Oakland Zoo Animals Put One World Futbol’s Indestructible Soccer Ball To The Test

Green – The Huffington Post
Oakland Zoo Animals Put One World Futbol’s Indestructible Soccer Ball To The Test
This is the kind of animal testing we can all get behind.

The Oakland Zoo announced Friday that some of its strongest exotic animals are the recipients of balls from the One World Futbol Project, a Berkeley-based company that designs and distributes an allegedly indestructible ball that youth around the world–particularly those in communities where buying new sports equipment is no simple feat–can play with in even the harshest of environments.

Animals like Ralph the Aldabra tortoise, who has taken a liking to resting all of his 600 pounds on top of the ball, will both test the ball’s durability and its function as a form of animal enrichment, the Oakland Zoo told The Huffington Post.

The balls, designed to never wear out or deflate, promise to stand the test of claws, teeth and beaks. A lion that typically destroys six balls over the course of half an hour can enjoy one of these sustainable footballs for years, the One World Futbol Project reports.

The Oakland Zoo said that their animals, especially aging ones like 100-year-old Ralph, need that playtime.

“Enrichment is a critical part of our everyday husbandry for zoo animals,” Margaret Rousser, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo, said in a press release. “It provides mental stimulation as well as physical activity. Though it is difficult to find toys that will hold up under pressure of exotic animals, we have found One World Futbols to be a great asset for several species at Oakland Zoo.”

The balls made their way to the Oakland Zoo as part of the company’s “Zoo Seconds” program, which gives balls that are not up to retail standards to participating zoos at no cost.

The durable balls are also a move toward sustainability. One World Futbol inventor Timothy Jahnigen estimates that 20 million balls find their way into landfills every year.

Climate Change This Week: Biblical Rains, Another Solar Breakthough, and More!
Colorado’s “Biblical” Flood in Line with Climate Trends reports Andrew Freedman at Climate Central. He notes that this lethal catastrophic event is consistent with the increasing frequency of extreme rain storms occurring under, and sometimes definitely linked to, continued climate change.


The yellow plume of water vapor that becomes historic rain in Colorado.

Credit CIMSS via Climate Central




Credit Dennis Adams-Smith/Climate Central




Credit Climate Central/National Climate Assessment






Recent flooding in Colorado. Credit caseyj1231/twitter.

UN: Wasted Food World’s Third Biggest Carbon Emitter after China and US, and wastes water, says a new study, reports Katie Valentine at Climate Progress. Richer countries waste more due to unnecessary personal purchases, and could cut waste by having businesses donate unwanted food to charities. In poorer countries, more efficient harvesting and storage are needed. Do you know what is wasting away in your refrigerator?

Oceans Are Acidifying Far Faster, Imperiling Marine Life On A Massive Scale, say studies, reports Craig Welch at the Seattle Times. Studies of ocean spots naturally acidified by carbon dioxide indicate massive marine extinctions will occur under current conditions; many edible shellfish are already being affected. For every person, a bowling ball weight of carbon dioxide enters the ocean daily. Ceviche, anyone?

Warming-Fueled Drought Affects Syria, Other Mediterranean Countries, reports Joe Romm at Climate Progress. Drought, a fast-growing population, and a corrupt regime have all fueled Syria’s civil war. Climate may increasingly drive wars, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that by 2100 many areas worldwide will likely be experiencing much worse droughts.



Palmer Drought Severity Index, PDSI: below -4 is extreme drought. The 2030-39 scenario, via Climate Progress


Recent Climate Pacts Could Add Up to Significant Action reports Andrew Freedman at Climate Central. The US and China agreed recently to limit emissions of hydrofluorocarbons – potent, short-lived greenhouse gases; G20 nations also joined the bandwagon. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollution now includes 33 nations, the European Commission, and numerous organizations; it has $60 million to fund projects like providing cleaner burning woodstoves worldwide. Every little bit counts, folks!

No Keystone? No Problem: TransCanada Pushing Another Major Tar Sands Pipeline reports Kiley Kroh at Climate Progress. The Energy East pipeline would run from Alberta to the Atlantic seaboard, and carry almost as much as the Keystone would. But Canadians are wary. Indeed, I personally overheard one Canadian worker recently observing that jobs produced would be relatively few, and gas would not get cheaper. Now where did he learn that?


☼☼☼ On the Bright Side ☼☼☼


OO California, Chinese Officials Announce Climate Deal

OO Pacific Nations, US Agree to Reduce Carbon Emissions – and made specific pledges to do so.

OO Invent Better Ocean Acidification Detector, Win $1 Million


OO Fulfilling Rich Wireless Wishes Fuels Off-Grid Revolution in Poor Nations – inventions that allow developed nations more options to play are creating renewable energy options for poor nations lacking electricity.

OO A Major Advance For An Emerging Solar Cell Technology – perovskite solar cells can be produced cheaply but are far more energy efficient than their cheap silicon counterparts.

OO Panda Poo May Be Coup For Future Of Biofuels – just remember, all biofuels’ energy efficiencies are limited by the conversion efficiency of sunlight to plant matter: 1%.


OO Coffee Grounds, Spent Tea Are Untapped Biofuels – just remember, all biofuels’ energy efficiencies are limited by the conversion efficiency of sunlight to plant matter: 1%.

OO Cooling The Fridge With CO2

OO Clean Cars Dominate Major Auto Show


Courtesy, US Navy Office of Naval Research

OO Hawaii: US Navy Triples Clean Energy Startup Funding

OO California: Students Compete In Solar Decathlon

OO Young Students Object To Bad Science Education


OO California Passes Bill To Strictly Regulate Oil Well ‘Fracking’

OO Banding Together: Wisconsin Libertarians Join Greens In Favor Of Solar Energy

OO US Billionaire Investor Backs Anti-Keystone XL TV Ad Campaign


OO Microgrids: A Safer Energy Net for Cities’ Stormier Futures – but murky rules are obstacles.

OO US Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Reaches A High, Nearing Goal For 2016

OO Solar Panel Becoming Standard Option For Homebuilders


OO New US Coal Plants Could See Serious Carbon Restrictions – despite hard push from industry.

OO U.S. Coal Companies Scale Back Export Goals – Goldman Sachs report says “The [global] window for thermal coal investment is closing.”

OO EPA Expected To Set Limits On Carbon Emissions By New Power Plants


When will your street flood next? Britain is developing a forecast system. Courtesy, NOAA

OO Britain: Flash Flood Forecasts Just For Your Street

OO Australia: Inside One Of The World’s Most Sustainable Cities

OO UK Urged To Back EU Biofuels Cap


OO China Will Ban New Coal-Fired Power Plants in 3 key industrial regions to fight air pollution.

OO Japan Hopes To Blow Ahead In Renewables With Floating Wind Farm

OO Activists Target Major Snack Makers Over ‘Conflict’ Palm Oil – a health hazardous edible oil, whose cultivation is a major destroyer of carbon-storing Asian rainforests and peat bogs.


Credit Rhett Butler at www.mongabay.com

OO Indonesian Villagers Sue President Over Climate Change

OO Brazil Protects 2.4 Million Carbon-Storing Acres – with 2 new parks.



The flag flies, May 21, 2013.

At Moore, OK, the day after a huge tornado demolished it.

Credit Major Jon Quinlan/defenseimagery.mil

***** US Climate Change News *****


OO West Nile Virus Season To Last Longer As Climate Changes

OO Dengue Fever Presence In Florida At ‘Pretty Serious Level’ – as climate promotes spread of mosquitoes carrying it.

OO Valley Fever Hospitalizations Increase In California – as warm dry conditions of continued climate change fosters spread of the responsible fungus.

OO US Gas Boom Adds To Climate Risks

OO Report: Climate Change Is Impacting California

OO California: In Drought, Water War Fought Underground


Credit Fred Baudera at wikimedia

OO Michigan: Experts – Climate Primary Factor On Lakes Huron And Michigan Low Levels

OO Texas: Group Says Textbook Publishers Pressured To Adjust Evolution, Climate Lessons

OO North Dakota: Bakken Shale – As Wasted Gas Flares, State To Tighten Loose Rules


Gas flaring not only wastes potential fuel but adds greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. Credit Dirk Ingo Franke at wikimedia

OO Colorado Flood Emergency: Streets Impassable, Dams Breached

OO Colorado: ‘Biblical’ Rains Cause Massive Floods, Destruction, Deaths, Evacuations

OO ’50 Dirtiest’ US Power Plants Emit More Greenhouse Gases Than South Korea

OO Hawaii: Drought Conditions Return

OO Louisiana: New Water Plan Could Turn New Orleans Into Next Amsterdam

OO Dust Bowl Worries Swirl Up As Shelterbelt Tree Line Dries – Drought threatens the 1,000-mile line of trees created in the 1930s as giant windbreak that shielded crops, and prevented erosion.

OO Live In A City? The More You Earn, The Bigger Your Carbon Footprint

OO As Pacific Islands Flood, A Climate-Driven Exodus To The US Grows


A beach at risk from rising seas in American Samoa. Credit Acepharma via Wikimedia

OO EPA To Revise Climate Rule For New Power Plants – will still require carbon capture.

OO What Is America’s Most Fuel-Efficient Airline? The smaller ones, with Alaska Airlines leading.

OO Carbon Inequality: 1 % Of US Power Plants Produce 12 % Of US Carbon Emissions

Poly Ticks

OO GOP Tries To Sink Uncontroversial Energy Bill With An Obamacare Amendment

OO States That Get The Most Disaster Aid Have Sent Dozens Of Climate Deniers To Congress

OO Oil Lobbyists Seek Environmental Exemption Ahead Of California Frack Bill Vote


OO Scale of West Coast fracking Probed

OO Charged With Illegal Fracking Pollution, Exxon Claims ‘No Lasting Environmental Impact’

OO Oil Industry Misleads Again: Counts Shale Gas As Carbon-Cutting Effort when studies have already indicated that it probably does not.

☼☼☼Acting Like You Care: The XL Keystone pipeline will make possible far more climate change, but President Obama might okay it anyway. Credo, 350.org and others are asking people to stand up and be counted as nonviolent resisters or help in other ways. I did. If you ever wanted to do something big for your future, now’s your chance – here.


OO As Keystone Battle Drags On, Oil Patch Takes Aim At Alternatives

OO Keystone XL: Canada Minister Offers Obama Emissions Deal To Win Pipeline Support

OO Climate Activist Billionaire Steyer Preparing For Battles Ahead

*****Ready to Invest Your Bucks in Solar? Check out Mosaic opportunities here!


Via the University of East Anglia Climate Change webpage



OO Small Islands Make Big Statement On Climate Change

OO Did Global Warming Cause The Syrian Civil War?

OO One Year Arctic Cooling Agrees With Expected Longterm Climate Change


Despite a larger extent of summer sea ice in 2013, Arctic ice VOLUME continues to decrease. Courtesy, European Space Agency.

OO Warming Climate Begins To Taint Europe’s Blood Supplies

OO IPCC Hires Moral Philosopher To Remind Economists Of Ethics In Climate Spending

OODid Deniers Intimidate IPCC To ‘Lowball’ Sea Level Rise And Climate Sensitivity?


Pink areas currently have above normal wildfire potential. More than 1200 firefighters have already been battling four major fires in an early start to Australia’s wildfire season. Credit Bushfire CRC

OO An Early Start To Bushfire Season Sparks Concern Across Australia

OO US Fracking Boom Sends Canada Gas Producers to Asia for Customers

OO Global Warming Is Very Real – motivating scientists and activists to fight back against deniers.


US drought cuts back crops in the West; even less water will be available under continued climate change. Credit Mary Ellen Harte

OO Warming Will Worsen Water Scarcity

OO Climate Asia – New Study Reveals Most Vulnerable

OO Climate Threat To Southern Africa’s Crops


OO Preserving Forest, Birds Boosts Coffee Profit – up to $300 per hectare by controlling pests; it also preserves large carbon storage systems.

OO Brazil’s Satellite Data Show Increase In Amazon Deforestation Over Past Year

OO Global Warming May ‘Flatten’ Rainforests – pushing canopy plants and animals out of tree tops as conditions get warmer and drier.

OO Japanese Firms Buying Illegal Timber From Malaysia’s Endangered Rainforests

OO Britain: Landslides Up Fivefold In A Year; Heavy Rainfall Blamed


2013 Historic flooding along russo-china border is shown right, and in a natural unflooded state at the same time last year (circled area), left. Credit NASA

OO Historic Flooding On The Chinese-Russian Border Seen From Space

OO Climate Change Is a Real Problem in Australia. So Why Did They Elect a Leader Who Might Not Believe In It?


Right image via Climate Progress

OO These Gigantic Companies Have The World’s Worst Carbon Emissions

OO UK Urged To Invest £50bn In Greener Economic Recovery

OO How Climate Change Threatens A Double Blow To The Caribbean’s Drinking Water


Ten Global Warming Indicators. Credit NOAA

(((((((( Seeking the Science ))))))))


OO Arctic Death Spiral: Decline In Arctic Sea Ice Volume Continues

OO Atlantic’s First 2013 Hurricane Late Because of Sahara Sand – African sand wafting across the Atlantic prevents the formation of large storms that evolve into hurricanes. 2013 has already seen several tropical storms.


Hurricane Alberto is the first of the 2013 Atlantic season (left, Credit NOAA), a late start partly due to Sahara sand wafting off Africa (light yellow area, right, Credit: WeatherBELL Analytics) which dampens storm formation with heavy dry air.

OO Parts Of Europe Heating Faster Than Global Average

OO Unprecedented Rate And Scale Of Ocean Acidification Found In Arctic

OO Climate Change: Trees Are Speeding Up Their Life Cycles, But Migrating Little

OO Bunnies Being Eaten as Winter White Coats Last Into Warming-Driven Spring – white coats stand out against the browns of early spring, making it difficult for hares to hide from predators.

OO Skyscraper-Sized Waves Recorded Beneath The Ocean – they play a crucial role in long-term climate cycles, transporting heat, carbon, and nutrients around the world.

OO Channels of Meltwater Detected in Antarctic Glacier – hastening its melt.

OO Summer 2013 Weather Extremes Tied To Extraordinarily Unusual Polar Jet Stream – ie, the latest inexplicable aberrations of the Arctic jetstream that, scientists increasingly say, is connected to the Arctic warming and melting.

OO Bear-Human Encounters Are Expected To Rise Thanks To Climate Change

@@@ Climate Change in the Media @@@



Via Climate Nexus

OO @@ WEEKLY CLIMATE CHANGE VIDEO SERIES!! @@ Entitled “In Case You Missed It” via the good folks at Climate Nexus on Vimeo – select headlines delivered in less than 90 seconds with good graphics. Cool watching — spread the word!!

@@ At Last, a Green Radio Show to counter the Lush Bimbaugh wasteland. Check out On the Green Front with Betsy Rosenberg at Progressive Radio Network to keep updated on climate change, and other green topics.

@@ Video of the Week: “The Time Is Now To Act On Climate” – NY Senator Paul Tonko excerpts here.

@@ Oregon’s Massive Wildfires, As Seen Through Google Glass

@@ Alaska: Acidifying Oceans Threatens Alaskan Crabs – big commercial crabs are already being exposed to acid conditions lethal to their larvae, threatening a big industry.


Delectable Alaskan crabs are at risk. Credit Frank Mayne at wikimedia

@@ Video: America’s Dangerous Pipelines – the title says it all; compelling ….

To help you understand just what science does and does NOT do, check this out!

Every day is Earth Day, folks, as I was reminded by these golden chanterelles I picked in Canada recently. (And, yes, they were delicious!) Making the U.S. a global clean energy leader will ensure a heck of a lot more jobs, and a clean, safe future. If you’d like to join the increasing numbers of people who want to TELL Congress that they will vote for clean energy candidates you can do so here. It’s our way of letting Congress know there’s a strong clean energy voting bloc out there. For more detailed summaries of the above and other climate change items, audio podcasts and texts are freely available.


Good News – The Huffington Post
Colorado Football Team Feeds Flood Victims And Rescue Workers After Game Is Postponed
The University of Colorado football team may be expected to struggle this season, but the players are winners in the eyes of flood victims.

After their game against Fresno State was canceled last weekend, the Buffaloes showed up at their campus stadium in Boulder Saturday to feed first responders and families that had been evacuated. On the menu were the hamburgers, hot dogs and brats that had already been delivered for the game.

colorado football

Credit: Colorado Sports Information

In fact, the meal service was a team effort by nearly the entire athletics program, school spokesman David Plati told The Huffington Post. The soccer, lacrosse and volleyball teams also pitched in, while the men’s and women’s basketball teams transported food and did cleanup at the campus community center.

Between 10 and 12 football players were displaced by the floods, Plati said. One of them, kicker Will Oliver, was on the serving line with the rest of his teammates.

A lot of these people have lost their homes,” Oliver told the Daily Camera. “Their homes are flooded and they have no idea what they’re going to do. It’s nice to be able to give back and make sure everyone is OK.”

At least seven are dead, and more than 650 are unaccounted for in the wake of torrential rains.

(Story continues below)

chip the mascot

Credit: Colorado Sports Information

Many of the 800 served at Folsom Field’s suite level were from married housing, so Chip, the school’s costumed Buffalo mascot, entertained the couples’ children while the grown-ups watched games on TV, according to the spokesman.

The idea to feed those in need was hatched by Centerplate, the school’s concessionaire, and the school’s marketing department, Plati said. Eighty percent of the game-day food had already been prepared, meaning it would have gone to waste within 24 to 48 hours.

For Colorado football coach Mike MacIntyre and his players, helping was an easy call. “This truly teaches life lessons,” he told the Daily Camera. “There are a lot more important things than football.”


Credit: Colorado Sports Information

Mixing Containers
My wife used to tell me not to “mix containers.” While this might have been a problem with her usually flawless (but occasionally funny) Spanish to English translation, it worked for me. What she meant was to differentiate thoughts from feelings but also feelings from feelings, that it’s useful to enumerate the reasons for a reaction. To lump everything together as some bastard amalgam of “fear” or “anxiety” is to be sloppy about your self-analysis.

So as a youth counselor with an interest in grief, trauma and loss, why would I feel reticence at spending a weekend working Camp Erin — a gathering for youth who have recently lost someone? Driving the gray, cloud-scudded route from Seattle early Friday morning, I had a chance to break it down: a) it was one of the last weekends of summer, b), I miss my son after five minutes apart, c), grief, trauma and loss pull my own triggers, d), I would be in a cabin with four twelve-year-old boys for three days (without a beer in shouting distance).


I sat down with dozens of yellow-shirted counselors. The sun broke while we shoveled down lunch and listened to protocol run-downs. I was partnered with a young, empathic, goofy ex-military and ex-cop co-counselor. This was especially important when we met the boys of Cabin 5:

Sugar was poorly groomed, moderately autistic and had lost his older sister to a drowning last year. Another, Hungry, was a six foot tall hyperactive African immigrant with boundary issues who had watched his 29-year-old mother die of an aneurysm. Third was a sly, sweet olive-skinned kid, Slam, whose loving, active 40-something father dropped from a heart attack at the top of a rock climb. Fourth, Scout, was a tow-headed, blue eyed, reedy athlete with a perfect smile and manners and ready kindness. His father’s blood had become infected–so far as I could gather. All four had younger brothers or sisters at camp.

Over the weekend we dealt with the quotidian deluge of fart jokes (and deluge of real farts), raging hormones, furtive boob-poking of female counselors by Sugar, virtually no sleep, large spiders, and an unceasing stream of verbal and physical inappropriateness from Hungry, who had Slam and Scout hopelessly stuck in his wild orbit. But we also planned skits, climbed foothills, completed treasure hunts, navigated Lake Langlois in individual kayaks with terrifying incertitude and ate ungodly amounts of terrible, sweet carbs.

The last night, in a lakeside amphitheater, the cabins rolled out hilarious skits with an impressive lack of princess-related material by the girls and fecal-related material by the boys. Then a soulful guitarist changed the energy with help from a swelling campfire. By full dark we gathered on the shore to dispatch “luminary rafts” that the youth made as farewells to their loved one. The fire and soft guitar licked the air. Our boys were rendered silent. The first child launched her raft into the reflecting pool and sobs broke out somewhere down the beach. I watched Scout’s bony shoulders start to shake in front of me. He allowed me to place my hand on one of them.

It would be easy to say that I connected especially deeply with Scout because he was empathic and polite, or because he lost his father as I lost mine. But when you add the fact that his brother is four years younger, as is mine, the heft of his grief on my chest adds up. I had felt the pressure of tears many times but I reminded myself that I was there to hold the space for them. But by the time we launched Scout’s raft and walked a slow round of the reflecting pool, there was no more hope of stopping my tears. I shared with Scout something that has fortified me at moments when I felt like grief would crush my lungs: that all the pain is just ours; that it’s the price we pay for our loved ones’ journey out of this world; they don’t feel one iota of it anymore. Scout nodded and nodded and wept and wept. It was then that we came across his little brother, lost as any eight year old would be in the ceremony of release. He shyly let his gaze glance of his big brother’s face. I put fire to theoretical concerns about boundaries induced by a year’s internship in a community mental health agency — I took little brother’s arm and instructed him to go embrace Scout. He did it, and Scout returned it — an awkward, unpracticed, stiff hug.


I planned to come home purely grateful, purely loving. I failed — I bickered with my wife and hustled clumsily through logistics of unpacking and dinner (though I did hold onto my little boy for as long as he would let me squeeze him to my chest). Later, I started talking about the lake light ceremony. I told her how when I saw the little brother wander near, lost, squinting at the impossible size of hurt, when I watched two boys, four years separated, that resembled my brother and I more than a little and I imagined what would have become of us had dad died when were that young, I had no chance of not mixing containers — and I gave up, for a couple of moments on Lake Langlois.

I’m tempted to wrap up by making an attempt at clinical metaphor, about how mixing containers is only responsible when you’ve figured out the ratios and know what kind of concoction you’re trying to craft. Instead I’ll just say that throughout the hours that remained, Scout laughed louder. His eyes were brighter. He watched me sometimes when he thought I wasn’t looking, as if trying to figure something out.

He will.

Amazing Photos Of ‘Roll Cloud’ In The Northern Virginia Sky
There are times that it would be great to stare up at the sky — or, alternatively, onto the screen — and see something wonderful.

Monday morning, Northern Virginians were treated to a “roll cloud” — a rare and spectacular type of tubular horizontal cloud.

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Here’s Wired’s explanation for how these clouds are formed:

Roll clouds typically occur in the lower atmosphere ahead of a storm front. Warm updrafts in the storm front push cold air up, which then flows down along the sides of the updraft. The cold downdraft then bounces back up a bit setting up a wave-like structure in front of the storm.

On the upswing, the cold air forms a cloud. Evaporation of the cloud causes a downdraft on the edges that erodes the cloud, forming a roll. If the wave continues, a series of roll clouds, called a street, can form.

Per the National Weather Service, a roll cloud can be “associated with a thunderstorm gust front (or sometimes with a cold front)” but is detached from the storm’s base. NASA assures that roll clouds aren’t thought to be able to turn into tornadoes.

And here’s what the sky looked like:

@capitalweather great view from @NWS_SFSC today..followed it from Aldie on the way in pic.twitter.com/10QLrtF3Co

— NWS SFSC (@NWS_SFSC) September 16, 2013

A #rollcloud rolled over Alexandria VA this morning… pic by @nbcwashington viewer Hector Collazo: http://t.co/840xWH6weu

— Tom Kierein (@TomKierein) September 16, 2013

Awesome roll cloud image. RT @capitalweather: One more MT @ma11br00ks: pic.twitter.com/rjlooh3GqT

— Eric Berger (@chronsciguy) September 16, 2013

Is this a roll cloud or something else? As seen over Chantilly…. @capitalweather pic.twitter.com/VXV53ZFNWj

— unbiased (@imunbiased) September 16, 2013

Need a longer mental break? Check out more amazing roll cloud photos at the Washington Post.

ScienceDaily: Dieting and Weight Control News
A good night’s sleep increases the cardiovascular benefits of a healthy lifestyle
A good night’s sleep can increase the benefit of exercise, healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption and non-smoking in their protection against cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to results of a large population follow-up study.

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Why Is America Not Really Happy?
America is a country home to some of the richest and most successful people in the world. A country that leads the world in trends, that gave birth to Google, and that introduced the world to Facebook. Go to any city in the world and you’ll probably hear an American pop star on the radio. Start a conversation with someone anywhere outside of America and they will most likely bring up the name of an American movie star or athlete during a conversation.

Why is a country that has so much success and leads the world in trends not the happiest country in the world? According to the World Happiness Report, America ranks 17 out of 156 countries in the area of happiness.

Why is happiest not a trend in America?

I live in a country where the accumulation of personal wealth is more important than personal happiness and the happiness of others. Turn on the television or look in a magazine and you see all types of examples of financial success, from baseball players getting a several-hundred-million-dollar contract, to an American billionaire on the cover of Forbes magazine. People care more about their own personal material gains than they do about the happiness of others. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working hard or making money; I would just like to see more people focusing on happiness.

For thousands of years human beings communicated with each other. They didn’t spend their entire life accumulating material objects. They didn’t spend their entire life staring at a smart phone. They didn’t spend their entire life trying to get a nicer car than their neighbor. They didn’t look at magazine covers and try to emulate an unattainable body style by working out thousands of hours and radically changing their eating habits.

Happiness starts with not working so many hours a week that you don’t make it home to spend time with your spouse and children. Happiness starts with mindfully paying attention to the person you are speaking with and not focusing on your smartphone. Happiness starts with letting the person on the freeway merge in during bumper to bumper traffic. Happiness starts with turning off your laptop when you’re speaking with your child. Happiness starts with realizing that you are perfect the way you are.

Happiness is about saying something nice to a stranger, or helping them out.

When we are growing up we’re told not to talk to strangers. I think we would live in a happier place if we talked to strangers. A person doesn’t have to be Mother Theresa, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr. to help a stranger. If you see someone in the parking lot of a convenient store struggling to lift a box in their car, say, “Can I help you with that?”

Let me give you advice on this: “Throw your first thought away.” Most people’s first thought is I’m too busy, I’ll be late, they don’t need my help, etc. This is what mindfulness is about; it helps you to recognize the selfish thoughts that you have that may prevent you from helping another person. By becoming more mindful of your thoughts you can positively influence people around you.

There are people that you encounter that can do absolutely nothing for you! You should talk to them anyway! Because they might be having a terrible day and you might cheer them up. If you cheer them up, they’ll go home to their spouse or children and will be in a happy mood. It’s a domino effect.

You have the capability of massively influencing someone’s life just by speaking with them. Happiness is about having a strong emotional bond with other people around you. It’s about really carrying for the well-being of another human being.

I went from pre-school all the way through to college in America, and I never took a course in “happiness” or how to cultivate positive emotions. I think learning how to be happy is more valuable than learning how to memorize a bunch of facts about the Fertile Crescent that you’ll forget about anyways. I think learning how to understand emotions are the most valuable thing a student can learn in school. There are programs like Goldie Hawn’s MindUP and CSAEL that are bringing programs into the education system and focus on social and emotional skills.

I think if America adopted the belief system that “Today I’m going to make another person happy,” it would cause a ripple affect to every place in the world. A psychologist names James H. Fowler looked at data of 5,000 people in the period of over 20 years. He found that happiness influences people through three degrees, meaning friend of friends of friends. This influence also lasted an entire year.

Happiness is contagious, and it’s capable of spreading like wildfire. I think happiness in America is possible for everyone. America is one of the most resilient countries in the world and is very open to radical change. Radical change starts with simply being mindful of the day-to-day interactions we have with each other.

For more by Robert Piper, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.

It Might Have Appeared to Go Unnoticed
I’m not Jewish, but my soul sure could benefit from an honest appraisal of myself and how I can do better in the coming year. If I were sitting in services this evening at temple, what mistakes would I be acknowledging?

Now, in terms of character flaws, I’ve committed some serious infractions. Most of them took place during my “eating years” when, numbed out from overeating and on the lam from reality, I tended not to care whose feelings I’d shred to ribbons if my mood happened to be a foul one… and often it was.

To rid myself of such awful tenendencies took time, discipline and a willingness to mature emotionally. And I’m not saying I don’t have my cranky and irate moments, but nowadays, I choose to temper my reactions and refrain from lashing out at others. In essence, I’ve given up the lower-nature practice of hurting people just because I can.

Like my spiritual role model Shirley MacLaine, I’ve spent most of my adult years smoothing out all the personal shortcomings I can find (except the ones I don’t notice).

For the most part, my life and relationships are a pretty smooth road. But what still remains in terms of remorse? As I dug a little deeper into my psyche, I realized there’s an unhealthy habit I still cling to which oh-so-subtly harms me and those I care for. And in a year’s time I’d love to be rid of it for good: I don’t tell people how I feel. And by that I mean the good stuff.

I look back on some of the relationships that mattered most to me, whether it was my parents, a favorite babysitter or teacher, my Aunt Mary, a college friend or an editor who made my writing better and feel the sting of omission.

I’m not saying a gushy stream of “I love you’s” is everyone’s style. It isn’t mine either, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have expressed feelings along the lines of affection, gratitude and admiration that were silent but swirling below the surface like an underground geyser.

I wish I knew why vocalizing positive sentiments feels so awkward to me. I’ve gotten better at it, but difficulty still plagues me. If I were even occasionally more open with the people closest to me, there is a very high probability that they would be stunned at the verbal bouquet of glowing adjectives about them that flowed from my mouth.

If I’m being honest with myself, the reality is, I’m simply not comfortable with it… and by “it” I mean aligning my head with my heart, which always seems to be brimming with an open-armed kind of love and doesn’t know the meaning of being critical.

Instead, I tell myself it’s a safer option to hide the colorful, love-giving and velvet-tender part of me… God forbid I should look foolish. But I’m nearing my fifth decade and what good has it done shield something so potentially beneficial behind an armor of indifference? Or the armor of, “I’ll tell her how I feel in next year’s Mother’s Day card?”

Next year’s never a guarantee anyway.

My father and I always had a somewhat rocky, Ralph and Alice dynamic in our 40-plus years as a father-daughter unit. We tended to communicate in a way that sounded a lot like bickering. And for the most part it was good-natured bickering, but still, but the tone established between us became both a habit and a convenient covering to some of my deeper rooted feelings for him, specifically, that I silently adored him.

There’s no truth serum like the shadow of death, and when my beloved Aunt Mary was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given six months to live, you can bet I spent as many hours as I could at her side, and told her in no uncertain terms what she meant to me. And last September, as my Father’s decade-long ordeal with Alzheimer’s was coming to a close, I knew it had arrived: a minutes-long window of opportunity to take a wheel-spinning, Thelma and Louise-style risk or let the moment fizzle and pass into eternity.

Heaving out a sob, I decided to let the armor drop, relieved as it finally clattered to the ground. Then I gripped his hand and kissed his left temple. “I haven’t wanted to admit this,” I whispered. “But I’m going to miss you.”

It was a simple statement of truth, predicated upon my state of extreme vulnerability and obscuring it with my mighty shield just wasn’t an option.

The producers of Thelma and Louise never did reveal the final fate of the movie’s heroines as they triumphantly drove their getaway convertible off a cliff. The frame froze and they hovered magically in midair. I’d like to think the two trailblazers had a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang style of an ending, soaring off towards the clouds instead of plunking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Because that’s exactly how I felt in those final moment with my father. And actually, it’s how I feel every single time I’m real with someone.

So I’m pledging allegiance to my feelings of admiration, respect and love this Yom Kippur, asking forgiveness for all the times I let the moment of truth die and promising to do better this year… especially to those who matter most to me.

For more by Stacey Morris, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

#alkalinity #alkalinitymovement #7.2 #sevenpointtwo


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