Why Japan's Buddhists run a deadly 1,000-day marathon

Only 46 monks have completed the seven-year marathon since 1885.

Photo by Yuya Shino/Getty Images
  • The kaihōgyō — a seven-year, 1,000-day marathon — is among the world's most difficult physical challenges.
  • It is rarely completed, and those who fail are historically expected to kill themselves.
  • Why do Japan's Buddhist monks take on this nearly impossible challenge?
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Why endurance running is humanity's surprising hidden talent

As enjoyable as it is to be a couch potato, humans were built to run.

Photo by Steven Lelham on Unsplash
  • We usually think of our intellect as our strong suit, while our physical bodies seem terribly frail compared to other animals.
  • While humans aren't the fastest animals out there, research has shown that humans are the best endurance runners on the planet.
  • Understanding why our bodies work so well with running helps us understand where we fit in the animal kingdom and might even work as a little extra motivation to get in some cardio exercise.
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Conversation tips for surviving the holidays and savoring time with family

This holiday season, ask the questions you don't know the answer to.

Sometimes, you just can't relate to your relatives. Whether it's sports, politics, or past events, gathering around a dinner table during the holiday season can be a daunting prospect. Communication expert Angie McArthur explains some of her cardinal rules for connecting with your family and friends, and she identifies one of the biggest errors people make: asking the wrong questions. The root of the word 'question' is 'quest', as in endeavoring to know something—but how often is that really our motivation? As society reaches a new peak of polarization, in tense moments we may find ourselves asking questions just to prove our own points correct, which Angie McArthur explains are called leading questions. There is a more powerful method you can use: open questions, which are fueled by genuine curiosity, connection, and lead to a meaningful exchange. Chief among her tips, McArthur advises that this holiday season, you ask the questions you *don't* already know the answer to. Keeping these tips in mind, you might not merely survive the holidays—you might actually enjoy them. Angie McArthur is the co-author of Reconcilable Differences: Connecting in a Disconnected World.

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There's a Fundamental Lie That All Politics Is Based On

There's one whopper out there that people rarely acknowledge, but self-confessed "cynical libertarian" Dave Barry isn't shying away.

If you think lies are funny, you might be a cynic. If you’re a cynical libertarian, you might be Dave Barry. As a humorist at the Miami Herald for more than 20 years, Barry kept a close watch on state and national politics. What he saw, and continues to see, is a great lie perpetrated on the voting public: that politicians actually care about you (they don’t). But much like the lie of professional sports — that it truly matters which team wins (it doesn’t) — we depend on the lie so that we feel good about participating, whether in politics or in sports. Hilarious, right? Dave Barry is the co-author of For This We Left Egypt?.

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