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The Power of Virtual Reality April 19, 2016

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

Happiness can be boosted merely by the thoughts we think.

Especially if we imagine riding around town with a smiling monkey in a naval uniform on the back of our bright red motorcycle!

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Or visualize playing catch with a friendly frog!

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Or . . . insert your favorite daydream here.

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Research in the field of neuroscience demonstrates that we can expand our happiness through visualization, virtual reality, and daydreams:

Research in the field of neuroscience has shown that the part of the brain responsible for feeling pleasure – the mesolimbic dopamine system – can be activated when merely thinking about something pleasurable, such as drinking a favorite brand of beer or driving a favorite type of sports car. In fact, this research shows that people sometimes enjoy anticipating an activity more than actually doing it.

For example, reading guidebooks in advance of a big vacation and anticipating the food you’ll eat and the activities you’ll do while there could actually give you more pleasure than the vacation itself. In short, research suggests that we can be just as well – if not sometimes better – off if we imagine experiences without having them.  

So to increase happiness, spend plenty of time happily daydreaming.

If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Consider Time (Stanford Business)

You read that right.

Research suggests that enjoying a virtual vacation can make us happier than going on an actual vacation (with all the attendant hassles).

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Great news for armchair travelers with limited budgets!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Related:  Neural Pathways & Success (Find Your Middle Ground)

A Walk In The Woods April 13, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness, Nature.
41 comments

Florida is NOT all Sun, Sand, and Surf . . . it’s also the silence we sense between each echoing splash.

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It’s water and rocks and islands of pine shading soil from sun.

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Florida’s ancient roots trace back to Africa before continents shifted from where they were to where they wanted to be.

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If continents and trees are open to change . . . who are we disagree.

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Just be . . . and let the future unfold.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Cryonics April 5, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery, Mindfulness, Nature, Spirit & Ego.
36 comments

300px-MortTim Urban (Wait But Why) wrote a terrific post about Cryonics ~ Why Cryonics Makes Sense.

After explaining what Cryonics is (and isn’t), Tim counters many of the moral, religious, and scientific objections people have raised to the experimental practice.

If you’re even remotely interested in the topic, his well-researched post is worth reading.

If you want to read it right now, go ahead.  Death waits for no man!

OK . . . let’s continue.

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By the end of the article, it’s clear that Tim sees no downside to pressing the “pause” button on death . . .

His conclusion doesn’t seem “silly, gullible, or selfish” to me . . . given his current beliefs about life and death.

But I don’t share his beliefs.

And I do see two downsides to Cryonics that he didn’t explore:

(1) Tim starts the post with an Either/Or scenario ~ Either stay on the plane and go down in flames OR grab the experimental parachute and cross your fingers that you land in a better place.

If those are only two options, grabbing the parachute might seem like a no brainer.

And, for an atheist, like Tim, those may be the only two options to consider.

250px-Astronaut-EVATim sees death as The End.

As a result, he’s satisfied that “being alive is a lot more interesting than being dead.”

But what if he’s wrong?
What if death is not The End?

What if being dead is a lot more interesting than being alive?

What if Cryonics means you’re pressing the pause button on what might be an amazing “after life” experience?

Cryonics means hanging around in suspended animation in a tub of liquid nitrogen for “eons” waiting for technology to advance far enough so that science can un-pause you so you can rejoin the living.

As amazing as that experience might be (assuming all goes as planned), maybe we don’t have to wait.

Maybe death is an immediate transition to something better.

Do you still want to grab that parachute?

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(2) Cryonics is about preserving and resurrecting the brain ~ based on the assumption that “who we are” is encapsulated there.

But what if that’s not where “we” are?

What if the preservation and resurrection of the brain is not synonymous with the continuation of “me”?

I’m convinced that we are not the thoughts that we think, the emotions that we feel, or the memories that we cherish.

I’m satisfied that there is more to “me” than that.

What if that “something more” (spirit) doesn’t cooperate when we press pause? What if our inner essence flies the coop before we land in the Cryonics tank?

What if “me” is M.I.A. once my brain is “brought back to life”?

What if I grab the experimental parachute, jump into the tank, hang around in suspended animation (with Tim) for eons waiting for the future to arrive, only to find that I’ve landed in a strange landscape with no friends, no money, no home, no job, no bank account, and no . . . “me”?

Donald-Duck-DivingEven though I don’t view Tim as being “silly, gullible, or selfish” in his decision to jump into the Cryonics pool, joining him in the vat just doesn’t appeal to “me.”

Then again, if “me” flees and flies off into the light to enjoy an amazing life after life experience . . . what do “I” have to lose?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Maintaining Balance March 21, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Magick & Mystery, Mindfulness.
37 comments

Sometimes feelings are “off kilter” because the thoughts we’ve attached to the “what is” are not balanced.

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We tell ourselves stories about how others “should” act (or how the world should be) and then get upset when reality doesn’t meet our expectations.

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If we change our thoughts, our emotions and feelings follow suit.

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Our “upset” dissipates into the ether.

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Stepping into the role of detached observer allows us to let things be as they are while maintaining our balance.

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We learn that we are stronger than we “thought.”

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Where Peace & Joy Reside March 15, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Meditation, Mindfulness.
37 comments

Meditation trains the mind not to dwell in the past or the future, but to live in the eternal NOW.

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Here + Now => where peace and joy reside!

When we put peace of mind ahead of all else, we discover the power that lies within. ~ Joseph V. Bailey

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related:  The Pursuit of Happiness

 

You Are NOT “All That” March 9, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, People, Spirit & Ego.
30 comments

RWS_Tarot_01_MagicianMy nieces and nephews adored us when they were too little to know any better.

Now, with the utmost discernment, they let us know that we are NOT “all that” any more.

Should we be hurt?

Of course not.

Just because Ego enjoyed the adoration that flowed from their younger selves doesn’t mean that Ego is entitled to it for the duration.

* If Ego wants something, and gets it, Ego may be happy for a time. Until a new desire arises.

* If Ego wants something, and we withhold it, Ego may be unhappy for a time. Until a new distraction arises.

The cause of Ego’s happiness or unhappiness is the thoughts Ego chooses to think.

Donald-Duck-MadEgo is a toddler, often in the throes of the terrible twos.  Giving in to Ego’s incessant demands each time Ego insists it “needs” something, doesn’t help in the long run.

Once Ego’s current “needs” have been met, Ego will desire something else and something else and something else.

What Ego really needs is to grow up and realize that it makes no sense to put its happiness in someone else’s pocket.

Mickey-OKThe pain of rejection at the level of Ego is often the catalyst for spiritual growth.

Once Ego realizes that happiness lies within, it begins to see through the illusion that it “needs” anything other than what it already has.

With that shift in perspective, self-created suffering dissipates into the ether.

We realize that we ARE “all that” . . . and MORE!

Aah . . . that’s better!

7 Ways Creating Art Benefits Your Brain March 7, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
58 comments

200px-RealMotherGooseCreative expression is good for us.

Art has helped people with anxiety, depression, addictions, PTSD, chronic pain, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s.

And it’s FUN!

Here are 7 Ways Creating Art Benefits Your Brain:

#1 Stress reduction ~ creating art gives your brain a break by focusing your mind and pushing worries aside.

It’s relaxing, meditative, and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

#2 Art stimulates the brain to create new neurons and synapses, improving connections, communication, and memory.

#3 Art increases the “feel good” neurotransmitter, dopamine, which boosts drive, focus, and concentration.  Dopamine helps ward off depression and protects the brain from aging.

Mr. Weiss Classroom#4 Art increases brain plasticity, fluid intelligence, IQ, and attention.

It enhances cognitive abilities and memory even for people with brain disorders.

#5 Art immerses us in the NOW as we go with the flow and enjoy the journey.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ~ Albert Einstein

#6 Art lets us forget our troubles and express our feelings.

#7 “Art washes from the soul the dust of every day life.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  The Mental Health Benefits of Art for Everyone

Are You Smarter Than A Librarian? March 3, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, People, Travel & Leisure.
51 comments

Tiggers-R-UsA few weeks ago, we played a trivia game, Are You Smarter Than A Librarian?, at the Central Library in Bradenton.

Seven teams competed, responding to 31 questions:

Three teams got 20-22 correct.
The top three teams scored 25, 24, and 23.

BFF and I came in last!
We got 17/31 correct.

3D-ApeOur last place finish didn’t bother us since the other teams had 4 or 5 members searching their collective gray matter for answers.  We were the only 2 person team competing.

Plus, the questions we missed addressed things we never knew, not stuff we knew but couldn’t recall.

For example:

# What does the “VSOP” on Cognac bottles mean?  We got as far as “Very Special Old” . . . but the “P” stumped us.

# We didn’t know the month & year Osama bin Laden bit the dust, but the fact that we lacked that fact doesn’t bother me a bit ~> what matters to me is that he, like Jacob Marley, is “deader than a doornail.”

# We missed questions about the TV series “Scandal” and other TV shows we’ve never watched.

Donald-Duck-Baseball# We were way off base when asked how many singles the Beatles released in 1964.

We guessed “6” ~> not even close!

None of the groups landed in the right ball park on this question.

The correct answer: 29!

Mickey-OKDespite our last place finish, we had a blast.

And lots of laughs.

So, even if we are NOT smarter than a librarian, we’d play again!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Attending a Car Show in the NOW February 23, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
34 comments

Donald-Duck-DrivingCars are BFF’s thing, not mine.  But this year I agreed to go to the International Auto Show in Tampa.

Attending the show became an exercise in mindfulness ~ a chance to practice acceptance of the “what is” . . . no matter what.

A chance to remain firmly grounded in the present moment . . . no matter what.

Donald-Duck-BaseballNot judging everything as “good” or “bad.”  Just going with the flow of the NOW.

No constant commentary streaming through my brain.  Just watching and observing.

No extreme highs and lows.  Just acceptance of the “what is” in the moment without resistance.

I accepted and released each moment as it arrived.  I remained awake and aware.  I dealt with situations without boredom or fear clouding my view.

I saw opportunities, not obstacles.

For example, getting there an hour “too early” gave us a chance to walk around the waterfront and enjoy a sunny morning.

Mickey-OKI remained “OK” with anything tossed our way without wasting time and energy deciding whether it was “good” or “bad.”

And, as a result, it was ALL GOOD!

Aah . . . that’s better!

In like vein, the parable of the Chinese Farmer reminds us of the benefits of adopting a “Maybe Mind.”

Related post: How to Become a Luckier Person Overnight (Raptitude)

A Time For Letting Go February 15, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.
44 comments

IMGP3064bWhere’s the dividing line between success and failure?

When a door closes on one experience, be it marriage or career, should we view everything leading up to the closing door as a failure?

Should we view the experience itself as a mistake?

When we hang on to people, places, or things that detract from our happiness (out of fear, complacency, habit, or sheer stubbornness), should we view our continued commitment as a success to be celebrated?

Or as a failure to honor who we’ve become?

220px-PinocchioNothing in life is constant. 

Sometimes promises and solemn vows made to ourselves and others must be broken because we grew in directions different than expected.

That’s all part of the process, the uncertainty of life.

When we are 20 we don’t know who we will be, or what we will need, when we are 40, 60, or 80.

Socialization that encourages us to believe that we can live happily ever after, merely by holding fast to the past, is a lie.

Asking people to beg our forgiveness because they’ve changed over time is akin to asking a toddler to apologize for outgrowing his clothes ~ we might as well apologize to each other for being alive.

Ringling Museum 006bLongevity, standing alone, does not define success.

A happy marriage of whatever length is a success ~ even if it ends in the amicable parting of ways.

An unhappy marriage is not a success, no matter how long or how tightly the couple hangs on to their tattered vows to love, honor, and cherish.

A satisfying career, however brief, is a success. An unsatisfying career is not a success, even if it culminates in receipt of a gold watch after 40 years of faithful service.

When we stick with decisions made 10, 20, or 30 years ago, even if those decisions are no longer working for us, we are NOT making the most of the time we have left.

Taking stock of our lives, evaluating where we are, and deciding where we want to head from here, is a life-affirming practice, a cause for celebration ~  even if it requires closing a door opened decades earlier by a younger, less experienced version of our self.

250px-Scottish_hammer_throw_illustrationGrowth requires change, not constancy.

Just as day flows to night, life is a continuum of experiences, a daily journey to celebrate and savor ~ no matter how many doors have to be opened or closed along the way.

Growth requires that we expand our boundaries, step out of our comfort zone, and explore new vistas ~ we are not intended to hang on to the shoreline for the duration of our visit.

There’s a time for letting go.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do not delay; the golden moments fly! ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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