Life, Love, V

Nations Embrace Plant-Based Diets
Using 3D Printers To Save Lives
Mint Helps You Track Income And Expenses, For Free!
Leaders: Business Is The Future Of Holistic Change
Our goals and ambitions for Life, Love, V.

Gratitude: A Priceless Habit

card-handmade-thank-1207660-hSometimes it can feel like life is tough. One quality that is really powerful in changing our attitudes from negative to positive, and reframing what happens day-to-day, is gratitude. Gratitude is a practice of appreciation for what life brings us. Research suggests that expressing gratitude can strengthen relationships, improve psychological wellbeing, promote altruism and pay-it-forward style giving, and make you happier.

Cultivating certain practices or habits can promote gratitude. For example:

  1. Contemplate death: this helps us not take life for granted, but enjoy our lives (as someone who volunteers in hospice, I can attest that this really works)
  2. Savor good experiences: this helps anchor positivity in your mind
  3. Avoid entitlement: instead, cultivate a practice of receiving life’s gifts and giving to others in ways that acknowledge how interconnected life is
  4. Appreciate people: not just things, because showing our gratitude can uplift loved ones and strangers too
  5. Be specific: say exactly what you are grateful for
  6. Be grateful when it feels like you can’t: sometimes appreciating hardships can transform them

Expressing gratitude is important to maintain a positive mindset even in times of stress; some ways to express gratitude include writing thank you notes, keeping a gratitude journal, praying, and meditating. The benefits of are myriad and can improve our personal, social, professional, emotional, and physical lives. Gratitude is a priceless habit to build; time to give it a go if you haven’t already!

Image credit: Laura Manning via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Vertical Gardens Gain Popularity

A vertical garden in Mexico City.Vertical gardens are becoming popular as more and more of the world’s population lives in urban centers. Patrick Blanc has built the world’s tallest vertical garden in Sydney, Australia, with over 450 plant types, of which 250 are local plant species. Blanc learned to make vertical gardens as a child, once he understood that plants don’t need soil; they can grow in water, absorbing nutrients while also filtering the water. According to Blanc, vertical gardens afford a more complete view of all the plants when compared to a horizontal garden. Trained as a botanic scientist, Blanc is able to match plants to their preferred climate easily; this makes him a more time-efficient vertical garden creator compared to competitors.

Offering opportunities for showcasing architectural creativity, vertical gardens can be quite beautiful. Importantly, aside from being esthetically pleasing and well suited to urban populations, vertical gardens also help in “reforesting” urban landscapes, providing fresh air and humidity.  Research also shows that vertical gardens can play a role in adapting to climate change through their cooling effect in office buildings.

Image credit: SanGatchie via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution. 

(Dis)connected: Overcoming Distraction, Isolation, and Separation with Connective Technology

apple-mobile-phone-149689-hIncreasingly, our connectedness is mediated by technology. I know I’m guilty of being an email and Facebook addict; this is how I connect with my parents, relatives, and friends abroad. But what about the relationships we cultivate face to face? Are they suffering? Are we tuning out of life as we flit from our smart phone to the next gadget?

Research suggests yes. And Professor David M. Levy is on a mission to do something about it. He wants to get his students to do one thing at a time, as a way of becoming more present.

Levy’s goal is to reverse the connective technology paradox. The current dilemma is that in our desire to be connected to distant people and events, we use technologies that distract us from connecting with the present moment and the people around us. Levy is using those same technologies with meditation to help his students be more present, and focus on one task at a time, even if that task uses technology. For instance, one of his assignments is to do only email for 15 minutes. For those of us who check email constantly (yes, I mean me), this is an important shift. He also has his students practice meditation in class, which, although at first awkward, eventually helps them mentally declutter.

Says Levy, “A good deal of my focus in recent years has been on exploring how to use our digital tools differently, to connect us to one another and to sources of information in deeper and healthier ways.” Amen to that!

Source: NPR Blog

Image credit: blakespot via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Doug Kreitzer: A Musician And His Music

Doug KreitzerDoug Kreitzer is a singer songwriter living in Cincinnati, OH.  He has been writing songs for over 16 years and has performed all along the east coast and in California.

I feel it is my destiny to create music and share it with the world, and for my music to uplift people and help us all to realize our oneness. All wish to be Happy and Free. – Doug Kreitzer

Describe Dream, Love Life, Consciousness. Actually the album is called Dream Life Consciousness, and it basically is a reminder for me to always keep my dream life in mind. Its sort of a way of manifesting the reality I wish to see, to believe that I am already living my dreams and on my way to seeing more of them fulfilled. The album is mostly inspired by encounters of love with magical people and expressing my spirituality subtly through each song. So is not over the top spiritual, but is tied into each song a little bit, kind of like my life, physically based with moments of divine intervention here and there.

Is Dream, Love Life, Consciousness your first album? If not, which other ones exist and where can we find them? DLC is the first album that I made entirely on my own. I used to be in a band called Rookie that produced three CD’s where I wrote a majority of the lyrics and sang. They were more of the pop-punk rock n roll genre. You can hear one of them for free on spotify under Rookie, and the album is A Lot to Live.

You play all the instruments and sing. How long did it take you put this album together? This album took me a couple years to completely finish, and there are plenty of parts I would love to redo in a nice studio, so it’s a little unfinished. But I recorded it all on my computer using garageband and tons of time listening and re-listening. The drums are all digital beats which I had to find and arrange, but other than that I played all the guitar parts, bass parts and vocal harmonies. Though my girlfriend sang with me on the song Shine Through Me, which has been one of my favorite bass lines I’ve ever written. It was so fun to play.

Where do you find your inspiration for writing songs? My inspiration comes from myself and from friends and animals. I like talking with other musicians and music lovers about what they love to hear in songs and I try to apply them to my music. But when it comes to writing I just start strumming a few chords and then start singing and a melody comes out, then I attach a few words to the melody. Then from those few words a theme for the song starts to develop. Then before you know it a whole song comes together from just one idea. A lot of ideas lately come from the image of creating heaven on earth and seeing all being living freely and in harmony.

Which track do you think is the best, technically speaking? Technically speaking, I don’t know which song is the best, maybe Heaven on Earth, but my self-criticizing mind says they’re all a little sloppy, but I had to let go at some point and say, ‘that’s the album.” There’s only so much I could do with my producing experience.

What is your favorite track? Why? I think the first song is the best, Flashbulb Memory. There’s just something about the imagery and the places that it takes me to mentally. It means a lot to me. I really enjoy listening to all of the songs, but there are a lot of different feeling songs throughout. A little country rock song, a little reggae, tribal sounding drums on Heaven on Earth which is another favorite of mine due to the lyrics and all the vocal harmonies I did. A few of the harmonies really hit me in the gut, so I was really satisfied with the performance when a lot of times I’m very hard on my self.

You decided to release DLC under a “pay-what-you-want” model. How did you decide on this and would you recommend it for other musicians? I did a pay-what you want model because I wanted people to hear it no matter what they could afford. I still don’t feel like many people have heard it though. I was burning copies and giving a lot out for free just to spread the music. Most music is free these days through digital streaming sites and I just want to be out there, too. But if people want to pay for it they can, and I’m totally into that! Thanks to those who have.

Music is not your full time job, right? So, what do you do when you are not making music? I work full time now at Whole Foods. I was teaching yoga full time when I made this cd, but it was hard to keep it up financially and energetically, so I just teach a couple of classes a week and play live music in a yoga class every two weeks with my new band mate, guitarist, Danny Schneider. Other than that I love to work out, lift weights, practice yoga and walk my Jack Russell Terrier friend Mardi.

What’s next? Are you working on a new album? I am playing with a full band now called The Peace and we are working on recording our album soon. I’m really looking forward to finishing it. We are working with one of the top producers in Cincinnati, grammy nominated and very experienced. The Peace plays songs that are very intentionally driven with the purpose of liberating all beings and uplifting all. So keep an eye and ear out for The Peace. We plan to play at a lot of Veg Fests and rock the animal rights crowds.

Lastly, which non-human animal species is your favorite? Why? I’m definitely most connected to dogs, because I have one curled up in front of my legs as I sit cross legged here on the couch, but that answer just seems too easy. I always find inspiration from sea turtles and dolphins. Sea turtles live so long and breathe so slowly. Its a nice reminder to breathe slow and live long, and dolphins are just badass….though there’s something to learn from every animal so I really can’t play favorites.

Editor’s note: My apologies to Doug for getting the name of his album wrong. Check out his album, Dream Life Consciousness, on Bandcamp to listen and download for free. If like what you hear, please consider purchasing it for yourself or a loved one for any price you see fit.

Cuddling: A Win-Win For Cuddlers and Cuddlees.

Cuddling: A Win-winAt several children’s hospitals around the country, volunteers provide sick newborns with an essential service: cuddling. We all know the power of human touch can be life-saving, and although cuddling hasn’t been researched much, what we do know suggests that consoling infants is beneficial. Caring touch can reduce a baby’s stress levels, promote sleep, and reduce hospital stays.

Especially in a noisy, busy, and often stressful environment like an intensive care unit where mothers are dealing with medical complications or other children, it’s important that the newborns get the loving care and touch they need. It’s also critical that infants receive this loving attention in the first stages of life, so they can avoid the negative effects on brain development that can occur if they have negative experiences such as separation and stress.

Interestingly, cuddling doesn’t benefit only the babies; cuddlers report feeling happier and more fulfilled. It seems that loving human closeness is a win-win.  So, the next time you’re looking for volunteer work, consider cuddling a newborn at your local hospital. You’ll both feel good!

Image credit: Weird Beard via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

The Case For Driverless Cars. Part IV: The Hurdles

Mercedes Intelligent Drive Driverless CarThis article is the final part of a 4-part series in which I discuss that making driverless cars mandatory will be a good thing for our social well-being, the environment and economics, and lastly what hurdles may exist in the way of making driverless cars ubiquitous. Last week I wrote about the economics of driverless cars. In this final piece, I talk about some of the obstacles of a driverless car future and how to overcome them.

Hurdles to a driverless future

Any new technology that has the potential to shift how things have worked thus far will come under special scrutiny and face many obstacles, especially if it requires what people might consider as giving up some of their freedoms.

The biggest obstruction to driverless cars will be public perception, the biggest being the perceived right to drive. While we take it for granted, driving has never been a right. And even if it were, wouldn’t we want to give it up, as we have given up riding horses to get around, to glean the social, environmental and economic advantages of driverless cars?

The second and more valid concern is safety. While it is easy to imagine what could be, the safety of driverless cars is still undetermined. Replacing the unnecessary parts like the driving wheel, pedals, gear shifters and related automotive parts with second and third failsafe mechanisms will be a no brainer.

The software to manage all the various components of autonomous vehicles will need to be fool-proof and unhackable. It will need a high level of artificial intelligence to not only deal all the sensors that will be feeding it data about the environment, communication from other cars but also for heuristics to identify and fix or report issues before they become a problem.

And while there will be pushback from people against mandating driverless cars for public roads, legislators will need to recognize the greater good at stake in the long run and have the courage to make adequate laws transitioning us to an affordable driverless future.

Discouraging the rapid development of driverless cars and delaying their adoption will cost us socially, environmentally and fiscally.

What do you think? Should we hasten the driverless car future or halt it? Why? Let us know in the comments below.

In case you missed it:

Image credit: © Mercedes-Benz

Gift Economy Allows Abundance

everystockphoto-417134-h gift econWhat if you made trust your medium of business transactions? One Philadelphia-based web designer did just that, and the results have been “life-changing.”

Adrian Hoppel decided he would not charge money for his website designing skills; instead he would trust clients to pay what they felt was fair. Hoppel was fed up of a system that valued hard work for the smallest fee possible, so he decided on the gifting path. He read Sacred Economics and then started offering his services as gifts.

His results have been incredible. He created 22 websites in 2012 and was paid for every one of them; in many cases he was paid more than he would have been in the traditional market system. Now that’s uplifting!

In a recent interview, Hoppel states he and his wife, who has qualifications in engineering and law but directs a nonprofit, are working things out so they can support their family of four. It’s inspiring that this couple has placed trust and doing good at the heart of their professional lives. It takes courage, hope, and aligned action — qualities we can all admire in them, and strive to better embody in our own lives.

Source: Adrian Hoppel

Image credit: Tirch via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution. 

Vegan: The New Mainstream?

food-vegan-gourmet-47127-hThe plant-based lifestyle is increasingly in the news. Whether it’s Al Gore announcing he’ll be vegan for life, or Kathy Stevens predicting that America will be vegan by 2050, there’s new evidence everyday that more and more of us humans are drawn to a plant-based lifestyle.

Stevens lays out four reasons for her bold prediction: Americans are eating less meat, supermarkets are carrying more vegan options; so are restaurants, and mainstream philanthropists like Bill Gates are funding vegan startups.

Oh, and Hampton Creek Foods is going to take over the world—and with a mission to make food healthy for everyone, everywhere—well, why not?

The trend is not just that people are opting for vegan choices. The trend is that vegan options are becoming the new mainstream.

As badass music producer and Really Fresh Vegan entrepreneur Mickey Davis put it, “”We want to reach anybody who likes food, not just people who think of it as vegan food.” Because vegans are foodies too,  and set a high bar for flavor and quality (well some of us set a high bar for addressing climate change, lifestyle diseases, land degradation, water scarcity, and animal cruelty, but all that aside), the vegan trend is starting to catch on as cool, climate pun intended.

And the best part? The benefits are truly awesome. According to Davis, who spoke to Beyoncé and Jay-Z about vegan eating, “Even if you don’t do it the whole way, you can still see benefits.” Nuff said.

Image credit: Geoff Peters 604 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Best Offices Satisfy Core Human Needs

office digital-green-3122210-hOffice design across the world is undergoing a reframe that focuses on human needs, resulting in happier and more productive people. A CNN article summarizes the benefits and showcases examples from different parts of the globe, highlighting Google’s Super HQ in London, which was designed with human comfort and esthetic pleasure in mind. Besides comfort, Google offices are being designed with splashes of color and fun meeting spaces that inspire and encourage creativity. Spaces also keep changing at Google to avoid boredom.

Importantly, designers are finding that bringing nature into offices creates a physically and emotionally healthier environment, reducing stress and enhancing motivation. Amazon’s new office in Seattle will include glass orbs filled with plants. One company has gone even further, inserting its office into a forest: Selgas Cano placed a tube-like office with glass walls into in a forest, allowing natural light, and a view of insects, to inspire peaceful work.

Physical benefits of working with plants around us include a more humid atmosphere, which can lead to fewer respiratory illnesses. There are many other benefits, suggesting that as we reconsider our working environments, we must account for our needs for comfort, play, and our fundamental need to be close to the rest of nature.

Image credit: philcampbell via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution. 

Source: CNN

The Case For Driverless Cars. Part III: Economics

Google driverless carThis article is part 3 of 4 in which I will discuss that making driverless cars mandatory will be a good thing for our social well-being, the environment and economics, and lastly, what hurdles may exist in the way of making driverless cars ubiquitous. Last week I wrote about the environmental benefits of driverless cars. This week, I address how driverless cars will shift the paradigm of transportation economics.

Economics

By now, if you have read my other posts about driverless cars, it shouldn’t be hard to realize the many financial benefits that await the average citizen in a driverless future. The elimination of motor vehicle related death and injury, repair costs associated with accidents, more productive time during commutes, increase fuel efficiency and range, and cleaner air all highlight the great economic advantages of driverless cars.

As the world population increases and people need mobility to go about their respective businesses, be they professional or personal, we can’t just keep building more roads and using more fossil fuels, both of which require huge amounts of capital to sustain, if they can be sustained at all.

More cars on the road will mean more accidents, more fossil fuels consumed, more frequent maintenance of the roads and the infrastructure to support them. Driverless cars will greatly reduce some of these costs and completely eliminate others.

Robotic cars, more efficiently using the lanes available to them, and without the need for large buffer spaces between cars to account for human error, will require less road real estate. More efficient transportation systems that allow vehicles to move much faster will also encourage the use of road-based public transportation.

There will also be people and businesses who suffer. For example, people who drive for a living will no longer be needed, the need for car repair and maintenance shops will be greatly reduced, oil companies will see their profits plummet (boo hoo), lawyers who rely on motor vehicle accidents for their daily bread will lament, and billboard manufacturers and advertising mediums will lose business, to name a few.

Driverless cars will not replace conventional vehicles overnight. This will give ample opportunity for people whose jobs will be affected in the new autonomous vehicle future to transition to other employment.

It may seem scary now but these types of transitional shifts are always happening. Telegraph operators were replaced by the telephone, ice delivery men were eliminated by the refrigerator, email has greatly reduced the need for postal workers, and online shopping is eroding brick and mortar stores.

All of these advances in technology has meant a better standard of living for the general population and jobs eliminated more than a couple of generations ago are no longer even missed.

Next week, the finale of our series on driverless cars: hurdles we have to overcome before they become a reality.

Image credit:  mariachily via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

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