Isolating the variables of genuine connection

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(via Paul Spella for The Atlantic)

In 2015, one New York Times article took the dating world by storm. “The 36 Questions That Lead To Love” detailed 36, progressively intimate character and experience-based questions like “Would you like to be famous?” “When was the last time you cried?

The questions were based on a study called “The Experimental Generation of Personal Closeness,” which found that mutual vulnerability can foster intimacy — and maybe, just maybe, love. *Cue romantic accordion*

And so the gauntlet was thrown. Couples new and old took up the 36 Questions’ banner, attempting to spark love in wine bars the world over. Of…

For centuries, the written world has ruled. Now, it’s losing its footing.

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We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: if one more white dude recommends the Joe Rogan podcast to us we’re gonna throw our phones out the window. But his and other podcasters’ popularity is symbolic of a tectonic shift in mass communication.

We’re at an inflection point — and pop culture, social media, and technology trends have finally compounded to create the perfect conditions for a public speaking comeback.

We’re writing (and reading) less than ever

There are the ways that are obvious: podcasts outnumber humans on the Earth; unscripted television has supplanted scripted (first via daytime TV, then with the Real World); writing on…

How to separate work from worth.

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Work-life balance? Does resting your laptop on your stomach count?

It’s been so long since many of us have been in the office that the concept of “9-to-5” has lost all meaning. It’s easier and easier to justify long hours, and — without extracurriculars, events, birthdays, or hugs to give us meaning outside of work — it’s tougher than ever to separate our mood from our meetings.

But, psychologists say this puts us in a particularly precarious position: work life is a rollercoaster, professor of psychology Art Markman tells the New York Times. …

Yes, even for that coworker…

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If you’ve been paying attention to the last 60+ stories we’ve written here, you’ve likely noticed a theme — namely, that our brains don’t set like concrete as we age, and it’s never too late to change your mind.

Well, this week, we’re talking about yet another mental muscle group that we’ve been taught to believe is set in stone, but is actually incredibly flexible: empathy.

We tend to think of empathy as an inherent quality — some (i.e. mother Theresa) are born with empathy to spare… others (i.e. every Jeremy Piven character), not so much. Sometimes it comes reflexively…

We all have unspoken “rules” we’ve internalized about the world and ourselves. What happens when we start to question them?

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Before you read on, pause and ask yourself this question:

Do you have to pre-rinse dishes?

You know, the clean-before-the-clean, where you wash the plates before loading them in the dishwasher; the pre-rinse rinse.

There are only 2 kinds of responses to this question:

  1. Yes. Because we live in a society.
  2. No… That’s what a dishwasher is for! How is this even a question?

The answer is, of course, it depends on the dishwasher. But ask this same question in a room of adults, and it’ll split the room 50/50. …

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“I think of myself as a play detective… Play, especially for children, is a kind of language. And the more we allow it, the more we can heal.”

Any parent knows how hard it can be to get kids to open up about what’s going on at school, at daycare, or just in their heads. Carley Aroldi does it for a living. After trying the conventional route, she found that the most effective tool to get through to her 7-year-old clients was play.

We talked to her about how she uses play in her practice, how it’s helped her make progress in her own life as a parent and a professional, and why she’s spent entire therapy sessions in toy handcuffs.

[This interview has been edited for length…

How an anti-establishment improv upstart broke the rules and made a name for itself overseas.

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Boom members left to right: Liz Cackowski, Andrew Moskos, Rob AndristPlourde, Seth Meyers, Ike Barinholtz, Ken Schaefle, and Jamie Wright (Via Vulture).

Last week, a Vulture article about Boom Chicago, “the greatest American comedy factory you’ve never heard of,” quickly circulated around our virtual office. Boom, an American improv show inexplicably launched in Amsterdam in 1993, holds a special place in our hearts — and not just because it helped launch the careers of Jordan Peele, Seth Meyers, Amber Ruffin and our very own Creative Director/gentle giant, Jamie Wright (pictured above).

No, we love Boom because, as Vulture notes, when other comedy theaters felt like “calcified, hierarchical institutions,” Boom risked it all to create a space where performers could get paid to…

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You’re crossing the street as a car approaches at full speed, skidding to a stop just before the crosswalk. The driver yells out the window, “take your sweet time, buddy!” You know you’re in the right here. You should say something back. You rack your brain for the perfect comeback, but nothing comes…

We’ve all been there, shaking our metaphorical fists at our minds, pleading, “don’t just sit there, you idiot!” When we think of wit, we often think of contrived punchlines or verbal gymnastics (think: one-liners or puns). …

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“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Interrupting brain.’

When we’re in “emergency mode,” we tend to neglect the little things. Things like scheduling a dentist appointment, responding to a networking email, taking out the trash… Unfortunately, even if we place these non-urgent to-dos out of sight, it doesn’t mean they’re out of mind.

It’s called the Zeigarnik effect

Discovered by Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, it’s a phenomenon that causes our brain to “focus on incompleted or interrupted tasks” — to the detriment of our current flow state.

Essentially, it’s like having too many tabs open in our brains’ browser: it drains our processing power. …

On a scale of 1 to Christmas, we’re collectively at the south pole.

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Pictured above: a visual representation of the world’s mental state…
and clue #2 to what we’re working on.
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In 2007, Peter Dodds, a data scientist and professor at the University of Vermont had a question: Could you measure the world’s collective happiness? Luckily for him, around that time a new platform debuted, dedicated to letting users share their feelings with the world: Twitter.

So, Dodds started working on the Hedonometer

The Hedonometer measures happiness based on the tone of the world’s tweets. Podcast “Reply All,” reports that in 2008, Dodds and his team of researchers struck an agreement with the young tech company to analyze 10% of all of their users’ tweet (on an aggregate level so as not to infringe on personal privacy).


Speechless Inc.

Speechless is an organization that uses Improv Thinking to help people be themselves and be heard. Visit for more info.

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