By: Dr. Emily Esfahani Smith, TED talks
"I used to think the whole purpose of life was pursuing happiness. Everyone said the path to happiness was success, so I searched for that ideal job, that perfect boyfriend, that beautiful apartment. But instead of ever feeling fulfilled, I felt anxious and adrift. And I wasn't alone; my friends -- they struggled with this, too.
Eventually, I decided to go to graduate school for positive psychology to learn what truly makes people happy. But what I discovered there changed my life. The data showed that chasing happiness can make people unhappy. And what really struck me was this: the suicide rate has been rising around the world, and it recently reached a 30-year high in America. Even though life is getting objectively better by nearly every conceivable standard, more people feel hopeless, depressed and alone. There's an emptiness gnawing away at people, and you don't have to be clinically depressed to feel it. Sooner or later, I think we all wonder: Is this all there is? And according to the research, what predicts this despair is not a lack of happiness. It's a lack of something else, a lack of having meaning in life
Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but I came to see that seeking meaning is the more fulfilling path. And the studies show that people who have meaning in life, they're more resilient, they do better in school and at work, and they even live longer."
Watch video below to hear more about the pillars to building a more meaningful life.
By: Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, TED Talk
"Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn't the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of "grit" as a predictor of success. Dr. Duckwork describes "grit" as passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. She states that grit is having stamina; sticking with your future, day-in, day-out, not just for the week, or month, but for years. Additionally, she says that grit is working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is like living life like a marathon, not a sprint." Do you have grit? If you don't, what things do you think you can do to change your perspective on long-term goals?
By: Brad Stulberg
"When I first started training for marathons a little over ten years ago, my coach told me something I’ve never forgotten: that I would need to learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I didn’t know it at the time, but that skill, cultivated through running, would help me as much, if not more, off the road as it would on it.
Research shows that, if anything, physical activity boosts short-term brain function and heightens awareness. And even on days they don’t train — which rules out fatigue as a factor — those who habitually push their bodies tend to confront daily stressors with a stoic demeanor. While the traditional benefits of vigorous exercise — like prevention and treatment of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and osteoporosis — are well known and often reported, the most powerful benefit might be the lesson that my coach imparted to me: In a world where comfort is king, arduous physical activity provides a rare opportunity to practice suffering.
What’s remarkable and encouraging about these studies is that the subjects weren’t exercising at heroic intensities or volumes. They were simply doing something that was physically challenging for them – going from no exercise to some exercise; one need not be an elite athlete or fitness nerd to reap the bulletproofing benefits of exercise.
The truth, cliché as it may sound, is this: When you develop physical fitness, you’re developing life fitness, too."
By: Azriel ReShel
"We seem to do it naturally for others, but what does it mean to do it for ourselves? For me, holding space means becoming the container to experience myself; to grow, to feel, to express, to test out, to live. It is being present, treating yourself with care, consideration, kindness, compassion and love. Hearing the needs of your body and mind, feeling your emotions, and listening to the yearning of your soul. It’s a way of being, a lifestyle, a profound choice and a stand you take. It’s not a belief system, but is rather a way of being with yourself and meeting your own needs. This can be lifesaving in intimate relationships, where we can ruin a good thing by trying to make the other meet all our needs. We spend every minute of the day with ourselves. How much of it is good, supportive, and kind?"
Click on the link below to read a more in-depth description on 9 examples of how you can shape your life for the purpose of 'being there' for yourself.
9 steps to holding space for yourself:
1. Embracing your imperfection
2. Saying no
3. Developing boundaries.
4. Communing with yourself
6. Reaching for support
7. Being authentic
8. Being a good parent to yourself
9. Developing supportive rituals
By David Gelles, NY Times
"Anger is a natural, life-affirming emotion. It lets us know when a boundary has been crossed, when our needs are not being met, or when someone we care about is in danger. But when misdirected, anger can harm our physical health and our relationships. Being mindful of anger means not suppressing, denying or avoiding it and also not acting out in harmful ways. Instead, connect with the direct experience of the anger, and then decide what action you want to take.” — Jessica Morey, executive director of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education"
Here is a list of points that Ms. Morey suggests when processing anger:
Recognize and respect that anger is happening. It’s part of the human experience.
Stop fueling the anger: Cut off the stories about how you were wronged or why your anger is justified. Instead, shift your attention to the body.
What part of your body is not feeling angry? Your feet? Your back? The breath at the tip of your nose? Are there any sensations in your body that feel neutral, even pleasant? What else is happening around you? Are there any neutral or pleasant sounds you can attend to?
Rest your attention on these sensations for a few minutes, allowing yourself to find some calm. If your mind wanders back into thinking about the anger-producing situation, come back to these neutral sensations.
Investigate the anger more directly. Where do you feel it? Is it in your chest? Your hands? Your jaw? What does the anger feel like? How do the sensations of anger change as you pay attention to them? Do any other emotions show up underneath the anger?
Explore the information this anger has for you. What is its message? What does it need? Was a boundary crossed?
Reflect on how you could skillfully respond to what is making you angry. What would be the most helpful response right now?
Finally, commit to taking whatever skillful action is needed without doing any harm — whether it’s a walk, a nap or a direct, difficult conversation.
By David Gelles, NY Times
"Meditation is a simple practice available to all, which can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity and promote happiness. Learning how to meditate is straightforward, and the benefits can come quickly. Here, we offer basic tips to get you started on a path toward greater equanimity, acceptance and joy. Take a deep breath, and get ready to relax."
Click below for a list of guided meditation and mindfulness exercises.
By JESSICA ZUCKER and RYAN ALEXANDER-TANNER, New York Times
Many times holding rigid or high expectations of pregnancy, delivery, or the postpartum period can lead to symptoms of distress. Click below to see more illustrations on how there is no "wrong or right" way to having a baby.
By: Carolyn Robertson
Here is an account of what it's like to experience Postpartum Anxiety.
By: Stephanie M. Bucklin
"When Karen Papajohn first came home from the hospital with her infant son, AJ, she felt numb. “I kept wondering why I didn’t feel the same ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’ of welcoming this precious gift into my life as my husband did,” she wrote in a survivor story on Jenny’s Light, a perinatal issues website. Amongst other things, Papajohn was sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and exhausted.
But she wasn’t depressed—instead, Papajohn was suffering from postpartum depression, a condition that is distinct from major depressive disorder. While the many of the symptoms are similar (sad mood, restlessness, poor concentration), PPD isn’t merely an extension of depression, as a recent review published in Trends in Neurosciences confirms. It involves distinct changes to the brain, which suggest that PPD is a separate biological disease, and may even require distinct treatment..."
By: Florence Williams, National Geographic
"When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor.... Our brains aren’t tireless three-pound machines; they’re easily fatigued. When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too."
"A large study found less death and disease in people who lived near parks or other green space—even if they didn’t use them. Researchers suspect that nature works primarily by lowering stress. Compared with people who have lousy window views, those who can see trees and grass have been shown to recover faster in hospitals, perform better in school, and even display less violent behavior in neighborhoods where it’s common. Such results jibe with experimental studies of the central nervous system. Measurements of stress hormones, respiration, heart rate, and sweating suggest that short doses of nature—or even pictures of the natural world—can calm people down and sharpen their performance."