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Showing posts from May, 2017

Three Ways to Mix Mindfulness into Your Life

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Three Ways to Mix Mindfulness into Your LifeAt the risk of stating the obvious, in order for Balancer to keep us balanced, it’s helpful to do activities that explicitly promote … balance.Mindfulness-based activities are at the top of the list. The term mindfulness, the state of being focused on the present moment, without judgement, has become part of the zeitgeist in the past several years, and for good reason.The benefits of mindfulness-based activities are physical, emotional, and psychological. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to:Relax muscles and decrease blood pressureReduce rumination, stress, anxiety, and emotional reactivityPromote empathy and self-compassionImprove working memory, focus, self-insight, and intuitionMindfulness works, in part, because of changes that occur in the body and the brain. But over time, mindfulness also reminds us that we don’t have to keep riding every mental train we find ourselves on. When we notice we’ve been kidnapped by a thought, worry, emot…

How to Handle Change with Ease

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How to Handle Change with EaseEmotional 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 adaptability include practices th…

Strive for Excellence, Not Perfection

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The Perfect is the Enemy of the GoodMy father was a storekeeper and the son of working-class immigrants. He wanted his children to do better than he had, and he believed the gateway to a successful life was education. Consequently, he held me, his firstborn, to high academic standards. This meant I had to get A’s, and to earn my father’s approval I abandoned many other activities so I could focus on schoolwork. By the time I completed high school, I had achieved a perfect average and was class valedictorian, but I’d learned very little about many other important aspects of life.The roots of the drive for perfection are spread wide and go deep. The ancient Greeks saw perfection as necessary for beauty and high art. Buddhists are encouraged to practice the Six Perfections as part of the path to enlightenment. St. Matthew exhorted, “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”Our culture’s idealization of perfection extends beyond religion, philosophy, and …

How to Boost Connections and Support

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How to Boost Connections and SupportFor most of us, UnBalancer flourishes when we’re isolated. We are social animals, and separation from others weakens our ability not only to thrive, but sometimes even to survive.Ostracism – being ignored and excluded – threatens our basic need for belonging. In other mammals, being ostracized removes the individual from the protection of the pack and usually results in death from predators or starvation. Human beings are hard-wired to fear ostracism, so much so that in experiments where researchers create games in which the participants’ avatars are rejected by the other players’ avatars, participants feel anxiety and depression even when they know that the other avatars are actually computer simulations.Establishing and maintaining close relationships, on the other hand, makes us more resilient. A network of connections – friendships, family, support groups, spiritual groups, and group activities that validate our interests and identities – not on…

How to Rebalance Your Brain in 3 Easy Steps

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How to Rebalance Your Brain in 3 Easy Steps
One of the most powerful resilience-building, Balancer-enhancing strategies is to consciously look for growth opportunities in experiences – to seek the silver lining in the cloud.Looking for the growth opportunity in the struggle makes it possible for us to find it. Difficulties become, as a friend of mine puts it, “just an AFGOAnother F***ing Growth Opportunity.” Thinking of struggles as AFGOs allows us to accept, in a tongue-in-cheek but still meaningful way, that positive change can emerge from negative experiences.When we go through difficult times asking questions like “What can I learn from this?” and “How can going through this make me a better person?” we gain leverage on our problems, and it becomes much harder for UnBalancer to unseat us. Instead of being knocked off course, we see obstacles as challenges and grow more resilient by overcoming them.A close cousin of the AFGO is learning to condition our minds to pay equal attent…