Tag Archives: Serenity

How to Think More Clearly: Beginning Steps

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Serenity

Serenity

We all need a little bit of time to ourselves. At this ripe old age of ??something, I realize how important it is to be able to find some time every day to just “be.”

That is a very long way for me to have traveled from the little girl who’s mother used to carry on like there was no tomorrow whenever I closed my bedroom door if I was upset and wanted to be alone. It was something that was frowned upon deeply – almost as if it were something I should avoid at all costs.

So here we are, and I’m a full, unadulterated convert in favor of the human need for stillness and a time of uninterrupted, undisturbed, untweeted, unnotified, unstatused…you get the point! I have grown to believe that it is an absolute necessity if a person is to be able to function even remotely close to their best throughout their day; something as necessary as brushing one’s teeth, combing one’s hair, showering, drinking enough water, exercising – all the various things we are now convinced are daily habits that are necessary to our overall well-being and health.

Sixty Thousand

Sixty Thousand

Do not despair if you find even 10 or 15 minutes of stillness every day a daunting task, because in the beginning, that is exactly what it is. I will not ramble on here too much about the continuous barrage of stimuli we all encounter in the course of a single day. Suffice it to go with one of my favorite researched facts which is that the average person experiences more than 60,000 (as in thousand) thoughts every single day. And on some level (not equally) every single one of those thoughts needs to be processed, someway.

Our brains must almost automatically identify the stimuli and compartmentalize it, making a determination, sometimes subconsciously, about what if anything we have to do with it from this point forward.

Sorting Into Categories

Sorting Into Categories

Once we make that determination, those thoughts that require action need to be further sorted into priorities that determine how we address them. And that is what we will be found doing in the order we have set our priorities.

If we learn to quiet ourselves so we can think (process) more clearly, we are more likely to set our priorities in proper order to be most productive and successful.

• Set your priorities better by taking time to think about them rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to things that “come at you” throughout the day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Mindful Recovery

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Volvo

Volvo

Did you ever make up your mind that you were going to buy a new car? One of the most amazing things happens when that occurs. After painstaking contemplation and consideration, you finally decide on the make and model you are going to get, maybe even the color.

It is always right after this decision that you become amazingly aware of just how many makes and models in the same color you have chosen are actually on the road. It is almost as if a magic car fairy has transplanted all these ‘imitation’ vehicles on the roads you travel, just for you to be able to see just how your new car is going to look on the road once you get it.

Not really, but it sure does seem that way!

Well, it’s sort of like that when it comes to me and the term mindfulness. I first ran across the word term when a colleague of mine who is very up on these types of things began using it in conjunction with regard to her working with her clients who were overly anxious. She didn’t define it, but I pretty much understood what the concept meant through the content of her description.

To be mindful means to be able to tune in without distraction – not only the type of outer distractions we are all so familiar with, but also anything going on within us as we are dealing with a given situation.

Yada Yada TShirt

Yada Yada TShirt

Time for a bit of honesty here – because we all do it. I know you know what I’m talking about – I am as guilty of it in my role as anyone – we are called upon by someone who has something to say to us, be it professionally or in our private lives – maybe our spouse or our son or daughter – and we start out attending to them and listening intently. But out of nowhere, we get walloped with the thought that we have to be at the field to pick up little Jimmy and there is bound to be traffic and dinner is going to be late enough as it is and yadda yadda….

Before we know it, our insides are shaking, our brainwaves are frazzled and we haven’t really heard the last 50 words the person speaking to us has said.

We are human. Our feelings are impacted due to all the thoughts that float in and out of our heads. I have heard most people averages about 60,000 thoughts per day. That’s an awful lot of opportunity for internal distraction, don’t you think?

It is clear that achieving a successful mindful practice is no simple feat. But before you throw in the towel, lets look at what’s in it for us if we truly give it the ‘ole’ college try.’

Recovery

Recovery

Some benefits of linking mindfulness practice to recovery are:

• More control
– and better equipped to deal with the ups and downs that are a natural part of everyday sobriety in life. Early recovery can be one of the most challenging emotional rides a person will ever be on. If you can carry mindfulness along on the roller coaster ride with you, you’re one step ahead of the game.

• Easier management of interpersonal relationships – since no man, or woman, is an island, we all have to play well with others in order to avoid unbelievable press and possible triggers that can send us back toward the very path we’ve sworn to stay off of.

• More pleasure and joy in life – by learning to stop and notice some of the smaller, simpler things in life, we also get to notice some of the more glorious and beautiful things in life.

• More tuned in with cravings
– and if we recognize it for what it is when it arrives (and believe me, it will arrive) we can avoid being swept up by it. We learn to accept them for what they are, not attempt to butt heads with them or overpower them.

• Relapse avoidance – similarly, by learning to recognize the warning signs of relapse and face them for what they are, we give ourselves the best possible odds of being able to live ‘this too shall pass’ and miraculously, it does.

There are even more benefits to living a more mindful life that will make themselves known to you the more you are able to focus in on them. You will be astounded and more at peace, happier and less fearful of tomorrow…something every one of us deserves and most definitely can achieve.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Happy 2014

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Beatles

Beatles

I love the Beatles as much as the next guy; maybe even more. But current research clearly demonstrates that there is quite a bit more to Happiness than a ‘warm gun.

(For those of you who may not be up on your Beatle lyrics, I’m referring to a son, written by John Lennon, off their eponymous double-disc album “The Beatles,” also known as “The White Album.”)

I think attitude and perspective are major players in people’s lives, but many times it is way too easy to ignore our hard-wiring, our genetic make-up. It seems the happiness-DNA connection hasn’t gotten much of a voice, but in their article “Genetic Influences on Psychological Well-Being: A Nationally Representative Twin Study.” that appeared in April 2013’s Journal of Personality, researchers Thomas M. Olino,
C. Emily Durbin, Daniel N. Klein, Elizabeth P. Hayden and Margaret W. Dyson found that up to 50 percent of our happiness could be linked to the way we are ‘hard-wired.’

What makes happiness really difficult to pin down and research is how subjective it is, but researchers are far from throwing in the towel.

I’ve found some new and ‘quirky’ leads on happiness and for some reason they haven’t been given top billing. Being that I live in a part of the world where we still have two full months of winter ahead of us and last night’s temps reached below zero again, I for one, can use as much help and direction for pick-me-ups as I can find.

Here are five pieces of information about happiness I was not aware of, that I hope warm a cockle or two of your heart as well:

• A Degree of Happiness – 57.02 degrees Fahrenheit
According to a study out of Osaka University in Japan, the correlation between a person’s environmental temperature and happiness was researched. The winner, not the mild temps of tropical islands as once thought, but a milder, balmy 57.02 degrees was found to produce the highest number of happy people. I’m still have quite a way to go, but once we get through this artic freeze, its not as far away from 57.02 as say 70 or 75.
• Happy Music for our Happy Feet
Not only does listening to ‘happy’ music help elevate the mood, it also stimulates what scientists refer to as the “reward” part of the brain. I know we are being a bit subjective here when we say ‘happy’ music, but that goes with the turf. Lyrics and combinations of sounds are so varied this is likely to remain quite subjective. What is no longer subjective is the scientific backing.

Possum Sniffing Flowers

Possum Sniffing Flowers

• The Nose Knows
Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey determined that there is a connection between happiness and floral scented odors. With the advances in fragrances available, we can sniff a little happiness into our day.
• Yes … Master
Remember that saying about being a ‘Jack of all trades but master of none?’ Well, according to a 2009 study, Jack would not have been a very happy boy. Although there is a certain amount of stress associated with pushing oneself to
master an activity, the long term benefit of knowing we really “got this”
(whatever the activity,) leads to feelings of happiness.
* Giving vs. Receiving
Its true…its true! A 2012 study confirms that both mean and women feel happier after purchasing something for someone else than when they buy something for themselves. Although there isn’t much more research other than confirming that
more people are happier giving gifts than receiving them, it will be interesting tosee what scientists find when they dig deeper into the whys and wherefores about this.

There are other new findings about happiness popping up through studies all the time. And without a doubt, the correlations between happiness (and other internal moods and emotions) and environmental stimuli (external factors) will grow as far as researcher’s imaginations can take them.

Humans may be simple on some level, but extremely unique and individualized on others. We are a combination of our hard-wiring (genetics or nature) and our environment (nurture). The discussion will continue through the ages.

Whatever the outcome of the study being conducted, we are human…we are made up of both, internal and external factors in various combinations. And there are many things we can do to improve our lives, make ourselves more of the people we want to become, reach our goals and fuller potentials.

Serenity Prayer

Serenity Prayer

The key to it all, for me, is found when we live what is known by millions as the Serenity Prayer. We ask for courage to change what we can (external, nurture) acceptance for who we are and for what is (internal, nature) and finally, the ability and wisdom to be able to know the difference so we can avoid the frustration and failures that come from trying to change things that are hard-wired and pretty much just the way they are.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!