Sweet Sorrow

I remember sitting with my young son once, watching a movie, a sad movie about a dog. I knew the scene was having an effect on him because it had a similar one on me. I watched him for a moment, feeling for him as the tears began to flow. When he realised I was watching, he turned and said he had an onion in his eye. It’s an excuse I’ve used myself since then.

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Photo by Steve Buissinne

Sometimes, emotions get the better of us, even when we try to control them. They set the tone for each of us in our daily lives. We wake in an emotional state, be it happy, sad, stressed, angry or relaxed, and head out into our day, reacting to the world and coping with our many moods. But these feelings can change in an instant. You awake to the sun shining through your window; the birds are singing; life is good. But then you glance at the alarm. Why didn’t it go off after you set it? You’ve overslept for crying out loud, and now you’ve missed the bus to work. Disaster has struck, and all because you lay there thinking happy thoughts. We’ve all been there. A letter in the mail to say you owe back-taxes just after getting a pay rise. A bump in your brand new car even though you never got a scratch on the old one. Emotions have a way of swinging with the breeze and with the events surrounding us. And, of course, they can play out in the opposite direction; you start off irritable but the day keeps getting better. By evening your floating on air. Bring on that bottle of wine before dinner; life is great. (might not be in the morning when you regret the second bottle of wine) Emotions play a significant part in our decision making; they affect everything from impulse buying to picking a partner, job decisions to which shoes you should wear. It’s impossible to go through life without experiencing an emotional response to everything in it.

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Photo by Gino Crescoli

There are generally recognised lists of emotions that include all the usual suspects. Anger, joy, sadness, fear, disgust, surprise. There are others like embarrassment, shame and pride. And what’s clear is that we can experience different, even opposing emotions simultaneously. The anxiety we feel on the first day of work, for instance, is usually accompanied by excitement, perhaps even pride, along with terror at the thought of failure. Scientists have all manner of explanations to tell us what, how and why emotions evolved in humans, and why they play such an essential role in daily life. Many of those explanations go back to basic survival instincts, like fight-or-flight, getting pleasure from eating certain foods, or the need to jealously protect your mate from intruders. Science can explain the physiological responses by talking about neurotransmitters and chemical stimulation. They’ll highlight the importance of hormones like cortisol, adrenalin, and melatonin. These all play a part in our emotional state. To most of us, however, it’s merely a question of how we feel at any one moment and how we interpret the emotions. We also need to react to the feelings of those around us.

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Photo by John Hain

Understanding body language is vital in our interactions with others. How we express our emotional state helps us communicate our state of mind. A smile can bring instant ease when confronted with a stranger. But subtle changes in that same smile can turn it from a greeting to a smirk, and in an instant to an aggressive warning of contempt or bravado. Tears are a display of pain, but also a way of saying to others that we may need help. We learn these cues from birth.

Sometimes we cry for no reason at all

Of all the physiological responses to emotions, tears are perhaps the most telling, but once again, they can be the result of very different emotions that can run side-by-side. We cry for many reasons, and in recent years, we’ve been encouraged to use tears freely as a vent for our emotions, especially when it comes to men. There are still those alpha-males who think tears are for the girls, but more and more men feel free to express their feelings by letting the tears flow. It’s long been known to have a therapeutic effect, a powerful way to get past grief. Sometimes laughter brings us to tears, and again, this brings conflicting emotions into close relationships. We cry when we are overwhelmed by emotions at either end of the scale; joy vs pain, despair vs happiness. We cry at weddings and funerals, at winning and losing, and we sometimes cry for no reason at all. I recall a moment when driving alone one day. I switched on the radio just in time to hear a boy chorister singing a requiem at Westminster Abbey, the sound so pure, I felt suddenly overwhelmed and brought to tears. I’ve heard of such instances before, but to be affected to such extreme emotion, purely by the beauty of sound, was indeed something I’ll never forget. I’ve been reduced to blubbering many times in my life, times when nothing could hold back the need to weep, though I’ve often felt the need to hide it. Perhaps the younger generations will feel less inhibited, but I’ve a feeling they’ll have a lot more to cry about.

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Photo by Cheryl Holt

Loss is a common reason people tear up and bawl. Like most people, I’ve lost family, friends and loved ones who’ve passed away, and, my family and I have said goodbye many times when we’ve migrated around the world, leaving behind those we hold dear. But the loss of those close to us is when those darned emotions start playing tricks again. Our tears are full of mixed feelings, and sadness is tinged with the happy memories we’ve shared. In grieving a loss, we experience all manner of emotions, and they are often at odds with one another. This is because you can’t have grief without knowing the joy of love, and if you never had love, you can never know the real tragedy of grief. That’s why parting is such sweet sorrow.

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Photo courtesy of S. Hermann & F. Richter

 

That’s why parting is such sweet sorrow

Big Little Lies

without so much as a game of whack-the-piñata

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Photo by Hello I’m Nik

Little lies, white lies, little untruths, have a habit of becoming big lies when they’re repeated and spread on a wider scale. Dig yourself a little hole and pretty soon you’re preparing your own grave. I remember going away on our family’s summer vacation–I was about ten years old at the time. We returned home two weeks later to find a number of neighbourhood kids and school friends, waiting on the doorstep. Dressed in party frocks and Sunday best, they had arrived, as invited, to my birthday party. It was a surprise party! Mum and Dad were not impressed as they were the ones surprised. I had to watch in total misery, as my guests departed without so much as a game of whack-the-piñata, taking the gifts they had brought with them. I was in the dog house–paddling in doggie doo–for weeks. What was I thinking? Well, it started out as a little lie; I was having a party, I told my best friend, then very soon… Well, you know how it goes, and give me a break, I was only ten. The least Mum could have done was to let me keep the presents before sending everyone home.

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Photo by Social Cut

Of course, there are bigger little lies, conspiratorial lies deliberately spread until they become the truth–Just ask Donald Trump–and these lies can have a serious effect on our lives. Take this one for instance: Fat is bad for you, sugar (refined carbohydrates) is good. Who wouldn’t believe that one; everyone loves carbohydrates, right? And dieticians told us to eat them in bulk; just take a look at the dietary pyramid they’ve been using for decades. Except, this is a lie that became so big, it’s lasted for fifty-odd years. And there are still some who try to keep the lie going. What’s worse is that this one kills people by the thousands. If you wanted to find a way to kill off half the population, this would be the perfect weapon. I have a picture in my mind of Dr Evil, sitting in his secret hideaway beneath a Pacific Ocean volcano, saying, ‘Let’s feed them sugar and say it’s good. Ha, ha, ha, ha!’ Cut to his evil grin. The worst thing about this lie is that as conspiracies go, this was probably the most successful conspiratorial lie of all time. Dr Evil managed to brainwash all the doctors, dieticians and researchers to go along with his evil plan. Some didn’t even need brainwashing, because they did it for payoffs, bribed by the drug companies who were part of Dr Evil’s secret empire. Profit above all else is his motto.

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Mike Myers as Dr Evil

You don’t need to be a health professional to understand the effects this lie has had, in fact, it’s probably best that you’re not in the health industry, or you’d be feeling the guilt by now. Dr Evil–better known as Big Business–has profited from making us sick, and just like the cigarette companies of the past, they knew exactly what they were doing when they told us they knew best. Food companies have consistently laced our food with sugary poison; to the extent that–unless you have raw produce–it’s in everything we eat; just look at the labels. Then there’s the drug companies, multi-billion dollar organisations, reaping the profits by treating the addicts they helped create. These mega food and drug companies fund all the health research so that the outcomes favour their vast commercial interests. And when you have organisations like The Heart Foundation and Diabetes Foundation (receiving funding from big business) towing the company line, you know you have a big, big problem. Just drop into their websites to see that they are still making excuses to justify sugar (refined carbohydrates) as an essential part of the diet, despite proof to the contrary. These are the organisations supposed to protect us.

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Photo by Freestocks.Org

Then there’s the other half of the same lie, cholesterol is the cause of heart disease and other medical conditions, and is caused by fat in the diet. Ask a doctor, she’ll tell you. But in reality, just like cholesterol itself, fat is essential for our health. It promotes satiety and protects against heart disease, the exact opposite of what they’ve been telling us all these years. Refined grains, on the other hand, make us want to eat, eat and eat again, play havoc with our blood sugar, and make us store fat by the bucket full. Meanwhile, these same health experts have been selling us cholesterol-lowering drugs to the tune of billions of dollars in profits. Add to that that they promoted so-called good oils in place of natural fats–margarine, canola and corn oil–all of which have a toxic effect on the body, and they had even more reason to dish out the drugs to correct it.

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Photo by Victoria Shes

Why has it taken over half a century to wake from our sleep and start discovering we’ve been lied to? The answer is that we trusted those charged with our welfare. When doctors and dieticians blindly aid in promoting the lie, what chance has the truth? When research is funded to make us believe in false data, are we supposed to know any better when even the doctors are fooled? There are those better positioned than me to sift through the disinformation and find honest answers. People like the Canadian, Dr Jason Fung, who brilliantly talks about the obesity problem, hormones of the gut and the conflicts of researchers and doctors who promote the lie. Ivor Cummings talks about cholesterol and how hormones form an essential part of the picture, and Dr Michael Mosley’s Blood Sugar Diet, explains how things can easily be improved by how and when we eat, how we can take back control of our health.

There are better ways to look after our health

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Photo by Jafar Ahmed

Listening to these people with an open mind quickly brings any rational person to conclude that we’ve been living a huge lie, while all the time the truth has been right in front of our eyes. The proof is in the pudding–literally–and living a healthy life is sustainable once we’ve broken free of the sugar addiction (easier than you could imagine). Eat fat, cut out the sugar. I’ve seen the proof first hand, where the right change of diet and lifestyle has reversed medical conditions, brought weight back to healthy levels and allowed drugs taken for years to be discarded. We don’t have to give up the sweat treat completely, but like any drug, we have to recognise its power and understand that there are pushers ready and willing to kill us for profit.

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Photo by Katie Smith

Our weekly shopping trolley now looks much like it would have done in the 1950s; it’s full of fresh produce, meat, fish, eggs and dairy. It’s a Mediterranean diet; and oh, I’ve got news for you; the Mediterranean diet is not bread, pizza and pasta. I went to see my doctor to get the results of my latest blood tests after months of cutting refined carbohydrates out of my diet, eating within an eight-hour window, and cutting out snacks in between meals. ‘Good news,’ she said, ‘you won’t be needing that cholesterol-lowering medication after all. All your results are excellent.’ I wonder why?

As little lies go, Fat is bad, sugar is good, is a DIRTY GREAT BIG ONE!