+
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.
GOOD PEOPLE Book
upworthy
Joy

What it's like for a man to share his feelings every day for a week.

For a week, I decided that when strangers asked how I was doing, I'd actually tell them. Here's what happened.

masculinity
Canva

Men can learn how to share what they're feeling.

We all know that phrases like “How's it going?” and “How are you?” are mostly pleasantries.

It's just how we say "Hello." You're not expected to answer any more than the person asking is expected to care.

But every once in a while, someone will surprise you. You'll toss out a casual and totally insincere “How are you?” and the floodgates will open out of nowhere. “I've had the WORST DAY,” they'll say.


I've always secretly envied people who can open up on a whim like that. It seems weirdly fun. And there might be a lot of psychological benefits to it.

So I tried it. For a week, I decided that when strangers asked how I was doing, I'd actually tell them.

But before I could start, a pretty important question occurred to me: Would I even know what to say? After all, I am a dude, and everyone knows dudes aren't always super in touch with how we're feeling.

Ronald Levant, a professor of counseling psychology at Akron University, told me a story about a man he once treated early in his career that sums up this whole thing pretty nicely:

“[He] came in complaining about how his son had stood him up for a father son hockey game. Being relatively naive back then, I said, 'So, how did you feel about that?' His answer was 'Well, he shouldn't have done it!' I said again, 'Yeah, he shouldn't have done it, but how did you feel?'
“He just looked at me blankly.”

Levant recalled similar sessions where women, by contrast, were able to walk him — in detail — through their emotional reaction to a situation: how anger turned to disappointment turned to worry, and so on.

“Among the men I was treating or working with there was a singular inability for many of them to put their emotions into words,” Levant said.

As part of my project, I wanted to test Levant's theory, to see what it would be like to, you know, actually try to express my feelings. As the king of non-answers, deflection, and “I'm fine, how are you?” I wanted to know what it would be like to talk about me.

It turned out to be much less simple than I thought.

grocery, enthusiastic conversation, strangers

Getting engaged and talking with other people throughout the day.

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Day One

I was on my way to my daughter's daycare to drop off more diapers, and I was trying to think about how I felt at that specific moment. It was a beautiful sunny day. There was a guy on the sidewalk walking three huge, puffy dogs. It made me laugh.The day had been a bit of a rollercoaster. My 1-year-old daughter woke up all smiles. But by the end of breakfast, she had collapsed into an inconsolable heap of tears, and that was how she left the house that day: wailing in the backseat of my wife's car. When I arrived at daycare, though, she ran to me and leapt into my arms. She laid her head on my chest and giggled as she stared into my eyes. It was a total turnaround and a wonderful midday boost to my mood.

On my way home, I stopped off at a grocery store to grab an energy drink and, potentially, to share this happy moment with a stranger.

I chose the line manned by a fast-talking, bubbly woman. And when I got to the front, she teed me up perfectly with a sincere: “How are you?”

“Hey, I'm good!” I said enthusiastically. In the next instant, though, she was onto other things. “Ma'am?” she yelled to a wandering woman behind me. “I can ring you up over here.”

Her attention swung back to me, but almost immediately, she was telling me my total. “That'll be $2.03.”

The transaction moved at hyper-speed. The moment was gone. As I shuffled for my wallet, I considered just blurting it out anyway, “I just visited my daughter at daycare and she was so happy to see me and it was the freaking best!”

But a voice popped up in my head, and I couldn’t shake it: She's not going to care. Why would she care?

So I said nothing, paid, and went home.

To understand why men and women often handle feelings differently, we have to look at society first.

I can't help but think my wife would have had no trouble talking to the woman in the store. Why is it harder for me then? Are we wired differently? Is it a brain thing? A hormone thing?

Apparently, in the 1980s and '90s, researchers had something of a breakthrough on this question. They became “stimulated by this idea that gender was something that was socially determined,” Levant explained. He noted that boys were being socialized differently than girls were, and it was making a big difference for them down the road.

In a TEDx Talk called “Unmasking Masculinity” Ryan McKelley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, echoed similar findings from his research.

First, he learned that infant and young boys surprisingly displayed more intensity and range of emotion than their female counterparts. “But that story starts to change over time,” he said.

Second, he looked at a series of studies polling men and women in America, which asked people to generate a list of emotions that are “culturally acceptable” for each sex. While the study found that women felt “allowed” to display nearly the entire emotional spectrum, men seemed to be limited to three primary feelings: anger, contempt, and pride.

But despite all these cultural “requirements” about emotion, it turns out that our brains aren't processing things all that differently. McKelley says if you hook men and women up to equipment that measures things like heart rate, skin conductance, sweat, and breath rate, and then expose them to stimuli that can provoke strong emotions, “these gender differences disappear.”

“I do not deny there are biological differences,” McKelly told me in an interview. “However, the degree to which it influences all that other stuff, I believe, is overblown.”

My learning after talking to these researchers? Men DO feel feelings (yay!) but society isn’t doing us any favors when it comes to helping us learn how to express them.

Day Two

I was sitting in the sweltering parking lot outside a Home Depot when I decided I was going to do better than the day before.

I walked inside and stood in line at the customer service counter for what felt like an eternity. Finally, one of the tellers called me up. She had a shock of white curly hair and kind eyes. A grandmotherly type. “How can I help you?” she asked. Not the exact question I wanted, but we'll see where it goes. “I have some returns,” I said.

I decided I was going to do better today.

We launched right into the specifics of what I was returning and why, and it was looking like I was about to strike out again. The transaction took a while so there was ample space to fill. Since she hadn’t asked me about my day, I took the initiative while she tapped impatient fingers along her computer waiting for it to load.

“How's your day going so far?” I asked. She went on to tell me about how a big storm that rolled through nearly knocked out the store's power and how the computers had been acting up ever since. “My day was going great until this!” she said playfully.

In my eagerness to share, I'd accidentally stumbled into a pretty pleasant conversation with a stranger. OK, so it was about computers and the weather, but it sure beats an awkward silence. She never did ask me how I was doing, and that's OK.

But it did make me realize that talking about your own feelings is pretty damn hard, even when you're going out of your way to try.

rainy day, gray, feeling depressed, shame

A rainy day affects the human experience and emotional state.

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

Day Three

Day three was tough. Outside it was gray and dreary and inside I felt about the same. Flat. Gray.

I was having trouble identifying the root of why I felt so, for lack of a better word, “blah,” so I Googled “how to find out what you're feeling,” like I was some sort of robot trying to understand the human experience. “Pay attention to your physiology,” one article said. I felt totally normal and my heart rate was an unremarkable 80. What does that mean?

“Don't think about it too much,” another article said. Well, shit.

As I read on about meditation and mindfulness and things of that sort, I started to get a little nervous. “What if I get too in touch with my emotions?” There's something comforting about being a reasonably even-keeled guy without a lot of emotional highs and lows. I don't want to go digging in the darkest recesses of my subconscious and unlock some terrible shit.

Apparently a lot of men feel like this.

McKelley described one man he treated who had severe anger issues and wasn't exactly open to talking about his problems: “I asked him, 'What do you find so subversive about crying?' He said, 'If I start, I'm afraid I'm going to curl up in a fetal position and never be able to stop.'”

I thought a little too much about this and decided I had to get out of the house.

I don't want to go digging in the darkest recesses of my subconscious and unlock some terrible shit.

I headed out to grab a coffee at a local establishment (OK, it was a McDonald's, but I really don't need your judgment right now). There was a young, freckle-faced girl working the counter. She was probably 19. When it was my turn, she gave me a shy “Hello.”

“How are you?” I started. “Good. How are you?” she responded, on cue.

Since I hadn’t had any major emotional breakthroughs at that point, I just ... told her the truth. “I just had to get out of the house a little bit. It's so gray and crappy today and I just needed a break. You know?”

She gave me possibly the blankest stare I had ever seen in my life. I quickly filled the silence with my order — a large iced coffee. To go.

The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much more to this whole emotions thing than just “opening up.”

By the third day, I’d learned that men definitely feel things. Lots of things. But it's what happens before those feelings bubble to the surface that accounts for the myth that dudes don’t have any emotions at all.

Think of it this way: Almost every single day, you take the same route driving home from work. And while driving is usually a conscious process that takes a lot of focus and effort, you could probably make that super-familiar drive home from work with barely any involvement from your brain at all. We sometimes call this “going on autopilot.” It’s the same way with breathing or blinking. Sure, you can control them if you want, but more often than not, they’re totally automatic.

And I've learned that it can be the same thing with suppressing emotions. For years and years, most men have been trained not to give any indication that we might be scared or lonely or nervous, and we push it down. If we do that enough, it can start to seem like we don’t feel those feelings at all.

It's what happens before those feelings bubble to the surface that accounts for the myth that dudes don't have any emotions at all.

McKelley expands on this idea in his TEDx Talk when he talks about the “male emotional funnel system.” Basically, he says all those emotions men might feel that make them vulnerable or that make them subject to judgment, or even being outcast, by their peers are transformed into anger, aggression, or silence. It's how we avoid ridicule.

It's how we survive.

But over time, not only do we lose the ability to understand our own true emotions — the emotions behind the anger or silence — but we get worse at figuring out and empathizing with what others are feeling too.

When it comes to emotional fluency, McKelley said, “it's like speaking a foreign language. If you don't use it, you lose it. It's something you have to practice.”

Day Four

When I went to bed the previous night, the country was heartbroken over the death of Alton Sterling. When I woke up, we were heartbroken over the death of Philando Castile. Two black men dead at the hands of police within 48 hours.

But as devastated as I was, life goes on — right? I had work to do and, later, errands. In fact, we needed more diapers.

But the shootings were the only thing on my mind all day.

When I reached the cashier at the Walgreens down the street from my house, a small pack of size-five Pampers clutched to my side, I saw she was a young black girl. She asked how I was doing. And I told her, with all honesty, that I was sad.

We talked briefly about the news. She'd been at work and hadn’t heard much about Philando Castile yet. We paused so I could enter my phone number for reward points. There were no tears or hugs or anything like that — after all, we were standing at the front of a Walgreens and people were starting to form a line behind me.

She asked how I was doing. And I told her, with all honesty, that I was sad.

When I left, I don't know if I felt any better. But I certainly didn’t feel worse. And talking to a real live human being about an awful tragedy felt a lot more meaningful than reading Facebook comments and Tweets.

So, on an awful, terrible, no-good day, I guess that was something.

While I worked on this project, I often wondered why all of this mattered. Do I really need to tell people what I’m feeling all the time?

And then I thought about our nation, and all the tragedies that we hear about on the news every day.

I thought about the 100 million men in America who, to varying degrees, have had their ability to empathize with the emotions of others slowly eroded over time because society tells them they cannot be vulnerable. I thought about the creep on the street chatting up a woman who clearly, visibly wants nothing to do with him. I thought about the catcallers who seem to be convinced they are paying women a compliment and are oblivious to how uncomfortable, even afraid, they're making them.

I thought of the millions of men in America being conditioned from an early age to turn fear, helplessness, loneliness, shame, and guilt into two things: anger and aggression. I thought of the 80-plus mass shootings in America since 1982 and how almost all of them were committed by men. I thought about how many of those men might have been bullied, hurt, shamed, or humiliated and, perhaps, could think of no other outlet for those feelings than the barrel of a gun.

I thought about the millions of men in America who will never harm another person, but might funnel that anger and aggression inwards through alcohol or drug abuse or worse, with three and a half times more men dying by suicide than women.

To be extremely clear: There is no excuse for hurting another person, whether through harassment, rape, abuse, or gun violence. But when we talk about providing better mental health services in our country, maybe we ought to make sure we're thinking of the next generation of otherwise healthy boys who need guidance about what to do with their emotions.

“If we're not allowed to talk about [shame], we're not allowed to express it, we're not allowed to admit we're experiencing it. And then you surround it with exposure to violence and seeing it modeled as a way to solve problems,” McKelley told me. “But women are bathed in the same violent cultural forces, so what's the difference?”

“Until we can figure out a better way socially to help boys and men navigate feelings of shame, we're going to continue to have problems.”

As bad as all the research sounds, there IS some good news.

intimacy, honesty, emotional intelligence, terrifying, men

Giving self reflection and intimacy a real shot.

Photo by Suzana Sousa on Unsplash

My best advice for how all of the men I know can figure out what their feelings are? Give it a shot.

Many of us are risk-takers. We go skydiving, wakeboarding, speedboating, or even shopping-cart-riding (full-speed into a thorn bush on a rowdy Saturday night, amiright?).

But we won’t tell our best friend that we love them.

“The irony is men repeatedly score higher than women on average in risk-taking behaviors. And yet we won't take those types of risks. Those emotional risks are terrifying for a lot of men. That’s probably the one thing at the end of the day that I suggest guys do,” McKelley said.

It might not always work out, but more often than not, he says, you'll find so many other people are feeling the same way and just waiting for someone else to say it.

“It doesn't require courage to hide behind a mask,” McKelley said in the closing minutes of his TEDx Talk. “What requires courage is being open and vulnerable no matter what the outcome.”

And as for me? I learned that talking about how I'm feeling, especially with people I don't know or trust, can be pretty hard.

Throughout the week, there were a lot of voices inside me telling me not to do it.

It'll be weird! They won't care! They're going to judge you!

And sometimes those voices were right. But as the week went along, it got a little bit easier to ignore them. And in the days since the “experiment” ended, I've found myself sharing just a little, tiny, minuscule bit more on a day-to-day basis.

What was most incredible was that I started to realize that the experts were right: This IS a skill. It’s something I can learn how to do, even as a self-described “nonemotional” guy. By taking “little risks” with my feelings, I am getting better and better at bypassing those instincts in me that want me to clam up and be the strong, stoic man.

I just hope I’ll have the courage to keep practicing.

But again, this isn't just about me. And it's probably not just about you either. It’s about the next generation of young people who will look to us (both men and women) for reassurance that men can feel, can talk about feeling, and can respond with things other than anger, aggression, or silence.

I want to leave you with a question, one I want you to really think about and answer as honestly as you possibly can. It might seem silly, but answering it could be one of the bravest things you'll ever do.

All right. Are you ready? Here it goes:

How are you?


This article originally appeared on 07.27.16

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Woman refuses to change seats for mom and kids

Traveling with preteens and teens is a breeze in comparison to traveling with little ones but as a parent you still want to sit near your kiddos in case they need you for anything. If you've traveled on an airline in the last several years, you know it's much cheaper to chose the basic seats in the main cabin.

There's nothing different about these particular seats other than the airline sort of randomly selects your seat and if you're traveling alone, that's really not a bad deal. The risk gets to be a little higher if you're traveling with a party that you'd like to keep together - like your children. One mom took the risk and banked on a stranger accommodating...that's not quite how it played out.


People sit in the wrong seats on planes all the time, usually because they read their ticket wrong or accidentally sit one row ahead. Takes no time to double check your ticket and move along, but when Tammy Nelson did a double take at her ticket after seeing the mom in her window seat, she realized she wasn't mistakenly staring at the wrong row.

This mom boarded the plane with her older children and had taken it upon herself to sit in the same row as her children, essentially commandeering a stranger's seat. Nelson assumed it was a mistake and informed the woman that the seat was in fact hers but the response she received was surprising.

"She said, 'Oh, you want to sit here?'," Nelson tells Good Morning America. "She said, 'Oh, well I just thought I could switch with you because these are my kids.'"

That's an interesting assumption when seats are assigned and many people, like Nelson, pay extra to have the seat they prefer. Now, there's no telling if funds were tight and this was an unplanned trip for the mom and kids which caused her to buy the more budget friendly tickets or if she was simply being frugal and was banking on the kindness of a stranger.

Either way, Nelson specifically paid for a window seat due to motion sickness and though she paid extra, she was willing to sit in the other row if that seat was also a window seat. But it turns out, it was a middle seat.

Surely there's someone out there that loves the middle seat. Maybe a cold natured person that enjoys the body heat of two strangers sitting uncomfortably close. Or perhaps someone that doesn't mind accidentally sleeping on an unsuspecting passenger's shoulder. But that person isn't Nelson, so when the middle seat was offered in exchange for her bought and paid for window seat, she politely but sternly declined.

@myconquering

Having had only 90 minutes of sleep the night before and knowing I had to give a presentation to 500 people, I desperately needed some sleep, so I did not agree to switch seats. 🤷‍♀️ Before anyone comes after me… the kids looked like they were about 11 and 15 years old. And the mom was in arms-reach of both of them from the middle seat in the row behind us. The mom proceeded to complain for at least 15 minutes to the person next to her loud enough for me to hear. But the woman actually defended me – several times. It was so kind and I appreciated it so much because I was feeling really guilty. 🤦‍♀️ ##airplaneseat##seatswitching##airplanekarens

Her refusal to give in to the mom's seemingly entitled request for Nelson's seat has resulted in parents and child-fee people cheering her on after she posted the details on her TikTok page, MyCONQUERing. The video has over 3.4 million views.

"Nope. If it's not an upgrade it's a sacrifice," a commenter writes.

"You did the RIGHT thing. Folks need to plan their travel together. Lack of planning on their part does not constitute an inconvenience on yours," one person says.

"I have 3 kids and have sat in different rows when they were passed toddler age. I agree, book your flight earlier," another writes.

"You were right. As a woman with 3 children, I always pay extra so we're sat together," another mom says.

Nelson is also a mom so she knows how important it is to sit next to kids on flights. But since airlines have made that a luxury, as the parent, you have to plan to pay extra or accept that you likely won't be seated next to your children. Hopefully in the future, this unnamed mom is seated next to her children or pays extra to make sure it happens. In the meantime, people continue to support Nelson standing her ground.

This article originally appeared on 7.28.23

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

'Dumb' things people say to moms sparks words of support

When people have children there is all sorts of unsolicited advice and comments that seems to just spring out of people's mouths. In most cases the people making the remarks are attempting to be helpful, but that doesn't mean that it actually is helpful. Sometimes what is meant to be a kind word comes out sounding more hurtful than helpful.

Jimmy Knowles recently uploaded a skit that humorously highlights some of the unsupportive things people say to moms. The man plays all the parts in the skit, alternating between different moms and their "helpful" commenters. The video opens up with a mom sounding overwhelmed about how hard some of the days are with the kids. Immediately someone rebuts, "just remember, you chose this when you had them."

Not helpful. It seems that sometimes people forget that moms are also humans who have bad days and a full range of emotions. But the next person who popped up to give out a little commentary wasn't much better. Each advisor seems to be worse than the last.


Moms were completely on board with the message in Knowles' video. Many shared their own experiences while others shared more helpful things people could say that are actually supportive.



"I’ve never heard someone say 'you can’t complain about your work, you accepted their offer. Be grateful.' Parenting is the only place this is the norm and it’s so delusional," one person writes.

"I am the middle of 5 sisters. I’m all about supporting moms. Helpful things to say: - I’ll take the kids to the bookstore for a couple hours. - When can I come help out with housework? - I made dinner. 350 for 30 minutes. Salad isn’t dressed. - I’ve got 3 hours and I’m all yours. What can I do? Kitchen cleanup? Walk the dog? Bathroom duty? Feed the kids lunch while you go for a walk? Help!! Do something. Words are cheap. Actions are love," someone shares.

"Here’s a great response- You work so hard honey. Thank you. Or from mom- you are such a good mom. I know it can be hard. How about you bring them over here and go have a date night or a quiet night at home," another says.

"We. Just. Need. Validation. Y’all," someone declares.

People aren't asking for much, just actual help either when they're feeling overwhelmed or before they reach the point of overwhelm. Validation and simply listening empathetically can go a long way.

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

A school street in Paris, France.

The people of Paris have made a bold move by transforming their city into one that puts kids first. Under the leadership of the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, the School Streets initiative has a mandate to transform 300 streets into pedestrian walkways that cater to families walking to and from schools by 2026.

"About 180 School streets have been redesigned and completely pedestrianized. The idea, of course, is to cut the through traffic to get people to go to school on foot, children and parents," Paul Lecroart, Senior urban planner for the Paris Metropolitan region, said in a video by Streetfilms.


Streetfilms produces short films that show how intelligent transportation design and policy can improve places to live, work, and play.

Paris School Streets: Safe for Children, Safe for Everyoneyoutu.be

"You're creating a totally different experience for the students. You're reducing traffic noise, you're reducing traffic pollution, and you're giving the children a play space and a gathering space at the beginning and end, in the middle of their school days," says Marcel Moran, PhD.

The new streets are adorned with greenery and fun, kid-friendly designs. Some have large, red storage sheds filled with toys and games for kids and their parents to play after school.

School Streets are created in two phases. In the first, they close the street to cars to see if it negatively affects traffic or causes problems for residents. Then, if it works out, the city does the proper planning and design to turn it from a road for cars to a school street by adding lush greenery and repaving it for pedestrians.

Residents sometimes hesitate to shut down the roads in front of their homes. But many enjoy the new transition to a place that encourages community. After the streets are repurposed, what was once a dangerous road now becomes a place where families congregate and kids can come and go as they please in an area designed to promote safety and mental health.

Health

Want to fall asleep faster? People share their favorite hacks for nodding off quickly.

These mental and physical tricks may help you drift into dreamland.

Want to fall asleep faster? Try these tricks.

Sleep is a biological imperative for every human being, so it doesn't seem like it should be a hard thing to do. For some people, however, falling asleep is a challenge, no matter how tired they are.

Experts have some advice for good sleep hygiene that helps lay the foundation for falling asleep, such as keeping a regular sleep schedule, following a consistent before-bed routine, dimming lights, avoiding screens late in the evening, getting sunlight early in the day and basic health habits like exercising, eating well and avoiding smoking.

That's all well and good, but what about when you're actually in bed with the lights off and simply can't fall asleep because your body is buzzing or your mind is racing?


That's where some simple tricks to help yourself drift off to sleep can help. Some tricks are physical and some are mental, so what sounds helpful may depend on what's preventing you from falling asleep. As with most things, different things work for different people, so it's worth experimenting with a few, but here are some hacks people on Reddit swear by to fall asleep quickly.

Listen to boring bedtime stories

"On Spotify there is a podcast called 'Nothing much happens: bedtime stories to help you sleep.' Each episode is around half an hour but the storyteller tells the story twice and the second time she tells it with a slower pace. I am really curious how she tells the story slower but I was never able to make it to the second half. Sometimes I try to focus and promise myself that I will remember the story when I wake up the next morning. However, I can't recall anything. Nothing much happens, so it's extremely boring and my brains shuts down pretty quickly."

"There's also one called 'I Can't Sleep' where the host reads random articles from the internet, mostly Wikipedia pages. His voice is super soothing and I rarely make it past the first 15 minutes or so of an episode."

"'Sleep with Me' podcast by Scooter. Same concept as what everyone else said. But wow! There’s a lot of sleep podcasts!!"

Make up your own bedtime story

"I used to have bad insomnia when I was younger, and the only thing that seemed to work for me was imagining a story. I would set the setting, the premise, the characters, and start coming up with it. Basically, I was kick starting the dreaming process. I'd be asleep within a few minutes."

"This has been my trick for years…I’m not even that creative, I’ve probably restarted the same 3 or 4 narratives hundreds of times, but never get anywhere close to the end."

"I scrolled and scrolled because I knew I'd find something like this. I create crazy ass stuff in my head. Sea levels rise 100 feet and I built a bunker and have to save people I know. Lead singer of a killer band. Qb of a team. I invented a machine that does all your daily grooming as you sleep. Just weird shit. Usually out in a few minutes."

Create an alphabet-based list

"Trying to find 5 names with each letter. I usually fall asleep by K or L."

"I do this with animals: aardvark, antelope, etc. I usually fall asleep by B or C."

"Similarly I pick a category. Countries, cities, street names, etc and run through the alphabet."

"This one is foolproof for me. Never gotten the whole way through the alphabet."

Imagine you're on a boat or in a hammock

"The boat technique. A military buddy told me about it when he was stationed in Mali. Imagine yourself in a small boat, on a stream running through a forest with the canopy above you and the sun shining through, or drifting on a lake under a starry sky. Let yourself drift."

"I figured out the boat one myself as a child, except it was a raft on very gentle waves. And the Scooby Gang were hanging out with me."

"I sometimes picture myself in a hammock in a rainforest, with various animals snuggling around and on top of me. I love animals, so this is meant to relax me and make me feel safe. I use a weighted blanket, so I try to picture different animals draped over my legs to justify the weight of the blanket."

"Picture yourself on a hammock hanging between two palms on a beach at night, focus on the waves and electricity enveloping your body from each palm."

Breathe—but very, very slowly

"Breathing. Slow deliberate breathing. Count the same for in and out. And for every breath out, try and relax your muscles. I just keep doing that. Works most of the time."

"Came to say this. Breathing exercises have changed my life <3 started doing them after losing my dad and depression wouldn’t let me sleep. I read about it, was like uh whatever bullshit, but I tried it, and then… I woke up the next morning?! Been doing them for 7 years now. Even my man is like how the F do you pass out in 10min?! Breathe in……. Breathe out…. Think about nothing but the breaths, feel the oxygen in your blood increasing, think about your veins running alllll up and down your body. How your muscles relax into the bed… the pillow is so soft… breathe in… breathe out."

"My hack is similar as in I take the deepest breath I possibly can, then hold it for as long as I can, then release it as slow as I can. I never needed more than 3 reps of this to fall asleep. The heart rate slows down and the brain quiets down pretty fast with this."

"I breathe super slow to 10 and then force my left arm to relax and not move from now on like I shut it down. Then I do the same with my right arm, then left leg and right left. Then I do the torso and then finally try to shut off my head. I heard Marines use a similar technique to fall asleep."

More specifically, the 4-7-8 breathing technique

"When I really need to sleep, I use the '4-7-8' breathing technique. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7, exhale for 8. Works like a charm most of the time"

"I swear by the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. Works like a charm! 😴"

"I use 4:7:8 breathing : inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds. Count at the speed you are comfortable, my understanding is that it's the ratio that's important, rather than the amount of time. This breathing pattern effects the oxygen levels in your brain in a way that brings you into parasympathetic activation (sometimes called 'rest and digest mode.')"

Tensing and relaxing your muscles (aka "progressive relaxation")

"Progressive relaxation. Tense your toes, breathe in for a 5 count, hold for 5, and then relax as you exhale. Then your calves, then your thighs, your butt, your core, etc."

"Focus on a muscle group. Be it feet, calves, thighs, and just work your way up. Flex your muscles as hard as possible, get that adrenaline going. And after a bit, relax. Slowly work your way up to your head and face. You can feel the waves of calm wash over each section once they relax."

"My dad taught me something similar. While reclined, imagine creating a wave with your body by gently imagining you are putting downward pressure on your sleeping place starting with your head, then shoulders, then back, then legs and then your feet. I sleep on my side so I go head, shoulders, hips, knees then feet."

Hopefully trying some of these tricks will help you find what works to help you fall asleep more easily and quickly. Sweet dreams, everyone!