Here is all of my research and I hope you enjoy!
#1: Gratitude Can Be Selfish?!
The link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/03/opinion/sunday/the-selfish-side-of-gratitude.html?_r=0
It turns out gratitude can be ‘selfish’ in a way! After reading a New York Times article about “the selfish side of gratitude’ and having a discussion with my brother, I came to several conclusions. At one point, the article stated that keeping a gratitude journal (a journal that you can express your gratitude towards others, things, or situations) can be selfish; if one does not express that gratitude to others and keeps the feeling of being grateful to themselves and only expresses it within the journal. This point in the article could be true if you are simply doing it for yourself and not expressing your thankfulness to others. The whole article’s premise is that in general gratitude is selfish because one’s motivation is naturally selfish by using others to take ‘advantage’ to feel good about yourself. My argument back to this is that to positively affect others, you must start within yourself. If you are happy you create a chain link of positivity. For example, say your friend is feeling depressed. You are feeling happy because you practice gratitude and you are able to spread your happiness by complimenting her/he on what an amazing score they got on an exam. Immediately the person feels better and is able to spread happiness through someone else’s pain. The chain link can go on forever. Also, another point is that if you don’t love yourself, how can you love others?
My brother said being ‘selfish’ isn’t necessarily bad in this case. Being selfish means to put your feelings ahead of others. He argued that every action a human being makes is selfish. Parents want the feeling of happiness for giving their son/daughter a great education, so they pay the school tuition fee. This is just an example my brother gave, among many others. To conclude, my final thoughts are that feeling grateful by starting within yourself is a great thing. What do you think?
These paragraphs were edited by my Mom, Leah Newman and me.
#2: Gratitude Practice and Meaning
So what is gratitude? Gratitude is a state of mind that comes from when you acknowledge a good thing in your life that comes outside of yourself. It can also be when you take notice of the small pleasures. It doesn’t matter how you live, you can be grateful for anything whether it’s something you ate or good health. You can even be grateful for bad experiences as they may have taught you something. Gratitude is controlled, you decide when you want to ‘tune into’ it.
There are lots of benefits to gratitude! More than any other personality trait, gratitude is strongly connected to both mental health and life satisfaction.Grateful people feel more joy, love, and enthusiasm. They are also are ‘protected’ from negative emotions such as greed, jealousy, and bitterness. Experiencing and feeling gratitude helps decrease a lifetime risk of depression, anxiety, and helps improve self-issues. Gratitude definitely helps brighten your mood.
Gratitude also benefits the body. People who practice gratitude cope better with stress and it will help you recover from diseases at a faster rate. Gratitude will also improve your physical health; this includes lower blood pressure and a healthier immune system.
This article talked about my point from my last article, about the chain link of positivity. It also talked about how spreading gratitude can help strengthen bonds with others. It states that grateful people are rated by others to be more helpful, outgoing, optimistic, and trustworthy.
Gratitude is not an emotion, it is a virtue you can improve on. Think of gratitude as something you practice, like yoga or mindfulness. It starts by paying attention. You have to take note of all the great things in your life, and realize why they are so special to you. It also involves looking at painful or bad experiences and realizing they are instructive, so you can be grateful for them too. Experiencing this can block feelings of victimhood. Writing down your thoughts, or keeping a ‘gratitude journal’ is something else you can do- it can even just be a letter. Writing things down helps put them into context and helps you feel more organized. By writing, you can take a closer look at all the goodness in your life and think about what things you may have gained from an experience. Finally, you must express your gratitude. Sending a letter or just saying “thank you” is one of the best gifts you can give someone.
So what do I think about all of this? I think gratitude is an amazing virtue, that may sound too good to be true. After having a discussion with my dad, I don’t fully believe that gratitude can help fight disease and that it completely blocks negative emotions. I feel grateful, yet I still sometimes feel depressed. I do think feeling grateful is very powerful and can change you in a very positive way. Plus, it can also change others around you and make their lives a little bit happier. Overall, I think gratitude is an amazing virtue and I would like to practice it more.
#3: How Scent Affects the Body and Mind
After I read this article I realized how many amazing things scent can do for us. It can help improve sleep, stress, and more. While it is sad that we only have about five million scent receptors compared to the twenty million smell receptors dogs have, it still is a big part of emotions and physical and mental health.Smell cells in the nose connect with the limbic system; which is part of your brain and controls long-term memory, emotions, behavior, and sense of smell. A whiff of lavender releases positive hormones that make you feel happier, the smell of roses can lower blood pressure, and a tiny amount of eucalyptus helps you stay alert.
Smells can apparently affect the way you spend money and gamble! In a study based in Las Vegas in a casino, there was about a fifty percent rise in money gambled when a pleasing scent was sprayed around slot machines. Researchers working at the Chicago University noticed that eighty-four percent of customers found that the same exact pair of shoes were more appealing when displayed in a room with a pleasant aroma, rather than no smell at all. They also valued the shoes to be worth eleven dollars more.
Research conducted at the Sleep Disorders Center of the University of Heidelberg showed that pleasant scents also have a positive effect in dreams. Men and women were exposed to either the scent of flowers, hydrogen sulphide, or no smell at all. The people who smelt the scent of flowers had more pleasant dreams than those who had no smell at all. Those who smelt the sulphur scent had the most negative dreams.
Many scents can help insomnia and stress, such as lavender, vanilla, coffee, and roses. “There is now scientific evidence to suggest that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders,” say the researchers from Maryland University. Coffee can have a calming effect, as well as vanilla. The scent of rose reduces your breathing rate and lowers blood pressure.
These are only a few topics the article talked about, but it also mentioned how smell affects concentration, memory, and love.
#5: Smell and Memory
This article talked about scent and memory. A smell can bring a rush of memories, change people’s moods, and affect how they work. According to Wikipedia, “The olfactory bulb (bulbus olfactorius) is a neural structure of the vertebrate forebrain involved in olfaction, or the sense of smell.” In the article, it stated that the olfactory bulb has direct contact to the amygdala, which processes emotion, and also the hippocampus, which controls making sense of things and natural instincts. When you smell a new scent your brain automatically links it to a feeling, a person, object, experience, or an event. Your brain automatically forges a scent with a memory. The next time you smell the same scent, the link is already there, ready to set a mood or memory. The article gave the example of how you may smell chlorine and link it to summers at a pool, or flowers that remind you of a funeral.
Because lots of new scents appear when we are children, lots of scents remind you of your childhood. We actually make connections with smells before we are even born! While in the womb, infants may be exposed to cigarette smoke, alcohol, or garlic. To them the smells that might upset other babies seem normal or maybe even comforting.
I think this is all really fascinating and I’m sure to add lots of this information in my speech. Is memory the only reason we enjoy scents so much? I don’t know, but I think this article has some very interesting facts in it. I never knew scent and memory had so much to do with each other!
This was one of the first articles I looked at and one of the only articles about hydrosols themselves.
Hydrosols are diluted, watery essential oils turned into a fragrant water. Apparently, you can also use hydrosols for drinking. The author’s point was since hydrosols are free from any additives, why can’t you drink it? She said: “It does not make sense to drink bottled or filtered water and then add chemicals to it – the same is true for hydrosols.” I don’t agree with this point, because for example if I drank my star anise hydrosol my throat would sting and burn (because of how strong it is), and consuming it would not be healthy. The rest of the article didn’t make sense and got me frustrated that this is probably the ONLY article on hydrosols and you are speaking nonsense?!?! I do think that the point of drinking hydrosols is very interesting, but again I don’t think it would be healthy in any way.
This article also talked about hydrosols compared to essential oils. Even though hydrosols are very diluted, they can still have a strong scent. I think this is a very good point, but of course, they wouldn’t come out as strong as an essential oil.
I found this research article quite odd, and the author a bit cooky. Overall, the article made some good points, but it was frustrating especially since finding an article about hydrosols is so rare.