A free world needs political cartoons | Patrick Chappatte

We need humor like we need the air we breathe, says editorial cartoonist Patrick Chappatte. In a talk illustrated with highlights from a career spent skewering everything from dictators and ideologues to selfies and social media mobs, Chappatte makes a resounding, often hilarious case for the necessity of satire. "Political cartoons were born with democracy, and they are challenged when freedom is," he says.
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How we use astrophysics to study earthbound problems | Federica Bianco

To study a system as complex as the entire universe, astrophysicists need to be experts at extracting simple solutions from large data sets. What else could they do with this expertise? In an interdisciplinary talk, TED Fellow and astrophysicist Federica Bianco explains how she uses astrophysical data analysis to solve urban and social problems — as well as stellar mysteries.
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When You Start Thinking That You’re Not Good Enough…

“You are strong when you know your weaknesses. You are beautiful when you appreciate your flaws. You are wise when you learn from your mistakes.” ~Unknown

The most annoying thing for me is to hear someone tell me, “Just stop it!” whenever I am frustrated or discouraged and looking for answers and solutions.

When you’re anxious, and someone tells you, “Stop worrying, it will all be fine…” these words only add fuel to the fire and often make you angry. At least this is true for me.

It reminds me of a funny video I watched about a “unique” therapeutic approach, when a therapist just tells a patient, after listening to their problems with deep emotional issues, “STOP IT!”

“But I can’t just stop it,” the patient responds. “This issue has been within me since childhood, and my mom used to do the same.”

But the therapist just calmly responds, “We don’t go there. Just stop it.”

If only it were that easy to stop it: the limiting beliefs, the destructive behavior, the unwanted outcomes, the toxic relationships, etc. All people would be skinny, rich, and happy, and we’d live in the ideal word, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

You can’t just stop a feeling, especially one that tells you “you are not good enough.”

No matter how hard I work on my personal growth and myself, the feelings of inadequacy and comparisons to others creep in occasionally, especially when things don’t go according to my plans. It is so easy for me to blame myself when I’m feeling frustrated.

No matter how hard I try to push away the feeling that I’m not good enough, it doesn’t go away. In fact, it just strengthens. The more I resist that feelings, the more it persists.

The ironic part is that my intellectual mind knows it’s not true that I’m not good enough. On a good day, I feel powerful and anchored, and I know my value. But on a bad day—when I fail at something or take things personally—I can’t seem to stop the wave of negative emotions that take me over.

I’ve learned that I can’t just snap out of a negative feeling. I can’t just stop it. And I can’t bottle it.

So what can you do when your inner voice tells you “you are not good enough”?

Well, first of all, you need to acknowledge what you’re feeling. When you accept your feelings instead of trying to change them, they have less power over you, and can even serve you by encouraging your growth.

For example, I recently attended a local speaking club where a French lady presented a speech. She spoke in English, but, as I speak French, I wanted to complement her speech in the French language.

To my big annoyance, my mind just went blank after “Excellent travail!” (Great job!) I couldn’t think of another word. I quickly switched to English, but I felt like a failure.

My logical mind was saying, “It’s okay, you don’t use French often, that’s why you forgot,” but my emotional mind woke up all my gremlins, who were screaming at me “You are not good enough!”

I felt really frustrated, but that incident encouraged me to go back to my French books to refresh my memory. I enjoyed rereading Le Petit Prince, and in the end, I felt good about myself.

It might be a simple example, but that’s how our psychology works.

When you look your insecurity in the eyes, it often reveals an opportunity for fulfillment or improvement. Don’t deny it; listen to it. Don’t engage in the emotions it produces—the feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and shame; just listen to what it has to say.

It doesn’t matter how many times I tell you, “You are beautiful and amazing just the way you are” (and by the way, this is absolutely true); when you look at yourself in the mirror and you don’t like what you see, you will find it hard to believe this. You inner voice might tell you, “You are not good enough as you are right now.”

Acknowledge that voice and consider that maybe your insecurity has some constructive value; for example, maybe your inner voice is trying to encourage you to start eating healthier or working out.

You also need to accept the fear that you’re not good enough as part of yourself. I don’t care where you are in life—how successful, loved, and fulfilled you might feel—we all focus on our flaws and imperfections from time to time. It’s called being human. We can’t always be at our best and most confident. And this is okay.

It’s okay to occasionally feel like you are not good enough, as long as you recognize that thoughts and feelings aren’t facts and don’t dwell in that state.

These wobbly moments are unpleasant but inevitable; you can’t avoid them.

Give yourself a permission to be imperfect, to question and doubt yourself occasionally. Without questions and doubts we wouldn’t be able to grow and develop.

I believe through wrestling with our weaknesses we are able to get to the other side of our strengths. But we can’t just ignore our shortcomings. They’re an undeniable part of us. We have to be aware and own the good, the bad, and the ugly within us, so we are better equipped to deal with our limitations.

So, the question is not how to eliminate the negative voice, but how to learn to deal with it in an intelligent, mature, and conscious way. Listen to it, learn from it, but don’t let it define who you are, don’t let it write your story.

Don’t be afraid of it and don’t try to stop it; allow it to help you learn more about who you are and who you can be.

About Anna Simpson

Ukrainian by birth, American at heart, Anna now enjoys a quiet life in the English countryside as well as traveling all over the world with her beloved husband. Passionate about helping women find love and create their dream relationships by helping them improve their self-image. Anna is a believer that we all deserve to live the life of our dreams.

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The post When You Start Thinking That You’re Not Good Enough… appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

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The Psychological Reason You Need to Spend Time Distracted

Whenever I go for a run, I do best when I’m with a friend, or listening to a music or podcast. In other words, running is painful, and it’s easier to forget that and continue running when I’m distracted. It lets me run faster, run longer, and actually enjoy my outing.

But distractions have been given a bad rap. People talk about clearing your desk of distractions or focusing and avoiding distractions. We’re encouraged to stay as true to our course as possible, with no deviations.

While it’s true that distractions can be a bad thing that detract from your everyday life, it’s also true that, harnessed correctly, distractions can be a beneficial source of inspiration, productivity, and uplift your mood.

Your brain on distractions.

People like to say that our brains are a one-track machine. We can’t multitask, we’re easily distracted, we need to focus on one thing at a time to get it done.

While it may seem that you are continuously focusing on reading this article, the reality is that you’re zooming in and out of attention up to four times per second. — Daphne Leprince-Ringuet, author on Wired

But it’s not true: our mind is built to be distracted. We perform at our best when we are distracted.

Think about how our species developed. It was much more beneficial for us to be constantly scanning the environment for danger, food, or anything else that could be useful or informative. That stone spear you were working on wouldn’t do you much good if you were so intently focused on carving it that you were eaten by a lion.

Ten thousand years later, we think that just because we can wear suits and attend the opera, our brains are much more sophisticated. They’re not. The same brains that helped us avoid danger back in the savanna are the same ones that can’t focus on one thing for too long, because we’re easily distracted.

But what people never seem to realize is that it’s a positive, not a negative. Instead of trying to spend long hours doing a single task, we’re built to switch it up and try new things.

The problem? Attention is currency these days.

Video games, social networks, television: they’re all designed with this very feature in mind. They’re built to be engaging, distracting, to have us latch on with our full attention. Every generation of these unwanted distractions is more attuned to our brains than ever before.

Meanwhile, our work is just as uninviting and boring as it has been for the last couple of decades. It is easy to be distracted from it, and Candy Crush is just a few finger taps away.

So, to circumvent that, you have to proactively build distraction gaps into your day. Give yourself carefully structured times to be distracted and watch how easy it is to stay focused the rest of your time.

When you notice that just about anything can pull you away from your desk, when you’re staring at the screen with all the attention and determination of a newborn housefly, when you’re dreaming of doing anything but what you’re currently doing — go get distracted.

The benefits of distraction.

There are two kinds of distraction: self-suppression and self-expansion. Self-suppression might be the kind we’re most familiar with, where we watch TV or play video games to numb whatever unpleasant feelings we’re feeling. People use this kind to self-medicate from the dire dullness of work, which is why it has such a bad reputation.

But its powers can be harnessed for good, too. I use this one most often when running. When I go for a run, I’m normally out of breath, sweaty, sometimes with a cramp, not to mention experiencing general fatigue. So, I put on a distraction to make all that go away, at least a little bit. A funny podcast, or a boppy playlist. And it helps.

Maybe if I were trying to focus on my best performance ever, distractions would be detrimental to my workout.

But all I’m trying to do is make it as fun and simple for me to go out three or four times a week. I won’t do that if I’m not enjoying the run, or at least I am being distracted by how much I’m disliking the run.

“Listening to music you like while exercising has been shown to help release the endorphins that relieve stress and depression,” — Dr. Vijay B. Vad, sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Especially while not at the ultimate level of sports, distractions can really help lessen our typical dislike of exercise, resulting in more exercise, which is only a good thing.

Self-expansion distraction is where the real magic is found, though. With self-expansion, you can use distractions not to tamp down unwanted emotions or feelings, but rather to express natural avenues of interest. If you get distracted by things like wanting to know what that particular species of butterfly is, or by being interested in learning a new language, or daydreaming about visiting a new country — follow those distractions, because they will lead you to where you really want to go.

These kinds of distractions reveal where your true interest lies. You’ll grow as a person for following them, developing skills and experiences that will enrich your life.

A writing example

I was writing a story earlier on something I don’t quite remember now, when I started browsing on Twitter, because I was bored. Angry at myself, I closed the tab to try to focus on my story with no distractions.

I realized I was bored because I wasn’t actually interested in the story, I just felt like I needed to write it. I stopped writing it, left it in my drafts folder, and started writing this one instead. I’m fascinated by the topic, and this story has absolutely flown out of my fingers.

By following my own interests, by following anything that distracts me to wherever it leads me, I’ve had a much more enjoyable hour of writing, and learned a lot more about a topic that is interesting to me.

What’s the takeaway?

Honestly, if you can focus on a task for three hours at a time with no distractions, more power to you. Me, I’ll be over here with the rest of the mortals, trying to make the most of the inevitable distractions that will come my way.

Distractions are a necessary part of our lives. Any kind of stimulus might trigger a total distraction from our daily lives, and it’s important to recognize and minimize the ones we don’t want, for example by turning off our notifications.

But once you understand what’s driving them and how they work, you can start using distraction to improve your life. Build them into your workday and watch how your productivity improves. @ZulieRane (Click to Tweet!)

Find out what triggers a lapse in attention — it might be a new hobby or passion that you’ve been suppressing up till now. And if you absolutely must do something unpleasant, well, there’s no harm in being distracted while you do it.

Zulie Rane is a reader and a writer who believes in the power to change the world through the written word. You can find her writing on ZulieRane.com, posting selfies and art on Instagram at @zulierane and tweeting bad puns on Twitter at @zulierane.

Image courtesy of Guillaume Bolduc.

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The post The Psychological Reason You Need to Spend Time Distracted appeared first on Positively Positive.