WWB Presents the BOOK WISE 2018 WINTER PICK ‘Into The Magic Shop’–Q&A with Author about the Real Power of Love, Kindness, & Compassion

Jan 26, 2018 by



AUTHOR PROFILE: James Doty, MD, is a clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University and the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University School of Medicine. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of CA, Irvine and medical school at Tulane University. He trained in neurosurgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and completed fellowships in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP) and in neuroelectrophysiology focused on the use of evoked potentials to assess the integrity of neurological function. Dr. Doty is also an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist having given support to a number of charitable organizations including Children as the Peacemakers, Global Healing, the Pachamama Alliance and Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley.


Laura Connolly, Founder of WWB (aka Lauroly) Opening: Welcome Dr. Doty, it is my honor to have you join me for a Q&A at World Wise Beauty. Your book “Into the Magic Shop” has been out for two years but I just discovered it recently and just had to share it as a ‘Book Wise’ selection. The focus at World Wise Beauty is about cultivating wellness wisdom, with the understanding that each of us have our own unique journey in life. Your life story is a prime example of a ‘unique journey’ and cultivating wellness wisdom. There’s a beautiful speech you gave to medical students at Tulane University later in your career, that describes life’s ‘journey’ profoundly. You had tears in your eyes when you gave the speech and so did most of your audience. I would love to share it, but I think readers should discover it on their own when they read your book.  It will mean so much more once they read your very personal story.

There are so many well respected authors and visionaries from around the world who sing praises about your book. One expert called it “a moving memoir focused on the power of compassion and kindness”. It would be too simple to say your book is about your life journey and how sometimes we lose our way to find our way. It’s so much more than this. It’s an extremely honest story about how disconnecting from ourselves ( our feelings, heart and our pain) can lead us astray and eventually catch up with us in self-destructive ways. It’s also an inspirational story because you created magic in your life with little to no support and despite the huge obstacles you faced at every major junction in your life. What I kept thinking in my head as I read your book, was a Robert Frost quote, “The best way out is always through.” Sometimes we have to live through things to become wise and self-actualize. The other thing I noted early on when reading your book, was how you stated unequivocally that you loved your parents, and you knew they loved you even when they let you down. This made me smile. Love is powerful and it overcomes and compensates for many things in our life. So what I would like to do is start here with a focus on love, and your belief  that we are wired to ‘care, love and be kind’.

Lauroly Q- I know the protagonist in your book was “Ruth’ who demonstrated to you what unconditional kindness and compassion is, but what I found when reading your childhood memories is you had already possessed an abundance of love, kindness and compassion as a child. You were able to give love, and recognize love despite the turmoil of living with your dysfunctional family. You were also forgiving despite the real limitations of your alcoholic father. You were acutely aware of your parents challenges as a young boy, and you also knew they loved you. As I read your story, I kept thinking love has many languages and what is most important is that it is translated and understood. I love the chapter in your book “Alphabet of the Heart’. How did you know your parents loved you despite the disruptive turmoil in your home?

Dr. James Doty: When individuals are suffering and in pain very often they are self-focused and it is hard for them to be present and be emotionally available. This was case with my parents. As I mentioned, my father was an alcoholic and my mother had sustained a stroke and was frequently depressed to the point where she attempted suicide on multiple occasions. That being said, I remember my mother going out with what little money she had to buy something special for my brother, sister and myself at times. I was also a picky eater and when possible she would pack a special lunch for me that had things I liked. Even though my father was often distant, he still expressed his love for me. I remember having to bail him out of jail while in college which took all the money I had. I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to pay my rent. A week before my rent was due, I received a note from my father and he had signed over a check he had received that not only paid for the bail but paid my rent for three months. He really had no money at that time but regardless he gave it to me. So in all these ways, my parents showed they cared as best they could.

Lauroly Q-  Thank you for your very sensitive and eloquent answer Dr. Doty. A wise quote from Plato that runs through my mind almost every day is “The part can never be well, unless the whole is well.” How many times have we seen public figures or celebrities fall apart or worse die, and wonder how could that be? They look fit, healthy and on top of the world and yet were literally crumbling inside because of either untreated mental illness, depression, lack of connection with both themselves and others around them, or struggling with severe drug addiction. Your inspiring story reminds us that mind, body and spirit must dance together. Herein lies the magic of our existence and the secret to living well. Do you think looking back at the young boy you were, you could really understand what Ruth meant by “letting your heart be your compass”? Perhaps your heart was just a bit over extended for a young boy? You had to grow up pretty fast didn’t you?

Dr. James Doty: My story as a boy is not an uncommon one in a family dynamic that suffers from mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse or poverty. Often children are put into position where they have responsibilities far beyond what they should be given. For some it builds strength that allows them to grow, others it creates anger and hostility and for others they descend into abuse of alcohol and drugs or develop mental disorders. But for the grace of God, I met Ruth who taught me how to see the world a different way and not to carry anger or hostility about my situation. And to also recognize that everyone is suffering. I was fortunate to have met someone who cared and took the time to teach me.

Lauroly Q- You were indeed fortunate to have met a special person like Ruth who shared her time and wisdom with you. This is the amazing thing about humans, that we can not only go through very painful experiences, but find forgiveness and go on to be compassionate human beings despite our past experiences. What do you think the catalyst is? Why can some hearts overcome and others completely close up? I want to say it is because somewhere along the way a person has to experience ‘kindness, compassion and love’. It may not be at home, but they have to know it, feel it, and experience it on their life journey. The younger the better. I always think about simple acts of kindness throughout my day interacting with people–how my kind actions however small can make a difference to a person traveling this journey of life.

Dr. James Doty: I think you’re right that to be compassionate often we have to have received compassion. It is hard to imagine that someone who has repeatedly suffered and never experienced love can give love and compassion to another. Usually such individuals carry not only deep pain but immense anger. They are also not self-compassionate as they believe that since they didn’t receive compassion or love that they don’t deserve it.

Lauroly Closing: Thank you so much again for joining me Dr. Doty, and for writing this inspirational book. It is truly inspiring and enlightening and it most certainly opens the heart. I hope all my World Wise Beauties read ‘Into the Magic Shop’ and share it as well. They should also visit your CCARES website (The Center for Compassion & Altruism Research and Education) and learn more about the great work you are doing advancing the study of Compassion and Altruism. Wishing you continued inner peace and kindness on your wonderful life journey…

Dr. James Doty Closing: Thank you, Laura for selecting and sharing my book. In closing we should remember that if you are reading this, you are more fortunate then the vast majority of people in the world. So many people create unhappiness within themselves because they look at others with more instead of looking at so many others with less and having gratitude. Contentment and happiness are choices. We should also never forget that regardless of our circumstance, within each of us is the capacity to make a positive impact on another person every day. Sometimes all it requires is a smile.


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How to Live Life Well in 2018…WWB Features 4 Inspiring Books Filled with Inspiration, Wisdom & Tips

Dec 31, 2017 by


WWB Library of Wellness Culture




It’s New Year’s Eve, and baby it’s cold outside here on the East Coast of the United States! It seems like the perfect day to recommend 4 wise books that will be sure to warm you from the inside out and inspire your New Year. Here are a few points of interest about the books selected for you.

  • Three of the books have been selected as World Wise Beauty ‘Book Wise’ Picks in 2017 and you can find links to the Q&A with Authors below.
  • One of the books ‘The Little Book Of ‘Lykke’ was just released this week and the author also wrote the International Best Seller ‘The Little Book of Hygge’. Don’t know these fun Danish terms? Learn more via my book highlights below…
  • All of the books focus on wellness lifestyle and culture and inspire us to cultivate a healthy positive mindset while providing us with real tips on adopting their approach to happiness, personal fulfillment and well-being.
  • One of the books is about a Japanese approach to longevity and happiness. The authors are not natives of Japan but one of them has lived there for over 10 years and has really embraced the ‘Ikigai’ mindset. We can too!

Enjoy the overview below and order these books as soon as you can, so you can relax by the fire, or under a warm throw on a comfy chair, with a good book full of wellness wisdom and inspiration. While each book is short in length, they are filled with meaningful ideas and tips you will want to apply in 2018. Happy New year and may it be full of Ikigai, Lagom, Lykke and Hygge! Live Life Well…








The title of the book Ikigai is a Japanese word whose meaning translates roughly to a reason for being, encompassing joy, a sense of purpose and meaning and a feeling of well-being.  Recently the book was selected as WWB’s Fall Book Wise pick. You can find the Q&A with author of the book here and learn more how he has embraced the ‘Ikigai’ mindset living in Japan.

WWB’s Fav Section: Finding Flow in Everything You Do–How to turn work and free time into spaces for growth. In a world that has us crazy with multi-tasking, we can learn a lot about focus and becoming completely absorbed with one task. Don’t you love that wonderful feeling when you have lost track of time and you are completely committed to where you are and what you are doing. Let’s go with the flow in 2018…



The title of this book Lagom, is a Swedish word meaning “just the right amount”. The Lexin Swedish-English dictionary defines lagom as “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right”. Lagom is also widely translated as “in moderation”, “in balance”, “perfect-simple”, and “suitable” (in matter of amounts). I think this mindset maybe the most challenging for Americans as we tend to strive for ‘more’ and this is strongly embedded in our psyche! With the environmental crisis we are facing world wide, hopefully we will embrace a Lagom state of mind sooner than later. What if enough was enough? Good questions to ponder in the New Year. Of note there are several books with LAgom in the title, but this particular book I found to be the most insightful and grounded. The author is not Swedish but she’s a travel writer and photographer, and enjoys exploring various cultures through food, tradition, and lifestyle. Of note, she’s an award-winning writer, speaker, and photographer represented by National Geographic Creative. You can find her award winning photographs throughout the book! My Q&A featuring her book is here to learn more about her worldly perspective and love of Swedish lifestyle.

WWB Fav Section: Nature and Sustainability! We Americans could use MORE of this wisdom! Don’t you think? What I love about the Swedish approach to home and living is the art of bringing nature indoors but also their appreciation for nature all around them. The Swedish interdependent mindset’ is one we can all aspire to.




The title of this book is based on a Danish word ‘Hygge’ meaning a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture). I like how the author simply says it’s ‘cocoa by candlelight.’ Love it! Don’t you want more “Hygge’ in your life? That hot cocoa metaphor is easy to conjure and can be experienced in your real life easily. Especially this week in New Jersey! You can find my feature on the book here and also learn more about the author’s research at the Happiness Research Institute.

WWB Fav Section: What’s Love Got to Do With it? Oxytocin! That’s what. Also called the ‘cuddle hormone’  oxytocin is a natural neurohormone produced by our bodies when we experience a feeling of love, warmth and security. It requires a hug, cuddling or just general physical closeness. The amazing thing is you can release Oxytocin just by petting and cuddling with your pet!  However we achieve some cuddling, we all need more of it flowing through our bodies for our health and wellness!



Hot off the press! Last but not least, this book was just released here in the United States this week. Lykke is a Danish word for happiness and what better way to explore the concept of happiness than with the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (the capital of Happiness!) Here’s the thing, the really really good thing, Meik Wiking believes we all have the ability to achieve happiness. His research allows him to talk to people from all over the world and he believes WE HUMANS have a lot in common no matter where we are from. He has found the common denominator of happiness and whether we are in New Jersey, Copenhagen or India, we get happy about very similar things. Reading this book you will arm chair travel with the CEO of Happiness around the world and discover what truly makes us happy!

There are so many good tips sprinkled throughout this book, like simply start doing little random acts of kindness. I just did this today. My neighbor is away, and I brushed all the snow off her car and pulled her wipers up! I worried by the the time she got home, with the deep freeze we are facing this week, she might not be able to get into her car. I was doing my car, so why not do hers? Random Acts of Kindness starts right in your own neighborhood! Shhh don’t tell her. It was random!

WWB Fav Section: Decouple Well-Being and Wealth. Need I say more? Okay I will. Money does not buy happiness. Especially in Denmark! What seems to work well in Denmark,  is enjoying a good quality of life does not have to cost a lot of money. In fact the Danes are not alone, there are other cultures he highlights in the book who know how to be happy without being wealthy. Here is another cultural mindset example. In America we are told we will be happier if we make more money and buy more new things.  But what the author’s world wide research finds is happiness is linked with experiences not things. You will find so much wisdom in this ‘Little Book of Lykke’. A very world wise and worthwhile read sure to inspire your resolution to truly be happy in 2018!



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WWB’s ‘Book Wise’ Fall 2017 Surprise: Two Inspiring Books Explore Cultural Ideals and Values for a Life of Happiness & Wellness. Special Q&A with Two International Bestselling Authors…

Nov 2, 2017 by


Book Wise Category: Non-Fiction/Wellness Wisdom & Inspiration




Author Profile: LOLA A. Akerstrom, Author of ‘LAGOM’, The Swedish Secret of Living Well

Having lived on three different continents — Africa, North America, and now Europe — for extended periods of time, Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström is drawn to the complexities and nuances of culture and how they manifest themselves within relationships.

She holds a master’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Lola worked as a consultant and programmer for over a decade before following her dreams of becoming a travel writer and photographer, exploring various cultures through food, tradition, and lifestyle.

Today, she’s an award-winning writer, speaker, and photographer represented by National Geographic Creative. She regularly contributes to high profile publications such as AFAR, the BBC, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure and National Geographic Traveller, to name a few –
She has received photography and writing awards, including recognition from the Society of American Travel Writers and North American Travel Journalists Association. In addition, Lola is the editor of Slow Travel Stockholm, an online magazine dedicated to exploring Sweden’s capital city in depth.

Author Insight: “For me travel is about being an open minded sponge.”


HGAuthor Profile

Héctor García  author of ‘Ikigai’ the Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, is a citizen of Japan, where he has lived for over a decade, and of Spain, where he was born. A former software engineer, he worked at CERN in Switzerland before moving to Japan, where he developed voice recognition software and the technology needed for Silicon Valley startups to enter the Japanese market. He is the creator of the popular blog kirainet.com and also the author of A Geek in Japan, a #1 bestseller in Japan.

Author Insight: “I enjoy more creating things than consuming them, I’m a dreamer.”



Laura Connolly, Founder of WWB Opening (aka Lauroly)- It is only when we read books like yours, that we realize how important ‘ideals, values and rituals’ are to a happy society, when they are baked into the culture. Culture is a way of life and a collective mindset. What I enjoyed about both your books, is you manage to distill the little rituals and habits that any person in any culture can adopt. We hope so anyway! The challenge for a big melting pot like the United States, is we have so many cultures within one country, and the only common one we all seem to relate to is our love for success and independence. Starting from this premise, how does a country like the USA adopt ‘wellness mindsets’ like yours when our philosophical pillars are so different? ‘Independence’ as a way of life is very different from an ‘interdependent’ socially connected way of life. How will your prescriptions for happiness and wellness translate to a place like the United States?

Lola: You can tell a lot by a culture based on how it handles stress. I often say that some cultures prioritize fighting stress first so they can be productive while some other cultures try to be productive while working through stress. Sweden (and many Scandinavian countries) fall in the former category while the US falls in the latter category. And what are the sources of stress in our lives? Getting adequate food, shelter, money, healthcare, education, etc, as well as other physiological needs. What happens is, cultural mindsets that prioritize fighting stress first will put structures in place to create as much harmony, order, fair access and organization as possible first, while cultures that fight through stress can create more ingenuity and competitiveness to deal with stress. Both mindsets have their pros and cons. However, Sweden (and other Scandinavian countries) have been consistently ranking in the Top 10 for high quality of life, overall happiness, work-life balance, and other social indices for decades. So there is something we can clearly learn and adopt on some level from their cultural mindsets. This is why it was important for me to tackle the “why” of the lagom mindset on a deeper level in my book, not just “what” a lagom mindset superficially does (i.e., fika recipes, eat cinnamon buns, declutter, etc). A lagom mindset is all about balance and anything that tips that scale heavily to one side or the other (not too much, not too little) can be considered a form of stress so the mindset continually re-calibrates itself (just right) by trimming excess and unnecessary things – be they physical, relationships, or tasks.

Hector: I like to thing in terms of individualism(independence) vs collectivistic mindset. As you say U.S culture is very individualistic and that leads everyone to be always in a mindset of continuous competitiveness. Japan is a very collectivist society, there is competition but at group levels. If you try to be individualistic here and stand upon the group you will most probably fail here. You have to be much more careful and mindful about others by default just by being here embedded in the culture. So, how do you implement a wellness mindset in a place like the United States? I believe it all starts with having an awareness of things. It seems easy but is not. One way to gain awareness is by asking ourselves WHY are we doing certain things. Many times we will realize that we are just doing things to show off or to gain the approval of others (for example checking smartphone first time in the morning is a reaction of wanting to know if we have the approval of others on Facebook, Instagram etc.). Once we have the awareness that we are being driven by a very “independent” mindset the next step is to start finding what we really want to do in life, our IKIGAI. This is also not easy, but one of the first steps is to start by eliminating bad habits from your life. A simple one is to not check your smartphone during the first 2 hours of the day. When you start eliminating bad habits, you will naturally tend to start doing more of the things that you really like and love. Your life will start shifting naturally to your IKIGAI--your reason for living.

Lauroly Q- One of the things I found when reading your books, is both cultures value ‘simplicity’ and ‘nature’. It seems in your cultures, you do not separate the home from nature. In other words, your ‘interdependent’ mentality extends to nature as well. Share with us, how this leads to happiness in the home and the community in your culture…

Lola: Indeed. The Swedish love for nature is rather intrinsic and has been cultivated since youth (as early as kindergarten). Kids are bundled up under layers of clothes and left to play for hours outside regardless of weather (barring full blizzards). Many schools follow an active outdoor program. Babies sleep in strollers outdoors. There are several government policies in place (including Allemansrätten – every man’s right) that allows you to fully enjoy nature, camp. pick berries/mushrooms and use any public land as freely as possible. So Swedes see nature as their home and are proactive in terms of cleaning and taking care of it, just like our physical homes.

Hector: Simplicity is key in Japan. When I arrived here with my European mindset I found Japanese shinto shrines so simple that I was not impressed at all (I was used to European cathedrals and churches). But with time I came to appreciate more and more the beauty of Japanese shinto shrines precisely because of how simple they are. I learned that simple does not mean easy. We humans tend to get attached to all kinds of objects or possessions. Training our minds and souls to be happy with as less as possible is not easy, but once done we will feel freedom in our souls. I will use the same analogy with nature. Japanese shinto shrines are almost always surrounded by nature, even when found in cities, the shrines are filled with trees that cover them in green. Japanese know that nature is not part of life, they understand that nature is life.

Lauroly Q- Daily rituals are a big part of both cultures. Which rituals do you think are driven by the cultural values of your country? Can you connect the value with the ritual? Which ones do you think can translate and work in any culture?

Lola: One of the most notable rituals is the daily act of observing fika – which is breaking several times a day (3-4 times even) to enjoy coffee and a sweet treat with colleagues, friends, or family. While on the surface it may seem like just a sweet tradition, it is a form of re-centering to keep that internal lagom scale balanced. Working too much is an antithesis of lagom. Work-life balance is collectively pushed within the Swedish psyche through lagom. Partaking in fika is an act of re-calibration, so you can carry on processing the day from a point of balance and harmony. The tradition of fika is firmly rooted in lagom.

Hector: One big daily ritual in Japan is to bath in hot water. It is done most of the times before going to bed. It has been shown lately that both hot water baths and saunas 3-4 times per week have many benefits to our health. This is just one of the most common rituals, but Japan in general is a ritualistic culture, in which “micro-rituals” embed the life of everyone. For example, before starting any business meeting there is always the same business card interchange ritual with very precise manners that sets the mood of the meeting. It is not about specific rituals that will change your life, it is more about using rituals or micro-rituals to do things daily without having to be stressed to make decisions or be stressed about doing something. Rituals automate many things in our lives and help us to focus on what is important.

Lauroly Closing- I am so honored to share both your books as ‘Book Wise’ picks at World Wise Beauty. Both books are inspiring and together create a healthy cultural cocktail we can all enjoy and digest. I would suggest including each of them in a loved ones stocking for Christmas. Or each can be given on days of Hanukkah!  Here is to a lovely holiday season full of wellness ideals like slowing down and spending time with family and friends. we have to find a way to make this more of a daily experience in our lives.

Lola Closing: Thanks so much Laura. The beauty of observing how other cultures work and what they do exceptionally well is that we can pick and choose which elements of their mindset we can adopt to make our own lives richer in many ways. Lagom doesn’t hold all the answers in life but what it does hold is the mental key to free us from overt and needless consumerism by paring down what we truly need to be focusing on, buying, or maintaining in our lives.

Hector Closing: Totally agree Laura. We have to slowly shift our awareness from always trying to stand out, be successful and compare ourselves to others to being more present to our friends and family. The more we listen to the people we love, the more they will start also listening back and forgetting a little bit about getting more likes on their social networks. We humans, we are social beings, let’s be together in our lives and not alone and “individualistic”. In a way it can also be something to make us better, since the more love we give the more supported we will feel by the people around us, and the more love we feel, the healthier we will be and the longer we will live. This is what we discovered when visiting Ogimi, the village of the longest living in the world to write our book about IKIGAI. They live in very close communities in which they all support each other. Thank you for featuring us!

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WWB Wise Guru Series: Nobel Prize in Medicine went to Research on Circadian Rhythms. WWB Joins the Sleep Doctor, Dr. Michael Breus, for a Q&A to Discuss Why it Matters to Us…

Oct 11, 2017 by




Laura Opening- Welcome back Dr. Breus. For all those who haven’t read your book ‘The Power of When’, here is a chance for them to learn more about your important work and pick up your book. Before we get to your ground breaking research, we first have to acknowledge the Nobel Peace Prize award in Physiology or Medicine that went to three doctors who have discovered molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm. Now when we just say this, many will wonder, well why would that matter to me?

At World Wise Beauty I try to present important research, medical science and wellness wisdom in real context. The first question I always ask is, ‘Why does it matter?’ But before we get to this, let’s start first with a simple question. What did this Nobel Prize winning research specifically unveil for us from a scientific perspective that is so ‘eye opening’? No pun intended!


Dr. Breus: The basics behind the research showed that in fruit flies (who actually have very similar circadian rhythms as humans) the researchers were able to isolate the gene that controls our daily biological clock. This gene encodes a protein that accumulates in a cell during the evening and degrades during the daytime. This clock regulates behavior, weight loss, hormones levels, sleep and body temperature. Understanding this mechanism helps us all understand why we experience jet lag, how our internal biological clocks affect disease, our hormones, and literally everything we do. As you may remember in my new book, ‘ The Power of When’ this is EXACTLY what I have been writing about.

Laura Q- Yes you did, and hopefully more people will discover your work with this post! Now that we understand how our genes control our daily biological clock, what does that really mean if we are all different bio-individuals?

Dr. Breus: Actually we are more similar than you might think. The genetic studies that are going on in Sleep Research are on “common species” areas.

Lauroly Q– Why do circadian rhythms matter and why does understanding our unique biological clocks matter to our health?
Dr. Breus: So here is where it gets so fascinating, when I was in school, we learned that basically there was one central biological clock for time passage ( aging) and there were a few others that controlled hormone regulation, etc. Now we have found over 100 different control centers in the body. They each send information to each other. I think of it like grand central station in New York City. There are trains coming from all over the place to one central location. If one train is late, it could mess up all of the other trains going in or out. So the timing of these clocks actually controls our health, completely. These systems have a regularity to them or a rhythm. They become predictable, and more efficient. This is how the immune system, metabolic system, sleep system, all systems function.

Lauroly Q-  There is our answer. Sleep is a real regulator to everything in our ‘ biological system’. Should we all be in sync with sunrise and sunset for optimal health?

Dr. Breus: Yes, but it is really unrealistic to think that we can do it correctly. Remember that we have at least 4 different chronotypes, so there are some of us, who are more prone to late evenings and others who are morning people. As a side note, there was a great study on insomnia, where they took insomniacs out into the woods camping for 2 weeks. By the end of the study, everyone’s sleep had significantly improved. It was likely due to the sun exposure, and a reduction of EMF exposure talk about in sync with he sun!
Lauroly Q- In your book you identify many different types in the context of sleep needs.  Does the circadian ‘sync’ vary from person to person?
Dr. Breus: It does vary based on Chronotype. Lions (early risers), Bears (in-betweeners), Wolves (late nighters) and Dolphins (poor sleepers). If you want to know your type go to www.thepowerofwhenquiz.com and get it for free.
Lauroly Q–  So does this mean that some people are just genetically wired to be night owls?
Dr. Breus: Absolutely. I am. Interestingly enough you can even get this tested at 23 and Me, due to the genetic nature of chronotypes. It is based on the PER3 or Period 3 gene and its length. It effects sleep drive and timing.

Lauroly Q- While we are different genetically, is there still some unifying wellness wisdom when it comes to sleep that all human beings need to listen to?

Dr. Breus: Yes, consistency is the key. Most specifically in your wake up time, keep the same for weekdays and weekends, everything gets better, assuming you are sleeping by your chronotype.
Lauroly Q- The first thing I think of when it comes to circadian rhythms, is cultures living in the Northern Lights part of the world. How does the abundance of light exposure and then the significant decrease of light effect their circadian rhythms?
Dr. Breus: There are a lot of issues with sleep in these areas of the world. Sunlight appears to play a significant role in the human biology, from Vitamin D production to being the re-start button for the brain each morning.
Lauroly Q-Have their genes adapted over time living in these areas?
Dr. Breus: To a certain degree, yes. But I doubt that anyone is completely unaffected.
Lauroly Q- We know there is more depression associated with the decrease of light. I suppose even if you don’t live in these areas, but are vulnerable to depression, getting sunshine would be important. This correlates with the Vitamin D hormone that activates when we are exposed to the sun and then chemically regulates our serotonin synthesis. As we know, serotonin is one of the happy chemicals in our system. Take it from here Dr. Breus, I’m just trying to connect all the dots!

Dr. Breus: Light therapy is used in both depressive diagnoses and some sleep disorders. In depression the light helps re-set the persons circadian rhythms, which sends all of the other systems back in sync. This appears to play a role in the recovery from depression. While it is not the whole reason, it does seem to have a significant effect.

Laura Closing- Thank you for sharing your expertise with us Dr. Breus. Now that we are learning more about our biological clocks and our connection to nature, we can begin to see how everything is interdependent in wellness. As Plato so wisely said “The Part can Never be Well, unless the Whole is Well.” I encourage everyone to read ‘The Power of When’ and learn more about your own body’s internal clock. Sleeping will become a healthy habit, just like a good diet and exercise is.

Dr. Breus Closing: Thank you so much for having me, and if people want to learn more they can check out my website www.thesleepdoctor.com or learn your chronotype at www.thepowerofwhenquiz.com

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WWB WATCH: From Sizzle to Fizzle, New PURE Nutrition Study is Challenged by the Medical Community and Health Journalist. Why the Questions Raised Matters More than the Actual Study…

Sep 17, 2017 by



While two deadly hurricanes captured our attention in the last tree weeks, there was a nutrition study called PURE stirring up an argument in the health and wellness community. To really get a good understanding of the study, you would have to read the study and the findings carefully, which most average working people don’t have the time to do, and are not trained to assess. This goes for the educated and the uneducated. Unless you are a nutritionist, doctor or scientist, you are not likely to immediately see the problems with a study of any kind.

Doctors, nutritionist and health journalist however, do take time to review new studies. What happens though, is the general media runs with the narrative the researchers provide, and create headlines that are provocative and at the same time misleading. The Pure Study came out of the gates with a very clear narrative, which was to challenge the definition of a healthy diet, and counter argue the wisdom of a primarily plant based driven diet. It is a complex study and this is a challenge when it gets released to the general public. I write all the time about the 3 minute news headlines that we see on the six o’clock news.  By the time this particular study was widely distributed, the headlines became “New Nutrition Study finds more fat in our diets maybe healthier for us.”.  What gets translated to an already obese society in the US and other western cultures is ” Yay, more cheese, butter and fat please!” If it sounds too good to be true, it is probably because it is not quite true!

Thankfully there are medical and nutrition experts out there, dissecting the data and research, and they remind us to ask the right questions. One of them is Dr. David Katz, the author of ‘Disease Proof’ and founder of the True Health Initiative. He tirelessly works to make sure we are understanding health research data that is often misconstrued and misrepresented. He also works hard to make sure we can find sound science based health wisdom, through his educational True Health Initiative non-profit. When you read his essays, you will have to wade through some of the academic language, but when you stick with him, you learn how to step back from a study, and have that ‘aha skeptical moment’ and realize the importance of ‘variables’ used in study methodologies. His review of the Pure Study is here.

“What, then, accounts for the strange reporting, implying that everything we’ve been told about vegetables, fruits, and beans is wrong? These benefits were “adjusted away” in multivariable models. When this method of statistical analysis was applied, the health benefit expressly attributable to VFL seemed to peak at about 3 servings per day. That, however, is fundamentally misleading- and the headlines, quite simply, were written by people who don’t have a clue what it really means.” ~Dr. David Katz

Beyond the actual raw data Dr. Katz  shares with us, you will also learn to ask the right questions. If you read along with Dt. Katz he will bring us back to a simple idea. There is enough science already pointing clearly to lifestyle habits and diets like the Mediterranean Diet ( already proven and thoroughly researched) to help support healthy living and improve longevity odds. More importantly, however different we may be as bio-individuals, most of the current lifestyle as medicine prescriptions available to us, can be practiced by many with personal tweaks based on their current health condition.

Another good analysis of the PURE study was made by Marion Nestle, author of many best-selling books like ‘What to Eat’. Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor, of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003 and from which she retired in September 2017. You can learn a lot about Food Politics at her website by the same name. Again, many of us don’t have time to read all of this, but it doesn’t hurt to seek out good objective sources when you are considering your health, diet and wellness lifestyle. It just might take more than a 3 minutes news clip on the news or a small paragraph in a magazine on the news stand.  Marion Nestle concluded her overview of the study with these thoughts…

“This study confirms that the single most important risk factor for poor health is poverty. The study results are consistent with the idea that largely plant-based diets are good for health. No single study can settle the fat vs. carbohydrate debate because people eat complicated combinations of foods and diets containing those nutrients. What we really need are well designed studies of dietary patterns—the ones done to date suggest that largely plant-based diets are associated with excellent health and longevity. ~Marion Nestle

James Hamblin who is an MD and writer for the Atlantic also wrote a very good piece on the PURE STUDY  and reminds us of the huge ‘system’ we are caught up in today, when it comes to coverage of medical and nutrition research and our voracious appetite for new information. His headline was “New Nutrition Study Changes Nothing”.

“Neophilia is a problem for science, though. And especially the sort of science pertaining to nutrition. Demand for newness leads writers and publishers to focus on narratives that upend conventional wisdom. If new research doesn’t change or challenge the way readers think about the world, why is it a story worth publishing? Eggs are in, and now they’re gone. Butter? It’s back. Every six weeks, The New York Times is legally obligated to tell us either that breakfast isn’t important or that skipping it causes death.”~James Hamblin, MD

Finally if you would like a simple overview of the study, and a grounded response anchored in common sense and wellness wisdom, it would be worth reading the article shared at Oldways a nonprofit Inspiring Good Health Through Cultural Food Traditions.

“Once again, we’re back on the nutrition roller coaster, being told that a new study has suddenly reversed everything we thought we knew about healthy eating. But has it? To help you escape that queasy roller-coaster ride, Oldways looked behind the sensationalist headlines and scrutinized the actual findings of this study. Given those anti-carb headlines, what we found may surprise you!” ~Oldways

Oldways went on to share these 3 wise takeaways:

The bottom line is that what we knew to be true about healthy eating yesterday is still true today, so we’ll leave you with three pieces of advice:

  1. The experts still agree. In November 2015, Oldways brought together leading nutrition experts representing views from Paleo to Vegan at our Finding Common Ground conference. They all agreed that focusing on quality and variety is the key to eating well. This means choosing high-quality meat, fish, and/or beans and other protein sources instead of living on bologna and bacon; eating whole grains (especially intact grains) instead of refined grains and added sugars; enjoying a range of fruits and vegetables; and favoring the heathy fats found in nuts, avocados, fish, olive oil, and other foods.
  2. Use Carb Common Sense. Everybody needs carbohydrates. Avoiding carbs makes no sense – especially when you remember that fruits and vegetables are also made up primarily of carbohydrates. Check out the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s easy guide to Carb Common Sense, to steer smoothly through your carb choices.
  3. Eating should be a pleasure, not a math exam. We used charts and numbers to prove a point today, but we are not recommending you count grams of this or percents of that as you pick the foods you eat. Traditional diets, like those Oldways champions, can vary widely in their makeup and still support good health. Look for the highest quality you can afford (see #1 and #2), and the numbers will take care of themselves.


Now for the Sobering Reality …Why the Questions Raised Matters More than the Pure Study

As for my headline, “Why the questions raised matters more than the study’, I believe we are becoming entrenched in an argument about diet that distracts us from a bigger conversation we need to be having about food. If all of this data I shared isn’t enough motivation to lean toward a conscious value driven diet (mostly plants) for your health, then maybe you haven’t been reading enough about the environmental crisis we are headed for if we don’t begin to look at sustainable ways of living. As Albert Einstein famously said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.


What I find here at World Wise Beauty talking to experts from around the world, is everything is connected. The obesity crisis isn’t only related to our consumption of too much carbs, fat and protein. The health crisis has been accelerated by an industry of fast food, industrialized food manufacturing, and chemical laden ingredients that effect our chemistry and metabolism. The reason we are so obsessed about food, is because our supermarkets have been filled with ‘boxes’ of  food like ingredients and currently marketing themselves as low-fat, low carb, low sodium, sugar free and gluten free. In other words ‘health products’. Really? Yes.

But we can’t just isolate the processed food manufacturers, we also have to look at the social cultural context. We have to look at the cultural narrative in which marketers of processed food  and pharmaceutical drugs can thrive and exploit. Look at a basic commercial for arthritis pain depicting the hard-working man who does physical work and has to power through his day with a NSAID pill. He needs the quick fix. Also, look at the hard working couples who are raising several kids, and are barely making it on two salaries. They don’t necessarily have time to cook for their kids, so the inexpensive box of cereal or frozen food entree filled with either too much sugar of too much salt and a good dose of unrecognizable chemicals is the quick fix for their lifestyle. The ads for these products are feel good messages that make everyone from the parents to the kids feel good about their choices. These are all real examples of what a culture can manifest. Our culture is collective of values, (based on a number of socio-economic conditions) and maybe the hard bite to swallow, is we have been ‘buying into’ a ‘lifestyle’ that’s not sustainable for our health, our families and our planet.

As I write this piece, there was a front page NYT headline this weekend “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food”. Sub header is ‘Planet Fat’ Nestle goes door to door.

“The new reality is captured by a single, stark fact: Across the world, more people are now obese than underweight. At the same time, scientists say, the growing availability of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods is generating a new type of malnutrition, one in which a growing number of people are both overweight and undernourished. “The prevailing story is that this is the best of all possible worlds — cheap food, widely available. If you don’t think about it too hard, it makes sense,” said Anthony Winson, who studies the political economics of nutrition at the University of Guelph in Ontario. A closer look, however, reveals a much different story, he said. “To put it in stark terms: The diet is killing us.” ~NYT Article

When we think of Nestle we think of ‘cozy hot chocolate’ or chocolate chips for our homemade cookies. We also think about the nice, hard working people that work for these companies. We think about the philanthropy of these large corporations who give to various foundations ironically sometimes funding cancer research and diabetes ( an epidemic in our country). It is so hard to to question an industry and corporation that has been in our food culture for half a century. Yet, that old-fashioned company called Nestle is now a multi-national corporation and like any corporation their first priority is to please the shareholders. In order to do this,  their commitment is to sell more product, and this is regardless of the harm it may be causing. This is where our personal values come in. Is this okay? Are you okay with that?

Another example of ‘industry before health’ and particularly targeting women in our culture, is the cosmetic and personal care industries. The manufacture and safety of cosmetics and personal care products is regulated in many countries. In the European Union (EU) certain natural and synthetic cosmetic ingredients require approval of their safety. Banned substances are listed in the EU regulation No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products (effective in 07/2013), which does also include the ban of animal testing for cosmetic ingredients and finished products too. We have no such safety standard here in the U.S. Just another illustration of where our values are at. So they keep manufacturing makeup made of chemicals that can contribute and cause some cancers, and we keep using them, mostly because many of us are unaware.

“Does this mean that to be for health and wellness of our people we have to be against capitalism? Of course not! Just look at the millennials creating new businesses today. They are creating companies with sustainable practice and philosophy baked into their business modalities.” ~Laura Connolly, Founder of World Wise Beauty & Rise of Wise presents

I recommend you read the NYT article so you can step back objectively, and look at what has happened to our culture, and why we have such a health crisis on our hands today. I would also remind you that demonizing one company is not the point. I think we have to re-imagine food systems, and change the cultural narrative of “industry before the health of a society and the planet”. If you keep hearing experts say “it’s not sustainable’ it’s because it is not. We are left with a health crisis in our society and a health crisis of our planet because the fast cheap food systems ( among other things) is harming the soil, air and water we rely on to LIVE. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s not about being a capitalist or a socialist which is a narrative deliberately spread, so we don’t focus on what matters,–the health and well-being of our families.

So maybe the first question we all ask ourselves is ‘What matters?’ Maybe if we started out with a value driven business idea, before an ethically challenged profit motivated premise for a business, we can begin to build a true wellness culture. Label it whatever you like, but ethics and values do matter, and there is no amount of wealth to sugar coat the damage and harm a corporation can do to a culture, when there is no value system but ‘more profit’ at the center of it’s reason for being.

To leave you with an encouraging thought, here is a wise bite from another important respected voice in wellness culture Paul Hawken

“If you look at the science and you’re not pessimistic, in a sense you don’t understand it,” Hawken says in a slow, unwavering voice. “But if you look at the people who are addressing the problem at hand and don’t feel hopeful, then you don’t have a pulse.”~Paul Hawken, talking to MindBodyGreen




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World Wise Beauty Selects the Beautifully Illustrated ‘This Phenomenal Life’ for the Summer Book Wise Pick on the Eve of the Solar Eclipse

Aug 21, 2017 by

phenom-cover11-5_2BOOK WISE Summer 2017 Pick: This Phenomenal Life –the amazing ways we are connected with our Universe’

CATEGORY: Non-Fiction Nature/Science/Art

CULTURE SPOTLIGHT: The Entire Universe

AUTHOR: Misha Maynerick Blaise

Publishers Weekly Review: “Whimsically hip illustrations elucidate wild science-based facts, from the unexpected intimacy we have with fungi on a daily basis, to the similar ways that humans and birds learn to communicate. Powerful evidence of our interconnection with nature combined with beautiful artwork will inspire the reader to look at the world in a whole new way.”

WWB Note: Inspiring, informative and will tickle your mind and spirit!

On the eve of the Solar Eclipse, I thought it was perfect timing to announce the Summer ‘Book Wise’ pick. Tomorrow we will view an amazing ‘show in the sky’ and perhaps it will remind us how awesome this universe is, and how we are connected to everything around us. The ‘Book Wise’ Summer selection is an exploration and celebration of this very idea. The title says it all, and the illustrative content is stimulating and delightful. It’s the perfect book to take camping or to the beach, when you are relaxed, and can really contemplate with the author how phenomenal this world really is. The Solar Eclipse couldn’t have come at better time. Perhaps it’s time we all snap out of our self-absorption and unify around one important mission. Let’s save this planet and leave it for many more generations to enjoy and appreciate. The author’s introduction is wonderful and I will share an excerpt below with you. Hopefully it will inspire you to read this book and share it with friends far and wide. A great mission needs a great many friends! Enjoy the Solar Eclipse and find comfort in the fact that millions of us (of multiple ethnicities and political stripes)  across this country will be looking up at the Sun and the Moon together. Now that’s pretty phenomenal! 🙂








Author Excerpt: ” Few can deny the majesty of a starry sky when gazed upon far from the light pollution of a city, or the thrill of exploring a dense forest miles away from a dreary strip mall. Getting out into nature expands our perspective and revitalizes our spirits. For those of us who live in urban settings, it can sometimes feel like the wilderness is a world away. But the reality is in every moment of every day, no matter where you are, you are deeply connected to the wild, mysterious processes of the universe.”
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