Making Joy a Habit

We can choose joy.  Joy is innate in every one of us and we can train our minds and attention to develop this seed potential.

Often, our attention quickly and easily focuses on problems, flaws, the lack in our lives, and things to worry about.  As neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D. says, “Because negative experiences have generally had more impact on survival than positive ones, the brain has evolved to register them more readily.  There is a negativity bias to the brain.  The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and like Teflon for positive ones.”  Neuroscience research is showing us that we can change this circuitry and, thus, greatly improve our lives. Continue reading “Making Joy a Habit”

Peace, Love, and Your Brain

Oxytocin is a chemical that’s released in the brain that produces feelings of love, trust, ease, and contentment. Sometimes called the bonding hormone, oxytocin courses through the bloodstream, for example, when we give or receive love and when we experience safe and pleasurable connections with others. We experience well-being and a sense that everything is okay. Trust opens in us. We relax and feel comfortable. Oxytocin helps to reduce blood pressure and lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. So the release of oxytocin can be an antidote to stress.  Continue reading “Peace, Love, and Your Brain”

Adversity: an Invitation from the Soul

I have been up to my ears in caregiving with my mother, my mother-in-law has been very ill and is in the final days of her life, and I broke two fingers on my right hand 2 ½ weeks ago. I’ve also encountered some glitches in the last phase of getting my caregiving book ready for publication. Clearly, this is one of those challenging periods – difficult to be sure, but truly rich with lessons and possibilities for growth.

I’m focusing on the “gifts” in this article because I find that deeply acknowledging how we are growing and changing in the midst of adversity strengthens and empowers us. We begin to see the deeper meaning in all of our experiences and find that we are more than unfortunate victims of circumstance. Continue reading “Adversity: an Invitation from the Soul”

Going on Being

I love the phrase “going on being.”  It was coined by psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott to refer to the uninterrupted flow of authentic expression that can frequently be seen in children.  Children and adults who have the capacity to “go on being” are often relaxed, spontaneous, open, responsive, and resilient.  They have a capacity for awe, wonder, and joy, and are comfortable in their own skin. Continue reading “Going on Being”

Tools For Resilience

We can enhance our capacity to be more resilient in the face of life’s small and great challenges.  Resilience is a potential within all of us to rebound from stress and feelings of fear and overwhelm.  I’ve always been impressed by people who can spring back from great difficulty, and over the years have explored ways to strengthen resilience in myself and others. Continue reading “Tools For Resilience”

Staying In The Day

My daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2012 when she was in the fifth month of her fourth pregnancy. A few days before the baby was born, her online journal read, “I really need to stay in the day right now.” I responded to her entry with, “Yes – so wise – that’s where the peace is.” As I wrote that, I realized that my message was a reminder for me, as well. Continue reading “Staying In The Day”

The Power Of Empathy

“Empathy dissolves alienation.”
– Carl Rogers, psychologist and author

We all long to be seen for who we really are, to be heard, to be…loved.  As children, few of us received the empathic connections that we deeply needed.  Our intrinsic, authentic selves were often unseen or not appreciated.  Our primary caregivers didn’t have the capacity to see us beyond their own expectations, fears, and conditioning.  We were empathy-deprived, which can lead to a sense of unworthiness and emptiness.  As adults we may find ourselves with a deep ache inside, hungry for love and attention. Continue reading “The Power Of Empathy”

Creating Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries enable us to have a sense of ourselves; they delineate where we end and others begin.  They allow us to identify our differences from others and to acknowledge that we have separate perceptions, thoughts, and feelings.  We know who we are in relation to others when we have healthy boundaries.  We can respond from a place of clarity and strength.  Personal boundaries give us a foundation for healthy relating. Continue reading “Creating Healthy Boundaries”

The Power of “NO”

Unreservedly saying yes to others and failing to establish good boundaries often means that we’re saying no to our own wants and needs.  We’re not acting on our own behalf, and we suffer every time we abandon ourselves in this way.I was a great yes person.  I was conditioned, as many of us were, by my family and culture to take care of others, put their needs before my own, and to always be generous and kind.  I was taught that my needs, especially if they were contrary to what was expected of me, weren’t very important and, in fact, that I was selfish if I said yes to myself and no to others. Continue reading “The Power of “NO””

“In the Moment” Practices

Guided imagery is a powerful psychospiritual tool that has many applications. There are simple ways that you can use self-guided imagery in your personal and professional life to evoke positive emotions, ignite your creativity, ground and center you, and help you deal with challenges of all kinds.  Take a few deep breaths before you begin each practice.  Spend as little or as much time as you’d like with each one. Continue reading ““In the Moment” Practices”