How What We Read/Watch Affects Happiness

16331916468_6223b8cbe9_z

We all spend a lot of time reading and watching things on screens these days. There are health problems from it (you’ve heard of “tech neck,” right?), and marathoning has become a couch sport – not just a long race for athletic types. Now, a new study by Civic Science (that I read about in the September issue of Women’s Health mag) reveals that what we choose to spend time scrolling through can predict whether we’re happy or sad.

On Social Media

People who spent time creating and pinning to boards on Pinterest fared the best, because it’s a platform that encourages creative expression. It’s less about getting validation or approval from others, and more about fulfilling your artistic (or cooking or decorating) impulses, which is more pleasurable.

On the Big Screen

Whether you’re watching oldie-but-goodies on Netflix, or catching the latest blockbuster at the multiplex, those who chose dramas were happier, while people who took in horror movies were the bluest. While the latest slasher can be entertaining, it’s hard to relate to the characters, or picture yourself in the film. People who can commiserate with the actors on screen get more out of watching.

On Television

Sports fans rejoice! People who watch five to 10 hours of their favorite teams a week fare better emotionally than those who don’t log any time cheering (or yelling as the case may be) at the TV screen. Fan girls and boys gain a sense of community with their fellow fans, and feel a part of something bigger. Those who skip the fantasy leagues and read a book on game day miss out.

Image by Craig Sunter

Advertisements

Links!

47408181_919573dfd2_z (1)

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately to help you over the hump towards the weekend.

I know I have felt that awkward, “What can I possibly say feeling?” How to Help People in Grief.

Huzzah! Long live the cheap bikini!

Want.

These two should probably join Cirque du Solei

The Music in Whale Calls

Mindy Kaling’s Guide to Killer Confidence. Spoiler alert: It’s not the lame advice you’d typically expect. (Gosh, I just love her so much!)

Even though he’s Magic Mike, he’s still just a weird dad.

Aliens are real!

If someone is shitty to everyone else, there is a 99.5 percent chance that they will eventually be shitty to you, too.”

When you’re running late.

Image by Alice

Your Summer Farmer’s Market Shopping List

One of my favorite things about summertime is all of the bounty it brings to my local farmer’s market. After all of the squash and root veggies of winter, and the greens of early spring, I’m ready for tomatoes and berries once the warmer months come around.  I stop by a market about once a week, and look for the things that are in season – that’s where you get the best deals.

IMG_4008

First I do a loop to see which vendors have what, and are offering the best price. Then, I let my nose be my guide. If I can smell the peaches or the melons from a distance, it usually means they’re ripe.

To make sure the produce lasts, I get a combination of ripe – I’ll eat it when I get home things, and stuff that could use a couple more days to soften up. Buy fruits and veggies with the stem on. They’ll last longer. Check out this guide to what’s in season now:

  • Bell Peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Cantaloupe/ Muskmelons
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Collard Greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Lima Beans
  • Nectarines
  • Okra
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Summer Squash & Zucchini
  • Tomatillos
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Now go snap some up!

Talking Like a Girl

5540462170_d5297d9ce8_z

I have been told that I sound ditzy – until I talked for a little longer, and started using big words that no one expected. I’ve been told that I need to sound more authoritative, to speak sternly and declaratively. When I tried, I’ve been told I sound monotone. People have said my voice sounds musical, bobbing up and down like a song. People love to imitate how I speak.

And when I asked my male friends, no one had ever had this experience.

I’ve listened to This American Life’s chapter about vocal fry. I read this article. And now, once again, there’s a podcast on Fresh Air asking, “Are we ‘policing’ young women’s voices?” I’ll add my own question – Can we stop it already?

There are so many ways that women already have to change themselves to be “appropriate.” To avoid being raped, the responsibility is on us to not dress too provocatively, or drink too much. At work, we have to be extra certain to dress professionally to avoid looking too young, to not wear pink so we don’t look too feminine, to choose high necklines so our chests aren’t too distracting. After all, we don’t want to be accused of sleeping our way to the top, right?

The way we speak shouldn’t be the next on an already long list of behaviors to we have to adapt to fit.

Image by Howard Lake

In Honor of My Gram

CIMG0054.JPG

The past two weeks, there has been a gap in my posts. On July 11th, I lost one of my most faithful readers, my dear grandmother Janet Rose. She has always been the person asking for latest things I’ve written, pushing me to follow my creative dreams, and wondering when that novel I’ve been plugging away at will be done so she can get her hands on a copy.

After 30 years with her in my life, it just didn’t feel right to post things I knew she wouldn’t see. But I know that Gram would give me a hard time if I leave off for too long. So, in the only way that seems fitting to pick up again, a tribute to her and the things I’ll remember fondly the most.

  • Playing card games, especially when drinking iced tea and eating Nips candy on the back porch
  • Picnics on the beach and ice cream at the Nokomis Groves afterwards
  • Hunting for shark’s teeth and olive shells in the sand
  • Eating the most delicious variety of dips at the kitchen counter while she stirs some equally delicious bubbling pot at the stove
  • Sharing recipes
  • Feeding and holding all of the tropical animals at Sarasota Jungle Gardens
  • Doing puzzles together at Mema’s house
  • The always-full game closet that gave us days of fun
  • Learning to knit from the only other lefty in the family (then learning again when I inevitably didn’t practice and forgot)
  • Playing video and computer games together. (Helping Gram get past the levels she couldn’t beat)
  • Searching for treasures at yard sales all around town, and inevitably saving all my money for a rainy day
  • Learning how to make her famous éclairs (and lots of ways to practice when they didn’t turn out quite right)
  • Evening walks to the creek or railroad tracks or river or meandering through the woods
  • Sending her long-winded emails full of all of the mundane details of my week, and knowing she printed them out to read over and over again
  • Watching violent action movies with the only other person in the family who loves them as much as me
  • The feeling of her soft hands in mine
  • How I was always allowed to pick up her crossword and fill in a few clues
  • Raiding her magazine and Reader’s Digest stash for reading material
  • Falling asleep in “my” twin bed at her house to the tune of trains whistling in the background
  • Telling her what I’m reading for book club
  • Deciding together what I should have for a bedtime snack

It is the thousands of happy memories that we’ve had together that make me miss her so much. And in this time of grief and loss, I will think of those and remember the loving soul, huge heart, and wonderful Grandmother that I was lucky enough to have in my life.

Links! (not THAT Link)

4699342483_6b0efcc7e8_z

If Magic Mike was rewritten by children, here’s what it would be about.

Gloomy cat.

America explained to non-Americans

Did you weigh in on the great peas-in-guacamole debate?

Why cats are just fine (not great) pets.

For anyone who hasn’t joined the dirty 30 club yet.

Can YOU identify Magic Mike characters by their abs? I got a 6 out of 8.

A crisis line that works for the kids these days who only communicate via text.

The perfect koozy for your summer bbq’s.

If you’re on a budget, the best $10 or less wines you can buy.

Image by Tiger Pixel.

What I’m Listening To

Headphones

I was never really one to listen to podcasts. My friends would talk about how much then enjoyed them, and I just…well, couldn’t really get into them. Then Serial came along, and like the rest of the world, I was hooked after my first episode. In between airings, I suddenly NEEDED something to occupy my listening time besides music. I was also doubling the distance I ran, and wanted a little more engaging entertainment than just workout playlists to get me through the long runs.

Much like when I first got my iPhone and I asked everyone I met which apps they had, I started quizzing friends, strangers, coworkers about what podcasts they listened to. After some trial and error, I had built up a fairly solid lineup for myself. And here are the ones I subscribe to:

If you haven’t start to already, get out there and start listening. I can’t recommend these highly enough.