The Powerful (Happiness) Side Effects of Self-Compassion

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 1 min read

meditator high resSometimes the most profound statements come out of children’s books. One of my favorite Dr Seuss books is Oh, The Places You’ll Go! It seems to tell the story of what it is like to be human. It brings you through all the experiences in life: the triumphs, the doubts, the confusions, the depressions, the fearful moments and the moments you stare your difficulties in the face and overcome them.

Another fantastic book that goes straight to the truth of it all is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

If you haven’t read it, it’s a picture book where a family goes on a bear hunt and they keep coming across these obstacles from tall grass, to swamp, to spooky forest, etc.. and each time they say, “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it.”

This is life.

As it’s said, life is full of 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. Try as we might to avoid those sorrows, we often have to allow them to pass through. Optimally we do this as a training ground to build the muscle of self-compassion.

Here are some powerful anti-depressant and anti-anxiety (and happiness) side effects of Self-Compassion:

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How Gratitude Helps Us Uncover Happiness (Video)

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 1 min read

Schwartzberg-Still1 (1)In my personal practice of uncovering happiness and in my research behind the science of it, one wonderful thing I’ve found is the incredible power of gratitude. This word gets thrown around quite a because our brains are wired to automatize things, our perception of its power in everyday life can dim. But allow this to be a moment to revitalize it.

I’m going to share some brief science behind gratitude and then show you a short TED Talk that allows you to realize it in this present moment.

One of the cornerstone studies on gratutide was by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough that had a group of students spend 9 weeks recounting things that they were grateful for, another spending that time reflecting on hassles and yet another reflecting on neutral activities. The students who reflected on gratitude felt better about their life as a whole, increased optimism and had less physical complaints. They uncovered a little happiness.

Other studies have found a practice of gratitude boosts romantic relationships, supports happiness in early adolescence, and sustains positive emotions. 

In Uncovering Happiness I write about the science and practices that have been found to be natural anti-depressants. As we bring more mindfulness and compassion into our lives, gratitude

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Living Through Life’s Challenges: An Interview with a Ninja Black Belt

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 5 min read

ninjaLife is full of ups and downs. Yes, this is absolutely true. But the question is what can help us live through the difficulties with greater ease and even find the joy in everyday life. Mindfulness is one of those tools, but how about zen practice or ninja training? Dr. Richard Sears is full-time core faculty member of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Union Institute & University, and is the Director of the Center for Clinical Mindfulness and Meditation. He also has a fifth degree black belt in ninjitsu and once serve as a personal protective agent for the Dalai Lama. He’s author of many books and most recently Mindfulness: Living Through Challenges and Enriching Your Life In This Moment.

You can see maybe why I wanted to bring him here today to talk about why mindfulness is helpful for our present day maladies, a helpful tool from Zen practice, and what we can learn from ninja training to get out of our heads and into our lives.

Elisha: Why is mindfulness so effective in working with our personal mental, emotional and physical maladies?

Richard: I begin to feel like a snake oil salesman when I talk about all the research demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness, but the key factor is awareness. By paying more attention to how

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Train a Compassionate Brain with 21 Days of Purpose!

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 1 min read

45742-uncovering-happiness-online-assets-640x640I’ve been in the midst of developing the new free e-Course 21 Days of Purpose that is meant to support a key and radically important natural anti-depressant from Uncovering Happiness - Purpose/Compassion. Creating purpose is a process of understanding your personal personal values and how to put them into action in ways that serve something greater than yourself. In developing this 21 day course and starting to go through it, really amazing things have happened for me, the primary one being that this awareness and motivation to live with purpose and compassion is often on my mind.

I love this, it’s really amazing how having giving on your mind creates a feeling of empowerment, connection and happiness.

I’ve been developing an online symposium on Uncovering Happiness where I’m interviewing a number of different people, for example, Byron Katie, Rick Hanson, Dan Harris, Dan Siegel, Sharon Salzberg, Tara Brach and so many others. I’ll launch this sometime in April or May (I hope).

During an interview with Byron Katie she said, “If you have something valuable, you have to give it away, you just have to.”

We can allow our minds to pick that statement apart (and they’ll want to) to find the holes in it, but if you just take a moment and lean into what she is saying here, where do you notice this is true?

How would you feel if you started giving a little more?

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How to Fall in Love and Uncover Happiness in Four Minutes or Less

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 1 min read

One of the primary pathways to an enduring happiness is facilitating a sense of connection. When we feel connected we feel balanced, when we feel balanced, we often feel happy. The problem is vulnerability
as we grow up in this world, we have to learn how to shield ourselves from vulnerability and so we build up walls or put on armor that make connection more difficult.

One of the most powerful (and challenging) practices to do is look into another person’s eyes for a prolonged period of time as it immediately makes us feel vulnerable. It may not matter whether it’s a stranger or someone you’ve been in a partnership with for over 50 years (sometimes this makes it more difficult). But when we do it, it’s fascinating what arises.

Check out this short video from Soul Pancake to see some of the surprising results of people making connection:

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Mindfulness: What’s the POINT?

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 3 min read

The brain loves to chunk information in order to remember things and there are so many great acronyms that help us remember to bring mindfulness into our lives. I’m going to list a few really key ones and then link you to respective guided practices or posts as a reference to play with them and bring them into your life. Finally, I’m going to introduce you to a new powerful acronym that gets to the point of mindfulness.

STOP (Stop, Take a breath, Observe your experience and Proceed)

STOP

This is an all time favorite. On YouTube the recording that I  created for A Mindfulness-Based Stress  Reduction  Workbook has almost 80,000 views because the acronym  makes sense and it  really helps us  pause into the moment and  open up to what matters.

RAIN (Recognize, Allow, Inquire, Non-identify/Natural Awareness)

rain practice

This acronym created by Michelle McDonald and popularized and adapted by Tara Brach, is incredible for  helping us gain perspective, self-

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The Mindful Way Through Stress: An Interview with Shamash Alidina

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 2 min read

Stress seems to be the underlying issue with many of our aversive conditions whether they’re psychological or physical. My good friend Mindful Way through StressShamash Alidina, author of the international bestselling book Mindfulness For Dummies and his newest release The Mindful Way through Stress: The Proven 8-Week Path to Health, Happiness, and Well-Being, comes to us today to share the direction of mindfulness in our culture, how it impacts his life and a couple quick tips from his book to get us started.

Elisha: Welcome Shamash!

Shamash: Great to be here with you.

Elisha: Mindfulness is enjoying quite a boon in the West, where do you see mindfulness currently in our culture and where is it going?

Shamash: I think mindfulness is still very much in its infancy in our culture. The general public hears about it from time to time, but I don’t think it’s still fully accepted. But we’re certainly on the path towards that happening. The level of interest in mindfulness and it’s growth is exponential at the moment. As for the future, I don’t know! I have little doubt that in the next year, the research evidence will continue to

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Compassion: Brain Food for Happiness

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 1 min read

Did you know that compassion, the act of recognizing someone else’s suffering with the inclination to want to support them, creates important activity shifts in the brain that are associated with IMAG1371resiliency and well-being?

I recently attended a talk at a fundraiser where the presenter, Amy McLaren, had conveyed her story of going to Kenya with her husband and making a deal with a child there that if he shares his report card with them at the end of the month, they would pay for a month of his schooling.

They didn’t expect him to follow through, but after they returned back to Canada, a month later they received a letter with a picture of this boy holding up his report card.

He followed through and so did they.

Every month he would send his report card and every month they would pay for another month of school. Years later this boy is now in business school and has developed

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Overwhelmed Or Depressed? Wisdom from Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 2 min read

Tis the season to feel a bit down, overwhelmed and stressed. When the mind is focusing on the negative details of life, it’s practicing seeing martin luther kingthings through this lens and what we practice and repeat creates a habit of thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations. I call this getting caught in a “depressive loop.”

Mindfulness is about being aware of what lens we’re wearing when looking at life, so we can be more intentional. The unintentional act of looking toward the future with a negative lens can really sap our motivation to make any progress toward a more fruitful and positive future. After all, if we’re anticipating doomsday, what’s the point in even trying? This is major fruit for procrastination too.

Feeling depressed lights up the avoidance circuits in the brain. It’s experienced as a disengagement from life. In Uncovering Happiness  I go through the science and practice of a handful of natural anti-depressants that live within every one of us.

But when we’re feeling overwhelmed with life, our negative thinking arises again, “What’s the point” or “Who cares.” But these thoughts are not facts, even the ones that say they are.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had some wise words for us about this.

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Baby Steps to an Anti-Depressant Brain

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. • 1 min read

Let’s keep this simple. Poo Favorite Day

You may or may not have heard by now that our brain is wired to pay attention more frequently, and with great veracity, to what’s negative. This doesn’t mean that the good moments in life aren’t happening, we’re just not wired to pay attention to them.

Why?

Because as a human race, we’re wired to survive, not be happy.

BUT,

I have a theory that in this moment in time we’re going through an evolution as a species where because of the overabundance of things pulling our attention, we’re being thrusted into growing our awareness – the kind of awareness that breeds balance, well-being and a greater sense of what matters.

So people are being turned onto mindfulness more. More spaces are offering it, more institutions are studying it and there’s greater media to

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Books and CDs by Dr. Elisha Goldstein:
Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change The Rest of Your Life
A Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction Workbook
 

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