Tag Archives: Animals

On The Importance Of Appreciating Animals

You can tell a lot about people from their screensavers. Mine is a picture of gazelles: they are my role models. They run and flee when there is a danger – say, a leopard or a lion approaching – but as soon as the danger passes, they stop and go back to grazing peacefully without a care in the world. But human beings cannot distinguish between real dangers and imagined ones. As Mark Williams, a clinical psychology professor at Oxford, explains, “the brain’s alarm signals start to be triggered not only by the current scare, but by past threats and future worries … So when we humans bring to mind other threats and losses, as well as the current scenario, our bodies’ fight-or-flight’ systems do not switch off when the danger is past. Unlike the gazelles, we don’t stop running.” This is modern man’s predicament, perfectly summed up by Michel de Montaigne: “There were many terrible things in my life, but most of them never happened.”

I’ve had gazelles – and lots of other animals, actually – on my mind lately, because I just finished putting the final touches on a book about the Third Metric and about what makes life worth living. And in the course of researching and writing it, I arrived at a deeper understanding of all that animals can teach us. That’s why I’m delighted at the arrival of The Dodo to lead the conversation on all the ways animals are deserving of our respect and compassion, at a time when the public is more interested than ever before in understanding and empathizing with animals.

While my two daughters were still in middle school, they brought into our home a Maltese, who we named Oliver Pistachio Huffington – Ollie to his friends. Having a pet reinforced one of my core beliefs – that one purpose of life is to expand the boundaries of our love, to widen the circle of our concern, to open up rather than shut down, expand rather than contract. And every week brings more stories and science about the amazing ways in which pets open our hearts and enhance our lives. Allen McConnell, professor of psychology at Miami University wrote in Psychology Today that it’s well known that our social network is important for our emotional well-being. But that network is not limited to people. According to research from McConnell’s lab, pet owners have higher self-esteem, fewer feelings of loneliness, and are more physically fit and socially outgoing.

In another study involving 97 pet owners, some in the group were made to feel rejected socially (sounds like high school all over again). Afterwards, some in the study were asked to write about their best friends, while others wrote about their pets. What the researchers found was that thinking about a pet provided the same power to recover from the negative feelings of rejection as thinking about a best friend.

Like spouses and close friends, pets can become “included in the self,” the core of our being that forms our perspective. McConnell says “they become as much a part of the self as many family members.” His conclusion? Pets are often “friends with benefits” and our health and happiness improve in meaningful ways from pet ownership.

But the benefits of pets go beyond the everyday. “Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression,” said Ian Cook, psychiatrist and director of UCLA’s Depression Research and Clinic Program. For those suffering from depression, pet ownership can be an invaluable source of healing.

The role of animals, and especially dogs, as roving ambassadors of goodwill can be seen most clearly in their role as therapy dogs. After the tragic massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, therapy dogs from all over the country were brought in to help the community, and especially the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Six months later Newtown held a “Day of Thanks” to show its gratitude. The gathering was attended by 50 dogs (and many more owners and residents). One parent explained that her daughter had had a rough time after the shooting. “But when she talked about the dogs that she saw every day at school, she lit up.”

Another young girl and a therapy dog developed an especially moving bond. At a Christmas party for Sandy Hook children just after the shooting, nine year-old Emma Wishneski happened upon a therapy dog named Jeffrey, whose nickname is the “Positively Peaceful Pit Bull.” Jeffrey was rescued from a New York City shelter by Milford, Connecticut hospice worker Michele Houston. When Emma met Jeffrey, it was love at first sight, and the two were inseparable for the whole party. And since then they’ve had regular play-dates. “It was still a really vulnerable time for her, and she just was comfortable sitting next to Jeffrey,” Emma’s mother said. “He’s strong and I think she just feels safe.” Since then Emma has begun to train her family’s dog Jedi (also a rescue dog) as a therapy dog. “Emma has a smile that could light the world, and I feel like we used to see that smile a lot more, but it’s definitely still there,” her mother said. “And when she’s with Jeffrey she doesn’t stop smiling.”

Animals help us be better humans. Quite often, they show us how to be our best selves. Always in the moment, sticking their noses into everything (literally), they see a world that we take for granted, one we’re usually just hurriedly passing through on our way to lives we never quite reach.

The Dodo would not be launching if not for Izzie Lerer, its co-founder and editor-at-large. Izzie is wrapping up her doctoral studies in philosophy at Columbia, where her research focuses on animal/human relationships. I have known Izzie for almost ten years and know how passionate and intelligent she is about this most important subject. Her vision is nothing short of wanting to change the world in the way animals are treated. I’m betting on her, and I am sure she will become an important voice in this country on this issue. And that The Dodo, with Izzie and with Kerry Lauerman as its CEO and Editor-In-Chief, will become a very important vehicle in this conversation. All of us at HuffPost are excited about this addition to the media world and will be cheering you on!

Photo: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock.com

An Introvert’s Guide to Better Presentations

Improving your public speaking despite hating crowds

I am an introvert and I have always feared public speaking, and despite having given an industry conference presentation every year for the last fourteen years, it’s only gotten marginally easier for me. As I’ve gotten older and learned more about myself, I’ve noticed a few things that have helped me greatly and I wanted to share some of those here.

Equip yourself with some knowledge

There are good biological reasons why no one likes public speaking. Knowing this changed the game for me personally and maybe it will for you too.

Think about this: is having 30 or 300 or 3,000 pairs of eyes staring at you from the darkness while you stand alone on stage good for you? Deep down, you know it’s bad right? Did you ever stop to think why that is? I have heard this hypothesis from lots of people but in the normal course of human existence, any more than 5 or 6 pairs of eyes on you means trouble. If there are 300 pairs of eyes looking at you, you are about to be ambushed — you are someone’s dinner. That is why your palms get sweaty thinking about a stage and where butterflies in your stomach come from and once I realized that, I started to became ok with this.

I suggest you embrace this curse of biology. The next step is to realize that those hundreds of pairs of eyes aren’t there to kill you, but to learn from you. They’re not lions and you’re not a zebra separated from the pack, they’re all monkeys and you’re the prettiest monkey and they desperately want you to tell them where the best bananas are located that will turn them into pretty monkeys as well.

“You’re a pretty monkey, and you know where all the bananas are.” That’s what I tell myself before I go on stage to hundreds or thousands of people. I really do. It makes me laugh and it calms me down. If that sounds too ridiculous, instead repeat to yourself something like: “I’m here because everyone wants to hear my story. I’m just a person on stage sharing lessons with other people. That’s all this is, and it’s going to be great.”

So screw biology, you can do a great job despite its pulls on your sympathetic nervous system.

Stamp out your self-doubt

Introverts shy away from the spotlight in more ways than one. We don’t blow our own horns, we don’t network at events, we’re not handing out business cards, or shaking strangers’ hands. We don’t brag, and if pressed, we’ll likely become self-deprecating to attempt to deflect your attention with humor. But it gets worse: while introverts are self-deprecating on the outside, we’re also self-doubting on the inside. It usually goes something like this:

“Who do I think I am? When is everyone going to figure out I don’t know shit? They’ll figure it out once I’m on stage, I just know it!”

Conference organizers asked you to speak (and sometimes even paid you!) because you’re good at something and have knowledge worth sharing. Embrace that, and know that everyone that flew to the conference, paid hundreds-to-thousands for a ticket, woke up early and walked to the auditorium all are pulling for you and want you to succeed and give the best presentation possible. You’re not going to let them (or yourself) down because you’re going to tell a story, practice the shit out of it, and make it look good.

Craft a story

This may seem like an obvious point, but when I learned about basic story structure, it changed my presentations forever. If you don’t create a narrative with an introduction, some semblance of a plot, and a resolution, your audience will attempt to do those things in their heads for you, because that’s how humans share knowledge. We love stories and patterns that look like stories and you can look at anything and see storytelling tying it all together. Watch an American Football game any Sunday morning and you’ll quickly realize it isn’t just a game, it’s a series of stories. Every game is a chapter in that story. Football seasons are volumes in a larger work. Your presentations can be too.

Read more – > https://medium.com/what-im-reading-on-medium/be7e772b2cb5


Hilary Duff’s Shorts Are So Short They Could Pass For Underwear !!! (PHOTOS)


There are shorts, and there are short shorts, otherwise known as Daisy Dukes, hot pants or booty shorts. And the shorts Hilary Duff wore to Coldwater Canyon Park in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, well, those shorts could pass for underwear.

Photographers snapped photos of the former Disney star as she and her husband, Mike Comrie, took their 17-month-old son, Luca, to the park’s playground. The 25-year-old kept the sun off her face with a wide-brim hat, but it seems that even she might have had second thoughts about wearing shorts quite so tiny, as the paparazzi caught the “Lizzie McGuire” star pulling them down a few times throughout the day.

Hilary Duff & MIke Comrie Take Luca To The Park

Hilary Duff & MIke Comrie Take Luca To The Park

Hilary Duff & MIke Comrie Take Luca To The Park

Hilary Duff & MIke Comrie Take Luca To The Park

Courtney Stodden Wears Lettuce Bikini To PETA Event !!

The following excerpt is from the Huffington Post!

Courtney Stodden donned a bikini made of lettuce and it wasn’t just for show. It was for a good cause.

Stodden wore the lettuce leaf bikini Wednesday in Los Angeles for a PETA campaign. The 18-year-old filmed a PSA for the animal rights group and flashed a sign reading “Get Fit, Go Veg!” according to E! News.

Later, the teenage dog-owner handed out veggie dogs from Pink’s hot dog stand. The vegetarian, who was joined by her 53-year-old husband, Doug Hutchison, passed out the healthy, no-meat alternatives to pedestrians walking by.

“I am honored to be a spokeswoman for PETA and I love my animals so much,” she said, according to Pacific Coast News, the photo agency that obtained the shots of Stodden in her teeny green bikini. “Also I would like to thank Pink’s for making this veggie dog for us today. Also I love being in the green on such a beautiful day.”

Courtney Stodden rocks a lettuce leaf bikini as she serves veggie dogs in Hollywood from Pink's hot dog stand

Thousands of bees attack Texas couple, kill horses!!! (MUST READ)

The following excerpt is from Fox News!

PANTEGO, Texas – A swarm of about 30,000 bees has attacked a North Texas couple as they exercised their miniature horses, stinging the animals so many times they died.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports 44-year-old Kristen Beauregard was stung about 200 times and her boyfriend about 50 times.
Beauregard says the swarm chased them down and followed them. She says they were sweeping up piles of bees “like a bad movie.”
She says firefighters sprayed a foam substance to clear the bees, and dragged the horses to a pasture to be treated by police and paramedics.