Who’s the Third World Country Now?

 Eastman Audience [

Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery
 to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

~Pope Francis~

We as Americans like to think of ourselves as a world leader among nations. We are leaders in the areas of power and technology. We had a large part in winning critical wars in the past century. We also put the first man on the moon. But are power and technology enough to make us a great nation? Perhaps not. We have a few things to fix about our society before we can brag about it.

Let’s start with our federal government. A Gallup poll in mid-June of 2015 shows a 30 % confidence level in the supreme court, a 29% confidence in the presidency and 7% confidence level in congress. We elected most of the people in whom we now have so little confidence. The others were appointed by those we elected. What does that say about us as voters? We have given up control of our elections and placed people in power who have the money to support their campaigns and cajole us into electing them.

Another issue is our lack of reverence for life. Of the 195 countries affiliated with the United Nations, only 36 retain the death penalty. Of these countries, we have the fifth highest rate of execution. We may feel better taking revenge on individuals guilty of the most serious crimes, yet states with no death penalty have no higher crime rates that states which do. What does a national policy of executing its citizens say about our reverence for life? What example do we set for those among us intent on violence?

With all our talk about sacredness of the family, we are the only country in the western hemisphere with no national maternity leave policy. A few countries have started offering paternity leave for new fathers. We are among the many nations with no such policy. Early studies show that fathers do a better job fathering when they have time after childbirth to bond with their children.

After our start as a country accepting slavery, we fought a civil war largely over this issue and passed a series of laws over the years outlawing slavery and its effects. Yet racism is still at the core of the beliefs many of us still hold and operate by. We banished the Native Americans to reservations and denigrated each new wave of immigrants whether they came here willingly or as slaves.

These are a few examples. It seems we are not as civilized as we thought we were and still have some work to do. We need to find ways of working together rather than against each other. It’s not an easy task or we might have done it by now. Start asking questions of yourself and of your fellow citizens.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Look into your heart.
  • Is there room for anyone else besides you?
  • What are you willing to do to make this “our” rather than “your” country?
  • Find out how you can take responsibility.
  • See yourself as a shepherd rather than a sheep.

 

Can we (should we) put a price tag on nature?

 

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For businesses, natural capital has often been seen as the environmental economics equivalent of a free lunch.

Companies could use water or timber, or emit vast amounts of carbon with little recognition to the actual impacts or value it had on the natural world.

Yet, as any student of business or economics knows, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Meaning that as the impacts of climate change, severe droughts and ravishing natural disasters are being seen throughout the world, the value of nature’s finite resources will eventually be felt by businesses.

Excerpt from Keith Larsen’s article on Greenbiz website- Read the rest of his article here.

Try a little mindfulness

If you’ve heard of or read about mindfulness — a form of meditation — you might be curious about how to practice it.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment — without interpretation or judgment.

Here, Kayla Dascher,Mayo Clinic Health System nurse practitioner, shares how to do mindfulness exercises and how they might benefit you. (Excerpt from The Pueblo ChieftainSee the rest of the article here.)

Stress briefly noted and what to do about it

 Martha's Vineyard 2010 108

Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.

~Hans Selye~

Are you wasting your time reading this column? Maybe you feel like you don’t have time to deal with your stress. That’s why this column is taking a brief look at stress and what to do about it. This is more of a glimpse at stress than a full treatment of the topic. I hope you have at least a few minutes to join me. If you do, maybe you will end up with more time than you thought you had.

What is stress anyway? The stress researcher Hans Selye defined stress as “the body’s response to a demand for change.” If you drive the same route to work everyday, you might not even be aware that you are driving. But what happens if your car breaks down or you become involved in an accident? These are certainly changes from your usual routine and come to your attention dramatically. It’s not just you body that reacts. Your mind, emotions and your spirit all jump into the fray.

Is all stress the same? No. Acute stress is a reaction to an immediate threat. All of your resources are called into action to tackle or avoid the threat. Chronic stress lingers for days, weeks, months or even years where you live in a state of stress dragging down your body, mind, emotions and soul. Chronic stress makes it hard for you to live life as you once knew it. After a while, you might not even realize how much stress you carry with you.

Where does stress come from? Some stress is out of your control. You don’t decide to lose your job, experience the death of a close relative or become seriously ill. All of these stressors find you and usually take you by surprise. You can try to ignore this kind of stress but it is there whether or not you want it to be. You deliberately choose other sources of stress whenever you make a change in your life. Examples include moving out on your own, getting married, and having children. It’s not that these choices have no rewards. They do. However the changes required are stressful. Now let’s look a what you can do about it.

Can I avoid stress? You can avoid it to some extent. You can make choices which you know caused you stress in the past.

How can I help my body deal with stress? You can take care of it. Nutritious food gives you the fuel all parts of you body need to handle stress. Junk food, unhealthy chemicals, and too much of the wrong food make you sluggish when you most need your body’s alertness and energy.

How can I help my mind deal with stress? You can make lists so you can see your choices. You can find ways to quiet your mind such as yoga or meditation.

How can I settle my emotions? You can learn how to accept your feelings and not blaming yourself for having them.

How can I bring peace to my soul?  Some people find prayer helpful. For others discovering mindfulness, or living in the moment, helps.

These are some notes from my book, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life. If you want to learn more about stress, I invite you to read my book. I have also included there other readings which might be helpful.

Life Lab Lessons 

  • Learn what stresses you.
  • Choose your stress wisely.
  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Accept who you are and live in the moment.
  • Practice letting go of blaming others or yourself.

6 Ways to care for your body and help you manage stress

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Chronic stress takes a toll on your body. Here are some ways to give your body a break and help it prepare to face stress:

  • Get some rest. Stress takes a toll on the body as you have seen. It can easily wear you down. Rest is essential. Without it, your body will tire of its attempts to cope with stress. Your mind becomes dull as well. Preparing for sleep is easy to take for granted. Television does not set the mood for restful sleep. It would be better to turn it off well before bedtime.
  • Save it for later. Just before bed is not the ideal time to wrestle with your stress either. If something important related to your stress occurs to you just before sleep, write it down and think about it tomorrow. Choose relaxing activities such as reading or listening to soothing music instead of television to prepare for sleep.
  • Eat well. Appetite often changes with stress as well. Maybe you feel a need to comfort yourself with food that tastes good but provides little nutrition. You don’t do yourself any favors with careless eating in times of stress. At the other extreme, you might lose interest in food when you are overwhelmed by stress. It is hard to depend on your appetite to tell you when you need food in these circumstances. Maintaining proper nutrition needs to be a conscious choice during stressful periods. You can also add this to your written plan.
  • Exercise is also important. Adrenalin tenses the body when it is under stress. Exercise is a good way to release this tension. It also helps with digestion and rest.
  • Learn to relax your muscles. Related to exercise but also akin to meditation is muscle relaxation. In 1938, the psychologist Carl Jacobson developed a series of exercises known as progressive muscle relaxation. You can find descriptions and recordings of how to do it on places like Amazon. YouTube is another possibility.
    If you want to try it on your own, here’s how. Lie in a comfortable place on your back wearing loose clothing. You can take a few deep breaths to get you in the relaxing mood. Then tense the muscles throughout your body starting with your feet. Hold the tension in each muscle group for a few seconds and then release your muscles. Then notice the difference. Work your way up your body isolating all the various muscle groups from your feet up to your scalp.
  • Honor your breath. I mentioned breathing earlier. Breathing out and in slowly and concentrating only on your breath while clearing your mind of everything else combines physical and spiritual approaches. It is a very simple form of meditation, but quite effective.You usually think of breathing in and then breathing out. To stay more focused, think of breathing out and then breathing in to help you concentrate on what you are doing. Breathing and muscle relaxation also serve as good preparations for sleep just before bedtime.

(Excerpt from Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life)

6 Scientifically Proven Reasons To Laugh More

Comedian Kevin Hart once said, “Laughter heals all wounds, and that’s one thing that everybody shares. No matter what you’re going through, it makes you forget about your problems. I think the world should keep laughing.”

But Hart’s words show that he’s more than just a talented comedian; in fact, he’s full of scientifically backed wisdom. In particular, this statement shows that he has his finger on the pulse of current scientific research about laughter, and its positive effects on your health, relationships, and even your cognitive abilities.

(Excerpt from Dr Patricia Thompson’s article in  Mind Body Green- Read the rest of the article here.

Mindfulness and Fishing in England

Chris Moss's brother and nephew coarse fishing in the Cotswolds

Perch, roach, carp, rudd, tench, bream … all fish should be called Godot. All the fish in the pond in front of me, in any case.

For once again, I find myself sat in the drizzle, somewhere in middle England, waiting for a bite like a mystic waiting for answers from God.

Every year, without fail, I meet up with my eldest brother, nephew and stepdad to “drown some worms” as my brother puts it, and catch up on family news. We try to use the trip to explore some corner of England we don’t know well. We’ve done Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire a few times – it’s a midpoint, a neutral zone. My stepdad has been fishing for more than forty years and always catches twice as much as my brother, who catches five times more than me. Even my young nephew is more skilled at … well, what?

(Excerpt from Chris Moss’s article in the Telegraph (UK) Read the rest of the article here.)

Wake up to your life: too late to smell the roses

Cheryl Perrault

This week I am just coming around to realize that I never made time to stop and smell the lilacs in my yard. I had all the best intentions of doing so. I kept thinking something like “I’ll make time for them tomorrow.” Regretfully, “tomorrow” came and went in a flash and now the lilac blooms are all withered and brown.

(Excerpt from Cheryl Perreault’s column in The Hopkinton Crier- Read the rest of her article here,)

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How to Earn Respect as Voters

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt~

 

A recent opinion in a letter to the editor stated that politicians should respect voters’ intelligence. This seems to be a fairly common theme in political opinion writing these days. I have wondered lately whether we as voters deserve respect for our intelligence.

Complaining about our elected representatives and officials is also quite common these days. A telephone survey in May, 2015 found that just eighteen percent of voters think most members of Congress care what their constituents think. If they are so out of touch, where did these officials come from? We elected them of course. Well, the fifty-five percent of voters who showed up at the polls did.

So what’s the problem here? Why do we keep electing people who don’t care what we think? What are we thinking when we vote for them? Are we thinking about whether they are willing to work together for the common good? Or do we vote based on our fears or self interest? Some of us don’t bother to vote at all.

When you read what goes on in congress and what happens in our society, you might not find a great deal of difference.  Most of the time congress is in deadlock over just about every issue. Congress reflects the conflicting views and interests we see in society. We find ourselves pitted against each other on just about every issue you can think of. It is no wonder that congress reflects our society. Do you like living this way and being led this way?

I don’t either. Our nation started with a common ideal. We wanted a country in which our citizens could pursue their own happiness without restriction on our free speech or religious views. Although this was the goal, our founding fathers were not perfect. They forgot that everyone is human and convinced themselves that slavery was acceptable.

In more recent times, we came to see the pursuit of happiness as a way to get what we want without regard to the implications for our fellow citizens. Everyone for themselves. We have become short-sighted and selfish in many regards.

When we don’t consider others’ needs, getting what we want just makes them envious and leads to class wars as well as individual skirmishes. I don’t suggest that we can all agree on everything we think, say and do. Then we would be robots. But I think there is a way out.

Imagine living in a nation in which we can again see each other as brothers and sisters. Would you let your family starve or struggle or would you help them to the extent you can? That is the choice we have. We can continue growing more selfish or we can take each others’ needs into account as well as our own.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Think about what you need and what you merely want.
  • Use you eyes and ears to discover what others want.
  • What are you willing to sacrifice to help others with their needs?
  • How can you share what you have?
  • Vote and engage your conscience when you do.