Stay Positive

"In the midst of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." - Alert Camus

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Simple ideas for living well will help minimize your stress.


"When my guru wanted to compliment me, he called me simple; when he wished to chide me, he called me clever."  -Ram Dass

When we complicate our personal philosophy too much it fails to bring us peace.

Having gratitude for the abundance of our life and not focusing on what is missing to complete the "American Dream", is a positive mindset.

Stop attending to the marketing lies that inundate us daily on the radio, on TV, and in magazines; telling us the best car to drive, the best wine to drink, or the greatest vacation spots in the world.  The message is clear that we need to get out our credit cards and join the consumer orgy.  We are told that this is the path to happiness.

Be a man of few wants and you will relax and pay more attention to things that matter like your family,  friends, and your spiritual dimension.

The words of  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin are very similar to the message you might  hear from the Dalai Lama or Psychologist Martin Seligman.

It is a universal message:

"Happiness is a skill that can be learned. The essential factor whether or not you will live a happy life is based less on external factors such as wealth, success and fame, and more on your attitude toward life, toward yourself, toward other people, and toward events and situations."

Martin Seligman offers ways to move beyond simply seeking good feelings, to pursuing a better life. Focusing solely on the positive emotion of happiness isn't enough.

Seligman argues that happiness is only one of five human motivations.

"We abbreviate it as PERMA.
P is positive emotion,
E is engagement,
R is relationships,
M is meaning and
A is accomplishment.

Those are the five elements of what free people chose to do. Pretty much everything else is in service of one of or more of these goals."

"We're trying to do something liberating by saying even if you [are depressed], you don't get consigned to the hell of unhappiness. You can have meaning, accomplishment, engagement and good relationships, even if you are dull on the positive affect side."


Lesson 1. First Splendid Truth: To be happy, you need to consider feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

These are the elements of happiness.

If you want to boost your happiness, try tackling one element.

Get more “feeling good,” say. Or eliminate a source of “feeling bad.”

Think about whether you “feel right” about the shape of your life. And look for an area in your life where you can create “an atmosphere of growth.”

Lesson 2. Second Splendid Truth: One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

People often focus on the first half of this statement, but the second half is just as important. It turns out, studies show, that happy people are more altruistic, more likely to volunteer, more interested in other people’s problems, and they are also better leaders and better able to bring about changes, when they try to do so.

Lesson 3. Third Splendid Truth: The days are long, but the years are short.

Lesson 4. Fourth Splendid Truth: You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.

Lesson 5. Your body matters.

It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to overlook! Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, get some sunshine, go to a doctor if you need to.

Lesson 6. Happiness is other people.

Philosophers and scientists agree: a KEY to happiness is strong relationships with other people. Building strong bonds should be one of your top priorities in life.

Lesson 7. Outer order contributes to inner calm.

For most people, making an effort to keep surroundings in decent order really pays off in happiness.

Lesson 8. Happiness comes not from having more, not from having less, but from wanting what you have.

Lesson 9. You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.

To make a happy life, you need to know yourself and acknowledge your own nature. For some people, this is a real challenge.

Lesson 10. “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” –Robert Louis Stevenson.



Simple ideas for living well will help minimize your stress.

 "When my guru wanted to compliment me, he called me simple; when he wished to chide me, he called me clever."  -Ram Dass

When we complicate our personal philosophy too much it fails to bring us peace.

Having gratitude for the abundance of our life and not focusing on what is missing to complete the "American Dream", is a positive mindset.

Stop attending to the marketing lies that inundate us daily on the radio, on TV, and in magazines; telling us the best car to drive, the best wine to drink, or the greatest vacation spots in the world.  The message is clear that we need to get out our credit cards and join the consumer orgy.  We are told that this is the path to happiness.

Be a man of few wants and you will relax and pay more attention to things that matter like your family,  friends, and your spiritual dimension.

The words of  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin are very similar to the message you might  hear from the Dalai Lama or Psychologist Martin Seligman.

It is a universal message:

"Happiness is a skill that can be learned. The essential factor whether or not you will live a happy life is based less on external factors such as wealth, success and fame, and more on your attitude toward life, toward yourself, toward other people, and toward events and situations."

Martin Seligman offers ways to move beyond simply seeking good feelings, to pursuing a better life. Focusing solely on the positive emotion of happiness isn't enough.

Seligman argues that happiness is only one of five human motivations.

"We abbreviate it as PERMA.
P is positive emotion,
E is engagement,
R is relationships,
M is meaning and
A is accomplishment.

Those are the five elements of what free people chose to do. Pretty much everything else is in service of one of or more of these goals."

"We're trying to do something liberating by saying even if you [are depressed], you don't get consigned to the hell of unhappiness. You can have meaning, accomplishment, engagement and good relationships, even if you are dull on the positive affect side."


Lesson 1. First Splendid Truth: To be happy, you need to consider feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

These are the elements of happiness.

If you want to boost your happiness, try tackling one element.

Get more “feeling good,” say. Or eliminate a source of “feeling bad.”

Think about whether you “feel right” about the shape of your life. And look for an area in your life where you can create “an atmosphere of growth.”

Lesson 2. Second Splendid Truth: One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

People often focus on the first half of this statement, but the second half is just as important. It turns out, studies show, that happy people are more altruistic, more likely to volunteer, more interested in other people’s problems, and they are also better leaders and better able to bring about changes, when they try to do so.

Lesson 3. Third Splendid Truth: The days are long, but the years are short.

Lesson 4. Fourth Splendid Truth: You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.

Lesson 5. Your body matters.

It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to overlook! Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, get some sunshine, go to a doctor if you need to.

Lesson 6. Happiness is other people.

Philosophers and scientists agree: a KEY to happiness is strong relationships with other people. Building strong bonds should be one of your top priorities in life.

Lesson 7. Outer order contributes to inner calm.

For most people, making an effort to keep surroundings in decent order really pays off in happiness.

Lesson 8. Happiness comes not from having more, not from having less, but from wanting what you have.

Lesson 9. You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.

To make a happy life, you need to know yourself and acknowledge your own nature. For some people, this is a real challenge.

Lesson 10. “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” –Robert Louis Stevenson.



Coaxing the Bell to Ring




File:Deer Park Monastery Bell.jpg
Deer Park Monastery bell in Escondido, California

With body speech and mind in perfect oneness
I send my heart along with the sound of the bell
May the hearers awaken from forgetfulness
And transcend the path of anxiety and sorrow

- Thich Nhat Hanh translation of Buddhist poem.

Be Here Now


img_4328
Lotus Blossom

Saturday, November 26, 2011

MS treatment clinical trials a step closer - Politics - CBC News

MS treatment clinical trials a step closer - Politics - CBC News:

Seven studies are underway in North America, sponsored by the MS Society of Canada and its U.S. counterpart, that are looking at whether vein abnormalities and MS are linked, as Zamboni proposed. The studies started in July 2010 and are expected to take two years.

The federal government had resisted calls for a clinical trial initially, saying the seven studies were underway and more information was needed about CCSVI before a clinical trial could go ahead. In June, Aglukkaq said there was enough preliminary evidence from those studies to warrant proceeding with a clinical trial, news that was welcomed by patients who want access to the procedure.

"This next step will help identify a proposed clinical trial which can then undergo ethical review. At every step of this process, patient safety must be first and foremost," Aglukkaq said in a statement.

The request for research proposals will be posted on CIHR's website on Nov. 30. Applications will be reviewed by an international peer-review team in early 2012 and the winning proposal will be announced by March.

How many patients will be included in the trial, and how much it will cost the federal government, will depend on what is proposed by the winning bid.

The federal government is budgeting $3 to $5 million for the project.

Aglukkaq updated her provincial and territorial counterparts on the latest development in the lengthy clinical trial process when she met with them in Halifax on Friday.

Saskatchewan has already started work on getting residents there to participate in clinical trials. About 80 MS patients from that province have already been accepted into a clinical trial underway in Albany, N.Y., the province's health minister said Friday.

"What we will be doing now is joining with the federal government, certainly on anything that their initiative will take us to," said Don McMorris.


'via Blog this'

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blogger Philosophy


My Philosophy of Blogging



There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or to be the mirror that reflects it.
- Edith Wharton

Ms. Wharton sums up how I think of blogs. My desire is to reflect the articles and pictures that inspire me when surfing the Web by posting them on my blogs. Blogs create a scrapbook of events to review later inspiring me for a second time. This is a great pleasure and an educational activity providing me with learning missed when I was in school. The Web has demonstrated its great value in generating and spreading new ideas. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Occupy Wall Street and other revolutions have gained momentum on the Web.
If you have a favorite cause like animal rights, you can play a part in education the world by posting to your blog. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.


"To read means to borrow; to create out of one's reading is paying off one's debts."

- Charles Lillard

Communicating my worldview, as seen from my backwater home town situated on an island in the Pacific, is my way of staying engaged with current events.  Multiple Sclerosis has reduced my physical energy and keeps me close to home so I need to adapt and find new ways of relating to the world at large.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Good Reasons To Cancel Your Cable TV Subscription.


A Nation of Vidiots | NationofChange
by Jeffrey Sachs

“Many neuroscientists believe that the mental-health effects of TV viewing might run even deeper than addiction, consumerism, loss of social trust, and political propaganda.”

Television has reshaped society in every corner of the world. Now an explosion of new media devices is joining the TV set: DVDs, computers, game boxes, smart phones, and more. A growing body of evidence suggests that this media proliferation has countless ill effects.

Americans watch more than five hours per day of television on average – a staggering amount, given that several hours more are spent in front of other video-streaming devices.  

Heavy TV viewing brings little pleasure. Many surveys show that it is almost like an addiction, with a short-term benefit leading to long-term unhappiness and remorse. Such viewers say that they would prefer to watch less than they do.

Moreover, heavy TV viewing has contributed to social fragmentation.  
 
Certainly, heavy TV viewing is bad for one’s physical and mental health. Americans lead the world in obesity,  the sedentary time spent in front of the TV is an important influence.

At the same time, what happens mentally is as important as what happens physically. Television and related media have been the greatest purveyors and conveyors of corporate and political propaganda in society.

America’s TV ownership is almost entirely in private hands, and owners make much of their money through relentless advertising. Effective advertising campaigns, appealing to unconscious urges – typically related to food, sex, and status – create cravings for products and purchases that have little real value for consumers or society.
 
All roads to power in America lead through TV, and all access to TV depends on big money. This simple logic has put American politics in the hands of the rich as never before.
 
The mental-health effects of TV viewing might run even deeper than addiction, consumerism, loss of social trust, and political propaganda. 


Perhaps TV is rewiring heavy viewers’ brains and impairing their cognitive capacities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently warned that TV viewing by young children is dangerous for their brain development, and called on parents to keep children under two away from the TV and similar media.
 


“Follow Project Syndicate on Facebook or Twitter. For more from Jeffrey D. Sachs, click here.”

 

Chop Wood, Carry Water


Reduce stress in your life as much as you can.  Stress is bad for all people but it is especially bad if you are dealing with multiple sclerosis.  Explore quiet pursuits like meditation and Qi Gong to help you remain calm and collected.  Qi Gong has been shown to improve balance and it acts as a kind of moving meditation, as well.

Magical Power
Marvelous Action
Chopping Wood
Carrying Water


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ellen Langer and the Psychology of Possibility

http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2010/09/26/ellen-langer-and-the-psychology-of-possibility/
By daniel.lende
Posted: September 26, 2010


“Wherever you put the mind, the body will follow.” That is how Ellen Langer sums up her work.

Harvard Magazine has a wonderful feature article on the life andground-breaking research of the psychologist Ellen Langer. I know about her work on windfulness (Wikipedia mindfulness entry), including her international bestseller Mindfulness and her more recent Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility. The piece does a good job with that, covering her ideas, the research she has done, even some critiques.


Mindfulness, she tells the medical school audience, is the process of actively noticing new things, relinquishing preconceived mindsets, and then acting on the new observations. Much of the time, she says, our behavior is mindless… Mindlessness blinds us to new possibilities, says Langer, and that is what drove her to study its flip side.

But what I most liked about the article was the discussion of her early research:


In 1981, early in her career at Harvard, Ellen Langer and her colleagues piled two groups of men in their seventies and eighties into vans, drove them two hours north to a sprawling old monastery in New Hampshire, and dropped them off 22 years earlier, in 1959. The group who went first stayed for one week and were asked to pretend they were young men, once again living in the 1950s. The second group, who arrived the week afterward, were told to stay in the present and simply reminisce about that era.

Both groups were surrounded by mid-century mementos—1950s issues of Life magazine and the Saturday Evening Post, a black-and-white television, a vintage radio—and they discussed the events of the time: the launch of the first U.S. satellite, Castro’s victory ride into Havana, Nikita Khrushchev and the need for bomb shelters. There was entertainment (a screening of the 1959 film Anatomy of a Murder with Jimmy Stewart) and spirited discussions of such 1950s sports greats as Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson. One night, the men sat glued to the radio, listening as Royal Orbit won the 1959 Preakness. For the second group it brought back a flood of memories; for the other group, it was a race being run for the first time…

As Langer points out in one of her published accounts of the monastery study, because an experiment like this had never been run before, “any positive results would be meaningful…old age is taken to be a one-way street to incapacitation.” What she found, however, surprised even her own team of researchers. Before and after the experiment, both groups of men took a battery of cognitive and physical tests, and after just one week, there were dramatic positive changes across the board.

Both groups were stronger and more flexible. Height, weight, gait, posture, hearing, vision—even their performance on intelligence tests had improved. Their joints were more flexible, their shoulders wider, their fingers not only more agile, but longer and less gnarled by arthritis. But the men who had acted as if they were actually back in 1959 showed significantly more improvement. Those who had impersonated younger men seemed to have bodies that actually were younger.

She followed that up with an empirical demonstration of the benefits of mindfulness, or at least a sense of agency:


She and Yale colleague Judith Rodin found that simply giving nursing-home residents plants to take care of, as well as control over certain decisions—where they would meet guests, what activities to do—not only improved their subjects’ psychological and physical health, but also their longevity: a year and a half later, fewer of those residents had died.

The Harvard article includes lots of useful links, including to this BBC program where she discusses the aging and plant care study. The piece also covers the film that will be made about her life, and will star Jennifer Aniston:


“Didn’t anyone tell you there’ll be a movie where Jennifer Aniston will be playing me?” she asked a hotel ballroom packed with psychologists and physicians at a recent Harvard Medical School conference… “Why am I telling you about the movie? Because I’m telling everybody.”

There is also a link to her artwork, including her site at Scouting for Art. The image above is actually her painting Me and My Shadow. Click on it to go buy or browse!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Learned Happiness


Happiness is a skill that can be learned. The essential factor whether or not you will live a happy life is based less on external factors such as wealth, success and fame, and more on your attitude toward life, toward yourself, toward other people, and toward events and situations. Regardless of your attitudes in the past, you have the ability to change and become a master of happiness.

Today is the best day to improve your skills. Either things will go EXACTLY the way you want -- and then you can focus on the feeling of joy. Or things will NOT go the way you want and you'll have the opportunity to attain greater mastery over your attitude.

Throughout the day, keep asking yourself: "What attitude will enable me to experience joy and empowerment RIGHT NOW?

— Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
(see Preface to 'Gateway to Happiness'


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Henry Thoreau on Philosophy



Camping With Henry

"There are nowadays professors of philosophy but not philosophers. ...

To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. 

It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically."

(from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)