How To Reset Your Happiness Set Point

Photo: puuikibeach

The set-point theory of happiness suggests that our level of subjective well-being is determined primarily by heredity and by personality traits ingrained in us early in life and as a result remains relatively constant throughout our lives. Our level of happiness may change transiently in response to life events, but then almost […]

Our Best Defense Against Tragedy

Photo: Lel4nd

Like most Americans, when I learned that twenty children and six adults had been massacred in Newtown, Connecticut, I recoiled. Like most parents, my next thought was for my own son, the image I retain of his happy, smiling self for one moment replaced by an image of his tiny body lying […]

The Reasons To Avoid Slander

Photo: Jason Hargrove

We all do it: not just talk about other people, but talk about them in a derogatory way. Why? According to recent research, it may be because gossip “not only helps clarify and enforce the rules that keep people working well together, but it circulates crucial information about the behavior of […]

The Courage To Hear The Truth

Photo: pichado photography

Years ago, I was having lunch with a friend who’d developed a reputation for being difficult. He complained frequently and bitterly, often about things no one else found bothersome. In general, he was perceived as negative and over-entitled. I thought most of the time the points he made were valid but […]

How To Overcome Shyness

Photo: kaibara87

When I was a teenager, I was afflicted with terrible shyness. Not in every context or with all people—mostly just with girls. Not unlike millions of other adolescent males, when in the presence of a girl I found attractive, I would become tongue tied, awkward, and lose all self-confidence.

As I grew […]

What Justice Is

Every time I’ve written about morality, I’ve received strong, polarized reactions, and I imagine this time will be no different. But as we’ve all been afforded an opportunity to reexamine—and perhaps redefine—our concept of justice with the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, despite my trepidation, I feel compelled to share my thoughts.

For me, […]

How To Comfort Yourself

Photo: pipitdapo

The other week, a patient of mine told me he’d recently come to the realization that he has a tendency to become almost embarrassingly needy in certain situations, something he attributed to several early childhood experiences. When he was three, he told me, his five-year-old sister died of cancer. He doesn’t specifically […]

When The Love Of Your Life Doesn’t Love You

Photo: Lance Shields

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about a particularly painful breakup he’d gone through recently. His girlfriend had decided she no longer wanted to be with him and had summarily cut him out of her life. Naturally, he yearned for an explanation and some closure, so he […]

The Problem With Turning The Other Cheek

Photo: Anamorphic Mike

In a previous post, The Three Realms Of Confidence, I told a story from my childhood (how I was bullied in seventh grade because I was Jewish) to introduce the concept that confidence exists in three separate realms. In response to that post, a reader commented (on the Psychology Today blog […]

How Touching Saves Lives

Photo: Josep Ma. Rosell

When I was a fourth-year medical student, I once did a month-long rotation in the ER. One night a woman came in who we decided needed some lab work. When I let her know we needed to draw her blood, she began to tremble visibly. “I’m scared of needles,” she […]