Saturday, May 7, 2016

Moms Should Celebrate Mother’s Day By Putting Their Own Minds First

What’s the best gift you could imagine receiving for Mother’s Day? Your kids delivering breakfast in bed? Your husband giving you a foot massage to express his gratitude for all you do to hold the family together?

I’m wired to wake up at 5:30 a.m., so waiting in bed a few hours with a growling stomach isn’t appealing. And foot massages have never been part of my Mother’s Day fantasy.

One year I just asked for everyone to simply not fight for the day. I think we went to an amusement park to facilitate this, even though roller coasters make me throw up.

Wake-up call: Life becomes a lot simpler once you discover the power of mindfulness to ensure your own happiness on Mother’s Day and every day.

What is Mindfulness?

Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk and founder of the meditation app Headspace, defines mindfulness as:

“The intention to be present in the here and now, fully engaged in whatever is happening, free from distraction or judgment, with a soft and open mind.”

I stumbled into mindfulness quite by accident while recovering from a mastectomy seven years ago. There’s nothing like cancer to bring the message home that life is happening right now and we’d better start paying attention.

I had spent the first several years of motherhood looking ahead to when “my life” would begin again, when everyone else didn’t need as much of my attention. Though I didn’t regret stepping off the career ladder to raise my kids when the nanny skipped town unexpectedly, I kept a tight little bundle of resentment buried inside me. I infected everyone else in the household with my self-inflicted stress.

The epiphany came when an audio book that I thought would help me with career planning turned out to be about how ego creates suffering in our lives. (The book was A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

Ego is what tells us to compare ourselves to others, to judge ourselves and others. Ego tells us that no matter how good life is, things could always be a little bit better. Ego either directs us to the past to tell us we’re victims or pushes us into the future to tell us things must be better one day.

Ego does whatever it can to hide the beauty of the present moment, because it would be put out of a job otherwise.

But here’s the kicker: ego isn’t our true essence. We don’t have to buy into it. By taking the steering wheel out of the hands of ego, the beauty of life in the present moment—the only time when anything real happens—opens up to us.

Why This Message Is so Important for Mothers

Let’s face it. As mothers we’re constantly judging ourselves, second-guessing ourselves, never feeling as though we’re doing enough or doing it well.

We keep our calendars full, always prioritizing everyone else in our lives. Our heads are packed so tightly with to-do lists and worries about future scenarios that we can’t hear ourselves think.

Mindfulness teaches us to step back, take a breath, and reconnect with the present moment.

Whether it was on an airplane or elsewhere, you’ve probably heard the advice to “Put on your oxygen mask first so that you can be most helpful to others.” A few minutes of stillness each day simply focusing on your breath, in meditation, or practicing other mindfulness techniques all serve as that oxygen mask.

Only in stillness can we untangle which thoughts are valuable and which aren’t serving us. With practice, we can shine a bright light on those bullying thoughts that stem from ego and simply let them float by without buying into them.

Mindfulness, and meditation in particular, is sort of like cleaning out your closet, getting rid of outdated clothes that aren’t flattering on you anymore. With practice, we learn to discard unflattering thoughts that make us unhappy.

7 Ways for Mothers to Reap the Benefits of Mindfulness

1. Carve out some time each day for stillness. It doesn’t have to long—even ten minutes a day is helpful. Frequency is more important than the length of time. It’s all about habit building.

2. Engage your senses in an enjoyable activity. Neuroscience has proven that multitasking is a myth—our brains can only do one thing at a time. When we’re focused on the feel, aroma, or sound of an experience, our racing thoughts dissolve. Gardening, exercise, and floral photography are my personal go-to sensory activities, but yours might be walking in the woods, painting, or any other activity that brings you to your senses.

3. Incorporate mindful moments into your day: instead of checking your phone as frequently, take 30 seconds for mindful breathing; instead of scanning tabloids in the grocery store line, breathe in some presence; instead of being angry at the traffic light for turning red, relax your hands on the steering wheel and focus on the sensory feel against your palms.

4. Give yourself permission to view self-care as essential to good parenting. Though your children’s path in life is ultimately outside of your full control (sorry, folks), the best you can do is model self-care practices that will hopefully influence them to cultivate their own healthy habits down the road.

5. Recognize that your energy, whether positive or negative, is contagious. Kids have enough of their own stress and drama to deal with. Our own presence and positive energy can help to ease their burden.

6. Take action where you can in the present moment and let go of what you can’t control. I promise you, life becomes a lot easier.

7. Pay attention to what brings you joy and do more of it. Mother’s Day is the perfect day to get quiet, listen to your heart’s whispers, and follow the path of inspiration.

Mindfulness helps us cultivate gratitude by noticing the beauty in life’s tiny details in the here and now. What better gift to give ourselves on Mother’s Day?

Because when Mama’s happy, everyone’s happy. Right?

Strangers Open Arms – And Doors – to Alberta’s Wildfire Evacuees

Michael Robinson Peter Edwards

They fled to campgrounds, work camps, hotels, school gyms, and the homes and backyards of strangers.

They brought dogs and babies and horses and little else besides the clothes they were wearing.

The evacuees of Fort McMurray were relieved to receive help from strangers nearby.

Ed Saunderson and his wife Sara have hosted close to 40 people, many of them unknown to them, at their home on the shores of Willow Lake since yesterday.

Despite their location 30 kilometers outside of the Fort McMurray, Saunderson told the Star’s Michael Robinson in Alberta that he was anxious over whether or not they too would be evacuated.
“I’ve got my staff, cousins . . . people I don’t even know are here,” he said. “They are inside the basement, the garage, in my fifth wheeler (mobile home).

“They are everywhere.”

The couple owns a plumbing and heating business downtown. When they heard about the evacuation, Saunderson urged his wife, Sara, to return home. She took the store’s staff with her, and others soon followed.

“I never anticipated anything like this,” he said. “But when people are in need, you have to help them,” he said. “It’s a moral issue . . if I can help ya, I’ll help ya.”

His wife said the couple also opened their doors to pets as well.

“We have had 8 dogs, 11 cats, a ferret, snake and even a bird showed up last night,” she said.

The house is facing water and fuel shortages.

“I don’t know how much longer we can stay here,” she said. “So many people have already lost so much, and we are hearing it is supposed to get worse and I am asking, how much . . . worse can it get.”

Scott Long of the Alberta Emergency Agency called it “Albertans supporting Albertans,” adding he has taken four people from Fort McMurray into his own residence.

Support came from big corporations and average citizens.

“Oil and gas have opened up a lot of its camps,” Long said.

Shell Canada and Syncrude have offered space in their northern Alberta camps for evacuees fleeing the wildfire that continues to burn through Fort McMurray.

“We’ve received tremendous support from communities across the province,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told an early afternoon press conference on Wednesday.

“When disaster strikes, we find solutions,” Notley said. “ . . . And we come out stronger on the other side.”

Notley noted that it was a tough drive out of Fort McMurray, but that evacuees are being welcomed at the end of their drives.

“Slowly, the congestion is thinning out and people are making their way to receiving communities,” Notley said.

They offered up pet-friendly locations and even room for horses.

Others mobilized to deliver water, foods, sunscreen, pet food and whatever else they thought Albertans on the roadways might want.

There were also efforts to connect strangers with missing family members.

There was an offer to give a ride to a woman and her horses who were photographed fleeing the blaze a ride.

One of the many Albertans reaching out to strangers was Char Remarchuk-Kaye of Leduc:

“My name is char, I live in spruce grove. I have gone and purchased a lot of toiletries, all are brand new and if you are in the area and need any of what you see, please contact me … I also, again, have room here in my house for anyone who needs it and animals and kids are welcomed. My heart is with you all”

Jazmyn Vogt and her family also reached out to help, offering camp grounds, showers and even trampoline access:

“Our acreage out by Onoway and Stony Plain is being opened up to the evacs of Fort Mac! We have tents and trailers coming! Kid friendly, pet friendly childcare is being offered as well, all free of charge! Trampoline sprinkler hot showers washer dryer kids clothing and adult clothing!!! If you or anyone you know or love is needing a place to stay please contact me!”

Megan Taylor of Sherwood organized things on Facebook, adding that it would be poor form to charge any money for helping out strangers in a time of need: “Accommodations: All those able to open up their homes, please post your info here. So we have one post with all the gathered info, so it is easy to access. Please don’t charge people money to stay with you, they have enough worries. Thank you for your kindness.”

The Shell camp is about 95 kilometers north of the flames.

Cameron Yost of Shell Canada said the operation’s camp could accommodate hundreds of evacuees.

Will Gibson, a spokesman for Syncrude, which has a plant about 35 kilometers north of town, was himself one of the evacuees heading north away from the flames.

Most of the evacuees have gone south, but some 10,000 of the 80,000 evacuees from the fire headed north, Notley said.

As the fire grew into a looming threat Sunday evening, there was no shortage of people volunteering to help at the Suncor Community Leisure Centre, which the municipality designated as the official evacuation centre.

“I want to give back to this community as much as I can because I love it here,” Keyano College social work student Kristen Brenton said in a Facebook message.

Best Canadian Motor Inns has also offered discounted rates to fire evacuees.

By late Tuesday, the Noralta Lodge north of Fort McMurray was already full and evacuees headed further north.

As news of the fire spread, offers of help filled social media.

The Edmonton’s Catholic school district offered evacuees space in its 90 schools.

The Hastings Lake community hall, which is about a half hour drive from Edmonton, offered its space and kitchen facilities for anyone fleeing the blaze, and noted on Facebook that pets are also welcome.

The fire was supposed to get worse on Wednesday before it gets better and First Nation communities in northern Alberta braced themselves for a second round of evacuations.

At the Fort McMurray First Nation #468, residents were warned to keep a full tank of gas, make sure the ringers on their phones are on and answer any knocks on their doors.

“This may be an issue for us if it keeps coming our way or if any fires start closer to our area,” a notice on the community’s web and Facebook pages says. “Please remember to keep enough gas in your vehicle to be able to make it to Lac La Biche or Grassland if we have to be evacuated. Leave your phone ringers on and answer your doors if you hear knocks. Keep in touch with family members and plan in case we need to be evacuated. Remember the five Ps of evacuation: People, Prescriptions, Papers, Personal Needs, Priceless Items like PICTURES.”

There have been no reports of fatalities or injuries as a result of the wildfire. Call Red Cross to register and find loved ones: 1-888-350-6070

#ymmfire #fortmacfire

Refugees Give Back To Host Country and Canadians Displaced by Wildfire

The same Syrian refugees who have been welcomed into Canada after fleeing their destroyed homeland are now giving back to Canadians whose own homes were recently destroyed.

All 88,000 citizens of Fort McMurray, Alberta have been evacuated under a state of emergency due to a raging wildfire consuming the landscape. The escaping families have fled north, essentially refugees now, seeking safety in cities like Calgary.

That’s where the Syrian Refugee Support Group is lending a helping hand.

The founders of the Facebook organization traveled around town asking every Syrian family to donate at least $5 to aid the city that opened its arms to them. The donations are being put towards toiletries and hygienic products for the Fort McMurray families.

The 1,400 Syrian refugees who’ve been settled in Calgary and around Alberta since November are contributing more than just money. Hampers of toys, clothes, food, provisions, and furniture that they received only months ago when arriving in North America are being donated back to the Canadians now in need.

“All the Syrians are saying, ‘I’m ready to give, I’m ready to give,’” said Saima Jamal, a co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group.

“Canadians have provided a lot to us,” said one Middle Eastern refugee. “Now it is our turn.”

Find out how you can help the displaced Canadians, and learn more about Syrian support, at the Calgary Herald.

Daily Inspirational Quote - May 7, 2016

“Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

I think this is one of those things that not many of us take the time to think about, i.e. just how major an impact our own attitudes have on, not only our lives, but the people who populate it. The brain is the “steering wheel” propelling us through life. So, doesn’t it make sense to use this the best way we can by ensuring that we are heading in the best and more advantageous direction for us? By discarding previously perhaps uncompromising or outdated beliefs we begin to alter the “road” we travel thus freeing us to reach a more hospitable and promising destination. Vroom, vroom!


How Imaginative Storytelling Expands Our Scope of the Possible

"We must always take sides," Elie Wiesel urged in his spectacular Nobel Prize acceptance speech. "Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." And yet part of the human tragedy is that despite our best intentions and our most ardent ideals, we often lull ourselves into neutrality in the face of injustice -- be it out of fear for our own stability, or lack of confidence in our ability to make a difference, or that most poisonous foible of the soul, the two-headed snake of cynicism and apathy. How, then, do we unmoor ourselves from a passivity we so masterfully rationalize, remember that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," and rise to that awareness with moral courage and imagination? That's what Ursula K. Le Guin examines in one of the many magnificent pieces in The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dog Wearing Life Jacket is Found Adrift in Vast Gulf of Mexico (WATCH)

This little Jack Russell terrier is lucky to be alive after floating for three hours on the choppy waves of the Gulf of Mexico.

Thanks to the animal life vest strapped to his body, Jagermeister was able to survive until strangers found and rescued him.

He was reported missing on Sunday from the docks at Hernando Beach, Florida. Two couples who were celebrating their birthdays reportedly saw the pooch bobbing on the sea like a buoy and scooped him up with a rescue.

“You just saw his little nose sticking up out of the water,” Shawn Sahr told WTVT-TV.
If they hadn’t noticed his orange vest, he might have been lost for good.

Is Grit the Key to Success?

By Jill Suttie

A new book extolls the power of passion and perseverance, but is the research strong enough?

West Point cadets endure a grueling level of physical exertion, emotional challenge, and social abuse. The standards for completing the training are high, as is the dropout rate.
According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, who has studied these cadets, what sets the graduates apart from those who don’t complete the training isn’t innate talent or intelligence, but grit: a combination of passion and perseverance that helps people transcend difficulty and succeed in attaining their goals.
Duckworth has studied grit for the last 10 years, looking at elite athletes, spelling bee champions, and others who are at the top of their game. She’s developed a grit scale by asking people things like how much they agree with the statement “I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge,” or “I finish whatever I begin.” Then, using this measurement of grit, she’s tried to show that grit predicts tenacity in reaching a goal and resilience in the face of disappointment.
In one study recounted in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Duckworth was asked to measure the grit levels of high school juniors from public schools in Chicago. A year later, 12 percent of those students failed to graduate. Analyses showed that those who graduated had scored higher in grit, and their grit score was a more powerful predictor of graduation “than how much students cared about school, how conscientious they were about their studies, and even how safe they felt at school.”
Duckworth believes that research like this shows that grit is critical to success, and being gifted or talented is not necessarily that important. “Our potential is one thing,” she writes. “What we do with it is another.” In study after study, and in interviews with many successful people, she recounts how having a purpose in life, being willing to work hard for it, and having some resilience when faced with setbacks are the keys to success.
In many ways, her message is a positive one, and her book is a fun read. We hear the voices of many who’ve succeeded in life and see how their stories illustrate her points. Her thesis also dovetails nicely with Carol Dweck’s, whose research has shown that children succeed when encouraged to have a growth mindset over a fixed mindset. In other words, effort matters. 
Still, some of the science recounted in the book seems thin, particularly given how few populations have been studied. Even more problematic, other ingredients for success are given short shrift.
For example, just after Duckworth outlines her formula for how one gets from talent to achievement—which involves effort at both ends—she mentions the role of social or environmental factors in success, too…but only in passing.
“Of course, your opportunities—for example, having a great coach or teacher—matter tremendously, too, and maybe more than anything about the individual,” she writes. But “my theory doesn’t address these outside forces, nor does it include luck.”
This is an important admission; but Duckworth leaves it unexamined. Instead, she plows on with her thesis, as if social supports like these are secondary, when some research has shown they are anything but.
And, there are other important points that get little attention. For example, in talking with a swimming coach, Duckworth is told that “the most accomplished swimmers almost invariably had parents who were interested in the sport and earned enough money to pay for coaching, travel to swim meets, and not the least important: access to a pool.” In other words, it took money and parents who were available to their kids to develop the elite athletes whose grit she applauds.
The book left me scratching my head at points. Does having grit really precede success or does success breed grit? How much of grit is just situation-dependent and not really a character trait? What are the impacts of things like inadequate schools, violent neighborhoods, poverty, or lackadaisical parenting on grit? To her credit, Duckworth admits that the research is still in its infancy, which is a plus. But when she makes recommendations to parents and schools anyway, it’s less so.
Interestingly, some recent research—no doubt published after the book was written—has found little to no connection between grit and academic success, which should give teachers and parents pause. Yet, Duckworth’s research has led to a growing movement to require grit testing in schools, as if the research on grit were sound and definitive. This makes some educators worry that grit is being used to blame kids for their failures—especially at-risk students—taking attention away from systemic problems in our educational system. Besides, it’s not yet clear that, even if grit were helpful, it can be taught.
While grit may indeed be a good thing, we do a disservice to students if we suggest it’s the number one thing they need to succeed. Instead of championing grit, perhaps Duckworth should consider more the role environmental factors play in student achievement. Providing students with exciting and challenging academic opportunities, teachers and mentors who are mindful and supportive, and schools where they feel safe to develop cognitive and emotional skills have all been shown to improve academic performance. It seems much more likely that pursuing these fixes will lead to better outcomes than trying to make students persevere without those supports.
So, before we start issuing grit exams, we may just need to take a deep breath and back off…at least until the science catches up. Perhaps doing that would give us time to reconsider something else: the legitimacy of our goals. It may be that, with more forethought, we decide that looking for ways to help West Point cadets better endure their abusive training is less important than transforming the training program to be less abusive.

Daily Inspirational Quote - May 6, 2016

“You create your thoughts. Your thoughts create your intentions, and your intentions create your reality.”

This makes sense! We do create our thoughts don’t we? So let’s each and every one of us, from this moment on, take a silent oath that every thought we have, we use to create the best intentions we possibly can, thus ensuring that our realities become what we want them to be and use these to the best of our abilities to shape and guide our future path through life. Who’s with me?


Yoo-Mi Lee: Giving the Gift of Time

Yoo-Mi Lee's family moved from Korea to Uganda. Six years later they immigrated to the Bronx. She was 12. Graduating from Cornell, she ended up by happenstance on Wall Street. Executing trades, glued to three video screens, working three phones and keeping up with the ticker tape, she was headed for a seat at George Soros' currency desk. Then she walked away from the world of Big Money. "I decided to give my time away. I thought I'd just feel so much better," says Yoo-Mi Lee. Read on for the story of a woman who made some very unusual choices -- and our world is the better for them.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Six of the Greatest Legends in Rock History to Gather for 3-Day Concert in October

A once-in-a-lifetime line-up of six of Rock and Roll’s most influential artists and bands will rock the California desert in October — with tickets going on sale Monday.

The Desert Trip concert will feature The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and The Who

The three-day concert takes place in Indio, California, October 7-9, at the Empire Polo Club — home to the Coachella music festival, whose organizers are behind the even — with two acts playing each of the three nights.

Tickets will be available starting on Monday, May 9 at 1:00 pm ET or 10:00 am PT at Prices start at $200 for a single day’s general admission to top of the line packages including meals by world class chefs or private safari tent camping.

Where Does Kindness Come From?

By Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas 

A new study fuses methods from several different branches of science to reveal the forces that shape kindness.

What’s behind your choice to help another human being? Are you motivated by sheer, unadulterated benevolence? Do you do it only if the cost is minimal, or the benefits great? Or are you hoping for a favor in return? Or is it about image—are you trying to avoid being tagged as selfish? Maybe you’re motivated by a higher sense of principle, trying to restore fairness?
Science has considered all of these questions. It might be a relief to hear that researchers have not figured out the formula for what makes people kind—but with a very ambitious new study, a pioneering team from Germany might have brought us one step closer to some answers.
Researchers Anne Böckler, Anita Tusche, and Tania Singer analyzed years of data about how contemplative practice—i.e., meditation—affects a slew of biological and behavioral measures (The ReSource Project). To investigate the facets and forces of kindness, they honed in on 329 study recruits who responded to questionnaires about empathy, kindness, and personality.
They also catalogued their behavior on computer-based and laboratory tasks designed to gauge kindness, self-interest (e.g., “game theoretical paradigms” and “hypothetical distribution tasks”), and performance on a suite of tasks measuring cognitive skill—all before anyone did anything for the meditation part of the study.
The uniqueness of their data lies in the way it bridges intellectual fields, drawing from psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics. This is valuable because existing scientific insight into human kindness is murky and disparate; findings from psychology may conflict with what economists observe or be wholly unfamiliar with neuroscience, largely because academic circles can be cliquish, and the concepts and frameworks that guide study design, data analysis, and interpretation are different. This team’s work aimed to establish a rigorous, consensus framework for thinking about human kindness, which scientists often call “prosocial behavior.”
To figure this out, they put all of the measures from half of the people in their study into a big numerical “melting pot.” Then, they ran a statistical test called exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to see which measures tended to group or “hang” together. For example, would people with high scores on the self-report Machiavellianism scale (who are callous, selfish, hubristic) also make more selfish than mutually profitable choices when given both options? (The answer to that question is yes, in case you’re wondering.)
Their EFA spit out four categories, or factors, that best organized all of their measures of human kindness:
  • Genuine kindness (benevolence)
  • Strategic kindness (maximizing gain and avoiding cost or loss)
  • Norm-motivated kindness (reciprocity, helping—and punishing—to uphold fairness)
  • Self-reported kindness
The upshot? We’re all inclined towards genuine kindness to different degrees, partly as a function of how we generally feel—and perhaps surprisingly, how smart we are. Beyond genuine kindness, other kinds of kindness are influenced by age, sex, income—and whether or not we have children. By the way, their analyses do not reveal whether one person is more or less kind than another. Rather, they tell a story about where people’s kindness—however scant or abundant—is coming from. That said, here’s are the factors that matter the most in shaping kindness.
Feelings. How we generally feel—that is, whether we’d characterize ourselves as having more positive or negative feelings in life—influences our tendency towards genuine kindness. For example, having a lower tendency to experience negative emotions is associated with more genuine kindness. In other words, if you’re not often in a bad mood, you’re more likely to behave kindly in an unrequited way. This is consistent with a rich literature on the barriers that personal distress can pose to social attunement and connection—and, in turn, kindness. There’s also an interesting nuance: People who rate themselves more emotionally positive show higher scores on the self-reported kindness factor, but not genuine kindness. So generally feeling good makes it easier to see yourself as a kind person, but that self-image doesn’t necessarily mean you actually do genuinely kind things.
Intelligence. People who scored higher on a battery of cognitive, attention, and IQ tests also tended to be more genuinely kind—but no more, or less, likely to exhibit kindness based on strategic or norm-motivated concerns. Nor did they describe themselves as more kind. This challenges a popular assumption that greater intelligence is associated with more scrutinizing cost-benefit analysis or deliberation of fairness in decisions to be or not to be kind. People with lower intelligence scores were just as likely to take cost-benefit analysis, reciprocity, or reputation into consideration while being kind. Like low negativity, scoring higher in intelligence was linked to being kind just for the sake of kindness.
Age, money, family, and sex. It turns out that demographic factors also influence kindness, according to this study. As people get older, genuine kindness falls. So does norm-motivated kindness. This doesn’t mean that older people are chronically less kind. It just suggests that they may be less concerned with reciprocity, fairness, and reputation—and their kindness hinges more on considering costs and benefits.
The researchers observed a similar pattern for monthly income: As income increased, genuine kindness fell, which is consistent with a growing literature on the harmful effects on inequality on the privileged. Strategic kindness also went down with increasing income; perhaps tracking the costs and benefits of fairly meager earnings from research study games is not worth the effort to wealthy participants? Norm-motivated kindness, however, did not fall or increase with rising income, which suggests social norms of reciprocity and fairness may not change much in relation to social class. Lastly, the data show that higher-income people see themselves as more discriminating with their kindness. Is this perhaps related to their lesser propensity for genuine kindness? These data can’t say for sure.
When it came to family, people who were parents also scored lower on genuine kindness, while showing no differences on any of the other kindness factors. Are the lives of parents too structured and harried to allow genuine kindness to flourish? Again, only subsequent research will tell. As might be predicted by common gender stereotypes, women scored higher in self-reported kindness. This sex difference, however, did not play out for genuinely kind behavior, which was actually more common in men.
After the EFA and correlations summarized above, Böckler, Tusche, and Singer ran a second, confirmatory factor analysis. For this, they fed the rest of their data (measures from the other half of the people they recruited) into their initial four-factor kindness model. This analysis replicated their breakdown of kindness, and showed the same patterns between emotional style, intellect, and demographic variables and the strength of each factor for different people’s kindness.
This study is important because it begins to systematically chart out the mental and behavioral underpinnings and contextual parameters of human kindness, to provide a theoretical blueprint for the growing community of research converging on age-old issues concerning human goodness and survival.
“In times of global crises like the climate, financial, and refugee crisis, the matter of changing human prosocial behavior to move toward global responsibility is certainly a pressing one,” write the authors. A more sophisticated scientific understanding of where human kindness comes from is the critical first step to figuring out how to strengthen it. We all know it makes us feel good!

Daily Inspirational Quote - May 5, 2016

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

I’m sure we have all, at one time or another, had a failed relationship, an unfulfilled dream, a disappointment etc. At the time it usually feels like the end of the world doesn’t it? We tell ourselves we will never love that way again. That’s it, no more dreams. I’m not willing to risk another disappointment…. The amazing thing though is that most of us find, as time passes, our memories change and we are able to look back and, with hindsight, realize whatever happened in fact opened up another, better, opportunity for us. We are then able to allow ourselves a smile in recollection and give thanks that, although it pained us at the time, things actually turned out for the best.


The Strange Beautiful Side of Death

--by Leah Pearlman, syndicated from

"Its no surprise to anyone who knows my family well (or perhaps anyone who has a teenage daughter themselves) that growing up, my mom and I had a strained relationship. 

Simply put, she insisted that I sit at the table for dinner, go to bed at nine, periodically clean my room and go to church. She ran the whole house, had a full time job, and was frequently stressed. My dad, on the other hand, seemed totally relaxed to my child eyes. He would secretly take me for donuts before school, or McDonalds after. He would let me stay up late when mom was gone. He cracked hilarious jokes with waiters, librarians, flight attendants, and everyone else, which both delighted and embarrassed me. 

I was a total daddy's girl."

I still don’t know why this meant I had to push against my mom so hard, but I did. So much of my “becoming” involved push, push, and more push. I was boundaried, defensive, critical, closed. And I was usually harsh about all of it. The fastest way for me to resist doing something was if my mom asked me to do it. I was so desperate for my independence that I built walls about a mile high and a mile in every direction. Plus thorns. Plus moats. Plus crocodiles (with fangs).

Sometime in college, when distance gave me the space the walls had meant to create, I began to take them down; brick by tedious brick. I wish I could say it was for my mom’s sake, or even for my dad who asked me frequently to be nicer. But it was for my own sake. I knew that my mom loved me, and I knew that I loved her too. It felt absolutely terrible to be jerk to her. But jerk is exactly what I was, because the things that came out of my mouth jerked out faster than I had any control over. I’d had a decade of practice at that point, which, In Malcolm Gladwell terms, made me a master jerk.

Throughout my twenties, she and I steadily but incredibly slowly began healing our relationship. Imagine two ancient turtles moving toward each other from opposite sides of the country…in slow motion. Actually, the reality was probably that I was the slow motion turtle and my mom was patiently waiting, as she always had, for something to change.

And then, something did change. My dad died.

Until that happened, I couldn’t imagine anything worse. Besides all the other ways I would miss him, what would it be like at home? What would my mom and I do? What would we have to talk about? It had always been the three of us, I’d made sure of it. His presence always made things so much more comfortable for me.

I mean, he and I had everything in common, and she and I were so different…right?

Well it was awkward at first. But at least she and I liked the same kinds of restaurants and the same kind of food. My dad had often complained about those things.

We also both enjoyed traveling, so we took a few trips together. My dad had always found traveling a chore so bringing him along could be like dragging extra luggage. It was sort of nice, to be just the two of us.

Around that time, I started learning to cook, so I would call my mom every now and then for a recipe, or advice about how to make something. She always had the answer.

Together, we brainstormed what to do with a lot of my dad’s stuff. He was a collector. He kept everything. She and I, on the other hand, love to live light, getting rid of things we no longer need.

And suddenly, really, suddenly, it occurred to me: I AM SO MUCH LIKE MY MOM.

When had this happened? Had it always been true, and I hadn’t noticed? Had I been changing? Had something shifted when he died? Yes. Yes. And Yes.

For my whole life, I had believed a story that I was way more like my dad than my mom. Because I believed it, I would see the evidence to support it, and even create new evidence to reinforce it. But when he was gone, and I no longer had him to impress or constantly try to align with, I started opening up whole other parts of myself I had been ignoring, repressing, or denying, because they did not match my story of who I thought I was.

Growing up, I loved my dad as much or more than any child could, I’m very sure of that. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of that for anything in the whole world. And yet, now that he’s gone, it’s like I get a whole new favorite parent to take his place.

Now, three years later, my mom and I have just about everything in common. How we travel, how we love, what we wear, how we exercise, our relationship with food, art, play, and spirituality, gratitude, friendships, and family, how social we are, and how introverted, how much we love to learn, and get things done, how we treat ourselves, and relax well. It’s like every seed she ever planted in me just took 30 years to sprout, and now I honestly don’t know how I could be any MORE like her.

And wouldn’t you know, this all is happening at the same time I am truly falling in love with who I am. Coincidence? Doubt it.

Recently, a new friend asked me how my mom and I get along. I hesitated for a moment, and then said with finality, “GREAT.” It was the first time I’d ever answered that way; the old stories, of “strained” or “we’re working on it” or “getting better”, officially retired. I told him that too, how it was the first time I’d ever answered that way. I suppose I felt guilty that something so positive came out of my dad’s death.

“Way to go, dad!” My new friend said, “Getting things right, even in death.”