Archivo de la categoría: Lenguas para la salud

Der sprechende Körper

Körpersprache

Die Macht der wortlosen Sprache

Der Körper ist niemals stumm. Wenn Menschen zusammenkommen, reden sie miteinander – sogar wenn sie nicht sprechen. Die vorgereckte Brust ist ebenso eine Botschaft wie die kleine Veränderung der Sitzhaltung, die geöffnete Handfläche, aber auch die Farbe der Krawatte oder das dezente Parfüm.

Mimik, Gestik, Haltung und Bewegung, die räumliche Beziehung, Berührungen und die Kleidung sind wichtige Mittel der nonverbalen Kommunikation – eine uralte Form der zwischenmenschlichen Verständigung. Auf diese Weise klären wir untereinander, ob wir uns sympathisch sind und ob wir uns vertrauen können.

Der Körper verrät unsere wirklichen Gefühle, wer wir sind und was wir eigentlich wollen. Die nonverbalen Botschaften sind oft unbewusst und gerade deshalb so machtvoll. Ohne Körpersprache sind die täglichen sozialen Beziehungen gar nicht denkbar.

Wissenschaftler haben herausgefunden, dass 95 Prozent des ersten Eindrucks von einem Menschen bestimmt werden von Aussehen, Kleidung, Haltung, Gestik und Mimik, Sprechgeschwindigkeit, Stimmlage, Betonung und Dialekt – und nur fünf Prozent davon, was jemand mit Worten sagt.

Und die Einschätzung der Person geschieht in weniger als einer Sekunde. Weil wir das körperliche Verhalten schwerer kontrollieren und beherrschen können als die verbalen Aussagen, gilt die Körpersprache als wahrer und echter.

Weltsprache oder Geheimcode?

Aber lauern da nicht viele Missverständnisse? Stimmt unser Eindruck? Sind unsere Botschaften eindeutig und werden wir verstanden? Die Wissenschaft geht davon aus, dass bestimmte Basis-Gefühle wie Angst, Furcht, Glück, Trauer, Überraschung und Abscheu bei allen Menschen bestimmte nonverbale Ausdrucksformen hervorrufen.

So gilt beispielsweise das Stirnrunzeln in so gut wie allen menschlichen Kulturen als Zeichen von Ärger. Das Lächeln wird weltweit als positives Signal und Sympathiezeichen eingesetzt. Auch die Deutung solcher Signale ist universell, sie werden überall verstanden.

Es gibt aber auch viele Körpersignale, die sich kulturell entwickelt haben und so missverständlich sind wie die verschiedenen Wortsprachen. So kann eine für uns gewöhnliche Haltung in anderen Teilen der Welt Empörung hervorrufen. Zum Beispiel ist das Übereinanderschlagen der Beine für viele Araber und Asiaten eine Beleidigung, weil so die Sohlen von Füßen und Schuhen sichtbar werden – und die gelten in manchen Kulturkreisen als unrein.

Gruppen von Menschen, Gesellschaften und Kulturen entwickeln ein eigenes System von nonverbalen Botschaften, einen eigenen Code. Nur wenn man diesen Code kennt, kann man ihn richtig verstehen und benutzen.

Es gibt also Körpersignale, die wir alle verstehen und anwenden und solche, die kultur- oder regionalspezifisch sind. Hilfreich ist es in jedem Fall, die Möglichkeiten der Körpersprache gut zu kennen, sie lesen und einsetzen zu lernen.

Schau mir in die Augen, Kleines – die Mimik

Der Blick der Augen hinterlässt einen intensiven Eindruck, nicht nur beim Flirten. Wenn wir angeblickt werden, fühlen wir uns beachtet. Blickzuwendung kann Aufmerksamkeit, Zuneigung oder Freundlichkeit bedeuten. Den Blickkontakt zu meiden signalisiert dagegen oft Desinteresse, Gleichgültigkeit oder auch Scham. Und ein zu langes Anstarren wird meist als aufdringlich und aggressiv empfunden.

Die Augenbewegung ist ein wichtiger Bestandteil der sogenannten Mimik, dem Begriff für die Ausdrucksbewegungen des Gesichts. An der Mimik können wir die seelischen Vorgänge in einem Menschen am besten ablesen. Pokerspieler versuchen deshalb, durch starren Gesichtsausdruck zu verhindern, dass ihr Gesicht verrät, wie gut oder schlecht ihre Karten sind.

Wissenschaftler dagegen versuchen, auch den besten Lügnern im Gesicht zu lesen. Kalifornische Forscher haben die kleinen, unbewussten Muskelbewegungen bei Mimikveränderungen intensiv untersucht. Damit wollen sie eine eindeutige Beziehung zwischen der Bewegung der Gesichtsmuskeln und den zugrunde liegenden Gefühlen der Menschen herausfinden.

Reich mir die Hand – die Gestik

Eine Faust mit nach oben gestrecktem Daumen wird in vielen Teilen der Welt als Zeichen der Zustimmung verstanden. Aber in manchen Gegenden ist es eine Geste der Obszönität: in Sardinien zum Beispiel, in Teilen von Westafrika, Kolumbien und Nahost.

So ist es mit vielen der bewusst geformten Handzeichen. Sie sind ein Bestandteil der Kommunikation einer bestimmten Kultur und können auch nur dort richtig verstanden werden.

Diese bewussten Gesten machen jedoch nur einen Teil der Gestik aus, die die Gesamtheit unserer Handbewegungen bezeichnet.

Häufiger und vielfältiger bewegen sich die Hände, während wir sprechen. Diese Gesten sind meist unbewusst. Sie verstärken und begleiten die verbale Rede. Auch Menschen, die glauben, ihre Hände ruhig zu halten, unterstreichen ihre Worte durch Handbewegungen.

Sogar am Telefon gestikulieren wir. Forscher haben herausgefunden, dass im Gehirn die Zentren für Sprache und Handbewegungen im selben Bereich angesiedelt sind und vermuten daher die fast zwangsläufige Verbindung von Wort und Hand.

Mit beiden Beinen fest auf dem Boden – Haltung und Bewegung

Wer sicher steht, hat einen ausgeprägten Realitätssinn, sagt der Volksmund. Und eine gerade Haltung zeige einen aufrechten Charakter. Die Körperhaltung soll demnach Aufschluss über die Wesenszüge des Menschen geben.

So weit geht die wissenschaftliche Theorie nicht, aber einen Zusammenhang zwischen der seelischen und der körperlichen Lage stellt auch sie fest. Wenn wir trauern, sind wir zusammengesunken, die Schultern hängen herab und wir wirken kraftlos und verschlossen.

Eine offene Haltung im Brust- und Halsbereich dagegen signalisiert Furchtlosigkeit und Selbstbewusstsein. Ähnliches gilt für Bewegungen. Wer sich im Gespräch vorbeugt, zeigt Aufmerksamkeit. Wer verkrampft an der Kleidung fummelt und nur auf der Stuhlkante sitzt, gilt als unsicher.

Auch der Gang des Menschen spiegelt die emotionale Befindlichkeit. Versuche haben ergeben, dass wir erkennen, ob die Person, die vor uns läuft, männlich oder weiblich ist, und auch, ob sie fröhlich oder traurig daherkommt.

Körperhaltungen können auch antrainiert sein und gezielt eingesetzt werden, um eine bestimmte Wirkung zu erzielen. So reckt ein Mann seine Brust, um stark und selbstbewusst zu erscheinen. Eine Frau schlägt die Beine übereinander, weil sie anmutig wirken will und ein Jugendlicher hängt lässig auf dem Stuhl, um seinen Protest auszudrücken.

«Störe meine Kreise nicht!» – Nähe und Berührung

«Störe meine Kreise nicht!» So soll Archimedes den anrückenden Römern zugerufen haben und daraufhin erschlagen worden sein. Die Anwesenheit und Nähe eines anderen Menschen bis hin zum Körperkontakt besitzen eine direkte und starke Wirkung. Eine Ohrfeige oder ein Kuss sind körperliche Botschaften, die jeder versteht.

Für die richtige Distanz zu anderen Menschen haben wir ein feines Gespür und instinktiv nehmen wir in einem Raum den Platz ein, der für uns angenehm ist. Wenn wir zu Nähe gezwungen werden, wie zum Beispiel im Fahrstuhl, versuchen wir, die anderen zu ignorieren, und vermeiden jeden Blickkontakt.

Das Distanzempfinden ist kulturell geprägt. In Japan etwa gilt ein größerer Abstand als angenehm als in Europa. Ein Japaner könnte daher einen Europäer im Gespräch als aufdringlich empfinden, wenn dieser immer etwas näher kommen möchte, als es dem Japaner lieb ist. Der Europäer hält dagegen möglicherweise den Japaner für distanziert, wenn dieser immer etwas zurückweicht.

Auch bei Berührungen sind kulturelle Unterschiede festzustellen. In den westlichen Ländern haben sich Berührungen zwischen Freunden und Bekannten, Umarmungen und Küssen auf Wange oder Mund weitgehend durchgesetzt. Dennoch ist Europa eine Region, in der der Körperkontakt im Vergleich zu anderen Kulturen eher selten ist.

Kleider machen Leute – Kleidung und Schmuck

Im Karneval sieht man ganze Gruppen von verkleideten Marsmenschen, Clowns, Hexen – oder auch Cola-Dosen. Durch das gleiche Kostüm zeigen die Menschen ihre Zugehörigkeit zu einem Verein.

Im Alltag ist dies nicht anders. Jede Gemeinschaft oder Gesellschaft hat einen Kleidungs-Code. Vor einem Vorstellungsgespräch überlegen wir sorgfältig, was wir anziehen. Wir wissen, wie wir Trauer durch unsere Kleidung zeigen oder wie wir durch ausgefallene Accessoires im Freundeskreis beeindrucken können.

Auch wer sich den gängigen Kleidernormen nicht anpassen will, sendet eine deutliche Botschaft. Täglich entscheiden wir bewusst oder unbewusst darüber, wie wir durch unsere äußere Erscheinung wirken wollen: indem wir uns schminken, Rock oder Hose anziehen, durch die Wahl der Krawatten-Farbe und den Schmuck, den wir anlegen.

Die Kleidungs-Codes unterscheiden sich stark in den verschiedenen Kulturen – besonders die Ansichten darüber, wie viel nackte Haut in der Öffentlichkeit präsentiert werden darf. Auch werden unterschiedliche Teile des Körpers tabuisiert. In vielen europäischen Ländern zeigen sich Frauen mit unverhüllten Haaren in der Öffentlichkeit, was in islamisch geprägten Ländern undenkbar ist.

Dagegen ist es bei einigen afrikanischen und südamerikanischen Völkern bis heute üblich, dass weder Frauen noch Männer im Alltagsleben ihren Oberkörper bedecken – zum Beispiel bei den Himba in Namibia, den Nyangatom und den Hamar in Äthiopien und den Huaorani in Ecuador –, was wiederum in westlichen Ländern einen Skandal verursachen würde.

Kleidung und Schmuck sind also Ausdrucksformen der Körpersprache, die wie kein anderes Mittel den kulturellen Gepflogenheiten folgen.

Die Profis der Körpersprache

Manche Menschen haben die Körpersprache zu ihrem Beruf gemacht. Die Pantomime ist eine sehr alte darstellende Kunst, bei der die Handlung und der Charakter nur durch Mimik, Gestik und Bewegung ausgedrückt werden. Bereits um 400 vor Christus ist die Pantomime als Kunstform in Griechenland nachgewiesen.

Auch der Clown-Künstler verzichtet meist auf Worte. Da er die Menschen zum Lachen bringen will, setzt er Körpersprache meist übertrieben ein, etwa indem er Grimassen schneidet oder stolpert. Charlie Chaplin war einer der berühmtesten wortlosen Darsteller des vergangenen Jahrhunderts.

Eine weitere besondere Form der Körpersprache ist der Tanz. Bewegung ist ihre Form des Ausdrucks. Die Geheimnisse der nonverbalen Kommunikation beherrschen diese Profis perfekt.

Quelle: https://www.planet-wissen.de/gesellschaft/kommunikation/koerpersprache/index.html

Wie unser Körper spricht und warum wir nichts davon wissen

Wenn wir uns unterhalten, wählen wir unsere Worte genau. Wir versuchen, alles, was wir sagen, passend zu formulieren: nett, aggressiv oder ärgerlich. Doch etwas an uns spricht viel lauter – ohne dass es unser Gegenüber versteht: unser Körper.

Marietta und Ole sitzen sich in der Mittagspause gegenüber. Sie reden über den Unterricht und was sie von der Lehrerin halten. Marietta stützt ihren rechten Ellbogen auf den Tisch vor sich. Sie lächelt. Ole nickt. Er freut sich schon auf die nächste Stunde. Oberflächlich sprechen die beiden nur über die Schule. Wer aber genauer hinsieht, erkennt eine zweite Sprache: die Sprache des Körpers. Auch Ole hat seinen Ellbogen auf den Tisch aufgestellt, aber seinen linken. Er lächelt ebenfalls und sein Oberkörper ist Marietta zugewandt. Die beiden sitzen nebeneinander auf der grauen Holzbank. Es sieht fast so aus, als würde Marietta in einen imaginären Spiegel blicken. Denn Ole spiegelt Mariettas Körperhaltung in vielen Punkten. Was das mit dem Gespräch zu tun hat? Mit dem Inhalt wenig, aber auf einer anderen, der nonverbalen Ebene, sprechen die beiden auch miteinander. Sie sagen: «Hey, ich find’ dich nett. Du bist mir sympathisch.»

Unbewusste Botschaften

Körpersprache ist nicht nur etwas, das wir sehen können. Der Mensch hat fünf Sinne: Hören, Sehen, Schmecken, Riechen und Fühlen. Mit diesen Sinnen nimmt er die Körpersprache seines Gegenübers wahr. Alles, was nonverbal ist, also ohne Worte läuft, zählt zur Körpersprache. Die Kommunikation zwischen zwei Menschen läuft in drei Ebenen ab. Die anscheinend offensichtlichste ist die verbale Ebene. Das, was inhaltlich gesprochen wird. Die tonale Ebene meint das Wie: Wie sage ich etwas. Auf der nonverbalen Ebene spricht dann unser Körper in Mimik, Gestik, Körperhaltung, Kleidung und vielem mehr. «Diese drei Ebenen müssen als Einheit funktionieren», erklärt Meike Fabian. Sie ist die stellvertretende Leiterin der Akademie für Darstellende Kunst in Regensburg und schult ihre Schüler unter anderem auch in der Wahrnehmung der Körpersprache. «Körpersprache geht schon los bei Dingen, die ich selbst beeinflussen kann, also meinen Schmuck, meine Kleidung, mein Make-Up», zählt Meike Fabian auf. «Meine Haltung, meine Mimik und Gestik kann ich auch noch etwas beeinflussen. Das ist aber schon schwerer.» Dinge, die von innen kommen, wie Atmung oder Körpergeruch sind demnach ebenfalls Teil der Körpersprache.

Erster Eindruck entscheidet

Aber auch Eigenschaften, die nicht in meiner Hand liegen, zählen zur Körpersprache. Zum Beispiel: Bin ich ein Mann oder eine Frau. Bin ich dick oder dünn. Durch diese Dinge schließe der Gegenüber sofort auf die Lebenserfahrung eines Menschen. «Jeder erzählt seine Geschichte, schon lange bevor er den Mund aufgemacht hat», bringt es Meike Fabian auf den Punkt.

Das bestätigt auch Andrea Nitzsche. Sie ist Diplom-Sozialpädagogin und Trainerin für Körpersprache. Der erste Eindruck entsteht innerhalb von Sekunden, in denen wir jemanden wahrnehmen. «Das ist unser Instinkt, der immer noch vorhanden ist. Es war früher besonders wichtig, sofort zu wissen, ob der Mensch gegenüber eine Bedrohung ist oder nicht.

Vorurteil auf. Natürlich könne uns unser Körper verraten, wenn wir gerade schwindeln, aber es reiche eben nicht nur ein Zeichen wie die Hand am Mund aus. Ein weiteres Zeichen dafür könne laut Andrea Nitzsche zum Beispiel ein eingefrorenes Lächeln sein. «Hier lächelt nur der Mund. Das hat ein bisschen was von Zähne zeigen. Bei einem echten Lächeln sieht man das auch an den Augen. Sie strahlen dann richtig», erklärt die Expertin. Nervöse Stressflecken oder auch ein hektisches Stolpern beim Sprechen können ebenfalls darauf hindeuten – müssen es aber nicht.

Den Körper programmieren

Wer nervös ist, neige übrigens auch zu Schattenbewegungen. Es kann sein, dass sich jemand gern die Haare aus dem Gesicht streicht, obwohl sie gar nicht stören. Diese Bewegung gibt demjenigen Sicherheit in einer Situation, in der er sich gerade überfordert fühlt. Das kann bei Referaten in der Schule oder auch beim ersten Date sein. Andrea Nitzsche hat für solche Situationen einen besonderen Tipp: «Mehr ausatmen als einatmen kann helfen, etwas ruhiger zu werden.» Ansonsten helfe es, seinen Körper positiv zu programmieren. «Das geht. Ich muss von dem überzeugt sein, was ich gerade mache. Dann wirkt auch mein Körper souveräner», erklärt Andrea Nitzsche. Will ich also dieses Referat für eine gute Note halten und will ich das für mich selbst, strahlt auch mein Körper mehr Souveränität aus, als wenn ich mir sage: «Hilft ja nicht, da muss ich durch.»

Für besonders Nervöse hat Andrea Nitzsche noch einen Geheimtipp: «Wer seine Lieblingsklamotten anzieht, fühlt sich schon viel wohler. Auch das wirkt auf mein Gegenüber. Außerdem hilft es, sich am Morgen schon seine Lieblingssongs vorzusingen und sich zu sagen: Jetzt geht’s mir gut. Was ich heute mache, ist etwas, wofür es sich lohnt.»

Wer etwas aufmerksam ist und auch darauf schaut, was seine Mitmenschen sagen, obwohl sie eigentlich nichts sagen, versteht seinen Gegenüber oft besser. Das kann auch bei Streitereien helfen. Aber keine Angst: Völlig durchschaubar werden wir deshalb nicht für andere: Körpersprache wirkt genauso wie Wortsprache und Stimmlage nur als Gesamtpaket. Gedankenlesen können auch Körpersprache-Experten nicht.

So wirkt deine Körpersprache auf andere

Selbstbewusst

Wie viel Platz wir brauchen, also wie viel Anspruch wir auf unser Territorium haben, zeigt wie selbstsicher wir sind.

Hier nimmt Marietta viel Platz ein durch die weit auseinanderstehenden Beine, ihren offenen Oberkörper und ihre Hände, die sie in die Hüfte gestemmt hat.

Schüchtern

Hier ist das Gegenteil zu sehen. Marietta braucht so wenig Platz wie sie nur kann. Sie verschränkt ihre Arme vorm Körper genauso wie ihre Beine. Außerdem hat sie ihren Kopf leicht eingezogen.

Misstrauisch

Verschränkte Arme, vom anderen abgewandter Oberkörper, hochgezogene Augenbrauen

Sympathisch

Zugewandter Körper, offene Haltung, Lächeln, lockere Armhaltung

Quelle: https://www.idowa.de/inhalt.koerpersprache-wie-unser-koerper-spricht-und-warum-wir-nichts-davon-wissen.13ded480-f382-451b-8a4b-95986b6dfcc5.html

Gestik: Wenn Körper sprechen

Die Emotion steckt im Detail und benötigt einen geübten Blick, um decodiert zu werden: Gefühle drücken sich oft in Mimik und Gestik aus. Forschern gibt diese wortlose Sprache Rätsel auf.

Das Lächeln, das die Mundwinkel umspielt, der leicht zurückgeneigte Kopf, die sich unmerklich aufrichtende Haltung des Oberkörpers – es handelt sich um die typischen Ausdrücke von Stolz. Auch Scham entfaltet sich innerhalb von nur vier bis fünf Sekunden, in denen eine Reihe von kleinsten Gesten aufeinanderfolgt: der Blick wird abgelenkt, ein Lachen geht in ein Lächeln und wieder in kontrolliertes Lachen über, der Kopf neigt sich nach unten, die Hände fassen unwillkürlich ins Gesicht.

Für Gestikforscher sind solche Körperreaktionen leicht entschlüsselbar. Die Fragen, die sich an das menschliche Gestikrepertoire anschließen, sind indes mannigfaltig und beschäftigen Neurowissenschaftler, Anthropologen und Linguisten gleichermaßen. Wie entsteht gestische Bedeutung? Wie setzen sich verschiedene Gesten zusammen, um eine Emotion abzubilden? Welche Bedeutung haben Gesten für Alltagskonversationen? Welche Gesten sind erlernt, welche gehören zum Grundrepertoire menschlicher Affekte? Sind sie universell oder unterscheiden sich bestimmte Gesten innerhalb der Kulturen?

Es braucht nicht nur Interdisziplinarität, sondern auch ein ganzes Arsenal an Geisteskraft, diesen Fragen nachzugehen, und so kamen jetzt über 300 Wissenschaftler der „Internationalen Gesellschaft für Gestikforschung“ (ISGS) zu einer einwöchigen Konferenz an der Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder zusammen. Unterteilt in mehrere Themenkomplexe (Zeichensprache, Kunst und Film, Neurobiologie oder Kognitionswissenschaft) widmeten sich insgesamt knapp 200 Vorträge den neuesten Ergebnissen der Gestikforschung. „Nach dieser Konferenz wird es schwierig für die Linguisten zu behaupten, dass Sprache nur aus Wörtern besteht. Vielmehr sind komplexe Körpergesten am Prozess der Bedeutungsproduktion mit beteiligt“, resümiert Cornelia Müller, Professorin für Angewandte Sprachwissenschaft an der Viadrina und Herausgeberin der Zeitschrift „Gesture“.

Seitdem zum ersten Mal in den frühen 80er Jahren eine Gruppe von Berliner Wissenschaftlern Gesten auch von einem linguistischen Standpunkt aus untersucht, und im Jahr 2000 die Freie Universität Berlin unter der Leitung von Müller das „Berlin Gesture Project“ ins Leben gerufen hatte, hat die Gestikforschung als interdisziplinäres Paradigma par excellence sämtliche Fachbereiche affiziert. Laut Müller hat sich Deutschland international als besonders prominenter Standort für Gestikforschung etabliert. Entsprechend hoch war die Fördersumme der Volkswagen-Stiftung, die das mehrjährig angelegte Projekt „Towards a Grammar of Gesture: Evolution, Brain and Linguistic Structures“ (ToGoG) an der Viadrina mit fast einer Million Euro fördert.

Den Erfolg all dieser Unternehmen sieht Müller nicht zuletzt darin begründet, dass Gesten einerseits ein universales Phänomen sind, also für alle Menschen gleichermaßen Relevanz besitzen. Andererseits seien Gesten auch abhängig von kulturellen Neuentwicklungen, die es zu untersuchen gelte. „Jüngere Kulturtechniken wie das Telefonieren mit dem Handy gehen innerhalb relativ kurzer Zeit in unser Gestenrepertoire über und schaffen neue Codes“, erklärt Müller. Sie hält ihre Faust ans Ohr, Daumen und kleinen Finger abgespreizt, ein Mobiltelefon imitierend – eine Geste, die vor einem Jahrhundert noch unverständlich gewesen wäre.

Zu den Aufgaben der Gestikforschung zählt heute, nicht mehr nur einzelne Gesten auf ihre Bedeutung zu befragen, sondern auch die Wechselwirkung zwischen Sprechakt, Gestik und individueller Körperdisposition zu analysieren. So untersuchten Mary Copple, Mone Welsche und Cornelia Müller vom Exzellenzcluster „Languages of Emotion“ der Freien Universität Berlin das Phänomen der Alexithymie, die sogenannte Gefühlsblindheit: Menschen mit Alexithymie haben Schwierigkeiten, Gefühle adäquat zu beschreiben. „Etwa zehn Prozent der deutschen Bevölkerung ist alexithymisch“, so Copple. „Mithilfe der Gestikforschung wollten wir herausfinden, ob diese Menschen bestimmte Gefühle tatsächlich nicht empfinden, oder ob es sich um ein kognitives Problem handelt, sie zu artikulieren.“ 50 Stunden Videomaterial mit Interviews von 100 Versuchsteilnehmern – die Hälfte davon alexithymisch – sollte Aufschluss über das Auftreten sogenannter Posture-Gesture-Mergers (PGMs) geben, die spontan und intuitiv erfolgende Verschmelzung von Körperbewegung und Gestik beim Sprechen. „PGMs sind nicht intentional erlernbar sondern unmittelbare Ausdrücke einer Persönlichkeit, die sich in einem Gesprächsmoment besonders engagiert“, sagte Copple. So beugten sich beispielsweise manche Menschen plötzlich nach vorne, wenn sie etwas ausriefen, oder fielen in sich zusammen, wenn sie verunsichert würden.

Die Analyse des Videomaterials ergab, dass Menschen mit Alexithymie deutlich weniger PGMs produzierten – auffälligerweise jedoch nur dann, wenn sie zu ihren Gefühlen oder emotional besetzen Themen befragt wurden. Sollten sie Fragen aus einem Intelligenztest beantworten, zeigten sie eine normal hohe Anzahl von PGMs. „Das weist darauf hin, dass alexithymische Menschen bei geistiger Arbeit entspannter sind und entsprechend mit einer größeren Selbstverständlichkeit intuitiv gestikulieren“, schlussfolgerte Copple. Bei Alexithymie handele es sich also wahrscheinlich eher um eine kognitive Unzulänglichkeit, Emotionen und deren Ausdruck intuitiv synchronisieren zu können. Daran knüpften sich auch Fragestellungen für zukünftige Forschung: „Wir wollen untersuchen, ob PGMs bei Männern und Frauen unterschiedlich auftreten.“

Die Art und Anzahl der Gesten hängt indes nicht nur vom einzelnen Sprecher ab. Vielmehr müsse auch der kulturelle und sprachliche Raum betrachtet werden, in dem sich jemand bewege, so Tasha Lewis vom Marianopolis College im kanadischen Montreal. Sie stellte die Ergebnisse ihrer Studie vor, in der sie sechs englische Muttersprachler in einem Sprachkurs in Barcelona beobachtet hatte um herauszufinden, ob sich ihre Gestik verändern würde. Der Erwerb des Spanischen bedeutete auch einen Wechsel der Sprachfamilie, denn Englisch ist eine germanische, Spanisch eine romanische Sprache, in der meist bei Aussprechen des Verbs gestikuliert wird. „Ältere Studien haben behauptet, man behalte sein muttersprachliches Gestikmuster bei Erwerb einer Fremdsprache bei“, so Lewis. Die Auswertung ihres Videomaterials hätte jedoch ergeben, dass die Teilnehmer im Verlaufe ihres Sprachkurses zunehmend der spanischen Satzstruktur gemäß ihre Gesten platziert hätten. „Dieses Ergebnis stützt die hohe Bedeutung des Lernens im fremden Land“, bilanzierte Lewis. „Die subtilen Aspekte der Kommunikation, wie Gestik, fördern den umfassenden Erwerb einer Fremdsprache.“

Die nächste Konferenz der ISGS findet 2011 in Lund (Schweden) statt. „Bis dahin wird eine weitere beachtliche Zahl an Publikationen zur Gestikforschung erschienen sein“, so Müller. Vielleicht, hofft sie, schlage sie auch Wellen außerhalb des universitären Rahmens. Nicht zuletzt für Schauspieler dürfte ein detailliertes Wissen über Geschichte und Funktionsweisen von Gesten außerordentlich interessant sein.

Quelle: https://www.tagesspiegel.de/wissen/wenn-korper-sprechen-7062616.html

Was Gesten verraten

Die Körpersprache ist reich an versteckten Botschaften: Mit Armen und Beinen, Händen und Füßen geben Menschen so manches über sich preis. Ausladende Gesten und Selbstberührungen sind besonders viel sagend.

Team-Meeting: Ein Kollege kratzt sich am Kopf, ein anderer wippt beständig mit den Füßen, und eine Kollegin zwirbelt versonnen eine Haarsträhne um den Finger. Ob mit Händen oder Füßen: In den meisten Fällen laufen solche Bewegungen völlig unbewusst ab. Körpersprache gilt deshalb als echter, unverfälschter und verlässlicher als die gesprochene Sprache. Stimmt das? Und was verraten Gesten wirklich über das Gegenüber?

Lange hielt man die Körpersprache für bloßes Beiwerk. Dass sie einen Grundpfeiler der Kommunikation darstellt, erkannte als einer der Ersten der Psycholinguist David McNeill von der University of Chicago Anfang der 1990er Jahre. Für ihn waren Gesten »in Form gegossene Gedanken«. Wer genau auf sie achte, könne beinahe in die Köpfe hineinsehen, erklärt er in seinem Buch »Hand and Mind«.

Einstudierte Körpersprache hinkt hinterher

Noch bevor sie zu sprechen beginnen, teilen sich Babys mit Gesten mit. Typischerweise zeigen sie schon mit einem Jahr gezielt auf Dinge in ihrer Umgebung. Ob unsere Vorfahren Gesten benutzten, bevor sie sich mit Lauten ausdrückten, oder ob sich beide Formen der Kommunikation im Lauf der Evolution parallel entwickelt haben, ist noch unklar. Gewiss ist hingegen: Auch wenn wir uns längst verbal ausdrücken können, reden wir weiter mit Händen und Füßen. Und das sogar, wenn niemand zuschaut, denn die Bewegungen helfen beim Denken.

Wir betonen damit zum Beispiel, was uns wichtig ist. Etwa mit der Taktstockgeste, die Politiker häufig nutzen, wenn sie eine flammende Rede halten: Daumen und Zeigefinger formen dabei einen Ring, und wie ein Dirigent verleiht der Sprecher dem Gesagten mit dem Auf- und Abschnellen des unsichtbaren Stabs einen Beat. Sind solche Gesten einstudiert, erkennen wir das recht schnell. Sie wirken nicht spontan und hinken dem Gesagten leicht hinterher.

Südländer reden angeblich besonders viel mit den Händen. Doch das stimmt so nicht: Deutsche und Südeuropäer fuchteln beim Reden gleich viel. Der entscheidende Unterschied: »Südeuropäer neigen zu ausladenderen Gesten«, sagt Cornelia Müller von der Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder. Die Professorin für Sprachgebrauch und Multimodale Kommunikation hat die Gestik deutscher und spanischer Sprecher miteinander verglichen: »Nordeuropäer gestikulieren aus dem Handgelenk, Südeuropäer eher aus Schulter und Ellenbogen.« Deswegen spielen sich diese Gesten weiter weg vom Körper auf Kopfhöhe ab, während Deutsche eher verhalten vor der Brust gestikulieren.

Auch das Gegenüber beeinflusst die Gestik. Unbewusst verhalten wir uns zuweilen wie soziale Chamäleons: Wir lehnen uns nach vorne, wenn die andere Person das tut, oder schlagen wie sie die Beine übereinander. Passt sich jemand in seiner Gestik und Körperhaltung auffallend an, so deutet das auf Sympathie hin.

Die Körpersprache lässt aber auf mehr als das schließen. Gesten können verraten, was im Gegenüber gerade vorgeht. Ein Hinweis darauf, dass jemand angespannt, gestresst oder verlegen ist, sind spontane, unbewusste Selbstberührungen. Der Impuls, sich kurz an den Hals, das Kinn, die Nase oder Wange zu fassen, lässt sich nur schwer unterdrücken.

Selbstberührungen wirken beruhigend

Der Psychologe Martin Grunwald vom Haptik-Forschungslabor der Universität Leipzig hat untersucht, warum dieser Impuls vor allem in Stresssituationen auftritt. Er und sein Team gaben Versuchspersonen eine Gedächtnisaufgabe. Während diese sich anstrengten, das Gelernte im Kopf zu behalten, fassten sie sich häufiger ins Gesicht, und die im EEG vor und nach der unbewussten Berührung gemessenen Hirnströme unterschieden sich stark. »Wir erklären diese Veränderungen damit, dass der kurze Berührungsreiz jene Hirnaktivität verstärkt, die für eine Stabilisierung des emotionalen Zustands und eine Stabilisierung des Arbeitsgedächtnisses verantwortlich ist«, sagt Martin Grunwald. Das heißt: Spontane Selbstberührungen helfen offenbar, sich zu beruhigen und zu konzentrieren.

Gesten liefern also Anhaltspunkte zur momentanen Verfassung des Gegenübers. Aber offenbaren sie noch mehr über seine Person? Eine 2021 veröffentlichte Metaanalyse beschäftigte sich mit dieser Frage.

Die Forschungsgruppe um den Psychologen Simon Breil von der Universität Münster analysierte dafür 32 Studien zum Zusammenhang zwischen nonverbalen Signalen und der Persönlichkeit, erhoben mit Fragebogen zu den »Big Five«, den fünf zentralen Persönlichkeitsdimensionen. Zusätzlich erfassten manche Studien noch die Intelligenz. Zu den Merkmalen der Körpersprache zählten Handbewegungen, Haltung, die Breite des Stands und die Schrittlänge. Die große Frage: Spiegelt sich in ihnen der Charakter eines Menschen wider?

Die kurze Antwort: Ja. Den stärksten Zusammenhang fanden die Forschenden für das Merkmal Extraversion. Wer als extravertiert gilt, ist herzlich, gesellig, durchsetzungsfähig, aktiv, abenteuerlustig und fröhlich. Diese Kontaktfreudigkeit sieht man entsprechenden Zeitgenossen offenbar relativ leicht an. Neben einer ausdrucksstarken Mimik, einer lauten Stimme, einem gepflegten und modischen Äußeren wiesen auch eine entspannte, dem Gegenüber zugewandte Haltung und ausholende Gesten auf Extraversion hin.

»Nicht jeder, der gerade wild gestikuliert, ist extravertiert«, stellt Simon Breil klar. »Aber von allen Charaktermerkmalen, die wir uns angeschaut haben, schlug sich Extraversion am stärksten in der Gestik nieder. Wer geselliger ist und gerne auf andere zugeht, gestikuliert tendenziell mehr.« Zudem neigten extravertierte Menschen weniger dazu, sich kleinzumachen oder nervös herumzunesteln. Insgesamt nahmen sie mehr Raum ein und zeigten in der Regel eine entspannte und offene Körpersprache.

Für die anderen Charaktermerkmale fanden sich weniger Hinweise: Verträglichere Menschen machten im Schnitt etwas kleinere Schritte; gewissenhafte berührten sich etwas seltener am Körper und im Gesicht, hatten einen breiteren Stand und eine aufrechtere Haltung. Eine solche Haltung zeugte außerdem auch von Offenheit für neue Erfahrungen. Emotionale Labilität spiegelte sich ähnlich wie Introvertiertheit in einer steiferen Körperhaltung und nervösem Zappeln wider.

Die gefundenen Zusammenhänge waren allerdings nicht sehr groß. »Ja, es gibt Hinweise auf die Validität der Körpersprache im Hinblick auf die Persönlichkeitsdeutung. Die sind aber auf einem sehr, sehr niedrigen Niveau«, sagt Uwe Kanning. Er ist Professor für Wirtschaftspsychologie an der Hochschule Osnabrück und beschäftigt sich kritisch mit unwissenschaftlichen Methoden in der Personalauswahl. Ihm zufolge lässt sich nur ein kleiner Anteil der Persönlichkeitsunterschiede aus der Körpersprache vorhersagen.

»Wenn man einzelne körpersprachliche Merkmale betrachtet, bewegt sich das zwischen null und fünf Prozent. Die höchsten Zusammenhänge findet man für Extraversion. Für Intelligenz zum Beispiel gibt es gar keine«, berichtet Kanning. »Fügt man verschiedene körpersprachliche Merkmale zu einem Gesamtbild zusammen, steigt die Zahl wahrscheinlich maximal auf zehn Prozent«, schätzt er. Das heißt umgekehrt: 90 Prozent der Charakterunterschiede lassen sich nicht aus der Gestik herauslesen.

Die Bedeutung der Körpersprache wird überschätzt

An der Idee, dass sich das Innerste in der Gestik offenbart, ist also durchaus etwas dran – nur eben nicht so viel wie vermutet. »Menschen überschätzen die Bedeutung von Körpersprache«, sagt Simon Breil. »Gerade beim ersten Eindruck, wenn wir noch nichts über die Person wissen, verlassen wir uns stark darauf, etwa beim Dating oder im Bewerbungsprozess.«

Quelle: https://www.spektrum.de/news/koerpersprache-was-gesten-ueber-uns-verraten/1912954

„Sei einfach, wie du bist“

Nicht nur was wir sagen, sondern auch das, was in unserer Mimik, im Blickkontakt, in Gestik und Körperbewegung mitschwingt, spiegelt unsere Persönlichkeit wider. Wie wir mithilfe unserer Körpersprache – nicht nur im Vorstellungsgespräch – nonverbale Signale senden und warum sich diese nur schwer steuern lassen, erläutert der Psychologe, Autor und Coach Markus Väth.

Herr Väth, wir kommunizieren, auch wenn wir gerade nichts sagen. Wie das?

Markus Väth: Jeder Mensch sendet neben dem, was er sprachlich mitteilt, bestimmte Signale. Wir sprechen zusätzlich zu inhaltlichen Äußerungen nonverbal mit unserem Körper – durch Mimik, Gestik, Körperhaltung und -bewegung.

Viele haben die Sorge, dass sich ihre Körpersprache – etwa in Vorstellungs­gesprächen – negativ auf das Gesagte auswirkt, weil sie mit dem Fuß wippen oder die Arme verschränken. Beides gilt ja als No-Go, oder?

Markus Väth: Man sollte sich nicht zu viele Sorgen darüber machen, wie bestimmte Verhaltensweisen gedeutet werden könnten. Zuschreibungen wie „No-Go“ empfinde ich als problematisch. Da geistert viel Pseudowissen umher – im Internet, aber auch durch Personaler-Köpfe. Es ist schwierig, Körpersignale zu interpretieren, gerade wenn man dem Gesprächspartner das erste Mal gegenübersitzt. So müssen verschränkte Arme nicht zwangsläufig Zurückweisung signalisieren. Ich selbst etwa nehme diese Haltung ein, wenn ich intensiv nachdenke. Das hat nichts mit Abwehr zu tun. Sitzt ein Bewerber beispielsweise etwas schief da, ist das nicht zwingend mangelndem Respekt und Desinteresse geschuldet, sondern kann einfach nur bedeuten, dass das Hotelbett unbequem war.

Kann man auf seine Körpersprache überhaupt einwirken?

Markus Väth: Körpersprache lässt sich nur äußerst schwer trainieren. Und in Vorstellungsgesprächen schaltet der Stress einstudierte Körpersprache oft schlicht aus. Daher ist es schwierig, seine nonverbale Kommunikation bewusst zu beeinflussen.

Man kann sich also positiv wirkende Signale nicht antrainieren?

Markus Väth: Klar kann man versuchen, Gestik und Mimik gezielt einzusetzen – verbal auf den Gesprächspartner einzugehen und gleichzeitig all das Nichtgesagte, das nebenher mitschwingt, zu kontrollieren und zu steuern, erfordert jedoch jahrelanges konsequentes Üben. Sonst wirkt es schnell künstlich und wenig überzeugend. Es dauert, bis sich solche Verhaltensweisen einschleifen und in Situationen, in denen wir unter Druck stehen, abgerufen werden können. 

Also darf die Mimik Ihrer Meinung nach auch mal entgleisen und das Lächeln verrutschen?

Markus Väth: Meiner Meinung nach ja. Ein eingefrorenes, angespanntes Passfotolächeln wirkt wenig authentisch. Da lächelt nur der Mund, die Augen jedoch nicht, das bleibt dem Gesprächspartner nicht verborgen und verwirrt eher. Ein Funke springt so nicht über.

Und wie verhält es sich mit nervösem Zappeln oder wildem Gestikulieren?

Markus Väth: Gesten unterstreichen ja im besten Fall das Gesagte. Nimmt das Herumfuchteln und Zappeln jedoch überhand, kann es helfen, die Bewegung zu kanalisieren. Zum Beispiel indem man einen Stift in den Händen hält. 

Und was wollen Sie jungen Menschen sonst noch mitgeben, die vor ihrem ersten Vorstellungsgespräch stehen?

Markus Väth: Seid einfach, wie ihr seid. Viel wichtiger als einstudierte körpersprachliche Verhaltensweisen sind die Grundregeln der Höflichkeit. Ein Händedruck zur Begrüßung, dem Gegenüber dabei in die Augen schauen – das kann man in der Familie oder im Supermarkt üben – und sich auf einen kurzen Smalltalk einlassen ist die halbe Miete für einen gelungenen Gesprächsbeginn. Das beste Mittel, die Körpersprache zu verbessern, ist, voller Selbstvertrauen in das Gespräch zu gehen. Wenn man von seinen Fähigkeiten überzeugt ist, dann strahlt man auch leichter Souveränität aus.

Quelle: https://abi.de/bewerbung/vorstellungsgespraech/koerpersprache

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Feel Good!

The difference between Feelings, Emotions and Moods

Do you know someone who always seems to have it all together? No matter what comes their way, they remain calm, cool and collected. You might feel like a wreck compared to them, especially if you’re prone to easily getting stress or struggle with anxiety. What makes them tick? Do they have less emotions than the rest of us? Not likely. Chances are they just have a better understanding of their feelings and know how to regulate their moods.

But what is the difference between feelings and emotions? Although they are used interchangeably, there is a distinction between them. Each one factors into your mood, and your mood provides cognitive feedback for your emotions. It may seem like a complicated cycle, but you can learn how to better understand each one and, in turn, feel more in control of yourself, too.

WHAT ARE FEELINGS?

Feelings can be physical sensations, like hot or cold, or mental perceptions. They can be considered the conscious expression of your emotions. For example, you may feel the emotion of fear, but it could result in feeling anxiety or anger. Feelings emerge from your brain’s processing and interpretation of any given emotion.

WHAT ARE EMOTIONS?

Psychologists debate how many emotions humans can feel, but all of them can be categorized into four basic emotions: anger, joy, sadness and fear. These emotions are primitive, spanning back millennia to our ancestors. They are survival mechanisms that helped human beings evolve. Fear, for example, was a helpful response to serious threats that could have ended someone’s life. Fear even played a role on a social level, helping our ancestors adapt favorable behaviors to avoid being isolated from society.

Today, our emotions are just as important, but we often confuse them with our reactions. That’s why therapy can be so helpful; it helps you dig deeper and sometimes discover emotions that seem completely unrelated to what you’re feeling but, with introspection, make perfect sense.

WHAT ARE MOODS?

Your mood is your emotional state at a given time. You could be cranky, frustrated, stressed, calm or any other number of moods depending on the situation. For people with mood disorders, moods are either exaggerated and difficult to manage or change too frequently. They may suffer from a persistent low mood, as is the case in clients with major depressive disorder or dysthymia.

Your surroundings and perception of your emotions largely influence your mood. People with low emotional intelligence (EQ), that is the ability to understand, interpret and respond to their emotions, tend to struggle with their mood states more than those with higher EQ.

HOW CAN YOU LEARN TO CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS BETTER?

Emotions, feelings and moods are all temporary, but they can have long-lasting effects on your life. If you feel like yours are getting in the way of your happiness, therapy can help. Contact us at Foundations Family Counseling to learn more about our approach to therapy and what we may be able to help you with.

Source: https://foundationsfamilycounseling.com/the-difference-between-feelings-emotions-and-moods/

Moods and Emotions: What’s The Difference Anyway?

When we are trying to deal with the world of emotion, we can often forget or be confused about the differences between moods and emotions. Knowing what are moods and what are emotions, and getting clear on the differences may help us understand ourselves, and understand others better. So what are moods versus emotions?

What are moods? Moods stay for a while

In general, the differences are fairly straightforward. Paul Ekman in his accessible book ‘Emotions Revealed’, says that moods are generally emotional feelings. They can last for an extended period of time, say at least one or two days. When we have these moody periods, they often feel like stages that we are going through and they are hard to shift. They often seem like they are brought on by circumstances; pressure at work, pressure at home, money trouble.

Emotions come and go quickly

In contrast, emotions are things that tend to come and go quite quickly. We can think of these emotions as being positive or negative (although the idea of negative emotions is a myth). They’re also much more likely to be caused by immediate circumstances; something that someone just said, something that you witnessed or some memories that you had.

Emotions are likely to be sharper than moods, and also more varied; while we can have a great range of exquisitely different emotions, we tend to have moods which are more generalised — a good mood, a bad mood.

Small things we experience can change our emotions quickly, and we can experience more than one emotion at once, and these can reflect different parts of us.

Affects – what we actually feel

The third part of the equation here is Affect. Affect is the physical sensations you have when you have emotions. These are the butterflies in the stomach that we experience with anxiety, the muscular tension that anger can bring, or the ache in the heart we have with grief.

These Affects can be the thing we notice about emotions, and the thing that we can find most distressing about them. I’ve written more about Affect before.

Moods and emotions

We can experience moods and emotions at the same time, but emotions seem to ‘sit on top’ of moods. For instance, whilst in a bad mood is quite possible to have brief feelings of happiness and joy. Similarly, when a good mood, it is still possible to feel sad or angry feelings. However, it is much more likely that your mood will influence the emotion you feel. So it’s not really a question of moods versus emotions; instead it’s more moods and emotions.

If this happens, the emotion may have the same flavour as the mood. In this way, our emotions are susceptible to the mood we are in, and this also make us more likely to interpret our environment in particular ways and distort our thinking. When we are in a bad mood, it is much easier to misinterpret things in the light of this bad mood.

Understanding what are moods and emotions – and their differences – takes time and practice. When you do, you can sometimes see that the anger and frustration you are feeling isn’t caused by the people around you but by a mood you have been feeling before you walked in the door and that they shouldn’t be blamed. I’ve written before on what you can do when you’re in a bad mood.

Source: http://timhillpsychotherapy.com/moods-vs-emotions/

What Are Feelings: The Most Fascinating Facts About Our Emotional States

A feeling is an experience of emotion. While the term “feeling” can be used to describe purely physical sensations, such as touch or pain, in the context of this article we are going to talk about feelings as psychological phenomenon, such as being head over heels in love or simply feeling like a cool dude.

Feelings are important because they are largely responsible for our entire experience of life. It’s our feelings that determine whether we are happy or sad, content or frustrated. There is no shortage of examples of people who seem to have it all, yet feel unhappy, unfulfilled and depressed. On the other hand, there are those who defy all odds and lead happy and fulfilling lives despite obvious disadvantages, such as extreme poverty or physical disabilities.

It is our feelings that motivate us to do things:

  • working out to feel attractive,
  • studying to feel smart and/or accepted,
  • working extra hard to compensate for our real or imagined flaws in order to feel like a worthy romantic partner.

Some people donate money not because of their concern for the less fortunate but to feel better about themselves.

Many of us buy products not because we really need them but because they make us feel better about ourselves, or so we hope. Feeling beautiful, stylish, rich, luxurious, cool are just a few examples.

Despite intellectually understanding that things are squeaky clean, people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) keep washing because things don’t feel clean for some reason.

Counseling and psychotherapy are largely about understanding of the client’s feelings and then being able to work from there, usually by figuring out the way to change these feelings.

If we can figure out how to change negative feelings and replace them with positive ones, we can change our experience of life, and it doesn’t have to involve any other radical changes. Change your feelings, change your life!

Our feelings about the world are heavily influenced by our past experiences. In this sense, our feelings are our perception of things or events. Middle aged, young and old, we all had different experiences in life; we may come from different cultures; some of us possess knowledge and experience others don’t have — it’s only natural that we have different reactions to same events. Each of us looks through the filter of their own perception and feels accordingly.

Feelings vs. Emotions
There are several websites that suggest that feelings and emotions are different, or no, VERY different things and that knowing this difference is crucial for your success and self-improvement. While some believe that emotions precede feelings, others believe the opposite. Some say feelings are physical and emotions are mental, others are confident it’s the other way around.

Forget it. There is no consensus on difference between feelings and emotions, and if there is one, it’s still okay to use the two terms interchangeably because that’s what most people do anyway. According to APA Dictionary of Psychology, feeling is a conscious subjective experience of emotion, and we are going to stick to that. In the context of this article, feelings and emotions are definitely the same thing.

If you got an assignment in school to find the difference between feelings and emotions, then this article probably isn’t what you need. If, on the other hand, you are wondering about human feelings (and emotions) and how it all works, then read on!

The Relationship Between Thoughts and Feelings
If you ever read at least one self-improvement book in your life, it probably told you that to improve your life and reach your goals, you need to change the way you think. Self-help junkies know that, basically, all self-help books teach this one concept, which makes these books boring after a while. However, in many ways this advice holds true. Our thoughts have a profound impact on our feelings; our feelings affect the way we behave; and our behavior is responsible for our results.

Both our thoughts and feelings are important parts of our experience of life. For example, if you feel sad, both thoughts and feelings are parts of the experience of being sad. The good news is that both thoughts and feelings can be challenged for their accuracy and, if they are found to be wrong, intentionally replaced with something more helpful.

Feelings, Hormones and Brain Chemicals
Things would be so simple if it was just a matter of thinking right or if we could force ourselves to think the way we need to at all times. Sometimes, we simply can’t. In fact, that happens very often. This is the reason why despite knowing all the secrets, you are still struggling instead of living the life of your dreams. Our health, our hormones and our brain chemicals in particular, have a huge impact on how we feel! Here are some of them:

  • testosterone,
  • estrogen,
  • progesterone,
  • norepinephrine,
  • epinephrine,
  • serotonin,
  • dopamine,
  • GABA,
  • oxytocin (the love hormone!)

Gut Feeling
The concept of feelings and emotions is fascinating by itself, but one of the most interesting parts of it is the phenomenon of gut feeling. Gut feeling is unconscious, irrational and intuitive. It can be both positive or negative: You might feel you can trust someone without actually knowing them, or you might feel in danger when, rationally speaking, there is no reasons to be afraid. The weirdest part is that sometimes our gut feeling is actually right.

Many attempts have been made to explain intuition or gut feeling. Some suggest it can be explained by our previous experiences: The more similar experiences you had in a particular area, the more reliable your gut feeling or intuition regarding that area. It is like all of a sudden all your knowledge and experience manifests without any effort from your side. You feel like you know things but you yourself can’t explain how you know it. This, of course, makes perfect sense. Having said that, you can probably think of a time when your correct intuition can’t be explained by having previous experiences.

The Six Basic Emotions

Paul Ekman, an American psychologist, is known for his work on emotions. He concluded that there are six basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. He found that even members of isolated tribes had these emotions, which means it’s not something we learn from media, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise.

Another study found that when subjects contorted their facial muscles into facial expressions that matched the basic emotions (e.g. happiness or disgust), they reported congruent feelings. This brings us to a conclusion that smiling is not just incredibly attractive, it can also make you happier!

Source: https://psychologia.co/what-are-feelings/

Big Feels and How to Talk About Them

You can talk about your emotions with practice, even if it feels uncomfortable at first.

Emotions are an essential part of who you are, but they can be messy, complicated, and downright confusing at times. Knowing how to name your emotions and talk about them — with both yourself and others — is a key part of developing emotional health.

You don’t have to navigate the process of identifying your emotions alone.

Paul Ekman, a psychologist and leading researcher on emotions, surveyed more than 100 scientists and used their input to develop what’s known as the Atlas of Emotions.

1. Enjoyment

People generally like to feel happy, calm, and good. You might express these feelings by smiling, laughing, or indulging yourself.

You might feel enjoyment when:

  • You feel close and connected to people you care about.
  • You feel safe and secure.
  • You’re doing something that triggers sensory pleasure.
  • You’re absorbed in an activity.
  • You feel relaxed and at peace.

How to talk about it

Some words you can use to describe different kinds of enjoyment include:

  • happiness
  • love
  • relief
  • contentment
  • amusement
  • joy
  • pride
  • excitement
  • peace
  • satisfaction

If enjoyment and its related feelings seem out of reach, try to take a look at how other emotions or feelings may be getting in the way, such as:

  • trouble focusing on what’s happening in the present
  • worry
  • stress
  • a low or anxious mood

2. Sadness

Everyone feels sad from time to time. This emotion might relate to a specific event, such as a loss or rejection. But in other cases, you might have no idea why you feel sad.

How to talk about it

When you’re sad, you might describe yourself as feeling:

  • lonely
  • heartbroken
  • gloomy
  • disappointed
  • hopeless
  • grieved
  • unhappy
  • lost
  • troubled
  • resigned
  • miserable

Sadness can be hard to shake, but depending on your situation, these tips might help:

  • Mourn. Mourning is a typical part of grief. Whether you’re trying to recover from a loss, breakup, change, or failure to reach a goal, acknowledging your loss can help you accept and work through it. Everyone grieves in their own way, so do what feels right to you. It might help to talk about the pain you’re in, but it also might help to simply sit with your feelings for a while or express them creatively.
  • Do something meaningful. Doing something to help others or give back to society can help you feel more connected with other people. If you’ve recently lost someone you love, consider finishing a project they cared about or donating your time to a cause they supported.
  • Reach out for support. This is easier said than done when you’re at a low point. Try to remember the people in your life who care for you and likely want to help you. The pain of heartache does ease with time, even if you can’t imagine it at the moment.

It may help to talk with a therapist if your sadness lingers or begins to have a significant impact on daily life and makes it hard to work, go to school, or maintain your relationships.

3. Fear

Fear happens when you sense any type of threat. Depending on that perceived threat, fear can range from mild to severe.

Keep in mind that the level of fear you feel doesn’t always match up with the intensity of the threat. For example, if you live with anxiety, you might feel fear around situations that don’t actually pose much of a threat — though that doesn’t make the fear any less real.

How to talk about it

Fear can make you feel:

  • worried
  • doubtful
  • nervous
  • anxious
  • terrified
  • panicked
  • horrified
  • desperate
  • confused
  • stressed

Fear is a totally normal emotion — and one that likely kept your ancestors from being eaten alive. There are things you can do to manage this feeling:

  • Confront fear instead of avoiding it. If you’re afraid of something, whether it’s a serious discussion, meeting new people, or driving, it’s natural to want to stay away from the source of your fear. But this can often make your fear worse. Instead, try to face your fear safely. For example, if you develop a fear of driving, get back in your car and drive again right away. Stick close to home at first if it helps, but don’t avoid it.
  • Distract yourself from your fear. Sometimes fear can become so overwhelming that it’s hard to think about anything else. But ruminating, or letting the same thoughts play out over and over again, can have a negative impact on your emotional state. It can also make fear worse. If you feel yourself fixating on a worry or source of stress, try to do something distracting. Listen to an audiobook or podcast, cook with a new recipe, or go for a walk or jog with energizing music.
  • Consider the fear logically. Take a moment to think about your fear. Is there anything you can do about it? Can it actually harm you? What’s the worst thing that could happen if your fear came true? What would you do in that scenario? Knowing how you would deal with your fear can help you feel less afraid.

It’s important to not get discouraged if these tips seem impossible or overwhelming — they can be hard to accomplish on your own.

Consider working with a therapist, who can help you navigate mental health issues around fear, such as:

4. Anger

Anger usually happens when you experience some type of injustice. This experience can make you feel threatened, trapped, and unable to defend yourself.

Many people think of anger as a negative thing, but it’s a normal emotion that can help you know when a situation has become toxic.

How to talk about it

Words you might use when you feel angry include:

  • annoyed
  • frustrated
  • peeved
  • contrary
  • bitter
  • infuriated
  • irritated
  • mad
  • cheated
  • vengeful
  • insulted

There are a lot of ways to deal with anger, many of which can cause problems for you and those around you.

The next time you find yourself in a huff, try these tips for managing anger more productively:

  • Take a break. When you feel frustrated, putting some distance between yourself and the upsetting situation can help you avoid in-the-moment reactions or angry outbursts. Try taking a walk or listening to a calming song. While you’re away, take a few minutes to consider what’s causing your anger. Does the situation have another perspective? Can you do anything to make it better?
  • Express your anger constructively. You might avoid talking about your anger to help prevent conflict. Internalizing can seem like a safe strategy, but your anger can fester, and you may end up holding a grudge. This can affect your interpersonal relationships as well as your emotional well-being. Instead, take time to cool off if you need it, and then try expressing your feelings calmly and respectfully.
  • Focus on finding a solution. Anger is often difficult to deal with because it makes you feel helpless. Working to solve the problem that’s causing your anger can help relieve this frustration. You may not be able to fix every situation that makes you angry, but you can usually bring about some improvement. Ask other people involved what they think and work together. You can also try asking your loved ones for their input. Different perspectives can help you consider solutions you may not have seen yourself.

Everyone gets angry from time to time. But if you feel like you have anger issues, a therapist can help you develop effective tools for dealing with these emotions.

5. Disgust

You typically experience disgust as a reaction to unpleasant or unwanted situations. Like anger, feelings of disgust can help protect you from things you want to avoid.

It can also pose problems if it leads you to dislike certain people, including yourself, or situations that aren’t necessarily bad for you.

How to talk about it

Disgust might cause you to feel:

  • dislike
  • revulsion
  • loathing
  • disapproving
  • offended
  • horrified
  • uncomfortable
  • nauseated
  • disturbed
  • withdrawn
  • aversion

Disgust can happen as a natural response to something you dislike. In some situations, you might want to work through or overcome your disgust. These strategies can help:

  • Practice compassion. It’s common to feel uncomfortable when facing things you fear or don’t understand. Many people dislike being around sick people, for example. If you feel disturbed when thinking about sick people, try spending some time with an unwell friend or loved one, or offering to help them out. It’s important to take steps to protect your own health, so first, make sure their illness is not contagious.
  • Focus on the behavior, not the person. If someone you care about does something that offends or disgusts you, you may disapprove and react by withdrawing, pushing them away, or getting angry. Instead, try talking with that person. For example, if your sister smokes, avoid coughing loudly or making pointed comments about the smell of tobacco. Instead, tell her that cigarette smoke makes you feel sick and you’re concerned for her health. Offer to help her quit or work with her on finding support.
  • Expose yourself slowly. Some things may turn your stomach no matter what. Maybe you can’t stand any type of creepy-crawly creature but wish you could try gardening. To get over your disgust for worms, you might start by reading about them and looking at pictures of them. If you worry about them getting on your hands, you could try wearing gardening gloves. If you don’t like watching them move, you could try watching short video clips about worms to get used to them before seeing them in real life.

If you feel strong dislike toward a group of people, a specific person, or yourself, consider talking with a therapist about your feelings (noticing a theme here?).

Even if you are not sure exactly what’s behind your disgust, a therapist can help you work through the emotion and explore positive ways of coping with it.

Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/list-of-emotions#putting-it-all-together

5 Ways to Manage Your Emotions and Improve Your Mood

Everyone can have a hard time controlling their emotional reactions sometimes — it’s part of being human. But if it happens often, these regulation tools may help.

You’re going about a typical day when something changes. Suddenly, you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or out of control of your emotions.

Perhaps you’ve heard the usual self-help advice, like “pause and take a breath,” and the not-so-helpful advice like “just control yourself.” Yet somehow, you still feel like your emotions are in the driver’s seat while you’re sitting passenger.

When this happens, it can help to remember your feelings are there for a reason. There is no such thing as a “bad” emotion. If possible, try to find gratitude for your feelings, as they contain valuable information. If you can, try to welcome emotions — all emotions — as your friend.

It is possible to learn how to effectively manage your emotions with some practice, a few therapist-backed strategies, and (possibly) professional support.

Self-regulation is the core of managing your emotions

Self-regulation is the ability to experience your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and choose how you’re going to respond in a way that is positive for you and others.

Managing your emotions is a learned skill. Research, including a 2020 study, shows it begins forming in childhood through your relationship with your primary caregivers.

In fact, we are born without the ability to self-soothe. We rely on the nervous systems of our caregivers to restore balance, a process known as co-regulation, says Pauline Peck, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Santa Barbara, California.

“When we are distressed and dysregulated as babies, lying on our caregiver’s chest and syncing our breathing with theirs can help us calm down,” she explains.

“As we grow, the way our caregivers model emotional management, as well as the messages they give us about our emotions, can have a tremendous impact on how we understand our emotions and whether we believe we can handle them,” she adds.

Teenagers and adults who did not experience a supportive environment in early childhood may have a more difficult time with emotional regulation. If this sounds like you, don’t despair. Several methods can help.

1. Deep breathing

When you feel overwhelmed with emotion, it’s not possible to think logically and feel your emotions at the same time due to the fight, flight, or freeze response kicking into high gear.

“Your pulse is likely speeding up, your blood flow to your gut and kidneys slows down, adrenaline starts to surge,” explains Noelle Benach, a licensed clinical professional counselor and psychotherapist in Baltimore.

“When you’re in this state, it’s difficult or impossible to process what other people are saying, let alone be aware of your own thoughts and emotions,” she adds. Basically, you’re in survival mode for a perceived threat.

Breathwork can help. Research from 2018 shows that deep breathing activates something called the parasympathetic nervous system (your “rest-and-digest” mode), which allows your body to unwind and restore balance.

Box breathing exercise

You may find it helpful to repeat this exercise five or more times or until relative calm is restored:

  • inhale while counting to 4
  • hold while counting to 4
  • exhale while counting to 4
  • hold while counting to 4

You can learn how to practice some other deep breathing exercises here.

2. Sensory grounding

When emotions are running high, it may feel difficult to stay present in your body or physical environment. If possible, try to tune into your five senses to stay grounded.

This can include any number of grounding strategies, like splashing cold water on your face, singing or humming, or using a technique called progressive muscle relaxation.

“My favorite exercise is called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique,” says Benach. The goal, she says, is to name:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste.

“Once you go through the exercise, you’ve provided yourself with some distraction from your stressor and allowed your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in,” she explains.

3. Mindfulness activities

2019 study reported that a daily meditation practice of 13 minutes for 8 weeks helped improve peoples’ mood and emotional regulation, among other benefits.

“Mindfulness has been shown to actually change matter in your brain,” says Peck. “Our brains have neuroplasticity, which means that they can change and grow and adapt depending on how we use them.”

If meditation isn’t your thing, you can also look into yoga, tai chi, gardening, or forest bathing as a resource.

4. Practice accepting your emotions

All too often, we label emotions as “negative” or “bad.” This can create an added layer of shame or guilt when you’re already feeling emotionally charged.

Instead, you might find it helpful to approach your feelings from a place of curiosity rather than judgment. This is called the “observer” mindset, or the state of allowing feelings to ebb and flow, like the tide.

When you notice your emotions arise, it can be useful to say to yourself, “Isn’t that interesting? I’m experiencing anger. I allow it to be here, and I will get through this.”

If you’re having a challenging time figuring out exactly what you’re feeling, you may find it helpful to:

  • use a feeling chart
  • jot down your thoughts in a journal
  • record yourself on your smartphone talking things through, then watch it back for clues

5. Challenge your thoughts

If irrational thoughts are causing your emotional distress, you may find it helpful to challenge them using cognitive reappraisal (changing the narrative).

“Sometimes, I have my clients put their negative or threatening thoughts on trial,” says Benach. “I’ll ask questions like: Is there any evidence that supports this? Are there times when this thought is not true? Will this matter a day/week/month/year from now?”

Source: https://psychcentral.com/health/ways-to-manage-your-emotions

Seven Years os Bad Luck, or not…

The science of superstition – and why people believe in the unbelievable

The number 13, black cats, breaking mirrors, or walking under ladders, may all be things you actively avoid – if you’re anything like the 25% of people in the US who consider themselves superstitious.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly superstitious person, you probably say “bless you” when someone sneezes, just in case the devil should decide to steal their soul – as our ancestors thought possible during a sneeze.

Superstition also explains why many buildings do not have a 13th floor – preferring to label it 14, 14A 12B or M (the 13th letter of the alphabet) on elevator button panels because of concerns about superstitious tenants. Indeed, 13% of people in one survey indicated that staying on the 13th floor of a hotel would bother them – and 9% said they would ask for a different room.

On top of this, some airlines such as Air France and Lufthansa, do not have a 13th row. Lufthansa also has no 17th row – because in some countries – such as Italy and Brazil – the typical unlucky number is 17 and not 13.

What is superstition?

Although there is no single definition of superstition, it generally means a belief in supernatural forces – such as fate – the desire to influence unpredictable factors and a need to resolve uncertainty. In this way then, individual beliefs and experiences drive superstitions, which explains why they are generally irrational and often defy current scientific wisdom.

Psychologists who have investigated what role superstitions play, have found that they derive from the assumption that a connection exists between co-occurring, non-related events. For instance, the notion that charms promote good luck, or protect you from bad luck.

For many people, engaging with superstitious behaviours provides a sense of control and reduces anxiety – which is why levels of superstition increase at times of stress and angst. This is particularly the case during times of economic crisis and social uncertainty – notably wars and conflicts. Indeed, Researchers have observed how in Germany between 1918 and 1940 measures of economic threat correlated directly with measures of superstition.

Touch wood

Superstitious beliefs have been shown to help promote a positive mental attitude. Although they can lead to irrational decisions, such as trusting in the merits of good luck and destiny rather than sound decision making.

Carrying charms, wearing certain clothes, visiting places associated with good fortune, preferring specific colours and using particular numbers are all elements of superstition. And although these behaviours and actions can appear trivial, for some people, they can often affect choices made in the real world.

Superstitions can also give rise to the notion that objects and places are cursed. Such as the Annabelle the Doll – who featured in The Conjuring and two other movies – and is said to be inhabited by the spirit of a dead girl. A more traditional illustration is the Curse of the Pharaohs, which is said to be cast upon any person who disturbs the mummy of an Ancient Egyptian person – especially a pharaoh.

Numbers themselves can also often be associated with curses. For example, the figure 666 in a licence plate is often featured in stories of misfortune. The most famous case was the numberplate “ARK 666Y”, which is believed to have caused mysterious vehicle fires and “bad vibes” for passengers.

Sporting superstitions

Superstition is also highly prevalent within sport – especially in highly competitive situations. Four out of five professional athletes report engaging with at least one superstitious behaviour prior to performance. Within sport, superstitions have been shown to reduce tension and provide a sense of control over unpredictable, chance factors.

Superstitions practices tend to vary across sports, but there are similarities. Within football, gymnastics and athletics, for example, competitors reported praying for success, checking appearance in mirror and dressing well to feel better prepared. Players and athletes also engage with personalised actions and behaviours – such as wearing lucky clothes, kit and charms.

Famous sportspeople often display superstitious behaviours. Notably, basketball legend Michael Jordan concealed his lucky North Carolina shorts under his Chicago Bulls team kit. Similarly, the tennis legend Björn Bork, reportedly wore the same brand of shirt when preparing for Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal has an array of rituals that he performs each time he plays. These include the manner in which he places his water bottles and taking freezing cold showers. Nadal believes these rituals help him to find focus, flow and perform well.

Walking under ladders

What all this shows is that superstitions can provide reassurance and can help to reduce anxiety in some people. But while this may well be true, research has shown that actions associated with superstitions can also become self-reinforcing – in that the behaviour develops into a habit and failure to perform the ritual can actually result in anxiety.

This is even though the actual outcome of an event or situation is still dependent on known factors – rather than unknown supernatural forces. A notion consistent with the often quoted maxim, “the harder you work (practice) the luckier you get”.

So the next time you break a mirror, see a black cat or encounter the number 13 – don’t worry too much about “bad luck”, as it’s most likely just a trick of the mind.

Source: https://theconversation.com/the-science-of-superstition-and-why-people-believe-in-the-unbelievable-97043

10 Common Superstitions

If you’d like to know why it’s bad luck to walk under a ladder or to cross paths with a black cat, read on for the back story to some of the most common superstitions…

Most of us probably don’t know why we give a little shudder when we see Friday the 13th looming on the calendar or why we say “bless you” when someone sneezes.But these and other common superstitions typically have a colorful history that dates back centuries.And while some superstitions may be just for fun, others might affect you enough to influence the choices you make.None, though, is based in fact, though many have deep roots in a culture’s tradition and history…

1. Friday the 13th: Bad Luck
Many of us can’t help feeling a bit of trepidation when we realize another Friday the 13th is coming up.A fear of the number 13 is one of the most common superstitions around; it’s so widespread that many tall apartment buildings and hotels simply omit labeling their 13th floor. And have you noticed that some airlines don’t have a 13th row?One version of the origin of this superstition is that Judas Iscariot was the 13th guest at the Last Supper and Jesus was crucified on a Friday.Put that together and you have one unlucky day of the year.

2. Itchy Palm: Good Luck
There are many variations on this superstition. But the idea of having an itchy palm generally refers to someone who is greedy or has an insatiable desire for money.In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” Brutus says, “Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself are much condemned to have an itching palm.”Some believe that if the right palm itches you will meet someone new, while an itchy left palm means that money is coming.Others say that an itchy right palm means money coming in and a left-handed itch foretells money going out.The superstition warns you not to scratch your palm unless you want to counteract the effect. The only way to scratch it without stopping the effect is to use lucky wood or brass.

3. Walking Under a Ladder: Bad Luck
It’s common sense to avoid walking under an open ladder for fear of something falling on you, but there are superstitious reasons for avoiding ladders too.The shape of an open ladder is a triangle, which signifies life in some mythologies.When you walk through the triangle, it’s thought that you tempt the Fates. You also run the risk of awakening spirits that live within the triangle, including evil spirits who may not be happy with the disturbance.If you do accidentally walk under a ladder, you can counteract the bad luck by placing your thumb between your index and middle fingers and holding it for at least 5 seconds, orcross the fingers of both hands while calling upon the sign of the cross to protect you from evil.

4. Breaking a Mirror: Bad Luck
Many superstitious people say breaking a mirror sets you up for 7 years of bad luck. That may be because 7 years is the time it takes to replace all the cells in your physical body.In a more superstitious time, mirrors were thought to be reflections of the soul. So breaking a mirror was believed to be harmful to the soul.To end the chain of bad luck, take the broken mirror outside and bury it in the moonlight.5. Finding a Horseshoe: Good Luck
In many cultures, a horseshoe is the luckiest of all symbols, especially if you find one with the open end pointing toward you.

If you find one of these good-luck charms, pick it up with your right hand, spit on one end, make a wish and toss it over your left shoulder. Then leave it where it lands.Or place a horseshoe over the entrance to your home with the open ends up. This allows the horseshoe to fill with good luck for everyone living there.One superstitious belief says the number of nails left on an abandoned horseshoe reveal how many years of good luck are coming your way.6. Opening an Umbrella Inside: Bad Luck
It seems like a no-brainer that opening an umbrella inside brings bad luck, since it presents a risk of breaking valuable items and poking someone in the eye.

But one common superstition holds that because umbrellas shade us from the sun they’re somehow magical.When the umbrella is opened inside – out of the way of sun’s rays – it offends the sun god.It may even signify impending death or ill fortune for both the person who opened it and the people who live within the home.7. Knock Twice on Wood: Reverse Bad Luck
The origin of this well-known superstition dates back to a time when some cultures believed that gods lived in trees.To ask the gods for a favor, people would lightly tap the bark of the tree.Then, to say thank you when the favor was granted, a person would knock lightly again on the same tree.

This custom may have also originated with Christians offering thanks for good fortune with this gesture to Jesus Christ, who died on a cross made from wood.8. Tossing Spilled Salt Over Your Shoulder: Good Luck
For most of human history, salt has been very valuable; in some places and times, it was worth its weight in gold. One common superstition held that it could purify the soul and ward off evil spirits.So when you spill any amount of salt, you ought to take a pinch and toss it over your left shoulder.By doing this, the superstition says, you drive away any evil spirits attracted to the spill who may want to cause misfortune for the unlucky spiller.

9. Black Cats: Bad Luck
This superstition is a tough one for cat lovers to swallow, but in the Middle Ages it was thought that witches kept black cats as companions.Some people even believed that these kitties could turn into witches or demons after 7 years.Powerful men like Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte may have been prepared to conquer nations, but both were terrified of a black cat.10. Saying “God Bless You”: Good Luck
For some, it’s good manners, pure and simple; but blessing someone after he or she sneezes is actually a common superstition.In 6th century Europe, people congratulated anyone who sneezed; they believed the person was expelling evil spirits.

Early Romans believed that a strong sneeze could release your soul into the world and a “bless you” would keep it safely at home.

When the Black Plague hit Europe in 1665, the pope required everyone to be blessed when they sneezed. He believed that a sneeze was a sign the person would likely die soon.

The blessing was usually followed up by making the sign of the cross, for good measure.

Common superstitions still have a place today. After all, you never know when a simple action to counteract bad luck will make you and those around you a little bit luckier.

Source: https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/10-common-superstitions/

Superstitions: What’s the Harm?

Superstitions are long-held beliefs that appear to be rooted in coincidence or cultural tradition rather than logic or facts.

Superstitions are often connected to pagan beliefs or religious practices that were widespread in the past.

Our ancestors didn’t come up with superstitions because they were more ignorant or naive than we are, but because they lacked many concrete ways to influence the survival outcomes of their lives. Superstitions offered a way to feel more in control, the same way they do now. That’s why highly educated, sophisticated people still believe in certain superstitions.

Most superstitions are fun and harmless, whether you sincerely believe in them or not. But some superstitions can play into mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Here’s what common superstitions mean and when to be concerned about superstitious behaviors.

Bad omens and good luck:

Black cats

At some point, black cats became associated with evil forces and shape-shifting witches. In German tradition it’s believed that a black cat crossing your path from left to right is a sign of bad news and death in the near future.

Interestingly, some cultures believe that black cats are a sign of good luck.

Walking under a ladder

When ladders are in use, they create a triangle shape. Cultures such as the ancient Egyptians found triangles to be sacred, and walking under a ladder disrupts the perfect triangle shape.

Walking under ladders is seen to be an act of defiance and an invitation to bad luck.

Breaking a mirror

Looking at your own reflection wasn’t just a way to check yourself out — in ancient cultures, consulting a mirror was a way to consult the future. Looking into a broken mirror would result in a distorted reflection, which would indicate tragedy or bad luck ahead.

Number 13

In some religious traditions, “12” is regarded as the perfect number. The number that comes after 12 would be regarded as imperfect or defiled.

In early Christian and Nordic traditions, the 13th guest at a table is the one who will bring the whole group down. There’s even a word for fear of the number thirteen, called triskaidekaphobia.

Four-leaf clover

It’s not clear why four-leaf clovers came to mean good luck. Presumably, a four-leaf clover would be an anomaly found in a patch of three-leaf clover, and finding one is a rare occurrence.

The four leaves of the four-leaf clover are meant to symbolize faith, hope, love, and luck.

Crows

Crows are scavenger birds and many believe they can sense death before it happens. For this reason, some people believe seeing a lone crow means calamity is eminent.

Knocking on wood

Making a statement like “this will be a good year” was seen to be arrogant and an invitation to meddlesome spirits intent on disrupting your plans.

After making a statement to indicate that you predict good things ahead, it became customary to “knock on wood” of walls or furniture around you as a way to drive off these evil spirits.

Luck in love:

Seeing the bride the night before the wedding

To this day, many soon-to-be spouses avoid seeing each other the night before the wedding.

This tradition may date back to arranged marriages, where spouses would encounter each other for the first time moments before speaking their vows. Keeping the bride and groom apart even right before the wedding was believed to keep both parties from backing out.

Something old, something new

This superstition is more about tradition than it is about luck. Wearing “something old and something new” on your wedding day was a way of honoring the bride’s heritage and carrying the past into the future.

“Something borrowed” invited the bride’s community into her new relationship, and “something blue” was meant to represent love, purity, and fidelity.

Catching the bouquet

During and after the wedding ceremony, women who wanted to get married were desperate to find a way for the new bride’s luck to rub off on them. Marriage was, after all, the only institutional protection women were seen to have access to after a certain age.

Single women would try to take pieces of fabric or petals off the bride’s attire, and often she would turn, throw the bouquet, and flee. The bouquet was seen as a lucky object to the person who could catch it.

The daisy oracle

The old trope of counting off a daisy’s petals to determine if “he loves me, he loves me not” is sometimes called “to pluck the daisy” or “the daisy oracle” originating from a French game.

In the game, the player plucks the petals off a daisy one at a time, alternating “he loves me” or “he loves me not.” When the last petal is pulled, the phrase the player lands on is the answer to the question.

Don’t sit in the corner

Particularly in Russian traditions, single women are encouraged not to sit at the corner during a dinner party. Sitting in the corner, the superstition goes, will “doom” that woman to a life of eternal spinsterhood.

This superstition might just be a matter of practicality, as sitting in the middle of a lively dinner party is a much better way to meet people than sitting at the corner or the end.

Wealth, health, and prosperity:

Itchy hands

Anecdotally, itchy hands are supposed to be an indicator that wealth is on its way and you’ll soon be holding money. Of course, it can also mean dry skin or another skin condition.

Throwing salt

Salt has long been thought to carry a spiritual energy. Salt, which used to be extremely hard to procure and the only way to safely preserve meat, was so valuable it could be used as a currency.

Spilling salt was seen to be so irresponsible, it was an invitation to catastrophe. Throwing salt over your left shoulder, however, was thought to undo the bad luck of spilling it and restore the balance of things.

Saying “God bless you”

Saying “God bless you” after a person sneezes started before people understood how diseases were transmitted.

Since many people in the Middle Ages were killed by plague, the practice of saying “God bless you” was meant to protect a person who was showing symptoms, like coughing and sneezing.

The blessing may have also been an attempt to keep evil spirits from entering the body after the sneeze, which some believed contained a person’s essence trying to escape.

Old broom in a new home

Bringing an old broom into a new home was thought to transfer bad energy from one place to the next. Similarly, it was considered bad luck to use a broom that was left behind by a home’s previous occupant.

Using a new broom upon moving to a new place was meant to be a cleansing act that purified the residence.

Boil milk and rice

In some cultures, boiling milk and rice is a way to christen a new home. Milk and rice symbolize fullness, prosperity, and wealth being welcomed into the new space.

What causes superstitions?

Superstitions have two main causes: cultural tradition and individual experiences.

If you grew up steeped in the superstitions of a particular culture or religion, you may carry these beliefs forward, even subconsciously.

Superstitions can take the form of sitting in a “lucky” chair when your favorite team is facing their rival, or performing the same series of taps on the plate when it’s your turn up at bat in baseball.

These behaviors are simply ways to soothe anxiety or prepare your brain to concentrate. They’re more like habits that give the person doing them a feeling of control over the unknown.

For example, if you wore your favorite player’s jersey to a football game, and that player scored a touchdown, you may believe that the two circumstances were connected — that one choice (wearing the jersey) caused your desired outcome (the touchdown). You probably know that the two things aren’t linked, but holding on to the belief feels better than letting it go.

One review of literature on thisTrusted Source showed that even though superstitious beliefs don’t necessarily connect to better outcomes for athletes, the placebo effect of belief was enough to make it worth believing.

According to the American Psychological Association, many people know that their superstitious rituals or beliefs are disconnected from reality. But that doesn’t mean that they’re ready to let go of the belief.

One study in 2016 strongly suggests that superstitions are powerful intuitions that our brains don’t want to correct. While the logical part of us may know that our superstitious behaviors don’t affect outcomes, holding on to them is still a way of “playing it safe.”

When superstitions affect mental health

For most people, superstitions are harmless. But there are times when superstitions can become an obstacle in your everyday life.

For people with OCD, superstitions can manifest as fixations. People with OCD may feel unable to be dismissive of superstitious behaviors or beliefs. This can trigger obsessive thoughts or anxiety, among other OCD symptoms. This is sometimes referred to as “magical thinking” OCD.

People who have other mental health conditions, such as generalized anxiety disorder, can also be negatively impacted by superstitions.

When superstitions become a strong motivator for participating in or avoiding certain activities, it’s an indication that an underlying mental health condition may be present.

The takeaway

In most cases, superstitions are harmless. In fact, it’s possible that you hold superstitions that you’re so used to that you aren’t even aware of them and they don’t impact your life much.

There are instances where so-called “magical thinking” can create a chasm between imagination and reality. In those cases, treatment from a mental health professional may help.

Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/superstitions#takeaway

The fascinating history behind 11 common superstitions

Ancient Romans believed that mirrors contained fragments of our souls — so breaking a mirror signified a break in someone’s health and well-being.

Luckily, they also believed that souls regenerated every seven years, the amount of time the mirror-breaker would be unlucky before they emerged new and whole again.

The social etiquette of blessing someone after they sneeze originates from the ancient belief that one could sneeze out their soul.

Yawning and sneezing were both considered high-risk activities in the time of the ancient Romans and Greeks.

«There are a lot of ancient beliefs in general about a separable soul. It could separate for a brief period of time. When you dream, your soul is out of your body, so it can’t get back in if you’re sneezing,» explained folklore librarian Moira Smith to the Washington Post.

Concerned believers started saying «bless you» as a divine safeguard against wayward souls.

Ancient Egyptians believed umbrellas were royal, and that their shade was sacred. Opening one indoors was considered an insult to the God of the Sun.

Umbrellas were fashioned out of papyrus and peacock feathers, and designed in the likeness of the Egyptian goddess of the sky, Nut. An umbrella’s shade was therefore sacred, and strictly reserved for Egyptian nobility — anyone else who dared to step into the shadowy space was considered sacrilegious. 

Opening an umbrella indoors went against its natural purpose, and could consequentially be considered an insult to the God of the Sun, according to some historians.

Pennies were some of the first items treated as representative of the good vs. evil dichotomy.

One of society’s most prevalent dichotomies is that of good versus evil, wherein «good» is associated with concepts such as lightness, luck, beauty, and justice, and «evil» is linked to selfishness, neglect, and immorality.

In ancient societies, people believed that certain metals — such as copper — were gifts from the gods and meant to protect humanity. Therefore, coins such as pennies had lucky properties; however, these same societies also believed in an ever-present battle between good and evil forces. 

So, heads-up pennies came to be associated with luck, while the obverse earned a less fortuitous reputation.

In the Middle Ages, people associated black cats with the devil — and therefore tried to exterminate them all.

Back in the fourteenth century, the association between black cats and the devil was so prevalent that people allegedly believed they were causing the Black Death pandemic — and tragically attempted to exterminate them as a result.

Later, when the sixteenth-century hysteria over witchcraft was at its peak, suspicious Europeans associated black cats with so-called witches, believing them to be their «familiars» — and this notion spread all the way to America, during the Salem Witch Trials.

Now, witchcraft and the occult are in vogue; there are even stores dedicated to all things witchy.

The superstition that walking under a ladder is bad luck could stem from the shape a ladder makes when leaning against a wall.

The belief that walking under a ladder is bad luck likely stems from the importance of the number three in certain religions. In Christianity, the doctrine of the trinity is the belief that there exists one God, who is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and since the trinity is sacred, the number three is sacred by extension, too.

When a ladder leans against a wall, it forms a triangle shape with the wall on which it’s leaning and the ground. Walking underneath the latter could be seen as «breaking» the trinity — a blasphemous offense.

We have divine dinner parties to blame for why we consider the number ’13’ to be unlucky.

Not only was Judas Iscariot — aka the man who betrayed Jesus Christ — the 13th guest to arrive at The Last Supper in the New Testament of the Bible, but Loki, the wily trickster god of Norse mythology, introduced the world to chaos when he arrived as the 13th guest at a divine dinner party, and tricked a fellow guest into shooting the god of joy with an arrow.

Judas can also be blamed for the notion that spilling salt is bad luck.

Take a close look at Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, «The Last Supper.» Judas Iscariot — the aforementioned unlucky 13th guest at Jesus’ dinner — is depicted knocking salt over on the table with his elbow.

Because Judas betrayed Jesus, the salt he knocked over started getting associated with his misdeeds. Luckily, throwing salt over your left shoulder supposedly blinds the devil and counteracts any bad juju you incur for spilling it in the first place.

Knocking on wood is a tradition that stems from ancient pagan cultures’ belief that spirits and gods resided in trees.

Knocking on tree trunks was therefore an attempt to rouse the gods and call upon them for protection and good luck.

Eve was said to have taken a four-leaf clover out of Eden when she was expelled from paradise.

The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are purportedly one in 10,000, making them exceedingly rare finds. As the legend goes, when Eve learned that she was expelled from paradise, she took a four-leaf clover with in order that she’d never forget the Garden of Eden. Now, four-leaf clovers are symbolic of luck and prosperity.

A Greek astronomer named Ptolemy theorized that the presence of shooting stars meant the gods were peering down from the sky and open to granting our wishes.

According to Ptolemy, the gods had to open up the space that divides the earth sky from the divine sphere in order to watch over humanity. Shooting stars were wont to slip through the great divider, so if you saw one blazing through the night sky, you knew the gods were watching and listening to you.

Source: https://www.insider.com/history-origin-people-superstitions-2018-4#a-greek-astronomer-named-ptolemy-theorized-that-the-presence-of-shooting-stars-meant-the-gods-were-peering-down-from-the-sky-and-open-to-granting-our-wishes-11

Superstition by Stevie Wonder (1972)

Loving Mother Earth, Stopping Destruction

FALLING IN LOVE WITH MOTHER EARTH

We and the Earth are One

The Earth is our mother, nourishing and protecting us in every moment–giving us air to breathe, fresh water to drink, food to eat and healing herbs to cure us when we are sick. Every breath we inhale contains our planet’s nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and trace elements. When we breathe with mindfulness, we can experience our interbeing with the Earth’s delicate atmosphere, with all the plants, and even with the sun, whose light makes possible the miracle of photosynthesis. With every breath, we can experience communion. With every breath, we can savor the wonders of life.

We need to change our way of thinking and seeing things. We need to realise that the Earth is not just our environment. The Earth is not something outside of us. Breathing with mindfulness and contemplating your body, you realise that you are the Earth. You realise that your consciousness is also the consciousness of the Earth. Look around you–what you see is not your environment, it is you.

Great Mother Earth

Whatever nationality or culture we belong to, whatever religion we follow, whether we’re Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, or atheists, we can all see that the Earth is not inert matter. She is a great being, who has herself given birth to many other great beings–including Buddhas and bodhisattvas, prophets and saints, sons and daughters of God and humankind. The Earth is a loving mother, nurturing and protecting all peoples and all species without discrimination.

When you realise the Earth is so much more than simply your environment, you’ll be moved to protect her in the same way as you would yourself. This is the kind of awareness, the kind of awakening that we need, and the future of the planet depends on whether we’re able to cultivate this insight or not. The Earth and all species on Earth are in real danger. Yet if we can develop a deep relationship with the Earth, we’ll have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change our way of life.

Falling in Love

We can all experience a feeling of deep admiration and love when we see the great harmony, elegance and beauty of the Earth. A simple branch of a cherry blossom, the shell of a snail or the wing of a bat–all bear witness to the Earth’s masterful creativity. Every advance in our scientific understanding deepens our admiration and love for this wondrous planet. When we can truly see and understand the Earth, love is born in our hearts. We feel connected. That is the meaning of love: To be at one.

Only when we’ve truly fallen back in love with the Earth will our actions spring from reverence, and the insight of our interconnectedness. Yet many of us have become alienated from the Earth. We are lost, isolated and lonely. We work too hard, our lives are too busy, and we are restless and distracted, losing ourselves in consumption. But the Earth is always there for us, offering us everything we need for our nourishment and healing: The miraculous grain of corn, the refreshing stream, the fragrant forest, the majestic snow-capped mountain peak, and the joyful birdsong at dawn.

True Happiness is Made of Love

Many of us think we need more money, more power or more status before we can be happy. We’re so busy spending our lives chasing after money, power and status that we ignore all the conditions for happiness already available. At the same time, we lose ourselves in buying and consuming things we don’t need, putting a heavy strain on both our bodies and the planet. Yet much of what we drink, eat, watch, read or listen to, is toxic and is polluting our bodies and minds with violence, anger, fear and despair.

As well as the carbon dioxide pollution of our physical environment, we can speak of the spiritual pollution of our human environment: The toxic and destructive atmosphere we’re creating with our way of consuming. We need to consume in such a way that truly sustains our peace and happiness. Only when we’re sustainable as humans will our civilization become sustainable. It is possible to be happy in the here and the now.

We don’t need to consume a lot to be happy; in fact, we can live very simply. With mindfulness, any moment can become a happy moment. Savoring one simple breath, taking a moment to stop and contemplate the bright blue sky, or to fully enjoy the presence of a loved one, can be more than enough to make us happy. Each one of us needs to come back to reconnect with ourselves, with our loved ones and with the Earth. It’s not money, power or consuming that can make us happy, but having love and understanding in our heart.

The Bread in Your Hand is the Body of the Cosmos

We need to consume in such a way that keeps our compassion alive. And yet many of us consume in a way that is very violent. Forests are cut down to raise cattle for beef, or to grow grain for liquor, while millions in the world are dying of starvation. Reducing the amount of meat we eat and alcohol we consume by 50% is a true act of love for ourselves, for the Earth and for one another. Eating with compassion can already help transform the situation our planet is facing, and restore balance to ourselves and the Earth.

Nothing is More Important than Brotherhood and Sisterhood

There’s a revolution that needs to happen and it starts from inside each one of us. We need to wake up and fall in love with Earth. We’ve been homo sapiens for a long time. Now it’s time to become homo conscious. Our love and admiration for the Earth has the power to unite us and remove all boundaries, separation and discrimination. Centuries of individualism and competition have brought about tremendous destruction and alienation. We need to re-establish true communication–true communion–with ourselves, with the Earth, and with one another, as children of the same mother. We need more than new technology to protect the planet. We need real community and co-operation.

All civilisations are impermanent and must come to an end one day. But if we continue on our current course, there’s no doubt that our civilisation will be destroyed sooner than we think. The Earth may need millions of years to heal, to retrieve her balance and restore her beauty. She will be able to recover, but we humans and many other species will disappear, until the Earth can generate conditions to bring us forth again in new forms. Once we can accept the impermanence of our civilization with peace, we will be liberated from our fear. Only then will we have the strength, awakening and love we need to bring us together. Cherishing our precious Earth–falling in love with the Earth–is not an obligation. It is a matter of personal and collective happiness and survival.

Source: https://uplift.love/falling-in-love-with-mother-earth/

Importance of nature

Nature is essential to our lives – from the food on our plates to the clothes we wear, from medicines to mental health benefits.

Are you getting enough nature?

It’s easy to think nature will always be with us. But even in my lifetime, birds like starlings and house sparrows have declined so much they’re now listed as endangered.

In fact, nature is faring worse in the UK than in most other countries. The latest State of Nature report shows that over half our wild species – plants, insects, birds, mammals – are in decline.

Overlooking the importance of nature, as we go about our busy lives, makes it easier for it to disappear right in front of our eyes.

Are you in nature deficit?

First, how was your last holiday? Did you spend any time in nature? Shut your eyes and see if you can recall how you feel about the last time you spent time in nature.

What about your normal busy day away from stunning views, beaches and sunsets? Does your daily routine give you any experiences of nature?

Perhaps you don’t have the time to notice the birds calling, the bees buzzing and to enjoy the colours of the changing seasons in a local park, even in your own street.

If you’re not getting enough nature you’re not alone.

Dealing with nature deficit

Seven out of 10 people admit they’re losing touch with nature. And more than a third of parents admit they could not teach their own children about British wildlife.

Pressures of daily life mean we’re increasingly detached from nature even though nature in many forms is there for us. Yes, like love, nature is all around – and it’s free.

Even watching wildlife programmes online or on the TV costs — but it’s still no substitute for experiencing nature direct. You don’t have to go on safari, to the Amazon rainforest or to the Grand Canyon for fulfilling experiences of nature.

Great as those places are, nature is also on our doorstep all year round. Even in winter. Just add your own curiosity, a chunk of attention span and a dollop of patience.

What do people think about the importance of nature?

Asked to give their favourite views, Britons tend to put natural heritage before buildings and cityscapes. Yes, Brits favour views of Wales’ Gower Peninsula and Northern Ireland’s Mountains of Mourne over sights like Waterloo Bridge, Blackpool Tower and Stonehenge.

Not even the poet William Wordsworth put people off voting for the “long, stern and desolate» views of Cumbria’s Wastwater and its scree slopes to the Scafell peaks as Britain’s favourite.

Dramatic landscapes fire our imagination, fill our hearts and put our lives into perspective. But everyday experiences of nature give us a boost too. It’s like having our very own free Natural Health Service.

Wild child: importance of nature to children

Children especially have a natural affinity with nature. Evidence is growing of how regular contact with nature boosts new born children’s healthy development, supports their physical and mental health and instils abilities to assess risk as they grow. It even underpins their informal learning and academic achievement.

This affinity tends to get knocked out of them as they grow. They come under pressure to put away childish things in favour of passing exams and getting a «proper job».

Along with digital distractions and legitimate fears about playing outdoors, the pressures are removing children from nature before our very eyes. Who can blame them for thinking an apple is a gadget first and a fruit second?

Yet for children and adults alike, daily contact with nature – being in green, open space, near healthy rivers, exploring nature’s colours, sounds, tones and textures — is linked to better health, less stress, better mood, reduced obesity. That’s already an amazing list of features no other product can ever match.

Nature’s importance to our health

Nature performs major miracles for us every day – from giving us great views and helping to prevent floods to regulating the weather and keeping us supplied with clean water, fresh air and plentiful food.

When running the tap or doing the shopping it’s easy to forget that without healthy soils and diverse plant and animal species doing their thing our lives would be tougher and poorer.

Trees in towns cool us in summer and trap air pollution. Bees pollinate our crops, putting food on our table and in our stomachs. Even much-maligned wasps have uses such as controlling aphids.

However smart we’ve become as a species, without diverse nature and a healthy functioning natural environment we’ll be as lost as a tourist without a map app.

Loss of nature

Beyond our shores, tropical forests regulate global temperatures and support countless wild species — from berries used in medicines to gorillas and other primates a few genes away from ourselves. Yet the forests are being felled for timber, mining and cattle ranching.

Mangroves help absorb storm surges and shelter small fry from big fish until they’re ready to venture into the open seas. Yet mangroves are being destroyed by coastal development.

Healthy seas and oceans regulate the planet’s temperature. But we’re undermining their ability to do this by turning them acidic with our wasteful energy policies and by removing species, as we over-exploit the seas for short-term profit.

We’re busy taking out sharks, tuna and other top predators from the oceans and leaving squid and jellyfish to take their place in the food chain. This is upsetting millions of years of natural balance in less than a century.

We’re recklessly removing the vital links in the safety chain of life — pulling away life’s building blocks in a risky global game of Jenga.

The value of nature

Talking of risk, on one level it’s absurd to even try to work out the financial value of nature to us all. How can we ever accurately value bees pollinating apples or healthy soils and forests holding back flood waters?

The UK’s Office of National Statistics put the financial value of just 3 of the UK’s natural ecosystems (woodlands, farmland and freshwater habitats such as lakes) at £178bn. That’s 9 noughts on the end: 178,000,000,000.

It’s a mind-bending amount and is similar to the value of exports from the Euro zone (€) to the rest of the world. NHS spending is about £140bn.

What about the value of the world’s natural ecosystem services? A first estimate was put at an average $33 trillion annually – that’s 12 noughts or a million million.

More to the point, this value of nature is nearly twice global GNP of $18 trillion.

The figures will have changed since these first calculations but it underlines the obvious – that nature is both invaluable and priceless. Put another way, if we’re silly enough to let nature decline can we afford to put it back? Three guesses.

That matters when one considers another big global study of the state of nature and its value. The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment found that approximately two-thirds of the world’s natural ecosystems are degraded or being used in irresponsible, unsustainable ways. “Every year we lose three to five trillion dollars’ worth of natural capital, roughly equivalent to the amount of money we lost in the financial crisis of 2008–2009”, the report said. Every year.

It’s easy to think nature will always be with us. But it depends on whether we let nature go to the wall or act to repair, restore and maintain it. Right now species are going extinct and the natural systems that support all life on Earth are being eroded faster than ever before.

Even once common species like bees, hedgehogs, starlings and house sparrows are in trouble – going missing from our streets and neighbourhoods. The bees and birds lose out big time – and so do we.

Is it beyond the wit of humankind to bring nature back from the brink? It’s in our own interests to do so. That said, we do seem to be the only species on Earth that actively destroys its own home and life-support systems.

Yet, with nature doing so much for us day in and year out, the advertising industry should be rushing to promote it… ‘New, improved nature. It will change your life.’

Nature in our hands

Friends of the Earth has a 45-year track record of working with people to protect nature. There are plenty of ways to support our nature work, including signing our petition to double tree cover in the UK. Thank you.

Source: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/nature/importance-nature

Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth

We, the peoples of Earth:

 gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth gives us life, nourishes and teaches us and provides us with all that we need to live well;

recognizing that Mother Earth is an indivisible community of diverse and interdependent beings with whom we share a common destiny and to whom we must relate in ways that benefit Mother Earth;acknowledging that by attempting to dominate and exploit Mother Earth and other beings, humans have caused severe destruction, degradation and disruption of the life-sustaining communities, processes and balances of Mother Earth which now threatens the wellbeing and existence of many beings;

conscious that this destruction is also harmful to our inner wellbeing and is offensive to the many faiths, wisdom traditions and indigenous cultures for whom Mother Earth is sacred;

acutely conscious of the critical importance and urgency of taking decisive, collective action to prevent humans causing climate change and other impacts on Mother Earth that threaten the wellbeing and survival of humans and other beings;

accepting our responsibility to one another, future generations and Mother Earth to heal the damage caused by humans and to pass on to future generations values, traditions, and institutions that support the flourishing of Mother Earth;

convinced that in order for communities of humans and other beings to flourish we must establish systems for governing human behavior that recognize the inalienable rights of Mother Earth and of all beings that are part of her;

convinced that the fundamental freedoms and rights of Mother Earth and of all beings should be protected by the rule of law, and that the corresponding duties of human beings to respect and defend these rights and freedoms should be enforced by law;

proclaim this Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth to complement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to serve as a common standard by which the conduct of all human beings, organizations, and cultures can be guided and assessed; and

pledge ourselves to cooperate with other human communities, public and private organizations, governments, and the United Nations, to secure the universal and effective recognition and observance of the fundamental freedoms, rights and duties enshrined in this Declaration, among all the peoples, cultures and states of Earth.

Article 1.           Fundamental rights, freedoms and duties

(1)   Mother Earth is an indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings each of whom is defined by its relationships within this community and with the Universe as a whole. Fundamental aspects of these relationships are expressed in this Declaration as inalienable rights, freedoms and duties.

(2)   These fundamental rights, freedoms and duties arise from the same source as existence and are inherent to all beings, consequently they are inalienable, cannot be abolished by law, and are not affected by the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory within which a being exists.

(3)   All beings are entitled to all the fundamental rights and freedoms recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic, living beings and inorganic, non-living beings, or on the basis of sentience, kind, species, use to humans, or other status.

(4)   Just as human beings have human rights, other beings may also have additional rights, freedoms and duties that are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.

(5)   The rights of each being are limited by the rights of other beings to the extent necessary to maintain the integrity, balance and health of the communities within which it exists.

Article 2.           Fundamental rights of Mother Earth

Mother Earth has the right to exist, to persist and to continue the vital cycles, structures, functions and processes that sustain all beings.

Article 3.           Fundamental rights and freedoms of all beings

Every being has:

(a)   the right to exist;

(b)   the right to habitat or a place to be;

(c)   the right to participate in accordance with its nature in the ever-renewing processes of Mother Earth;

(d)   the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating being;

(e)   the right to be free from pollution, genetic contamination and human modifications of its structure or functioning that threaten its integrity or healthy functioning; and

(f)     the freedom to relate to other beings and to participate in communities of beings in accordance with its nature.

Article 4.           Freedom of animals from torture and cruelty

Every animal has the right to live free from torture, cruel treatment or punishment by human beings.

Article 5.           Freedom of animals from confinement and removal from habitat

(1)   No human being has the right to confine another animal or to remove it from its habitat unless doing so is justifiable with reference to the respective rights, duties and freedoms of both the human and other animal concerned.

(2)   Any human being that confines or keeps another animal must ensure that it is free to express normal patterns of behavior, has adequate nourishment and is protected from injury, disease, suffering and unreasonable fear, pain, distress or discomfort.

Article 6.           Fundamental duties of human beings

Human beings have a special responsibility to avoid acting in violation of this Declaration and must urgently establish values, cultures, and legal, political, economic and social systems consistent with this Declaration that:

(a)   promote the full recognition, application and enforcement of the freedoms, rights and duties set out in this Declaration;

(b)   ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth, now and in the future;

(c)   prevent humans from causing harmful disruptions of vital ecological cycles, processes and balances, and from compromising the genetic viability and continued survival of other species;

(d)   ensure that the damage caused by human violations of the freedoms, rights and duties in this Declaration is rectified where possible and that those responsible are held accountable for restoring the integrity and healthy functioning of affected communities; and

(e)   enable people to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings.

Source: https://www.navdanya.org/earth-university/universal-declaration-of-the-rights-of-mother-earth

Mother Nature by Angelique Kidjo

Don’t ever let them hurt you in any way
Oh, never let them steal and take the best of you
Keep building cities from the ground
We’re rising with the waves
Don’t ever let them hurt you in any way
Oh, never let them steal and take the best of you
Keep building cities from the ground
We’re rising with the waves
Mother Nature has a way of warning us
A time bomb set on a lost countdown
Do you hear it?
Will you stop it?
Won’t you listen?
Aminssiamin nin va mian lébé nin hihé a min
Aminssiamin ké lé ayin gban ya djia edo la noussi lo
Each one of us each one of us
We need each other
We need each other
We need each other now
Each one of us each one of us
We need each other
Don’t ever let them hurt you in any way
Oh, never let them steal and take the best of you
Keep building cities from the ground
We’re rising with the waves
Mother Nature has a way of warning us
A time bomb set on a lost countdown
Will you find it?
Will you stop it?
Won’t you listen?
We need each other now
We need each other now
Each one of us each one of us
We need each other
Aminssiamin nin va mian lébé nin hihé a min
Aminssiamin ké lé ayin gban ya djia edo la noussi lo
I know we are humain
But why can’t we use gifts she’s given us
Mother Nature has a way of warning us
A time bomb set on a lost countdown
Do you hear it?
Will you stop it?
Won’t you listen?
Oh-h-h-h-h-h, ye ye ye ye ye ya ah

The Free Dreaming Sitar

13 Fun And Interesting Facts About The Sitar

Dubbed as one of the most popular Indian musical instruments, the sitar, derived from the Persian word sehtar, is a guitar-like stringed instrument with a signature reverberating buzz. It’s often associated with South Asian and Middle Eastern music, frequently appearing in classic and “old-time” movies. The sitar is filled with historic and familial significance. 

1. The Sitar Is Over 700 Years Old 

Although still popular to this day, the sitar is believed to have been invented in the 13th century, over 700 years ago.

It’s one of India’s oldest instruments, up there with the pakhawaj (a barrel-shaped drum), the sarangi (a non-fretted bowed instrument), and the sarod (a stringed instrument).

This makes the sitar older than the piano, the guitar, and the violin. 

2. No One Knows Where the Sitar Originated From

The origins of the sitar are still up for debate to this day.

Indian scholars claim it’s of Indian origins, but Western scholars believe it’s more likely to have originated from West Asia. 

In Muslim tradition, some scholars believe the sitar was invented—or, much accurately, developed—by Indo-Persian Sufi singer Amir Khusrow (c. 1253-1325).

Amir Khusrow is an iconic figure in the cultural history of India and is believed to have pioneered some of the major forms of Hindustani classical music. This includes the Tarana, Khyal, and Qawwali.

It’s likewise likely that the sitar is an evolved version of the Tritantri veena, a long-necked lute instrument that appeared in the 10th century.

Ravi Shankar, one of the world’s most famous sitarists, favors this theory. 

3. The First Sitar Only Had Three Strings

Early versions of the sitar only had three strings. In fact, the Persian word sehtar quite literally means “three-stringed.” 

During the 1700s, the sitar went from three to five strings, as was used in the Hamir-Raso by Rajasthan author Jodhraj.

Today, however, the instrument can have 18, 19, 20, and even 21 strings. 

Despite there being up to 21 strings, the sitar player only plays one set of strings.

The “playable” set comprises five to seven played strings, which pass over rounded frets and tuning pegs at the tip of the neck. 

The other set contains about 13 to 15 sympathetic strings of different lengths.

These strings run under the frets of the tuning pegs at the top edge of the neck.

The sympathetic strings vibrate in tune with the played strings. Each set comes with its own bridge. 

4. The Sitar is Extremely Difficult to Master

The sitar is one of the hardest classical instruments to master. It’s significantly more difficult to play than a guitar.

The pedagogy, the tuning, the fret count, and the entire musical system greatly differ from the latter. 

Although the basics aren’t particularly back-breaking, there’s a lot of interesting “rules” players must follow.

When playing the sitar, players must glide from one note to another while tuning the sympathetic strings.

Even the very act of fretting is challenging. 

The instrument is even tougher by the scope of the subject matter (Indian classical music). In a way, it’s like martial arts.

It takes years of lessons from respected masters to truly learn and master. 

5. Ravi Shankar Is India’s Most Popular Sitar Player

In India, Ravi Shankar was (and still is) considered the most virtuosic player of the sitar, so much so that the fully decorated “instrumental style” sitar is dubbed the Ravi Shankar style. 

He, along with his famous tabla player, Alla Rakha, is believed to have been responsible for introducing the sitar in Western culture in the 1960s.

6. George Harrison Learned the Sitar From Sitar Player Ravi Shankar 

Throughout the 20th century, Ravi had influenced musicians across the world—including the lead guitarist of The Beatles, George Harrison. 

Harrison used the sitar in The Beatles song, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” which contributed to the popularity of Indian music. 

Despite the song’s popularity, Shankar wasn’t impressed when he first heard Harrison playing the sitar.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said, in a BBC interview, “It sounded so strange, like an Indian villager trying to play the violin.” 

Harrison didn’t take offense to this, saying that the sitar on Norwegian Wood was, indeed, “very rudimentary.” He later visited India to master the sitar under Shankar. 

After several months of lessons, Harrison concluded that if he wanted to be acknowledged as a decent sitar player, he’ll have to take decades of lessons.

This further proves that, while anyone can play the sitar, not anyone can play it well. 

7. The Sitar Was Popularized in Pop Music in the 1960s

The 1960s Beatles song, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” is the first pop music that featured the sitar.

Thanks to its booming popularity, other famous bands started using the instrument to add a little flair to their songs.

This includes The Rolling Stones and The Doors. 

8. The Sitar is on of the Most Expensive Musical Instruments in India 

The cost of the sitar is determined by the instrument’s appearance, material, and manufacturer.

Depending on the quality, a sitar can cost anywhere between $300 to a whopping $15,000.

Some of the best sitars by Indian Musical Instruments Maker Heman & Co range from $3,600 to $14,000. 

George Harrison’s sitar, which he had bought for only a couple of dollars in the UK, was sold for $62,500 in the US as a collectible.

9. The Sitar Comes in Multiple Types 

There are multiple types of sitars, with the most popular being Kharak Pancham, Gandhar Pancham, and Surbahar. 

The Kharak Pancham, also known as the Ravi Shankar style, is a sitar with several playable strings and two extra bass strings.

It’s the most popular type of sitar, often decked in jewels and other decorations. 

The Gandhar Pancham, otherwise known as the Vilayat Khan style sitar, contains four drone strings, two melody strings, and 11 sympathetic strings.

It doesn’t contain any bass strings. 

Finally, the Surbahar, also known as the bass sitar, comes with three to four drone strings, four playing strings, and 11 sympathetic strings.

The Surbahar’s strings are thicker than the former two.

It also has a longer neck.

10. The Sitar Is Made Out of Four Primary Parts 

The sitar is approximately four feet long and made out of four primary parts: the Dand, the Tabli, the Gulu, and the Tumba. 

The Dand, also known as the fingerboard, is made out of Sheesham wood.

The Gulu is a block of wood that connects the Tabli, the sitar’s fundamental source of the sound, and the Tumba, the reverberating part of the sitar. 

In a way, the sitar looks fairly similar to the Tambura, another popular long-necked stringed instrument in India. 

11. Sitars Can Last up to 45 Years in Good Condition 

Sitars have an average life expectancy of 30 to 45 years, depending on the quality of care given to the instrument. 

High-quality sitars can last up to 75 to 100 years, but they’re more of a collectible than a playable instrument. 

Over time, the sitar’s neck will bend due to the tension from the strings, making it harder to play.

The neck and the strings of the sitar will have to be replaced every 20 or so years for it to be in playing condition. 

12. The Sitar Is Commonly Played With a Mezrab

The mezrab is the sitar equivalent of a guitar pick.

The mezrab is made of stiff steel and is worn on the index finger of the sitar player.

Some players wear a second mezrab on their middle fingers to assist them with playing. 

13. The Sitar Takes Hours to Make

Not only is the sitar difficult to play, but it’s also difficult to make. 

Most sitars are made by hand to preserve the quality and integrity of the instrument.

On average, it takes up to 12 hours to make a single sitar from scratch.

David Courtney, a teacher of Indian music, wrote a simplified guide for making the sitar. 

Source: https://hellomusictheory.com/learn/facts-about-the-sitar/

Anoushka Shankar: Music Makes The World A Better Place

Esoteric, eclectic and prolific, the Indian sitarist and composer Anoushka Shankar has mapped out an intriguing artistic path by delivering intriguing music that has veered between the modern and the traditional. Her ambitious, progressive and multicultural musical world view has been growing exponentially from a record to record and has taken her on a path of creating music without borders. For the past 20 years, she has been crossing border after border and culture with culture, and most of the time with some truly striking results. Her musical achievements were compiled in a retrospective overview of her career titled Reflections that grasps 20 years as a solo artist and more.

Reflections encapsulates a remarkable and unprecedented career. But, unlike most artists who use compilations as a springboard for gathering their best moments and nothing more, Reflections offers more than that as obviously the criteria for selecting this music is more emotional and personal than merely a greatest hits compilation. The selections’ backgrounds were detailed in the album’s illustrious booklet and they reveal Shankar’s past, present and the future i.e. where she came from, where she is at the moment and what she stands for as an activist, a parent, as a musician and it offers a glimpse where her muse might take her in her future explorations. During the first half of 2019, Anoushka Shankar will be touring the US and in May she will play in Paris at the Philip Glass Weekend where she will perform the music from sitarist Ravi Shankar and composer Philip Glass’ album Passages (Private Music, 1990).

All About Jazz: The choice of songs on Reflections is more emotional rather which makes it more than a mere collection of greatest hits, and the liner note denote that these map different moments in your personal life. What narrative do you feel these songs reflect for you?

Anoushka Shankar: I struggled to choose how to select songs for this compilation. I didn’t know whether to choose my personal favourite songs or which mood I might want to follow; for example most of my albums have songs that are very energetic and also songs that are very mellow and I could have pitched this any number of ways. I ended up choosing an emotional arc and to try and see my own journey as a composer and musician through these albums that I have made over the past 20 years. It was strange to realize it had been that long since I had started making records and I was very grateful to have the opportunity to create this compilation.

AAJ: The music covers a period of 20 years and the selections come from different periods and the playlist isn’t linearly assembled. What does the compilation say about your evolution both as a musician and composer?

AS: I do worry about sounding prideful but I am grateful to see some growth as a composer and musician across these albums; in no way do I feel done with that journey and I hope I will continue to grow over the coming years if I have the opportunity to keep making albums and music. I feel like my choices have changed over the years; and often I can struggle in any given moment when making music between whether I am thinking as an instrumentalist or as a composer as often my choices might be in opposition to each other. On ‘Rise’ for example it was my first album as a composer and I really stepped back as a sitarist. In fact on two songs there is no sitar playing whatsoever. I think this is an area where I have found some comfort over the years and managed to strike a bit more of a balance so that I can tell a story with my instrument and other voices as well.

AAJ: Throughout your career as an artist apart from Indian classical music there is a great deal of shape shifting and a desire to mix different influences and sounds into your own music and you have collaborated with a diverse cast of people. Where did the idea and desire to mix different musics, sounds and cultures come from? What has motivated you to constantly stretch your musical boundaries?

AS: The initial idea and desire to mix different music, sounds and cultures came from a desire to represent myself and my own life experiences within the music I was making as someone who has grown up across three continents and lived a very multicultural life. As far as what’s motivated me to constantly stretch my boundaries: I am interested in growth and learning as a human being and I feel very excited by and grateful for the fact that as an artist I can use my work to interact with new cultures, learn about new people, learn about myself, have catharsis and hopefully have connection with other human beings and possibly even help people through music as well.

AAJ: The record Home (Deutsche Grammophon, 2015) is your returning to classical Indian music after years of experimenting and crossing musical borders.What keeps your interest in Indian classical music alive given all of the types of music you have been exposed to?

AS: Indian classical music is completely unique and has so much to offer the world. It has a fascinating dichotomy and juxtaposition in that it is simultaneously centuries and at times millennia old but also completely of the present moment through its oral tradition and improvisatory nature. It has been an incredible life lesson for me to learn how to be rooted and yet have a sense of my own individuality, to respect traditions whilst also moving forwards in time and also to feel that balance between spirituality and entertainment within music.

AAJ: The album Land of Gold (Deutsche Grammophon, 2016) dealt with issues with refugee crisis and the misfortunes of the uprooted people. How did the subject matter affect you personally and creatively when you explored it so deeply?

AS: Making Land of Gold came about simply by having a very emotional response of rage and heartbreak at watching the refugee crisis unfold as it did. At the time I was making the album I had also recently given birth to my second son and the dire contrast between my experience of raising my children and what I was seeing people go through was what really led me to go deeply into the issue on the album.

AAJ: Since we are live in complex and controversial times, how do you feel music can contribute to making this world to be a better place in this era?

AS: I think art forms in general help people to connect to their spirits, their emotions, and to a place of empathy. Empathy, I think is one of the most important human emotions which leads to compassion and connection between people. Music in particular can be so transcendent and helps people to reconnect to their hearts, to be exposed to different cultures and therefore it plays a hugely important role in making the world a better place.

AAJ: The song «Beloved» reveals a spiritual side to your music. In what way does spirituality inspires the music you do?

AS: Perhaps Beloved reveals a spiritual side to my music in a slightly more overt way simply because it has lyrics. I do try to find a spiritual connection in a lot of my music, or to put it more accurately, find a spiritual connection for myself often through music. Music was really a way through which I learnt about my own personal spiritual path and is of course at the heart of who I am and what I do. On ‘Beloved’ I was inspired by a template of songs I grew up listening to and had seen performed in dance performances when I was a child and I wanted to write a song about the Hindu god Krishna in a way that resonated for myself.

AAJ: The song that closes Reflection «Say your Prayers» (from the Land of Gold) is a lullaby for your second child who was born during the recording of this album. How has being a parent influenced your music?

AS: Being a mother has obviously influenced who I am; has influenced my life in an incredibly dramatic and profound way and therefore has obviously influenced my music as well. In some ways I think it has changed the perception I have about what music is in my life or at least what my music career in my life because it is of course less important than my children. Being a mother has obviously changed my world view and passion for the state of the world and I do believe this comes out in my music as well.

AAJ: Your work with producer and percussionist Karsh Kale has yielded some fantastic music on Breathing Under Water (Manhattan). Please talk your friendship and working partnership with Karsh Kale that helped produce the music on this record.

AS: Karsh and I had been friends and had become close for a good year or two before we decided to start working on ‘Breathing Under Water.’ In fact we had many close friends by that time with whom we had each both worked intensely with, for example Gaurav Raina from the group Midival Punditz. When we worked together for the very first time, it was actually a very impulsive hotel room jam with Gaurav and a couple of other friends but I think we both found a real ease with writing together that night and that song ended up becoming ‘Sea Dreamer’ from the album Breathing Under Water and led to us wanting to develop the whole album together.

AAJ: Throughout your career you had an opportunity to work and learn with such luminaries starting from your father to Yehudi Menuhin, Zubin Mehta, George Harrison, Sting, Concha Buika, producers Javier Limon and Nitin Sawhney, to name but a few. How have these people influenced your views and ideas about music and how have they stretched your own understanding and boundaries?

AS: I have been incredibly blessed to interact with, work with, and learn from incredible artists right from the beginning of my career. Some of the people my father was close to and had artistic collaborations with had a profound impact on me because I saw them making music at close range from when I was young. George Harrison in particular is someone who, in particular, really influenced me as I had a lifetime of being close to him but also got to work with him more intimately on my father’s album Chants of India (Angel Records, 1997) which he produced and I conducted. Working with him and my father together as a fifteen year old was hugely eye opening. Beyond that I have continued to collaborate with people who inspire me from across musical cultures and I count each collaboration as an enriching experience especially when I have had to push myself out of my own skillset in order to find a common language with others.

AAJ: Ravi Shankar is a prominent figure in your life and very early you began studying and working with him. Reflection opens with a song devoted to him sang in duet with your sister Norah Jones and you perform one of his compositions «Pacham Se Gara.» How do you look back at your tenure in his group during your formative years?

AS: I began learning with my father when I was seven and touring with him as part of his ensemble from when I was thirteen. By the time I was sixteen I was opening for all his concerts and continued to be a part of his ensemble for more than a decade even after I had began my own solo career aged eighteen. As anyone might imagine, this was an incredibly intense relationship, because it was decades of learning from and collaborating with someone who was also my parent. When I look back I am blown away by how much I learnt from that experience. It’s a common part of Indian classical music training to continue to be taught on stage in this manner since it is an oral tradition often that is one the best way for a disciple to learn from a guru; to be coached in the art of performing and improvising simultaneously and so those years were really precious for me learning how to be a musician but also leaning how to be a performer and how to go deep within as a musician whilst also being aware of the audience.

AAJ: Why do you think there’s been such an enduring interest in your father’s music?

AS: Because it’s unique, incredible and transcendent, and because he was one the greatest artists of the 20th Century and I think it is impossible to minimize his impact on music around the globe.

AAJ: What are the benefits and drawbacks of being associated with your father’s legacy?

AS: I try not to think in terms of benefits and drawbacks in relation to my father. I have been asked my whole life about whether being his daughter was been a blessing or curse, or whether his legacy was a shadow or a boon and all those years of being asked that question has just meant that I have tried to explain that it was simply my experience of being his daughter and being his student, I have nothing else to compare it to or nothing I can change or would change. I have obviously had huge benefits, primarily through the direct experience of learning under a master and also through the exposure I got at the beginning of my career through being his daughter that equally came with some difficulties because I was very much in the public eye as a very young musician before I had really developed into an adult performer, and also meant that no matter what I may achieve in my career, some people may only think its because of who my father is. Realizing that meant that very early I tried to ignore those external experiences and just try to be clear on why I make music and what I want to do with it.

AAJ: This May, you will be performing in Paris at the Philip Glass weekend where you will be performing the music from the famed Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar collaboration Passages. (Private Music, 1990). This will be its second performance (first time it was in 2017 at the BBC Proms). What it’s like to be performing this music by these two luminaries?

AS: It feels incredible getting to play this music, not just because of the two composers as the giants they are, but also because this is an album that I watched being recorded as a young child and has been one of my favourite albums my whole life. To be a part of its premier and sit in the middle of the music as it were, feeling surrounded by the orchestra, hearing this music I know so well has been absolutely wonderful and I am so excited to be getting to do it again.

AAJ: Will a live recording of you playing this music ever be released?

AS: I certainly hope so.

AAJ: What the future holds for you?

AS:I am currently working a new album, touring quite intensively, and seeking to take on more commission work so that I can be home with my kids more.

Source: https://www.allaboutjazz.com/anoushka-shankar-music-plays-a-hugely-important-role-in-making-the-world-a-better-place-by-nenad-georgievski

«Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.»

EBook of Nature, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson, (born May 25, 1803, BostonMassachusetts, U.S.—died April 27, 1882, Concord, Massachusetts), American lecturer, poet, and essayist, the leading exponent of New England Transcendentalism.

Early life and works

Emerson was the son of the Reverend William Emerson, a Unitarian clergyman and friend of the arts. The son inherited the profession of divinity, which had attracted all his ancestors in direct line from Puritan days. The family of his mother, Ruth Haskins, was strongly Anglican, and among influences on Emerson were such Anglican writers and thinkers as Ralph CudworthRobert LeightonJeremy Taylor, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

On May 12, 1811, Emerson’s father died, leaving the son largely to the intellectual care of Mary Moody Emerson, his aunt, who took her duties seriously. In 1812 Emerson entered the Boston Public Latin School, where his juvenile verses were encouraged and his literary gifts recognized. In 1817 he entered Harvard College (later Harvard University), where he began his journals, which may be the most remarkable record of the “march of Mind” to appear in the United States. He graduated in 1821 and taught school while preparing for part-time study in the Harvard Divinity School.

Though Emerson was licensed to preach in the Unitarian community in 1826, illness slowed the progress of his career, and he was not ordained to the Unitarian ministry at the Second Church, Boston, until 1829. There he began to win fame as a preacher, and his position seemed secure. In 1829 he also married Ellen Louisa Tucker. When she died of tuberculosis in 1831, his grief drove him to question his beliefs and his profession. But in the previous few years Emerson had already begun to question Christian doctrines. His older brother William, who had gone to Germany, had acquainted him with the new biblical criticism and the doubts that had been cast on the historicity of miracles. Emerson’s own sermons, from the first, had been unusually free of traditional doctrine and were instead a personal exploration of the uses of spirit, showing an idealistic tendency and announcing his personal doctrine of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Indeed, his sermons had divested Christianity of all external or historical supports and made its basis one’s private intuition of the universal moral law and its test a life of virtuous accomplishment. Unitarianism had little appeal to him by now, and in 1832 he resigned from the ministry.

Mature life and works

When Emerson left the church, he was in search of a more certain conviction of God than that granted by the historical evidences of miracles. He wanted his own revelation—i.e., a direct and immediate experience of God. When he left his pulpit he journeyed to Europe. In Paris he saw Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu’s collection of natural specimens arranged in a developmental order that confirmed his belief in man’s spiritual relation to nature. In England he paid memorable visits to Samuel Taylor ColeridgeWilliam Wordsworth, and Thomas Carlyle. At home once more in 1833, he began to write Nature and established himself as a popular and influential lecturer. By 1834 he had found a permanent dwelling place in Concord, Massachusetts, and in the following year he married Lydia Jackson and settled into the kind of quiet domestic life that was essential to his work.

The 1830s saw Emerson become an independent literary man. During this decade his own personal doubts and difficulties were increasingly shared by other intellectuals. Before the decade was over his personal manifestos—Nature, “The American Scholar,” and the divinity school Address—had rallied together a group that came to be called the Transcendentalists, of which he was popularly acknowledged the spokesman. Emerson helped initiate Transcendentalism by publishing anonymously in Boston in 1836 a little book of 95 pages entitled Nature. Having found the answers to his spiritual doubts, he formulated his essential philosophy, and almost everything he ever wrote afterward was an extension, amplification, or amendment of the ideas he first affirmed in Nature.

Emerson’s religious doubts had lain deeper than his objection to the Unitarians’ retention of belief in the historicity of miracles. He was also deeply unsettled by Newtonian physics’ mechanistic conception of the universe and by the Lockean psychology of sensation that he had learned at Harvard. Emerson felt that there was no place for free will in the chains of mechanical cause and effect that rationalist philosophers conceived the world as being made up of. This world could be known only through the senses rather than through thought and intuition; it determined men physically and psychologically; and yet it made them victims of circumstance, beings whose superfluous mental powers were incapable of truly ascertaining reality.

Emerson reclaimed an idealistic philosophy from this dead end of 18th-century rationalism by once again asserting the human ability to transcend the materialistic world of sense experience and facts and become conscious of the all-pervading spirit of the universe and the potentialities of human freedom. God could best be found by looking inward into one’s own self, one’s own soul, and from such an enlightened self-awareness would in turn come freedom of action and the ability to change one’s world according to the dictates of one’s ideals and conscience. Human spiritual renewal thus proceeds from the individual’s intimate personal experience of his own portion of the divine “oversoul,” which is present in and permeates the entire creation and all living things, and which is accessible if only a person takes the trouble to look for it. Emerson enunciates how “reason,” which to him denotes the intuitive awareness of eternal truth, can be relied upon in ways quite different from one’s reliance on “understanding”—i.e., the ordinary gathering of sense-data and the logical comprehension of the material world. Emerson’s doctrine of self-sufficiency and self-reliance naturally springs from his view that the individual need only look into his own heart for the spiritual guidance that has hitherto been the province of the established churches. The individual must then have the courage to be himself and to trust the inner force within him as he lives his life according to his intuitively derived precepts.

Obviously these ideas are far from original, and it is clear that Emerson was influenced in his formulation of them by his previous readings of Neoplatonist philosophy, the works of Coleridge and other European Romantics, the writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg, Hindu philosophy, and other sources. What set Emerson apart from others who were expressing similar Transcendentalist notions were his abilities as a polished literary stylist able to express his thought with vividness and breadth of vision. His philosophical exposition has a peculiar power and an organic unity whose cumulative effect was highly suggestive and stimulating to his contemporary readers’ imaginations.

In a lecture entitled “The American Scholar” (August 31, 1837), Emerson described the resources and duties of the new liberated intellectual that he himself had become. This address was in effect a challenge to the Harvard intelligentsia, warning against pedantry, imitation of others, traditionalism, and scholarship unrelated to life. Emerson’s “Address at Divinity College,” Harvard University, in 1838 was another challenge, this time directed against a lifeless Christian tradition, especially Unitarianism as he had known it. He dismissed religious institutions and the divinity of Jesus as failures in man’s attempt to encounter deity directly through the moral principle or through an intuited sentiment of virtue. This address alienated many, left him with few opportunities to preach, and resulted in his being ostracized by Harvard for many years. Young disciples, however, joined the informal Transcendental Club (founded in 1836) and encouraged him in his activities.

In 1840 he helped launch The Dial, first edited by Margaret Fuller and later by himself, thus providing an outlet for the new ideas Transcendentalists were trying to present to America. Though short-lived, the magazine provided a rallying point for the younger members of the school. From his continuing lecture series, he gathered his Essays into two volumes (1841, 1844), which made him internationally famous. In his first volume of Essays Emerson consolidated his thoughts on moral individualism and preached the ethics of self-reliance, the duty of self-cultivation, and the need for the expression of self. The second volume of Essays shows Emerson accommodating his earlier idealism to the limitations of real life; his later works show an increasing acquiescence to the state of things, less reliance on self, greater respect for society, and an awareness of the ambiguities and incompleteness of genius.

His Representative Men (1849) contained biographies of Plato, Swedenborg, MontaigneShakespeareNapoleon, and Goethe. In English Traits he gave a character analysis of a people from which he himself stemmed. The Conduct of Life (1860), Emerson’s most mature work, reveals a developed humanism together with a full awareness of human limitations. It may be considered as partly confession. Emerson’s collected Poems (1846) were supplemented by others in May-Day (1867), and the two volumes established his reputation as a major American poet.

By the 1860s Emerson’s reputation in America was secure, for time was wearing down the novelty of his rebellion as he slowly accommodated himself to society. He continued to give frequent lectures, but the writing he did after 1860 shows a waning of his intellectual powers. A new generation knew only the old Emerson and had absorbed his teaching without recalling the acrimony it had occasioned. Upon his death in 1882 Emerson was transformed into the Sage of Concord, shorn of his power as a liberator and enrolled among the worthies of the very tradition he had set out to destroy.

Emerson’s voice and rhetoric sustained the faith of thousands in the American lecture circuits between 1834 and the American Civil War. He served as a cultural middleman through whom the aesthetic and philosophical currents of Europe passed to America, and he led his countrymen during the burst of literary glory known as the American renaissance (1835–65). As a principal spokesman for Transcendentalism, the American tributary of European Romanticism, Emerson gave direction to a religious, philosophical, and ethical movement that above all stressed belief in the spiritual potential of every person.

Source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ralph-Waldo-Emerson

15 Facts about Ralph Waldo Emerson

Born in Boston in 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was a writer, lecturer, poet, and Transcendentalist thinker. Dubbed the «Sage of Concord,» Emerson discussed his views on individualism and the divine in essays such as «Self-Reliance» and «Nature,» and he emerged as one of the preeminent voices of his generation, both in his lifetime and in the annals of history.

1. HE LOST HIS FATHER AT AN EARLY AGE.

Emerson’s father, Reverend William Emerson, was a prominent Boston resident who worked as a Unitarian minister. But he didn’t focus solely on matters of God and religion. William Emerson also organized meetings of intellectuals, bringing together open-minded people from a variety of backgrounds to discuss philosophy, science, and books. Unfortunately, Emerson’s father died of either stomach cancer or tuberculosis in 1811, when Emerson was just 7 years old. Emerson’s mother, Ruth, and his aunts raised him and his five remaining siblings (a brother and sister had previously died young).

2. HE WAS HARVARD’S CLASS POET.

After studying at the Boston Latin School (which is now the oldest school in the U.S.), Emerson began college at 14, a common occurrence at the time. At Harvard College, he learned Latin, Greek, geometry, physics, history, and philosophy. In 1821, after four years of studying there, Emerson agreed to write and deliver a poem for Harvard’s Class Day (then called Valedictorian Day), a pre-graduation event. Was he the best poet in the class? Not exactly. The faculty asked a few other students to be Class Poet, but they turned down the post, so Emerson got the gig.

3. HE RAN A SCHOOL FOR GIRLS.

After graduating from Harvard, Emerson went home to teach young women. His older brother, William, ran a school for girls in their mother’s Boston home, and Emerson helped him teach students. Later, when William left to study in Germany, Emerson ran the school himself. He reportedly disliked teaching, though, so he moved on to plan B: grad school.

4. THEN HE SWITCHED GEARS AND BECAME A MINISTER.

In 1825, Emerson enrolled at Harvard Divinity School. He decided to become a minister, following in his father’s (and grandfather’s) footsteps. Despite struggling with vision problems and failing to graduate from his program, Emerson became licensed to preach in 1826. He then worked at a Unitarian church in Boston.

5. HE WAS FRIENDS WITH NAPOLEON BONAPARTE’S NEPHEW.

In late 1826, Emerson wasn’t feeling well. He suffered from tuberculosis, joint pain, and vision problems, so he followed medical advice and went south for a warmer climate near the ocean. After spending time in Charleston, South Carolina, Emerson headed to St. Augustine, Florida, where he preached and wrote poetry. He also met and befriended Prince Achille Murat, the nephew of the former French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who had renounced his European titles (though his father had already been overthrown) and immigrated to the United States. Murat was also a writer, and the two young men reportedly discussed religion, politics, and philosophy.

6. HIS YOUNG WIFE DIED OF TUBERCULOSIS.

When Emerson was 26, he married 18-year-old Ellen Louisa Tucker. The newlyweds lived happily in Boston, but Tucker was suffering from tuberculosis. Emerson’s mother helped take care of her son’s ailing wife, but in 1831, less than two years after getting married, Ellen passed away. Emerson dealt with his grief by writing in his journals («Will the eye that was closed on Tuesday ever beam again in the fullness of love on me? Shall I ever be able to connect the face of outward nature, the mists of the morn, the star of eve, the flowers and all poetry with the heart and life of an enchanting friend? No. There is one birth and baptism and one first love and the affections cannot keep their youth any more than men.»), traveling, and visiting her grave. The next year, after an extended period of soul-searching, he decided to leave the ministry to become a secular thinker.

7. HE GAVE MORE THAN 1500 LECTURES, WHICH MADE HIM RICH.

In 1833, Emerson turned his love of writing into a career as a frequent lecturer. He traveled around New England reading his essays and speaking to audiences about his views on nature, the role of religion, and his travels. In 1838, Emerson gave one of his most famous talks, a commencement speech to graduating students of the Harvard Divinity School. His «Divinity School Address» was radical and controversial at the time, since he expressed his Transcendentalist views of individual power over religious doctrine. He also argued that Jesus Christ was not God, a heretical idea at the time. In cities such as Boston, he paid his own money to rent a hall and advertise his speaking event. Emerson packaged some of his lectures into a series, speaking on a certain theme for several events. Ticket sales were high, and the «Sage of Concord» was able to support his family and buy land thanks to his lectures.

8. HE CRITICIZED JANE AUSTEN’S WRITING.

Although many readers love Jane Austen’s novels, Emerson was not a fan. In his notebooks (published posthumously), he criticized her characters’ single-minded focus on marriage in Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. He also called Austen’s writing vulgar in tone and sterile in creativity. «I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels at so high a rate,» he wrote. «Never was life so pinched and so narrow … Suicide is more respectable.»

9. HE NAMED HIS DAUGHTER AFTER HIS FIRST WIFE.

In 1835, Emerson married Lydia Jackson (nickname: Lidian), an abolitionist and animal rights activist. The couple had four children—Waldo, Ellen, Edith, and Edward—and they named their first daughter Ellen Tucker to honor Emerson’s first wife. Besides naming his daughter after her, Emerson also kept his first wife’s rocking chair to remind himself of his love for her.

10. HE GREATLY INFLUENCED HENRY DAVID THOREAU.

No biography of writer and thinker Henry David Thoreau would be complete without mentioning Emerson’s impact on the «Civil Disobedience» essayist. Emerson gave Thoreau housing and money, encouraged him to keep a journal, and let him have land to build a cabin on Walden Pond. The two friends often discussed Transcendentalism, and Thoreau thought of Emerson’s wife Lidian as a sister. Although they had some intellectual disagreements, Emerson gave the eulogy at Thoreau’s 1862 funeral.

11. LOUISA MAY ALCOTT HAD A CRUSH ON HIM.

Emerson was friends and neighbors with Amos Bronson Alcott, the father of the Little Women author. Louisa May Alcott grew up surrounded by Emerson, Thoreau, and other Transcendentalist thinkers, and their works greatly influenced her. Emerson lent her books from his library and taught her about the joys of nature. She apparently wrote about her crushes on the much-older Emerson and Thoreau in one of her earliest works, a novel called Moods, and she was known to leave wildflowers near the front door of Emerson’s house.

12. MEETING ABRAHAM LINCOLN CHANGED HIS MIND ABOUT THE PRESIDENT.

Emerson wrote and lectured about the evils of slavery, and he frequently criticized President Lincoln for not doing enough to end it. In 1862, Emerson gave an anti-slavery lecture in Washington, D.C., and was invited to the White House to meet Lincoln. After the meeting, Emerson praised Lincoln’s charisma and storytelling ability («When he has made his remark, he looks up at you with a great satisfaction, and shows all his white teeth, and laughs»), saying that the president «impressed me more favorably than I had hoped.» Emerson also called Lincoln a sincere, well-meaning man with a boyish cheerfulness and clarity in speech.

13. HE PRAISED WALT WHITMAN WHEN FEW OTHERS WOULD, BUT FELT BURNED WHEN WHITMAN PUBLISHED HIS PRIVATE LETTERS.

After reading one of Emerson’s poems, Walt Whitman felt inspired. In 1855, he self-published Leaves of Grass and sent a copy to Emerson. The controversial collection of poems by the unknown poet got horrible reviews—it was routinely called obscene and profane, and one critic called it «a mass of stupid filth.» Sales were dismal. But Emerson read the book and wrote a laudatory letter to Whitman, calling the work a «wonderful gift» and «the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed.»

Thanks to Emerson’s encouragement, Whitman published a second edition of Leaves of Grass. However, Whitman printed Emerson’s words on the book’s spine and in a newspaper article. Emerson was reportedly surprised and annoyed that his private letter was made public without his permission, and he remained silent on his thoughts regarding Whitman from then on.

14. HE SUFFERED FROM MEMORY PROBLEMS LATE IN LIFE.

In the early 1870s, Emerson began forgetting things. Given his symptoms, most historians think Emerson suffered from Alzheimer’s, aphasia, or dementia. Although he had difficulty recalling certain words, he continued to lecture until a few years before his death. Despite forgetting his own name and the names of his friends, Emerson reportedly kept a positive attitude towards his declining mental faculties (much as his first wife did while she was dying of tuberculosis).

15. HE HELPED DESIGN THE CEMETERY HE’S BURIED IN.

When Emerson died of pneumonia in 1882, he was buried on «Author’s Ridge» in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (not the same Sleepy Hollow as in the famed Washington Irving story)—a cemetery that was designed with Emerson’s Transcendentalist, nature-loving aesthetics in mind. In 1855, as a member of the Concord Cemetery Committee, Emerson gave the dedication at the opening of the cemetery, calling it a «garden of the living» that would be a peaceful place for both visitors and permanent residents. «Author’s Ridge» became a burial ground for many of the most famous American authors who called Concord home—Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and, of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Source: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/532658/facts-about-ralph-waldo-emerson

Still Ahead of His Time

Within living memory of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the authentic cultural voice of America had spoken, outlining the future of American science, philosophy, scholarship, poetry and even landscape design. Today, many people do not know Ralph Waldo Emerson, and many of those who do, consider him at best a 19th-century transcendentalist or, at worst, the Dale Carnegie of belles lettres. But Emerson, who was born 200 years ago this month, prophetically mastered a wisdom that could have saved us all a lot of trouble by clarifying our place in nature.

A gift seems to have been granted to certain people in the moments in history we call renaissance. One can hear the gift in the voice of that time—a confident exuberance, accepting the tragic aspect of life, but also full of hope and belief; capable of a genial irony but devoid of cynicism and academic intellectual vanity. It is a voice that more cynical or exhausted ages find annoying.

Emerson is a renaissance voice. Living in the afterglow of the New England Puritan age of faith, and in the dawn of America’s political, artistic and exploring power, Emerson combined a boisterous energy with a rational and judicious piety. Too intellectually adventurous to remain a Unitarian minister (he became fascinated by Hindu theology), he did not abandon his religious tradition altogether. At the center of his insights was a vision of nature’s intimate relationship with the human and the divine.

In 1836, Emerson caused a stir when he published a long essay, «Nature.» At 33, he had finally broken with his church, moved from Boston, where he was born and grew up, to Concord, Massachusetts, and set out to create his own theology. «Nature,» which Emerson revised and later published in a collection with the same title, would influence European thinkers such as Thomas Carlyle and Friedrich Nietzsche and would become an almost sacred text for Emerson’s American disciples, including Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott (the educator and abolitionist) and Margaret Fuller (the feminist), who went to sit at the feet of the prophet.

The ideas Emerson put forth in a second, more prophetic essay also entitled «Nature,» published in 1844, boil down to two concepts: first, that a purely scientific understanding of our physical being does not preclude a spiritual existence; second, that nature embodies a divine intelligence. Reconciling those views, he argued that we need fear neither scientific progress nor the grand claims of religion.

In one of his most striking prophecies, the Sage of Concord seems to have anticipated the theory of evolution by natural selection as it would be developed by Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species, published in 1859. Like Darwin, Emerson emphasizes the importance of the newly discovered antiquity of our planet: «Now we learn what patient periods must round themselves before the rock is formed, then before the rock is broken, and the first lichen race has disintegrated the thinnest external plate into soil, and opened the door for the remote Flora, Fauna, Ceres, and Pomona, to come in. How far off yet is the trilobite! how far the quadruped! how inconceivably remote is man!»

Emerson combines this idea with the observation by Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) that organisms tend to multiply beyond their resources, giving us a capsule version of natural selection. «The vegetable life,» Emerson says, again prefiguring Darwin, «does not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds, that, if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves, that hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity; that, at least one may replace the parent.» Certainly, with the parable of the sower, Jesus beat Emerson to the punch; but as Emerson himself might have said, there is a kinship among prophets, and they speak to each other across the millennia.

Emerson also seems to have anticipated by about 80 years Erwin Schrödinger’s and Albert Einstein’s discovery that matter is made of energy. «Compound it how she will, star, sand, fire, water, tree, man, it is still one stuff, and betrays the same properties,» Emerson writes, adding: «Without electricity the air would rot.»

Recognizing the mathematical basis of physical reality, he seems aware that the apparent solidity of matter is the illusion that physicists would later show it to be: «moon, plant, gas, crystal, are concrete geometry and numbers.» (I imagine Emerson would have been pleased by the discovery of quarks, which are bits of math spinning in a mathematical space-time field.) He already seems to intuit the Big Bang, the theory of the universe’s birth that would not appear for another hundred years. «That famous aboriginal push,» as he calls it, anticipating today’s scientific understanding of the universe, is a continuing process that «propagates itself through all the balls of the system; through every atom of every ball; through all the races of creatures, and through the history and performances of every individual.»

But Emerson is skeptical about the then-fashionable idea that nature was like a clockwork, a deterministic machine whose future—including our thoughts, feelings and actions—could be predicted if we knew everything that was happening at a prior moment. He, too, felt the «uneasiness which the thought of our helplessness in the chain of causes occasions us.» But instead of accepting our fate as parts of a machine, he exalts nature’s wonderful waywardness, which defies science’s attempts at perfect prediction.

Emerson is no less perceptive of human matters. He anticipates Abraham Maslow, the 20th-century psychologist, recognizing that we will pursue our higher, freer, more spiritual goals only after sating our lower ones. «Hunger and thirst lead us on to eat and to drink,» he says, «but bread and wine…leave us hungry and thirsty, after the stomach is full.» Before Freud, before the sociobiologists, Emerson realized the psychological implications of our animal descent. «The smoothest curled courtier in the boudoirs of a palace has an animal nature,» he says, «rude and aboriginal as a white bear.» But he draws conclusions that even now we have difficulty accepting—for example, that there is no meaningful distinction between the natural and artificial (or man-made). «Nature who made the mason, made the house,» he says. There is no point trying to go back to nature; we are already there.

America largely ignored Emerson’s insights about what is «natural» for a century and a half. Instead, we divided the world into the populated urban wasteland and the «empty» untouched wilderness. Thus we felt justified in uglifying our cities while attempting to eradicate all change and human agency from our national parks. If we feel alienated from nature, it is because we are suffering a hangover from a certain vanity of thought that would raise us above and out of nature. But Emerson sees nature as potentially improved by human beings and human beings as the epitome of nature. Such a view would lead, as it has begun to do recently, to an environmental ethic in which human activity can enrich nature, rather than just lay waste to it or fence it off. «Only as far as the masters of the world have called in nature to their aid, can they reach the height of magnificence,» he writes. «This is the meaning of their hanging-gardens, villas, garden-houses, islands, parks, and preserves.»

If we had heeded Emerson, we might also have avoided the huge and costly mistake of dividing academic life into two fire-walled regimes, the humanities and the sciences. The consequence was not only that we have had generations of ill-educated young—scientists who know no poetry, poets who know no science—but something even graver. Free will, if isolated from the controlling gentleness and complexity of nature, readily becomes the will to power, which can serve (and has) as a rationale for genocide. We are only now beginning to see the madness of where Western philosophy has led us. Emerson’s genial sanity can perhaps provide an antidote. As he says in «Politics,» published in 1844, «the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand, which perishes in the twisting; the State must follow and not lead the character and progress of the citizen….»

Perhaps Emerson’s most exciting prophetic insights are ones that have not yet been fully realized. Consider David Bohm’s idea of the «implicate order,» still only a gleam in the eye of physics, that all of physical reality might be thought of as a holographic projection. Emerson, intuiting that concept a century and a half ago, says that, «from any one object the parts and properties of any other may be predicted.» Like Stephen Wolfram, whose 2002 book A New Kind of Science advances a view of cosmology as the playing-out of a simple algorithm, Emerson suggested that the world is the result of a simple computational process repeated over and over. Emerson, like Wolfram, cites the seashell, saying of the «whole code of [nature’s] laws» that «Every shell on the beach is a key to it. A little water made to rotate in a cup explains the formation of the simpler shells; the addition of matter from year to year, arrives at last at the most complex forms….»

Emerson’s greatest challenge to contemporary thought may be his view of evolution as a purposeful natural process—an idea vehemently rejected today. He argues that evolution harbors its own divine spirit and, therefore, that the universe is bursting with meaning. In his own time, Emerson was accused of being a pantheist, or a believer in the idea that nature is God, but that accusation misses its mark. For Emerson, nature is not God but the body of God’s soul—»nature,» he writes, is «mind precipitated.» Emerson feels that to fully realize one’s role in this respect is to be in paradise. He ends «Nature» with these words: «Every moment instructs, and every object; for wisdom is infused into every form. It has been poured into us as blood; it convulsed us as pain; it slid into us as pleasure; it enveloped us in dull, melancholy days, or in days of cheerful labor; we did not guess its essence until after a long time.»

Certainly, Emerson’s prophecy did not encompass cell phones, nuclear radiation and molecular genetics. But the American renaissance, of which he could fairly be called the founder, deserves to be revisited if we ever gather our culture together again for another bout of supreme creativity.

Source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/still-ahead-of-his-time-82186396/

eBook of Essays, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Honey

Farewell, Olivia Newton-John: Why We Honestly Loved Her

Farewell, Olivia Newton-John, the eternally beloved pop queen who died Monday at age 73. No Seventies star had a weirder pop trajectory, going from the world’s favorite Australian country singer to a brazen Eighties black-leather New Wave diva in just a few years. But Olivia could do it all: weepy ballads like “I Honestly Love You,” country twang like “Let Me Be There,” Fifties pastiche in Grease. Disco show tunes with Gene Kelly and ELO in Xanadu. Heavy-breathing rock odes to sex like “Magic” and “Make a Move On Me.” These are all reasons why we loved Olivia Newton-John — we honestly loved her — and that’s why pop connoisseurs are mourning for her today.

Olivia could hop from genre to genre, but she threw herself into every style with the same effervescent hyper-glitz enthusiasm, which is why she never sounded the least bit phony. Before fans invented the terminology of stars having “eras,” Olivia perfected the concept, because she hit every stop on the radio dial, from ingenue to Xanadu.

Every fan’s got a favorite ONJ phase, but for me it’s the Seventies AM-radio soft-rock Olivia, when she kept finding new ways to get her heart broken on hit after hit. No happy songs for this lass. She was the star of the Mellow Era who actually had the gall to use the word “mellow” in a song title — her Number One therapy session, “Have You Never Been Mellow?” I still get that tragic feeling from “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Sam.” But my favorite Olivia ballad will always be “Please Mr. Please,” a country song about sitting in a Nashville bar by the jukebox, begging random cowboys not to play the tune that reminds her of him. “Don’t play B17 / It was our song, it was his song, but it’s over” — she sounded totally forlorn, vulnerable, but also a bit scary.

No other singer could get away with the over-the-top misery of “I Honestly Love You.” Olivia confesses her doomed crush on somebody she can never have, in her breathy whisper. She humiliates herself line by line, resigned to her heartbreak, refusing to even entertain the idea this notion might not be a total disaster. (She doesn’t even give her crush a chance to think about it.) “If we had both been born, in another place and time / This moment might have ended with a kiss” — the way her voice trembles on that line is always a punch in the aorta.

She grew up in Australia, the granddaughter of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born. She had an early go at English folk-pop stardom in the Sixties — with her angelic chirp, blonde hair, blue eyes, and blinding white teeth, she was like a G-rated version of Marianne Faithfull. In the 1970 sci-fi flop Toomorrow (yes, it’s spelled that way), she played the singer of a U.K. pop group abducted by aliens, but not even Olivia could save that concept.

Her first big splash came when she swerved into country music, in her long-running partnership with writer-producer John Farrar. She scored her first hit in 1971 covering Bob Dylan, of all people, “If Not For You,” soon followed by “Let Me Be There.” It was controversial when she won a country Grammy, but it was a flat-out scandal when this Aussie interloper won the Country Music Association award for Female Vocalist of the Year. George Jones and Tammy Wynette were so outraged, they organized other Nashville veterans in a CMA boycott and founded the “Association of Country Entertainers.” It didn’t last. (The next year, the top CMA award went to John Denver; when presenter Charlie Rich read the name from the envelope, he pulled out a lighter and burned it right there on the podium. Damn, country singers were mighty feisty about awards back then.)

After so many years as the most wholesome of pop singers, her Grease makeover in 1978 was a turning point. Like Sandy in the movie, Olivia got in touch with her bad-girl energy. The Grease soundtrack album became its own pop-culture phenomenon — it was one of those hit albums that people just refuse to stop buying, right up to the end of the century. “You’re the One That I Want” might have been a ringer — it had nothing to do with the Broadway musical or the Fifties concept. But it blew up into one of the era’s most irresistible hits: Olivia’s growl, John Travolta’s wounded yelps, that massive bassline, and a repeat-the-chorus outro that goes on forever, yet somehow always ends too soon.

Grease ended her Sandra Dee phase — once Olivia discovered the joys of black leather and sultry pouts, there was no turning back. Her next move was Totally Hot, where she sexed up her music and finally broke up with sad songs. She got more popular than ever. “I love commercial music,” John Lennon said in 1980, right before his death. “I like Olivia Newton-John singing ‘Magic,’ and Donna Summer singing whatever the hell it is she’ll be singing. I like the ELO singing ‘All Over the World.’ I can dissect it and criticize it with any critic in the business.’”

“Physical” is rightly her most famous hit — it was outrageous not because it was so explicit, but because it was so funny, with Olivia purring, “There’s nothing more to talk about unless it’s horizontally.” This was an era where it was rare to hear radio hits by 30-something adult women about boning their brains out, so the moms went bananas for this one, along with the kids and everyone else. You can hear a sly grin in her voice, but her vocal gets lustier as the song goes on, until the final choruses when she switches to “Let’s get animal! Animal! Let’s get into animal!

She took the “Physical” grin even further in her unjustly forgotten sequel, “Make a Move On Me” — it’s not as famous, probably because it’s not as filthy, but it’s a song that can aways turn anyone into a Solid Gold dancer. Her Eighties phase came to a fitting climax in 1985 with “Soul Kiss,” one of the era’s most explicit odes to oral sex that isn’t by Prince.

She devoted her later years to philanthropy and family, along with her long, brave public battle with cancer, but she never abandoned music. She recorded albums for Hallmark, plus a touching 1998 remake of “I Honestly Love You” with Babyface. Her best later album is This Christmas, an amazing 2012 set of holiday duets with John Travolta. When Olivia and John do “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” he’s is the one pleading he has to go home, while Olivia entices him to stay (“Gosh, Liv, I really do have to go,” “Been hoping, John, that you’d drop in”), until he finally shrugs, “Ugh, I’m stayin!” They also sing “Deck the Halls” with James Taylor and “Winter Wonderland” with Tony Bennett.

She inspired a superb tribute 2018 album from indie-rock legend Juliana Hatfield, illustrating how Olivia gave so many shy Gen X girls a voice they could recognize as their own. Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John put her songbook in a new light; Juliana’s “Make A Move On Me” is a real banger. (Olivia loved the album.) In Allison Anders’ 1992 drama Gas Food Lodging, Fairuza Balk is a small-town trailer-park kid who bonds with Donovan Leitch over Olivia’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 — he’s obsessed with quoting the line, “We have to believe we are magic,” until she realizes it’s his way of trying to tell her he’s gay.

There’s a touching Olivia shout-out in the 1999 comedy Dick, starring Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams as a couple of teen girls who bring down the Nixon administration. Williams breaks into the Oval Office and dictates a message to the President, by singing “I Honestly Love You.” (It turns out to be the 18-minute gap in the Watergate tapes.) Somehow, that moment seems to capture the earnest sincerity that the world alway treasured in Olivia’s voice. Rest in “Magic,” Olivia Newton-John.

Source: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/olivia-newton-john-rob-sheffield-1394426/

A woman for all seasons, Olivia will remain something specific and personal to each of us

In a career spanning six decades, Olivia Newton-John was a woman for all seasons: singer and songwriter, actor, activist, mother and health advocate. Searching her life for a single snapshot to frame, we turn easily to Sandy Olsson, the Australian schoolgirl who romantically upended the all-American Rydell High School in the film, Grease.

To generations of fans, it was the capstone of her career, where everyone who saw her became hopelessly devoted. It reflects the many ways people related to her, and now grieve for her. Olivia was a sister, a best friend, a secret crush and, for one glittering moment in Hollywood history, the new girl at school. As Rydell’s cheer queen Patty Simcox would have said, wasn’t she the most?

But the irony of trying to sum up a life with 110 minutes of American musical celluloid is that Olivia was so much more. In a stellar singing career, she gave voice to a stream of hits, among them, I Honestly Love You, Long Live Love, Xanadu, Physical and, courtesy of Grease, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted To You and You’re the One That I Want.

Those songs formed the soundtrack to our lives. That makes Monday, when Olivia died surrounded by family and friends including husband John Easterling at her horse ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley, outside Santa Barbara, California, a loss that cuts deeply. For many, a day the music died. Olivia was 73.

Olivia was born in 1948 in Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, but when she was six, her family emigrated to Melbourne, and for the rest of her life, she would be seen by the world as one of Australia’s greatest cultural assets. As her music career began to soar, she competed for the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, finishing fourth behind winners ABBA — 1974 was, as they say, a very good year.

American fame, however, would be more elusive, at least initially. Her first solo album, If Not for You, cracked only 168th place on the US charts. And her second album, Olivia, was not even given a US release. But she lived to fight another day, a textbook case of third time lucky: in 1973, the US release of her single, Let Me Be There, landed in the top 10 and everything changed overnight.

That single won her a Grammy Award for best female country performer and an Academy of Country Music award for most promising female vocalist. And the double win would be the match that lit the fire of an American ascendancy that would endure for decades.

When she arrived at Hollywood’s doorstep, she was in the mix for the role of Sandy in Grease, tasked with gliding into the chaos of Rydell High, re-meeting her summer romance Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and embarking on an all-singing, all-dancing transformation from doe-eyed backyard swing-sitter belting out Hopelessly Devoted To You to a leather-clad vamp for You’re The One That I Want.

But it was not Olivia’s first movie. That was Toomorrow, a 1970 British science fiction musical from James Bond producer Harry Saltzman which landed with a thud. It took two years to make and lasted only a week in cinemas. Asked about it by American interviewer Mike Douglas on the eve of the premiere of Grease, Olivia spoke with typical Australian frankness: “It was pretty bad.”

Even Olivia’s stellar turn in Grease might itself have never come to pass: she was not producer Alan Carr and director Randal Kleiser’s first choice for the role of Sandy. Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) and Susan Dey (The Partridge Family) were. The role was also offered to Marie Osmond, of Donny & Marie fame, who passed because she was uncomfortable with Sandy’s transformation from sweet to sexy in the film’s dénouement.

Like many Hollywood stories, however, the hand of fate intervened. Another legendary Australian, singer Helen Reddy, threw a dinner party in Los Angeles and invited Carr who ended up sitting across the table from Olivia. As Carr tells it, the moment they started speaking, he knew he had found his Sandy.

It was Olivia, Carr would later say, who needed persuading to say yes. She had been burned by her experience on Toomorrow and did not want to jeopardise a successful music career with another roll of the dice on silver screen fame. To persuade her, Carr changed Sandy from an American (as she is in the Broadway show) to an Australian, allowing Olivia to use her native accent.

“She had a brilliant voice, and I didn’t think there could be any more correct person for Sandy in the universe,” Travolta would later tellVanity Fair. “I never let up on it. I insisted that we cast her”.

After Grease’s success – The New York Times′ Vincent Canby described the film as “a larger, funnier, wittier and more imaginative-than-Hollywood movie with a life that is all its own” – Olivia’s American star was properly lit.

Her films were not always commercially successful, though. Xanadu and Two of a Kind, which reunited her with Travolta, were notable failures at the time, but Olivia somehow spun musical gold out of box office straw. The Xanadu soundtrack, a collaboration between Olivia and the Electric Light Orchestra, was a hit. And Two of a Kind gave her three more hits: Twist of Fate, Take a Chance and Livin’ in Desperate Times.

Then there was Physical, which came with a provocative, neon-powered music video that encapsulated the 1980s in just three minutes and 44 seconds. And Koala Blue, a retail empire that began with a single store on Los Angeles’ trendy Melrose Avenue and grew to 60 stores worldwide.

Like many things about the 1980s, however, as the blue eyeshadow faded, so did the business model. In the third act of her life, Olivia divided her time between Australia and California and focused on health and wellness, in part due to her own cancer diagnosis. She still wrote and recorded music, releasing work that was perhaps her most artful and creatively nuanced, even if it could never match the commercial enormity of Grease’s infectious, campy hits.

The measure of her legacy is the outpouring of love and reflection which followed the announcement of her death. “You made all of our lives so much better,” Grease co-star John Travolta said. “Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours, from the moment I saw you and forever. Your Danny, your John”.

Another longtime friend, singer Lorna Luft, who played the Pink Lady Paulette Rebchuck in Grease 2, described Olivia as an angel on Earth. “We shared being part of the Grease family, we also shared our battle [with cancer]. [You] brought awareness, dignity, honesty, knowledge and class to [your] fight and no one fought harder. [Your] phenomenal talent, generosity and friendship was unequalled.”

Grease director Kleiser said he was heartbroken. “She was one of a kind, and so very kind,” he said. “For over four decades of our friendship, she exuded nothing but love to everyone she met. Olivia was exactly the way you imagined her.” And her Grease co-star Stockard Channing spoke of “her sunniness, her warmth and her grace. I don’t know if I’ve known a lovelier human being.”

Actor Viola Davis thanked Olivia for creating “eternal memories”. And Olivia’s friend, pop star Rod Stewart, described her as “the perfect lady, gorgeous, with great poise and with a certain Aussie sophistication”. Australia’s own Kylie Minogue reflected on how, since she was a child, she “loved and looked up to Olivia Newton-John. She was, and always will be, an inspiration to me in so many, many ways”.

My own encounters with her were often unexpected and always delightful. We sat next to each other at British producer Nigel Lythgoe’s wedding in Las Vegas. And we shared a mutual friend in Luft. On one occasion, when the three of us were together, at Sydney’s Mardi Gras, Olivia and Lorna took great delight in introducing themselves to strangers as “Grease 1” and “Grease 2″.

Olivia will always be something specific and personal to each of us. In beloved motion pictures, like Grease and Xanadu, which evoke memories of our shared childhoods. And in still images, where her innocence and gentle demeanour, and her radiant beauty, are frozen in time. Olivia Newton-John and Sandy Olsson, forever, one and the same.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/culture/celebrity/a-woman-for-all-seasons-olivia-will-remain-something-specific-and-personal-to-each-of-us-20220809-p5b8hv.html

John Travolta And Olivia Newton John – You’re The One That I Want (Grease)

I got chills, they’re multiplying
And I’m losing control
‘Cause the power you’re supplying
It’s electrifying

You better shape up
‘Cause I need a man
And my heart is set on you
You better shape up
You better understand
To my heart I must be true
Nothin’ left, nothin’ left for me to do

You’re the one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
The one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
The one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh
The one I need (the one I need)
Oh, yes indeed (yes, indeed)

If you’re filled with affection
You’re too shy to convey
Meditate in my direction
Feel your way

I better shape up
‘Cause you need a man
I need a man
Who can keep me satisfied
I better shape up
If I’m gonna prove
You better prove
That my faith is justified
Are you sure?
Yes, I’m sure down deep inside

You’re the one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
The one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
The one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh
The one I need (the one I need)
Oh, yes indeed (yes, indeed)

You’re the one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
The one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
The one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh ooh, ooh
The one I need (the one I need)
Oh, yes indeed (yes, indeed) ooh, ooh

You’re the one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
The one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
The one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh
The one I need (the one I need)
Oh, yes indeed (yes, indeed)

You’re the one that I want (you are the one I want)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
The one that I want

Sharing Silence («Compartiendo el silencio»), un poema de Gunilla Norris (con vídeo subtitulado).

En este vídeo os traigo la lectura del poema titulado Sharing Silence («Compartiendo el silencio»), de la escritora Gunilla Norris, primero el original en inglés y, después, mi traducción en español. El silencio es un bien tan escaso en nuestra sociedad, que practicarlo se convierte en un acto reivindicativo.

Sharing Silence, by Gunilla Norris

Within each of us there is a silence
—a silence as vast as a universe.
We are afraid of it…and we long for it.
When we experience that silence, we remember
who we are: creatures of the stars, created
from the cooling of this planet, created
from dust and gas, created
from the elements, created
from time and space…created
from silence.
In our present culture,
silence is something like an endangered species…
an endangered fundamental.
The experience of silence is now so rare
that we must cultivate it and treasure it.
This is especially true for shared silence.
Sharing silence is, in fact, a political act.
When we can stand aside from the usual and
perceive the fundamental, change begins to happen.
Our lives align with deeper values
and the lives of others are touched and influenced.
Silence brings us back to basics, to our senses,
to our selves. It locates us. Without that return
we can go so far away from our true natures
that we end up, quite literally, beside ourselves.
We live blindly and act thoughtlessly.
We endanger the delicate balance which sustains
our lives, our communities, and our planet.
Each of us can make a difference.
Politicians and visionaries will not return us
to the sacredness of life.
That will be done by ordinary men and women
who together or alone can say,
“Remember to breathe, remember to feel,
remember to care,
let us do this for our children and ourselves
and our children’s children.
Let us practice for life’s sake.”

Compartiendo el silencio, un poema de Gunilla Norris

Dentro de cada uno de nosotros hay un silencio

–un silencio tan vasto como un universo.

Le tenemos miedo… y lo anhelamos.

Cuando experimentamos ese silencio, recordamos

quienes somos: criaturas de las estrellas, creadas

del enfriamiento de este planeta, creadas

de polvo y gas, creadas

de los elementos, creadas

de tiempo y espacio… creadas

de silencio.

En nuestra presente cultura,

el silencio es algo como una especie en peligro…

una esencia en peligro.

Experimentar el silencio es ahora tan raro

que debemos cultivarlo y apreciarlo.

Especialmente cuando se trata de silencio compartido.

Compartir el silencio es, en realidad, un acto político.

Cuando nos podemos mantener al margen de lo usual y

percibimos lo esencial, el cambio comienza a surgir.

Nuestras vidas se alían de valores más profundos

y las vidas de otros se conmueven y reciben la influencia.

El silencio nos devuelve a los fundamentos, a nuestros sentidos,

a nosotros mismos. Nos ubica. Sin ese regreso

nos podemos alejar tanto de nuestra verdadera naturaleza

que acabamos, literalmente hablando, fuera de nosotros mismos.

Vivimos de forma ciega y actuamos sin reflexionar.

Ponemos en peligro el delicado balance que sostiene

nuestras vidas, nuestras comunidades, y nuestro planeta.

Cada uno de nosotros puede marcar la diferencia.

Los políticos y los visionarios no nos traerán de vuelta

al carácter sagrado de la vida.

Se realizará por hombres y mujeres corrientes

que juntos o por separado puedan decir,

«Recordemos respirar, recordemos sentir,

recordemos cuidar,

hagámoslo por nuestros hijos y nosotros mismos

y los hijos de nuestros hijos.

Practiquémoslo por el amor a la vida.»

Fuente: https://www.tarabrach.com/meditation-reconnecting-silence-presence/

What are you laughing about?

A big mystery: Why do we laugh?

Laughter is part of the universal human vocabulary. All members of the human species understand it. Unlike English or French or Swahili, we don’t have to learn to speak it. We’re born with the capacity to laugh.

One of the remarkable things about laughter is that it occurs unconsciously. You don’t decide to do it. While we can consciously inhibit it, we don’t consciously produce laughter. That’s why it’s very hard to laugh on command or to fake laughter. (Don’t take my word for it: Ask a friend to laugh on the spot.)

Laughter provides powerful, uncensored insights into our unconscious. It simply bubbles up from within us in certain situations.

Very little is known about the specific brain mechanisms responsible for laughter. But we do know that laughter is triggered by many sensations and thoughts, and that it activates many parts of the body.

When we laugh, we alter our facial expressions and make sounds. During exuberant laughter, the muscles of the arms, legs and trunk are involved. Laughter also requires modification in our pattern of breathing.

We also know that laughter is a message that we send to other people. We know this because we rarely laugh when we are alone (we laugh to ourselves even less than we talk to ourselves).

Laughter is social and contagious. We laugh at the sound of laughter itself. That’s why the Tickle Me Elmo doll is such a success — it makes us laugh and smile.

The first laughter appears at about 3.5 to 4 months of age, long before we’re able to speak. Laughter, like crying, is a way for a preverbal infant to interact with the mother and other caregivers.

Contrary to folk wisdom, most laughter is not about humor; it is about relationships between people. To find out when and why people laugh, I and several undergraduate research assistants went to local malls and city sidewalks and recorded what happened just before people laughed. Over a 10-year period, we studied over 2,000 cases of naturally occurring laughter.

We found that most laughter does not follow jokes. People laugh after a variety of statements such as “Hey John, where ya been?” “Here comes Mary,” “How did you do on the test?” and “Do you have a rubber band?”. These certainly aren’t jokes.

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna3077386

Why Do We Laugh?

Laughter clearly serves a social function. It is a way for us to signal to another person that we wish to connect with them. In fact, in a study of thousands of examples of laughter, the speakers in a conversation were found to be 46 percent more likely to laugh than the listeners.

We’re also 30 times more likely to laugh in a group. Young children between the ages of 2.5 and 4 were found to be eight times more likely to laugh at a cartoon when they watched it with another child even though they were just as likely to report that the cartoon was funny whether alone or not. 

Evolutionarily speaking, this signal of connection likely played an important role in survival. Upon meeting a stranger, we want to know: What are your intentions with me? And who else are you aligned with?

In a study that spanned 24 different societies and included 966 participants, scientists played short sound bites of pairs of people laughing together. In some cases, the pair were close friends, in others, the pair were strangers. 

Participants in the study were asked to listen to the simultaneous laughter and determine the level of friendship shared by the laughers. Using only the sound of the laughter as cues, they could reliably tell the difference between people who had just met and those who were long-time friends. These results suggest not only the link between true laughter and friendship but also that we aren’t fooling anyone when we pretend to laugh at another person’s joke. 

Another theory, which takes the person-to-person connection provided by laughter a step further, is that laughter may be a replacement for the act of grooming each other. Grooming another is a behavior seen in primates. To groom someone else is a generous, one-sided act. Because it requires trust and investment of time, it bonds the groomer and groomee as friends.

As our communities got larger, we couldn’t all go around grooming each other to establish bonds. So, this is no longer our preferred method of exhibiting an offer of friendship. (And that’s probably a good thing.) But laughter, like the commitment offered through grooming, is also hard to fake, at least not without being obvious. And, unlike grooming, it can be done in a larger group and gives a more immediate impression. When we genuinely laugh, we signal that we are comfortable and feel like we belong. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are also a multitude of physical health benefits to laughter. Laughter can increase your oxygen intake, which can in turn stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles. Laughing further releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals our bodies produce to make us feel happy and even relieve pain or stress. The act of increasing and then decreasing our heart rate and blood pressure through laughter is also ultimately calming and tension-relieving. Laughter can even boost our immune system response through the release of stress-and illness-reducing neuropeptides.

So laughter signals cooperation, a key aspect of human survival, and promotes a healthier body to boot. That’s the best excuse I’ve heard to make sure to take the time to enjoy a few laughs over dinner and drinks with friends.

Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-we-laugh/

Why Do People Laugh?

I was sitting in my kitchen one day and made an attempt at being funny, but nobody laughed. My kids began to laugh when I bemoaned that nothing I say is funny. Perhaps ever since we began to emerge from our ancestral lineage, humor has been part of who we are as human beings.

I believe we are always doing the best we can. I call this our I-M. «This is who I am and I Matter.» Our I-M is always adapting to four domains: our home domain, our social domain, our biological domain (brain and body), and our IC domain (how I see myself and how I think other people see me). Using the I-M lens there is no pathology. There is only our I-M—doing the best we can at this moment in time—while adapting to a shift in any of the domains to another I-M.

Humor serves remarkable survival purposes, spanning over all four domains of our I-M. In the biological domain, humor and laughing relieve stress. In the home domain, humor and laughter create an environment of trust, a no-judgement zone. In the social domain, humor binds communities together with shared values. And in the IC domain, well, it feels great to be able to share a laugh.

When is the last time you laughed? What about the last time you chuckled or laughed so hard you cried? I had a laugh-so-hard-you-cry moment recently. I was playing a board game when one of the players asked if his girlfriend had been to a local hospital. He explained that they use a certain kind of soap in the bathrooms: “So I can tell when someone has gone to the bathroom at the hospital.”

Without taking a beat another person responded: “Strange brag but okay.” The tone of the response, the cadence of the words, the soft and slight resignation resonated in such a way that I started laughing, and the thought of it makes me smile even as I write this now. It was not funny for everyone, at least not as funny. But for me, this brief interaction captured one of the reasons people laugh: incongruity.

Our brains are designed to compare bits of information. We are always comparing things. From a survival perspective, an ancestor that notices a new rustling in a bush that a moment before was still and then ran away or prepared for a fight survived more than an ancestor that didn’t notice the difference and was then eaten by a tiger. Both did the best they could in their I-M, but one was less successful.

Incongruity can be funny. The experience of an unexpected twist in a story or when something happens in real life can make us laugh just because it was unexpected and posed no danger. Like this dark humor joke: a woman is digging a hole in her backyard when she unexpectedly uncovers a treasure chest full of gold and jewels, runs to tell her husband, and then remembers why she was digging the hole. Is this funny to you or not?

Our sense of humor is influenced by our home and social domains. Things in my family may not seem funny to someone from another family. Perhaps an ancestor that could share a joke with another created more social bonding and with greater bonding came greater protection. Group humor extends to larger and larger groups, encompassing cultures and points in history. Humor can be transient. Jokes from my parent’s generation may seem politically incorrect today. Humor shifts from era to era.

Sometimes we laugh because we feel joy when superior to someone else. Some humor is mean and derisive, laughter at a person or group’s expense. Superiority humor can be traced back to the ancient Greeks like Socrates and Plato, but it probably has its roots long before the written word. Perhaps this was also adaptive at some time in our history and we see examples of this still in our world every day. Sometimes we laugh at another person’s misfortune: «schadenfreude

Superiority humor may actually mask deep insecurity. Insecurity is founded on an IC Domain that worried other people will see one as less-than, with less value and at greater risk of being kicked out of their protective group. While also an I-M, we don’t have to like it but try to understand it.

And then there is that nervous kind of laughter we all have when faced with a difficult or awkward situation. This laughter is the result of feeling relief, perhaps when danger has passed. From an IC domain, we all fear that we will be seen as less valuable, increasing the biological domain stress response from being rejected and kicked out of our protective group. In relief, we may giggle and feel less stressed out.

Laughter is the enactment of humor, turning a perception into an action. Laughter has all sorts of healing properties. Is that why humor evolved? Did early humans survive better than their counterparts if they could laugh when faced with adversity?

How can you use humor today to make a small change in any of your four domains? What kind of influence do you want to be on the I-M of those in your home or social domains?

I laugh every day. I find the humor around me and am grateful for that ability. What sort of things make you laugh? What do you find funny? In my family, it is often irony, something I got from both my parents. And while my home domain was not always funny growing up, my folks could find humor even in the midst of their divorce. As my mom once said, she was a «divorcée but always wanted to be a widow.»

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-i-m-approach/201912/why-do-people-laugh

The evolutionary origins of laughter are rooted more in survival than enjoyment

Laughter plays a crucial role in every culture across the world. But it’s not clear why laughter exists. While it is evidently an inherently social phenomenon – people are up to 30 times more likely to laugh in a group than when alone – laughter’s function as a form of communication remains mysterious.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and involving a large group of researchers led by Gregory Bryant from UCLA, suggests that laughter may indicate to listeners the friendship status of those laughing. The researchers asked listeners to judge the friendship status of pairs of strangers and friends based on short snippets of their simultaneous laughter. Drawn from 24 different societies, they found that listeners were able to reliably distinguish friends from strangers, based on specific acoustic characteristics of the laughter.

Laughter’s evolutionary past

Spontaneous laughter, which is unintentionally triggered by conversation or events, emerges in the first few months of life, even in children who are deaf or blind. Laughter not only transcends human cultural boundaries, but species boundaries, too: it is present in a similar form in other great apes. In fact, the evolutionary origins of human laughter can be traced back to between 10 and 16m years ago.

While laughter has been linked to higher pain tolerance and the signalling of social status, its principal function appears to be creating and deepening social bonds. As our ancestors began to live in larger and more complex social structures, the quality of relationships became crucial to survival. The process of evolution would have favoured the development of cognitive strategies that helped form and sustain these cooperative alliances.

Laughter probably evolved from laboured breathing during play such as tickling, which encourage cooperative and competitive behaviour in young mammals. This expression of the shared arousal experienced through play may have been effective in strengthening positive bonds, and laughter has indeed been shown to prolong the length of play behaviours in both children and chimpanzees, and to directly elicit both conscious and unconscious positive emotional responses in human listeners.

Laughter as a social tool

The emergence of laughter and other primal vocalisations was at first intimately tied to how we felt: we only laughed when aroused in a positive way, just as we cried only when distressed, or roared only when angry. The key development came with the ability to vocalise voluntarily, without necessarily experiencing some underlying pain, rage, or positive emotion. This increased vocal control, made possible as our brains grew more complex, was ultimately vital in the development of language. But it also allowed us to consciously mimic laughter (and other vocalisations), providing a deceptive tool to artificially quicken and expand social bonds – and so increase survival odds.

The idea that this volitional laughter also has an evolutionary origin is reinforced by the presence of similar behaviour in adult chimpanzees, who produce laugh imitations in response to the spontaneous laughter of others. The fake laughter of both chimpanzees and humans develops during childhood, is acoustically distinct from its spontaneous counterpart, and serves the same social bonding function.

Today, both spontaneous and volitional laughter are prevalent in almost every aspect of human life, whether sharing a joke with a mate or during polite chitchat with a colleague. However, they’re not equivalent in the ear of beholder. Spontaneous laughter is characterised by higher pitch (indicative of genuine arousal), shorter duration and shorter laugh bursts compared to volitional laughter. Researchers recently demonstrated that human listeners can distinguish between these two laugh types. Fascinatingly, they also showed that if you slow down and adjust the pitch of volitional laughter (to make it less recognisable as human) listeners can distinguish it from animal vocalisations, whereas they cannot do the same for spontaneous laughter, whose acoustic structure is far more similar to nonhuman primate equivalents.

Friend or stranger?

It’s this audible difference that is demonstrated in the paper by Bryant and his colleagues. Friends are more likely to produce spontaneous laughs, while strangers who lack an established emotional connection are more likely to produce volitional laughter.

The fact that we can accurately perceive these distinctions means that laughter is to some extent an honest signal. In the neverending evolutionary arms race, adaptive strategies for deception tend to co-evolve with strategies to detect that deception. The acoustic characteristics of authentic laughter are therefore useful cues to the bonds between and status of members of a group. This is something that may have aided decision-making in our evolutionary past.

However, the study found that judgement accuracy was on average only 11% higher than chance. Perhaps this is partially because some strangers may have produced spontaneous laughs and some friends volitional laughs, but it’s clear that imitating authentic emotional laughter is a valuable deceptive tool for social lubrication. One need only witness the contagious effects of canned laughter to see how true this is.

In the complex reality of modern human social interaction, laughs are often aromatic blends of the full-bodied spontaneous and dark but smooth volitional types, further blurring the boundaries. Regardless, the goal is the same and we will most likely find ourselves becoming fonder of those we share the odd chuckle with.

John Cleese once said: “Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter.” He might just have hit the nail on the head – even when we’re faking it.

Source: https://theconversation.com/the-evolutionary-origins-of-laughter-are-rooted-more-in-survival-than-enjoyment-57750

The benefits of laughter

It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.

Laughter is good for your health

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter burns calories. Okay, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Laughter helps you stay mentally healthy

Laughter makes you feel good. And this positive feeling remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.

Laughter stops distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.

Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.

Laughter shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and diffuse conflict.

Laughter draws you closer to others, which can have a profound effect on all aspects of your mental and emotional health.

Laughter brings people together and strengthens relationships

There’s a good reason why TV sitcoms use laugh tracks: laughter is contagious. You’re many times more likely to laugh around other people than when you’re alone. And the more laughter you bring into your own life, the happier you and those around you will feel.

Sharing humor is half the fun—in fact, most laughter doesn’t come from hearing jokes, but rather simply from spending time with friends and family. And it’s this social aspect that plays such an important role in the health benefits of laughter. You can’t enjoy a laugh with other people unless you take the time to really engage with them. When you care about someone enough to switch off your phone and really connect face to face, you’re engaging in a process that rebalances the nervous system and puts the brakes on defensive stress responses like “fight or flight.” And if you share a laugh as well, you’ll both feel happier, more positive, and more relaxed—even if you’re unable to alter a stressful situation.

Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter also adds joy, vitality, and resilience. And humor is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Laughter unites people during difficult times.

Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment. Humor and laughter in relationships allows you to:

Be more spontaneous. Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.

Let go of defensiveness. Laughter helps you forget resentments, judgments, criticisms, and doubts.

Release inhibitions. Your fear of holding back is pushed aside.

Express your true feelings. Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.

Laughter is an especially powerful tool for managing conflict and reducing tension when emotions are running high. Whether with romantic partners, friends and family, or co-workers, you can learn to use humor to smooth over disagreements, lower everyone’s stress level, and communicate in a way that builds up your relationships rather than breaking them down.

How to bring more laughter into your life

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with exercising, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything.

Here are some ways to start:

Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter, and like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling. Instead of looking down at your phone, look up and smile at people you pass in the street, the person serving you a morning coffee, or the co-workers you share an elevator with. Notice the effect on others.

Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the positive aspects of your life will distance you from negative thoughts that block humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to reach humor and laughter.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”

Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious. Even if you don’t consider yourself a lighthearted, humorous person, you can still seek out people who like to laugh and make others laugh. Every comedian appreciates an audience.

Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”

So, what if you really can’t “find the funny?” Believe it or not, it’s possible to laugh without experiencing a funny event—and simulated laughter can be just as beneficial as the real thing. It can even make exercise more fun and productive. A Georgia State University study found that incorporating bouts of simulated laughter into an exercise program helped improve older adults’ mental health as well as their aerobic endurance. Plus, hearing others laugh, even for no apparent reason, can often trigger genuine laughter.

To add simulated laughter into your own life, search for laugh yoga or laugh therapy groups. Or you can start simply by laughing at other people’s jokes, even if you don’t find them funny. Both you and the other person will feel good, it will draw you closer together, and who knows, it may even lead to some spontaneous laughter.

Tips for developing your sense of humor

An essential ingredient for developing your sense of humor is to learn not to take yourself too seriously and laugh at your own mistakes and foibles. As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, we all do foolish things from time to time. Instead of feeling embarrassed or defensive, embrace your imperfections. While some events in life are clearly sad and not opportunities for laughter, most don’t carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life—giving you the choice to laugh or not. So, choose to laugh whenever you can.

Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.

Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. When something negative happens, try to make it a humorous anecdote that will make others laugh.

Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.

Remember funny things that happen. If something amusing happens or you hear a joke or funny story you really like, write it down or tell it to someone to help you remember it.

Don’t dwell on the negative. Try to avoid negative people and don’t dwell on news stories, entertainment, or conversations that make you sad or unhappy. Many things in life are beyond your control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might view carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders as admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic and unhealthy.

Find your inner child. Pay attention to children and try to emulate them—after all, they are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing at ordinary things.

Deal with stress. Stress can be a major impediment to humor and laughter, so it’s important to keep your stress levels in check. One great technique to relieve stress in the moment is to draw upon a favorite memory that always makes you smile—something your kids did, for example, or something funny a friend told you.

Don’t go a day without laughing. Think of it like exercise or breakfast and make a conscious effort to find something each day that makes you laugh. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes and do something that amuses you. The more you get used to laughing each day, the less effort you’ll have to make.

Using humor to overcome challenges and enhance your life

The ability to laugh, play, and have fun not only makes life more enjoyable but also helps you solve problems, connect with others, and think more creatively. People who incorporate humor and play into their daily lives find that it renews them and all of their relationships.

Life brings challenges that can either get the best of you or become playthings for your imagination. When you “become the problem” and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box and find new solutions. But when you play with the problem, you can often transform it into an opportunity for creative learning.

Playing with problems seems to come naturally to children. When they are confused or afraid, they make their problems into a game, giving them a sense of control and an opportunity to experiment with new solutions. Interacting with others in playful ways helps you retain this creative ability.

As laughter, humor, and play become integrated into your life, your creativity will flourish and new opportunities for laughing with friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and loved ones will occur to you daily. Laughter takes you to a higher place where you can view the world from a more relaxed, positive, and joyful perspective.

Source: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm