Friday, January 30, 2015

DNA's 64-Letter Alphabet

As you probably already know, the English language consists of a 26-letter alphabet. According to Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, U Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine, DNA has a 64-letter (or codon) alphabet that spells out the genetic code. These codon letters are organized into words and sentences called genes - a segment of DNA passed down from parents to child that confers a trait to the offspring. Humans have 25,000-30,000 genes, usually in pairs (one from each parent). A mutation is a change in the spelling of the codon letters in a DNA sequence. Every person’s DNA contains mutations that typically are quite harmless. Some mutations, however, may be responsible for triggering abnormal conditions and specific diseases. Sickle cell anemia, for example, reportedly can be caused by a change in one single gene.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nature-Nurture Combination

Humans are a combination of nature and nurture. Nature refers to genetics; your chromosomes (and their genes) that contain 99% of all the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in your brain and body. Nurture refers to epigenetics; your cellular memories, hormones, and how they influence your chromosomes and genes. (Epigenetics sometimes can turn chromosomes on or turn chromosomes off.) If everything goes according to plan, every time your cells replace themselves or divide and multiply, the genetic information is accurately replicated. Unfortunately, this is a complex process and not as fool-proof and straightforward as one might hope.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Your DNA and Chromosome Patterns

The most common patterns appear to be 46 chromosomes and an XX sex chromosome  (female) and 46 chromosomes plus an XY chromosome (male). A chromosome is a piece of coiled DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), two long, twisted strands that contain complementary genetic information, like a picture and its negative (double helix). Tiny, tiny, tiny—but immensely powerful. It appears that 99 % of all the DNA in the human body is found in the chromosomes. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Your Genome

Your genome is a label for who you are genetically; your complete set of genetic information encoded within 23 pairs of chromosomes in the cell nuclei. And what are chromosomes? A chromosome is a piece of coiled DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid); a biomolecule that holds the blueprint for how you, a living organism, was built. You may recall (if you have studied Biology) that chromosome pairs 1-22 are numbered by size and appearance. Normally, they are the same in males and females and come from the person’s two biological parents. The 23rd pair is known as the sex chromosomes. The typical pattern for females is XX and for males an XY combination. This means, of course, that it is the male (who has a Y chromosome) who primarily determines whether his biological child will have two XXs or an XY combination.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Satisfaction with Life Scale

Happiness can be related to one’s satisfaction with life. A Satisfaction with Life Scale, authored by Ed Diener, Robert A. Emmons, Randy J. Larsen and Sharon Griffin as noted in the 1985 article in the Journal of Personality Assessment, is a one-minute survey that can be helpful.

Below are five statements that you may agree or disagree with. Using the 1 - 7 scale below, indicate your agreement with each item by placing the appropriate number on the line preceding that item. Please be open and honest in your responding.

  • 7 - Strongly agree
  • 6 - Agree
  • 5 - Slightly agree
  • 4 - Neither agree nor disagree
  • 3 - Slightly disagree
  • 2 - Disagree
  • 1 - Strongly disagree
____ In most ways my life is close to my ideal.

____ The conditions of my life are excellent.

____ I am satisfied with my life.

____ So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.

____ If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.

Add up the numbers and find your total score in one of the ranges below. 

      • 31 - 35   Extremely satisfied
      • 26 - 30   Satisfied
      • 21 - 25   Slightly satisfied
      • 20 -        Neutral
      • 15 - 19   Slightly dissatisfied
      • 10 - 14   Dissatisfied
      •   5 - 9     Extremely dissatisfied 
My brain’s opinion? If your score shows you are anything but satisfied, take this as a clue that you may need to make some significant changes in your life. More information:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Brain and Flow

Do you know how you feel when you are genuinely happy? Many people do not. They equate happiness either with boisterous euphoria or over-the-top laughter, neither of which may represent genuine happiness. Some describe happiness as being in “flow.” Researcher and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has described the flow experience as one in which individuals perceive: 

  • time is flying
  • things are clicking along almost effortlessly
  • the activity is rewarding and they’d like to repeat it
  • they have some control over the activity
  • complete absorption in the activity
  • they are in the zone or in the groove 
Can you identify a time or times when this was true for you? What were you doing?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Childhood Beliefs

Are you a happy person? Could you be happier? You might want to return in memory to your childhood and view it with adult eyes. Ask yourself: What was the atmosphere like in my family-of-origin? Since you subconsciously absorb beliefs and attitudes and learn a great deal during the first few years of life (especially birth to age 5), dig to discover what your brain absorbed. For example, did any of these beliefs find their way into your brain’s memory banks:

  •  Life is serious business - so stop fooling around
  • Life is hard - and then you die
  • Stop laughing - it's disrespectful 
  • Life is a downhill slide into old age – and maybe Alzheimer’
  • Quit being so silly - grow up will you
  • Pull yourself together and stop giggling – you’re embarrassing me
For a child’s developing brain, these types of attitudes can lead to fear, discouragement, sadness, apprehension, and even anger--all of which can be a "fur piece" (as some of the old timers used to put it) from happiness.