A DIY guide, apparently, to having an out of body experience

Tuesday, 22 April, 2014

If, no pun intended, you put your mind to it, you too can partake of an out of body experience. The first thing to do though is establish where your inner-self, your consciousness, or your essence, is located in your body. Most people go for the brain, and that may well be the case, but you have to be sure before continuing

Lie on the floor and close your eyes. Try to do so where it’s quiet, so you are not distracted by sound, either. While you are lying on the ground, let your mind wander to different parts of your body: Focus on the way the floor feels against the back of your neck, against your shoulders, against your backside. Rub your hands against the floor, and feel the texture. While you are focused on the way things feel, all of your attention is focused on a part of your body other than your head. Keep your attention completely focused on the sensation that you are getting from your hands, and that becomes your world. The center of your awareness will travel to the part of your body that you are focused on.

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For a love that will endure… date thyself

Wednesday, 16 April, 2014

Sifting through data collected by online dating, or matchmaking sites, appears to pour cold water on the notion that opposites ultimately attract. To be sure, opposites do attract, but eventually opposites… attack, or repel.

The data reveals a clear pattern: People are interested in people like themselves. Women on eHarmony favor men who are similar not just in obvious ways – age, attractiveness, education, income – but also in less apparent ones, such as creativity. Even when eHarmony includes a quirky data point – like how many pictures are included in a user’s profile – women are more likely to message men similar to themselves. In fact, of the 102 traits in the data set, there was not one for which women were more likely to contact men with opposite traits.

When playing the dating game it seems you’re effectively looking for yourself to date. If you take my meaning. See you tonight then?

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Is misery easier to learn about than happiness?

Thursday, 3 April, 2014

Happiness can be quite difficult to quantify, apparently. Might that be because one minute it’s there, the next it has gone?

Unhappiness, or misery, is another matter. It’s far easier to get a grasp on however. Perhaps then we could better understand human nature generally were more time devoted to studying our heavier moods, rather than our lighter emotions?

Misery, by contrast, is a marvellously rich source of data. Unhappy families are, as Tolstoy pointed out, much more varied than happy ones. And if happiness is elusive and subjective, there are plenty of objective sources of unhappiness: hunger, illness, the premature death of loved ones, family breakdown and so on. We can measure the ways these things change over time and compare that data to subjective emotional evidence. A whole new research programme suggests itself.

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You may not be a genius, but you may be able to act like one

Wednesday, 2 April, 2014

Are virtuosos, or prodigies, born or made? Were you to adopt the habits and lifestyles of geniuses, might you join their ranks? It’s not always an enviable life though, and I’m not just talking about the output that would be required, or demanded, of you… especially if solitude isn’t your thing:

One of Simone de Beauvoir’s lovers put it this way: “there were no parties, no receptions, no bourgeois values… it was an uncluttered kind of life, a simplicity deliberately constructed so that she could do her work.” Marcel Proust “made a conscious decision in 1910 to withdraw from society,” writes Currey. Pablo Picasso and his girlfriend Fernande Olivier borrowed the idea of Sunday as an “at-home day” from Stein and Toklas – so that they could “dispose of the obligations of friendship in a single afternoon.”

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People who are what they say they are, that’s imposter syndrome

Tuesday, 1 April, 2014

When I first heard the term “impostor syndrome” it conjured up thoughts of people who habitually can’t help but convey the impression to others that they are someone who they are not. Such as a pauper repeatedly claiming to be a billionaire, for example.

Far from being a scientific term perhaps for con-artists or fraudsters however, it instead refers to people who are expert in a particular field, say astrophysics, but when they are among peers, feel as if they don’t belong, or are somehow not worthy of their actual, real, accomplishments.

Impostor syndrome is the frequent feeling of not deserving one’s success, and of being of a failure despite a sustained record of achievements. Highly successful people often experience it throughout their careers, especially when they are members of a group that is underrepresented in their profession – such as female scientists or engineers.

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Astrology is only for real because we make it so

Wednesday, 26 March, 2014

Personally I don’t have much time for astrology, it’s fun for two minutes, then it quickly becomes routine. Here’s the thing though, you may think it’s all hokum, but there are plenty of people who take it seriously, and act accordingly, and like it or not their subsequent decisions may have some impact on you after all.

Every few months you have an explanation for everything amiss in your life, especially pertaining to technology. Mercury in retrograde has became the default explanation of what’s wrong with our world. One astrology-based consultant lists what not to do when this cosmic trickster is dancing in reverse: Don’t start a new job. Don’t close a deal. Avoid traveling. Don’t buy anything.

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To search for yourself, you must first find yourself

Tuesday, 25 March, 2014

A woman holidaying recently in Iceland went missing. Apparently. She was found not too much later… among the ranks of those who were searching for her:

Toronto Sun reports that a tourist group traveling by bus to the volcanic Eldgja canyon made a pit stop near the canyon park. The woman in question went inside to freshen up and change her clothes at the rest stop, and when she came back “her busmates didn’t recognize her.” Word spread among the group of a missing passenger, and the woman didn’t recognize the description of herself. Next thing you know, a 50-person search party was canvassing the area, and the coast guard was mobilizing to deploy a search party of its own. About 3am, some genius in the group finally figured out that the missing woman was actually in the search party, albeit in different clothes, and the search was called off.

You couldn’t make this stuff up even if you tried to.

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In the ears of the beholder, a song’s lyrics

Tuesday, 25 March, 2014

There’s really no need to ridicule people who mishear the lyrics of songs. Really it’s just their way of interpreting such a composition:

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about the important role that misunderstood lyrics play in the way rock music works. The problem is especially pointed in the case of the post-punk Gang of Four because they saw much of their music as a political intervention in the events of their day (the late 70s through the early 80s). But how can rock really “rage against the machine” if no one’s quite sure what it’s saying? What can it mean that a band that put a great deal of emphasis on its songwriting – pop songs as political theory – actively resisted making that theory more intelligible? Resisted to the degree that even smart and sympathetic critics have sometimes badly misread the work?

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Are extraverts really happier than introverts?

Thursday, 20 March, 2014

Because they tend to do more, it’s in their nature after all, extraverts are generally happier than introverts, because they are engaging in more activities that are deemed rewarding.

“Extraverts, because of their active nature, are more likely to seek and spend more time on rewarding activities,” the researchers said. “When they do so, they also experience a higher boost in momentary happiness as compared to their introverted counterparts. This partly explains the direct relationship between extraversion and momentary happiness.”

An interesting finding. I’d have thought though introverts would be quite happy contemplating the wall of thought that exists between them and the rest of the world, when they’re not engaged in other… rewarding activities.

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Music is not always music to everyone’s ears

Tuesday, 18 March, 2014

Between one to three percent of the population “suffers” from a condition known as music-specific anhedonia… meaning they derive no enjoyment at all from listening to music of any sort. I know it’s different strokes for different folks, but this is the first I’ve ever heard of people being averse to all forms of music.

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