Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Male and Female Brains Really Are Built Differently

Male (upper) and female (lower) brain connections (PNAS)


The hemispheres of women’s brains are more interconnected. Does that matter?

By Olga Khazan

“Ready your knowing smirk, because here comes a scientific gem that’s sure to enliven even the dullest of holiday parties.

By analyzing the MRIs of 949 people aged 8 to 22, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found that male brains have more connections within each hemisphere, while female brains are more interconnected between hemispheres.

Yes, take that, Mike from IT! It, like, so explains why you just dropped the eggnog while attempting to make flirty conversation with Janet from Accounting.

Just kidding; we still have no idea why men or women do anything in particular. But the study, released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is interesting because it is one of the first to discover differences in the brain’s structural connectivity in a large sample size of people from a variety of age groups.

Male (upper) and female (lower) brain connections (PNAS)

By analyzing the subjects’ MRIs using diffusion imaging, the scientists explored the brains’ fiber pathways, the bundles of axons that act as highways routing information from one part of the mind to the other. After grouping the image by sex and inspecting the differences between the two aggregate “male” and “female” pictures, the researchers found that in men, fiber pathways run back and forth within each hemisphere, while in women they tend to zig-zag between the left, or “logical,” and right, or “creative,” sides of the brain.

Because female brains seem to have a stronger connections between their logical and intuitive parts, “when women are asked to do particularly hard tasks, they might engage very different parts of the brain,” said Ragini Verma, an associate professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the authors of the report. “Men might over-engage just one part of the brain.”

Child (B), adolescent (C), and adult (D) brains (PNAS)

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PTSD: Beyond Symptoms


Most of my harsh PTSD physical symptoms have faded or been reduced to a low level through my healing efforts.

Hypervigilance, triggers firing, high anxiety and raging fear have subsided.

Besides depression and low-level anxiety, PTSD’s impact shows up in avoidance, isolation, the lack of desire to trust or bond with people.

What relationships I have left on this planet are shallow except for my kids and grandkids.

You will not find me on Facebook claiming 100’s of friends in a relaxed setting.

I do not have family pictures on my walls, or self-portraits, my ego was obliterated by my father’s abuse.

My life does not contain what normal people crave. I am ok with that.

My daughter tells me Facebook is for connecting to all your friends and family, keeping them apprised of our life.

I have had no use for this platform at any time in my life.

This blog is my outreach. Trying to share and support other traumatized people is my Facebook, I guess.

I do not trust putting myself out there in a public forum.

My life deals with the danger and possible betrayal posed by people, not the joy of needing small talk with others to feel included.

How am I supposed to trust, be relaxed enough to risk being vulnerable, when I fear what people will do to me?

Am I supposed to care about attaching to others more than my safety?

What is the benefit for me? Does it overcome the risk of betrayal?


We avoid, lack the composure to feel safe around people.

Being seriously abused as a kid has a lifetime of suffering and isolation waiting for you.

I may heal but I will never trust people.

I am ok with that.

I am not a victim, by necessity I have had to learn to need very little to navigate life.

I fear people way more than Ptsd. Trust was something that I used once, with one person, and that public betrayal changed my life forever.

Happiness and trust do not mix in my mind or life.

My happiness does not contain what others think happiness consists of.

That’s alright with me also.



What does improving (healing) feel like, look like?


In the beginning, PTSD was a stranger, an unknown entity.

It took me six months of discovery and reading to understand what Ptsd was all about. Finding therapies and skills to heal took more time.

Then, healing only arrived with great effort, the results were subtle, unnoticed for days and weeks.

In my healing period, I could feel a shift inside, then a couple of days later, calm would arrive.

For me, a couple of days of nirvana-type feelings surrounded me before the next buried trauma arrived.

At other times, it was like I took a few side steps, changing the angle my trauma was viewed.

This different landscape changed the power of Ptsd.

In my opinion, those two steps to the side were away from my Ego.

Healing looks and feels different than we can ever imagine.

Without the Egos penchant for drama, bias, and turmoil, reality looks much different.

The ability to be flexible, to be able to change and adapt is key to wellbeing.

Get to know your Ego, his/her tendencies, vulnerabilities, judgments.

What is your Ego’s favorite emotion?

What is your Ego’s favorite narrative?

How can you battle a ghost, get to know your mind, your mind’s creation, the Ego!



Awake Dreams


This is a different type of dream, I am awake.

Meditation has allowed “me” to observe “me” from a short distance.

It is like watching a bad movie of my life.

I can see how trauma has highjacked my nervous system and thought process, parts of my mind, in real-time.

Everyone says this awareness and ability to observe me is a great step to wellbeing.

Our mind (Ptsd) operates in harmful ways without safety or well-being considered.

Proof: Hypervigilance, avoidance, and anxiety are detrimental to our health but our mind embraces the negative emotional thoughts that arrive.

We avoid, grow our fear, doubt, and worry to unhealthy levels.

We would quit dissociating into the past and future immediately if it was possible or easy.

It looks harmless, extremely easy from the outside, triggers are benign and invisible to normal people.

Only the physical symptoms are ever noticed by others, we hide our shame, sneak into the corner, avoid the spotlight at all costs.

We want to just blend in, to be normal, accepted, not so different, we feel like an alien at times.

Kids have no way of knowing life will not always be so violent, so demeaning, so awful.

All my skills have not tamed the beast yet, but I can see him operate in real-time.

Any thoughts?



Will we ever feel Included, Safe?


Childhood was a time where violence and criticism reigned supreme, never a time to enjoy a safe moment.

These trauma memories unconsciously haunt my soul, impact my behavior, and steal my sanity.

I got beat and criticized enough that I trusted no one.

Life was dark, filled with failure and loss, my nervous system was always a mess.

Spotting and surviving the next crisis is how I navigated my childhood.

My purpose was self-preservation. Not very lofty, not a lot of well-being, and not much of a future.

From my earliest memories, I depended on myself, trusted no one.

Hard to rewire all that damage.

We are different, isolated, and conflicted, always an uneasy, unworthy feeling permeating life.

My bucket list has one item, being healed from Ptsd!

Will we ever feel safe, included?



Ptsd Matures as we work to minimize him/her!

Pixabay OpenClipart-Vectors


My PTSD is different from ten years ago, with no outrageous anxiety, no fight or flight mechanism firing, no great danger perceived.

Now, Ptsd presents himself cognitively, enticing my “Ego” with past emotional violations or traumatic transgressions burned into memory.

Our “Ego” feels outraged, finds power in victim mode, opportunity.

The “Ego” wants revenge, restitution, exoneration, and enormous time to cognitively wrestle with the old crap.

The “Ego” wants control, whether we suffer or not, is beyond the “Ego’s” senses.

I have spent hours wondering why me, how, and what if, till my body shook and went numb.

I am better now because my mind is more stable, focused, able to let the thoughts go immediately.

Nothing is guaranteed, know this goes a hundredfold for PTSD.

Expect trauma to be problematic, Expect to be acutely aware for the rest of your life.

Know what it takes to enjoy well-being.

The choice to fight this war is the responsibility of the person you see in the mirror.

Whatever wellbeing we attain will be earned with daily action.



Matthew Ricard: assigning value, desirable-undesirable


“Mental confusion is a veil that prevents us from seeing reality clearly and clouds our understanding of the true nature of things.

Practically speaking, it is also the inability to identify the behavior that would allow us to find happiness and avoid suffering.

When we look outward, we solidify the world by projecting onto it attributes that are in no way inherent to it.

Looking inward, we freeze the flow of consciousness when we conceive of an “I” enthroned between a past that no longer exists and a future that does not yet exist.

We take it for granted that we see things as they are and rarely question that opinion.

We spontaneously assign intrinsic qualities to things and people, thinking “this is beautiful, that is ugly,” without realizing that our mind superimposes these attributes upon what we perceive.

We divide the entire world between “desirable” and “undesirable,” we ascribe permanence to ephemera and see independent entities in what is actually a network of ceaselessly changing relations.

We tend to isolate particular aspects of events, situations, and people, and to focus entirely upon these particularities.

This is how we end up labeling others as “enemies,” “good,” “evil,” et cetera, and clinging strongly to those attributions.

However, if we consider reality carefully, its complexity becomes obvious.

If one thing were truly beautiful and pleasant, if those qualities genuinely belonged to it, we could consider it desirable at all times and in all places. But is anything on earth universally and unanimously recognized as beautiful?

As the canonical Buddhist verse has it: “For the lover, a beautiful woman is an object of desire; for the hermit, a distraction; for the wolf, a good meal.”

Likewise, if an object were inherently repulsive, everyone would have good reason to avoid it.

But it changes everything to recognize that we are merely attributing these qualities to things and people.

There is no intrinsic quality in a beautiful object that makes it beneficial to the mind, and nothing in an ugly object to harm it.“



Benefits from writing this Rag!

Pixabay ninikvaratskhelia



I would have been considered a half-assed daily journal writer if my blog did not exist.

Now, I find old posts insightful, a peek into my mindset over the last decade.

I wrote this in December, You can not steal my kindness, gratitude, or meditation practice. They cost nothing but are more valuable than all my possesssions.

At times I am extremely positive, enthusiastic, assuming final victory, then way down in the dumps at other times.

The weather inside our heads determines attitude, safety, trust, and wellbeing.

Healing, well-being, and happiness are internal states of being, all existing in one-time frame, in one-time zone, this present moment, now.

We do not see our battle clearly, we focus on the periphery, waste our effort in numerous ways.

We need to focus on skills that allow us to stay present, allows us to observe instead of judge.

The more I think, cognitively leaving this moment to meander into the past, the more I waste my energy, the more I suffer.

When PTSD erupts into our life, we are lost, confused, and terrified.

The first battle is with our fight or flight mechanism. We need to calm this mechanism from firing from perceived threats, first.

Next, our battle should focus on staying present, empty of thought, or directing thought towards a known goal.

Ptsd loses power when we stay in the present moment.

What skills (tools) help you the most to stay present.

Focus needs to be practiced and developed.

Sports was my first adventure into focus, shooting a basketball, hitting a baseball.

These were physical sports, using hand-eye coordination and the ability to slow the event down.

Meditation attempts to do nothing, accomplish nothing, change nothing, it is a focus exercise, an internal way of intense concentration.

Well-being lies in discovering our internal state of being.



Permanent things, an old post



On my arduous journey with childhood trauma, I have found a few constants, permanent things, only a few.

Life is complex, things we thought vital in our youth, fade in importance as we age.

Things I coveted have changed in value, possessions get damaged, stolen, or worn out. Status, beauty, and health all deteriorate with time. My trophies took enormous effort, grueling competitiveness to attain, now they collect dust out of sight.

What seemed to hold ultimate happiness, disappoints quickly, then fades to the next challenge.

How many times have we chased things, college, career, status, fame, etc. searching for happiness, only to find nothing behind it.

The band that dreams of a miracle hit, expecting lasting happiness, finds intense pressure in a cutthroat business to write more hits quickly, instead.

The greatest, most expensive meal in the world, turns to hunger in six hours.

Fulfilling desire does not quench the beast, it feeds it.

What endures.

For me, two things off the top of my head, giving and gratitude are constants me. My emotions peak and valley like a big rollercoaster, but I am a giver and appreciate what I have.

Giving without regard for reward is called loving-kindness by the Buddhists, a tenet of wellbeing.

Giving has always been a part of my life, being able to run a blog that helps others improve, is precious in my life.

The bond I share with a few on this healing path endures and matures.

I always count my blessings and know others have it much tougher than me.

My meditation practice is permanent, a daily companion who asks no toll for soothing my being.

My permanent things have an abstract quality to them, unlike possesssions, we protect from thieves.

You can not steal my kindness, gratitude, or meditation practice. They cost nothing but are more valuable than all my possesssions.

The few things that I will leave this earth with.

How about you, what is permanent in your life?



Traumatized and non-traumatized Ego’s



Since early childhood when my “Ego” was created, he knew he was damaged, life was filled with turmoil and violence.

My “Ego” had great influence from a narcissistic parent, he tried to shape me into his human toy, a life-like action figure to make him look good.

It has taken a decade of intense meditation and therapy to uncover all of this turmoil.

Happiness for me is unrecognizable to a non-traumatized person.

My intrusive thought patterns would drive a non traumatized person out of his/her mind.

In a gallows humor moment, I wish friends could experience my thoughts for a day.

What we have learned to endure, trying to improve a little more each day, brings satisfaction others will never understand.

I have squeezed out satisfaction with little arrogance, an inflated part of my Ego knowing not many could find meaning in the middle of this mess.

Friends have opined how terrible my life is, that is a view from a non-traumatized life. I have no idea what a life without abuse feels like.

Inside our heads, the emotional violence is numbing, almost paralyzing.

Others will never understand. This is part of our journey, feeling like an outcast.

Yes, our unworthiness is palpable, right below the surface, fear and anxiety are ever-present.

Waking up in the morning, the fear of the unknown haunts us, from childhood we know pain arrives without our input, abuse is part of being alive.

How would you define happiness for us?

Inside my head, happiness comes when I can let go and feel calm inside.

Feeling safe around people, taking risks, trusting, is not part of happiness for me.

Happiness and childhood abuse rarely mix.

My Ego is damaged, but he feels others could not survive his abuse and life.

A crazy arrogance only childhood abuse can illicit.



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