Be Happy and Do Yoga

January 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Personal Development

I admit that I sometimes have to drag myself to a yoga class (please don’t tell my yoga teacher mother), but I always feel better after the class and grateful that I made the choice.

It seems like there is always something I should be doing other than taking some yoga class. That is certainly not the feeling when I finish each class. Now there is a study for me and others to look at to keep us going back to those classes. Seems like a good downward facing dog pose can actually boost our frame of mind.
If fact, a study from Boston University School of Medicine found that yoga boosted mood more effectively than walking. This study was recently released in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Doing an hour of yoga three times a week for 12 weeks increased GABA levels by 13 percent, as measured in the study’s healthy participants right after a session. GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain, is lower in people who are depressed. Levels rise with the use of meds. The walkers showed no significant increase in GABA levels.

Author of this study is Chris Streeter, MD. He says “This is the first study to find behavioral intervention. Yoga in this case. Yoga has an effect on brain chemistry similar to that of antidepressants”

Wow! I guess I won’t be so reluctant about going to a yoga classes anymore, no matter how busy I get.

Scientists Discover What Makes Us Happy

October 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Personal Development

I have always been fascinated by what makes us all happy. After all isn’t that one of the big brass ring’s in life we all strive for? If someone walked up to you and gave you a million dollars or 10 million dollars would that make you truly happy? I’m sure for a certain period of time the answer would be yes, but I’m talking about real happiness for the long run.

I have in fact met millionaires that are miserable and a few that do seem happy and satisfied. Yes, money can make us all happy and I don’t want to discard the big buck, but I’m talking long term deep down happiness and satisfaction with life and living. And that’s what interest’s me. Lets take a look at what the scientists have to say.

A study published online Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides evidence on what makes us happy.

Researchers from Australia, the Netherlands and Germany scoured data from thousands of German adults who were tracked for a quarter-century, from 1984 to 2008. Each year, they answered questions about their families, their careers, their health, their social activities and their “life satisfaction.”

Based on all this data, the researchers concluded that these things (in no particular order) contribute to happiness:
• Having an emotionally stable spouse
• Prioritizing altruistic goals like “helping other people” and “being involved in social and political activities”
• Prioritizing family (and, for women, having a spouse who prioritizes family goals is an added bonus)
• Having an active social life
• Regular exercise

And these things detract from happiness:
• Having a neurotic spouse
• Prioritizing “success and material goods”
• Working much more or much less than you’d ideally like (though being unemployed or underemployed is worse than being overworked)
• For men, being underweight
• For women, being obese
Here’s how the researchers summed up their findings: “Results showing that long-term happiness can be substantially affected by individual choices are good news, not only for economists but also for governments and humankind.”
There you go. A quick snapshot of what makes us happy. What about you? What makes you happy? I would like to know.

Large Smile, Long Life

April 1, 2010 by  
Filed under health

Don’t you appreciate people that have a big smile? Now you even appreciate them even more.  Studies suggest that we can learn from those that smile and smile big.

Science has just uncovered a big benefit of a happy face. People who have big smiles live longer. People who smile also are usually happier, have more stable personalities, more stable marriages, better cognitive skills and better interpersonal skills, according to research.

Researchers at Wayne State University used information from the Baseball Register to look a photos of 230 players who debuted in professional baseball before 1950. The players’ photos were enlarged and a rating of their smile intensity was made (big smile, no smile, partial smile). The players’ smile ratings were compared with data from deaths that occurred 2006 and 2009. The researchers then corrected their analysis to account for other factors associated with longevity, such as body mass index, career length, career precocity and college attendance.

For those players who had died, the researchers found longevity ranged from an average of 72.9 years for players with no smiles (63 players), to 75 years for players with partial smiles (64 players) to 79.9 years for players with big smiles (23 players).

This isn’t a bunch of psycho-hooey, the authors said. Smiles reflect positive emotion. Positive emotion has been linked to both physical and mental well-being. They added a caveat to their study, noting: “The data source provided no information as to whether expressions were spontaneous or in response to a photographer’s request to smile.” Still, big smiles are more likely to reflect true happiness than partial smiles.
The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.

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