Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


How Well You Age Is All About Attitude, Says New Global Study

VANCOUVER—A simple shift in attitude could improve a lot for the world’s elderly population, according to a new global study.

That’s because how well we age is connected to how we view old age, the study stated, noting those with a positive attitude toward old age are likely to live longer — up to eight years — than their negative counterparts.

And older people in countries with low levels of respect for seniors are at risk for worse mental and physical health as well as higher levels of poverty, the Orb Media study found. By compiling global data, researchers also surveyed 150,000 people in 101 countries to discover levels of respect for older adults, which varied from country to country.

Canada ranked in the lower third of all for respect, along with Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

But one British Columbian expert pointed out that the study may not entirely reflect Canada’s position with the elderly.

“Our human rights legislation, federally and provincially provide protections against age discrimination,” said Christopher McLeod, associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of population and public health. “And many countries do not have these protections.”

McLeod said the association between negative views on aging and the relationship to health “made a lot of sense.” But he warned about statements of causality with specific attitudes toward health decline.

Despite that, seniors’ loneliness and social exclusion are key risk factors leading to declined health, he added. A 2017 report by the Vancouver Foundation found that people report high levels of social isolation and loneliness, noting a decline in community participation over the last five years.

“When we think about determinants of health, there are features in our society that are influenced by social or policy decisions, like income, education, your employment and its conditions,” McLeod said. “What we know now, is many of those things are far more important in terms of determining an individual’s health than medical care.”


The world is facing a rapidly aging population —
by 2050, roughly one in six people will be over 65.

Countries everywhere are aging rapidly, and if trends continue, by 2050 roughly one out of six people will be over 65 and nearly half a billion will be older than 80, the report noted. Yet, public debate about this demographic shift is often focused on the anticipated economic and social challenges.

Analysis from the World Health Organization found that 60 per cent of people surveyed across 57 countries reported low levels of respect for seniors, viewing them less competent than the young and considering them a burden on society and their families.

Something as simple as how you think about aging can have a huge range of health factors, said Jim Rendon, a journalist with Orb Media.

“There’s less likelihood of dementia, heart attacks and a longer life span according to research out of Yale University,” he said. “If you have a positive attitude, you’re more likely to recover quickly from a disabling accident, like a broken hip. And less likely to be depressed and anxious.”

And the report dispelled some of the cultural myths in the East and West, Rendon said. In fact, the research found the West had more respect for the elderly than eastern countries. He cited the example of Japan — at the leading edge of the demographic shift with low birth rates and long life spans — but ranked low when it came to social respect for seniors.

But in Pakistan, well-being was less associated with youth and Rendon speculated that might have something to do with cultural traditions such as extended families living with older adults.

“Intergenerational relationships can be very helpful in terms of breaking down the stereotypes about age,” he said.

Notably, the study revealed no meaningful connection between the gross income of a country and level of respect. Rendon said that indicates respect is not limited to economic status.

To understand how attitude may impact health, he pointed to studies about biomarkers of stress: The more negative the attitude the higher the stress level. In addition, Rendon said “if you think you’re going to have an active life, you just take care of yourself better.”

And you don’t need to be “old” to have a positive attitude age: Studies out of Yale University followed people in their twenties through a lifetime and found that those with a positive view were less likely to have a heart attack in their 60s.

“That brought home the idea that it’s not just what you think when you’re old,” he said. “But it’s how you perceive aging.”


By MELANIE GREEN     StarMetro Vancouver   Wed., June 13, 2018


Life Is Wonderful vs. Life Is Woeful

Reconciling the positive aspects of life with the terrible is challenging.

In an era of incivility and aggression—an era of selfishness, greed and exploitation; with a wealth-poverty gap, political polarization, fundamentalist extremism, terrorism, fascist rhetoric, misogyny, gun violence, racism and anti-Semitism, war, and so much more—how can we possibly tolerate such terrible circumstances?

On the other hand, in an era of exciting progress—scientific discoveries; magnificent art, writing and music; relative peace; international cooperation; feminist progress; philanthropy; exploration of the cosmos; mindfulness and spirituality; and so much more—how is that we’re so fortunate to live in such an idyllic world?

How do we possibly manage to put the disturbing negatives of our lives into some perspective which enables us also to recognize love, laughter, tears, play, creativity, productivity, pleasure and resilience?

Weathering The Storm

How are we able to recognize that life is both wonderful and woeful?


  1. We compartmentalize. We put depressing events and temporary ecstasies in mind compartments, where these ephemera belong, and, facing “Triumph and Disaster,” we “treat these two impostors just the same” (as in Kipling’s poem “If”).
  2. We are mindful of and grateful for those we love, for our health, our sustenance and supports, and for our work and interests.
  3. We work and struggle to make a better world; we become contributing human beings, acting against unfairness and cruelty, and create a positive emotional footprint, treating others with kindness and respect, volunteering and helping those in less fortunate material, physical, or psychological straits.
  4. We philosophize. While we detest unfairness and cruelty in the world, we recognize that plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose—that history has endured many troublesome eras, and that basic human needs and propensities haven’t changed over the millennia.
  5. We note and savor the positive changes in the world, like the spread of democracies; peace agreements; inspirational figures like Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and the Dalai Lama; the successful Paris talks on climate change; the apology and reparations from Japan to South Korea regarding “comfort women”; ISIS setbacks; the eradication of polio and progress against other diseases; the public contributions of major foundations; Habitat for Humanity; the Peace Corps; random acts of kindness; and much more.
  6. We engage in local and national democratic and political processes, to ensure as best we can that responsible, knowledgeable, mature, dedicated individuals are elected to public office.
  7. We overcome. We demonstrate, even in the face of challenges and adverse circumstances, our spirit, stamina, intelligence, initiative, and energy—and with the help of others, we withstand and display resilience and benevolence.
  8. We smell the flowers, and we plant the flowers…


Saul Levine M.D., is a professor emeritus at the University of California at San Diego.
Posted Jan 05, 2016    Saul Levine M.D. Saul Levine M.D.    Our Emotional Footprint

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Why (Some) Substitutes Don’t Satisfy Us

The more similar they are, the greater disappointment they evoke.

Have you ever craved a full-fat chocolate milkshake but opted for a diet frozen yogurt because you wanted to “be good”? But chances are that scarfing down the yogurt wasn’t just less pleasurable; it may actually have increased your craving, amplified your dissatisfaction, and set you up for a binge.

According to a new study led by Rochester University’s Melissa Sturge-Apple, this happens because the substitute food you chose too closely resembled what you actually wanted. As a result, you spent every bite registering just how far it fell short from what you truly craved.

Sturge-Apple’s team whetted hundreds of adults’ and undergraduates’ appetites for a particular brand of gourmet chocolate by having them taste test tiny pieces of it. Over the course of several experiments, the team repeatedly split participants into two groups—those who were invited to snack on similar but inferior quality substitutes for the high-end chocolate (i.e., knock-off versions of the chocolate or chocolate-covered peanuts) and those who were invited to snack on categorically different snacks (i.e., honey granola bars). The goal was to test which substitute food item did a better job of satisfying participants’ lab-induced hankering.

What the researchers found was that the similar but not quite up-to-snuff swaps left participants dissatisfied and still wanting the gourmet treat just as much (if not more), while the dissimilar option successfully quashed their pre-primed cravings.

In a follow-up study, participants who’d snacked on subpar substitutes or dissimilar swaps were surprised with a bowl full of the gourmet chocolate they’d initially been induced to crave. Upon being told to “eat as much as you like,” those who’d recently settled for similar but not quite as awesome alternatives ate far more of the chocolate than those who’d been sated with a non-chocolate distraction.

Sturge-Apple’s team believes that the reason too-similar substitutes fail to curb most peoples’ cravings—and eventually even make us eat way more than we otherwise would have—is because we can’t help comparing the replacement to the original. Because a knock-off chocolate brand (or, in other cases, a “diet” or “low-cal” treat) resembles what we actually want, we expect it to sate us just as well. But that substitute’s unlikeness in flavor dashes our expectations and compels us to seek the satisfaction we really yearn for elsewhere—if not through quality, then through quantity. (Cue the binge.)


Despite our assumptions that we’ll be content with an item similar to the item we truly desire, Sturge-Apple et al.’s findings suggest we’re much better off seeking a novel treat if we can’t—or won’t allow ourselves to—secure what we really want.

“Contrary to participants’ belief that within-category substitutes are more satisfying,” Sturge-Apple and her team reported in the journal Psychological Science, “a cross-category substitute more effectively reduced cravings for a desired stimulus than did a within-category substitute…Indeed, consuming the cross-category substitute was as effective at reducing cravings for the desired stimulus as consuming the desired stimulus itself.”

She reasons that the lack of satisfaction received from so-called “cross-category substitutes” originates from their lower likelihood of “evoking a negative comparison to the desired stimulus.” (Dissimilar foods, in other words, aren’t likely to increase our hopes of feeling satisfied. Rather, a novel item may inspire a new hankering, so that all we have to do to feel satisfied is eat what’s newly in front of us.)

Sturge-Apple’s team believes that the effects of reaching for similarity or novelty in our ongoing hunt for satisfaction extend well beyond the realm of food. They point toward “consequential domains, such as jobs, benefits, and consumer goods” as offering equal fluctuations of satisfaction, depending on how we strategize when we can’t get precisely what we want. For example, if you repeatedly can’t land the dream position in the company you work for, you may be better off—happier—applying to work at a different company altogether. Or if you can’t seem to find joy in new romantic relationships because you’re comparing each partner to your idealized ex, then maybe it’s time to seek out a different “type.”

“Of course, cross-category substitutes have to meet the same needs or serve the same function as the desired stimulus,” Sturge-Apple et al point out, lest you veer too far from what you’re looking for and just end up getting lost. “For example,” the researchers offer, “we assume that people who want a 60-inch television will be more satisfied if they choose a 42-inch television as its substitute rather than an expensive coffeemaker.”

Ditto for jobs and dating: It’s probably not a helpful solution to take a new gig doing something you’re not even sure you like as a response to not getting promoted doing what you love. It will be equally unsatisfying to go on a rampage of one-night stands if you’re truly looking for a meaningful romantic connection. (Though some studies suggest that rebounds can help us get over breakups.)

Whether it’s food, love, work, or any other existential arena that forces you to accept that you can’t always get exactly what you want, Sturge-Apple’s findings suggest that the key to keeping your level of contentment high—and possibly avoiding binges, bad romances, and dead-end jobs—is to seek alternate ways to fulfill your needs and desires, even if you might not immediately consider these to be perfect solutions.

However, the larger takeaway is that comparisons breed disappointment: Whether you’re measuring a substitute food against an idealized but unattainable one, a new partner against a romanticized ex, or the reality of a career against the imagined trajectory you thought it would take.

But in cases when obtaining a novel means of satisfaction isn’t possible, you might benefit even more from the radical act of acceptance. If what (or who) you end up with falls short of your expectations, you’re better poised to experience that thing or person’s joys, qualities, and potentials for satisfaction. Crosby Stills and Nash may have said it best: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” Or just eat what’s in front of you and get over the impulse to compare it to something else.

Katherine Schreiber and Heather Hausenblas Ph.D.    Posted Jun 14, 2016


Buddha’s Keys to Unlocking Change in your Life

By Luke Miller        Saturday April 9th, 2016

There are no guarantees
the life we are living today
will be the same tomorrow

There are very few certainties in life but one thing that will remain consistent through your life is, you will continually have challenges and problems to overcome and while these challenges will differ from person to person, the solution for any problems can be broken down into 7 key areas for development.

In a sacred text called the Sabbāsava Sutta the Buddha outlines these 7 areas; my interpretation of this text is below. The original text is available to read here in Pāḷi and English.

1. Knowledge/Insight

We currently live in an age of information, and while this stockpile of knowledge can at times be overwhelming it is very useful for overcoming challenges in your life.

When you have a challenge there is always a solution out there, it’s your job to gather the info, syphon the good from the bad and work out a plan for getting there.

It’s not always easy; in fact it’s usually very difficult and depending on the problem you are facing could take some real trial and error.

But if you are determined to overcome a problem you are facing there will always be a solution out there, you just have to find it!

2. Resistance/Replacement

When you are making a transition in life there will be times when you will have to call on your resistance to temptation.

If you are starting a new exercise regime, trying to overcome procrastination or trying to get rid of an addiction of any type, there will be times when you will have to resist the temptation to fall back into bad habits. But while this is very important it is really only part of the solution.

To give up a bad habit using resistance alone would be very difficult, so when you are trying to change a bad routine you will find it easier if you consciously replace it with a more productive one.

If you stop smoking, you could start painting. If you stop eating junk food, you could start eating health food. Or if you are going to stop hanging out in nightclubs and getting drunk, you could start going to yoga and drinking raw juice.

It’s very important that you consciously look for a healthy, sustainable replacement to bad habits, because if you don’t you may end up with a worse habit in its place.

3. Consumption

Consumption works both ways; you could be over consuming or under consuming.

You could be eating too much or not enough. You could be not drinking enough water or be drinking too much fizzy drinks. You could be buying too much stuff that you don’t need or you could be depriving yourself from the things that you do need.

However it is in your case, consuming more or less of certain things will help you overcome some of life’s challenges.

This lesson really goes hand in hand with knowledge as when you learn more about your need’s as a human being you get more of an understanding of what you need to consume more or less of.

A prime example of this is medicine and when I say medicine I am not just talking about pills, I am also talking about plants, herbs and food medicines.

A lot of us are taking pills for problems that we can overcome naturally and because of these pills we are starting treatment with one problem and the side effects of these medicines are leaving us with more problems all of which need different pills to overcome them.

This is the vicious circle of symptom based treatment and not looking at health as a whole.

Most illness, spiritual, emotional, mental and physical can be overcome naturally. So try your best to find out how you can use nature to overcome your problems before consuming toxic and dangerous medicines.

Consumption also works for the mind to, your thoughts become things. So if you are stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts you may want to try to replace them with something a little more positive.


4. Patience/Persistence

You cannot always have what you want, when you want it! This is not a bad thing; just imagine everything you set out to do was completed straight away. You would have nothing to aim for, no goals and no reason to wake up in the morning.

If you have something big that you want in your life you will have to be patient and you will also need to be persistent.

If you have something big that you want in your life you will have to be patient.
If you work every day towards a goal and that goal is something that you have some control over then the only thing that can stand between you and your goal is time!

One thing to remember here is to try and enjoy the journey, if you think a certain goal will bring you happiness and you struggle to find anything to be grateful for on the way chances are when you finally get there you will still not feel satisfied.

Celebrate every small victory on route to your big goals, be patient and persistent and you will get there in the end!

5. Avoidance

Some things in your life will be out of your control, certain people and places will leave a negative impact on you. Sometimes it will not be possible to just walk away from these things, but you can do your best to avoid them.

If someone at work acts negatively and always leaves you feeling down avoid them. If you are making dietary changes and your friends are going to a fast food restaurant don’t go. If your partner happens to love Housewives Of New Jersey and you don’t, go read a book when they are watching it!

Some things in life will need to be confronted, but sometimes the best way to deal with a problem is to just avoid or ignore it.

6. Removal

There will be times in your life when avoiding a problem is just not viable. Sometimes in life you have to make tough decisions, but usually the tough decisions result in the biggest impact.

Sometimes friendships and relationships end. Sometimes a career is having such a negative impact on your life that you will have to leave. Sometimes you have to stop relying on will power to help you through your diet and throw out them chocolate chip cookies.

Your life is your responsibility and when certain things have a constant negative impact on you, you will have to make a decision – am I going to accept this or remove it and move on.

This can be one of the hardest things a person can do, but when you take note of things, people and places that impact your life in a bad way and do your best to remove them, your life will change for the better.

7. Lifestyle

The first step for lifestyle is finding out what lifestyle you really want, a lot of people go into adulthood without knowing what they want or what they stand for.

Lifestyle will affect your health, wealth and relationships so it’s important if you want to lead a fulfilling life that you know what you want and build a lifestyle around that.

Lifestyle is really a combination of the knowledge you acquire, the daily habits you partake in and what you deem to be acceptable on your journey.

It’s very important that you set strict boundaries in some areas of your life to make sure your life is the one you want to be living.

Let’s face it we all have the same amount of time in the day, yet some people can barely manage to get on top of household chores, While others can run a Fortune 500 company and still find the time to meditate, go to the gym and hang out with friends and family in the evening.

It’s very much about viewing your life and seeing what is productive and empowering you and what is negative and disempowering you. Then doing more of the positive and less of the negative!


Why Complaining Is Literally Killing You & Making You Sick

April 4, 2016    by Sharmini Gana

We all do it — you know, complain about people or situations in our life. We may even call it “venting” in an effort to disguise our complaining, but when it all boils down to it, they’re both the same behaviour.

On the surface, complaining may seem harmless — perhaps even helpful, as venting may make us feel better — but complaining can have serious physical and mental ramifications.

Society itself seems to encourage complaining — we complain about work and being overworked, we complain about lack of time and being too busy to enjoy life, we complain about politics (a favourite past- and present- time activity for many), we complain about family members and issues, we complain about lack of sleep and feeling exhausted, and we love to complain when we get sick— the list goes on and on….

Even if we ourselves don’t complain much (or so we think, though I hope this article makes you take a hard, honest look at your own habits, as it did for me), we all know of people who incessantly complain and how draining it is to be around these “negative Nellies.”

So, how does complaining affect us? From a brain perspective, “synapses that wire together fire together” — this is a basic premise of neuroscience. Every time you complain, you are reinforcing that wiring and making it easier to trigger it. Do it often enough and it can become your default setting. Negative thoughts beget more negative thoughts and you can easily fall into a cycle of negative thinking and chronic complaining.

In addition, misery loves company, so complainers tend to have friends who also complain, which further reinforces the pattern. Complainers also affect people around them. Ever find yourself sympathizing and sharing your own personal similar experience when someone complains to you about something specific? It can happen easily and unintentionally, even to the least complaining and most positive person. Sometimes this can lead to a long conversation comprising entirely of complaints, ie. focused on politics in a negative way or the fear and anger of what is going on in the world. Ask yourself, how do you feel afterwards?

stop complaining

Prolonged complaining leads to stress, and it’s well documented that prolonged stress makes us sick: weakening the immune system, raising blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, and causing a plethora of other ailments.

Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels (the stress hormone) interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, promote weight gain and heart disease, and increase blood pressure and cholesterol. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression and mental illness, and lower life expectancy.

How To Stop Complaining
Being human, however, we may need to vent once in a while, so here are some tips to help you avoid over-complaining:

Take time out to cool off and step back from whatever is bothering you so you can diffuse your emotions/anger. Try some deep breathing, go for a walk in nature, hit the gym, meditate, or do something fun or relaxing to calm yourself.

Write down what is bothering you — writing helps us to better understand why we are upset and can help us see the situation with a more balanced perspective.

Take responsibility for your part in the situation; don’t just blame the other person as the wrongdoer. What is the learning for you? What is this situation teaching you? Introspection is helpful for finding balance and being open to a solution or determining if it’s best to let it go at this time.

If you need to vent, let the Listener know ahead of time, so they can prepare themselves or let you know that now is not a good time.

Keep it short — this is very important, as we humans tend to go into stories when we moan and groan. It’s best to keep your share to under 2 minutes to avoid drama and dumping. Ask your Listener to intervene and gently yet firmly stop you if you go past the 2 minutes — you will both be thankful.

Remember that complaining affects your energy, mood, brain activity, and stress levels. If you need to vent, keep it short and sweet, for everyone’s sake — especially your own.



Real Preventive Medicine: The 5 Keys to Staying Healthy

Elson M. Haas, MD

What is called “Preventive Medicine” in America in the 21st Century is really more appropriately termed early intervention and early diagnosis. Having immunization injections or taking tests such as x-rays and mammograms, prostate exams, and blood tests are not really preventive in nature. Rather, they are an attempt to detect diseases in an early state. What is promoted as cancer prevention with the use of mammograms or prostate exams, sigmoidoscopes or colonoscopes is really early cancer diagnosis. This is done in hopes that cancer can be aggressively attacked before it spreads and destroys the entire body and life. Cancer represents a state of toxicity and its reaction on cellular mechanisms in the body; it is a disease of our body and not separate from it, and represents some breakdown or misguidance of our intricate immune system. After it occurs, it clearly is difficult to treat without great measures. Preventing cancer (and cardiovascular diseases, for that matter) is indeed an important goal in preventive medicine.

Real Preventive Medicine—preventing acute and chronic diseases—in other words, Staying Healthy, results from the way we live. We are a culmination of our life experiences. Our health is a by-product of our life, our genes and constitutional state, our upbringing and the habits we develop, our diets, our stresses and how we deal with them, our illnesses and how we treat them (whether we attempt to discover the underlying cause and change our lifestyle so we no longer manifest disease patterns)—all of this and more affects the level of health and vitality we experience. How we live—our lifestyle choices—is the key to long-term health, quality of life, and vitality in our later years.

The five keys to good health and disease prevention are:

  • Diet—what we eat and how, i.e. our intake habits.
  • Exercise—stretching and working our body regularly to keep it flexible and strong.
  • Sleep—adequate rest and sleep (and dream time) for each of us is crucial to “recharging our batteries,” healing many problems, keeping our moods balanced and staying healthy.
  • Stress Management—learning to deal with life’s ups and downs.
  • Attitude—keeping a positive outlook so we treat our self and others with the life-supporting respect and care we deserve.

The first level of dietary reform involves assessing potentially-toxic daily habits, such as the regular use of sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals—what I call our SNACCs—and cleaning these up or taking breaks from them to re-assess our health potential and how we feel. I believe all of these substance abuses so common in modern-day cultures act as insidious poisons when used consistently over the years. The incidence of chronic, debilitating disease is steadily growing in our culture and these long-term habits are also prime contributors to this poor health in our aging years.

My nutritional message in my personal life, practice and my books has been to turn back (or forward) to a nature-based diet for greater vitality and health, to eat closer to the earth’s food source, from the gardens, farmer’s market, from the orchards, away from the boxed and canned foods and the refined and “chemicalized” cuisine. Focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, nuts and seeds, and much less animal-based foods and refined/processed foods will greatly improve health, both in our immediate future and over the years.


Our exercise program must be frequent (at least three to four times a week), consistent over the years, and balanced, which is very important. A balanced exercise program should include regular stretching for flexibility, weight work for building tone and strength, and aerobics for endurance and stamina. Exercising regularly commonly improves body function and health as well as attitude. It is one of our best stress managers, relaxers, and mood elevators.

We should exercise realistically at our current level of physical strength and endurance so that we can progress consistently and avoid injury. If we are just beginning and not in great shape, we can start slowly and build as our stamina and strength improve. If we have been working out regularly and are already fit, then it is beneficial to periodically evaluate our state and progress, and then make appropriate changes to exercise at our full potential.

Sleep offers life’s balance for all of our activity, and that’s physical, mental and emotional activity, too. Like breathing fresh air, drinking good quality water, and eating a nourishing diet, our nightly quality sleep is crucial to our well-being. There are many stages of sleep important to our body’s recharging itself, and although we all do not regularly recollect our dreams, we need to sleep deeply enough to go into that theta wave, REM (rapid-eye-movement), dream sleep. If we are not sleeping well, applying the other principles of Preventive Medicine, such as eating well and avoiding stimulants, exercising regularly earlier in the day, and managing stress may all be helpful. And we don’t have to turn to medications for sleep because there are many natural remedies that can help, such as calcium and magnesium, L-tryptophan, and many herbal relaxers.

Managing stress is a key element in minimizing health risk and enjoying life. Stresses are our body/mind responses to our personal experiences and we are individual in the issues to which we respond and react. There are so many illnesses and diseases that are generated or worsened by stress that it is imperative each of us develop skills to deal with mental and physical demands and emotional challenges. Simple relaxation techniques, meditation, exercise, sports, outdoor activities, and especially internal disciplines like yoga or tai chi are all extremely valuable in dealing with both daily and long-term stress.

I believe one of the greatest problems of modern day life is the Indigestion of Life. Most of us do not have enough personal time to digest and assimilate our daily experiences— work, relationships, and food that we experience rapid-fire throughout our day-to-day existence. This leads to the implosion of energy and the potential explosion of emotions or bodily symptoms. These are our body’s attempt to convey messages we do not have time to receive and incorporate. Here again, it would be helpful if we were to take time to quiet ourselves, to breathe and listen, to digest and assimilate, to experience and enjoy. Taking time to clear ourselves, to become current and ready for new creativity and life is a concept and an activity that can lead us to more optimum health.

Likewise, staying positive and motivated to experience life, unafraid to handle challenges or deal with uncomfortable emotions is also crucial to health. Lifestyle Medicine is the highest art of healing for each of us. As a doctor, I believe the most important thing I can do is to encourage my patients and readers to make personal changes in their lifestyle—diet, exercise, proper sleep, stress management, and attitude. If our lifestyle supports health, then we can influence our own health over the course of our entire lives.

Our personal health and well-being is up to each of us. We can begin by first assessing our health and lifestyle. What changes will provide us with more energy, greater clarity and vitality, and better overall health and longevity? We can create a plan to implement and experience a better quality of health with fewer sick days, fewer doctor’s visits, and a more enjoyable and livable life.

Elson M. Haas, MD is a medical practitioner with nearly 40 years experience in patient care, always with in an interest in natural medicine. For the past 30 years, he has been instrumental in the development and practice of Integrated Medicine at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (PMCM), which he founded in 1984 and where he is the Medical Director. Dr Haas has been perfecting a model of healthcare that integrates sophisticated Western diagnostics and Family Medicine with time-honored natural therapies from around the world.
This educating, writing doctor is also the author of many books including Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition, The NEW Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans and more. Visit his website for more information on his work, books and to sign up for his newsletter.


How to Be an Optimist: 5 Ways to Maintain a Positive Disposition

November 5, 2015      Aris Moreno

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~ Winston S. Churchill

When we hear the word optimism, the first thing that will probably come to your mind is the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” or “see the glass half-full rather than half empty”. But if we experience a lot of problems, becoming an optimist is easier said than done. Though it can be challenging to stay optimistic, we need to help ourselves to stay positive so that we can think more clearly and find ways to overcome our trials. But how do we exactly shift our perspective? Consider the following tips:

Re-program your mind.

“I can’t do this.”

“My problems seem unending.”

“It feels like no one loves me.”

And other negative statements that seems to fill your mind and heart each day.

Remember that your worst enemy is no one else but yourself. Each time you find yourself thinking negatively, try to counteract it by filling your mind with positive thoughts. If your problems started to fill your mind, just know that everything will be fine and that each challenge has a corresponding solution. Outweigh your negative thoughts with positive ones.

stay positive

Use positive affirmations:

Even if you’re not aware of it, a lot of us are familiar with positive affirmations. Here are some that you can use each morning to make your day brighter and more positive:

“Life is giving me everything that’s necessary for my own good.”

“I’m facing this day with a healthy body and positive mind.”

“I see the blessings in the challenges I face.”

“I put more attention on things that are good for me.”

“I choose to be happy today.”

“I endure almost everything.”

It’s more advisable to write these affirmations on a piece of paper and post it near your bed, so that it is the last thing you see before you sleep at night and the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning. You can also create your own affirmations that match your needs. When you do so, remember these two things:

  • You need to construct it in the present tense, not in the past or future. For example, if you need peace of mind, say “My mind is peaceful,” instead of saying “My mind will find peace and clarity eventually.”
  • Focus on having a positive tone and avoid negative statements. Instead of saying, “I will not get sick,” say, “I have a healthy body and disposition.” Always remember that whatever you think, whether it’s positive or negative, is what you will attract in your life.

Expose yourself to things that can uplift your heart and mind.

It’s true that there are some events in your life that you can’t control and have no power to change. However, there are also things that you can manipulate like what you watch on TV and what you read on your Facebook News Feed. Avoid TV programs that don’t teach you any valuable lesson or that will only make you feel stressed or angry. Hide posts from friends who constantly hate and complain on Facebook if deleting them from your friends list is not an option. You need positive reinforcements to be successful at positive living. Do everything you can to give yourself that because only you can do so, not your family, friends, and other people you come across with.

Don’t escape from reality.

Becoming an optimist is not an escape route to your problems. This is just one of the ways to cope with challenges, help you think more clearly, and stay calm during situations that doesn’t work in your favor. Just because your optimistic doesn’t mean that the problem will be solved on its own. You need to be realistic at the same time. Yes, there are things that you can’t control, but you can control your attitude towards them.

Share your positivity with others.

This doesn’t mean that you should explicitly force others to be optimistic. What you should do is simply help others to see the bright side of things. Stay positive and let this attitude affect the people around you. Remember that you can influence others with what you do and not so much with you say.

Here are some of the simple ways to become less pessimistic and more optimistic. As you become more proficient at this, you will develop your own techniques and will also be able to help others improve the quality of their lives.

Aris Moreno has been a long-time blogger about optimism and responsible living. He is here to inspire you to be the best you can be. Check out his blog at http://www.theoptimistblog.com.


9 Practical Ideas To Live More Spiritually In The Modern World

Have you ever felt like booking a one-way ticket to Tibet or the Himalayas, never to return? Wouldn’t it be nice to live with friendly nuns and peaceful monks — to let the walls of a monastery protect you, instead of dealing with all the challenges we go through on a daily basis?

But before you book your ticket or quit your job, you should ask yourself whether or not a monastery will solve all your life’s problems, or just make them go away temporarily.

What if you didn’t have to travel very far to change your life?

Can you live like the spiritual masters of the East without getting rid of your worldly possessions and booking a one-way ticket overseas?

Here are nine practical ways to live like a wise soul in today’s world.

1. Accept change and fear less.

You likely hate flight changes, weather changes and life changes. But try to learn to accept changes, large and small, that come your way. Change isn’t entirely a bad thing — change happens to help you grow and become stronger and more resilient in the face of what life brings your way.

Your resistance to change makes you fearful, but what if it was a good thing? Change can bring different, better experiences into your life. Also, knowing that things will always change reminds you to appreciate what you have right in front of you.

2. Work without an agenda.

Are you doing your job so that you can get more money, move up the corporate ladder and have more responsibility? Well, a spiritual master would tell you to practice “karma yoga” or, working without attachment.

Do work not for any outward gain, but for the pleasure and joy that the work itself brings. Try to release your attachment to compensation or reward. Enjoy the work you’re doing for the pure pleasure of that work itself. You don’t need to do anything or achieve anything. Simply be who you are and show up to do that work in the world — that is your purpose.

3. Complain less.

You can’t change a lot of things in life, but you can change how you react to them. Embrace the changes with open arms and show gratitude for what you have in your life. Or, complain and scream at everything that doesn’t go your way.

Acceptance leads to joy and happiness. Complaints lead to bitterness and resentment. Choose wisely.

4. Live in the moment.

Emails, texts, instant messages, Twitter and Instagram … how do we keep up?

You can keep up with it all and drive yourself crazy. Or, you could choose to remove these things from your phone and live a more focused life.

Multitasking means reduced-focus tasking. Take on one thing at a time and put all your energy into it. Limit yourself in terms of your data and online world. Turn off your phone at night, or at least leave it in a different room.

When the past comes up in your life, let it go like clouds passing in the sky. Build up a mindfulness practice so that you can continue staying present and being here now.


5. Fewer expectations, more contentment.

Instead of expecting certain results, focus on the process. Let the results come as they do. Don’t be attached to results that only lead to disappointment and misery.

To be clear, have goals and dreams, but don’t attach yourself to them. Enjoy and master the journey to that destination — let the destination unfold as it does. Be content wherever you are and find contentment in the small things.

View the world through a lens of sufficiency, abundance and gratitude. You are enough. What you have is enough. This moment is enough.

6. See how you’re connected, not divided.

You’re part of one human family and one universal spirit.

As much as your ego wants to separate and divide you, the ancient master would remind you to seek understanding, compassion and love for others. Even more so with people who hurt you and harm you.

Your enemies are your spiritual teachers — forgive them and learn from them. Fewer grudges, more compassion. Less taking, more giving.

7. Accumulate less, simplify more.

Stop piling up your life with too many commitments or things. If you have too many relationships in your life and no time for yourself, cut down on your number of commitments. If you have too many activities and a hectic schedule, prioritize and drop the things that don’t matter.

When it comes to material things, remember that the more stuff that occupies your life, the less you can focus on what truly matters. Simplify your spending, your purchases, your closets and your life.

8. See suffering as growth.

You may view hardships as painful life struggles. That view is causing you mental and physical suffering, but can you learn to see suffering as growth? Can you see suffering, including the people who cause it, as spiritual lessons?

Are you suffering needlessly?Learn to accept what comes your way with love and compassion. Sit with your feelings and thoughts instead of resisting your experiences or the pain that comes with it.

Unlike what modern society tells you, you don’t need anything more to be happy. No one or nothing can come into your life and improve it. You cease to suffer when you realize that you’re not lacking anything, or that you don’t need anything more.

9. More truth. Less hiding.

The ancient spiritual masters would encourage you to show up in the world as you are. Yet you might feel like you’re not likable enough and try to put up a front. Or perhaps you might try to please way too many people.

Instead of putting on a façade or being a people-pleaser, be true to yourself. Get clear on your values and priorities, and live according to them. You don’t have to change your personality or put on an act to have someone love you.

Find the courage to be yourself, to say what you believe in and to do what you were afraid of.

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” -Swami Vivekananda

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15 Lies Nobody Should Believe

What you believe and what you don’t believe are intricately connected. Sometimes it’s easier to look at the things you definitely do NOT want to believe in order to find what it is that you DO want to believe. Believe the opposite of these 15 lies, and the truth will set you free!

1. Five more minutes of sleep will help me.
The snooze button seems like a good idea while sleepy, but you’ll get much more benefit from going to sleep earlier and not interrupting the last 30 minutes of your sleep every five minutes. In fact, the science suggests that using the snooze buttons does more harm than good.
2. I need ____ to be happy.
The only word that fits in that blank is “contentment.” The idea that you need anything else isn’t true.
3. All [type of people] are [attribute].
Stereotypes don’t just hurt other people, they hurt the ones who make them. If you assume, for example, that all men are jerks because you know a few of them, you’ll miss out on the ones who aren’t.
4. I’m better or worse than other people.
We can sort people by height, income, weight, race, and favorite football team, but we’re all human; we’re all important and valuable. We have different attributes, abilities, and skills, but no person should be defined (for better or worse) by those alone.
5. I can’t change.
Change is possible if you go about it the right way. Most people try to change everything at once, which doesn’t work. Change must be done methodically: it takes time and repetition for the subconscious to process and accept it. Aim for consistency, not quantity.
6. Trying is futile.
Trying is everything! Stephen King was rejected dozens of times before he became one of the world’s best-selling authors. When other authors would have stopped trying, he didn’t. If you’re not trying, then what are you doing? Trying is everything!
7. The world is against me.
Generally speaking, the world is neither for or against you. Remember that you teach the world how to treat you. Think again about Stephen King being rejected so many times. The world wasn’t against him, it just hadn’t noticed him yet. Keep trying.
Happy Thoughts
8. My dreams are dead.
As long as you’re alive, so are your dreams. That’s the most logical way to look at it.
9. I’m too young or too old to make a difference.
If you look throughout history, you’ll see that people of all ages have shaped it. Don’t use age as an excuse. Use it as extra motivation, if anything.
10. If I’m not motivated, I can’t take action.
Motivation doesn’t precede action — it follows action. When I realized and applied this, I changed my life. I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m reading and writing daily, and I’m a best-selling author; it’s all directly a result of not believing this lie anymore.
11. I’m stuck.
This isn’t a lie, actually. Because if you believe it, then you’ll be it. Don’t believe it though, because the present moment is neutral, and an opportunity to move forward.
12. People don’t like me.
It may be true that some people don’t like you, but there are 7 billion of us on Earth. Find your people.
13. I’m not talented enough.
Talent isn’t nearly as important as practicing. Natural talent helps, but it’s hardly ever a make or break factor.
14. I want candy.
Your taste buds want candy and your brain probably wants the sugar-triggered reward. But your body wants broccoli. You only want candy on a superficial level. Deep down, you want broccoli and you want it raw. Mmm!
15. I am a victim.
It’s not correct to say that you are a victim in the present moment. Maybe you were a victim, but if you’re currently free, you’re no longer a victim. It’s best to avoid the “victim mindset.” Victims have things happen to them, while non-victims are free to create their own path. No matter what has happened to you before, you can begin a new path and a new life today.
BY STEPHEN GUISE      JUNE 30, 2014 

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Four Phrases We Should Remove From Our Vocabularies

Herbert Lui      2/06/15

You probably say some things about yourself that you don’t really mean, like laughing at your own laziness or asking about opinions that don’t really matter. Unfortunately, the more you say them, the more power they have over you. Here are four phrases you should keep an eye on.

“I’m too lazy.”

You might tell yourself this when you’ve done the bare minimum, or when someone makes a suggestion or asks a question (e.g., “Why don’t you try xyz?”). You might also tell yourself, “I’m too lazy,” when you notice something that you want to try or learn more about. It might seem like a humorous, self-deprecating way of brushing off an idea. Unfortunately, if you keep telling yourself this, you’re going to start believing it. Constantly admonishing yourself for being too lazy won’t encourage you to make positive changes.

Laziness has its own benefits. There’s the classic saying (typically misattributed to Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates), “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” As we’ve previously written, laziness can be an asset that helps build sustainable habits instead of forcing you through the “noblest struggle”.

Next time you want to use your laziness as an excuse, try asking yourself these questions:

“What is the next actionable step?”
“Why don’t I want to try this?”

Even simply knowing the next step could make you realize that the task wasn’t as daunting as it seems.

Your “laziness” could also be a mask for something else—perhaps you’re scared you’ll fail, or you’re already juggling a huge amount of tasks. It’s important to precisely identify what your sticking point is so you can find a real solution. Lumping it all under the umbrella term “laziness” makes things seem more permanent than they really are.

“I don’t like them.”

We all have people and things we dislike. It’s natural. You might dislike someone who wronged you or broke your trust. You might also dislike someone nearly instantaneously, based on a first impression or quick moment. It’s important to remember that everything you say and describe is a projection of you. As The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Stephen Covey writes:

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms.(Note: Yes, my writing is a projection of me. It’s discomforting that my writing could be analyzed by everybody reading this. I try not to think about it.)

The next time you come across someone you instantly dislike, ask yourself: “Why?” As author Neil Strauss points out, your dislike of this person is likely either due to envy, or because the other person reminds you of something you don’t like (or want to reveal) about yourself. Consider these two paths the next time you feel that twinge of dislike.

Envy can be resourceful, however. If you envy someone, break that thought down and ask yourself why you’re envious. Follow that feeling, because it could guide you to new goals, and what you should try next, or what goals you should spend more time pursuing. Maybe it’s a belief or value that you need to revisit or reconcile.

If it’s something you don’t like about yourself, then acknowledge it. It’s not the other person’s fault they remind you of your own shortcomings or qualities that you’re not proud of. If you want to work on it, try to reframe it. Next time you find yourself disliking someone, ask yourself:

“Why do I dislike this person? Do I envy them or do they remind me of something about myself?”
“What about them do I like? What can I learn from them?”

Everyone has redeeming qualities, or at the very least, experiences that you can learn from. I’m not saying you have to force yourself to like everyone, but it is in your interest to at least be civil. The world is small. And if they haven’t really done anything to harm you, the dislike is more your reaction than their doing.

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“They’re way smarter than me. I could never do that.”

My friend told me this wistfully in our school cafeteria after an exam. If I could go back, I would tell her that “smart” is an umbrella term we give to people who do better than us at something (usually tasks that involve thinking). When you say this, you’ve resigned yourself to never matching that person’s accomplishments. (Ever!)

Remember that there are various types of intelligence. It’s important to know which ones you’re gifted at, and which ones you need to improve on. It’s unlikely that someone else is better than you at every single thing. Figure out if you can use your gifts and incorporate them into the situation.

The term “smart” is also the result of a “fixed” mindset. That basically means you believe intelligence is an innate trait, and you won’t be able to improve yours. Conversely, there’s the “growth” mindset, which posits that you can improve with practice. Shift your mindset to one centered on growth. Intelligence is malleable, and you can learn and improve.

Here’s some food for thought the next time you find yourself discouraged by someone else’s encouragements:

“What are they DOING that I’m not doing?”
“Who can I learn from to accelerate my growth?”
“What can I do to compete effectively (or surpass them)?”
“What am I better at than them? How can I use that asset?”

I’m not telling you that you’ll instantly excel in your fields, but it is likely you can improve if you make even slight changes to your life, learn other people’s strategies, and adapt yours accordingly. For example, maybe you’re scoring low on exams because your study method isn’t the best for you, or other people’s are better.

“What would everyone think?!”

Self-consciousness helps us see ourselves from other people’s perspectives and be more sensitive to other people’s feelings. You can use it to improve yourself. However, being self-conscious could also hold you back from making unexpected (or long overdue) changes for fear of other people’s opinions.

Usually, “What would everyone think?!” applies to trying something new (e.g., a belief, a life lesson, a new piece of clothing, a new haircut, or a new career decision, etc.). But do you really care what “everyone” thinks?

As journalist Herbert Bayard Swope Sr. once said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” You can never truly make everyone happy.

Roman emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said, “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” You should be conscious of what close friends and family think, and what you think of yourself. With everything going on these days, it’s very likely that acquaintances and strangers will be indifferent.

When you’re feeling self-conscious, consider these questions:

“What would the people important to me think?”
“Should a social norm stop me from trying this out? What’s the worst that could happen? Would this hurt anyone?”

Sometimes things are too radical or too crazy for you to try. Social norms exist for a reason. But, a lot of times things aren’t. If you find something actually improves your life, you could regret not trying it earlier.

Laziness can be an asset, and you might have more gas in your tank than you think. The people you dislike are a reflection of you. You can get “smarter” and become better. You don’t have to try making everyone happy.