With the recent 2016 presidential election finally coming to a close, America seems more divided than ever. A business magnate claiming to be “anti-establishment” is set to be our new president; a decision that has left many people scratching their heads, wondering what the hell is going on with the country.

Ask any American what kind of government is best and they’ll likely tell you “Democracy! It’s the best governing system in the world.” It’s a sentiment that has been drilled into our brains since we were little kids. Meritocracy reigns supreme and you get back what you put in. But, what if I told you that America isn’t actually a democracy? Would you be upset? Would it rub you the wrong way to learn that it’s really an oligarchy ran by a few powerful groups of people?

Because that’s exactly what one study conducted by the University of Princeton and Northwestern University discovered after analyzing extensive policy data ranging from 1981 to 2002.

The report, titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens,” looked at almost 1,800 U.S. policies put in place over that 20-year time period, comparing them to the preferences expressed by average Americans (50th percentile of income), wealthy Americans (90th percentile of income), and special interests groups. What did they find? America is highly influenced and controlled by the economic elite.

The peer-reviewed study confirms what many of us have known for years and is set to be taught in universities around the country, as it maintains that “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."

Furthermore, researchers all agreed that American government policies very rarely represent the preferences of the majority of the people who live in the country, as they typically favor corporate lobbyists and special interests groups.

"When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it."

They did find that the politics of average Americans and affluent Americans coincided occasionally, but that this wasn’t representative of anything, as the average American’s interests being served occurred exclusively when they also served the richest 10% of the population.

This study comes in light of record-low approval ratings of the United States Congress, as well as the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court case that got rid of campaign-contribution limits.

h/t Business Insider

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It's Official: Researchers Say We Should Only Be Working 4 Days a Week

Those of us who have had, or currently have, a 9 to 5 job know incredibly well that the 3 o’clock crash is a very real thing. So many people work hard all morning only to find themselves bored, burnt out and killing time for the last two or three hours of the day until they’re off. Yet, people continue to crank out 60-70 hour work weeks.

K. Anders Ericsson, a prominent scientist in the field of work psychology, has done the experiments and says that most people are only capable of doing about 4 to 5 hours of work that is actually productive. Once they reach their productive “limit,” they become less productive and less focused.

"If you’re pushing people well beyond the time they can really concentrate maximally, you’re very likely to get them to acquire some bad habits. What’s worse, those bad habits could end up spilling into the time people are normally productive," Ericsson says.

CEO of Treehouse, Ryan Carson, decided to test this theory about ten years ago in 2006. He put in place a 32-hour work week and hasn’t gone back since. His employees are not only happier, but much more productive. This resonates with Ericsson’s findings that shorter work weeks helped boost productive output, worker retention, and overall personal and professional happiness.

The idea has also been tested in a school environment, as 4th and 5th grade students in Colorado were part of an experiment that saw their school week drop from five days to four. The results? Reading and math scores for the 4-day school week students went up by 6 percent and 12 percent when compared to students in the traditional 5-day school week.

"I think the idea that children will be fully concentrating during all their classes is unreasonable," Ericsson explains.

Much of the evidence suggests that simply finding new ways to redistribute the workload over the week can have major benefits for both schools and professional work environments. Many places have already begun doing so by offering their employees four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. This not only gives people an extra day off, but also allows them a greater chance of avoiding rush hour traffic.

What do you think? Would you prefer a 4-day work week?

h/t BrightSide

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Photos: Stray Miniature Schnauzer is Taken in by Monastery, Becomes a Monk

It’s not everyday you see a miniature schnauzer dressed up like a monk. The adorable pup you see here is Friar Bigotón (Friar Moustache), and he’s the newest member of St. Francis Monastery located in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Friar Moustache was once a stray dog wandering the streets until he was taken in by the kind monks at the monastery.

“His life is all about playing and running,” says fellow friar Jorge Fernandez. “Here, all of the brothers love him very much. He is a creature of God.”

Friar Moustache was even given a special ‘habit’ to wear around the monastery, denoting his status as a friar like the other monks. He can be seen regularly attending to his chores around the monastery, which includes giving sermons to the fish.

“If only all the churches of our country [would] adopt a dog and care for him like Friar Bigotón,” writes local animal rescue, Proyecto Narices Frías (Cold Nose Project). “We are sure that the parishioners would follow his example.”

How cute is this little monk dog?

Please share with friends and family who would love to see Friar Moustache’s new home at the monastery!

h/t BoredPanda

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5 Photos Showing Strange Things Happen When Bookstore Employees Are Bored

People tend to get creative when they’re bored and need to entertain themselves. Like the good folks at the Librairie Mollat in France, who actually started an Instagram page dedicated to their new favorite pastime: finding books that match up perfectly with their patrons’ faces and bodies.

We can see just how good they’ve gotten at pairing the right faces with the right books--the result being something that is different, yet still artful in its own capacity. Not to mention, it’s kind of hilarious and unsettling at the same time.

Perhaps even cooler is the fact that this particular bookstore was the first independent bookstore to open in Bordeaux, France, in 1896. Its employees are clearly set on only furthering its reputation of independence.

Check out the pictures here, let us know which ones are your favorite, and then head over to their Instagram account to see more!

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h/t Bored Panda

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3 Things You Need to Know About High-Functioning Depression

Depression is a very complex mental condition that affects everyone differently. Those of us who have suffered from depression before know just how insufferable it truly is.

For some, the condition is just like many people believe it to be: feeling apathetic towards everything, feeling fatigued and unmotivated, crying, avoiding people and friends, etc. For many others, depression hides behind a happy face and a well-to-do attitude--masks that cover up any trace of unhappiness.

These people are suffering from high-functioning depression. And it’s important to know the difference.

High-functioning versus low-functioning depression

Unlike people with low-functioning depression who struggle to get out of bed or even take a shower, high-functioning depression is when a person is seemingly quite well on the outside, but on the inside they are consumed by sadness.

Professor of psychiatry Carol Landau says that she typically sees high-functioning depression in people who have relatively good (or even enviable) lives who have achieved a lot.

"People often say being high-functioning is better than being low-functioning, but that’s not really true because the most important thing is for a depressed person to get help — which a high-functioning person is limiting herself from," Landau says.

It’s often kept hidden because of the stigma surrounding it

So many people in the world today live with high-functioning depression. Some have been doing it for almost all of their lives without anyone ever noticing. One of the main reasons this is has to do with the negative stigma surrounding depression as a mental health condition.

Have you ever told someone you’re depressed and they ask why you can’t just be happy? Or why can’t you just stop being depressed? Depression is a largely misunderstood condition and people automatically become uneasy when you tell them about how lifeless you feel inside and how nothing changes it.

Landau says she sees it a lot in women because of their need “to be caregivers,” something that contradicts them “admitting [that they] need help.”

Learning how to recognize depression

”You might have a friend who is cranky all the time, or who people think of as a “bitch,“ but inwardly that person is really struggling. Other subtle signs to look for: ironic or morose jokes or often seeming out of it. For me, it was irritability,” explains Landau, describing how depression can manifest in a person differently than we tend to believe.

If you think someone you know or love is battling with depression, the best ways to reach out are by asking simple questions, like “How are you doing right now?” followed up with neutral phrases like “you seem kind of out of it lately” or “you don’t seem like yourself.” People with depression often just want you to listen to them.

If you feel that it’s a good time to offer suggestions or advice, come prepared with recommendations for a therapist or something that might help them get out of their head-space. But, be prepared for them not wanting your help or to leave their depressive comfort. Many people will take it the wrong way when you suggest them seeking out help.

“There are so many different types of therapists, medications, apps, and other tools. That’s why it’s tragic that so many people don’t seek help.”

Mental health is something many of us take for granted until our own begins to decline or suffer. It’s a terrible feeling and one that is hard to shake. If you’re depressed, do not be afraid to reach out for help. If you think someone might be depressed, listen to what they have to say and see if you can help.

Above all else, we must take care of each other.

h/t Brightside

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