Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cure for Boredom

Want a Cure for Boredom? Your Prescription is Ready.
By Nicole Hoelle

Television programming, the internet, and the streets of our major cities are snapping, crackling and popping with stimuli: advertisements for things to do, get, buy, all towards the singular end of being happy. Thus, when we begin to feel that inexplicable hunger or emptiness growing inside us we immediately want to fill it with something. We are inclined to do something differently, to do something more, or to look for a new toy or experience.

Perhaps we send charges of excitement into our inner black hole by hooking our senses up to any technological or media outlet we can find, whether it’s Facebook, the latest reality show or the newest mp3 download by our favorite group. Maybe we do something as seemingly innocuous as going to a movie or registering for a class.

However, the problem is, the more we throw into it, the deeper the pit inside seems to get, and the bigger and greater the things and experiences we need in order to (at least temporarily) appease its ever-widening fury.

The reason? Well, first of all, as Vedanta, an Eastern spiritual path, states, all of these things and experiences electrifying our streets, airways and shopping malls are just part of a grand illusion attempting to ensnare us. This illusion, or Maya, as it is called, is everything that we experience through our physical senses, and is basically a fraud, a sham, posing as real fulfillment and happiness. According to Vedanta, we don’t ever achieve happiness from the things of this world. In fact, the more we try to, the greater our dissatisfaction or world-weariness becomes.

That’s not to say that we should sit around doing nothing so as not to stir the emptiness. It’s simply the notion of running from one thing to another, in a frantic attempt to fill ourselves that they warn against. According to Vedanta, the greater the world-weariness, the louder our call to something much greater and promising—true fulfillment in the spiritual realm. That is, the more dissatisfied and world-weary we become, the more likely we are to look towards the spiritual.

Buddhists also regard boredom as a symptom of spiritual agitation:

“It is always something else, someone else, somewhere else; never now, never this. You may be eating a marvelous meal, delicious cuisine, but already you are thinking about the movie you are going to go to afterwards,” writes Ajahn Jagaro, former resident monk at the Buddhist Society of Western Australia.

The solution, according to the Buddhists, is not so much the spiritual realm as it is the realm of mindfulness. That is, boredom is really an indication that the mind is not here, present, alive in this moment, which is, according to Buddhists, the only moment and source of true happiness and spiritual enlightenment.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

7 Lucky Ways to Feel Fortunate

7 Lucky Ways to Feel Fortunate
By Taryn Galewind
Change Your Outlook on Life: Optimism 101

Optimists tend to look on the bright side. They value lemons for their awesome flavor and feel grateful that their glass is half full, never nearly empty. Looking at life optimistically can impact both mental and physical health. Balancing your optimism with realism keeps you stay in tune with the universe, and a positive mental attitude can bring you good fortune in business and in love. Try these seven lucky keys to unlock a new you.

1. See the positive in everything. If your lover walks out, you can wail and weep, or embrace the opportunity to find a better match or a chance to get to know what you really need in a partner.

2. Take a risk. Don’t always make the safest choices—step outside your envelope of comfort. Financial advisers tell clients to take the biggest acceptable risk. Decide what you can tolerate, then take your giant leap, always expecting to fly.

3. Be ready to change for good luck. Get out of that rut! See the world from a new point of view and be willing to reach inside yourself for a different perspective when you make choices. Try out skills you’ve never tested before.

4. Investigate the unusual. When opportunity knocks, answer the door. Serendipity is the discovery of something rare and valuable, be open to serendipity when you are confronted with something out of your ordinary.

5. Go looking for failure. Never be reluctant to try something because you fear failing. Failures and mistakes almost always give rise to our greatest successes. Treasure them as teaching moments.

6. Have a look at your horoscopes, numerology reports, past life readings, and any other form of interpreting your opportunities. You can control your destiny by believing in your own good fortune.

7. Be a little superstitious—take advantage of good fortune and positive omens. For example, a recent Psychology Today article said some birth months are apparently luckier than others. People born between March and August feel themselves to be luckier than those born September through February. Summer babies grow up more open-minded, less neurotic than winter tots. “May,” says the article, “is the luckiest month of all, so if you want a fortunate kid, try to get lucky in August.”

In a nutshell, turning your hopes skyward and putting your aspirations among the stars will take you a lot further and make you feel a lot better about your world.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Reasons to Stay Positive

Are Happy People Healthier? New Reasons to Stay Positive
By Nancy Gottesman
O, The Oprah Magazine

Scientists are finding more and more proof of the remarkable way our emotions can affect our immune system.

The powerful link between emotional outlook and physical health is no secret. "I didn't believe in it when I started out 40 years ago," says Martin Seligman, PhD, one of the preeminent experts in the field of positive psychology and author of the new book Flourish. "But the data has grown year after year, and it's become a scientific certainty." Good feelings, scientists now know, have healing effects on the body, and researchers studying everything from the flu to HIV continue to find eye-opening evidence that a person's mind-set can influence her immunity and the rate at which she heals from injuries and illness.

"When it comes to our health," says Seligman, "there are essentially four things under our control: the decision not to smoke, a commitment to exercise, the quality of our diet, and our level of optimism. And optimism is at least as beneficial as the others." Scientists don't yet fully understand the biological mechanisms at work, but they know that negative feelings like stress, sadness, and worry cause a spike in the hormone cortisol, which in turn suppresses the immune system. Here, then, are tips culled from the latest research on how to stay positive—and healthy.

Express Yourself
When you clear your head, good things happen to the rest of you. A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine reported that HIV patients who wrote about their worries for 30 minutes a day four days in a row experienced a drop in their viral load and a rise in infection-fighting T cells. Another study, in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, found that breast cancer patients who talked about their feelings regarding cancer had to schedule fewer doctors' visits for cancer-related problems.

Try Meditative Exercise
We know tai chi has all sorts of benefits, and here's one more: In research conducted at UCLA, 61 older adults took tai chi classes three times a week, while 61 others attended health education classes. At the end of four months, both groups received a dose of the shingles vaccine—and the tai chi group achieved twice the level of immunity. "It's likely the meditation component that is causing the effect," says study author Michael R. Irwin. "Which means it's possible other forms of meditative exercise, like yoga, would lead to a similar boost."

Seek Help If You Need It
A study by researchers at the University of Nottingham monitored the rate of healing in 93 people with foot ulcers, a skin injury common in diabetics. After six months, subjects who were clinically depressed and subjects who were not coping well emotionally with their condition showed less improvement. As a result of the findings, the university is developing a therapy program for diabetic patients. "We hope this intervention will help cut the risk of reulceration," says study author Kavita Vedhara, PhD.

Lean on Your Friends
Sheldon Cohen, PhD, is a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an expert on the link between social networks and health. In one of his studies, Cohen exposed 276 adults to the common cold virus. He wasn't surprised to find that smokers were three times more likely to get sick. But Cohen also found that subjects who had the least variety of social relationships fared even worse—they were 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold. One reason people with strong social ties are better at warding off infection may be that they have lower stress levels, Cohen says.

Look on the Bright Side
In another of Cohen's studies, he assessed 193 subjects to determine their level of positive emotions (including happiness, calmness, and liveliness). Again, he exposed participants to a virus—and found that people who scored low on positive emotions were three times as likely to succumb to the bug. (A few high-scoring participants fell ill, too, but they reported fewer symptoms than the average cold or flu sufferer normally experiences.) What's intriguing about this phenomenon, says Lara M. Stepleman, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and health behavior at the Medical College of Georgia, is that "we all have the ability to choose an optimistic mind-set. And with practice, we can get better at it."

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

What's Your Real Motivation?

What's Your Real Motivation?
Discover the key advice that will get you where you want to go.
By Liz Brody

Clouds on a Lake

We all want to be healthier, but why? What's our real purpose? Even the strongest resolve can collapse if you're trying to change for someone else—get thinner for a spouse, quit smoking for a nagging mother, exercise because you're supposed to. "To get motivated in a healthy way, start by asking yourself a series of questions," says Marianne Legato, MD, founder of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University, whose latest book is Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan.

This article is part of's 2011 Feel Good Challenge. Join now—and move closer to the life you want!

These questions, compiled by Legato and her LLuminari colleagues, may seem difficult to answer at first, but the point is to get you digging down to a place where your intentions become clear. If a question seems particularly intimidating, think of it as a lake whose waters are deep and cold. Dip your toe in, letting your body adjust to the bracing temperature. Then dunk a foot, a leg, until you're all the way in. You may want to write down thoughts or just roll them over in your mind.

Part of this exercise is to remind yourself about what you—as opposed to everyone else around you—need in order to feel happy and fulfilled. If you don't make time for what matters to you, how can others value your importance?

1. Who am I? How do I think of myself? What are my strengths and weaknesses?

2. Who do I want to be?

3. Why am I here? Why am I important? What is my mission?

4. What am I missing? The time to read a book? A close friendship?

5. What's my motivation for wanting to improve my food and exercise habits? If it's to look better, do I expect favorable results to bring love?

6. Am I afraid of making changes or of taking risks (quitting a boring job, getting out of a bad relationship)? Do I fear failure or the responsibility that could come with success? Could I embrace change instead as an adventure?

7. What has stopped me from keeping resolutions in the past? Is the obstacle (or obstacles) still present in my life? If so, how will I navigate it this time?

8. When I'm tempted to wander off track, what could I say to myself, or do, to stick with the original plan?

9. How can I build in support for myself? Ask a friend to be a health buddy? Join a walking club?

10. What am I doing in my life that's hurting me? Smoking? Drinking too much? Letting work interfere with relationships?

11. What are the sources of joy I need to feel whole?

12. Am I happy?

If you don't have the energy to make changes now, ask yourself these questions again in a month or two. And consider that in order to part with what has become habit or routine, you may simply need to take a leap of faith. "So many of us are in jobs we hate or relationships that are stagnant, but we're too paralyzed to change," says surgeon Nancy Snyderman, MD, whose books include Dr. Nancy Snyderman's Guide to Good Health for Women over Forty. "As we age, we stop taking risks."

Welcome to Weight Loss Coach Sherrie's Blog!

I am currently trying a new way of eating (forget about that nasty "D" word!). I am following the "Schwarzbein Principle" and learning ways to focus on creativity and taking care of ME. I am currently in Body Blissmas, a program started by Jill Badonsky. As I learn to focus on healthy eating and being happy and creative, I would like to help you do the same.

Are you currently trying to lose weight?