Dark Days-10 Tips to Live Happier till Springtime

Evening GloomWhen the days are short and the nights are long, do you feel like crawling in a cave or at least under the covers until springtime? Do you feel like Lord Byron expressed-“I am always more religious on sunshiney days”?

Mood variation dependent on the amount of sunlight affects many of us, mostly women. Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, as it is called, mimic those of depression-fatigue, lack of interest in things that used to be pleasurable, cravings for carbohydrates and weight gain.

If this is describing how you are feeling, here are 10 Tips:

  1. Get outside even if it’s just to rake leaves or shovel snow at least 10 minutes a day.
  2. Open all the blinds and curtains in the house to let all the sunshine in that is available.
  3. Take your laptop or book to sit by a window.
  4. Make sure you are taking enough Vitamin D.
  5. Replace your light bulbs with full (broad) spectrum ones.
  6. We are mammals. If you are getting sleepy earlier than usual, don’t fight it. Go to bed.
  7. If you must start your day before sunrise, set a timer on your bedroom light to come on a half hour before the alarm goes off.
  8. If possible, plan your vacations in January or February and go south to sunnier climes.
  9. Push yourself out of the cave. Get together with friends and do something fun. Join a Meetup group.
  10. Remember it won’t last forever. Each day from today on will have a few more minutes of sunshine!

Tis the Season to be Grateful, Next Month We’re Supposed to be Jolly

Saying GraceWhat’s the difference? If you’re jolly, aren’t you grateful? According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the author of THANKS! How the New Science of Gratitude can Make you Happier, while there are many things that we can be happy about, the uniqueness of gratitude is that we realize that we have received a gift that we don’t deserve. It’s “the acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life” and secondly “recognizing that the source(s) of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self.” We can only be grateful to others, not to ourselves, so it brings a sense of humility along with the gift (4-8).

Offering grace at the family table, Bart Simpson prayed,

“Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.”

Donald Trump stated,

“All of the women on The Apprentice have flirted with me-consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected” (148).

Gratitude is knowing, at a deep level is an appreciation that what we have received was “freely bestowed out of compassion, generosity, or love” (7). The International Encyclopedia of Ethics defines it as “the heart’s internal indicator when the tally of gifts outweighs the exchanges” (6).

Emmons’s research found that when people took the time to write in a gratitude journal, not only did they feel more appreciative about things that they normally overlooked, but they reported–exercising more, sleeping better, experiencing few physical symptoms and feeling more optimistic about their lives. They were more likely to make progress toward their personal goals and to have offered emotional support to others.

Other important healing benefits are that-

Gratitude counters our natural adaption to pleasant events.

Gratitude mitigates toxic emotions and states like envy, resentment, and regret.

Gratitude strengthens social ties.

Gratitude increases one’s sense of personal worth.

Gratitude has a direct link to cardiovascular functioning.

In his intro to the workshop that I attended at Loma Linda Medical School, Emmons described it like this-

“You feel a deep sense of peace and internal balance-you are at harmony with yourself, with others and with your larger environment. You experience increased buoyancy vitality and flow. Your senses are enlivened—every aspect of your perceptual experience seems richer, more texture. Surprisingly, you fell invigorated at time when you would usually have felt tired and drained. Things that usually would have irked you just don’t “get to you” as much. Your body feels regenerated-your mind, at last, clear. . . At least for a period of time, decisions become obvious as priorities clarify and inner conflict dissolves. Intuitive insight suddenly provides convenient solution to problems. . Your creativity flows freely. In this state of inner harmony and deep fulfillment, you experience a sense of greater connectedness—to other people, to a larger whole, perhaps to God, or to a higher aspect of yourself. (From Gratitude as a Way of Life: Insights from the Science of Well-Being, Emmons, 2005)

Heading into the challenges of the holiday season, let’s remember to give ourselves a “gratitude intervention.” Positive results were observed with subjects who only journaled once a day, but here’s the perspective of GK Chesterton-

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play. . . and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, and swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in ink.”

Is Anyone Touching You? ( I mean physically.)

My strongest visual memory from my first class in psychology many years ago is a photo of some very sad, pathetic looking baby monkeys who were fading away, with “failure to thrive” because their “mother” was a wire mesh feeder,  instead of a warm, soft one. Researcher Harlow found that they valued being touched even more than a full stomach.Harlow cloth

We humans need touch to thrive, too. Touch is our first sense to develop, as early as the first 3 weeks in the womb. It is also the only one of our senses that is reciprocal. As a human mother cradles, nurses and strokes, her newborn her baby is affecting her, too, stimulating lactation, releasing pleasure and bonding hormones and even aiding her body to recover from the delivery by contracting the uterus.

With the number of single people increasing in America through divorce, postponement of marriage and widowhood many of us go long stretches without even a hug. We hear much about the need for sexual fulfillment nowadays, but the physical need for tactile stimulation is even more basic and primal. Fortunately, there are increasing offerings for somato-sensory experiences in most communities, at least if one has a budget to pay for a professional touch, like massage therapy and other modalities. In urban areas, one can even find groups created to provide safe environments for mutual cuddling, “Cuddle Parties.”

According to Hal and Sidra Stone, the developers of Voice Dialogue, our vulnerability is one of our first parts that we suppress, usually by the age of 5. We learn at a very young age that we get made fun of when we act “needy.”  We learn quickly to project an independent image to the world to not show how much we still would love to be held and nurtured.

Physicians rarely touch patients anymore, except to check pulse rate, certainly never for comfort or reassurance, and therapists are well-trained to restrain from physical contact with clients. With such an ingrained touch-taboo are many of us not thriving, just due to something as simple as needing a hug? Americans are spending millions on prescriptions and natural supplements. Maybe we just need more touch.

I have been rereading Where Healing Waters Meet: Touching Mind & Emotion through the Body, by Clyde W. Ford.

Touch is our first language. Touch is our one reciprocal sense. We cannot touch another without being  touched ourself.

Ford provides academic backing for the reminder on bumper stickers to “Give someone a hug today.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretending and Imagining can Change Your Life

We know that hypnotherapy that engages as many of the 5 senses as possible is much more powerful and that imagining one is playing a sport well makes muscles activate as if it were true.  Here is a fascinating article on the power of pretend.

Here’s a fascinating article, The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction, showing how “the brain. . . does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life. . .  the same neurological regions are stimulated.”

I love it when something I have learned to do in my training is explained by neuroscience! I know it works, I’m just the kind of person that also likes to know why and how.

Your Unlived Lives

When we say “I” enjoy living in the mountains or “I” have had a successful career in management, we are usually only expressing a perspective from one of the many selves we have inside us. While a strong “I” may prefer the mountains, there may be another “I” within who loves the excitement of urban living and misses the culture and restaurants of city life.  The “I” who is proud of business accomplishments may have long suppressed another “I” who has longed to sail around the world.

At mid-life, many of us start to reassess our course. At every turn of our journey, another path has been thwarted or suppressed, but now it’s time to regroup. In the time that we have left-15, 20, 30 years, how do we most want to spend our time? Do we still have the same motivations? Do we even value the things that we once did?

Seeing his talent and love of music, we sent our youngest son to a school of the arts and made sure that he had the best musical teachers. He won a full scholarship to a well-respected art institute to major in music composition, surrounded by a phenomenal artistic community. Years later, he has lamented that he never attended a “normal” high school or got to play sports.

In “Living Your Unlived Life: Coping with Unrealized Dreams and Fulfilling Your Purpose in the Second Half of Life, Jungian analysts Robert A. Johnson and Jerry Ruhl provide an inventory with questions like these to ponder.

  • How would you title your life story?
  • What were some of the missed opportunities or paths not taken?
  • Which talents and abilities have you not applied?

There are many examples of the power of using our minds to create new possibilities. Neural pathways are carved just by imagining that we are engaged in a new activity. People mentally visualizing playing a musical instrument or a sport show almost as much increase in skill level and accuracy as those actually practicing the activity.

For those ready to chart a new life direction, at Technologies of the Self, we start with an in-depth, non-judgmental inventory of your talents, qualities, and potentials to see what unlived lives you may want to embark on.   Our life coaching methods are cutting edge.

But we don’t stop there.  Hypnosis and visualization techniques allow us to go beyond the limitations of what the conscious mind can achieve.  You are guided into a deep state, where your critical mind, the part that has been in charge so far, relaxes.  Your subconscious mind, where your unlived selves are still waiting, is ready to open up and to create your unrealized life dreams. Through hypnosis you can visualize yourself engaged in your heart’s desires, living your new life, and immediately be headed towards your new destination.

Call 720-515-8411 for a complimentary session to see how hypnotherapy can support you in achieving a more creative and satisfying life journey.

30 Uses of Hypnosis

This is not an exhaustive list, but is designed to give you an idea of the range of conditions that can be helped at Technologies of the Self.

  • Addictions-Smoking Cessation, Substance Abuse
  • Anger Management
  • Bedwetting
  • Career/Financial Success
  • Confidence/Motivation/Self Esteem, Self Image
  • Eating Disorders
  • Eczema
  • Fear of Heights, Water, Flying, Fear of Doctors, Dentists, Medical Procedures
  • Headaches
  • Immune System Support
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Memory, Concentration
  • Nail Biting
  • Pain Management
  • Panic Attacks
  • Phobias, Agoraphobia
  • Psoriasis
  • Fear of Public Speaking
  • Relationship Enhancement
  • Recovery from Surgery
  • Relaxation
  • Sexual Problems
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Sports / Work Performance
  • Stress / Anxieties/Worry
  • Study Habits
  • Test/Performance Anxiety, Stage Fright
  • Weight Loss
  • Writer’s Block

Some issues can be resolved in just one session. Others may take a series. For some conditions, a medical referral will be requested. We believe that a team approach offers the greatest support, so we are happy to collaborate with your psychologist and/or medical professional.

Call 720-460-0758 to set up a free consultation to find out how our services can help you find relief from a challenging condition or to achieve your personal goals more effectively.

The Artful Life

Michel Foucault describes the philosophical and religious practices of ancient Greece as an “Aesthetics of Existence.”

What this entails is the idea that there is a potential in life for stylization, for beauty.

There is not simply one master narrative, one truth about who we are and what we must do. There is a potential, instead, to learn new ways of being and becoming. To set new goals. To remake our desires and, in the process, our very selves.

Existence happens at the intersection of language and the flesh. A change in the body produces a change in the mind, in the soul. When we change our ideas, our flesh too is remade and reshaped.

At Technologies of the Self we offer simple and useful techniques for changing both the mind and the body. From meditation and hypnosis to energy work, from Renaissance-era memory techniques to brain nutrition, from analysis to ecstatic breathwork, we have selected methods and theories that work to reshape lives in ways that are beautiful, powerful, and vibrant

Contact us now for a full life coaching experience: Spiritual, Mental, and Holistic. The initial consultation is complimentary.

Email Victoria for more information: victoria@technologiesoftheself.org or call 720-202-3078.

The Science of Gratitude

Gratitude HeartResearch shows that people who learn to focus on gratitude not only are “flat-out happier”, but are-

More energetic

Are more determined

Get more sleep

Feel better about their lives

Are more likely to help others

Exercise more, and even–have fewer illnesses.

Heading into winter, during these challenging times, wouldn’t you like to learn how to give yourself a gratitude intervention?

2 Opportunities in Denver-a brief overview over lunch or a 2 hour workshop-

Thursday, November 11, 12-1 Lunch & Learn at the Nourished Health Wellness Center, West City Park, $10 (a healthy lunch prepared by Chef Katie Bauer is available for additional $5)

 

Saturday, November 13, 10am-noon at the People House, Highlands

Preregistration is necessary. Call 720-515-8411 or email Victoria@technologiesoftheself.org

Participants will-

  1. Gain an overview of the research conducted by Robert Emmons, PhD that shows the mental and physical benefits of a thankful attitude.

2. Take a Daily Gratitude Inventory (DGI).

3. Take home a list of 10 evidence-based prescriptions to increase one’s gratitude rating in order to experience more health benefits.

Victoria Bresee will share information from a training she attended with Dr. Emmons, at Loma Linda University, called “Gratitude as a Way of Life: Insights from the Science of Well-Being”. He is the author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.

Kierkegaard and the Pursuit of Happiness

There is an excellent article in the New York Times right now discussing the melancholy spirituality of Soren Kierkegaard, and how no one today “believes that a person can be of troubled mind and healthy spirit.”

One of the hardest parts of developing spiritually is letting go of the dreams and illusions that allow us to hide from the misery and despair that often lurks within us at a deeper level.

There is abundant chatter today about “being spiritual” but scarcely anyone believes that a person can be of troubled mind and healthy spirit. Nor can we fathom the idea that the happy wanderer, who is all smiles and has accomplished everything on his or her self-fulfillment list, is, in fact, a case of despair. But while Kierkegaard would have agreed that happiness and melancholy are mutually exclusive, he warns, “Happiness is the greatest hiding place for despair.”

Happiness and Television

A recent study from the University of Maryland shows an inverse correlation between the amount of time one spends watching television and one’s personal sense of happiness.  In other words, one can detect how miserable a person is by measuring how much television they watch.

On the other hand, there is a positive correlation between church going, socializing, and reading and happiness.  Those who spend more time in these activities are more likely to claim to be happy.

Does this mean that television makes us miserable?

Not so fast.  Perhaps television does make us miserable, but it is equally likely that people use television as a means of escape from an unhappy or alienated life.

My guess is that television is one activity that holds no potential for making us less unhappy.  Retreating into the often repetitive lives of television characters contains none of the potential for growth and discovery that most other activities hold.  By distracting us, television may serve to relieve pain, but it only treats the symptoms, rarely offering us genuine hope for change.

Read a Washington Post article on the study here.