Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Smile Your Way Out of Stress?

Written by Warren Whitfield. Posted in Acudetox, Addictions, ADHD, Articles, Health

smiling

by: Kelly McGonigal, PhD.
on March 31, 2014
Put a pencil between your lips in just the right way, and you’ll feel happier—though you won’t know why. The result is so reliable, I used this trick on students as a foolproof demo when I taught intro to psychology.

This effect demonstrates the “facial feedback” theory of emotion—but you can think of it as “fake it til you make it.” The idea is simple: your brain is constantly monitoring what’s happening in your body. It analyzes things like muscle tension, posture, heart rate, breathing, and, yes, facial expressions, to judge how you are feeling.

Put yourself in a happier position, and you can boost your mood. Practice a depressed face and slumped posture, and watch the gloom set in. The pencil trick works because it forces your face to mimic a genuine smile, recruiting just the muscles of the mouth, cheeks, and eyes that come to life when you are happy.

The study—published in Psychological Science, conducted by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman at the University of Kansas—took the old experiment a step further.

Participants were put through two stressful tasks—one a mental challenge, the other a pain induction—while they held a chopstick with their mouths. Some participants held it in a way that recruits the muscles of a genuine smile, some held the chopstick in a way that recruits the muscles of a fake smile (mouth only), and others in a way that doesn’t mimic a smile at all.

[I found the picture below, demonstrating these positions, in the lead author’s masters thesis. The little wires you see are attached to electrodes measuring muscle activity.]

Figure 1: Face Conditions (L-R) Neutral, Non-Duchenne smile, Duchenne smile

smile study

The researchers measured participants’ heart rate and stress levels during and after the mental challenge and pain task. Amazingly, those who were mimicking a genuine smile were less stressed and showed faster physiological recovery from the stressful tasks than those mimicking a fake smile or no smile.

The apparent take-home of this study is to fake a smile when you’re feeling stressed or in pain. But it may be a bit more complicated than that. The participants did not know why they were holding a chopstick in their mouths, and they certainly weren’t trying to make themselves feel better. An important part of the facial-feedback effect may be that it’s happening outside conscious awareness.

If you are trying to change your mood, the trick may not work as well (if at all). Your brain will know why you are activating those smiling muscles, and won’t misinterpret the expression as happiness.

So what can you do to put this finding to good use? I think you can’t go wrong broadening your approach to the whole body. Other research suggests that sitting up straight or standing tall improves self-confidence and moodhugging yourself reduces pain; breathing slowly and deeply reduces stress and improves mood; leaning toward something (or someone) make you less anxious or afraid.

Rather than limit yourself to a chopstick trick, practice putting your entire body into a more relaxed, confident, or supported position. Learn how to stand tall and breathe well. A basic yoga class should take care of this. Then, when you find yourself stressed out, anxious, or in pain, do your best to fully embody the attitude or emotion you’d like to experience.

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Study cited:
Kraft T & Pressman S (2012 in press). Grin and bear it: The influence of manipulated positive facial expression on the stress response. Psychological Science.

21 Habits of Happy People

Written by Warren Whitfield. Posted in Articles, Education, Life Coaching Services

shiney-happy-people

…….

1. Appreciate Life

Be thankful that you woke up alive each morning. Develop a childlike sense of wonder towards life. Focus on the beauty of every living thing. Make the most of each day. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

2. Choose Friends Wisely

Surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values and goals. Friends that have the same ethics as you will encourage you to achieve your dreams. They help you to feel good about yourself. They are there to lend a helping hand when needed.

3. Be Considerate

Accept others for who they are as well as where they are in life. Respect them for who they are. Touch them with a kind and generous spirit. Help when you are able, without trying to change the other person. Try to brighten the day of everyone you come into contact with.

4. Learn Continuously

Keep up to date with the latest news regarding your career and hobbies. Try new and daring things that has sparked your interest – such as dancing, skiing, surfing or sky-diving.

5. Creative Problem Solving

Don’t wallow in self-pity. As soon as you face a challenge get busy finding a solution. Don’t let the set backs affect your mood, instead see each new obstacle you face as an opportunity to make a positive change. Learn to trust your gut instincts – it’s almost always right.

6. Do What You Love

Some statistics show that 80% of people dislike their jobs! No wonder there’s so many unhappy people running around. We spend a great deal of our life working. Choose a career that you enjoy – the extra money of a job you detest isn’t worth it. Make time to enjoy your hobbies and pursue special interests.

7. Enjoy Life

Take the time to see the beauty around you. There’s more to life than work. Take time to smell the roses, watch a sunset or sunrise with a loved one, take a walk along the seashore, hike in the woods etc. Learn to live in the present moment and cherish it. Don’t live in the past or the future.

8. Laugh

Don’t take yourself – or life to seriously. You can find humor in just about any situation. Laugh at yourself – no one’s perfect. When appropriate laugh and make light of the circumstances. (Naturally there are times that you should be serious as it would be improper to laugh.)

9. Forgive

Holding a grudge will hurt no one but you. Forgive others for your own peace of mind. When you make a mistake – own up to it – learn from it – and FORGIVE yourself.

10. Gratitude

Develop an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings; All of them – even the things that seem trivial. Be grateful for your home, your work and most importantly your family and friends. Take the time to tell them that you are happy they are in your life.

11. Invest in Relationships

Always make sure your loved ones know you love them even in times of conflict. Nurture and grow your relationships with your family and friends by making the time to spend with them. Don’t break your promises to them. Be supportive.

12. Keep Their Word

Honesty is the best policy. Every action and decision you make should be based on honesty. Be honest with yourself and with your loved ones.

13. Meditate

Meditation gives your very active brain a rest. When it’s rested you will have more energy and function at a higher level. Types of meditation include yoga, hypnosis, relaxation tapes, affirmations, visualization or just sitting in complete silence. Find something you enjoy and make the time to practice daily.

14. Mind Their Own Business

Concentrate on creating your life the way you want it. Take care of you and your family. Don’t get overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Don’t get caught up with gossip or name calling. Don’t judge. Everyone has a right to live their own life the way they want to – including you.

15. Optimism

See the glass as half full. Find the positive side of any given situation. It’s there – even though it may be hard to find. Know that everything happens for a reason, even though you may never know what the reason is. Steer clear of negative thoughts. If a negative thought creeps in – replace it with a positive thought.

16. Love Unconditionally

Accept others for who they are. You don’t put limitations on your love. Even though you may not always like the actions of your loved ones – you continue to love them.

17. Persistence

Never give up. Face each new challenge with the attitude that it will bring you one step closer to your goal. You will never fail, as long as you never give up. Focus on what you want, learn the required skills, make a plan to succeed and take action. We are always happiest while pursuing something of value to us.

18. Be Proactive

Accept what can not be changed. Happy people don’t waste energy on circumstances beyond their control. Accept your limitations as a human being. Determine how you can take control by creating the outcome you desire – rather than waiting to respond.

19. Self Care

Take care of your mind, body and health. Get regular medical check ups. Eat healthy and work out. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water. Exercise your mind by continually energizing it with interesting and exciting challenges.

20. Self Confidence

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. After all no one likes a phony. Determine who you are in the inside – your own personal likes and dislikes. Be confident in who you are. Do the best you can and don’t second guess yourself.

21. Take Responsibility

Happy people know and understand that they are 100% responsible for their life. They take responsibility for their moods, attitude, thoughts, feelings, actions and words. They are the first to admit when they’ve made a mistake.

Begin today by taking responsibility for your happiness. Work on developing these habits as you own. The more you incorporate the above habits into your daily lifestyle – the happier you will be.

Most of all: BE TRUE TO YOURSELF.

10 Things I Learned From People Who Survive Cancer

Written by Warren Whitfield. Posted in Articles

by Dr. Lissa Rankin

As a physician who interviewed women who had survived breast cancer for my art project The Woman Inside and who studied patients who experienced spontaneous remissions from cancer as part of the research for my book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, I discovered that those who had overcome cancer shared one remarkable thing in common. They had all faced death and made a conscious decision to live every day like it might be their last.

The more interviews I did, the more I noticed that these people were living differently than most of the people I knew who had not been diagnosed with cancer. Curious what I learned?

CancerSurvivor

Here’s what these courageous people taught me about how to live.

1. Be unapologetically YOU.

People who survive cancer tend to get feisty. They walk around bald in shopping malls and roll their eyes if people look at them funny. They say what they think. They laugh often. They don’t make excuses. They wear purple muumuus when they want to.

2. Don’t take crap from people. 

People who survive cancer stop trying to please everybody. They give up caring what everybody else thinks. If you might die in a year anyway (and every single one of us could), who gives a flip if your Great Aunt Gertrude is going to cut you out of her will unless you sell out your authenticity to stay in her good graces?

3. Learn to say no.

People with cancer say no when they don’t feel like going to the gala. They avoid gatherings when they’d prefer to be alone. They don’t let themselves get pressured into doing things they really don’t want to do.

4. Get angry. Then get over it.

People who survive cancer get in your face. They question you. They feel their anger. They refuse to be doormats.  They demand respect. They feel it. Then they forgive. They let go. They surrender. They don’t stay upset. They release resentment. But they don’t stuff their feelings.

5. Don’t obsess about beauty.

People who survive cancer no longer worry about whether they have perfect hair, whether their makeup looks spotless, or whether their boobs are perky enough. They’re happy just to have boobs (if they still do). They’re happy to be alive in their skin, even if it’s wrinkled.

6. Do it now. 

Stop deferring happiness. People who survive cancer realize that you can’t wait until you kick the bucket to do what you’re dying to do. Quit that soul-sucking job now. Leave that deadbeat husband. Prioritize joy. Live like you mean it—NOW.

7. Say “I love you” often. 

People who survive cancer leave no words left unspoken. You never know when your time is up. Don’t risk having someone you love not know it.

8. Take care of your body.

People who survive cancer have a whole new appreciation for health. Those who haven’t been there may take it for granted. So stop smoking. Eat healthy. Drink in moderation. Maintain a healthy weight. Avoid toxic poisons. Get enough sleep. Above all else, prioritize self care.

9. Prioritize freedom and live like you mean it.

People who survive cancer know that being a workaholic isn’t the answer. Money can’t buy health. Security doesn’t matter if you’re six feet under. Sixteen hours a day of being a stress monster is only going to make you sick. As Tim Ferriss writes in The 4-Hour Workweek, “Gold is getting old. The New Rich are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.”

10.  Take risks.

People who survive cancer have faced their fears and gotten to the other side.  They know life is for living because they almost lost it. True aliveness and real joy lie in taking risks. So go sky diving if you want. Bungee jump. Hang glide. Spend your savings.  Live like you might die tomorrow.

Are you doing these things? Or are you waiting for a life threatening diagnosis to test out how much you want to live? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

LisaLissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself.

She is on a grass roots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities – HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

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