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A Picture is Worth….

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment



We went out kayaking with friends over the weekend and took some great photos.  I couldn’t wait to post them on Facebook so that I could share my photos with them and hopefully they would do the same with photos they took of us.  It got me thinking about how important photos are to us and why that is true.  After all, the saying that, “A picture is worth 10,000 words” has endured for generations now and has lost none of its truth.

When we consider why we like to take photos, many truths come to light.  We love visiting people and places that are special and preserving the occasion by taking a photo. We love reliving those times when we go through the pictures we have taken.   But isn’t there something special about sitting down with someone and sharing our pictures with them?  Somehow the captured moments seem brighter and more alive when we share them with someone else.  Facebook, Flikr and other photo sharing sites certainly understand this psychology well!

Acting as photographers, we portray truths about; our perception of what is important,  our creativity, our emotions, our identities but even more importantly, we portray truths about our relationships.

I was watching Christmas pictures being taken of the different segments of a blended family recently.  One side of the family posed naturally so that each person was touching at least two other people and the group was definitely seen as one cohesive unit.  The other side of the family needed a little more encouragement!  They originally posed without one single person touching anyone else!  When the photographer chided,”Act like you like each other!” one of the adult sons whacked another over the head and then they all held hands and grinned at the camera as a family unit!  It turned out to be one of the family’s favorite pictures from that Christmas!

This is what’s important…. the relationships. Sometimes it’s about the relationship among the people in the picture, sometimes it’s about the relationship between the photographer and his subject and still other times it’s about the relationship between the two people who are viewing a photograph together. Photographs cement relationships.

The joy that comes from looking at a picture isn’t always about happy memories.I remember arranging to have a four-generations picture taken with my grandmother, my mother, me and my children, one of whom was an infant. Everyone was dressed in Sunday best, everyone put his or her best face forward until our littlest member lost it, just as we were called in to sit for the photographer. She started screaming at the top of her lungs and there was nothing that any of us could do to make her stop.  Finally we decided to just go ahead and try to just get a picture anyway.  This poor man did his best but in every single shot, she was either screaming bloody murder or she was photographed when she had paused to catch her breath and she was blotchy, swollen and red-faced from crying.  Whenever we look at that picture, those of us who can remember the incident always laugh, though it certainly wasn’t funny at the time!

I have another photograph of my father in a life vest. Now my father was in the Navy,  is an excellent swimmer and taught each of his children how to swim and dive well enough so that they were able to compete on high school and college teams.  When I was growing up, my family always had a boat and this one photograph is the only time I’ve ever seen my father don a life jacket.  We were on a rented boat, off the east coast of South Florida, in a storm so ferocious that it had knocked out the steering on our flying bridge.  We couldn’t see 2 feet in front of the boat and we were lost. Seeing my father put on a life jacket, I just knew I was going to die! My sister and I ate our last meal together (cold SpaghettiO’s out of the can!) and were thoroughly surprised to actually live through the experience when the fog and rain lifted and we were in the middle of the Miami shipping channel!

The joy of looking at pictures isn’t necessarily about what was going on in the picture, it’s about the relationships that are forged before, during, after and at the time of viewing them.  So let’s take pictures and not forget to share them, all the while remembering that we are strengthening precious bonds between ourselves and the people who are important to us by doing so!

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Why is Florida so Blue!?! RESILIENCE May Be the Antidote!

January 18, 2012 2 comments

Recently, I was horrified to see St. Petersburg, Florida named the saddest city in the United States by a popular men’s magazine and Tampa wasn’t far behind it.  I was thrilled to see the enthusiasm with which our citizens refuted the magazine’s findings in letters to the editor, articles, blogs and even in spoofs on the cover of the men’s magazine! And while the science in the original article was far from conclusive, some of the statistics mentioned, were.

How can it be that our area chalks up such substantial statistics in the areas of: suicide, depression and substance abuse when we enjoy one of the most beautiful places to live in the world?  This question is especially pertinent when we look at these skyrocketing statistics among our youth.

Enter the relatively young branch of psychology known as Positive Psychology, the theme of the latest Harvard Business Review. Splitting from traditional psychology, with its emphasis on diagnosing mental health disorders,  Positive Psychology focuses on helping people to identify their strengths and then encourages growth in those areas.

Resilience is identified as the ability to adapt successfully to sources of adversity and stress… In other words, it is the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges without feeling defeated by them.  This characteristic of resilience leads to some of the character traits that we value the most as a society, self-esteem, optimism, perseverance, and self-efficacy. The US Army has partnered with the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Martin Seligman to implement a $145 million resiliency training program aimed at providing, among other things, Post Traumatic Stress Growth as a viable alternative to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

How can we explain the nation’s recent obsession with Florida Gator, turned Denver Broncos Quarterback, Tim Tebow?  He is the poster-boy for resilience!  He embodies this can-do attitude of overcoming HUGE obstacles with grace and style!

While resilience can be a natural characteristic to some people, in others it doesn’t come as easily. The good news is that resilience can be taught and the better news is that the scientific evidence concludes that it is never too early (or too late) in life to successfully learn and/or strengthen this ability!

Developing resilience is a personal journey and starting to strengthen this quality in oneself, one’s family and/or one’s business can be the key to individual and even corporate well-being! You may need a guide to help you do this and we have had a lot of success coaching people as they grow from success to real significance.

Fit = Smart No Matter What the Age!

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Exercise provides a terrific boost to brain function and to actual brain cell growth. New research shows that cardiovascular fitness may be more important than strength training – no matter what the age.Up until recently, it was thought that the brain was finished growing by as early as age 3. New studies indicate that this is NOT the case, the brain continues to grow and produce new neural connections even into old age (referred to as neural placticity).New research shows that teens who have better cardiovascular health not only score higher on intelligence tests but also pursue more education and enjoy a higher income in later years.Researchers from Sweden and USC examined data on 1.2 million Swedish men born between 1950 and 1976 and found that the greater the cardiovascular fitness, the higher the cognitive scores were at age 18. The association between muscle strength and global intelligence, in contrast, was weak.The researchers speculate that those later teen years are critical because the brain is still changing. But researchers at the University of Colorado indicate that the young are not the only ones who benefit from aerobic fitness programs; the elderly do also. In fact the greatest gains in cognitive function tied to exercise programs were found in people over the age of 65!

So as the New Year approaches and you make your resolution to be more fit in 2012, grab your kid and your parent and make it a family affair! You’ll all be happier, healthier and SMARTER!!!

We’ve Counted Our Blessings…Now Let’s Pass Them On!

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment

What a wonderful tradition we have just celebrated; the giving of thanks for the blessings we enjoy. Being reminded of the things and people who are important, the events that have happened and the ways in which we matter to others and in the world allows us to appreciate the richness of our lives.

Now it is time to pass that on to others who are less fortunate than we are. We are challenged to give of: our time, our talent, our gifts and our treasures; fortunately not all at the same time! In the current economy, most charities’ gifts are down but amazingly 1 in 4 people still gave of their time in the past year in order to help someone else!

One of the greatest benefits to helping others is the by-products of health and happiness that we reap in return. Research out of the University of Pennsylvania shows that people who volunteer their time and talent for others, live longer, have higher mental acuity and lower rates of depression and have a stronger feeling of over-all connectedness than do those who don’t choose to volunteer.

The upcoming season can overwhelm us if it becomes all about the getting and giving of stuff! Maybe instead of spending time gathering stuff for the people who are precious to us, this year we choose to share our precious time with them and get together to help someone else.


‘Tis the season…let’s make a difference!

What is a Life Worth?

    “FLOW” is a state of being which is demonstrated when we are totally caught up in what we are doing…time seems to vanish…we are engaged, energetic and vital, our concentration is effortless and all-consuming!

It is manifested when we use our personal strengths in response to situations wherein the perfect balance between challenge and self-efficacy exists: the task at hand is difficult but we beleive that we have what it takes to successfully complete it.

Interestingly most people experience more “FLOW” at work than at home!  Generally “FLOW” occurs when a person is doing his or her favorite activity;creating music, gardening, writing, reading, playing a sportl. It also found in many types of social settings where people are engaged in a common effort, think volunteering time and energy in pursuit of goal which benefits another.  But thereally interesting thing is that  people rarely report experiencing “FLOW” in passive leisure-type activities, such as relaxing or watching TV.

Here is a great video from TED.com in which Dr.iMihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of the book entitled, “FLOW”, discusses the topic.  Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXIeFJCqsPs&feature=related

Is Happiness Gender Specific?

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment


Recent research actually shows that happiness may have a gender specific component and that it is apparent even during fetal development. By the 8th week after conception, the female brain begins to differentiate from the male brain in very specific ways.

The female brain generates more neurons and therefore more neuronal connections in areas like the hippocampal region, which is actually physically larger in the female brain than in the male brain. This area is one component of the brain that is thought to govern emotional experience.

This may explain why many women have more capacity for tolerance and patience than most men do. It isn’t just in the areas that govern emotions that womens’ brains are more abundantly wired. The same is true in other parts of the brain which govern language; in fact women have 11% more neurons for language and hearing than do their male counterparts. Perhaps this is why we have to ask our husbands and sons to take the trash out repeatedly!

The male brain is wired completely differently. In the male brain, the neuronal circuitry is more abundant in areas of the brain, like the amygdala which is thought to govern aggression and sex drive. In fact the amygdala is up to 2 1/2 % smaller in women’s brains. Perhaps this is why women tend to be the peacemakers and men have traditionally been the warriors.

All of this different wiring leads researchers to hypothesize that happiness may have a genetic component, with women finding more happiness in strong relationships and community and men finding more happiness derived from acquisition and accomplishment.

Does this make men or women happier as a whole? Research indicates that women are alternately happier and sadder and that men tend to be more stable in their emtional experiences. After studying twins, one researcher has suggested that there is an actual “Happiness Set Point” that seems to be genetically determined. Similar to our weight’s set point, this is the level fron which we may deviate temporarily but to which we always seem to gravitate back.

The good new seems to be that while happiness may be up to 50% determined by genes and another 10% may be determined by circumstantial factors such as environment, income and comfort, the remaining 40% of our happiness is determined by how we choose to see life and how we react to what happens to us.

We can learn to experience life as if it holds blessings or curses in store for us, and our level of happiness will reflect this expectation… regardless of whether we happen to be male or female.

Processed Foods Contribute to Depression?

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Understanding mental illness has been a challenge for years. That’s why it is so exciting when research reveals an avenue that may help us to prevent and/or control mental health issues like Depression.

Today the BBC cited new information, reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry, which ties processed food to the development of depression. This study, done in the UK, compared a group of subjects who consumed a diet comprised of mostly whole foods (fruits, veges, fish etc.) to a group of subjects whose diet was more typical of the average British person (or American person), being made up of processed foods such as; sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products.

The results of this 5 year study were impressive in that the subjects who ate larger amounts of processed foods had a 58% higher risk of developing depression and those whose diet consisted predominantly of whole foods had a 26% lower risk of developing depression.

It makes perfect sense that the body and the mind are intricately connected and this exciting new research shows us just how much control we may have over how we feel emotionally. Furthermore, it offers proof that perhaps we should all be listening to our mothers…because they were right when they told us to “eat your vegetables…they’re good for you!”

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