Thursday, April 16, 2015

Your Healthy Self: We Must Be Constantly Renewing Our Lives

We each have inevitable losses of jobs, family members and friends, activities we loved, or our own physical abilities over time.

If we only see these losses as they accumulate, without letting in new components of a good life, we can get discouraged or worse.

We get busy dealing with the life issues in front of us, since they are the most urgent. The work, the coordination, the striving for more and better. Even fun can become something we have to squeeze in to our busy lives.

At some point, our lives can feel like we are living in the cloudy fish bowl that is never cleaned.

Unless, we add something new and fresh and hopeful. Some new element of the life we want that will grow to make things better.

And these can be relatively small efforts. Sprinkle them into your daily life as you have time.

Do something new. Meet someone. Take up a new hobby or physical activity. Consider yourself from a new perspective. Read a book you would not usually read. Write your autobiography. Share your whole self with others.

Learn and understand
Try and do
Contemplate and be

Any one of these might be enough to add greatly to the enjoyment of your life. Use them all.

They can be simple and one time events. Or they might lead to lifelong commitments.

Just don't forget that we all need these and we must make them happen for ourselves.

Don't drift and don't wait for a good life to be available. Make it happen with what you have right now.

You've already started.

Go live well and let me know how it's going.

-- Rich


Friday, April 10, 2015

Our New Amazon Store Is Open!

We now offer Self-Help Books, Yoga Products, and Exercise & Fitness equipment to help you live well via our Amazon Store.

Take a look by clicking the links on the right side of this page or CLICK HERE.

And thank you for supporting this blog.

-- Rich

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Personal Growth 201: You Are Not Your Thoughts or Feelings

This post introduces a controversial topic to some and even threatening to others since it is a major departure from a facts-only perspective and crosses over into our personal belief system. It is based on a concept of the meditative tradition. That is a raw nerve for many, so don't bother reading this post if that is your position. For the rest of us, it can be the beginning of a better life built on greater understanding of how we humans work.

When I first heard the statement, "You are not your thoughts or feelings", I was confused, and it took some explanation before I started to understand it.

After all, don't we think and feel almost every minute as we live our lives?

Most of us start off believing that our selves and our thoughts and feelings are one and the same.

We move through our lives with our thoughts and feelings leading the way or even scanning behind us. They operate like antennae for us, sensing what is ahead or what has happened.

We make decisions, large and small, based on what we believe our thoughts and feelings are telling us.

And at some point in life you will be forced to admit, "they" can be wrong. You will think of this as an isolated mistake or misjudgment. But it is often our over-reliance on the limits of our thoughts and feelings.

They can lead you off track and even make it difficult to enjoy life if you believe they are in charge.

And the rule of thumb is that the more stress we are under, the more "in charge" our feelings and thoughts can become.

Until we recognize that they are not.

Our thoughts and feelings are hugely important and valuable of course, but they are not "You". And you need to be in charge of your life, rather than your thoughts and feelings.

Some have described our thoughts and feelings as having a gap between one and the next. Think about how your thoughts and feelings can change quickly as if two recordings have been spliced together.

Many of us have a chaotic mind, developed from past experiences or the pace of modern life, that jumps from topic to topic, image to image, or even from one fear to the next.

More stress tends to equal a faster pace. And over time, we can believe that this is our natural state of mind. Thoughts and feelings can flash before us, through us, at high speed.

And the feeling of being on the verge of being out of control, will distress us.

We can, temporarily, feel good about developing the ability to speed ourselves up to keep pace with the chaos.

And this belief, and it's practice, can become a burden that contributes to depression, anxiety, or exhaustion.

Thoughts and feelings are elements of who you are and facets of your biology and your experiences but they are not "You".

You do not have to be at the mercy of your thoughts and feelings.

It can be helpful to conceptualize our thoughts and feelings as arising from our minds in a way similar to that of our dreams. They come and go. We might take them as useful and we might not. And all of that is okay. It is a given for most of us in fact.

In dreams, we might be both participant and observer. And the situations of our dreams can vary from ecstatic to terrifying and everything between.

And like dreams, thoughts and feelings can be influenced by everything from how much sleep we got or what we had to eat as well as the facts.

We can easily choose to take our dreams seriously or not.

Similarly, do not take your thoughts or feelings too seriously. See them in the context within which they arise. And use them as bits of information as you might an interesting dream.

You are not a slave to your thoughts or feelings. They come and go and you can and should, choose which to take seriously and act on.

And which to set aside.

Those decisions are the basis of your living well according to the needs of your core self.

You have some control, and a lot of choice in dealing with your thoughts and feelings.

And the first step is to understand that fact.

"You" are the observer or experiencer of your life, much as you are an observer of your dreams, and there is much more to you than what you think and feel.

Wearing our feelings and thoughts as a second skin can make us vulnerable to their whims. We become reactionary to their needs. We can make rash decisions and lash out too quickly, especially under stress.

What to do?

- Slow down
-Know that you have a choice about your thoughts and feelings.
-Set aside those that distress you. They are not in charge.
-This is how we humans work and this process is not a threat to you.
-You are learning, so give yourself a break.
-Be gentle with "You".
-Exercise for short term stress relief.
-Write out your feelings, even briefly, and set it aside until tomorrow.
-Meditate for longer term smoothing out of life's concerns.
-Be in nature to reconnect with our shared human pace.
-Be with others that make you feel good.
-Make relaxation a priority. Daily.
-Do something for fun. Yes! Fun! Daily.

This is a topic that can become more confusing as we think about it. So consider it in short intervals if it confuses or frustrates you.

And admittedly, it is much easier to accept when you are not under great stress. So ponder these ideas when you can be peaceful enough to consider them.

As I complete this writing, my two dogs are alert to the sounds of the garbage being picked up outside. They growl with ears up. They are their feelings. And they react according to their fears and perceptions, even as I reassure them all is well.

We humans have a choice about how to respond to life and not just react similarly.

I hope this is helpful. Go live well. Right now. And let me know if you need help or have questions.

--- Rich