Monday, July 29, 2013

This is beautiful.

Kindness is always possible.

Friday, July 26, 2013


"Real motivation most often comes not from seductive words promising us the fruition of our dreams, but rather from within, from facing ourselves more honestly. This takes deep questioning, looking, listening, feeling, and sensing; it takes presence. What is perceived through presence, which includes not just the great beauty and mystery of our lives but also our many forms of lying, self-deception, and mechanicalness, is often uncomfortable and difficult to bear, but such presence, the conscious immediacy of all the levels and dimensions of ourselves, lies at the very core of who we are. Presence, intimate consciousness, is itself the wondrous miracle of being."--Dennis Lewis


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

LOVE 2.0 (new book from Dr. Barbara Fredrickson)

I'm currently reading a new book: "Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become," 10 lessons from this book from the author, Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.:
1. It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it.
The vision of love that emerges from the latest science requires a radical shift. I learned that I need to ask people to step back from their current views of love long enough to consider it from a different perspective: their body's perspective. Love is not romance. It's not sexual desire. It's not even that special bond you feel with family or significant others.
And perhaps most challenging of all, love is neither lasting nor unconditional. The radical shift we need to make is this: Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another.
2. Love is not exclusive.
We tend to think of love in the same breath as loved ones. When you take these to be only your innermost circle of family and friends, you inadvertently and severely constrain your opportunities for health, growth and well-being.
In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone -- whether your soul mate or a stranger. So long as you feel safe and can forge the right kind of connection, the conditions for experiencing the emotion of love are in place.
3. Love doesn't belong to one person.
We tend to think of emotions as private events, confined to one person's mind and skin. Upgrading our view of love defies this logic. Evidence suggests that when you really "click" with someone else, a discernible yet momentary synchrony emerges between the two of you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror one another in a pattern I call positivity resonance. Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once.
4. Making eye contact is a key gateway for love.
Your body has the built-in ability to "catch" the emotions of those around you, making your prospects for love -- defined as micro-moments of positivity resonance -- nearly limitless. As hopeful as this sounds, I also learned that you can thwart this natural ability if you don't make eye contact with the other person. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper to neural synchrony.
5. Love fortifies the connection between your brain and your heart, making you healthier.
Decades of research show that people who are more socially connected live longer and healthier lives. Yet precisely how social ties affect health has remained one of the great mysteries of science.
My research team and I recently learned that when we randomly assign one group of people to learn ways to create more micro-moments of love in daily live, we lastingly improve the function of the vagus nerve, a key conduit that connects your brain to your heart. This discovery provides a new window into how micro-moments of love serve as nutrients for your health.
6. Your immune cells reflect your past experiences of love.
Too often, you get the message that your future prospects hinge on your DNA. Yet the ways that your genes get expressed at the cellular level depends mightily on many factors, including whether you consider yourself to be socially connected or chronically lonely.
My team is now investigating the cellular effects of love, testing whether people who build more micro-moments of love in daily life also build healthier immune cells.
7. Small emotional moments can have disproportionately large biological effects.
It can seem surprising that an experience that lasts just a micro-moment can have any lasting effect on your health and longevity. Yet I learned that there's an important feedback loop at work here, an upward spiral between your social and your physical well-being.
That is, your micro-moments of love not only make you healthier, but being healthier builds your capacity for love. Little by little, love begets love by improving your health. And health begets health by improving your capacity for love.
8. Don't take a loving marriage for granted.
Writing this book has profoundly changed my personal view of love. I used to uphold love as that constant, steady force that all but defines my marriage. While that constant, steady force still exists, I now see our bond as a product of the many micro-moments of positivity resonance that my husband and I have shared over the years. This shakes me out of any complacency that tempts me to take our love for granted. Love is something we should re-cultivate every single day.
9. Love and compassion can be one and the same.
If we reimagine love as micro-moments of shared positivity, it can seem like love requires that you always feel happy. I learned that this isn't true. You can experience a micro-moment of love even as you or the person with whom you connect suffers.
Love doesn't require that you ignore or suppress negativity. It simply requires that some element of kindness, empathy or appreciation be added to the mix. Compassion is the form love takes when suffering occurs.
10. Simply upgrading your view of love changes your capacity for it.
The latest science offers new lenses through which to see your every interaction. The people I interviewed for the book shared incredibly moving stories about how they used micro-moments of connection to make dramatic turnarounds in their personal and work lives.
One of the most hopeful things I learned is that when people take just a minute or so each day to think about whether they felt connected and attuned to others, they initiate a cascade of benefits. And this is something you could start doing today, having learned even just this much more about how love works.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What if we all love each other

Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Cheese Salad Recipe

This is a great recipe for a refreshing summer salad for hot summer days from my dear friend, Jennifer Iserloh, a.k.a. the Skinny Chef.  Easy, simple and delicious.  Enjoy!!   You can also top it with one of her new Superfood Sauces that she launched (pictured at the bottom and can be ordered online).  

Serves: 4
    • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 small shallot, minced
    • 4 cups seedless watermelon chunks, diced or thinly sliced
    • 1 pound assorted tomatoes, Heirloom varieties if available, sliced
    • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
    • 1 jalapeño, some seeds removed, thinly sliced
In a large bowl combine the vinegar, olive oil, and shallot. Whisk until smooth. Toss in the watermelon, tomatoes, feta, and jalapeño to coat, serve immediately.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Attention as an Art Form

[Learning how to think] means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to, and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. --David Foster Wallace 

Attention as an Art Form
 --by Viral Mehta, syndicated from, Aug 22, 2011

185 billion bits of information.  In an average lifetime, this is what the human brain is capable of processing; according to the famous psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: "It is out of this total that everything in our life must come -- every thought, memory, feeling or action. It seems like a huge amount, but in reality it does not go that far." With any limited resource, the fact that it's in short supply can quickly create a feeling of scarcity. But it can also snap us back to attention and foster wise use. In what "Time Magazine" dubbed as one of the best commencement speeches ever, the late author, David Foster Wallace, went as far as to say that honing this skill is the truest purpose of education. He said that "learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to, and to choose how you construct meaning from experience." It comes down to working with the core property of human experience -- attention, which can be broken down into four key aspects: 1. Awareness: As I sit here, I see the wind rustling through the leaves, remember a pleasant memory of camping in the woods, hear the faint sounds of jazz music float in from next door and feel the slight tension in my hamstring ease. All of these things are happening simultaneously. To some extent, I'm aware of them, but when I consciously tune into them, more things keep bubbling up. In a sense, my experience in any moment is totally defined by my level of awareness. "The unconscious parts of the mind are most of the mind," David Brooks writes in his book "Social Animal." "[And these parts have] a processing capacity 200,000 times greater than the conscious mind." That line between conscious and sub-conscious isn't fixed. By sharpening my ability to notice all that is happening around and within me, I can make more and more things conscious. This sharpening is like using a muscle -- the more I use it, the stronger it grows. 2. Choice: With the things I am conscious of, am I actually taking them into meaningful account, learning from them and willing to make more informed decisions based on them? Attention is part intention and part habit. We tend to think of freedom as being the ability to choose our actions, but at a subtler level it's about choosing what we pay attention to and how. The trick is to maintain a cool and fluid objectivity that allows us to move on from moment to moment, without getting bogged down by any aspect of our experience. So on the one hand, a conscious cultivation of awareness results in heightened perception, but then we also recognize that we have the ability to both engage with something or seamlessly move on. As the movie "Waking Life" suggests, "The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure, while always arriving." 3. Engagement: Paradoxically, the more consciously our attention can flow unimpeded, the deeper our ability to engage, since we're no longer compelled by the siren song of distraction. Microsoft Ex-Vice President, Linda Stone, coined the term "continuous partial attention," referring to a state in which we constantly and impulsively fragment our attention. In this state of fragmentation, we gain breadth at the cost of depth, and trade in quality for quantity. But we can flip the pattern at any time. As we invest more fully in our present experience, we move from a passive interest to an active curiosity to full engagement and finally to enchantment. We've breathed magic into everyday moments, realizing that, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." 4. Flow: Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Once we are aware, have explicitly made a choice to tune in meaningfully and have infused a fullness into the experience, we can actually string together a bunch of such moments. As activist Lynne Twist says, "what we appreciate, appreciates" -- so the more we concentrate on something, the more it expands in our consciousness. Take a simple example of listening to a friend. Just by continuously pouring our attention into that experience, I perceive the words more richly, I see her reality more clearly, and consequently can interact in the conversation more effectively. So this continuity of attention allows me to more deeply experience and value what is already in front of me, and immerse myself into the actual flow of reality. Every moment affords an opportunity to start paying attention, and as I do, I realize its gift. First and foremost, it is a gift to my own self, bringing me back to a place of inner alignment. Then, as I start to benefit from it, I can gift it to others. And finally, it is a gift that takes me beyond my own limited notions of identity and self-interest. It can all begin right now, just with an intention to be aware. That increased awareness opens up windows of choice, and as I start to make more informed choices, I deepen the quality of my experience. In making this a continuous effort, I evolve from unconscious processing, to subconscious registering, to conscious awareness, to engaged learning; or, from data to information to knowledge to wisdom. Instead of just going with the flow, I can actually grow with the flow.