How to be smarter: 10 Tips confirmed by science

Jennifer Delgado

Intelligence is not a monolithic capacity but varies over the years. In fact, when we are young we have a smoother intelligence and with the passing of the years, in adulthood and old age, we develop a crystallized intelligence, which is fundamentally based on the experience that we have accumulated and the education that we have acquired.

This means that intelligence can be developed. Although a genetic component includes that its development is also influenced by the environment, an enriched environment, which continually presents us new challenges, will help to improve our intelligence. Of course, our attitude is very important too: to solve a problem it is not enough to persevere but is essential to remain open to different perspectives.

Science shows how to be smarter

If you’re wondering how to be smarter you have to know that the first step is to expand the concept of intelligence. Intelligence is basically the ability to solve problems, which means that you can enjoy it in different parts of life and is not limited to science, as is commonly thought. An intelligent person is one who can find a good solution in an interpersonal conflict, who can understand why he feels bad emotionally or may express a powerful message through the written word or images.

1. Open yourself to new ideas

Intelligence often goes hand in hand with creativity. Therefore, to develop it is essential to remain open to new ideas, and the more they move away from conventional thinking, the better is. This is confirmed by a study of the London School of Economics, according to which the conservative people showed an average IQ of 95 points, while those who declared themselves as very liberal showed an IQ of 106 points. Of course the political orientation has nothing to do with it, the key is openness to experience. A mind open to new things is a more active mind.

2. Learn another language

Learning is a stimulus for the brain and a kind of fertilizer for intelligence. In fact, a study conducted at the Georgetown University Medical Center revealed that bilingual people have a greater volume of gray matter in the frontal and parietal lobes, the areas of the brain involved in executive control. The gray matter consists of cells whose function is to process the information and facilitate the reasoning, for that reason has been related with intelligence and the ability to solve problems.

3. Read More

There are many types of readings, but not all are effective to stimulate intelligence. In fact, the “light” content does not bring anything. On the contrary, readings that promote reflection or a good novel that allows us identify ourselves with the characters bring many benefits. A study conducted at Emory University revealed that a good novel acts as a kind of “massage” for the neurons and the effect continues even when closing the book. In fact, the deep reading activates different brain areas, not only those relating to the words processing, but also the default neural network, which is exactly the one that has been correlated to the ingenious intuition and solutions.

4. Meditate

Meditation is very beneficial for the brain. This practice not only promotes relaxation, but also improves attention, memory and boosts intelligence. A study conducted at the University of California found that people who practiced meditation one hour a week for 3 months showed significant improvement on cognitive tests, much more than those who had undergone a brain training program. Neuroscientists also discovered that people who meditated showed a better level of communication between the different areas of the brain, particularly those related to memory, attention and communication.

5. Change your habits

Habits save time, but they play against us if the goal is to improve intelligence. Habits make that the brain functions in an automatic way and strengthen the existing neural connections. But to solve the problems is required a bit of mental flexibility, and this is achieved by creating new connections. In fact, a research done at the University of Sydney found that there is a relationship between neural plasticity and intelligence. To improve neuronal plasticity is necessary to look for new stimuli. For example, you can change your route to go to work, brush your teeth with the opposite hand or just try new flavors. The idea is to challenge ourselves to find new ways of doing things. Then we expand our minds.

6. Develop an apprentice mentality

If you want to be smarter it is essential not to close up any idea, however absurd it may seem. In fact, the most ingenious solutions have emerged precisely combining seemingly unrelated ideas. Therefore, it is essential not to entrench itself in the role of the expert. In this regard, a study conducted at Cornell University found that when people consider themselves expert in a given field, are more likely to have a close mind in that area. This is because they think they can not learn anything new about it. But in doing so they just close to the new discoveries and the latest prospects, which are those that represent a challenge for intelligence.

7. Sleep enough

Sleep is essential for your brain. In fact, recent neuroscience have found that during sleep the brain gets rid of metabolic waste products. Therefore, the lack of sleep affects memory, attention and thought. In fact, it was found that when a person passes a sleepless night is as if his brain “pompasse” desperate energy to the prefrontal cortex, to be able to think. Moreover, a study conducted at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine-4 in Germany found that the brains of people who sleep little changes, and these changes produce a cognitive instability. What’s more, adequate sleep subtracts emotional impact to the problems, so that the day the mind will be fresher and will be easier to find a solution.

8. Talk alone loud

If you have to solve a problem a good strategy is to talk alone with yourself. Psychologists at the University of Illinois have asked a group of people to try to motivate themselves and solve some anagrams, some had to do it in their minds and others talking out loudly. The people who talked alone aloud not only solved more anagrams, but were also more satisfied with their performance. This is due to the fact that when the task is difficult it is easier to find a solution if the thought is translated into words. This is why children often speak loudly when they are doing their homework or try to solve a problem.

9. Go out for running

How to be smarter? Going out to run! Neuroscientists at Harvard University made some people run for about 30 minutes while others realized stretching exercises. They found that running increases blood flow to the frontal lobes, which are involved not only in problem solving and decision-making, but also help us to better control the emotions. This is why running clears the mind.

10. Rest

Both mental stress and physical fatigue affect the ability to solve problems and find good solutions. In fact, research carried out by the University of Texas revealed that when a person is exausted the prefrontal cortex operates at half its normal capacity because the blood flow to these areas of the brain is significantly decreased. This means that we will have confused ideas and will be more difficult to pay attention to things and make good decisions. Therefore, a good strategy to develop intelligence is getting enough rest, before running out of energy.

10 Days Without Exercise Can Reduce Blood Flow in Brain

-Traci Pedersen

We know that when highly active people stop exercising for one or two weeks, their cardiovascular endurance begins to diminish. But what effect, if any, does an exercise break have on the brain?

This was the focus of a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Using MRI brain imaging, the research team studied cerebral blood flow in very healthy and athletic older adults (ages 50-80 years) before and after a 10-day period during which they stopped all exercise.

They found a significant decrease in blood flow to several brain areas, including the hippocampus, after the participants quit their exercise routines.

“We know that the hippocampus plays an important role in learning and memory and is one of the first brain regions to shrink in people with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor of kinesiology and lead author of the study.

“In rodents, the hippocampus responds to exercise training by increasing the growth of new blood vessels and new neurons, and in older people, exercise can help protect the hippocampus from shrinking. So, it is significant that people who stopped exercising for only 10 days showed a decrease in brain blood flow in brain regions that are important for maintaining brain health.”

The study participants were all “master athletes,” defined as people between the ages of 50 and 80 who had been participating in endurance exercise for at least 15 years and who had recently competed in an endurance event.

To qualify for the study, the participants’ exercise regimens had to involve at least four hours of high intensity endurance training each week. On average, they were running 36 miles each week or the equivalent of a 10K run a day. Not surprisingly, this group had a V02 max above 90 percent for their age. Vo2 max is a measure of the maximal rate of oxygen consumption of an individual and reflects their aerobic physical fitness.

The researchers measured the velocity of blood flow in the brain with an MRI scan while the participants were still following their regular training routine (at peak fitness) and again after 10 days of no exercise.

They discovered that resting cerebral blood flow significantly dropped in eight brain regions, including the areas of the left and right hippocampus and several regions known to be part of the brain’s “default mode network” — a neural network known to deteriorate quickly with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings add to the growing scientific evidence of the impact of physical activity on cognitive health.

“We know that if you are less physically active, you are more likely to have cognitive problems and dementia as you age,” said Smith. “However, we did not find any evidence that cognitive abilities worsened after stopping exercising for just 10 days.

“But the take-home message is simple: If you do stop exercising for 10 days, just as you will quickly lose your cardiovascular fitness, you will also experience a decrease in blood brain flow.”

Smith believes this new information could have important implications for brain health in older adults, and points to the need for more research to find out how fast these changes occur, what the long-term effects could be, and how quickly they could be reversed when exercise is resumed.

The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Childhood Insecurity Can Impair Adult Emotional Regulation

-Rick Nauert, PhD

New research suggests early childhood experiences can influence the way individuals manage stressful situations in adulthood.

For example, imagine two candidates at a high stakes job interview. One of them handles the pressure with ease and sails through the interview. The other candidate, however, feels very nervous and under-performs.

Experts explain that the emotional bonds we develop with a parent or primary caregiver in early childhood are thought to be the basis of our ability to regulate our emotions as adults.

“We know from other studies that our history of attachment directly influences how we act in social situations;” explained Dr. Christine Heinisch, one of the authors of the study; “but what about reaction to a neutral stimulus under emotional conditions?”

A good example of this in daily life, says Dr. Heinisch, is when a car approaches a traffic light. Under neutral conditions, it is easy for the driver to follow the signal. But what happens under emotional conditions?

“Usually, people tend to make more errors, like stopping too late or even driving through when the traffic light is red. Sometimes they stop although the light is still green,” she explains.

However, not everyone’s actions are impacted by emotions to the same extent. Some of us had emotionally responsive caregivers or parents in childhood, while others didn’t.

Psychologist explain that the “attachment theory” suggests these early experiences influence the ability to regulate emotions as adults.

We expected those having problems with emotional regulation to make more errors in performing a task — and one significant variable influencing this is our attachment experience,” said Dr. Heinisch.

To test this theory, their group conducted a study on adult subjects with different childhood caregiver experiences. Subjects in the study performed a task of identifying a target letter from among a series of flashing letters.

This task was administered under conditions that evoked a positive, neutral, or negative emotional state. The researchers then assessed task performance and analyzed EEG recordings of brain function in their subjects.

The results were revealing.

Subjects who did not have emotionally responsive caregivers in childhood (insecure-attached) had more trouble performing under emotionally negative conditions than the others (secure-attached).

They also had lower brain activity in response to the target letter under negative conditions than secure-attached subjects.

The lower task performance correlated with inefficient strategies for emotional regulation seen in insecure-attached adults. This could mean that a greater share of cognitive resources was allocated for regulating emotions, and consequently, less was available for performing the task.

Researchers admit that the study has limitations. One potential drawback is that the target letters were unrelated to the emotional context cues provided, and therefore had little real-life relevance.

In future studies, the authors plan to use a person or an object with emotional significance as target, and socially relevant situations as the context of the task.

One thing seems clear though — childhood emotional experiences have long lasting consequences for your ability to perform a given task.

The study appears in the open access online journal, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Emotionally Available Parents May Be A Game-Changer for Kids’ Future Success

-Traci Pedersen

Children with emotionally available parents tend to have a much stronger chance of future success even when they face other obstacles such as poor socioeconomic status, according to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

The findings show that children who experience a healthy attachment and high-quality emotional bond with their mothers have greater cognitive development as preschoolers.

Research has shown that our children’s chances of future success are driven by a variety of factors, including those that are somewhat beyond our immediate control, such as genes and financial status. The new study, however, found that a caring and emotionally attentive parent is likely to be a solid, long-term game-changer.

For the study, the researchers examined 27 children between the ages of four and six. They looked at the quality of the children’s emotional bond to their parents, whether or not they were shy or withdrawn and also examined their cognitive control skills, such as their ability to resist temptation and remember things.

The research incorporated a variety of questionnaires, behavioral tasks, and electrophysiological measurements. The findings, according to lead author Dr. Henriette Schneider-Hassloff, “support developmental theories which propose that a high emotional quality in the mother-child interaction (attachment security) fosters the cognitive development of the child.”

Schneider-Hassloff, of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at University Hospital Ulm in Germany, looked at the quality of the emotional bond — referred to as emotional availability (EA) — between mothers and children and measured the children’s executive functions through a number of exercises.

Using EEG (electrotroencephalography), the researchers measured the neural responses of children as they were asked to complete tasks that inhibited certain aspects of their behavior. EEG is able to measure small variations in voltage in certain key parts of the brain.

Schneider-Hassloff noted, “this study investigated the association between emotional interaction quality and the electrophysiological correlates of executive functions in preschool children for the first time,” thereby shedding new light on the long-term importance of emotional nurturing.

Parents who encourage independence in their kids while remaining emotionally available thus give their young children a greater chance at future success. Even in hardships, such as financial insecurity and living in poor neighborhoods, parents can create a healthy emotional space that will have long-lasting and powerful consequences for the child’s future life-skills, the study asserts.

The researchers encourage further work into emotion-driven parenting, particularly for children at risk.

Why Some People Can’t Change

-Jonice Webb, PhD

There’s no such thing as standing still in life. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.

It’s baffling how some people seem to identify a problem in their lives, decide they want to change themselves, and start changing; whereas others don’t seem to be able to take steps forward like that.

Some folks seem to stay stuck no matter how hard they try. They might read self-help books, talk to people, go to therapy, or even see multiple therapists. But nevertheless, their issues don’t seem to improve.

If this is someone you care about, you might watch helplessly from the sidelines as they continue to be their own worst enemy. They may seem to be repeating patterns that are self-destructive, unable to hear or take others’ advice, or distant and unreachable. It is painful to watch.

It’s even more painful when it’s you, and you are watching yourself live this way.

In my 20 years of experience as a psychologist, I’ve identified 6 personal traits that can stymie and stick even the most deserving and lovable people. The last one, #6, is the least recognized and, I think, the most powerful block of all.

6 Obstacles to Growth

1. You Can’t See the Path:

When you’ve spent years living a certain way, the way you’ve been living becomes your reality and your world view. Other people seem to be living in a different world, and you can’t understand how they got there. It’s hard to attain something that you can’t even imagine.

2. You are Walled Off:

Growing up feeling unloved, unaccepted or unsafe can force a child to erect walls around herself for protection. Those walls are helpful in childhood, but in adulthood, they block out the people who can help you the most. It can be difficult to trust the people who could be supporting you. You find yourself “safe” but alone, trapped within walls that are holding you back.

3. Comfortably Uncomfortable:

Self-destructive or damaging life patterns can be so entrenched that they’ve become a part of who you are. No matter what’s wrong in your life, you can get accustomed to it. Our brains store life patterns, and we have a natural tendency to settle into them. We are who we are, and on some level, we get comfortable with it, even if it makes us miserable. The idea of changing can feel very discomfiting and scary. It feels easier and safer to choose “the devil you know.”

4. Depression: Depression interferes with growth in three important ways. It saps your energy and motivation, which makes it harder to take on a challenge; it makes you isolate yourself so that you have less support to change; and it makes you feel hopeless, so there seems no point in trying to change.

5. Anger at Yourself: Self-directed anger has a way of breaking you down. Like drops of water on a stone, there is gradual erosion of your self-worth. How can you change when you don’t feel you’re worth the effort it requires?

And now for the big one.

6. Past Mistakes & Misdeeds: In order to truly change, you have to acknowledge and face your own painful history. Who have you hurt? What damage have you done to yourself or others? The guilt and pain that can result from looking at the past is a powerful force that can hold back even the most courageous. I have seen that this factor alone is a tremendous block in the recovery of anyone who has a personality disorder, or any other long-standing destructive life pattern. If you catch even a glimpse of how your past choices or mistakes have affected others, it may be so painful and guilt-inducing that you immediately look away. And there you are, right back where you started from.

5 Requirements for Personal Change

  • Motivation
  • Enough discomfort with how things are
  • Persistence
  • Willingness to face pain
  • Support

What to Do

  1. Read the list of obstacles, and think about which one (or ones) applies to you.
  2. Is “walled off” on your list? This one must be overcome first. Your walls are keeping you away from the support that you need. So start trying to let at least one helpful person in.
  3. Think through all the ins and outs of how your destructive pattern is harming your life. If you get pangs of pain or guilt, remind yourself that you are human, and that all humans are fallible. Treat yourself with kindness and take your time, but do everything you can to face the pain.
  4. Know that there is a path to a better place. The more you accept support and face your pain, the more clearly you will see your path.
  5. Put one foot in front of the other. Inch forward.

One step at a time.

Who affirms himself escapes criticism

-Jennifer Delgado

For many people criticize is like breathing, they can not imagine a life without criticism. But be criticized, becoming the target, is different because it causes a lot of suffering.

Inadequate criticism, made at an inappropriate time, can leave deep emotional wounds. In fact, if we look in our memory, it won’t be probably hard to remember the criticism that has hurt us so deeply in the past and that still has not healed.

Unfortunately, we can not stop others from criticize us, but we can choose how to respond to their criticism. We have the power to avoid criticism, but we can decide whether to let these words make us sick. And the key to doing so lies in an ancient text.

The self-affirmation: An empowering path

“Anyone who self-affirm himself escapes criticism”, says the Tao Te Ching, a Chinese classic text whose authorship is attributed to Lao Tze and is one of the foundations of Taoism. It is a very old but still valid advice.

The self-affirmation is almost a super power, but unfortunately is not taught to children. In fact, it is often stifled immediately, because when children are taught to seek the approval of others, when are taught to evaluate themselves according to judgments that others give of their qualities, it is like killing the self-affirmation.

The self-affirmation is the ability to express our opinions and assert ourselves in relation to others. At its base there is a profound self-confidence. Only when we are sure of who and what we are and we value objectively our capabilities, we are able to express our needs and ideas assertively, without harming others, and avoid at the same time that our rights are trampled or that we’re despise.

For self-affirm yourself it is necessary that you have clear answers for these three questions:

1. Who are you? It may seem trivial, but many people do not know themselves, they do not know who they really are. However, to assert yourself you need to know yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, know what are your values, tastes and needs. Only a self-conscious person is able to assert himself.

2. Who you want to be? It is not enough to know yourself, you need to know what kind of person you want to become. What would you like to improve, what skills you are proud of and what is the path that could help you develop these skills? The answer to these questions will allow you to take control of your life.

3. What do you want? The objectives we set ourselves end up changing us, so it is important to know what we want to achieve and how. Setting realistic goals will help us to strengthen the confidence in ourselves, we will become more responsible and we will be immune to unhealthy criticism.

Why self-affirmation is the best antidote against criticism?

When you know exactly what your weak points and strong ones are, when you are sure of what you want and how to achieve it, the criticism of others won’t even touch you because they do not manage to make you feel inferior, incompetent or doubtful.

In fact, we must not forget that criticism hurts so much because it makes us doubt in ourselves, it activates the feeling that we are not up to it, that we are inadequate or incompetent. Criticism that makes us suffer is just like the nail on the head, the criticism that we hear to is that, in a sense, which confirms our worst fears about ourselves.

We can think of the criticism as a tuning fork. Can harm us only that which resonate at the same frequency of our inner “self”, the one that plays on our fears and insecurities. Therefore, the self-affirmation is the best antidote to unhealthy criticism, the confidence in ourselves allows us to take an emotional distance from harmful words. So we can evaluate objectively whether the criticism is constructive and brings us something that allows us to grow or, on the contrary, are only words that are intended to hurt us. In both cases, the decision is in our hands.

Why we constantly think: “What if …?”

-Jennifer Delgado

What would have happened if I woke up before and didn’t miss the bus? What would have happened if I’d had the courage to talk to that very interesting person that I met? What would have happened if I had not broken up with my partner? And if I’d said to my boss what I really think?

These are some of the questions we constantly ask ourselves. What if, instead of taking this direction, we had made another choice? The possibilities are endless. In fact, we are perfectly aware that it is a kind of mental game, fantasy, yet we can not help but wonder “what if …?”

The situations that trigger these thoughts

1. “Almost” situation. It is a feeling you probably know well: everything seemed to be going well until a certain point, when something went wrong. Then you can not help but wonder what would have happened if you had done something different at some point of the journey.

For example, if you miss a flight because you arrived very late it is obvious that you can not help it. In this case you’ll be worry only about solving the problem. However, if you arrive just a minute late and the boarding gates close in front of you, you can not help but wonder what would have happened if you had woken up only five minutes before, if you had not met the traffic jam on the road or if you had not stopped to take that coffee.

This is a very painful feeling, since you were on the verge of achieving what you wanted, but you missed the opportunity for a bit. Therefore, you can not help but wonder where you went wrong and what you could do for this not to happen.

2. Abnormal situation. It is a fairly unlikely or rare feeling, something that usually does not happen. In this case, we can not help but wonder what would have happened if things had gone normally.

For example, imagine that one day you’re forced to take a different path to get to work and just in front of you is an accident that leaves you stuck for an hour, so you lose a meeting at work very important for your career. The chances that the road that you normally use to get to work was closed and that on the one you just taken there was an accident are few, but it went this way.

When you live unusual situations it will be difficult for you to stop thinking what would have happened if things had gone normally, if you had not met all the mishaps of the case. Who knows, probably you think also that it was a “sign of destiny”.

Why we tend to imagine routes that we don’t follow?

We constantly wonder what would have happened if we had taken a different direction to give meaning to our lives, to what is happening. Interestingly, imagining other possible scenarios helps us better understand our reality.

In this regard, a study conducted at Ohio University found that we tend to use this way of thinking according to the situation we’re living. We can imagine that things could have gone better or worse depending on the context.

These psychologists have found that when people know that they will not have a second chance to do things, they try to encourage themselves thinking that everything could have been worse, it is a form of consolation to help us accept what happened. But if we have a second chance we tend to think that things could have been much better, so we motivate ourselves to try once again and improve our performance.

The dark side of imagining fictitious scenarios

However, we must pay attention to this mechanism, because we can not always use it to cheer us up. In fact, if we ask us continuously “what if …?” we risk to begin living in a fantasy world and we’ll feel deeply dissatisfied with our lives. Returning to reality, we may feel frustrated and feel guilt, and this won’t help.

The tendency to keep thinking about what might have happened may reflect a deep dissatisfaction with the reality or past decisions that have not yet fully accepted. In fact, we will be more likely to think like this if in the past we have made decisions influenced by others or by circumstances, decisions that were not born within us and of which we feel uncertain.

Thinking of all possible scenarios may seem a harmless mental exercise, but at some point of our journey, we must learn to let go some things, otherwise those thoughts will turn into resentment, guilt and regret. And this won’t be of any help.

Why men are afraid of smart women?

-Jennifer Delgado

If you ask any heterosexual man if he’s attracted by an intelligent woman, there are great possibilities that will say yes. If we ask him if he could maintain a relationship with someone smarter than him, probably he will always respond affirmatively.

In fact, researchers at the University of Buffalo have confirmed that men prefer the most intelligent women. These psychologists created two female profiles to see which one had the most success. They said then to 105 volunteers that a hypothetical classmate had passed a math or language test with flying colors and that another had obtained lower marks. When they were asked who they preferred as a partner, men did not hesitate: the most intelligent woman. Unless…

Intelligent, yes, but not more than me

These psychologists have taken a step further: they asked the volunteers to undergo a math test and manipulated the results in such a way that men could get better or worse than the qualification of the woman sitting next to them.

Investigators found out that when man’s score was higher than that of women, they were more likely to come close to her and express a romantic interest. However, when they obtained a lower score, they felt less attracted and were less interested in asking an appointment or get her phone number. In addition, they walked away unconsciously by the examination female companion.

This is not the first experiment that challenges the attraction that men say they feel for feminine intelligence. A previous study conducted at Columbia University was based on a series of speed dating. In these fast meetings singles showed that appreciated the intelligence of women they encountered, but only up to a certain point. If the woman was more intelligent or ambitious of them, the interest for her diminished considerably.

Female intelligence hurts the male ego

Why do some people seem to have problems in dealing with the most intelligent women? The answer comes from a series of experiments conducted at the University of Florida. These psychologists have involved 896 men and women. Men were asked to recall a moment when their partner had been more successful from an intellectual point of view, or academic one. Then they rated their self-esteem and saw that had fallen significantly.

In another experiment, the psychologists subjected couples to intelligence tests. Later they told the men that their partner was placed in 12% of the top scores. It was curious to note that, even without saying what the score had been, these men experienced a decrease of their self-esteem. But women were not affected by the results of their partners. Why?

These psychologists believe that it is not a reasonable and informed response, but rather a visceral reaction. Inadvertently, men do not focus on enjoying the success of their partners, but analyze it from another point of view, thinking that they are the ones who failed.

Probably this thought comes from the fact that many men still feel the need to defend their status quo, to show that they are competent. A necessity arising from the cultural role that has traditionally been assigned to their genre, in which man is conceived as breadwinner and the woman’s protector. Therefore, a more intelligent woman could represent a threat to his ego.

The problem is that this way of dealing with women’s success can cause problems in the relationship. In fact, in this study it was seen how men were taking an emotional distance from their partners and were less optimistic about the future of their relationship when they thought their partner was smarter. Similarly, psychologists have seen that to restore the self-esteem of the male was enough asking them of the failures of their partners, which, curiously, also gave men greater confidence in themselves to maintain the relationship over the years.

Nothing is lost: The key is to focus on the emotional relationship

Despite these studies, the point is that men can feel good about themselves even if their partners exceeds them from the cognitive point of view. The key is to be able to focus on the emotional aspect of the relationship. This was confirmed by a research conducted at the University of Toronto in which psychologists have simply changed the way of presenting the results.

This time, they told men that their partners obtained the best scores in the IQ tests but, before assessing the impact of this finding, they asked them to talk about their relationship and the love they felt for the partner. That way it was seen that when are activated the feelings that bind both partners, the female intelligence ceases to cause fear because the man thinks of his relationship as a “team play”.

Of course, this does not mean that all men are intimidated by female intelligence. When a person is sufficiently self-confident and believes he does not need to prove anything to others, he won’t feel intimidated by the quality of the other, regardless of the gender, on the contrary, he will take advantage of the situation.

Were You a Needy Child? There is No Such Thing

-Jonice Webb, PhD

My mother has complained about my behavior as a child for YEARS. When I was little, she says I “always wanted to be held,” and was “so dramatic” as a teen, acting out to get attention. I was nearly held back in Kindergarten for lack of social skills; I hadn’t been around children my age regularly until then. In occasional situations with peers, she reports that I clung to the wall.

She was faithful to pass along my father’s criticisms, because he rarely spoke. He had no friends and didn’t participate in social activities. He was hospitalized this January, and my mother didn’t even tell me! He passed away 3 weeks after I found out he was sick. I have no tears; I barely knew him. He hasn’t been gone 6 months and the house I grew up in is already on the market.

Perhaps they assumed that if their kids were fed, clothed, sheltered, and in school, their work was done. My mother said once that it never occurred to her that she should be teaching her children to take care of themselves. We were her job.

I’ve struggled for over 50 years to find my strengths, and am scared and frustrated to be without a career (or job) at an age when most people are preparing for retirement.


Dear Anon,

Reading your mother’s description of you as a child breaks my heart. She thought you were excessively needy. I can, without even knowing you, say with 100% certainty, that you were not needy or poorly behaved.

You were emotionally starving.

In reality, there is no such thing as a needy child. All children are emotionally needy by definition. It is the parents’ responsibility to try their best to understand what their child needs and to try their best to provide it. Whether it be structure, limits, freedom of expression, emotional validation or social skills, it’s all part of the job.

Growing up emotionally ignored results in growing up with a tendency to ignore yourself. When you ignore yourself, you don’t have a chance to truly know yourself. What career should you be in? What kind of job would you excel at and enjoy? Not knowing yourself makes you feel lost, alone and at sea. The answers are there inside of you, but you were not taught how to find them.

Many parents (yours included) don’t realize that their job is not simply to provide for their children and raise them; they’re also supposed to respond to their children’s emotions. Wanting to be held is a healthy and normal requirement that all children have. “Drama” is nothing other than a judgmental word for emotions. Teenagers act out when they’re either over-controlled or under-attended to by their parents.

How can you know yourself when your parents never knew you? How can you feel that you’re lovable when you didn’t feel love from those who brought you into this world and are supposed to love you first and best?

Fortunately, dear Anon, you can still get where you want to be! Accept that you are worth knowing, and start giving yourself the attention you didn’t get as a child. Notice what you like, love, hate, enjoy, prefer, and need. Start noticing what you feel, and start using those feelings to guide and connect you.

If you haven’t yet read Running on Empty, please do so as soon as you can. If you don’t have a therapist, please consider finding one. The social and emotional skills you missed can be learned. You are a classic example of Childhood Emotional Neglect. And you can heal.


People Get So Immersed in Their Children’s Happiness That They Lose Sight of Their Own

Gretchen Rubin

Happiness interview: Caren Osten Gerszberg.

I got to know Caren a few years ago through a mutual friend. She’s a writer who covers travel, education, and is also a co-founder of the site Drinking Diaries (“from celebration to revelation”), along with Leah Odze Epstein. They just co-edited a thought-provoking anthology, Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up.

Caren writes often about issues that touch on the subject of happiness, so I was interested to hear what she had to say.

Gretchen: What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?

Caren: Reading by the fireplace. Playing Scrabble with my kids. Waking up before dawn to catch an airplane. Watching a movie in bed. Spending Friday night dinner with my family. Hiking with my two dogs and watching them lope through the woods. Rock climbing to a point where I can look at a vista and let it seep in. Taking evening walks with my husband to the Long Island Sound, where we look at the water in the moonlight. Settling in to shavsna, or “corpse pose,” after a good yoga class. Typing the last word of an article I’m writing.

What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

When I was 18, happiness amounted to a sensation. It was deep, but fleeting, and involved a thrill with friends or a fun happening with my very fun parents. Now, when I’m happy, I feel it down to my core, mostly when I’m with my husband and children. It’s been 30 years since I was 18—I’ve lost my father and one of my childhood friends to cancer, and my mother suffers from mental illness. There is nothing I take for granted. Happiness is a blessing and I appreciate it profoundly whenever I feel it.

Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?

Yes. I grew up surrounded by anger and stress, which took up a life of their own in my life, and thus in my head. As cliché as it sounds, sweating the small stuff used to interfere with my path to happiness on a frequent basis. In recent years, I’ve learned how to meditate, breathe deeply, and be more accepting of myself and others, which has afforded me greater access to happiness. I’m no expert, but feeling the positive impact inspires me to continue the journey.

If you’re feeling blue, how do you give yourself a happiness boost?

It took me many years to accept that it’s okay to feel blue. As a kid, I felt responsible for my mother’s happiness, which weighed heavily on my own. But I’ve learned over the years that it’s okay to have bad days, because that’s how you learn to appreciate the good ones. So when I’m feeling blue, I seek comfort from within, reminding myself that it’s okay to feel blue and that hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. And usually, it is.

Is there anything that you see people around you doing or saying that adds a lot to their happiness, or detracts a lot from their happiness?

In our society, and particularly in the community in which we live, I often see people getting so immersed and involved in their children’s happiness, that they seem to lose sight of their own. When I became a mother, nearly 19 years ago, I was deeply fearful of losing my identity as an individual. It was not easy to obtain a balance, but I knew that I needed to feel productive and invested in my own self-worth in order to be the kind of mother I wanted to be. Fortunately, but not without bumps in the road, there is balance in my life. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a writer, and a friend, and feel comfortable and happy in all of my roles.

Is there some aspect of your home that makes you particularly happy?

As much as people think I’m a social person, I also love being at home. I love reading and soaking in the bathtub by candlelight, spending time by the fireplace in our living room, and feel very happy when I’m cooking in our kitchen. There was a time when I felt irritated by the hubbub surrounding the kitchen space every afternoon, with my kids shouting at one another and fighting over this and that. But ever since my father got sick and passed away, I realize the value of that noise. Those sounds—now music to my ears—mean that my family is alive and interacting, and minus the fighting, I wouldn’t want it any other way.