What makes a person be nice

I hadn’t thought too much about what makes a person be nice, although I do have to admit that sometimes I simply can’t understand why some people aren’t nicer to others. My natural reaction is to want to try to help people if possible, not because I’m some paragon of virtue (I’m not) but simply because it’s my natural reaction. It’s what both makes sense to me logically to do, and what emotionally I feel compelled to do.

That compulsion can have a range of how it manifests, which has in the past for me personally included things like carrying a first-aid kit in my trunk in case anyone ever needs it and then using it the time a woman was domestically assaulted in front of me and I wanted to stop her bleeding until the ambulance arrived, to smaller things like calling the energy company to report power outages even in areas that I don’t live or work just because I noticed it as I drove by, or panicking and running around trying to save and protect stray dogs, and to even smaller things like donating to charity when I can.

I mention these examples solely so you know what I mean about my “natural reaction” in case you might have imagined something different. I’m not saying those examples are something amazing or particularly nice, because to me it’s perfectly normal and I assume everyone else does the exact same thing. But I’m not sure if they do so I thought I should give some specifics. Also, I’m not labeling myself as being ‘nice’ but other people have called me that so I figured I could make a good example to use in explaining why this is interesting to me.

And to be even more clear that I’m not trying to claim anything stupid: The thing is, sometimes my compassion limit is reached and I just can’t with anything. I get really pissed off about some things if I find them to be morally ambiguous and hypocritical (I can deal with moral ambiguity on its own but I hate hypocrisy so that riles me up a lot), and sometimes I find myself being a dick to people because I’ve gotten so tired after dealing with things for so long that I just can’t couch everything in pleasant words with a polite smile anymore. Sometimes just no. I can’t. Sometimes I can’t laugh at things either (which is usually my defense mechanism) and sometimes I can’t translate it into a learning experience to try to make it positive. Sometimes I just need a break and I need to rant.

I mention that to explain that I’m not nice because I expect anything in return; I’m nice because there is simply no other logical or emotional option in my brain most of the time; but I’m also not always nice because sometimes I’m so worn down mentally I get frustrated with people and want to yell at them for being idiots rather than try to calmly discuss with them our differences.

Anyway, I’d never thought about why I’m this way and someone else is some other way, other than that I assumed their life experiences or whatever other situation caused that to happen. But I saw that there had been a 2012 study about a gene that contributes to people being more generous, and it turns out that it is also related to oxytocin.

Someday, I will probably do a post about oxytocin on its own because it is so awesome and fascinating to me… it’s called the “love drug”, “trust hormone” or “cuddle chemical” and I mentioned it as one of the neurobiological factors in the way a survivor might respond at the time of being raped, but it’s also related to a recent study that found that the neurobiological response between human parents and their human infants was very similar to the neurobiological response (in this case, a positive feedback loop) between humans and their dogs. Specifically domesticated dogs; not cats or even wolves raised since birth by humans. In other words, if you know someone who treats their dog like their child, that feeling may not be far from the truth as far as the hormone levels in their brain is concerned.

Oxytocin is also involved in the idea of whether someone’s nicer, because several genes were identified as controlling the function of oxytocin and vasopressin receptors. In less technical terms, oxytocin is what makes you feel love, and vasopressin is involved in regulation of social behavior (weirdly enough, has also been called the fidelity or monogamy gene). And this 2012 study found that people’s perceptions of the world (as a more or less threatening place) combined with these specific genes to predict generosity.

Here’s a quote from Michel Poulin, PhD, principal author of the 2012 study:

Study participants who found the world threatening were less likely to help others — unless they had versions of the receptor genes that are generally associated with niceness.

[These “nicer” versions of the genes] allow you to overcome feelings of the world being threatening and help other people in spite of those fears.

The fact that the genes predicted behavior only in combination with people’s experiences and feelings about the world isn’t surprising, because most connections between DNA and social behavior are complex. So, if one of your neighbors seems really generous, caring, civic-minded kind of person, while another seems more selfish, tight-fisted and not as interested in pitching in, their DNA may help explain why one of them is nicer than the other.

We aren’t saying we’ve found the niceness gene. But we have found a gene that makes a contribution. What I find so interesting is the fact that it only makes a contribution in the presence of certain feelings people have about the world around them.

Find the article here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120410093151.htm

And here’s a video about altruism that’s very interesting, because it looks at why and how it could have developed, evolutionarily speaking:

What is so interesting to me about this topic is that growing up I thought everyone would react exactly how I would in situations, but over time I found that wasn’t always the case. Sometimes people reacted the same way I did, and other times I seemed to be the only one doing it. I then thought that it probably indicated something was wrong with me but I didn’t care because it’s who I am so it’s fine. On the other hand, because it comes so naturally to me, I would sometimes judge other people for not being more kind when it seemed to me it wasn’t that difficult of a thing to do. I felt that they were very purposefully not being helpful or kind, or that there was some sort of factor I didn’t know such as maybe a mental illness or something else.

Now, I see that it’s possible it’s something else entirely: it may simply be in their DNA, the same as it is for me.

Finding the right bra: tips and information

For everyone with breasts: this is about finding the right bra for you (both size and style) and knowing your breast size/shape. This post, which may seem a bit random and personal, is because of a conversation on Facebook where I talked about a lot of this information, then realized maybe it would be good to share with others.

I saw this video a few years ago and it’s what made me first realize I had measured myself completely incorrectly– I recommend you watch it too:

If you don’t want to watch that video or even if you did already see it, here’s more information below.


Ok so, bras are weird. I was never educated on these things so there’s a LOT I didn’t know about before I decided to measure myself one day. I had no idea that for most of my life, I wore bras that were way smaller than I should have had.

What I found for myself was that as soon as I wore the correct size, it was so much more comfortable– and people kept telling me that they thought I’d lost weight or why did I look so good? When I told them it was just that I was wearing the correct bra size now, they were surprised. And doubtful that it would make such a difference, but it does.

My recommendations/tips:

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The calm to hide a storm

I wrote this on facebook but then realized I didn’t want to lose it, so I’m posting it here too.

Do you ever assess yourself as if looking from the outside, and wonder at pieces of you? For instance, I am weirdly calm in emergencies. I’m not the person running around freaking out; I’m the person who’s instantly identifying the problems so I can figure out the solutions. But that also means I probably seem heartless to other people in the first moments of being told someone is missing, or someone is in the hospital, or this person is sick, or that person was in an accident. I don’t freak out because you don’t know what will happen. It may be fine, it may not. All you can do is try to identify the ways to stack the cards in positivity’s favor.

But afterward– after I’m away from other people and the outcome is clear, that’s where I have that moment of release. Shuddering tears, perhaps, or sudden harsh breaths, like releases of all the air in my lungs at once, again, again, because I didn’t realize I was holding my breath, I didn’t realize how much I was controlling my body, until I knew I didn’t have to do it anymore.

I wonder, sometimes, where I develop these reactions. I think this part of me is because I never want to hurt or worry other people, and I want to help. So if I hear of something bad, I’m instantly trying to find the ways to fix it, or to help mitigate the disaster. I’m instantly aware that panic will only make it worse and will only scare everyone else more so I have to be as calm and strong as I can be, as casual or darkly humorous if needed, to keep everyone on task and distracted from all the ominous What If’s of the world. But even though I cut out the heart in the first moment, even though I go all brain, it doesn’t stop my heart from feeling in the background. And so, when I’m alone and I know it won’t hurt anyone, I let that fear or pain be acknowledged so the denial doesn’t become my own tragedy; my own self-prophetical pain.

I wonder what you’re supposed to do in those situations. And I wonder if, to others, my automatic reaction to shut off emotions and be calm is more comforting or frightening in the greater scheme of the world. Does it seem strange to them that someone who spends so much time talking and smiling and joking doesn’t seem to care about something bad happening, or does that inconsistency make them stop and reassess their own emotions? Am I helping or am I hindering, and in the end does it even matter? Because that is my automatic, instant reaction and I can’t change it. I don’t know if I would want to, even if I tried.

I think about these things sometimes, because psychology and human behavior is interesting to me, even when it’s my own reactions. Do you do the same?

ICoS AU HS drabble: Scene 6 – Detention

Lexington High School – Scene 6. Detention

“…and then I grabbed that motherfucker by the back of the head and beat his face into the wall until it was bloody as shit,” Cade concluded with a proud smirk.

“Because he called your brother out on being gay?” Seth asked idly.

“He called him a faggot. Faggot! Can you believe it?”

Seth’s laugh was harsh and mocking. “You call him that every night, dude. Seriously. Every night.

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ICoS AU HS drabble: Scene 5 – PE

Lexington High School, Scene 5. PE.

PE was probably the most worthless class in the history of all classes. Ryan was 110% sure of it. They stretched for exactly five minutes at the beginning of the period before lapsing into an unorganized game that resulted in 70% of the students wandering to the back of the gym to text, gossip, or harass each other.

But even so. Even so. Coach Ferguson gave him shit for his asthma.

“Stop being such a pussy, Freedman,” Doug snarled.

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ICoS AU HS drabble: Scene 3 – French Class

Scene 3. French Class

The bird had been hopping up and down the branch for twenty minutes. It took precisely five hops to the right, three back to the left, two to the right, and four back to the left to end up nearly where it had begun. Even after it flew away briefly, when it returned it did the exact same thing. Even when sitting still, its little head hardly stopped moving.

A perfectly choreographed chickadee.

Focusing on the cheerful bird was the only way Boyd kept his mind off the morass of despondency that had befallen him lately. It had been four days since Hsin had been suspended for attacking Mr. Carhart.

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ICoS AU HS drabble: Scene 2- The List

Lexington High School – Scene 2. The List (for members 100 and 101)

The crawl space above the ceiling tiles was surprisingly clean. Hsin had discovered the spot after studying the blueprints of the building when attempting to locate an adequate location to get lit during the school day. Previously, he’d just smoked under the bleachers or in the basement. But then Dean Archer found all of his hiding spots and started chasing him down. He got a little too physical with Hsin sometimes, grabbing arms and dragging him– It was certainly against regulations, but Hsin figured he’d deal with it by breaking a limb or two. It was like the guy wanted to end up hospitalized.

He exhaled slowly and watched as the small cavern filled with smoke. He hoped that it got out through the vents and everyone got messed up on a contact high. Mostly he just hoped that the school would blow up. Or that he had explosives to blow up the school. Or that everyone would commit ritualistic suicide while he and Boyd watched.

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