You too can be happy. Really. A Q&A with Shawn Achor

LWaines:

My favorite quote (and lesson): “A rhinoceros is on a treadmill, and it’s sweating and running as fast as it possibly can, and it’s looking up at this poster of this beautiful unicorn. So it’s trying to run as fast as it can to be a unicorn, and inherently it’s creating greater levels of frustration, because it’s not a unicorn, it’s a rhinoceros, and it should be the best rhinoceros that it can be.”

We can’t find happiness by looking at other people. Contentment and success start with accepting ourselves for who we are, without judgment of “good” parts and “bad” parts.

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Photo courtesy TEDxBloomington.

Photo courtesy TEDxBloomington.

“We think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier. But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order,” said Shawn Achor in his charming, immensely popular TED Talk from TEDxBloomington, “The happy secret to better work.” Achor is the CEO of consulting firm Good Think, which conducts research on positive psychology and helps people apply it to be happier and more effective at work. His 2011 talk drew on the research from his bestselling book on positive psychology, The Happiness Advantage, and since then he’s had a new question on his mind: Why are some people able to make positive changes in their lives, while others remain stuck in their ways? His latest book, Before Happiness, published last week by Random House, addresses just this question. In it Achor describes the five essential elements that are needed to develop a…

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Chocolate Stout and Irish Cream Whoopie Pies

LWaines:

I recently read that February 24 is National Cupcake Day in Canada. Even though I’m not in Canada, that shouldn’t stop me from celebrating, right? Plus, it’s for a good cause. In that spirit, I share the best cupcakes I ever made. So, they’re actually whoopee pies, which I think are actually much better than cupcakes. They’re easier to eat, and you get a taste of cake and frosting in every bite. What could be better? When I made these Chocolate Stout and Irish Cream Whoopie Pies, I had to give them away so that I wouldn’t eat them all in one weekend. So, yeah, they’re that good.

Originally posted on bake me away!:

Chocolate Stout and Irish Cream Whoopie Pies

I think this marks my first time posting a festive recipe several days before the actual holiday.  Shocking, right?  Unsurprisingly, this was kind of an experiment that I thought about doing awhile ago.  I didn’t come up with the recipe, but did try a different execution of it.

Did you know that I made a wedding cake almost a year ago?  It was this already huge chocolate stout cake recipe tripled and it was ridiculously delicious.  If you’ve never had chocolate stout cake, I think you should change that very soon.  It doesn’t taste beer-y, but has an even deeper chocolate flavor.  And just so you know, even beer haters like it. :)  By the way, all three winners of that Scharffen-Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest (remember?) incorporated stout into their cupcakes.  That’s saying something.

Anyway, I think Deb basically halved that cake recipe (she’d made it into a

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4 scientific studies on how meditation can affect your heart, brain and creativity

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Many people have tried to sell me on the idea of meditating. Sometimes I try it, and have an incredible, refreshing experience. But usually, as I close my eyes and focus on my breathing, while I know that I’m supposed to be letting all thoughts go, more and more fly through my mind. Soon I have a laundry-list of “to-dos” in my head … and then my legs fall asleep. It’s all downhill from there.

Today’s TED Talk, however, might actually convince me to give meditation another shot.

“We live in an incredibly busy world. Our pace of life is often frantic, our minds are always busy, and we’re always doing something,” says Andy Puddicombe at the TEDSalon London Fall 2012. “The sad fact is that we’re so distracted that we are no longer present in the world in which we live. We miss out on the things that…

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Kitchen Adventures: Breakfast Edition

I tried out some new breakfast ideas for an alternative to my spinach-and-(mostly) egg white omelets. One was a success. The other, eh.

Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

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from Damn Delicious

This was the one I really enjoyed. Great flavors and really filling. I’ve also seen a version for apple cinnamon breakfast quinoa and other varieties to try.

Banana Chia Pudding

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from Rooted Blessings

I didn’t love this one, but it was mostly a texture thing for me. The consistency was similar to tapioca pudding, which has never been my favorite. It was a little runny (maybe I used too much milk, what with the not measuring and all). I did add some Pb2 powder (like a peanut butter banana!), which helped to thicken it up a bit.

Any other healthy breakfast ideas?

Embracing Doubt

In one of my first posts, I wrote about overcoming self-doubt. I’d like to revisit that topic. I think there is a step between experiencing doubt and overcoming it. I think we first must embrace it. Embrace it because doubt can be a good thing. Our first reaction to negative emotion usually is to try and make it go away, push through it, stop it somehow. We do this because negative emotions hurt, and we believe that if something hurts, it must be bad. But as Lesley Hazleton points out in her TED talk about doubt, sometimes these negative emotions open us up for something far greater. Doubt, for example, allows us to have faith. (If we had all the answers, why would we need faith?) Doubt allows us to feel accomplished when we prove to ourselves or to others that we can do something we (or they) didn’t think possible. I’ve learned that doubt shows us what we want. So maybe we don’t need to overcome it at all. Maybe by opening up to doubt, by moving with it rather than through it, we can experience something new.

Kitchen Adventures

I tried out a new recipe this weekend that made me so happy from start to finish that I had to share. Turns out it would be really good for a quick and easy weeknight meal. I had been drooling over Iowa Girl Eats’ Grilled Thai Beef Salad and decided to make a version of it. However, I was in the mood for fish after seeing some beautifully hot pink tuna steaks at the market, so I adapted her recipe slightly. I briefly marinated a tuna steak in sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic (I don’t measure things, so follow her recipe if you like exact quantities). The smell of sesame oil and garlic had me very excited for the flavors to ensue. I would probably eat just about anything that involved sesame oil and garlic. While that was marinating, I toasted some sliced almonds on the stovetop. Again, yummy smells making me very excited. After searing the tuna steak for about 1 minute on each side over medium-high heat, I piled that and the sliced almonds, along with a few grape tomatoes, on a bed of kale. I lightly drizzled the salad with more sesame oil, rice vinegar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The contrasting texture of the crisp kale and crunchy almonds with the melt-in-your-mouth, warm tuna was lovely.(How’s that for mindful eating?!) And there you have my Seared Tuna and Kale Salad.

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Snow Day Hunger-Buster Soup

We had a rare snow day in the South this week, so I took the opportunity to make a hearty sirloin vegetable soup.  There’s nothing like simple, filling comfort food on a cold day. As pretty as a little snow can be, I’m glad the Polar Vortex is moving on out. I just hope it takes Justin Bieber with it… Anyway, all that business about insatiable hunger was definitely taken care of by a bowl of this soup and a yummy, gooey, grilled cheese sandwich.

I started by marinating some sirloin beef tips in worcestershire sauce, garlic, and spices (can’t remember exactly which ones I used) and chopping up lots of veggies. I used zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, celery, grape tomatoes, onions, green bell pepper, and potatoes. Supposedly potatoes are good for curbing hunger pangs.

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Then, everything went into a slow cooker with vegetable broth and bay leaves. Adding some tomato juice probably would have been good, too, but I had none. I seasoned very lightly with salt, as I try to keep a low-sodium diet and have a penchant for salty, crunchy snacks and would rather have my salt there than in food with plenty of other flavors.

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A couple hours later, and it was ready to enjoy. As for the grilled cheese, I went with a classic version, but some of these updates are begging to be tested…

Marbella Omelette (like a spanish omelette – but orange)

LWaines:

This looks delicious & BJOD has the best blog- check him out!

Originally posted on Big Jew on a Diet:

I made this for my friends the other night and they loved it. I’m not being cocky but it’s literally insane.

The sweetness of the sweet potato and peppers combined with the saltiness of the Bresaola and feta is genius. It might sound long to make but it’s super super easy. I used to make this with chorizo (sorry Rabbi Leibovitz) but the fat content is MUCH lower in Bresaola… and it’s beef! If you’re being a bad jew then use chorizo for sure.

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Serves: 4 people 

Shit you need:                             

12 eggs (or alternatively 1 ostrich egg, or 1,000 quail eggs)

3 peppers (red, yellow, orange are the sweetest)

2 sweet potatoes

6 slices of Bresaola (Sub for chorizo if you want)

A pack of olives and feta from the supermarket

1 onion diced

1…

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Why Am I So Hungry?!

I’ve been extra hungry lately. I’m talking Hungry, Hungry Hippo, eat everything in site, ravenous, every two hours. Though I’d like to say it’s because I’ve amped up my workouts and just need more calories, unfortunately, I cannot claim that feat. (And according to the MyFitnessPal app, I definitely don’t need more calories.) Could it be all the food porn I consume on Pinterest? (Maybe. And it doesn’t help caloric intake when I turn said food porn into a reality in my kitchen. Why are the sweet dishes so much more fun to make than the veggie dishes??) How about the cold weather? Surely there’s some type of evolutionary mechanism in my brain that’s activated to hoard food when it’s really cold, right? (Answer: Eh, probably not.) Given that I can’t control or blame the weather, I decided to do a quick search of reasons I may be hungry and what to do about it. Turns out, there’s no shortage of advice out there. The most likely culprits (that don’t include a major medical issue):

  • Maybe I’m not actually hungry. Dehydration, boredom, anxiety, or any number of other factors can be masked as hunger. Occasionally, boredom does get the better of me, and I know I need to drink more water. Hot tea can help with hydration and easing cravings. But a growling stomach isn’t always satiated with water.
  • I’m not getting enough sleep. Well, probably not. Perhaps I should take my own advice on sleep hygiene
  • I don’t slow down to eat. Mindful eating, again. Okay, so I’ll stop the working lunches.
  • I’m not getting the proper nutrients. It’s not just the calories that count. We need certain amounts of fat and nutrients. Though my food diary is close to being a nutritionist’s dream (save the red wine and chocolate cupcakes), perhaps there are some adjustments I can make.
  • I didn’t eat enough for breakfast. That’s definitely not my problem, but a good point for many who skimp on breakfast.

This week, I’m going to up my water intake (including tea) and pay more attention to what I’m eating (behaviorally and nutritionally) and hope that keeps me from getting hangry. NOBODY wants that.