A Thought About Choice

In a podcast episode from Oprah SuperSoul Conversations: Finding Your Authentic Self, Oprah sits with Sarah Ban Breathnach. Featuring a candid conversation about living authentically, she speaks about what holds the power to change the trajectory of our lives:

“There are only three ways to change the trajectory of our lives for better or worse: crisis, chance or choice.”

When I first heard this, it resonated with me. We have all had at least one moment in our lives that we can remember so clearly, it was like it happened yesterday. Crisis has the power to change the direction of where we were going, both in its emotional and physical impact. Sometimes that crisis affects us only as an individual, or within our family or village context; it can even impact us at a community or societal level.  Chance can also change the trajectory of our lives in the opportunities we are given, the serendipitous moments we experience, or simply being somewhere at the right time. It was what Ban Breathnach said about choice that really stuck with me:

“Choice is a spiritual gift – one of the most spiritual gifts we have been given. Choice is the centerpiece of creating your life.”

Although I have never thought of choice as a spiritual gift, I am heartened to think of it that way. The thought that our ability to choose is tied to our spirit brings me comfort. It cements the overall knowledge that regardless of what comes into our lives via challenges, we always have the ability to choose how we are going to react. And that the choices we make both according to our values and our every day experiences have the power to create and design our life. What a lovely way to think about choice. 🙂

To listen to the podcast: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/own/oprahs-supersoul-conversations/e/78165524

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Podcast Advice About Suffering

In a podcast episode on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, she sits with Bishop T.D. Jakes to talk about Covid-19 and the suffering that has been created by this global pandemic. Although the conversation centers around the experience of the coronavirus, his words about suffering are wide reaching:

“God has never hidden from us that suffering is a part of the journey. It’s dignity that we bring to the suffering that determines the outcome thereof. In the face of our pain, we must not forfeit our dignity.” He goes on to explain that our painful experiences have the ability to create resentment, cynicism and hate; yet we have the choice to allow ourselves to challenge those feelings with dignity.

“Feel the fear, but never give it the wheel.” I particularly love the analogy on this one, as my work with clients often reflects on how best they can be ‘in the driver’s seat.’ Fear will often keep us in the passenger seat of our own life.

“There is a silver lining that lives in the darkest cloud….purpose will always out wrestle pain.” 

As in all challenges we are faced with in life, we have the option to face them with faith, purpose and dignity. A lovely reminder by Bishop T.D. Jakes that we can lean into our pain in order to find its purpose.

To listen to the full podcast: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/own/oprahs-supersoul-conversations/e/69780363

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The Winds of Luck

In a Ted Talk entitled, “Tina Seelig: The Little Risks you can Take to Increase your Luck,” I was impressed by her three pieces of advice that in many ways can be applied to having a healthy emotional life as well. They are as follows:

  1. Change the relationship with yourself: “Be willing to take some small risks that get you out of your comfort zone.”
  2. Change your relationships with other people: “You need to understand that everyone who helps you on your journey is playing a huge role in getting you to your goals. And if you don’t show appreciation, not only are you not closing the loop, but you are missing an opportunity.”
  3. Change your relationship with ideas: “Ideas are neither good nor bad. And in fact, the seeds of terrible ideas are often what grows into something truly remarkable. You need to look at ideas through the lens of possibilities.”

Tina Seelig refers to chance as the “winds of luck” and how it is very often the setting of our own sail that helps to capture those very winds.

To listen to the 12 min Ted Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/tina_seelig_the_little_risks_you_can_take_to_increase_your_luck/transcript?language=en#t-682499

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4 Goals to Wellness

In an Oprah SuperSoul Conversation podcast episode entitled, “Oprah and Dr. Dean Ornish: Your Life in Focus,” they start out by discussing that “it is our nature to be peaceful and healthy.” Through research, Dr. Ornish has been able to prove that four simple techniques will help to prevent and even reverse chronic disease:

  1. Eat well.
  2. Move more.
  3. Stress less.
  4. Love more. (By this he refers to the importance of connection.)

In all of these techniques, the focus is on simplicity. Most of us already know what we should be eating, the importance of movement, the contribution that stress management plays in feeding our comfort system and how critical connection is to our soul.

The podcast was a simple yet powerful reminder that we can focus on simple strategies to create a healthy life.

To listen to the full episode: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/own/oprahs-supersoul-conversations/e/68833276

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Emotional Agility

In a Ted talk that I was listening to entitled “Susan David: The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage,” she talks about the concept of emotional agility. She says, “How we deal with our inner world affects everything; how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead. The conventional view of how we see emotion, as good or bad, positive or negative is rigid, and rigidity in the face of complexity is toxic.  We need greater levels of emotional agility for true resilience and thriving.” Susan continues with her own personal story of living as a child in South Africa during the midst of apartheid and how her father’s death greatly affected her. She goes on to say, “Emotional agility is the ability to be with your emotions, with curiosity, compassion, and especially the courage to take valued-connected steps.”

We remain open to our emotions simply by observing them; to not place judgement on them, trying to decide if they are good or bad. Rather it is to simply acknowledge that “I am feeling sad,”  “I am feeling disappointed,” or “I am feeling content.”  This is essentially the concept of emotional ability; the openness to our feelings no matter what they might be.

To listen to the full 16 minute Ted Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_david_the_gift_and_power_of_emotional_courage#t-989361

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The Choice by Dr. Eger; a Great Read

My friend recommended the book “The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a Holocaust survivor who was sent to Auschwitz at the age of 16. Now in her 93rd year, she continues to be an inspiration to all of those she encounters. Here are a few excerpts from her book that I resonated with:

“My own search for freedom and my years of experience as a licensed clinical psychologist have taught me that suffering is universal. But victimhood is optional. There is a difference between victimization and victimhood. We are all likely to be victimized in some way in the course of our lives. At some point we will suffer some kind of affliction over which we have little or no control. This is life. And this is victimization. It comes from the outside. – In contrast, victimhood comes from the inside. We become victims not because of what happens to us be when we choose to hold on to our victimization.”

“No one heals in a straight line.”

“Bela,” I whisper, “I think I’ve come far enough. I want to go home.” “You’ve been afraid before,” he says. “Welcome it, welcome it.” Bela is reminding me of what I believe too: This is the work of healing. You deny what hurts, what you fear. You avoid it all costs. Then you find a way to welcome and embrace what you’re most afraid of. And then you can finally let it go.”

If you are looking for a book to read, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

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Podcast About the Family Unit

In a recent episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show: The Podcast entitled “How Healthy is Your Family,” she features guest Dr. Paul Pearsall, author of the book “The Power of the Family.” These are some highlighted points of what Dr. Pearsall had to say about the health of the family unit:

  • It is important to give dignity and celebration to the simple, daily acts of family life. Dr. Pearsall talks here about the rituals that we create in the family that celebrate time spent together such as family dinner and bedtime routines.
  • The continuity of traditions helps to secure the child’s feeling of safety.
  • An overarching goal for a healthy family is to lead with the forming of the ‘us’ quotient; a focus on scheduled, quality time spent together versus family members existing individually within the home.

Dr. Pearsall emphasizes that in order to achieve the ‘us quotient,’ we must prioritize family time. It is a slowing down, action versus words, seeking calm, family time together.

I especially love the words dignity and celebration. Just using those words as goals for our family reminds us that we have the ability to make the time we spend together joyful. It allows our children to refer and be influenced by family, to weather storms with a solid foundation.

To listen to the episode: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/own/the-oprah-winfrey-show-the-podcast/e/73831687

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Jesse Thistle Memoir

If you are looking for a good memoir to read, I would suggest “From the Ashes” by Jesse Thistle. A story that includes conflict and uncertainty at a young age, the experience of abandonment by his parents and how being drawn to addiction led this young man to spend over ten years in a cycle of homelessness, crime and time spent in jail. A cycle in which family members gave in or gave up.

From reading this story:

  • I am amazed at what the human brain and body can endure and still survive. Amazed.
  • It reinforces my strong belief that the human spirit can and does prevail through heartache and trauma.
  • It teaches us that being true to ourselves brings healing and peace. For Jesse Thistle this included a return to his Indigenous culture and embracing who he is.
  • It shows us the power of forgiveness; not only for those who seek it, but for those who grant it.

You will be pleased to have picked up this book and follow Jesse’s journey back to himself.

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The Power of Yet – a little reminder

This is a nice little reminder about the importance of having a growth mindset. It comes to us from Carol Dweck:

“I don’t get it.”

“I can’t do this.”

“This doesn’t work.”

Take a deep breath. Go for a short stroll. Then add ‘yet’ to the end of your sentence.

“I don’t get it….yet.”

“I can’t do this….yet.”

“This doesn’t work….yet.”

What a difference one little word makes. It moves us from impossibility to possibility, from giving up to trying again. “Yet” can be a very powerful word.

To watch a 10 minute Ted Talk by Carol Dweck: https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve#:~:text=Carol%20Dweck%20researches%20%E2%80%9Cgrowth%20mindset%E2%80%9D%20%E2%80%94%20the%20idea,that%E2%80%99s%20slightly%20too%20hard%20for%20you%20to%20solve.

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A Book Recommendation

I just finished reading “An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth” by Chris Hadfield. I have never been too interested in space exploration, but this book came recommended to me by a client, so I thought I would give it a try.

Well, I did learn a ton about the space program; all of which was very interesting. Hadfield goes into the logistics of what life on the International Space Station is like, and how weightlessness affects everything you do – things like brushing your teeth (there is no running water on the ISS). He gave wonderful descriptions of the flights to and from the ISS (you could not be a claustrophobic astronaut) and all of the minute details that go into a mission.

But it is his life lessons in the book that rose to the surface for me. After you read how difficult it truly is to become an astronaut (especially a Canadian one), I had a greater appreciation for how hard work and perseverance pays off.  He also talks about having the right attitude, being prepared for challenges, and how team work and appreciation keep you in a humble position. His chapter on humility confirmed just how much we remain grounded when we move out of our heads and into our learned experiences.

After reading the book, I checked out a lot of his YouTube videos which featured clips such as “Can You Cry in Space?” to “Brushing Your Teeth in Space.” I watched videos that showed me how astronauts sleep and how to make a PB and honey sandwich. I now have an appreciation and interest in the space program thanks to this book. 🙂

“An Astronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth” by Chris Hadfield is a worthy read.

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