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Archive for November, 2007

How to cope with your pain.

“You’ll be okay; you are good at coping with life’s hurdles.” Have you ever heard this and wanted to stomp on the foot of the person who said it? I’ve heard it a lot, from the time I was in middle school and my parents got divorced, to the present day when I talk to friends or family about my problems. While well-meaning and essentially true, sometimes platitudes like this can be very hurtful. I have a very tender-hearted friend who often is offended by such comments. When we are hurting the last thing we want to do (or hear) is that we should just swallow down the pain and move on, which is what some of these remarks try to convey.

When we are in pain, in any of its many forms, we need to learn to give in to it and express it. I have a hard time with this lesson, it is hard to put into practice. Often when we are upset, we spread the misery to others. When this happens to me I feel guilty that my bad mood is the cause of someone else’s pain. So I try to keep quiet and hold it in.

Slowly I am learning what a joy it can be to open up and let go. I struggle at times with knowing who I should confide in, but I know I can always turn to myself. I have often gone into a bathroom or outside for a walk just so I could complain and cry. Saying it out loud helps to ease the sting of the hurt. Plus if you are truthful with yourself “I hate you because you make me feel unimportant and stupid,” you see the both the truth of your words and the exaggeration. “You NEVER help me around the house and I feel like a maid.”

I’m not sure if this works the same way for men as women, but many women are very emotional beings. We need to be heard and understood to feel good about ourselves. However I have found that we don’t necessarily need others to talk to, God, ourselves or even a journal can work wonders. The key is to really express what we are feeling. Once we understand our jealousy, fear, sadness or anger we can identify the causes and do something to change it.

Here are a few ideas to work through your pain:

  1. Admit your feelings. Recognition is half the battle. Once you know what you feel and why, you can decide to make the changes needed to move on.
  2. Make a list. Write down what you feel and why, then make a list of what you think the other person thinks and feels. Looking at both sides of the problems helps you see where you’re right, where you’re wrong, and how to bring both sides together.
  3. Ask for help. I have the hardest time with this. I do ask for help, but often in a roundabout way. When I do ask straight out I find that people are happy to help if only we can get over the thought of ourselves looking weak. (The weakness isn’t asking for help, it’s being too proud not to.)
  4. Keep your daily schedule. When we’re in pain many of us may bypass our normal routines of exercise, fun, and relaxation. This is when we need it most. You made your routine because it works for you, don’t give it up when you’re feeling lost.
  5. Forgive yourself. Think of your friends and family and the biggest mistakes they have made. Most likely you have forgiven them some pretty stupid and hurtful things. Forgive yourself as well. Moving on and starting fresh is the easiest way to move past a current hurt. You can’t change the past, but the future is wide open.

Also check out Tina Su’s wonderful article “How to be Naked Like a Baby.” It’s a wonderful look at the joy, love, awareness and energy of being a child. The easy recovery from problems and positive outlook that babies have is a great mental state to aspire to. These are great techniques to deal with life.

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I’m following up the great My Turn/Your Turn post by Bob at Every, Every Minute. There are so many wonderful teachers out there. I can still remember a teacher in my high school psychology class. She was one of the first people to really help me understand thinking from someone else’s point of view. We had interactive group circles, we watched movies and debated the reasons why people did what they did, and generally began an understanding of human behavior. It was an eye-opening experience.

 

I’ve had lots of other teachers as well. Dr. Seuss taught me about playfulness and rhymes. My father taught me a love of nature. The movie Pay It Forward taught me the ripple effect of kindness. Several of my friends taught me to embrace my inner child. The Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa taught me about unconditional love, generosity, mindfulness and empathy for others.

 

I also remember the other teachers. I remember a math teacher in high school who pushed me to answer tough math questions. He pressed us every day and didn’t take excuses. I learned more in one year of his class than the two previous years together. I’ve also had people teach me what not to do; a driver who’s impatient, a boss who criticizes too much, and people who spew hatred.

 

I’ve learned through books, movies, relationships, jobs, missed opportunities and chances I’ve taken. I’ve learned by seeing, touching, hearing, smelling and doing. It’s amazing how much life has to teach us if we just open ourselves to it. The Internet is my newest teacher, and boy does she have some lessons to give. There are web sites, articles, blogs, books and ideas on almost every subject imaginable.

 

Don’t limit your teachers or your learning to just schools. There is so much more out there. Follow your passion, do what you love and the teachers and knowledge will come naturally. Learn about physics from a game of basketball, learn about food by preparing a meal. Try a new hobby and find your knack for crafts, wood-working, gardening or photography. If you’re not enjoying the process, find another teacher. There’s always someone perfect out there for you. Above all, enjoy the journey.

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Picture 25.png by melinda♥josie

 

My favorite tradition every Christmas is to watch all my favorite holiday shows.  For instance, I’ve already seen The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and the Wizard of Oz.  Last night A Charlie Brown Christmas was on, and tonight is a brand-new Christmas special Shrek the Halls!

Since I basically only watch these movies during one month of the year, they retain a special significance.  The story of the mean-spirited green grouch who is overcome by the Christmas spirit, and the quirky little angel named Clarence who shows one man (and all of us,) how special our lives really are.

The movies and animated specials have already started and I don’t want you to miss another minute!  Here are the links to the Christmas specials, both animated, and movies.  You can also go to the main page for musicals, food and decorating shows and more.  (Look on the right side of the page for Christmas Tube.)  Everything you could possibly need to get into the Christmas spirit.

And while you’re watching, take notes.  This is how we want to act and feel all year long.  Let this be your inspiration to living a funny, kind, and generous life every day.  Give the gifts of your time, attention and love this year and you’ll be giving the people in your life exactly what they yearn for.  (Although a small gift or two doesn’t hurt!)  :0)

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

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Message in a bottle by markflemingphoto

 

I just got a wonderful reminder of how great it can be to hear from an old friend.  Someone I hadn’t heard from in about 1 ½ years emailed me today.  It was terrific to hear from her.  Even though we hadn’t talked in a while, hearing from her brought back lots of memories and made me smile.

So I want to remind all of you (and myself as well,) that you can always rekindle the friendship of your past.  No matter how much time has passed, many friendships endure even after years of no contact.  Sometimes one person or the other has forgiven the rift but just hasn’t taken the time to call.  Once the connection has been re-established, all is resolved and the fun comes rushing back.

This past week for Thanksgiving I got to see my niece and nephew whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while.  Although we had lost touch and hadn’t spoken in several years we were soon laughing and talking over old memories.  It was a wonderful bonus to a great holiday week and I was overjoyed to visit with them again.

Make a plan this year to get in touch with at least one person that you normally would put off in the holiday rush.  Send them an email, a greeting card or give them a call.  You’ll make their day and feel good at the same time.  If you’re ready to forgive an old wound or can’t remember why you’re mad, let this holiday season be a time to let go of grievances and move back into joy.  You’ll both be glad you did.

Even if they rebuff your friendship, at least you will have tried.  It’s absolutely worth the chance to find out.  Who knows you might renew a closeness that will be rewarding for years to come.  Check out the post on my other blog 12 tips to stay in touch with friends and family.  If any of you try this out, let me know how it turns out.  Good luck!

 

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Holiday high.

Well friends, I’m finally back.  I’m slowly coming down from my holiday high.  I was lucky enough to have several family members visit, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  It was fantastic!  All the food, laughter and family antics kept me smiling the entire week.  It was a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyable.  I hope all of you had just as much fun.

It’s been quiet around here lately, so all the hustle and bustle was a nice change of pace.  For the rest of the family, they got away from their jobs and stress for a while, so luckily just about everyone was in a great mood. I didn’t get much exercise, I over-ate almost every day, yet I still feel great!

Too bad it doesn’t work like that every day.  But then, family gatherings wouldn’t be so special (or so well-behaved) if they happened every week.  For me, this week was a great reminder of how breaking your normal routine and pattern can give you more appreciation and gratitude for your daily schedule.  I missed a few favorite TV shows, I didn’t get to meditate every day, and went to bed at a different time every night.  Small things, but it helps you appreciate the happiness you get from them when it’s temporarily taken away.

So as we all take a deep breath and rest up before the next round of holidays it’s nice to reflect on the love we felt and enjoy that tingle of anticipation before the next get-together begins.  Enjoy these next two weeks before the holiday pace picks up again.  As you go about your regular day, enjoy the little joys and the schedule you’ve created.  And as the next holiday arrives, focus on the new and interesting people, places and events as they unfold.  Delight in the change of routine and you’ll find more satisfaction and fun.  Happy holidays everyone!  

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Human brain by Gaetan Lee

While cruising through the Internet I came across a fabulous article. It discusses the possibility that your thinking could actually change your brain. The Dalai Lama has been interested in this idea for some time and often lends his monks and lamas to scientists to explore what, if any, changes happen to the brain after years of sustained meditation practice.

The brain’s chemistry and neural make-up actually  changes based on what we think, and how often we think it.  In one experiment patients with depression underwent either cognitive-behavior therapy or a regimented drug program. When the results were compared they did not produce the same brain activity with each program. Results showed each therapy produced significantly different changes in the same areas of the brain.

In another experiment, monkeys were taught to respond either to a touch to their fingers or a sound through their headphones. Not surprisingly, the section of brain which expanded correlated directly to the sense of touch in the first group, while the second group experienced a growth in the auditory section of the brain.

These examples were taken from a new book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves by Sharon Begley. (I haven’t read this yet, but of course it’s going on my list today.) There is an emerging new science in brain research called neuroplasticity. It is basically the study of how and why the adult brain grows and changes.

During the experiments done on the Tibetan Monks, all of whom had done 10,000 or more hours of meditation, researchers found an increase of gamma waves. These signals appear when the brain reaches that AHA moment of connection when sight, sound, feel and other features tell us there’s a barking dog in front of us. The most interesting insight was the fact that these gamma waves remained high in the monks, even in between meditations.

For those of us who have meditated frequently, or even used positive thinking skills, we may already have believed this is true. As a fan of both science and religion, I love to see the two intertwined, especially when the benefits are so exciting and contain such far-reaching possibilities. Truly, it is what we do every day that shapes and forms our lives. I will surely keep these interesting new facts in mind the next time I start dwelling on how unfair my life is. There’s more to thinking than we ever thought. :0)

 

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Most of us think of greed as a bad thing, like having lots of money and not using any to help others, or knowing skills that we never share freely but instead always charge for.  I often think of Daffy Duck with his three wishes from the genie when he says “Consequences, somnequences as long as I’m rich.”  But just because a few boneheads have spoiled the idea of greed doesn’t mean it’s really the bad thing it’s made out to be.

 

In the same way that certain types of stress can be good; Christmas shopping stress, new baby stress, or wedding stress, some types of greed are a good thing.  How about the greed to succeed?  That motivation some people have to improve, learn, and continually grow.  Some mothers selfishly, greedily want to have smart, healthy, well-adjusted children.  Some saints are greedy to spread hope, joy and kindness in the world.  Mother Theresa comes to mind as a person with an insatiable appetite to do good and help others.

 

Maybe like me you are ravenous for fun!  I am glutton for more laughter, smiles and enjoyment of each day.  I continually crave things that make me happy and the awareness of little things that make each day a joy.  Warm sunshine, steaming hot fresh-baked cookies, wiggly fuzzy dogs to play with and an unexpected phone call from a friend.  I continually indulge in books, movies, walks in the woods and other activities I find pleasurable.

 

Today, instead of noticing the downside of greed, try and find an example of the positive side.  Even if you don’t find any it will change your focus on what you see around you and hopefully help you find the brighter side of life. 

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