While there's nothing earth-shattering here, the book makes an excellent point that in order to relate better to our canine companions we ought to inv...moreWhile there's nothing earth-shattering here, the book makes an excellent point that in order to relate better to our canine companions we ought to invest more effort in thinking about how they perceive the world.
Perhaps that's the most surprising revelation here: how little scientific and purposeful thought we've given to how our dogs friends think and what makes them happy. While, dogs on the other hand, watch and respond sensitively to our every move and mood.
The book counters some conventional wisdom and wrong-thinking which has lead to misguided and harmful training techniques i.e. dogs do not behave like wolves. They do not need to be dominated and, in fact, this can cause them anxiety and fear.
This book is part of a growing and useful trend toward delving more into the emotional lives of animals, not in the sense of anthropormorphizing, but rather in perceiving the world in the way another species would. Dogs, for example, have a huge olfactory world available to them.
It's a helpful point of view. Bradshaw makes a strong case for the need to think about how to access and maximize the potential of the inner world of dogs to help them integrate and be our companions in modern society rather than simply breeding them to look a certain way - often to the detriment of their health and temperament.
The book ends on a pessimistic note about the fate of dogs, if their needs are not taken into consideration. As a dog lover, I have to feel more hopeful about the future of dogs. What would we do without them?
Loyal dog people will certainly read books like this and speak out to make changes (in training techniques, breeding, welfare) on the dogs' behalf. Won't they?
This researched-based self-help book gets straight to the bottom line: happiness.
Sure, you can lose weight, get rich, and influence people, but will...moreThis researched-based self-help book gets straight to the bottom line: happiness.
Sure, you can lose weight, get rich, and influence people, but will these things make you happier? No, according to research.
On the other hand by becoming happier, "...we not only boost experiences of joy, contentment, love, pride, and awe but also improve other aspects of our lives: our energy levels, our immune systems, our engagement with work and with other people, and our physical and mental health...we benefit not only ourselves but also our partners, families, communities, and even society at large."
Even so, the pursuit of happiness may sound frivolous. One researcher titled his study "subjective well-being" fearing that happiness wouldn't get him promoted. The jargon caught on.
But consider, "The World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2020 depression will be the second-leading cause of mortality in the entire world, affecting 30 percent of all adults." and many more of us who aren't clinically depressed may be languishing, "...living stagnant, empty lives or to quote Thoreau, "Leading lives of quiet desperation.' " The latest estimate is that 11 percent of people fall into this category.
Meanwhile, the kingdom of Bhutan, the last Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas, made increasing the happiness of its people the focus of its economic development strategy. Boosting the nation's gross domestic happiness, produced society wide benefits.
The book lays out 12 strategies to become happier. If you are a relatively happy person (Not sure? The book includes a couple of tests), you may already do many of these things (expressing gratitude, practicing acts of kindness, nurturing social relationships, taking care of your body etc.) The book suggests doing them mindfully on a weekly basis. It also gives some guidance as to which activities you personally might focus on for maximum happiness (there's another quiz).
It suggests that it's worthwhile to put more effort into being happy. "In a nutshell, the fountain of happiness can be found in how you behave, what you think and what goals you set every day of your life."
Happily, research shows it is possible to increase your happiness and that people generally get happier with age.
Pairs well with works by philosophers and idealists, who are at home with the topic of happiness: "No Impact Man" the movie; Thoreau, Plato, Proust (his famous madeleine cookie description is referenced as a description of the happiness strategy savoring): Walt Whitman (also noted as a person who savored life) (less)
The China Study provides a rebuttal to diet plans such as Atkins and South Beach, but tellingly it's not located on the same shelves as these books. Y...moreThe China Study provides a rebuttal to diet plans such as Atkins and South Beach, but tellingly it's not located on the same shelves as these books. You'll find it in the nutrition section. Campbell is to diet and nutrition advice what John Gottman is to relationship advice (a scientist who provides a reasoned analysis of what works after investing a lifetime of the research in the subject and walking the talk in his own life). It's sound advice not sensational.
The China Study won't tell you anything you probably didn't already know or intuit about what to eat. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are good for you. Eat a variety. Don't go hungry. You can't get enough of these healthy foods.
"Eating should be an enjoyable worry-free experience, and shouldn't rely on deprivation," Campbell says.
What is startling though is how good these good foods are — so much so that the preventative effects of these foods trump genetics. They stave off heart disease and cancer. These and many other diseases are not inevitable, but can be prevented, even treated, by eating only healthy foods. Campbell makes the case in chapter after chapter of compelling research.
For an interesting comparison read this with Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman's Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. Kurzweil also argues that illness and infirmity are not inevitable with age although his approach relies on a barrage of supplements and technological innovation. Kurzweil says technology will save us whereas Campbell says nature provides. Noting the appetizing color of fruits and vegetables that contain the antioxidants, which shield our bodies from disease, Campbell says, "Whether you believe in God, evolution or just coincidence, you must admit this is a beautiful, almost spiritual, example of nature's wisdom."
Campbell also offers some behind the scenes insight into how nutrition information gets researched and passed on to the public and why we get mixed messages and confusing information about what to eat.
But "good food and good health is simple," Campbell says. He boils all the studies and research down to one sentence, "...eat a whole foods, plant-based diet, while minimizing the consumption of refined foods, added salt and added fats."
Ethicist Peter Singer makes a compelling argument that we need to create a stronger Culture of Giving and suggests a specific standard for what people...moreEthicist Peter Singer makes a compelling argument that we need to create a stronger Culture of Giving and suggests a specific standard for what people in wealthy countries could do to help those in impoverished ones.
He references Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Unnatural Mother" in talking about the "radical" utopian ideal of having a larger sense of family, mentioning how some utopian communities have tried (and failed) to instill a sense of community versus parental responsibility, and asking the question, "Are there times when our obligation to others is equal to or greater than that to our family?"
This book pairs well with "Mountains Beyond Mountains," a biography by Tracy Kidder about the work of Harvard-trained medical anthropologist, Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health. The organization, mentioned frequently in Singer's book, provides health care in some of the poorest nations. (less)