“There is a famous question that shows up, it seems, in every single self-help book every written: What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?
But I’ve always seen it differently. I think the fiercest question of all is this one: What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?
What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?
What do you love even more than you love your own ego?
How fierce is your trust in that love?” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
- Up First
I have come to rely on this quick news source almost every month. This podcast, produced by NPR, gives you the headlines from around the world in about fifteen minutes. Perfect dog walking time. I have found it to be global, not just focusing on the United States, and to include quick interviews with reporters from around the world who are experiencing things first hand.
The complaints of well-educated, middle- and upper-middle class women are easy to dismiss as temporary, or not really a crisis, or #FirstWorldProblems. America, in the grand scheme of things, is still a rich, relatively safe country. (Syrian refugees do not have the luxury of waking up in the middle of the night worried about credit card bills.) Although many women are trying to make it on minimum-wage, split-shift jobs (and arguably don’t have so much a midlife crisis as an ongoing crisis), women overall are closing the wage gap. Men do more at home. We deal with less sexism than our mothers and grandmothers, and have far more opportunities. Insert your Reason Why We Don’t Deserve to Feel Lousy here.
Fine. Let’s agree that this particular slice of Generation X women shouldn’t feel bad. And yet, many do: Nearly 60 percent of Gen Xers describe themselves as stressed out. A 2009 analysis of General Social Survey data showed that women’s happiness “declined both absolutely and relative to men” from the early ’70s to the mid-2000s. More than one in five women are on antidepressants. An awful lot of middle-aged women are furious and overwhelmed. What we don’t talk about enough is how the deck is stacked against them feeling any other way.
Five to one: According to one of the most prominent social scientists in the field of romantic relationships, John Gottman, that’s the ratio of positive to negative interactions in stable relationships. Couples were significantly less likely to get a divorce when they had about five positive interactions for every negative interaction they had.
How does that ratio compare with your own relationships, romantic and otherwise? More specifically, how often do you put conscious effort into fostering positive interactions? How often do you tell people when you’re enjoying something they’re doing, or when they’ve made you happy, or when you’re feeling appreciative of them? It’s easy to save up all your gratitude and positive feedback for their next birthday card or for Thanksgiving, but you have so many more opportunities than that to get closer to someone, and all it takes is sharing your positive feelings about them in real time.
In what’s being heralded as the “largest survey of American religious and denominational identity” ever conducted, PRRI found that historic shifts have taken place in the nation’s religious identity over the past few years, and suggests that the coming years are going to look very different for its religious landscape.
White Christians, who comprised 80 percent of the country just four decades ago, now make up just 43 percent of the U.S. In 2006, white Protestants accounted for nearly a full quarter of the American population. Today, they make up just 17 percent. Black protestants, in the meantime, make up abut 8 percent of the country, and have generally been holding at a much steadier rate than white Christians have.