Thursday, April 24, 2014

More Art Walkabout Photos

Don Mangus, L Street, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, L Street Alley, iPhone photo, 2014.

Don Mangus, Trunk Garden, iPhone photo, 2014.

Don Mangus, L Street Stop, iPhone photo, 2014.

Don Mangus, Leaf Bags, iPhone photo, 2014.

Don Mangus, Lower Greenville Ave., iPhone photo, 2014.

How to Shut Your Brain Off When You Just Can't Sleep

by Shelby Freedman Harris

As our societal demands get even greater with each passing year, we find that we are "on" 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This results in greater rates of insomnia, with more and more people reporting that they just can't turn off their brains at night.
Mental over-activity is a big problem for many people, but there are some helpful techniques that might aid in quieting things down at night.
1. Give yourself some mental and physical wind-down time. 
We are so busy nowadays that there's just not enough time in the day to get everything done. As a result, many people are working (housework, schoolwork, job tasks, managing finances) up until bedtime. The problem with this is that sleep isn't simply an on/off switch. We need to unwind and dim our mind in order to set the stage for sleep. Allow for at least an hour before bedtime to be protected, relaxing, wind-down time. This can help create closure for the day and allow your brain to begin the process of shutting off. Wind-down should take place somewhere outside of your bedroom. Keep the lights dim and avoid using anything with a screen (tablets, phones, computers, TV), as this can make your brain think it's still daytime. Reading, light stretching, journaling and meditating are all great options. Find what works best for you and make it a nightly routine.
2. Don't worry in bed. 
Lying in bed with an overactive mind only serves to teach the body that the bed is a place to continue to be awake and think. Leave the bed if your mind is active and you're unable to sleep. Don't wait longer than 20 minutes to do this -- try to ballpark the time since it's best not to look at a clock during the night. When it's obvious your mind is active and you can't sleep, get up, go into a different room and sit in dim light, doing something quiet, calm and relaxing, such as repeating something you did during the initial wind-down. The act of just getting up and out of bed -- regardless of what time at night it is -- can be really helpful to stop those racing thoughts.
3. Focus on mental imagery. 
Believe it or not, there's something to be said for counting sheep. When we get in bed and our minds are overactive, it's hard to focus on anything else. Plus, the more you try not to think about all of the things on your mind, the more you actually think about it! Try finding something to imagine that takes a little effort to focus on. For example, outline the map of the United States in your mind or count backward by threes from 100. There's even been research looking at people who say the word "the" over and over again and notice how the letters and sounds morph with time as you focus on it: "the the the the the." This type of repetition can help keep constant mental chatter at bay.
4. Separate productive worry from unproductive worry. 
Worry is meant, ideally, to motivate us to complete certain tasks and get things done. Productive worry is adaptive -- when we feel anxious about something and worry about it, we take the necessary steps to solve the issue. Unproductive worry, though, is just that... unproductive. Lying in bed at night and worrying about all of the same things you stress about during the day likely doesn't help you come to any solutions. To-do lists can be really helpful in getting these things off your mind.
Shortly before wind-down time begins, which is set for at least an hour before your bedtime, take out a piece of paper. Fold the paper in half. On the top of the left column, write "Tasks/Worries" and on the top of the right column, write "Next Step Solution." Jot down all of the things that you have to do or concerns you might have on the left side and prioritize them, with one being the most important and so on. Then on the left side, think about what the next step solution might be. It is highly unlikely to be the final solution for many concerns, but it is at least the next step. For example, if you are currently unemployed and need to find a job for financial reasons, the next step solution can simply be, "Look through the help wanted ads online," or, "Send out my resume to five people." Breaking it down into smaller, more achievable goals can help keep unproductive worry from taking hold.
If it is something such as a "take out the garbage" task, write that in the next step solution: "Take out the garbage tomorrow morning." If there's no identifiable next step solution to the problem, then writing just that can help bring some acceptance to the issue: "There's nothing I can do about this, so continuing to worry about it is only serving to make me more anxious and less able to fall asleep."
Keep the paper next to your bed at nighttime, and if you begin to have an overactive mind again, remind yourself that you've written it all down and there's nothing else that can be done at night to take care of the problem. It takes practice, but this technique can be very helpful.
When To See A Specialist If you find that you have tried some of the above techniques and they just aren't helping, consider seeing a specialist in behavioral sleep medicine (BSM). BSM specialists are specifically trained in these issues and may be able to help you sleep better on a regular basis. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Art Walkabout "Street Photography"

Don Mangus, Street 1, iPhone photograph, 2014

Don Mangus, Street 2, iPhone photograph, 2014

Don Mangus, Street 3, iPhone photograph, 2014

Don Mangus, Street 4, iPhone photograph, 2014

Don Mangus, Street 5, iPhone photograph, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Art Walkabout iPhone Photos

Here are some more art walkabout iPhone photos I have lensed recently:

Don Mangus, Lakewood Theatre, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Highland Park Pharmacy, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, L Street Traffic Sign Shadow, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Knox Street Walkabout 1, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Hillside Walkabout 1, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, L Street Walkabout 7, iPhone photo, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Life Gets Better As You Get Older

Here's Scientific Proof That Life Gets Better As You Get Older

In the game of life, is it all downhill as young adulthood turns into maturity? Our culture of youth obsession and celebration of the college years and 20s as the golden years of one's life has led many of us to believe that our happiness declines as we age. Some (rather depressing) research has found that 80 percent of life's defining moments by the age of 35 -- suggesting that there may not be much to look forward to in the second half of life.
But this couldn't be further from the truth. The concentration of life's major events in adolescence and early adulthood may not be anything to feel discouraged about -- and it certainly doesn't mean that happiness and life satisfaction decline as we get older. In fact, a growing body of research has proven that we're wrong to think that happiness is correlated with youth. A wealth of scientific and anecdotal evidence demonstrates precisely that it's when people have surpassed many of life's big landmarks that their overall satisfaction and happiness peaks.
Our culture of YOLO and Botox may valorize youth and instill in us a fear and distaste of aging, but this attitude doesn't come close to reflecting the reality of getting older -- and we'd do well to celebrate the ways that life improves as we age.
Here are six scientifically-proven reasons that happiness and aging go hand in hand.
Happiness peaks at 69.
old couple
A highly-publicized recent study suggested that there might be two major peaks of life satisfaction -- one in the early 20s and one in old age. Specifically, the ages of 23 and 69were found to be the happiest years. After the early 20s, happiness was generally found to decline until the mid-50s, after which point it increased again into the 80s.
Other studies (notably, a large 2010 Gallup poll) have corroborated this finding, suggesting that happiness tends to be positively linked with age. Though it may sound counterintuitive, the Gallup poll found that 85-year-olds are generally more satisfied with themselves than 18-year-olds.
“It’s a very encouraging fact that we can expect to be happier in our early 80s than we were in our 20s,” Andrew J. Oswald, a professor of psychology at Warwick Business School,told the New York Times. “And it’s not being driven predominantly by things that happen in life. It’s something very deep and quite human that seems to be driving this.”
Life isn't a downhill decline -- it's a U-curve.
windy road
As the Gallup poll found, happiness is likely to peak in young adulthood, hit a low point during the late 40s and 50s, and then increase again into later life and old age.
"Mankind is wrong to dread aging," The Economist wrote, noting that happiness arcs through the average individual's lifespan. "Life is not a long slow decline from sunlit uplands towards the valley of death. It is, rather, a U-bend."
Economists mining happiness research and self-reported well-being data discovered a perhaps counterintuitive truth: After roughly the age of 50 -- when happiness slumps -- the closer we get to old age, the happier we become.
The trajectory looks like this: On average, happiness declines from youth to middle age until you hit the "midlife crisis" point, at which point -- as people head towards old age -- they experience surging levels of happiness and life satisfaction. The U-curve of happiness has been documented in countries around the world, and applies to both global well-being and emotional wellness, The Economist reported.
There are many possible explanations for this U-curve, but it's likely that decreased ambition and greater acceptance plays a significant role.
We tend to falsely equate youth with happiness.
20 somethings happy
Whether you're old or young, chances are you think of young people as being happier -- even though science has proved that this isn't the case. Duke University economist Peter Ubel conducted a study in which he asked groups of 30-year-olds and 70-year-olds which age group (30 or 70) they thought would be happier. Both groups pointed towards the 30-year-olds, but when they rated their own happiness levels, the 70-year-olds scored higher.
In another study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, found that both the young and the old believe that happiness declines with age, but that older adults described themselves as being happier than the younger adults did. These false beliefs about happiness could be damaging to both age groups, the study's authors noted.
"Beliefs about aging are important," the researchers write. "If younger adults mispredict old age as miserable, they may make risky decisions, not worrying about preserving themselves for what they predict will be an unhappy future. Conversely, exaggerating the joys of youth may lead to unwarranted nostalgia in older adults, interfering with their appreciation of current joys."
The older we get, the more we appreciate the little things.
watch sun rise
The types of experiences that make us happy tend to shift as we move through life.Research from Brown University, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that while young people tend to seek out and highly prize extraordinary experiences -- such as travel, falling in love or thrill-seeking, which can help them to build a greater sense of personal identity -- older adults assign higher value to ordinary experiences and everyday pleasures, and derive identity from these types of experiences.
“It’s just what you would expect, this emphasis on savoring what you already have when your time starts to become limited,” Peter Caprariello, assistant professor of marketing at Stony Brook University, told the New York Times.
We're happier when we've already accomplished our major goals.
beach hammock
2013 UK survey claimed that the happiest age was 37, which is fairly young in the larger scheme, but suggests that people are happiest once they've already accomplished some of their major life goals and are able to let go and enjoy the ride.
37 is the average age that UK adults hope to have checked most of the boxes on their list of priorities, and it's also the age when they're happiest, the Telegraph reported. It's possible that the resulting reduced ambition and lower stress levels contribute to heightened well-being and life satisfaction.
Other research has begun to explore the tension between ambition and happiness -- namely, that ambition may make us more successful but not happier. Less ambitious individuals may actually enjoy greater happiness and a longer life, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
"Ambition by definition causes people to raise their goals and aspirations," Timothy Judge, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business,told CNN. "If you have the highest goals in the world you're always going to perceive yourself as falling short. It's like Sisyphus rolling the ball up the hill, a thirst that can't be quenched."
Aging gives us an opportunity for acceptance.
Although a number of factors may be at play in rising levels of well-being -- including biological and environmental considerations -- a tendency towards greater acceptance of oneself and one's life circumstances may play a significant role. As we become older, we may be less likely to struggle to resist or control our circumstance; we may become more likely to realize and live the truth of the Buddha's words, "“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Science has also backed the truth of the Buddha's wisdom: A 2013 Australian study found that acceptance of what can't be changed is a significant predictor of satisfaction in later life.
"As we age, we have the opportunity to accept who we are, instead of focusing on who we feel we need to become," psychoanalyst Ken Eisold writes in Psychology Today. "We relax into being ourselves. Our faces start to look like who we are. And the world settles into more and more familiar patterns. That acceptance brings diminished anxiety and a higher degree of enjoyment."

L Street Art Walkabout iPhone Photos

I love to take snaps when I are some recent iPhone shots...

Don Mangus, L Street Walkabout 1, iPhone photograph, 2014

Don Mangus, L Street Walkabout 2, iPhone photograph, 2014

Don Mangus, L Street Walkabout 3, iPhone photograph, 2014

Don Mangus, L Street Walkabout 4, iPhone photograph, 2014

Don Mangus, L Street Walkabout 5, iPhone photograph, 2014

Don Mangus, L Street Walkabout 6, iPhone photograph, 2014

Tamara Star Blog: Eight Simple Ways Happy Couples Stay Happy

Love is obviously a hot and tricky topic, and while we can all agree good love takes time and effort, love seems to fall apart quickly when the ball is dropped and laziness creeps in.

Here are eight things happy couples do to keep that from happening:

1. They deal with past pain. This one is a biggie. Once we pass the age of 16, the likelihood of experiencing hurt, disappointment, or betrayed is 100 percent. Happy couples take the time individually to feel past pain, heal it, and leave it where it belongs... in the past. We may love the one we're with, but we'll also project all over them if we don't deal with our past hurts.

When we have pain that hasn't been processed, we carry it forward. You can't skim over or positive think your way out of emotional pain, and when we try to stuff our emotions, we'll find a way to make our current partner pay for the past sins of others because pain wants to be processed. Healthy couples deal with their past so their present can be happy.

2. They don't over-think everything. Remember the phrase paralysis by analysis? Over-thinking and over-analyzing someone's every word, move or intention kills any chance of intimacy or connection.

Happy couples take one another at face value, versus looking for alternative meanings in each other's words or actions. Emotional paranoia is a sign of emotionally operating from the past in an effort to stay safe in the present. Healthy couples aren't hyper vigilant. Even if they've hurt one another in the past, they don't expect to be hurt again.

Remember, we see what we expect to see -- happy couples stay in the now moment.

3. They are emotionally open. Keeping one foot out emotionally to protect yourself is like trying to consistently drive 65 mph while tapping your brake every other minute. Healthy couples respect their own boundaries, but are vulnerable and open towards one another. Too often we experience hurt and never really let go again. Happy couples take their feet off the brake and trust.

4. They avoid taking one another for granted. Happy couples don't take for granted that they'll be together forever. They remember to turn on the charm and attention they give others, towards one another. It takes two to do the hot passionate dance of tango -- happy couples don't drop one hand and expect the other half to keep dancing.

5. They keep making eye contact. As William Shakespeare said so well: "The eyes are the window to your soul."

Let's face it, life is busy; over time it becomes a little too easy to navigate getting out of the house in the morning without making eye contact. It may sound small, but eye contact is intimate. Happy couples remember that intimacy in the bedroom starts with intimate contact throughout the day. They look at one another.

6. They continue to be intrigued. Even if you met at birth, spent every day together and have talked for hours, there is no way to know everything about another human being. We are all individuals with unique thoughts, perceptions, and emotional experiences.

People change over time, and healthy couples continue to explore one another, while realizing it's impossible to know everything, no matter how long they've been together.

7. They stay in the moment. Happy couples know remaining in the present moment is non-negotiable when it comes to love. Regardless of tough times, they remember the past does not equal the future. Healthy partners have a relationship with the person in front them now, not the ghost from yesterday.

8. They continue touching. Two large influences on our sex drive originate from our skin and our brain. Relationships are hot in the beginning because we're touching and kissing, as well as talking and questioning one another, constantly.

As time goes on, happy couples continue to touch. When we touch the one we love, the hormone oxytocin is produced, providing us with a fertile opportunity for connection. Oxytocin is one hell of a powerful love drug. Talking stimulates the brain, while touching stimulates everything else. Happy couples touch each another a lot.

Post by Tamara Star, originally published in Digital Romance