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A publication from Medium on personal development.


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A neuroscientist is discovering that time in nature is one of the best ways to reduce stress and increase happiness and productivity. Here are the specific doses that work the magic.

Photo by Silvestri Matteo on Unsplash

In my new book The Comfort Crisis, which looks at the benefits of engaging with forms of mind-and-body-enhancing discomfort our ancestors faced every day, I spend a section unpacking all the benefits of the outdoors … of which, I found, there are a metric shit-ton.

The problem: Most of us today rarely experience the natural world. We spend 93 percent of our time indoors. More than half of Americans don’t go outside for any type of recreation at all. That includes the simple stuff like walking and jogging. The time we spend outdoors has declined over the past few of…

A psychological phenomenon explains why we are so terrible at seeing how good we have it

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

I was recently on one of my favorite radio shows of all time, NPR’s RadioWest, talking about my new book, The Comfort Crisis. The show’s host, Doug Fabrizio, started the interview by asking me to tell a story about two Harvard psychologists, David Levari and Daniel Gilbert, who a few years ago noticed something funny while standing in line for TSA. And what they noticed led them to conduct a study that can explain why so many of us are so bad at seeing how good we have it.

You can listen to me tell the story on the show…

Complaining about small talk has become the new small talk

Photo: David Pinzer Photography/Getty Images

On my morning walk, I wave to my neighbor and ask how he’s doing. “Oh, just waiting for the sun to come out,” he smiles, working on his truck. It’s been two days of gray, damp weather, but it feels like weeks. I tell him this. He agrees. Looking up from the hood, he squints and points to the hills in the distance. “I’ve lived here for twenty years,” he says. “Watching that sunset never gets old.” We exchange a few more pleasantries, and I’m on my way.

Maybe it’s a year of being in quarantine, but I miss talking…

You’re simply not going to find what you’re looking for online

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Every time I go online these days, three words rattle around in my head like a mantra. Often, they are directed towards myself, when I’m clicking on the fourth article about some stranger who has been cancelled for dubious reasons. But increasingly, I say them as a kind of incantation to the countless people I see online acting in a way that is clearly counter to their best interest: Just log off.

I can’t think of one online dust-up, cancellation, ruckus, brouhaha, Twitter screenshot apology, or controversial company statement—followed by another bizarre statement that clarifies the first one—that wouldn’t be…

Embrace whatever pandemic solitude remains—and, in the future, re-create it

Photo: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

I recently found myself standing alone on the Arctic tundra, over 100 miles from civilization. I spent a month up there reporting portions of my new book, The Comfort Crisis. There was no human around me for miles and miles. There were also no people “with” me through TV, podcasts, social media, email, or text messages.

The realization that I was in a rare state of supreme solitude was both unnerving and freeing. Unnerving because the frozen ground was littered with grizzly poop and if the weather were to change — and did often and quick out there — I’d…

Being kind to yourself is an underrated way to feel more in charge of your life

Photo: Alistair Berg/Getty Images

Have you ever had a stretch of weeks, months, or — god bless you — years where it feels like you’re putting out fires constantly? Like you can’t catch a break? Like the universe is really taking you for a ride?

I realize that, technically, we’ve all been living through that for the past 15 pandemic months. But I’m talking about the mundane things that — when three, four, five of them pile up — really start to test your resilience, sanity, and positive personality traits. An unexpected letter from the IRS. The presence of fleas in the flat you…

Your body is trying to tell you something

Photo: Liza Summer/Pexels

I don’t like to say “no.” As a freelancer, I don’t make money unless I work––so when editors reach out with potential assignments, I typically say “yes” without a second thought. The extra money in my pocket is always helpful, but honestly? It’s more about FOMO. I’m worried work won’t keep coming to my inbox if I don’t say “yes” every time––even if I don’t have the bandwidth to do the work I’m agreeing to.

Here’s the problem: On fear-of-missing-out autopilot, I often don’t notice I’m approaching burnout until I’m already crashing and burning. As the work piles up and…

Shutting people out in the name of ‘self-care’ ultimately feels like self-destruction

Photo by Walling on Unsplash

Not long ago, I attended a panel that featured a few established writers. An audience member asked one of them a personal question: How do you practice self-care? The answer was brutally honest.

The writer said she didn’t respond to text messages and often flaked on people. Her friends had to accept that she would be hard to reach. If they wanted to spend time with her, they would be the ones to make an effort. Her schedule was too packed for more obligations. If you want to be successful and keep your sanity, she said, you have to accept…

The more we care what others think of us, the harder it is to know ourselves. But self-compassion can help.

Photo by Alex Ivashenko on Unsplash

Depending on who you listen to, I’m a “try-hard,” an imposter, no fun at parties, and could be improving at, well, just about everything, from the way I dress, to the job I do, to wrangling my eyebrows.

All of these are things that have been said about me or to me, but that isn’t the part that sent off alarm bells in my head. What struck me is how often my brain repeats these things back to itself, like it’s studying flashcards for an exam we’re likely to fail. …

How a healthy dose of ferocity promotes healing and growth

Photo: Liza Summer/Pexels

“You need to calm down,” someone recently said to me on a phone call. “You’re making a huge deal out of nothing.” Adrenaline coursed through my arms and legs, like my body wanted me to run.

Normally, I’d bow out of the conversation to avoid conflict, make a mental note not to bring up personal topics with that person again, and recover with some self-care –– a hot bath, a walk through the neighborhood, or a chat with a supportive friend.

As I internally grappled with how to respond, I pictured myself as a kid, gaslit into doubting my feelings…


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