Caution and passtion live on opposite ends of block, and live very different lives. One can’t fault either of them, because they come by their lifestyles honestly, and there is a lot to be said for both. And since our human bodies and beings are wired for both caution and passion, we should be respectful. But which end of the block do we want to live on at this point in our finite lives?

Caution tells us: stay put. Things aren’t too bad now. It’s OK. But if you take a risk, who knows what will come out and bite you? Passion says: check things out, go exploring. Things could be even better.  Who knows what opportunities lie around the next corner? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Caution says: If you express yourself brightly, vocally, people might not like you. You might get rejected. You don’t know what you really think anyway; maybe you’ll say something stupid. How awful. Passion says: you have a voice, use it. You feel strongly about something, say so, act on it. Who cares in the end what other people think… what do you think?  If they don’t like it, let them deal with it. There is room for lots of voices in the world, including yours.

Caution says: If you let go of what you have, you might never get it back. You will be worse off than you are now. It says: we live in a world where there is not enough to go around. It is better to have half a meal than none. You can make this job work. You can make this relationship work. You can make this living situation work, you guess. You have to anyway. Things can get pretty chaotic, and at least you know where you are now, you have figured out how to live with it. Who says there is anything better around that corner?  Passion says: what do you really want? Is this your heart’s true desire?  If you listened to yourself, truly, what would you be doing, who would you be doing it with?  It wonders, is this how you want to be spending your precious minutes?  Passion says: life is opportunities, and if you fall and scrape your knee, well, that was to be expected; now pick yourself up and go play some more.

Caution tells us to look at what we actually need, and counsels conservation. Passion tells us that what we want and feel matter too, and it says hopefully that there is lots out there for us, if we go find it. And we can.

Which end of the block are you living on?  How did you get there?

Brian Grady, Ph.D. R. Psych.

Tomorrow’s *Chicago Tribune* (Sunday, May 3) includes an interview with social psychologist David Myers:  “Money does buy happiness — but only temporarily” by Eve Hightower.

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

Q  What should we know about happiness during times like these?

A  Economic growth has not led to happiness over time.  Growth and
downfalls can lead to short-term happiness, but we rebound to our normal
level of happiness after a while.

People who value high income, occupational success and prestige to
having very close friends and a close marriage are twice as likely to
describe themselves as “fairly” or “very” unhappy.

The need to belong runs deeper, it seems, than any need to be rich.

For all but the very poor, more money buys no more than a temporary
surge of happiness.

Q  What does predict happiness?

A  Perhaps the most important predictor is close, supportive
relationships.  We’re social animals.  Forty percent of married adults
say they’re happy, whereas 23 percent of never-married adults say
they’re happy.

But just being married doesn’t mean you’re happy.  You can be in an
unhappy marriage.

Q  There’s also a correlation between religion and happiness. Are
religious people happy or are happy people attracted to religion?

A  Causal traffic is two-way between happiness and marriage and could be
with religion too.   Happy people tend to be more social in general.


QAnd unhappiness can be a good thing?

AWhen bad things happen in our lives, unhappiness alerts us to do
something about it.

[end excerpts]

The interview is online at:

courtesy of Ken Pope

North Carolina State University issued the following news release:

Think Memory Worsens With Age? Then Yours Probably Will

Thinking your memory will get worse as you get older may actually be a
self-fulfilling prophecy. Researchers at North Carolina State University
have found that senior citizens who think older people should perform
poorly on tests of memory actually score much worse than seniors who do
not buy in to negative stereotypes about aging and memory loss.

In a study published earlier this month, psychology professor Dr. Tom
Hess and a team of researchers from NC State show that older adults’
ability to remember suffers when negative stereotypes are “activated” in
a given situation. “For example, older adults will perform more poorly
on a memory test if they are told that older folks do poorly on that
particular type of memory test,” Hess says.

Memory also suffers if senior citizens believe they are being
“stigmatized,” meaning that others are looking down on them because of
their age.

“Such situations may be a part of older adults’ everyday experience,”
Hess says, “such as being concerned about what others think of them at
work having a negative effect on their performance – and thus
potentially reinforcing the negative stereotypes.” However, Hess adds,
“The positive flip side of this is that those who do not feel
stigmatized, or those in situations where more positive views of aging
are activated, exhibit significantly higher levels of memory
performance.” In other words, if you are confident that aging will not
ravage your memory, you are more likely to perform well on memory-
related tasks.

The study also found a couple of factors that influenced the extent to
which negative stereotypes influence older adults. For example, the
researchers found that adults between the ages of 60 and 70 suffered
more when these negative stereotypes were activated than seniors who
were between the ages of 71 and 82. However, the 71-82 age group
performed worse when they felt stigmatized.

Finally, the study found that negative effects were strongest for those
older adults with the highest levels of education. “We interpret this as
being consistent with the idea that those who value their ability to
remember things most are the most likely to be sensitive to the negative
implications of stereotypes, and thus are most likely to exhibit the
problems associated with the stereotype.”

“The take-home message,” Hess says, “is that social factors may have a
negative effect on older adults’ memory performance.”

[end news release]

Here’s a link to the abstract of the study:

Courtesy of Ken Pope

The many faces of perfectionism

The need for perfection comes in different flavors, each associated with its own set of problems, researchers say.

Monitor staff

Paul Hewitt, PhD, does not have much patience with researchers who argue that perfectionism–the need to be or appear perfect–can sometimes serve as a healthy motivation for reaching ambitious goals. “I don’t think needing to be perfect is in any way adaptive,” he says.

Hewitt should know. In more than 20 years of research, he and his colleagues–particularly psychologist Gordon Flett, PhD–have found that perfectionism correlates with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other mental health problems. This summer, several new studies were published that help explain how perfectionism can contribute to psychopathology.

“In the literature right now–this astounds me–people have said that self-oriented perfectionism is adaptive,” says Hewitt, a practicing psychologist and professor at the University of British Columbia. “People will make that claim, and they’ll just ignore the fairly large literature that says that it’s a vulnerability factor for unipolar depression, anorexia and suicide.”

The question of adaptiveness

Since the early 1990s, Hewitt and Flett, a professor of psychology at York University in Toronto have championed the idea that perfectionism comes in different flavors, each associated with different kinds of problems. Some of those problems may be less severe than others, they argue, but no form of perfectionism is completely problem-free.

Other researchers, however, have suggested that some forms of perfectionism–particularly those that involve high personal standards–can be adaptive. World-class athletes, they argue, have extraordinarily high standards; they shouldn’t be labeled pathological just because they aim high.

That’s an oversimplification, says Hewitt, one that conflates two very different things: the desire to excel and the desire to be perfect.


Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.

Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don’t realize what messages they are sending.

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.

Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.

Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem.

So much is asked of parents, and so little is given.

The recommended daily requirement for hugs is: four per day for survival, eight per day for maintenance, and twelve per day for growth.

We can learn something new anytime we believe we can.

We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.

What lingers from the parent’s individual past, unresolved or incomplete, often becomes part of her or his irrational parenting.

– quotes from Virginia Satir –

“I am Me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it — I own everything about me: my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself. I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know — but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me. However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded. I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me. I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me, and I am Okay.”

– Virginia Satir –

Some thoughts on what expectations are unrealistic and create dissatisfaction in marriage, according to Janis Spring


Unrealistic expectations

Unrealistic expectations, not your partner, may be responsible for your dissatisfaction. These expectations include:

“My partner and I should feel a deep, unspoken bond at all times”.

“My partner should be able to anticipate my needs.”

“I shouldn’t have to work for love.”

“I shouldn’t have to work to be trusted.”

“I deserve to be loved.”

“Chemistry is either right or wrong.”

“My partner should love me unconditionally.”

“My partner should be emotionally available to me whenever I need him or her.”

“Love is a feeling that can’t be forced or manufactured. It either exists or it doesn’t”

“A good marriage is free of conflict.”

“If I’m not happy in my relationship, it’s my partner’s fault.”

“We shouldn’t have to work at feeling sexual desire for each other; it should come naturally or not at all.”

“When passion dies, so does the relationship.”

Think through these ideas about love, by yourself and  others, and ask yourself which  ones you believe in, and how realistic and useful they are for you. You may brush them off as the half-baked assumptions of people less sophisticated or perceptive than you, but don’t be fooled. Some of them are likely to lie behind your discontent.

It’s not easy to gauge exactly how much of your unhappiness is due- to unrealistic expectations (in which case you need to change), and how much to your partner’s inability to satisfy your basic needs (in which case your partner needs to change). This is a complex thing to work out.

From AFTER THE AFFAIR by  Janis Spring, 1997

Do optimists live longer?
By Coco Ballantyne in 60-Second Science Blog Scientific American

A perennial grump? Always see the glass as half empty instead of half full? Might want to brighten up a bit – if, that is, you’d like to live longer. A new study says that the optimists among us may have a lower risk of heart disease and early death.

Researchers led by Hilary Tindle, an internist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, analyzed eight years of data on 97,253 women, age 50 and over, participating in the Women’s Health Initiative, a 15-year study launched in 1991 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Their findings, released this week at a conference of the American Psychosomatic Society in Chicago: the women who were most cheery were 30 percent less likely to die of heart disease and 14 percent less likely than their pessimistic peers to die from all causes during the study period. The results were even more striking among black women; the optimists among them were 38 percent less likely to die of heart disease and 33 percent less likely to die from all causes.

The researchers caution that their findings only show a link, not a cause-and-effect relationship, between optimism and health outcomes. So what is it about Pollyannas that may make them live longer? It could be that optimistic people tend to be healthier in general; they are more likely to be slim and physically active and less likely to smoke, Tindle says.

“Optimistic people seem to seek medical advice and follow it,” she says, citing research showing that optimists are inclined to stick with diet programs prescribed by their docs. “They [also] have good social networks and strong social relationships,” which could help them cope with chronic stress, a risk factor for heart disease.

So are pessimists doomed to die early? Not necessarily, Tindle says. This is just one study, and more research is needed to get to the bottom of that question.

The Association for Psychological Science’s journal *Psychological
Science* has scheduled for publication in a future issue an article:
“Age Stereotypes Held Earlier in Life Predict Cardiovascular Events in
Later Life.”

The authors are Becca R. Levy, Alan B. Zonderman, Martin D. Slade, &
Luigi Ferrucci.

Here’s how the article begins: “When older individuals apply negative
age stereotypes to themselves, they can adversely influence a wide range
of outcomes (Levy, Slade, Kunkel, & Kasl, 2002). These outcomes include
a greater cardiovascular response to stress and worse health behaviors,
such as higher tobacco use (Levy, Hausdorff, Hencke, & Wei, 2000; Levy &
Myers, 2004), both of which have been linked to the risk of
cardiovascular events (Jiang et al., 1996). We consider here for the
first time whether negative stereotypes held earlier in life have
consequences for health in later life. We predicted that younger
individuals who held more negative age stereotypes would have a greater
likelihood of experiencing cardiovascular events up to 38 years later
than individuals with more positive age stereotypes.”

Here’s how the Discussion section starts: “As predicted, among
participants age 49 and under, those who held negative age stereotypes
were significantly more likely to experience a cardiovascular event in
the following 38 years
than those with positive age stereotypes, after
adjusting for a number of relevant variables. A similar effect occurred
in a subgroup of participants under age 40 who experienced
cardiovascular events after turning 60–an interval of more than two decades.”

Here’s how the article ends: “The strength of the association between
negative age stereotypes and risk of cardiovascular events in the final
model is notable. If an individual’s age stereotypes became more
negative by one point, the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event
would increase by 11%. Conversely, if an individual’s age stereotypes
increased in positivity by two standard deviations on the age-stereotype
scale, this would lead to an 80% reduction in the risk of experiencing a
cardiovascular event.
The study suggests that age stereotypes
internalized earlier in life can have a far-reaching effect on health.
In turn, this finding suggests that programs aimed at reducing the
negative age stereotypes of younger individuals could benefit their
cardiovascular health when they become older individuals.”

The author note provides the following info: Becca R. Levy, Yale School
of Public Health, 60 College St., New Haven, CT 06520-8034, e-mail:

Courtesy of Ken Pope

You cannot acquire experience by making experiments. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.
Albert Camus (1913 – 1960)

Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.
Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963), “Texts and Pretexts”, 1932

Experience teaches only the teachable.
Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963)

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
Barry LePatner

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001), “Last Chance to See”

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
Franklin P. Jones

Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes.
James A. Froude (1818 – 1894)

Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.
James Boswell (1740 – 1795), Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900), Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1892, Act III

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
Vernon Sanders Law