It’s Okay to Walk In Silence

Hustle culture has programmed us to loathe — even fear — silence.

Commuting without blasting music, podcasts, or audiobooks in our ears just seems like a waste of precious time.

Creativity, however, doesn’t require constant learning. Our brains don’t need stimulation to dream.

About a week ago, I needed to head home across town. I was only about three miles out and didn’t feel like waiting 15 minutes for the bus. So, I walked.

I generally hate to waste time — commuting or otherwise — so, I called and caught up with a family member.

After we hung up, I found myself walking — in silence.

Street lights were sparse, and traffic was light. So, it was a rather dark silence with only my thoughts for company.

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How This Country Became Popular With American Expats

The convergence of economic factors and viral journalism often drives migration trends.

The United States has always been one of the hottest destinations for immigrants searching for a better life. What’s not discussed as much is when Americans themselves move elsewhere in search of a better life.

When people think of emigration out of the United States, they probably think of middle-class or affluent Americans moving to Singapore, Australia, Canada, or the United Kingdom for business. Perhaps, EU countries also come to mind.

An Expat Insider survey found that 86 percent of immigrants in Ecuador were satisfied with their choice to live there.

It’s no wonder that Edward Snowden chose this country as his desired asylum destination.

Ecuador is still considered a developing country by the UN and World Bank. But it’s one of the better-off nations in that category, which makes its cost of living better than America’s while offering enough modern conveniences and safety to make it attractive.

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3 Wasteful Financial Flexes To Avoid

Like it or love it — hating it isn’t an option — flex culture is in. And it’s not going away for at least a generation.

So, rather than complain about the culture like a bunch of old fogies, a better approach is to embrace it. After all, we can agree that alcohol and marijuana prohibition didn’t work. Regulation is a much better option.

So, what is flex culture?

Flex culture is a social media-driven phenomenon “of deliberately showing yourself off about your personal belongings in the goal of giving yourself higher value in front of other people.”

For kids with wealthy parents, it can be fun. For middle-class college students and young professionals, it can become addicting and life-ruining.

However, most people will never become minimalists or engage in monkish self-denial. So, rather than encourage you to become counter-cultural, here are three things not to buy to flex on peers.

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Beware Of Too Much Positive Feedback

Good Vibes Only May Mean Your Friends And Family Don’t Care To Critique Your Work

One of the aspects of passive listening is constant agreement.

You know–endless nodding, smiling, lack of meaningful input.

That’s when you know it’s time to change the subject or–better yet–just stop talking. The person you’re talking to clearly isn’t hearing you.

This happens often whenever people present their work to friends and family–and makes presenting one’s work to friends and family a problem in itself.

In our culture of toxic positivity, no one wants to be the one to rain on your parade. Most people who love or respect you think it’s great you’re venturing out and doing work outside your 9–5 and are probably not going to tell you what they really think about that work.

The “everything is awesome” culture will win most of the time.

Some people will be honest and tell you if what you wrote stinks–people who respect your potential more than your feelings. But most people are so used to others’ wearing their feelings on their sleeves that they’re loath to provide negative feedback.

To be fair, this isn’t entirely their fault.

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Here’s Why People Like Autumn So Much

Ever get the feeling you’re just happier during autumn?

You’re not alone.

According to a survey of 2,000 Americans, 56 percent said they were happier in autumn than any other time of year — and this was conducted in the middle of the pandemic.

At surface level, it seems counterintuitive. How does autumn compete with spring or summer?

It’s cold — often rainy — and it reminds us that winter is coming. We have to go back to boring school or our boring jobs after a much-needed vacation. Also, because of the holidays and traveling, money is often tight.

There are upsides, for sure.

The cool, crisp air; the food and drinks; in America and Canada, Thanksgiving — also in America and Canada, football and hockey seasons.

Traditional autumn fashion is also better than the stuff people wear at other times of the year.

Then, there are the leaves.

Growing up in Florida, that didn’t mean much. Leaves turned from bright green in September to a boring brown by November.

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3 Things To Communicate Before Blogging With A Partner

Just as some entrepreneurs form partnerships, some bloggers like to combine their efforts.

Two is better than one, right? If friends want to blog about the same or a similar topic, why not join forces and reach their goals twice as fast?

They each bring their own friends and social media followers — potentially doubling initial readership. They both write posts, so they produce twice as much content and drive traffic twice as fast.

This sounds good. But two people working on a project doesn’t automatically translate to ‘twice as fast’.

If one has a steep learning curve, he can slow down his partner.

Maybe one has a strong ego that would help him succeed solo but prevents him from matching that success in a partnership.

Finally, some partners simply haven’t learned the Law of Comparative Advantage and mismatch each other’s skills.

These are serious conversations that blogging partners should have before discussing blog names, WordPress themes, or social media accounts.

Here are three specific things to keep in mind before buying that domain name with someone else.

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America Needs a New National Anthem

Pike’s Peak at Dusk by Tranquiligold Jin

The Star Spangled Banner is not representative of the totality of the American nation and should not be its national anthem.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great patriotic song, and it poeticizes a great feat in American military history. It would make for a great military anthem. National anthems, however, should reflect the nation’s identity — its natural beauty, culture, history, traditions, and hopes — not just its military exploits.

Take these lines from the Canadian national anthem, for instance:

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow,
Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow,
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western sea!
Thou land of hope for all who toil!
Thou True North, strong and free!

Or the New Zealander national anthem.

God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific’s triple star
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.

Or this from the Australian national anthem:

We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair.

Each of these — like many other anthems — touches on the geographic features of the nation. Mountains. Soil. Oceans. Geolocation. They often mention attributes or values of the people.

National anthems often mention past military sacrifice but stay grounded in the present — or at least the ideal of a harmonious present in an idyllic landscape. In other words, the battle and ensuing sacrifice for victory is not the end in itself. That would suggest a nation at perpetual war. Is that really the image people want to project of their country?

Besides the singular focus on wartime and the visual image of battle, The Star Spangled Banner is difficult to sing. The raucous applause artists receive after performing it at ballgames owes as much to their hitting the high notes as a display of patriotism.

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What’s Behind The Gluten-Free Fad? And Is It Fading?

Too many people are eating gluten-free diets.

I’m not talking about people who are genuinely affected by celiac disease or who suffer from gluten sensitivity. They obviously have to eat gluten-free.

For over a decade, however, going gluten-free has become a fad to signal the virtue of self-care.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac disease diagnoses have increased an average of 7.5 percent over the past few decades. But even this remains minuscule. A study in Minnesota found that from 2000 to 2010, those with celiac disease increased from 11 for every 100,000 to 17 for every 100,000.

Genetics can cause celiac disease but so can environmental factors. I have a family member who developed it from the stress she experienced in college.

But the explosion in gluten-free food doesn’t account for the small growth in gluten-related illnesses.

From 2004 to 2011, gluten-free products increased at an annual rate of 28 percent.

In 2013, in its ‘Healthy Eating Consumer Report’, Technomic found that, in 2010, gluten-free items on limited-service restaurant menus were virtually non-existent. By 2012, there were hundreds. In fact, by the early 2010s, many restaurants were treating gluten-free as a healthy food choice rather than a way to attract celiac customers.

Soon, the public became bombarded with gluten-free Girl Scout cookies, Vodka, and even Trader Joe’s satirical “Gluten-Free Greeting Cards.”

Figuring out which came first, the supply or the demand, requires further research. What’s certain, though, is that they overlapped. The percentage of households purchasing gluten-free products increased from 5 to 11 percent from 2010 to 2013.

Virginia Morris, vice president for consumer strategy and insights at Daymon Worldwide, a private brand and consumer interactions company, told the New York Times, “There are truly people out there who need gluten-free foods for health reasons, but they are not the majority of consumers who are driving this market.”

Indeed, less than one percent of the population suffers from celiac disease. Only six percent suffers from mild gluten-related symptoms. This made the five percent of gluten-free consumption in 2010 in line with the percentage of people who actually needed it.

So, how did this trend start?

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Five Steps to Deal with Frustration

Suffering from frequent frustration may signal something profoundly wrong with one’s personal habits, schedule, or lifestyle. We all get frustrated from time to time. But we can take steps to limit frustration’s symptoms and get to the root of the problem.

Think of stress as the occasional stubbed toe or bruised elbow. It happens sometimes. That’s life.

Now, think of frustration as an infection. Bruises and scratches happen, but it’s not normal for them to become infected.

Living with occasional stress is unavoidable — but short and passing. Here are five steps we can take to keep our stress from infecting into frustration and hurting longer than it should.

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College Is a Commodity, Not a Right

College is a commodity like bread, meat, cars, and homes. It is not a right like life, liberty, and property.

When two people discuss ways to fix the broken American higher education system, and one believes it should be cost-free, they usually talk past each other. They’re simply on different wavelengths.

One is discussing ways to make it so students get what they pay for. The other doesn’t believe students should be paying anything because they don’t see higher education as a commodity.

Here’s how it works: someone pays money to an institution; the institution provides them with the knowledge to pursue a career — no different than someone paying money to an auto dealer in exchange for a car.

Few Americans who believe education should be free believe so because of practicality. They tend to support free higher education on principle. To them, it’s just one of many steps to abandon the capitalist system of exchange. A deeper conversation with them reveals that there isn’t much they consider worthy of commoditization.

But if higher education is too important to be bought and sold, what isn’t? Food? Shelter? Clothing?

If someone’s answer is all of the above, then how much of the above? And who decides how much? A democratically-elected committee?

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