behavior · community · happiness · hugs · play · Social

McDonald’s will be accepting hugs, calls to mom, and dance moves as payment

OK, so YES it is being sponsored by a huge megacorporation. YES it is a total gimmick. But it is such a COOL gimmick.

“That will be five hugs, please.”

Randomly selected McDonald’s customers will have the opportunity to pay for their meals with various tasks — such as doing a dance or calling their mom — between Feb. 2 and Feb. 14. The deal is outlined in a Super Bowl ad from the company, above, which will air on Sunday but is already posted on its YouTube page.

So, for example, breakfast might cost a fist bump to a McDonald’s crew member; lunch could be paid for with a call to a loved one; and dinner could go for a hug to a family member. But there will only be 100 winners at each store.

more via McDonald’s will be accepting hugs and dance moves as payment. (Mashable)

Last week I also posted about a major paint company that promoted their paint via enabling the handicapped in China to blow up paint balloons onto a canvas.

While to some it may feel “icky” to have mega-sized companies counting this kind of self-congratulating promotion as “spreading the love” or even “charity work,” frankly I am just happy that anyone, either an individual or a giant corporation, is taking steps to making their spaces a little bit happier and more enriching. Companies spend millions of dollars to make their customers happy, so why not spend a little bit of that on a smile?

When has a corporation made your day better, either through a promotion or just because an employee took some time to acknowledge you? Leave it in the comments below.

behavior · community · hugs

A Simple Idea that Can Change All The Grumpy People You Live Around : Free Range Kids

A Simple Idea that Can Change All The Grumpy People You Live Around : Free Range Kids

First, get out your hankies. Then, consider what would happen if everyone in town could thank and encourage each other via a public message board. That’s what one anonymous Canadian wondered, and so he or she started a website (and Facebook account) called “Spotted in Windsor,” in Ontario.

It was inspired by a similar site the local university created, according to

Most of the posts are positive, but not all.

Editor’s note: Some are downright heart-wrenching.

read some here via A Simple Idea that Can Change All The Grumpy People You Live Around : Free Range Kids.

children · environment · happiness · hugs · Nature · neuroscience · psychology

Tree Hugging Now Scientifically Validated – Uplift

hugging trees can be good for us

The term “tree hugger” has been applied to people viewed as uber-liberal or too idealistic, however… “it has been recently scientifically validated that hugging trees is actually good for you.”

Research has shown that you don’t even have to touch a tree to get better, you just need to be within its vicinity has a beneficial effect.

In a recently published book, Blinded by Science, the author Matthew Silverstone, proves scientifically that trees do in fact improve many health issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), concentration levels, reaction times, depression and other forms of mental illness. He even points to research indicating a tree’s ability to alleviate headaches in humans seeking relief by communing with trees.

The author points to a number of studies that have shown that children show significant psychological and physiological improvement in terms of their health and well being when they interact with plants and trees. Specifically, the research indicates that children function better cognitively and emotionally in green environments and have more creative play in green areas. Also, he quotes a major public health report that investigated the association between green spaces and mental health concluded that “access to nature can significantly contribute to our mental capital and wellbeing”.

full article via Tree Hugging Now Scientifically Validated – Uplift.

I”m sorry the article only looked at research in children, as more and more findings are showing the same improvements in adults from interacting and playing with nature, and even results that some would term “nature deprivation” or as Richard Louv calls it “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

One of my favorite little trivia facts is that there are microbes in soil that induce positive emotions in people, so digging in the dirt actually makes you happier. Plus helps you learn and concentrate more.

Hospital patients with a view of a tree or greenery from their room window were found to heal faster.


Those kinds of benefits are for everybody!

While I do feel like it’s important to make sure children get enough outdoor time, I continually want to drive home the message that not only should you encourage children to go outside and play, but adults too. We ALL need fresh air and nature and flowers and bugs and dirt.

anthropology · behavior · community · happiness · hugs · psychology · Social

For those days you really need a hug

Ever have a day when you just really need a hug, like, right now? Well now you’re in luck:

"Jeff Lam and Lauren Perlow created The Nicest Place on the Internet, a place where you can feel warm and fuzzy with virtual hugs, because they were having an off day. It’s perfect for those chilly winter days."

Check out Creativity Online.

You can also go directly to the site: The Nicest Place on the Internet

You can also contribute your own hug.

I love this idea of virtual kindness; it’s a weird concept in a way, of people donating hugs (so to speak) to complete strangers. But, it’s great because it’s using the World Wide Web to create community and connections with people all over the world. Somehow, by being open to receiving a hug, even a virtual one, we are able to create connections and feel like part of a larger tribe or cohesion.

So often online communities can turn harsh or downright mean; it’s great to see online crowdsourcing being used for positive psychological benefits!

behavior · community · happiness · hugs · psychology

10 Psychological Effects of Touch — PsyBlog

A closeup of a hug.
A hug or touch can have a major influence on mood, overall attitude, and even income. Image via Wikipedia

I’m not a very “huggy” person, but this article makes me give that attitude a second thought. Touch, particularly the non-sexual kind, has many benefits for humans, such as creating friendly feelings, calming nerves, and help others be more sympathetic.

Touch is a sense that’s often forgotten. But touch is also vital in the way we understand and experience the world. Even the lightest touch on the upper arm can influence the way we think. To prove it, here are 10 psychological effects which show just how powerful nonsexual touch can be.

via 10 Psychological Effects of Nonsexual Touch — PsyBlog.

The ten benefits of touch mentioned in the article are:

  1. Money
  2. Help
  3. Compliance
  4. More touch leads to more compliance
  5. Fighting (there’s a benefit to fighting, really)
  6. Selling
  7. Dating (yes, nonsexual touch helps sexual touching too)
  8. Power, influence
  9. Clearer communication
  10. Boosting brain power!

Find out more details in the article, plus the multiple studies used to contribute.


community · education · emotion · happiness · hugs · mental health · Uncategorized

Yale law students can (maybe?) check out a dog for stress relief

For me, it is soooo one of those Fridays where everything is blowing up after a long week and you have a doctor’s appointment that took a month to schedule so you really don’t want to miss it, and the coffee’s worked a little TOO well this morning…

For days like this, I have my dog waiting for me at home (assuming I ever get home); for students away at school, they may not have that option.

There are now rumors circulating about Monty, a border terrier at Yale who is available for some quality time with Yale Law students who really need some good adorable animal therapy. While Yale has officially denied this, unofficially they announced he is available for therapy services.

The myth of Monty—short for “General Montgomery“—first surfaced last fall on the popular blog Above the Law. The border terrier was allegedly in a basket behind the circulation desk, but the school later issued a denial about Monty’s existence. Now New York Magazine’s reporting that Yale students have received a memo saying that, Monty is back and available for checkout.

It sounds like they’ve made Monty fully available to students now:

And, even though Monty is hypoallergenic, “visits will be confined to a dedicated non-public space in the library to eliminate potential adverse reactions from any library user who might have dog-related concerns. Kauffman also says they’ll be looking for student feedback on whether to have therapy dogs available “during stressful periods of the semester, for example during examinations.”

My firs thought? Why don’t they have this instituted in MORE high-stress places like graduate school? I can understand businesses not wanting people to bring their dogs into work, but a fully vetted and therapy-trained dog for as-needed therapy? Brilliant!!!!


An explosion of Neanderthals

A lot of research on Neanderthals has popped up lately.
A reconstruction of fetal and infant Neanderthals (picture of the natal Neanderthal here) finds that Neanderthals developed at either the same rate as us or even more slowly, increasing in size quickly as infants but possibly not reaching sexual maturity until later than modern humans. According to one quote, if humans were able to reproduce 1% more often than Neanderthals, we could effectively outbreed them in a (relatively) short matter of time.
And just in case you’re certain your father-in-law must have some Neanderthal lineage, one study of mitochondria DNA from Neanderthals has found that there is no mixing of Neanderthals and modern humans.
Speaking of distant relatives, a group found that chimps could tell when their friends needed hugs, and in doing so lowered their friend’s stress levels. While this behavior has been shown before, the researchers are saying this is the first time they could show that chimps recognized their friends’ stress and were empathetic to help.
Also, anthropologists on an island near the homo floresiensis site found bones dating from the same time that were normal human size. Does this mean that the Hobbit was a deformed freak? Who knows.