John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Its a dogs life

Emerson Said It: Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your action...

Emerson Said It: Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your action...: “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. ”   Ralph Wa...


“Being an artist means forever healing your own wounds and at the same time endlessly exposing them.”Annette Messager 

To me, poetry is somebody standing up

“To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment”                                                                                                         Galway Kinnell

A big blog of Irish Literature: Mistakes

A big blog of Irish Literature: Mistakes: “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”                                                                                           ...

Destitutus ventis remos adhibe

Destitutus ventis, remos adhibe...or in other words "If the wind will not serve, take to the oars" 

A writer is

A writer is a world trapped in a person.

Irish fair skin can be traced to India and the Middle East

From Irish Central. Com

Have you ever wondered where the Irish get their light skin color from? Well, it appears we may now have the answer.

A major new US study at Penn State University has found that Europeans' light skin stems from a gene mutation from a single person who lived 10,000 years ago.

Scientists made the discovery after identifying a key gene that contributes to lighter skin color in Europeans, and the Irish fall into this category.

The Mail Online reports that, in earlier research, Keith Cheng from Penn State College of Medicine reported that one amino acid difference in the gene SLC24A5 is a key contributor to the skin color difference between Europeans and West Africans. This is undoubtedly where the Irish get their light skin from.

"The mutation in SLC24A5 changes just one building block in the protein, and contributes about a third of the visually striking differences in skin tone between peoples of African and European ancestry," he said.

Cheng and his team studied segments of genetic code that have a mutation and are located closely on the same chromosome and are often inherited together.

The mutation, called A111T, is found in virtually everyone of European ancestry.

A111T is also found in populations in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, but not in high numbers in Africans.

All individuals from the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa and South India who carry the A111T mutation share traces of the ancestral genetic code. According to the researchers, this indicates that all existing instances of this mutation originate from the same person.

The pattern of people with this lighter skin color mutation suggests that the A111T mutation occurred somewhere between the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

‘This means that Middle Easterners and South Indians, which includes most inhabitants of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, share significant ancestry,’ Professor Cheng said.

Professor Cheng now plans to look at more genetic samples to better understand what role genes play in East Asian skin color. Perhaps he will take a look into where Irish redheads come from after this.

How To Rewire Your Brain For Happiness

Vanessa Loder

Is happiness something we can cultivate or is it a result of our environment?  New scientific research is shedding light on the answer, and the results are encouraging.
Imagine your brain has all these neural pathways connecting different responses. If you’re stuck in a traffic jam, and you feel angry, that fires a series of neurons together.
The first time you fire the sequence of “Ugh, traffic, I’m angry,” it’s as though you’re walking through a jungle (in your brain), and you bushwhack a path and put a wooden plank across a stream to cross it, creating a rudimentary bridge.
As you continue to have this same response (negative stimulus, like traffic = I’m angry), you strengthen the “angry bridge” across that little stream. Since you’re crossing that bridge so often, you decide to hang some ropes along the side and add more wood to make a stronger hanging bridge. As you keep crossing that same bridge and adding more foot traffic, you continue to reinforce it and make it even stronger. Eventually, you pave the bridge, add guardrails, and the next thing you know, you’ve created a five-lane highway that makes it very easy to have an angry response. In fact, the response is no longer a unique reaction to a unique stimulus, it is a habit.
If, instead of feeling angry, you were to instead turn your attention towards joy, compassion, or gratitude, you would start building a bridge that makes it easier to feel those feelings in the future. The single wooden plank you lay down the first time you cultivate appreciation would become reinforced over time until you create a habitual response to feel compassion, gratitude, and appreciation without much conscious effort at all.
As one woman in our recent Mindfulness Based Achievement seminar said, “Vanessa, I feel like I’ve been so stuck in over-identifying with my thoughts and emotions. Every time I think I’m a bad mother, it’s as though I’m on autopilot, I can’t step back to observe that’s just a belief, just a thought that I can change at any time. My response to judge myself is so automatic – it’s like my mind is on the 405 [a five lane highway that runs up and down the coast of California] heading to LA with the belief that I’m a bad mother before I’ve even realized I’m on the freeway!”
Here’s the good news: with training, scientists have now shown, we can literally rewire the neural pathways that regulate our emotions, thoughts, and reactions.  This means we can create new neural pathways – highways in our brain – that lead us to compassion, gratitude, and joy instead of anxiety, fear, and anger.  We can reprogram our brains’ automatic response, and all it requires is a conscious effort to build new pathways.
Thanks to the advent of fMRI machines (functional magnetic resonance imaging), we can now watch our brains in real time and see which areas of the brain light up when we’re angry, pleased, or distracted. Over the past 20 years, scientists discovered that neural pathways of the brain change over time – the brain is dynamic, not fixed, as everyone previously believed. They named this idea that our brain architecture can change “neuroplasticity.”
As David Gelles shares in his new book Mindful Work, one of the earliest and best-known studies on neuroplasticity looked at London’s taxi drivers. Required to memorize a complete map of London’s serpentine streets, scans showed that the gray matter of the hippocampus – an area associated with memory and spatial awareness – in experienced London cabbies is substantially thicker than that of non-cabbies.
Gelles continues, a “study of violinists revealed that the parts of their brains associated with the motor mechanics of their left hands, used to hold the strings against the violin’s neck, were far more developed than in non-violinists.”
These studies are early examples of the ways our brains adapt and even change according to our behavior. Scientists have a term called “use-dependent cortical reorganization,” which essentially means we strengthen whichever neural pathways we use most often, or as some neuroscientists like to say “neurons that fire together, wire together.”
So how do we do this? How can we start to rewire our brain towards happiness, compassion, and gratitude?
The next time you’re stuck in traffic and notice yourself getting frustrated or angry, see if you can take two or three deep breaths and cultivate compassion for the other drivers. Think about how they are probably exhausted too, and they have family and loved ones they want to get home to as well.
Practicing self-compassion is one powerful way to start building these new pathways in your brain. Another tool is to begin cultivating gratitude – you can do this by journaling about things you’re grateful for or by simply sharing, out loud, three things you’re grateful for with someone – your partner or friends – at the end of each day.
And, you can start to disrupt the pathways you want to weaken by noticing, in the moment, when you’re having a negative reaction and choosing to take a few deep breaths instead. This practice sounds simple, but in reality, it is not easy.
Meditation is a powerful tool to help cultivate this noticing so that you can choose a new way to react in a given situation. A 2005 Harvard study by Sarah Lazar showed that meditation can change the structure of the brain. Further research shows that just five to ten minutes of meditation a day can make a difference.

The process of rewiring our brains is just that – a process. You are breaking habits and changing beliefs that can be thoroughly entrenched in your mind. The important thing to remember is that it can happen. Better yet, you can do it.

Do you know the works of Leo Buscaglia? A great teacher, a great writer.


The note

The writers life





A conversation between my wife and I...welcome to the writers world

This is me getting older

A few pointers on finding happiness and purpose in your life with the overall idea being to break the habit of short term happiness and replace it with sustainable happiness.

When it hits the fan remember  "And this, too, shall pass." …and it will. I assure you it will.

Pay our bills on time, maintain good health and be honest in all things. I know these aren’t always easy things to do but these are the chief worry makers in daily life if you take care of them you’ll worry less and be a happier soul.

Live within your means. Spending money you don’t have only leads to eventual unhappiness. Money will make you happy but it will add to your stress. Cover your basic needs: things like food, shelter, and clothing. But once you have enough money to be comfortable, getting more money does not make much of a difference to how happy you are. 
A number of studies of lottery winners show that after a relatively short period of time, they are not happier than they were before they won the money.

Contribute to a good cause. Either tithe to whatever church you go to or send in a few dollars to something you believe in, something that will the world a better place. You’ll feel good about yourself and it will keep you involved and connected with the world you live in.

Be kind to yourself. When something bad happens, don't beat yourself up. Instead, when you make an error, be aware of it without passing judgment. You are a perfect creation, the God Lord made you that way. See yourself the way God sees you. It’s okay to be gentle and forgiving with yourself.

Don’t keep it to yourself. If there issue, talk about it with the aim of resolving the issue. State your case in a clear, easy to understand manner.  Letting issues boil causes only causes more problems.

Travel whenever possible. It will give you a broader, realistic look at the world you live in, you’ll learn new things and have fun as well.

Pray and take time to just be quiet. It’s good for the soul.

Next time you come across a hater, run like hell and keep running until you are very far away from them.

Don’t over schedule yourself or assign yourself a pile of different ways to improve your life. Factor in the cost to your mental health. Are all these new tasks that you have given yourself worth the cost? Often we can improve outlives by doing less and giving yourself time to simply do nothing.  

Building that home environment clearly leads to happiness. You can do that by sharing a family meal four times a week is the key to happiness. The average family spends less than 12 hours a week with everyone present.

Avoid situations that lead to trauma and develop practices that support our own well-being
Stop and think about what you’re doing…….Happiness comes from good judgment.

Every now and then don’t play it safe. Take a risk on something. In a 1995 article published in Psychological Review, authors reviewed evidence that found that what people regret most is not the risks they did take, but the ones they didn’t. Regret about actions taken loses intensity, while regret over actions not taken, intensifies.

See the glass as half full.

Work to be resilient. Resilience is the ability to recover fast from adversity. Recover and go on to do great things. Having a sense of power in your life has been found to be one of the key factors in being a resilient person.  To find true happiness,  realize your personal power. 

You can have a profound effect over your destiny.

Takes criticism like a champ and take it with an ENORMOUS grain of salt.

Set small goals in order to reach bigger ones.

Understands the power of friendship and  it to work for you.

Let it go. Live in the moment. Most of our stress is generated by being too focused in the past or future. Let go of grudges. A key to being happy is to let go of grudges. Consciously drop the past.

We often cannot control the situation or circumstances that we find ourselves in, but we can always choose to control our attitude about that situation or circumstance.

Let the sun shine in. SAD (seasonal affective disorder), is a lack of sunlight which can lead to sadness and even depression. Open the blind on your window or get out and take a short, brisk walk.

Smile. Smiling can make you happy or at the least give you a happiness boost.

Eat Dark Chocolate. (over 70 percent cacao) It can make you happier. Chocolate contains polyphenols, which have been shown to have happiness boosting properties.

Breathe Consciously. Controlled breathing can lower your blood pressure and put you in a state of  calm and relaxation.

Practice gratitude and positivity.

Stay in motion as often as you can.

Get Up and Move Regularly. Low activity lifestyles have been linked with weight gain, diabetes and other health problems.

Give up social comparisons. (Keeping up with the Joneses.) It’s a race you’ll never win.

Decide to be happy. Happiness is not an accident. You chose it.

You don’t need a romantic relationship to be happy. Being in a healthy, supportive relationship does contribute to happiness, but on the same hand you can also be happy and fulfilled if your single. The expectation that having a partner will make you happy and fulfilled  may actually harm the relationship in the long-run.

Happiness does not decline with age. Contrary to popular belief, people tend to get happier with age.

Don't waste time on jealousy. Your good turn will come along as well.

Find passion in you, not in your job.

Get eight hours of sleep: Researchers say people who managed to sleep eight hours scored a 65.7 out of 100 in the study’s well-being rating system compared to 64.2 and 59.4 among those who slept seven and six hours, respectively.

Get involved in culture. "Participation in receptive and creative cultural activities was significantly associated with good health, good satisfaction with life, low anxiety and depression scores in both genders," a researchers wrote. Men saw stronger benefits from receptive, or passive, cultural activities while women more enjoyed active participation events . A study that collected data on the activities, mood and health of 50,000 adults in 
Norway found that people who participated in more cultural activities reported higher happiness levels and lower anxiety and depression.

Talk to people. Connecting with another person increases our happiness. A study that tracked the conversations of 80 people for 4 days found that, in keeping with the small-talk study, higher well-being is associated with spending less time alone and more time talking to others. Behavioral scientists gave a group of Chicago train commuters a $5 Starbucks gift card in exchange for striking up a conversation with a stranger during their ride. (While another group kept to themselves.)Those who started conversations reported a more positive experience than those who had stayed quiet—even though they had predicted they would feel happier being solitary. Another study saw similar results from giving Starbucks visitors a $5 gift card in exchange for having a "genuine interaction with the cashier."

Buy an experience not an item. Spending money on life experiences makes us happier than spending money on material things. Studies show that the happiest people are those who seek meaning as opposed to just pleasure.

Look at beauty. A study showed that purely beautiful objects (not functional) reduce negative emotions by 29%, increasing a sense of calmness and ease.

Eat more fruits and Vegetables. A 13-day study of 405 people who kept food diaries showed that people who ate more fruits and vegetables reported higher than average levels of curiosity, creativity, and positive emotions, as well as engagement, meaning, and purpose.
Accept yourself.  Believe in yourself.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep the bigger picture in mind.

Embrace change. Happiness means being willing to evolve. We are most alive when we expand and try new things.

For Happiness, Keep a Gratitude Journal

By Negin Shahiar | Staff

When I was a fifth-grader, I overheard some kid in my French class say that I was one of the most pessimistic people he knew. Not really a compliment for a person of any age.
But I guess his assessment was, in many ways, true. My chosen reaction — and perhaps a common one — to living in an uncertain world has often been anxiety and fear, culminating in constantly expecting the worst.
I recently became determined to permanently reverse this mindset. I enrolled in a DeCal about positive psychology — the study of what brings happiness and meaning in life.
In one of the first lectures, our instructor encouraged us to begin writing in a gratitude journal. The results of gratitude journaling have been studied extensively by the UC Davis Emmons Lab. Researchers found that those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis experienced a host of benefits:
They exercised more regularly.
They reported fewer physical symptoms.
They experienced better sleep quality and duration.
They felt a greater sense of connection to others.
They were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals.
They had higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy.
They felt better about their lives as a whole.
Jason Marsh, director of programs at the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, simply defines the practice as writing down things for which we’re grateful. This can be done on a daily, weekly, monthly or anything-in-between-ly basis, incorporating anywhere from one to 100 things they’ve experienced recently that they’re grateful for.
“The entries are supposed to be brief — just a single sentence — and they range from the mundane (‘waking up this morning’) to the sublime (‘the generosity of friends’) to the timeless (‘the Rolling Stones’),” Marsh said.
Excited by these findings, I’ve kept my own gratitude journal for the past month. Before going to sleep, I write down three things I’m grateful for.
The first night I wrote in my journal, I felt overwhelmed by a sense of unbridled joy. Reflecting on the infinite number of things to be grateful for, I was almost frustrated that I’d limited myself to writing only three.
Each night that followed, I continued to experience these positive emotions — but never to the extent of that first night. I did, however, begin to notice long-term effects.
Comparing who I am today with who I was in early February, I’ve realized that I’ve experienced all of the social, psychological, and physical benefits the researchers listed, along with several more.
Notably, I feel more confident, optimistic and friendly. I think this is partly because people seem less scary to me than they used to. Football players, mind-blowing professors and student government leaders don’t intimidate me as much anymore. I find myself starting conversations with people I used to avoid eye contact with, because I now believe that we can both learn from each other.
Psychologically, I’m transitioning from a fixed to a growth mindset; I no longer see setbacks as inevitable failures but rather as opportunities for self-improvement.
For instance, last week, I received a grade on my paper that was lower than hoped for. In the past, this would have signified inferior intelligence or subpar writing capabilities. Now, however, it indicated to me that I’m doing well and that I can learn to do even better.
Tonight, as I read through the more than 30 entries of my journal, reflecting on just some of the hundreds of thousands of things I had to be grateful for, I felt overcome by the same delight and happiness of the first night.
Entries ranged from the abstract (“expression of honest emotions”) to the concrete (“technology that allows me to talk to my grandmother all the way in Iran”), the external (“the nighttime sky and feeling like I could swim into it”) to the internal (“becoming closer to the person I want to be”), the lighthearted (“friends who stay up with you until 6 a.m. writing English papers”) to the philosophical (“that love exists in the world”) — all extraordinary in retrospect.
Eventually, I noticed patterns emerge. Several items showed up repeatedly throughout the journal, ranging from the “human ability to endure and overcome” to “making and sustaining connections with people.”
I also noticed interspersed entries regarding my personal growth, including “the opportunity to be challenged intellectually at a top-tier university,” “ability to change my circumstances and situation,” “learning to speak up for myself,” “making mistakes so that I can grow from them,” and “feeling comfortable in my own skin.”
Tonight, rather than write in my journal, I’ll share three things I’m grateful for here:
My meditation class, which reminded me today of the power of mindfulness — of recognizing that I am alive with each inhalation and exhalation
The diversity of people in the world when considering the astonishing fact that we’re all 99.9 percent genetically the same

The opportunity to share my thoughts with a public audience through writing and the capacity of both writing and reading to momentarily take us away from reality so that we may return to and live within it with greater understanding

Only you can calculate formula for a happier life, professor says

By Jenniffer Weigel / Chicago Tribune

Is there a formula for being happy? According to Paul Dolan, professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics and Political Science, we need to start doing more and worrying less. In his book, “Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think” (Hudson Street Press), Dolan brings together the latest research on happiness from economics and psychology, along with insights, strategies and questionnaires to help readers get started.
The following is an edited version of an email conversation:

Q: You say that in order to be happy you need pleasure and purpose. Can you explain?

A: Becoming happier requires a definition of happiness. You can’t know how to become happier unless you know what you are aiming at. The pleasure-purpose principle (PPP) is my definition of happiness — experiences of pleasure and purpose over time — and it resonates with what people tell me is important. Instead of chasing stories about what you think should make you happy, I think you should focus directly on your experiences of what feels good. It provides a lens to judge your activities. If something doesn’t feel good — neither pleasurable nor purposeful — it probably isn’t worth doing at all. Lost happiness is lost forever. It’s not like money. You can’t earn it back.

Q: You write about the effect smells and colors can have on our happiness.

A: Research shows that smells and colors can change your behavior, and what you do affects how you feel. If you want to win a sporting match, for example, you’re more likely to do so if you wear red. Partly you’re likely to play more aggressively because red is an aggressive color, and also partly because anyone judging your performance will automatically think you’re playing more aggressively, too. Citrus smells remind people of clean environments, which encourages them to be cleaner too. And people recover from illness more quickly when they are exposed to natural light. We’re learning more all the time about what effect colors and smells have on our behavior, and I encourage people to be their own happiness detectives, figuring out how they can use them to structure their environments to automatically influence them to do things that make them feel good.

Q: What changes, if any, have you implemented in your life as a result of your research?

A: One thing that comes to mind is my office. It’s designed to maximize comfort and creativity. I got rid of my desk last year and brought in an oval table, to encourage conversation, as well as a sofa. The walls are light blue, a color that primes creativity, and I have a light bulb-shaped lamp, too — a form that studies show sparks ideas. I also take care with my attentional resources and try to spend them only on what matters most. For example, I’ve recently relinquished control of my (daily calendar) to a trusted colleague so that I can focus more on other activities that bring more pleasure and/or purpose.

Q: What are your tips for not getting bogged down with worrying, which consumes many of us?

A: Two come to mind. The first is to make sure you can explain whatever you are worried about. If we can’t explain something, we will continue reacting to it and thinking about it. Having an explanation promotes adaptation and helps us to move on. The second is to have new experiences. New experiences require more attention in the moment than routine experiences, and help you to focus less on your worries.

A lot depends on what you’re worried about. Nearly always it’s something that hasn’t happened yet, and I find that if I remind myself that I don’t have anything to worry about “right now,” I usually feel much better. 

The greatest discovery

 “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings, by changing their inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” William James 1915

 William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was a philosopher and psychologist who was also trained as a physician. The first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States, James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century and is believed by many to be one of the most influential philosophers the United States has ever produced, while others have labelled him the "Father of American psychology".
 Along with Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey, he is considered to be one of the major figures associated with the philosophical school known as pragmatism, and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology. He also developed the philosophical perspective known as radical empiricism. James' work has influenced intellectuals such as Émile Durkheim, W. E. B. Du Bois, Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty.
Born into a wealthy family, James was the son of the Swedenborgian theologian Henry James Sr and the brother of both the prominent novelist Henry James, and the diarist Alice James. James wrote widely on many topics, including epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism. Among his most influential books are The Principles of Psychology, which was a groundbreaking text in the field of psychology, Essays in Radical Empiricism, an important text in philosophy, and The Varieties of Religious Experience, which investigated different forms of religious experience, which also included the then theories on Mind cure.


An Australian study that followed 1,500 people for 10 years found that having good friends helps people live longer. Those with a large support network outlived those with the fewest friends by a significant 22 percent. Another major study, this one from UCLA, found that when women reached out to friends during an emotional crisis, they coped better. One explanation (among many) is that the friendships triggered oxytocin—the feel-good bonding hormone—in the body, reducing women’s cortisol levels and combating stress.

Here's a productive idea

Campaign To Create Giant Smile Over U.S.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new campaign is setting up billboards encouraging Philadelphians to be happy.
The messages  are part of Smile Across America (#SmileAcrossAmerica), a national campaign from community nonprofit The Joy Team that’s in honor of International Day of Happiness on March 20th.
According to The Joy Team, Philly is just one of 19 cities  taking part in the campaign, which creates a giant smile face across the country when you connect the dots from billboard to billboard. That smile will span from Vancouver, WA to White Planes, NY with the eyes in Billings, MT; Casper, WY; Minneapolis, MN; and Des Moines, IA.

The Joy Team says the Philadelphia  billboard will be located on Ridge Avenue about 30 feet north of Walnut Lane and will read, “Life loves you. Just the way you are.” It’s expected to be up sometime during the week of March 16th.

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically

  “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” Anais Nin 

I don't know if I agree fully with that, I would say keep looking maybe you'll see him in the next person.

“If you don’t find God in the next person you meet, it’s a waste of time looking for him further.” Gandhi

How great would that be?

 “Imagine a culture in which everything is geared toward helping all individuals become the best human beings they can be; in which individuals are driven to devoting their lives to becoming enlightened by the natural flood of compassion for others that arises from their wisdom.” Robert Thurman

What a fantastic thought this is....................

 “I promise you that the same stuff galaxies are made of, you are. The same energy that swings planets around stars makes electrons dance in your heart. It is in you, outside you, you are it. It is beautiful. Trust in this. And you your life will be grand.” Kamal Ravikant

I want to make it clear here that I think intelligent arts criticism

 “I want to make it clear here that I think intelligent arts criticism is important and valuable. I want critics, writers, and readers to stake out their aesthetic ground and defend it. But your arguments should make us think deeper and harder about books. Criticism should complicate, not simplify. If you think the above is true, but not worth fretting over, here is why I disagree: lazy stereotypes about reader preferences absolutely contribute to problems in the publishing industry. I know writers of color who’ve been rejected because their writing ‘isn’t black enough for black readers,’ or is ‘too black for white readers.’ It leads publishers to reject manuscripts because ‘readers won’t read translated fiction’ or ‘don’t want more [insert ethnicity] immigrant fiction this year.’ (Then, of course, those same publishers scramble after that same fiction as soon as one book sells well.) It’s part of the reason that women writers are pressured into flowery uplifting covers even if their fiction is dark and gritty. And, more generally, it’s part of why tons of great books that push boundaries and do new, exciting things get passed over, and literature, and readers, suffer for it.”     Lincoln Michel