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How to raise a non-materialistic kid
Money makes the world go 'round. Unfortunately, it can make both children and adults into materialists.
- Keeping a gratitude journal caused children to donate 60 percent more to charitable causes.
- Other methods suggested by researchers include daily gratitude reflection, gratitude posters, and keeping a "gratitude jar."
- Materialism has been shown to increase anxiety and depression and promote selfish attitudes and behavior.
The new Netflix drama The Kindergarten Teacher offers viewers a complex and uncomfortable narrative. Lisa Spinelli is worried that her teenage children are caught in the clutches of materialism and inattention. Her daughter barely looks up from her phone, having already given up a passion for print photography; her son, instead of pursuing an intellectual path, has chosen to enter the Marines, where, according to his mother, he'll only be fighting for oil. It's not surprising she becomes obsessed—disturbingly so—with her student, a five-and-a-half year old poet named Jimmy Roy. When Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) confront Jimmy's father, Nikhil, in his Bayonne night club, the elder Roy brushes aside his son's poetic pursuit in favor of making money. (Ironically, the actor, Ajay Naidu, an old friend, is one of the most artistic and poetic people I've ever met.) This story is not new, but it does ask a pressing question of parents today: In a culture consumed by micro transactions conducted on a device that consumes all attention, how do you raise your child in a non-materialistic matter?
Kidnapping a five-year-old to cross the Canadian border is not the answer. Research conducted at Villanova University, recently published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, offers a different approach: teach your child to be grateful.
The team, led by Lan Nguyen Chaplin (now at the University of Illinois at Chicago), noticed that rising materialism in American culture has led to an uptick in anxiety and depression, greater likelihood that children will get hooked on addictive drugs, and an increased chance they'll display selfish attitudes and behaviors as they age.
Patrick Fore / Unsplash
Gratitude is a well-studied behavior. Dr. Robert Emmons at the University of California, Davis spent eight years intensively studying gratitude. His research found having an 'attitude of gratitude' improves emotional and physical health, as well as strengthens relationships and communities.
One of Emmons's studies found that people who kept a gratitude journal exercised more frequently, reported fewer physical symptoms of pain, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week, compared to those who kept journals that were either neutral or that allowed them to complain. He also found that those who kept gratitude lists made greater strides in progressing towards personal goals over a two-month period.
In another study with young adults practicing daily gratitude exercises, those who partook reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy compared to the control group, who were either told to focus on downward social comparisons or that they were better off than others.
Expressing gratitude is a personality trait that seems to have the strongest ties to overall life satisfaction. In a series of "gratitude visits," in which people wrote a letter and then delivered it to someone who had helped them substantially at some point in their lives, their happiness scores rose by 10 percent and depression scores dropped significantly. Gratitude appears to be uniquely important for both psychological wellbeing and in social relationships.
Chaplin's paper focuses on two studies. In the first, she found that the more children expressed gratitude, the less likely they were to be materialistic. A total of 870 adolescents between 11-17 responded to four items centering on how thankful they are for people and possessions. When gratitude was lower on the scale, desire for objects was higher.
The results of this survey study indicate that higher levels of gratitude are associated with lower levels of materialism in adolescents across a wide range of demographic groups.
In the second study, Chaplin made the project more proactive. As with Emmons's studies, one group of adolescents within the same age group kept a daily gratitude journal; the other, a journal tracking daily activities (the control). After two weeks, the journals were collected and measured using the same scale as in the first study.
Each participant was given ten $1 bills. They were told they could keep all of the money or donate some or all of it to charity in an unmarked envelope. The instructor invented a reason to rush out of the room, so the decision to contribute was private—the child merely needed to drop it into a locked box.
The results showed that adolescents who were encouraged to keep a gratitude journal were less materialistic than their counterparts who kept a daily journal. The experimental group was also more generous compared to the control.
In fact, children keeping gratitude journal donated 60 percent more than the control group. The researchers note that a journal is not the only means of achieving such a result. As they conclude,
Feelings of gratitude can also be enhanced by a daily gratitude reflection around the dinner table, having children and adolescents make posters of what they are grateful for, or keeping a 'gratitude jar' where children and teens write down something they are grateful for each week.
As adults, we can appreciate such sentiments. Whenever you meet someone who feels they're owed something, the first instinct is to flee the scene. Gratitude has been part of many religious traditions: simply being thankful that you're alive is a long-standing means for connecting to a deeper part of yourself and your community. Knowing that such an attitude helps children frame their mental health in positive ways is reason enough to pass this knowledge on to them.
This storm rained electrons, shifted energy from the sun's rays to the magnetosphere, and went unnoticed for a long time.
- An international team of scientists has confirmed the existence of a "space hurricane" seven years ago.
- The storm formed in the magnetosphere above the North magnetic pole.
- The storm posed to risk to life on Earth, though it might have interfered with some electronics.
What do you call that kind of storm when it forms over the Arctic ocean?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8GqnzBJkWcw" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Many objects in space, like Earth, the Sun, most of the planets, and even some large moons, have magnetic fields. The area around these objects which is affected by these fields is known as the magnetosphere.</p><p>For us Earthlings, the magnetosphere is what protects us from the most intense cosmic radiation and keeps the solar wind from affecting our atmosphere. When charged particles interact with it, we see the aurora. Its fluctuations lead to changes in what is known as "space weather," which can impact electronics. </p><p>This "space hurricane," as the scientists are calling it, was formed by the interactions between Earth's magnetosphere and the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplanetary_magnetic_field" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">interplanetary magnetic field,</a> the part of the sun's magnetosphere that goes out into the solar system. It took on the familiar shape of a cyclone as it followed magnetic fields. For example, the study's authors note that the numerous arms traced out the "footprints of the reconnected magnetic field lines." It rotated counter-clockwise with a speed of nearly 7,000 feet per second. The eye, of course, was still and <a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/for-the-first-time-a-plasma-hurricane-has-been-detected-in-space" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">calm</a>.</p><p>The storm, which was invisible to the naked eye, rained electrons and shifted energy from space into the ionosphere. It seems as though such a thing can only form under calm situations when large amounts of energy are moving between the solar wind and the upper <a href="https://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR854520.aspx" target="_blank">atmosphere</a>. These conditions were modeled by the scientists using 3-D <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-21459-y#Sec10" target="_blank">imaging</a>.<br><br>Co-author Larry Lyons of UCLA explained the process of putting the data together to form the models to <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/space-hurricane-rained-electrons-observed-first-time-rcna328" target="_blank">NBC</a>:<br><br>"We had various instruments measuring various things at different times, so it wasn't like we took a big picture and could see it. The really fun thing about this type of work is that we had to piece together bits of information and put together the whole picture."<br><br>He further mentioned that these findings were completely unexpected and that nobody that even theorized a thing like this could exist. <br></p><p>While this storm wasn't a threat to any life on Earth, a storm like this could have noticeable effects on space weather. This study suggests that this could have several effects, including "increased satellite drag, disturbances in High Frequency (HF) radio communications, and increased errors in over-the-horizon radar location, satellite navigation, and communication systems."</p><p>The authors <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-21459-y#Sec8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">speculate</a> that these "space hurricanes" could also exist in the magnetospheres of other planets.</p><p>Lead author Professor Qing-He Zhang of Shandong University discussed how these findings will influence our understanding of the magnetosphere and its changes with <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/uor-sho030221.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">EurekaAlert</a>:</p><p>"This study suggests that there are still existing local intense geomagnetic disturbance and energy depositions which is comparable to that during super storms. This will update our understanding of the solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling process under extremely quiet geomagnetic conditions."</p>
Research reveals a new evolutionary feature that separates humans from other primates.
- Researchers find a new feature of human evolution.
- Humans have evolved to use less water per day than other primates.
- The nose is one of the factors that allows humans to be water efficient.
A model of water turnover for humans and chimpanzees who have similar fat free mass and body water pools.
Credit: Current Biology
Being skeptical isn't just about being contrarian. It's about asking the right questions of ourselves and others to gain understanding.
- It's not always easy to tell the difference between objective truth and what we believe to be true. Separating facts from opinions, according to skeptic Michael Shermer, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, and others, requires research, self-reflection, and time.
- Recognizing your own biases and those of others, avoiding echo chambers, actively seeking out opposing voices, and asking smart, testable questions are a few of the ways that skepticism can be a useful tool for learning and growth.
- As Derren Brown points out, being "skeptical of skepticism" can also lead to interesting revelations and teach us new things about ourselves and our psychology.