MEL for DSC Magazine, February 2021

In this month's issue, we're learning to love ourselves.

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Mistook your monthly magazine for a pack of One Wipe Charlies and flushed it down the toilet? No worries, here’s the online version!

In this edition:

  1. What I’ve Learned From Watching Caterpillars Turn Into Butterflies
  2. The Non-Narcissist’s Guide to Giving Yourself a Mirror Pep-Talk
  3. How to Find Your Real Voice
  4. Four Big Reasons Taking a Nap Feels so Good
  5. Eight People Who Accomplished Great Feats Single-Handedly
  6. How to Look Your Handsome Best While Wearing a Mask

Welcome!

We’re so happy to see you! Why? Well, because you’re great. You know that, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone realizes they’re great, or even thinks well of themselves, so we decided to tailor our February issue specifically to remind you that you deserve love, including from yourself. Think of it as our Valentine’s Day gift to you, because you’ve earned it.

There are a lot of ways to love yourself — yes, including that one — but taking care of yourself is probably most important. We’re going to show you how to look your best even while you’re wearing a mask, as well as how you can feel your best by treating yourself to a nap. Believing in yourself is also important, so we’ve got tips on how to give yourself a pep talk so you can do amazing things — you can even change the world, all by yourself! (Check page 8 for proof.)

But you don’t need to change the world to be great. And when Valentine’s Day rolls around, remember, you deserve chocolates and flowers, too — especially from yourself.

1 – What I’ve Learned From Watching Caterpillars Turn Into Butterflies

Lepidopterist Kathryn Hokamp exposes the transformative philosophy hidden in butterfly science.

Change Is Necessary
“When caterpillars are about to molt and shed their skin, they get really big — too big for their exoskeletons,” says Hokamp. “It’s uncomfortable. So even though the transformation is difficult, there’s a feeling of relief. I think there’s an analog in humans — when you feel uncomfortable, like, ‘This is no longer a suitable place for me to be,’ it’s time to make a change, to transform, even if you don’t know what’s happening next.”

Change Can Be Huge
“The caterpillar and butterfly are different stages of life,” Hokamp explains. “You know it’s the same organism, but the adult insects look and function completely differently. They even perceive the world differently, and that’s true of other sensory organs as well. I think that can be a cool thing to embrace in yourself — [to know] no matter what things are like, you can make a complete transition.”

Sometimes Change Is Messy
“The metamorphosis process is so difficult,” Hokamp admits. “It’s the most dangerous time for them. There are things that can go wrong. They have to stop eating for a long time. They are the most vulnerable to predation. It’s often unsuccessful and that can be very gory to see.” The lesson here? “Changing is hard — but something really great and beautiful comes out of it.”


2 – The Non-Narcissist’s Guide to Giving Yourself a Mirror Pep-Talk

If you want to pump yourself up, you need to know which pump to use, right?

Whether you’re about to give a big presentation at work or go bungee-jumping for the first time, everyone needs a good pep-talk now and then. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to give one to yourself, and that can feel a lot more difficult to pull off than listening to someone tell you, “You can do iiit!” But it’s not so hard, really.

Why? Because we believe our own thoughts and feelings more than we trust the word of someone else. Oddly, however, research shows our pep-talks are more effective when we treat ourselves as a separate person, and talk to ourselves in the second-person (“You can do it!”) or third-person (“Bill can do it!”) instead of first-person (“I can do it!”). Talking to the person you see in the mirror can help, too.

Whatever you say to yourself, make sure you say it out loud. It’s more powerful than mentally giving yourself a pep-talk because it reinforces the idea in your brain more thoroughly. Not only does this give you more confidence, but studies have also shown that it substantially improves people’s performances and gives them more self-control.

In other words, whether you want to nail that presentation or make that jump without peeing your pants, give yourself your pep-talk loud and proud — it can actually help make it come true.


3 – How to Find Your Real Voice

Master Certified Executive Coach Joshua Miller is here with five tips for finding the courage and power to speak up.

1) In order to find your voice, you must first find yourself. Anyone who’s ever spoken with vigor and verve did it because they were passionate about what they did and owned the moment. Attaching yourself to the person you are (or want to become) will enhance your confidence to speak up more.

2) Do your homework. Research topics relevant to the audience and situation you wish to speak on/at so that when the opportunity arises, you are ready.

3) Write out what you want to say (if it applies). This will help you both collect your thoughts and begin to tell your brain this is important. I personally recommend using a pen and paper vs. typing — it’s a slower method, but proven to help with processing.

4) Practice. Seriously, practice in front of a mirror, as well as to others. Get used to what it feels like and what you sound like speaking up and aloud. Oftentimes we may nail the [tone] but lose our audience due to some unconscious mannerisms we do with our bodies or hands. 

5) Prepare to fail. Everyone does and everyone gets nervous. It’s okay. Your audience most likely doesn’t know what you’re going to say or present anyway, so a few miscues won’t ruin the whole event.


4 – Four Big Reasons Taking a Nap Feels so Good

It’s time for some self-care science! Did you know a quick snooze could be the difference between a happy you and a depressed, exhausted you?

Naps Improve Your Mental Health
Research shows that people who nap report being happier overall than those who don’t, but there are immediate benefits to napping, too. When you’re well-rested, you’re more alert, which means your brain can retain memories more easily, and learn things more thoroughly. It boosts your ability to make decisions, as well as your creativity. A nap can also directly improve your mood by strengthening your ability to regulate your emotions, meaning even when something bad happens, you can deal with it without getting all flustered. 

Naps Improve Your Physical Health
Not feeling sleepy during the day is its own benefit, but when you’re well-rested you also have better motor performance, which means you have more control of your body. Since napping reduces tension, it can reduce your risk of heart disease, too, as well as lowering your blood pressure and ramping up your immune system. One study suggests that these benefits can be at least somewhat attributed to napping lowering your cortisol levels, which could also lessen the amount of stress you feel.

Naps Make You More Productive
Research suggests that frequent nappers perform better — at work, at school, at athletic events — after a quick snooze than people who don’t often nap. “A nap can turn you from a zombie struggling to make it through the day into a productive, functioning human being again in as little as 30 minutes,” says sleep expert Terry Cralle. But don’t think you can get the same boost from an extra cup of coffee, she warns: “Caffeine can affect sleep at night and then a vicious cycle ensues. Instead of taking a coffee break or even a smoking break, a nap can leave us more productive, alert and creative.”

Even a Quick Nap Can Make You Feel Better
Actually, make that “quick naps are better for you.” When you nap for more than half an hour, your body can enter deep sleep, which is key to getting a good rest overnight, but is harder to wake from. If you tend to feel groggy after an afternoon lay-down, this is likely the cause. Luckily, naps shorter than half an hour have tons of benefits on their own. “In one study, a 10-minute nap produced improvements in areas such as sleepiness, fatigue and cognitive performance,” says Cralle. “The good news is that these improvements were maintained for several hours after the nap.”


5 – I Did It My Way: Eight People Who Accomplished Great Feats Single-Handedly

You don’t always need money or power to do something amazing — just a good idea and a bit of luck.

Pliny the Elder
In 77 CE, the Roman military commander, author and philosopher Gaius Plinius Secundus released 37 books he called the Naturalis Historia — the Natural History — the world’s first known encyclopedia. It wasn’t like a modern encyclopedia, which discusses people and history and such in alphabetical order, but it did contain all the scientific knowledge the Ancient World had to offer — everything from astronomy to zoology. It was so thorough that it was used as an encyclopedic resource well into the Middle Ages. Of course, Pliny didn’t get every little detail right, but writing over one million words on 37 scrolls about anything is a feat all on its own.

Edgar Allen Poe
Poe is known for many things — his macabre fiction, his macabre poetry and possibly drinking himself to death. But the poet also created detective fiction in a macabre (obviously) short story called “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in 1841, even though it doesn’t star a proper detective. Instead, a man named Dupin helps the French police when two women are brutally murdered in a locked room. Like Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe, Jessica Fletcher of Murder She Wrote fame and every other fictional character who’s tried to solve a mystery since, Dupin sees the clues others missed, follows the trail and uses analytical reason to solve the case. Here, the culprit ends up being a very disturbed orangutan… but a disturbed orangutan that inspired one of humanity’s favorite storytelling genres.

Ismail Al-Jazari
Born in 1135 CE, this scholar, craftsman and engineer is credited with many inventions, but his most interesting creations are his automata — clockwork robots, powered by hand or hydropower. Ismail created an automaton waitress that could serve three different drinks, as well as a full musical band, but it’s the robot servant he created to help the king wash his hands during ritual purification that changed the world. Pull a lever and the water from the basin would drain, then the automaton would lower a pitcher of water to refill the basin. If this doesn’t sound impressive to you, perhaps this will: This technology Ismail invented is also what made the flush toilet possible, which changed civilization for the better (and more hygenic).

Iry-Hor
We’ve heard stories about ancient heroes and myths from long before the written word existed. But who’s the first person to ever show up in the written word? Why, that would be Iry-Hor, who is also the earliest known Egyptian Pharaoh we know of by name, and who ruled in the early part of the 32nd century BCE. His name was found in hieroglyphs of a falcon over a mouth. Vessels bearing his name have been found in various excavation sites in Egypt (including his tomb), as well as an inscription in Sinai, which Iry-Hor presumably visited during his reign. The pharaoh would probably be happy to know he’s number one, assuming he didn’t curse us all for desecrating his tomb.

Johannes Gutenberg
In the Western world, we always think of Johannes Gutenberg as the father of the “moveable type” printing press in 1439, when in fact, the press has a “grandfather” in Bi Sheng, who invented the press in China around 1040. But it’s hard to overstate how much the German-born Gutenberg improved the invention with metal type and oil-based ink, and it’s even harder to overstate how much he single-handedly changed the Western world. His device allowed books to be mass-produced, which not only helped preserve knowledge throughout the rest of history, but promoted literacy from the domain of monks, scholars and the rich to the public domain. It helped start the Renaissance and inspire the Scientific revolution, both of which shaped the modern world. 

Eratosthenes
What if I told you a single person discovered the Earth’s size, circumference and the tilt of its axis, and also invented the leap year? What if I told you this person did it all in the 3rd century BCE, and that he was incredibly accurate on all counts? Eratosthenes was not only an astronomer, a geographer (he may have even coined the term), a historian and a math genius, he was the chief librarian of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, and still found time to write poetry on the side. Admittedly, he did get the Earth’s distance from the sun and moon pretty wrong, but we shouldn’t hold that against him. How many people in 2021 could figure out the Earth’s size without going to Wikipedia?

Rodolphe Töpffer
If you’ve ever enjoyed a superhero movie before — and odds are most of you have — then take a moment to thank Rodolphe Töpffer. The Swiss artist and illustrator didn’t create the first superhero, but he did create the first comic book in 1827, titled Histoire de Mr. Vieux Bois, known in English as The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck. The story does not hold up well for modern audiences, but it pioneered the medium by telling its entire story through sequential art accompanied by text, separated by bordered panels for easier reading. It’s the same storytelling format comic books use to this day, nearly two full centuries later.

John Montagu
Never heard of John Montagu before? You probably know him better as the fourth Earl of Sandwich. Contrary to popular legend, Montagu didn’t invent the first sandwich, as people had been sticking meat and vegetables between various hunks of bread all throughout history. But the Earl did create the modern sandwich when he ordered a bit of beef between two toasted slices of bread because he wanted something quick and easy to eat while he was busy working as Secretary of State (and not, as is often reported, because he refused to stop gambling for something as unimportant as eating). More importantly, Montagu popularized the sandwich so powerfully in 1760s England that the item has borne his name to this day, and become a beloved food enjoyed by billions of people around the world. Not bad for a guy who just wanted a snack.


6 – Oh FAQ: How to Look Your Handsome Best While Wearing a Mask

Even during a pandemic, it’s important to look good — for yourself, that is. Go on, boost that confidence! Sure, the lower part of your face is covered by a mask, but that just means you should take extra care to make the top half as handsome as possible.

1. Skin. First and foremost, you need to make sure your skin is in tip-top shape. Scrub it thoroughly with a deep hydrating cleanser specifically designed for faces and their various oils and secretions, which will help prevent you from breaking out. Then, apply a renewing face moisturizer to keep your skin from drying out and swinging too hard the other direction. You might even consider finding a concealer that matches your skin tone — all it takes is a dab to cover any blemishes marring your allure.

2. Eyes. They say your eyes are the windows to the soul, which means they’re extra important when half your face is effectively boarded up. Get a good eye cream — it’ll help get rid of any puffiness or dark circles that might be plaguing the ocular region, and some even help soften the wrinkles that tend to pile up in the area. You can also do some judicious eyebrow tweezing, but if you really want to make those peepers pop, the best solution is to wear something whose color complements your irises.

3. Ears. Honestly, there’s only so much anyone can do about their ears other than getting a haircut that best flatters (or hides) them. But you can keep them as clean as possible: the outside, the inside, the lobes and most especially, behind them. Wash them thoroughly with soap, just like the rest of your body (a shower cloth is especially helpful to scour all that dead skin off). And then moisturize them, too. People might not notice attractive ears, but they always notice gross ones.

4. Hair. Still sporting your pandemic mega-mane? It’s time to tame that beast. Find a trusted barber or professional hairstylist in your area that has the proper pandemic safety measures in place and book your appointment. Do not let a family member or loved one cut your hair unless they are a pro. Tell your barber/stylist what you want, or what you usually get, and then allow them to use their expertise to maximize your do’s full potential for glory. You’ll look and feel like a new man.


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