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July/August 2007

A bimonthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 11, Issue No. 2
- Quote of the month
- From the Editor
- Key Findings from Public Health
- How to Build Community
- Six Tips for Happiness
- Seven Strategies to Reclaim Your Day
- Humor: Calling All Muses!
- Health in the News
- Frappr! Map
- Purpose of the Newsletter
- Subscription Information
- Web Site


September: Humor and Health
November: Using Obstacles as Stepping Stones
January: Success and Health
March: Fasting for Spiritual & Physical Health

"We exhort you, O peoples of the world, to observe that which will elevate your station.  Hold fast to the fear of God and firmly adhere to what is right.  Verily I say, the tongue is for mentioning what is good, defile it not with unseemly talk.  God hath forgiven what is past.  Henceforward everyone should utter that which is meet and seemly, and should refrain from slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness in men."   ("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 310-11)

Dear Readers,

I have been lost in space for a few months and missed two issues of this newsletter.  Life's unexpected turns distracted me from pursuing this project.  Please accept my apologies and promises to do better in future.  I am so grateful for your patience!

We will begin again.  I pledge to spend less time worrying about perfection and more time discovering and enjoying the ways in which the world is just discovering the sources of health and well being that Baha'u'llah, Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, expounded more than 100 years ago.

Important among those concepts is that we are all one, single, human family, and that whatever is bad for some members of that family will ultimately be bad for the whole.  Many of the laws and teachings of the Baha'i Faith support community building and mutual goals, and the provide behavioral tools of communication necessary to achieve those goals.

Consultation is a key in the Baha'i Faith to functioning as a community, as a family, and for an individual to remain in good health.  The steps in consultation outlined by Baha'u'llah are critical to providing multiple perspectives and accurate feedback to all parties in the discussion -- across boundaries of language, culture, gender, age, and whatever other problems can interfere with this vital communication.

Today, the research evidence is building that health is not affected just occasionally by the world in which an individual lives, but outside influences may be far more important to health than genetic makeup is.

Scientists who thought they had veered safely away from religion, philosophy and other 'soft' sciences as too intangible to measure, are finding that social relationships, feedback loops, and other 'squishy' ideas that reside mostly in moral and ethical realms are indeed the most important aspects of health and healing.

Humans (and all other life) appear to be inherently designed to function best as part of a group, those groups being part of larger groups, and on and on.  We swim daily in endless circles of influence.  Minute changes in those inputs, multiplied over time, will change how we feel and act, even though we can be unaware that it is happening.

Science is discovering that no human is a completely separate entity.  Even cells cannot exist if they lose contact with surrounding cells.  No one person is all powerful, either, but by making small changes in personal attitudes, perspectives and behaviors, we affect those around us -- and they affect us.

Over time, lots of small iterations can wear down mountains, build Grand Canyons, and change the face of the Earth.  They can also change hearts, minds and cultures.  One person cannot achieve this alone, because many, many small steps are needed, so we must learn to work in groups, ever expanding our influence from those little things we can do.

"We'll get by with a little help from our friends."  (adapted from The Beatles, "Blue Album," 1967)    
Cheryll Schuette, Michigan, USA

By Wade Schuette, MBA MPH

* Healthy "people" aren't localized rocks, but are normally well-interconnected bidirectionally into the social fabric around them.

* Social connectivity is the most robust predictor of internal, "physiological", "biomedical" outcomes, such as morbidity, mortality, survival rate of surgery, resistance to infection, level of depression, outcome of diabetes, obesity, "mental" health.

* Prevention is a thousand times more cost effective than repair. (A lesson from software engineering and many other fields as well.)

* The caring, human, loving touch of another individual is very important to human health and healing. Infants who aren't touched do poorly or simply die.

* All interesting social phenomena (such as relationships, jobs, teams, family, stress, love, sex, the economy, depression) involve intimately bidirectional feedback loops.


Classical statistical measures and attitudes, based on prediction of crop yields, assume critically that causality is defined in one direction only, and that all phenomena of interest can be "isolated" from context and one part of it varied by the experimenter while other parts of it are "held constant." None of that applies to "complex adaptive systems," including social systems, which are inextricably interconnected, context-dependent, interdependent, and riddled with bidirectional feedback loops.

Since the tools and expertise breakdown when applied to these areas, rather than admit that the tools and expertise are inadequate, the problem space is instead defined as "non-scientific" or "soft-science" and demeaned as unimportant or "non-scientific."

Possibly due to such schizophrenia, the US "healthcare" system behaves as if none of the above solid empirical facts were known. There is no focus on social connectivity, less than 2% of the budget is spent on prevention, and machines and processes have replaced people at the bedside. People are treated like machines, and diseases are treated as if they were independent of each other and the rest of people's lives. "People" are reduced to "patients". "Caregivers" are too busy to stay and chat for a while with "patients" and are increasingly renamed "providers" which is ironic, since mostly they consume resources, particularly money, while being forced by "the system" to be too busy to stick around and observe the actual outcomes of their "treatments" on the people they serve.

Perhaps, not surprisingly then, the outcomes of the US Healthcare system are terrible, compared to peer countries. Infant mortality is something like 19th in the world. Costs are huge but a recent study showed that the BEST quartile of US citizens (the rich) have health outcomes worse than the WORST quartile of British citizens in the UK. Depression, obesity, diabetes are widespread and rampant epidemics in the US.

But, efforts to build healthcare interventions that are designed around social connectivity and whole persons are demeaned and ridiculed as being "non-scientific", or avoided because the feedback loops make computing statistical "p-values" problematic for academic researchers, for whom such mathematical bases for certainty are held with a sort of blind obsession despite the fact that the assumptions of the theory (General Linear Model) don't fit the problem they're trying to address.

The result is that although the most effective interventions are known, and involve teams of people assisting individual humans to modify or control their behavior and life style, the advocates of these interventions are academically shunned and have to present their work in embarrassment in back rooms. The Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) within National Institutes of Health is treated like an awkward in-law.

Probably the single best book that summarizes interventions in health care that actually work is "Health Program Planning: An Educational and Ecological Approach," by Lawrence W. Green and Marshall W. Kreuter, now in it's fourth edition. (c) 2005 McGraw Hill.  The initial version written in 1961-- about when non-communicable diseases began to replace communicable diseases in the US as the leading causes of death, disability, and impaired quality of life -- but the older, biomedical model had a very tightly held death-grip on the "health care industry."


"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."  Arthur Schopenhauer

So, this pretty much summarizes the state of affairs today. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has started a new department of Health Behavior along the lines of the new theory, but most health and public health people are famously non-quantitative, and so they are attempting to think through such problems mentally, unassisted by available systems dynamics tools used in other industries for over 50 years now.

And, the biomedical establishment has a strong lock on most thinking and peer-review journals, and alternates denial and violent opposition to the "new paradigm" which it perceives as a throwback to mystical soft thinking instead of a more general version of the scientific method that can embrace feedback loops and complex adaptive systems without distortion of the tools or violation of the assumptions behind the models and statistics.

Even at Hopkins in the department of Epidemiology, the ratio of new thinkers to old-paradigm thinkers is essentially 3 to 70, and this new paradigm is ridiculed, rejected, opposed, despised by most old-school thinkers who wish the answer to health had stayed down the microscope, under control, where they had strong muscles and good intuition - instead of showing up increasingly outside the window of the lab, in the social fabric of society, in all the places the scientists grew up despising and where their tools and muscles and intuition all fail.

So, where does that leave us?

 Apparently, we can't expect either academics or health care workers to take the lead in fixing this terrible mess, and business is going to have to get down to business and do something about it.

(This is not without precedent - the center of innovation in the USA has increasingly moved out of universities and into businesses, despite the very strong marketing campaign with the opposite message.)

Business today is much more cybernetic on a real-time basis than academia, and utilizes "good enough" models which, with cybernetic feedback control, get the job done and produce the desired outcomes - - while driving academics crazy because the underlying models are "so bad."  The National Institutes of Health is still heavily dominated as well by biomedically oriented researchers of the old school, who resist the new paradigm.

So, with a few exceptions, industry money may be the only way to advance health care in serious ways, and address the findings at the top of this article sometime this century, when we're still alive to care about it.

We have, as in so many of M.C. Escher's paintings, (see this link: created a world that is locally-sensible and globally nonsense, but few people working locally are motivated to address the global wrongness, and no Masters or PhD student or young researcher would be encouraged to tackle a "large" problem.

So it sits there, unaddressed by academia and a thorn in the side of everyone: patients, doctors, nurses, payers, industry.

Like Escher's paintings, one is hard pressed to see or point to exactly "where" the wrongness is, and yet, standing back, it's clearly wrong.

That's where things
are today.

              (from the blog, Perspectives in Public Health, )

Given the concepts in the previous article, what are some small steps that many individuals could take, and repeat for many iterations, thus changing the world?

How about talking to each other?

"The Great Being saith: The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion.  Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding."   ("Tablets of Baha'u'llah," p. 168)

"The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man."  ('Abdu'l-Baha, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in "Consultation, A Compilation," #182)

The following list is all over the 'Net, but no original source was easy to find.  It has been adopted by cities, clubs, and little old ladies bent on cleaning up the neighborhood.  People of all ages have been involved, from designing and hanging posters to distributing and wearing buttons.  It is on note cards, post cards, letterhead, t-shirts, coffee cups, the Good-Year blimp...

The word is out, so let's try acting on it!

* Turn off your TV
* Leave your house
* Know your neighbors
* Greet people
* Look up when you're walking
* Sit on your stoop
* Plant flowers
* Use your library
* Play together
* Buy from local merchants
* Share what you have
* Help a lost dog
* Take children to the park
* Honor elders
* Support neighborhood schools
* Fix it even if you didn't break it
* Have pot lucks
* Garden together
* Pick up litter
* Read stories aloud
* Dance in the street
* Talk to the mail carrier
* Listen to the birds
* Put up a swing
* Help carry something heavy
* Barter for your goods
* Start a tradition
* Ask a question
* Hire young people for odd jobs
* Organize a block party
* Bake extra and share
* Ask for help when you need it
* Open your shades
* Sing together
* Share your skills
* Take back the night
* Turn up the music
* Turn down the music
* Listen before you react to anger
* Mediate a conflict
* Seek to understand
* Learn from new and uncomfortable angles
* Know that no one is silent though many are not heard
* Work to change this
"We must not only be patient with others, infinitely patient!, but also with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair!"     ("Fire and Gold: Benefiting from Life's Tests," p. 223)

Advice from Tal Ben-Shahar

1. Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions -- such as fear, sadness, or anxiety -- as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.

3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?

4. Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

5. Remember the mind-body connection. What we do -- or don't do -- with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.

6. Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.
"Simplifying your schedule is a matter of living in a way that reflects your life's natural rhythm," says Edward Hallowell, M.D.  A former instructor at Harvard Medical School, he is the author of "CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and about to Snap: Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD."

* Don't multitask.  Splitting focus does not improve outcomes.  Concentrate on the moment.

* Keep to-do lists short.  And stop for the day when the list is completed.  Rest is important, too.

*Delegate.  Rather than trying to do everything, ask for help, make a trade, give away tasks that don't energize.  Maybe hire professionals for things like plumbing, taxes or tree felling.  There will be someone out there who does get energy from these tasks!

* Be positive.  Fear and anxiety hinder capability and make the task take longer.  And both are bad for health.

* Limit interruptions.  This is a matter of both scheduling and setting personal boundaries.

* See organization as a means, not an end.  "Organizing is like dieting," says Dr. Hallowell.  "Everyone wants to do it, few actually do, and those who succeed often revert to their former ways."  Do just enough to keep order and save time wasted by trying to find things.

* Don't lose sleep over it.  Staying up late does not get more done.  Sleep deprivation lowers peak brain performance and won't make up for an overly optimistic to-do list.  Bottom line: sleep isn't optional, and you can't get ahead by skimping on it.

For more information, drop by his website:
"The medical professionals at the Hallowell Center are committed to helping people lead happier, more productive lives through a balanced treatment approach; integrating brain, body and heart."

HUMOR: Calling All Muses!
Joe Rhatigan, from his action packed book, "In Print! 40 Cool Publishing Projects for Kids" (Lark Books) is only partly teasing his readers with this reference to the source of inspiration.

Addressing the most common question asked of those who are considered artists, Rhatigan uses some models from the past, and adds a few new ones to meet today's tasks:

In Greek mythology, the Muses were nine sisters whose sole purpose in life was to inspire artists and help them create. They were:
   Terpsichorie -- dance
   Thalia -- comedy
   Clio -- history
   Erato -- love poetry
   Calliope -- epic poetry
   Euterpe -- music
   Urania -- astronomy
   Melpomene -- tragedy
   Polyhymnia -- sacred poetry

Rhatigan suggests some modern muses might be:
   Headhurtsalotta -- homework and taxes
   Spamiopia -- e-mail
   Thanksomuchope -- thank you notes
   Sweetootheroia -- creative snacking

Perhaps the author is only partly joking about this process.  Religious writers have for centuries sited Spirit (by many names) as the source of all knowledge and creative ideas. 

Using that source, however, requires setting the mood, opening the heart and mind, and developing both the skills and the discipline to keep at the work. These steps are universally acknowledged as the road to success.  Faith in the process is also a requirement.

The composer, Mozart, had the reputation for writing a sonata in one sitting, without further changes or corrections.  In later life, author Isaac Asimov could turn out a speech or a magazine article complete in first draft.  But both of these 'geniuses' had done extensive developmental work, immersed in their disciplines and their art for a lifetime. 

Ernest Hemingway, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, was once asked if he wrote regularly, or just when he felt inspired.  He is said to have replied, "Only when inspired.  But I'm inspired every morning at 9 o'clock!"

We have a Frappr! map for this newsletter.  This is a great way to see how many places our subscribers live around the world.  Interesting to note that most of those who have joined the map so far are female.

To sign on and join the group, (it's free) access the Healing Through Unity map and at:

Check back every so often to see how many more have signed on; watch our world map blossom!

"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health.  Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. None of the material published in this newsletter is intended to be a substitute for the advice of a physician.

You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 6 issues per year. The newsletter is produced in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Distribution of this newsletter is free by email. To subscribe to the newsletter, and receive it by email before it's posted on the web,
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You can visit our Web site, obtain back issues, subscribe/unsubscribe, and download the Healing Through Unity Course at:

All of us have had healing experiences, as well as climbed out of low points along life's way - physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual.  Please share your stories, tips, useful links, and quotes from the Baha'i Writings about staying healthy in a stressful world.  Your articles do not have to be long - even a few paragraphs in length are fine.  Baha'u'llah gave us each other as a big part of a healthy lifestyle, and sharing stories and ideas that work for you brings encouragement to others.  Asking for information and support from others can bring encouragement to you!


Many thanks to all of you who share helpful ideas for the Healing Through Unity eNewsletter.  The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor.  We welcome submissions from everyone.

Please e-mail your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to the newsletter editor, Cheryll Schuette, at:


Please specify if you do not want your full name, or any part of it, used in this newsletter, particularly for the Question of the Month.  Once published in email and in the archives on the website, it is difficult if not impossible to remove with any certainty.

Editor - Cheryll Schuette
Contributing Editors - Wade Schuette
Founding Editor - Frances Mezei
Web Master - Jonah Winters
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