Why you should care
Because there’s no time like the present to improve thyself.
Happy 2016! While OZY’s on vacation, we’ve put together some of our favorite reads of the year.
We’ve got big plans this year. We’ll eat fewer carbs, donate more to charity, meditate every morning, call our moms twice a week, get our sweaters darned, limit screen time before bedtime and read more lit-ra-ture. Also — and it’s here in print/pixel, so you can hold us to it — 2016 will be the Year of Floss.
OK, you got us. We’re not good with these New Year’s resolution thingies. And yet, even though we cannot remember a resolution we’ve successfully executed, we retain some fundamental hope — an insistence, even — that we can do better and be better and see more and do more and that, by dint of our efforts, this year will be better than last. Hooray for the human spirit! In the spirit of supporting and even inspiring your own goals, dear reader, we’ve turned some of our favorite stories into resolutions, ready to go.
1. Don’t Do a Juice Cleanse
Admittedly, we’ve never tried one, for the notion of going without solid food for even a day freaks us out. Here’s who else goes without solids: infants, the infirm, fasting political prisoners and the Soylent crowd. There are so many better ways to lose weight, if that’s what you’re after — and really, we imagine, despite all the talk about “detoxification,” juice fasts are merely crash diets that make you seem slightly less desperate. Speaking of desperation, that’s what hit OZY’s Rachel Levin during her three-day juice cleanse: “Maybe I was glowing,” she writes. “Or was that jaundice?” Read the story here.
If you really must get healthy in the new year, may we suggest turning it into a game? This fall, Fiona Zublin uncovered a bizarre, if kind of charming, fitness trend: using apps that turn exercise into an immersive fantasy, replete with mermaids and zombies. Read her story here. There are other apps that game-ify exercise. This year, Simon Cohen wrote about apps that pay you (sometimes in bitcoin) for achieving fitness targets. Read the story here.
2. Have Fun
Seriously, it seems to make you smarter. When Melissa Pandika looked into high-achieving teenagers — very, very high-achieving teenagers, the kind who may well be prodigies — she found something surprising: They weren’t stressed. And no, they didn’t seem to be those ducks, smooth above the water and paddling furiously underneath, headed for certain breakdown; they were motivated largely by joy and curiosity. Their parents said they mostly just stayed out of their way. Read the story here.
3. Be Rational
Emotion is one of the things that make us human, but our emotions — with the attachments and biases they bring — can sometimes get in the way of our goals. Two of our Rising Stars this year propound a kind of gospel of rational detachment. There’s Thomas Howard, an investor extraordinaire whose fund has been turning in 25 percent returns, year after year, for the past 12 years. Steve Butler writes that the key to his success is an emotional blindfold. Howard “buys and sells stocks without even knowing the names of the companies” or how much he paid for them. Read the story here. Then there’s Julia Galef, head of the Center for Applied Rationality, which holds workshops where students learn to uncover their biases in the interests of becoming more rational. It sounds quirky, and it is quirky, except that the Center has the imprimatur of Silicon Valley bigwigs like Peter Thiel. Read the story here.
4. Get a Girlfriend
Not that kind of girlfriend. Platonic girlfriends. One of our favorite OZY stories this year examined the health benefits of female friendships, especially for women; to anyone #blessed enough to have close female friendships, the article probably confirms a lot of what you already know. Female friendships reduce stress and its concomitant inflammation, which in turn can bring all sorts of good things to your tissues and cells: longer telomeres, less risk of heart disease, etc. etc. Read the story here.