Archives for March, 2012
I am a firm believer in the value of practicing mindfulness in everyday life for mental, emotional and physical health, and know that many other people could benefits if they only understood more clearly what it is, and how it offers benefits. Fortunately I stumbled upon The Mindful Manifesto, a new book by Dr. Jonty Heaversedge and Ed Halliwell, exploring the uses of mindfulness meditation for physical and mental health, addiction and emotional regulation, as well as areas such as decision-making in business and helping kids focus at school. The Manifesto includes much more than this practical knowledge, as it delivers a message that meditation is breaking out from the hippie new-age tag thanks to the raft of good science showing how it operates and leads to significant health benefits. Furthermore, the authors examine how encouraging governments and other powerful institutions to take a mindful approach could bring more health and happiness to our world. Here is the interview I had with author Ed Halliwell about The Mindful Manifesto.
We live in a society where people spend billions of dollars annually on their pets, and according to the American Pet Products Association, 62% of U.S. households own a pet. Clearly many people view their pets as a part of the family and more than merely a wild animal. In my life I have always appreciated and loved our family dog and everyone in my immediate family holds their dog near and dear to their heart. In my personal experience, dogs, and pets in general, bring joy, amusement and affection on a daily basis. Having a pet in our lives can create wonderful memories and an attachment that is long lasting. I am obviously biased toward dogs, and toward an affirmative yes with the title of this post. What about you? Is your experience with having pets full of positive emotion and affection?
Spirituality is an abstract topic that is not easy to define, and it is not typically considered a focal point of science. Despite this, it's a meaningful and common part of many peoples' lives, and the benefits and mental processes of spirituality deserve more attention. Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences has been well established for many years, and has helped evolve the traditional view of what it means to be intelligent. It was instrumental in helping people recognize the importance of interpersonal and emotional intelligences, and that we are cognitively much more complex than mere IQ. The many different capacities for intelligence from Gardner's theory include:
If you haven't accepted that social media is becoming an increasingly important factor in the socialization of youth and adults alike, you're simply behind the times. Every generation from Baby-Boomers to Millennials utilize mobile devices and online technology to communicate and interact. Online communication technology is now a staple of peoples' daily life, and because of this people are able to communicate more often with more people than ever before. This increase in communication would intuitively appear to be a positive thing, as research has revealed the value of intimate relationships on well-being and happiness. However, whether online social networking lends itself to the same level of meaning and significance in relationships is another question.
More than ever, creativity is a valuable asset for getting ahead in your career and standing out from the crowd. For some people, creativity comes naturally, but for other, more left-brained individuals, creativity can be a struggle and an uncommon occurrence. If we aren't engaging in creative hobbies, like painting or writing, we can become separated from this natural capacity and cease to grow this latent talent. Fortunately, creativity is a skill anyone can learn and cultivate. Here are 5 ways you can unleash your creative potential. 1. Be playful - Let loose and be open for creativity. Creativity can be enhanced by taking an amusing approach to the usual drudgery of daily life. Find activities that help you have more fun, relax, forget worries, and refresh your outlook and attitude.
I'm sure when you think of "teenagers" there is a tinge of stress. We have all heard horror stories of the argumentative teenager with mood-swing and a know-it-all attitude. Fortunately, most youth will be well-adjusted, happy, enjoy life, believe they can cope effectively with stress, and value school and work. But, what about the smaller percentage who end up going down an unhealthy and risky path? All youth can learn to be confident, connected, and contributing members of society, though at-risk youth are particularly in need of help with realigning their focus and values. Thankfully, there is growing recognition that successful development includes both the absence of risk and the presence of positive attributes. This is what the field of positive youth development (PYD) emphasizes. Problem-free does not necessarily equate to fully prepared for life. The idea becomes one where we can learn to help youth thrive instead of just survive. PYD focuses on all youth; however, working with at-risk youth in this framework has particular benefits.
Even happy and well-adjusted couples struggle with stress and life challenges. When these difficult periods emerge it's important for partners to remain composed, positive, and dedicated to working together. One practice that a couple can do to grow closer, that is easy and wholesome, is mindfulness meditation. Specifically, Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement (MBRE) has been shown to be an effective way to boost stress coping skills and increase personal well-being. This is adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, and serves the same general purpose of experiencing present moment awareness, and gaining insight into habitual patterns of thoughts, feelings, and interactions with others. When applying this concept to relationships specifically, it provides an opportunity to enhance joy, compassion, and connectedness.
The idea of positive thinking has been thrown around for many decades as the source of wealth, health and happiness. From Norman Vincent Peale’s classic book The Power of Positive Thinking, to Al Fraken’s satiric self-help character Stuart Smally on Saturday Night Live, reminding us to affirm that, "I'm good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people like me." Frankly, positive thinking has become such a popularized and commercial notion that many people find it to be cliché and exaggerated. Can we really be happier by just thinking positively? Can life actually improve by simply changing how we think about things? I certainly believe that positive thinking can help us feel better. Our thoughts and feelings are intricately related and the way we interpret situations and events, which have been shown to impact the emotions and behavior that follow. So, what does positive thinking involve?