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This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to Leading a Fulfilling Life

Here’s some wisdom gleaned from one of the longest longitudinal studies ever conducted.

Prioritizing what’s important is challenging in today’s world. The split focus required to maintain a career and a home, not to mention a Facebook feed, can feel overwhelming.

Enter the science of what to prioritize, when.

For over 75 years, Harvard’s Grant and Glueck study has tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two populations: 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study), and 268 male graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939-1944 (the Glueck study).

Due to the length of the research period, this has required multiple generations of researchers. Since before WWII, they’ve diligently analyzed blood samples, conducted brain scans (once they became available), and pored over self-reported surveys, as well as actual interactions with these men, to compile the findings.

The conclusion? According to Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance:

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

Not how much is in your 401(k). Not how many conferences you spoke at–or keynoted. Not how many blog posts you wrote or how many followers you had or how many tech companies you worked for or how much power you wielded there or how much you vested at each.

No, the biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is, basically, love.

Specifically, the study demonstrates that having someone to rely on helps your nervous system relax, helps your brain stay healthier for longer, and reduces both emotional as well as physical pain.

The data is also very clear that those who feel lonely are more likely to see their physical health decline earlier and die younger.

“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship,” says Waldinger. “It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”

What that means is this: It doesn’t matter whether you have a huge group of friends and go out every weekend or if you’re in a “perfect” romantic relationship (as if those exist). It’s the quality of the relationships–how much vulnerability and depth exists within them; how safe you feel sharing with one another; the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are, and truly see another.

According to George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004, there are two foundational elements to this: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

Thus, if you’ve found love (in the form of a relationship, let’s say) but you undergo a trauma like losing a job, losing a parent, or losing a child, and you don’t deal with that trauma, you could end up “coping” in a way that pushes love away.

This is a very good reminder to prioritize not only connection but your own capacity to process emotions and stress. If you’re struggling, get a good therapist. Join a support group. Invest in a workshop. Get a grief counselor. Take personal growth seriously so you are available for connection.

Because the data is clear that, in the end, you could have all the money you’ve ever wanted, a successful career, and be in good physical health, but without loving relationships, you won’t be happy.

The next time you’re scrolling through Facebook instead of being present at the table with your significant other, or you’re considering staying late at the office instead of getting together with your close friend, or you catch yourself working on a Saturday instead of going to the farmer’s market with your sister, consider making a different choice.

“Relationships are messy and they’re complicated,” acknowledges Waldinger. But he’s adamant in his research-backed assessment:
“The good life is built with good relationships.”

By Melanie Curtin     Writer, activist        @melaniebcurtin
source: www.inc.com


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Important Truths About Happiness

If you ask ten different people how to achieve happiness, it’s very likely you will receive ten different answers. Everyone has different views and thoughts about what makes them happy, and in some ways, it’s definitely a uniquely personal journey. However, there are some universal keys and skills for living a truly happy life that can make all the difference.

Personally, I believe happiness should be a subject they teach in school, starting at an early age.

It is, after all, one of our most important life skills, if not the most important. There are proven methods and techniques for being fundamentally happy which can be learned and practiced just like playing the piano. But, unfortunately, unlike piano lessons, happiness lessons aren’t something we commonly engage in.

Growing up, we’re misled to believe that happiness comes to us through success, material things, relationships, achievements, and other external sources. While these things can be wonderful and can contribute to a happy life, they’re only bricks and are not part of the foundation of happiness.

Building a foundation for living a fundamentally happy life across the board takes deliberate effort, knowledge, practice, and the development of habits that support happiness from within, even through dark times.

Like so many, I spent years and years of my life as an achievement junkie, chasing happiness, finding it in small, temporary doses through external sources. While these things would bring temporary highs, I would always find myself returning to a basic setting of lack and emotional mediocrity.

It wasn’t until my early thirties that I finally realized my strategy wasn’t working.

I finally changed course, turned within, and through dedicated practice and working with some wildly inspiring mentors, I discovered how to change my core emotional setting to one of overall happiness and peace. Since then, my life has drastically changed. I no longer go through long periods of darkness, there are more good days because I have learned to create them that way, and I have a much easier time bouncing back from setbacks and hard times.

While there are many elements to building a foundation for lasting happiness, including the practices of mindfulness, gratitude, self-acceptance, and love, there are three important truths about happiness that have stood out to me as things that often go unrecognized, but once understood, can change the way we think about and approach happiness.

The first is that being sad now and then is actually part of a happy, balanced life.

It’s a complete myth that truly happy people never feel depressed, defeated, or distraught. On top of this, we often tend to beat ourselves up for having these feelings instead of surrendering and allowing them to flow through. It’s about learning to recognize that there are valuable lessons to be learned from any life situation, and knowing that underneath everything you are guided and loved. It’s also about going within and feeling grateful for those opportunities, and learning how to deliberately find joy, even in the smallest doses, during the tough situations.

People often ask me how I am so damn happy all the time.

The answer is I’m not, but I have learned to find joy, peace, and lessons within the sad times, which helps me bounce back that much faster. And, I always know my happiness is the foundation of my life, even on the not-so-great days.

The second truth is that being happy is a way of life that takes deliberate hard work, concentration, and practice. Sometimes you even have to struggle and fight for it by defending personal boundaries and making hard decisions.

The good news is that the more you work at it, the better you get and it will begin to come naturally.

There are happiness muscles, and the more you work them and keep working them, the stronger they get and the more they will support you. This is a concept I wish I’d come to know much earlier in life.

You can learn to be a happier person just like you can learn to play a game of chess.

In chess, you learn and develop skills and strategies for setting yourself up for success, deciding exactly what to do when pieces are lost, and how to bounce back when the going gets tough. Being happy works very much the same.


Finally, being happy is much more physical than you would think.

It’s true that it comes from within, but everything physical, from what you eat to physical activity to simple physical acts like cracking a smile affect energy levels and brain chemistry, directly impacting our level of happiness. Aristotle said, “Happiness is a state of activity.” He was absolutely right.

Happiness is not just something we feel, it’s something we do.

Next time you feel down or anxiety ridden, think activity. Start working on a project you’ve been putting off, get some exercise, meditate, put on some music and do a happy dance, down some ultra healthy food, even just move around a bit and do some stretching. The results are immediate. Do these things daily and your level of overall happiness will increase drastically.

Take on the challenge of building yourself a solid foundation of happiness practices and skills that will be there to support you in living your happiest life. Ultimately, being happy is a conscious choice we must make on a daily (and sometimes even moment by moment) basis.

You can absolutely change your internal setting to one that idles regularly on happiness and joy, but it does take effort.

Be willing. Make it a project. Start with small changes. Read books on how to be happy to see what resonates with you. Create practices in your life that make you feel happy, keep them up, and don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect at it. We’re all works in progress, which is part of what makes life a beautiful adventure.

by Kristi Ling           02/2016


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The Trendiest Diets Of 2017 And What Nutrition Experts Say About Them

It’s hard to cut through all the diet noise today.
Here, the experts weigh in on the trendiest diets of 2017 to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Canadians pay billions of dollars a year to the diet industry, with some estimates putting its revenue at $7 billion. And while names like Weight Watchers and Atkins have become immediately recognizable (and celebrated or vilified, depending on the results they’ve yielded), new diets pop up all the time with promises of offering life-long changes.

But how many of them are actually effective and sustainable?

“The problem today is that people are so concerned with losing weight quickly, they don’t care about sustaining it six months down the line,” says Abby Langer, registered dietitian and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto. “They want to be able to do something today and wear a bikini tomorrow, but you want to make changes that will last for the rest of your life.”

There seems to be a careful formula needed to create hype behind diets today — and that includes a doctor’s seal of approval, celebrity endorsement and health claims backed by self-serving science.

At the end of the day, Langer says, finding a diet that will work is as personal as finding the right swimsuit. What might work for one may not work for another.

We’ve examined the six most popular diets today and asked the experts to weigh in on their claims and effectiveness.

#1 The Whole30

What it is: A diet that claims to “re-set” your body, and rid you of any food, skin or seasonal allergies by eliminating foods that cause inflammation and cravings. It’s a hardcore program that needs to be followed for 30 days with no interruptions. “Just a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods could break the healing cycle,” the website states. “One bite of pizza, one spoonful of ice cream, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30-day period and you’ve broken the ‘reset’ button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1.” Bonus: the diet strongly advises people against weighing themselves to measure progress.

What you eat: Moderate portions of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, some fruit, natural fats, herbs, spices and seasoning. (Coffee and tea allowed.)

What you eliminate: Real and added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy and soy.

What the experts say: Langer calls this “basically a cleanse,” but says the rationale behind cutting out healthy foods like dairy and whole grains, is based on poorly done research, and its restrictions make it virtually impossible to follow if you follow a plant-based diet. In addition, it sends a problematic message.

“What’s very disturbing about it is the insulting and punitive way it treats people. The people who wrote the diet claim it ends your relationship with unhealthy food, but I think it will start a new unhealthy relationship with food. It’s unforgiving, and if you don’t follow it, you’ve failed,” she says.

#2 The Dukan Diet

What it is: Created by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French neurologist and general practitioner, the diet consists of four phases that are meant to change your eating habits forever through a high protein, and low-fat and carbohydrate program. It boasts a list of 100 foods that are allowed on the diet and claims “no frustration and no starvation.” In phase one (“Attack” phase), you eat pure protein foods; phase two (“Cruise”) introduces non-starchy vegetables; phase three (“Consolidation”) gradually re-introduces starches; and phase four (“Stabilization”) allows all foods but requires consumption of three tablespoons of oat bran per day and one pure protein day per week.

What you eat: Lean meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, vegetarian proteins (soy, tempeh, tofu), fat-free dairy, eggs and vegetables. (Coffee, tea, unsweetened drinks and no more than one can of diet soda is allowed. No alcohol.)

What you eliminate: At the beginning, you only eat pure protein and other foods are re-introduced slowly throughout the phases. Oat bran is required every day through the entire program to boost fibre intake.

What the experts say: Thrust into the spotlight after it was revealed that Kate and Pippa Middleton followed this diet leading up to the Duchess’s wedding (“it got popular thanks to Pippa’s butt,” Langer quips), the experts once again take issue with Dukan’s restrictiveness.

“To be balanced and healthy it needs to have more focus on plant-based foods,” says Andrea Hardy, a registered dietitian in Calgary and owner of Ignite Nutrition. “Eating all that meat means you’re missing an opportunity to get phytochemicals, antioxidants and nutrients from fruits and vegetables.”

She also points out that the absence of fibre means you’ll lack healthy gut bacteria, which can lead to long-term health problems like anemia, high cholesterol and osteoporosis.

#3  The Paleo Diet

What it is: Created to mimic the way our ancestors ate (like in the Paleolithic period), this diet claims to lead to weight loss, optimize health and minimize the risk of chronic disease. This is another high protein, low carb diet that emphasizes non-starchy fruits and vegetables that won’t spike your blood sugar, and promotes moderate to high consumption of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It especially vilifies whole grains and dispels the notion that they are a rich source of fibre. In other words, if the hunter-gatherers before us didn’t eat it, neither should you — with the exception of the three non-Paleo meals per week that you’re allotted. (That’s when you can have wine.)

What you eat: Meat, poultry, fish, (non-starchy) fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils. (Moderate amounts of green tea allowed.)

What you eliminate: Grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed food, salt and refined vegetable oils, coffee.

What the experts say: Ultimately, Paleo is a sustainable diet for some people and is especially attractive to meat lovers. But, Hardy warns, a lot of people do Paleo wrong and fail to round out their protein-heavy meals with fruit and vegetables. In addition, its highly restrictive nature could end up driving people to consume unhealthy grains for a “cheat meal” which in turn muddies the relationship with healthy carbs.

“If it’s too restrictive, people will end up feeling like they’ve ‘fallen off the wagon’ when they consume grains, and will, therefore, gravitate to something unhealthy like a doughnut because they’re ‘cheating,’ instead of choosing a wholesome grain product,” she says.

#4 The Mediterranean Diet

What it is: This predominantly plant-based diet draws from the traditional foods consumed by Mediterranean dwellers (like Italians, French and Greeks). It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol, and is associated with reduced incidences of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. It promotes healthy fats as well as lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, some fish and very little red meat.

What you eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil. Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt should be eaten in moderation, and red meat should be eaten rarely. (Wine, coffee and tea are allowed.)

What you eliminate: Added sugar, refined grains, trans fats, processed meats, refined oils, highly processed foods.

What the experts say: This diet scored top marks for being sustainable, healthy, and well-researched to prove it lowers cholesterol and has anti-inflammatory effects.

“The idea is that you’re eating less animal protein, and less protein in general,” says Jessica Begg, registered dietitian and owner of Shift Nutrition in Calgary. “The protein powder industry has put so much emphasis on protein and we’re eating too much of it.”
She lauds the Mediterranean diet for focusing on sources of healthy fats and for not being restrictive.
“You’re not going to find a hack on Pinterest for a ‘Mediterranean chocolate cake,’ because it pushes a healthy balance of whole foods and allows almost everything,” Hardy says.

She says it’s not necessary to completely adopt it, either. People can slowly incorporate elements of the Mediterranean diet into their lives, like swapping out peanut oil for olive oil and eating pulses once a week, and they’ll still reap some benefits.

#5 The Alkaline Diet

What it is: The premise of this diet is that it will neutralize and balance the body’s natural pH by eliminating acidity. Our kidneys are responsible for maintaining our electrolyte levels, but chronic exposure to an acidic environment will cause those levels to deplete and result in acidosis. This acidity “robs” essential minerals from our bones, cells, organs and tissues, and accelerates the aging process, leads to a gradual loss of organ functions, and degenerates tissue and bone mass. By eating alkaline foods (like fresh fruits and vegetables, and unprocessed plant-based protein) you’ll stave off chronic health issues like diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and low bone density. It also pushes organic foods because research says the type of soil plants and vegetables grow in can influence their vitamin and mineral content.

What you eat: Fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic and raw), plant proteins (including soy and tofu), limited quantities of meat (preferably organic), alkaline water, green drinks made from green vegetables and grasses, and some dairy (like probiotic yogurt and kefir).

What you eliminate: Processed foods, processed cereals, eggs, lentils, fish, oats and whole wheat products, milk, peanuts and walnuts, pasta, rice, bread, alcohol, caffeine.

What the experts say: This one is plain bunk, experts say.

“There’s absolutely no evidence to support that this is a thing,” Begg says. “The premise is that you’re trying to maintain an alkaline system but our pH levels are tightly controlled by our bodies.”
Langer echoes her sentiments and calls this diet “a mockery of basic physiology.”
“This diet claims that cancer grows in an acidic environment, but in actuality, cancer creates the acidic environment,” she says, therefore the research has it backwards.
Hardy agrees that there’s no scientific evidence to back up the diet’s claims of alkalinity — “your kidneys and lungs act as a buffer for you and help maintain your pH regardless of what you eat” — but appreciates its focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.

#6 Intermittent Fasting

What it is: The concept of this diet is to “feast” and then fast for an extended period of time. Its roots date back to the 1930s, when researchers were trying to determine the benefits of reducing calorie intake by skipping meals. During that time, a scientist noticed that significantly reducing calorie intake helped mice live longer. Since then, more studies were conducted (on monkeys, fruit flies and roundworms) and in all cases, a reduced calorie diet was linked to longevity and lowered risk of common diseases. It is credited with burning fat, since during the extended fasted phases, your body doesn’t have food to burn for energy so it will naturally burn your stores of fat. As a result, it will promote weight loss and build muscle.

What you eat: It’s not what you eat, but how you eat. The 16/8 method involves fasting for 16 hours and eating all your calories within an eight-hour window. The 5:2 plan involves eating normally for five days and consuming no more than 600 calories for two days. Eat-Stop-Eat involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week; alternate day fasting requires you to fast every other day, although some plans allow 500 calories on fasting days; the “Warrior” diet involves eating a small amount of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and a large meal at night; and spontaneous meal skipping allows you to decide which meals to skip and when. In all cases, it is recommended to eat a healthy, balanced diet of whole foods, and to avoid processed and junk foods as they aren’t filling.

What you eliminate: Food.

What the experts say: This diet sounds rigorous and outlandish, but it has “good scientific evidence” to back it up, Hardy says. The main issue is eating the right things during the “feasting” phase.

“I’ve had clients do this and end up gaining weight because they eat whatever they want within that time frame without honouring their hunger and fullness,” she says.

The other concern is that it could trigger an already tenuous relationship with the way a person eats.

“Emotionally it can be very triggering for a person who struggles with an eating disorder because it promotes starving and bingeing,” Langer says.

She says it could be beneficial for anyone who has “lost their hunger cues” due to over-dieting (this can happen to people who diet all the time and are accustomed to always being hungry) because it’ll become very clear what real hunger feels like.

“But if you aren’t able to control yourself when it’s time to eat because you’re so hungry, that’s a problem.”

By Marilisa Racco  National Online Journalist, Smart Living  Global News


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Fun Fact Friday

  • People who speak two languages, may unconsciously change their personality when they switch languages.

  • Cuddling has the same effect on your brain as taking painkillers.

 

  • Your mind spends about 70% of it’s time replaying memories and creating scenarios.

  • When a person becomes more likeable because they are clumsy or make mistakes, it’s called the “Pratfall Effect.”

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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This Mineral Fights Depression — And It Is Cheaper And Safer Than Drugs

The supplement starts to take effect after only two weeks, the researchers found.

Over-the-counter magnesium is a safe and effective way to treat mild to moderate depression, a new study suggests.

The mineral magnesium has already been linked to lower inflammation and improvements in depression.

Now a new randomised controlled trial has tested the effects of magnesium chloride supplements compared with no treatment.

For the research, half of 126 people with mild to moderate depression were given 248 mg of magnesium chloride per day for six weeks.

After just two weeks, some positive effects of the supplement could be seen.

Those taking magnesium had clinically significant improvements over the six weeks.

People did not have any problems taking magnesium and there were no differences based on sex, age, whether people were also taking antidepressants, or other factors.

More than half of the people in the study said they would continue to take magnesium to help them with their depression.

Ms Emily Tarleton, the study’s first author, said:

“This is the first randomized clinical trial looking at the effect of magnesium supplementation on symptoms of depression in U.S. adults.
The results are very encouraging, given the great need for additional treatment options for depression, and our finding that magnesium supplementation provides a safe, fast and inexpensive approach to controlling depressive symptoms.”

Ms Tarleton says that the next stage is to move on to larger populations to see if the results can be replicated.

While many more studies have investigated antidepressant medications, there is also much evidence of their side-effects.

A survey of people taking antidepressants has found higher than expected levels of emotional numbness, sexual problems and even suicidal thoughts associated with the medication.

Of the 20 adverse effects to antidepressants that people were questioned about:

  • 62% said they had ‘sexual difficulties’,
  • 52% said they ‘didn’t feel like themselves’,
  • 42% noticed a ‘reduction in positive feelings’,
  • 39% found themselves ‘caring less about others’,
  • and 55% reported ‘withdrawal effects’.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Tarleton et al., 2017).

 
JULY 12, 2017
source: PsyBlog


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What Happens to Your Brain When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

If you’re tossing and turning every night, there’s some bad news. Your brain could be in big trouble!

And you thought getting your recommended seven to nine hours of zzz’s was the only thing you needed to worry about. Oddly enough, there are some pretty scary side effects to sleep loss, all around. (By the way, getting too much sleep could be bad for your health, too.)

A study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, investigated how the brain responds to bad sleep habits using lab mice. Their surprising discovery revealed that not getting enough deep sleep, along with not sleeping at all, can literally cause your brain to start eating itself. No kidding!

The team of researchers, led by neuroscientist Michele Bellesi from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, divided the mice into four groups. While the well-rested group slept for six to eight hours, another was periodically woken up from sleep, the third group was kept awake for an extra eight hours, and a final group remained chronically sleep-deprived, staying awake for five days straight.

When the researchers compared brain activity across the four groups, they noted something odd. The neurons of both the well-rested and sleep-deprived groups continued the same healthy brain-cleaning activity that always happens when we sleep. But the brains of the sleep-deprived mice went into overdrive and began harming themselves, too.

Sound crazy? We don’t blame you. But this isn’t news to the scientific community. As we sleep, our brains do more than replenish our energy; they also clear away the toxic byproducts of neural activity from the day. (It’s also why your brain has a delete button!) While we’ve known that this process occurs when we get a good night’s sleep, apparently the same thing can happen when we lose sleep, too. But because of the lack of shut-eye, the brain goes a bit overboard with its cleaning—hence its terrifying self-eating habit.

We have only one conclusion. In the name of your brain’s health, you have a pretty good reason to hit the hay an hour earlier tonight.

BY BROOKE NELSON
source: www.rd.com


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This ‘Superfruit’ Improves Memory and Cognitive Function

Eating blueberries could help improve memory and cognitive function, a new study finds.

Researchers recruited 47 older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

Some of them had the equivalent of a cup of blueberries in powder form each day for 16 weeks.

Others had a placebo powder.

Professor Robert Krikorian, who led the research, explained the results:

“There was improvement in cognitive performance and brain function in those who had the blueberry powder compared with those who took the placebo.
The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts.
Our new findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults.”

A second study examined older people who thought their memories might be declining, but who did not have a diagnosis.


They were split into four groups with comparison groups for fish oil and various other combinations.

Professor Krikorian said:

“The results were not as robust as with the first study.
Cognition was somewhat better for those with powder or fish oil separately, but there was little improvement with memory.”

It could be that the blueberries are better for people with some impairments and not so effective for those who are more healthy, Professor Krikorian said.

The study was presented at the at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

MARCH 15, 2016
source: PsyBlog