3 Reasons to Practice Gratitude After Thanksgiving

Gobble gobble!  With Turkey Day almost upon us, we know that you probably plan to spend some of the holiday thinking about those things you're most grateful for.  While we agree that pumpkin pie and juicy turkey merit thanks, we also know that it's important to be grateful once the holiday has passed.  Read on to learn 3 ways gratitude can benefit you all year long:

  1. Gratitude helps you form relationships.

    According to a 2014 study published in Emotion, thanking new acquaintances makes them more likely to seek out a relationship with you.  A simple “thank you” may be enough to get the ball rolling with a new neighbor, colleague, or that attractive guy or gal at the gym.  There's some food for thought!

  2. Gratitude improves health.

 In a study of 1,000 people done by psychology professor Robert Emmons, his research team discovered that people who are consistently grateful experience stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and less discomfort from aches and pains.  But, gratitude doesn't just improve physical health, it also improves our emotional wellbeing.  In another study of 2,600 people, researchers concluded that those who were most thankful experienced less depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, and addictions.

  1. Gratitude helps people make better decisions.

 To test the impact of gratitude on decision making, doctors were given a list of symptoms in a hypothetical patient.  However, the list included a piece of misleading information—that the patient had previously been diagnosed with lupus.  Then, half of the doctors were given a token of appreciation to make them feel grateful; the other half was given nothing.  Those doctors who experienced gratitude expended more energy and considered a wider range of treatment options than the doctors who didn't.  Unfortunately, the latter group of physicians tended to stick to the incorrect diagnosis of lupus.

Want to Become More Resilient? Practice These 2 Habits

Resilience is the ability to bounce back quickly from setbacks.  People who possess this quality tend to be happier and healthier than their less resilient counterparts.  But what if you're not naturally resilient?  Can resilience be developed and if so, how?  The answer is yes—resilience is a skill and like any skill, it can be strengthened.  Read on to learn 2 essential habits for becoming more resilient:

  1. Choose an Optimistic Outlook.

    Research has determined that optimism is the most common characteristic among resilient people.  For instance, Dr. Dennis Charney examined 750 resilient Vietnam war veterans who had been tortured and kept in solitary confinement as prisoners of war.  Although these men were imprisoned for 6-8 years, none of them developed depression or PTSD.  After extensive interviews and testing, Charney discovered that optimism was the most important trait they shared.

    If you tend to view the glass as being half empty, try a new perspective.  Rather than imagining all of the grim ways things can go wrong, start telling yourself all of the reasons you expect situations to work out for you.  Optimism won't just help you become more resilient, it's also been shown to improve people's lives on virtually every measure—for example, optimists live longer, experience less depression, make more money, and have happier marriages than pessimists.

  1. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude.

    Studies have also shown that there's a correlation between resilience and gratitude.  “In Praise of Gratitude,” a Harvard Medical School publication, examined the research on gratitude and concluded that not only is gratitude “strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness,” but it also helps people deal with adversity.  To become more grateful, try keeping a gratitude journal and regularly recording all of those things in your life that you feel good about.

By practicing these 2 habits, you'll experience all of the benefits that resilience offers.  Even better?  You'll also be happier!

A New Mobile App Pays for Selfies

With a click of the camera on your phone, you may not get Hollywood to come calling, but you could make some extra money.  Pay Your Selfie, an app that launched late last year, pays you for selfies.

The process is a fairly straightforward one.  After downloading the app, you can view a list of selfie tasks.  These can range from things like taking a selfie while you're brushing your teeth with Crest or posing with your favorite energy bar.  Each selfie task pays between .20 and $1.  Once you've banked $20, Pay Your Selfie mails you a check.

Naturally, that leads to the question, “Why would a company pay for images of strangers?”  The answer is data.  By viewing the time of day, gender, and location in a person's home, marketers can obtain valuable information that they may not be able to get otherwise.

For instance, when P&G's toothpaste division ran the aforementioned Crest task, they learned that a lot of people brush their teeth before dinnertime between 4-6pm.  Marketers can use information like this to drive product sales.  For instance, Crest may choose to use this data by running advertisements with a marketing message about the importance of freshening your breath before an evening meal.

As you can see, Pay Your Selfie sounds intriguing, but is it worth it to give up some of your privacy to earn a little extra cash?  It depends who you ask.  Common Sense Media reports that Pay Your Selfie incentivizes sharing by rejecting selfies that don't share enough information.  The organization suggests that the app “ultimately sends unhelpful messages about what's valuable and acceptable for kids to share online.”

On the other hand, millennials who are already comfortable sharing through social media may find that the extra pocket money overrules any concerns about privacy.  In fact, according to Adweek, the app has attracted 100,000 users and has received over 500,000 selfies to date.

Say cheese!

Entity-Relationship Diagram (Example)

In the database modeling series so far we have covered a lot of theory concerning the entity-relationship model and creating diagrams.  Now we are going to give an example of an entity-relationship diagram, which will represent a simplified model of a university center.  We will briefly explain what this model contains, and then show an image of our diagram.  Everything on the image (symbols, notation) is standardized and only the things we have covered in the previous articles have been used.

Note: You can create your diagrams using a specialized tool like ERwin, or using a multitude of online tools, for example draw.io.  Since we are using standard notation, the environment shouldn't play any role in creating or displaying a model.  An advantage of using specialized software is the opportunity to automatically generate an SQL schema from the model, but we will come back to that later.

As we said, this is a significantly simplified model of a university center.  We will use this example throughout the series because it is easy to understand and diverse enough to illustrate all the concepts we are learning.  However, if this kind of a database was to be modeled in a real-world system, it would contain many more entities, more complicated structures, more complex relationships, etc.  Taking into consideration all of the details when modeling a relational database is no simple task.  For now, we will be using a basic model: a university center can have multiple universities, which are identified by ther names.  Some other information we are storing about a university is its address and telephone number.  Each university can have multiple faculties, and each faculty can have multiple departments.  A department contains classes, and each class is taught by a teacher.  In the model, you can see that Teacher is a specialization of the Person entity, and so is a Student (Generalization/Specialization is a concept we have learned about in ... ).  A person is identified by an ID, and other stored data is the person's name, address and date of birth.  This automatically means that students and teachers are also identified by ther ID, and all of the mentioned attributes are also attributes of their entity types, since they are "inherited" from the Person entity type.  A student can be enrolled in multiple classes, and take exams.  An important thing to notice in this model is that Exam is a weak entity type.  It is uniquely identified not only by the date, but also with the primary key of the Class entity type.  This means that the primary key of the weak entity type Exam is a combination of the exam's date and the class's ID.  This is logical and intuitive, since exams in different classes can take place the same day.

This was a brief explanation of the diagram, which should be enough to understand all of the concepts used in this model.  We recommend trying to create your own simple model and its diagram using a tool of your choice, because in the next couple of articles we are going to move on, and introduce the SQL language.  Following is an image of our university center database model:

3 Quick and Easy Stress Relievers You Can Do Anywhere

When we're under stress, our bodies feel the effects: breathing becomes more shallow, blood pressure rises, stress hormones are released, and oftentimes we develop a headache.  Yet what if there were a quick way to turn things around before our tension worsened?  Fortunately, there is.  Read on to learn 3 quick stress relievers that you can do anywhere (yes, even at work) to help you relax and keep the negative health effects of stress at bay:

  1. Engage in Deep Belly Breathing.

    Plan to spend about 5 minutes on this activity.  Begin by taking a deep breath for the count of 8, then hold the breath for 8 counts before exhaling for a count of 8.  Make sure to take deep belly breaths (the kind that raise your stomach) rather than the more shallow breathing that merely inflates your lungs.  Just a few minutes of deep breathing will help you feel calmer.

  2. Visualize your Desired Outcome.

    When we're stressed, we often tend to race from one task to the next without considering what are objectives are.  Those are the days where life feels like it's running us, rather than the other way around.  Before rushing off to the next thing on your to-do list, take a moment to visualize your objective.  For example, you might think to yourself, “I'm going to call client X now.  I intend to have a pleasant, quick conversation about the upcoming widgets' delivery.”  By contemplating what you want before undertaking a task, you experience greater mindfulness, making your desired outcome easily attainable while reducing anxiety.

  3. Stretch your Stress Away.

    Your body's “fight or flight” response gets activated whenever you're under stress.  This often creates pain in the body where tension is held, typically the shouldlers, lower back, neck, and head.  Physical therapist, Anne Whitis, suggests that by stretching, your body's defensive response is interrupted and you experience relief.  So, take a moment to roll your head a few times, rotate your shoulders, and stretch out your arms and legs.  If you have time, for bonus points you can hit the yoga mat.