Showing posts from 2017

How Art Makes You Stronger: Creativity and Madness

I’ve just returned from an incredible week at the Creativity and Madness conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I wanted to share a little about the conference itself and what I presented there.The conference is the creation of psychiatrist Dr. Barry Panter and Mary Lou Panter and is currently run by Dr. Panter and his wife, Jacqueline Berz Panter. Barry began it 35 years ago as a way for health and mental health professionals to receive and to present ideas on how artistic creativity and mental health are connected. This conference and the companion conference Women of Resilience happen twice a year in the U.S. and twice a year in other parts of the world.
The conference has been held in Santa Fe, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Washington, Hawaii, all of the major cities in Europe, as well as in South America, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, and China. MDs, PhDs, Social Workers, MFTs, and other therapists and medical professionals can obtain continuing education ho…

Be the Change

A man cannot step into the same river twice.
Heraclitis of EphesusI came of age in the late ’60s, the era of the first man on the moon, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, free love, civil rights marches, and the assassinations of iconic figures including Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. It was a time of reinventing the mores, values, and attitudes of the Depression-era parents who raised us. Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’” was our anthem – and our hope. We believed we could “change the world”: end war and poverty, achieve racial equality, bring literacy to the illiterate, and recreate the Paradise from which we felt we had fallen long ago. We could do it. My generation. Us, not them.I finished high school in 1969 and that year discovered the poetry of William Blake, Allen Ginsberg, and Robert Bly. These poet radicals became my role models. Much of my first year in college I spent attending concerts by topical protest singers, encircling draft boards, demonstra…

5 Topics: A very short manifesto

“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of WarAn editor at recently asked me what topics I would choose if I could write about only 5. The question brought meaning and purpose into sharper focus.These are the topics I chose: Acceptance, Gratitude, Perseverance, Self-Love, and Hope.And this is why:Without full acceptance of present circumstances, positive change is difficult or impossible.Without gratitude to help us remember the positives, it is easy to get caught up in the negatives and lose momentum.Without perseverance, it’s easy to give in to despair at the first setback, mistaking, as T. S. Elliot put it, a single defeat for a final defeat.Without self-love, it is difficult to care enough about ourselves to persevere in the face of obstacles we encounter along the journey to self-actualization.Without hope, it’s impossible to start, and starting is perhaps th…

Can you help with a little experiment?

I have a small, personal favor to ask of you.So far, my attempts to get my work out into the world have had limited success, and because I have what seems to be a helpful message. I’m looking for ways to find a larger audience.I’m actually excited to be part of the Better You Bundle for Good coming in a few days. It’s a large and varied assortment of books, personal development courses, and other resources. And for me, it’s an experiment.So, here’s the favor: Please download the free ebookChange Your Life! Experts Share Their Top Tips and Strategies for Reaching Your Highest Potential This book contains nearly 100 personal development tips from a diverse group of authors and course creators, including some of my own best advice. It’s a really interesting mix of “being-oriented” and “action-oriented” tips, and a portent of what’s to come in the Better You Bundles for Good package itself. Here’s the link: Download the free ebookDownloading the book will sign you up for the Bundles for G…

Makeovers! (and a question)

Just a quick note to get your thoughts on three things:The recent makeover of this blog, which I hope is a massive improvement over the quick-and-dirty format I’ve been using until now. What do you think? I’d like to get a discussion going, so please leave comments on the blog, in the Comments area at the bottom of this post, rather than emailing them to me.The recent makeover of myBookBaby Bookshop page. Truth to tell, that’s where I’d prefer people buy Paths to Wholeness, as I actually make a profit there. It’s at: Paths to Wholeness BookShop Page What do you think? I have very little ability to directly customize it, but I can pass your responses and suggestions on to BookBaby. Again, please leave comments on the blog, in the Comments area at the bottom of this post, rather than emailing me directly.How can I best encourage those of you who take the time to respond to my posts to leave comments on the blog instead of emailing me directly? I really appreciate the emails, as it’s som…

Change Your Life! (and help refugees in Thailand)

Experts Share Their Top Tips and Strategies for Reaching Your Highest Potential

This free ebook contains personal development tips from nearly 100 authors and course creators, including some of my own best advice.Change Your Life! is a part of theBetter You Bundles for Good promotion happening at the end of July. The free ebook includes a wide range of inner-oriented “being” tips and action-oriented “doing” tips. It’s a really interesting mix and I think you’ll enjoy it.  It’s also a portent of what’s to come in the Better You Bundles for Good package itself.Click here to download the book: Download the free ebookBetter You Bundles for Good will include the full-length courses and ebooks, worth thousands of dollars, for one low price, among them my own Paths to Wholeness: Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas. If you are serious about becoming your best self, you won’t want to miss seeing what this package offers. The Better You Bundle sale will last only…

The Gratitude Cure for (Almost) Everything

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.
– Henry Ward BeecherDuring my recuperation from a brush with death, a high school friend sent me a letter. In it, he hypothesized that as a survivor of near-death, every moment for me must be exquisitely sweet, a precious gift, in ways he could not imagine.At first, he was mostly right. Despite the pain, my initial response was celebratory. But the celebration was relatively short-lived and bittersweet. As weeks became months and months became years, the glow gradually diminished. Yielding to the numerous problems that almost dying had also brought on, gratitude faded and a more troubled self re-emerged. Returning to that place of celebration has been a process.Grateful people are generally more satisfied with their lives and relationships, cope better with difficulties, and are more generous, empathetic, and self-accepting. But despite these many benefits, many of us have a hard time feeling gratitude.Often, early deprivati…

When Failure is an Option

Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.
– F. Scott FitzgeraldIn our success-driven culture, there seems to be no end of helpful adages for dealing with failure. But “failure is not an option” is small comfort to those who believe they have already failed, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” seldom encourages the already discouraged, and “we learn more from failure than from success” is scant consolation when we don’t see a silver lining in the cloud of our defeats.The problem with these guidelines is that the underlying concept of “failure” is flawed. Most of us hope we will achieve what we strive for and believe that when we don’t, we have failed. Striving for what we want is a natural part of our makeup, but attachment to the outcome of those strivings can imprison us.For a young client whose motto was “Number 2 is the first loser,” success meant being the best at anything he tried. The pressure of being Number 1 was constant and he lived in a nightmare of fear…

How to (Really) Listen

How to (Really) ListenThe first duty of love is to listen.
– Paul TillichFailures to listen are endemic to our species.The most common complaint from parents who bring their children to me for counseling is that “they don’t listen,” by which the parent usually means that the child does not obey. When I talk with children, they likewise complain that their parents don’t listen, but they mean it literally. Failure to listen to children has subtle but enduring consequences. Kids who grow up unheard can pass on what they experienced to their own children.I discovered the value of listening carefully to children, in their words and their behaviors, many years ago. One evening, while visiting one of my brothers, I joined the family for a dinner of fried chicken. My niece, then three years old, repeatedly asked for “an angel.” My brother and his wife told her to stop complaining and eat her dinner. As her requests for “an angel” became more strident, so did her parents’ reprimands. I found my…

Handling Change, Part I: Radical Acceptance and Self-Compassion

Handling Change, Part I:Radical Acceptance and Self-CompassionEmotional adaptability is the ability to respond to changing circumstances and events without being unduly shaken by these changes. It’s a Balancer characteristic and a key component of resilience. Those of us who are emotionally adaptable can bend with the wind, like saplings. Those of us who are less adaptable are likely to strain and crack as we struggle to maintain equilibrium.Emotional adaptability varies from person to person and can also be impacted by life events. Most of us are less emotionally adaptable when we are under constant or unusual stress. Those of us raised in a rigid environment, with fixed ideas of how we or the world works, may also be less adaptable. Being attached to expectations of ourselves, others, or how things ought to be also limits emotional adaptability.The good news is that there are many ways to become more adept at responding to change.Some of the best strategies for enhancing emotional a…

Handling Change, Part II: Forgiveness and Self-Forgiveness

Handling Change, Part II:Forgiveness and Self-ForgivenessForgiveness and Self-ForgivenessLike acceptance and compassion, the ability to forgive ourselves and others can free us from what Romantic poet William Blake called “mind-forged manacles” – in this case, feelings such as anger, hatred, resentment, guilt, shame, and victimization. Liberation from these feelings through forgiveness can help us be more available in the present moment and more adaptable to its ever-changing conditions.Forgiveness, however is sometimes difficult to achieve.Some obstacles to forgiving are easy to understand. Forgiveness is hardest when there is ongoing harm. Before we can offer forgiveness, we must be safe; before we can ask to be forgiven, we must stop doing harm. Forgiveness is also challenging when injuries haven’t healed. Unhealed wounds can lock us into a pattern of attracting others who hurt us again, or they can imprison us in a self-protective shell that keeps out not only potential harm, but …

Handling Change, Part III: Creative Approach and Experimental Attitude

Handling Change, Part III:Creative Approach and Experimental AttitudeCreative ApproachCreative activities – and the creative approach to life that often accompanies them – can also help us become more emotionally adaptable.Creative activities are rewarding as outlets for self-expression. They feel good, they are centering, and they give us a sense of accomplishment. And they’re often fun! But besides these more obvious benefits, creative activities can also change the way we approach our lives.When we work creatively, we dive deep. We pause, look at what we are making, check inside and ask “Is this working?” and then bring up something of value that we might otherwise never have discovered. As we pause/look/check/incorporate, we create something new and authentic.Because our brains get better at doing whatever they do, the more we practice diving deep, the better we get at it. Regularly doing creative activities often leads to a more general diving deep, allowing us to become more pro…