Why Is Making Friends As An Adult Difficult?

According to Aristotle, there are three kinds of friendship. The first is strategic—both people get something out of it. The second type of friendship is pleasurable—these friends have fun together and provide good company. While useful and enjoyable, these friendships function only when both people are getting what they want from the other. The third type of friendship, the truest kind according to Aristotle, transcends self-interest and this tit for tat. It is based on goodness. Both people admire the goodness in the other and are committed to bringing out the best in one another. In college, it is likely that you made all three kinds—the friend who took great History notes, the friend you liked to party with in your dorm, and the friend who was and remains a source of strength. Not only were they there for you during tough times, they also encouraged you to embrace opportunities and to challenge yourself and you did the same for her. It’s definitely harder to make friends after college but it is also an opportunity to cultivate the third and deeper form of friendship, the kind that is based on good will and shared values (not just because you live in the same dorm). Your workplace is a good place to start. Do you have a “work friend” who you would like to spend more time with? Make an outside of the office plan with them. Initiate conversations that are not work related and avoid office gossip. Be open and curious without providing TMI. Listen generously. Avoid office gossip. Make an effort. Be patient. Building connections takes time but it is worth the effort. Studies show that people who have a good friend at work are more productive, happier, and less stressed.

How To Take Criticism Like A Pro

We humans are really good at dwelling on stuff that make us feel bad. This negativity bias was helpful to our ancestors when survival depended on avoiding distress, danger and discomfort. It helps explain why criticism stings so much and why a negative comment eclipses anything positive. Just because we are hardwired to be sensitive doesn’t mean that we have to take everything so personally. One of the best strategies to defang the sting of criticism is to dissect it. Recognize that the negative comment is about something specific and not an indictment of you as a human being. If your manager thought your presentation wasn’t good enough, it does not mean that you are not enough. You are not your presentation. When you separate the comment from yourself you gain perspective and will be more open to actually hearing what the other person has to say.

Does Chilling Out Stress You Out?

Does going on vacation stress you out? You are not alone. I have a number of patients who have difficulty winding down. As one patient explained, “The more I try not to think about work, the more I think about work.” Another patient actually dreads downtime: “I miss the high energy of being at the office.” A third patient rejects the notion of being told what to do: “I told my wife, I cannot be told to relax on command.”

Downtime can be a challenge. It’s less about being a workaholic and more about the need to have your mind occupied all the time, whether it’s listening to the news while showering or a podcast on the way to work or jogging, watching tv before bed or playing CandyCrush in line at the salad bar. Every free moment is filled. And those with high-powered jobs aren’t the only ones who suffer from this. Children often don’t know what to do when they have nothing to do.

But the benefits of alone time abound. Studies show that solitude is crucial for the development of the self. As highlighted in a study entitled, Solitude: An Exploration of Benefits of Being Alone, solitude is associated with freedom, creativity, intimacy, and spirituality.

Spending time alone means growing spiritually, discovering your identity without outside distractions, having the freedom to do what you want without needing to cater to other people’s wants and thriving creatively.

Meditation and other relaxation techniques are useful ways to make downtime more tolerable and also productive. By gaining control over one’s thoughts, the little annoyances like traffic jams and waiting rooms become less stressful and the big questions become less daunting.

These days I spend a lot of time talking to my patients about how they spend their days. I prescribe at least 15 minutes a day, every day, of doing NOTHING. As a result, their mind-set about free time has shifted. Instead of thinking of downtime as a source of anxiety, they now think of it as a privilege.

Best of all, they look forward to vacations.

This article first appeared on The Wall Street Journal

Can Happiness Really Be Taught?

Genuine happiness was not given much thought when I was training to become a psychiatrist. The goal of treatment was to get a patient “back to baseline,” i.e. not clinically sick. Today, thanks to the burgeoning field of positive psychology, we have expanded how we think about not just mental illness but also mental health and happiness. Research shows there are things we can do to build more fulfilling, creative, meaningful, and, yes, happier lives. For example, Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman’s ground-breaking theory of well-being, known as PERMA, holds that the following five elements are essential to happiness.
  1. (P)ositive Emotion: By increasing daily positive emotions such as love, joy, and gratitude in your life, you create an upward spiral of positivity and wellness.
2. (E)ngagement: Spend more time “in flow.” People who regularly fully immerse themselves in an activity—be it intellectually, physically, or professionally— report greater well-being. 3. Positive (R)elationships: Human connection is essential for happiness. Show up for your friends, make an effort with your partner, hold the door for a stranger even when you least feel like it. Social bonds are good for your physical and mental health and protect against stressors. 4. (M)eaning: This comes from serving something larger than yourself. It may be a religion, a cause, or an overriding sense of purpose. 5. (A)ccomplishment/Achievement: Mastering a skill and achieving a goal is life-enhancing and contributes to flourishing. If you want to increase your happiness, maximize the PERMA in your life. The original article appeared in Marie Claire magazine.

Heat Makes You Cheat: The Link Between Summer and Infidelity

Beach balls and betrayal. A steamy romance with the tennis instructor. They sound like cheesy romance novel titles and bad late night tv movies. And yet, in a 20-year survey about health, relationships and sex, 21.5% of the participants admitted to cheating. While gender, class, salary and education had no bearing on infidelity, the most influential factor was the time of year. June, July and August are infidelity’s high season, a fact the researchers attribute to more travel in the warmer months. And perhaps rising temperatures and revealing clothing contribute to temptation. While there is no magic formula to prevent cheating, there are strategies for what experts call, “relationship maintenance” — a mixture of common sense and science:

Openness

Talk. Share your feelings and encourage your partner to the same. Communication and honesty are vital.

Assurances

Let your partner know you’re right there with him or her, committed and engaged. Put down your phone, carve out time for just the two of you and be present.

Shared tasks

Cook dinner, find a creative house project, get outside for some yard work, or walk the dog together. This is a partnership, after all.

Kindness

Being kind, giving compliments, doing something nice — making a cup of coffee, sending a random love note or text, or giving a foot rub — telegraphs emotion powerfully.

Shared social network

A friend of yours is a friend of mine. Being in a relationship means being part of each other’s lives and that includes friends and family.

  Treat everyday as an opportunity to show your partner you are still in love. It takes kindness, optimism, generosity and effort. That tennis instructor won't seem so intriguing anymore. 

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Jessica Seinfeld Food Swings

Jessica Seinfeld


Mother, New Yorker, founder of Good+ Foundation and author of Food Swings, a delectable cook book that speaks to the realities of how we want to eat — good stuff and bad...

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