DEEP SUMMARY - WA - The Art of Balance - Kaki Okumura

Here is a summary of the key points from the introduction:

  • Taking care of our health should be approached with empathy and intention, like we do with choosing a fulfilling career, rather than just willpower. It needs to be a sustainable lifestyle.

  • The author struggled with finding a healthy lifestyle that worked for her, oscillating between extremes. This changed when she moved to Japan.

  • The Japanese approach health as a balancing act, aligning it with personal values and intuition rather than restriction.

  • The book expands the notion of health beyond just diet and exercise to four pillars: Nourish, Move, Rest, Socialize. These affect both physical and mental health.

  • The pillars are interconnected - strengthening one benefits the others. It's about balance and harmony between them.

  • The Japanese concept of 'wa' captures this notion of harmony between different elements. The book offers advice on how to find balance between the four health pillars in a sustainable way.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Healthy eating should not be a source of stress. It should bring health, fulfillment, and joy.

  • We don't need to calorie count or follow complicated diets to eat healthfully. Simple habits make healthy eating intuitive.

  • The author discovered she lost weight one summer in Tokyo without trying because her daily habits had changed. She was eating delicious foods mindfully.

  • Lesson 1: Stick with simple. Keep healthy eating straightforward so it becomes an intuitive habit like brushing your teeth.

  • Lesson 2: Design for harahachi-bunme - the Japanese concept of eating until you are 80% full. This prevents overeating and allows you to enjoy food more consciously.

  • The essence is mindful eating of minimally processed, balanced meals in proper portion sizes. This creates a healthy relationship with food aligned with your values.

    Here is a summary:

The author returns to Tokyo from New York for the summer and has a traditional first meal back of sushi from her favorite local restaurant. However, due to jet lag and the large time difference, she is never actually hungry for this meal. Her grandmother notices this and gently advises her that it's okay not to eat everything and to listen to her body's signals.

This moment leads the author to reflect more broadly on the Japanese concept of "harahachi-bunme" - eating only until you are 80% full. This idea of moderation is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture and restaurants, in contrast to the large portion sizes prevalent in American eating culture. The author provides examples of how default portion sizes at chain restaurants like McDonald's and Starbucks are much smaller in Japan than the U.S. She also notes differences in grocery store package sizes.

The author argues that the Japanese success in health and longevity is linked to the cultural promotion of harahachi-bunme. By engineering an environment where moderation is the default, it becomes an unconscious habit requiring less willpower. She concludes that we can learn from Japan's example of nudging people towards reasonable portion sizes, rather than relying solely on individual discipline.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • The concept of harahachi-bunme (eating until you are 80% full) is a Japanese principle of moderation. You don't need to live in Japan to benefit from this idea.

  • Start by focusing on moderation at home, where you likely eat most of your meals.

  • Ichiju-sansai style meals (one soup, three sides) are a popular way of eating moderate, balanced meals in Japan.

  • There is a lot of fear around certain foods like refined carbs, but when consumed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet, they can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

  • Moderation is about looking at the overall diet, not demonizing specific foods. In Japan, white rice is enjoyed as part of ichiju-sansai meals, not as an excessive staple.

  • To practice moderation, use smaller single-serving dishware at home to naturally nudge yourself toward more moderate portion sizes. This creates a pause for mindfulness.

  • Moderation is about finding balance where you are neither overeating nor depriving yourself. The key is eating whole, nutrient-dense foods that provide satisfaction.

  • Seek variety in your diet and avoid relying too heavily on any one food item. Variety helps provide balanced nutrition for overall health.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Many modern packaged and processed foods are designed to be hyperpalatable and addictive, with lots of sugar and salt and little fiber. This makes it difficult for our bodies to accurately sense satiation and fullness.

  • While processed foods don't need to be completely avoided, a diet centered around whole, fresh foods allows our bodies to properly sense hunger and fullness cues.

  • We can balance indulgent foods with healthier sides, rather than seeing unhealthy foods as needing to be eliminated. For example, fried chicken in Japan is served with veggies and soup rather than fries.

  • Variety, especially in fruits and vegetables, is key for healthy eating and graceful aging. The Okinawan diet, heavy in a diverse range of veggies, contributes to their longevity.

  • Rather than eliminating foods we enjoy, thoughtful balance and variety helps make healthy eating sustainable. An ichiju-sansai meal structure (one soup, three sides) allows for both healthy foods and treats.

  • The key is diversity in fresh fruits, veggies, proteins and whole grains as the foundation, with room for treats in moderation. This creates a flexible, sustainable approach to healthy eating without strict restrictions.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Goya, a bitter Okinawan vegetable, is often promoted as a key reason for Okinawan longevity, but in reality Okinawans don't eat it much more than other vegetables.

  • Research shows Okinawans live long, healthy lives into old age, with lower rates of dementia and certain cancers compared to the general population.

  • Rather than any single superfood, studies show Okinawans eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and other foods - around 200 different foods regularly.

  • Okinawan dishes like chanpurū naturally incorporate many vegetables in one simple stir-fry. We can add variety by tossing extra veggies into our usual meals.

  • Adding diverse seasonings like furikake and shichimi to rice and noodles is another Okinawan tradition that increases variety.

  • Substituting a portion of flour for okara or nuts is an example of modifying recipes to increase nutrition.

  • In Japan, tofu complements rather than replaces meat in dishes like hamburgers. Variety can mean enhancing flavors, not necessarily eliminating foods.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Healthy eating does not have to mean spending hours cooking from scratch. Embracing convenience can make healthy eating more sustainable.

  • Japanese bento box culture shows how you can cook quick, healthy meals even when pressed for time. Focus is on nourishment - balance of carbs, protein, veggies - not perfectly cooked food.

  • Simple tools like the microwave and steamer lids allow you to cook veggies easily. Frozen veggies are convenient and reduce waste.

  • Rice cookers are ubiquitous in Japan because they make cooking rice simple - just rinse, add water, press button. Saves time and mental effort.

  • The focus should be less on cooking gracefully and more on finding convenient shortcuts that still deliver nutrition. This makes healthy eating sustainable rather than a burden.

  • Don't dismiss convenience out of misconception that healthy cooking requires elaborate effort. Look to tools and techniques that simplify nutrition for your lifestyle.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Food and cooking are highly valued in Japanese culture. Bakeries and pastry shops are known for their consistently high quality. Food is a big part of entertainment, like cooking competitions and TV shows about visiting cafes and restaurants.

  • Despite this food-focused culture, the Japanese are actually quite healthy. This is because they pursue quality over quantity when it comes to food.

  • The Japanese eat until they are 80% full, embracing the concept of hara hachi bu. This helps prevent overeating.

  • Smaller portions and artistic plating make meals feel more special. You appreciate the food more when you eat slowly.

  • Seasonality is valued - produce tastes better and is more nutritious when eaten in season. This variety helps create a balanced diet.

  • Japanese sweets are lower in sugar and fat compared to Western versions. Their sweets focus more on texture than sweetness.

  • The Japanese invest in high quality ingredients, tools and education around cooking. This ensures cooking is enjoyable versus a chore.

  • In summary, the Japanese pursue quality over quantity when it comes to food. This creates enjoyment around food while supporting a balanced, healthy diet.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Indulgent foods are often associated with being unhealthy in American culture, but this is not the case in Japan. Luxury foods in Japan tend to be high-quality, seasonal, and local ingredients like seafood, fruit, meat, and vegetables.

  • The Japanese idea of indulgence focuses more on quality than large portions or sugary/fatty foods. There is great care taken in presentation and freshness. This encourages mindful eating.

  • When you redefine indulgence as high quality and seasonal foods you love, healthy eating does not feel like deprivation. It becomes sustainable long-term.

  • The common narrative is that healthy eating means restriction, while indulgence means guilt. But these should not be mutually exclusive.

  • If we pursue quality in the food we eat, we can design a lifestyle where we enjoy the foods we love without worry about calories, while still being healthy. Combining an indulgent diet with a healthy one is possible.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Exercise is often presented as something we "should" do to avoid negative health consequences, which can make it feel like a chore rather than a joyful activity. This perspective causes many people to have a complicated relationship with exercise.

  • We should expand our idea of what "counts" as exercise beyond just vigorous activity like going to the gym. Movement like walking, dancing, yardwork, etc. has benefits too.

  • Exercise that matches our individual joys and values is more sustainable long-term than forcing ourselves to do activities we dislike just because they seem like what we "should" do.

  • Movement can be woven into our existing lifestyle instead of carving out separate time for it. For example, choosing to walk rather than drive for errands or transportation.

  • Japanese culture demonstrates that a lifestyle with high incidental movement like walking can provide sufficient activity for health, without an intense "workout culture."

  • The key is finding enjoyable movement that fits our lives, rather than forcing rigid ideas of exercise. This makes it a sustainable lifelong habit.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Makko Ho is a simple Japanese stretching routine that involves just 4 stretches, practiced for 3 minutes each morning and evening. It was developed by a man named Wataru Nagai to help regain mobility after suffering a stroke.

  • Makko Ho is based on the meridian system, which connects the body through energy pathways. Stretching is thought to stimulate the adrenal glands and naturally release cortisol to aid healing.

  • Even basic, short stretching routines done consistently can have great benefits. The author found Makko Ho helped motivate other healthy habits and increased flexibility and confidence.

  • In Japan, radio calisthenics (Rajio Taiso) is a popular 3-minute routine done by hundreds daily across the country. Stretching keeps muscles flexible and reduces injury risk.

  • Habitual, small actions like brushing teeth matter for health. Similarly, short stretching routines done daily are more valuable than occasional intense workouts. Consistency with small steps is key.

    Here are the key points from the lesson:

  • We often get too focused on exercise goals and lose sight of enjoying the process. The journey is just as important as the outcome.

  • Exercise we dislike is exercise we won't stick with long-term. Approach exercise with curiosity and joy to make it sustainable.

  • Growing up, many are told they must be "good" at exercise to participate. This breeds fear and intimidation. In Japan, all students participate in sports day, emphasizing fun over skill level.

  • Moving our bodies should be celebrated. Follow your intuition and do what brings you joy. The best exercise changes over time - vary your workouts to prevent boredom.

  • Jiyu-honpou means living by your own wishes, not what society prescribes. Joy is a powerful intuition that can nudge us towards what's best for our wellbeing.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • The author was quarantined for 2 weeks in a small bedroom during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite having space to exercise, the confined environment made it difficult to enjoy and stay motivated.

  • Our environment impacts our mindset and ability to exercise effectively. We should choose spaces conducive to focusing on movement and avoiding stress or distraction.

  • Being outdoors, especially in nature, is scientifically proven to boost mood, motivation, health, and wellbeing. This phenomenon is called "shinrin-yoku" or forest bathing in Japan.

  • Studies show even short periods of time in nature reduce stress hormones, improve sleep, immunity, blood pressure, memory, and more. Paying close attention to natural sights, sounds, and smells enhances the benefits.

  • Long-lived populations in "Blue Zones" tend to have nature-immersed lifestyles full of gardening and time outdoors. Nature is universally healing regardless of culture or era.

  • Though modern life involves more indoor time, we intrinsically benefit from natural environments. Seeking outdoor spaces and nature connection is key for mind-body health.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Motivation is crucial for adopting and maintaining an exercise routine. Being motivated by shame, guilt, or a negative view of one's body can be counterproductive.

  • Focusing too much on physique and appearance while exercising can cause stress and resentment. It's better to focus on how exercise makes you feel mentally and physically.

  • Instead of being motivated by what you dislike about your body, frame exercise as a way to empower yourself and live a fulfilling life.

  • Having an attitude of ganbaru - doing your best with optimism - can transform exercise from a chore into an engaging experience.

  • Approach exercise as a journey of discovery rather than a means to an end. Experiment, be open, and find what aligns with your lifestyle and values.

  • Exercise should be about feeling good, not punishing yourself or your body. Reframe it as a form of self-care rather than a fix for flaws.

The key is to let go of negative motivations and exercise in a way that is empowering both mentally and physically. Focus on the journey, not the outcome.

Here is a summary of the key points from the lesson:

  • Slowing down can be valuable, but many in competitive societies feel pressure to move fast and be constantly productive.

  • This pressure leads some to use stimulants like ADHD medication to enhance focus and get more done, even without a prescription.

  • The story of the man and the Buddhist master illustrates that working harder or longer doesn't necessarily lead to better outcomes. Sometimes less is more.

  • We tend to glorify being constantly busy, but busyness contributes to burnout. It's important to work at a sustainable pace.

  • Rather than forcing ourselves to our limits, we can look for small ways to create breathing room in our days and weeks. This allows us to approach life with more ease and joy.

  • Slowing down helps us appreciate the present moment, focus on what matters, and approach challenges thoughtfully rather than reactively. It leads to better work, relationships, and wellbeing.

The key is finding a healthy, sustainable pace that avoids burnout but still allows us to achieve our goals and live meaningfully. This looks different for everyone, but slowing down is a valuable practice.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • The man in the story was so focused on reaching transcendence as quickly as possible through meditation that he missed the point of the journey to get there.

  • We often want to achieve goals as fast as possible, but taking time and enjoying the process leads to better outcomes. Learning a language or instrument requires immersion and patience, not just solitary practice.

  • Competitive societies value busyness and moving fast, leading to exhaustion and burnout. Slowing down is an important counterbalance.

  • Traditional Japanese arts like tea ceremony and shojin-ryori cooking emphasize slowing down, being mindful, and finding joy in the process. They show the value of being fully present.

  • Entering a state of "flow" where you are absorbed in an activity can make you feel calm, energized and passionate. Choosing the right time-consuming activities brings joy.

  • "Hurry sickness" from constant rushing leads to anxiety, physical symptoms and resentment. Slowing down restores mental clarity.

  • Rest should allow the mind to move slower, not just occupy time. Non-digital activities are best for encouraging presence.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • It can be difficult to fully immerse ourselves and achieve a state of mindfulness, as we are often distracted by thoughts, temptations, and other things competing for our attention.

  • Trying to force ourselves into focus and concentration often backfires, leading to more frustration. This is known as the "paradox of control."

  • Instead of forcing focus, cultivating a sense of playfulness and curiosity can help us let go of anxiety and naturally draw us into an activity. Children can be good role models here.

  • We can apply this curious, playful mindset not just to work but also to relaxing activities when we are too anxious to fully enjoy them. Asking questions and noticing details helps shift our focus.

  • This attention to detail is related to the Japanese concept of kodawari. However, kodawari is not pure perfectionism, but rather a pursuit of excellence driven by curiosity.

  • The process involves experimentation, being open to possibilities, and paying close attention to the present moment rather than worrying about outcomes. Skilled artisans exemplify this spirit.

  • Overall, embracing curiosity over frustration and anxiety allows us to slow down, focus, and find enjoyment in the little things around us.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Taking time to do things properly allows us to become more thoughtful and notice small details, which can bring meaningful enjoyment. The process of making something can be just as rewarding as the end result.

  • Passion comes from slowing down, questioning, exploring, and experimenting. It is difficult to find passion when rushed or distracted. Mindfulness helps us slow down.

  • Mindfulness physically changes our brains and reduces anxiety and depression. It helps us become more resilient by accepting difficult emotions without judgment and taking action despite hardship.

  • Staying curious in challenges helps us avoid self-sabotage and feel energized. We can nurture focus and attention by leaning into curiosity.

  • Creating restful spaces is about more than cozy furnishings - it's about crafting an environment that promotes peace and calm. Consider how your surroundings impact your ability to slow down.

    Here are the key points for Lesson 13: Lean Into Spirituality:

  • When life feels overwhelming and we don't know where to start to slow down, tuning into spirituality can provide guidance and peace.

  • Spirituality does not have to mean religion or belief in a higher power. It can simply mean connecting to something larger than yourself.

  • Spending time in nature, meditating, journaling, and expressing gratitude are some accessible spiritual practices. They help shift perspective from daily stresses to something more meaningful.

  • Spirituality reminds us that there is more to life than accomplishment and productivity. It connects us to purpose and meaning.

  • Listening to your intuitive inner voice and finding activities that make you feel connected and at peace can help reveal your spiritual side.

  • Spirituality offers reassurance that even when things feel out of control, there is a bigger picture we are a part of. This provides comfort.

  • Try opening your mind to explore spirituality in small ways. Notice how these practices make you feel more centered and less overwhelmed by daily life.

The key is that spirituality does not require religion. It is about connecting to something larger than yourself that provides meaning and purpose. Exploring practices like nature, meditation, gratitude, intuition, and creativity can reveal your spiritual side and help slow down an overloaded mind.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Many Japanese people engage in spiritual practices like visiting shrines and ancestry worship, but do not self-identify as religious. Spirituality is seen as more casual and personal.

  • Praying and having faith can provide a sense of security and improve mental health, even if one does not follow organized religion. Studies show spirituality correlates with less depression/anxiety.

  • You don't need to be Buddhist or religious to create a spiritual space at home. Setting up a simple altar and taking time to pray, meditate or reflect can be calming and centering.

  • Spirituality encourages patience with uncertainty. Instead of stressing over what's beyond our control, spiritual practices help us become more tolerant and less anxious.

  • The author shares instructions for making warabi-mochi, a traditional Japanese sweet offered at altars. Simple rituals like this can make spirituality more tangible.

The key point is that spiritual practices can reduce stress and improve wellbeing, whether or not one identifies with organized religion. Simple, personal rituals create space for reflection and patience.

Here is a summary of the key points about the importance of social relationships for health and wellbeing:

  • Social relationships are a crucial but often overlooked pillar of health. Studies show the quality of our relationships with family, friends, and community is one of the strongest predictors of happiness, health, and longevity.

  • The Harvard Study of Adult Development found social connections were more important for wellbeing than wealth, fame, or hard work. Those with stronger relationships lived longer and were healthier.

  • Loneliness and isolation can be as harmful as obesity. A meta-analysis found it increases early mortality risk. Being social benefits physical as well as mental health.

  • Japan's elderly have high social engagement, which may contribute to longevity. Those involved in community groups, with family/friend contacts, working etc had lower dementia risk.

  • Close relationships give meaning and purpose. They provide emotional and practical support in times of stress. Humans have an innate need to belong.

  • To prioritize social health, make time for loved ones, join community groups, volunteer, and build friendships. Quality matters more than quantity of connections.

  • Social health should be valued as much as diet, exercise and sleep. It requires active effort but pays dividends for wellbeing across life. Our relationships sustain us.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Building meaningful relationships requires vulnerability and openness, which can be difficult for some people. The author describes their own childhood experience of being shy and withdrawn due to feeling judged for being overweight.

  • Loneliness is common, even as we get older and supposedly more socially skilled. Studies show increasing loneliness over time, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • We don't need to change ourselves to be more likable in order to make friends. Simple acts like greetings can help us be more sociable without altering our true selves.

  • The author shares the Japanese cultural practice of aisatsu (greetings) as an example of how small greetings can nurture sociability and closeness. A personal story illustrates the power of a simple greeting to make someone feel recognized.

  • Four key lessons are provided to help build sincere relationships: say hello and listen in, give gifts of time and thought, show up wholeheartedly, and speak kindly behind backs. Small daily acts of connection matter.

    Here is a summary of the key points in the essay:

  • Greetings like "ohayo" serve an important purpose in building relationships and community. They validate others, make them feel seen and cared for, and open the door to potential friendships.

  • The author shares an experience where saying hello to a girl in the dorm bathroom led to a lasting friendship. Small gestures can have a big impact.

  • Greeting others consistently makes them feel they matter and creates an inclusive, caring environment. The example is given of Japanese teachers greeting every student at the school gates daily.

  • Greetings open our hearts and minds to others, easing social pressures and allowing genuine curiosity about strangers.

  • For relationships to deepen, conversations must become meaningful through engaged, active listening. The Japanese concept of "aizuchi" shows the importance of responding to show you are listening.

  • Listening with your "ears" involves just hearing words, while listening with your "heart" seeks understanding. We should strive for the latter.

  • Being open to interactions with strangers plants seeds for relationships. They may not all bloom into friendships but have value.

  • At minimum, a greeting makes someone's day better. We lose nothing from listening, and possibly gain meaningful ties.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Meaningful relationships require being thoughtful and attentive to others' needs. We grow closer to people who understand us.

  • Being understood is not passive, but requires one person actively trying to understand the other through empathy.

  • The author learned this when she made the mistake of gifting food to a Japanese neighbor in Tupperware, not realizing it places pressure on them to return the favor.

  • Thoughtfulness means anticipating others' needs and meeting them without expectation of reciprocation. This Japanese concept is called omoiyari.

  • Practicing empathy and thoughtfulness for others increases our own happiness and wellbeing.

  • To build close relationships, lead with your heart to do good deeds for others, but let them be forgotten rather than expecting reciprocation. This exemplifies the Japanese concept of kokorozukai.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Nurturing new relationships requires proactive effort, even though strong relationships eventually feel effortless. We should make time for people who also want to spend time with us.

  • Sharing experiences is an effective way to nurture relationships. This could involve sharing meals, quality time together, or gifts that represent places traveled.

  • Across cultures, shared meals facilitate family interactions and support mental and physical health. Social eating increases happiness and satisfaction.

  • In Japan, gift-giving or "omiyage" shares experiences with others who couldn't be present. It evolved from religious journeys and now represents local goods.

  • Omiyage shows you were thinking of others while gone. It provides an opportunity to share stories and include others in your experiences, strengthening bonds.

  • Ultimately, sharing experiences makes others feel belonging and closeness. It communicates "I want you to be involved in my life." Simple gestures like gifts can nurture relationships.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • The Japanese value putting aside one's ego and contributing to the community over standing out as an individual. This was demonstrated when Japanese fans cleaned up the stadium after World Cup matches, win or lose.

  • Rather than seeking to be special, the Japanese are taught to be useful, collaborative, and reliable to others.

  • The author experienced the benefit of this cultural value after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Despite the chaos, people came together, shared resources, and supported each other. Crime did not surge as expected.

  • Similarly after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, people calmly waited in long lines for food and water instead of panicking.

  • The author believes the Japanese response reflects a culture that emphasizes community over self. By putting aside ego and self-interest, people supported each other through crises.

  • We can all benefit from quieting our ego at times and contributing to something larger than ourselves. It provides perspective and emotional freedom.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • A healthy life is not about perfectly following diet and exercise rules. It is about having the freedom and energy to explore life's possibilities.

  • Good health comes from balance. We should make room for both "healthy" and "unhealthy" habits. Extremes lead to burnout.

  • A wa approach to health is subtle and focuses on quality of life. It's about making small tweaks, like eating a bit less at dinner or taking a walk instead of driving.

  • With nourishment, wa means shifting focus from quantity to quality. Choosing herbs over cheese, or artisanal foods.

  • For movement, wa means choosing enjoyable activities over calories burned. Yoga instead of the treadmill, or a jog outside instead of inside.

  • With rest, wa means occasionally slowing down and finding joy in everyday tasks like cooking. Noticing details and allowing time to unwind.

  • Overall, wa health is holistic. Physical and mental wellbeing are connected. Listen to what brings you peace and contentment.

The key is balance, flexibility, and enhancing quality of life - not strict rules. Wa keeps us focused on living fully.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • The four pillars of health are nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and social connection. Small changes in these areas can have a big cumulative impact.

  • Japanese culture provides examples of integrating health into daily life, like making time to prepare nutritious meals.

  • Balance and moderation are important - enjoy the process of finding what works for you rather than seeing choices as right/wrong.

  • Physical activity should be varied and enjoyable. Even small amounts like taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a difference.

  • Mental health practices like mindfulness meditation have proven benefits for anxiety and depression. Slowing down and being present can improve overall wellbeing.

  • Social connection, from small gestures like smiling at someone to larger efforts like volunteering, enhances health and confidence.

  • Getting adequate sleep, free from distractions like phones/TVs, allows the body to recharge and supports both physical and mental health.

  • Overall, approaching health with empathy, balancing the pillars, and making sustainable changes tailored to your lifestyle can help you live a healthier, happier life. Small steps compound over time.

    Here is a summary of the requested research papers and sources:

The research on prehypertension found that those with prehypertension had increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with normal blood pressure. Psychosocial factors like depression and stress were associated with prehypertension.

Studies on visual cortex found top-down signals from frontal and parietal regions modulated bottom-up sensory responses, indicating interaction between the two pathways. Another study found inability to suppress distraction predicted lower visual working memory capacity.

Research on food environments showed cluttered, chaotic environments were linked with overconsumption, while mindset about environmental stressors mattered.

Studies on religion/spirituality found correlations with better mental health outcomes like less depression, more life satisfaction, and positive emotions like patience. Gratitude practices were also linked to wellbeing benefits.

Loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for mortality. Family and social relationships protect against dementia. Weak social ties can also have benefits. Altruism and giving to others is associated with health and happiness effects. Shared family meals correlated with better nutrition and mental health in youth.

Disasters like earthquakes in Japan saw increases in dementia, but also increased social capital and community cohesion. Lower Covid-19 mortality was linked with collectivist cultures.

Here is a summary of the key points about Watkins and grains:

  • Watkins is a bookshop and publisher founded in 1893 by John Watkins, inspired by Madame Blavatsky's desire for books on mysticism and the occult.

  • Watkins went on to publish many leading authors in spiritual literature and metaphysics, including Carl Jung, Rudolf Steiner, Alice Bailey and Chögyam Trungpa.

  • Today, Watkins Publishing continues to publish groundbreaking books on personal development, holistic wellbeing, and consciousness exploration.

  • The summary does not mention anything specifically about grains. The prompt seems to have accidentally included "and grains" at the end.

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