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Entries from January 2007

What is Your Formula for Living Long & Well?

Like Will Smith's latest movie, "The Pursuit of Happyness," it seems people are always seeking a better life. What is that magic formula that will make us happy? Home? Money? Love? Family? Security? Youth? Health? The list could go on. Abraham Maslow attempted to prioritize the list with his hierarchy of needs (Maslow's Hierarchy). He described that food, shelter and clothing are basic needs while self-actualization is a higher need. He suggests that people can pursue higher needs once the basic needs are achieved. Makes sense, but there might be a both/and in there. In other words, it is possible to pursue both higher needs and basic needs at the same time. Perhaps the winning formula is a bit more multi-pronged (or systemic) like that. For instance, one group of researchers has been on a quest to understand what contributes to the longevity of life. They discovered regions throughout the world where people lived longer, healthier lives. The answer appears to be composed of a variety of factors such as strong social support and family support along with diet and lifestyle. The researchers call these community pockets of long life "blue zones" and they're about to explore another blue zone in Costa Rica on January 29. Check in on their progress and think about how you can develop your own winning formula for living long and well. Remember to address the rich diversity of factors influencing your life! Best wishes...

Lesson from Gen Next

Judy Woodruff gathered the perspectives of 16-25 year olds (aka Generation Next) across the United States for her documentary, "Generation Next: Speak Up, Be Heard", currently airing on PBS. One interesting facet revealed is that in spite of the changing economic, sociopolitical, environmental, and other national and global conditions facing Gen Nexters, this group tends to be more open and accepting of others. This could indicate a positive step toward growth. For instance, according to Bowen Theory it is a measure of psychological health to accept differences in self and others. Often it is our own internal anxiety that cannot tolerate differences in others because we somehow feel threatened that we need to change to be like them or that they need to change to be more like us. Bowen calls it differentiation of self. Differentiation looks at the self first before responding in judgment to others. As Lao Tzu put it, "He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened." Here's to wisdom and enlightenment for Generation Next and all of the generations...

Cultivating "It"

Oprah Winfrey made headlines today (see stories in Newsweek and CNN) as news of her Girls Leadership Academy in South Africa opens. In her message, Winfrey says that education was her "path of possibility" and she wanted to offer that gift to girls who would "thrive" in spite of having "nothing." She says she was looking for "bright eyed wonders" who had "it." The "it" is something, I believe, Viktor E. Frankl also described in his book, Man's Search for Meaning. "It" is wonder, faith, love, spirit and it's powerful because it survives even the most excruciatingly painful experiences. "It" refuses to be jaded and stops you from hardening your heart. "It" is the strongest and bravest quality because "it" connects you to life. "It" defines true success. So, as you go into the new year making your resolutions, consider cultivating some of "it" in your life. Good luck and best thoughts & wishes to all this 2007.