Happiness Hacks: Touch much

“Happiness Hacks”  are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

I’m a hugger.  I admit it.  It’s almost a reflex when I see someone I like or admire.

In the 1970’s I taught 3rd grade.  It was common for some students to run up, throw their arms around my waist and give me a big hug.  We teachers would always hug back.  When a student got hurt or was in distress a hug was automatic.  Our cultural climate has changed and teachers are no longer suppose to touch, much less hug, students.  Our cultural climate is continuing to change and unwanted, unwarranted “hugs” are rightly being brought out into the open and condemned.

So I share this information from the work of Alex Korb, UCLA neuroscientist author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time  with the acknowledgement that we should only be touching others who want to be touched.

Got someone to hug? Go for it. Alex Korb,  says ‘A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.”

“Hand holding, pats on the back, and handshakes work, too. Korb cites a study in which subjects whose hands were held by their partners experienced a reduced level of anxiety while waiting for an expected electrical shock from researchers. “The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits.”’

And if you have no one handy to touch, guess what? Massage has also been shown to be an effective way to get your oxytocin flowing, and it reduces stress hormones and increases your dopamine levels. Win win.

Mousey Masseuse by Peggy

The value of touching shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re down. According to Korb:

“In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI [functional magnetic imaging] experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain . . .”

The next time you see me HUG AWAY!

(jw)

Fur Fun: Buried Alive

When under ground

and no one’s around

it’s very dark before the dawn

or perhaps it’s dawn before the dark?

 It’s sometimes hard to tell

So make sure you’re planted

at just the right depth

and not in some deep well
1-5-2017

Eye my View – “Gourgous” Gorge

On a plane ride returning back to California from a trip to Alaska, I opened an in-flight magazine and was mezmerized by a picture of Multnomah Falls, a waterfall so beautiful that I knew I had to go see it in person.

620-foot (190 m)-high Multnomah Falls.

“Multnomah Falls, is located in the Columbia River Gorge – the area with the highest percentage of waterfalls (over 90) in the continental U.S.  The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Up to 4,000 feet deep, the canyon stretches for over 80 miles as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south.”

The area is known for its high concentration of waterfalls, with over 90 on the Oregon side of the Gorge alone.[1] Many are along the Historic Columbia River Highway, including the notable The gorge was formed when an upstream glacier broke and came crashing through a riverbed towards the ocean. The flow of melting ice and debris widened the riverbed.

“The same Ice Age floods that created the Willamette Valley carved a wide river gorge through the Cascade Mountains, tearing through ancient volcanic rock and cresting at more than 700 feet high. After the floodwaters receded, they left behind a mighty river flanked by towering cliffs, its tributaries now flowing into dozens of towering waterfalls – the tallest, Multnomah Falls.”

Fairy Falls

I’m happiest around water and tons of water cascading over beautiful terrain was my idea of heaven on earth. I invited my two daughters and a friend to join me on what turned out to be a wonderful trip. We hiked steep trails, had picnics in the rain, and  decided we wanted to quit our jobs, move to Oregon and buy a small restaurant. Needless to say that never happened.

Horsetail Falls

“The Columbia River Gorge began forming as far back as the Miocene (roughly 17 to 12 million years ago), and continued to take shape through the Pleistocene (2 million to 700,000 years ago).”

We never opened the restaurant.  Now that I’m retired I’ll settle for a vacation home next to a waterfall and take-out dinner.

Peggy

See our post on Max Your Mind  “Falling water, raising spirits”

Eye my View – The Secret of the Lotus Flower

My favorite photography subjects are from nature. The frame of the camera lens helps me see things in ways my naked eye misses.  Much of my intrigue and curiosity about natural wonders are the marvelous secrets that are not visible to the eye. 

Lotus flowers have held such a secret for centuries.  It’s  life cycle is unique:  Its roots grow in muddy, murky river water where, every night it submerges and miraculously re-blooms the next morning, no residue on its petals.

Science has learned the lotus’ secret for keeping so pristine. It is in their nanostructure: Thousands of nano-sized bumps on the petals, that cause water to pick up the dirt and roll it right off the petals.*

The lotus holds a revered place for Buddhists and Egyptians and considered one of the most sacred flowers today.

There is general consensus among ancient texts that it symbolizes spiritual enlightenment and rebirth with its ability to dip into the grime and revive itself —an incredible daily cycle of life, death, and an immaculate spiritual rebirth.

The lotus is native to India and Vietnam.

Scientists are researching the lotus’ nano-structure to create windows that never have to be washed.  Hopefully, the next step will be self-cleaning clothes, sinks, floors, cars . . . 

Peggy

*“The lotus effect refers to self-cleaning properties that are a result of ultrahydrophobicity as exhibited by the leaves of Nelumbo or “lotus flower“. Dirt particles are picked up by water droplets due to the micro- and nanoscopic architecture on the surface, which minimizes the droplet’s adhesion to that surface.”

“Plants with a double structured surface like the lotus can reach a contact angle of 170°, whereby the droplet’s contact area is only 0.6%. All this leads to a self-cleaning effect.”

Wikipedia

 

Happiness Hacks: The Write Way


“Happiness Hacks”  are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

“In the 1970s, a professor of psychology named James W. Pennebaker began experimenting with the effects that talking, confessing and self-understanding had on human well-being. Nearly 30 years later, he and his collaborator, Joshua M. Smyth, a professor of behavioral health and medicine, produced a body of research that found the emotionally connective and relieving effects of expressive writing to promote self-understanding, ease emotional pain and aid in physical healing.[viii] Since their book, Opening Up by Writing It Down, was published in 1997, their findings have been corroborated by other scientists’ independent studies around the world.”

The 2016 edition of their book explains that expressive writing:

•  Offers those who either don’t wish to talk about their feelings or have no one to confide in a way to unburden themselves

•  Reduces stress, fear and isolation

•  Boosts immune systems, optimism and sense of connectedness

•  Allows minds to process, organize and understand their experiences and feelings, enhancing learning and memory

“When expressing themselves in writing, people often report that they feel safe. They are actually creating an artifact—one that symbolizes some of their thoughts and feelings but is not them. With that safety, people often find they can put things down on the page that are often hard to speak about, and explore the deeper truths that we all carry with us.”

“The writing itself is a “made thing”—something with weight and substance. Therefore, it has a place in the world and you become identified with that creative construction. For many people, this gives them a way to bootstrap out of negativity and to start to identify themselves in a powerful and positive way.”

http://www.howlifeunfolds.com/stronger-connections/expressive-writing-a-path-forward-for-your-health