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They say “when you look good, you feel good.” So what change can you make to improve how you feel?

According to scientists from Harvard and Boston University, applying bright color to the lips not only makes the wearer feel more confident, others will perceive you to be more reliable and competent than those going without.

Researchers also discovered that students who wear makeup actually score better on tests. Wearing cosmetics apparently leads to overall enhancement in self-esteem, attitude, and personality that carries over to the exam room.

Now while these studies were conducted on women, we’re confident in this age of experimentation and fluid gender roles, men can also benefit from a bold choice of color.* After all, guys weren’t shy about applying foundation a few hundred years ago. An 18th century gentleman usually owned a dressing-box that held his razor cases, scissors, combs, curling irons, oil and scent bottles, rouge and powder. Even  soldiers wore wigs throughout the 18th century.

A hundred or so years later, androgenous rock stars of the 1970s (and 80s and 90s…) weren’t shy about accentuating their attitude with makeup. The New York Dolls made red lipstick the cornerstone of their first album cover.

So if you want to give your day a boost, score better on multiple choice tests, and provoke discussion on that next zoom call, you may just find dabbing on some Tom Ford Scarlet Rouge provides the spark you’re looking for. **

*The market for men’s cosmetics is predicted to grow $49 billion this decade.

**Of course, if you prefer using your natural gifts to win friends and attract people, remember the words of Dale Carnegie: “A smile costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.”

 

Most residents of planet earth dealing with the threat of Covid-19 are either sheltering in place, masking up, or living with risk.

When you’re ready to graduate from simple cloth.

In Sonoma County, a place that one SuperOptimist calls home, it’s a quintuple threat: Corona, wildfire, toxic smoke, unusual heat, and power outages.  The fallout from the largest fire in local history renders the air so toxic with smoke that one must close all windows and stay inside sweating profusely, and it’s especially bad when the rolling blackouts render the air purifiers useless.
This situation can be looked at as a being dealt an incredibly bad hand — or as a time of magnificent opportunity and challenge. The challenge being to avoid distraction from fear and media noise and put all your focus on the creative work you’ve been meaning to tackle.
Resistance to this challenge comes in a thousand forms. Aside from pandemics, wildfires and blackouts, a few favorites are self-doubt, financial worry, health fears, life mistake rumination, vast depression, physical exhaustion, booze or substance reliance, dull-witted family members, and general public stupidity. Oh, and politics. These are ideas espoused by Steven Pressfield in his book “The War Of Art.”  In short, you’ll face heavy resistance the minute you sit down to begin.
Joyce Carol Oates said that the greatest enemy for writers is interruption. So maybe being trapped under your mask in your room is not a problem but an opportunity. Lock yourself inside and write the novel you have put off for the last five years. Close up the studio door and do the ten epic paintings. Stop paying attention to all the hot noise, inflamed tweets, dull nonsense and jabber. Ask yourself: did worrying about the outside world ever do you any good? Nope.
Maybe it’s time to live in that small world between your ears and see what kind of excitement you can stir around up there in the cerebral cortex. Maybe it’s not that small after all.

Not long ago in human history, it was easy to find peace and quiet just by wandering outside in the middle of the night and gazing up at the stars.  It was quiet. It was peaceful. And because there was no such thing as light pollution, you could see them clearly.

Now, whether it’s mass media, social media, the hum of traffic, the illumination of a digital billboard, or a postcard from a realtor promising you riches if you list your home with her today, modern homo sapiens live in a constant state of sensory overload. You name it, and it probably has the ability to distract you from your true state of consciousness.

But most of us now live in urban areas, not in the Atacama Desert in Chile, where astronomers do their best work unencumbered by digital billboards, .  For us to experience what they do, we must seek alternative ways to power down from the constant stimulation engendered by the material world.

So how do we really unplug from the artificial? Why not try taking away one of your senses for a few hours, and see how the experience modifies your way of thinking.*

A blindfold is a good start. Without the use of your eyes, what do you conjure? Researchers from the University of Rochester have found that even in absolute darkness, we still think we see. The question is, what images are visible to you when you’re in the dark? What do you smell? Is your hearing more acute? How about your sense of touch? Pick something up from your desk and roll it around in your hand. Interesting the difference between a roll of scotch tape and a pair of scissors, no?

When it comes to choice of blindfold, a piece of fabric will do, although we prefer a comfortable sleep mask to really block out the light. This way, you can continue to benefit from its quality construction at bedtime, or on long flights (in the distant future).

If you wanted to try this experiment without a mask, there are still a few places on Earth that you can go.  Places like the Dark Sky Reserve on Ireland’s Iveragh Peninsula and the NamibRand IDSR in Africa are among the best locations. And if you want your community to go darker, why not join the International Dark Sky Association, which keeps track of light pollution and monitors how much darkness you really get in places across the globe.**

*Future related activity: Sensory Overload Day (coming soon).

**April 19-26 was International Dark Sky Week, in case you want to keep the celebration going.

Everybody knows that Batman was a crimefighter who relied on a gaggle of gadgets to battle the ne’er do wells of Gotham City. They were all contained in a belt around his waist, and gave him unique powers that upped his mortal capabilities to that of a superhuman.

Yet the caped crusader didn’t always have such an elaborate storage unit for his prized possessions. At first, Batman wore an ordinary belt that sported a single utility – a simple bat rope, complete with grappling hook.

It was with  Detective Comics #29 that the Batman busted out an expanded tool-set, starting with small glass pellets that released a large cloud of gas when tossed at the bad guys. As his adventures continued, he added a giant balloon figure of himself that can be inflated remotely, as well as Shark Repellent Bat Spray.

Which brings us to the question: what should the practicing SuperOptimist equip themselves with in order to best turn every negative issue into a positive outcome? Aside from a handy guide to overcoming every obstacle you may face, the first order of business right now is a procuring a trusty mask and gloves.*

After that, it really becomes a matter of comfort and style (on a budget of course). Rather than burden yourself with clothing, we’re comfortable recommending a sarong instead. Assuming you’ll continue to work from home for the next several weeks, there’s no need for pockets to carry keys, wallet or money.

*When it comes to full protection from bacteria, you’ll want to augment your attire with an N95 respirator once they’re available again to the general public.  But for now, stay 20 feet way from other humans, which shouldn’t be a problem when wearing your bat mask and sarong combo.

Is rushing out to buy a closet full of face masks really the best way to confront your fear of catching the deadly COVID-19?

We think not.

For one thing, masks are really intended for those doing the spreading of disease, not those who are trying to avoid it. They offer little guarantee of preventing the illness due to the size of the microbes that can penetrate the mask (not to mention people’s habit of removing the masks to touch, scratch, and poke at their face).

But perhaps most important, these masks make you look like you’re already on your way to the hospital — or worse. Just by putting one on, you’re admitting you’re scared to death of getting sick. This fear and stress is a real turn-off to your immune system, and can cause you to be more susceptible to catching the virus, not less!

For a SuperOptimist, a face mask is not the weapon of choice for confronting the coronavirus. Facing a pandemic we have no control over, we recommend confronting it head on — by wearing the helmet of your choice.*

Whether it be Roman Gladiator, Viking, vintage leather football, World War II infantry, or standard construction model, sporting a good, solid helmet at all times makes it clear to the world that a deadly virus will not intimidate you, no siree. A helmet says you’re not to be messed with by airborne particles (or anything else, for that matter).

Not only that, the confidence you’ll exhibit wearing a helmet will have your colleagues at work taking a step back in order to let you pass. That’s a good thing, as the farther they are away from you, the less likely you’ll pick up their germs. Plus if you live in an urban environment, a helmet will protect you from falling debris from construction sites, of which there are many.

So rather than quarantine yourself in public behind a surgical mask, we advise you to wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with sick people, and grab yourself a helmet.  Now get out there and show those microbes of malfeasance who’s boss!

*While we subscribe to time-honored holistic methods of healthcare, we are not licensed physicians. Ask your doctor if SuperOptimism is right for you.

 

Who among us has a sunnier disposition than the indomitable Betty White? She turned 98 last week, which is no surprise, given that she’s still a force in the entertainment industry. *

So what’s the secret to an existence like Betty’s? Research shows that optimism contributes to 11 to 15 percent longer life span, and to greater odds of living to the age of 85 or beyond. But White has exceeded that by more than a decade. To what does she attribute that extra oomph?

“I know it sounds corny, but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside” she said in a recent interview.  That’s right, Betty knows it’s best to look at every situation, even the crappy ones, and at least get a laugh or two out of it. (Like her first marriage to a rural chicken farmer that lasted six months.) As Betty is proving, it’s not just optimism, it’s SuperOptimism that can propel you to the century mark in style.**

And while you’re at it, it never hurts to light a votive candle just in case.

*Guinness has awarded Betty the world record for longest TV career for an entertainer — 75 years (and counting).

**You’ll also find vodka, hot dogs and red licorice on Betty’s training table. 

Who was the true author of American independence?

Many say Mr. Paine was the guy.  A radical writer who emigrated from England to America in 1774, his pamphlet Common Sense was read by every colonist questioning their fealty to Great Britain. No less a figure than John Adams was quoted as saying: “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”

Yet despite playing the greatest role in moving the American people from a spirit of rebellion to one of revolution, he was later ostracized due to his  ridicule of institutionalized religion in his seminal work The Age of Reason.  In fact, only 6 people attended his funeral in 1806.  It’s tough being a truly independent thinker.

And so, in honor of July 4th, here is Thomas Paine, SuperOptimist Extraordinaire, ready to adorn your visage.*

*But please remove before lighting any sparklers, crackling balls, killer bees, or wizard’s hats.

Want to shake off the midweek routine and turn the day into something special?  We suggest altering your reality by donning a mask. While not everyone is cut out to be a shaman, spirit channel, or voyager to higher levels of reality, this ancient activity allows humans to “check in” with their identity, superego, and true self. Moreover, 1 person out of every 362 has the potential to enter a higher dimension of time and space. Maybe it’s you!*

*To find out, fashion a simple mask from paper or cardboard (or cut out the John Wayne “Duke” model shown above). Place mask over face, then go look at yourself
 in the mirror. Is it still you? If not, who? Ideally, you will be transported from your current state of reality and have a mystical experience. If not, be patient and try again. You are also invited to conceive a more personalized mask based on an animal motif or other natural spirit-guide. Enjoy!