The Habits of Supremely Happy People

Table Talk July 28, 2015

Before reviewing the following list in the link below, brainstorm with others around your table what you and they think the habits of supremely happy people are. Here’s one to get you started:

They nix the small talk for deeper conversation. Nothing wrong with shootin’ the you-know-what every now and then, but sitting down to talk about what makes you tick is a prime practice for feeling good about life. A study published in Psychological Science found that those who take part in more substantive conversation and less trivial chit chat experienced more feelings of satisfaction. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings,” is one of the top five regrets of the dying — a sentiment that hints at the fact that people wish they’d spent less time talking about the weather and more time delving into what it is that makes their heart swell.

Review The Article: The Habits of Supremely Happy People by K A T E  B R A T S K E I R

Q: What is your intuition telling you about your current path? Is it telling you to go against the grain? Is it urging you to do something differently? It’s good to listen to the advice of others, but don’t forget to check in with your own intuition. If it leads you off the well worn path today, so be it.
 What do you appreciate about your life right now? As Socrates once said, “Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” Do not waste all your happiness by overlooking everything you have for everything you wish you had.  If you do, you will never have enough.  Instead, appreciate the goodness that is already yours, and you will instantly find a lot more to smile about.
Q: What would you like to remember about today? Do something worth remembering. Try something new. Express your love. Live your truth. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards meaningful goals. Walk your talk. Embrace your gifts. Bounce to the beat of your own drum. Do whatever it takes to make everyday a good memory.
Q: What can you do tomorrow to make a positive difference in the lives around you? Being a genuinely good person, helping others, and leaving the world better than you found it is what a truly rich life is. Knowing deep down that you counted – that someone else’s life would not have been as well off without you in it – that’s priceless. That’s something worth working for.
Q: What is the most important thing you can do for your own well being? If you don’t take good care of yourself, then you can’t take good care of others either; which is why taking care of yourself is the best selfish thing you can do. Every new day is a chance to change your life. Work on making life all that you want it to be. Work hard for what you believe, and keep your dreams big and your worries small.

Forward: The Liberal Arts Tradition

Paideia July 27, 2015

1. It’s “divisive.” It’s not what everyone else is doing. It marches to the beat of a different drummer. It cultivates excellence rather than conformity. Yes it does. And this is actually sometimes used as an objection rather than a selling point!

2. It’s old, outdated, unfashionable. Yes it is, like honor, courage, integrity, and honesty. It doesn’t try to tell the truth with a clock; it doesn’t practice chronological snobbery. In an age which has embraced every novelty, the true rebel is the traditionalist.

3. It’s not in line with modern philosophies: skepticism, cynicism, subjectivism, relativism, naturalism, positivism, scientism, socialism. That’s exactly right. It’s not. It’s counterculture. It harnesses teenagers’ natural proclivity to rebel and turns that force against “the bad guys” who are now the “establishment” instead of against “the good guys.”

4. It’s “judgmental.” It believes there really is good and bad, true and false. The typical modern education is judgmental only against being judgmental, and skeptical of everything except skepticism.

5. It’s small. It’s private. It’s grassroots. It’s implemented mainly in small schools, not big ones. This is true, and it’s another plus rather than a minus. “Small is beautiful.” The bigger the school, the more the person tends to get lost in the system and get identified with his or her race, economic class, gender, sexual orientation, or political party.

6. It seeks truth for its own sake, not primarily for pragmatic uses. It aims at wisdom, not wealth. It makes its graduates philosophers instead of millionaires. This is also true. But it’s not a fault. As Chesterton says, “Man’s most practical need is to be more than a pragmatist.”

7. It’s not specialized. It doesn’t teach underwater basket weaving or pickling and fermentation, so to speak. It doesn’t teach you clever ways to outguess the government, or lawyers, or your teacher, or the standardized tests. It just teaches you how to think and how to live. But businesses, law schools, and government agencies don’t want specialist drones; they want people who can read read and write and think logically and creatively.

8. It’s religious. It’s Christian. And, just like the other seven silly objections to it, this one too is really an advertisement for it. Yes, it doesn’t pretend that the most important man who ever lived never lived, as our public education now does. It assumes that the supernatural is not the enemy to the natural, that grace prefects nature rather than demeaning it, as light perfects color.

If this gives you pause, ask yourself, “Have I been indoctrinated in the public school system.” Believe it or not, the public school is the established church of secular society. It neglects the whole person. For a life that is free and not slavish, we need something else.

It is The Liberal Arts Tradition.

It’s like walking through a field in a snowstorm

Her Journal March 31, 2015

and for a long time I see nothing but the snow, but then in the distance there’s something, a tree or a figure or smoke, I just don’t know. I always have the sensation that I’m straining to see what’s in front of me. The snow lessens for a minute and I catch a glimpse of an idea, but when I get closer the light starts to fade. I squint constantly. It goes on like this for a long time. If I were taking notes they would read: I see something. A shape? I have no idea. It’s not exactly the stuff that literary archives are made of.

I am a compost heap,

Her Journal March 30, 2015

and everything I interact with, every experience I’ve had, gets shoveled onto the heap where it eventually mulches down, is digested and excreted by worms, and rots. It’s from that rich, dark humus, the combination of what I’ve encountered, what I know and what I’ve forgotten, that ideas start to grow. (I could make a case for the benefits of wide-ranging experience, both personal and literary, as enriching the compost, but the life of Emily Dickinson neatly dismantles that theory.)

The 31 Healthiest Foods

Recipes March 16, 2015

…and how to eat more of them. Experts tell us which superpowered ingredients we should be incorporating into our diets regularly. Here are their combined picks, plus some simple and delicious preparation suggestions.

An outstanding source of monounsaturated fats. When used in moderation, this tasty Mediterranean staple may even cut the risk of heart disease.
TRY THIS: Gently heat olive oil with fresh herbs (such as rosemary and thyme). Drizzle on pasta, steamed vegetables, or sandwiches in place of mayo.

These young soybeans pack more fiber per serving than shredded-wheat cereal and have the same amount of protein as roasted turkey.
TRY THIS: Puree cooked edamame with garlic, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice for a quick hummus-like spread.

Supercharged with nutrients–think calcium, B vitamins, and beta-carotene–this leafy green fuels your body with fiber, too.
TRY THIS: Saute chopped chard with garlic, then toss with whole-grain pasta and raisins.

Packed with cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, potassium, and magnesium that help regulate blood pressure, and complex carbs and protein that keep you from feeling hungry 30 minutes after you finish your dinner.
TRY THIS: Soak the beans overnight, simmer until tender, and drain. Throw them in a pan with good olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Cook long enough to meld the flavors—then spread over toast for one healthy bruschetta.

Your go-to source for vitamin C, which, among other useful traits, can help burn fat.
TRY THIS: Roast orange wedges along with salmon.

You’ll get iron (for healthy hair), plus folate and at least a dozen flavonoids–compounds that are loaded with antioxidants.
TRY THIS: Whole Grain bread + pesto + Mozzarella + Baby Spinach + Avocado = Delicious Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The antioxidants in this winter squash keep skin healthy; its potassium helps lower blood pressure.
TRY THIS: Pumpkin Banana Smoothie

This protein-rich winner is an acquired taste for some, but totally worth it. Chockablock with vitamins D and B12, it is also an excellent source of calcium and omega-3 fatty acids.
TRY THIS: Toss chopped sardines into a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh parsley.

The payoff from this leafy green: loads of vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, and antioxidants.
TRY THIS: Make kale chips by tearing the leaves into pieces and tossing with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F until crisp, 20-30 minutes.

Ounce for ounce, this fuzzy fruit contains twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange, more potassium than a banana, more vitamin E & K than an avocado, and it is high in fiber.
TRY THIS: Thinly slice, then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with toasted unsweetened coconut.

Fresh StrawberriesSTRAWBERRIES
May fight inflammation, cancer-causing compounds, and may even be capable of suppressing the progression of tumors. Also may help reduce bad cholesterol.
TRY THIS: Toss 2 rhubarb stalks (thinly sliced) with sugar (2 tbsp), fresh OJ (1 tbsp), and lemon juice (1 tbsp) in a medium bowl. Let sit until rhubarb is slightly softened and releases its juices, about 30 minutes. Toss with strawberries, mint, and toasted hazelnuts.

Packed with fiber, this superfruit was one of the top antioxidant-rich picks in a US Department of Agriculture study.
TRY THIS: Serve over vanilla frozen yogurt with a pinch of ground cardamom.

A saturated fat that gets burned like a carbohydrate? And that can increase your metabolism and lower your cholesterol – and that tastes good, to boot!
TRY THIS: In a saucepan heat 1/4 C water with 4 teaspoons of organic sugar. Add 1 C unsweetened coconut flakes and stir until all the water is absorbed. Dry. Smuggle in a bag at the movies.

A vitamin C gold mine–1/2 cup of cooked broccoli satisfies 80 percent of the US Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily dose. It’s also a key dose of vitamin K, which helps blood clot properly.
TRY THIS: Toss with olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Roast at 375°F until tender. Sprinkle with grated parmesan before serving.

You’ll get nearly 20 percent of your daily dose of fiber in one 1/2 cup serving, plus cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats.
TRY THIS: For a side dish, halve an avocado, drizzle with soy sauce and fresh lime juice, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

These burrito mainstays boast antioxidants and magnesium, which helps maintain nerve and muscle function.
TRY THIS: On a baking sheet, toss canned black beans with olive oil, ground cumin, and salt. Roast at 450°F until crispy, about 10 minutes, for a tasty snack.

The darker the color, the richer these tubers are in the antioxidant beta-carotene.
TRY THIS: For a side dish, steam cut-up sweet potatoes and apples. Puree with maple syrup and crushed red pepper.

Whole MilkMILK
It offers nine essential nutrients: calcium, of course, but also B vitamins, which help neurological function, and vitamin D, a potential cancer fighter.
TRY THIS: If you want a break from your regular morning cozy, warm a cup of skim milk with a dash of vanilla and ground cinnamon.

Meaty and filling, as a stand-in for beef they can slash up to 400 calories from a meal. They may also protect against breast cancer by helping to regulate a woman’s estrogen levels.
TRY THIS: Saute button mushrooms and shallots until tender. Add a splash of white wine and cook until evaporated. Eat.

Contains three times the amount of fiber per serving as the typical semolina variety. Skip pasta labeled “multigrain”: It may be made with a number of grains, but they aren’t necessarily whole ones.
TRY THIS: Toss whole-grain pasta with pesto, chopped arugula, and grated lemon zest.

A surprisingly good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Those are the fats that lower the bad-for-you cholesterol (LDL) and raise the good-for-you kind (HDL).
TRY THIS: For a healthy on-the-go snack, pack a handful of walnuts with some dried figs and a few anise seeds. (As the ingredients sit together, the anise releases flavor.)

Heart-healthy monounsaturated fats abound in these protein-rich spreads. Opt for those with just two ingredients–nuts and salt.
TRY THIS: Mix with soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice wine vinegar to make a quick Asian dipping sauce for chicken skewers or dressing for noodles.

Holds cholesterol in check, helps fight against heart disease, and keeps you full until lunch, thanks to its soluble fiber.
TRY THIS: For a savory breakfast, drizzle cooked oatmeal with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan.

Another high-fiber cholesterol fighter offering the same energy and satiety you would get from meat.
TRY THIS: Stir olive oil and fresh lemon juice into quinoa with feta cheese and red grapes.

A protein powerhouse, these are flush with folate, a nutrient that may prevent certain birth defects.
TRY THIS: Toss cooked lentils with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, chopped celery, and fresh thyme. Serve over salad greens.

Packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, which keep blood vessels healthy. The plant fibers help lower cholesterol.
TRY THIS: Fold chopped almonds into cooked whole grains, along with banana/passion fruit puree and pomegranate seeds.

The whites offer up protein with minimal calories (and zero fat or cholesterol). The yolks are awash with vitamin B12 and vitamin A.
TRY THIS: Make a sandwich with whole-grain bread, scrambled eggs, and olive oil mayo.

Rich in probiotics (bacteria that may improve digestion and increases your immunity), this extra-thick yogurt can contain 8 grams more protein per serving than conventional yogurt.
TRY THIS: Make a dip with all-natural peanut butter, local honey, and cinnamon. Serve with your favorite apple wedges.

A dinner staple from the leanest part of the bird: Half a breast has just 2.5 grams of fat and more than 22 grams of protein.
TRY THIS: Shred cooked chicken and toss with olive oil, raisins, curry powder, and fresh lime juice.

Its omega-3 fatty acids may improve your mood and keep your skin glowing. Why wild? It’s exposed to fewer toxins than the farmed variety.
TRY THIS: For breakfast, mash some avocado on whole-grain toast and top with flaked poached salmon.

45 percent of the fat in bacon is monounsaturated. Better still, bacon’s monounsaturated fat turns out to be oleic acid, the same fat found in olive oil. So that means some could argue bacon is about half as good for you as olive oil and about 100 times more delicious. Of course, moderation is key here, and you should seek out artisanal varieties without preservatives.
TRY THIS: Fry up just one slice along with the aromatics for a pot of soup, or chop it up and use it as a garnish for fish or sauteed greens.