April 29th, International Dance Day

“People reflect each other constantly,

but when they dance, perhaps what they reflect most is that moment of honesty.”

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, dancer and choreographer

Shake, rattle ‘n roll, Internationally by Peggy

“In 1982 the Dance Committee of ITI founded International Dance Day to be celebrated every year on the 29th April, the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), creator of modern ballet. The intention of the International Dance Day Message is to celebrate dance, revel in the universality of this art form, cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers, and bring people together with a common language – dance.”

https://www.international-dance-day.org/

Click here for more flashy fun:  Fly’n High

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Pawsitively Tuesday – Miracles

“There are only two ways to live your life.

One is as though nothing is a miracle.

The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Albert Einstein

 

 

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Pawsitively Tuesday – MAKE ME COFFEE, a Fable

A young woman went to her mother and complained about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first pot she placed a potato, in the second she placed an egg, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil. She didn’t say one word.

In twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished out the potato and placed it in a bowl. She pulled the egg out and placed it in a bowl. She ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked “Tell me what you see?” “A potato, an egg, and coffee,” the daughter answered.

Her mother asked her to feel the potato. She did and noted that it was soft. Her mother said to break the egg. She did and peeled off the shell and observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked her daughter to sip the coffee. She did and smiled as she tasted its rich aroma and flavor. The daughter asked “what does all this mean, Mom?”

Her mother explained that each object had faced the same adversity, boiling water. Each reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile with a thin outer shell that protected its liquid interior. After sitting in boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were different, they changed the water. “Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

When experiencing ‘adversity’:

  • Do you go soft and weak?
  • Are you fragile on the outside and hard in the centre?
  • Or do you change ‘the water’ (aka environment/situation) and effect positive change?

May God grant you enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to keep you content. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the most of everything that comes along their way. You can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you are the one smiling and everyone around you is crying.

We’ll drink to that!

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Your Personal Happiness Quartet

How happy we feel is strongly influenced by 4 neurotransmitter chemicals: endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. They are often called “the quartet.”

Endorphin on Electric Guitar, Serotonin on Sax, Dopamine on Drums, Oxytocin on Oboe

Here’s a very basic idea of what they do for you and 7 ways to help boost your happiness:

ENDORPHINS 

They promote a sense of well-being, lesson pain and are primarily released when we are in pain or stressed.  Endorphins work in similar ways as prescription anti-anxiety drugs and opiate painkillers but provide the benefits without all the side-effects.

Low levels of endorphins are linked to opposite effects: physical and emotional pain (including chronic pain linked to disorders like fibromyalgia), addiction and risk taking behavior.

SEROTONIN
Serotonin is often called the “happy hormone”.  It improves your mood and helps beat depression.  Not only does it help with mood stabilization but plays a big role in getting good sleep, dreaming, emotional and social stability.

Low levels serotonin are associated with various mental disturbances including: depression, anxiety, PMS,  sugar/carbohydrate cravings, trouble sleeping, obsessive thinking and addiction to alcohol or drugs. Too high levels can be  problematic as well.

DOPAMINE

Dopamine is one of the strongest “feel-good hormones”.   It makes you feel energized, alert, motivated and in control.  Within the brain, dopamine helps control the reward and pleasure centers as well as helping regulate movement and emotional responses.  Interestingly, it enables us to not only see rewards, but to take action to reach them. 

Dopamine deficiency is implicated in Parkinson’s Disease and people with low dopamine levels may be more prone to addiction.  Low levels can trigger depression, lack of concentration (brain fog), poor motivation and difficulty initiating and/or completing tasks.

OXYTOCIN

Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone” since it’s released during highly emotional moments, such as  childbirth, being in love, and during orgasm. It motivates us to strengthen personal relationships, be faithful and facilitates compassion.  Oxytocin is a powerful hormone, produced mainly in the hypothalamus, and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain

On the flip side, as a facilitator of bonding among those who share similar characteristics, oxytocin fosters distinctions between “in-group” and “out-group” members, and sets in motion favoritism toward “in-group” members and prejudice against those in “out-groups”.

7 ways to get the “Happiness Quartet”

working more for you:

We are all capable of producing our own natural highs (without taking illegal or prescription drugs) and when we repeat  behavior that facilitates the release of neurotransmitters we become naturally motivated to create positive habits.

1.  Tasting

Neurotransmitters that signal the release of endorphins come mostly from nutrients in our diet, like amino acids, vitamins, fatty acids and minerals. 

Serotonin is made primarily through intake of tryptophan-rich foods, such as turkey or milk. Most proteins will help release serotonin, including meat, fish, chicken, poultry, cheese, milk and eggs, which are complete proteins. A number of different plant foods, such as beans with sprouted grains, will get the same effects. Whole foods like seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, peas, corn or the germ of grains, such as buckwheat and oats, are all good plant sources of amino acids that help increase serotonin.

Fats comprise 60 percent of the brain. Essential fatty acids support the activity of neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Get healthy fats from coconut or olive oil, wild-caught fish like Alaskan salmon, nuts, seeds and avocado.

2.  Laughing

Laughter is a quick-fix for feeling almost instantly better, thanks to the release of endorphins.  Studies have even linked laughter with an elevated pain threshold. Try regularly doing something to keep your sense of humor: play with children, watch funny shows, recall a funny moment, share jokes, spend time with friends who have a sense of humor.

3.  Connecting

Give a hug, get a massage or simply have a deep conversation with someone you trust will all help release oxytocin and other chemicals that help you feel calm and comforted.  Some studies show acupuncture and other hands-on treatments  have similar effects. Make time for friends, reach out to others in need, find a sense of purpose and notice how good you feel when you do something nice for someone else.

4.  Learning

Every time you experience something novel or learn something new dopamine’s reinforces you.  With the internet, learning is at your fingertips.  Use your techno-time to look up something that peaks your curiosity,  travel, take up a hobby or get better at something you already do and release feel good neurochemicals.

5.  Smelling

The release of endorphins helps you feel calmer almost instantly when you smell the aroma of something that reminds you of fun or comforting times.  It can be as simple as the scent of fresh baked cookies, a parent’s favorite perfume or a dab of essential oil scents such as vanilla, chamomile, rose and lavender.  Your nose, after all, is close to your brain.

6.  Sunning & Nature

Sunshine and nature sites/sounds/colors seem to help regulate the release of serotonin and melatonin.  It only takes about 20 minutes a day to help your skin produce vitamin D (sunscreen will block this), which is important for your mood.  Studies indicate that exercising outdoors elevates mood better than indoors.

7.  Moving

A large body of research shows that people who exercise regularly have added protection against depression, reduce anxiety and get better sleep.  Exercise is one of the most endorphin-boosting things we can do. It also increases self esteem, gives a sense of mastery, increases energy levels, and thanks to dopamine, keeps you motivated to continue and improve.   You don’t have to do 10,000 steps or do intense workouts.  Research indicates that 3 times a week of brisk walking will do the trick.

Putting into practice all 7 ways to get the Happiness Quartet working for you:  

Eat a hardboiled egg while walking for 20 minutes in the park with a trusted friend, practice speaking Mandarin Chinese, laugh at your bad pronunciation and stop occasionally to smell the flowers.  How easy is that!

 

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Science says gratitude is good for your health (and ours too) & Anniversary Post Winners –

Curious Critters

Winners of our One-Year-Anniversary-Celebration Drawing

Claremary P. Sweeney,  Around ZuZu’s Barn

Kathy Whittam

Jessica-Lauren,  Mother is a Verb

Claremary, Kathy, Jessica,  Here’s what to do to pick out your prize:

  1. Click on this link to choose your prize:  ZAZZLE CATNIPblog Store
  2. E-mail your choice and mailing address to: Peggyjudytime@gmail.com

Being grateful for you AND ALL OUR FOLLOWERS helps us grow healthier and makes us feel so good.

Peggy, Judy & Freddie Parker Westerfield

and all the Curious Critters at Curious to the Max

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*Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis.

http://www.today.com/health/be-thankful-science-says-gratitude-good-your-health-t58256?cid=eml_tst_20170515

Cook it Up Kitty – What Kitty wants, Kitty gets. 

 Good News for Kitty!

Sugar Increases the “happiness” neurotransmitter serotonin.

This Valentine’s day give your sweetie something sweet.  It’s a good way to quickly lift the mood . . . in the short run*. 

Cooooooookies!

Kitty knows

Eating refined sugars, with white flour, or other processed carbohydrates gives her the fastest serotonin boost. 

Three blue hearts. No one will notice if one is missing.

Kitty doesn’t know 

* In the long run sugar may set up an addictive craving cycle and is not healthy because her  blood sugar drops after a spike which causes her to eat more sugar cookies . . .

Two blue dotted hearts. No one will notice if one is gone.

But for one special day a year Kitty can indulge!

(and . . . read my poem I wrote just for YOU

Frankly Freddie -Valentine’s Day)

Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDP Canine Dog Poet

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SEEK and ye shall find Happiness, The Neuroscience

Many of my clients would get depressed after they had accomplished a major goal.  After all the planning, effort, time and money there was at best a let-down and at worst actual depression.  I had experienced it myself every time I reached a major goal in my life like getting college degrees or sought after promotions.  What I didn’t know was this is a neurological function of my brain.

Neuroscience shows that the act of seeking itself, rather than the goals we realize, is key to satisfaction.  We need to actively want something more in order to live well. 

Neuroscientist Jaak Panskepp believes ” . . . that of seven core instincts in the human brain (anger, fear, panic-grief, maternal care, pleasure/lust, play, and seeking), seeking is the most important. All mammals have this seeking system, says Panskepp, wherein dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to reward and pleasure, is also involved in coordinating planning activities. This means animals are rewarded for exploring their surroundings and seeking new information for survival.” 

Seeking High, Seeking Low by Peggy

Science and the arts bear this out.  The process of art, always creating something new, trying new techniques, different modalities is what drives me, not the the product.  Likewise science is about questioning, new ways of looking at things, new directions to explore.  Two fields that are entirely open-ended.

“The human desire to seek can help make sense of studies showing that achieving major goals, or even winning the lottery, doesn’t cause long-term changes in happiness. But our drive to look ahead needn’t cause a permanent state of dissatisfaction, as seeking is itself a fulfilling activity.”

Fascinating!  A neuro-scientific explanation for the old adage “The process is more important than the product”.

According to neuroscience the quest is an end in itself.  An innate human desire for seeking.

There will never be an end to the to-do list, future goals and plans, the things we want to achieve and see. But the fact that we don’t have everything we want is exactly what makes life so fulfilling.   Who knew?

 

Read the entire article here: Neuroscience confirms that to be truly happy, you will always need something more

 

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