Have Gratitude In Your Daily Life – Positive Vibe Series

When I lie on my back and look up at the Milky Way on a clear night and see the vast distances of space and reflect that these are also vast differences of time as well, when I look at the Grand Canyon and see the strata going down, down, down, through periods of time which the human mind can’t comprehend . . . it’s a feeling of sort of an abstract gratitude that I am alive to appreciate these wonders, when I look down a microscope it’s the same feeling, I am grateful to be alive to appreciate these wonders. 

Richard Dawkins

The concept of gratitude is described in different ways as an emotion, a virtue, or an attitude. Whatever your understanding of gratitude, often, it is defined by a two-step process: 1) “recognizing that one has obtained a positive outcome” and 2) “recognizing that there is an external source for this positive outcome.” (Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough). Yet, whatever your disposition with its meaning, interestingly, gratitude is not merely a cultural creation. Scientific research has shown that the concept is embedded in our evolutionary development. For instance, it has been observed that birds, vampire bats, or fish incur some costs to themselves in helping another member of their species, in view that it might be beneficial to them, eventually.

Furthermore, scientists suggest that gratitude has been developed gradually from this “tit for tat” behavior, better known as “reciprocal altruism.” A process that is based on turning strangers into friends who will likely help one another. Further studies on chimpanzees support this idea that these primates share food with another of their kind if they have been groomed or helped by them in the past. Or, studies from neuroscience have observed some areas in the brain that involve experiencing and expressing gratitude. 

Consequently, gratitude is an inherent cognitive response strongly associated with greater happiness and better physical health. A study has shown that people’s heart health improves when they show appreciation, which is related to gratitude. Regardless of how you feel, express, or express gratitude, this emotion undeniably builds stronger relationships, creates good experiences, increases our well-being, and cultivates an optimistic attitude. Not to mention, gratitude has psychological benefits perceived as an intervention to overcome negativity. Moreover, individuals who have a grateful disposition are better protected from various forms of burnout. For instance, athletes who have grateful mindsets are less prone to burn the candle at both ends.

Nevertheless, the ability to be grateful requires seeds of humility and the willingness to develop our disposition intelligently. One of the most effective ways to cultivate gratitude is to keep a journal. Studies have found that “counting your blessings” for ten weeks and keeping them in a gratitude journal increases optimism and improves life satisfaction, self-esteem, and, importantly, decreasing depression symptoms. Knowing well that as humans, we are more sensitive to negative emotions than positive. For instance, we will be miserable if things are taken away from us than if we were to receive a gift. Needless to say that being grateful does not translate into living a modest life with no ambition. On the contrary, gratitude is one of the essential components of self-improvement. It starts with full awareness of what can go wrong, what we can be grateful for, nurture a positive mindset, and build on our skills to reach our goals and progress.

In the meantime, remember:

Learn to be thankful for what you already have while you pursue all that you want.

Jim Rohn

 

 

Featured image by Perfectionist Magazine

How To Develop A Growth Mindset? Talk with Krista Roesler M.A. RP

Do you feel misunderstood, go through bitter self-recrimination, be confused about how you feel, cope with life challenges, or be distracted? Occasionally, we feel sad and display a lack of energy or vigor; however, gaining a deep understanding of the reasons behind the distress enables us to regulate our mood. The awareness allows us to remedy our feelings either through finding a solution or adopting a restorative method.

The problem arises when unknown anxiety, procrastination, fear, or an undigested disturbing experience pushes us to nihilism. When we cannot identify an accurate reason for the lingering inner conflicts, we tend to gravitate towards the negative path. This complication prevents us from gaining insight into what has triggered our despair, anxiety, or other impaired emotions. This is when self-help stops working, and you need a confidante, someone who patiently and supportively listens.

When your efforts and resources are ineffective and blindly steering the wheel, it’s time to establish a personal interaction that acts as a catalyst—a professional who can improve your wellbeing and resolve your worrisome behaviors and thoughts.

On this account, to learn more about how to deal with self-criticism, not to take offense, and develop a growth mindset, I had the opportunity to interview Krista Roesler M.A. RP, a registered psychotherapist and a professionally trained life coach at Psych Company located in Toronto:

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Courtesy of Psych Company

Jupilings: Please tell us about your background and areas of expertise- 

KW: I am a registered psychotherapist and a life coach. I have a masters degree in psychology and life coaching training from the Adler Institute/the University of Toronto. I work with individuals and couples on a wide range of issues from finding purpose in life and achieving dreams and goals to dealing with more severe mental health issues such as addiction, trauma, depression, etc. Please see the website for a more detailed list: www.psychcompany.com

Jupilings: In the context of living a meaningful & a mindful life, how can we distinguish between who we should be and whom we want to be- 

KR: In the context of living a meaningful & a mindful life you can distinguish between who we should be and who we want to be by getting familiar with our values or what is really important us. Start by writing a list of all the things you feel like you should do, have to do, feel obligated to do or others told you to do. Now cross off everything you don’t want to do. Now start a 2nd list and of the things you actually want to do and try to get more of that in your life. 

Jupilings: How to deal with self-criticism- 

KR: One way to deal with self-criticism is to first become really aware of it by writing it down. Next, separate your self-criticism from your own voice. Tell your self that just because you are thinking these thoughts it doesn’t mean any of them are true. Explore and think about where the thoughts originated. Did you have a critical parent? Next, think about what you really need to hear to feel empowered? Do you need to hear that you can do it? Do you need to hear that you are smart enough or good enough? 

Jupilings: How to become braver in life- 

KR: You can become braver in life by trying and doing things that are out of your comfort zone or that you didn’t think you could. This will help build your confidence.

Jupilings: How not to take things personally- 

KR: You can stop taking things personally by recognizing that it’s usually about someone else’s issues and not you. These issues might be that someone might have a bad day or be under stress for example. 

Ask yourself if they are like this with everyone? If they are like this with others than it is not personal.

Be curious and wonder why that person might behave that way? If it’s a bully. Were they bullied at some point in their life and now bully others? Is it someone who is shy and that’s why they have trouble with eye contact, responding, talking? When you can try to understand why someone behaves a certain way you can free yourself from taking it personally.

Jupilings: What are your 5 golden tips to help us develop a growth mindset-

KR:

  1. View all obstacles/challenges/criticism as a learning opportunity
  2. Embrace imperfection, mistakes and failure
  3. Enjoy the process of getting there and don’t hyper-focus on the end result
  4. Learn from the mistakes of others
  5. If you haven’t mastered something yet, allow time to practice and improvement.

Jupilings: We do negotiate with ourselves and others each and every day, what are the necessary traits that need to be nurtured to help us negotiate from a position of strength- 

KR: Non-judging is one of the attitudinal foundations of mindfulness. Any tips or practice that will support our efforts to adopt a non-judgemental attitude.

A tip that will support our efforts to adopt a non-judgement attitude is to be more compassionate with yourself and others. A good way to do this is to think of someone you deeply care about and want to protect such as your child or best friend. Now ask yourself if you would ever say those thoughts to your best friend or child. If you wouldn’t think about what you would say to them instead and say that to yourself. 

Jupilings: “If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool”. What are your tips to deal with our lack of understanding and to stay calm in unpleasant situations or being annoyed by people’s behaviours-

KR: A tip is to try to have empathy and to try to put yourself into that person’s shoes. Become curious about what made that person act or think that way. Remember we are all doing the best we can with where we are. Remind yourself of all the times in the past that you didn’t know any better and also acted like a “fool.”

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

KR: Setbacks are a normal part of life. I expect setbacks to happen. I factor the expectation that setbacks will occur into everything I do. It means whatever I want to do will just take a little longer and little more work to get there and that’s okay. That’s part of life. 

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

KR: Action leads to success. Every little step forward will get me closer to where I want to be. 

Click on the link provided for more information about www.psychcompany.com

How To Control Yourself When Your Emotions Get The Best Of You!

Have you recently sat down and unpacked your thoughts and asked yourself: what are the things you repeatedly do that keep you from reaching your potential?

Why this question? Because how you live your life matters. How you deal with your emotions matter. For most of your life, you acquire knowledge to have a point, to set goals, and lead a meaningful life. You probe into your conscious and allow your intelligence to guide you constructively. You tap into skills & capabilities nested in you due to your education, experience, and privileges in life with its triumph and setbacks.

If your perspective is that the world is in progress, you are a firm believer in growth and advancement. Indeed, this point of view starts with self-progress. A mindset that understands positive thinking is about emotional agility and not avoidance. We all hear disturbing news, and every day there is a painful event happening in one part of the world. However, the reality is that evolutionary progress is taking place, and we are moving forward.

So, next time your enthusiasm is ebbing away, or you feel stressed, sit down to investigate your inner feelings and thoughts. Make sure to remind yourself of the dynamic of your emotions and your ability to wean off the habit of instant gratification with mindfulness techniques. (You can refer to the mindfulness series to learn about the foundations of practice).

Few points to think about:

  • Recognize the emotions you are facing
  • Label them – Upset, fear, anger…
  • Understand that you can step out of the unpleasant situation to gain control and re-energize
  • Negotiate with yourself on how to express your feelings, whether is anger or worry, at the right time and in what dosage
  • Re-orient yourself. This process entails deciding to act in a way that is in harmony with your rational self & values.
  • Align your behavior with your goal and detach your intention from ego
  • Use your imagination for the best outcome.

It is crucial to control your emotions before taking any initiative as your best judgment is unavailable when you are boiling with anger or scared.

Remember that you choose a path of stagnation that will lead to depression or the sweet sake of manifesting yourself congruently with your potentials and powerful, capable self.

 

Featured image by Rodney Smith.

 

 

 

Change Negative Thoughts Instantly!

“Our views of our body image – what’s on the outside – are directly affected by our emotions on the inside.”

Dr Alan Watkins

Are you feeling stressed out? Are you facing challenges? Are you having negative thoughts about how things are going? Do you have a poor body image that affects how you present yourself?

Next time you are riding on the negativity rollercoaster, notice the mindless chatter that is taking over your cognitive reasoning. Recognize that tension and anxiety are the sources that are stirring up the useless inner voice that signals destructive criticism. This negativity is unrealistic, and if it is not challenged, it will consume your health, your immune system and turn you into a self-absorbed toxic person who is unaware of the world around them. So be aware!

Introspection and shifting your mindset to a positive state can be achieved through myriads of ways. There are lots of self-help books, treatments, training, and the list goes on. However, it is possible to remedy the way we feel at any moment of the day! You can control the rush of negative thoughts and tensions in the heat of the moment by shifting your focus to your heart’s physiology.

Dr. Alan Watkins, a leadership expert, neuroscientist & CEO of Complete Coherence, explains that we can balance our emotions by controlling our breath. He further points out the connection between the optimum level of our performance and our physiology. Therefore, to reach our “A game,” we need to get a grip of our different psychological and physical layers:

Performance – To be at our best, we need to change our behavior.

Behaviour – To change our behavior, we have to change the way we think.

Thoughts – Our feelings influence our thoughts.

Feelings – Our feelings are the awareness of our emotions.

Emotions – Emotion is the energy in motion from all the streams of data,

Physiology – Streams of data produced by functions and mechanism within our body,

Therefore, in a stressful situation, practicing rhythmic and smooth breathing to regain a coherent heart rate pattern allows the flow of data in our body to function without a blockage. Due to our ancient survival instinct, our frontal lobe shuts off as the time intervals’ variation between the heartbeats increases. Once you master the smooth and rhythmic breathing, you have set the ground to gain control over the fabric of your mind. As a result, the mixed self-help efforts or developmental training exerted on those psychological layers will help you stay alert and energetic to give your best. Only with practice, in an anxious state, you can steer your heart rate variability to an ideal pace so that your brain regains its clarity. The emphasis should be to breathe in measured, regular, and smooth intervals to have a coherent heart rate pattern.

Now that you are aware of the connections and most importantly, you have the elixir of control, next time you are restless and on edge, you know precisely what to do: zoom out of the negative perception of your body or mind and zoom in to your heart and breathing rhythm.

For more watch:

Featured image courtesy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy Marvin

Letting Go – Foundation of Mindfulness #7

Changing the habit of non-acceptance

  • Let the sensations come and go
  • Do not take things personally
  • Acceptance is not choosing over your preference
  • Let go of control; not everything is what we imagine nor what we believe
  • Do not react to the unwanted situation
  • Take your focus away from what you agree or disagree
  • Recognize that flaws do exist in life, in people, and your doings and point of views
  • Detach yourself from distressing thought by not giving too much weight to it
  • Create a supportive slogan for yourself to accept things as they are in challenging moments

Ultimately, by allowing things to be as they are and staying neutral, you will learn to cultivate an acceptance attitude to reduce your anger, remain calm, and eventually find solutions. Remind yourself that the sensations that you feel are magnified. Just like in a horror movie, the knife is on the kitchen counter, but it does not mean that you will be stabbed with it. Being mindful is to know that you don’t have to solve everything nor to change it at once.

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Art by Alex Gross

How to let go

The body

  • Observe your hurtful and discouraging thoughts
  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing and imagine that the frustrating emotion flows away with your exhalation

Emotions and feelings

  • Instead of ruminating on the story and inflating the situation with fear and panic, take it at face value
  • Sometimes it is best to engage with the negative thoughts and to confront them with counter argument
  • Know that if something doesn’t go your way is not the end of the world, not necessarily other bad things will continue to happen
  • Set an intention to realize the root cause of the negative thoughts, tension and frustrations
  • Journalling your feelings is helpful and sometimes physical venting like yelling off into a pillow works
  • Recognize that you have a choice to bid farewell to the hurt
  • Create peaceful images to call to mind as a support system
  • Realize that you are not in the centre of the universe
  • In frustration ask yourself is this who you really are? Then align yourself with your peaceful and intelligent self

When you cultivate peace in your attitude towards life, you are diffusing fear. Instead of kicking yourself and others over mistakes, past hurts or old injustices, learn to detach and let go of the anxiety that is brewing from the fear, criticism or offence.  It is satisfying to expose with rage the wrongdoers, vicious people or storm over unfairness but letting go with compassion and forgiveness makes you stronger. The idea is not to ignore nor to tolerate or to yield to unjust but to see things as they are! Your strength to analyze the situation with its risks and being able to shut off the anxieties which cripple and bring you to a depressive mood gives you the control over your emotions and allows you to accumulate the best possible outcome.

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Art by Merelle Fabien

For further information refer to “The Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Feature image by Michael Bergt