The Power of Lonely

by Christopher Paul on July 30, 2014

I would bet that most people believe that social skills are one of (if not the) most important skill to have in life. Sure your technical skills — whether they be finance, medical, or IT is important — but without social skills, you just won’t develop the opportunities to use or grow them. But having social skills doesn’t mean being social all the time. There are some who believe that not being social, on occasion, has benefits too:

…an emerging body of research is suggesting that spending time alone, if done right, can be good for us — that certain tasks and thought processes are best carried out without anyone else around, and that even the most socially motivated among us should regularly be taking time to ourselves if we want to have fully developed personalities, and be capable of focus and creative thinking. There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, solitude experts say, so can being alone.

One ongoing Harvard study indicates that people form more lasting and accurate memories if they believe they’re experiencing something alone. Another indicates that a certain amount of solitude can make a person more capable of empathy towards others. And while no one would dispute that too much isolation early in life can be unhealthy, a certain amount of solitude has been shown to help teenagers improve their moods and earn good grades in school.

Being alone has been linked to creativity and the post cites great religious figures like Jesus and Mohammed as using periods of solitude to further their thoughts. Other known scientific and literary greats were known to enjoy being by themselves.

Of course, there are differences between being social, having “me” time, and being anti-social. It’s something that, like everything else in life, must be used in moderation; teenagers benefited from a well balanced social life that included some quite time alone — including a better social experience when they were with others.

via The Daily Exhaust

Why We Bite Our Nails

by Christopher Paul on July 30, 2014

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I used to bite my nails. According to Tom Stafford, who still bites his, Gordon Brown, Jackie Onassis, and Britney Spears are or were nail biters, too. He cites papers that suggest 45% of teens bite their nails and you can imagine that some of them would continue to do so as adults. He did a bit of research on the act of nail biting which doesn’t have underlying psychological causes:

First off, there is the fact that putting your fingers in your mouth is an easy thing to do. It is one of the basic functions for feeding and grooming, and so it is controlled by some pretty fundamental brain circuitry, meaning it can quickly develop into an automatic reaction. Added to this, there is a ‘tidying up’ element to nail biting – keeping them short – which means in the short term at least it can be pleasurable, even if the bigger picture is that you end up tearing your fingers to shreds. This reward element, combined with the ease with which the behaviour can be carried out, means that it is easy for a habit to develop…

I don’t even know what got me to stop biting my nails other than, one day, deciding I didn’t want to do it anymore.


The New Face of Hunger

by Christopher Paul on July 29, 2014

National Geographic did some research into what hunger looks like in America today:

In the United States more than half of hungry households are white, and two-thirds of those with children have at least one working adult—typically in a full-time job. With this new image comes a new lexicon: In 2006 the U.S. government replaced “hunger” with the term “food insecure” to describe any household where, sometime during the previous year, people didn’t have enough food to eat. By whatever name, the number of people going hungry has grown dramatically in the U.S., increasing to 48 million by 2012—a fivefold jump since the late 1960s, including an increase of 57 percent since the late 1990s. Privately run programs like food pantries and soup kitchens have mushroomed too. In 1980 there were a few hundred emergency food programs across the country; today there are 50,000. Finding food has become a central worry for millions of Americans. One in six reports running out of food at least once a year. In many European countries, by contrast, the number is closer to one in 20.

It is not what I thought it was. In fact, I can’t say I even had an idea of what to expect because you don’t even think that with the abundance of food, the U.S. would have people starving because they can’t afford even processed foods. And the physical appearance is also deceiving; many of those who go hungry are over weight because what little food they do eat is not all nutritional.

100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime

by Christopher Paul on July 29, 2014

Amazon’s editors came up with a list of 100 children’s books to read in a lifetime. It’s a fantastic compilation of titles written for kids under 12. You can also vote for your favorites at Goodreads who will publish reader favorites in two weeks.

via BoingBoing

The Origins of Common UI Symbols

by Christopher Paul on July 29, 2014

Power UI

About four years ago, Gizmodo published a quick history on the origins of common computer symbols. Shuffle Magazine took those origins and built a beautiful site to better communicate the story.

via swissmiss