The Urban Monk

In my previous post, we talked about the benefits of healthy friendships.

But most of us understand that they’re beneficial already, even if only anecdotally.

Venting to a good friend feels good. Spending an evening with people who know and love you, laughing and reminiscing, feels good. Puzzling out a tough problem with a pal feels good.

The other side of the coin that has grown in importance in the last twenty years or so of psychological study is that of toxic friendships — friendships that take more energy than they provide.

We looked critically at the negative effect that…

The Urban Monk

It’s likely that as you sit reading this, you’ve been alive for several decades, two centuries, and two millennia.

You’ve now added another decade to your resume. Pretty impressive. Take a moment and pat yourself on the back.

It’s also likely you’ve experienced tragedy, loss, growing pains, transitional periods, and heart capacity expansion. A lot of social ideals have changed in the last few decades, centuries, and millennia.

One significant change that we’ve experienced as a society has been looking closely at the friendships in our lives, and what they bring us measured against what they ask of us.


The Urban Monk

New Year’s resolutions have an expiration date.

And that date about six weeks into the new year…

January 12, to be exact, according to Strava, the social network for athletes. Strava conducted a study, analyzing 31.5 million people’s online activities, to find the average date people decide their resolution experiment has failed.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, more than 80% of people don’t keep their resolutions.

Pretty bleak, right?

Well, the good news is that forming a lasting habit actually makes your brain happy. By filing certain common events in the “automatic” category, you’re making more resources available for spontaneous decision-making.

And according to a study by researchers at the University College London, the average number of days required to rewire your neural pathways and…

The Urban Monk

Before we talk about what seasonal affective disorder (SAD) isn’t, let’s talk about what it is.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a varietal of depression confined to the fall and winter months.

It affects primarily women, and primarily those with other psychiatric conditions, like manic depression or bipolar disorder. (This doesn’t mean that men aren’t affected, or that you have to have another condition to experience SAD systems. Just that you’re more likely to if the previously mentioned criteria are met.)

As of 2020, it affects more than 10 million Americans, with a separate 10% of the population experiencing the milder…

The Urban Monk

Americans are constantly ranked among the most stressed-out people in the world.

And although there’s nothing wrong with a little stress, since it can give us the strength and urgency to carry on, big stress can be paralytic.

The disconnect between the constant, gnawing needling of the multitasking, compartmentalizing, organizing voice in the back of our heads and the little bit of stress that the human brain is designed to handle…

Is that evolutionarily, stress was meant to help you survive.

The stress we experience today, on the other hand, is killing us.

Grinding our teeth because we might be…

The Urban Monk

It’s becoming common knowledge in scientific circles that our guts, or “second brains,” have a symbiotic relationship with almost every other system in our bodies.

What this means is that the composition of your microbiome is not only influenced by your body’s systems…

But that it influences them as well.

For example, stress can change the population diversity in your gut. However, the bacterial makeup of your gut can also affect the way that your brain releases happy chemicals and the way that your nervous system releases stress chemicals.

Unsurprisingly, everything in the human body is connected to and affected…

The Urban Monk

On October 10, 1992, an important tradition became a part of the fabric of America’s collective consciousness.

The World Federation of Mental Health began celebrating Mental Health Day.

In the past nearly 30 years since Mental Health Day was launched, much has changed.

In 1996, a law was passed forcing insurance companies to include provisions for mental health.

In 2007, the U.K. launched its “Time to Change” campaign, working to educate employers on how to best care for and support their employees’ mental health.

In 2011, the very first International Self-Care Day was observed, highlighting the importance of refilling your…

The Urban Monk

Norwegians call it fylleangst

But you might recognize it in its millennial incarnation: “hangxiety.”

Believe it or not, it’s become so heavily referenced in popular culture, it’s causing whole swathes of young people to quit booze.

You may be thinking you’ve never experienced it before… but think again.

Have you ever woken up suddenly after a night of drinking, with warm skin and a parched throat? Have you ever felt your face throb in tandem with your temples? Have you ever lain in bed all day, seemingly paralyzed and glued to the sheets?

Then you’ve experienced the effects of a…

The Urban Monk

For many of us, the last earnest attempt at journaling we made was somewhere very painful in our adolescence.

And it probably had something to do with a crush on a classmate or a lamentation about the relentlessness of human suffering…

Because of that association, many adults find the concept of journaling childish.

But the benefits of journaling extend far beyond getting some worries off of your chest.

In fact, the market for adult journaling has practically exploded in the last few years — ever heard of bullet journaling?

In 2019, the hashtag #bulletjournal collected at least 2 million posts…

The Urban Monk

A lot can happen in 42 days.

Habits form, people fall in love, zucchinis grow.

And according to recent research, the bacteria in the gut microbiome changes after only 42 days — or six weeks — of exercise.

That’s without changing your diet, medication, or anything else.

The gut microbiome has been scientifically verified to impact almost every area of a functioning life…

Our moods, skin quality, digestive health, energy levels, appetites, propensity towards diseases, and much more.

And according to a survey conducted last year by NPR, exercising more is almost always the number one resolution among participants. …

Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling Author, filmmaker, and founder of

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store