Living Well -- Archives
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Why don’t robots do a better job at cleaning houses? What’s the most important characteristic of a successful CEO? What quick, easy task could you accomplish today that could save a life? How many people in this modern age are enslaved? These are just a few of the questions addressed at STAN, a TEDxStanford prototype event held on campus on Saturday, May 21.
The day started off in an ever-so-perfectly Stanford way with 70-degree temperatures, a cl...
Innovation is a hot topic these days. Obama sees it as the solution to the nation’s current economic downturn. Books appear on the subject every month. The cover article of this month’s Stanford magazine reveals how innovation is taught at the d.school, where students from all disciplines join together to prototype and bring new products to market (such as Embrace, a low-cost infant warmer that is saving thousands of lives in the developing world).
Innovation, therefore, was...
Here is one simple, reliable step you can take today in order to bring yourself greater daily peace and happiness: Get organized. This week, an interview with Pauline Wiles, aka The English Organizer.
MF: Tell me your philosophy when it comes to organization.
PW: Clutter in your home or workplace is a huge drain, both in terms of your productivity and your psychological health. The benefits that come from a well-ordered work and living space are huge—and anyone can achieve this. Once you start, it gets much easier to keep it going.
MF: So do you have any tips for getting started?
PW: Let’s assume Martha Stewart isn’t troubled by this, but a lot of people experience clutter issues. Then when they decide to get organized and deal with the mess, they try to do too much too so...
The question I've been pondering in response to Valentine's Day is not: "How much chocolate can I eat?" But rather, "How do we take care of our own fragile hearts?"
I spent Sunday at a silent meditation retreat led my dear friend, psychologist Dr. Kelly Werner. It reminded me of what I already know so well, but can easily forget in the midst of the chaos and activity of everyday life: That whenever I slow down, shut up, and focus on my breath, I feel boundless. I explode with love for all beings -- myself included.
I first learned this lesson a few years ago at a 10-day Vipassana retreat in Northern California. In the SN Goenka tradition...
1) “The Happiness Project” Email
Gretchen Rubin, author of New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project, puts out a free daily email sharing lessons from her year spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. This is high-quality stuff. I love Rubin’s analytical mind and refusal to be Pollyannaish. She goes deeper in examining what brings about day-to-day peace as...
In the ongoing theme of my past two blogs about the (<) movement, whose goal it is to reduce consumption, and in the spirit of the season, here is my non-consumer holiday gift-giving guide.
• Experiential Gifts
Ten years ago, my family started a new tradition. We determined to do away with presents and celebrate “Experiential Christmases” instead. Our mantra: Give experiences, not things. Over the years, we have pooled our funds, each family member contributing based on what he/she can afford. Sometimes we’ve splurged on trips to Cambodia, Napa, and Paris. Sometimes we’ve gone to my mom’s home in Honolulu and spent our funds on dinner at a fancy restaurant and a show or concert. Less expensive versions of this option include going for hikes, caroling, volunteering at a soup kitchen, and cooking together—any activity where you share the precious gift of time. T...
Every Wednesday evening, around 4:30pm, a half dozen of my friends gather at the Stanford track for our very own boot camp. As we stretch and do sit-ups in the corner of the track, our eyes gaze across the track as we admire the youthful, athletic bodies of the Stanford athletes training for NCAA championship competitions, making it look so easy to sprint around the track, round after round.
This activity may not seem so unusual. It's a well-known fact that exercise is easier and funner when you have a buddy to motivate you. And this group of friends, who are around ages 20-45, looks just like any other fitness group. We are huffing and puffing, groaning after push-ups, stretching our calves. We are laughing and running/walking up and down the stairs, chatting away, keeping our minds occupied during the dreaded workout.
But, if I may say so myself, this is an elite group. We have all spent days, weeks, sometimes months, just a few blocks away at Stanford Hos...
Isn't it interesting how our food habits change over time? Sometimes the changes are prompted by the availability of new products, or new research, or even a new manufacturing process ("baby" carrots).
One way in which my habits are changing is a pronounced shift to whole grains. Why? Well...let's say the research showing how much value they add to our diets isn't new but it finally appears to have gotten through my own thick skull.
One way my family and I are enjoying whole grains now is in SooFoo, a new product (see - another prompt!) created in San Francisco! You might have seen it, too -- samples were being handed out in my Whole Foods when I was there recently.
I had the fun of sitting down with the man behind SooFoo as part of research for a brand new editio...
In honor of the holiday season, it's a plea for consuming less.
(<) is an open source brand. A movement. A revolution.
Tagline: “Sometimes the things we own end up owning us.”
Aspiration: “To become an internationally recognized symbol, like the peace sign, but for a new generation grappling with sustainability.”
Think simplicity. Think (Red) campaign only better. Think buy less crap. Get rid of stuff, lots of it. Ride your bike or take mass transit. Move to a smaller apartment. Turn the lights off. Make your own clothes out of things you already have. Minimize you...
Make Thanksgiving last all year by practicing gratitude!
In studies conducted by the founder of the positive psychology movement, Dr Martin Seligman, participants who kept gratitude journals every day for a week ranked higher in happiness and lower on stress levels, and many were found to be continuing the practice on their own a year later. These apps can help you turn gratitude into a daily habit.
Gratitude! has been my personal favorite for a long time and is also a big hit among bloggers. It allows you to rate your day from 1 to 5 stars, list several things that you’re grateful for, and then attach a photo if you so desire. When you’re done, you get rewarded with an inspirational quote delivered by a cartoon figure of a bl...
I would surmise most of you are thinking about turkey and even Christmas right now. My husband is a bit panicked as he forgot to contact our local turkey farm and no one is answering. Have the turkeys taken their revenge?
Unfortunately my husband is on his own this year as I am focused elsewhere. The time has finally arrived for me to have my reconstructive ACL surgery. In my last blog, Move Over Charlotte, Its My Web, I shared my path from injury in July on the soccer field to finding a very competent, experienced surgeon to do the operation.
An aspect of living well that has eluded me is having a garden aflame with color. I am deeply moved by the sight of a planted area glowing with multicolor blooms, but I can’t get the hang of growing one because of an herbal conspiracy:
The secret Fellowship of Plants has decided that I am unfit for flowers.
I don’t know how this came about; I’m quite fond of blossoms and admire them in other people’s gardens. But when I take possession of a plant, it immediately closes its bloom department and concentrates its earnestness and resources on producing leaves.
My neighbor and I plant pots of impatiens from the same nursery. We water them, talk to them nicely, check them each morning. After a month, the neighbor’s pot looks like an en...
There are lots of reasons why we should give back to the world, selflessly helping others. If you’re online on your computer (or iPad or smartphone) right now reading this blog, then chances are you have many blessings in life: you’re intelligent, educated, at least middle class by the world’s economic standards, and engaged.
The good news is that performing altruistic acts doesn’t have to be about just alleviating guilt or fulfilling a religious obligation. Serving the world directly serves you, too. Numerous studies show that volunteering can boost self-esteem, fight depression and anxiety, reduce stress, and strengthen the immune system. I personally find it to be one of the most powerful methods available for getting out of my head and experiencing profound gratitude for my life.
So rather than simply throwing yet another party for our friends and family this past Saturday, my pals Kelly, Michael, and I decided it’d b...
So I'm starting a cleanse today: No alcohol, refined sugar, caffeine, dairy, or gluten for the next 9 days. I'll be eating mostly veggies, fruits, and some lean protein (I eat chicken and fish). I'll be exercising as much as possible, yoga to sweat the toxins out and swimming/hiking for cardio. And of course, drinking tons of water.
I'm doing this to give my body a break, rejuvenate my cells, flush out toxins, maybe drop a couple of pounds, and generally feel good as we enter into the holiday season. I suppose, if I'm being perfectly honest, I have to admit that I'm also doing it as a sort of test of my willpower. Can I avoid the mid-afternoon bites of chocolate and glass of wine with dinner that I so love? Can I be super conscious of my eating choices, resist temptation, and even revel in my self-discipline? This kind of stuff appeals to me... I like to test myself.
Many years ago, I did the 10-day Master Cl...
When I was an undergrad at Stanford back in the early 90s, the school had a liberal alcohol policy. RAs would buy booze for frosh. The frats threw huge parties every weekend where they served Everclear punch out of trashcans. We never had to sneak around with our beer and vodka bottles.
But there was one rule we all knew that we had to respect in order not to get busted by our elders: If there was booze at a party, there had to be EANABs.
EANABs meant “Equally Attractive Non-Alcoholic Beverages” in Stanford-speak. In other words, at your parties you had to offer not just water, but sparkling water, cranberry and orange juice, even non-alcoholic beer. The intention of this policy was to make non-drinkers feel equally supported and welcome at all on-campus events.
After I graduated, I continued this tradition of providing EANABs at parties that I hosted. I felt I’d learned a valuable lesson from Stanford about ...
“There are three refuges of Buddhism: Buddha, dharma [wisdom teachings], and sangha [community],” His Holiness the Dalai Lama said last Friday as he sat on stage at Memorial Auditorium, wrapped in his trademark red and yellow robes. “There should be a fourth: science.” He followed this controversial remark with one of his delightful chortles, sounding more than a bit like Yoda.
I had the great honor of attending an all-day conference last Friday during which top scholars from Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, or CCARE (to which the Dalai Lama has given his largest personal donation ever to a non-Tibetan cause), presented their findings. CCARE&...
This past weekend, surrounded by loved ones in an idyllic mountain setting in rural Oregon, my best friend Jen Kramer Tate, '94, and her husband Kevin Smith Tate, '95, celebrated their ten-year wedding anniversary.
Jen is my doppleganger; the one I can always count on to show up at the Lady Gaga concert in Vegas in an outrageous costume. We met while undergrads at Stanford, spent our early 20s with our boyfriends as the hub of a group of San Franciscans dubbed “The Tribe,” and got married within a year of one another.
But then our paths diverged. I started writing books and took off traveling the world with my husband; Jen and Kevin gave birth to their first child and mo...
(I wrote this post in September but somehow didn't post it correctly so here goes):
Hello, fellow Alums,
It has been a long time since I've posted. The summer seemed to have just flown by! My days have been a constant go-go-go, and I've struggled just to be calm enough to sit, reflect and write. I'm in the middle of a very big project, helped plan some other events, hosted visitors, had two sibling weddings, went out of town a handful of times since April, and also had an exciting athletic competition this summer at the US Transplant Games in Madison, Wisconsin. I am living well, I am living fully, but I am exhausted.
So, I wish to reflect on the importance of finding balance, and specifically, on being still. I often think, "I'm SO Type A..." which might be another way of saying, "I'm SO Stanford." Yes, but I do recall the pride I felt my freshman year when I heard we're also an impressive "WELL-ROUNDED" bunch. Well-rounded, to me, mea...
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