The Urban Monk Show – Tech Cleanse

Show Summary: Are we too addicted to our tech? The answer is “yes and no”. Dr Gloria Mark is a professor at UCI and her studies show that people decompress with the use of social media. I didn’t expect that. Email on the other hand? Super stress inducing. I decided to run a little experiment. […]

The Urban Monk Show – Tech Cleanse is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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Do This in Bed to Have More Energy and Lose More Weight!

Probably one of the most common questions I get at seminars, workshops, and on my website, is this:

Dr. Jonny, how can I get more energy?

People are wired and tired, fatigued, running on empty, and dragging through their days. They constantly ask me if there’s something they can take, something they can eat, something they can do that will give them more of what they are clearly, sadly, lacking: energy.

With all the crappy, stupid infomercials running non-stop on late night television promising instant energy in a bottle, you might be surprised to learn the real reason for this widespread fatigue and lack of energy isn’t a deficiency of “5-Hour Energy” drinks.

The real reason for the “no energy” epidemic is much simpler…

It’s a lack of sleep.

Now listen. This is no small point. If you want to master your metabolism, you need to master your hormones, and sleep is one of the most important places that hormone balancing occurs. Human growth hormone is released during deep sleep. Important biochemicals are manufactured and replaced during sleep. The powerful antioxidant, anti-cancer compound melatonin is produced during sleep.

But for all this to happen, you need to sleep better, and you need to sleep longer.

The body goes through five stages of sleep—one of which is the all-important stage known as REM, which stands for rapid eye movement. (It’s during REM sleep that all the toy soldiers come out to play, and the real, reparative work of sleep gets done.)

The body cycles through these five stages several times a night, and important metabolic work happens during this time. If sleep is too short, interrupted, or not restful, the cycle gets broken up and your metabolism suffers. Sleep influences weight, appetite, stress, libido, and mood. There’s almost nothing you could do that’s more important to your overall well-being and metabolic health than getting a really good night’s sleep, every single night.

SO HERE ARE THREE TIPS FOR HOW TO DO IT.

1. Set the temperature at 68 degrees.

Most of us sleep in rooms that are too warm, which is neither healthy nor natural. The body’s temperature naturally drops during sleep. (That’s why in movies and television you always see people cover up a friend who’s just fallen asleep.) The body prefers this lower temperature during sleep, and if the room is too hot, you have to “work”to keep the equilibrium, and that interferes with good sleep. So keep the room comfortably cool—68 is perfect.

2. No media. None.

Take a complete media break for ½hour before hitting the sack. No kidding. This means no television, no email, and no computer for a full half-hour before bedtime. Remember, this is the transition time during which you prepare the body for the relaxation and slumber to come. You do NOT need the television to fall asleep. The last thing your subconscious mind needs to hear as it drifts off into sleep is the latest news on the Kardashians.

3. Keep it dark.

Studies show that even the slightest light in the room can measurably interfere [...]

Do This in Bed to Have More Energy and Lose More Weight! is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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Can Your Smartphone Tell You You’re Depressed?

You can track everything on your phone – your diet, your car’s miles per gallon, your spending habits – but now you soon might be able to track your happiness, or lack of.

Researchers at Northwestern University used an app to track cell phone usage and found out the more a person uses their cell phone, the more depressed they likely are.

Cell phone usage and depression have been linked in past studies. Back in 2012, the University of Gothenburg in Sweden conducted a study of over 4,000 people between the ages of 20-24 and found heavy cell phone usage connected with not only depression, but stress and sleep disorders.

The remarkable part of this study is how researchers are using the natural capabilities on a smartphone to silently and accurately track a user’s cell phone usage. The study assumes participants are playing games and surfing the Web on their phone and are not communicating to others on the phone.

Based on the 28 individuals studied, the average daily cell phone usage for the depressed participants was at about 68 minutes and for the non-depressed participants, about 17 minutes.

What’s interesting is the study tracked a user’s GPS location to figure out where he or she was while using their cell phone. Generally people who are less depressed go outside and participate in social activities more.

“When people are depressed, they tend to withdraw and don’t have the motivation or energy to go out and do things,” said senior author David Mohr, director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement.

The researchers claim they could diagnose depression with 87 percent accuracy. This app could be potentially installed on someone’s phone who may have experienced a trauma and could be used to identify depression at its onset.

Dr. Ben Michaelis, PhD, a clinical psychologist who recently released a new book entitled, Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Be Happy, believes this could be a groundbreaking study to helping diagnose depression.

“Although we are certainly not at the place yet where we can use this kind of motion sensitive data to make firm diagnoses, we can be using it as a ‘red flag,’ to suggest that something is wrong,” Michaelis said. “I believe that there will be many other new uses of this technology to help people with affective illnesses like depression to lead happier and healthier lives.“

However, one potential drawback is convincing the patient to opt into this fairly invasive monitoring.

If you installed this app into everyone’s phone when they first purchased it then it might be of more use, but the information the app would need to diagnose anything could feel invasive to the average cell phone user.

The smartphone data was said to be more accurate than asking people about their mood on a scale from 1 to 10. Turns out, most of the questions are unreliable as a person might lie, but cell phone data wouldn’t lie.

The takeaway from both of these studies [...]

Can Your Smartphone Tell You You’re Depressed? is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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Can Your Smartphone Tell You You’re Depressed?

You can track everything on your phone – your diet, your car’s miles per gallon, your spending habits – but now you soon might be able to track your happiness, or lack of.

Researchers at Northwestern University used an app to track cell phone usage and found out the more a person uses their cell phone, the more depressed they likely are.

Cell phone usage and depression have been linked in past studies. Back in 2012, the University of Gothenburg in Sweden conducted a study of over 4,000 people between the ages of 20-24 and found heavy cell phone usage connected with not only depression, but stress and sleep disorders.

The remarkable part of this study is how researchers are using the natural capabilities on a smartphone to silently and accurately track a user’s cell phone usage. The study assumes participants are playing games and surfing the Web on their phone and are not communicating to others on the phone.

Based on the 28 individuals studied, the average daily cell phone usage for the depressed participants was at about 68 minutes and for the non-depressed participants, about 17 minutes.

What’s interesting is the study tracked a user’s GPS location to figure out where he or she was while using their cell phone. Generally people who are less depressed go outside and participate in social activities more.

“When people are depressed, they tend to withdraw and don’t have the motivation or energy to go out and do things,” said senior author David Mohr, director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement.

The researchers claim they could diagnose depression with 87 percent accuracy. This app could be potentially installed on someone’s phone who may have experienced a trauma and could be used to identify depression at its onset.

Dr. Ben Michaelis, PhD, a clinical psychologist who recently released a new book entitled, Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Be Happy, believes this could be a groundbreaking study to helping diagnose depression.

“Although we are certainly not at the place yet where we can use this kind of motion sensitive data to make firm diagnoses, we can be using it as a ‘red flag,’ to suggest that something is wrong,” Michaelis said. “I believe that there will be many other new uses of this technology to help people with affective illnesses like depression to lead happier and healthier lives.“

However, one potential drawback is convincing the patient to opt into this fairly invasive monitoring.

If you installed this app into everyone’s phone when they first purchased it then it might be of more use, but the information the app would need to diagnose anything could feel invasive to the average cell phone user.

The smartphone data was said to be more accurate than asking people about their mood on a scale from 1 to 10. Turns out, most of the questions are unreliable as a person might lie, but cell phone data wouldn’t lie.

The takeaway from both of these studies [...]

Can Your Smartphone Tell You You’re Depressed? is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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The Language of Technology: Is Textese Changing Our Culture?

The most widely used word in 2014 was actually a symbol ❤, according to the Global Language Monitor’s Annual Survey of Global English. This represents the first time in the survey’s 15-year history that a symbol beat out an actual word for top honors. The year before it was the number 404, as in “not found” or “clueless.”

Textese – the word commonly referred to when describing the abbreviated and contextually simplified language (think OMG or PDA) made popular by the rise in cell phones and instant messaging is rapidly making its way into the lexicon of mainstream cultural use. Technological advances in cell phone communication and the now firmly embedded use of social media in our culture have lent (some would argue manufactured) new urgency for the need to communicate quickly and easily without the fusty-dusty time constraints of punctuation and conventional spelling. This is not however, without controversy. If it is a given that technology has forever changed the course of our shifting cultural and communication landscape as well as the speed at which it is traveled (the hashtag symbol # was the second most widely used “word” in case you’re wondering), what is somewhat less clear is if the associated lexicon is itself changing the culture.

Some say yes and not for the better. 

And if language, as a great many scholars through the ages have asserted, is a reflection of the culture and character of the people who speak it, what might words like LOL and TMI imply about the current mindset of Western culture and the direction in which it is headed? Or, as a more extreme example, what if the recent coinage of a word like ghosting (the act of ending a relationship by not responding to calls or texts or emails and essentially cutting off all electronic contact without any explanation) is both a reflection of how technology has influenced our behavior and moreover how the increasingly mainstream use of the word may accordingly increase the prevalence of the behavior itself?  

Bemoaning the death of proper English language usage is nothing new. It’s the intellectual’s version of that old canard, “When I was a kid I had to walk 10 miles to school, uphill in both directions!” It’s the “Get off my lawn!” of the less linguistically flexible and open-minded among us who often have a fundamental aversion to any facet of change, language or otherwise. But hold on, what if there is evidence that language – both what it includes and variously excludes – does in fact have a shading effect on the disposition of its speaker and his or her worldview? 

Made popular in the 1940s, Benjamin Whorf’s theory of language relativity, in its extreme, concluded that language not only dictates the behavior of a culture, but – as with various Native American tribes – can limit or prohibit a culture’s ability to understand even basic concepts such as the flow of time or identifying simple objects or actions such as falling. His theory rested [...]

The Language of Technology: Is Textese Changing Our Culture? is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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Why You Need More Sleep And How To Get It

Our modern way of life has changed the way we sleep. And though it’s hard to say it’s strictly for the worse, most of it still is. 

Before the Industrial Revolution, when most people in the world lived in the country, humans would usually sleep in two parts, starting shortly after dark, waking around 10 or 11 p.m. to read, talk, eat, drink or have sex for an hour or two, then go back to bed for the night. Those days, eh, or rather nights are gone. 

The light, noise, pace and demands of the 20th and 21st centuries have changed that. And it is taking a toll on our lives. Numerous sleep studies have found that sleep loss, regardless of the cause, is literally killing us. 

Here’s how lack of sleep makes us less healthy:

Sleep loss leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, anxiety and it weakens your immune system. 

People who don’t get enough sleep are 30 percent more likely to be obese while also having more cortisol in the bloodstream, a hormone that breaks down skin collagen and leads to wrinkles. At the same time, it decreases the amount of human growth hormone, which makes it harder for your body to repair itself. 

Sleep loss has immediate and long-term effects on the brain. Besides being much more likely to cause depression and anxiety, it impairs memory and the ability to concentrate, reason or solve problems. People who say they’ve gotten used to getting six hours of sleep a night routinely do worse on mental alertness and performance tests than people who regularly get eight hours of sleep. 

If that isn’t enough, the sleep-deprived have lower sex drive and lower fertility rates. 

Convinced yet? OK, good. But now what? Don’t worry, there are things we can all do to help improve our sleep. Let’s start with five things we may be doing to undermine our sleep and how to fix it. 

1. We’re watching too much TV. Yes, there are plenty of good shows on, but all that programming is giving us a false sense of urgency about seeing it all. We stay up late to finish watching episodes, movies, events or news and it’s costing us. 

The fix: Set and maintain bedtimes. It worked when you were a kid and it will work now. Also, most cable companies now provide digital video recorders. Use them!

2. We’re giving ourselves iPad insomnia. Back in 2012, the American Medical Association issued a warning that even low levels of the blue light emanating from our phones, tablets, e-readers, computer and TV screens are picked up by our eyes and disrupt melatonin production, which is a naturally occurring hormone we make in the evening or darker settings that helps us sleep. If we can’t get away from them at night, it can become harder and harder for us to sleep. 

The fix: Turn them off. Leave work at work and leave your electronic devices out of the bedroom. However, some e-book manufacturers are working on ways to eliminate the blue light, so [...]

Why You Need More Sleep And How To Get It is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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Diary of a Recovering Tech Addict – How I Learned To Love Life Over Likes

When I look around a roomful of friends or strangers these days, I feel alienated. I often witness a sea of people that seem to have more personal relationships with their devices than other human beings.

This sentiment has been echoed a lot over the past few years: we’re losing touch with reality, addicted to technology, narcissistic, etc. It’s often presented either in a self-deprecating joking manner, or as a cynical view of human nature and conscious decisions.

What I came to find over the past few years was something different – the addiction to our technology and instant gratification is actually an addiction to dopamine. The problem is one of neurochemistry and the way our brains are becoming rewired with the way we use our devices.

Essentially, through evolution, our brains have learned to crave and seek new information. Information about our present environment, food, etc. – anything that would have given us an advantage for survival in the hunter/gatherer days.

In modern times, our brain structure is still essentially the same, but now we’re exposed to an endless amount of information: 24 hours of news, articles, videos, texts, Snapchats, notifications, etc. Our brains naturally are wired to consume and consume and consume. We feel compelled to ingest every piece of information. The result from each new piece of information is a rush of dopamine, the chemical in the brain that drives its reward system. The brain is rewarding our information-consuming behavior because it thinks it will assist with survival.

I came across this TED Talk: The Great Porn Experiment, which helped get me started on researching. The talk is directly related to porn, and discusses how a dopamine addiction can arise in people that regularly view it; it is the most extreme manifestation of dopamine addiction. A seemingly real sexual interaction is the biggest reward there is for a human, and comes along with a huge dopamine rush from the brain. The problem is, the ease of access of this by opening a new tab, switching to a new site, etc. has caused what the speaker (Gary Wilson) calls an “arousal addiction,” which is often mistaken for symptoms of ADHD and similar conditions. You are short-circuiting your brain’s natural reward system by rewarding yourself constantly at your own leisure and tricking your brain.

This dopamine should be reserved as a reward for things we value most highly in a fulfilling life: progress toward short and long-term goals, positive social interactions, awareness of internal and external environments. Instead, this dopamine is being released each time we check information on our phones, something that really isn’t doing much to further our lives.

What‘s damaged in the process is the ability to delay gratification, which is a process that entails actively working, focusing on each step, sustaining interest and having a reward manifest in the end. These little rushes of pleasure are distracting us from focusing on the big ones. Not completely in most cases, but to an extent certainly.

In his book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is [...]

Diary of a Recovering Tech Addict – How I Learned To Love Life Over Likes is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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Diary of a Recovering Tech Addict – How I Learned To Love Life Over Likes

When I look around a roomful of friends or strangers these days, I feel alienated. I often witness a sea of people that seem to have more personal relationships with their devices than other human beings.

This sentiment has been echoed a lot over the past few years: we’re losing touch with reality, addicted to technology, narcissistic, etc. It’s often presented either in a self-deprecating joking manner, or as a cynical view of human nature and conscious decisions.

What I came to find over the past few years was something different – the addiction to our technology and instant gratification is actually an addiction to dopamine. The problem is one of neurochemistry and the way our brains are becoming rewired with the way we use our devices.

Essentially, through evolution, our brains have learned to crave and seek new information. Information about our present environment, food, etc. – anything that would have given us an advantage for survival in the hunter/gatherer days.

In modern times, our brain structure is still essentially the same, but now we’re exposed to an endless amount of information: 24 hours of news, articles, videos, texts, Snapchats, notifications, etc. Our brains naturally are wired to consume and consume and consume. We feel compelled to ingest every piece of information. The result from each new piece of information is a rush of dopamine, the chemical in the brain that drives its reward system. The brain is rewarding our information-consuming behavior because it thinks it will assist with survival.

I came across this TED Talk: The Great Porn Experiment, which helped get me started on researching. The talk is directly related to porn, and discusses how a dopamine addiction can arise in people that regularly view it; it is the most extreme manifestation of dopamine addiction. A seemingly real sexual interaction is the biggest reward there is for a human, and comes along with a huge dopamine rush from the brain. The problem is, the ease of access of this by opening a new tab, switching to a new site, etc. has caused what the speaker (Gary Wilson) calls an “arousal addiction,” which is often mistaken for symptoms of ADHD and similar conditions. You are short-circuiting your brain’s natural reward system by rewarding yourself constantly at your own leisure and tricking your brain.

This dopamine should be reserved as a reward for things we value most highly in a fulfilling life: progress toward short and long-term goals, positive social interactions, awareness of internal and external environments. Instead, this dopamine is being released each time we check information on our phones, something that really isn’t doing much to further our lives.

What‘s damaged in the process is the ability to delay gratification, which is a process that entails actively working, focusing on each step, sustaining interest and having a reward manifest in the end. These little rushes of pleasure are distracting us from focusing on the big ones. Not completely in most cases, but to an extent certainly.

In his book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is [...]

Diary of a Recovering Tech Addict – How I Learned To Love Life Over Likes is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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Artificial Intelligence – Are the Machines Taking Over?

Open the pod bay doors, please, Hal.

Even if you haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, you have likely heard that famous line uttered at one point or another. Released nearly 50 years ago, Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, specifically that scene, remains the symbolic gold standard by which modern popular culture marvels with a mixture of fear and awe at the existence of artificial intelligence (AI) and the implications of our own demise associated with its advancement.

AI is the science and engineering of machines that act intelligently. Advancements in the field have expanded to include what would likely have seemed like science fiction 10 years ago, but also include the more mundane applications we use in daily life that most of us never even consider. Things like the spam filter in our email programs or technology the doctor uses to look up substitute medications when the ones we normally use are out of stock. Applications that are largely invisible, but we’d nonetheless immediately miss in their absence.

Even the eye-widening awe we experience reading the latest AI breakthrough involving the replacement of a patient’s lost leg with an artificial one – one that, just as with an original limb, is controlled by the owner’s thoughts – engenders only the most positive of predispositions to this rapidly advancing field. Indeed, the happiness and improvement to the quality of life of even one individual who benefits from this kind of breakthrough far exceeds our ability to measure.

But hold on. What about AI’s current capacity to replace things less urgent than our arms and legs? I’m referring to any number of human white collar jobs previously not considered at risk to the miracle of automation – all the way from attorneys to doctors and financial analysts to journalists. “Journalists? This is starting to get a little uncomfortable,” says yours truly to no one in particular. “This is moving a little fast, don’cha think!?”

“Faster than you can say ‘built-in obsolescence,’” my inner insecurity replies.

“Oh! Obsolete!” I say aloud, joggling the digital tile lights along the edge of my phone so as to get a triple word score and sink my Words with Friends opponent as I simultaneously skim the day’s headlines in search of ideas to support my story.

Suddenly, as if to squelch my attempt to deflect my own fear of professional demise with humor, I spot a headline sure to accelerate my stress levels about a controversial announcement that Italian neurosurgeon, Sergio Canavero, will have the surgical and technological capability to perform the world’s first head transplant by 2017.

Wait  – WHAT?!??! OK, technically speaking, Canavero’s proposed procedure does not fall within the boundaries of the field of artificial intelligence, but the collective recoil felt by most is related to the notion that while arms and legs and eyes and teeth, etc. are all replaceable, ethical lines end at anything involving the brain, which is where artificial intelligence’s greatest advances as well as its greatest perceived threat begins.

Enter Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering and author of the [...]

Artificial Intelligence – Are the Machines Taking Over? is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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REVIEW: “Welcome to the Machine” Provokes Thought About the Future of Technology

Welcome to the Machine

Running time: 86 minutes

Theme: Technology

Director: Avi Zev Weider

Availability: VHX

Price: Rent for $6.99 or buy for $14.99

Fun Fact: It was backed on Kickstarter.

In this documentary, filmmaker Avi Zev Weider explores the debate of the impact that rapid expansion of technology has and will have. Filmed in the United States in 2012, the movie follows a few storylines of people with a close relationship to technology: a blind man experimenting with new sight technology, army officers in the Unmanned Aviation Vehicle (“drone”) department and Weider himself, whose children were born prematurely and were forced to rely on life support machines for survival.

Intertwined with these stories is the discussion over the fundamental issue of the role of technology for humans as a species. The extreme views of Ted Kaczynski, also known as “The Unabomber,” are presented throughout the movie as snippets from his Manifesto; they serve as a platform of thought-provoking ideas that are directly and indirectly touched upon by the experts interviewed. This list includes a professor of technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a philosophy professor from the University of Michigan (who directly corresponds with Kaczynski through letters), the founding editor of Wired Magazine and a professor of computer science at Yale who was a victim of one of Kaczynski’s mail bombs.

Among the experts interviewed is renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil, known for his predictions, most notably that of technological singularity – the point where artificial intelligence exceeds human capacity and control – occurring by 2045. Kurzweil supports such rapid progress and a future in which we’re able to live past biological constraints. His views are presented in stark contrast to Kaczynski’s.

Kaczynski advocated for a society modeled after the hunter/gatherer days – claiming the Industrial Revolution sparked the creation of a system that fundamentally does not prioritize the best interests of the people. Weider’s mail correspondence with him (shown in the film) is an insightful addition to the discussion.

The film succeeds in presenting both sides of the issue without an extreme bias toward one direction. It causes the viewer to re-examine his or her own ideas, or establish some in the first place. It approaches the topic from multiple angles, including philosophical, social and religious. Ultimately, it provokes some questions that aren’t immediately easy to answer. Is technology neutral as a means to an end? If not, are potential negative consequences of technology justified by the positive effects of things like being able to maximize human potential and expression? Are we blindly following technologists who are fueling an “engine of novelty,” but may not be in control of the vehicle? What’s the appropriate level of technology that we and the planet can tolerate?

These questions might be a little scary to consider, but are without a doubt important ones to address going forward. The film is a good introduction to anyone new to the debate, but doesn’t dive too deep into any particular area. If the topic interests you, expect to do some research for more information after [...]

REVIEW: “Welcome to the Machine” Provokes Thought About the Future of Technology is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

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