Archive for March, 2011

How to be a Hero

March 25th, 2011 No comments

In 1995, Psychology Today came up with a list of the characteristics of a hero. At the time, I found the article interesting, but I was in search of some inspiration. As usual. To that end, I thought I’d rephrase the characteristics in the imperative, to make them more of a set of affirmations. I printed up little cards with these imperatives, but only gave them to people who asked. Don’t want to be pushy, you know.

They’re rather lofty, but hey, aim for the stars and hit the moon.

  • Be courageous and strong
  • Be honest
  • Be kind, loving and generous
  • Use skill, expertise and intelligence
  • Take (reasonable) risks
  • Be charismatic

The risky part should be qualified, don’t you think? I wouldn’t advise anyone to risk harm to themselves or anyone else, but often we avoid risking damage to our self-image through embarrassment, for example. Naturally, there’s no need to be complete here, as a fine and honorable life can be lived through observance of only the first three of these. If the meaning of the list isn’t clear, do read the article.

By the way, this post came about because something popped into my head recently — another pearl of wisdom from Dr. Dave, who said “there can be no refinement without repetition”. Dave defined integrity as saying and doing the same thing. In other words, what you say and what you do match, they integrate, therefore you are integrated. You have integrity.

Hm. How about adding “thinking” to make it a trinity of enlightenment?


March 17th, 2011 No comments

I finally broke down and bought one of them newfangled iPad gadgets. Yes, make no mistake, it is a gadget, but I’ll have to admit, a rather useful one.

I had avoided one up until now because it wasn’t a computer. Sure, it probably has more processing power than anything that sent us to the moon, but it won’t run the apps i use to make a living, so to me, that diminishes its computer status. Also, I thought of it as just a big iPod, and a delivery mechanism for the stuff that really generates income for Apple: apps and tunes.

But … I finally broke down and bought one to show videos to clients in pitch situations where a laptop was too much and an iPod was too little. And it did that quite nicely, as long as we were all gathered around it.

So it’s a useful gadget. But then there are those app things. Basically, I’m finding that the iPad is a gadget, but it’s also a non-gadget. What does it really do on its own? Not much. It’s really a blank slate for the apps, which make up the useful part of the iPad. Sure, most of them look like incredible time-wasters (and we complain about having no time?), but there are two that are proving useful in my Psych class. The first one is called 3D brain (“braaaaiinnns!”) which shows a 3D model of the brain along with annotations and callouts for the weird little subcortical bits. It grossed out my Mom, but it’s useful in contrast to the textbook illustrations, which only show a sagittal (lengthwise cross-section) view of the brain. These views don’t show that there are two of a number of structures, on the left and right sides of the brain. Who knew?

The second app has proven most useful: a test of Psychological knowledge. It’s used to prep students in Britain for a PSY100-like test using questions, tips and flash cards. I ran through the tests before studying, then again after studying and was able to improve my score. They’re not 100% related to my course content, but they’re pretty close. I’d like to see more of these test apps, but once I get into higher-level courses, I don’t expect to see apps because of the more limited market compared to PSY 100.

Oh, yes … the headline. Well, I’ve recently gotten back on the Zhan Zhuang (standing meditation practice) wagon, so this thing helps me keep track of my practice through a “zen timer” app. The motivational part comes from a little statistic in the app that shows the number of consecutive days spent meditating. Not wanting to see it drop to zero, I keep going. So far so good, and my Zhan Zhuang is getting better as a result.

If you’re considering one of these iPad things, I recommend you see what kinds of apps are available that suit your needs — you may find a must-have app for you. But aside from that, it’s just a big iPod.

… for now, anyway.

Edit: Just to be clear, I own an iPod because I’m in graphics, and Apple’s Quicktime is important to my work. If it weren’t, I might consider another make of tablet — maybe one that supports Flash?

Categories: modern life, psychology Tags:

Longevity “R” us

March 8th, 2011 No comments

Loyal reader Paul alerted me to this article on one of our favorite subjects, this longevity thing. In a nutshell, it seems that it helps to be conscientious. Here’s how the study, The Longevity Project, defines it:

A conscientious person is responsible and organized and not very full of ego. They’re pragmatic and they think ahead.

The study has good credibility because it followed the same subjects from 1921 up to 1990, with some breaks in-between. Check it out.

Categories: psychology, secrets of youth Tags:

Happy mind, happy body

March 3rd, 2011 No comments

Here’s an article that says that positivity helps longevity.

I think this is the secret, simplistic though it may be: if we want to be healthy, we should take care of the body and take care of the mind as well. The dualists thought that the two were separate, which I interpret as seeing the mind as the driver and the body as the car, but now I hope we see that the two are intertwined — we are the driver and the car. Hey, if thoughts can lead to stress, pain and ulcers, then happiness and calmness can lead to health … and this has been found.

Mind and body. Body and mind.

But here’s the weird thing, on which I shall opine further in the future: we spend so much time trying to protect the self, we forget about protecting the mind, the brain and thus the body. Do chew on that, if you will.