In the North American hemisphere flu season is here. Influenza, as most people know, is a serious respiratory infection that can be life-threatening in the very young and the very old. Some strains, as we’ve all heard about in the press in the past, are more deadly than others and may threaten even the strong. Luckily, however, we’ve developed a vaccine. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu: the ...

Read more...

A few months ago my son asked if he could have a candy bar after dinner for dessert. My wife and I reminded him that he’d already had candy two days before and that we have a “one candy per week rule” in our house, so we said no. So he asked again. So we said no again. Then he asked yet again. And we said no again. Then he ...

Read more...

Think about alcohol as a prescription drug Imagine there was a practice that I could teach you that would reduce your relative risk of having a heart attack by nearly 40%. Imagine also that if you carried out this practice just once a week you’d find yourself feeling less anxious, more confident, better able to enjoy yourself socially, and in general significantly less stressed (at least while actively engaged ...

Read more...

Whether delivered by a boss regarding a work goal, by a coach regarding an athletic performance, or by a trusted reader regarding the quality of a rough draft, the feedback we get often powerfully influences our ability to succeed. Yet significant controversy exists in the scientific literature about which type of feedback, positive or negative, is most effective. As researcher Ayelet Fishbach explains: ”Several motivation theories attest that positive feedback is more ...

Read more...

When I was in first grade, my teacher once called the class together and said, “Glen is feeling bad because no one will play with him. Will anyone here play with Glen?” Glen was new (I think he moved to the area mid-year) and awkward-looking, and I remember how bad I felt for him when she said that. So I raised my hand. “I’ll play with Glen,” I said. To ...

Read more...

When searching for a mate, most of us carry around a list of criteria or qualities that we tell ourselves we’re looking for. A brief perusal of any Internet dating site yields many such lists: “A sense of humor, a sense of adventure, and good teeth” says one. “Owns his own business, likes to travel, and works out,” says another. Curiously, however, we often end up with mates who seem ...

Read more...

Patients often come to me seeking advice about what they can do to live longer. The number of things that have been proven to extend life, however, remains shockingly small. What follows are things that have enough support in the scientific literature that I generally recommend them (though the strength of the evidence varies even with these):

  1. Take simvastatin (brand name Zocor). That is, if you have coronary artery disease. (This is one of ...

    Read more...

The biggest mistake patients make isn’t what you think. It isn’t turning down tests or treatments their doctors recommend. Nor is it deciding not to take the medicines their doctors prescribe. It isn’t insisting on getting a test or beginning a treatment their doctors recommend against, either, and it isn’t failing to exercise, stay out of the sun (or use sunscreen), quit smoking, or lose weight. No, the biggest mistake ...

Read more...

As with most things in life, romantic relationships are, for many of us, a double-edged sword: while most find it wonderful to love and be loved, developing intimate emotional ties to someone makes us emotionally vulnerable—vulnerable not only to being hurt by our partner’s opinions of and feelings toward us, but also vulnerable to being affected by our partner’s bad moods. If a colleague or a friend gets depressed, we’re ...

Read more...

A few weeks ago my wife, my son, and I went out for dinner. My son, though usually well-behaved and pleasant, was boisterous and disruptive, alternately leaping off his seat to crawl under the table and banging his silverware on his water glass to see what different volume of sound he could make it produce. Our tolerance for disciplining him patiently having been exhausted in us both by our respective challenging ...

Read more...

4 Pages