Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do you have the guts to be healthy? pt 1


" All disease begins in the gut." These wise words from Hippocrates lead us down a path that  permanently changes our relationship with food. A quick glance of contemporary medical literature reveals digestive complaints are among the most common ailments today. The severity of the epidemic can be gauged by the fact that many people feel it is normal to require antacids, H2 blockers or PPI's on a daily basis. These things damage our natural cycles and are being added to the long list of things our body must battle against in order to maintain a healthy equilibrium. Having proper beneficial bacteria and PH balance in the gut is imperative to health and vitality. It is my intention to give you some tools to add to your food forays that will encourage health in this area so commonly ignored.

Getting friendly cultures into the fridge can be an exciting tour de taste bud with all sorts of tantalizing sour delights. Take a deep breath, relax your belly and open your mind to a paradigm shift around the need for sterility in food production.

 For starters, let's examine the brain in our belly. We have a secondary brain system called the Enteric Nervous System that is as complicated as our spine. It has over 100 million neurons, more than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system. Many of these resources are utilized in the process of digestion, yet our emotions are also regulated through this second brain. It controls our serotonin levels which is what antidepressants influence. The long and short of it is that when we address one we impact the other whether we are conscious of it or not. Let's not get too mired down in the scientific jargon of it all,  just know that it is more than a tummy ache that ensues from improper nutrition. The food we eat and the mood we produce are inextricably linked with our immune system.

We can talk about a lot of options to tweak nutrition for intended results of wellness, weight loss, energy or mood improvements, etc but unless our digestion is working properly it is futile. This is the first step to detoxification, weight loss, or any other type of healing.

So what to do?

It is usually recommended that we take probiotic supplements and enzymes in the form of pills or powders. Probiotic means "for life". Antibiotic means "anti life". No kidding! If you choose this route, buy from a reputable company. Even better if that company in close proximity to you. The bacteria in the  probiotics are supposed to be alive so it stands to reason the further it has had to travel to get to you the more likely a link in the preservation chain has been broken. I have read it is nearly impossible to tell if what you are eating is still living when you get these essentials from a pill. I think Bio Kult is a great one, and Dr Natasha Campbell McBride helped create it. She has done some amazing research in nutrition related causes of Autism.  Be sure to get a probiotic with multiple strains of different bacteria should you choose a different brand.

For me, making my own cultured foods has been a fun and tasty way to begin restoring optimal gut function. It is an easy, delicious way to increase the nutritional content of your food, preserve it and introduce the friend bacteria we need to be healthy into our bodies. Fermented foods have been used for millenia world wide and it is only in our recent history that these foods have fallen out of favor. Lacto fermented pickles, Beet Kvass, Kombucha, Kruats, Ketchups and even french fries all offer unique benefits. During our program together I can offer you some basic advice for getting started fermenting your way to fizzy bliss. Did I mention these foods also help with sugar cravings and weight loss? Sour is the antidote to sweet.

Another fun way to incorporate these vital foods is to add water kefir grains to coconut water to make a coconut kefir. This process eats up the sugar in the coconut water and produces a fizzy drink that can be mixed with a little fruits or ginger juice to make a soda. Sweeten with stevia for a treat the kiddos will ask for again and again.

Please note, the pasteurized kraut you find unrefrigerated at the grocery store does not offer these benefits. Look in your refrigerator section at a local health food store, community supported kitchen or take a few minutes every other week to get a batch going with whatever veggies you have floating around. I recommend the books Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation for more info on 'getting cultured'. There is so much information to cover here this will be a series. Next time we can get into leaky gut, IBS and a host of other unfortunate outcomes of the Standard American Diet and our dependence on pharmaceuticals.

Until then, Get fizzy with it!

For more info:

Weston A Price Foundation

Nourishing Traditions  with Sally Fallon

Donna Gates and The Body Ecology Diet

Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride and Gut and Psychology Syndrome

The Abdominal Brain and Enteric Nervous System
David L. McMillin, M.A., Douglas G. Richards, Ph.D.,
Eric A. Mein, M.D., Carl D. Nelson, D.C.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Primary Food : Love, Career, Spirituality and Movement.

Primary food is a concept that was developed by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to describe the importance of our relationships, spiritual practices, body movement and careers to support our health and well being. When one of these areas is out of alignment we try to balance things out with food and unhealthy habits. As we work together we explore these concepts in a deep and meaningful way. Grab a cup of tea and snuggle up so we can dip our toes in for an introduction to this revolutionary idea.

When we consider changing our diet or the tendency to be a ‘workaholic’ we often miss the secret clues to lasting success. Our media propagates a skewed ideal of perfection that is not only unattainable, but toxic. We are told than in order to be loved and appreciated we must look a certain way, buy this and follow suit with our neighbor in pursuing the “American Dream”. This dream is twisting into all sorts of nightmares. Let’s wake up, shall we? 

The reality is most Americans are now overweight, taking several prescription medications,  and unsatisfied with their finances. This is the first time we have a generation of parents expected to exceed the life expectancy of their children. Our future generation is being drugged with medication for issues that could easily be addressed with dietary and lifestyle changes. Parents are busy and demoralized by misinformation and failed attempts to get out of the cycle. How can we pull ourselves out of this sinkhole?

When we examine modern dietary literature we find recommendations for calorie consumption, fat percentages, nutrient recommendations, exercise advice and the like with not even a nod to our primary needs. It is imperative that we address our entire life in order to get to the crux of the biscuit and this can be overwhelming to tackle on our own. We cannot expect our situation to have any lasting change until we nurture our most basic needs and accept who and where we are in this moment. That includes the short temper, the muffin top, and the frustration of our daily commute. Observation is the first step in changing any dynamic.

Do you notice how when the love birds are chirping it is easier to put away your Ben and Jerry’s? When our intimate relationships and meaningful friendships are well fed and flourishing our tummy needs far less stimulation. A simple exercise you can do is list the people in your life and write a few words describing how you feel during your interactions with them and some words that come to mind describing the flavor of your relationship. In doing this you will notice some people nourish a positive impression while others drain us. Experiment with crowding out time with people who drain you by scheduling activities with those who support and inspire you. No need to be drastic or confrontational, just fill your dance card with those who make you smile so hard your face hurts and watch the magic unfold.

The amount of time we spend at our jobs necessitates a candid review of its impact on our health and happiness. Are you in a career you feel good about? Are you doing something that moves you in a direction that makes your heart sing? Does it allow you creative expression and compensate you in a way that feels fair? Unhappiness in this area can lower our morale and sap us of vitality. This is one of the more challenging areas to step outside the comfort zone. Whether it is due to age, financial responsibility or pressure from loved ones, we often feel boxed in when considering a career change. A qualified lifestyle coach can assist you in moving towards an inspiring job by providing support and resources that may just help you transform your previous impression of what is possible. Without regard for ‘should’ and ‘can’t’, I invite you to take a few minutes to jot down what you might be doing if you could choose any career path. If thinking about a different career is too daunting, you can start with just listing activities and areas of study that interest you. This combined with relaxation can yield insight into jobs that let your light shine. Over the years, I have used this exercise to map out and prioritize shifts with great success. I look forward to helping you do the same.

During our modern age, information and entertainment are just a click away. These tools have become so widely used we rarely go on adventures in nature or a walk to the library. Elevators, escalators, curbside pick-up and similar conveniences have chipped away at the tiny bits of movement those in car based cities experience. We have to move to be healthy. It is not optional. The type of movement is not as important as consistency. Remember when you were a child and you could entertain yourself for hours running around the yard, riding your bike, climbing trees and hosting talent shows with jump ropes for microphones? We played hop scotch, hide and seek, tag and could stay in the pool or roller rink for hours. This free movement breeds energy, revitalizes us, and transmutes the natural forces that propel us forward each day. If we do not find something we love that stretches our muscles and includes some type of weight bearing exercise we will atrophy and lose vigor. Start simple.  Park at the back of the lot, take the stairs, and if you are a couch potato just get up each time a commercial comes on. I love to hula hoop (with an adult sized hoop), spin poi, and play on my inversion set up with flying yoga poses. Exercise does not have to be boot camp. We can laugh and play even as adults. When we work on your program I will give you simple tips that you can utilize whatever your current level of fitness to get going in a positive direction. Remember perfection can paralyze us, just do something.

Spiritual practice has been widely researched and explored for its various benefits physically and internally. People with some sort of practice live longer, happier lives. No need to get into religious debates, as the type of spirituality that inspires us is deeply personal. The method is not as important as sincere action. For some people, being in nature is their way of reflecting on Divinity. Meditation, prayer, singing, fasting, and various other rituals all dwell in the vibrant realm of spiritual practice. We can start by simply being aware and paying attention to our breath. Begin to really be present and notice all that is inside and outside in order to cleanse your proverbial palette. I encourage you to take a few minutes reviewing this area of your life to see how you are stoking the flames of your heart. As a health coach, I provide resources and books from many rich traditions and practices that resonate with my clients without any dogmatic agenda or judgment.

I hope this has given you some food for thought and a jumping off point for delving deeper into the connection between primary food and what goes into our mouths. In order to heal, we must address our entire situation  with tenacity and honesty. If I can assist you in anyway, please contact me to set up an initial consultation.

Whether we work together or not, may the force with you on this exciting road to rejuvenation.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Excercise doesn't have to be a drag.

If you are like me, the idea of running down the road a few miles is about as appealing as a boiling colonic.  Ok …maybe not that uncomfortable but can you feel me?

One of the things that helps me get motivated to move is tapping into the energy I had as a child and finding ways to play. I loved to dance and play circus games, gymnastics, hide and seek outside and anything in or near the water. Swimming and hiking are favorites now, along with yoga, spinning poi and hooping. Hula hooping and spinning fire were a natural extension of my love of dance and music, and since the others are pretty self explanatory we will focus on those.

Hooping can burn 600 calories an hour if you really get going. I like to just put on some music and play.  Benefits of hooping include:
  • Massages your intestines and organs as it circles your waist
  • Allows for meditative time
  • Gets your heart rate up
  • Increases the fitness level of the entire body
  • Increases the flow of blood to the brain
  • Increases energy level
  • Improves coordination
  • Strengthens torso muscles
  • Enhances spinal flexibility

As you can see it is fun and allows for a lot of spontaneous movement. Check out for more information and instructional videos.

My other favorite is spinning poi. This ancient practice brings me into a centered place of joy. When I have the fire poi lit, it is much more spiritual. Practicing with fabric poi is a great workout that  allows for a lot of creative expression. Your mileage on calories burnt will vary but the more you move the more you lose.

...a glimpse into the joy of dancing with fire. Please note: As fun as this looks, you should be trained by a professional before actually lighting up.  Stick with practice poi and get your due diligence done before introducing fire, unless you would like to check out your local burn unit for an extended vacation. See the video below for a simple intro to making your own practice poi at home.

(video with how to make sock poi) For more info on Poi.

Maybe neither of these flip your switch but the idea is to find something fun that gets you moving and get into it.  Even if you enjoy Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong it is a good idea to do something that gets you moving for 30 mins 3 times a week. Your body will reward and thank you.

Nourish Yourself!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Agave testing too dangerous?

Agave nectar has been removed and banned from the list of approved low glycemic foods by the Glycemic Research Institute due to health dangers. I read somewhere a while ago this would be the next corn syrup.  Did not know what they meant then but this development is very interesting. Sorry fellow agave lovers!

If you have heard about this and have other links please share. I first heard about this at David Wolfe's blog.  Gosh, I love that curly haired man.

"The Glycemic Research Institute® announced that they have halted and banned all future clinical trials of Agave and are issuing warnings to manufacturers and the public about the dangers related to Agave.

The Medical Advisory Board of the Glycemic Research Institute® (GRI) made the decision to halt all future clinical trials involving Agave as a result of the latest round of GRI Human In Vivo Clinical Trials, in which the diabetic subjects experienced severe and dangerous side effects related to the oral ingestion of the sweetener Agave.
This announcement came as a surprise to the scientific community, and has generated hundreds of inquiries involving the safety of ingesting Agave.
Physicians and diabetes health educators are now being advised to caution their diabetic patients, both adults and children, about the use of Agave.
This also applies to persons with Metabolic Syndrome, Insulin Resistance, and Pre-Diabetes. The medical community believes that up to 70% of the American public has some form of Insulin Resistance, due to the rise in obesity and weight gain.
The ban on Agave includes “The use of Agave as a sweetener and/or syrup, as found in foods, beverages, Nutraceuticals, chocolate, and any other consumable product.”

Full info here:

Mama's Chavocado Mousse

These recent forays into raw cacao have proved quite fruitful. This treat may mean the end of ice cream for me. It is delish, and on the healthier end of the sweet tooth spectrum. Twas inspired by several other recipes for raw mousse and dedicated to all the mama's in the world.

Chavocado Mousse
  • 2 -3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3-4 tbsp coconut cream
  • Dash of balsamic vinegar         
  • Few tbsp raw dark honey( to taste)
  • ½ c powdered raw cacao ( more to taste)
  • 2 avocados
Makes three 1 cup servings.

First things first: Take a few deep breathes and feel your toes. Take in the smells and sights of the kitchen and the beautiful food you are about to orchestrate. 

Blend all of the above until smooth. This part is important to get the right whippy texture and hide the avocado. If this is done thoroughly, no one will even be able to tell there is avocado in it. Just tastes like very rich chocolaty goodness. Adding more cacao if it is too runny, coconut cream if it is too gloppy and sweetener as your tastes dictate. Play with it.  You cannot get it wrong.

I topped with a dollop of honey flavored Greek yogurt, some raw cacao nibs and granola pieces.
It is very versatile and can be layered with fresh fruit, nuts or used as a simple icing for cupcakes. Whatever flips your fork!

Enjoy this at the end of a long day with the kiddos and please your body as much as your palate. Nourish Yourself.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mayan inspired Chocotonic

For a real dose of chocolaty medicine and spice give this elixir a whirl:

Spicy Chocotonic
5 tbsp dark Venezuelan cocoa Powder
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp raw sugar ( can use rice syrup in cup with water)
2 tbsp Cordyceps
2 tbsp Maca
1 tbsp Cayenne
1 tbsp Cinnamon
2-3 tbsp Coconut Cream

Relax and take a moment to breath and be present. Mix dry ingredients. This recipe is spicier than it is sweet. Adjust according to your own tastes. Add a couple tablespoons of coconut cream to the bottom of your cup and mix in 2 tbsp of the choco mix. Making a nice whippy frosting consistency. Slowly add hot water to taste.

This is thick, super spicy and an amazing tonic for your body. For the first batch I used more of the roasted cocoa than raw cacao but next time I think Ill make them equal to increase the nutrient content. Enjoy!

The benefits of these ingredients is too long to list but here are a few:
*Cinnamon is a natural source of chromium and helps control appetite/regulate blood sugar, boost memory, helps bad breath, digestion, toothache, arthritis
*Maca is an Incan Superfood known to increase fertility,mental clarity, nourish glands and stamina, cancer fights, restores endocrine function, supports adrenal health
* Cordyceps boosts immune function, is anti aging, improves respiration,builds muscles, kidney and liver protectant,  improves circulation, regulated blood pressure, strengthens heart muscle.
*Cayenne works to improve circulation, nervous stimulant, relieves cold symptoms, helps with digestion, benefits kidney spleen and pancreas.
*Coconut Creamits lauric acid content (which scientists and researchers found in human breast milk) also helps you fight intrusive viruses, bacteria, promote normal brain development and contribute to healthy bones. And its anti-carcinogenic and anti-pathogenic properties can keep cancer at bay too.
*Raw Cacao let me count the ways...increases levels of neurotransmitter function, metabolic protection, raises serotonin and endorphins,  rich in essential minerals, #1 source of magnesium according to some sources, essential fats,  promotes cardiovascular health and protects from environmental and metabolic toxins. ( Not these benefits are from RAW cacao not necessarily in tact in processed chocolate.)

Most importantly- this stuff is a cup-o-yum. Drink it!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Awesome Recipe Apps for simplicty

I am a bit of a Luddite in spirit. That being said, I can not pass up great tech tools that help free up hard drive space in my brain. If you would like to simplify healthy shopping at the grocery store and have better access to your personal recipes, give these a gander.

VeganYumYum Mobile lets you search, view, and organize all your favorite recipes from the award-winning food blog, (This one works offline and is great!)(Free)

Whole Foods App
"You asked, we listened: Whole Foods Market Recipes now includes shopping lists!

Just click on the Add to List button at the bottom of each recipe and items will be added automatically, including quantities so you don't buy too much. You can also add items by hand, edit, rearrange, and send lists via email.

Looking for healthy and delicious food? Search Whole Foods Market Recipes for recipes featuring the finest natural and organic foods. You can search recipes by ingredients and dietary preferences such as gluten-free, low fat, and vegetarian/vegan. Every Whole Foods Market recipe includes nutritional information and cooking instructions.

Use the App's store locator to find Whole Foods Market stores near you. Each store page includes links to the store website and specials of natural and organic foods on sale at your local Whole Foods Market."(Free)

And the my absolute favorite:
Handy Cookbook
This nifty gadget can be used to upload your own personal recipes. The categories can be customized. I use mine for herbal recipes and DIY beauty products as well. You can upload your own pictures, email recipes, and create shopping lists. When you change the serving size it adjusts the recipe! Worth all 199 pennies.($1.99)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Video: Unplug the Signal

This is an important message about what we experience when we flip on the tube. Consider turning off your TV this weekend and spend that time engaging in something more inspiring. Let your creativity shine!

"Unplug the Signal" is a campaign to turn off televisions across the country. It draws attention to the gross manipulation of reality that is broadcast by the six major corporations controlling the content of television. The television has been used as a weapon of mass deception for the last half of a century as it manages society and culture through such techniques as perception management, predictive programming, and crisis creation. Unplugging the Signal is of urgent concern for the television remains our greatest threat to individual sovereignty and the largest obstacle to becoming a truly informed individual."

Unplug the Signal: The Truth Will Not Be Televised
Nathan Janes
A flow of information is constantly streaming from the television set; a bombardment of words and pictures.  The speed at which this information is communicated makes it easy for the signal to take control, switching the viewer's brain to stand-by as information is absorbed without analysis or question. Today the television's constant signal shapes the conclusions of the masses and produces the collective norm.  The signal prescribes what is news and what is truth through the words of so-called experts and authorities, gelding the consciousness and independent thoughts of those subjected to it. Through television, the masses can be made to accept the most monstrous distortions of reality. The signal is a chill wind of continuous oppression over the minds of the masses. It controls the management of society and culture, creating uniformity across all subjects. 

The fuel for this vehicle of mass deception is a technique known as perception management where an array of psychological techniques are used to alter the truth, leading the viewer to a desired conclusion. Some call this spin or propaganda while others know it as lying.  According to Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for Adolph Hitler, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it... It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." Most of what can be found on the nightly news is nothing but advertisements selling more government and a false reality that benefits only those in control. Television is the dictator of information; newspaper and radio are the whisper campaign of the television's message.

It is expected that Americans will consistently prescribe to the doctrine of the television. It is subtly communicated that one should stay within the collective and never challenge the message, for doing so may be considered an aggression towards culture. The message is, "Be a good consumer; always obey authority; you know nothing; listen only to experts; be content and never question or express new ideas." This signal is being broadcast across millions of screens, indoctrinating the unconscious minds of those who choose this as their only reality. Self-censorship occurs when these individuals become so deeply indoctrinated that they are afraid to discuss any information outside the paradigm of television-created culture; they police their thoughts to ensure they won't conflict with this culture. Sadly, many people's reality today does not allow any outside information to process, instead it is written off as conspiracy or blatant lies. Our consciousness has been destroyed so much that fiction has become reality. An entire lifestyle of poisonous foods, pharmaceuticals, and fluoridated water are accepted as safe and sold to us at the cost of our health and well being.

Those of the establishment are using the incredibly powerful weapon of mass psychology as a method of controlling the minds of the masses and altering the behavior of individuals. Edward Bernays, a pioneer in the field of public relations in the 20th century, applied Sigmund Freud's theory of psychoanalysis to manipulate the masses by engineering consent. According to Bernays, "If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it." Advertisers and psychologists of the billion dollar culture creation industry manufacture trends through the proliferation of insecurities; and manipulating desires and emotions. These concepts are also employed to control how individuals think about politics, as well as the possibilities and limitations within society.  Those wielding power within our streams of mass communication market their plans into each generation as individuals adopt specific ways of thinking and never suspect that all the major events and trends within their lifetime are actually planned by an elite few before they are even born. In our society today, culture is created from the top down. Virtually all forms of culture are created by the ruling class to build a false sense of reality, ensure social compliance, and control the future course of cultural evolution.

Predictive programming is a tool used by the establishment to acclimate the public to new ideas, trends, beliefs, and threats. It is used through television by including certain situations or ideas within the plots of many fictional shows, familiarizing the viewer with these concepts no matter what they may be watching.  When similar situations occur or like ideas are circulated in the world we think that these particular things are quite natural for we have unknowingly been made familiar with them through television. By viewing nearly any popular show on television, one can see the same propaganda that will be aired on the nightly news. Propaganda on a wide array of subjects has been interwoven into a great number of television shows. Just a few of these subjects include global warming, vaccinations, torture, terrorism, national security, the militarization of police, and the degradation of the family unit. Through predictive programming, television shapes culture and prevents individuals from asking questions.

Crises are created on a daily basis and broadcast across the airwaves to keep individuals in a state of panic and fear. Whether it be the threat of a pandemic or terrorism, the constant state of crisis has created a form of mental illness as we are slowly acclimated into an age of crisis. By using Hegelian dialectic, the television promotes the problem, guides our reaction, and presents the solution. The problem of terrorism was exclaimed, a strong emotional response was evoked, and it was stated that our rights need be sacrificed in order to protect us from the threat. We've lost personal sovereignty under the guise of terrorism; we're stopped and searched; we're watched by cameras as we go about our lives; and we're encouraged to spy on our neighbors.  We have been trained to accept the life of a prisoner.

America is in a state of enlightened despotism where most individuals live only to satisfy selfish inner desires and remain ignorant of the state of the world around them. In most public places one can find a television transmitting propaganda around the clock ensuring the masses remain focused on trivial matters. From birth we take the world as it’s presented on television.  We don't question it and any serious criticism of TV is becoming psychologically impossible in society. Who would suspect getting born into a world where everything around you is a continuous lie? The youth of today are convinced that the experts and personalities on television are the authority of credible information while parents and older generations are foolish with dated ideas.  Children are conditioned to disconnect from what is truly important to their well being and instead focus on mindless trivia, sports, celebrity gossip, and buying an array of material things. They invest their psychological worth in fantasy characters on television while ignoring or even scorning individuals contributing to the betterment of humanity. They are discouraged from getting involved in their local community and often lack the ability to think independently or to resist corruption. As their children's minds are molded by television, there is barely a murmur from the public.

For over half a century, our society has lived under this signal of mental programming and conditioning. The message is clear: don't be a leader, don't engage in critical thinking, and don’t care about the people in your life. Until individuals become aware of the current information war, our standard of living and our liberties will continue to be degraded and we will continue to lose communities and meaningful relationships between people. Currently, pockets of resistance are beginning to spring up everywhere as some unplug the signal and regain control of their own thoughts. Informed individuals are canceling their cable and satellite subscriptions and instead spending time with their families and children while participating in meaningful experiences. They are seeking alternative news sources. They are reading about those who wield incredible influence over culture like Edward Bernays, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Charles Galton Darwin, Plato, Bertrand Russell, and Aldous Huxley. However, it is a continuous battle to educate the masses for the television remains our greatest threat to individual sovereignty and the largest obstacle to becoming a truly informed individual. Fortunately, unplugging from the signal is easy. The television can simply be turned off. Through doing so, you may realize nearly our entire world is now a hoax; things once known as truth are fake. We have been trained like dogs to be obedient to our television; our master has had our minds on a tight leash. Let us never forget the truth will not be televised.

For more information:

Study finds mind is frequent, not happy wanderer

November 11, 2010 

Harvard psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth (right) and Daniel T. Gilbert (left) used a special "track your happiness" iPhone app to gather research. The results: We spend at least half our time thinking about something other than our immediate surroundings, and most of this daydreaming doesn't make us happy.

People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they're doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy. So says a study that used an iPhone web app to gather 250,000 data points on subjects' thoughts, feelings, and actions as they went about their lives.

The research, by psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University, is described this week in the journal Science.

"A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind," Killingsworth and Gilbert write. "The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost."

Unlike other animals, humans spend a lot of time thinking about what isn't going on around them: contemplating events that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or may never happen at all. Indeed, mind-wandering appears to be the human brain's default mode of operation.
To track this behavior, Killingsworth developed an web app that contacted 2,250 volunteers at random intervals to ask how happy they were, what they were currently doing, and whether they were thinking about their current activity or about something else that was pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant.

Subjects could choose from 22 general activities, such as walking, eating, shopping, and . On average, respondents reported that their minds were wandering 46.9 percent of time, and no less than 30 percent of the time during every activity except making love.
"Mind-wandering appears ubiquitous across all activities," says Killingsworth, a doctoral student in at Harvard. "This study shows that our mental lives are pervaded, to a remarkable degree, by the non-present."

Killingsworth and Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, found that people were happiest when making love, exercising, or engaging in conversation. They were least happy when resting, working, or using a home computer.
"Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people's happiness," Killingsworth says. "In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged."

The researchers estimated that only 4.6 percent of a person's happiness in a given moment was attributable to the specific activity he or she was doing, whereas a person's mind-wandering status accounted for about 10.8 percent of his or her happiness.
Time-lag analyses conducted by the researchers suggested that their subjects' mind-wandering was generally the cause, not the consequence, of their unhappiness.

"Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment, and practitioners are trained to resist mind wandering and to 'be here now,'" Killingsworth and Gilbert note in Science. "These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind."
This new research, the authors say, suggests that these traditions are right.

Killingsworth and Gilbert's 2,250 subjects in this study ranged in age from 18 to 88, representing a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and occupations. Seventy-four percent of study participants were American.

More than 5,000 people are now using the iPhone web app the researchers have developed to study happiness, which can be found at

More information: by Harvard University (news : web)