Sunday, November 17, 2019

the Gift of Naked Communication

Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire,” Adrienne Rich wrote in contemplating the impact poetry has upon us. “Insofar as poetry has a social function it is to awaken sleepers by other means than shock,” Denise Levertov asserted in her piercing statement on poetics. Few poems furnish such a wakeful breaking open of possibility more powerfully than “Do not go gentle into that good night” - a rapturous ode to the unassailable tenacity of the human spirit by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (October 27, 1914–November 9, 1953).

Dylan Thomas described himself as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet” - lived among us but 39 troubled years before he drank himself into a coma while on his fourth reading and lecture tour in America. Upon his death the poet Elizabeth Bishop wrote “Thomas’s poetry is so narrow - just a straight conduit between birth & death, I suppose - with not much space for living along the way.” She went on further to write: “He had an amazing gift for a kind of naked communication that makes a lot of poetry look like translation.”

Between 1945 and 1948, Thomas agreed to write and record a series of more than one hundred radio broadcasts for the BBC, ranging from poetry readings to literary discussions and cultural critiques — work that precipitated a surge of opportunities for Thomas and adrenalized his career as a poet. His sonorous voice enchanted the radio public. Perhaps because his broadcasting experience had attuned his inner ear to his outer ear and instilled in him an even keener sense of the rhythmic sonority of the spoken word, he learned to write poetry ten times more powerful when channeled through the human voice than when read in the contemplative silence of the mind’s eye.

It was during this time that Thomas began writing “Do not go gentle into that good night”, considered his best known and most beloved poem, as well as his most redemptive - both in its universal message and in the particular circumstances of how it came to be composed near the end of his life. In this rare recording, Thomas himself brings his masterpiece to life:

Do not go gentle into that good night”

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The Pulitzer-winning Irish poet and New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon writes of Thomas in the 2010 edition of The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas:

Dylan Thomas is that rare thing, a poet who has it in him to allow us, particularly those of us who are coming to poetry for the first time, to believe that poetry might not only be vital in itself but also of some value to us in our day-to-day lives. It’s no accident, surely, that Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night” is a poem which is read at two out of every three funerals. We respond to the sense in that poem, as in so many others, that the verse engine is so turbocharged and the fuel of such high octane that there’s a distinct likelihood of the equivalent of vertical liftoff. Dylan Thomas’s poems allow us to believe that we may be transported, and that belief is itself transporting.”

Tolkien Reading The Hobbit


J.R.R. Tolkien reads from The Riddles in the Dark segment of The Hobbit:



Saturday, November 16, 2019

the Space/Time Continuum


At the most fundamental layer of our existence there is no such thing as sequential time. Pure energy as it exists at the quantum level does not exist in time or space, but exists as a vast continuum of fluctuating change. We create time and space. When we bring energy to conscious awareness through the act of perception, we create separate objects that exist in space through a measured continuum. By creating time and space, we create our own separateness and our own time.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee


As an aging athlete on hiatus while my body heals from injury, I am taking some time to reinvent how I engage in sport when I reemerge. Reevaluating running ambitions, I have to take new limitations into account and redefine priorities during my time on the sidelines. I like to win, but I can no longer win in the competitions where I used to distinguish myself, so upon my return my aim is to compete at venues that allow me to win with endurance and wisdom instead of speed. In competitive sport, that means running longer – over multiple days.

So I need a strategy. Time to make a new plan. I still have a full bag of tricks to pull from, but most of my tricks don't work anymore. Some of the mental tools that worked when I was a kid can still be useful in keeping me in the game – those that depend upon strength of will, perseverance, and intention.

Someone I have always held in high regard was Muhammad Ali. In the later years of his fighting career, realizing that the speed, strength, and resilience of his youth was fading, Ali adjusted his training and outlook to accommodate his limitations to be able to continue to dominate younger, stronger, faster boxers. As we age, we increasingly have to rely upon our mental finesse, so Ali framed a new strategy in his mind that enabled him to continue to be a champion long after he should have retired.

Ali spent much of his training time in later years learning how to take punches. He studied how to shift his head back just a hair a microsecond before a punch was landed, enabling his body to deflect a blow to minimize impact. HE WAS NOT TRAINING HIS BODY TO WIN. HE WAS TRAINING HIS MIND NOT TO LOSE, especially at the point in the match when deep fatigue sets in around the twelfth round when most boxers cave. The most important part of his training was not in the ring during practice sessions, but in his armchair. Mohamed Ali was fighting the fight during training and winning in his head.

As a master of intention, Ali developed a set of mental skills that would enhance his performance in the ring. Before a fight, he used every self-motivational technique out there: affirmation, visualization, mental rehearsal, self-confirmation, and perhaps the most famous epigram of personal worth ever uttered, “I am the greatest.” He publicly broadcast his intentions in a barrage of clever rhyming couplets and quatrains, seemingly innocuous, but in reality they were powerfully disguised specific intentions reinforcing his intention to win. He repeated these rhymes like a mantra so often to the press and to his opponent that he came to accept them as fact.

When you are good, you have every right to proclaim you are the greatest. It is a place Ali will always hold in my mind. Beside his public displays of his intent, Ali would rehearse over and over every moment of the coming fight in his head; he would rehearse the fatigue in his legs, the sweat pouring off his body onto the mat, the pain he would feel in his kidneys, the bruises and swelling of his face, the flash of the photographers, the exultant screaming of the crowd, and perhaps most importantly, the moment the referee would lift his arm in victory. In every moment for months before a fight, Muhammad Ali sent an intention to his body to win; his body responded by following orders.

The photo above was one of the last taken of the Champ. With his dukes up, he could still “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” right to the end. And that's how I want to be.

More than ever, I must use my mind to accomplish physical feats. I am fond of a quote by Canadian ultrarunner Ray Zahab that 90% of incredible physical accomplishment is mental, and that the other 10%... is mental, as well. As my body ages, it will be mental preparation rather than more physical training that extends my running career.

As a kid, without really knowing much about what I was doing, I would get real focused and concentrate on an important outcome I wished to accomplish in sport, before finally executing my intention with a steller effort. I won a lot of races by mentally going through the motions before a performance. Certain memories of even fifty years ago still stand out in my mind as to how I accomplished some great things back in the day. Those mental skills from my bag of tricks are some of the tools I have to work with in my come back.

Looking at how far sport has come over my lifetime, focused intention is now deemed essential to alter and improve performance in virtually every sport. Techniques involved in mental rehearsal have been exhaustively studied and honed by a full spectrum of athletes. Champion athletes are now able to forecast and rehearse every aspect of an endeavor in advance, practicing the steps necessary to take to overcome any conceivable challenge or setback during the competition.

The most successful athletes break down their performances into the smallest parts to work on improving specific aspects of their performance. Coping strategies are developed in advance to deal with difficulties and challenge so as to remain in control in the face of adversity. The best athletes see only a flawless performance and block out any images representing doubt. Successful people, whether athletes or not, become adept at shifting internal dialogue or changing the movie running in their heads, quickly editing to imagine success.

Winning today has become increasingly dependent upon how well athletes can mentally rehearse with vivid, highly detailed internal images and run-throughs. The more experienced athletes are, the better they are at imagining the feel of their bodies, or the kinesthetic sensations experienced when engaged in sport.

It is interesting to explore the mechanism by which mental rehearsal influences future performance. Electromyographic equipment gives us a snapshot of the brain's instructions to the body. What has been discovered is that the thought of an action creates the same pattern of neurotransmission as the action itself. In other words, the electrical impulses between the brain and the muscles are the same whether a person is doing a sporting activity or just mentally rehearsing doing that same activity. Thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions.

Electrical activity produced by the brain is identical whether we are thinking about doing something or actually doing it. One school of thought says that mental rehearsals train the brain to facilitate the movement used during the actual performance. The nerves that signal the muscles are stimulated by thought, producing chemicals that remain there for time. Future stimulation along the same pathways is made easier by the residual effects of the earlier connections. We get better at physical tasks because our signaling from intention to action has already been forged. Future performances improve because the brain already knows the route and has a well worn path to follow. The mind can create that pathway as well as repeated physical practice.

As an old guy I cannot go out there every day and grind. There is this new thing in my life called fatigue that forces me to take naps during the time I used to be out there making tracks. The nice thing about practicing in my head, doing mental training, is that this old body doesn't get physically worn out. Now I can cut my physical training back to a reasonable thirty to forty miles per week, but keep up my overall mileage up by doing another fifty or sixty miles in my head, figuratively speaking. I like the sound of “old champions never die” and that “old guys can keep it up longer”. Now if I can get those two jingles to rhyme, watch out; expect me to continue to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” right to the end.

Evil Spirits


The word “alcohol” is said to come from the Arabic term “Al-khul” which means “BODY-EATING SPIRIT”. In ancient alchemy, alcohol was used to extract the essence of a substance. Alcohol is still used this way in homeopathy to extract the essential oils from herbs, fungi, and roots.
 
By consuming alcohol, the ancients said that it, in effect, extracts the essence of the soul, allowing the body to be more susceptible to surrounding entities, most of which are troublesome and of low frequency. (It is interesting that we call certain alcoholic beverages “SPIRITS”). This may explain why people who consume excessive amounts of alcohol often black out and remember nothing of the interim. What apparently happens is that our soul temporarily abandons our body because the living conditions within are too polluted and too traumatic to tolerate. The soul may temporarily jettison the body, staying connected by its silver umbilical tether, while a dark entity may take over control and take the body for a joy ride, often in a hedonistic and self serving illogical rampage. The ancients said our bodies are literally physical vehicles for disembodied spirits to take over. If we check out for awhile, a foreign spirit may take our body for a ride, leaving us to deal with the consequences upon our sober return.

Essentially, when someone becomes seriously intoxicated after drinking too much alcohol or by polluting themselves with one of a host of other toxic substances, their body can actually be possessed by another entity for a short time, or longer. Have you ever felt not yourself – perhaps more confident, more sexual, more violent, less rational, less logical, less able to communicate - after drinking alcohol?
 
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we live in the shadow of a longstanding ancient cult (cult-ure) that encourages inebriation through the liberal use of alcohol and other destructive substances. While drinking alcohol is encouraged in our society by our peers and through media popularization, the practice may be serving a very ancient and dark agenda beyond our witting approval. Beyond our science, dark, low frequency spiritual entities may be feeding off our physical energies when we consume too much alcohol.
 
If you have ever had too much to drink, you understand what it means to no longer have control. If you have ever known an alcoholic, then you know that there may be evil spirits in the bottle. Ancient traditions tell us this could literally be true. It gives one pause to think we may literally be inviting evil into our lives by indulging in socially encouraged drinking behavior. If consuming a “BODY-EATING SPIRIT” is not enough to give you pause, then consider another word that is derived from the Arabic word ““Al-khul” - the term “ghoul” - a legendary evil being that robs graves and feeds on corpses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Project Looking Glass

On November 11, 2019, Q made reference to Project Looking Glass in post 3585 with the accompanying comment: “Going Forward in Order to Look Back”. Q has demonstrated remarkable prescience in the past two plus years, so I pay attention to such announcements. So what is Project Looking Glass (PLG) and what are the implications of this post?

Simply summarized, PLG is a highly classified scientific project of reverse-engineered off-world technology at both the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and Facility S4 at the infamous Area 51 at Groom Lake in the Nevada Desert. The PLG technology under research deals with time distortion, specifically dealing with observing the quantum effects of an artificially produced gravity wave on time. From documents released through the Freedom of Information Act and various leaks over the years by scientists and technicians involved in the project with first-hand information, much about the project has been exposed for public review and understanding.

The LG device, also referred to as the Orion Cube, utilizes six electromagnetic fields, and a height adjustable rotating cylinder housed within the center hole of a doughnut-shaped structure (below) which is injected with Argon gas. The entire assembly can be rotated 90 degrees from a horizontal axis, allowing scientists to warp the local fabric of space-time both forward and backwards by long or short distances relative to present time. As the power is fluctuated into the magnets and the orientation of the magnets is changed, it dials into the probabilities within hyperspace, contacting wormholes to view various probable universes. The scientists working on the project quickly found out that the device was multi-functional. Through a variation of power settings and alignments, the device could produce images that dealt with future probable events which might take place on Earth.


As fantastic as it may sound, the LG device has been and is being used to predict the potential probability of future events on Earth. Once the device is tuned properly, images of probable future events are projected in open space within the fields, similar to a hologram. The data output of the device (images and sounds) is then captured via high resolution audio-video capture devices. If multiple probabilities of the same event are displayed, they are de-interlaced by specific software platforms. Next to the device are two “transport pads” which can teleport any physical matter including humans from one location to another instantly, but not always reliably, with some unfortunate disastrous outcomes having occurred during testing.

Above the door frame leading into the S4 lab (on “Alice's Floor”) that contains the Looking Glass Project at Area 51, there is a three-foot tall stuffed White Rabbit wearing a royal maroon vest, with gold fringes, and black buttons, holding a backward watch. In "Alice in Wonderland" the White Rabbit is introduced as always running late. He carries a watch that is running backwards but when viewed through the Looking Glass, it shows time correctly. "Going down a deep rabbit hole" is an oft-heard phrase when dealing with government and military cover ups and the black ops world; there is a reason for this - the government uses the ALICE CODE.

My take on the timing of Q's post is that we are fast approaching an incredible disclosure of knowledge that has been kept from the general public about topics such as free energy, time travel, and the agreements and space ventures with off-world civilizations that have been going on since after World War II. Such disclosure will turn our civilization on its head in a good way, moving us ahead by centuries in the flash of an eye. Authorized leaks about critical matters of disclosure have been increasing for some time with the aim of softening the psychological impact of so much change occurring so quickly.

The Looking Glass Project device has been under study since at least the early 1950's and has reached a point of refinement today where it is quite usable. Our scientists have learned how to manipulate both time and space. It is now time, by intergalactic imperative, to share that knowledge for the benefit of all humankind on planet Earth.

Along the way it was determined what events would be causation events for the ultimate splitting of humanity into what will become known as the J-Rod’s and the Orion Beings. That information from the Looking Glass has been supported by the direct testimony of both the J-Rods and Orion Beings of the future, according to their written and oral histories. This finding was further supported by observation of data from the quantum cube gift (Orion Cube) given to President Eisenhower in 1954 by off-world entities.

This was not the only quantum cube gifted to Earth for protection and to accelerate our progression toward taking our rightful place in the larger galactic community. The technology has already had a history of use and abuse on Earth since we received it. With a peak into our own future, the Looking Glass devices, along with Stargate portal technology, were dismantled for a time as a measure to protect humanity and the Earth based upon the totality of information collected from a catastrophic probable event that was likely to occur in 2012. Perhaps, by being able to see our probable future with the LG device, we were able to avoid the apocalypse prophesied for so long for the year 2012. So the Looking Glass device has already been of great benefit to humankind.

This all sounds fantastical. It is not. Nor is it just another unsubstantiated conspiracy theory. A Great Awakening is underway on the Earth in this New Age of Aquarius. The world is about to change in magnificently unforeseen and unprecedented ways. Future probabilities are now largely known, anticipated, and prepared for. We've been able to warp the space-time continuum to our benefit for quite some time. The good news is that the story ends well. The bad news is that there will be hiccups along the way. Keep an open mind. Be willing to suspend disbelief. And get ready for the ride of your life!

Beating Trump


The universe operates under some fairly simple principles, really. One of the aphorisms we are reminded of again and again down through the ages by every spiritual and mystic tradition is one from Galatians VI in the Christian Bible:

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

It's just the way things work. Whatever you sow, you reap. Whatever energy you put out there is going to come back to you in spades. Send out love and that's what you get back. Be generous and the universe will be generous with you. It's not that hard to understand or find evidence for it in your own life.

If you hate, all that negative energy is going to find its way back to you. Public figures in media that spouting hateful impersonations of President Donald Trump says more about those who project their negativity on him than anything about him. That’s why those that hate the president are so frustrated with failure after failure in attempting to take him out of power. They fail to anticipate Trump’s actions, moves, and continued successes because they ignore this basic tenet of how the universe works. Negativity is always turned back on those that project it, ultimately disempowering the haters. The universe is ultimately fair.

It is amusing to watch Trump's lack of reaction to all the animus and vindictive invectives that have been flung his way for at least the last four years. Day after day he positions himself as a target, directly in the line of fire, as if he knows they cannot touch him with their slings and arrows. Trump is not one to run from a fight, and will never cower.

One of Trump's overwhelming assets, for all of his faults, is that he doesn’t hate himself at all. Not even for an instant. So he doesn’t absorb the hate thrown at him; it doesn't stick, but bounces back, returned to sender. He knows how it all works; he has listened to the words of countless oracles. So he fuels the fires of hatred with his tweets while he sits back and watches his detractors' world burn. Since the hate has to go somewhere, it can only go back to its origin. Those who hate Trump end up losing every time, and will continue to do so until they figure out that the only way to whip Trump is to cease with the self-flagellating hatred and get in tune with how the universe really works. Seventeen Republican primary candidates, then Hillary Clinton, then all the MSM news outlets; the Never Trumpers, the Mueller people, those who foment an attempt to impeach, and so on, will continue to fail as long as they operate from a foundation of hatred.

Until they figure out that the ONLY way to deal with Trump, the ONLY thing that he will react to is compassion. The man ONLY responds to being loved. His haters need to look beyond their shallow emotion reactions and understand that Love is Trump's battle ax; The Art of War his playbook; “Amor Vincit Omnia” his battle cry. Do not be distracted by his war face - he is at war, this incorrigible warrior crusader with the best interests of others at heart, and because he follows the rules of the universe he is likely to prevail. If his adversaries want to beat Trump, they must find a way to be critical but constructive and compassionate. They might as well try it, because the hate thing is really not working very well.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Political Psychopaths


As an optimist it is difficult to speak of the dark side of the world. Nonetheless, it very much exists, and must be understood and dealt with. We are approaching a time of great revelation about the darkness of very many of those we have held in high esteem as our venerable leaders. It should not come as a shock to find that those who have claimed to be our greatest advocates have all along been feigning their sincerity and patronizing our good nature.

When someone tells me they want to seek public office and represent the people's interests in government, I always cringe with suspicion, for the profession they seek is tainted with the stain of some of the world's most nefarious, self-serving, abusive sociopaths/psychopaths. In substantiation of my suspicion, I quote the eminently qualified words of Dr. Martha Stout, clinical psychologist, former instructor at Harvard Medical School, and author of The Sociopath Next Door and other popular books on emotional disorders:

Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths. I think you would find no expert in the field of sociopathy/psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder who would dispute this. That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow — but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one.”

It’s no secret that politicians are very often driven by enormous egos. Who among us really thinks he or she deserves a seat in Congress — or a desk in the Oval Office? But can egotism alone explain why so many elected officials seem to get caught telling lies, having affairs, committing financial improprieties or engaging in other scandalous behavior? Not everyone is convinced that it can, and some in the blogosphere have gone so far as to wonder if bad-boy (and bad girl) politicians are actually psychopaths.

Could they be right? If politicians and psychopaths share certain characteristics, perhaps they are on to something. There really is not much of a difference between the havoc wreaked on innocent lives by uncaring, unfeeling, selfish, irresponsible, parasitic criminals and elected officials who lie to their constituents, trade political favors for campaign contributions, turn a blind eye to the wishes of the electorate, cheat taxpayers out of hard-earned dollars, favor the corporate elite, entrench the military industrial complex, and spare little thought for the impact their thoughtless actions and hastily passed legislation might have on defenseless citizens.

Psychopaths and politicians both have a tendency to be selfish, callous, remorseless users of others, irresponsible, pathological liars, glib con artists shallow and lacking in remorse. Charismatic politicians, like criminal psychopaths, exhibit a failure to accept responsibility for their actions, have a high sense of self-worth, are chronically unstable, have socially deviant lifestyles, need constant stimulation, have parasitic lifestyles, and possess unrealistic goals. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Democrats or Republicans.

As a 2007 Scientific American article put it: “Superficially charming, psychopaths tend to make a good first impression on others and often strike observers as remarkably normal. Yet they are self-centered, dishonest and undependable, and at times they engage in irresponsible behavior for no apparent reason other than the sheer fun of it. Psychopaths routinely offer excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead.” That description could certainly describe more than a few politicians. It would take a few more pages to list names!!!

As it turns out, the majority of sociopaths/psychopaths never kill anyone with their own hands, nor do they end up in prison,” Dr. Stout said. “A smart sociopath can avoid prison and find other, less conspicuous ways to satisfy his or her lust for dominating and controlling others, and what better way than through politics and big business?” She went on to say that sociopaths often are extremely charismatic. They may not feel “higher emotions” like love and guilt, they may not have actual consciences, but they study those of us who do - and simply pretend.

So what is a concerned citizen to do? No one would dispute that it seems a very bad thing when we elect men and women who feel they can say anything, do anything, and damn the consequences. Why shouldn't every candidate for public office release their tax returns and medical records as well as birth certificate, and even prove their psychological fitness before their names go on a ballot? Seems reasonable to me. Every office seeker. No exceptions. You want to run for public office, forget about privacy.

Since psychopaths can very often fool even skilled psychiatrists into thinking they’re normal, perhaps standardized psychological tests like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (and someday maybe brain scans) might be able to tip voters off to candidates who exhibit worrisome personality traits. Though not fool-proof, it's a start.

It increasingly feels like we are being led by a coalition of constitutional renegades, mentally damaged political tricksters, and would-be socialist tyrants, speeding faster and faster over a political cliff. We can only pray the force of gravity will assert itself.
 
But we still live in a world framed by a remarkable enduring Constitution, and for the moment, we have the opportunity to remain free as intended – if.......... we step up to advocate for our God-granted rights and resist the persistent attempts by government to restrict us. The Founders understood that our freedoms do not flow from the government. They were not given to us only to be taken away by the will of the psychopaths. They are inherently ours. In the same way, the government’s appointed purpose is not to threaten or undermine our freedoms, but to safeguard them.

Until we can get back to this way of thinking, until we can remind our fellow Americans what it really means to be free, and until we can stand firm in the face of threats to our freedoms, we will continue to be treated like serfs and slaves in thrall to a bureaucratic police state run by political psychopaths. If psychological testing really could distinguish sincere leaders from destructive people with serious pathologies, it’s an idea that gets my vote.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Be Happy, Do What Happy People Do


What is it that makes us happy? If we ask those around us what it is that makes them happy, we might be surprised with some of the answers they come up with, but will likely agree with most of what they have to say. Neuro- and behavioral scientists have attempted to find and share a useful answer to this question by studying people from around the world. What they found surprised me.

The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. This year’s World Happiness Report focused on happiness and the community and how happiness has evolved over the past dozen years, with a focus on the technologies, social norms, conflicts and government policies that have driven those changes. When happiness was measured using six variables: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support, and generosity, the top five happiest countries in the world were found to be Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Netherlands. Rounding out the top 10 were Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. In 2019, the United States ranks in 19th place, down one spot from 2018 and five spots since 2017. So what can we learn from the happiest countries in the world that we can apply personally to become happier ourselves?

One of the unexpected findings that surprised me most was that sleep has more influence on our happiness than any other variable. Science is not sure whether it is correlation or causation, but those who are happiest get better sleep and  wake up more rested and refreshed. It's not a matter of sleeping more hours, but just about waking up believing they slept enough. Sleep is a time when our brains are shut down, no longer in control. This is apparently an essential key to human happiness.

Another key factor that is not a surprise is that the brain thrives on input and output with the outside world. We each need to believe we are not alone. When we believe that someone is there for us – whether other people or God – we are happier, which dovetails with the third key factor: Believing in something, no matter what it is, is better for the brain than believing in nothing. People who have spiritual beliefs of a greater and more powerful influence in their lives are happier than non-believers. A religious orientation does not matter.

Doing things for others engages the brain to a higher degree than when we are entirely self-focused. Volunteering works for many people, but all that really matters is that we regularly make simple gestures of kindness toward others. Replacing our own self-interests with the needs of others on a regular basis seems essential to happiness. Measuring one's life in terms of what one gives instead of what one gets is key.

Happiness is not just a cerebral emotion. If our bodies aren't happy, we cannot be completely happy. Our bodies evolved to be used – to be moved, to breathe lots of fresh air vigorously. Regular movement and purposefully breathing more than normal respiration requires are essential to keeping the body in tune and the brain happy.

So the top five factors in order are: Sleep, Social Interaction, Spirituality, Giving, and Exercise. In line with these are other behaviors that we may want to consider for adjustments in our own lives as well.

Happy people define their personal identity as more than just what they do to make a living; they don't live to work. A reasonable income level is important, but those who are happiest define themselves most by their passions, what they do for pleasure, how they enjoy life. Most, in one way or another, frequently embrace the natural world. Just getting outside for a quick walk more often amplifies one's happiness and sense of well-being.

In our modern world that revolves around the use of communications media, those who are happiest “unplug” more than others. There's a hefty correlation between time spent online and the amount of happiness one feels. Non-phone and offline activities like sleep, exercise, volunteering, and in-person social interactions result in more personal fulfillment joy.

The Scandinavian countries that lead the happiness findings are well known for harboring a strong sense of community, working together to resolve issues, and giving others the benefit of doubt. They pay more complements to each other, open more doors for strangers; they are more generous in lending a hand, whether financially or with their time. Because they have a stronger ethic about giving back to others, they share a significantly higher quality of life than those who do not volunteer their time and energy in their communities. The simple act of giving, in whatever form, activates reward centers in the brain that make givers feel great.

As I pick through these notes, I can easily reconcile the basis of my own happiness, but can also see there are areas where I might change the way I interact with the world to find even more joy from day to day.

Monday, November 11, 2019

For My Brothers


From the White House Playbook


"If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

the Gift of Naked Communication

“ Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire,” Adrienne Rich wrote in contemp...