The notion that a human being should be constantly happy is a uniquely modern, uniquely American, uniquely destructive idea.
I think instead [of happiness] we should be working for contentment... an inner sense of fulfillment that's relatively independent of external circumstances.
Among other things, neuroplasticity means that emotions such as happiness and compassion can be cultivated in much the same way that a person can learn through repetition to play golf and basketball or master a musical instrument, and that such practice changes the activity and physical aspects of specific brain areas.
Carbohydrate density is simple to calculate -- just divide the quantity of carbohydrate in food by the weight of the food. The more carbs packed into a given gram of food, the higher its carbohydrate density.
People who are contented and serene sleep well. They fall asleep easily, stay asleep, and wake refreshed. Conversely, people who are anxious, stressed, or depressed do not sleep well, and chronic insomnia is strongly associated with mood disorders. These are clear correlations, but what is cause and what is effect is not clear. Most experts agree that sleep and mood are closely related, that healthy sleep can enhance emotional well-being, while insufficient quantity or quality of sleep can adversely affect it.
My personal opinion is that the neutral position on the mood spectrum—what I called emotional sea level—is nothappiness but rather contentment and the calm acceptance that is the goal of many kinds of spiritual practice.
Gardening is not trivial. If you believe that it is, closely examine why you feel that way. You may discover that this attitude has been forced upon you by mass media and the crass culture it creates and maintains. The fact is, gardening is just the opposite - it is, or should be, a central, basic expression of human life.
By keeping my hand in that, it's the way I keep learning. The main way you learn in medicine is by practicing and working with patients.
As any doctor can tell you, the most crucial step toward healing is having the right diagnosis. If the disease is precisely identified, a good resolution is far more likely. Conversely, a bad diagnosis usually means a bad outcome, no matter how skilled the physician.
Fear and greed are potent motivators. When both of these forces push in the same direction, virtually no human being can resist.
I have argued for years that we do not have a health care system in America. We have a disease-management system - one that depends on ruinously expensive drugs and surgeries that treat health conditions after they manifest rather than giving our citizens simple diet, lifestyle and therapeutic tools to keep them healthy.
We need to accept the seemingly obvious fact that a toxic environment can make people sick and that no amount of medical intervention can protect us. The health care community must become a powerful political lobby for environmental policy and legislation.
Citizens must pressure the American Hospital Association, the American Public Health Association, the Centers for Disease Control and other relevant governmental agencies to make greening our hospitals and medical centers a top priority so that they themselves don't create even more illness.
The World Health Organization has recognized acupuncture as effective in treating mild to moderate depression.
The bottom line is that the human body is complex and subtle, and oversimplifying - as common sense sometimes impels us to do - can be hazardous to your health.
You can't afford to get sick, and you can't depend on the present health care system to keep you well. It's up to you to protect and maintain your body's innate capacity for health and healing by making the right choices in how you live.
Each day as I travel through downtown Tucson, I am amazed at how quickly the most ancient of human behaviors have changed. For as long as there have been Homo sapiens - roughly 200,000 years - people have filled their lives principally with two activities: talking directly with other people, and doing physical things.
In the world at large, people are rewarded or punished in ways that are often utterly random. In the garden, cause and effect, labor and reward, are re-coupled. Gardening makes sense in a senseless world. By extension, then, the more gardens in the world, the more justice, the more sense is created.
My passion for gardening may strike some as selfish, or merely an act of resignation in the face of overwhelming problems that beset the world. It is neither. I have found that each garden is just what Voltaire proposed in Candide: a microcosm of a just and beautiful society.
I am a particular fan of integrative exercise - that is, exercise that occurs in the course of doing some productive activity such as gardening, bicycling to work, doing home improvement projects and so on.
A beautiful bouquet or a long-lasting flowering plant is a traditional gift for women, but I have recommended that both men and women keep fresh flowers in the home for their beauty, fragrance, and the lift they give our spirits.
Technology has a shadow side. It accounts for real progress in medicine, but has also hurt it in many ways, making it more impersonal, expensive and dangerous. The false belief that a safety net of sophisticated drugs and machines stretches below us, permitting risky or lazy lifestyle choices, has undermined our spirit of self-reliance.