"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."
- Samuel Johnson
One of my friends sent me this lovely quote. It reminded me of the many risks and obstacles we face in life. We often are paralyzed to take the actions to make our lives more fulfilling, energized and joyful. Many of us are scared about the future and the word “change”. If we want to reduce the impact of negative stress in our lives, we have to be aware of how much we tend to take things personally that actually are not personal. We rush through life, meeting deadlines and missing out the fun aspects of our life, our loving relationships and the beauty around us. We literally shape our brain to run in this treadmill of more stress, anxiety and unhappiness.
Our brain is plastic – that means both the function and its structure can be changed quickly and permanently to become positive and joyful. Even a simple act of spending a few minutes with our loved ones, indulging in our favorite art activity or thinking of our last vacation has the ability to energize and relax us. We often wallow in self-pity and self-doubt and don’t fully realize our strengths and our inner resilient nature - having the capacity to bounce back when things go wrong, and ability to enjoy life even when we have pain, stress and challenges.
Science has shown us that these practices can shape our brain and enhance our well-being. Make time for these three important activities on a daily and weekly basis. These practices are as important as healthy eating and hydration in managing stress and building your resilience over time!
My friend Vicki created the beautiful CORE graphic for us! The acronym CORE serves as a reminder of the components of Resilience:
C – 5 Cs - Compassion, Courage, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking
O – Optimism and Hope
R – Resilience
E - Energy - healthy eating, meditation and physical activity
R J Davidson, B S McEwen, Social influences on neuroplasticity: Stress and interventions to promote well-being Nat Neurosci. Apr 15, 2012; 15(5): 689–695.doi: 10.1038/nn.3093
Steve Paulson, Richard Davidson, Amishi Jha and Jon Kabat-Zinn Becoming conscious: the science of mindfulness, doi: 10.1111/nyas.12203 Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1303 (2013) 87–104
“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.”
—John Wooden, one of the most successful coaches in the history of college basketball”
Each week, you mark the calendar at least 5 times a week, give yourself a reward.
Examples of non-food rewards – get a hug from your loved one, indulge in FB time, and watch a funny video, read a novel . . .
Be aware of the positive changes (however small) in your life as a result of this regular practice – calmer, happier and less stressed and acknowledge your efforts!
If you try other contemplative practices such as walking meditation, bible study, yoga or Tai Chi, mark the calendar!
Research shows that you are more likely to get a powerful positive habit in your life when you do it consistently and, in small steps rather than large chunks infrequently!
May I be happy and peaceful
May I be free from fear and suffering
May I live with love and compassion
May I fully awaken and be free
(You can repeat the phrases above with a blessing to people around you – May you be happy and peaceful...)
Maurer, Robert (2004): One small step can change your life : the kazen way, Workman
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.