Key Points: Hearing that they have "degenerative disc disease" can frighten many people into pursuing spinal surgery. But rather than being pathological, degenerating discs and decreased spinal flexibility are normal parts of aging—and may not be responsible for any pain that the patient is experiencing. Surgery can be helpful for some patients with structural spinal problems. But it comes with risks and positive outcomes aren't guaranteed; thus, it should only be pursued when absolutely necessary. Surgeries being performed for axial neck, thoracic, and low back pain on normally aging spines was a major reason I quit my spinal surgery practice in 2019. Not only was the success rate low, patients were often much worse after the surgeries and few physicians were willing to take care of them. At the same time, I was witnessing hundreds of patients consistently break free from chronic pain using evidence-based treatments and they usually did not require surgery. … [Read more...] about Spine Surgery: Proceed at Your Own Risk
I’m always optimistic about my future. I hardly ever expect things to go my way. Which statement best reflects the way you view life? Statement 1 reflects a more optimistic view; while Statement 2 reflects a more pessimistic approach. Researchers suggest that our behavior is goal-driven and optimism or pessimism is the outlook that we adopt when we encounter a challenge to our goals . For example, how do you feel after a job interview? Are you generally positive about it went, or do you typically have a more negative interpretation of events? Researchers suggest that an optimist will likely see the world as full of potential opportunities, and as a result are more willing to take action. In contrast, a pessimist tends to feel hopeless about their future, which results in a more passive approach to events because they believe their efforts will be futile. Why does your outlook on life events matter? That is what I wanted to explore. I conducted a study where I … [Read more...] about Feeling Sad? A Little Optimism Can Go a Long Way
People give advice to each other all the time in all kinds of relationships. Whether it’s with your closest romantic partner, a family member, or a co-worker, it’s likely that advice-giving is a frequent aspect of your many interactions. “Should I wear this outfit today?”, your partner asks. You suggest something else you consider more attractive. Much to your surprise, your partner responds, “That’s okay, I’ll stick with my original choice.” Inwardly, you feel annoyed, but you decide to let it go as it’s not that important. But what if this is a regular pattern? What if your partner never listens to you, on matter small or large? Perhaps the person who ignores your advice isn’t as close to you as your romantic partner, but is an important individual in your life, nonetheless. You might have a relative who asks you for advice in planning a (socially distanced) family picnic. You spend several hours researching various potential sites, putting together a menu, and coming up with … [Read more...] about How do You Handle People Who Ignore Your Advice?
Source: Wikimedia Commons | Nobu Tamura People have long pondered what consciousness actually is. Consciousness seems very different from other biological functions—like some sort of nonmaterial essence within our heads. Thoughts and feelings seem ethereal, untethered from anything physical. Self-awareness seems like a phenomenon utterly divorced from anything that could possibly be produced by cells comprised of physical particles. People used to think of life itself that way too, and many still do. But biologists solved the enigma of what makes things alive mid-way through the twentieth century, the foundations of that understanding having been built over the preceding century. Before that, living things were believed to possess some sort of animating essence that accounted for their difference from inanimate matter. People could not imagine how the same material particles that comprise inanimate matter could be arranged in such a way as to make something alive , without … [Read more...] about What Actually Is Consciousness, and How Did It Evolve?
Going into the third calendar month of working from home (WFH) for many Americans, the novelty has started to wear thin. But behavioral science insights can help us improve our home workspaces and habits. Last month I shared the first part of my Balanced Checklist : a behavioral-science-based tool you can use to craft a home workspace supporting well-being and productivity . Having covered Biophilia , Atmospheric conditions, Layout, and Amenities, we’ll now move on to look at Noise, Cohesion, Energy, and Design. Noise . Moderating noise levels and content is essential to successful WFH. But the ideal conditions will depend on the type of work you’re doing, and may even vary throughout the day. While this is a multifaceted topic, the gist is that silence is most productive for higher cognitive processing and complex verbal processes (e. g . data analysis or report writing). But music or other moderate, continuous background noise may be more motivating, both for creative … [Read more...] about Balancing Your Home Workspace for Well-Being and Productivity