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Do You Live in One of the Happiest Places in the World?

Where are the happiest places in the world to live? Norway has jumped to first place this year, with Denmark in second, Iceland in third and Switzerland in fourth. After this are Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. This comes according to the latest World Happiness Report that was released Monday by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the UN.

The US came in 14th, Germany was in 16th and the UK hit the 19th spot. Japan was in the 51st spot while China was in the 79th place.

What were the key measurements that made up the report? Real gross domestic product per capita was one measurement, another was generosity. Other measurements included a healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and having someone to count on. As explained by Jeffrey Sachs, the report’s co-editor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University,

“The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people — their well-being. As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”

The report also focused on happiness in the workplace. As Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, co-author of the report chapter on happiness at work explained, “There is a clear distinction in happiness between white and blue collar jobs with managers or professionals evaluating the quality of their lives at a much higher level than those in manual labor jobs even controlling for any possible confounding factors.”

Interestingly, the report found that the single biggest cause of misery in rich countries was mental illness.

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Enjoying the Work/Life Balance

We can all learn something from Peter Muller and the recent decisions that he’s made. As one of Wall Street’s best quant traders, Peter Muller should be working hard. After working incredibly hard for years, Muller decided in 1999 that he needed a break and he went on a sabbatical.

As he told Business Insider, “I became enormously successful, but I wasn’t as happy or fulfilled.” He travelled the world and used his incredible musical talent as a pianist.

When he returned, he managed to find that work/life balance that is elusive to so many. He told Morgan Stanley that he needed room in his life for music as well as business. As he said,

“I took a big step back. And I figured, I’m going to pursue music… I recorded a couple of albums, and I became executive chairman of the group that I built. And I realized that I needed both [music and work] – they both feed and influence the other.”

He’s been performing with his band at least once a month for the last nine years. And while he has a “crazy, busy life” he manages to perform at least once a month and to give the money to charity.

Here is a sample of his work:

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Ties Between Pregnancy Weight and Cerebral Palsy?

Scientists are warning about a new risk that overweight pregnant people might be taking for their unborn baby. Researchers at the University of Michigan looked at children born in Sweden from 1997-2011 and found that overweight moms put their babies at higher risk for cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy affects one in every 400 births in the US and the UK. Out of the children who were born as part of this study, 3029 children were diagnosed with cerebral palsy out of 1.4 million.

Professor Villamor said, ‘The number of women with a BMI of 35 or more globally doubled from approximately 50 to 100 million from 2000 through 2010. In the US, approximately half of all pregnant women have overweight or obesity at the first prenatal visit. Considering the high prevalence of obesity and the continued rise of its most severe forms, the finding that maternal overweight and obesity are related to rates of cerebral palsy in a dose-response manner may have serious public health implications.”

Researchers have also shown that children are more likely to put on weight if their parents were overweight before they were born.

These are certainly considerations that women should take into account as they think about their health and reproductive future.

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An Apple a Day…is Less Beneficial Than Ten!

Many researchers have recommended for years that you need five a day in order to stay healthy. That’s five fruits and vegetables every day. Now, however, they appear to be upping the ante, claiming that you actually need ten in order to get the full benefit of your fruits and vegetables.

Researchers at Imperial College London have found that ten 80gram portions of fruits and vegetables might actually help you to cut the risk of cancer by 13% and heart disease by 24%.

The lead author Dr. Dagfinn Aune explained, “Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system. This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk.’

While analyzing the data from 95 studies on fruits and vegetables, they found that people who had 10 a day were able to cut the risk of dying prematurely by almost a third. The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and also isolated which fruits and vegetables were the most desirable.

Of course this information may fall on deaf ears, since most people don’t follow the five a day rule, let alone have plans to up it to the ten a day one.

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3 Ways to Have a Successful Day

More than we could probably ever read in a lifetime has been written about how to be successful and what makes for success. This short list from Prevention.com, however, is unique and interesting for a few reasons. It’s quite short and offers concrete activities at a focused time. They found that successful and wealthy people do three main things when they get up in the morning, before even having breakfast.

Maybe they will make a difference for you, too.

The things are:

* Make that to-do list: Yes, before they even have their coffee, they make their to-do list and set their goals for the day. They detail tasks that need to get done and deadlines that need to be met – and they tick them off throughout the day.

* Turn on the music: This is interesting. They listen to uplifting playlists and enjoy this energy for their morning commute or at home before they head to the office.

* Get the mantra right: They read inspirational quotes and mantras from others to light that fire that they need for the day.
None of these ideas take very long and they don’t require too much brainpower. Try it. You just might like it.

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Ode to the Inventor of Pac-Man

For those of you who love Pac-Man, today is a sad day. And that’s because Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Namco, has died. Namco is the Japanese company started in 1955 that that was responsible for Pac-Man.

Pac-Man was designed by the video game engineer Toru Iwatani and first came to the market in 1980. It was named, by Guinness World Records, as the world’s most successful coin-operated video game.  The company has actually estimated that Pac-Man has been played more than 10 billion times.

The spin-offs of Pac-Man have been never-ending. Pac-Man has been adapted for cell phones and Nintendo, for Xbox and PlayStation, for animated films, for TV series and for loads of merchandise.

And where did Pac-Mac’s classic design start? According to Bandai Namco, it was inspired by none other than pizza. The name comes from the Japanese phrase that describes the Pac-Man eating the dots. It’s called “paku paku” and from that we got Pac-Man.

 

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3 New Ben & Jerry’s Flavors for 2017

Who doesn’t want to know about new Ben & Jerry’s flavors? And these three that are rolling out this year sound amazing. Here is the new line-up.

Urban Bourbon: This is going to be showing up in the grocery store aisles in mid-February and combines burnt caramel ice cream with almonds, fudge flakes and a bourbon caramel swirl. Yum!

Truffle Kerfuffle: This is a vanilla ice cream that will have roasted pecans in it, fudge chips and a salted caramel ganache swirl.

Oat of this Swirled: This one includes a buttery brown sugar ice cream and fudge flakes with oatmeal cinnamon cookie swirls.

This isn’t the first time that Ben & Jerry’s has thought of adding an alcoholic flavor to its concoctions. They had Tennessee Mud for awhile that included jack Daniels whiskey and roasted almonds with coffee ice cream and amaretto. They also had a White Russian ice cream that was in the market from 1986-1996.

Now it’s bourbon’s turn to shine.

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Warning: The Digital Age May Damage Your Eyes

Here’s another reason to be worried about your kids staying in front of their screens too much during the day – the habit might just make them blind. A study, conducted at University Complutense of Madrid in Spain with lead researcher Dr. Celia Sanchez-Ramos has found that the high energy light that is emitted from the digital screens will cause irreversible damage to the eyes through the deterioration of the retina.

This study actually studied the results of two previous studies. In one of them, the retinas of rats that were evaluated to tablet screens with white LED light was evaluated. One group had filtered light and the other group did not. After three months of exposure, the rat group that did not have filters had a 23% increase in retinal cell death. Those rats that had a filter experienced no cell death.

As Dr. Ranchez-Ramos explained, “These results are important because LED screens are being used by the majority of the population, adults and children, for work, school and entertainment.”

In the second study, the amount of light that entered the eye was evaluated based on the device being used, the user, the diameter of the pupil and how far the device was from the eye. The results found that children receive more light of shore wavelengths than do adults because they have shorter arms and have the devices closer to them.

There is certainly more research that needs to be done. But parents should take note of these findings. Experts recommend, as well, that you use the 20-20-20 rules. For every 20 minutes that you are looking at a screen, you should then look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to let your eyes relax.

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