How Reading Literary Fiction Makes Us More Empathetic

My grandmother used to say, ‘you are what you eat’, (even despite her lovingly burning everything she cooked).? My mother would say, ‘you are how you spend your money’ while my father would think ‘you are what you spend your time on’. And I can still hear my middle school principal’s admonishment ‘you are who your friends are’. ?Undoubtedly, they were all right to some extent, as lots of things contribute to “who we are”. Well, that list just got longer.? ?According to psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano at the......

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Sleep Is the Best Meditation

Why we sleep is a question that has captivated philosophers and scientists for millennia. If you really think about it, letting go of all activity and going to sleep for several hours every day – becoming totally unconscious and completely vulnerable?- is actually quite bizarre.?Yet sleep is not just a human need: every species of animal on the planet is known to sleep in some fashion. Recent findings have shown that when we sleep, our brain undergoes a sort of mop-up process that removes waste products linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.......

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We Are Originals

Recently, I read about a fascinating psychological study conducted by Angelika Seidel and Jesse Prinz of CUNY (the City University of New York). Participants were told to imagine that the Mona Lisa had been destroyed in a fire, but that there happened to be a perfect copy – one that even experts couldn’t tell from the original. Then, subjects in the study were asked: If they could see just one or the other, would they rather see the ashes of Leonardo da Vinci’s original Mona Lisa, or the absolutely flawless duplicate? Eighty......

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Dodging Default Bullet Doesn't Equal Peace

Peace.? It’s not just the absence of war. ?And security, whether it is military, economic, or emotional, is about much more than the absence of an active battle. “The U.S. economy dodged a bullet today. But the reprieve will be short,” Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight, said Wednesday in an analysis. ?Scary stuff, because dodging bullets is not the same as making peace — just ask any soldier who has gone to war. We need more than bullet dodging. ?We need to address an imperiled economy, persistent......

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When We the People Don't Vote, We Don't Have a Voice

Whatever one’s politics, it is pretty clear we have a dysfunctional government in which partisanship and party lines trumps compromise. ?It’s easy to blame politicians, to judge their motivations, but where is our own responsibility? Where are “We the People” in all of this? The fact is relatively few of us vote – less than 60% in presidential years and only 40% in midterms – which, makes us 120th of 169 countries on voter turnout. If we don’t vote and only those who are the most passionate and ideological do – especially......

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Tune in to Your Kids' Taste in Music

There has long been the cultural stereotype that children reject their parent’s taste in music. I certainly did.? I eschewed my parent’s symphonic classical music and operas for The Grateful Dead, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Dylan, The Stones, The Who, The Doors, The Beatles. Classic rock – there wasn’t anything better. Today, however, I’m not sure this stereotype rings as true anymore. My two daughters, both in their 20s, were visiting home recently, and I was struck by their diverse tastes in music. They like – and regularly listen to –......

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This Columbus Day, Celebrate Discovery

Columbus Day 2013 is officially observed Monday, October 14th, and like the old comedian Rodney Dangerfield used to say about himself, “it don’t get no respect” – at least not much, which is a shame.? While all but 3 states recognize this federal holiday, it has lost almost all significance to most Americans other than those of Italian descent who celebrate Christopher Columbus’ Italian heritage. That’s a shame, as there is much about the Columbus story to celebrate, whether we judge him to be a hero or a villain. There is plenty......

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What Makes a Teacher Great - Remembering Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

When nearly one million people attend a teacher’s funeral, as happened this week in Jerusalem, one can’t help but pay attention. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was a cultural, spiritual, intellectual and even political phenomenon. ?A former chief rabbi of Israel, the?spiritual leader of the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox Shas party, and a teacher revered across many ethnic and religious borders, he?was?buried this week?in the largest funeral in Israel’s history. ?His enormous popularity can teach us so much about what it means to be a great teacher and how we can find the great teachers we......

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Conversation. It's What's for Dinner.

When was the last time you had really good dinner conversation with family or friends? Conversation that was not interrupted by the many ways our devices have a hold on us: the compelling ping calling us to a text or an email, the insatiable desire to check our Facebook page, tweet a thought, take a photo, or Google anything.? A conversation that was more than just a breezy catch up, one that was spirited and smart and made you think in some new way and become more connected to someone because of......

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Does The Road to Wisdom Start With the Journey or the Destination

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.” Making the journey as interesting as the destination sounds great, and there are some great tips in this article here. Ultimately though, when I think about this article in the context of Emerson’s quote, I wonder if it’s more about who we are in the inside than what we do or see on the outside, that determines whether we succeed at making......

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