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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WWB 2017 ‘Ideal Finds’ Holiday Gift List…Giving Has Never Felt So Good!

Dec 2, 2017 by


Tis the season for giving! I am excited to share my WWB Holiday Ideal Finds with you! After attending exciting trade shows this past year featuring products in beauty, health and wellness, I have discovered some wonderful ‘Ideal Finds’ sure to make your gift giving inspiring and memorable. Always trying to keep things simple, this year you can discover WWB Ideal Finds organized by categories such as self-care, healthy epicurean, conscious beauty and artisan hand made. This will help you choose gifts easily that will match personal interests in wellness lifestyle and culture.

Gifts should feel good to the giver and the receiver, and the best feeling of goodness is knowing your gift was produced with conscious ideals and values. Below is WWB’s ‘feels good’ check list for conscious giving, and this will help you cultivate your personal gift list thoughtfully.  Happy holiday giving and remember to put some positive vibes and good intention into your gift giving. It’s great to shop consciously, but what really matters is bringing joy to the person you are gifting! Have a healthy and happy holiday season…





  • Cruelty FreeNo animal was harmed or tested on
  • Sustainable & Eco-Friendly: green, organic and sustainable
  • Beauty, Health & Wellness Without Compromise: Free of harmful chemicals known to harm you
  • Socially Responsible: Fairtrade and Social Mission Retail




  • Self Care: Personal care products for calm and relaxation
  • Conscious Beauty: Meets one or more of the ‘feel good’ criteria
  • Healthy Epicurean: Edible treats and food with healthy and organic ingredients
  • Artisan Hand Made: Beautifully Designed, Creatively Crafted, Useful & Enduring
  • Books & Inspirational Gifts: Celebrating Wellness Wisdom, Lifestyle & Culture










Little Moon Relax-Gift-Set2

Little Moon Essentials

WWB Feels Good Check List: Cruelty Free, Eco-Friendly

Purchase Relax Gift Set Shown 

Also Little Moon Sleep Gifts Set found on Amazon

“All of our products are made with extra attention, love, and care. All ingredients and packaging are certified and planet friendly. Our priority is to provide the highest quality products by avoiding machinery and using our hands from start to finish. We believe in the conservation of the environment and respecting all beings, including our furry friends.  We do not engage with companies that test on animals. We take great care in considering and exploring our sources, as well as timing and harvesting of our 100% pure and natural ingredients.”





WWB Favorite: Gimme A Break  Gimme A Break™ hand and body lotion is a lemon scented fusion of refreshing sweetness that will help restore yourself from exhaustion and stress. This will give you the energy and spirit it takes to face all of your worldly challenges.













Elements Truffles 

WWB Feels Good Check List: Socially Responsible, Healthy Epicurean Inspired

“Our chocolates are made with the purest ingredients and intention to spread happiness and love. Our body is made up of five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. Ayurveda superfoods help balance these elements and bring about a sense of happiness and peace.”

Purchase Gift Set


“We take no shortcuts. Our purest ingredients have been selected from Fair Trade manufacturers that fiercely align with our philosophy.
Cacao : Made from finest quality Criollo beans from Peru
Honey : Extracted ethically from hard working local honey bees of New Jersey.”

IMG_E9121WWB Favorite: Elements Truffles Drinking Hot Chocolate Mix Infused with Tumeric. Stock up for the holiday season! Delicious and healthy!

Savor the Best of Tea

This new tea set with delicate illustrations features a selection of 10 single single-estate teas, handpicked to introduce you to the diverse range of teas around the world. It is provided with an introduction book to tastings.

“Since it was established,  Palais des Thés has maintained a constant presence on the ground, forming lasting relations with growers built on trust and friendship. The environment, sustainable development and fair trade are priority issues for Palais des Thés.”

WWB Feels Good Check List: Socially responsible
 WWB Favorite: Paris for Him. Paris for Her Duo Set  Perfect for the couple throwing the holiday soiree!












 “Since 2009, Thesis has been run by a family of happy vegetarians dedicated to the development of truly organic and natural skin care products at accessible price points. Our goal is helping people with all different skin types achieve healthy-looking, glowing skin.

We took it upon ourselves to develop skincare products that will give you peace of mind and confidence that it’s the best nature has created.”


Here is what you can always count on:

  • Premium certified organic ingredients
  • Formulas that actually work
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • No synthetics. No fillers. No gimmicks.

WWB Feels Good Check List: Cruelty Free, Eco-Friendly, Without Compromise, Socially Responsible



 WWB FAVORITE: Thesis Makeup Remover Rosemary Citrus Dissolves makeup and dirt with the power of certified organic oils and contains absolutely nothing synthetic, irritating or harmful for your skin. You face feels clean, hydrated and fresh. Made from Organic Ingredients • Gluten-free • Non-GMO • Preservative-free • Vegan • Hypoallergenic • Made from U.S and Imported materials
Purchase Thesis Product on Amazon





pinkvaseflowers (1)
‘Design Inspired by Living Well’
“To some, living well means spending quality time with friends and family.  To others, it means having a passion to create.  At Stak Ceramics, we believe that living well means both.  We also believe that living well means eating good food, laughing with each other, and supporting each other’s dreams.  We are inspired by the small things in life that often get overlooked.  We draw inspiration from exploring nature, travelling, and interacting with the people we encounter in life.  We continually seek out new techniques and processes to further develop our work.  Our products are designed to add organization, convenience and style to the well lived life.  Everything Stak Ceramics designs and produces is done with great care in Pittsburgh, PA.  We are proud to offer products that are made in the USA and available worldwide.” ~Myles & Heather Geyman
WWB Feels Good Check List: Supports Artisans, Useful
sproutwhiteplantWWB FAVORITE: The Stak Ceramics Sprout Planter Dock   is a fantastic way to brighten up your home or work space with a touch of color and life.  The white planter is the perfect size for most succulents or other small plants.






Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

( WWB FALL BOOK WISE PICK 2017 —Read Q&A with Author Here)

“Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.” —Japanese proverb

AMAZON OVERVIEW: According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai—a reason for living. And according to the residents of the Japanese village with the world’s longest-living people, finding it is the key to a happier and longer life. Having a strong sense of ikigai—the place where passion, mission, vocation, and profession intersect—means that each day is infused with meaning. It’s the reason we get up in the morning. It’s also the reason many Japanese never really retire (in fact there’s no word in Japanese that means retirein the sense it does in English): They remain active and work at what they enjoy, because they’ve found a real purpose in life—the happiness of always being busy.




Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living Well

( WWB Fall 2017 Book Wise Pick–Read Q&A with Author Here)

Amazon Overview: As the Swedish proverb goes, ‘Lagom är bäst’ (The right amount is best). Lagom sums up the Swedish psyche and is the reason why Sweden is one of the happiest countries in the world with a healthy work-life balance and high standards of living.

Lagom is a way of living that promotes harmony. It celebrates fairness, moderation and being satisfied with and taking proper care of what you’ve got, including your well-being, relationships, and possessions. It’s not about having too little or too much but about fully inviting contentment into our lives through making optimal decisions.

Who better than Lola A. Åkerström to be your lagom guide? Sweden-based Lola is an award-winning writer, photographer , and editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm and she offers us a unique vantage point when it comes to adopting elements of a lagom lifestyle.

Full of insights and beautiful photographs, taken by Lola herself, this authentic book will help you make small, simple changes to your every day life – whether that’s your diet, lifestyle, money, work or your home – so you can have a more balanced way of living filled with contentment.

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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 WATCH: May, Could, Might? Why Recent Research on Coffee & Media Headlines Confuse Us…

Jul 13, 2017 by



Did you hear about the latest research on coffee? How did you miss it? It was the perfect story for all media outlets to cover this week and boy did we need some uplifting news this week in our country! Look at all the coffee buzz in the media in just two days…

  • Coffee May Help You Live Longer, Study Finds. New research from the largest study of its kind shows that coffee may help you live longer
  • Coffee drinkers live longer, according to two large-scale studies released Monday that add to extensive research indicating coffee consumption
  • Put the kettle on – two new studies have indicted that drinking coffee helps … This latest research is just the latest in a slew of reports about the
  • Pour another cup–coffee lowers disease risk
  • Coffee drinkers are waking up to some good news Tuesday after new research suggests that a cup of joe a day could keep the doctor away

I left out the media sources because I am not here to pick on individual media companies. This is breaking research news and it’s about the fuel that probably 80% of us drink to get our engines going in the morning. Coffee and the caffeine in it, is our legal drug, and like wine it is steeped in cultural rituals for so many of us. So this research about coffee is not just news, it’s happy news! But we still need to think and pause…

This research story is yet another example of how we get tangled up in the complicated ‘web’ of health studies. Butter is bad, now it’s good! Coffee is bad and may contribute to heart disease, now it may contribute to longevity and lower disease risk?  I’m not a doctor and I am not going to challenge the research from a medical perspective. I can tell you I read a lot of these research findings reports and consume quite a bit of health news. Here is what I see time and time again, and it’s important to point it out these three encouraging but also dangerous words…may, could and might.
The story I personally read on the coffee research this week came from Medical Daily. Their headline read “Your Daily Coffee Could Help You Live Longer.” I mention MD only because I am focusing on language used by the research authors and the publication’s copy. Many of the other media outlets used the same language.
Here is the sub-header following their big headline…”If you’re a regular coffee drinker, a new study might brighten your day. Researchers have found that consuming the popular beverage may increase longevity, and it doesn’t even need to be caffeinated.”


The lead photo for this story was this one, with a tagline that read “Researchers say that drinking one cup of coffee per day could lower the risk of death…



Now that’s a happy story! One cup of coffee a day may save you from the risk of death! Wow, very powerful! Let’s not only drink more coffee, but also invest in Starbuck’s stock if we haven’t already!

This Medical Daily report does highlight the benefits and risks of drinking coffee and points to previous negative research about coffee. There is balance, which I always seek when reading reports on research findings. Throughout the piece you will find…yes, three words–may, could and might buried in the headlines and the happy picture of coffee. These important words get lost. If we all took the time to read the entire story we would would also find this interesting statement from the lead study author…

“Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have this ‘elixir effect,’ it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle.”

There’s that word ‘may’ again. I hate to break it to the researchers, but centuries of human culture has shown us that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle in moderation. What they didn’t know back then scientifically is that it can have adverse side effects for some people. Which brings me back to the concept of bio-individuality. Some people can eat loads of fat their entire lives and live to be 100, and others can’t and drop dead sooner. In comparison, some people can drink coffee at 10pm and go right to sleep, while others can’t drink it past 2pm without being up all night. With regards to the people eating lots of fat, what is often overlooked is the poor quality of life of people who are obese because of their diet and bad lifestyle habits. Everything gluttonous or in excess pays a price in health. We all seem to know this intuitively but just conveniently forget it.

The healers and philosophers of  ancient Greece knew that moderation was the prescription for  good health, and they also knew good sleep and regular exercise is important to longevity. It doesn’t get more simple than this, but we still look for a ‘magic elixir’ and hope it makes up for our neglect in one area or another. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in Super-Foods ( like coffee), because every culture has them and in some ways they compensate for other nutrients missing in their diets because of  factors like climate. I did a Q&A with the author of 30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines a few years ago, and the big takeaway is each of the world’s healthiest cuisines have a super-food and very specific lifestyle habits that contribute to their longevity. This book was published long before the Blue Zones Solution, which is also a good book on how many various lifestyle factors contribute to health and longevity. Both books confirm lifestyle matters my friends, and our diet is one very big part of our lifestyle.

So let’s be real about the research this week. We don’t know why coffee may help us live longer. We can however, identify healthy antioxidants and phenolic compounds in coffee, that we know can be good for preventing cancer. Avoiding cancer is one very effective way to achieve longevity!

It’s not that research shouldn’t be done, it’s not that we shouldn’t learn about the research findings, it’s just how we share the research, interpret the research, and use the research. The last paragraph of the Medical Daily story this week summed up the coffee research with this statement…

“Further studies are needed to gain a better understanding of how coffee might increase mortality. In the meantime, the researchers say that we should enjoy our daily cup of joe; it could be doing us the world of good.”

From everything I have read, the facts are, in moderation and in combination with other good lifestyle habits, coffee can’t hurt us, and it’s definitely a good jump starter in the morning for most of us.  It can hurt some of us with certain heart conditions, and for some it can also disturb chemistry, stomach linings, and our sleep. This much science has established. Does it contribute to living longer? May, could or might…









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WWB WISE GURU Q&A: Featuring the International Best Seller ‘The Telomere Effect’: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer

Jun 2, 2017 by


Elissa Epel, Ph.D is a leading health psychologist who studies stress, aging, and obesity. She is the director of UCSF’s Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center and is associate director of the Center for Health and Community. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and serves on scientific advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health, and the Mind and Life Institute. She has received awards from Stanford University, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the American Psychological Association.


WWB FEATURED BOOK: The Telomere Effect  Groundbreaking book by the Nobel Prize Winner who discovered telomeres, telomerase, and their role in the aging process, and the psychologist who researched specific lifestyle habits to protect them and slow down disease and lengthen life.


WWB WORTHWHILE READ:  Have you wondered why some sixty-year-olds look and feel like forty-year-olds and why some forty-year-olds look and feel like sixty-year-olds? We discover through science, that aging is more than just an attitude. Healthy aging and longevity correlates with specific habits and mindset on a personal level, and is affected by the relationships, community and culture we are a part of.  All of which can be cultivated wisely.  Read this book and start lengthening your telomeres! ~TrulyHerself, Lauroly





Dr. Elissa Epel, Ph.D, Co-Author of ‘The Telomere Effect”



Lauroly Opening: Welcome Dr. Epel to World Wise Beauty. I am so pleased you could join me for this Q&A. This is an important book that will help accelerate wellness culture, and encourage us all to lead healthy lifestyles. It covers the latest scientific discovery about telomeres and your research on how we can protect our telomeres with as your sub-title says, “a revolutionary approach to living younger, healthier and longer.” Who doesn’t want that!  But first I have to ask a basic question for my readers, so we can move on to the important ideas in your book. What are telomeres? We have been learning so much about epigenetics in the last few years and now the discovery of ‘telomeres’ takes the science on genes to another level with real world context.


Dr. Epel: Telomeres are a tiny part of each cell in our body that play a critical role in how our cells age. They are the caps that protect the ends of chromosomes. They protect our genes from breaks and mutations, and they also allow our cells to go on dividing and replenishing. The problem is that each time our cells divide, the telomeres can shorten, and when they get too short, the DNA can easily become damaged, the cell becomes aged, and, worst of call, it cannot go on dividing. This creates a buildup of old tissue that is pro-inflammatory. Also, as we age, there is wear and tear to these caps, shortening and damaging them.

Lauroly Q- Your study and expertise is focused on how stress damages our telomeres on a cellular level, and the devastating effects it can have on our health and longevity if left unchecked or not managed. FYI for our readers, the book also presents all the positive ways you can stop the damage already done and avoid further damage. When all the research came out about epigenetics I think a lot of people just assumed they were stuck with their lottery of genes. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and this is where your important research comes in. All our lifestyle habits especially related to stress management can contribute to lengthening your telomeres or reducing them. It seems to me that popular quote “It is not what happens you to in life, but what you do with what happens to you” really applies to our telomeres! The fact is we can train our telomeres. One of the ways we can do this is keeping our immune system biologically young. Can you describe direct examples of this?

Dr. Epel: Laura, you said it well! We will all experience difficulties in our days, and traumatic events in our lives, and these cannot be avoided. But it is how we view these events in our mind, and manage them, that determines whether an event turns into ‘chronic stress’ in our mind or whether we may end up on the other side of the event even more resilient than before. So we need to focus not on stress ‘reduction’ but stress resilience. We tend to create angst, worry, and rumination with our habitual thought patterns and these can keep our endocrine and nervous system on ‘high’—a vigilant mode that wears us out sooner. Having higher levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and catecholamines, even while we sleep, is associated with shorter telomeres. High quality sleep is also related to longer telomeres, and something we can foster. The little things we do each day can add up to have big effects on telomeres.

People who tend to eat more vegetables tend to have longer telomeres ten years later! So we are talking about small little habits during our life that really add up to healthy cell stability later in life when we are typically so vulnerable to diseases of aging. People with longer telomeres are 20% less likely to develop heart disease. Even in young healthy adults, those with shorter telomeres, when experimentally exposed to the cold virus, tend to get more cold infections, with more severe symptoms, more tissues needed (the work of Sheldon Cohen). So it’s not just about doing things now so we don’t get disease of aging later. Experimental studies have shown that programs that last several months tend to give us a boost in telomerase or maintain our telomeres better –that includes aerobic fitness, omega-3 free fatty acid supplements, support groups, meditation programs, or Dean Ornish’s lifestyle integrative program (eg, vegetarian diet, yoga, social support).


Lauroly Q- When I read your book, it just solidified for me that lifestyle as medicine is really the ‘secret’ to wellness and longevity. We humans love the idea of ‘secrets’ but the truth is understanding our own bio-individuality and taking good care of ourselves wholistically is all it takes to live well. The blueprints may vary for each of us, but the reliable pillars of wellness hold for all of us.

Let’s come back to your expertise on stress. Managing our stress is extremely important, and it seems to me your tips and prescriptions for managing stress should be practiced by all of us, but some people have a biological sensitivity to stress more than others and can experience depression and anxiety in a very debilitating way if left unchecked. In your book you said “Anticipating a stressful event has the same effect on the brain as the body experiencing the stressful event.” We can see why mindful techniques and practices are so important to our society today. You devote a lot of data and tips on how to protect yourself from depression and anxiety. Some people may not be open to mindfulness techniques or feel they have the time, what are other lifestyle habits that can help protect us? Some would also ask “isn’t depression and anxiety a normal response to life and part of our human experience?”


Dr. Epel: We will have different traumatic events happen to us, and some of us will suffer more in life, and some of us are more prone to respond to stress with depression or anxiety. When adverse events happen to us as children, un-tempered by the support or resources we need to cope, it can leave a lasting ‘scar’ in the form of shorter telomeres. But that is not something to harp on, because even with short telomeres it’s how we live our day that can keep them stable through the years going forward. As you said, it is how we react to things, that can make a big difference going forward. We can learn to ‘surf the waves’ more than crash under them. We have habits of mind that we can become aware of. I include quizzes in our Telomere Book to help people see what their stress response style is – how much they see things as ego threats, or how much they ruminate. And also how much they have buffers to stress like optimism or purpose in life.

Awareness is a first step. Then there are ways to build our inner resources so we can experience stress as small surfable waves. For those interested, learning meditation can help but that does take time and dedication. Even if you don’t regularly do it, it can help you get to take an introduction course, to know your mind and the habits that can hurt you If you are unaware of them. Any mind-body activities can help with emotional balance. These are often ‘body up’ to mind—the calmness in the body creates a cushion of stress resilience so we don’t have those strong stress reactions. Having strong social support probably creates the biggest cushion. For me, my yoga ‘cushion’ helps me build reserve.

Even if you have short telomeres, what matters is how you live this day, and the choices you make each day from here on. Our telomerase, the anti-aging enzyme that protects telomeres, and our telomeres, appear sensitive to many different behaviors (exercise, certain nutrients) and exposures (nature, pollution, certain chemicals). We detail these in the book, and the best way to learn from the book is to choose one or two things from the list of telomere bolsters that matter most to you, that you know you can improve.


Lauroly Q- You made so many compelling points about how telomere science offers molecular proof of the importance of societal health (what I call wellness culture) to our well-being. You even suggested in the book that we call for policymakers to add a new phrase ‘Societal stress reduction’ to the vocabulary of public health. You included a Telomere Manifesto at the end of the book. Another (there are so many in this book!) important statement you made is “The foundation for a new understanding of health in our society is not about ‘me’ but ‘we’. Why do you think we miss how important inter-dependency is to our personal health as well as to the survival of our planet? I know that is a big question!


Dr. Epel: When we look at solutions to becoming a more compassionate society, arrows point to our culture and education. Our strong culture, and the way we raise and teach children, reinforce the idea we are autonomous and competitive creatures. There are programs starting at early ages that promote better understanding of interdependence, compassion, and of how our mind works that will help make a much needed shift in our culture. Change needs to come both from policy, societal stress reduction policies, and from inside — our minds, our hearts. Why don’t masses of people smoke anymore? It wasn’t just the tobacco tax and policies. It was a change in our beliefs and social norms. We can all start that right now, from within, and in our local networks. We impact those close to us, we impact strangers too. Let’s use our positive impact! If it helps to know that our very cell aging is impacted by our neighborhood’s health, then spread the word and work, to change these together.


Lauroly Closing:  Excellent answer Dr. Epel! Thank you so much for your groundbreaking research and writing ‘The Telomere Effect‘! It really is two books in one. One for creating a personal blueprint for longevity and wellness and the other for raising awareness about how we can stop the health crisis of the entire planet. The second one is even more urgent as we need a healthy planet to live on!

Dr. Epel Closing:  Thank you Laura for your wonderful summaries and sharing these messages.



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