Column: Nazis in America

America has welcomed the Nazis.

I don’t mean Nazis in the sense of “everyone I disagree with is a Nazi.” I mean honest-to-goodness Nazis with swastikas on their flags and chants against Jews on their lips. They are here in today’s America, and they’re on the march.

How did it come to this? How did the United States of America go from nearly 75 years of celebrating the defeat of the Third Reich by the Allies to insisting that one should never, ever punch a Nazi?

I believe that media reaction to the outcome of the 2016 presidential election set the national dialogue sliding down a slippery slope that has now led us to this shameful state of the nation.

Nazi Airtime

Within hours of Hillary Clinton conceding the presidential election to Donald Trump in November, mainstream media reports began to be published and aired that sought to explain to the businessman’s victory to shell-shocked Democrats. From the Guardian to the New York Times, the recurrent theme in opinion pieces in the days immediately after the election was that middle-class, urban, educated Democrats needed to understand the working-class, rural, less educated Americans who voted for Trump.

One problem with this first wave of hot takes was that they tended to gloss over the racist resentment that fueled much of the fervor for the Republican candidate and instead focused almost exclusively on economic issues, as if none of us had seen the black men being beaten at rallies or heard the audiences enthusiastically cheering endless stump speeches inciting hatred of immigrants and Muslims.

Coverage of white nationalist Richard Spencer had already begun to overlap with reporting on Trump supporters before the election, with Mother Jones and other outlets increasingly fascinated with the pseudo-intellectual hipster image presented by the University of Chicago graduate.

The number of articles on Spencer increased exponentially after members of his own audience raised their arms in Nazi salutes as he finished a mid-November speech in Washington, D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Building on with the words, “Hail Trump! Hail our people!” and, “Hail victory!” – English translations of Third Reich slogans with the president-elect in place of the Führer.

We shall soon have our storm troopers in America Hitler U.S. anti-Nazi propaganda poster world war 2

Anti-Nazi poster, World War II [National Archives].

The truly surreal cultural moment occurred when Spencer attended Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration and was punched during an interview on the street shortly after the ceremony. Journalists began asking ethicists and college students if it was morally acceptable to punch a Nazi. This is arguably the point at which the U.S. media really turned a corner.

There had been absolutely no legal consequences for the Republican presidential candidate encouraging the beating of protestors and straight-facedly discussing the assassination of his Democratic rival. Yet liberals began to wring their hands and clutch their pearls over the fact that one punch had been thrown at one person who was openly advocating an ideology once considered so pernicious that the Allies killed approximately four million German soldiers to eradicate it.

On Aug. 11, during the “Unite the Right” rally attended by Spencer, Augustus Invictus, David Duke, Henrik Palmgren, Stephen McNallen, and other far-right figures, a 20-year-old white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist protestors in Charlottesville — using a favorite tactic of Islamic extremist terrorists — and killed Heather Heyer while injuring 19 others. Heyer’s mother received so many threats from Nazis that she decided to bury her daughter in an unmarked and secret grave.

If the world were sane, Americans of positive intent would be united in facing those fomenting this home-grown terrorism. The world isn’t sane, and the supposedly liberal media denounced by conservatives as hopelessly in thrall to leftist dogma moved to the next logical step in its train of coverage that began the day after the election. Think pieces began to appear arguing that, just as Democrats had to understand Trump voters, we all need to understand Nazis.

The New York Times has led the way here with in-depth pieces such as its feature profile of a white nationalist in Ohio that gave him plenty of room in the nation’s “newspaper of record” to expound upon his hateful worldview. CNN devoted nearly seven minutes to an interview with a former leader of the American Nazi Party who is running unopposed in an Illinois Republican primary for the U.S. Congress. The network gave an actual Illinois Nazi the opportunity to denounce the “Jew’s media” on television screens in over two hundred countries.

If the idea is that giving an international platform to hate speech will somehow cause it to wither away, that’s simply a wrongheaded notion that shows a misunderstanding of how such ideologies spread. Shortly after Trump’s election, NPR’s All Things Considered devoted over eight minutes to an interview with Richard Spencer. His opening statement on the air was, “This is the first time we’ve really entered the mainstream, and we’re not going away. I mean this is just the beginning, and I’m very excited.” He continued, “What I want is influence. And sometimes influence can be invisible. If we can get these ideas out there, if people can see the compelling and powerful nature of them, I think we really can change policy.”

Unbelievably, Spencer repeatedly told his interviewer that she was giving him a megaphone to spread his ideas, and her producer somehow decided that putting him on the network’s primary news program was a good idea. As with CNN, there seems to have been some misguided idea about shining a light. In both cases, major news networks enabled men who were on the extreme fringes of American society just two years ago to broadcast their hate to arguably the largest audience Nazis have head since 1945.

Consequences

The message is being heard. The number of hate groups has been growing since the 2000 census suggested whites would hold minority status by mid-century, and recruitment of new members surged after the election of President Trump. What seems to go over the heads of mainstream media figures is that one Nazi telling a CNN host that she’s part of the “Jew’s media” live on the air and another rubbing the nose of a seemingly oblivious NPR host in the fact that she’s amplifying his message to the point where he’s “very excited” are propaganda victories that actually raise their status in the eyes of young white men open to what they’re selling.

A watershed moment in the increasing acceptance of Nazi ideology in contemporary America was President Trump’s public response to the violence in Charlottesville, which has had an out-sized influence on multiple segments of U.S. society. After denouncing “the left” for “violently attacking the other group,” he repeatedly insisted that there was “blame on both sides” and notoriously declared that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

The far right celebrated the president’s remarks. Spencer stated that he was “really proud of him” for his comments that “bucked the narrative of Alt-Right violence.” Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke responded, “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.” Asatru Folk Assembly founder Stephen McNallen cited the president’s remarks and wrote, “Trump gave us an opening and we must exploit it to the hilt.”

He's watching you German soldier anti-Nazi poster

Anti-Nazi poster, World War II [National Archives].

The influence of the “very fine people” comment has spread beyond the right. The slippery slope of coverage that slid from understanding Trump voters to publishing profiles of white nationalists to handing the microphone to Nazis can be seen as the media’s version of the president’s statements. Yes, these are people who espouse a rhetoric of hate, the articles say, but they are also the nice neighbors who live next door.

With every normalizing feature article published, people become a little bit less shocked by the rhetoric. Maybe modern America simply doesn’t have the attention span or the moxie to sustain outrage long enough for it to turn into direct action. Instead, we share the articles on social media and watch as family and friends comment that, yes, these Nazis are horrible people, but did you hear what immigrants are doing to white women in Sweden?

Recently, statements by “former neo-Nazis” have gone viral through reposts by well-meaning people. A video produced by Al Jazeera’s AJ+ channel features two former white nationalists who insist that Nazis must not be violently opposed or even spoken to in a harsh tone of voice. “We need to treat them with empathy, compassion, and respect,” says one. “We need to uphold their dignity,” says the other.

I have seen an increasing number of white people of moderate and liberal persuasion push this narrative and insist that we must never meet violence with violence, but must instead listen to what white nationalists have to say and engage in thoughtful dialogue with them. It’s totally unsurprising that white nationalists would forward this idea, since spreading their message is an openly stated goal. What has changed recently is the readiness of so many self-declared non-racist white people to fall for this line as hard as the NPR host fell for Spencer.

How we got to this moment seems clear. Media and social media have led us to a psychological space in which it seems completely logical to invite white nationalists over for a beer. They’re Trump voters. They’re disaffected victims of the economic downturn. They’re our next-door neighbors. It’s important that their views be heard. So the argument goes.

Ask a person of color, a refugee, a Muslim, a Jew, or a member of the LGBTQ+ community what they think of all this, and you may get a different perspective. Robert Jones, Jr. has said, “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” When your worldview is built on the grossest racism, anti-Semitism, and other pure forms of hate, there is no common ground upon which to build dialogue. There is no middle ground between multicultural democracy and Nazism.

Hate Is All Around

Corporate media tells us we have to hear the Nazis out, give them a voice in the mainstream, and consider their feelings. Conservative politicians continue to pussyfoot around the so-called “alt-right,” following the president’s lead on denouncing “neo-Nazis and white nationalists” while insisting that there are “very fine people” among them. Republicans are canny enough to know which of the two major political parties members of this demographic are likely to support, and they’re not going to throw away all those votes.

Normalization has arguably been an overused term of late, but the shoe fits this foot. What was unthinkable just a few years ago is now commonplace. We see Nazis interviewed on the news networks – not as part of documentaries on fringe hate groups, but as coverage of their campaigns for the U.S. Congress. We hear elected representatives adopt the rhetoric of white nationalism without a blush. We see our family, friends, and colleagues argue that punching Nazis is always bad and that we need to instead listen quietly to their concerns in order to gently change their minds.

Do I think we should all go out into the street and assault Nazis? Absolutely not. I don’t think I’ve punched anyone since about fourth grade. I do wonder what my father would say about all this, having lived through and escaped from extermination camps in the Second World War. He would get furious if he ever caught me watching Hogan’s Heroes as a kid, insisting that Nazis were no joke. He dedicated his adult life to education and standing against nationalistic hate, yet he died of cancer as an American president was insisting that we torture prisoners in the ways that my father was tortured by camp guards as a child.

Even then, as the United States was changing and heading onto a darker path in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I don’t think many would have predicted the mainstreaming of actual Nazism that we now face. But here we are.

When you ride alone you ride with Hitler U.S. anti-Nazi poster

Anti-Nazi poster, World War II [National Archives].

In the last several months, I’ve seen members of the American Heathen community appear to be more comfortable with those who have spent years in Nazi organizations than they are with members of the demographics these groups target.

I’ve heard otherwise decent people insist that inclusive Heathens must focus on “winning over” racist Heathens in prisons and hate groups, that we must welcome them into our religious organizations, our online groups, and even our homes so that they can be weaned away from hate. I’ve watched them salute a far-right extremist for setting aside his hatefulness while at work and being civil to a gay co-worker, as if one deserves a cookie for managing to rise to the level of basic human decency and control his hate just enough to not commit workplace hate-crimes.

When asked about reaching out to African-American and Muslim communities, these same Heathens say, “What, do you want us to start knocking on doors in black neighborhoods?” When asked about supporting Black Lives Matter, they state, “We don’t get involved in politics.” White prison gangs, yes; black neighborhoods, no. Nazi outreach organizations, yes; Black Lives Matter, no. This is a strange sort of inclusivity.

I disagree with this, but people can disagree agreeably. It becomes an insoluble issue when President Trump’s condemnation of anti-Nazi protestors as an equal evil to Nazis becomes internalized and when those who stand against racism – whether in the Heathen religions or in the larger society – are condemned as extremists in a misguided attempt to appear fair and equitable.

There has recently been a noticeable uptick on social media of people stating that they are “against extremism on either side.” This is exactly the position of Trump that was applauded by David Duke and company, because they knew that it gave them a psychological victory over those who oppose their hate. A swathe of the American public has been convinced that standing against Nazism is an equivalent evil to Nazism, that denouncing anti-Semitism is just as bad as espousing it. This is a victory for the worst hatemongers. This is insane.

I reject the idea that opposing hate is somehow as bad as promoting Nazi ideologies. This false equivalency is destructive to the very foundations of a civil society. America’s paralysis in the face of growing native Nazism today denies the sacrifice of all those who died on the battlefield stopping foreign Nazism in the Second World War. For any who claim to respect their ancestors, this is a Schande, a shame that ruins the reputation of any who allow this abomination to flourish in our society.

I reject the idea that we must understand, empathize, and respect those who openly advocate and commit violence against people of color, practitioners of minority religions, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We must declare this behavior unacceptable. There must be no place for it in our society.

If it is considered extreme to declare zero tolerance for Nazis, so be it. I will honor all those from all nations who stood against Nazi Germany in the past by standing against Nazi America today. You can invite a Nazi over for a beer if you want, but turn around that 1945 mantelpiece photo of your grandfather in uniform before you answer the door.

***

The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

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Are You Ready to ‘Adult’?

The commonly used word, ‘adult,’ has had a makeover in recent years. A person is considered a chronological adult at the age of 18 or 21, depending on when they could vote, drink legally or be drafted. The concept of ‘adulting,’ spills over into the realm of behavior. It could take the form of holding down a job, keeping appointments, being in integrity with one’s word, and paying the bills on time. There are moments when even the most responsible among us desire someone else who is ‘adultier,’ to take charge. This 59-year-old recovering Type A, overachiever with a solid work ethic would love nothing better some days than to hang out in a blanket fort, wearing footie pajamas, and indulging in mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I was taught responsibility at an early age. Somewhere around four or five, I helped do laundry, by sorting and folding socks that my mother would dump onto the dining room table. Toasty and warm, fresh from the dryer. To this day, I enjoy doing laundry, in part because it is a Zen activity, and because it reminds me of my mom. In addition, over the years, I was asked to set and clear the table, clean my room, make my bed (I still do it each morning, since it is my first accomplishment of the day), dust, vacuum, cook, mow the lawn, and clean the bathroom. I would help my dad clean the garage, which generally meant moving the junk from one side to the other. Gardening gave me the opportunity to plant, weed and harvest whatever veggies and flowers we grew in the yard.

I don’t remember groaning about chores since my parents had a way of making even those fun activities, and I somehow internalized the idea that as a family we (my parents, sister and I) needed to work together. Not sure how they managed to have everything look easy, since they also both worked full time, volunteered, had a circle of friends and a loving marriage. They were excellent at adulting.

I developed what I now call House Rules to which I introduced my son as he was growing up and offer these to my clients who find organization challenging.

  • If you open it, close it.
  • If you take it out, put it back.
  • If you drop it, pick it up.
  • If you make a mess, clean it up.

Pretty simple and yet, how many people follow them? I am of the ‘clean as you go,’ school in the kitchen. It is far simpler to tidy in between boiling, broiling and baking than to have a monumental mess to clean up later. I have also taken heed of the advice of a former client who was raising his three teenagers as a single father. He told them that the sink was for washing dishes, not storing them.

Amid my hectic schedule, having a haven at home helps bring balance and grounding. One commitment I make to myself each day is to have a clean kitchen before my head touches down on the pillow. That way, I can wake to a more organized morning.

I was also taught how to create a budget, balance a checkbook, do grocery shopping, change tires and oil in my car (although AAA and regular mechanic visits are my go-to for those services), make phone calls, fill out a job application, as well as a college application, apply for student loans, and drive a car. All are independent living skills.

I recall the wise words of my mentor Yvonne Kaye who, several decades ago, shared her thoughts:  “Discipline is freedom.” Free spirit that I am, I balked at that concept. She patiently explained that when one has structure, there is ample room for all manner of creativity. In the interceding years, I have come to discover the value in that idea.

When working with clients who feel overwhelmed with the physical and emotional clutter in their lives, I suggest that they clean one shelf, surface, or corner of a closet at a time. In the realm of relationships, it may present itself like cleaning up their side of the street and being accountable only for what they say, think or do. They are not responsible for anyone else’s choices. Nor is there room to blame others for theirs.

Adulting Advice

“My ma had accounting skills. She taught me how to budget, plan taxes and anything math. Housekeeping skills, I mainly learned on my own. Organizing my life was from a book called the Sidetracked Sisters Get Organized. Very popular in the early 80’s. I wasn’t satisfied with looking at my home or work and saying I didn’t know how. I read everything I could lay my hands on to be a good wife and mother, and I used it. When my son was born I promised him that I would teach him as much as he could absorb about being a self- sufficient person. He is 34 and is fully able to run his own household in spite of learning disabilities and handicaps. I know you believe me when I say, no part of that was easy.”

“I was taught basic home-making things from my Mom, my Dad taught me some car stuff. But no financial/tax type things. As far as my 3 boys, I taught them financial, budget keeping. Home stuff, laundry, cooking etc. I hope some things stuck. They are each so different, certain things just didn’t interest one where it did another.”

I’m teaching general etiquette, including writing thank you notes, how to treat others, including when dating or interested in the opposite sex, banking, budgeting, and financial management skills, household chores — laundry, cooking, cleaning, organizing, and little things like preparing for unexpected situations (always bring a jacket or keep one in the car in case the temperature drops or rains). I was taught all of these except the financial piece and dating. I learned that in college and graduate school aka “trial-by-fire”. I learned car stuff by watching my dad. I haven’t taught that to my son though.”

“No. I was taught how to have fun. The adulting I’ve never fully mastered. Thank Buddha.”

“I was taught more by others and learned more on my own, than my parents ever taught me. Now, I am teaching my sister. We just had a conversation yesterday about it and how our mother was so needy and manipulative that she deliberately made my sister dependent on her, so she would always “need” her and have to live with her. At 38, she’s fearfully learning how to take care of herself. It’s a work in progress… but at least we are making progress.”

Resources to help you adult more gracefully, include:

The Adulting Bookshelf: 6 Books on Getting Your Life Together

6 Books On How To Be An Adult That Every Twentysomething Needs To Read

And then there is, “That horrifying moment when you’re looking for an adult, but you realize you are an adult. So, you look around for an older adult. An adultier adult. Someone better at adulting than you.” – Unknown

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Berlinale 2018. Awards

GOLDEN BEAR FOR BEST FILM
Touch Me Not (Adina Pintilie)
SILVER BEAR GRAND JURY PRIZE
Mug (Małgorzata Szumowska)
SILVER BEAR ALFRED BAUER PRIZE
The Heiresses (Marcelo Martinessi)
SILVER BEAR FOR BEST DIRECTOR
Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs)
SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTRESS
Ana Brun (The Heiresses)
SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTOR
Anthony Bajon (The Prayer)
SILVER BEAR FOR BEST SCREENPLAY
Manuel Alcalá and Alonso Ruizpalacios for Museo
SILVER BEAR FOR OUTSTANDING ARTISTIC CONTRIBUTION
Elena Okopnaya (Dovlatov)

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Kenobi: A Star Wars Story?

Kenobi: A Star Wars Story? asks the question – if (or when) we get a Kenobi stand alone movie, what on earth could it be about? 🔴 SUBSCRIBE to fulfill your destiny – http://bit.ly/2k9kCcO ⭐ SPONSOR TGN Star Wars – http://bit.ly/2jz191g Thumbnail by Nancy Teeple Written by Ohtze: https://twitter.com/Ohtze_O Edited by TGN Network Partner Rinnegan: https://www.youtube.com/MagicalNoob Music by Epidemic Sound http://ift.tt/19pXSrH

Source: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=UUKVtW8ExxO21F2sNLtwrq_w

Concert Review: Bananarama, February 23, Danforth Music Hall

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Shortly before Bananarama took to the stage at the Danforth on Friday night, Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” was played in it’s entirety over the PA and while people didn’t quite go crazy, there was enough singing and dancing going on to prove that even before the show had started, this was a crowd that was ready to party. And Bananarama were more than up for the task, getting the party going and keeping the energy level reasonably high throughout the night.

The English trio, touring with the original lineup for the first time after Siobhan Fahey recently reunited with bandmates Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward, came out of the gate strong, all glittery outfits and synchronised dance moves as they started things off with “Nathan Jones” and “Robert DeNiro’s Waiting.” “Our outfits are an homage to Winter Olympics,” joked Fahey later on in the night. They ran through a bunch of other hits during their set, including “Venus,” “Cruel Summer,” “I Heard A Rumour,” and a cover of “Stay” by Shakespears Sister, Fahey’s post-Bananarama project. The ladies and their backing band put on a solid performance that got me thinking about the possibilities of a reunion of a fiftysomething Pussycat Dolls or S Club 7 fifteen or twenty years down the line. Who knows? It could happen.

After closing out the main set with a cover of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” the band returned for a two song encore of “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” and “Love in the First Degree” before ending off a show that definitely had the fans dancing and partying for the duration. Mind you, with the crowds for these kinds of big pop reunion shows, who generally come prepared to have fun and relive their youths, it’s pretty easy to keep the party going.

The post Concert Review: Bananarama, February 23, Danforth Music Hall appeared first on The Panic Manual.

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8 Reasons to Make Time for Fun

“Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in live and really enjoy it.” – Eileen Caddy

When was the last time you recall having fun? Not merely feeling somewhat pleased, but fully enjoying yourself? The truth is we often feel guilty even thinking about having fun, let alone actively engaged in something we consider fun. Yet, there’s good evidence supporting the recommendation to carve out some time to do just that. Here are eight reasons why.

You must work, so “Do it well, make it fun.”

If you’re not independently wealthy, you must secure gainful employment and bring home money to pay the bills and take care of the family. Instead of dreading the job or feeling stuck in a go-nowhere career, change your mindset. Ron Culbertson is the author of a book with the intriguing and self-explanatory title “Do It Well. Make It Fun.: The Key to Success in Life, Death and Almost Everything in Between.” In an interview in Forbes, Culbertson explained that when he stumbled upon the realization that if he could do a job well (even one he didn’t particularly like) and somehow make it fun, he’d be more effective and eventually be more successful. So, he coined the phrase, “Do it well, make it fun.”

Culbertson further explained that this two-step approach could work in almost any situation in life. A great attitude also provides motivation and inspiration for having fun and making a job or task more enjoyable. A 2004 study by Ford et al. found that employees who related being in a fun work environment experienced increased levels of creativity, communication, satisfaction, enthusiasm and group cohesiveness.

Having fun helps relieve anxiety and depression.

There are numerous studies on methods and activities that help quash mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and some contain gems of wisdom applicable to having fun in the process. One study looked at dance and dance movement therapy and its effect on increasing positive mood and well-being, as well as diminishing outcomes of clinical anxiety and depression. Even more reason to get your groove on with a dance class or dancing to the music on the radio in your living room, right?

Boost your mood with a wardrobe switch-up.

If putting on the same type of outfit or attire day after day starts to get you down, consider a wardrobe switch-up. Remember when you were a kid and the school had backwards-day, meaning students could wear their clothes backwards or mismatched socks and tops and bottoms. In business, that practice morphed to “casual day” or some other clever moniker. Still, the advice to add a bit of zip to your attire by including a contrasting color or even to-die-for undies (nobody knows but you) can serve to elevate your mood and brighten your day. Besides, what women doesn’t turn to retail therapy to have fun from time to time? Shopping for clothes can have a dramatic effect on mood.

Enjoyment and flow: two benefits of cognitive absorption in technology.

Researchers Ritu Agarwal and Elena Karahanna explored the reason why time seems to fly when you’re having fun with technology. No kidding. The title of their research published in MIS Quarterly was: “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun: Cognitive Absorption and Beliefs About Information Technology Usage.” They found that the constructs of enjoyment and flow are perhaps important variables in explaining acceptance of technology. They identified cognitive absorption and defined it as deep involvement with software and theorized it was exhibited by heightened enjoyment, curiosity, control, focused immersion and temporal dissociation.

Remember that the next time you find yourself engrossed and having fun with technology-related devices and projects. Likely it’s not just techies who benefit from this type of enjoyment and flow.

Bust stress with some laughter therapy.

Don’t we all get a kick out of a good laugh? The science behind why laughter is good for you is quite concise. When you laugh, you release a torrent of stress-busting endorphins, your body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Whether you laugh by yourself or in a group, go ahead and let it loose. Even better, the human body can’t tell if something is funny or not, or care if you have a sense of humor, so if you can get your giggle on, you’ll still benefit. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America recommends laughter therapy for its healing powers and ability to enhance overall health and wellness.

You’ll sleep better.

When you’ve enjoyed yourself laughing, having fun, interacting with people you have a good time with, relaxed, played and pursued meaningful activities you’ll find that you’ve contributed to a healthy kind of tired where you naturally drift off to sleep and stay asleep to get maximum restorative benefits. These include muscle repair and consolidation of memories. So, instead of being fixated on getting enough sleep, focus on the kinds of daytime activities where you feel you’re having fun.

Enhance relationships with a playful nature.

Anyone who’s ever struggled with finding something to say to a stranger, whether a potential business connection, new co-worker, neighbor or someone you regularly see while shopping or getting coffee knows that breaking the ice can be a challenge. Yet, a slight attitude change, such as adopting a playful nature, can help smooth away difficulties. Interactions with others, even those you’ve know a long time but may be experiencing a disagreement with or a rough patch, can be easier. Having fun and sharing activities with others helps build empathy, compassion, trust and intimacy.

Fun helps improve brain function.

It’s not only older adults hoping to stave off Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who can benefit from activities that stimulate and challenge the brain. Everyone can realize gains in mental acuity, concentration, focus and clarity from playing chess, working on puzzles or crosswords and other brain challenging activities. Not only do these activities work to improve brain function, they may also help prevent the onset of memory problems.

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