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Fundamentals of Happiness

Originally written: http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com

How can we find happiness? Is there a tangible path to happiness or is it some illusive feeling that comes and goes according to what happens around us? According to the Dalai Lama, happiness can be cultivated like all other things. The structure of the human brain is optimally designed to allow us to affect our behaviors, personality and patterns. Ultimately giving d5us the power to lead either unhappy or unfulfilled lives or to live inspired, happy full lives. The choice is ours.

“The systematic training of the mind- the cultivation of happiness, the genuine inner transformation by deliberately selecting and focusing on positive mental states and challenging negative mental states – is possible because of the very structure and function of the brain. We are born with brains that are genetically hardwired with certain instinctual behavior patterns; we are predisposed mentally, emotionally, and physically to respond to our environment in ways that enable us to survive. 

These basic sets of instructions are encoded in countless innate nerve cell activation patterns, specific combinations of brain cells fire in response to a given event experience or d1thought. But the wiring in our brains is not static, not irrevocably fixed. Our brains are also adaptable. Neuroscientists have documented the fact that the brain can design new patterns, new combinations of nerve cells and neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells) in response to new input. In fact, our brains are malleable, ever changing, reconfiguring their wiring according to new thoughts and experiences. And as a result of learning the function of individual neurons themselves change, allowing electrical signals to travel along them more readily. Scientists call the brain’s inherent capacity to change “plasticity.”

Simply put we may not be able to alter existing neuropath ways, but we can develop new patterns or neuropath ways that are stronger and therefore become the dominant pattern.

“This is known as the practice of “Dharma.” This is the constant battle within of replacing previous negative conditioning or habituation with new positive conditioning.”

No matter what activity or practice we are perusing there is not anything that isn’t made easier through constant familiarity and training. Through training, we can change; we can transform ourselves.”

So I guess the saying practice makes perfect is true? So, what do you practice to cultivate happiness?d4

OK you’re not going to like this because you have heard it all before but here it goes!!

1. “Make a Conscious Choice To Be Happy”

Most things in life require that we make a conscious, deliberate choice to pursue them or they remain only an allusive dream just outside of our reach. Acknowledge you are not happy with your current self, be honest with yourself and others. Commit from this day forward to live a happy, fulfilled life.

2. “Cultivate a Sense of Connection With Yourself and Others”d2

Foster friendships; we are here to experience all the joy the world has to offer and, without other people to share the experience with, we would not have the fulfillment and joy that we all desire. Let people in to your core to share in your vulnerability and your growth.

3. Focus on Forgiveness of Yourself and Others”

Forgiveness is not always easy but the more we say the words “I am sorry” the easier and more natural they become. It does not take away from who we are as a person, to forgive it is what makes us complete.

4. “Cultivate Gratitude”

Be grateful for every moment you have: the good, the bad and the boring. Each moment is precious and provides us with a path to wholeness. Embrace each experience and say thanks at the end of each day for all that you have, all that you experienced and all the opportunities you will create.

English: Peace, love and happyness award Franç...

English: Peace, love and happyness award Français : Récompense pour la Paix, l’Amour et la Joie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. “Counteract Negative Thoughts and Feelings”

This requires a conscious effort on your part to acknowledge negative thoughts and to replace them with positive feelings. To build positive neuropath ways that will dominate your thinking requires constant practice. If you have a tendency to be negative, it simply means you have focused on negative feelings or have practiced being negative more than positive. It is that simple! Practice positive feelings!

6. “Shift your Focus”

Focus only on YOU. Accept the fact that you cannot change another human being. And in fact, that is not your job or your place. You can only change yourself. Shift your focus to what it is you are doing and feeling. You may be surprised that you are in fact doing some of the same things that you are criticizing others for doing.

7. “Engage in Meaningful Activities”

If your life is filled with mundane, unsatisfying activities, attaining happiness will be an uphill battle. Are you living an inspired life? Are you engaging in activities that you desire, that make you happy? Engaging in activities that have meaning to your true, authentic self brings you tremendous joy. Find out what is meaningful to you and pursue those activities.

8. “Cultivate physical, Mental and Spiritual Health”d3

We are physical beings living in a physical world. We need to tend to our bodies, our minds as well as our spirits. Eating right, exercising and practicing our spiritual beliefs on a daily basis with help cultivate the seeds of happiness.

9. “Pursue Pleasure”

Do things that bring you total JOY. Things that inspire you, please you, and provide you with a boundless sense of love and joy. We all know that feeling, we just need to make it a

Happiness

Happiness (Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

priority to pursue pleasure!

7 Steps to Happiness
We are human and we require structure and repetition to alter our behaviors and ultimately alter our lives. Having steps to support your goals is essential.

1. Meditation or Prayer

Find a meditation that works for you and practice it everyday! It is that simple. Give yourself the time to release everything, to be in the moment change your life.

2. Movement

No matter what your situation or condition you must move your body! We are human and our bodies are required to be fluid to function properly. This functioning is not limited to the physical self it also influences your mental health and spiritual health. Remember we are a whole being.

3. Sleep

Proper sleep is essential for our physical and mental well-being. It is our time to regenerate and recover from the experiences of the day. Without the proper sleep your body will be running on a constant deficit and will always be compromised. Thus making it all that more difficult to obtain happiness and wellbeing.

4. Proper Nutrition

As with exercise, we must acknowledge we are human beings with basic needs to function properly. Eating right will provide you with the optimum resources necessary to attain your physical, mental and spiritual goals.

5. Breathing

Simple enough but most of us do not breathe deeply enough to engage our bodies and provide our cells with all the necessary nutrients to function properly. Practice deep breathing throughout the day whenever you remember.

6. Humor

Humor ultimately is the best medicine. From a physical perspective it releases endorphins in our body, which makes us feel better, and it releases pent up emotions that if not released become toxic to our body. The more we can laugh at ourselves the healthier and happier we will be.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice

The excerpts above are from one of my favorite books The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler MD.

Funny enough, it really doesn’t matter what your situation is, the rules are the same read Tools for Dealing with a Chronic Illness to learn more about the tools and techniques you can use to live a happy and fulfilled life.

Take the conscious road to authentic power!!!

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Osteoporosis: The silent disease and natural ways of possible prevention

Osteoporosis

It is Often referred to as the “silent disease,” osteoporosis usually progresses without obvious signs or symptoms until the first fracture occurs. Osteoporosis frequently strikes women after their  enopause phase, mainly because of the decline in levels of the hormone estrogen which is important for the  calcification of bones. When estrogen levels drop, the ability to absorb and assimilate dietary calcium is often reduced. It can also occur in men as a result of delayed puberty, inadequate calcium intake,  smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or medications, such as glucocorticoids in addition to the declined levels of estrogen which come with the progress of age.

There are hormones such as estrogen , parathyroid and vitamin D which are all very essential for bone formation and calcification and hence all three should be in balance. There are also genetic factors that seem to have an effect on the bones density, which mainly effect vitamin D, or genetic mutation that controls production of collagen matrix which is essential for bones formation. The normal process of bone formation and bone destruction takes place normally within the human body. Until a healthy person is around 40, the process of breaking down and building up bones is in balance. Afterwards and as the age progresses one needs to be more careful. One of the main factors affecting the levels of bone formation is the high level of estrogen we have within our bodies. For example, during the women’s menopause phase, the estrogen levels drop down significantly; increasing the risk of osteoporosis and the susceptibility for bone fracture as well.Therefore, Women unfortunately are more likely to suffer an earlier osteoporosis compared to men as men’s estrogen levels drop gradually as they get older whereas women’s drop suddenly with menopause.

Balanced state Progress of age
In the US, some 40% of women and 13% of men may sustain a fracture after age 50. Calcium, especially from milk products, has been universally recommended as the one main element needed to reduce the risk of fractures. However, late studies have suggested that this may be a wrong approach as there are more fractures in regions that consume milk

English: Hajdu-Cheney Syndrome : acro-osteolys...

English: Hajdu-Cheney Syndrome : acro-osteolysis of all distal phalanges, platybasia, thickened occipital bone, open sutures, and wormian bones. This picture was used in the following article: “Truncating mutations in the last exon of NOTCH2 cause a rare skeletal disorder with osteoporosis.” Isidor B. & al. Nat Genet. 2011 Mar 6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21378989 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

products (US, Great Britain, Canada, Northern Europe), than in those that don’t (traditional Africa, China). There was a study conducted at Harvest on 78,000 nurses who have been drinking milk regularly ( like twice a day) for the past 12 years and these people had a much higher risk of hip fracture than those who drink a glass of milk a week or less.

The explanation for this lies in understanding more the structure and function of bones. At this time, most people, including health professionals, think bone=calcium. But things are a bit more tricky here.

Physiologically, bones are composed of calcium phosphate salts (65%) for the purpose of hardness, and a collagen matrix (35%), for the purpose of flexibility. If we place a bone in an acid bath and all the calcium is removed from it, leaving just the collagen matrix, when exposed to stress it will bend, however it will not break. On the other hand, if the collagen matrix is removed and all that remains are the calcium salts, when exposed to stress it will break.

In other simple words: a bone with zero calcium will bend, not break, whereas a high calcium/low collagen matrix bone would break easily. This is why excess calcium can indeed increase the risk of fracture because that increase does not mean that the collagen matrix is also increased; which is more vital for healthy formation of bones.

Milk contains very high levels of phosphate that it actually leaches calcium out of the bones. In addition to that milk had 8 times the amount of calcium compared to magnesium which is not a balanced ratio. High calcium levels with not enough magnesium levels will prevent the absorption of magnesium which is vital for moving calcium into the bones.

A 2:1 ratio or better calcium than magnesium is more recommended. However, the ratio in milk would cause a magnesium deficiency in the body. When the ratio is not balanced, calcium will be pulled from the bones and this calcium is often deposited in the soft tissues; where it may later cause arthritis.

We often check for calcium levels during menopause through our regular blood tests. Usually the doctor prescribes high doses of calcium during that phase either based on the blood test findings or as a preventive way of future calcium declines. However, the calcium levels which are derived through the blood tests give us an idea about the calcium levels present in the blood which are different than the ones present in the bones. In other words, a person may have normal levels of blood calcium but that does not deny the fact that the calcium

In addition to the usual centers of ossificati...

In addition to the usual centers of ossification of the cranium, others may occur, giving rise to irregular isolated bones termed sutural or Wormian bones. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

levels of his bones have gone down due to declined levels of estrogen,for instance.

In a case as such, giving calcium tablets is not as accurate as the majority thought it would be; due to the fact that too much calcium may not be calcified by the bones which may lead to osteomalacia.

Primary and secondary osteoporosis

Osteoporosis can be further characterized as either primary or secondary. Primary osteoporosis can occur in both genders at all ages but often follows menopause in women and occurs later in life in men. It is associated with fractures that occur when the vertebrae compresses together causing a collapse of the spine, along with fractures of the hip, wrist , forearm caused by minor accidents or falls. A further type of primary osteoporosis affects both men and women and is mainly associated with leg and spinal fractures. The determining factor for the existence of osteoporosis both types is the amount of calcium left in the skeleton and whether it places a person at risk for fracture or not.

In contrast, secondary osteoporosis is a result of medications, other conditions, or diseases. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, certain people are more likely to
develop osteoporosis than others. Known risk factors are listed below:

  • Gender Women – have less bone tissue and lose bone more rapidly than men because of the changes involved in menopause.
  • Age – One in two women and one in four men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in her/his remaining lifetime.
  • Race  – Osteoporosis poses a greater threat to Caucasian and Asian women, although African American and Hispanic women are also at risk.
  • Body type – Women who are small-boned or thin are more susceptible to osteoporosis.
  • Genetics – If a parent or sibling had osteoporosis, your likelihood for developing the disease is increased.
  • Lifestyle – Low calcium intake (even as a child) and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to the development of osteoporosis.

    Fußskelett

    Fußskelett (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Smoking, caffeine and alcohol abuse.
  • Vitamin D deficiency.

Soft drinks should be avoided due to their phosphorus content. Phosphorus is very acidic; it picks up calcium and takes it out of the body which in turn lowers the blood calcium levels. For the body to compensate and balance out the calcium levels, it starts pulling calcium out of the bones which leads to osteoporosis.

  • Medication – some drugs, especially steroids and those used for rheumatoid arthritis and gastrointestinal problems, chemotherapy and anti convulsions, have side effects which can cause bone damage.
  • Prior fracture – Breaking a bone in adulthood, especially after minor trauma.
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea).

Conclusion and natural ways of possible prevention:
One of the best ways to cope with menopause and osteopania/ osteoporosis is to stimulate the estrogen within the body via natural ways, (herbs, food and exercise) and that in turn will maintain the balance between the bone destruction & bone formation. The following foods are best avoided because they cause an acid condition that leaches minerals out of the bones:
refined sugars, honey, and white flour, including pasta, white bread, muffins, and of course baked flour desserts.

Herbs which contain a good source of estrogen:
Wild yam, red clover, isoflavones, Agnus castus, black cohosh, dandelion ( for liver detoxifying to help achieving a balance within the body), angelica sinensis which is good for problems occurring due to estrogen deficiency, alfalfa, evening primrose.

Foods and herbs that are good sources of calcium:

Broccoli, green leafy vegetables, nuts, red clover, raspberry, oat straw, dandelion, fortified tofu, almonds, canned salmon, shrimps.

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