Do You Have A Toxic Friend?

There is a saying that you are the average of the five people you spend time with and research backs this up. We are greatly influenced by our friends, for better or for worse. Good friends are the cornerstone of wellbeing while toxic ones can take a toll on our mental and physical health. If you have a toxic friend—someone who is a negative influence, who doesn’t wish you well, who makes you feel weak or inadequate, or who is untrustworthy, it might be time to remove that person from your life. Sometimes people just grow apart. Just because you were friends in college does not mean that you must be friends forever. But before you cut that person out of your life entirely, be sure that a misunderstanding is not at the heart of the problem. In the same way that communication matters in romantic relationships, it is important for friendships as well. If you don’t want to talk it out or you know there is no point in engaging the person in a dialogue, take some distance before making any hasty decisions. Unless the person has done something egregious, a gradual unraveling may be easier on everyone involved. Do your best to leave other friends out of it and to minimize incurring your ex-friend’s wrath. Above all, be kind and try to minimize hurt feelings so you can both move on. This article originally appeared in Marie Claire. 

Can You Force Someone To Be Healthier?

In wellness, there’s no one-size-fits-all regimen. In fact, the first step on the path to a better, healthier, happier life, is choice. In a classic study, researchers placed two rats in a cage. Rat A was free to do whatever he liked. He ate whenever he liked, he hopped on his tiny treadmill to do a few laps whenever he was in the mood, and he slept whenever the urge to snooze came upon him. Basically, Rat A lived the rodent high life, and his brain bloomed with new brain cells. Rat B, who was yoked to Rat A and had to do whatever Rat A did, didn’t have it so good. Even though Rat B was on the same “healthy” schedule as the first rat, he lost brain cells. Unlike his thriving counterpart, he lacked one critical factor: Control. A number of companies are hopping on the wellness bandwagon and using incentives to encourage their employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. Others are going even further and trying to enforce mandatory healthy lifestyles. Adopting a no-tobacco policy at work and at home, offering cash-incentives and gift cards, reimbursing workers for gym memberships and offering insurance premium discounts to those who meet health standards and surcharges to those who don’t, are among the many ways employers are nudging  — or should I say “strong-arming” — their employees to make better choices. As the rat study highlights and as psychologists have known all along, having a choice matters most of all. Activities that are supposed to lower stress can in fact cause stress if done in the wrong spirit or under duress. Recent research further underscores the importance of autonomy. A study from the University of Toronto shows that when employees have freedom over what to do during lunch breaks — either engage in relaxing activities or work through them — they experience enhanced positive affects and were more relaxed and less fatigued. Contrary to expectations, working through lunch can be restorative, but only if employees choose to do so themselves. Bottom line: Nobody likes to be told what to do. As mentioned, there is no “one size fits all” especially when it comes to health and stress management. Discover what works for you and build more of it into your day.

How To Help Prevent Suicide

For every suicide that occurs there are 300 attempts. I share some tips and guidance for helping someone who is depressed and suicidal find their way to treatment or therapy. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255, Available 24 hours everyday.

Victoria Johnson

Please put American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic by Victoria Johnson at the top of your summer reading list. The book tells the captivating and forgotten story of Alexander Hamilton’s and Aaron Burr’s personal physician, Dr. David Hosack.

The Truth About Happily Ever After

What does it take to make a good marriage? A study at the University of Virginia explored this question in depth. The results challenge some of our fundamental beliefs about wedded bliss.

What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas

According to the report, the past matters. The ghosts of the prior romances can haunt new ones. Those who had more romantic experiences…are more likely to have lower-quality marriages than those with a less complicated romantic history. This is counterintuitive. In most areas of life, more experience is better. Not when it comes to marriage. The researchers believe that the more past relationships one has had, the more one is aware of what could have been. The tendency to compare the current partner with past partners can undermine marriage quality. Also, the more relationships someone has had, the more breakups they have had. The researchers argue that this can lead to a more jaundiced view of marriage.

Sliding versus deciding

How couples navigate their way through transitions is a predictor of marriage quality. How couples hand choices seems to matter. Some make definitive decisions that move them from one stage of a relationship to another. Others are less intentional. Rather than consciously deciding how and when to transition to the next stage of the relationship, they slide through milestones without prior planning. For example, couples who make a deliberate decision to live together as compared to those who say, “it just happened” had greater marriage quality later on. Having explicit conversations and making active choices about major milestones clearly matters.

A big fat wedding

Having a formal wedding is associated with higher marriage quality. (This) may have to do with the act of having a public ceremony, which symbolizes a clear decision to commit to one’s marriage…Wedding ceremonies ritualize the foundation of a commitment. According to the report, couples who had more than 150 guests attend their wedding had better marriages in the long run. It is possible that a large celebration filled with family and friends functions as a symbol of encouragement and support throughout the marriage.

Bottom Line

Remember that what you do before you say “I do” seems to have a notable impact on your marital future. So decide wisely.

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Victoria Johnson


Please put American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic by Victoria Johnson at the top of your summer reading list. The book tells the captivating and forgotten story of Alexander Hamilton’s and Aaron Burr’s personal physician, Dr. David Hosack.

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