Tag: TED Talks

And that video appeal by Greta Thunberg

You may have already seen this because it was very widely shown.

In the tail end of Deep Adaptation there is reference to Greta’s video because it was so powerful. Young Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old person who passionately wants this world to change and to change soon.

Here’s the piece that accompanied that video:

In this passionate call to action, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg explains why, in August 2018, she walked out of school and organized a strike to raise awareness of global warming, protesting outside the Swedish parliament and grabbing the world’s attention. “The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions,” Thunberg says. “All we have to do is to wake up and change.”

And here’s the video:

Well said, Greta, well said indeed.

Back to dogs tomorrow!

Inward thoughts.

Reflections on being gentle to yourself.

There are three reasons why I wrote this post. A post that runs across today and tomorrow.

Firstly, this post is inspired by love! The supreme love that I receive from my darling Jeannie and the love that I sense practically twenty-four hours a day that flows from the beautiful dogs that we have here. But also from the wonders of the rural world in which I live. From sights like the one below to being visited by wild deer every single morning when I go out to feed the horses.

The view from our bedroom window any cloudless morning. (This photo taken October 18th, 2015.)

The second reason for writing this post is a direct result of the love that flows in from so, so many of you precious readers. You are like one big online family that I live in. And, as one hopes to do within a family, from time to time you want to open up your inner feelings.

The third and final reason for this post is wanting to explore how one might find some peace from the chaos that seems to be spread so far and wide across this planet that we all call home.

It’s a very personal journey and I suggest that if this is not your ‘cup of tea’ that you call back another day!

OK! Now that’s off my chest, here we go!

Life’s beauty is inseparable from it’s fragility.

Pause awhile and just let those words float around your mind.

It is a quotation taken from a TED Talk that Jean and I watched a few days ago.

The speaker is Susan David and is described on that TED Talk page as follows:

Psychologist Susan David shares how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. A talk to share.
This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

If you want to watch the talk it is a little over 16 minutes long and may be viewed on the TED Talk site here.

Let me return to that quotation. For there is no question that life, at whatever scale, from the personal to the global, is fragile. Fragile with a capital “F“!

Whether it’s the madness of our politics and governments, or nature presenting us with extreme hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes and floods, or the frustrations of life itself, especially when one is the wrong side of 65, or numerous other aspects of being human it’s terribly easy to become frustrated, or worse, with oneself.  I speak from a very personal perspective as my short-term recall is now pathetic!

STOP! (You see, I wrote the word “pathetic” without thinking. Demonstrating how  quickly I come down on myself. Without automatically and unconsciously being gentle on myself and being very grateful that this old Brit, born in 1944, is still able to string a few words together!)

One of the great, possibly the greatest, things that we can learn from our dogs is to be gentle on ourselves. So very often our dogs take time out to relax, to be happy and to spread their joy around the home. Look at the following photograph!

Oliver demonstrating the art of being very gentle on himself and on Pedi. (Picture taken November, 2015.)

Being gentle on yourself!

But for us humans that seems a great deal more easier to say than to practice!

Yet the argument for being gentle to yourself is compelling. And the first step in that personal journey towards being kinder to yourself is to be better aware of oneself when it comes to our emotions.

I shall be continuing this inward journey tomorrow but today, holding on to that idea of how we manage our emotions, I want to close with another TED Talk. Just 18 minutes long but invaluable to watch.

The talk is given by Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD who is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University,and has positions in psychiatry and radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

As I was reading the draft of this post it did cross my mind that you do know I write from a purely personal perspective. I hold no qualifications whatsoever in the fields of psychiatry, psychology or any related disciplines. If you have found yourself to be affected to the point where you think you need proper counselling then, please, do seek help.

Part Two coming along tomorrow!

The day of the eclipse!

The day has arrived! Listen carefully!

Listen??  Yes, and thanks to The Smithsonian, if you are blind or visually impaired!

ooOOoo

What Does an Eclipse Sound Like?

A new app will allow blind and visually impaired users to experience the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21.

By Nathan Hurst
smithsonian.com  August 14, 2017

How would you describe an eclipse to a blind person? The moon moves in front of the sun, yes. But what does that look like? Someone trained in illustrative description of images might say, “The moon appears as a featureless black disk that nearly blocks out the sun. The sun’s light is still visible as a thin band around the moon’s black disk. To the upper right, at the moon’s leading edge, a small area of sunlight still shines brilliantly.”

That’s just an example of how such an event could be described. Bryan Gould, director of accessible learning and assessment technologies at the National Center for Accessible Media, a non-profit working to make media experiences accessible to people with disabilities, is hoping to offer oral descriptions of the eclipse in an app. Paired with other features, like a tactile diagram and audio from the changing natural environment as the eclipse darkens the sky, the app is designed to make the event more accessible to blind or visually impaired people who want to experience it.

Gould is working with Henry Winter, a solar astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to develop the app, called Eclipse Soundscapes. As the August 21 solar eclipse darkens a path across the United States, Eclipse Soundscapes will release descriptions, timed—based on the user’s location—to match the progress of the eclipse.

Winter conceived Eclipse Soundscapes after a conversation with a friend who’s been blind since birth. She asked him to explain what an eclipse means.

Such an event might provide an interesting representation of the eclipse, thought Winter, so he partnered with the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds program, which preserves and catalogs sounds from the parks. Helpers stationed at national parks along the route will record audio during the eclipse, to hear the change in the “bioacoustical chorus” of the animals.

This can’t happen in real time, of course, so the National Center for Accessible Media is providing illustrative descriptions, based on a previous eclipse. The sounds of crickets, frogs and birds becoming active on the day of the eclipse will be added to the app later.

Last, with the help of an audio engineer named Miles Gordon, Winter is trying something completely new. Gordon developed a “rumble map” of the eclipse: The app places images of different stages of an eclipse on your smartphone’s screen, and as you trace your finger across the eclipse’s image, the vibration increases or decreases based on the brightness of the image.

“It does give you the impression that you’re actually feeling the sun, as you move your finger around,” says Winter.

“I realized I didn’t have the vocabulary to answer that question for her,” says Winter. “Every way I thought about it was visual in nature, and I didn’t know how to explain it to somebody … light, dark, bright, dim, flash. All these different words have no meaning to somebody that’s never seen.”

But the project goes well beyond audio descriptions. It includes two further elements: audio of the changing soundscape caused by the eclipse, and a tactile exploration of the eclipse’s image (which means that people who are blind or visually impaired can “feel” the eclipse using vibrations on their smartphones).

Many creatures become active as the sun sets, and many of them use darkness as an indicator of time of day. During an eclipse, crickets will chirp and frogs will chorus, thinking night has fallen. These habits were noted as far back as 1932, in a Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences article titled “Observations on the Behavior of Animals During the Total Solar Eclipse of August 31, 1932.”

Scientists around the world will be using the eclipse as an opportunity to study solar astronomy in a way they usually can’t, measuring the ultraviolet light emitted from the sun’s corona, which Earth-based observers can’t normally see, as it is overpowered by the normal sunlight. It’s also rare for an eclipse to cover this much land — it traverses from Oregon to South Carolina — and Winter points out that it is a particularly good opportunity for education and outreach.

Though education is important, for Wanda Diaz Merced, a visiting scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who is completely blind, there’s a lot more to the eclipse than that. Merced, who has consulted on the Eclipse Soundscapes project, studies human-computer interaction and astrophysics, and to do her research, she needs assistance translating data into a format she can interact with. She’s been building tools to help with that translation, and sees elements of Winter’s project that could contribute.

“It’s still not a prototype that I may use, for example, to study elements of the photosphere. It is not on that stage,” says Merced. “But hopefully one day we will be able to not only hear, but to touch.”

The eclipse will occur on August 21, starting around 10 a.m. in Oregon and finishing by 3 p.m .in South Carolina. The Eclipse Soundscapes app is available for iOS now, and the team is working on an Android app as well.

ooOOoo

I can’t imagine there’s anyone still pondering on whether or not to view the eclipse.

But that still doesn’t stop me offering you this recently presented TED Talk.

On August 21, 2017, the moon’s shadow will race from Oregon to South Carolina in what some consider to be the most awe-inspiring spectacle in all of nature: a total solar eclipse. Umbraphile David Baron chases these rare events across the globe, and in this ode to the bliss of seeing the solar corona, he explains why you owe it to yourself to witness one, too.

This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxMileHigh, an independent event. TED editors featured it among our selections on the home page.

About the speaker: David Baron David Baron writes about science in books, magazines, newspapers and for public radio. He formerly served as science correspondent for NPR and science editor for PRI’s The World.

Enjoy it, good people. And protect your eyes!!!

Or better still allow NASA Television to show the eclipse to you.

NASA Television will air a four-hour show – Eclipse Across America – which will include live video of the event, along with coverage of activities in parks, libraries, stadiums, festivals and museums across the nation, and on social media. NASA’s show begins at 15:00 UTC (11 a.m. EDT; translate to your time zone), or later (we’ve seen this time waffle around a bit). Check the website for changes or further details.

Positive reinforcement.

And I’m speaking of dog training.

p1160472Over the week-end Jean and I were down in Medford at this event promoting my book Learning from Dogs.

Inevitably, we saw many dogs and their owners come in to the store for we were positioned just inside the main door. Likewise, inevitably we saw a whole range of ‘relationships’ between those dogs and their human companions.

It reminded me of a recent TED Talk that was given by Ian Dunbar about dog training. For those who have not previously come across Mr. Dunbar, his bio reads as follows:

Veterinarian, dog trainer and animal behaviorist Ian Dunbar has written numerous books, including How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks and The Good Little Dog Book. He has also hosted several award-winning videotapes on puppy and dog training.

So here’s that brilliant TED Talk.

Uploaded on Aug 21, 2008

http://www.ted.com Speaking at the 2007 EG conference, trainer Ian Dunbar asks us to see the world through the eyes of our beloved dogs. By knowing our pets’ perspective, we can build their love and trust. It’s a message that resonates well beyond the animal world.

Veterinarian, dog trainer and animal behaviorist Ian Dunbar understands our pets’ point of view. By training dog owners in proper conduct (as much as he trains the dogs themselves), he hopes to encourage better relationships with dogs — not to mention their friends and children, too.

Why you should listen

We may call dogs man’s best friend, but according to Dr. Ian Dunbar, humans often fail to reciprocate. Dunbar’s decades of research on hierarchical social behavior and aggression in domestic animals truly give him a dog’s-eye view of human beings’ incomprehensible and spontaneous — if involuntary — cruelties.
Dunbar says we might break our unseemly, unflattering habits and usher in an “era of dog-friendly dog training” by coming to understand why dogs do what they do — Is Fido misbehaving, or just being a dog? — and the repercussions of our actions toward them. (We might foster better relationships with our fellow humans, too.) His Sirius Dog Training company focuses on training puppies to be playful, yet well-behaved. His second organization, Animalin, promotes games for dogs and puppies at an international level.

What others say

“There is no single person on the face of the planet to whom dog trainers and owners (not to mention dogs) owe more.” — Jean Donaldson, author, The Culture Clash

ooOOoo

I will close with another photograph from the PetSmart event.

p1160469(Sorry about the cardboard boxes under the table!)

Rationally speaking ….

… it’s not that easy to be rational!

It’s alright! I haven’t missed taking my pills! 😉

My headline and sub-heading was me trying to catch your eye and persuade you stop what you are doing for eleven minutes and watch this video that was filmed earlier this year at the TEDxPSU conference.  It’s all about being rational.

The presenter is Julia Galef described by WikiPedia (in part) as:

20150126_Julia_Galef_2

Julia Galef (born 1983) is president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality. She is a writer and public speaker on the topics of rationality, science, technology and design. She serves on the board of directors of the New York City Skeptics and hosts their official podcast, Rationally Speaking, which she has done since its inception in 2010, sharing the show with co-host and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci until 2015. She also blogs with her brother Jesse on the website Measure of Doubt.

Biography

Galef received a B.A. in statistics from Columbia University. In 2010 she joined the board of directors of the New York City Skeptics. She co-founded and became president of the nonprofit Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR) in 2012. The organization also gives workshops to train people to internalize and use strategies based on the principles of rationality on a more regular basis to improve their reasoning and decision making skills and achieve goals. She was elected a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in 2015.

Julia’s website further explains:

The problem I’m most interested in is how to change one’s mind. Starting from the premise that every human being is at least a little wrong about many things that matter — in our careers, or about health, science, politics, our self-image, and more — we should, in theory, be updating our views frequently as we learn more about the world. In practice, however, our opinions ossify.

So here’s that talk from Julia – I bet all of you will find it interesting! Rationally speaking, that is!

Published on Jul 11, 2016

Perspective is everything, especially when it comes to examining your beliefs. Are you a soldier, prone to defending your viewpoint at all costs — or a scout, spurred by curiosity? Julia Galef examines the motivations behind these two mindsets and how they shape the way we interpret information, interweaved with a compelling history lesson from 19th-century France. When your steadfast opinions are tested, Galef asks: “What do you most yearn for? Do you yearn to defend your own beliefs or do you yearn to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?”

If only our leaders and power-brokers across the world yearned for truth!

Feelings – of both humans and animals.

Five years ago Jean and I were married!

So if we are discussing feelings, as we are today, there is no better place to start than by me expressing my feelings of joy and love that I feel for, and still receive from, my gorgeous Jean. I know five years at our stage of life is far fewer than for many married couples but, nevertheless, they have been beautiful years and I wish for many more.

wedding
Diane Jackson, Bridesmaid, Jean and me, my mother and Dan Gomez, Best Man. November 20th, 2010

I had been pondering these last few days as to what I would write for today. For I wanted to celebrate our anniversary yet wanted a broader theme; so to speak.

There couldn’t have been a better answer to that ponder than a recent video that was presented by TED Talks. It was a talk by Carl Safina about what is going on inside the brains of animals: What are animals thinking and feeling? Or in the fuller words of that TED Talk page:

What’s going on inside the brains of animals? Can we know what, or if, they’re thinking and feeling? Carl Safina thinks we can. Using discoveries and anecdotes that span ecology, biology and behavioral science, he weaves together stories of whales, wolves, elephants and albatrosses to argue that just as we think, feel, use tools and express emotions, so too do the other creatures – and minds – that share the Earth with us.

Safina is very qualified to speak on the subject as his bio on that TED Talk page reveals. However, I couldn’t find a YouTube link for that TED Talk but could find two videos that are very good alternatives.

The first is a short video of Safina promoting his book Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel.

The second is a much longer video that is Safina’s presentation at the recent Ransom A. Myers Lecture. If you can spare the time, then do watch it. You will not be disappointed.

Published on Oct 9, 2015
8th Annual Ransom A. Myers Lecture in Science and Society. Thursday, October 1st 2015.

Title: Beyond Words: What animals think and feel
Presented by: Dr. Carl Safina, Marine Ecologist/Author, The Safina Centre

Finally, and please forgive my indulgences, I want to close today’s post with some photographs that for me have “feelings” stamped all over them!

Jeannie, Hazel and cat feeling trust for each other.
Jeannie, Hazel and cat feeling trust for each other.

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One of our local deer trusting Jeannie.
One of our local wild deer trusting Jeannie.

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Oliver and Pedy adoring each other.
Oliver and Pedy adoring each other.

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Last but not least! Photograph taken two days ago by yours truly reflecting my feelings of wonder at being alive in this world!
Last but not least! A photograph taken two days ago by yours truly reflecting my feelings of wonder at being alive in this world!

Onwards and upwards!

Spaceship Earth

Home to everything, including humans and dogs!

This is a TED video presented by Will Marshall. A quick web search reveals that Will Marshall is:

Co-founder & CEO of Planet Labs.

Planet Labs is helping share near-real-time images of our planet, from a constellation of earth-observing satellites.

In his Twitter bio, William Marshall calls himself a “quantum physicist cum space scientist in search of world peace and harmony.” And when you hear about his job, it falls into place: he and his cofounders at Planet Labs want to show the earth what it looks like, almost real time, via a new network of compact, capable satellites. They hope that up-to-date images will inform future humanitarian and commercial projects all over our planet; it will enable people to make decisions that enable us to take care of our dearest spaceship, spaceship earth.

Before co-founding Planet Labs, Marshall was a scientist at NASA/USRA, where he helped to formulate the Small Spacecraft Office at NASA Ames Research Center. He worked on lunar orbiter mission LADEE, lunar impactor mission LCROSS and the groundbreaking PhoneSat project, building satellites out of consumer parts.

It was only a couple of mouse clicks to find the website for Planet Labs.

All of which is my way of introducing the TED video but not before thanking next door neighbour Larry Little who emailed me the link to the video.

Published on Nov 18, 2014
Satellite imaging has revolutionized our knowledge of the Earth, with detailed images of nearly every street corner readily available online. But Planet Labs’ Will Marshall says we can do better and go faster — by getting smaller. He introduces his tiny satellites — no bigger than 10 by 10 by 30 centimeters — that, when launched in a cluster, provide high-res images of the entire planet, updated daily.

You all have a lovely weekend.

The male of the species, Part One

Dogs, women and men.

I did warn you, my dear reader, at the end of yesterday’s post that my introspective mood continues!

Over today and tomorrow, I want to explore why we humans can be so incredibly clever, especially in a group sense, yet the males of our species find it so difficult to express themselves, and what that means for the future of humanity (at the risk of sounding a tad pompous).

More or less at random, a dip into yesterday’s selection of blogs brought to light some deeply disturbing items.

Professor William Even, Professor of Economics at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University was reported in The Conversation saying that:

As of 2014, there were approximately 39 million people aged 16-24 in the US, and 5.4 million of them were neither employed nor in school. That’s almost 14% of the age cohort, or more than two-and-a-half times the national rate of unemployment.

In that same bulletin from The Conversation, John Shepherd, a Professorial Research Fellow in Earth System Science at the University of Southampton in England, in writing about the challenges of directly removing CO2 from the atmosphere, stated (my emphasis):

A new paper in Nature Communications shows just how big the required rates of removal actually are. Even under the IPCC’s most optimistic scenario of future CO2 emission levels (RCP2.6), in order to keep temperature rises below 2℃ we would have to remove from the atmosphere at least a few billion tons of carbon per year and maybe ten billion or more – depending on how well conventional mitigation goes.

We currently emit around eight billion tonnes of carbon per year, so the scale of the enterprise is massive: it’s comparable to the present global scale of mining and burning fossil fuels.

Then Raúl Ilargi Meijer authored an item on The Automatic Earth blog, a blog that usually writes almost exclusively about money matters. His article was called: Power and Compassion. He opens his essay:

Time to tackle a topic that’s very hard to get right, and that will get me quite a few pairs of rolling eyes. I want to argue that societies need a social fabric, a social contract, and that without those they must and will fail, descend into chaos.

Then after referring to the European Union, he goes on to write (my emphasis):

Though it may look out of far left field for those of us -and there are many- who think in economic and political terms only, we cannot do without a conscious definition of a social contract. We need to address the role of compassion, morals, even love, in our societies. If Jesus meant anything, it was that.

There have been times through history when this subject would have been much easier to breach, but we today almost seem to think they are irrelevant, that we can do without them. We can’t. But in the US, people get killed at traffic stops every day, and in Europe, they die of sheer negligence. Developments like these will lead to ‘centers that cannot hold’.

In that part of the media whirlwind that we at the Automatic Earth expose ourselves to, virtually all discussions about our modern world, and what goes wrong with it, which is obviously a whole lot, are conducted in rational terms, in financial and political terminology.

But that’s exactly what we should not be doing. Because it’s never going to get us anywhere. In the end, let alone in the beginning too, we are not rational creatures. And if and when we resort to only rational terms to define ourselves, as well as our world and the societies we create in that world, we can only fail.

For a society to succeed, before and beyond any economic and political features are defined, it must be based solidly on moral values, a moral compass, compassion, humanity and simple decency among its members. And those should never be defined by economists or lawyers or politicians, but by the people themselves. A social contract needs to be set up by everyone involved, and with everyone’s consent. Or it won’t last.

How and why that most basic principle got lost should tell us a lot about where we are today, and about how we got here. Morals seem to have become optional. The 40-hour death struggle of Cecil the lion exemplifies that pretty well. And no, his is not some rare case. The lack of morals involved in killing Cecil is our new normal.

Let me now set the stage for what I want to write about tomorrow. And I’m going to do that by referring to a TED Talk that was recorded by historian and author Yuval Noah Harari. Here’s how that TED Talk was introduced:

Seventy thousand years ago, our human ancestors were insignificant animals, just minding their own business in a corner of Africa with all the other animals. But now, few would disagree that humans dominate planet Earth; we’ve spread to every continent, and our actions determine the fate of other animals (and possibly Earth itself). How did we get from there to here? Historian Yuval Noah Harari suggests a surprising reason for the rise of humanity.

Yuval Harari’s talk is based firmly on his thesis presented in his book: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. (There’s a review of his book in The Guardian newspaper.) Namely:

The book surveys the history of humankind from the evolution of archaic human species in the Stone Age up to the twenty-first century. Its main argument is that Homo sapiens dominates the world because it is the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers. The book further argues that Homo sapiens can cooperate flexibly in large numbers, because it has a unique ability to believe in things existing purely in its own imagination, such as gods, nations, money and human rights. The author claims that all large scale human cooperation systems – including religions, political structures, trade networks and legal institutions – are ultimately based on fiction.

Other salient arguments of the book are that money is a system of mutual trust; that capitalism is a religion rather than only an economic theory; that empire has been the most successful political system of the last 2000 years; that the treatment of domesticated animals is among the worst crimes in history; that people today are not significantly happier than in past eras; and that humans are currently in the process of upgrading themselves into gods.

It is my contention that humankind’s evolution, our ability to “cooperate flexibly in large numbers”, is rooted in the gender differences between man and woman. A contention that I expand upon tomorrow.

We all have a story to tell.

Featuring David Isay and StoryCorps.

Jean and I were late back home on Wednesday evening and after our evening meal only had half-an-hour or so before it was time for bed.

We browsed some of the talks on TED (we don’t have TV) and noticed one that sparked our interest: Everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear.  This is how the talk was introduced on TED.

Dave Isay opened the first StoryCorps booth in New York’s Grand Central Terminal in 2003 with the intention of creating a quiet place where a person could honor someone who mattered to them by listening to their story. Since then, StoryCorps has evolved into the single largest collection of human voices ever recorded. His TED Prize wish: to grow this digital archive of the collective wisdom of humanity. Hear his vision to take StoryCorps global — and how you can be a part of it by interviewing someone with the StoryCorps app.

It was a remarkable and fascinating talk and, thanks to YouTube, I’m able to share it with you.

I have no doubt that after watching Dave Isay’s talk you will want to go to the StoryCorps website.

Will return to this another day.

A very appropriate postscript.

The strong case for maintaining the very best of emotional hygiene.

As is the way of things, last night, after I had read out aloud to Jean yesterday’s conclusion to my personal story entitled The Pen (the first part was on Monday), Jean and I were looking around for something to watch. We dipped into TED Talks and found a recent addition from a Dr. Guy Winch, a licensed psychologist, keynote speaker and author.  Here is that talk that so perfectly rounds off the previous two days.

Published on Feb 16, 2015

We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don’t have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.

Dr. Guy Winch
Dr. Guy Winch

If you want to learn more about Guy Winch then his website is here, and there is an item about Dr. Winch on the Psychology Today website.