Tag Archives: love

Elusive Pleasures: 10 Ways to Feel Better!

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Elusive Pleasures: 10 Ways to Feel Better!

What if you could do some simple brain exercises to get more pleasure in your life? Would you be interested?

What? Exercise my brain? How in the world do I do that?

Good news! For these exercises, you don’t even need to get off the couch! You don’t need to purchase new work-out clothes or shoes. Better yet, there is no gym membership required!

Welcome to the fourth of this five-part series, “Elusive Pleasures.” In this segment, we’ll explore brain exercises to improve our pleasure responses.

As I said before, neuroscientists are our friends! The research they’ve conducted paves the way for us to change the way our brains respond to any challenge. Today we’ll review ten science-backed ways science we can start our internal workout:

1.     Develop new interests and rekindle your interest in activities you left off long ago. New neuronal connections can be super-charged by learning new things. This can be as simple as learning to play an instrument, learning a new language, or learning how to crochet. Any novel task can stimulate new neuronal connections in your brain! Choose a pleasurable, interesting activity, and strengthen the pleasure circuitry in your brain!

painting and drawing tools set
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

2.     Read a favorite book aloud with a friend. Yes, reading aloud is different for you, and the process of taking turns hearing the book in your own voice and in your friend’s voice will lay new neuronal connections that enhance the pleasure center in your brain.

couple holding books sitting on bed

Photo by Zun Zun on Pexels.com

 

3.     Add a new aroma to your favorite activities. By adding an enjoyable scent with an enjoyable activity, more areas of your brain will be stimulated with a pleasure signal. The olfactory system is highly associated with emotional responses, so this one’s an easy exercise! It’s as easy as adding a lavender bath bomb to your warm bubbly bath.

aroma basket beautiful flowers blooming

 4.     Try new foods! Yes, it’s true! Learn about new foods, recipes and seasonings. Ask others about their recipes, how they use the foods you’ve never tried, and give it a try yourself. The pleasure circuit in our brain fires wildly when we’re engaged in an activity that sustains life, and eating is high on this list!

 5.     While you’re at it, explore the nutritional benefits of foods that help release dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure. Foods and supplements that increase dopamine include those rich in L-tyrosine, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy. Consider drinking tea, seasoning with turmeric with pepper, supplements like Ginkgo Biloba, and others you’ll find on the list on this site: Think Tyrosine.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

anise aroma art bazaar

6.     Consider probiotics. There’s so much talk these days about probiotics. Some research supports the idea that toxins in our gut from “bad bacteria,” (lipopolysaccharides) actually destroy the brain cells that produce dopamine! Probiotics can rebalance the gut’s bacteria, thus preserving our dopamine-producing brain cells so we can enjoy more pleasure.

7.     If you can, engage in a strenuous activity like running for 30 minutes or more. In some people, this releases the body’s natural opioid into the pleasure centers of the brain. This has been known as the “runner’s high.” If you’re not able to engage in strenuous activity, instead do isometric exercises. This involves tightening and relaxing different muscle groups, but not necessarily moving the joints. Hold each contraction five to ten seconds, and do this several times for each muscle group in your body. Include your facial muscles, too! The simple act of smiling (yep, a big, toothy grin) can bring the pleasure response.

woman running wearing gray shirt

Photo by Luka Siemionov on Pexels.com

 

8.     Engage senses you don’t use often, such as stereognosis. This is the ability you have to determine what an object is by its feel. For example, place a few objects in a bag. Choose common objects like a paper clip, a spoon, a few coins and a comb. Now, without looking, place your hand in the bag and identify each object by its feel. That’s stereognosis! Have a friend (or your kids) gather items for your bag, and you gather items for theirs. This simple exercise, though it may seem silly, can create and strengthen neuronal connections and increase your pleasure responses.

9.     Walk into a store, bank or library rather than doing business by machines. Interacting with other human beings rather than machines and recordings strengthens our neuronal connections and pleasure circuits. Take the time to look these people in the eye, ask how they’re doing today, and really listen. Encourage them, compliment them or express your gratitude for the job they’re doing. Your reward? Enhanced neuronal connections and pleasure responses!

 

adult baker breads city

P hoto by Tran on Pexels.com

10.  Last, but certainly not least, is for mature audiences only. If you’re over 18, you can read on:
Read the rest of this entry

Diversity

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it burst forth from rock, high in the mountains-

its journey before unseen.

now respendent with light, with movement,

wind catching droplets,

splaying out upon the sky

in joyful play.

then down.

down the jagged crests,

tracing o’er all crevices and round mossy stones,

giving in to grand descent,

trusting powers drawing on its way.

to go, where least resistance begs,

unrelenting,

e’re to make its journey

as it may.

til when upon a jutting cliff,

a solid mass,

blockade,

its forces split.

“Which way?”

the stream,

it wonders,

droplets crash and turn in wild careen,

hesitating e’re so briefly,

then to choose.

or be chosen.

diverse paths from hence-

bifurcating,

two where once was one.

Yet on, no stopping,

naught to bring them back,

or time to pause in retrospection.

down, they travel, each its separate way.

the two,

now different,

lost to what once was.

yet

both-

still valuable with richness unsurpassed.

both-

bringing life and nourishment to all they touch.

both-

essentially the same, though drawn in diverse ways.

until at last

they reach the sea.

again

the two are one

in unity.

the world,

enfolded,

molded,

cleansed and moistened-

life

entrusted

here

so lovingly.

image

-Joan T Warren

This free-style prose flowed from my mind and fingertips tonight as thoughts I’ve been pondering for months–thoughts of sadness and turmoil over our polarization as a country, which is torn between left and right political views and personalities, thoughts of the hope for unity and love rising up, embracing diversity, thoughts of value and respect for all living things, born and unborn, bound and free, rich and poor, faithful and disdainful, wild and tame–all came together in the imagery of the water cycle, in what I perceive to be a love-gift from our maker.

May we care for our planet, and may we care for each other: Republican and Democrat, Independent, Green, Black, Blue, Whatever. May we care for each other whether behind walls or by reaching out. May we care for each other whether we feel a need to set personal boundaries and draw lines or whether we feel we’ve been ostracized, abused or neglected by someone’s boundaries or lines. May we care for each other whether worried about losing rights for equality and choice or to bear arms. May we care for each other whether we trace our ancestral culture to Isaac or Ishmael, to Sitting Bull, Dalai Lama, Peter the Great or Henry the 8th. May we do so without having to face a common foe threatening our existence, forcing us to pull together to fight it. May we care for each other, period.

May we care, lovingly.

Daily Prompt: Lovingly

 

 

In a Blink

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IMG_3751She came into this world

and they wrapped her in pink:

A present from God,

with a smile and a wink–

Read the rest of this entry

Four-Dimensional Thinking: 2014 Review, and More!

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You may have heard of three dimensional thinking; considering past, present and future. As we close out 2014, and welcome the new year, I’d like to propose we consider not just 3-D thinking, but four dimensional thinking as well.

Read the rest of this entry

Passing

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Untimely for we who stay,

Torn in sore lament–

Time and distance

Ne’er to be breached again;

Not from our doing.

Resigned unto eternity

Or waiting to be joined again Read the rest of this entry

Are you akin to kindness?

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It’s not news; as far as history traces our interactions, we humans have had troubles with one another. We get ourselves tied in knots worrying about the latest news: a new terrorist group here, a gang murder there, racist violence and religious discord– just about everywhere. So-called civilized or savage, we are humans, and we have too often let our worst sides get the best of us.

I heard once that for every negative statement we give to another, that person needs at least ten positives to recover! I don’t know how much scientific research went into that number, but I do know this:

We flourish in an atmosphere of kindness.

Kindness is more than holding your breath while you give the homeless man a quarter. It is more than holding your tongue when you want to correct your coworker’s frequent mistakes. It’s even more than a side-hug and a cheek-kiss greeting when you’d rather not be there at all.

Read the rest of this entry

Has Anybody?

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“Has anybody told you today?”

“Well, just in case, I’m telling you again: I love you.”

It was his trademark; his brand, calling card. If you saw Mickey, you could count on hearing these words. You could count on a hug and a smile. If not from him directly, from many around you, as he facilitated groups and classes to “get up, tell someone you love them, hug a neck.”

He was the Cowboy Preacher. The Drunk Preacher, some called him. He’d chuckle. I doubt he’d ever had a drop of alcohol in his life.

He sought out drunks, with a purpose, to share God’s amazing love. Read the rest of this entry

ROFLMAO

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I can’t remember the last time I actually rolled on the floor, laughing my ass off. Maybe that would explain the slight but ever so definite widening of this writer’s derriere?

This week’s DP Challenge from WordPress prompts us to remember and share the last time we had a “real, authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh.” Perhaps the editor is in need of a good laugh. Apparently, so am I!

It’s funny you should ask, WordPress. Just yesterday, I wondered aloud (to a confidant) if I may be getting depressed, maybe need a little medication. I’ve been pushing my mind toward gratitude, happiness, enjoyment, and it keeps sliding back into the gutter where sludge hangs out. Sludge like the PLOM’s (poor little ol’ me’s), BLAHS’s (Boy Look at Her Stuff’s) and the POINTY FINGER’s (Projecting Out In Negative Thinking: Your Fault I’m Not Getting Everything Right!).  There’s been a lot of stress in life in the last year, oh, actually make that in the last fifty-six years (yes, I’ll be fifty-seven soon! Maybe that’s reason enough!). Stress, they say, can lead to depression by depleting the serotonin levels over time.

The prescription, so kindly returned, included practical things to improve my mindset, such as mentally rehearsing all I’m grateful for (check), getting enough sleep (un-check), exercising regularly (getting better, check), making time for friends (yeah, right), and, last but not least, laughing.
“Rent a comedy you’re sure will really make you laugh: belly laugh, can’t stop laughing, rolling on the floor laughter. It’s really good medicine!”
I slumped on through the day, the next morning, and then saw the WordPress challenge for the week. Maybe there’s something to this idea, twice in two days coming at me.

So, dutifully, I Googled movies that are sure to make me roll on the floor laughing.

Reading their reviews, I noticed something odd. All, without exception, had a dark side, a tragedy or relationship struggle, a cancer to battle, you know, really un-funny stuff, blended with “hilarious” antics. It made me wonder, Is it funny because we need something to be funny at that moment? Would it still be funny if you take it out of the context of contrasting misery? They say most comedians come from grossly abusive and dysfunctional families, you know. Anyway, I’m not sure that’s the sort of comedy I need right now. None the less, I selected a few that seemed lighter than most. Here’s my list:

Midnight in Paris

Greenberg

Kick-Ass

MacGruber

Seven Psychopaths

Sleepwalk with Me

This is 40

What do you think? Will any of these actually take me there? What funny movie or show do you recommend?

Hopefully at least one of these movies will get me ROFLMAO. Real. Authentic. Tearful. Hearty. Belly Laughs. Then I can tell you why it’s funny.

In the mean time, something happened to remind me that someone around me may need encouragement more than I. It only took a minute to give that person some positive feedback. Guess what? I feel better, for two days now. I think she does too.

So for now, I’ll be happy with feeling better, but I won’t turn down a hearty laugh as soon as it finds me.

Thanks, WordPress!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9_fjZHcs2bY

©Joan T. Warren

On the Move: Church for Introverts

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Fading fast, treasured steps and memories.
Church for introverts.

imageFor WordPress Weekly Photo challenge,On the Move

Joan T. Warren
Randy’s iphone

Reblog of my Daughter’s Amazing Post Today

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You’ve read here about my daughter a bit, and you’ve seen some of my daughter’s photography. Now, be blown away with her most recent post:

http://theopenbench.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-yellow-brick-road.html

©DenesiaChristine on Instagram, View from Yellow Brick Road

©DenesiaChristine on Instagram, View from Yellow Brick Road

She is amazing. I love her so much–I am spilling with clichés to try to tell you, but I guess you can imagine, if you read this.

© Joan T Warren

Grace Is. . .

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. . . being a poor peasant girl,

discovering the child of God born in me!

A Christmas Song

Thank you, Brian, for the mention! Let us remember to pray those who currently suffer for doing good.

http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/links-roundup-42.html

©Joan T. Warren

This new mini-post series, “Grace is. . .,” is an impromptu, occasional, free-style offering of random kindness. Feel free to share your thoughts on grace in the comment section below! Spread the joy. 😉

Grace Is. . .

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. . . Burying an old potato

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  and reaping a fistful of new potatoes.

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©Joan T. Warren

This new mini-post series, “Grace is. . .,” is an impromptu, occasional, free-style offering of random kindness. Feel free to share your thoughts on grace in the comment section below! Spread the joy. 😉

Grace Is. . .

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girl cries

. . .Crying all the way home from school

with a sealed note from the teacher for your parents to sign,

then finding out she reported a good thing you did that day

instead of the bad.

girl happy mom

©Joan T. Warren

This new mini-post series, “Grace is. . .,” is an impromptu, occasional, free-style offering of random kindness. Feel free to share your thoughts on grace in the comment section below! Spread the joy. 😉

Grace Is. . .

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. . . finding a long lost love whom you had hurt

and learning (s)he forgave you a long time ago.

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©Joan T. Warren

This new mini-post series, “Grace is. . .,” is an impromptu, occasional, free-style offering of random kindness. Feel free to share your thoughts on grace in the comment section below! Spread the joy. 😉

Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People–Part 1

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Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People–Part 1

A Little Background

A friend from the 1970’s is now a well-known writer, activist and speaker. When I first met him, he was probably about twenty years old. He was remarkable, even at that age, in his charisma, warmth, dedication, musical talent and ability to reach out to and relate to nearly anyone in an authentic and meaningful manner. He was the first person I met whose life called me to rethink my oh-so-well-informed-19-year-old-critical-judgment that all Christians are hypocrites.

imageBack then, remember, young people were idealistic. We were peace-loving activists who believed we could change the world. Brian exceeded all the other I’d-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-type activists I knew, as he embodied the notion of love and purity, doing his best to live as Jesus would in present day. No pot-smoking, let’s-all-love-each-other-but-I-really-mean-let’s-go-to-bed-sort was he. No, he was idealism at its best, and I loved him for it. I followed. I joined his family’s home church, meeting in an elementary school on Sundays and in their home on Wednesday nights. They meant to create a new testament church, similar to what the apostles in the early church experienced. We met in a circle, facing one another, talking about how we were doing, sharing a Bible verse that we felt encouraged by that week, praying for each other, singing songs together, breaking bread. I pretty much devoured every word, soaking up the lessons and applying them to my life as if they were the cure to all that ailed me. It was really quite wonderful, while it lasted.

Before long, the little church dissipated, dwindling away rapidly once Brian went off to college. It was he who was the main attraction, after all, in that time and place. Yet we who were impacted by those relational meetings remain bonded over time and space, even sharing a Facebook group today. Brian went on to an English degree, then became a pastor, and later a full-time author, activist and speaker.

Several years ago I stumbled upon him again, and found that he has not lost the ability to influence me powerfully. Through exchanging a few emails, reading a few of his books, his blog and Facebook page, Brian again spurs me to go beyond my working definitions in life, and out of my realm of comfort.

imageNot blindly, though: I am not a loyal follower of anyone like I was when I was 20. No, these days I’m more apt to think for myself. I’ve seen enough hypocrisy among Christian leadership to make me reconsider my 19-year-old-wisdom. I’ve met more dysfunctional, toxic and down-right scary folks in churches than anywhere else, and I’ve met some of the most sincere, authentic people-of-little-faith in the most ungodly  places.  So, now, when I read Brian’s writing, I don’t swallow it whole, but I certainly give it thoughtful consideration. Read the rest of this entry

Generational Torch-Bearing

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Coming home from a precious, short visit with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter this weekend, there was plenty of time alone in the car to think. As I considered some of our conversations, ideas emerged, in Haiku form–a short poem for a short visit. I love Haiku’s minimalist framework, as it presses and refines immense meaning into a mustard-seed shell. Without further ado, my offerings:

Photo by Denesia Christine (the missing middle member in this generation of three)

Photo by Denesia Christine (the missing middle member in this generation of three)

Generations here

heart to heart our stories share–

legacies of love.

Photo By Denesia Christine

Photo By Denesia Christine

*******************************

Rooted, solid, old

autumnal trees, mountains, me~

glowing as we fade

©JoanTWarren

A Delicate Strength

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Above the tree line, frigid wind, snow and ice sever all but the most adapted life forms.

In this harsh environment, against all expectation, alpine wildflowers paint the rocky terrain with vibrant hues of pink, purple, white and yellow:

National Park Service, Rocky Mountain National Park Alpine Flower
Rocky Mountain National Park Alpine Flower

Colors we typically associate with femininity–

certainly not our definition of rugged.
 
 
Courtesy Andy Baird, Travels with Gertie
Courtesy Andy Baird, Travels with Gertie

Though the largest clusters are one to two inches tall and less than a foot in diameter, most are miniscule–those pictured here, just an eighth of an inch! These tiny beauties have the power to attract attention despite intense competition from endless mountain views and pristine open skies:

Miniature stature we typically deem picayune–
certainly not our definition of majestic.

Sometimes needing several years to produce their brilliant best, they bloom as long as they’re able, which is sometimes just a day, a week, perhaps a month at most, then rest for the long winter. If damaged by caribou, moose or tourist, it may take years to recover the wound.

This level of productivity we might typically judge as insubstantial, flimsy–certainly not our definition of efficient or prolific.

Yet who among us could survive the throes of an alpine home?

Rocky Mountain National Park – National Park Service

How is it, then, these dainty fairies thrive amidst frozen, barren, wind-torn and rocky terrain? Read the rest of this entry

Deeply Rooted

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Deeply Rooted

There’s something about one’s heritage that runs deep.  Be it genetic memory, collective unconscious, morphic fields,  or some other forthcoming mechanism, I believe we encounter intangibles like values, interests and talents with innate responsivity that tends to override our conscious efforts.

When I was a child my family joked about our heritage, blended as it is, saying we were mutts or Heinz 57. Mostly, though, my ancestors were Read the rest of this entry