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Is anything better than a beautiful bromance?

"What?" GIF from "Sherlock."


You know, bros being bros with each other?

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Love or hate the bro + romance portmanteau (and many people do have strong and valid feelings about its usage, not to mention the ways it's used as queerbaiting instead of actual LGBTQ representation), you've got to admit that close male friendships do sometimes seem as though they're reserved exclusively for male friends in TV shows and movies.

And don't get me wrong — bromances are fun to watch, but...

...as much as we love to see pairs of dude friends in our TV shows and movies, they may be becoming an endangered species here in the real world.

Though men desire friendship and affection, studies have shown that a lot of us are struggling to form lasting friendships with one another.

GIF from "Star Trek"/Omaze.

This struggle may be the result of one of the worst (and most pervasive) stereotypes: That men want to be alone.

"There's a stereotype of the lone male wolf," says Liz Kirby, one of the authors of a new study about male bonding, referencing the idea that guys are just naturally more isolated than women and don't need emotional support systems or aren't as biologically predisposed to having feelings.

It's the same stereotype that says that men don't need help dealing with day-to-day stress, that a guy shouldn't open up about his feelings, that he shouldn't complain or cry, and that when something bad happens men just deal with it.

Usually stoically.

"I'm not crying. It's raining on my face." — Men, probably. GIF from "Doctor Who."

"There's no reason that has to be the case," Kirby told me. "This idea that only women are the ones who need these social bonds or who can draw on these social bonds is really just not true."

Even science thinks bromances are awesome.

At least, so says the results of Kirby's new study from University of California Berkeley that involved male rats, bro-bonding, and good ol' brain chemicals.

Mmm ... brain chemicals. GIF from "Ratatouille."

The results of the study show that after male rats experienced mild stress, their levels of oxytocin (a hormone in the body which helps bond with others) went up. What's more, they found that male rats, when allowed to hang out with their male rat friends after those mildly stressful days, would get another hit of oxytocin as well.

"Bonding causes oxytocin and oxytocin causes bonding. It's a vicious love cycle," Kirby says. In essence, the study showed that male bonding time can be both a male body's natural response to stress and also one of the best treatments for it.

And guys, this isn't just metaphorically good for our hearts.

Studies show that deep male friendships may be good for our biological hearts too. Friendships can reduce stress, make us more resilient to future stresses, decrease our chances of getting depressed or anxious, and help keep us healthy. One study found that having a friend is as important to a person's health as quitting smoking.

"We do better, we live longer, we are healthier when we have friends," said Kirby.

The idea that deep friendships are good for you isn't exclusive to men, of course — all this stuff about hormones and friendships and health applies to lady-lady friendships, lady-dude friendships...

...human-Hulk friendships... GIF from "Avengers 2: Age of Ultron."

...or any types of friendship, really, but male-male bonds often get kind of ignored in these discussions.

This isn't just a feel-good message either — Kirby's research could one day help defeat one of today's greatest specters: post traumatic stress disorder.

Remember oxytocin, the friendship hormone? Kirby's researchers found something interesting about that. When stress is bad enough — like car-accident, PTSD-levels of bad — oxytocin levels don't go up the same way as when we experience mild, bad-day-at-the-office stress.

Instead, those traumatic experiences lower oxytocin in the body, and no oxytocin means no bonding instinct.

This might help explain why people sometimes retreat away from their support networks after experiencing a traumatic event or why they don't act a certain expected way. It could even help scientists figure out better ways to help anyone suffering from trauma.

This is what Kirby wants to study next — to see if her team can figure out a way to help refuel a person's oxytocin levels. If they can do that, she says, "we might be able to help people with PTSD come back out of their shell."

So, yes, men: Bromances have incredible power.

We should embrace friendships, not shy away from them. Spend some time with friends. Share your feelings. Ask for help. It's OK; it's even good for you!

Bromances can turn stress into friendship, help head off future stress, and can actually help us live longer.

Most hearteningly of all, they might be able to kill off that stupid lone-wolf stereotype that society tells us we need to fulfill — the part that can make you feel the most alone when you're struggling.

So, bros. Remember this the next time you have a bad day at the office.

Don't be this guy:

Be these guys:

You and everyone around you will be better off for it.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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