In this installment, David Wood tells the story of Navy Petty Officer Joshua Lipstein, an Iraq war veteran whose struggle with drugs and depression ended when he took his own life at 23.
When Joshua was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2009, he was prescribed a dizzying array of painkillers from Valium to Percocet, and eventually became addicted. That addiction, which carried on for five months while he was on active duty, only deepened the depression he was already experiencing. One day, he put a pistol to his temple and pulled the trigger.
Joshua’s death and the circumstances surrounding it still haunt his family and friends, who wonder if the story might have ended differently. “I don’t understand why they weren’t drug testing him more frequently,” Elliott Miranda — Joshua’s best friend and battle buddy in Iraq — said of the Navy. In an extensive review of Joshua’s medical records and Navy investigation reports — in addition to interviews with those who knew him best — David pieces together the story of one young man’s life unraveling, and of the many missed opportunities to help him along the way.
Elsewhere in the issue, Ben Hallman peers into a corner of the foreclosure market that is rarely given attention — the millions of renters who are the victims of the wars between their landlords and banks. According to one academic study, tenants make up 40 percent of all American evictions in foreclosed properties.
Ben centers his story around one such family in Anaheim, California. After being evicted by Bank of America from their condominium — not far from the tourist fantasy of Disneyland — Renee Genel, her boyfriend, her two children, and her toddler niece begin moving from cheap hotel to cheap hotel.
As part of our ongoing focus on The Third Metric, we also show you ways to make your workday healthier and less stressful.
And finally, Wharton School professor Adam Grant breaks down the varying personality types that populate the world of social media — from the impressers, who aim to “disclose information that is flattering,” to the expressers, who see social media as “an opportunity to be seen accurately by others.”
This story appears in Issue 67 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available Friday, Sept. 20 in the iTunes App store.
As you wrap up another workday, the last thing you may be inclined to do is sit there and think about what happened. But if you want a more relaxing, stress-free evening, reflecting on the good stuff will go a long way.
Findings from a study published in the Academy of Management Journal suggest that taking just a few minutes to reflect positively on the events of the day led to decreased stress — and a healthier, more relaxed evening. Melissa Korn notes in the Wall Street Journal:
It’s no surprise that positive thinking can ease tension. But it might prove more practical than employers’ current approaches for fighting workplace stress, such as offering flexible work arrangements or creating a new org chart that doesn’t actually change daily life at the office, says Theresa Glomb, a work and organizations professor at University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and co-author of the report.
The experts at meQuilibrium teach that attempting to minimize or shrink stress isn’t enough. You get stronger by flexing your attention muscle — and controlling where it goes. And while the idea isn’t to repress or ignore the bad stuff, it’s well worth taking the time to acknowledge the good.
Here’s three ways to put this into practice before you head home.
1. Don’t let one bad event rule the day. Every day has them: an awkward or uncomfortable moment with a coworker, a dressing down by the boss, a slip-up. It happens. But if you let that one moment define the day, you’re doing what we call “magnifying” — or exaggerating aspects of a situation and underestimating others. Recognize the discomfort — and identify what good may come out of it. For every one less-than-stellar moment, think of two other good things that happened. And they don’t have to be career changing. Having a great lunch with a friend counts. (Read more about how thinking traps trip you up.)
2. Ask yourself why. Glomb told Korn that while listing good things is key, “the real impact comes from writing down why those things led to good feelings. That act highlights the resources and support a person has in their work life — such as skills, a good sense of humor, an encouraging family or a compassionate boss.” If you felt positive about a meeting you had with a colleague, why? Was it because the exchange felt energized and promising, or was just a lot less painful than you expected? Maybe you felt productive, appreciated. Identify the why and you extend the benefits of the reflection.
3. Make it a habit. Okay, you did it! Now the key is to do this tomorrow. And the next day. Decide what you can do to make this ritual simple, quick, and meaningful. What tools appeal to you? Perhaps you love jotting things down in your Moleskine notebook (I do love the feel of a roller pen across those smooth pages).
If you’re digitally inclined, there are loads of productivity apps out there. But one I have personally used for years is iDoneThis — it’s the inverse of a to-do list. Your to-DONE list is where you put in what you got done today. The web interface is refreshingly simple and plain. It shoots you an email at whatever time of day you like, and asks you to take five minutes to jot down what you got done. Reply to the email and it populates the cloud-based calendar on your computer or handheld app. Or you can input in the app directly. (You can also use this tool to track team accomplishments.) Don’t forget to add the “why” or a line or two about why this matters, to get the full benefit of the day’s reflection.
Building balanced awareness of your day also matters. And that’s why another thing worth doing is noting where your emotions and mood take you off the rails (which undoubtedly results in the less-than-stellar moments). Check out meQ’s own app, which is designed to let you track your moods and emotions throughout the day. When you’re aware of where things go awry, you’ll be more capable of addressing them — and feeling better about it.
Jan Bruce is CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium, http://www.mequilibrium.com, the new digital coaching system for stress, which helps both individuals and corporations achieve measurable results in stress management and wellness.
For more by meQuilibrium, click here.
For more on stress, click here.
But how much does scent really affect the quality of your slumber?
According to the snoozers surveyed in the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) recent International Bedroom Poll, quite a bit. The poll, which was funded by Febreze, tapped into sleep habits of residents of the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. Just one of a number of interesting findings: A majority of the respondents in every country except Japan said that they feel more relaxed in bed if the bedroom smells nice.
“Studies have shown that scent plays a powerful role in relaxation and memory-building,” David Cloud, CEO of the NSF, said in a statement. “Having a pleasant scent and a relaxing bedroom routine can contribute to a good night’s sleep.”
The specific scents in question were lavender and jasmine. Lavender seems to help boost deep sleep, according to a small 2005 study, and even has some benefits for people with insomnia, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In a German study, smelling jasmine was found to be as effective as taking an anti-anxiety medication in relieving nerves and aiding sleep.
That may be welcome news to the respondents who said certain unpleasant scents detract from their shut-eye.
Those who agreed with the statement above were asked if mold, body odor, pet odor, stale air, cooking odor and antiseptic disrupted their sleep. Mexico and U.S. residents ranked mold as the worst offender, while Canada pointed to body odor and Germany, Japan and U.K. residents were bothered most by stale air, according to the findings.
As fall approaches, many of us may find ourselves struggling to stay motivated to exercise as the weather gets colder. Luckily, it’s a great time for fresh starts and new goals to get healthy; whether you’re a seasoned gym veteran or just beginning your fitness journey, a little extra motivation can be just what you need to kick-start the fall season.
With that in mind, I’ve put together 10 of my favorite exercise motivation quotes from a wide variety of athletes, authors, and philosophers to help you start out fall on the right track.
Find Inner Strength
1. “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
— Arnold Schwarzenegger
2. “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”
3. “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”
4. “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
There Are No Limits
5. “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus; and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
6. “Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”
7. “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
Never Give Up
8. “Energy & persistence conquer all things.”
9. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
10. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
That last one is my personal favorite. I know it’s sometimes difficult to make changes in our lives, especially with busy work and family schedules, but I truly hope you can find some inspiration here to make your health a priority this fall. Yes, going to the gym as it gets colder is not as easy as sleeping in your nice, warm bed, but you’ll be glad you did.
We spend so much time and energy focused on professional and financial pursuits that we tend to overlook the importance of exercise and our own physical well-being.
So I’d like to leave you with one last thought from motivational speaker Jim Rohn that summarizes the main idea here pretty well: “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
That’s why, when President Obama unveiled his Climate Action Plan earlier this year, he talked about the health of our children when laying out his strategy to take responsible steps to cut carbon pollution.
As part of that plan, the president directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.” That directive rests on legal authority our agency was granted by Congress through passing the Clean Air Act back in 1970. In 2007, the Supreme Court underscored that authority when it definitively determined that carbon pollution is covered by the Clean Air Act.
Among scientists, there is near universal agreement that climate change is happening, it’s human caused, and it’s a threat to our health and welfare.
The 12 hottest years on record have come in the last 15. Last year was the warmest year ever in the contiguous United States; sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record and about one-third of all Americans experienced 10 days or more of 100-degree heat.
We know that carbon pollution is the most prevalent heat-trapping greenhouse gas, warming our planet and fueling climate change. In 2011, power plants and major industrial facilities in the United States emitted over 3 billion metric tons of carbon pollution, which is equal to annual pollution from over 640 million cars. Annually in the U.S., carbon pollution from power plants accounts for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, or 40 percent of total carbon pollution, surpassing industrial sources or the transportation sector. That means power plants emit more carbon pollution than every boat, plane, train, and car in the U.S. combined.
With these facts in mind, and given our legal obligation to the American people, EPA is releasing a proposal to limit carbon pollution from future power plants.
Today’s proposal applies only to future power plants, and sets separate national limits for natural gas-fired power plants and coal-fired power plants.
New large natural gas-fired turbines would need to emit less than 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to emit less than 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
New coal-fired units would need to emit less than 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour or, to provide plants the flexibility and time to optimize technologies, between 1,000 and 1,050 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour on average over 84 months of operation.
These levels are achievable by using partial carbon capture and sequestration, a proven technology that is being used right now to support the development of both new conventional and new unconventional coal plants.
These proposed standards would minimize carbon pollution by taking advantage of modern, cleaner energy technologies that power companies are already using to build the next generation of power plants. This is exactly what the Clean Air Act requires.
Without these steps we will continue to pay an ever-increasing price for climate impacts. In 2012 alone, the cost of weather disasters exceeded $110 billion in the United States, the second costliest year on record.
Beyond the costs of property destruction and disaster relief, there are significant public health risks and costs from climate change. Warmer temperatures spurred by carbon pollution worsen smog and pollen levels. This can lead to more asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. The nation’s asthma rates have already doubled over the past 30 years. In addition to safeguarding public health, these standards are cost effective. Since 1970, every $1 invested to comply with Clean Air Act standards has returned $4-8 in economic benefits. We estimate that by 2020, benefits from the Clean Air Act will outweigh the costs by a ratio of 30 to 1. These standards were developed the same way, based on proven technologies and common sense approaches.
The future power plant carbon pollution standards announced today begin to address the problem, and have benefited from incorporating inputs and views from over 2.5 million public comments, including those from industry leaders and trade groups. We’ve also carefully considered recent trends in the power sector. This proposal represents an update to the old proposal from last year.
EPA is also launching today the process to develop guidelines for existing power plants, building on progress state and local leaders have already made. More than 35 states have renewable energy targets, more than 25 have set energy efficiency targets, and over 1,000 mayors have signed agreements to cut carbon pollution. EPA is working in close consultation with states to ensure that any proposal for existing power plants allows flexibility to account for differences among states.
Throughout the development of both of these plans, we have kept an eye toward economic impact. The argument that we must choose between economic growth and environmental protection is a false one. Where climate change is concerned, the path forward lies in a more efficient, resilient and innovative domestic economy.
The good news is — action on climate change presents a distinct opportunity. And we have seen it work. EPA recently worked with the auto industry to develop historic fuel economy standards that are saving families money and driving down carbon pollution. Today, the auto industry is thriving, and American consumers save about $8 thousand at the pump over the life of their vehicle. We can’t solve climate change overnight — but we can get closer to a solution. As the president said — we must ask ourselves: Do “we have the courage to act before it’s too late? How we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind,” for generations to come.
Now marks the time for scenic walks and drives through urban parks or rural towns for a peaceful experience in nature. From spectacular fall foliage to lively fall festivals, these 10 cities across Asia, Europe and North America are the most vibrant from September to November.
For instance, fall leaf lovers can enjoy dramatic landscapes blanketed in warm colours like deep crimson, golden yellow, olive green and burnt orange, as the sun sets in the horizon.
Then there’s Autumn’s abundance of festivals with their dazzling lights and illuminated cities that transform dull urban lands into energetic public spaces.
Food and wine festivals celebrate the traditional harvest season. Live music, street parties and vivid costumes bring together revellers from around the world.
So take advantage of shoulder-season deals, cooler weather and less crowds without sacrificing a rich, colourful experience with these 10 colourful destinations.
10 Of Fall’s Most Colourful Cities
Today I woke up to this on Facebook and I have to admit, I’m struggling trying to shake it off. By the time you read it, it’s likely that all 28 of these pretty kitties will have been put to sleep.
In a brilliant move that shows a keen understanding of the core principles of both Catholic and Jewish guilt, a New York City shelter posted photos of every cat it intended to euthanize that day. It worked on me (see my FB share and comment) and I am hoping it worked on others — specifically 28 others in the greater Manhattan area.
I have two rescue dogs at home, and both the two before them and the two before those were also from shelters or rescue groups. I have never bought a dog from a breeder or pet shop. My husband says he knows when I’m scratching the rescue itch because I start checking Petfinder.com on my iPad every night. I call him over to look at the sweet faces and tell him the stories behind why they all look so sad now.
Frankly, people who abandon their pets sicken me. In some ways, they are worse than people who abandon kids because if you abandon your kid, we arrest you and if you abandon your 12 year old dog, we bite our tongues and let you believe you are still a nice person. You are not. Sometimes, dog rescuers tell me, people turning in their pets think it’s an act of generosity when they donate the unused open bag of dog food too. Let me just say, I don’t think you are a nice person — not even when you throw in the dog food as part of the deal to ease your conscience.
Rescuers tell me that the people who they really can’t stand are the ones who move away and just leave the dog tied up in the yard with no food or water, or trapped in the abandoned house. Despite words of Facebook wisdom, I’m just not prepared to forgive them because of the struggles they have that I don’t know about. I hate them, am totally comfortable hating them, and think they should be charged with attempted murder because that’s what they are doing to animals who were loyal and loved them.
I know the recession forced many people from their homes. I know they moved to many places that wouldn’t let them bring their pets. To those landlords who won’t rent to people with pets, I say: May karma catch up with you one day and rip out your heart and feed it to hungry jungle animals. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I’ve got photos of 28 cats stuck in my head.
And while I’m on a tirade here, let me address those of you who can only bring home puppies from breeders. On the way home, please keep this thought in your head: You just killed a shelter dog, possibly one of the same breed you just spent $1,500 on. And if you think shelter dogs all have “issues,” let’s talk after the little puppy chews up your shoes, pees on the rug and keeps pulling on the leash even though you do everything exactly the way the trainer says. Shelters are filled with dogs that people like you couldn’t train.
Shelters are filled with dogs, period. The Humane Society of the U.S. estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom approximately 3-4 million are euthanized. I live in Los Angeles and I actually thought those were the numbers for my city’s shelters alone; it sure seems that way.
When it comes to adopting dogs from shelters, my favorite problem dog is the one people turn in (or refuse to bail out) who keeps getting out of their yard. We adopted two such dogs who were categorized as “escape artists” and everyone up and down the shelter/rescue food chain wanted to know how high our fence was. We don’t have a fence. What we have is a life that involves our dogs so fully that they don’t want to go anywhere; show me an escape artist and I’ll show you a bored dog left alone for hours. What we also have is a trainer who trains us as well as the dog. And we are vigilant — our kids are vigilant too — about not letting an untrained dog off leash, even in our backyard, until we know he won’t go anywhere. It takes a few months before we create Velcro dogs, but even the two escape artists went Velcro on us.
Every one of our rescues came with a few issues. We have had counter-surfers, barkers, fear-nippers, loud noise phobics, one dog with separation anxieties, and another who was food aggressive. We worked on all of them. Are my dogs perfect? They are perfect for us.
And now if I could just know the 28 kitties were saved…
Readers, please tell us about your rescue dog in the comments below.
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