Emotional LifeQuality of Life
How to Have a Good Bad Day
06Dec 2016
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Written by Jessi Kohlhagen

We’ve all had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

An overwhelming workload, a missed deadline, a traffic jam, some bad news, a fight with your partner, a broken goal… crappy days come in many shapes and sizes.

But (as with most things in life) you can bet your bottom dollar that even your stormiest days have their silver linings.

Here are 8 ideas for how to have a GOOD bad day:

1. Resist the urge to “treat” yourself

There’s nothing quite like a “treat” at the end of a particularly crappy day… yet oftentimes our ideas of treating ourselves are actually unhealthy, and leave us feeling even more miserable after the initial surge of enjoyment has subsided. Whether our go-to vice is alcohol, sweets, cigarettes or shopping, indulging it usually leaves us with feelings of guilt and loss of control. So next time you find yourself seeking to fill that void, ask yourself, “will this really make me feel better?”

2. Connect with your body

The most beneficial way to “treat” yourself is to really connect with your being, and nourish every cell in your body. Exercise is one of the most obvious and effective mood boosters, so try a gentle yet nourishing form of movement that will take you out of your head and into your body (dance and yoga are fantastic choices!). Once you’ve nurtured yourself from the inside out, work from the outside in. Draw yourself a relaxing bath of Epson salts, essential oils, candles and relaxing music. You’re guaranteed to feel like a whole new person!

3. Write it down

Writing/Journaling is one of the most powerful forms of healing therapy imaginable. It’s not so much about the process of documenting what is happening in our lives… it’s the process of being fully aware of what is happening in our lives, and in ourselves. When you take the time to candidly and uninhibitedly communicate what and how you’re feeling, you will find gems of wisdom that you didn’t realize existed (and oftentimes the solution you need to the problems you’re facing). Thank you, inner voice!

4. Do a 180

If you spent the day trying to dig yourself out from an overwhelming pit of paperwork, spend your evening completely disconnected from your career and engage in something that feels like a contrast. Play, read a book, move your body, relax. On the flip side, if you spent your day lazing around, making poor choices and are feeling crappy about yourself, get up and get something done… which leads us to #5…

5. Accomplish something

Oftentimes, the overwhelm, guilt and defeat that we feel at the end of a terrible day is caused by a sense of imbalance. These are the days we spend way too much time and energy focused on one thing (or one theme) and are left feeling too exhausted and frustrated to even begin thinking about all the other things that need to be done. Sometimes the antidote to overwhelm is simply to take conscious action. So when you’re feeling overpowered by one category of your life, accomplish something meaningful in a category you feel is lacking. Deep clean your kitchen, cook a beautifully vibrant meal, connect with your children, make love to your partner, create something for someone. Find a sense of accomplishment elsewhere, and let that satisfaction heal you.

6. Say “well, at least I…”

Surely there are meaningful moments that occur, even on our darkest days. Learning to focus our minds on the full spectrum of our experience, and not indulge in one overpowering aspect of it, is one of the great keys to balance and fulfillment in life. So instead of stewing over everything that went wrong, try and make a mental list of the things that went well.

7. Keep perspective

Ask yourself if this will matter in a week, a month, a year… or even tomorrow! Think back to similar times when you’ve felt defeated, and remember how it all worked out… recognize how distant and removed from that experience you feel today, and remember that this too shall pass.

8. Remember the ebb and flow

The brilliant Rumi spoke these poetic words of wisdom:

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence
is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birds’ wings.”
― Rumi

Remember that the nature of the human experience is this very contracting and expanding. The more you can accept this as a simple (and in fact beautiful) part of life, the more inner peace you will find in every millimeter of your experience – both the good, and the bad.

Even a bad day can have something good in it.

What can you find in yours?

More…

6 Ways to Get Out of Funk Town
17May 2016
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Written by Leo Babauta

Sometimes you just aren’t motivated, maybe you’re feeling depressed (as opposed to full-blown clinical depression), maybe you just don’t have the energy to focus on work.

We’ve all been there from time to time, and the good news is, we’ve all climbed out of this funk to some degree.

I’ve found there are two main factors to finding yourself in Funk Town:

  1. You have low energy, from a lack of sleep, overwork, an illness, or overdoing the exercise (you know who you are).
  2. You get into a negative thinking spiral — one self-doubt leads to another, one bad thought about your life leads to another, until you no longer believe in yourself.

These two factors often work together — usually when I’m jet lagged, or just went through a family crisis, or am severely sleep-deprived, I start down the negative thinking spiral.

Here’s the first thing to know about how you’re thinking during this slump…

Don’t believe any of your thoughts.

That’s because your mind, when it gets tired and negative, enters a childlike state — not the “let your mind be childlike and playful” kinda childlike, but more like, “Gimme what I want or I’m gonna throw a tantrum” kinda cranky, selfish, petulant child. This is not your best self, but a self that is suffering and just wants to be comfortable. That’s completely understandable.

Here’s the next think to know about this slump: You shouldn’t listen to the urges and thoughts of the childlike tantrum-throwing mind when you’re in Funk Town …

But do listen to the needs.

Your childlike self wants to rest, doesn’t want to do too much work, is tired and maybe needs some comforting.

Comfort yourself when you’re suffering. Not with food but with love. Give yourself rest when you’re tired. Make fixing your sleep a top priority. Go to bed earlier, turn off all screens, let yourself unwind, meditate while in bed, make sure there’s no TV or other lights on, and get some great sleep.

Weirdly, it also helps to get active. Take care of sleep, and don’t overdo your activity, but if you’ve been working from home or stuck in an office a lot, it’s often better to get your body moving — go for a walk, play a sport, do something active with friends.

A third thing to know…

When you’re in Funk Town, don’t believe what your mind thinks about yourself and your work.

It will say, “I don’t want to do that!” or “I can’t do that” or “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t care about that anymore.” None of that is believable, simply because the mind that’s saying these things is in a state of panic and fear and extreme discomfort. That’s not a believable mind.

Instead, notice these thoughts, then tell yourself, “I’m just suffering right now. I’ll figure this out when I’m in a calmer state of mind.”

Once you’re in a calmer state of mind, feeling better, then take assessment of your work. You might find you still love it, or if you don’t, you might calmly find another path that’s even better.

A fourth thing to know…

It helps a lot to talk to someone else.

Someone who has an outsider’s perspective. Talk to a friend, a spouse, a parent, a co-worker, anyone. I can’t stress this enough — don’t be too proud to reach out for help.

A fifth thing…

Once you’ve taken care of your rest and your health, you should do some work.

Not a ton, but some. Put in some diligent effort, get a little done. Just enough to feel good that you did something.

It also really helps to start clearing your plate a little, if you’re overloaded. Start saying No to work instead of Yes all the time, as a friend of mine did recently when he was in Funk Town, and you’ll feel some relief.

Finally a sixth thing to know…

It’s OK to be in Funk Town now and then.

We all do it, so you’re not alone at all. It’s human to go through ups and downs, to not always be on a high of amazing psychitude. We sometimes doubt ourselves, sometimes get really tired, sometimes suffer. Don’t worry about being in Funk Town. You’ll get out of it, and because of your experience in Funk Town, you’ll be stronger and wiser and ready to take on the next challenge with renewed gratitude.

Do You Complain Too Much? 5 Ways to Overcome Negativity
10May 2016
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“Like most people, you spend much of your time swimming in a sea of negativity and complaints.
Just as a fish may not even be aware of the water that surrounds it,
you may not be aware of all the complaints you hear and speak.”
-Will Bowen

Complaining is so much a part of our society, it can be difficult to recognize what is and is not a complaint.  So let’s begin with a definition…

The dictionary defines the word ‘complain’ as: an expression of dissatisfaction, pain, or grief; to find fault.

Basically, complaining is the counter-opposite of being grateful, content, and self-responsible.

And boy, do people love to complain.

Open your ears and you’ll hear that complaining has become an integral part of most people’s daily exchanges.  Many times, people use complaints as icebreakers – beginning a conversation with a negative observation because they believe it will elicit a greater response than something positive (and, unfortunately, they’re often right).

People complain about cold weather, hot weather, traffic, lack of sleep, hunger, fullness, uncomfortable clothes, jobs, lack of jobs… the list is endless. More…

The Antidepressant In Your Refrigerator
19Apr 2016
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Written by Lifebook Member Dr. Joel Wade

About twenty years ago, my mom gave my then new bride and I what has over the years become one of our most use-worn cookbooks: The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Being someone at the time that enjoyed eating whatever I wanted, a cookbook with the word “diet” in it would not normally grab my attention.

But fortunately my wife is smarter than me, and I love olive oil, garlic, tasty spices, and fish, so these were and are recipes that have never felt like diet food. Throw in a little red wine, and you’ve got a regular celebration.

The idea is that, by eating food that features a variety of multicolored, nutrient rich vegetables, low in saturated fats, with an emphasis on more omega-3 fatty acids (found in deep water ocean fish like salmon), our hearts and the rest of our bodies can be much healthier over time.

But this story is becoming much more interesting…

It looks like the food we eat may have a lot to do with our psychological and emotional health as well.

In almost every area of life things have improved incredibly over the past five or six decades. Our health and longevity are better; pollution is lower; violence has declined; our abstract reasoning ability has grown… and technologically we have come to accept things like laptops and smart phones that were pure science fiction a half-century ago.

But there is one serious affliction that has grown by about five-fold over that same period of time: depression.

There are certainly many reasons for this. Martin Seligman has shown that depression is often a symptom of helplessness. We’re more sedentary nowadays, which can exacerbate a sense of the inability to act.

We also see the worst of what’s happening among all seven billion of us, piped directly into our limbic system via modern media, so if we watch the news at all, we can feel that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and that we’re helpless to do much about it… when the truth is mostly the opposite.

We also, I think, have less tolerance for what used to be normal fluctuations in mood, to the point where the current diagnostic manual of psychiatry doesn’t even allow for depression during a normal grieving period after losing someone we love.

But now we’re beginning to see a more interesting pattern regarding health and happiness – or their absence.

Just as we’re seeing with heart disease and certain brain disorders, it looks as though much of depression may have its roots in a physical process: inflammation.

What we eat has an even more direct and profound impact on this process.

More specifically, a diet full of vegetables may be one route, not only to better physical health, but to better mental health as well.

Research is showing that our happiness and mental health rise with the number of daily portions of fruit (berries are best) and vegetables we eat, peaking at about 7 helpings; it boosts mood at least as well as taking an antidepressant.

Seven helpings of fruits and vegetables a day significantly improves the mood and mental health of young adults around the age of nineteen; while on the other hand those eating the least healthy foods increase their risk of depression by 79%.

A Mediterranean Diet centers around vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereal, legumes and fish. It significantly reduces our risk of depression, and it cuts our risk of developing Alzheimer’s in half.

Then there’s the role of omega-3 fatty acids. We can get this in fish and flax seed oil, as well as meat, poultry and eggs that are grass fed. We can also take omega-3 fish oil supplements with good effect.

Omega-3’s counteract inflammation. They reduce our risk of depression, and reduce cognitive decline. They also lower aggression in normal and prison populations, and may reduce aggression and ADHD in children.

When we eat less fish, it’s associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety, and worse symptoms with affective and schizophrenic disorders – consistent with inflammation playing a role in these. In contrast, higher levels of omega-3’s may help bipolar disorder, and prevent progression to first episode psychosis in high risk youth.

This is a big deal. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorders have been some of the most difficult psychological troubles to help with. Medication can help but it also can have nasty side effects; and therapy is challenging and heroic work for the sufferer. This isn’t anything like a cure, but to have something simple that can improve things even a little bit can offer hope that’s been sorely lacking.

Our brains consume about 420 calories a day. They need omega-3 fatty acids, folate, fiber, choline, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12, E and D among other nutrients. Vitamin D is actually a hormone with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it also benefits our nerve function.

Then there’s our friends the bacteria…

There are more bacteria cells in our bodies than the cells of our bodies themselves – they’re much smaller, so they take up a lot less space. But we’re finding more and more the importance of the friendly bacteria in our guts.

The vegetables we’ve already talked about are prebiotics; these are what the helpful bacteria in our systems need to flourish.

After we eat prebiotics, we have significantly lower levels of cortisol when we wake up in the morning – high cortisol is linked to stress, anxiety and depression. We also pay less attention to negative information and more attention to positive information; so we have less anxiety about negative or threatening things.

That could be a problem if we lived in the kind of very dangerous environment that our more distant ancestors did. But for most of us, most of the time, our troubles come from over-reacting to things that look negative or threatening, but actually are not.

Probiotics are the friendly bacteria themselves. We can get these through eating things like yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso soup. Probiotics are connected to how we process information related to anxiety and depression, and they influence the stress response. There have been cases of deep, intractable depression being lifted through eating probiotics. This isn’t a common occurrence, but it does show how severe the absence of these friendly bacteria can be.

In my office I have shelves full of books on psychology. I could never have guessed twenty years ago that a cookbook would compete with them in importance. But with all the research coming out on lifestyle, happiness, and psychological health, it may be that what’s in our refrigerator is as important as what’s going on in our heads.

More…

Everything is amazing and no one is happy
01Sep 2015
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What an incredible time it is to be alive.

Without a doubt, we are the luckiest generation in the history of humanity… living in the safest, cleanest, wealthiest age to date.

We don’t have to focus single-mindedly, from dawn ‘til dusk, on where our next meal is going to come from, or how we’re going to survive this year’s winter, or how we could ever possibly complete the 3,000-mile trek from New York to California on foot.

We have almost zero life-threatening challenges to face on a day-to-day basis, and millions upon millions of life-enriching tools at our fingertips, most of which are accessible with only the click of a tiny (virtual) button.

Never have humans been so FREE to do what we want, when we want, how we want… and to do it at such lightning speed, with such miraculous efficacy.

So why aren’t more of us happy? Blissfully grateful, even?

Do we really understand how LUCKY we are? What would all the other generations of humanity have given to experience even a TINY fraction of the luxuries we take for granted everyday?

Yet, despite the countless miracles of our modern world, most people are dissatisfied, angry, and unfulfilled.

Clearly we don’t understand how charmed our lives are.

We are the luckiest people who have EVER been born… Do we really have a RIGHT to be unhappy?

Comedian Louis C.K. doesn’t think so, and this month we’re featuring a delightfully hilarious video clip from his interview with Conan O’Brien, that is sure to put a smile on your face and remind you just how lucky you truly are… More…

The Emotional Breakthrough That Changed Amy’s Life
15Jun 2015
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When I attended my Lifebook session, I had vague ideas about what to expect. As I went through the week, it became clear this was exactly what I needed in my life. I had many breakthroughs… some I didn’t even realize I needed! These shifts in thinking have made all the difference in the past 6 weeks.

I will never be the same.

I am happier, healthier, more loving and more loved.

I am more deeply connected with myself and others around me.

I am richer, wealthier and a more patient and fun parent.

I have done numerous things with relative ease that I thought would always be a struggle for me.

One aspect I have struggled with for years lives in the Emotional Category. I didn’t even know how to put it into words before Lifebook, but I can now…

I didn’t have the skills to get through frustrations successfully.

When things would happen in our family dynamic that brought disappointment and resentment, I would let it build inside of me. I knew this wasn’t leading to my happiness and I knew it wasn’t healthy. In fact, I knew that over the years as these feelings built up, it could be devastating to my family and my health.

Then, [Lifebook’s] Emotional Category presentation changed the course of my life. More…

5 Pretty Little Videos to Touch Your Heart
19May 2015
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For those moments when you want to be inspired, connect to something meaningful, and fill yourself with love, we’ve selected 5 of the most touching, emotional mini videos on the web for you to enjoy this month.  Some are new, some are old, but they are all guaranteed to move you!

29-year old deaf woman hears herself for the first time

Sloan was born deaf, but just received her first hearing implant. Thanks to modern technology, she is able to hear her own voice for the first time in her life. More…

The “S” Word
15Dec 2014
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The “S” Word.  We say it all the time.  We feel it far too often.  Sometimes it can seem as though our lives are completely covered in it.

So how can we ensure it doesn’t ‘hit the fan’?

Use these 40 preventative ways to eliminate STRESS from your life, and clean up your act:
More…

Discover Your Emotional Anatomy:  Where do you FEEL your feelings?
21Oct 2014
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If we were to ask you what your most commonly experienced emotion was, you could probably offer up a few answers on the spot, right?

Now, what if we asked WHERE you felt those emotions within your body?  That’s probably a little more difficult to answer…

Because most people are unaware of the incredible relationship between emotions and physical sensations, and how the knowledge of it can totally transform your emotional life.

We say we have a “gut feeling” about something, or a “lump in our throat” when we’re upset.  But these aren’t just figures of speech… they are real signals from our bodies that should be listened to, identified, and released if we want to evolve into our emotional and physical potential.

Feelings are called such for a reason…  You FEEL them.  More…

The Discipline of Inner Peace
15Apr 2013
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Written by: Missy Butcher

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a deep desire to remain solid, grounded and solution-oriented, no matter what life brings my way. It’s always been very important to me not lose my footing, fly off the handle, or spin out of control when unforeseen problems or intense emotions arise.

It turns out that Inner peace is the foundation for my Emotional Life.

Here’s what inner peace means to me:

Inner peace means experiencing feelings of harmony, tranquility, happiness, goodness, self-love, and groundedness on a consistence basis.

Inner peace entails a deep trust in myself, and the world around me. It’s based in the belief that I live in a benevolent universe, and that things will mostly tend to go my way.

And it represents the profound knowledge that when things don’t go my way, I will make the choices, I will take the actions, and I will use the words that add up to the person that I am, and always strive to be.

How do I create the experience of inner peace? More…