Welcome to the Existential Roundup, where we bring you links to some articles currently trending that may be of interest to those in the existential-humanistic psychology community.
With summer underway, and with everyone off on doing their own things—camp, vacations, fishing, swimming, surfing, beachbumming (is that even a thing?), or even just working extra shifts to fill in for all the people doing all those things, it seems a grab bag of items is the best way to celebrate the bounty of summer’s variety.
If music is your thing, The Mind Unleashed reports on “Seven Ways that Music Benefits Your Health.” Not only is the awesome news for music lovers like me, but it is also great news for people looking for easy, inexpensive ways to make some really tangible changes in mood and health, potentially over the long term. Reporting on recent research confirming many previous studies, listening to music can positively affect everything from cognitive performance to depression to heart rate and blood pressure. And iTunes and Spotify are literally just a click away. Not to mention all the free music channels on YouTube.
However, maybe you just never got around to spring-cleaning. Then it may be time to check out The Wall Street Journal’s article on the psychology of clutter. According to the article, many professional organizers are coming to see that their clients, while distressed about their clutter, are also distressed about letting it go, for many reasons. The list in the article looks like half the diagnostic labels from the DSM. But the most important thing is figuring out what is preventing each client—each person—from being able to let go of their clutter, a.k.a., their precious memories and possessions, or things they might need one day. And many people who don’t have a problem with clutter simply don’t understand that people who do have real feelings to deal with—it’s not simply a matter of a trip to The Container Store, or a few garbage bags.
Synesthesia—the condition where perceptual experiences are either confused or beyond the norm—has always fascinated me from the moment I learned the condition existed. Believed to have a strong genetic component, synesthesia has always been considered a rare condition. However, the Washington Post reports that perhaps one can now learn to have synesthetic experiences—with the proper training, of course. The training procedure, which researchers are attempting to create, would start with teaching an association between letters and colors. For instance, one would learn that the letter “Y” is always yellow, to the point that “yellowness” is something one always felt in one’s bones when they saw or used the letter “Y,” to the point that one would not be able to consciously suppress that feeling. The eventual goal of such training, according to the article, is not just the novelty, but rather enhanced creativity and memory.
Perhaps, synesthetic training might be a little too “weird,” shall we say, for you, and you’d prefer a training more traditional? Well, if you are planning on strenuous exercise, new research in the Chicago Tribune suggests that if you exercise strenuously at night, you might have a better chance of getting a good night’s sleep. Increased tiredness, better mood, and reduced hunger seem to create the trifecta necessary for better sleep, according to the study.
Maybe your sleep is fine, but you want something more stimulating for those hot summer days that you can do inside with the air conditioner at full blast. U. S. News reports that the answer may be to start learning a new language. The article reports on research that speaking two or more language can help prevent the brain from aging, even if you learn that new language as an adult. Obviously, it is not too late to get those language DVDs or software and start practicing. Soon, you will know how to ask where the library and zoo are in a multitude of foreign tongues, while living into your ninth and tenth decades. What better way is there to try to say Adios or Ciao or Tschüss or Au Revoir or Do svidanija or Sayōnara, at least for a little while, to existential finitude?
Thanks to Erica Stanton for her research assistance.