“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” ~Aristotle

Well, it’s official. Everyone is probably back in school who is going to be this year! Doesn’t it feel good? Well, maybe not so much for everyone. But the benefits of an education are so plentiful that it’s hard to resent the “bitter roots” that Aristotle refers to in the title quote. Let’s take a look at the benefits:

– Learning!

– Curiosity is fostered.

– More opportunities for jobs, travel, recreation

– Admiration and respect of others

– Personal growth

– More positive relationships with friends and loved ones

– Financial security

– Longer lifespan

Becoming a lifelong learner is the best thing a person can do to live a long and productive life. Mortimer Adler explains it best: “The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.” 

My grandmother always told me to learn something new each day, whether it was a day spent in school or not. And to this day, I follow that advice! Sometimes what I learn is something as simple as a new way to prepare a salad, and sometimes it’s more complex. But any and all learning helps the brain grow. 

What have you learned lately? What do you want to learn? How can ASC help you learn more? Check out our book, Past Tense, for more great ideas for learning and living a stress-free life! 

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Happy Labor Day!

For our readers in the United States, today is a day of rest to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions that workers across the nation have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country. At one time, Labor Day was celebrated with parades and with public speakers by well-known orators who highlighted the civil, public service aspect of the holiday. 

Today, Labor Day is often recognized as the official end of summer and the beginning of the school year, although many schools start much earlier now. Labor Day also kicks off many sports’ seasons, such as NFL Football and NASCAR racing, It marks the season finale for both NHRA drag racing and the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. 

In more recent times, Labor Day has become a very labor-filled day for retailers across the nation as more and more companies hold Labor Day sales, claiming it to be one of the biggest sales days of the year, second only to “Black Friday”- the day after Thanksgiving which kicks off the Christmas shopping season. Ironically, many employees who work in retail positions not only must work on the national holiday, but they work even MORE hours than usual! 

Here at ASC, we hope you are all celebrating the national holiday with rest, relaxation, and time with friends and family. We look forward to serving your drug testing needs for many years to come. 

Happy = Healthy

Over the years, many studies have been done which link mental health and physical health; the connection is well-established and documented. We know, for instance, that people who are happy, joyful, and content live longer lives and have fewer aches and pains, while those who are stressed out or angry all the time experience far more injuries and illnesses. A new study looks specifically at the effects of “happiness” on health. Researchers found that people who are happy and experience joy in their lives are less likely to develop heart disease or have heart attacks. Happy people also have lower rates of stress-related illness and depression.

Sounds good, right? But what can we do to be happier and experience more joy in our lives, even during these difficult times? Our world is full of warfare, strife, failing economies, broken families- a variety of stressful things!

First, it is important to note that, to a certain extent, we are born with a predisposition to be positive or negative, optimistic or pessimistic, in our genetic code.This predisposition is not an either/or trait, but rather a sliding scale on which most people land somewhere in the  middle. But what matters to us in terms of happiness is the fact that regardless of our genetic predisposition, we can rewire the brain for positive changes at any time during our lifetime. It is never too late to introduce more happiness into our lives. Health and wellness professionals writing for the Huffington Post have created a list of 4 suggestions to help people just “be happy!”

1. Practice consistent gratitude for any and all good things you can find in your life. Write down 3 things you are grateful for each night before you go to sleep. They don’t have to be “big” or “important” things; the little things matter too! Being grateful for any blessings in your life automatically brings a smile to your face.

2. Create and protect good social relationships. The key to remember here is the word “good.” Let any toxic or negative relationships you may currently have in your life go, whenever possible. If it’s not possible to eliminate difficult people from your life entirely, then work on minimizing the time and energy spent with them.

3. Exercise regularly. Again, it doesn’t have to be extreme or rigidly planned. A brief, brisk 15-minute walk in the morning or evening is enough to increase your heart rate and breathing, pumping energy-giving oxygen to your brain, and releasing the feel-good endorphins that are responsible for increased happiness.

4. Finally, eat more healthy, natural foods. Some foods are known to contain specific nutrients which can enhance our mood and energy level, such as: salmon, spinach, and walnuts. While these foods are specifically linked to happiness, eating a wide variety of nutritious food, well-prepared, improves overall health and eliminates discomfort and disease which makes everyone happier, right?

Researchers recommend that people looking for happiness in all the right places should add one new habit at a time and practice it daily for 3 weeks to create noticeable and measurable changes in mood and happiness. And remember that when you are incorporating many different happiness habits, there wil be a cyclic, holistic effect; the benefits will get stronger and stronger as you go!

So here’s to happiness for all! Enjoy!

Alcoholism and Eating Disorders Share Genes

New research conducted in Australia shows that alcoholism, anorexia, and bulimia may be related genetically. In the study conducted on both fraternal and identical twins, researchers found that common genetic factors seem to underlie the predisposition to alcohol abuse and eating disorders. This does not mean that genetics cause these disorders, but that people with certain genetic combinations may be more likely to develop them.

Although it is still unclear exactly which genes are involved, the discovery of common roots is still significant. Genetics appear to explain 38-53% of the risk of developing both eating disorders and alcohol addiction. Overeaters Anonymous (OA) members have long maintained the belief that food addiction is every bit as serious as alcohol addiction and develops in much the same way over time, resulting in many of the same symptoms and health problems. This study finally provides some basis for that idea. 

Researchers used data on both identical and fraternal twins in order to differentiate the effects of genetics from environmental effects, even effects of a “shared” environment twins had when growing up. 

Complaints are Stressful!

“Man alone is born crying, lives complaining, and dies disappointed.”  – Samuel Johnson

 

Sometimes life is hard. There are difficulties, setbacks, and unexpected delays occurring every day in every person’s life. When did we develop the sense of entitlement that tells us that everything is supposed to be easy for us because we deserve a comfortable life? Who ever said life was “easy?” Well,  I hate to be the one to break it to you, but they lied!

 

When we feel stressed, it is easy to lose sight of the good things in our lives and to focus on the difficulties. Once we fall into a pattern of complaining, it is hard to stop. But who likes to be around a whiner, someone who is angry, or a person who is always complaining or steeped in negativity? It’s no fun at all!

 

Instead of complaining about everything, there are some steps that can be taken to change one’s perspective about life and the situations we find ourselves in:

– develop a practice of gratitude. Whenever you find yourself in a cycle of complaining, stop and list 5-10 things you are grateful for in your life. They don’t have to be monumental, life-changing things; simple things are blessings too.

– When you find yourself complaining, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to change the person, circumstance, or situation I am complaining about?” If there is something you can do, then DO IT!

– If the person, circumstance, or situation is NOT something you can change or have any control over, then just stop. Complaints just make an uncomfortable or difficult situation even worse. Nothing good ever comes out of complaining, but instead makes everyone around you miserable too. There is a better way to live and it’s up to you to find it.

 

Rita Dove summed it up best: “There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.”  Think about it — do you want to live a life of whining and crying, or letting the disappointments fade and the smiles flourish?

 

For more positive thoughts like this one, check out our book, Past Tense

Mandatory Drug Testing in Child Fatality Cases

Recently, a panel was appointed to review severe child abuse and neglect cases in Kentucky. The panel is considering the proposal of a new law requiring parents or caregivers to submit to mandatory drug testing whenever a child dies in their custody. At first glance, this seems like a sound idea, especially in light of recent increases in child abuse cases reported, and an increase in resulting deaths. But how many childhood deaths are likely to be impacted by parental or guardian drug abuse? So many other factors can impact infant mortality, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and birth defects.

The panel supports the idea of mandatory drug-testing, but recognizes that it would further traumatize innocent parents who are mourning the loss of a child. This reality makes the new law a hard sell in the legislature. Legislators have already said they would want to have solid details about how and when drug testing would be used and would be more comfortable if the law was written for “with cause” drug testing instead of mandatory testing in every case. The idea of automatic testing of parents or custodial caregivers without consideration for other possible factors makes legislators, and most citizens as well, very uncomfortable.

The way things stand now, the Kentucky panel which includes the state’s Chief Medical Examiner, child abuse prevention specialists, and a Republican senator, among other members, still has a long ways to go before they reach a recommendation that is acceptable to everyone. It is commendable, however, that they are looking at the issue consistently and clearly in an effort to find a compassionate, yet fair, solution.

Certainty? No worries!

“Certainty is the mother of quiet and repose, and uncertainty the cause of variance and contentions.”    – Edward Coke

One of the most recognizable causes of stress today is worry and uncertainty. When the things we have always taken for granted as being so are proven NOT to be so, it causes deep distress and worry. But worrying has never been reported as changing the future for anyone, so what can be done instead?

The best thing one can do in a world full of uncertainty, is to focus on the things that are certain, like sunrises, changing tides, the seasons, answers to prayer. Also, if you want more certainty in your life, do the right thing repeatedly until it becomes a habit. You can not control outer circumstances or other people and their responses, but you can control your own actions and responses. And continual practice helps turn good behaviors and positive responses into solid habits which will kick in without you having to think about it when things get stressful.

Life is full of uncertainties and surprises, but it works a lot better when we don’t create them ourselves. Stress is a symptom of not dealing well with uncertainty. When we know things work well a certain way, it pays to keep doing things the way we know will work. Certainty is something you build; it’s not a feeling that just happens.

For more posts like this, check out our book, Past Tense. Enjoy!