Tag Archives: well-being

Helping as only you can

This is National Volunteer Week.

Scene: A regular Joe driving home to see his family after a hard day. He comes upon a beat-up, broken-down car along the side of the road.   This average guy, named Jim, doesn’t hesitate to stop and see what help he can give to the stranger standing nearby.

The year was 1929.  Life was difficult.  And it would not get better for a long while.  It was a desperate time when daily life for many revolved around one thing: looking for a way to stay alive.  It was also a time, interesting enough, when generosity abounded.

Love and its manifestations of giving, kindness, and compassion have long marked the best of human nature.  Whatever impels someone to give of himself even when he has little to offer has pulled many individuals through difficult times.

Scientific investigation on the effects of love in our lives has uncovered some interesting findings. The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, founded at Case Western Reserve University, has been looking into the subject.  Part of its mission statement includes answering the question: Does the sincere love of neighbor contribute to the happiness and health of both those who give it and those who receive it?  Read more….

Welcome in the New You

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”

A fresh start!  We all appreciate that. Some even crave it. A new year can be the catalyst for a healthy turn-around as we focus our best efforts on what’s important to our well-being.

There is nothing magical in flipping the calendar.  But there is something appealing about closing the door on unhealthy behaviors and their consequences.  A healthy, new beginning can result when one gives him or herself permission to leave behind past failings.  The next step is to solidify in some practical manner the positive steps required to achieve our wellness goals.

Positive health is an emerging concept that an interdisciplinary team is investigating with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This pioneering approach to health promotes patients’ health assets while focusing on key factors that include subjective influences like optimism.  This can add to a healthier and longer life according to the organization.

But what happens when optimism wanes? Read more…

Not So Random Acts of Kindness

World Kindness Day is November 13th, a global 24-hour celebration dedicated to paying-it-forward and focusing on the good

 

Ever feel impelled to give the world a big hug? We thrive on kindness. And though we frequently witness examples of callousness both in our own lives and in the news, displays of intolerance and indifference should only strengthen a desire to resist such behavior and encourage respectful relationships.

A look-out-for-yourself mentality is unnatural. We start out in life as sharers. Through their constant caregiving, the vast majority of moms and dads instill in us the capacities of empathy and generosity.

That nurturing is health-giving to children.  And it endures into adulthood.   Encouragement and kindheartedness foster wellbeing not only in recipients, but in contributors as well. Stephen Post, Director for the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University, recently quoted the Book of Proverbs when speaking before a group in Cleveland:  “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”   Read more…

Can we do better than be happy?

Lately, I have been questioning the entrenched pursuit of happiness. I’m thinking that it’s not necessarily the target of our deepest desires, despite the current media onslaught pushing us to pursue it. Maybe the singular aim in life is something more. Let me explain.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpgI’ve written repeatedly about happiness over the years and for good reason. It has been linked to physical and mental health in many research studies.  Happy people tend to experience a better sense of well-being.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Feeling happy is generally a good thing. But what really underlies much of the quest for happiness is an intrinsic desire for recognition of our worth.  The happiness crave cannot be satiated without a reasonable understanding of one’s own value and the worth of others.

We know the drill. It’s been instilled in us from early on. Acquire that new smartphone or car, amass wealth and prestige, foster attention and notoriety, or gain intellect and scholarly success and we are told happiness will ensue.  But who has ever found that to be the case, at least in a lasting way?  Read more…

It’s as plain as the nose on your face

Or is it?  Perhaps things are not as black and white (or gold and white in this case) as we sometimes think.

The echoes of #dressgate continue to reverberate throughout social media. My son and I were sitting on the couch when he showed me the picture, on his phone, of the now infamous dress.  He asked what colors I saw. I suspected a trick question, but answered truthfully, black and blue. It was obvious.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpg My son laughed skeptically and informed me he saw a gold and white dress. We checked with my wife who saw a gold and silver dress. Same picture, three different perspectives. What’s going on?

The explanation given for the dissimilar testimonies revolves around light wavelengths, visual cortex, and how each individual processes the information their senses acquire.  It seems they are not the same. Of more importance to me are the parallel lessons to be learned about our own stubborn beliefs and willingness to defend them. And perhaps we can extend the experience to grow a bit in our understanding of well-being.

@alexismadrigal tweeted, “The dress should remind us all: what you see is mostly a projection of what your brain expected to see.” When it comes to wellness, it is the same. Our expectations can be downright destructive to health.  After all, aren’t the so-called “rules” of well-being hinged on age, decline, parts wearing out, etc.?  And don’t we expect to see evidence of this played out in our own lives and on our own bodies?  Sometimes, we let our own convictions convict us.  Read more…