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My day job used to be my dream job. I was a reporter for an acclaimed national newspaper in Washington, D.C., making a difference in people’s lives and touching readers all over the world. My day started at 4:30 a.m. and often ended 14 hours later. For most of that time, I didn’t budge from my seat. As news stories broke, I was in charge of getting first iterations up online as other reporters and sources called me with leads. To move was to miss something: a shooting, a bombing, an earthquake, an overturned truck spilling pineapples onto the Beltway, a baby-panda birth. I had to stay put....
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“Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” —Genesis 41:38 We can’t judge our potential by our circumstances. God may be shaping us to do something powerful in his service. For example, Joseph spent much of his young adulthood as a slave in Egypt after his jealous brothers sold him to some slave traders. If he had judged his potential by those circumstances, he would have been discouraged indeed....
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Getting a healthy dose of rest every day is vital to health and happiness. That's a big claim, because this is a big deal. And did you know that there are different types of rest? Most people get just one type of rest, or maybe two. But there is a third, absolutely necessary type of rest that we often discount. If you're feeling fatigued, worn out, or even exhausted despite getting enough sleep, it's likely you're missing out on this third type of rest.

Rest is more than just sleep! 

We all know about sleep. But there are two other types of wakeful rest that every person needs on a regular basis to feel well. These are active rest and passive rest, and because many people consider engaging in these types of rest to be self-indulgent, most of us aren't getting enough of them or any at all!

But taking care of yourself when it comes to rest doesn't mean you are selfish or lazy. It means that you understand your own rest needs—how much of each type of rest you need and how often—and have decided that meeting those needs is up there with diet, fitness, and other self-care practices as a top priority in your life.

Here are the three types of rest that we should all be making a priority in our lives:

 1. Sleep: providing what your body needs, with love

How much sleep do you actually need? And I'm not talking about how much you currently allow yourself, how much the doctor says you should get, or not how much you get on vacation when you're catching up from being sleep-deprived the rest of the year. The question is: How much sleep would you get if sleeping the right amount were your highest priority?

Right now, because my brain is still recovering from an injury and I live with chronic pain (which is very draining for the body), I need about 11 hours of sleep per night. Is that convenient? No, but it's even less convenient to be sick all the time or be so exhausted that I can't function. Lack of sleep can lead to the development of serious, long-term health problems and a low, unpredictable mood. So, make sleep a priority. If you struggle with insomnia, take a look at your sleep hygiene and start taking responsibility for sleeping better. If you've already tried that and it hasn't worked, keep upping the ante until you find something that does. So sleep. Do it with love—because you are worthy of getting enough sleep.

2. Passive rest: relaxation
The word relaxation comes with a whole lot of baggage, from "that's just being lazy" to "oh, I could never afford to spend time doing that." So, let's start to look at relaxation as a rest requirement in order to bypass whatever story your inner saboteur is telling you.

Passive rest is what you need when you've had a long, hard day at work. Passive rest is when you're quietly resting but still awake. It's different for everyone; it could be a few minutes of looking out the window or an hour of lying on your bed and staring at the ceiling. It could even be reading a great book, taking a bath, knitting, or snuggling with a loved one.

It's very easy to ignore this type of rest. Because when we're stressed, exhausted, or feeling down, our brains become committed to feeling better right away. It's urgent, so things that promise reward—like eating an entire cake or watching hours of TV—are the things that seem like they will help us feel better immediately. Unfortunately, they rarely do the job of nurturing our bodies and minds for the long run.

The need for passive rest is the need to unwind, process stress, give your mind a break, and allow your body to get into parasympathetic mode. This is when digestion happens, healing happens, and feelings of well-being increase. To actually meet this need, we must do things that help us feel comfortable and safe, enjoyable things that are easy, familiar, quiet, and nourishing. If you're not sure what your most satisfying passive rest would look like, ask yourself what would cause you to feel peaceful, at ease, and to let out a big sigh of contentment.

You can experiment with this all you want; don't feel that you're wasting time—the opposite it true! People who engage in relaxation are healthier, happier, and more productive. It's easy to try to rationalize skimping on passive rest. So, remember that it is a gift to yourself, and you are worth it.

3. Active rest: rejuvenation and fun

It's easy to overlook the need for fun when we are tired; the truth is that if we only engage in passive rest, we will start to feel drained and worn out. We all need to have fun to feel our best! And only you know what's fun to you.

Imagine that part of you—the part that experiences fun—is the happy little child version of you, pure and perfect and worthy in every way. Your job as the adult is to provide them with the fun, stimulating, enjoyable, and life-giving activities. So, whether that's swimming, taking a pottery class or going skydiving, you want to connect that little part of you with feelings of pure joy.

Active rest is rest because it's rejuvenating. And because without it, life will feel exhausting, even if you're doing everything else right. Sometimes rest is not enough. If you are getting each type of rest and you are still fatigued, it's possible that you have a chronic illness, vitamin deficiency, or food sensitivity. But before you go to the doctor, please honestly answer this question: Are you pushing yourself to do too much?

Sometimes we forget that life itself can take a lot out of us. If you are someone who says "All I do is work, exercise, take care of my home, have a partner, socialize, and cook. I shouldn't be tired!" pause and think about how long that list really is and give yourself a break. If you allowed yourself to truly listen to your body, would it be begging you to slow down and do less? Then you're pushing too much. You're pushing past your healthy limits. And that is why you're tired.

We all deserve to feel rested, refreshed, and ready for life. By listening to our body's needs for the three types of rest, we can create a much more energized, enjoyable life!

Kathryn Hogan - I am a Wellness Coach and Author. I share powerful tools and practices to help you live that big, satisfying life your heart knows you’re meant to be living. My book, Your Big Life: Ground Rules to Get Unstuck and Stop Sabotaging Yourself.

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It’s absolutely essential for your health to bring some form of relaxation response into your daily life. Volumes have been written about relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness, but here are some of my favorite ways to replenish and repair. ...
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“I have had enough, Lord,” [Elijah] said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” —1 Kings 19:4

The prophet Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of all time. But at one point in his long labor of resisting Israel’s evil queen, he got burned out. He told the Lord, “I quit.”

The lord knew what he needed. First, Elijah needed rest. The Lord gave him time to sleep, and then an angel woke him to offer some food, for he needed to eat, and water, for he needed to drink. Often the solution to burnout is as simple as that: rest, nourishment, and hydration.

Elijah needed more. He needed some alone time with God. He traveled forty days and nights to get there. He had to get far away from the place where he labored to a place where he could be still and at peace. And God met him there, in that alone place. They had a bluntly honest talk. God renewed Elijah’s soul. Then he honored God and went back to work filled up.

What do you need? Rest? Food? Water? Time with God? He is ready to meet you in whatever place you find yourself today.

The Daniel Plan 365 Day Devotional is a companion to the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Daniel Plan.  This 365-day devotional provides the heartfelt insight you need to take your health to the next level.  Feast on something bigger than a fad.  Motivational tips, Scripture passages, Food for Thought, and a special note from Rick Warren lead the way to transformation for the long haul. 

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Forget cutting calories and skipping meals. Try these tips to boost your energy levels. Do you start the day feeling fatigued? Or hit an afternoon energy slump that makes you want to take a nap under your desk? If so, your lack of get-up-and-go may have something to do with the way you are fueling (or failing to fuel) your body. If you’re cutting calories and skipping meals in an effort to control your weight – or depending on processed and fast foods, convenience-store snacks, caffeine, or candy to get you through your overly busy days – there’s a good chance you’re simply not giving your body the essential nutritional building blocks it needs to operate at peak capacity....
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It probably comes as no surprise, but as the health editor here at Mind Body Green, I learned a LOT about health this year. I also made a number of changes to my diet, medicine cabinet, and daily routine. When you're writing and reading about wellness all day—and listening to and learning from some of the world's top experts in integrative and functional medicine—you can't help but apply some of what you've learned to your actual life. ...
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The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” —Genesis 12:1...
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Joy is an emotion, and emotions are wordless. They're pure physical sensations in our bodies. We express the emotion of joy in many physical ways. For example, we jump for joy when we win a hard-fought competition, or we double over in uncontrollable laughter when someone relates a hilarious story. We squeal with delight after getting a surprise gift, and whoop and holler exuberantly when we hear fantastic news. We feel buoyant and jubilant on beautiful day.

When we feel joy, we feel great about ourselves. We feel confident, powerful, capable, lovable and fulfilled. These are all good reasons to experience more joy in our life.

Here are seven ways to do it.

1. Undertake a challenging activity with a commitment to mastering it.

Think of a project you've wanted to accomplish, whether it's creating a small flower garden in your yard, learning how to give your car a tuneup, or mastering the tango. The process of setting a goal, learning the necessary steps to achieve it, and giving it your best until you've mastered it will generate high self-esteem and pride. Those are feelings associated with joy.

2. Actively seek joy through inspiration.

Another way to get more joy into our lives is to find it through activities that stretch our perceptions and take us out of ordinary day-to-day life. Engaging meditation and prayer are two obvious ways to produce a feeling of well-being, serenity, and joy. Being alone in nature is another way to feel the joy of beauty — and oneness with a greater whole.

3. Engage in an activity that's pleasurable and feels like play.

Do an uplifting and enjoyable activity that's not goal-oriented, but just plain fun. A few examples include throwing a Frisbee with your dog, dancing, hiking, looking at beautiful art, enjoying a concert, or making love. Play and other activities that don't have a purpose other than helping us feel relaxed and happy keep our mind focused in the present. The present is where joy lives.

4. Deal with the sadness that blocks joy.

When we feel sad, joy it isn't possible to also feel bubbly and exhilarated. In a place that feels safe and private, constructively express your sadness by allowing yourself to cry. While crying, acknowledge your hurts and losses. Don't indulge any negative thoughts about yourself. Just keep telling yourself, "I'm fine. It's okay to cry. I just feel sad." You'll immediately feel washed clean — even joyful.

5. Honor yourself consciously and frequently.

Joy doesn't come from others; it comes from within. Interrupt negative thoughts about yourself and replace them with statements that honor yourself, such as, "I'm fine the way I am. I'm whole and complete. I did my best. I can do this. I love myself. What I'm seeking is within me." Also, focus on the good and what you did well. Write down self-appreciations so you can read and say them frequently. The more you reinforce these concepts, the more they'll become reality.

6. Give yourself a break from the day-to-day world.

Nurture yourself. Set up a time, just for you, when you can disconnect from daily responsibilities and get away from the noise, stimulation, and demands of your world. Joy comes easily when we focus on our own needs in a caring and loving way. Get a massage. Close the door, put your feet up, and watch the world outside your window. Take a nap. These kinds of activities replenish us and give our body and soul a chance to feel pure joy. Remind yourself: My job is to take care of myself.

7. Say the word often and contemplate its meaning.

Repeating and contemplating the word joy can create that emotion. Say it over and over, varying the speed, tone, and tempo until you laugh. Notice how your body feels when you say the word. Did your chest expand? Did your face relax? Think about what joy means to you. Be as specific as possible, imagining the feeling of joy, the images it conjures up, perhaps even the people and situations who trigger joy. Sign off your emails with the word joy. Paint the word on a smooth rock and keep it on your desk. More joy will rise up if you simply invite it to do so.

Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, is a respected psychotherapist, professional educator, and workshop leader. Her award-winning book is Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life.  

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With the Powerball lottery jackpot reaching insane heights, many people are dreaming about how all that money will make them happy. Yet, as the saying goes, money doesn’t buy happiness, and according to recent findings from a 75-year (and counting) happiness study, this idiom appears to be 100 percent true.
In fact, according to psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest Robert Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development (aka the Harvard Happiness Study), “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier, period.”

This, of course, is in contrast to what most of us believe. Waldinger, citing a study in which 80 percent of Millennials said a major life goal was to get rich and 50 percent said another major goal was to become famous, said, “We’re constantly told to lean into work, to push harder and achieve more. We’re given the impression that these are the things that we need to go after in order to have a good life.”

But according to the Harvard Happiness Study — and what we’ve learned from the world’s longest-living cultures — those aren’t the things that make us happy. It’s those healthy, sustained relationships that make us truly fulfilled.

Relationships and Happiness
Three big lessons on relationships have been unveiled through the Harvard Happiness Study, which Waldinger shared in his TED Talk.

1. Social Connections Matter
Researchers have found that people who have more social connections to family, friends and community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than people with fewer social connections. This is a tenet of people from the blue zones, where some of the healthiest, longest-living people on the planet live.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of Athens School of Medicine, people living in the blue zones have reported that,… some lifestyle characteristics, like family coherence, avoidance of smoking, plant-based diet, moderate and daily physical activity, social engagement, where people of all ages are socially active and integrated into the community, are common in all people enrolled in the surveys.

Furthermore, loneliness kills and “turns out to be toxic.” Loners, those who are isolated or outcast, are less happy, less healthy, their health declines earlier and their brain functioning declines sooner. To top it off, they tend to have shorter lives.
“The sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely,” Waldinger said.

2. Quality Is More Important than Quantity
The number of social connections isn’t an indicator of happiness, necessarily, however. Our close relationships must be healthy relationships in order to influence our happiness in a positive manner.

Living in conflict is extremely damaging to our health. For example, according to Waldinger, high-conflict marriages without much affection are perhaps worse than getting divorced, while sustaining good, warm relationships is protective to our health. That is why conflict resolution is so vital to maintaining strong relationships.

One startling finding occurred when researchers attempted to find indicators for late-life happiness at midlife. Turns out, the Harvard Happiness Study participants’ health at 50 — such as cholesterol levels — wasn’t an accurate predictor of longevity; it was how satisfied they were in their relationships.

How did the Harvard Happiness Study reveal this? The participants who were most happy with their relationships at 50 turned out to be healthier than those who weren’t satisfied with their relationships when they reached 80.

Not only that, but being happy in old age turned out to not be affected by physical pain that often comes from decades of wear and tear on the body. Thus, physical pain becomes magnified by emotional pain, Waldinger said.

3. Good Relationships Protect Our Brains
In addition to longer life and better physical health, sustaining healthy relationships protects our brains as well. Our memories stay sharper longer, especially when we feel we can count on people with whom we have close relationships.

In addition, Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones,” shares the importance of strong relationships to those living in the blue zone regions:

The world’s longevity all-stars not only live longer, they also tend to live better. They have strong connections with their family and friends. They’re active. They wake up in the morning knowing that they have a purpose, and the world, in turn, reacts to them in a way that propels them along. An overwhelming majority of them still enjoy life. (3)

How to Apply the Happiness Study Findings
Truth be told, these lessons aren’t all that shocking. We’ve known seemingly forever that happy, healthy, close relationships are good for our health. However, it’s something many people ignore for myriad reasons: financial pressures, chronic stress, societal expectations, etc. As Waldinger put it, “We’re human. What we’d really like is a quick fix, something we can get that’ll make our lives good and keep them that way. Relationships are messy and they’re complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends, it’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s also lifelong. It never ends.”

So how can we take a step back from the 21st-century “always on” mentality and put more focus on our lives outside of work and the online world? Waldinger suggested a few ways:

  • - Replace screen time with people time. That means overcoming nomophobia and FOMO.
  • - Liven up a stale relationship by doing something new together — long walks or date nights, for example.
  • - Reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in years.
  • - Let go of family feuds and grudges.
  • - Focus on personal well-being, both physical and mental. Practice healing prayer.
  • - Build those close relationships.

In addition, Buettner has a few suggestions as well, gleaned from the blue zones:

  • - Surround yourself with family members and close friends who share your values. For residents of the blue zones, this comes naturally because social connectedness is ingrained into their cultures. Staying connected is a natural way to bust stress and improve quality of life.
  • - Build a strong support system. People in the blue zones “have better and stronger systems of support, they’re much more engaged with and helpful to each other, more willing and able to express feelings, including grief and anger, and other aspects of intimacy.” This type of social system reinforces healthy, positive behaviors and stress, which is one of the biggest contributors to chronic disease. There’s a lot of existing evidence that shows acute or chronic psychological stress can induce a chronic inflammatory process, which over time can increase the risk for diseases like heart disease, mental disorders, autoimmune diseases and digestive problems. (4)
  • - Focus on family. For example, during the weekly 24-hour sabbath that Seventh-day Adventist practice, they spend time focusing on family, God, camaraderie and nature.

If you do those things, your chances of a longer, healthier, happier life are greater — because, as Waldinger said, “The good life is built with good relationships.”

About the Happiness Study
For 75 years, the Harvard Study of Adult Development — aka the Happiness Study — has tracked the lives of 724 men, tracking their work, home lives, health, etc., year after year, to get a better picture of what makes people happy. About 60 of the original subjects are still alive and participating in the study, while more than 2,000 children of those original 724 are being study as well.

Two groups of men have been tracked since 1938. The first started as sophomores at Harvard while the second included a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, chosen specifically because they were from troubled and disadvantaged families. They’ve been tracked through survey questionnaires and interviews their entire lives and receive another questionnaire and round of interviews — in their living rooms — every two years.

Researchers also get their medical records from their doctors, draw their blood, scan their brains and talk to their children. They also take video of them talking with their wives about their concerns and recently asked the wives to join the study.

Happiness Study Takeaways

  • - “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier, period.”
  • - Social connections matter. Researchers have found that people who have more social connections to family, friends and community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than people with fewer social connections.
  • - Quality of relationship is more important than quantity of relationships. The number of social connections isn’t an indicator of happiness, necessarily, however. Our close relationships must be healthy relationships in order to influence our happiness in a positive manner.
  • - Good relationships protect our brains. Our memories stay sharper longer, especially when we feel we can count on people with whom we have close relationships.
You can put these findings into practice these ways: Replace screen time with people time, liven up a stale relationship by doing something new together, reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in years, let go of family feuds and grudges, focus on personal well-being, build close relationships, surround yourself with people who share your values, build a strong support system, and focus on family.

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a certified doctor of natural medicine, Doctor of Chiropractic and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. In 2008, he started a functional medicine center in Nashville, which grew to become one of the most renowned clinics in the world.

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