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Old 05-15-2010, 10:17 PM   #1
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What makes us happy?

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What allows people to work, and love, as they grow old? By the time the Grant Study men had entered retirement, Vaillant, who had then been following them for a quarter century, had identified seven major factors that predict healthy aging, both physically and psychologically.

Employing mature adaptations was one. The others were education, stable marriage, not smoking, not abusing alcohol, some exercise, and healthy weight. Of the 106 Harvard men who had five or six of these factors in their favor at age 50, half ended up at 80 as what Vaillant called “happy-well” and only 7.5 percent as “sad-sick.” Meanwhile, of the men who had three or fewer of the health factors at age 50, none ended up “happy-well” at 80. Even if they had been in adequate physical shape at 50, the men who had three or fewer protective factors were three times as likely to be dead at 80 as those with four or more factors.

What factors don’t matter? Vaillant identified some surprises. Cholesterol levels at age 50 have nothing to do with health in old age. While social ease correlates highly with good psychosocial adjustment in college and early adulthood, its significance diminishes over time. The predictive importance of childhood temperament also diminishes over time: shy, anxious kids tend to do poorly in young adulthood, but by age 70, are just as likely as the outgoing kids to be “happy-well.” Vaillant sums up: “If you follow lives long enough, the risk factors for healthy life adjustment change. There is an age to watch your cholesterol and an age to ignore it.”

The study has yielded some additional subtle surprises. Regular exercise in college predicted late-life mental health better than it did physical health. And depression turned out to be a major drain on physical health: of the men who were diagnosed with depression by age 50, more than 70 percent had died or were chronically ill by 63. More broadly, pessimists seemed to suffer physically in comparison with optimists, perhaps because they’re less likely to connect with others or care for themselves.
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Vaillant became a kind of godfather to the field, and a champion of its message that psychology can improve ordinary lives, not just treat disease. But in many ways, his role in the movement is as provocateur. Last October, I watched him give a lecture to Seligman’s graduate students on the power of positive emotions—awe, love, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, joy, hope, and trust (or faith). “The happiness books say, ‘Try happiness. You’ll like it a lot more than misery’—which is perfectly true,” he told them. But why, he asked, do people tell psychologists they’d cross the street to avoid someone who had given them a compliment the previous day?

In fact, Vaillant went on, positive emotions make us more vulnerable than negative ones. One reason is that they’re future-oriented. Fear and sadness have immediate payoffs—protecting us from attack or attracting resources at times of distress. Gratitude and joy, over time, will yield better health and deeper connections—but in the short term actually put us at risk. That’s because, while negative emotions tend to be insulating, positive emotions expose us to the common elements of rejection and heartbreak.

To illustrate his point, he told a story about one of his “prize” Grant Study men, a doctor and well-loved husband. “On his 70th birthday,” Vaillant said, “when he retired from the faculty of medicine, his wife got hold of his patient list and secretly wrote to many of his longest-running patients, ‘Would you write a letter of appreciation?’ And back came 100 single-spaced, desperately loving letters—often with pictures attached. And she put them in a lovely presentation box covered with Thai silk, and gave it to him.” Eight years later, Vaillant interviewed the man, who proudly pulled the box down from his shelf. “George, I don’t know what you’re going to make of this,” the man said, as he began to cry, “but I’ve never read it.” “It’s very hard,” Vaillant said, “for most of us to tolerate being loved.”
What Makes Us Happy? - Magazine - The Atlantic
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Old 05-15-2010, 10:57 PM   #2
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Never got a flash out of cocktails,
When I got some flesh off the bone.
Never got a lift out of Lear jets,
When I can fly way back home.

~Keith Richards



My faith keeps me happy.
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Old 05-15-2010, 11:01 PM   #3
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Never got a flash out of cocktails,
When I got some flesh off the bone.
Never got a lift out of Lear jets,
When I can fly way back home.

~Keith Richards



My faith keeps me happy.
That is one of my favourite Stones songs. Incidentally I read recently that he has given up the booze.
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Old 05-15-2010, 11:11 PM   #4
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That is one of my favourite Stones songs. Incidentally I read recently that he has given up the booze.

Richards gave his guitar talents to a gospel album a few years ago.

Don't let that devilish grin fool you.
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Old 05-16-2010, 12:20 AM   #5
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'Washing the dishes to wash the dishes



Thirty years ago, when I was still a novice

at Tu Hieu Pagoda, washing the dishes was

hardly a pleasant task. During the Season of

Retreat when all the monks returned to the

monastery, two novices had to do all the cooking

and wash the dishes for sometimes well over

one hundred monks. There was no soap. We had

only ashes, rice husks, and coconut husks, and

that was all. Cleaning such a high stack of bowls

was a chore, especially during the winter when

the water was freezing cold. Then you had to

heat up a big pot of water before you could do

any scrubbing. Nowadays one stands in a kitchen

equipped with liquid soap, special scrubpads,

and even running hot water which makes it all

the more agreeable. It is easier to enjoy washing

the dishes now. Anyone can wash them in a

hurry, then sit down and enjoy a cup of tea

afterwards. I can see a machine for washing

clothes, although I wash my own things out by

hand, but a dishwashing machine is going just

a little too far!

While washing the dishes one should only

be washing the dishes, which means that while

washing the dishes one should be completely

aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes.

At first glance, that might seem a little silly:

why put so much stress on a simple thing? But

that's precisely the point. The fact that I am

standing there and washing these bowls is a

wondrous reality. I'm being completely myself,

following my breath, conscious of my presence,

and conscious of my thoughts and actions.

There's no way I can be tossed around mindlessly

like a bottle slapped here and there on

the waves."'



'Thus mindfulness is at the same time a

means and an end, the seed and the fruit.'
Thich Naht Hanh
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Old 05-17-2010, 05:58 AM   #6
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I read this Atlantic article when it came out last year. This is what stuck with me:

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Vaillant’s other main interest is the power of relationships. “It is social aptitude,” he writes, “not intellectual brilliance or parental social class, that leads to successful aging.” Warm connections are necessary—and if not found in a mother or father, they can come from siblings, uncles, friends, mentors. The men’s relationships at age 47, he found, predicted late-life adjustment better than any other variable, except defenses. Good sibling relationships seem especially powerful: 93 percent of the men who were thriving at age 65 had been close to a brother or sister when younger. In an interview in the March 2008 newsletter to the Grant Study subjects, Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
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Old 05-17-2010, 06:09 AM   #7
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What is the Light? (An Untested Hypothesis Suggesting that the Chemical in our brains by Which we are Able to Experience the Sensation of Being in Love is the Same Chemical That Caused "The Big Band" That Was The Birth of the Accelerating Universe)
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:11 AM   #8
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Well this is cool! You can see what meditators are trying to do with their right brain (I used to think it was the left brain).

YouTube - 1 My Stroke of Insight Jill Bolte Taylor

YouTube - 2 My Stroke of Insight Jill Bolte Taylor

Of course if both parts of the brain are there it's for a reason, so using both at the right moments is a good idea. So if you use the left brain to make wise choices and the right brain to alleviate emotional pain I think that's about as close as you can get to a good life.
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:03 PM   #9
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being awake
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:27 PM   #10
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Being asleep?
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:27 AM   #11
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I need the education and healthy weight, like, RIGHT NOW, to feel happy.
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:16 AM   #12
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Scrapbooks.
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:20 PM   #13
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Thich Naht Hanh
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:00 PM   #14
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Well he's right. If I'm thinking "when I get to Bermuda the first thing I'm going to do.." while I'm washing dishes it will be irritating and I'll rush washing the dishes. Yet if I only focus my concentration on the dishes and when I need to plan my vacation to Bermuda I do so at the right moment mental peace is achieved.

I think that when people listen to music while driving or listen to an iPod while running just reduce their concentration for no good reason and feel they need to be entertained all the time. When I drive I only think about driving which is why my driving improves. When I run I stay in the present moment like a game and my run is better. I also find I run farther when I'm in the present moment. If I let my subvocalization ego complain I'm out of breath I tend to stop before I really need to. The brain feels so much better staying on the right lobe and it allows relaxation so when you get back into the left lobe at work you are rested.

When I ruminate in a scatterbrained way it's almost impossible to be happy.
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