Blowing my mind lately.

Blowing my mind lately.

Quick hits on recent discoveries that have made me stop and stare:

1. Caffeine boosts extroverts’ performance but hinders introverts’ productivity, leaving them shaky and overstimulated. Adam Grant mentioned this tangentially in a recent episode of Dan Pink’s Office Hours (one of my favorite podcasts). I had never heard that before, but a little googling confirmed this is 1. sad but true, and 2. old news.

Related: I’m an introvert (and an HSP, which I’m sure magnifies the effect) and had to give up my daily dose of caffeine a few years ago when I lost all my caffeine tolerance overnight. I’m still a little sad about it, because decaf coffee options are sparse.


2. If you live near a park, you’re more likely to be happy. Living in a treed area makes a “significant and sizable” difference in the amount of anxiety, stress, and depression people experience. The magnitude of the difference surprised me: green space’s positive effect is similar to being employed, and greater than having health insurance.

(I’m an urban planning dork, so I was happy to see this study. But I also have skin in this game, since we just moved within a couple blocks of a major park system.)

3. More on design: we rotated the sofa 90º in the living room and now everybody wants to sit on it. What would Christopher Alexander say about that? (I suspect we created pattern 185: a sitting circle.)

4. That Tegan and Sara song I’ve had stuck in my head all summer is the anthem of Bricksburg’s brainwashed residents in the Lego movie. When I first heard the song, I thought it was silly. (“Lost my job, it’s a new opportunity / More free time for my awesome community.” “A Nobel Prize, a piece of string / You know what’s awesome? Everything!”) 

We finally saw the movie last weekend, and I realized it was more than a cute pop parody. Context matters. Now to explain that to my kids….

hokey pokey

5. My kids did not know how to hokey pokey. This came to light at my dad’s retirement party (yep, the same one I talked about in the latest newsletter). Have no fear: the situation has been remedied.

Got any recent mind-blowing discoveries? I’d love to hear about them in comments. 

Linking up with Emily Freeman for what I learned in July.

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38 comments | Comment


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  1. Catie says:

    I gave up coffee after I had Baby #3 and you are right–it is SO hard to find a good decaf! I’m back to the full-strength stuff now again, but I noticed that when I wasn’t drinking it, I woke up less groggy and didn’t want to fall asleep at about 4pm everyday! I really want to go back to decaf, but the fact that pickin’s are slim is preventing me from doing it. 🙁 I. just. love. coffee.

    Do you have before and after pics of the sofa? 🙂 Is that a weird question?!

    Love the pics of you and your little one. So sweet.

  2. Cheryl says:

    About those trees…we have a farm that we don’t yet live at. We’ve acquired the land in stages, and this last purchase included both sides of a creek with the most amazing trees. I just go down there and marvel that God could possibly let me care for these beautiful trees: oaks that are 250-300 years old, huge towering poplars, even some very old hickories. Just walking out there makes me feel more peaceful and centered.

    We are in the design phase of building a house out there. I need to check out that architecture book. One fun book that we picked up recently is “101 things I learned in architecture school” by Matthew Frederick. It has been useful to us for clarifying why the spaces we like feel good, so that we can do a better job of creating those spaces in our new farmhouse.

  3. Leanne says:

    That caffeine/introvert study is really fascinating- I’ll have to look it up. I wonder if they studied a range of introverts, or just focused on people who had introvert jobs? I’m an introvert in an extravert job (teaching) and I need the coffee!

  4. Deanna says:

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I tear up at the end of The Lego Movie. There’s something about “You don’t have to be the bad guy” that puts me right over the edge. Silly bit true.

  5. EricaM says:

    I have found I tend to get the coffee jitters quicker than other people, but I have to have my coffee in the morning. I *can* function without it, but it takes me longer to get going.

    As for the trees, when I went to visit my hometown in Virginia, I came home feeling refreshed (even though it was for a funeral). It’s a very rural area in the Appalachians, and I think my husband is starting to realize that when I say I want to live in the country, I really mean it. XD

  6. Tim says:

    I know that caffeine and trees items are true for me, Anne. They work at odds sometimes though. There are wonderful trees out front of the courthouse and sometimes I walk under them mid day if I have a break. The thing is, I’m usually walking under them as I head to the coffee house across the street.

    On teaching people the hokey pokey, you could show your kids how I do it.


  7. Corby says:

    Okay now it’s my head for the day….Everything is Awesome when you’re part of a team…. Okay introverts unite let’s start campaigning for better decaf options. And to make my search harder, I prefer whole bean to pre-ground. I have to say that study tendency to procrastinate.

    But hey I’m warding off dementia by knitting…yep knitting helps get the brain healthy

  8. Leah says:

    The coffee study is VERY interesting! I’m definitely an introvert (though I’ve been steadily coming out of my shell over the past few years) and definitely need that extra shot sometimes. Another commenter mentioned the role of the workplace. There’s no doubt in my mind that my job plays a part!

    The tree article makes perfect sense to me. I was raised in the country and feel far happier and calmer when I’m surrounded by giant, shady trees. My boyfriend grew up in the heart of a city and just doesn’t get it. 🙂 Love that there’s now scientific evidence to back me up!

  9. Anne says:

    My library alliance doesn’t show a copy of the Alexander book. I’m surprised! And I totally believe the park thing. We’re still looking at houses, and the houses with decent stretches of green grass….oh, man. It’s, like, serenity now.

    The only thing that I can think of that blew my mind this month: The Word on Fire blog printed an essay by Joe Heschmeyer, attorney-turned-seminarian-in-Rome, entitled Demons, Playing Cards, and Telescopes. They shared it on FB (where I saw it), and I followed it to the account of the 2012 Indianapolis exorcism. Heavy content to share on your lovely blog but holy cow.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I am an introvert and an LSNF (according to your coffee personality that you linked to) so apparently I have a very tragic relationship with coffee. N because I have three terrible sleepers – er, lovely children – under five; F because anything more than a cup makes me jittery and gives me headaches. I think I may need to experiment with decaf. Do you have any brand recommendations?

    • Anne says:

      I haven’t found any national brand decaf I love, unfortunately. (At least not that’s available as whole bean—the options are so slim!) We have a couple of local roasters here in Louisville that do a decent decaf. Sunergos is my favorite here.

  11. Rachel says:

    Very interesting about the caffeine tolerance! I was just talking to my husband a few days ago about how I always feel awful when I drink caffeine (shaky and emotional and sort of nauseous) (I’m also veeeery introverted) and he (a serious extrovert) just about had his mind blown as he feels great with caffeine in his system. Nice to know there’s some reasoning behind it!

  12. Ana says:

    My husband watched the Lego Movie with my boys when I was away, and all 3 of them have been singing that song…its hilarious when my 2 year old belts it out. I didn’t know it was a real song. I heard that caffeine thing a while ago. I have my one small cup of coffee early each morning. anything more (or later in the day) and I’m a jittery mess (and can’t sleep at night). But if I miss that one little cup…I feel it. My husband (only a little more extroverted than me, i.e. not much) drinks it constantly and LOVES the feeling. I also have some introvert friends who drink it constantly. I’m not sure I buy it…

    • Anne says:

      I definitely don’t buy the introvert/coffee thing as a blanket theory, but I believe it could be a factor. (If I had to guess I would say the HSP factor is much greater than introvert/extrovert.)

  13. Steph says:

    That caffeine study is fascinating. I actually don’t like coffee but since having kids I’ve found that even a very occasional pop can make me jittery and anxious. Oh well, it’s so bad for me anyway…

  14. Kerri says:

    I never comment, but I just want to say that I love your blog! (Also, where did you get your skinny jeans? They look like they fit really well.)

  15. Liz says:

    I thought we had way too much in common already (Episcopalian, own the same red P&P copy, have brown hair with bangs, tried out the rainbow book shelf…I could go on), but it’s hilarious that you say you’re an urban planning dork because that’s my job! I spend my days being a land use junkie, so when you write a book about balance, I’m also reading it through the lens of how to balance being efficient with making the best decisions for the community. THIS is why I love virtual friends!

  16. Jeannie says:

    I was very interested in the idea of parks relating to happiness. We have a small park (with playground) in the middle of our circle street, another big one 2 blocks away, a “flower park” 3 blocks away, and a huge park with wading pool, playground, baseball field etc. about 8 blocks away. That makes us at least as happy as Pharrell Williams!

  17. lifeinoregon says:

    I’m also an introvert and a HSP and I had to give up coffee about 2.5 years ago. I still miss it dreadfully! But every time I have started drinking it again (even decaf!) I have major reactions to it, either anxiety or depression or other similar difficulties. My body just can’t handle the overstimulation.

  18. Alyssa says:

    For anyone looking for a great decaf, please check out our family business at We have a fair trade organic decaf and free shipping. We are a small roaster in Oregon. My husband started the business with our homeschooled teenagers and they do all the customer service, web design, ordering, packaging etc. We have a lot of yummy regular coffees and also and they will arrive very fresh– shipping is free right now. I hope it’s ok to share on here– I am a long time reader and also an introverted decaf drinker! (Anne, let me know if you would like a free sample)

  19. The coffee thing is interesting! I think that further convinces me I’m still an extrovert. (Although also HSP. I wonder how many of us there are-?)
    And the hokey pokey? Such a cute pic. For some reason, it’s always been one of my diaper-changing songs, so I’m guessing my kids won’t ever be in your kids’ boat ;).

  20. Kathleen says:

    That’s so interesting about the caffeine, but I’m an introvert and it definitely affects me positively. I can’t have too much though – so maybe that’s part of it? But after one cup of coffee in the morning I am super happy and productive.

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