Monthly Archive: August 2015

Dealing with Trauma

There are many people who have a hard time going through life and don’t realize that it is all rooted in trauma. Yes, trauma. Sometimes we think we are fine when we are really light years away from addressing what truly is troubling us. Trauma is a serious issue and results in complications on all levels of life.

There is no quick fix for trauma. I’m providing three ways to start addressing trauma below, but I highly encourage you to seek out in-person or online professional help and work with someone you trust and who can help you address you and the trauma you have lived through.

In the duration, here are three ways to start working through issues related to trauma:

1. Talk about it with someone you trust. Don’t talk about it with people you can’t trust or people who don’t care. Yes, there are people like that out there. You want to engage with someone who will be supportive and who will listen- not make it about their opinion.

2. Know that you still have control over your life. You may not have been able to control the trauma, but you’re still here and you are in control. Seek out a professional who can offer personalized tips on how to overcome and then remain in control of a more positive destiny.

3. It’s OK to feel upset. Why do we always feel as if we have to pretend everything is OK. If it is not OK, say so. Own your feelings. Understand your environment. If you’re mad, be mad. Know that feelings exist for a reason and you can address them and work with a therapist to help you move on from them in a health manner.

Living Authentically Out There

When I asked a young friend of mine if he wanted to live his life authentically, he said “of course!” When I asked him what he imagined that to be, he shrugged and wasn’t able to put words to what he felt and meant.  Being authentic means, according to google, being genuine. Living authentically means that and more – is also means being ourselves and living that way the best we can.

Todd Henry talks about living an authentic life in his book The Accidential Creative.. In a recent interview with Maria Forleo, Henry goes one step further and talks about how we can express ourselves authentically, so that others can also see our authentic, truly creative selves. According to him, here are two things you need to know:

First, give yourself space – Henry calls this White Space.  Take 10 deep breaths, go for a walk, take a long nap.  If we are worrying, rushing, doing, we end up squeezing out the space we need internally to know what we want to say or create.

Next, understand that living authentically and creatively is U-Shaped. Henry likens it to walking from canyon top to canyon top: at the beginning we can see the top of the next rise with clarity and know exactly where we’re headed.  As we descend, we can see only what’s immediately around us – the shrubs, dust, critters; we feel tired, hot and thirsty.  At the bottom, we lose our sense of direction, and begin to wonder if this was such a good idea, and if we should have even started.  Then, if we continue, we eventually emerge on the other side, feeling fantastic and knowing it was all worth it.

His point is that in the middle, we will always feel insecure and begin to question ourselves.  This is true for anyone who goes through this process, no matter how many times they’ve gone through it before. The only way out is to stay with it to the end.

 

How Janet Mock began to live authentically at age 15

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Quote of the Week
The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.
-C.G Jung

Practice Being Kind

Most of us think of ourselves as victims of circumstances. We’re cranky because we woke up late since NBC has to air our favorite show past 10pm. We’re upset because “that lady” cut us off in traffic. We’re sad because life isn’t fair. When are we ever kind? Are we kind when someone does something for us and we feel obligated to be kind in return? Or are you naturally kind and naturally positive?

I hate to say it, but we tend to be more reactionary than proactive. We tend to be more negative than positive because we believe ourselves to be victims of our environment – not masters of it! Well, let today be the day you practice being kind. Yes, you have to actually practice it!

Here are a couple of tips to start your weekend off in the right direction. If you’re at work reading this, start now!

1. Hold the door open for everyone… Yes, everyone

2. Buy a random stranger coffee!

3. Find an elderly person you can help and take them to the grocery store or do their shopping for them.

4. Practice smiling and smile at everyone. Don’t frown, don’t look cross. Work on smiling.

5. Invite someone who doesn’t socially “fit in” at work out to dinner or lunch.

The point is to work on going out of your way for the only purpose of helping and benefiting someone else. It is the best way to practice kind meditation and help reduce your stress levels.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT (according to LifeHacker)

“In one interesting study conducted by the Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia, participants were asked to recall spending a small sum of money either on themselves or to help someone in need. Those who donated that sum to charity or as a gift remembered being much happier than when they had spent the money on themselves.

Researchers also found that once people got into the loop of being kind which was followed by a feeling of happiness, then they were more likely to do lots of other acts. It is a win-win situation. Psychologists call this the ‘helper’s high’.”

Decisions – What Makes Some Hard

I was in a hurry to get home this morning, and a pedestrian stopped and waived me through, even though she had the right of way. I felt so grateful for that momentary act of kindness that I found myself relaxing, enjoying the day.  We all know the feeling; such a simple and momentary act can change a day from gloomy to bright.

I had to make a decision today and for some reason it was really hard.  I make hundreds, maybe even thousands of decisions every day.  What made this one seem so different? Worry? Fear? Expectations? All the above?

For me, hard decisions don’t have to be about anything monumental.  As a kid, deciding between chocolate bars with my quarter allowance (yes, this dates me) could be hard.  What should I get – 5 jaw breakers or an Oh Henry!  What about those new and unfamiliar but really interesting looking ones behind the licorice?  I’d spend hour-long minutes deciding.

Dan and Chip Heath wrote a book on the secret behind making hard decisions less hard.  In Decisive, they looked at current research about decision-making and found that there are really only 2 reasons decisions can be hard, and only 2 things we need to focus on to make them much less hard.

Decisions are hard because:

  1. We prefer what we already know.  The Heaths call this the “exposure principle”, and happens because we develop a preference for things that are familiar to us, simply by being exposed to them previously.  I know I like Oh Henry! And don’t want to waste my precious quarter on a new unknown; it would be so much easier to simply go with Oh Henry!
  2. We find losses more painful than gains are pleasant.  This they term “loss-aversion”. Thinking about possibly not liking the new candy, and therefore wasting my quarter, is more painful than experiencing something new.

The thing about going with what we are familiar with may reduce our risk of loss, but it will also reduce our opportunities to experience something more.  It’s likely that experiencing the new and unfamiliar candy wouldn’t really deepen my awareness and broaden my horizons; but it may – my attitude of trying something new is a great first step in that direction, and – seriously – begins to build a habit of going for more.

How can we turn this around?  The Heaths suggest building in “tripwires” to remind ourselves that a decision can be changed.  They suggest two strategies:

  1. Choices always involve trade-offs; when faced with a decision, we need to know all our options, rather than those we are most familiar with. I can buy one less jaw-breaker and try a small amount of the new candy, or simply go with the new candy and same some of my quarter for next week; or go for broke and blow the whole quarter on the new candy. We need to remind ourselves that we always have multiple options.
  2. Know what is truly important to us.  What at this moment takes priority – Comfort? Security? Adventure? If what I really need is comfort right now, then I’ll go for Oh Henry!, keeping the other in mind for another day.

The key to turning this around for ourselves the next time we’re faced with a hard decision is to look outside ourselves for all the options, and inside ourselves for what is truly important to us at that time.

For more on making decisions, read my newsletter Acton Expresses Priorities – Mahatma Ghandi.

TED  – How to make hard choices

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Quote of the Week
The hardest thing about the road not taken is that you never know where
it might have led.

– Lisa Wingate

Action Expresses Priorities – Mahatma Gandhi

This week I’m going to start with a quote, from Bradley Whitford, actor and political activist.

Take action. Every story you’ve ever connected with, every leader you’ve ever admired, every puny little thing that you’ve ever accomplished is the result of takingaction.

Taking action is something political activists know about.  Sometimes for the rest of us, even if we want to take action, that isn’t what’s stopping us.  What’s stopping us is self-doubt.

We are all faced from time to time with a choice, and whatever we choose means letting go of something else.  A better job means letting go of a satisfying one; a marriage means letting go of the freedom of being alone; becoming a parent means letting go of a lot of freedoms.  We’ve made mistakes and seemingly bad choices before.  What if this is another bad choice?

We make decisions, first and foremost, emotionally. In fact, without emotions, we wouldn’t be able to make any decisions.  Jonah Lehrer in his book How We Decide looks at both scientific and anecdotal evidence that illustrates we need emotions to make decisions about even the most mundane every-day things.

Emotions let us know when something is important to us.  Without it, we don’t know.  In a study by neurologist Antonio Damasio of one of his patients who suffered a brain injury that impacted that area of the brain responsible for emotions, he found that his patient was no longer able to make decisions, even though his IQ remained the same.  Nothing was more or less important, more or less meaningful, and as a result it became a daily chore even to decide on which pen to use.

We make decisions using our reason, our emotions, and our experience.  Whether we rely mostly on our reason or our emotions depends on the decision we need to make. If it’s about a stock, then reason is more likely; if it’s about something that is complex and really important to us, like whether or not to have children, then our emotions take the lead.

Catherine Price suggests some steps to guide you in making the right choice and taking action. In a condensed form, here is what she suggests.

1. Reflect. If you don’t reflect on what you really need and want, then you are almost always going to end up making a bad decision.  What will changing your job mean for you – a different career, or a different boss? For the answer to this, you need to consult your feelings.

2. Verify.  Once you know what you really want, check out what you’ll actually get and how close it will be to satisfying what you want.  Here is where reason is critical.

3. Consult your ‘gut’.   This is where you need to check in with your inner wisdom to see how this decision sits within you.  This is also where ‘thinking’ can make inner knowing inaccessible.  You can’t rush this.

4. Establish rules or boundaries. Make sure you don’t end up violating some other part of your life that is important to you.  For instance, will taking a new job mean not being able to see your mother every week?

5. ‘Measure twice, cut once’.  Take one last look to make sure you have what you need to decide. It’s a lot less painful to discover what you’ve missed now than after you act.

6. Act.  Now it’s time to act.  You’ve done your due diligence, you’ve aligned your mind and your values, you’ve done everything you could do to really support youractions.  Now it’s time to drop all fears and worries, and take the plunge.  For sure, you’ll find something you could have done better.  That’s for round 2.

Notice how making a decision is a dance between our heart and our head?  When aligned, our decisions will be the best they can be and we will learn to trust ourselves in the process.

Take Action !  Tony Robins

 

Is Work Making You Sick?

It seems like a funny question to ask but is your workplace making you sick? Yes, it can happen! In fact, aching muscles, loss of appetite, restless sleep, and a complete sense of exhaustion can all be contributed to workplace stress and yes- this is medically proven. So, what happens when you need to make money but the stress associated with your job, your co-workers’ negativity, etc. all start to cause you to feel physically ill?

Well, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), job stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workplace, leaving few workers untouched. For example, studies report the following:

  • One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. -Northwestern National Life
  • Three-fourths of employees believe the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago. -Princeton Survey Research Associates
  • Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor-more so than even financial problems or family problems. -St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co.

So, to answer your question, what can be done? Well…. a lot can be done but you have to be willing to address the issue(s) at hand.

To start, ask yourself if you are really balancing your work life with your personal life. Are you answering emails on your day off? Are you working double shifts all the time? Are there certain work activities that can be cut back upon?

Second, have you tried mediation? Real mediation. Don’t sit for five minutes a month and state that you mediate. You don’t. You have to understand why you need to mediate, the fundamental principals, and – like anything- dedicate time to practice it. Being “too busy” isn’t a good enough excuse, either.

Finally, give yourself permission to be upset. We try to hide, shadow, or pretend that we are not stressed out. Well, this “tactic” only adds to our stress. The best thing you can do for yourself is to acknowledge how you feel, the environment contributing to it, and then figure out a plan as to how to approach the same situation (from a positive manner) going forward. Addressing the issue head-on only helps a situation, avoiding it hurts the situation.

Remember, you’re not alone but you don’t have to suffer in silence. Address it, mediate and develop a better plan for balancing your personal and professional life.

Negative Energy & You

The Mayo Clinic has said it best. Positive people and positive energy benefit your health. In their own research, the Clinic has published that a positive attitude and energy force benefits your health in the following ways;

Increased life span
Lower rates of depression
Lower levels of distress
Greater resistance to the common cold
Better psychological and physical well-being
Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
But what happens when you’re trying to cope with life, work stress, personal stress, and so forth? What happens when people who you see daily are simply negative? Well, it can rub off on you and impact your mental and physical health!

I think the best way to deal with negative aspects of life, or negative people in general, is to simply be grateful and appreciative! I recently read that “people that don’t appreciate the nuances of their lives live in a constant state of lacking. And it’s really difficult to live a positive life this way.”

I believe that when we begin to be grateful and appreciate everything in our lives, we start to allow ourselves, and our attitudes, to shift from one of selfishness to one of appreciation. This appreciation rubs off on others and helps us to remain positive and helps others around us do the same.

So, on this Tuesday, stay grateful!

Kindness And Happiness – With One Comes The Other

I was in a hurry to get home this morning, and a pedestrian stopped and waived me through, even though she had the right of way. I felt so grateful for that momentary act of kindness that I found myself relaxing, enjoying the day.  We all know the feeling; such a simple and momentary act can change a day from gloomy to bright.

Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
An act of kindness is a spontaneous gesture of goodwill towards someone or something – our fellow humans, the animal kingdom, and the kingdom of nature.

Shawn Achor shows in this Ted Talk that we can literally rewire our brain for happiness by acting kindly for 2 minutes a day.  So many of us assume that our level of happiness is predicted by our external world; but the reality is that only 10% is predicted this way. 90% is predicted by how our brain processes the world. If we change this 90%, we can change our level of happiness.

In his studies of business and schools around the world, Achor found that people believed the formula for happiness was: working harder leads to becoming more successful which in turn leads to becoming happier. However, there is an inherent problem with this formula – which is that happiness with this formula is actually unattainable because the goal keeps changing: when you register a success, in order to maintain a feeling of happiness, you will need to become increasingly successful, ad infinitum.

Instead, Achor suggests reversing the formula:  Raise our level of positivity in the present leading to better performance, creativity, intelligence and energy leading in turn to better success in every way. When we’re happy, our levels of Dopamine rise, and Dopamine turns on all the learning centres in our brain, letting us to adapt to the world in a better way.

He and his team have shown that all it takes is 2 minutes every day for 21 days to rewire our brain for happiness.  One of the things we can do every day is one random or conscious act of kindness.

Paying it forward is what we do when we perform a random act of kindness.  It’s the idea that when someone does something kind for us, instead of giving back to that person, we “pay it forward” to another.  This idea isn’t new, and yet it never gets old once we incorporate it into our lives.  For inspiration, watch or re-watch the movie of that name Pay it Forward”.

If you want to increase your happiness, try one of these for 2 minutes for the next 21 days:

  • Note three things – specific things – that happened in your day today that you are grateful for
  • Journal about one positive experience that happened to you today,
  • Meditate on your breath for 2 minutes,
  • Do one random or conscious act of kindness.

Kindness Boomerang

Quote of the Week
Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
-Lao Tzu

Emotional Wellness At Work

As we head back to work tomorrow, on Monday, we have to ask ourselves “is this job stressing me out?” Well, it could be. Or something else is stressing you out and you are projecting it as a work thing. Regardless of the why, here is the “how” when it comes to not stressing out on Monday morning when it comes time to go to work.

First, ask yourself how many times in the last two weeks you’ve been late. Are you late because you are avoiding going to work or are you late because there is something else preventing you from getting out the door. Consider your environment and your actions. If you can’t get to work on time because of stress at home, it has to be handled. If you can’t get to work on time because you are avoiding going in, it has to be addressed. Being late is only going to add to your stress.

Second, ask yourself if you’ve been magnifying a problem. Have you been leaping to conclusions or applying emotional reasoning? Take the time to stop, breathe, reflect, and choose how to move forward. Magnifying a problem will make it seem worse than it may actually be and this will cause more stress and amplify anxiety. Take a breath and consider your state of mind vs. actual perspective of a problem.

Finally, address issues with co-workers directly but without pointing fingers. Don’t approach using “you”, but approach using “I”. “I don’t feel comfortable when you talk about my lack of a college degree.” , “I feel very rushed when you tell me my deadline is Tuesday and then expect me to have it completed Monday morning.” Be direct without being confrontational. By addressing issues head-on, you do eliminate a lot of unneeded stress.

Want to know more? Please take advantage of my FREE 7 Days of Meditation Work course. You can read more about it here: http://thejoyofliving.co/uncategorized/7-days-of-free-meditation-work/

Loneliness

Loneliness is an experience that is most often painful and frightening for us.  In Deepak Chopra’s words in Living Without Loneliness, the state of loneliness can be crippling.  It can be crippling when we feel alone, and even more crippling when we fear being alone in the future.  Then, it can loom over us like a dark cloud.

Deepak’s answer to loneliness or our fear of it is to experience our own fullness; that our fear is really based on our own inner gaps and sense of personal lacking.  He offers three steps to overcome this sense of inner dread:

  • Have a vision – your own personal vision, and devote time to your vision every day. Your vision may be short-term or long-term; big or small. What’s important is that you bring it into your day, today, and fill your day with it.  Here’s a small vision for myself today that is part of a greater vision: complete my newsletter, which is part of my larger vision of connecting with spiritual people in a meaningful way.
  • Develop fulfilling relationships – they can be social, intimate, short-term or long-term.  The key is how they fulfil you and the other as people and spiritual beings. However long a relationship lasts, it can only be fulfilling if we build on it, developing true connection with the other.
  • View your life as a process – we hear “live in the Now” a lot these days. It’s a truism that has become a cliché as a result.  What it means is to appreciate the process of our life unfolding rather than living always for some future goal, or avoiding some future fear.
Love and Aloneness – Osho

Being lonely comes from feeling a lack within ourselves.  Being fulfilled comes from living fully as a human being every day. If you can look within, and feel satisfied, then you are living fully.

In Six Kinds of Loneliness, Pema Chodron talks about the “Middle Way”, a way of living without a need to resolve problems.  She also calls this “the ultimate loneliness”.  When we live fully in this way, loneliness is it’s own reward.

Adyashanti – Aloneness in action