Connect with us

Health & Wellness

Gratitude: 15 Small Things That Make You Happy in Big Ways

Published

on

sun flower with glasses on it

Life is not made up of big thing; but a million small things.

We usually focus on our major milestones and achievements. But life has small, unexpected moments that can bring immense joy to our lives.

Gratitude is a funny thing because we really don’t know whether it’s an emotion, behaviour, or virtue. Still, we know that we should feel and express it regularly and that it’s associated with happiness.

Of all the small things that make you happy, being grateful is the most powerful, because there is always an opportunity for it. It’s like the umbrella that all the little things in life fall under. In one second, you can savour each fleeting moment and appreciate the positive impact of the people around you.

Why is Gratitude Important?

Being grateful to people around you can do what no flowers, dinners, or jewellery ever can. Gratitude is so important in holding family and friends together, and it can even impact strangers in ways we can’t imagine, and may never know.

If you’re trying to reignite the romance sparks, express gratitude to your partner.

Numerous studies show that people who are grateful to their partner feel closer to them. The continual acts of gratitude open expressions from couples that allow them to feel comfortable in their relationship. This comfort makes it easier to express other forms of gratitude and a feedback loop is created. Gratitude is the number one predictor that a relationship will flourish.

Why is Gratitude Important for Mental Health?

Appreciating the small things in life can have remarkable effects on your mental health and resilience. Gratitude can help you bounce back in times when it may be justified to do things in the light of frustration. For instance, if you’ve ever watched a documentary about some indigenous communities, you’ll always see them smiling despite their adversity.

Being Grateful Makes Your Heart Stronger

Gratitude reduces stress, allows you to sleep better, and even strengthens your heart — metaphorically and literally. Positive emotions associated with appreciation reduce the risk of hypertension, sudden congestive heart failure, and even coronary heart disease.

Gratitude Helps You Get Back on Track When You Bounce Back

Being grateful allows you to get back to the things that are truly meaningful in your life. We are all human, and we all fall off sometimes. But when we appreciate, we go right back to where we need to be. It allows us to consider our values, remember our priorities, and think more about how to live better.

Pebble with a smile drawn on it

Unexpected, Delightful, and Small Things That Make You Happy

We’ve compiled pleasant, unexpected things that warm our hearts. It’s not about being on the receiving end of these things; sometimes, being the giver of happiness improves your well-being and satisfaction in life.

1. Your partner randomly shows affection. 

Have you ever tried to reach for something and ended up reaching for it at the same time as your partner, accidentally touching each other, and then smiling? Or received a quick touch on your arm, a hug, or a kiss from someone you cherish?

These are the moments we yearn for. A touch from a loved one or a random show of affection can trigger the release of oxytocin or the “love hormone.” It signals trust and safety.

2. A familiar smell from your childhood

It’s raining, the fragrance of petrichor — the smell of rain on dry earth — hits you, and you remember the refreshing summer storms or playing in puddles as a child.

You’ve probably experienced such vivid memories of other scents like freshly baked bread, campfire smoke, scented candles, perfume, freshly cut grass, and more. 

Smell is one of the strongest triggers for memories. According to a study, smells elicit powerful memories linked to your life’s story; they sometimes trigger recollections that are more emotional and evocative than any other sensory triggers like touch, visual, or touch.

Why do smells elicit such vivid memories? Scientists don’t know yet, but they hope to solve this mystery in the future.

3. A generous gesture

Generosity has a certain unexpectedness to it, and it’s so heartwarming when someone does something for us. 

Simple things like opening the door for someone when their arms are full, letting a person go ahead in a line, or paying for the coffee of a person who’s behind you at a drive-through. All these little things make us feel what it truly means to be human.

4. Feeling understood

You’ve found a new song, movie, or book; you show it to your friend or partner, and they love it! Few things are as satisfying as feeling understood. It makes you feel emotionally safe and is akin to being socially “endorsed.”

You’ve probably heard the story about the “Angel of the Gap.” In five decades, Don Ritchie saved nearly 160 people from committing suicide at an infamous suicide spot in Australia. He did this by offering a simple gesture and inviting them over for a cup of tea at his home. Most of those people just wanted to feel understood or to have someone else listen to them.  

5. Hitting an exact number

No matter what age you are, hitting an exact number when pumping gas or shopping is an unexpected happy moment. Perhaps it satisfies some OCD part in us, or maybe we want things that are easy to process and make sense of.

6. Eating a perfectly ripe fruit

If you’ve ever cut a perfectly green avocado or found a dark yellow peach, you know this feeling. It’s a feeling you should savour and appreciate.

7. Waking up rested and fresh

With our busy lives, most of us never get a long, satisfying break. When was the last time you woke up feeling clear-headed, rejuvenated, and relaxed?

Better sleep can improve your mental health, so it’s crucial to find ways to improve your sleep. You’ll be grateful later when you start waking up fresher and are ready to seize the day!

8. A work meeting that got cancelled last minute

Most of us are children at heart and will rejoice, at least internally, if that meeting — that should have been an email — gets cancelled at the last minute because the boss got held up.

You probably feel the same about long weekends—the joy when a public holiday comes before or after a weekend.

9. Wearing a favourite nightshirt or jeans

It’s hard not to appreciate the perfect pyjama or pair of jeans. Everyone has that jacket, hoodie, or t-shirt that they cherish.

10. The feel of fresh bed sheets

There’s nothing like the feel of cool, clean bed sheets on your bed.

Speaking of perfect…

11. Flipping your pillow at night

Even sleep tends to come faster when turning to the cool side.

12. Spending time in nature

Nature can also surprise us with unexpected, awe-inspiring moments of gratitude. Seeing a breathtaking sunset or sunrise can invoke deep emotions in us. Also, rainbows never fail to fascinate us, plus they mean specific things to certain cultures — perhaps if you’re thankful, you’ll one day find the pot of gold that leprechauns have hidden at the end of the rainbow.

Another thing that nature surprises us is the amazing feel of grass, soil, or sand on our feet. Besides the feel-good factor of walking barefoot at the beach, this practice of allowing our bodies to connect with the earth has been shown to have fantastic positive effects such as reducing painful inflammation and boosting sleep quality.

14. An important figure in your life saying they are proud of you

Most people yearn for external rewards like the “status” they get from money and power. But intrinsic rewards like a loved one telling you they are proud of you can be more fulfilling. 

15. When someone says “thank you” from their heart

When someone gives, they are also the ones to receive. Your presence is an opportunity for others to do good things. This makes you a very important figure in people’s lives.

Take a deep breath. You’ve Got This!

Our lives have become so busy that it’s easy to take the little things for granted. However, these moments of joy and gratitude remind us to slow down and appreciate the wonderful little things around us.

If this article serves as a reminder to just one person, then that’s a win!

So the next time you flip over a pillow, be sure to think about us.

thank you note on table

IC INSPIRATION

When discussing this topic with Adam Hamadiya, he said, “We have too much here, and we so often take it for granted. It is impossible to be anxious and grateful at the same time, so being grateful is a direct antidote to anxiety. “

Truer words have never been spoken. In a world that only seems to “reward” people with flashy stuff and material wealth, it’s easy to be drawn to such things and make them your primary aspiration.

But if you take time and appreciate the small things in life, you find that you’ve got so much to be thankful for in life. Do you have a partner “in crime” with whom you can share inside jokes? Does your friend check in on you occasionally, and vice versa? These are “small” things to be happy about. 

Recently, my wife introduced me to her new favourite YouTube show, Best Ever Food Review Show. This is a show created by American filmmaker Will Sonbuchner, alias Sonny Side, who travels to various places worldwide, showcasing the “hidden” culture and foods in these places.

I’ve realized that no matter the economic situation of the people in these places, they are usually happy and generous. Undoubtedly, these people are facing unique issues, but when you see their happy faces, it’s hard not to introspect and ask yourself what you want in your life, and what you’ve achieved.

So, the next time you see a beautiful sunset, find that $10 in your pocket, or receive a smile or kind word from a stranger, take a moment to savour this unexpected joy. These small, unscripted moments are the threads that weave the fabric of our lives, making it more colourful and beautiful.

Nathan is a writer and aspiring software engineer with a passion for history, nature, sustainable living, and science.

Health & Wellness

How to Solve World Hunger and Food Insecurity in 2024

Published

on

Here's how to solve world hunger and food security in 2024. eSoil might help, but it is not a solution.

Electronic Soil (eSoil)

Have you heard of hydroponic farming?

It’s a way of growing plants in monitored indoor environments without the need for soil. Hydroponics is used in farming because it increases the amount of plants that farmers can produce.

Recently, scientists at Linköping University in Sweden have created what they call electronic soil, or eSoil.

This is a type of soil used for hydroponics that stimulates plant roots by using electricity. The scientists have found that this increases the amount of crops grown by 50%. They are hoping that this breakthrough in hydroponics will help feed more hungry people in the world.

“We can’t say that hydroponics will solve the problem of food security, but it can definitely help”

Eleni Stavrinidou associate professor at Linköping University

However, there is this idea that we need to produce more food to solve world hunger. This is not true. In fact, producing more food might even be worse for food security on a large scale.

Here’s why.

Hydroponics Increases Food Production

Hydroponic systems give farmers more control over the environment plants grow in. Farmers can optimize both nutrient delivery and plant space in any way they see fit. Controlling these two things increases plant production while decreasing the time it takes them to grow.

In their journal, the researchers state that food security is a major issue. By 2050, the world population is expected to increase to 9.7 billion. The aim is to evolve hydroponics and use electronic soil (eSoil) to ensure food security as the world population grows.

But there’s a twist.

Does Increasing Food Production Help Food Security?

Out of the 7.8 billion people in the world, nearly 1 billion (or 10%) face hunger every year. And yet, we currently produce enough food to feed 1.5x the current population of the world, or 10 billion people.

9.7 billion is the expected population in 2050.

This means that right now, there is more than enough food to feed the expected population in 2050. So, using hydroponic eSoil to increase the production of food does not help food security. It just increases the amount of food and money that is wasted.

The Real Problem with Food Security is Waste

In 2023, the world used an entire year of resources in just 7 months. There is a huge waste problem. It is important—and even necessary— that waste be reduced or better utilized before looking for ways to increase food production to ensure food security.

Why?

If the world continues to produce more food than is needed, and there is already a waste problem, then even more food will be wasted. Wasted food costs money, and money is needed to create systems that ensure food security is met for everyone.

How Much Money Could Be Saved by Reducing Food Waste?

Nearly 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually. This food amounts to over $1 Trillion in the U.S. every single year.

How much money could be saved by reducing food waste?

How to Solve World Hunger

The UN reports that it would take $40 billion a year to feed every starving person in the world and solve world hunger. This might seem like a lot of money, but nearly $1 Trillion a year can be saved if food is not wasted. By creating more efficient supply chain systems and using AI to anticipate food overproduction, it is very possible to save enough money to ensure food security for everyone.

Individuals can do their part to decrease the amount of waste they produce in their household, but there are two main reasons for food waste: Overproduction and problems with transportation. Artificial Intelligence can be leveraged when dealing with both of these problems.

How can AI Help Solve World Hunger?

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning can be used to predict future demand and how much crops farmers should harvest. This will save money on overproduction. Even more, AI can predict what will happen given a certain event. So, if an event—like climate change— happens that causes overproduction, then at least the leftovers can be expected.

If something is expected then it can also be prepared for.

Two scenarios happen when using AI predictive analysis to solve world hunger:

  1. There is leftover or overproduction.
  2. There is money that is saved.

Both these things are big wins for solving world hunger in 2024 and onward!

Leftovers and Overproduction

If there are leftovers or overproduction, food can be directed to those needing it. This can happen instantly because the overproduction was anticipated using the AI predictive analysis, so delivery programs were developed beforehand.

Money Can Be Saved

If there is no leftover or overproduction, then it means that AI predictive analysis was a success, and no money was lost. The money that was saved can then be funnelled into a fund that is specifically made to feed the hungry and ensure food security.

Solve World Hunger by Creating a Fund

Money that is saved by making more efficient supply chain systems can be directed to a fund. If this fund is held in investments, then not only do you help the economy, but you grow money to further fund world hunger.

Much in the same way that investments are used to offset the effects of inflation, this food security fund can be used to grow money for the poor in years when supply chains were not so efficient at preventing waste.

As AI advances, it may even be possible to integrate the anticipation of leftover food (or money saved) as an event that is directly part of the supply chain.

It might even be necessary to do this in the future.

Can eSoil Help Food Security?

eSoil can be used to increase the amount of Hydroponic crop production. However, the main problem for food security is not production, it is efficiency. There is more than enough food to go around. So, electronic soil can only ensure food security on a small scale, not a large one.

eSoil might help food security, but it is not a solution. Here's How to Solve World Hunger and Food Insecurity in 2024.

IC INSPIRATION

You do not solve an overproduction problem by producing more.

Unless you only want to produce more for the people who have more, it becomes important to create a chain that efficiently funnels food and money to those who don’t have anything.

The problem is first anticipating the amount of food that is left over, and the amount of money that is saved. Then, we can get it to the hungry when they need it.

Have you heard of Lean Six Sigma? It is a methodology that originated in Japan. The Japanese were so efficient at producing Toyota’s that nobody could compete with them. In the 1990s, The CEO of Motorola adopted Lean, and Lean became Lean Six Sigma, which is now the backbone of the entire supply chain industry.

When Lean Six Sigma was introduced to Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric (GE), he said:We are going to shift the paradigm from fixing products to fixing and developing processes, so they produce nothing but perfection or close to it.”

His phrase sums up the meaning of efficiency… Food security is not a matter of production; it is a matter of efficiency.

Producing more food to feed the world is like General Electric fixing its product instead of the process that creates it.

By focusing on the product, you miss the big picture.

But by focusing on the process, you create the picture that you want.

This is why I say food security needs to become an actual part of the supply chain. By researching how Artificial Intelligence can predict food overproduction, shortages, inventory, and demand, you can make money that can go toward solving world hunger.

Here’s your typical supply chain:

  • Production, handling, packaging, distribution, retailing, consumption

There needs to be something more within, between, or after these that does the following:

  • Anticipates leftovers that can be directed to those who need it before it becomes “waste”
  • Reduces waste and saves money, and then funnels those savings into a growth fund made specifically for the poor and hungry

We all need a New Year’s resolution. How about a collective one?

If you’d give three cheers to that, then click on the links below, and follow us on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram for more motivational news!

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

Improving Mental Health With Kindness

Published

on

Improving Mental Health With Kindness

Have you ever wondered what you can do to instantly lift your mood?

A simple act of kindness can do just that.

There are many ways of improving mental health with kindness. Two of the most relatable are when you act as a known “giver,” such as helping an elderly person across a dangerous intersection, and the second way is to be the unknown “giver”—this one works as a pay-it-forward act of kindness. It includes things like paying for a stranger’s meal or coffee order without contact with the person you are helping. 

Regardless of which act you choose; it lifts the spirit. As humans, many of us are taught from childhood to be kind, polite, and helpful. After the act is done, there is praise from the authority figure who is teaching the mind of the young.  Smiling, clapping, or giving positive reinforcement, feeds the child’s soul and raises him or her to associate with kindness.

This is no different as an adult. We need to give kindness because kindness is a quality that is essential for mental health.

How does Kindness Improve Mental Health?

According to Professor Shahram Heshmat, when people are kind, it gives them a “helper’s high” which lowers stress hormones like cortisol. This allows the fight-or-flight response to calm down.

We live in a highly volatile world, especially these last several years.  People are rife with angst, frustration, and a “me first” attitude. If you are feeling any of these, it is important to feel like you are part of a world where others sometimes feel the same way. Kindness helps us relate to others. By performing a simple act of kindness, you bring yourself back to a state of calmness, and even joy.

A simple, genuine smile at someone can go a long way for your mental health. Doing kind things will improve your social connection with others, which in turn will make you feel better about yourself. Little by little, mental health can greatly improve.

Improving your mental health with kindness is a cycle. Not a vicious one, but one that is upbeat and inspirational.

Kindness Also Means Accepting Kindness from Others

Sometimes, it could seem that kindness does not come easily to some people, but kindness is a quality, and there are two simple ways to improve mental health with kindness:

  • Perform acts of kindness
  • Accept acts of kindness from others

For instance, let’s say that you are at a grocery store.  You just finished paying for your goods and go to grab your bag; it splits, and all the contents in that bag fall to the floor. 

As you scramble to rebag the contents, a stranger helps you by grabbing another bag and holding it out for you to fill it up. 

What do you do?

If you decide to smile and tell them thank you, it boosts your positive hormone, oxytocin.  You just took the first step to improve your mental health without realizing it. A genuine “thank you” can be very powerful.

“Your presence is an opportunity for others to do good things. This makes you a very important figure in people’s lives.”

Inspiring click: 15 small things that make you happy in big ways

Improving mental health with kindness

IC INSPIRATION

There are multiple ways to improve mental health. The purpose of this article boils down to one thing: KINDNESS MATTERS. 

It not only matters to the person who is receiving the kindness, it also matters to the person giving it.

You can improve your mental health with kindness and lift another person’s spirit.

By putting a smile on another person’s face, you make it easier to keep a smile on yours.

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

Dr. Michiaki Takahashi is Proof That Anything is Possible

Published

on

Dr. Michiaki Takahashi is Proof That Anything is Possible

Dr. Michiaki Takahashi

Before 1995, it’s estimated that chickenpox resulted in approximately 4 million cases, 10,000 hospitalizations, and up to 150 deaths per year. Now, because of the chickenpox vaccine, there are fewer than 150,000 cases, 1400 hospitalizations, and 30 deaths every year.

Dr. Michiaki Takashi is the inventor of the chicken pox vaccine, and probably the most amazing thing in the world is that he set off to find a cure because the illness had almost taken his 3-year-old son.

Imagine, someone you love is progressively showing severe symptoms for something that there is no cure for. When the only thing you think you can do is sit there and watch, and you think all hope is lost, something hits you…

“I realized then that I should use my knowledge of viruses to develop a chickenpox vaccine.”

The Best Place to Start is Where You Are

A lot of people have knowledge, and the need for knowledge is something that we hold very dearly.

But how many people understand the true power of the knowledge that they already have?

To want more of something is very human, but to understand the face value of what you already have can sometimes be very difficult; it may even be superhuman. This is because the future is potential that is yet to be revealed.

The fact is that Dr. Michiaki Takashi began creating a vaccine with what he already knew, and if you asked him whether he knew that he would save millions of children at the time, he probably wouldn’t have believed you.

The ability to save millions of people is, in fact, superhuman. It is the most “superhuman” thing anyone can do. But that is exactly what he did, and he did it as an ordinary man that we now call a hero…

All because he started from the place that he was in, and with what he already knew.

Hero’s Aren’t Born; They’re Made

Billy Butcher will tell you this firsthand, but then again, he probably won’t need to.

Dr. Michiaki Takahashi achieved his MD at Osaka University in 1954 when he was 26 years old. He moved to Texas in 1963 after spending five years as an assistant professor at the Research Institute for Microbial Disease at the same university.

Nearly a decade of medical school in Ozaka, five years of being an assistant professor, a 1-year fellowship in Houston Texas, and in 1964, his son developed varicella (chicken pox). This frightful situation became the inspiration for the vaccine that changed the entire world.

Hero’s aren’t born; they’re made. They are made of the experiences that come before the opportunity to make a real difference.

It is at that point where the hero arises.

Even Hero’s Need a Bit of Time

It wasn’t until 1972—nine years after his son developed varicella—that Dr. Michiaki Takahashi began the clinical trials to create a vaccine. For an entire seven years before that, he had to prove that:

  • the vaccine would not lead to shingles later in life.
  • The vaccine would not be carcinogenic.

These were both underlying worries of others that Michiaki Takahashi had to work with before he effectively changed the world. In fact, these fears are still alive and are partly attributed to the reason why chickenpox vaccination is not universally rolled out in many countries. That being said, people are much less likely to contract shingles after getting the vaccine than they are after getting chicken pox—which the vaccine prevents.

The drive to change the world was for the people who held the fears and worries that may have prevented the vaccine altogether.

This goes to show that things take time. There are no shortcuts to success, and if there were, can you be sure that the hero would grow into everything they can be?

The Real Reason That Dr. Michiaki Takahashi is a Hero

You may recall that the entire history of Takahashi’s life brought him to a moment where he decided to make a decision.

This decision has positively impacted the lives of billions of people, to a degree we can never truly comprehend. It is as if all the knowledge that he ever achieved was preparing him for something great.

It wasn’t what he knew that changed the world, it was what he did.

The reason that Dr. Michiaki Takahashi is a hero is that he chose to use that knowledge to make a positive difference.

Dr. Michiaki Takahashi. Osaka Research Institute for Microbial Diseases
Dr. Michiaki Takahashi: February 17, 1928 – December 16, 2013. [Osaka Research Institute for Microbial Diseases]

IC Inspiration

It used to be that knowledge was power, but I’m not so sure now.

In this day and age, knowledge is knowledge, and power is what you do with knowledge.

Knowledge is currently accessible at the tip of your fingers, and what you know is what millions of others may know.

That is precisely why getting followers is such a big deal for many; because if people know what you know then they can understand you, and those likes reflect to some degree that you are being understood.

You can raise $2 million in 2 months without knowing everything; in fact, you may only need to know one thing really well, and sometimes, that might not even be necessary.

With good intentions, a good idea, and determination, you might just change the entire world.

That is why this man is a hero in my books.

Continue Reading

Trending