Saturday, August 27, 2016

Daily Inspirational Quote for August 27, 2016

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

Exactly! Think about it. Life is made up of our reactions. Our reactions to our thoughts, actions, situations, people, places, etc. etc. etc. We all react and respond differently to what and who we encounter each and every day of our lives and this is what makes us the wonderful individuals we are. Each response is as unique as we are, and this is what differentiates each of us from everybody else sharing our beautiful Earth. How special is that?


Altruism is Sexy

By Tom Jacobs

In a new study, a kind heart trumps good looks—but the combination of both is the most desirable of all.

What does a woman want in a man? The question has long baffled many single males, leading some to bitterly conclude that handsome guys have an insurmountable advantage.
Not so, concludes a newly published study. It shows women do indeed find good-looking men desirable—but if they have to choose, they’ll probably pick the altruistic guy over the hunk.
The results provide “further evidence of the importance of altruism in women’s mate choice preferences,” a research team led by the University of Worcester’s Daniel Farrelly writes in the journal Evolutionary Psychology. It confirms that selflessness is “a highly important characteristic trait women look for in long-term partners.”
The study featured 202 straight women recruited online, most of whom were in their early 20s. They looked at 12 sets of photographs, each of which showed the faces of two men—one handsome, the other much less so.
The images were accompanied by scenarios, eight of which described situations where altruism—or its absence—played a key role. One typical scenario read as follows: “Two people are walking through a busy town, and notice a homeless person sitting near a cafe. Person E decides to go into the cafe to buy a sandwich and a cup of tea to give to the homeless person outside. Person F pretends to use his mobile phone and walks straight past the homeless person.”
The altruistic behavior was ascribed to the handsome man in some scenarios, and the not-so-handsome man in others. In still others, neutral behavior was attributed to both, allowing researchers to determine the importance of looks when the guys were described in similar terms.
After scanning the photos and reading the scenarios, the women rated (on a one-to-five scale) how attractive they found each man, for both a brief affair or a committed romantic relationship.
“Individuals who displayed high levels of altruism were rated significantly more desirable overall,” the researchers write. While the self-absorbed guys were viewed as more attractive candidates for a one-night stand—suggesting a night with a “bad boy” retains its short-term appeal—altruistic guys were rated as “more desirable for long-term relationships.”
“Men who were just altruistic were rated as more desirable than men who were just attractive,” Farrelly and his colleagues add. “If a man possesses only one of those traits, it is altruism that is more valuable.”
What’s more, “being both attractive and altruistic made a man more desirable than just the sum of the two desirable parts,” the researchers report. A handsome guy volunteering at a soup kitchen will catch a lot of women’s eyes.
This research is consistent with a German study from last year, which found engaging in altruistic behavior increases the odds you’ll find a romantic partner the following year.
This latest research also offers encouraging news to all those bitter guys on the Internet whose resentment toward women stems from romantic rejection: Maybe you’re not being turned down because of your looks, but because of your attitude.
Instead of wasting time writing nasty comments, why not help someone in need? You might find you’re more attractive than you realized.
This article originally appeared in Pacific Standard magazine, which tells stories across print and digital platforms about society’s biggest problems, both established and emerging, and the people attempting to solve them.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Newly Discovered Earth-Like Planet is Possibly Habitable

Scientists announced yesterday that the star closest to the Sun has a planet similar to the Earth – which also makes it the closest possibly-habitable alien planet ever found.

Recent observations confirmed that this planet not only exists, but inhabits a zone where its surface temperature could allow liquid water, a key ingredient for life on Earth.

It is not yet known if this planet, Proxima b, has any life. Even if it does not, its potential ability to sustain liquid water might make it a good first hop for humanity’s future trips out into the Milky Way Galaxy.

Although the planet’s parent star, Proxima Centauri, is cooler and redder than our Sun, one of the other two stars in the Alpha Centauri star system is very similar to our Sun. The featured image shows the sky location of Proxima Centauri in southern skies behind the telescope that made many of the discovery observations: ESO’s 3.6-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile.

The discovered planet orbits close in — so close, in fact, that one year there takes only 11 days on Earth.

The planet was discovered by the ESO’s Pale Red Dot collaboration. Although seemingly unlikely, if Proxima b does have intelligent life, at 4.25 light years distance it is close enough to Earth for two-way communication.

Daily Inspirational Quote for August 26, 2016

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

Human nature can be guilty of letting us down occasionally. By that, I mean we can all tend to doubt ourselves and our abilities, or what we perceive to be our lack of abilities. Actually, the trick here is to trust that we know much, much more than we think we do. Lack of trust in ourselves does us no favors whatsoever so why do we allow it this power over us? Exactly! I don’t know either. So let’s agree that, from now on, we all strive to believe in our own powers okay?


The Power of Forgiveness at Work

By Brooke Deterline

Ever carry a grudge or harbor revenge fantasies about a colleague or boss? It’s likely costing you and your workplace.

Over the last two decades, much research has been published about the positive impact of forgiveness, particularly on the forgiver and in relationships. Now, a new study—building on a smaller but growing body of research in the workplace—supports the power of forgiveness to potentially improve well-being and productivity in professional settings.
Conflict among colleagues is inevitable, and—left unheeded—associated with significant stress, health problems (both mental and physical), and poor productivity.  Researchers set out to explore the role of forgiveness in ameliorating these negative impacts.
The participants—more than 200 employees working in office jobs in Washington, DC, or manufacturing jobs in the Midwest—responded to questionnaires about their levels of forgiveness, productivity, and well-being.
The first survey asked respondents to focus on a specific offense, and how they believed it affected them. The second study looked at participants’ general tendency to be forgiving and their general state of mind and work habits over the previous month.
In both cases, forgiveness was linked to increased productivity, decreased absenteeism (fewer days missing work), and fewer mental and physical health problems, such as sadness and headaches. In the second study, these benefits were partly explained by reductions in interpersonal stress that went along with a forgiving disposition.
This new research is important to employees and employers alike, as a lack of forgiveness negatively affects the individuals involved and organizations as a whole. Holding on to negative feelings after a conflict may lead to disengagement at work, a lack of collaboration, and aggressive behavior. Carrying a grudge is also associated with increased stress and a host of negative emotions, including anger, hostility, and vengeful rumination.
Since many people who have been in conflict need to continue to work together, forgiveness can be an effective coping tool, and a way to repair relationships and restore trust—both of which are key to effective work cultures.

More evidence of the power of forgiveness

In 2012, my team at Courageous Leadership LLC worked with employees at Google to build a more courageous culture, including the courage to forgive (one of the keys to healthy ongoing work relationships). We had employees share times when they failed to act on their values at work, to admit they didn’t understand something, or to speak up when they thought they had a better idea. This was designed to remind everyone how easy it is to act outside of our values in stressful situations—to do something that might merit forgiveness.
Participants then practiced taking courageous action. We had them use the REACH model (developed by Everett L. Worthington, one of the coauthors of the new workplace study) to practice forgiveness by identifying current grudges and work on forgiving (not condoning) the behavior. Participants also remembered and shared when others had forgiven them.
Our program also showed positive impact. Participants reported a greater understanding of the power of stressful situations to negatively affect behavior. They also reported feeling better and more connected afterward; as one noted: “I had a deepened sense of lightening inside, like letting go of heavy weights. I feel the forgiveness exercise for me was very powerful.” Participants also took more social risks, like offering new ideas, admitting fears or concerns, and asking for or offering help.
Research shows that this kind of forgiveness can even impact employees who aren’t involved in the conflict. When people see others practicing forgiveness (and other virtuous behaviors) at work, it often fosters positive emotions that can improve decision-making, cognitive functioning, and the quality of relationships.

How to foster forgiveness at work

Unresolved stress from interpersonal conflict often dampens our cognitive and compassionate capacities, making it hard to find a way to forgive. Drawing on the implications of their study, the researchers offer individuals and organizations some suggestions to foster forgiveness at work: 

  • Model forgiveness at work, particularly if you’re a leader. Leaders’ behavior often has the greatest impact on organizational culture, a kind of contagion effect. Leaders who model forgiveness on a regular basis are cueing similar behavior in others.
  • Apologize and attempt to make restitutions. If we don’t take responsibility for our mistakes, distrust grows and the fear of something happening again can be worse than the original incident.
  • Rebuild trust by working on a common task, creating new experiences and memories of cooperation.
  • Conduct interventions (sometimes best done by third parties) to address conflict and foster forgiveness. Invest in programs to build understanding and teach evidence-based tools for ongoing forgiveness in the workplace.
There’s an old saying (attributed to everyone from the Buddha to Carrie Fisher) that goes, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” If you’re holding onto a grudge at work, you could be sharing the poison with your colleagues.
Forgiveness, of course, does not mean we condone or ignore bad behavior. Every workplace should have policies and procedures for dealing quickly with serious transgressions. However, if you do feel ready and the situation warrants it, give forgiveness a try. It could help you, your colleagues, and your workplace.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

CEO Who Gouged EpiPen Price is Daughter of Democratic Senator

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As a pharmaceutical company run by US Sen. Joe Manchin’s daughter faces scrutiny for hiking prices on life-saving allergy injection pens, Manchin is remaining mum.

The Democratic West Virginia senator’s daughter, Heather Bresch, is CEO of Mylan, which manufactures EpiPens.

A two-dose package cost around $94 nine years ago. The cost averaged more than six times that in May.

Manchin spokesman Jonathan Kott said Wednesday the senator had no comment.

Several senators are demanding more information and requesting congressional hearings and investigations.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Mylan for possible antitrust violations.

Hillary Clinton, whom Manchin has endorsed for president, called the increase “outrageous.”

A Mylan statement Monday cited health insurance changes with higher deductible costs for many.

How to Bring Humor to Meditation

By Kira M. Newman

A new book teaches mindfulness by emphasizing ease, joy, and jokes.

From the outside, meditation appears to be a thoroughly serious endeavor. You have to sit down, dutifully count your breaths and rein in your wandering mind, and practice this every day whether it’s fun or not.
But that isn’t Chade-Meng Tan’s approach to mindfulness. The founding chair of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, which started as a mindfulness class at Google and now trains employees around the world, Tan lives by the motto that “life is too important to be taken seriously.” And he adopts the same attitude toward cultivating mindfulness—outlined in his new book, Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within.
While Tan acknowledges that there are other routes to mastering meditation (including sheer discipline and will), his focus is on joy. The book—peppered with cartoons in every chapter—teaches practices and principles for cultivating mindfulness that emphasize gentleness and ease, and lead to a life suffused with positive feeling.
“With practice, joy can become your personality and your whole life,” Tan writes. “What is neutral will become joyful, and what is joyful will become even more joyful.” He himself is living proof of this philosophy—his official title while at Google, printed on his business card, was “Jolly Good Fellow.”
From Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan, cartoons by Colin Goh; reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Tan encourages lightness and playfulness in the way we think about mindfulness training in the first place. In a chapter called “Happiness Is Full of Crap,” he mentions teachings that compare the mind to “a piece of pure gold inside a big ball of cattle dung.” (“Great spiritual teachers tend to be funny people,” he observes.) In other words, we all have happiness within us; we just have to clear away the nasty habits of thinking that obscure it, which is part of the goal of mind training.
One of the practices he recommends is the ten-minute “Puppy Dog Meditation,” which has five steps that correspond to training a puppy:

  • Relax: “Relax and allow your puppy [mind] to wander, but if she gets too far away, gently and lovingly carry her back.”
  • Rejoice: “Now, the puppy is familiar with you and loves you, and she likes to sit next to you. When she does, you rejoice. If you catch her wandering, also rejoice at having such a lovely puppy before gently bringing her back.”
  • Resolve: “Now the puppy is a young dog and is ready for training. During training, you resolve to firmly enforce discipline [attention], in a gentle and loving way.”
  • Refine: “Now that your young dog is properly trained, it is time to refine her skills [attend to the subtle nature of the breath].”
  • Release: “Your dog is well trained and can be unleashed. . . . Let go of all effort and allow the mind to just be.”
From Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan, cartoons by Colin Goh; reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
In another, particularly delightful practice, Tan recommends that we take a moment every hour to wish for two people at our workplace to be happy, thinking, “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.”
“If you like, you may pretend you are firing a ‘happiness ray gun’ at them and make ‘pew, pew’ sound effects in your head. Batteries not required,” Tan adds.
This is a micro version of loving-kindness meditation, where you generate feelings of goodwill and warmth toward others by wishing them well. Loving-kindness meditation has been shown to generate more positive attitudes toward the self and others and more positive emotions, which in turn can lead to a greater sense of connection to others, improved vagal tone (a measure of cardiac health), fewer symptoms of illness, higher life satisfaction, and less depression.
Lest we think all this humor is only for the innately cheerful, Tan assures us that he isn’t a naturally happy person; in fact, he was miserable for most of his childhood. Since then, he’s sometimes battled intense feelings of worthlessness and periods of overwhelming suffering in his life. But he now believes that humor is available to us even in moments of pain, at least some of the time.
Research backs him up: There’s some evidence that humor can help us cope with traumatic situations. Laughter releases dopamine, increases blood flow, and strengthens the heart. In one study, humor was even more effective than positivity at alleviating negative feelings. The benefits of laughter are no laughing matter.
And mindfulness isn’t just for happy times, either. Research suggests that mindfulness and mindfulness-based therapies can help students coping with failure and self-doubt, help veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder, and help those suffering from depression and anxiety.
Amidst all the cartoons and jokes, it’s easy to forget that Tan himself is extraordinarily serious about mindfulness. He’s been practicing for 21 years, and he now meditates for three hours a day. Although anyone can get a hint of joy from a calming, mindful breath or a short loving-kindness meditation, it takes dedication to build a life where joy is the default state.
Tan’s advice for those who want to follow in his footsteps? “Don’t stop and don’t strain.” Practice, but not to the point of tension and rigidity. Be dedicated and persistent, but gentle and lighthearted at the same time. That is the path to joy.

Daily Inspirational Quote for August 25, 2016

“If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.”

Now, you know what this means don’t you? Basically, if the “wind”, i.e. your thoughts and ideas aren’t getting you where you want to be, then you need to implement your “oars”, i.e. physical action. You may have come to the realization that the plans you have in your head won’t materialize as you want them to unless you take the necessary steps to implement them. So, be grateful you actually have your own “oars” when the “wind” fails so that you won’t be left to drift aimlessly but are able to reach the destination YOU have chosen.


To All Artists Known and Unknown

"The radiant little man died at the Art Institute. I knew he was homeless and hanging out at the school, but I was unaware that he was living there. He died of exposure over Christmas break, and when he was found beneath a concrete overhang on the Jones Street side of the school, they found a number of sketchbooks in a backpack." From artist Richard Bergers beautiful reflection on the life and work of an unknown artist ...

by Richard Berger

I remember seeing a threadbare individual sitting in the café of the San Francisco Art Institute in 1992. He was very different from the rest of the students and staff personnel. He was old; old in hard years, not with the mellow patina of the well ensconced. He was in the café every day I came in, always sitting alone, always smoking and nursing a cup of coffee. Most striking in his appearance was the discrepancy between his physical, and what seemed to be his psychic, circumstances. He was worn, his physical being was worn, his clothes were fragile, almost brittle, garments different from the casually abused garments the students sometimes wore that said, "I don't care," clothing being low in the priority of the things they stood for, for reasons of social demarcation as well as economic urgency. His threadbare garments said, "I do care," not only about preserving the garment for economic reasons, but about the ritual of caring itself, a precious continuity, a ritual of anchorage expressed in the threadbare trousers worn at the seams, white at the line of the upturned cuff, perhaps pressed nightly beneath a mattress; his clothes and his bearing were a diagram of that caring. He was always clean-shaven and fastidious in his appearance.

His flesh was another matter. Too much sun, too much liquor, too many times the senses wide open taking in too much, not enough sleep, not enough food, the reddened eyes drawing another blank at dawn after a tumultuous night; too much life to ever be arrested in likeness. His visage reminded me of some of the portraits by Ivan LeLoraine Albright, an obsessive curmudgeon and astonishing painter who revealed mortality in his subjects by painting every molecule with such individuality that their coherence into a personage isolated the fragility of life by revealing accord in its complexity, evoking and then animating through an infinitely accurate diagramming of a membrane of competing tensions. His visage was just such a diagram.

The complexity produced a radiance about him abetted by the discrepancy between his clothes and his flesh. He seemed the temporary residence for an enduring elsewhere tangent to the worn, but radiant and frail man; and at times, he shone actively with the brilliance of that elsewhere. He was always looking elsewhere, as if he saw things that we didn't, and I experienced one indelible impression of him as he sat at the café table with a cigarette smoldering in his lips, warming himself in the morning sun. He suddenly gestured, still sitting at the table; it was a gesture that I imagine an only child would make toward an empty room populated by imaginary friends, a gesture exclaiming, "Look at all my wonderful boys and girls!"  Within his gesture was the certainty that these boys and girls constituted a heavenly choir which he was conducting, they bearing him aloft with their song as he guided them. His gestures were the traceries to some paradise via his tattered being, a deliverance beyond comprehension. This went on for a very short time and then he became still, smiling and smoking.

The radiant little man died at the Art Institute. I knew he was homeless and hanging out at the school, but I was unaware that he was living there. He died of exposure over Christmas break, and when he was found beneath a concrete overhang on the Jones Street side of the school, they found a number of sketchbooks in a backpack. He was an artist, a "street artist" as he had described himself to Greg, an employee of the school and one of the few people who had any conversation with him. An unknown artist thrust into our midst his own portable Lascaux, astounding images conceived and executed outside the channels of legitimacy and validation that so many of us need to sustain and guide us, challenging all our notions of the route to authenticity, indicating another depth of being in our midst.

The sketchbooks reveal in obsessive detail the sweetness and mystery of his elsewhere, a realm more compelling for him than our imperfect world, a realm of elsewhere we will only know through him, which seems to welcome us. The last fragment revealed to me in this puzzle that will never be complete was his name, which became known to me only after his death via his signature on a few of his many drawings: Wallace Allen Healey. Greg said that people called him "Wally."

Wally was cremated as John Doe because his family wouldn't or couldn't come from Oregon to verify his identity. Wally's identity, Wally the street artist. What I knew of Wally through his physical being, the posthumous discovery of fragments of his life via others, his images and lastly, his name, represent memorable components in an unusual order of encounter. They are fragments which cohere in spite of their spareness and intermittence, that which is not there being as potent as what is.

I have glimpsed a foreshortened version of such a coherence in several chance observations of how the rooms of people who have been around for a long time can become a summary of their lives. The pared down fragments of Wally's life had no final room in which to reside because he didn't have a home, and yet those surviving fragments of his images and his life cohere somehow to define in summary the sweet elsewhere that was in his images and his being.

I sometimes wonder if these events in their unusual sequence have compelled me to romanticize what might be only a wincing pathos, retroactively endowing it with a magic I hope exists because it is the only bearable reconciliation of Wally's pictures with what there is to know about him. A more remote memory returns in considering this question, by way of Famadou Don Moy, the percussionist with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He performed solo at the Art Institute some years ago; he filled the stage  with an enormous array of percussion instruments, big, small, formal, informal, Chinese gongs and hubcaps, a night clerk's bell and a trap drum set among many others. He came slowly to the stage from the back of the auditorium, playing a drum with maracas, the movement of every extremity expressed in sound, and he chanted: "To all great Black musicians, known and unknown."

Known and unknown. It was an invocation to acknowledge ALL those who gave their lives in pursuit of the great human service, the service of the artist, transforming the sometimes unbearable discrepancy between the way things are and the way they ought to be, into something that makes us want to dance. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Daily Inspirational Quote for August 24, 2016

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”

I guess this very much depends on how we cope in the middle of every difficulty. Do we feel overwhelmed and unable to see a way of overcoming whatever it is or, alternatively, do we knuckle down and think of our next move? In every difficult situation we always have these two alternative options to choose from. Personally, I like to think I have also been presented with an opportunity to, if not actually overcome my difficulty, at least to be able to learn from it in order to cope better the next time, which makes sense…..doesn’t it?


Is Medical Marijuana Worth It?

What Is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana is any part of the marijuana plant that you use to treat health problems. People use it to get relief from their symptoms, not to try to get high.

Most marijuana that's sold legally as medicine has the same ingredients as the kind that people use for pleasure. But some medical marijuana is specially grown to have less of the chemicals that cause feelings of euphoria.

Ingredients in Medical Marijuana

Marijuana plants have hundreds of chemicals, known as cannabinoids. The two main ones are THC and CBD. THC gives some of the pleasurable effects that pot smokers are looking for, but it also has some effects that may treat medical problems.

Some research suggests that CBD may be helpful for some health issues, but it doesn't cause you to get high.

How Marijuana Works on the Brain

People who smoke marijuana begin to feel its effects almost immediately, while those who eat it may not feel it for up to an hour.

When you smoke pot, THC goes from your lungs to the bloodstream and causes your brain cells to release the chemical dopamine, leaving you feeling high.

Experts know less about how CBD works. They think it may work sometimes with THC, and sometimes on its own, to have an effect on the brain.

Uses for Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana may help ease pain, nausea, and loss of appetite in people who have cancer and HIV. There's not a lot of research on these areas yet, though.

Some research suggests medical marijuana may cut down seizures in people with epilepsy. Some studies show it also may ease multiple sclerosis symptoms like muscle stiffness and spasms, pain, and frequent urination.

Short-Term Side Effects

Medical marijuana can change your mood, making you feel happy, relaxed, sleepy, or anxious. It can also disrupt your short-term memory and decision-making ability. These side effects can last 1 to 3 hours.

Large doses of medical marijuana can make some people have hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. Research suggests that smoking marijuana can make breathing problems, like bronchitis, worse.

Long-Term Side Effects

Regular smokers of medical marijuana may get respiratory problems, such as a daily cough and a higher risk of lung infections.

Studies also link routine use to mental illness, depression, anxiety, less motivation, and suicidal thoughts among young people. Marijuana use during pregnancy can raise the risk of health problems in babies. Marijuana use can result in addiction.

Drugs Made From Marijuana

The FDA has approved two drugs that include ingredients also found in marijuana. Dronabinol has synthetic THC and is used to treat nausea from chemotherapy and extreme weight loss in AIDs patients.

Nabilone is used for the same reasons, but it has a man-made chemical that's similar to THC.

Forms of Medical Marijuana

Users smoke medical marijuana in paper-rolled cigarettes or pipes. You can also brew it into a beverage, eat it in cooked foods, or take it in pill form. The effects of a marijuana pill can be strong and long-lasting. This makes it hard to predict how it will affect a person. It can also be inhaled it through vaporizers. Cannabinoid receptors have also been found in skin. Some use topical marijuana for pain and inflammation. More research is needed.

Where Medical Marijuana Is Legal

California voters were the first to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996. It's now legal in almost half of U.S. states.

If you live in a state where it's legal and your doctor has OK'd it, you can buy it from an authorized seller known as a dispensary. Some people may legally grow their own medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana for Children

Some studies suggest medical marijuana may help relieve seizures in children with hard-to-treat epilepsy.

A type of medical marijuana known as "Charlotte's Web" may help kids without getting them high, because the strain has very little THC.