November 23, 2015

Vitamin D and Light: Take The SAD Out Of Winter And Get Your Life Back!

Please note that I am NOT a doctor and all the information here is based on my own experience and research. Always check with your own doctor before making any changes to your overall health routine!

Every year, I dread the winter because I have a love/hate relationship with it.

I love the endless cozy days where all you want to do is curl up next to a fire while reading a good book…

…but I hate the sluggishness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and melancholy that come with the darker, shorter winter days!
Turn that frown upside down!

Scientists call this condition “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD). I think people generally think of SAD as a disorder or a defect. We think of it as something that is wrong with us that we must fix.

However - I believe the real root of SAD is the conflict between the requirements of our society versus our innate biological programming.

Our society requires us to work 40 hours a week and maintain a relatively high level of activity all year long. This is at odds with our biological programming which causes us to slow down as the days get shorter in winter. Traditionally in winter, people on the farm would stay indoors more, and their activity levels and working hours would reduce after the harvest in parallel with the reduced daylight hours.

Today though, we are required to maintain our full-time work hours all year long along with staying fit and keeping an active social life! It’s a lot, and we can often end up depressed and feeling like failures because we’re told that we should be able to be just as productive in the winter as we are in the summer - but the reality is that we aren’t naturally wired to live this way in winter.

Since you’re likely not independently wealthy and have to work full-time for the whole year, you need some adaptations to get through the winter months while keeping your activity levels and productivity the same. I’ve tried many, many different things over the past 15 years to combat my own SAD. And I believe I’ve finally been successful in finding what works for me. So I want to share my method with you in the hopes that you can start enjoying life again, too!

November 17, 2015

Stop Shaming People In Their Sorrow.

With the tragedy in Paris and the outpouring of grief from the West has unfolded this standard pattern of discourse:
  1. Westerners are shocked at what has happened in a sister Western country.
  2. Westerners express their grief and sadness at what has happened.
  3. Other people shame them for expressing their grief because there are so many other tragedies for which there have not been  equal outpourings of grief and sadness.
There are three main reasons why Westerners react with visceral sorrow for Paris, but less so for the other recent tragedies:
  1. Violence in many parts of the world, such as Beirut, is normal. We hear about acts of terrorism and violence every day in places like Beirut and Israel, and have been for decades now. Our brain circuitry is hard-wired to be shocked by new stimuli and information, but then to develop a tolerance to it so that repeated exposure doesn’t elicit the same intense reaction. This is a basic survival mechanism. If for every stimulus we experienced, we experienced the same intense reaction at every exposure that we did at our first, we would not survive because the simple act of daily living would overwhelm us.

    The type of shooting in Paris is shocking precisely because it is new. 

    From my own perspective, I’m not at all content with violence being the norm in places like Beirut. But I’ve sadly become numb to it now. It seems like it will never end. So years ago, I stopped getting emotionally invested in the violence there because it was too much. I am only human, after all.

November 14, 2015

How To Beat The Terrorists.

Important note: When I use the term "terrorist", I mean ANYONE who commits acts of mass murder or violence to instil fear in people. To me, the college shooter at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, USA is just as much a terrorist as the ISIS men who went on a shooting spree in Paris, France.

As I read about the horrific Paris terrorist shootings last night, I felt a small part of me that has lived  in willful and blissful ignorance die. I now no longer believe that by living in a Western country, I am somehow immune to terrorism. I know it seems obvious that none of us are immune to terrorism. But a small part of me has, since 9/11, fought against the idea that it could happen to me - to us.

The Paris shootings have forced me to accept that terrorists are among us always - and they can spring into action at any time. 

My knee-jerk reaction is to react in fear, to think, "What can I do to protect myself and those whom I love?" To want to buy a gun. To let the fear fill me and take over my life. 

But I won't do this. I refuse to do this.

Instead, for every bullet the terrorists fire, I will dive into my life harder. I will love harder. I will feel my feelings harder. I will enjoy my time with my fiancé more. I will value my friendships more. I will enjoy books and drinking chocolate on rainy Saturday mornings. I will call my parents more often. I will savour every moment I get to drive in my Mustang with the top down more. I will take more risks in my life to spend my creative energy and to be happy.

And I will do this so that even if my life ends with a terrorist's bullet piercing my heart, I will know that I have beaten the terrorist.

Because while he will have lived his life in fear, anger, paranoia, and hatred, I will have lived my life from a place of love, freedom, and creation. They can't take that away from me, not if I live these things with my last dying breath.

It is horrific what has happened in France. So take some time to go to a café, to have a croissant, and to say a prayer for Paris. They need this from us right now.

And then... Go out into the world and eat, drink, be merry, and make love - because all these things are the only way as individuals to fight terrorists without becoming them.

Vive la France!