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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

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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.

Gratitude – The Best Medicine Around!

January 1, 2010 Leave a comment

The New Year is here and we have all resolved to be healthier and happier this year. A large component of psychological happiness seems to be rooted in one’s ability to experience and express gratitude. The evidence from empirical research indicates that gratitude may be “the ultimate positive emotion.”

The cultivation of gratitude dictates that we have a spatial orientation that embraces the past, present and future. We look to the past to identify experiences which were rich in meaning for us and are grateful for their being part of the fabric of our lives. Being able to identify these meaningful experiences from our past allows us to concentrate on putting ourselves in situations and around people where we are more likely to replicate those kinds of feelings again, thus maintaining a positive context and orientation in our experience of the present.

If we are happy today, we are more likely to view the future with positive expectations and to put in place the things that will bring about that kind of experience. Research is showing that our expectations about our future may have tangible impact on not only our happiness but also on our health and longevity. A recent study shows that those with positive expectations of aging, tend to age with fewer health challenges and to actually live longer than those who have negative expectations about aging.

In conclusion, look to your past for that which you are grateful, use that lesson to shape your present in a way that will keep you happy and thankful so that you may live long and well and you will always be able to look back and say, “Thank You!”

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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