The Voyager golden record

Happy Wednesday! Today I wanted to take a look at one of my favorite human cultural artifacts – the Voyager golden record.

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Golden phonograph recordings were included on both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. They include a diverse array of information about our species – including instructions on how to make a record player, in case the records are ever intercepted by intelligent life. (Neither probe is headed for any particular star system, but Voyager 1 will pass somewhat near Gliese 445 in about 40,000 years.)

The records include greetings in many human languages, images from the Earth and around the solar system, a variety of Earth music (also available as a Spotify playlist), as well as a variety of Earth and other nature sounds.

Far distant from the rest of human output, the Voyager probes and their golden records serve as a glimpse at our species which will possibly outlive us. I think that’s pretty neat!

What are your thoughts on space travel? Would you want to be an astronaut? Let us know in the comments!

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Capitalism is fake and you are cool

Hello hello and happy Monday! This week I wanted to pass along a video from Hank Green discussing a lot of the things I’ve been writing and thinking about lately. TLDR: capitalism is fake and you are cool.

I also want to toss out there that I know advice all seems stupid sometimes, and that if all you needed was advice, then the whole world would probably be fine.

But I’ve also come to realize that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. It’s not like I or anyone else has everything figured out just because we have an internet connection. I cry and scream and feel all alone sometimes and sometimes the darkness blots out all the light.

And that’s why I have to do this. I have to repeat the things that help me, even if they’re not infallible, because better sometimes is better than better never. Focusing on my life outside of work makes work more bearable like 50 percent of the time. That’s good enough for me to make a habit of it.

Growth isn’t binary and you might never reach ‘nirvana’ or perfect inner calm or whatever you’re seeking. But feeling better some of the time is a good enough reason for me to keep trying.

Peace bewitch you ❤

Against epiphanies

Happy Monday!

I want to make the weird argument this week that we should pay less attention to our epiphanies. Or at least put less stock in them.

Epiphanies are those “aha” moments when you suddenly grasp something you didn’t before, maybe without even realizing you didn’t know it in the first place. They come as sudden waves of knowledge, normally the kind that can change your life.

Except…is that realistic?

I remember learning once in Russian class that it takes your brain 75 exposures to a word for it to become part of your useful vocabulary, i.e., that you can use it and understand it when other people use it. It makes sense; if you could just hand someone a list of words and they learned them instantly, we wouldn’t need foreign-language degree programs.

Our brains don’t fully capture and absorb all the information they’re receiving from the outside world, and there’s no reason to expect the same from our inner world. (You can peep this cool talk for more on how our consciousness is both outside-in and inside-out.)

So then what of epiphanies? These jolts of mind-bending information that can bowl over our belief systems?

Well, what about five minutes later when you’re thinking literally the opposite thing?

Bad, you tell yourself, god, it’s like I had that epiphany for nothing. I sure am stupid and useless!

What! No! You just stop that right there! – and believe, I’m mostly talking to myself.

Your mind played a weird trick on you and now you’re pissed off at yourself for being a normal person. You’re not wasting an epiphany, you are having a human brain.

I don’t mean that we can’t receive important messages from wherever you believe important messages come from via epiphany, but it’s unfair to expect the reception of the message to be the same thing as living it.

Because you might receive the crystal-clear message that you could be happy if you just stopped blaming yourself for the past, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to shake your head and forgive yourself for the past. It means that you’ve got work to do.

We think of epiphanies as our brains instantly downloading and applying an important software upgrade, but I think they’re more like a post-it note with a suggestion to go software shopping.

Epiphanies say YOU CAN DO THIS NOW, while you’re brain is saying something else entirely, and the feeling of doing nothing and feeling upset about it is the average of those two things. So what if it didn’t have to be that way?

Don’t try to live your whole life based on a passing thought. Because, just like all our thoughts, epiphanies are fleeting. (And probably everyone over the age of 16 knows epiphanies aren’t always even good ideas!)

Instead, if it really does seem like a good idea five minutes later when you’re calm, accept the epiphany as a goal. See it as a place you’re going, not as a place you should be now. Think of the epiphany as your brain advertising a sunnier side of itself to the part of your brain that holds the passport and credit cards. You’ve seen the brochure, now you can think about booking a trip.

And always remember your “travel agents” – your journal, your friends, your pets, your walls, your therapist or online/mobile therapy service (*not a sponsor/not an endorsement*) – anything or anyone that can help you get where you want to be.

TLDR: sometimes you have to overwrite memory to incorporate new programming. Let epiphanies be a process, not an event.

What’s your experience with epiphanies? Let us know in the comments!


Monday bonus link: The evolutionary history of your incredibly awkward feelings

Science finally finds your “higher consciousness”

A happy and mindful Monday to you! This week:

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In a definite “told-ya-so!” for some of us, University of Sussex researchers are now confirming that tripping really is a kind of “higher consciousness.”😂 😂  Specifically they found that people on psychedelic drug trips had a greater diversity of brain signals than people in other states of consciousness. (So that’s why you never found your lucky rabbit’s foot…)

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This week brings us more news from the ongoing study of mindfulness and its effects on students, with a new study in American College Health showing that an 8-week mindfulness makes college freshman less likely to experience depression, anxiety and alcohol-related incidents like hangovers and blackouts. Sounds good to us!

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This week also offers the somewhat controversial news that mindfulness may be more effective for men than women, according to a new Brown University study. We at I Won’t Commit don’t like gender dualism, but we’re pretty into evidence-based science, and findings like this could help design better mental health and wellness treatments and programs in the future.

What do you think about this study? Let us know in the comments!

Mindful Monday for April 17, 2017

Happy Happy Monday! This week:

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The Star Tribune offers a profile of “yoga enthusiast and fat femme” Jessamyn Stanley and her new book Every Body Yoga.

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The trend of animal yoga carries on with a heartening twist in Ohio as an animal shelter offers yoga classes with adoptable animals.

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And in the continuing adventures of “where WON’T people do yoga?” this week brings you yoga on paddle boards!

What are you looking forward to this week? Let us know in the comments below!

Mindful Monday for March 27, 2017

Happy Mindful Monday! This week:

Spreading MS awareness through yoga: Fox 2 Detroit speaks with yoga therapist, author and entrepreneur Mindy Eisenberg, director of Yoga Moves MS, who highlights her organizations efforts to help those with MS and similar conditions through yoga practice.

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Dr. Stanley Rodski highlights “colourtation,” a practice named following findings that five minutes a day coloring can have benefits similar to an hour of meditation.

In the ever-developing world of animal yoga, CNN this week highlights cat yoga:

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[Not actual cat yoga. lol]

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Cari Vander Yacht

And finally this week, the New Yorker offers a little satire with Puritan Yoga.

Say hi in the comments, and let us know how you’re being mindful this week!

The Friday Feelgood for March 17, 2017

Welcome to the Friday Feelgood. It’s Friday and we feel good! This week:

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Artist Theaster Gates by photographed by Gabriella Demczuk for the New York Times.

The New York Times profiles artist Theaster Gates, his new show, “The Minor Arts” at the National Gallery, and the Chicago organization he founded to help transform vacant buildings into aesthetic, affordable living and cultural spaces.

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Julián Faivovicha and Carlos Taboada

Researchers have discovered fluorescent frogs. That’s cool AND alliterative.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

Students at the new Dell Medical School at University of Texas at Austin are receiving training in nontraditional areas like mindfulness and observational skills. Above, students meet in the Blanton Museum of Art as part of a course on empathetic communication.

Essence reports this week that art historian Nana Oforiatta-Ayim is working on an encyclopedia of African art! The project has received funding from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and should yield a digital and maybe eventually physical compendium on African art both historic and modern.

And last but not least, PWR BTTM brings us their newest, Answer My Text…a feeling we’ve all had 😂 😂

What’s making you feel good this week? Let us know in the comments!