Build your own intellectual oasis

Two years ago I started an experiment I would like to recommend to you. At the urging of my best friend, concerned not just about my happiness but my mental health, I went dark. Perhaps if enough people give this a try it could help pull our troubled culture out of its downward spiral. What do I mean by going dark? I've enjoyed a four-decade long career as an engineer, entrepreneur, and venture capital investor working with many others to help build the digital world in which we now live. As the years passed I became more of an "activist," devoting increasing amounts of time, money, and attention to various issues and causes impacting the body politic. For 25 years I wrote regular opinion columns for publications like Network Computing and Communications Week, back in the pre-web days, transitioning to...

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Cradled by therapy

Why therapy works is still up for debate. But, when it does, its methods mimic the attachment dynamics of good parenting In 2006, a team of Norwegian researchers set out to study how experienced psychotherapists help people to change. Led by Michael Rønnestad, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oslo, the team followed 50 therapist-patient pairs, tracking, in minute detail, what the therapists did that made them so effective. Margrethe Halvorsen, a post-doc at the time, was given the job of interviewing the patients at the end of the treatment. That's how she met Cora - a woman in her late 40s, single, childless, easy to like. As a kid, Cora (a pseudonym) had suffered repeated sexual abuse at the hands of her mother and her mother's friends. Before entering therapy, she habitually self-harmed. She'd tried to...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Breathe Deep to Reap The Benefits of a Healthy Mind: The Tao of Natural Breathing

Correct breathing should come as natural to us as, well, breathing. But it doesn't. In fact, most of us so take the simple act of respiration for granted that we have learned to breathe shallowly and, indeed, incorrectly - allowing for a host of all sorts of detrimental knock-on effects. But what does that have to do with the world of ideas and the 'life of the mind' anyway? Well, quite a lot actually as we're coming to learn. This week on MindMatters join us as we delve into Dennis Lewis' The Tao of Natural Breathing - where a number of crucial connections are made not only between the science of breathing and physiological well-being, but also the benefits given to cognition, our emotional life - and greater perception of our inner and outer directed states of awareness. There are...

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Giving your children experiences instead of toys boosts their intelligence and happiness

Recent studies have revealed that giving your child too many things to play with can result in the opposite of the desired effect - they may actually be less happy. Childhood development researcher, Clair Lerner, suggests that when children are showered with toys and games, they start playing less. An abundance of toys can overwhelm and distract kids, making them lose the concentration needed to learn from these toys. Lerner's discoveries were mirrored by Michael Malone, a professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Cincinnati. Malone's studies showed that fewer but better toys lead to increased cooperation and sharing when it comes to valuable life skills. Furthermore, too many toys push children into more solitary play while causing a type of unproductive overload. ...

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