Saturday, November 29, 2008

GRATEFULNESS - A KEY TO HAPPIER LIFE

Want to find the key to a happy life? Well, all you need to do is grab a pen and write letters of gratitude.

Yes, you heard it right. But this method is only a fast solution to make your life happier than what it is now.

Thats what a research done by Dr. Steven Toepfer, assistant professor of family and consumer studies at Kent State University says.

According to Toepfer, people should explore the effects of writing letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted their lives.

Toepfer, an assistant professor of family and consumer studies at university”’’s Salem Campus, says that expressive writing is something that has been available to mankind since ink first appeared in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago.

“Everyone is pursuing the American dream. We are wealthier than previous generations, consuming more and experiencing more, but yet so many of us are so unhappy,” Toepfer says.
“The question of ””is there something simple we can do to be happier?”” is one that I have been thinking about for many years and one that has interested people for much longer, the researcher added.


With that question in mind, Toepfer enlisted students from six courses to explore the effects of writing letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted the students”” lives. Over the course of a six-week period, students wrote one letter every two weeks with the simple ground rules that it had to be positively expressive, required some insight and reflection, were nontrivial and contained a high level of appreciation or gratitude.

After each letter, students completed a survey to gauge their moods, satisfaction with life and feelings of gratitude and happiness.

Studies demonstrate, according to Toepfer, that practicing expressive writing is often associated with fewer health problems, decreased depression, an improved immune system and improved grades.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
mahtabbashir@yahoo.com
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

Saturday, November 22, 2008

9 mins, 36 secs make the perfect phone call!

The perfect phone call lasts nine minutes and 36 seconds later, and contains a chatty mix of family news, current affairs, a sprinkling of personal problems and a dash of the weather, according to experts.

Researchers came up with the best subject matter and timing after analysing more than 2,000 people’s likes and dislikes about talking on the phone.

According to the experts, in a call lasting nine minutes and 36 seconds, three minutes should be spent catching up with news about family and friends, one minute on personal problems, another minute on work/school, 42 seconds on current affairs and 24 seconds on the weather.

Chatting about the opposite sex should last 24 seconds, 12 seconds should be spent on celebrity gossip, one minute and 42 seconds on laughing, 12 seconds on silence and a minute on other general topics.

And it seems that mum’s the word when it comes to the perfect telephone conversation –as one in five people said they spent most time on the phone to their mother.

The research, by the Post Office, revealed that the phrase “I’ll get your mother” is common.

Only three per cent of people named their father as the person they spent most time on the phone with – because dads hand over the phone to their wives.

Catherine Blyth, author of The Art of Conversation, says anyone can conduct a good chat.

“Conversation can slip along with little more than a friendly smile and an open mind,” the Daily Express quoted her, as saying.

Hugh Stacey, head of telephony at the Post Office, said: “It was surprising that celebrity gossip only occupied 12 per cent of the perfect telephone call. The biggest surprise is that silence is golden – with 12 seconds of every call set aside for a little quiet contemplation.”

Psychotherapist Christine Webber said: “Regular contact with friends or family brings down blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and may stave off dementia.”

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Emotional Infidelity: a BIGGER sin?

It happens with most people at some point of time; when emotions betray their morals and principals.

Emotional deceit (Getty Images) Every relationship abides by an unsaid rule about keeping your love and emotions together, of sharing everything, right from your daily concerns and problems to your emotional dilemmas with the person that you're in love. But what if your soul finds comfort in the sanctuary of someone you can neither call your lover and neither just your friend? When you find someone special with whom you share a deep emotional connect, are you betraying your loved one and indulging in emotional infidelity? We explore...

An emotional connect Emotional adultery is when you embark on an emotional relationship with someone other than your partner. "Emotional infidelity is when a partner shares intimate feelings with another person, other than his/her partner, and is perhaps preoccupied with thoughts of that person and even craves for spending more quality time with him/her. It is any situation that creates or causes some degree of emotional unavailability, along with affecting the quality of one's existing relationship as a whole," explains Dr. Sanjay Chugh, a psychiatrist.

"It all started with the 'we're just friends' thing. But the connection became very obvious by the long hours we spent talking intimately on phone and the vibes that were being set off by both of us. We gelled so beautifully with each other that sharing personal matters took us just one week," shares Arpana Sanjogi (name changed), an HR manager about her friend of two years. "I didn't know what to call our relationship initially... but now I know my friend means nothing less to me than my man!" she adds further. Though Aparna asserts that it is only her husband that she loves, she dreads the day he could find out about her emotional straying.

"I was going through a low phase in my relationship just months before I broke off with my live in girlfriend. It was precisely at this time that I met this incredible woman in office with whom I started sharing a great emotional bond. Being on par professionally helped us bond regarding our career, and having similar traits drew me towards her on a more human level. It was an unspoken bond and though we never confessed our feelings we were deeply bonded. Even if I didn't see her for a single day I felt restless- missing her more than words could ever express," confesses 31-year-old media professional Dushyant Rajyavardhan who eventually broke off his affair, moved by the strength of his new found emotional anchor.

Emotional deceit: A bigger sin? Is emotional attachment to someone else other than your partner a more blatant betrayal than a physical adulterous affair? "If my husband has a one night stand, it would hurt. But if I catch him having an emotional affair, it will certainly knock the wind out of me. An emotional involvement is definitely harder to accept because it means mentally he belongs to someone else," says Sulekha Prakash, a bank employee. While Sulekha finds emotional infidelity to be a bigger offence, Suhail Sinha, a travel website manager, disagrees. "One can't tag sharing your feelings with someone as a betrayal! As long as one's spouse/partner is coming back to the same bed to sleep at night, they can't be blamed for cheating," he retaliates.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SCARS ON ISLAMABAD'S FACE GROW

Encroaching upon virtually everything that is for public use – from pavements to parks and from parking lots to playgrounds – people have made these their very own.

In the absence of any strict checks, the encroachers continue to make use of this ‘facility’ with no regard whatsoever for the public that has to suffer no end.

Blue Area, the commercial heartland of the Capital as elsewhere, has cars stay parked on pavements. Car dealers occupy entire parking lots and seminaries and mosques are built illegally on land meant for parks.

In markets across town, shopkeepers spread their ware in aisles inconveniencing visitors. Similarly, mostly students of seminaries, abuse play facilities meant for children. In this regard, a play area in F-6/4 is a fine example.

To make matters worse, every Tom, Dick and Harry has now begun to block streets in the name of security – threat or no threat. Everyone having to pass through is looked at with suspicion by the security guards or the police personnel.

The cemented slabs that have become a common sight are quite troublesome for the residents as they are for those placing them there.

The encroachment in whatever form it might be is an infringement on people’s freedom. We have to tackle this matter before it becomes beyond control.

But already this problem has become monstrous with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) seemingly making only half-hearted attempts. Had the city fathers not acted as spectators, the issue would not have spiraled out of control.

The problem of shutting down streets in residential areas stems from the nonconforming use of houses mainly by offices and embassies. However the CDA points out that crackdown on violators had already begun.

Although the authorities had made some attempts in this regard under former chairman Kamran Lashari, yet success was only limited.

Residents say that the increased commercial use of private houses and encroachments were the biggest scars on Islamabad’s face. For some reason, the will to combat these problems is lacking.

Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
Cell: 0300 52 56 875

Monday, November 17, 2008

US 'pregnant man' expecting again

Thomas Beatie, the US "pregnant man" who gave birth to a daughter in June, is expecting his second child.

The 34-year-old made the announcement in a television interview with Barbara Walters of ABC News.

Mr Beatie was born female but underwent gender reassignment and is now legally male. He kept his female reproductive organs so he could have a family.

The baby was due in early June, he told the TV host. He felt good and everything was going well.
"I had my checkups with my hormone level... everything is right on track," he said. Thomas Beatie grew up in Hawaii as Tracy Lagondin, but began to live as a man when he was in his twenties.


He had breast surgery to remove glands and flatten his chest but kept his female reproductive organs.

He has been married to his wife, Nancy, for five years and the couple bought sperm from a donor when they decided to start a family.

Mr Beatie gave birth to their baby daughter, Susan, the natural way, after a lengthy labour.
After the birth, he told Ms Walters, he did not resume taking male hormones because the couple wanted to have another baby.

The couple's second child is due on 12 June.

Beatie's wife, Nancy, 46, whom he married five years ago, was unable to conceive because of a prior hysterectomy.

He has said that is why he had a baby himself, through artificial insemination using donor sperm and Beatie's own egg.

The couple live in Bend, Oregon, and have led a quiet life since the birth of their baby girl, Susan.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
mahtabbashir@gmail.com

Sunday, November 16, 2008

TRUST ME AGAIN

How can I trust someone

If ‘someone’ has broken my trust
My heart is empty, its cold as ice
It reaches to break, leaks out of blood
The blood drips and slips away
That trust, that moment
All within those you have broken

I may not trust you again

But that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends
Just friends without that trust
You have to work your trust with me
Make me understand why should I trust you again

You have to repair that broken trust
You have to work hard
That don’t mean be hateful towards me
Just show me that I can trust you once more.


Muhammad Mahtab Bashir

Voice: 0300 52 56 875

mahtabbashir@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Music to your ears? Music for your heart, too.

Songs that make our hearts soar can make them stronger too, US researchers reported.

They found that when people listened to their favorite music, their blood vessels dilated in much the same way as when laughing or taking blood medications.

“We have a pretty impressive effect,” said Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. “Blood vessel diameter improved,” he said in a telephone interview. “The vessel opened up pretty significantly. You can see the vessels opening up with other activities such as exercise.” A similar effect is seen with drugs such as statins and ACE inhibitors.

When blood vessels open more, blood flows more smoothly and is less likely to form the blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. Elastic vessels also resist the hardening activity of atherosclerosis. “We are not saying to stop your statins or not to exercise but to add this to an overall program of heart health,” said Miller, who presented his findings to a meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.

Miller’s team tested 10 healthy, non-smoking men and women, who were told to bring their favorite music. They spent half an hour listening to the recordings and half an hour listening to music they said made them feel anxious while the researchers did ultrasound tests designed to show blood vessel function.

Compared to their normal baseline measurements, blood vessel diameter increased 26 percent on average when the volunteers heard their joyful music. Listening to music they disliked -- in most cases in this group heavy metal -- narrowed blood vessels by six percent, Miller said. Miller said he came up with the idea after discovering the laughter caused blood to literally flow more smoothly. “I asked myself what other things make us feel real good, besides calories from dark chocolate of course. Music came to mind. ... It makes me feel real good,” he said. Most of the volunteers chose country music but Miller said the style is not as important as what pleases each individual.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
mahtabbashir@yahoo.com
Cell: 0300 52 56 875
Islamabad

Friday, November 7, 2008

GOSSIP AT WORK UPS PRODUCTIVITY

Workers who gossip between tasks, not during them, are more productive than those workers who remain isolated, says a new US research.

Office grapevine makes employees productive. (Getty Images)What’s more, communication at the wrong time reduces productivity.

Employees who remain closely knit with one another frequently are more productive than those who are more isolated, the researchers have found.

The researchers used electronic monitoring to tease apart the various types of interaction in the workplace and their differing effects.

Such monitoring could improve how individuals and organizations work, but it raises issues about the extent to which companies monitor their employees' behaviour.

Many studies of communication within organizations, such as of who e-mails whom, have suggested that loose networks, in which people have few contacts in common, boost productivity. But these don't capture face-to-face, moment-to-moment communication, says Benjamin Waber of the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"People have formal structures and reporting relationships, but when you look at who's actually talking to each other you get a different picture. We can predict productivity far more accurately from these informal structures and behaviours,” Nature quoted Waber, as saying.

Waber and his colleagues equipped a team of 23 employees at a Chicago IT company with badges that detect when they are talking, who they are close to and when they are moving about.

The workers were designing server systems. Over the course of a month, the researchers collected data on 911 individual jobs done by 23 employees in 1,900 hours. As well as measuring the time spent on each job — anything from five minutes to several days — they were able to control for its complexity and detect errors.

People who spent lots of time between jobs interacting with their colleagues — going to lunch or stopping for a chat — ultimately got much more done, the results showed. The best connected employee was 60 percent more productive than the least, says Waber, who presented his results at the International Conference on Network Science in Norwich, UK, on 27 June.

No one suspected that such interaction would help, says Waber.

"The company was astounded — formally, these people were not supposed to be talking to each other," he says.

On the other hand, if someone communicated while they were assigned to a task — whether seeking help or distracted by others — their productivity dropped sharply.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

Sunday, November 2, 2008

WORLD'S MOST ROMANTIC COUPLE

The world's most romantic couple Anette and Kenneth Lund have already married each other six times as well as breaking a world record with four ceremonies in one day.

The pair are so besotted they plan to keep tying the knot every year until they die in a bid to keep the excitement of their marriage alive.
Mrs Lund, 32, explained: "When Kenneth asked me to marry him again and again, I loved the idea.
"I'll never get tired of marrying him, even when we're old and grey. I'll have a new dress, flowers and pictures every year. What bride wouldn't love that?"

The couple, from Vejle, Denmark, run a wedding planning website together and jetted off to Las Vegas for their four weddings last month.

They said their vows first at the Venetian Hotel, then in a limousine conducted by Elvis, thirdly in a helicopter above the bright lights of the strip, and finally while skydiving.

"We wanted it to be fun, and it was," said Mrs Lund. "But each time we got married, it was as special as our real wedding three years ago.

"In the morning we had to rush to the registrar to pick up our marriage licences, then we went to a shop to hire a wedding dress and suit.

"It was very hot and we were rushing around all day. But I didn't worry about my hair, or how my make-up looked.

"The only thing that mattered was the man I was marrying and how in love we are."

Ironically, Mr Lund met his wife when he planned her first wedding to her ex-husband, and they started dating when her marriage ended after a year.

Mrs Lund said: "We share the same sense of humour and there's a definite chemistry between us.

"Now we work together, live together and we're very in love.

"We always do romantic things like surprise each other with little notes on the mirror, or flowers in the bed."

Before flying to Las Vegas, Mr Lund handed his wife a box containing a sparkling pink sapphire ring to replace her real enagement ring, which she lost last year.

"I never realised there were so many ways to get married in Las Vegas," he said. "We couldn't decide which to do so we decided to do them all.

"Now we have the world record for the most weddings in a day."

The couple originally wed at a civil ceremony in Denmark in August 2005.

"We sneaked off and got married without telling anyone," said Mrs Lund. "It was romantic because it was just two people in love.

"We invited our families to dinner afterwards and luckily they all forgave us."

But a year later, Mr Lund proposed again and the couple had a full church service in August 2007.

"We had a great day with all our friends and family and Kenneth's daughter Mille, seven, was a bridesmaid," said his wife.

Now the couple are busy planning their next wedding.

"Next year we'd like to say our vows while swimming with dolphins in Mexico," said Mr Lund.
"We're also investigating whether its possible to marry on the Orient Express."

The couple's website helps brides and grooms to be plan everything from their outfits to venues, flowers and table settings.

"We hope to help people have a service as special as all ours have been," said Mrs Lund.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Women unnerved by ‘ogling’ security guards in capital

Islamabad continues to be plagued by a string of issues yet there are some that rarely get highlighted like the security guards - their habit of staring at women, so to speak.

With the security situation showing little signs of improving, more and more guards are now being employed, many of whom are posted outside private homes and it is here where the problem begins.

In some of the posh sectors like those falling under the E and F series, there is barely a house without a guard sitting outside. Clad usually in dark blue uniforms, for most of these men staring at women is a favorite pastime.

Having to perform long duties, at times up to 12 hours each day, there is little else for them to but to watch and stare at everyone going past, especially the women.

The situation is worse in streets where offices, embassies, showrooms and guesthouses have been set up that makes the movement of women quite troublesome. “No one likes being stared at, it is simply a disgusting thing,” remarked Shazia Ahmed, a housewife.

The movement of housewives has been restricted because of this problem. All sorts of people visit the offices in residential areas and there is so much of activity going on outside that it makes it hard for most women to come out of their homes as the presence of security guards was also a big irritant.

Today there are as many as 500 registered security firms that recruit the guards who are then posted in places where the client’s want them to be. More than 100 people come to use for recruitment daily.


However the growing numbers are clearly not going down well with women. Security is everyone’s concern but the unprofessional manner in which the guards perform their duties and their gestures make women feel uncomfortable. The guards are actually a security threat for they shared information with their colleagues and servants in the neighbourhood. They tell others what time a woman next door leaves for work and returns. Tthe guards have given different names to women in different street. This is simply insulting.


On the other hand the security guards have their own story to tell. Some of the guards instead of admitting their wrong said that why were they being singled out. “Everyone looks at women, you cannot put a person in jail for doing so,” said one guard posted in F 6/4 while another thought that it was their duty to keep an eye on everyone. As far as the guards are concerned, they are doing a good job. Really?


Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
House # 2026, Street # 32,
I-10/2, ISLAMABAD.
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Voice: 0300 52 56 875