6 Ways to Find Awe in Your Everyday Life

Psychologists are busy at work trying to understand more about awe. Awe experiences aren't just pleasurable, they change how we see the world. Luckily, we don't need to be standing on Mt. Everest to feel awe and reap its benefits. We can get a bit of that right here at home, just by walking out our front doors or clicking the right buttons on our computer.

The Good and Bad of Emotion Regulation Strategies

Our emotional experiences weave the tale of our lives. We remember when we felt joy, gratitude, anger, fear, not that time when we felt oh-so-neutral. But sometimes we have to hold back our emotions. People use different strategies when they try to deal with their emotions, and these different strategies impact their feelings, well-being and even their close relationships.

5 Tips for Reigniting the Relationship Spark After Kids

In just a little over a year and a half our relationship before baby is becoming a distant memory. I worry that the stress of parenthood, jobs, and other daily demands could bend our relationship into something unrecognizable. Research shows that for a sizeable portion of couples, having a child is hard on the relationship. But it also shows that it doesn’t have to be.

4 Things You Can't Do When You Fight With Your Partner

The last time you got into a fight, how did you act? Did you criticize or roll your eyes as you sat in stony silence? Did you get defensive? Or maybe you were able to joke around and lighten the mood. Although everyone fights, people differ in how they deal with conflict. And it turns out that how we deal with conflict says a lot about the future of our relationships.

3 Reasons Not to Spend Your Money on Things

The other weekend I went to the mall in search of new running shoes. When I arrived, the parking lot was so full that I had to circle around before I found a spot. The stores were equally crowded inside. Apparently none of these shoppers had read Leaf Van Boven's 2005 review article highlighting the benefits of spending money on experiences over material goods.

How to Remind Yourself to Be Grateful for Your Life

Among the stories of tragedy following a plane crash in 2012, was a story of appreciation–a missed connection prevented one man from boarding that plane and when news of the crash aired he broke down, unable to believe how lucky he was. His wife told reporters she couldn't imagine life without him; but, for a few minutes, she had been forced to imagine the unimaginable.

It's Time to Take the "Positive" Out of Positive Psychology

What is the prescription for optimal living? The burgeoning field of positive psychology appears to have many of the answers: We should be kind to others, forgiving of transgressions, gracious and compassionate in our daily lives, and optimistic about the future. Following this simple plan should keep us happy and healthy. It turns out the answer might not be so simple.

The Benefits of Embracing the Ordinary

What would you rather do, write down the last conversation you had or watch a funny video? This is one question researchers asked in an effort to understand whether we underestimate the pleasure we get from recalling mundane events from our past. We don't want to record the last conversation we had, but in a month, we'd rather read about it than watch a funny video.

A Social Psychology Lesson from 'The Dress'

Last Saturday, my sister asked if I’d heard about the dress that was making its way across the internet like wildfire. Apparently people saw it as one of two different sets of colors, and scientists were weighing in on why people would see the same dress differently. I realized that this dress is not only entertaining, it is a lesson in social psychology.

My 1 Tip For Making Your New Year's Resolutions Stick

Do you make New Year’s resolutions each January only to find them a distant memory come February? This year, instead of focusing on what you want to change, try focusing on HOW you are going to change it. Instead of making a vague resolution (“get in shape”), make a concrete plan that specifies where, when, and in what way you are going to implement your resolution.

Which Will Take You Farther, Brains or Hard Work?

Which do you think is more predictive of success: innate ability or hard work? Do you think anyone can rise up to meet a challenge with enough effort, or are some people just more intelligent and able than others? It seems like there should be a true answer to these questions, but according to Dr. Carol Dweck, the truth is all in your head.

Why Halloween Makes Us Act Antisocial

As the children take to the streets tonight in search of a trick-or-treat, you might be wondering the best way to protect your house from some heavy candy-looting. In 1976, Ed Diener and his colleagues asked a similar question, though they were more interested in the conditions that prompted trick-or-treaters to overindulge and take more than they should.

How Do You React to Someone Else's Good News?

A job offer. A great haircut. A promotion. Good things happen to us, and when we share them with others, those good things can feel even better. But recent research suggests that how much better we feel depends on just how people respond to our good news.

What an IKEA ad and your Teddy Bear have in Common

I watched this IKEA commercial in my intro social psychology class, and eight plus years later, it is still seared in my memory. Take the minute to turn on your volume and watch this commercial, and then after I'll tell you how Spike Jonze used psychology to render me near tears, and what this has to do with naming your cars and holding onto your childhood teddy bear.

Why You Might Not Take Your Partner's Perspective

First comes love, then comes the realization that we are navigating life’s journey with another person who may have different thoughts, feelings, and beliefs than us. Perspective-taking is a fundamental social skill that helps us smoothly steer through the many bumps in the road, unfortunately not everyone is good at perspective-taking.

5 Tips for Avoiding Conflict in Your Relationship

My husband and I got into a fight over a pillowcase. It was one of those times where it was clearly his fault, and I was sure he would apologize. He didn't. Instead he seemed surprised that I wasn't apologizing to him. How could we have such different views of the same conflict? Which one of us was right? It turns out that we were both right, in our own ways.

Is It Love, or Just a Scary Movie?

Can you imagine watching a scary movie and falling in love with the first attractive person you see as you leave the movie theater? Likely not. But in fact, classic social psychology experiments have shown that sometimes people do misattribute feelings of fear and anxiety to sexual attraction.

Are You a Good "Mind-Reader?"

Do you think this guy is: (a) playful (b) comforting (c) irritated (d) bored. Being able to "mind-read" is a unique and important human trait. Being high in emotional intelligence and empathy helps us smoothly navigate our social world and communicate effectively with other people. Not everyone, however, is an emotion-decoding master.

The Price of Parenthood: Part 2

On New Year’s Day I became a parent, sparking my curiosity about the research on parenting and well-being and inspiring a four-part series on parenthood and happiness. In this post I look at the type of research being done on whether or not parents are happier than non-parents. What different approaches have researchers taken to answer this deceptively simple question?

What Is the Price of Parenthood?

On New Year's Day I celebrated not only the start of a new year, but a new phase in my life. I became a parent and my life was irrevocably changed. On the journey to parenthood I knew one thing to be true—that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. What did parenthood have in store for me? Would I experience greater joy or pain than I had previously known?

The Psychology of Nutrition

Imagine you are alone on a desert island for one year and you can have water and one other food. Your options: corn, alfalfa sprouts, hot dogs, spinach, peaches, bananas, milk chocolate. When asked this question, only 7% of people chose a food that could actually offer them the calories and nutrients they needed for survival.

A New Year Goal: Approach Your Relationships the Healthy Way

The last time you went to a party, what thoughts were going through your mind? Were you thinking things like “I hope I have a great time tonight!” or were your thoughts more along the lines of “I hope I don’t make a fool out of myself”? These different types of thoughts represent your social goals and have a lot to say about your relationships.

Tips for Surviving the Holidays

As many of us head home on the busiest travel day of the year, we can look forward to relaxation, family, good food, and good presents. But many of us may also be anxiously anticipating terrible traffic, long travels, time with family, guilt-inducing meals, and awkward gift exchanges. So I've compiled a few scientifically-based tips to make your holidays a little brighter.

Have You Fallen Prey to the "Spotlight Effect?"

Being embarrassed is part of the human condition, but do we really need to hide at home on a bad hair day? Perhaps not. In a series of clever studies, psychologists show that we overestimate how much our actions and appearance are noticed by others, a bias termed the “spotlight effect.”

Couples and Sleep: It’s Not Just About Who Hogs the Bed

Often in college I’d find myself inexplicably picking fights with my boyfriend (now husband) in the wee hours of the night. “You’re tired, go to bed,” my wise boyfriend would tell me. “No I’m not! This is a real issue!” sleepy me would argue back. Now, older and wiser, I’ve put my husband’s advice to the test by conducting research on how lack of sleep affects couples.

Up All Night: The Effects of Sleep Loss on Mood

Last night you were up until the wee hours of the morning and today, when you’re already running low on sleep, it seems as if the whole world is out to get you. Why is everyone so irritating? Why is the traffic so bad? Why is your kid so whiny? Or wait… could it just be you? Research shows that a night of sleep loss affects mood, so how is your poor sleep affecting you?

Your Sleep Cycle Revealed

Today, in an effort to better understand the role of sleep in our lives, I ask the question: what happens when our heads hit the pillow at night? The answer is more complicated than you might think, as we delve into a typical 90 minute sleep cycle, examine changes across a night of sleep and the life span, and consider the ideal sleep pattern.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep is a basic need we can't escape. But that doesn't mean we're planning our days to make sure we get our requisite hours of sleep each night. In our society, we're expected to burn the candle at both ends, and even our best attempts at sleeping well can fail. Find out how well-rested you are and learn about how sleep affects our daily lives and relationships.

The Science of Flourishing - It's in the Numbers

When it comes to human flourishing, science is getting pretty specific. I think most of us would agree that we are likely to be happiest when we maximize the positive and minimize the negative. But researchers suggest that it is not just about having more positive and less negative – it is the ratio of positive to negative that matters.

What Is the Secret to a Happy and Meaningful Life?

Recently I’ve been contemplating giving up on the modern world and moving to a cabin in the woods. Maybe I'd find more meaning and happiness living the simple life. But research says I should think twice before giving it all up, because how I feel inside may be a bigger determinant of my happiness than any external factor such as the view from my window. Here's why...