Self Improvement


Many studies were done to correlate conformity and social pressure with preference falsification and it turns out that:

People adapt to conform to the beliefs of other people because they lack the reliable information needed, and in the absence of trustworthy information, the only sensible reaction is to conform.

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Self Improvement

  • It brings upon discomfort to the falsifier -- which makes them feel like they are living a lie temporarily, sometimes chronically.
  • It also has a stabilizing and constraining effect where it serves to filter out inclinations that people consider illicit and would rather not have.
Preference Falsification

It is a universally pervasive phenomenon where we misrepresent publicly what we really think or believe or want privately due to fearing the possible consequences or to a benefit we may receive.

It can happen in settings like in the government, the academe, and even just between a group of friends.

Bungee Jumping: The Legend

An extreme form of sport that is relatively safe, bungee jumping has a brief, surprising history.

It has its roots in Pentecost Island in the Southern Pacific region. The old legend had a female victim of marital abuse jumping off a large tree with her feet tied to the vines, escaping the fall. The abusive husband who jumped after her died after hitting the ground.

Captain Rahul Nigam introduced serious bungee jumping in Rishikesh, India, where he set up ‘Jumpin Heights’ a site where participants jumped 83 meters into the holy river Ganga.

He enlisted top experts from New Zealand to ensure safety.

The legend of Pentecost gave birth to the ritual of naghol, or land diving, where men jump off a wooden tower to pray for a bountiful yam harvest, and to prove their manhood.

The world got to know about this in a BBC Documentary in 1950.

New Zealander AJ Hackett, the first mainstream bungee jumper, was jumping off bridges and even the Eiffel Tower in 1986, later opening the first commercial bungee jumping site in New Zealand, and is responsible for making this extreme sport popular across the world.

Bungee Jumping was a stunt carried by David Kirke, the first bungee jumper, who jumped off the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol along with two other friends who were all members of the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club.

Even after being arrested and fined, they repeated the stunt on various other bridges, cranes and hot air balloons, making bungee jumping famous.

Classical music offers something on a large scale

Very few art forms offer something as big as an orchestra—one hundred people playing music that can last over half an hour.

To start with, try to identify some of the different things you hear.

  • Pick one of the nine Beethoven symphonies, then add to the Western canon: Brahms Second, Tchaikovsky's Sixth, Mahler's Fifth, Bruckner's Seventh, and Shostakovich's Fifth.
  • Or start from the 21st century and work backwards.
  • For conventional music, listen to the piano works of Cecile Chaminade or Lili Boulanger's Nocturne for Violin and Piano.
  • You can find different musical timbres and textures in Lou Harrison's Suite for Violin and American Gamelan.
  • Bach's unaccompanied suites for solo cello can be returned to throughout your life.

Classical vocal music is either loved or really hated.

  • If you've heard Beethoven's Ninth or Orff's "Carmina Burana" and liked them, look at Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde", which is a symphony of six songs based on Chinese poetry.
  • Two gems are Richard Strauss's "Four Last Songs," written after WWII, and Samuel Barber's "Knoxville, Summer of 1915".
  • Two classical choral works without an orchestra are David Lang's "Little Match Girl Passion" or "Partita for 8 Voices" by Caroline Shaw.

Following a gifted artist might be a better way to get into the field than singling out performances of masterpieces.

Particular artists whose concerts are almost always memorable are pianists Daniil Trifonov and Yuja Wang, violinists Hilary Hahn, Leila Josefowicz, Jennifer Koh, and the singer Julia Bullock.

The term "classical music" is a catchall for everything from solo piano works to Gregorian chant to contemporary instrumental sextets.

To help orientate yourself, start with some of the traditional smaller ensembles where three or four musicians play together.

  • Canonical works include Beethoven's set of 16 and Shostakovich's of 15, or listen to living composers such as Elena Ruehr and Jefferson Friedman.
  • Trios include Mozart's Divertimento in E-flat, or piano trios (written for a piano and two stringed instruments), such as Schubert's.

Classical music makes a particular kind of musical statement longer than other forms and in a complex manner. It cannot be understood quickly or conveyed in any other form.

You have to think about what it is or isn't, listen to the distinct sounds it offers, recognize earlier themes, weigh the pauses and the crescendos, think about what you do get and making it your own.

The piano is a classical instrument, and the keyboard will give you a variety from all over the world, from Bach's Goldberg Variations to Beethoven's 32 sonatas to Frederic Rzewski's contemporary variations on "The People United Will Never be Defeated." Listen to Chopin's piano works (mazurkas and waltzes and nocturnes) and his set of 24 preludes.

Solo works on other instruments include Paganini's 24 caprices and Ysaye's six sonatas for violin, Philip Glass's "Songs and Poems", or Tania Leon's "Four Pieces" for cello.

The Music Of Our Youth

Music is linked to our memory and emotion and certain life experiences and autobiographical memories are better recalled than others.

We are nostalgic and extremely emotional about the music we heard in our formative years when we were young. We believe that music from the past was better, but each generation is deeply connected to the music heard in the specific decade where they were teens coming of age.

The Reminiscence Bump is a phenomenon where our memories of age 10 to 30 years are sharper and more vivid, as if these are encoded in the brain in HD and are also retrieved easily.

This can be linked to certain biological and hormonal changes in the body during this period.

An extensive study shows that music from people's adolescence and teenage years is more familiar to people who are now in their 40s and 50s, with the nostalgic feeling peaking around the songs they listened to at age 14.

However, some songs, mainly the iconic and everlasting retro classics (from the 1970s to the early 1980s) are found to be preferred even by millennials.

This carol reveals customs. Under the Tudor monarchs, wassailing and mumming were still practised, with carollers and players performing from door to door.

It was bad luck not to reward their efforts with food and drink, including the 'figgy pudding,' or Christmas pudding.

A favourite Welsh folk song during the 16th century we know today as Deck the Halls only acquired Christmassy words in the 19th century.

Deck the Halls had words that would not have suited the prim Victorians. In the 1860s, Thomas Oliphant changed the lines to suit the dancing melody and lively 'fa la la' chorus for the celebration of Christmas preparations.

  • This charming carol is based on a 17th century English folk tune, but the symbolism is much older.
  • The festivals of Saturnalia and Yule put great emphasis on evergreens. The Romans would exchange boughs of holly and ivy during the festival, and the Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxon pagans would use evergreens to decorate their homes as symbols of eternal life.
  • Christian carol writers changed the meaning of red holly berry to Jesus's blood and the white holly flower as his shroud.
The Twelve Days of Christmas

The first verse of the Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, evolved as a festive memory game. The list of objects or animals builds with each verse and forfeits are imposed for forgetting anyone.

According to one interpretation, the carol was created in the 16th century. The list of bizarre gifts given by the 'true love' became a secret code for Catholics. The 'true love' became God himself, the 'partridge' Jesus Christ. The 'two turtle doves' are the old and new testaments, 'three French hens' the Trinity, 'four calling birds' are the four Gospels, the 'twelve drummers drumming' the twelve points of the apostles' creed.

Silent Night was a favourite throughout the19th century.

One charming tale tells of mice chewing through pieces of St Nikola's organ, leaving the church without music on Christmas Eve 1818. Schoolmaster Frans Xaver Gruber and priest Joseph Mohr stepped in to save the day by composing a simple carol that could be sung with just guitar accompaniment.

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