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Archive for November 9, 2010

10 Natural Memory Loss Remedies

10 Natural Memory Loss Remedies

10 Natural Memory Loss Remedies

Memory loss is one of the downers of getting older. If life were fair, more rich experiences would mean more rich memories. But, of course, the brain ages too, and its ability to retain and relish often wanes.

There are, however, some great natural ways to bolster your brain’s ability to remember. Here they are:

Eat Regularly — The brain is only 2-3 percent of the body’s weight, but takes up 20 percent of its energy, so giving it the fuel it needs helps it function optimally.

Super Foods — Spinach, strawberries and blueberries are called “super foods” because they strengthen the brain. Eat lots of them.

Drink Hot Beverages — Tea and coffee stimulate the brain and help it access memories more effectively.

Avoid Alcohol – Like it or not, booze is bad for the brain’s memory banks.

Take Vitamins — A good regimen of supplements, especially folic acid, will help you remember better.

Herbalize — A variety of herbs, such as gingko biloba, have been shown to help improve memory retention.

Stress Less — Trying to alleviate stress in your life, through relaxation or meditation, helps your brain retain.

Play More Games — Mental games, like crossword puzzles and Sudoku, sharpen your faculties.

Exercise — Many reasons to do this, one of which is it keeps your brain healthy.

Get Regular Sleep — Getting your slumbers on a regular schedule is good for your noggin.

You can read more in-depth description and medical citations about these remedies at LifeScript.com.

Bottom line: A life full of activities that strengthen your mind is a life more fully lived and more finely recalled.

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At Tonic, we also see ourselves as a service company — one that strives not only to inspire our readers, but to equip them with the resources to make a difference.

6 Surprising Things That Affect Your Brain

6 Surprising Things That Affect Your Brain

Brain scientists in recent years have discovered a number of surprising ways that the brain influences our overall health, as well as how our behavior influences the health of our brain. And unlike in the days of old — when scientists believed the brain was “fixed” after childhood, only to start an inexorable decline in the middle to later years — today, research is showing that the brain is perfectly capable of changing, healing and “rewiring” itself to an unexpected degree.

It turns out that the age of your brain may be a lesser influence on its structure than what you do with it. Pursuits that require intense mental focus, like language learning, “switch on” the nucleus basalis, the control mechanism for neuroplasticity.

In short, neuroplasticity means you have some control over your cranial fitness. While brain function naturally deteriorates somewhat as you age (though not nearly as much as you might think), various strategic approaches can create new neural pathways and strengthen existing ones as long as you live. What’s more, these efforts to build a better brain can deliver lasting rewards for your overall health.

Your Thoughts Affect Your Genes

We tend to think of our genetic heritage as a fait accompli. At our conception, our parents handed down whatever genetic legacy they inherited — genes for baldness, tallness, disease or whatever — and now we’re left playing the hand of DNA we were dealt. But, in fact, our genes are open to being influenced throughout our lifetime, both by what we do and by what we think, feel and believe.

The new and growing field of “epigenetics” studies extra-cellular factors that influence genetic expression. While you may have heard that genes can be influenced by diet and exercise, many researchers are now exploring the ways that thoughts, feelings and beliefs can exert the same epigenetic effect. It turns out that the chemicals catalyzed by our mental activity can interact with our genes in a powerful way. Much like the impacts of diet, exercise and environmental toxins, various thought patterns have been shown to turn certain genes “on” or “off.”

The Research
In his book The Genie in Your Genes (Elite Books, 2009), researcher Dawson Church, PhD, explains the relationship between thought and belief patterns and the expression of healing- or disease-related genes. “Your body reads your mind,” Church says. “Science is discovering that while we may have a fixed set of genes in our chromosomes, which of those genes is active has a great deal to do with our subjective experiences, and how we process them.”

One recent study conducted at Ohio University demonstrates vividly the effect of mental stress on healing. Researchers gave married couples small suction blisters on their skin, after which they were instructed to discuss either a neutral topic or a topic of dispute for half an hour. Researchers then monitored the production of three wound-repair proteins in the subjects’ bodies for the next several weeks, and found that the blisters healed 40 percent slower in those who’d had especially sarcastic, argumentative conversations than those who’d had neutral ones.

Church explains how this works. The body sends a protein signal to activate the genes associated with wound healing, and those activated genes then code blank stem cells to create new skin cells to seal the wound. But when the body’s energy is being “sucked up” by the production of stress biochemicals like cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine, like it is during a nasty fight, the signal to your wound-healing genes is significantly weaker, and the repair process slows way down. By contrast, when the body is not preparing for a perceived threat, its energy stores remain readily available for healing missions.

Why It Matters to You
Just about every body comes equipped with the genetic material it needs to deal optimally with the physical challenges of daily life, and the degree to which you can maintain your mental equilibrium has a real impact on your body’s ability to access those genetic resources. While habits of mind can be challenging to break, deliberate activities like meditation (see the following studies) can help you refashion your neural pathways to support less reactive thought patterns.

Chronic Stress Can Prematurely Age Your Brain

“There’s always going to be stress in the environment,” says Howard Fillit, MD, clinical professor of geriatrics and medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine and executive director of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. “But what’s damaging is the distress we feel internally in response to it.”

Fillit’s distinction points to the bodywide reaction our bodies experience when we routinely respond to stress by going into fight-or-flight mode. In our brains, the stress response can cause memory and other aspects of cognition to become impaired, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and accelerated memory loss with aging. One thing that can happen is you can start feeling a lot older, mentally, than you are.

“Patients come in complaining of faulty memory and wonder if they’re beginning to get Alzheimer’s,” says Roberta Lee, MD, vice-chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center and author of The Superstress Solution (Random House, 2010). “Their workups and MRI scans look normal. In the interview, I ask them about their lifestyle and almost invariably they have compounded stress.”

The Research
Studies at the University of California–San Francisco have shown that repeated instances of the stress response (and their accompanying floods of cortisol) can cause shrinkage of the hippocampus — a key part of the brain’s limbic system vital to both stress regulation and long-term memory. Call it the downside of neuroplasticity.

Why It Matters to You
Aside from the obvious — no one wants his or her brain to age faster than it’s already going to — this research matters because it suggests that you have some influence over the rate of your own cognitive change.

To protect the brain from cortisol-related premature aging, Lee suggests building stress disruptors into your regular routine: “A five-minute period in the middle of every day during which you do absolutely nothing — nothing! — can help a lot, especially if you are consistent about it,” she says.

Her other recommendations include eating breakfast every day — complex carbohydrates (whole grains, veggies) and some protein. “Breakfast helps your metabolism feel like it won’t be stressed — caught up in a starvation-gluttony pattern,” she explains.

And when anxiety does strike, a good way to initiate the relaxation response is her “four-five breath” routine: breathing in through the nose to a count of four, then out through the mouth to a count of five. “Repeat it four times and you’ll feel the relaxation,” she says. “Best of all, do the four breaths twice daily, at the beginning and end of the day.”

Meditation Rewires Your Brain

Meditation and other forms of relaxation and mindfulness not only change your immediate state of mind (and, correspondingly, your biochemical stress level and gene expression), they also can alter the very structure of your brain. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, cofounder of the San Francisco–based Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, has extensively studied the effect of meditation on the brain, with a particular focus on how neuroplasticity allows for permanent changes for the better in your gray matter.

The Research
“Of all the mental trainings — affirmations, psychotherapy, positive thinking, yoga — the one that has been far and away the most studied, in terms of effects on the brain, is meditation,” Hanson says. Some of the most prominent research has come from the collaboration between French-born Buddhist monk and author Matthieu Ricard and University of Wisconsin–Madison neuroscientist Richard Davidson, PhD. Their studies have shown that a high ratio of activity in the left prefrontal areas of the brain can mark either a fleeting positive mood or a more ingrained positive outlook.

Brain-imaging tests have shown that Ricard and other veteran Buddhist meditators demonstrate initial heightened activity in this region, along with a rapid ability to recover from negative responses brought on by frightening images shown to them by researchers. This suggests that their long-term meditation practice has helped build brains that are able to not just enjoy but sustain a sense of positive well-being, even in stressful moments.

Why It Matters to You
“Stimulating areas of the brain that handle positive emotions strengthens those neural networks, just as working muscles strengthens them,” Hanson says, repeating one of the basic premises of neuroplasticity. The inverse is also true, he explains: “If you routinely think about things that make you feel mad or wounded, you are sensitizing and strengthening the amygdala, which is primed to respond to negative experiences. So it will become more reactive, and you will get more upset more easily in the future.”

By contrast, meditative practices stimulate the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain’s outermost layer that controls attention (this is how meditation can lead to greater mindfulness, Hanson explains), as well as the insula, which controls interoception — the internal awareness of one’s own body. “Being in tune with your body via interoception keeps you from damaging it when you exercise,” Hanson says, “as well as building that pleasant, simple sense of being ‘in your body.’” Another plus of a strong insula is an increased sensitivity to “gut feelings” and intuitions and greater empathy with others.

Perhaps best of all, meditation develops the circuitry in the left prefrontal cortex, where the unruffled monks showed so much activity. “That’s an area that dampens negative emotion, so you don’t get so rattled by anger or fear, shame or sorrow,” Hanson says.

“Deciding to be mindful can alter your brain so that being mindful is easier and more natural,” he explains. “In other words, you can use your mind to change your brain to affect your mind.”

Your Brain Learns By Doing

The mirror neuron system is the name for those regions of the brain with synapses that fire whether you’re actually doing or merely watching an action — as long as you’ve done it previously. Doing an action lays down neural connections that fire again when you watch the same action. This accounts for the connection you feel when viewing a sport you’ve played, or why you wince when you see someone else get hurt.

The Research
Giacomo Rizzolatti and his colleagues in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Parma in Italy first noted the mirror effect while studying the brains of macaque monkeys. When a monkey was watching one of the researchers pick up a peanut, the same neurons fired as if the monkey — likely a seasoned peanut gatherer — had picked up the nut itself. The researchers labeled these specific cells “mirror neurons.” In the human brain, entire regions light up in response to a familiar action; this endows us with a full-fledged mirror system.

Why It Matters to You
The existence of the mirror system helps explain why learning a new skill is easier if you try doing it early in life. This includes doing it clumsily, rather than hanging back watching your instructor or a video until you think you “have it.” Watching before you try means that you will probably see very little; watching after you try will engage the mirror system, increasing your brain’s power to “get it.”

As London-based neuroscientist Daniel Glaser, PhD, puts it, “When you look at something you have done before, you are actually using more of your brain to see it, so there’s a richer information flow. Until you started playing tennis, you couldn’t see the difference between a good topspin stroke and a bad one; after a few weeks of practice, when your coach demonstrates the stroke, you really get it visually. And you can thank the mirror system for that.”

The mirror system is also what endows you with the empathic ability to feel the pain or joy of others, based on what you register on their faces. “When we see someone else suffering or in pain, mirror neurons help us to read her or his facial expression and actually make us feel the suffering or the pain of the other person,” writes UCLA neurologist Marco Iacoboni, MD, PhD, in his book, Mirroring People (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). “These moments, I will argue, are the foundation of empathy.”

Growing Older Can Make You Smarter

For some time, the prevailing view of a brain at midlife was that it’s “simply a young brain slowly closing down,” observes Barbara Strauch. But she notes that recent research has shown that middle age is actually a kind of cranial prime time, with a few comedic twists thrown in for fun.
“Researchers have found that — despite some bad habits — the brain is at its peak in those years. As it helps us navigate through our lives, the middle-age brain cuts through the muddle to find solutions, knows whom and what to ignore, when to zig and when to zag,” she writes. “It stays cool. It adjusts.”

The Research
Brain scientists used to be convinced that the main “driver” of brain aging was loss of neurons — brain-cell death. But new scanning technology has shown that most brains maintain most of their neurons over time. And, while some aspects of the aging process do involve losses — to memory, to reaction time — there are also some net gains, including a neat trick researchers call “bilateralization,” which involves using both the brain’s right and left hemispheres at once.

Strauch cites a University of Toronto study from the 1990s, soon after scanning technology became available, that measured the comparative ability of young and middle-age research subjects to match faces with names. The expected outcome was that older subjects would do worse at the task, but not only were they just as competent as younger subjects, PET scans revealed that, in addition to the brain circuits used by the younger crowd, the older subjects also tapped into the brain’s powerful prefrontal cortex. As some of their circuits weakened, they compensated by using other parts of the brain.

Ultimately, this means the effects of age caused them to use — and strengthen — more of their brains, not less.

Why It Matters to You
Gene Cohen, MD, PhD, who directs the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University Medical Center, notes that this ability to use more of your cognitive reserves strengthens your problem-solving ability as you enter the middle years, and it makes you more capable of comfortably negotiating contradictory thoughts and emotions. “This neural integration makes it easier to reconcile our thoughts with our feelings,” he wrote in “The Myth of the Midlife Crisis” (Newsweek, Jan. 16, 2006). Like meditation, the middle-age tendency toward bilateralization seems to promote your ability to stay cool under pressure.

There are things you can do to amplify this increased strength. “Our brains are built to roll with the punches,” Strauch writes, “and better — or more carefully cared for — brains roll best.” Studies show multiple ways to build long-term brain health: from healthy eating, exercise and conscious relaxation to active social bonds, challenging work and continuing education. Good advice, it would seem, for a brain at any age.

A Teenage Brain is Wired Differently

While it was once thought that the brain’s architecture was basically set by age five or six, New York Times medical science and health editor Barbara Strauch explains her book The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries About the Teenage Brain Tell Us About Our Kids (Anchor, 2003), new research shows that the teen brain is “still very much a work in progress, a giant construction project. Millions of connections are being hooked up; millions more are swept away. Neurochemicals wash over the teenage brain, giving it a new paint job, a new look, a new chance at life.”

The neurochemical dopamine floods the teen brain, increasing alertness, sensitivity, movement, and the capacity to feel intense pleasure; it’s a recipe for risk-taking. And, as anyone who has tried to rouse a sleepy teen should appreciate, brain chemicals that help set sleep patterns go through major shifts.

Knowing about these brain gyrations in young people can help parents be a little more patient and tolerant—and they offer some opportunities too.  As Jay Giedd told PBS’s Frontline, “If a teen is doing music or sports or academics [during this period of brain change and consolidation], those are the cells and connections that will be hardwired. If they’re lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going to survive.”

By Jon Spayde, Experience Life

Jon Spayde is a writer, editor and performer based in St. Paul, Minn.

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelifemag.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

The Best Places to Grow Old

The Best Places to Grow Old

It’s high time to sell the big family home and relocate to somewhere a bit more — peaceful? Affordable? Friendly? Cultured? We all have different needs when it comes to choosing the ideal location to live out our later years. Here, ten things to consider when it comes to planning out your “second life.”

1. Access to medical care
One of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing where to live out their later years is neglecting to ensure they have access to complete, modern medical services, says Daniel Brady, chief of community programming for the Miami Jewish Health System. “People have this idealized view of what their retirement will be like,” he says. “They picture somewhere picturesque and serene, and before you know it they’re out at the end of a country road with the nearest hospital 25 miles away.” Then when illness strikes, which it’s likely to do during the later years, there’s no system in place to manage treatment.

What to look for? Make sure the area you choose has a full-service hospital or medical facility that can provide care for any kind of chronic or acute illness, including chemotherapy or radiation for cancer, cardiac care and rehabilitation, diabetes management, and other types of geriatric services, such as Alzheimer’s expertise. If you don’t have access to these services, chances are high that you’re going to regret your move at some point. “Just as with disaster planning, you want to plan for the worst — then you can hope for the best,” says Brady.

2. Low-cost housing options
Affordable housing is an essential factor in choosing where to live when you’re on a fixed income or need to make your retirement savings last. Sell a $300,000 home and move into one costing $150,000, and you’ve not only cut your costs in half but put an equal amount into savings. Of course, this does tend to mean moving away from popular urban areas on the East and West coasts. But as recent real estate data attests, baby boomers are also finding ways to stay in their beloved urban centers by learning to live in much smaller spaces. In the past few years, many cities have built or are building condo and loft developments aimed at active seniors, and they’re proving extremely popular.

When calculating your cost of housing, experts say, look at a number of factors beyond simply the real estate itself. Property taxes, heating costs, and homeowners insurance all contribute to how much you’re paying to put a roof over your head.

3. At least one great bookstore
Sure, it sounds odd, at first, to focus on such a small detail, but many experts in senior relocation have learned to use this factor as a bellwether. Why? Because great independent bookstores are cultural hubs, offering classes, sponsoring author talks, and functioning as gathering places for like-minded people. The presence of a good bookstore also says a lot about the more subtle qualities of a town’s population, especially if you’re looking to settle where you’re likely to find interesting people. After all, a town has to have at least a reasonable number of cultured, intellectually curious people to sustain the bookstore over time.

4. Overall affordability
The people who study retirement affordability have many different calculations and indexes that they use to evaluate the cost of living in various communities and geographic areas. The cost of housing is a primary factor, of course, but the cost of transportation and other services can be equally or more important. Then there’s the fact that some states don’t have any sales tax, while other areas tack on as much as 10 percent per purchase.

And the cost of medical and dental services varies much more than most people realize, says the Miami Jewish Health System’s Daniel Brady. Surgery in a big-city teaching hospital, for example, could set you back 40 percent more than the same surgery in a community hospital. Towns like Tucson, Arizona; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Des Moines, Iowa rate high on the overall affordability meter.

5. A strong job market for second-career job seekers
This is an increasingly important factor for baby boomers looking to settle down for the second half of life but not ready to pull out the recliner just yet. The criteria for this one are pretty straightforward: You want a town with below-average unemployment. Oklahoma City always wins on this count, with the lowest unemployment of any urban area in the U.S.

It also helps if an area specializes in particular industries that tend to fit with your job skills and work history. Capital cities like Madison, Wisconsin, and Sacramento, California, are strong in government jobs, which tend to offer good options for older workers. And cities like Richland, Washington, and Austin, Texas, in which there are new or growing industries and service sectors, are more welcoming to older job seekers as well.

6. Good weather
What constitutes good weather is largely a matter of personal taste; some people want to ski all winter while others can’t stand the thought of not seeing fall color. But by and large, when you look at the criteria that experts use to pick the best places for retirement or aging, they tend to be in the sun belt and other areas with mild winters. And that makes sense; tasks like driving do become more difficult as we get older, so throw in driving in the snow and you have a potentially dangerous mix. And many residents of the Northeast and Midwest are all too ready to flee south and stop paying astronomical heating bills.

Still, start by thinking what good weather means to you, personally. Are you willing to put up with 100-plus temperatures in the summer in order to enjoy a mild winter? Many retirees arrive in Arizona or Florida only to discover that they wilt in the summer heat. Are there outdoor activities that are important to you that depend on the weather? Hint: Mosquitoes can scotch a fishing trip, and gardening can be frustrating in the desert.

7. Comfortable houses for aging in place
That dream house you’re lusting after? Yes, it has a gorgeous deck with a view and the cutest window seat, but does it also have wide doorways and a one-story floor plan? These are the criteria people all too often overlook, says Daniel Brady of the Miami Jewish Health System. And housing stock tends to vary greatly by community. In one town, all the houses might be more than a hundred years old with multiple floors and narrow hallways, while in another area all the housing stock is post-’50s ranches much more suitable to aging in place.

“When you buy a house at 65, chances are good you’re still going to be living in it at 85, so that’s what you need to plan for,” Brady says. A one-story floor plan with few stairs? Check. Doors wide enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair? Check. Tubs big enough to put a bath stool in? Check. What about the laundry — do you have to go down to the basement to do it? These are the kinds of things people don’t think about at first but that become hugely important in determining whether they’re happy with their choice down the line, Brady says.

8. Availability of services
Make sure any area you’re considering has access to the services you want. Need a decent bakery? Check that your new town has one. Similarly, if you regularly visit a chiropractor, massage therapist, or acupuncturist, you won’t be happy if you have to give those services up — or drive 30 miles to access them. If it’s important to you to have a beautiful garden, you may want to see if gardeners are plentiful — and affordable — in the community you’re considering. And if you hope to live out the rest of your life in your own home and don’t have a lot of family close by, chances are you’ll need some in-home care at some point.

“Although those services are plentiful in most urban and suburban areas, you’re going to have a really hard time finding home-care nursing in rural Minnesota,” says Brady.

9. Golf and the arts
We all like to spend our free time in different ways, but by and large most people are in search of a community with rich offerings when it comes to the arts and leisure activities. After all, what’s retirement (or semiretirement) for, if not to enjoy all the interests we were too busy for when we were putting in 50-hour weeks?

One of the hottest retirement towns today, Sarasota, Florida, rose to prominence by publicizing its 30-plus golf courses, nationally prominent Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, and a downtown area packed with galleries and art studios, as well as shops and restaurants. Surprising contenders in this category include Traverse City, Michigan; Fairhope, Alabama; and Columbus, Indiana.

10. Proximity to family
If you have adult children, and especially if you’re lucky enough to have grandchildren or are hoping for some, proximity to family’s going to be one of your major considerations, and rightly so. But it still pays to be creative when thinking about this situation, rather than rushing off to buy a house down the street.

Younger families may need to be in an expensive urban area because of job and school requirements, and you don’t have those considerations driving you. One solution: proximity to a major airport. Choose to live within an hour of a major airport, and family can visit you easily and conveniently even if they’re a state or two away, opening up many more options.

Take future caregiving needs into consideration as well. “The statistics show that 70 percent of long-term care is provided by family, typically a daughter,” says the Miami Jewish Health System’s Daniel Brady. So talk openly with your adult children and grandchildren about who might be willing to take on that role. Be sensitive to potential family conflicts, too. “I tell people: Live close enough to get there easily, but far enough away that if you’re mad at each other, you don’t have to run into each other at the drugstore,” says Brady.

By Melanie Haiken, Caring.com senior editor

Caring.com was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet, our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need during this challenging time.

It is better to be a bull than a stallion!

It is better to be a bull than a stallion!
 

Not long ago I was teaching a training program and I made the comment that some people tend to be too territorial in nature and that they sometimes overstep their boundaries by being “control freaks.”  All of us have probably either had someone do that to us or we are guilty of having done it ourselves.  In either case, it is not a very wise thing to do.  Anyway, in my talk I mentioned that when two people are constantly trying to overpower each other, it simply will not work.  I said, “It would be like having two bulls in the same pasture.”
 
After I finished speaking, a lady approached and asked if she could speak to me for a minute.  Of course, I agreed.  She explained that she grew up on a farm and had a lot of experience working with cattle.  “Dr. Rohm, I don’t want to offend you,” she said, “but your example of two bulls not being able to co-exist in the same pasture is not really a very good example.”  When I asked her why that was the case, she explained that from time to time bulls can get territorial, but for the most part several of them can live in the same pasture quite well together, as long as there are plenty of cows to service.  She went on to tell me that a better example would be that of having two stallions in the same pasture.  Apparently it is impossible for two stallions to co-exist because one of them will actually kill the other for dominance and control!  Her experience with cattle and horses, had taught her that the nature of a stallion is such that it simply will not tolerate having another stallion in the same area because the issue of control is so strong. 
 
We talked for a while longer and she gave me some more information that helped me to clearly see that my example of the two bulls was a poor one and that the example of the two stallions was more accurate.  I was very grateful for her insight and correction.
 
Since that time, I have done a lot of thinking about our conversation.  I think people should work to have the same experience that bulls have in being able to co-exist together though they each may be very strong.  I know that there are a lot of “strong-willed people” in the world.  (Perhaps you are one of them.)  My oldest daughter is a very strong-willed individual and for that I am grateful because it is through her that I found my life’s calling and profession.  She is the one who caused me to seek answers for why certain personalities are so strong and different from others.  I have learned to appreciate that type of personality.  And, I often seek to use that strong-willed part of my own personality to push past the challenging endeavors I face in life and in business.
 
Unfortunately, most of us have had the heartache of seeing two people part ways because they could not get along.  It may be that they were both stallions and just got to the place where one of them could no longer live with the other.  We will likely all have that experience at some time, whether it is with a friend, a business associate, or a family member.  It is a sad situation, but it does occur. 
 
The next time you are challenged by someone in your life, ask yourself, “Is this a bull situation or is it a stallion situation?”  Bulls can co-exist if they recognize they need to spread out and have their own space.  By nature they do not attack others, although they do want some control and the feeling of being in charge.  There is nothing wrong with that!  I believe that is what a strong, entrepreneurial spirit is all about.  Freedom, at its very root, is the opportunity to grow and experience greater success in life.  However, it is unhealthy for any of us to have the attitude of a stallion – that attitude of, “I must win and you must lose!”  It is destructive and harmful and in the end it actually creates a lose/lose situation for everyone involved.
 
It certainly was a great learning experience for me to know more about the nature of bulls and stallions.  Perhaps the stallion attitude is appropriate in a sporting event or a war where one must win and the other must lose.  But, since most of our life does not consist of a sporting event or a war, it would be wiser to approach each situation with a little less “testosterone.”  Whether you are a strong male or a strong female, being a “bull” is a much wiser approach. 
 
I am grateful to have this concept firmly in my mind because I believe it gives me the mental edge to stay balanced in my own competitive nature.  For all of you who like to win and achieve, I hope it does the same for you!

Have a great week!  God bless you!

Robert A. Rohm, Ph.D.

Copyright 2010 Personality Insights, Inc.  Reprinted with permission. You may subscribe to the  “Tip of the Week” for free at http://www.personalityinsights.com and receive Dr. Rohm’s weekly Tip every Monday morning.

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