Most of my articles focus on women and the female perspective. Sadly, this ignores about 50% of the population. Men are also trying to find their way in our changing culture. I believe these changes are requiring men to develop more compassion. Yet, what is required of men to become more compassionate? For that answer, I turned to an article written by Kozo Hattori that was published in the Great Good, ‘What Makes a Compassionate Man?’

What does it take to foster compassion in men? To find out, Kozo Hattori, the author, interviewed scientific and spiritual experts.

I remember being a very compassionate child. While watching The Little House on the Prairie, I cried my eyes out when Laura couldn’t give Pa a Christmas gift. But 12 years of physical abuse and being forced to the confines of the “act-like-a-man box” wrung most of that compassion out of me by the time I reached adulthood.

Although I was what therapists call “high functioning,” my lack of compassion was like a cancer that poisoned my friendships, relationships, business affairs, and life. At the age of 46, I hit rock bottom. Unemployed and on the verge of divorce, I found myself slapping my four-year-old son’s head when he wouldn’t listen to me. As the survivor of abuse, I had promised myself that I would never lay a hand on my children, but here I was abusing my beloved son.

I knew I had to change. I started with empathy, which led me to compassion. I committed to a daily meditation practice, took the CCARE Cultivating Compassion class at Stanford University, and completed a ten-day silent meditation retreat. I read and researched everything I could find on compassion. I found that the more compassion I felt, the happier I became.

Convinced that I had found an essential ingredient to a happy and peaceful life, I started to interview scientific and spiritual experts on compassion, trying to find out what made a compassionate man. Interviewees included Dr. Dacher Keltner, co-founder of the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center; Dr. James Doty, founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University; Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness; Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence; and Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist Monk nominated by Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.

From these interviews and research, I compiled a list of what makes a compassionate man.

1. A fundamental understanding of compassion
>Most events I attend that discuss compassion are predominantly attended by women. When I asked Thich Nhat Hanh how we could make compassion more attractive to men, he answered, “There must be a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of compassion because compassion is very powerful…Compassion protects us more than guns, bombs, and money.” Although many men in society see compassion and sympathy as feminine—which translates to a weakness in our patriarchal society—all of the compassionate men I interviewed view compassion as a strength.

Dr. Hanson noted how compassion makes one more courageous since compassion strengthens the heart—courage comes from the French word “Coeur,” which means heart. Dacher Keltner argues that Darwin believed in “survival of the kindest,” not the fittest. Dr. Ted Zeff, author of Raise an Emotionally Healthy Boy, believes that only compassionate men can save the planet. Zeff argues that “the time has come to break the outdated, rigid male code that insists that all men should be aggressive, thick-skinned, and unemotional”—an excellent description of the act-like-a-man box that I tried to live in.

The compassionate men I interviewed agree with the Dalai Lama when he said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

2. Compassionate role models
All of the compassionate men seemed to have role models that supported their compassion instinct. Marc Brackett gives credit to his uncle, Marvin Maurer, who was a social studies teacher trying to instill emotional intelligence in his student before the term emotional intelligence was coined. Over 30 years after teaching in middle school, Maurer’s “Feeling Words Curriculum” acts as a key component of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence RULER program. Similarly, Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication, constantly mentions his compassionate uncle who cared for his dying grandmother.

A role model doesn’t necessarily have to be living, or even real. Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself, cites Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Gandhi as a role model for compassion. Dr. Rick Hanson posits Ender from the science fiction novel Ender’s Game as a compassionate role model. Certainly, Jesus and Buddha are obvious role models of compassion. The key is to treat them like role models.

Role models are not meant to be worshiped, deified, or prayed to. They are meant to be emulated. They pave the way for us to walk a similar path. Can we turn the other cheek and love our enemies like Jesus asked us? Can we transcend our ego and see all things as one, like the Buddha did?

In contrast are individuals who were not guided by positive role models. In his book From Wild Man to Wise Man, Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr describes what he calls “father hunger”: “Thousands and thousands of men, young and old…grew up without a good man’s love, without a father’s understanding and affirmation.” Rohr, who was a jail chaplain for 14 years, claims that “the only universal pattern I found with men and women in jail was that they did not have a good father.”

Scott Kriens, former CEO of Juniper Networks and founder/director of the 1440 Foundation, concurs: “The most powerful thing we can do for our children is be the example we can hope for.”

Stay tuned for Part Two of “What Makes a Compassionate Man” in next week’s ezine. In the meantime, if you are a man who is struggling to find out how to be more compassionate in a patriarchal society, please contact Joy a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation. Email Joy or call 415-819-8769 today.

You can find the original article at https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_makes_a_compassionate_man

As a transformational coach I often hear about upsetting events and distressing circumstances in the lives of my clients.  Some of my friends wonder how I’m able to keep my distance emotionally when I hear these troubling stories. Through my own personal and spiritual journey, and my experience with 12-step programs, I was introduced to the concept which is called compassionate detachment.

Compassionate detachment is a mindset from which all of us can benefit when we exercise it in our relationships. It is a healthy way of relating to others which lets them know that you have a loving and caring concern for their predicament, while holding the belief that they have the inherent ability to deal with their own problems and become responsible for their own issues. Simultaneously you strive to maintain a sense of detachment about the outcome.

The important thing here is to stay detached so that you don’t step in and attempt to resolve their problem, their pain, or their issue for them.  This doesn’t mean, however, that you care any less for them. Nor does it mean that they, and the outcome, aren’t important to you.

Too often, many of us out of genuine concern will jump in and attempt to ‘rescue’ a friend. We might do this by giving advice, money, shelter, trying to ‘fix’ their feelings, or interceding for them in some way. Though our intentions may be good, in the long run we are doing our friend a disservice. By jumping in to rescue, we can end up disempowering the person we are trying to help. How? By not giving them the time, space, and self-confidence they need to develop their own ability to take care of themselves.

In addition, when we are in the rescue mode we tend to be working on our own agenda – on what we think might be best for our friend… which might not be what is best in the long run. Or we might like the feeling we get from being ‘needed.’ It might make us feel important. That is not necessarily helping our friend, however. In the end we could end up encouraging a dependency on our help rather than supporting their self-reliance and independence.

Rather than jumping to fix a problem, try listening compassionately without offering advice, or trying to fix the situation. Offer caring words of sympathy and be ‘present’ with them as they share what may be troubling them deeply. Many times a person just needs to be heard. Allowing someone to feel truly heard can be the greatest gift that you can give a friend.

So often my clients come to their own solutions just by having a safe space in which they can talk through an issue. In reality, we all have the answers within ourselves; we just need to be given the space, time, and belief in ourselves so that we can find them.


 

If you are struggling with some difficult challenges, give Joy a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how she can help you. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

Most of us don’t like to make mistakes or to fail. Some of us hate failure so much that we don’t even try. We hold back because we don’t like the feelings that failure brings up.

In the past it was part of our karma to reflect, to feel bad, to regret our past mistakes and failures. This was so we could “hit bottom” and then have an epiphany that would inspire us to change. This is the reason monks and nuns had the knotted ropes so they could flagellate themselves and bring into their physical reality the pain of their failures, or the pain they thought they should feel.

In the past, our transformation into being a better person depended on owning our shadow traits, feeling bad about them, and making amends. This was a significant evolutionary insight for 5000 years ago. It served humanity well as we went through that period of advancement in consciousness.

Now we are moving into a new dimension of consciousness.

The time of repeatedly returning to the past for self-flagellation is DONE!!!

Now is a time to create — to bring forth a new era.

We each have our own special gifts. The world needs our gifts and talents. We are going through a challenging time in our global history. Environmentally, socially, politically our world has probably never been more challenged.

We can’t create if we keep cycling back into low vibrations where our thoughts sink into the abyss of our past mistakes, failures, embarrassments, etc.

They just suck us into feeling bad about ourselves.

When we succumb to the bad feelings that old painful memories bring up, our vibrations are lowered. We can’t ascend in consciousness, which is a higher vibrational state, if we are stuck in low vibrations. Make sense?

It’s time to deal with mistakes and failures in a new way.

Have compassion and forgiveness for yourself because you are on a very human journey. Only the tough and resilient choose to incarnate here on the earth-plane. Earth is considered a boot-camp for those souls who want to accelerate their ascension to higher consciousness.

Rather than flagellating yourself for mistakes and failures, or avoiding them altogether out of fear, start thanking the universe for each lesson you learn. Be compassionate and understanding of yourself and others. You, like everyone else, are doing the best you can on this journey to greater awareness. Staying in compassion, acceptance and love is how you raise your consciousness which will in turn help bring in the new era.

To help you do this I am providing a Daily Practice that will help you transform your failures into opportunities. I encourage you to commit to a 21-day practice. It will transform your life.

Daily Practice to Transform Failures into Opportunities

  1. Every morning, light a candle before your day starts and say: “I am a spark of the Divine. I light this candle to remind me that I become more enlightened from every challenge with which I am confronted. There are no problems or failures, only opportunities from which I can learn and grow.”
  2. Every night, light a candle and either write in your journal or say out loud three things that you are grateful for during your day.
  3. If you had a challenge, or if something didn’t work out as planned, then say or journal …
    • Today I experienced ________________. From this experience I learned _____________________.
    • Then affirm, “There are no problems or failures, only opportunities from which I can learn and grow.”
  4. Finally, feel compassion for yourself for this very human journey you are on. Give thanks for the opportunity to grow in awareness and understanding.

 

Last week I mentioned that at one time my attitude was so toxic that it literally polluted my life. Fortunately I had an epiphany that enabled me to realize that I was the source of my own misery. I was able to change my attitude and thus my life. I was still going through a difficult time, but my change in attitude helped me find solutions and improve my situation almost miraculously.If you are going through a tough time, remember that you always have a choice no matter what the circumstance may be. And the choice is this:You can either choose to let worry and upset fester at the expense of your life and well-being. Or, you can choose to see your situation in perspective, stay positive, and let go of anxiety and apprehension.

Sounds good, but how do you withstand those huge waves of negativity, let alone stay positive under the weight of an overwhelming challenge? Last week I gave 5 tips to help shift your attitude. You can read those HERE. Here are 5 more suggestions to consider:

6. Get enough sleep. During a stressful time, you might be tempted to skip on sleep, either voluntarily or not. But in reality, plenty of good quality sleep during a stressful time is even more important that the time you will gain by skimping. Adequate sleep will help you remain energetic, clear-headed and focused so that you’re able to figure out your next steps. When tired you’re more easily irritated and impatient, and you’re more likely to make mistakes or use poor judgment.

7. Limit bad news intake. Being constantly fed with gloomy news is enough to make even a dog panic for no reason. Today’s TV news is full of doom and gloom. Somedays it’s a virtual reality show of misadventures. Though it may seem entertaining, it can also be depressing and erode your positive attitude. Keep bad news, especially TV news, to a minimum as much as you can.

8. Join forces with others. When bad things happen, it is easy to become close-minded. But chances are, you are not alone during difficult times. There are likely to be many people who feel the same way as you do even though they may not voice this out loud. For instance, if you are worried about job security, recruit the help of your boss by discussing the implications of the crisis on your job and what you can best do to keep it. Your boss will appreciate your proactive approach and may even be glad that there is someone who shares the same sentiment. If you are unemployed, besides making trips to recruitment and government agencies to cast your employment net, connect with others who are in the same boat as you. Take this lull period to expand your network. The many talented friends that you will make during hard times could become lifetime friendships, and even turn into unexpected help in the future. And if you are an employer, this is a great time to boost your business with skillful and experienced people to help you ride out the crisis.

9. Get close to nature. Finnish researchers found that spending time in your favorite outdoor area and woodlands are more relaxing and restorative than time spent in your favorite urban settings or city parks. Taking a meditative walk through the woods is also a great way to clear the mind and regain mental balance.

10. Re-evaluate the meaning of your life. Tough times present hard but valuable lessons that can force us to re-evaluate the meanings we have been attaching to our lives. When facing adversity ask yourself:

• Are the meanings and goals I’ve been living by before this difficult time really worthwhile? 
• Through this challenge, what are the things that I’ve found to be really important? 
• And, what are those things that are not as important as what I once thought they were?

I’ve been through my share of difficult times. None of them were any fun! Yet, when I look back at those times I realize that they have been the source of some of my greatest insights and biggest lessons. I do believe it is possible to learn our lessons through ease and grace, but until that time, I find that maintaining a positive attitude helps me to find solutions more easily so I can more consistently live a joyful life.

I would like to leave you with these words from Viktor Frankl, the world-renowned psychiatrist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Man is not free from conditions. But he is free to take a stand in regard to them. The conditions do not completely condition him. Within limits it is up to him whether or not he succumbs and surrenders to the conditions. He may as well rise above them and by so doing open up and enter the human dimension… Ultimately, man is not subject to the conditions that confront him; rather, these conditions are subject to his decision. Wittingly or unwittingly, he decides whether he will face up or give in, whether or not he will let himself be determined by the conditions.” 
— An excerpt from Psychotherapy and Existentialism

May your spirit grow stronger in the face of crisis!

If you are challenged with negative thinking, then contact Joy for a complimentary consultation to find out how your can reframe your thinking and live a more positive and happy life. Contact Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me today!

Do you feel the wildness within?

… The energy of the wild woman that cries to be unleashed? Then you must also know that wild women need their sisters.

There is a vastness to us. We are mystical – sometimes even mysterious. We are rich and vibrant and full of passion and purpose. In fact, we surge with it. It rises up in us — an all-consuming fire — and we burn with deep knowing, profound understanding, and a message to live in whatever way we see fit.

If the wild woman is awakening, you know it! You feel the emerging fire.

Your divinity — your soul — is ready to be embodied. You are asked to become a living goddess, embracing the authority and immortality that comes with soul-full living.

We are fierce.
We have proven that we have what it takes to overcome great hardship. We have proven that our hearts can withstand our darkest days and still blaze the trail forward. We have conceived of the goddess within us. We are pregnant with the lights of our own being.

We are Sensual.
Being sensual is more than being sexual. The more you embrace your sensuality, the more you can embrace your sexuality. Being sensual means paying attention to and thoroughly enjoying what your senses are telling you.  It means fully experiencing the delight of beautiful smells, delicious tastes, interesting sounds, and the pleasures of touch.

When you pay attention to your senses you can more easily make that transition from working woman/mother/daughter/crone to sensual and sexual wild woman.

We are quickening.
Oh, can you feel it? Can you feel what is about to be born? The eclipses of this month have birthed us into the light. It is time to call our sisters to us. We must gather now. We must draw each other near. We all need midwives. We all need doulas.

We all need the songs of angels and the prayerful medicines of wise women in our midst. We are birthing a new world.

A sister circle is not a luxury. It is essential to our emotional and spiritual health.

Our culture pits women against each other because women of shared intent are dangerous to oppressive masculine systems. But we are wiser than that.

We know our own power, and when we create a circuit of energy with other loving and conscious women, we magnify the nurturing, the healing, the grace, the freedom, the creativity and the love our lives stand for.

Have you been yearning for a sister circle as much as I have?

If so, then I invite you to join one of the sister circles I’m offering. See the upcoming events below and make a commitment to join us. We welcome you in sisterhood.

In Her Name Circle (San Mateo, CA)

Hindu Shakta Tantra & Ancient Female Blood Mysteries
Featuring Kimberley Gibbons,

MA Women’s Spirituality, PhD student in Philosophy & Religion

 

Friday, August 25, 2017

7 to 9:00 PM

Unitarian Universalist of San Mateo, 300 E. Santa Inez, San Mateo, CA 94401

$15 online or $20 at the door

 

Circle with the Divine Feminine (Fair Oaks, CA)

Artemis: Patron Goddess of the Amazons

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

6:30 to 8:30 PM

 

Blossoming Path: 10227 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks Village, CA

$10 Love Donation

Adapted from an article by Rebelle Society: Creatively Maladjusted http://www.rebellesociety.com/2015/01/28/a-sister-circle-is-not-a-luxury-7-guidelines-for-starting-your-own/

 

“All Things Are Connected,” the concluding chapter to John Robbins’ Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987), begins with a quote from the famous mystic Edgar Cayce:

Destiny, or karma, depends upon what the soul has done about what it has become aware of.

John Robbins writes:

“At the present time, when most of us sit down to eat, we aren’t very aware of how our food choices affect the world.  We don’t realize that in every Big Mac there is a piece of the tropical rainforests, and with every billion burgers sold another hundred species become extinct.  We don’t realize that in the sizzle of our steaks there is the suffering of animals, the mining of our topsoil, the slashing of our forests, the harming of our economy, and the eroding of our health.  We don’t hear in the sizzle the cry of the hungry millions who might otherwise be fed.  We don’t see the toxic poisons (pesticides) accumulating in the food chains, poisoning our children and our earth for generations to come.

“But once we become aware of the impact of our food choices, we can never really forget.  Of course, we can push it all to the back of our minds, and we may need to do this, at times, to endure the enormity of what is involved.

“But the earth itself will remind us, as will our children, and the animals and the forests and the sky and the rivers, that we are part of this earth, and it is part of us.  All things are deeply connected, and so the choices we make in our daily lives have enormous influence, not only on our own health and vitality, but also on the lives of other beings, and indeed on the destiny of life on earth.

“Thankfully, we have cause to be grateful — what’s best for us personally is also best for other forms of life, and for the life support systems on which we all depend.

“The Indians who dwelt for countless centuries in what we now call the United States lived in harmony with the land and with nature.  Their societies were each unique, yet all were founded on a reverence for life that conserved nature rather than destroying it, and which lived in balance with what we today call the ecosystem.  To them, it was all the work of God.  Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every humming insect was holy.

“When the white man forced them to make the ultimate sacrifice and sell their land, the great Chief Seattle spoke for his people and asked one thing in return.  He did not ask something for himself, nor for his tribe, nor even for the Indian people.  There were, of course, many things of immense importance he must have wanted at such a time.  He could have asked for more blankets, horses, or food.  He could have asked that the ancestral burial grounds be respected.  He could have asked many things for himself or for his people.  But what stood above all else in importance had to do with the relationship between humans and other animals.  His one request was as prophetic as it was plain:

I will make one condition. The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man. All things are connected.

“Chief Seattle spoke for a people whose bond with the natural world was unimaginably profound.  Yet the white man called them savages, and utterly disregarded his plea. The factory farms that produce today’s meats, dairy products and eggs are living testimony to how totally we have disdained the one condition he made.

“The white man thought Chief Seattle an ignorant savage.  But he was a prophet whose wisdom and eloquence arose from living contact with Creation.  And his words are astoundingly similar to those of a book written long, long ago.  The Bible, too, tells us the fates of humans and animals are intimately intertwined.

“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth the beasts.
Even one thing befalleth them:
as the one dieth, so dieth the other;
yea they have all one breath,
so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.

—Ecclesiastes 3:19

“Chief Seattle did not know that centuries before a book called the Bible had spoken in words almost identical to his own.  But he spoke on behalf of life itself, and the wisdom of the ages poured through him.  Today, when we have strayed so very far from an ethical relationship to other creatures and to the welfare of the world we share, his message remains with us as a light of immeasurable brilliance.  Never before has the truth of his words been so apparent:

“One thing we know;
Our God is the same,
This earth is precious to Him…
This we know:
The earth does not belong to man:
Man belongs to the earth.
This we know:
All things are connected
Like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth
Befalls the sons of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life.
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does to himself.”

http://www.all-creatures.org/murti/art-web-of-life.html

Disrespect for the earth and her cycles, ignorance and/or disregard of the dangers of polluting her land, atmosphere and waters that leads to environmental devastation ranks right up there with war. Both have a devastating effect on our planet, and thus humanity itself. There is a growing need to re-sanctify the web of life and the interconnectedness of all things. Sadly, many believe we are already running out of time.

If you are concerned about the fate of our Mother, the Earth, and live in the Sacramento Area, then join us for:

Grandmother Spider and Other Ancestral Native American Mother Archetypes
Presented by Circle with the Divine Feminine
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
6:30 to 8:30 PM
Blossoming Paths, 10227 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks Village, CA

For more info contact Blossoming Path at 916-962-1469
Or Joy at 415-819-8769 or email joy@joyreichard.com

Grandmother Spider, or Spider Woman, appears in the origin stories of many Native American groups. She is just one of many ancestral Native American mother archetypes that you will be introduced to during this presentation. Legends and stories were important in Native American cultures because they helped Native American adapt and connect deeply to both the natural and supernatural worlds.

Please join us next Wednesday, Aug 16, to learn about Grandmother Spider and other Native American Mother Archetypes, to discover the importance of having a deeper rapport with the Great Mother, the Earth, and to experience a meditation that will strengthen your connection to the Web of Life.

John Robbins is considered by many to be one of the most eloquent and powerful spokespersons in the world for a sane, ethical and sustainable future. He has been a featured and keynote speaker at major conferences sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Beyond War, Oxfam, the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, the United Nations Environmental Program, UNICEF, and many other organizations dedicated to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable way of life. https://www.johnrobbins.info/

 

 

Last week I mentioned that at one time my attitude was so toxic that it literally polluted my life. Fortunately I had an epiphany that enabled me to realize that I was the source of my own misery. I was able to change my attitude and thus my life. I was still going through a difficult time, but my change in attitude helped me find solutions and improve my situation almost miraculously.

If you are going through a tough time, remember that you always have a choice no matter what the circumstance may be. And the choice is this:

You can either choose to let worry and upset fester at the expense of your life and well-being. Or, you can choose to see your situation in perspective, stay positive, and let go of anxiety and apprehension.

Sounds good, but how do you withstand those huge waves of negativity, let alone stay positive under the weight of an overwhelming challenge? Last week I gave 5 tips to help shift your attitude. You can read those HERE. Here are 5 more suggestions to consider:

6. Get enough sleep. During a stressful time, you might be tempted to skip on sleep, either voluntarily or not. But in reality, plenty of good quality sleep during a stressful time is even more important that the time you will gain by skimping. Adequate sleep will help you remain energetic, clear-headed and focused so that you’re able to figure out your next steps. When tired you’re more easily irritated and impatient, and you’re more likely to make mistakes or use poor judgment.

7. Limit bad news intake. Being constantly fed with gloomy news is enough to make even a dog panic for no reason. Today’s TV news is full of doom and gloom. Somedays it’s a virtual reality show of misadventures. Though it may seem entertaining, it can also be depressing and erode your positive attitude. Keep bad news, especially TV news, to a minimum as much as you can.

8. Join forces with others. When bad things happen, it is easy to become close-minded. But chances are, you are not alone during difficult times. There are likely to be many people who feel the same way as you do even though they may not voice this out loud. For instance, if you are worried about job security, recruit the help of your boss by discussing the implications of the crisis on your job and what you can best do to keep it. Your boss will appreciate your proactive approach and may even be glad that there is someone who shares the same sentiment. If you are unemployed, besides making trips to recruitment and government agencies to cast your employment net, connect with others who are in the same boat as you. Take this lull period to expand your network. The many talented friends that you will make during hard times could become lifetime friendships, and even turn into unexpected help in the future. And if you are an employer, this is a great time to boost your business with skillful and experienced people to help you ride out the crisis.

9. Get close to nature. Finnish researchers found that spending time in your favorite outdoor area and woodlands are more relaxing and restorative than time spent in your favorite urban settings or city parks. Taking a meditative walk through the woods is also a great way to clear the mind and regain mental balance.

10. Re-evaluate the meaning of your life. Tough times present hard but valuable lessons that can force us to re-evaluate the meanings we have been attaching to our lives. When facing adversity ask yourself:

• Are the meanings and goals I’ve been living by before this difficult time really worthwhile?
• Through this challenge, what are the things that I’ve found to be really important?
• And, what are those things that are not as important as what I once thought they were?

I’ve been through my share of difficult times. None of them were any fun! Yet, when I look back at those times I realize that they have been the source of some of my greatest insights and biggest lessons. I do believe it is possible to learn our lessons through ease and grace, but until that time, I find that maintaining a positive attitude helps me to find solutions more easily so I can more consistently live a joyful life.

I would like to leave you with these words from Viktor Frankl, the world-renowned psychiatrist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Man is not free from conditions. But he is free to take a stand in regard to them. The conditions do not completely condition him. Within limits it is up to him whether or not he succumbs and surrenders to the conditions. He may as well rise above them and by so doing open up and enter the human dimension… Ultimately, man is not subject to the conditions that confront him; rather, these conditions are subject to his decision. Wittingly or unwittingly, he decides whether he will face up or give in, whether or not he will let himself be determined by the conditions.” 
— An excerpt from Psychotherapy and Existentialism

May your spirit grow stronger in the face of crisis!

If you are challenged with negative thinking, then contact Joy for a complimentary consultation to find out how your can reframe your thinking and live a more positive and happy life. Contact Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me today!

 

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing can make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person can make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.” – Ralph Marston

This quote hit a chord with me. At one time I was going through a tough time that mired me in negativity. I was so negative that I was literally toxic, polluting everything that I came in contact with. Then I had an awakening and realized that the negativity was not happening to me, but I was creating it. Making a decision to change my attitude and strive for a more positive attitude changed my life for the better.

If you are going through a tough time, remember that you always have a choice no matter what the circumstance may be. And the choice is this:

You can either choose to let worry and upset fester at the expense of your life and well-being. Or, you can choose to see your situation in perspective, stay positive, and let go of anxiety and apprehension.

Sounds good, but how do you withstand those huge waves of negativity, let alone stay positive under the weight of overwhelming challenges? Here are a few suggestions to consider:

  1. Quit being a victim. Unfortunately, it’s seems easier to assume the role of a victim during tough times rather than taking responsibilities for yourself. By doing so, however, you will only prolong your suffering, and you might even put off people who may be able to help you. Letting go of the victim label also frees you from resentment and bitterness which can squash the creative energies you need to get out of the mess.

 

  1. Take stock with meditation. Meditate on what really happened and your response to the crisis. Learn to see the situation for what it really is. Begin by practicing breathing meditation, and then ask yourself: Take time to also contemplate on the nature of any prior crises. This will help you realize that that each challenge has a distinct beginning and end, and may even exhibit a cyclical trend. This can take some of the sting out of your current crisis.

“What has really happened in spite of what has been reported? Are my fears and worries real or imaginary? If they are real, what can I do about them?”

Take time to also contemplate on the nature of any prior crises. This will help you realize that that each challenge has a distinct beginning and end, and may even exhibit a cyclical trend. This can take some of the sting out of your current crisis.

 

  1. Focus on the positives. No matter how dire a situation may be, there are always some positives you can find in it. It is our unwillingness to look for them that blinds us to the brighter sides. One of my friends, Aaron Parnell, always tries to see what good thing can come out of any challenge or crisis he has faced. And he’s always found something good. It’s helped him to stay positive during some difficult situations. I’ve started modeling this behavior in my own life which has resulted in my coming up with some amazing insights and an overall more positive frame of mind.

 

  1. Give thanks. As you learn how to seek out the positives in every situation, then you can give thanks for the current situation as well as the things that you already have. For one, things could be much worse! It’s not always easy to be thankful in the face of a serious challenge. But focusing on what you do have, however, instead of what you’ve lost, will put you in a better position to solve any immediate problem rather than wasting time wallowing in worry and self-pity.

 

  1. Reach out to others. Do you know of people who are suffering because of some crisis? Some may have lost their jobs; or have suffered huge loss; or have a serious illness, or have a loved one who is seriously ill; or maybe there was a death in the family. Talk to them, listen compassionately, and if it is within your ability and means, offer your help, however small your offer may be. Helping others who are less fortunate than you also helps you to put things in perspective. And who knows, they may be the ones who are able to lend you a helping hand when the tables are turned at some point in the future.

 

There is no denying it; we are going through some challenging times that are affecting many of us personally, nationally and globally. Some are finding it hard to stay positive and cope. Next week I will offer more tips for staying positive during tough times.

… Adapted from 10 Ways to Stay Positive During Tough Times from https://theconsciouslife.com/stay-positive-tough-times.htm

 

If you are challenged with negative thinking, then contact Joy for a complimentary consultation to find out how your can reframe your thinking and live a more positive and happy life. Contact Joy at 415-819-8769 or email her today!

Why do I have to work so hard for everything I get?

Better be on guard, for the next bad thing is sure to happen.

Why can’t I ever get ahead?

Do these kinds of thoughts weave their way through your mind? If so, are they even yours? Or are they stray thoughts picked up from the mass collective that pervade the space around us just like air molecules?

I am beginning to have some serious questions about the source of many of my negative thoughts. In reality I have a pretty good life. I am doing the work I love. I have clients who value my skills, knowledge and experience. I was able to get the education I wanted and benefit from that knowledge. I live in a beautiful place where I feel safe. I have great friends and communities. My family is doing well. I have financial resources that enable me to do the things I really want to do.

YET… I still fall into that victim negative thinking of not having enough, or being enough!

When I stop and count my blessings, I realize that I really have a lot. My gratitude list is quite long. Why, then, do I keep cycling into negative thinking?

I am beginning to realize that some of those thoughts just aren’t mine, even though they pervade my thinking and pull me down just as if they were mine.

Some of those thoughts I can trace back to my parents. Both grew up during the depression. My mother repeatedly told the story of having to give back all her Christmas gifts when she was four because her parents lost all their money when the stock market crashed. They couldn’t pay off their debts and everything had to go back, even her favorite new purse. My father grew up on the farm with an outhouse and no electricity. He worked hard on that farm even though he was just a child. Both my parents suffered from what I call “depression mentality.”

My parents probably had many legitimate reasons for harboring thoughts about life being hard, and money being hard to come by. This was their experience, and I honor their experience. But their experience is not my reality! I’m learning to recognize the limiting thoughts of my parents, to separate their thoughts from my thoughts, and to mentally “send them back” to my parents. I don’t have to continue carrying the burden of my parents’ experience!

If your parents have passed on their own limiting thoughts, then you can send them back also. We all have enough going on right now in the present. We don’t need to dredge up the past, especially if it’s a past that belonged to our parents.

Sometimes we create a contract with our parents promising to suffer from the same burdens they did. It’s time to tear up those contracts and send back, or delete them – each thought one by one.

As soon as you recognize a negative thought as belonging to your parent, or anyone else, mentally stop, gather it up, and send it back. You can imagine emailing it back through the ethers, or burning it in a transmuting violet flame, or you can even put it in a bottle and throw it into an imaginary sea. Simple visuals like these will help you contain those thoughts that piggyback onto yours and release them. This practice will help you make more room for your own thoughts which are probably much more positive – much like my own present time thoughts are.

Our parents influence the development of our belief systems and how we operate in the world. Many times this is positive. Sometimes, however, we pick up some negative debris that we just need to purge. If you have trouble letting go of the experiences, thoughts and beliefs of your parents, or the mass consciousness in general, give me a call and come in for a complementary consultation. It is time to embrace the present and to be the master of your thoughts. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email joy@joyreichard.com.

When you’re in a high mood, the world seems to be a better place in general. Even though you may get a tear in your sleeve, spill your coffee, or have to deal with a noisy neighbor, when you’re happy these minor daily problems don’t really bother you. Conversely, when you’re feeling dejected or disappointed after some type of loss or breakup, each of life’s minor annoyances only adds to your pain. You find it difficult to look beyond what’s right in front of you and may even find yourself staring at the computer screen, watching the blinking cursor. New research is beginning to show how happiness isn’t just an emotional experience, but an emotion that can shape the way you perceive the world.

Your mood can impact your relationship
Your mood can also impact your relationship because it can augment or warp your good feelings towards your partner. When you’re in a high mood you tend to feel happier. Thus, your feelings toward your partner tend to be more positive. Any differences feel manageable, insignificant, or irrelevant. When in a low mood, however, these same differences can seem insurmountable, painful, and even deal breakers.

When your partner is in a low mood, you might think you have to understand why and fix it! In reality all you need to do is offer support when he or she is feeling low. This is largely because moods are constantly swinging back and forth as on a continuum. Moods are dynamic. They can change quickly, or slowly over time. That’s how moods work.

Your mood impacts your thoughts and feelings
When we’re in a low mood we tend to have negative, pessimistic, and even fearful thoughts that can lower our self-confidence and increase feelings of inadequacy. Conversely, when we are in a high mood we tend to have positive, confident, and even joyful thoughts. Low mood feelings can range from dread to relief. I.e. “I’m tired and I have to fix dinner tonight,” to “Great! He has to work late so I can go home and relax.” High mood feelings can range from contentment to euphoria. I. e. “It’ll be nice to relax with my husband tonight,” to “Yay! It’s Date Night!”

With all these thoughts and feelings fluctuating with your mood, your psychological functioning can also be impacted. When in a low mood your mental activity amps up as you start to ruminate about problems and your dissatisfaction with yourself, your partner, your job, or anything that’s irritating you. Sometimes there is a heightened but distorted sense of immediacy, as if whatever is bugging you has to be taken care of right now. It can’t wait!

It’s not the mood, but how you respond to it, that determines the quality of your life!
When low, you might feel distressed and succumb to the fear that the mood is real and will last forever. When high you might spend your time worrying about when “the other shoe will drop!” Or you can choose a more enlightened response and be grateful when mood is high while attempting to be graceful when it is low!

Mood Awareness
Paying attention to your mood will help you navigate through your mood shifts. To do this, start noticing how your perspective changes with each shift in your mood. Here are some examples:

  • Gloom and doom – Why is everyone always judging me?
  • All is not right with the world. – There are many villains out there.
  • I’m ok. Life’s okay – I feel content.
  • Gratitude – People are well meaning. They are trying to do the best they can.
  • Inspiration – I have more ideas than I can use.

Though none of us like being in a low mood, there are some benefits. Low moods tell us to slow down so we can be more reflective and recover our bearings. They teach us humility because they help us realize that we don’t know as much as we thought we did. Then, when the low mood ends, we realize how we’ve blown our thoughts and fears way out of proportion. It helps us maintain a better perspective for when we suffer another low mood.

When in a low mood – chill out!
When you notice you are in a low mood, acknowledge it. Then chill out! Your mood colors your perception of reality and can make things go south quickly. If you feel grumpy and irritable, try to keep to yourself until your mood shifts, for it will shift. During a low mood don’t become involved in any deep discussions, make any criticisms or judgments, or attempt to make any big decisions, especially with your partner. A low mood will contaminate your thinking and will increase your chances in getting into unproductive and damaging arguments.

How can you tell when you’re in a low mood?
Pay attention to how you’re feeling and to the quality of your thoughts. When you have painful feelings and your thoughts are full of shame, guilt, regrets, insecurities, and negativity, then you can be certain that you are in a low mood. Your thinking is contaminated. When you have feelings of well-being and your thoughts are confident and positive, then you’re in a high mood and your thinking is more trustworthy.

What if my partner is in a low mood?
When your partner is in a low mood, don’t criticize or judge them! Or try to fix them! Just let them work through their mood on their own. It will eventually shift. Don’t take what they say or do too personally as their perception is temporarily warped by their mood.

If they are verbally abusive or disrespectful, wait until their mood has shifted to address it. Before doing so refer to my blog on Compassionate Communication for directions on how to communicate your feelings and needs in a compassionate way. Resist temptation to fight with your partner during a low mood, or to resign yourself to being treated poorly.

Remember, moods can shift from moment to moment. Be patient and considerate, allow your partner to take care of themselves, stay focused on taking care of yourself, and allow the low mood to shift of its own accord. This will help you maintain a healthier relationship.

If you are having challenges in your relationship and would like some guidance on how to be a healthier partner with better communication skills, then contact Joy for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!