Want Success? Freedom? Why It Starts in Your Mind

I’ve been feeling free. Light. Accomplished. And extra independent. Things I’ve been wanting and working toward are happening. It feels great to see things that I’ve imagined actually come to pass in real life.

And that is the key, in part. The thought. The willingness to believe that good things are coming and that I am—and we are—worthy of them.

Our thoughts matter and can affect our bodies, our lives, and our experiences. This concept shows up in science, in the law of attraction, and even in faith-based teachings.

So if you want to feel free—or more successful, content, or relaxed—a big way to shift is within your mind.

For example, taking time to think kind thoughts about yourself has psychological and physical benefits, suggests 2019 research from the University of Exeter. In the small study, participants who listened to an audio recording that encouraged them to be kind to themselves reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others. These participants also had a physical response consistent with relaxation and safety, including a drop in heart rate and a lower sweat response. Meanwhile, those who heard an audio inducing “a critical inner voice” had a higher heart rate and higher sweat response, consistent with feelings of distress.

More mind-power info? As you may know, the benefits of meditation, the practice of training and focusing your mind, are myriad and can include helping with stress reduction, pain control, and even improving sleep.

So this July, and beyond, remember: If you have a dream in your heart, think of it positively in your mind. Believe in yourself, put in the work, and have faith. Think of the thing as already yours. ⁣You might be surprised to see the good things that can follow.

⁣So do you believe in yourself? Want some encouragement? Maybe I can help–especially if you have questions about moving up in your career (including full-time or freelance work in writing, communications, or editing) or how to shift your general mindset. Drop me a comment or email me!

⁣P.S. In this photo, I somehow managed to channel the tropics—from the city. Come hang with me on Instagram @lesliequander to see my other adventures. ☺️?

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Writing Tip: Where to Find Inspiration

I’ve been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade. (Where did the time go?!) And I wrote for fun for many years before that.

One question that comes up when it comes to writing and creativity is this: Where do you get ideas? Whether we’re writing on deadline or writing just for fun, our ideas have to come from somewhere. And, in my experience, ideas for stories can come from all around us.

For instance, I wrote about the benefits of training for surgery for The Washington Post after I discovered a related study—and dug in for more research. And I wrote about five tips to protect your hearing for Men’s Health after noticing loud sounds in my own environment.

Recently I went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to see a ballet. There, I ran into this exhibit of worldwide photos of hope and resilience (see above). It was another example of how surprises can pop up anywhere and at any time–and how we should be open to them. But it also reminded me that inspiration for writing, other creative pursuits, and even life plans can come from all around us. In fact, I think it’s really cool that we can soak up creativity even in our hometowns—without trying hard or traveling far.⁣⁣

(Side note: If you haven’t been to the Kennedy Center, do check it out when in DC—for everything from opera to ballet. This free exhibit via the National Geographic Photo Camp features photos from at-risk and refugee youth and runs through June 20, 2019.)

So here’s the takeaway: Story ideas and life inspiration can come from anywhere. And they can come by surprise. If you’re looking for ideas for your next piece of writing, look around you. Explore your hometown. Travel. Read something you typically wouldn’t. Start a new conversation.

You can find plenty of inspiration if you pay attention.

For more writing tips and daily snapshots, subscribe to this blog or follow me on Instagram!

Or feel free to comment or email me your thoughts or questions about writing and creativity.

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5 Tips to Protect Your Hearing



So I love getting out to events and listening to live music. But these fun activities can have a down side. Sadly.

If you’re around loud sounds, you should know that you could be at risk for tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss, too. These sounds can show up anywhere, from your favorite sporting events to concerts and bars.

Because this topic is so important, and because it can affect so many people, I wrote about how to avoid hearing loss and damage earlier this year for Men’s Health. Even now, the topic keeps coming up in my everyday life. Maybe because I know so many other music lovers.

The facts: Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Those higher than 85 dB can permanently damage the hair cells in your inner ear with extended exposure, leading to hearing loss or actual damage. And it can be years before you start to notice the effects.

Please check out my story for five tips on how to protect your hearing. I do these things myself. Then tell me what you think!

Have you ever had a hearing scare, or noticed when sounds were too loud? Taking action now can help you later.


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Training for Surgery? Yes, You Can



These days, Americans train to get in shape for marathons, weddings and backpacking trips. So why not train for surgery? Tens of millions of surgeries are scheduled each year in the United States, and each can result in complications such as shock, infection or pulmonary issues: A 2012 study citing hospital data from the American College of Surgeons on 551,510 general surgery patients found a complication rate of almost 17 percent.

I recently wrote about training for surgery for The Washington Post, and interviewed several doctors to explain why it can be helpful. Posting about the topic here in the name of blog updates. (I promised I’d be back.)

Providers at several hospitals believe better preparation could help patients awaiting elective surgeries—those planned in advance, such as hip replacements or cosmetic procedures, rather than done in an emergency—avoid those problems. They designed programs to help ensure that patients enter surgery in the best condition possible, with preparation including physical and mental components.

If you’re planning a surgery, or know someone who is, please check out the story online. You’ll see the four training steps to consider and discuss with your surgeon, even if your facility doesn’t offer a formal program.



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Facts on Contacts: Most of Us Have Bad Habits




Most of us think we know how to clean our contacts, but a new study finds less than 1 percent of people (less than 1 percent!) actually care for them properly, WebMd Health News reports.

And bad habits have consequences, researchers write in the journal Optometry and Vision Science. The most frequent problems reported by surveyed contacts wearers were discomfort (72%) and infection (47%). Yikes.

To protect your eyes, replace contacts as recommended, American Optometric Associationspokesman Randall Fuerst, O.D., tells WebMd.

Other steps? Never use tap water to clean cases or lenses (I’ve done this, but no more!), always use fresh solution, and always wash and dry your hands before putting in lenses. And, of course, only buy contacts from reputable providers—and only if you have a current, valid prescription (no crazy colors from shady outlets or oversize lenses, please).

So have you been doing anything wrong—and will you make changes? Learn more on healthy lens care from FDA and WebMd.

Image: nuchylee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Physically Leaning Affects Our Thinking?



Interesting news out of the Netherlands: A new study suggests the way you physically lean affects how you estimate quantities (like sizes, numbers, and percentages).

We think of smaller numbers as being to the left and larger numbers to the right, researchers say. So when participants estimated answers to questions, they chose smaller numbers when leaning to the left. (There was no difference in estimates when they leaned to the right or stood straight up.)

Though researchers say posture has no effect when you know an answer, they say it influences you when you’re unsure. So the next time you wonder how much liquor is in that lemon drop, maybe try not to lean left. Wouldn’t want to overindulge because you guessed low!

So what do you think of this study? Does it sound right (ha) to you?

Image: We Heart It

 

 


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Feeling Cranky? Have a Snack



If you feel more irritable when you’re hungry, hormones may be to blame.

Levels of serotonin—a hormone that helps regulate behavior—fluctuate when people are stressed or haven’t eaten, finds a new study from the University of Cambridge. And when levels are low, researchers say, communication between certain parts of the brain is weaker than normal, which may make it harder for the brain to control emotional responses to anger.

Wait a minute. This could explain why some morning drivers are so aggressive: They skipped breakfast! So let’s just think of this study as another reason to eat healthy meals…and snacks in between.

What about you? Do you ever feel more angry when you haven’t eaten?

Image: We Heart It



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Have You Been Fooled by Organic Food?



I really love organic food—I get happy going to Whole Foods—but a new study made me think. We may believe that organic foods are nutritious and that they taste better, but, according to new research, our minds may be playing tricks on us.

A total of 144 people participated in a double blind, controlled trial at a mall, according to this press release. (Yep…a mall. But keep reading!) Graduate student Jenny Wan-chen Lee of Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics asked participants to taste and evaluate several products: “conventional” and “organically produced” chocolate sandwich cookies, plain yogurt, and potato chips. But—and this is the important part—all of the products were actually organic.

Lee found some interesting results:

  1. Participants preferred the taste of almost all of the “organically labeled” food, even though those foods were the same as the “conventional” products.
  2. Participants thought organically labeled foods were significantly lower in calories, lower in fat, and higher in fiber.
  3. Overall, participants thought the organically-labeled chips and cookies were “more nutritious” than their conventional counterparts.

It’s reported that Lee is the “first to acknowledge” that the study’s variety of foods is limited, though she’s confident that these kinds of assumptions (called the “halo effect”) are important when it comes to what we eat and how much. (People who think they’re eating nutritious food may be more likely to consume more calories or overeat.)

My take-home point? Even if our organic cookies and chips taste delicious, their labeling does not make it okay to always eat supersize portions!

So what do you think? Do organic foods really taste better, or do we just like them because of their labels?

Image: Master isolated images


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