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In my stairway in Copenhagen, I've just put books on top of the rack of letterboxes. It makes the stairway more homely, it is fun to watch which books get picked up and it encourages interaction between the neighbours. The current collection in my stairway includes titles like A Concise History of Architecture, The Great Gatsby and Introduction to Statistics. For some reason, the first two seem to be the most popular. There is a bench in my courtyard right outside my kitchen window where I often sit and read. From the bench, you can see a tall chestnut tree and hear the wind in the leaves. The bench also functions as a semi-private space - I can be by myself, but I am still close enough to the public space that people will say hello and ask about the book I'm reading. You won't ever get to know your neighbours if you never see them. Spaces like this - front gardens and porches - are called soft edges, and studies show that streets with soft edges feel safer and people tend to stay in them longer. Just being out in front of your house gives a welcoming vibe that encourages interaction. Few people would dare come into your kitchen to say hello, but if you are in your front garden, people may get to know you and you them. Because of my outdoor reading spot, I've learned that, upstairs from me, live Peter and his daughter Katrine, and further up lives Majed, who has a fruit store (with delicious peaches), and the last time I met him he was going on his first bike ride in twenty years. Interestingly, noise from neighbours ceases to be annoying once you get to know their names and stories. Make it your highest priority to operate on calm. When the mind is calm, the body is calm and when the body is calm, the mind is calm. When you're emotionally all over the place, you're physically all over the place. Your heart-rate is elevated, you're in fight or flight mode, and you appear very paranoid and sketchy. It's hard to relax, sit still, and even your eye contact and speech reflects your sketchy mindset. When you're not physically calm, you're less likable and approachable. You're less likely to make friends.

You're less likely to be trusted. You're less likely to be picked for teams and projects. You're less likely to be seen as dependable. You're less likely to be seen as the person who keeps it together under stressful circumstances. You have less opportunities. Those who are calm, relaxed, and don't seem to give a crap have better luck than those who care too much. It's not a coincidence. Caring too much kills your physical and mental composure. Your physical composure communicates everything about you and everything happening in your mind. When you're unable to relax and chill out, pay attention to what's happening in your mind and get it under control. Tame your mind and the body will follow. Tame your body, and the mind will follow. One great overstatement the addiction-treatment industry propagates is that the 12-step method of recovery is extraordinarily effective. "Ninety percent of recovery centers are based on AA," the documentary I mentioned above tells us as we virtually visit some of the best-known and most (financially) successful programs in this country. AA means the 12 steps, a spiritual approach to recovery, developed by Dr. Bob and Bill W., as described earlier. Studies of AA estimate that it works for 5-10 percent of those who use it. One in twenty, maybe one in ten, respond to AA, yet 90 percent of the treatment programs, including the most preeminent (not to mention the most expensive), are based on and adhere, often principally, to a method with a low response rate. Beware the hucksters. Prospective patients and families are not apt to be told how small the chances of response are before entering what may be a monochromatic treatment program (however fine the amenities may be) and beginning to pay tens or scores of thousands of dollars every month.

Some patients and families spend vast sums of money for treatment and have mortgaged their homes or spent their savings or money meant for the education of other children. Too many addiction-program directors, in all earnestness, swear by AA as if it works a lot better than it does. The burden, caveat emptor (buyer beware), will generally be on prospective consumers of services to ask what the treatment program includes before they enroll. If they don't hear about a comprehensive approach, if they are only sung the AA tune, I'd recommend they keep their credit card in their pocket. I do not mean to disparage AA, NA, and their related 12-step programs. These can and have helped countless people. They are accessible, free, and anonymous. But beware of programs that rely only on this approach. There is more to be had--and other offerings will only increase the chances of recovery. Would you be surprised if I told you that it was spending countless hours watching television? Actually, there were many times when my self-inflicted wounds needed healing from similar traumatic experiences and I would either bathe my psychic injury in alcohol ("Poor me, poor me, pour me another one."), smoke marijuana ("But only on days that ended in the letter "y"--like Monday, and like Tuesday, and like Everyday."), or I would engage in overeating ("I feel better when I feel filled!") Getting back to that storage bill: after a couple of days' escape from reality, I always had a clever solution at hand with which to buy me a little more time. For example, I could do the courteous thing, by calling the warehouse's accounting department from London and saying something along the lines of, "I'm sorry but I think I'm a little behind in my storage bill--it must be a terrible burden for you. I'm really a bit ashamed to be telling you this." The bookkeeping clerk would actually be grateful for my call, and then compliment me on my "honesty." This usually bought me enough time to formulize a plan to accomplish the unthinkable, if not the unbearable: calling my bank in New York to find out my checking account balance, writing a check, and then mailing it to the warehouse. Of course, after this drama had run its course, I'd eventually discover, or rediscover, yet another source of discomfort, whether it was a tax form that required completion or one of those reminders that I had stumbled upon while reviewing my journal. Whatever the particular task was didn't matter too much, because I had long since convinced myself that as a person, I was both inadequate and incapable. Looking back upon all of this, I can now see that what I had believed were a series of individual incidents, were actually the same situations that were happening with different scenarios and people. My distress, which was rooted in procrastination, would come and go over time, and came and went in the form of "Procrastination Cycles." While broad recognition and acceptance of certain media, institutions, and people often serve as the most popular determining factors to assess credibility of health information among young people, keep in mind that there are legitimate Internet sites, databases, and books that publish health information and serve as sources of health information for doctors, other health sites, and members of the public. For example, MedlinePlus ( has trusted sources on over 975 diseases and conditions and presents the information in easy-to-understand language. The chart here presents factors to consider when assessing credibility of health information. However, keep in mind that these factors function only as a guide and require continuous updating to keep abreast with the changes in the landscape of health information, information sources, and technologies.

The chart can serve as a guide; however, approaching a librarian about how one can go about assessing the credibility of both print and online health information is far more effective than using generic checklist-type tools. While librarians are not health experts, they can apply and teach patrons strategies to determine the credibility of health information. Your home may not offer any soft edges, but there might be a strip of land in your neighbourhood that can be used to create a small community garden - a time-tested way not only to grow a bunch of fresh veggies but also to cultivate a sense of community and for you to put down roots. Tending to your tomatoes is not only relaxing and meditative, it brings people in the local neighbourhood together and fosters the development of community spirit. In other words, it is a delicious way of creating a village atmosphere in a big city. In addition, while more research is still needed, studies suggest that gardening has great benefits for our mental health. There is no magic bullet that cures depression, but sometimes the garden can function as the midpoint between the bed and the outside world, taking us - literally - into the light. A few years ago, the Happiness Research Institute were working for a city in Denmark, developing a strategy to improve quality of life for its citizens, and suggested they established community gardens, as one of the main challenges faced by the city was loneliness in the community. We liked the idea so much we wanted to build one ourselves. So we did. At the time, our office was just across from a church that had spare land, so we bought a truckload of dirt, invited the neighbours, spent one Sunday afternoon building twenty raised plant beds and topped it off with a barbecue. The average power drill is used for only a few minutes per year, so there is no need for all of us to have one at home. Power drills, hammers, four different kinds of screwdriver - they all take up space; not to mention leaf-blowers and snow-blowers. A tool-sharing programme is also a good excuse to get to know your neighbours. In short, sharing your tools with neighbours leads to more resources, more community spirit and less clutter for everyone. When you are putting together the street directory, you can ask what tools people might be interested in borrowing and lending - or, if there is extra space in the basement, create a `tool library' board. Put up a board with some tools on it, for example a hammer and screwdriver, and draw around them. Put in a few nails so that the hammer can hang on the board. Also draw the shapes of the tools that are missing so that your neighbours can contribute their excess tools. Exercise calms the mind and body.

It helps you keep it together by getting rid of excess energy and releasing chemicals and hormones into your system that positively affect your mind and body. Excess amounts of unused energy, if not spent in a healthy way like exercising, turn into thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and habits that aren't so healthy and effective. Ever noticed a good workout or run makes you calm, cool, collected, composed, and your mind isn't going crazy? The excess energy is being used for something positive - to work on your body and muscles. It didn't remain in your body long enough to turn into anxiety, negative emotion, and counter-productive thoughts. When you don't use your energy for something positive and productive, it turns into something negative. So, to operate on a level of cool, calm, composed, and confident, make sure your energy is getting spent and not finding negative outlets and not becoming negative thoughts, emotions, actions, and habits. When you feel anxious, worried, self-conscious, and anything negative, exercise. Spend that energy Do something physical. Get the energy out of your system so it doesn't create more negativity. Do push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, burpees, run, hit a punching bag, jump rope, or go to the gym. Even yoga helps. Physically get rid of that excess energy. That's why prisoners get more angry and violent when they can't lift weights and exercise. Fully-engage and use up your energy so you're able to fully disengage, disconnect, and relax. Depleting your energy means you'll get better-quality rest, recovery, and renewal. Our energy must work in a perfect balance like day and night, summer and winter, fire and water, etc. How can people manage the complex challenges of addiction if they are also clinically depressed, unable to mobilize or care, or, worse, think they would be better off dead? Or if they are, instead, living a life with manic and depressive swings, paranoid delusions, and persecutory hallucinations, seen with psychotic illnesses? Or if they suffer from the ongoing mental and physical depletion brought on by emotional trauma, including PTSD?