December 27, 2010

December 24, 2010

Chtistmas Tire Tree

I made this photo of Nadia in Raleigh. We drove by a pile of old tires made into a Christmas Tree with nice lights and topped with Santa. I could not pass this photo opportunity :))

Those monks were on to something...

 A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind

We developed a smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people are thinking about what is NOT happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically makes them unhappy.

Science 12 November 2010:
Vol. 330 no. 6006 p. 932
DOI: 10.1126/science.1192439

A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind
+ Author Affiliations
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
We developed a smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically makes them unhappy.
Unlike other animals, human beings spend a lot of time thinking about what is not going on around them, contemplating events that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or will never happen at all. Indeed, “stimulus-independent thought” or “mind wandering” appears to be the brain’s default mode of operation (13). Although this ability is a remarkable evolutionary achievement that allows people to learn, reason, and plan, it may have an emotional cost. Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment, and practitioners are trained to resist mind wandering and “to be here now.” These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Are they right?
Laboratory experiments have revealed a great deal about the cognitive and neural bases of mind wandering (37), but little about its emotional consequences in everyday life. The most reliable method for investigating real-world emotion is experience sampling, which involves contacting people as they engage in their everyday activities and asking them to report their thoughts, feelings, and actions at that moment. Unfortunately, collecting real-time reports from large numbers of people as they go about their daily lives is so cumbersome and expensive that experience sampling has rarely been used to investigate the relationship between mind wandering and happiness and has always been limited to very small samples (8, 9).
We solved this problem by developing a Web application for the iPhone (Apple Incorporated, Cupertino, California), which we used to create an unusually large database of real-time reports of thoughts, feelings, and actions of a broad range of people as they went about their daily activities. The application contacts participants through their iPhones at random moments during their waking hours, presents them with questions, and records their answers to a database at The database currently contains nearly a quarter of a million samples from about 5000 people from 83 different countries who range in age from 18 to 88 and who collectively represent every one of 86 major occupational categories. 
To find out how often people’s minds wander, what topics they wander to, and how those wanderings affect their happiness, we analyzed samples from 2250 adults (58.8% male, 73.9% residing in the United States, mean age of 34 years) who were randomly assigned to answer a happiness question (“How are you feeling right now?”) answered on a continuous sliding scale from very bad (0) to very good (100), an activity question (“What are you doing right now?”) answered by endorsing one or more of 22 activities adapted from the day reconstruction method, and a mind-wandering question (“Are you thinking about something other than what you’re currently doing?”) answered with one of four options: no; yes, something pleasant; yes, something neutral; or yes, something unpleasant. Our analysis revealed three facts.
First, people’s minds wandered frequently, regardless of what they were doing. Mind wandering occurred in 46.9% of the samples and in at least 30% of the samples taken during every activity except making love. The frequency of mind wandering in our real-world sample was considerably higher than is typically seen in laboratory experiments. Surprisingly, the nature of people’s activities had only a modest impact on whether their minds wandered and had almost no impact on the pleasantness of the topics to which their minds wandered.
Second, multilevel regression revealed that people were less happy when their minds were wandering than when they were not [slope (b) = –8.79, P < 0.001], and this was true during all activities, including the least enjoyable. Although people’s minds were more likely to wander to pleasant topics (42.5% of samples) than to unpleasant topics (26.5% of samples) or neutral topics (31% of samples), people were no happier when thinking about pleasant topics than about their current activity (b = –0.52, not significant) and were considerably unhappier when thinking about neutral topics (b = –7.2, P < 0.001) or unpleasant topics (b = –23.9, P < 0.001) than about their current activity. Although negative moods are known to cause mind wandering, time-lag analyses strongly suggested that mind wandering in our sample was generally the cause, and not merely the consequence, of unhappiness.
Fig. 1
Mean happiness reported during each activity (top) and while mind wandering to unpleasant topics, neutral topics, pleasant topics or not mind wandering (bottom). Dashed line indicates mean of happiness across all samples. Bubble area indicates the frequency of occurrence. The largest bubble (“not mind wandering”) corresponds to 53.1% of the samples, and the smallest bubble (“praying/worshipping/meditating”) corresponds to 0.1% of the samples.
Third, what people were thinking was a better predictor of their happiness than was what they were doing. The nature of people’s activities explained 4.6% of the within-person variance in happiness and 3.2% of the between-person variance in happiness, but mind wandering explained 10.8% of within-person variance in happiness and 17.7% of between-person variance in happiness. The variance explained by mind wandering was largely independent of the variance explained by the nature of activities, suggesting that the two were independent influences on happiness.
In conclusion, a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.

Supporting Online Material

November 21, 2010

Principles For Communicating With People

  1. All People are motivated. We cannot motivate them. We can only guide them by their motivations.
  2. People do things for their own reasons; not for yours or mine. Show people what they want and they will move heaven and earth to get it.
  3. People change because of pain. When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, people will change.
  4. The key to all effective communication is identification. When something becomes personal, it becomes interesting.
  5. The best way to get people to pay attention to you is to pay attention to them. Little things mean a lot.
  6. Pride is a powerful motivator. Everybody is proud of something.
  7. You cannot change people; only their behaviors. Attack the behavior; not the person.
  8. The worker's perception becomes the supervisor's reality. What they see is what you get.
  9. You consistently get the behaviors you consistently expect and reinforce. Reinforcement can be positive or negative.
  10. We all judge ourselves by our motives; but we judge others by their actions. Any of us can do anything we can convince ourselves we are justified in doing.

© Nido Qubein

November 14, 2010

October 18, 2010

rocks in the garden

We started a Japanese garden on the weekend - bought plants and soil, leveled the big hole left from the removed tree. We are so thankful to Mitch Stover for throwing some rocks into our garden! It would not be a Japanese garden without rocks. Mitch brought some for us from the mountains. Not only rocks - he also brought apples - very tasty, very sweet. Thank you, Mitch! Mitch works in Robinhood Road Starbucks (3331 Robinhood Rd. 336-768-1221) - come and see see his photography and art works on display.

September 13, 2010

Сарод, Ситар, Гитар

Indian Classical Music Concert. Instruments - Sarod, Sitar, Guitar. Gaurang Doshi and his students. September 11, 2010. Awesome!

Peace. Indian Classical Music Concert in Winston-Salem

I am glad my pictures are now on website! I think they convey the spirit of yesterdays Indian Music concert in WFU! Gaugang Doshi and his students performed beautifully. It was a very special pleasure and honor to listen to Dr. Laxmikant Doshi from India playing ancient ragas. I truly enjoyed the event!

August 30, 2010

paiting the clouds

Two days - and we finished painting the sky and the clouds. Nadia is a very talented painter. She loves the skies, the clouds, and knows how to apply the color. She can work for hours without getting tired - that is the sign of doing what you love. We had a very interesting sponge - the natural one, actually it is a plants from the bottom of the ocean.

August 29, 2010

moving the studio

Spend all day painting walls in the Golden Key Piano and Voice Studio ( We're moving to a new location - 2513 Neudorf Dr. in Clemmons. Here is the picture of the front of the studio. I like it. Nice parking, waiting area, great next door neighbors - The Villager Voice! Tomorrow we plan to finish the walls. Painting is fun!

August 28, 2010

paiting like TS

We are getting ready for a painting project - turning the walls in the new piano studio ( into the blue skies with white clouds :))  Speaking of colorful life - here is a cool fence that my friend pictured last week in Europe!


the image is clickable

August 24, 2010

wireless in Shanevo

My friend, the artist Anatoly Kudravcev, in his boat, in the village of Shanevo in Russia (today! :) This is a very remote Russian village. People can get there only by the boat, but Anatoly can use his notebook with wireless card there. He send me this picture today via email!

To me this is mind blowing... when I left Russia, we didn't have computers there at all.

August 15, 2010

Happy Birthday at Chinqua-Penn


We went to Chinqua Penn plantation for my birthday. I loved it there! A piece of Europe on American land. Thank you, Beatice Schoellkopf Penn ( i have visited her grave on the property). Her maiden name sounds very Russian, but the tour guide could not make any 'Russian' connections.

August 13, 2010

dirty dozen

12 Most Contaminated (buy organic!)

Peaches - Apples - Sweet Bell Peppers - Celery - Nectarines - Strawberries - Cherries - Pears - Grapes (Imported) - Spinach - Lettuce - Potatoes

12 Least Contaminated (don't have to buy organic)

Onions - Avocado - Sweet Corn (Frozen) - Pineapples - Mango - Asparagus - Sweet Peas (Frozen) - Kiwi Fruit - Bananas - Cabbage - Broccoli - Papaya


August 12, 2010


These days we go to our favorite walkway - Greenway. It goes along Muddy Creek. The creek was full today because it rained last night. The walkway runs for 3 miles - nice exercise. Bikes and skates allowed! Beautiful sunset after 7 pm guaranteed :)

July 31, 2010


Went to Breakfast of Course this morning, and found the place being suitable for vegetarians. It is on Trade St in Downtown - go away from the bus station, pass Yoga Gallery, and former Mary's Of Course is on the right. They have expanded on all these horned devilish creatures on their walls. It reminded me why I went to their old place only once before and never came back.

The bare chested waiter David was wearing Mardi Gras beads.

July 29, 2010

Hawaiian waves

Planning our trip to Hawaii I run across these amazing pictures of Hawaiian waves by a photographer by the name Little. His first name is Clark. I don't know how he is still alive doing such pictures!

Here is the link to the pictures of him in waves so you can see HOW he does it. Very brave guy!

July 25, 2010


Went to Hanging Rock Park this morning to swim in the lake. The temperature of the water was perfect! The lake is open at ten in the morning. If you can get into the water right after 10 am - you'll be having all the lake for yourself! By 11 am the 'main forces' start filling up the parking lot, dragging all these coolers on wheels and chairs to the beach. This is the best time to leave :)

July 22, 2010

July 17, 2010

we live in a jungle!

Our vegetable container garden - look more like a jungle! :)))

July 10, 2010

Valaam in video

Valaam - the island and the monastery where I lived for 6 years:

Read more: click here

January 31, 2010

snow and ice

this is my car, copyright is also mine :)
how do you like my car plate?

Like any other Russian glamor lady in Moscow these days I went to ACE hardware to get a snow shovel! They only had plastic ones :( $15 each. "Do you have the metal ones?" - I asked. "The metal ones were sold out on Friday..." Logically! I should have listen to forecast and think in advance.

I came back and cleaned my car off snow with my red mitten. Than I cleaned the walkway to the door with a small metal shovel that I bought in the summer to plant my strawberries :))) But I can't use it to clean the driveway. How am I going to go to work tomorrow?

Neighbor folks have parked smart - front forward, with towels and cardboard on the front glass.

someone draw a cat by my door and curled the cat's wisks :)

neighbor's cars

snow in 2008

January 16, 2010

nadia and vegetables

Nadia is a very good cook! This is her my favorite vegetable - leak (i think).

January 11, 2010

nadia and cheese

nadia and a piece of chese copyright is
mine, of yesterday