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Don’t Rely on Money for Happiness

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People in the “poorest of the poor” communities in which money is not a high value can feel as happy as people in high-income Scandinavian countries, concludes new research from Canada’s McGill University. For the study published in PLOS One, interviewers studied 678 people living in Bangladesh and the Solomon Islands, both extremely low-income countries. People in remote fishing villages with subsistence-level incomes reported very high levels of “subjective well-being”, which they attributed to spending lots of time with family and being in nature. Villagers that had migrated to urban areas for work were more likely to gauge their well-being by economic and social factors, and reported lower feelings of well-being, leading researchers to speculate that monetization, especially in its early stages, may be detrimental to happiness. “When people are comfortable, safe and free to enjoy life within a strong community, they are happy—regardless of whether or not they are making any money,” says Chris Barrington-Leigh, a professor at McGill’s Bieler School of the Environment.

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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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