Wednesday, 12 June, 2013
Should we receive some sort of financial incentive to lead a healthier lifestyle? On the surface it seems like a sensible, if perhaps expensive, idea, but how might those who are already fit react? In other words, should people be paid for maintaining their health, something they ought to be doing anyway?
In one study, Volpp and colleagues teamed up with General Electric to develop financial incentives to get employees to quit smoking. All smokers received information about smoking-cessation programs, but half were chosen at random to also receive financial incentives. In the financial incentive group, smokers were given $100 for completing a smoking-cessation informational program, $250 for quitting smoking within six months of joining the study, and $400 if they were still not smoking six months after they quit. The smokers in the incentive group were three times more likely to join a smoking-cessation program, and three times more likely to quit smoking than those who were not offered financial rewards. But when GE rolled these financial incentives to quit smoking to the rest of their workforce, employees complained about rewarding smokers to do something they should be doing anyway. From their perspective, GE turned the program into a penalty rather than reward program.
finance, health, well being
Friday, 24 May, 2013
A 75 year study has uncovered what is required to lead a happy life… you’ll never guess what that is.
The project, which began in 1938, has followed 268 Harvard undergraduate men for 75 years, measuring an astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits – from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum” – in an effort to determine what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing.
health, lifestyle, well being
Monday, 22 April, 2013
It seems a lot like keeping one’s head in the sand to me, but Rolf Dobelli, writing for The Guardian suggests, for the sake of our well being, that we should cease listening to, watching, or reading, news bulletins. After all, what difference does most, or all news, make anyway?
Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognise what’s relevant. It’s much easier to recognise what’s new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age. Media organisations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. Many fall for that. We get anxious when we’re cut off from the flow of news. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.
Madeleine Bunting, meanwhile, also writing for The Guardian, begs to differ, arguing that keeping up with current affairs is essential, and consumption of news is all about moderation. Couldn’t disagree with that.
current affairs, news, psychology, well being
Friday, 8 March, 2013
Being overly optimistic, it seems, has its drawbacks. It is possible to be too hopeful, too confident, and that can spawn risk taking and reckless behaviour. Pessimistic people, on the other hand, tend to be more measured in their expectations, and may even go on to outlive their more optimistic friends.
Being overly optimistic in predicting a better future was associated with a greater risk of disability and death within the following decade,” researcher Frieder R. Lang, of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, said in a statement. “Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions.”
health, psychology, well being
Wednesday, 13 February, 2013
Members of the Melbourne Model Railway Society seem to be pretty content with their lives, could their apparently all consuming interest in their model trains be something to do with it?
The world is a foul and meaningless place full of pimps and mutant wolves. And who isn’t fucked up and miserable about that fact? People with hobbies. It’s as though by finding something you love and climbing all up in it until it’s so tight around you that you can barely breathe, the misery can’t squeeze its way in. Maybe I’m oversimplifying it. Or maybe people with hobbies are as morbid as the rest of us but we only ever see their weirdly contented exteriors.
Doesn’t have to be model trains of course. I expect that anything on the up, that keeps the mind away from negative thoughts, would have the same affect though.
psychology, trains, well being
Wednesday, 30 January, 2013
Six, likely uncomfortable, steps those contemplating suicide go through. Maybe being familiar with them will help you spot someone who is struggling.
There are certainly more recent theoretical models of suicide than Baumeister’s, but none in my opinion are an improvement. The author gives us a uniquely detailed glimpse into the intolerable and relentlessly egocentric tunnel vision that is experienced by a genuinely suicidal person. According to Baumeister, there are six primary steps in the escape theory, culminating in a probable suicide when all criteria are met. I do hope that having knowledge about the what-it-feels-like phenomenology of “being” suicidal helps people to recognize their own possible symptoms of suicidal ideation and – if indeed this is what’s happening – enables them to somehow derail themselves before it’s too late.
death, health, psychology, well being
Thursday, 17 January, 2013
A rare skin affliction, that seems to draw out the trepidation of the people he encounters, has left Rend Smith feeling like an outcast, or creep:
Over the years – I’m 39 – my arms have grown too long, my thighs too thick, my barrel chest too beasty. As if to halt these things from imparting, at least, the appearance of strength, my wrists and hands have, at the same time, dwindled thin. My hair, once caught up in a mass of thick dreadlocks, I recently sheared with a pair of $10 hair clippers, something I hoped would cut down on the creepiness factor, but only exacerbated it. I have volcano-ash dandruff, so I haven’t gotten my new hair “shaped up,” in the parlance of black barbershops, out of embarrassment. As I can’t see the back of my head to give it a proper trim, a puff of hair is developing there. I could be said to have a slight mullet. And like a lot of journalists, I have what might be called a dismal sense of fashion.
health, psychology, well being
Wednesday, 9 January, 2013
Kind of apt for the new year, and the personal re-evaluation some of us go through… for instance, are you too accommodating?
Do you allow people to take advantage of your good nature to the point they are walking all over you? 1922 was the year an apparently nameless contributor, writing for The American Magazine, decided to be a little less helpful, and more mindful of number one:
Five years ago yesterday it was, at two o’clock in the morning; I am not likely to forget the place or the hour. From four-thirty, when the president of our company and I faced each other across his desk, until eleven-thirty, when I left him at his door, we fought the thing back and forth. From eleven-thirty until two o’clock I spent in a bitter ordeal of self-examination. “You are thirty-five years old,” I said to myself. “More than half of your life has already been spent. Who is living your life, anyway? Is it actually yours? Or is it a kind of public storehouse of odd jobs? A pile of days and hours put on the counter of the world with a sign inviting every Tom, Dick, and Harry to take one?” It was in that solemn morning hour, as I have said, that I formally retired from the business of being Everybody’s Friend. For weeks I had to school myself in the hard business of saying “No.” But five years have made the cure almost complete.
Helping people out is one thing, having them going on to take advantage of that good nature is another matter, even if it’s a mighty fine line that sometimes distinguishes one from the other.
psychology, relationships, well being
Tuesday, 9 October, 2012
Circadian rhythms are back in the news… if we were more in sync with them, those early morning starts may not be so harsh as to invoke a five stage grieving process:
The first is Denial, which entails pressing the sleep button when the alarm goes off. Five minutes later it’s buzzing again, so I proceed to Anger. This is followed by Bargaining, during which I attempt to calculate how many more minutes I can stay in bed without being late. The stage of Depression hits as soon as I realise that – shit – now I’m late. And finally, when I get to work, I reach Acceptance.
psychology, sleep, well being
Friday, 5 October, 2012
If the tasks and work we need to carry out each day could be better aligned with our circadian rhythms – long story short, our body clock – we’d likely be far more productive and efficient.
A growing body of research suggests that paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively. Most people organize their time around everything but the body’s natural rhythms. Workday demands, commuting, social events and kids’ schedules frequently dominate – inevitably clashing with the body’s circadian rhythms of waking and sleeping.
Easier to talk about than do for most of us unfortunately.
health, productivity, well being