Cowboy Ethics

There was a time when a person's word was enough. You could sell the farm  on a handshake without worrying about whether the other side would follow through. But those were simpler times. These days, to get what was promised, you'd better have it in writing. After this unethical climate occasioned the financial meltdown in 2008, 40-year Wall Street veteran James Owen knew something had to change. Society had gotten too far away from the days when…

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In Life, Lean In or Lose Out.

Saint Benedict once said: "Daily keep your death before your eyes."  In May of 2015, luminary Parker Palmer took the stage at Naropa University (an liberal arts college in Boulder, Colorado that emphasizes Buddhist teachings of enlightenment) and gave one of the truest commencement addresses of all time. Echoing the wisdom of Saint Benedict, his message was: in life, lean in or lose out. To lean in is to embrace fear and uncertainty. In Palmer's Words: Clinging…

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Can Your Academic Major Predict Your Personality Type?

It is well-settled that there are five personality traits: (1) neuroticism; (2) conscientiousness; (3) agreeableness; (4) extraversion; and (5) openness to experience. Each of us has a certain mix of these traits, which determines our overall personality.  For instance, it's no surprise that those who skew towards conscientiousness have long dominated the curves at universities across the country, but depending on their levels of neuroticism, extraversion, etc., they may have had very few friends to tell about…

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Left-Handedness and Genius

Despite stunning scientific advances in genetics, nanotechnology and robotics (to name a few), many neurologic phenomena remain unexplained. Take hand dominance. Scientists have been struggling for centuries to explain why, unlike animal populations whose right vs. left limb dominance always follows a 50/50 distribution, nearly 90% of the human population is right-handed. Although the answer is still blurry, the history of how neuroscientists arrived at it--including a dissection of Einstein's brain--is fascinating. As a preliminary matter, it is…

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The Nietzsche Hypothesis: How Failure Fuels Fulfillment

In 1887,  famed philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote as follows: To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities — I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not — that one endures. At first…

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The Five Best Brain-Boosting Rituals

Your brain is your engine of success. Research suggests that adopting the five following rituals will keep it finely tuned into your golden years. Savor the little victories: your brain doesn't know the difference between little ones and big ones, but perceived progress is an enormous driver of positive behaviors and neurochemistry. Consider a morning routine that ends with an accomplishment (working out, writing a blog entry, etc.) to get your victory in the bag at the…

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Brains or Brawn: What Does Your Workout Build?

Your brain is a muscle, but new studies are revealing that certain types of exercise build it better than others. A recent study funded by the Academy of Finland examined how different kinds of exercise affect production of a protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is responsible for triggering neurogenesis (the production of new neurons throughout life, which in turn determines how gracefully our brains age from a functional standpoint). The study was performed on a group of rats…

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Seneca’s Lesson of Living Fully

It's a pearl of wisdom as ignored as it is ubiquitous: seize the day. Alabama sang about it in the early nineties, and more recently, Tim McGraw extolled all of us to live like we are dying. But it is to the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca that we all owe the credit for this profound lesson. In his most famous work, On the Shortness of Time, Seneca urged us to live fully because time is our most valuable resource. He reasoned that…

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Can Adults Grow More Neurons?

The short answer is "yes," through a process called neurogenesis. Unsurprisingly, one of the primary areas for neuron growth is the portion of the brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning. Neuroscientists estimate that we generate approximately 700 neurons there a day, and that by middle-age, we've replaced all of the hippocampic neurons we were born with with new ones. Now for the elephant in the room regarding neurogenesis: can we control it? Again,…

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Like Water: The Wisdom of Bruce Lee

Two years before his death, at the age of 31, American martial arts icon Bruce Lee had an epiphany. Already a successful actor and filmmaker, Lee had accomplished much, but he wanted more. Self-consciousness over goals left unaccomplished consumed him. Sensing this inner struggle, Lee's sensei, Yip Man, said: "Preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don't interfere. Remember to never assert yourself against nature...never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but control it…

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