maybe take an email vacation?

The study, “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email,” looked at 13 workers in a typical office setting and asked them to discontinue e-mail for five days. The results were that during the e-mail hiatus, these people spent longer periods of time focusing on a single task at work and shifted between computer windows much less than those who were slaves to their in-box.

The researchers also tested people’s stress levels by attaching wearable heart rate monitors and found that their stress levels were much lower when not checking e-mail on a regular basis.

click here

is facebook making us lonely?

When you sign up for Google+ and set up your Friends circle, the program specifies that you should include only “your real friends, the ones you feel comfortable sharing private details with.” That one little phrase,Your real friends—so quaint, so charmingly mothering—perfectly encapsulates the anxieties that social media have produced: the fears that Facebook is interfering with our real friendships, distancing us from each other, making us lonelier; and that social networking might be spreading the very isolation it seemed designed to conquer.

Friendship is the Best Medicine

By Patch Adams, M.D. via:

When I see all the horrors and suffering in the world, I know it can be different. I know the solutions are nested in radiant loving. I’ve asked hundreds of thousands of people at audiences in 70 countries in 28 years if there was anything more important in their lives than loving. No more than 10 have raised their hands.

So why aren’t we loving? Loving is not taught as an intelligence in any public-school in the world, even one hour in 13 years, nor is compassion taught in any medical school. Now what I mean by loving as an intelligence is the use of thinking as a tool to construct oneself into a loving and compassionate being. In my never-ending pursuit to understand this better I read books on love to get ideas. I just read a new book by a professor of sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris, Jean-Claude Kaufmann, called The Curious History of Love. He only mentions love in the context of relationships between couples and only heterosexual ones at that. Friendship is never mentioned. I finished this book wondering why he limited his vision to such a small part of the wonderfully wide expanse of love’s horizon.

For most people, friends are the most important thing in their lives. Romance mostly comes and goes but friends can be eternal. Around the world I find loneliness to be the worst experience patients (people) can have. I am convinced that depression is never an illness but rather a symptom of loneliness (Please read John Cacioppo’s book Loneliness). The way I discover if a person has a friend is if they are free of depression. I define friend as that person who, if you are actively thinking of them, you can’t be depressed. Like primates, we are group animals. We have a 100 million year old communal history. Having studied primates all my life I think that my relationship to our primate past is at the center of my drive for community. This is why I think the move to nuclear family and to solitary living is sociologically so dangerous. In my study of gorilla and chimpanzee groups, I’ve come to think that friendship possibly has its roots in the communal life of great apes and in the relationships they form within their groups. It is a common feeling that a friend is for life. I suppose initially it was a security/company thing but has become the measure of our richness (not in numbers of friends, but depth of our friendships).

Many of the couples I’ve encountered in my lifetime do not have the depth in their relationships that the members of these couples have in their relationships with their other friends. I see so few long term loving couples that when I do, I ask them what the secret is. Invariably they say that their partner is their friend (or more likely, best friend). So maybe a partner, spouse or lover is simply a variant of a kind of friend. Maybe to couple well one could get really skilled at friendship with both genders and find a partner that is first and foremost a friend. Maybe even sex could be a way to deepen our friendships without requiring a commitment as a couple. It could potentially even lessen desperate dating if we had snuggle buddies and caressing chums.

As I think about nature and the arts I feel friendship may be the best way to describe my relationship to them (please read David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous and Becoming Animal). Just being close to them brings me intense joy and satisfaction. As a book lover and collector, I love to stand next to a floor to ceiling bookshelf where I know all the books. I feel them reach out with their arms and massage me. They go into my head and sing songs. I know people get this from a love of God. I don’t know their experience personally but I know it is real for them. I know someone has a friendship with God when their spirituality prevents them from feeling lonely.

So, Prof. Kaufman, I invite you to expand the vision of love presented in your book. I recommend some fabulous kissing, then go outside and watch birds, feel a closeness with nature, smile at your fellow human beings, all in the pursuit of loving.

eat dark chocolate!

Surprising benefits of eating (in moderation of course) dark chocolate:

- lower blood pressure/risk of heart disease

- skin protection (antioxidants called flavonoids protect you from UV rays)

- cocoa has anti clotting properties–> better circulation

- more blood flow to the retina may even improve your vision

- dark chocolate has been proven to elevate your mood…(and may even work as an aphrodisiac ;))

Sporadically throughout the semester Professor Striegel would pass out small pieces of dark chocolate to be enjoyed during lecture/stretch break. As a class, we found ourselves to be not only more attentive and engaged after eating the chocolate but also lighter in our moods, quicker to laugh/smile and pleasantly full. Moral of the story: go eat dark chocolate; it’s a simple indulgence that’s actually good for you.

food for thought

15 Rules to Live by:
1. Be Kind.
2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to YOU.
3. Write poems, even if only in your head.
4. Sing out loud, even if badly.
5. Dance, even with no rhythm.
6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal.
7. Find things to be in awe of.
8. Be grateful for what you have right now.
9. Watch Modern Family (**or Parks and Recreation :)), read Wayne Dyer (**or Haidt/Lao-tzu/whatever makes sense to you, just read) and end every complaint with “But I’m so blessed!”….and post them!!!
10. Duh, do yoga.
11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.
12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.
13.Take more pictures.
14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. No such thing.
15. Thank the Universe in advance.

Exercises: health and happiness

Giving 5% more effort to my happiness means I will: (repeat five times)

Giving 5% more effort to my health means: (repeat five times)

In class, Professor Striegel had us complete small exercises such as these in order to put into language concrete ideas on how to increase our own subjective wellbeing. While efforts such as these may seem futile or even hackneyed, our class on a whole was surprised at how much insight they offered us when undertaken with an open mind. Please feel free to complete these exercises and post your responses in the comment box!



Think of the most wonderful experience or experiences in your life, happiest moments, ecstatic moments, moments of rapture, perhaps from being in love, or from listening to music, or suddenly “being hit” by a book or painting or from some great creative moment. Choose one such experience or moment. Try to imagine yourself at that moment, including all the feelings and emotions associated with the experience. Now write about the experience in as much detail as possible trying to include the feelings, thoughts, and emotions that were present at the time. Please try your best to reexperience the emotions involved. (Shahar, “Even happier”)

By writing down these moments of flow, we articulate these ephemeral yet profound experiences to ourselves and gain perspective on our own creative capacities. Take a moment to meditate on this exercise then write the first feelings, images and memories that come to mind. Reconnect with yourself and try once more to attain that sense of “flow”.

“Things won are done;

Joy’s soul lies in the doing”

Possibly one of my favorite quotes of all time, Shakespeare’s simple message embodies one of the fundamental pillars of positive psychology and offers key insight into how to live life fully, passionately and meaningfully; the crux of this idea merely being that life is not a race (for who wants to reach the finish line anyway?) and that the simple joys we derive from life come from living it in the moment, doing the things and surrounded by the people we love. Being too focused on the future, on expectations and everything that could go wrong will blind you to this inherent pleasure of life. Instead, reach out and embrace life, live fiercely and fervently, adapt as things change and find joy in between.