1. Ten Benefits of Sadness

    August 5, 2013

    benefits of sadness

     

    by Derek Whitney

    Now more than ever before, there seems to be a multitude of things to make people sad. The economy, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, terrorism and war are just a few of the things that have the ability to bring people down on a daily basis. Thanks to the Internet, tablets, smartphones and many 24-hour news channels, these tragic events are brought to us immediately in living color.

    Of course, this is not counting the personal tragedies that people have to deal with. The death of a friend or relative, the loss of a job, the death of a pet, bankruptcy, foreclosure and car accidents are much more painful than tragedies that you watch on the news. This is because you are directly affected by them.

    However, sadness is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can have many benefits. While this may be surprising to most people, the fact is that humans need sadness in their lives. It is part of what truly makes people human. Here are some of the benefits of sadness:

    1. Better memory

    People that are in bad moods have a tendency to have improved memories. According to one study, people that were feeling sad remembered more than people in a good mood about the interior details of a shop. It is also more difficult to trick sad people with misleading questions. While scientists are not sure why these things occur, the results of the tests are intriguing.

    2. Less gullible

    Sad people tend to be less gullible. Studies show that they can detect when someone is trying to deceive them better than happy people. They are also less likely to believe urban legends.

    3. Improved judgment

    Sadness makes people have judgment that is more accurate. For many years, social scientists have documented the judgmental biases of people in different moods. Researchers are now indicating that sad people do not fall prey to those biases as easily as people that are in good moods.

    4. Increased motivation

    Sadness has also been shown to have motivational benefits. For example, studies indicate that sad people are able to persevere longer at tasks that most people would give up on after a short time. Scientists believe that the human brain, in an effort to block out all of the negativity and sadness, will focus on a particular task like a laser, no matter how difficult it is. People who were sad at the start of the task become so engaged in the activity that accomplishing their goal becomes their driving ambition.

    5. Lack of stereotyping

    Negative stereotyping is a behavior that is not commonly seen from sad people. They are also less likely to act on any negative stereotypical judgments. Researchers believe that this has something to do with sadness affecting the part of the brain that makes people more civil and understanding.

    6. Ability to appreciate their blessings in life

    Sadness can make people more appreciative of what they have. An example would be parents who have three children. If one of those children were to tragically die in a car accident, the immediate reaction would be sorrow and grief. However, the parents would eventually begin to appreciate their two remaining children more than they did before the accident. This would in turn lead to a stronger family bond.

    7. Analytical reasoning

    Analytical reasoning is enhanced by sadness. Complex problems are more easily broken down into more manageable parts by this type of intense thinking.

    8. Improved manners

    Manners have been shown to be improved when people are going through a difficult time. These people tend to ask for things in a more polite way than people who are at their best.

    9. Improved persuasiveness

    Sad people tend to focus their energy into getting what they want. Therefore, it is common for sad people to be more persuasive. They are generally very good at coming up with effective and believable arguments.

    10. Fairness is increased

    Research has also shown that sad people are generally more fair. For example, if people that are feeling down and depressed are allowed to allocate a particular resource any way they want, they will most likely distribute the resource more fairly than happy people.

     

    Author Bio: Derek is currently blogging for Aligned Signs, a site that helps connect like-minded people by using astrology, mbti personality type, and Chinese zodiac.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian

     


  2. Brain Health Activities – 5 Tips To Help Keep Your Mind Sharp

    June 8, 2013

    Brain Health Activities

    The same way you go to the gym and work on the fitness of your body through exercises, you can improve the fitness of your brain by regularly doing activities that train your mind. When you train your brain properly you’ll be able to stretch the limit of your mind. When you utilize the right brain activities you’ll eventually start improving your memory, reflexes, creativity, your ability to process information and a lot more. Check out these fitness tips made specifically for your brain.

    Perform Reconstructive Activities

    Reconstructing something like an image or what a person said can help you improve your memory and increase all levels of brain operation. It is considered one of the top brain health activities. Head out to a Zoo or art gallery and get a tour. As you go through the tour make sure you listen to everything the tour guide is telling you. Try to pay attention to every little detail of the tour and once the tour concludes try to remember everything until you reach home.

    Once you are home try to write down everything you remember from the tour on a piece of paper. This simple activity will improve your overall brain function and ability to receive and recollect things easily.

    Another thing you can try to reconstruct in your mind is a certain song that you like. Listen to a song as much as you can until you have memorized it word for word. This will help your mind develop great thinking and remembering skills.

    Reconstruction activities will release beneficial chemicals in your brain like neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a main carrier of thoughts and memory in your brain. Without enough acetylcholine in your brain you won’t be able to focus on anything for too long, and both your storage and memory will suffer.

    One of the best ways to release more acetylcholine into your brain is to perform an activity that requires you to use your eyes. Pick a location somewhere outside like a park or you can even do it inside your home. Now sit down somewhere and look directly in front of you while trying to focus on everything you view. Don’t turn your head or move your eyes, just look straight ahead. Remain in this position for 10 to 15 minutes and then when done take a pen and list everything you saw on this list. This is another effective reconstruction activity that will help reduce memory loss and fight off symptoms of conditions like Alzheimer’s.

    Learn A New Instrument

    Have you ever wanted to learn how to play a certain instrument but you never made it a priority? Well, if you are trying to sharpen up your mind now is a good time to start learning. When you learn how to play an instrument it’ll improve your memory, brain processing, and even help with hearing.

    The reason why learning a new instrument will improve your brain’s ability to remember things is because you have to learn about things like scores and tones when you learn music, which will train your brain to store more information than before.

    Do Your Math

    Most people are intimidated by math while they’re in school and try to avoid this subject as much as possible. However, solving math problems (even simple ones) can help you stimulate your brain.  The key to using simple math problems to improve your brain health is to do them as fast as you can. When you use your brain to solve creative problems quickly your brain will begin operating at a much faster rate and slow down the effects of aging.

    Sudoku

    Sudoku is a logic based puzzle that can improve your brain function dramatically. This activity will mainly help the left side of your brain, which is the logic area. People who frequently play the Sudoku game report that their mind feels sharper and they are more alert. Brain health experts recommend playing games like Sudoku in order to keep your brain operating at a high level when you’re old. You can find Sudoku in most newspapers at least once every week.

    Learn How to Use Your Off Hand

    Believe it or not, but learning to use your secondary hand can have a great effect on your brain. If you are left handed try using your right hand to do simple things, and if you’re right handed try to use your left. Doing this activity as often as you can will help your brain learn a new and more challenging way of doing things.

    This will force your brain to make a positive change. Start with something as simple as brushing your teeth. Learn to brush your teeth everyday with your off hand and eventually your brain will adapt to this change. Continue to learn how to do more challenging tasks with your secondary hand to keep challenging your brain and improving its processing power.

    Author Bio: John is a health expert that writes on a number of different topics. To read more of his health writing, check out Wart Removal Experts a website focused on treating warts naturally.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian

     


  3. Five Techniques for a Healthier Memory

    March 11, 2013

    Summary: Memory loss is not an inevitable part of aging and with a bit of work it can be prevented. Read on to discover five of the best techniques to help your memory as you grow older…

    Forgotten where you put your house keys? Just been to the shops and discovered half the things you meant to buy are still on the shelf? These things can happen to anyone of any age, but as you get older you might start to worry that aging is causing your memory to subside.

    Growing old brings about physiological changes that can cause issues with the power of recall, but you are not powerless. If you are concerned that you, or a loved one, are starting to suffer from the effects of a worsening memory, living standards can be given a boost through the provision of nursing care. However, there are many steps that can be taken unassisted which will help hugely with memory retention. Here are five of the best:

    1. Sleep Soundly

    During a recent study, scientists from a university in California found that sleep quality has a profound effect on memory as people grow old. The researchers discovered poor sleep causes deterioration in the part of the brain responsible for blending new memories together and over time this can lead to a drop in memory ability.

    This problem can be avoided by getting regular, better quality sleep. Try to establish regular sleeping hours, with stable times for going to sleep and waking up. Getting into a healthy sleeping routine will help preserve your memory power as the years roll by.

    2. Healthy body, healthy mind

    The body can generate new brain cells at any time of your life. Exercising and keeping fit as you get older creates the perfect conditions for new cells to be created, boosting the blood supply to your brain. Exercise has also been shown to alleviate depression and prevent memory-affecting conditions such as diabetes.

    Psychologists recommend that everyone should do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. Building physical activity into your daily routine is a great way to improve your psychological health and brain health. Maybe you could take up a sport, or go for a walk every day. Whatever you decide, you’ll be providing a great boost to your memory power.

    3. Keep well fuelled

    Your brain is a delicate piece of equipment and to keep it running smoothly you really need to make sure you give it the proper fuel. A proper diet can be as beneficial to your mind and memory as it can be for your heart and body.

    Foods that are rich in omega-3 fats, such as salmon and tuna, are good for the brain and memory so should become an integral part of your diet. Also, make sure to take on plenty of fruit and vegetables – foods that are high in antioxidants which can offer brain benefits.

    4. Use it, don’t lose it

    Carrying out challenging mental activities can keep the brain healthy, forcing your mind to create new neural connections and preserve old ones. Mental connections are vital to the process of memory recall, so keeping the brain working is enormously helpful in preserving memory function.

    Improving your concentration is a key part of this process. Memory and attention improvement courses such as Cogmed are specifically geared towards training this ability, something which should really help to boost your memory power. By mixing cutting edge science (Cogmed program was developed and evaluated world famous neuro psychologists) with innovative design the online training system aims to improve your working memory by increasing your capacity to focus on and retain vital information.

    Outside of targeted memory-improvement programmes, there are plenty of other activities that you can do which will keep you mentally challenged. The key to the process is keeping your mind active – so watching documentaries doesn’t count! Here are a few of the things you could build into your daily routine:

    • Complete a  daily crossword
    • Take up a new musical instrument
    • Learn a language
    • Take a part-time course at a local education centre
    • Volunteer at a local community organisation

     

    5. Organise your way to a better memory

    Psychologists recommend implementing some extra systems to increase order in your life can boost memory power. Creating a diary in which you can jot down tasks and important dates will give you an extra resource to make sure information is not forgotten. And creating a space for items like keys, wallets and purses can ensure that these important items are not mislaid.

    If you’re in a care home, or believe that you may need to enter one soon, many of these organisational tasks will be taken care of. However, there are always things that you can do yourself to boost your memory power and often putting in that little extra effort is enough to provide a big memory boost.

    Protecting this vital asset

    The peerless Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci summarised the significance of memory beautifully when he wrote: “Men wrongly lament the flight of time, blaming it for being too swift; they do not perceive that its passage is sufficiently long, but a good memory, which nature has given to us, causes things long past to seem present.”

    A good memory can transform your experience of life so please do try these tips for a healthier memory and let us know which ones worked best for you.

    What’s your memory like? Do you have a favourite memory retention technique? We would like to see your suggestions in comments section…

    Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02/6829467731