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Happiness (203 posts)
In this month's "Adventures in Beauty", the O beauty team—director Valerie Monroe, executive editor Jenny Bailly, and associate editor Alessandra Foresto—test-drive nine products and treatments (like skin-plumping fillers, threading, and "comfortable" waxing) to determine whether they make the O grade. It had been two years since the editors' last big beauty road test—Monroe decided the time for a sequel was now. "This is an important story for us," she says. "The only way we can be confident we're making good recommendations is to try things ourselves."
Since the beauty team is constantly on the lookout for groundbreaking techniques, each editor had already picked a few favorites by the time they sat down to plan the story. "I heard about a new spray tan for darker-skinned women and was immediately interested," says Monroe. "Our Latina and African-American readers might not know this product is out there." Foresto, whose skin is a natural bronze, gave it a try. "I thought my clothes would get stained, my skin would be smelly and orange—but nope. I loved it!" Foresto had only one reservation about her new tan: She'd have to pose in a bikini in the magazine to show it off. "I did some extra workouts the week before," she says with a laugh.
After reading the collection of mini-memoirs in the February issue ("You...In Six Words"), Tish Pollack, who teaches English as a second language in California, wrote: "I was so moved by how others were able to tell their stories that I posed the same challenge to my students, who are all adult immigrants." Here's a look at their work, posted on their classroom wall.
3 ways to see your world with fresh eyes
13 quotes to inspire your creativity
In 2010, when Eddy Lu and Daishin Sugano moved from Los Angeles to Chicago to open a cream puff shop ("They're the next cupcakes!" they say), the pair realized they'd overlooked one aspect of relocation: making new friends. They tried chatting with people in bars, but "guys thought we were hitting on them," Lu says. "It was awkward." Then they realized their best connections had formed over food. "Eating together is the classic way to socialize," says Lu.
A few months later, the pair launched grubwithus.com, where users browse dozens of upcoming gatherings at local restaurants and then book their seats at a table of strangers also looking to connect. The food is usually served family-style over multiple courses, which helps people settle in and get talking. "Grubbers" must adhere to a few rules, however: Be on time, don't check cell phones, and avoid politics-and-religion talk.
Now in dozens of cities—and available for anyone, in any city, who wants to use the site to set up a dinner—Grubwithus meals have produced friendships, job offers, and a few romances. But Sugano says he and Lu are their own best success story: "We arrived with no social network, and now we have 25 real friends in Chicago." And all because they remembered that before Facebook, there was food. "People say this is a forward-thinking service," Sugano says. "But making time to eat together is old-school. We're just going back to basics.
The restaurant that's changing the face of gritty West Oakland
Down-home done right: Soul food from brown sugar kitchen
In her thoughtful essay "The Lonely Ones," Emily Cooke writes about three female writers who recorded their battles with aloneness -- having it, enjoying it, using it, escaping it. As Cooke puts it, "A man who chooses to be alone assumes the glamour of his forebears. A woman’s aloneness makes us suspicious: Even today it carries connotations of reluctance and abandonment, on the one hand, and selfishness and disobedience, on the other." Reading this I had a flashback to banging on the door of my mother's art studio in the back of our house, saying, "But I just can't leave her alone for a minute, I just CAN'T!" Artists deserve time to themselves, of course. But mothers? No way!
Still, as Cooke points out, it's important for a creative person, for any person, to have some time alone. "Being alone lets you develop, become strange, be mad. If to be with people is to be socialized, to submit your rough edges to the whetstone of others’ desires, to be asocial is to be ragged and, thus, original." Maybe this is why our culture at large is so suspicious of women who want to be alone for a few hours or days or years at a time. We need women around, society seems to say, so it scares us when you say you need time alone. And I have to say, I get it, from society's point of view. Have you ever seen a little boy and a little girl playing together? It's basically a pantomime of the battle between wildness and civilization, personified. We need the females of the species to hang around and civilize everyone.
Okay, I admit, the first time these girls were roller-coaster-shrieking across my path I suffered a fit of motherly indignation. What if they ran into someone? What if the chair rolled into the street? Didn't they have homework to do? Then a particularly raucous trill of laughter refocused my attention: these kids were having fun. Serious fun. For hours -- and they really seem to do this every day -- and with nothing more than an old office chair. It doesn't have Justin Bieber's face on it (I don't know, is that even what girls that age like?). It doesn't have any buttons or screens. It barely has wheels. But these girls make it so fun I sometimes wish I could hop on for a crazy, wobbly, stare-inducing, super-fun ride myself.
What's boring you? Making dinner? Paying bills? Waiting in line at the grocery store? Could a slight change in perspective make these things less like desk chairs, and more like roller coasters?
Find Your Own Fun
The Best Cardboard Arcade Ever
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Who can say no to a little eye candy? Vogue has some delicious pictures of America's top male Olympic athletes. (Vogue)
* Jim Henson passed away 22 years ago yesterday. His friends the Muppets created this tribute to the man and his imagination. (YouTube)
* "I've been told specifically that I will be able to punch Justin Bieber in the face."—Drew Magary spends a wild (and very funny) night with the newly 18-year-old pop star. (GQ)
On worthiness: "Because the mighty and the strong don’t hold women in high regard, we feel that we’re not worthy of being held in high regard. So we miss one of the greatest steps a woman can take, which is the chance to be on her own side; to be her own health advocate. You really have to believe you’re worthy. That is the first step."
On fear. "So many of women don’t trust authority. They’re afraid of the mammogram machine. They’re afraid of the Pap smear. But those of us who know must show! Really, it is imperative that we not stop talking. We must not become impatient. And we must not think that we can lecture women into thinking better of themselves and their health. What we do is we love them. A person knows when somebody really cares."
On colds. "I think quite often the mind can heal the body. In fact, if
I’m traveling and in a hotel, and I wake up with a little scratch on my throat,
I get up and begin to shout, “Get out of my body! I don’t need you! Get out!
Get out of my body! Now, now!” Later, I go outside and the maids will
be in the lobby and they look around like, “Who tried to get into that woman’s body?”
It’s funny, of course. But you have to give your body permission to heal itself.
Why do we do this? Why does it feel so wrong to say "I want" (or even worse, "I need")? If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it has something to do with not wanting to seem incapable. Then I happened upon the "I want" list of the sculpture artist Louise Bourgeois. Part poem, part therapy, part life list, this document feels extraordinary (and not just because of the purple ink, although let's face it, that helps).
"I want to feel," reads the list. "I want to be good. I want to be better. I want to do it." It's striking, reading through this list, how empowering the idea of wanting becomes. It's not about being selfish; it's not about requesting goods and services. It's about connecting with that primal part of yourself, that inner kid who is all want and love and fury. It's about wanting to grow, to change, to connect -- it's a kind of wanting that's about reaching out, not reaching in.
The list is part of a new exhibit focusing on the influence of the subconscious and psychotherapy on Bourgeois' work, at the Freud Museum. According to The Guardian, the list "was inspired by the discovery of a cache of the artist's writing, which revealed that she had undergone psychoanalysis, a fact she had previously kept secret." The show's curator, Philip Larratt-Smith, told the Guardian that Bourgeois went from "making these tall, monolithic statues in the early 50s, then re-emerged with a totally new body of work in the 60s. It was always a mystery how she got from A to B. These writings fill in the story."
Looking inward, it seems, reinvigorated this artist's work. And perhaps pinpointing what she wanted was a part of this process. When you really get to the bottom of things, when you really acknowledge your desires, pushing past the politeness and the inbred "no, no, no!"s -- what is it you really, really want? Above all, the lists suggests, Bourgeois wanted to accomplish mastery. Ambitious. Inspiring. But not needy, or greedy, or incompetent in the least. Even in want, it seems, there is room for graciousness.
Increase Your Abundance
How to Say What You Want
There's this woman who I think is living my shadow life, or else I'm living hers: we see each other everywhere. I literally see her every day, and not at the same places either -- one day it was the library, the next day the coffee shop, the day after it was on the street in completely different neighborhood than where we usually see one another. But it took a Boom Boom! card suggesting the act of kindness to get me to introduce myself.
If you would like to become acquainted with someone in a very awkward way, I suggest interrupting her nice coffee break and then asking to take a photograph of her with some card in front on her face. That said, shouldn't we all just do this? Introduce ourselves, like normal human beings, instead of shuffling around not making eye contact with people, or spending years greeting familiar faces, "Hey! Hello...you...!"
About the Boom Boom cards. Each deck contains suggestions for kindness, which in my deck (Original Flavor) amounted to basic politeness I probably should employ every day but don't. Hold open a door. Call someone you haven't spoken with in a while. Apologize. Pick up some litter.
To this card, I say: If picking up dog poop is a revolutionary, call me Che Guevara. I guess it doesn't count as much if it's your own dog though.
Next! I think anyone who has ever worked in customer service can appreciate this one:
This one feels good, it really does. I wish every day, everywhere, I could tip extravagantly and often. I would burn through my budget real fast though, so I think on most days a really earnest smile and thank you will have to suffice. Still, it's one of the only kinds of spending money that actually feels nice. Well, that and:
The cutest aspect of these rather cute cards is how they turn kindness into a game. You register your deck (or individual card) online, and track your kindnesses, writing a little story (and including a photo or video if you like) about each card. What's coolest about this is reading other people's additions. I bought coffee for someone and felt kind of nervous the whole time; she was a little confused, but then again, this is New York City and it probably seemed like a weird scam. Then there's Denise in Jacksonville, Illinois, for example, who also bought someone coffee and reports that the recipient thanked her profusely and vowed to pay it forward. Kindness is catching, and the game-like aspect of these cards makes the small good deeds (and I appreciate how imminently do-able they are) feel even more fun. I found myself wanting to give the cards to people, too, because it struck me that the most fun part was the weird, warming act of buying a stranger coffee, picking up some litter -- it was the feeling of putting good energy into the air that I wanted most to share. Which I guess is the whole point.
Find out more about Boom Boom! Cards and read about people's kind acts here.
Play Oprah's Kindness Game!
Stories of Modern Kindness
Just about a month before his death, Yauch spoke with Project Happiness about the true meaning of -- and way to find -- happiness. He explained how his work for the people of Tibet had contributed to his own sense of happiness and peace: "I guess one way to look at it is that if one wants to create more happiness in their life in the future, then working towards doing more altruistic things or things to benefit other people, that’s the way to get there."
The interviewer asked him what everyday, non-celebs can do to make the world a better place. I love Yauch's response: "Everything we do affects other people... Every way that we interact with other people, even if it’s like, you’re at the store and buying something, and it’s the way that you interact with the clerk at the store. EVERY action that we take has some motivation of either being selfish or altruistic. All that adds up."
To Yauch happiness was looking outward, whether that translated into making music that meant something to people or getting involved in a large-scale human rights campaign. And looking outward, as he put it, can be a part of every day, every interaction. You don't have to make a number one hit, but you can make music to entertain your friends or family or self. You don't have to save all of Tibet, but you can be polite to the clerk at the store. According to Yauch in this interview, everyday kindness was the way to long-term happiness. And if you're looking for short-term happiness, a shot of pure silly joy in the moment, you might just have to listen to some Beastie Boys.
Read the entire interview, and learn more about Project Happiness, here.
Meet Mr. Happy Man
Revelations From the Happy Movie
How to be Happy