How to Be Mindful in Love

See Author Article Here

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It shouldn’t take a holiday like Valentine’s Day to remind you to pause and reflect on the relationships you value in your life. Whether it be with colleagues, friends, lovers, or a spouse, you can always benefit from taking a step back, appreciating the love you have in your life and making the time to show others you care about them.

When you are mindful of the love in your life you open yoursel up to the opportunity for love to grow. And not just romantic love, but self-love, and loving friendships as well.

START WITH SELF-LOVE

To connect more deeply with others, you must face the one person that you keep on the shortest leash: yourself. We often reject other people’s care or attention when we believe we don’t deserve it—but there’s nothing special you must do to deserve love. As Sharon Salzberg reminds us, it is simply because you exist. Follow this fifteen-minute guided meditation to open your heart toward giving and receiving love.

Try this practice from Sharon Salzberg to learn how to open your heart to love and compassion:

A Practice for Opening Your Heart:

A Meditation for Opening the Heart

  • 15:49

Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg offers a brief meditation for cultivating compassion.

1) Imagine you’re encircled by people who love you. Sit with your eyes closed, breathing normally, imagining yourself in the center of a circle made up of the most loving beings you’ve ever met.

2) Receive the love of those who love you. Experience yourself as the recipient of the energy, attention, care, and regard of all of these beings in your circle of love. Send love to yourself by giving yourself this message: May I be safe, May I be happy, May I be healthy. May I live with ease of heart.

3) Notice how you feel when you receive love.Whatever emotions may arise, you just let them wash through you. And repeat to yourself:  May I be safe, May I be happy, May I be healthy. May I live with ease of heart.

4) Open yourself up to receiving love. Imagine that your skin is porous and this warm, loving energy is coming in. There’s nothing special that you need to do or be in order to deserve this kind of loving care. It’s simply because you exist.

5) Send loving care to the people in your circle. You can allow that quality of loving kindness and compassion and care you feel coming toward you to flow right back out to the circle and then toward all beings everywhere, so that what you receive, you transform into giving. May we all be safe, May we all be happy, May we all be healthy. May we all live with ease of heart.

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LEARN TO CONNECT WITH THOSE YOU LOVE

In movies, people often gaze into the eyes of the person they love—but in reality, we spend more time gazing into the glowing screens of our smartphones. It’s a damaging habit that can distract us from in-person conversations and real-world experiences with people we care about. Here are 11 simple ways to build real relationships with the people you care about most:

11 Ways to Connect with Care

1. Really see each other

Making eye contact with someone activates what psychologist Stephen Porges calls our Social Nervous System, which can relieve stress and create a deeper sense of connection. It is hard not to feel intimate and vulnerable when looking into the eyes of another person—even a stranger. Try it! It may feel funny at first, but you will find a softening in your heart and a sensation of love flowing before you know it.

2. Listen with all of your senses

There’s a difference between hearing someone and actively listening to someone. The next time you’re having an in-person conversation, notice the posture and body language of the other person. Tune into the tone of their voice, and absorb the meaning of their words. See if it’s possible to put aside your own response while listening to them speak. When we feel listened to, we feel cared about and this increases a sense of mutual love and connection.

3. Reach out and touch someone

As mammals, physical contact is essential to our well-being. American psychologist Harry Harlow’s famous study on maternal deprivation with rhesus monkeys demonstrated that touch provides a crucial psychological and emotional resource in our development. Touch is also a primary way we communicate, feel safe, soothe our nervous systems, trust one another, and convey love and compassion. Take a day to experiment with actively reaching out to your loved ones with small touches (on the hand, shoulder, knee, or arm) and see what you notice—perhaps it’s a greater sense of connection, increased compassion, or an open heart.

4. Hug like you mean it

Very few things feel better than a good hug. Science shows that hugging can reduce blood pressure, alleviate fear, soothe anxiety, and release the “love” hormone oxytocin. Psychologist Stan Tatkin suggests that in order to align nervous systems, prevent arguments, and feel more connected people hug until both bodies feel relaxed. Who can you hug today?

5. Be interested

The late rabbi and social activist Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Life is routine, and routine is resistance to wonder.” One of the essential attitudes of mindfulness is curiosity, and we can bring this into our relationships to foster warmth and trust. Our minds often tell us that we “know” someone so well that we can predict their behaviors and responses. While this may be true some of the time, it also stops us from clearly seeing the person in front of us—instead we just see our “idea” of that person. See if you can be open, curious, and interested in those close to you as if you are getting to know them for the first time. You might be surprised what you find.

6. Make plans and keep them

Nothing breaks a bond like flaking on plans. And yet there are often reasons why we don’t follow through on commitments. Sometimes we’re overextended, saying “yes” to plans or responsibilities when we mean “no.” Be honest with yourself, and only take on what you can handle. Identify the people in your life who bring you down, and those who nourish and energize you. And then figure out if, and how, you can work with your relationships to those people to foster mutual trust, respect, and appreciation. Our connections flourish when we take time to get to know ourselves, and others, better.

7. Communicate your needs and feelings

Most of us have been guilty at one time or another of not being clear about what we really need or want in the moment. This indirect form of communication rarely yields the outcome we want. In our program Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness (CALM), we emphasize the importance of Non-Violent Communication, which assumes that we all share the same basic needs and that our actions (knowingly or unknowingly) are attempts to get those satisfied. When we learn how to identify and express our own needs clearly, we naturally move toward greater understanding, compassion, and connection with the people in our lives.

8. Be kind

Kindness is like a magnet. People like to be around others who are kind because they feel cared about and safe with them. The age-old Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would want them to do to you” still rings true today. It’s also reciprocal. When we practice kindness, not only do we feel better, but we help others feel good, too. And this just increases opportunities for positive connections throughout our day, which, in turn, contributes to our own health and well-being.

9. THINK before you speak

We’ve all been guilty of saying or doing something we wished we hadn’t. It happens. But we can certainly make more of an effort to be thoughtful with our words and actions. Try this experiment for a week: Before speaking to someone, consider the following: Is it True, is it Helpful, am I the best one to say it, is it Necessary, is it Kind? See how your interactions change.

We might even imagine what the world would be like if everyone practiced this a little more.

10. Practice “Just like me”

DNA research has revealed that regardless of gender, ethnicity, or race, humans are 99.9% the same. If you want to foster a greater sense of connection in your life, as you go through your day and encounter someone who you think is different from you, silently say, “Just like me,” and see what comes up. You may just experience the awareness that each of us wants the same things: to feel cared for and understood, and to experience a sense of belonging.

11. Experience joy for others

Be on the lookout for moments when you notice that others are taking care of themselves, experiencing a success or accomplishment, or even just having a good day, and see if you can be happy for them. Sometimes this joy for another’s happiness naturally arises, and other times it’s something we can intentionally foster. If you feel so bold, tell them, “Good job” or “I’m so happy for you.” Not only can this create or strengthen your connection, but it can amplify your own good feelings.

READ MORE ON CONNECTING MINDFULLY

BRING MINDFUL AWARENESS TO THE WAY YOU COMMUNICATE

Bringing awareness to the way we communicate with others has both practical and profound applications. In the middle of a painful argument with our partner, we can train ourselves to recognize when the channel of communication has shut down. We can train ourselves to remain silent instead of blurting out something we’ll later regret. We can notice when we’re over-reacting and take a time-out.

We begin practicing mindful communication by simply paying attention to how we open up when we feel emotionally safe, and how we shut down when we feel afraid. Just noticing these patterns without judging them starts to cultivate mindfulness in our communications. Noticing how we open and close puts us in greater control of our conversations.

Notice These 3 Phases of Communication

A great metaphor for this is the changing traffic light: We imagine that when the channel of communication closes down, the light has turned red. When communication feels open again, we say the light has turned green. When communication feels in-between, or on the verge of closing down, we say the light has turned yellow. The changing traffic light imagery helps us to identify our various states of communication, and to recognize the consequences of each.

The Red Light: Defensive Reactions

When the red light is on we are defensive and closed down. When we react to fear by shutting down the channel of communication, we’ve put up a defensive barrier dividing us from the world. We justify our defensiveness by holding on to unexamined opinions about how right we are. We tell ourselves that relationships are not that important. We undervalue other people and put our self-interest first. In short, our values shift to “me-first.” Closed communication patterns are controlling and mistrustful. Others become static objects only important to us if they meet our needs.

To make matters worse, when we’re closed and defensive, we feel emotionally hungry. We look to others to rescue us from aloneness. We might try to manipulate and control them to get what we need. Because these strategies never really work, we inevitably become disappointed with people. We suffer, and we cause others to suffer.

When we close down and become defensive—for a few minutes, a few days, a few months, or even a lifetime—we’re cutting ourselves off not only from others, but also from our natural ability to communicate. Mindful communication trains us to notice when we’ve stopped using our innate communication wisdom—the red light.

Openness also has the magic ingredient that enables us to fall in love, to feel empathy and courage.

The Green Light: Openness

Paying attention to our communication patterns helps us realize the value of openness. Generally, we associate open people as trustworthy, as in touch with themselves and others. But openness also has the magic ingredient that enables us to fall in love, to feel empathy and courage. When we’re open, we let go of our opinions and enter a larger mind, which gives us the power to trust our instincts.

When we’re open, we don’t see our individual needs opposing the needs of others. We experience a “we-first” state of mind, because we appreciate that our personal survival depends on the well-being of our relationships. We express this connectedness to others through open communication patterns. Open communication tunes us in to whatever is going on in the present moment, whether comfortable or not. Openness is heartfelt, willing to share the joy and pain of others. Because we’re not blocked by our own opinions, our conversations with others explore new worlds of experience. We learn, change, and expand.

The Yellow Light: In-Between

In practicing mindful communication, eventually we ask ourselves: What exactly causes me to switch from open to closed and then open again? We begin to discover the state of mind that exists in-between open and closed—symbolized by the yellow light. In-between is a place we normally don’t want to enter. We find ourselves there when the ground falls out from beneath our feet, when we feel surprised, embarrassed, disappointed—on the verge of shutting down. We might feel a sudden loss of trust, an unexpected flash of self-consciousness. Learning to hold steady and be curious at this juncture is critical to the practice of mindful conversation.

Small acts of kindness that are either shared or withheld when the yellow light is flashing can make or break a relationship.

A yellow-light transition can appear at any time. We can switch from closed to open via the yellow light, if we’re willing to enter into curiosity, or accepting that we don’t know the answer. The in-between state of mind is a critical time for bringing peace into our homes and workplaces. Small acts of kindness that are either shared or withheld when the yellow light is flashing can make or break a relationship. Once we’re in the red zone, it’s too late to engage in acts of kindness—we’re too mistrustful. I’ve seen this over and again working with couples—they reach a critical point when they can save their relationship by switching from me-first to we-first thinking. They can think about their children, pets, or anything that brings a larger picture to mind. Acts of kindness at this point shift them into a temporary mood of gratitude. Feeling gratitude makes them more interested in moving forward.

The yellow light points to those miraculous moments when we can open up, wag our tails, and play. We break the spell of our own personal agendas and awaken to genuine relationship. Such abrupt shifts seem to come out of nowhere in the middle of our most ego-crunching experiences—such as admitting that we’ve made a mistake.

A successful relationship is the result of thousands of small flashes of the yellow light, where we were able to transform disappointments and arguments into opportunities for unmasking, intimacy, and joy.


Healthy Relationships Include “Healthy” Arguments

If you are in any sort of relationship with a human, chances are you’ve had disastrous fights spring up out of nowhere. Somehow in the midst of reaching for the person you love, your communications take a hard left turn, veer off course and dump you both in a ditch… leaving you dazed and confused.

What would it look like if instead of getting triggered by our partner’s behaviors (and making up stories about why they are doing what they are doing) we could take a deep breath and share our own feelings about their behavior in a heart-centered way? And then listen to their feelings without the need to prove that we are right and they are wrong? Ooof. It’s a tall order but there are three things you can do to help you fight “mindfully.”

Three Tools for Mindful Fights

1. Breathe. Breath is an essential component of meditation. It’s a pause button. When your partner says or does something that sparks an unexpectedly strong emotion, take a breathinstead of reacting, and notice what sensations are arising. Frustration? Anger? With breath as the focus of your attention, you can observe these sensations instead of reacting to them.

2. Center. Breath allows us to become centered and present in our body. When we are centered and present, we can listen to our own feelings and expand our capacity for considering other’s feelings.

3. Connect. When we are centered, we can connect to others in a more authentic and heartfelt way. Our communications become less judgmental and more curious. In this less reactive state, we can communicate our feelings and listen to the feelings of others without needing to act or blame.

It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t take years of a formal meditation practice to apply these techniques in your relationship. It just takes a breath, a pause button, and a willingness to fight the urge to react in a way that will disconnect you from your partner, when what you really want to do is connect. It won’t always work, but even if it works some of the time, wouldn’t it be worth it?

READ MORE ABOUT OPEN COMMUNICATION

PRACTICE DEEP LISTENING

How often do you feel really listened to? How often do you really listen to others? (Be honest.)

We know we’re in the presence of a good listener when we get that sweet, affirming feeling of really being heard. But sadly it occurs all too rarely. We can’t force others to listen, but we can improve our own listening, and perhaps inspire others by doing so.

Good listening means mindful listening. Like mindfulness itself, listening takes a combination of intention and attention. The intention part is having a genuine interest in the other person—their experiences, views, feelings, and needs. The attention part is being able to stay present, open, and unbiased as we receive the other’s words—even when they don’t line up with our own ideas or desires.

Paradoxically, being good at listening to others requires the ability to listen to yourself. If you can’t recognize your own beliefs and opinions, needs and fears, you won’t have enough inner space to really hear anyone else. So the foundation for mindful listening is self-awareness.

Here are some tips to be a good listener to yourself so you can be a good listener for others.

How to Really Listen

1. Check inside: “How am I feeling just now? Is there anything getting in the way of being present for the other person?” If something is in the way, decide if it needs to be addressed first or can wait till later.

2. Feeling your own sense of presence, extend it to the other person with the intention to listen fully and openly, with interest, empathy, and mindfulness.

3. Silently note your own reactions as they arise—thoughts, feelings, judgments, memories. Then return your full attention to the speaker.

4. Reflect back what you are hearing, using the speaker’s own words when possible, paraphrasing or summarizing the main point. Help the other person feel heard.

5. Use friendly, open-ended questions to clarify your understanding and probe for more. Affirm before you differ. Acknowledge the other person’s point of view—acknowledging is not agreeing!—before introducing your own ideas, feelings, or requests.

READ MORE ABOUT MINDFUL LISTENING

Remember, “love” is a verb. Are you so busy that you forget to prioritize romance? Be honest. How strong is your current love connection on a scale from zero to 10? If it’s less than 10, read on. Here’s how you can slow down and show up for love, over and over again.

Tips for Mindful Loving

1) Remember why you love them

Take each sighting of cheap chocolates or drooping roses as a cue to take a mindful breath. Then connect with your heart. Recall special moments the two of you have shared—your first kiss, what they wore on your wedding day, the most outrageous place you’ve made love. Later, share those memories with your sweetie and celebrate some of the moments that led you along the path to now.

2) Commit to date your mate

Give the gift of interest and time, and book non-negotiable weekly dates. Try recreating your first date, but tell each other what you were privately thinking and feeling during that life-changing encounter. Plan occasional adventures—research shows that novelty and excitement heighten sexual attraction, so skip the movie and head for a climbing wall, an erotic massage class, or a spot for skinny dipping.

This Is The Most Powerful Way To Make Your Life Fantastic

See Author Article Here
By Eric Barker

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Last year Cal Newport convinced 1,600 people to completely change their lives.He asked them to take a 30-day break from the optional technologies in their lives. Unless not using it would get you fired, divorced, or cause the people you love to spontaneously burst into flame, it was out. Say goodbye to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a month.And anything not optional got rules: only checking email at designated hours and the screen time limits you might impose on your kids now got imposed on you. So what happened?No, nobody had a seizure. And, yes, the initial transition was rough for many. But after that, in the vast majority of cases, it utterly changed people’s lives for the better.

They got happier. More productive. They spent more quality time with their kids. One father remarked how weird it was to be the only parent at the playground notlooking at his phone.

Research shows 70% of your happiness comes from relationships:

Contrary to the belief that happiness is hard to explain, or that it depends on having great wealth, researchers have identified the core factors in a happy life. The primary components are number of friends, closeness of friends, closeness of family, and relationships with co-workers and neighbors. Together these features explain about 70 percent of personal happiness. – Murray and Peacock 1996

And what’s the biggest controllable factor that’s taking quality time away from your relationships? Probably your phone. The internet. The pseudo-relationships you have on social media.

We’ve read a thousand tips and tricks for reducing our screen time but they’re like fad diets and are generally only effective until the next time you feel a buzzing in your pocket.

Technology’s not evil, but we need to find a balance. We need more than tips, we need a philosophy. A system. Dare I say, an ethos. And Cal has one for us: “Digital Minimalism.”

No, Cal’s not going to tell you to smash your phone. Quite the opposite: He’s a professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, sporting a PhD from MIT. The Force is strong with this one. He’s the bestselling author of a whole bunch of books, including the amazing Deep Work.

His latest book is Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

I gave Cal a call to find out how we can get the best of technology — so it doesn’t get the best of us. This isn’t another rant about the evils of screens. It’s a battle plan for building a better life.

Let’s get to it …

The true enemy is “reverse FOMO”

FOMO: fear of missing out. You’ve probably clicked an article about the subject because, hey, wouldn’t wanna miss out on the latest internet hysteria. But FOMO is a false god. It’s not the real problem.

The real problem is “reverse FOMO.” You’re not missing out on anything online. But by always being online you’re missing out on life. Here’s Cal:

We have this idea of FOMO, which is that if you’re not super-connected, there could be something you’re missing out on. But the reality is that the issue most people are having is that because they’re using technology more than they know is healthy, it’s crowding out all the things that we know deep down make a good life good. People are missing out on real-world conversation, which is just crucial for a satisfying life. Being with people in person, sacrificing time and effort to actually be with someone, to connect with them through the good, the bad, the boring, the interesting. We need that to survive.

The ability to lift your phone at any moment is slicing good hours into time confetti. It’s preventing us from accomplishing big things and focusing on the people we love. And at the same time it’s creating a salad bar of new problems like anxiety, FOMO and loneliness. Sorry, your brain needs more social connection than Facebook Likes can provide. Here’s Cal:

…we’re seeing this increasingly strong signal that more social media use means higher likelihood of loneliness. And one of the leading hypotheses is that social media displaces real-world interaction. If you’re on social media all the time, you feel like you’re very social, and therefore you don’t invest the effort required to do as much real-world interaction. Our brains evolved for millions of years with no like buttons or emojis. When you say, “Okay, I’m not going to give you any face to face interaction, but what I am going to give you is a little number that counts how many hearts someone clicks on a picture” — that’s not satisfying it. That’s why you can ironically end up more lonely when you spend more time on social media platforms. It’s something we should be much more afraid of than we are.

Too much phone time isn’t just distracting us from our relationships — research shows it’s making us worse at conducting them. Here’s Cal:

Sherry Turkle from MIT documents that conversation actually requires practice. There’s a dance involved in sitting across from someone and negotiating that interaction. And if you rob a lot of that from your life, you get bad at it. It not only makes you lonely, it not only brings out anxiety-related disorders, it makes you really bad at relating when you have to do it.

People will respond “But social media is good for X and Y. I do get value from it!” No doubt. But that logic is a trap. Plenty of things have some value — the question is what are you giving up in exchange for it?

You have 24 hours in a day. If you’re doing one thing, you’re not doing another. Is the value you get from epic hours online better than the value you’d get from the alternative? Better than quality time with friends? We need to be more conscious of the choices we’re making.

When a friend convinces you to download yet another app, they may say “you don’t know what you’re missing.” But when it comes to real life, we do know what we’re missing. And often it’s far more valuable than whatever another dinging notification brings.

(To learn more about how you and your children can lead a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)

So what do we do about it?

Forget lifehacks — Start with values

Tech’s not good. Tech’s not evil. Tech’s a tool. You can use it for good or for let’s-be-honest-checking-email-300-times-a-day-is-not-very-good.

You never sat down and decided that your default should be you’ll stare at your phone every time you have a free second. But somehow it became the rule anyway.

And that’s the problem. We didn’t make a decision. And that has led to epic amounts of asking, “Where the heck did all my time go?”

We don’t need a lifehack. We need to start with values to make sure that technology serves us instead of us serving it. A hammer is a tool. But you wouldn’t default to picking it up every time you had a free moment. That would be silly.

You’d grab it for a purpose that served your goals. But things get screwed up when you don’t know what your values and goals are. Here’s Cal:

What matters is your whole picture for your life. You’re trying to build a good life that focuses on the things that are important to you, and technology is only useful in so much as it helps support the things you really care about. What this means is that you’re going to be very intentional. “Here’s what I really value. I’m going to focus my energy on these things, and I’m going to ignore and miss out on everything else.” That intentionality itself can be way more satisfying and positive than the benefits you get from all of those minor conveniences and minor dollops of value. You’re figuring out what’s important to your life. For each of these things, you’re stepping back and saying, “What’s the best way to use technology, if at all, to support this value?” and then you ignore everything else.

If your career is everything to you and you’re in sales, hey, maybe you need to check email 300 times a day. No problem — that’s in service of your values. But that’s not the case for most of us.

You need to ask yourself what’s important to you. And then make a decision about how technology fits into your life to serve those goals. Be intentional abut setting rules that serve your purpose. Here’s Cal:

How many people just made a New Year’s resolution to look at their phone less? That doesn’t do it. How many people have read the same article again and again about turning off their notifications? That’s the equivalent of telling people, “Vegetables are good for you. Try to eat less and move more.” It’s not enough. People need a philosophy based on their values so we don’t have to think about it. Digital Minimalism is one such philosophy. It’s like the veganism or the paleo of the digital world.

“Paleo for your screen” has a nice ring to it. But that might be too extreme for most of us.

But you need to know your values and priorities. And then set rules that work for them. Because as we’ve all seen, if we don’t start with values tech time will fill every void by default and you’ll end up wondering where the hours went.

You may also end up wondering where you friends and family went too.

(To learn how to stop checking your phone, click here.)

I know what a lot of people are thinking: “Um, other than vague platitudes about putting those I love first, what are my values?” And that leads us to another problem with tech. To address this one, we actually need to start by getting away from people.

In fact, we need to get away from everything for a little while …

Try a long walk without a phone

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away people used to do this thing called “thinking.” They didn’t listen to anything, read anything, or talk to anyone for a little while. You can look this “thinking” thing up on Wikipedia and it probably has a picture of a horse and buggy next to it.

These days I think many of us are scared to death of being alone with our own minds. This wasn’t always the way. And it’s not good. Here’s Cal:

A smartphone made it possible for the first time in human history to eliminate all moments of solitude and deep thought from your day because it provides an endless stream of compelling stimuli. If you want to take in ideas and process them into something valuable, this requires a lot of thinking, and this thinking has to be done free from other stimuli. So if you want to take the great ideas from that new Eric Barker article and integrate them into your life into a way that’s really useful, you can’t just read the article. You also are going to have to spend some time thinking about what you read and place it within the structures that already exist in your life. You have to have time alone with your thoughts to extract anywhere near the full possible value from information.

We need to do less reacting and more reflecting. Back to Professor Cal:

Having insight about your values, your life, changes in your life, what you want to do, how you want to live, these key bits of self-reflection that help us grow as human beings absolutely depend on solitude. There has to be time where it’s you alone with your thoughts.

So go out and take a long walk, sans phone, and try this “thinking” thing. Reading and listening to good ideas is awesome — trust me, I’m a big fan. But we also need time alone to create good ideas.

We need to think about what is important to us. When we have the answer to that, many other decisions become much much easier.

(To learn the 4-step morning ritual that will make you happy all day, click here.)

So you’re taking time to think. You know what’s important to you. But now you’re going to face the same problem the 1600 people in Cal’s experiment did:

“What the heck do I do with myself now that I’m not online all the time?”

“High-quality analog leisure”

Archaeologists have discovered that back in that Dark Ages when people did that “thinking” thing,  they also engaged in these odd rituals called “hobbies.” These were projects where they gained skills and created things without incentives from an employer. How quaint. Here’s Cal, who explains things with 90% less snark:

Historically, especially in the 19th century or the 20th century, as people had more leisure time, the natural discomfort with boredom drove them to try to fill it with quality activities or community engagement, high-skilled hobbies, intellectual pursuits that are done for non-professional reasons, like poetry and novels and big idea thinking. And we were always driven towards this.

We all have activities we’re passionate about. Things we’d like to do that make us feel proud of ourselves. Things we’d like to be respected for. We look at people who teach themselves to play the guitar or learn another language and say, “Where do they find the time?”

But we all have the same 24 hours. Really. (It has to do with physics or something.) I laugh when I see articles on the net about, “How To Read More Books.” They get a lot of clicks. And people often ask me, “Eric, you read a lot. How can I read more?” But I won’t be posting on the subject anytime soon. Actually, I will.

Here you go: “The things that are not reading, do them less. The things that are reading, do them more. The End.”

We all have 24 hours. It’s about priorities. And many of us are making our phones and social media a big priority — whether we admit it to ourselves or not.

One of the most common things Cal heard from the 1600 was, “I forgot just how much I enjoyed doing X.” We should all do more X. And some Y. Forget Z, it sucks.

We blast our free hours into time confetti and then can’t conceive of how people take on big personal projects or learn new skills. What hobby might bring you more joy or pride?

Seriously, answer that question — because if you don’t know the answer, your efforts to curb your tech use will inevitably fail. You must have something to fill the void. And it has to excite you more than Instagram.

(To learn the 4 harsh truths that will make you a better person, click here.)

So other than your new stamp-collecting hobby, what else do you need to do? Hint: it involves people…

Make awesome plans with friends

Social media is the empty calories of friend nutrition. Keep stuffing your face with digital Doritos and you won’t have time for a real meal.

Think the world will end if you don’t comment on your friend’s next Facebook selfie? It won’t if you go visit them in person. Here’s that Cal guy again:

Digital minimalists are way more invested in real-world conversation. Maybe they don’t comment on that baby picture, but they show up unsolicited with dinner so you don’t have to cook that night. They call you. And it’s a priority for them. “I want to talk to you. What’s going on? How’s X, Y, Z happening with your work?” And so their friendships end up becoming much stronger.

This is what he saw with the 1600. (I encourage you all to emulate them — and bring me dinner.)

Do your best not to socialize digitally anymore if you can help it. Don’t use texting to catch up — use it for logistics to arrange a get together. Prioritize quality over quantity. Less texting, more hugging. Hugs make you happy. Science says so. Mom says so. Scientific moms say so.

But the big thing we’re missing these days is activities. People used to do things. Yeah, coffee or a drink is nice, but we need events, celebrations and competitions. Poker nights, board games, pickup basketball. We need to be a part of something and have a medium in which to connect, cooperate and express ourselves. Here’s Señor Newport:

So this is one of the benefits you get from high-quality leisure activities that have a social component to them, such as playing a board game with a group of friends or Ultimate Frisbee with your team. Part of why these types of things seem to be really beneficial is that the structure of the activity allows you a lot more flexibility and enjoyment in your social interaction that you might have in a simple conversation.

Play Monopoly. Plan an outing. Go conquer a neighboring village.

(To learn how to have a long awesome life, click here.)

Okay, we’ve learned a lot about what we’ve been missing. Let’s round it all up and see just how essential being part of a real-life community is to every one of us …

Sum up

This is the most powerful way to make your life fantastic:

  • Reverse FOMO is the problem: You’re not missing anything online. But if you’re always online you’re missing a lot of what makes life great.
  • You Don’t Need Lifehacks, You Need Values: If you don’t know what’s more important to you than spending time on Instagram, you will keep spending all your time on Instagram.
  • Long Walks Without A Phone: Thinking. Give it a try. I promise you, it’s not something you want someone else to do for you.
  • High Quality Analog Leisure: Make something, learn something, practice something. We all have 24 hours in a day. Someone else is not doing cooler things than you because they have “more time”. It’s because they have different priorities.
  • Make Awesome Plans With Friends: Which village should we conquer first?

It’s about feeling good about yourself. Living a life in alignment with your deepest values. Accomplishing things you’re proud of. And, most of all, being engaged with a community of people who love and support you.

I like technology. So do you. Nobody’s saying we have to surrender our phones and smash our routers. The issue is, by not having rules around how much we use it, we’ve quietly sacrificed some things that are vital. We can’t let digital connection get in the way of real community. That’s what we should be afraid of missing out on. It’s more important than any buzzing in our pocket — and if we take the time to really think about what makes us truly happy, we’ll choose community over modern conveniences almost every time.

I’m not trying to be all sappy and poetic. We have evidence. By the end of the nineteenth century, cities in America were rapidly moving toward what would become the modern world. New technologies, more convenience — but less community.

However, among the Native American tribes, not much was changing. Largely egalitarian and ruled by consensus, they lived much the same as they had for thousands of years. Not much new technology, but no shortage of community.

Here’s what’s interesting: city-dwellers sometimes left to join the Native American tribes. But the reverse almost never occurred.

From Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging:

It may say something about human nature that a surprising number of Americans—mostly men—wound up joining Indian society rather than staying in their own. They emulated Indians, married them, were adopted by them, and on some occasions even fought alongside them. And the opposite almost never happened: Indians almost never ran away to join white society. Emigration always seemed to go from the civilized to the tribal, and it left Western thinkers flummoxed about how to explain such an apparent rejection of their society.

Actually, it even gets more extreme than that.

From Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging:

“When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs,” Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend in 1753, “[yet] if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.” On the other hand, Franklin continued, white captives who were liberated from the Indians were almost impossible to keep at home: “Tho’ ransomed by their friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a short time they become disgusted with our manner of life … and take the first good opportunity of escaping again into the woods.”

Humans are a social species. We long to be part of a community, part of a tribe. Given the option, we’ll always choose it. The modern world isn’t giving us a lot of great choices. So we must create them for ourselves. And the first step toward that is making sure that technology serves our communal needs, rather than replacing them.

Seriously, how many of the best moments of your life happened in front of a screen?

We Looked Into The Real Benefits of Acupuncture

See Vice Article Here
By Markham Heid

In 1991, on a trail high in the Austrian-Italian Alps, two hikers stumbled onto a man’s 5,000-year-old corpse. Now known as “Ötzi” the Iceman, the corpse bore more than a dozen clusters of skin tattoos.

Experts first assumed the tattoos were ornamental. But researchers have since noted that many of Ötzi’s inkings are located in places along his back and spine that correspond with traditional Chinese acupuncture points—points targeted for the treatment of digestive disorders. An analysis of Ötzi’s gut turned up the remnants of parasitic worms, and Ötzi’s pack contained a fruit known to help treat GI problems.

Experts broadly agree that acupuncture has been around since at least 100 B.C. While controversial, the Ötzi tattoo researchers say their findings suggest that a “treatment modality similar to acupuncture” may have existed more than 5,000 years ago.

If nothing else, acupuncture qualifies as a “time-tested” form of therapy. And while many conventional doctors and scientists dismiss it as pseudo-medicine, it’s hard to believe acupuncture could have persisted for millennia if there weren’t something to it. The research to date, while incomplete, suggests acupuncture may provide real therapeutic benefits.

What is acupuncture?

Traditional Chinese medicine holds that a sort of vital energy or life force—known as a person’s qi (pronounced or also known as “chi”)—flows through the body along defined pathways or “meridians.” Diseases are believed to cause (or be caused by) disruptions or “disharmonies” in the flow of a person’s qi. The needle pokes we all associate with acupuncture are meant to correct or influence these disharmonies.

Some contemporary acupuncture practitioners play down the stuff about qi and meridians. Also, acupuncture comes in many shapes and sizes: for example, some acupuncturists incorporate electrical stimulation. But needle insertions in specific points are a universal trait of the therapy.


More from Tonic:

 


From the perspective of conventional medicine, a therapy doesn’t “work” unless it both outperforms a placebo and does so via an identifiable “mechanism of action.” Like a high schooler taking a math exam, it’s not enough to for acupuncture to come up with the right answer—it also has to show its work.

A lot of researchers have gone looking for evidence that acupuncture “works,” but experts disagree in their interpretations of the study results. “There have been several recent meta-analyses [on specific conditions] that concluded acupuncture had a statistically significant benefit,” says Vitaly Napadow, an acupuncture researcher and director of the Center for Integrative Pain Neuroimaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “But depending on who you talk to, you’ll get different answers about whether they believe in specific acupuncture effects or if they think the role of placebo effect or expectancy made the difference.”

Napadow’s take: It’s not a panacea that will cure all ills, but there are some areas where acupuncture is promising and, given its safety profile, should be recommended. “I think its mechanisms depend on the disease it’s trying to treat,” he says.

For nausea- or pain-related conditions, acupuncture may activate nerve receptors in the skin that modulate levels of nervous system chemicals or signals involved in these ailments, he explains. Meanwhile, for conditions like arthritis or tendonitis, the micro-injuries caused by acupuncture pin pricks may draw blood and its healing elements to the affronted area—causing a temporary reduction in symptoms, he says.

But as of today, all these mechanisms are speculative and need to be confirmed by more research. There’s also debate over whether the stuff about qi or meridians is useful. Some studies that have compared sham acupuncture—basically, needles stuck in at random—to true acupuncture have failed to find a difference in patient outcomes, while others have concluded that legit acupuncture outperformed the sham procedure.

To sum all this up, everything to do with acupuncture is controversial. But for some conditions, the existing research suggests the practice may confer real and meaningful benefits.

Does acupuncture work for pain?

“This is the area where we have the most data,” Napadow says. And the results are encouraging.

A comprehensive 2018 review found that, for patients managing chronic pain, acupuncture outperformed a sham procedure and “standard” care, which usually meant pain pills. “If our study had been on a drug, we’d say the drug works—there’s a statistically significant effect there,” says Andrew Vickers, first author of that study and a biostatistician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Vickers’ study focused on patients suffering from pain associated with four common ailments: back and neck pain, arthritis, shoulder pain, and headaches. Acupuncture was similarly effective for each of these conditions, his study found. Also, acupuncture’s benefits were durable: After a year of treatment, the average patient reported only a minor drop it its efficacy.

“It could be that acupuncture is just a very effective placebo,” Vickers says. But when you consider the lack of good treatment options for long-term pain—and the risks associated with prescription pain pills or surgeries—acupuncture is “a reasonable referral option” for patients with chronic pain, he says.

Can acupuncture treat gut disorders?

The evidence on acupuncture for gut problems is mixed. A 2017 study inAnnals of Internal Medicine found that, for patients suffering from severe constipation, acupuncture significantly outperformed a sham procedure when it came to improving the frequency of bowel movements. But more research is needed to assess the long-term effects of acupuncture, that study’s authors write.

Meanwhile, a 2013 review from a group of Chinese researchers found evidence that acupuncture may beat out some common prescription drugs for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). But the authors of that review say the studies they turned up were generally of “low” quality. A 2007 review from a German team linked acupuncture with significant improvements in quality of life and “disease activity scores” (a measure that determines whether symptoms have reduced) among patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis—the two most common forms of IBD. But the authors of that review say the studies they turned up were generally of “low” quality—meaning the design or execution of the studies was poor, and so the results are shaky.

Long story short, the jury’s still out.

Does acupuncture work for fertility?

Proponents of acupuncture have long recommended it for female menstrual health and fertility. And a 2014 research review from Australia found “preliminary” evidence that acupuncture could help regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and “assist” healthy ovulation.

How (in the hell) could it do that? Some research has hypothesized that acupuncture may help stimulate and also regulate uterine and ovarian blood flow, which could help thicken the lining of a woman’s uterus, which in turn could facilitate embryo implantation and successful pregnancy. But all this is theoretical.

2018 study, also from Australia, tracked more than 800 women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). It found no significant uptick in successful births among those who underwent acupuncture versus those who didn’t.

Can acupuncture treat depression?

Again, the research is all over the map. A 2010 review found “insufficient” evidence backing acupuncture for the treatment of depression. But, more recently, a team of UK academics determined that there was “promising” clinical evidence showing acupuncture could help treat depression—enough to warrant further research.

It’s probably worth noting that, even when it comes to prescription antidepressants (namely, SSRIs), there’s considerable expert disagreement about whether these pills outperform placebos. While the data on acupuncture for the treatment of depression is inconsistent, some studies suggest it’s “at least” as effective as prescription drugs.

Does it work for anything else?

Pick a medical condition or mental health disorder, and there’s probably some evidence suggesting acupuncture may help treat it. But the reality is that, as of today, experts are still trying to wrap their heads around acupuncture and its role in medicine.

There are two things that can be said for acupuncture: It’s relatively inexpensive, and it comes with very few side effects, Napadow says. If the alternative is an expensive procedure or pills—especially opioids or other medications with serious side effects—you lose very little by giving acupuncture a try first, he adds.

Beer Yoga Lets You Tap Your Inner Power (And Favorite Brew)

See Author Article Here
By Brian Bull

If you’re a beer aficionado who likes developing strength, flexibility, and a sense of well-being, you’ll want to roll out a mat at the annual KLCC Brewfest this weekend.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports on the trend of “beer yoga.”

Benjamin Wilkinson, principal partner and lead instructor of Stop, Drop & Yoga LLC, atop KLCC’s RV, “Elsie”.

The event is being coordinated by Stop, Drop, and Yoga, which already holds beer-yoga classes at the Public House in Springfield. Its lead instructor, Benjamin Wilkinson, says the concept is simple.

Wilkinson leads a beer yoga session at the Public House in Springfield.
CREDIT STOP, DROP & YOGA LLC

“It’s yoga plus beer,” he says, chuckling.  “And traditionally we do the yoga first, then we drink the beer afterwards.

“However, the idea is to combine some of your favorite things. Adding yoga to a beer festival is just one more way to enjoy that festival.”

Wilkinson says there’s two beer-yoga sessions Saturday afternoon, and all are welcome regardless of experience.

“Come for the ‘ohm’, stay for the ale.  But if you’re a lager fan, we don’t discriminate.”

CREDIT JULIE 0_0 / FLICKR.COM

As to what Wilkinson likes to drink after yoga?

“I’m a big fan of open fermented sours,” he tells KLCC.

“There’s nothing like a little mindfulness to put you in the place to drink and enjoy a complex and interesting beer.”

The sessions are free to all Brewfest participants.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

These Two Questions are Key to Mastering Any Skill

See Author Article Here
By Peter Bregman

A feeling of discomfort may mean that you’re on the right track.

It was the last race of the ski season. My son Daniel, 10 years old, was at the starting gate in his speed suit, helmet and goggles, waiting for the signal.

“3… 2… 1…” The gate keeper called out and he was gone in a flash, pushing off his ski poles to gain momentum. One by one, each gate smacked to the ground when he brushed by. As he neared the end, he crouched into an aerodynamic tuck to shave a few milliseconds from his time. He crossed the finish line —48.37 seconds after the start — breathing hard. We cheered and gave him hugs.

But he wasn’t smiling.

48.37 seconds put him solidly in the middle of the pack.

I had coaching ideas. Ways I could help him get faster. While I am an executive and leadership coach, I coach skiing on the weekends and I was a ski racer myself at his age. But I held back my feedback, hugged him again and told him I loved him. That’s what he needed in that moment.

Later though, I asked him how he felt about the race.

“I never get in the top 10.”

This is delicate terrain — coaching your own kids — and I chose my words carefully.

“I have two questions for you,” I said. “One: Do you want to do better?”

If the answer is “no,” then to attempt to coach would be a fool’s errand (a mistake I have made in the past).

“Yeah,” he said.

“Here’s my second question: Are you willing to feel the discomfort of putting in more effort and trying new things that will feel weird and different and won’t work right away?”

He was silent for a while and I let the silence just hang there. Silence is good. It’s the sound of thinking. And this was an important question for Daniel to think about.

I believe — and my experience coaching hundreds of leaders in hundreds of different circumstances proves — that anyone can get better at anything. But in order to get better — and in order to be coached productively — you need to honestly answer “yes” to both those questions.

Maybe you want to be a more inspiring leader. Or connect more with others. Maybe you want to be more productive or more influential. Maybe you want to be a better communicator, a more impactful presenter, or a better listener. Maybe you want to lead more effectively, take more risks, or become a stronger manager.

Whatever it is, you can become better at it. But here’s the thing I know just as clearly as I know you can get better at anything: you will not get better if 1) you don’t want to and 2) you aren’t willing to feel the discomfort of doing things differently.

One senior leader I worked with became defensive when people gave him feedback or criticized his decisions. He wanted to get better, he told me, and he was willing to feel the discomfort. So I gave him very specific instructions (learned from my friend Marshall Goldsmith): Meet with each member of your team and acknowledge that you have struggled with accepting feedback and tell them that you are committed to getting better. Then ask for feedback — especially ways you can be a better leader — and take notes. Don’t say anything other than “Thank you.”

“It took every restraint muscle in my body not to get into a conversation about their comments,” he told me afterwards. “Especially because I felt they misunderstood me at times. It was beyond uncomfortable. And I messed up a few times and had to apologize. But I did it — and they haven’t stopped talking about what a welcome change it’s been.”

Learning anything new is, by its nature, uncomfortable. You will need to act in ways that are unfamiliar. Take risks that are new. Try things that, in many cases, will be initially frustrating because they won’t work the first time. You are guaranteed to feel awkward. You will make mistakes. You may be embarrassed or even feel shame, especially if you are used to succeeding a lot — and all my clients are used to succeeding a lot.

If you remain committed through all of that, you’ll get better.

I now ask those two questions before committing to coach any CEO or senior leader. It’s a prerequisite to growth.

I sat silently with Daniel for long enough that I thought he might have forgotten my question. Sitting in the discomfort of that moment, I realized that this was a new behavior for me too. I’m used to jumping in and trying to help him. Now, I was sincerely asking him whether he wanted my help. I was honestly OK with whatever answer he gave me — and it felt a little weird. But the more I settled into the silence, the more comfortable I got with just sitting with him — which I found I loved doing.

Finally, he spoke up.

“I think so” he said, “but it’s the end of the season. Can we talk about it at the beginning of next season?”

“Sure,” I said, “I’ll ask you again then.”

Originally posted at Harvard Business Review

26 Tweets That Perfectly Sum Up What Getting Older Is All About

See Buzzfeed Article Here
By Dave Stropera

Getting older is so many different things to so many different people, but it’s mostly…

1. Not being easily angered by trivial things:

twitter.comastoldbyjayde

2. Having an active and fulfilling social life:

Twitter: @haleymrobertson

3. Seizing the day:

Twitter: @simplynhinz

4. Thinking back on your past mistakes:

Twitter: @katie_taylor987

5. Carefully planning your routine:

twitter.comissasassybitch

6. Coming up with new excuses:

Twitter: @summ1tup

7. Realizing what makes YOU happy:

Twitter: @donfrijole / Via Practically Functional

8. And what YOU love in life:

Twitter: @Contwixt / Via Getty

9. Being happy for those to you:

Twitter: @_viibbe

10. Discovering the things that bring you joy:

Twitter: @adultproblem

11. Finding time to enjoy some entertainment:

Twitter: @adultproblem

12. Finally understanding the finer things in life:

Twitter: @mrfilmkritik

13. And learning to appreciate fine art:

Twitter: @onefunnymummy

14. Staying awake for very good reasons:

Twitter: @imtheebrock

15. Finding pleasure in the little things in life:

reddit.com

16. Reminscing on the good old days:

Twitter: @_daytonw

17. Being prepared:

Twitter: @valeegrrl

18. Having the hard conversations:

Twitter: @erinringerr

19. Listening to the wisdom of the youth:

Twitter: @khatragirl

20. Taking a little time for yourself:

Twitter: @kiranclassy

21. Staying organized:

Twitter: @justalikks

22. Taking care of the youth of today:

Twitter: @oshimakesmusic

23. Speaking eloquently whenever possible:

Twitter: @adultprobs

24. Treating yourself:

Twitter: @docawesome_phd

25. Having true freedom:

Why Having A Hobby Is So Good For Your Mental Health

See Author Article Here
By Sarah Garone

How do you answer when someone asks, “What are your hobbies?” Playing guitar, competing in triathlons, decorating show-stopping cakes? As it turns out, engaging in a hobby means more than just having something to chat about at parties or fill your Saturdays with. Research shows that keeping up with the activities that interest us actually has measurable benefits for mental health.

Wondering how your knitting project or instrument practice could bring you peace of mind? We chatted with Dr. Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist, musician, and consultant for Fender’s guitar-learning app Fender Play about various ways investing in a hobby enriches the life of the mind.

Woman playing guitar

HOBBIES MAKE US GET CREATIVE

Many hobbies are inherently creative. Whether you’re painting, woodworking, or baking muffins, you’re not only producing something that never existed before, you’re engaging the creative network of your brain. Creative pursuits are experimental acts, says Dr. Levitin: “These acts of experimentation expand the neural networks in our brains, making connections between circuits in the brain that might not have otherwise been connected.” This type of neural linking-up boosts mood in a measurable way. It actually modulates levels of the feel-good hormones dopamine and opioids in the brain, says Dr. Levitin. And although popular perception tends to associate “creative types” with mental illness, research indicates that imaginative pursuits are actually restorative for mental health.

While engaged in a creative hobby, you may also find yourself in a mental state known as “flow.” Described by psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi, the concept of “flow” is sometimes better known as getting “in the zone.” It occurs when you’re engaged in an activity to the point of almost meditative focus. Ever find that when you sit down to or scrapbook or play piano, your mind doesn’t even wander? That’s flow. Getting into this focused state promotes mindfulness, known for its positive effects on stress and anxiety.

HOBBIES BOOST SELF-IMAGE

When your self-image needs a pick-me-up, you might typically take to social media to rack up likes on a cute photo or funny meme. But for better results, try diving into your favorite hobby. Spending time on your own leisure pursuit is a self-care gift you give yourself — and some hobbies result in actual gifts you can give others. Taking pride in a handmade card or blessing friends with your musical talents could go a long way toward boosting your good vibes.

Hobbies also serve to keep the blues away by helping us hone valuable expertise. Maybe your years of dabbling in web design could lead you to teach a class on it, or perhaps your persistence with running has helped you place in your most recent competitive 5K. This type of skills mastery has been associated with reduced psychological distress. Tellingly, a survey conducted by Fender found that people who played guitar as a hobby had “increased patience, confidence in self and skills, work ethic and persistence.” Sounds like devoting time to improving a skill could make you feel like a rockstar (even if you’re not playing guitar).

HOBBIES CONNECT US WITH OTHERS

A number of hobbies are meant to be performed in a group, or lend themselves well to collaborating with others. Picking up a new pastime can be a great way to meet new people and establish friendships. Shared experiences enhance our enjoyment of activities and help us to feel less isolated. Dr. Levitin confirms this phenomenon: “People who play music together experience increased levels of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes social relationships and bonding.” So if you’re looking for the best hobby for your mental well-being, try something interactive, like joining a band or improv group.

With some hobbies, of course, it’s natural to fly solo. (Let’s be honest, it’s a little difficult to do sudoku in a group.) But even your solo pursuits make you a more diverse and interesting person — qualities that attract social engagement.

HOBBIES DECREASE STRESS

Finally, hobbies simply give us a break we can look forward to. Creative hobbies in particular “are the perfect antidote to high-stress jobs of multitasking and computer-based work,” says Dr. Levitin. (We’d argue that physical hobbies are too!) Turning to something non-work-related allows us to “hit the reset button in the brain, replenishing neurochemicals in the brain that have been depleted by a few hours of high-stress work,” he says.

As long as you enjoy your hobby, it really doesn’t matter what it is. Research shows that both physical health and mental health benefit when we use our leisure time for something constructive but fun. So whether it’s continuing your lifelong love affair with soccer or picking up the guitar for the first time, maybe it’s time to make your favorite hobby a priority.

Why Happiness Is The Ultimate Currency

See PsychCentral Article Here
By 

My friend Avi is a great barber. His customers, myself included, refer to his golden hands — his ability to satisfy my son’s desire to look like Ronaldo, or a woman’s desire before her daughter’s wedding to look like Grace Kelly. Putting his phenomenal skills together with his sound business sense, Avi could have easily expanded his business far beyond his little salon.

So I asked him one day why he chose not to grow his business by adding a bigger place in a more central location in the city, or by opening other branches. Avi said he’d thought about it several times but in the end decided against it: “I asked myself, is this something I really want, or is it something others think I should do?” He went on to describe the can-must link that’s so pervasive in our culture: the belief that if you can grow, you must grow. But why?

Avi explained that over a decade ago, he understood that no matter how much he had — a bigger house, a faster car, a fatter bank account — he would always want more. He could choose to continue in the rat race and never satisfy his desires, or he could stop the race and be satisfied with what he had. He went on to quote a Jewish source, the Chapters of the Fathers: “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.”

Cutting hair in his small salon gives Avi the emotional gratification no amount of money could buy. His daily experiences were worth more than all of the gold in Fort Knox because happiness, not wealth or prestige, is the ultimate currency.

What, for you, is worth all of the gold in Fort Knox? Can you envision something in your life that would provide you with an abundance of happiness? To identify sources of the ultimate currency in your life, follow these four steps:

Step 1: Record your daily activities.

For a week (or two), keep a record of your daily activities. Throughout the day, write down how you’ve spent your time, from a twenty-minute session responding to e-mails to a night of binge-watching TV. This record doesn’t need to be a precise, minute-by-minute account of your day, but it should give you a sense of what your days tend to look like.

Step 2: Assign meaning and pleasure.

Once your activity list is complete, create a table that lists each activity, how much meaning and pleasure the activity provides, and how long you typically spend doing it. Indicate whether you’d like to spend more or less time on each activity by adding a “+” for more time or a “++” for a lot more time. If you’d like to spend less time on the activity, put a “−” next to it; for a lot less time, write “−−.” If you’re satisfied with time you’re investing in a particular activity, or if changing the amount of time you spend isn’t possible for one reason or another, add an “=” next to it.

Step 3: Highlight activities with high-yield happiness.

Which of your activities provide the most happiness in the least about of time? Are there things you don’t do now, but would yield significant profits in the ultimate currency? Would going to the movies once a week contribute to your well-being? Would it make you happier to devote four hours a week to your favorite charity and to work out three times a week? If you have many constraints and can’t introduce significant changes, make the most of what you have.

Step 4: Introduce happiness boosters.

What happiness boosters — brief activities that provide both meaning and pleasure –could you introduce into your life? If your commute to work is a drag but is unavoidable, try to infuse it with meaning and pleasure. For instance, you could listen to audio books or your favorite music for part of the ride. Alternatively, take the train and use the time to read. Then, as much as possible, ritualize these changes.

One of the many lessons I learned from my barber is that material wealth is not a prerequisite for the ultimate currency, and that dollars and cents are no substitute for meaning and pleasure. As the psychologist Carl Jung once said, “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”

26 Characteristics Of Truly Happy People

See Psych Central Article Here
By Rachel Fintzy Woods

How can you tell when you meet a truly happy person?

What signs do you look for? What indicates to you that someone is truly content with their life and themselves?

Genuinely happy people:

  1. Feel gratitude. Happy people appreciate all of the good things in their lives, rather than focusing on what they perceive they lack. Happy people have a “glass half-full” mentality.
  2. Express gratitude. Happy people don’t keep their gratitude to themselves. They let others know how appreciative they are, with a quick note, thank you, hug, or pat on the back.
  3. Live in the moment. Happy people let go of the past, including their triumphs and mistakes. They realize that the only moment they can truly inhabit and do anything about is the present, so they don’t get caught in thoughts about the future, either.
  4. Are kind. Happy people are warm, considerate, respectful, helpful, and pleasant to be around. They do not indulge in envy, jealousy, or gossip, nor do they waste time complaining.
  5. Use positive rather than negative language. Happy people focus on what has, is, and can work, rather than on what is problematic.
  6. Smile often. The smiles of happy people are authentic, including their eyes and body language.
  7. Have a good-natured sense of humor. Happy people are not cynical or sarcastic. They can laugh at their own foibles and the absurdities of life. They do not take things too seriously, knowing the value of lightening up.
  8. Can be spontaneous. Happy people recognize and seize opportunities for new experiences, adventures, and fun. They are not rigid; not locked into meaningless routines.
  9. Have self-confidence. Happy people have a realistic (not arrogant) faith in their abilities. As a result, they feel equipped to deal with life’s challenges.
  10. Are adaptable. Happy people have a “I bend but do not break” attitude. They look for ways around an obstacle rather than lamenting the obstacle. They may even see the obstacle as a stepping stone for growth and additional opportunities, accepting that sometimes we need to choose a different path. They know the wisdom in the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing again and expecting different results.” Happy people can go with the flow and modify their behavior and choices as needed – they learn from their mistakes.
  11. Are optimistic. Happy people are positive thinkers, hopeful about the future, and believe that things will work out for the best in the end. Such an attitude is associated with lower stress levels.
  12. Are energetic and enthusiastic about life. Happy people consider life an adventure to be lived rather than a problem to be solved.
  13. Value cooperation over competition. Happy people have an “us” and “we” rather than a “me” and “my” mentality, knowing that victory can ring hollow if we aren’t sharing it with anyone.
  14. Show enthusiasm for other people’s successes. Happy people realize that there is enough to go around and thus aren’t threatened by other people’s triumphs.
  15. Are curious about life. Happy people have a large number of interests and are continually learning and growing.
  16. Do not feel “entitled.” Happy people know the difference between wanting something and demanding it. In fact, they don’t expect a lot from life, as their focus is largely on what they can give. Ironically, as a result of this attitude, happy people often end up receiving quite a lot, as humble and helpful people usually attract a lot of goodwill.
  17. Accept life’s uncertainties. Happy people are willing to go with the flow and make the best decisions they can, based on incomplete information (which is generally all we have).
  18. Prioritize spiritual/non-materialistic values. Happy people are not concerned about keeping up with the Joneses, nabbing a prestigious job, buying a massive home, or hitting a certain financial plateau. They prioritize relationships with family and friends, enjoying themselves, laughing, and having fun. They value experiences over possessions.
  19. Get sufficient sleep. Happy people realize that without adequate shut-eye they compromise their outcome, energy level, cognition, physical health, and ability to deal with stress. Thus, they make sleep a priority, which for most people amounts to between seven and nine hours a night.
  20. Have a strong social support system. Value quality over quantity when it comes to relationships. Communicate in deep and meaningful ways, rather than engaging in shallow conversation. Do not have a need to have thousands of “friends” on social media.
  21. Are loyal to their loved ones. Happy people will stick up for and go out of their way to help those close to them.
  22. Spend time with other happy people. Happy people know that the traits of our frequent companions tend to rub off on us.
  23. Are willing to ask for help. Happy people recognize the importance of standing on their own two feet but also realize that they cannot do everything themselves and do not hesitant to turn to their personal and professional community for assistance. Asking for help is a sign of humility and honesty.
  24. Are good listeners. Communication is not a one-way street. Happy people take the time and exert the energy required to really pick up on what other people are telling them verbally and non-verbally. Happy people recognize the importance of hearing different perspectives on an issue and are willing to be influenced and to learn.
  25. Are honest with themselves and with others. “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” (William Shakespeare) Happy people know who they are, are comfortable with themselves, and feel free to show their true selves to other people. They do not feign emotions, beliefs, or attitudes that aren’t consistent with their personal truths.
  26. Have a sense of purpose. Happy people apply their skills, efforts, and energy to projects and causes within their family, community, and world – they do not live for themselves alone.

How many of these attributes can you recognize in those close to you – and in yourself? Remember,through practice, all of these traits can be learned and strengthened.

26 One-Sentence Pep Talks To Give Yourself When You’re Stressed, Unhappy, Or Simply Lost

See ThoughtCatalog Article Here
By Kim Quindlen

1. Being intimidated by something new is always better than being bored.

2. Failure will always be more admirable than sitting unscathed on the sidelines.

3. I would rather be someone who does something than someone who just tells others what they’re doing wrong.

4. If the thing I am currently chasing after was easy to achieve, everybody would do it and it wouldn’t be special.

5. This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve been scared and it won’t be the last, so I might as well learn how to keep living and doing and creating in spite of the fear.

6. The most admired and successful people in the world were not free of insecurity or error or self-doubt; they just kept showing up and trying, no matter how many times it took, until they got what they wanted.

7. The regret from not having done something is always so much worse than the apprehension or uncertainty that comes with doing something that can be scary.

8. Laying in bed and hiding from the world feels fantastic, but only for a very short while.

9. And eventually, staying under the covers and avoiding the real world moves from a pleasant avoidance to an extremely painful and uncomfortable restlessness that can only be soothed with action.

10. What I must remember is that everyone else is too focused on their own lives to worry too much about mine.

11. …So why am I wasting so much of my time worrying about what they think?

12. Doing something will always make me feel better than complaining, even if it’s the more uncomfortable or difficult option.

13. I am my own harshest critic, so what I really need to do is just tell Pessimistic Me to shut the hell up.

14. I’m going to have a lot of blunders in whatever it is that I do before I actually get things right each time; but with each blunder, I’m only that much closer to the final successful turnout.

15. I know myself better than anyone else, I’ve made it this far, and I will continue to take care of myself the same way I always have.

16. Some days will suck, and that’s okay, because it’s the worst days, not the best ones, that inspire people to work harder and to be better.

17. Going after something they wanted, even after they began to feel inadequate and unworthy, is what separates those who succeeded from those who didn’t.

18. As the saying goes, I’ve survived 100% of my worst days, so I just need to keep going.

19. I cannot forget that sometimes a hot cup of tea and a long sleep can do wonders.

20. Breathe: when things get to be too much, I need to truly, seriously focus on breathing.

21. I would never speak to someone I love with cruelty or harshness, so why would it ever be okay to speak to myself that way?

22. Being lost or listless is okay, as long as I’m doing everything in my power not to accept it as the norm.

23. There’s always a chance that I will fail, but what kind of person am I if I’m going to let that alone stop me?

24. I’m lucky enough to have the luxury of worrying about self-realization and happiness, since my most basic needs of food, shelter, and safety are secure; that’s something I should never allow myself to take for granted.

25. I will always be more than just my accomplishments.

26. Fear is what forces me to fly.