Tag Archives: research

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In this Monday’s Link Roundup you’ll find a fascinating article on memory – The Mysteriously Memorable 20s. It seems that we more easily recall events from our early adulthood than any other period in our lives. And for some charming and poignant images, be sure to check out Intimate Portraits of Old Folks Dancing.

  • A calligrapher explains his art. “One of the big differences between a type designer and a calligrapher is that nobody much wants to watch a type designer at work. Creating and refining a font is painstaking work that requires a fastidious nature, to say the least. Calligraphy is an action sport by comparison – measured in seconds rather than months – and watching a calligrapher at work is oddly thrilling.”  [Thanks to Paula Stahel of Breath & Shadows Productions for alerting me to this item.]
  • Avoid Pricing and Discounting Mistakes. “As a business owner, what do you do when sales are sluggish and you want to offer a discount, but you don’t want to imply that your products and services are worth less by lowering the price?”
  • Dear America, Join Me in Writing a Letter From the Heart. “I had a most humbling conversation yesterday with a vivacious, 17-year-old young lady named Victoria. In discussions of homework, careers and her future opportunities, we somehow managed to cross into an abyss of sorts and completely unknown to her: letters. It seems that over the past 17 years of her relatively young life, she has never sent or received a handwritten letter. Have we advanced that far or, better yet, declined that far to the point that the handwritten word is no longer relevant?”
  • Intimate Portraits of Old Folks Dancing.”The famed Martha Graham once described dance as “a graph of the heart.” In her ongoing series Viv(r)e la Vie!, which we spotted thanks to Feature Shoot, Spanish photographer Ana Galan captures old couples dancing in different countries across the globe.”
  • The Mysteriously Memorable 20s. “What is it about twentysomethings in general? Why are we so fixated on the no-man’s-land between childhood and stable adulthood? A little-known but robust line of research shows that there really is something deeply, weirdly meaningful about this period. It plays an outsize role in how we structure our expectations, stories, and memories. The basic finding is this: We remember more events from late adolescence and early adulthood than from any other stage of our lives. This phenomenon is called the reminiscence bump.”

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Encore! Bringing the Dead to Life: Writing a Biography of an Ancestor.

The other day I was asked if I had any ideas about writing the biography of a dead family member. This struck a responsive chord in me. For some time I’ve wanted to write  about my mother’s father, my grandfather. He was only thirty-two when he died in 1920. A Winnipeg fire fighter, he succumbed to the great flu pandemic that was sweeping the world. My mother was only two when he died and she had few stories about him…Read more.

Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup don’t miss Why Killing Time Isn’t a Sin. It’s by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits, a favorite of mine. His wise words are worth reflecting on. And if you get high on grammar and enjoy a good chuckle, then you’ll want to check out The 9 Best Funny and Helpful Blogs About Grammar.

  • 7 Things You’re Doing Wrong on LinkedIn. “Today, LinkedIn is the No. 1 social media platform for professionals. Estimates of professional participation in LinkedIn are as high as 83%…social media expert Alexandra Gibson…told me that she sees too many professionals making a lot of mistakes. Here are the seven she sees most often.”
  • What multitasking does to our brains. “We all know this and have heard it hundreds of times. To work efficiently we have to single task. No multitasking.And yet, we let it slip…Why the heck is it so hard to focus on just one thing then? To understand what actually goes on in our brains and see if it all makes sense, I went ahead and found some stunning research and answers to these questions.”
  • Why Stories Sell: Transportation Leads to Persuasion. “Research suggests that trying to persuade people by telling them stories does indeed work (Green & Brock, 2000). The question is why? Because if we know why, we can make the stories we tell more persuasive.”
  • Epilogue: Book-Lovers on the Future of Print. “Epilogue is a lyrical student documentary about the future of books by Hannah Ryu Chung, featuring a number of interviews with independent bookstore owners, magazine art directors, printers, bookbinders, letterpress artists, and other champions of bibliophilia.”
  • Why Killing Time Isn’t a Sin. “I have no objections to reading books, learning languages, or writing to friends. It’s the idea that downtime must be put to efficient use that I disagree with. While I used to agree with it completely, these days I take a completely different approach.Life is for living, not productivity.”
  • eBooks 101: Standard Vs. Fixed Layout. “One of the most frequent questions we get asked here at BookBaby is, “What’s the difference between a fixed layout eBook and a regular eBook?”
  • The 9 Best Funny and Helpful Blogs About Grammar. “There are numerous blogs about grammar available if you poke around. They can be instructive, amusing, helpful, or hysterically funny. I prefer the latter, since I find a little laughter makes learning a whole lot easier.Here then are blogs for your entertainment, education, and enjoyment, all on the subject of grammar.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

It’s Monday and another Link Roundup. This week I was struck by the wisdom in Post Secret. For those who’ve faced the challenge of interviewing some reserved older clients, this article is for you.  More food for thought in The Counter-Intuitive Benefits of Small Time Blocks. The author suggests there is a  way to get larger creative projects done by making the best use of small chunks of time.

  • Family Tree University’s Spring 2012 Virtual Conference. “At this weekend workshop, you’ll learn strategies and resources to boost your research—and because it’s web-based, you can participate from anywhere! Dates: 9 a.m. Friday, March 9, to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, March 11, 2012″
  • Writing With All Your Senses — A Learnable Skill. “…writing dazzling descriptions is a learnable skill. It takes practice and dedication and seeps into remote corners of life, but the results are worth the effort. In my experience, a three-pronged approach has worked well to hone description skills to a keen edge. One prong involves reading, another involves awareness of surroundings, and the third is deliberation.”
  • Post Secret. “After my mother died, my sister kept discovering fascinating things she had left behind, one being a do-it-yourself autobiography that must have been given to her.”
  • Five Tips on How to Write Biographies. “What does it take to be a successful writer of biographies? How do you choose a subject? Does it matter if the subject is dead or alive? Must you be objective? Should you even try?” [Thanks to Pat McNees of Writers and Editors for alerting me to this item.]
  • Five Steps to Doing Genealogy Research Like A Pro. “I’ve been doing genealogy research professionally for almost a decade now. When clients are paying you by the hour, you learn lots of really great shortcuts to keep you moving along and focused. The big tip I shared on Thursday’s episode of The Barefoot Genealogist? (Drumroll, please.)”
  • The Counter-Intuitive Benefits of Small Time Blocks. “It’s a common assertion that doing hard, creative work requires long stretches of concentrated attention. And if you have the luxury of big, open blocks of time, it is a great way to get things done. But what if you don’t? What if you get interrupted left and right by clients and co-workers? Is there a way to push creative projects forward in this non-optimal environment?”

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Do You Fail To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions?

You’re not alone. Research shows that the majority of all resolutions fail within 6 months. So why do we bother?

I think we make resolutions because we want to be better people. We see weaknesses and want to fix them. There’s nothing wrong with this impulse but  there’s a better way of going about it than making resolutions.

The other day I came across an article by Chris Brogan, My 3 Words for 2012.  I was intrigued. Chris’s approach is to dig deep and find three words that’ll act as your polestar as you navigate the new year.

To me Brogan’s  idea of “3 words” is similar to resolutions but acts more as a mantra – a way to remind yourself on a daily basis to hold  your course.

my 3 words for 2012

  • Simplify. I will clear out the physical and mental junk that holds little value or relevance in my life. This means tossing out, recycling, or donating stuff that’s filling useful space. I intend to be more mindful of thinking that isn’t helpful and let it go. This includes thoughts of scarcity, dread, and perfection. I will look for ways to simplify my work.
  • Play. I am by nature a somewhat serious guy with a touch of melancholy that comes no doubt from my Irish heritage.  I will learn to take time to cavort, dance, rejoice, and mess around. In other words, have some fun.
  • Accept. I will learn to accept that things often happen regardless of what I do or don’t do.  I will accept the hard times along with the good, the sad with the joyful, and abundance with scarcity. And I will try to do all this with equanimity.

Achieving success

Having 3 words  is a start. You can assure yourself greater success by doing the following:

  • Make your words public.  Put your 3 words on facebook, twitter, or your blog. Let your friends and family know how you’re doing. Going public will motivate you to succeed. I’ve  made my list public and already feel an obligation to report to you on my progress. Stay tuned!
  • Post your words. Type up your 3 words and stick them where you’ll see them every day. It might be on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or on your bedside table. I’ve pasted mine on my computer monitor.
  • Work on one word at a time. Your chances of success are greater if you apply yourself to changing one thing. I’ve chosen play as the first thing to focus on.
  • Make it a habit. Research shows that it takes on average about 60 days to develop a habit so that it becomes automatic. This means that each day for 60 days you need to practice the one behavior you want to achieve.  I’ll set aside 30 minutes each day for the next 60 days to engage in a playful activity that isn’t something that I’m already doing.  Once a week I’ll take an hour to “mess around”. At the end of two months I’ll chose another word while at the same time holding on to my newly acquired habit of play.

What are your 3 words?

What are the 3 words that’ll guide you through 2012? Why not share them here.  I’d love to hear from you.

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How to Establish a “Life Stories” Hospice Program. Part One

Those of you interested in building a sustainable life stories program at your local hospice will need more than good will and enthusiasm although that helps.  I hope that the experience I gained in establishing a life stories service at Victoria Hospice will be of help to you.

One of the factors that weighed in my favor was the growing academic research supporting the value of life stories. It’s not uncommon for some medical professionals to see life stories as a frill, not something that can complement end-of-life support. Being armed with the relevant research can bolster your proposal.

Here’s a suggestion. Before attempting to initiate a hospice life stories program, familiarize yourself with the research. Two studies in particular that I’d recommend are :

Dignity Therapy: A Novel Psychotherapeutic Intervention for Patients Near the End of Life. Harvey Max Chochinov, Thomas Hack, Thomas Hassard, Linda J. Kristjanson, Susan McClement, and Mike Harlos.  Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2005; Vol. 23, No. 24

Ninety-one percent of participants reported being satisfied with  Dignity Therapy; 76% reported a heightened sense of dignity; 68% an increased sense of purpose; 67% a heightened sense of meaning; 47% an increased will to live; 81% reported that it had already, or would be of help to their family.

Legacy Activities as Interventions Approaching the End of Life. Rebecca S. Allen, Michelle M. Hilgeman, Margaret A. Ege, John L. Shuster, Louis D. Burgio. Journal of Palliative Medicine. September 2008, 11(7): 1029-1038. doi:10.1089/jpm.2007.0294.

Intervention patients reported decreased breathing difficulty and increased religious meaning. Caregivers and patients reported greater social interaction on the part of the patient. All participants in the intervention group initiated a Legacy activity and reported that Legacy improved family communication. Legacy interventions hold promise and are simple to implement.

Other studies of older people and reminiscence have also shown promising results. One in particular is:

Evaluating the Impact of  Reminiscence on the Quality of Life of Older People. A report by the Economic and Social Research Council about a piece of research on reminiscence they carried out with 142 older people in 2003.

Reminiscence activity results in psychological benefit for older people. Older people in our study who participated in activities were found at the end of the period of intervention to have better psychological morale and less psychological morbidity, and show more positive emotion and less negative emotion, than older people in our study who had not participated in our activities.

A  pioneer in the interdisciplinary study of aging is Robert N. Butler. One of his seminal articles,  Age, Death, and Life Review, is a must read. This article originally appeared in Living With Grief: Loss in Later Life, Kenneth J. Doka, Editor,  © Hospice Foundation of America, 2002.

The life review, as sometimes manifested by nostalgia and reminiscence, is a natural healing process. It represents one of the underlying human capacities on which all psychotherapy depends. Some of the positive results of a life review can be the righting of old wrongs, making up with estranged family members or friends, coming to accept one’s mortality, gaining a sense of serenity, pride in accomplishment, and a feeling of having done one’s best.

In Part Two, I’ll look at some of the practical steps that will help ensure the successful implementation of a hospice life stories program.

Photo by iStockphoto

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No One Dies Wishing They Had More Shoes.

peak-experienceNewsflash: Spending money on things will not make us as happy as spending on experiences. This is the conclusion of recent study conducted by Ryan Howell, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. You can listen to Professor Howell in a 7 minute  interview here on NPR.  According to SFU’s February 7 press release, the study, “demonstrates that experiential purchases, such as a meal out or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality — a feeling of being alive.” Professor Howell explained in an interview,

Purchased experiences provide memory capital. We don’t tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object…it’s not that material things don’t bring any happiness. It’s just that they don’t bring as much…You’re happy with a new television set. But you’re thrilled with a vacation.

This study got me thinking. It brought to mind some of the great experiences in my life – being a volunteer teacher in Ghana for two years, snorkeling over a coral reef in Tobago, meeting my partner 35 years ago and volunteering at Victoria Hospice every Tuesday morning.

I was particularly struck by the studies link between long term happiness and social connectedness. For me, this again speaks to the importance of  helping people record and preserve  their life stories. Whether we’re sitting down with a family member, friend or neighbor, we are not just collecting stories. We are connecting with people and in the process bringing a little happiness into the world.

What are some of your great life experiences?

Photo by Ben Tubby

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