Showing posts from May 26, 2019

Grief is Praise

by Martín Prechtel

The following is an excerpt from The Smell of Rain on Dust by Martín Prechtel. In his book, Prechtel explains that the unexpressed grief prevalent in our society today is the reason for many of the social, cultural, and individual maladies that we are currently experiencing. He goes on to show how this collective, unexpressed energy is the long-held grief of our ancestors manifesting itself, and what work can be done to liberate this energy so we can heal from the trauma of loss, war, and suffering.

Grief expressed out loud, whether in or out of character, unchoreographed and honest, for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.

I don’t know why I’m always so surprised, in this day and age, with so many possibilities and choices at their fingertips, how people, who having lived for so many generations, so distant from any s…

Why Marginalized Students Need Hope to Succeed

Researcher Dante Dixson is developing programs to help disadvantaged students envision a brighter future for themselves.

By Jenara Nerenberg

Researcher Dante Dixson grew up with a strong sense of hope in life, largely due to the messages he received from his mother about problem-solving and working hard. Although none of his parents or grandparents went to college, there was never any doubt whether he would go.

But as his research shows, young people from marginalized groups don’t always receive these hopeful messages today. Against a backdrop of political strife and tense race relations in the U.S., they may rarely hear positive expectations from teachers or see role models in the media who look like them.

As a result, it can be difficult to envision a bright future—or any future at all, which was the case for one 16 year old who told Dixson he didn’t expect to live past 18, in the same casual way one would say, “I’m going to buy some ice cream.”

Dixson is an assistant professor of educat…

Why We Walk

Erling Kagge is a Norwegian explorer, lawyer, art collector, author, and the first person to have completed the Three Poles Challenge on foot --the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Mount Everest. Kagge is also the author of "Walking: One Step at a Time," and six other books. What follows is an excerpt from Walking.

How Conformity Can Be Good and Bad for Society

A new book looks at why people conform to others’ expectations and how it can be a force for good and bad decision-making.

By Zaid Jilani

In the U.S. Federal court system, many important cases go through three-judge panels. The majority opinion of these panels carries the day, meaning that having a majority is crucial for one side or another to get the rulings they want. So, if two out of three of the judges are appointed by Democrats, it’s safe to assume that most cases will go their way.

But a study of the judicial behavior of the District of Columbia Circuit came to a surprising conclusion: A panel of three GOP-appointed judges was actually considerably more likely to make a conservative ruling than a panel of two GOP appointees and one Democratic appointee. Just one Democratic dissenter appeared to make the difference; the dissenter apparently swayed their colleagues, demonstrating how viewpoint diversity has the power to alter the conclusions of a group.

This court study is among man…

School Strike for Climate Change

At a young age, Greta Thunberg realized that all of the facts and solutions about how to stop climate change are known. But why aren't we applying this knowledge in order to make a difference? At age 15, Greta started a school strike outside the Swedish Parliament. While many people tell her that she should be in school or that she should study to be a climate scientist, Greta believes that if nobody does anything to stop climate change now, studying for her future will be a waste of time. She is doing what she can to bring attention to this crisis, and has inspired students around the world to take action for the planet.

In a Divided World, We Need to Choose Empathy

It’s gotten harder to empathize; that’s why it’s so important we work at it. Luckily, we can.

By Jamil Zaki

As I dialed the number, my palms began to sweat. The person on the other end wasn’t a loan officer or angry lawyer; he was an old friend and we were about to catch up. This should all be mildly pleasant but was instead nerve-wracking. You see, I had reached out to him because we had a problem. 

Over the years, my friend’s politics and my own had taken incompatible turns. On social media, I saw him growing reactionary; he saw me becoming a soft, “politically correct” academic. We sniped at each other online, then over text. After a while, I realized we’d forgotten our friendship, and I proposed that we talk to each other to try and bridge our differences.

Why did this seem so hard for my friend and I? And why do so many of us feel that human connection has become increasingly out of reach?

That’s what I address in my new book, The War for Kindness. For over a decade, I’ve documented…

George Orwell: Some Thoughts on the Common Toad

Novelist and essayist Eric Arthur Blair, pen name George Orwell, is perhaps best known for his prescient depictions of creeping totalitarianism and social injustice as captured in 1984 and Down and Out in Paris and London. Blair is also recognized as an avowed appreciator of the living world who intuitively understood nature's role in transforming the human spirit in the aftermath of war: "I think that by retaining one's childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies and to return to my first instance toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable..." In his thought-provoking essay, Isaac Yuen explores the remarkable capacity for wonder and compassion that exemplifies Blair's writing in "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad," an ode to one of Earth's most humble inhabitants.

What You Can Do Tonight for a Better Workday Tomorrow

How employees spend their leisure time predicts their feelings and behavior the next day, a new study finds.

By Selma A. Quist-Møller

When work is stressful, many of us don’t make downtime a priority. Taking a break or having fun feels like something we can’t afford—and hobbies, exercise, and social activities often fall to the bottom of our list.

But new research might make you think differently about your time spent outside of work, as well as how it influences your productivity.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology explored how different types of evening activities affect our feelings and behavior at work the next day. Researchers asked 183 full-time employees from a range of IT and telecommunications companies in China to complete questionnaires three times a day for 10 workdays. In the morning, they reported how they were feeling. In the afternoon, they were surveyed about their proactive behavior—self-initiated, future-oriented actions to take control of situation…

Wangari Maathai: Marching with Trees

The late Wangari Maathai--biologist, environmentalist, and the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize--founded the Green Belt Movement to create designated areas of park, farm, and uncultivated land around communities. It has contributed to the planting of over 52 million trees. Across two decades, she was at times beaten and imprisoned as she battled powerful economic forces and Kenya's tyrannical ruler. Her books include the memoir Unbowed and Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World. She's also one of the 100 heroic women featured in the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Listen to her story as she is interviewed here.

We Are Designed for Connection

Diane Poole Heller, a licensed therapist and noted expert in trauma, integrative healing, and secure attachment, talks to Tami Simon of Sounds True about the different attachment styles that we pick up in childhood and carry subconsciously into our adult behaviors. They discuss strategies for coping with and healing from insecure and disorganized childhood attachment. Diane explains how these attachment patterns are engraved in both the mind and body, highlighting the long-term effects of trauma and neglect.

The Courageous Mary Oliver

Lisa Starr shares her insights from the last years of her friend Mary Oliver's life. From this deep perspective of love - we see Mary's courage, strength and generosity. She lived her craft - listening for the words - to the very end - using them to transform the heartbreak of living into things of beauty.