Lifestyle, Soundness

This is the One Secret to Being Happy

It’s no news that every human being on earth wants to be happy. When you think about it, you’ll realize many things you do throughout the day are done specifically to make you cheerful. There’s no shame in that. Happiness is one of the best emotions you can experience, and it is definitely worth chasing!

Yet – despite your best efforts – at times happiness doesn’t come easily. Some days, everything just goes wrong. Other days, you simply aren’t feeling it. In any case, you miss out on the feeling of joy that makes living life really worth it. Is there a way that you can reliably stay happy?

It’s about mindset

Happy Smile

All people, from vastly different walks of life and immeasurably distinct areas of the world, have the ability to be happy. The rice farmer in Cambodia, the movie star in Hollywood, the beggar in the streets of Kochi, the business man in New York City – each of these individuals experiences the same emotion of happiness. If you look at this phenomenon from an analytical standpoint, it proves that happiness does not come from external situations, locations, or objects.

Happiness Isn’t External

If happiness isn’t caused by external factors, then there’s only one other option: happiness is internal. All things internal, including our emotions, ultimately come from our minds. This is great news! Just like almost everything else in our bodies, we have the power to train and even control our minds.

The secret to being happy

Happy Leap

The simple secret to being happy is to make up your mind to be happy, no matter what.

It’s almost too simple isn’t it? Can you really just choose to be happy in any situation? Yes, you can. And you most certainly should!

There are going to be challenges and unpleasantries you’ll have to overcome in your days here on earth. It’s part of the human experience. But wouldn’t you rather work through these challenges in a state of cheerfulness rather than anger or despair? If you can do that, tough situations won’t be much of a hurdle to you at all.

Make a habit out of being happy. Make it a mindset. Realize you have the power to choose happiness over any negative emotion, and use that power. Think about what your life would look like if you were constantly in a state of happiness. The only thing holding you back from from possessing that life is yourself.

A quick note

There is one condition in which happiness can’t be achieved: depression. For many different reasons, depression is becoming more and more common in society today. It is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain and leads to devastating results. If you even think there’s a chance you are experiencing depression, reach out to someone for help. You aren’t alone, and there are many different options for assistance and recovery. Stay strong and you’ll make it through to the other side.

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Fitness

Exercise Tips for Weight Loss

If you are trying to lose weight, a good workout routine is just as important as your diet. Regular exercise is always a great habit to cultivate, but it is an absolute necessity for shaving off those extra pounds. During this stage of your training, hitting the gym isn’t all about building muscle or lowering your mile time. There’s specific strategies you need to use to capitalize on the effort you put into exercising. Let’s take a look at some exercise tips with the goal of weight loss in mind.

Burn those calories!

BURN THOSE CALORIES

Start doing exercises with the intent of burning calories. Go for a long run at a pace you can manage, or try an elliptical or cycling machine. If you don’t feel like any of those options, simply take an hour-or-so walk. This will still burn about 250 calories!

The point here is not to increase performance levels, but to create a calorie deficit in your body.

Your body naturally uses a lot of calories just to keep your systems running, yet every extra calorie you burn during exercise is one less you have to count for the day.

Almost everything that involves some degree of movement is going to fry those calories right out of your body. In general, aerobic exercises will be much better for this than strength training – so maybe skip the dumbbells for now. Find something you really enjoy that gets your heart pumping. Stick with it diligently, and you will crush your weight loss goals faster than ever.

Exercise on a daily basis

Plan Out When you will ExerciseYou eat every day, right? Unless you’re on some kind of awesome fasting diet, you need to exercise every day. Each ounce of food you put in your body either gets used up, stored, or discarded. The healthiest approach is to use it up as best as you can. The moment when your body runs out of food to use as fuel is the moment it will start using stores of fat for energy. This is exactly the result you are looking for.

It’s hard to go to the gym on a daily basis.

You knew from the beginning that weight loss was going to take a lot of work, and this is just part of your commitment. Make an effort to view your exercise time as holy time. Let nothing except an emergency situation take precedence over it.

Besides, there is something special about using free time to work out. It’s cleansing because you know there’s only one thing you have to focus on. You can have complete confidence that every minute spent is a productive minute. Not to mention you’ll feel on top of the world after you’re done.

Go straight from your bed to the gym

Morning in the City

Getting your workout in early is key to burning fat. When you first wake up, your body has processed all of the food you ate the previous day. This means that any energy it uses during exercise is coming straight from fat. It’s an awesome hack that you can do on yourself for almost instant results!

You may find it physically easier to work out in the mornings.

Hormone levels are elevated right after you wake up, providing a boost in energy and focus. If you discover you still feel pretty groggy during your morning exercises, try using a caffeinated drink to kick-start yourself into gear. Hot drinks like coffee aren’t the best option for this – instead try a healthy powdered mix like Zipfizz to make sure you remain completely hydrated for the duration of your workout routine.

Exercise is proven to heighten your mood for up to twelve hours! It only makes sense to take advantage of this early in the day to reap the best rewards. In addition, you probably don’t have any other commitments to adjust around in the morning. Knocking your workout off your daily list right away will allow you to spend more time with family, hobbies, and work.

Have persistance

If you weigh yourself before you go exercise and again after you are done, you probably won’t see any changes. This does not mean your efforts were in vain. Reshaping your body takes a bit of time. Keep at it with ferocious persistence, and one day you’ll look in the mirror and realize you are a whole different person!

 

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Food

Three Popular Processed Foods to Stay Away From

We live in the future.

Electric cars drive themselves around on freeways. Products we use and love are pushed out of factories by the millions. An infinite well of information is available to us on the internet, which is growing every day. On the surface, everything can seem quite idealistic. Life is easier than it has ever been – even kings of old didn’t have a tenth of the luxuries most people enjoy today.

However, there is often a dark side to humanity’s continued quest to conquer our future. Turns out, progress and efficiency aren’t always positive things. One area humans have managed to screw things up is food. The food we eat is mass-produced on an unprecedented scale in this modern world, and the drive to produce food as cheaply and quickly as possible has led to some disastrous results.

There are certain manufactured items that are literally pumped full of artificial chemicals and preservatives. In some cases, these additives are precisely and intentionally included to create cravings and addictions (take caffeine in soda, for example). These artificial extras can wreak havoc on your body.

In this article we will take a look at three foods that you should avoid, and why. Unfortunately, all three of these foods have become mainstream commodities.

Processed Cheese

Processed Cheese

 

 

You’ve seen these before.

 

 

They’re an American staple: the single-serve slice of cheese. Perfect for a kid’s lunchbox or melting on top of a hamburger. They taste pretty good too. Dangerously good.

Cheese items such as these are labeled as “processed”, and are only required to have 51% cheese in the ingredients. What is the other 49%? Depending on the manufacturer, it’s a mixture of emulsifiers, acids, artificial coloring, salt, and mold inhibitors. Yikes.

While these additives may help the food last for months and turn a nice yellow color, none of them belong in your body. Do you know what potassium sorbate and sodium tartrate are? Unless you’re an organic chemist, probably not. In that case, maybe you should avoid ingesting them.

Many cheese products these days advertise that they are “Made with real cheese!”.

Instead of seeing this as an incentive to buy, consider it a warning flag. Sure, a little bit of natural ingredients is better than none. You should still take the time to read the nutrition facts and ingredient list to determine if its cheese worth eating.

An item that is 51% cheese barely deserves the title of ‘cheese’. If you’re going to eat cheese, make sure it is the real deal from now on.

White Bread

Processed Bread

Did you know that flour is not naturally white? It makes sense if you think about it. Flour is made from grains, all of which are various shades of brown or tan. How in the world does flour become white, and why is white flour so popular today?

The snowy, powdery substance we all have used at some point in our baking career is called ‘refined flour’. The process of refining flour includes bleaching, fumigation, and adding dozens of different chemicals like polyexy ethylene monostrate. The result? Flour that is stripped of all its nutritional value, just as it has been stripped of all color. Refined flour has less fiber in it, and thus feels less satisfying to eat. This, of course, is very good for the people making it. The more we eat, the richer they get.

Bread is the main way most people consume flour.

White bread made from white flour has become so common that it’s easy to see it as the norm. Whether it’s the bread sticks our favorite restaurant brings out, the crust on our pizza, or the slices on our sandwich, white bread has absolutely taken over.

Don’t let white bread’s everyday presence fool you. Like the inexplicably popular school punk, it’s better off avoided. Opt for whole-grain and whole-wheat choices whenever possible, and your body will thank you.

Chips

Potato Chips

Chips seem to be one of those things that just end up in your shopping cart. You make your way to the registers and suddenly realize you’ve thrown two bags of Doritos in the basket sometime during your journey through the aisles. Oh well, you think. Chips are cheap, and they’re a great snack whether on the go or at home. A few movie nights and hundreds of calories later, the chips are gone – until the next grocery run.

It would be great if snack chips were healthy.

But… they’re not. At all. Chips are completely empty calories, meaning they don’t provide any vitamins/minerals/nutrients to your system. When you choose to eat chips over other healthy tidbits, you are displacing all the benefits your body would have gotten with thin wafers of fat and salt.

Just like processed cheese and white flour, the manufacturing method of chips includes adding tons of chemicals. How does a potato actually go from a brown spud to a potato chip? It’s not a simple action of slicing and frying, which is what many manufacturers want you to believe. In reality, the potato is often turned into a paste and mixed with yeasts, acids, and enzymes before being smeared into thin discs and dumped in a fryer. The process for corn chips can be equally terrifying.

Next time you find a bag of chips in your cart, take it back to the chip aisle or tell the cashier you decided not to get it. There are a few chips you can buy that are more health-focused. Try these out instead if you absolutely can’t resist the satisfying crunch of a chip.

Be Different

Going along with the crowd is regularly a recipe for disaster. Just because foods like these three are so common does not mean you should be eating them. Be mindful about the fuel you put in your body, because it will always affect you for better or for worse.

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Soundness

Meditation Posture Guide For Beginners

Does this situation sound familiar to you?

You’ve been meditating for a few minutes with great success. Everything is going blissfully well, until a nagging strain in your back starts to distract you from concentrating on your breathing. You sit up a little straighter, which helps. Back to breathing. A few minutes later, your neck starts to hurt. Then your shoulders. Gah- it never ends. What is going on? Staying focused during meditation is hard enough without having to endure aches from random parts of your body!

You’re not alone in suffering these frustrating distractions. Especially if you are a beginner, it can be common to cut sessions short due to simple discomfort. I was definitely prone to these aches during the first few months of daily meditation.

Luckily, the fix is very straightforward. Employing proper posture will wipe out these troubles faster than a diving falcon. By paying attention to my posture, I am able to meditate much longer and much deeper. I know this will work for you too. Let’s take a look at some time-worn tips for perfecting your mediation posture.

The Seven-Point Posture of Vairocana

Variocana Meditation

Buddhist culture is known for its emphasis on mediation. Vairocana is a celestial Buddha often pictured using a simple yet specific position while meditating. Throughout the years, people have used Vairocana’s posture to enhance their own practices.

Here it is, broken down into its seven main components:

  1. Sit comfortably with your legs crossed.
  2. Rest your hands in your lap or on your knees.
  3. Straighten your back. Imagine your spine as a perfect stack of coins.
  4. Spread your shoulders, like the wings of a large bird.
  5. Slightly lower your chin. Make sure your neck is balanced atop your spine.
  6. Relax your jaw and keep the tip of your tongue lightly touching your upper palate.
  7. Keep your gaze slightly lowered, peering over the top of your nose.

It might be a good idea to read over these seven points at the beginning of each meditation session until you can get into this position naturally.

Where to Sit While Meditating

Where you choose to sit before you start to meditate can make a huge difference to your posture. In general, it is best to sit on the ground. Western culture isn’t accustomed to this, so it may feel a little strange the first few times you do it. A pillow or other support is vital in keeping your tailbone elevated and pelvis comfortably rotated forward.

Zafu Pillow Meditation

Did you know there’s actually pillows made specifically for meditating?

These are called Zafu Cushions – and at the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, getting one of these changed my life. Zafu Cushions are made to keep their form instead of compacting over time like the stuffing in normal pillows. The one I have is filled with buckwheat kernels, which I had never heard of before getting it. After using one of these for months, I’d call it a necessity for anyone serious about meditation.

Here’s a link to the exact cushion I ended up getting: Peace Yoga Zafu Cushion

Remember to keep your legs comfortably crossed while sitting. The key word here is comfortable. You probably have seen pictures of people in the lotus position, with their ankles on top of each opposite knee. I know I’m not flexible enough for the lotus position, but you might be. Crossing your legs normally is much easier and still acceptable.

Meditate

Find Out What Works for You

In the end, meditation is always a highly personalized experience. Everyone gets something different out of it, and that goes for posture as well. Follow the guidelines above but feel free to adjust them slightly to fit your body’s own tendencies. With a little practice, you’ll be pulling hour-long sessions without so much as a ping of pain from your back!

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