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Science & Spirit: An Easy Way to Feel Better, Memory Science, and the NCP



This week, find out how to boost your mood in only 12 minutes and read about a way that people are healing our deep divides.

I hope you’ll enjoy these stories from the worlds of science, spirituality, healthy living, and mindfulness—as well as the places it all overlaps.

Wish Others Well and You’ll Feel Better Fast  

I admit it: When I’m in a bummer mood, I go for a little Target therapy. Other people nosh on chocolate or mainline some kittens. But there’s apparently an even easier way to get a mindset reset. A team of researchers at Iowa State found that wishing other people well works better than focusing on trying to make our own selves feel better. “Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection,” wrote Douglas Gentile in the study. Gentile is a professor of psychology at Iowa State. Use a simple, straightforward technique. Just look at someone and think, “I really wish for this person to be happy.” Doing this while also eating chocolate and petting a kitten may be even better. Just sayin’.

Culling Strong, Sticky Memories 

We can intentionally choose to forget a nasty or traumatic experience, as memory is fluid and malleable. But how? That’s the focus of new research coming from the University of Texas at Austin. Scientists there recently came upon an interesting finding: It takes the brain more energy to avoid thinking about a negative memory than it does to redirect how we deal with that negative memory. They are hoping to use this information to design treatments that will help people shed unwanted memories, “which can have a powerful impact on our health and well-being,” wrote the study’s senior author, assistant professor of psychology Jarrod Lewis-Peacock.

Mend the Social Fabric: Inside the Growing Civility Movement

Did you know it’s the National Week of Conversation (April 5-13)? The National Conversation Project and 200 partner organizations are stepping up, it says, “to address the growing crisis of social polarization and animosity across divides. Together we can turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division with widespread conversations in which we #ListenFirst to understand.”  

This NPR story covers how a growing number of these types of groups are dedicated to having civilized conversations, with diverse participants, on polarizing topics. There’s even an upcoming documentary series, “Divided We Fall,” about it. “It was a big discovery for me to know that I could have a conversation with someone from such an opposing view and not have to dislike them—as childish as that sounds,” one group participant states in the NPR article. Want to host a conversation or join in one? In addition to the National Conversation Project, there is also Living Room Conversations and Better Angels.

Kathryn Drury Wagner

Spirituality & Health’s Wellbeing Editor, Kathryn Drury Wagner, is based in Savannah. She’s been a contributor to the magazine for many years, and she loves sharing ways to build a healthy, mindful, and sustainable lifestyle. 

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