When I was in school we often had to do reports on one thing or another. Book reports were easy, you only needed the book. Others were more involved, requiring visits to the library, encyclopedias and other books on the given topic. One year I had to do a report on a state, I chose North Carolina. I remember having to call and request from the chamber of something or another and get information sent to me so that I could get the information needed for my report. It was a big deal, and once I received the information I remember pouring through looking for the things that were required for my report.
I’ve often thought how much easier it would be today. Today you just hop on your computer, type in a few keywords and poof! you have your report information. Since I started doing the around the world blog, I am finding that this is not really the case. It really is not all that easy because when you type in your keywords there is no telling how many pages are going to come up that are irrelevant to what you are looking for. In fact you receive so much more information, some of it false, than you could find in two or three local libraries. But still somewhere in all the links what you need does eventually show itself.
So I have decided that what I think is this, the internet is overwhelmingly helpful. It has what we need, we just have to learn to weed out the false and irrelevant and have a lot of patience. Not much different from my library days.
There is a contagion out there that I really think everyone needs to be aware of. It can be spread by physical or visual contact. Also audibly in the right circumstances. This “bug” is in fact so contagious that it can spread literally in seconds and has an immediate effect on the brain, altering levels of vital chemicals. You may be thinking right about now, “Why haven’t I heard anything about this? What should I do?” Well, here’s what I think. Since I am talking about the incredible smile and it’s ability to change your life and the life of others around you (even complete strangers) I say get infected! Smiling has real health benefits and is something we all need to catch more often. Aside from the purely external benefit of making us more attractive to others, smiling has been proven to increase neuropeptides which fight stress. Let’s face it, who here couldn’t use a little help fighting that? … Yep, as I thought, no one. We all face stress every day and we all could use a little pick me up. A smile might just be the pick me up you need. Also released when we smile are the neurotransmitters: dopamine, and serotonin, as well as endorphins. So a little run down on the effects of these little chemical gems. Dopamine motivates us. It allows us to see rewards and then go for them. Serotonin works as an anti-depressant and mood lifter. You’ve probably heard the word if you have any experience with depression. Endorphins, now there is a chemical for you. They work at blocking pain (I’m all for that) and increasing mood (I’m all for that too). Other benefits of these chemicals being released in the brain are a decrease in blood pressure, lower heart rate, and increased relaxation. Sounds pretty wonderful doesn’t it? But how true is it? Well I know I have benefited from it many times. Lousy day? Put on a smile and sure enough I perk up. I used to work in customer service. Actually I used to work in very fast paced, demanding customer service. My co-workers often thought I was off my rocker. Why? Because I kept the biggest smile plastered on my face all day long. Truth be known I didn’t particularly care for my job, but as long as I kept smiling I still managed to have fun. I got through every day feeling pretty good. So I have a challenge for you. If you really want to know if it works decide right now to spend one whole day smiling at everyone, including yourself. Sure, life might knock you down a little through the day, but smile anyway. And then at the end of the day you be the judge. You decide if the smile isn’t the best little “virus” you could ever catch!
I was on the way home from the doctor’s office today and caught most of the second half of The Diane Rehm Show on NPR and I am so glad I did! As her guest she had Salman Khan who is the man behind The Khan Academy. I had never heard of it until today but by the time I got home I couldn’t wait to get home and visit it. Basically the Academy, found at khanacademy.org, is a free educational site crammed pack full of short lectures in a variety of subjects. There seems to be no limit to the people who may find this site of use. Subjects of learning include math, computer science, history, art history, finance and economics and they hope to continue to expand. So I visited the site and decided I would watch one video just to get an idea and share it here. I watched a short video, in this case more of a slide show with voice overs discussing why look at art. After watching the video I found questions submitted by people who had viewed the “lecture” followed by room to comment yourself. Also you can ask a question for discussion if you chose. In just a few minutes, probably less than 15, I had an opportunity to think about and join in on a discussion of the value of art. I loved it! Next I want to work on my math skills…and science…ooh and more art…and history! If you’d like to listen to the interview of the founder, which I found fascinating, you can find it here: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2012-10-03/salman-khan-one-world-schoolhouse-education-reimagined . Anyhow, that’s what I think for today!