Saturday, March 15, 2014

10 Fast-Food Sandwiches to Skip

Think you’re making a healthy choice by ordering a turkey sub for lunch? The truth about its fat and calories may surprise you.

Interview With the President

President Obama answers your health care reform questions about the rising costs of employer plans, why some plans have high deductibles, the Medicaid expansion, and more.

Daily Inspirational Message for March 15, 2014

“Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things. It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out – it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”
- Robert Service

There is great wisdom in being able to shrug off the small stuff. I used to get upset when a friend would cancel her plans with me. I felt like she wasn’t respecting my time or appreciating my friendship. I’ve gotten better at accepting that life happens, and this has shifted my whole perspective. When someone cancels on me at the last minute, I now consider it “found time,” time that I am free to spend however I choose. Given my hectic schedule, it’s a bonus! So much of what we get upset about is not worth the price of our happiness.

Imagine the Best

The life you live is lived first in your imagination. Every step you take is imagined before it is actually taken.

The powerful thing is, you can imagine absolutely anything. So remember to use that power wisely.

There are consequences to whatever you imagine. Make those consequences good ones by filling your imagination with positive, loving and life-affirming visions.

There is no restriction on what you can imagine. So choose to imagine the very best for your life, your world, and all the other people in it.

Your imagination drives your actions in ways you never even realize. The seeds you plant in your imagination will spring to life in the day-to-day reality of your experience.

Just imagine how good and wonderful and fulfilled your life can be. Imagine, and you are well on your way to making it happen.

— Ralph Marston

The Ancient Heart of Forgiveness

"On the train from Washington to Philadelphia, while on my way to my father's memorial funeral service, I sat down next to an interesting fellow who worked with young boys, particularly those in jail and prison, as part of an inner-city project in Washington, DC. He told me this story..." So begins this piece by Jack Kornfield a renowned psychologist and teacher of Buddhist psychology, in which he shares a touching story of forgiveness and explains how we can all tap into this great human capacity.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Daily Inspirational Message for March 14, 2014

“In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior.”
- Sir Francis Bacon

When someone attacks us or makes us really angry, we naturally seek release for all the emotions it stirs up within us, and we presume that we’ll feel better once we are able to express our own feelings in response. If someone calls us a bad name, for example, it’s ironic how we tend to defend ourselves in a way that only confirms that person’s opinion. How much more gratifying to immediately prove our accusers wrong by rising above it and blessing the whole situation. Not only does it keep our inner worlds from the stain of negative emotion, it also keeps our characters and reputations from the stain of regrettable words and actions.

Be the Happiness

Don’t waste your time seeking to find happiness. Instead, be the happiness.

Happiness does not come from anything outside of you. Happiness is the way you choose to be.

Yes, you can express your happiness in many wonderful ways that go far beyond you. The consequences of your inner happiness bring beauty and great value to your outer world.

Yet the happiness itself always comes from within. And you can always choose it, no matter what other things may be going on.

Instead of limiting your happiness to just certain situations, let it come alive in any situation. Instead of waiting and hoping for someone or something to bring you happiness, bring it on yourself.

Be the happiness you wish to experience. Let it flow freely from your feelings, your thoughts and your actions today, and always.

— Ralph Marston

The History of Simple Living

When Pope Francis took office, he shocked the world by abandoning the luxuries of office for a simple guesthouse out back. His goal was to experiment with a new living arrangement, one that allowed him to live amongst the community he was serving. And as the recession forces more and more families to 'tighten their belts', it seems that the art of simple living is making quite a comeback. In his new book, "How Should We Live?: Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life" author Roman Krznaric shares his ideas on how we might increase our overall happiness by embracing a much simpler life.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Clutter vs. Hoarding: What's the Difference?

When is a mess more than just a mess? You may worry that your paper-piled desk or clothes-strewn rooms mean you're a hoarder bound for a TV reality show. But most people, even sloppy ones, fall somewhere closer to normal on the clutter scale. 

What's Hoarding?

Someone who hoards collects huge amounts of things, often items of little value like ketchup packets or papers. "They don't have one can opener, they have 40," says Regina Lark, PhD, of the National Association of Professional Organizers. She specializes in helping hoarders.

A hoarder finds it painful to let go of things, so she never does. Stuff piles up in ways that are unsafe or affect the person’s dealings with others.

"Their shower stalls have become storage units and you can't walk up the stairs." Falls and fires are two big dangers.

Marriages often strain when one spouse can't resist hauling more seemingly useless items into a house that’s already bursting.

In 2013, hoarding disorder was named a distinct mental illness. Only 2% to 5% of people have this diagnosis. Some researchers think that for some people, severe hoarding may be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  Other studies suggest hoarding may sometimes be related to ADHD or dementia

What's Clutter?

Many people live with a fair amount of mess, but the home is safe to move around in; they can straighten up enough to feel at ease having guests. Rooms are used the way they're meant to (no paper piles in the bathtub).

Some people collect lots of things, but unlike a hoarder's stuff, these items have value or personal meaning.  Displays of holiday d├ęcor or model trains bring pleasure and pride, not the shame or sadness that often comes with hoarding.

Where hoarding is a mental health concern, "clutter is largely in the eyes of the beholder," says Margit Novack, president of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. "Different people are comfortable with different degrees of clutter."

People with problem-level clutter, though, may have trouble keeping their home tidy, even after they get help with cleaning or organizing. The mess returns.

Signs of Trouble

A red flag is when clutter affects your daily life. Ask yourself questions like these:

·        Do you buy many of the same things over time, because you can't find what you already have?

·        Does your stuff prevent you from having people over or having enough money?

·        Are you late paying bills because you can’t find your bills?

·        Do you have trouble getting dinner ready on time?

·        Does someone complain about your stuff? Does it cause family fights?

·        Are there narrow "goat trails" in your house to walk through between tall mounds of stuff?

·        Do you ever feel "I'm out of control" or feel bad looking at your piles of clutter?

"Yes" answers mean your clutter might be a problem for you or others.

How to Keep Clutter in Check

·        Watch what you do: When you bring in mail, where does it go? When you see exactly how your clutter snowballs, you can get a better idea of how to stop it, Lark says. Could you stop at a recycle bin on your way from the mailbox to get rid of junk mail?

·        Name the problem. People often tell Lark, "I cleaned my desk, but it all came back." This language distances you from the real issue of what's going on in that space. "It" isn't the problem -- your habits are.

·        Set concrete limits. Saying "I'll buy less" is too vague. Better to say, "I'll limit my mess to these two rooms," Novack says.

·        Accept neatness as a lifelong issue for you.  "It's a constant struggle, like losing 50 pounds and needing help to maintain it," Novack says. "You might gain 5 back and have to work hard not to gain 10 or 15."

·        Try formal help. Self-help groups like Clutterers Anonymous and Messies Anonymous give ongoing support. A pro organizer can help you get on top of things and learn ways to improve. Also useful are cognitive behavioral therapy and treatment of underlying issues, such as ADHD or depression.

By Paula Spencer Scott
WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD

Daily Inspirational Message for March 13, 2014

“You can understand and relate to most people better if you look at them – no matter how old or impressive they may be – as if they are children. For most of us never really grow up or mature all that much – we simply grow taller. Oh, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales.”
- Leo Rosten

When you find it hard to forgive, remember that deep down, everyone is a child. We all have big dreams and fears buried beneath our veneers of self-confidence and competency. We all wonder sometimes if we’re really lovable, if we’re really up to the challenge of making it in the world. We all long for a mother to make everything better, to find the infallible parents we lost in adolescence, the ones who knew all the answers and could handle anything that came up. When we fail to live by our own wisdom, when we react emotionally to situations, we are living from our inner children. It only makes sense then, that when others fail to act wisely, we view them as feeling as lost or helpless as a child.

Living By Intention

Live by intention, not by reaction. Consciously choose your actions and they will be far more rewarding.

Instead of being a slave to the negativity of others, be the master of your own positive and purposeful life. Decide precisely how you wish to live, and then focus your energy on following that course.

Keep in mind that excuses make you a victim, so let go of any urge to create those excuses. Choosing to unconditionally take responsibility for your life is what will make life rich and full.

Living intentionally and responsibly is difficult, inconvenient and won’t always make you the most popular person around. Ultimately, though, it is always the choice that creates the true, meaningful value you seek.

Live fully in each moment, but don’t live just for the moment. Live so that your very best possibilities continue to unfold as time goes on.

You know that there is great, unique value and goodness within you. Live each day with purposeful intention, and joyfully give that value and goodness to all of life.

— Ralph Marston

The Nature of the Self: How We Know Who We Are

Our emotions, beliefs, and ideals are constantly changing, and most cells in our bodies are completely renewed every seven years. How, then, do we know who "we" are? Over the past ten years, the emerging field of experimental philosophy has examined this paradox, along with its many related questions about morality, happiness, love, and how to live. In this fascinating video, Yale University professor and experimental philosopher Joshua Knobe "takes us through some mind-bending, soul-deconstructing thought experiments that push our notions of the self to the limit and past it, into a new understanding of our basic existential anchor."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Daily Inspirational Message for March 12, 2014

“This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed.”
- D. H. Lawrence

It is easy to become “godless” in today’s world. It used to be that at least one day a week was reserved for worship. As religion is now widely derided (and, unfortunately, usually with good reason), instead of spending Sundays resting from work and honoring the Divine forces behind all the goodness in our lives, we go grocery shopping and catch up on errands or engage in a whole host of personal “down time” activities. When DO we contemplate God? When do we draw our souls into the game of life, and honor those higher truths that we deeply believe in, despite the endless tasks and distractions of the mundane world?


Life is amazing, so be amazed. Instead of acting like you’ve seen it all before, live as though you’re seeing it all for the first time.

You are in fact experiencing this bright new moment for the very first time. So look carefully, lovingly, and with the highest of expectations.

Take an interest in what you’re doing, in where you are, and in every part of life you touch. There is new treasure to be discovered everywhere, so find as much as you can.

Let yourself be curious about whatever crosses your path. Let yourself be fascinated by what you see and what you learn.

There is never any reason to be bored. Embrace a vision of life that is endlessly fascinating and truly amazing.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, be amazed. And your life, along with your whole world, will indeed be amazing.

— Ralph Marston

Life Lessons From An Ice-Cream Excursion

Join writer John Landretti on a ride with his two little boys as they make their weekly bicycle trek through a series of natural wonders for some ice cream. And in line with the old saying, he discovers it is the journey - and not the destination - that brings out the wonders of life and awakens insight.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to Overcome Obstacles in Your Life: Resilience

Some people seem to be born with the ability to overcome setbacks with relative ease. It’s a trait that experts call resilience.
People with resilience have a greater sense of control over their lives, says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD. That makes them more willing to take risks.

Daily Inspirational Message for March 11, 2014

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
- Ovid

When we feel like we have more to do than we can ever get done, it’s tempting to just push ourselves harder. But often, we can achieve faster and better results by honoring our needs and allow ourselves to rest. If you’re feeling weary or burned out, take a break and return to your work when you’re refreshed. You may be pleasantly surprised by how creative and productive you can be when you’re feeling your best.

Live Your Life

Actual problems are problem enough. Don’t let yourself be stopped by the mere possibility of problems.
Go ahead and live your life in the way you choose. Though the challenges and setbacks will come along, you have what it takes to deal with them as they appear.
Instead of being intimidated by what might go wrong, let yourself be inspired by all that can go right. Make the choice to live the best life you can imagine, and make the commitment to put forth whatever effort is required for that.
Let the resistance you encounter serve as confirmation that you’re moving forward. Let the problems keep you motivated to fulfill your most treasured dreams.
Live your life, today, right now, with the passion, attention and love it deserves. Embrace the abundance and add your own special meaning to it all.
Remind yourself of what a truly great opportunity you have with the dawning of every single day. You have the miraculous gift of life, with its limitless possibilities, so live it with purpose, courage, richness and joy.

— Ralph Marston

Green Bridge Growers: Finding Hope in the Ground

"Food is so much a part of the fabric of our lives, reflecting our health, lifestyle, time, and values." But with so much of the food in our markets and on our plates coming from afar, what does our food have to say about us? How can our food be a reflection of our values, and perhaps play a role in helping address other problems found in our society? Green Bridge Growers aims to answer this question, putting communities back in touch with their food, and helping to create jobs for people with autism, who currently face unemployment numbers as high as 90%.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dreams of Animals Who have Died

One of the most prevalent golden bridges that people experience is to dream of an animal who has died. The animal appears in 3-D, living color, and in great detail. Invariably the person says the dream is as real as anything that happens to him or her in daily life.

Communicating with Animals After their Death

Marta Williams offers an exercise for talking with a deceased pet and connecting with its spirit. She advises asking questions and listening to and trusting in the answers you receive. You might ask what it is like where the animal resides now and whether or not the spirit intends to come back one day in another body.

Afterlife Visitations by Animals

We have received hundred of letters from people whose animal companions made their presence known in an unmistakable way after death. Following are many of the most frequently reported ways in which animals remind people that only the physical body leaves at death, and that the spirit and love live on.

Daily Inspirational Message for March 10, 2014

“In this state you remain calm and composed during activity. You realize that you are moved by the deeper real Self within and are unaffected by what you do or say or think. You have no worries, anxieties or cares, for you realize that there is nothing that belongs to you as ego, and that everything is being done by something else with which you are in conscious union.”
- Ramana Maharshi

This unbreakable serenity is the pay-off for practicing meditation. Few receive it, for it is not easy to maintain any regular discipline, much less to simply sit when the world is constantly pulling at us to do something. It’s such a simple answer that most people fail to understand or appreciate it. If you’re tired of suffering, give yourself a month of daily meditation, and if it works for you, make it an inseparable part of who you are and how you live.

Make Enjoyment Your Choice

When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re highly effective at it. So whatever you may be doing, make the choice to find something enjoyable about it.

You don’t have to wait for a special day or event to start enjoying life. You can enjoy it now, and any time you choose.

Enjoy the challenges as well as the pleasures. Enjoy times of effort and times of relaxation.

Don’t ever cheat yourself out of the opportunity for enjoyment. Instead of placing a judgment on the situation, give joy to it.

It makes no sense to put limitations on your enjoyment of life. Make enjoyment your choice, and choose it often.

See if you can enjoy where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re with, and who you are. The more you enjoy it, the better life is.

— Ralph Marston

The 3-Year-Old Who Decided To Donate Her Hair

Emily James is a typical three-year-old princess. She loves nail polish, frilly dresses, and her Rapunzel doll, Dolly. When her hair got too long for a busy little girl, her parents suggested that she cut her hair off and donate it for wigs for cancer patients. Emily was excited to "share her hair"... on the condition that Uncle "Maffew" cut Dolly's hair too. "I don't want any kids to be sad that they have no hair," she says endearingly, "just cut some off and give it to a kid." This short video captures an adorable little girl's generous spirit.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Daily Inspirational Message for March 9, 2014

“Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absent-minded.
Someone sober will worry about events going badly.
Let the lover be.”
- Rumi

These days, there seems to be bad news all around us. We have only to turn on the television to see the chaos going on in the world. While I can carry a deep prayer for the peace and well-being of all humanity, I don’t have to immerse myself in struggles far removed from me. There is nothing wrong with being a lover, with not worrying over the endless calamities you have no control over. While much in life is definitely sad, you don’t have to try to pay for it by being sad too. You can make art, make love, and make yourself happy, without feeling guilty for others’ choices and life’s never-ending disasters. When presented with an opportunity to do some good in the world, do it. When there’s nothing you can do, let yourself be a lover. It’s not irresponsible – it’s a sane response to a world gone mad.

How To Increase Your Compassion Bandwidth

Compassion moves us to care for the suffering of others and enables us to live cooperatively with each other. Yet, in this world of information overload and constant connection, we risk being overwhelmed by our emotional response to the suffering of others. Fearing exhaustion, we turn off our compassion. However, although many of us assume that we only have so much compassion to spare, the developing research on compassion says that we can cultivate and sustain our compassion to build our capacity to alleviate suffering. Read on to learn more.