Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Maybe you've got an ailment that traditional medicine just isn't working for, or you might just be curious about healthier alternatives to the stuff big pharma is cramming down your throat. DISCLAIMER: Be aware that the following is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness, and you should always consult your physician before changing current treatments. Like many doctors, most people are under the impression that all alternative medicine is nonsense. It turns out though, with some due diligence, you can separate the actually-beneficial nuggets from the truly inane cult-offered chaff. So let's dive in! Keep in mind that the stuff that's good for you is usually pretty easy to spot, as things that work, often catch on quickly and become commonplace. They also follow a pretty basic foundational rule for the most part: anything that reduces stress and treats the mind and body as a single entity can have a significant impact on the prevention and management of disease. There is growing evidence that our emotions can influence resistance and immunity to infection and even canSer. There are numerous studies documenting the fact that positive outlooks by doctor and patient can have a beneficial course on a variety of disorders.
- Acupuncture: can often control chronic pain. I think it should be available at every hospital.
- Aromatherapy: has been shown to be a side-effect-free way to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and even help sexual performance.
- Biofeedback: manipulates brain waves to help control such "automatic" functions as muscle tension, heart rate, blood pressure, sleep regulation, and blood supply to the skin.
- Hypnosis: can be used to control pain, curb obsessive behaviors, and help you cope with painful memories. It's one of my favorites because through self-hypnosis, many of these issues can be managed by yourself, for free.
- Massage Therapy: varies with the therapist, and you should find one who is most effective for you. Massage therapy is a great way to relieve sore muscles and manage spasms.
- Meditation: reduces stress without any exercise, although a routine that incorporates moderate exercise would provide additional mind/body balance, which leads us to...
Yoga, Tai Chi, and other Oriental techniques: improve breathing, muscle function, and posture, all while producing a calming effect on your emotions. I'm surprised that these seem to just finally be making a break into mainstream workouts.
Q and A
If a doctor dismisses alternative therapies, should I still consider them, or just find another one?
It's not advisable to "go it alone," so before abandoning the conventional route, make sure that you have explored all the options. This may involve getting a second, or even third, opinion. Of course, you'll want to make sure you ask if they are just hesitant to suggest alternative therapies from lack of information/training, or if they are downright opposed to them. If they are completely closed-off to the idea or they tell you "There's nothing more I can do for you," then it's time to try another one.
When dealing with alternative medicines, there are all kinds of quacks and quackery... Are there telltale signs to watch out for?
Be wary of anyone who advertises or solicits you by mail with promises to cure what current medical knowledge says is incurable. If they try to sell you something that can make you "perform" at age 90, as you did when you were 20, make sure you walk away. Nothing short of a wig will restore a full head of hair, there are no magical canSer or chronic fatigue cures, and we can relieve the symptoms of arthritis, but not cure it. Anyone telling you differently is a quack, or at the very least, misinformed. Also be aware that quacks love to use the "conspiracy theory" angle - doctors, the government, or simply "they" are holding back treatments to line their pockets. Paranoia will only take your stress levels in the wrong direction, so stay away from anyone who tries to instill it.
No mention of herbal therapies?
Herbs (and supplements in general) can be a slippery slope. There are several, which are safe and effective, but no one should use them without first discussing them with their doctor. Herbs can interact with other medications that you may be taking. If your doctor has no experience with herbs, he should be able to recommend an herbalist. With that being said...
-Echinacea: works to prevent recurrent viral infections and reduces the severity of symptoms.
-Evening Primrose, Borage Seed, and Flaxseed Oils: all have anti-inflammatory properties. They contain gamma-linolenic acid, which is converted by the body to a form of prostaglandin, which reduces inflammation, and is the mechanism by which aspirin works.
-Feverfew: has been shown to prevent migraine headaches. It is a preventive only, not a treatment. It works only in 1/3 of all patients, and is a long, slow process, but may be worth trying.
-Garlic: one or two fresh, raw cloves daily, can lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, help thin blood, stimulate the immune system, and help control infections. It is less effective when cooked, and in my opinion, more effective raw than in odorless pill/capsule form.
-Ginko Biloba: may improve memory in the elderly. Research has shown that it can improve blood flow to the brain, heart, and legs.
-Saw Palmetto: should be considered by anyone who is troubled by symptoms of an enlarged prostate. If you decide to try saw palmetto, look for the words "fatty acid" or "lipophilic extract" on the label.
-St. John's Wort (hypericum): is an effective, mild antidepressant. It has few side effects, if any, and I always recommend it before considering more powerful agents. Definitely heed the drug interaction warning with this one though.
Now get out there and live a happy and healthy life! I mean it!
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Most great people in history have kept journals. Take a step towards being just like them, with the following information as your guide. The exercise of writing down reflections about events experienced each day is an invaluable way to evaluate your performance, allowing you to set higher standards of excellence for yourself, and it can also help you find new ways to solve difficult problems.
WHAT CAN A JOURNAL DO?
Many people resist keeping a journal because they think:
- They aren't good enough writers,
- Someone will read their innermost thoughts (heaven forbid!), or
- They have much more important things to do.
These reasons are just excuses, and you can't succeed in anything if you let worthless excuses stop you.
= A journal is for your own benefit, so your writing ability is only being judged by you. Practice makes perfect, and as long as you can read it, it's good enough for you to get started!
= In order to succeed, many people will need any number of other people to help them along their paths. Coaches, mentors, or even just confidants, can all help you better if you have a more complete understanding of your own self. You may find yourself actually asking others to read your journal (or at least parts of it), in order to help them help you. Crazy, I know!
= You need a way to evaluate your feelings and abilities, and also accept self-criticism in order to improve your weaknesses or build on your strengths. When is becoming a more effective and efficient human being, friend, relative, worker, etc... not on your priority list??
Instead of thinking of a journal as a list, in which you merely relate the day's events ad nauseum, relate it the diary you imagined (or even started) as a child - fill it with self-reflection, self-expression, and self-exploration. Emotions and opinions are paramount, meaning adjectives are your premium ingredient! The more descriptive you are, the easier it will be for you to recall your exact state of mind when you are looking back over your collective works.
A powerful benefit of thinking about your emotions, is that when you become consciously aware of them, you are more capable of shaping them. Woo woooooo (train noise)! Next stop: Emotional Stability.
Other powerful benefits of keeping a journal:
* Improve Self Expression. In a journal, or writing in general, you are able to express what you feel in ways that may be too difficult or even impossible at work, home, or especially out with friends. Getting drunk and spilling your proverbial guts, doesn't count as real self expression.
* Stress reduction. Expressing your anger in writing releases the emotional pressure that builds up when you hold feelings inside. Is it any wonder that many people say they feel calmer and spiritually at ease after a journal-writing session? Think of it as venting to your best friend.
* Stronger relationships. Writing about people you know will help you understand them better and put you in touch with your own feelings about them. When you're furious with someone close to you, discharging raw emotion in the privacy of the page enables you to work out solutions in advance, rather than face to face in an irrational outburst. Also consider that the other benefits discussed, will lead to a healthier individual en-total, meaning relationships in general will be easier for you to sustain.
* Better organizational skills. By structuring yourself to write regularly, you automatically develop stronger organization skills, such as list-making and time management. Needs and goals are also easier to clarify and prioritize once they are written out.
RULES OF JOURNALING
Oh great, now there are rules?!?
Keeping a journal is first and foremost and exercise in creative freedom.
Some people are inspired by an elegant bound notebook with fine paper, while others feel more comfortable letting the words flow onto loose-leaf sheets that can be clipped into a binder. As easy and convenient as it may be for you to keep your journal in a digital format, studies have shown that the "archaic" form of actually writing, for whatever reason, is much more powerful. You can always scan the documents into digital copies later.
Do your best to write something every single day. You can schedule 15-30 minutes at the same time each evening, or just pick up a pen when the mood hits you. If you're more of the latter style, try to make sure you keep the utensils (pen and paper) handy at all times, so you'll be ready when your fancy strikes.
Easy ways to get started:
- Put yourself in the mood. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth. This focuses your vision inward, clears a space in your mind, and eases the transition from workday reality to contemplation. Simply begin by asking yourself "What am I feeling at this moment?"
- Jot down a few lines to summarize the major high or low points of your day. This exercise is equivalent to stretching before working out or playing scales before jumping into Mozart's greatest hits on the piano.
Great job so far, you're well on your way!
Stay tuned for the next installment where I'll talk more about what to include in your writings, and how to get your flowjo kicking.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
For your health!
LETTING GO OF ANGER
You can do it! The single most important step in forgiveness is giving up the irrational belief beneath your anger - the demand that other people act in the way that you want.
TIP: Look for the should's in your thinking, i.e.:
- He shouldn't have done that to me;
- People shouldn't act this way;
- I've been good, decent, and caring so I should be rewarded.
When you find yourself having thoughts like this, challenge them. While it would be very nice for people to act decently and respectfully toward one another, is there any reason to believe that they must behave this way? Of course not.
Remind yourself that everyone is fallible and that you can choose to accept this reality or fight against it - often at great cost to yourself.
Exercises to advance the inner talk that makes forgiveness possible:
- Write a letter to the other person, but don't plan to send it. Express fully how you feel, why that person's actions have hurt you and made you angry, and declare assertively, to yourself, that you forgive them.
It may take several days and many drafts to get the letter just right. You've completed the exercise only when you feel that the letter you've written is so honest and authentic that you would welcome receiving it yourself. (Actually sending it is always an option for the future.)
- Bury the grudge - literally! Write out the thing you're angry about and bury it in a pot of soil. Decide that for three months, you'll act as if you've forgiven the other person. The paper should degrade in the soil, just like your anger will fade as time goes by. This powerful symbolic exercise may seem silly, but it is extremely therapeutic, and it works!
- Enlist help. Have a friend or relative take the role of the other person. Confess all your anger and painful thoughts to that person. Encourage the "stand-in" to resist your attempts to rationalize your past behavior and to discuss only the ways that lead to forgiveness. This creates the "ideal" situation for expressing your pain and working through it with a level-headed "opponent." Be sure not to fall into the trap of having them pick sides and agree with your anger because this will only foster the grudge, as discussed in Part 1.
- Tap into the power of imagery. Use a technique such as deep breathing to achieve a fully relaxed state. Then imagine yourself talking with the person who hurt you, and imagine forgiving them or at least acting in a friendly, accepting way. This technique releases anxiety and connects the act of forgiveness to calm, pleasant feelings.
Best of luck to you all for freedom, love, and peace through forgiveness!
Monday, August 13, 2012
Holding a grudge takes mental, emotional and physical energy. It makes you obsessive, angry, and depressed. Some might say that forgiving and forgetting pays... but it won't be in nickels and dimes.
Three of the most beautiful words in any language are "I forgive you." Well, they are if you're a screwup like me anyway! But let's face it, it's not always easy to let go of past hurts and offenses, especially when the source is someone we care about.
A grudge can take on a life of its own, and endure for decades, even often outliving the original offender (no reference to the movie).
Considering the power of a grudge, is it any wonder that its anti-matter, forgiveness, is also very powerful (possibly even moreso)? So you can imagine why certain groups push forgiveness when the members are trying to regain control over their lives. The power gained from forgiving can lead to many other positive turns!
Forgiveness also has a spiritual quality, so many religions foster and encourage the process as well. There are more down-to-Earth reasons to put aside hard feelings though - solid, compelling reasons, including basic mental and physical health.
Too often we want to forgive, but something gets in the way. Eliminating the obstacles and achieving this empowering freedom, often requires more than minimal effort.
So I'm a screwup AND I'm lazy? ... For shame! No, no, no, it's totally natural to put a lot of pressure on yourself, which only compounds the stress related with holding a grudge. As you know, stress itself is bad enough for your well-being, but add on the anger you're feeling towards the other person... and now you've set the ball rolling on a whole spectrum of health miseries, including: chronic stomach maladies, heart problems, and even skin conditions!
Without question, the more anger we experience within, the more we wind up spewing out. This can lead to social complications on top of the internal problems. Apparently, the inability to let go of hurtful words or actions from one person, also makes it harder to trust or feel close to other people. Holding a grudge winds up infecting your family or prime social network, forcing everyone to choose sides and establish loyalties. These unhealthy activities breed secrets and spite instead of love and caring.
OVERCOMING FALSE BELIEFS
Forgiving is almost entirely an internal process. You could sit down with someone and say to their face "I forgive you for embarrassing me in front of the family..." or you can simply keep silent but start acting in a new way that is accepting... Either way, the real work involves you alone! Often, the first step is identifying and overcoming the fears, false beliefs, and misconceptions that make it difficult to forgive someone.
Some common false beliefs that prevent us from forgiving easily:
- If I forgive, I'll have to trust the other person, and I'm afraid I'll be hurt again. In reality, trust and forgiveness are very separate. To forgive is to free yourself from an uncomfortable emotion. You're just accepting the fact that the other person is a fallible human being, who must earn your trust.
- To forgive is a sign of weakness. In reality, the opposite is true. The forgiving person is strong enough to be assertive and able to express their feelings directly rather than lying or dissembling. This is a sign of character that most people truly respect.
- By forgiving I will be letting the offending party get away with something. In reality, the act of forgiving actually brings the wrong that was done to the forefront, and makes it clear that the deed was unacceptable in the future. You always have the option of choosing not to forgive, or becoming more aggressive yourself if the person repeat the offense repeatedly.
- I can't forgive until I forget In reality, you'll forget a wrong much faster when you've let go of the emotional charge attached to it. Forgetting is often the RESULT of forgiving.
- It's phony to act forgiving if I don't really feel it. In reality, we often empower ourselves to do uncomfortable things by a pure act of will, because we know those things are in our best interest. Go through the motions of forgiveness, and your emotions will catch up. Be it to believe it!
-- Part 2 Coming Soon! --
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
The best companies, departments, and staffs, are those where everyone feels comfortable and confident in their decisions. They are free from fear of retribution or humiliation. To improve the morale and work quality in your department and, even company, follow these guidelines: Set a standard of personal integrity. Easy: Keep your promises and honor your commitments. Moderate: Deal with everyone fairly and support this behavior in others. (Can be) Difficult: Give your people the pride of working for a moral company. Find out the central interests of your people. How can you manage someone you don't know anything about? Give people opportunities to do what they enjoy most and do best. Build on people's strengths. Give assignments that stimulate personal and professional growth. Stretch your people by assigning tasks and projects slightly beyond their known capabilities. Give your people opportunities to practice self-responsibility. Give them space to take the initiative, volunteer ideas, attempt new tasks, expand their range and make mistakes. Challenge the seniority tradition. Promote on the basis of merit. The recognition of ability is one of the great motivators of self-respect and enthusiasm for the organization.
Show that it is safe to make a mistake. Let people feel free to say "I don't know, but I will find out." To evoke fear of error or ignorance is to invite deception, inhibition, and an end to creativity.
Show that it is safe to disagree with you. Convey respect for differences of opinion. Do not punish dissent.
Important: Disagreement does not have to be disagreeable.
Make eye contact and listen actively. Offer appropriate feedback and give the speaker the experience of being heard.
Never permit conflicts of personalities. Keep encounters about work task-centered, not ego-centered. The focus needs to be on reality -- "What is the situation? What does the work require? What needs to be done?"
Provide reasons for rules and guidelines. When they are not self-evident. Explain why you cannot accommodate certain requests. Don't merely hand down orders.
When an employee does superior work or makes an excellent decision, invite them to explore how it happened. Don't limit yourself to praise. By asking appropriate questions, you help raise the person's consciousness about what made the achievement possible and thereby increase the likelihood of repetition.
Provide clear and unequivocal performance standards. Let people understand your non-negotiable expectations regarding the quality of work and help them understand how their performance will be measured.
Praise in public... correct in private. Acknowledge achievements in the hearing of as many people as possible but let a person absorb corrections in the safety of privacy.
Convey in every way possible that you are not interested in blaming. You ARE, however, interested in solutions. When we look for solutions, we grow in self-esteem. When we blame or make excuses, we weaken self-esteem.
Take personal responsibility for creating a culture of self-esteem. Subordinates are unlikely to sustain the kind of behavior you want if they do not see it exemplified by higher-ups.
Great managers are not the ones who come up with brilliant solutions, but those who see to it that their staffs come up with brilliant solutions.
Avoid over-directing, over-observing, and over-reporting. Excessive "managing" is the enemy of autonomy and creativity.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
You don't have to be a genius to make a living with your imagination, but there are some things that you'll want to know... Here are some ideas learned along the way to a successful career in profiting from great ideas: 1) Focus on innovation, not invention. Truly groundbreaking ideas are rare, but you don't necessarily need one of those to make a financial foundation for yourself. In fact, a useful understanding of creativity as "The logical combination of two or more existing elements that results in a new concept," could be enough to get you on the right track. Don't underestimate the potential income from simply developing innovative applications, as opposed to completely new concepts. Famous Example: G.I Joe was the first "action figure" with movable joints for boys when it was introduced in 1964, but the product wasn't really that different from others already on the market. G.I. Joe's were simply the combination of the idea of "dolls," such as Barbie, which were marketed toward girls, with the idea of static action toys, which had always been marketed toward boys. 2) Find a high concept. That's a Hollywood expression for a big idea that is instantly understandable and marketable. The best ideas can be described quickly, and are concepts that stick in peoples' minds (think "Call Me, Maybe"). Besides, two seconds might be all the time you get to pitch your idea to the right person. 3) Read as much as you can, on as many different subjects as possible. Since the invention of the internet, it has become easier than ever before to get substantial amounts of information about any subject you want, but don't rule out trade and consumer magazines for specific niche ideas, which could be developed into new applications. Try to decide if something is really a trend, or just a passing fad. When the same idea starts popping up in the news, magazines, and on TV - pay attention. Make note of things that capture your attention. If they got you, they are probably catching other peoples' attentions also. If you see a product that appears to be a good idea, try to think of other uses for it, even if those uses are outside your areas of knowledge/expertise. 4) Meet regularly with people outside your industry or area of expertise. Consider licensing as a profitable business in itself. Think of a large company doing something similar to your (or another person's) idea, as a speedway to that idea's success. Licensing in this fashion also opens doors to many new networking opportunities - as you represent a bridge between two entities, you'll be learning about both sides of the ideas. 5) Adapt proven ideas to the changing world. Update an existing idea that has become out of date. Again consider the toy market. Consider toys as our world around us, reduced to miniature or simplified versions. Decide how you can fill the gaps, or try to look for similar analogies in other industries. Bonus: Sell them the printer, THEN sell them the ink. Some industries call this "consumables," but it works for just about any product idea. If you can sell a single doll, but then sell 10 different outfits for that doll, you've just turned one customer into 11 potential sales. Good luck in all your endeavors! I'd love to hear your successes or pitfalls.
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