Saturday, February 10, 2018

Inspirational Quote – February 10, 2018

“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!”

My wonderful Scottish Grannie had a favorite saying, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get!” It’s my mantra for life. I am such a great believer in always asking for what you want, because if you never ask, how will you know if you would have got it? If you know what I mean? Usually, when we put our request “out there” we consign it to the ether and, if nothing happens in the following five minutes, (for us impatient souls), we tend to push it to the back of our minds as day to day matters take over. I believe that every time we remember our wish it gives it a little push nearer to becoming reality.

The Healing Place

Jay Davidson is no stranger to the significant, often life-shattering consequences of alcoholism. That's why he founded The Healing Place, a residential facility for alcohol and substance abuse recovery in Louisville, Kentucky. Modeled after the 12-Step Program, the shelter provides peer-to-peer support to participants, who live together for 9 months, go to AA meetings together, and support one another in the journey toward recovery. The program has seen 2,300 graduates in the 17 years since its inception, and is renowned worldwide for its astounding recovery rate that's five times the national average. "The future is to give away what was so freely given to me, and that's recovery," says Davidson.

Friday, February 9, 2018

How to Cut Your Odds of a Stroke

Brain X-ray

What Is a Stroke?

It happens when blood stops flowing to part of your brain. The cells begin to die, and you may have damage to areas that control muscles, memory, and speech.
Man serving salad

Watch Your Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure and you don't manage it well, your chances of getting a stroke go up. Ideally, your blood pressure should be under 120 over 80. If yours is too high, talk to your doctor about ways to change your diet and get more exercise. If that's not enough to control it, he may prescribe medication to help.
Group fitness

Break a Sweat

Exercise helps you get to or stay at a healthy weight and keep your blood pressure where it should be -- two things that can lower your odds of having a stroke. You'll need to work out hard enough to break a sweat 5 days a week for about 30 minutes. Talk to your doctor first if you're not in great health or haven't been that active in a while.
Couple cycling

Keep Stress in Check

Stress can make it more likely you'll get a stroke, maybe because it causes inflammation in parts of your body. If you're stressed at work, try some simple things to help dial it back. Get up and move around often, breathe deeply, and focus on one task at a time. Make your work area a calm space with plants and soft colors. And be sure to spend a healthy amount of time away from the office.
weight checkup

Lose Weight

Obesity and the health issues it can cause -- diabetes and high blood pressure -- boost your chances of stroke. You can lower the odds if you lose as few as 10 pounds. Try to keep your calorie count under 2,000 a day, and make exercise a regular thing.
Glasses of whiskey

Have a (Single) Drink

Your risk of stroke may go down if you have one drink a day. But be careful: More than two, and it quickly shoots up. Heavy drinking can also lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes -- all things that raise your odds of having a stroke.
Doctor visit

Get Your Cholesterol Checked

High levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol and low levels of HDL "good" cholesterol can raise your chances of having plaque buildup in your arteries, which limits blood flow and can lead to a stroke. Cutting down on saturated and trans fats can help lower your LDL, and exercise can boost your HDL. If those don't do the trick, your doctor may prescribe medication to help with your levels.

Pay Attention to Your Heartbeat

Atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular heart rhythm, makes you five times more likely to have a stroke. If you notice a racing or irregular heartbeat, see your doctor to find out what's causing it. If it's AFib, she might be able to treat you with medicine that lowers your heart rate and cuts the odds you'll get blood clots. In some cases she may try to reset your heart's rhythm with medication or a brief electrical shock.

Manage Your Diabetes

This condition affects how your body uses glucose, an important source of energy for your brain and the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It can raise your odds of having a stroke, so it's important to watch your blood sugar carefully and follow your doctor's instructions.
steaming veggies

Fiber Up

The magic number here is 7: For every 7 grams of fiber you add to your daily diet, your stroke risk goes down by 7%. You should get about 25 grams a day: six to eight servings of whole grains, or eight to 10 servings of vegetables.
Dark chocolate

Eat (a Little) Dark Chocolate

Flavonoids are plant-based chemicals in cocoa that have all kinds of health benefits. For example, they can help with inflammation, and that can relieve pressure on your heart. Studies show a little dark chocolate a day helps prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with a higher chance of having heart disease. Just don't overdo it because chocolate has sugar and saturated fat.
Woman smoking

Don’t Smoke

Smoking makes your blood more likely to clot, thickens and narrows your blood vessels, and leads to the buildup of plaque -- all of which make you more likely to have a stroke.
Man serving salad

Choose the Right Foods

A balanced diet of fruits, veggies, fish, lean meats, and whole grains can help lower your cholesterol. That means plaque is less likely to build up in your arteries and form clots. It also can help protect you from other conditions that raise your odds of having a stroke, like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Prescription drugs

Take Your Meds

This sounds like an easy one, but a lot of people have a hard time with it. Take your medicine for blood pressure, diabetes, and heart health on time and as prescribed. If you're concerned about side effects, talk to your doctor before skipping your medications or taking less than you're supposed to.

7 Juicy Reasons to Eat Tomatoes

tomatoes ripening on the vine

What’s So Great About Them?

Tomatoes are loaded with a substance called lycopene. It gives them their bright red color and helps protect them from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. In much the same way, it can help protect your cells from damage. Tomatoes also have potassium, vitamins B and E, and other nutrients.
immune system concept

Immune System

Lycopene is an antioxidant -- it fights molecules called free radicals that can damage your cells and affect your immune system. Because of that, foods high in lycopene, like tomatoes, may make you less likely to have lung, stomach, or prostate cancer. Some research shows they might help prevent the disease in the pancreas, colon, throat, mouth, breast, and cervix as well.
checking blood pressure


Lycopene also may help lower your levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, as well as your blood pressure. And that may lower your chances of heart disease. Other nutrients in tomatoes, like vitamins B and E and antioxidants called flavonoids, may boost your heart health, too.
human eye close up


Tomatoes have substances called lutein and zeaxanthin that may help protect your eyes from the blue light made by digital devices like smartphones and computers. They also may help keep your eyes from feeling tired and ease headaches from eyestrain. And some research shows they may even make you less likely to have a more serious form of the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.: age-related macular degeneration.
lungs anatomy illustration


Some studies show that tomatoes may be helpful for people who have asthma and may help prevent emphysema, a condition that slowly damages the air sacs in your lungs. That may be because lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, among other antioxidants, fight the harmful substances in tobacco smoke, which is the leading cause of emphysema. Scientists are trying to learn more about those effects.
blood vessel close up

Blood Vessels

Getting more tomatoes into your diet may make you less likely to have a stroke, which is when blood flow gets cut off to a part of your brain. Studies suggest that they may ease inflammation, boost your immune system, lower your cholesterol levels, and keep your blood from clotting. All those things may help prevent strokes.
mans smile close up

Oral Health

Studies have shown that lycopene may help with the gum diseases gingivitis and periodontitis in the same way it may help prevent cancer -- by fighting free radicals. But eating lots of raw tomatoes can damage the enamel on your teeth -- thanks to the high amount of acid -- and brushing soon afterward can make that worse. It’s a good idea to wait at least 30 minutes before you brush.
tomato paste close up


You know hats and sunscreen can help shield you from the sun. Well, the lycopene in tomatoes may do something for that, too, possibly in the same way it protects tomatoes. But you don’t put it on your skin -- it works on your cells from the inside.
fresh tomatoes canned tomatoes diptych

Fresh vs. Canned

Both can be good for you, but in different ways. Nutrients like lycopene may be easier for your body to take in and use from canned tomato products compared with fresh tomatoes. But the heat that’s used to process them can get rid of some vitamin C and other nutrients.
caprese salad

Serving Suggestion: Caprese Salad

Fresh summer tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella cheese, olive oil, and basil -- it’s beautiful and delicious. The combo also works from a health perspective: Your body needs the fat in ingredients like cheese and olive oil to take in and use certain nutrients, including lycopene.
homemade marinara sauce

Serving Suggestion: Homemade Marinara

This is a great way to get the most out of the tomato’s most famous nutrient: lycopene. The heat used to cook the tomatoes can make the nutrient easier for your body to use. And you can add a touch of olive oil to help you absorb it.
salsa and chips

Serving Suggestion: Salsa

Use this in place of tomato-based sauces like ketchup and barbecue sauce, which can be loaded with sugar, salt, and preservatives. Make your own so you know exactly what’s going into it, or check the labels and look for a healthy version.
roasted tomatoes

Serving Suggestion: Roasted Tomatoes

If you’ve never roasted them over the grill, you’re missing out on a treat. Their intense smoky flavor makes for a nice side dish with whatever you’re serving. If it’s too cold to get out to the grill, just broil them in the oven and drizzle on a little olive oil.

Six Ways to Help Your Child Deal with Social Exclusion

Though parents may feel powerless when a child is excluded, there is much they can do to help with this painful experience.

The mom of a third-grade girl sits in my office, her face buried in her hands. Through muffled sobs, she tells me that she’s at a loss. She’s tried everything to help her daughter repair her friendships at school—arranging coffee dates with the families of the other girls, meeting with the teacher and school director, and even trying to organize a group sleepover to get the girls together—but nothing has made a difference. Her daughter is on the outs with a peer group she formed in preschool, and this mom feels powerless to help.
Her daughter is the victim of what’s called relational aggression. For reasons she might never understand, her three close friends have built a new alliance and excluded her. They taunt her, spread rumors about her, and leave her out of their activities, encouraging others to do the same. They seem to have no remorse, while she experiences anxiety, nightmares, and academic difficulties.
Relational aggression can occur in person or online and can include gossiping, spreading rumors, public humiliation, alliance building, and social exclusion. Unlike physical bullying or verbal aggression, relational aggression can be difficult to spot. Recess, passing periods, lunch, and the walk to and from school are hotspots for relational aggression, but the damage can also be done outside of school, often under the radar of adults.
Unfortunately, this girl—and her mother—are not alone. According to statistics compiled by The Ophelia Project, a national nonprofit with expertise in relational aggression, 48 percent of students in grades 5-12 are regularly involved in or witness relational aggression, and students between the ages of 11 and 15 report being exposed to 33 acts of relational aggression during a typical week. The proportion of youth who experience cyberbullying is estimated to be as high as 40 percent or more.
As I detail in my book No More Mean Girls, being the victim of relational aggression can come with some long-term consequences. In fact, relational aggression is said to be as painful as physical blows, and its negative effects can last for years to come. Children who experience relational aggression are more likely to be absent from school, perform worse academically, be socially isolated, and exhibit headaches and stomachaches, behavioral problems, eating disorders, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, symptoms of depression and anxiety, loneliness, and low self-esteem. No wonder that mom is concerned!

But there is good news: Parents can help their kids deal with social exclusion by teaching them coping skills and empowering them to seek healthy friendships. While your natural instinct may be to get the school involved, communicate with the parents of other kids, and jump into problem-solving mode, what kids need most is support, empathy, and space from the problem. Try some of these strategies adapted from No More Mean Girls.

Watch for the signs

Given that kids experience feelings of shame and embarrassment when being victimized, they don’t always come forward right away. Many wait until they feel like they’re falling apart before they reach out for a lifeline. To that end, it helps parents to watch out for the red flags that a child is experiencing relational aggression:
  • Anxious or nervous behaviors
  • Frequent physical complaints, such as headaches or stomachaches, particularly before school or social events
  • Talking about sitting alone at lunch or playing alone at recess more often than not
  • Appearing withdrawn or depressed
  • Changing academic performance
  • Acting out in class or at home, or even turning the tables and acting as the bully
  • Talking about having no friends or being “hated”
  • Talking about death or engaging in self-harm (cutting)
  • Sleep disturbance: Difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, frequent nightmares, or excessive sleeping
  • Changing eating habits

Once you see these signs, you will want to check in with your child or the school to see if relational aggression may be causing them.

Use conversation starters

One reason kids hesitate to come forward when dealing with relational aggression is that it’s difficult to discuss. They don’t want their parents to think that they’re incapable of making friends.
Open and honest communication with kids is essential during middle childhood and the tween/teen years. They need to know that parents will listen without judgment and provide unconditional love and support. To get in the habit of deep, distraction-free conversations, create a pack of conversation starters to use when you have downtime together. It helps to start a weekly ritual of quiet conversation and hot chocolate (or some other cozy treat).
Examples of conversation starters might include:
  • Something funny that happened this week was…
  • If I could escape anywhere for just one day, it would be…
  • Something hard that I had to deal with this week was…
  • I wish my friends…
  • Something you don’t know about me is…
  • My favorite way to spend a day off is…
Taking turns pulling conversation starters for each other from an envelope helps you connect in a low-stress environment and helps your child open up about difficult topics.

Make a friendship tree

Kids are usually tasked with making a family tree at some point in school, but making a friendship tree is a great way to help kids realize that they have many different friends in life. Just as family extends beyond the people living in your home, friendships blossom in a variety of contexts.

Start the tree with the friends your child knows the best (even the ones she doesn’t spend much time with), but cue your child to think about friends made in sports, through religious organizations, in extracurricular classes, or even at your local park. In filling the branches with friends from a wide variety of settings, girls learn to focus on the positive relationships in their lives. When kids see that they have more friends than the people sitting at their lunch table, they are empowered to strengthen those other branches and even add new ones by trying new clubs, sports, or activities.

Create a personal billboard

When friends constantly leave a child out, that child internalizes the message that he or she is unlikable or not a good friend. It’s important to help kids tap into their inner strengths and recognize that they are good friends to others.
Give your child a small poster board and ask her to think about her positive qualities. This can include anything from cracking funny jokes to creating cool games to giving great compliments. Next, explain that billboards are used to draw attention to things and showcase the highlights. Have your child put her name in the center of the poster board and ask her to create an eye-popping billboard that includes her positive traits. This is a great way to help kids recognize and focus on their strengths.

Problem-solve together

This essay is adapted from <a href=“”><em>No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls</em></a> (TarcherPerigee, 2018, 336 pages)This essay is adapted from No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls(TarcherPerigee, 2018, 336 pages)
One thing I see over and over again is that parents are determined to “fix” things for their kids. When kids finally find the strength to come forward and share their feelings and experiences, parents whip out their phones and begin texting other parents, emailing the school, and even reaching out on social media to garner support. Kids tend to retreat inward again in response.
A better strategy is to problem-solve with your child. The first step is to really listen to what your child is saying. Ask follow-up questions to make sure you understand. Empathize with your child. Ask your child to help you jot down notes so that you can remember the specifics to share with helpers. Communicate that you understand how painful the situation is and that you are there to help and provide support.
Next, move into problem-solving. It’s important to brainstorm possible solutions together to empower your child to take action. In doing this, you teach your child how to cope with future similar situations. Try to brainstorm four or five possible solutions, and talk about the pros and cons of each. Make an action plan together.

Create a coping kit

Whether your child is left out from one or two social events or experiences social exclusion frequently at school, he or she needs to have coping skills available to deal with the emotional upheaval. I encourage parents to tuck a pack of coping cards into the child’s backpack, as it can be difficult to remember what to do when under stress. Every child is different, so it’s important to create these cards with your child, but you can try a few of these to get started:
  • My touchstone at school is (fill in the blank). I can ask this person for support.
  • Deep breaths help me feel calm. Breathe in (count four), hold (count four), breathe out (count four).
  • Remember this friend (fill in the blank) in another class to hang out with at recess.
  • Tensing and relaxing my muscles helps me release stress. I can start with my hands.
It’s perfectly normal for kids to experience ups and downs with friendships, but a pattern of social exclusion (or other acts of relational aggression) should be addressed with the classroom teacher and the school administration. Take notes when your child shares specific stories and capture screenshots if any of this behavior occurs online. If you do notice symptoms of anxiety or depression that interfere with your child’s daily living (school, after-school activities, sleep, eating), it’s best to seek an assessment from a licensed mental health practitioner.
Parents really are not powerless to help their kids recover from social exclusion, but they do need the right tools. By acknowledging feelings, finding solutions together, and helping children tap into their own resources, parents can support their kids through this agonizing experience and ultimately prepare them to face any future adversity with more confidence.

Inspirational Quote – February 09, 2018

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Attitude is wonderful isn’t it? If we have a good attitude we are positive, ready to enjoy and cope with whatever the day presents us with, the people we encounter, the situations we find ourselves in. Like a cloak of invincibility we wear with confidence. However, a bad attitude on the other hand, tends to repel people, show us in a bad light, and generally work against us in getting what we want. Our attitude is what most people meeting us, perhaps for the first time, notice and react to. Much, much better to have a good attitude than the alternative, don’t you think?

How Our Social Interactions Shape Our Experience of Time

Maria Popova tells us that our experience of time has a central social component -- an internal clock inheres in our capacity for inter-subjectivity, intuitively governing our social interactions and the interpersonal mirroring that undergirds the human capacity for empathy. This social-synchronistic function of time is what New Yorker staff writer Alan Burdick examines in Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation -- a layered, rigorously researched, lyrically narrated inquiry into the most befuddling dimension of existence. Read what Burdick and several philosophers say about time.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

How Money Changes the Way You Think and Feel

Research is uncovering how wealth impacts our sense of morality, our relationships with others, and our mental health.

The term “affluenza”—a portmanteau of affluence and influenza, defined as a “painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste, resulting from the dogged pursuit of more”—is often dismissed as a silly buzzword created to express our cultural disdain for consumerism. Though often used in jest, the term may contain more truth than many of us would like to think.
Whether affluenza is real or imagined, money really does change everything, as the song goes—and those of high social class do tend to see themselves much differently than others. Wealth (and the pursuit of it) has been linked with immoral behavior—and not just in movies like The Wolf of Wall Street.
Psychologists who study the impact of wealth and inequality on human behavior have found that money can powerfully influence our thoughts and actions in ways that we’re often not aware of, no matter our economic circumstances. Although wealth is certainly subjective, most of the current research measures wealth on scales of income, job status, or socioeconomic circumstances, like educational attainment and intergenerational wealth.
Here are seven things you should know about the psychology of money and wealth.

More money, less empathy?

Several studies have shown that wealth may be at odds with empathy and compassion. Research published in the journal Psychological Science found that people of lower economic status were better at reading others’ facial expressions—an important marker of empathy—than wealthier people.
“A lot of what we see is a baseline orientation for the lower class to be more empathetic and the upper class to be less [so],” study co-author Michael Kraus told Time. “Lower-class environments are much different from upper-class environments. Lower-class individuals have to respond chronically to a number of vulnerabilities and social threats. You really need to depend on others so they will tell you if a social threat or opportunity is coming, and that makes you more perceptive of emotions.”
While a lack of resources fosters greater emotional intelligence, having more resources can cause bad behavior in its own right. UC Berkeley research found that even fake money could make people behave with less regard for others. Researchers observed that when two students played Monopoly, one having been given a great deal more Monopoly money than the other, the wealthier player expressed initial discomfort, but then went on to act aggressively, taking up more space and moving his pieces more loudly, and even taunting the player with less money.

Wealth can cloud moral judgment

It is no surprise in this post-2008 world to learn that wealth may cause a sense of moral entitlement. A UC Berkeley study found that in San Francisco—where the law requires that cars stop at crosswalks for pedestrians to pass—drivers of luxury cars were four times less likely than those in less expensive vehicles to stop and allow pedestrians the right of way. They were also more likely to cut off other drivers.
Another study suggested that merely thinking about money could lead to unethical behavior. Researchers from Harvard and the University of Utah found that study participants were more likely to lie or behave immorally after being exposed to money-related words.
“Even if we are well-intentioned, even if we think we know right from wrong, there may be factors influencing our decisions and behaviors that we’re not aware of,” University of Utah associate management professor Kristin Smith-Crowe, one of the study’s co-authors, told MarketWatch.

Wealth has been linked with addiction

While money itself doesn’t cause addiction or substance abuse, wealth has been linked with a higher susceptibility to addiction problems. A number of studies have found that affluent children are more vulnerable to substance abuse issues, potentially because of high pressure to achieve and isolation from parents. Studies also found that kids who come from wealthy parents aren’t necessarily exempt from adjustment problems—in fact, research found that on several measures of maladjustment, high school students of high socioeconomic status received higher scores than inner-city students. Researchers found that these children may be more likely to internalize problems, which has been linked with substance abuse.
But it’s not just adolescents: Even in adulthood, the rich outdrink the poor by more than 27 percent.

Money itself can become addictive

The pursuit of wealth itself can also become a compulsive behavior. As psychologist Dr. Tian Dayton explained, a compulsive need to acquire money is often considered part of a class of behaviors known as process addictions, or “behavioral addictions,” which are distinct from substance abuse.
These days, the idea of process addictions is widely accepted. Process addictions are addictions that involve a compulsive and/or an out-of-control relationship with certain behaviors such as gambling, sex, eating, and, yes, even money.…There is a change in brain chemistry with a process addiction that’s similar to the mood-altering effects of alcohol or drugs. With process addictions, engaging in a certain activity—say viewing pornography, compulsive eating, or an obsessive relationship with money—can kickstart the release of brain/body chemicals, like dopamine, that actually produce a “high” that’s similar to the chemical high of a drug. The person who is addicted to some form of behavior has learned, albeit unconsciously, to manipulate his own brain chemistry.
While a process addiction is not a chemical addiction, it does involve compulsive behavior—in this case, an addiction to the good feeling that comes from receiving money or possessions—which can ultimately lead to negative consequences and harm the individual’s well-being. Addiction to spending money—sometimes known as shopaholism—is another, more common type of money-associated process addiction.

Wealthy children may be more troubled

Children growing up in wealthy families may seem to have it all, but having it all may come at a high cost. Wealthier children tend to be more distressed than lower-income kids, and are at high risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, cheating, and stealing. Research has also found high instances of binge-drinking and marijuana use among the children of high-income, two-parent, white families.
“In upwardly mobile communities, children are often pressed to excel at multiple academic and extracurricular pursuits to maximize their long-term academic prospects—a phenomenon that may well engender high stress,” writes psychologist Suniya Luthar in “The Culture Of Affluence.” “At an emotional level, similarly, isolation may often derive from the erosion of family time together because of the demands of affluent parents’ career obligations and the children’s many after-school activities.”

We tend to perceive the wealthy as “evil”

On the other side of the spectrum, lower-income individuals are likely to judge and stereotype those who are wealthier than themselves, often judging the wealthy as being “cold.” (Of course, it is also true that the poor struggle with their own set of societal stereotypes.)
Rich people tend to be a source of envy and distrust, so much so that we may even take pleasure in their struggles, according to Scientific American. University of Pennsylvania research demonstrated that most people tend to link perceived profits with perceived social harm. When participants were asked to assess various companies and industries (some real, some hypothetical), both liberals and conservatives ranked institutions perceived to have higher profits with greater evil and wrongdoing across the board, independent of the company or industry’s actions in reality.

Money can’t buy happiness (or love)

We tend to seek money and power in our pursuit of success (and who doesn’t want to be successful, after all?), but it may be getting in the way of the things that really matter: happiness and love.
There is no direct correlation between income and happiness. After a certain level of income that can take care of basic needs and relieve strain (some say $50,000 a year, some say $75,000), wealth makes hardly any difference to overall well-being and happiness and, if anything, only harms well-being: Extremely affluent people actually suffer from higher rates of depression. Some data has suggested money itself doesn’t lead to dissatisfaction—instead, it’s the ceaseless striving for wealth and material possessions that may lead to unhappiness. Materialistic values have even been linked with lower relationship satisfaction.
But here’s something to be happy about: More Americans are beginning to look beyond money and status when it comes to defining success in life. According to a 2013 LifeTwist study, only around one-quarter of Americans still believe that wealth determines success.