Alyssa Giacobbe

Alyssa Giacobbe

Posted on November 1st, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Life Lessons

Election 2012: Can We Agree to Disagree?

In the late ‘60s, feminists coined—and very often employed—the phrase “the personal is political,” and never before has it rung truer. The recent party conventions were deeply personal, with moving onstage tales of hardship that ranged from growing up black in the South to delivering babies prematurely. Social media, meanwhile, lets us express our views—and hear about others’—more explicitly and aggressively than ever before. Views with which we don’t agree often come as a shock, if not a personal blow: I have a friend who thinks that?

“What is it about politics that hits us so emotionally?” asks Aruni Nan Futuronsky, a certified life coach and program advisor in Kripalu Healthy Living programs. While we may be used to—and even welcome—differences of opinion among family and friends in other arenas, politics often seems to warrant a less accepting view. We get defensive and argumentative. We feel very strongly. We try to convince others to see our side—and we often fail. That’s where the philosophies we learn in our yoga practice come into play, says Aruni. “Yoga teaches us to take action and to express our truth, but not get stuck on the outcome,” she says. That is, speak your mind—but don’t expect to change someone else’s.

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Posted on October 29th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Life Lessons, Meditation

Meditation in Action

How meditation can help you be a better friend.

Meditation has long been celebrated for all it can do for us, among the benefits: lower blood pressure, reduce stress, help us sleep, and even possibly help us lose weight. But a recent study also found that meditation might help us be better friends and partners. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta found that many participants who had practiced eight weeks of meditation showed significant improvement in their ability to identify the emotions of people in photos based on their expressions. That is, they were more in tune with the feelings of others.

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Posted on October 22nd, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Studies, News, and Trends

Are You Happier Than Your Friends?

Though there are, of course, exceptions, research (and Hollywood) have shown that we tend to surround ourselves with people with whom our financial standing is comparable. There are some simple reasons for this, including the logistical fact that as adults, many of our friends are work colleagues or neighbors. On an emotional level, surrounding ourselves with those who do about as well as we do reduces the probability of experiencing envy and jealousy.

A recent study published in the journal Science, however, questions the notion that being the least advantaged people we know leads to dissatisfaction. For more than 20 years, a research collaborative that included economists and sociologists from the University of Chicago and Harvard tracked 5,000 families in five major American cities—including New York, Chicago, and Boston—that had moved out of poor neighborhoods to more affluent ones. The researchers’ hope was that living in the more well-off areas would lead to better jobs and higher incomes for the families. Though that didn’t happen, researchers did find that these families reported being much happier than those who had stayed within their original community—even when they didn’t make more money themselves.

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Posted on October 17th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Studies, News, and Trends

Sleep, Perchance

We need eight hours, yes. But all at once?

Americans have a twisted relationship with sleep. Most of us, when asked, would say that we don’t get enough. We’re too busy, we’re too wired, we can’t manage to stay in bed past 6 am. But then we do all the things we know we’re not supposed to: triple lattes in the afternoon, late-night snacks, e-mailing on our smartphones from under the covers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 41 million of us get six or fewer hours of sleep per night, a fact that stresses us out and causes us to sleep still less. As a collective group, we’re exhausted.

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Posted on October 10th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Studies, News, and Trends

Cancer Prevention

It’s a lot simpler than we think.

At the Union for International Cancer Control’s recent World Cancer Congress,Washington University School of Medicine researcher Graham Colditz, PD, DrPH, reported that more than 50 percent of cancer could be prevented if we implemented certain “lifestyle changes,” including quitting smoking and avoiding obesity.

Seems somewhat obvious, right? Maybe, maybe not. Although we read enough to know that eating right, exercising, and minimizing our exposure to known toxins (cigarettes among them) can limit our risk of developing cancer, most of us don’t necessarily believe it. “Many people are still under the impression that most cancer is genetic,” says Susan B. Lord,MD, a faculty member in Kripalu Healthy Living programs. “But the real figure is actually five percent.” That is, five percent of cancers have strong genetic ties, and the rest are related to environment and lifestyle. This means that the disease is far more preventable than we tend to think it is. In fact, Dr. Colditz estimated that improvement in diet could reduce cancer incidence by 50 percent, and increases in physical activity could reduce cancer incidence by as much as 85 percent, in five to 20 years.

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