Posted in Life sparks, Sparks Book Club, WWWhat?

Three things I like a lot right now

Oh, hello. I just wanted to tell you about three things that I am liking a lot right now. In case you might like them too. A book, an app, and a podcast – they won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think they’re great.

Firstly, the book. It’s Hillbilly Elegy by J.D.Vance – I’d heard good things, and when the Independent is quoted on the cover: “a great insight into Trump and Brexit”, then I really couldn’t resist. I guess it’s a great insight into that, like a window into a different world. 

I have always known that I couldn’t go on one of those tv talent shows – sure, mostly because I can’t sing and/or dance, but also because I don’t have a particularly interesting back story to my life. Family, friends, education, health, opportunity – this book made me realise that what I consider “normal”, or maybe even “boring”, must sound like fairyland to so many people. And this J.D.Vance kid was born in the 1980s, so it’s not as if it’s a story of how life used to be in ye olden days. It’s interesting and well-written – easy to read on a rainy weekend – and I like that it asks more questions than it answers. Definitely got me thinking.

The app is Lumosity, a “brain training” app that I bought a family subscription to for Christmas. When you google, “apps to prevent dementia”, it always gets a run, and although my parents are (a) reading this, and (b) currently in possession of all of their marbles, I figure it never hurts to give these things a try. We are a competitive people, so the fact that this tracks your performance and compares you to your age group (with an impressive global sample size) is appealing. Some of the games are also quite addictive (looking at you, Train of Thought) and you feel like king/queen of the world when you beat your previous score or get to the next level. 

I think they recently got busted for deceptive / misleading advertising (allegedly over-stating the scientifically proven benefits for dementia / aging etc. But I think as long as we’re enjoying it as a fun challenge, and not expecting miraculous results, then that is all good.

The podcast was discovered by my lovely sister-in-law, Rocky, who shares my interest in slightly quirky books, people, things in general. It’s called Missing Richard Simmons, based on the fact that colourful character Richard Simmons disappeared from public life a few years ago and seemingly flicked the switch on his former life – no contact with his former staff, friends and associates. For someone who was so gregarious and seemed to thrive on his relationships with people, this dramatic disappearance has stumped lots of people. Hence the podcast – the guy is a former friend of Richard and is determined to find make contact. The colourful characters that he meets along the way make this podcast so great – I am sure I have been caught shaking my head or giggling as I listen to it on the way to work. 

It’s become a very popular podcast (we’re up to episode 3, with a new episode released each week) – even if you don’t love Richard Simmons (you monster!) then there are surely enough bizarro people and stories in this podcast to keep it interesting.

And they are three things that I like a lot right now. Hope you like them too!

Posted in Life sparks

How To Talk To Anyone

That’s right, my friends. ANYONE. It’s a guide book of sorts by Leil Lowndes, recently summarised by Maggie Zhang on the Business Insider website under the heading: 7 Body Language Tricks To Make Anyone Instantly Like You. Uh huh.

The post highlights some of the top tips of the book, many of which seemed a little creepy to me. For example, implementing The Flooding Smile when you first meet people. What’s that, then? Apparently, it’s when you make a “big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes.” It’s meant to make you seem sincere. I think it sounds a bit messy.

Now THAT'S a flooding smile.  [image from Pixabay]
Now THAT’S a flooding smile.
[image from Pixabay]
Then there is something called the Big-Baby Pivot. “When you meet someone new, turn your body fully toward them and give them the same, undivided attention you would give a baby.” In her book, Lowndes says that “Pivoting 100% towards the new person shouts, ‘I think you are very, very special.’” Maybe don’t use this one in the office, as I am not sure that much good has ever come from shouting I THINK YOU ARE VERY, VERY SPECIAL at a new person.

[image from Pixabay]
Hang By Your Teeth is a visualisation trick that sounds more painful that it actually feels. I imagine. “To do this, visualise a leather bit hanging from the frame of every door you walk through. Pretend that you are taking a bite on the dental grip, and let it sweep your cheeks into a smile and lift you up.” It’s all about good posture. Giddy up.

And possibly my favourite – Sticky Eyes. “Pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner’s with sticky warm taffy,” and don’t break eye contact. “When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly, stretching the gooey taffy until the tiny string finally breaks.” And wait for your warning letter from HR about leering at your colleagues, I guess.

Only imagine it was joining your eyes to another person's. [image from]
Only imagine it was joining your eyes to another person’s.
[image from]
You can check out the Business Insider post – please be assured that I haven’t included all of the highlights in this post. And if these points sound good to you, or if you would like some help in talking to ANYONE, you can check out Leil Lowndes book, How To Talk To Anyone.

You’re welcome.