Saturday, June 24, 2017

Inspirational Quote – June 24, 2017

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”

The world seems to become noisier every day, or is that just me? Cars driving past with their windows down and music blasting out so we can all get the “benefit” of the driver’s musical predilections whether we want to or not, (usually not)! On a bus, coach or train, people carry on conversations on their mobile ‘phones. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were interesting with tasty bits of gossip but, more often than not, they’re totally boring to their fellow travelers. Don’t get me started with headphones in public! Why can’t people be content just to shhhhhh, and be quiet. Don’t they realize what they’re missing? They might be pleasantly surprised at what they can hear, i.e. the sounds of the birds, children laughing, or squabbling, people having a pleasant conversation etc. or, better still, silence, just silence.

The Women in Spiti Valley who are Saving the Snow Leopard

In the Spitian language, "shen" means snow leopard. Located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti Valley is one of the few remaining places on earth where snow leopards can be found. Since 2013, women from two of the region's villages have been working with the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) to help protect this endangered species. Known as Project SHEN, the women engage in community development and conservation efforts, and showcase their handicraft skills by creating handmade items such as stationary and jewelry that is sold locally and online. The project has brought about dramatic changes in the lives of the women, as they gain greater independence and self-sufficiency, while making a difference to their community and its wildlife. "They are the custodians of their pastures and mountains," says Kulbhushan Suryawanshi.

Friday, June 23, 2017

How Does Your Culture Influence the People You Trust?

According to a new study, we're more generous toward people when they express emotions valued by our culture.

How can culture influence giving? Some scholars have argued that people are more likely to share with others who are similar in terms of race or sex, but the evidence for this is mixed.
A new study by Stanford psychologists, which appeared recently in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, suggests, however, that similar emotional expressions can motivate giving, and can do so even more than a common race or sex.
Since culture drives people’s tendency to value similar emotions in others—a phenomenon dubbed “ideal affect match”—the research clarifies a new way that culture can influence giving and potentially provide insights about organizations’ philanthropic efforts.

Cultural differences in ideal affect

Previous research from Jeanne Tsai, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford, has examined the relationship between culture and emotion with a focus on European Americans and East Asians.
This research suggested that while European Americans typically want to feel states of excitement (high-arousal positive states), Asians instead prefer to feel states of calmness (low-arousal positive states). Thus, people tended to like others who showed the emotional states that they themselves wished to feel—“ideal affect match.”
That led Tsai, along with co-authors BoKyung Park, Elizabeth Blevins, and Brian Knutson, to wonder whether ideal affect match could influence not only liking, but also willingness to allocate actual money to a stranger.

When will a dictator give?

In the first study, the researchers examined groups of European American and Korean college students. After measuring their actual affect (how people feel) and ideal affect (how they want to feel), the researchers had participants play a series of Dictator Games—a game in which one person (the “dictator”) decides whether to distribute their money to other players (potential recipients).
While participants were always assigned to play the dictator, different potential recipients were depicted with computer-generated avatars that varied in terms of their emotional expression, race, and sex. Afterwards, participants rated how much they trusted each of the potential recipients they had encountered.
The researchers found that while European Americans gave more to the recipients whose expressions conveyed excitement (i.e., open, toothy smiles), Korean students gave more to recipients whose expressions conveyed calm (i.e., closed smiles). Further, European Americans rated excited recipients as more trustworthy, but Koreans rated calm recipients as more trustworthy.
However, common race and sex had little effect on sharing or inferred trust.
“These findings suggest that emotional expression—and whether or not it matches people’s ideal affect—may play a more powerful role in resource sharing than even race or sex,” said Tsai, director of Stanford’s Culture and Emotion Lab.

Scanning for answers

So what about ideal affect match could motivate people to share with others? Was it the way that a matching stranger made them feel or the belief that they shared values? To find out, the researchers ran a second study in which European Americans and Koreans played repeated Dictator Games—this time, while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Afterwards, participants again rated potential recipients’ trustworthiness and other characteristics, including friendliness and intelligence.
When they saw faces whose expressions matched their ideal affect, the scans revealed decreased activity in the brain’s right temporo-parietal junction, which is associated with perceiving that others hold different beliefs, according to Tsai. One interpretation of this decreased activity is that participants assumed the recipients shared their values. This interpretation aligns with the fact that participants tended to trust and share more with recipients whose ideal affect matched their own.
Tsai said that, traditionally, it has been difficult for researchers to identify which emotional expressions generate trust. This may be because they vary by culture. These findings help explain why people from different cultures might trust people with different emotional expressions.
“Together, these data suggest that part of the power of ideal affect match is that it sends an implicit signal that someone else shares our beliefs and values, which in turn makes them more trustworthy, and promotes giving,” Tsai said.

Enhancing sharing across cultures

The study challenges established research notions about in-group identity, or the cues that people use to identify themselves as belonging to a group. The findings specifically suggest that malleable cues related to mutual emotional values can overpower more static cues like sex and race.
The results imply that when dealing with other cultures, people may overcome traditional categories by understanding and expressing shared emotional values. Since emotional expressions are easier to modify, the findings suggest more flexible ways of enhancing trust and sharing across cultures.

Inspirational Quote – June 23, 2017

“Be the kind of person you want in your life.”

This brings to mind the saying, “Treat other people the way you would like to be treated” doesn’t it? Do you live your life along these lines? I would like to believe that this is something I can relate to in my life and the lives of those closest to me. I think most of us try to be the best we can be in our behavior towards others, not just to those closest to us, but those we come across perhaps momentarily every day. Why wouldn’t we?

What Activists Can Learn From Grace Lee Boggs

With the need for social change in countries all around the world, it is easy to understand how "protest fatigue" can set in. However, veteran activists can offer some advice on how to stay in it for the long haul of bringing about a better world. Grace Lee Boggs was one such lifelong activist until she passed away in 2015 at the age of 100. She lived and breathed her truth and believed that tending gardens, caring for the self, and caring for others were ways to nourish activism. In a sometimes harsh world, these simple acts of kindness end up restoring the energy needed to carry on the hard work of social change. Read on to see how coming alive mindfully, connecting to others and practicing a caring attitude will sustain activism just as it did for Grace--maybe to the ripe age of 100.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

12 Drinking Myths to Stop Believing

MYTH: Hangovers Are No Big Deal

FACT: Heavy drinking rocks the central nervous system. It tinkers with brain chemicals -- leading to headache, dizziness, and nausea -- and sends you running to the bathroom so often you become dehydrated. The morning-after price can include a pounding headache, fatigue, cotton mouth, queasy stomach -- and a weakened immune system.

MYTH: Hangovers Are Gender-Blind

FACT: Don’t go crazy with free drinks on Ladies' Night. If a man and woman drink the same amount, the woman is more likely to feel the effects. That’s because men have a higher percentage of water in their bodies, which helps dilute the alcohol they drink. When women drink the same amount, more alcohol builds up in the bloodstream.

MYTH: Only Bingers Get Hangovers

FACT: You don't have to get wasted to pay a price the next morning. Just a couple of drinks can trigger a headache and other hangover symptoms for some people. Having water or a nonalcoholic drink between each beer or hard drink can help keep you hydrated and cut down on the overall amount of alcohol you drink.

MYTH: Wine is the Gentlest Choice

FACT: Red wine contains tannins, compounds that are known to trigger headaches in some people. Malt liquors, like whiskey, also tend to cause more severe hangovers. If you're worried about how you'll feel in the morning, the gentlest choices are beer and clear liquors, such as vodka and gin.

MYTH: Diet Cocktails Are a Safe Bet

FACT: Diet drinks may help if you're counting calories, but not if you're trying to avoid a hangover. Research suggests that having fruits, fruit juices, or other sugar-containing liquids can make for a less intense hangover.

MYTH: Liquor Before Beer

FACT: It's the amount of alcohol you drink (not the order of your drinks) that matters most. Standard drinks -- a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce "shot" of liquor -- have about the same amount of alcohol. Don't be fooled by the size of your drink or by any saying about alcohol use that includes the phrase "never fear."

MYTH: Eat Pasta Before Bed

FACT: Wrong on two counts. First, eating at bedtime (after you're already drunk) is no help. Food has to be in your stomach before Happy Hour to have any impact. Second, although any food can slow down how fast your body absorbs alcohol, fat does it best. So go for steak or pizza before your first martini, and you might escape a hangover. One bedtime tip that does help -- drink water to fight dehydration.

MYTH: Pop Pain Relievers Before Bed

FACT: Over-the-counter painkillers peak in about four hours, so a bedtime dose won’t help by the time you wake up. A better plan is to take the pills when you first wake up. Don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol) after a night of drinking. The combination could hurt your liver.

MYTH: Alcohol Helps You Sleep Well

FACT: Just the opposite. While a nightcap may help you doze off more quickly, too much undermines the quality of your sleep. You don't spend as much time in all-important REM cycles and you tend to wake up too soon. If you've been drinking heavily, a hangover might strike in the last part of the night, leaving you too uncomfortable to get back to sleep.

MYTH: Hair of the Dog

FACT: More alcohol in the morning does nothing but postpone a hangover. The worst symptoms hit when blood-alcohol levels drop to zero. If you have a screwdriver at breakfast, this moment will just come later in the day. And if you find you can't function without a wake-up cocktail, you should talk with your doctor about getting help for alcohol addiction.

MYTH: Coffee Is the Cure

FACT: Caffeine can narrow your blood vessels and may make your hangover worse. After a night of drunkenness, it's best to sip water and sports drinks to counter dehydration and replace lost electrolytes -- especially if you threw up.

MYTH: Herbal Remedies Can Help

FACT: British researchers reviewed the studies on hangover pills, such as yeast and artichoke extract. They found no compelling evidence that they worked. Another British team found a supplement made from prickly pear cactus may reduce nausea and dry mouth from hangovers, but not the dreaded headache. The only proven cure? Time.

NO MYTH: Alcohol Poisoning

FACT: Alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening emergency. Symptoms include:

o Confusion, stupor
o Vomiting
o Seizures
o Slow, irregular breathing
o Low body temperature, bluish skin

It's easy to blow off these symptoms as the price of partying hard, but if you see someone vomit multiple times or pass out after drinking heavily, there’s a risk of severe dehydration or brain damage. Call 911.

What Your Sleep Position Says About You

Strike Your Sleep Pose

You turn off the lights and get yourself ready to snooze. Are you on your back, side, or stomach? Your sleep position can be linked to things like back pain, snoring, and how often you wake up during the night. It may even say some things about your personality.

On Your Belly

Are you a tummy sleeper? If so, do you have problems sleeping? Your slumber pose may not be helping. You’re more likely to be restless and toss and turn to get comfortable when you sleep on your belly. It can strain your neck and your lower back, too. If this is how you like to sleep, you may want to use a very soft pillow or none at all to keep your neck comfortable.

Belly Position: Freefall

About 7% of the population sleeps this way. You lie on your belly with your arms around a pillow and your head turned sideways. If this is your favorite sleep position, some research suggests you may be more likely to speak your mind and be sociable and outgoing. You also may not be very open to criticism.

Back Sleeping

This position can cause low back pain for some people. And if you already have that, it can make it worse. If you snore or have sleep apnea, it can make those bigger problems, too. If you have one of these issues and can't get comfortable another way, talk to your doctor about what might help.

Back Position: Soldier

This position is favored by about 8% of the population. You sleep with your arms down and close to your body. Some research suggests you may be more likely to be quiet and keep to yourself. You also may expect a lot from yourself and from others.

Back Position: Starfish

Only about 5% of people sleep this way. You lie on your back with your arms up near your head. According to some studies, you may be more likely to be a good listener and not want to be the center of attention.

Side Sleeping

There are many ways to sleep on your side, but the most comfortable is with your knees bent slightly toward your chest -- the fetal position.

Side Position: Fetal

More than 40% of people sleep in this curled-up side-sleeping position. It's the most common position for women -- they’re twice as likely as men to sleep like this. Some research suggests you may be more likely to be warm, friendly, and sensitive, but you also may have a protective shell around you.

Side Position: Log

This is when you sleep on your side with both arms down. About 15% of people “sleep like a log.” Some research says you may tend to be social, easygoing, and trusting.

Side Position: Yearner

About 13% of people sleep in this side position with their arms out in front of their bodies. If you sleep like this, some studies say you may be open-minded, but suspicious, and stubborn about sticking to a decision once you've made it.

Side Position: Spooning

With your body close to your partner, you may wake up more often, but cuddling can be good for you. It makes your body release a chemical called oxytocin that can help lower your stress, bond you to your partner, and help you get to sleep faster.

If You Snore

To keep the noise level down at night, side sleeping is best. If you like to sleep on your back, stacking up a few pillows may help. See your doctor if your snoring makes you gasp for breath or feel tired the next day, or if it wakes you (or your partner) up. Loud snoring can be a sign that you may have sleep apnea -- a condition that stops and restarts your breathing when you sleep. It can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

If You Have Back Pain

Side sleeping wins for this, too. To take even more pressure off your hips and back, you can put a pillow between your legs. If you’re a back sleeper, you might put one under your knees to keep the natural curve of your back.

If You’re Pregnant

It’s usually more comfortable -- and healthier for you and your baby -- if you sleep on your side. And the left side may be better, because it may get more blood and nutrients to your baby. If you have back pain, put a pillow under your belly to support the weight. It can also help to bend your knees and put a pillow between your legs.

What About Your Mattress?

A mattress that works with your sleep style and body type can help with many issues. It should be firm enough to support your back and sleep position, but soft enough to fit the shape of your body. This isn’t always easy to figure out. Some stores will let you test a mattress for several weeks and change it out if it doesn’t work for you.

Inspirational Quote – June 22, 2017

“The positive thinker Sees the invisible, Feels the Intangible, and Achieves the impossible.”

Each and every one of us has the freedom to choose to think positively. How great is that? A free gift to ourselves from ourselves. This free gift enables us to see the positive in the people around us, the situations we find ourselves in and the problems that we all face every day. How much better to arm ourselves with positivity rather than negativity in order to continue on our path through life.

When Serendipity Touches a Journey

Anthony Rubino is a nonfiction writer and artist based out of New York City, where he also is an art teacher in the city's public school system. In this piece, Anthony tells the story of a vacation he and his wife took to Arizona, where he experienced the serendipity of connecting with a man whose painting appeared in his dream. He recently completed his memoir "Looking for Wonder: A Teacher's Unexpected Journey," which talks about his adventures as an art teacher.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What Your Face Reveals About Your Health

A Look in the Mirror

You’re really familiar with the face staring back at you. But a closer peek may show clues about your health -- if you know what to look for.

Yellowish Skin and Eyes

This is jaundice. It’s when you have too much of a waste product your body makes when it breaks down red blood cells. It’s common -- and usually harmless -- in babies born before 38 weeks, because their livers aren’t mature enough to work the way they should. In adults, jaundice can mean more serious conditions, like viral infections (hepatitis, mononucleosis); problems with your liver, gallbladder, or pancreas; or alcohol abuse.


These are spots or bumps, often dark in color. Most are nothing to worry about, but skin checks can help you spot cancer before it spreads. When it comes to moles, remember your ABCDEs:

o Asymmetrical: Is the shape different on each side?
oBorder: Is it jagged?
o Color: Is it uneven?
o Diameter: Is it larger than a pea?
o Evolving: Has it changed in the past few weeks?

Talk to your doctor if you answered yes to any of these questions.


Ones around your lips and mouth are most likely cold sores, which are caused by the type 1 herpes virus. (This isn’t the herpes virus that’s spread through sex.) Once you get the virus, it stays with you. Sores may break out when you’re sick, anxious, or overtired, or you’ve been out in the sun too long. They usually go away on their own, but if you have big or frequent outbreaks, your doctor may suggest medication.

Cracked Lips

Everyone gets dry or cracked lips from time to time, especially in winter. Balms can help protect them and keep them moist. But sometimes, dry lips are a sign of a health issue, like dehydration -- when your body doesn’t have enough water. They can also be an allergic reaction or response to a drug, such as steroids.

Butterfly Rash

Most rashes aren’t serious and get better on their own, but this one is unusual. It covers both cheeks in the shape of a butterfly, and it’s a common sign of lupus. That’s a disease that makes your immune system attack your own tissues and organs. You may also have fever, achy and stiff joints, and fingers that turn blue in the cold. See your doctor if you have an unexplained rash, especially if it comes along with those other symptoms.

Hair in Unusual Places

It could just be a hair growing where you don’t want it -- that can happen to men as they get older around the ears and eyebrows, and to women around the chin. In younger women, facial hair can be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that can make it harder to get pregnant.

Drooping Eyelid

Doctors call it ptosis or blepharoptosis. It can happen in one or both eyes -- in severe cases, your eyelid may block your vision. You may be born with it or get it over decades. It’s often harmless, but it can be a sign of problems with your brain, nerves, or eye socket. See your doctor if it happens in days or hours, or if you have double vision, weak muscles, trouble swallowing, or a bad headache -- those can be signs of a stroke.

Can’t Move One Side of Your Face

If you can’t move part of your body, get medical help right away. But if you don’t have other symptoms, it's probably Bell’s palsy. It happens when something -- probably a virus -- presses a nerve that controls muscles in your face or makes it swollen. It shows up over hours or days and usually weakens a side of your face. You also may have pain in your jaw and behind your ear. Usually, it's not serious and gets better in 3 to 6 months.

Facial Paralysis With Other Symptoms

A stroke happens when the blood flow is cut off to part of your brain because a blood vessel bursts or gets blocked. Get medical help right away if you notice any of these signs of one: the lower part of your face is suddenly paralyzed, or you have numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, slurred speech, double vision, dizziness, or trouble swallowing.

Yellow Spots on Your Eyelids

These raised yellow bumps on and around your upper and lower eyelids are called xanthelasmata. They’re made of cholesterol, and while you may not like the look of them, they’re not dangerous or painful and usually can be taken off. But they can be a sign that you’re more likely to get heart disease or have a heart attack, so it’s a good idea to see your doctor for a physical.

Puffy Eyes

The space below your eyes can fill with fluid, which can make them look swollen or puffy. Hot, humid weather can make your body hold on to more water, as can lack of sleep, too much salty food, and hormone changes. It happens more often as you age because muscles that support your eyelids weaken. If your eyes are red and itchy, it may be an allergic reaction to food, pollen, makeup, fragrances, a cleanser, or an infection like pinkeye.


This causes gray-brown patches of skin on your face. Doctors don’t know exactly why it happens, but it can be triggered by things like pregnancy or taking certain birth control pills. In those cases, melasma often fades on its own after the baby is born or the woman stops taking the pills. In other cases, it can last for years. But medicines and other treatments, like chemical peels, can help.

Hair Loss

If you’re losing your eyelashes or eyebrows, along with patches of your hair, it can be a sign of a condition called alopecia areata. It happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles. There’s no way to prevent new patches, but talk with your doctor about medication that might help your hair grow back.