7 Reason Why You Should Embrace Your Dysfunctional #Family


(The following excerpt from 7 Reasons Why You Should Embrace Your Dysfunctional Family by Paul Hudson recently appeared on elitedaily.comTo view it in its entirety click on the link below.)

The holiday season is upon us and I bet half of you are dreading going home to see your families. I can’t blame you — I’m sure many of you have a miserable time.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that bad. Sure, your family may be entirely dysfunctional, but you can embrace that dysfunction and have the best winter ever!

Your family members may drive you bananas, but if they love you, they probably deserve another chance. Why?

1. Because it’s your family.

They may be nutty. They may not be the sharpest tools in the shed. They may be rude or even slightly inconsiderate. But nevertheless, it’s your family — and that does mean something.

I can understand wanting to keep the distance if the relationship is a dangerous one; sometimes those closest to us abuse us and take advantage. However, if your parents always loved you and did their best to take care of you, distancing yourself from them isn’t right.

More than that, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build a strong foundation to push off from in order excel in other areas of your life. You don’t need to go on living your life entirely alone.

That’s why we have families — because we need that extra support in order to make something great of ourselves.

No one is successful entirely on his or her own. And even those who appear to be so are usually deeply damaged.

2. If you can’t get rid of them, you may as well get used to having them around.

Sure, you could do your best to avoid them, but is spending time with them really that awful? I’m sure you could think of a couple of things you’d rather do, but when is there not something you’d rather be doing?

Right this very second, for example, I’d rather be lying on a beach, sipping on some frozen drink out of a pineapple, but instead I’m sitting half frozen in New York typing away.

If your family is going to remain a part of your life regardless of what you’d prefer, or think you’d prefer your life to be, at least make the most of it. Maybe get to know them a little better.

I know you think you know them because you grew up with them, but I have a feeling now that you’re older, you’d all be able to relate on a different, deeper level. You may even find that your siblings aren’t quite the pains in the ass they used to be.

3. There’s a good chance that they mean well, but just don’t excel at executing.

Parents usually have a difficult time relating to their children — especially if they grew up in a different country. The less they’re in tune with modern times, the more difficult it will be for them to express their love for you in a way that you understand.

A lot of the time our parents or grandparents mean well but end up making a mess of things. We get frustrated at them, even though we can’t really blame them for being a bit ignorant.

Maybe if we talked to them a bit more instead of giving them the cold shoulder, we’d find that they’re only trying to make us happy.

They may be failing, but they’re trying. It’s the thought that counts.

4. You may not be as easy to put up with as you think that you are.

I’m sure you think that you’re the most wonderful daughter, son, sister, brother, granddaughter, grandson… but are you really? You sure you aren’t just as much of a pain in the ass as they are? Maybe try looking at things from their perspective for a change.

We argue because we believe we’re right and everyone else is wrong. This is fine when we’re talking about facts and we can actually do a fact check. With family, though, we usually argue about things that are entirely a matter of opinion. You can’t win these sorts of arguments.

Our parents also have a way of letting their emotions and worry get the best of them. Often people find that the more their parents care about them, the more they give them a hard time. But imagine how you’d feel if the opposite were true.

What if your parents never hassled you about anything at all? What if they just didn’t care?

5. You can’t change people — so learn to accept them as is.

You may not be happy with whom they choose to be. You may not even especially like their choices. But they’re their choices to make, and you’re going to have to let them make it.

We all make our own choices in life — and that’s the way it ought to be since we’re the ones who have to live with them.

Sometimes we see our parents or siblings making poor decisions and feel a need to intervene — and you should intervene — but if after you approaching them and explaining to them why you believe that they are making a mistake, what more can you really do but allow them to live the life they want?

Getting angry at them or ignoring them only makes things worse. If their decisions are physically damaging, you may need to get a professional involved, but if their decisions are only a matter of opinion, you have to let them have their opinion.

The way they believe they should live life is probably the way they want to live their life.

And if it isn’t and they’re miserable, maybe they need to hit rock bottom to realize that.

6. Having good relationships can change your life for the better.

If you’re aiming to change the lives of your family in a positive way, then it may need to start with you simply being there for them. Listen instead of directing. Talk to them instead of storming off. Maybe if you patched up your relationship a bit first, you’d find that you’d get through to them better.

Or maybe you’d grow to learn that the decisions they’re making aren’t wrong after all. Sure, you’d live your life differently if you were in their shoes, but to each his own.

We may not understand why our parents enjoy doing the things they enjoy doing, or enjoy avoiding the things they enjoy avoiding, but those are their choices to make.

If you want them to be happier, try mending your relationship first and foremost. Interpersonal relationships tend to have the greatest impact on people’s lives.

7. Most of the time we don’t really bother to try and build good relationships — especially with our family members.

We usually either believe we know better than everyone else, or we can’t find the guts to be the first one admit that we might’ve been wrong.

It’s always best to be the one to initiate. It takes the pressure off the other person and in doing so, makes them much more likely to accept a truce.

If you aren’t fighting with your family but just don’t like the relationship you have, don’t be afraid to be the one to initiate more meaningful conversations.

Show them that you’re interested in their lives — past, present and future — and they’re likely to appreciate you more for it. At the end of the day, our family members are just like everybody else; they only want to know those they care about also care about them.


It’s Actual #Chemistry: How We Choose The People We Fall In #Love With


(The following excerpt from It’s Actual Chemistry: How We Choose The People We Fall In Love With recently appeared on elitedaily.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)

I want to start out by saying that I draw a clear distinction between love and romantic love. Many will disagree, but thankfully I have science on my side.

Love itself is as close as human beings can come to being selfless. People will make sacrifices for love. They will make compromises. They feel connected with this other individual to the point that this individual becomes a part of them — in the psyche, quite literally.

Romantic love, on the other hand — what so many confuse for actual love — is little more than an obsession. Helen Fisher, an American anthropologist and human behavior researcher focusing primarily on romantic interpersonal relationships has over 30 years of experience on the subject — and I believe she’d agree with the distinction I’m making.

She certainly agrees with my believing that romantic love is an obsession. There’s a very interesting TED talk by her that, if you have time, I’d recommend watching.

Putting the differences between romantic love and love aside for the moment, I’d like to address that point in time when we fall in love.

What makes you fall in love? Sure, the person you are in love with is definitely the cause. But have you ever wondered how an outside force can have such an effect on you? Some believe that love is a tangible, ethereal substance and the substance linking one person to another is what makes loving a person possible.

Personally, I’ve stopped looking to fairy tales for advice a long time ago. I can’t accept that things simply “just happen,” as if by magic or by a process that is incomprehensible to the human mind. If things happen, there certainly must be underlying mechanics that facilitate that happening. Love is no exception.

There are many factors that go into the chemistry behind attraction and romantic love. A person’s physical appearance is certainly one — human beings like symmetry as well as specific ratios between facial features. Social status is most certainly another.

A person’s background, the way he or she was raised, and his or her level of intellect also all play key roles in deciding whom you could possibly fall in love with.

However, these are not the only factors. Chemistry itself — literally chemistry — plays an enormous role in deciding which person you could or could not fall in love with. There are four chemicals in your brain that play the largest roles in deciding compatibility: dopamine, estrogen, serotonin and testosterone.

Dopamine is what makes reward-based behavior feel so rewarding. It’s the reason drug users get addicted to drugs. Estrogen and testosterone — present in both men and women — are what give us that sexual appetite.

And serotonin helps regulate your moods as well as being the neurotransmitter that allows for obsessive thinking and behavior. Of course, there are several other chemicals in the body that seem to be in hyperdrive when we find ourselves in love, but these seem to play the largest roles.

The question now is: Do these chemicals have an effect on the type of person you can fall in love with, and if so, how? Truth be told, the amount of information that we have on this topic is abysmal. But there are plenty of people out there, like Helen Fisher, who are digging into the field and conducting research.

From the research Fisher herself has so far collected, it is now believed that there are four basic personality types that decide what type(s) of person(s) you could potentially fall for.

These types are classified according to the production levels of each of the four chemicals I previously mentioned. The types are as follows:

1. Builders: cautious individuals who tend to follow traditions and value persistence.

2. Directors: analytical personalities who enjoy making decisions and have a tendency to lean toward aggression.

3. Explorers: risk takers who are impulsive and creative.

4. Negotiators: intuitive, idealistic and compassionate individuals who are more selfless than the other three types.

What you should also keep in mind is that although these four types are rather distinct, where each individual falls won’t be so black and white.

Because these types are based on chemical levels in the body and the body’s ability to produce these chemicals, it’s safe to say that every person falls partially into several — if not all — of these four groups.

However, most will fall primarily into one or two. Which type you are is believed to decide the type of person you will be compatible with.

For example, those predominantly falling into the categories of builders and explorers tend to fall for others who predominantly fall into the very same group. Directors and negotiators, on the other hand, have a tendency to fall for each other instead of falling with individuals within the same type.

This is important to note because understanding why you feel the way you do, and why you choose the lovers you do, can not only help you understand yourself, but also help you understand the person you are looking for.

In a world where there are too many options and not enough time to sample, being efficient with learning who you are and aren’t compatible with could mean the difference between a happily ever after and a solitary future.

There is plenty of research into this topic and I urge that you look into it sooner than later. You can continue believing the fairy tales that you were raised on, but from my personal experience, life never mirrors what we were taught was the “correct” way to love.

Better understanding the chemicals, functions and reasonings at work when we fall in love will help us be better at loving. Romantic love is great, but because it relies on chemicals, it fluctuates and can even fade entirely.

Understand how romantic love works and how to differentiate it from love itself, and your chances of finding and keeping the person of your dreams increases two-fold.


It’s SO Not a Race to the Top #Education


It’s (Not) a Race to the Top

by Nick Romeo as featured in The Atlantic

What the Slow Food movement can teach the United States about education reform

In 1986, an Italian activist organized a rally to oppose the opening of a McDonald’s at the foot of Rome’s Spanish Steps. Protesters snacked on bowls of penne to show support for local culinary traditions and resistance to industrial food production. A McDonalds location did end up opening there, but the demonstration wasn’t futile: It helped launch the Slow Food movement, which now has spread to cities across the globe.

Slow Food often evokes the imagery of European luxury: lingering multicourse meals in quaint Tuscan towns, regionally specific dishes cooked by a charming third-generation chef, everything washed down with a delicious local wine. But the movement is not just an elite exercise in gastronomic hedonism; it’s also about promoting urban gardens, home-cooked meals, and farmers’ markets so that people of all economic means can enjoy Slow Food.

Slow Food suggests some intriguing ideas for reforming American education. Like food production, American education faces a matrix of connected problems. Teachers and pundits regularly complain about rampant standardized testing, excessive homework loads, the reflexive pursuit of prestige by students and parents, and declining performance on international tests.

Education reformers need a movement that treats these various problems as different symptoms of a single underlying pathology, and Slow Food is an instructive example. So what would a Slow School movement mean?

Slow Food represents a cluster of beliefs about what and how we should eat. These include supporting local and organic food, growing our own ingredients, savoring meals in communal settings, opposing the spread of industrial slaughterhouses and pesticide-drenched crops, and rejecting gratuitous chemical additives. But the movement doesn’t boil down to a single policy goal or life practice. Many interrelated problems plague our current system of growing and consuming food, and the movement takes a holistic approach to solving them.

It’s hyperbolic—and sort of creepy—to say that students are directly analogous to animals packed into crowded feedlots and pumped with hormones before their slaughter. But the analogy works on some levels: Just as factories aim to maximize profit, schools seek to boost test scores. In both cases, shortcuts are irresistible. Animals are injected with growth hormones, and students are taught quick tricks to answer test questions they don’t fully understand.

In her recent book, Building a Better Teacher, Elizabeth Green describes precisely this phenomenon. She writes about teachers who feel that pressure to produce high scores on state math tests undermines effective instruction. Cows fed corn instead of grass may grow more quickly, but their health suffers. Students taught quick mnemonic tricks may answer a multiple-choice question correctly, but that doesn’t mean they understand the math. Many companies track the cost of transforming raw materials into finished products (like corn to beef), and many school districts use a system borrowed from industrial economists to assess the cost of increasing student test scores. These industrial methods helped to create a perverse system defined by a single objective: to raise test scores.

But how teachers raise scores matters—not all methods of solving a problem are equally valid. Students allowed to struggle slowly with difficult problems ultimately do better on harder tests. In her book, Green describes Japan’s approach to education, which involves having elementary students spend entire class periods working slowly through a single problem rather than cranking through dozens of repetitions without understanding any profoundly. Slow School would emphasize process over results. Food raised in humane and ecologically responsible ways tends to taste better, but this isn’t the only reason to follow these practices. There’s something intrinsically valuable about increasing the quality of life for animals and protecting the environment. Students given the chance to slow down tend to perform better, but their experience also matters. And cramming specious shortcuts to prepare for tests that determine the salaries of teachers is not enjoyable.

We need to let students experience the pleasure and wonder of learning. Teachers can’t afford to ignore test results any more than farmers can profits, but it’s worth rewarding them for the process—not just the results. This means prying open classrooms and evaluating teachers throughout the process of instruction. Are they helping students enjoy the process of learning? Are they sufficiently focused on deeper comprehension? Are they discouraging the petty pursuit of prestige?

Letting cows wander around and munch on grass might be less efficient than injecting them with growth hormones and feeding them corn, but it’s part of a humane and ecologically sustainable system. The increased pleasure experienced by kids who are allowed to get distracted, take breaks, pursue digressions, and learn at natural rates is also worth a decrease in efficiency.

Slow School would move away from standardized tests and one-size-fits-all curricula. Slowing down allows teachers to modify content in a way that makes students more engaged and happier. And just as it’s more sustainable to buy food grown close to home, it’s also worthwhile to support neighborhood schools. Putting time and money into local school systems ultimately improves their quality and creates a positive feedback loop.

A Slow School movement would embrace many of the excellent ideas that school reformers have been proposing for decades: de-emphasizing standardized tests, focusing on student happiness, individualizing instruction, and halting the flight of students from their own neighborhood schools. But considering all of these changes as remedies for a single broader problem helps remind us that no single solution will be entirely effective. Slow Food is compelling because it provides a cluster of answers to a series of flaws. Slow School could do the same thing.


Is #Campus #Rape Business As Usual? … #UVA Bans Fraternities


(The following excerpt from UVA Ban Fraternities Until January In Wake Of  Campus Rape Article by Bill Chappell recently appeared on npr.org. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)

Citing “great sorrow, great rage” and “great determination,” University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan says she’s suspending all the school’s fraternities until Jan. 9. The move comes days after a Rolling Stone article in which a woman described being gang-raped when she was a freshman in 2012.

The magazine’s story revolves around the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, which sits in a prestigious spot on campus, at the other end of an athletic field behind the university president’s office.

In the article, a student named Jackie describes how her initial excitement of being invited to a party at the fraternity was suddenly replaced by fear and violence, as a group of men trapped her in a room and attacked her.

The article says Jackie was pressured by peers to keep her story quiet, and that administrators who knew about Jackie’s story took no action — even after she reported allegations from two other girls who said they had been assaulted in a similar way at the same fraternity.

In a letter to the school’s students Saturday, Sullivan said she has asked the Charlottesville police to investigate the incident. Her decision to place a temporary ban on fraternities follows a voluntary move by all UVA fraternities to suspend their social activities for this weekend.

Sullivan said that didn’t go far enough:

“I write you today in solidarity. I write you in great sorrow, great rage, but most importantly, with great determination. Meaningful change is necessary, and we can lead that change for all universities. We can demand that incidents like those described in Rolling Stone never happen and that if they do, the responsible are held accountable to the law. This will require institutional change, cultural change, and legislative change, and it will not be easy. We are making those changes.”
The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity was the target of an immediate backlash after the article was published. On Wednesday, its house was vandalized; on Thursday, the chapter said it had voluntarily surrendered its fraternal agreement with UVA.

“Make no mistake, the acts depicted in the article are beyond unacceptable — they are vile and intolerable in our brotherhood, our university community and our society,” the group said in a letter to the school newspaper. “We remain ready and willing to assist with the fair and swift pursuit of justice, wherever that may lead.”

Sullivan has been criticized this week for leaving the campus, and the country, on Wednesday to attend a conference in the Netherlands — a trip the school says was planned back in June.

In her absence, one of the university’s first attempts to respond to the story backfired, when it hired former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip to investigate the matter. After it was revealed that Filip had himself been a Phi Kappa Psi member at an Illinois college, he was taken off the job, local newspaper the Daily Progress reports.

Yesterday, Rolling Stone published a follow-up article titled “Rape at UVA: Readers Say Jackie Wasn’t Alone,” in which people wrote in to describe their own experiences with sexual assault at the university.

Similar stories have emerged in comments on the university’s Facebook page this week.

One comment came from Helen Drogas, who sits on the university’s board. She asked that people share their stories in an alumni forum. And she added that she’d only this week learned of a friend’s story.

“I learned that a college friend of mine had the exact same thing happen to her in a fraternity house,” she wrote. “I never knew it, and I was really shaken that women were being victimized then, and still are more than thirty years later.”

On the UVA campus, a university faculty group has organized a protest for Saturday night over what it calls “a social culture that puts our female students at unacceptable risk,” as local NBC News 29 reports.

The harrowing story told in Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s original article for Rolling Stone suggests how deeply the University of Virginia community might have to dig to find the roots of that culture, as the student says it influences both students and school officials:

“Lots of people have discouraged her from sharing her story, Jackie tells me with a pained look, including the trusted UVA dean to whom Jackie reported her gang-rape allegations more than a year ago. On this deeply loyal campus, even some of Jackie’s closest friends see her going public as tantamount to betrayal.”
As the UPI news service notes, “UVA is one of 12 schools undergoing ‘compliance reviews’ by the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights because of ‘serious concerns’ about several issues, including accusations of sex assaults.”


Be Open To Everything And Attached To Nothing


(The following excerpt from Be Open To Everything And Attached To Nothing by Robbie Vorhaus, author, recently appeared on psychologytoday.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)

As a renowned crisis expert and communications strategist, Robbie Vorhaus teaches others to lead positive by following their hearts and writing their own stories. In his recently published book, One Less. One More. – Follow Your Heart. Be Happy. Change Slowly, he explains what happens when you choose to follow your heart, do what you love, and pursue your deepest dreams and desires.

What does it mean to be open to everything and attached to nothing?

This is the One Less, One More philosophy. Number one, you make the decision that you are going to follow a path of authenticity. You are going to be brave enough to discover or to challenge yourself enough to go beyond the known and the obvious. It’s permission to go on an exploration.

The second thing is that you start today. You can’t say, “I’m going to do this tomorrow,” or, “All right, let’s pick this up in a week.” You can’t. It is a moment-to-moment, day-to-day process of discovery.

You have to be willing to look at your life or your company or your leadership or whatever it is that you are addressing at the moment.

My friends in show business have all said, “All you’re doing is you’re challenging people to edit out what’s not working (one less) and to add in what’s true or in more compelling to the story (one more). So, the one less comes from being attached to nothing. You have to be willing to look and say, “This is superfluous. This isn’t working. This doesn’t feel good.”

The second part is being open to everything. What’s the one more? What is it in this moment that I can add in, that I can consider, that I can dream about? What is it that makes me curious? What is it that makes my boat float? It could be in a sexual relationship. It could be in a partnership. It could be with childrearing.

And, then the next part of this is that you have to stop and allow yourself the luxury to experience, to see what just happened when you eliminated something and added something in.

You need to celebrate that you’re on the path, and then you need to let it go.

And you have to be willing to change. Follow your heart, be happy because you’re pursuing the path wherever it leads you and allow yourself to change slowly enough so that you actually can, experience the change.

What great leader dead or alive would you like to have dinner with?

What I love when I travel is having breakfasts or dinners or meeting with people who are enthusiastic. These are the people who I cannot get enough of. These are the clergymen, the garbage men, the mothers. The teachers, the principals, the superintendents. The people who manage other people’s money. The gardeners. These are the people who are just living their life and saying, “I am so happy and grateful to be here. I am so enthusiastic.”

But if you’re asking me what great leader dead or alive would I really like to have dinner with I’d have to say Rosa Parks.

I would love to be able to just hug Rosa Parks and to thank her for her courage.

We’re here in the 21st century but can you imagine what it must have been like to be in 1955 and to be a woman and to refuse to give up your seat, because you knew in your heart of hearts that you were as much of a human being, that you were as important a part of humanity as any other soul? I would love to be able to have dinner with Rosa Parks.

Think of Rosa Parks saying, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m not giving up my seat, because that’s not who I am to my core,” and what happened from that and where it has led us.

It started not because she wanted to change the world but because she didn’t want someone telling a story that wasn’t hers.