Tag Archives: life

In Addition to Oil Pulling…

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In the past, I have written about oil pulling, and how swishing a little oil around in the mouth for 20 minutes each morning can make the teeth sparkle.  Oil pulling  really works, and remarkably so.  Everyone knows that brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups are also important aspects of maintaining a healthy smile. What is considered less often, however, is how one’s diet can affect his or her dental health.

The foods that a person chooses to eat and drink–or NOT eat or drinks– can have a tremendous impact on his or her  dental health.  Consider the following foods to eat for shiny white, healthy teeth:

Strawberries

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Even though strawberries are bright red, they can help you have  brilliant white, healthy teeth. Despite their appearance, the small amounts of malic acid in strawberries actually helps remove tooth discoloration.  Be  forewarned that too  much malic acid can damage tooth enamel, so be sure to brush well after consuming strawberries.

Apples

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As saying goes,  “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”…. But how about the dentist? The crispness of apples are absolutely great for the gums. Apples strengthening the gums as you chew. Eating apples also increases the production of saliva, which helps neutralize  bacteria colonies residing in the mouth, and reducing the risk for tooth decay.

Cheese, please

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Do your mouth a favor  and indulge in some cheese.  Cheese is chock full of calcium, which strengthens the teeth and gums.  You never have to worry about tooth discoloration resulting from the extra time you spent sampling from that cheese tray; since cheese is basically colorless, surface stains are a non-issue.  Even nut cheeses (as opposed to dairy cheeses) are high in calcium and good for the teeth.

Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies

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When it comes to health food, the cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and  broccoli are all-stars.  Cruciferous veggies are  rich in vitamins and low in calories.  Oh, and raw broccoli’s tiny florets also serve as miniature toothbrushes!   When one chews, the florets go to work, gently scrubbing the surface of your teeth.  Same deal with cauliflower.

Oh, Nuts!

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Consider  choosing a snack  that will give your body a nutritional boost while also brightening your smile. Nuts, with their crunchy texture, help to remove plaque and stains from your teeth while you chew them.  Nuts are  loaded with protein and healthy fats, making them an excellent snack option for your body’s oral health and overall health.

For other teeth whitening tips, refer to my blog post on the Ayurvedic practice of OIL PULLING, Click Here:  Ever Hear of Oil Pulling?

Foods and drinks to avoid

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Now that you know the foods to stock up on to help maintain your healthy smile, are there any foods or drinks you should avoid? While most things are fine in moderation, let’s consider some foods and drinks that can be detrimental to your oral health:

Chewy candy.  Sticky, chewy candy  typically stick to your teeth for extended periods of time. In addition to feeling uncomfortable, the sticky, sugary residue left behind on your teeth provides a feast for the bacteria in your mouth. The result is the breakdown of your enamel and, ultimately, potential tooth decay.

Citrus fruit. You might be surprised to learn that citrus fruits– and particularly lemons and grapefruit– are not friends of your teeth. Although they’re loaded with Vitamin C that’s good for your body, they’re also extremely acidic. Over time, that acid can erode your tooth enamel.  Be sure to brush well as soon as possible after consuming citrus fruit.

Coffee & soda. Not surprisingly, coffees, teas, and sodas are not healthy choices for your teeth. Not only do they stain your pearly whites, the caffeine can dry out your mouth. Additionally, sugar– which is present in soda and often added to coffee and tea– is used by plaque bacteria to produce acid that ultimately attacks your enamel.

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How Not to Die

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I am very excited to announce the long-awaited book by my nutrition guru, Dr. Michael Greger.  Folks, this is a revolutionary breakthrough in medical research that will blow your minds!  Pick up a copy by visiting NutritionFacts.org.   This is the book that will change your life forever.  Would make a great holiday gift as well!

IT’s OFFICIAL: Processed Red Meats Cause Cancer

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This article appeared on NPR this morning.   It is an empirical finding by the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has deemed that processed meats — such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs — cause cancer.

In addition, the WHO says red meats including beef, pork, veal and lamb are “probably carcinogenic” to people.

A group of 22 scientists reviewed the evidence linking red meat and processed meat consumption to cancer, and concluded that eating processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Their evidence review is explained in an article published in The Lancet.

The conclusion puts processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos. This does not mean that they are equally dangerous, says the International Agency for Research on Cancer — the agency within the WHO that sets the classifications. And it’s important to note that even things such as aloe vera are on the list of possible carcinogens.

In a Q & A released by the IARC, the agency says that “eating meat has known health benefits,” but it also points out that the cancer risk increases with the amount of meat consumed. As we’ve reported, studies show that the heaviest meat eaters tend to have the highest risk.

The IARC says high-temperature cooking methods (such as cooking meat in direct contact with a flame) produce more carcinogenic compounds. However, the group says there were not enough data “to reach a conclusion about whether the way meat is cooked affects the risk of cancer.”

Susan Gapstur of the American Cancer Society says the society recommends “consuming a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods and limiting consumption of processed meat and red meat,” she told us in a written statement.

The recommendation, Gapstur tells The Salt, is based on research. For instance, a systematic literature review on colorectal cancer published in 2011 by the World Cancer Research Fund found a statistically significant, 16 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer associated with each 100 grams of red and processed meat consumed. As the ACS points out, this is an amount of meat roughly equivalent in size to a deck of cards.

The Lancet paper points out that red meat also contains “high biological-value proteins and important micronutrients such as B vitamins, iron and zinc.” And the North American Meat Institute says lots of research points to the benefits of red meat consumption.

“Scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health,” writes Barry Carpenter, president of the North American Meat Institute, in a statement on the new WHO classification.

Carpenter says it’s important to put this new classification in context. “IARC’s panel was given the basic task of looking at hazards that meat could pose at some level, under circumstance, but was not asked to consider any off-setting benefits, like the nutrition that meat delivers or the implications of drastically reducing or removing meat from the diet altogether,” the statement concludes.

Are you Depressed?

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In my opinion,  psychiatrists should first test their patients for nutritional deficiencies before writing prescriptions for Zoloftor for  antipsychotics, like Zyprexa.  Conscientious doctors send patients to get lab work done prior to prescribing drugs or increasing dosages.  There are times when people do need antidepressants.   However,  other times  spinach would go far to eliminate the symptoms of depression.   Think Popeye.

If you haven’t ever tested your nutrition levels, you might inquire with either your psychiatrist or primary-care physician. Supplements can be expensive, but you can make it back  by not having to see your psychiatrist as often. You should talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you’re on prescription drugs.

 

Vitamin D

According to my doctor, Vitamin D deficiency is a major epidemic that doctors and public health officials are just beginning to realize. This deficiency has been linked to depression, dementia, and autism. Most of our levels drop off during the fall and winter months, since sunlight is the richest source.   My doctor believes that we should be getting from 5,000 to 10,000 IU  a day.  However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends most healthy adults get only about 600 IUs daily.  Hence, the widespread deficiency and increases in depression.

Magnesium

I am forever extolling the virtues of Magnesium, because this, like Vitamin D, is deficient in most American adults, according to my doctor, and the symptoms are not pretty.  They can, in fact, set off a chain reaction of unpleasant symptoms. Our lifestyles decrease our levels of Magnesium.  Some of the things that contribute are excess alcohol, salt, coffee, sugar, phosphoric acid (in soda), chronic stress, antibiotics, and diuretics (water pills). Magnesium is sometimes referred to as the stress antidote, the “most powerful relaxation mineral that exists,” according to Hyman. It is found in seaweed, greens, and beans. The NIH recommends a daily intake of about 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium for adult men and 310 to 320 mg for adult women.  Magnesium Citrate can also act as a laxative, so buy your Magnesium accordingly….and time it well.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

I was surprised when my results showed an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency because I eat plenty of salmon and take fish oil supplements every day. That shows you just how much fish — salmon, tuna, halibut — or flaxseeds and walnuts we need to consume to be at an optimal level. These essential minerals reduce inflammation and play a critical role in brain function, especially memory and mood. The body can’t make them, so you need to either eat them or take supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are just one of the supplements I take every day for depression

Vitamin B Complex

B vitamins like vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 can provide some incredible health benefits, including reduced stroke risk and healthy skin and nails. On the other hand, a vitamin B deficiency may impact your mental health. More than a quarter of severely depressed older women were deficient in B-12, according to one 2009 study.

The best sources of vitamin B-6 are poultry, seafood, bananas, and leafy green vegetables. For vitamin B-6, the NIH recommends a daily intake of 1.7 mg for adult men, and 1.5 mg for adult women. Vitamin B-12 is found in animal foods (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk) and shellfish, such as clams, mussels, and crab. Most adults should need to consume 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B-12 daily, according to the NIH.

Folate

People with a low folate level have only a 7 percent response to treatment with antidepressants. Those with high folate levels have a response of 44 percent, according to Hyman. That is why many psychiatrists are now prescribing a folate called Deplin to treat depression and improve the effectiveness of an antidepressant. I tried it and it didn’t seem to make that much of a difference; however, I have several friends who have had very positive responses to Deplin. You need not try the prescription form of Deplin. You could just start taking a folate supplement and see if you get any results. Your daily recommended folate intake depends on your gender, whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and age. However, most adults need at least 400 mcg daily. You can also get your daily folate requirements by consuming foods high in folate, including dark leafy greens, beans and legumes, and citrus fruits and juices.

 Amino Acids

Amino acids — the building blocks of protein — help your brain properly function. A deficiency in amino acids may cause you to feel sluggish, foggy, unfocused, and depressed. Good sources of amino acids include beef, eggs, fish, beans, seeds, and nuts.

 Iron

Iron deficiency is pretty common in women. About 20 percent of women, and 50 percent of pregnant women, are in the club. Only three percent of men are iron deficient. The most common form of anemia — an insufficient number of red blood cells — is caused by iron deficiency. Its symptoms are similar to depression: fatigue, irritability, brain fog. Most adults should consume 8 to 18 mg of iron daily, depending on age, gender, and diet, according to the NIH. Good sources of iron include red meat, fish, and poultry. If you really want to get more red blood cells, eat liver. Yuck.

 Zinc

This one is SO important!  Zinc is used by more enzymes (and we have over 300) than any other mineral. It is crucial to many of our systems. It activates our digestive enzymes so that we can break down our food, and works to prevent food allergies (which, in turn, averts depression in some people, since some of our mood disruptions are triggered by food allergies). It also helps our DNA to repair and produce proteins. Finally, zinc helps control inflammation and boosts our immune system. The NIH recommends a daily intake of 11 mg of zinc for adult men and 8 mg for adult women.

 Selenium

Like iodine, selenium is important for good thyroid function. It assists the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active thyroid hormone, T3. It also helps one of our important antioxidants (glutathione peroxidase) keep polyunsaturated acids in our cell membranes from getting oxidized (rancid). Most adults need about 55 mcg of selenium daily. The best food source of selenium is Brazil nuts, which contains about 544 mcg of selenium per ounce.

Iodine

Iodine deficiency can be a big problem because iodine is critical for the thyroid to work as it should, and the thyroid affects more than you think: your energy, metabolism, body temperature, growth, immune function, and brain performance (concentration, memory, and more). When it’s not functioning properly, you can feel very depressed, among other things. You can get iodine by using an iodine-enriched salt, or by eating dried seaweed, shrimp, or cod. I take a kelp supplement every morning because I have hypothyroidism. The daily recommend amount of iodine for most adults is about 150 mcg.

Feeling Great ….Really

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You know, I stay so busy that I can sometimes lose touch of how I feel on a given day, simply because I’m on auto-pilot so often, rushing from one job to another, working on opening my business, still writing and writing and making art, providing childcare for Ingrid, taking care of our home, making music, making life happen…..so when I stop, as I did today while the beautiful scent of lavender (my favorite) wafted up from the floors that I’d just mopped, and I thought about how I really feel, all I could think was how great I have it right now….how happy I am….how all the pieces have simply fallen into place.

There is illness in my family….my cousin….my parents….but even still, my heart is peaceful, albeit very concerned.

There is no dysfunction in my immediate life.  There is stress, but it is the normal kind that comes with an overwhelming, crushing amount of work….yet, each time I complete one task and go on to the next, I feel a little happier, like I am one step closer to opening this business and realizing my goals.  Things are so good!  I am one lucky woman.

I would like to thank those family members who have been so incredibly supportive of me….my husband, my daughter and on and on.  What would I have done without them?   My dear friends who make sure I know I am valuable to them.  I have some incredible friends, and I have not lost a single one of them in years.  They stand by me in the face of controversy and make sure that I know I am loved, every day of the week.   I am one lucky woman.

I still love living in this beautiful city in this beautiful state and I count my blessings every day for everything that I have.  Money can’t buy this folks.  Money can’t buy this kind of happiness.

Life just doesn’t get much better than this.

I have love.  I have life.  I have someone who is very, very special and sweet who makes me feel good to be alive, and for this, I am most thankful of all.

Life is great.

See This Smile?

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This is the smile of a happy woman who KNOWS that  she is loved.

Simple pleasures are the BEST pleasures.

A Remarkable Thing…sort of

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A Remarkable Thing…sort of

Something remarkable happened yesterday….At least, to ME, it was remarkable.

Years ago, my British friend  had a membership to the Foundation Room (shown above) in New Orleans.  This is the exclusive “back room” at the House of Blues where we would go to hang out with her friends and, often the band members that played there.  It seemed that a lot of rock stars’ wives and girlfriends would hang out in the Foundation Room when they went on tour with their significant others, so sometimes, we would hang with them.   My friend knew a lot of them, and I knew some of them, so between us, it seemed we were always surrounded by interesting people there.

I recall one night when a very famous British rock musician played. (You will understand shortly why I don’t want to mention his name.)   He was headliner for a band that topped the charts for many, many years and subsequently became as successful as a solo musician. He is noted today as one of the most innovative guitarists in the world.   His brother played in the band as well, and has also become a successful solo artist,  but at that point, I had not met him.

We sat around a big table that night and discussed liberal politics and philosophy. It was a bold and enthusiastic discussion, full of laughter, dry wit and intelligence. I was titillated by the discussion much more than I was by the fact that this rock idol was sitting right next to me.   Because of my work, I had been around enough famous people by that time that I was no longer star-struck,  and I have never been impressed by anyone  just because they happen to play music.   

This man was absolutely brilliant, but he drank too much.   (I think K. and I were the only people in the entire room that were not inebriated.  Even when in New Orleans, I don’t drink much.)   After that event, K. and I, and a couple of the musician’s friends, were invited to get into his limo with him where were driven to a second club. Another great discussion ensued with some other musician friends of his.  Very nice group of people.  We danced a little, but talked, way into the wee hours of the dawn.   It was a great evening.

So….fast forward to present times….

Awhile back, a musician friend introduced me to the aforementioned famous musician’s brother, also a former member of the same band, and also now turned solo artist.  We added one another on Facebook.  I followed his music and career and politics on Facebook, but had never really interacted with him….until yesterday.

Yesterday, I logged into Facebook and had received a private message from the aforementioned famous brother.  “I dig your politics,” he said. “You are a very intelligent woman!”   I jotted a quick note of thanks, referred him to some political websites that I enjoy and thought that would be the end of it…but it wasn’t.  He responded….and we began a back-and-forth exchange.  We talked about an article that I shared with him about an African tribe that claims to be musically influenced by his former rock band.  We talked about where we live and what we enjoy in life.  We had a long discussion about Texas and its blend of backward fundamentalist rednecks amongst pockets of intelligent people.  We talked about mullets.  We talked about animals.  We talked about A LOT of things…and the chat was long and funny and really nice.

The topic of music came up, and I asked him if he knew my friend of 30+ years, Arthur Brown, who had the 1968 hit record, “I Am the God of Hellfire”.  “I LOVE that song,” was his reply…so I posted a video of it on my Facebook.  He responded there by joking, “I hope FB and YouTube get hit by a 10 billion dollar copyright infringement suit from PRS et al“.”  Funny guy.

It had been awhile since I’d had a chat of that caliber with anyone that smart, let alone famous.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  When I signed on to Facebook this morning, there was another note from him saying how much he had enjoyed the chat as well.  “Keep in touch,” he said.

I will.

I told my husband about this encounter this morning.  “I’ve always loved those guys!” he said.

“Yeah….you and the rest of the world.” I said.

These times make me smile.

The Magical Power of Lemon Water

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I felt emotionally exhausted and physically drained after my trip to another state week before last.  Saying goodbye to loved ones is always so hard, but in this case, it was absolutely agonizing.

Four funerals of friends over a 10-day span was just too much.    On the flight home, I asked the airline hostess for a glass of water with lemon.  Upon drinking it, I noticed that my mood was lifted rather instantaneously.   It was as though I’d just consumed a magic potion.

My mother has always extolled the virtues of lemon water.  For years, it has been my “go-to” drink.  I love it, and I choose it over soda every time.  If I want something bubbly, I will drink either San  Pellegrino or Perrier with a squeeze of lemon.  I love the stuff…so light and refreshing.  Little Ingrid now loves it, too.

None of us drink sugary soft drinks.

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Among many other things the advantages of regularly drinking lemon water include:

  • Preventing  the growth of pathogenic bacteria and the decomposition of tissue
  • Cleansing the system of certain impurities, and also helping prevent certain diseases and infections
  • It is amazingly effective at dissolving uric acid (often the cause of pain and inflammation in joints) and other poisons in the body
  • It can help reduce symptoms of malaria, rheumatism, gout, rickets and tuberculosis…not that I have any of these diseases…

And I think it simply tastes good.

I keep a lemon half in a small glass container right inside my refrigerator door.  Each time I pour myself a glass of water, I grab the lemon and give it a little squeeze into the glass.  Doesn’t take much to impart a truly delicious flavor.  Although, in the summer, when mint is fresh and ripe, I might add a sprig or two of that as well, I never add sugar.   I’m sweet enough already.  😉

People with liver damage often turn to lemon water because its healing power is an excellent stimulant for the liver.   From what I understand, it helps liquefy bile and helps control excess bile flow. For liver complaints, it is recommended that one drink warm lemon juice one hour before breakfast.  Drinking it as a “tea” and drinking it in a cold glass of water provide different benefits and different taste sensations.

One of the most important benefits of imbibing lemon water with some degree of regularity, is its effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Lemon water assists in the process of digestion and elimination.  It also has an alkalizing effect on the body. Increasing body alkalinity is what you should be going for.  It is one of the key benefits of drinking lemon water.

Other benefits include:

  • Helps purify the blood and will also control a tendency to bleed
  • Assists in lowering high blood pressure
  • Reduces the amount of phlegm in the body
  • Relieves symptoms of asthma, allergies and other respiratory problems
  • Nourishes brain and nerve cells due to its potassium content
  • Helps dissolves gallstones, calcium deposits, kidney stones, and pancreatic stones

Basically, as we get older, our bodies “rust” (sort of).   Rust is, of course, the oxidation of metal. And scientifically, aging has been considered the slow oxidation of our bodies. Like those brown age spots on the back of people’s hands?  That’s just oxidized fat under the skin. Oxidant stress is why we get wrinkles, that’s why we lose some of our memory, that’s why our organ systems break down as we get older.  How do we slow down oxidation? By eating foods containing anti-oxidants. If you want to know if a food has a lot of antioxidants in it you slice it open, expose it to air—expose it to oxygen and see what happens. Does it oxidize, does it turn brown? Think about our two most popular fruits: apples and bananas. Turn brown right away—not a lot of antioxidants inside there. How to do you keep your fruit salad from turning brown though? Add lemon juice, which has vitamin C in it, an antioxidant, which can keep your food from oxidizing and can do the same thing inside our bodies.  Lemons are good for you and help slow down the aging process.

I also use lemon juice for countless other things around the house.  For example, I boil a few slices of lemon in about half a litre of water. Let it cool. Pour it in a spray bottle and voilå!   My own homemade air freshener!  I use it as a glass cleaner.  I use it to polish my silver.  I toss a lemon into the garbage disposal to make it smell good.  I use it in my homemade furniture polish.  I just love how it smells.

Lemons.  They’re a good thang!

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Pho Real

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Thanks to some real inspiration, this is what I’m making for John’s dinner tomorrow night.  Thought I’d share the recipe with you.

Vegetarian Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

Serves 6

Broth
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 large shallots, sliced (1 cup)
  • ½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 12 ¼-inch-thick coins fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 5–6 fresh basil stems, leaves reserved for soup
  • 5–6 cilantro stems, leaves reserved for soup

Pho

  • 1 8-oz. pkg. rice noodles
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. Asian-flavor baked tofu, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups soybean sprouts
  • 2 cups watercress
  • 4 green onions, sliced (½ cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

1. To make Broth: Place all ingredients in large pot with 8 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Strain broth, and return to pot. Discard solids.

2. To make Pho: Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Divide among 6 large soup bowls. Ladle Broth over noodles, and top with tofu, sprouts, watercress, and green onions. Serve cilantro, basil, and lime wedges on the side to be stirred into soup.

Influence, Persuasion, Manipulation, Coercion – FOUR modes of action

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Influence, Persuasion, Manipulation, Coercion – FOUR modes of action

 

A client hired me to write about this topic, and as I investigated, I decided that the topic was pretty interesting, so I’ll post the gist of my article here:

Each day, people try to influence others. I do it.  You do it.  Everyone does. Could be about something small.  Could be about something major.

For instance, I spend a good deal of time on this blog talking about the merits of healthful eating.  It doesn’t really matter to me, with any level of significance,  what anyone else eats, because that simply  isn’t my business….but on some level by writing about healthful eating I suppose I am probably trying to influence or convince you, the reader, to choose better eating habits so that you, too, can enjoy the many benefits of doing so.  Trying to influence or persuade others is a natural thing to do.

 

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There are numerous ways of persuading another person to do, think or feel something.  It is my opinion  that positive influence is the most effective and best way to do that.

Let’s break this down into understandable terms and take a look at some of the choices:

influence

Influence is simply the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen: a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way.  I wish to positively influence others.

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The operative point here is use of the term, “without directly forcing them to happen.”  I, personally, believe that influence and persuasion are fairly interchangeable.

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persuasion

Persuasion is a voluntary choice on the part of the person being persuaded.  While influence and persuasion can be used in negative ways, they are inherently the more positive of all of the ways of convincing someone else to do something, because neither tactic involves forcing someone to do something against his or her will.

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Now, let’s talk about the nasty cousins of influence: manipulation and coercion. Usually, when people have a negative reaction to the word influence, they are actually conjuring images and ideas about these words:

manipulation

manipulation

Manipulation is unfortunately and incorrectly equated with influence. It’s a bad thing, in my opinion.   I guess it’s understandable that people equate it incorrectly with influence, since there really is only one small difference between the two .  Manipulation occurs when someone exerts shrewd or devious influence especially for one’s own advantage.  1coerce

coerce

The act of coercion is to make (someone) DO something by using force or threats  or  to GET (something) by using force or threats.

Coercion is probably the ugliest of the lot. It’s pretty much a do-whatever-it-takes approach. Brainwashing and torture fall under the heading of coercion, as do threats, screaming, hitting….Know what I mean?

How does coercion work?

The tactics of psychological coercion often involve anxiety and stress, and fall into seven main categories.

1. Restrictive techniques or exhaustive, exact repetition of demands.

2. Attempted establishment of control over the victim’s social environment, time, and sources of social support by creating social isolation; removing contact with family or friends who promote self-esteem, independence, positivity, and sense of well-being. Economic controls may contribute.

3. Rejection of alternate information and separate opinions. Rules exist about permissible topics to discuss. Communication is highly controlled.

4. Forcing the victim to re-evaluate the most central aspects of his or her experience of self and prior conduct in negative ways. The victim is made to feel like a “bad” person. Efforts are designed to destabilize and undermine the subject’s basic consciousness, reality awareness, world view, emotional control and defense mechanisms. The subject questions, doubts, and reinterprets his or her life and adopts a new “reality.”

5. Creating a sense of powerlessness by subjecting the victim to intense and frequently confusing, conflicting actions and situations which undermine the victim’s self-confidence and judgment.

6. Creating strong, aversive, emotional arousals in the subject by reactions such as intense humiliation, loss of privilege, social isolation, social status changes, intense guilt, anxiety, and manipulation.

7. Intimidation of the victim by implied power, size, voice amplitude, or implied threat. Psychological coercion can be applied to such a degree that the victim’s capacity to make informed or free choices becomes inhibited. The victim becomes unable to make the normal, wise or balanced decisions which they most likely or normally would have made, had they not been manipulated. The cumulative effect of psychological coercion can be an even more effective form of undue influence than pain, torture, drugs or the use of physical force or threats.

Coercive psychological systems violate the most fundamental concepts of basic human rights.  They imply ownership of one person or group by another.  They violate rights of individuals that are guaranteed by many declarations of principle worldwide.  An interesting fact, however…..

Often, the victims of coercion will rebel against the person or entity using the coercion and may give the impression that they are following that person’s orders, when, in reality, the opposite is true.  Bullies with a mentality low enough to attempt coercion, however, are clearly too stupid to realize this.

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Regret is usually a waste of time. As is gloating; A precautionary tale for the clueless…

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Do you know anyone that gloats when he or she perceives triumph?  I’ve witnessed this, and we happen to be studying the cognitive structure of emotions right now in one of my psych classes.  Thus, this entry.

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If you’re like me, there are times when you just can’t help but feel sorry for the person doing the gloating….especially when he or she is doing it  under false pretenses….that is…when the gloater THINKS things are one way….and they gloat…while everyone else is sort of making fun of them or clucking their tongues because that person’s perception of reality is WAY off…..but do you ever wonder what actually causes someone to gloat?   In a word….insecurity.   Public appearances and saving face are huge issues with the person that gloats.  The phenomenon is initially caused by comparing oneself with others, with insecurity and with envy, and it has deep neurological roots.

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The smugness and malignant pleasure associated with gloating has to do with envy that is believed to be overcome by a feeling of personal triumph.  According to neuroimaging studies, the part of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) activates when envy occurs.

dorsal anterior cingulate cortex

This happens because coming up on the short end of social comparison violates the person’s self-concept, resulting in emotional pain. The more superior the assets and attributes of the target person in a social comparison, the greater the envy will be.  When the gloater believes that the envied person experiences misfortunes , strong activation occurs in the ventral striatum, a key reward node in the brain….and gloating takes place.

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Gloating can also be at the root of specific forms of humor.  For instance, we might laugh when we see a slapstick comic fall down on stage.  People that are prone to gloat might also laugh when they perceive that a person that had power over them gets “knocked down a peg or two,” and gets “put in his or her place “.  The emotion is stronger the less the gloater cares about the individual, the more the gloater holds that person responsible for some misdeed,  and the more the event was unexpected.  Gloating can feel especially sweet if the gloater envied the person or wanted revenge against them.

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Just a precautionary measure.  Consider that you might be wrong before you publicly gloat about something.  You might look much less silly if you do.  “He (or she) who laughs last, laughs best.”

Just sayin’…..

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Simple Truths

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One of my closest and dearest friends forwarded this video to me today.  I just had to share.  Simple truths are the most important truths.

6 Reasons Why My Banana Bread is Better Than Yours

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6 Reasons Why My Banana Bread is Better Than Yours

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First, I use my grandmother Blackwood’s recipe, and it is simply the best banana bread recipe in the world!  It is also a secret, so you’re out of luck there, but I will tell you how you can make your OWN banana bread recipe taste better by changing 5 of the ingredients.

The first thing is nuts.  Whether you add walnuts, almonds or some other kind of nuts, use the smoked kind with salt, and use high quality nuts.  Buy them as fresh as possible, and don’t use the canned kind that has all the preservatives.  Trader Joe’s is the ideal place to purchase good nuts.   The smoky, salty flavor matched against the sweetness of the sugar provides a complete yin-yang flavor profile that simply makes sense.  You’ll take one bit and say, “YES!!!”

almonds

You’re going to laugh about this next ingredient.

bacon grease

My recommendation for this product has nothing to do with whether you are or are not vegan.  The product is fabulous. It is a wonderful, strong flavoring agent that I now cannot live without.   Just add about a teaspoon of this stuff to the oil that you would normally use in your recipe, and WOW!  It adds just a hint of the same smoky flavor that are also contained in the smoked nuts.  It gives the bread substance and a sort of “bass note”….not bass the fish….bass the instrument.   It makes the bread  taste richer, more full-bodied…good….and oh, by the way, this stuff is great for all kinds of recipes, sweet AND savory!  You can purchase it online HERE.

The third thing that makes my banana bread so good is black bananas.

black bananas

Bananas contain tryptophan; a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.  When you allow them to ripen to the soft stage, the flavors are enhanced and the concentration of tryptophan is even higher.  Plus, they simply taste better when they’re baked.

And finally….and more importantly….the vanilla.

nielsen massy

ONLY use Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and one fresh vanilla bean!

vanilla bean

Before you faint over the cost of the vanilla, don’t.  It is the most delicious vanilla extract I have ever used, AND it is worth every cent that you pay for it.  It really *does* make that much of a difference.  The fresh vanilla bean just adds to the vanilla goodness.

If you use these five ingredients with any banana bread recipe, I guarantee you will not regret it.  You will have the best banana bread on the block.  Mind you, it won’t be quite as good as mine, because I use Grandmother Blackwood’s recipe….but you will definitely love what you bake, if you don’t burn it.  Really.

It’s that good!

Protected: Happy 10 Month Birthday, Harrison!

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The Power of Empathy

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It can be very difficult to empathize with those people with whom you have no connection.  Fortunately, most people are not mean, and in most cases, I do try to connect and empathize with others. Do you?

Here is an interesting talk about empathy.

I Could Say More….but ….I Have Self Control…

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kettle of crazy

Have you ever been in a situation where someone that was truly crazy, truly mean, was up to their typical evil because they falsely believe they have something over on you, and you just wanted to rub their nose in their own stupidity?  Don’t. Even if you have information that would make them re-think their aggressive bullying.

When you find a big kettle of crazy, it really is best not to stir it.  The crazies will beat that broth with a whisk themselves, until it is frothy… so you don’t have to.  The difference between the nut-jobs and yourself is that YOU (or, in this case “I”) have self control.

Failure to control oneself is just that….failure…..and who needs to be around hot-tempered, drama queen losers? Attempt to be cool, folks.  Whether your definition of self-control  involves stopping drinking or smoking, or getting even with the person that keeps making an ass out of him or herself…… exercising self control is the best answer.  It can be difficult when the other person is a bully who slathers the Internet with stupid memes depicting a reality that only exists in his or her own mind.  You can drop clues about the wrongness of it all, until the cows come home, but they continue to gloat and believe lies….so just let them.  betty smokingWhen you feel a good retaliation coming on….even a DESERVED one, meditate! Meditation not only improves your emotional intelligence, it also trains the brain to become a self-control machine. Yes, meditation actually changes the chemical structure of the brain by flooding it with Dopamine, Seratonin and all the other “feel good” chemicals that are produced by the body.  Simple techniques such as mindfulness, that requires as little as five minutes a day to focus on nothing more than your breathing and your senses, improves self-awareness and the brain’s ability to resist destructive impulses. Buddhist monks appear calm and in control for a reason!

Believe it or not, another way to control one’s self is to control what goes into the body.  The brain burns heavily into one’s stores of glucose when attempting to exert self-control in those situations where you don’t really WANT to exercise self control.

When some crazy has pissed you off so badly that you really, really want to flaunt your situation in front of his or her face, if your blood sugar is low, you are far more likely to succumb to destructive impulses….so eat healthy foods!   Sugary foods rapidly spike sugar levels and leave one feeling drained and vulnerable shortly thereafter. Eating something that provides a slow burn, such as whole grain rice or beans, will give anyone a longer window of self-control.

Getting the ‘ol body moving for as little as 10 minutes at a time releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes one’s brain feel soothed and keeps the exerciser in control of his or her impulses. If you’re having trouble resisting the impulse to upload all kinds of incriminating evidence to your blog, or if you want to splash someone’s CRAZY name all over the Internet…. just keep on walking. You should have the impulse under control by the time you get back.

Desire has a strong tendency to ebb and flow like the tide. When the impulse you need to control is strong, waiting out this wave of desire is usually enough to keep yourself in control. The rule of thumb here is to wait at least 10 minutes before succumbing to temptation. You’ll often find that the great wave of desire is now little more than a ripple that you have the power to step right over.

The important thing to remember is you have to give these strategies the opportunity to work. This means recognizing the moments where you are struggling with self-control and, rather than giving in to impulse, taking a look at this advice and giving these tips a go before you give in.  Exercise a little self-discipline.   The crazies will take care of themselves.  It takes time to increase your emotional intelligence, but the new habits you form with effort can last a lifetime.

 

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