Older, Wiser and Happier? Why Older People Excel in Happiness


Research shows that older adults outpace young adults in the quest for happiness. What can we learn from them? From Saturday Night Live’s “Grumpy Old Man” to the clichéd, oddball elderly characters in some literature, stereotypes of older adults permeate our perception of aging. Contrary to cultural commentary and our obsession with youth, a growing body of research shows that older adults are happier than both middle agers and young adults. And considering that adults over 65 will outnumber kids under 14 by 2050, the emotional health of such a large sector of the population affects everyone. “Longer lives can, and I believe will, improve quality of life at all ages,” says Laura Carstensen, a leading expert on the “paradox of aging,” a term coined by social scientists to describe the findings on increased levels of happiness despite the well-known maladies of aging. “If there’s a paradox of aging, it’s that recognizing        …read more

What’s the Holdup with Legal Marijuana?

legal marijuana

While citizens of a few states now have access to legal marijuana, most of the U.S. isn’t there yet. Over the last few years weed lovers have finally gotten the break they’ve been waiting for. Legislation has gradually been rolled out across the United States decriminalizing and even legalizing cannabis both for medicinal and recreational purposes. And not just for smokers either: plenty of new and creative ideas abound in this thriving young industry. From “Mary Jane massages” to hemp-infused doggy treats, pot is undergoing a nationwide makeover. However, the number of states that have not legalized cannabis far outnumber those that have. Marijuana, along with a wealth of other substances, has a colorful history dating back centuries. But in the last 100 years or so, legal barriers have arisen preventing its free distribution and consumption. Unlike the drugs you can buy at pretty much any grocery store, from aspirin        …read more

How Creative Expression Can Help You Heal after Trauma and Loss

After my friend died while in a religious cult, I suffered traumatic grief. That’s when I learned creative expression could help the brain and body heal. On October 30, 2012, I got the phone call no one wants to receive. The sister of my best friend and kindred spirit, Bethany, was on the other end. Bethany had died — and not only had she died, but she’d been murdered in what turned out to be a spiritual community that had slowly turned into an emotionally and spiritually abusive cult. Later it would be concluded that she’d committed suicide, but for a whole year, investigators treated her death like a homicide and everyone who loved her went through the emotional roller coaster of believing she’d been murdered. Ultimately, my friend had married an abusive man, the cult leader, who’d warped her personality, distanced her from friends and family, psychologically tortured her        …read more

A Brief History of Sperm Facts . . . and Fiction

sperm facts

From pants-wearing frogs to artificial insemination, the human race has come a long way in our understanding of sperm facts. People have been fascinated by sperm for a very long time. And luckily or unluckily, as a queer woman who used donor sperm to conceive, I find I get to talk about sperm facts quite a lot. When I told my mother I didn’t plan to keep my child’s origins a secret, she responded, “Well, yeah, but you wouldn’t use the word sperm with a toddler!” Obviously, she hadn’t read Cory Silverberg’s brilliant children’s book, What Makes A Baby. The book (one of my toddler’s favorite bedtime stories) states simply, “When grown-ups want to make a baby, they need to get an egg from one body and a sperm from another body.” Thinking back on my own reproductive education, my understanding of egg and sperm facts was never so tidy. In fact,        …read more

She Retired before 35 to Go on a Nomad Adventure — Here’s How

nomad adventure

Anita Dhake takes ‘carpe diem’ to the next level, taking her dream nomad adventure now rather than later. Anita Dhake retired about two years ago. Like most retirees, she spends her time reading, traveling and meeting friends for relaxed lunches. Unlike most retirees, she can fit nearly all of her possessions into a suitcase and she has no single place she calls home. She’s 35 years old, and she spent the first part of her adult life working hard as a lawyer, saving her money and investing it before selling everything she owned two years ago so she could retire and be free to embark on a nomad adventure for the rest of her life. “I really love my life,” Dhake says. “I’m so happy I don’t have to get dressed and go in to work. There’s just so much in life to see and do, and people to talk        …read more

The Power of an ‘I Am’ Poem: How and Why to Write One

I am poem

Who are you, and what do you want out of life? You don’t have to be a poet to experience the empowering effects of writing an ‘I am’ poem. I am not a poet, but I recently glimpsed the cadenced magic while attending a retreat based on Brené Brown’s Rising Strong. There’s a reason several of Brené’s TED Talks have gone viral. Her research on using vulnerability to overcome shame is life-altering. The four-day retreat I attended focused on owning and rumbling with our stories to create brave, new endings. One of the most powerful exercises involved writing an “I am” poem. What is an “I am” poem? I like to think of it as an idyllic snapshot of your life: factual bio meets dramatic manifesto. Few of us take the time to ask ourselves who we are. An “I am” poem empowers us to paint the picture of ourselves        …read more

7 Places to Take a Polar Bear Plunge for Charity on New Year’s Day

polar bear plunge

There’s no better way to fight a hangover on New Year’s Day than with an icy polar bear plunge, especially when freezing your tail off means supporting a good cause. On New Year’s Day, you can curl up in a ball chasing the hair of the dog, or you could partake in an alternative hangover cure: a polar bear plunge. It will require great fortitude and a strong heart because you’ll be jumping into a cold body of water — on purpose. The shock your system receives will surely make it forget how the room was spinning when you woke up. Granted, a polar bear plunge sounds like something reserved for masochists, but for the sake of charity, people — young, old and in between — do it on New Year’s Day. And they’re not all suffering from a hangover. Just in case “it’s for charity” isn’t enough to convince        …read more

8 Best TED Talks to Inspire You

best TED Talks

Looking for more happiness, focus, creativity? Here are the best TED Talks to put you on track for your best year yet. TED Talks have long been the go-to videos for inspiring, thought-provoking ideas from a variety of experts and leaders. Following are the eight best TED Talks, each under 20 minutes, if you're looking to find your calling, expand your creativity and confront your fears. 1. ‘There’s more to life than being happy’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9Trdafp83U Author and writer Emily Esfahani Smith upends the long-held theory that we should all be happy as we saunter through this mortal coil. Rather, she says, we should focus on these four pillars of living a meaningful life: belonging, finding purpose, transcendence and storytelling. Essentially, Smith encourages us to seek belonging in relationships or a community, which helps us feel valued. Finding valuable work is important in order to feel like you’re contributing to society,        …read more

Anxiety Disorders Are the Shared Cultural Experience of the Moment

anxiety disorder

A look at why more people are diagnosed with anxiety disorders now than ever before. The ’90s were totally depressing. Prozac was the word du jour, and Prozac Nation was the book on everyone’s nightstand. Today we’re anxious, and anxiety disorders appear to be a cultural phenomenon. Recently a slew of books on the topic of anxiety disorders have been published, including On Edge and Hi, Anxiety. Anxiety beat depression as the most common mental health issue people face today, according to a 2016 national study of more than 150,000 at the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University. And 38% of 13-to-17-year-old girls and 26% of boys have an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In the past five years, online searches for the word “anxiety” have doubled, according to Google Trends, while the search for “depression” has remained steady. “Anxiety can be        …read more

Therapy on the Go: 7 Mental Health Apps to Ease Your Mind

mental health apps

Relieve stress, anxiety, depression and OCD with these mental health apps. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 18% of people in the U.S. suffer from some form of anxiety-related disorder. More than 16 million adults in the United States — approximately 7% of the population — are affected by depression. As more individuals continue to struggle, software developers have begun scrambling to create mental health apps that assist people with these conditions. Currently more than 50 apps exist for stress management, depression and behavioral modification. While mental health apps are not designed to replace medication or face-to-face therapy sessions, many make mental health care services more accessible to those who need them, delivering a wide range of useful information as well as support for those with anxiety, depression, OCD and other related disorders. Here are seven mental health apps to consider. 1. Talk Space Launched in        …read more