As the saying goes, change is the only constant. Given this truth, why is change so stressful?
The brain has a function similar to a motion stabilizer on a video camera. With this feature, the videographer can be jostled and bumped while filming without creating footage that leaves the viewer feeling queasy. Like a Steadicam, the brain orients towards stability, giving you a sense of calm while glossing over the moment-to-moment changes happening all around you. But when a big change hits, you feel jarred and destabilized. Continue reading
Imagine that a dear friend calls you in distress. How would you respond? What would you say? What would your tone of voice sound like? Now, consider how you talk to yourself when you are distraught, or when you’ve made a mistake. Do you treat yourself with the same kindness and warmth you would offer to a friend? Is it easier to be understanding and kind toward someone else than to yourself?
If you tend to approach yourself with criticism and harshness, consider how you can be a better friend to yourself. When you support a friend, you likely see your friend more holistically. You see your friend’s struggles and strengths. You see his/her mistakes in a broader context. You can be merciful toward your friend. How might you bring this Friend Mindset to your own self-observation? Continue reading
I was fortunate to spend this Independence Day hiking in Golden, Colorado. While delighting in our purple mountain majesties, I was reminded that taking frequent walks is one of the best strategies for maintaining independence as long as possible with age. Continue reading
One of the most useful techniques to quickly calm yourself is to exhale deeply. This simple action can soothe the body’s alarm, the sympathetic nervous system, and activate the all-clear signal, the parasympathetic nervous system. A deep exhalation leaves you calmer and thinking more clearly. Use the muscles around your lungs to push the air all the way out of your lungs. Take a moment and try this now.
When a deadline looms, it can be hard to take your foot off the gas pedal. The dominant paradigm is that we have to work harder and longer to do our best work. But neuroscience suggests that this approach is misguided.
Downtime helps the brain do its best work. Your brain prefers interval training to marathon work sessions. During breaks, your brain is working almost as hard behind the scenes as when your mind focuses on the task at hand. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang engagingly summarizes this research in his book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.
Try these downtime options to access your most productive and creative work.
One of your most important senses is one you’ve probably never heard of: proprioception. You can experience your proprioception by closing your eyes and trying to stand balanced on one foot. Without visual input, proprioception is the inner awareness of your body that allows you to keep your balance. You might take for granted that your brain knows where your feet are, but without ongoing stimulation into this feedback loop as you age, this sense begins to fail and the risks of falls and injury increase.
It is impossible to be in relationship without hurting each other from time to time. When we cause harm, repairing the connection requires a heartfelt apology. The Spanish phrase, “lo siento,” can be translated “I’m sorry” or “I feel it.” Genuine apology is difficult, because usually we don’t want to feel it.
By now, most people have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions. Did you try to start a new habit this year? Have you stuck with it? If so, you probably have some good strategies for overcoming setbacks.
Your brain and body are designed to interfere with your attempts to develop new habits. Most of what you do any given day happens via autopilot. This is effective for accomplishing your usual routines, but it derails attempts to establish new behaviors.
Imagine that your daily thoughts and actions are like a long freight train traveling down a track. The momentum keeps the train moving at a steady clip. Developing a new habit is like inserting a new train car somewhere into the line-up while the train is moving!
Whether or not you’re aware of it, you have an internal narrative that drives how you approach your life. It creates your mindset and thus impacts your thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Become aware of the underlying story you tell yourself. How does your story begin? What are the conflicts and turning points in your narrative? Are you the victim of your story or its hero?
Most winter holidays focus on the theme of Light in the Darkness. Light inspires hope whether you are celebrating the birth of Christ, the sustaining oil of Hanukkah, or light during the longest night of the year on the Winter Solstice. Sparkling holiday lights in the neighborhood brighten otherwise bleak winter nights. The warmth of a fire leaves you feeling cozy especially when it’s cold outside.
As the days grow shorter and you notice the contrast of light in the darkness, consider who helps you sustain your inner light. During the darkest times in your life, who brightened your spirits? Who held hope when you struggled to find it? When you see others lost in darkness, what can you do to be a beacon of hope for them?