Posts

What If Every Day Were Thanksgiving?

Holidays help us focus. In our busy and distracted lives we stop and notice something – mothers, fathers, religious events, new years and a day to be grateful.

It seems ironic that we would have “a” day to be grateful. Science and religion agree that being grateful does amazing things to our bodies, minds, communities and our world. So I ask the question, what if every day were thanksgiving – having a focus on being grateful for whatever it is we see and choose to be grateful for?

So, if every day were a day of thanksgiving,

  • How would your relationships, your work and your life be different?
  • How would our world and our connections with other countries, cultures and peoples be different?
  • How would you look past the disappointments and focus on the blessings?
  • How would you inspire others to see and live what is best in them?

We learn from holidays that we need to stop things for a moment to focus on something or someone important. The goal is not to stop, remember, celebrate – then move on. Rather, the stop, remember and celebrate is to change us from the inside out – to create a new awareness that then helps us be more present, more loving and better in our next moments. Holidays are teachers – they help us learn important lessons that are to guide and support us through life. We lose the lesson if we focus on the turkey for Thanksgiving, the presents for Christmas or Chanukah,  the candy for Easter, the gifts for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days. The lesson in each of these relates to an inner value that is important to learn to make our lives better, stronger and happier.

As we look over the gift of food on Thanksgiving, may it help us remember that for all that we have, there are others that don’t – here and across the world. How can we become more compassionate, more generous and kinder?

As we look at our families that sometimes drive us crazy and don’t always agree – how can we see unique individuals all finding their way in our world. How can we be patient, empathetic and supportive?

As we see the manic rush to get into Christmas shopping that encourages us to almost lose Thanksgiving – can we commit to being more fully present in this moment – appreciating it, soaking it up and holding it dearly before we push past it for the next distracting moment? How can we be present, patient and relaxed fully engaged in what we are doing?

Holidays can make us run faster – our big to-do lists of all the things we “need” to do to have a perfect day. They make us run faster until we see that their real message is to actually to get us to slow down, focus on the people and reasons for the holiday, and be really connected to this very moment. What does it give you? What does it teach you? How does it help to add yet one more great thing to your life?

How do you want your holidays to change – to improve – you? Let their message speak to you and carry its lessons forward to every day. If every day were Thanksgiving we would truly live in a kinder, more compassionate and more generous world. Let’s bring that lesson forward.

You Made a Mistake – Use It To Be Wiser and Smarter

Things happen. You make a mistake. We all do. “Success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal,” says Don Shula. Perfection isn’t in our makeup – that’s okay. We all are members in the Oops! Club.

When we talk about being ready for life, many people think this means that we always get things right. We choose wisely. Things work out well.

We know life isn’t like that. We aren’t like that and that is actually the key to our greatness. To be ready for life means we know things will break down, fall apart, melt down and just not work, but our growth and development happens in the learning in those moments. We gather information about how to be better the next time.

Life is done by trial-and-error

I like to tell my audiences that we weren’t born with an owner’s manual – a guidebook that tells us who we are, what we should do and how we should live. Instead, we get the gift of each moment in life as the means to gather information – a kind of trial and error process – to see what does and doesn’t work. Each day, we show up and learn more about ourselves. Each day, we gather more information to determine what we rock at and what we stink at – so we can consider better ideas and options, then to choose those that make the most sense for who we are. In other words, do more of what you rock at and less of what you stink at.

In this process, we sometimes get it right – Woohoo! Celebrate! Sometimes we get it wrong – Woohoo! Celebrate! It is in the mistakes and failures that we actually learn more about ourselves – we gather more information that can help us better understand how to make our next moments better.

A mistake can be a tool of greatness

Maybe that seems like this statement is at odds with itself but it really isn’t. Greatness isn’t a location or an end. It is a mindset and an attitude – a commitment to discover and become one’s best. And because our road to being our best selves isn’t clearly defined, we stumble our way along. Mistakes guide us if we let them.

So, how do we get better at accepting our membership in the Oops! Club?

  • Learn to laugh more. We sometimes think everything matters. That is just a story we tell ourselves. Actually, we decide of what happens, what matters. Sure there are some serious situations in life, but most of the situations that we label as serious just aren’t. We could see them as the way life is and get better at laughing them off.
  • Learn to tune in more. Life is loaded with information, most of which we miss because we don’t tune into our lives. We are so distracted by all of the noise, lights and yack around us that we don’t pay attention to the things in our life. Tune in means noticing your thoughts, feelings and actions and what motivates them. Make time. Turn the electronics off. Close your eyes. Be still. This is how to connect to your information source.
  • Learn to cut others more slack. If we were able to allow others to be more human (because we all make mistakes), perhaps we could allow ourselves to be more human. Cut yourself some slack when things don’t go as planned. Oops. instead, just ask yourself this question: What can I do better next time?

Welcome to the Oops! Club. I am a long-time and proud card-carrying member. This club encourages learning, growing and changing. I like who I become by being part of this club – life grows deeper, stronger and bolder. This is how we access our greatness and learn how to be ready for life. Carry your membership card proudly.

 

Self-Compassion Is The Key To Better Parenting, with Bartja Wachtel – RFL036

Self-Compassion Is The Key To Better Parenting – Episode Overview

Some parents think you have to be tough with kids – to let them know what the real world is like. Other parents over-parent – doing their kids’ work and thinking for them. Both are extremes. So, where is the middle ground? Well, the middle ground is compassionate parenting. When we are too hard or to soft as a parent, we hurt ourselves and our kids. But self-compassion and compassion for your kids – because you see yourself and them as works-in-process – can help you limit the inner critic and relax into being your best self and therefore becoming the best version of a parent that you can be.

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on becoming more present and happier in our lives as parents. My intention is to show that learning how to be more self-compassionate is the antidote to our critical voice and defensive world, and is the key to better parenting.

Meet our guest Bartja Wachtel

Bartja Wachtel On The Key To Better ParentingBartja Wachtel is a clinical social worker and mindfulness educator who is actively working for his vision of a world of inclusion, mindfulness and wellbeing for all diversities of spirit and body. In addition to his private practice, he currently works at the Virginia Mason Medical Center Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, WA, proving caregiver support, as well as facilitating seminars and workshops on Mindfulness and Well-Being Theory.

Take A Brief Self-Compassion Test (by Kristin Neff)

Test how self-compassionate you are

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. Our world constantly sends us information. Based on our internal programming and our brain’s commitment to help us stay safe, we are generally activating our internal threat defense system. We are watching our world for the physical or emotional threats that result in our fight, flight or freeze responses.
  2. The threat defense system activates adrenalin – our system’s ability to defend or protect ourselves. The challenge in today’s world is that we are stuck in this threat defense mindset; the result of living this way is we breakdown physically (we get sick) and emotionally.
  3. Self-criticism is one of the ways we activate our threat defense system. Our internal critic creates internal threats for us – we are both the predator and the victim – and we respond by fight, flight or freeze. The more we do this, the more wiped out we feel and become. This is who we are as people and parents.
  4. We model this inner critic and threat defense system behavior for our kids – how we treat ourselves influences how our kids start to treat themselves.
  5. Self-compassion is the antidote to the threat defense system. This is innate to us but we don’t nurture it. Society encourages us to nurture and support our threat defense system more than to nurture our self-compassion and compassion for others. Noticing its benefits and taht we can do it is the first step.
  6. Compassion or self-compassion starts first with a focus on the good and the positive in each situation and then encourages showing up with tenderness and love to whatever shows up. We have to tune in to our kids (or to ourselves) to see what they(we) are feeling. We have mirror neurons that help us feel what others are feeling. This creates empathy. To move from empathy to compassion requires a loving response – loving connected presence. The movement to compassion is good for both our kids and for us.
  7. Self-compassion sometimes makes us think we look weak as we focus on ourselves and tenderly and lovingly attend to others. In fact, this approach is a point of strength – of intentionally overriding the threat defense system and using a more developed response – one more capable of enhancing connection, relationships and a greater sense of self.
  8. Self-compassion practices are designed to help you understand that you don’t need to change the situation, you change your relationship or response to the situation. We now become more open, loving and kind in all of our responses, eliminating some of the default fight, flight or freeze responses.
  9. Three self-compassion practices to help you shift to being more self-compassionate, resulting in better parenting and greater compassion for those around you.
    1. Warmth – physical or emotional – wrap in a blanket, say kind things, read a poem, look lovingly at a picture
    2. Soothing touch – put your hand on your arm, heart, cross your arms as in a self-hug
    3. Gentle vocalizations – kind words, soft volume

Combine these and use them when you need to be more self-compassionate – and use them with your kids when they need you to tune in differently to a particular situation. Remember, it’s not about the situation, compassion is about your response to it.

Some question for parents:

  1. What is your self-talk like? Is it critical and judgmental or are your compassionate with yourself?
  2. What is your talk like with your kids? Is it critical and judgmental or are you compassionate because you see your kids as a work-in-process?
  3. What ways to do you notice when you are harsh or unkind with yourself?
  4. What do you regularly do to be self-compassionate – and how do you notice how life changes when you are more self-compassionate?

Tweet this:

Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1.    Stop and Notice your inner critic. What does it say and how often does it talk to you?
  2.    Stop and Notice how you feel after hearing from or dealing with your inner critic. How can you see this a perfect moment for self-compassion to help you see your worth and to get you out of your threat defense system?
  3.    Stop and Notice when you are in fight, flight or freeze mode. What got you there? How often each day are you in this space?
  4.    Stop and Notice how your inner critic and threat defense system is influencing your relationship with your kids. How will you intentionally create greater self-compassion practices to be more available and connected to your kids?

Our brains want to keep us safe. This makes us nervous and concerned – which is supported by our 24-hour news cycle. Couple this with our inner critical voice and we are always in our fight, flight or freeze response. Becoming more compassionate is the antidote to this behavior. Using self-compassion practices can help us relax into life and be more present and supportive as parents.

Suggested Resource:

Mindfulness For Beginners – by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness For Beginners Resource From The Key To Better Parenting EpisodeWe may long for wholeness, suggests Jon Kabat-Zinn, but the truth is that it is already here and already ours. The practice of mindfulness holds the possibility of not just a fleeting sense of contentment, but a true embracing of a deeper unity that envelops and permeates our lives. With Mindfulness for Beginners you are invited to learn how to transform your relationship to the way you think, feel, love, work, and play—and thereby awaken to and embody more completely who you really are.

Here, the teacher, scientist, and clinician who first demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness within mainstream Western medicine offers a book that you can use in three unique ways: as a collection of reflections and practices to be opened and explored at random; as an illuminating and engaging start-to-finish read; or as an unfolding “lesson- a-day” primer on mindfulness practice.

Beginning and advanced meditators alike will discover in these pages a valuable distillation of the key attitudes and essential practices that Jon Kabat-Zinn has found most useful with his students, including:

  • Why heartfulness is synonymous with true mindfulness
  • The value of coming back to our bodies and to our senses over and over again
  • How our thoughts “self-liberate” when touched by awareness
  • Moving beyond our “story” into direct experience
  • Stabilizing our attention and presence amidst daily activities
  • The three poisons that cause suffering—and their antidotes
  • How mindfulness heals, even after the fact
  • Reclaiming our wholeness, and more

The prescription for living a more mindful life seems simple enough: return your awareness again and again to whatever is going on. But if you’ve tried it, you know that here is where all the questions and challenges really begin. Mindfulness for Beginners provides welcome answers, insights, and instruction to help us make that shift, moment by moment, into a more spacious, clear, reliable, and loving connection with ourselves and the world.

Includes a complete CD with five guided mindfulness meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn, selected from the audio program that inspired this book.

 

How to A Mindful and Modern Dad with Dr Josh Misner, RFL018

Mindfulness expert Dr Josh Misner joins Jay to share how dad’s roles are changing and how to have the courage to be a modern dad – one who is mindful and chooses how he wants to show up as a dad to each of his kids. The same wisdom applies for moms.

How To Be A Mindful and Modern Dad – Episode Overview

Do you think a dad is supposed to be the tough guy – the John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis type of hero that can battle with the toughest of foes, to be a hero to their kids?

What plays in your head at any moment is a voice of how to act as a dad. This voice may sound like your parents, your teachers, the news, a grandparent or even a neighbor. Those little voices come in and dictate how to be a dad. Well, maybe at the time you heard them they were useful, but how some of what you know about being a dad is now outdated. To be a modern dad means first means you are mindful – present, aware and tuned in. When you stop and notice, you tune in to new information that helps you determine as a dad (as a parent) what to do next that will help inspire happy, successful and responsible kids. This makes you open to whatever you need to do instead of following your default behaviors or the stories about what dads do that play in your head. This is what makes you a modern dad – one committed to showing up strong and right for the immediate situation – and in a way that makes sense for your kid, not concerned about what others may say about you. This is the definition of a modern dad.

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on dads. My intention is to help them realize that their roles are changing – and you control this change; you have the ability to define how you want to parent.

Meet our Guest Dr Josh Misner

Josh Misner being a modern dad photoDr Josh Misner is an award-winning communication and leadership professor and mindfulness researcher. His research focuses on the impact of mindful presence, or paying careful attention on purpose, particularly with respect to fathers and their families. A husband and active father of four, Josh teaches methods to savor each and every moment with the intention of playing an active role in children’s memories tomorrow. He founded the Mindful Dad Project, a collaborative community effort aimed at reconnecting fathers who desire a deeper connection with their children. Find out more at Mindfuldad.org.

Guest Links:

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. As dads, we have a lot of expectations of how to be with our kids – they come from our history and many of these expectations do not help us in today’s parenting.
  2. A modern dad is simply a dad that is present enough in the moment to see what his kids need, and courageous enough to deliver what works best for the happiness of his kids, without considering what the conventional wisdom of “what dads do.” See the article, “On Being A Man.”
  3. Conventional dad behaviors are those we heard and saw from our parents. They were parents in different times. Their guidance and focus may not be useful today, to your kids. Be open to changing whatever needs changing to be the dad your kids need.
  4. Modern dads challenge the status quo. They are more concerned about doing the right thing for their kids than looking good for others. They disregard the question, “what does a real dad do?” They know that a great dad is the one who tunes in, pays attention and cares enough to show up to his kids in the way they need him – stern, tender, guiding, listening – whatever will matter most. See my article “The Softer Side of Dads.”
  5. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. It requires us to be in control of ourselves enough to look at the moments and events of life as information (not judgmentally). From this place, a saner, calmer and more thoughtful dad (and mom) can consider and then choose how to respond.
  6. Mindfulness prepares dads to shift from reacting (going with our autopilot behaviors) to responding (we approach our actions with attention and intention).

Questions for Parents:

  1. What behaviors do you have with your kids that are not that productive – that come from what conventional dad behaviors tell you – but you do them any way? Which ones will you start to change?
  2. How can you develop the courage to be the dad you want to be without caring what others say? How will this help your kids learn confidence?
  3. How would you define being a modern dad for you? Moms, how can you help dads be confident in developing their own definition of what it means to be a dad today?
  4. What can you do to show up more present and aware to what is going on with your kids to determine what to consider and ultimately choose to be a great parent?
  5. How can you become less judgmental with your kids – and see what they do as information – then use it to sanely, wisely decide what to do next?

Tweet this:

Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1. Stop and Notice you as you parent. What is effective, what is ineffective?
  2. Stop and Notice how your kids respond to your parenting? Does it connect with them and help the to be accountable, responsible and happy?
  3. Stop and Notice what you think it means to be a dad. How will you write your own definition and not be quick to take on the definition of others?
  4. Stop and Notice when you are not listening or not paying attention to your kids. What is stopping you? What information are you missing? How could being more aware improve your relationship with your kids?
  5. Stop and Notice how you and wife/partner parent. How do you support each other to be your unique and your best selves, not stuck in some other definition of what it means to be a mom or a dad?

Parenting is tough. The best parenting comes when we show up mindful, present and tuned in to our kids, non-judgmentally, so we can then assess and decide how we want to show up in this moment. This changes everything about parenting.

Suggested Resource

Mindfulness For Beginners – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness for BeginnersThe practice of mindfulness holds the possibility of not just a fleeting sense of contentment, but a true embracing of a deeper unity that envelops and permeates our lives. With Mindfulness for Beginners you are invited to learn how to transform your relationship to the way you think, feel, love, work, and play-and thereby awaken to and embody more completely who you really are.

Here, the teacher, scientist, and clinician who first demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness within mainstream Western medicine offers a book that you can use in three unique ways: as a collection of reflections and practices to be opened and explored at random; as an illuminating and engaging start-to-finish read; or as an unfolding “lesson- a-day” primer on mindfulness practice.

Beginning and advanced meditators alike will discover in these pages a valuable distillation of the key attitudes and essential practices that Jon Kabat-Zinn has found most useful with his students, including:

  • Why heartfulness is synonymous with true mindfulness
  • The value of coming back to our bodies and to our senses over and over again
  • How our thoughts “self-liberate” when touched by awareness
  • Moving beyond our “story” into direct experience
  • Stabilizing our attention and presence amidst daily activities
  • The three poisons that cause suffering-and their antidotes
  • How mindfulness heals, even after the fact
  • Reclaiming our wholeness, and more

The prescription for living a more mindful life seems simple enough: return your awareness again and again to whatever is going on. But if you’ve tried it, you know that here is where all the questions and challenges really begin.

This resource includes a complete CD with five guided mindfulness meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn, selected from the audio program that inspired this book.