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(Different pathways lead to different outcomes)
I am starting to believe in Karma. Here is a related song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBH97ma9YiI). Here’s a long winded story to explain why:
A few days ago, I saw lots of friends in one day, all of whom are the sort of mates you have to catch because everyone’s so busy. I also chatted to my course mates at the pub, read my own poetry at an event at my uni, did some work, went to see some rap poetry about Shakespeare.
That is, I didn’t do anything particularly naughty or bad, just nice clean fun with friends.
AND THEN I lost my phone on the bus.
I felt a bit bummed out about that. So after the rap gig my friend and I went to get some tea to chat and so I could look through my bag for my phone and feel a bit sorry for myself with cake. Then… the barista in Pret gave me a free coffee because he made an extra one by accident or something.
Free coffee doesn’t quite equal lost phone but hey, that is still quite Karmatic and Amazing.
Later that evening I went home and wrote some poems on teh tube. One of them was about Kindness.
Once I got off the tube, I saw a boy my age in hockey kit, waiting for a bus. And he looked so frozen (it was like -2C at 12am or so), so I felt bad and offered him a lift to his university halls.
After I’d done it, I was like, hey I may have just rebalanced my bad Karma. -1 lost phone +.5 free coffee +1 free lift = +.5 good karma…
Something like that.
I don’t actually know if Karma is a thing, but it’s a nice concept. We should do good things to others to give ourselves good Karma and to alleviate bad Karma. A quick wiki search tells me that Karma means a ‘deed’ which leads to the cause and effect cycle of ‘samsara’. This is an ancient Indian concept, used in Buddhism as well as other religions.
The first person I met at university, on one of the first few days, bought me a coffee. Instead of admitting that he wanted to buy a pretty girl a coffee, he explained that he wanted to because his friend from halls bought him a coffee and the boy in question wanted to spread the good Karma. Truly delightful.
I think I am going to try to do more nice things for others. It is a bit irrelevant about the Karma thing, but if in any way it will make the cold world we live in a bit of a happier place, than that’s cool.
Here is my poem about kindness (called ‘Friend in need is a friend indeed’):
…when a stranger asks you in Claire’s if you’re OK, when you’re 13 and you think you’ve lost your first bank card
…When another stranger sends you all the cards you lost by post with a note
…When a brother of a friend of a friend returns a pound, after you bought falafel from his stall
…a friend who’ll listen to your midnight ramblings, however stupid those may be
…Boyfriends who carry heavy things for you
…Looking out for drunk girls you’ve just met
…Accepting people’s flaws
…Knowing when to be cruel to be kind
At the moment, I can write a lot. That is great because before that I had writing block for a year or so.
I had writing block because I had offended someone in an article (by accident) and also because I had decided I wasn’t good enough to work as a journalist.
However, I took a few chances last year and that helped me to feel more confident. I submitted a newspaper article and a play, and started blogging. I also had a job which required me to think creatively about topics I hadn’t encountered before. Deciding to challenge myself helped me to get back into journalistic endeavours.
It seems that in my case, creative inspiration comes from not being scared and challenges. Once I start challenging myself, I feel able to write more and more as I go. It’s like a word stream – as you remove one stone at a time from the stream’s path, it makes way for more and more water to come through, until you end up with a huge river of words. I am grateful for this and also for feeling like I could be a journalist once again.
I cannot help but wonder, however, what if something rocks my confidence again and I find myself as dry as the metaphorical river of words under the harsh glare of criticism. What will happen to my journalistic aspirations then? How can I maintain a constant flow of inspiration instead of it coming and going, ebbing and flowing?
I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. A learned ability to summarise new and complex information in simple terms helps. Also, knowing one’s audience is useful, as any point you have can be expanded upon and altered to go with the target audience’s perceptions. Lastly, being critical and argumentative about everything, knit-picking and finding controversy when there is little to none is another technique that an experience hack should have up their sleeve just in case writing block strikes.
Sensationalism, critical opinions, following the audience’s wishes and knowing how to dumb down the complicated might be useful ways of keeping the word flow going but they might make for bad journalism.
I think the reader should be given respect by allowing them to figure out the hard topics themselves, as well as trust that they can make up their own mind without being reading articles that are critical in a one-sided way, and also that they don’t need to be talked down to.
In the end, a journalist should strive for balance. One shouldn’t utterly ignore who one is writing for but one should imagine a slightly smarter audience than the average Joe, someone can be trusted with long words and confusing concepts. Similarly, if simplifying and sensationalising, one should have a more critical audience in mind. I think the readers are more likely to enjoy such articles and the journo is more likely to feel less like a ‘sell out’ but instead that they are bringing educational and important messages to the world.
Note: about sensationalism – it is super easy to offend in print, so I suggest that you should only offend and accuse for right reasons.
Human memory is more amazing than you know. It is how you know who you are. Human memories can last a lifetime and can be of infinite capacity. It is astounding how people will remember very minor facts of their lives with clarity but forget their spouse’s birthday. How and why people forget is also fascinating in a myriad of ways. University provides opportunities for both gaining and acquiring certain memories. Below are examples of the ways that memories can be enhanced and diminished.
Korsakoff’s syndrome is an illness caused by severe alcoholism. Symptoms include memory loss, confused memories (gaps in memories are filled in by wrong associations), apathy and lack of insight.
However, interestingly enough, there is a study which showed the positive effects of alcohol on memory. Goodwin and colleagues (1969) showed that if a person hid something when drunk, they found it easier when drunk. Unfortunately, this is an experiment on your physical state, as opposed to suggesting in any way that drinking more will help you remember better. What the experiment shows is that being in the same physical state prompts people to remember.
Suggestion: Drink in moderation (but if you do hide your possessions when drunk, it’ll be easier to find them when drunk again)
As hinted above, being in the same state helps people to remember. Memories are affected by both the internal state and the outside context.
A state-dependent example is provided by a study (Miles and Hardman, 1998) which showed that when people exercised and learnt words at the same time, they remembered the words better if they were exercising (as opposed to resting).
Context-dependent memories were created in a study (Godden & Baddeley, 1975) which showed that subjects remembered words better underwater, if they’d also learned them underwater.
However, your context or state can also hinder memories. For instance, your context could distract you, making one remember what was learnt in the same context but not newly learned information. Imagine being in an exam and being placed in your usual classroom where you’d learnt various amounts of material. But before the exam you’d crammed new knowledge into your head. The context of the room is going to trigger old facts you’d learnt there but not new facts that are useful for the exam, as you’d learnt them at home.
Suggestion: study and have exams in the same room, drink water when studying and when being examined.
Dedicated students like to stay up all night and sleep in the day. Or just not sleep. And that’s totally cool, part of the lifestyle. Am I right?
Research tells us that sleeping improves memory as memories are consolidated during sleep. Also, different types of sleep enhance different memories. Also, sleep deprivation has a negative effect on remembering, as shown in a study (Polzella, 1975) where recognition was reduced after 24 hours of sleep deprivation but improved after getting enough sleep.
Suggestion: Get your 7 hours of sleep if you can. If you can’t, have a power nap. It worked for Thatcher, don’t see why it shouldn’t work for students!
Caffeine has been shown to decrease depression (Lucas et al., 2011) and improve retention in rats (Hiroi et al.,2002). However, caffeine also reduces blood flow to the brain (Field et al., 2003).
An interesting study by Yasar et al., (2012) showed that caffeine and weed do not mix. After giving both substances to rats, their memories worsened. The caffeine made the memory-reducing effect of THC in cannabis even stronger.
Suggestion: Drinking a cup of coffee a day is probably all right. Don’t take weed with your cappuccino. Find some rats.