Links!

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I hope you’re all enjoying your Easter weekend!! This week I drank mojitos, watched some wonderful bluegrass, lunched at fancy restaurants, met some of my best friends’ new baby, and am currently cooking up hundreds of homemade pierogis with my Aunts, cousins, Mom and sister. I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend full of old friends and celebrating the holiday with good food, family, and of course, Easter candy!
10 Reasons Hova will Always be Cooler than you. Things he can pull off that you just can’t.

Turns out there’s a way to dye eggs without buying those little tablets. Check out vegetable dyed, tattooed eggs!

What Mischa Barton has been up to since the OC (cause you know you’ve been curious).

A gallery of the best man pony tails in Hollywood.

Uses for peeps that you never thought of: Peeperoni PizzaPeeptastic Works of ArtPeep Chandeliers.
Ok, so I may have resolved to learn how to cook other kinds of meat besides chicken, and I may not have followed through with that resolution at all. But now I don’t have to with these new ideas! 50 Ways to Cook Chicken.
Just in case you win the lottery, this list will come in handy for designing your dream home.
As a devoted bridesmaid and wedding goer, these alternate reasons for celebration really cracked me up – Parties we should have instead of weddings.
If you’re looking for a new career path, why not apply to be a professional sleeper?
Just in case you’re as addicted to Candy Crush Saga as I am, you might want to check out the two new games that are coming out.
What have you read this week?
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4 Books that Make Me Want to Write

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There are countless articles and posts across the internet about how to beat writer’s block, and no matter how prolific or experienced a writer you are, it is almost guaranteed that if you write for a living or for fun, you have experienced it at least once. For some people, looking at beautiful images inspires them, hence the popularity of platforms like Pinterest. For others, a tight deadline, late night, and lots of coffee are the best motivation. I’m always interested to know what gets peoples creative juices flowing. For me, there are certain books and authors that whenever I read them, I get the itch to go start writing my novel, or finish that freelance assignment I’ve been working on. Their brilliant writing styles inspire me to want to write myself.

1. After You’d Gone: Maggie O’Farrell

The beautiful way she pieces together this heartbreaking tale reeled me into the story, and makes me want to write my own.

2. She Would Draw Flowers: Kirsten Savtiri Bergh

This young women wrote a book of poems before she was killed in a car accident at 17. The musings on friendship, love, and family are full of rich description and depth unimaginable for a life so tragically cut short.

3. The Blind Assassin: Margaret Atwood

I took a creating writing course in college, and the professor had us imitate the style of a different short story each week to try writing in different tones and styles. At the end of the course, we got to choose a story to imitate its style on our own. I picked The Blind Assassin, and loved creating a piece in the model of her beautiful imagery that creates a whole new world in your mind.

4. E.E. Cummings Selected Poems

Such simple lines-

I like my body when it is with your body.

Somewhere I have never travelled gladly beyond

I have closed myself as fingers

Life’s not a paragraph

Sometimes the basics are the most effective.

What gets you motivated to write or create?

Reshape Your Snap Judgments

teamResearch completed by the University of Oxford, and recounted in an article from the April issue of Women’s Health Magazine found that our brains are wired to make snap judgements – especially those that identify people who look different than ourselves as danger or potential threats. The studies authors suppose that this is because of a long-ago evolved function of the amygdala to stimulate a fear response. Constantly defending territories from invasion conditioned people to instantly categorize anyone they came in contact with as a friend, or a foe who might try to steal their food or shelter. In present day, this part of the brain might make people more likely to form automatic judgments of others based on their appearance, or previous experiences- equating obesity with laziness, a certain race with danger, or a way of dressing with potential theft. Luckily, another part of the brain called the neocortex has evolved to help override these biased and often stereotypical knee-jerk responses. It identifies times when your fear center’s reaction may be in conflict with your overall life ideology, and works to form it into a socially and morally acceptable response.

For example, an older woman may unconsciously tuck her purse more tightly under her arm when passing by a group of teenagers with tattoos when she is not actively thinking like a grandmother. This is the amygdala’s auto-response that occurs most often when people are tired or distracted, and don’t have any excess cognitive energy. In this case, her implicit bias caused her to have a physical reaction, and while it can be very hard to unlearn implicit biases, social neuroscientists have found that it is much easier to reshape these beliefs, and minimize their unwanted effects on our behavior. While people may not be as able to control a spontaneous emotion, they can be very effective at controlling any actions resulting from them. Scientists recommend treating your snap judgements as an addiction, and actively subbing out egalitarian thoughts each time your recognize a stereotype or negative association -this weakens the negative association over time. Studies have found that when a group of people viewed a homeless person, and instead of thinking of his or her soiled appearance, they thought about the types of vegetables the person might like to eat, that the negative reaction was completely shut down and replaced by thoughts of common goals and needs. Another strategy is thinking of yourself as part of the same team as the group you have negative associations with. Studies have shown that when people of different racial and ethnic groups were put on teams, their automatic prejudices were thwarted in favor of group camaraderie.

All in all, the researchers found that implicit bias and knee-jerk reactions were the worst in people who insisted they did not have any implicit bias, were unaware of what biases they held, and made no effort to correct them. While having stereotypical thoughts is undesirable for most, the true measure of a person is how they put these thoughts into action. By acknowledging that everyone has the capacity for bias, and actively working to negate the biases when we notice them, this is the surest way to eliminate them from our lives.

Curious what implicit biases you might have? Pop on over to Harvard’s Implicit Project page. It contains evaluations of your implicit beliefs on race, gender and career, sexual orientation, and mental health. At the end, you can submit your responses to further the research, or you can choose to simply use the information to be aware of your own thoughts, and work towards modifying them to be in line with the ideology you want to live by.

22 Ways to Choose to Be Happy

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While I know that sometimes it seems like the whole world (right down to the barista at Starbucks) is against you, I believe that no matter what your circumstances, the one thing everyone is in control of, is how they choose to look at the things surrounding them. Granted, you may not be able to eliminate bad hair days, breakups, or cavities at the dentist, but you can take charge of your own reactions and attitude, and sometimes a slight adjustment can make the difference between an unhappy grouch and a regular Pollyanna. I came across this post on 22 Things Happy People Do Differently that outlines one blogger’s take on how some people manage to look on the bright side a little more often. And I think she’s onto something. Here is her list of things really happy people do a more often than the rest of  us:

  1. Don’t hold grudges
  2. Treat everyone with kindness
  3. See problems as challenges
  4. Express gratitude for what they already have
  5. Dream big
  6. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  7. Speak well of others
  8. Never make excuses
  9. Get absorbed in the present
  10. Wake up at the same time every morning
  11. Avoid social comparison
  12. Choose friends wisely
  13. Never seek approval from others
  14. Take the time to listen
  15. Nurture social relationships
  16. Meditate
  17. Eat well
  18. Exercise
  19. Live minimally
  20. Tell the truth
  21. Establish self control
  22. Accept what cannot be changed.

Pop on over and take a look at the original post for more details, but it makes a lot of sense. Think about the happiest people you know. They take charge of their lives, keep problems in perspective and don’t let anyone else rain on their parade. I know I always feel a little better about life after I’ve had a good workout, gotten eight hours of sleep, paid someone a compliment, spent time with good friends, and eaten a healthy meal. On the list of things that don’t make me feel great? Comparing my successes to others, spending beyond my means, and basing my feelings on the opinions of others. Instead, what if we try to stay thankful, treat obstacles as challenges, try not to let those things beyond our control bother us too much?

2 Second Tip to Improve Your Life

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Yes, I know the 1-ply is cheaper, but all it will lead to is disappointment and regret. So, when you’re in the toilet paper aisle, being tempted to save a few dollars just step away from the Scott. Seriously, just do it. Spring for the Charmin, and improve your week, all for the cost of your morning coffee.

Weekly Reading

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Hi friend! This week I celebrated St. Patty’s with some wonderful Irish folk,  saw Talib Kweli perform, tasted some new bourbons under the guidance of a handsome Southern gentleman, tried a maitake mushroom at a beer garden with a retractable roof, and attended the birthday of a dear friend from Tennessee. Phew! No wonder I’m exhausted. These are things on the internet I looked at in the midst of all that activity.

Because this would make whipping up a sausage, egg and cheese SO EASY.

For the next time you fall into the shopping black hole that is the 8 floors of Macy’s in NYC- a delicious Italian restaurant to satisfy that appetite you worked up.

Turns out men complain MORE than women (on twitter). Anyone else think this extends to anytime ever they get a cold?

Because really, who doesn’t LOVE anything JT does? 37 Ways things have changed since his last solo album.

I always have a few loose bobby pins lurking around in my purse for hair emergencies. Here’s 25 good ways to put them to use in a pinch!

Things to think about when you finally get around to changing your email signature from, “sent from my iPhone.” What your email sign-off says about you.

If I were going to shop at Tiffany, I would want this, and this, and this, and these, and these, and this, and definitely this, and perhaps this too.

When you’re trying to figure out whose turn it is to go to the bar and get the next round, strategies to win rock paper scissors.

I love sloths, you? Here’s 25 great ones.

And if you haven’t seen this, you probably should because you are missing out. Kristen Bell meets a sloth.

I’m a sucker for super hero action movies. You? Here’s what brands would probably sponsor your favorites if they went commercial.

Have you read anything interesting?