Is there an Ultimate Destination?

By Ran Zilca
The ultimate destination

 

I’m sitting on a flight from Paris to New York, trying to pass eight long hours, and getting bored. The airplane does not have an in-flight entertainment system, and my Kindle book-reader ran out of battery, so I resort to reading anything I can lay my eyes on. First I read the duty-free catalog (twice), then the airline’s travel magazine, and to my embarrassment I even read the safety card. Eventually I empty my pockets, pull out my boarding pass, and stare at it. On its back there is some fine-print titled “advice to international passengers on carrier liability”, and it starts with the following words:

Passengers on a journey involving an ultimate destination

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5 Things You Can Do in the Next 5 Minutes to Be Happier in the Next 5 Days

By Ran Zilca
Happiness

 

Happiness is a lifelong pursuit of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. But while it could take years of persistence to deeply transform your life, there are scientifically-tested strategies that are shown to provide an immediate happiness boost. Such activities provide a modest increase in happiness but it lasts for weeks and months, and when practiced consistently over time, they become happiness habits, energizing you to live your dreams and passions.

Here are 5 such strategies that you can practice right now, to get a shot of healthy psychological nutrients:

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Emergency Room Serenity

By Ran Zilca
Emergency Room Srenity

 

Early Sunday morning, I was awakened by a telephone call. On the other end of the line was my sister, and her voice sounded worried and dramatic. She told me that our mother is experiencing increased heart rate and blood pressure, and is being rushed to the hospital. My dad is 89 and my mother is 79, so I expect and dread these calls at the same time. An hour later, I arrived in the emergency room.

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Always Ask for Directions

By Ran Zilca
ask for directions

 

Stopping and asking for directions used to be the most reliable way to find your way around. A local person would not only know the way, but also the traffic patterns, the most interesting places to visit, and the best burger served within a twenty-mile radius. Asking for directions was never about getting from point A to point B. It was an opportunity to connect with another person, in the moment when you needed them most.

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The Ultimate Rock’n’Roll Intervention

By Ran Zilca
58th Berlinale Film Festival - Shine A Light Premiere

 

In the past decade, I’ve crossed-off a bunch of epic rock concerts from my bucket list. When I was growing up in Tel Aviv during the eighties, I could only dream of seeing bands like AC/DC or Deep Purple perform live, and moving to New York has made it possible. Each summer, I rushed to see all the giants of Rock’n’Roll before they disappear for good. I saw performances of hair-bands, of one-hit bands, and of some of the true classics of rock, but somehow I missed the band that’s been around the longest – The Rolling Stones. As the years went by, the list became shorter, and the cravings for the shows weakened. Eventually, I moved back with my family to Tel Aviv, and stopped going to concerts.

And then, the Stones came to town.

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A Crying Face in the Crowd

By Ran Zilca
Face in the Crowd

A few days ago I was driving down the main street that crosses my town. I stopped in a traffic light waiting to turn left, when all of a sudden I heard loud sounds of weeping. The sounds stood out above the noise of cars, buses, and roadwork. Animal-like sounds of crying blended with mumbled, unintelligible words. I looked around, but could not identify where they were coming from. When the light finally changed, as I started to turn, in the corner of my eye I saw an old man in the car next to me. His hands gripped the wheel firmly and his face was distorted with agony, crying and screaming. Seconds later I saw his car in my rearview mirror driving away, and he disappeared.

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5 Things You Can Do Today to Sleep Better

By Ran Zilca
Sleep Like a Baby

 

In her 2010 TED Talk, Arianna Huffington identified sleep-deprivation as the culprit for many bad decisions made by world leaders, and urged all of us to create a better world simply by going to sleep [1]. Many of us are not only flooded with time-demands but are also overwhelmed emotionally and cognitively. More than often it’s not just difficult to allocate enough time left for sleep, it is also hard to get good, replenishing sleep in whatever time we have. In recent years, scientists have shown that lack of quality sleep causes the same symptoms of alcohol intoxication: slow reaction times, impaired judgment, and reduced intelligence [2]. Simply put, when we don’t sleep well, we are drunk drivers, workers, and parents.

Here are five things you can do today to sober up and get the sleep you need.

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Your Life as an Experiment (and the tools you need to run it)

By Ran Zilca
Life Experiment

 

So you decided to change your life for the better. You have resolved to become more positive, more connected, or more resilient, perhaps to become healthier or to have a stronger sense of meaning and purpose.  Motivated and determined to transform your life, you start to read and to explore, and pretty quickly realize that you are flooded with a myriad of contradicting advice.

Online and in print, an army of behavioral scientists, authors, psychologists, coaches, and experts dispense their guidelines for life. One book speaks about the power of the present moment, while another one praises focus on the future. One study shows the perils of procrastination, and another study depicts it as an effective mechanism to prioritize tasks. Some experts show statistical evidence for their findings, others provide pictures of brain scans, and others yet quote the Buddha or Krishna. It all sounds both convincing and questionable at the same time. You are yet to take the first step of your new path and already find yourself confused.

You don’t know which steps to take.

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Steve McQueen Changing Diapers

By Ran Zilca
Steve McQueen

My sister got married in the 70s. I was only six but I still remember her walking down the aisle, while my brother-in-law-to-be awaits her in his best pair of bell bottoms. He was a modern man, and as such he was a husband who “helped”. He helped in all house chores, cleaning, and grocery shopping, and especially took pride in his dishwashing abilities. His willingness “to help” was astounding and novel, and my sister was considered lucky to have married him. When their first child was born, he also helped with the baby, demonstrating that beyond being a modern husband, he a modern father too.

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Dump Positive Thinking

By Ran Zilca
Positive thinking

A friend of mine recently told me that he is starting to practice positive thinking: “I have too much negativity in my life” he said, “I need to start thinking about things more positively”. He was right of course, mindsets do matter, and there is plenty of research showing the merits of attitudes like optimism and gratitude. However, there are also some misconceptions about positivity that can sometimes lead positive-thinkers to regress.

Here’s why “positive thinking” per-se does not work, and more importantly – what does

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Recent Comments
  • lw: Wonderful thoughts! I will try some out myself! Great attempt at scientific journal approach, however, the blend...
  • Deri Latimer: Love this post! I have forwarded it to someone I know who could really use it. #simple #quick...
  • Ran Zilca: Thank you Jane. My son is now 11 and this story still lives on :)
  • Ran Zilca: You may be right Mike… This is why even dedicating a modest amount of energy to consider meaning and...
  • jane: I love this, particularly the last story, about staying up all night with your son who had slept on the trip to...
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