August 12, 2013 • Written by Nancy Ball
Science and Spirituality
We are part of everything and everything is part of us…. Jeff Lieberman, an MIT scientist gives a wonderfully mind-boggling TEDtalk about our connection to everything in existence and everything that ever was in existence. I loved it because some of it meshes with my personal understanding of life. I wouldn’t have thought of most of it in this way though – another reason to enjoy this talk. Give it a listen. (If your brain starts to feel like it’s being tickled that means it is boggled.)
A Lesson in Empathy
Have you ever wondered about other people’s lives? I have. Often it’s when I’m on a bus and watching people going by. Sometimes it’s when I’m in my car and looking out the window at someone in a car beside me or when I’m in a slow moving line at the grocery store. Okay, it sounds like I’m only curious about other people’s lives when I’m stuck somewhere. But even if the motivation comes from feeling stuck, it gets me wondering about other people are experiencing in their lives. That’s a good thing.
The Cleveland Clinic has produced a short video on Empathy about just that – what other people are going through in their lives. Unfortunately, in real life there are no little pop-ups above people’s heads to tell us what they are experiencing – good or bad. But if we can keep in mind that we don’t know the other person’s story, we might be able to treat each other more gently. For myself, I’m going to try to be more consciously curious enough to really see the people I come across – even if I’m not stuck in traffic. Warning: the video just might make you cry a bit.
Ingenuity and Innovation
Inspiration and hope, and just plain – Wow! What amazing young people there are out there (thank goodness.) The Mothers of Invention articles are about women – not just young women but mainly they are young – who have come up with creative, practical, and often inspired ways of filling a need. (Click on the title, “Mothers of Invention” at the top of the web page to read the previous articles and watch a few interview videos.)
June 24, 2013 • Written by Nancy Ball
A Graduation Speech
Anyone who has signed up for DailyGood.org will have come across the Graduation Speech by Nipun Mehta, given at the May 2013 graduation at Harker School in California. If you haven’t read it, it is worth the time it takes to read. It’s inspiring in what seems at first to be a contradictory way. He introduces himself with good news and bad news. The good news is oh so brief while the bad news sounds rather hopeless at first. But Nipun keeps talking and offers some interesting solutions that he calls Keys. If you don’t want to read the whole speech, inspiring though it is, one thing worth looking at is the ServiceSpace web site, something he started about 10 years ago. It is about generosity – as Nipun says while paraphrasing the Dalai Lama, “It is in giving that we receive.”
When I think of personal wellness, just one of the aspects (there are plenty more) that comes to mind is related to feeling helpful and useful to others. For me being helpful doesn’t come only from empathy, it actually is selfish in a way – it feels good, it gives me a purpose, it allows me to believe that my activities and beliefs are meaningful.
If you are interested in the many aspects of living a Meaningful Life, go and explore the Greater Good site. It is chock-full of podcasts, videos, links, and printed information that will inspire, inform, and possibly lead you to even better wellness in your life.
There is a new type of game that sounds very intriguing and may well help players feel more connected to the world as a whole. I’ve never been a gamer of any kind but I may become one when I try some of the Games Aiming to Change the World. A couple of the game links just provide information about the game but most of the links take you right to the game where you can take on the challenge if you so choose.
If you look on the right side of the Games Aiming to Change the World page, there are links to related blog posts. Even if you’ve never been an instructor, you’ve been a student of one form or other. The blog post about Priming Your Brain for Academic Success covers some useful ideas whether you’re on the teaching side, the learning side or both sides of the academic world.
Irrational Decision Making
Speaking of how our brains work, apparently this rather important part of our bodies can trick us so well that when we think we are making a rational choice, it is anything but. A Behavioural economist, Dan Ariely, (a very humourous speaker, by the way) gave a TED talk (well, actually he did a study and wrote a book first) about just how irrational our decisions can be and why. Watch the TED talk video, listen to Dan Ariely, and laugh along with the audience. Decide what you think and then wonder if your brain is telling you the truth.
And more about our brains
What is the internet doing to our brains? A short video illustrating an interview with Nicholas Carr, the author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains will let you know (and it might worry you a bit.) The first 15 seconds of the video reminded me of when I first started venturing onto the internet back in the middle ages (Windows 3.1, I think). I remember having a great time looking for information on the internet but was constantly getting lost – as in losing track of what the heck I was looking for in the first place. It was a bit overwhelming. I can vividly remember my fleeting wish that I could just find what I needed in a book. My brain has since adjusted, thank goodness, or maybe not.
May 21, 2013 • Written by Nancy Ball
Tips on fighting boredom
Have you ever been bored? I have been on occasion. But I think I might be a lucky person because I don’t feel bored very often. Unfocused – yes, absent from my brain – far too often for comfort, bored – not so much. There are some good tips available for dealing with boredom when it sneaks into your mind. I’m amazed at how often I end up stuck somewhere without my usual ways of keeping my mind happy – favourite diversions include books, people watching, and humming (but only that only works if I’m alone.) Next time I might try one of the tips, like seeing things from a different perspective.
If you are at all interested in gardening or greening up your community, watch the TED talk by Ron Finley. I’ve certainly been looking at my parking space and boulevard with different eyes ever since I watched it.
Shared Words, Shared Worlds
When I read a story-poem about kindness and new friendships formed during an airport delay, I realized I should have taken my nose out of my e-reader the last time I was in an airport. I smiled at lots of people and some of them smiled back. I had a few conversations with a couple of people but they were what I call waiting-for-the-bus conversations (brief, partial conversations while everyone involved is hoping the bus is coming soon.) The story in the poem was such a lovely example of people coming together in a trying situation. Kindness, caring and sharing can work wonders.
Global Oneness Project
At first what caught my breath about the Global Oneness Project were the photos but this website has articles, photo essays, interviews, short films and study guides. Maybe it will inspire and inform you and make you want to explore further as much as it did for me.
April 15, 2013 • Written by Nancy Ball
This week on the Monday Mash we share some great links on music, memory, and the martial arts.
- Aikido turns conflict on its head. I’ve been fascinated by Aikido for years but have never followed my fascination into a class. The last session exercise classes here at RRC didn’t offer the Ki-Aikido classes that were offered previously and I was kicking myself for not taking the classes sooner. And since I hadn’t learned any form of Aikido yet I didn’t know how to redirect my kick and flow around it.
- If you really pay attention. This is a completely lovely story about paying attention. If you read it you can be warmed by a memory-story about learning to listen with the heart.
- SoundCloud. The SoundCloud website is an online audio distribution platform that allows collaboration, promotion and distribution of audio recordings by users. [wikipedia]. You have to sign up so that means another darn password to remember. But it’s free (or you can choose to go the paid subscription route) and you can find treasures to listen to! Or upload your own sounds, music and stories. There seem to be new audio files of all kinds uploaded every day. If you are a listener you will never run out of wonder. If you are a sound maker you will have an enormous audience.
- Virtual Choir. I had no idea I was a fan of choral music until I heard and saw Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir version of Lux Aurumque. The virtual choir concept and what Eric Whitacre has done with it is stunning and fascinating all by itself. He describes how it all started and how the process developed in this TED.com talk. You can find performances of choir music he has composed and conducted, some with virtual choirs on YouTube. I started with Lux Aurumque and continued exploring from there. Transcending is the word that floats into my brain when I think of this music.
If you have a link or a photo that you’d like to share send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to include it in a future “Mash” edition.
February 16, 2012 • Written by Nancy Ball
I love Walking. It’s such a healthy way to get around, and it doesn’t wreak havoc with my feet. I used to run a wee bit until plantar fasciitis came for a long, painful, visit. But walking has been beneficial; it’s kept me moving, it gets me outside and away from my computer.
Being a person who requires an external motivation, I’ve found that walking to a location is preferable to walking around a track or on a treadmill. Making a commitment to exercise can often be hard to keep up if it’s self-directed. If you live close to work or commute by bus, walking part of the way to work is a perfect motivator, particularly if you want to reach work in time. And at the end of the day, walking at least part way home from work is one of the best stress relievers available. Walking with a companion or two, either human or canine is a great incentive particularly if you can commit to regularly scheduled dates and times.
At any time of year, Winnipeg is a perfect city to walk in and around. There are so many beautiful places to wander. At this time of year, walking in the city is a bit of an adventure. So far this winter it’s not snow drifts that get in the way, it’s the ice. A person has to stay alert and plot their course down a stretch of sidewalk, with lots of weaving from one side to the other, a bit of clambering over some piled snow, a couple of hops over icy bits, and one or two leaps of faith.
If you are able to be mobile, walking is a convenient, easy-to-use method of staying healthy. It relieves stress, it can be meditative, or it can be exhilarating. Other than good shoes, no special equipment is needed. You can think, talk, sing if you want, and wander to your heart’s content, all while getting fit and healthy.
I’ll say it again, I love Walking … and Yoga and Zumba, but that’s another post, maybe.
Submitted by Nancy Ball, Research and Planning