“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.
Compassion makes you feel better. I saw this first hand when I worked in an outpatient program with people diagnosed with severe psychiatric disorders – schizophrenia, manic depressive disorder and major depression. Many had been hospitalized more than once.
My goal was to help patients manage their illness, so they could stay out of the hospital and live a more normal life. Besides many of the things the program offered to help them, including medication, I believed if I could help them be happier, have more positives in their lives, some of the stressors they felt would be offset and help them stay well.
Acts of Kindness by Peggy
I had read a research project using compassion exercises and decided to try it. It worked well in the research and I hoped it worked for the patients. Here’s what I did:
Week 1: I asked the patients to spend an hour being really good to themselves, something to pamper themselves. It didn’t matter what they chose as long as they personally enjoyed it. When they shared everyone expressed liking their experiences and felt happy they participated.
Week 2: The patients were to take the same amount of time – an hour – and do something nice for somebody else, something to brighten someone else’s day. It didn’t matter who they chose or what they did as long as it was something kind and giving. When they shared this experience they were even happier! All reported they felt better doing something nice for somebody else for an hour than doing something for themselves.
Caring for others, having compassion, can make you happier. You don’t have to wait weeks between. Do something nice for yourself for an hour one day. The next day do something nice for another person. It doesn’t even have to be for an hour. Try it and see for yourself. And let us know how it goes.
According to brain science Buddhist monks are some of the happiest people in the world. They are don’t leave their monasteries and do things for others, but meditate on compassion. Research shows compassion meditation changes the brain and makes it happier!
Don’t have an hour to do something nice for someone else? Spend 10 – 20 minutes and meditate on compassion . . . Remember – It’s a hack NOT a substitution for the real thing.
Twenty-eight days since fracturing my ankle (but who’s counting). I was looking forward to my doctor’s appointment yesterday (“looking forward to a doctor’s appointment” – now, that’s a first for me) thinking I will finally give the orthopedic boot the boot and be frrrrrrreeeeeeee. Not. I forgot the ligament was going to take longer to heal than the bone.
The good news: The bone is healing, I don’t have to wear the boot to bed, the wrapping is off and can take a shower without my foot sticking out into the room.
The mediocre news: I have to transition from the boot into an ankle brace sloooooooooowly . . . for a month.
The bad news: My ankle hurts if I walk and pain makes me crabby.
Elixir Fixer by Peggy
This would make a lesser person take to the bottle. Which reminds me, today is National Wine Day. Read this fascinating post on the benefits of wine which include things I need RIGHT NOW:
Anti-aging (who knew?)
Blood thinning (so it no longer boils)
Boosts immune system
Increases bone density
and . . . 6 more benefits (you’ll have to click on the link below to learn how all 10 benefits help you)
“A team of researchers from UCLA and the University of Adelaide studied 35 non-demented adults who were from 45 to 75 years old. They gave each study participant the International Physical Activity Questionnaire to determine how many hours on average they spent sitting and how much physical activity they got each day. Each study participant also underwent a high-resolution MRI scans of his or her brain.”
The researchers found that the more hours the subjects sat the thinner the medial temporal lobes of their brains tended to be. (Each hour of additional sitting correlated with a medial temporal lobe that’s 2% thinner.) This was regardless of how much physical activity they engaged in when not sitting.
Some of the possibilities of how sitting impacts your brain include:
Your blood may not be circulating as much throughout your body and therefore your brain. This could mean that your brain is not getting as much oxygen or the waste products in your brain aren’t being cleared out as effectively.
You don’t burn as many calories, which could lead to weight issues, which then alter a wide variety of mechanisms in your body.
Your body’s metabolic machinery and hormones may be impacted so that your brain is not getting as many nutrients or is being exposed to other conditions such as higher blood sugar.
More recuperation by Peggy
Correlations and associations do not mean cause-and-effect.
A study with only 35 people has many limitations and does not prove that sitting will make part of your brain thinner. “Maybe in this study, the people who were more likely to sit more each day also were more likely to be less active socially, have less stimulating jobs, or have other circumstances that could be affecting their brains. Alternatively, could thinning medial temporal lobes somehow be affecting their behaviors so that they sat more? More studies are needed to figure out what is actually happening.”
*The medial temporal lobe is part of the brain responsible for forming longer term memories. It tends to thin as you age to begin with!
“Nonetheless, this study does add to the concern that “sitting is the new smoking”, which by the way nothing to do with “cigarette butts.” Other studies have associated regularly sitting for lengthy periods of time with increased risks of obesity, diabetes, muscle and back problems, cancer, and other health problems.”
I have no words – which happens, as you know, infrequently. It is so worth taking 40 minutes of your time to watch, listen and admire this remarkable film, remarkable woman and creative expression at its most powerful
Watch: Oscar Nominee ‘Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405’ Short Film
“One of the categories that gets very little attention at the Academy Awards is Best Documentary Short, usually featuring an impressive selection of international short films that are not always easy to watch. One of the films nominated as a Best Documentary Short from 2017 is one called Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, directed by Frank Stiefel. If you live in Los Angeles, you know the 405 is one of the worst highways to drive and almost always has traffic. The film examines the life of LA-based artist Mindy Alper, who has struggled her entire life with mental disorders and depression, even though she produces remarkably deep, honest work. This short runs 40 minutes, but it’s worth a watch to get an inspiring look inside the mind of a tortured artist. You can find out more about Alper on the film’s official site after you’ve watched this. Enjoy.”
Been curled up in a fetal position for 14 days (but who’s counting?) My cold has traveled south (undoubtedly looking for warmth) into my bronchials. I don’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, do anything and my guilty pleasures are no longer pleasurable. The ever-present fibromyalgia fatigue has morphed into exhaustion and if I had the energy I’d invest in stock in Puff’s-plus-lotion-tissues stock options.
Bob the Blobfish sez: “If she thinks she’s got problems try being me with a cold . . .”
BUT Glory be! I’m not being a wimp!!!! “Those feelings are a real thing called “sickness behavior,” which is sparked by the body’s response to infection. The same chemicals that tell the immune system to rush in and fend off invading viruses also tell us to slow down; skip the eating, drinking and sex; shun social interactions; and rest.”
“Those messages are so powerful they can’t be ignored,” says Philip Chen, a rhinologist at the University of Texas, San Antonio. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try. Symptoms like a stuffy nose are obvious, Chen notes, but we’re less aware that changes in mood and behavior are also part of our bodies’ natural response to infection.”
“There is plenty of evidence that having a cold impairs mood, alertness and working memory and that brain performance falls off with even minor symptoms.”
Heart disease, not cancer, is the #1 killer of women. I learned that and other invaluable information on Carolyn Thomas’ My Heart Sisters blog.
Over the years I’ve “stolen” and reposted many a wonderful post from Carolyn Thomas. Her blog, Heart Sisters, has been one of the few I’ve followed for years. I have forgotten what led me to her blog but once I read both her compelling stories and the up-to-date information on women’s health, in particular heart disease, I was a Carolyn-groupie.
Apparently Johns Hopkins was a groupie too when they asked her to write a book on Living with Heart Disease. My guess is that her down-to-earth writing coupled with up-to-date research and information appealed to Johns Hopkins as much as it did to me.
Here’s just a sample of info found on Carolyn’s blog:
“Did you know: Women generally fare far worse than men after experiencing a cardiac event? One possible reason is that it can be confusing to make sense of warning symptoms when they do hit. Women are also less likely than our male counterparts to seek immediate help at the first sign of cardiac symptoms. Instead, we end up:”
toughing them out
waiting to see if they go away
blaming them on stress, muscle soreness, indigestion or other less serious non-cardiac causes
I can’t say enough good things about Carolyn – you’ll have to read her book and her blog to see for yourself what fabulous advocacy and education Carolyn has provided since her own “widow-maker” heart attack. (Full disclosure: we are not related, I’ve never met her in person, and I don’t get a kick-back!)
Buy a copy and give the gift of life to a woman you love . . . maybe it’s even yourself
Save 20% when you use the code HTWN when you pre-order the book from Johns Hopkins
“[A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease] gives women the knowledge they need to become their own advocates in a health care system that continues to be weighted against them.”
— Foreword Reviews
“This book brings a needed focus to a leading killer of women today and is a must-read for women and their loved ones.”
— Library Journal
“If you are a woman, or love a woman, this is a book for you! Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women. Here is a book focused on women’s cardiovascular health. It is all here—prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Read it for the people you love.”
— Edward K. Kasper, MD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, coauthor of Living Well With Heart Failure: The Misnamed, Misunderstood Condition
“This work is an important contribution to the discussion about heart attack and misdiagnosis in women. Thomas’s personal story—alongside the stories of millions of other women—provides a needed reminder of recognizing one’s symptoms, avoiding denial, and seeking medical attention. This elegant book is a unique addition to women’s health books and a necessary read for women and the people who care about them.”
— Roger S. Blumenthal, MD, Director, The Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease
Thank you Carolyn for pushing through your own symptoms to write a book of this magnitude.