NortonAccountingServices.com 985-640-6072 Info@NortonAccountingServices.com MARCH 2020 NORTON NEWSLETTER EASE OF MIND • AVAILABILITY • FLEXIBILITY • INDIVIDUAL APPROACH • EXPERIENCE • TAX SAVINGS OPPORTUNITIES THE REAL ESTATE TAX PRO ™
FROM THE DESK OF Bob Norton
We bought our current home 1½ years ago. The plan was to buy a fixer- upper that we could renovate to increase
the value to either sell in a few years or turn into a rental. What I didn’t count on was that I’ve come to really like the house and the quiet neighborhood! We completed a few updates when we moved in and repaired the pool. All the walls were some shade of brown, but we like bright colors, so we repainted. We also replaced the floors and vanities in the bathrooms shortly after we moved in. Recently, we began working on completing the bathrooms. (For me, that means pointing and writing checks. I let the professionals do the work.) What sold us on the configuration of the house was that the formal living and dining rooms were one big room, which we converted to our office. One bedroom became Penny’s craft room and another will be my library. Presently, it’s a storeroom filled with boxes of books. Now, if only the shelves we ordered would arrive ...
T he B enefits of M indfulness WHY THE MILITARY JUST GOT MORE MINDFUL
These days, the termmindfulness is more likely to conjure thoughts of smartphone apps than rooms wafting with nag-champa. Business guru Tim Ferris and journalist Dan Rather profess an almost cult-like devotion to the practice, and multinationals like Goldman Sachs, Google, and Bank of America all offer mindfulness training to their employees. Recently, another large organization has jumped on the bandwagon: the United States military. So, what’s all the fuss about? For years, mindfulness devotees professed that cultivating it as a practice could alleviate the symptoms of everything from high blood pressure to anxiety. Historically though, critics were dismissive, claiming studies on mindfulness weren’t rigorous enough because they didn’t include a placebo. Unlike participants in traditional studies, where half the group believes they are being treated but are only taking the equivalent of a sugar pill, participants in meditation studies usually know whether or not they are meditating. One researcher changed that in 2016. Neuroscientist Dr. Amishi Jha conducted a study where students at the University of Miami were split into two groups and then put through a series of cognitive tests. One group received mindfulness training and practiced it for a combined one hour a week, over a period of nine weeks. The other group of students received instruction about escaping worries and fake stress relief strategies.
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Evidence already supports that stressful environments reduce cognitive function and memory, and during the course of the study, all the students experienced an increase in external stressors —midterms and finals. When Jha retested the students at the end of the study, she found that the control group of students, when retested, did significantly worse on the tests later in the term. Stress had eroded their cognitive function. The group of students who received mindfulness training, however, became more accurate and focused. Jha’s findings suggest that not only is meditation a way to improve performance, but it is also a way to inoculate yourself against the effects of stressful situations. Dr. Jha continued to study the effects of mindfulness, and in 2019 she published a second study that examined its effects on a different group: soldiers in a special operations unit. This time, Dr. Jha found that not only were soldiers trained in mindfulness better able to discern important information in a chaotic environment, but they also saw gains in their working memory.
Large organizations have the resources to carefully vet the training and benefits they provide to their employees, and on the topic of mindfulness, Google, Bank of America, and the U.S. military all agree: Mindfulness works. If you’re looking for improved cognition and focus, you need to look no further than your own breath, an instructional app on your smartphone, and one hour of practice a week.
Thanks in part to Dr. Jha’s research, mindfulness is edging its way into the United States military. Army infantry soldiers in Hawaii began using mindfulness this winter, for example, to improve their shooting skills and reduce the risk of civilian harm. The idea is that by strengthening working memory through mindfulness, soldiers will be less likely to make impulsive decisions.
Heads or Tails?
THE SCIENTIFICALLY SMARTERWAY TOMAKE BUSINESS DECISIONS
a conscious decision that agrees with the subconscious solution of your basal ganglia, your brain gives off a subtle reward. The decision doesn’t have to be logical to feel right — that’s your gut feeling. However, if the conscious and subconscious parts of your brain don’t agree, your insula detects the discrepancy and registers a threat. It’s the “I have a bad feeling about this” response. Fabritius and Hagemann note that gut feelings “represent the most efficient use of your accumulated experience.” According to the authors, flipping a coin is the best way to really listen to your basal ganglia and insula. Your subconscious brain has already made a decision; flipping a coin helps you test your intuition about each option.
You have two options in front of you. They both sound great, are backed by research, and could transform your business for the better, but you can only choose one. Which do you commit to? When you’re faced with two equally worthwhile options, science says the best way to make a decision is to flip a coin. When you flip a coin, you’re not really leaving the decision up to chance; you’re actually calling on your intuition to guide you. The practice is often regarded as unscientific, but there’s a lot of research to support making intuitive decisions. Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann, authors of “The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier,” explain how we develop that “gut feeling.” Intuitive decisions are driven by two structures in your brain: the basal ganglia and the insula. The basal ganglia are connected to movement and building habits. The insula, part of the cerebral cortex, becomes engaged when you experience pain, feel love, listen to music, or even enjoy a piece of chocolate. Neuroscientists believe the insula is responsible for self- awareness, particularly for recognizing changes in your body.
If the coin lands on heads and you feel relieved, then heads is the right choice. However,
if the coin lands on tails and you’re uncertain or want to flip again, then that’s your intuition saying the other option is the better choice. So, the next time you’re caught in a pickle, grab the nearest quarter and put your intuition to the test.
When you have to solve a problem, your basal ganglia start working on a solution, even if you aren’t consciously thinking about it. If you make
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COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ROOTS Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland vs. America
from a largely Protestant population. In response, Irish Americans began using March 17 as a day to publicly declare and celebrate Irish heritage with parades and demonstrations. The observation of St. Patrick’s Day grew in popularity in cities with large Irish populations, like Boston, NewYork, and Chicago. Then, in the booming post-WorldWar II economy, various businesses aggressively marketed the holiday to Americans of all heritages. Thus, it became a day when anyone could celebrate Irish American heritage, or at least it gave everyone an excuse to drink like they believe the Irish do. Ironically, imbibing was not a part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland until relatively recently. Due to the religious nature of the holiday, pubs and bars closed down on March 17 until 1961. Additionally, the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage is another American addition. In Ireland, pork and cabbage
From extravagant parades to green-dyed rivers, something about St. Patrick’s Day feels quintessentially American — despite its Irish heritage. That’s because many common St. Patrick’s Day traditions actually originated in America, evolving beyond their roots in the Emerald Isle in a few key ways. On March 17, Irish folks commemorate the death of St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to pagan Ireland during the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Historically, these religious origins make for a more somber observance of St. Patrick’s Day. Many Irish families go to church and eat a modest feast as the extent of their celebration. However, St. Patrick’s Day in America is not so much about venerating Ireland’s patron saint as it is about celebrating Irish heritage in a foreign land. When Catholic Irish immigrants first came to the United States, they faced persecution
was actually more common, but impoverished Irish immigrants substituted less expensive beef for pork, and the tradition stuck. Even though the most widely observed St. Patrick’s Day celebrations originated in America, many of them have found their way back to Ireland. Starting in 1996, the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin now attracts over 1 million attendees with all the drinks and revelry that Americans love. You’d be hard pressed to find a green beer, though. In the hallowed birthplace of Guinness and whiskey, some traditions may be better left across the pond.
Take a Break!
Inspired by AboutAMom.com
Green Velvet Cheesecake Bars
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup graham cracker crumbs 1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs 1 stick butter, melted 1 oz green food coloring (gel works best) 1. Heat oven to 350 F, and line a 9x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. 2. In a large bowl, combine crumbs, butter, and food coloring. Press into the baking pan. 3. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar together.
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2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract Green sprinkles, optional
4. Add eggs one at a time and stir in vanilla. 5. Pour mixture over the packed crumbs. 6. Bake for 40 minutes or until the center is set. 7. Let cool completely before adding sprinkles and slicing.
RAIN REBIRTH SPRING SPROUT
GROWTH LUCKY MELT PUDDLE
ARIES BLOOM BUD FLOWERS
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE From the Desk of Bob PAGE 1 Improve Your Focus Through Mindfulness PAGE 1 The Science Behind Gut Feelings PAGE 2 The Evolution of St. Patrick’s Day PAGE 3 Take a Break PAGE 3 Green Velvet Cheesecake Bars PAGE 3 Bringing Love, Joy, and Life Back to Kishi Station PAGE 4 During the mid-2000s, the Kishi Train Station in Japan began to deteriorate. By 2006, Kishi Station was left completely unstaffed because of low ridership and financial problems. However, one last resident still remained after everyone else was long gone: a black, white, and tan cat named Tama. Tama first appeared at the station as a young cat in the late 1990s. She lived near the train station and would visit commuters daily to receive affection and the occasional treat. But, as it turned out, her continued visits to Kishi Station would end up playing a much bigger role for the station. The same year it became unstaffed, residents living near the station asked the president of the Wakayama Electric Railway, Mitsunobu Kojima, to revive the station because the cat’s survival depended on it. It turns out Tama’s original owner had asked the railway workers
TAMA, THE CALICO The First Feline Stationmaster in All of Japan
to care for her before he moved away — he couldn’t bear to take her from the station she loved to visit so much. So, Kojima decided to go meet Tama. He liked her immediately and adopted her. A year later, Tama was officially named the Stationmaster of Kishi Station, the first cat stationmaster in Japan. To complete her look, Kojima gave her a small conductor hat to wear as she greeted commuters from her window perch inside the ticket gates. As an official stationmaster, Tama became well known all across Japan and throughout the world. She appeared in the media and on promotional materials that soon brought much-needed foot traffic to Kishi Station. Thousands of tourists came rushing to Kishi to see Tama for themselves, ride the Tamaden carriage, and pick up Tama merchandise inside the station.
Tama brought joy to all commuters for the next several years before passing away in 2015. Nearly 3,000 people attended her funeral, and her legacy lives on. Tama’s successors continue as stationmasters: Nitama, who serves as Kishi stationmaster, and assistant Yontama at Idakiso, five stations away.
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