Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Big Thinkers - by Robin Cook

(As another collaborative work is in progress, today we bring you a piece written by Robin Cook from Finally Good News
Finally Good News is a blog that has a sole purpose of delivering good news to readers worldwide. Written and maintained by Robin Cook the blog intends to spread a little good, positiveness and sunshine into the hearts of all people.
We asked Robin to contribute on the topic of health and happiness and he wrote this specifically for us and we thank him for his efforts.)

Big Thinkers: Mary Roach and Andrew Weil on Holistic Health and Happiness

I'm a dedicated fan of online brands that expand personal horizons. So I confess to my shameless
love of, say, TED. I also enjoy Big Think, an online forum with a similar goal but more focused on the
short interview. In fact, my attitude is almost, well, religious.

For some religions, there's no such thing as flipping open the sacred text at a random page. What
seems like pure chance is actually a teachable moment. You'll never understand how it works.
You just need to be receptive to the lesson. So I feel the same away about reading content on
the Internet. I felt that when I saw interviews one after the next on Big Think with Mary Roach of
popular science-writing fame and positive thinking guru Andrew Weil that there must be a deep
reason for the proximity.

Roach's latest book is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. She has an amazing talent for
bringing the reader up close to human processes that we generally take for granted or appreciate
their "backstage" presence. Her approach, after all the amazing science is recounted with her
signature fun and insight, is that what is best for the body in a holistic diet. She writes that people
have a tendency to fixate on the quick fix. That is, "If I just remove this (gluten, for example) from
my diet everything will be fine and I’ll feel good." Roach isn't trying to make us neurotic about our
digestive tracts. She is simply arguing that eating natural foods across the board is a better strategy
than singling out one food item to obsess over. The obvious implication is that with a natural foods based diet one is more relaxed and happier.

The fact that Andrew Weil makes the same case one click away is, like I said, for me kind of a sign.
He begins with the unbelievable statistic that depression is an "unprecedented epidemic" in our
society. He contrasts the huge numbers of people (even children!) on antidepressant medication
with the fact that in agrarian societies depression is more or less non-existent. Obviously, a life
of farming can't be without its problems. There's the toil and unpredictability of the weather, for
starters. The Romans, or so I was once told, went to war to take a break from farming. But living off
the land also has its clear benefits.

The most important advantage to "going agrarian" is the connection to nature. That means a natural
sleep cycle, usually a tightly knit community, good exercise, and a natural diet. These factors make
the anxiety-filled life of city dwellers seem very artificial by comparison. The connection between
holistic living and happiness is easily appreciated from that perspective. We can still be happy
and live holistically in cities, but it's a challenge. Considering the increasing number of the world's
population moving into urban environments, we need to be ever more inventive in new ways to
apply holistic solutions to our lives so that we stay happy and hopeful for the future.

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