Monday, April 14, 2014

What I’ve learned since moving to D.C. (some of which should be obvious):

2801.  Limiting the choices we have to make can also help lower the barrier to positive change;
2802.  Researchers have discovered that too much choice similarly saps our reserves.  Their studies showed that with every additional choice people are asked to make, their physical stamina, ability to perform numerical calculations, persistence in the face of failure, and overall focus drop dramatically.  And these don’t have to be difficult decisions either.  Yet every one of these innocuous choices depletes our energy a little further, until we just don’t have enough to continue with the positive habit we’re trying to adopt;
2803.  Whether you’re trying to change your habits at work or at home, the key to reducing choice is setting and following a few simple rules.  Psychologists call these kinds of rules “second-order decisions,” because they are essentially decisions about when to make decisions, like deciding ahead of time when, where, and how;
2804.  In his book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains how setting rules in advance can free us from the constant barrage of willpower depleting choices that make a real difference in our lives;
2805.  Rules are especially helpful during the first few days of a behavior-changing venture, when it’s easier to stray off course.  Gradually, as the desired action becomes more habitual, we can become more flexible;
2806.  The key to permanent, positive change is to create habits that automatically pay dividends, without continued concerted effort or extensive reserves of willpower.  The key to creating these habits is ritual, repeated practice, until the key to daily practice is to put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as humanly possible.  Identify the activation energy – the time, the choices, the mental and physical effort they require – and then reduce it.  If you can cut the activation energy for those habits that lead to success, even by as little as 20 seconds at a time, it won’t be long before you start reaping their benefits;
2807.  Jeff Fisher (the head coach of the St. Louis Rams) (or at least someone who looks like him) washes his hands after using the restroom;
2808.  Don’t forget to put sun block on the back of your hands;
2809.  The women in Scottsdale are rather attractive;
2810.  The bartenders and waitresses at the Bottled Blonde (BottledBlondeAZ.com) in (Old Town) Scottsdale are incredible;
2811.  What’s the last thing you’d expect to see at a (Scottsdale) bar on a random Monday night?  The answer is: A woman whipping out her breasts and lighting matches stuck to her nipples;
2812.  The Cactus League attendance record is 14,840 set in a game between the (Colorado) Rockies and (Chicago) Cubs on March 11th 2014 at Cubs Park;
2813.  The Excalibur’s lobby smells like a mix between a strip club and cigarettes;
2814.  (Men’s) college basketball is more exciting when you place a few bets (down) at the sports book;
2815.  The MGM Grand Garden Arena doesn’t seem all that big, but it does seat 12,916 for the Pac-12 (men’s basketball) tournament;
2816.  The Pac-12 (men’s basketball) tournament has a pretty good atmosphere even for a so-so matchup like the (California) Golden Bears against the (Colorado) Buffaloes;
2117.  The “Australian Bee Gees” (actually) sound like the “Bee Gees;”
2818.  (Colorado) Buffaloes fans bring it.  They’re loud;
2819.  UCLA has the best-looking cheerleaders (that I’ve ever seen in person) hands down;
2820.  (University of) New Mexico fans are (really) passionate about their Lobos.  They’ll come out in force driving hundreds of miles (just) to see them play;
2821.  Apparently, the key to getting into (Las) Vegas clubs is to (be a woman and) get on the guest list ahead of time;
2822.  When we encounter an unexpected challenge or threat, the only way to save ourselves is to hold on tight to the people around us and not let go;
2823.  70 years of evidence that our relationships with other people matter, and matter more than anything else in the world;
2824.  Like food and air, we seem to need social relationships to thrive.  That’s because when we have a community of people we can count on – spouse, family, friends, colleagues – we multiply our emotional, intellectual, and physical resources.  We bounce back from setbacks faster, accomplish more, and feel a greater sense of purpose;
2825.  Social interactions jolt us with positivity in the moment; then, each of these single connections strengthens a relationship over time, which raises our happiness baseline permanently;
2826.  In a study appropriately titled “Very Happy People,” researchers sought out the characteristics of the happiest 10 percent among us.  Turns out, there was one – and only one – characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10 percent from everybody else: the strength of their social relationships;
2827.  The social correlation between social support and happiness was 0.7.  Most psychology findings are considered significant when they hit 0.3;
2828.  Evolutionary psychologists explain that the innate need to affiliate and form social bonds has been literally wired into our biology.  When we make a positive social connection, the pleasure-inducing hormone oxytocin is released into our bloodstream, immediately reducing anxiety and improving concentration and focus.  Each social connection also bolsters our cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems, so that the more connections we make over time, the better we function;
2829.  We have such a biological need for social support, our bodies can literally malfunction without it.  For instance, lack of social contact can add 30 points to an adult’s blood pressure reading;
2830.  A national survey of 24,000 workers found that men and women with few social ties were two to three times more likely to suffer from major depression than people with strong social bonds;
2831.  One study found that people who received emotional support during the six months after a heart attack were three times more likely to survive.  Another found that participating in a breast cancer support group actually doubled women’s life expectancy post surgery;
2832.  Researchers have found that social support has as much effect on life expectancy as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and regular physical activity;
2833.  Studies show that each positive interaction employees have during the course of the work day actually helps return the cardiovascular system back to resting levels (a benefit often termed “work recovery”), and that over the long haul, employees with more of these interactions become protected from the negative effects of job strain.  Each connection also lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, which helps employees recover faster from work-related stress and makes them better prepared to handle it in the future;
2834.  Studies have found that people with strong relationships are less likely to perceive situations as stressful in the first place;
2835.  Investing in social connections means that you’ll find it easier to interpret adversity as a path to growth and opportunity; and when you do have to experience the stress, you’ll bounce back from it faster and better protected against its long-term negative effects;
2836.  In a longitudinal study of men over the age of 50, those with a high rate of stressful life experiences suffered from a far higher rate of mortality over the next seven years.  But the same study found that this higher rate of mortality held true for everyone except the men who said they had high levels of emotional support;
2837.  The emergency row on a plane has a ridiculous amount of legroom;
2838.  Even in an extraordinarily competitive environment, we are more equipped to handle challenges and obstacles when we pool the resources of those around us and capitalize on even the smallest moments we spend interacting with others;
2839.  Just as social support is a prescription for happiness and an antidote to stress, it is also a prime contributor of achievement in the workplace;
2840.  Researchers found that social bonds weren’t just predictive of overall happiness, but also of eventual career achievement, occupational success, and income;
2841.  Thomas Edison thrived in group settings, and when he invented the light bulb, he did so with the help of 30 assistants.  Edison was a social creature, not a lone wolf.  And when it comes to society’s most innovative thinkers, so often assumed to be eccentric, solitary geniuses, he was not the exception to the rule;
2842.  On study of 212 employees found that social connections at work predicted more individual learning behavior, which means that the more socially connected employees felt, the more they took the time to figure out ways to improve their own efficiency, or their own skill set;
2843.  When over a thousand highly successful professional men and women were interviewed as they approached retirement and asked what had motivated them the most, throughout their careers, overwhelmingly they placed work friendships above both financial gain and individual status;
2844.  The better we feel about workplace relationships, the more effective we will be.  A study of over 350 employees in 60 business units at a financial services company found that the greatest predictor of a team’s achievement was how the members felt about one another;
2845.  Studies show that the more team members are encouraged to socialize and interact face-to-face, the more engaged they feel, the more energy they have, and the longer they can stay focused on a task;
2846.  To make a difference to work performance and job satisfaction, social contact need not always be deep to be effective.  Organizational psychologists have found that even brief encounters can form “high-quality connections,” which fuel openness, energy, and authenticity among coworkers, and in turn lead to a whole host of measurable, tangible gains in performance;
2847.  Any point of contact with another person can potentially be a high-quality connection.  One conversation, one e-mail exchange, one moment of connecting in a meeting can infuse both participants with a greater sense of vitality, giving them a bounce in their steps and a greater capacity to act;
2848.  A team of British researchers decided to follow a group of employees who worked for two different supervisors on alternate days – one they had good rapport with, and one they didn’t.  On the days the dreaded boss worked, their average blood pressure shot up;
2849.  A 15-year study found that employees who had a difficult relationship with their boss were 30 percent more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease;
2850.  Studies have found that the strength of the bond between manager and employee is the prime predictor of both daily productivity and the length of time people stay at their jobs;

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What I’ve learned since moving to D.C. (some of which should be obvious):

2751.  Common sense is not common action;
2752.  In life, knowledge is only part of the battle.  Without action, knowledge is often meaningless;
2753.  As Aristotle put it, to be excellent we cannot simply think or feel excellent, we must act excellently;
2754.  The action required to follow through on what we know is often the hardest part.  That’s why even though doctors know better than anyone the importance of exercise and diet, 44 percent of them are overweight.  It’s also why organizational gurus are often messy, religious leaders can be blasphemous, and why even some positive psychologists aren’t happy all of the time;
2755.  Positive habits are hard to keep, no matter how commonsensical they might be;
2756.  The New York Times reports that a whopping 80 percent of us break our New Year’s resolutions;
2757.  Even when we feel committed to positive change, sustaining it for any length of time can seem nearly impossible;
2758.  Thomas Jefferson introduced French fries to the U.S. when he served “potatoes served in the French manner” at the White House in 1802;
2759.  There is a biological reason why men and women move at different speeds in relationships.  Sexual contact causes both men and women to secrete a hormone called oxytocin, which intensifies feelings of love and the desire to nest.  But in men, testosterone counteracts its effects;
2760.  Pass on spicy or crunchy tuna rolls because the spice masks the fish’s flavor;
2761.  People can be very self-centered when it comes to their love life.  They only think about themselves and they don’t even consider other people’s feelings, not even their (supposed) friends’;
2762.  Sometimes you have to give up on people, not because you don’t care, but because they don’t;
2763.  If you have anything in your heart other than love, you’ve got to get it out;
2764.  Remind yourself that you will have to incur the misunderstanding and perhaps even the wrath of those around you for having the temerity to march to your own drumbeat.  Don’t take it personally even for one moment;
2765.  There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle;
2766.  Kristin’s favorite color is (probably) red;
2767.  Some orchestras (actually) have a dedicated person to play the triangle;
2768.  There’s (some) acting in opera;
2769.  Being rich is the fruition of ambition;
2770.  On Thursday nights, it’s “Mug Night” at Whitlow’s on Wilson (Whitlows.com) in Clarendon.  Starting at 4 o’clock, you can buy a mug (and a beer) for $5.00 and (select beer) refills are $2.00 thereafter until 9 o’clock.  You can bring back your mug on another “Mug Night” for the $2.00 refills;
2771.  A tendency to act only becomes effectively ingrained in us in proportion to the uninterrupted frequency with which the actions actually occur, and the brain “grows” to their use;
2772.  Habits form because our brain actually changes in response to frequent practice;
2773.  As we progress through our days learning new facts, completing new tasks, and having new conversations, our brains are constantly changing and rewiring to reflect these experiences;
2774.  Scientists now know that the brain remains plastic and malleable well past the age of 20, through even our most senior years.  That means that we have the power to create new habits and then reap the benefits whether we’re 22 or 72;
2775.  The reason so many of us have trouble sustaining change is because we try to rely on willpower;
2776.  The reason willpower is so ineffective at sustaining change is that the more we use it, the more worn-out it gets;
2777.  In general, Americans actually find free time more difficult to enjoy than work;
2778.  For the most part, our jobs require us to use our skills, engage our minds, and pursue our goals – all things that have been shown to contribute to happiness;
2779.  Because there is no “leisure boss” leaning over our shoulder on Sunday mornings telling us we’d better be at the art museum by 9 AM sharp – we often find it difficult to muster the energy necessary to kick-start them.  So we follow the path of least resistance, and that path inevitably leads us to the couch and television.  And because we are “mere bundles of habit,” the more often we succumb to this path, the more difficult it becomes to change directions;
2780.  Studies show that “passive leisure” activities (i.e., watching TV and trolling around on Facebook) are enjoyable and engaging for only about 30 minutes, then they start sapping our energy, creating what psychologists call “psychic entropy” – that listless, apathetic feeling;
2781.  “Active leisure” like hobbies, games, and sports enhance our concentration, engagement, motivation, and sense of enjoyment;
2782.  Studies have found that American teenagers are two and half times more likely to experience elevated enjoyment when engaged in a hobby than when watching TV, and three times more likely when playing a sport;
2783.  Teenagers spend four times as many hours watching TV as they do engaging in sports or hobbies;
2784.  We are drawn – powerfully, magnetically – to those things that are easy, convenient, and habitual, and it is incredibly difficult to overcome this inertia;
2785.  Active leisure is more enjoyable, but it almost always requires more initial effort (i.e., “activation energy”);
2786.  Advertisers and marketers make their living on the path of least resistance.  Ever bought something with a mail-in rebate?  Did you actually mail it in?  Didn’t think so.  That’s why companies offer them.  This is also why magazines send us a free five-week subscription, then automatically start deducting money from our account in the sixth week;
2787.  In the world of marketing, “opt-out” is a genius invention that takes supreme advantage of human psychology.  To “unsubscribe” requires finding the tiny link at the bottom of an e-mail, then clicking through one or two more websites before finally arriving at the desired destination.  The company is betting, often successfully, that this process involves far more energy and effort than most people are willing to expend;
2788.  Whether we’re aware of it or not, default options are everywhere, shaping our choices and our behavior in all areas of our lives;
2789.  At the grocery store, we buy more food off shelves that directly meet our eye and less off those that require us to look up or kneel down.  Every retailer knows this, and you can be sure they exploit it by putting the most expensive brands at eye level;
2790.  Online advertisers now conduct market research with sophisticated eye-tracking machines, determined to develop the perfect place for a banner ad on a website, the place that we will see without expending any additional energy;
2791.  We’re more likely to buy an item of clothing if we can give it a “sensory test run” by touching the fabric, so the most expensive clothes are set at the perfect height for such an experience;
2792.  When your hands are at your side, each table of clothes sits almost exactly at your fingertips, begging to be grabbed;
2793.  The American Management Association reports that employees spend an average of 107 minutes on e-mail a day;
2794.  Research shows that the average employee gets interrupted from their work every 11 minutes, and on each occasion experiences a loss of concentration and flow that takes almost as many minutes to recover from;
2795.  It’s not the sheer number and volume of distractions that gets us into trouble; it’s the ease of access to them;
2796.  The average American watches five to seven hours of television a day;
2797.  Researchers have found that they can cut cafeteria ice cream consumption in half by simply closing the lid of an ice cream cooler.  And that when people are required to wait in another, separate line to purchase chips and candy, far fewer will do so.  In essence, the more effort it takes us to obtain unhealthy food, the less we’ll eat of it, and vice versa;
2798.  Nutritionists recommend that we prepare healthy snacks in advance so that we can simply pull them out of the refrigerator, and why they recommend that when we do eat junk foods, we take out a small portion, then put the rest of the bag away, well out of our reach;
2799.  Our best weapon in the battle against bad habits is simply to make it harder for ourselves to succumb to them;
2800.  Polls show that the number of people willing to be organ donors is quite high, but that most are deterred by the long process of filling out the right forms to do so.  In response, some countries have switched to an opt-out program, which automatically enrolls all citizens as donors.  Anyone is free to withdraw their name, but when staying on the list becomes the default option, most people will do so.  When Spain switched to opt-out, the number of donated organs immediately doubled;

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What I’ve learned since moving to D.C. (some of which should be obvious):

2701.  Research has shown that people who believe that the power lies within their circle have higher academic achievement, greater career achievement, and are much happier at work;
2702.  An internal locus lowers job stress and turnover, and leads to higher motivation, organizational commitment, and task performance;
2703.  Because feeling in control over our jobs and our lives reduces stress, it even affects our physical health;
2704.  One sweeping study of 7,400 employees found that those who felt they had little control over deadlines imposed by other people had a 50 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease than their counterparts.  Researchers concluded that feeling a lack of control over pressure at work is as great a risk factor for heart disease as even high blood pressure;
2705.  Researchers found that when they gave a group of nursing home residents more control over simple tasks in their daily lives – like putting them in charge of their own house plants – not only did their levels of happiness improve, but their mortality rate actually dropped in half;
2706.  Researchers found that managers who felt the most swamped by job pressure ran teams with the worst performance and the lowest net profits;
2707.  A failing economy can be a powerful trigger for emotional hijacking.  Neuroscientists have found that financial losses are actually processed in the same areas of the brain that respond to mortal danger.  In other words, we react to withering profits and a sinking retirement account the same way our ancestors did to a saber-toothed tiger;
2708.  The prevailing belief was that humans are rational decision makers – that we make financial and economic decisions based on a rational assessment of potential profits and losses.  But Daniel Kahneman, the only psychologist to have ever won the Nobel Prize for Economics, and his colleague Amos Tversky proved just how wrong this is;
2709.  Experiments show that when people are primed to feel high levels of distress, the quickest to recover are those who can identify how they are feeling and put those feelings into words.  Brain scans show verbal information almost immediately diminishes the power of these negative emotions, improving well-being and enhancing decision-making skills.  So whether you do it by writing down feelings in a journal or talking to a trusted coworker or confidant, verbalizing the stress and helplessness you are feeling is the first step toward regaining control;
2710.  Apparently, lounges in New York City don’t like it when you put your feet up (specifically “1849”);
2711.  When someone pushes into you, for some reason, they get angry if you stand your ground (especially New Yorkers at “The Red Lion”);
2712.  George McPhee (the general manager of the Washington Capitals) walks around Manhattan when the Capitals play the (New York) Rangers;
2713.  A woman without any close female friends is bad news.  She’s trading on her sexuality to make friends, and other women don’t see anything valuable in her;
2714.  The biggest predictor of whether a woman is going to cheat is whether she’s cheated before;
2715.  The U.S. Sanitary Commission was a precursor to the American Red Cross;
2716.  Lincoln was the first (U.S.) president to issue paper money (i.e., “greenbacks”) and to enact a personal income tax (to pay for the Civil War);
2717.  Ford’s Theatre used to be a Baptist church;
2718.  A bulging can is a sign of botulism;
2719.  You know it’s cold (in D.C.) when the Potomac’s frozen over;
2720.  Take risks.  If you win, you will be happy.  If you lose, you will be wise;
2721.  Some people are so blinded by their beliefs that they won’t change their minds even if all the evidence points to the contrary;
2722.  The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible;
2723.  Associate (news) producers at NBC Nightly News like hockey;
2724.  Apparently, a newsroom is more like “30 Rock” than “The Newsroom,” at least according to one associate (news) producer;
2725.  News anchors write their own stories (specifically Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News);
2726.  It takes 20-30 years (of experience) to become a senior (news) producer;
2727.  Apparently, you should replace your car battery every four years or so;
2728.  Kristin loves “baked & wired” (bakedandwired.com);
2729.  No big deal, future Olympians (specifically Blake Wheeler) used to (go to) sleepover(s) at Kristin’s parents’ house;
2730.  Allegedly, Blake Wheeler’s wife is a “puck slut;”
2731.  Psychologists who specialize in goal-setting theory advocate setting goals of moderate difficulty – not so easy that we don’t have to try, but not so difficult that we get discouraged and give up;
2732.  When the challenges we face are particularly challenging and the payoff remains far away, setting smaller, more manageable goals helps us build our confidence and celebrate our forward progress, and keeps us committed to the task at hand;
2733.  (George) Gershwin wrote United Airlines’ theme song (i.e., “Rhapsody in Blue”);
2734.  In a 2007 study by James Cook University, researchers discovered cocaine-addicted mice actually preferred sugar-water as a reward over cocaine;
2735.  We once thought fat made us fat.  Turns out, sugar is the culprit.  An abundance of sugar puts the liver into overdrive – it works frantically to rebalance your system – quickly storing sugar as fat so your blood sugar and insulin rates can stabilize;
2736.  A recent study by the CDC discovered that an increased consumption of added sugars has been linked to a decrease in intake of essential micronutrients.  In other words, when you fill up on sugar, you’re less likely to eat the nutrients your body really needs, causing your body to shut down;
2737.  Scientists have long noted sugar molecules are present in high numbers near cancer cells.  A 2013 study by the University of Copenhagen shows that sugar actually aids the growth of malignant cells;
2738.  Sugar can actually suppress your immune system, causing your body to get common sicknesses more often;
2739.  A quick list of the many names sugar can hide under, via the Harvard School of Public Health: Agave nectar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, sucrose, and syrup;
2740.  4 grams of sugar is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the USDA recommends a total of 6 grams of sugar per day as a healthy amount.  A 2009 American Heart Association study found most adults are consuming more than 22 teaspoons of sugar per day.  That’s 88 grams of sugar daily, 14 times more than the recommended intake;
2741.  Nearly 100 years ago, a dentist named Weston A. Price was shocked by the rise in childhood cavities, and the growing demand for orthodontic braces.  Wondering about the link between diet and tooth health, he quit his practice and traveled around the world with his wife, visiting tribes far removed from agricultural advancements and industrialized society and discovered nearly nonexistent levels of decay – even among groups of people not brushing their teeth.  Since then, multiple studies have linked tooth health to sugar consumption.  Bacteria in the mouth feed off of sugar, and increases the likelihood of cavities;
2742.  You don’t need sugar.  It contains no nutritional value, nutrients, or minerals.  It contains only calories;
2743.  Fruit and starchy vegetables easily provide more than enough calories for a healthy adult diet;
2744.  High blood sugar has been linked to memory loss and cognitive decline in a study released by the American Academy of Neurology;
2745.  Never ask two questions in a row . . . alternate (between) questions and statements;
2746.  Salmon is actually a white fish, but the diet of krill colors the meat orange;
2747.  Never treat anybody like a priority, when they’re treating you like an option;
2748.  Without a time limit, even small, incremental tasks can quickly escalate back into an overwhelming challenge with no end in sight;
2749.  Small successes can add up to major achievements;
2750.  Il Canale (IlCanale.com) is one of only four pizzerias certified by the “Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana” in the greater D.C. (metropolitan) area for meeting their strict requirements in respecting the tradition of Neapolitan pizza making;

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What I’ve learned since moving to D.C. (some of which should be obvious):

2651.  Forgive yourself and welcome love back into your life.  When you can do this, a kind of balancing occurs.  Rather than atoning for faults with guilt, you are more committed to promoting joy and service;
2652.  Notice the acts of kindness other people do rather than their shortcomings.  We are all good, decent, loving souls who occasionally get lost.  When you can focus on the good in another and hold that in your mind, you are acting from your higher self.  This can help dissipate fear and anger;
2653.  Everything that’s created comes out of silence.  Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence.  Your words come out of this void.  Your very essence emerged from emptiness.  All creativity requires some stillness.  Your sense of inner peace depends on spending some of your life energy in silence to recharge your battery and remove tension and anxiety;
2654.  It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.  When you watch children playing, notice how totally involved they are in what they’re doing, how they run everywhere they go.  Notice how they are oblivious to future problems almost as if they have given themselves permission to be free and they show it by becoming totally absorbed in their play.  To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult.  The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously.  Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe;
2655.  Notice how children are willing to try anything on a moment’s notice.  The child inside you wants to be impulsive and adventuresome, without always having to plan things in advance.  Spontaneity is in many ways the key to all childlike behavior.  That ability to stop suddenly by the roadside when something interesting catches your eye leads directly to childlike immediacy and “wonder in the face of the world;”
2656.  When the infant comes into the world, it has no thought that the world can or should be any different from what it is.  The infant just opens its eyes in wonder and fascination at what is out there and makes its way in that world as best it can.  The child inside of you knows how to take things as they come, how to deal most effectively and happily with everything and everyone it encounters on this planet.  If you can recapture that childlike essence of your being you can stay “forever young at heart;”
2657.  You’d think that your checking account would be the (only) account connected to your check card. . . . Apparently, that’s not necessarily the case;
2658.  There are a lot more restaurants and bars open on Christmas Eve than I thought there’d be . . . and a lot more people out . . . at least in (Old Town) Alexandria;
2659.  The “K(evin)-bomb” (i.e., champagne and tequila) . . . classy but slutty;
2660.  Elizabeth likes Fireball shots;
2661.  (Three-time) Super Bowl winning linebackers (specifically Riki Ellison of the San Francisco 49ers) like to hang out at the Fish Market in (Old Town) Alexandria;
2662.  Skip the ultimatums, those resolutions with the due dates and deadlines.  We can’t threaten ourselves into being our best.  Instead, focus on how you want to feel each day.  Be in the now – where all of our growth and healing takes place.  Just for today, be that sugar-free, smoke-free, kind, positive person you want to be.  And see how it feels.  One day at a time;
2663.  Any resolution that involves you making decisions about long-range upcoming behavior reinforces the self-defeating notion of living in the future rather than in the present moment;
2664.  The important questions to be asking yourself are “How am I going to use my present moments this year?” and “Will I waste them in reviewing to myself how I used to behave, or how I would like to behave in the future, rather than resolving to live each day to the fullest?”
2665.  What you can do is set up day-to-day goals for yourself, and then resolve to begin living with present moment awareness for the rest of your life.  For example, instead of deciding you are going to give up sugar for a year, resolve to go one day without eating sugar.  Anyone can do virtually anything if it is for only one day.  When you go for one whole day without eating sugar (or any other new behavior), you are a totally different person at the end of that day.  Learn to let that totally different person decide on the second day whether he or she wants to do it again on this new day, rather than letting the same old person decide that it is only going to be difficult in a couple of days anyhow, “so what’s the use.”  Always let the new you make the decision, and then you’ll be living your present moments;
2666.  Remember, anyone can do anything for just one day, so tune out the sentences that keep you locked into your old self-defeating ways and begin to enjoy each day of your bright new year;
2667.  Unrequited love is pretty terrible;
2668.  The Bastille Restaurant & Wine Bar (BastilleRestaurant.com) in (Old Town) Alexandria has some really tasty homemade ketchup (with notes of anise);
2669.  Make a deliberate, conscious effort to slow yourself down by relaxing your mind.  Take a little more time to enjoy your life here on this planet: Be more contemplative by noticing the stars, the clouds, the rivers, the animals, the rainstorms, and all of the natural world.  And then extend the same slowed-down loving energy to all people;
2670.  Your life is simplified enormously when you don’t have to defend yourself to anyone, and when you receive support rather than criticism;
2671.  You don’t need to purchase more of what will complicate and clutter your life.  If you can’t afford it, let it go until you can.  By going into debt, you’ll just add layers of anxiety onto your life.  That anxiety will then take you away from your peace.  When you have to work extra hard to pay off debts, the present moments of your life are less enjoyable; consequently, you’re further away from the joy and peace that are the trademarks of inspiration.  You’re far better off to have less and enjoy the days of your life than to take on debt and invite stress and anxiety where peace and tranquility could have reigned;
2672.  Do what your heart tells you will bring you joy, rather than determining whether it will be cost-effective.  If you’d really enjoy that whale-watching trip, for instance, make the decision to do so – don’t deny yourself the pleasures of life because of some monetary detail.  Don’t base your purchases on getting a discount, and don’t rob yourself of a simple joy because you didn’t get a break on the price.  You can afford a happy, fulfilling life;
2673.  Make an attempt to free yourself from placing a price tag on everything you have and do.  Don’t make money the guiding principle for what you have or do; rather, simplify your life by finding the inherent value in everything.  A dollar does not determine worth, even though you live in a world that attempts to convince you otherwise;
2674.  A counterfact is an alternate scenario our brains create to help us evaluate and make sense of what really happened.  Because it’s invented, we actually have the power in any given situation to consciously select a counterfact that makes us feel fortunate rather than helpless;
2675.  Choosing a positive counterfact, besides simply making us feel better, sets ourselves up for the whole host of benefits to motivation and performance we now know accompanies a positive mindset.  On the other hand, choosing a counterfact that makes us more fearful of the adversity actually makes it loom larger than it really is;
2676.  In one interesting study, researchers at the University of Virginia asked participants to stand on a skateboard at the top of a hill and estimate the slope of the hill below them.  The more frightened and uncomfortable the subject was standing on a skateboard, the higher and steeper the slope appeared;
2677.  When we choose a counterfact that makes us feel worse, we are actually altering our reality, allowing the obstacle to exert far greater influence over us than it otherwise should;
2678.  Decades of study have shown that explanatory style – how we choose to explain the nature of past events – has a crucial impact on our happiness and future success;
2679.  People with an optimistic explanatory style interpret adversity as being local and temporary (i.e., “It’s not that bad, and it will get better.”) while those with a pessimistic explanatory style see these events as more global and permanent (i.e., “It’s really bad, and it’s never going to change.”).  Their beliefs then directly affect their actions; the ones who believe the latter statement sink into helplessness and stop trying, while the ones who believe the former are spurred on to higher performance;
2680.  Virtually all avenues of success, we now know, are dictated by explanatory style.  It predicts how well students do in high school, and even how well new recruits do at the U.S. Military Academy.  First-year plebes with a more optimistic explanatory style perform better than test scores predict, and are less likely to drop out than their peers.  In the world of sports, studies of athletes ranging from collegiate swimmers to professional baseball players show than explanatory style predicts athletic performance.  It even predicts how well people recover after coronary bypass surgery;
2681.  One way to help ourselves see the path from adversity to opportunity is to practice the ABCD model of interpretation: Adversity, Belief, Consequence, and Disputation.  Adversity is the event we can’t change; it is what it is.  Belief is our reaction to the event; whey we thought it happened and what we think it means for the future.  Is it a problem that is only temporary and local in nature or do we think it is permanent and pervasive?  Are there ready solutions, or do we think it is unsolvable?  If we believe the former – that is, if we see the adversity as short-term or as an opportunity for growth or appropriately confined to only part of our life – then we maximize the chance of a positive Consequence.  But if the Belief has led us down a more pessimistic path, helplessness and inaction can bring negative Consequences.  Disputation involves first telling ourselves that our belief is just that – a belief, not fact – and then challenging (or disputing) it.  Psychologists recommend that we externalize this voice (i.e., pretend it’s coming from someone else), so it’s like we’re actually arguing with another person.  What is the evidence for this belief?  Is it airtight?  Would we let a friend get away with such reasoning?  Or is the reasoning clearly specious once we step outside of ourselves and take a look?  What are some other plausible interpretations of this event?  What are some more adaptive reactions to it?  Is there another counterfactual we can adopt instead?  And finally, if the adversity truly is bad, is it as bad as we first thought?
2682.  Decatastrophizing: taking time to show ourselves that while the adversity is real, it is perhaps not as catastrophic as we may have made it out to be;
2683.  Thousands of years of evolution have made us so remarkably good at adapting to even the most extreme life circumstances, adversity never hits us quite as hard – or for quite as long – as we think it might;
2684.  After an initial adjustment and period of hardship, most victims of paralysis bounce back to just about the same level of happiness they experienced before;
2685.  The human psyche is so much more resilient than we even realize.  Which is why, when faced with a terrible prospect – for example, the end of a love affair or of a job – we overestimate how unhappy it will make us and for how long;
2686.  Adversities, no matter what they are, simply don’t hit us as hard as we think they will.  Just knowing this quirk of human psychology – that our fear of consequences is always worse than the consequences themselves – can help us move toward a more optimistic interpretation of the downs we well inevitably face;
2687.  Success is not about never falling down or even simply about falling down and getting back up over and over.  Success is about more than simple resilience.  It’s about using that downward momentum to propel ourselves in the opposite direction.  It’s about capitalizing on setbacks and adversity to become even happier, even more motivated, and even more successful.  It’s not falling down, it’s falling up;
2688.  Chopsticks work really well for eating mussels;
2689.  One of the biggest drivers of success is the belief that our behavior matters; that we have control over our future;
2690.  If we first concentrate our efforts on small manageable goals, we regain the feeling of control so crucial to performance.  By first limiting the scope of our efforts, then watching those efforts have the intended effect, we accumulate the resources, knowledge, and confidence to expand the circle, gradually conquering a larger and larger area;
2691.  Feeling that we are in control, that we are masters of our own fate at work and at home, is one of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance;
2692.  Among students, greater feelings of control lead not only to higher levels of happiness, but also to higher grades and more motivation to pursue the careers they really want;
2693.  Employees who feel they have high levels of control at the office are better at their jobs and report more job satisfaction;
2694.  A 2002 study of nearly 3,000 wage and salaried employees for the National Study of the Changing Workforce found that greater feelings of control at work predicted greater satisfaction in nearly every aspect of life: family, job, relationships, and so on;
2695.  People who felt in control at work also had lower levels of stress, work-family conflict, and job turnover;
2696.  Psychologists have found that these kinds of gains in productivity, happiness, and health have less to do with how much control we actually have and more with how much control we think we have;
2697.  How we experience the world is shaped largely by our mindset;
2698.  The most successful people, in work and in life, are those who have what psychologists call an “internal locus of control,” the belief that their actions have a direct effect on their outcomes.  People with an external locus, on the other hand, are more likely to see daily events as dictated by external forces;
2699.  People with an external locus don’t just duck the blame for failure, though; they also miss out on the credit for their successes, which can be equally maladaptive because it undermines both confidence and dedication;
2700.  Believing that, for the most part, our actions determine our fates in life can only spur us to work harder; and when we see this hard work pay off, our belief in ourselves only grows stronger;

Sunday, December 22, 2013

What I’ve learned since moving to D.C. (some of which should be obvious):

2601.  Imagine the ideal you and the ideal scenario.  As long as it’s realistic, hold on to that image and make it happen.  If you prioritize your schedule and schedule your priorities, there’s almost no limit to what you can do.  But you have to make it happen;
2602.  When we eliminate any upward options from our mental maps, and worse, eliminate our motivation to search for them, we end up undermining our ability to tackle the challenge at hand;
2603.  When people feel helpless in one area of life, they not only give up in that one area; they often “overlearn” the lesson and apply it to other situations.  They become convinced that one dead-end path must be proof that all possible paths are dead ends;
2604.  Learned helplessness is endemic in inner city schools, prisons, and elsewhere;
2605.  When people don’t believe there is a way up, they have virtually no choice but to stay as down as they are;
2606.  When some people meet adversity, they simply stop looking for ways to turn failures into opportunities or negatives into positives.  Others—the most successful among us—know that it’s not the adversity itself, but what we do with it that determines our fate;
2607.  Just as personal crises can provide the foundation for positive individual growth, so can economic ones;
2608.  America’s top companies have often used recessions to reevaluate and improve their business practices;
2609.  As Time pointed out way back in 1958, “for every company that slims down its operation, another discovers new ways of doing things that should have been in effect for years but were overlooked during the boom;”
2610.  Economic adversity forces companies to find creative ways to cut costs and inspires management to get back in touch with the employees and operations on the ground floor;
2611.  Passion always trumps excuses;
2612.  The mere presence of passion within you is all you need to fulfill your dreams;
2613.  Passion is a feeling that tells you: This is the right thing to do.  Nothing can stand in my way.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else says.  This feeling is so good that it cannot be ignored.  I’m going to follow my bliss and act upon this glorious sensation of joy;
2614.  Never allow anyone else’s ideas of who you can or can’t become sully your dream or pollute your imagination;
2615.  If you want to find a deeper meaning in your life, you won’t find it in the opinions or the beliefs that have been handed to you.  Rather than trying to be what everyone else expects you to be, live your life by your own rules to be happy and find inner peace;
2616.  Australians don’t drink Foster’s.  They’d rather drink a Corona . . . or just about anything else;
2617.  A small soda in the U.S. is a large in Australia;
2618.  Watch out for drunk(en) Australian girls, they might head butt you;
2619.  Australian girls have hard heads;
2620.  The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs.  You can’t package stress, touch it or see it.  There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.  That pesky ego is at work when you’re experiencing stress or anxiety.  We speak of stress as if it were present in the world as something that attacks us.  But the stress in your body is rarely the result of external forces or entities attacking you; it’s the result of the weakened connection to Source caused by the belief that ego is who you are.  You are peace and joy, but you’ve allowed your ego to dominate your life;
2621.  Here’s a short list of stress-inducing thoughts that originate in your ego self: It’s more important to be right than to be happy; Winning is the only thing so when you lose, you should be stressed; Your reputation is more important than your relationship with your Source; Success is measured in dollars rather than in feeling happy and content; and Being superior to others is more important than being kind to others;
2622.  You aren’t your work, your accomplishments, your possessions, your home, your family . . . your anything.  You’re a creation of your Source, dressed in a physical human body intended to experience and enjoy life on Earth.  This is the intention that you want to bring to the presence of stress—your personal intention to be tranquil.  Stress and anxiety are choices that we make, ways that we choose to process events.  Each day, we have hundreds of opportunities to shift our thoughts and align with the Source that intended us for lives of joy and peace;
2623.  Maryland Live! Casino (MarylandLiveCasino.com) in Arundel Mills has a pretty good buffet.  It’s $14.99 for lunch (Monday through Saturday) and $17.99 for dinner (Sunday through Thursday) and Sunday champagne brunch;
2624.  Jane and Luisa think I need a bigger bed;
2625.  Don’t piss off Rashmi when she’s drunk. . . . Your (left) pinky will never be the same;
2626.  The Moulin Rouge was the first integrated hotel casino in Las Vegas . . . and (in) the U.S.;
2627.  Maurice Hines (i.e., the tap dancer and older brother of Gregory Hines) is almost 70;
2628.  A study published in “Evolution & Human Behavior” by Sarah Hill, a psychologist at the University of Texas, Austin, shows that people of both sexes reckon the sexual competition they face is stronger than it really is.  Dr. Hill showed heterosexual men and women photographs of people.  She asked them to rate both how attractive those of their own sex would be to the opposite sex and how attractive the members of the opposite sex were.  She then compared the scores for the former with the scores for the latter, seen from the other side.  Men thought that the men they were shown were more attractive to the women than they really were and women thought the same of the women;
2629.  When you think about what confidence actually is you realize that it’s simply doing something that you’ve done enough times to be comfortable with.  It’s only when we’re thrown into situations that are unfamiliar to us that we start to lose confidence in ourselves;
2630.  As soon as you start blaming people, you’re missing the point.  Focus on yourself;
2631.  You are what you do;
2632.  See anything you want to change about yourself?  That’s where you start;
2633.  Taking care of yourself on the outside helps on the inside;
2634.  You are not the moral conscience of the world.  No one cares about your strongly held negative opinions of the guy down the street.  Drop it and try to do something positive with your day;
2635.  Negativity isn’t sexy or a rational response to the world.  You’re closer to death one day at a time.  Enjoy your time – it’s the one resource (unlike money, etc.) that’s not replenishable;
2636.  The “Mango & Lime” peri peri sauce at Nando’s Peri-Peri (NandosPeriPeri.com) is pretty tasty;
2637.  If you’re going to Nando’s Peri-Peri with a friend, consider splitting the “Full Platter.”  For $24.95, you’ll get twice the amount of food (i.e., two legs and thighs, two breasts and wings and two large sides that’ll feed four) for just a little (bit) more (money) than you’d spend getting two legs and thighs or two breasts and wings with two sides each (i.e., $17.70 and $18.70, respectively);
2638.  Emotions from one source can be transferred (i.e., misattributed) to another source;
2639.  Emotions have two parts: Physiological (i.e., in the body); and Cognitive (i.e., in the mind);
2640.  The shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald (by Jack Ruby) was the first live broadcast of a murder on TV;
2641.  If you like Asian fusion, The Source (WolfgangPuck.com/Restaurants/Fine-Dining/3941) in D.C. has a really good Saturday dim sum brunch from 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM. . . . The noodle and salad dishes give you the most food;
2642.  A(ccording to Starbucks, a) “Caffè Americano” is (a shot of) espresso (diluted) with hot water. . . . A “Caffè/espresso macchiato” is (a shot of) espresso with steamed milk foam. . . . And a “Caffè latte” is (a shot of) espresso in steamed milk, (lightly) topped with foam;
2643.  With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself, or treat what has happened as a gift.  Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing.  You get to choose;
2644.  Everything in this physical universe of ours is in some way connected to everything else.  When we attempt to isolate anything, we find that it is in some way part of everything else in the universe.  Just as it is absurd for a single wave to see itself as separate from the ocean, so it is for any of us not to recognize our oneness with all creation;
2645.  No one is capable of making you upset without your consent, so if you begin practicing the intention to be authentic and peaceful with everyone, you connect to peace itself–and gain the power to change the energy of your relationships with family and friends;
2646.  In order to change the nature of family relationships, you’ll have to change your mind about them and consider that you are the source of the anguish in your relationships, rather than the individual whom you’ve pegged as the most outrageous, the most despicable, or the most infuriating.  Over the years, all of these individuals have been treating you exactly as you’ve allowed them to with your reactions and behaviors.  This can miraculously change when you choose to be at peace with everyone in your life–most particularly, your relatives;
2647.  If the focus of your inner dialogue about your family members is on what they're doing that's wrong, then that’s precisely how your relationship with them will be experienced.  If your inner speech centers on what’s annoying about them, that’s what you'll notice.  But if you're thinking, I am authentic and peaceful with this relative, then that’s what you’ll experience–even if that relative continues to be exactly the way he or she has always been;
2648.  The key to having peace in all your family relationships is forgiveness.  Your relatives are simply doing what they’ve been taught to do over a lifetime and the lifetimes of many of their ancestors.  Shower them with understanding and forgiveness from your heart.  Rather than being in a state of non-peace concerning any family members, say a prayer of gratitude for their presence in your life and all that they have come to teach you;
2649.  If you don’t love yourself, nobody else will.  Not only that, you won’t be good at loving anyone else.  Loving starts with the self;
2650.  Notice each day whether you are choosing to live in fear or love.  Fear can keep you disconnected from the loving presence inside of you;

Monday, December 9, 2013

Zagat's 5 Best Burgers in D.C. Metro

1.  Ray's Hell Burger
2.  Black & Orange
3.  Five Guys
4.  Thunder Burger & Bar
5.  Good Stuff Eatery