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“Across the country, everyone is looking for a cure for what ails them, which has led to a booming billion-dollar industry — what I’ve come to call the Wellness Industrial Complex,” reported performance couch Brad Stulberg for Outside Magazine

From “detox IVs” to “crystals for better energy,” Stulberg goes on to document the mania for any trick, technology, or outlandish practice that might make us feel a little happier and healthier despite the world’s many worrying ills.

But there’s one big problem with these interventions. …

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If science is sure about anything, it’s that walking and nature are good for you. One recent study showed walking just 15 minutes a day can add years to your life, while a prominent neuroscientist called walking “a superpower.” Meanwhile, study after study after study shows time in nature reduces stress, boosts happiness and self-control, and makes you more creative.

Now imagine what happens if you put these two activities together?

In everyday language we call this hiking, and according to a new book by neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, strapping on your boots and hitting the trails not only offers all…

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We all know reading can teach you facts, and knowing the right thing at the right time helps you be more successful. But is that the entire reason just about every smart, accomplished person you can think of, from Bill Gates to Barack Obama, credits much of their success to their obsessive reading?

Not according to neuroscience. Reading, science shows, doesn’t just fill your brain with information; it actually changes the way your brain works for the better as well.

The short- and long-term effects of reading on the brain.

This can be short term. Different experts disagree on some of the finer details, but a growing body of scientific…

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The popular view is that personality is largely unchanging. To some extent that’s true. If you take a scientifically validated personality test one year and then again a couple of years later, the results are likely to be very similar.

But there are exceptions. Over the course of our lifetimes, our personalities often change dramatically, studies show. Conscious effort and big life shifts can also shape our character. And, according to preliminary but intriguing new psychological research highlighted by BBC Future, that includes the huge life event we are currently all living through — the pandemic.

The pandemic and “the Michelangelo effect”

Before I delve into…

William Murphy via Flickr.

When you were little, you probably knew exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up. But when we get older and realize becoming a ballerina/astronaut is unlikely, this classic childhood question becomes way harder to answer. Plenty of us make it all the way to adulthood — maybe even decades into a career — without really knowing what we want to do with our lives.

One option is to muddle through with whatever job you landed in. That pays the bills, but a heap of research suggests you’ll eventually regret it bitterly. …

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Usually, when we picture a narcissist, we picture someone vain, confident, and completely uninterested in anyone else but himself. (I’ll let you choose your own favorite celebrity example.) But according to science, there’s actually a whole other, quieter harder-to-spot type of narcissist out there — the covert narcissist.

All narcissist are self-obsessed, but it turns out not all are confident of their own greatness. While your garden-variety egomaniac will preen and brag and generally make herself the center of attention, a covert narcissist will be just as self-focused, but in a defensive way. …

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Getting a top-tier MBA has always been an expensive proposition, setting you back something like $200,000 between tuition and living expenses (not to mention lost income). This year there may be even more reason to think long and hard before going to business school.

First, you’ll face unusually stiff competition. Applications at top schools are way up as people look for shelter from the economic storm caused by Covid. Plus, the virus may continue to disrupt in-person instruction, so you could end up battling your way in just to study online.

But there’s another fundamental reason you might want to…

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There’s lots of evidence that a huge percentage of most work days are wasted. One recent study found that almost half of employees could do their jobs in five hours or less. It’s the latest of many similar studies.

Then there are the handful of companies (and whole towns in Sweden) that have cut their workweeks significantly with no fall in productivity. Or you could look at the psychology research that shows our brains simply don’t have more than four good hours of work a day in them.

But if you accept the reality that most of us could probably…

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If you want to know how to keep your car running, ask a mechanic. If you want the lowdown on caring for your pipes, call your plumber. Why? Because people who deal with things when they’re broken often know the most about how to keep them in good repair. James J. Sexton thinks the same principle applies to divorce lawyers.

In his book, If You’re in My Office, It’s Already Too Late, the 20-year veteran of every kind of divorce imaginable dishes out advice on how to avoid needing his services based on his up-close experience of marital breakdown. …

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Every day, millions of people around the world ask Google some variation of the question, “Am I normal?” Burdened by shame, we turn to the internet to figure out if our behavior, our bodies, and our deepest emotions mark us as outside the mainstream.

The very fact that so many of us are typing “Is it normal to talk to yourself?” or “How often do couples have sex?” into our browsers late at night suggests that, yes, whatever your quirk, lots of other folks probably have it too. But if search engine data alone seems like a flimsy basis to…

Jessica Stillman

Top columnist/ Editor/ Ghostwriter. Book lover. Travel fiend. Nap enthusiast.

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