Rap Star Is Helping Cancer Sufferers Get Chemo

When it comes to helping others, Hollywood stars and Grammy award-winners are often at an advantage. Many musicians use their fame to give back via charity benefit concerts. However, American rapper Pitbull is using a more hands-on approach, helping Puerto Rican cancer sufferers get chemo by flying them to the U.S.

The singer, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, was thanked by Puerto Rico congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez on Twitter.

“Thank you @pitbull for lending your private plane to move cancer patients from PR to USA so that they can get chemo,” she wrote.

The island was recently devastated by Hurricane Maria, leaving many without basic necessities. A number of ill and injured remain stranded. Pitbull’s occasional collaborator Jennifer Lopez has since donated $1 million to aid hurricane victims.

“Thank God we’re blessed to help. Just doing my part,” [said Pitbull.]

We may like to think so, but stars aren’t all about glamor. Often, we forget they’re human too.

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First Woman Passes Marine Corps Infantry Training

It’s been an empowering summer for women all over the world. A generous mom donating 5,000 pints of breastmilk and OB-Gyn delivering another woman’s baby before her own are proving than women are, in fact, super. At the cherry on top of a closing September is an anonymous lieutenant who became the first woman to pass the Marine Corps infantry training.

“Female troops are invaluable for searching houses and communicating with local women, gaining access to spaces and information that, because of local custom, male troops cannot get,”

The woman, set to lead a 40-strong platoon, passed a 13-week course along with 87 others. Of 1.4 million active troops in the United States, only 15% are female, making the feat doubly impressive.

The Corps says it educates would-be officers in “the leadership, infantry skills, and character required to serve as infantry platoon commanders”.

The everyday Wonder Woman will be stationed at Camp Pendleton, California for her first assignment. It looks like girl power is certainly on the rise!

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If You’re Not Natural In A Skill You Can Learn It

Learning a new skill is on everyone’s agenda. Whether it’s becoming fluent in a foreign language or simply having something as an asset, skills are undeniably valuable. While being able to teach yourself something instantly is the Facebook community’s most desired superpower, it isn’t all that easy. However, it’s definitely possible.

Firstly, find a skill you are passionate about. What is something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? Forget difficulty levels for now, and go beyond a “just for fun” mindset. Consider the skill as something that will be vital to your life (and anyway, it may be).

Things may be easier if you consider your own skills. Some activities require good memory retention or an ability to accurately follow instructions. If you can already check certain “pre-requisites” off a list, your chances at becoming an expert at your new skill are significantly higher.

Once you’ve picked your skill, set realistic goals. Figure out what your primary motivation is. Do you want to learn to draw because a university elective requires it? Or do you want to impress a colleague? Whatever the case, make these goals meaningful to you, however shallow they may seem. Your bar should be at a defined level of expertise. If you want to become knowledgeable in a language, are you seeking full comprehension or get-by conversation? Gauge your own strengths and weaknesses in regards to this particular skill.

If you’re training yourself to become proficient in something you’ve never done before, chances are, you want to learn fast. If you can’t, don’t let your pace discourage you. On the ground, sloths move 2 meters a minute. It’s a stretch, but they get the job done. Manage your expectations and also set a deadline. When will this skill be most useful to you? Figure things out far in advance. If your chosen skill is writing fiction and you’re keen on entering a short story contest, don’t hesitate. Dive in!

Break down the skill. If you’re into photography, you’re going to have to learn the ropes of using cameras and editing tools. Skills can be two or even three-fold — making a list of what you have to tackle will come in handy. It’s kind of like throwing together a deconstructed meal. Be visual about it. Build graphs and brain maps (they may sound pretty juvenile, but they are useful — I promise!).

Remember, practice makes perfect. Make it your mantra and remember: consistency is your friend. You can learn a perfect Pachelbel Canon on the piano but fail to retain certain strokes because you don’t practice enough. On that note, don’t overwork yourself. It’s the same principle as studying too hard for an exam. While it’s great for your short-term memory, the stress will tire your mind.

Every now and then, you’ll feel like giving up. “It’s too difficult,” is a phrase that nobody is alien to. Identify your pain points. What do you know you’ll struggle with? If it’s hand-eye coordination or remembering sequences, figure out the best way to overcome these struggles. Most importantly, remember your motivation.

Maybe there is a charm that comes with being a natural at something. However, it doesn’t mean making the effort is any less attractive!

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Tunisian Women Can Now Marry Non-Muslims

Across the globe, the LGBT community is finally receiving the rights it deserves. In Canada, gender discrimination is outlawed. Taiwan became the first Asian country to recognize same-sex marriage. However, homosexuality remains a crime in many countries. In fact, some traditional marriages aren’t even tolerated due to religious factors. But President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia is shifting views, now allowing Tunisian women to marry non-Muslims.

Until now, a non-Muslim man who wished to marry a Tunisian Muslim woman had to convert to Islam and submit a certificate of his conversion as proof.

Tunisia, which is 99% Muslim, is viewed as one of the most progressive Arab countries in terms of women’s rights.

Non-Muslim marriages were restricted in 1973. The president referred to it as an obstacle to one’s freedom of choice. Baffling was the fact that the law did not apply to men and included minority women who were Jewish or Christian.

Scrapping the decree may not do away with the cultural and traditional obstacles women face with their families in cases of inter-faith marriage, but it now offers Tunisian women greater freedom of choice from a legal perspective.

The battle for women’s rights may be a little worn out, but remains optimistic. A round of applause for Tunisia!

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Spread The Charitable Holiday Cheer On A Budget

Rolling into the “ber” months has many of us anticipating the upcoming holidays. While December usually means plastic pine trees from Home Depot and the return of Starbucks’ secret menu, it is also a time of giving. Though it’s the simplest and most practical way to help others in need, we aren’t all equipped to donate money. (That is, of course, unless you’re Bill Gates) However, there are a plethora of different ways to spread the charitable holiday cheer on a budget — and it may be more rewarding than you think.

Making a physical donation is easily the most viable option for holiday busybodies. If money isn’t exactly on your side, choose to donate in kind. Considering that the Christmas season rakes in a lot of presents, there are probably household items you can choose to live without. You can pledge clothing to shelters and toys to children’s groups. Books can go to your local library and appliances or electronics can end up in Goodwill. Of course, it is best to ensure that the items in your “give” box are in good condition.

If you can spare a day being proactive, you can opt to give your time. Charities don’t only seek checks and boxes — they need people. Volunteer at a home, whether for the elderly, ill, or four-legged. Chances are, there will be a lot for you to do. A rise in nonprofit groups may leave you with a copious amount of options. If you’re unsure of where to start, figure out where your interests lie and what skills you have to offer. This is where making a list and checking it twice may come in handy. (Scoot over, Santa)

If you are keen on raising funds, plan something income-generating like a garage sale or auction. If you’re without a charity of choice, research a group that could use the money. Remember that you will make the greatest impact by sticking to one organization. A few hundred dollars will go a long way for a single cause as opposed to dividing costs between various groups.

Some people love experiencing the immediate effects of giving back. If you’re handy in the kitchen, consider running a food drive. Get your neighborhood in on the action. Decide what meals are easiest to throw together, and are most cost-efficient. Not only will you satisfy a handful of hungry tummies — you’ll bring the community together.

Needing a change? Or are you simply not so squeamish? Make a medical donation. Blood drives are common during the holidays and a perfectly suitable option for those who have managed to stay in shape. (Perhaps skip the fruit cake?) If you’re not too hot for needles, donate your hair! You’ll be surprised how many people are affected by hair loss due to medical conditions. Moms can also donate breast milk to milk banks.

Giving back can be rewarding, especially if you have the money to do so. But you can choose to be charitable every single day. The time you take to change someone’s life will likely be more meaningful than just a dollar bill.

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Yale Students Build Affordable Housing for the Homeless

Design and advocacy go hand in hand. There are many ways that design proves itself to be beyond aesthetics; it targets sustainability, promotes awareness, juggles being eco-friendly and multi-functional, and generally allows for an explosion of ideas. And sometimes, it doesn’t just save the planet. It saves the people in it, too. Witnessing to that are some great projects such as these portable origami tents or this efficient flooring system, especially built for refugees and the homeless.

Architecture students from Yale have worked on the same advocacy as they designed and built an affordable shelter for homeless people. The affordable housing project is part of an ongoing university tradition.

The 1,000-square-foot house for the homeless is a handsome prefabricated structure clad in cedar and topped with a standing-seam metal gable roof. According to the project statement, students were “challenged to develop a cost-efficient, flexible design that tackles replicability in material, means, and method of construction.” The house comprises two separate dwellings: one is a studio, while the other is a two-bedroom apartment with built-in storage.

Every year, the university tasks first-year architecture students to design and build structures that will benefit the community. The tradition has apparently been going on since 1967. For the project’s 50th iteration in 2017, some students that participated in the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project chose to explore cost-efficient and flexible design in giving affordable housing to those who need it the most. They executed their plans and successfully constructed the building at New Haven’s Upper Hill neighborhood.

The project also marked the first partnership between the Yale School of Architecture and the non-profit Columbus House, an organization that has been providing solutions to homelessness in the New Haven area since 1982.

If all school projects had this much impact and advocated this strongly for the betterment of the community, I probably would’ve been more motivated to get that A.

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The Art of Happiness: 4 Things You Need to Know

Everyone has dreams and aspirations. Some people strive towards certain long-term goals, integrating their sense of self, their career, their relationships, and other aspects of their lives mindfully — and in such a way that they organize particular steps on how to find success and work on that plan. Others are more content to live each day to the fullest, making the most of the different aspects of their lives even without a precise set of objectives, and finding small successes in short-term goals that they achieve. Either way, everyone is trying to figure things out. In my understanding, what we’re really trying to figure out is the art of happiness.

I’m sure all of us have wondered, some more often than others, if we’re currently happy with our lives. And if we realize we’re happy, we then ask, how do we continue being so? And if we realize we’re not, how do we start working on it? I don’t have a degree in psychology or anything, and I’m sure I’m only one of too many people to reflect out loud about the art of happiness, but let me speak from experience and take a crack at it anyway.

1. Start here and now.

First and foremost, it’s important to stop delaying or postponing the search of what makes you happy. It helps to start simple. You don’t have to engage so deeply in a philosophical discourse and quote from famous ancient Greek scholars. You don’t have to get a life motto tattooed on your arm and consistently try to stick by it everyday. You don’t have to repaint your entire house so that it will look cheerful and inspire you to feel the same. If any of those helps, good. But what matters is this: start today.

The desire to have a profound definition of happiness will put so much pressure on you. Instead, focus on the many unexpected little ways to start reflecting on your life and the art of happiness. Simply reading a book, dressing up nicely for yourself, baking cookies or walking around the community might be able to help. The point is for you to put yourself in the mindset of actively wanting to be happy, instead of merely letting your ordinary day-to-day routine pass you by.

2. Work towards a healthy lifestyle.

Now that you’re in the mindset of being happy in small and simple ways, it’s also time to introduce small and simple changes to your lifestyle. After reflecting on the ordinary things you do everyday, it helps to identify how you want to make them better.

Think about the lifestyle trends that will most benefit you. For instance, you may find fulfillment by participating in sustainability efforts, whether through fashion or recycling. Another definitely beneficial step is to pursue the healthy lifestyle you’ve always known you needed, whether that means putting effort into a plant-based diet or a regular exercise routine or both. After all, a healthy body and a healthy mind should work together. Relax once in a while. Take breaks from social media. I’m sure being more mindful of your lifestyle practices will eventually have a payoff.

3. Make positive memories.

No man is an island. As creatures with a social nature, it’s a significant part of our lives to cultivate our interpersonal relationships. But it’s not enough just to ask your family or friends how they are every once in a while. To properly keep up with our intimate connections, we have to ensure we spend quality time together.

Do a fun activity with your peers, something that you miss because you haven’t done in so long. Go bowling. Redo your garden with your family. Have a picnic with your nieces and nephews. I’m sure there are a lot of positive memories from the previous years that you go back to whenever you’re feeling down, so what’s stopping you from creating more of those? Bond with your loved ones, help each other make fantastic memories, and I don’t know, take some selfies to immortalize those great moments? Again, it doesn’t matter how you do it; what matters is that you do.

4. Express gratitude and exercise kindness.

Here’s where I go scientific about the art of happiness. Some studies have tried to recognize certain predictors to our well-being, and they consistently include these: gratitude and kindness. Feeling grateful is an awesome mindset to maintain, though it doesn’t come naturally. We spend so much time wanting more that we forget to be thankful for what’s already there for us. We forget that sometimes, good enough is good enough.

It takes practice to inculcate gratitude in oneself, so make it part of your life. Write a thank you note each day — to a parent, a friend, a co-worker, or even a stranger. (Science says you don’t even have to send the letter of gratitude, so long as you write it down and get to think about it.) If you’re a spiritual person, say thanks through your prayers before going to sleep.

Perhaps most effectively, feel grateful and pay it forward. Interestingly enough, gratitude works best when the positive feelings associated with it translate into kindness. Don’t be afraid to help out. Not only will it make you feel good about yourself, performing acts of kindness can even give you actual health benefits. Heck, it might be the best lifestyle trend (please refer to Tip #2) that you can introduce to yourself.

These are only a few steps that you can initiate towards discovering the art of happiness. The specific answers, of course, will depend on your own history and your future goals. But then, if you’re only going to follow four words from my list of tips, choose these: start here and now. You might be surprised at the happiness — and more potential of it — that is already present around you, if you just look close enough.

* This post is inspired by BeepBeep Nation, an app that provides a platform for people to request for the help they need and others to offer their help. By facilitating face-to-face human interaction and creating a culture of kindness, it aims to make the world better. The EMINENT token, also known as the fuel for the BeepBeep Nation app, is now available for sale!

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The Social Nature of Humans and Making the Most of It

From philosophy to neurology, from psychology to religion, from anthropology to biology, it has been argued that humans are, in their very nature, social beings. And who are we to refute than, when our everyday lives are composed of enjoying our friends’ selfies, investing in romantic relationships, looking out for the next generation, and even engaging in social media for good causes? The social nature of humans is embedded in our personal lives, the institutions and structures that govern them, our cultures, our histories, our belief systems, the way we acquire and share knowledge, and well, basically everything.

Including the very makeup of our brains. This fascinating finding in neuroscience has recently come up: our brains are inherently social. Neuroscientists investigated the human brain in its non-active state i.e. when the person takes a break and lets his brain rest. When a person has down time, his brain turns on a system called the “default network.”

According to Matthew Lieberman, a famous social psychologist and neuroscientist: “The default network directs us to think about other people’s minds—their thoughts, feelings, and goals.” Basically, whenever we try to chill out, our brains’ automatic response is to think of other people. This mirrors the history of our evolution as humans, since we all know that species which work well together have definitely shown more chances of survival. Interestingly enough, tracing the origin of our social nature is simply evolutionary.

But then again, through thousands and thousands of years, this evolutionary fact must have manifested in other things. For instance, in the way we experience pain. Social loss and social rejection may seem different from, say, bruises or wounds, but our brains seem to process them the same way. And here’s a good explanation behind that:

A broken leg and a broken heart seem like very different forms of pain. But there are evolutionary reasons why our brains process social pain the way they process physical pain. Pain is a sign that something is wrong. Social pain signals that we are all alone—that we are vulnerable—and need to either form new connections or rekindle old ones to protect ourselves against the many threats that are out there.

No man is an island, indeed. While we definitely have basic needs like water, food, air, and shelter, social connections may as well be in the same category. That’s what we can say for the way humans scientifically evolved as a species. Unfortunately, the way human society has evolved seems to be counterintuitive. Over the years, our lifestyles have grown to be more individualistic, partly due to the economy, partly due to technology, though other factors come into play. The point is this: we steadfastly seem to grow apart from each other, against our evolution and our biology.

These days, we seem to keep defying our social nature as we let our social connections dissolve. We could spend a long amount of time working our bodies off, forgetting whom we work for. We pursue our ambitions, sometimes putting aside our loved ones, losing our grip on the fact that we won’t have the motivation and inspiration to succeed in the first place without them. We convince ourselves to be content seeing each other as pixels on computer or phone screens.

BeepBeep Nation has an answer to this dilemma. It ironically reverses the current trend in technology of creating distance between people, and instead uses the very potential of technology in developing our social nature. By providing a platform to connect people who need help and people who can offer it, the BeepBeep Nation app seeks to give its users the opportunity to be as social as they want and need to be.

The provision of help through the BeepBeep Nation app requires an actual physical meetup between a requestor and a helper, so in addition to encouraging a culture of kindness, it also intensely promotes face-to-face human interactions. Since its very mission of making the world a better place functions on the basis of our social nature as humans, BeepBeep Nation urges us to make the most of it in our everyday lives.

The EMINENT token which fuels the BeepBeep Nation app is now available for sale. I’m sure it will take time to reflect on the social nature of humans, so while doing some philosophical thinking for yourself, be sure to check that out as well. My final two cents: it might even be better to live out your ideas through BeepBeep Nation. Instead of merely musing about it, let’s participate in a world that is truly more social than ever.

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Are You an Idealist or Realist? You Need to Be Both to Have Compassion

Time and time again, the age-old debate resurfaces among a group of friends, possibly during a night out for cocktails when someone shares his current career or relationship problems. Is it better to be an idealist or realist? Surely at least one friend will emerge as the former and another will appear to be the latter, but sometimes, a few of you will be confused as to how you have decided to look at life so far. As a businesswoman, I have long ago come to terms with the fact that I need to be both, in order to deal with the life path I have chosen for myself.

Another path that necessitates the destruction of the either/or mentality when it comes to being an idealist or realist is learning compassion. To live a fruitful life of being kind to others and sharing your life with them, one must learn to be both. I know seems like a contradiction, but first, let’s inspect what those terms generally mean to people.

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the second definition of idealist applies to a person with a certain perspective or way of life. Defined as “one guided by ideals” or “one that places ideals before practical considerations,” people who live by idealism probably aim to see things in a perfect light. Often also dubbed as dreamers, visionaries and positive thinkers, idealists value noble principles and set high goals for themselves. This often means that they tend towards optimism.

However, there’s also a misconception that idealists are naive, innocent, and wishful thinkers. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. They only hope for a better future and live life according to that hope, which means that the big picture is very important to them. However, by focusing on the big picture, they sometimes get ahead of themselves and forget to consider other important factors in a given situation. Now let’s contrast these traits with how a realistic person is described.

While idealists focus on “what could be,” realists tend to look at “what actually is.” They like to adopt a practical or pragmatic view of circumstances, which leads them to make safe and rational choices. Sometimes, they tend towards cynicism or pessimism, but again, that’s not necessarily the case. They just like to process particular aspects of a certain situation and carefully scrutinize the truth.

Instead of looking at the big picture of a better future, realists tend to break it down into components and set smaller, more achievable goals. Sometimes, this tendency hinders them from taking risks and makes them settle with what they’re immediately given. By focusing on the present, they may sometimes miss out on big possibilities.

Now you may notice that both mindsets actually seem to need each other. The debate for whether you’re an idealist or realist seems futile when you see the holes in either perspective. For instance, an idealist may have high hopes towards a huge goal, but he is not equipped with enough focus to actually lay out steps on how to achieve that. Meanwhile, a realist may have the analytic skills, but he doesn’t have any purpose so those skills just end up as unused potential.

When we stop thinking of whether we’re an idealist or realist and instead shift the conversation to how we should be the best of both, we start seeing that there’s so much more we can do. An idealist perhaps wants to change the world and make a brighter future for everyone, a vision that is very helpful in our times, but nevertheless just a vision. A realist can introduce practical ways on how to make that vision happen and sustain it, turning an idealistic hope into purposeful action.

The BeepBeep Nation app encourages the idealist and the realist in everyone by enabling its users to regularly do kind acts and eventually invest in a broader culture of kindness. It provides a platform to connect people who need help and others who can provide that help, fostering new and healthy relationships or networks. As such, not only does it promote an attitude and culture of helping each other out, it also makes way for a whole new level of face-to-face human interaction.

Aiming to build trust among individuals, BeepBeep Nation convinces the idealist in you that a brighter future or a better world is possible, and it urges the realist in you to start acting on that picture.

You may explore the BeepBeep Nation website to find out more about how to harness your idealistic and realistic side in exercising compassion. To get started, don’t forget to check out its fuel, the EMINENT token, now available for sale. Now you no longer have to choose between being an idealist or realist; BeepBeep Nation offers some truly exciting ways to develop a healthy mindset that embraces both.

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Dare to Care: Why Helping Out is an Act of Bravery

In this world, to be kind is to be brave. It takes no effort to be comfortable in our own homes, binge-watching TV shows while munching on popcorn, cozy in our jammies and unbothered about the rest of humanity. But it takes a bit of courage to open our eyes and see those who need us, whether they are people on the other side of the world or people who belong to our own communities; it takes stepping up to be aware of our selfish conveniences and realize that there’s someone out there seeking help, with no one to help him or her. Just the initiative to feel for others is an act of bravery.

Now more than ever, the Internet has given us access to an infinite number of stories. Some say humans have never witnessed so much tragedy before; of course, these atrocities have always been happening and suffering has always been a constant in this world. Generations before us had to endure so much pain as well. But they never had the same access to the lives of others. Now, with just one click, you are able to read about everything horrible that is going on in the world. And as humans, we are not built to carry so much heartache.

Empathy is painful. Neurologically speaking, the pain you feel for yourself and the pain you feel for others seem to activate the same processes in the brain. This must be why it’s so easy to ignore the pain of others: it gives us the same pain, but it’s a pain we can avoid. After all, it’s not really our lives at stake. To be empathetic is to subject ourselves to hurting. This is precisely why it is an act of bravery to see the pain of others.

And what better way to express this courage than to actually do something about it? Not only are you being aware of another’s suffering, you are going out of your way to help alleviate it. To disregard one’s comfort in life is a very difficult task, but sometimes, helping others doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning yourself. Sometimes, there are ways to take the initiative without severely hurting yourself and challenging your pain tolerance. Sometimes, a simple act of bravery every now and then should suffice.

The BeepBeep Nation app has a mission of making the world a better place by encouraging people to be a little courageous every now and then. By providing a platform to connect people who need help and people who can offer help, it enables its users to do an act of bravery and improve their sense of compassion, with only a bit of effort.

BeepBeep Nation motivates its users to reach out to other individuals in various ways: by simply offering a ride to work or a place to stay, by simply answering questions in an accurate manner, by simply offering an extra hand during a medical emergency, and many others. Reaching out in little ways seems convenient, right? But like I said, a simple act of bravery at particular moments should be enough. Because a simple act of bravery through the BeepBeep Nation app can nurture a culture of compassion like never before. It can start a revolution of people being kind to each other and paying it forward (perhaps endlessly). So dare yourself to be brave and use that courage to care for others.

If you want to join BeepBeep Nation’s mission of motivating everyone to be kind, helpful, and brave, the app’s official website will help you every step of the way. Its fuel, the EMINENT token, is also now available for sale, so be sure to check that out to get started. Dare to care, and dare to see this for yourself: a world of kindness.

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