Category Archives: Living well

How to change your brain (and why it’s so hard)

A few years ago I was fortunate to interview American  neuropsychologist and author Dr. Rick Hanson.  He has written a number of best-selling books that draw on his scientific and clinical knowledge of how the brain works combined with Buddhist concepts to teach people how to shape their brain for greater contentment, love, and wisdom.

Essentially, he teaches how neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways – can be used to create change in our lives. One of his comments stuck with me as it is a fundamental concept for understanding human behaviour. Continue reading How to change your brain (and why it’s so hard)

You can turn back time – how to stay fit and strong for your entire life

Cher looking incredible

Earlier this year, on my first ever trip to the US, I went to see Cher in Las Vegas. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a kid, so to see her live was a dream come true. Even more amazing, she has just turned 71. She was fantastic, and I don’t know any other 70-year-olds who look this incredible tripping around on a stage in sequins and thigh high boots.

Of course, there is plenty you do can make yourself look younger externally (well sort of) but internally, muscles and bones are a different story. Continue reading You can turn back time – how to stay fit and strong for your entire life

Why are New Zealand homes so unhealthy?

I wrote this article on unhealthy homes three years ago and it is so frustrating that nothing seems to have changed – in fact it seems to be worsening, especially with the housing bubble in Auckland. Houses simply aren’t being upgraded, and with more and more people renting, it is unlikely to change. Landlords tend to go for the cheapest possible option, and with no pressure or incentive to insulate houses, why would they bother. Until there is a mandatory WOF, I doubt that much will change. But how to achieve that? How many children will have to die from respiratory illnesses caused by poor housing before the government acts?

Research has been ongoing for the past 20 years about the shocking state of New Zealand’s housing stock, especially pre 2000 buildings.

“The Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington research group, led by Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, has also undertaken extensive research into the links and associations between housing and health over a number of years. This work has underpinned national and local policies for healthy homes. The research showed that 14 percent of children between two and fourteen years old, and 11 percent of all New Zealanders aged fifteen years or older have been diagnosed or had symptoms consistent with asthma. These are some of the highest rates in the world.”

If only . . . what can we do to help our friends who are struggling?

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun;
Nor the furious winter’s rages,
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney sweepers come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dread thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

I’ve been there. Standing outside a funeral home as pallbearers loaded a coffin into a hearse. A coffin in which lay a beautiful laughing woman, while mourners stood about, dumb-founded, in shock, dismayed – wondering how it had happened, wondering if only they had done something, anything. How could we be here? Only nine months earlier, this beautiful woman with a laugh that filled a room had been a bride. We, the mourners, had gathered together to celebrate a wedding. She had been so happy, laughing, toasting her big day with champagne.

Continue reading If only . . . what can we do to help our friends who are struggling?