Mental Health, Motivational

Minding our Minds through Mindfulness

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” -John Milton

Mindfulness

We hear it all the time. Mindfulness. The advice to practise mindfulness as a way to deal with troublesome thoughts.

Why does Mindfulness help?

It’s impossible to stay strong when you’re rehashing something that happened last week or predicting that horrible things are going to happen tomorrow. Mindfulness is about staying present in the moment. And since the only time you can change your behavior is right now, it’s important to be able to focus on the here-and-now.

http://www.psychology.com

Our minds become more resilent to stress and less prone to anxiety, if we maintain focus on the here and now; meaning the present moment. The future and the past are, after all, not our reality, but only mental constructs over which we have no, or little, influence. Trying to live in two dimensions at once creates stress for ourselves.

The present moment is the only real time concept we can fully experience, with our senses.

Confucious understood this saying,

“Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”

Buddha considered the secret of good health was not to mourn the past, or worry about the future, cautioning against anticipation and encouraging the use of each moment wisely and earnestly.

As if each moment was a priceless gift.

Because each moment is a priceless gift that will never return again.

Staying mindful removes the immediate stress for a mind that might continue to worry or dwell on what has gone before.

The present moment is a concept so very difficult to grab hold on to; for it is transient, dynamic and we might rail against letting it go. Even as we ponder its nature, it has passed us by. Gone.

Some of us keep the past, or future, alive in our minds, through repetitive thoughts. Our minds, in idle moments, stray back to past events, or happier times. If those thoughts are negative, and we think them often enough, we can do ourselves real mental damage or initiate a stress reaction in our body.

Strategies for Mindfulness

  • Stay in the moment
  • Look around you and note your environment
  • Observe
  • Notice where your focus lies and your own body’s natural breath
  • Is your breath short, sharp and shallow, or deep and long? Focusing on the breath is a way to stay mindful
  • Be Mindful and Ground yourself with the following exercise

Questions for the Self

Are you able to be mindful, keeping thoughts aligned with the present moment?

Can you break your day down and stay with those moments?

Besides Grounding, what is it that helps you to do this?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

flowers
blogging, Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

A New Year and Dealing with Intense Emotions

Happy New Year 2021 png

Christmas time may be a source of stress or joy. Compounding those yuletide stresses, the Covid pandemic continues to rage, so there was little cause for joy in many parts of the world.

Marlene inspired me to think of the year’s outcomes in terms of ‘gifts,’ some good and of course, some bad. We’d do well to focus on the better aspects for our own well-being. So, what if any, positives can be noted?

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels.com

Lessons from the Pandemic

Whether we like the lessons or not:

  • This awful year has taught us patience and more appreciation for things at home.
  • This dreadful year has been a godsend for parts of the environment and animal world.
  • The pandemic afforded us time to develop or re-discover DIY home projects.
  • This deadly virus has potentially increased family tensions but has given extra time with loved ones. I will take as a blessing option, thanks.
  • Rates of family violence and alcohol consumption rose, yet levels of air pollution diminished due to fewer vehicles on the roads. The night sky was/is full of stars hitherto unseen in cities, as air quality improved.
  • Peak hour traffic congestion eased and commuter accidents lessened.
  • Workplaces were forced to become more flexible, benefitting those caring for someone, at home.
  • Money from saved travel and workplace costs, (uniforms, ancillary items, office durables and rentals), could instead be spent on other items that bring joy.
  • Extroverts suffered from social isolation but many introverts thrived.

..some Australian online [alcohol], retailers have reported 50% to 500% increases in sales compared to the same period in 2019.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7300689/#dar13092-bib-0018
Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

Negative Impacts of the Pandemic

This pandemic has uncovered a festering mal-contentment at the interplay between politics and society and offered diametrically opposed opportunities and grief.

Unemployment rose sharply and many lost businesses, their livelihood, or their lives. In some places, political decisions and divisiveness led to civil unrest. Financial ruin became rampant. Mental health nosedived.

For each one of us, the impacts may be very individual. With no short term end to Covid in sight, the heightened emotions the pandemic brings, remain uncomfortable and difficult for many folks to manage.

How do we deal with those difficult emotions?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Dealing with Difficult Emotions

Write Down Your Thoughts

Sometimes it can be cathartic to transfer those strong emotions into written words. Blogging can be great therapy.

female writing

Slow Down and See Each Moment

Ironically, the pandemic has made me feel grateful.

Grateful for things I DO have and it ensured I did slow down and appreciate the individual moments that pass by.

Grateful for our country’s relative safety bubble.

We can be grateful for modern science working hard to solve the virus riddle.

Grateful that I have not been touched by financial ruin, separation or Covid itself.

Grateful that even though my workinglife ended prematurely, I now have time to enjoy retirement activities with the Moth.

Grateful that I have daily incidental conversation with the adult children who came home due to financial reasons.

Grateful that I can let unimportant things slide.

Grateful to have the awareness I am so much more than just my emotions/feelings.

Grateful that emotions and feelings change as the world moves and changes. Everything must change for, just like bad weather, nothing ever lasts.

2021 Mantra

In this New Year of 2021:

If I feel sad, I will sit with that feeling of sadness.

If I feel loss, hurt or rejected, I will accept that feeling, not deny or think that I ‘shouldn’t,’ feel that way.

If I feel frustrated or inadequate, I will sit with that until the feeling passes. I won’t feel tormented that these emotions are wrong or bad, but rather let them ‘slide.’

Let it slide.

Not quite the same ‘sliding,’ as the lyrics of the song suggest, but the personal reminder is contained in that catchy melody; the melody that is today’s earworm.

“Let it Slide.

Happy New Year

beach at low tide
blogging, Philosophy

Is Life Getting Harder?

If we only look at things through one filter, one lens, they will always seem the same.

seeing

Never forget that no matter what anyone does, you are responsible for how you feel.

The brain is a powerful filter that moulds experiences and perceptions of reality. If you think the world is a dangerous place, your brain is wired to hunt for evidence of danger. 

If you believe it’s a loving place, you spot more loving opportunities. 

What you focus on, you get more of.

Marc and Angel
Norwegian proverb life

I enjoy finding inspirational old quotes and sayings. Their wise words so succinctly contain good counsel and recipes for life, if we are open to learning from them.

Livet er fullt av store ting for dem som evner a omgas de sma ting fortrolig

Life is full of great things for those who have the innate ability to enjoy the small.

Norwegian proverb

Do you agree with these old Norwegian proverbs?

surfers in waves at Coolangatta Australia
Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

Overcoming Sensitivity

Exposure to a stressful or traumatic situation doesn’t determine your mental wellbeing as much as how you interpret the situation. For it is your own idiosyncratic response to the situation that determines your mental state.

The Hyper or Highly Sensitive Person

Almost 20% of people have hypersensitive nervous systems that process things differently to others. They feel and think more deeply, are often intensely compassionate and might become over-stimulated and stressed much more easily, than others. They are more vulnerable to chronic muscle tension and fatigue.

The highly sensitive person might feel solated, misunderstood or different to others. In the past, they may have been labelled, “highly strung.” Now they might be referred to as, ‘weak, emotional, or even broken.’

Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, and Steve Jobs were highly sensitive people who used their work to hide a sensory processing sensitivity.

To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the characteristic of a compassionate human being – one that nurtures a caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your feelings, smiles and tears shine a light in this world. Why you mull over slights that ought to be forgotten. Why subtleties are magnified for you and yet lost on others.

There is zero shame in expressing your authentic feelings.

Marc and Angel

Self-help Strategies to Deal with Sensitivity

Photo by Matheus Natan on Pexels.com
  • Recognize your strengths and acknowledge what you HAVE achieved
  • Seek out kindred spirits.
  • Acknowledge the negative, but aim to focus towards the positive and search for those hidden positives in every situation, no matter how small.
  • Avoid negative environments as they will make you suffer more.
  • Treat yourself and others with compassion.
  • Change your thinking on perceived hidden flaws. Accept yourself and others by reframing your past misconceptions in terms of intuition, conscientiousness and vision.
  • Mindfulness and meditation techniques may help to decrease the intensity of your reactions to the content of your thoughts.
  • Challenge yourself to react to a stressful situation in a different way. Not everything counts.
woman friends having a drink
blogging

Priorities

As I contemplate what to write in a ‘death letter,’ to my daughter, I came across the following text.

They are not my words but I thought it important to reproduce it here for others to read. I do not know the author. If someone knows who wrote this, please let me know in the comments and I will gladly update the post and credit them.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The Important Things in Life

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car… The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’

The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com
sea grass
blogging

Dealing with that Inner Voice of Criticism

How do you treat yourself?

We are often harshest in our treatment of ourselves in the way our inner voice reprimands us for making mistakes.

Rather than an objective assessment of our actions, we strive for perfection in ourselves, and are disappointed or angry with ourselves if we cannot attain that desired standard.

Source: https://forestwoodfolkart.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/58006-1ye5vss3wrvp7nv7b51ldzw.png

Trying to be Perfect

Perfection is impossible, yet we continue to strive for it. Let us face it, we are all imperfect beings in some way. So it is a natural and normal state to be imperfect.

We may feel anger or diappointment when we judge ourselves to be useless, inadequate or ineffective.

If your critical inner voice is devaluing who you are, answer back with self-kindness … this is the antidote.

Medium.com
Singapore orchid gardens

Turn negative statements into neutral statements

One easy way to adjust our damaging self-talk is to change “always” and “never” statements into specific truthful ones.

“I always fail at ….” Really, is this accurate? Or, is this statement better?

“It seems like I fail every time I try something I find difficult, but telling myself that doesn’t help or support me in any way and each time it happens, I am learning something about what doesn’t work for me.”

Even in simple situations you might catch your self-talk saying, “You always forget where you put your phone/keys/wallet.”

Imagine how less disappointed you might feel if you change that self-talk to, “When life gets really busy, it is easy to forget where I left my phone/keys/wallet, but that is okay. Next time I might take more notice where I put them.”

If you make a mistake in your work, instead of labelling yourself, useless, using more nurturing phrases under your breath can feel less reproachful.

“I stuffed up this time, but that is okay because I am still learning how best to carry out this task and next time I might do better.”

“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” –Brené Brown

Here is another example from medium.com

Let’s say your inner voice tells you that you’re fat, and you think:
I did gain five pounds. She’s right, I’m ugly.” You feel miserable, right? Neutralize that negative statement so you feel good about yourself. Paint the situations your inner critic is nagging you about, in neutral colors. Name the facts. Add what you think will help you to make it better.

“Yes, I want to lose a couple of pounds. Last week I was too stressed and tired so I ate more and skipped my exercises. I’m more relaxed now, and I can go back to my usual routine.”

medium.com

Be kind to yourself.

grass
Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

Challenging Thoughts and Reality

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

Marcus Aurelius
Banksia

If you think of yourself as the best thing since sliced bread, that will become your reality.

Likewise, if you think you are broken, or a failure, then in all likelihood, you will feel broken and miserable.

If you feel you have some faults but are working hard to improve them, you might also feel differently.

Individual thoughts become your reality.

If you feel the future is hopeless, it is extremely hard to find a solution.

Even if your reality is realistic and accurate, intrusive thoughts have a way of sneaking into our mental vocabulary. Ann Koplow had some great pointers to remedy those. Perhaps it is useful strategies for all of us?

Challenge Labels.  If you label yourself negatively, such as “a fool” or “a loser,” remind yourself that such absolute terms are subjective and meaningless, and that human beings are too complex to be reduced that simplistically. Also, consider the possibility that somebody else may have given you that idea about yourself, and that they were wrong.

Reality testing.  Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and concerns are realistic or true. This is a particularly effective response to the distortion of mind-reading.

Thought stopping.  If you notice an unhelpful thought, cut it off immediately. Typical techniques include visualizing a big stop sign, saying “STOP!” to yourself, and giving yourself a sensory cue (e.g. snapping a rubber band you wear around your wrist). A “gentler” version of this is to notice an unhelpful thought and tell yourself, “That’s just a thought.”

https://annkoplow.wordpress.com

Something to Ponder About this Sunday

Community

Proverbial Friday – Happiness

Do not waste all your happiness

by overlooking everything you have,

for everything you wish you had.

If you do, you will never have enough.

~ Polish Proverb

Great ocean Road

 

“Happiness is a quality of the soul…not a function of one’s material circumstances.”

~Aristotle

Several years ago, I created ‘Proverbial Friday’ on my blog.

I became fascinated with traditional proverbs and sayings, their metaphorical layers and the many different interpretations found within just a few, succinct words. I marveled at their ability to transcend race, religion, opinions and age.

Mostly anonymous, proverbs are a portal through time to generations past and echo a diverse range of cultures.

They speak of the experiences of many lessons learned and the wisdom from thousands of lives already lived.

They offer us knowledge; knowledge that is passed to us in much the same way relay runners might pass a baton. Once it’s handed over, it is up to us what we do with it and how we pass it on.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something. This week we are examining the concept of being happy.

happy

 

Do you agree with Aristotle or the Polish proverb?

Is attitude, in itself, integral to feeling happy?

Charles Swindoll seems to think so.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of Attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home.

The remarkable thing is that we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our Attitudes.”

~ Charles R. Swindoll

jump joy happy

I invite you to join in the discussion by leaving a comment.

Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?

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Community

Proverbial Friday – Freedom

Freedom is a need. I have a cat. People feed this cat; they pet this cat; they give the cat everything he needs. But every time the window is open just a little, he runs away.

~Dalai Lama

silver tabby cat
Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

Freedom is a fundamental need for humans; and controversial in terms of geopolitical refugee issues. We might ask ourselves why people are running away from their homeland; why they are so terribly unhappy in camps/detention: why they don’t return home; why they want to don’t want to change their way of life/traditions or even their attitudes – part of the answer to this, is freedom. Freedom of choice.

jump happy

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.

~ Unknown Proverb

How often do we lament about our own country’s regulations preventing us from actioning something we want to do? Bureaucracy sets us more and more rules and society exacts unwritten ones.

woman using space gray iphone x
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Emerging nanny states ignore the need for personal freedom and decision-making.  Machines and technology perform routine or repetitive tasks that eliminate the need for us to think, to choose, to do. They even decide for us how many steps we should take each day, the routes we drive, they eliminate the need to remember facts, as Google knows all. Is technology in a sense, preventing  physical freedom whilst giving us a kind of intellectual freedom. Many folk today are addicted to checking email, notifications and their phones, and do not allocate time to just be, to self- reflect, to enjoy the liberty of a human on this planet.

If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbours. There is no other.

~Carl Schurz (German revolutionary and American Statesman)

sunset

Picasso’s quote hints at liberty in a metaphorical sense. How do you interpret it?

“Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.”

~ Pablo Picasso

Proverbial Friday

Several years ago, I created ‘Proverbial Friday’ on my blog.

I became fascinated with traditional proverbs and sayings, their metaphorical layers and the many different interpretations found within just a few, succinct words. I marveled at their ability to transcend race, religion, opinions and age.

Mostly anonymous, proverbs are a portal through time to generations past and echo a diverse range of cultures.

They speak of the experiences of many lessons learned and the wisdom from thousands of lives already lived.

They offer us knowledge; knowledge that is passed to us in much the same way relay runners might pass a baton. Once it’s handed over, it is up to us what we do with it and how we pass it on.

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below. Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?

Proverbial Friday – always Something to Ponder About

cropped-st-p-a.png

 

Community

Proverbial Friday

 

I find River boats artthere to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.

Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Weekly Proverb

 

“Man ska inte köpa grisen i säcken”

One shouldn’t buy the pig in the sack

 Swedish Proverb

 

Is this proverb a caution similar to suggesting that a ‘buyer beware?” A warning against buying items, sight unseen? Or could there be a deeper hidden layer of meaning?

Weekly Quotes

“If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values:

they’re just hobbies”

-Jon Stewart

 

and this:

Social comparison is the thief of happiness. 

You could spend a lifetime worrying about what others have,

but it wouldn’t get you anything

~ Marc and Angel

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment.

Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ Amanda from Something to Ponder About

 

Community

Proverbial Friday – Wise Words for Life

Weekly Proverb

Krakow 20160623_203835

You can’t heal stubbornness

~ Polish Proverb

 

 

Does this proverb reflect something about the Polish culture itself, or might it have a wider resonance in our daily lives?

We might be stubborn about matters that are important to us, because we want to be on the winning side of an argument, that is not to say that we are fixated on winning for the sake of winning, but more so that we feel reassured that others think similarly to us). If so, then this might reflect some feelings of inferiority in our inner self.

Perhaps it might also be we are concrete thinkers about right and wrong?

On the other hand, could fighting for what you believe is right, be considered by some as also being stubborn, but in a positive sense?

 

 

Weekly Quotes

There is a big empasis on working collaboratively these days, especially in the workplace. The following quote seems to confirm that approach. however, where does that leave the individual prodigy? Like the Flying fox – out on a limb?

 

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

three bats in a tree 20150812_120724

Shall we aim to help each other more!

 

Then there is this quote from Wolfgang von Goethe:

 

Some consider Wolfgang von Goethe’s quote, to be validation for positive criticism of a person or their ability. If you believe someone to be more capable than they outwardly demonstrate, can having another source, push you to lift your standards? Does it allow the person to see themselves from a different perspective?

 

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.

Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

proverbial-thurs

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment.

Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?

Community

Proverbial Friday -Wise words

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking.

I hope you will too.

If you stop every time a dog barks, your road will never end.

~ Saudi Arabian Proverb

“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”

–Duke Ellington

What do you make of the sayings for this week?

General Adams appears to be advocating against arguing with those who live to argue? Do you agree?

And then the barking dog in Saudi Arabia – a word on perseverance and avoiding distraction, perhaps?

Finally, Duke Ellington had some positive encouragement for us to problem solve our way through life.

How do you handle problems in your life?

Do you have an old habitual way of addressing them, or is every reaction of yours, individualized to the event?

Are you someone who seeks advice from others when you face a difficult challenge or alternatively, someone who prefers to process problems through venting to sympathetic friends or family?

Leave a comment to join in the discussion.

St P A

Proverbial Friday

Something to ponder about