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Good thinking - Good thoughts

The Mayonnaise Jar - When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.........

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, without saying a word, he picked up the very large and empty mayonnaise jar that was in front of him and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and pouredGood thinking them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes".

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, " I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things, your God, your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favourite passions - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.

The sand is everything else - the small stuff.

"You see, if you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there's no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you'll never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out for nice romantic meals..

There will always be time to clean the house and put those pictures up in the lounge, or other similar things that you've been meaning to do for ages. "Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised their hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with friends!"

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Drains and Radiators
- Productivity, Energy, Self-belief - they're all affected by the balance of drains and radiators in your Life.

Here's some common and sound advice you may already have heard - there's two kinds of people - drains and radiators. Get rid of the drains in your life and find more radiators.

But how do you recognise the drains - and what do you do if they are a part of your life? And - (horror!) what if there are times when you act as a drain yourself?

Radiators
Radiators first - radiators are the people who put the life into the saying 'smile and the world smiles with you.' Radiators are infectious. They naturally make people feel good about themselves. They radiate their energy and enthusiasm like rays from the sun. They are inquisitive and playful but focused too. They have a cup half full mentality.

Drains
The drains are those people in your life who, one way or another, leave you feeling diminished after you've been with them. You know the feeling - you started off a conversation bright and positive and you came out of it dull, negative and frustrated, or maybe unexplainably cranky and irritable.

If you want to achieve below your potential, think badly of yourself and everyone else, and look for the cloud in every silver lining, the answer is easy, just surround yourself with drains.

The sad things about drains is that; a) they don't realise they're a drain; b) they don't actually gain the energy that gets drained away from their victims; and c) they drain their own energy too.

Here are a few of the more common draining strategies:

* They put you on the defensive - for instance, right at the start of your meeting they'll criticise something you've either done or haven't done. This is a tactic that's frequently employed by the ones you love most. And you will often feel a sense of dread and guilt just from thinking about talking with these people.

* They include you as one of their failure group - this is the kind of inclusion we can all do without.

* They point out the pitfalls and dangers of following your dreams and aspirations. It's a great way of killing your enthusiasm stone dead. Although this kind of 'advice' always seems to be given with the best of intentions, I'd argue that your success would be a real threat to the drain's comfortable acceptance of their own victim status.

* They demand one-way attention - and then drone on about topics that are of little interest to anyone but the drain.

* They top your problems with worse ones (usually their own) - and top your achievements with better ones (usually someone else's). When all you needed was to be heard and acknowledged, did you really think you'd get it from a drain? No chance.

The chances are that you do have drains in your life. Your first lines of defence are definitely recognition and awareness. If the drain is someone with whom you can easily minimise contact then recognition is probably all you need.

If you monitor your energy levels, your self-esteem and your negative emotions you'll soon figure out who the drains are. If you want more data, then monitor how you feel when you are planning to see them. Once you begin to look it becomes very obvious - so obvious you'll wonder how you never spotted it before.

Awareness is useful when you have to be, or want to be in contact with the drain, for instance, someone you love deeply like a parent or sibling. Spotting their favoured strategies is vital. Once you understand them, you may wish to try some of the following approaches. You'll need to be patient and careful but over time you can make a real difference:

* Give yourself some armour against their weapons. How? By first understanding their effect and then steeling yourself against them. Attitude is everything here: you can simply refuse to be drained.

* Turn your encounters into a humorous game. Again, attitude is important. Wait for the attempts at drainage to begin, and be amused by the process.

* Refuse to play their game or accept their terms of engagement. This one can take some perseverance and tact, especially if the drain is a loved one. But by consciously changing your typical response - or by pre-empting their usual strategies, it's possible to reshape the relationship into a more positive one.

Finally, remember that you also have a responsibility not to drain others. Don't drain or be drained.

Do fill your life with all the positive thoughts and energy that come from being among the radiators. It's actually a very simple strategy for life - but an extremely powerful one indeed.

Building a positive attitude - What do you do when you want to change for the better but find yourself getting stuck in negative thought patterns, always expecting the worst? It's a common mind-set and happens to us all occasionally. The problem happens when you decide you've had enough of this kind of thinking but it has become so much of a habit it proves very difficult to change. As far as the law of attraction goes, that which you think about expands. Negative thoughts have a tendency to multiply, take hold and take over, sabotaging your efforts to change

However, the good news, is that turning negative thought patterns into positive ones is a real possibility. It just takes some awareness and a bit of practice, patience and persistence by focusing on thoughts that are better than the negative ones until the positive thoughts in turn begin to expand and take over.

Here are some actions you can take on a daily basis to build a positive attitude:

Start to develop your self-awareness. Negative thoughts often form below your conscious level of awareness. You get so used to them being in your head that you hardly notice anymore. To turn the tide of negativity, you need to develop a deeper level of self-awareness. Notice where you are putting your focus. Catch your negative thoughts. Check yourself several times a day. Pay attention first to how you feel. If you're feeling negative, irritable, pessimistic or stressed, then choose a thought that feels better, or change your focus to something that uplifts you.

Now that you are aware of them you can challenge and change the negative thoughts. Believe it or not, it's fairly easy to do, with a little willpower and concentration. For example, if you find yourself feeling doubtful about being able to finish your work on time, you might engage in a bit of self-talk like this: "Okay, so I'm feeling a bit stressed right now, but deep down I know everything is okay. I'm strong, smart and capable. I'll relax and do my best and everything will work out fine." What you say to yourself with your inner voice silently governs everything you do and ultimately how well you do it. Even though nothing has changed in your outer circumstances, this type of inner self-talk can result in you thinking and feeling more positively.

Work daily on developing a general positive expectation habit. Each day when you wake up, change the inner voice that is inside your head. Affirm confidently, "Today is going to be a great day! Everything will be easy and enjoyable!" Imagine how that feels. Putting emotion into your affirmations makes them more powerful.

Instead of seeing something as an obstacle or problem, see it as an exciting challenge or an opportunity to learn and grow. Perception is 99% of the game! If you work at shifting the way you look at the experiences of your life, you'll be surprised at how quickly your negative thought habits will dissolve. We are always attracting into our lives more of where we are in our current state of being. When you are positive you have happy thoughts, say positive things, do happy and positive things, attracting happy and positive people, and happy and positive circumstances and your reality is happy. On the other hand, when you're in a negative state of anger, for example, you think angry thoughts, say angry things, take angry actions and your whole experience is that the whole world is angry.

The more you change your focus towards emphasizing the positive, the more you empower yourself and before you know it, you'll be naturally enjoying a much better and more satisfying quality of life.

Depression - Very often, depression is the reaction to a stressful situation, such as loss of a job, a divorce or death of someone close. In such cases, it is very important to eat nutrient-dense foods and take extra care of the immune system, otherwise resistance to disease could be lowered. Equally, the advice about counteracting the effects of stress in the section on this page about anxiety and panic attacks should be helpful. If depression is deep, then assistance must be sought quickly from your doctor or a qualified counsellor.
Sometimes there seems to be no particular reason for feelings of lethargy and gloom, in which case, a nutritional deficiency could be the cause. Shortage of B-complex vitamins, especially thiamin, pyridoxine and folic add, or of magnesium, can produce such feelings. If you are on the contraceptive pill and feeling generally low, then this is an indication that you are in need of vitamins B2 and B6. Supplements of pyridoxine will also alleviate premenstrual depression.
It's well worth having blood-sugar levels checked, as hypoglycaemia is a surprisingly common cause of depression and frequently undiagnosed. Check also for possible food intolerances, which can often make you feel grim. See under 'Allergies' on one of the links further below, for foods to exclude. Wheat is a particular suspect.
If certain neurotransmitters in the brain are at a low ebb, then depression can follow. To boost their levels the amino acids that act as their precursors can be taken, namely tyrosine or L-phenylalanine. Try around 500mg daily for a fortnight and maintain a good protein intake, especially fish. You will need extra vitamins B6 and C to aid in the conversion process, so take wheatgerm and eat plenty of citrus and berry fruits, also fresh salads.
Remember that exercise can shift moods because endorphins, our happiness hormones, are released into the bloodstream.

Hyperactivity - The prevalence of sweets and soft drinks in vending machines and at check-out points in supermarkets are a real menace to parents who are trying to encourage their youngsters to eat healthily. Sugar and artificial colourings and other additives affect certain mechanisms in the central nervous system, resulting in behavioural problems in children, especially hyperactivity. The child is unlikely to be able to concentrate or sit still, is always restless and maybe aggressive and easily frustrated. It's very important to resist refined, processed and junk foods and drinks totally, and switch to a wholefood diet, but even so, it may be some months before a real improvement is noticed, but is well worth persevering.
If the child drinks a lot of milk, a magnesium deficiency is suspect since this mineral must be in balance with calcium intake. Junk-food diets can also lead to shortages of B vitamins, especially B1, B3 and B6 and of the minerals zinc and iron. A daily multivitamin and mineral tablet will therefore boost the effectiveness of the wholefood programme.
Supplements of evening primrose oil at between 1.5 and 3g daily have led to improvements in many cases.

Epilepsy - Epileptic fits are caused by an electrical disturbance in certain neurons. They can be very dramatic and frightening to witness as the sufferer collapses unconscious on to the floor and then goes into convulsions. In such cases obstacles should be moved out of the way to avoid injury and the patient laid on his or her side so that the tongue is not swallowed.
The nutritional status of the patient needs to be checked, as deficiencies may make seizures more likely. There is a particular connection between low manganese and convulsions, so the diet needs to be rich in green leafy vegetables, legumes and whole cereals. Shortages of vitamin B6 and magnesium are also suspect, which can be corrected by the inclusion of brewer's yeast, yeast extract, wheat-germ, oily fish, nuts and soya products. If pyridoxine is taken in supplementary form, then it must be balanced with the other B vitamins, especially B2 and pantothenic acid.

Note that evening primrose oil should not be taken by epileptics as it may very occasionally trigger fits.

Since hypoglycaemics are more susceptible to epilepsy, it's crucial that they follow a natural diet, without any colourings, preservatives or additives, if you follow any of the menus on the health-giving diet, from one of the links further down below, you will be giving yourself the best chance.

Migraine and other headaches - Migraine sufferers, when having a migraine attack, usually experience their complexion turning deathly white and breaking out in a sweat. They often complain of flashing lights and severe pain which nothing can alleviate except prolonged rest. Sometimes, the migraine lasted for several days and was extremely debilitating. Any noise can make the symptoms of migraine even worse, so best to keep everything quiet at this stage.
Nowadays, most  good doctors are aware of the connection with foods containing tyramine, a toxin derived from the amino acid tyrosine. This occurs naturally in chocolate, yeast extract, cheese, liver and sausages, also broad beans and pickled herrings, all of which should be avoided by the migraine sufferer as they can trigger an attack. The pain is caused by the blood vessels in the brain alternately constricting and dilating. Normal dilation is dependent on the availability of B vitamins, so make sure you have sufficient, especially niacin (see the nutrition section from the link further down below). Yeast-free B-complex tablets are available from health food stores.

Other food intolerances can also provoke migraine headaches and the patient needs to go on an exclusion diet to discover what these are (see the 'Allergies' link below). Apart from the above foods, tea, coffee, cola and alcohol (in particular red wine) must be cut out, also sugar and any food additives. Coffee actually prevents the brain's own natural pain-relieving hormones from working effectively. Other suspects can be wheat or milk, or even citrus fruits or bananas. It makes sense not to risk smoking.
More recent research has indicated that the blood platelets of migraine patients are unusually sticky. Eat plenty of fish therefore and take at least 500mg of vitamin C daily, also, evening primrose oil (about 2g) or linseed oil, plus a little vitamin E, all of which will help to thin the blood, as will ginger.
Some migraines may be initiated by low magnesium, so supplements of this mineral will alleviate this type.
Cluster headaches, in which the pain is often experienced on one side behind the eye, can also be induced by the food intolerances described above.
Premenstrual women sometimes suffer headaches due to water retention in the brain tissues. Supplements of vitamin B6 can relieve this. Equally, women on the contraceptive pill need more pyridoxine.
A headache can often be a symptom of stress, so it's always important to practise deep relaxation and meditation which can provide relief. Acupressure on points at the nape of the neck below the skull either side of the spine, and beneath the eyebrows towards the inner corners of the eyes, can also be successful.
A natural way to control pain is through the amino acid phenylalanine, which enhances the effect of the body's own morphine-like substances called endorphins. It's best taken as DLPA complex with vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, all of which, help the body to use it efficiently. It's also well worth trying the herb feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, which helps to maintain a correct balance of the hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins. These control many body functions, including blood flow. Patients have reported a reduction in nausea and vomiting on 50mg daily (or 2 and a 1/2 fresh leaves), also fewer, less severe attacks. Take with food for up to 14 days only. Neither of these remedies are recommended for pregnant women, however. Supplements of bioflavonoids have been found to reduce the pain of some sufferers.

Anxiety and panic attacks - Enid had always been highly strung, but after her husband left her, her anxiety became all-consuming. Her waking life became full of dread. Each time she got into the car she was convinced she would have an accident, and whenever she left the house she imagined it being invaded by burglars. Shopping became a real nightmare. One day, as she was wheeling a trolley around the supermarket, she was overwhelmed with a terrible sense of impending doom. The packets on the shelves blurred into a crazy jumble of colours and her chest felt constricted so that she could scarcely catch her breath. She felt dizzy and clung on to the trolley for support, convinced that she would collapse on to the floor and die of heart failure. A kind shop assistant noticed that she looked ill and found her a chair, but it was a good quarter of an hour before she recovered sufficiently to stand up again. After that, she became terrified of going out on her own, fearful that another panic attack would overtake her and that she would be unable to reach home.

Such attacks are the result of an over-stressed system and it is exceedingly important to identify and reduce sources of strain, at the same time practising deep physical relaxation and meditation to lower overall stress levels. A counsellor can help with difficult problems. It's also important to understand that a panic attack will not of itself cause death and that any chest pain is generally the result of tension. Knowing this, will at least lessen the fear of an attack. Nevertheless it's sensible to see a doctor for a check-up.

When the body goes into a state of alarm from some sort of stress signal such as fear, adrenaline and other hormones are released into the bloodstream which increase the heart rate and make extra energy available for instant action. Modern life offers little in the way of physical outlets for stress, however, since you can rarely run away from your problems, nor should you attack people who cause you the anxiety. So the stress becomes directed inwards and physical ailments can result from the damage, some very serious. Because the metabolic rate increases, the demand for nutrients goes up, especially for ascorbic acid, also potassium, phosphorus and calcium. Vitamin C can be protective against stress and a supplement of at least 500mg daily is recommended. It's prudent to eat a very healthy diet (see the health-giving diet from the link further below) when under any strain.

When dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, certain nutrients can have an excellent calming effect, especially vitamin B1 (thiamin) and pantothenic acid - wheatgerm and brewer's yeast are therefore good anti-anxiety foods. Magnesium and calcium in a one-to-two ratio will help you feel more relaxed and a combined supplement should be of assistance. Soya products, nuts, dark-green vegetables, whitebait and whole sardines, cottage cheese and figs are all good foods for anyone suffering from anxiety or stress.

It is inadvisable to take caffeine-containing beverages, as these will increase anxiety. Drink camomile tea instead which has a mildly tranquillizing effect. Although alcohol is often taken to mitigate stress, it merely depletes the system even further and adds to the overall burden.

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