Thursday, 25 November 2010

What it means to Grow Up

According to developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, there are several psychosocial stages that we must successfully navigate in childhood in order to arrive at adulthood fully prepared for life. These tasks include: 1) learning to trust others, as well as in the overall goodness of our lives; 2) learning to operate as a separate, autonomous being; 3) learning to take appropriate risks that demonstrate initiative and ingenuity; 4) gaining a sense of competence and mastery regarding the basic challenges of life; and 5) developing a consistent personal identity. As long as we remain incomplete on any of these tasks, the development of a cohesive and solid sense of self is thwarted.

This much-desired “solid sense of self” includes:
1) the capacity to experience a wide variety of feelings, as well as an ability to soothe painful feelings in a positive way;
2) the ability to express your thoughts and feelings authentically to another person without too much fear of either being engulfed or abandoned;
3) the capacity to tolerate your own aloneness;
4) a healthy sense of entitlement that life holds good things for you and that you deserve to have them;
5) the ability to assert your individuality and authenticity in the world; and
6) a stability of self, meaning that you are always aware that you are the same person regardless of who you are with, what you are doing, or the current circumstances (both good and bad) of your life.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

12 Ways to Turn Around a Terrible Day

We all have lousy days. You know the kind I mean — problem clients, cranky co-workers, bad evaluations or personal life stress collide and make for a really epic bad mood (and for some reason it always seems to be raining). So what can you do when the universe seems to conspire to make your life unpleasant? Gretchen Rubin, author ofThe Happiness Project, comes to the rescue with tips, and not just two or three. On her blog she offers a whopping 12 ways to deal with a terrible day (which is good, sometimes you need all the help you can get.)
  • Resist the urge to “treat” yourself. Often, the things we choose as “treats” aren’t good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt, loss of control, and other negative consequences just deepen the lousiness of the day.
  • Do something nice for someone else. “Do good, feel good” – this really works. Be selfless, if only for selfish reasons.
  • Distract yourself. When my older daughter was born, she had to be in Neonatal Intensive Care for a week. I spent every hour at the hospital, until my husband dragged me away to go to an afternoon movie. I didn’t want to go, but afterward, I realized that I was much better able to cope with the situation after having had a bit of relief.
  • Seek inner peace through outer order. Soothe yourself by tackling a messy closet, an untidy desk, or crowded countertops. The sense of tangible progress, control, and orderliness can be a comfort.
  • Tell yourself, “Well, at least I…” Get some things accomplished. Yes, you had a horrible day, but at least you went to the gym, or played with your kids, or walked the dog, or recycled.
  • Exercise is an extremely effective mood booster – but be careful of exercise that allows you to ruminate. For example, if I go for a walk when I’m upset about something, I often end up feeling worse, because the walk provides me with uninterrupted time in which to dwell obsessively on my troubles.
  • Stay in contact. When you’re having a lousy day, it’s tempting to retreat into isolation. Studies show, though, that contact with other people boosts mood.
  • Things really will look brighter in the morning. Go to bed early and start the next day anew. Also, sleep deprivation puts a drag on mood in the best of circumstances, so a little extra sleep will do you good.
  • Remind yourself of your other identities. If you feel like a loser at work, send out a blast email to engage with college friends. If you think members of the PTA are mad at you, don’t miss the spinning class where everyone knows and likes you.
  • Keep perspective. Ask yourself: “Will this matter in a month? In a year?”
  • Write it down. When something horrible is consuming my mind, I find that if I write up a paragraph or two about the situation, I get immense relief.
  • Be grateful. Remind yourself that a lousy day isn’t acatastrophic day. Be grateful that you’re still on the “lousy” spectrum. Probably, things could be worse.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Mindfulness - Thich Nhat Hanh

Can you share with us how mindfulness plays a role in your everyday life?
Mindfulness makes life beautiful and meaningful. When I am mindful of my in-and-out breath and relax my whole body, I am in touch with how good it is to be alive. I am in touch with my state of health and feel grateful for everything that is going well in my body. Then with mindfulness I can be aware of the beauty of the sky, the smile of the flower, the singing of the birds. I can be deeply in touch with my own suffering and hold it with love and tenderness, rather than suppressing it or running from it. Because I can be truly present for myself, I can be truly present for those I live with, listening deeply to them and speaking words that inspire hope and self-confidence. In this way, I can bring joy to someone each morning and relieve the pain of someone each afternoon.