Monthly Archives: March 2010

PUERTO RICAN MEDICAL DISORDERS (Funniest thing I read all day)

MONGA——-Mysterious body temperature, not high enough to be
considered fever, but serious enough to miss school and work. Illness
is unknown by the American Medical Association and only understood by
doctors of Puerto Rican origin.

PATATU——Attack of obscure origin that can strike at any time.
Could be serious enough to require hospitalization, yet is undetected
by medical technology. Victims tend to be males and females over the age of 50 years.

SERENO——Occurs when someone steps outdoors suddenly at night and is
sprinkled by a mysterious substance produced by the night air. There
are no physical symptoms and it can only be detected by the Puerto
Rican elderly. The effect of having this disease is unknown. Children
must not be taken out at night without proper headgear or risk of
contamination is certain.

EMPACHE—–Digestive disorder which occurs after the consumption of a
large Puerto rican meal. (alka seltzer is completely ineffective)

CUERPO COLTAO—-Frequent and mild condition of unknown etiology.
Symptoms include but are not limited to fatigue, lack of energy and chronic whining.

MOñO PARAO——Psychological imbalance of short duration that causes
strange mood swings, violent irritating behavior as well as general unpleasantness.

COCOTAZO—also referred to as the ‘Fuacate’.. The crippling effect
from a closed fist with the middle finger slightly raised above the
others….then comes the quick snap of the wrist. Usually landing on
the top of victims head…..(a favorite of fathers and grandfathers).

CHICHON—–Elevated cranial protrusion usually caused by the fall
after a ‘Patatu’. Can also be caused by the sudden or unexpected
encounter of the ‘cocotazo’.

If you have not encountered or witnessed these disorders, then you are not a typical Puerto Rican…

How to Get Into Stanford with B’s on Your Transcript: Failed Simulations & the Surprising Psychology of Impressiveness. How I felt and worked when I was in highschool.

I studied in one of Puerto Rico’s most acclaimed and accomplished schools. My parents did not have to money to pay the full tuition so I had a scholarship to attend said school.When I graduated, I was one of the most distinguished students. Why? Because I was the Music student in the Colegio Ponceño Sui Generis Class of 2007 of 98 student I stood out because I channeled my energy in one area in which not many students in my school did, why because my school focused on sports. I feel this made me look weird and somewhat of an outsider but looking back I feel very happy and accomplished I did that. Reading this post of Study Hacks “How to Get Into Stanford with B’s on Your Transcript: Failed Simulations & the Surprising Psychology of Impressiveness.” I got totally into this post. why? Because I AM Steve. I stood out and this gave me experience and the confidence to be where I am today a 3rd year college student whose a Music major and next semester will take my dream course Choral Conducting. So let this post inspire you as it did to me. And if you feel like an outsider in your own high school it will probably be better in the future!

Here is the post from Study Hacks

Steve and David

Let’s try a simple experiment. Imagine that you’re an admissions officer at a competitive college, and you’re evaluating the following two applicants:

  • David — He is captain of the track team and took Japanese calligraphy lessons throughout high school;  he wrote his application essay on the challenge of leading the track team to the division championship meet.
  • Steve — He does marketing for a sustainability-focused NGO; he wrote his application essay about lobbying delegates at the UN climate change conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Who impresses you more?

For most people, there’s little debate: Steve is the star.

But here’s the crucial follow-up question: Why is Steve more impressive than David?

The answer seems obvious, but as you’ll soon discover, the closer you look, the more hazy it becomes. To really understand Steve’s appeal, we will delve into the recesses of human psychology and discover a subtle but devastatingly power effect that will change your understanding of what it takes to stand out.

Steve’s Story

Steve is a real student, one of the many I profile in my new book on students who get into good colleges while still enjoying their high school lives.  He currently attends Columbia University, which he describes as: “a school I would have never gotten into without my UN work.”

Here’s how his story unfolded…

As a high school sophomore, Steve stumbled into an opportunity to attend a UN conference in New York City, near where he lived. A believer in underscheduling, he had been “e-mailing every non-profit under the soon, looking for an unpaid internship.” Most organizations ignored him. One wrote back, however, and said they didn’t have a job for Steve, but they did have a slot for a student to accompany their delegation to an upcoming UN conference on children’s rights.

Steve jumped at the opportunity. He met delegates and learned about related NGOs. He even spoke up in a sub-committee meeting. This led to an invitation to attend an upcoming conference. And then another. In a short span, Steve became a UN insider.

“I loved it,” he recalls.

It was with this experience under his belt that, one year leader, Steve found himself in a conversation with a college student at a model congress conference.

“What sorts of things are you working on?”, she asked.

Steve mentioned the UN.

“The UN?”, she replied, “I work with them.”

As they continued to talk, the young woman revealed that she was involved with a non-profit called SustainUS — a group dedicated to helping American youth advocate for climate issues. SustainUS, at the time, had little money and no office — the employees were volunteers who worked virtually, mainly from college dorm rooms, organizing with Yahoo Groups and free web-based conference calls.

Steve proposed that he help the non-profit gain press coverage for their activism. “I like speaking with people, and I like writing, so that was a natural thing for me to work on,” he recalls. The group agreed.

“At 16, I was younger than the other members,” Steve told me. “But technology masked that.”

Over the next year, Steve called and e-mailed reporters, eventually scoring a few big hits, including a mention in Time Magazine’s Green Issue and a write-up in the Associated Press. As a reward for these efforts, the organization told Steve he could join the team traveling to the UN climate conference in Johannesburg to present a petition signed by American youth.

This was the experience Steve emphasized in his head-turning application essay.

Decoding Steve’s Story

With these details established, let’s return to our motivating question: Why is Steve more impressive than David? The obvious answers now spawn troubling complications:

  • Explanation: Steve worked hard.
    Being a varsity athlete requires many more hours of hard work than Steve’s efforts.
  • Explanation: Steve revealed brilliance or natural talent.
    It’s hard to identify any specific brilliance or talent in Steve’s story. His path required him to attend conferences and send pitches to reporters. Being captain of a varsity sports team, by contrast, requires great natural ability — both in terms of athleticism and leadership.
  • Explanation: Steve showed “passionate” commitment.
    So did David. He stuck with track through four grueling years and kept up his calligraphy throughout this same period.
  • Explanation: Steve did something unusual, creative, and outside the structure of the school.
    Issue: Japanese calligraphy is also unusual, creative, and outside the structure of the school.

Steve’s impressiveness is intuitive and inescapable, but as the above exercise reveals, rationalizing this reaction proves tricky. To sidestep this obstacle, we must appeal to the curious psychology of social comparison.

Lassiter’s Insight

What happened inside your brain when you read the descriptions of David and Steve? According to a clever series of experiments conducted by G. Daniel Lassiter, a psychology professor at the University of Ohio, your first response was to look into the proverbial mirror. Or, as Lassiter describes it, somewhat more formally,  in his 2002 paper on the subject: we have a “pervasive tendency…to use the self as a standard of comparison in [our] dispassionate judgments of others.”

Put another way, to evaluate a person’s accomplishments, we imagine ourselves attempting the same feat, allowing your own capabilities to provide a convenient benchmark for assessing others’.

(In Lassiter’s experiments, students took tests made up of difficult mathematical puzzles. He showed that when a student was asked to rate the intelligence of another student, this judging student used a self-assessment of his own intelligence, combined with how well he did on the test, to construct the rating.)

Let’s walk through the logic here. When you first encountered David and Steve, your brain began to compare them to yourself. In essence, your brain asked: “Could I do that? And if so, what would it require?”

For David, this question was easy to answer. Assuming you had more or less the same athletic ability, you could imagine yourself becoming captain of the track team: show up on time to practice, work hard, respect the coaches, etc. The Japanese calligraphy is even easier to imagine yourself learning — it requires only that you sign up for lessons. You might conclude that David has more natural athletic ability and is a harder worker than yourself, but neither of these assessments leads you to think of him as a star.

(Admissions officers would agree. They’re not looking to build hardworking and diligent classes. Instead, they want to build classes that are interesting.)

Then there’s Steve. Your attempts to mentally simulate Steve’s path likely derailed. How the hell does a 16-year old end up lobbying delegates at an international UN conference? Your failed simulation then lead to a powerful conclusion: he must possess something special. This conclusion is soon followed by a feeling of profound impressiveness.

I call this outcome the failed simulation effect, which I formally define as follows:

The Failed Simulation Effect
Accomplishments that are hard to explain can be much more impressive than accomplishments that are simply hard to do.

This is the secret of Steve. He’s not brilliant. super passionate, or ultra-hard working — instead, he accomplished something that’s hard to explain. This is why he is more impressive than David, even though his high school career required less time devoted to extracurricular activities.

“Stanford Doesn’t Take Students with B’s!”

To help cement this concept, let’s consider the story that inspired the title of this post…

In the late spring of 2004, Kara, a junior at an elite Bay Area private high school, felt nervous as she arrived for a meeting with her college counselor.  Over the past three years, Kara had avoided the crush of competitive activities and AP courses that her peers suffered through to impress their reach schools. Even more galling to the hyper-competitive students at her school, she had even allowed the occasional B to creep onto her transcript.

(When her best friend tried to get Kara to drop a difficult linear algebra class, Kara, to her friend’s horror, simply shrugged and replied, “I like linear algebra.”)

“You’re on the cross country team, which is good,” the counselor began, when Kara sat down in her office. “But you’re not the president of any clubs, and with these grades, you’re just not going to get into your reach schools.”

Kara stammered a response, but was cut off: “Kara, Stanford doesn’t take students with B’s!”

This counselor, however, had not taken the failed simulation effect into account. It’s true that Kara had avoided an overloaded schedule, and in general enjoyed her high school experience. (”I was perceived as the relaxed kid at my high school,” Kara told me recently, grinning sheepishly as if admitting a crime. ) But her main activity, when described right, thwarts any attempt to be mentally simulated: she had developed a technology-based health curriculum that was adopted in ten states.

When you dig deeper, Kara’s path to this accomplishment was much like Steve’s — serendipitous occurrences developed, over time, into something inexplicable.  But these details are irrelevant, because before you can ponder the reality of the story, the failed simulation effect has taken hold.

Indeed, in defiance of her counselor’s protestations, Kara did get accepted to Stanford — not to mention Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and MIT, where she now attends.

The Most Important Effect You’ve Never Heard Of

I devote an entire third of my new book to exploring the failed simulation effect. I also made it a cornerstone of Study Hack’s zen valedictorian philosophy. So it’s clear that I’m a huge believer in its power. This being said, it’s still fair to ask whether this neat abstract concept actually plays a role in real world admissions decisions.

To answer this question, I turned to Dr. Michele Hernandez.  Dr. Hernandez is a former assistant dean of admissions at Dartmouth College and the author of the bestselling book, A is for Admission. She currently runs an elite college counseling service, and offers a popular 4-day application boot camp.

In other words, when it comes to figuring out what works in college admissions, Dr. Hernandez is the person to ask.

“College admissions officers are only human,” she told me. “If they stop to say to themselves as they read a file, ‘wow, I wonder how Nancy managed to do this,’ that will be a huge plus.”

Though the specific name, failed simulation effect, is new to Dr. Hernandez, the general concept is not: “In my private practice, I always push students to try something like this that will make them stand out. My most successful students are those that take me up on my offer.”

Such students, however, are surprisingly rare, and this is due to a thorny reality: it can be incredibly difficult to put this effect into practice.

A Simulated Catch-22

Like many students, your instinct on first hearing about the failed simulation effect was probably to think to yourself: “What could I do, like Steve or Kara, that will generate this same reaction?”

Unfortunately, the chances are slim that you’ll come up with a good answer.

Here’s why: If you’re able to think up an activity that will generate this effect, then, by definition, you were able to simulate the steps required to complete the activity — otherwise, it wouldn’t have come up as a possibility. If you’re able to simulate these steps, then it’s likely that other people could simulate them as well. The result: the activity will not generate the effect.

It’s a catch-22: if you can think up the activity, it won’t have the traits you need.

Fortunately, Steve’s story highlights an escape from this paradox.

The Insider Advantage

Sophomore-year Steve could not have woken up one morning and thought: “I got it! I’ll find a youth-focused sustainability organization and volunteer to work on their media outreach so I can earn a trip to a UN conference!”

But for junior-year Steve, who had already done work with the UN, leading him to meet a representative of SustainUS, this failed simulation effect-generating idea was completely natural.

The difference is that junior-year Steve had become an insider. We can generalize this observation into an effective strategy for finding similar projects:

  1. Choose a field.
    If you have a deep interest, this makes the choice obvious, but don’t over think this decision: you don’t need some mythical perfect match with some equally mythical innate talents or passions — your interest will grow with your involvement.
  2. Get your foot in the door.
    Join a community; volunteer; attend a conference: whatever exposes you to the inside workings of the field
  3. Pay your dues.
    The more you exceed expectations, the quicker you’ll rise to insider status.
  4. Once you’re an insider — and not before –  seek projects with failed simulation effect potential.
    If you start this search before your an insider, you’ll end up with generic ideas that are easily simulatable.

In other words, devote your energies towards becoming an insider and head-turning project possibilities will eventually come along for free.

Putting the Pieces Together

As you age, the failed simulation effect becomes less relevant. At its core is the surprising juxtaposition of an impressive accomplishment and the young age of its progenitor. When you’re 25, by contrast, and trying to craft a remarkable life, the failed simulation effect won’t save you from actually becoming really good at something rare and valuable.

But for a high school student, this effect can provide a strong foundation for building an impressive college application without living an overloaded lifestyle.

As mentioned, I devote an entire third of my new book to detailed case studies and step-by-step instructions for how to realistically integrate this advice into your life. If you’re serious about this philosophy, you might consider pre-ordering a copy. In the meantime, however, the ideas laid out in this article should be more than enough to get you started: quit the key club; ditch the expensive mission trip; drop the 5th and 6th AP course from your schedule; and put your attention toward becoming an insider.

Then once you’re on the inside, let the failed simulation effect lead you to an uncluttered, meaningful, and happy high school life.

No air

Don’t know why but I feel like this today… And I feel like the glee version of the song ….

If I should die before I wake
It’s ’cause you took my breath away
Losing you is like living in a world with no air

I’m here alone, didn’t wanna leave
My heart won’t move, it’s incomplete
Wish there was a way that I can make you understand

But how do you expect me
to live alone with just me
‘Cause my world revolves around you
It’s so hard for me to breathe

Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air
Can’t live, can’t breathe with no air
It’s how I feel whenever you ain’t there
It’s no air, no air
Got me out here in the water so deep
Tell me how you gonna be without me
If you ain’t here, I just can’t breathe
It’s no air, no air

No air, air – No
No air, air – No
No air, air – No
No air, air

I walked, I ran, I jumped, I flew
Right off the ground to float to you
There’s no gravity to hold me down for real

But somehow I’m still alive inside
You took my breath, but I survived
I don’t know how, but I don’t even care

So how do you expect me
to live alone with just me
‘Cause my world revolves around you
It’s so hard for me to breathe

Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air – (Uh – oh)
Can’t live, can’t breathe with no air – (No – No)
It’s how I feel whenever you ain’t there
It’s no air, no air
Got me out here in the water so deep – (So Deep)
Tell me how you gonna be without me – (Without Me)
If you ain’t here, I just can’t breathe ( Breathe – No – No- aha)
It’s no air, no air (No – No)

No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No more
It’s no air, no air

[Chorus x2]

No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No air, air

You got me out here in the water so deep
Tell me how you gonna be without me
If you ain’t here, I just can’t breathe
It’s no air, no air

No Air (No)
No Air (No – No)
No Air
No Air
No Air”

Efectos “secundarios” de la música en tu cerebro.

Found this on the local paper titiled “El Nuevo Día” ( The New Day). It’s good to know that some people are taking notice of this

Por: El Universal / México/GDA

Los sonidos y las vibraciones estimulanel organismo, ayudándolo a superar problemas y enfermedades

La música influye de diferentes formas en el cuerpo humano. Principalmente, altera al cerebro, generando reacciones emotivas que estimulan la inteligencia o ayudan a superar alguna enfermedad.

Científicos del Instituto de Neuroterapia y Rehabilitación de Londres han llegado a la conclusión de que los sonidos actúan en el cerebro como una “megavitamina” capaz de reducir diferentes tipos de malestares, así como mejorar la función motora y comunicativa de las personas.

Un ejemplo de los efectos sonoros en el organismo se puede ver en un grupo de enfermos de Parkinson y esclerosis múltiple, de Inglaterra, quienes han presentado mejoría desde que se integraron a un coro musical.

De acuerdo con un artículo publicado en New Scientist, las personas han presentando avances a nivel físico y neuronal, gracias a la terapia musical provocada inconscientemente al cantar y ensayar.

Por otra parte, personas afectadas con problemas cerebrovasculares también se pueden beneficiar de la música. Estudios realizados por científicos finlandeses han descubierto que escuchar melodías por varias horas al día beneficia la rehabilitación de los pacientes.

Aquellos afectados por el Alzheimer también encuentran beneficios en el uso de la música y de ciertas canciones en específico, ya que estas estimulan el cerebro y ayudan a que la persona comience a recordar determinadas situaciones

Una de las ventajas de la llamada musicoterapia es que no sólo brinda beneficios a personas con problemas de salud, sino que también ayuda a personas sanas. El control de las emociones puede mejorar mediante el uso de esta herramienta, que relaja y tranquiliza a las personas. Funciona de igual manera en mujeres embarazadas.

The Only Guide to Happiness You’ll Ever Need

This is a great post I found on Zen habits and I hope you will like it to.

“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin

For some of us, the ultimate goal in life is happiness.

Whether we see fulfillment in our work, contentment in our relationships, passion in our hobbies … we strive to find happiness.

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” – Aristotle

And yet, this search for happiness can be a lifelong search, especially if we look at happiness as something that will come once we achieve certain goals — a nice home, a perfect spouse, the ultimate promotion … and when we get these goals, instead of being happy, we often are looking forward to being happy when we meet our next goals.

Happiness shouldn’t be something that happens to us in the future, maybe someday, if things go well. Happiness should be here and now, who we are now, with the people we’re with now, doing the things we’re doing now. And if we’re not with people who make us happy, and doing things that make us happy … then we should take action to make that happen.

That’s the simple formula for happiness. Take action to do the things that make you happy, with the people who make you happy, and to be happy with the person you are now. (Disclaimer: this probably doesn’t apply, of course, to those who are clinically depressed or who have other similar medical conditions which I am not qualified to discuss.)

Don’t wait for happiness. Seize it.

“If you want to be happy, be.” – Leo Tolstoy

Here’s how — a list of action you can take today to seize that happiness. You don’t have to do these all at once, but you should do most (if not all) of them eventually, and sooner rather than later. Pick one or two and start today.

1. Be present. Don’t think about how great things will be in the future. Don’t dwell on what did or didn’t happen in the past. Learn to be in the here and now, and experience life as it’s happening, and appreciate the world for the beauty that it is, right now. Practice makes perfect with this crucial skill.
2. Connect with others. In my experience, very few things can achieve happiness as well as connecting with other human beings, cultivating relationships, bonding with others. Some tips on doing this.
3. Spend time with those you love. This might seem almost the same as the item above, and in reality it’s an extension of the same concept, a more specific application. Spending time with the people you love is extremely important to happiness … and yet it’s incredible how often we do just the opposite, and spend time alone, or disconnected from those we love, or spend time with people we don’t much like. Make it a priority to schedule time with the people you love. Make that your most important item of the day. For myself, I have a time when I cut off work, and the rest of the day is for my family. Weekends are exclusively for my family. And by setting aside this sacred time, I ensure my happiness by letting nothing come between me and the people I love most.
4. Do the things you love. What do you love doing most? Figure out the 4-5 things you love doing most in life, the things that make you happiest, and make those the foundation of your day, every day. Eliminate as much of the rest as possible. For me, the things I love doing are: spending time with my family, writing, reading, and running. I do those things every day, and very little else. It may take awhile to get your life down to your essentials like I have (it took me a few years of careful elimination and rescheduling and saying “no” to requests that aren’t on my short list), but it’s worth the effort.
5. Focus on the good things. Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects — whether you’re happy or not depends largely on which aspects you focus on. Did you lose today’s softball game? At least you got to spend time with friends doing something fun. Did you sprain your ankle running? Well, your body probably needed a week’s rest anyway, as you were running too much! Did your baby get sick? Well, at least it’s only a flu virus and nothing life-threatening … and at least you have a wonderful baby to nurse to health! You can see my point — almost everything has a positive side, and focusing on the positives make all the difference. My Auntie Kerry died last week (as you know), and I’m still grieving, but

  1. I’m happy I spent time with her before her death;
  2. her death has brought our family closer together;
  3. her suffering has ended; and
  4. it reminded me to spend more time with the people I love while they’re still alive.

6. Do work you love. An extension, of course, of doing the things you love, but applied to work. Are you already doing the work you love? Then you’re one of the lucky ones, and you should appreciate how lucky you are. If you aren’t doing the work you love, you should make it a priority to try to find work you’re passionate about, and to steer your career in that direction. Take myself for example: I was doing work that I was good at (just last year), but that I wasn’t passionate about. I was passionate about writing, and so I pursued blogging … and with a year of hard work, was able to quit my day job and blog full time. I’m so much happier these days!
7. Lose yourself in your work. Once you’ve found work you love, the key is to lose yourself in it … clear away all distractions, find an interesting and challenging task, and just pour all your energy and focus into that task. With practice, you’ll forget about the outside world. There are few work-related joys that equal this feeling. Read more.
8. Help others. Is there any better feeling than helping a fellow human being? There aren’t many. And it’s not too hard — here are 25 ways.
9. Find time for peace. With the hectic pace of life these days, it’s hard to find a moment of peace. But if you can make time for solitude and quiet, it can be one of the happiest parts of your day. Here’s how.
10. Notice the small things. Instead of waiting for the big things to happen — marriage, kids, house, nice car, big promotion, winning the lottery — find happiness in the small things that happen every day. Little things like having a quiet cup of coffee in the early morning hours, or the delicious and simple taste of berries, or the pleasure of reading a book with your child, or taking a walk with your partner. Noticing these small pleasures, throughout your day, makes a huge difference.
11. Develop compassion. Compassion is developing a sense of shared suffering with others … and taking steps to alleviate the suffering of others. I think too often we forget about the suffering of others while focusing on our own suffering, and if we learned to share the suffering of others, our suffering would seem insignificant as a result. Compassion is an extremely valuable skill to learn, and you get better with practice. Here’s how.
12. Be grateful. Learning to be grateful for what’s in our lives, for the people who have enriched our lives, goes a long way toward happiness. It helps us to appreciate what we have and what we have received, and the people who have helped us. Read more.
13. Become a lifelong learner. I find an inordinate amount of pleasure in reading, in learning about new things, in enriching my knowledge as I get older. I think spending time reading some of the classics, as well as passionately pursuing new interests, is energy well invested. Try to do a little of it every day, and see if it doesn’t make you happier.
14. Simplify your life. This is really about identifying the things you love (see above) and then eliminating everything else as much as possible. By simplifying your life in this way, you create time for your happiness, and you reduce the stress and chaos in your life. In my experience, living a very simple life is also a pleasure in itself.
15. Slow down. Similar to simplifying, slowing down is just a matter of reminding yourself that there’s no need to rush through life. Schedule less things on your calendar, and more space between things. Learn to eat slower, drive slower, walk slower (unless you’re doing it for exercise). Going slowly helps to reduce stress, and improve the pleasure of doing things, and keeps you in the present moment.
16. Exercise. I’ve written about the pleasures of exercise many times. It can be hard to start an exercise program (here’s how) but once you get going, it relieves stress and can really give you a good feeling. I feel joyful every time I go out for a run!
17. Meditate. You don’t need to join a Zendo or get a mat or learn any lotus positions, but the simplest form of meditation can really help you to be present and to get out of the worrying part of your head. You can do it right now: close your eyes and simply try to focus on your breathing as long as possible. Pay attention to the breath as it comes into your body, and then as it goes out. When you feel your mind start to wander, don’t fret, but just simply acknowledge the other thoughts, and then return to your breathing. Do this a little each day and you’ll get better at it.
18. Learn to accept. One of the challenges for people like me — people who want to improve themselves and change the world — is learning to accept things as they are. Sometimes it’s better to learn to accept, and to love, the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to try to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal. I’m not saying you should accept cruelty and injustice, but learn to love things when they are less than “perfect”.
19. Spend time in nature. Go outside and take a walk each day, or take the time to watch a sunset or sunrise. Or find a body of water — the ocean, a lake, a river, a pond — and spend time taking a look at it, contemplating it. If you’re lucky enough to live near some woods, or a mountain, or a canyon, go hiking. Time in nature is time invested in your happiness.
20. Find the miracles in life. I absolutely believe in miracles, and believe that they are all around us, every day. My children are all miracles. The kindnesses of strangers are miracles. The life growing all around us is a miracle. Find those miracles in your life, and enjoy the majesty of them.

For more happiness reading, check out my favorite happiness blog: The Happiness Project, by the lovely Gretchen Rubin.

“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Advice from a master comedian…

As all well know Steve Martin is an awesome comedian and great human being. He has been one of many inspirational people for a great majority of the world’s population. Why I say that? Well because first of all it’s true and second because he made it in the entertainment business by BEING HIMSELF which is a lot and as he says in his advice the only way be good in your area of choice is by being yourself and “being so good the can’t ignore you”.

As a struggling composer and future choir director this is what you need be a successful musician in this area. Why? Because if you are not yourself your compositions will suffer and you would be trying to imitate, write or evoke an emotion which is not likely be yours which is a big error because as author and world renounced conductor James Jordan would say “you are not being honest to music and hence not being a good musician” Alas this is what the music world is today imitation there is no “honest music”. If  an artist is successful with a song struggling artists will try to imitate that so that they’ll be equally successful. What I am trying to say here just be yourself, and in your job or career if choice people will start to notice you more and maybe we will be as successful as this master comedian.

Study Hacks » Blog Archive » The Steve Martin Method: A Master Comedian’s Advice for Becoming Famous.

YouTube – Gustavo Dudamel at the Proms – Arturo Márquez – Danzón Nº 2

YouTube – Gustavo Dudamel at the Proms – Arturo Márquez – Danzón Nº 2.


The Critical 7 Rules To Understand People

My headline might sound overreaching. Clearly a rule can’t define something as complex as human behavior. But despite this, I’ve found most people tend to make the same mistakes. These mistakes are frequent enough that they create conflicts later. Remembering these seven rules will help you avoid these mistakes.

People Skills is About Being Nice, Friendly and Interesting, Duh!
Most the books I’ve read on dealing with people either make two claims:
Incredibly obvious stuff that most sensible people understand; even if they haven’t always mastered it. Things like be nice, be considerate, etc. Bizarre and complex theories that may explain some behavior, but is difficult to generalize.
Between these two I’ve found there seems to be a gap of information that is can be applied generally, but isn’t always obvious. These frequent mistakes tend to cause most people conflicts, social errors and emotional upsets.

The Seven

Here are the seven rules I’m talking about:

    • Rule One: Never blame malice for what can easily be explained by conceit.

      People don’t care about you. This isn’t because people are mean or hurtful, but simply because they are mostly focused on themselves. Consider this hypothetical pie-chart showing the variety of thoughts a typical person has:In this example, 60% of thoughts are self-directed. My goals. My problems. My feelings. Another 30% are directed towards relationships, but how they affect me. What does Julie think of me? How will boss evaluate my performance in the next review? Do my friends like me or see me as irritating?
      Only 10% in this model is time spent in empathy. Empathy is the rare event where one person actually feels the emotions, problems and perspective of another person. Instead of asking what Julie thinks of me, I ask what is Julie thinking. Within that 10%, most people then divide attention between hundreds of other people they know. As a result, you would occupy a fraction of a percentage in most peoples minds, and only a couple percentage points in a deeply bonded relationship. Even if you are in another persons thoughts, it is how your relationship affects them, not you.
      What does this mean?Embarrassment doesn’t make a lot of sense. Since others are only focusing a small portion of there thoughts onto judging you, your self-judgement is overwhelmingly larger.
      People who appear to be mean or hurtful don’t usually do it intentionally. There are exceptions to this, but generally the hurt you feel is a side-effect, not the principle cause.
      Relationships are your job to maintain. Don’t wait to be invited to parties or for people to approach you.

      • Rule Two: Few Social Behaviors are Explicit

      Basically this rule means that most the intentions behind our actions are hidden. If a person is feeling depressed or angry, usually the resulting behaviors distort their true feelings. If I feel you snubbed me, I might hold my tongue but ignore you later.
      The old joke is that women use words like, “fine,” and, “go ahead,” when they really feel the opposite. But I’ve noticed men do this too in polite situations, although often not in the same way.
      The application of this rule is that you need to focus on empathy, not just hearing a person. Demonstrate trust, build rapport and learn to probe a bit. By focusing on empathy you can usually break away these subversions and get to the heart of the issue faster.
      The other application of this rule is that most the time you feel something, nobody else knows about it. So don’t get angry when people aren’t responding to you. If you deceive your thoughts with your actions, don’t get angry when you fool people.

      • Rule Three: Behavior is Largely Dictated by Selfish Altruism

      To say everyone is completely selfish is a gross exaggeration. That ignores all the acts of kindness, sacrifice and love that make the world work. But I would argue that most (not all, but most) behavior does work from the principles of selfish altruism.
      Selfish altruism is basically win/win. It is where helping you directly or indirectly helps me. There are a couple main categories where this applies:
      Transactions – If I purchase a car, both myself and the dealer benefit. I get a vehicle, which I want. The dealer gets money to improve his lifestyle. This is the predominant form of selfish altruism between people who don’t have emotional bonds.
      Familial – Blood is thicker than water. We are designed to protect people who share our genes. This can sometimes shift towards extremely close friends and loved ones.
      Status – Helping someone is a sign of power. Many species of primates will offer assistance as a sign of dominance. People act similarly, offering aid to boost their self-esteem and reputation.
      Implied Reciprocity – Many relationships are based on the idea that if I help you, one day you will help me as well.
      Occasionally behavior falls outside this group. Nameless heroes dying for causes that don’t help their bloodline. Volunteers devoting their time towards humanitarian missions. But these are the minority, whereas most actions can be explained by some form of selfish altruism.
      How do you apply this rule? You understand the motives of people and appeal to them as if they were selfish. Find ways to help people within these four categories. Don’t expect people to offer aid outside of selfish altruism, it isn’t impossible, but it isn’t likely.

      • Rule Four: People Have Poor Memories

      Ever been told someone’s name at a party and then forgot it later? Another rule of human behavior is that people have trouble remembering things. Especially information (as you’ll recall in rule one) that doesn’t apply to themselves. People are more likely to remember your similarities than your differences (unless they were emotionally incensed by them).
      Recently I even broke this rule. I made arrangements to talk to a person I hadn’t met before on the phone. Even with my normally foolproof system of calendars and to-do lists, a few spontaneous schedule changes caused me to miss the call. I quickly apologized and made a new arrangement.
      But the fact is most people don’t have organized GTD systems. People are forgetful by nature, so once again, don’t assume malice or disinterest if something is forgotten. The other side of this rule is that you can demonstrate reliability by having a good memory or system (if it doesn’t fail you).

      • Rule Five: Everyone is Emotional

      Perhaps this is an exaggeration. But the core of the message is that people tend to have stronger feelings about something than they let on. People who regularly have outbursts of anger, depression or flamboyant enthusiasm are generally frowned upon in most cultures. This especially applies to men (for women trying to figure us out).
      The application of this rule is to not assume everything is fine just because someone isn’t having a nervous breakdown. We all have our individual problems, angst and upsets that are normally contained. You don’t need to call people out on their private deception, but being sensitive to those underlying currents gives you an advantage in trying to help.
      The alternate application of this rule is similar to rule two. People generally assume everything is fine unless you just had a blowup.

      • Rule Six: People are Lonely

      This is another broad generalization. But it is amazing how many people who seem to have it all, suffer from bouts of loneliness. As social animals, I believe people are especially sensitive to any threats to becoming ostracized. In Neanderthal times, exile meant death, so loneliness and the desire to be with other people is a strong one.
      The application of this rule is that loneliness is fairly common, so in that sense, you really aren’t alone. I used to be bothered when I felt alone or an outsider in a social group. Although I’m still human, I’ve found recognizing this feeling to be fairly common as a way to minimize it.

      • Rule Seven: Did I Mention People Are Self-Absorbed?

      This may sound like a reiteration of rule one, but I believe the applications extend beyond relationships and your emotional state. The fact that people tend to be too concerned about themselves to give you much attention, that people tend to be lonelier, more emotional and feel differently than they let on applies to how you view the world.
      If anything this perspective should make you more proactive and independent. Once I started really learning these rules, it made far more sense that I needed to take charge. By placing your individual happiness in the hands of another person (or people), you ignore all these rules and do so at your own peril.
      I like to take an optimistic, but realistic view of people. People who are generally try their best, but make mistakes and suffer from unintended self-absorption. In other words, they are basically like you.

      When I first saw you…

      When I first saw you, I fell in love
      You asked me last summer
      but I couldn’t  tell you that

      When I fisrt saw you
      I saw your raw pure talent
      The one that now you see
      after all those months of thespian-sy

      When I first saw you, I fell in love
      so hard it made God cry
      And now I’m so stupid
      That I could follow you stupid
      to the end of the world and back
      on a balloon ride to never land

      When I first saw you , I fell in love
      so scared now I would cry a river and ride back
      to the land my heart sank
      where you told me …. you love me back

      By: José A. Clavell Acosta

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