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Facing difficult challenges and overcoming them builds self-confidence, teaches self-control and tends to foster an attitude of conscientiousness towards others, who may also face difficulties. Adversity, painful and something we all hope to avoid, can have a positive impact on our character. We acquire qualities such as persistence, self-control, conscientiousness, self-confidence and curiosity from experiences with adversity.
Are you stuck in negative thinking patterns? Or perhaps you're not paying attention to you're thoughts, and are unaware of how your thoughts impact your emotions. Often times, we approach our thoughts as though we are actors. Our thoughts, those little things that occur inside our heads that we don't give voice to, often occur automatically and unconsciously. When this happens, we respond to them as if they are our lines to be read, given to us by our mind. What would happen if, instead of thinking like an actor, you tried thinking like a director or a writer? Before responding to your thoughts, ask yourself "is this thought helpful?" or "Do I really want to be thinking in this way?" Our mind is constantly comparing our experiences with those of others, or holding others to expectations we’ve created. These judgments happen in our minds, can trigger intense emotions and distract us from the moment.
Mindfulness is spilling into areas beyond medicine, healthcare, psychology and neuroscience. It’s moving into programs in education with children and college students, parenting, athletics, the legal profession and business. Studies of Mindfulness in a business context have shown that increases in mindfulness are associated with increased creativity and decreased burnout and executive and corporate mindfulness leadership programs are emerging to meet the need. A 2001 FAA study found that multitasking reduces productivity by as much as 20%-40%, while a study with business men in Korea found practicing mindfulness increased productivity. Pacific Investment Management Co and technology leaders, Apple Computer, Yahoo!, Texas Instruments, Nortel Networks and Google have all already instituted mindfulness training and wellness opportunities on-site.
Stress can come in many forms: overwhelming work demands, a health crisis, an argument with a loved one or wanting circumstances to be different than they are. When we’re unable to change the circumstances that are causing stress, it can be helpful to have strategies to change how we react to the stressor. Even when you can’t change the world around you, you can change yourself. With those changes, you can find calm in the midst of stress.
In recent years, discussion of bullying in school and its devastating impact on those who are bullied has made its way into mainstream consciousness. Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t stop at the school level. In one study, nearly forty percent of respondents reported having experienced at least some form of bullying at work (International Journal of Stress Management, August, 2012). Bullying in the workplace can take many forms, including: exclusion, verbal abuse, sexual intimidation, threats and ridicule. Common and somewhat insidious forms of workplace bullying include gossip, unnecessary criticism, wrongful judgment and unpleasant job assignment.
When we talk about mental health, we often talk about problems. We focus on how to reduce anxiety and depression, lessen conflict in relationships or ease uncomfortable symptoms for good reason. But we often overlook the importance of creating happiness. We might even assume that happiness just comes if we decrease our problems. We forget that happiness is something that we have control over. It's something we can make a conscious effort to increase. Happiness, of course, is great. And it goes hand in hand with decreasing problematic stress and other mental health problems. If we’re happy, then we’re not stressed, anxious or depressed. If we’re happy we’re better able to cope with mental health problems.
Each person has a particular set of beliefs about the world. Our beliefs come from our past experiences and natural tendencies of our character. Believing that you and the world around you must be perfect in order for you to be happy is a common character trait. Doing your best can make you feel competent, proud and in control of your life. But when you believe that perfect is the only road to a happy life, you will find yourself dissatisfied. The pursuit of perfection doesn’t make us happier or ease stress. In fact, seeking perfection does the opposite. It is linked to increased stress and a number of other emotional, physical, and relationship problems, such as anxiety depression or eating disorders.
How often do you have stress headaches or difficulty sleeping? Does stress ever make you short of breathe, jittery or tense? Most of us experience some of these and other physical symptoms of stress. Clenched teeth, knots in your back, waking at night and queasiness are all common reactions to stress. In fact, many of us go through our days on automatic pilot, barely registering the affects stress has on our bodies. Physical symptoms of stress are extremely uncomfortable and can interfere with our ability to function on a daily basis. Over time, we can end up exhausted and feeling unable to calm down, relax tight muscles or lessen other aches, pains and physical signs of stress.
Most of us harbor some sort of secret dream and summer is a great time for dreaming. It is normal to yearn to achieve something that has always felt slightly out of reach. We may wish to write a novel, play the piano, learn a second language, learn to figure skate or surf. As we grow older, we often put our dreams on hold and assume that learning new skills is for the young. Psychologist Gary Marcus, PhD. put that assumption to the test. What he found was that learning is not necessarily the domain only of the young.
Really. It’s as simple as that. And as complex. Mindfulness is not necessarily setting aside time in your busy day to meditate. It is about being present and aware during the moments in which you are living your life. The challenge is to bring a sense of calm, centered awareness to everyday life. This includes times when you are angry, in an argument, feeling pressure, stuck in traffic, mowing the lawn, watching TV, working, talking on the phone, emptying the dishwasher, thinking about times you’ve been hurt, avoiding problems or eating. Some activities don’t require a lot of extra effort to bring a sense of calm and awareness. But others, such as difficult interactions and painful thoughts are hard to be mindful of. These are the times when mindfulness in daily life can feel complex.