Bonus Post! I told you I’d do it. Because I am incapable of doing anything relaxing that doesn’t directly stimulate my brain I’m a fan of reading. Especially humorous, yet well informed reading. Which directly explains why I enjoy Cracked.com. Here’s why you should too... 2 more excerpts from articles that are interestingly relevant.
#2 on the List: Warm Weather and Sunlight
(** You may recall I hate the beginning of spring. I don’t get depressed in winter, I get depressed in the spring. This might contribute to why. )
So we joked that everybody waits until fall/winter to get depressed, but it's not a joke -- there is actually a term for it (seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, hilariously). It's basically a cyclical depression that some people experience during the winter months. This is understandable -- the days are short and cold, the nights are long, lonely and freezing, and you hear three straight months of Christmas music.
|"Come here. I just want to talk. About killing you."|
However, there is a small percentage of people who go through the winter whistling merrily, twirling a cane and spinning a top hat (probably), only to have the bright months of summer hit them like the death of Mufasa. The warm weather and piercingly joyous sunlight actually make them horribly suicidal.
Only 1 percent of Americans reportedly suffer from summer SAD (as opposed to the 5 percent who suffer from winter SAD), but the symptoms are pretty extreme -- one sufferer blacks out all her windows like a drug-dealing Batman and sleeps with frozen bottles of water in her bed, simply because the sunlight and the heat make her abysmally depressed. It isn't a body image thing, either -- people who suffer from summer SAD aren't just walking beanbags who hate going to the beach for fear of being mistaken for a Cloverfield hatchling crawling out of the ocean in board shorts. The disorder affects them at a deep neurological level, keeping most victims indoors for months (even bedridden), experiencing extreme weight loss and paralyzing anxiety.
|At least you can watch The Wire in its entirety.|
Research shows that cases become more prevalent closer to the equator. Southern states in the U.S. report more summer SAD victims, and in the hottest parts of India (which you may recognize as an entire country situated almost directly above the equator), the condition is actually common -- more people there suffer from summer SAD than winter SAD, possibly because India is a place where winter does not exist.
Scientists aren't really sure why this happens to some people, but they do have some guesses. For one thing, heat does things to the body, like suppressing the thyroid hormone, which results in a severe energy drain that is a telltale symptom of depression and could explain why summer SAD victims stay in bed all day. High temperatures also stimulate a specific hormone called prolactin, which sounds like that foot fungus repellent John Madden sells but totally isn't. Prolactin can block the effects of dopamine, better known as the feel-good juice your body produces in response to pleasurable stimulation. It is essentially the only reason anybody does anything, and if a person's ability to feel the effects of dopamine were blocked (say, by warm weather), he or she would be one sad bastard.
Interestingly, many antidepressants actually lower a person's body temperature, which seems to further indicate some relationship between heat and debilitating misery.
#1 on the list: Embarrass Yourself in Public
Hey, weren’t we just talking about shame? In an amusing twist of irony, actually making a fool of yourself occasionally, can make people like you more. Check it out. And then give yourself a break. Apparently things aren’t as bad as we fear they’ll be.
We devote a huge amount of our time, money and energy to not looking stupid in public. For many of us, this leads to a level of self-consciousness where we flirt with a nervous breakdown whenever we do something that's labeled "wrong" in public. You know the feeling -- all those judgmental eyes staring down at you, all haughty and acting like they've never attended the opera pantsless, with a tiny bow tie on their dong.
|"It was just easier than doing it on my neck."|
Fortunately, this general aversion to public humiliation offers a neat little shortcut to aspiring ascenders in popularity rankings: Scientists have found that when people see you get openly embarrassed, they tend to think of you as a nicer person.
|"Sharting in interviews is the cornerstone of my career."|
A bunch of Berkeley psychology researchers set up an experiment where participants were filmed while they described a very embarrassing moment in their lives. Then, other participants watched the videos and rated how embarrassing the situation was while assessing how kind they felt the people telling the stories were. The participants who were consistently rated as nicest were the ones who were visibly affected by their embarrassing situations, writhing in front of the camera as memories of the Walrus Incident of '99 tormented their brains. What's more, it worked the other way around, too: The people who did have embarrassing stories, yet chose to maintain a careful poker face while telling them, got labeled as selfish and untrustworthy.
|He was elected mayor three weeks later.|
Several other experiments verified that our brains indeed have a tendency to associate visible embarrassment with kindness and trustworthiness, whereas all the shame-free Mr. Cools out there end up filed in the same "do not trust" folder with used car salesmen and Internet comedy writers. It makes sense, really: Since the kind of person who gets embarrassed easily is also likely to be extra nice to others in order to avoid getting a red face, we have just sort of started viewing embarrassment itself as an indicator of trustworthiness.
So yes, by all means embarrass yourself on your next date. Just make sure you do it before you get to the bedroom.