Creating Happiness

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Believe it or not, material possessions and other people do not make us happy.  Sure, buying something new can give you a little “lift” in spirits, if that’s the way you think you should be happy.  However, that lift never lasts, and then you’ve got to go out and get something new again.  It’s a never-ending proposition and one that certainly will not bring you lasting happiness.  The same holds true with collecting new people.  When you look outside yourself for happiness, you will always be disappointed.  Whatever lift you feel initially, will not last, and will often leave you feeling even more empty inside.

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However, when we realize that the only happiness that lasts is the one we make ourselves, that is when we will truly be happy.  Happiness really is an inside event.  Only we can create our own happiness.  How can this be done?  First of all, you have to really know yourself.  You need to spend some quiet time with yourself, and find out what might make you happy.  Many times, unhappiness stems from not pursuing those things that really give meaning to our lives.  If you want to change your life, what’s stopping you?  Can you start small, and build from there?  We have an unlimited capacity to improve our own lives, even in just the tiniest ways, and happiness will stem from there, if only we try.

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By working on ourselves we can create our own happiness, and from there, we can change the world.  How can our own happiness change the world?  By bringing happiness into the world, we bring kindness to others, creating a new compassion for others.  Your changes help transform the world you live in.  It’s a pond with ripples radiating out into the rest of the pond where it eventually hits the shore and continues on from there.

 

Putting it all Together

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As you know, I’ve been in the midst of changing my life for a while now.  Sometimes it seems that for every step forward, I take two steps back.  However, lately I’ve been feeling quite optimistic.  Losing weight has been a great “kick-in-the-pants” for me.  I’ve changed my eating and my exercising, and feel much better both physically and mentally.  Of course, there have been days where I’ve felt besieged by life, but those days are far fewer than they were.

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However, I’ve been having a hard time putting all the changes that I want to make together.  It’s hard to fit everything into one day.  My creative life is suffering a more than I’d like, and I’m not de-cluttering my house the way I thought I would.  It’s hard to get much done with the hot weather (an excuse if I’ve ever heard one), but I also have lost a little motivation in regards to these aspects of change.

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I think that my real issue is with organization.  So, my not-so-new goal is going to be trying organize each day into blocks where I work on different things at specific times of the day.  How do you organize your day in order to fulfill your goals?  Let me know, if could use all the help I can get.

My Low-fat, Plant-based Diet

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I’ve been following a low-fat (no oil), no prepared foods, plant based diet since the middle of March.  I was over-weight and just couldn’t lose any weight, even though I had been Vegan for 3 years at that point.  I had watched Forks Over Knives and was aware that I needed to decrease my oil and processed foods consumption.  However, it wasn’t until I got the book Seven Day Rescue Diet by Rip Esselstyn that I found a simple and easy diet to follow.  And that was when I started to lose weight.  Was it hard?  Well, cooking without oil can be a little bit difficult, but I quickly adjusted.  Now I use some water instead of oil and I add more herbs and spices to my food then I ever did before.  One of the easy things about this diet change is that I liked all the foods that I was eating.  For the first month, I was completely about cooking my own food.  These days I will get a pizza with no cheese on it from the local take-out, so no, I don’t feel “cheated”.   I will also eat Chinese take-out that has been steamed with no sauce on it.

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So, have I been losing weight?  Yes!  With absolutely no calorie restriction (I actually eat a lot), so far, I’ve lost 23 pounds.  For a moderately over-weight woman of over 50 this is huge.  I don’t exercise every day, but I do eat all I want every day.  Here is a list of my meals for one day:

Breakfast – one shredded wheat biscuit with plain Almond Milk (I eat Post Shredded Wheat), I only eat one because I also have a large glass of water, a banana and a peach or plum.  If I’m not that hungry I’ll save the banana for a snack around 10:00 or so.  I will eat another banana if I’m hungry later on in the morning.

Lunch – a fairly large salad with either homemade oil-free dressing, or bought oil-free dressing with little to no “extra” stuff in it.  I’ll then have a baked potato with a little salt, pepper and garlic on it.  And again, I’ll have a large glass of water.

Snacks – if I’m hungry in the middle of the afternoon I’ll eat some fruit.  With it being summer, that could be sweet cherries, a peach or plum, grapes or a banana.  If I’m really hungry I’ll have more than one piece of fruit.  If I’m eating cherries I’ll just have a few (or more) handfuls of them.

Dinner –  usually I’ll have a bowl from Seven Day Rescue Diet.  If I’m not having that, I could be steaming up some veggies and having them with preservative and oil-free soy sauce and some brown rice or quinoa.  I put a ton of spices on my food.  I’ve always used a lot.

Desert – I usually have fruit in the evening.  Right now, since it’s summer and strawberry/blueberry season, I’ve been having that for a treat.  And, even though I normally only eat whole food, I will have the vegan whipped cream on those.  Not every night but one or two nights a week.

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When I started this diet, I didn’t eat a single prepared food.  I made everything from scratch, including hummus.  Homemade hummus is really good.  I now eat some no-oil, no-preservative guacamole, oil-free salad dressing, and I make veggie sandwiches with vegan sandwich thins.  But, I mostly (6 days out of 7) still follow the no-oil, low-fat diet.  I now have added plain peanuts to my diet, so that’s really good if you feel like a nosh.  I’ve also had air-popped popcorn with a small amount of salt on it – one caveat, popcorn without vegan butter can be pretty dry.  I’ve also made potato chips in the microwave – they are really good with some garlic powder on them, but are time consuming to make.

The only issue with eating this way is that you have to actually make your meals.  It can take more time than I’m used to, but it also tastes much better than prepared foods.  If you want some recipes let me know and I’ll share some with you.  The other important thing is that I drink a lot of water.  All the time.

As far as health is concerned, I used to have fairly bad asthma and now I don’t.  We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes, but the humidity hasn’t really bothered my breathing as much as before I started this eating plan.  My fibromyalgia also isn’t giving me as much pain as before.  Those were my two health issues, and they seem to be improving.  So, I’m looking forward to losing more weight on my goal to a healthy weight.  If you have any questions let me know in the comments below.

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What is Wrong with Education?

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I love to learn.  If I’m curious about anything, from the origin of a word to where a country is on the map, I’ll look it up (my geographic skills are very limited, and I’m always looking at maps).  I have an insatiable curiosity regarding almost anything to everything.  I will ask strangers all kinds of questions in order to get to know them.  I’m not pushy, and I try to do it in a friendly way.  I feel that there is so much going on the world and so many stories out there that are so interesting.  Most people are dealing with all kinds problems and I’ve been told that the very fact I ask them how they are makes them feel special.

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My curiosity includes education – of course.  I decided while I was at college, that I’d get two majors instead of the usual combination of a major and a minor.  I had a few interesting conversations with the Dean of Students over this decision, but due to my high grades they let me persue it.  When my children were in school I asked them to tell me one thing they learned that I didn’t already know.  When I home schooled them, the thing that I liked best about it was how much new information I was learning.  There is nothing like learning new things that gets me so excited.  When I first learned who Rachel Carson was, I wanted to be just like her. Most of my heroes are people who not only are highly intelligent, but also people interested in helping others.  The only way forward into a better and more equal future is through education.  Done right, education creates compassion and understanding.  No one who reads a wide variety of international literature can claim no compassion nor understanding. Once you feel what other cultures have experienced, your mind has been opened to new pathways.

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Of course, the point of all this waxing on about education is that a new study by Pew Research Center has shown that the majority of Republican voters believe that higher education is “bad” for America.  That being said, I wonder if they are prepared to forgo Doctors, Nurses, Engineers and computer experts.  All these people do have degrees from universities.  Indeed, many of them have advanced degrees.  These are the people responsible for many of the “little” things that make life a lot better – such as advancements in communications, infrastructure, safety and health care.  This finding simply flabbergasts me.  Please feel free to leave your comments on this subject.  I’d love to find out what other people think of it.

http://www.people-press.org/2017/07/10/sharp-partisan-divisions-in-views-of-national-institutions/

http://www.newsweek.com/republicans-believe-college-education-bad-america-donald-trump-media-fake-news-634474

 

Create Your Life

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Sometimes we are so busy reacting to the things that life throws at us, that we look around and realize that we haven’t so much as “made” our own lives, instead we’ve had them thrown at us.  Instead of setting goals, and taking the appropriate steps to reach those goals, we’ve simply been reacting to whatever has come our way.  While this is a fairly normal thing, it’s not the best thing.  Simply reacting doesn’t promote a happy, healthy lifestyle.

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So, here is the thing.  Take some time out of your busy life, and ask yourself if you are happy.  Do you feel fulfilled in your job and in your life?  Is there something else that you’d rather have?  If you find that at your core you are not happy, then carve out some time for you to be quiet with your own thoughts.  What can you do right away to change something that you don’t like?  If you’re in a situation not of your making, but you need to stay there for some reason or another – money, marriage, bad job market; how can you change what you are doing to make it more pleasant for you.  If you hate your job but can’t leave due to financial issues, is there something you can do to make it more interesting/pleasant.  Maybe you are not actually bored with your job, maybe it’s something about your life.  Whatever it is, can you change yourself to improve the situation?  Sometimes frustration with ourselves is at the core of our larger unhappiness.

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Whatever it is that you’ve found out, now is the time to decide to take action to change your life.  Make a goal and plan action steps to get there.  Once you begin working toward a goal, you’ll be amazed at how much happier you are.

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Confidence

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This quote is so true.  For many of us, we spend so much time trying to be something that we are not, that we lose track of who we are. I know that for most of my life I’ve been trying so hard to please other people that for a long time I lost my sense of self.  In fact, I often feel like I’m stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out who I am.  Confidence in myself is something that I’ve struggled with for a long time, as I’m sure many other people have.  By always pleasing others, I’ve come to a point in my life when I don’t really know who I am.  How do you find the confidence to be yourself when you’ve lost yourself somewhere along the way?

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My solution to this dilemma has been to try to get back to those things that made me happy before I began trying to please others.  The longer I’ve been working on improving and changing myself, the more confident I’ve become.  Another side-effect of this is that I’ve become a lot more understanding of not only my own deficiencies, but other peoples.  I also spend less time complaining about things than I did before.  Confidence is a gift that we give to ourselves.

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Casein – A Cancer Promoter

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Everyone has seen the advertisements “Milk, it does the body good.”  These ads are everywhere.  We’re told from an early age to “drink your milk”.  Cheese is added to so many recipes, and I must admit, when I ate a typical American diet, I too loved cheese, and drank my milk just like I was advised to.  Why?  Because the food pyramid said too.  My parents, my doctor and my school told me too, also.  So, did commercials on t.v., and everyone around me was drinking and eating casein make me think that this was a “good” food?  Of course, it did.

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But, what was all this milk and cheese doing to my body?  What is it doing to yours?  Well, one of the main things that it’s doing is promoting cancer cells to grow, in fact it’s been found to be a carcinogen, and should be avoided at all costs.  One of the reasons for this is that casein (along with the hormones that dairy cows are given to promote even more milk production) is stored in our fat cells for long periods of time.  This gives them a chance to promote and trigger cancer growth.  Everyone has cancer cells in their body, but these cells must be triggered in order to grow.  A carcinogen is what triggers the cancer cell.

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For a more scientific explanation of casein I’ve left the links below.  I also suggest that you watch the documentary What the Health (found on Netflix) if you want even more information.

http://freefromharm.org/health-nutrition/21-experts-on-the-dairy-breast-cancer-connection/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166373/