Reflections on the Little Drummer Boy

By Angela Noel

December 21, 2017

I begin to feel the holiday spirit the first time I hear “The Little Drummer Boy” each year. This song, written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941, helps me sight the essence of what I believe is my–maybe everyone’s–purpose here on this planet.

Let me explain. Continue reading “Reflections on the Little Drummer Boy”

Cognitive Bias Series: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

by Angela Noel

December 14, 2017

Stories are the software of our brains. They tell us how to act, what’s important, and what to do when something goes wrong. But every software program has bugs.

For example,  I recently stood in line with my son and husband at an amusement park. My son grabbed my arm. ”Mom,” he said, “remember that time you took a gun to the airport and you were almost arrested?” Continue reading “Cognitive Bias Series: The Stories We Tell Ourselves”

Love Letter: Dear Dad, I’m Sorry

A Guest Post by Mind Over Meta

December 9, 2017

I remember the morning when mum came into my room to tell me you’d passed away; I could hear my younger brother crying in his room. Nan and granddad came round, having lost their only child, and I remember the dimly lit rooms and deafening silences. I remember your funeral, I remember your friends all dressed in black. I remember time standing still and yet life carrying on.

You were just forty-six years old when you died. I was just thirteen. Continue reading “Love Letter: Dear Dad, I’m Sorry”

All I Want for Christmas: A Wish List

By Angela Noel

November 30, 2017

The holidays approach. This also means my birthday is soon to arrive. In fact, it comes the same day as St. Nick. I’m one of those Christmas babies who get gifts but once a year. And though I lamented that fact as a child, now in my fourth decade of life, I realize this collision of Christmas and birthday can, maybe, help me get what I really want this year. Because, while “double” the presents for a Christmas Birthday wasn’t realistic, I did tend to get a more valuable “combo” gift on occasion. And that’s what I’m counting on now.  Continue reading “All I Want for Christmas: A Wish List”

Awesome Nuggets: Thanksgiving Edition

by Angela Noel

November 23, 2017

It’s Thanksgiving!

Weird thing about gratitude: In the act of calling to mind all the good things we have in our lives, we’re actually receiving a powerful benefit. As Alex Korb Ph.D discusses in The Grateful Brain, studies have shown that calling to mind what we’re grateful for has a direct effect on depression and an indirect effect on anxiety. As we express gratitude our brains increase dopamine production, making us both feel good, and increase our activity levels–a kind of “more of that, please” response. So offering thanks for the gifts we’ve been given is also a gift to ourselves. Continue reading “Awesome Nuggets: Thanksgiving Edition”

Cognitive Bias Series: Taming the Elves in Our Brains

By Angela Noel

November 16, 2017

Certain four-letter words get a lot of attention. I won’t write them here because you already know what I’m talking about. These words have power. Some studies have shown that cussing actually tempers the pain response in the brain. Preliminary theories tell us swear words trigger a “fight” response, helping the body dull sensations of pain.

But I want to talk about a different four-letter word: bias. The word itself won’t lesson pain. Its power comes from describing a whole host of unconscious actions governing our responses to all kinds of sensations and experiences. Saying the word out loud won’t increase or decrease pain, but bias operating in our lives just might. Continue reading “Cognitive Bias Series: Taming the Elves in Our Brains”

Twin Posts: What Does it Mean to be “Enough?”

By Angela Noel

November 9, 2017

Writing, whether for my own blog or for others, offers both joy and challenge. I’ve particularly enjoyed guest posting lately. Sometimes my host has had a specific idea of what he or she wants, other times not. In all cases, I seek a universal theme–the thread that connect us all.

It just so happens that the guest posts I wrote for two awesome bloggers happened to both be published this week. And both explore a core aspect of how I now view and operate in the world: being enough.

Whether you’re more concerned with relationships or work, there’s something here for you. Continue reading “Twin Posts: What Does it Mean to be “Enough?””

A Love Letter: The Nature of Love

A Guest Post by Dave Driver

November 2, 2017

A young friend posited the following: “I know the ones we love are never things we own. And I know that love is something to be given freely, not to be expected. Finally, I know that all things change in time, especially human beings. It is for all these reasons I wonder why long-term relationships are to be pursued.”

I sent this in reply: Continue reading “A Love Letter: The Nature of Love”

Two Mathematics Concepts You Should be Thinking About

By Angela Noel

October 26, 2017

I have two favorite mathematics concepts. That sounds weird, I know. I’m a communications and writing major, an author and a blogger, but I’m also a collector of mental oddities. I find little scraps of interesting tidbits from all kinds of places and add them to the museum of my mind. The scraps can come from anywhere, a technical specification, high school algebra, Nietzsche, an ad on the radio, or a quote in a magazine. I pull them out to illustrate ideas, as either analogies or examples. Most of the time, they’re useful little tools, bringing context to complexity. Sometimes, they confuse people. I hate it when that happens.

Hopefully, this isn’t one of those times. Because these two concepts form so elegant a metaphor for life and human interactions, I can’t resist sharing them with you.

Mathphobes, please keep reading. I’m not about to amaze you with knowledge of multivariable calculus–mainly because I don’t know the first thing about it. These two little gems I learned in my first fifteen years, and you did too.

I’m guessing though, that many of us left these things buried where we hoped never to see them again: in the textbooks of our youth. But, maybe I can change your mind about their usefulness and application in daily life.  Continue reading “Two Mathematics Concepts You Should be Thinking About”

Five Essential Qualities of Everyday Leadership

By Angela Noel

October 16, 2107

Some bosses inspire fear, others devotion. The call to leadership asks for the best in a person, but does not always get it. Bosses make our lives better or worse with the simplest of inconsequential acts. A “good job” can mean the world. A well-placed critique can change a career. But a thoughtless comment will damage any relationship, never more so than when one person has the ability to terminate the other’s livelihood. Worse, a pattern of ego-driven blindness can turn a leader into an employee’s personal Satan. Continue reading “Five Essential Qualities of Everyday Leadership”