Tag Archive: happiness

Mindfulness and Mindlessness

I meditate every morning – for at least half an hour. Sometimes, I end up gaining energy and a kind of delightful groundedness from it that can carry me through the rest of the day. Sometimes, I feel it’s little more than sleeping sitting up, where the entire time can go by in a blink.

Ellen Langer would call the first instance one of mindfulness, and the second one of mindlessness.  Ms. Langer is a social psychologist at Harvard University, who has studied Mindfulness and what she calls Mindlessness since at least the 1970’s.  In a recent podcast, she spoke about what mindfulness really means for her.

She defines Mindfulness as the simple act of actively noticing things. For her, being mindful doesn’t necessarily involve meditating or yoga, or any particular recommended way of being. All of these things can be mindful, and they can also be unmindful, depending on how we are while we do them.

From her studies, experiments and research, she concludes that most of us are mindless most of the time, and that this mindlessness is at least a major contributor to illness and unhappiness in our lives.

In one study, for instance, which she terms Counter-Clockwise, she has a group of men in their 80’s live in a retreat for a week that has been retrofitted to around 20 years earlier. These men were to act as if this retrofit were in the present (i.e., as if they were 20 years younger).  What she discovered, by measuring their physical and emotional well-being after that week, was that they not only felt 20 years younger, but that their hearing, vision, memory and strength had all significantly improved.

Her work addresses the mind/body question in an intriguing way: most of us still separate the mind from the body – looking at how the mind influences the body and vice versa.  She doesn’t make this distinction. Instead, she sees mind and body as inseparable.

With this perspective, the Placebo can be seen as a powerful and valid drug instead of a mistake; one that unlocks our brain’s inner pharmacy, and gives us mastery over our own health. How empowering that is!

I could talk endlessly about the implications and applications stated and implied by Ms. Langer that come from her approach and perspective, but will offer up one that we can all use right away: re-invigorating our personal relationships.

Most, if not all, of us can find ourselves getting too used to our life partners.  The prevailing wisdom when that happens is to change things up; to freshen that relationship by making it new again.  And some people manage to do that with success.  Or, you can try this:

Every day for a week, make a point of actively noticing 5 things about your partner. For instance, you might notice today that he or she carefully folded their pajamas before leaving for work. What you notice doesn’t have to be profound; it simply needs to be something you actively engage in in the moment.

What happens?  A revitalized connection to your partner.


Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .


Breaking up with Illusion

I sat for three weeks forcing myself every day to write another line of the copy I needed to update my website. The thought of writing this copy was so stress-making that I felt frozen to my chair.  But, because it was important to me for many reasons – not the least of which was doing what I teach others to do – I was able to finish it.

I was frozen because all I could think of were the number of times I’ve tried things and failed.  I kept thinking – over and over until I made myself stop, or distracted myself with other things – this time will be no different. It’s like when you’re so stuck you can’t see the end, or so depressed you can’t see the possibility of change.

I kept playing that same old tape – over and over – freezing myself into near immobility.

That voice inside me that sapped my energy and willingness to move is called a Pretender Voice.

A Pretender Voice is a Shamanic term for a false and self-defeating thoughts we have that prevents us from moving, living and being present. It’s a “pretender” because it’s telling us lies about ourselves.

“This isn’t going to work!” or “I’m no good at this!” Those are Pretender Voices.  They aren’t real!

Every Pretender Voice is really an illusion – a dark fantasy, perhaps something I told myself or was told when I was young. It’s only power comes from my willingness to let it take charge. To be the top dog in my dysfunctional relationship with it.

There is only one way to end a dysfunctional relationship where you know one party will never change:  Break up with it!

That Pretender Voice will never change.  But I can replace it with something I know is true or truer. And that’s how I managed to finish that copy.

“This isn’t going to work!” 
Really!  I’ve examined why it didn’t work before, done my research, made significant changes.  Maybe it won’t be a total success, but at the very least, I’ll learn some important things from this effort that will get me closer next time around.
“I’m no good at this!”
Probably true when I began. Not nearly as true now. And I have the feedback to prove it.

We all have Pretender Voices. Which ones are getting in the way of your happiness that you need to break up with?Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Dr Phil – Overcoming Negative Voices

Quote of the Week
The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
-Steve Maraboli

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Is It Depression or Something Else?


Many celebrities are talking about the positive mental health movement. They want to take away the stigma of mental health challenges and encourage everyone to be more proactive. While I was thinking about today’s post, I came across a story on a popular TV show that dealt with depression…. only the lady didn’t have depression. In fact, she had pancreatic cancer! Her psychiatrist was seeing her for other reasons, noticed the change, and encouraged a follow-up with her doctor.

Depression is serious on its own, but sometimes there are underlining medical issues that need to be considered (or ruled out) before anyone starts treatment for depression. We tend not to think about underlining medical causes for depression because, well – we tend to be busy people with varied stressors within our lives. Depression can happen or we can be hiding it for years, or we don’t want to deal with the stigma of seeing a mental health professional and then we decide to simply “live with it”.

I’m here to tell you, today, that simply “living with it” isn’t a good option because you deserve to address your happiness – or, in rare cases, an underlining medical condition!

I am GIVING AWAY online therapy consultations. I can help you discover what the online therapy benefits are and you get to test-drive my services and see if we are a good match. To learn more about me, my programs, and read my free blog- please click here: http://thejoyofliving.co/programs/