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Striving for Happiness vs. Prioritising Positivity, A Better Way to Pursue Happiness

This essay describes the differences between ardently striving for happiness and making deliberate choices day in and day out, choices that enable you to have more experiences that are known to be sources of happiness.

As you read, consider: How does your daily life give rise to opportunities for positive vs. negative emotions? Could you rearrange things, or engage in different behaviors that would permit more positive emotion eliciting experiences?

A Better Way to Pursue Happiness

We all want to be happy. And science shows that happiness not only feels great but also predicts better physical health and even a higher paycheck.

But how do we pursue happiness effectively? After all, some recent scientific research actually cautions us against the pursuit of happiness. For instance, a study led by Iris Mauss, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, found that people instructed to feel happier while watching a pleasant film clip ended up feeling worse than people instructed just to watch the clip. Findings like this are echoed in the popular press: Writer Ruth Whippman argued in a recent New York Timespiece that the pursuit of happiness is a “recipe for neurosis.”

But is this the whole story? Are we doomed to fail at the pursuit of happiness?

It depends. The difference between effectively and ineffectively pursuing happiness may all be in how we go about it. Research suggests that people who strive to feel happy all of the time may suffer disappointment, and people who pursue happiness as if it were the only thing that matters may, ironically, chase happiness away.

But these are not the only ways you can go about pursuing happiness. Another approach involves what I call “prioritizing positivity”: deliberately organizing your day-to-day life so that it contains situations that naturally give rise to positive emotions. This way of pursuing happiness involves carving out time in your daily routine to do things that you genuinely love, whether it be writing, gardening, or connecting with loved ones. Prioritizing positivity also involves heavily weighing the positive emotional consequences of major life decisions, like taking a new job, which have implications for the daily situations in which you will regularly find yourself. This way of pursuing happiness means proactively putting yourself in contexts that spontaneously trigger positive emotions.

For years I’ve studied prioritizing positivity, and through scientific research, I’ve found that it goes hand-in-hand with optimal mental health. That is, the people who pursue happiness by seeking out pleasant experiences as part of their everyday lives are happier. In stark contrast, people who strive to feel good every possible moment, as if it were possible to will oneself to be happy, appear to be following a recipe for unhappiness.

To test whether people are happier if they proactively seek out pleasant experiences as part of the framework for their everyday lives, I developed a prioritizing positivity scale to measure this tendency. The scale asks people how much they agree with statements such as, “What I decide to do with my time outside of work is influenced by how much I might experience positive emotions,” “My major decisions in life are influenced by how much I might experience positive emotions,” and “A priority for me is experiencing happiness in everyday life.” Together with Barbara Fredrickson and Sara Algoe, both professors of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, I hypothesized that people who scored higher on prioritizing positivity would be happier and less depressed.

Why did we predict this? One reason is that prioritizing positivity involves monitoring one’s daily itinerary, not one’s moment-to-moment emotional experience. As research has revealed, the mere act of monitoring one’s happiness from one second to the next may get in the way of positive emotions. By contrast, we thought a more effective strategy would be “situation selection,” which involves approaching (or avoiding) situations that naturally trigger certain emotions. Going for a walk with your partner after dinner is one way you might use situation selection to experience a feeling of tranquility. The tendency to prioritize positivity draws upon this strategy.

We also predicted that prioritizing positivity would predict greater happiness and fewer symptoms of depression because of its relevance to daily life. The “highs” we get from one-time events like going on vacation or winning a prize wear off over time. As a result, effectively pursuing happiness may require engaging regularly in behaviors that promote happiness. By its nature, prioritizing positivity increases the chance that we will weave these positive behaviors into our daily lives rather than just maintaining a general desire for happiness or expecting it to come from a few isolated events.

To test our hypothesis that people high in prioritizing positivity would be happier and less depressed, we ran a study surveying more than 200 adults, ranging in age from 21 to 87. The adults completed the prioritizing positivity scale, as well as questionnaires measuring their levels of positive emotions, negative emotions, symptoms of depression, and life satisfaction.

We also administered a questionnaire measuring the extent to which they value happiness to an extreme, obsessive degree—they had to indicate how much they agreed with statements such as, “How happy I am at any given moment says a lot about how worthwhile my life is” and “I value things in life only to the extent that they influence my personal happiness.” This scale measures a way of relating to happiness that previously has been shown by Iris Mauss and her colleagues to predict less happiness and more symptoms of depression. Our team wanted to replicate this effect and also pit prioritizing positivity against the extreme valuing of happiness. Would only one of them be positively related to emotional well-being?

Indeed, that’s what the data told us. Our results, published recently in the journal Emotion, show that people who scored higher on the prioritizing positivity scale felt more positive emotions, fewer negative emotions, more life satisfaction, and fewer depressive symptoms than people who scored lower on that scale. People who scored higher on valuing happiness to an extreme showed the opposite pattern: They felt fewer positive emotions, more negative emotions, less life satisfaction, and more depressive symptoms. Both tendencies place a premium on happiness, yet one appears to be effective and healthy whereas the other does not.

So what are the real-world implications of these findings? The science on the deliberate pursuit of happiness is young, so any prescriptions for happiness must be offered with the caveat that the research is still evolving and conclusions might be subject to change. So far, however, I do have some speculations, based on my research, about how people might more effectively pursue happiness.

First, let go of extreme ways of relating to your happiness. Don’t set the unrealistic goal of feeling positive emotions all—or even most—of the time. Just because you’re striving to experience happiness doesn’t mean you should be striving to feel joy, contentment, gratitude, peace (or any other flavor of positive emotion) every second of the day. This is unrealistic, because life invariably contains hassles and disappointments—and, for many, chronic stress. The negative emotions that arise from negative life events, big or small, are natural and help us better understand ourselves—they provide vital information about what we value and what might need to change in our lives. For instance, feeling a wave of anxiety about your physical health may actually motivate you to improve your dietary habits.

Letting go of wanting to feel happy all the time also encourages less self-consciousness about happiness. This may be helpful because many peak, pleasant experiences, characterized by total absorption in an activity, a phenomenon known as “flow,” are marked by a lack of self-awareness.

Second, reflect on the activities that give you joy or contentment. This thought experiment should be highly personalized. For some, the activities that spark happiness are cooking elaborate meals and attending public lectures. For others, the activities are watching basketball and going to their children’s soccer practices. (If you have trouble coming up with ideas, here are two activities that, research has shown, elicit positive emotions in most people: connecting with a loved one and doing something physically active.)

Finally, once you think of a couple of activities, schedule them into your upcoming week. To ensure that you actually do them, consider transforming the activity into a social obligation. If running is something you enjoy, set up a specific time to go running with a friend, so that you’re more likely to follow through. Repeatedly incorporate these activities into your daily life; they don’t have to assume large blocks of your time. If carving out even 20 minutes each day to read a novel inserts a dose of tranquility into your life, then incorporate this ritual into your daily routine.

The pursuit of happiness is not easy. If people attempt it with unrealistic expectations and too much attention, they risk sabotaging it. But this doesn’t mean you should give up on trying to be happy. It may be more effective to adjust your daily routine so that it includes activities that naturally spark interest or contentment. Seeking happiness, although a delicate art, may still be a worthwhile pursuit.

By Laura Catalino




Is a Happy Life Different from a Meaningful One?

By Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh

Philosophers, researchers, spiritual leaders—they’ve all debated what makes life worth living. Is it a life filled with happiness or a life filled with purpose and meaning? Is there even a difference between the two? Think of the human rights activist who fights oppression but ends up in prison—is she happy? Or the social animal who spends his nights (and some days) jumping from party to party—is that the good life?

These aren’t just academic questions. They can help us determine where we should invest our energy to lead the life we want.

Recently some researchers have explored these questions in depth, trying to tease apart the differences between a meaningful life and a happy one. Their research suggests there’s more to life than happiness—and even calls into question some previous findings from the field of positive psychology, earning it both a fair amount of press coverage and criticism.

The controversy surrounding it raises big questions about what happiness actually means: While there may be more to life than happiness, there may also be more to “happiness” than pleasure alone.

Five differences between a happy life and a meaningful one

“A happy life and a meaningful life have some differences,” says Roy Baumeister, a Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. He bases that claim on a paper he published last year in the Journal of Positive Psychology, co-authored with researchers at the University of Minnesota and Stanford.

Baumeister and his colleagues surveyed 397 adults, looking for correlations between their levels of happiness, meaning, and various other aspects of their lives: their behavior, moods, relationships, health, stress levels, work lives, creative pursuits, and more.

They found that a meaningful life and a happy life often go hand-in-hand—but not always. And they were curious to learn more about the differences between the two. Their statistical analysis tried to separate out what brought meaning to one’s life but not happiness, and what brought happiness but not meaning.

Their findings suggest that meaning (separate from happiness) is not connected with whether one is healthy, has enough money, or feels comfortable in life, while happiness (separate from meaning) is. More specifically, the researchers identified five major differences between a happy life and a meaningful one.

    • Happy people satisfy their wants and needs, but that seems largely irrelevant to a meaningful life. Therefore, health, wealth, and ease in life were all related to happiness, but not meaning.
    • Happiness involves being focused on the present, whereas meaningfulness involves thinking more about the past, present, and future—and the relationship between them.In addition, happiness was seen as fleeting, while meaningfulness seemed to last longer.
    • Meaningfulness is derived from giving to other people; happiness comes from what they give to you. Although social connections were linked to both happiness and meaning, happiness was connected more to the benefits one receives from social relationships, especially friendships, while meaningfulness was related to what one gives to others—for example, taking care of children. Along these lines, self-described “takers” were happier than self-described “givers,” and spending time with friends was linked to happiness more than meaning, whereas spending more time with loved ones was linked to meaning but not happiness.
    • Meaningful lives involve stress and challenges. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness, which suggests that engaging in challenging or difficult situations that are beyond oneself or one’s pleasures promotes meaningfulness but not happiness.
    • Self-expression is important to meaning but not happiness. Doing things to express oneself and caring about personal and cultural identity were linked to a meaningful life but not a happy one. For example, considering oneself to be wise or creative was associated with meaning but not happiness.

One of the more surprising findings from the study was that giving to others was associated with meaning, rather than happiness, while taking from others was related to happiness and not meaning. Though many researchers have found a connection between giving and happiness, Baumeister argues that this connection is due to how one assigns meaning to the act of giving.

“If we just look at helping others, the simple effect is that people who help others are happier,” says Baumeister. But when you eliminate the effects of meaning on happiness and vice versa, he says, “then helping makes people less happy, so that all the effect of helping on happiness comes by way of increasing meaningfulness.”

Baumeister’s study raises some provocative questions about research in positive psychology that links kind, helpful—or “pro-social”—activity to happiness and well-being. Yet his research has also touched off a debate about what psychologists—and the rest of us—really mean when we talk about happiness.

What is happiness, anyway?

Researchers, just like other people, have disagreed about the definition of “happiness” and how to measure it.

Some have equated happiness with transient emotional states or even spikes of activity in pleasure centers of the brain, while others have asked people to assess their overall happiness or life satisfaction. Some researchers, like Ed Diener of the University of Illinois, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, have tried to group together these aspects of happiness under the term “subjective well-being,” which encompasses assessments of positive and negative emotions as well as overall life satisfaction. These differences in definitions of happiness have sometimes led to confusing—or even contradictory—findings.

For instance, in Baumeister’s study, familial relationships—like parenting—tended to be tied to meaning more than happiness. Support for this finding comes from researchers like Robin Simon of Wake Forest University, who looked at happiness levels among 1,400 adults and found that parents generally reported less positive emotion and more negative emotions than people without kids. She concluded that, while parents may report more purpose and meaning than nonparents, they are generally less happy than their childless peers.

This conclusion irks happiness researcher Sonja Lyubormirsky, of the University of California, Riverside, who takes issue with studies that “try too hard to rule out everything related to happiness” from their analysis but still draw conclusions about happiness.

“Imagine everything that you think would be great about parenting, or about being a parent,” says Lyubomirsky. “If you control for that—if you take it out of the equation—then of course parents are going to look a lot less happy.”

In a recent study, she and her colleagues measured happiness levels and meaning in parents, both in a “global” way—having them assess their overall happiness and life satisfaction—and while engaged in their daily activities. Results showed that, in general, parents were happier and more satisfied with their lives than non-parents, and parents found both pleasure and meaning in childcare activities, even in the very moments when they were engaged in those activities.

“Being a parent leads to all of these good things: It gives you meaning in life, it gives you goals to pursue, it can make you feel more connected in your relationships,” says Lyubomirsky. “You can’t really talk about happiness without including all of them.”

Lyubomirsky feels that researchers who try to separate meaning and happiness may be on the wrong track, because meaning and happiness are inseparably intertwined.

“When you feel happy, and you take out the meaning part of happiness, it’s not really happiness,” she says.

Yet this is basically how Baumeister and his colleagues defined happiness for the purpose of their study. So although the study referred to “happiness,” says Lyubomirsky, perhaps it was actually looking at something more like “hedonic pleasure”—the part of happiness that involves feeling good without the part that involves deeper life satisfaction.

Is there happiness without pleasure?

But is it ever helpful to separate out meaning from pleasure?

Some researchers have taken to doing that by looking at what they call “eudaimonic happiness,” or the happiness that comes from meaningful pursuits, and “hedonic happiness”—the happiness that comes from pleasure or goal fulfillment.

A recent study by Steven Cole of the UCLA School of Medicine, and Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that people who reported more eudaimonic happiness had stronger immune system function than those who reported more hedonic happiness, suggesting that a life of meaning may be better for our health than a life seeking pleasure.

Similarly, a 2008 article in the Journal of Happiness Studies reports several positive health effects that have been associated with eudaimonic happiness, including less reactivity to stress, less insulin resistance (which means less chance of developing diabetes), higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, better sleep, and brain activity patterns that have been linked to decreased levels of depression.

But happiness researcher Elizabeth Dunn thinks the distinction between eudaimonic and hedonic happiness is murky.

“I think it’s a distinction that intuitively makes a lot of sense but doesn’t actually hold up under the lens of science,” says Dunn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

Dunn has authored numerous studies showing that giving to others increases happiness, both in the moment, as measured by positive emotions alone, and in terms of overall life satisfaction. In a recently published paper, she and her colleagues surveyed data from several countries and found supporting evidence for this connection, including findings that showed subjects randomly assigned to buy items for charity reported higher levels of positive emotion—a measure of hedonic happiness—than participants assigned to buy the same items for themselves, even when the spending did not build or strengthen social ties.

“I think my own work really supports the idea that eudaimonic and hedonic well-being are surprisingly similar and aren’t as different as one might expect,” says Dunn. “To say that there’s one pathway to meaning, and that it’s different than the pathway to pleasure, is false.”

Like Lyubomirsky, she insists that meaning and happiness go hand-in-hand. She points to the work of researchers who’ve found that positive emotions can help establish deeper social ties—which many argue is the most meaningful part of life—and to University of Missouri psychologist Laura King’s research, which found that feeling positive emotions helps people see the “big picture” and notice patterns, which can help one aim for more meaningful pursuits and interpret one’s experience as meaningful.

In addition, she argues that the measurements used to distinguish eudaimonic from hedonic happiness are too highly correlated to separate out in this way—statistically speaking, doing so can make your results unreliable.

As University of Pennsylvania psychologist James Coyne—according to Dunn, a statistical “hardhead”—wrote in a 2013 blog post, trying to distinguish eudaimonic well-being by controlling for hedonic well-being and other factors leaves you with something that’s not really eudaimonia at all. He compares it to taking a photo of siblings who look alike, removing everything that makes them resemble each other, and then still calling the photos representative of the siblings.

“If we were talking about people, we probably couldn’t even recognize a family resemblance between the two,” he writes.

In other words, just because it’s statistically possible to remove the influence of one variable on another doesn’t mean that what you end up with is something meaningfully distinct.

“If you parcel out meaning from happiness, the happiness factor may go away,” says Dunn. “But, in terms of people’s daily experience, is it actually the case that people face genuine tradeoffs between happiness and meaning? I don’t think so.”

Can you have it all?

Baumeister, though, clearly believes it is useful to make distinctions between meaning and happiness—in part to encourage more people to seek meaningful pursuits in life whether or not doing so makes them feel happy. Still, he recognizes that the two are closely tied.

“Having a meaningful life contributes to being happy and being happy may also contribute to finding life more meaningful,” he says. “I think that there’s evidence for both of those.”

But one piece of warning: If you are aiming strictly for a life of hedonic pleasure, you may be on the wrong path to finding happiness. “For centuries, traditional wisdom has been that simply seeking pleasure for its own sake doesn’t really make you happy in the long run,” he says.

In fact, seeking happiness without meaning would probably be a stressful, aggravating, and annoying proposition, argues Baumeister.

Instead, when aspiring to a well-lived life, it might make more sense to look for things you find meaningful—deep relationships, altruism, and purposeful self-expression, for example—than to look for pleasure alone… even if pleasure augments one’s sense of meaning, as King suggests.

“Work toward long-term goals; do things that society holds in high regard—for achievement or moral reasons,” he says. “You draw meaning from a larger context, so you need to look beyond yourself to find the purpose in what you’re doing.”

Chances are that you’ll also find pleasure—and happiness—along the way.




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Because the sun will shine again! How to Burn Major Calories in 6 Minutes before Breakfast

6-Minute Morning Workout

6 minute morning workout!

Morning workouts don’t just have an impact on your health, but it also helps you set the tone for the rest of the day.

University of Michigan reported that working out in the morning not only elevates your metabolism, increasing the amount of calories your body burns but also improves your sleep cycle and boosts energy by getting an endorphin rush.

With all the added benefits morning workouts provide, squeezing in your sweat session before jumping into shower is not just about exercise, it’s a way of life that supports weight loss, optimum health and positive outlook on the day (and life!).

If that’s not enough for you, how does burning major calories in 6 minutes before breakfast sound?

Too good? Check this out.

Science says 4 minutes is enough for burning major calories.

Dr. Tabata who studied training protocols to effectively train an Olympic skater found that 4 minutes of HIIT can increase both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity and boost your resting metabolic rate more than long and steady cardio workouts.

The secret to this staggering result is in the workout intensity.

Tabata protocol (yes, you guessed it! That same doctor ended up coming up with his own protocol and it’s widely used amongst professional athletes and fitness gurus.) is done in a way that you alternate high intensity exercise with a little rest and complete several rounds.

The result is, you trigger the affterburn effect. It’s the effect you only get to achieve when you max out yourself.

Your body simply gets a heavy load of work that it takes energy to come back to the pre-exercise state.

This means, you burn major calories during the 4 minutes up to 48 hours post workout.

To sum up, your calories burned from this extremely short workout is greater than some 45 minute cardio workout that only burns calories while you are on the treadmill, not after.

Whether you are looking to kick start your energy for the day or jump start your metabolism to burn more and lose fat, this workout is definitely worth giving it a try.

This 6-minute morning workout is a HIIT style workout that uses 4 best bodyweight exercises that target various parts of your body including your most stubborn body parts: butt, thighs, abs, and back of your arms (triceps).


Let’s take a look at each exercise and what body part it works to tone and slim down:

Squats: Squats are the secret weapon to slimmer thighs, firmer butt and leaner legs.

Almost all workout routines that have squats burn more calories than the ones without! and we are not exaggerating. Squats are that effective at burning major calories and toning the butt, hips and legs.

When considering squat’s primary target, the gluteus maximus (gluteus) being the largest muscle out of over 600 skeletal muscles in your body, it’s no surprise that squats burn more calories than others that target smaller muscles by expending the most amount of energy.

Push-ups: Pushup is a classic bodyweight exercise that strengthens your body and sculpts your upper body. Push-ups are often considered an arm or shoulder workout, but in fact, it has a high core engagement.

It engages the entire core just as planks do, but more intensely than a simple plank hold (because of the pushup motions).

It’s a great way to get a stronger core, melt your body fat and lose the stomach rolls without actually doing an “abs workout”.

Push-up, by the way, is by far the best full-body or upper body exercise you can do just with your bodyweight. You can’t go wrong with it.

Plank: The plank does everything from engaging the abs to sculpting your entire midsection. It is excellent at working every part of your stomach and not leaving a bit of stomach flab on the table.

It wipes out your stomach fat and gives you a stronger core if you incorporate planks into your daily routines.

As effective as it can be, its simplicity tends to get people underestimate the power of an isometric hold.

While most abs and core exercises involve dynamic movements, plank is done by simply holding the plank position for 30-60 second.

By doing so, it has the benefit of reaching the deep stabilizing muscles in your core and strengthening them.

According to Dr. Jinger Gottschall, assistant professor of Kinesiology at Penn State University, the plank is a superior core exercise to the crunch or sit-up because it provides “more three-dimensional activation, from hip to shoulder, whereas the crunch is an isolated move that hits just your abs.” She came to this conclusion after researching the benefits of planks and comparing them with other popular and most widely performed exercises such as sit-ups and crunches.

She adds that planks not only strengthen the core, but also the shoulders and hips—and you can improve your balance if you do variations with your arm or leg.

Bicycle Crunch: Although the basic crunch may not be as strong of an exercise as the plank, it’s variant, the bicycle crunch is a different breed.

According to a study sponsored by ACE, the bicycle crunch is one of the top abdominal exercises among 12 other abs workouts.

The bicycle crunch not only works the six-pack muscles (the outer layer abdominal muscles) but also the obliques, giving you a slimmer waistline.

For all your love handle problem, leave it to the bicycle crunch.

It can make it disappear by melting all the fat away from the sides of your stomach.

HIIT, short for high-intensity-interval training not only burns calories and fat during the workout but also continues to burn calories hours after your session (unlike a typical low to moderate 30 minute cardio workout.)


6 Minute Morning Workout Routine by Fitwirr

Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat or gain lean muscle tone, this HIIT total-body workout will rev up your metabolism and make body more efficient at burning fat.

Not having enough time to workout is no longer an excuse to skip your routine, get up 6 minutes earlier every morning to crush calories and burn fat before breakfast and shower.

“Get this 6-Minute Morning Workout in. You’ll have a reason to shower.”

It’ll not only give you a reason to shower but also set your day right before heading out the door.

Do this short yet intense workout before your morning shower to get fit and lean.

Complete all four moves in sequence with minimal rest in between the exercises. Do 1-3 sets.

6 Minute Morning Workout Routine

A1: Squats

How to Do Squats

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Contract your abs and lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Pause, and return back up to the starting position. Continue for the prescribe number of repetitions.

A2: Push-ups

How to Do a Push-up

  1. Get down on all your fours in a pushup position with your arms straight and your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  3. Pause, and then push back up. Continue for the prescribe number of repetitions

B1: Plank Exercise

How to Do a Plank Exercise

  1. Get down on the floor and lay face down on your stomach and bend your elbows and rest your weight no your forearms and not on your hands.
  2. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. brace your abs and Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine.?

B2: Bicycle Crunch

How to Do Bicycle Crunches

  1. Lie flat on the floor with lower back on the ground. Put your hands behind your head, without locking your fingers together then bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blade off the ground.
  2. Straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee.
  3. Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows. Now switch sides and do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep.
  4. Continue alternating from side to side until completing the prescribed number of reps.

If you enjoy this 6-minute morning workout, then you’ll love performing our 6-Minute Daily Workouts for the next 30 days. Each day you’ll do the Workout of the Day for 6 minutes to burn calories and burn fat before jumping into the shower. You’ll love the results after the 30 days!





by Misato Alexandre In Beginner’s Workout Guide


23 Natural Alternatives for Depression

Help combat depression the natural way
23 Natural Alternatives for depression

Many people unfortunately have struggled and continue to struggle with feelings of depression, general sadness, or intense sorrow and grief.

Plant products have historically been consumed and utilised for their nutritive and holistic benefits. Many plant materials are being researched for their therapeutic value for our mental health. Here are 23 natural substances, which can help to optimise our biochemistry, neurotransmitters and address nutrient deficiencies.


  1. Kava is safe and effective in treating anxiety disorders and depression.
  2. L-tryptophan is as effective as imipramine in treating depression.
  3. Saffron may be of therapeutic benefit in the treatment of mild to moderate depression and has similar efficacy as the drug imipramine.
  4. St. John’s Wort is as effective as Selective Serotoin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) in the treatment of Depressive Disorder, with a greater safety rating.
  5. St. John’s Wort’s cortisol reducing effect in brain may contribute to anti-depressive effect.
  6. Blue-green algae improves quality of life, mood, anxiety and depressive attitude in menopausal women.
  7. The omega-3 fatty acid EPA is as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in treating major depressive disorder.
  8. Goji improves sense of well-being and other indicators of good health.
  9. Homeopathic medicine is as effective and better tolerated than Prozac (fluoxetine) in the treatment of acute depression.
  10. Lavender fragrance had a beneficial effect on insomnia and depression in women college students.
  11. Lion’s Mane mushroom intake results in a reduction of depression and anxiety in mice by 4 weeks.
  12. Motherwort improves symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients with arterial hypertension.
  13. Omega-3 fatty acids were shown to be more effective than placebo for depression in both adults and children in small controlled studies and in an open study of bipolar depression.
  14. Rhodiola shows anti-depressive potency in patients with mild to moderate depression.
  15. Dietary intake of zinc was inversely associated with depression.
  16. Curcumin exhibits antidepressant properties.
  17. Lobelia has antidepressant properties.
  18. Nutmeg demonstrates antidepressant activity.
  19. Onion powder has an antidepressant-like effect in a rat behavioral model of depression.
  20. Panax ginseng extract exhibits antidepressant activity.
  21. Rosemary exhibits antidepressant action probably through the monoaminergic system.
  22. Valerian extract has anxiety-reducing and anti-depressant effects, but is not a sedative and does not interfere with muscle function.
  23. Folate may have a therapeutic role in treating depressive symptoms.



Chronic Pain and Craniosacral Therapy, Part 2

Can you recall a time you experienced a paper cut or were pricked by a thorn? Remember how sensitive your finger was to touch or perhaps to the slightest movement? The pain receptors in the area became easily stimulated, even with slight pressure. Yet, in a few days, the sensitivity decreased.

With chronic pain, the sensitivity does not decrease. Entire areas of the body might stay in a state of overwhelming sensitivity and pain. Nervous system tissue reacting in this way is referred to as being “facilitated,” which means the pain cells and pain pathways are overly reactive. Excessively reactive pain cells will tend to lose their ability to modulate input. It’s as though a magnifying glass is amplifying a vast and abnormal amount of sensory information into the area. This can then cause abnormal changes in the structure and function of the tissue innervated by the area of the affected spinal cord neurons, thus maintaining the sensation of chronic pain.

The facilitated sensory input might even cascade into other regions of the spinal cord and brain. The overflow of signals can irritate brain regions, leading to the ongoing perception of pain and the symptoms that often accompany chronic pain. Disturbance of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (sympathetics) often will lead to widespread bodily dysfunction. The sympathetic turmoil also contributes to chronic pain. “The sympathetics control the caliber of most of the vessels of the body. When the sympathetics are hyperirritable in a given area, in a given segment or in a peripheral distribution, there is a tendency for either exaggerated vasoconstriction or vasodilation. This contributes to chaos and the perpetuation of pathology. When you control the blood supply to a given area, you control its life; you control its capacity for recovery, its capacity to survive and maintain its integrity as a tissue.”7

Table illustrating path of chronic pain. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
The vascular stress caused by sympathetic nervous system imbalance can lead to more tissue aggravation and pain signaling. Also, “the sympathetic nervous system is an important participant in the maintenance of splinting.”8 Splinting is one way the body tries to avoid feeling pain – by rigidly contracting the muscles so minimal movement will occur. In these many ways, the unbridled responsive region(s) of the central and autonomic nervous systems might maintain the feeling of pain. This process also can produce a vast adverse affect on tissues such as nervous system cells, vascular structures, skeletal muscles, smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, glands, connective tissue, fascia, osseous tissue, skin and viscera.

What does all this mean to the bodywork practitioner? Simply put, normal tissue mobility is essential for this healing process, which is critical in addressing chronic pain. Enhanced mobility can help normalize vascular flow, decrease metabolic waste buildup, aid normal neural structure and function, de-facilitate affected spinal cord and brain areas, decrease adaptive body patterns that might be maintaining chronic-pain signals, and normalize autonomic nervous system function, thus decreasing abnormal strain on the associated somatic and visceral structures.

All this can help the body decrease the enormous strain chronic pain places on it, and help free the body from related suffering. In this highly individualized way, CranioSacral therapy might enhance the body’s ability to naturally correct the imbalance and dysfunction that might be contributing to painful patterns. CranioSacral therapy can assist the body in changing abnormal tissue-strain patterns residing in the depths of the brain and spinal cord, throughout the musculoskeletal system, and in the body as a whole. CST also can be used in combination with massage and other manual therapies as an effective treatment for chronic pain conditions.

References (for parts 1 and 2)

  1. Sternberg, S. “Chronic Pain: The Enemy Within.” USA Today, May 9, 2005.
  2. Purves, D., et al. Neuroscience. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland Massachusetts, 2001.
  3. Lidbeck, J. “Central Hyperexcitability in Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: A Conceptual Breakthrough with Multiple Clinical Implications,” Pain Management Clinic, Helsingborg, Sweden, Winter 2002.
  4. Torsney, C., and MacDermott, A.B. “A Painful Factor.” Nature, Vol. 438, December 2005.
  5. McCleskey, E.W. “New Player in Pain.” Nature, Vol. 424, August 2003.
  6. Upledger, J.E. “The Facilitated Segment.” Massage Therapy Journal, Summer 1989.
  7. Peterson, B. “The Collected Papers of Irvin M. Korr.” American Academy of Osteopathy, 1995.
  8. Peterson, B. “The Collected Papers of Irvin M. Korr.” American Academy of Osteopathy, 1995.



Tad Wanveer, LMT, CST-D, is a certified instructor for The Upledger Institute, where he was a staff clinician for more than five years. He earned his diploma in massage therapy in 1987 from the Swedish Institute of Massage and Allied Health Sciences in New York City. He currently runs a private practice in North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham area specializing in CranioSacral Therapy.




Chronic Pain and Craniosacral Therapy, Part 1

Craniosacral Therapy has proven to be a powerful complement to massage therapy in addressing chronic pain.

While massage can effectively address abnormal somatic patterns through the musculoskeletal system, CST approaches somatic disturbances through the craniosacral, fascial and central nervous systems.

Chronic pain can range from mild tissue irritation to intense suffering and disability affecting an individual’s entire body, psyche and life. What’s more, the perception of pain often persists long after the injured tissue has healed. This can cause compensatory patterns that continue to maintain the sensation of pain, eventually leading to abnormal somatic and visceral changes that frequently mask the primary cause of the chronic pain. “Nineteen percent of American adults, almost one in five, suffer from chronic pain.”1

CranioSacral Therapy can be used to identify and help the body change core patterns contributing to chronic pain. It also effectively addresses its associated symptoms, such as musculoskeletal imbalance, trigger points, myofascial dysfunction, chronic fatigue, immune system dysfunction, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, endocrine system dysfunction, stress, anxiety, hypothalamic dysfunction and sleep difficulties.

Irritation and abnormal activity of pain-processing elements and circuits throughout the body and nervous system contribute to chronic pain. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Figure 1:

Irritation and abnormal activity of pain-processing elements and circuits throughout the body and nervous system contribute to chronic pain.Chronic pain has a multitude of causes, including congenital disorders, spinal disorders, musculoskeletal imbalance, compensatory patterns, surgery, scar tissue, disease processes, trauma, infection, overuse, disuse and misuse. “The common denominator of conditions that cause chronic pain is irritation of the nociceptive (pain cell) endings, axons, or processing circuits causing abnormal activity that is interpreted as pain.”2

Recent research points to central nervous system adaptation as a common contributor to chronic pain. “Many chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes – including regional myofascial pain syndromes, whiplash pain syndromes, refractory work-related neck/shoulder pain, certain types of chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia and others – essentially might be explained by abnormalities in central pain modulation.”3

Body tissue often responds to pain through habitual muscle tension, postural distortion, diminished tissue mobility, thickening and congestion of the fascia, decreased blood flow to painful areas, a build-up of metabolic waste products, adverse strain on the peripheral, central and autonomic nervous system tissues, and an overall sense of fatigue.

Persistent peripheral nerve strain due to muscular imbalance, tension, injury or infection might lead to a flood of chronic activity and excessive sensitivity of local nociceptors. This can cause a continual bombardment of signals into the central nervous system. It’s as though there is a constant roar of pain information focused on the brain and spinal cord.

Body Response to Chronic Pain. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Figure 2:

Body Response to Chronic Pain.The central nervous system tissue might respond by undergoing any number of adaptive changes. Thickening and inflammation of the membrane layers surrounding the spinal cord and brain might occur, leading to irritation and lack of normal motion of central nervous system tissue, imbalance and restricted mobility of the spinal column, or adverse strain on the peripheral nervous system.

Spinal cord neurons receiving chronic pain signals from the periphery also can undergo long-term change due to the activation of microglial cells (central nervous system immune cells), because abnormally increased sensitivity (sensitization) of the nerve cells might occur. This can maintain a state of overwhelming activity of the pain pathways, thus causing constant pain sensation.

Normally, there is a balance of inhibitory and excitatory stimulation where the pain cell synapses (communicates) with the spinal cord neuron. However, decrease of inhibition at the synapse might occur. When this takes place, the neuron will tend to stay in a state of stimulation. This is another cause of excessive sensitivity and activity of pain pathway and chronic pain sensation.4

The spinal cord neurons and glial cells normally produce neurotrophic (vitalizing) elements that are transported to the innervated tissue. A distortion in this supply might occur, leading to tissue devitalization and irritation.5 This can lead to a further decrease of normal tissue mobility, which can increase irritation and chronic-pain signals. The nociceptor cells also produce elements secreted by the nerve cell endings (terminal ends) when they’re stimulated. These elements create inflammation and heightened sensation of the endings which, in turn, cause the terminal ends to overreact to stimulus and increase the area they receive stimulus from.

This might further create abnormal activity of the pain pathway, which can cause a loop of pain signal dysfunction from the periphery throughout the spinal cord, the autonomic nervous system and the brain. “A very small stimulus which might otherwise be censored out may cause an inappropriately large and indiscriminately wide-ranged neuronal response.”6



Tad Wanveer, LMT, CST-D, is a certified instructor for The Upledger Institute, where he was a staff clinician for more than five years. He earned his diploma in massage therapy in 1987 from the Swedish Institute of Massage and Allied Health Sciences in New York City. He currently runs a private practice in North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham area specializing in CranioSacral Therapy.




Craniosacral Therapy Introductory Course 28 Nov 2015 – 29 Nov 2015

After last weekend’s intro Craniosacral course success there is already a new date at Morley College. photo 5photo 2-2photo 2-1photo 1-1Here are some pictures of the last weekend. It was magical!

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28 Nov 2015 – 29 Nov 2015

Saturday Sunday
10:00 – 15:00
1 Weekend
Alfredo Hunter
Westminster Bridge Road

Thyroid and Parathyroid glands, Throat Chakra and Yoga Poses to Align and Balance it.

The Throat Chakra is the fifth chakra and it is the first of the higher or spiritual chakras on the “chakra ladder”. This chakra is located in the region of neck and shoulders and its colour is blue.

throat chakra

The gift of this chakra is accepting your originality, expressing your authentic voice and speaking your truth.

The energy of this chakra allows you to seek knowledge that is true, beyond limitations of time and space, beyond cultural and family conditioning.

The main challenge for the fifth chakra is doubt and negative thinking. When you gain and verify your knowledge through meditation and direct experience, then doubt and negativity are removed.

The “way of the Throat Chakra” is the way of inspired creativity, seeking and sharing of the truth. It is the way of standing up for what you believe, saying no when you need to, and being open and honest in what you say.

The fifth chakra is linked directly to your personal integrity and a sense of honour.

As a communication centre, it not only allows you to express who you are and what you stand for, but also allows you to listen deeply to another. A person with an open Visuddha chakra is a good listener, she enables another person to have the experience of being heard – one of the most profound human needs.

Throat Chakra Affirmations

I am open, clear, and honest in my communication.
I have a right to speak my truth.
I communicate my feelings with ease.
I express myself creatively through speech, writing, or art.
I have a strong will that lets me resolve my challenges.
I nourish my spirit through creativity.
I live an authentic life.
I have integrity.
I love to share my experiences and wisdom.
I know when it is time to listen.
I express my gratitude towards life.
I listen to my body and my feelings to know what my truth is.
I take good care of my physical body.
I am at peace.

Sanskrit name: Visuddha
Element: Akasha
Color: Blue
Shape: Crescent
Petals of the lotus: Sixteen
Seed sound: Ham
Vowel sound: Eee
Rights: To speak
Endocrine gland: Thyroid and Parathyroid gland
Physical association: Throat, ears, mouth, shoulders, and neck
Psychological function: Communication
Identity: Creative identity
Developmental stage: 7 -12 years
Challenge: Lies
Plane: Human plane, where the dark night of soul ends
Planets: Mercury
Deity: Sadasiva, Sakini
Mythological Animal: Elephant, bull, lion
Incense: Frankincense
Herb: Chamomile
Sephira: Geburah, Chesed

Throat Chakra Yoga Poses to Align and Balance Your 5th Chakra

Before you begin to practice yoga, check with your doctor.
Some poses can be challenging for the body and it is best to practice with a qualified yoga teacher. Yoga should never hurt.

The best throat chakra yoga poses are those that open and strengthen the throat area.

Situated at the base of your throat, the Throat Chakra is associated with space ,the ether, or the void. This is the place where nothing exists – only the pure sound of vibration.

According to traditional yogic wisdom, the Universe was created by the sound of “om” and some chakra experts, like Anodea Judith, say that the throat chakra is simply associated with sound. This elemental sound is the cellular wisdom coded into the strands of DNA and RAN locked in the cells of the body.

It is also the emptiness, the void in between the cells, between all the spaces, carrying the wisdom of the universe. It is the space where creation begins.

Naturally then, vocally toning your throat chakra is an incredibly powerful balancing tool. And physically opening the front and the back of the throat chakra is important as well.

The following poses help open and balance your throat chakra:

Plow Pose, HalasanaScreen shot 2015-05-26 at 11.19.15     Tue  26 May 2015

This posture provides very strong opening for both throat and heart chakras.

Both the throat and the heart are protected in the front and exposed and opened at the back.

This is different from how we usually open the throat or heart chakra. Most of the time we open the front of the body. We are doing something new here. Changing our pattern of opening.

The posture is called the plow pose, because symbolically, we are “plowing” through the field to implant new patterns of behavior which serve us better in our lives.

You may find that you will need a folded towel underneath your shoulders.

  1. Lie on your back with your arms by your side. Breathe in.
  2. On an out breath, bend your knees and bring your thighs up towards your belly.
  3. Engage your core muscles and lift your bottom off the floor.
  4. Place your heads on your lower back and begin to straighten your legs upwards.
  5. Stabilize in this posture and take a few breaths. Allow your face, scalp, and neck to release. Observe your breath.
  6. When you feel you released tension from your face, neck and shoulders and your breathing is even and steady, slowly drop one leg behind your head.
  7. If your breath remains steady, drop the other leg behind your head.
  8. Hold the posture for few breaths and visualize your throat and heart chakra gently opening to the power and flow of energy.

Fish Pose, MatsyasanaScreen shot 2015-05-26 at 11.18.19     Tue  26 May 2015

Feel the power of self-expression in your throat. Visualize yourself in a situation where you want to express yourself and your feelings. Feel your own truth.With this throat chakra yoga pose, you open the front of your neck. When you are in this pose, visualize blue light coming into your throat chakra. See your chakra spinning and vibrating with energy.

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs fully extended in front of you.
  2. Place your hands on the floor behind you, with your fingertips just underneath your buttocks.
  3. Slowly move your elbows out of the way and allow the head to go back. Always maintain control, never allow the head to just flop back.
  4. Level yourself on the crown so you feel supported.
  5. Continue moving your arms out of the way.
  6. You can either let your arms rest at your side, or you can bring your palms together over your heart in a prayer position. This will enhance the flow of prana in the upper body.

    Cobra Pose, BhujangasanaScreen shot 2015-05-26 at 11.26.39     Tue  26 May 2015

    Cobra pose allows for the prana to be directed into the heart and throat chakras, rather than scattered around. This yoga pose also allows for strengthening of the entire shoulder area, providing more stable support for the shoulder.

    1. Lie on your stomach with your feet extended out, the tops of your feet touching the mat and your forehead touching the ground. Your hands are under the shoulders.
    2. Press the tops of your feet into the mat and allow your knees to lift off the ground slightly. Let your pubic bone drop down into the mat to stabilize your lower back.
    3. Take a breath in as your raise your head lifting the upper body using the power of your back. Breath out. Continue engaging your legs and pushing your pelvis into the floor to protect your lower back.
    4. On your next in breath use the power of your arms to lift your body until you have extended as far as you can go. Make sure your arms are not fully straightened as this may hyper extend your elbows and destabilize the pose.
    5. Feel your chest opening and your whole front of the body opening gently. Feel the prana flowing through your chest and into your throat.
    6. Take two to three full breaths in this pose and then release.