15 MORE things you didn’t know about clean energy. 🌿

15 MORE things you didn’t know about clean energy:

Last month, I shared a blog that delved into a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, clean and renewable energy (you can read it here.)

Today, I’ll explore 15 more facts about clean energy – which is ready to change our world!

  1. The use of the sun, wind, and water to provide heat, fuel, or other utility is nothing new. In fact, many ancient cultures utilized natural elements to improve their lives. The ancient Egyptians designed their homes to maximize the sun’s heat, and in Greece, Socrates even gave lectures on solar architecture. The Romans used solar to keep their homes and structures light and warm and built advanced aqueduct systems to provide water to their citizens. From ancient Chinese dynasties to the early pre-American civilizations and more, embracing the sun and nature to improve our lives is almost as ancient as humankind itself.
  2. Fast forward all the way to 2021, and power generation from renewable energy sources just hit an all-time high. In fact, about 30% of the world’s electricity comes from renewable or clean energy sources these days, and that number is even higher if we add in nuclear power or other hybrid sources.
  3. For the first time ever (ok, since the industrial age at least!), that 30% of the world’s energy from renewables surpasses the percentage generated from coal.
  4. Is the adoption of renewable energy viable for large industrial cities and population centers? At least 100 cities across the globe now use 70% renewable energy or more, and many are committing to reach 100% use of renewable energy sources.
  5. If the U.S. went with 100% renewable energy right now, it would save $321 billion in energy costs in the first year alone – and that includes the cost of much-needed clean energy infrastructure improvements.
  6. In September 2021, the United Nations is hosting a High Level Dialogue on Energy, the first symposium of its kind in 40 years. The UN-Energy organizer hopes to unite nations, the business community, international organizations, and civil societies with the goal of taking broad and definite action to implement renewable energy and more.
  7. By 2050, it’s estimated that solar power will supply approximately 50% of U.S. energy needs! Add in other renewable power sources, and the vast majority of electricity will be clean and green within a few decades.
  8. If you compare the cost per MWh, solar comes out a clear winner for consumers who want to save. In fact, Solar P.V. is $30-$60, Gas $50-$90, and Coal $50-$120.
  9. The role of fossil fuel use on greenhouse gas emissions has now been scientifically proven without a shadow of a doubt.
  10. The energy sector is by far the largest offender when it comes to the use of greenhouse gases that enable climate chaos.
  11. Two-thirds of all growth in renewable energy now comes from wind and solar power.
  12. Most fossil fuels are woefully inefficient. For instance, coal only emits 29% of its original intrinsic value in energy. On the other end of the scale, wind power gives off 1,164% of its value in energy, the most efficient of all energy sources.
  13. According to the Wall Street Journal, geothermal, hydro, nuclear, and solar power all over 200% efficiency, while natural gas (38%), oil (30%) and coal are all emphatically below 100%.
  14. “We’re #1! We’re #1!”
    Actually, the U.S. is decidedly #2 in clean energy growth, with China leading the way by a wide margin. China alone is responsible for nearly 50% of the world’s increase in renewable energy sources in 2021, then followed by the U.S., the E.U., and India. However, the renewable energy market is set to explode in the U.S., so we very well could be #1 soon!
  15. The U.S. is already taking ambitious steps to reach that goal, including investing about $2 trillion in clean and renewable energy, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, and “decarbonizing” the power sector fully by 2035. Those measures and more will help us achieve our vision of having net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Sources:

https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/energy-and-resources/articles/renewable-energy-outlook.html
https://irena.org/publications/2021/Aug/Renewable-energy-statistics-2021
https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-review-2021/renewables
https://www.undp.org/blogs/five-reasons-be-optimistic-about-clean-energy-2021
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/renewable-energy
https://www.undp.org/blogs/five-reasons-be-optimistic-about-clean-energy-2021
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-06/the-10-ways-renewable-energy-s-boom-year-will-shape-2021
https://www.epa.gov/statelocalenergy/local-renewable-energy-benefits-and-resources
spectra.mhi.com/fastest-growing-energy-sources 
c2es.org/content/renewable-energy/ 
thinkprogress.org/clean-energy-more-jobs-than-fossil-fuels-32f615915399/ 
iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2014/september/how-solar-energy-could-be-the-largest-source-of-electricity-by-mid-century.html 
ewea.org/wind-energy-basics/faq/ 
rewiringamerica.org/ 
https://www.inspirecleanenergy.com/blog/clean-energy-101/renewable-energy-facts
https://www.visualcapitalist.com/capturing-the-renewable-energy-shift/
https://energydigital.com/top10/top-10-companies-adopting-green-energy
https://cleanchoiceenergy.com/news/Ancient_Solar

15 Things you didn’t know about clean energy. ☀️

2021 will be known as a pivotal year in human history, and not just for the reasons you may think.

While it may not be front page news, the world is taking a monumental leap forward this year when it comes to adopting renewable energy.

Renewable or clean energy refers to a broad spectrum of technologies and power sources. But the one common denominator is that renewable and clean energy sources help to reduce pollution, protecting our environment and keeping our communities healthy.

Since promoting renewable energy and helping to heal our world is my passion, I wanted to start a great conversation with you by introducing 15 notes, facts, and little-known stats that may get you excited about renewable energy too.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to continue the discussion – and look out for part 2 coming soon!

15 Things you didn’t know about clean energy:

  1. The terms “renewable energy” and “clean energy” encompass many different methods and technologies used to provide power. The most common renewable and clean energy sources in the world now include:

• Solar energy
• Wind
• Biogas
• Geothermal
• Biomass
• Hydro-electric
• Wave and tidal power

  1. According to the United Nations Development Programme, the price of residential solar energy has dropped 89 percent since 2010, and it’s now the cheapest source of electricity in history.
  2. Just by instituting smart and efficient energy policies, countries around the world can reach 40 percent of our planet’s needed emission cuts. Technological innovation and widespread adoption will help us boost past clean energy use and meet our environmental goals.
  3. At least 115 countries and counting have signed the United Nations Climate Promise to build a greener future with carbon neutrality or net-zero emissions.
  4. The list of those countries includes largescale, high-emitting economies like the UK, EU, South Korea, Japan, and China. Those nations combined constitute about 65 percent of all global CO2 emissions and 70 percent of the world’s economy. The US is now on board with the clean energy revolution, too, and plans to catch up quickly with those other nations!
  5. Fossil fuels may have been the status quo for decades, but don’t be fooled that they are cost-efficient or even financially sustainable. In fact, the US spends about $500 billion on fossil fuel subsidies every year. Also, over 100 oil and gas companies went bankrupt in 2020 alone.
  6. Clean energy not only benefits the environment and saves money, but creates an abundance of jobs. The shift towards cleaner energy is expected to create 18 million new jobs by 2030.
  7. In fact, investment in clean energy creates between three to five times more jobs than the same investment in fossil fuels.
  8. Clean energy jobs in the US actually outnumber the jobs in fossil fuels by two-and-a-half to one. Put another way, there are five clean energy jobs for every one in fossil fuels!
  9. Not only are there a lot of clean energy jobs in America, but they’re high quality positions. Hiring in renewable energy is local. These jobs can’t be exported abroad. Work on homes, like installing rooftop solar or efficient heating and cooling systems, takes place in cities and towns across the nation. These are year-round jobs that many people can do right from where they currently live.
  10. If you think renewable energy makes up just a minuscule portion of our global energy demand, think again! As of 2020, 29 percent of the world’s energy came from renewable resources, with renewable demand growing approximately 45 percent each year.
  11. Hydropower is the most commonly used today. Generated by dams and turbines, hydropower accounts for 54 percent of all renewable energy produced around the world, and therefore meets 18 percent of the world’s total electricity demand!
  12. For many homeowners and even renters, one of the chief reasons to transition to clean energy at home is the cost savings. According to a study by Rewiring America, by switching to all renewable energy tech, the average US household would save about $2,500 annually.
  13. Solar power is the leading form of power in residential homes – and growing fast. Solar at home is now cheaper, easier, more sustainable, and smarter than ever!
  14. In fact, the International Energy Agency Solar anticipates that solar will be the world’s leading renewable energy source by the year 2050.

If this trend continues – and the excitement around renewable energy grows – within one generation, just about every home, business, school, and office rooftop in America will be equipped with highly efficient solar panels to meet our energy needs!

***

Sources:

www.undp.org/blogs/five-reasons-be-optimistic-about-clean-energy-2021

www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/renewable-energy

www.undp.org/blogs/five-reasons-be-optimistic-about-clean-energy-2021

www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-06/the-10-ways-renewable-energy-s-boom-year-will-shape-2021

www.epa.gov/statelocalenergy/local-renewable-energy-benefits-and-resources
www.spectra.mhi.com/fastest-growing-energy-sources 

www.c2es.org/content/renewable-energy/ 

www.thinkprogress.org/clean-energy-more-jobs-than-fossil-fuels-32f615915399/ 

www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2014/september/how-solar-energy-could-be-the-largest-source-of-electricity-by-mid-century.html 

www.ewea.org/wind-energy-basics/faq/ 

www.rewiringamerica.org/ 

www.inspirecleanenergy.com/blog/clean-energy-101/renewable-energy-facts

20 Things you didn’t know about the human brain.

“The brain is the most complex thing in the universe,” according to Marwan Sabbagh MD, a prominent neurologist. “On one level, it’s a softball-sized collection of cells, chemical and connective tissue and on another level, it’s the totality of all things.”
 
The totality of all things – there’s no grander accolade than that, and yet it still falls short of describing the human mind. Today, I’m going to present 20 things you didn’t know about the brain that are sure to inform, fascinate, and amaze!
 
1.    The human brain is essentially the most powerful supercomputer in existence. Our brains can process up to 10 to the 16th computations or tasks per second. And we each can store about 2,500,000 gigabytes of data in our brains, compared to the best iPhone that can only hold 256 GB!
 
2.    A typical human brain contains about 100 billion neurons, which is also the approximate number of stars in our Milky Way galaxy. Despite the jaw-dropping number, neurons still only make up about 10% of our brains. 
 
3.    All of those billions of neurons are connected by trillions of synapses, forming what scientists call a “neuron forest” that rush information and neuro-signals around the brain. 
 
4.    Our neurons travel at varying speeds, but even the slowest neurons zip information around at 150-260 miles per hour!
 
5.    If you think your tummy is problematic, your brain is actually the fattiest organ in your entire body, made up of at least 60% fats. For that reason, eating healthy fats like omega-3s and omega-6s boost brain health and vitality. 
 
6.    Your brain’s consistency is about the same as a bowl of Jell-O, but brains that are removed from cadavers for scientific study are treated with a substance to make them firmer. 
 
7.    There’s a scientific explanation behind the intense pain we call “Brain Freeze” that occurs when we drink or eat something too cold. It’s referred to as a sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia and happens when the blood vessels in the back of the throat constrict, slowing blood to the brain. The pain you feel is actually when the vessels warm and open back up again, rushing blood to your forehead. 
 
8.    Speaking of blood flow, every minute of our lives, about 150-1,000 milliliters of blood flows through our brain, enough to fill a bottle of wine. That volume of blood is carried through a vast network of vessels in the brain equivalent to 100,000 miles if stretched out, or four times the circumference of the earth!
 
9.    With all of that activity, it’s no wonder that your brain generates energy. But did you know that the average waking brain sparks between 12 and 25 watts of electricity? That’s enough electricity to charge a small light bulb!
 
10. Generating all of that activity takes energy, so our brains use about 20% of all the oxygen and blood in our entire bodies. Without a constant flow of oxygen, brain cells begin to die within five minutes. Even concentrating and thinking deeply about something can take up to 50% more oxygen and blood than normal, which is the reason being mentally tired is much more fatiguing than just being physically tired.
 
11. The human brain consists of two hemispheres, dividing it into left and right. These hemispheres are connected by a nest of fibrous nerves, which are called the corpus callosum.
 
12. However, our left and right brain hemispheres are not exactly symmetrical. In fact, the brain’s left hemisphere controls muscle function on the right side of the body and the right hemisphere on the left. Whichever hemisphere is dominant leads to us being left or right-handed.
 
13. So, you think you’re an adept multi-tasker and even pride yourself on it? Think again! When we jump between tasks as we try to do them simultaneously, we’re actually just switching context rapidly, not undertaking them at once. That context switch increases our rate of errors by 50 percent, and research shows it actually doubles the time it takes to complete the tasks correctly.
 
14. According to research by the National Science Foundation, the average person has up to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% are serially repetitive – the exact same thoughts we have each and every day – and 80% of them were negative. 
 
15. The brain restores itself through sleep, and researchers still haven’t been able to unlock the mysteries of how sleep rejuvenates our bodies and minds. But we do know that sufficient sleep is necessary to maintain memory, judgment, reaction time, mood, and concentration, which are impaired if we don’t get enough ZZZs. In fact, it’s during sleep that the brain catalogs and retains all of our memories from waking hours.
 
16. The average person has about 4-7 dreams per night, but our dreams, too, present a vast scientific puzzle that has yet to be fully mapped. We understand that our dreams derive from a bevy of factors such as our physiological state, neurological markers, imaginations, memories, and emotions. Our dreams stem from the limbic system in the brain and especially the amygdala, associated with fear and the reason so many of our dreams (and nightmares!) are stressful or fear-induced. 
 
17. Yawning may be one of the strangest physiological functions until we realize there’s a good reason behind it. When we are tired or sleep-deprived, our brain temperatures rise. But a simple yawn lets in cool air and drops our brain temperature!
 
18. The study of addiction and how drugs affect our brains is now well-understood, even if there is no simple fix. We do know that certain substances (including illicit drugs but also alcohol, nicotine, and even sugar) stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain, causing the secretion of feel-good hormones like dopamine and others. This creates a vicious cycle of reward and deprivation that leads to addiction as the user needs more and more just to get the same satisfaction.
 
19. Fascinating enough, our brain may be the only thing in the universe that can contemplate itself. No other animal or living organism can do the same.
 
20. One of the most powerful features of the human brain is its neuroplasticity, or ability to change based on experiences, trauma, and even positive direction. It’s not just retraining your mind to think differently – neuroplasticity means that our brain actually physiology adapts, grows, or recedes. It does so by creating new channels of connectivity for neural networks to reorganize. 
 
Basically, anyone can rewire their brain to affect positive changes or form new habits over time, which you can read about here.
 


Did you enjoy these facts about the human brain? Look for part two coming soon with 20 more things you didn’t know about the human brain!
 
 

12 Ways to become the best version of yourself 🦋

Have you ever walked past a mirror or shop window and glanced at the reflection, not realizing for a moment that it’s you?

Most of us see our lives like that, as there’s a perception of who we are and then some happier, healthier, more successful, and just plain better version of ourselves that we have yet to become.

Most of us will never even come close to realizing that full potential. But, sadly, most of us won’t even try.

I encourage you to read these 12 ways to become the best version of yourself. By going through this authentic journey of self-discovery, you’ll be able to tap into that fulfilled, maximized life.

So, the next time you walk past your reflection, you’ll recognize it as the version of yourself that you’ve always wanted!

1.    First, take responsibility for your life
The first step of any self-improvement – whether it’s straightening out our finances, trying to lose weight, or even becoming the best version of ourselves – is always to take a good, honest look at yourself. Identify where you are in life, why, and what the “best version” of yourself even looks like.

Only then can you start taking 100% responsibility for your own decisions and outcomes and hold yourself accountable throughout this beautiful journey.

2. Give up your limiting beliefs
We all have beliefs, biases, and entrenched negative thoughts that sabotage our development in life. Often deeply entrenched that go back to childhood or stem from trauma, I’ve spent a lot of time outlining these limiting beliefs, as I wrote about in a previous blog.

“We all have past experiences, memories, filters, emotions, and more – together referred to as cognitive biases – that distort our accurate portrayal of life. But by understanding these psychological and behavioral mechanisms, we can make better allowances for them, aligning our worldview more precisely while also eliminating the things that have always been holding us back.”

You can read more here. In a nutshell, you’ll want to identify and shed those limiting beliefs and biases in order to evolve into the best version of yourself!

3. Amplify your strengths
Too often, we focus, stress, and ruminate on our weaknesses or shortcomings. If only we didn’t lack in these areas, we often tell ourselves, as we judge ourselves negatively yet again. We even try to push a boulder up a hill by trying to work on improving our weaknesses, which is admirable.

However, we have to remember that people are remembered for their strengths – those talents, characteristics, or even personality traits that stand above the rest, not their weaknesses. So, double down and focus on accentuating and nurturing your strengths!

4. Develop a growth mindset
They say that “You either win or you learn,” which also can be applied to the hard times and challenges in your life. Those never go away – and are usually out of our control!

But by developing a growth mindset, you’ll see them as opportunities to grow from the experience and become happier, getting closer to the best version of yourself.

5. Give up expectations
The fastest way to make yourself miserable is to compare and measure yourself against others. You’ll always perceive yourself as a big loser if you’re in competition with everyone else (or what they post on social media). Likewise, we put huge expectations on ourselves, and then judge ourselves negatively if we don’t measure up.

But the good news is that by letting go of those inherent expectations and comparing yourself to others, you’ll be an actualized, mentally healthier version of you!

6. Be willing to recreate your identity
Just like those expectations we mentioned above, we all have a firm vision of what our life should look like and who we should be. That may come from many places, including the pressures from parents, society, and our own need to reach our potential.

But like a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, we need to fully strip ourselves of that old, un-useful identity to become the newer, better version of ourselves.

7. Face your fears
“Life is either a grand adventure of nothing,” is one of my favorite quotes, uttered by someone who knows about fear, Hellen Keller.

No matter who you are and what you’re facing in life, we need to squarely confront our fears and smash through them in order to shift into the best version of yourself.

It’s not that you will never feel fear again or that everything will always work out perfectly, but you’ll learn to embrace the process of taking risks and not being deterred by your failures. Once you start taking bigger, bolder risks on a regular basis, your dreams will be within reach!

8. Focus on your daily habits
What will your life look like five, ten, or twenty years from now? It doesn’t take a psychic to read the future, since your life down the road is just a function of your current daily habits. It’s easy to daydream about this shining, perfect version of ourselves sometime in the future, but the way to actually achieve that is to knuckle down on the minutiae of your daily habits and routines.

Start with your morning habits here!

9. Change your brain!
This isn’t an exaggeration – you can literally change the physiology of your brain by breaking through old patterns and substituting them for new, empowering rituals and processes. Called ‘neuroplasticity,’ it’s one of the most unique aspects of human psychology, as the choices we make can actually create and strengthen new neural pathways, essentially rewiring how your brain works.

Read more about how to rewire your brain here.

10. Practice self-love
To be the best version of yourself, start being better to yourself. Practice more patience, compassion, and even forgiveness in every aspect of your life. Treat yourself at least as well as you treat others. After all, you deserve it!

11. Stay positive!
The average person has up to 60,000 thoughts per day, but 80% of those are negative and 95% of them repetitive! No wonder why we feel stuck in a rut! But you can turn that around, identifying your negative self-talk, consciously replacing those thoughts, and eventually reversing that trend.

It’s a process and takes work, but will really turns things around in your life!

12. Take time to rest and relax
These days, most of us are overworked, overstressed, and overanxious about the first two! Take some time to recharge your batteries, thinking of it as an investment in your health and happiness that will yield a monumental ROI.

There are many ways to do this that may be right for different people: exercise, yoga, meditation, reading, music, laughing, getting together with others, celebrating your faith, journaling, practicing gratitude, or deep breathing. (And if in doubt, just get more sleep!)

I assure you that doing these things on a regular basis will help you become the best version of yourself, one that you’re proud of and truly love!

***

What we should all understand about mental health 🎈

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, but the conversation around our collective challenges with mental illness and promoting mental health is one that should go on year-round.

Remember that mental illness doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone, no matter their age, race, religion, income, or social status. Mental illness can emerge based on a complex and overlapping set of factors, including our genetic disposition, brain chemistry, personality, outlook, lifestyle, and traumas that occur.

Simply put, mental illness is a legitimate medical condition that changes the way a person thinks, feels, their mood, and ability to relate to others or even function in daily life.

There are many manifestations and indirect consequences to mental illness (and a lack of focus on improving mental health), from the workplace to our relationships and social lives, and even further public health effects. For instance, more than 25% of U.S. adults who suffer from serious mental illness also deal with substance abuse.

So today, I wanted to outline some quick facts and stats about mental health and mental illness that will boost awareness and help us all understand the gravity of the problem.

  • Just about 1 in 5 (19%) of every adult in the U.S. experiences some form of mental illness every year, or approximately 43 million people.
  • And each year, 1 in 20 (5%) of all U.S. adults experience a serious mental illness.
  • The most prevalent mental health issue is some form of anxiety disorder, which affects about 40 million adults in the U.S. every year, or 18.1% of the population.
  • All-too-common conditions like anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering from anxiety ever get help or treatment.
  • Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand, with almost 50% of people diagnosed with depression also diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
  • It’s estimated that 5 to 10% of the population suffer from clinical depression at any given time.
  • Young people and teens largely feel the brunt of mental illness and mental health problems. Almost 1 in 10 (9.7%) of all youth in the U.S. suffer from major and severe depression.
  • Identifying mental illness and providing tools and resources to promote mental health is such an important issue with young people. 
  • In fact, 1 in 6 U.S. kids and teens ages 6-17 suffer some sort of mental health disorder each year. Globally, about 1 in 5 (20%) of youth suffer some kind of mental illness or disorder.
  • Awareness and identification of mental health issues among youth is critically important, as 50% of all mental illnesses start by age 14 and 75% by the age of 24.
  • 2020 was definitely one of the most challenging years in memory with the Covid 19 pandemic as well as lock downs and the economic fallout. In fact, from 2019 to the start of 2021, the share of adults reporting symptoms of serious anxiety or depression skyrocketed from 11 percent in 2019 to over 41 percent by the beginning of 2021.
  • Even before the pandemic, serious depression on a regular basis was reported by 4.7% of U.S. adults, and doctors diagnosed depression on 9.3% of all patient intakes, or 11.2% of all emergency room visits.
  • Across the globe, depression is the leading cause of disability. 

Over any 12-month period, the prevalence of mental illnesses among all U.S. adults is as follows:

  • 19% Anxiety disorders
  • 8% Depression
  • 4% Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • 3% Bipolar Disorder
  • 1% Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • 1% Schizophrenia

Treatment for mental health disorders is still woefully lacking in the United States and across most of the world. In fact:

  • 56% of U.S. adults with mental illness receive no care
  • 34% of adults with serious mental illness do not receive care
  • 49% of youth (6-17 years old) with a mental health condition get no treatment

It’s important to be able to identify the warning signs of mental illness, which include:

  • Extreme mood swings or changes.
  • Drastic changes in eating habits and sudden weight loss or gain.
  • Irrational and excessive fear or worry for no valid reason.
  • Problems with focus and concentration. 
  • Withdrawing socially from family, friends, and coworkers. 
  • Excessive feelings of sadness or hopelessness that last more than two weeks.
  • Thoughts of self-harm.
  • Undertaking risky, reckless behavior that can lead to hurting you or others.
  • Excessive use of drugs or alcohol. 

Where can you turn for help?  If you or someone you know or love is struggling with mental health, there are plenty of tools and resources available to you, such as:

  • Talking with a health care professional.
  • Reaching out to family or close friends and share what you’re going through.
  • Reporting any issues to your HR representative at work or boss if need be.
  • Studying up on mental health and illness.
  • Joining a free mental health education class or seminar.
  • Calling the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) hotline at any time at 800-950-NAMI (6264).

I also would like to offer you my well-researched Trigger Management Plan for free, which will help you identity and cope with the things that derail you from living the life you truly want.

You can find it here: https://bigvoicesrise.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/06-BV-Trigger-Worksheets.pdf

Thanks for reading today and remember that mental health IS health!

-Kelly Resendez

7 Cognitive biases that keep you from accurately seeing the world.

These days, we have far more information available about the world around us than at any other time in human history. We read countless media reports, see news from the corners of the world almost instantaneously, watch documentaries, and read scores of books to educate ourselves. So, our vision of the world (and our place in it) is probably 100% accurate, right?

Not so fast, as behavioral psychologists say that the average human being holds a world view that may overlap or parallel reality but is far from the truth. 

Instead, we all have past experiences, memories, filters, emotions, and more – together referred to as cognitive biases – that distort our accurate portrayal of life. But by understanding these psychological and behavioral mechanisms, we can make better allowances for them, aligning our worldview more precisely while also eliminating the things that have always been holding us back.

This isn’t about being “right” – it’s about operating from a place of clarity so you can feel happier, less stressed, less anxious, more motivated, and generally on track for the life you really want to live.

 So, here are 7 such cognitive biases that are probably keeping you from accurately seeing the world:

  1. Negativity Bias

Human beings are far more strongly influenced by bad news than by good news. It’s a trait that’s instinctual, as part of our evolutionary response to identify threats. “Our brains have become Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones,” according to neuropsychologist Rich Hanson.

Researchers have found that when presented with positive, neutral, and negative images, our brains light up far more in response to negative stimuli. In another study, it was discovered that people are more upset with LOSING $50 than they feel positive about WINNING $50.

2. Availability Heuristic (and you probably won’t remember that name!)

The easier it is to recall something from our memory, the more importance our brain assigns to that information. Basically, the more memorable it is, the more likely it is to impact our perceptions of the real world, even if that’s not always an accurate assessment.

For instance, studies show that when surveyed, people think that tornadoes kill far more people than asthma every year. In reality, asthma kills 20x as many people as tornadoes every year, but the respiratory ailment is far less memorable. Likewise, 8 out of 10 people surveyed said that accidents cause more deaths than strokes annually, but strokes actually take 200% more lives.

3. Affect Heuristic (Emotions over Facts)

A similar cognitive concept, Affect Heuristic documents how we tend to form our worldview based on feelings, not facts. That’s because all external stimuli are filtered through our emotional “animal brain” before reaching our more evolved “human brain.”

We see evidence of this by our “love or hate” nature of how we adopt an opinion. Once our emotional perception validates something, we’re unlikely to change our minds no matter how many facts we’re presented with.

4. Confirmation Bias

The moment we subscribe to a certain belief or ideal, we commit to it wholeheartedly, leaving little room for dissenting opinions. From that point, we actually start filtering out external facts and information that are not consistent with our internalized belief, no matter how credible they may be.

Research shows that when hooked up to MRI scanners, our brains go haywire when we’re presented with information that’s contradictory to our chosen belief system. This can be attributed to our animal brain once again, which revolts at anything that threatens our sense of security in the world.

No wonder why people get so crazy with fighting about politics instead of being open to civilized debate!

5. Anchoring

Our actions and viewpoints are based on conscious choice, right? Not so fast, as the cognitive phenomenon of anchoring has been shown to have a strong influence om behavior. 

Take the case of a study conducted by researchers Kahneman and Tversky, who told subjects to spin a wheel with numbers going from 1-100, then to write down the result. However, the study participants didn’t know that they’d rigged the wheel to stop only on the numbers 10 or 65 every time.

Next, they asked these participants to estimate two totally unrelated percentages for a separate question.

But what they found is that subjects who’d landed on #10 when spinning the wheel had an average percentage estimate of 25%, while subjects who had landed on #65 estimated 45% on average.

Anchoring is real and is being used on you every time you walk into the supermarket, as an example. Long ago, marketers found that when they put a sign up that said “Limit 12 per customer” over soup cans, the average purchase went from 1-2 cans to 4-10 cans! 

6. Referential Thinking

Of course, our brains formulate a vision of the world based on the totality of references and experiences we’ve experienced. So, all of the external stimuli we’ve seen, heard, read, and internalized over time become the puzzle pieces by which we assemble our reality.

That reality dictates all of our opinions and beliefs, further perpetuating a cycle that isn’t necessarily based on the total facts available. 

For a good example of Referential Thinking, remember that before Roger Bannister, it was largely considered physically impossible to run a sub 4:00 mile, and no one had ever done it. But after Bannister accomplished the feat in 1954, running a 3:59, another runner did it only 46 days later! A little more than a year later, three runners did it in the very same race, and since then, thousands of runners have broken the elusive 4:00 mile barrier, thanks in part to Referential Thinking!

7. Projection Bias

We make decisions big and small that impact our future based on our present state and viewpoint. While that may sound natural, being entirely immersed in the present moment when we make choices for the future discounts the big picture of where we want to go/who we want to be/what we want our life to look like, etc. 

Basically, we project our current state on the rest of our life, even though we should know logically that financial circumstances, feeling depressed or stuck, or “bad luck” is just a temporary condition. But we can’t get past that and make choices as if those conditions will be permanent.

Instead, it’s crucial to gain some perspective and rise above our current thoughts and emotions to make better decisions that foster the growth and advancement we really wish for!

9 Things you should know about Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, a period to examine the tumultuous history of female rights and conditions in the United States, celebrate our pioneers who sacrificed so much for women’s suffrage, and a time to look forward with optimism. 
 
Today, I wanted to bring you 9 quick facts about Women’s History Month and the state of females across the country, who make up more than 50% of our U.S. population today. 
 
1.    The very first Women’s History Day was launched in 1909
On February 28, 1909, the very first Women’s History Day was held in New York City. That date marked one year since the garment workers’ strike in Manhattan, when 15,000 female workers and supporters marched for better conditions, fair wages, and safety considerations.
 
2.    It became Women’s History Week and finally, Women’s History Month in 1987
In 1978, an education task force in California conducted a whole week for women’s history, starting March 8. President Jimmy Carter formally recognized Women’s History Week in 1980, and in 1987, activists and supporters lobbied Congress for a whole month dedicated to the cause. Congress declared March 1987 the first official Women’s History Month.
 
3.    There is a theme to each Women’s History Month (WHM)
Each WHM is assigned a theme to highlight a certain cause, movement, or certain pioneers. For instance, the WHM theme for 2020 was “Valiant Women of the Vote,” recognizing “the centennial of the 19th Amendment, we will honor women from the original suffrage movement as well as 20th and 21st-century women who have continued the struggle (fighting against poll taxes, literacy tests, voter roll purges, and other more contemporary forms of voter suppression) to ensure voting rights for all,” according to the National Women’s History Alliance.
 
In 2021, the theme for WHM is Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced,” expanding the focus on women who pushed the right to vote through political methods, protest, and leadership.
 
4.    The first right to vote
New Zealand was actually the first country in the world that allowed women the right to vote in 1897, followed by nations like the UK, Finland, and more. In fact, 20 countries around the world granted women full and equal rights to vote before the United States! 
 
In the U.S., women gained the right to vote in Wyoming Territory all the way back in 1869. (Wyoming also elected the first female governor in the United States in 1924, when Nellie Taylor Ross to office!)
 
5.    The 19th amendment granted the right for women to vote – but not all women
In history class, we often learn that the 19th amendment to the Constitution granted women the right to vote as of August 26, 1920.  
 
That is partially true, as during that era, many women were still excluded from voting, including Native America, Black, Asian American, and Latin women. For instance, only in 1924 were Native American women first considered U.S. citizens under the law, winning them the right to vote – at least on paper. Standard voter suppression practices and Jim Crowe laws prevented most women of color from voting for many decades.
 
6.    The Voting Rights Act of 1965
In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, making it law. Under the new act, discrimination and suppression tactics meant to keep women and minorities from voting were deemed illegal across the entire United States.
 
7.    But women’s rights still lagged far behind
The Voting Rights Act was an important piece of universal legislation, but it certainly didn’t level the playing field for women’s rights. For instance, did you know that U.S. women couldn’t even take out a credit card by themselves until 1974?! Before that, they always needed a man to co-sign or be a joint account holder.
 
It’s true – Congress passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974, giving women, minorities, and other under-served groups expanded access to credit cards, mortgage, banking, and credit. 
 
8.    Today, the gender pay gap is still real
As I wrote about last March for Women’s History Month, there is still a vast discrepancy between men and women when it comes to employment and compensation.
 
Currently, only 4.8% of all CEOs for the Fortune 500 are women. That means women make up nearly half of the workforce (47%), yet less than 1 out of every 20 CEOs is female,” as I documented in that article.
 
Likewise, when it comes to bringing home the bacon, women now earn 80.3% of the income men receive for the same position. That means women earn an average of only $806 weekly compared to $1,004 for men for the same job, experience, qualifications, etc. For professional or white-collar jobs, women earn only 68.7% of that of men, and that falls even further to 66.2% for women with advanced degrees.
 
This March and beyond, let’s keep up the fight for women’s advancement in business and equal pay!
 
9.    Advancement and reason for optimism
 
Women’s voices are being heard across all aspects of society like never before. Currently, 143 women hold seats in Congress, comprising 26.7% of the 535 total members and marking the highest percentage of Congresswomen ever. In January, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first U.S. woman vice president and VP of color. There are more female activists and pioneers fighting for rights and social progress across all ages and segments of society.
 
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I hope you enjoyed these facts about Women’s History Month, and thank you for sharing or reposting this article so we can gain more awareness for this important movement!  
 
 
 

10 Ways to be more likable (and win friends!)

In his iconic 1936 book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” author Dale Carnegie outlined how the common person could bolster their charisma and likability. The book was a smash hit, kicking off the positive-thinking genre in the United States and selling 30 million copies across the globe, making it one of the top best-sellers of all-time. 
 
Eighty-five years later, the positive thinking movement is still spreading, and we’re still hoping that people like us. It’s an inherent urge of course, since to our early ancestors, being liked meant they could join the safety and structure of the pack (and not get eaten by a dinosaur.)
 
These days, we’re not being chased around by dinosaurs, but we sure do still want to be accepted by the pack. In this modern age of unprecedented stress, anxiety, and depression, being liked means having a tribe of friends, coworkers, and even family to which we belong – meaningful social connection that is still so primal.
 
Of course, being likable has other benefits, like getting people to remember your speech, attracting donors to a worthy charitable cause, or just deepening your existing bonds of friendship.
 
So, today I wanted to highlight ten proven techniques that anyways can use to naturally and easily improve their likability:
 
1.          The Benjamin Franklin Effect
 
It was great American inventor Benjamin Franklin who ascertained that if you ask someone for a favor, they are actually more likely to think highly of you, not less. 
 
The tale goes that Franklin asked to borrow a rare book from someone who was perpetually standoffish, and suddenly, the man became one of Franklin’s best friends. “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged,” Franklin said of the psychological phenomenon.
 
2.         What’s in a name? Everything!
 
One of the oldest methods of gaining someone’s affection and fondness is just by using their name. Dale Carnegie was highlighted this tip in his iconic book, saying that a person’s name is the sweetest sound in any language for that individual!
 
So, just by sprinkling their name into conversation, we can gain their affinity. The same goes for titles such as “boss,” “my best friend,” etc., which reinforce the relationship dynamic and become self-fulfilling prophecies.
 
3.         The Ransberger Pivot
 
From time to time, when you’re talking to someone who makes an inadvertent error, do you correct them?
 
Don’t. 
 
Of course, they surely got that fact wrong or mispronounce that word – you’re right. But two behavioral scientists, Ray Ransberger and Marshall Fritz, found that pointing out a mistake when in conversation will create low-level animosity or resentment due to their pin-pricked ego – the opposite of being more likable. Instead, Ransberger explained that it’s much more productive to listen, acknowledge what they say, and seek to understand their underlying perspective to deepen the relationship.
 
4.         The Chameleon Effect
 
This is also commonly known as mirroring or mimicking and is a well-established non-verbal communication technique. With mirroring, you parallel their movements, posture, or physical mannerisms. Mimicking is similar, but usually with verbal communication or conversation, like matching their tone, volume, and speech patterns.
 
Either way, when you mirror or mimic the person you’re interacting with, they pick up positive impressions and cues, and are more likely to be amicable.
 
5.         Repeat their words back to them
 
Just as we mirrored and mimicked, a powerful but subtle tactic for getting someone to like, trust, and agree with you by repeating their words back to them from time to time. Just as nodding affirms that you are truly listening and deeply care, by being considerate enough to take in what they say and paraphrase some of it back to them, possibly in the form of a confirming question, their comfort level and engagement will blossom.
 
“So, what you’re saying is that I should repeat words back to them?”
 
See how great that works?
 
6.         Be vulnerable
 
Author, speaker, and researcher Brené Brown caught lightning in a bottle when her 2010 Ted Talk on vulnerability went viral, making her an overnight icon on the subject. While Brown may now be the face of vulnerability, it’s nothing new from a psychological perspective.
 
We are often guarded and afraid of rejection, intent on portraying the façade of perfection because we think it will endear us to others. However, the opposite is true, and people will like you for being real, authentic, and very human (which is to say, flawed). And they’ll positively love you for being fearless enough to be open about it (when socially appropriate, of course).
 
7.         Signaling
 
In our everyday lives, we’re constantly trying to gauge if people like (and accept) us, even if it’s on a subconscious level. We also give off clear signals that we like and embrace others…or, so we think.
 
In fact, the signals that we believe we’re giving off, such as nodding with encouragement, making eye contact, smiling, and other verbal’s or nonverbals, are actually way more subtle than we intend. Called Signal Amplification Bias, we generally think our social cues and signals are much more obvious than they really are, so don’t be afraid to show your true feelings with ambiguity when you like someone – and want them to like you. 
 
8.         We like people more if they like us (and vice versa)
 
Some people say that finding true love is just a number’s game, and finding “true like” (if that’s a real term?) may be the same. Studies show that when we know someone admires us, we’re more apt to admire them even more. So, a simple trick to improve your likability is to go out and like more people! It sounds simple, but it makes perfect sense! 
 
9.         Point out what you have in common
 
People will be drawn to you more if they know you both have something in common, called the Similarity Attraction Effect. Whether it be a favorite sports team, coming from the same state, you both like salsa dancing, or your spiritual views, any shared interests or passions make it so easy to chat and grow a bond of friendship.
 
10.      Be a good listener
 
When people know you’re truly and genuinely listening to them, they’re far more likely to have glowingly positive feelings about you. A UCLA study found that out of 500 adjectives they could use to describe someone they liked, the top three words were “sincerity,” “transparency,” and “understanding” – all terms that could describe the practice of active listening. 
 
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5 Beliefs that will change your mindset and the quality of your life!

“Man [or woman] is what he [or she] believes.”
-Anton Chekhov
 
Are you a believer? We all believe in something bigger than ourselves, like religion, a certain world view, or even our own capabilities and limitations.

But research shows that the power and commitment of our beliefs is probably the single most important factor in the quality of our lives, above even external circumstances. 

Basically, if we can change our mindset and our beliefs, we can rewrite the story of our own lives any way we wish! 

Upon reflection, I came up with these five new beliefs to adopt that will do just that. 
 
1. Focus on a growth mindset
We all face setbacks, obstacles, and even tragedies in life. While we can’t usually control what happens to us, we can choose to reframe how we perceive those events, turning the tide in our favor. To do that, start seeing every problem or challenge as an opportunity to grow. 
 
They say that “You either win or you learn,” and that can be applied to just about any circumstance or event in your life. But by transitioning to a growth mindset, you’ll still process these challenges, but instead of trying to think about them less and move on, you’ll invest more time in yourself and think of how you can grow from the experience, inevitably increasing your level of joy and success. 
 
2. Become goal-oriented
Don’t think of your day just in terms of tasks, workload, or your never-ending To Do list, but broken down into goals. No matter how small or seemingly mundane, when you switch your mindset to focus on goals, you’ll notice a pretty significant shift. 
 
Just by checking off these daily or weekly goals and taking action to reach them (whether you achieve them or not), you’ll encourage your brain to release powerful feel-good hormones. You’ll also feel far less unfocused, as everything from going to the gym to working for your next promotion to paying off debt will have clear stepping-stones and established plateaus of success along the journey.
 
It will become routine to review where you are, where you want to go, and what you can do to make progress every single day. Goal setting will increase your feelings of success, achievement, and happiness! 
 
3. Control your thoughts = control your life
According to medieval English poet John Milton, “The mind is a universe and can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” 

That’s even more true today, as the modern person is more stressed, anxious, and depressed than ever before in history. But if you can learn to manage your thoughts and emotions, you’ll make amazing strides to shaping your own reality. 

It takes practice and focus at first, but once you are adept and identifying and quieting negative, harmful, and unwanted thoughts (which we all have), the universe within your ears will no longer steal your joy or threaten your inner peace.

Remember that your authentic self doesn’t produce thoughts of guilt, shame, blame or fear, and or any disempowering thoughts that do not serve you – so get rid of them! 
 
4. Give yourself permission to think/feel in joy
When a reporter once asked the Dali Lama what the meaning of life was, he gave a surprising answer: joy. Joy is so important in our lives, he reasoned, because when we feel happiness and love we both emit those same emotions into the world, and openly accept them. We do no harm and tend to operate at our highest and best potential as human beings when we operate from a place of joy, not fear, loss, or scarcity.
 
Yet too often, we don’t give ourselves permission to feel joy, thinking that if we’re not serious, struggling, or feeling stressed, we’re not doing enough or somehow being selfish. Quite the opposite is true!
 
Of course, we have to accept that we cannot please everyone and that no one is free from suffering. But by switching to a mindset of joy, we’ll cultivate the resilience, trust, and faith to get us through even the darkest of days.
 
5. Take full responsibility for your own life
Repeat after me, “I am completely responsible for how I experience life.”
Just by uttering those words and internalizing their meaning, we empower ourselves to take control of our lives completely. Only we are responsible for our outcomes, our happiness, and writing our own story.

To take full responsibility doesn’t mean we blame ourselves for everything, but acknowledge our power. We realize that we can generate the energy and discipline needed to stay on the path to emotional and physical well-being. We won’t just rely on motivation or need external inspiration, but will simply choose the right habits, regardless of how we feel. 

We also don’t give others permission to steal our joy or derail us from what we want. Of course, we understand that everyone is just doing the best they can, but the manifestation of our lives isn’t up to them, but us. 

With responsibility comes freedom, and that all starts with belief!

-Kelly Resendez
 

The Art of Rewiring Your Brain

Scientists used to think that our brains were hard-wired, born and developed with a physical structure that could never be altered. In decades past, patients with brain damage or traumatic injuries seldom showed improvement, and there was certainly no way to observe the brain’s activity or inner workings.

But dramatic advances in science, healthcare, and research, really just in the last decade, have propelled us to a new understanding of the human mind. We understand more of how it functions, and also what we can do to directly influence its processes.

Far from being hard-wired, your brain is actually malleable, able to change and adapt. This “neuroplasticity” (“neuro” = brain and “plasticity” = changeable) is the key that allows us to literally rewire our brains. Basically, the brain is like a muscle which can be trained and strengthened like any other.

But why would we even want to rewire our brains?

Rewiring your brain helps you:

  • Learn a new language
  • Change careers or start in a new industry
  • Develop new skills
  • Adapt to new environment and deal with change
  • Form a new mindset
  • Break bad habits
  • Lose weight
  • Get in shape
  • Make money
  • Feel happier
  • Gain confidence

Even more important, rewiring our brains allows us a method to treat addiction, depression, mental illness, and traumatic brain injuries. That field has evolved exponentially in just the last few years, bearing great results for doctors, neuroscientists, psychologists, counselors, and their patients.

But today, we’re talking about re-training your brain for practical uses in your life, like setting goals and getting “unstuck” from negative ruts.

What does “rewiring your brain” mean?

The term “rewire” just means to encourage and promote neuroplasticity (not that you have to open up the hood and get in there with a screwdriver or anything!). 

The miraculous aspect of this is the choices we make, activities we pursue, and even our mindset have a significant impact on our neuroplasticity, helping our brains create and strengthen new neuropathways. 

We can do that by setting new goals or engaging in healthy habits. Those establish and promote those new pathways, which soon become entrenched as those positive behaviors become habits.

As your brain’s neurons continue to fire in unison with a new habit, experience, or some form of learning, they’ll eventually form a physical connection. “Fire together, wire together” is the geeky-but-true mantra among neuroscientists!

Triggers, addiction, and negative spirals

Reframing your attitude to get gratification or take pleasure from these new goals and pursuits is a key step in the process. However, while the brain can be rewired to adopt positive new habits and changes, it can also easily slip back into established negative pathways. 

Therefore, it’s crucial we look for the warning signs and avoid those “triggers.”

Stress is a big one. Research shows that acute or chronic stress alters our brain by entrenching habits, good or bad. So, when we’re faced with serious stressors, we’re more likely to revert to the easiest and most established neuropathway, which is falling back on our habits and familiar ways. 

Depression, anxiety, and other emotional strife are more triggers, as the negative thought patterns that ensue can impair or sabotage the brain’s neuroplasticity process.

More triggers that inhibit neuroplasticity:

Emotional triggers: depression, anger, anxiety, exhaustion, loneliness, isolation, stress, and even memories

Social triggers: family, friends, coworkers, cohorts, enablers, and others

Environmental triggers: certain places, sights, sounds, smells, etc. 

Escape triggers: drugs, alcohol, violence, abuse, and others

Practical methods to help rewire your brain

Ok, now let’s get down to 10 things you can actually do yourself to encourage neuroplasticity and rewire your brain for positive changes:

1. Performing specific brain-training exercises

Specific training that revolves around problem-solving or other cognitive tests can strengthen positive neuroplasticity. For instance, a study of London taxi drivers found that their hippocampus (a portion of the brain responsible for mental mapping) actually grow larger because they had to memorize every street and detail of the city!

2. Mindful meditation

Meditation has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to strengthen neurological pathways, opening up a whole host of benefits such as improved clarity, focus, less stress, anxiety, or depression, better sleep, and more.

3. Cognitive behavioral therapy

For those who have brain injuries or serious emotional trauma, cognitive therapy conducted by a professional may be necessary to rewire the brain, but it is effective.

4. Learning a new language

Studying a new, non-native language is proven to improve cognitive function by increasing gray matter, as well as white matter. Those two areas of the brain are associated with increasing memory, attention, emotional intelligence, motor skills, and increasing communication and interconnectivity within the brain.

5. Making music

Playing instruments and making music promotes positive brain function and boosts our ability to learn, memory, focus, concentration, and also has been found to slow cognitive decline in seniors. In fact, research shows that musicians have 130% more gray matter in their brains than the average person!

6. Art and creativity

Artistry and the process of creation create new connections in the brain, as well as strengthening existing neural pathways. Art challenges us to see the world from a different perspective, which helps expand subjective interpretation and overall cognitive function.

7. Traveling

As you can imagine, hitting the road to see new countries, cultures, and have new experiences boosts your cognitive flexibility, which offers the same neurological rewiring as art, music, and other creativity. 

The great thing about travel is that you don’t actually have to get on an airplane and go somewhere to enjoy the brain benefits. Simply planning an epic trip, researching new parts of the world on YouTube, or even exploring your own city can do the same thing.

8. Playing video games?!

Many of us have scolded our kids that they should put down the video games and go outside to play sports or read a book instead. But studies show that video games (in moderation) actually offer cognitive benefits like problem-solving skills, improve memory, spatial navigation, and other gray matter boosters. But maybe you want to keep this one to yourself and not tell them!

9. Exercising

Getting a good workout in, doing yoga, or just taking a brisk walk not only has plenty of physical benefits, but activates your brain, too. Studies show that exercise (especially aerobic exercise, or cardio) helps grow cognition function with improvements to memory, learning capacity, and even reduces stress, anxiety, and the instance of depression.

10. Socializing

It’s not just a cerebral task that can stimulate our gray matter and form new neuro-connections, but the simple act of being with others. In fact, these social connections foster brain health and decrease the symptoms and seriousness of depression, anxiety, and stress. Social connection is a key component in the quality of both brain functions and mental health!

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Now that you understand the art of rewiring your brain, I hope you use this to become healthier, happier, and change your life any way you wish!