Click here for an insight into your SOUL (haha)


So, how did you do?! Did you see an uplifting statement that could be the sunny website address for a motivational speaker? Or were you like me and thought, “How depressing, whoever runs that site must have really given up…”? How does your answer to this poll have anything to do with whether or not you are “lucky” in life”

A recent excerpt from Ben Sherwood’s book (The Survivors Club; The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life) in Newsweek, “What it Takes to Survive“, discusses several key findings relating to an individual’s ability to survive in critical situations. The above poll is a measure for one’s ability to see something other than the obvious or initial (and pessimistic) message.

“What it Takes to Survive” ties together several stories, including one of a woman who incredibly survives having knitting needle stuck through her heart by a freak accident falling on some simple stair steps and later finds that the same knitting needle ends up saving her life (in a roundabout kind of way). Several studies are used as well, including the one above with the web site address initial impression, but also another that involved subjects watching a recorded basketball game and counting the number of hoops made while a person dressed in a gorilla suit runs through the scene. Apparently, certain kinds of people would be completely unaware that a gorilla ever came onto the scene because they were too singularly focused on the task at hand. Singular focus is identified as a trait that gets in the way of practicing successful survival skills, according to the article. The four identified skills in “lucky” people (a main thesis of this article is that “luck” can be identified as a possession of certain traits therefore people who truly are “lucky”  are because they create their own luck):

  1. Being in the right place at the right time (in the right state of mind). Lucky people are open to unexpected opportunities that others often do not see.
  2. Listening to hunches, or intuition. Unlucky people have a pattern of making decisions that go against their intution. Either that or they are not practiced at listening to their hunches.
  3. OPTIMISM. (See Bob)
  4. “Special ability to turn bad luck into good fortune.” <–This one is actually a little cryptic or “x-factor” for me…anyone have any good insights on this 4th “skill”?

I really enjoyed this article, mostly because it points out that there are actual skills involved in attaining what we may loathe as someone’s “good luck”. Granted, some people may not need to practice the skills quite as much as those of us who found that “opportunity was nowhere” but the idea that we have an option seems to offer a (comforting) level playing field.

So, with #3  in mind:

“Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right…”


Human Rights vs. Cultural Rights

A few days ago Lorenz from an  anthropologi blog commented on a Pakistani, female anthropologist named Samar Minallah. This woman has spent her career helping raise awareness for human rights issues in her own country despite the enormous gender discrimination that pervades her country.  In the interview  Minallah spoke about a tradition in Pukhtun culture, which is a people group located in the northwest part of the country. Swara is the name of this tradition and it entails the exchanging of underage girls to settle feuds between families. These girls are subject to verbal, physical, and emotion abuse and sometimes even die for the families sake. Minallah talks in the article about how these brutal actions most likely stemmed from a well meaning tradition, and still today the girls being given are told they will be peacemakers between the two families.

I was listening to a lecture today in an anthropology class about the difference between human rights and cultural rights. This blog made me think about the lecture I was listening to earlier and really examine what was happening in this Pukhtun tradition. The whole thing is obviously a violation of human rights. The Pakistani government has even recently upped the punishment for such crimes. This makes me wonder how many times in our own history we have covered up clear human rights violations with mentally labeling them (if not verbalizing it) as cultural rights or norms. A few stand out for sure…

Roe v. Wade

I ran across a fellow WordPress blogger’s post discussing “How to Stump Anti-Abortionists With One Question” and figured the timing is especially appropriate for some reflection on the topic (not the topic of how to stump Anti-Abortionists, silly, the topic of abortion) on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, while the annual Pro-Life Rally is being held on the capital steps downtown.

As a matter of strategy when discussing this issue and trying to maintain neutrality, it feels nearly impossible. Everything from the titles I use to identify the various groups of thought can be analysed (using positive words like “pro” in identifying one side vs.  the negatively associated “anti” in identifying another side) to the examples I choose to represent different sides’ ideology (using beloved comedian George Carlin’s stand-up on one side of the issue vs. using Governor Palin’s Katie Couric interview on the other side of the issue). Despite how this post appears to make me lean one way over another, I remain hesitant to be boldly on one side or the other and have found that my opinions change with age (we didn’t know everything in highschool??? Damn.) There are logical arguments on all sides of the issue and the most pressing concern to me is not what THE answer is…I don’t think there can be one…but what are WE, as a nation, going to do about the disagreement?

The span of fields this topic covers is truly anthropological, economical, historical, political, psychological, and socialogical. Everybody appears to have an opinion of some sort, so in commemoration of the continually controversial court decision here is an opinion on the two basic sides. Admittedly, there are tons more “sides” to be on but here’s an extreme on both of the primary sides (Pro Choice aka Pro Abortion, Anti Life & Pro Life aka Anti Abortion, Anti Choice).

Pro Choice (Disclaimer – GEORGE CARLIN):

Pro Life:

The Last Brick

Abraham Lincoln's Bible

The anticipated event of swearing in of a new president of the United States finally happened. An interesting article attracted my attention, and I thought it was worth giving it some thought.

USA Today writes that the bible used in Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony is the same bible used by Abraham Lincoln in 1861. “Lincoln took the oath in the shadow of an unfinished Capitol dome with his right hand on the Bible. He then kissed the book, following a tradition started by George Washington” – the article reports.

The rich symbolism that Obama is using throughout the organizational details preceding the inauguration cannot be ignored. More and more, the new president is comparing – and allying – himself with the iconic figure of the American state. In doing so, Obama wants to show his electorate that has a set example in front of him, and that he promises to rise up to that expectation.

As the first black president, Obama is showing the enormous steps taken in the direction of non-bigotry in North America, and giving appreciation to Lincoln seems as appropriate as ever. The symbolism of the unfinished Capitol in 1861 comes to mind as well, and Obama is saying that the dome is close to being finished, as racism and intolerance in America are overcome.

Reasons Why Negative Emotions Last Longer Than Positive Emotions.

I was just surfing the web randomly not knowing what topic in mind even going to do. I didn’t even plan on posting anything when this actually came as a pop-up ad on my screen as it had to deal with Psychology, which oddly enough is what I am majoring in. I thought to myself that if I could find an interesting enough story on here, that I can surely enough use it on my blog. I found this article on Helpingpsychology.com, “Why Negative Emotions Outlast Positive Ones” , and is something that is happening, not personally,  in a part of my life.  I like to relate this article to my own life and the people around it because it helps me get a better sense of  possible reasons why they could be depressed.

It is harder to adapt to negative emotions because of their traumatic consequences. Every negative emotion experienced leaves a psychological scar. Knowing a pain that is so great will always be a reminder in some way or another as it turns into a fear. Fear of a negative emotion is so great that individuals are left worrying it will happen all over again at any given moment.

Individuals adapt much quicker to positive emotions because they are welcoming to the senses. Positive emotions are associated with having fun or having something wonderful happen. Unfortunately, humans are well aware that we cannot feel like this at all times and the positive feelings eventually taper off when presented with a difficult situation.

It is up to the individual them self to learn to manage both negative and positive emotions. Immersion in positive emotions can leave a person in a state where they are avoiding daily responsibilities by doing whatever they can to make sure the positive feelings to not subside. This is not productive for every day living as it is merely an avoidance tactic.

Likewise, an individual may become consumed by negative emotions, leaving them in constant fear of the next bad event. This can produce anxiety, depression and even suicide.

I agree with what this article says in some sense because I know that when my dad asks me about a certain negative event that went on in my life at an age when I was able to remember, I could not remember and even my younger brother remembers that event. Also, depression and negative/positive events don’t only evolve around me, but also a couple of people in my family even harder. They were diagnosed with depression, but they did not ever go as far as to attempt suicide.  They do have positive people around them, have positive events going on in their lives, but overall their state of depression is just a chemical imbalance in the brain to where they have to take medication for it. The medication helps with experiences and balancing out the positive and negative emotions. For example, about a year ago one of my family members that has depression would avoid our family, never spend any time with us, stay in his room, thought we were excluding him from family activities, did drugs, and would have the worst attitude. He always thought the negative about everything and because he thought this, his overall mindset would stay negative. For reasons unknown really to us, but probably the medication, he now is active in family activities, is a lot more positive about everything, much better attitude, does not avoid us, and is much more responsible.

This article in some respect to my family member, is very true and even though the article says that my family member was repressing old negative emotions; he was dealing with present negative emotions that led him to continue this negative emotional streak of thinking nobody cared for him. I do strongly believe it is good to balance out with positive and negative. I sometimes see people never negative about anything, which is never good because they are just hiding secrets that people may look down at them about. That is why you celebrities always putting on a fake smile and it looks like nothing bad is happening in their lives until you see pictures or hear stories about them. You find out that they DO have a different life outside of putting on that fake smile. Everybody has this case and some peolpe like to keep things more private and to themselves more than others do, which I do not blame them for. I am that type of person myself, but I do not think I have depression like my two other family members. With me, I look at the outcomes of what COULD happen if I was to do this or to do that. I feel that this is a good thing to do because I know for a fact that I have done things I am not proud of, especially when I started out around 16 years old. I have grown from these experiences and thinking that way to have positive or negative outcomes will help with leading to better situations. I know that not all people can cognitively do this, but I am just saying that it is a possible solution to creating future positive/negative outomes.

Overmedicating children with ADHD

This subject has always been of interest to me for more reasons than one.  Although this CNN article, “Ritalin debate: Are We Over Medicating” is several years old, I still find it to be extremely relevant and a valid argument today.

There is currently no objective diagnostic tool for the disorder, so the diagnosis often comes down to a judgment call. Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics published guidelines recommending that children suspected of ADHD have at least 2 to 3 visits with a physician, and that the physician solicit additional information from parents and teachers.

But Winkler says, in reality, too often it’s the teacher who’s making the diagnosis.

“In some situations, even parents were told if they didn’t place their child on a psychotropic drug, their child wouldn’t be able to attend school. And I just found this horrendous,” she said.

I’m a firm believer that things such as counseling and behavior modification should be used before we resort to medication. I hate the idea of children being prescribed such medications prior to exhausting other resources. One of the things that irritates me the most is that it is more often than not male children who are being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD. What ever happened to letting boys be boys? Sure, there are some instances where they need to be reigned in and taught how to behave, but a little rambunctiousness never really hurt anyone. Teachers need to realize that not every student can fit into their perfect little angelic mode of behavior. Just because a student is a little more hyper than another or can not fully focus does not mean he or she should be medicated at the first sign of this behavior. Parents need to take an active approach and work with their children to teach them acceptable and unacceptable behavior. I have a 10 year old cousin who was prescribed Ritalin a little over two years ago. He does not need the medication, his parents need to take a more active approach at parenting.  His mom is so flighty she has decided that she will only give him the medication during the school week. He doesn’t get it on the weekends or during school breaks. My opinion is this: either take the kid off the medication completely, or give it to him as prescribed. Don’t pick and choose when he should or shouldn’t have it.
Prior to moving here last summer, I was an assistant manager for Walgreen’s. Having this job meant I also had to be a licenesed pharmacy assistant. I learned a ton at the job. It amazed me to see just how many children are taking medication for ADHD and other behavioral issues. I really wanted to ask the parents if they knew what they were doing to their kids, or whether they had even tried other alternatives before choosing to medicate them. Due to things such as advertisements in print and in the media, many patients are now asking for drugs by name and attempting to self diagnose themselves and their children. It seems inapprorpriate to me for a patient to ask their doctor to be prescribed a certain medication just because they’ve seen it on TV and think it will cure their problems. And by no means is this any different than it is for parents and their children. Contrary to their belief, parents don’t always know best! This is when the physicians need to step up and educate the parents on the side effects medication can give their children. What ever happened to a little unconditional love and attention as an effective parenting tool?

Students doing Social Science Research

In December Lorenz commented about an article in Culture Matters about an anthropologist named Alice Corbet. This anthropologist graduated with her PhD from the Sorbonne in Paris against seeming discouragement from her professors. She was  forced to work  along with attending school  to survive, which was frowned upon by her instructors.  This  is  a common  problem  with American students, I personally know very few students who do not have at least a part time job in addition to their student loans.  In her case there were two scholarships were offered a year for anthropologist students which  covered  barely enough to do minimal field work, let alone entire research projects. Corbet then explains to the interviewer how most research students turn to private institutions for funding. This alternative sounds like a good fix to an obstacle many students face throughout their academic careers, unless of course your topic of research makes anyone feel uncomfortable or risks losing anyone money. Due to the “sensitive” nature of her  thesis Corbet was unable to obtain funding from private organizations who feared stepping on any bureaucratic toes.

This leaves me to wonder a few things. First why wasn’t there more funding from her institution for students who would be doing research? Maybe this is a problem in all institutions and I’m just unaware of it due to my lack of experience with post graduate work. Second I’m thinking about her discouragement to pursue this topic because it was too “political”.  Once again this may be me showing naivety about  how research at that  level works. In my opinion however, institutions should be more supportive of their students. Her lack of funding and pressure to not pursue this topic seems to me the opposite of what a university should be providing their students with. Who will encourage students to question the world around them and make it possible for them to do so, if not the schools they are attending.

Maybe I’m a bit idealistic about the role of universities in the lives of the students.