In the realms of the divine, where questions often outweigh answers, one man sought to understand the essence of Heaven and Hell. Little did he know that his journey would reveal a profound truth about human nature and the impact of our actions on others. As the man conversed with the Lord, he discovered that the stark difference between these two realms was not found in their physical setting, but rather in the attitudes and approach of the people present. This revelation serves as a powerful reminder that we possess the ability to shape the experiences of those around us, either by causing suffering or by bringing comfort and hope. In this blog post, we delve deeper into this thought-provoking tale and explore how we can create heaven or hell for one another in our own lives.
Parable of the Long Spoon
The man, driven by curiosity, approached the Lord and asked about the nature of Heaven and Hell. In response, the Lord led him to two seemingly identical rooms. In the first room, the man witnessed a distressing sight. A large round table occupied the center, with an enticing pot of stew resting upon it. The aroma of the stew tantalized the man’s senses, but his attention was soon drawn to the people surrounding the table. They appeared thin, sickly, and famished, holding spoons with long handles. Though they could dip their spoons into the pot and retrieve a mouthwatering spoonful, the length of the handles prevented them from nourishing themselves. The scene evoked immense suffering and misery within the man’s heart.
As the man recoiled from the harrowing sight, the Lord declared, “You have seen Hell.”
Curiosity still burning within him, the man followed the Lord into the second room. To his surprise, he discovered an identical scene to the previous room. The same round table with the savory pot of stew occupied the center, and the people around it were equipped with the same long-handled spoons. However, in stark contrast to Hell, the people here were well nourished, plump, and filled with joy. Laughter and lively conversation filled the room.
Baffled and perplexed, the holy man expressed his confusion to the Lord. The Lord responded with a simple yet profound explanation: “It is simple. They have learned to feed each other, while the greedy only think of themselves.”
The Power of Perspective: The tale’s moral lies not in the physical attributes of the two rooms, but in the way individuals treat one another. It highlights the transformative impact of selflessness, compassion, and cooperation in creating a heavenly environment. Similarly, the absence of these qualities leads to a hellish existence characterized by suffering and isolation.
In our everyday lives, we are constantly presented with opportunities to shape the experiences of those around us. Our actions, however small, carry the potential to bring either happiness or sorrow. By choosing to treat others with kindness, empathy, and generosity, we create a ripple effect that can transform even the most challenging situations into moments of solace and hope.
Imagine a world where every interaction is infused with compassion and understanding. It is a world where we go beyond our self-centered desires and actively seek to alleviate the suffering of others. By recognizing the interconnectedness of our lives, we can foster a sense of unity and build a harmonious society.
Creating heaven on Earth begins with cultivating empathy and embracing a mindset that values the well-being of others. It involves reaching out to those in need, offering a helping hand, and truly listening to one another’s struggles. Small acts of kindness, whether it’s a smile, a supportive word, or a selfless gesture, can make a significant difference in someone’s life.
Even if you keep yourself to a strict bedtime each night, there’s so much more to maintaining a good sleep schedule and achieving healthier sleep habits. Sleep patterns play a crucial role in how well-rested you may feel, especially over time — despite hitting a consistent amount of sleep every night (even within your recommended range), you can still find yourself feeling unprepared for busy schedules in the day ahead if you’re stuck in a late-night rut.
Sleep hygiene, or the collective steps to ensure you’re enjoying your best sleep on a regular basis, can look and feel very different for each individual based on one’s lifestyle. This usually depends on when you may need to be up and active or working, as well as when you eat meals; translating to a different sleep schedule and subsequent habits. In any case, your body is often relying on cues surrounding these daily routines in order to regulate what’s known as your internal circadian rhythm. Nestled in a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, your circadian rhythm is largely governed by the environment you’re in or by other cues in your surroundings, like a gradual shift from light to dark.
But issues involving hormones, body temperatures and metabolic influences may also impact your circadian cycle, even after just one night’s worth of disruptions or significant changes.
There are a few ways you can work to reverse any disturbance to your sleep schedule and be extra considerate of your circadian rhythm to set yourself up for better sleep tonight. Try troubleshooting your sleep schedule by doing a reset; follow along as we highlight proven tricks and tips for getting back to a good night’s sleep.
How to reset your sleep schedule:
If you’re trying to improve your sleep hygiene but don’t know where to start, try working your way through this list of proven tactics before moving on to other resources available to you.
1. Build-in pockets of break times during your day — especially before bed.
Taking time to wind down in the hours leading up to sleep is indeed important. But often people who are experiencing disruptions to their sleep routine are in the midst of an overbearing schedule that extends throughout the entire day and into the evening. If you’re having trouble staying asleep at night, it may be due to a condition known as hyperarousal, explains Jade Wu, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University.
“It’s basically because your body and mind are too revved up,” she says. “The problem may be what you’re doing, or failing to do, during the day. You must make sure you have time to rest, instead of being on the go all day long.”
Being busy, either physically or through mental exhaustion, is an easy way to tire yourself out — but if you’re not building in periods of time to allow yourself to rest, this may lead to disrupted sleep functions later in the evening. This is especially true for people who are working right up until their bedtime; simply shutting off a computer or stopping chores and making a beeline for a dark bedroom doesn’t ensure immediate sleep.
2. Practice a soothing function prior to bed.
It goes hand in hand with scheduling breaks throughout your day, but offsetting stress and cortisol in your body (the hormone that stress produces) is essential to set yourself up for a mindset that’s conducive to sleep. If you can tell that the day’s stress is following you into your bedroom at night, Wu advises focusing on a relaxing ritual in the hour before you lay down to signal to your brain that it’s time to shut down for the evening.
The activity can be something of your choice, and it can be as simple as zoning out over a favorite show or scrolling through a social media feed — as long as you’re putting boundaries in to ensure you’re not self-sabotaging your bedtime. Sleep specialists have long advocated for meditation or journaling during this time, or even something physical that can be practiced easily in your quarters, like yoga or stretching exercises. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to consistently practice it within the hour you plan to turn off your lights and put your head on the pillow; building this routine may help guide your circadian rhythm over time.
“Make sure to have some dedicated time to process your thoughts, too, or else they’ll be pent up and ready to disrupt you during the night,” Wu adds. “If you’re prone to overthinking or worry during the night, get out of your head and into your body with mindful breathing or another exercise beforehand.”
3. Monitor what you eat and drink at night.
Your metabolism has a direct impact on your body’s internal clock, says Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D., a sleep medicine instructor at Harvard Medical School and sleep expert to Oura. Some of the things you consume at night may be obvious culprits for keeping you awake: Caffeinated beverages and sugary sweets, which stimulate you and keep you up later than you may intend. Spicy or acidic foods may also trigger acid reflux or heartburn which may keep you up longer than you’d like.
Alcohol is a nervous system depressant and may seem like it helps you get to sleep, but research confirms that booze before bed may reduce the quality of your sleep by impairing your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Alongside a heavy meal late in the day, these kinds of dietary choices may impact you over time — and definitely impacts sleep quality if you have a temporary disruption in routine.
Stick to decaffeinated teas and other soothing beverages, and try reaching for a portion-controlled unprocessed snack if you’re hungry before bed; fresh fruit or even a dose of lean protein can help lull you to sleep. There is a wide range of foods that you can incorporate into your end-of-day routine which promotes better sleep if your snacking habits are impeding bedtime.
4. Invest in an air purifier and air conditioning as necessary.
Many people may already know that sleeping hot is one surefire way to damper the quality of your sleep and set yourself up for tossing and turning during the night. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) review suggested that temperatures higher than 75°F in your bedroom overnight (as well as below 54°F in cooler months) may prompt you to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the night.
But temperature and a good air conditioner isn’t the only factor to consider when it comes to the air inside your bedroom. Poor ventilation and air quality may impact your lungs and overall sleep quality, especially if you have pets or share your bedroom with more than one person.
“If you have a small bedroom and share it with other humans or animals consistently, the air quality may not be ideal for good quality sleep,” Wu says, adding that humans’ oxygen saturation levels drop significantly as breathing becomes more shallow during certain stages of sleep. “Keep doors and windows open if possible to keep the air flowing.”
5. Limit your exposure to light in the hours before bed.
Whether it’s light emitted from an electronic device or if you’re someone who needs to sleep during the day to work at night, you need to curtail your exposure to light in order to stimulate your body into a good period of sleep.
For most, this means dimming or turning off lights in your home and in your bedroom; doing so may prompt your circadian rhythm to communicate to your brain to produce melatonin, a sleep hormone that makes you feel naturally tired and drowsy. This includes light produced by electronic screens, from television and computers to smartphones that you may wish to use while lying in bed.
On the flip side, you’ll harness natural light and other devices in your home to help you feel more awake when you need to be — a key regulatory function of the circadian rhythm. “When we spend all day indoors, we don’t get enough broad-spectrum light exposure, which makes it harder for our circadian clocks to function,” Wu explains. “At least half an hour of outdoor light during the day can improve sleep quality.”
6. Try sleeping a bit longer.
If you’re frequently fighting to drag yourself out of bed in the morning despite sticking to a strict bedtime, this could be your body’s way of signaling that you’re just not getting enough sleep. “If you are falling short of the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep for adults, you might consider trying to build in a bit more time into your routine by adjusting your bedtime slowly,” Robbins advises.
You may need to adjust your sleep habits on a seasonal basis, too, due to the limited amount of sunshine that most experience during the winter. This is especially true if you’re experiencing what’s known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is much more common and goes undiagnosed in many individuals with mild cases.
“Our brain is less able to understand when it should be tired and when it should be alert [during the winter],” she adds. “If this is an issue for you, try to get outside and into the light when the sun is up to help train your brain to understand appropriate sleep and wake times.”
7. Don’t categorize your sleep routine between weekdays and weekends.
Sticking to a strict schedule and good habits during the weekday and then slacking off on weekends may seem innate for some; after all, you don’t have to wake up when you’re not at work or in school. But doing this on a cycle can easily damage your quality of sleep and make it impossible to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, due to a phenomenon that sleep experts call “social jetlag.”
“When we sleep and rise at very different times on workdays versus days off, it’s like we’re traveling multiple time zones throughout the week and getting jetlagged,” Wu says. “This confuses our circadian clocks, making our sleep quality and daytime functioning worse.”
If you’re finding that you’re having a lot of trouble getting to sleep or are feeling particularly restless on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, social jetlag is likely a root cause — and a key indicator you’ll need to maintain a recurrent wake-up time each morning to avoid the issue. Organizing your sleep schedule around a consistent wake-up time rather than a consistent bedtime will ensure your circadian rhythm helps you truly feel sleepy at the end of the day rather than tossing and turning in bed.
8. Avoid getting into bed when you don’t feel sleepy.
This is also true for someone who frequently wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Consistently using your bed to signal your brain that it’s time to sleep — rather than simply lounging, eating a meal, binging shows or doomscrolling — can become part of a routine that helps those who frequently are tossing and turning from becoming frustrated and being unable to sleep.
“If you toss and turn after getting back into bed, start over again — get out of your bed and only get back when you actually feel tired,” Robbins advises, adding that people can also use this tactic if they have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Setting boundaries in your bedroom to truly delegate sleeping to your bed on its own can be very helpful if you can’t seem to find a solution for tossing and turning on end. Don’t try to adhere to a bedtime by begrudgingly laying in bed if you feel alert and awake; try other techniques listed in this guide to calm down, and feel out your circadian clock to really know when you’re ready to lay down and hit the pillow.
9. Skip naps and hold out for your bedtime.
Taking a power nap seems like a good solution if you’ve recently experienced an interruption in your sleeping routine — whether it’s traveling into another time zone or simply because you’ve been sleeping poorly at home recently. But napping can inevitably cause you to feel more tired and groggy than you did before in most cases, as it only takes between 60 and 90 minutes for your body to slip into REM sleep, and waking up from that prematurely contributes to this sensation.
To avoid impacting your circadian rhythm, try avoiding naps altogether — if you can’t skip a nap for whatever reason, be sure to keep it to 30 minutes or less and make it as early in the day as possible. Doing so may leave your circadian clock better positioned for a regular bedtime later, as Mayo Clinic officials have noted.
10. Don’t quit your current sleep habits cold turkey.
This may sound counterintuitive, but you can’t expect results overnight — adopt all of these techniques and new objectives on a rolling basis, as abruptly changing your sleeping habits can easily lead to more disaster before any growth. One key aspect to think about is an adjusted bedtime; it’s very easy to dip into sleeping time than it is to make more of it, so be easy on yourself at first.
Both Robbins and Wu, alongside many other sleep experts, advise easing into a new, optimized bedtime by training yourself to get into bed earlier in 15-minute increments every three days. If you have a sleep routine already, including wind-down activities, bumping these up too can help impact your circadian rhythm naturally over time.
Temporary issues that may be impacting your sleep schedule:
A disruption in your sleep schedule and subsequent quality of rest can be expected due to a myriad of lifestyle choices, most of which you can immediately address by using some of the tactics we’ve highlighted in the sections above.
You should expect that your sleep schedule will be impacted due to issues like:
Pulling an all-nighter
Traveling through multiple time zones on long-haul trips
Jet lag on extended trips
Temporary evening work shifts
Light pollution at home
Temporary illness as well as stress and anxiety
While it’s normal for your sleep schedule to be temporarily disrupted or impaired due to these issues, there may be other root causes behind declining sleep quality that you’ll need help addressing. Since having an inconsistent sleep schedule often quickly leads to poor sleep, chronic health issues or lifestyle choices that are leading you to experience sleep disruption should be addressed with your healthcare provider. Without working to reverse these chronic disruptions, research suggests that poor sleep quality and an impacted circadian rhythm can lead to depression, other sleep disorders, seasonal affective disorder (known as SAD), as well as physical drawbacks like an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
Sleep can easily be impacted by lifestyle choices that you may need help from a doctor in managing in the long run; namely, proper nutrition, sustained exercise and stress management, explains Ali Rodriguez, M.D., an Arizona-based OB-GYN and women’s health expert to health technology brand Oura. “A lot of people don’t realize that exercise, for example, helps our sleep; moving your body for at least 30 minutes five days a week contributes to better sleep,” Dr. Rodriguez says.
Mental health may also come into play and require a helping hand, Robbins adds. “Managing stress across the day is important and can help with sleep; research suggests those who practice meditation and mindfulness get better sleep and take a bit less time to fall asleep than those without these skills,” she says.
When it’s time to see a doctor: One key indicator is a chronic toss-and-turn that lasts for more than 30 minutes. If you’ve experienced this issue almost every night during the week and have done so for more than 3 months, it’s time to seek out medical input. This time frame remains true for most sleep issues, like chronically waking up in the middle of the night — or having trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
Dr. Rodriguez stresses checking in with your healthcare provider is also crucial when you can no longer get through essential tasks within your daily routine. Given that current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures peg more than 70 million Americans as being influenced by underlying sleep disorders, some of which may silently impact circadian rhythms, there may be an issue that requires medical attention before you’re able to truly enjoy a good night’s sleep.
New Year’s resolutions have long been a way to take stock of what’s truly important in our lives, allowing us to pause and reflect on the year behind us, as well as plan for the year ahead. If living through a global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t take health and wellness for granted. In 2023, improving your body, mind and soul is a great way to organize your long-term goals for the new year.
Focusing on your health and well-being doesn’t have to translate to starting a new diet or workout plan, though. You can set your sights on taking charge of your mental health, finally optimizing a better sleep routine or diving headfirst into reclaiming your space (wave goodbye to messy closets and disastrous bathrooms).
Your resolutions don’t have to be big, instead of workout everyday for two hours you could just set a goal like walking 15 minutes a day. Doing small things persistently, will bring big changes.
Keep your new resolutions by using a planner to help you stay on track, checking off daily fitness goals and tackling frequent decluttering tasks. This year, it’s time to put you first!
Here are some ideas to help you to kick off the year with a stronger, well-nourished body and an enriched mind.
Do some low intensity breath focusing exercise
Each week, try to do 15 to 30 minutes of slow and mind focusing exercise, such as Yoga or Tai chi. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.
Yoga is also a mind and body practice. Yoga combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. Yoga involves movement, meditation, and breathing techniques to promote mental and physical well-being. According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and quality sleep.
Do a short prayer
Each night, before you go to bed, do a short prayer. Praying can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, gratitude, and thankfulness. In less than 3 minutes, you can express your gratitude to your body, your family, your friends, society, and your country. In this quiet time remind yourself to admire others, to accept others, to be attentive of others, and to forgive others. Wish for everyone to have a happy, healthy and auspicious life, wish for peace and harmony of the world, and wish that tomorrow will be better.
Build a better budget
If there’s one New Year’s resolution that will help you the most in the long run, it’s making a vow to save more money.
Before you head back to the office in January, outline a rough budget that works for you — and make a plan for how you’ll stick to it. Budgeting apps can help you do this as painlessly as possible. And supercharge your shopping habits by rethinking when and how you buy things for your home and family; often, there are savings you’re leaving on the table.
Photo from pexels.com
Anxiety can nag at anyone during any season, in all parts of life — and it can be easy to let the idea of the future or past experiences inform your reality of the present. Practicing mindfulness means doing everything you can to be grateful for what you have in the moment, where you are in life, and who you are right now. Some leading psychological experts say committing to mindfulness can help you become a better person in less than a year’s time.
Read more books
January is the perfect time of year to snuggle up with a new book. Some of us like to unwind with a great fiction book that transports us to places we’ve never been, into lives that differ from our own. Others love the shiver that goes up your spine when you crack open a creepy ghost story that makes you think twice before turning off the light to go to bed. And who among us can resist a juicy romance novel that reminds us that chivalry isn’t dead? Of course, the best nonfiction books can also open our eyes to lived experiences far beyond our own perspective. Needless to say: books can change lives, whether they’re intended to be inspirational or just come to us at the moment we need them most.
Commit to a healthier sleep routine.
So many issues can be traced back to a poor night’s sleep. And yet, there is so much more that we can aim to improve beyond a reasonable bedtime. Creating a plan to improve your sleep hygiene — the habits you maintain to get good sleep every night — may look different for everyone, as it depends on when you need to be active and working throughout the day. Your brain actually relies on cues to regulate your internal circadian rhythm, and the choices you make throughout the day can interfere with these. Start taking charge of your sleep by mastering these 10 to-dos as the year progresses.
ANNA BLAZHUKGETTY IMAGES
Research shows that pitching in regularly can lead to less stress and lower blood pressure. Try to schedule an outreach mission of your own on a day of service; many recognize Martin Luther King Day as a prime opportunity, or even Veteran’s Day in November. So use this day to jumpstart a longer-term personal commitment — and consider working on this goal with loved ones all year round.
Explore new hobbies.
Another sleepy Sunday? Today’s the day you try Ethiopian food, attend a ballet, or take a painting class — whatever feels fun. When researchers followed 7,500 people for 25 years, they found that those who complained of major boredom were roughly twice as likely to die from heart disease.
Start walking more
Even if you can’t keep track of a new fitness routine, keeping yourself moving on a simple walk around the neighborhood is a must. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains that adults should spend as much time moving each day as possible — and some physical activity (even just walking!) is better than none.
Do one thing at a time.
Multitasking doesn’t make you more efficient, but it does stress you out, says mindfulness expert Pedram Shojai, author of Focus: Bringing Time, Energy, and Money Into Flow. “If your focus is fragmented, you’ll likely find yourself getting anxious as new items come up when old ones are still incomplete,” he says.
Instead, he suggests, organize your activities into chunks of time, such as kid time and cooking time, and then “commit to being focused in those allotted minutes and see what happens.” It’ll help stop you from overthinking everything.
Give yourself more compliments.
Repeat after us: “Today is my day. I’m thankful for me.” Positive self-talk can help you focus on what’s good in your life, says psychologist Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D.
Research shows that a little vitamin G (for gratitude) can make you feel happier and more satisfied and even improve your sleep. “If you repeat an affirmation related to gratitude in the morning, you’re likely to show and feel more of it throughout that day,” Bradford says. You’re so welcome!
Head outside without your phone
In a previous GH survey, 83% of people told us they lost track of how long they spent on their devices. But short of deleting all social apps, it can be hard to trade screen time for more productive pastimes like walking the dog and coffee with friends. Whether you’re Team iPhone or Team Android, download the latest software to access built-in tools that help you track your personal app usage. Set screen downtime is also very helpful to remind you need to stop.
Add more citrus to your grocery cart.
When you see all those gorgeous in-season grapefruits, oranges, clementines, and pomelos in the produce aisle, grab an armful.
Winter citrus can help keep skin looking healthy thanks to vitamin C, which aids in collagen production. In fact, an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that people who ate foods high in C had fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who didn’t. Try clementine sections sprinkled with pistachios or sweet grapefruit dipped in Greek yogurt for a snack.
In the famous words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Put simply, gratitude is the intentional practice of noticing the good in your life. It relates to anything that makes you feel grateful, fortunate, or blessed.
It can be easy to get swept away in the fast lane and forget to stop and show your appreciation for what you do have. A life well lived is one of gratitude and thankfulness. Gratitude is the intentional practice of noticing the good in your life. It relates to anything that makes you feel grateful, fortunate, blessed. At this Thanksgiving holidays, we should think more and more about the things we are most grateful for in life.
To help you on your gratitude journey, here are 8 ways to have more gratitude in your daily life not just on Thanksgiving.
1. Don’t be picky: appreciate everything
Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for.
Even if it is as simple as appreciating the clear weather or how quickly your mailman delivered your mail last Friday, don’t leave anything out when practicing your gratitude.
2. Find gratitude in your challenges
Gratitude is not only about being thankful for positive experiences. In fact, sometimes thinking about negative or difficult situations can help to really nail down what you have to be thankful for.
Western Buddhist master Jack Kornfield remembers an exercise he did with a man who was caring for his grandson while his son and daughter-in-law battled a drug addiction. Despite all that he had been through, the man was still able to find gratitude for the amount of compassion he had learned to show and the impact he was able to have on other people.
Dig a little deeper into some of your own past experiences and try to figure out how they have helped shape you into the person you are today.
3. Practice mindfulness
Sit down daily and think through five to ten things you are grateful for. The trick is that you need to picture it in your mind and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body. Doing this every day will rewire your brain to be naturally more grateful, and you’ll start feeling happier after every session.
It only takes eight weeks of gratitude practice for people to start showing changed brain patterns that lead to greater empathy and happiness.
Your brain is a powerful tool, and training it towards gratitude is all part of ensuring that the gratitude comes more easily as you practice, so what are you waiting for?
4. Keep a gratitude journal
After your mindfulness session, write down your positive thoughts! Keeping a journal of all of the things you are thankful for can help you keep track of and refer back to the positives in your life.
Write down your positive thoughts to further focus your attention on the subject. While you are putting the pen to paper, you have no choice but to consciously think about the words you are writing without other distracting, ungrateful thoughts.
You can journal every day after your gratitude practice, or you can come back to the journal on a regular schedule weekly or monthly.
For many people, the key to having more gratitude is to give back to others in their local community. Not only will it make you more grateful for the things that you may take for granted, but studies have shown that volunteering for the purpose of helping others increases our own well-being, and thus our ability to have more gratitude.
University of Pennsylvania professor, Martin Seligman, supports this theory with his research in Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. After testing all kinds of variables that help improve our well-being, he found that volunteering is the single most reliable way to momentarily increase your well-being.
In other words: helping others helps you!
6. Express yourself
Sometimes it’s not enough to simply keep your gratitude to yourself. You can increase your feelings of gratitude by expressing that same gratitude to the people you care about.
Soul Pancake, a group that works to discover the “science of happiness,” ran an experiment where they encouraged people to write a letter to a person they were grateful for. By itself, this exercise increased their levels of happiness from 2 to 4%. However, when the same people made a phone call to the person they were thankful for to express their gratitude directly, happiness levels jumped from 4% to 19%.
Not only does expressing your gratitude for someone make their day a little brighter, but it can do wonders for increasing your own levels of gratitude and happiness in the long run
7. Spend time with loved ones
If you’re struggling with feeling the gratitude in the moment, go spend time with your friends and family. Of course it will help you grow closer to them and strengthen your relationship, but it will also give you a chance to practice your acts of gratitude on people that you care about.
Start small if they’re having trouble finding ways to support your friends and family. For instance, why don’t you make sure you’re listening intently the next time someone shares a story with you instead of waiting for your own chance to speak? Or start a conversation with a difficult member of the family by complimenting their new shoes or hair-cut.
8. Improve your happiness in other areas of your life
Being grateful can make you happy, but being happy can also make you grateful. There are plenty of other ways to get your mood up, including exercising or participating in a hobby you enjoy.
Once you are feeling the endorphins flow, showing gratitude will become even easier and you’ll start to be able to make list after list of all of the things in your life you’re thankful for.
Don’t let everyday stresses and problems get you down to the point where you think the only relief is heavily drinking or some other drug-related solution. Not only will your so-called relief be temporary, it can also be harmful to your health, contribute to possible addiction, and leave you more incapable of dealing with stresses on your own the next time they occur.
HERE ARE 8 WAYS TO SELF-SOOTH WITHOUT USING A MIND ALTERING SUBSTANCE
READ Develop a reading habit and you will find that you look forward to your time with your latest book. While you are reading, let this be your time for yourself. Set aside whatever amount of time you can and devote it wholeheartedly to reading.
MEDITATION Meditation has been practiced for countless centuries to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, to treat a variety of illnesses, to help during treatment for addictive behaviors, reduce high blood pressure, and alleviate pain and to relax. Practice meditating every day at a regular time, for a regular duration. Ultimately, your perspective will start to evolve and you will grow more able to choose your moods and reactions instead of them choosing you.
YOGA No need to be a master practitioner or a contortionist to reap the benefits from yoga. Yoga can be described as a collection of spiritual techniques and practices that seek to integrate mind, body and spirit in the quest to achieve enlightenment or oneness with the universe.
TAKE A HOT BATH AH, the satisfaction of soaking in a hot bubble bath, one of the best natural ways to relax and unwind. Give it a try! Light a candle, dim the lights and bring your awareness to the breath. Deep inhales through the noise, exhales out the mouth. Try this for sets of 5. You’ll absolutely feel less anxiety and much more able to cope with the challenges of day to day life.
VOLUNTEER There’s no question there are many deserving charities and organizations that can use help. Volunteer to help serve meals at homeless shelters, or give of your time to visit with senior citizens at assisted living centers. When you look outside yourself and your own problems and give of yourself, it’s a selfless form of generosity that rewards you with a sense of inner peace.
WALK IN NATURE Walking in nature helps you to decompress, as it magically increases the bodies natural feel-good chemicals. Breathing in the fresh air, noticing the beauty, and listening to the sounds around you will no doubt elevate your mood, leaving you with a feeling of completion and relaxation.
BECOME MORE SPIRITUAL Spirituality is something that is actively pursued, cultivated, and nourished. You don’t need to be religious to reap the rewards of a heightened spirituality. You can develop your spirituality by looking inward and trying to improve your outlook on life. Becoming more spiritual will give you a new appreciation for life and how precious it is. You will be able to give more of yourself to others, and gain richness beyond measure in return.
MAKE A GRATITUDE LIST Get into the habit of writing down 5 things you are grateful for every morning. Goodness has a way of spreading its way around. When you are positive in your outlook, and act in a manner that inspires others to do likewise, you are helping to lift others out of themselves and into a better appreciation of life.
Life is all about living. Let’s make this life the best we can for as long as we have. You won’t need drugs to help you relax. Living life to the fullest will be your gift — to you and to those you love. Namaste.
Every day you are faced with a million little traps that encourage you to take your life way too seriously. Next time you are tempted to smash your computer or lash out in a fit of road rage, remember these reasons not to take life so seriously.
1. Relationships are all that matter
Time and time again when researchers have tried to figure out what makes people happy they have come to the same conclusion: personal relationships make the biggest difference. If we valued our happiness over money we would do everything we could to spend time with friends and family and not worry so much about putting in extra time at work. When you look back on your life, you won’t reflect on the time you spent at work; you will remember family dinners, great vacations, romantic dinners, and your wedding.
2. Rich people aren’t happier people Spending more time at home or with friends will probably have a negative impact on the balance of your bank account. Just reading that sentence probably sent a wave of panic through some of you, but consider the fact that wealth is not correlated with happiness. In fact, once you have enough money to satisfy your basic needs, money makes very little difference in your overall well-being. The only exceptions are if you give your extra money to charity.
3. Worrying isn’t productive Some of us even end up stressed out in situations where it is totally unwarranted. For example, you might find yourself visiting a new city like London or Paris and end up thoroughly confused by the transit system. You can’t find out how to get where you want to go and it makes you want to scream. But what are you accomplishing by stressing yourself out? Nothing.
4. Your time is limited You only get to live one life. If you’re lucky enough to make it to age 90 you still have less than 800,000 hours between the time you are born and the time you die to cherish and enjoy all the things that make up life. One third of that time you won’t even be awake for, so you had best make the most of the remaining chunk. Do what you need to do to live a happy and fulfilled life.
When I was a child, my parents always tell me “ Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man happy, healthy, and wise. In western countries, there are old sayings much like this one, such as ” Early birds get worms”. Sleeping early and getting up early is a very good habit. However I found out it is very difficult to pass down this good habit to my children. They have a million reasons to stay up late, academic and recreational. So I decided to find some scientific evidence to convince them.
The information I found surprised me. I realized that I myself should sleep and wake up even earlier.
Circadian rhythms and internal biological clock
Three scientists won the 2017 Nobel Prize for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are driven by an internal biological clock that anticipates day/night cycles to optimize the physiology and behavior of organisms.
“Chronobiology has an impact on many aspects of our physiology. For example, circadian clocks help to regulate sleep patterns, feeding behavior, hormone release, blood pressure and body temperature. Molecular clocks also play critical roles locally in many tissues. Ablation of clock genes in animal models results in arrhythmic production of hormones, such as corticosterone and insulin (Son et al., 2008). Clock genes also exert a profound influence on metabolism through the control of gluconeogenesis, insulin sensitivity and systemic oscillation of blood glucose (Panda, 2016). Sleep is vital for normal brain function and circadian dysfunction has been linked to sleep disorders, as well as depression, bipolar disorder, cognitive function, memory formation and some neurological diseases (Gerstner and Yin, 2010).”
Body-Energy Clock in Chinese Medicine
Observations that organisms adapt their physiology and behavior to the time of the day in a circadian fashion have been documented for a long time. Thousands years ago in Chinese Medicine, the body clock was already known. The 24 hour day was divided into 12 two-hour intervals of the Qi (vital force) moving through the organ system. The Body-Energy Clock is built upon the concept of the cyclical ebb and flow of energy throughout the body. During a 24-hour period(see the following diagram), Qi moves in two-hour intervals through the organ systems. During sleep, Qi draws inward to restore the body. This phase is completed between 1 and 3 a.m., when the liver cleanses the blood and performs a myriad of functions that set the stage for Qi moving outward again.
In the 12-hour period following the peak functioning of the liver—from 3 a.m. onward—energy cycles to the organs associated with daily activity, digestion and elimination: the lungs, large intestine, stomach/pancreas, heart, small intestine. By mid-afternoon, energy again moves inward to support internal organs associated with restoring and maintaining the system. The purpose is to move fluids and heat, as well as to filter and cleanse—by the pericardium, triple burner (coordinates water functions and temperature), bladder/kidneys and the liver. Understanding The Body-Energy Clock, could help you to better manage your Sleep, Meals, & Mood.
5 am to 7 am is the time of the Large Intestine, making it a perfect time to have a bowel movement and remove toxins from the day before. So that is the perfect time to get up. Waking up at this time, getting out of bed and moving around, will help your large intestine excrete the waste. Personally, I have discovered that I am prone to constipation if I get up later than this time.
7-9am is the time of the Stomach, so it is important to eat the biggest meal of the day here to optimize digestion and absorption. Warm meals that are high in nutrition are best in the morning. Therefore, if you get up early, you will have enough time to make and enjoy a hearty breakfast. If you get up late, and skip breakfast or just grab some easy treats, then you don’t get enough nutrition for your whole body. According to the body clock the stomach has it’s strongest time in the morning, it secretes a lot of digestive juices in the morning. A lot of people like to eat a big meal at dinner, which can cause the stomach to be overburdened and make the it unable to rest adequately during sleep.
From the Body-Energy Clock we can see the Gall Bladder is most active from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. The Gall Bladder excretes bile and digest the good fats, it is working hard to repair damaged cells and build new ones. And this process is better processed when you are sleep.
1 a.m. to 3 a.m. is the most active time for the Liver. During this time, toxins are released from the body and fresh new blood is made. The liver is the main detoxifying organ in the body. Our body needs to be in the deep sleep stage, in order to give the liver its full energy capacity so it can do its proper job.
Melatonin is often referred to as the sleep hormone. Melatonin level plays an important role in our sleep-wake cycle. It is well-established that melatonin produced by the body plays a fundamental role in getting quality sleep. Scientist has discovered, our body start to increase melatonin secretion soon after the onset of darkness, peaks in the middle of the night, between 2 and 4 a.m., and gradually falls during the second half of the night. Thus most people have the experience that if they stay up too late, they have trouble falling asleep. After 4 a.m. Melatonin level start to decrease, so after 4 a.m. our sleep goes into a light, shallow and dreamy state. Falling asleep during 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., we can get better quality rest from sleeping.
There are many benefits for Going to bed early and getting up early. Here are some examples:
Early risers, whether young or old, have more positive emotions and a better sense of self-health.
Depression is a common mental illness that affects 264 million people worldwide, according to the latest data released on the World Health Organization’s website. A new study in the United States shows that for people who are accustomed to going to bed late, if they can go to bed an hour earlier, they can reduce the risk of depression by 23%.
Staying up late is also an important factor in gain weight, because staying up late can lead to endocrine disorders. If you rest on time, get up early and exercise properly, not only will you prevent excessive weight gain, but you will also be able to maintain a slim body. So, consider to be a early sleeper and early riser, if you wish to control your weight.
Multiple studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with increased risk of morbidity. Going to bed early and getting up early can enhance immunity and help fight colds and other viruses. It can also greatly reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
Study confirms that early sleepers and early risers score 30% higher on anagram tests than those who stay up late.
Here is a interesting video of a navy seal who likes to go to bed early and get up early. I hope you enjoy it, and be happy and healthy.
Tai chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. And it also helps increase flexibility and balance.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi (TIE-CHEE). Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.
What is tai chi?
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.
Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.
Tai chi has many different styles. Each style may subtly emphasize various tai chi principles and methods. There are variations within each style. Some styles may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.
Tai chi is different from yoga, another type of meditative movement. Yoga includes various physical postures and breathing techniques, along with meditation.
Who can do tai chi?
Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because tai chi is a low-impact exercise, it may be especially suitable if you’re an older adult who otherwise may not exercise.
You may also find tai chi appealing because it’s inexpensive and requires no special equipment. You can do tai chi anywhere, including indoors or outside. And you can do tai chi alone or in a group class.
Although tai chi is generally safe, women who are pregnant or people with joint problems, back pain, fractures, severe osteoporosis or a hernia should consult their health care provider before trying tai chi. Modification or avoidance of certain postures may be recommended.
Why try tai chi?
When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi may include:
Decreased stress, anxiety and depression
Improved aerobic capacity
Increased energy and stamina
Improved flexibility, balance and agility
Improved muscle strength and definition
More research is needed to determine the health benefits of tai chi. Some evidence indicates that tai chi may also help:
Enhance quality of sleep
Enhance the immune system
Help lower blood pressure
Improve joint pain
Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
Improve overall well-being
Reduce risk of falls in older adults
How to get started with tai chi
Although you can rent or buy videos and books about tai chi, consider seeking guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor to gain the full benefits and learn proper techniques.
You can find tai chi classes in many communities today. To find a class near you, contact local fitness centers, health clubs and senior centers. Tai chi instructors don’t have to be licensed or attend a standard training program. It’s a good idea to ask about an instructor’s training and experience, and get recommendations if possible.
A tai chi instructor can teach you specific positions and breathing techniques. An instructor can also teach you how to practice tai chi safely, especially if you have injuries, chronic conditions, or balance or coordination problems. Although tai chi is slow and gentle, and generally doesn’t have negative side effects, it may be possible to get injured if you don’t use the proper techniques.
After learning tai chi, you may eventually feel confident enough to do tai chi on your own. But if you enjoy the social aspects of a class, consider continuing with group tai chi classes.
Maintaining the benefits of tai chi
While you may gain some benefit from a tai chi class that lasts 12 weeks or less, you may enjoy greater benefits if you continue tai chi for the long term and become more skilled.
You may find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. But if your schedule is erratic, do tai chi whenever you have a few minutes. You can even practice the soothing mind-body concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements when you are in a stressful situation, such as a traffic jam or a tense work meeting, for instance.
Squat exercises aren’t just for athletes. You can do them as part of your regular exercise routine.
They strengthen your lower body, targeting your glutes and quadriceps.
They also make you use your core muscles.
Other muscles that benefit from squats are:
Squats burn calories and might help you lose weight.
They also lower your chances of injuring your knees and ankles. As you exercise, the movement strengthens your tendons, bones, and ligaments around the leg muscles. It takes some of the weight off your knees and ankles.
They help make your knees more stable, too.
What’s more, squats may also help boost your bone mineral density for stronger bones. It adds strength to your skeleton, mainly in the spine and lower body.
Squats improve your flexibility, too. As you become older, your tendons, muscles, and ligaments become less elastic. Regularly doing squats can help slow down this process and limber you up.
Squats help you feel and look good. Squatting helps shape up your legs and butt since it targets the glute and inner thigh muscles. As your buttocks become firm, your posture and balance might improve.
How to Do Squats
Do squats the right way to protect yourself from getting injured. Poor form can take a toll on your spine and knees over time.
The right way to do a squat is to:
Stand with your feet apart and parallel to each other.
Place your hands on your thighs.
Look up and lift your chest.
Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, putting all your weight on your heels and sitting back slowly.
Your knees shouldn’t go beyond your toes, and your head and chest should stay upright.
Hold the position for 5 seconds.
Rise back up, pressing through your heels, and straighten your hips back to the starting position.
Repeat five times.
Squats are one of the most effective strength-training exercises around. If you’re not working out already, talk to your doctor before you get started. They can let you know if squats are safe for you to do. You might also want to think about working with a professional strength trainer, who can make sure you’re using the right form.
Do you want to prevent back pain? Try these exercises to stretch and strengthen your back and supporting muscles. Repeat each exercise a few times, then increase the repetitions as the exercise gets easier.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Using both hands, pull up one knee and press it to your chest (B). Tighten your abdominals and press your spine to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg (C). Return to the starting position and then repeat with both legs at the same time (D). Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times — preferably once in the morning and once at night.
Lower back rotational stretch
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Keeping your shoulders firmly on the floor, roll your bent knees to one side (B). Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to the starting position (C). Repeat on the opposite side (D). Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times — preferably once in the morning and once at night.
Lower back flexibility exercise
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Tighten your abdominal muscles so your stomach pulls away from your waistband (B). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Flatten your back, pulling your bellybutton toward the floor (C). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Repeat. Start with five repetitions each day and gradually work up to 30.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Keeping your shoulders and head relaxed on the floor, tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles. Then raise your hips to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders (B). Try to hold the position long enough to complete three deep breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat. Start with five repetitions each day and gradually work up to 30.
Position yourself on your hands and knees (A). Slowly arch your back, as if you’re pulling your abdomen up toward the ceiling (B). Then slowly let your back and abdomen sag toward the floor (C). Return to the starting position (A). Repeat 3 to 5 times twice a day.
Seated lower back rotational stretch
Sit on an armless chair or a stool. Cross your right leg over your left leg. Bracing your left elbow against the outside of your right knee, twist and stretch to the side (A). Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side (B). Repeat this stretch 3 to 5 times on each side twice a day.
Shoulder blade squeeze
Sit on an armless chair or a stool (A). While maintaining good posture, pull your shoulder blades together (B). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Repeat 3 to 5 times twice a day.