Leading up to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, organizers promised to crack down on awkward, Chinese-inflected English, known as “Chinglish,” and asked the public to help police bad grammar and faulty sign translation. With 500,000 foreigners expected for the Olympics, taxi drivers who can’t speak English — or signs that mangle the language — it could be an embarrassment and distract from the $40 billion being poured into rebuilding the city for the games.
Throughout Beijing, examples abounded:
A store selling tobacco products advertises: “An Excellent Winding Smoke.”
On the floor at Beijing’s Capital Airport, a sign reads: “Careful Landslip Attention Security.”
On a billboard, this mysterious message: “Shangri-La is in you mind, but your Buffalo is not.”
In an elevator, parents are warned: “Please lead your child to tare the life.”
Despite the problems, a government official said one-third of Beijing’s 15 million residents speak some English, a claim that was challenged by a local reporter from China’s state-run CCTV. “I think 5 million is a big number,” the reporter told the official. The official stood by the figure, but conceded the vast majority of the English speakers fell into a category he labeled “low level.” “They can have very simply conversations, like: ‘Who am I? Where am I going?’”
Efforts continue today to improve signage in English around Beijing’s tourist attractions.
In my seminars and workshops, it thrills me to witness accumulated stress draining from the faces and bodies of participants. I’ve received a number of positive letters from various companies and organizations, but none were more gratifying than the following:
Your seminar on humor was great. I particularly related to your discussion on stress, and others sharing their experiences of how stress had manifested itself. I identified totally. Since your seminar, I’ve had no more headaches, no more clenched jaws, no more Valium, Xanax, Halcion or sleepless nights. I’ve shared my experience with co-workers. Thanks for a real eye-opening exchange.
I spoke again with Mr. Simons, three years after the fact. He is still free of the afflictions and takes no medication. I think of the workshop as a collective creation between myself and the participants, where credit is due to no one in particular other than group synergy and intent. Making such a dramatic impact on Mr. Simons’ health says a lot for the value of humor and play. Clearly, there was a shift in his thinking that took place in an atmosphere of mirth, causing a positive physiological response. Dr. Deepak Chopra once said, “Our thoughts, without reservation, tend to make us healthy or sick.” I might add that our reservations (doubts), without changing our thoughts, tend to make us sick.
In times of despair, we instinctively turn to humor, comedy, and play for its uplifting effects. For the individual suffering mental and physical anguish associated with their circumstance, humor can lift the spirit and reduce suffering for the moment, if not permanently.
Excerpt from an Amazon best-seller, When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Lighten Up!
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According to a recent study, the only folks getting enough sleep on a consistent basis are those who have stopped working, and are living out their days in relaxation. ABC News reported that the same was true for people whose mental or physical conditions make them unable to work. Surveys done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the amount of sleep for people varies by age, and younger people are getting the least amount of sleep among the tested age groups. The proper amount of sleep, which is about 7-9 hours for adults, is obtained by people upon retirement. Sleep deprivation is typically caused by work, academic, and family stress, plus lifestyle habits, such as late-night television, Internet use, ingestion of caffeine or other stimulants, and late night partying. Some helpful thoughts about getting enough shut-eye:
• Sleep seems to organize memories, as well as help you to recover memories. After you learn something new, sleep may solidify the learning in your brain;
• Parts of the brain that control emotions, decision-making, and social interactions slow down dramatically during sleep, allowing optimal performance when awake. REM sleep seems especially important for a good mood during the day. Tired people are often cranky and easily frustrated;
• Lacking adequate sleep makes the immune system become weak, and the body becomes more vulnerable to infection and disease;
• Some sleep experts suggest that neurons used during the day repair themselves during sleep. When we experience sleep deprivation, neurons are unable to perform effectively, and the nervous system is impaired;
• Growth hormones are released during sleep, and sleep is vital to proper physical and mental development;
• Depression is two times more common for college students, than in the general population, affecting nearly 20% of students. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to this high rate. Additionally, inadequate amounts of sleep cause increased susceptibility to illnesses such as colds and flu;
• Many college students make the mistake of staying up late or pulling all-nighters to prepare for an exam or to complete an assignment. In reality, not getting enough sleep makes it more difficult for them to process, analyze, and retain information, and manage stress;
• Keep regular hours. Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day. Getting up at the same time is most important. Getting bright light, like the sun, when you get up will also help;
• Taking a nap during the day is not recommended because it reduces the amount of time a person sleeps at night. If necessary, take your nap early in the day and for no more than 20-30 minutes;
• Keep your bedroom at comfortable temperature. Not too warm and not too cold. Cooler is better than warmer;
• Do not exercise at least 3 hours before bed;
• Avoid bright light around the house before bed. Using dimmer switches in living rooms and bathrooms before bed can be helpful;
• Bedtime routines are helpful for good sleep. A cup of herbal tea an hour before bed can begin a routine. Sleeping pills and other sleep aids actually reduce sleep quality;
• Avoid looking at the clock if you wake up in the middle of the night. It can cause anxiety. This is very difficult for most of us, so turn the clock away from your eyes so you would have to turn it to see the time. You may decide not to make the effort and go right back to sleep;
• If you can’t get to sleep for over 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something boring in dim light till you are sleepy;
• Avoid sugary foods like chocolate, which make falling asleep more difficult. If you are hungry close to bedtime, eat a light carbohydrate or dairy snack instead. In small quantities, eating something light can sometimes help you fall asleep. Have you heard the notion that a bottle of milk puts a baby to sleep? The same can work for adults;
• Watching TV or using laptop computers late at night is not recommended. Reading in bed can be a problem if the material is overly stimulating and you read with a bright light. If it helps to read before sleep, try soothing material and make sure you use a very small wattage bulb to read. A 15 watt bulb should be enough;
• Don’t stress if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. Know you will sleep eventually.
(Resource: National Sleep Foundation)
“(Political) words are often used in a consciously dishonest way. Without precise meanings behind words, politicians and elites can obscure reality and condition people to reflexively associate certain words with positive or negative perceptions…As a result, Americans have been conditioned to accept the word ‘democracy’ as a synonym for freedom, and thus to believe that democracy is unquestionably good. The problem is that democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply ‘majoritarianism,’ which is inherently incompatible with real freedom…how many Americans know that the word ‘democracy’ is found neither in the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence, our very founding documents?” – Ron Paul
“But for the age-old (psychological) question of free will…it looks as if the answer is that we don’t actually have it. Studies now show that the impulse to take the most basic of actions—the movement of a finger, for example—originate in the brain at least a full second before we’re consciously aware of our desire to move it! It appears that the unconscious mind, functioning with an understanding bereft of language, may control far more of our conscious decision-making than we ever imagined—if not all of it.
Philosophers and scientists are speaking out against these results, not so much to deny them but to try instead to salvage the notion of free will by redefining it…there exists good reasons to want them to succeed: studies also show that when we lose our belief in free will, our motivation to act diminishes as well.
…it’s tantalizing to imagine that the elephant of our unconscious mind that we’re all riding and that may be in charge…needn’t only be made to do our bidding against its will, but that we can also train it to want what we want. Perhaps then the greatest potential for freedom lies in creating as much unity between our conscious and unconscious selves as possible.” – Alex Lickerman, M.D.
“(Philosophically), freedom is not that complex of an ideal. But putting theoretical ideals into practice becomes much more difficult; the black-and-whiteness of ideals becomes muddled with the various gray hues of practice’s complexity. I still love freedom, and I adamantly support full-fledged freedom. No matter how you feel about freedom now, I recommend you consider supporting freedom even more. And I beg you to stubbornly resist those who suggest placing limitations on freedom.” – Scott Hughes
Summer is here, and the time is right to commune with family and friends over lavish meals, aided and abetted by healthy gales of laughter.
The positive impact that laughter has on our well-being is nothing new. Throughout history, clowns, fools and court jesters plied their trade not only to entertain, but to heal people, impart wisdom, and exercise diplomacy, acting as ambassadors to other kingdoms for building goodwill and defusing conflict. The court jesters pranced around the imperial courts with a patented blend of whim and wit. It was their privilege to say whatever they wished. Usually a great ruler was surrounded by flatterers, and only from the jester did he ever hear the truth.
The jester’s business was to tickle the royal funny bone, divert the king from the tedium of his daily affairs, and serve a slightly skewed yet enlightening perspective on those affairs of the court. Jesters also assisted his Majesty’s digestion, rubbing the regal tummy the right way with their lively presence at the dining table. “Laughter is one of the most important aids to digestion with which we are acquainted,” said the Prussian professor Hufeland. “The custom in vogue among our ancestors, of inciting laughter by jesters and buffoons, was founded on true medical principles. Cheerful and joyous companions are invaluable at meals; obtain such, if possible, for the nourishment received amid mirth is productive of light and healthy blood.”
Excerpt from the book, “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Lighten Up!”
c 2013 All Rights Reserved
Mental Floss Publications
Are negative patterns of behavior easier to break than we think? One therapist friend of mine thinks so: “I’m always amazed at what happens when I conduct a therapy session. My session room has a nice view from atop the Hollywood Hills. When people arrive, the woodsy surroundings tend to put them in a relaxed frame of mind….I observe them getting out of their cars, looking around at Nature with relief and contentment, and proceed to the front door. They follow me upstairs for the session, and as we chat everything is plum and positive until I ask, `So, what kind of challenges are you having in your life?’”
“Immediately, I notice their shoulders slumping, facial expression drooping, their breathing starting to labor, and their voice becoming more tense, as they tell their tale of despair and decide to embrace their `troubled’ state. What I usually do is say assertively, almost in a peeved or upset tone, `Excuse me, but we haven’t started the session yet!’ What happens? Immediately they say, `Oh, I’m sorry,’ sit straight up, resume healthy posture, breathing, normal voice and facial expressions, reverting back to feeling fine. The message comes through loud and clear.”
Several years ago I was hired to lift the morale of bank tellers at a savings & loan. They were having a difficult time dealing with rude customers, and looked like a group of doleful-eyed, droopy-eared Beagles in need of a nourishing bowl of food. I told them there is nothing they could do about their customers’ attitudes until they shifted their own attitude from one of frustration to fun. Like Beagles that just heard an eerie sound, their heads collectively turned sideways.
At the end of their workday on a Friday, I asked them to gather around in a circle and reveal their worst customer of the week experience to the branch managers and me. There were loud howls of laughter in the room! The managers and I then conferred a reward to the teller with the best “Worst Customer of the Week” story: A customer apparently took out a can of underarm deodorant from her handbag and sprayed the teller’s window, screaming, “This place stinks!” The reward was a gift certificate to a fine restaurant. The following Friday, it was a bottle of champagne (which proved to be quite popular).
The tellers felt supported for enduring difficult customer situations, and morale skyrocketed. Now they were seeking out the rude customers: “Excuse me, sir, you look like you may be having a tough day…come forward. I’ll help you out.” With this unexpected response, rude customers suddenly became more civil. The good will snowballed as customers were telling their family, friends and work associates about the unusual attentiveness they were receiving at their bank. As a result, the bank had a surprising jump in new customers. It was a win-win-win situation. Can you adopt this approach of rewarding someone for enduring a difficult work experience at your weekly staff meetings?
Excerpt from “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Lighten Up!”
c 2013 Terry Braverman
Mental Floss Publications
All Rights Reserved