Megan’s Musings #3

So much great stuff to share this week! If you’re looking for a new book to read, check out one of the many books I share below. If reading isn’t your thing, there are plenty of podcasts and even a super interesting documentary series on vaccines to check out so read on. I finish off with a bit on my first experience with functional medicine. I’ve only had one visit with my new doctor, but it was an amazing experience and I look forward to the next one!

Books

I’m a super slow and tired reader who falls asleep quickly when reading so I wasn’t able to finish the Book of Joy the first time around but I got it back from the library last week and hopefully can make some progress and maybe even finish it before I have to return it again. We shall see. In addition to getting back to the Book of Joy, I learned of several other great reads to add to my reading list, listened to a host of fabulous podcasts, and listened to the first episode of an intriguing and informative documentary series on vaccines – a super controversial but very important topic!

Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy by Mo Gawdat. I haven’t read this one yet but after hearing Mo on the School Of Greatness podcast (see below), it’s now on my list of books to read.

The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey. Another one added to my list.

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. I started reading this while I was waiting to get the Book of Joy again. I’ve heard Jay Papasan on podcasts several times (including here on the School Of Greatness Podcast) and feel there is a lot of wisdom in the concept of focusing on your ONE thing in order to find the best results / success. I’ve always been one who tries to multi-task thinking multi-tasking is the ticket to getting the most done and getting ahead of the game, but I am often left feeling like I get nothing done at all and never move forward. I’m not sure I’ll finish the book because I got the Book Of Joy again, but it’s great and has come highly recommended from multiple sources.

Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams. There’s a chapter in the book titled “Fear, Stress, and Anxiety: I Would Be Very Nervous.” I knew this would be a good one for me since those three words pretty much describe how I’ve felt most of my life. What I’ve come to realize and that they discuss in this chapter is that much of the fear, stress, and anxiety I experience is of my own making. I’ve created it in how I interpret and respond to the things around me (very much relates to the concepts Mo Gawdat shares in his podcast and also two of the Good Life Project podcasts below). A few of my favorite passages from this chapter:

Tutu – “…it is when this natural fear gets exaggerated that we experience stress, worry, and anxiety. Many of us suffer from this general state of unease, during which we have floating fears and worries that attach to any experience or relationship. It is very hard to be joyful with stress and anxiety; we have a continual feeling of being overwhelmed and not being able to handle our work commitments, or family commitments, or the digital devices that are constantly reminding us of all the things that we are missing. Juggling so many things at the same time, we can feel like we are always one step behind.”

Jinpa (the Dalai Lama’s translator) – “…modern society has prioritized independence to such an extent that we are left on our own to try to manage lives that are increasingly out of control.”

Dalai Lama – “Stress and anxiety often come from too much expectation and too much ambition.”

Abrams – “The Archbishop and the Dalai Lama were saying that so much of our stress is dependent on seeing ourselves as separate from others, which perhaps returns to the loss of our sense of communal connection…”

Dalai Lama – “If we think we are something special or not special enough, then fear, nervousness, stress, and anxiety arise. We are the same.”

Abrams – “Once again, the path of joy was connection and the path of sorrow was separation.”

My thoughts: It is the job of each and every one of us to find a way to relate to each person we cross paths with on a human level. We are all connected in some way and it is through this natural, God-given human connection that we can join together and rise above conflict, fear, adversity, trial, or anything else that seemingly sets us apart. From my own experience, most of the differences I have thought or felt between myself and others have really been illusions I’ve constructed in my own mind.

 

I’ve made it a priority to read out loud to the kids (ages 9 and almost 6) even as they get older and become independent readers. Most of the books I read out loud to our 9-year old are non-fiction or historical fiction. I find great value in sharing stories together and dialoguing about the lessons and messages we learn from what we read. Here are just a few books we’ve read together recently. All are incredible stories of bravery, heroism, struggle, and the ugly and utterly great sides of humanity.

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini (Unbroken) and David Rensin.

Irena’s Children 

Hanna Suitcase

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban 

A Storm Too Soon: A True Story of Disaster, Survival, and Incredible Rescue by Michael J. Tougias.

The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Rescue by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman

 

Documentaries

“The Truth About Vaccines” documentary series. Whatever your thoughts on vaccines, this is a good series to watch / listen to!

 

Podcasts

Bright Line Eating’s Susan Pierce Thompson’s vlog on “What Makes Us Happier”? I posted this message to the Wholeful private Facebook group and also a few other Facebook groups I’m part of but wanted to share it here too!

“Hi everyone – I’ve shared the Brightline Eating program with many friends and clients of ours (we have a plant-based whole foods business / hobby, www.wholefulhealth.com) and I realized I haven’t posted it here. We created our own meal plan called the Whole New You 22 and I fully believe in it, but I also endorse other programs for various reasons. Susan Pierce Thompson has a fabulous program in Brightline Eating. I haven’t done the program myself but I’ve been following her for some time and I can relate to so many of the materials she puts out. Her program is specifically targeted toward food addicts. Maybe you identify yourself as a food addict/former food addict/one with food addict tendencies, or you know someone else who is a food addict. Whatever the case, I encourage you to take a look at her stuff and share it. Remember, food addicts come in all shapes and sizes, all backgrounds, etc. Susan offers a great tool on her site called the food susceptibility scale that will help determine where you’re at in terms of susceptibility for food addiction. In her latest vlog, she discusses “What Makes Us Happier?” This is what I got from it: Do you ever find yourself saying “I’ll be happy when…” or “I’ll be happy if….”. If this is the way you live, the cards will never line up just right for lasting happiness. Yes, maybe you’ll experience happiness for a moment, but it will be fleeting. Happiness doesn’t come from accomplishments, achievements, or circumstances. Happiness is a byproduct of right living (living in such a way that is fulfilling, purposeful, meaningful, etc). Happiness is a state of mind. Happiness is a choice! Choose to be happy now. In this moment. Under these circumstances.”

The School Of Greatness podcast with Lewis Howes and Mo Gawdat on “The Happiness Equation.” This was one of my favorite podcasts so far. I was listening to it while working out and then running some errands and was compelled to stop and take notes several times. Mo’s message really speaks to me where I’m at right now. Here’s just a few of the snippets that resonated the most with me:

  • Happiness is being ok with life as it is.
  • “Should” and “shouldn’t” thoughts make us suffer but don’t change our reality. These types of thoughts are essentially useless ruminations of the mind and wastes of our time and mental energy that ultimately create our suffering.
  • We create our own suffering by taking pain (emotional or physical) that we all experience and start to apply it over and over like we are generating pain on demand through thoughts in the incessant parts of our brains. We essentially torture ourselves with our thoughts.
  • Pain will happen but we don’t have to suffer with our torturous thoughts.
  • There are 6 key illusions that affect our happiness: thought, self, fear, control, time, and knowledge. It’s not that these illusions don’t exist but rather that they exist but in a form that is different than what we think. In our minds we frame our perspective on life based on our perception of these illusions and then we see everything in our lives through the lens that is based on our perception. When we can bust the illusions and see these things for what they really are (that we really aren’t in control or that we really don’t know anything, for example), the happiness equation is served correctly much more frequently.
  • One of the keys to the equation of happiness is not in how we set expectations but instead in how we handle when our expectations aren’t met.
  • Mo related humans to engineering objects in an easy to understand way when he said something along the lines of this: we may start out in good order (from birth) and are on the course for a life of joy and happiness early on but along the way wires get mixed up, things go wrong, parts malfunction, we get injured or hurt, etc. To get ourselves back on course, we need a readjustment, rewiring, or realignment if you will.
  • Mo’s son (in his 20s) shared this very wise piece of advice before he passed away unexpectedly (with my paraphrase) – you want to change the world but you can only change your little world. So do your best to contribute in a positive way to every instance and with every person that crosses your path.

 

The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields and Vanessa Van Edwards on “Hacking Social Interaction for Good”. I’ve always felt a little socially awkward. Like I’m an outsider, strange, different than everyone else, boring, etc. I love people and I love to be real with people, but I’m always up in my head all the time and sometimes find it difficult to separate myself from my incessant thoughts, especially in larger group settings. Vanessa and Jonathan address all of this and more as they share insights and tips for navigating social interactions.

The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields and Dan Lerner on “How To Succeed (Without Destroying Your Life).” Being an all or nothing kind of person who tends toward obsessiveness, when I get into something, I tend to go all in and neglect other (very important) areas of my life – especially things that aren’t part of my “to-do” list. Things like getting outside, playing a game, spending an extra few minutes laying with the kids, going on an unexpected date with my husband, meeting up with a friend, etc. I really like Dan’s perspective on success and what he’s come to understand as the keys to success based on his research and experience. Namely that success in one thing or area doesn’t mean you have to give up all other things or live some sort of reclusive life where you’re solely focused on practicing and mastering one skill or venture. In fact, success can sometimes hinge on taking breaks, stepping away, and taking time to nurture outside pursuits and relationships – actually LIVING life. And, I loved his answer to Jonathan’s final question “What does it mean to live a good life?” Dan replied that living a good life means doing something in your life (or day) that makes the world a better place when you leave it (or go to bed at night). Simple, yet profound.

The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields on “Want To Live Longer? It’s a People Thing.” Jonathan discusses how he thinks research points to relationships as the key to a long life (above diet, exercise, and sleep). While all components of “health” are important, I would have to agree that a life void of quality relationships is not a life worth living. Relationships take time to build and are so easy to destroy. In our fast paced digital and device bound culture, it’s even more important to carve out time to nurture and care for our precious relationships. As I shared in my recent post on relationships, this is a new focus for me.

 

My Functional Medicine Experience

I’ve been hearing a lot about functional medicine over the last two years or so as I’ve been tuning in to health and wellness related podcasts and have been more focused on health as a whole instead of just physical health. I listened to this podcast with Rich Roll and Dr. Shay Shani on “Holistic, Preventive, & Functional Medicine” back in early 2015 and immediately wanted to fly out to CA to become a patient of Dr. Shani. Since that wasn’t a possibility, I did the next best thing and reached out to him via his web site contact form to see if he was aware of any practitioners closer to me that followed a method similar to his. He got back to me and offered to consult with me via skype and also said he would investigate other docs in my area. Things got busy (as they always do) and I never ended up going any further to pursue it until now! I’ve been curious about a few health issues that I’ve experienced and really want to get the root of the problem(s). I’ve been frustrated by lack of answers, direction, or sound advice from standard medical doctors that I’ve seen so I really wanted to investigate this alternative approach. There happens to be a functional med doc really close to me so I set up an appointment and saw her for the first time today. After completing a detailed 45-page intake form a week in advance of the appointment (to give her enough time to review everything) and then spending 2.5 hours in person with her, I will honestly say it has already been one of the best investments (time and money!) that I’ve made in a very long time. It was so nice to be asked about all aspects of health in one place, by one person, who was intently listening, asking relevant questions, and taking detailed notes. In addition, she did a thorough analysis including taking several pictures of things like my tongue, skin, hands, and feet. I loved Dr. Khawaja’s positive, well-rounded approach and am looking forward to working with her and embarking on a new path in my health journey.

 

I’d love to hear from you! What have you been learning, reading, watching, and/or listening? Please share in the comments section below!