Wellness News

35 Essential Habits of Incredibly Happy People

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By Dragos Bernat - 

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama

We all have these personal voices.

There’s one voice that says you can achieve whatever you desire.

Then there’s this pesky little voice offering reasons why you can’t do what you want, and it’s often repetitive, resilient, and persistent.

How many times have you made a commitment only to have this voice chime in with one of these common excuses?

  • I just don’t have enough time.
  • I don’t feel comfortable.
  • This won’t get me anywhere in life.

These excuses stem from one question: “What if?” Nothing good follows afterward. And once an excuse is gone, another one quickly replaces it.

It took me a while to realize that I wanted more from life.

It was difficult to notice what I wanted when I was consistently living in fear and resorting to excuses.

I wouldn’t let myself try anything new because I feared embarrassment, risk, loss of comfort, judgment, or that I wouldn’t be good enough.

Once I became aware of this problem, I sought a way to fix it.

I had to do something. I was sick of letting this voice control me.

I realized that I had been avoiding commitment and stalling on things that interested me because I didn’t want to lose my freedom. I didn’t want to invest too much into my personal relationships, my hobbies, or my craft.

But then I realized that commitment and freedom can co-exist, and I started creating new possibilities for myself outside my comfort zone.

The first thing I did was go to a salsa class. I had always wanted to try, but I feared I wouldn’t be good enough, or that I’d consistently step on other people.

It went better than I expected and I had fun in something new and exciting. This was the start of finding out what freedom really meant.

When we pursue new possibilities, it’s not just for growth or personal development but also for something more meaningful—being happy and engaging with the moment.

It’s about living in the present and immersing yourself in whatever you’re doing.

Not happy with how you’re living? Try one of these ideas to feel more engaged and alive.

1.  Share your fears with a trusted friend or on a forum, or write about it in your blog or journal. Get to the bottom of your fears and why they may be holding you back.      

2. Tell a friend or a loved one what you want and need from them. Be honest and don’t hold anything back.

3. Tell someone you care for them, love them, or that you want to see them happy. Don’t repress, express!

4. Ask someone you look up to for advice and let them in on your personal life. You’ll be amazed by the responses you get.

5. Go up to that person that really excites you. Just go up and say hi. You never know what could happen.

6. Tell your best friend (or anyone) about your pursuit of happiness. Share your greatest dream. It helps with accountability.

7. Discover your talents. Invest time in something you’ve always wanted to try.

8. Open up your blinds and let in natural light. Let the sunlight elevate your mood.

9. Put your favorite music on blast at least once a day. Not only will it improve your mood, but you’ll also be taken on a mental journey.

10. Change your perspective. Take a negative situation and see how you can make it positive. Gratitude goes a long way.

11. Let go. As the famous Zen proverb goes, “Let go, or be dragged.”

12. Show yourself to the world and be genuine instead of hiding who you really are.

13. Dream. Visualize your dreams, goals, and what you want to achieve in life.

14. Hug. Hugging releases oxytocin, the good-feel hormone that makes us love and trust one another.

15. Express your creativity. Paint, write, sketch—find an outlet and just create!

16. Get out of your comfort zone and try a new class that looks challenging. Remember, no one begins as a professional.

17. Practice yoga. Stretch, strengthen, and relax your body and mind. You’ll be glad you did.

18. Redecorate your environment to express how you want to feel. Set an intention for your space.

19. Start a bucket list. Write at least three things you wish to accomplish this year.

20. Meditate. Ohm.

21. Get out of the house. Take a walk in nature. Go nearby to a trail, walk alone, and see what you can appreciate. Focus on the tiniest detail possible.

22. Sign up for the conference or workshop that you’ve always wanted to attend.

23. Establish positive relationships. Spend time with those who motivate and inspire you.

24. Disconnect from the Internet. It’s not as scary as it sounds

25. Remain resilient. Any failure is a lesson, not a defining moment in your life.

26. Give, give, and give some more. Find one way to give something to someone every day. A genuine compliment goes a long way.

27. Instead of saying no, say yes. Especially to something challenging.

28. Drop any grudges. Anything negative that you hold onto will only cultivate more negativity.

29. Exercise. A wise Harvard Law School student once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”

30. Go on a journey or vacation somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.

31. Help someone out. Focus on seeing how you can help make a change in someone’s life.

32. Work on one quality or characteristic you’d like to possess.

33. Go on a bike ride. Denmark is infamously renowned for being the world’s happiest bicycle-friendly nation.

34. Do something thoughtful for someone you love. If it involves money, see if you can buy an experience instead of a gift.

35. Be thankful. Practice gratitude; there is always something to be thankful for.

You don’t have to try all of these in order to be happy. Try the ideas that resonate within you and see which ones will remove you from your comfort zone and bring you back to life.

This post was republished with permission from tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post here.

 

Dragos Bernat writes about methods and strategies based on research and practical knowledge to help make creating good habits, living healthy, and increasing productivity. For refreshing ideas on how to simplify your lifestyle both physically and mentally, and optimize your happiness, check out his website SelfHabit.

Where Can We Find Sustainable Happiness?

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By Sarah van Gelder - 

In the last 100 years, we got very confused about happiness. This is no small thing. The way we define happiness drives what we do, what we’re willing to sacrifice, and how we spend our money and our time.

This confusion didn’t just happen. Advertisers spend billions spreading the illusion that more stuff will bring us happiness. And policy wonks of all political stripes—but especially those connected to business interests—spread the message that economic growth leads to well-being. Both have turned out to be false promises that have instead been undermining the very conditions that could lead to sustainable happiness.

Sustainable happiness is a form of well-being that goes deep—it’s not a fleeting sensation of pleasure or a temporary ego boost. Instead, it is enduring because it taps into our most authentic aspirations and involves building relationships and practices that support us through good times and bad.

Sustainable happiness is built on a mutually supportive community. It grows out of knowing that our well-being is linked to that of our neighbors. When we feel that we can count on others in difficult times, that there is a place for everyone, and that we can make contributions and be recognized for them, we have the foundations of sustainable happiness.

The good news is that sustainable happiness is compatible with a healthy environment, an equitable world, and our own fulfillment. And it is contagious—the things that create well-being for one person tend to be good for others and for all life.

Sustainable happiness is possible—but much depends on the choices we make individually and as a society. Here are some ideas for where to start, each of which are developed more fully in the new anthology, Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference.

1. Stop the trauma

Like the common sense rule contained in the Hippocratic Oath, we could start by doing no harm.

Life inevitably brings some kinds of hurt: A relationship breaks up, a loved one dies, or a job fails to materialize. With support from friends and family, we recover and go on.

Yet there are types of trauma that can be debilitating for a lifetime and even across generations. And many are preventable.

Veterans suffer high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 30 percent of those treated in VA hospitals after returning from deployment in Afghanistan or Iraq have PTSD. Their children also suffer and are more likely to be anxious or depressed.

Sexual violence is another way large numbers of people are traumatized. An estimated one in five women will be raped over the course of her lifetime, and a third of rape survivors will experience PTSD. Survivors are also three times as likely to have an episode of serious depression.

Nearly 700,000 children are subjected to sexual and physical abuse each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Children suffer disproportionately from poverty, which also causes lasting trauma.

And there are the intersecting traumas caused by generations of exclusion, economic dislocation, and violence directed at people of color, who experience higher rates of PTSD as a result of ongoing racism, according to research cited by Dr. Monica Williams in Psychology Today.

Among the most important ways to create a happier world is to end the wars, abuse, and exclusion that are sources of continued trauma, and to support the healing of survivors.

2. Create equity

Stress can be healthy, if it’s the right kind. Short-term stress actually increases memory and mental function.

But chronic stress—especially stress caused by events over which we have little control—increases the risk of heart disease and the likelihood of death. The Whitehall Studies—the famous 20th century investigations into the causes of death and disease among British civil servants—showed that low-status workers had a death rate three times higher than those in the upper reaches of the hierarchy, even when controlling for other class-based stress factors. It’s an insight confirmed by subsequent research.

The damage caused by inequality extends beyond the workplace. Epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson has demonstrated that those living in unequal societies have many times higher rates of mental illness, homicide, and teen pregnancy.

So if we want healthier and happier lives, we need a more equitable society—fairer in both an economic sense and in terms of the empowerment we all have to determine our own lives.

3. Value everyone’s gifts

It may be counterintuitive, but sustainable happiness comes from what we give, not what we take or even what we have. People who find their unique gifts and are able to offer them to others are often happiest.

Cameron Anderson, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, published a study in Psychology Science that shows winning the respect and admiration of our peers matters more than having stuff. “You don’t have to be rich to be happy, but instead be a valuable contributing member to your groups,” says Anderson. “What makes a person high in status in a group is being engaged, generous with others, and making self-sacrifices for the greater good.”

Likewise, research shows that our happiness increases when we have the respect of our peers, but not necessarily when we have a higher income or more wealth.

College students who are politically engaged are happier, according to research by professor Tim Kasser. “Political activism scores were associated with feeling more pleasant emotions, reporting greater life satisfaction, and having more experiences of freedom, competence, and connection to others,” he says in a YES! Magazine article, “Making a Difference Makes You Happy.”

4. Protect the integrity of the natural world

The natural world doesn’t just bring us happiness; it is what makes life possible, and protecting its integrity contributes to sustainable happiness.

Getting out into nature improves our sense of well-being and is especially important for children. Benefits include reduced stress, improved health, more creativity, and better concentration, says Amy Novotney in the Monitor on Psychology.

The illusion that humans are separate and apart from the living Earth is finally giving way to an understanding that our fate is tied to the fate of the planet on which we all depend. Our work to protect and restore the planet’s ecosystems will mean clean water, healthy foods, a stable climate, and a better shot at sustainable happiness for generations to come.

5. Develop practices that support our own well-being 

An egalitarian society that protects the natural world; minimizes war, racism, and abuse; and welcomes the expression of each person’s unique gift provides the foundation for sustainable happiness. But we don’t have to wait for the world to change. There are things we can do at home, too, that boost our own sustainable happiness.

We can exercise, a better cure than prescription drugs for much of what ails us. A sedentary life is as dangerous to health as smoking, according to studies cited by the American College of Sports Medicine. Regular moderate exercise not only reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke; it also makes us happier, often controlling depression as effectively as prescription antidepressants. It’s much cheaper, and all of the side effects are good.

We can also develop a practice of gratitude and learn to be mindful.

Some of the happiest people are those who have survived great illnesses or other major life challenges and have become conscious of the choices they make about their finite lives. There’s something about facing the possible end of life that brings into focus the precious choice we have about how to spend our remaining days.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way,” Viktor E. Frankl wrote.

One more thing: In a time of increasing disruptions related to a changing climate and economic dislocation, our challenge will be to create the conditions that encourage us to turn to each other in hard times, not turn on each other. We are far more likely to achieve that in a more equitable world, where we are mindful of the many blessings we have and skilled at discovering sources of happiness that don’t cost the planet, but are abundant and free.

Reprinted with permission from Greater Good - Science of a Meaningful Life.

Sarah van Gelder is co-founder and editor in chief of YES! Magazine. This piece was adapted from Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference, edited by Sarah van Gelder and the staff of YES!, and published by Berrett Koehler.

 

Detox Water with Cucumber and Citrus

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By Dr. Bill Rawls - 

A detox water with refreshing cucumber and citrus is hard to beat. Beyond adding some zing to plain water, this beverage boasts powerful health benefits. Best after soaking overnight, this recipe makes multiple servings that store well in the fridge and pack a flavorful punch.

Cucumbers are a good source of B vitamins. They are also known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol, which have been linked to reduced risk of several cancer types, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and prostate cancer.

Citrus fruits have an abundance of vitamin C, potassium, pectin, and phytochemicals that benefit numerous conditions including allergies, asthma, cancer, cataracts, heart disease, stroke, and the common cold.

And mint, which adds a tasty zest to any dish, has been used to relieve abdominal pains, bad breath, and sore throats.

Detox Water with Cucumber and Citrus (makes 4-6 servings)

  •  8-10 cups of filtered water
  •  1 cucumber
  •  1 lemon
  •  1 large navel orange
  •  1 lime
  •  ~15 mint leaves
  •  4-6 glass jars with lids

Cut the cucumber and fruits into slices and distribute evenly among the jars. Add 3-4 mint leaves to each jar and seal. Refrigerate.  Enjoy your detox water with cucumber and citrus after the jars have soaked for at least several hours or overnight.

 

Bill Rawls, MD is an advocate for individuals with fibromyalgia and related conditions. Board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Rawls has always focused his practice on health and wellness. After experiencing fibromyalgia and Lyme disease first hand, he shifted toward helping others with those conditions. He uses his passions for writing and study of natural herbal medicine to reach out to those left behind by the current healthcare system. Through books and health restoration protocols available through Vital Plan, he paves the way toward a better life. His latest book, Suffered Long Enough, puts the pieces together for fibromyalgia and Lyme disease sufferers and offers a safe pathway back to normal health.

Lifestyle Advice for Would-be Centenarians

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Which are the characteristics shared by people who live to 100? For the past 50 years, researchers in Sweden have followed the health of 855 men born in 1913. Ten of the subjects lived to 100. What were the secrets of their longevity? Some were factors you can affect, and some you cannot, but all the centanarians shared one feature: They were all slim and had good posture. More details below.

Over the past half century, the University Gothenburg has hosted one of the world's first prospective studies of aging. The subjects are 855 Gothenburg men born in 1913.

The first surveys were conducted in 1963. Now that it has been determined that ten of the men lived to 100, the study is being wrapped up.

Promotes Longevity

Various surveys at the age of 54, 60, 65, 75, 80 and 100 permitted the researchers to consider the factors that appear to promote longevity.

A total of 27% (232) of the original group lived to the age of 80 and 13% (111) to 90. All in all, 1.1% of the subjects made it to their 100th birthday.

According to the study, 42% of deaths after the age of 80 were due to cardiovascular disease, 20% to infectious diseases, 8% to stroke, 8% to cancer, 6% to pneumonia and 16% to other causes.

A total of 23% of the over-80 group were diagnosed with some type of dementia.

Unique Design

"The unique design has enabled us to identify the factors that influence survival after the age of 50," says Lars Wilhelmsen, who has been involved in the study for the past 50 years. "Our recommendation for people who aspire to centenarians is to refrain from smoking, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and confine themselves to four cups of coffee a day."

Correlation with the Mother’s Age

It also helps if you paid a high rent for a flat or owing a house at age 50 (indicating good socio-economic standard), enjoy robust working capacity at a bicycle test when you are 54 and have a mother who lived for a long time.

"Our findings that there is a correlation with maternal but not paternal longevity are fully consistent with previous studies," Dr. Wilhelmsen says. "Given that the same associations have been demonstrated in Hawaii, the genetic factor appears to be a strong one." But still we found that this "genetic factor" was weaker than the other factors. So factors that can be influenced are important for a long life.

No Smokers

Two of the 100-year-olds dropped out of the study due to dementia and one for personal reasons. Facts about the other seven:

• Two lived at home and five in assisted living facilities

• None of them smoked

• All of them exhibited good temporal and spatial cognition

• All of them wore hearing aids

• Most of them wore glasses, were able to read and watch TV

• All of them were slim and had good postures

• All of them used walkers

"Normally we conducted the surveys at hospitals, but we visited the seven centenarians at home," Dr. Wilhelmsen says. All of them were clinically healthy, satisfied with their circumstances and pleased to be living where they were."

How the Brain Continually Changes and Reorganizes Itself

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By Gary Weber -

Until the 1970s, it was strongly believed in the emerging neuroscientific community that there were two certainties: 1) the brain and its neurons were fixed and could not be modified, and 2) it was impossible for new neurons to manifest.

There had been, however, early experiments that demonstrated that this view was wrong. In 1793 (yes, 1793), an Italian, Michele Vincenzo Malacarne, had paired animals, and then trained one of the pairs extensively for years.  He found that the cerebellums of the trained animals were significantly larger, but this research was ignored as it was just too controversial.

More experiments were done with rhesus monkeys in the 1960s demonstrating training changes in neuronal pathways, but this was also disregarded. However, the evidence continued to mount.

The game-changing demonstration, the equivalent of the "double slit" experiment in quantum physics, was by the late Paul Bach-y-Rita (PBR). PBR's father, a poet, had a massive paralyzing stroke. Paul's brother George, did not accept the prognosis that there was nothing that could be done.

George began rehabilitating his father (good video) starting with crawling on the floor, then doing household tasks, to relearn his functions  -- a revolutionary approach at the time.  After 3 years, his father had made a miraculous recovery, went back to work and remarried and when he died, it was from a heart attack while mountain climbing. This discovery transformed how stroke victims are rehabilitated.

PBR, a neurologist, looked at his father's autopsied brain scans and found that 97% of the links between the cortex and spine were still broken.  The brain had somehow neuroplastically changed its patterns, but his scientific colleagues were unconvinced, so he decided to make a definitive demonstration.

PBR found that the blind could see by having another sense, like touch, using information coming from the skin, provide the input. He built a device with 400 small pins pressing against the blind person's back, and then had a TV camera relay visual information to the pins, replacing the retinal pixels. The touch pixilation, amazingly, is actually processed by the visual cortex into an image, previously thought impossible – a stunning example of neuroplasticity.

From this, a compact form, the Brainport, was developed, in which the sensors were placed on the tongue and a small head cam replaced the TV camera.  The video shows how quickly blind folk learned how to identify objects and walk around easily.

Wilder Penfield spent years finding where different parts of the body were represented and processed on the cerebral cortex, particularly the sensory and motor regions in what became known as "brain mapping." During brain surgery, Penfield discovered that when he touched a patient's sensory brain map, that it triggered sensations in the body. In the motor cortex, touching an area triggered movements in a leg, arm, face, etc.

He also discovered that brain maps were topographical, i.e. areas adjacent to each other on the body surface are generally adjacent on the brain maps.  Penfield also discovered that when certain parts of the brain were touched, long-lost memories or dreams were triggered.

This opened the way for Michael Merzenich, a neuroscience professor @ UCSF, known as "the world's leading researcher on brain plasticity." Merzenich radically claimed that: a) brain exercises may be as useful as drugs for diseases like schizophrenia, b) plasticity exists from cradle to grave, and c) radical improvements can be made in cognitive functioning even in the elderly and autistic.

Working with brain mapping, Merzenich showed that practicing a new skill, under the right conditions, could change hundreds of millions and possibly billions of connections between neurons.  Using this, he developed programs for the learning-disabled, including autistic folk, to improve cognition and perception as well as the cochlear implant which allows congenitally deaf children to hear.

Creating microelectrodes which could detect when an individual neuron fired (1000X more precise than current brain scans), Merzenich found that these maps, considered immutable and universal, changed shape depending upon what we do.

Hubel and Wiesel soon found that there was a "critical period" in very young animals when the brain is "plastic" and shaped by specific experiences, which is when the brain sets up its basic processing machinery. They also found that the brain does not waste any unused "cortical real estate" but rewires itself to find a new use for that real estate. For these discoveries Hubel and Wiesel received the Nobel Prize.

The entire process of promoting nerve growth appears to be done by the appropriately-named, nerve growth factors (NGF), for which its finders Levi-Montalcini and Cohen, received the Nobel Prize.  A specific one, BDNF, plays a crucial role in reinforcing plastic changes made during the critical period.

Getting neurons to fire together, as described by the Hebbian theory's neurons that fire together wire together, (and neurons that fire apart, wire apart) as well as allowing us to focus our attention, is also done by BDNF as is the "closing down" of the critical period.

Mezernich later proved that the "critical period" is followed by the "adult plasticity" period, when the brain refines this machinery as it masters a wider repertoire of skills and abilities.

He also found that when it came to allocating brain-processing power, brain maps were governed by competition for resources and the principle of "use it or lose it."

This manifests in an "endless war of nerves (neurons) going on inside each of our brains." If we stop exercising our mental skills, the brain map space for those skills is turned over to the skills we practice instead, in a battle of "competitive plasticity."

Competitive plasticity also explains why our bad habits are so difficult to break or "unlearn." When we learn a "bad habit" it takes over a brain map, and each time we repeat it, it gains more control and real estate.  In learning, the brain secretes dopamine and acetylcholine to consolidate the map changes just made. That is why "unlearning" is often a lot harder than learning.  (And why deconstructing/unlearning the ego/I is so difficult.)

Mezernich also found that animals of a particular species may have similar maps, but they are never identical, and the maps of normal body parts change every few weeks.  Every time he mapped a monkey's face, it was different.

The well-known phenomena of the difficulty of learning a second language is also explained by this competitive plasticity. As we age, the more we use our "native" language, the more it comes to dominate the linguistic map space.

If we learn the second language during our critical period, then it gains a "foothold" and brain scans show that all of the sounds of the two languages share a single large map. If we don't learn the second language until the "adult plasticity" period, then it is harder to "break into" the linguistic map as the native language dominates the map.

As we learn our "native" language, we also learn its subject/doer - verb/doing - object/done to, structure which virtually all human languages have. This is where the I/ego is implanted, along with the sense of a "doer" with "free will." As with a second language, that is why this construct is so difficult to dislodge as we come to nondual spiritual practices well into the "adult plasticity" period, after the linguistic map space is well defined.

These neuroplastic understandings can be applied to autism, learning, aging, addictions, spiritual practice, etc.

An excellent source book on neuroplasticity is The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, a NY Times bestseller featured on PBS's "The Brain Fitness Program."

Reprinted with permission from http://happinessbeyondthought.blogspot.com/

Gary Weber has a Ph.D. in physical sciences and worked in national labs, industry, and academia in R&D and management. Simultaneously, after over 20,000 hours of self-inquiry, Zen and yoga, he experienced the falling away of the “I” and the loss of self-referential thoughts, desires and fears. Since then, he has taught, authored three books, a blog and several articles, and made numerous videos, interviews, and presentations on nonduality, meditation and neuroscience at various conferences and universities world-wide. He has been a subject and/or collaborator in cognitive neuroscience and meditation studies at Baumann Institute, IONS, CSNSC, Yale, and Johns Hopkins.    

4 Surprising Facts about Longevity

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By Hiyaguha Cohen -

Have you ever noticed that in spite of the media blitz urging you to eat veggies and pump weights, some of the most health-conscious people you know seem to keel over at an early age, while others who eat junk and live fast keep on kicking up until their 90s? Perhaps it's because when it comes to longevity, psychology matters at least as much as biology. Consider the results of these four surprising studies looking at what controls longevity:

1. Attitudes about aging are more important than diet or exercise in extending your life. A study out of Yale University in 2002 followed 650 people, and found that those who had a positive outlook about their own aging outlived those with negative views by 7.5 years, on average, regardless of pre-existing health problems, lifestyle factors, socioeconomic status, or gender. In fact, the study found that attitude was the single most important factor in predicting longevity, after controlling for age. Another study in Norway found that the most optimistic subjects were 77 percent less likely to die of a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular cause than the most pessimistic subjects, regardless of weight, pre-existing cardiovascular issues, smoking, and so on.

2. Having a network of good friends increases lifespan significantly; family doesn't. The Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging looked at 1500 people aged 70 or older, and found that those with an extensive circle of friends outlived those with the fewest friends by 22 percent. Having family around did not increase lifespan.

3. Continued schooling prolongs life. A 1999 study from Columbia University determined that ongoing education increases lifespan even more than having good medical care. Another study found that "each additional year of schooling for men in the U.S. is associated with an 8 percent reduction in mortality."

4. Finding meaning after loss is high on the longevity list. I heard years ago that the most significant factor in life extension--even more important than diet or exercise--is the ability to find meaning after losing loved ones. This becomes increasingly important with each passing year as we age, because inevitably, our friends and dear ones will start dying.

I'm not advising you to start gorging on chips and cupcakes--diet and exercise certainly do matter in life extension. But if you want to have a long, healthy, happy life--wheatgrass and aerobics alone won't do it. You need to cultivate friends, keep on learning, engage in activities that truly interest you, and find the gold in the process of getting older--and there is much to celebrate in the aging process. If you feel that you're stuck--that you just can't adjust your attitude or find the magic anymore or get yourself moving--consider getting some life coaching.

 

Hiyaguha Cohen holds an MFA in Writing and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Professional Coaching. Her book-length publications include Boldly Live as You've Never Lived Before: Life Lessons from Star Trek (William Morrow/Avon Books, 1995), and The No-Pain Resume Workbook (Business One Irwin, 1992), and she has been a contributing editor to health books such as ShrinkYourself: Break Free from Emotional Eating Forever (by Dr. Roger Gould) and Rodale Press publications. She also worked on early drafts of The Zone Diet with Barry Sears. In addition to her work as a writer, Dr. Cohen maintains a life-coaching practice utilizing energy-meridian healing modalities such as TAT to help clients release unproductive patterns and past traumas, and also works with people on weight-control issues. She has completed nine marathons and lives in Kauai. http://thelifechangecoach.com/

Accessing Your Inner Guidance

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By Hiyaguha Cohen -

Let's face it: most of us would like to wake up one morning to find a note from God on the night table telling us exactly what we should be doing. This is especially true when things go wrong, when we have a difficult choice to make. We want answers, clarity. And since that note from God doesn't show up even after we implore the heavens, we turn to anyone with an opinion--psychics, therapists, clergy, spouses and so on --seeking advice, seeking answers.

And getting advice is good--except that in collecting everybody else's opinion, you may forget to consult the most important source of wisdom and insight and knowledge--yourself. I truly believe that each of us holds the ultimate wisdom for ourselves. We just need to learn how to access that wisdom and be fearless when answers come.

Here are a few techniques that might help you to discern your own inner voice:

1. Notice when your heart lights up. Look around your room and when you see something that you love, pay attention to all the sensations that thing elicits in you. Mentally describe how that object makes you feel, giving words to the sensations and writing your words down. Now look around for something that turns you off and do the same thing. Try repeating this in a room full of people, noting how your body reacts to people who draw you and people who repulse you. Use your reactions as a blueprint for creating your psychic radar device, letting it guide you to those things that light you up and away from those that make you uncomfortable whenever you need to make a decision, large or small.

2. Pay attention to your solar plexus. When you can't tell how you feel about something, put your hand over your solar plexus and quickly ask yourself, "Do I like/want this thing?" See if you get a hint of a "uh huh" or a "no."

3. Clear your mind and invoke. Pray, meditate, listen to music, walk in nature--do whatever helps you to clear your mind and go to that calm place within yourself. Once you reach that state, take out a notebook and try not to think. Just pose your question and start writing. Some of you may feel that the Divine guides your hand; for others, it will clearly feel like your own inner wisdom writes through you. It doesn't matter--the results will probably astound you. This method really works!

Once you get some hints that shed light on your dilemma, it makes sense to also draw on the wisdom of others. That's the time to assemble your support team for validation and to deepen your insights. But, of course, if the above methods don't work--don't wait. Reach out! Sometimes we do need others to lead us back to ourselves.

 

Hiyaguha Cohen holds an MFA in Writing and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Professional Coaching. Her book-length publications include Boldly Live as You've Never Lived Before: Life Lessons from Star Trek (William Morrow/Avon Books, 1995), and The No-Pain Resume Workbook (Business One Irwin, 1992), and she has been a contributing editor to health books such as ShrinkYourself: Break Free from Emotional Eating Forever (by Dr. Roger Gould) and Rodale Press publications. She also worked on early drafts of The Zone Diet with Barry Sears. In addition to her work as a writer, Dr. Cohen maintains a life-coaching practice utilizing energy-meridian healing modalities such as TAT to help clients release unproductive patterns and past traumas, and also works with people on weight-control issues. She has completed nine marathons and lives in Kauai. http://thelifechangecoach.com/

The Health Benefits of Homemade Ginger Tea

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By Dr. Bill Rawls - 

Ginger tea is possibly the most healthful beverage choice on the planet. Not only does it soothe the stomach, but it also reduces inflammation in the body and suppresses viruses.

These properties make it the ideal beverage choice when you have a cold or flu, but you don’t have to wait until you come down with something to drink ginger tea. Ginger tea can be enjoyed hot or cold, and the health benefits ring through year round.

A few of the many reasons to drink ginger tea:

Settle an upset stomach

Drinking ginger tea several times a day can help to settle your stomach and resolve any gastric inflammation present. Ginger also offers excellent antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

Enhance normal gastrointestinal function

Ginger tea is my top recommendation to patients for supporting healing in the gut. The potent anti-inflammatory substances found in ginger reduce inflammation in the body but are especially beneficial for healing inflammation in the stomach and intestines. It is especially ideal for chronic conditions like fibromyalgia that are almost always accompanied by digestive problems and food sensitivities.

Reduce inflammation in the body

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be very helpful for individuals recovering from chronic illnesses that are defined by inflammation, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease.  Ginger is also known to reduce Herxheimer reactions associated with Lyme disease recovery because it works to reduce inflammation in the body.

Support the immune system

Fresh ginger has potent antiviral properties and can be very effective for suppressing viruses. Ginger is also a potent synergist, meaning it helps other herbs to work better. When combined with Immune Advantage™, a blend of science-backed ingredients for strengthening the body’s defense system, it is possible to turn a threatening viral illness into a mild event lasting only a couple of days.

Make your own ginger tea in 20 minutes!

1. Peel 1 large piece of ginger root by scraping it with the edge of a spoon and slice/chop into small pieces. Pieces should be enough for a significant handful.

2. Pour 1 gallon of water (preferably filtered spring water) into a large pot and add the ginger pieces. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. You’ll smell the ginger when its ready!

4. Turn up the flavor with these (optional) variations:

- Sweeten with honey, stevia, or sugar. Stir and allow sweetener to dissolve.

- Brew tea bags during the simmering process – green, black and chamomile tea are all good choices.

- Add a cinnamon stick, a pinch of cayenne pepper, or mint leaves

- Add a squeeze of lemon (wait until tea has cooled a bit).

All healing processes in the body are accelerated with regular consumption of ginger tea, so it’s time to make this beverage a part of your daily routine!

 

 

Reprinted with permission from Vital Plan.

 

 

Bill Rawls, MD is an advocate for individuals with fibromyalgia and related conditions. Board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Rawls has always focused his practice on health and wellness. After experiencing fibromyalgia and Lyme disease first hand, he shifted toward helping others with those conditions. He uses his passions for writing and study of natural herbal medicine to reach out to those left behind by the current healthcare system. Through books and health restoration protocols available through Vital Plan, he paves the way toward a better life. His latest book, Suffered Long Enough, puts the pieces together for fibromyalgia and Lyme disease sufferers and offers a safe pathway back to normal health.

Awe-Inspiring Wonders and Health

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Written by Jon Barron or staff member at The Baseline of Health Foundation - 

If you've ever seen the sun set in all its incredible hues over the ocean or walked through a tropical forest where people are far outnumbered by creatures, you understand the majesty that can be found in nature. Similar feelings can arise from getting a chance to behold incredible artwork or becoming swept up in a profound spiritual moment. These experiences, and the awe they produce, can feed the soul. And now, new research suggests they may very well make a positive difference in the body as well.

The study, which took place at the University of California, Berkeley, found that the positive emotions we experience when exposed to nature, art, and spirituality may result in an anti-inflammatory effect within the body and offer some measure of disease protection.(1) The subjects were more than 200 young adults who participated in one of two identical but separate trials.

The volunteers were interviewed about the extent of the positive emotions they felt that particular day. The emotions were defined as love, joy, pride, awe, amusement, compassion, and contentment. In addition, the same day that the subjects went to the lab and discussed their feelings, the scientists took small samples of tissue from their cheeks and gums. The samples were used to assess the levels of cytokines present in each person's body on that day.

Cytokines are chemicals released by cells of the immune system that, among other things, trigger inflammation. This is important as we use inflammation to help repair injuries and overcome illnesses and infections. However, when cytokine levels are chronically elevated due to an immune system that is out of balance, the chronic inflammation that results is very damaging over time. Evidence has been found that it may contribute to cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer's disease, and depression.

But back to the study. When the researchers tested the participants' tissue samples, they discovered that the individuals who registered positive emotions that day had corresponding lower cytokine levels. This was the case in both of the experiment's trials. And with decreased levels of cytokines there comes reduced inflammation throughout the body.

While it is harder to measure emotions than more tangible physiological responses, we do know that our mental and emotional well-being is tied closely to our physical health in other ways. Jon Barron devoted an entire chapter of his book, Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, to the subject: The Thought that Kills. And a 2011 study at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, found that depression may lead to a higher risk of heart disease.(2) So it only makes sense that our emotions can affect us in positive ways as well. The new research appears to add to the growing body of evidence of just how much our feelings can affect our health. One example was a 2013 study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that showed experiencing affirmative emotions was associated with improvements in heart rate and breathing patterns that benefit coronary health.(3) With daily doses of positive thinking, we might very well reduce stress levels, as well as inflammation levels, and reverse some of the damage they cause over the long term.

Obviously, it is fairly difficult to attempt to quantify certain emotions. It's also worth considering that what might impact one person significantly might only be a fleeting thought to another. For example, visiting a museum and looking at an original Picasso might inspire awe and profound feelings within some individuals, whereas others think, "That's a piece of ….."

In other words, not everything is breathtaking to everyone, and it's up to each of us to figure out what it is that produces these emotions in ourselves. Remember also that the researchers listed among the essential feelings love, pride, compassion, and contentment, so it's probably not necessary to travel thousands of miles to the Taj Mahal to evoke the right reaction; your significant other, child, or dog might elicit strong enough emotions to do the trick. Whether it's derived from a passionate sermon, a walk on a mountain, or simply holding the hand of someone you care for, let yourself appreciate these moments and make sure they're not few and far between.

Material originally published at www.jonbarron.org.
Copyright © 1999-2015. Baseline of Health® Foundation
Used by permission of the Baseline of Health® Foundation.
All rights reserved worldwide.

Sources:
1. Gregoire, Carolyn. "Experiences Of Art, Nature And Spirituality May Help Prevent Disease, Study Finds." Huffington Post. 4 February 2015. Accessed 11 February 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/04/natural-anti-inflammatori_n_6613754.html

2. Gordon, Jennifer L.; et al. "The effect of major depression on post exercise cardiovascular recovery." Psychophysiology. 1 August 2011. Accessed 12 February 2015. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2011.01232.x/abstract

3. Kok, Bethany E.; et al. "How Positive Emotions Build Physical Health." Psychological Science. 6 May 2013. Accessed 12 February 2015. http://pss.sagepub.com/content/24/7/1123.abstract

6 Inspiring Quotes That Can Change Your Life

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By Anna Gragert -

When I am having a rough day—when I feel tired, sad, doubtful, or stressed—I spend time looking up inspirational quotes.

I’ve memorized several, pulling them out when need be. These quotes are simple but they can help me turn a bad day around.

Short and sweet, here they are…

“When you have a bad day, a really bad day, try and treat the world better than it treated you.” ~Patrick Stump

When I’m traveling around with my own personal dark cloud, I sometimes forget to be kind to others.

I get so wrapped up in my own problems that I forget that I’m only a small part of a much greater world, a world filled with beauty, love, and light. There is so much to be grateful for.

The best way to get over a bad day is to go out of your way to make others happy. This quote inspires me to smile at those I pass, hug those I love, and do all that I can to make sure that others never feel alone.

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” ~John Steinbeck

I’m guilty of staying up at night and worrying. I lose track of time, allowing my mind to get away from me.

Whenever this happens, I remember this quote and tell myself, “Everything is going to be okay. It will all work out. Good things take time. If I go to sleep now, I will dream of sweet things and I can deal with it all in the morning.” That always does the trick.

When you give yourself the freedom to rest your body and mind, it not only makes your problems seem less urgent, it gives you the time and space you need to calmly approach the situation.

“Whenever one person stands up and says, ‘Wait a minute, this is wrong,’ it helps other people do the same.” ~Gloria Steinem

I’m known for being quiet, for not jumping at the chance to speak my mind. I’ve always had trouble standing up for myself and for what I believe in.

When these moments of self-doubt rear their ugly heads, I remember that standing up for something can inspire others to raise their voices as well. In other words, my bravery can cause a chain reaction.

We often feel as if we are alone in our thoughts, feelings, and opinions. We’re afraid that our situations are unique and unimportant.

Having the courage to raise your voice can dissipate such fears because it allows you to connect with other people. It gives others the opportunity to exclaim, “Me too! I thought I was the only one!” and eliminate any and all feelings of being alone.

“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter and became Picasso.” ~Pablo Picasso

I’m the type of person that worries way too much about what others think. In fact, I have to resist the urge to rise to others’ expectations instead of my own.

Knowing that Picasso (one of my favorite artists) dared to be different is not only inspiring, it reminds me that all that matters is that I believe in myself. If I have faith in doing what I love, then good things will come in time.

If you take a chance on doing what you love instead of simply following the status quo and always questioning, “What if?” your life will hold more meaning, more happiness, and more love.

“I saw that worrying had come to nothing and gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning, and sang.” ~Mary Oliver

Letting go is something that we need to do more often. We need to let go of the people that weigh us down and the worries that keep our minds in a state of constant unease.

I love the idea of simply letting go, feeling free, going out into the morning light, and singing. Just thinking about this lovely combination instantly makes me feel calm.

It’s common to forget that we have the power to create change. We have the power to open our front door and take on the world. The amount of things that we can do is infinite, but first we need to let go of what weighs us down and simply be.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~Winston Churchill

And last but not least is my all-time favorite quote. This has gotten me through countless presentations, public speaking engagements, rejections, and downright horrible days.

When I graduated from high school, I was scheduled to speak as the salutatorian of my class. I was terrified of messing up and of what my peers would think of me. For a while I thought about not going at all.

Then I started repeating this quote in my head. It became my mantra for the entire week before graduation. It helped me realize that giving up on myself would be a lot worse than giving in to my fear of failure. I realized that as long as I made my speech, I would not fail.

As long as we give ourselves a fair chance, we will triumph. We will learn from our mistakes, we will gain confidence in the face of self-doubt, and we will be able to smile and state, “I did it!”

A favorite quote can tell a lot about a person. It can also spread inspiration, positivity, and just plain joy.

What’s your favorite quote, and how has it changed your life?

This post was republished with permission from tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post here.


When Anna Gragert isn't trying to create a groundbreaking bio for herself, she's writing, taking photographs, blogging, catering to her little black cat, or putting the finishing touches on her Audrey Hepburn shrine.

 

 

 

 

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