Here are short snippets (hey, I need a BREAK, too) on three books that helped me DARE-Out my head:
Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D.
All About: How to understand, seek out and master experiences that bring you maximum happiness, energy, and pleasure; activities you could wile away hours doing without even realizing the time. The author calls it “flow”…others call it “getting in the zone.”
Credible expert/Effective methodology: psychology & sociology professor…authored 120+ books on happiness and creativity…called world’s leading researcher on positive psychology… cites biological and chemical brain activity at root of our total well-being.
Or Else: “Cheating Chaos” chapter particularly relevant today: author advises “transformative coping“ – first, you cry, or get drunk, or eat too much, then you find a way to get through it, and over it, or risk “waste [your] energies in inner turmoil.”
The Break-out Principle, by Herbert Benson, M.D., and William Proctor.
All about: the scientifically proven relationship between mind and body, and how to harness the power of your right brain to relieve stress and increase creativity.
Credible expert/Effective methodology: Revered Harvard Medical School scientist. 30 years’ research on stress, productivity and creativity…launched Mind/Body Institute…grounded in sound, accurate, reliable biological principles…i.e., your brain on stress…vs. when relaxing, laughing, listening to music, having sex, chocolate. Four – 4 – simple exercises to cure analysis-paralysis: 1) immerse yourself in the problem, 2) move away from it and do something completely different, 3) seek out solutions from unlikely or comforting sources, 4) return to tackling the problem, with fresher perspective that often leads to the breakthrough.
Or Else: Harness good stress that gets juices going but work hard to eliminate excess stress that’s toxic and hampers overall effectiveness and health. Numerous Benson articles in Harvard Business Review warn of the financial impact of executive burn-out due to not taking a break.
The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life, by Martha Beck, Ph.D.
All about: how to feed your head and your heart. Chapters titled: Nothing (as in, the merits of doing nothing); Creativity; Risk; Treats; Play; Laughter; Connection; Feasting. Think that’s all fluff? Without joy, you’re at highest risk of dying of heart disease. [See, Or Else, below.]
Credible expert/Effective methodology: Harvard M.S. and Ph.D. in Sociology…longtime O Magazine columnist…one of the funniest, wisest, realistic writers on why it’s so important to give yourself a break. Here’s her intro: “If you’re looking for ways to shed that potbelly… you’ll have to look elsewhere…your belly and buttocks are absolutely magnificent right now.” How could you not get joy from that?
Or Else: Beck is good, Beck is great. I’ve red-lined her books and articles so much I can hardly see the words anymore. But here’s the biggest reason to heed her advice to take a break, get a laugh, make a connection: our 4th expert – who says your very life could depend on laughing more:
In an article for the International Journal of Cardiology, Dr. Michael Miller, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, reported that a study done on 300 people with heart disease showed “they responded less humorously to everyday life situations.” According to Miller, not only did they laugh less, but they also tended to show more anger and hostility. In another study, Miller had participants watch clips of violent movies followed by clips of funny movies, and then measured their blood flow. He reports: blood flow improvement by most participants after laughter was equal to the beneficial effects of a 15- or 30-minute workout!
So, if your question is: “Does that slasher movie make my butt look fat?” Hell, yeah! So GO LAUGH your butt off, already!