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Showing posts from August, 2016

Should I Put My Foot Down? People Pleasing 101

People ask me all the time what the secret to happiness is. “If you had to pick just one thing,” they wonder, “what would be the most important thing for leading a happy life?” Ten years ago, I would have told you a regular gratitude practice was the most important thing, and while that is still my favorite instant happiness booster, my answer has changed. I believe the most important thing for happiness is living truthfully. Here’s the specific advice I recently gave my kids:

Live with total integrity. Be transparent, honest, and authentic. Do not ever waiver from this; white lies and false smiles quickly snowball into a life lived out of alignment. It is better to be yourself and risk having people not like you than to suffer the stress and tension that comes from pretending to be someone you’re not, or professing to like something that you don’t. I promise you: Pretending will rob you of joy.

I’ve spent the better part of my life as a people-pleaser, trying to meet other people’s e…

The Science of Falling In Love

"How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?—Albert Einstein

Einstein was correct—science will never clinically sterilize the wonderment of love (first or otherwise). But I think he’d also agree that it’s a mistake to confuse increased understanding with diminished meaning. No matter what we learn about love, it will continue to be one of the most meaningful and powerful forces on the planet, as it should be.

With that disclaimer, let’s jump in and discover what we've learned so far:

Love is addictive.

Thinking about one’s beloved—particularly in new relationships—triggers activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain, which releases a flood of the neurotransmitter dopamine (the so-called "pleasure chemical") into the brain’s reward (or pleasure) centers—the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens. This gives the lover a high not unlike the effect of narcotics, and it’s mi…