With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we dedicate this issue to
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we dedicate this issue to
By Hope Katz Gibbs Be Inkandescent
Dr. Andrew Weil is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine—a healing-oriented approach to health care that encompasses body, mind, and spirit. A Harvard University-trained doctor, he is the founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona’s Health Sciences Center.
We’ve been fans of the mind-body connection doctor since the 1990s, and we think you’ll be as fascinated as we are to get firsthand insights into one of his latest books, “Spontaneous Happiness.” Scroll down to read our Q&A. And click here to listen to our interview with Dr. Weil on the Inkandescent Radio Network.
Be Inkandescent: In “Spontaneous Happiness,” you are honest about what it means to be happy—and how in America our culture is obsessed with the unrealistic notion of feeling blissful all the time. You also share that there have been moments in your life when you felt very sad, depressed even. Why is depression such a problem for so many Americans—and why, without trying alternative therapies, do the masses rush to take medication to brighten their moods?
Andrew Weil: I think most people think of happiness as something that comes when you get something that you don’t have, something from outside, whether it’s a new car or a better job. I don’t think that’s the way it works. I think what you really want to strive for is contentment, which is an inner feeling of being complete and whole and satisfied, regardless of what your external circumstances are.
First of all, moods are supposed to vary. We’re not supposed to be happy all the time. There are highs and lows, just as there are variations from everything in nature. And so the neutral point is not happiness. I think it’s a place where you feel comfort, contentment, balance, wholeness. And I think you want to cultivate that feeling more and more. And then it’s okay if you go up above that or below it. You don’t want to have huge swings and you don’t want to get stuck in the depth. But I think it’s good to accept the normal variations of mood.
Be Inkandescent: You have drawn a lot on Eastern psychology, especially Buddhist psychology, which offers many insights into the mind and what the goal should be.
Andrew Weil: Right. And I’ve also looked at Western psychology and the strategies that are available to help people. In addition, my work on integrative medicine has made me aware of lifestyle factors that affect our mental and emotional well-being. That includes how we eat, how we exercise, how we rest and sleep, a whole range of choices we make.
Be Inkandescent: The heart of the book has very practical tips. In fact, you help readers assess their emotional well-being, you offer advice on lifestyle, behavior, and dietary changes that will make you feel better. Can you give us some tips that our listeners and readers can apply today?
Andrew Weil: Sure. The strongest scientific evidence we have for physical interventions are for regular physical activity, both as a treatment and preventive for depression, and also for the use of supplemental fish oil. I recommend two to four grams a day for optimum brain health and mood health. On the mental level, I think there are a whole lot of things we can do.
One is to choose wisely what we expose ourselves to. If you constantly listen to sad music and read sad novels and watch sad programs on TV, chances are you will be sad. So you can make choices about that. And moods are contagious, so it is good to spend time in the company of people who make you feel optimistic and positive.
There is also a section on spiritual techniques, because there’s a great deal of evidence that gratitude can boost mood. Having gratitude for your blessings is so easy. You just have to remember to be grateful for things. Keeping a gratitude journal is an easy way to keep this list. Just get a little notebook, keep it by your bed, and during the day make mental notes of things you’re grateful for—it could be as simple as the rising of the sun or seeing a flower—and when you go to bed just jot these down. Doing that for one week can boost mood for up to several months.
Don’t stop now! Click here to read more of our Q&A with Dr. Andrew Weil in Tips for Entrepreneurs.
DECEMBER 2013: TIPS FOR ENTREPRENEURS
Be Inkandescent’s Q&A with Dr. Andrew Weil, author of, “Spontaneous Happiness”
Are you seeking happiness? “I observe that many people are,” says Dr. Andrew Weil. “They imagine it will come to them if they get a raise, a new car, a new lover, or something else they want but do not have. My own experience, repeated many times, is that the actual emotional reward of getting and having is usually much less than the one imagined.”
Which is why he penned, “Spontaneous Happiness,” he says. The book offers more than 250 pages of recommendations to help us create an internal state of well-being that is relatively impervious to life’s transient ups and downs, and independent of what you have and don’t have.
What’s amazing to Dr. Weil is that one in 10 Americans—including children—are taking antidepressant drugs. The World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2030, more people worldwide will be affected by depression than by any other health condition.
Dr. Weil, who has struggled with moderate depression himself through midlife, investigates how we got here, what we can do outside of traditional medicine to start feeling more content, and how we can sustain this contentment through life’s inevitable dark patches.
In “Spontaneous Happiness,” he explains how, scientifically, emotionally, and spiritually, humans have the innate ability to achieve positive emotions without external agencies—a process he calls spontaneous because it is a natural one that does not rely on drugs or other medicines.
Scroll down for our Q&A, and click here for Dr. Weil’s 8-Week Plan to a Lifetime of Emotional Well-Being.
Be Inkandescent: What we love most about your book is the practical advice that you offer — including some affordable herbal remedies, that fact that exposure to light is really important, and simple breathing techniques to alleviate anxiety. Can you touch a little bit about each of these?
Dr. Andrew Weil: I think it is very important to get some exposure to bright light during the day as well to sleep in complete darkness. That’s a way of regulating our sleep-wake cycles, which are essential to good well-being. The most familiar herbal remedy is St. John’s Wort, and there’s good scientific evidence that this is quite useful for mild to moderate depression. It takes a while to work, there are some cautions about it, but generally it is safe and effective. I give specifics in the book on how to use that.
By the way, two other supplements are especially useful. One is vitamin D; it’s very important to get your vitamin D levels checked and to supplement to bring them up if they are low. There’s also a remedy called SAM-e. This is not herbal but it’s a dietary supplement that works quickly. It also has a benefit of alleviating pain of osteoarthritis. For people who are stressed and have muscular pain, it’s a good choice.
The breathing technique is a favorite subject of mine. I teach all patients simple breathing exercises. This draws on yoga philosophy. But regulation of breath is a very powerful technique to affect emotions. It’s impossible to be anxious, upset, angry, if you are breathing deeply, slowly, quietly, and regularly. So that gives you a method of controlling your emotional state at the very start of feeling anxious or upset. If you make your breathing deep, slow, quiet, and regular you can shut that off.
Be Inkandescent: Let’s step back a bit. Tell us—what inspired you to write this book?
Dr. Andrew Weil: I’m very alarmed at the completely reckless use of antidepressant medication in our culture today. I think one in 10 adults now are taking antidepressants. One in four of us are on psychiatric medication of some kind, including lots of kids. We have no idea what these drugs do to developing brains.
The pharmaceutical industry has been very successful in convincing people that ordinary states of sadness are matters of unbalanced brain chemistry that need to be treated with drugs. All of that has made me very concerned, and I wanted to give people practical alternatives to taking those medications—and instructions on how to get off them if you are on them.
They have their uses. There are certainly people with severe depression would do well on antidepressant drugs. But even then I would use them for a limited period, say up to a year, and then find ways to maintain improvement in other ways.
And I think there’s an awful lot of discontent in our society, as well as a lot of unreasonable cultural expectations—and this is going to be really strong as the holidays approach—that we are supposed to be happy all the time. That’s just not what human beings are. So I think coming to terms with our moods and learning simple strategies for maintaining that emotional sea level are very important. There’s just a lot of useful information that most people don’t know.
Be Inkandescent: Tell us more about the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. We’re huge fans of your research director, Dr. Esther Sternberg (pictured right), who was our Entrepreneur of the Month in June 2012, talking about “The Business of Healing Yourself.” She inspired us to connect with you for this issue. So tell us more about your Center.
Dr. Andrew Weil: Our major focus has been education. We train physicians, nurse practitioners, medical residents, and medical students in integrative medicine, which is this new system that incorporates alternative medicine, natural therapies, with standard medicine.
We’ve now graduated more than a thousand physicians from very intensive two-year trainings. In addition, we offer an integrated medicine clinic in Phoenix. It’s a primary care clinic that’s delivering this kind of medicine to increasing numbers of patients.
We do active research, which Dr. Sternberg is conducting and directing. And I would say we are the leading center in the world for training people in this new system, which I very firmly believe, is the future of healthcare.
Be Inkandescent: We also want to talk about your newest book, “True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure,” which also marks your foray into the restaurant business. The book features more than 125 recipes for the fresh, flavorful, healthy dishes you serve at your True Food Kitchen locations, of which there are currently seven — in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Texas. And it’s our featured article in our December 2013 Restaurant column, where we share two of your healthy, delicious recipes.
Dr. Andrew Weil: This is based on my philosophy of an anti-inflammatory diet, which figures prominently in, “Spontaneous Happiness.” There is evidence that uncontrolled inflammation of the body, which is the root of many chronic diseases, is also correlated with depression. And therefore following an anti-inflammatory diet is a very good strategy for both preventing and treating depression.
This is a way of eating based on the Mediterranean diet. I’ve added Asian influences to it. It in no way deprives you of pleasure, and I think the success of these kitchen restaurants shows that people love this kind of food, and the cookbook gives many recipes that are based on this philosophy.
Be Inkandescent: What are some of your favorite recipes?
Dr. Andrew Weil: There’s a kale salad that is one of the most popular and is a traditional Italian dish actually. There’s also a vegan curry cauliflower soup, which I invented and is terrific hot or cold. Click here to view those, and more.
Be Inkandescent: Let’s talk a little bit about the adventure of getting into the restaurant business. You said it began in 2007 when your business partner, Richard Baxter, arranged a meeting with third-generation restaurateur Sam Fox. Tell us about that.
Dr. Andrew Weil: I’m a very good home cook and I’ve developed my skills over the years. I make really good food, I’ve invented a lot of recipes, and many people over the years have said, “You ought to open a restaurant!” I was smart enough to know that I knew nothing about the restaurant business and that it was a very tough business. But eventually I had the chance to meet a very successful restaurateur, Sam Fox.
I told him that I thought nobody had tried to bring together the worlds of good nutrition and fine dining and I proposed this concept to him. But he didn’t get it. He said health food doesn’t sell. And I think he just thought I was talking about tofu and sprouts. So I invited him and his wife to my house and I cooked for them. He liked the food and his wheels began turning.
He said he was willing to give it a try but was very skeptical. He found a chef from one of his restaurants, Michael Fender, who I was able to work with pretty well. We created these menus. The first restaurant opened in Phoenix. It was wildly successful from Day One. We now have six, including locations in Colorado and California. There’s a seventh opening in Dallas next month. pretty soon we’ll have restaurants in many locations around the country.
Be Inkandescent: What else is on the horizon for you? What other books are you working on?
Dr. Andrew Weil: I’m actually doing a second cookbook now because there was a lot of demand from people for really simple, quick recipes. I constantly hear that people don’t have time to cook, that it’s intimidating, and too hard. It’s ironic that the sales of cookbooks are at an all time high and more people are watching cooking shows on TV than ever, but at the same time, fewer people than ever are cooking.
So it seems as if cooking has become an entertainment more than something you actually do. So I want to compile a book that gives recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less and that also conform with the principles of the anti-inflammatory diet. So the new book will be, “True Food: Quick and Easy.”
Be Inkandescent: Before you go, tell us: What is the one big message you want people to take away, not from just these books, but from all of your work in general?
Dr. Andrew Weil: That lifestyle factors under your control are the major determinants of health—how you age, how you move through the world with your mood. And just by learning some of these simple principles—how to eat and how to improve your body with the proper rest and sleep, how to reduce the harmful effects of stress—if you put these things into practice you can save yourself a lot of trouble and money and visits to doctors. And you can go through life in a state of good health, physical and mental.
To listen to our podcast interview with Dr. Andrew Weil, visit the Entrepreneur Radio Show on the Inkandescent Radio Network.
If you would create something, you must be something.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.”
No longer talk at all about the kind of man a good man ought to be, but be such.”
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
The journey is the reward.”
No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”
The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.”
If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”
Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”
Booker T. Washington
Of course there is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.”
Never never never never give up.”
Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”
Leon Joseph Suenens
Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.”
The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's
Who cares if my glass is half empty or half full; I still have something to drink.”
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
Do not say, ‘why were the former days better than these,’ for it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Traveling is one way of lengthening life, at least in appearance.”
The awakening to the mystery of life is a revolutionary event; in it an old world is destroyed so that a new and better one may take its place.”
J.J. Van Der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion
I can’t go back to yesterday—because I was a different person then.”
Women once had the goal of being Superwoman; I think most of us now simply strive to have a super day.”
Author, Activist Lee Woodruff
Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”
Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew, and in that there is joy.”
J. Kristnhamurti, The First and Last Freedom
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which obstacles vanish.”
John Quincy Adams
The gem cannot be polished without friction; nor man perfected without trials.”
Are you willing to help other people succeed even when it’s not a requirement of your job to be of assistance?”
We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”
General Omar Bradley
Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”
Remove those ‘I want you to like me’ stickers from your forehead and, instead, place them where they truly will do the most good—on your mirror.”
The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.”
Never cut what you can untie.”
If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.”
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
William Butler Yeats
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
This is the age when magical technologies make more and more radically fun ideas plausible, even easy. You’re only limited by your creativity.”
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”
A lot of people have ideas, but few decide to do something about them now. Not next week. But today.”
Nolan Bushnell, founder, Atari
Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”
The world I believed in, back in my most innocent, uninformed, childish mind—is real.”
It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”
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