Volahanta Raharimanana

Volahanta Raharimanana

We all want a life of fulfillment, a life in which we can unleash our potential. Yet, these times of strain and uncertainty do not help. It turns out that people are getting more and more impatient and lost. Their confidence and self-esteem dwindle; their insights and beliefs change. Instead of living, people survive, and are happy with that.

According to Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the fields of personality development, social psychology, and developmental psychology, it is all about mindset. She wrote “Mindset: the new psychology of success”, a book that dives into the universe of psychology, mindset, and human motivation. In her book, Dweck asserts that our mindset shapes our personality, but at the same time, our mindset sets limits to our growth potential. Our mindset may greatly shape our beliefs, decisions, and the way we cope with any situation.

Dweck’s book exposes findings and tries to inform readers about the two existing types of mindsets: the “fixed mindset” and the “growth mindset”.

The fixed mindset:

Carol Dweck compares a fixed mindset to the belief that people’s qualities are carved in stone and that their intelligence or personality cannot be developed. Personality is nothing more than a deep-seated trait. People with a fixed mindset stand and live for survival and do not even know that this may prevent them from growing and reaching their full potential. They assume that people are either smart or dumb, ethical or unethical, good or bad, rich or poor, etc. That way, they end up admitting that they are who they are, and that nothing can change it. People with a fixed mindset tend to avoid risks and challenges. Instead of striving and learning from mistakes and failures, they will always find excuses and want to prove themselves correct over and over. They exist but do not live.

The growth mindset:

In the other hand, possessing a growth mindset is far beyond living for a survival purpose. People with this other kind of mindset attempt to transcend a state of existence out of yearning. Growth mindset is based on the belief that people’s basic qualities are things that they can cultivate through efforts. Carol Dweck maintains in her book that although people may differ in every way – in their initial talents and abilities, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through learning and experience. People with a growth or thriving mindset are more likely to reach their full potential and succeed in life because they live to thrive, not to survive. They look at things differently and believe that they are capable of reaching a higher level of intelligence, building stronger personality traits, and achieving fulfillment.

Growth mindset is the key to a thriving life. So, let go of your old habits and way of thinking that hold you back from achieving what you think is a successful life.

Sources: “Mindset: the new psychology of success”, Carol Susan Dweck, Ph.D. , 2006 / Medium

Madagascar definitely has a unique culture. The island is known for its blended culture due to the various traditions practiced by its different ethnic groups. This uniqueness always makes tourists and even locals amazed by the things that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world.

One of the common customs and traditions perpetrated by all Malagasy people, regardless of their ethnicity, is the umbilical cord burial. It consists in entombing the placenta and umbilical cord of a new-born baby. In the Malagasy culture, the birth of a baby is an important event that deserves ceremonies. However, prior to any celebration, the placenta and umbilical cord of the baby must be beforehand taken home for burial in the grounds of the ancestral home. This ritual acts as a pre-established cultural construct of the human body and personhood of the baby. For Malagasy people, the placenta represents the ancestors, and the ancestors’ beliefs still govern today’s Malagasy culture.

Here is how the tradition goes.

When a baby is born, the father is conferred the umbilical cord and attached placenta. Following the tradition, the father takes them with him to bury under a stone – known as vato razana, which loosely translated means placenta-ancestor stone – at the entrance of the ancestral home or in a clean place around the family house. The stone is placed over the umbilical cord and placenta already wrapped in scraps of cloth that have been used during the birth once the hole has been refilled. When the father proceeds with the burial ritual, he must remain focused and avoid any distraction. In Malagasy beliefs, when the father gets distracted or only turns his head throughout the ritual, it may have a consequence on the baby once adult. Similarly, a new-born baby whose umbilical cord is lost or not buried correctly, he or she may end up being a forgetful grown-up.

How Malagasy society views the custom.

All customs and traditions are important to Malagasy people including the burial practice. Not only is it recognized to protect the child’s future, but it also represents the continuation of family lineage. That is why ancestors established this ritual and insisted that it must be made in the right way. Umbilical cords are buried because burial is believed to anchor the baby to the Earth. Just as the umbilical cord anchors the child and the baby in the womb, entombing it in the soil creates lifelong connection between the baby and the place.

This traditional ritual has not faded away. Until today, the umbilical cord burial is still practiced each time a new-born baby is added to the family.

Sources: “Place, Person and Ancestry among the Temanambondro of Southeast Madagascar”, Philip Thomas, 1996 / The Culture Trip

The day reminds us how Madagascar hardly fought to gain its independence over France. For more than 60 years, Madagascar and its people had been under French control until it officially changed on June 26th, 1960.

It was worth the fight.

If we look back, Madagascar had already been through a lot and had much to fight for. History tells that, in the 19th century, when the island was united and ruled as the kingdom of Madagascar, France invaded it by removing the monarchy and establishing colonial rule.Since 1897, Madagascar was entirely dependent on France, and that lasted for 63 years. It was in 1946 that everything started to change. A few political parties came out to advocate for Madagascar’s independence after General Charles de Gaulles announced all colonies were to become French overseas territories. One of these parties was the “Mouvement Démocratique de la Rénovation Malgache”, commonly known as MDRM. Another important political party also founded at that timewas the PADESM or “Parti des Déshérités de Madagascar”. PADESM – a pro-France Malagasy political party in the east of Madagascar created with support from the colonial authorities to compete with MDRM.

It was in 1947 that Malagasy uprising began, involving Malagasy nationalists to rebel against French colonial rule. The uprising lasted from March 1947 to February 1949. Nationalist insurgence forced France to establish reformed institutions in 1956 and paved the way for Madagascar to move towards independence without more violent demonstrations. Finally, The Malagasy Republic was proclaimed on October 14th, 1958, and Madagascar was declared as an autonomous state within the French community. In 1959, a constitution was adopted, and the Big Island gained – on June 26th, 1960 – its full independence as the Republic of Madagascar.

The birth of the Independence Day

In Madagascar, the celebration of the Independence Day takes place annually on June 26th. It is a public holiday that is celebrated with big feast. It is typically observed with festivals and other commemorative events. Every year, in the evening of June 25th – Malagasy fellowsare used to spending time together with family or taking their kids outside for a “Harendrina” walk and see the fireworks in town – if fireworks there are. It is also common for Malagasy people to attend shows– the podium – a few days before the real celebration of June 26th. On the D-day, Malagasy compatriots gather along the stadium of Mahamasina – recently baptized the “Barea stadium” – to watch and enjoy the military parade.

This year, Madagascar will celebrate its Independence Day this Saturday and unlike what happened in 2020 – when Malagasy people were not able to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee due to the sanitary crisis – this year’s celebration is going to take place while respecting the sanitary measures and barriers. About 20,000 people are expected to attend the military parade, which will run from the afternoon to the evening, at the Barea Stadium on this Saturday, 26.

Sources: Wild Madagascar/ Office Holidays/ Garda World

Wednesday, 23 June 2021 05:00

What makes a genius?

Everyone has a different understanding of the word “genius”. Many theories state that everyone has a genius within them and can be a genius. On the other hand, some argue that no one is born a genius and that everyone has the potential to excel, but only those who have practiced enough and have dedicated themselves fully in what they undertake will become so.

People considered to be genius seem to be endowed with a more particular intelligence or specific skills than others. Therefore, they are essentially believed to have a special brain enabling them to think differently, and more ingeniously. This may be partly due to they know how to use their brain to a fuller extend.

Who does not know Albert Einstein? This notable and talented man behind the theory of relativity is widely acknowledged being one of the greatest physicists of all time and regarded as a genius. Many researchers assumed that it took a very special brain to come up with the theory of relativity and Einstein’s other great and stunning accomplishments. In fact, Einstein was quite an ordinary person, but his curiosity and nonconformist personality led him to make incredible breakthroughs and to change the world.

This shows that being a genius may be all about personality and hardwork. Defining the notion of genius is not so simple as we may think. According to Immanuel Kant – a famous philosopher – genius is “a talent for producing that for which no definite rule can be given” and “is not a mere aptitude for what can be learned by a rule”. This means, if you think you are a genius because you have the ability to memorize lots of information or do something with great rapidity or suchlike, you may be wrong. From Kant’s perspective, using the concept of genius in fine art, we would say that it could also apply to other practices including science, sports, business, and religion. Similarly, it could be interpreted as coming from the use of the faculties of imagination and understanding that everyone possesses. So maybe anyone can be a genius, and everyone has the capacity to do ground-breaking work.

The characteristics of a genius

Anyone can achieve greatness, yet to be a genius, a tremendous amount of work is needed. So, if you want to become one, you need to consider the key traits of a genius and embrace them. According to Craig Wright, a Yale professor and author of the book “The Hidden Habits of Genius”, these are some of the hidden habits of genius.

1. A genius has a curious mind.

2. Genius people are passion-driven.

3. Being a genius requires to be abstract thinkers.

4. As a genius, you need to be a risk-taker.

Sources: Oxbridge / Aesthetics Today/ The Washington Post

Body shaming is a phenomenon that is hardly new, especially to women, who continue to be more significantly targeted than men. Women have for much longer been haunted by body shaming since they have constantly been inflicted upon derogatory remarks about their looks and appearances. Worst still, in the last few years, with the rise of social media, body shaming has gained much in importance inducing more damages.

Everyone can be body shamed, whoever it is. However, facts and statistics show that women are more likely to be affected. According to a study provided by FITRATED on over 1,000 American men and women surveyed about their experiences with body shaming and the people in their lives, 92.7 percent of women reported to have already been body-shamed against 86.5 percent of men. Similarly, with 94 percent of teenage girls and 64 percent of boys reporting some level of ridicule for the way they look, body shaming by gender is undoubtedly blatant.

It is a matter of fact that body shaming – commonly referred to as the act of mocking a person’s physical appearance – has already existed before it made a giant leap forward with social media platforms. Whether we accept it or not, social media has hugely shaped our outlook on things. The more we are stepping into a newer innovative era where technology prevails, the more we are falling into the trap of misusing its products. It is important, however, to note that everything having inextricably link with belittling, deriding, and harassment online is all considered cyberbullying.

Now, taking into account how some people use social media for evil-driven intentions, it is not unfair to say that many lives are wiped out, hopes are shattered. Social media has now seemed to be used to sell and consume body images – the perfect ones – and to display a new culture based on the perfect life. Indeed, it influences a lot on how people see themselves, because of the beauty standards priorly and repeatedly imposed on. It negatively affects their concept of beauty. The truth is, many people are, nowadays, found increasingly to struggle with the ideal body image. They are targeted by unpleasing comments based upon their appearance, making them lose their self-esteem. In point of fact, body shaming is not only limited to fat-shaming or skinny shaming, height-shaming, and shaming of hairiness or lack thereof, it may mainly include shaming of tattoos and piercings, or people’s disabilities.

Facts and statistics on body shaming are to be shared to help people know more about this phenomenon and that they could overcome it. Just because body shaming rose very quickly to a high level due to social media does not necessarily mean social media platforms are all defective. Instead, it can positively impact body image in many ways.

It can convey body positivity and empower social media users as many researchers discovered and proved. Sarah Gervais, a psychologist and Associate Professor in the Social and Cognitive Psychology and the Law-Psychology programs, highlighted that Instagram is a more appropriate tool because the platform has adjusted its system settings by excluding from the search engine some specific keywords and hashtags related to eating and fitness issues. This has been made so to help people focus on healthier representations of their bodies on social media.

Sources: healthline / King University Online

In the Malagasy culture, a fady is a system of prohibition implemented by ancestors or locals to protect, for example, a long-standing custom and/or tradition or a particular site or area.

It is no doubt that Madagascar has considerable natural resources and is famous for having a unique and rich biodiversity. Home to thousands of plants and animal species found nowhere else in the world, the island’s endemism may increase the rate of threat of its resources and may make its species even more endangered. This is why conservation and protection systems must be set up, highly strengthened and enforced. In some remote areas of Madagascar, locals appeal for social norms and restriction barriers to protect and manage their lands and natural riches. They put some taboos or fady that they believe will operate if anyone else attempts to rob their natural deposits or disrespect what is forbidden, commonly known as sacrilege. The concept of fady or taboo traces its roots back to the Merina kingdoms. Skeptical people consider the fady as only fussy stories, whereas many Malagasy traditionalists have long counted on it, reckoning its importance as a shield and a fail-proof protection system.

The fady varies according to villages’ customs and each region may have their own taboos or fady. These fady are set as rules that may govern the village and stand as perpetrated traditions. In the Malagasy culture, a fady may concern objects, places, animals, plants, or even a certain behavior. There are regions that may deprive you, for instance, from eating certain foods when visiting the place. This is the case of a tribe located in the west of Madagascar named “Zanakantitra”, who does not consume onion and makes it a fady. There are also different places considered sacred on which it is banned to build a foundation. Sometimes these places were once graves, and for Malagasy people, graves are sacred since it has a direct link with ancestors. Yet, the respect of the ancestors means a lot to Malagasy people. Pointing a finger at graves is also considered fady by many but sounds like just a legend to others. In some traditions, the fady can involve animals as well, the “Indris”, for example. These are lemur species acknowledged as sacred animals because of the several myths that surround them. It is believed that the spirits of the ancestors live in these lemurs.

The list of the fady is a long one, but these are only a few examples seen in different regions of the island. For so long, taboos and social norms have largely contributed to the evolution of today’s Malagasy society. Similarly, they have played an important conservation role regarding Madagascar’s riches.

Sources: “Les Fady ou Tabous à Madagascar”, Bertin Razafimpahanana / “Taboos, social norms and conservation in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar”, Julia P G Jones et al., 2007

While the world is constantly changing, so do the society and technology. They are shifting so fast that everything now seems easier and accessible. Who could imagine that anybody would be able to reach the sky today? For several decades after the first incredible experience of humans flying aboard a spacecraft to land on planetary body, currently even non-astronauts can enjoy such a memorable journey once in their lifetime.

Today, the space tourism industry is evolving. Three outstanding space companies are now competing on launching their first tourist spacecraft. This is to grant everyone the possibility to fly to space. These companies include Blue Origin founded by Jeff Bezos, Space X of Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic created by Richard Branson.

Very recently, the man behind Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos, the known richest man in the world and also founder and CEO of the multinational technology company Amazon has announced his spaceflight plans. On July 20th, Jeff Bezos will be flying aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft and will be joined by five other people including his brother. For the first time in 60 years in American history since Alan Shepard became the first American astronaut to travel in space, spaceflights for tourists are now available. Besides the new Shepard, Elon Musk is also promoting Space X “Dragon” for tourists, the space shuttle which has already completed its first successful crewed flight on the Crew Dragon modules in August 2020.

Get ready for your unforgettable journey on space!

Getting into space is now made possible for those who are desirous of joining the space crew, and for those who have the means! These days, it has become more of a reality for non-astronauts to seize that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of astronauts. This is just a dream come true!

Since private companies are all rushing to carry passengers into space, they also prepare them for the flight. Going to space is not something that should be taken for granted. Not only do you attempt to wander the universe, which may be a scary thing; but also you ignore how you will cope with such an experience totally new to you. Therefore, you need to get well-prepared for it and be willing to follow the training.

Generally, trainings depend on each space company. Blue Origin, for example, is convinced that passengers will be able to learn what it takes in space only the day before their flight. This means, it only comes to a one-day training. However, there is not denying that it can take up to two years of training to become a fully qualified astronaut and understand the basics around the spaceflight. This may be ironical, but it is true to say that today, anybody can be an astronaut in only one day. At any rate, who would not want to reach the stars and experience zero gravity? So, take your chance because as Space Training Academy rightly says: “The sky is not your limit anymore!" Get your money ready, the space is waiting for you!

Sources: The Washington Post/BBC Sky at Night Magazine/ Blue Origin

We are increasingly heading towards a more virtually-fueled world. We inevitably must cope with the 21st-century digital era. Although this is a revolutionary era aiming to make life easier, we cannot ignore its downsides, especially for our kids. How could we explain to them that this is how their future will look like?

Recently, an idea has emerged from Silicon Valley informing that Facebook plans to launch a new version of Instagram for kids aside Messenger Kids – a popular texting app for children aged 6 to 12. The idea caused a real controversy among users, parents, and some grassroots organizations, leading them to raise petitions. They claimed that Instagram is not suitable for kids, because even teen and adult users already struggle using it. By getting signatures, these organizations expected from Facebook to give up that idea.

More than 180,000 people have signed the petitions. This figure shows that many still refuse the idea of involving kids in digital and social media marketing. Kids are thought not to be ready yet to get confronted with the dangerous pressure and influence of technology. At any rate, this is not only all about Instagram and other social networking platforms, the simple fact of surfing the internet also represents a huge risk for young children. That is why calling for parents’ involvement in watching over their kids’online activities should be the focus of much attention. Parents need to teach their children to use technology and internet correctly.

Here are two parenting guideline tips to guarantee children’s tech use safety:

Parents must aim for balance. Parents should adopt a balanced approach regarding the use of technology by their younger children. Technology may admittedly be useful for their kids’ fulfillment; but parents should also keep in mind its harmful effects. Parents should know when their kids use technological tools and go online. Their kids may get access to inappropriate content online, and that is why parents should intervene. Warning signs of unhealthy tech usage must be taken seriously, when kids feel bad when deprived of their device for example. Most importantly, parents should set screen time balance for their kids and prioritize offline activities.

Parents should always be a role-model for their children. Children notice and imitate their parents. If you are that kind of parent who spends much of your time sticking to and connecting on your devices for work, know that your child is more likely to do the same. Parents must set an example and set a balance of work time and family time. It is always advised that parents unplug from any devices when they spend quality time with their children.

We clearly can no longer live without technology since it has become an essential part of human life and evolution. All the same, it is up to each one of us, parents or not, to protect children from the misuse of technology.

Sources: USA Today / The New York Times

Generation Z has emerged as a population that increasingly instills much attention because their life experience has been shaped by a different world compared to other generations. Born after 1996, Generation Z population differs from previous generations – Generation Y, also known as the Millennials and Generation X – in attitudes, tendencies, and outlook.

Some statistics show that the global Gen Z population has already reached 2.56 billion people in 2020. Generation Z is expected to represent 80 million of US consumers by 2026 and will become the largest generation in American history. Today, they are worth 27 percent of the US population. The oldest members of this group are in their early 20s, and some of them are moving towards America’s education system. According to Pew Research Center, Generation Z students are more likely to pursue college compared to previous generations. Data show that generation Z students aged 18-21 were no longer at high schools in 2018 and that 57 percent enrolled in a two- or four-year college program. Lower statistics – 52 percent for members of Generation Y in 2003 and 43 percent for those of Generation X – were previously recorded. Gen Z students are thought to value higher education because their parents have also been better educated. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KID COUNT Data Center, in 2005, 35 percent of kids nationwide were growing up in a household led by someone with a college degree; and that by 2018, the percentage reached 44 percent.

Gen Z-ers are extremely goal-oriented and career-focused students, setting ambitious financial and personal goals. Moreover, they are seen as an optimistic generation, always eager to deepen their knowledge as much as they can. They remain highly motivated, and that makes them unique as a generation.

Gen-Z has gone through hard times these last years and has witnessed economic crisis and financial struggles – during the great recession for instance. These events came to change their worldview. As a result, they have become more concerned and vigilant regarding their future.

These Generation Z students are compassionate and very committed when it comes to changing the world. They are “racially and ethnically diverse, progressive and pro-government"  according to Pew Research Center. Gen Z shows a strong desire to largely contribute to the world, to create a more equitable society, and to help and act for the benefit of the community.

Another special feature of Generation Z students is that they are digital natives. They grew up with technology and are significantly more comfortable with the internet compared to Millennials. Statistics reveal that 98 percent of Generation Z members own a smartphone. They can spend up to three hours a day on the internet and another three hours a day using social media. They are tech savvy, and the digital world has no more secret for them.

All generations have each their core characteristics and specificities – Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z, and so will the emerging demographic cohort called Generation Alpha.

Sources: Pew Research Center/ Psychology Today/ The Annie E. Casey Foundation

 

 

It is clear that what inspires people most in exercising is either to keep fit or to build a toned body based upon their body ideal perception. Some may simply want to stay healthy or feel better by practicing sport. However, it is not always easy to stay on track and stay motivated everytime. Therefore, engaging in a physical activity sometimes requires having a powerful motivator.

These days, digital exercise has emerged as a trend among workout communities. Many sites and social media platforms are now promoting collective exercise sessions, which include online fitness classes. This was partly popularized by Kayla Itsines, an Australian personal trainer-turned influencer known for having inspired many women through digital exercise community. This thirty-year young woman trainer has 12.9 million Instagram followers and 30 million others on the Sweat app. She is known for her ability to harness social media to promote her brand. Today, she has her own social media followership branded as the Sweat with Kayla community – formerly BBG community. Kayla’s goal was to create a unique online exercise community for women where she could share her insight on exercising well. In fact, she focuses more on “how people feel rather than how they look”. That is why the program she offers aims at building a strong sisterhood where followers encourage and support each other to motivate and inspire all users to exercise.

A study made by two researchers named Kim Toffoletti and Holly Thorpe, while following closely Kayla and analyzing 155 women within the BBG community, shows that these women are proud and satisfied. They post their photos with happy and smiling faces on Instagram with hashtags #BBG, #thekaylamovement, #kaylasarmy, and #bbggirls to portray their sense of pleasure and pride. For these exercisers living in different places, belonging to the same encouraging community makes them more motivated in their workout journey.

Currently, online fitness community has gained much importance and has become a powerful motivator for fitness lovers. People feel both the need to keep fit and interact with others. Practicing collective exercises have always been of a huge benefit and power; in a way that it allows exercisers to share the same feeling towards attaining similar goals. Similarly, it can create a sense of belonging, commitment, support, and teamwork. There is no better feeling than sharing camaraderie while working hard along one’s weight loss journey. The pandemic has increased the need to connect digitally, fostering virtual workout community. Being in a community, whether it is in-person or digital, can always help motivate members and make positive changes to their health and fitness. The virtual support network is highly valuable and powerful especially in creating an environment of support.

An online community of fitness enthusiasts not only does help people to feel less lonely or depressed, but also to support them in reaching their shared fitness goals.

Sources: Psychology Today/ Today

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This website was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.