Happiness

7 Ways Knowing Yourself Leads to More Happiness


You need to know yourself a little better.

Who are you when no one sees you? When you have an opportunity to spend time alone, how do you fill that time? Just as importantly, what do you leave out?

When you know yourself well, you can answer these questions easily. When you don’t understand yourself, not only are the questions more difficult, days drift together rather than develop with a sense of organization and purpose.

So how do you know yourself better at any age? Tune in to your core.
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General

Surprising Ways that Shame Can Serve Us


We often hear about the destructive aspects of shame -- how it’s toxic to our happiness and well-being. As a psychotherapist, I continually see how shame holds people back. But can there be a healthy and helpful aspect to shame?

Shame is that painful sense that tells us we’re flawed and defective. Bret Lyon and Sheila Rubin, who lead popular workshops for helping professionals, describe shame as "a primary emotion and a freeze state, which has a profound effect on personal development and relationship success."

Believing that there is something inherently wrong with us, we're robbed of the capacity to feel good about ourselves, accept ourselves, and affirm our basic goodness, which has a crippling effect on our lives. Such shame may be so painful that we dissociate from it -- no longer even noticing it.
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General

5 Quick Ways to Recognize Your Self-Worth

Self-esteem is not a hot and sexy topic. Not even close. I know people don’t love to talk about their self-esteem in front of others, but I’m passionate about it.

Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. Have you ever noticed how prevalent low self-esteem is among the general population? I have. I have also grown to understand there is a lot we can do to change that. Once we become comfortable in our skin, our self-esteem can soar.

I used to have low self-esteem and all the accompanying characteristics. Then one day I began to ask myself why. Why do I feel this way? This one question inspired more than 10 years of studying low self-esteem and strategies to increase it. It consistently remained a focus for me for more than a decade.

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Children and Teens

What to Do When You Feel Unmotivated in Your Career (And 3 Ways to Do Your Best Work)

We’ve all faced days at the office where we’re just not feeling motivated. Off days happen to everyone and it’s tough -- if not unrealistic -- to constantly do your best work. There are bound to be times when you procrastinate too much, lack focus, or struggle to start important projects.

You may react by getting down on yourself, wondering where your determination has gone. It can be disappointing to feel like you’re not living up to your aspirations, especially when there’s important work to be done, which there almost always is. Speed, efficiency, and productivity are what drive results, and when our energy doesn’t match our ambition, it can be frustrating.
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Anxiety and Panic

How to Find Power in Silence

"Silence is a source of great strength." -- Lao Tzu (6th century BCE)
How is silence a source of strength? I adore the works of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching, but sometimes I don’t know what he means. Does he just mean the kind of silence in meditation?

Here’s more:
When life is simple,
Pretenses fall away;
Our essential natures shine through.

By not wanting there is calm,
And the world will straighten itself out.
When there is silence
One finds the anchor of the universe within oneself.
This kind of silence appears to be the inner peace of living in the moment and appreciating the invaluable ordinary things around us every day. Quieting all those thoughts that color our perception day in and day out, we live in the moment and tap into a bounty of joy and gratitude for the simplest things.
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Bipolar

Dealing with the Pressure to Succeed When You Have a Mental Illness

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I feel a constant need to succeed, and there are definite moments when I feel desperately overwhelmed with the amount of pressure I’ve put on myself.

For years I’ve had the goal of living in a mountain house surrounded by a large grove of trees. I’ve worked hard to try to get to that point, but here I am, still on Section 8, still receiving money from the government for my disability.

I’m frustrated and, at times, angry with myself for not being able to mentally do what I have to do to get to the point where I’m satisfied.
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Brain and Behavior

Building a Guilt-Free Relationship with Food through Mindful Eating

The primary role of food in young children’s lives is one of sustenance. Young children tend to eat when they’re hungry and push away food when they’re full. Food is a source of nourishment and joy, one of the many joyful things life has to offer.

This role can change as children grow, depending on the messages received. Some children may be told to finish everything on their plate even if they’re full, a lesson telling them they can’t waste food. Parents may restrict eating due to what they perceive is a weight problem for their children. These children may grow up feeling shame for eating, resulting in binge behaviors or eating in secret. Children may witness unhealthy habits, eating only processed foods or having a lack of structure around eating. This can result in making poor food choices throughout their lives or a lack of moderation with eating.

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Brain and Behavior

Awareness: A Hardwired Gift and the Science Behind It

Awareness is a hardwired gift. It may cause us to frown when we see another frown, find food when our stomach growls, smile at a baby, or hold the door open for another. You may or may not remember telling yourself to do these things. You just did it, because on some level you were aware, which led to your response.

Intentionally practicing mindfulness allows us to tune into varying depths of our awareness, beyond those that are on automatic pilot. This deeper level of awareness gives us the flexibility and buoyancy to self-correct, helping us to better serve and navigate ourselves and our community.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Healing with Nature

If you have ever tried tending a garden or plant, you probably have experienced both joy and frustration, as in life. Nature offers many examples of our human spirit, and how to navigate ourselves, relationships and change. Many great writers and philosophers have echoed nature's wisdom and ability to heal. Tuning into nature allows us to cultivate the following:

Patience.
We are so hard on ourselves about where and who we should be in life. We often forget that we have our own seasons of development and change throughout our life cycle. Do we expect newborns to dress or feed themselves? Of course not; we know they are not there yet in their growth and development. If a loved one became disabled due to disease or accident, we would appropriately adjust our expectations of their growth and development. Start with what you know and meet yourself where you are, just as nature does.

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Children and Teens

3 Hard Truths about Your Dream Job You Need to Accept

You’ve been told you can achieve anything you set your mind to, right? That’s the message that’s been ingrained in us since childhood when we imagined becoming astronauts, athletes, and movie stars. Most of us come to realize that we can’t all be LeBron James or Taylor Swift -- and that we don’t want to be, anyway! As we get older, we typically outgrow these fantasies of youth and begin mapping out a career that’s aligned with our personal goals and values.

Yet, in spite of this seemingly straightforward and logical process, many people still have a number of misconceptions about what a “
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Anxiety and Panic

Mindfulness for Children

My youngest daughter has been having trouble getting to sleep in the last couple of weeks. The bedtime gratitude bodyscan I wrote really helps. It allows her to interrupt her now-habitual thoughts and place her attention on something more soothing and calming -- her body and a feeling of gratitude. It captures her imagination and provides almost instant relief and release. Many parents have told me the gratitude bodyscan is providing transformative relief for their children, too.

Tonight, I started to describe a practice my girls could use during the day, whenever they are feeling sad, angry, frustrated, worried, scared or overwhelmed. It worked well for my youngest at night, too. In fact, as I was speaking, she politely asked me if it would be OK to go to sleep. I said it would be a lovely way to go to sleep, and she promptly did so!

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