Friends Articles

8 Surprising Habits that Might Prevent Authentic Happiness

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

finding-happiness-cartwheel

“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.” – John Dryden

This may look good, sound good, and maybe even feel good at first, but it’s not serving you well in the end!

I’d hear this thought in my head over and over and still not believe it. But it had persisted ever since I started questioning the status quo in my life. And I don’t mean a loud, in-your-face, obnoxious line of questioning; rather, a gentle curious whisper that asks: Well, why does it have to be this way, if I may ask?

Questioning the status quo is not a novelty in our modern society, but here’s the thing: I was questioning the good stuff, like great habits that I grew up with and ideals that are the foundation of my value system.

How to Approach the Holidays When You’re Depressed

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

How to Approach the Holidays When You're DepressedIt’s a myth that suicide rates skyrocket between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The truth is that the month of December has the fewest number of suicides than any other time of year (Karr, 2012). What is interesting to note, however, is that there is a significant increase of suicides right after Christmas — a 40 percent increase.

From the studies that have been done on depression, suicide, and the holidays, it seems that the winter holidays insulate many from suicide, but there is a sort of rebound effect that occurs once the holidays have passed (Karr, 2012).

How to Lower Your Holiday Stress

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

How to Lower Your Holiday StressIt’s holiday time. In addition to everything else you have to do, you now have shopping, decorating, wrapping, entertaining, organizing, cleaning and cooking to tend to.

Why does life have to be so hectic? Why can’t the celestial stars align in a more efficient way? With perfect timing, you know you’d get everything done with joy and smiles, like a greeting card.

But no. The holiday has to come when the kids are off from school, the weather is nasty, the house is disorganized, your pants don’t fit, your bills are piling up, the traffic is horrendous and you feel exhausted.

7 Ways to Manage Mixed Emotions During the Holidays

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

simplifying-holidays-shrinking-stress

As the holiday season is now in full swing, I can’t help but observe the swing of emotions — mine and that of those all around me.

On one hand, there is the child-like delight of magical holiday lights and decorations. Regardless of a “bah hum bug” mindset, it is hard to deny the spectacular beauty of homes and businesses bedecked with twinkling lights.

If you have little ones and family in your life, there is the excitement, enthusiasm and anticipation of the magical appearance of gifts and delectable feasts.

6 Ways to Beat Homesickness at Christmas

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Ways to Beat Homesickness at ChristmasIt’s a Christmas thing. Even if you find yourself in the most beautiful corner of the Earth, you’ll still feel a little lonely. After all, there’s nothing like a festive season spent with one’s friends and family.

Fortunately, there are some ways in which you can manage this sense of nostalgia. Here are some tips for beating homesickness when you’re far away from home during Christmas:

Suicide, Grief and the Time Machine

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Salar de Uyuni by Patrick NouhaillerAt some point someone has been asked that playful question: If you had a time machine and you could go back and change one and only one thing, what would it be?

When suicide has touched your life, there is only one answer to that question. No more thoughtful musings on how you would’ve minored in philosophy or not gone home from space camp early or had the courage to speak to that beautiful woman you saw waiting for the F train.

There’s only one thing you could do. You would go back before the suicide and make sure to tell that person how much you cared about them, what they meant to you.

4 Reasons to Forgive but Not Forget

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

4 Reasons to Forgive but not ForgetWe’ve all heard the admonition “you need to forgive and forget.” Many of us heard this as a child from our parents when we had been wronged by a sibling or friend. We were told to turn the other cheek and give our pals another chance.

Some of us learned the idea behind this was the golden rule — do to others what we would have them do to us. As parents can be quick to point out, we’ve certainly been guilty of committing our own transgressions and needing forgiveness.

How to Sit with Someone Else’s Pain

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

How to Sit with Someone Else’s PainA few months ago I wrote about how we can sit with our own painful emotions. Often we don’t. Instead, we gloss over negative feelings. We self-medicate. We berate ourselves for having negative feelings, making us feel even worse. (I can’t believe I’m upset about something so small! I’m so sensitive. I’m so stupid for feeling anxious about that.)

What’s also difficult is sitting with someone else’s pain and supporting them. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable — especially if we have a hard time with our own emotions. Our knee-jerk reaction may be to ignore what’s happening, offer solutions, be overly positive or act on any number of behaviors that dismiss the person’s feelings.

Strings Attached: When Gifts Aren’t Really Gifts

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Present Flickr image from JD Hancock

“The catch about not looking a gift horse in the mouth is that it may be a Trojan horse.” – David Seller

Having recently gotten married, I received a lot of gifts from close friends and family. If there is anything I’ve learned it’s that some of these “presents” come with strings attached.

A gift is an act of altruism, of generosity. The point of gift-giving is to show love and appreciation for another person. It’s not about a dollar amount. It’s not about custom. It’s about being thoughtful — an important thing to remember with the holidays fast approaching.

Holiday Survival When Anxious or Depressed

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Holiday Survival When Anxious or DepressedFor those of us who suffer from anxiety or depression, the holiday season can prove especially challenging. The juxtaposition of unhappy thoughts alongside the cheery Christmas music, nostalgic movies dripping with holiday sentimentality, and advertisements displaying jubilant people celebrating the season can make us feel even worse.

The American Psychological Association lists financial concerns, unrealistic expectations, and the inability to be with certain family members and friends as contributing factors to holiday anxiety. Mix in the stressors of shopping, family reunions, travel, office parties, and dealing with houseguests, and no wonder this seasonal “cheer” can be a landmine.

7 Tips for a Saner Holiday

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

7 Tips for a Saner HolidayAs soon as autumn comes, people’s thoughts begin to shift to the holidays, and sometimes those thoughts are accompanied by difficult emotions such as depression, frustration, and anxiety.

For some, the holidays conjure up unpleasant associations, such as the first event without Grandma there, or prickly family get-togethers. Then there are financial worries, the pressure to come up with gift ideas, dealing with school kids on vacation, to-do lists, and much more.

How to Navigate Anger When You’re Used to Stuffing it Down

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

How to Navigate Anger When You’re Used to Stuffing it DownMany of us are afraid of our anger, so we shove it down. We may worry that if we express it, we’ll do damage to ourselves or others, said Selena C. Snow, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in anger management in Rockville, Md.

We may say or do things at home or at work that we regret or will trigger negative consequences, she said.

Society also plays a role in shaping our fear or mistrust of anger.

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