Addiction

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

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 things 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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Anxiety

Baby Steps to an Anti-Depressant Brain

Let’s keep this simple.

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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Anxiety

The Age of Insight (Wikipedia Entry 2050)

Mindfulness just continues to grow and not only positively influence people's lives, but is now influencing so many sectors of our society.  I can't help but imagine how it's going to impact the years that follow (Maybe I'm a bit on an idealist, but I'll hold that label lightly).

The following is my futurist's take on The Mindfulness Revolution.

Wikipedia Entry 2050:

"The Insight Age is a period in human history characterized by the shift from a “continuous fractured attention” brought on by The Information Age through technology, to an age based on an expanded awareness, an increasingly ability to harness control of our attention to what matters. The onset of the Insight Age is associated with The Mindfulness Revolution, just as The Digital Revolution marked the onset of The Information Age.

During The Insight Age, the phenomenon is that that the mindful industry creates a present-focused society surrounded by leaders in various sectors spanning their influence on how education, business, politics, healthcare, and other service sectors operate.

In our current culture, the mindful industry fosters insight for individuals to be more aware of their personal needs, increasing
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Depression

3 Steps to Make Your New Habits Stick this Year

Whether we like it or not, this time of year cues our minds to reflect and think about habits we want to change.  If you're reading this blog, odds are one of those habits are bringing mindfulness into your life more and allowing this to be the year where it sticks. Or maybe you're also looking to change other habits that run alongside your values like being more self-compassion, living alongside your values, playing more or creating more mastery in life. All of these are basic elements that help uncover happiness.

Whatever the habit is that you want to make, here are a few practical tips to help make your changes stick.

Know the practice – If you’re trying to integrate the ability to become more present in your daily life, choose what you want to practice. You may want to integrate more formal practice that would come in the form of a
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compassion

The Power of a Simple Hug as a Natural Anti-Depressant

There's really nothing like the power of a big supportive hug. The body reads a sense of caring in the human touch. When we're hugged we sense that on a deep level, we are not alone. In some ways it's a shame that in our relationships with healing professionals hugging is often advised against.

There are so many wonderful stories where hugging has been a healing modality.

The Science and Practice of a Hug

In one study published in
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compassion

Uncovering Happiness: Four Questions that Can Transform Your Life

When it comes to our self-critical thinking, Byron Katie has created a brilliant set of four questions to free us from our negative depressive minds. For example, if you say, “I’m such  an idiot,” we ask 1) Is it true? 2) Is it absolutely true? 3) What happens when you believe that thought? and 4) Who would you be without that thought? The effect of this is that it objectifies the self-judgment, gives us freedom from it and opens us up to a sense of freedom that’s there. They can be really effective.

When it comes to overcoming longstanding emotional struggles we have to not only get space from the self-critical mind, but also encourage the positive beliefs about ourselves that the critical mind has buried. In one part of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion I share the following four questions to work with in order to open us up to possibility, install these positive beliefs a bit more and even encourage positive neuroplasticity. In doing this we can become more confident in ourselves and ultimately more resilient (and a bit happier).
Four Questions for Uncovering Happiness
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Depression

Play, Soul Pancake and Building Your Anti-Depressant Brain

For years now I’ve been studying about what helps create more resilience and happiness within us. I’ve looked to my own life, the life of my clients and students and toward the psychological and neuroscience research. What I’ve found is that within each and every one of us are a core set of natural anti-depressants that when we intentionally tap into shifts our brain activity in ways that can lend itself to an anti-depressant brain. One of the natural anti-depressants that I’ve come to find that helps break a bad mood and create positive neural activity is Play!

In Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion I describe play as "a flexible state of mind in which you are presently engaged in some freely chosen and potentially purposeless activity that you find interesting, enjoyable, and satisfying."

Here’s a great video that shows adults playing and the results. Take a look and see what you notice.

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compassion

Mindfulness Can Quiet Down the A**Hole Voice in Our Heads

I was recently interviewing Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier for an upcoming online symposium on Uncovering Happiness. I really enjoyed spending time with him
rapping about what happiness is really about and why mindfulness and compassion can help inspire it. But one of the things that really made me laugh was when he said it can stop you from being an A-hole.

It’s so true and here’s how.

Our inner voices can be a real pain sometimes, critiquing us, telling us what we can’t do or what will go wrong if we try. We wouldn’t want friends that spoke to us this way, so why do we tolerate these voices? They create irritability which only goes onto reinforce the A-holes in our minds. As I mention in my upcoming book Uncovering Happiness, this is a big part of what drives the depression loop.

In a study a few years back Norman Farb and his colleagues at the University of Toronto published
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compassion

A Mindful Gift from Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) to All of Us

Last week I wrote about Thich Nhat Hanh's brain hemorrhage landing him in the hospital. The most recent update from Plum Village shows that while his condition is still in a critical stage he has opened his eyes and even reached out to touch the attendant next to him. In continuing this time of honoring his life I wanted to share with you one of the gifts he has given me that I often share with others.

These are the short phrases he weaves into breathing or walking that helps us be more present, loving, grounded, and aware in daily life. If you don't already, consider trying these out as an experiment in your daily life and seeing what you notice.

For example,

You may take three steps while breathing in and say "Breathing in, I calm my body" and then with the following three steps "Breathing out, I relax." You can then shorten this to saying "calm" as you breathe in, and "relax" as you breathe out.
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