Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"Giving to charity makes you happy, middle age is miserable"/ journaling happiness

Jan. 13, 2016 "Giving to charity makes you happy, middle age is miserable: experts": I cut out this article by Joseph D'urso in the Globe and Mail on Sept. 8, 2015.  It was in the business section of the newspaper.

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Giving to others not only makes us happier but can help lower our blood pressure, while humans are most miserable in their forties for deeply rooted biological reasons, researchers told a conference in London on Thursday.

Experts from Britain and Canada were debating the latest research on happiness and altruism, as part of a conference on "nudging" - using psychological insights into human behavior to get people to make good decisions.
Happiness is highly subjective, and cultures have very different conceptions of what it means, making it difficult to study and measure - but an increasing number of organizations think it is an important subject to focus on.

The United Nations uses a Human Development Index, which incorporates factors like life satisfaction alongside more conventional economic metrics like gross domestic product (GDP), and publishes a World Happiness Report each year.

Happiness over an adult lifespan is "a giant U shape," high in our 20s, low in our 40s, and high again in old age," said Andrew Oswald, an economics professor at Britain's University of Warwick.

He published this conclusion several years ago, but has since carried out similar studies around the world, all of which reveal the same conclusion - that happiness follows a U shape, and depression follows a 'hump,' peaking in the 40s.
"The standard theory was one of thwarted aspirations," he said on Thursday, with people realizing as they approach middle age that they are unlikely to realize the dreams of their youth, and getting used to this in later life.

However, social theories like this do not explain an observation from an unusual source: zookeepers.
Animal experts who observe great apes, assessing their psychological wellbeing over time, say that monkeys - like humans - are most likely to be sad in middle age.

This suggests a midlife crisis may be "intrinsically natural," but it is a "puzzle which remains to be understood," said Oswald.

People who give money to charity tend to be happier and also healthier than others, said Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada, where she studies happiness.

"Money doesn't seem to buy quite as much happiness as many people assume," she told the conference, adding that in experiments where people were given money and told to spend it on either themselves or others, givers were happiest afterwards.

Similar results were reached in Canada and Uganda, two hugely different countries in terms of income and culture, suggesting this may be something intrinsic to humans, she said.

"People who donate money to charity are happier in poor and rich countries alike," she said. "You don't have to have a lot to experience the emotional benefits of giving."

As well as the link between happiness and altruism, which she now thinks is fairly robust and well established, Dunn said her more recent research suggests giving money away can tangibly improve one's health.

People who donate to charity have lower blood pressure, she said, even when controlling for factors like income, wealth, age and exercise, which suggests the giving itself is responsible.

Dunn measured people's blood pressure before and after giving, and found it fell when people gave significantly to other people or causes, but did not change when they spent money on themselves.

The extent to which people feel connected to the cause is also important, she said, with more of an effect when people feel personally connected to the cause to which they are giving.

"Giving is "not just heartwarming, it may be quite literally good for our hearts," she said.

Jan. 17, 2016 "The write stuff: how journaling turned a page": I cut out this article by Sharon A. Mcleay in the Edmonton Journal on Jun. 22, 2015.  Here is another kind of happiness article:

Journals and diaries. You probably think they’re only used by giggly teenage girls or distinguished elder statesmen. You might want to think again. Or should I say reflect again.

The concept of keeping a journal has undergone a dramatic transition. No longer only thought of as a record or a muse for the young, prominent and famous, people from all walks of life are tapping into its reflexive function as a means of healing, self-exploration and self-directed change. Proof that it is gaining popularity is in the number of journal-related books, which has skyrocketed from six in 1985, to more than 5,000 listed on today.

Calgary’s Marina Eason has kept a journal as a creative outlet and confidant since she was a teen, but when her unborn child was diagnosed with short bowel syndrome in 2008, she started to look at the page in a new light.
“I had so many emotions and unanswered questions, I had to turn to my journal to sort out my feelings,” said Eason.
Her daughter Hayden is in and out of the Alberta Children’s Hospital regularly. Through it all the 29-year-old mother of two has continued to keep a journal by her bed to reflect on her experiences, deal with relationships and make life decisions: “Putting things down on paper helps me learn what I want to do emotionally, physically and spiritually. It also lifts a huge weight from my shoulders and helps me sleep so why wouldn’t I journal?”

What Eason is talking about is reflective or expressive writing, the new wave in journaling which quietly started in 1966 when New York psychotherapist, Ira Progoff researched the lives of creative people at Drew University. Out of his work came the Intensive Journal method, a process that empowers users to pursue self-directed change and their creative potential by combining journaling with an organized format.

University of Calgary psychologist Judy Chew, says structure is key when proposing journaling as an adjunct to therapy to Students’ Union Wellness Centre students. She’s seen the moods of too many clients take a downward spiral after they’ve only used their journals as a dumping ground for negative feelings.

“Sometimes the mix of feelings is overwhelming and debilitating. Journaling with structure provides clients with the self-knowledge and confidence they need to decide whether and what decision to make,” she says.

Providing structure for journaling has been at the centre of psychotherapist Kathleen Adams’ work for 30 years. The Denver-based Center for Journal Therapy Director recognized early on the need to provide journal writers with structure when she observed grieving or traumatized clients having difficulty writing about their pain. She noted how most tended to pour themselves onto the page in an unstructured, boundless, “free writing” way that she says, “parallels the process of catastrophic grief, which is in itself oceanic, endless and formless.”

She adapted 18 journal-writing techniques that provide structure, pacing and boundaries to support clients overwhelmed when writing about trauma. Her methods have been accessed by more than 100,000 people through her books and workshops conducted by certified instructors worldwide.

Eason signed on for an Adams’ method workshop recently which, she says, took her journaling to a new level. “The techniques offered a better way to get things out and I was surprised by how creative I could be telling my story.”

Adams developed her method about the same time Dr. James W. Pennebaker completed his groundbreaking research into how expressive writing could improve everything from blood pressure and the immune system, to depression, chronic pain and arthritis and prevent the common cold.

The University of Texas at Austin Professor and Research Psychologist’s clinical studies show the use of journaling to express feelings about emotionally challenging events (for 15 to 20 minutes a day, four days/week, over several weeks) can lead to better health. In 1999 The Journal of the American Medical Association added its stamp of approval by publishing clinically-proven study results that showed dramatic and long-term symptom relief in 47 per cent of rheumatoid arthritis and asthma sufferers using the Pennebaker method.

How can the simple act of journaling do all that? Calgary Chronic Disease Consultant and Kinesiologist Chris Carruthers explains.

“It requires physiological work to suppress emotional thoughts, which can lead to health issues. Journaling slows the heart rate, releases muscle tension and can decrease blood pressure.”

Carruthers applied the Pennebaker method in her doctoral research of 52 people with chronic illness, the results of which demonstrated a 56 per cent reduction in physical symptoms — including back pain, headache and fatigue — and a 24 per cent improvement in anxiety and depression levels. Since then the consultant has offered journaling as a form of relief for cancer patients, chronic disease sufferers, insomniacs and university students.

Breast cancer survivor Dorothy Mackintosh attributes much of her emotional and physical recovery to art journaling. The 48-year-old mother of three had only moved to Canada from Australia six weeks before she was diagnosed in 2007. After a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, nine rounds of chemotherapy and five and a half weeks of radiation at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, she decided to try journaling. “It opened my mind, gave me balance, helped me discover my self-worth and heal,” she says.

Mackintosh’s teacher, Expressive Arts Facilitator Kathie MacDuff, leads more than 100 people a year through her art journal courses at Wellspring Calgary, the Tom Baker and privately. She admits to having to dodge all manner of journal stereotypes before participants can get down to work.

“People think it’s just for women, or that it’s for writing down negative feelings, and fear they aren’t good enough,” she says. But after 15 years of teaching both men and women, MacDuff says experience and ability have nothing to do with it: “Through journaling I believe everyone can find meaning and uncover their deepest feelings to reach beyond their pain and connect with something bigger.”

Feb. 15, 2016 Survey of happy people: I have this article in 24 News on Sept. 19, 2011.  It was in the business section of the newspaper.  Captivate Network did the survey:

Men are 25% happier at work than women, 8% happier at home and 75% have work/ life balance.

The happiest person is a 39 yr old married man in a senior management position, with a household income between $150,000-$200,000, with 1 young child and a wife who works part-time.

The unhappiest person is a 42 yr old unmarried woman with a household income less than $100,000 in a professional position like doctor or a lawyer.

May 6, 2016 911 call: Today was crazy.  I was at the bus stop at like 2pm.  A man and a woman pass by another man.  The two men get into a fight as the woman did try to step between them.

I got up and called 911 as soon as the guys started fighting.  911 dispatcher picked up after 1 ring.

Tracy: There are 2 guys fighting at _____ Ave.
Dispatcher then says to hold.
There was a police station really close by, so a cop came and broke it up.

Tracy: A cop is here.
Dispatcher: Okay.
Tracy: Can I hang up now?
Dispatcher: Yes.

My call lasted like 56 seconds, so that's good.  I am so amped up from that.

It kind of reminded me when I was working at my restaurant a few years ago, and a fight was outside and I called security.  Security rushed in.

It also reminded me of last summer I was walking by the Stanley A. Milner library and a man and woman were fighting outside.  I entered the library entrance and a security guard was there.  I told him about it and lead him to it.  He called for backup.

Aeropostale: I put this on my Facebook status update:

Aeropostale is closing down, so if you want to buy something go here:

Postmedia donates to Fort McMurray:

May 10, 2016: I've been reading a lot of ads in the newspaper of companies like Ricky's Bar and Grill donating money to Fort Mac.

Shopping: Onto lighter news, the Danier at West Ed mall has closed down.  I have been reading about Aeropostale not going very well in the business section of the newspaper since last year.  I wasn't really surprised when they closed down the Canadian stores.

Career research: Today I put up my 2 other weekly emails/ blog posts up.  I have a feeling that none of you guys are interested in reading about these careers.  I was at the Alberta Blue Cross job fair back in Feb. 2016 and it turns out they were hiring these positions:

I sent them to my friend Dan N. who may be interested or not.

May 12, 2016: I was rereading those happiness articles.  After reading it, I felt good.

However, I can relate to the first article and the line: "The standard theory was one of thwarted aspirations," he said on Thursday, with people realizing as they approach middle age that they are unlikely to realize the dreams of their youth, and getting used to this in later life."

I have been feeling kind of down.  I'm 30 yrs old and I still haven't my TV script The Vertex Fighter produced.  From 2008-2012, (22 yrs old- 27 yrs old) I was constantly pitching my script and trying to get it produced.

Then in 2013 I got the Office Job and was more about work from then on.

Internship tip: I remember way back in 2003 when I was 18 yrs old and tried to get an internship at CBC, but they said they only hired NAIT TV and Radio students and college students.  I was upgrading my high school marks, so I couldn't get hired.

However, you should aim for a smaller company like CKUA radio.  In 2005, I did apply there, but it was for a volunteer and you don't get paid, but you get experience.


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