Today's Boomer Magazine Jan./Feb./March 2023 Vol.11 No.1

Page 11

Today’s BoomeR Featuring The Only B2B -Business 2 BoomeR Marketplace! Happy, Healthy, & Breaking Free in 2023 Vol.11 No.1
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Today’s BoomeR 3 Editor-In-Chief: Alexandra V. Maragha Contributors: Chef Eben Atwater, Jodi Geline For Letters to the Editor, articles, and feedback as well as advertising inquiries visit us at www.TodaysBoomerMagazine.com Today’s BoomeR Magazine is an online publication of The American BoomeR Group For more information about Today’s BoomeR visit www.TodaysBoomerMagazine.com Find us on Twitter @todaysboomer For more information about The American BoomeR Group visit www.TheAmericanBoomer.com Follow on Facebook The American Boomer Today’s BoomeR Magazine Vol.11 No.1 Today’s Boomer is published quarterly (Jan/Feb/March, April/May/June, July/Aug./Sept., Oct./Nov./Dec.) Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Visit www.TodaysBoomerMagazine.com ThisIssue Winter 2023 (Volume 11, No. 1) Editor’s Letter 4 Happy, Healthy, & Breaking Free in 2023 Social Security 6 8.7 Percent Benefit Increase for 2023 F (Forget) Being Old 7 2023- The Year to Revisit Your “Bucket List” Peace of Heart & Mind: 9 Your Ideal Weight Is Closer Than You Think Boomer Travel 11 Qatar Travel Guide: Why You’ll Love it Happiness is the Key 15 to Health Retiring This Year? What To 19 Do Right Before Taking the Leap Old Enough For Sex 22 7 Major Health Effects of Expressing Gratitude in Relationships BoomeR ConsumeR Watch: 24 Can’t Hear What Actors Are Saying on TV? It’s Not You, Probably Boomer Healthy Eating 26 Delightful Almond Biscotti 2012 2022 Celebrating 10 Years of Today’s Boomer Magazine! Thank you!

Be happy, healthy, and break free from anything negative in 2023! A simple statement but when reflected on oneself, it can have a world of meaning. The science behind happiness and choosing happiness is a hidden gem that is often not realized in the world we live in today. The “American Dream” boomers grew up with (and even rebelled against) promoted by media and pop culture, is not reflective of reality and the true meaning of satisfaction and happiness as it promoted more of a “one-size fits all” ideology. As boomers and following generations are continuing the quest for their “American Dream”, technology, media, and the influence of social media have redefined that dream towards individualism while the notion of “keeping up with the Jones” has become a disturbing social media spying habit and affecting the overall health and well-being of many of all ages.

A key question in this debate is to ask yourself, why am I checking someone else’s social media? To make a positive connection or Interaction, or to “see what they are up to”? The new way to compare “the haves” with “the have-nots” is now heightened more than ever affecting the focus and mental health of many as they experience a whole new wave of jealousy, greed, and interactions that have a new way of disturbance to one’s self-esteem, going beyond the notion of “healthy competition”.

It is time to break free from the Hollywood and consumer-driven messaging that one can buy happiness and health, or that what everyone is doing or telling you to do (advertising, friends feeds or social media posts, or followed influencers) will also make YOU happy. Do money and material goods provide true satisfaction that brings joy in someone’s life? Can happiness be brought on by how much one has? Your answers to these questions may work for you but the general perspective is if they do, it is only momentary and not long-term.

Studies have shown that meaningful moments and true connections are what can maintain health and wellness, as told by our feature story. Relationships can be brought together through gratitude and giving, rather than selfish ambitions and taking to “find happiness”. Sure, money can buy great extravagant experiences and perhaps provide less financial stress, but the idea that more wealth creates more genuine happiness is not necessarily true. One can ask, is it truly the item or experience itself, or is it the reactions of others that make me happy to post about it on social media? Are the people around me making me happy, or am I with them to “keep up” or for some other personal gain that is not genuine? Perhaps a main indicator of the status of relationships is how many times outside of social media am I really interacting or truly connecting with people? Am I calling anyone or is anyone calling me? Do I physically see these people in a meaningful way that is beneficial for both them and me? The answers to these questions may make your digital followers and friends list shrink drastically in reality, again posing the question, what is the true status of my relationships and how is it truly impacting my health and happiness?

At the same time, what one thinks will make one happy may only be an illusion of what someone only knows as a comfortable habit, causing one to miss out on new opportunities that may also bring true happiness. Experiencing something new outside of what you may even think you like may bring more happiness than ever expected, as what one knows is not always what is reality. Traveling to places such as Qatar, which may have been placed under scrutiny according to a certain standard, does not mean that the world must fall into a single way of life, but a healthy world and happy experience may come when one ventures out into something new to experience what the true reality is for themselves, and that something different is not something bad.

Likewise, what someone else says or does is not in anyone else’s control, and releasing expectations or dreams about “I wish this happened” or “If this did not happen then…” are thoughts that become blockades to living in the moment of an opportunity to create your own happiness and value everything that has made that moment happen. The past can never be brought back, and regrets only take away time from now. Let anything negative go. Worrying about anything that is not controllable is not anything to worry about. Distractions such as politics, news, and even aspects of entertainment can all become something that can deter happiness when not managed or consumed with a realization of your own true purpose. Conscious connections to the moment one is living in now is the best way to break free from distractions of negativity, how negativity may affect one’s health, and to let positivity and happiness for yourself be in your control.

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p. EDITOR’S LETTER
(feap. 4
Happy, Healthy, & Breaking Free in 2023

Save Social Security:

TheAmericanBoomer.com thanks you for your continual support and for making your voice heard in Saving Our Social Security!

With proposed changes in the federal budget and inflation in the U.S. economy, the work to maintain and preserve the Social Security Trust Fund is far from over.

More Information visit
For
www.TheAmericanBoomeR.com

Social Security: Social Security Announces 8.7 Percent Benefit Increase for 2023

From

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 8.7 percent in 2023, the Social Security Administration announced today. On average, Social Security benefits will increase by more than $140 per month starting in January.

The 8.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 65 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2023. Increased payments to more than 7 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2022. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits).

The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $160,200 from $147,000.

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. The fastest way to find out their new benefit amount is to access their personal my Social Security account to view the COLA notice online. It’s secure, easy, and people find out before the mail arrives.

“Medicare premiums are going down and Social Security benefits are going up in 2023, which will give seniors more peace of mind and breathing room. This year’s substantial Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is the first time in over a decade that Medicare premiums are not rising and shows that we can provide more support to older Americans who count on the benefits they have earned,” Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said.

To view a COLA message from Acting Commissioner Kijakazi, please visit www.youtube.com/watch? v=Vgm5q4YT1AM

People can also opt to receive a text or email alert when there is a new message from Social Security such as their COLA notice waiting for them, rather than receiving a letter in the mail. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Information about Medicare changes for 2023 is available at www.medicare.gov.

For Social Security beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare, their new higher 2023 benefit amount will be available in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.ssa.gov/ cola.

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(Forget) Being Old: RxforLiving:

2023 TheYeartoRevisitYour BucketList

As Now that the Covid 19 Pandemic is mostly in our rearview mirror it's time to look forward and live again —not just exist as we did under a national health emergency. As we Boomers get older we know that life gets shorter so it's important to prioritize your life s desires and to-dos. I suggest you don’t follow the aging herd but break away and use the Nike philosophy of “Just Do It”!

Before you are ready to go for it, I encourage you to make a “Bucket List” a list of all of the dreams, goals, activities, and experiences you want to fulfill before you die. Write down and itemize all that will motivate you to pursue your real passions before it's too late. Anything and everything you have ever wanted to do or try- and don’t be afraid to dream and make them big, audacious, and exciting! At our stage of life, we should be carefree and stay away from playing the regret game.

Why think about all this now? Because as we age time becomes our most precious commodity and how we spend it is crucial. We live in a rote/staccato of day-to-day activities so now is the time to activate yourself and get moving and going into the future.

Remember Johnny V’s Mantra: “Movement is Medicine and Motion Is Lotion”! So I suggest you take a moment and plan for the rest of your life by creating your personal list of what activities are and will be important to you. It s not a race against time it’s a way to maximize engagement in fulfilling activities in the present time.

Your “bucket list” is your way of benchmarking how you want to live the rest of your life to the fullest. It can be as few as two or as many as 50 things you want to do or partake in before your life ends.

To get your soup started after you read this, get out your laptop or tablet and start writing down what comes to mind when you read the following questions:

• What would you do if you were to die tomorrow?

• What wish list would you ask for before you die?

• What is it that you always wanted to do?

• Who do you want to see and what would you say to them?

• If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?

• What have you been dreaming about doing all of your life?

• What difference did you make while you were alive?

• What would like to achieve before you die?

Create your list with as many realistic wishes that make sense to you and are achievable and knock them off one at a time savoring the experience.

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To help get you going, the following are some items from my “BL”:

• Visit Dubai

• Take Up Painting

• Travel to the Birthplace of my Family Ancestors

• Make a Difference in Someone’s Life

• Achieve My Ideal Weight

• Volunteer for a New Community Cause

• Attend the Kentucky Derby

• Spend More Meaningful Time Appreciating Family/Friends

• Participate in the Senior Olympics

• Travel the Historic Route 66

Once you have your list keep it with you or in a visible place where you can refer to it. I would start first with doing the simplest and easiest to undertake to give you a sense of self-accomplishment.

It will be important to keep your mental/physical health and passion up for these new endeavors. Your list should give you a sense of purpose for moving forward. Keep the juices flowing for all that you want to experience. Let your Bucket List be the driver of an action plan for your end-of-life strategy and keep focused on accomplishing it.

Remember what Morgan Freeman said in The Bucket List movie: “Its not about worrying about dying—it's all about living!”

So, Boomers, this is the year to get back in the game of life-commit to working on knocking off your bucket versus kicking It!

John A. Vardalas, CAE/CUDE CEO/Founder of The American BoomeR Group, is a professional speaker/ business consultant. He can be reached at jvardallas@aol.com and visiting TheAmericanBoomer.com

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2. 3.
13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. Live Life with Purpose, Be Thankful, & Happy!
Johnny V’s 23 Ways to Happiness in 2023 1.
4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Peace of Heart and Peace of Mind:

Your Ideal Weight Is Closer Than You Think

It's that time of year when so many want to lose weight after the holidays and start the new year feeling fit and healthy.

The typical advice you hear is to eat less and exercise more. If that advice worked, our society wouldn't be so overweight. That forces so many to try all the different fad diets, which are typically the same diets that have been out there over the last several decades, under a new packaged name. These are typically so void of nutrients and anything to build up good healthy cells in the body.

I'm not a fan of diets. On most diets, when you lose weight, you are actually losing muscle along with the fat. Muscle is what you want to keep to have a higher metabolism. Because muscle burns calories more efficiently than fat.

Being your ideal weight is about quality of life, feeling good about yourself, and being proud of your body. You want a healthy approach to maintaining your ideal weight.

If you want to lose, this isn’t about a quick fix, as a lack of nutritious foods will cause more harm in the long run. I know you want this – yesterday! But it’s vital to change your habits so you can maintain an efficient metabolism and energy level.

It is said that your metabolism decreases with age – by 1% a year after age 30. I don’t believe that. I believe it’s because of lack of exercise, movement, activity, and loss of muscle that decreases your metabolism. That’s the real cause, not because of the number of years you’ve been on this planet. You just have to take care of your body. Are you exercising and moving your body?

You can eat more and weigh less. It’s just choosing the right foods. Eating more often – 6 times a day, will boost your metabolism (with the right foods that rev up your metabolism). It’s choosing foods with life force energy. See

my article from the last quarter about choosing foods with life force.

Ditch the scale. All that does is cause anxiety and obsession. Go by how your pants fit. You know your body and what is comfortable for YOU, not some ideal weight on a scale that is not unique to you.

Know that the way you eat and what you eat is just a habit. Seriously. Think about that.

I want you to look at it from a different perspective. You CAN create new habits. Healthy foods are not bland and tasteless. They taste amazing!

Your palate is used to bland foods. That might trigger you, but you may have a habit of thinking over processed, sugar -laden foods tastes good. It’s actually killing your taste buds. You’ll know what I mean when you start getting your taste buds back. You’ll wonder – how did I ever eat this food and think it tasted good? I’m serious!

Here are the steps to get started

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Step 1: Movement/Exercise

Your body craves movement and wants to breathe that deep oxygen into your lungs and cells. You feel so good after a workout! Keep that vision in your mind to keep you moving. Do cardio AND weights at least 5 days a week. Cardio gets your heart rate up if you do it for at least 20 – 30 minutes. Weights build muscle and that increases your metabolism and burns more fat and keeps your bones strong.

The hardest part is to start a routine. Once you’re in a routine, it’s much easier to stick to it. If you find that you don’t feel “in the mood” to work out, put on your exercise clothes and tennis shoes. How do you feel now? It will get you motivated!

Trying new activities to get your heart rate up is good to do too. Like hiking, running, tennis, or other sports.

Step 2: Life Force Energy Foods

Choose foods with life force energy (see my previous article in volume 10, number 2 of Today’s Boomer). You can develop balanced healthy eating habits to help you upgrade your body. When your body is operating at peak performance, you’ll burn more calories efficiently.

Step 3: Make small, incremental changes

The first is to eliminate or start reducing sugar. Sugar is in 80% of the food products in the store! (if you want my Hidden Sugar Report, so you can easily detect where that sugar is hidden in the foods-contact me!) Then reduce or eliminate alcohol and soda. Slowly incorporate something healthy at regular intervals. Your metabolism will increase and you’ll feel energetic and lighter. Decide to start cooking at home. That way you can control what’s in the food you eat.

Step 4: Choose Lighter Food

Choose from the basic sample meal options.

The lighter the food, the quicker it burns through your body.

In the morning, drink a glass of water and do 10 minutes of exercise to get your metabolism revved up for the day to burn excess body fat. According to Dr. Robert Cooper, you

don’t have as many stored carbohydrates in your muscles. So when you get up and exercise, the fuel that’s pulled from your cells is more likely to be fat than carbohydrates.

Sample balanced meal options: Breakfast

• Protein/protein shake

• Starch/grains

• Greens

• Fruit as a snack between meals (or eat fruit at the beginning of the meal because it digests quicker) Don’t drink with meals, it dilutes digestive enzymes. Lunch

• Protein

• Starch/grains

• Fats

• Vegetable Dinner

• Protein

• Starch/grains

• Fats

• Vegetable

If you want to learn more, email me at jodi@peaceofmyheart.net or visit my website at www.peaceofmyheart.net

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Qatar Travel Guide

Why you'll love it

With its futuristic buildings, headlong development and seemingly endless wealth, Qatar is often grouped in with its glitzy UAE neighbours. However, Qatar is far from a Dubai wannabe it’s a land of hidden depths and exhilarating contrasts.

What to do, where to stay and why you'll love it BOOMER TRAVEL

This is captured in the view from Doha’s Dhow Harbour, on the southern curve of the city’s waterfront promenade. There, humble wooden pearl-fishing boats creak and bob on the water as they’ve done for generations. In the distance behind them is another world entirely a city skyline of soaring steel and glass so ambitious and eccentric it’s like a Jetsons futurescape made real.

Qatar is hyper-modern and steadfastly traditional, radical as well as conservative. There are luxury shopping malls with Arctic air-conditioning, and mud-walled souks selling jewellery and spices in the sweltering heat. There are thrilling modern artworks from around the world, and textiles handcrafted by Bedouin weavers. There are spectacular rooftop cocktail bars, and homely street stalls selling cardamom-flavoured karak tea in paper cups.

Out beyond Doha’s manmade metropolis, nature holds sway. Here you’ll find mangrove forests where flamingos wade through salty shallows, shrub-stubbled dunes where oryx graze and vast deserts of sun-blasted sand.

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As Qatar [was the] host city of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, no doubt its contrasts will grow starker and ever more fascinating for those who take the time to explore.

What to do

Doha is the obvious starting point for any trip to Qatar, particularly for lovers of art and architecture. The Museum of Islamic Art is not only spectacular from the outside a limestone fortress designed by the Louvre pyramid architect, IM Pei it’s also home to the world’s largest collection of Islamic art. Meanwhile, Mathaf (the Arab Museum of Modern Art) specialises in international modern art with an Arab connection. And don’t miss the Qatar National Library even if you’re not in a reading mood, being inside this extraordinary glass-walled spaceship of a building is an experience in itself.

For old-Qatar atmosphere, bustle and bargains, head to the Souq Waqif*. The market has been in place for more than 250 years, and today it’s easy to imagine what it was like during Bedouin times, with haggling locals and colourful market stalls selling handcrafted gold jewellery,

rugs and incense. There’s even a falcon souq for Qatar’s passionate falconry crowd, where dozens of prized birds are displayed in tiny leather hoods and sold for up to £200,000.

Doha steals much of the limelight, but Qatar has plenty of spectacular natural landscapes to draw visitors away from the city. Head to the “Inland Sea” of Khor Al Adaid, a Unesco-listed tidal inlet where deep-blue waters meet wind -sculpted desert sand dunes in Qatar’s south. Along the eastern coast are white mangrove forests populated by sea

turtles and scuttling crustaceans, best viewed from a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.

With almost 600km of coastline, Qatar is blessed with beautiful beaches of all kinds from the luxurious, cabana -style experiences in the heart of the city to action-packed activity beaches where quadbikes* thrum and the waters dance with paddleboards and kayaks. For quieter beaches

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head to the northern coast, where you can snorkel in crystal-clear waters, explore rock pools and keep an eye out for visiting dolphins.

Where to stay

Qatar’s hotel accommodation veers sharply towards the high end, with few truly budget options. But for those with money to spend, the country offers some of the most luxurious and captivating hotels in the Middle East.

For sky-scraping opulence, head for the West Bay* quarter, located on the northern curve of the Corniche. Here you’ll find startlingly modern structures and rooms with designer furniture, bespoke artworks and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking some of Doha’s most striking buildings. (Try to charm the concierge into giving you a room on a high floor, to take advantage of the views.) West Bay is also home to a slew of glorious waterfront hotels, with outdoor pools and their own golden stretches of sand on the shores of the Persian Gulf.

For a more traditional flavour and less of an assault on your bank balance head to the area around the Souq Waqif*. Here there are plenty of mid-range and boutique hotels, many converted from old market buildings and some featuring traditional thatched roofs.

Outside of Doha, accommodations are largely restricted to beachside resorts, so grab the opportunity to take part in the age-old Qatari tradition of desert camping. Pack your own tent and choose an isolated spot for a campfire and stargazing, or visit an established camp where you can sleep in an air-conditioned safari tent, enjoy gourmet meals and take your pick of desert activities from dune-bashing to camel-riding.

Don’t miss

Qatar has a thriving expat community living in Doha, outnumbering Qatari natives more than six to one, but there are opportunities to experience life like a local. Start by sampling some authentic cuisine a rich line-up of slow-cooked and saucy dishes featuring tender meats and fresh-caught seafood. Seek out a place serving the much-loved machboos spiced rice with chicken, lamb or even camel and finish your meal with a plate of sticky luqaimat dumplings, flavoured with saffron and dripping

with honey.

For a glimpse into the astonishing opulence enjoyed by Qatar’s upper echelons, head to the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum. Here, visitors have the rare chance to view a sheikh’s personal belongings, a vast collection of artworks, carpets, rare coins and swords, plus

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Doha may look hypermodern, but don’t be misled, Qatar is a conservative Muslim country with cultural values to match. Don’t get too amorous with your partner in public, avoid swearing or any kind of obscenity, and be careful when sitting in a group, as pointing the soles of your feet at another person is considered rude. Also, be sure to greet people with your right hand, and avoid eating with your left.

What

s banned in Qatar?

Drinking alcohol in public is a definite no-no visitors can readily buy drinks at hotel bars, but be sure to consume them onsite. Don’t take photos of any local person

a line-up of vintage American cars and a full-sized stuffed camel.

To understand the country’s Bedouin roots, leave Doha behind and head into the desert. At Bir Zekreet the landscape rears up into towering limestone escarpments with mushroom-like tops, and near by at the Brouq Nature Reserve there is the chance to experience modern art far from the slick galleries of the capital. New York artist Richard Serra’s East-West/West-East is an installation of gargantuan steel plates arrayed in the stark desert landscape. Witness its slow, inexorable change of colour from grey to tawny brown as the steel oxidises in the salty winds.

In the country’s far north there are some rather older desert artworks, the rock carvings of Al Jassaisiya. These petroglyphs, depicting abstract shapes and symbols, are of disputed age, either hundreds of years or millennia old, depending on who you believe.

Best time to visit

Take care to time your visit outside of Qatar’s extreme summer heat; go for the cooler months of October to April, and aim for March to catch the camel racing season. Try to avoid the month of Ramadan as most restaurants are closed during the day.

FAQs

What are the dos and don’ts in Qatar?

without their consent, or at religious, military or construction sites. And be extra careful with your social media posts, as anything considered obscene, defamatory or an invasion of privacy can land you in hot water. Be sure to check the Foreign Office website for more information before you go.

How should I dress in Qatar?

Keep your shoulders and knees covered in public, so no tank tops or above-the-knee shorts or skirts. For women, tight-fitting clothes are frowned upon, so best stick to loose clothing, and bring a pashmina to cover up when needed for instance, when entering a religious site or during Ramadan. This dress code extends to public beaches, but on private beaches and in hotels, less modest beachwear and clothing is fine.

Currency: Qatari Riyal

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Key

A new book from a renowned Harvard University doctor reveals why being happy is an even better predictor of a long life than your cholesterol levels are. Plus, his most shocking scientific discovery about how to become happy—all based on 100 years of Harvard health data.

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Happiness is the
to Health People Who Did This One Thing at Age 50 Were the Healthiest at Age 80

Happy people live longer than unsatisfied folks and, they’re more likely to enjoy good health during those extra years. This was one of the biggest findings of the ongoing Harvard Adult Development Study, the longest running study of adult health and happiness in the world.

Beginning in 1938, researchers followed 724 men throughout their lives and are now studying 1,300 of those participants’ children. The study’s been very involved, tracking data through detailed medical records and hundreds of in-person interviews and questionnaires. What they’ve learned so far has been published in a January 2023 book, The Good Life, coauthored by the current director of the study, Robert Waldinger, MD, and the assistant director, Marc Schulz, PhD.

Dr. Waldinger, who is also a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, recently chatted with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest about what really makes people happy, the most important thing you can do for your health. The study finding that surprised him the most. (Hint: it has nothing to do with whether or not you’re ticklish one of the stranger questions that researchers have included on the study questionnaire for nearly 100 years. “I still have no idea why they put it on there originally, but we’ve kept it just in case!”)

Two myths about happiness you need to know

Before you can figure out what makes you happier, and therefore healthier, you first need to understand that you’ve been lied to about the source of true happiness, he says.

Happiness myth #1: Modern society is about making people happy

Despite the wide range of gadgets, products, entertainment, and self-help seminars touting to make you happy, the truth is that our current social

structure isn’t designed for individual happiness and many of our modern institutions and conveniences are making us desperately unhappy.

“Life today is a haze of competing social, political, and cultural priorities, some of which have very little to do with improving people’s lives,” he says. “The modern world prioritizes many things ahead of the health and happiness of human beings.”

Happiness myth #2: You know what will make you happy

Think you’ll know your happiness when you find it?

When people were surveyed about what they thought would make them happy, the most common response was getting rich, followed by becoming famous, having a successful career, traveling a lot, and having an “easy” life. The truth? Absolutely none of those things, on their own, bring happiness.

This truth is shown starkly in the lives of John and Leo, profiled throughout the book. John was a wealthy lawyer with a Harvard education, coming from a prominent family and was well-known in his community. Leo was a high-school art teacher from a bad neighborhood, just eking out a living. Yet, John was the unhappiest man recorded in the history of the study, dying after decades of health problems, while Leo was the happiest, staying active and healthy nearly to the end.

Clearly money can’t buy health or happiness but why, exactly? The answer surprised even Dr. Waldinger.

The most surprising finding on happiness

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In analyzing all that data, the thing that surprised me the most was finding that our relationships are the most important factor in happiness, and that how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” he says. “The size of the effect was huge! The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”

People who had a variety of close relationships romantic partners, family, friends, or coworkers were happier and healthier. What mattered, Dr. Waldinger says, wasn’t the nature of the relationship, nor how many relationships a person had, but rather the quality of their relationships.

“We found that human beings need exercise, nutrition, and a sense of purpose but most of all, we need each other,” he says. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That’s the revelation.”

Health benefits of close relationships

The number-one best thing you can do to improve your health is to find, nurture, and preserve close relationships. One correlation researchers found: people’s reported satisfaction with their relationships

at age 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels were. In fact, having close relationships was a stronger predictor of overall health than IQ, social class, wealth, or genetics.

Here are just a few of the health benefits of relationships that they found:

• Less risk of heart disease or heart attacks

• Lower blood pressure

• Lower risk of chronic illnesses including Type II diabetes

• Less cognitive decline with aging

• Improved memory

• Stronger immune system

• Faster healing

• Less mental illness, including depression and anxiety

The key is that relationships help manage stress in a powerful way and when you lower the stress hormones, you lower inflammation in the body, which causes a wide range of health problems, he explains.

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The health habits a happiness researcher swears by

Most of the book focuses on relationships so we asked Dr. Waldinger to share the health habits he personally practices. Here’s what he revealed:

• Walking two to three miles outdoors every morning

• Weight training twice a week

• Stretching three times a week

• Meditating daily

• Limiting time on social media, and using it to interact with others, rather than just scroll

• Having pets (he and his wife love keeping birds!)

• Focused attention, and no multitasking (“It doesn’t work anyhow, you’re not more productive overall.”)

• Reaching out to someone, to connect, daily

The question he gets asked the most about how to be happy

“When people hear about our research, so many people ask ‘Is it too late for me to be happy?’ and the answer is a resounding ‘No!’,” he says. “We found that about 40% of your happiness is under your direct control. It’s never too late to choose happiness.”

Choosing is the key simply waiting for things to happen to you to make you happy is a highway to heartbreak.

Happiness isn’t

about what happens to you, but how you deal with it. “The good life is forged from precisely the things that make it hard,” he concludes.

And a large part of how you deal with those hard things is through building relationships. “Living in the midst of warm relationships is protective of both mind and body.”

So if you do just one thing for your health today, he recommends the final item on his personal list: think of someone, anyone, and connect with them. (In person is preferable, but a phone call or even text works too.) In other words: science says call your mom.

Follow The Healthy @Reader’sDigest on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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“We found that about 40% of your happiness is under your direct control. It’s never too late to choose happiness.”

Retiring This Year? What To Do Right Before Taking the Leap

Most people are aware that they should start saving for retirement at a young age. However, that is generally all the preparation that young people make for their future retirement, which can be decades down the road.

Once retirement is right in front of you, there are a whole host of preparations that you should be making. There's no longer time to make long-term investments to build up your nest egg, but there is time to map out your path for the next phase of your life. Here are some of the things you should be taking a look at if you're about to take the big step into retirement.

Plan Out Your Social Security Filing Strategy

When you started saving for retirement when you were young, you may have thought of Social Security as something that will take care of itself once you retire. To some degree, this is true, as you can't control what the government will decide regarding Social Security payments. However, there are still many actions you can take that will greatly impact the total value of Social Security benefits you will receive over your lifetime.

For example, even though "full retirement age" for most Americans is now 67, you can begin drawing Social Security as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. Every year that you can delay beginning benefits, your payout may rise by as much as 8% per year. Deciding when to claim for your spouse, if applicable, can also play a role, as can your life expectancy. You may want to consult with a tax or financial advisor to help you develop an appropriate Social Security filing

strategy to maximize your benefits.

Evaluate the Tax Consequences of Your Retirement Plans

If you saved up a sizable amount in your retirement plans, congratulations! You've already got a leg up when it comes to your retirement. If your savings are all in a Roth IRA, you're in an even better position. Although you didn't get to enjoy any tax deductions when you made your Roth contributions, now that you'll be retiring, you'll be able to take tax-free withdrawals.

If all of your retirement money is tied up into plans such as traditional IRAs and 401(k) plans, you'll have to plan on losing some of what you've saved to taxes. For example, if you've saved the much-touted $1 million in your taxable retirement plans, remember that this doesn't mean you'll have $1 million to use in your retirement. Depending on your withdrawal strategy and your tax bracket, you might lose 10%, 20% or even more of that amount to taxes.

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Organize All of Your Documents

Although you may have 30-plus years of retirement ahead of you, there are no promises or certainties when it comes to life expectancy. If you or your spouse were to pass suddenly, the survivor would have to deal with not only grief and stress but also lots of paperwork. At such a troubling time, you can provide tremendous peace of mind by keeping all of your financial documentation clear and organized.

Everything from computer passwords to bank account numbers and evidence of all of your financial assets and liabilities, from credit cards and life insurance to bank accounts and property deeds, should be clearly cataloged and itemized.

Tweak Your Investment Allocation

When you enter retirement, your investment funds may need to sustain you for decades to come. Because of this, most financial advisors recommend that retirees still maintain at least a portion of their portfolios in equities. However, you're also entering a phase of your life where you won't have consistent income from a job. For this reason, you'll generally need to dial down the risk of your portfolio as you enter retirement. In many cases, you'll also want to shift from a primarily growth-oriented portfolio to one that generates income, through the addition of assets such as bonds, CDs or preferred stocks.

As getting your asset allocation right as you head into retirement is so important, you'll likely want to consult with a financial advisor to get a blend that matches your investment objectives and risk tolerance.

Consider Relocating or Downsizing

Even if you don't have a lot of money squirreled away in a retirement account, if you're like two-thirds of Americans, you likely have a huge asset right under your nose: your house. If you've paid off your

mortgage, or are even anywhere close, you likely have a large amount of equity in your home, making it a huge untapped asset.

This doesn't mean you should sell your house and live off the money since you'll still need a place to live. However, if you do have a large amount of equity in your home, you can make your retirement funds last longer by relocating or downsizing. If you sell your home and move to a cheaper area, your money will stretch further. If you stay in the same area but downsize your home, you'll have extra money to put in the bank and there will be ancillary benefits as well, such as smaller heating bills.

Analyze Your Healthcare Options

Once you reach age 65, you may qualify for Medicare. However, this is not your only option when it comes to insurance, and you may need supplemental insurance to cover additional costs. Whether you seek out private insurance or maintain a part-time job that still pays medical benefits, there are many options for insurance after you retire. If you're about to cross over into retirement, it's a great time to sit down with an insurance expert and review the entire range of options that may be available to you.

According to Fidelity, the average 65-year-old American couple can expect to pay $295,000 in medical expenses in retirement, and those out-ofpocket healthcare costs typically eat up 15% of the average retired couple's budget. Planning ahead before you retire can help ensure that you've got everything in place when you need it in retirement.

Develop a Debt Payoff Strategy

Debt is a killer, especially for those on a fixed income in retirement. If you've got outstanding debt, especially credit card debt, you'll likely want to work on paying that down as much as possible right before you retire. Once you've retired, you'll likely be on a relatively fixed income, which may be a combination

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of retirement plan withdrawals, pension payouts and Social Security benefits. When you're not drawing a regular paycheck, it can be harder to set aside money for debt repayment. And with credit card interest rates often in the high double-digits, you'll be running to stand still right when you should be enjoying the fruits of your labor.

So, before you cross over into retirement, work on developing a strategy to get rid of your high-interest debt, perhaps by putting in a few extra hours per week or getting a side gig. It will make living off a fixed income in retirement that much easier.

Plan Your Estate

As you enter retirement, you may very well have 30 or more years to enjoy your savings. However, at some point, your assets will pass to your heirs. Since the length of your retirement is unknown, it pays to get your estate in order right at the outset. Consult with your lawyer to draft a will, a trust or any other estate documents that you may need to make a smooth transfer to your heirs. You may find that it makes more sense from an estate planning perspective to begin making transfers while you are still alive, but this is a determination best made in consultation with a lawyer.

Join a Social Community

Once you retire, you're likely going to find that you have lots of extra time. Sure, your first few months may be spent traveling the world, visiting old friends or just getting out more, but over time, many retirees find that they have gaps in their daily schedule. Especially if you're the type of person that is restless or easily bored, you'll want to fill up that time with some type of meaningful activity. Whether it's joining a social community, your local

school board or an outdoor adventure club, keeping yourself busy is not only good for your mental health but your financial health as well. If you find yourself sitting at home with nothing to do, you might end up filling that void with online shopping or other wasteful spending. Idle time can be a threat to your retirement budget, so try to fill that time with more productive and on-budget activities.

Plan a Vacation

Finally, the fun stuff! Although you'll have to carefully budget to make it through retirement, that doesn't mean you can't have any fun. One of the things that retirees most look forward to is having more time to travel, so make sure to incorporate that into your budget. Once you've set aside enough funding, enjoy yourself!

If you plan suitable vacations that fit into your retirement budget, you should feel no guilt about getting out and enjoying yourself, whether that means a cruise around the world or simply some short road trips to spend more time with family. If you plan a vacation for soon after your retirement date, you'll be able to enjoy that well-earned trip while you are still young, and you'll get in the habit of setting aside an appropriate amount for vacations as often as you can afford.

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7 Major Health Effects of Expressing Gratitude in Relationships

Showing gratitude can help you sleep better, work better and even avoid heart disease. A psychologist explains the science.

Do you remember the last time you felt appreciated? Maybe your manager gave you a pat on the back for your work on a big project, or you received an unexpected text message from a friend who thanked you for giving them advice.

Whatever the situation, appreciation feels good and, as it turns out, it’s actually good for your health. In fact, expressing or receiving appreciation triggers an actual chemical reaction in the brain. Just like when a mother holds a baby or a loved one gives you a hug, a person who gives or receives a genuine thank you experiences the release of oxytocin. When oxytocin is released, it “gives us this warm feeling,” says Dr. Jolanta Burke, PhD, a psychologist at the Centre for Positive Psychology and Health.

As we approach the time of year when we celebrate thanks the most, Dr. Burke unpacks specific ways experiencing gratitude is healthy for our relationships and our own long-term wellness.

Gratitude brings you closer

Dr. Burke says if you want to feel closer to someone, thank them. Whether it’s your team at work, a neighbor, or even a stranger, telling someone you appreciate them builds connections and intimacy, Dr. Burke explains.

Gratitude fights off loneliness

Psychologists who led a 2014 study concluded that

the oxytocin we experience from gratitude “is associated with solidifying the glue that binds adults into meaningful and important relationships.”

Conversely, someone who doesn’t pause and make the effort to feel and express thanks is probably more likely to experience loneliness, Dr. Burke says. “Lack of gratitude could make others feel like they are not contributing much to your life. It can be particularly damaging if they express gratitude towards the things you do, and you don’t reciprocate.”

She adds that failing to notice the good others do, and acknowledging it, can ultimately lead to friends and loved ones drifting away.

Gratitude can help turn a bad situation around Gratitude can help shift the mood in the room. For example, when you’re arguing with your partner, you might be focused on what’s not working in your relationship and stewing over what you want to change about the other person, Dr. Burke says.

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OldEnoughforSex:

On the other hand, “You can flex your thinking toward looking at the situation and at your partner from a perspective of what is good about them, what you are grateful for.” From this, “You will send them a message that it is not all bad, that you can see the side that you love about them, this may relax them and turn your argument toward a reconciliatory direction,” Dr. Burke says.

This change in thinking can help remind you what you appreciate about your partner despite the disagreement. And focusing on gratitude in relationships can help prevent you from saying something you might later regret.

Gratitude can make life feel better

A handful of studies looked at people who engaged in a gratitude exercise, such as writing thank-you notes or taking the time to “count their blessings.” Those who made time to be thankful were found to have higher life satisfaction than those who didn’t engage in gratitude exercises.

Gratitude helps reduce anxiety

Spending time writing about things you’re thankful for might reduce signs of anxiety. In a 2014 study, people who were waiting for their mental health treatment to begin either completed gratitude writing prompts or underwent a placebo treatment. Those who practiced gratitude indicated reduced feelings of anxiety. The study suggests that showing gratitude can be an ongoing practice to help ease anxious feelings.

Gratitude helps reduce inflammation

A gratitude practice showed to reduce inflammation, a marker for heart disease and other illnesses. A 2021 study looked at middle-aged women, a demographic that tends to have higher levels of inflammation in response to stress. The women who took part in weekly gratitude writing prompts saw their markers for inflammation decrease. So one way to reduce

inflammation might be to carve out time to meditate each day about someone or something you’re grateful for.

Gratitude can improve sleep quality

A 2009 study compared women who ranked low on a scale measuring gratitude as a personality trait to women who ranked higher on the scale. The researchers found that women who were grateful slept better and were less likely to lie awake with worrying or negative thoughts at night. The more grateful women were also more likely to fall asleep to positive thoughts.

But… what if you’re not good at expressing gratitude in your relationships?

“It is challenging for people to express gratitude when they are not used to it,” Dr. Burke says. She offers suggestions for getting started communicating gratitude in relationships:

• Take time every day to think about what went well. “This way, you will start noticing good things around you, even in tricky situations and on bad days. Soon, it will become natural to see them.”

• Think about what your life would be like without certain people in it.

• If you express yourself better in writing, take a few minutes to write a postcard or type out a thank-you email. “Once you are ready, say it out loud,” Dr. Burke suggests. “Thank people for what they did and be as specific as you can.”

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Can’t Hear What Actors Are Saying on TV? It’s Not You, Probably

saying. That doesn’t always mean they are hard of hearing.

Muddled audio is the top reason why more people are watching video with on-screen text, according to a May survey commissioned by language-teaching app Preply. As more video-production studios embrace advanced audio formats for at-home content, not every device can keep up. Plenty of viewers can’t keep up, either.

“If you have people talking or shouting during the adventure scenes, the explode-y sounds are way higher than the dialogue,” said Melanie Brooks, a 43-year-old professional musician in Boston. Catching some of the lines in her favorite fantasy and adventure TV series is hard without captions, she added.

People tend to blame their flat-screen TVs for bad sound. The tube TVs of decades past had front-facing speakers that sent audio toward you, while new, super-thin models have speakers that are behind the screen or point downward, bouncing sound away from you. But your TV is just one of the culprits.

The rest of the problem lies within virtually every other step of the audio process, from a studio’s production choices to the device used to watch the content, said Richard Nevens, senior director of audio-hardware product management at Avid Technology, which specializes in audio- and video-editing tools.

Sound mixers combine all the sound in the video, including dialogue, music and background noises, into the audio we hear when we watch movies and shows.

The professionals have advanced audio capabilities at their disposal, but they might not translate clearly on devices that aren’t built to support state-of-the-art audio, Mr. Nevens said. For this reason, a movie designed to sound great in a giant theater might not sound the same on your smartphone or your TV.

Sound Mixing for Theaters

In recent years, directors have gravitated toward making their films and TV shows look and sound as though the events are larger than life, even if that means viewers might struggle to make out the dialogue, said David Bondelevitch, who teaches recording arts at the University of Colorado Denver and works as a sound designer on documentaries and other projects.

Director Christopher Nolan‘s films, such as “Tenet” and “Interstellar,” are known for their realistic imagery, but the dialogue can be hard to discern. When his new movies hit theaters, viewers often complain they can’t tell what actors are saying. But Mr. Nolan has defended his sound mixing, saying it allows him to be creative. His films have racked up numerous Academy Award sound nominations and wins, including best sound-editing and sound-mixing Oscars for “Dunkirk” in

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There are things you can do to address audio issues introduced by the production process

2018.

When dialogue is muddled, actors frequently rerecord their lines in a postproduction studio, but those tracks might not sound like they were recorded in the original scene, Mr. Bondelevitch said. There is only so much sound engineers can do to improve audio, he said.

Rather than mixing for mono (one-speaker) and stereo (two-speaker) audio which makes audio sound clearer on basic TVs sound engineers today often design for a higher number of speakers and then scale audio down for less-capable systems. Other higher-end setups include surround sound, which tends to have five speakers plus a subwoofer, and Dolby Atmos, which can work with even more speakers to match the action on screen. For example, the placement of the speakers can make it feel like a helicopter is buzzing around you.

Dolby’s immersive technology has become popular with studios that want to make at-home viewing more like going to a theater. That is great if you have a high -end sound setup, but not ideal if you have a basic TV or often watch video on your older phone or tablet.

“The creators are pushing the boundaries of the creative experience,” as well as the limits of people’s TVs and home speakers, said John Couling, senior vice president of entertainment at Dolby.

If you don’t have high-end TV speakers or an external-sound system, more immersive audio will be compressed into your existing speakers, said Mark Lanza, president of Motion Picture Sound Editors, an honorary society of sound-editing professionals.

“That’s never going to sound good,” he added.

How to Fix Your Audio

It can be hard to pinpoint whether sound issues are a result of production choices, poorly converted mixes or your own ears. Experimenting with speaker placement, your surroundings, new audio equipment and your device’s settings can help.

For all her knowledge of sound, Mrs. Brooks, the Boston musician, still relies on her Samsung TV’s builtin speakers. “It’s not great,” she said, noting that she might invest in new equipment.

That flat-screen TV with downward-facing speakers? Place it on a bare table or stand to give the sound something to bounce off, rather than hanging it on a wall. In a large room, try carpeted floors and thick curtains to absorb noise and contain the sound, Mr. Lanza said.

If you are planning to buy a soundbar, make sure it has at least three channels, or speakers, Mr. Bondelevitch said. The center channel will help dialogue sound clearer.

Some TVs come equipped with features that reduce loud noises or boost dialogue. Samsung TVs have an Amplify feature, LG TVs have Clear Voice II, and some Roku TVs have Dialogue Enhancement or Speech Clarity, depending on your setup. You can find these in the settings menu of your TV.

Playing around with settings could help you find one that works. Still, Mr. Lanza warns that there is no guarantee the tweaks will make “Tenet” sound crisp.

If you are watching TV with others and need an audio boost, you can pair certain earbuds to your TV to pipe sound straight to your ears. You can link two pairs of AirPods to Apple TVs if you are watching alone or with one other person. Google and Apple offer accessibility features that let you use your phone as a speaker. Place it by your TV and pop in earbuds to hear the audio through them.

When watching video alone on your mobile device, certain earbuds such as AirPods offer surround-sound level quality that can improve audio. If dialogue still sounds muffled, you might want to explore hearing aids. They are now available over the counter. And if all those options don’t work, you still have captions to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

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BOOMER HEALTHY EATING: Delightful Almond Biscotti

Almond Biscotti are a delight, but as with all things baked, best when they're fresh. That said, they're meant to be crunchy; if you ever thought that their consistency was somewhat akin to hardtack, you'd be right on the mark. Biscotti have their origins in the same vein as that staple of old time sailors. Initially, biscotti was a twice baked, fatless ration carried by the Roman Legions, meant to last for months if not years. The almond flavoring we use here harkens back to that original version. Nowadays, we often add a little fat to make them more toothsome, at the expense of longevity.

Make this recipe fresh at home and you'll never go back to store bought.

Ingredients:

• 2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

• 3/4 Cup local Honey or Agave Nectar

• 1/2 Cup slivered Almonds

• 2 whole Eggs

• 1 Egg White

• 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter

• 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

• 1 Vanilla Bean, (or 1/2 teaspoon pure extract)

• 1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract

• 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

Steps:

Preheat oven to 350° F and set a rack in the middle spot.

Line a heavy gauge baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Cut or process almonds to a rough chop.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the almonds until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Carefully slice the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the seeds into a smaller mixing bowl. Put the pod into your sugar bowl to add a lovely vanilla note; you can also save the pod for a recipe that calls for a liquid and soak it therein.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, almonds, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, blend the vanilla, almond extract, eggs, egg white, and honey or agave.

Add the wet mix to the dry and combine thoroughly. This will be a rather dry dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 15 seconds. Like a good pie dough, you just want to incorporate the ingredients and activate the gluten a bit; take care to not overwork the dough – 15 seconds kneading, max.

Divide the dough in two and roll each half out by hand to roughly 12″ length.

Place loaves on your prepped baking sheet and gently flatten them down to about 3/4″ thickness.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the loaves are firm and slightly springy to the touch.

Remove loaves from the oven, reduce oven heat to 325° F.

Place loaves onto a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Slide loaves onto a cutting board and slice each at a 45° angle and 1/2″ thick.

Place slices on an unlined baking sheet, then bake for 10 minutes.

Flip each biscotti over and bake another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, place biscotti on the wire rack, allow them to cool completely.

Store biscotti in an airtight glass container. They'll last quite a while, but they're best if eaten within a few days of baking.

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