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7 Ways You Can Make 2015 A Life-Changing Year

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

This time of year, when overzealous diet and fitness resolutions are beginning to wane, it’s a great time to re-direct our focus to “real solutions” that can have a lasting impact in our lives. For me, this year’s focus is on the increasingly evident body-image crisis, particularly amongst younger generations.

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I recently read some disturbing statistics on this topic via the Huffington Post:

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  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls wish they were thinner (source: Collins, 1991)
  • 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of getting fat (source: Mellin et al, 1991)
  • in a survey of girls approximately 14-18 years :
    • more than 59% were trying to lose weight
    • in the last 30 days prior to survey, over 18% had starved themselves for a day or more to lose weight
    • 11.3% had used diet pills and 8.4% had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight
    • (source: CDC, 2004)

My immediate thought was of my 5-year old daughter and how hell-bent and determined I am to prevent her from being a part of those statistics (because I sure didn’t manage to avoid it myself, and it wasn’t much fun). My next thought was how everyone – parent or not – can be a part of preventing our future generations from perpetuating these statistics.

By now, we all know there’s a problem with the media – that images are being photo-shopped to portray unrealistic body proportions and impossibly flawless skin – but blaming the media doesn’t help the situation. We can’t control what’s in the media. We also can’t put our children in giant bubbles to prevent them from seeing T.V. or magazine ads, or from ever playing with a Barbie or Disney Princess doll. What we can do though, is look in the mirror and see what behaviours we’re modelling to our children.

Like it or not, our children are watching our every move, all the time – even when we don’t think they’re watching. Just like they learn our language by repeating our words, they also learn other patterns and behaviours, including those of self-love and acceptance (or lack thereof), by mimicking us. Our children’s body image will become a direct reflection of our own.

Now this is not an article aimed at blaming parents for all their children’s problems, but rather a call out to parents – myself included – to take responsibility. By taking responsibility, we have the control to change it – without guilt, shame or blame. We have the opportunity to impact the course of our children’s lives by taking responsibility for what they see, hear, feel and experience at home. We can directly influence how they see the world, and more importantly, themselves.

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By making the shift from blaming media and other outside sources, to taking responsibility for how we show up in our children’s worlds, we can more easily influence how they grow, hopefully into confident human beings who will focus on bigger and better things than the number they see on the scale, or the shape of their butts – perhaps on passions like saving the environment or endangered species, or ending world hunger.

Telling our children that they’re smart, talented, unique and beautiful just as they are, is important – but it’s simply not enough. We have to model it. They won’t just “do as we say” in this case; they will do as we do. So, from as early an age as possible, we need to start acting like the women (and men – because boys and men are just as susceptible to poor body image) we want our daughters (and sons) to grow up to be. It’s time to start breaking the pattern that we see repeating itself generation after generation – and in the process, help ourselves live out more fulfilling lives.

So let’s make 2015 a life-changing year, shall we?

Here are 7 quick “Do’s and Don’ts” on how to start doing this right away.

1) DON’T go to extremes.

This includes any dramatic change to your diet and fitness routines (i.e. eliminating any entire food group, or going from couch to “insanity”-style workouts). New Year’s Resolutions are typically made of these extreme endeavors, which is why most people fail to maintain them.

DO educate yourself and make small, realistic changes to your nutrition and fitness habits each and every week.

Ask yourself: “Can I do this (change) every day – or week – for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, then make the change smaller until it’s a yes. Remember to also plan or schedule it to ensure it gets done, until it becomes habit. If done consistently, by the end of this year, you will have made 52 positive, permanent changes. Is that not way better than 10 drastic, unsustainable ones that you have to repeat each and every January?

Note: When it comes to nutrition, adding healthy options is usually a much easier and more sustainable change than eliminating “bad” ones. When you start to feel healthier from choosing more nourishing options, the elimination of unsupported foods/habits usually comes naturally (although not an overnight process); but when we resolve to eliminate something altogether, that’s typically when we focus on it and want it more. Drastic is rarely sustainable.

What your children will learn from this:

Being active is a lifestyle (not just something you do a couple of times a year), and fitness is something you can build on over time to achieve better and better results. They’ll also learn that food is nourishing, and interesting, and even fun – not evil. By switching from a diet-mentality to one of nutrition (BIG difference), your children won’t be directly exposed to detrimental habits of deprivation and binge eating. Instead, they’ll learn balance.

Furthermore, if you’re continually adding new healthy foods into your weekly menu, trying new healthy recipes, and involving your kids in the process, they will not only learn the importance of nutrition, but they’ll also learn how to prepare healthy foods and make better food choices for themselves when you’re not around.

 2) DON’T use the F-word. Ever.

“Fat” is a word that NEVER gets used in our home (my daughter probably wouldn’t even know the meaning of it if someone asked her), unless it’s in reference to the healthy fats in my morning smoothie or homemade salad dressing. It’s become such a harmful and hurtful way to describe someone’s physical body – even when you’re talking about your own, and especially in front of your children. No matter how it’s said, even in humour, it’s harmful and can have a lasting effect on your children.

DO talk about feeling healthy and energetic.

Let’s face it, when we go over our healthy weight/size threshold, it usually comes with feelings of sluggishness and discomfort. Yet most complaints are about the excess weight or (f-word). Some people may also have concerns about their children’s weight. As parents, it’s our responsibility to stop complaining, and simply do something about it. Our children will model our behaviour.

What your children will learn from this:

Although they will no-doubt be exposed to this language outside of the home (whether around them or directed at them), what they learn at home will impact how they react and how they let it affect them. If their parents are not judging or giving their body labels, children will be more likely to express kindness, rather than judgement, towards their peers, and themselves – no matter what their size.

3) DON’T spend time nit-picking imperfections in the mirror.

Your children are watching, and will in turn begin to look for blemishes, wrinkles, and other things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

DO nurture your body and skin regularly.

Take care of yourself with good daily hygiene, and include regular pampering. Take a sea salt or lavender bath, cleanse with an occasional mud mask, get a pedicure, or whatever else makes you feel amazing. Make sure to treat yourself to pampering every week – it doesn’t have to cost money. Don’t forget to always remove makeup and moisturize before bed. Your skin will love you for it.

What your children will learn from this:

They’ll learn to take good care of themselves, and to focus on the things that make them feel good, not the things they don’t like. In short, they’ll learn to nurture, not nit-pick.

4) DON’T dress up or wear make-up everyday.

Of course there may be a professional reason for dressing up on weekdays, but whenever you can, step out the door with a “naked” face and comfortable clothes and notice how refreshing it feels – and how much time it saves! Show your children that you don’t “have” to dress up or make up your face every day.

DO dress regularly for play!

Put your hair in a bad ponytail, throw on your crappy jeans or p.j. pants and a t-shirt and get ready to play with your children – go to the park, or beach, or hiking trail, or just stay in your backyard. Be present with them, and pay no attention whatsoever to your hair, makeup, or clothes. Your primary goal is to have fun.

What your children will learn from this:

There’s more to life than looking good. In fact, sometimes you can have more fun when you’re dressed like crap because you don’t mind getting dirty.

Oh, and they’ll learn that mom’s actually pretty cool.

5) DON’T highlight your weaknesses.

Your children are listening! When you talk about the things you suck at, they will talk about the things they suck at, which is obviously counterproductive to lifting their self-esteem. We all suck at some things, even many things. Who cares. We are also amazing at other things. We can’t all be a jack-of-all-trades – and frankly who wants to be, it sounds exhausting – so stop giving attention to those things you don’t do well. If you have trouble with this, engage some supportive partners to stop you in your tracks when you start putting yourself down.

DO focus on your passions and strengths.

What you focus on expands. By making this one simple shift, you could go from being amazing at something, to being simply incredible/Ellen Show-worthy at that thing. Now that’s worth putting some effort into, isn’t it?

What your children will learn from this:

This one’s a no-brainer: they will learn to focus and build on their passions and strengths, and do way less of putting themselves down for the things they don’t do as well.

6) DON’T judge others – either by putting them down OR putting them on a pedestal.

Our children are learning from our every word.

DO point out the best in others, without glorifying them.

The beauty of being a parent and leading our children is that we have the freedom to choose what we draw their attention to – for example, we could point to a magazine and say how sickly thin a model looks (put-down-mode), or how enviously naturally-toned her legs are (pedestal-mode), or we can simply say “I love that gorgeous dress – it really suits her”. It’s all a choice – and by choosing the latter, we’re giving our children that same freedom.

What your children will learn from this:

There are unique and positive traits in everyone; yet no one is “better” than anyone else.

 7) DON’T weigh yourself more than once/week (MAX!).

It’s important to NOT give so much attention to the scale, or weight-loss as a goal in general. It’s definitely not the best measure of health, and can lead to obsessive behaviour (which, you guessed it, your children are watching). For most accurate physical results of your healthy efforts, use a tape measure. I also recommend keeping a daily journal of your overall energy level and mood (happiness) on a scale of 1-10. Because that’s the stuff that really matters.

DO hide your bathroom scale, so it’s not readily accessible to your children – or yourself.

If you absolutely must use it (which I really don’t advocate), bring it out only every 4-6 weeks to check in on your personal progress – and only every year for your children, to record their milestone weight. Or better yet, let the Dr. do that for you.

What your children will learn from this:

Nothing, hopefully. If they don’t see it, they won’t learn the habit and resulting negative impact of daily/hourly scale-gazing.

Could these seemingly small (but rather huge) steps actually lead to a “life-changing” year? I really do believe it. If we can release our addiction to fads, quick fixes and all that is “wrong” with ourselves and the world, and instead turn our attention to laying a positive body-image foundation for our children through our conscious, positive behaviours, we can not only change our own lives, but also have a lasting impact on theirs.

As Gandhi famously said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Whether you’re a parent, auntie/uncle, big sister/brother, babysitter, teacher or anyone else that has an influence on children – make it a positive one, and be the model of how you wish to see the children in your life grow and thrive in the world.

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Alternative News

Lebanese Hospital Becomes The World’s First To Go 100 Percent Vegan (Food)

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A hospital in Lebanon has become the first in the world to adopt a completely vegan menu.

  • Reflect On:

    Are people aware of the physical and emotional torture the majority animals we eat go through? Are people aware that a diet free of animal products can be very beneficial for human health. Are people aware that animal agriculture is destroying Earth?

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At the beginning of March, Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon became the first hospital in the world to serve 100 percent vegan only meals. Prior to this change, patients had a choice between animal based meals and vegan meals, and included with that was information about the health benefits of choosing plant-based foods versus the dangers of consuming animal products. The hospital made the announcement via their Instagram page, stating that “Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk, and eggs…the very food(s) that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place.”

When the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a group 1A carcinogenic (causes cancer) same group as tobacco and red meat as group 2A carcinogenic, then serving meat in the hospital is like serving cigarettes in a hospital. When the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) declare that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious disease comes from animals. When adopting a plant based exclusive diet has been successfully proven not only to stop the evolution of certain diseases but it can also reverse them. We then, have the moral responsibility to act upon and align our beliefs with our actions. Taking the courage to look at the elephant in in the eye.

Their various statements also point to the role that animal agriculture plays in spawning infectious diseases, citing the Centers for Disease Control’s estimate that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals. “We believe it’s well about time to tackle the root cause of diseases and pandemics, not just treat symptoms,” they note.

This was a great statement. The modern day medical industry only seems to be focused on medications, and only medications that can turn a hefty profit, to treat and cure disease instead of addressing root causes. It’s good to see things changing, but a big problem remains. If a plant that grows in abundance, for example, has the potential to cure a disease, will we ever hear about it? Will the medical industry be interested in it? Probably not, but when a drug is made and patented from that plant in a specific way, that’s when we will. This is not to say that modern day medicine is useless, but today now more than ever a big problem exists, and this problem may be killing more people than it’s helping.

Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), a Harvard professor of medicine and also a former Editor-in-Chief of NEMJ, was frustrated that “the medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” (source)

According to Forks Over Knives,

While Hayek is the first hospital to completely purge animal products from its menu, a number of hospitals have begun offering more plant-based options in recent years. Both New York and California have enacted laws requiring hospitals to offer a plant-based option with every meal. In 2018 NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue launched the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program to help patients transition to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

The American Medical Association passed a resolution in 2017 calling on U.S. hospitals to provide healthful plant-based meals to promote better health in patients, staff, and visitors. The American College of Cardiology has issued similar recommendations.

In my opinion, “veganism is a very fine form of nutrition” (Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, heart surgeon), and as mentioned above, there is plenty of science to back up that statement.  I’ve written about it many times before from a health perspective.

Here’s an article that goes into more detail and science if you’re interested, it also addresses history, and how our teeth and guts are designed and more. Here’s another one regarding a study that found a strong association between eating animal protein and a premature death from all causes, including multiple cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The studies cited in that article note that meat eating is strongly associated with up to a 75 percent increased chance of early mortality, and that protein from animals may cause harm, while protein from plants may help reverse disease and have a protective effect.

There are hundreds of these studies, and the ones I cite are just a few examples.

This is obviously a very controversial topic in the eyes of many, and it’s not hard at all to find conflicting information on the subject. I am no doubt bias in my beliefs and opinions here.

One thing is for certain, the way we treat animals on this planet is extremely heartbreaking and unnecessary. Animals are separated from their families, raised for slaughter and are kept in torturous conditions on a daily basis. It’s truly unbelievable and horrific. It’s the biggest genocide and example of both physical and emotional torture the world has ever seen. I don’t think anybody can witness what really goes on in most slaughterhouses can come out not being impacted.

On top of this, animal agriculture is one of, if not the greatest contributer to environmental degradation and pollution on our planet. Animal agriculture is actually the leading cause of deforestation. Every single day, close to 100 plant/animal/insect species are lost because of this practice.

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day it seems that, from a health perspective, processed meats, and other meats are no doubt harmful to human health. People can make the argument that other animal products may not be and that we are meant to consume them. People can also make the complete opposite argument. One thing that can’t be argued is, again, the torture, physical and emotional abuse that comprise the source of where animal products come from for the majority of people who eat them.

There is a big split, as with many other topics, amongst people on this issue. There are even vegan influencers who are creating splits within the ‘vegan community’ itself, which is unfortunate. I personally believe that, from a health perspective, animal products are not at all required for anybody and are again, overall, harmful to human health.

The more pressing issue, again, is the treatment of our animal brothers and sisters, and how we are constantly using and abusing them. It’s indicative of world that lacks empathy, compassion, understanding and love, as well as our inability to see ourselves in another. This can be seen in many aspects of the current human experience, be it war, human trafficking and more. That being said, it’s great to see human consciousness shifting towards a more compassionate, empathetic type of awareness. This is evident by the “vegan” movement alone, as it’s become quite large over the past few years and will continue to grow. Some of the biggest animal food producers have already gone out of business, and it’s great to see more people in the health community as well recognize that it’s a win for health, a win for environment, and most importantly, a win for the very emotional, intelligent, animals, who are similar to us in so many ways. We have so much to learn from them.

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Awareness

Caloric Restriction vs. Fasting: Why One Can Result In Weight Gain While The Other Helps Burn Fat

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CE Staff Writer 3 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the video below, Dr. Jason Fung explains the difference between caloric restriction and sending the body into "starvation" mode compared to fasting.

  • Reflect On:

    Fasting has been used as a health intervention for thousands of years, and is being used today by doctors who are educated on the topic. Why is it completely ignored by mainstream medicine? Is it because "big pharma" can't make any money off of it?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Some would say that the best solution to weight gain is eating right and exercising. I couldn’t agree more. Obesity is one of the deadliest problems humanity faces today, and just as important as diet and exercise is for addressing this issue, even more important are the emotional and personal reasons as to why so many people damage themselves and make themselves more prone to serious disease.

Apart from diet and exercise, initiating a proper fasting regimen can have tremendous health outcomes, especially for overweight people. It wasn’t but a decade ago when fasting to lose weight was considered unhealthy and dangerous. Today, we have a tremendous amount of science that’s been published clearly showing that fasting can be an effective health intervention for people of all body types, especially for people who are overweight and suffer from certain diseases. It’s an excellent way to help your body burn fat. Fasting has been used and is currently being used as an intervention for type two diabetes, cancer and more. Fasting has been shown to trigger stem cell regeneration, autophagy, which in turn can help clear out toxins and damaged cells, repair DNA, improve metabolism, lower blood sugar, boost brain function, reduce the risk of age related disease, lessen inflammation which improves a wide range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and more. It’s no wonder why so many ancient cultures from different parts of the world used fasting as medicine and as a health intervention.

As shown in the science, fasting is generally safe for everybody. This many not be true if you already have underlying health conditions or are taking certain medications. This is why it’s important to consult a health professional about it, but the issue is, the majority of health professionals are not well educated in fasting interventions. Those who have educated themselves have been treating their patients with fasting and are drawn to it due to its ability to provide so many benefits.

One of these doctors is Dr. Jason Fung, who on his blog and his YouTube channel, as well as the books he’s written provides a wealth of information and science regarding fasting. I often refer people to the work of Fung, or others like Dr. Valter Longo if they want to begin their own research about fasting. Again, there is a wealth of science and “scholarly” articles available on the subject for anybody who wants to search for it as well. It’s not heard to find.

In the video below, Fung explains why fasting is much different from caloric restriction or having your body go into “starvation mode.”  You can also check out his article, “The difference between calorie restriction and fasting” for some great information as well.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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Health

Study Suggests Risk of Death From Loneliness May Be Greater Than Obesity

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CE Staff Writer 5 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    According to a study at Brigham Young University, heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.

  • Reflect On:

    At the deeper levels, is "loneliness" the problem or is it our mindstate? Is it our perception of loneliness that's a problem? Some thrive with a lack of social interaction, that being said, most of us are indeed social beings who desire connection.

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Current evidence indicates that heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.

Loneliness can reliably be linked to a significant increase in the risk of early mortality, according to a study at Brigham Young University. Head author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, notes that “substantial evidence now indicates that individuals lacking social connections (both objective and subjective social isolation) are at risk for premature mortality.”

Holt-Lunstad believes the risks associated with loneliness are already greater than such established dangers as obesity:

Several decades ago scientists who observed widespread dietary and behavior changes raised warnings about obesity and related health problems. The present obesity epidemic had been predicted. Obesity now receives constant coverage in the media and in public health policy. The current status of research on the risks of loneliness and social isolation is similar to that of research on obesity 3 decades ago… Current evidence indicates that heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.

Furthermore, she warns that “researchers have predicted that loneliness will reach epidemic proportions by 2030 unless action is taken.”

Why Are We So Isolated From Each Other?

From the long view, it can be said that Western civilization as a whole has fostered a gradual disintegration of our physical and social ties. With an emphasis on individual goals and an almost fanatical regard for personal achievement, the traditional institutions of family and community and their capacity to provide their members with a sense of belonging and shared purpose have become significantly fragmented.

The family unit has gone from large generations-linked mutual support systems to small and immediate units, sometimes involving single parents whose necessities make it very difficult to create a stable home environment for their children. Add to that the fact that more and more people are not even building families, and our society has more people living alone than at any other time in history. This includes the elderly, who are less likely to find a ‘fit’ living within their children’s families than ever before.

The decline of the ‘community’ is perhaps as significant as the disintegration of the family unit. In Western-style communities, people work as a collection of individual units interacting by specific functions rather than as an interrelated whole with a significant shared identity. Naturally, attempts are made today to join or build ‘communities’ all the time, but like the Meetup model, they are founded on the gathering of select people with similar interests and purposes, rather than a shared embrace of all people within a certain geographical area.

The Rise of Social Media

I believe the rise in prominence of social media has in part been fuelled by the sense of alienation we have long felt within our modern society. I don’t believe social media is the root cause of our loneliness, as some speculate, but rather a symptom of this much longer-standing social problem. Connecting via chats and web pages is just something that we have gotten into the habit of reaching for since it is so immediately accessible. But like any quick fix, it does not end up fulfilling our deeper needs, either individually or as a society.

If we see that our society has been slowly disintegrating over hundreds of years, then it becomes incumbent upon us as a society (if we can still even identify ourselves with our ‘society’) to take measures to remedy this situation. What those measures might be, though, given how things seem to be trending, is a matter of great conjecture.

On Being Alone  

One approach is to first acknowledge that Western society’s emphasis on the individual is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I believe that the development of personal integrity, creativity, and autonomy is a critical step in the evolution of human consciousness. Learning how to be alone with oneself is a part of that process. In his work entitled Pensées, French philosopher Blaise Pascal observed that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

As evidenced by Eastern gurus and mystics, one can be perfectly content in isolation. This can be greatly facilitated by the practice of meditation and other such methods that give us a direct perception of our energetic connectedness not only with other people, but with all things. In this higher state, the damaging emotional impact of loneliness and social isolation are not experienced.

Our Next Step

Still, the life of the yogi remains for the few. The rest of us, it seems, have come to this planet to interact, share, and love. And we have not incarnated into this dense physical world to get better at virtual relationships. At this stage, we have perhaps gotten a bit too accustomed to social isolation for our own good.

Holt-Lunstad notes that “although living alone can offer conveniences and advantages for an individual, this meta-analysis indicates that physical health is not among them.” She also cites another study that “has demonstrated higher survival rates for those who are more socially connected.” And then there is the seminal 75-Year Harvard University study, where “it was universally clear that without loving and supportive relationships, men in the study were not happy.” The message is becoming clear: we need to come together.

We are perhaps at a larger turning point in our development than most of us realize. It seems that we have reached the extreme edge of the exploration of individualism, and we are readying to move into greater balance with a collective identity. This is not a return to traditional ways, but rather a synthesis of our growth as individuals with the shared experience we are now hungering for. This synthesis signifies the next stage of our evolution.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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