You don’t know what makes you happy

Dan Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, says that we are terrible at predicting what makes us happy.  In Stumbling on Happiness he explains how we are terrible at predicting what will make our future selves happy.  For example, we think we want to be skinny and then we are surprised when the future self isn’t happy even though they are skinny.  There’s a good brief summary of the book in the Washington Post article, C’mon, Get Happy? It’s Easier Said Than Done.  If you enjoy the article, I recommend the whole book, Stumbling on Happiness.

WWI Blog

There’s a very cool diary of a World War I veteran created from his journal and pictures by his grandson.  If anybody would like to do something like this with any of my family members, I’d be happy to help out on the technical side!

On a similar note, my grandmother had a blog.  She wrote out all the stories long hand and mailed them to my mom who typed them in and posted them.  Then my aunt would print them out and take them over to my grandmother’s for her to see.  She was very proud of being an author – she loved sharing stories.

Movie Review: Home of the Brave

I don’t usually recommend too many movies but I have to say I thought Home of the Brave was a good movie. It’s about some reservists who come home from Iraq and have a hard time fitting back into their old lives.

Frank also thought it was good although he was quick to point out that not everyone that comes home from Iraq is that messed up!  As I’ve told him before, I think it’s amazing they aren’t all more messed up.  If I got mugged or witnessed a shooting, people would recommend I go to counseling.  We send people to Iraq to shoot people and get shot at and they lose friends and when they come home – with no counseling – we’re surprised that they might not find life at home just like they left it?

Frank also suggested that reservists might have the toughest transition of all.  They go straight from Iraq to home.  He thinks they’d do better if they served state side for a few months as a transition state – with a peer group who’s been in Iraq.

Home of the Brave is worth watching.

Strange diets

We’ve been trying to eat low carb and while that means lots of veggies, it means not much fruit.  So it’s been strange to see all the pictures of Steve Pavlina’s raw food diet.  He’s trying to eat healthy and eating only fruits and vegetables (that look yummy but very unsatisfying) and we are trying to eat healthy and eating lots of (very yummy) chicken, pork, cheese, elk, deer, asparagus, lobster, green beans, steak, … 

It just goes to show you not only are their different tastes for different people but we also have no idea what the healthiest diet for a human being is!  (I do assume there is more than one type of healthy diet.   People have survived in many different places in the world.)

Atheists may not have children

According to an Illinois judge, you must have religion to adopt:

In an extraordinary decision, Judge Camarata
denied the Burkes’ right to the child because of their lack of belief
in a Supreme Being. Despite the Burkes’ "high moral and ethical
standards," he said, the New Jersey state constitution declares that
"no person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping
Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own

I find that ridiculous.  Any human being can have a child regardless of their religion but if you don’t believe in some religion, you can’t adopt one.  Sounds like lack of religious freedom to me!  If you are free to choose a religion, you should be able to feel free to choose no religion. 

Why do we dream?

Psychology Today has a really interesting article about a theory of dreaming that’s gaining populartiy.  We dream to prepare for dangerous situations.  When you have a nightmare, you are rehearsing, in case it ever happens in real life. 

The dreaming brain, explains Revonsuo, scans emotional memories. When
it detects a memory trace with a strong negative emotion, it constructs
a nightmare around that theme. The more traumatic the event, the more
intense the nightmare. The brain’s system for detecting threats is
sensitive and flexible: Anything the brain tags with a strong negative
charge gets thrown into the threat bin and dredged up at night.

And if you watch horror movies, your brain will also help you prepare for that happening to you in real life.  Interesting.   I quit reading those best selling horror books because they gave me nightmares.  Guess I won’t be prepared for being stalked, kidnapped and tortured!

High achiever vs Gifted vs Creative

I just read an excellent article about the difference between a high achieving student, a gifted student and a creative student.  Our schools tend to treat high achievers and gifted students the same and they are not.  Although a student may be both a high achiever and gifted.  For example:

the teacher announces an assignment, and the high achiever quickly tries to determine what the teacher most wants so he can please and satisfy the teacher’s intentions: "What do you really want?" The gifted learner ponders what to do that would most interest her as she learns: "What I would like to do is…" Simultaneously, the creative thinker’s mind begins to race with all of the diverse and varied possibilities that could be explored.

The comparison table in the article is also really interesting.  I’m not sure the classifications are right and I might add more than the three he has, but it is really interesting food for thought.

Trash in our oceans the size of Texas

Did you know that there are islands of floating trash in the Pacific Ocean that are bigger than the state of Texas?  There are.

Did you know that birds in Hawaii and the North Sea are routinely found with over a pound of garbage in their stomaches?  There are and it kills them.

The solution to this problem is given as reuse, recycle.  While I think reuse and recycling are important, I think that’s trying to put a band aid on the problem.  We need to invest in figuring out what to do with our trash.  When you throw a plastic bag in the trash, you should feel confident that the right thing is done with it and it doesn’t end up as litter in the ocean.  (Right now you should not feel confident of that!)  We need better garbage disposal, better laws and regulations around garbage and ultimately better technology that can create biodegradable waste instead of the plastics we currently use.

So do your part: reuse, recycle, vote and invest in the right technologies.

You are always becoming smarter. Pass it on.

From NPR’s Student’s View of Intelligence Can Help Grades:

The students in the latter group "learned that the brain actually
forms new connections every time you learn something new, and that over
time, this makes you smarter."

By the end of the semester, the group of kids who had been
taught that the brain can grow smarter, had significantly better math
grades than the other group.

You can get smarter.  So pass it on!