Category Archives: Culture

What is the Happiest Country in the World?

alex atkins bookshelf cultureEvery few years Gallup conducts a world poll (known as the Gallup World Poll) of more than 150 countries (and the immigrants of 117 countries) that represent more than 98% of the world’s population. The poll uses the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale to evaluate well-being. The scale consists of the following statements and questions: 1. Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. 2. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. 3. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time? 4. On which step do you think you will stand about five years from now?

Recently, the United Nations used this data (from 215-2017) to develop its World Happiness Report 2018. The results are fascinating. Ironically for a country that has “the pursuit of happiness” enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, consumes more than 220 Happy Meals each year, and spends more than $11 billion on self-help — happiness is not easily attainable in America. It is humbling and sobering to know that the United States does not make it in the top ten. Norway, Denmark, and Iceland are the happiest countries on earth whose population — including immigrants — truly embrace the philosophy of “don’t worry, be happy.” Interestingly, the top ten countries have been held by the same countries for the past two years. The report notes: “All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.” On the other side of the scale are the unhappiest countries on earth: Tanzania, Burundi, and Central Africa Republic.

The report concludes with three emerging global health problems that threaten happiness: obesity, the opioid crisis, and depression. Of great concern is that these particular problems have been growing faster in the United States than any other country. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2016 more than 16.2 million adults in America reported at least one major depressive episode (accounting for 6.7% of all adults in the U.S.).

The Happiest Countries in the World (Country followed by Cantril score)

1. Norway (7.537)
2. Denmark (7.522)
3. Iceland (7.504)
4. Switzerland (7.494)
5. Finland (7.469)
6. Netherlands (7.377)
7. Canada (7.316)
8. New Zealand (7.314)
9. Australia (7.284)
10. Sweden (7.284)
11. Israel (7.213)
12. Costa Rica (7.079)
13. Austria (7.006)
14. United States (6.993)
15. Ireland (6.977)

The Unhappiest Countries in the World

Yemen (3.593)
South Sudan (3.591)
Liberia (3.533)
Guinea (3.507)
Togo (3.495)
Rwanda (3.471)
Syria (3.462)
Tanzania (3.349)
Burundi (2.905)
Central African Republic (2.693)

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

For further reading: The Weight of the World’s Population
How Old is the Universe?

For further reading: http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2018/
https://news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/206468/happiest-unhappiest-countries-world.aspx
https://www.reference.com/food/many-happy-meals-sold-day-f433ed8686898e97
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml


Endangered Species: The Handwritten Note and Letter

alex atkins bookshelf cultureIf you ask a young person (Gen X – Z), “Did you send a handwritten thank you note?” they look at you as if you just asked them to take their smart phone and dunk it in a glass of water — “WTF?”  Those who are part of older generations remember the simpler times — you know: before cell phones, email, instant messaging, and social media — when people actually took the time to send handwritten notes and letters, written from the heart, to one another. Biographers know that without archives of personal correspondence, many of the notable people in history would remain largely unknown or not fully understood in the context of their time and relationships.

But there are those who refuse to believe that the handwritten note is a dead — perhaps an endangered species, but certainly not extinct. Enter Margaret Shepherd, a calligrapher and author of The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication. Particularly in the Age of Google, when most if not all communication is digital, the handwritten note or letter is more precious and more appreciated than ever before.

“The handwritten note,” observes Shepherd, “has so many virtues that you ought to reach for pen and paper first, before you pick up the phone or move the mouse. In contrast to a phone call, a handwritten note doesn’t arrive demanding to be read when you’ve just sat down to dinner; it courteously lets you know who sent it even before you open it… And in contrast to email, a handwritten note looks beautiful and feels personal; you won’t get an electronic virus from opening a handwritten note nor find a list of last week’s lamebrained jokes. You can still write a note by candlelight when your electricity fails, and mail your note while your server is down. The handwritten note has been around for hundreds of years, and it’s not going to die out just because some of its everyday functions have been taken over by email and voice mail. Adapting to the needs of every fresh generation, it continues to connect people. In fact, a handwritten note is even more vital now than it was a few years ago because it’s less routinely used. A note in the mail brightens a dreary landscape of junk mail, form letters, and prefabricated greeting cards, and it shines through a virtual blizzard of abrupt digital memos and disembodied voice chat. When a handwritten note comes in the mail, people pay special attention to what it says. It announces beyond a doubt that reader really matters to you. Your handwriting insures that your words will be read and thought about in a way that can’t be mimicked by print, email, or voice. Handwritten notes are not going to die out, because people still love to receive them and they value each note more as they receive fewer of them.”

Shepherd believes that beyond being rare, the handwritten note has the ability to enhance a message and make a lasting impression on the recipient: “[A handwritten note] upgrades a wide variety of messages, transforming ‘Oops’ into ‘Please accept my apology,’ and ‘Got the money’ into ‘Thank you for your generosity.’ Ink on paper is still the classiest way to express the thoughts that really matter, on the occasions that really count. And sometimes it’s the only way; your words will carry sympathy and gratitude with a special kind of sincerity when your reader sees them on paper in your writing… It says to the reader, ‘You matter to me, I thought of you, I took [time] on your behalf, here’s who I am, I’ve been thinking of you in the days since this was mailed… The reader can reread what you sent and save it and think good thoughts about you.”

Writing a handwritten note also helps you become a better writer. Shepherd elaborates: “[The] handwritten note does more than inspire the reader who reads it it inspires the writer who writes it. Your words not only look better when you write them, but the act of writing them enables you to choose better words. You’ll probably be pleasantly and mysteriously surprised to find that the flowing line of pen and ink lets you express yourself in ways that key tapping just doesn’t allow.” One is reminded of the memorable tagline that appears on the cover of the American Heritage Dictionary (4th edition): “You are Your Words. Make the Most of Them.” Amen.

Finally, Shepherd believes that a handwritten note is inspiring art form: “Corresponding on paper lets you elevate a simple pleasure into an art form. And art has always survived technology. A handwritten note is like dining by candlelight instead of flicking on the lights, like making a gift instead of ordering a product, like taking a walk instead of driving. Handwritten notes will add a lot to your life. You can still use the telephone or the Web for the daily chores of staying in touch, but for the words that matter, it’s courteous, classy, caring, and civilized to pick up a pen.”

OK. I know what you are thinking: “What if I don’t know what to write?” or “Sometimes I am not sure what to write during difficult times (eg, illness, death, divorce, etc.). No worries. You can turn to the perfect companion books written by etiquette experts: Just A Note to Say… The Perfect Words for Every Occasion by Florence Isaacs or Personal Notes: How to Write From the Heart for Any Occasion by Sandra Lamb. These small books offer hundreds of suggestions for all of life’s major occasions, the happy and the sad, to help you get started in writing meaningful notes.

So the next time you want to express your gratitude or your concern for someone, put down your smartphone or step away from your computer, pick up a pen, and write a handwritten note — surprise someone with the precious gift of your thoughts. Undoubtedly, it will bring a smile to their face and a profound sense of gratitude and affection as they read it and think of you.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Edgar Allan Poe’s Love Letter
Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to Mrs. Bixby
Wallace Stegner’s Wilderness Letter
Harper Lee’s Letter to Oprah on Love of Books
What is the Best English Dictionary?
Writers are Defined by the Words They Use

For further reading: The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication by Margaret Shepherd
Just A Note to Say… The Perfect Words for Every Occasion by Florence Isaacs
Personal Notes: How to Write From the Heart for Any Occasion by Sandra Lamb


The 15 Components of Emotional Intelligence

alex atkins bookshelf educationOver decades of study, psychologists have discovered that human beings have many types of intelligence. In 1983 psychologist Howard Gardner proposed eight, but conceded that there might be as many as ten.* One of these intelligences is emotional intelligence. Emotions, of course, are central to human existence. As the famous Roman writer Publilius Syrus (85-43 BC) advised in the Sententiae, “Rule your feelings, lest your feelings rule you.” The concept of emotional intelligence (EI) was introduced as early as 1964 by Michael Beldoch in his paper “Sensitivity to expression of emotional meaning in three modes of communication.” However, the term was popularized by psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer in their influential paper, “Emotional Intelligence” (1990) as well as science journalist’s Daniel Gorman’s best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence (1995). Salovey and Mayer define emotional intelligence this way: “[Emotional intelligence is] a set of skills hypothesized to contribute to the accurate appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in others, the effective regulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate, plan, and achieve in one’s life.”

As popular as the term is, there are some disagreements about exactly which components make up emotional intelligence (EI). In his concise, but informative book 50 Ideas You Really Need to Know: Psychology, Adrian Furnham elaborates: “There is no agreement about what features, factors, abilities, or skills form part of EI. As more and more tests of, and books about, EI appear on the market, the situation gets worse rather than better… A central unresolved question is what are the facets or components of EI?” To that end, Furnham provides a very helpful table of the 15 common components found in salient models of emotional intelligence.

Adaptability: flexible and willing to adapt to new conditions

Assertiveness: forthright and willing to stand up for your rights

Emotion expression: capable of communicating your feelings to others

Emotion management: capable of influencing the feelings of others

Emotion perception: clear and your own and other people’s feelings

Emotion regulation: capable of controlling your emotions

Low Impulsiveness: reflective and less likely to give into your urges

Relationship skills: capable of having personal relationships that are fulfilling

Self-esteem: feeling successful and self-confident

Self-motivation: Being driven and unlikely to give up in the ace of adversity

Social competence: having good networking and social skills

Stress management: capable of withstanding and managing stress

Trait empathy: capable of taking the perspective of another person

Trait happiness: being cheerful and feeling satisfied with your life

Trait optimism: being likely to look at the positive aspects of life

So now that we understand the many facets of emotional intelligence, we can discuss the next issue: emotional intelligence in the workplace; more specifically, how do different generations differ in terms of emotional intelligence? The research-minded folks at Talentsmart shed some light in a fascinating article titled Great Divide: The Generational Gap in Emotional Intelligence. The researchers observe what many have experienced in the business world: “For the first time in history, organizations find their offices occupied by employees spanning four generations — Generation Y (18-29), Generation X, Baby Boomers (42-60), and Traditionalists. While the generational gap can create a healthy marriage of fresh perspective and deep wisdom, we’ve all seen it give way to significant culture clash.” Baby boomers, for example, are used to planned face-to-face meetings, overtime, and occasional work on the weekends. However, Generation Y are used to interacting with others via text and email and are very protective of their personal time. Not surprisingly, the researchers found a huge difference between Generation Y and Baby Boomers, particularly with the facet of self-management: specifically, Generation Y are not good at self management.

So why do Generation Y employees lag in self-management skills? The researchers conclude: “It could be that coming of age with too many video games, instantaneous Internet gratification, and adoring parents have created a generation of self-indulgent young workers who can’t help but wear their emotions on their sleeves in tense situations. However, a deeper look reveals another explanation. Even within the same generation, older people have better EQ skills than younger — despite sharing the same generational influences. Self-management appears to increase with age. Experience and maturity facilitate the mastery of one’s emotions. Generation Years just haven’t had as much time to practice and perfect their skill at managing their emotions.” This opens the door to an important opportunity: to have HR experts help  improve the EI of Generation Y employees. The researchers echo what many CEOs and management experts have been promulgating for several years now: “They not only can do it; they must do it.”

*Gardiner proposed these ten intelligences: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, existential, and moral. On the other hand, in his book, Practical Intelligence: the Art and Science of Common Sense, Karl Albrecht, a management consultant, introduces “practical” or commons sense intelligence; he believes that there are six intelligences: abstract, social, practical, emotional, aesthetic, and kinesthetic.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Why Are Millennials so Difficult to Manage?
What Makes a Great Mentor?
What Makes a Great Teacher?
Great Teachers Inspire

For further reading: Social Encounters edited by Michael Argyle
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.385.4383&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner
50 Ideas You Really Need to Know: Psychology by Adrian Furnham
http://www.talentsmart.com/articles/Great-Divide:-The-Generational-Gap-in-EmotionalIntelligence-1404193582-p-1.html


Why Are Millennials So Difficult to Manage?

alex atkins bookshelf cultureSimon Sinek is a British-American organizational consultant, ethnographer, motivational speaker, and author. Sinek also teaches graduate-level strategic communications courses at Columbia University. He has published five best-selling books that focus on how leaders can inspire others, how leaders can build a company that people want to work for, and how to discover one’s true purpose. His first book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009), led to his popular TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, which is one of the most popular presentations in that forum. Sinek introduces the concept of the Golden Circle: “a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision-making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.” One of the most common questions that Sinek answers in interviews is the infamous “millennial question” — that is to say, how do you manage millennials that pose a bit of a challenge to most company managers? During an interview with Tom Bilyeu, host of “Inside Quest” (a web-base talk show) to promote his third book (Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration, an illustrated and scented quote book to inspire human interaction), Sinek answered the millennial question this way:

“Apparently, millennials — as a group of people, which are those born from approximately 1984 and after — are tough to manage. They are accused of being entitled and narcissistic, self interested, unfocused, and lazy — but “entitled” is the big one. Because they confound the leadership so much, leaders will say “what do you want?” And millennials will say “we want to work in a place with purpose, we want to make an impact, we want free food and bean bag chairs.” Any yet when provided all these things they are still not happy. And that is because there is a missing piece. It can be broken down into four pieces, actually — 1. parenting; 2. technology; 3. impatience; and 4. environment.

1: Parenting

The generation that is called the millennials, too many of them grew up subject to “failed parenting strategies.” Where they were told that they were “special” all the time. They were told they can have anything they want in life just because they want it. Some of them got into honors classes, not because they deserved it, but because their parents complained. Some of them got A’s not because they earned them, but because the teachers didn’t want to deal with the parents. Some kids got participation medals. They got a medal for coming in last. Which, the science we know is pretty clear, is that it devalues the medal and the reward for those who actually work hard and that actually makes the person who comes in last embarrassed because they know they didn’t deserve it so that actually makes them feel worse.

[So] you take this group of people and they graduate and they get a job and they’re thrust into the real world and in an instant they find out they are not special. Their moms can’t get them a promotion. You get nothing for coming in last and — by the way — you can’t just have it because you want it. In an instant, their entire self-image is shattered. So we have an entire generation that is growing up with lower self esteem than previous generations.

2: Technology

The other problem to compound it is we are growing up in a Facebook/Instagram world, in other words, we are good at putting filters on things. We’re good at showing people that life is amazing even though “I am depressed.” Everybody sounds tough, and everybody sounds like they have it all figured out, [but] the reality is there’s very little toughness and most people don’t have it all figured out. So when the more senior people say “well, what should we do?” they sound like “this is what you gotta do!” But they have no clue.

So you have an entire generation growing up with lower self esteem than previous generations — through no fault of their own, they were dealt a bad hand. Now let’s add in technology. We know that engagement with social media and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine. That’s why when you get a text, it feels good. In a 2012 study, Harvard research scientists reported that talking about oneself through social media activates a pleasure sensation in the brain usually associated with food, money, and sex. It’s why we count the likes. It’s why we go back ten times to see if the interaction is growing. And if our Instagram is slowing we wonder if we have done something wrong, or if people don’t like us any more. The trauma for young kids to be “unfriended” is too much to handle. We know that when you get the attention it feels good — you get a hit of dopamine… Dopamine is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, and when we gamble… [and] it’s highly, highly addictive.

We have age restrictions on smoking, drinking and gambling but we have no age restrictions on social media and cell phones. Which is the equivalent of opening up the liquor cabinet and saying to our teenagers “hey by the way, if this adolescence thing gets you down — help yourself.” [So] an entire generation now has access to an addictive, numbing chemical called dopamine through cellphones and social media, while they are going through the high stress of adolescence.

Why is this important? Almost every alcoholic discovered alcohol when they were teenagers. When we are very, very young the only approval we needed was the approval of our parents and as we go through adolescence we make this transition where we now need the approval of our peers. Very frustrating for our parents; very important for the teenager. It allows us to acculturate outside of our immediate families and into the broader tribe. It’s a highly, highly stressful and anxious period of our lives and we are supposed to learn to rely on our friends.

Some people — quite by accident — discover alcohol, the numbing effects of dopamine, to help them cope with the stresses and anxieties of adolescence. Unfortunately that becomes hard wired in their brains and for the rest of their lives, when they suffer significant stress, they will not turn to a person, they will turn to the bottle. Social stress, financial stress, career stress — that’s pretty much the primary reasons why an alcoholic drinks. But now because we are allowing unfettered access to these devices and media. Basically it is becoming hard-wired and what we are seeing is that [as] they grow older, too many kids “don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships” — their words, not mine.

They will admit that many of their relationships are superficial. They will admit that they don’t count on their friends; they don’t rely on their friends. They have fun with their friends, but they also know that their friends will cancel on them when something better comes along. Deep meaningful relationships are not there because they never practiced the skillset and worse — they don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress. So when significant stress begins to show up in their lives, they’re not turning to a person, they’re turning to a device, they’re turning to social media, they’re turning to these things which offer temporary relief. [The] science is clear, we know that people who spend more time on Facebook suffer higher rates of depression than people who spend less time on Facebook.

These things balanced, are not bad. Alcohol is not bad, too much alcohol is bad. Gambling is fun, too much gambling is dangerous. There is nothing wrong with social media and cellphones, it’s the imbalance. If you are sitting at dinner with your friends, and you are texting somebody who is not there – that’s a problem. That’s an addiction. If you are sitting in a meeting with people you are supposed to be listening and speaking to, and you put your phone on the table, that sends a subconscious message to the room “you’re just not that important.” The fact that you can’t put the phone away, that’s because you are addicted. If you wake up and you check your phone before you say good morning to your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse, you have an addiction. And like all addictions, in time, it will destroy relationships, it will cost time, it will cost money and it will make your life worse.

3: Impatience

So we have a generation growing up with lower self-esteem that doesn’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress and now you add in the sense of impatience. They’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification. You want to buy something, you go on Amazon and it arrives the next day. You want to watch a movie, logon and watch a movie. You don’t check movie times. You want to watch a TV show, binge. You don’t even have to wait week-to-week-to-week. Many people skip seasons, just so they can binge at the end of the season… Instant gratification. You want to go on a date? You don’t even have to learn how to be socially awkward on that first date. You don’t need to learn how to practice that skill. You don’t have to be the uncomfortable person who says yes when you mean no and no when you mean yes. Swipe right – bang – done! You don’t even need to learn the social coping mechanism.

Everything you want you can have instantaneously. Everything you want, instant gratification, except, job satisfaction and strength of relationships – their ain’t no out for that. They are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes. And so millennials are wonderful, idealistic, hardworking smart kids who’ve just graduated school and are in their entry-level jobs and when asked “how’s it going?” they say “I think I’m going to quit.” And we’re like “why?” and they say “I’m not making an impact.” To which we say, “you’ve only been there eight months…”

It’s as if their standing at the foot of a mountain and they have this abstract concept called impact that they want to have on the world, which is the summit. What they don’t see is the mountain. I don’t care if you go up the mountain quickly or slowly, but there’s still a mountain. And so what this young generation needs to learn is patience. That some things that really, really matter, like love or job fulfillment, joy, love of life, self confidence, a skillset, any of these things, all of these things take time. Sometimes you can expedite pieces of it, but the overall journey is arduous and long and difficult and if you don’t ask for help and learn that skillset, you will fall off the mountain. Or the worst case scenario, we’re seeing an increase in suicide rates in this generation, we’re seeing an increase in accidental deaths due to drug overdoses, we’re seeing more and more kids drop out of school or take a leave of absence due to depression. Unheard of. This is really bad.

The best case scenario, you’ll have an entire population growing up and going through life and just never really finding joy. They’ll never really find deep, deep fulfillment in work or in life, they’ll just waft through life and it things will only be “just fine.” How’s your job? “It’s fine, same as yesterday.” How’s your relationship? “It’s fine.” [And] that’s the best case scenario.

4: Environment

Which leads to the fourth point which is environment. Which is we’re taking this amazing group of young, fantastic kids who were just dealt a bad hand and it’s no fault of their own, and we put them in corporate environments that care more about the numbers than they do about the kids. They care more about the short-term gains than the life of this young human being. We care more about the year than the lifetime. We are putting them in corporate environments that are not helping them build their confidence. [Corporate environements] aren’t helping them learn the skills of cooperation [or] helping them overcome the challenges of a digital world and finding more balance [or] helping them overcome the need for instant gratification and [teaching] them the joys and impact and the fulfillment you get from working hard on something for a long time that cannot be done in a month or even in a year.

So we thrust them into corporate environments and the worst thing is they think it’s them. They blame themselves. They think it’s them who can’t deal. And so it makes it all worse. It’s not them. It’s the corporations, it’s the corporate environment, it’s the total lack of good leadership in our world today that is making them feel the way they do. They were dealt a bad hand and it’s the company’s responsibility to pick up the slack and work extra hard and find ways to build their confidence, to teach them the social skills that they’re missing out on.

There should be no cellphones in conference rooms — none, zero. When sitting and waiting for a meeting to start, instead of using your phone with your head down, everyone should be focused on building relationships. We ask personal questions, “How’s your dad? I heard he was in the hospital.” “Oh he’s really good thanks for asking. He’s actually at home now.” “Oh I’m glad to hear that.” “That was really amazing.” “I know, it was really scary for a while there.” That’s how you form relationships. “Hey did you ever get that report done?” “No, I totally forgot.” “Hey, I can help you out. Let me help you.” “Really?” That’s how trust forms. Trust doesn’t form at an event in a day. Even bad times don’t form trust immediately. It’s the slow, steady consistency and we need to create mechanisms where we allow for those little innocuous interactions to happen.

When we are out with friends, as we are leaving for dinner together, we leave our cell phones at home. Who are we calling? Maybe one of us will bring a phone in case we need to call an Uber. It’s like an alcoholic. The reason you take the alcohol out of the house is because we cannot trust our willpower. We’re just not strong enough. But when you remove the temptation, it actually makes it a lot easier. When you just say “Don’t check your phone,” people will just go to the bathroom and what’s the first thing we do? We look at the phone.

When you don’t have the phone, you just check out the world. And that’s where ideas happen. The constant, constant, constant engagement is not where you have innovation and ideas. Ideas happen when our minds wander and we see something and we think, “I bet they could do that…” That’s called innovation. But we’re taking away all those little moments.

None of us should charge our phones by our beds. We should be charging our phones in the living rooms. Remove the temptation. We wake up in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep, you won’t check your phone, which makes it worse. But if it’s in the living room, it’s relaxed, it’s fine. Some say “but it’s my alarm clock.” Buy an alarm clock. They cost eight dollars.

The point is: we [who are] now in industry — whether we like it or not — we don’t get a choice — we now have a responsibility to make up the shortfall and help this amazing, idealistic, fantastic generation build their confidence, learn patience, learn the social skills, find a better balance between life and technology because, quite frankly, it’s the right thing to do.”

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: What Makes a Great Mentor?
What Makes a Great Teacher?
Great Teachers Inspire
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of Parents
What Should you Teach your Kids Before They Leave Home?

For further reading: https://impacttheory.com/blog/simon-sinek-millennial-question-tom-bilyeu/
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
Together Is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration by Simon Sinek
Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team by Simon Sinek
The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek


Can You Fall in Love in 36 Questions?

alex atkins bookshelf wisdomAh, love and the search for the ideal soul mate. The pursuit of love isn’t easy. Just watch The Bachelor (or The Bachelorette). Ironically, the show that is supposed to be all about love, is the show that people love to hate. Let’s not sugarcoat it, the show is a veritable car wreck — each week it screeches across the pavement, hops over fences, rips up lawns and flower beds, and crashes into the living room of more than 7.5 million Americans, delivering its payload of histrionics and collective mischief. All of which explains the existence of the so-called “Bachelor Nation” — a legion of fans that laughs, jeers, and gags through each episode, anticipating the next one, like a tourist dehydrated from chronic Montezuma’s revenge eagerly awaiting his next drink of bacteria-laced brown water from yet another restaurant.

Although poets wax um… poetically about how love is free — the pursuit of love certainly isn’t free. Consider this: Americans spend more than $760 million per year on matchmaking and the average American spends $1,596 on dating every year. This includes personal grooming, matchmaking services, and of course the obligatory wining and dining. But what if you could find your soulmate for the cost of a cup of coffee (or tea)? That’s right — a few dollars for some life-changing conversation over coffee at a local establishment. For once, this is when the concept of “talk is cheap” is actually a good thing.

Talk is not only cheap (as in free), it can change your life and definitely lead to intimacy (as in “closeness” not the other thing you though of), and paving the way for profound, unconditional love. Meet psychologist Arthur Aron. In 1997, Aron and his colleagues, published a fascinating study, “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings” in the Personality and Social Psychologist Bulletin (Vol 23, No. 4, 1997). They wanted to know if you could help people develop “temporary feelings of closeness” in a lab setting simply through conversation. In their experiment, two complete strangers (cross-sex and same sex pairs, matched so they agreed about important attitudinal issues and expectations of likeability based on initial questionnaires) would enter a lab and sit face to face for 45 minutes to answer 36 questions. The participants were presented three sets of increasingly personal questions focused on self-disclosure and relationship-building. This study was built on the foundation of previous studies in the previous decade by psychologists; Aron elaborates: “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure.”

So, what did the researchers find? Quite remarkably, they found that about one-third of the participants felt as connected to their partner in the lab — in just 36 questions — as they did one of their closest, deepest, most involved relationships outside the study; Aron writes “That is, immediately after about 45 minutes of interaction, this relationship is rated as closer than the closest relationship in the lives of 30% of similar students.” That’s quite an achievement when it has taken thousands of hours of conversations over many years to reach the same level of intimacy with a significant other. Those must be some amazingly insightful and profoundly probing questions that get right to the heart of the matter (if you’ll excuse the pun). In fact, two participants did fall in love and married just six months later. The questions have also inspired a delightful series on YouTube that explores two strangers trying to find love.

To help cupid’s arrow pierce the heart of your future soul mate, here are the questions you should print out and carry with you on your next date. And don’t dilly-dally. Recall that famous line from the famous romantic-comedy, When Harry Met Sally: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with a person, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Set I
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Set III
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: How Do You Find the Ideal Mate?
Why Do People Watch The Bachelor?
Pablo Neruda on Love

The Fluidity of Life and Love
Famous Love Quotes from Movies
The Best Love Stories
We Never Lose the People We Love, Even to Death

For further reading: www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/modern-love-to-fall-in-love-with-anyone-do-this.html
http://www.statista.com/outlook/371/109/matchmaking/united-states


Why Do We Collect Things?

alex atkins bookshelf triviaJames Halperin is a professional rare coin dealer and the founder of Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. In an essay for The Intelligent Collector, Halperin answers one of the most frequent questions he gets asked: why do people collect things? Halperin believes collecting is a basic human instinct that has been intensified by centuries of natural selection: “Those of our ancient ancestors who managed to accumulate scare objects may have been more prone to survive long enough to bear offspring.” That is to say, acquisition of rare items led to wealth that allowed someone to have and care for more children. But collecting is not just an instinctive behavior, observes Halperin, it can be a combination of some or all of these other reasons:
Knowledge and learning
Relaxation and stress reduction
Personal pleasure (eg, pride of ownership)
Social interaction (eg, sharing knowledge and pleasure with other collectors)
Recognition from other collectors
Competitive challenge
The desire to possess and control a small part of the world
Connection to history
Nostalgia
Accumulation and diversification of wealth
Competitive challenge

And collecting diligently over many decades has its rewards. Halperin shares a story of a friend who with a modest income, who studied coins and built an extensive collection. He even mortgaged his house to be able to travel and purchase rare coins. When he passed away, “with no apparent regrets”, his coin collection was sold at auction for more than $30 million dollars, benefiting his family beyond their dreams. For example one Canadian coin that he bought for $400 in 1954, sold for $345,000 in 1999.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Why Do People Collect Things?
Words for Collectors
Words for Collectors 2
Classification of Book Collectors

For further reading: http://www.ha.com/intelligent-collector/why-do-we-collect-things.s?article=collect


What is the Liar Paradox?

alex atkins bookshelf cultureAncient Greek philosophers loved a good paradox. Some of the most famous paradoxes were developed by Zeno of Elia, who lived in the 4th century BCE. Unfortunately, Zeno’s book of paradoxes was lost and we only know about them secondhand from Aristotle and his commentators, such as Simplicius. His most famous paradoxes focus on motion, namely, Achilles and the Tortoise and Arrow. However, our discussion today is about one overlooked writer of paradoxes — Eubulides of Miletus, one of Zeno’s contemporaries. While Zeno developed dozens of paradoxes, Eubulides came up with only seven. The most famous of them is the Liar Paradox (or Liar’s Paradox); Eubulides asked, “A man says that he is lying. Is what he says true or false?” Here is the conundrum: is what the man says true or false? If it is true, it is false; and if it is false, it is true. So it is both true and false. WTF?

Graham Priest, a professor of philosophy at the University of Melbourne and author of Logic: A Very Short Introduction, discusses how these paradoxes tied up philosophers in knots: “The paradox and its variations were discussed by Ancient philosophers, and have been subject to much discussion in both Medieval and modern logic. Indeed, those who have engaged with them in the 20th Century reads rather like a roll call of famous logicians of that period. But despite this attention, there is still no consensus as to how to solve such paradoxes. Solutions are legion; but the only thing that is generally agreed upon, is that all of them are problematic.” Two philosophers wrote extensively about the Liar Paradox: Theophrastus, a successor to Aristotle wrote three papyrus rolls, while Chrysippus, a Stoic philosopher, wrote six. Sadly, like’s Zeno’s book, these manuscripts are lost. In fact, one scholar died trying to solve the paradox — Philitas of Cos, the first major Greek writer who was both a poet and scholar, died of insomnia. His epitaph reads: “Philitas of Cos am I / ‘Twas the Liar who made me die / And the bad nights caused thereby.”

This begs the question: why should we give a shit? That is to say, more politely, why have philosophers wrestled with this question for centuries? Why does this matter now? All good questions. Meet Philosophy Professor Bradley Dowden, CSU, Sacramento and a contributor to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy who believes that the Liar Paradox is a serious problem: “To put the Liar Paradox in perspective, it is essential to appreciate why such an apparently trivial problem is a deep problem. Solving the Liar Paradox is part of the larger project of understanding truth. Understanding truth is a difficult project that involves finding a theory of truth, or a definition of truth, or a proper analysis of the concept of truth.” Thus, at the heart of the paradox is man’s age-old quest for Truth.

Eubulides would be delighted to know that the Liar Paradox is alive and well in the modern Google Era. If you read or listen to the news each day you know what I mean. Take the President of the United States (please!). Many historians, journalists, and pundits recognize that President Trump has some difficulty discerning the truth. As former FBI Director James Comey wrote in his recently published book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, “We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country,” Comey writes, “with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized and unethical behavior is ignored, excused or rewarded.” And according to The Washington Post, that has staff dedicated to tracking the President’s lies, Trump has made 1,318 false or misleading claims in just 263 days: “This tendency of Trump is all too familiar to The Fact Checker. He is quick to make claims full of superlatives — the greatest this and the most beautiful that — with little to no empirical evidence to support them… The Fact Checker has completed two-thirds of our year-long project analyzing, categorizing and tracking every false or misleading claim by Trump, as well as his flip-flops. As of our latest update Oct. 10, 2017, or his 264th day in office, the president has made 1,318 claims over 263 days. He has averaged five claims a day, even picking up pace since the six-month mark.” John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine a former presidential speechwriter, expresses it more directly, “Trump’s career has demonstrated that he lies without consequence.” And herein lies the rub: each week when Trump is confronted with the lies, this is his response: “President Trump states that the story on X is fake news.” Is it true, is it false, is it true and false? Like, Philitas of Cos, Americans are inextricably trapped in the Liar Paradox, struggling with heightened anxiety and insomnia.

Certainly, as Zeno and Eubulides have shown us, the search for truth is critically important — especially in a democracy — and worthy of attention and discussion. In his essay on Truth, Michael Glanzberg notes: Truth is one of the central subjects in philosophy. It is also one of the largest. Truth has been a topic of discussion in its own right for thousands of years.” Unfortunately, in the topsy-turvy Trumpian world, one has to carefully traverse the minefield of Liar Paradoxes on a daily basis to arrive at the truth.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: What is the Purpose of Education?
The Many Wacky Phobias of Donald Trump
What is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?
There’s A Word for That: Trumpery
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What are the Most Common Lies on Social Media?
What is the Big Lie?

For further reading: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/paradox-zeno/
http://www.iep.utm.edu/par-liar/
https://blog.oup.com/2017/08/eubulides-paradoxes-philosophy/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/10/10/president-trump-has-made-1318-false-or-misleading-claims-over-263-days/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.2bbaadec15fd
http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/philosophical-issues/what-is-truth/44342.aspx
Real Time with Bill Maher, April 27, 2018


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