Tag Archives: Books

Want to Write Better? 21 Reminders about the Elements of Good Style.

Writing tipsWhether you write all the time, or only occasionally, you’ve probably thought about how to write better.

One of the best books about writing is The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. It has been in print for forty years.

I don’t know anything about Strunk, but I’m a huge fan of the writing of E. B. White.  I love his children’s books of course — masterpieces like Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan — and I also love his brilliant essays, like Here Is New York, and the Letters of E. B. White.

So I pay close attention to whatever he says about style.

The reminders from The Elements of Style include:

Continue reading

Lonely? 5 Habits to Consider to Combat Loneliness.

3267049486_bce4b38cba_bOne major challenge within happiness is loneliness.  The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.

Of course, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.

According to Elizabeth Bernstein’s Wall Street Journal piece, Alone or Lonely, the rate of loneliness in the U.S. has doubled over the past thirty years. About 40% of Americans report being lonely; in the 1980s, it was 20%. (One reason: more people live alone: 27% in 2012; 17% in 1970).

Loneliness is a serious issue, Sometimes people ask me, “If you had to pick just one thing, what would be the one secret to a happy life?” If I had to pick one thing, I’d say: strong bonds with other people.  The wisdom of the ages and the current scientific studies agree on this point. When we don’t have that, we feel lonely.

I wrote a book about habits, Better Than Before, and I continue to be obsessed with the subject. Whenever I think about a happiness challenge, I ask myself, “How could habits help address this problem?”

Here are some habits to consider: Continue reading

Why It’s a Bad Idea to “Interview for Pain.”

microphoneslinedup1-300x125One of my favorite parenting books is Michael Thompson and Catherine O’Neill’s Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understand the Social Lives of Children.

Like most good parenting books, the advice turns out to be just as useful when dealing with adults as it is when dealing with children. (I think about Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s brilliant How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk more often in the context of adult than of child interactions.)

As I was reading Best Friends, Worst Enemies, I was particularly struck by Thompson’s warning against “interviewing for pain.” Continue reading

7 Things I Learned About Myself, from Getting a Dog.

barnabycloseup-300x342As I may have mentioned, my family and I just got a new puppy — a cockapoo named Barnaby. He’s fourteen weeks old, and super sweet and delightful.

However, he is a dog, and even more so, he’s a puppy. I knew that his arrival in our household would mean big changes — and would also teach me a lot about myself.

So far, here’s what I’ve learned: Continue reading

What Did Flannery O’Connor Pray For?

flannery home .jpgOften when I read, I’m struck by something, but I’m not sure why.

I’ve read The Habit of Being several times — it’s a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s extraordinary letters. O’Connor is one of my favorite writers, but I can hardly bear to read her fiction; it makes my head explode.

On July 1, 1964, O’Connor (who was a devout Catholic) wrote to Janet McKane:

Do you know anything about St. Raphael besides his being an archangel? He leads you to the people you are supposed to meet…It’s a prayer I’ve said every day for many years.

A week later, she wrote McKane a follow-up letter, with the prayer, which reads in part: Continue reading

Something Becomes Important Because We’re Paying Attention.

dance_to_the_music_of_time_c__1640-300x237I take giant amounts of notes, and I’m constantly copying passages from books that I read. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also one of my favorite things to do.

Oddly, I’ll often take notes, or copy passages, where the meaning isn’t clear to me. Sometimes it takes me years (if ever) to understand the meaning of something that I knew was significant, but didn’t know why. And then, when I grasp it — so thrilling! Nothing makes me happier. Continue reading

Why You Should Always Read the Book First

the giver bookWhen I was in elementary and middle school I was the level reader snob that competed in an annual competition called “Battle of the Books.” For thos unfamiliar, BoB as we affectionately called it, was a competition where students had the entire school year to read a list of 20 or so books, or as many of them as they could. Then they would compete in a team against other schools in their district by answering questions that always began with “In which book…” Three points if you could correctly identify which of the 20 books and the author the questioned event came from. Two points if you only got the title correct or answered the question after the first team didn’t give the right answer. The team with the highest cumulative total of points at the end of the day wins. It’s basically a wet dream for library rats who have a penchant for trivia.

Battle of the Books is responsible for me discovering many of my childhood favorite books, some of which are sitting on the book shelf next to me because I couldn’t bear to part with them even during a 3,000 mile move away from my parents’ house. Ella Enchanted, Lily’s Crossing, Trumpet of the Swan all top the list. And then there was The Giver. The Giver is a book by Lois Lowry (Number the Stars) set in the future when humans have created a way to eliminate suffering by basically suppressing all basic human emotion. People are assigned their role in the Community when they are 12 years old and are to accept it without question. When Tobias is assigned to be the Receiver of Memory he learns the truth about human history and how to feel – and it begins to make him question things in the Community. Soon his probing begins to unravel the very fabric of the existence he’s known his entire life.

I was in 4th grade when it was first put on the list. It’s insane now to think about reading that book at 9 years old considering how it grapples with death, sex and that bit at the end (spoiler alert) about forced abortions. I read it again in middle school when my ability to comprehend the underlying messages of the book was a little more advanced. I re-purchased it recently when I heard they were turning it into a film. The trailer for that film premiered today:

And it concerns me. It’s not just a feeling of “Oh god, the movie is never going to live up to the book.” (Please see: The DaVinci Code, most Stephen King novels etc). I know why The Giver was finally produced now despite being around for a couple decades. The time is ripe for dystopian young adult literature. ‘Sup The Hunger Games and Divergent. I see you hanging out over there too, The Maze Runner. The difference is that TGH, Divergent and The Maze Runner work on a broader scope – their worlds are so large they demanded cinematic attention. And, not to put any of them down because they are all great series (Okay, The Maze Runner has some sexism issues but that’s another blog entirely), but their messages are pretty direct. The Hunger Games is separate but equal isn’t equal with a bit of commentary on the inevitable corruption of oligarchies (There could also be another blog on the essential facts that were left out of the first film that dulled Suzanne Collins brilliant writing, but again that’s another blog). Divergent is about finding your identity and the freedom to be more than one thing. The Maze Runner focuses on the importance of working together and finding yourself in the face of adversity.

The Giver’s message is more opaque though. It’s hidden in the memories that Tobias receives from his mentor. The fact that the first half of the film isn’t shot in black and white and then transitions to color as Tobias learns more about the Community’s shared history is a big red flag. That’s a huge part of the novel – that being emotionless may lead to a more colorful life but also a grey one. As Tobias starts to fill in the colors, that’s also how he begins to find the truth. The trailer seems to focus more on the adventure aspect of the book – which is really only the last couple of chapters. Can you really show Eric from True Blood killing babies to a young adult audience and maintain a PG-13 rating? Are you going to be able to do it in a way the depravity of this way of life despite it being founded in the name of human preservation? Despite my high hopes with actors like Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep backing this, the fact there’s an alien like space ship chasing Tobias to close out the trailer doesn’t make me that optimistic anymore. (Did I mention that Taylor Swift is making a cameo in this movie? Yeah, that’s a thing.) It seems to me that film companies were just trying to cash in on the Young Adult angst craze making crazy tons of money at the box office these days at the sake of great literary works of art.

The movie junkie in me is hoping that they do it right. The cautious book nerd is saying don’t take any chances – read the book first.

Empower Your Intents with These Motivational Social Media Accounts

motivational social mediaBy Elizabeth Eckhart

The holidays are long gone and the rush of the New Year is steadily drifting by, which means that the motivation to accomplish all of our new goals for 2014 might be declining. If the weather hasn’t brought you down, perhaps it’s the stress of work and school, or family concerns that have got you worried. Luckily, social media has become an excellent tool for spreading inspiration left and right, just when you need it most. No matter what your goals are, whether fitness, meditation, scoring that new job or graduating with straight A’s, we’ve found the most popular, and appreciated, motivational social media accounts, as well as the most discussed tools that will encourage you daily. So when you’re feeling down, check out some of the motivational sources we found using social media tool ViralHeat below, and continue paving your way through your good intentions!

Twitter Accounts to Follow

Fitness Motivation (@BeFitMotivation)

fitness motivationWith over a million followers, Fitness Motivation must be doing something right. The account encourages healthy eating, clean living, and constantly shares pictures of success stories. Better yet, they even include quick, on-the-go and at-home workouts for the busy bees out there. Their motivational quotes are also positive messages, no body-shaming allowed there. After a thorough search, it seems that the main message is to aim to be your best self, and that the short-cuts (such as unhealthy fad diets and questionable supplements) are NOT appreciated. Bonus, they have an Instagram account, too: @BeFitPhotos

Daily Motivation (@wisdomsquote)

Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 9.09.09 AM

Daily motivation is exactly what it claims to be — a Twitter account that aggregates as many motivational quotes as it can find. Some are familiar sayings, and some are new, but all of them will integrate themselves into your feed to keep you pushing through your day. The account tweets at least a few pictures a day as well of inspiration role models from Buddha to Albert Einstein and Bruce Lee. Trending topics on the page are mental strength, determination, and courage. Warning: following this account might give you the bravery to achieve everything you put your mind to (as well as a few nifty pictures to pin up by your desk).

Inspirational Book

59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman

If Alfred A. Knopf, who published both Julia Child and John Cheever, once promoted the work, then this book deserves to be called phenomenal. A self-help book to decode all previous self-help books, this inspirational guide is written by an actual psychologist and professor, which sounds much more promising and helpful than someone who found success through their own personal path and hopes others can do the same. Professor Wiseman helps you promote change in minutes, to create habits that will last years, based on knowledge of the human behavior and brain power all of us possess. The best part? It’s a quick read, so convincing yourself to give a try won’t take that much motivation at all. Click here for his book talk. 

Pinterest

These Pinterest accounts will knock out any connotations that this site is primarily used for wedding planning and DIY crafts. In fact, these accounts are all dedicated to achieving goals on a larger scale, with helpful pictures, quotes, and videos to achieve them.

Inspiration {Video}: Inspiration video is exactly what it claims to be — a collection of videos from Youtube and other sources that will leave you itching to accomplish your goals. Pin it on your own board, or simply sift through the page and watch them all, it’s up to you! The wildly popular “Move” video, inspiration for any traveler out there, is one of the quickest and best!

Career Inspiration: Hoping to achieve your dream job, or know you need to make moves at your current position and show just how great you really are? This page is for you! Pin it to your Pinterest board, but better yet pin it to your bulletin board, your mirror in the morning, your desktop at the office.. the possibilities are endless! A personal favorite is this quote: Dreams don’t work, unless YOU do!

Ideas: Ideas is the help-all, inspire-all Pinterest page that addresses everything from physical health to soul and spiritual well-being. You never know exactly what you’ll find as you scour the page, but chances are at least one image or video will give you exactly the kick in the butt you need to move forward, move on, and start achieving.

Of course, at the end of the day, one of the most inspiring places to be is right here on Intent.com and Intent Blog! Use these motivational tools to set your own intents and inspire others!

Elizabeth Eckhart is a Chicago born and bred blogger who is passionate about keeping the environment clean. Some of her favorite writing topics include new renewable energy technology and various ways to live a healthy lifestyle. 

The Fault in our Stars: One Sick Love Story Shows Us What It Means to be Alive

the fault in our starsIf you’ve been to a Barnes & Noble recently then you’ve probably seen the bright teal cover of John Green’s best selling novel The Fault in Our Stars. I haven’t been a stranger to talking about it on this blog either.

If you aren’t familiar The Fault in our Stars or TFioS as the internet refers to it, is about two teenagers Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters who have both been diagnosed with cancer. They fall in love while attending the same cancer support group. It starts off as any other young adult love story would, but Hazel and Augustus have the oppressive knowledge that they don’t have as much time as their peers. Thus, their love takes on a more epic quality and two seventeen year olds teach us what it means to live every day to its fullest and to love like you won’t have the chance to do it again (because we never really know if we will).

Megan, that sounds ridiculously depressing, why would I want to read that? Because while the potential is there for a ton of cliches and melodrama, John Green strives to tell the truth. The characters in this story are sick but does that mean they don’t deserve the opportunity to love? To be happy? To make the most of their lives even if they are threatened to be shorter than we imagine? The beauty of Gus and Hazel are perfectly aware of their situation but they don’t allow it to make them wallow in the fear or depression that goes along with it. Instead, the give in to each other and go for their dreams, and there is a pretty magical trip to Amsterdam involved that will melt the heart of any cynic. It’s hard to explain the magic specifically without a giant SPOILER ALERT.

Don’t have time to read the book? I actually insist that you make time because it is so worth it. But just incase your schedule is that packed, Fox Studios released the first full-length trailer for the movie adaptation today. The movie stars Shailene Woodley (The Descendents, The Spectacular Now) and Ansel Elgort (Divergent). It arrives in US theaters on June 6 and it is bound to make you cry and laugh and realize what it means to make the most of every day we have. I dare you to make it through the trailer without getting a little bit wispy.

“I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” – John Green, The Fault in our Stars

Best of Intent 2013: The Hangouts from The Science of Survival to Coping with Bullying

The creation of The Chopra Well – the Chopra YouTube channel – has allowed us to do many awesome things, but one of them that means the most to us is having been able to host several Google+ hangouts with inspiring people around the world. We did one for the launch of The Chopra Well last year, but in 2013 we tried to step it up a notch. In April the Chopras hosted a hangout series called “Aspire to Inspire” which covered an array of topics each day of the week. Mallika also stepped in to host a hangout on Mindfulness as part of another series. What we found was that these hangouts enabled us to have in-depth serious conversations with experts and people with first hand experiences to enlighten ourselves and our audience about the world around us and the capacity for the human race to do great things.

As we wind down on 2013 and reflect on the year we’ve had, some of these conversations really stuck out. If you missed them the first time around or simply want to revisit them we’ve reposted a few of them below.

1. The Science of Survival – Deepak & Sanjiv Chopra

Deepak and Sanjiv discuss the physical, mental and emotional process of surviving a trauma or deep loss. Paralympic snowboarder and activist Amy Purdy and pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton who had her arm bitten off by a shark at age 13 join in to share their stories of loss and overcoming these significant challenges.

2. How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life – Mallika Chopra

Mallika and a knowledgeable panel of experts look at the role of intention and other mindfulness practices in living a more meaningful and healthy life. The discussion will help answer questions about how to turn goals and aspirations into reality; understanding the difference between an intention and a goal; and the relationship between intention and other practices that lead to mindfulness such as meditation, prayer, service, and yoga.

3. Coping and Surviving Bullying – Gotham Chopra

Gotham Chopra is joined by poet Shane Koyczan, whose video for “To This Day” went viral due to it’s honest, heartbreaking prose about the lifetime effects of bullying. Other guests include: Martin Shervington who will offer insight from his experience in psychology and life coaching, Margot Leitman – a comedian who just released her first book “Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase,” and Kevin Epling, the National Co-Director and Michigan representative for Bully Police USA.

4. Supporting our Veterans Overseas and When They Come Home – Mallika Chopra

Mallika Chopra is joined by Levi Newman, Rob Schware, and Rick Collins to discuss veterans and PTSD. Newman is a veteran with over 10 years of service and a writer for Veterans United and the Huffington Post. Schware is founder of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, which helps soldiers returning from duty transition back to civilian life and provides resources to deal with PTSD and other mental disorders that occur after time in the field. Collins is the founder of Vet360, a charity that gives Veterans upon their return home a 30 day program to help educate, counsel and prepare them for civilian life.

5. Coping with Loss – Mallika Chopra

Mallika Chopra hosts a discussion on “Coping with Loss.” She is joined by Todd Hartley, CEO of WireBuzz who lost both of his grandparents at the same time; Chelsea Roff, who has been featured on CNN and the Hallmark channel with her story of coping with a mother who has alcohol induced dementia; and Laurel Lewis who practices as a hospice nurse and also runs Death & Dying Dinner events in Southern California. (You may remember Laurel from 30 Days of Intent!)

Which of the hangouts were your favorites? Tell us in the comments below!

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