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Choose Happiness September 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
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42 comments

We can choose to be happier by changing the focus of our day-to-day thoughts.

Like any skill worth having, changing the way we look at the world will not happen on its own.

We don’t learn to swim, or speak French, or play golf by wishing we had those skills.  We learn those skills by practicing them until we become adept.

If we wish to change our minds, it helps to understand a few key concepts:

1. Thoughts create our reality.  

When we dwell on past hurts and frustrations, our thoughts and emotions are apt to be negative ~ sadness, anger, and resistance fill our world.  When we count our blessings and envision a positive future, our thoughts and emotions tend to follow suit, increasing the level of our happiness.

Sometimes nothing needs to change but our perspective or frame of reference.

2. We can choose the way we view the world.

Our thoughts are tools which help or hinder us as we journey through life.

When we learn to view the thoughts running through our brains in the same way we view images on a TV or computer screen, we realize we can change the channel any time we don’t like the program being broadcast.

Watching the same tearful melodrama for days (or years) is like watching a sad movie over and over again.  Instead of watching stale reruns, we can reclaim the remote, switch channels, and watch more positive and uplifting fare.

Monitoring our thoughts allows us to re-program the default setting on our remotes and trains our brain to broadcast shows that are worth watching.

3. It’s hard to stop thinking about pink elephants. 

If we’re told not to think about pink elephants, the image of a pink elephant is apt to appear, front and center. Telling ourselves to stop thinking about pink elephants is an exercise in futility.

Instead, like training a teething puppy, we must give our minds something else to chew on:  planning our next vacation, writing out a grocery list, playing Sudoku, making weekend plans.

Better still, we can do something:  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Fly a kite.  Ride a bike. Paint a picture.  Take a hike.  Send a note.  Float a boat. Feed a goat.  Dig a moat. Phone a friend.

One of the best ways to distance ourselves from the habit of negative thinking is by distracting ourselves with a dose of positivity.

4. Emotions follow our thoughts, not vice versa.

Think sad, feel sad.  Think mad, feel mad.  Think glad, feel glad.

As we tune into the ticker tape of monkey chatter racing through our mental corridors, we notice emotions as they arise ~ e.g., a flicker of annoyance.  We take a mindful peek at our thoughts to see if they are true, helpful, kind, etc.

If not, as is often the case, we switch channels to a more positive broadcast.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  A Simple Choice

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.  By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.~ Robert Louis Stevenson

A Sense of Humor August 29, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Humor.
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44 comments

Cheshire_Cat_Tenniel“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Laughter shortens the distance between people.

He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh. ~ the Koran

The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer everybody else up. ~ Mark Twain

When we stop taking ourselves so seriously, we become ever so much happier!

220px-JoseOrtegayGasset“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.” ~ William James

Not being happy during Happy Hour is a self-defeating way to go through life.

“A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.” ~ William Arthur Ward

Life improves with laughter. ♥ ♥ ♥

Aah . . . that’s better!

You Don’t Know Jack August 27, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Health & Wellness, Life Balance, People.
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30 comments

Watched another thought-provoking film this week ~ You Don’t Know Jack.

The documentary addressed the efforts of Jack Kevorkian to assist terminally ill patients to end their lives with dignity.

He believed that we should have the freedom to choose to die when we’ve had enough . . . without having to shoot ourselves, dowse ourselves with gasoline, slash our wrists, strangle ourselves, wrestle crocodiles, or dive off buildings or bridges without a safety net.

Just breathe . . . relax . . . and check out in peace.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

An Unwanted Visitor August 22, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Humor.
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40 comments

I stepped outside to go for a walk and came face-to-face with a 4-foot-long black racer.

I retraced my steps and raced inside.

Pluto-RollerskatingExercise is over-rated.

 

Aah . . . that’s better!

“I Vant To Suck Your Blood” August 7, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Nature, People.
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51 comments

You’re not imagining it.

Those blood-sucking-good-for-nothing-tiny-vampires that should never have been allowed on the Ark really DO love YOU best!

Mosquito (in Public Domain)

Here’s why:

1. Blood Type ~ “Mmm . . . Type O.  My fave!”

2. Body Temp and Sweat ~ “Fee Fie Fo Fum, I smell the blood of a yum yum.”

3. Body Size ~ larger people expel more CO2, an aphrodisiac for skeeters.

4. Beer ~ skeeters are booze hounds.  If you drink it, they will find you.

5. Other factors ~ pregnancy, skin bacteria, clothing color, and genetics.

Or you might just lack the natural repellent that allows “even a Type O, exercising, pregnant woman in a black shirt to ward off mosquitoes.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

For more information:  Why Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others  (Smithsonian)

 

Am I Showing My Age Bias? July 27, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Health & Wellness, Humor, Mindfulness.
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58 comments

The-Pink-PantherPoets and Writers sent the following Fiction Prompt a few days ago:

Some people slow down in their golden years, taking it easy and enjoying the family and friends gathered around them in the comfort of their community, while others try to continue to live like their younger selves.  

This week, write a story about an older person who still has the mindset and physical stamina of a twenty-something. How does this affect her interactions with her peers? What are her secrets? Is she one of those people who wishes to live forever, or does she simply make a habit of staying healthy?

Think about how a person’s biological age and true age are related and what happens when they are in conflict.

As I read “what are her secrets,” I sensed a dose of age bias on the prompter’s part ~ an unspoken message that continuing to “live like [our] younger selves” should be the goal of our golden years.

Why?  Wasn’t that the job of our younger selves?

catlady

What’s wrong with slowing down and taking it easy, while enjoying family, friends, the comfort of community . . . and the occasional cigar?

Do we need to head to the clubs for drinking, dancing, and revelry on Friday and Saturday nights, staying out ’til the cock crows, in order to crow about it to our peers?

Is there a continued benefit to waking with hung-over head on Saturday and Sunday mornings?  If so, I missed the memo.

I am delighted I no longer have the mindset of a twenty-something.  At that age, I was not nearly as content as I am these days.

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There’s a line in Desiderata that I love:  “Take kindly the counsel of years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.”

I agree with that sentiment . . . One Hundred Percent!

The daily decisions I face are made with accumulated wisdom.  I can’t think of a single one my present self would defer to my twenty-something self . . . not on matters of fashion, food, movies, books, bars, clubs, or how to spend my leisure time.

Gymnastics

That said, having the physical stamina of a twenty-something would rock!

Aah . . . that’s better!

If you knew an “older person” with the mindset of a twenty-something, would you want to know his secret?

Or would you encourage him to get counseling?

Change June 6, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Food & Drink, Health & Wellness.
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42 comments

Chicken-Little-PosterFor many things, it’s slow and steady progress (not perfection) that helps us manifest change.

For others, cold turkey works best.

Gobble.  Gobble.

For example, switching from regular milk to skim milk or from dairy milk to almond or soy milk is harder if we alternate back and forth.  We don’t acclimate to the new milk until we STOP drinking the old milk.

The same is true of other dietary changes.

Our taste buds adapt to less salt and less sugar, but only after we eliminate the “problem foods” from our daily diet.

Also, change is easier if we don’t rely on sheer will power alone.

220px-Pig_roastbeef

Most of us are impatient and don’t want to wait.  Delayed gratification often is not enough to keep us slogging along with the new regime.

If we focus on the short term rewards gained from the behavioral changes we’re making, rather than on what we are giving up, it makes it easier to stick with the new behavior until it becomes status quo.

For example, we can focus on how we feel after a vigorous walk, rather than obsessing about the slow-to-move number on the bathroom scale.

Aah . . . that’s better!

For some terrific tips on mindful change:  What Needs to Change for Change to Happen (Find Your Middle Ground)

Chikungunya, Dude! June 5, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Bulletin Board, Health & Wellness, Humor.
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34 comments

Mosquito (in Public Domain)

A mosquito borne virus, which originated in East Africa before spreading to Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean, continues to make the news.

Symptoms of Chikungunya Fever include fever, headache, severe muscle pain, and a rash.

These symptoms appear 3-7 days after an individual is infected by a mosquito bite and can last for 2-4 months.  The infectious stage lasts 10-15 days.

The name (which sounds like “chicken goon-ya”) comes from the East African dialect for “doubled over.”

That does not sound good.

Take suitable precautions to avoid getting bit by these blood-sucking-good-for-nothing-critters that should never have been allowed on the Ark.

What the hell was Noah thinking?

Aah . . . that’s better! 

 

 

 

Give Your Brain A Boost . . . With A Book April 25, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Health & Wellness, Meditation.
Tags: , , , , ,
43 comments

150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052Last week, Andra Watkins (The Accidental Cootchie Mama) shared links to two research studies done to evaluate the impact of reading on brain function:

Brain Function Boosted After Reading A Novel

This study revealed increased brain activity measured in the MRI’s of 21 college students during and after reading the novel Pompeii.

While this is promising news for book lovers, I wish the study had used control groups so we could compare results and determine whether reading novels has a more pronounced effect on the brain than:  watching movies, playing video games, meditating, dining out, texting, yoga, drinking wine, eating chocolate, walking, parasailing, riding a bike, talking to a close friend, having sex, etc.

Since everyone read the same novel, it’s hard to conclude, based on this study alone, that novel reading is better for the brain than other activities, such as reading poetry, attending a concert, watching a ballet, or “getting jiggy with it” by going ballroom dancing.

But reading definitely woke up a few neurons.

How Reading Lights Up Your Mind

Another article with anecdotal evidence about the value of reading (and meditation) for brain health.

Here’s what the article had to say about meditation:

“Meditation has long been studied to better understand how sustaining attention and focus affects the brain. Studies on mindfulness meditation, for example, show that parts of the brain associated with positive mood are activated with the practice of focusing attention.”

I have found this to be true.  Plus the sustained focus and attention carries over in all areas of life. Instead of re-acting to events (using stale beliefs about past experiences), we more mindfully choose how to spend our days.

Sally-BrownPerhaps by curling up with a good book.

And a cup of coffee.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related: Fight Brain Drain & Set Your Mind On Fire (Andra) * Your Brain On Jane (NPR) * Cross Train Your Brain

Cross Train Your Brain April 24, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Meditation.
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45 comments

A few weeks ago, we attended a lecture at Freedom Village on Cross Training Your Brain.

We’d heard the speaker, Dr. Kevin W. O’Neill, once before when he presented A Brain Training Symposium.

IMGP1472a

Dr. O’Neill reiterated that what benefits the body, benefits the brain:

* Exercise ~ Ball Room Dancing is #1!
* Eat right ~ a Mediterranean Diet is best
* Sleep tight ~ without popping pills
* Don’t let the bed bugs bite
* Manage stress ~ meditation is great
* Focus on positives ~ don’t worry, be happy
* Interact with friends ~ be a social animal
* Tickle your funny bone chakra
* Learn something new today ~ build synapses
* Share your talents/volunteer/help others
* Develop an attitude of gratitude
* Drinking coffee lowers the risk of dementia
* Eat tumeric ~ curried veggies, please
* Play games, solve puzzles, have FUN!
* Live, Love, Laugh, Learn!

A few key points:

(1) Exercise is the fountain of youth when it comes to brain health.  It lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, increases gray matter, improves blood flow to the brain, elevates mood, and reduces stress.  For a 76% reduction in Alzheimer’s risk, try Ballroom Dancing!

(2) Reducing Stress helps maintain brain health ~ try exercise, yoga, tai chi, meditation, or other purposeful pursuits.  And get enough sleep.  Sleep allows neurons to shut down and repair themselves.

(3) A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and veggies, and omega 3 fats helps keep dementia at bay.  Vitamins C, D, and E are key building blocks for brain health.  As is Folic Acid ~ found in dark green veggies, chickpeas, and pinto beans.

(4) Intellectual Stimulation and Social Engagement are beneficial to brain health as we age.  Playing games and musical instruments helps ward off dementia.

(5)  Go ahead, enjoy your daily dose of caffeine.  According to the research Dr. O’Neill shared, drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day will lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease . . . by 65%!

But don’t just sit around drinking coffee, R~E~A~D!  More on that tomorrow.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

What do you do to keep your brain sharp?

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