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    Monday
    Oct052009

    Signs Along The Way

    When traveling, one finds one's way by following the landmarks, one at a time.

    When it is an emotional journey, the landmarks are perspectives and feelings. Anything that feels like relief is the next trail marker.

    There are perspectives or "stories" that feel better, and ones that feel worse. Find the ones that feel better -- actually feel better, physically -- those are the feelings and ideas that are going to make things better.

    You'll find that the perspectives, the points of view that involve you trusting you, you liking you, are the ones you want.

    Tuesday
    Aug252009

    Happiness: A buyer’s guide

    Money can improve your life, but not in the ways you think

    By Drake Bennett | August 23, 2009

    Can money buy happiness? Since the invention of money, or nearly enough, people have been telling one another that it can’t. Philosophers and gurus, holy books and self-help manuals have all warned of the futility of equating material gain with true well-being.

    Modern research generally backs them up. Psychologists and economists have found that while money does matter to your sense of happiness, it doesn’t matter that much. Beyond the point at which people have enough to comfortably feed, clothe, and house themselves, having more money - even a lot more money - makes them only a little bit happier. So there’s quantitative proof for the preachings of St. Francis and the wisdom of the Buddha. Bad news for hard-charging bankers; good news for struggling musicians.

    But starting to emerge now is a different answer to that age-old question. A few researchers are looking again at whether happiness can be bought, and they are discovering that quite possibly it can - it’s just that some strategies are a lot better than others. Taking a friend to lunch, it turns out, makes us happier than buying a new outfit. Splurging on a vacation makes us happy in a way that splurging on a car may not.

    "Just because money doesn’t buy happiness doesn’t mean money cannot buy happiness," says Elizabeth Dunn, a social psychologist and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. "People just might be using it wrong."

    Click to read more ...

    Monday
    Apr272009

    Inside the Baby Mind

    by Jonah Lehrer

    It's unfocused, random, and extremely good at what it does. How we can learn from a baby's brain.

    "We need to think with the innocence of an infant - to release the reins of attention and look anew at a world we're still trying to understand."

    WHAT IS IT like to be a baby? For centuries, this question would have seemed absurd: behind that adorable facade was a mostly empty head. A baby, after all, is missing most of the capabilities that define the human mind, such as language and the ability to reason. Rene Descartes argued that the young child was entirely bound by sensation, hopelessly trapped in the confusing rush of the here and now. A newborn, in this sense, is just a lump of need, a bundle of reflexes that can only eat and cry. To think like a baby is to not think at all.

    Modern science has largely agreed, spending decades outlining all the things that babies couldn't do because their brains had yet to develop. They were unable to focus, delay gratification, or even express their desires. The Princeton philosopher Peter Singer famously suggested that "killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all."

    Now, however, scientists have begun to dramatically revise their concept of a baby's mind. By using new research techniques and tools, they've revealed that the baby brain is abuzz with activity, capable of learning astonishing amounts of information in a relatively short time. Unlike the adult mind, which restricts itself to a narrow slice of reality, babies can take in a much wider spectrum of sensation - they are, in an important sense, more aware of the world than we are.

    This hyperawareness comes with several benefits. For starters, it allows young children to figure out the world at an incredibly fast pace. Although babies are born utterly helpless, within a few years they've mastered everything from language - a toddler learns 10 new words every day - to complex motor skills such as walking. According to this new view of the baby brain, many of the mental traits that used to seem like developmental shortcomings, such as infants' inability to focus their attention, are actually crucial assets in the learning process.

    In fact, in some situations it might actually be better for adults to regress into a newborn state of mind. While maturity has its perks, it can also inhibit creativity and lead people to fixate on the wrong facts. When we need to sort through a lot of seemingly irrelevant information or create something completely new, thinking like a baby is our best option.

    "We've had this very misleading view of babies," says Alison Gopnik, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of the forthcoming book, "The Philosophical Baby." "The baby brain is perfectly designed for what it needs to do, which is learn about the world. There are times when having a fully developed brain can almost seem like an impediment."

    One of the most surprising implications of this new research concerns baby consciousness, or what babies actually experience as they interact with the outside world. While scientists and doctors have traditionally assumed that babies are much less conscious than adults - this is why, until the 1970s, many infants underwent surgery without anesthesia - that view is being overturned. Gopnik argues that, in many respects, babies are more conscious than adults. She compares the experience of being a baby with that of watching a riveting movie, or being a tourist in a foreign city, where even the most mundane activities seem new and exciting. "For a baby, every day is like going to Paris for the first time," Gopnik says. "Just go for a walk with a 2-year-old. You'll quickly realize that they're seeing things you don't even notice."

    Click to read more ...

    Friday
    Feb132009

    Love

    Some of my favorite quotes and passages about love. Feel free to share some of your own -- email me at dennisyoung@ymail.com

     

    Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life.

    Leo Buscaglia

     

    "I remember the morning that I first asked the meaning of the word 'love.' Miss Sullivan put her arm gently round me and spelled into my hand, 'I love Helen.'

    'What is love?' I asked.

    'Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out,' she replied, 'You cannot touch the clouds, you know, but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either, but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything. Without love you would not be happy or want to play.'

    The beautiful truth burst upon my mind -- I felt that there were invisible lines stretched between my spirit and the spirits of others."

    Helen Keller

     

    Love is when I am concerned with your relationship with your own life, rather than with your relationship to mine. There must be a commitment to each other’s well-being.

    Most people who say they have a commitment don’t; they have an attachment. Commitment means, "I am going to stick with you and support your experience of well-being." Attachment means, "I am stuck without you."

    Stewart Emery

     

    We must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

     

    Where there is great love there are always miracles.

    Willa Cather

     

    It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble; how hopeless the outlook; how muddled the tangle; how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.

    If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.

    Emmet Fox

     

    Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.

    Marianne Williamson

     

    Love is a force. It is not a result; it is a cause. It is not a product. It is a power, like money, or steam or electricity. It is valueless unless you can give something else by means of it.

    Ann Morrow Lindbergh

     

    Do not be afraid of showing your affection. Be warm and tender, thoughtful and affectionate.

    People are more helped by sympathy, than by service; love means more than money, and a kind word will give more pleasure than a present.

    John Lubbock

     

    There are no different categories of love. There isn't one kind of love between a mother and child, another between lovers, and another between friends.

    The love that is real is the love that lies at the heart of all relationships. That is the love of God and it doesn't change with form or circumstance.

    Marianne Williamson

     

    Love one another as I have loved you.

    Jesus of Nazareth

     

    Love all God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it.

    Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything.

    If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day.

    And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.

    Feodor Dostoevsky

     

    The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather loved in spite of ourselves.

    Victor Hugo

     

    Whoever loves much, does much.

    Thomas A Kempis

     

    In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?

    The Buddha

     

    You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are . . . your simple presence can make others happy.

    Jane Roberts

     

    Let no one who loves be called unhappy. Even love unreturned has its rainbow.

    J.M. Barrie

    Monday
    Dec292008

    Programs Worth Supporting

    Please let me know of any programs you'd like to see added to this list.

    WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL

    http://www.womenforwomen.org/

    Helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives.

    Women for Women International supports women in war-torn regions with financial and emotional aid, job-skills training, rights education and small business assistance so they can rebuild their lives.

    This program offers opportunities to sponsor and correspond with a specific individual. Your generous gift of sponsorship will provide a woman survivor of war with the resources she needs to move from victim to active citizen. This gift of sponsorship offers an experience like no other because you will know exactly who you are helping. In fact you will be corresponding with your sponsored sister – sharing, inspiring, offering encouragement and giving her the emotional support she needs to help change her life.

    KIVA.ORG

    http://kiva.org/

    Kiva.org allows you to make a micro-loan to a specific entrepeneur in the developing world -- empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty.

    Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

    Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

    The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

    News video about Kiva: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/20569267#20569267

    NASHUA SOUP KITCHEN & SHELTER, INC

    http://www.nsks.org/Home.asp

    The Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter is dedicated to providing shelter and food to those in need. The overall objective of the agency is to advocate, create, and operate programs and services that promote dignity and self-sufficiency for those they serve.

    HEIFER.ORG

    http://www.heifer.org/

    "Bringing and End to World Hunger Through Unimaginable Blessings."

    Today, millions of people who were once hungry will be nourished by milk, eggs and fresh vegetables.

    Families who for generations knew only poverty will be building new homes and starting businesses.

    Children who once headed out to the fields to do backbreaking work will be heading into schoolrooms to learn to read.

    And people who never thought they’d be in a position to help someone else will be experiencing the joy of charitable giving.

    How is this possible?

    With Heifer’s proven approach – almost 60 years in the making – to helping people obtain a sustainable source of food and income.

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Dec022008

    Mammograms May Identify Cancers That Would Otherwise Just Regress

    Researchers in Norway found there was a 22 per cent higher rate of detected breast cancer among women who had mammograms every two years compared to women screened every six years raising the possibility that some breast cancers just regress naturally without treatment.

    The study was the work of Dr Per-Henrik Zahl, from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, and colleagues and is published in the 24 November issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

    For the study, Zahl and colleagues compared breast cancer rates between two groups of women living in Norway: one screened three times over six years (the "screened group") and one screened only once at the end of six years (the "control group").

    The "screened group" comprised 119,472 women aged 50 to 64 who had been invited to take part in the Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Program where they underwent a total of three mammograms (two years between each) from 1996 to 2001. The "control group" comprised 109,784 women who were aged 50 to 64 in 1992 and did not have the biennial screening, they had one mammogram to assess final prevalence at the end of six years of being tracked for cancer via a national register.

    The results showed that breast cancer rates were higher in the screened group than among the control group before they had their final prevalence screening. For the women screened every two years the breast cancer rate was 1,909 out of every 100,000 women. This compared with 1,564 out of 100,000 among the controls. Also, the screened women were more likely to have breast cancer at every age.

    Equally surprising however, was that Zahl and colleagues found that: "Even after prevalence screening in controls, however, the cumulative incidence of invasive breast cancer remained 22 percent higher in the screened group."

    Click to read more ...

    Sunday
    Oct052008

    Be Yourself Anyway

    The following poem is engraved on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta.

    People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
    Forgive them anyway.

    If you are kind,
    people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
    Be kind anyway.

    If you are successful,
    you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
    Succeed anyway.

    If you are honest and frank,
    people may cheat you;
    Be honest and frank anyway.

    What you spend years building,
    someone could destroy overnight.
    Build anyway.

    If you find serenity and happiness,
    they may be jealous;
    Be happy anyway.

    The good you do today,
    people will often forget tomorrow;
    Do good anyway.

    Give the world the best you have,
    and it may never be enough;
    Give the best you’ve got anyway.

    You see, in the final analysis
    it is between you and God;
    it was never between you and them anyway.

    Who we're being in this precious moment is always and only up to us. Just be your most natural self.  Be the way you would rather be;  be the way you like to be;  be the way that brings you joy and ease and peace and contentment, and leave others to do as they wish. If your choices lead you to peace, then they are good choices. If your choices lead to discord, then question them.

    Live and let live and be happy.

    If you are being a good person or trying to do the right thing for any reason other than that it feels good to you, you're making things way too complicated. You are naturally inclined to goodness; you are naturally inclined to peace; you are naturally inclined to love and contribution. Let yourself enjoy the ease of trusting in your own goodness. Be good because it feels good to you and let everything else go.

    Trust in you. Love your world. Be happy the way children are happy.