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January 2012 (141 posts)
The world can look a little dark and ugly sometimes. I think what we're supposed to do when we lose perspective (I'll never find a job I don't despise! I have no real friends anymore!) is to say bright, inspiring things to ourselves like, "You're healthy! Be grateful!" Or, "Somebody somewhere loves you!" Or "You're not starving in drought-ridden country with no medical attention!"
This never works for me.
Which is why I was so happy to stumble onto this Sightseeing Heat Map of Popular Spots Around the World on Peta Pixel yesterday.The map is generated by a site called Sightsmap that takes "the geographic data from the photos uploaded to Panoramio...and uses it to generate a..map."
The point here for most of us is to visualize where the most popular sightseeing places on the planet are, and where people are taking the most amount of photographs. (If you were traveling and wanted to really get away from the hustle and bustle of it all, for example, you should go to gray Northern Russia). For those of us who are having a lack-of-perspective day, though, the map can help out. Barring war journalists and experimental artists, why do people take photographs? Because they see something beautiful—be it the Eiffel Tower in Paris or a mud puddle in Victoria, Texas or their mom, smiling in front of rickshaw in Bombay, India. Each dribble of purple or red or orange or yellow is a concentration of strangers realizing hey, there's something out there I want to remember, there's some wonderful worth looking at a second time. I'm just saying...that many people can't be wrong.
The New and improved way to happy
Dr. Oz's 28-day plan to mind and body renewal
January's best beauty buys
8 lightweight scarves in pick-me-up shades
Your biggest dressing dilemmas—solved!
The project: to photograph the species facing extinction. The results: astounding images.
Are your New Year's weight loss resolutions crushing your soul?
"Even if you don't think you're a storyteller, you are." Six-word memoirs distill life to its essence.
Animal-testing that actually helps the animals, too.
What is the Peter Pan collar and where did it come from? The fascinating history of the twee trend.
The Life-Lifter: "We're not heroes. We did whatever any other neighbors would do." So say the courageous teenaged boys who helped to put out a fire in an Illinois family's home.
Clearly, there was some easy key to life satisfaction. If it hadn't turned out to be some career goal being met, most likely happiness would turn out to be related to having the right real estate. This woman has since acquired a house and she reports that eternal bliss has not been achieved. "Ach, the basement is flooding!" she said the last time I saw her. What about the theory that here lay happiness? She claimed not to remember the conversation.
I'm now aware enough to know that it's too flip to say happiness lies in accomplishments or housing or the most chic raincoat that would make every outfit look perfectly pulled together...but...there must be some key to feeling sanguine, right? Here is the question filmmaker Roko Belic set out to discover in his soon-to-be-released documentary, The Happy Movie. Belic writes for The Huffington Post about his experiences making the film, and some of the intriguing things he learned about happiness. One of the happiest people he came across in his filming was a poor rickshaw puller in an Indian slum. Said the rickshaw puller, "When I return home and see my son waiting for me, and when he calls out to me 'Baba!' I am full of joy."
Belic reveals that "one of the leading researchers of happiness in the world, Ed Diener, at the University of Illinois" told him "that a person's values are among the best predictors of their happiness. People who value money, power, fame and good looks are less likely to be happy than people who value compassion, cooperation and a willingness to make the world a better place...People who express their love—who rejoice in the health and happiness of others— are more likely to feel loved and happy themselves."
People who express their love. Not the people who have the most, or even who are themselves the most loved. I feel both that we know this...and that we need to remind ourselves of it every day. Love someone today. It's easy. It feels good. And it's free.
Visit The Happy Movie site for more on the upcoming Happy Day, and for information on how you can see the sure-to-be-uplifting documentary.
Let the Love In
A Pie Graph of Happiness
5 Things Happy People Do
All of which would horrify a true home economist, a housewife (as stay-at-home moms were called back when we were allowed to ignore our kids all day) like Bettina, of the 1917 cookbook A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband.
This cookbook, which is not nearly as titillating as its sensationalist title suggests (unless you have some really creative uses for vinegar sauce and weak coffee) is the subject of Sadie Stein's great essay "Ways and Means" for The Paris Review. A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, as Stein writes, is filled with vignettes of the fictional Bettina and Bob's married life, complete with recipes perfect for the thrifty wartime bride with a hankering for pimentos. Bettina has great passion for "the word 'economical,' her energy-efficient fireless cooker (a slow cooker of sorts), and the budget notebook that is her preferred topic of dinner-table conversation." She lectures her husband on the price of steak, the joys of buying in bulk.
The book is a hoot as far as retro recipes go. All that white sauce! But, as Stein points out, "the emphasis on modern methods, labor-saving devices, and the science of housekeeping—not to mention that suffragette brunch!—is clearly intended to inspire the young bride not just with confidence but with a sense of the importance of her role." You must read her whole essay, in which Stein discusses her project of cooking every recipe in the book —the results are hilarious. But what strikes me most is how Stein writes, "like any young bride of 1917, I wanted to enter into Bettina’s perfectly ordered existence." She calls the book "a bastion of make-believe order in a scary world."
How appealing! Because this world, it is scary and complicated and messy, in ways that no one can protect her family from, no matter how hard she tries. And personally, I rarely savor a sense of the importance of my role as a "young bride." My resting state is more general befuddlement. So while Bettina's menus and mathematics give me palpitations, I do very much like the idea that I could take control over my home life and better manage household expenses, that the food I prepare for my family could impose a sense of calm, instill some order. Would Bettina allow a toddler to mash $3 worth of Dr. Prager's fishies into a cup of pink milk? I doubt it! If only I, like Bettina, could plan my menu a week at a time, intelligently using leftovers in an organized manner, cheerily reminding my family of how efficiently our little industry could operate. And you know, maybe with the right recipes and a better attitude, I can.
Food That Calms and Comforts
Menu Plans for Cleansing
New Chicken Recipes for Family Dinners
You know a good bra can give you a much needed lift and even improve your posture, but slipping this microfiber tunic from Mission Control over it takes the miracle work one step further...at least when it comes to back flab. The wide straps won't dig and the back panel extends all the way up to your shoulder blades (smoothing any lumps or bumps below it). Bonus: Compression panels cinch you in at the waist and slim your tush and thighs so you can knock 'em dead in a curve-hugging dress.
Keep reading to discover more back slimming solutions
Solve your most pressing body problems—once and for all
Flattering gym gear (yes, it exists!)
Your mother was right: stop slouching and you'll magically be more beautiful. Plus 10 other makeup-free ways to feel gorgeous.
The world's most amazing paper dioramas (with apologies to hard-working third graders everywhere).
Rare video footage of how Helen Keller learned to talk—sure to give you a happy shiver.
Cool pic of the day: We should all be as adaptable as this intrepid tree.
The Life-Lifter: We love Tucker! The tiny but brave dog who saved his family from a house fire.
Oatmeal. The trick to chewy but not mushy oats is in the cooking time. Resist the temptation to set the timer for 9 hours. The oats--even those sturdy steel-cut ones--will lose all texture if you cook them that long. Although some recipes call for just 4 to 6 hours of cooking time, you may prefer to have a bit more sleep than that. So 7 or 8 hours is a fine compromise. Just before going to bed, combine 1 cup of oats and 3 cups of water in a slow cooker. Set on low, cover and cook. In the morning, stir in milk, cream, spices or fruit to taste.