5 Surprising Facts About Independence Day

Happy 4th of July from Scisbo!  Sit back, relax, and enjoy some Independence Day trivia.  Today we're sharing 5 unusual facts about this fun holiday:

  1. The Dead Presidents.  Ironically, three presidents—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe—have died on this holiday.  Considering that we're currently only on our 45th president, it seems like a disproportionate number of presidential deaths have occurred on Independence Day!

  2. Yankee Doodle Huh?  While the song, Yankee Doodle, calls to mind hot dogs, apple pies, and all things American, it actually didn't start out as a patriotic tune.  Instead, it was “sung originally by British officers making fun of backwoods Americans,” reports Cleveland.com.

  3. Made in the USA. Not.  Much like Yankee Doodle, fireworks seem quintessentially American.  Yet that doesn't seem to be the case if we go by import/export data.  In 2012, for example, the US imported $227.3 million worth of fireworks from China.  By contrast, the US only exported $11.7 million worth of fireworks that year, with Israel being the largest purchaser.

  4. Murky Origins.  July 4th is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year.  You would think that as popular as hot dogs have become, we'd have some idea of where they originated.  Not so.  According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, hot dogs may have come “from a widespread common European sausage brought here by butchers of several nationalities.”  Interestingly enough, that's all we know.  Hmmmm....

  5. Our Pursuits.  While everyone knows the Declaration of Independence guarantees our right to the “pursuit of happiness,” few people realize how close those words came to being something different.  Initially, the Declaration of Independence guaranteed our right to the “pursuit of property.”  A wise Thomas Jefferson changed the wording to the “pursuit of happiness,” which is how it (happily) remained.

5 Smart Strategies to Prevent Burnout

With the ability to respond to emails and texts around the clock, it's now easier than ever for our work lives to consume our personal lives.  When this occurs, we often pay a price—burnout.  To avoid experiencing this common condition, we've identified some strategies to prevent burnout:

  1. Exercise.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), exercise is a fantastic way to prevent burnout.  After studying individuals who engaged in 4 weeks of regular exercise, the NIH reported, “Cardiovascular exercise was found to increase well-being and decrease psychological distress, perceived stress, and emotional exhaustion.  Resistance training was noticeably effective in increasing well-being and personal accomplishment and to reduce perceived stress.”

  2. Say “No” More Often.  Burnout and perfectionism are closely linked.  For that reason, it's important for perfectionists to realize that they don't need to do everything.  Become more comfortable saying “no” to time-consuming, undesirable requests.

  3. Meditate.  The higher up the corporate ladder you are, the more likely it is you have a stressful job that comes with a high risk of burnout.  To avoid that scenario, take a page from these CEOs' playbooks and practice meditating.  Doing so will help you feel more balanced and centered.

  4. Schedule Time for Yourself.  The only person who can create time in your busy schedule for relaxation is YOU.  Rather than writing personal time off as unimportant, give yourself a full day each week to relax and recharge.  Taking this time for yourself will give your mood a boost, making it easier for you to avoid burnout.

  5. Ask for Help.  Many people fear asking for help.  They worry that if they do so, they risk looking weak or incompetent.  However, consider this a case where your worst fears are likely to be unfounded.  Typically when someone approaches us for help, we're happy to offer it and don't think poorly of the requester.  Assume that other people are viewing you with a similarly generous spirit.

4 Ways to Experience More Joy

If you feel you could benefit from experiencing more joy in your life (and really, who among us couldn't??), we have some tips to help you feel happy, happy, happy (!!!) more often:

  1. Choose Gratitude.  By and large, people who maintain a gratitude practice report feeling happier than those who don't.  To make gratitude part of your regular outlook, we suggest you create a gratitude journal and write down 5 items you're grateful for in your journal every day.  Putting your thoughts on paper will prevent you from rushing through the exercise, allowing you to receive greater benefit.

  2. Imagine Happiness.  Research shows that by repeatedly imagining an activity, we actually change the neural structure of our brain.  To take advantage of this, spend time imagining yourself happy.  For instance, you might envision your day ahead as one where you have a pleasant drive to work, enjoyable interactions with your coworkers, a fun evening with friends after leaving the office, etc.  By imagining happy experiences, you're creating changes in your brain that will predispose you to create more joy in your daily activities, reports Experience Life magazine.

  3. Laugh.  It's not for nothing that laughter has been called the best medicine.  Research shows that laughter reduces stress, boosts immunity, and combats depression.  To experience more joy in your life, seek out opportunities to laugh, whether that means going to a comedy club, watching a sitcom you enjoy, or spending time with your funniest friend.

  4. Think Positively.  Sometimes it seems like our thoughts choose us, however, that isn't the case.  We choose what we think about, and research shows that optimists (those who choose positive thoughts) lead happier, healthier, longer lives than pessimists.  To lead a more joyful life, aim to see the good in others, look for things to appreciate, and imagine your life growing better and better.  In short, make an effort to see the glass as half-full—the more you practice viewing things from this perspective, the more joy you'll experience.

3 Ways to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence or EQ can be defined as the ability to identify and manage our emotions and the emotions of others.  And although EQ may sound like a skillset that has more to do with our personal relationships than our careers, research indicates that isn't the case.  By and large, studies have shown that emotional intelligence is a better indicator of success than intelligence and relevant experience.

Having said that, you may be wondering how you can develop this skill if you don't feel that it comes naturally to you.  Fortunately, there are ways to increase your emotional intelligence:

  1. Pay Attention to Your Body's Signals.  For people who have a hard time discerning their feelings, body cues can be especially useful.  Notice when your muscles feel tight, you have “butterflies” in your stomach, or your palms begin to sweat.  These are all important indicators of how you're feeling emotionally.

  2. Ask Yourself “How?” And “Why?”  Check in with yourself throughout the day by periodically asking yourself how you feel and why you feel that way.  This is a good opportunity to notice your feelings rather than trying to suppress or deny them.

  3. Take Responsibility for How You Feel.  This can be a challenge even for people who typically have a high EQ.  Rather than attributing your feelings to others, own them and acknowledge that you are responsible for how you feel.  Although many people find this concept difficult to accept, it's easier if you think about how differently people respond to being cut off in traffic.  Whereas some people might be inclined to shrug and think, “That person must really be in a hurry,” other people might begin yelling and honking their horns repeatedly.  As you can see, a bad driver isn't responsible for a person's feeling of rage—if the driver was, then we'd all experience road rage when we were driving rather than just some of us.  By owning your feelings, your ability to manage them will improve, ultimately increasing your EQ.

5 Interesting Facts About Father's Day

First off, Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there from those of us here at Scisbo.  We hope that rather than mowing the lawn or manning the grill, you're relaxing in front of the TV with an ice-cold drink in hand.  While you're doing so, read on to learn some interesting trivia we've compiled about Father's Day:

  1. A Dad's Love Knows No Bounds...Interestingly enough, Father's Day is the busiest day of the year for collect calls.  Here's hoping that this year, your loved ones foot the phone bill!

  2. The Origins of Father's Day...In 1910, Sonora Dodd was sitting in church when she began thinking about how grateful she was for her father, a man who raised her and her siblings after their mother passed away in childbirth.  These thoughts inspired the idea for Father's Day which she proposed be celebrated in June, her father's birth month.  In 1924, it became a national event under President Coolidge who said it would “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children” and “impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligation.”

  3. According to Hallmark...Father's Day is the 4th largest card-giving holiday with 74 million cards being given annually.  Fifty percent of those cards are purchased for dads and twenty percent of cards are bought for husbands.

  4. The Water Fountain Was Inspired by a Dad.  In 1896, a man drank from a contaminated public water supply and as a result, contracted typhoid fever and died.  Later, his son, Halsey Taylor, went on to invent the drinking fountain as a tribute to his father.

  5. Men with Daughters Enjoy the Biggest Gift Hauls.  According to one study, daughters spend approximately 50% more than sons when buying gifts for their dads.  Things that make you go hmmmm.....