Happiness is something we all yearn for in life. So, what is this thing called happiness? True and everlasting happiness is something that cannot be found outside ourselves. It cannot be found in jobs, food or relationships. All these experiences come and go so that is temporary pleasure, temporary happiness. Real inner happiness is very personal and precious. It’s my right and only I myself am responsible for it….and… it does require effort.

Many obstacles will come in life and try to take away our inner happiness. True happiness resides within the soul, within the mind. It is a positive and pure state of mind and no one or no situation can take it away from you. You are the Creator of your true inner happiness. By choosing the thoughts you want to think in any given situation you can keep the light of true happiness ignited.

Happiness can only grow and flourish in a peaceful, positive, pure and powerful mind and it will die in a mental atmosphere filled with the obstacles of negativity, anger, criticism, arrogance or depression. It is as if many of us have forgotten our original positive qualities and we have been overtaken by the negative qualities that are prevalent in our world today.

Instead of taking or giving sorrow or becoming disheartened by these obstacles of negativity, take a high jump in a second with your light form, your soul-conscious form of eternal light and power. Do not waste your time worrying or getting upset by these negative thoughts. Jump across these obstacles in a second by remembering your original soul conscious form and creating positive thoughts.

So in order to prepare yourself for the arrival of true happiness, the first thing you need to do is to become light, soul conscious and examine the quality of your thoughts. Connect your mind with the Source and fill your heart with the elevated qualities of your original form, the qualities of peace, love, happiness, truth and purity. This awareness and practice will remove the obstacles of negative thoughts and will bring you back to a state of inner peace and true happiness.

So, for the next few days make an effort to observe your thoughts and then ask yourself the questions: Am I the master of my own thoughts? Or, is my mind mastering me? Am I able to put a full stop to negativity and create pure and positive thoughts whenever I want? Am I experiencing a life of true happiness?

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