TED Talk Friday: The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go

This is a great talk told in an incredibly personable, relatable way. Her message around the danger of “not yet” is something that rings true for me across numerous areas of my life, but I’ve been working very hard over the past year to lose that outlook. Saying “not yet” helps us cling to certain things, or stay a step away from things, and those choices often come from fear. I hope you enjoy this wonderful talk.

***
What do you need to let go of? Which rule is your favorite?

Ted Talk Friday: What to do when your worldview falls apart

The opening of this talk deeply resonated with me; I remember the moment I started questioning, then completely doubting God. Up until that point, I don’t think I questioned the existence of God–I was raised Catholic, going to Sunday school and church every week. Questioning our world view is terrifying, but it is crucial to building our own identity and learning to think critically.

***

Do you question your beliefs? Does questioning them scare you?

Movie Review: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I don’t think I’ve ever done a movie review on the blog, but I feel the need to share and reflect on this wonderful documentary.

I have vague memories watching Mr. Rogers growing up; his kind face, his sweaters, his assuring voice. I didn’t know what to expect of the movie, but I was quickly lost in the fascinating world of Mr. Rogers.

His character on TV was not just a persona, it was exactly who he was. I was surprised to learn that he was a minister (and republican!), but none of those details mattered–the only thing he preached of was love. He embodied Carl Rogers’ concept of “unconditional positive regard,” which is the idea that an individual is loved and lovable no matter what they say or do.

To Mr. Rogers, every child has a right to unconditional positive regard. What a powerful, simple concept.

He discussed emotionally painful situations like divorce, assassination, and 9/11 with kids. Often people feel the need to shelter kids from these events, but children sense when something is wrong–and they deserve to know. Mr. Rogers knew that and knew exactly how to tell them.

I was young when 9/11 happened and asked my mom, “There were not any people on the plane, right?” I don’t know how she answered, but I know it was a good answer. My parents mirrored Mr. Rogers approach–they always told us the truth in a way we could understand, no matter how painful.

The movie explores Mr. Rogers deeply as a person; he had so much grit, passion, and kindness in his heart. He seemed to never waver, but partway through the movie we learn that was not the case. Even he was not perfect. He has self-doubt and questions, but he always chose to persevere because he knew children needed help.

He have a commencement speech, and part of it was included in the movie. One line: “Take a full minute and think about someone who has loved you into being. The timer starts now.”

I thought about this phrase and tears slowly started coming. I thought of my high school boyfriend, someone who has come up frequently in the blog over the past year. He died from an overdose about a year ago; it rocked me to my core and continues to rock me. He loved be into being. He loved me into knowing I was enough, lovable, special.

“Thank you, Max, for loving me into being” I thought. It wasn’t sadness about his death that was bringing me tears, but instead tears of gratitude that I experienced that kind of unconditional love and acceptance so young. My parents always gave me that love, but it’s the first time I felt it in someone who was not in my family–and that gives a different feeling.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a must-see; it adds so much depth to the staple childhood show. Mr. Rogers was not simply the character, he was that person. He was kind, loving, and generous–those kinds of people can exist and can make amazing change in the world. The movie also prompts self-reflection that went far beyond what I expected (I know I didn’t expect to cry!).

***

Have you watched Mr. Rogers? Did you see the movie?

We Finally Know What About Meditation?

Meditation comes up in the news all the time as the newest “hot thing” to do for your heath. It has tons of research support for improving mental and physical health, but I was shocked to learn that its benefits for stress were only confirmed in the past few days.

Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 9.26.31 PM.png

We know meditation can help quiet the mind, but this new study showed the meditation also helps calm the heart. When we are stressed, our heart physically beats differently and researchers have now found how to observe the combined changes of meditation, heart beat, and stress. Yoga meditation was found to have the strongest effect and the positive effects aren’t limited to only the period of time spent meditating. The physiological benefits, such as a calmer heart rate, persist even after the meditation session has ended. Some of those positive effects include mental ability for goal-oriented thinking, which requires strong executive control.

Again, we often underestimate the interconnectedness of mind and body.

I personally do not meditate as much as I would like–meaning I don’t make it a priority in my life. I’ve downloaded Headspace and really need the catalyst to commit and turn it into a daily practice.

Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 9.26.10 PM

I pride myself on learning about health, integrating healthy habits into my life, and setting a positive example, although this is one are I just can’t seem to budge.

Everyone struggles with certain things like this. For example, I work at a company focused entirely on wellbeing. We preach mindful eating and taking short breaks at work, yet everyone eats at their desk while working…what’s up with that? It’s HARD to make the right healthy choices. We have to prioritize them. My coworkers would have to think “well, this email can wait until I’ve enjoyed my salad and caught up with a friend”, and I would have to say-, “pause your anxious mind for these five minutes and simply be.”

When it comes down to it, we all have to pick our battles and choose the ways we want to honor our wellbeing.

***

What are healthy habits you are striving toward? What’s stopping you?

 

Ted Talk Friday: Best-Self Activation

What a wonderful talk; this came out only a few days ago and it might be one the best talks I’ve seen in a while. Dan Cable, a new name to me, wove together a beautiful, complex, and persuasive story of what it means to “activate our best selves” and how we can do it more often.

I’ve completed the peer surveys for friends in the past and see it as such a valuable tool. Cable also mentioned a test to determine your values and positive character strengths–I highly recommend taking it. The survey is called the VIA and can be found here.

***

When do you feel like your best self is activated?

Ted Talk Friday: My story is painted on my body

I picked this talk randomly while looking for a shorter talk. At first I was not enjoying this, but it quickly took a turn halfway through. I was so intrigued how a young girl who was bullied then became a bully herself. I am sometimes naive to think that empathy is inherent and that we always learn by experience. Hearing this young woman reflect on her experiences really made me pause and think.

***
Are you surprised she was a bully after being bullied?

News alert: IIFYM, Sugar, & Sweeteners

I have always been fascinated by the strange world of nutrition science (or lack thereof); every day there is a new diet in the news or a new supplement with promises for weight loss or muscle gain. It’s exhausting to follow all of the new trends, but one trend that has caught on across social media is called IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). This diet, or lifestyle, is about breaking down your diet by nutrient: carb, fat, & protein. It’s not about what you’re eating, but instead about the nutritional breakdown. For example, x amount of cotton candy is 50 carbs, but so is a huge bowl of fruit–and thus, those two food choices are counted equally.

A lot of individuals say this makes them feel free to eat “unhealthy” foods without guilt; if that is what it takes for you to have a balanced diet, then more power to you. I personally think food should never come with guilt–whether you’re choosing to eat that cotton candy or the fruit. Instead, see how you feel. I know I would savor and enjoy the fruit, while the cotton candy would leave me on a sugar high & crash. Sure, enjoying cotton candy at the county fair once a year is fun, but it’s not what I would consider a balanced diet.

Despite this IIFYM obsession, I read a recent article that concludes that sugar sweetened beverages, when compared to starchy carb equivalents, have a more harmful effect & increase cardiometabolic risk factors.

Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 12.08.46 PM.png

These same researchers also concluded that there is no strong evidence supporting the idea that noncaloric sweeteners (like Splenda, aspartame, etc.) contribute to weight gain. A quick google search shows that popular media has run wild with the idea that fake sugars will only increase weight, but there is little support for this theory. Takeaway: If you’re going to drink Coke or Diet Coke no matter what, drink the Diet Coke.

Nutrition is about balance and for a lot of people, simple harm reduction. One fewer sugar-sweetened soda. One extra serving of veggies. All of these small daily choices add up over a lifetime. Use your common sense, and don’t believe everything you read.

***

How do you make your nutritional choices? Do you drink regular or diet soda?

Ted Talk Friday: How to live passionately–no matter your age

I love Isabel Allende; she has lived through such tragedies and has come out with such an inspiring, hopeful attitude about the world we live in. As I see people I love age, I think about what aging means today. We perceive those who are aging as weak and tired, but that is simply not the case. We need to tell ourselves the story that vibrance, passion, and excitement do not dissipate as we age, instead we can learn how to make those qualities grow even more.

 

 

 

***
Do you agree on Allende’s principals of living passionately? Do you live your life how she does?

Does your schedule make you less productive?

A recent study from the Ohio State University found that we perceive we have less time when we have an upcoming meeting (which makes sense), but as a result we do not make the best use of that time. We subjectively feel that we have less time to accomplish tasks or reach goals, often leaving a few minutes of “wiggle room” before a meeting or appointment. Individuals, on average, performed fewer tasks when they were reminded that had an upcoming appointment compared to those without the reminder.

Screen Shot 2018-05-26 at 6.59.16 PM

At first I was surprised and skeptical. I feel that I am more productive when I know I have x amount of time before a meeting to knock a few items off of my to-do list. As a I read about the first study, I assumed I must be a special snowflake who does not fall into this trap. Then I read that this finding held up across eight studies.

Well, I need to re-think how I structure my days! When I have work days with 4 to 6 meetings sprinkled throughout the day, I hardly have room to breathe–let alone sit and focus on one task. With 2 to 3 meetings, my day feels entirely different. I have beautiful long, clear hours on my calendar. I fill that space by knocking off items from my to-do list, which are typically prioritized by importance. Occasionally I throw in a few easy, 5-minute tasks just to get that little dopamine hit and feel accomplished 😉

Screen Shot 2018-05-26 at 7.22.46 PM

This is definitely a good lesson in time management; I wonder if knowing this will change how I am able to schedule around my meetings? If we are aware, can we counter-balance our overestimation? It seems like knowing we overestimate time before appointments or meetings could help minimize the potential time impact. I will definitely keep you updated on how incorporating this information into my day affects me.

***

Do you overestimate the time-cost of meetings? Do you feel like an appointment deadline makes you more or less productive?

 

Ted Talk Friday: Why tech needs the humanities

I am in 100% agreement with this talk; I had an incredibly interdisciplinary education during college. I took classes ranging from the Philosophy of Truth, Certainty,  & Knowledge to courses on the biology of the microbiome. I was a fellow for the IDEAS program, Interdisciplinary Education and Scholarship, while at Emory where I had the chance to discuss the value of interdisciplinary education and thought with peers every week. Working at a tech company now, I see the danger in thinking in only one way–so many STEM fields focus on the binary, one-solution style model, but the world and its answers are diverse, multifaceted, and far from binary.

 

 

 

 ***
Do you agree that we overemphasize the value of STEM fields?