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Showing posts from August 23, 2020

Beyond Words: A Conversation with Carl Safina

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"Safina's journey in ecology and conservation took him through his PhD and then back to the obvious. I learned this is called anthropomorphizing and you're not supposed to do that. The orthodox view is that other animals don't have human thoughts or emotions. I learned all of that and then realized that what I knew when I was seven was actually more accurate." More in this interview with Safina.


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Why We Should Be More Optimistic About Human Nature

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A new book argues that humans are more cooperative and trustworthy than we think, and social institutions need to reflect that.

In the novel Lord of the Flies, a group of young boys are shipwrecked on an island and eventually turn savagely against each other. The book is a cautionary tale about humanity’s underlying cruelty and the need for civilization to tame our darker impulses—a message that resonates with many people today.

By Jill Suttie


But that’s not what happened to a real-life group of shipwrecked kids in 1965. Unlike the fictional Lord of the Flies characters, they developed a game plan for survival that was cooperative, fun, and peaceful, resulting in lifelong friendships.

In other words, the boys didn’t turn into devils when left on their own—far from it!

Dutch historian Rutger Bregman recounts this story in his new book Humankind, arguing against the Lord of the Flies’s unreasonably dim picture of humanity. The key message in Bregman’s book is that humans are basically good, …

The World’s First “Rock Star” Isn’t Who You Think!

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Who was history’s first rockstar? I’ll give you a hint: he had long flowing hair, refused to bow to convention, made audiences swoon, and even broke a few instruments in his day. He wasn’t from the 1960s, or the 1950s, no, he made his name in the 40s—the1840’s! Any guesses yet?

Your first guesses may be your own favorite musicians from the ’70s or ’80s but I’m going to guess it wasn’t someone from the ’40s, let alone the 1840s! He was the kind of person with a stage presence that made women swoon, with long, flowing hair, who connected with audiences so deeply he changed the way music was played forever. Still no guesses on this 1840’s rocker?

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber


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Lucky Man: Life Lessons from William Segal

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"How can we find balance and peace in the midst of pain and turmoil? A legendary Zen Buddhist master once sent this startling note to a friend: "Lucky man," wrote Soen Nakagawa Roshi, the abbot of Ryutakuji monastery in Japan. "One accident like yours is worth ten thousand sittings in a monastery!" The accident the Zen master mentioned was a devastating car crash. The "lucky man" was William Segal, 67, a magazine publisher, artist, and spiritual seeker. Segal received the message as he lay in a hospital bed in New York. Both hips were shattered, his skull was fractured; and all the bones in his face were broken." More about William Segal's life and spirit in this thoughtful piece.


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The Beauty in Breaking

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Michele Harper is a female, African American emergency room physician in a profession that is predominantly male and white. In her new book, "The Beauty in Breaking," she explores the themes of race, gender, injustice and hope -- and in doing so shares the story of how her own healing emerged through a life lived in service of others. Read an excerpt from the book here.


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The Science-Backed Benefits of Being a Dog Owner

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Let’s not forget to thank our dogs for all the benefits they bring us—especially through the challenges of COVID-19.

My friend, Jan, has spent the entire pandemic in lockdown in San Francisco, unable to touch another human being. It’s hard to imagine how difficult that must be. And yet she’s doing OK. One big reason: her dog, Maisie.

By Jill Suttie


“This cottage would feel kind of bereft of life without Maisie padding around,” says Jan.

I’m sure Jan is not alone in feeling happy to have a dog. Many of us are relying more on our pets for comfort while we face the uncertainty of the pandemic—even those of us who have human roommates to keep us company, too. Research suggests that there’s something about our dogs that makes us feel less lonely and anxious, and can even keep us healthier.

What is that something? It’s hard to put a finger on, but hormones may play a role. Petting a dog has been shown to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), for example, and caring for a dog releases oxytocin (t…

Why Don’t Beetles Have Bones? (And Why Do You?)

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The perfect combination of strong, flexible, and light, our skeletons do a lot more than hold us up! But how did we end up with this skeletal wonder that makes us so different from bugs and beetles? Well, the answer is a great reminder of how a few little detours on the path of life can lead us in entirely different directions!

We carry one of the world’s most fascinating rock collections inside us every day! These rocks (you may call them bones) are meticulously strung together to create our human forms. Cats have them, dogs have them, even birds and salamanders have them, but have you ever wondered why some creatures wear their skeletons on the outside? How did beetles and lobsters and ants end up walking around in a sort of home-grown body armor? And why don’t we?!

By Sam Burns


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The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

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Wade Davis, anthropologist and passionate scholar of indigenous cultures that span the globe, shares the value of learning from these dynamic, living societies, as we face the challenges threatening the earth. He takes us on a journey to "the heart of the world" and asks the question, "What does it actually mean for a people to believe that the earth is resonant and alive and responsive to their desires and that they themselves have a reciprocal obligation to that landscape?"


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How to Create a Climate of Care in School This Fall

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Here are three key mindsets for school leaders to adopt during the pandemic.

Today, school leaders—superintendents, principals, and department heads—are faced with a challenge: uniting and inspiring their school communities in the midst of COVID-19.

By Jennifer Soalt, Bridget Nolen


This formidable task will not only be about implementing new safety guidelines. And it’s not just about the hard, strategic work of adjusting curriculums and programs to accommodate all the educational issues raised by school closures.

It will also involve the deep, human work of establishing a climate of care, one in which school leaders care for returning teachers, and returning teachers, in turn, care for the children and families they work with, creating ripples of support across the school community.

Three key mindsets—informed by research from education, leadership, and positive psychology—can help with this work of caring for school communities: a strength-based approach, collective leadership, and kindn…

Beyond Hope: Letting Go of a World in Collapse

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"The rapid acceleration of violent events around the globe: the uprising of religious fundamentalism, xenophobia, homophobia, speciesism, misogyny, societal breakdown, mass animal die-offs, the unparalleled disintegration of the cryosphere, and the rapid decay of our very biosphere; it all weighs heavy on my mind and heart. There is no denying that we are living through what scientists are calling, the 6th Great Extinction Event. These are indeed unprecedented times.[...]

The bottom line is that I don't write for comfort. I don't write to make friends. I don't write to preserve the status quo. I write to rattle cages until the locks fall off. I write to demolish old paradigms. I write to give voice to the voiceless: animals, Earth, and the Soul. I write to make hearts bleed with grief, and heal from Self reclamation. I write to shock, anger, irritate, and destroy the ignorance of antiquated belief systems. I write to bring light to the critical conversatio…

Why Yoga Is Good for Your Body and Brain, According to Science

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New research suggests that yoga directly influences our nervous systems, making us happier and healthier.

When I (Dacher Keltner) was 18, I wandered into a yoga class in my first year of college, hosted on a basketball court in the school’s gym. At the time, some 40 years ago, yoga had mystical, somewhat cult-like connotations. While a handful of students waited on mats, the teacher arrived dressed in white clothes, looking like Jesus. After playing a song on a wooden flute, and reading a few Haiku poems, he led the class through a series of yoga postures. Yoga, just getting off the ground in the West, would prove to be a salve for my anxious tendencies.

By Jaylissa Zheng, Dacher Keltner


Yoga may very well be one of our oldest happiness practices. Archeologists have discovered figurines in India that date from 5,000 years ago that represent what appear to be people in yoga postures. More certain is that yoga emerged some 2,500 years ago in Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India a…

A Hilarious Look at the Tiniest, One-Footed Surfers!

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Beachgoers beware, there are some crazy surfers on the loose! They are small, shelled, and are up to some strange antics. But don’t worry, unless you’re what’s for dinner, you’re probably safe, and certainly in for some entertainment!

The sandy shores of beaches are full of so much wonder; from the expansive ocean, stunning shells, and sunshine that we know so well, to the snails who surf along the water’s edge. Wait. Surfing snails? Oh yeah—we humans aren’t the only ones catching waves out there. There’s a world of tiny foot-surfers right in front of us!

By Sam Burns


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Teaching to Transgress: bell hooks on Education

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"My hope emerges from those places of struggle where I witness individuals positively transforming their lives and the world around them. Educating is always a vocation rooted in hopefulness. As teachers we believe that learning is possible, that nothing can keep an open mind from seeking after knowledge and finding a way to know." This piece explores bell hooks' inspiring perspectives on education, and explores her contributions within the context of her biography and work.


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The Waters of Heterodoxy

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"In The Fourth Phase of Water, Gerald Pollack [an award-winning and highly acclaimed professor) offers an elegant new theory of water chemistry that has profound implications not only for chemistry and biology, but for the metaphoric foundation of our understanding of reality and our treatment of nature.[...] The Fourth Phase of Water contributes to a much larger paradigm shift that is proceeding across all the sciences, and indeed to a transition in the defining mythology of our civilization. In science alone, the implications of his findings, if verified, are profound, especially in areas like cell biology, plant physiology, chemical signaling, and of course medicine. Beyond that, they erode the story that we live in a dead universe of generic substances, that we, the sole intelligence of that universe, are therefore its rightful lords and masters. Pollack is part of the evolution of science toward a more shamanic worldview that understands that all things possess…