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Journalist, mom, Swiss-Persian New Yorker. Host of @NPR’s @TEDRadioHour + @ZigZagPod. Author of Bored+Brilliant. Media Entrepreneur-ish. ManoushZ.com/newsletter

And made a worksheet you can use too

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“Too bad that you’re retired,” the nurse told my psychiatrist mom as he gave her the Pfizer booster shot. “Students here are really struggling with their mental health. We could use more help.”

Conversations like this one, which my mom shared with me after driving home from the vaccination center on Princeton University’s campus, feel ubiquitous right now. …


And the three questions she asks herself

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It’s been well documented that the pandemic has warped our sense of time. I, for example, wrote in my previous post that I hadn’t been on a flight since February 2019, when really it was 2020 — an easily fixed, if slightly alarming mistake. But this inability to anchor ourselves in the here and now goes way beyond typos. It’s messing with our sense of self, too. As a former colleague of mine wrote beautifully in her newsletter:

“In the Before Times, life was tied together by a series of events that I’d hop between, always trending gently forward so…


Stressful times call for performing this Jedi mind trick on yourself

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I just got back from my first conference in Pandemic Times. In the end, the event was rejuvenating. But the build up to my departure was exhausting.

Once a regular (maybe too regular) traveler for work, I hadn’t been on a plane since February 2020. My family had become very accustomed (maybe too accustomed) to having me around. Lying on my bed as I packed, my 11 year-old daughter wept at the very thought of my absence. Why was she fine being away from me for sleepaway camp, I asked her, but not alright with me being away for a…


How to stop agonizing over your career choices

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As I get older, I get cheesier. Phrases I scoffed at as a Gen-X’er are now words I’ve come to live by.

Take the cliched term “core values.” Up until my forties, I equated those two words with hollow corporate mission statements recited by executives who, inevitably, put earnings above any list of morals allegedly guiding them. “Don’t be evil?” F-you.

But I think there’s something magical in listing your own personal “core values.” For me, it’s made professional strategizing a whole lot simpler. Rather than agonize over which projects to pursue and which to politely decline, I can refer…


How to apply the creative process to your professional life

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The next time you go to Target, Wal-Mart, or any other huge, air conditioned, and sterile store, turn the drudgery of picking up detergent into a contest. Challenge yourself to spot something weird amidst the aisles.

That’s the premise of Big Box Archeologist, an activity included in Rob Walker’s book The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday. Perhaps you’re thinking, the world is on fire and, allegedly, 95% of us are considering changing jobs. Why should we distract ourselves with strange games while we run errands? …


Even if “visioning” isn’t new to you, this method might be

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Generally, I turn up my nose when people turn nouns into verbs, like sunsetting, friending, or, for that matter, verbing. But I make an exception for visioning, as in, figuring out your future, because of Priya Parker.

Priya’s probably best known for her book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters. But, in addition to being a writer and researcher, Priya’s a conflict resolution facilitator. She coaches people to calmly lead their organization, political party, or country, through a tough transition. …


It’s the most important thing to do after a big life event — like, say, a global pandemic

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Exactly one year ago, my friend Greg Epstein told me about an intriguing mental strategy. Greg is the Humanist Chaplain at MIT and Harvard; he helps students figure out how they’ll define a meaningful life. Not a small task in the best of times, but especially hard to do when the world is suddenly put on hold by a pandemic. Last summer, Greg’s students weren’t the only ones struggling. After we went into lockdown, Greg started questioning his purpose too, wondering what big changes he should make to better live up to the ideals he spent his days talking about…


My goal was to keep up a weekly practice without churning out “content”

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Last November, I committed to publishing on Medium on a weekly basis for six months. Usually after completing a project, I charge onto the next thing, without pausing or looking back — a stupid, unproductive habit, because it means I rarely learn from my mistakes nor relish what I’ve accomplished. So, in an effort to break from my personal norm, I’ve evaluated what I learned from writing here every week. Well, nearly every week.

It turns out that my brain likes routine…but only up to a point.
From November up until today, I managed to keep up a weekly cadence…


How data distracts us from feeling joy

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How much? How many? These are the questions our gadgets answer for us all day long: We see how many steps we walked, minutes we spent tossing or turning overnight, hours we started at a screen. But technology can’t measure everything. Other, more nebulous concepts, like happiness, creativity, and pain, are harder to translate into data. And yet, we humans love to try.

The United Nations, for example, puts out the annual Happiness Report using a scale called the Cantril ladder, which asks citizens of each country to “think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being…


The rejuvenating power of feeling like a visitor

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Rejuvenation. That’s what a friend recently told me she needed. She’d written a book that was published in October, right before the election, but she’d felt too exhausted to publicize it. Not that it would have mattered anyway. The world was shouty and stressed.

Now, with vaccines and tulips all around us, she was still dragging herself from masked grocery store visits to the occasional school pickup (when school wasn’t closed because of Covid.) “What can rejuvenate me?” she asked. We listed the obvious options for middle-aged women in Brooklyn: yoga, wine, essential oils, hanging out in someone’s backyard for…

Manoush Zomorodi

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