Half the truth is no truth at all

yoga mudraHere’s a brief gardening analogy I will use to introduce what I’m about to share with my readers.

If we recognize that positively focused people are like fertilizer and rain that helps us blossom and grow in our own lives. And, we also recognize it’s not wise to pull every weed out of our gardens because they provide vital trace elements for growth, then we can likewise choose to summon up enough empathy to become the sun and fertilizer in the lives of negatively focused people. Granted we may limit our time with them, but everyone we meet is our mirror, and if we want love to be reflected back to us then we need to be the light of love in their world. Continue reading

A Difficult Week in Review

smallLast week was typical week for me.  I was busy and productive and though I had to deal with several difficult people I was happy.

I have resolved not to shun the so-called difficult people in my life for two self serving reasons. They teach me important lessons about myself, and learning from them provides  opportunities for my growth.

I acknowledged that every person in my life is my mirror. By remaining aware that each one was reflecting aspects of my own consciousness back to me,  I was able not to take their negativity personally. Continue reading

The Power of the Smile

Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart. — Anthony J. D’Angelo

There are hundreds of different variations of smiles expressing the full range of human emotion.  From Charles Darwin’s  facial expressions interpretations to Stanford University’s “Happiness” class — smile scholars have puzzled over the range of emotions smile depict. Experts including anthropologists, biologists and psychologists agree, the smile is recognizable worldwide and can be viewed as an international language understood by people across all cultures.

Continue reading

Seeking Happiness: Focus on Relationships

The Oxford Happiness Inventory and a battery of personality measures were completed by 171 subjects. The results showed predicted positive correlations for happiness with satisfaction with life, self-esteem, and sociability and negative correlations of happiness with embarrass-ability, loneliness, shyness, and social anxiety. Four predictors (satisfaction with life, shyness, loneliness, and sociability) accounted for 58% of the variance in happiness scores. Continue reading

Deeper Relationships

small talk As Winter Solstice approached I carefully considered what I wanted to leave behind and what I want to achieve in 2012.  In 2011 I was able to achieve my health and wellness goals. I had an unexpected opportunity to work side-by-side with my husband by traveling down a  path with heart that drew us closer together than we have ever been.  However,  during that time I met new people and re-discovered how very poor I am at making small talk work for me. Continue reading

Live in Joy, Peace and Love

compassionate lifeCompassion without attachment is possible. Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment. True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the needs of the other. – The Compassionate Life, Ch. 2  How to Develop Compassion p. 21 Continue reading

Anger and its Antidote, Patience

phoenix I’ve been reading on the beach and learning much from what I have read. In How to Solve Our Human Problems Geshe Kelsang Gyatso proposes that there is no situation so bad that it cannot be accepted patiently, with an open, accommodating, and peaceful heart.

Reading this book caused me to take a look at my inner landscape. I have dealt with a large number of major issues in my life but not all. I experience anger less often than I have in the past because I tend to look at the big picture and ask myself how important is this? The answer is usually “not very” as emotions change and those things that evoked anger in me were really small when viewed close up. Sadly, there are still occasions when I don’t pause and ask myself that critical question. Continue reading

Art Therapy Abstracts: The Depths

My paintings are a result of releasing and expressing deep emotions and most are the products of flow experiences. I’m in art therapy painting abstracts with others who also suffer from PTSD.  I’m analyzing what was going on within and around me when the traumatic events happened, and what the memories evoke for me in the here and now. I’m  learning art therapy can be a powerful means of for releasing pain that can lead to emotional healing  and experiencing  personal growth. Continue reading

Art Therapy: Abstract Painting

We begin our lives being spontaneous happy and playful. Challenging circumstances,  relationships and events in our lives can cause us to lose that childhood sense of wonder and joyfulness. That loss can result in depression ie. a mental state in which we don’t feel happy to be alive any more, and some of us are haunted by PTSD flashbacks to traumatic events in the past.

I suffer from depression and I have previously published articles in this blog on happiness.  Every day I focus on creating happiness between my ears, and this summer being with children gave me the creative boost I needed to start painting abstracts. Continue reading

Benefiting from private journal blogging

hands on keyboardI have written down my observations and responses to events in my life in diaries since I was 8 years old.  Keeping a private personal growth journal is therapeutic process that helps me keep in close touch with my inner brat.   ;)   But sharing every detail of my personal life with the whole world online in a public blog would neither be wise nor appropriate.  So I  have been keeping both a personal growth journal online and a dream journal in private blogs.

My commitment to journaling was flagging when I read Doreene Clements’ The 5 Year Journal in 2007  but her book spurred me on. I shared my approach to keeping dream journal in this blog. I have also published some of my dreams in this blog and doing these things encouraged me  to continue recording  my introspective internal journey in my private journal blogs.

1.   Catch your dreams - We dream every night and in fact we dream all day long too although we are rarely aware of it. Our dreams are not usually depicting real events, except in situations of remembrance or prophesy it’s true, but if we stop and consider then we will realize our dreams are real scenarios – manifestations of our unconscious thoughts and our emotions – manifestations built from the stuff of our lives and made alive through our imagination with the assistance of our intuition.

2.   Journaling Your Dreams Part 1 – Beginning – Journaling is an important way to help remember dreams. Journaling dreams can make all the difference between getting a valuable piece of information and completely losing it.

3.   Journaling Dreams Part 2 – Tips – Get yourself a dream journal. If you scratch down your dreams on scrap pieces of paper, or in general note pads, you’ll be sure to lose them. Here are some tips in helping your dream recall.

4.   Journaling Your Dreams Part 3 – Questions - When journaling dreams there are specific questions that we can answer that will assist in dream interpretation.

Keeping a private personal growth journal online

Using a keyboard is not that much different than using a pen and writing a journal in long hand. In a blog the process is essentially the same, but in a blog I can do more in the way of self expression by uploading and adding images, video and audio to the text. Writing in a blog editor is far easier for me as I do have swollen finger  joints and painful hands.

The way bloggers communicate and present themselves and their opinions online is important, but even more important than online presence is “to thine own self be true”. Authenticity is the character trait of being genuine, honest with oneself as well as others.  It’s more than that too. Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite the demands of society or one’s conditioning.   – Blogging: Online presence and authenticity

Conversations with myself

My personal growth journal provides me with access to phases I have gone through. I  record significant events  and major issues in my life as they unfold, the issues I’m struggling with.  I return to what I record in my personal growth journal at later dates and I work things through by having conversations with myself.

Have a conversation with yourself and question your current strategies or aims. Criticize yourself. Praise yourself. Give yourself advice. Reflect on your mistakes.  –The Benefits of Keeping a Private Journal

I record the experiences that touch me deeply and  lead me to laugh or cry. I ask myself deep questions about what I think about them and I answer questions too. But most importantly, I record my spontaneous emotional responses to those significant events and life issues first,  then I revisit them again and again and record  my deeper thoughts about them as I move towards acceptance or resolution.

Gaining insight and healing

I have found that along with therapy, counseling, and meditation,  keeping a private personal development journal  is an essential part of my healing process. By undertaking the journal writing process I gain insight into my subconscious mind, insight I would not have gained if I hadn’t gone through the writing process.

I have used my journal to recall abuse and heal from it. I used my journal to chart my course through cancer and through recovery from a head injury. I’m currently recording my life struggles as a disabled person committed to overcoming chronic illness and stress.

By remaining committed to recording my thoughts and responses, posing questions and seeking answers  I am taking care of myself. The answers demand deep self-inquiry and to find them I must honestly explore my  desires and motivations.  I  must recognize not just my hidden  egocentricity, based on my attachments and aversions,  I must also find out where my non-negotiable commitments lie,   re-visit my core values, and make adjustments where required.  I use my personal growth journal to learn how to love myself and formulate strategies for setting myself free and becoming a better me.

The benefits of private journal blogging

Keeping a private journal helps me:

  1. record significant life events  and major issues and my responses to them;
  2. become aware of my inner dialog and gain insights into the workings of my mind;
  3. release disappointment,  frustration, fear and anger;
  4. become aware of my strengths and weaknesses;
  5. recognize patterns and best practices for replacing them;
  6. clear up confusion and solve problems;
  7. set goals and explore alternative ways of achieving them;
  8. express my creativity;
  9. celebrate my breakthroughs and victories;
  10. reduce stress;
  11. have more to compassion for others and more to contribute to relationships;
  12. remain committed to my personal growth, personal development and self improvement.

Discussion

  1. Do you keep a diary or journal?
  2. If so, have you tried private journal blogging?
  3. If so, what benefits you have received from keeping a diary or journal?
  4. Do you have opinions, either positive or negative, about the value keeping a private diary or a private journal blog?
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Creativity in the Flow

flow imageMihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

The intensity of the flow experience is one we all recognize as a creative one that goes beyond everyday consciousness. One reference is being “in the zone”. Csikszentmihalyi lists conditions necessary for the occurrence and continuation of flow experience:

  1. clear goals and feedback;
  2. balance between challenges and skills;
  3. action and awareness merged;
  4. concentration on task;
  5. sense of potential control;
  6. loss of self-consciousness;
  7. altered sense of time;
  8. autotelic (self-rewarding) experience.

The Hustler – Being in the flow state

There’s a move circa 1961 with Paul Newman talking about being in the flow state.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in a TED talk explains his studies about the roots of happiness and the concept of flow for which he is famous.

‘What makes human beings happy?’ Is the question he was looking for an answer to. Flow is his answer to the question

In our normal experience he looked at where we feel really happy. “Ecstacy in Greek meant to stand to the side of something. A step into an alternative reality. Such an intense experience that it feels like you don’t exist.” When you are in a state of flow, you are able to face high challenges using a high level of skills.

The entire concept of flow is really intriguing, at least to me. What do you think?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness

In Buddhism, there is a form of meditation called samatha bhavana, which can lead to blissful states, like flow. In ‘samatha’ the mind becomes like a still, clear pool completely free from disturbance and anger, and ready to mirror on its surface the nature of things as they really are, m which is hidden from ordinary knowledge by the restlessness of desire and craving. You meditate until you attain jhana. Jhana is a meditative state of profound stillness and concentration in which the mind becomes fully immersed and absorbed in the chosen object of attention. It is the cornerstone in the development of right concentration.

Csikszentmihalyi illustrates that creativity is the central source of meaning in our lives and for better or for worse the planet’s future is closely tied to human creativity. Our capacity for being in the flow and ability to face higher challenges and succeed in what we do will in large part directly affect the planet’s future.  –  Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.

No matter what walk of life we are in or what we may find ourselves completely absorbed in – we may be enjoying a flow experience.  What do you think about flow?