Excellent advice for grads


Lisa Wade and Gwen Sharp, two sociologists (who also work on the excellent Sociological Images blog) have advice for this year's college grads that goes beyond "find your passion, follow your dreams" (something that actually doesn't work for most college grads, statistically). Instead, they offer research-grounded advice in how to lead a happy, full life:

2. Make Friends
Americans put far too much emphasis on finding Mr. or Ms. Right and getting married. We think this will bring us happiness. In fact, however, both psychological well-being and health are more strongly related to friendship. If you have good friends, you’ll be less likely to get the common cold, less likely to die from cancer, recover better from the loss of a spouse, and keep your mental acuity as you age. You’ll also feel more capable of facing life’s challenges, be less likely to feed depressed or commit suicide, and be happier in old age. Having happy friends increases your chance of being happy as much as an extra $145,500 a year does. So, make friends!

4. Don’t Take Your Ideas about Gender and Marriage Too Seriously
If you do get married, keep going with the flow. Relationship satisfaction, financial security, and happy kids are more strongly related to flexibility in the face of life’s challenges than any particular way of organizing families. The most functional families are ones that can bend. So partnering with someone who thinks that one partner should support their families and the other should take responsibility for the house and children is a recipe for disaster. So is being equally rigid about non-traditional divisions of labor. It’s okay to have ideas about how to organize your family – and, for the love of god, please talk about both your ideals and fallback positions on this – but your best bet for happiness is to be flexible.

Advice for College Grads from Two Sociologists

(Image: Graduation, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from ajschwegler's photostream)

Double rainbows: Here's what they mean

The physics blog Skulls in the Stars has answers to your rainbow-related questions. Among the fascinating things we learn here — each color in a rainbow represents the light reflected by a separate group of raindrops; skydivers can see circular rainbows; and the famous double rainbow happens when light bounces off the inside of a raindrop not just once ... but twice.

The men who tickle rats

Apparently, if you tickle a rat it will respond with vocalizations that scientists have good reason to interpret as happy ones. Basically, it's the rat equivalent of laughter, only at ultrasonic frequencies that the human ear can't detect on its own. What's more, tickling rats on a regular basis appears to reduce the negative effects of stress in their lives. Scicurious' write up of this research includes the amazing quote: "For the “tickling treatment”, rats were tickled once daily, in two sessions of two minutes each, for two weeks." Also, there is video of this.

Researchers: Friday best weekday

According to science, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are equally as loathsome as Mondays. [BBC]

Lazy harp seal has no job

Good luck getting this song out of your head.

Via Deep Sea News

Video Link

Graffiti artist in Urbana, Ill. has an upbeat message for you

This bit of graffiti, spotted by entomologist and photographer Alex Wild, seems like the perfect way to start off a Monday morning. Thanks, anonymous tagger! I feel better already!