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Learn FromYour Pets and Get Healthier Too!

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Learn FromYour Pets and Get Healthier Too!

    “A dog has a lot of friends because he wags his tail and not his tongue.” – Anonymous

    Even if they do not know it, pets can teach us a lot about life and happiness. No matter what kind of hair day we are having, how deflated we feel, or whether or not we said or did something stupid, they love us anyway. Nothing is going to keep them away from wanting to nuzzle up to you and lick your face – no matter what!

    For instance, you do not need to actually have a dog to appreciate the appeal of being greeted at the door with a wagging tail, eager to greet you like you are the most important person in the world.

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    • Pets do not judge you and find fault — they accept you as you are unconditionally.
    • Since they do not judge, they will not notice or remember what you did wrong and therefore will never remind you!
    • They don’t ask for much more than the basics — food, shelter and your company – they take what they can get!
    • They have mastered the art of radical acceptance and unconditional love.
    • They show appreciation and can give love without expecting much in return
    • They are living in the moment — they do not get hung up on what happened, what might have happened, and what might happen in the future.

    Learning from what pets can teach us will keep you focused on many key ingredientsfor success in relationships and in life: love, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, loyalty and a total focus on today.

    There is also considerable evidence that pets are actually good for your health. Medical issues ranging from high blood pressure, depression and even allergies have been shown to be alleviated by having pets. Yes — even allergies!

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    Despite the common notion that pets and people who are allergic do not jive, in actuality studies that shown that infants who grow up in a homes with furry friends are actually are less likely to be allergic to pets. Researcher James Gem, M.D. states that actually children growing up with furred animals have less incidence of eczema and stronger immune systems. Drs. Rita and Blair Justice of University of Texas medical center even compare petting a dog with eating chocolate, claiming both have been are helpful in releasing the “feel-good” chemicals like serotonin that and other brain chemicals that they measured while studying the effects of pets on the brain.

    Pets can even improve your work life. Having pets in the office have actually been shown to increase productivity as well as morale! I assume, of course, they need to be the well-behaved type!

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    And don’t forget (of course) that pets are a date magnet, and a wonderful social lubricant to meet friends and break into conversations with a cute focal point that already makes people smile!

    So next time you want a health or social boost, or are anchored down by regrets and misgivings of the past, reach for a pet and feel good!

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    My question to you: Would your life be different if you followed the lessons of acceptance, unconditional love and present-centeredness that pets can teach you? If so, how? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

    (Photo credit: Young Gorl Happy to Lay With Dog via Shutterstock)

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    Judy Belmont

    Mental health author, motivational speaker and psychotherapist

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    Last Updated on January 27, 2022

    5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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    5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

    Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

    “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

    Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

    Food is a universal necessity.

    It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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    Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

    Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

    Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

    Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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    The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

    Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

    This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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    Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

    Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

    Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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    So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

    Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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