The Good Old Days Were Awful

The Good Old Days Were Awful

Our brains focus on social pain because there's less physical pain than before. The social snubs in your life feel more brutal than the plague and pestilence of the past.
Preventing Corruption with Your Neurons

Preventing Corruption with Your Neurons

Human beings evolved to follow a leader. New leaders highlight the flaws of old leaders to compete for followers, but they still focus on their own interests. One corrupt guru competes with another. To get a better deal, we must process information for ourselves.
Duchess of York’s Redemption Story Is Good Theatre

Duchess of York’s Redemption Story Is Good Theatre

Princess Sarah resents the focus on her recent bribe-taking indiscretion, but she is trying to sell herself as an author of heartfelt ethics books. Can she really expect to sell people on the charity-lady facade while brushing an ethical whopper under the rug? Can Dr. Phil and Suze Orman fix this much emotional dishonesty? Tune in next week to "Finding Sarah."
Don’t Blame the Politicians

Don’t Blame the Politicians

When we feel disappointment, politicians are convenient targets for blame. Of course I want everyone to reach their dreams, but the government can't be in the "make-a-wish" business.
Fatherhood Makes Us Human

Fatherhood Makes Us Human

A father puts the needs of weaker individuals before his own. This is a huge evolutionary step and the foundation of human civilization. It's easy to notice what your father didn't do, but the evolution of paternal investment helps you notice what he did.
Is your costume glorifying crime?

Is your costume glorifying crime?

People want to live in a law-abiding society but they like to be above the law themselves. It's natural for your mammalian brain to feel that way, but your human brain knows better
The Urge for Stuff Is Primal

The Urge for Stuff Is Primal

Why did my mother care about impressing a woman whose jewels came from crime? We mammals inherited a brain that cares about how we stack up against others.

Shallow Breathing

The habit of holding the breath often goes unnoticed- even by doctors. The autonomic nervous system sometimes learns to use the breathing muscles in an unsynchronized way, and it's hard to unlearn.
Conquering the fear of standing up to bullies

Conquering the fear of standing up to bullies

People appease bullies instead of opposing them because our inner mammal knows the danger of losing the safety of the herd. You can resist a bully if you accept your mammalian urge for social support instead of trying to reject it.
Vincere: to Win and to Shine are the same word in Latin

Vincere: to Win and to Shine are the same word in Latin

If you won the Olympics, the thrill would soon pass and your brain would be on the lookout for the next triumph. Our brain is always hungry for the neurochemical reward. Fill up on nutritious winning and you will avoid the temptation of junk winning.
My Mafia Roots

My Mafia Roots

I started reading about Sicily for insight into my cultural heritage, and that's how I realized, in the safety of a suburban library, that the Mafia is my cultural heritage. What I mean is, my family was so traumatized by a legacy of violence that they treated all social interaction as potentially lethal.
Feeling Good Is a Learned Skill

Feeling Good Is a Learned Skill

What if you fed your brain with appreciation for yourself? It may sound like cheating, but it builds positive neural pathways that last longer than flowers.

Self-interest Drives Animals to Dominate or Submit

When a mammal sees a piece of food, a group-mate sees it too. Group-living animals evolved to size up others as they act to meet their needs.
HypnoArt/Pixabay

One-upping Is a Mammalian Survival Strategy

We feel good when we're one-up because we've inherited a brain that evolved to do just that. Instead of feeling guilty about it, we can take pride in moderating this instinct.

The myth of animal altruism

Reciprocal altruism is the organizing principle of a mammalian herd or pack or troop. That means helping others when you get something out of it, otherwise put yourself first.

Slimy rivals? Slime back with clean hands

If you lag behind a competitor who's cheating, you can use the system to your advantage - but only if you keep your own hands clean.

The Brain Needs Downs to Have Ups

The brain chemicals that make us happy are not meant to be on all the time.

Benazir Bhutto - A Mammalian Tragedy

Benazir Bhutto watched her father being executed for corruption. She vowed to avenge him by seizing power in Pakistan, and when she did she indulged in corruption on an even grander scale. Then political assassins killed her. How can the cycle be stopped?
Alphas Hog Mating Opportunity: Its Still the Same Old Story

Alphas Hog Mating Opportunity: Its Still the Same Old Story

Animal magnetism exists for a reason. We have inherited a brain that cares desperately about everything relevant to reproductive success. We are drawn to trains that are eerily relevant to mating in the wild.
I Regret Giving My Kids Too Much Power

I Regret Giving My Kids Too Much Power

Like many baby-boomer parents, I imagined raising my kids without being an authority figure. What was I thinking! If a kid grows up with the expectation that those in authority will submit to their whims, they don't build reality skills.
Why Standing in Line Isn't So Bad

Why Standing in Line Isn't So Bad

No stands at the DMV thinking, “It's a good thing I'm forced to wait here for equal treatment.” We would rather be special than wait on line and submit to rules. But we can't, so let's learn to celebrate that.

When You Face An Open Palm

Bribery is considered routine in many countries. Before you pull out your wallet, consider the value of politely ignoring the extortion. You may waste time, but your contribution toward building a system with integrity is well worth the investment.

When Everyone Jumps Off the Brooklyn Bridge

People tend to cheat when they see others doing it. Your mammal brain feels safe when it’s with a herd. If the herd starts endangering itself, your human cortex can inhibit your mammalian urge to merge. In fact, that’s why you have all those extra neurons.

Pages