Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Important new information to lower homocysteine….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Wednesday, 12-27-2006

Important new information on lowering homocysteine….

In addition to my previous posts here on how too high homocysteine levels are bad for your heart, your blood vessels, & your brain & things to do to reduce them,

…today, Dr Mark Harmon, who is one of the best informed & innovative of the doctors writing health e-newsletters & blogs, emailed & posted information on:

>>> even more related ways, to check your health;

more information on lowering your homocysteine;

& that the general biochemistry needed in your body to do that also repairs damaged DNA & maximizes & protects your health.

His post’s only two drawbacks are that:

1. He states correctly that people today often or typically have homocysteine levels of about 13.0 & that the ideal range to shoot for is between 6.0 & 8.0;
but he does NOT say that levels of 9.0 & higher will harm your health as Dr. Stephen Sinatra & Dr David Perlmutter have done in their recent books.

(I think he is well aware of this; but it’s important enough for YOU to know, I wanted to highlight it as he does not do in this post.)

2. He leaves out that betaine is also known as TMG & is available at healthfood stores; & some of the other ways we’ve covered to lower homocysteine.

I like that he is quite certain that eating many plant based protein foods like nuts, lentils, beans, & a moderate quantity of whole grains; & limiting fatty meats will lower your homocysteine.

I have long suspected this but was less certain.

This area of study is critical for you to know well if you want to protect your health & stay well. And, it’s still much less well known by most doctors that you are likely to go to than it should be.

Dr Hyman’s work is superb & you will do your health a favor by reading his post today:

“….please go to the link below right now... ==> ...and look for the blog post at the top titled: “

(Or, the one posted on or just before Weds, 12-27-2006, if you see this later than today.)

“Maximizing Methylation: The Key to Healthy Aging... “


My Best wishes to you & yours for a happy, healthy, & prosperous New Year….

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holiday Best wishes to you & yours….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Thursday, 12-21-2006

Holiday Best wishes to you & yours….

I wish you:

a Merry Christmas; Happy Holidays;
and a Happy, Healthy; and prosperous New Year

Here’s what I have planned for my next few posts:

Next year, I plan to do one on preventing prostate cancer since it seems to run in my family a bit. (Most of those things also prevent breast & ovarian cancers too; but I’m also going to do separate posts on those.)

Also coming up soon are posts on:

extra ways to fight colds & flu;

new ideas on combating snoring & sleep apnea;

new ways to prevent brain decline;

how to use the noninvasive ankle brachial index to stay healthy;

&, of course, more on food & exercise.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Exercise builds new neurons in your brain….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Thursday, 12-14-2006

Exercise builds new neurons in your brain….

It was once thought that nothing would increase the number of neurons & their interconnections in the brain—thus increasing the power of a person’s brain or upgrading their internal computer’s hardware.

Then research at the University of California at Berkeley & other places determined that what they then called “enriched environments” did exactly that in young mammals from rats to humans.

It was then thought this applied only to young mammals & people in their early stages of development.

However, since this is a question that can be tested, researchers, again at the University of California at Berkeley I understand, found that this process worked in people over 65 also.

Then, yesterday, Jon Herring, one of the health writers for the online newsletter,
“Early to Rise,” reported that a study published in Gerontology reported research showing that elderly people who they apparently talked into walking 3 hours a week, or about half an hour each day or an hour three times a week, increased both the physical number of neurons in their brains AND their interconnections as measured by before and after MRI scans.

Did that make a difference in the thinking skills of the people who participated? Indeed it did.

The elderly people who did the exercise & showed up with physically improved brains afterwards did improve their cognitive, or thinking & communications, skills AND they scored higher on tests of memory as well.

Herring also stated that this effect was LARGER than the effect of having elderly people learn new things & directly practice cognitive skills & memory skills by doing things like Chess puzzles or crossword puzzles did in the previous research.

So, if you are over 40, or plan to live past 40, & would like to keep your thinking skills, you may well want to read & follow most of the advice in Dr David Perlmutter’s Better Brain Book & be sure to do regular exercise each week.

(I think Dr Perlmutter’s advice to stay away from cell phones may be unnecessary or less effective than his other advice. Certainly many people will find it hard to follow. But he has had dramatic success with his more effective recommendations. Even better, many of them are quite easy to do.)

Do you exercise regularly yet?

If not, consider doing yourself & brain a favor & start this week or next.


For many of our posts on exercise & an exercise resource,
see our post on Thursday, 11-16-2006.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New information on heartburn & reflux ….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Tuesday, 12-12-2006

New information on heartburn & reflux ….

Most doctors who treat it with the acid reducing drugs don’t yet know of a serious, health-damaging, side-effect that these drugs have.

However, if you take the drugs, there are ways you can check for this side-effect & turn it off or way down while you take the drugs.

And, there is a safe, as yet little used, procedure to turn off the reflux enough that drugs are no longer needed or can be taken in lower dosages.

If you have persistent heartburn, or even worse have it most days or every day, your doctor may well have told you that this can lead to cancer of the esophagus even if you take antacids.

And, they tend to prescribe proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec, Nexium, or Protonix, to name a few. (This is a prudent thing to do. Cancer of the esophagus is a horrible disease to get. And, the drugs do seem to prevent it effectively.)

In addition, they suggest giving up coffee, tea, tomato sauce, garlic, chocolate, & alcohol.

This combination seems to prevent cancer & reduces or eliminates heartburn.

It doesn’t help that tea, tomato sauce, garlic, & chocolate are actually good for you in other ways. Coffee has recently been reported as having some health benefits. And, 3 to 9 drinks a week of red wine or dark beer seem to have health benefits also.

And if you like these foods & drinks or are often short on sleep in a performance demanding job or get a bit overstressed, they can be quite hard to give up.

Here’s the two pieces of news:

(One is bad but can be overcome & the other is good.)

1. Here’s the bad news that you need to know:

Apparently by reducing your stomach’s acid content, heartburn & reflux symptom reducing drugs, reduce your ability to digest the key B vitamins that keep homocysteine levels low enough to protect your health.

This is quite significant since high levels, 9.0 or higher, according to one doctor who has studied the effects of high homocysteine, David Perlmutter, MD, tend to cause cardiovascular disease, age-related mental decline, accelerated aging, & reduced longevity. (Dr Perlmutter’s recent book is The Better Brain Book.)

Another doctor quoted a report saying that the number one predictor of serious health problems was high homocysteine -- even more so than sky high LDL cholesterol or other undesirable lipid measures.

He aims for homocysteine levels of 8.0 or less in his patients.

This has two implications.

First, if you take acid reducing medicines, you need to also take a B complex vitamin supplement that includes folic acid, B6, & B12 & have your homocysteine level checked at least every six months.

If you haven’t been taking B Complex vitamins, your homocysteine level may well already be high, so get it tested.

Once you have been taking B Complex vitamins for 2 or 3 months, get retested.

If it’s still high, you may be wise to add a good bit more folic acid, perhaps 800 mcg & 1,000 mcg of the methyl cobalamin form of B12, ideally in a chewable form as some is absorbed in your mouth, both daily.

And, your total B6 intake from supplements should approach but probably not go much over 100 mg per day. To fight homocysteine, you need to take more than 50 mg. But amounts much over 100 mg seem to cause neurological problems. (To illustrate, I get 10 mg of B6 from my multivitamin; 20 mg from my B Complex vitamins; & I take an additional 75 mg daily for a total of 95 mg per day.)

Then get retested again after two or three months. If your homocysteine is still 9.0 or over, you would be wise to add other supplements that lower it.

Betaine, also known as TMG or TriMethylGlycine; & NAC, or NAcetylCysteine also help to lower homocysteine. If your test results for homocysteine are still over 8.0 or 9.0 after adding both B Complex vitamins & extra folic acid, B6, & B12, it my well pay you to add NAC or TMG.

Dr Perlmutter recommends NAC. And, TMG also works. (If you have reflux, do NOT take Betaine (TMG) HCl. The HCl is Hydrochloric acid which you do NOT want more of. Jarrow makes a TMG supplement with no HCl.)

All of these vitamins & supplements are available in health food stores.

(PS: Stay AWAY from cigarette smoke whether smoking yourself or second hand smoke. It sharply INCREASES homocysteine levels. That’s one of several ways that smoking causes the cardiovascular disease that kills more people by far than the cancers smoking causes.)

The second implication is that people with heartburn & reflux who take acid reducing drugs would protect their health if they could turn off the reflux rather than take the acid reducing drugs.

2. The Stretta procedure is an effective way to turn off persistent heartburn & reflux.

It now has a several year track record of success. And, it is widely used in Europe where the payment for new medical procedures is less bureaucratic & slow than in the United States.

There are doctors in the United States now that are doing the Stretta procedure, particularly in the Atlanta area I’ve heard.

And, if you can afford or finance the $2500 to $3500 cost, you can have it done even if your HMO or insurance won’t cover it.

(Unfortunately they will likely pay later for their lack of adaptation of the Stretta when they begin to pay for the treatment of the increase in strokes & heart attacks cause by the increased homocysteine from the acid reducing drugs.)

It’s actually a simple procedure in many ways. Many people with reflux have endoscopies where the doctors put a small video camera down the esophagus.

What the Stretta adds to that is to add a microwave element, so the doctor can zap the cells in the area of the lower esophageal sphincter, or valve, just above your stomach.

Within a few weeks, 3 to 6 months is typical, your body will build up scar tissue in the area that was zapped enough to greatly strengthen this valve between your stomach & esophagus.

That prevents or greatly lessens the acid leakage that causes Reflux disease without overdoing it & making it hard to swallow or burp normally.

The company, Curon Medical, that provides it is re-organizing. But it is working to go private by February next year.

Between then & now there are doctors who can do the Stretta in the United States. And, there should be in Europe also.

(The previous surgical method for tightening this valve, Nissen Fundiplication, is major surgery, costs about 10 times as much, & does overdo it so people who have it done do have problems swallowing for awhile after it.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Why exercise lifts mild depression so reliably ….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Thursday, 12-7-2006

Why exercise lifts mild depression so reliably ….

It has both physical & psychological effects:

The physical effects:

1. Exercise boosts blood flow & oxygen to your brain.

In some ways your brain is just like a car engine that burns fossil fuels. It takes in oxygen & fuel and outputs energy & carbon dioxide.

So, if your brain’s intake of oxygen & fuel & its ability to get rid of carbon dioxide & other waste products is below optimum, you have less energy; don’t feel as good; & don’t think as well.

By getting enough of the right kinds of regular exercise, your blood carries more oxygen to your brain & you get enough more & better blood flow that your brain works better.

If you don’t exercise, it’s a bit like having a car that has a weak fuel pump. If you find you’d like to feel better, adding regular exercise that you keep doing is much like replacing your weak fuel pump with one of the best new ones available.

Then your brain will work better. And, it’s no surprise that you’ll feel better also.

And, there’s more.:

2. Exercise optimizes your neurotransmitters which directly improves your mood.

How you feel physically is tied directly to the neurotransmitters in you brain & the related chemicals in our blood.

Dopamine fires up or empowers your pleasure centers so it’s easier to enjoy things & take pleasure in them. If it’s low it’s very difficult even if things are actually going well.

Norepinepherin causes adrenalin to be released. If it or your level of testosterone is too low, you will have & feel less energy.

And, not having enough energy makes it difficult to feel good.

Exercise increases norepinepherin if it’s low. And vigorous or strength training exercises tend to increase testosterone levels in both men & women. (Women have less; but they do have testosterone also.)

Other similar chemicals help to over-ride minor pains so you don’t notice them at all or very much. Exercise in increases these chemicals & has this effect. So people who exercise regularly quite literally feel less pain than those who do not.

Serotonin helps you to feel calm. Oxytocin helps you to feel affectionate & to feel pleasure. I’ve seen no reports of research yet as yet that show that exercise optimizes them. But I suspect very strongly that it does.

Cortisol appears when you are under stress. Again, I’ve not seen reports of research showing that high levels of it in your blood make you feel worse. But I suspect very strongly that it does. And, cortisol at excessively high levels does make your belly fat & damages your brain.

Since exercise does lower your perceived stress level & physically relieves or turns off stress reactions, it very likely reduces cortisol. So you feel better.

3. Exercise tends to slow your resting heart rate & breathing & reduce your blood pressure if it’s higher than it should be.

This is one of the ways exercise protect your heart. But it’s also one of the ways that exercise reduces your perceived stress level.

The psychological effects:

1. Exercise boosts your ability to be proactive.

Getting regular exercise is very much a real world problem solving activity & trainer. This is even more true of getting the best results from exercise.

The bad news is that you have to schedule it regularly. And, you have to be resilient & resourceful to keep doing it & get enough of it when sickness or injury or family or personal emergencies show up.

And, to get the best results, you have to track what you do; continuously learn from people who have gotten good results; increase or slightly reduce the exercises you do; & try new things to see how they work for you.

The good news is that if you persist & continue to make an effort each week & keep exercising, you gradually get better at these skills.

And, the wonderful news is that these real world effectiveness abilities make you more likely to take action to achieve worthwhile things & solve the problems that beset you -- & for your actions to be successful.

It should hardly be surprising that makes people feel better.

2. Exercise tends to improve your self image.

Exercise, particularly if you do it regularly & well, tends to make you stronger, have more stamina, be sexier, & to look better due to having more muscle & less fat.

There’s also a reverse psychology to it. If you succeed in getting yourself to do it, at some level your brain says if you are doing it for yourself, you must think you are worthwhile – to explain to itself why you are doing it.

(This is a proven effect psychologists have studied.)

Here again it should be no surprise this makes you feel better when you exercise regularly.

3. By making you more proactive & improving your self image, exercise increases your feeling of control.

Since your actual effectiveness tends to go up & you see yourself as more attractive & more able, your feeling that you control some of your life increases & the amount of your life you feel you have some control over increases.

Again, you feel better than you would have if you didn’t exercise.

Exercise reduces stress for all these reasons.:

If it takes a lot to make you feel stressed; you handle it well when you do feel stressed & tend to recover from it quickly; & if you can physically turn off any excessive stress reactions you get anyway, you’ll certainly feel a lot less stressed.

When you feel less stress, you have more energy & feel better.

Each of these effects of regular exercise contributes to this.

And, even if you are under very high stress levels, exercise has some ability to physically relieve your stuck-on-high stress reactions.

When you are exercising, your attention is moved from thinking about what’s stressing you to doing the exercises you are doing.

And, even better, when you finish exercising & rest, the physical recovery process from your exercise tends to bring down your physical stress reactions with it.

And, even if these two things are temporary in severe stress situations, you still get more a break & rest from the stress than people in comparable situations who don’t exercise.

When you add all of these together, it certainly makes sense that exercise is effective as it is in preventing, improving, or reversing mild depression.

(For several other articles that can help you get into & keep doing effective exercise, see our blog post on Thursday, 11-16-2006. )

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Ways to fight type II diabetes, fat, & aging….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Tuesday, 12-5-2006

New Ways to fight type II diabetes, fat, & aging….

Last week Doctor Mary Hyman sent email with his blog topic for 11-29-2006 with his take on the new information on Resveratrol.

He makes a case that one of the main ways that resveratrol protects the health of the overfed lab animals that researchers gave resveratrol to is by making their mitochondria work well which then protected the lab animals from declines in their ability to process sugar.

That prevented type II diabetes which protected the lab animals from aging rapidly & from cardiovascular problems.

After making a stronger case for taking resveratrol as a supplement than I think he intended, he lists 8 ways you can get similar or better effects in other ways.

His first 7 steps are very similar to my post here on Tuesday, 11-7-2006.

And, I’ll list them all here. If you’ve read this blog long, you’ll be familiar with them.

The 8th one is new & goes beyond what I’ve had here so far.

1. Eat more nutritious foods that are high in fiber. (Beans, nuts, vegetables & fruits that are high in phytonutrients: broccoli, avocados, greens, blueberries, apples, etc, & some whole grains.)

2. Eat good proteins. (Wild caught fish, beans, nuts, some whole grains, meat that’s only been grass fed, free range poultry, some seafoods, & eggs.)

3. Keep up a high omega 3 intake. (Wild caught fish that are high in omega 3’s like salmon & sardines & some seafoods like oysters, shrimp, etc &/or take omega 3, DHA/EPA supplements.) I think both is best.

4. Virtually eliminate refined grains; & dramatically limit sugar.

5. Find ways to relax each day. (That cuts your blood levels of stress hormones.)

6. Boost your mitochondria & your body’s ability to process sugar & insulin with regular, vigorous exercise.

7. Eat & drink foods high in phytonutrients. (Besides vegetables & fruits that are high in them, this includes a moderate intake of fruit juices from such fruits & red wine. It also includes green tea & black tea, though at a lower levels.)

To repeat, regular readers of this blog have seen these before.

But his number 8 is new.

8. Take supplements that directly strengthen your mitochondria.

Mitochondria act as the engines that power your cells. If your mitochondria are healthy, your cells work well; & YOU are usually healthy. Conversely, if they are weak, YOU have less energy; you process sugars much less well; & you age more quickly.

CoQ10 is known to do this well. And, he also lists acetyl l-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, magnesium, B complex vitamins, & a supplement called NADH.

All of these are available now in most health food stores.

Resveratrol apparently also has this effect. And, it’s beginning to be available in health food stores also.

Dr Mark Hyman is one of the best doctors I know of, & maybe one of the best in the world, at combining lifestyle improvements &supplements with an extremely competent use of the tools of modern medicine in ways where the two work together to make each of his individual patients well.

You can see his blog which appeared on 11-29-2006 at: It’s the post with “magic pill” in the title.

And, it has his recommended amounts of the supplements above.

Each of these supplements are known to increase your energy or slow aging. But only alpha lipoic acid is normally thought of as effective in normalizing blood sugar or combating or reversing type II diabetes.

His comments suggest strongly that each of them tends to do all 3 things because they all strengthen your mitochondria.

This is new. And, I’ve not seen it anywhere else.

So, following all his first 7 guidelines to good health & taking most or all of these supplements should be extremely effective at keeping your energy level up; enabling your body to process sugar & insulin well; keeping you healthy; & slowing the aging process.

And, these 8 steps will trim off excess fat & keep you healthy while you still have it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

7 Ways to feel Better--even in the winter….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Friday, 12-1-2006

7 Ways to feel Better--even in the winter….

Two of these are relatively well known. But five are new. And, it’s possible you may not know of any of them yet.

They all work. And several of them work almost immediately.
And others often work at least some within a week or so.

Many people would like to feel better this time of year.

Some find the holidays at bit or a lot too stressful. And, not only do some people get tired of bad weather & gloomy skies, some people have physically caused changes, SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, from being deprived of sunlight.

If you feel even a little bit blue or down this time of year even when your family & holidays are going well or at least OK, this set of things may help.:

1. For cases or suspected cases of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, doctors prescribe light therapy for people to use first thing in the morning with a bright full spectrum light.

But you don’t need to see a doctor to try it. Whether it’s your bathroom or kitchen or the room where you read the morning paper or the room where you read the news online, you can get a full spectrum light bulb that’s bright & just use it for 30 to 45 minutes first thing in the morning.

Another way to get full spectrum light that works even better you might not believe. But it works great.

If you live or work in an area that is safe to walk in, both weather wise & in terms of personal safety, try taking a 20 minute walk most days at Noon.

In the winter, it may look gloomy, be overcast, or even be raining or snowing some. But, it may shock & surprise you to know that a light-meter shows that the actual sunlight you are getting is considerably MORE than you can get with the inside light therapy we just covered.

One man tried this during a very rainy time when everyone around him was getting depressed --AND staying inside at Noon. Everyone else was still depressed. But after a few days of walking at Noon, he felt fine. So he kept doing it & continued feeling fine. But no one else did what he did; & they all stayed depressed.

The reason more people don’t do this is that everyone’s eyes automatically adjust the large light intensity by sharply narrowing the pupils in their eyes. And, of course, there really is less sunlight inside. So they don’t realize how much actual sunlight is still coming through & available to help them feel better.

And, here’s the new way to deal with wintertime low sunlight.:

Recent reports show that the optimum intake of vitamin D, ideally as D3, may be closer to 2,000 iu than the 400 iu in most multivitamins.

This new optimum level is said to keep your bones strong & help prevent osteoporosis; & to cut the number of most cancers by a good bit. Stronger bones & less cancer make it worthwhile to take as it’s quite inexpensive.

In addition, it’s been reported that, people who get vitamin D intakes that approach this optimum stop having or getting winter-time SAD.

Apparently, one of the biochemical causes of SAD is that when you get less sunlight, your body makes less vitamin D; & vitamin D is needed in certain quantities to keep your brain from developing depression in some physical or biochemical way.

Some sources say that taking more vitamin D than 2,000 iu is desirable; & others say it can be harmful, particularly if you do it continuously over several months.

However, 2,000 iu daily seems likely to be safe. At the very least, taking a multivitamin with 400 & a D3 capsule with another 400, for a total of 800 iu should be safe all year.

And, it may well pay you to take an extra two or three D3 capsules for a total of 1200 to 1600 during midwinter &/or gloomy rainy weather.

(This presumes you get some vitamin D from your food. Milk is often fortified with some vitamin D.)

2. People living in places where they often eat an abundance of wild caught fish & seafood rarely get depressed.

And, I think such studies of large populations are even more reliable evidence than double blind studies since the numbers of people are so many times larger.

Even better, people who are depressed, other than those who are severely depressed due to brain injury or something of that kind, are reported to stop being depressed if they take one to three capsules of purified fish oil a day.

It also helps to eat wild caught fish & seafood. But these can have some mercury & other pollutants, so two or three times a week is better overall than once or twice a day.

Also, at this time virtually all farmed fish has far fewer Omega 3 oils & considerably more pollutants than wild caught.

So, for a robust supply of the Omega 3 oils that do the job, purified fish oils are best. Most of the better ones also add a lemon or orange flavor that makes them taste way less fishy than you might imagine if you haven’t tried them yet.

And, there’s more good news. Improvement from boosting your intake of Omega 3 oils usually happens within a few days.

Even the antidepressant drugs that work for a particular person take weeks before you
know if they’ll help.

In addition, there are reports that the Omega 3 oils in these foods & purified fish oil supplements help prevent some kinds of heart disease & joint pain.

3. Exercise eliminates mild depression more reliably than the best antidepressant drugs.

There are so many reasons for this, we’ll cover them in another post in a few days.

The studies on this are very clear. Some people may need more than exercise to feel better.

But the studies show that exercise works so well & so consistently, it were a drug, the doctors who knew the studies would always prescribe it first & recommend it not be discontinued if more steps are needed later.

(Exercise is one of the best of these tips, particularly if you do it all year long.

For our other articles that can help you get into & keep doing effective exercise, see our blog post on Thursday, 11-16-2006 at )

These first 3 steps all work in large part because they help your brain to work more optimally; & they have physical & biochemical effects.

But you can also feel better by literally upgrading your internal software & thinking better.

Some time ago researchers began to discover that people who get depressed easily or stay depressed think in certain ways. And, people who virtually never get depressed & are very resilient think in very different ways—in many ways the reverse of the thinking style that leads to depression.

The number one pioneer & developer of this field is Martin Seligman, PhD.

(His book, Learned Optimism, outlines what he found. And, Dr Paul Stoltz later published his Adversity Quotient book that builds on & improves Dr Seligman’s work.)

Simply put, people who think bad things are permanent even when there is available evidence to the contrary & who have little faith that good things can be lasting or that they themselves can make good things happen, get depressed & all to often stay that way.

a) Conversely, people who think the reverse rarely get or stay depressed.

Superior analysis can improve the first part. Simply learning to watch for times you do it the wrong way & practice in examining the situation more carefully & with a more open mind, can make you feel better—sometimes a LOT better.

For example, if someone is nasty to you, what do you conclude?

Pessimists by this definition decide the person is hostile & is always like that.

Optimists by this definition decide the person is in a bad mood or having a bad day.

Virtually always the optimist has the more accurate view.

People do have bad days & get surly because of it or because they are in pain, etc. And, even people who do have a hostility problem & bad social skills are nice some of the time.

But, until recently, there hasn’t been much progress on helping people learn to do the second part. :

Everyone has disappointments; things they cannot control or know how to change; & has times everything they try doesn’t work. And, sometimes it’s much worse. Ouch.

So, it can be quite challenging at times to believe good things are permanent & your own actions can make good things happen.

These next four steps seem to work quite well.:

An online news article last weekend says that Dr Selgiman’s research staff is testing two methods that appear to work.

1. Simply list at least 3 things that happened to you each day; & think briefly about why they happened.

One woman who was asked to try this exercise thought it was too simple & easy to have any chance of working but wanted to feel better enough she tried it anyway for at least a week.

At the end of the assigned time, she felt so much better, she now does it every day. (She even found she slept better & had more enjoyable dreams.)

Apparently Seligman’s group has found this to be quite common in the people they’ve tested it on.

2. List or find five of your best strengths.

Then, each week pick one or more to use in a new way.

Seligman’s group reports this also works.

This one does make intuitive sense. When you use one of your strengths to do something, your chances of success go up by a factor ten or more. So, by simply using your strengths more often, you’ll make more good things happen. That certainly will brighten your outlook.

3. It’s been separately reported that therapists who help people to work on building a worthwhile life find their patients feel much better after they’ve worked on it for a while.

This takes longer is & is clearly more work. But many similar studies show it works well.

4. In building a worthwhile life, some of the things you need to do to achieve it can be difficult; feel harder than you’d like; or simply not work well at first.

The other strategy that works is to find things you do to build a worthwhile life you actually are good at or enjoy; do those also; & notice how much you enjoy them.

Even if your long term goals have a wonderful upside, life is a journey. And, the people who enjoy the trip, are happier than those who don’t.

This also has the added payoff that it makes it much more likely you’ll keep working until you achieve your goals.

You have my best wishes that one or more of these things work for you also.