Source: By Matt Welsh, Creator of Spiritual Media Blog - "It’s a Wonderful Life continues to touch people’s hearts year after year with its message of love. Many movie critics ripped it apart when it was released. But, it is arguably the most successful movie ever made. The director of the film, Frank Capra, believed in the inherent goodness of life and humanity. This was not easy considering his career as a filmmaker took place during the Depression and World War II. His belief that people are basically good inspires hope.
Another valuable message of his film is the importance of the love between family and friends, both seen and unseen. During George Bailey’s (James Stewart) dark night of the soul, he looks over a bridge and contemplates suicide. At that moment a guardian angel in training, Clarence, enters into his life. This reminds us that in our darkest hour, the power of love — even from sources unknown to us — can bring us out of our moments of despair."
I found this article from back in March in the LA Times - "Adding to the daily drumbeat of dire pronouncements is almost too easy these days. The public yearns for stories that inspire, and they're out there if journalists want to look.
When Brian Williams asked at the end of the "NBC Nightly News" three weeks ago for viewers to send along good news, he couldn't have imagined the thousands of e-mails that would pour into the network overnight.
The resulting stories on "acts of kindness in this cruel economy" have made NBC the most visible of many media outlets pushing to give audiences some good news in the midst of bad times.
The trend-bucking features might have the public wondering: What took so long?
I'd say a bit of the traditional good news deficit comes from the misguided conviction among some news people that happy endings and serious journalism don't mix. But I'd lay some of the blame with audiences too. There's more good news out there than some of you have recognized. Let's start with one of the most basic tenets of journalism -- that "news" is what we don't expect. We pull out our notepads for the unexpected: Man bites dog. Plane cartwheels off runway. Jon Stewart goes Mike Wallace on interview subject.
To that old rule most big outlets apply a corollary: A complete paper or newscast must include a "mix," of breaking news and features, of photos and words, covering subjects both trifling and transcendent.
Most networks, cable outlets and big newspapers try to cover the entire spectrum, but their hearts really soar for the weighty, heavy stuff. That means lots of focus on dark stories, regardless of whether they hint at a resolution, or even much hope. Prize-winning investigative reporter Frank Greve of McClatchy newspapers talked about the queasy reaction he got from some colleagues a couple years ago when he announced he would start a "good news" beat.
"Some of my old friends, when I told them what I was doing, reacted as if I'd told them I had cancer," Greve told the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for professional journalists. "Most, but not all" of those reporters encouraged Greve when they saw that he still reported and wrote with rigor. Greve has noted how delayed licensing of drivers has driven down the teenage accident rate. He's written about how many old people remain sexually active. He's raised doubts about whether we should really need to worry about pharmaceutical contamination in drinking water.
That list of topics might seem like a hodgepodge, but there's a common theme. Bad news grows out of conflict or loss. Good news often means just following the conflict through to a resolution. Read more here...
Wiki - "The name Delphois comes from the same root as δελφύς delphus, "womb" and may indicate archaic veneration of Gaia, Grandmother Earth, and the Earth Goddess at the site. Apollo is connected with the site by his epithet Δελφίνιος Delphinios, "the Delphinian." The epithet is connected with dolphins (Greek δελφίς,-ῖνος) in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (line 400), recounting the legend of how Apollo first came to Delphi in the shape of a dolphin, carrying Cretan priests on his back. The Homeric name of the oracle is Pytho (Πυθώ).
The Delphi site is located in lower central Greece, on multiple plateau/terraces along the slope of Mount Parnassus, and includes the Sanctuary of Apollo, the site of the ancient Oracle. This semicircular spur is known as Phaedriades, and overlooks the Pleistos Valley. Southwest of Delphi, about 15 km (9.3 mi) away, is the harbor-city of Kirrha on the Corinthian Gulf.
Delphi is perhaps best-known for the oracle at the sanctuary that became dedicated to Apollo during the classical period. According to Aeschylus in the prologue of the Eumenides, it had origins in prehistoric times and the worship of Gaia. In the last quarter of the 8th century BC there is a steady increase of artifacts found at the settlement site in Delphi, which was a new, post-Mycenaean settlement of the late 9th century. Pottery and bronze work as well as tripod dedications continue in a steady stream, in comparison to Olympia. Neither the range of objects nor the presence of prestigious dedications proves that Delphi was a focus of attention for worshipers of a wide range, but the strong representation of high value goods, found in no other mainland sanctuary, certainly encourages that view.
Delphi became the site of a major temple to Phoebus Apollo, as well as the Pythian Games and the famous prehistoric oracle. Even in Roman times, hundreds of votive statues remained, described by Pliny the Younger and seen by Pausanias. Supposedly carved into the temple were three phrases: γνωθι σεαυτόν (gnōthi seautón = know thyself) and μηδέν άγαν (mēdén ágan = nothing in excess), and Εγγύα πάρα δ'ατη (engýa pára d'atē = make a pledge and mischief is nigh), as well as a large letter E. Among other things epsilon signifies the number 5. Plutarch's essay on the meaning of the “E at Delphi" is the only literary source for the inscription. In ancient times, the origin of these phrases was attributed to one or more of the Seven Sages of Greece, though ancient as well as modern scholars have doubted the legitimacy of such ascriptions. According to one pair of scholars, "The actual authorship of the three maxims set up on the Delphian temple may be left uncertain. Most likely they were popular proverbs, which tended later to be attributed to particular sages."
Another legend held that Apollo walked to Delphi from the north and stopped at Tempe, a city in Thessaly to pick laurel, a plant sacred to him (generally known in English as the bay tree). In commemoration of this legend, the winners at the Pythian Games received a wreath of laurel (bay leaves) picked in the Temple. The Temple of Apollo, viewed from below the eastern end. View of the mountain-top stadium of the Delphi sanctuary, used for the Pythian Games. The stone steps/seats at right were added under the Romans.
The priestess of the oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia. Apollo spoke through his oracle, who had to be an older woman of blameless life chosen from among the peasants of the area. The sibyl or prophetess took the name Pythia and sat on a tripod seat over an opening in the earth. When Apollo slew Python, its body fell into this fissure, according to legend, and fumes arose from its decomposing body. Intoxicated by the vapors, the sibyl would fall into a trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied. It has been postulated that a gas high in ethylene, known to produce violent trances, came out of this opening, though this theory remains debatable. While in a trance the Pythia "raved" - probably a form of ecstatic speech - and her ravings were "translated" by the priests of the temple into elegant hexameters. People consulted the Delphic oracle on everything from important matters of public policy to personal affairs. The oracle could not be consulted during the winter months, for this was traditionally the time when Apollo would live among the Hyperboreans. Dionysus would inhabit the temple during his absence.
I came across the following article on Digg.com and thought that it was highly debatable and surely interesting enough to share. I remember the taste of a mild depression when my family relocated to Northern California between my sophomore and junior years of high school. Although I initiated the transition with a constructive, growth-seeking outlook, the adjustment at first caused me to feel a bit on the downside for the better half of a year. Lucky to have parents whom I could feel comfortable communicating with, I often expressed my feelings to them, making the experience at least palpable.
Besides the confidence that getting through the depression afforded me well into my future life challenges, I could say that the major upside to the down experience was that for the first time in my life I began to listen and pay attention to my thoughts (as negative as they were.) Looking back on it now, I realize that the depression essentially caused me to be aware of being aware...
Newsweek - "Happiness has had a tough time of it lately. The backlash against the seemingly endless stream of books about the subject (Amazon returned 426,789 titles when I used that search term, including one that calls happiness "life's most important skill") had already set in last year. At the time, I pointed out that "among people with late-stage illnesses, those with the greatest sense of well-being were more likely to die in any given period of time than the mildly content were. Being 'up' all the time can cause you to play down very real threats," and channeled the arguments of scholars who lamented the medicalization of the normal human emotion of sadness. (Click here to follow Sharon Begley)
These and other critiques of happiness and the happiness industry, however, came mostly from psychologists, philosophers, and sociologists who are concerned about the effect of a message that says modest levels of well-being aren't enough, and that we all practically have a duty to be really, really happy—and that what was once considered normal sadness is something to be smothered, even shunned. I was therefore interested to see a new scientific paper taking a more brain-based perspective. (My thanks to The Psych Student blog for drawing my attention to it.)
Writing in the journal Psychological Review, postdoctoral fellow Paul Andrews of Virginia Commonwealth University and psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson Jr. of the University of Virginia present research suggesting that depression is present in the species, and in individuals, for a purpose, and we're playing with fire if we try to eradicate it. In evolution-speak, depression is an "adaptation," they argue. That is, it evolved because it made individuals who experienced it fitter, under natural selection, than individuals who did not experience it. Andrews and Thomson—who is best known for research on the psychology of religious belief, and who has also studied whether antidepressants threaten love and fidelity—offer as evidence the presence of a molecule in the brain called the 5HT1A receptor. This serves as a docking port for the neurochemical serotonin, which the Prozac/Zoloft/Paxil class of antidepressants targets. Human brains are not the only ones with the 5HT1A receptor. Rats also have it.
Here's the really interesting part: the rat version is 99 percent identical to the human one. This suggests that in the evolution from the shared ancestor of rats and people (hold those creationism letters!), natural selection did not mess with the receptor much. That leave-well-enough-alone history tends to happen when the function of some trait is so important that tinkering with it evolutionarily would produce more harm than good. What kind of harm? Rodents that have a mutation causing them to lose this receptor exhibit fewer symptoms of depression when they suffer some stress, a 1998 paper reported. In other words, losing the receptor that promotes depression in response to stress is something evolution thought would be a very bad move. Ergo: depression is not something to be thrown out lightly.
Why not? Because, argue Andrews and Thomson, depression alters thinking and behavior in beneficial ways. For instance:
*People in the grip of depression tend to ruminate, to turn an issue over and over in the mind. If they're ruminating on why they can't get a date, that might seem bad—since it keeps the person depressed. But this way of thinking, note the scientists, is "often highly analytical." That can be useful, producing solutions to what tipped the person into depression in the first place, not to mention "Eureka!" moments such as discovering fire. Evidence: people who felt depressed before tackling challenging math problems tend to score higher than happier test-takers, Andrews and Thomson reported in a 2007 study.
*Depression tends to focus thinking. That 5HT1A receptor, it turns out, also supplies neurons with fuel, allowing them to fire without flagging. That includes neurons in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, which have to fire continuously to keep the mind from wandering. (It's an attention circuit.) Focused thinking, like analytical thinking, might help someone overcome depression.
*Depression tends to make sufferers seek isolation, and keeps them from deriving pleasure from sex, food, or life itself. Obviously this can be crippling (and even fatal) to the sufferer. But it may also be adaptive: these behaviors foster the kind of focused and deliberative thinking that might solve the problem that triggered the depression in the first place. Evidence: a 2006 study found that when people suffering from depression engage in expressive writing, which forces them to focus on their troubles, their depression tends to lift sooner than otherwise. A 2008 study reached the same conclusion... Continue reading the entire article here