A Healthy Mind Comes from Autonomy and a Sense of Control


A new book authors William Stixrud and Ned Johnson describe a healthy way to raise children is to let me e themselves. In the book, The Self-Driven Child, they argue that children – and adults – benefit from a sense of control over their lives. Indeed, stress and anxiety increase when one feels that they cannot alter their surroundings or course of action. For a healthy child and a healthy adult life give yourself some slack to have control over things.

From a neurological perspective, when we experience a healthy sense of control, our prefrontal cortex (the executive functioning part of our brain) regulates the amygdala (a part of the brain’s threat detection system that initiates the fight or flight response). When the prefrontal cortex is in charge, we are in our right minds. We feel in control and not anxious. So, the fact that kids are feeling more anxiety, by definition, suggests that their amygdalas are more active, which indicates that they are more likely to feel overwhelmed, stuck, or helpless.

Research on motivation has suggested that a strong sense of autonomy is the key to developing the healthy self-motivation that allows children and teens to pursue their goals with passion and to enjoy their achievements.

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Celebrate Silence for a Clear Mind

desert and stars

For a healthy body and mind one ought to embrace silence. It turns out that silence is really helpful for our minds and can bring health benefits. The research into how good silence is for us is still up and coming but the results are looking good! Indeed, silence is so golden that Finland has even modified their tourism campaign to reflect the appeal of quietness.

So we like silence for what it doesn’t do—it doesn’t wake, annoy, or kill us—but what does it do? When Florence Nightingale attacked noise as a “cruel absence of care,” she also insisted on the converse: Quiet is a part of care, as essential for patients as medication or sanitation. It’s a strange notion, but one that researchers have begun to bear out as true.

The blank pauses that Bernardi considered irrelevant, in other words, became the most interesting object of study. Silence seemed to be heightened by contrasts, maybe because it gave test subjects a release from careful attention. “Perhaps the arousal is something that concentrates the mind in one direction, so that when there is nothing more arousing, then you have deeper relaxation,” he says.

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How Vertical Farms can Help During Disasters

fruit store

Supporters of vertical farms envision a future that has skyscraper farms beside work places and residences in urban centres. Their thinking is that by growing food where people are will help alleviate pressure on our soil and land use – and they’re right. Indeed, a recent realized spinoff benefit of vertical (or just indoor) farming is after a natural disaster these insulated farming systems can feed people in the impacted area.

In a way, Harvey was a test for Moonflower Farms. Founded by Marques in December 2015, it was one of the state’s very first indoor “vertical” farms—where plants are stacked in trays on shelves, instead of laid out horizontally across larger plots of land. In these high-tech structures, plants don’t rely on sunlight or soil, rainwater or pesticides, but LED lights and minerals instead. The goal of vertical farms isn’t just to save space; it’s also to find a more economical way of producing food for the growing population—and to reduce the costs and consequences of getting that food to where people actually live.

“We are kind of at the beginning of a revolution,” Per Pinstrup-Andersen, a graduate-school professor at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, told me. “We’re at the beginning of a very rapid development in the use of indoor controlled facilities for producing vegetables and some fruits,” he said. “No matter what happens with climate change, you still have your controlled environment.”

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Flowers Reduce use of Pesticide Spraying in Farms


Farms in the UK and Switzerland are trying a classic approach to reducing their use of pesticides: flowers. Yes, the flowers provide nutrients for insects that eat crops, but they also provide for predators. The difference in the approach for these experimental farms is how they arrange the flowers so the insects get what they need while not enough to damage the crops. Rows of flowers are spaced precisely so that insects can’t travel to far on these factory farms. Smaller farms might naturally benefit from insect proximity already.

As a bonus, the flowers make the farm a little prettier and smell better.

Similar studies have tested the same approach elsewhere. In one study in Switzerland, researchers planted poppies, cilantro, dill, and other flowers along fields of winter wheat. The plants fed and sheltered insects like ladybugs that ate the bugs that eat wheat, and ultimately reduced leaf damage 61%. The researchers estimated that choosing the right mix of flowers could increase yield 10%, making it economically self-sustaining or even profitable to keep planting flowers.

They also want to understand the economic value of the approach, and how it can be incorporated with modern farming tech. “We hope this will underpin a rethink of farming practice to include a more ecological approach to agriculture where farmers actively enhance the underlying ecological processes that benefit crop production,” they say. “We also intend to use this experimental network to demonstrate this approach to industry and to train farmers–our experience has shown that farmers often need to see these approaches in action on real farms before they adopt them.”

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Hundreds of Short Videos to Learn About Philosophy

Too many people think that philosophy is a practice for elites or people with too much time on their hands. Contrary to popular belief studying philosophy is easy and readily available. Studying philosophy helps with many aspects of life from logical thinking to mindful peace. Yes you can learn all about philosophy from some great video series on YouTube, over at Open Culture they compiled some of the better channels for you.

Nowadays, several million more people have access to books, literacy, and leisure than in Marcus Aurelius’ era (and one wonders where even an emperor found the time), though few of us, it’s true, have access to a nobleman’s education. While currently under threat, the internet still provides us with a wealth of free content—and many of us are much better positioned than Epictetus was to educate ourselves about philosophical traditions, schools, and ways of thinking.

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