A Thought From M. Scott Peck

In his famous book “The Road Less Traveled,” M. Scott Peck has this to say about the work of attention:

“The principal form that the work of love takes is attention. When we love another we give him or her our attention; we attend to that person’s growth. When we love ourselves we attend to our own growth. When we attend to someone, we are caring for that person. The act of attending requires that we make the effort to set aside our existing preoccupations and actively shift our consciousness. Attention is an act of will.”

One of the greatest gifts we can give to our loved ones is to attend – to be able to listen to understand, to be able to set aside quality time together, to be able to be mindful of their needs and act in forethought to show them love. One of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves is to attend – to our own needs, to what brings us joy, to what feeds our comfort system, to that which makes us whole.

As Mary Oliver reminds us “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” 

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Thought from Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman is a best selling author, well known for his books on Emotional Intelligence. He often writes about how having an EQ is just as important as your IQ; and how our emotional abilities are an important part of growth and strength in relationships. He writes:

“In a very real sense, we have two minds; one that thinks and one that feels.” 

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”

When we have a greater capacity for understanding our emotions; whether that be a tendency to over react 0r a tendency to suppress, we can begin the work of moving to a higher state of emotional intelligence. Goleman notes that empathy is a high water mark of EQ:

For a greater exploration of emotional intelligence, you can link into a past series on just this topic:

EQ 1,

EQ2,

EQ3,

EQ4,

EQ5

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A Thought From Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman is a psychologist who is considered the father of modern positive psychology. This is what he has to say about what we choose to focus on:

“When we take time to notice the things that go right – it means we are getting a lot of little rewards

throughout the day.” – Martin Seligman

Think about how many times we tend to focus on what goes wrong, on how the weather is not co-operating, on how someone else’s behaviour has the ability to sway our mood. We often take for granted the things that we expect will go right, so when something creates a roadblock, or isn’t exactly as we hoped it would be, it can set us off and we can follow the slippery slope to a negative mindset.

When we purposefully decide to notice what goes right, we give ourselves permission to feel good about ourselves. When we notice and give credit to our loved ones, we give them the gift of appreciation. By acknowledging the good, we temper the bad. 🙂

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From Thought to Action

Yesterday’s post featured a helpful tip in dealing with negative thoughts that came from Russ Harris and his book “The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living.” Based on ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) principles, Harris also featured a term that resonated by way of adding a layer to action.

We know and can appreciate the importance of movement forward in order to live a life fulfilled. We can sense when we are feeling stuck or lost, or when we have chosen to feed the dysfunction. Action, then, is an important element in our growth. Harris features the term “effective action” when speaking about improving the quality of life. He notes that effective action is based on values and when we can live from the position of what brings us integrity, we build character.

Essentially, it isn’t enough to simply choose something, but rather to choose it based on the question “Is this action effective in living up to my values?” It is only from this question can we begin to set goals that line up to our values; thereby creating a more decisive and confident structure to our own sense of contentedness; to a sense of being grounded and safe in ourselves.

“The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris is filled with many thoughtful principles and has exercises to better cement the material. It is a book not just worth reading, but worth doing 🙂

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A Good Tip for Negative Thoughts

 Because we feel the most secure when we are safe, our brain is designed to look for danger. This was great when we lived on the plains and every day was a matter of survival; today, we live with a negative bias, which can lead to an automatic lean into negative thoughts. In the book “The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living” by Russ Harris, he writes:

“Whether a thought is true is not that important. Far more important is whether it’s helpful. Truthful or not, thoughts are nothing more than words. If they’re helpful words, then it’s worth paying attention to them. If they’re not helpful, then why bother?”

This stood out to me as an important tip when trying to deal with an automatic thought that is taking up too much energy and space within us. When we lean into guilty thoughts that have no merit,  thoughts of self-blame, insecure thoughts tied to core beliefs or worries that we have no control over, we help to feed the loop often generated by negative thought. Our brain is ‘searching’ for a way to solve the danger that the negative thought implies. Harris notes that by asking ourselves “Is this thought helpful?” we begin to question the validity of the thought, relying more on fact and less on perception.

If we find ourselves ruminating or leaning into an automatic thought, we can begin to ask ourselves “Is this thought helpful?” And if it isn’t, we can move towards a thought or action that better promotes the mindset we wish to create.

Tomorrow’s post will look at another good tip from Russ Harris about action.

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A Thought from Oprah

I often listen to Oprah’s podcasts and one of the things I have heard her say that resonates with me is:

“We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  – Oprah Winfrey

When we are caught up in the busy activities of daily life; when our feet hit the ground running and we don’t take time to pause, spirituality gets set aside. If we spend a lot of time in a negative head space, or get caught up in the drama of others, we may not be connected with the spiritual side of ourselves.

But when we pause, when we find the time to be silent, we find the center of ourselves. It is in absolute stillness that we are able to feel the connectedness of the universe, the peace that comes from feeling settled in knowing that our soul is the foundation of everything that brings us value.

Every time we do an act of kindness, speak nicely to ourselves or others, live to our value system, encourage and praise our loved ones and forgive those who have hurt us, we are in a state of spiritual being. When we focus and feel grateful for our blessings, we are in a state of spiritual being. We when take the time to be silent, to be in a reflective state, we are connected to our soul.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. When we understand this, we are free to begin living it.

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Another Tidbit by Dr. Eger

Yesterday’s post featured an excellent book by Dr. Edith Eva Eger entitled “The Choice.” She talks at one point about deriving her own approach to therapy and I quote:

“If I had to name my therapy I’d probably call it Choice Therapy, as freedom is about CHOICE – about choosing compassion, humour, optimism, intuition, curiosity and self-expression. And to be free is to live in the present. It we are stuck in the past, saying, “If only I had gone there instead of here…..” or “If only I had married someone else…,” we are living in a prison of our own making. Likewise, if we spend our time in the future saying, “I won’t be happy until I graduate…” or “I won’t be happy until I find the right person.” The only place where we can exercise our freedom of choice is the present.”

I like the concepts she proposes in her anagram, as well as the overall theme that we have the choice as to how to approach the challenges in our lives. There are times when we must reach for our compassion (including to ourselves) or see the humour in the situation. We can choose to feed the negative thoughts, or choose to find the silver lining. Our gut only helps us if we listen to it – and if you read this blog regularly, you know how important I think being curious is! 🙂 And finally, finding our voice. Our telling of our story and the freedom we find in sharing it.

Some excellent thoughts to ponder from Dr. Eger – thank you for your lived wisdom.

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A Thought From Dr. Phil

If you listen to Dr. Phil at all, you will often hear him say “We create our own experience.”

On the one hand, this refers to the active decisions we make in our daily life. It aligns with the goals we have, how we want to proceed, move forward, and purposefully ‘design’ our lives so that we feel fulfilled at the end of the day. But it also includes our reaction to challenge and hardship. Those are the things we don’t always have control over.

None of us expected 2020 and the pandemic that would quickly halt society. Sometimes we are blindsided by a break up, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job. We can’t get through life without some struggle; without disappointment. We create our own experience through our reaction to events. This is where the choice is still ours. We are much better served to feel what we need to feel and lean into the process of what is happening so as to move towards acceptance.  We stand at the crossroads of process or avoidance. We stand at the crossroads of giving up or pulling up our boot straps. We stand at the crossroads of staying stuck or deciding to heal.

“We create our own experience;” a valuable thought from Dr. Phil.

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