first_imgYou know your character strengths make you feel good about who you are and what you do. But did you know scientific studies have shown that using and developing your character strengths can make you happier and healthier? According to a recent infographic from Happify, a website dedicated to providing science-based interactive activities and online games to improve happiness, knowing our strengths isn’t enough. We need to tap into our character strengths to improve our personal and work lives.By using your signature strengths, those strengths that are key to who you are, you can increase happiness and decrease depression for six months. Using a strength today can improve your mood tomorrow. Showing gratitude has been linked to more time spent exercising and improved optimism. I was intrigued by the top five men and women character strengths. While both genders listed honesty as the top character strength and gratitude fourth, there were interesting differences in the remaining three character strengths.My Character StrengthsIt took me less than 10 minutes to complete the free online assessment and find out my top character strengths. Unfortunately, the assessment is now (as of December 2019) only available with a Happify account. Learn more about the 24 kinds of character strengths and get tips on how you can improve your character strengths in the infographic. Or, if you prefer, check out the text version.Character StrengthsCharacter strengths—our capacity for thinking, feeling, willing, and behaving—reflect what’s best in us. They’re part of how we positively identify ourselves.How It WorksOver 10 years ago, some of the world’s leading psychologists like Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson came together to compile character strengths that people of all ages, cultures and nations exhibit. The VIA Institute on Character created scientifically valid assessments to help people determine their unique strengths profile. Three+ million people have taken it, reaching every country on the planet!There are 24 VIA character strengths that fall under 6 broad categories:Wisdom & KnowledgeCreativityCuriosityJudgmentLove of LearningPerspectiveJusticeTeamworkFairnessLeadershipCourageBraveryHonestyPerseveranceHonestyZestTemperanceForgivenessPrudenceHumilitySelf-RegulationHumanityLoveKindnessSocial IntelligenceTranscendenceAppreciation of BeautyGratitudeHopeHumorSpirtualityEach one of us possesses all 24 strengths, but in different amounts. Your “signature strengths” are your top strengths—the ones that are most essential to who you are.The most prevalent character strengths in human beings are:KindnessFairnessJudgmentHonestyGratitudeThe least common?PrudenceModestySelf-regulationNot only do our character strengths make us feel good about ourselves, but science shows that using and developing them also makes us happier and healthier.The Key? Actually Using Your Strengths!One study found that those who use their character strengths experience greater physical and mental well-being than those who don’t.That’s because tapping into our strengths helps us make progress on our goals, boosting our feelings of independence and competence. To Use One of Your Strengths Today …Pique your curiosity by eating at a restaurant you’ve never tried before.Stoke your creativity by rearranging a room in your home.Encourage your love of learning by memorizing five new vocabulary words.Practice perseverance by chipping away at a tough project at work. Renew your zest by trying a new, physically challenging activity.Using Your Strengths Boosts Your HealthIf you’re sick, tapping into your strengths—especially bravery, kindness, and humor—can help:Research shows that physical disorders take less of a toll on life satisfaction if someone is high on these character strengths. There’s a good reason to have an attitude of gratitude:Counting your blessings is linked to fewer physical symptoms, optimism, more time spent exercising and improved well-being.Do you use your heart or your head?Turns out strengths of the “heart” (like love and gratitude) are more strongly associated with well-being than are strengths of the “head”(like creativity and judgement). Using Your Strengths at the OfficeIn one study, 81 percent of people who’ve had strengths-based career counseling are employed vs. 60 percent of people who’ve had conventional career counseling.Looking to Lean In? Research shows that women who use their signature strengths in the workplace create a “virtuous circle” in which they’re able to overcome obstacles that had impeded them from using their strengths in the past.4 is the magic numberUse 4 or more of your signature strengths at the office and you’ll have a more positive work experience. Feeling Swamped?Strengths that were determined to be a “high match” with work demands are honesty, judgment, perspective, fairness, and zest.Men vs. WomenIn a study of gender differences and character strengths:Women scored highest on:HonestyKindnessLoveGratitudeFairnessMen scored highest on:HonestyHopeHumorGratitudeCuriosityDid You Know?Women tend to be higher on gratitude than men, even though this trait ranks fourth for both sexes.Tap Into Your Strengths, Boost Your MoodThe 5 strengths that are most connected with happiness are:CuriosityZestHopeGratitudeLoveIf you’re high on zest, you’re more likely to view your work as a “calling” rather than as a means for money or career advancement.Using your signature strengths—those strengths most essential to who you are—in a new way each day has been shown to increase happiness and decrease depression for 6 months.Need Some Inspiration? Try…Showing kindness by visiting an elderly relative or neighbor in a nursing home.Showing loyalty by cooking a favorite meal for a friend this weekend.Expressing honesty by owning up to one little white lie you told this month—even if it’s just to yourself!Remembering optimism by naming one positive outcome of a recent negative event.Being grateful by writing a note to someone who influenced you as a kid.Exploring leadership by organizing a team-building activity with your co-workers.Feeling love by requesting a special date with your partner one night this week.Tapping into your humor by learning—and telling—one new joke today.Want to give your happiness the biggest boost?Send a nice, quick email to a loved one. One study showed that this amplified the mood-boosting effects of using your strengths.Use a strength today, reap the rewards tomorrowOne study found a relationship between using signature strengths the previous day and positive mood the following day.If you’re feeling a little down, it’s even more important to use one of your strengths today:Research shows a connection between decreased mood and not using a strength the next day, creating a negative cycle.So, what are your top strengths?Get to know yourself better by taking the VIA assessment on Happify! Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading…RelatedHappiness in the Workplace [Infographic]Your mood can impact your work life, how you get your work done, your interactions with others, and the quality of the work you do. Sleep, exercise, staying healthy, and keeping positive can all improve our happiness levels at work. According to this infographic from Career Savvy, by identifying the…In “Web design & development links”13 Tips to Improve Your Next WebinarYou’ve picked your presentation topic, chosen your webinar platform, picked a date and time, and marketed your webinar to your mailing list and social media. And you now have over 150 people who’ve registered to attend. Congrats! Whether you’re planning a webinar for lead generation or to educate users, webinars…In “Internet”Letters of Peace: One Handwritten Letter at a TimeLast week, on my flight to Philadelphia for the 2016 WordCamp US conference, I put away my smartphone and laptop, pulled out the airline monthly magazine from the pouch on the seatback, and settled in to read. Within the first few pages of the magazine, I found a full-page reproduction…In “Inspiration”last_img read more

first_imgDuring this time of having our hyper-partisan political world dominate the new cycles and hijack any remaining common sense from our elected officials, it may seem easiest to just give up and label Washington and/or your state capital as nothing more than expensive real estate occupied by idiots. While this last statement may still be true, it still matters that we reach out and let people know about issues and problems that impact the good things we do. Yes, your voice can make a difference!A former state representative from Bloomington once shared with me that if she heard from more than three or four constituents on a single issue, that it would stand out and prompt her to pay closer attention to the bill or related topic being discussed. Even if she did not agree with the positions being advocated by those she heard from, she was able to gain a deeper understanding and learn more about the reality that such laws can have on those she was elected to represent.When advocating, I have found that my most effective efforts involve me being able to personalize the issue and frame it in such a way so that it’s impact is real. It is not enough to say “I’m for/against this because it is a good/bad idea.” Talk about why an issue is important and share the impacts that happen should it be supported or defeated.My most recent reach out to a legislator was to my state senator here in Michigan. I spoke about the impact that the post Labor Day school start was having on not only my professional life (as a school administrator) but I was also able to touch on the impact this law has on my family and how the reality has come to pass. It is this personalization that has the best impact, not simply my position for or against something.Of course, while there are times we may be “preaching to the choir” there are likely to be as many times when we “talking to a brick wall”. The key, I believe, is making it personal and real. Really, that’s good advice for anything we want to be successful in achieving!last_img read more

first_imgWhen did life on Earth begin? Scientists have dug down through the geologic record, and the deeper they look, the more it seems that biology appeared early in our planet’s 4.5-billion-year history. So far, geologists have uncovered possible traces of life as far back as 3.8 billion years. Now, a controversial new study presents potential evidence that life arose 300 million years before that, during the mysterious period following Earth’s formation.The clues lie hidden in microscopic flecks of graphite—a carbon mineral—trapped inside a single large crystal of zircon. Zircons grow in magmas, often incorporating other minerals into their crystal structures of silicon, oxygen, and zirconium. And although they barely span the width of a human hair, zircons are nearly indestructible. They can outlast the rocks in which they initially formed, enduring multiple cycles of erosion and deposition.In fact, although the oldest rocks on Earth date back only 4 billion years, researchers have found zircons up to 4.4 billion years old. These crystals provide a rare glimpse into the first chapter of Earth’s history, known as the Hadean eon. “They are pretty much our only physical samples of what was going on on the Earth before 4 billion years ago,” says Elizabeth Bell, a geochemist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and lead author of the new study, published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In the study, Bell and her colleagues examined zircons from the Jack Hills in Western Australia, a site that has yielded more Hadean samples than anywhere else on Earth, searching for inclusions of carbon minerals like diamonds and graphite. The mere presence of these minerals does not prove biology existed when the zircons formed, but it does provide the opportunity to look for chemical signs of life. The team eventually found small bits of potentially undisturbed graphite in one 4.1 billion-year-old crystal. The graphite has a low ratio of heavy to light carbon atoms—called isotopes—consistent with the isotopic signature of organic matter. “On Earth today, if you were looking at this carbon, you would say it was biogenic,” Bell says. “Of course, that’s more controversial for the Hadean.”The authors list several nonbiological processes that could explain their findings, but they favor the idea that the graphite started out as organic matter in sediments that got dragged into the Earth’s mantle during the collision of tectonic plates. As the sediments melted to form magma, the elevated temperatures and pressures transformed the carbon into graphite, which eventually found its way into a zircon crystal.If this story is true, and life existed 4.1 billion years ago, Bell says that the new results would corroborate growing evidence of a more hospitable early Earth than scientists once imagined. “The traditional view of the Earth’s first few hundred million years was that this was a sterile, lifeless, hot planet that was constantly being bombarded by meteorites,” she says. But partly thanks to the wealth of information revealed by the Jack Hills zircons in recent years, scientists have come to see the early Earth as much milder and more amenable to life.“We know there was liquid water,” says Mark van Zuilen, a geomicrobiologist at the Paris Institute of Earth Physics. “There’s nothing that holds us back from assuming life was there.” However, van Zuilen and others say they’re not sure the new study provides compelling evidence that it was.Some of this circumspection has roots in recent history. In 2008, researchers announced that diamond-graphite inclusions in 4.3-billion-year-old zircons had potentially biological signatures, inspiring Bell and her team to start looking through UCLA’s own collection of Jack Hills crystals. But subsequent analysis showed the 2008 inclusions came from lab contamination, not early Earth. In the new study, the researchers took measures to prevent similar problems.“That one negative experience doesn’t mean nobody should try again,” says John Eiler, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “But let’s just say, I’m cautious.” For one, he says, researchers need to settle some important debates, like whether the inclusions in Hadean zircons truly preserve original material, or if they’ve been altered, for example, during a later bout of metamorphism. He also questions whether organic matter can survive in magma chambers long enough to form graphite, casting doubt on the proposed mechanism.Those issues aside, most scientists—including the authors—agree that the data do not yet exclude nonbiological explanations. Many abiotic processes can produce carbon with isotopic signatures similar to organic matter. For instance, the graphite could contain carbon from certain kinds of meteorites, which have light isotopic compositions. Alternatively, some invoke chemical processes, like the so-called Fischer-Tropsch reactions, in which carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen react with a catalyst like iron to form methane and other hydrocarbons. Such reactions probably occurred near hydrothermal vents in the Hadean, van Zuilen says, and can impart isotopic signatures that are indistinguishable from biological materials.One way to settle the question that doesn’t rely on isotopes involves studying Mars, which, unlike Earth, still has rocks older than 4 billion years on its surface. “If we can find evidence for the existence of life on Mars at that time, then it will be easier to argue the case that it was also present on Earth,” says Alexander Nemchin, a geochemist at Curtin University in Bentley, Australia, and lead author of the 2008 study on diamond inclusions.For now, scientists must make do with zircons, the only materials that preserve any record—however cryptic—of the Hadean eon. Bell acknowledges the need to test her team’s hypothesis on additional samples. She says researchers must make a concerted effort to find more Hadean carbon in Jack Hills zircons and see if it too has potentially biological origins. “Hopefully we didn’t just chance on the one freak zircon that had graphite in it,” she says. “Hopefully there is actually a fair amount of it.”last_img read more

first_imgRohingya refugees line up for daily essentials distribution at Balukhali camp, near Cox`s Bazar, on 15 January 2018. — ReutersBangladesh is deploying thousands of extra police to Rohingya refugee camps in the south, officials said, after a series of mostly unexplained killings that have sown fear among hundreds of thousands of people who have fled from neighboring Myanmar.Since August, when a military crackdown in Myanmar forced many of the Muslim minority to cross the border into Bangladesh and seek shelter in the crowded camps, 19 people, some of them community leaders, have been killed.Police have made a number of arrests in connection with some of the killings, but say the motives often remain unclear.Conducted after dark and often by groups of men wielding pistols, knives, and sticks, the killings have sent a chill through the camps, which are guarded by the Bangladesh army during the day but manned by fewer police officers at night.AKM Iqbal Hossain, police superintendent of the coastal town of Cox’s Bazar under whose jurisdiction the camps fall, said a special force of roughly 2,400 men was being formed to guard the refugees.A second senior officer, Superintendent Afrujul Haque Tutul, said police numbers were already being increased.“We have 1,000 police officers right now for a million people, so you can imagine,” he said.More than 700,000 Rohingya have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar district since August, joining thousands who were already living there, making it the world’s largest and fastest growing refugee camp.Even before the August exodus, there had been violence in the camps, which Bangladesh police and aid workers have previously blamed on a struggle for control of supplies to the camps.STABBED 25 TIMESThe latest killing, of 35-year-old Arifullah, took place last month on a busy road outside the Balukhali camp, where he had been appointed a leader of thousands of refugees.A group of men surrounded him on the evening of June 18, stabbing him at least 25 times, police said. A pool of blood stained the spot the next morning, and a crowd of refugees could be seen gathered around.Police said three Rohingya men had been arrested over the killing of Arifullah, who spoke English, had worked for international agencies in Myanmar, and often met foreign delegates who visited the camps.His wife, who did not want to be named and asked Reuters not to disclose the location where she was interviewed because she feared attack, said Arifullah was a critic of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) – a militant group whose assaults on Myanmar security posts in August triggered the crackdown by the military.The group says it is fighting for the rights of the Rohingya. Police said investigations into the murder were ongoing and they had not found links to ARSA.A spokesman for ARSA referred Reuters to its 31 January statement that said other armed groups were responsible for “activities” at refugee camps and were using its name to malign its image.The group said it did not attack civilians and would never carry out killings in the camps because its was thankful for Bangladesh’s generosity in sheltering the refugees.That statement was issued after the 19 Januar killing of Yusuf, another English-speaking camp leader. Sitting on the mud floor of her shelter, Yusuf’s wife Jamila said her husband had been watching a football match on his phone with his two sons when around a dozen men barged into their shelter in the Taingkhali camp carrying knives and pistols, shooting him twice.She said police had urged her to file a case and name suspects, but she had refused, fearing retaliation, and because she did not want to leave her shelter for hours to go to court. “I’m scared for my children,” she said.Details of Yusuf’s killing were confirmed by police superintendent Tutul at the Cox’s Bazar police station. He said the police investigation was hampered because the refugees were afraid to name suspects.He said intelligence received so far suggested several of the killings, including those of Yusuf and Arifullah, were due to personal disputes refugees had brought from Myanmar.Police have arrested about 300 Rohingya in cases involving killings, robberies and abductions in the camps since the August influx, Tutul said.Camp leaders at Balukhali and Taingkhali said the army had appointed Rohingya volunteers to keep guard at night, but most had stopped working because they were not being paid.Foreign officials said security inside the teeming camps was a worry. “What I hear from my colleagues is that is obviously a big concern,” Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said on a visit to the camps on Sunday.“It is obvious that it is a big challenge when you have big numbers, poor conditions, cramped situations.”last_img