The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage

Most of us consider emotions as good or bad. Happiness or love versus stress and sadness. And we treat “bad emotions” as truly horrible things we must judge and avoid feeling at all costs. We push aside bad emotions, we deny them, but what we are really doing is giving them more power to control us.

Bad emotions become stronger when we ignore them, bad emotions can even turn into diseases, like heart problem or depression. Denial is unsustainable, we don’t need to be OK all the time.

There is more to gain if we accept all of our emotions, the good, the bad and the ugly. When we push aside normal emotions, we lose our abilities to develop skills to deal with them and to deal with the world as it is, a very messy place. How many of us have said “I don’t want to try because I don’t want to be disappointed” We must not run away from our emotions, not even disappointment, because tough emotions are part of our contract with life.

You don’t get to have good grades, positive relationships, a great career or leave the world a better place without stress and discomfort. Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.

Research shows that radical acceptance of all of our emotions, even the messy ones, is the key to resilience and authentic happiness, because our emotions contain information about the things we truly care about.

How can we start accepting our emotions? Words are essential. We should’t stop at “I’m stressed” we should try to analyze and describe why are we stressed, pay attention to detail, embrace every aspect of the emotion, use the information that each emotion is trying to give us about ourselves. Because in seeing ourselves we are able to see others.

Based on the TED Talk “The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage” by  Susan David, at TEDWomen 2017 


Gratitude Journal

Hi everyone,

Being grateful all the time has helped me make it a habit, which means, being grateful all the time has helped me do it without even noticing. It also helps me live my life with a nice, positive filter.

This week I’ve been sad, a close friend is moving to Spain, and I had no idea I was going to feel this down. I’m learning from these emotions, just how much this friend means to me, and how I want and plan to support him in his new challenges.

At the same time, I’m happy because I’m making new friends, from people I’ve known for years, which means I’m learning is never too late to improve a relationship, is never too late to build a friendship.

In other news, over the weekend I hosted a movie night at my house, and it was so much fun, and it was also a little dream come true, I’ve always wanted my house to be full of friends and fun, and that is just what happened this past weekend. I know, my dreams are very specific and strange.

In work related news, this week is the recognition assembly, which always makes me nervous. However, I think I have a great idea for my part of the presentation, hopefully everything goes well.

I also feel like this week has started with a couple of opportunities to really make a difference, which makes me even more nervous that the recognition assembly, but, challenge accepted.

I hope this week keeps giving me a lot to be thankful about it, I already know I’m going to be really grateful to see my mom next weekend (and my kitties)

Have a great week,

Ms. Gaby Di Muro

8 Ways to Unleash Your Curiosity

Curiosity stems from caring to know what you don’t know. There are three types of curiosity.

  • Diversive curiosity is our hunger for novelty; this is what makes us click on cat videos and keeps us scrolling through Facebook feeds.
  • Empathetic curiosity is the drive to understand another person by trying to see the world as they do.
  • Epistemic curiosity is our deeper, more directed quest for understanding that prompts us to explore, ask questions and make connections.

Curiosity inspires us to solve problems and think creatively. It’s ignited in what Professor George Loewenstein describes as the information gap: the gap between what we know and what we would like to know. It’s that feeling we experience when we don’t know something that inspires us to set out on the path to discovery.

The internet and digital technologies have reduced the friction between our desires and the gratification of them and closed the gap between our questions and answers. The next wave of voice-activated devices, such as Amazon’s Echo, are designed to do that with stealth. We have never had the opportunity to look for more answers and yet we have forgotten the importance of stopping to question. From Galileo to Einstein, Picasso to Jobs, Joyce to Gladwell, our world has always been shaped by the most curious people to inhabit it. As Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron once said, “Curiosity is the most powerful thing you own.”

We should do everything in our power to own it.

It’s amazing what you can discern by looking at things that people don’t usually pay attention to. Noticing what others don’t see can yield some fascinating results. Use the exercises below to help you develop your curiosity.

1. Observe with intention.

  1. Spend 15 minutes in a place where people are waiting or queuing. This might be your local café, station, park or an airport departure lounge. Describe who, what, where or when.
  2. Make a list of the things people do when they think no one is watching. You could be observing an interaction between a parent and child at the park, or someone scrolling through a social media feed on their smartphone at Starbucks.
  3. Answer the following questions:
    • What behaviors did you observe (not just actions, but also emotions)?
    • What patterns do you notice?
    • How do the circumstances or environment change their behavior?
    • Write one sentence about your biggest insight.

2. Notice frustrations.

  1. Use a fresh page in your notebook or create a new note in your favorite note-taking app and label it “frustrations.” You’re going to use this same page every time you observe a frustration in action.
  2. Make a list of the things you notice people struggling to do. This could be things like carrying shopping bags, opening a jar, untangling earbuds or trying to navigate the signage in a hospital or department store.
  3. Ask yourself:
    • What frustrations did you observe?
    • If you could fix one of these problems, which would it be and why?
  4. Create a minimum doable product plan to solve this problem by writing down:
    • The frustration
    • The problem
    • The solution

3. Ask, How would I fix it?

Describe the change that occurs in people’s lives after they have adopted your solution. What’s wrong and how could it be fixed? This is your chance to solve a bigger community problem that’s itching for a creative solution.

  1. Make a note of the one big problem you’d like to solve.
  2. Now describe how other people have tried to solve it.
  3. Next, detail your more creative solution.

Describe your solution as if you were pitching it to someone who could help you to implement it.

  1. What’s the problem?
  2. What is the solution?
  3. How is it different from or better than what’s been done before?
  4. Why will it succeed? What’s the biggest stumbling block to its success?

4. Ask, What if?

The Post-It, Dyson Vacuum, Kindle, iPhone, and on and on were born from asking “what if?” questions. What if we got rid of the keyboard? Take a look at a product or service you use daily and prepare to give it the “what if?” treatment.

  1. Ask and answer questions that come to mind. What if we made it bigger, smaller, faster, stronger, sustainable, disposable, recyclable, sticky, indelible, and on and on?
  2. Record your best ideas.
  3. Ask yourself:
    • What problems did you solve by making a change?
    • How could those changes create value for the product, service or company?

5. Take it apart.

If you’re a tinkerer, you might like to (safely, not MythBusters style) take a piece of equipment apart. I like to do this with experiences. Consider an experience that you have on a regular basis and get ready to break it down into its parts. Take a visit to the dentist as an example.

  1. Draw a box for each step in the experience:
  2. Arrival. Waiting. Communication. Treatment. Payment. Aftercare. Rebooking.
  3. Consider where the experience went well and where it didn’t live up to expectations.
  4. Make a list of the instances where it fell short.
  5. Ask yourself:
    • What aspects of the product or experience were disappointing?
    • What’s the most important change you could make to improve it?
    • Why did you choose that one thing?
    • What lessons could you learn or take from this into your work?

6. Ask, Why is it this way?

Make time to visit a successful business (either online or offline). Behave like a new visitor or customer to this app, website or store. The aim is to see it with new eyes. (As I write this, I’m picturing IKEA.)

  1. Take notes of what you notice that’s particular to this user experience. Ask questions that align with your chosen experience.
  2. Ask yourself:
    • Why is the store situated here?
    • Why is there a play area and restaurant?
    • What are the room layouts designed to do?
    • Why is the market hall at the end?
  3. Some of the answers will be obvious, but some might surprise you. What were the surprises?

7. Ask, Why will it fly?

Visit or Choose an idea, product or service from the list of those presented, preferably one that you wouldn’t use yourself.

  1. List the reasons you believe this idea will be a success.
  2. Look at your list. What was your rationale for drawing these conclusions?
  3. What lessons could you learn from this and apply to your innovations?

8. Ask, Why did it fly?

Consider a recent breakthrough idea, one that was an unexpected runaway success. For example, two for the publishing industry come to mind. Both of the following books were massive international best-sellers: Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Johanna Basford’s adult coloring book The Secret Garden.

  1. Choose a successful idea to explore and consider. Look at online product reviews or news articles about the story behind the idea and its creator.
  2. Ask yourself:
    • What, in your opinion, drove the success of the idea?
    • What wave of underlying cultural trends of the moment did the idea ride the crest of?
    • What deep-seated human need was this product or service fulfilling?
    • Why wasn’t someone doing this already?
  3. What were your key takeaways?
  4. How could you use trends and current cultural sentiment to predict the future?
  5. Has this sparked any insights about ideas you could bring to life?

Excerpted from Hunch: Turn Your Everyday Insights into the Next Big Thing by Bernadette Jiwa


Gratitude Journal

Hi everyone,

I don’t know if you noticed, but last week I forgot to write my gratitude journal. I was grateful to use all my time to be with my friends and enjoy our time together, away from our phones, computers, responsibilities, etc. In other words, I’m thankful I forgot to write a gratitude journal last week.

This week, I’m thankful to do it so late, I usually write my journal on Friday or Sunday, but lately I’ve been practicing being more flexible with myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very strict with my job and my responsibilities, but I realized that I need allow myself to enjoy other things, maybe even enjoy being messy sometimes.

You might think I’m crazy, but I’m thankful some of you got in trouble last week. I think is “good” because it has giving us the opportunity to talk about serious issues that I hope will help you grow and will help me become a better counselor.

So many things have happened, that I’m not sure I can mention everything. I do know that this last two weeks I realized that I have amazing friends and I’ve also noticed a lot of things that I can improve. I’m very thankful I get to analyze this and hopefully, do something about it.

I hope you all had a great start of the year, and remember that if you need anything, I’m here for you.

Ms. Gaby Di Muro

A sweet look at some of the small things that make our lives beautiful

Artist Janne Willems has collected more than 11,000 drawings in 30 countries from strangers showing the moments we remember and treasure.

For blog, Jan. 24

Artist Janne Willems (TEDxGroningen Talk: Discovering a world of happiness) spends almost every day doing the exact same thing. But don’t pity her; instead, envy her for her view into people’s hearts and souls. She goes up to strangers, hands them a blank postcard, and asks them to draw her a beautiful moment from their past week. Their moment doesn’t need to be pretty or perfect, Willems says; it doesn’t even need to be happy — it just has to be “beautiful,” whatever that word means to them.

Willems began documenting her own beautiful moments when she left home for the first time to go to college. She had grown up in a small town in the Netherlands and had often been bullied and teased as a kid. Going to college in Utrecht, the fourth largest city in her country, was a big deal, a fresh start for Willems. “I wanted to remember all of it,” she says. She start documenting all of the beautiful moments that she was experiencing — memories she was making in classes, with friends, out in the city.

Her beautiful moments journals were a fun hobby until her mother got sick.Then they became her saving grace — her way to find light in the dark. Willems moved home to be with her family and began archiving every good moment. “The only thing my family had to do was take care of my mother and enjoy each other’s company as much as we possibly could,” she says. “I completed three journals in the last five weeks of her life.” After her mother passed away, Willems continuing keeping her journals, using them as “a way of making a world — where there are a lot of minuses — feel like a big plus.”

Three years after her mother’s death, Willems started asking strangers to draw their beautiful moments and sharing them with the world. She began approaching people on trains. “Dutch trains are a terrific place to collect because normally strangers don’t talk to each other,” she says. “But once you’ve asked them to do something out of the ordinary, they start to talk to the person next to them, regardless of whether they know them. The atmosphere in those carriages changes from everybody in their own zone to happily chatting.” Then, she moved on to parks, cafes, anywhere people hung out. “I was curious about other people’s beautiful moments,” she says. “What catches their eye? How does that make life easier on difficult days? What helps them to see the good side of this world?” She created a blog, Seize Your Moments, where she posted photos of the drawings and stories from her encounters.

Since launching “Seize Your Moments,” Willems has collected more than 11,000 drawings from 30 countries. What she’s learned is, no matter the country, most beautiful moments are about one of four things: love, friendship, nature and leisure time. However, she has also noticed particular subjects occurring more often in some countries than others, hinting at what people value. For example, she collected many more nature-related moments in Australia and Nepal, she says. In Singapore, people drew a lot of family dinners. In Turkey, friendship was mentioned twice as often as it is in Australia. “Beautiful moments come in a lot of different forms,” she says, and she’s seen her share of both the heartwarming and the heartbreaking.

“In every country, people change after you ask them to draw their moment,” Willems says. They smile, they open up, “or they cry because the experience of someone approaching them to hear their story hits them,” she says. After years of amassing beautiful moments — and she has no plans to stop — Willems has one big takeaway: It’s not just nice or fun to collect them, “it’s bloody necessary.”

How to Avoid Plagiarism: Quoting and Paraphrasing

When using sources in your papers, you can avoid plagiarism by knowing what must be documented.

Specific words and phrases

If you use an author’s specific word or words, you must place those words within quotation marks and you must credit the source.

Information and Ideas

Even if you use your own words, if you obtained the information or ideas you are presenting from a source, you must document the source.

Information: If a piece of information isn’t common knowledge (see below), you need to provide a source.

Ideas: An author’s ideas may include not only points made and conclusions drawn, but, for instance, a specific method or theory, the arrangement of material, or a list of steps in a process or characteristics of a medical condition. If a source provided any of these, you need to acknowledge the source.

Common Knowledge?

You do not need to cite a source for material considered common knowledge:

General common knowledge is factual information considered to be in the public domain, such as birth and death dates of well-known figures, and generally accepted dates of military, political, literary, and other historical events. In general, factual information contained in multiple standard reference works can usually be considered to be in the public domain.

Field-specific common knowledge is “common” only within a particular field or specialty. It may include facts, theories, or methods that are familiar to readers within that discipline. For instance, you may not need to cite a reference to Piaget’s developmental stages in a paper for an education class or give a source for your description of a commonly used method in a biology report—but you must be sure that this information is so widely known within that field that it will be shared by your readers.

If in doubt, be cautious and cite the source. And in the case of both general and field-specific common knowledge, if you use the exact words of the reference source, you must use quotation marks and credit the source.

The Writer’s Handbook

Gratitude Journal

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the first gratitude journal of the year. I’ll start by saying I’m grateful about the Holiday break I was able to enjoy. I got to spent a lot of time with my grandparents, during Christmas I realized I hadn’t spent a lot of time with them in the last two years, so three weeks together was awesome (yes, I really love my grandparents)

I’m happy to be back to school, as I always am, however, I have to confess I wasn’t super excited to be back, but the more I hang out with you and the more I keep doing the things I love, I realize that I should be excited to be back.

I am very grateful about my co-workers, everyone had a smile on their faces when we returned on Monday, and my team was there, from the first second back, ready to support me and our work.

STUCO is already hard at work, which is really exciting, I missed my team.

This week was about going back to our routine. I’m also grateful about having the time to cook and take care of my house, I missed my signature rice.

However, outside of my routine, I read my first book of the year and it was so good! Last year I wasn’t able to reach my reading challenge goal, but I won’t let that happen this year.

Also, my best friend, and former roommate sent me a bunch of postcards from Germany, I miss her so much, this present was a great start of the year.

Now that I think about it, many things happened this week, lots to be grateful for. I hope you had an awesome first week back.

See you around,

Ms. Gaby Di Muro