Showing posts from May, 2015

Want More Happiness in Life? Just Give Up

Who hasn't heard "where there's a will, there's a way"?

Usually when someone wants you to do something you don't.   Save $100 every month from your paycheck (my husband).   Lose that 10 pounds.  Tell your partner you'll be home on time -- even though you never are (again, my husband).

Now a study is saying there’s more than one way to gain a sense of control over your life, according to new research from Johns Hopkins University, as reported by

The traditional view of a life in control is one in which an individual has taken actions to ensure success in both the near and long terms, says study author Erik G. Helzer, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. This is “primary control” ― the attempt to win mastery by striving for goals and asserting one’s will upon circumstances.

But, Helzer argues in a recently published paper, another method, “secondary control,” has been given short shrift in both the scientific…

"This Won't Hurt a Bit." Oh Yes, It Will

We've all been there.  The nurse coming toward us with the needle, or, as in my recent ase, the resident saying "This won't hurt" as he yanks the broken bone in your wrist to try to put it back in place.

Why do these people say this, and why does it hurt so much more when they say it?

A new study has found that when this happens -- your expectations violated, and not in a good way -- it's because our expectations of pain affect the experience of pain, according to Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and first author of the study, at “This effect shows us how important it is to manage people’s expectations when it comes to pain," he says.


Previous studies have shown that the expectation of intense pain can make pain feel worse while the expectation of milder pain can actually make it hurt less. It all has something to do with areas of the brain but all I know is, I don't want to…

Nature or Nurture? They Both Make You Who You Are

Nature or nurture?

Turns out we're a little of both.

Recently scientists decided to see if who we really are is more what's inside us or what happens to us outside in the world.  Guess what?  Both.

As someone who is prone to pessimism, I was long ago counseled to change the way I looked at things rather than bumping my head up against things I cannot control. 

It took a very long time but finally I began to see that not winning a statewide writing award didn't mean I was a bad writer, just that, this particular time, people wrote articles and essays that were better than mine. Then, when it turned out I did win, I had almost forgotten about it.  (I won first place.)

Of course, it's not easy to look at the dark side of life and be optimistic.  But I wouldn't call trying to hold on to perspective -- because that's what it is -- a bad thing.

I remember in fourth grade, when my son didn't get the "star" teacher and I was convinced that his future wa…

Want to Be a Little More Generous? Experience Awe

Believe in Pure Evil? You're More Likely To Support Death Penalty For Boston Marathon Massacre Killer

Makes sense.  Those who believe in pure evil support harsher criminal punishment, according to a new study as reported at

Approximately 200 participants were given a summary of a case in which a murderer confessed to his crime. Researchers then asked each participant about his or her support for different types of sentences, such as jail time with community service, jail time with the opportunity for parole, jail time without the possibility for parole and other options.

"We found that as people's beliefs in pure evil increased, they were more likely to support sentences like life in prison without parole and even the death penalty," Kansas State University Donald Saucier, associate professor of psychological sciences, says. "We found that this actually happened through our participants perceiving the murderer as a demon and feeling that there was some need for retribution for the murder committed."

Many people in my Connecticut hometown…

More Empathetic? Yes, If You're Attracted to Men

This probably won't surprise too many of us.  But women are more empathetic than most, but not all, men.

A fascinating new study has revealed that men and women attracted to men are more empathetic than men and women attracted to women, according to a new study from the Department of Psychology at the University of Haifa. “People attracted to a particular gender, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, have common social tools, and thus exhibit the same level of empathy,” says Professor Simone Shamay-Tsoory of the Department of Psychology at the University of Haifa who conducted the study, according to

Sociologists claim that empathy plays an important role in the development of human society in that it contributes to peoples’ understanding of others and causes them to take the latter’s feelings into account.

Behavioral and brain studies show that activities related to empathy are regulated differently in men and women, based on preferences that are a…

Want Your Next Plane Ride to be Less Noisy? Drink Tomato Juice

It's been a while since I've flown (about 14 years!) but did you know that when you're in the air and it's too noisy, eating a meal that's savory (and has tomatoes) will dull the sound?  Of course, that's only when you get a meal.

While examining how airplane noise affects the palate, Cornell University food scientists found sweetness suppressed and a tasty, tender tomato surprise: umami, according to

A Japanese scientific term, umami describes the sweet, savory taste of amino acids such as glutamate in foods like tomato juice, and according to the new study, in noisy situations – like the 85 decibels aboard a jetliner – umami-rich foods become your taste bud’s best buds.

“Our study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised. Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced,” says Robin Dando, assistant professor of food sci…

How''s Your Health? How's Your Hand Shake?

Mine is a little weak and I gasp when someone's is a lot firmer.  Some I've had to take were sweaty or too warm.  Mine are always cold.

We're talking of course about hand shakes.

And now a new study is saying that how firm yours is can reveal your health.

According to, your hand shake tells the story of your health.  The firmness of your hand grip is better than your blood pressure at assessing your health, Hamilton, Ontario researchers have found, and reduced muscular strength, measured by your grip, is consistently linked with early death, disability and illness.The research was conducted by the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

“Grip strength could be an easy and inexpensive test to assess an individual’s risk of death and cardiovascular disease,” says principal investigator Dr. Darryl Leong, an assistant professor of medicine of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and cardiologist …

Etan, Where Did You Go?

I was in my early 20s when Etan Patz first went missing. Children – anyone's – were the last thing on my mind. His disappearance kind of went in one ear and out the other. I didn't even know how to pronounce his name. I thought it was “Eaton.”
I remember another editor at Good Housekeeping, where I was working at the time, mentioned his name and agonized over how horrible it all was. I gave her a blank stare.
Almost four decades later, everything has changed. I now have a child of my own and though he's a teenager, that doesn't stop me from worrying.
No one in their right mind would call me a free-range parent. I was a helicopter from the word “go.” I would barely let our son go down the hall to his bedroom by himself when he was a toddler. Thinking now of what these parents have gone through – How did we let him walk to school by himself? What were we thinking? We're the worst parents in the history of children – I can feel their guilt.
I want to tel…

Talk of Miscarriages Taboo? Or Just a Sad, Lonely Mystery?

Though they both happened long ago, they are still among two of the worst experiences of my life.

I'm talking about miscarriages.  Now a new study is finding that most people don't know the first thing about them, and what causes them. 

It's not stress.  It's not doing something wrong.  It's not even alcohol or smoking.  It's almost always genetic -- something wrong with the chromosomes in the fetus.

And even though this may soothe, somewhat, the women who suffer them, we still suffer shame, guilt and heart-breaking sadness.  The worst part?  No one talks about it.

I remember after finally becoming pregnant with my son, mentioning in passing to a salesperson that I'd had two miscarriages (I can't for the life of me remember why!), and this huge look of relief spread over his face.  "My wife had one!" he said.  You don't tell people because you feel like you are defective.  Your body let you down, couldn't do it, especially someone lik…

Your Mom's Your Mom for Life