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The Psychology of Laughter

“There are two things that don’t have to mean anything; one is music, and the other is laughter.”

Immanuel Kant

The psychology of laughter

UCLA professor of cognitive neuroscience Sophie Scott explains the psychology behind laughter. She starts off by explaining how during states of high emotional arousal (whether joy or pain) we often use non-verbal sounds to communicate our feelings.

For example, while angry we may scream or yell. Laughter is another one of these non-verbal sounds. It is typically seen as an expression of happiness, joy, surprise, and sometimes even stress. It has also been shown to play a very universal role throughout other cultures to facilitate social bonding, as well as within other species. For example, scientists have found laughter among chimpanzees, bonobos, and some argue even rats (and as you will see below: penguins too!)

Tickling is one of the most basic stimuli that causes laughter. Dr. Scott explains that it may be an evolutionary mechanism designed to facilitate social bonding between mother and child.

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50 Tips to Maximize Productivity


Here are commonsense yet practical tips on how we can maximize productivity in our daily lives. Try out some of these for yourself and discover which ones work best for you.

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Equanimity, Impermanence, Non-Duality, and Emotional Balance

A stream-of-conscious contemplation into the nature of equanimity and emotional balance.

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Know Your Passion: 5 Identifiers of What Makes You Really Tick


How do you know when you’ve found a passion of yours? Maybe you just feel it, or maybe it’s not always clear. Sometimes you need to dig in a little, try it out, and see if it fits. Other times you know immediately.

Here are 5 key identifiers that are true for almost any passion:

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Money On My Mind: Tips for Financial Wellness

One clinical psychologist in Atlanta recently wrote a call to action (PDF) saying money has become an unhealthy taboo in psychotherapy.

The main point of the essay was to say that financial troubles, especially in a rough economy, can become great sources of stress, anxiety, and depression for many individuals; and this can often be an overlooked aspect of mental health. In addition to stresses and anxieties, many individuals develop dysfunctional attitudes toward money, some of which could be considered forms of mental disorders, now coined “money disorders.”

Klontz and Klontz suggested a range of possible money-related disorders in their book Money Over Mind. These included money-worshiping, rooted in the belief that more money provides the answers, which can lead to such behaviors as overspending, compulsive buying, unreasonable risk-taking with money, pathological gambling, hoarding, and workaholism; and money-avoidance, which includes “behaviors such as financial denial, where denial is used to defend against or minimize money problems, or financial rejection where feelings of guilt or unworthiness are associated with money.” Avoidance disorders can also include under spending and excessive risk-aversion.

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