In recent decades, the popularity of self-help has made the discovery of life purpose part of our lexicon but also an inadvertent cause of pain. If no clear answer arises for the seeker, suffering sets in. People think they are flawed if no cosmic assignment is relegated to them.
First, it’s absolutely vital that we acknowledge that we are not alone in this ‘madness’, that the holidays come around every year come what may. There is no escape but there are plenty of tried and tested techniques to assuage the stress, anxiety and exhaustion that comes along with it.
The line between “intended” and “unintended” pregnancy can be blurred. Some unintended pregnancies can lead to wanted births, and some intended pregnancies are aborted. But women should not be blamed for getting pregnant accidentally, because factors outside their control are often involved.
It's obvious that the holiday season is upon us. The idea is to thrive and enjoy during this time rather than just survive. Give yourself two great gifts for the next weeks - a lack of stress and actually celebrating the true spirit of this time of year – joy, love, and peace.
As we get older our physical and mental abilities decline, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Research suggests that the way we live our lives - our diets, our exercise regimes - can have a big impact on how we age. And it’s not just about the things we do to age well, it’s also about the things we avoid.
Every day, we are confronted with choices about how to spend our money. Whether it’s thinking about picking up the tab at a group lunch or when a charity calls asking for a donation, we are faced with the decision to behave generously or not.
Anyone with siblings knows they can differ from us in maddening ways. They share our parents and our family history, but their personalities can be so different. Birth order offers an intuitively appealing explanation for these perplexing differences.
The smell of cinnamon wafts through the air. My guard is down; resistance is futile. Like a zombie, I roll my luggage across the airport food court and stand in line to pay too much for what I don’t even want, a diet-killing Cinnabon.
Recent media reports have raised questions over the therapy undergone by several people making allegations of historical sexual abuse against prominent public figures. In particular, it has been suggested that certain forms of therapy run a high risk of unintentionally generating false memories of sexual abuse.
Many people still operate with an inner belief that if they try harder to be better — the best, perfect — then everything will be so much better in all areas of their lives. So they take a vow: “I have to be perfect and will be critical of myself until I am.”
The best advice I’ve ever heard is what I will tell you right now: When something in your life goes wrong, look for the lesson that you can learn from this event. Somewhere there is energy that is trying to teach you something.
Can something as simple as watching movies—and empathizing with fictional characters—help generate more compassion and understanding in the real world?
Trusting your soul requires immense courage when you are operating as an ego. That is because the ego takes its job very seriously. It was given the task of keeping the body safe from harm, and it forgot that it was performing this service on behalf of the soul...
The history of our species is brutal, tragic in the cruelty we have afflicted upon one another, upon other species, and upon Earth herself. Our situation has come to a critical stage. Are there some heretofore hidden processes in us that we could activate, some homeopathic remedies for our violence that could stimulate more empathy, connectedness, and love?
For the majority of people if they turned on a radio and the station was negative and critical, fearful, whining, or complaining they would turn it off. Most people would take control of the situation and choose something that would be more enjoyable and more productive. You may wish to take some time to tune in and really become aware of the background station that you are tuned into...
I closed my eyes, preparing to list off my offenses. Within minutes, I felt complete forgiveness for all my actions! My first thought was, “Wait. This was too easy! I haven’t worked and sweated hard enough to earn complete forgiveness. I haven’t even gone through the whole list.”
In my daily work as a therapist/coach I've discovered there is one thing that we all have in common. We are all, everyone including me, so amazingly unkind and hard on ourselves. The truth is, I have never met anyone who is not super critical of themselves and who doesn't have unrealistic expectations when it comes to being a so-called "perfect" human being.
We tend to take life seriously… all the problems, challenges, crises… all of these seem to be like life and death situations, and in some cases they are. Yet as Shakespeare told us years ago, all the world is a stage, and we are all players or actors upon this earth.
Do you regret choices you’ve made, opportunities you think you’ve lost, time you see as wasted? If you’re vigorously shaking your head up and down, please stop and listen a moment. You’re succumbing to self-condemnation. When we do, we cultivate a downward-spiraling sense of self-worth...
We must understand our fears if we really want to move on because that understanding is the prerequisite to self-knowledge, which alone is the only requirement for a harmonious relationship – with ourselves. Constant fear prevents us from living our true purpose. We must learn that fear is the basis of all man’s problems...
You might think that people know you are grateful, so you don’t have to share it. But remember that expressing your gratitude is a special gift for you as well. I feel very far from perfect in remembering to say thank you, and yet it has become something that is very important to me...
We all know when we are following our passion or our heart’s desire because it feels right. Everyone has experienced this feeling of ‘rightness’ at some time in his/her life. It’s called integrity. And it’s easy to recognize. It’s a sense of real comfort. A feeling that life is good and that life is moving freely in and through you.
For many, the first sign of difficulties can be enough for them to become discouraged and stop doing what they intended, while others find the determination to discover another way to prevail. Rather than giving up, they look for the opportunity within the challenge—and it’s there, always.
When circumstances in our lives are too overwhelming, chaotic, frightening, or out of our control, the best response, based on courageous wisdom, is to release the circumstances. This is not always easy, but it can be done. This exercise will help you give form to your feelings and provide you tools for surrender.
No one does this conscious-living thing perfectly, so the idea isn’t to always be grounded in the present, but to be there as often as possible, certainly more often than not; know when you’re slipping out of it; and be able to bring yourself back as quickly as possible.
“You owe me” is resentment. “I owe you” is guilt. And the longer our interactions go on like this, the more impoverished we become. We lose our balance, the heart is thrown askew. The gut tightens. The eyes cannot open fully. But forgiveness rebalances the mind and brings kindness to the senses.
It was Voltaire who said: “perfect is the enemy of the good” – and he should know. A strident critic of existential perfection, Voltaire spent much of his working life attacking the notion of a world imbued by flawless divinity.
Holding the hummingbird was a gift. It was an awesome privilege to be given thirty unforgettable minutes when time stood still and I held the most exquisite creature in my hands, felt its warmth, and marveled at its magnificence.
Could it finally be time in the evolution of humanity to revisit our belief in the value of suffering? Many religions and belief systems accept suffering as an inescapable reality, and even glorify it. Christians stoically sing of bearing the old rugged cross. Hindus justify poverty and disease as the paying off of karma...
When children expect aggression from others, it may cause them to be overly aggressive themselves, a new study finds. While the pattern is more common in some cultures than others, a four-year longitudinal study involving 1,299 children and their parents finds it is true in 12 different cultural groups from nine countries around the globe.
Think of the last time you ate some chocolate. Did you feel you had to sneak it? Did you eat too much and regret it afterward? Did you hog down the lot of the precious morsels? And how did you feel after your escapade? Were you able to enjoy the chocolate fully? I certainly hope so!
We live in a time of positive psychology, where the path to happiness is apparently paved with the right thoughts. At its most bizarre, this manifests itself in the popularity of snake oil salesmen like Deepak Chopra, who – for a healthy fee – will grant you eternal youth, and The Secret, which using hitherto unknown laws of physics will bring you health, wealth and happiness.
One morning Rose began our session by saying it was time for me to take a very important journey. “It’s a journey we all must take within this lifetime. It’s the journey that takes us from being a child to becoming an adult. And what you need to make this journey are the powers of love and forgiveness.”
A common experience: you are walking down the street and someone is walking in the opposite direction toward you. You see him but he does not see you. He is texting or looking at his cellphone. He is distracted, trying to do two things at the same time, walking and communicating.
The sentencing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the Boston Marathon bombing and the sad aftermath of Dylann Roof’s racial killings in Charleston, South Carolina have raised the question of forgiveness in an acute fashion.
A fellow set out to find a particular saint who lived in a remote village. The shopkeeper told him he would find the saint under a certain tree, teaching disciples. Excited, the seeker made his way to tree, but instead of finding the saint he saw a drunkard blabbing with a couple of guys.
“What was going on? What do you want?” She looked up at me and wailed, “I just want to be happy.” Don’t we all? No matter who we are or what our circumstances, isn’t that what we each long for? Happiness, the experience of the sheer joy of being alive.
When we cut through the smoke and mirrors of guilt, we can see that the thoughts and emotions that ignite guilt are all made up. When our self-awareness “muscles” strengthen, we find that we’re less apt to fall into the default pattern of simply reacting to the unconscious flow of our thoughts and emotions.
It has been well established that people have a “bias blind spot,” meaning that they are less likely to detect bias in themselves than others. However, it hasn’t been clear how blind we are to our own actual degree of bias, and how many of us think we are less biased than others.
Last week Toby Porter, CEO of the NGO HelpAge, went to Nepal to meet with people recovering from the earthquakes that have devastated the country. He asked them an interesting question: would you rather we buy you the stuff you need, or would you rather we just give you the money?
Someone with panic disorder does not know how to turn off the false alarm process once it gets going and must endure a terrifying experience of unknown duration, even if there is nothing apparent to fear. We all take in squintillions of units of information daily. Our brains have to filter data so that we can conduct some what rational lives without being overwhelmed.
We do not teach people how to fail in our education system. The purpose of exams is to get questions correct. The people who are rewarded in school are the ones who get the best grades, not the ones who take the biggest risks or the ones who learn from their mistakes.
It’s said that success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. In the modern world of business, that’s not quite true. Increasingly, when things go wrong, CEOs depart, with failure’s paternity quickly ascribed to the boss in the big office.
Your brain does a lot when you are asleep. It’s when you consolidate memories and integrate the things you’ve learned during the day into your existing knowledge structure. We now have lots of evidence that while you are sleeping, specific memories can be reactivated and thus strengthened.
Most differences between family and friends rarely end in serious squabbles. But let the conversation turn to political parties and lively disagreements can get downright ugly.
Imagine you just received a great bit of news at work – a promotion, pay rise, new car, an acceptance letter from the top journal in your field. If you are like me, you would probably like to open your door or pick up your phone and share your happiness with co-workers and friends. But research that colleagues and I have recently carried out suggested you should think twice.
When you’re living an aware life, it’s important to avoid black holes that tend to pull you down into a churning mess of negative emotions. It’s very easy in this hectic world to get sucked into a momentum of negativity until that’s all you can focus on.
Only in my life’s rear-view mirror do I see that I began to write “The Un-Game” long ago. As a cross-culturally naïve eleven-year-old, my world was rocked upon my arrival in New York City with my immigrant family. The assault on my German mind-set felt like an earthquake snatching away all my precious, unquestioned certainty.
The more committed we are to achieving a goal—catching a train, buying a movie ticket, getting groceries—the more likely we are to assume others have exactly the same objective. The new study by New York University psychology researcher Janet Ahn points to the types of assumptions we make about others’ behavior, which may have an impact on social interaction.
A simple experiment with a small group of college students suggests that punishments influence behavior more than rewards. In fact, punishments—in this case, losing money tokens—had a measured impact two to three times great than winning money. The results appear in the journal Cognition.
There are two different types of acknowledgment. There are compliments which are more superficial and then there are deeper appreciations that involve your character and inner qualities. How do you handle acknowledgment from others?
Life teaches us that we cannot be released from powerful, stressful emotions by resisting, ignoring, or repressing them – no matter how hard we try. In fact, life teaches us just the opposite. We learn from experience that resisting, repressing and ignoring unpleasant emotions just tend to make things worse.
Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi once advised, “We must become the change we want to see in the world.” Perhaps if we were each to expand forgiveness, gratitude, and love in our own lives, the collective influence of our healthy, loving relationships would reverberate across our generations and into the future.
Most of us walk around with heads busy as beehives, aware of some thoughts as they come and go but not fully aware of the buzz of mental activity just beneath the surface. Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to stop and ask yourself, What was I thinking?
I have been playing for around twelve years now, and I still take lessons. The best lessons I have are the ones in which I leave feeling like I don’t really know anything about playing at all. During those lessons, my teacher has identified yet another weakness in my playing. I have to learn new skills to overcome those weaknesses to get better.
Disgust is a universal emotion – we all get disgusted by things, just as we all experience other “basic” emotions, such as happiness and sadness. Disgust has many functions. It protects us from products that might cause us harm (food that has gone off), it can give us a moral compass (when we see someone being treated unfairly) and it keeps us away from things that remind us of our animal nature (dead bodies).
Trust. Not trust. Trust. Not trust. The human free will tries to insert its dominion. Trust in a higher power is the most difficult thing to sustain, and the most important thing to sustain. I can’t see angels, but I trust they are there helping me every step of my journey.
Experiments dating back to the 1960s show people have less of a reaction to viewing an unpleasant image or experiencing an electric shock when they know it’s coming than when they’re not expecting it. That’s because uncertainty, a long-known cause of anxiety, makes it difficult to prepare for events or to control them.
“Deviant individuals can exist in almost every society, even in the most strict and ruthless ones such as Nazi Germany. These deviant group members serve as an opposition to the opinions of the majority and can also differ from the majority in their emotional experience.”
Billions of people enjoy music; many feel that they can’t live without it. Why? It’s a question that has puzzled scientists and philosophers for centuries. 2,400 years ago Aristotle wondered, “Why does music, being just sounds, remind us of the states of our soul?”
Many of you have your crown chakra and third eye open and connected to very high vibrational states and yet the heart remains broken, hurt, or only conditionally opened. It is of utmost importance to have a balanced opening and clearing of all your chakras. The more efficiently you heal your unresolved aspects of self...
Stoicism promised that a good life is available to us even in the face of overwhelming circumstances, which might partly explain its attractiveness to even the mighty emperor of the most powerful empire of its time. Central to this life, according to the Stoics, is a certain set of cognitive approaches to what goes on in the world around us.
Have you ever been lied to or betrayed by someone you loved and trusted? Has anyone not believed you when you were telling the truth? Has anyone you loved walked away from the relationship and refused to try to work out the differences? Everyone has been hurt by someone else. How do we get rid of the hurt and move on with our lives. How can we forgive?
In order to change any of the beliefs that are holding you back from creating the life you want, it’s important to understand how they were formed and what got you to this point. For many years behavioral scientists have studied human infants to determine what their experience is and how they develop.
My first spiritual teacher told me a phrase that echoed in my head for months; “You don’t know what love is because you’re stuck in your fears. Face your fears and you will begin to know what love feels like.” I sat with these words, realizing how many fears controlled my life and my happiness. I had never realized how afraid I was deep inside...
In the Book of Genesis we are told that “a deep sleep fell over Adam,” but nowhere in the Bible does it say that he woke up. We are all Adam, still immersed in the dream of limitation. We have become sleepwalkers, trudging through our days wondering who we are and why we are here.
The concept of surrender is often confused with submission. No matter how you define it, or under what conditions, surrender is a willful, not a passive act. The element of choice in surrender is an important consideration when we are discussing its expression in our lives.
One of the teachings that is emphasized by many teachers is that of acceptance. Accepting what is. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean accepting the way things are? Well, yes it does. It is an impartial observation: I see how this is, I acknowledge that this is so. Yet, does it mean that nothing can change?
Despite what Madison Avenue would like us to believe, that vacation to the Riviera, that Chrysler PT Cruiser, that anti-aging cream is not the secret to happiness. There's only one thing that unlocks the door to true peace of mind. Serving a purpose bigger than...
“I will definitely give up smoking – that’s my New Year’s resolution,” she stated emphatically as she thumped her fist on the table to underline her determination. “All very well”, I thought, as I sat opposite her in my medical consulting room in October.
Personality undoubtedly influences people’s experience of stress. Those who have perfectionistic tendencies (obsessional) and those with a tendency to put the needs of others ahead of their own or seek the approval of others (dependent) are particularly vulnerable to stress. Having these personality traits is not a bad thing...
When we recognize the impact we have, purely by being responsible for our state of mind – and how that affects the electromagnetic field that surrounds us, we realize that every moment sets in motion an incremental modification of such import that its trajectory could create a global shift in consciousness.
In 1993, Conari Press published a book called Random Acts of Kindness. This book started a movement of people looking for ways to be kind to complete strangers. It was not at all unusual to see a bumper sticker on the car in front of you that read, “Practice Random Acts of Kindness.”
Purplewashing is a term I have coined to describe the tendency people have to gloss over, repress, or deny uncomfortable emotions, usually by “spiritualizing” the situation or by “being nice” about it. I call it purplewashing because it is similar to...
The manic nature of Black Friday has often led shoppers to engage in fistfights and other misbehavior in their desperation to snatch up the last ultra-discounted television, computer or pair of pants.
Anxious people tend to perceive their world in a more threatening way. That is, the more anxious a person is, the more likely they are to notice threatening things around them. This is called the threat bias.
Our habits of thinking and speaking are so deeply ingrained that often we are not truly aware of the words we use or of what they actually mean. You might begin by deleting from your conversation all the popular...
All creation either evolves or devolves. You are once again in a cycle of the waking up of consciousness. Therefore it is time to move forward, in love and trust. Come out of your minds and heads into the realm of your heartfelt states of being. In other words...
One person loses their job and experiences stress, fear and anxiety. Another person loses their job and is excited about the new possibilities opening up for them. What’s the difference? The external life circumstance is the same. However the internal response is different.
Anger is more often than not a symptom of profound disappointment. In many cases, it can also represent a feeling of inferiority or an inability to express frustration in an educated or controlled way. Sometimes it’s just an instance of someone being emotionally...
The phenomenon of fear is surely one of the most impressive proofs of the mind’s power to convince us of the reality of its contents. If a person could reduce all possible episodes of fear down to those threats that are imminent, life would be very much less a scary place.
Some of the most hope-filled people I have known have been those for whom favorable outcomes might be described as a long shot at best. This tendency of hope’s to show up in the bottom of our suffering is said by some to be the meaning of the Greek myth of Pandora’s...
I like the anonymous quote, “Holding resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This poison can negatively affect every aspect of your life. Make a commitment towards love and clarity in your relationships.
We generally think of security as protecting our body and possessions from people who might violate them. Yet when we live in fear or a constant need to protect ourselves, we violate our spirit—a far greater injury than any that might occur to our possessions. Real security operates at a much deeper level than...
Dear God, we ask for guidance, love, and your healing power for all the people who are close to us. We ask for special healing to be sent to all -- to get through the next week with their trials, their tribulations, and their heartaches. We ask this...
I used to complain about the news, which is so often negative. Then I heard Michael Beckwith mention that he considers the news to be his prayer list. Hmmm. Is the news something to worry about, or is it a platform upon which to practice holding a higher vision?
Everyone knows someone with a quick temper – it might even be you. And while scientists have known for decades that aggression is hereditary, there is another biological layer to those angry flare-ups: self-control.
How can we motivate ourselves to overcome anger? We might begin by considering the nature of anger to see whether it is a necessary, helpful, or pleasant state of mind. In other words, does anger improve the quality of our lives in any way?
Certainly, not everyone is frightened by change. But for those of us who like predictability and routine, times of great change can bring on intense fear. That’s why it’s crucially important to recognize what we’re feeling and have coping strategies in place.
Anger is in everyone’s emotional constitution to one degree or another. It oozes out in big and little ways, no matter how valiant the attempt to disguise it. It shows up when you act meanspirited, inconsiderate or bossy, or when you just find yourself frustrated about...
There is a great need in every human being to be acknowledged and blessed by another person, especially their parent. People often strive to receive acknowledgment of who they are. When they do not receive acknowledgment or blessing, they can feel hopeless or unworthy.
I had a nasty neighbor who regularly picked fights over all kinds of issues. People drove too fast past her rural home; her neighbors partied too loud; vandals were supposedly stealing from her water line; trees encroached on her property line; and on and on...
I have tremendous patience with people. I can get occasionally frustrated, annoyed, or even angry, but ultimately my patience kicks back in. I simply refuse to give up on a living being. You too have enormous patience for something and the more you study what fosters your patience, the more you will...
After 9/11, I was writing (and publishing online) inspirational messages that focused on peace... Now twelve years later, we stand at the precipice of who knows what, and peace still eludes the planet...
As a species, humans love control. We want to control our environment, physical and emotional safety, financial security, and self-image. Yet this same passion for control gets us into trouble as individuals and as a species. If we do not exercise wisdom, control can easily become addiction, tyranny, and repression. We find ourselves rebelling against...
Changing our thoughts can be as easy as A, B, C. And that's the key to creating a different set of experiences that leads to the different life many of us deserve. One of my favorite ideas from A Course in Miracles is...
On the one hand, being free of heart depends on our ability to engage all our feelings. On the other hand, being free of mind requires letting go in a way that keeps emptying us of the residue of our experience. Otherwise, that residue can block our perception...
As long as people are determined to cling to their preconceived opinions, mistaking them for Truth and refusing to consider dispassionately the positions of others, they can neither escape hostility nor arrive at blessedness.
Self-care includes a healthy dose of humor. If you’re not laughing every day, it’s time to start. Laughter creates powerful chemicals in the brain that act quickly to reduce stress and tension and lower blood pressure...
The pain from the past that people experience often follows them to their deaths. I had been visiting Vince weekly for five months, and every week he began by telling me about his distaste for his brother, whom he hadn’t spoken to in twenty years. His animosity had to do with a...