Tag: healthand personal development

rejection book cover and author

Learn the Silver Lining in Rejection From This Writer

Everyone in life has experienced rejection. “No” is a word that makes many of us cringe and makes others (myself included) try to avoid it as much as possible even if it’s at the expense of trying to obtain the things we want.  


Entrepreneur and author of Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, Jia Jiang is all too familiar with rejection. I recently ran across a TED Talk where Jiang gave a lecture on what he learned from 100 days of rejection. Now for the record, I’m not typically a TED Talk type of person, and yet, when I saw the title of Jiang’s lecture, I just couldn’t help but click on it. And holy crap, I’m so glad I did!



After feeling like his fear of rejection was holding him back from his dream of becoming the next Bill Gates, Jiang decided to tackle it head-on by challenging himself to 100 days of rejection. Yep, you read that right. This unique challenge, which began as a card game designed by Canadian entrepreneur Jason Comely, seeks to de-sensitize people from rejection by forcing them to face their fears.


Over the course of 100 days, Jiang threw himself into scenarios where rejection was inevitable or at least likely. These scenarios ranged from borrowing $100 from a stranger to a free “burger refill” (which doesn’t freaking exist) to interviewing then-President Barack Obama.



Image Via David Alexander


As bizarre as the challenge sounds, Jiang learned a lot about his fear of rejection along the way. One of the biggest lessons that Jiang learned, which is relevant to everyone, is this: rejection isn’t usually personal.


When we get rejected, it’s so natural to take it personally. If someone rejects our invitation to make plans, we automatically overanalyze why they said no. Do they hate me? Am I weird? Without a clear answer as to why they said no, we can come up with reasons that not only make us feel crappy, but can be completely false. 


After Jiang knocked on a random person’s door and asked to plant a flower in their backyard, they unsurprisingly said no. Some people in Jiang’s situation might’ve assumed the guy was creeped out. In reality, though, the man rejected Jiang’s request because he owned a dog who dug up everything in the backyard.


Unfortuntaley we can’t read people’s minds (I seriously wish we could), so miscommunication constantly happens. But if we take a second to ask why we were rejected, we can realize that it wasn’t us at all. 


Another beneficial lesson Jiang learned was that we can help turn a “No” into a “Yes.”



Image Via Pixabay


At the first sign of rejection, we recoil and give up our efforts. By sticking with it, though, we can achieve what we want and it’s a lot simpler than we initially think. 


In his third rejection exercise, Jiang went to a Krispy Kreme restaurant where he asked an employee if he could have donuts that resembled the symbol of the olympic games. He assumed they would say no. They said yes. Not only did they accept Jiang’s random request (proving that sometimes all we have to do is ask) but they also made some seriously impressive donuts. You can watch the incredible video here!


We can’t always manage to avoid rejection, but we do have some control over the odds. This is important to remember.


Check out the lessons Jiang learned in his TED Talk, but you should also pick up his book Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, which can be found here.


Featured image via TED/Amazon

The Existential Files

Five Essential Existential Reads, Brought to You by My Ongoing Existential Crisis

After a call for more personal articles and an intriguing “relationship with your therapist” prompt, here’s the odyssey you’ll hopefully enjoy. Much like my therapy sessions, there’s no road map: enter at your own risk, but I promise there actually are five quality books at the end of this.


Almost four months ago I moved to New York from Houston and, before I left, I figured it would be a good idea to get a full body check up, head to heels, toes to tits. Everyone hates going to the doctor, but boy did I love seeing my therapist. She looks like my grandmother and sounds like my grandmother, but rather than smile and nod and change the subject like my grandmother would, my therapist gave me all the tools I’d need to dig through my own psyche.


I think what people don’t get about therapy until they go is that the goal isn’t to be fixed. The goal is to have a more complete understanding of yourself, whatever that might be. My daydreams have always been about whole lives. There’s a video game in the show Rick and Morty called ‘Roy: A Life Well Lived’ and thats basically what I’m talking about, except it consumes me. It’s 100% the reason for my identity crisis. I’m an existentialist. Sue me. 


Nina Bo'Nina Brown

Gif via RuPaul’s Drag Race


Most of my favorite childhood memories take place in the same setting. There was this flat section of the roof, tucked way in the back by the air conditioning unit, between my father’s home office and his workshop (where he kept his power tools and where, one time, I found a six foot long flatworm hanging from the gutter…but that’s neither here nor there).


I was probably five or six the first time my father hauled me up onto the roof with him to watch a thunderstorm roll through. We’d lay on that hidden little section and watch clouds speed through the sky, grasping at shades of violet and indigo before lightning shocked them into a momentary flash of daylight. 



i like thunderstorms

A post shared by Hilary Schuhmacher (@hilaryschuhmacher) on  

Shameless promotion of my own Instagram: @hilaryschuhmacher


As a twenty-something living in an in-the-loop apartment with a fourth floor balcony overlooking that Big Texas Sky™, my favorite way to unwind after a long day of work was (and still is) a comfortable patio chair, a steady breeze, and a brewing thunderstorm. There’s something inexplicably comforting about watching clouds. They’re impossibly out of reach, but in no way is the feeling of looking up at the clouds and feeling small, inconsequential, or insignificant my own and mine only. Anyone, everyone, could experience that same magic I did, if they just looked up and took a breath instead of stressing about their place in the universe. We could be thankful we’re not the center of it.


‘Existence precedes essence,’ a phrase popularized by Jean-Paul Sartre, is one of the central claims that resonates throughout existentialist thought, though I feel one of the most vague. Depending on which philosophers you relate to, you’ll get a different vibe. Nietzsche goes straight to ‘we’re alone, life is worthless, there’s no point.’


My fight with existentialism comes down to this: we are just one among many on Earth, this incredibly, unimaginably complex and vivacious planet that houses more organisms and species than we can even imagine. 


There are 7.4 billion humans on this planet, and we think we’re overcrowded. Now what if I told you there are up to three million different species in the Coleoptera order. The Coleoptera order is made up of beetles. Just beetles, only beetles. There are so many beetles. When’s the last time you even saw a beetle?


That’s the best way I can explain how I feel about it. We’re not meaningless. We’re just one more thing on the planet existing. Now it’s up to each of us to find our own essence.


All my therapy sessions end up sounding just like this. Thirty-five minutes of boy drama, work drama, family drama, financial drama, whatever drama, before inevitably diving headfirst into the maze of hypotheticals. My existentialist nature isn’t miserable. It’s hopeful. It’s exploratory. It’s amazed, enamored, in awe.


That’s something I do a lot while staring up at clouds and lightning. Digging for the buried treasure hidden inside my own consciousness. There are so many ‘what ifs’ to explore, so many empathetic odysseys to undertake, so many possibilities beyond my physical (but not imaginary) reach.


For me, that’s the real therapy. When my anxiety’s through the roof and I can’t zoom out and take my focus off myself, I take a breath, look up at the clouds and take a trip through my own consciousness until I remember that, chances are, I can’t fuck up so badly that the world will stop moving or the wind will stop blowing.


It might be atypical, but that’s the core of my relationship with my therapist. She gave me the tools I needed to find my own way through the court mandated misery we call life. She dives right in with me and reassures me when I misstep. She keeps the light on so I can see my way home. That’s what made my therapist a great therapist: the willingness to explore all the dark and twisty crevices my mind creates into which I spelunk. 


Plus, she gives great book recommendations. Here are five of my favorite essential existential reads, starting with the first recommendation she ever gave me:


1. Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre


Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

Image via Amazon


Published in 1938, Nausea is Jean-Paul Sartre’s first novel, and, in his opinion, one of his best works. Taking place in Bouville, Antoine Roquentin, a despondent historian, develops incessant nausea after becoming convinced that his intellectual and spiritual freedom, his ability to define himself, is being infringed upon the physical world around him. His philosophical nervous breakdown and subsequent identity crisis attracts all sorts of questions; what is freedom, humanity, our place in the universe in space, in time? What is existence?


2. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett


Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Image via Goodreads


Waiting for Godot, one of the most well-known existential works, was voted the “most significant English language play of the 20th century” by the British Royal National Theatre in 1990. Two men, Vladimir and Estragon, loiter on a country road by a tree, endlessly waiting for Godot: in the first act the tree is bare, while in the second, despite the script specifying that it is the next day, leaves have appeared on the tree. The play is stripped down and elemental, inviting a variety of different interpretations, ranging from social to political to religious.


3. Notes From The Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky


Notes From the Underground Fyodor Doestoevsky

Image via Wikipedia


Considered one of the very first existential novels, Notes from the Underground vignettes the rambling memoirs of a jaded, isolated, unnamed narrator. Told in two parts, the first is a monologue: the diary of the retired, unnamed civil servant living in St. Petersburg, and attacks up-and-coming Western philosophies including Chernyshevsky’s What Is to Be Done? The second part is called ‘Apropros of the Wet Snow’ and describes events surrounding the underground man, who acts as a first person unreliable narrator. 


4. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre


Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre

Image via Amazon


If you’re really feeling up for it, this is the most scientific of the bunch, reading more like a textbook than a lazy day read, but worth it nonetheless. Considered Sartre’s most important philosophical work, Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, attempts to demonstrate that free will exists and the effect consciousness has on humanity.


5. The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir


The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir

Image via Amazon


Prompted by a lecture Simone de Beauvoir gave in 1945, the central claim of The Ethics of Ambiguity is that it was impossible to base an ethical system on friend and partner Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. The text is divided into three parts, “Ambiguity and Freedom”, “Personal Freedom and Others”, and “The Positive Aspect of Ambiguity”, before wrapping up in a short conclusion of Beauvoir’s views of human freedom. He writes, “We are absolutely free today if we choose to will our existence in its finiteness, a finiteness which is open on the infinite”.


Featured Image Via Pinterest.

Girl running on mountain

7 Hobbies Perfect for Book Lovers (Besides Reading)

The pleasure we get from hobbies is second nature. Of course I spend my free time reading. Whether our hobbies relax our bodies, nourish our minds, or make us, somehow, stronger, there’s something innate within that activity we find enjoyable.


You have to wonder, then, what makes reading so enjoyable for us book lovers. To better understand what makes reading special, it’s necessary to analyze and compare it to similar hobbies. So here are 7 hobbies besides reading that are perfect for book lovers.


1. Listening to records




The internet has made listening to whatever song whenever nearly effortless. Music streaming services like Spotify, Google Play, and SoundCloud have made it possible for anybody to listen to any song anytime they like. But there seems to be a renewed desire for the sort of listening experience only vinyl records can provide.


Why it’s a hobby for book lovers…


One of the reasons people love vinyl is not because it offers more than streaming, but because it offers less. A record lasts for a set amount of time with a set amount of songs which were written and arranged in a specific order. Compare this to streaming only your favorite tracks from your favorite artists. The deep cuts are skipped, and the context in which your favorite songs exist remains unknown. In this way, there’s something very novel-esque about listening to a record straight through with no distractions other than the spinning turntable. It’s a complete, pure experience communicated from the artist to the listener, just as a book goes from the author to the reader.


2. Hiking



via Utah.com


Hiking mountain trails for fun is something people a long time ago would have laughed off. If you were, for example, a medieval Norwegian farmer, hiking a mountain meant possibly being eaten by wolves. But today there is, of course, a whole industry around the hobby. It’s a great time for anybody to take this up. Even Norwegian farmers.


Why it’s a hobby for book lovers…


It’s so familiar that it’s almost meaningless to say finishing a novel is like climbing a mountain, but there’s truth in it. Somehow, the comparison sounds almost insulting. As if both activities are purposelessly excessive. But it’s not reaching the mountain’s peak (or the novel’s end) that’s the reward. It’s the journey up. The beauty of a long hike is the focus on your footing, the measured weight on your back, and the people you pass along the way. If you’re sensing a pattern, it’s no accident. Book lovers like focus.


3. Doodling




…specifically doodling. Illustrating, painting, or general drawing are not the same. Doodling is an exercise in resigning one’s imagination to their subconscious. It’s the drawing equivalent of free writing in one’s journal.


Why it’s a hobby for book lovers…


In a sense, books require you to give up. You’re letting the author control your head for a little while. The resignation involved in reading is similar to doodling. Whereas reading is a little more passive, doodling is active. If you’re looking for a way to put your brain to work without really doing anything besides moving your hand, pick up a pen, and free your head.


4. Meditating



via Lil Lack Yoga


People who meditate are able to clear their heads, attain a higher level of focus, and generally relieve stress. Although on the outside it may not look like much, it takes an enormous amount of concentration. Folks who haven’t given meditation a shot might find sitting still with their eyes closed hard to do for more than a few minutes.


Why it’s a hobby for book lovers…


Doodling may require a certain disregard of conscious thought, but meditation often requires the opposite. Meditating forces people to acknowledge a line of thinking, and to brush it aside. There’s an element of intentionally losing one’s identity. Reading a book is similarly self-less. In the best books, readers completely lose their sense of self in the same way people who meditate do.


5. Playing an instrument




Whether it’s piano, guitar, drums, piccolo, or theremin, creating music is one of the most satisfying things someone can do. Even if you’re bad. The idea of making something evocative from abstract sound waves has excited people basically always.


Why it’s a hobby for book lovers…


When someone picks up a book, no matter how long it is or what it’s about or who wrote it, they’re setting out on creating a world. If it’s a fantasy book, the reader may have the duty of erecting a school of witchcraft and wizardry using only their brain. If it’s a philosophy book, the reader has to construct the philosopher’s way of looking at the world. Part of reading is building something from scratch, using only the blueprint the writer’s given you. Playing an instrument is precisely the same thing. In that sense, any reader should be able to play a guitar with no problem!


6. Writing



via The Impact


Like many of the entries on this list, writing is a way to make something from nothing. Ultimately, writing is the transcription of speech. Not vocalized speech, but internal monologuing that the writer has. It’s an oddly self-obsessed practice, really. But, in the end, good writing is shared with good readers and everybody involved has a good experience.


Why it’s a hobby for book lovers…


It’s the other side of reading’s coin. To better understand why your favorite books are your favorites (and to find new favorites on the way), the best way is to open up the hood and look inside. Write a few rough drafts, put them aside, and re-read them later. They’ll be bad. That’s why they’re called rough drafts. But you’ll begin to understand how your favorite books were put together, and maybe even the thoughts that went into conceiving them. Unlike the rest of the list, this hobby won’t so much reflect your love of reading, but deepen it.


7. Running



via The Independent


Everybody’s heard of the elusive “runner’s high.” But many who aren’t accustomed to running think it must be a myth. The prospect of getting anything close to a “high” while subjecting yourself to running long distances is absurd. But it does exist if you stick with it.


Why it’s a hobby for books lovers…


Renowned Japanese author Haruki Murakami dedicated an entire memoir to the arts of writing and running. It’s not unfamiliar to writers that running is a hobby well-suited to their sensibilities. But the same goes for readers, who use many of the same skills as writers. Unlike hiking, a run has no endpoint. The end is what you make it, and no two runs will be exactly the same. You will never exactly retrace your steps, or run exactly the same distance. The end of a run is almost meaningless. It’s the action of propelling yourself forward, and only barely paying attention to your physical exertion that makes running special. Once you’re attuned to the practice of running, it does not take long to abandon your body’s actions, and pay attention only to your mind. In the sense that you’re relieving yourself of your sense of self, running is a lot like meditation, and is perfect for book lovers for the same reasons that meditation is. But the difference is the tangible feeling of self-improvement many runners feel, which readers share as well.


In short, any hobby that forces you to at once focus and lose yourself is ideal for readers looking for variety. Now get back to reading! Or doing any of these other things…


Feature image by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Little boy reading.

9 Scientific Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Right Now

Yes, “Harry Potter” is awesome. So is “Game of Thrones” and Kurt Vonnegut and Joan Didion and so on. Our favorite books are amazing. They suck us in and spit us out as discernibly better people. We’ve gone on adventures, felt new feelings, and lived another’s life. And, of course, they keep us entertained.


But what about bad books? Well, science seems to say that the act of reading is, in and of itself, good for us. So bring out those embarrassing reads because here are some of the biggest bonuses to our shared hobby.


9. You feel more included


Spending time in another person’s head (even if it’s a fictional head) enhances our “sense of inclusion,” according to psychologists at the University of Buffalo. If life’s taught me one thing it’s that you don’t need real friends when you’ve got make-believe friends.




8. Exercise is easier


Weight Watchers magazine reported that reading a book while exercising helps motivate you to keep going even when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes running on a treadmill for even five minutes can be rough, but if the protagonist of your book is about to get stabbed in the heart by an ancient Greek blade forged by Hephaestus, then you might be inclined to finish your routine.




7. Chasing dreams feels manageable


Ohio State University researchers have found that experiencing a character’s uphill battle with them helps the reader pursue their own life goals. After all, walking from Hobbiton to Mount Doom to put a stop to evil seems impossible until you see somebody else do it…even though Frodo could have just flown there on an eagle.


“So you do pick ups, but not deliveries? Fine…” / via GIPHY


6. Your brain’s longevity increases


Researchers from the Ruth University Medical Center in Chicago suggest that folks who keep their mind stimulated at a young age experience a slower mental decline when they grow old. Think of it as a long-term investment. Read now, and have a killer memory later.




5. Falling asleep isn’t as excruciating


Chris Winter, M.D., is the medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center, and, according to him, reading just before bed helps relieve some of the day’s stress. He does suggest you avoid page-turners, though. So the more boring, the better!




4. Life becomes less stressful


Trying to relax? Toss out your tea, stop your music, and don’t bother going for a walk. Researchers at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex have suggested that reading is the superior de-stressing method. So when life’s becoming a bit much, take a breather, and pull out your favorite novel…or your least favorite. It really doesn’t matter.




3. Depression isn’t as insurmountable


Though it may feel like a bottomless abyss of meaninglessness, depression might not be so invincible. A study authored by Christopher Williams of the University of Glasgow found that patients who read self-help books in conjunction with support sessions had lower levels of depression after a year than patients who received typical treatments. So when ignorant people tell you to cheer up, ignore them, and find a self-help book. That’ll make you cheer up!




2. Empathizing is second nature


Researchers in the Netherlands had subjects read a story by Arthur Conan Doyle, and those who were “transported” by the Doyle story were found to be more empathic than those who weren’t. So reading fiction makes people more able to understand other’s feelings.




1. …and it may prevent Alzheimer’s


A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shown that elderly people who read are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The study’s author, though, does say subjects who displayed decreased mental activity might have already been developing Alzheimer’s. As exciting as the prospect is that reading can prevent Alzheimer’s, causality has yet to be 100% proven. In the meantime, however, you might as well pick up a book, and hedge your bets!




Feature image courtesy of 和 平 on Unsplash.


WTF is Up with All the Cursing in Books These Days?

Over the last 60 years, swear words’ appearances have increased dramatically in books. Led by San Diego State University psychologist and author Jean M. Twenge, a study using the Google Books Ngram selected seven curse words to testify a hypothesis related to the increased prevalence of swearing in books. In her results, one particular swear word is shown to have multiplied 678 times in books since the 1950s. Other words follow less aggressive yet similar trends and you can refer to the table below to see exactly which ones have proliferated. In general, books published in 2005-2008 were 28 times more likely to include inappropriate use of language than books published in the early 1950s.



Table from “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television: Increases in the Use of Swear Words in American Books, 1950-2008” | Via SAGE Open


However, this research effort was not used to hail criticisms towards contemporary writing’s rampant barbarism but rather to identify with the reason behind such a phenomenon and the positive impacts associated with the prevalence of profanity. Twenge linked our current culture’s widespread profanity to Americans’ established and ever-increasing advocacy of individualism in his paper on The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television. What millennials are unaware of is that not only are they the generation that keeps libraries alive, they are also responsible for driving social trends that encourage the rest of the population to concede old-fashioned taboos.


“Individualism is a cultural system that emphasizes the self more and social rules less,” Twenge said to the Los Angeles Times. “So as social rules fell by the wayside, and people were told to express themselves, swearing became more common. I think this cultural lens is the best way to view it, rather than as bad or good. ”


Via Oxford Dictionaries

Via Oxford Dictionaries


Nowadays, profanity is not necessarily considered as disrespectful or offesnive because it renders readers with a sense of originality and truth. When a fictional character experiences extreme anger in a certain situation, exclaiming “oops” or “ugh” just isn’t enough to articulate the true extent of his wrath. In fact, The Sellout by American author Paul Beatty, a book containing plentiful examples of expletive language won the Man Booker prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction last year. Similarly, Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon was used by the Guardian to demonstrate the positive effects of increased profanity. The success of these books only goes to show that individualism has propelled the American literature towards an interestingly positive direction.


“Millennials have a ‘come as you are’ philosophy and this study shows one of the ways they got it: The culture has shifted toward freer self-expression,” Twenge said.


Via College Times

Via College Times


According to a report by Psychology Today, statistical results have proven that the swearing can increase pain tolerance, strength, and overall physical performance because this form of speech stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system.


“There is more to swearing than routine offense-causing or a lack of linguistic hygiene. Language is a sophisticated toolkit and swearing is a useful component,” said Dr. Richard Stephens, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Keele University, in an academic newsletter from The Conversation.


Uncouth it may be, swearing is associated with authenticity and honesty in real life as well as in fiction. In this case, curse away!


Feature image courtesy of Steemint