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Mindful : August 2016
Changing Our Minds Could it be that young’uns chuckling at Reddit posts and using Snapchat to send selfies have got something to teach older folks about hap- piness? Perhaps. A recent study out of Israel looked at the impact of Internet use among different age groups and found—no surprise here— higher levels of satisfac- tion among the younger set. We’ve known for years about the digital divide: Worldwide, people over 60 participate least in the information society. But that’s not the whole story, the study’s authors con- clude: After controlling for socio-demographic variables, sociability, and health conditions, those in the older group who do use the Internet see an overall increase in life satisfaction. Internet: Good for Your Well-being? Micro-RVing: The Next Small Thing Meet Paul Elkins, an innovator who’s designed a cheap, prac- tical mini-camper for those who want to enjoy the outdoors without breaking the bank or hurting the environment. Elkins spent $150 to build a light, bicycle-pulled camper that affords some of the comforts of home, without much of the baggage. Who buys his blueprints? “Most of these people seem pro- gressive, compassionate, and mindful of their environmental footprint,” he says. “But some are just trying to get by.” Minding the Kids How can mindfulness in parents produce stronger psychosocial well- being in children? In one online survey of 615 parents with 3- to 17-year-old kids, a mindful disposition was associated with fewer “neg- ative” parenting practices like harsh discipline. This, in turn, correlated with fewer mood and behavioral problems in the children. Another mindful-parenting study linked a tendency to share in reciprocated posi- tive emotions with teens during stressful conflicts to fewer substance abuse problems in the children. 3Extra ordinary Acts of Kindness More than 80,000 Canadians fled their For t McMur- ray homes after a fire ravaged the city. Pilot Keith Mann didn’t hesi- tate to break airline rules and bring aboard more than 40 animals that were left behind in the evacuation. Teens in the Bay Area are cooking healthy meals and delivering them to people with illness. In 2015, the kids delivered more than 90,000 meals. Los Angeles’ Khloe Thompson, 9, sews handbags, fills them with neces- sities like soap and socks, and gives them to homeless women. “Maintaining close relationships with peers may be a challenging—yet rewarding—endeavor throughout childhood. Acting forgivingly toward interpersonal offenses by friends is related to enhanced psychological well-being and, as such, may be fruitful in cultivating essential peer relationships.” (van der Wal et al., 2016), “Interpersonal forgiveness and psychological well- being in late childhood” in Merrill- Palmer Quarterly OVERHEARD How much can people change in six weeks? To investigate, researchers at the University of Califor- nia, Santa Barbara enlisted 15 college students in a mindfulness-based lifestyle improvement program. Each weekday, students convened for 150 minutes of exercise, 90 minutes of discussion on topics ranging from stress management to relation- ships, and an hour of formal meditation practice. Compared to wait- listed students, partici- pants showed substantial gains—not just in fitness, self-esteem, and mood, but also in working memory and brain function. Benefits persisted six weeks later. Humans have higher limits than we assume for rapid change across vari- ous capacities at the same time, the researchers say. This small study focused on young adults; it would be interesting to see if the pro- gram would similarly benefit older adults in a larger study. August 2016 mindful 13 PHOTOGRAPHS©ISTOCK/ADOGSLIFEPHOTO,VIKIF,NIDWLW,©PAULELKINS,©SHUTTERSTOCK/STUDIOGRANDOUEST