Department Of Listen To This, For Something Insightful To Consider
Chapter 347 In A Never-Ending Series
What could be more appropriate for Spring, the season of growth, renewal and new beginnings, than to consider what we think about, and how we pursue, happiness and contentment?
(intro to) Hidden Brain Podcast: Happiness 2.0: The Path To Contentment.
“The conventional way most of us go about accomplishing anything, is to work hard at it. When it comes to happiness, many of us say, ‘If this is something I really want, I need to go out and get it.’
This might be especially true in the United States, where the Declaration of Independence celebrates the ‘pursuit of happiness.’ The problem is, pursuing happiness can have the paradoxical effect of chasing happiness away. Trying to elude unhappiness can be similarly counterproductive.
(in this episode we) kick off a month-long series we’re calling Happiness 2.0. We talk with psychologist Iris Mauss, who explains why happiness can seem more elusive the harder we chase it, and what we can do instead to build a lasting sense of contentment.
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Department Of Commander In Chief
What would moiself do without podcasts? 
Can’t remember where I heard this (a podcast, most likely), so moiself apologizes for the lack of attribution….
Research into human nature (aka the full employment strategy for psychologiss) has led to the tactic of *reframing* negative or tricky situations, which can be an effective solution to understanding and solving them. For example, take the words self-control and self-command.
Talking about “self-control” seems to have fallen out of behavioral science vogue. What is become more popular is attributing bad habits and harmful behavior patterns to a combination of genetics, environment, etc. Certainly, these are all factors for any situation, positive or negative. But if you have a problem with the concept of self-control (or even with the term itself), try reframing it to this: self-command.
But first, we at self-command central  need to define a term that is used in subsequent paragraphs: Dead Food.
Oh, do you really?
“ ‘Dead food’ is the newest title given to food that has had the life packaged, preserved, or cooked out of it, to the point where it has become sadly void of virtually all nutritional value. Dead food refers to processed food or food without nutrients. It is called dead because it has been refined to a point that it is bereft of minerals, vitamins, and fibers.
These types of ‘foods’ are not foods!!! Rather they are a series of synthetically derived ingredients that are mixed together into something that tastes OK, has a long shelf life and actually does more harm than good to our health. In recent times these health depriving ‘foods’ have become quite popular and often a staple in the Standard Western Diet. As such, we have seen an incredible rise in modern diseases like diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, infertility, cancer and more….
Live foods are foods that are consumed fresh, raw and/or in a condition as close as possible to their original, vibrant, living state. The basic idea behind all live foods is retaining the very best that natural foods have to offer, including live enzymes, antioxidants and other nutrients.
(dead food v. alive food, deepH.com )
“There are numerous ways to classify food—low fat, high sodium, low fiber, high sugar, clean, gluten free, vegetarian, lactose free, to name a few. But what if you were told the path to good health was to eat only ‘alive’ food and avoid ‘dead’ food?
So, what exactly is a ‘dead’ food? If it can sit on your counter for days or weeks and not go bad, then it’s a dead food. These foods are refined, highly processed, often synthetic and have little-to-no nutritional value. Think about foods like cheese-flavored crackers, meal replacement bars, fruit snacks and flavored beverages. Chemicals? Check. Artificial colors and flavors? Check. Ingredients on the label that you can’t pronounce? Check.
Unfortunately, these processed, chemical-rich foods are pervasive in the American diet. We want fast, convenient and tasty food and there’s plenty on the supermarket shelves that fit the bill.”
( Alive food v. Dead food, ACE certification )
*Most of us know about (or are at least familiar with the concept of ) the nutritional ideal of the “perfect plate,” which consists of 50 % veggies and fruit, 25 % whole grains, and 25 % a lean/high fiber protein source. 
* Most of us know, or at least have heard, that we should not drink our calories, and that sugar-laden soft drinks, milk shakes and sports drinks – even allegedly healthy smoothies – are awash in calories but don’t make you feel full, and that diet sodas and artificially sweetened beverages are no better than their full sugar counterparts and in fact are also linked to increased food cravings for high calorie foods and Type II diabetes ….
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We don’t necessarily let our meals be dominated by simple carbs (bread, white rice, white pasta, sugar, chips) and soft drinks, and all the synthetic snack foods, cereals, and other dead foods, because we’re lazy or incompetent or greedy. 
But it’s likely we’ve stopped commanding you own lives. Who is in charge?
Advertisers for the industrial/fast/dead food industries are trying to get us to eat when we’re not hungry, and to think that we’re hungry 24/7. The entertainment industry wants us to park your badonkadonks on the sofa from dinner time to bedtime, stream our brains out and then brag about it later. Remember when the word “binge” did not have positive connotations (“We ordered in and binged all episodes of ‘Housewives of Chernobyl’ last night…”)?
Self-command. Who is calling the shots in your life, and what are the areas in your life where the commander is anyone, anything, but yourself?
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Department Of Back to Happiness and Contentment:
In Praise Of Simple Pleasures
There is simple yet insightful essay (recently referred to by The Washington Post Columnist Carolyn Hax) that, although written some 18 years ago, addresses some of what we now might call gratitude awareness and mindfulness before those concepts got into the mainstream.
When I read the essay I was reminded of a phone call in January with daughter Belle. After catching up with her goings-on, Belle asked MH and I about what we were doing, and I couldn’t really think of much to say, other than something like it was just another “uneventful normal day.”
Many “normal days” in a row, are, as the essay’s author points out, the bulk of days for most people. Thus, since “most of life *is* normal days, to be in love with them is to be in love with life.”
To be in love with normal days is to be in love with life.
However much we await the arrival of fantastic things, or dread the tragedies and anticipate their passing…it all does pass, or at least change. Meanwhile…
“How many of us pass our lives in anticipation? Of the larger homes, smaller bodies and fattened bank accounts of our dreams; of the losses and disasters of our nightmares? We’re so focused on what we pray will happen or on what we hope never will happen that we’re blind to what is.
What is, for most people, is normal days.
Days when you’re aware of being neither particularly sick nor well. When your relatives, friends and partners waver between buoying you up and sitting on your nerves; when you’re too busy to notice much of anything — except that you’re too busy. Days when people ask, “So what happened today?” and you pause, think and come up with squat.
Those are days worth loving.”
(excerpt from “The Dog’s Wet And Life Is Wonderful,”
Donna Britt, The Washington Post, June 16, 1995)
I found the essay both sweet and profound, and hope y’all check it out.
And in praise and recognition of simple pleasures, moiself will confess to the first one that sprang to my normal (well, for me) mind:
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Department Of The Secret To Eternal Youth
Dateline: Monday, North Coast Pinball. I am playing one of the arcade’s newest – as in, most recently acquired – games.  A ~12 year old boy, whom I’d seen earlier playing some of the games, was playing chess with his sister (? they look like fraternal twins), at the arcade’s games table, which is a few feet from the pinball machine I’m playing. He and his sister get up to leave, and he approaches me. He looks at me shyly, glances down at his shoes, then looks up and smiles the sweetest bright-eyed smile I’ve seen in years. He holds out two tokens in his right hand, and nods at me.
“For me?” I ask. He nods again, and blushes. I take the tokens and thank him. The two kids leave the arcade, and I inform WI, the arcade owner, of this encounter.
“Awww,” WI says, raising his voice two octaves. “ ‘Will you be my valentine?’ “
“It was so sweet,” moiself gushes. “Like being asked to go steady.”
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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”
(Author E.B. White )
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May you expeience the emotional equivalent of being asked to go steady;
May you strive to be in love with the life of normal days;
May you find a way to work the word badonkadonks into your next conversation;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Plenty, actually. Just like I did, and continue to do, before this genre of news and entertainment existed.
 Okay; there’s no such thing, but I’m working on it.
 Plant-based, ideally!
 Or grandparents, who lived through The Great Depression and had it hammered into them that you never know when (or if) your next meal is coming so you must eat all of whatever is offered to you.
 Or, perhaps a brutally frank self-assessment and/or some sessions with a trained counselor might indicate that, maybe, we *are* and now that we have identified these tendencies we can work on overcoming and/or managing them.
 Which is why I found one in last year’s Christmas stocking.