3 simple ways to help someone suffering from illness

How to actually help a person who's ill? Don't be afraid to be funny, says Jeannie Gaffigan.

  • When someone is critically ill, says comedy writer Jeannie Gaffigan, they need three very simple things from their friends and family: compassion, humor, and touch.
  • We are conditioned to enter hospital rooms meekly and speak in soft whispers, but when Gaffigan was in critical condition after emergency brain surgery, unable to speak, the most healing thing was her friend visiting her and making irreverent jokes, and her sister tuning into her unspoken feelings.
  • "I'm not saying dress up like a clown," she says. "You've got to be appropriate, but people think it's inappropriate to be funny around critically ill people. But people want to be talked to, be listened to, even if they can't talk."
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Kama muta: A new term for that warm, fuzzy feeling we all get

Social media posts that evoke strong kama muta often go viral – for example, cute kittens, puppies and special animal friendships.

Photo by Ramiz Dedaković on Unsplash

Some emotions you seem to recognise the moment you feel them – you know when you're angry, surprised, embarrassed or jealous.

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Sign of the times: Can hugging machines solve the touch crisis?

As the American loneliness epidemic reaches alarming new heights, one artist theorizes on what connection might look like in the future.

Photography: Scottie Cameron
  • The Compression Carpet is a machine created by Los Angeles-based artist Lucy McRae that simulates a hug to a person craving intimacy.
  • Research indicates that nearly half of Americans lack daily meaningful interpersonal interactions with a friend or family member. This loneliness epidemic is accompanied by a touch crisis.
  • McRae's art and neuroscience suggest that it is affectionate touch that we are deprived of in our increasingly touch-phobic society. New sensory technology seeks to solve this problem.
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We're looking at death all wrong. Here's why.

Can a shift in the way we treat death and dying improve our lives while we're still here?

  • These days, for the most part, the concept of death is consumed by health care and medicine.
  • However, as humans we need to view death as more than just a medical event. It takes into account our psychology, spirituality, philosophy, social worlds, and personal lives.
  • This reconsideration should also apply to the way we treat people who are dying. Life is in the senses, not just our physical capabilities.
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Truth vs Reality: How we evolved to survive, not to see what’s really there

Take the circumstances in your life seriously, but not literally. Here's why.

  • Galileo was quite controversial, in part, because he argued that Earth moved around the sun, despite people's senses deluding them that the world was static.
  • Evolution may have primed us to see the world in terms of payoffs rather than absolute reality — this has actually helped us survive. Those who win payoffs are more likely to pass on their genes, which encode these strategies to get to the "next level" of life.
  • It's important to listen to people's objections because they may bring something to your attention outside your ken. Learn from them to make your ideas sharper.
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