5 Reasons To Work Your Core

Strengthening your core (the muscles from your hips to your shoulders) is like giving yourself a full-body makeover. You’ll feel smarter, younger, and better all over. Here are five benefits for a “hard core” workout:

1. It reduces and prevents pain. A strong core stabilizes you and works like a natural brace for your joints. It prevents sagging, which puts more strain on joints and can pinch nerves.

2. It makes you look taller and thinner. When you strengthen your upper back and shoulders, the muscles are pulled back and down, removing any trace of a hunch.

3. It delays the aging process. A strong core keeps your body aligned, so you can function properly. It helps you hold the stomach in, which has been shown to reduce strain that ages your body faster.

4. It improves mental function. Having a stable and aligned spine allows your brain to receive your body’s messages more efficiently. An erect posture has been shown to make you feel more confident.

5. It improves balance. Stabilizing your core hones your fine motor skills, so you can react quickly and stay balanced on unstable surfaces.

Décor for a Tight Budget

When moving into your first home, you probably have a tight budget for decor. Fortunately, a few targeted pieces – aside from the basics of a couch, dining table, and bed – will go a long way towards giving you a high design look on a low budget:

1. Rugs. Spend a bit of your budget on a few nice accent rugs. They add color and depth to your space, and set off your few furnishings.

2. End/coffee tables. Even a plain old couch can be enhanced with end tables or a coffee table that has the look you want.

3. Lamps/lighting. Search for interesting lighting that makes a statement without being expensive, including lamps, pendant lights, wall lights, etc. There are many low-cost look-alikes that add character to a space.

4. Paint. After getting your accent rugs, couch, and lighting, it’s time to choose paint colors. When matched to your furnishings, painting completes your décor.

5. Plants. When you lack a lot of furniture and other decor, purchase plants to fill in the empty spaces.

Scientists Turn Peanut Butter into Diamonds

Dan Frost of the Bayerisches Geoinstitut in Germany was trying to replicate crystalline structures believed to exist in the lower mantle of the Earth.

During his research, Frost discovered a laboratory process that extracts the oxygen from carbon-dioxide. In
the earth, this happens naturally, and when the left-over carbon is subjected to intense pressure, it can turn into diamonds.

To replicate this in the lab, Frost’s team needed a carbon-rich material, which they could subject to high pressure. They chose ordinary peanut butter. During the experiment, diamonds did actually emerge under extremely high pressure.

The experiment was done to demonstrate how turning carbon-rich materials into diamonds can be useful in superconductors and quantum computing.

A Magic Ring

One day a king decided to teach a lesson to his son, a young and arrogant prince. He said, “Son, there is a ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for my birthday, which gives you six months to find it.”

“If it exists anywhere on Earth, sire,” replied the prince, “I will find it and bring it to you. But what makes the ring so special?”

“It has magic powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad. If a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” The king knew no such ring existed, but he wished to give his son a taste of humility.

Spring passed, then summer, and still the prince searched for the ring. On the evening of the king’s birthday, the prince took a walk in one of the poorest quarters of the city, still searching. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out his wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked the prince.

He watched the merchant take a plain gold ring and engrave something on it. When the prince read the words, his face broke into a smile. That night the city welcomed the king’s
birthday. The king called for his son.

He said, “Have you found what I sent you for?” All the king’s ministers laughed, for they were “in” on the joke.

But to everyone’s surprise, the prince held up the ring and said, “Here it is!”

The king snatched the ring and read the inscription, which said: “This too shall pass.” Suddenly his smile vanished as he realized the prince had succeeded. The words on the ring indeed would make the happy man sad, and the sad man happy.

How Do You Define Success?

Our ideas about success are evolving. Perhaps as little as 20 years ago, success primarily meant having a solid, good paying job and a decent amount of respect. It didn’t matter so much if you loved your job, as long as you were making money.

Then for a while, especially in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, success came to be defined by doing something you’re passionate about. It came to mean breaking out of the corporate environment, being your own boss, doing something “amazing,” “big,” or “purposeful.” The idea was, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Many self-help gurus found success promoting that philosophy. After all, who doesn’t want to get rich doing what they love? It’s an easy sell.

The challenge of pursuing that philosophy is figuring out what you love and how that applies to making a living in the real world. It’s a philosophy that has left many people feeling frustrated by their lot in life, because it’s not an easy thing to figure out.

Today the tide seems to be turning towards a more moderated definition of success. It’s one where we do not need to constantly strive for more, constantly reach for some idealized “passion” for our work, or even have super high paying jobs.

A successful person might be a high school teacher who is effective in the classroom and has a solid retirement plan and loves having his or her summers free. It might be an entrepreneur who gets enough freelance work to support his family, while still having enough time to enjoy the family. It could be a middle manager who enjoys not having the intense responsibility of a higher-profile position. Or a programmer who gets to work with like-minded people at a tech company and has lots of friends there.

Success these days seems to be more about putting enough in the bank, while doing something you’re good at, but not necessarily passionate about. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that we’re putting security over the passionate pursuit of work perfection. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing your passion, but there’s also nothing wrong with doing something you’re good at, and having it be good enough.

What do you think?