Reading novels and literature is a great way to relieve stress.
Nurturing Imagination and Mental Well-being
Growing up, reading fiction was one of my favorite activities outside of swimming, punchball, and television. There were Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many more. They were captivating and adventuresome, especially for a kid growing up in the Bronx. These books were not required reading for school. There were no compositions that I needed to write about these books. I did not have to study for any quizzes or exams for these books. However, there was one exceptional teacher.
We were in Junior High School in 9th grade. All of us had “homeroom teachers.” Homeroom meant all students met in class at the start of the day, and the teacher took attendance, which was then sent to the Principal. Mr. Bengas was our homeroom teacher, and he was unforgettable. Regrettably, besides homeroom, he was not one of my subject teachers.
Each morning, he sat on his high chair, wore a Sherlock Homes hat, and talked about one mystery he was reading. He was an expert on Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. His enthusiasm inspired many students, including myself, to read these beautiful mysteries. It was easy for me to imagine living in London during the 19th century. Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Bengas became unforgettable heroes in my mind.
Do youngsters read today? Are their imaginations stimulated today?
In a fast-paced and digitally driven world, pursuing mental well-being has become a pressing concern for many. Amidst the din of daily life, reading emerges as a beacon of solace and an invaluable tool for nurturing mental health. Let’s explore how reading helps people cope with these difficult times.
Escapism and Stress Reduction
An immediate mental health benefit of reading lies in its ability to escape daily life’s pressures and anxieties. One begins a journey to distant lands and explores the depths of the human imagination when one reads the book’s pages. In this experience, readers temporarily detach from their own worries, finding comfort in the lives and stories of fictional characters. This pause from reality’s demands significantly reduces stress levels, allowing the mind to re-energize and recover.
Empathy and Emotional Resonance
Reading is a gateway to understanding human emotions and experiences. Through the lens of literature, readers gain access to diverse perspectives and cultures, cultivating a deep sense of empathy. As they walk in the shoes of characters from various backgrounds and circumstances, they develop a heightened sensitivity to the emotions and struggles of others. This enhanced empathy enriches their social interactions and fosters a sense of connectedness and belonging, which is essential for maintaining good mental health.
Cognitive Stimulation and Mental Agility
Reading is an exercise for the mind. Unlike passive forms of entertainment, such as watching television, reading demands active engagement. Readers visualize characters, settings, and events. They decipher plots and interpret the symbolism and metaphors within the text. This mental stimulation promotes cognitive growth and enhances critical thinking. Regular reading bolsters mental agility, which is vital for maintaining cognitive health.
Research has shown that reading minutes lowers stress levels and makes it a simple yet effective coping mechanism. The act of reading induces a state of relaxation by slowing down the heart rate and reducing muscle tension.
For those who feel depressed, anxious, and stressed, I recommend two things:
We know that rates of anxiety, depression, and worry have increased for various reasons. Often, it is children who endure parental stress.
What damage does shouting at a child do?
New research suggests that yelling at kids can be as harmful as hitting them; in the two-year study, harsh physical and verbal discipline effects were frighteningly similar. A child who is yelled at is more likely to exhibit problem behavior, eliciting more yelling. It’s a sad cycle.
New research suggests that yelling at kids can be as harmful as hitting them; in the two-year study, harsh physical and verbal discipline effects were frighteningly similar. A child who is yelled at is more likely to exhibit problem behavior, eliciting more yelling. It’s a sad cycle.
Can yelling at a child cause trauma?
When fear, for example, is repeatedly triggered by a harsh environment, where there is a lot of yelling, automatic physical and emotional reactions occur that cause traumatic stress to a child.
Why Are Some Parents Angrier Today?
There are many reasons people may feel angry in the United States today, and these reasons can be highly individual. However, some common factors include:
1. Political Division: The US is currently experiencing significant political polarization, with deep divisions over issues such as immigration, health care, race, and the role of government. This division can often lead to anger and frustration.
2. Economic Inequality: Many Americans are frustrated by economic inequality, with wealth increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. It leads to feelings of anger and resentment. Inflation and unemployment are serious problems. To make things worse, many people cannot afford to pay their rent and mortgages because of inflation and incomes that are not keeping pace with soaring prices.
3. Social Injustice: Racial injustice, gender inequality, and police brutality have sparked anger and protests nationwide. Besides gender inequality there is the intense anger over LBGT+ issues.
4. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread fear, stress, and uncertainty, and controversy over vaccines. All of this increases anger and frustration. Conspiracy theories have intensified frustration, anxiety, and stress.
5. Social Media: The rise of social media and the 24-hour news cycle amplifies anger by constantly highlighting conflict and controversy. Add to this the fact that children are exposed to some of the social media’s content inappropriate for children.
6. Mental Health Issues: Increased rates of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety also contribute to feelings of anger. The anger and anxiety is increased as a result these problems.
It’s important to remember that anger is a natural human emotion and can be a healthy response to injustice or wrongdoing. However, when it becomes chronic or is not managed constructively, it can lead to problems such as aggression, violence, and harm to one’s mental and physical health. Sadly, we are experiencing a mental health crisis in America stemming from these problems.
To discuss these issues please contact Dr. Schwartz
“To die, to sleep To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub For in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause: there’s the respect That makes calamity of so long life.” — From “Hamlet”
Unveiling the Factual Dilemma of Humanity in Ernest Becker’s “The Denial of Death”
The book presents insights into the state of being human and our struggle with the fear of dying.
Unlike any other beings, we know about our unavoidable end. But, as per Becker’s argument, we deny it and drive it into our unconscious to ease its consequences. He argues that refusing the notion of death influences the basis of our individual and collective behaviors, affecting our aspirations, beliefs, and societal structures.
Becker argues that most of our endeavors aim to achieve representative perpetuity. People aspire to leave an enduring legacy, pursuing victory, reputation, spiritual dedication, and striving for everlasting life beyond our limited lifespan.
Becker’s work is consistent with Terror Management Theory (TMT) principles. Our perception of mortality shapes our behavior, according to TMT. Because of their fear of death, individuals vigorously defend their cultural beliefs and morals. By following the conventions of society, people attain a purpose, a sense of community, and protection from the fear of nonexistence.
The outcome of our evasion of the conscious awareness of death informs us of how societies develop belief systems, ceremonies, and symbols to ease the anxiety of mortality. Each one tries to come to terms with death by performing elaborate funeral ceremonies, burial customs, and notions about the afterlife. This investigation highlights the considerable effect of the rejection of mortality on the communal structure.
Some opponents argue that his theory disregards the impact of immediate and concrete factors on human behavior. They claim that the fear of death is not the only significant motivation but also power, love, and self-interest. Despite recognizing these extra influences, Becker’s work emphasizes the overall significance of death denial as a universal element in human psychology and culture. The critics overlook we spend much of our lives driving mortality into the unconscious mind.
Ernest Becker’s “The Denial of Death” closely examines how humans cope with the inevitability of their mortality and its consequences in their personal and societal lives. His exploration of the denial of death, symbolic meanings, and societal responses to existential fear continues to offer a comprehensive structure for comprehending human behavior. Becker’s book sheds light on the intricacies of our relationship with mortality, encouraging critical introspection. It challenges us to explore the depths of our existence.
TMT is a theory in psychology that explores how humans cope with the awareness of their mortality. People are inherently aware of the inevitability of death, according to TMT. Different individuals develop mental buffers to manage this fear.
At the heart of TMT lies the human capacity to expect their mortality. This awareness of mortality is unique to humans and distinguishes them from other creatures. However, this knowledge can also create intense anxiety about existence. To lessen this anxiety, people adopt cultural viewpoints and engage in symbolic eternal life, believing their being has significance and will endure after dying. These cultural worldviews include religious or philosophical beliefs, political ideologies, nationality, or identification with specific communities.
TMT suggests that people’s cultural beliefs and values serve as mental defense mechanisms against the fear of death. By adopting a particular perspective, individuals find comfort by embedding themselves in a larger story that provides meaning and purpose. These beliefs help people create a sense of coherence and stability in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable world.
Another aspect of TMT is the idea of self-esteem as a buffer against existential distress. People with high self-esteem are more likely to perceive themselves as valuable members of their cultural groups. As a result, their confidence is boosted, reducing the existential anxiety associated with thoughts of death. Conversely, individuals with low self-esteem may exhibit various defense mechanisms, such as aggression or the devaluation of others to compensate for their insecurities.
TMT has far-reaching implications for understanding human behavior. It suggests the need to manage existential terror influences many conscious or unconscious actions. Individuals may strive for success, accumulate wealth, seek approval, strive for social recognition, or even engage in cultural contests to prove their worth and enhance their self-esteem. TMT also sheds light on phenomena such as prejudice, intergroup conflict, and the fear of the unknown, as these can be seen as attempts to protect and preserve one’s cultural worldview.
While TMT provides valuable insights into human nature, it is essential to note that it is just one theory among many trying to explain how individuals deal with mortality concerns. Although some empirical studies have supported TMT, further research is needed to understand its mechanisms and limitations fully.
Terror Management Theory is a psychological theory that delves into how humans cope with the awareness of their mortality. It suggests that people construct cultural worldviews and maintain high self-esteem to defend against existential anxiety. By understanding how individuals manage the fear of death, we gain insights into various aspects of human behavior and their motivations.
Natural sound and nature relieves stress and is calming.
The Therapeutic Influence of Lakes, Streams, and Ponds: Alleviating Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
“Make your heart like a lake with a calm, still surface and great depths of kindness.”- Lao Tzu.
“This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley.
“Every lake belongs to the quietness desired by the swans.”– Munia Khan.
The serenity of lakes, streams, and ponds has long been recognized as a soothing elixir for the mind. Their innate ability to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression contributes to human wellness. Their calming effect has much to do with the environment they provide, highlighting the profound impact the natural world exerts on our mental health. This essay explores the intricate ways these water bodies act as conduits for stress relief and therapeutic healing.
Engaging with nature can be a healing, transformative experience that imparts deep inner peace. The presence of tranquil waters adds a layer to this natural therapy. Lakes, streams, and ponds offer a serene, meditative space away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, allowing one to reconnect with the rhythm of nature. Their calm ambiance is a balm for weary minds, relieving pent-up stress and tension.
Water bodies juxtaposed against a lush landscape teeming with life, presenting a vivid spectacle of colors and movements that soothingly stimulate the senses. Witnessing the gently rippling waters of a lake, the playful swirling of a stream, or the peaceful serenity of a pond can impart a hypnotic effect. Such visual stimuli can cultivate mindfulness, keeping worries and anxious thoughts at bay.
Psychologists often underscore the stress-relieving effects of natural sounds. The gentle crooning of the water as it laps against the shores of a lake, the trifling babble of a rushing stream, or the subdued whispers of a pond contribute to an acoustic environment that can dampen anxiety. Such sounds have been linked with decreased heart rates and lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone, hence their inclusion in various meditation app soundtracks.
The biodiversity encountered around lakes, streams, and ponds contributes significantly to their therapeutic potential. The fluttering of birds, the rustling of leaves, and even the occasional sighting of aquatic life forms bring us closer to nature and its straightforward yet intricate manifestations of life. Observing these forms of life and growth is often tied to feelings of relaxation. It can help to mitigate symptoms of depression.
The influence of lakes, streams, and ponds on alleviating stress, anxiety, and depression underscores the value of water bodies as vital components of ecosystems and essential contributors to human mental health. Their tranquil environments, soothing sights and sounds, vibrant biodiversity, and opportunities for physical activity all converge to create a sanctuary for emotional reprieve and mental clarity. As we navigate an increasingly complex world, these serene spaces remind us of the healing power inherent in nature, providing solace from life’s many anxieties and pressures.
A brief poem author unknown:
In the whispers of the wilderness, subtle and serene, Flow the crystal rivers and the charming streams. Gently they murmur, in tongues silver and bright, Their course unwavering beneath the moon’s soft light.
Through tangled woodlands their ribbons slip, Polishing pebbles with a gentle grip. An earthly mirror, reflecting sky’s beam, Such is the beauty of an undisturbed stream.
Valleys echo with their ancient song, As they journey towards the sea, tireless and strong. Enchanting creatures in their depths unseen, Dancing to the artful tune of the stream.
Nurturing life, from mountaintop to delta’s glean, A tribute to nature, a sight seldom seen. Tender leaves vivid and greens so extreme, Are kissed by the sun-kissed sparkling stream.
Bathing in the dawn, in twilight’s gleam, They paint poetry in motion, a dreamer’s dream. For nothing symbolizes life with such esteem, As the timeless, fluid grace of a flowing stream.
For various reasons, some of us close the gate to being social.
I recently discussed closing the gate with someone I know. I am among those who close the gate. It is contradictory to say that I close the gate or do not socialize. However, I have always been socially avoidant. That is another way of expressing my tendencies, which have always been towards introversion and shyness. Yet, I have functioned successfully in mental health. That has included working in various psychiatric settings where the work demanded that I make solid connections with other professionals. I also opened a private psychotherapy practice where I relied on colleagues.
I was also married for fifty years before my wife tragically died of pancreatic cancer. We raised two wonderful daughters, and I’m a grandfather. Yet, I keep the gate closed. Mostly, I no longer want people to get close to me, except my family. In this posting, the focus is on how society enables people to be isolated.
“Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” is a book written by Robert D. Putnam, a political scientist and professor at Harvard University. The book, published in 2000, explores the decline of social capital and civic engagement in the United States and is a metaphor for reducing social connections and community involvement.
Social capital refers to the network of relationships, trust, and cooperation within a community or group. It is a valuable resource for individuals and groups to achieve shared goals and improve their well-being. Social capital is built through volunteering, taking part in community events, and maintaining strong connections with friends, family, and colleagues. Substantial social capital can lead to more significant opportunities, resources, support, and improved mental and physical health.
For example, he discusses bowling leagues to illustrate how Americans used to take part in social activities and join various groups. Still, over time, they have become more isolated and disconnected. Someone recently told me he felt bored, so he went bowling, but he was alone.
The book explores various factors contributing to the decline of social capital, such as the rise of television and other forms of entertainment that have replaced face-to-face interactions, the increase in time spent working and commuting, and the changing structure of families and neighborhoods.
Today, in 2023, we can add to the list of things that have caused a decline in social capital. One of these is the internet and particularly social media. On the surface, it might appear as though social media promotes interaction. However, children and adults sit in front of their computers, alone and isolated, staring at the computer screen. It does not equal direct and face-to-face interaction among people.
There are consequences of the decline in social capital. Among these consequences are:
Decreased trust in institutions.
Reduced civic participation and the promotion of disinformation and conspiracy theories.
Putnam also offers hope for the revival of the American community. He discusses potential solutions and strategies to rebuild social capital, such as promoting civic education, encouraging community-based initiatives, and fostering social networks through technology.
Civic engagement refers to the active participation of individuals in their communities and society. It involves taking part in activities and initiatives to improve one’s immediate environment and contribute to the greater good. Civic engagement can take many forms, such as volunteering, voting, attending public meetings, and supporting local businesses. It’s an essential part of maintaining a healthy and thriving society, and it helps to ensure that individuals have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. Individuals can positively affect their communities by engaging in civic activities and helping build a better future for themselves and their neighbors.
Social isolation is the opposite of social capital. When individuals need connections and relationships within their community or society, they may need access to the resources, opportunities, and support that social capital can provide. It leads to feelings of loneliness, disconnection, and even adverse health outcomes. Building social capital can help to combat social isolation and promote well-being.
“My father used to say that it’s never too late to do anything you wanted to do. And he said, ‘You never know what you can accomplish until you try.” Michael Jordan.
“It is a wise father that knows his own child.” William Shakespeare.
A famous baseball player, Harmon Killebrew, is credited with saying, “My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising children.”
I grew up without my father.
Dr. Kyle Pruett, an author and professor of child psychiatry at Yale University, writes, “Fathers do not mother, they father…Fathers do things differently.” Both parenting approaches are essential in raising healthy, productive children in safe and stable environments.
As a result of a high divorce rate and an increase in single-parent homes, there has been a tendency to think that fathers are unimportant compared to mothers. In the past, more research was done on the role of the mother compared to the part of the father. More research has been done on fathers’ role in the psychological development of their sons and daughters. In addition, it has been found that children raised without a father experience many more problems than those from intact families.
There are lots of families in which the father is present. What is essential is how they influence their children. For instance, abusive fathers have nothing but a negative impact on their children and wives. It holds for fathers who are alcoholic, drug addicted, or criminal. In addition, fathers who are present but uninvolved with their families do not positively impact their children.
What is most important to the family is that the father actively engages with their children positively.
What is meant by a father’s active engagement?”
According to some of the research, “active involvement is defined in terms of:
Engagement or directly interacting
Accessibility or being available
Responsibility or providing resources
Actively involved fathers have close and affectionate relationships with their children; they:
spend time with them
Talk to them about important things
They are the person their children want to be as adults.”
That last sentence, “and they are the kind of person their children want to be as adults,” is significant. The father is a role model for boys and girls for the way a man is supposed to be. As a positive role model, the father reveals the male person as loving, hard-working, responsible, available, and dependable. Of course, a father does not work alone in the family context. It is the way mom and dad interact with each other and with the children that helps shape the people they will become.
Dads have a parenting style significantly different from a mother’s. That difference is essential for healthy child development. David Popenoe, Life Without Father, (New York: The Free Press, 1996), p. 163.
One of the most vital aspects of a dad’s contribution to his kids’ lives lies precisely in what Dr. Popenoe calls his “significantly different parenting style.” Men and women are different. As a result, mothers and fathers parent their children differently.
Dads, for instance, love their children “more dangerously.” That’s because they play “rougher.” They provide kids with a broader diversity of social experiences. They also introduce them to a wider variety of methods of dealing with life. They stress rules, justice, fairness, and duty in discipline. In this way, they teach children the objectivity and consequences of right and wrong. They give kids insight into the world of men. They prepare them for life’s challenges and show the meaning of respect between the sexes by example. Dads often get their adolescent children their first jobs as after-school activities.
Fathers encourage competition, engendering independence. Mothers promote equity, creating a sense of security. Dads emphasize conceptual communication, which helps kids expand their vocabulary and intellectual capacities. Moms are significant in sympathy, care, and help, thus showing the importance of relationships.
When fathers take the time to build relationships with their kids, they help them develop their identity, confidence, and perseverance.
Here are four of the most essential things that dads teach:
Dr. Kyle Pruett, a researcher on the importance of dads for healthy child development, explains that infants learn to tell the difference between mom and dad. Dad’s voice is more profound, his hands are more extensive and rougher, his play is more physical and stimulating, and he smells and acts differently. Dads teach their sons that they differ from moms and sisters. Dads point sons toward adulthood.
A boy’s confidence develops primarily through his father because Dads are likelier to encourage their sons to take chances. Take two simple experiences from infancy and later childhood.
Fathers are likelier to throw their babies into the air. It is a significant confidence-building ritual. The first time it happens, the child is scared to death. But gravity happens, and they fall back down into the safety of Dad’s hands. What fathers do for their daughters and sons is to help them develop confidence.
Moms seldom encourage their kids to climb trees. As mothers, they tend to focus on safety. Dads are more likely to push limits. “Hey, try going up to that next limb. Don’t be scared, and I’ll talk you through it.” When kids take the chance and succeed, they learn they have what it takes to do hard things. This connection is essential for every child, gaining the confidence they will need later in solving problems, searching for a job, and relating to the opposite sex.
We know the father’s absence or lack of involvement with the children has negative consequences. Absent or uninvolved fathers lead to psychological issues in sons and daughters, including insecurity, inadequacy, and a distorted understanding of love. It affects the child’s ability to form healthy relationships and experience genuine, loving relationships.
A growing body of research underscores the myriad ways in which the absence or lack of knowledge of one’s father can influence a child’s emotional and psychological development. The absence of a father leads to feelings of abandonment and rejection in a child. Not knowing one’s father might make children question their self-worth, leading to low self-esteem. Moreover, the void left by a missing paternal figure leads to feelings of emptiness, sadness, and longing. Some children may internalize the absence, thinking they are to blame or were not ‘good enough’ to keep their father around.
People who grew up without a father experience a greater likelihood of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse. Several studies have shown a correlation between the absence of a father and an increased risk of aggressive behavior. This aggression is sometimes viewed as a coping mechanism or a way to mask underlying feelings of vulnerability.
Children with an absent father grow up without the sense of security a dad provides. A dad’s presence and love give us a greater understanding of our identity and sense of belonging. When it’s absent, it can leave our world feeling shattered and unstable. Due to this fact, children with absent fathers suffer from anxiety and depression in far more significant numbers than children with a present mom and dad.
My wife and I had twin daughters; this was a great celebration time. However, the dad role was challenging because I needed a role model. Nevertheless, there were things I did and got right. I taught them how to ride their bikes. As a child, I never had a bike and had to learn as a young man.
I wanted a bike just like the ones my friends rode. But my mom, a single mother, was fearful that I would have an accident. I do not know for sure, but I always believed that a Dad would intervene, get me a bike, and teach me how to ride.
We might have gone to baseball and football games in NYC a lot more often than I could.
I had no father to take me fishing and camping. I had no father to teach me how to play softball, baseball, and bat swing. I had no father to teach me how to fight and stand up to bullies. I had no father to teach me how to bowl, play golf, and play tennis. I am not referring to teaching but competing with me. Worst of all, he could not teach me basketball. All of these became significant handicaps.
One day, I ran into my teacher on the way to school. He put his arm on my shoulder as we chatted along the way. It felt so good that it’s difficult to describe. I yearned for a father, my father, but my family completely alienated him from me. Finally, when I was 38, my brother found him, and I met my father. A big hulking man. I saw the weights he lifted and wished he could have taught, but it was too late. But, when I asked him why I never saw him, his response was vague. He mumbled something that made no sense. He probably would not have been involved had he been present during my childhood.
I needed a father to explain girls and the subtleties of dating.
As a result of these gaps, I felt socially awkward into my twenties. I have always felt socially awkward and never did in school as well as I should have. As Dr. Pruett pointed out, I also felt depressed.
Many people experience a lack of commitment and purpose in their lives. It partially explains why there is a sense of isolation and unrelatedness today. At the bottom of a lack of commitment is called an existential crisis. A life crisis is an inner turmoil in which a person questions their identity in life as well as what meaning their life has and doubts whether there is any meaning to life.
“Living a Committed Life” is a book by Lynne Twist in which she explores living a life of purpose and commitment and how it can bring fulfillment and transformation to individuals and the world.
The book begins by emphasizing the importance of a clear intention and commitment. Twist argues that we may feel safe and fulfilled with a solid commitment to something greater than ourselves. She encourages readers to reflect on their values, passions, and what they genuinely care about to discover their purpose and make a meaningful impact.
Twist also delves into the idea of scarcity and abundance mindset. She explains how our society often operates from a scarcity mindset, where we believe there is not enough to go around, leading to competition, fear, and a lack of generosity. However, she proposes that by shifting our mindset to one of abundance, we can tap into the infinite resources and live a more fulfilling and committed life.
Twist shares personal stories and experiences from her journey as an activist and philanthropist throughout the book. She highlights the power of commitment in creating positive change and making a difference in the world. She also provides practical tools and exercises to help readers align their actions with their obligations and live a life of integrity.
Living a Committed Life invites readers to examine their lives and consciously choose to live with purpose and commitment. It encourages individuals to step out of their comfort zones, take risks, and contribute to something greater than themselves. By doing so, Twist believes we can create a more just, sustainable, and compassionate world for all.
A purpose in life can be understood as an underlying principle that guides our decisions, shapes our futures, and provides meaning to our existence. Motivation fuels our daily pursuits and struggles, offering direction when unsure of where to go or what to do. This essay explores the importance of having a life purpose and why it is crucial for our mental, emotional, and societal well-being.
First, having a firm sense of purpose provides coherence to our lives. It helps build a narrative of who we are and our role in the grand scheme. Our goal can instruct us on what to prioritize and what to pursue, working as an internal compass pointing towards what truly matters to us. It can provide us with an immense sense of clarity and focus.
Furthermore, knowing our purpose serves to reinforce our identity. As we interact with the broader world, we aim to maintain our core identity and principles amidst societal pressures and shifts. This purpose-centered identity can make us resilient and equipped to tackle life’s highs and lows, thus fostering mental stability and strength.
In addition, having a sense of purpose enhances emotional well-being. Research suggests that individuals with a higher sense of purpose in life enjoy better mental health, diminished stress levels, and decreased rates of depression. When our actions align with our goal, it contributes to a subjective sense of fulfillment, self-efficacy, and overall life satisfaction. This positive emotional state also promotes healthier relationships with others, creating a ripple effect on our societal well-being.
Societally, individuals with a clear sense of purpose often contribute positively to their communities. Purpose-driven people are inclined to pursue meaningful careers, volunteer for passionate causes, and work on personal growth for individual satisfaction and the betterment of society. It is essential to state that today, when people retire, they are encouraged to be involved in volunteer activities that increase a feeling of contributing to the community. Of course, that depends on the financial stability. Without that stability, a retired person will have to find employment elsewhere.
Lastly, embracing our purpose helps us navigate through life’s inevitable disappointments. Our aim can serve as a lodestar during the rough patches, reminding us that setbacks are a part of life and that they do not define our self-worth. It gives us the strength to bounce back, fostering resiliency and instilling in us the virtue of perseverance.
Spirituality can be fundamentally important in an individual’s life for various reasons, each of which widely depends on personal beliefs, values, and experiences. Here are a few ways in which spirituality can be significant.
Meditation can foster inner peace, calm one’s mind, and reduce stress. It is referred to as spiritual meditation. It is a meditation practice where the desire is to connect with a higher power, the Universe, God, or the Highest Self. It can provide a sense of tranquility during turbulent times by promoting acceptance and understanding of life’s challenges. It assists individuals in discovering their life’s purpose and finding deeper meanings in everyday experiences.
A sense of the spiritual can foster a sense of unity with the universe or a higher power. That connection creates a sense of love, compassion, and empathy toward others.
Religious traditions come with moral and ethical principles that help individuals make decisions and carry out actions consistent with their beliefs and values. These values encourage hope, optimism, and strength.
Numerous studies have shown links between spiritual practices and physical health. Regular meditation, for instance, can help lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and boost the immune system.
However, it’s important to state that spirituality is a personal journey and varies widely from person to person. Some individuals may not view spirituality as central to their lives. In contrast, others might see it as a foundational aspect of their existence. Ensuring that each person’s spiritual or non-spiritual approach to life is respected and accepted is essential.
“For one human being to love another, that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation,” Rainer Maria Rilke.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” Jelaluddin Rumi.
New York Times writer David Brooks wrote an Op.Ed. Article titled, “Three Views of Marriage. (Feb. 23, 2016).
These are the three lenses that Brooks refers to:
The psychological lens emphasizes people change little over a lifetime. Especially after age 30, people may get more conscientious and agreeable, but improvements are modest.
In the romantic view, the heart is transformed by love at any age.
In the moral view, spiritual transformation — over a lifetime, not just over two passionate years — is the whole point. People have tremendous power to go against their natures and uplift their spouses by showing a willingness to change and supporting their journey from an old crippled self to a new, more beautiful self.
The three lenses operate at different levels: personality, emotions, the level of virtues, and vices. The first two lenses are ubiquitous in our culture — in bookstores, songs, and movies. But the moral lens, with its view of marriage as a binding ethical project, is less standard. Maybe that’s one reason the quality of the average marriage is declining.
The decline in marriage quality is reflected in the rate of divorce in the United States for new marriages is 50%. However, the rate of divorce has decreased in recent decades. It remains incredibly high. The marital vow that “we will stay married in sickness and in health until death do us part” has not been accurate for a long time.
Erich Fromm helps readers to understand that loving another person is an art. I recommend his book, “The Art of Loving,” written in 1956.
“The Art of Loving” explores the concept of love in all its forms, arguing that it is an art that requires knowledge and effort. The book delves into many types of love, such as brotherly love, motherly love, erotic love, self-love, and love of God. He dissects their underlying psychological meanings.
Fromm’s premise is grounded in the belief that love is a profound interpersonal skill that individuals can develop through practice rather than being in a purely emotional state. He asserts that love isn’t some fleeting passion or sentimentality but a robust force that can transform and empower. According to Fromm, love is the “active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.” And what we love is another person. Loving another person means loving one’s spouse, family, friends, and oneself.
The notion of erotic love, the bonding between two individuals into one, also gets attention in Fromm’s explorations. The erotic form of love is unique. It is where most people find the most profound expression of love. However, he contends that this form of love is often mistaken for infatuation or being ‘in love,’ which is usually transient and subject to fluctuations.
Fromm also provides a comprehensive standpoint on motherly and fatherly love. He proposes that motherly love involves unconditionally affirming the child’s life and needs. In comparison, fatherly love is a conditional form of love tied to the child’s obedience and goodwill.
The book also explores the concept of love towards God. He presents the paradox of individuals seeking a single, supreme object of love but often incapable of experiencing love in daily interpersonal relationships. He suggests that the essence of love for God is love for humanity, and humans cannot genuinely love God if they do not genuinely love their fellow beings.
Fromm is critical of contemporary societal frameworks. He challenges capitalist societies where love is often objectified and commercialized, correlating love with some transaction. People spend a lot of money on marriage ceremonies in palatial settings. Family and friends compete over how much they will go to purchase wedding gifts. Added to this is the expectation that the bride and groom will travel to a romantic destination for their honeymoon.
Throughout the book, he emphasizes that love is an art. He argues that just as mastering any art requires consistent practice, understanding, and patience, loving also requires self-awareness, understanding of one’s partner, and commitment to nurturing the relationship.
Love, commitment, and purpose are all integral elements of a fulfilling life, and they can intersect in many significant ways. Intimacy plays a critical role in our emotional well-being and happiness. It creates bonds, fosters empathy, and promotes understanding and acceptance. Love can manifest in our life’s purpose: we often strive lovingly toward the people, values, or causes we care deeply about.
Commitment is the promise or dedication to someone, our work, our ideals, or ourselves. It reflects persistence and loyalty despite challenges or drawbacks. It can cross paths with love and purpose because we are more likely to uphold commitments towards things we genuinely love or believe in, and these commitments often form a significant part of our lives.
The purpose in life refers to the direction we give based on what we find meaningful. It makes us feel motivated, fulfilled, and connected to the world. A sense of purpose can stem from our deep love and commitment to something or someone. Alternatively, it can fuel passion and responsibility because when we find our goal, we develop love and dedication because of its fulfillment.
Ageism is discrimination against people based on their age. It can take many forms, such as treating older people as less capable or less valuable than younger people or assuming they have dementia.
It is seen in the workplace in the attitude of many people towards older people. It leads to stereotypes, reduced opportunities, and a lack of respect for older people. Recognizing and addressing ageism and promoting fairness and equality for older people is essential.
President Biden is 80, and Some people have stated a constitutional crisis will occur if Biden is reelected and dies in office. I seem to remember the tragic murder of President John F. Kennedy, a young president. That is when President Lyndon Johnson was sworn into office, and the nation continued to function. And I seem to remember when Franklin D. Roosevelt died, Harry Truman became President, and the country survived.
Death is another stereotype. I will always remember the postgraduate psychology case presentation class in which I took part. The professor was a famous person and over 90 years old. A student presented a case of an individual who was an older person. When the person who provided the case stated death as an issue, the professor asked, “Well, who is dying?” All of us were stunned into silence. The professor lived to 100.
For me, ageism is a personal issue. I’m 80 years old and continue to work and write my articles. I am not confused or forgetful. No one has suggested that I stop working because of my age.
Ageism is defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals based on age. It is as prejudicial as racism or stereotyping of other ethnicities and religions. It is a societal issue affecting individuals across various fields, including politics.
With President Biden, concerns about his age have been raised by some critics who argue that he may not possess the mental acuity or physical stamina required for the demanding role of the presidency. However, it is crucial to recognize that age alone should not be the sole determinant of a leader’s capabilities.
President Biden’s extensive political experience, including his time as a senator and Vice President under the Obama administration, demonstrates his depth of knowledge and understanding of governance.
Considering that age can bring valuable wisdom and experience to leadership positions is essential.
President Biden’s life experiences and political career spanned several decades, enabling him to provide insights and perspectives shaped by his long-standing political involvement. Whether you agree with his politics, he has shown his ability to navigate complex issues and develop effective strategies for addressing national concerns.
With President Biden or any older person in any profession, it is essential to evaluate their performance and decision-making ability based on concrete evidence rather than assuming limitations because of his age.
The human mind is complex and intricate, bridging the tangible, intangible, physical, and metaphysical. While there is still much to uncover about the detailed mechanisms underpinning its functioning, a concise explanation would touch on genetics, biology, psychology, and human cognition.
On a fundamental level, the human mind emerges from the brain – a physical organ that is the product of billions of years of evolution. The neural architecture of our brain, an intricate web of interconnected neurons that forms intricate patterns of neural activity, is the biological basis of the human mentality.
Laid down by our genetic code, the brain develops in utero. As a baby grows, the mind takes shape, which continues throughout life. So, the physical brain, sculpted through a combination of genetic disposition and environmental influence, prepares the fertile ground for the human mind.
Instead of the brain, the human mind now encompasses thoughts, emotions, memories, fantasies, and unconscious processes. It includes cognitive functions such as perception, reasoning, problem-solving, consciousness, etc. The mind produces our individual consciousness and inner life.
There are many theories about its origins and whereabouts. Some ideas, like dualism, propose that the mind and body are separate entities. Cartesian Dualism, for example, suggests that reason exists independently from the physical world.
Meanwhile, other theories, such as physicalism, argue that the mind is a phenomenon arising from the brain’s physical processes. Neuroscientific studies have shown that brain damage and alterations in brain chemistry can influence mental states, supporting a solid connection between the physical brain and the nature of the mind.
Emerging theories like embodied cognition suggest that our minds are shaped not only by our brains but also by our bodies and our interactions with our environment. This theory proposes that our minds arise from these interactions in an ongoing, dynamic process.
The exact origination of the human mind remains a multifaceted and ongoing discussion with profound implications for philosophy, biology, psychology, and neuroscience. The human mind is an emergent property of our brain’s complex physical processes, modulated by various genetic and environmental factors. But the whole picture is likely fuller and nuanced, layered with mysteries yet to be unraveled by science and philosophy alike.
The human mind and brain are intricately connected and influence each other. Mind and brain are different concepts but are inseparable. The brain is a physical organ in our body that serves as the center of the nervous system. It’s responsible for receiving sensory inputs, controlling motor outputs, influencing subconscious bodily processes, and functioning as a conduit for the activity we perceive as consciousness, thoughts, and emotions.
The mind, however, often refers to those cognitive processes such as reasoning, memory, intelligence, emotion, and imagination. It’s where we experience and interpret life through consciousness.
The mind and brain are linked, as the brain is the biological substrate of the mind. Think of the brain as the hardware and the mind as the software. The brain’s neurons, synaptic connections, and neural networks physically enable our mental activities. These intricate neural processes generate all our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, memories, dreams, and emotions.
Every mental state or thought you experience corresponds to specific interactions within the brain. For example, when you’re feeling happy, specific neural networks in your brain are activated, and certain neurotransmitters are released. These physical changes in the brain are reflected in our minds as feelings of happiness.
Despite the broad understanding of the connection, the detailed interrelationship of the mind and brain, often termed the mind-brain problem or mind-body problem, remains one of the most profound and contentious topics of debate in neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology. It is part of more significant questions about consciousness, self, and how subjective experiences arise from physical processes.
Neurons, dendrites, and synapses are fundamental components of the human nervous system. They play crucial roles in transmitting and processing information.
Neurons, or nerve cells, are the basic working units of the brain. They are specialized cells that transmit information to other nerve cells, muscle, or gland cells. Almost all neurons have a cell body, an axon, and dendrites.
Dendrites are branch-like structures that extend from the neuron cell body. They receive information from other neurons and transmit this information to the cell body of the neuron. The more dendrites a neuron has, the more data it can receive from other cells.
Synapses are the junctions or gaps where information is transmitted from one neuron to another. They can be thought of as the interface for information transfer, enabling the electric or chemical messages to pass efficiently from one neuron across a small gap to the next neuron or an effector cell such as a muscle cell.
There are estimated to be around 86 billion neurons in the human brain.
The exact number of dendrites is more challenging to quantify because each neuron can have many dendrites. But considering that each neuron can have hundreds of dendrites, the total number of dendrites in the human brain can reach trillions. It’s important to remember that this vast quantity plays a critical role in forming the complexity and capability of the human mind.