We all live lives rich in relationships and punctuated with emotion. Lovers arrive, bringing gifts of passion and tenderness, and then exit, marking their passage with anger and sadness. Children flash into being, evoking previously unimaginable exhilaration and exhaustion. Friends and family members tread parallel paths, sharing our emotions, and then pass on, leaving grief and memories in their wake.
Across all our relationship experiences, what balances out our anger and grief is our joy. All human beings share the capacity to relish intense joy and the desire to maintain such happiness in an impermanent and ever-changing world. Also universal is the fact that our personal joy is determined by the quality of our interpersonal connections. When our relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and romantic partners are happy, we are happy, and when they’re not, we’re not.
Yet, joy doesn’t drop magically from the sky into our hearts and minds and stay there. We create joy – through every decision we make and every thought, word, and deed. When we manage our emotional experiences and communication poorly, the interpersonal sorrows we wreak on others reflect back on us in the form of personal unhappiness. When we steadfastly and skillfully manage our emotions, the positive relationship outcomes we create multiply, and with them, our happiness and the joy of those who surround us.
I encourage all of you to keep this thought in mind:
We create joy – through every decision we make and every thought, word, and deed.
I have googled many other list, and I have taken health courses, and I have spoke with several nutrionists, and this is what I’ve come up with. I base my daily diet around these foods…and I’m a happy camper! You could be too, and it all begins with what you consume. Happy eating!
Almonds are a source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high-quality protein; they also contain high levels of healthy unsaturated fatty acids along with high levels of bioactive molecules (such as fiber, phytosterols, vitamins, other minerals, and antioxidants), which may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
The fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient content in blueberries supports heart health. The absence of cholesterol from blueberries is also beneficial to the heart. Fiber content helps to reduce the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s. Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
One cup of raw spinach contains:
0.86 grams of protein.
30 milligrams of calcium.
0.81 grams of iron.
24 milligrams of magnesium.
167 milligrams of potassium.
2,813 micrograms of Vitamin A.
58 micrograms of folate.
Salmon (Wild Alaskan)
Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. …
Great Source of Protein. …
High in B Vitamins. …
Good Source of Potassium. …
Loaded with Selenium. …
Contains the Antioxidant Astaxanthin. …
May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease. …
May Benefit Weight Control.
Benefits. Carrots contain vitamin A, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Evidence suggests that eating more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, can help reduce the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Carrots are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Avocado is Incredibly Nutritious. …
They Contain More Potassium Than Bananas. …
Avocado is Loaded with Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids. …
Avocados Are Loaded with Fiber. …
Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels.
Lentils add essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber to the diet, and they provide protein and sustenance that can replace meat in meals. When meat, a major source of saturated and trans fats in the diet, is replaced with a high-fiber food like lentils, the risk for heart disease is further decreased.
The fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient content of black beans, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health. This fiber helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease.
After you look and/or listen to these songs, let us know what song(s) you would put on this list. Let me know if you agree/disagree, what song is missing that I didn’t put on the list. Have fun! And remember, don’t worry, be happy!!!
What makes a country happy? The United Nations considers the answer with its annual World Happiness Report, ranking a total of 156 countries. Key ingredients for well-being include longer healthy years of life, more social support, trust in government, higher GDP per capita, and generosity.
This year’s list hosts the same top 10 countries as 2017, however some managed to jump the ranks while others fell. Most notably, Finland jumped from fourth place to first this year, snatching the title from Norway. Finland also has happiest immigrants, a new special focus of this year’s report.
While the experiences of tourists were not considered specifically, the report sets a standard for blissful places to visit. After all, aren’t smiles contagious?
After your done reading about these happy countries, please reply and let us know why your country is one of the happiest places to live. Also, for interactive fun you can click the link (Find out which country is for you). Scroll down my home page, and on the right-hand side you’ll see the link. Have fun!
Here are the happiest countries in the world and some of what makes them unique.
How’s Life in Finland?
Finns take their soak time so seriously, there are an estimated two million saunas in the country with a population of 5.3 million. Finland also had the happiest immigrants, a special focus of this year’s report. Happiness or subjective well-being can be measured in terms of life satisfaction, the presence of positive experiences and feelings, and the absence of negative experiences and feelings. Such measures, while subjective, are a useful complement to objective data to compare the quality of life across countries.
Life satisfaction measures how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Finns on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5.
In general, Finland performs well across the different well-being dimensions relative to other OECD countries. Despite levels of household net adjusted disposable income and household net wealth that fall below the OECD average, Finland benefits from comparatively low levels of both job strain and labour market insecurity. Only around 4% of Finnish employees regularly work very long hours, approximately one-third of the OECD average level, but time off (i.e. time spent on leisure and personal care) is close to the average. Finland performs very well in terms of education and skills as well as social support: 95% of Finns report having friends or relatives whom they can count on in times of trouble, compared to the OECD average of 89%. Air and water quality are both areas of comparative strength, and in 2013, life satisfaction in Finland was among the highest in the OECD. However, housing affordability is below the OECD average, and despite having a comparatively high share of people who feel that they have a say in what the government does (47%, compared to 33% for the OECD on average), Finland has a mid-ranking level of voter turnout.
How’s Life in Norway?
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Norwegians on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5. Norway is a premiere destination to view the dancing lights of the aurora borealis. In ancient times, people believed the glowing lights were sent from the gods.
Relative to other OECD countries, Norway performs very well across the OECD’s different well-being indicators and dimensions. Job strain and long-term unemployment are among the lowest in the OECD, while average earnings and the employment rate are in the top third of the OECD countries. Only around 3% of employees regularly worked long hours in 2016, well below the OECD average of 13%, and full-time employees report having more time off (i.e. time spent on leisure and personal care) than the OECD average. In 2015, the average household net adjusted disposable income was among the highest in the OECD, but household net wealth stood below the OECD average. Housing conditions and many dimensions of quality of life are good in Norway. For example, the homicide rate is very low, and almost 88% of Norwegians report that they feel safe walking alone at night, one of the highest shares in the OECD. Meanwhile, 49% of Norwegians feel that they have a say in what the government does, well above the OECD average of 33%.
How’s Life in Denmark?
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Danes on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5. The city of Copenhagen was built for bicyclists. A third of Copenhageners commute to work daily on 217 miles (350 km) of paths and lanes that stretch across the city.
Relative to other OECD countries, Denmark generally performs very well across the different well-being dimensions. Although average household net adjusted disposable income is just below the OECD average, Denmark is among the top tier of OECD countries in terms of both earnings and the employment rate. Denmark also benefits from low levels of both labour market insecurity and job strain, and only 2% of employees regularly work very long hours, one of the lowest percentages in the OECD. Civic engagement and governance is also an area of comparative strength: Denmark has both a high voter turnout and a high share of people who feel they have a say in what the government does. Social support is also very high, with 95% of people reporting that they have friends or relatives whom they can count on in times of trouble, compared to the OECD average of 89%. However, housing affordability is an area of weakness: the average household in Denmark spends 24% of its disposable income on housing costs, well above the OECD average of 21%
How’s Life in Iceland?
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Icelanders on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5. This country is known as “The Land of Fire and Ice” because of the glaciers and volcanoes that make up the landscape. Iceland’s Vatnajökull—Europe’s largest glacier—is a piece of ice the size of Puerto Rico.
In general, Iceland performs well across the different well-being dimensions relative to other OECD countries. 86% of the Icelandic population aged 15-64 was in employment in 2016, the largest share in the OECD, and average earnings are in the top tier of the OECD. Iceland is the OECD’s top performer in terms of environmental quality: air quality (measured as average exposure to PM2.5 air pollution) is the best in the OECD, and almost everybody in Iceland is satisfied with their local water quality. 98% of Icelanders report that they have friends or relatives whom they can count on in times of trouble, the highest share in the OECD. Personal security and life satisfaction are also areas of comparative strength. In terms of housing conditions, access to basic sanitation is high, but Icelanders spend a higher proportion of their disposable income on housing costs (24%) relative to the OECD average (21%), making housing affordability in Iceland a clear area of comparative weakness.
How’s Life in Switzerland?
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Swiss people on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5. According to the International Cocoa Organization, the Swiss eat an estimated 11 kg of chocolate a year.
On average, Switzerland performs well across the OECD’s headline well-being indicators relative to other OECD countries. Average household net adjusted disposable income, earnings and employment are among the highest in the OECD. Life expectancy at birth, at 83 years in 2015, was one of the highest in the OECD, while 80% of Swiss people perceived their health as “good” or “very good”, 11 percentage points above the OECD average. In terms of housing conditions and environmental quality, Switzerland’s performance is mixed. For example, while access to basic sanitation is good, housing affordability was low in 2015, and although 96% of Swiss people are satisfied with their local water quality, air quality (measured as the average concentration of PM2.5 in the air) is worse than the OECD average. Switzerland’s voter turnout for national parliamentary elections stood at only 49% in 2015, the lowest voter turnout in the OECD; this, however, does not take into account Switzerland’s highly participatory form of direct democracy.
How’s Life in the Netherlands?
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Dutch people on average gave it a 7.4 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. Amsterdam actually has 1281 bridges, three times as many as Venice.
In general, the Netherlands performs well across the OECD’s headline well-being indicators relative to the other OECD countries. Household net wealth was about half of the OECD average level in 2015, but average earnings (around 53 000 USD in 2016) are nearly 20% higher than the OECD average. The Netherlands benefits from comparatively low levels of both labour market insecurity and job strain. In addition, less than 1% of employees regularly work very long hours, the lowest share in the OECD. However, the long-term unemployment rate in 2016 stood at 3%, above the OECD average of 2.3%. Housing conditions in the Netherlands are good, but air quality (assessed in terms of exposure to PM2.5 air pollution) is close to the OECD average. 77% of the adult working-age population have completed at least an upper secondary education, compared to the OECD average of 75%, and the literacy and numeracy skills of Dutch adults are among the highest in the OECD. Personal security is also good, and life satisfaction is just above the OECD average level.
How’s Life in Canada?
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Canadians on average gave it a 7.3 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. Canada’s forest cover represents 30 percent of the world’s boreal forest and 10 percent of the world’s overall forest cover. Unsurprisingly, Canada’s air quality is among the best in the world.
Canada typically performs above the OECD average level across most of the different well-indicators shown below. It falls within the top tier of OECD countries on household net wealth, the employment rate is high (73% in 2016), the long-term unemployment rate is low (0.8% in 2016) and fewer than 4% of employees usually work 50 hours or more per week, less than a third of the OECD average rate. However, full-time employees on average reported having less time off (i.e. time spent on leisure and personal care) than those in most other OECD countries. Housing conditions are generally good, but housing affordability stood below the OECD average in 2016. The average Canadian enjoys relatively good air and water quality, and both feelings of security and life satisfaction are among the highest in the OECD area. A high share of Canadians also report good levels of perceived health, although these data are not directly comparable with those of the other OECD countries, due to a difference in the reporting scale.
8) New Zealand
How’s Life in New Zealand?
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, New Zealanders on average gave it a 7.3 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. No part of this island nation is more than 128km from the sea. New Zealand is also home to unique penguin species, including the yellow-eyed penguin, the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin, and the little blue penguin—the world’s smallest.
On average, New Zealand performs well across the different well-being indicators and dimensions relative to other OECD countries. It has higher employment and lower long-term unemployment than the OECD average, and benefits from lower-than-average levels of labour market insecurity and job strain. Reported social support is also one of the highest in the OECD. While New Zealand’s environmental quality is high, its performance is mixed in terms of personal security and housing conditions. Although the homicide rate is low, only 65% of people in New Zealand say they feel safe walking alone at night, compared to an OECD average of 69%. While the average number of rooms per person in New Zealand’s homes is among the highest in the OECD, housing affordability is one of the worst. At 82 years, life expectancy at birth is 2 years above the OECD average. A high share of New Zealanders also report good levels of perceived health, although these data are not directly comparable with those of the other OECD countries, due to a difference in the reporting scale.
How’s Life in Sweden?
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Swedes on average gave it a 7.3 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. In Sweden, the coffee break is sacred. Swedes carve out time each day to slow down and enjoy fika, a short beverage break that can be done solo or with company.
On average, Sweden performs very well across the different well-being dimensions relative to other OECD countries. In 2016, the employment rate was one of the highest in the OECD, and only 1% of employees in Sweden regularly worked very long hours, the second-lowest share in the OECD. However, the household net adjusted disposable income and earnings are just below the OECD average levels. In terms of education and skills, 83% of the adult working-age population have attained at least an upper secondary education, compared to the OECD average of 75%, while both adult skills and students’ cognitive skills also exceed the OECD average. Civic engagement and governance, assessed in terms of voter turnout and the percentage of adults who feel that they have a say in what the government does, are in the top third of the OECD. Sweden’s environmental quality and health status are also good, and life satisfaction was among the highest in the OECD in 2013
How’s Life in Australia?
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Australians on average gave it a 7.3 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. From the packed shores of Bondi Beach to the quiet hideaways along the Great Ocean Road, Australia has a whopping 10,685 beaches.
In general, Australia performs well across the different well-being dimensions relative to other OECD countries. Air quality is among the best in the OECD, and average household net adjusted disposable income and household net wealth were among the highest in the OECD in 2015 and 2014 respectively. Despite a good performance in jobs and earnings, Australia lies below the OECD average in terms of work-life balance: Australian full-time employees reported having 30 minutes less time off (i.e. time spent on leisure and personal care) than those in other OECD countries, and more than 13% of employees regularly worked 50 hours or more per week in 2016. In terms of personal security, despite the comparatively low homicide rate, only 64% of Australians felt safe walking alone at night, compared to the OECD average of 69% in the period 2014-16. A high share of Australians report good levels of perceived health, although these data are not directly comparable with those of the other OECD countries, due to a difference in the reporting scale.
Remember to tell us why your country is the happiest place on Earth!
There are many different kinds of intelligence, and it’s our job to discover what they are and how to integrate them into our lives. Sources of intelligence can be measured in quotients. Most of us are familiar with IQ, or the intelligence quotient, which is primarily associated with our ability to memorize, retrieve items from our memory, and our logical reasoning.
There’s also a new up and comer, CQ, or curiosity quotient, which refers to one’s ability to have a powerful motivation to learn a particular subject. What I spend much of my time in both research, and in working with clients and organizations on, is focusing on emotional intelligence.
The definition of emotional intelligence (as first advanced by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, but popularized by author Daniel Goleman in his seminal, eponymous book) is the ability to:
Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions.
Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.
In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively), and learning how to manage those emotions—both our own and others—especially when we are under pressure.
We are emotional creatures who often make decisions and respond to stimuli based on our emotions. As a result, our ability to grow in EQ has an enormous impact in all of our relationships, how we make decisions, and identify opportunities. EQ is enormously important. Through my work, I’ve identified 10 qualities that I believe comprise the emotionally intelligent person.
I hope you gain value from this and learn to understand the ways you can influence your mind, and the minds of others, by growing emotionally every day, in all that you do.
“Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.”
There are two different types of empathy. This piece from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley beautifully depicts what they are:
“Affective empathy” refers to the sensations and feelings we get in response to others’ emotions; this can include mirroring what that person is feeling, or just feeling stressed when we detect another’s fear or anxiety. “Cognitive empathy,” sometimes called “perspective taking,” refers to our ability to identify and understand other peoples’ emotions.
We empathize based on the reaction to others. What I’d also say is that empathy can be cultivated and learned through experiences. Store away in your memory those feelings that you feel both in reaction, and as you put things in perspective. Write these thoughts out, analyze them and determine how you want to treat others in the same way you’d want to be treated.
Self-awareness is the art of understanding yourself, recognizing what stimuli you’re facing and then preparing for how to manage yourself both in a proactive and reactive manner. Self-awareness is how we see ourselves, and also how we perceive others to see us. The second, external aspect, is always the most difficult to properly assess.
Dr. Tasha Eurich says:
“Leaders who focus on building both internal and external self-awareness, who seek honest feedback from loving critics, and who ask what instead of why can learn to see themselves more clearly—and reap the many rewards that increased self-knowledge delivers.”
For yourself, ask the introspective questions, yearn for knowledge and be curious. And for others, seek feedback in an honest, caring environment.
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” — Albert Einstein
Show me a curious person who’s willing to learn and improve, and I’ll show you a success story waiting to happen. When you’re curious, you’re passionate, and when you’re passionate you are driven to want to be your best. Your “antennae” are up to things you love, to wanting to grow and learn more. This learning mindset positively affects other areas of your life—like relationships.
Tomas Chamorro-Premusic writes:
“First, individuals with higher CQ are generally more tolerant of ambiguity. This nuanced, sophisticated, subtle thinking style defines the very essence of complexity. Second, CQ leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time, especially in formal domains of education, such as science and art.” Source: HBR
4. Analytical mind
The most emotionally intelligent and resolute people are deep-thinkers that analyze and process all new information that comes their way. They continue to analyze old information, habits and ways of doing things to see if they can extract ways to improve. We’re all “analysts” in the sense that we consciously think about all new information that comes our way.
Savvy EQ individuals are problem-solvers and everyday philosophers who contemplate the “why” of existence, the “why” of why we do what we do, and who care passionately about living a virtuous life. Having an analytical mind means having a healthy appetite for a continuously improving mindset geared at bettering yourself and always remaining open to new ideas.
A major component of maintaining emotional self-control is using the power of faith to believe in yourself both in the present and in the future. It’s believing that the people and things in your life are there for a reason, and that everything will ultimately work out for good.
Faith alone will not help you. It takes action, of course. But when you combine faith with powerful values like hard work, perseverance and a positive attitude, you have formed the foundation of a champion. Every great leader and thinking uses faith, either in a practical context, emotionally and certainly spiritually.
Spend time in meditation. Think about the way you believe in yourself. Engender a greater faith toward the person you are and who you want to become. And trust and believe that the pieces in your life will come together in a way that will help you live boldly and joyfully.
6. Needs and wants
The emotionally intelligent mind is able to discern between things that they need versus things that would be “nice to have” that classify more aptly as wants. A need, particularly in the context of Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” is the basic level stuff like safety, survival and sustenance. Once those things are met, then we can progress to other needs and of course, wants.
A “want” is a big house, nice car, and even the brand new iPhone. We do not need those things to survive, but rather we want them based on our own personal desires or what we perceive to matter to society. Become well-versed in knowing what you truly need to live, to accomplish goals and to support yourself and loved ones. Make sure you draw a very clear distinction between what it is you need, and what it is you want.
Emotionally intelligent people know the difference between these two things, and always establish needs prior to fulfilling wants.
Inspired leadership and love for what you do is born from having a passion for a subject or people. People with a high EQ use their passion and purpose to ignite the engine that drives them to do what they do. This passionate is infectious and contagious—it permeates all areas of their lives and rubs off on the people around them.
Passion is sort of that je ne sais quoi that when you feel it, or even when you see it in others, you simply know. Passion is the natural desire, instinct, drive, ambition and motivated love for a subject or someone. Passion brings positive energy that helps sustain us and inspire us to want to keep going. And there’s no secret that emotionally intelligent people who are passionate are also willing to persevere and power forward no matter their circumstances.
If you want to increase your opportunities, improve your relationships and think clearly and constructively, you’re best positioned to maintain a positive attitude. Of all the things that we try to control and influence, our attitude is the primary thing that is always within our control. We can choose to live each day by being positive. It’s that simple.
“When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.” — Shawn Achor
“Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Emotionally intelligent people recognize when to continue their course, and when it’s time for a change. This vitally import recognition and ability to make crisp, swift decisions in your best interest is called adaptability. You must determine when to stay the course, or when to keep moving forward in another direction.
Similarly, when one strategy is not working, try evaluating and determining if something else will work. From the way you treat yourself, to how you treat others, to your daily routine, always stay open-minded and be willing to adapt and introduce new elements to how you think and what you do.
Throughout your life, you’ll need to change course and make assessments on whether you’ll be happy and successful if you choose one path or another. Recognize that you can always change. You can always start over. It may not always be the most prudent or wise decision, but only you will truly know in your heart what is or what isn’t. Start with leaving the option on the table.
10. Desire to help others succeed and succeed for yourself
Last but not least, an emotionally intelligent person is interested in overall success and achievement—not just for themselves, but for their peers. Their inspired leadership and passion, combined with their optimism, drives them to want to do best for themselves and others.
Too often, we get so self-absorbed and concerned only with “What’s in it for me?” We have to be concerned about this. It’s a must, so don’t let anyone ever convince you otherwise. But in the same way that we should be focused on our self-interest, we should also maintain a spirit of desire and hope for wanting to see the people around us succeed.
Not only is this a brilliant safeguard against envy and greed, it also revitalizes our passion and drives us toward achieving our next goal. It helps us gain allies and builds powerful relationships that come back to help us in reciprocal fashion.
Be Realistic – Accept your basic personality, utilize your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
Appreciate What You Have – rather than focusing on what you don’t have.
Say “No”! – You’re no good to anyone if you are exhausted, resentful, and overstretched.
Say “Yes”! – List to what you want and go for it. You’ll experience more joy and pleasure in life.
Move Your Body – Stretch, strengthen, and get your heart pumping. You’ll look and feel better.
Sleep – You know how much rest you need; aim to get it.
Choose Food Wisely – Include plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit, eat some protein, and avoid excess sugar, fat, and salt. Stop eating when slightly full. Enjoy Simple, Everyday Pleasures – It will brighten each day.
Reduce Guilt – Be clear on what you can and cannot control and move on.
Live in the Present – rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Feel Your Feelings – and express them in healthy ways.
Laugh More – It’s one of the best ways to reduce tension.
Keep Hopeful – A positive attitude helps to create positive outcomes.
Try New Things – Take a risk, keep an open mind, invite spontaneity…it keeps life fresh.
Recognize When You Need Help – and ask for it.
Take Quiet Time – It’s important to reflect and contemplate.
Remember to Relax – and breathe deeply.
Communicate Openly and Honestly – to avoid conflict and confusion.
Embrace Creative Expression – Dance, music, art, and writing are powerful and magical resources.
Connect With Your “Spiritual Self” – however you define it.
Listen to Your Intuition – It has very good advice.
Follow Your Dreams – and keep dreaming … it creates happy people.
Adapted from materials provided by the Social Work Department of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Wed 23 May 2018 01.00 EDT Last modified on Wed 23 May 2018 10.54 EDT
People who eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves. Photograph: PeopleImages/Getty Images
For some, eating alone can be a joyous thing: forking mouthfuls of pasta straight from the pan, peanut butter licked off a spoon, the unbridled pleasure of walking home from the chippie alone on a cold night. But regularly eating meals in isolation is a different story. This one factor is more strongly associated with unhappiness than any other apart from (unsurprisingly) having a mental illness. This is according to a new study by Oxford Economics that found, in a survey of 8,250 British adults, that people who always eat alone score 7.9 points lower, in terms of happiness, than the national average.
This research is far from the first to suggest a link between eating with others and happiness. Researchers at the University of Oxford last year found that the more that people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives. The study also found that people who eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves and have wider social and emotional support networks.
Robin Dunbar, a professor of psychology, worked on the Oxford University study. He says that “we simply don’t know” why people who eat together are happier. But it is clear that this is a regular social ritual, a moment of union and communion in our often chaotic lives. It can be a place of conversation, storytelling and closeness.
Loneliness linked to major life setbacks for millennials, study says
“At a psychological level, having friends just makes you happier,” says Dunbar. “The kinds of things that you do around the table with other people are very good at triggering the endorphin system, which is part of the brain’s pain-management system. Endorphins are opioids, they are chemically related to morphine – they are produced by the brain and give you an opiate high. That’s what you get when you do all this social stuff, including patting, cuddling and stroking. It is central to the way primates in general bond in their social groups and relationships.”
Our face-to-face relationships are, quite literally, a matter of life or death. “One of the biggest predictors of physical and mental health problems is loneliness,” says Dr Nick Lake, joint director for psychology and psychological therapy at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. “That makes sense to people when they think of mental health. But the evidence is also clear that if you are someone who is lonely and isolated, your chance of suffering a major long-term condition such as coronary heart disease or cancer is also significantly increased, to the extent that it is almost as big a risk factor as smoking.”
One of the most striking pieces of evidence for this, says Dunbar, is a meta-analysis of 148 epidemiological studies that looked for the best predictors that patients would survive for 12 months after a heart attack. “The best two predictors, by a long way, are the number and quality of friends you have and giving up smoking,” he says. “You can eat as much as you like, you can slob about, you can drink as much alcohol as you like – the effect is very modest compared with these other two factors.”
Human beings are biologically engineered for human interaction – and particularly face-to-face interaction. One study from the University of Michigan found that replacing face-to-face contact with friends and family with messages on social media, emails or text messages could double our risk of depression. The study also found that those who made social contact with family and friends at least three times a week had the lowest level of depressive symptoms.
Loneliness is a hazard of old age. A phone call can mean a lot
“We are the most social of all the animals,” says Prof Paul Gilbert, a psychologist and the founder of compassion-focused therapy. “Our brains and our bodies are built to be regulated through interactions with others from the day that we are born.” This is not the case with many creatures, such as turtles and fish, that procreate in vast numbers. “They don’t need looking after,” says Gilbert. “Many of them will die before they reach reproductive age. The caring behaviour [associated] with mammals is a major evolutionary adaptation – it changes the brain and the physiology of the body so that a parent is interested in staying close to an infant. One of the most important things is the human capacity for soothing and engaging. So, when a mother smiles at a baby and makes eye contact, that positive emotion in the face and the voice of the mother is stimulating positivity in the child. You can see why it’s called mirroring, the baby smiles back.
“The ability to stimulate positive emotions, which is linked to happiness, begins in interactions with others who are having positive emotions about you. So, when we see our friends and they say, ‘Good to see you’ – it’s important.”
But there are many factors that might prevent us from seeing friends and family: mental ill health, immobility, a lack of money. Alison Harris is a consultant clinical psychologist and professional lead for psychological services in Salford. “Austerity has a huge influence on the loss of happiness and wellbeing,” she says. “Homelessness and unemployment in particular takes us out of contact with others. In addition to the obvious harms of homelessness, it does massively increase social isolation and anxiety. To take that even further, many people are in exile from their communities. In mental health services, we see an enormous amount of grief, depression and anxiety in people who are asylum seekers and refugees and much of that is not just due to trauma or torture or detention or fleeing from their country, but from the severe rupture of being cut off from their families and communities of origin.”
When we are around others, it has an effect on our body. Some forms of friendship – going to parties, getting married, having positive interactions with others – stimulate our sympathetic nervous system. Gilbert says that the parasympathetic nervous system (otherwise known as the “rest and digest” system) “is stimulated through the verbal and voice tone of relations with each other. As far as we know, it’s not that stimulated through texts. Generally speaking, you’re designed to respond to voice tone and expression, and stroking. We are physiologically designed for face-to-face interaction.”
Of course, for those struggling with depression, the idea of physical contact can be impossible to fathom. At those moments, the capacity to lift up a mobile phone and type out a text is an enormous mark of progress. It may not be the ideal form of interaction, but it’s a vast improvement on staring at a wall.
Dragging ourselves out of low energy states – be that by trying to cultivate compassionate voices internally or having compassionate relationships with others – is key to Gilbert’s work. “If you ask someone, ‘What is your internal critic most frightened of?’ [you will find] it’s frightened of rejection, of being seen as no good. Of being unlovable, of not being wanted. All the raging that goes on beneath us, the thing that we fear most is shame – not being good enough or wanted. We are frightened of being revealed to be not so nice.”
He says that what has happened in the past decade, with the rise of social media, “is that it has become a very plastic society. We are all living like theatrical actors, presenting ourselves as our best. That can’t be real, and so we have many people who feel like failures or useless. They say: ‘I’m not as attractive as that, I’m overweight, I’m not kind or compassionate to others.’”
As Gilbert says, the best relationships are the ones where people love us for our perceived dark sides and flaws. “People forget that love is about loving you for the difficult things, not the easy things,” he says. It is those who know us intimately who can provide that, and they do it through their physical presence, through touch, and through eating, drinking and sharing with us. Spending time together is social nourishment. So, instead of texting a friend or messaging them on social media, why not knock on their door, look them in the eye and make yourselves both feel better?
This article was amended on 23 May 2018. Dr Alison Harris works for the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS foundation trust, and not Salford Royal NHS foundation trust, as an earlier version said.
There’s no question that exercise is good for the body, and there is growing evidence that staying physically active can help slow the normal declines in brain function that come with age. Health groups recommend that adults try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense activity a week to keep their hearts healthy — but is that the same amount that’s needed to keep the brain sharp?
In a new study published in the journal Neurology, researchers led by Joyce Gomes-Osman, an assistant professor in physical therapy and neurology at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, set out to find an exercise prescription for the brain. She and her colleagues scanned nearly 100 existing studies that connected exercise with more than 122 different tests of brain function. Based on data that included more than 11,000 older people, they found that people who exercised about 52 hours over a period of about six months showed the biggest improvements in various thinking and speed tests. On average, people exercised for about an hour, three times a week. And the effect applied to both people without cognitive decline as well as those with mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
“I don’t think 52 hours is really a magic number,” says Gomes-Osman. “There really is a range. But I do think that these results signify to us that in order to get the known benefits of exercise for the brain, to help areas involved in thinking and problem solving — to get that machinery going, you need longer exposure [to exercise]. Those are all mechanistic processes that take time to develop.”
People in the study showed the strongest improvements in their ability to solve problems and process information. The effect was not as robust in memory tests, but Gomes-Osman notes that most complex brain functions, from reasoning and processing speed to recall, are related. “There is an overlap between being able to manage time, pay attention and [do] memory tasks,” she says. In future studies, she hopes to home in on a few that appear to be the most sensitive to the effects of exercise.
What surprised the researchers was that the only strong correlation between exercise and brain function occurred when they looked at the overall time people spent being physically active. They did not find associations between improvements in thinking and the frequency, intensity or length of time people exercised. “I had a mindset [going into the study] that the weekly minutes spent exercising was definitely something that was helpful, since we know that is important for the guidelines for physical health by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association,” says Gomes-Osman. “But I was surprised to see that it wasn’t.”
That may further support the idea that for brain health, the overall and cumulative effect of physical activity is what’s important. This suggests that exercise affects the brain in a variety of different ways, from preserving the brain’s nerve network that starts to decline with age, to boosting the function of neurons and improving blood flow to brain cells, as well as promoting the production of growth factors to help cells involved in higher level thinking tasks.
“These results help us get a little closer to very practical advice,” says Gomes-Osman. For her, the quest for an exercise prescription for a healthy brain is personal. Her grandfather died with Alzheimer’s disease, and she is aware that her family carries some genetic vulnerability to developing the neurodegenerative condition. “What could I have told my grandpa about exercise?” she says. “And when could I have done it?”
The current study included different types of exercise: aerobic (which is backed by the most research on its relationship to the brain), weight training and mind-body activities like tai chi. She hopes to learn more about what types of exercise seem to have the most benefit for the brain, as well as how that movement should be distributed in minutes, hours and days. That information could one day help people be more proactive about avoiding cognitive decline, and may even help to stave off some of the brain problems associated with more severe degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
“Exercise is a really, really great thing for the brain,” she says. “We need to learn more, since we have nothing better at this moment to combat cognitive decline.”
There once was a seed that lived for a long time just being a seed. It knew no other way of being, no other way doing, no other way of experiencing, just a seed never changing. It had many things done to it, many insults to its existence as a seed. The seed was unaware of living any other way. The seed was not alone, as it was amongst many other seeds. They were placed in confined spaces with just enough resources to survive as the seeds they were. The seeds were all bounced around from one confinement to another…packaged, boxed. Not going forward or backwards in life as there didn’t seem to be any other way of living; after all, being a seed is all they knew. Continue reading Hope, I have found you at last!
The man I am in my heart is the change I want to see in the world. I am a man of peace and kindness whose intention is to harm no one. A man that is genuine with no need to wear a mask…with no need to be anything other than myself. A man that believes in himself, his abilities, his skills, and his capacity to continue to learn. A man that possesses the innocent heart of a child before it has witnessed the evil ways of the world, felt the pain and suffering of loss, and had to endure the tragedies of life just to survive. A man that loves his family with the same empathy, compassion, loyalty, and forgiveness that they have so generously given to me. A man whose generous spirit loves unconditionally. A man whose handshake is as good as a signed contract. A man that can be trusted with the care of others, and counted on in both good times and tough times. A man whose words carry weight, purpose, meaning, and can be truly believed. A man of integrity in all his affairs and compassion for all those that suffer. A man that is honest, open-minded, and willing to do all that is necessary to leave this world better than I found it. A man whose behavior reflects his values and beliefs. But more than anything else, for without it I am nothing but a man waiting to die, the man in my heart embraces sobriety. I choose life so that I can feel deeper, share deeper, experience deeper, and love deeper.