Richard Dawkins discovers his ideal idiom and audience

Some writers struggle for years to achieve a proper harmony in their work between style and substance. For some, that precious concinnity remains elusive till the end. So it is always something of a happy surprise when an author discovers his or her ideal idiom in the twilight of a long career. In a sense, Richard Dawkins has always been a writer of books for children — or, at any rate, for readers with childish minds — but not until now, it seems, has it occurred to him to write explicitly as a children's author. Tο this point, he has made a good living out of a relative paucity of gifts. As a third-tier zoologist, a popularizer of both scientific truths and pseudo-scientific speculations, and a tireless enemy of all religious beliefs (whether he understands them or not), he has...

Read More

Want to change your life? Ditch New Year’s Resolutions for habit tracking

It's an age-old conundrum -- every time January 1st rolls around, millions of Americans set New Year's Resolutions, but by the time February rolls around, one third of us have abandoned every single one. So, if you want to make 2020 the year you finally organize your finances, get in shape or complete any other monumental task, you may want to forget New Year's Resolutions. Instead of writing down grandiose goals, turn your attention to your daily habits. What is habit tracking? Habit tracking -- the practice of monitoring the tiny things you do every single day -- helps you set small and achievable goals that add up over time to produce huge changes in your life. It's a powerful tool that will help you establish healthy habits that'll stick for years to come. Habits are so important because they...

Read More

The ripple effects of expressing gratitude

A new study shows that expressing gratitude affects not only the grateful person, but anyone who witnesses it. Researchers studying gratitude have found that being thankful and expressing it to others is good for our health and happiness. Not only does it feel good, it also helps us build trust and closer bonds with the people around us. These benefits have mostly been observed in a two-person exchange — someone saying thanks and someone receiving thanks. Now, a new study suggests that expressing gratitude not only improves one-on-one relationships, but could bring entire groups together — inspiring a desire to help and connect in people who simply witness an act of gratitude. In this extensive study, Sara Algoe of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her colleagues ran multiple experiments to investigate how witnessing gratitude affects people's...

Read More

Vagus Nerve: The mysterious nerve network that quiets pain and stress — and may defeat disease

Take a deep breath. Hug a friend. Reach for the ceiling and stretch your limbs. Each of these simple acts bestows a sense of calm and comfort. And each works its soothing magic in part by activating a complicated system of nerves that connects the brain to the heart, the gut, the immune system, and many of the organs. That system is known collectively as the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is one of the twelve cranial nerves, which sprawl out from the brain and into the body like an intricate network of roots. These nerve networks act as lines of communication between the brain and the body's many systems and organs. Some of the cranial nerves interpret sensory information collected by the skin, eyes, or tongue. Others control muscles or communicate with glands. The vagus nerve, also called the...

Read More