Brain and Behavior

4 Tips for Feeling Successful

"If I try to fail and succeed, which have I done?" - Anonymous
I use the above quote with my college students. I try to challenge them to look at life from a different perspective. In challenging our perspectives I am not merely playing semantics -- I firmly believe that words actually do hold meaning. Words have the power to affect our emotions. By challenging ourselves to look at our own definitions from a new perspective, we have the ability to change how we feel.

How I define success influences how I feel about myself. Many of us have culturally learned that success is defined by tangible goods and wealth. We hear expressions such as “If I have more things than someone else, I am successful” or “if I have a title or initials after my name, I am successful.” Does someone else's level of success negate my perceived level of success? In other words, is one's success defined in relation to another's accomplishments?

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Children and Teens

Why You Should Support Your Child’s Interests

My 11-year-old son Tommy collects stuffed bananas. You know, stuffed banana plush toys. He found his first one (and all of them, in fact) at the thrift store. This initial stuffed fruit was not just an ordinary banana, it was a stuffed Rastafarian banana complete with dreadlocks.

“What is this?” he asked.

“It’s a Rastafarian banana,” I said with glee.

Needless to say, Tommy had to have it. The price was right -- $3. We bought it and took it home.

This purchase brought on an extensive Internet research project on the Rastafarian religion.
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Celebrities

Whom Do You Respect?

Take a minute and consider the question, whom do you respect? Should this be a long list or a very short one? The problem with a long list is the candidates probably can’t be well vetted. A short list may make us out to be too cynical.

Let’s define the size of the list. You can only put five names on this esteemed list. This won’t restrict you, just possibly be a cause for adjustment of the definition.

Maybe you’ve gotten this far and can’t figure out why you should bother to make such a list. It’s because this list is a reflection of who you have become, failed to become, or still desire to become.
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Caregivers

Caregiving: Trading Solitude for a New Place of Wholeness


For many years, I looked to solitude as a sacred space for nurturing my soul. My routine was to get up early, retreat to a small desk by a window, light a candle, and then meditate while waiting for the sun to rise. I found this morning ritual deeply satisfying and helpful in setting an intention for the day. I never posted an actual “Do not disturb” sign, but I certainly relished this time alone for meditating, reflecting, and journal writing.

But then things changed. My husband became chronically ill, and I became his caregiver. This meant being available and responsive to his needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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Personal

Keeping the Fire Alive: One Man’s Renewed Life Commitment


Since my first vision quest 18 years ago, I’ve made a commitment to go out into the wilderness every year alone and fast, typically for three days and nights. This sacred time gives me the opportunity to contemplate my life and to renew my commitment to my life’s purpose. But this year I did something different.

Inspired by a teenage experience as an Eagle Scout and perhaps by that pivotal line in so many adventure movies, “I’ll take this watch!” I decided to create a primal challenge: to build a fire at sunset and keep it burning until sunrise.

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Inspiration & Hope

Moral Intuition and the Kindness of Strangers

She was dressed in a mink coat and oversized full fur Russian hat. Her Jimmy Choo boots and all black pantsuit seemed out of place in New York’s Penn Station. Plus, she was wheeling behind her an oversized Louis Vuitton travel bag. Even for New York she seemed too intense.

She might have been fifty years old, but her exact age was disguised, buried under impenetrable makeup and dark lipstick. She had style -- but lacked grace. She seemed to be on a mission -- somehow in a hurry to take a trip she didn’t want to take.

The escalator leading down to the train platform had a long line of passengers eager to board. Some with bags -- some with brief cases -- each looking to go home or get away.
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Brain and Behavior

Living in a Bigger Story

Out beyond the shadows of our old thinking, a wholly different world appears. A world that delights in our explorations, our need to join with others. A world that welcomes and supports our endeavors. The world knows how to change and grow. ~ Margaret J. Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers, A Simpler Way
We love epic stories, those invoking the heroic journey. We resonate and identify with larger-than-life characters, not simply because we are fascinated with their exploits, but because we are drawn to the archetypal qualities they represent. And that allows us to tap into the inner resources we can discover in our own inner treasure chest:
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Brain and Behavior

1-Minute Mindfulness Exercises

Interested in doing mindfulness meditation but don't think you have the time? Below are 9 mindfulness exercises you can do in a minute or under.

Yawn and stretch for 10 seconds every hour.
Do a fake yawn if you have to. That will trigger real ones. Say “ahh” as you exhale. Notice how a yawn interrupts your thoughts and feelings. This brings you into the present.

Then stretch really, really slowly for at least 10 seconds. Notice any tightness and say "ease" or just say hello to that place (being mindful -- noticing without judgment). Take another 20 seconds to notice and then get back to what you were doing.

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Addiction

An Open Letter from a Wife in Recovery

Please note, this letter is my own and unrelated to any Al-Anon approved literature.
After reading An Open Letter From an Addict, I took the liberty of writing a letter back early on in my own recovery. Yes, my recovery.

After finding out my husband was actively using for years, I was devastated. How could I not know? What was I thinking this whole time?

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Ethics & Morality

Buddhism, Spirituality & Dependency

Recently I attended a six-day Zen meditation retreat (sesshin in Japanese) which included the celebration of Rohatsu on December 8. Rohatsu is said to be the day that Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, came to his great enlightenment.

As a couples therapist and student of attachment theory, I cannot deny what seem to be inherent contradictions of this spiritual path and current research on healthy dependency. First, Siddhartha left his home, his wife, his newborn, his parents, and his duties as a prince to go alone on a spiritual quest. Accounts also say that he left at night and did not say goodbye to his wife or see his newborn son.

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