Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

1 Comment

9 Simple Ways To Be Happy Every Day

Cloud 9 isn’t as far out of out of reach as you might think. We asked the experts for simple strategies to wake up with a smile each and every day.

Sure, life is filled with ups and downs. Who doesn’t feel sad, anxious or a little bit lost every now and then? But these feelings don’t define us—and they don’t define our year, our week or even our day. The ability to change our thoughts, moods and, in effect, lives lies in the power of positive thinking, so we consulted the pros about what we can do from day to day to turn that proverbial frown upside down and discover greater happiness within.

1. Take frequent breaks.

Though easy access to smartphones and com­puters means we can solve most conundrums with the touch of a but­ton, many apps are highly addictive and take time away from the things that really matter, such as family, friends and com­plex problem-solving that leads to personal growth. “These days, tech is in charge of us; we’re not in charge of it,” says leadership coach Ellen Petry Leanse, author of The Happiness Hack. To break the cycle, take a tech time­out at the start of every day and during social inter­actions.

2. Interrupt adverse thought patterns. 

“Negative thinking creates negative feelings,” says California-based corporate-culture consultant Larry Senn, author of The Mood Elevator. “And grateful thinking creates grateful feelings. If you can change your thoughts, you can change your life.” One easy tactic for transforming your mindset is to interrupt it. If you notice you’re bombarded by stressful thoughts, go for a walk, help someone with a problem or play with your pet and see if you feel your mood shift.

3. Stay curious. 

When someone cuts you off during rush hour or a coworker argues with you during a presentation, it can suddenly seem like the world is out to get you. But feeling affronted and judgmental is a choice—and you can pick a different attitude. “Everybody is doing what makes sense to them based on their own think­ing,” says Senn. “We don’t have to agree with it, but we can decide not to take it personally.” Instead, choose to be curious about the thought processes and circumstances that lead to a person’s actions, and while you’re at it, consider the underlying reasons for your reactions.


4. Build deeper in-person connections. 

“The majority of the people I interact with in my work as a teacher and a coach say that the thing they want most is a sense of deeper connection,” says Leanse, who’s an instructor at California’s Stanford University. “They say things like, ‘I want to find my tribe’ or ‘I want to be with people I understand and who understand me.’ ” Building those connections is easier than you think. “It can be as simple as trying to engage with others by being curious about them and asking questions to under­stand more.” Try to follow this simple rule: Listen more than you talk.

5. Take care of your body.  

It’s tough to have a positive mindset if you’re running on little sleep, no exercise and a steady diet of burgers and chocolate bars. “We know that when people get run down physically, they catch colds more easily,” says Senn. “When you get run down physically, you also catch moods more easily.” By ensuring that you maintain a healthy diet, engage in vigorous exercise and get adequate sleep, you’ll build resilience to life’s hardships—and you’ll probably feel better about yourself overall, which is another key component of positive thinking.

6. Make time for meditation. 

Spending quiet time focusing on breathing or completing guided meditations is one way to train your reactive mentality—the one that jumps to conclusions and is quick to react—to pause before acting and can promote greater emotional intelligence and a profound sense of calm. “It’s like weight lifting for the mind,” says Leanse. But if setting aside a spec­ific chunk of time seems impossible right now, simply try to be more mindful in your day-to-day life. “Find moments to be reflective and pay attention to the ‘now’ as you navi­gate everyday tasks,” says Leanse. For instance, when you wash the dishes, focus on the temperature of the water, the smell of the soap and the feel of each item in your hands.

7. Practice gratitude.

According to Senn—and a whole host of researchers—cultivating a perspective of gratitude is one of the best ways to tap into a happier life. To do so, keep a gratitude journal, take a few minutes each day to think of three things you’re grateful for or compliment other people to show appreciation. “If you want to be happier, forget the myth that achievements or acquisitions bring happiness,” says Senn. “Instead, focus on activities that will nourish gratitude for the blessings you’ve already been granted.”

8. Challenge yourself.

Guilty pleasures like watching TV or checking social media reward our brains with quick spikes of dopamine, but they don’t offer a lasting sense of satisfaction in the same way that “completing projects, being creative, learning, working on long-term goals or doing routine tasks like weeding the garden will,” says Leanse. That’s not to say we should never enjoy a mindless distraction, but completing “deep work”—the things that actually matter to us as individuals—will provide far more happiness in the long run.

9. Delay reactions.

You will have hard days. That’s a given in life. But the occasional bad day or mood can’t hurt you if you press pause on rash actions (think yelling at a loved one or sending a snooty email). “Your thinking is unreliable in the lower mood states,” says Senn, meaning that you may not be able to think clearly if you’re anxious, angry, impatient or sad. “Don’t trust your feelings during lower mood states. Instead of acting on unreliable thinking, delay important conversations and decisions.”


source: www.canadianliving.com

Leave a comment

The Youthful Personality Traits Linked To Long Life

People with these personality traits as teenagers are likely to live longer.

Empathy, calmness and energy are among the personality traits that predict a long life, new research finds.

These teenage personality traits predicted people’s longevity five decades later.

Along with these, people who are tidier, intellectually curious and more mature also live longer.

In contrast, people who were impulsive as teens were not likely to live as long.

Impulsive people tend to act without thinking or controlling themselves.


The conclusions come from a study that followed 26,845 people for almost 50 years, on average, starting in 1960.

All were asked about their personality, family background and later income and jobs.

The results showed that six personality factors were linked to a long life:

  • energy,
  • empathy,
  • calmness,
  • tidiness,
  • intellectual curiosity,
  • and maturity.

Only impulsiveness was linked to a shorter lifespan.

Personality may affect lifespan in a number of ways, the authors write:

“Life course mechanisms linking personality to poorer health outcomes include the adoption of poor health behaviours and long-term effects of wear and tear on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.

Maladaptive traits also appear to limit later educational attainment, impede mid-life occupational advancement and increase risk of divorce-social and socioeconomic factors linked to later death.”

However, it’s surprising how predictive adolescent personality can be, the study’s authors write:

“In one sense, the tracing of personality-mortality associations back to adolescence is surprising because the high school years are widely seen as a time of personality development and malleability.”

So, although people may change over the years, it is not enough to wipe out the effects of personality on longevity.

The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (Chapman et al., 2019).

March 25, 2021                  PsyBlog

Leave a comment

Curiosity May Preserve Brain Health, Staving Off Neurodegenerative Diseases Like Alzheimer’s

Aug 2, 2015   By Henry Emmons, MD and David Alter, PhD

We have all heard that curiosity “killed the cat.” But is curiosity really bad for our health? Cats may be able to risk losing a life or two, as they’re said to have nine, but this isn’t the case for us humans. We have to make the best of the only life we have. The juggernaut of age-related diseases, with Alzheimer’s disease topping the list, represents a major challenge facing the 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day for the next 20 years. Thankfully, cultivating curiosity is among a handful of accessible practices shown to preserve mental functioning well beyond the age that mental decline was presumed to be inevitable. Research efforts backed by billions of research dollars are gradually progressing in their quest to slow or reverse Alzheimer’s disease and other aging-related diseases. But aging Americans aren’t content awaiting the arrival of brain deterioration just to learn how to slow it from advancing further. They are interested in remaining vital throughout the second half of their lives. Are you curious how?

Carl Jung, the great 20th century miner of the mind said, “[The] afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.” He was right. The demands of the afternoon of life (older age) are different than those of the morning. Modern neuroscience, when combined with ageless practices, shows just how life’s afternoon can be spent to preserve a youthful brain well into life’s second half. Long-term brain health has been shown to be strongly influenced by intentional choices made by a well-tuned and attentive mind. Without the capacity to focus and sustain attention, little can be accomplished, including maintaining a youthful brain.

A review of the literature on activities that support brain vitality fall into three overlapping and mutually reinforcing categories:

  • Practices that support the physical body (movement, nutrition, and sleep)
  • Polishing the cognitive lenses through which we view our future and sharpen our minds (curiosity, flexibility, and optimism)
  • Activities that deepen our social network through accessing our deepest sense of mission and purpose (empathy, social connectedness, and living our lives “authentically”)

While the importance of movement, nutrition, and sleep to overall health has long been recognized, emerging evidence in neuroscience clearly highlights how it is also central to maintaining a healthy brain into older adulthood. Less well-known is that curiosity, flexibility, and optimism are a triad of cognitive lenses with an equally potent impact on long-term brain health. Each lens builds on and supports the others. A curious mind isn’t satisfied with the status quo. A curious mind seeks novelty. Going beyond what is known to discover or create something new and different is the hallmark of a curious mind.


Exploring ideas, people, and places in new ways exposes the brain to a continuous stream of the unfamiliar and the unexpected. This results in a brain that is constantly bathed in surprise, allowing it to tap into its neuroplastic potential to rewire, and broadening its ability to respond to life with expanded flexibility. The ability to respond to the unexpected with flexible courage generates stress resilience and reduced anxiety. Curiosity and flexibility encourage the brain to formulate a more optimistic attitude about the unknown, and to access the courage necessary to engage in life’s opportunities and challenges on your own terms with deeper trust and enduring faith. Optimism is what permits us to persist in our commitments in spite of near-term frustrations and setbacks. An optimistic brain isn’t a self-deluding brain. Instead, when optimism is exercised, we actually become more realistic, more grounded, and intimately engaged in the nuances of daily life. We recognize “what is now ” but remain open that “what is” can be changed in positive and helpful ways moving forward. These core brain-building skills are a powerful buffer against daily stress, and the more potentially ravaging effects of depression and runaway anxiety. From the perspective of an aging but still youthful brain, these well-honed practices muster the perseverance to curiously, flexibly, and optimistically keep exploring the possible even when simple and short-sighted logic might argue otherwise.

There is another question to ask, and perhaps it’s the most important question to consider when exploring how to maintain a youthful brain into older age: Toward what end are we laboring to maintain a healthy brain?

Silly question? Not really. When you look at the enormous energy, money, and industry that is poured into efforts to preserve youth forever, it is apparent that for many of us, the goal is not to age well — it is to not age at all!

Success in maintaining a youthful brain doesn’t equate to being 20 again. Instead, it entails success at building a specialized, brain-based time machine. A vital brain doesn’t mean we turn the clock back in time. This machine helps us become “timeless” by making our lives matter so that our legacy is one that survives us and that leaves the world better than when we came into it. As Jung said, the purpose of the afternoon of life differs from the morning’s purpose. Maintenance of a youthful brain and a vital mind is what enables the afternoon’s purpose to be achieved. Nigerian poet Ben Okri captured that purpose when he said, “The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love, and to be greater than our suffering.” That directive is not for the faint of heart. But, then, living a full and meaningful life isn’t either. By forging a life path that regularly and consistently attends to nourishing the body and mind, and developing an awakened heart, the odds that life’s rolling of the dice comes up in our favor is maximized.

Source: Henry Emmons, MD and David Alter, PhD, Authors of Staying Sharp: 9 Keys for a Youthful Brain through Modern Science and Ageless Wisdom . Simon & Schuster, September 2015. 

Henry Emmons, MD,  is a psychiatrist who integrates mind-body and natural therapies, mindfulness, and compassion practices into his clinical work. He is the author of three previous books: The Chemistry of Joy, The Chemistry of Calm, and The Chemistry of Joy Workbook. He is also a popular speaker, workshop presenter and retreat leader for both health care professionals and the general public.

David Alter, PhD,  is a clinical psychologist whose 30-year practice combines mind-body medicine, strategic therapeutic interventions, and clinical hypnosis to address the physical, mental, and relationship-based concerns of his clients. He integrates health psychology, neuropsychology, and clinical hypnosis to bring a holistic perspective to his clinical work. He conducts his practice at Partners in Healing, the center for holistic health that he co-founded, and the Institute for Brain-Behavior Integration, which he founded to study and treat issues involving brain health.