3 Good Things: Phones down, bison up and a lesson in Oreology

Karlotta Freier / For The Times

number one

Moderation in all things digital

Enough with the smartphone shaming. Yes, it’s easy to get sucked in. But most of us would live diminished lives if we ditched our phones — missing news, friends and family, and life’s little joys like Wordle, Quordle, Octordle, Sedecordle … . Luckily, recent data indicate that we shouldn’t be choosing between routine smartphone use and smartphone abstinence anyway, because a middle path leads to better outcomes. Participants in a one-week randomized study who reduced their phone use by an hour a day ended up better off than those who stayed off their phones completely and those who kept up normal habits. Even four months after the experiment, the “moderation” group reported the greatest life satisfaction and physical activity and the least depression, anxiety and nicotine consumption.


number two

Bison are back

Don’t let the relationship between bison and Plains Indians be relegated to the history books. The Rosebud Sioux in South Dakota are building up a herd — 750 strong and growing — as far more than a symbol. “Buffalo are central to who we are as Lakota,” said the chief executive of the Rosebud Sioux’s economic development agency. “It isn’t just about taking care of the land, or creating jobs, or feeding our people, or bringing back our culture; it is about all of those things.” The first animal harvested from the herd was used to feed homeless members of the community.

number three

Have you spent hours and sacrificed countless cookies trying to separate an Oreo evenly? It’s not your fault that perfection eludes you. Researchers at MIT built an Oreometer to twist apart Oreos with precise torque, aiming to shear off cream filling equally onto each wafer. They concluded that it’s not going to happen because of, you know, physics or something. Tough luck, MIT researchers. Have a cookie. You’ll feel better.

And one more ...

It pays to think positively. A long-term study that tracks 984 alumni from the University of Rochester has found that people who were optimistic 25 years ago have become slightly more optimistic; are more physically active than their peers; eat less unhealthy food; and feel greater purpose in life. The study also indicates that people can become more optimistic, so if you like the sound of these outcomes, you know what to do.