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Are you a ________ or merely a consumer of ________ artifacts?

In his wonderful book, You Are What You Love, James K. A. Smith encourages us to reflect on the religious nature of the shopping experience by describing the shopping mall as a place of worship:

The layout of this temple has architectural echoes that harken back to medieval cathedrals – mammoth religious spaces designed to absorb all kinds of religious activities […] As we pause to reflect on some of the icons on the outside of one of the chapels, we are thereby invited to consider what’s happening within – invited to enter into the act of worship more properly, invited to taste and see. We are greeted by a welcoming acolyte who offers to shepherd us through the experience, but also has the wisdom to allow us to explore on our own terms if we so choose. Sometimes we will enter cautiously, curiously, tentatively making our way through the labyrinth within the labyrinth, having a vague sense of need but unsure how it will be fulfilled, and so open to surprise, to that moment where the spirit leads us to an experience we couldn’t have anticipated […] And this is a religion of transaction, of exchange and communion. We are invited to worship here, we are not only invited to give; we are invited to take. We don’t leave this transformative experience with just good feeling or pious generalities, but rather with something concrete and tangible – with newly minted relics, as it were, which are themselves the means to the good life embodied in the icons who invited us into this participatory moment in the first place.

You Are What You Love, p43-45

He argues that the liturgies, or practices, of consumerism are religious activities which shape us in ways that we don’t easily recognise. And they don’t only inform how we relate to things, but how we build relationships and how we approach our spiritual lives.

The pervasive nature of consumerism is challenging because it exists on a level that we are barely aware of. Let’s take an example outside of traditional religious institutions. Let’s say that one day I decide to be a minimalist. The idea of reducing my belongings and the good that would do to my mental disposition and the environment far outweighs the comfort of buying more stuff. So what do I do? I find some blogs which talk about minimalism. I go and buy a book about it. I start choosing which furniture I will buy in my new style of apartment (Muji, maybe?) You see, although I am now a minimalist, I am a minimalist through the overarching system of consumerism – I only really know how to do minimalism as a consumer.

Another example. I decide that I want to be a Christian; that’s my new tribe. so what do I do? I go out and buy books about it. I buy myself a Bible, and an introduction to reading it. I find a book about prayer. I start going to church. In fact, I realise it’s not that simple: I need to find a church that suits my tastes. Does it have music I like? How about the teaching? Does it align with my view on scripture?

Do you see what I’m getting at? Because I am a consumer without even being aware of it, it is the disposition with which I approach all of life.

There are products made to cater to this disposition in every type of consumer imaginable.

Salafists who want to be like the original followers of Muhammad can listen to halal music, or put their money in Islamic bank accounts even though neither of these were present during the Golden Age of Islam.

Vegetarians like myself can buy books about not eating meat, or t-shirts supporting the cause.

None of these things actually make a person more authentically Muslim, or a more serious vegetarian. Having seven Bibles and all the latest Christian pop music doesn’t make me a better follower of Jesus.

But all these things can give a person trained to be a consumer the feeling of authenticity. And the alternatives to consuming our way to the identities we want can be demanding. Being a devout Muslim takes discipline and perseverance. Being a vegetarian means giving up meat. Being a minimalist means letting go of distractions and clutter, not replacing them with (appropriately branded) new distractions and clutter.

So how do we move away from consumerism? Smith suggests that we do it by developing practices (liturgies) that train us to approach the world differently.

If consumerism trains us to see ourselves and our personal gratification as the most important thing, we take on practices that train us otherwise.

The challenge is recognising the formative practices that we already participate in and beginning to imagine counter-practices.

On the death of Eugene Peterson

I’ve been able to identify two different ways in which I grieve the passing of Eugene Peterson from this world. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that he is one of my heroes. The second is the fact that while he leaves behind a legacy in the form of books, and disciples, the grounding influence of his presence on the church will be sorely missed.

Loss of a personal hero

Mentors come in many forms. Some are traditional, face-to-face relationships with someone who knows you well and invests in you personally over a period of time. Others write books or create other forms of media that speak to you in ways that are formative. We never meet them, but they still impact our lives for the better.

Eugene Peterson was one of the latter for me. I never knew him personally (though I would have liked to), but his writing about the pastoral life helped to shape me and how I see the spiritual life.

“Earthy” is probably the best word I’ve found to describe the kind of Jesus-follower Peterson was. He chose to never pastor a congregation that was too big for him to know all of their names. He was passionate about making the spiritual life something that people understood to belong “out there” in the world, not trapped inside a church building.

While it might not sound revolutionary, the life of Eugene Peterson was counter-cultural, even to the church. When everything was getting bigger and more “professional” and a famous pastor was more likely to invite an admirer to a conference he was speaking at than into his personal space, Peterson did the opposite. He made space for people, even inviting them to visit him at his home, to pray and eat with him.

He lived slow, had time for people, and practiced the Jesus life in a way that wasn’t distant and removed, but embedded in everyday practices.

The loss of a godly man of influence

When my grandfather died many years ago, it felt like part of the foundation of my life had been torn out. His presence on this earth was grounding, giving context to my own identity and journey.

While I’m not as personally attached to Eugene Peterson as I was to my grandfather, he is certainly one of the grandfathers of the faith for my generation. His presence grounding and his life an arrow pointing out an alternative to the distraction-filled, hyper consumptive lifestyle that has become so normative.

I’m sad for what it means for those of us who follow Jesus to no longer have Eugene Peterson around. We can no longer look to him as an example of what it looks like to live a life oriented on Jesus, an experienced sojourner on the Jesus path.

But his loss is also a challenge to those of us who put him on a pedestal and admired him from afar. Because we can embody the values he stood for and make them a reality in a world that so badly needs them. We can choose to go slow, to listen, and to embody the life of Jesus in the midst of this crazy world. 

When Bono met Eugene Peterson

Six of my favourite podcasts

Podcasts have been one of the ways I have learned about the world over the last few years while commuting or, in the early days of parenting, when I felt too tired to read. This is a short introduction to some of my favorite podcasts.

Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell looks back at stories from history, at something overlooked or misunderstood, and uses them as focal points for discussing something bigger. His recent series on memory was particularly engrossing.

Caliphate from Rukmini Callimachi at the New York Times looks at the rise of ISIS from the inside as she makes contact with a young man who spent time working as a member of the group’s religious police in Syria.

Where should we begin by Esther Perel is a podcast that takes you into the counseling room as a different couple in each episode participates in couples therapy. 

Philosophise This! by Stephen West attempts to give a succinct overview of the history of philosophy. Each episode focuses on a particular school of thought. This is a great way to get an overview of a philosophical concept before you read into it more deeply.

Desert Island Discs from the BBC is the podcast version of their long running interview show in which a well known person chooses eight songs and tells the story of their life. Often very insightful.

The Writer’s Voice is a podcast of short stories from the New Yorker. Read by the authors themselves and beautifully told. I love fiction, and it’s nice to be able to start and finish a story during a commute.

How about you? What are your favorite podcasts?

Deciding to hit publish

I have been on a writing journey.

Having blogged for many years, I started studying for my Master’s degree and began reflecting seriously on questions of source critique and academic authority.

I also hung around Twitter, watching the venom with which people pounce on the smallest mistake or slightest revelation of imperfection.

These two journeys side-by-side made me apprehensive about hitting publish. While I would draft several posts per month, I would rarely end up publishing them for fear of having selected my words poorly.

And now I’m realizing that it’s important to practice putting things out there. Even when they’re not perfect.

Even in a world which likes to pounce on our mistakes.

I’ve been inspired in this by Seth Godin and his challenge to post something every day, and also by Jason Evans whose blog I have followed since 2003 and who still posts regularly

There’s a bit of Boris in us all

Back in 1890, a young Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about Burma. The poem, The Road to Mandalay, was written from the perspective of a British soldier once stationed there. The soldier reminisces about the place, an encounter with a local girl, and describes his surroundings with the kind of paternalistic grandeur of someone who believes his empire, the British Empire, to be the ultimate expression of civilisation.

The text is also dismissive of Burmese culture and religion:

An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an ‘eathen idol’s foot:
Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud 
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd

For Kipling’s soldier, this is an uncivilised, heathen place, albeit alluring.

Interestingly, Kipling only visited Burma once, for three days, on his way elsewhere, and he never visited Mandalay.

This lack of experience didn’t prevent him from becoming influential in shaping the perspective of his countrymen on the place. The words he penned on paper describing this destination he barely knew became a go-to text for understanding what Burma is like.

A 20-year-old shaping one people’s understanding of another.

Which brings us to Boris Johnson, who, on a recent trip to Burma, began reciting The Road to Mandalay at the site of a Burmese shrine, while a Channel 4 camera crew filmed him.

The UK’s foreign secretary reciting a poem praising colonialism and dismissing Burmese culture, at a Burmese shrine which he is being invited to visit by his gracious Burmese hosts.

Fortunately, Britain’s ambassador to Burma stopped him before he had a chance to complete his recital and embarrass the UK further, but the episode was a glimpse into the attitude that Johnson has towards the Burmese.

Just days later, at a Conservative Party Conference event, he commented on how the only thing getting in the way of a “wonderful” group of UK businessmen turning the Libyan town of Sirte into the next Dubai was the dead bodies that needed clearing out of the way.

For Johnson, it seems that the British Empire still stands, and he’s happy to brush aside any dead bodies or cultural inconveniences that get in his way.


But this post isn’t just about Boris and his blunders. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the very real ability that we each have to see people who are different from us as somehow less valuable than we are.

And how if we don’t pay careful attention, we can end up using other people’s small ‘incivilities’ as a way of building our own sense of superiority and worth.

In 1978 Edward Said wrote Orientalism, which looks at what happens when this natural human tendency becomes a system of thought. He demonstrates how literature and art shaped the way that Europeans understand ‘The Orient,’ and the effect that perspective has had on justice and international relations.

Orientalism in its essence is about seeing ‘Western’ culture as superior to other cultures, and the actions which accompany such a perspective.

One example from Said is how ‘oriental’ women are portrayed in colonial era literature. They are usually passive, rarely speak for themselves, and are usually there to serve the various appetites of the men around them.1)Orientalism, 1979: 187-188 They are objectified: helpless and inferior.

Said might argue that this way of understanding non-European women has paved the way for our attitudes towards them when they enter our societies. When it comes to discussions like enforcing a Burqa ban, the voices of the women who wear them are usually crowded out by those who choose to speak for them, in the name of justice.

While we would usually offer a European woman (in a similar scenario) the opportunity to explain why she dresses a certain way, the women of the Middle East are still seen as helpless and inferior.


From his many gaffes and blunders, it’s clear that Boris is something of an Orientalist. He adores Britain’s colonial era, and apparently has little respect for other cultures: Britain is best.

But this post isn’t just about Boris and how he is embarrassing the British people.

It’s about how easy it is to view others as inferior, and how much damage that can cause in a globalised world.

Because we each carry a bit of Boris inside us.

We’re all capable of dismissing people who are different from us as weird, uncouth, uncivilised, inferior.

It might be a neighbour. It could be a refugee. It could be someone who votes differently from ourselves.

And in coming to conclusions about people who are different from us before we’ve taken the time to get to know them, we carry perspectives about them which are, at best, naive, at worst entirely false. And we miss the opportunity to promote the kind of understanding upon which justice and change can be built.

(Image by Andrew Parsons)

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Orientalism, 1979: 187-188

What no one will tell you about the Couch to 5K running plan

The wind in my hair. A smile on my face. It was so perfect. Legs supple and strong, covering kilometres effortlessly thanks to my newly developed running skills. Waking up each morning with the urge to JUST DO IT – to get out there and pound pavement – because I had broken through and was now more runner than walker. A natural athlete. Perfect.

At least that’s how I pictured my last week of the Couch to 5K program before I set out. The nine week program promises to take absolute beginners and get them to the point where they can comfortably run five kilometres (just over 3 miles).

After the birth of our daughter in December, and the accompanying sleepless nights (as well as a sleep-deprivation-induced chain of colds), I knew I needed to get fit if I was to be in good mental and physical shape for my new role as a Dad.

I had tried C25K several times before, but two years living in Amman, Jordan, a city built on seven mountains with summer time temperatures of around 40 degrees celsius and cultural associations between running and lack of honour meant that I had all but given up.

But now I was back in Sweden, with no such excuses. So in January I committed to follow the full nine week plan.

The first weeks of C25K are very pleasant. Week one you alternate between one minute of running and ninety seconds of walking for twenty minutes. Week two follows the same rhythm but with longer intervals, ninety seconds running and two minutes walking. By week five you are running for twenty minutes without stopping, and this gradually increases until by week nine you can run for thirty minutes (an average of 5km).

I liked this slow build up because it meant that by the time I was running for longer periods of time, my muscles were ready for it. I didn’t experience the aches and pains I used to when I would run 5km after a long period without running. I was happy because I felt like I was becoming stronger.

However, I still felt worn out after each run and wasn’t waking up with that “I can’t wait to go running today” feeling.

Nonetheless, I persisted – cheered on by the voice of Radio One DJ Jo Whiley, who has replaced the encouraging but slightly less motivating voice of Laura from the first release of the app.

“By week nine, I will definitely be addicted to running,” I assured myself.

But even with the elation of finishing the nine weeks, I finished my last run worn out and didn’t feel more athletic.

That’s when I started talking to the runners I knew who have run half marathons and more. I even spoke to one friend who runs ultra marathons.

What they told me was very helpful: “you become addicted to running somewhere around 10 kilometres.”

All this time, I’d been thinking that the Couch to 5K would get me to that natural born athlete zone, when I actually needed a lot more kilometres under my belt to reach this point!

So I carried on. I increased my running from 5km to 6km, then from 6km to 7km, and now I regularly run 10km, sometimes more. The best part of this is that when I started running 8km and more, I started to feel better when I ran than when I didn’t! I had discovered the tipping point!

(image by Hernán Piñera)

The utility of refugees

There are several strands of conversation, or discourse, on the subject of refugees and why they should, or should not be offered the hospitality of our national borders. I find two of them particularly disturbing.

First, the idea that refugees are worthy of help because of who they may become.

The argument goes something like this: we should allow refugees into our countries because they may become the next Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein: they may end up contributing to history in such a way that it would be a huge mistake not to let them survive and thrive in our country. They are valuable because they contribute to our sense of the common good, and thus because of their utility.

The flaw in this argument is that it fails to recognise that human beings are valuable. They’re valuable not because of what they contribute to the greater good, but because of the basic fact of their humanity. We should offer hospitality to refugees not as some kind of high odds gamble in which we may hit the jackpot and find ourselves hosting a genius, but because we recognise the humanity we share.

The second is the idea that refugees should only be understood through the paradigm of victimhood.

There is a good reason why refugees tend to appear in the media as either victims of a great injustice, or as villains seeking to portray themselves as victims.

The reason is that the former is the easiest way for organisations like the UNHCR to raise funds.

They make a video that talks about how helpless these people are and how we must save them, otherwise they will die or face some other terrible injustice. How do we save them? By giving money to the UNHCR, who in turn promise to convert cash into changed lives.

The competing story about refugees has its roots in the same concept, but is the antithesis of the victim discourse. It says that refugees are not victims, but opportunists using political unrest in their homeland to further their personal ambitions. They leave an otherwise peaceful part of Syria and move to London or Stockholm in order to improve their standard of living and to give their kids a chance at getting in to better schools. Refugees, in other words are not victims but scroungers who don’t deserve to be helped.

My issue with the idea that refugees are victims is that it ignores the agency, the decision making powers, that the individual refugees have and use throughout their process of relocating.

Most of the people I have met who have obtained refugee status are extremely creative, strategic individuals who have used all their abilities to get to Europe and begin building a life for themselves here. They are doing what any of us would if we found ourselves in a similar position: finding a place that is more stable – somewhere that future generations can succeed. I don’t understand why we can’t learn to celebrate this creativity, to recognise their agency, rather than seeing it as a threat.

The victim narrative paints the picture of someone who is utterly useless once they arrive in their host country: they’re all take and no give, which is the opposite of the experience I have had as I’ve gotten to know refugees in Sweden and Jordan.

Stop falling for the allure of News FOMO

Last night I dreamed that I bumped into Nassim Nicholas Taleb in a cafe.

He was sat thinking, recording his ideas via audio note on his mobile phone. Then his phone rang and he spoke to someone in Arabic for a few minutes.

After the phonecall I introduced myself. I told him how inspired I was by his Antifragility concept.

Half way into this dream, a girl in a beret snuck behind the philosopher. She switched his beret, which had been resting on a shelf behind him, with hers.

He didn’t notice the girl but, before she finished sneaking behind his back, I pointed her out to him. He had a twinkle in his eye as he stopped her and reclaimed his hat.

The whole time, he seemed gathered and at ease, in good spirits.

Once the girl was gone, it was like she’d never been there. He finished his conversation with me and went back to his thinking.


I think this dream illustrates my own inner dialogue pretty well. I adore well developed, longform writing and thought: philosophy, theology, fiction. I long to be part of that world. But I have a boundary problem: I let too many of the thoughts of others into my head.

I do this through Twitter, news apps and email. Before I deleted some of my apps, I was also a slave to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Flickr.

For example the BBC app tells me “worry about the Democrat Party leadership contest,” and I do. Even though the outcome of this particular contest will have little or no impact on my life. Even though there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome.

By letting others dictate what I think about I lose control of my mental space.

I lose the opportunity to apply my thinking abilities to the work of crafting ideas that I can be happy with.

The girl who wants to steal my beret and the guy who wants to stop and have a chat have distracted me from my work of thinking.

Unlike the Taleb of my dream, my undisciplined mind falls prey to the many things that vie for my attention.

Now I’m not saying that I want to cloister myself from the world. There will always be diversions, welcome or otherwise, from the path I expect to take.

But there’s a difference between handling everyday intrusions and choosing a lifestyle of distractedness.


There’s a phrase that Paul of Tarsus uses in a letters to his followers: “take captive every thought.”

I think he’s alluding to the fact that we have some influence over what we think about. We have responsibility for taking every thought captive.

But how do we do it? I think it involves looking at each one, examining it and asking “does it belong in my mind?”

We have to cultivate mental space that we own and that reflects our values.

Thinking right is important

We all know that thinking right is important to how we view ourselves and the impact that we make on the world. We’ve all seen the damage that thinking wrong can do to a person’s life.

We’ve known people full of potential but held back by their fears of who others say they are. For some of us, we are those people: always asking ourselves, “who do you think you are?”

If thinking right is so important, why we give so much mental space to others?

After all, those “others” usually don’t have our best interests at heart.

Back to the BBC

All news organisations are in a competition for readers and viewers. Reporting feel good news doesn’t attract readers the way that reporting danger does.

Humans want know what risks are ahead.

Journalists know that a story describing some new risk will be easy to sell to a news agency. Their goal is selling papers, and spreading fear does just that.

Those agencies have apps and Twitter feeds that keep us updated on the Breaking News that we need know about.

At any moment we can be interrupted with the latest notification. The new thing that totally overshadows whatever it was we were just thinking about. Our previous thought relegated to the back burner.

FOMO

If it’s not our just our hunger for knowing about risk that keeps us tuned in. We are also plagued by FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

It’s no fun being the only person who doesn’t know about that latest thing that just happened.

But in this sphere not missing out (NMO) isn’t as satisfying as we expect.

In the real world, when we let FOMO take over, the payback is usually tangible. We go to that party instead of staying home. That means that we have the memories and experiences of that party.

But most of the breaking news that we hear doesn’t offer us a payback. Our day gets distracted because X has happened, but there’s nothing we can do about X.

Sure, we can talk about it. But the outcomes of this particular scenario are out of our hands. Instead of feeling engaged, we end up feeling alienated.

The elites skirmish and play their power games and all we can do is spectate.

Our news cycles are set up to reinforce dissatisfaction and a sense of powerlessness.

Take the power back

I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It’s something we each have to weigh up for ourselves.

There are some for whom electronic discipline comes naturally. They know when to turn off their phones and focus on the real world.

And there are others who just don’t see it as an issue. The convenience of constant connection to the shared consciousness far outweighs its drawbacks.

But I’m not in either of those groups. I want to take back my inner space, and I can’t do it without conscious effort.

Maybe I’ll begin by learning to take every thought captive. 

Language Hack 6: Uncomfortable Situations

One way that you can really stretch yourself linguistically is to put yourself in situations that are uncomfortable.

In comfortable situations you usually use vocabulary you know well. Only spending time with friends can leave you relying on their familiarity with with your style of speaking, rather than on your accuracy.

It’s also easy to treat speaking your target language as a performance that you’ve prepared in advance: you’ve chosen the subject, memorised the relevant words, and now you’re demonstrating that knowledge to someone who you feel relaxed in front of.

Making yourself understood by strangers, in higher pressure situations, is a whole different ballgame. Your choice of words and style of communication become really important because the listener doesn’t have relational history to lean into as they try to follow what you’re saying.

Go get rattled

Although I’d practiced this while living in Jordan, I hadn’t really reflected on it’s benefits until I read Nathan Field’s blog post, 20 strategies for becoming a fluent Arabic speaker, a really useful post that he’s currently converting into an ebook. In his post Field says:

the key to really getting good at spoken is making sure a huge portion of your 250 hours take place outside of your comfort zone. You want: To be in situations where you are nervous [and] To be in situations where you are “rattled,” if not embarrassed.

He describes two situations in which car trouble (a blowout and a collision) forced him to speak, and where adrenaline and the ‘muscle memory’ of his studies “took over”:

The Arabic words just came out.  I didn’t think.  I reacted and spoke effectively

Taking up the challenge

Yesterday I put this principle to the test using the other language that I’m learning: Swedish. I’ve recently returned to Sweden, and decided to visit Arbetsförmedlingen, the official body that assists job seekers.

I had an appointment, and decided to use only Swedish during it, even though I knew the person I was meeting probably spoke pretty good English.

Beforehand I was much more nervous than I would have been going into an English-language meeting, but the decision payed off. The two staff members I met with were happy to stick to Swedish, and I understood almost everything they said. There were two moments when I reverted to English because I didn’t know the right word, but we returned to Swedish afterwards.

I left the interview excited and invigorated at what I’d just achieved, and exhausted from the amount of focussing I’d had to do!

Tips for getting uncomfortable

Here are a few of the ideas that Field gives for getting out of comfort zone language practice:

  1.  Take 5 minutes to research terms related to vacuum cleaners or some other device that you need to buy. Then Go into a department store and ask for the pros and cons of the vacuum cleaners they have on stock. Only in Arabic. Preferably with a queue behind you.
  2. Intentionally “get lost” in a neighborhood in the Arabic city you are studying.  Then ask for directions in Arabic back to the spot you know and find your way back home.  If anyone tries to help you in English,  say you are from a country where no one would know the language: Mongolia.
  3. Phone calling – so much of communication is conveyed by body language, seeing each other and that is often a crutch for Arabic students: just call a restaurant to order; call the department store to ask about stuff etc.

Read Nathan Field’s blog here.

 

Language Hack 5: Sleep

Sleep is one of the most under appreciated sources of energy and clear thinking.

Because of the multi sensory experience of living outside my comfort zones continuously and trying to wrap my brain around new words and a brand new culture, my early days in Jordan were enveloped in a dull cloud of tiredness. At times I felt like a zombie: there, but not really there.

After a while this deep tiredness began to subside, but I’ve noticed that having enough sleep, even slightly more than I’d need in my home culture is a winning ingredient for absorbing new vocabulary.

If I try and memorise new words at the end of a school day they do not stick. My brain hasn’t had time to absorb everything I’ve been learning during the day, so it’s like pouring water into a glass that’s already full: the extra water just trickles down the sides.

But I found a way to get more out of my afternoons. If I take a 15 minute nap after school, I feel refreshed and ready for an afternoon of studying and visits.

According to a recent study from the University of Chicago, having 6 hours sleep for a prolonged period of time is the same as having no sleep for 2 days.

In the last few days of the experiment, the subjects who were restricted to a maximum of six hours of sleep per night showed cognitive performance that was as bad as the people who weren’t allowed to sleep at all…

One of the most alarming results from the sleep study is that the six-hour sleep group didn’t rate their sleepiness as being all that bad, even as their cognitive performance was going downhill. ( FastCompany)

Unsurprisingly, the group that had 8 hours’ sleep a night performed the best.

As for the connection between sleep and memory, some research has shown that while we sleep our brains replay experiences from the day, which deepens our recall of those events later. If we don’t go through full sleep cycles, we miss out on this memory-consolodation process.

Want to improve your memory? Get yourself a good sleep habit. 

(Image source: Peng Zhang)