Category Archives: Healthy Lifestyle

Gratitude in Uncertain Times

We are living in challenging times. News of natural disasters, tragedies, political and international conflicts; it’s enough to want to crawl into a hole and hide until life seems calmer. Whether the tragedies and conflict are on the national or international stage, or more personal and close to home, hard times can sometimes seem too much to manage. It can be overwhelming to process all of the negative news. Taking breaks from the challenges can be effective, but hiding won’t make the challenges go away.  There’s no hiding from your life; it’s unfolding and evolving whether you are actively participating in it or not.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and overburdened by the negative noise around us. Our brain is built to focus on the negative. It’s called the “negativity bias” and its job is to protect us. Without our brain’s ability to focus, in lightning speed, on negative, harmful things that can hurt us, we would be more vulnerable in the world. Focusing on the negative keeps us alive. Unfortunately, it can also be a handicap when we focus on negative things to the exclusion of everything else around us. Shining a spotlight on all the negative things in your world will bring you down. As a result, the spotlight also draws your attention away from other things going on in your world that are positive.

It can be especially difficult to draw your attention away from the negative when there are lots of negative things going on in your personal world and the larger world around you. While it may be hard to do, it’s an especially helpful practice that will build your resilience, to be able to turn your attention from the negative to appreciate the things in life that are going well. At any given moment, you can focus on what is not going well or you can focus on what is going well and/or is unfolding and working as planned.

In America, we are approaching Thanksgiving, a celebration of the bounty of the harvest. What better time to focus our attention on the bounty of life! When you feel pain, hurt and anger, it’s natural to narrow your focus on the problems.  From that perspective, it can be difficult to feel good about your life. Sometimes it can help to step back and take a wider view on your life, and on life in general as it unfolds in the world around you. Sometimes, we need to look harder, deeper, or perhaps at the things right in front of our nose that we take for granted, to find those things for which we can give thanks. You can begin by considering those things that give you life: the air you breathe, water, the sun, the earth, food, a beating heart. Next consider the basic comforts you may have that others in the world may not: basic safety from life-threatening dangers, a roof over your head, food to eat. Consider people you have in your life: family, friends, animal companions, co-workers, neighbors, the larger community that are available to support you and make your world better and more comfortable. Consider natural beauty in the world around you; right outside your door, down the road, and far away. Consider kindness and goodness of people both close to you and around the world. Take a moment to appreciate the many things big and small close to you and more broadly in the world that support life, love, and goodness.

Consider this meditation:

I am grateful for my life, love in my life, the comforts of my life, and the beauty surrounding me.

When life gets hard, it’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong. In hard times, practicing gratitude can add a broader and brighter perspective that helps lightens the load. And in good times, practicing gratitude celebrates the goodness and bounty of life! In this way, giving thanks is a helpful practice every day, in every season, all year long.

To your daily efforts to pay attention to the goodness in your world. I hope you notice much for which you can be grateful.

Summer Self-Care that Builds Well-Being and Resilience can be Fun!

Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be a chore or boring. Taking care of yourself and building resiliency to weather tough times can be relaxing, delicious, enjoyable to the senses, and fun. For me, there’s no better time to relax, explore, and have fun than summertime. The sun is out, people plan vacations, reap… Continue Reading

10 Essentials: Tools for Emotional First Aid (TM)

When I go hiking, I always like to be prepared with the “10 Essentials”. Basically, essential items for navigation, protection, illumination, first-aid, sustenance, and repair to ensure survival outdoors. Being prepared with safety and survival tools has served me well, whether packing the car, a day-hike pack, or a wilderness backpack. This got me thinking… Continue Reading

How to Disagree Graciously in 5 Steps

Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s a whole lot of conflict going on. Of course, I don’t need to tell you this. You know it. Whether it’s at home with a child, sibling, spouse or parent, with friends or coworkers, or within your local, national, or online community you are experiencing or witnessing conflicts. In my office… Continue Reading

What is “Self Care” and How You Can Succeed at Better Self Care in 2017

We are already 10 days into a new year. Did you make one or more self-improvement resolutions? If so, what efforts have you been making toward those resolutions? Are you already losing steam or becoming discouraged?  Resolutions can easily fall apart without specific, actionable, consistent and realistic goals and without strong commitment, motivation, and consistency.… Continue Reading

Giving and Thanks

It’s the season of giving thanks and the season of giving. Since I am in the business of promoting well-being, resilience, and healthy relationships, it is the perfect time of year to discuss the ways that giving and giving thanks are good for you and your relationships. According to Oxford dictionary gratitude:  the quality of being… Continue Reading

Beat the Stress and Put Fun back into Your Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again. Holiday season is gearing up. The Jewish high holidays just behind us and pumpkins and Halloween decorating abound. Here in America, we head into the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve holiday season. Oh, and we’re also having an election. Campaigns, election outcomes, decorating, shopping, putting together… Continue Reading

Resolve to be Kind

Making resolutions is a New Year ritual for many. The start of a new year brings possibilities for a fresh start. Many people are cleaning out closets and garages, getting organized, making resolutions about their health, relationships, finances. You might be considering the ways you want to improve your life. In the spirit of new… Continue Reading

Gifts that Inspire Peace and Happiness

It’s holiday season and many of you are making lists of gifts to give and receive. I know that I am! I have friends that are amazing gift givers; they always come up with great ideas. I have other friends that always seem to finish their shopping before Thanksgiving even arrives. Sigh; you know these… Continue Reading

A Simple Meditation to Build Resilience During Stressful Times

Why meditation? Meditation is a practice that promotes greater awareness, relaxation, clarity, calm, compassion, and mental control. At a biological level, meditation may promote slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, reduced production of the stress hormone cortisol, and increased growth and connectivity of brain cells in the higher functioning brain area of the neo-cortex. These… Continue Reading