Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

a visual guide to happiness and others…love this!

In General Psychology, Happiness, Mindfulness on Saturday, 30 March 2013 at 04:25



22 Things Happy People Do Differently

In Fitness/Health, Happiness, Meditation on Saturday, 23 March 2013 at 15:58

22 Things Happy People Do Differently.

Consequential Growth

In Fitness/Health, General Psychology, Happiness, Mindfulness, Well-being on Thursday, 14 February 2013 at 11:12

Consequential Growth

By: Timothy J. Wachtel

Written for the Texas Association for Adult Development & Aging

I’m older now. A little more pale, a little more frail, but I got my wits. The ebbs and flows of life have taken their course and have strewn me all over the place. It didn’t seem fair then and it doesn’t seem fair now. What do I have to show for it? I still try to keep my head held high and I smile a lot. Boy, life sure has a way of serving up its fair share of bumps and bruises . . . kinda glad in a way.


Have you ever found yourself in this reflective space? Have you ever not found yourself in this place? I think that everyone can agree that any individual who reaches the midpoint of adulthood and beyond is never immune to the trials and tribulations of life. It comes with the travel package. There always tend to be those pinnacle times of life; the times where the emotions get bruised, the spirit gets suffocated, the isolation looms large, the mind runs wild, and the rug from underneath you is no longer there. These life events and novel experiences come in many forms, as you very well know. Divorce, death of a family member, religious conversion, relocation, job transfer, job loss, injury or disease, natural disasters, kids move out, spouse goes off to war, traumatic stress, conflict; the list seems forever endless.

Is there a silver lining to all of this? I believe the answer is emphatically YES! We oftentimes don’t realize the goodness in these types of life events while we’re a part of the process. And it is a process; these situations, events, and experiences have a necessary starting point and oftentimes tend to be phases or stages throughout the process. Some people reach the productive end to the process, while others don’t quite reach the same successful terminal point. Today, science is doing more than ever before to inform us of these types of processes. More and more research is demonstrating evidence of the fact that many of these types of inexplicable occurrences in life result in very positive outcomes.

Research has found that individuals going through “troubled waters” over the course of a significant period of their lives tend to develop a greater sense of altruism and resilience, many experience more satisfaction or well-being in their life, and still others are finally able to come to terms with the meaning of their life. Scientists and practitioners use a battery of different terms to identify some of these events, some of which include: critical life eventsposttraumatic growthstress-related growthspiritual emergencytransformational crisisposttraumatic positive adjustmentgrowth through adversity, and the positive outcomes of one’s battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I recently came up with a term that I believe helps to encapsulate the upsides to many of the downsides of life. “Consequential Growth” is the term I use to describe the results of these processes. Consequential Growth seems to semantically emphasize the necessary consequences we oftentimes experience throughout the growth process. The term broadly identifies the “dark nights” and the cognitive, spiritual, and emotional hardships we face during these times of duress.

Many books have been written on the positive results of these types of experiences in one’s life. Notably, the individual and collective works of Calhoun, Tedeschi, and Joseph talk much to these processes; especially in terms of Posttraumatic Growth. Moreover, many naturalistic and experimental research studies have found conclusive evidence of consequential growth. They inform us that those who are able to grow through their perceived negative experiences oftentimes maintain a more positive orientation toward life, are generally more optimistic, and tap into healthy coping strategies to get through the hardship(s). These individuals often have strong social circles and are seen by others as stronger and wiser as a result of going throughthe consequential growth process, even though they never signed-up for the turbulence.

The aging process is indeed complex. Life situations can catapult us right off our comfortable life. This is the stuff of character, wisdom, virtue, transformation, transcendence, higher consciousness, emotional resiliency, generativity and care for your fellow human beings. I wish you well on your next tumble.


Tedeschi, Richard G.; Lawrence G. Calhoun (1995). Trauma and Transformation: Growing in the Aftermath of Suffering. SAGE Publications, Inc.
Joseph, Stephen (2011). What Doesn’t Kill Us: The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth. Basic Books
Timothy “Tim” J. Wachtel

Executive Director

The Center for Optimal Adult Development


Retrieved from: http://www.optimaladult.org/index.cfm/knowledge-center/coad-news-notes/consequential-growth/


a girl and her puppy…

In Animal Rescue, Happiness, Humane Education, Life with dogs, Pets on Monday, 11 February 2013 at 04:50

animal rescue is important for so many reasons.  not only are you changing the life of the animal, but the life or lives of the  lucky ones to adopt that animal.  a great deal of research has been done on the multitude of benefits of companion animals (physiological, psychological, academic, etc…) and those who live with companion animals will forever be better for it.  the hours and hours spent taking care of a foster (or fosters), the money spent, the many baths, walks, lessons…all the things rescuers do with pleasure are even more worth it when you see something like the video below.

the story behind the video…riley came to volunteer with angels among us pet rescue (www.angelsrescue.org) and her mom is a good friend of the foster mom (me) to a litter of beagle/basset puppies, so she has known them since they were saved (there were six). riley’s mom fell in love with the one we called gretl. when riley came to volunteer, she IMMEDIATELY fell in love with gretl as well (like mother, like daughter). riley spent the adoption day with gretl and when she had to leave, cried and cried knowing that she would likely get adopted and riley would not see her again. in riley’s mind, she was the “best one” and riley could not imagine she would not be snatched up immediately! when she left, she got to the car and started to cry. riley said she was crying because she was sad about leaving her, but was happy for gretl because she would certainly find a home. little did riley know, plans were being made at that very moment that involved her and gretl. riley went home to her mom’s house that night and, unbeknownst to riley, her dad came to meet gretl and pick her up for a “sleepover” to make sure all was well with gretl and their dog without riley knowing in case it did not work out. it actually worked out better than could have been imagined and gretl and her “big brother” love each other. THIS is a video of riley getting to her dad’s house with NO IDEA what, or actually, who, would be there to greet her. what you see is pure joy and love and the reason i devote my life to animal rescue. rescue ONE until there are NONE.

Human Needs, Buddhist Psychology and Mindfulness

In Buddhist Thoughts, General Psychology, Happiness, Mindfulness on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 11:09

Human Needs, Buddhist Psychology and Mindfulness

Targeting mindfulness

Published on January 17, 2013 by Michael J. Formica, MS, MA, EdM in Enlightened Living

Buddhist psychology—and the Shankya yoga science from which it issues – describes seven psychological characteristics that inform our four life meta-categories (work, relationship, self and spirit) and also map directly to the various needs spectrums found in Western motivational psychology.

We can think of the life meta-categories of work, relationship, self and spirit as occurring in four quadrants. Within these quadrants are smaller categories, like job, love, sex, health, religion, etc., respectively. The way that each of us balances the four quadrants and their sub-categories creates a framework for our lives. To understand how and why we create that balance, we need to consider our underlying motivation.

Theories of human motivation abound. Most of us are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as well as Freud’s less rigidly presented spectrum of human needs. William McDougall, William James and Henry Murray have all contributed to this conversation, as has, more recently, Steven Reiss. In addition, Martin Seligman’s positive psychology would appear to be informed by Jung’s focus onspiritual fulfillment and Frankl’s will to meaning.

Whichever school of thought we subscribe to—whether the implied collection of needs suggested by Freud, the rigorous research of Reiss or the historically derived and empirically demonstrated strengths and virtues cited by Seligman—it is clear that human needs can be identified and that identification, allowing for some difference in perspective and labeling, is fairly consistent over time.

Buddhist psychology identifies seven psychological characteristics: life, order, wisdom, love, power, imagination, understanding and will. These were initially described in the Abhidharma, as well as the Rig Veda, and are remarkably similar to those found in the Western narrative compiled centuries later. Some map directly to the various Western systems and some more indirectly, but the relationship is consistently clear and reasonable.

If one were intent on drawing a direct line between the human needs spectrum described by Buddhist psychology and a Western counterpart, Seligman’s positive psychology would likely be the best choice. This is not so much because of any coincidence in the labeling scheme, but more because of the coincident perspective. Western psychology tends to issue from a place of damage and illness. Seligman’s work in positive psychology has been a relatively antithetical response to that position. Buddhist psychology would similarly have us start from a place of wholeness and perfection.

So, now we get to the question of mindfulness. What makes mindfulness a challenge is that there is no real starting point for witness consciousness, or the objective observation of the ‘Self’ by the ‘self’. That’s mainly because the self, or ego, interferes with that process by way of our assumptions, expectations and ideas about the way the world works. Applied mindfulness can be even more of a challenge because, once we get the meta-awareness of witness consciousness going, we need somewhere to point it and very often we don’t know where that is, exactly. So, we may be all “aware” and stuff, but often nothing really changes.

Now, getting back to needs, if we can gain an understanding of our needs and then unravel the dissonance around those needs we then have somewhere to point our mindfulness. The Reiss Motivational Profile, the Meyers-Briggs and the Enneagram are examples of tools that can help us to do this because they force us into a state of pseudo-witness consciousness by asking us to be objective observers of ourselves without (too much) interference from the ego.

For example—and we’ll use the Reiss Profile here because it is fairly clear and easy to follow—let’s say you’re experiencing feelings of an ongoing, non-clinical, free-floating, generalized anxiety. In layman’s terms, you’re freaking out a bit for no discernible reason.

You take the Reiss profile and discover (these are simplistic interpretations) you are Low Order (not much for structure), High Tranquility (don’t like chaos) and Low Vengeance (non-confrontational). You’re anxiety may well be, in part, derived from the fact that people who operate with little structure—don’t pick up after themselves, don’t pay bills on time, are tardy for work or social events–naturally invite both chaos and confrontation—messy house, late fees, irate bosses, coworkers, clients and friends.

An unaddressed dissonance around disparate needs creates psychic tension, which here we have labeled anxiety. If we want to backtrack into the Buddhist perspective, we could also say this dissonance is creating a disturbance in the muladhara and atala chakras and the manamaya kosha. This works because Western needs spectrums map quite easily to both the chakra and kosha systems found in the yoga Vedanta. But, I digress…

Without a direct perspective on your needs bias, you would likely point your mindfulness at the symptom (the anxiety)—and that can get a bit murky on both sides of the equation. With a more concrete notion of the source of the symptom, mindfulness techniques can be targeted. And that’s how we can loop back to witness consciousness.

Witness consciousness examines the state of the ‘self’ from the perspective of the ‘Self’. If we consider an understanding of our basic needs as a snapshot of the state of the ‘self’, then we have in hand the objective distance we need to effectively apply mindfulness where it is needed, rather than simply being generally—and likely less effectively—mindful.

© 2013 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

Retrieved from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/enlightened-living/201301/human-needs-buddhist-psychology-and-mindfulness


age really might be “just a number”

In Fitness/Health, Happiness, Well-being on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 09:30

You’re Only As Old As You Feel

By: Jennifer Warren

Nov. 20, 2012 — The old saying “You’re only as old as you feel” has new life, backed up by a new study.

Researchers found older people with positive views on aging were 44% more likely to recover fully after severe disability than those with negative views on aging.

People with positive attitudes about aging also had a slower decline in their ability to do daily tasks such as dressing and bathing.

“It may be something worth considering that might help people’s recovery,” says researcher Becca Levy, PhD, associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health.

Upside to a Positive Attitude

Until now, experts say, most of the research on attitudes about aging and health has looked at the health risks and losses linked to a negative outlook.

But this study suggests there may be tangible health benefits to having a more positive view about aging.

“It’s not just about reducing the losses associated with aging, but also about making gains in one’s health or disability status and regaining what might have been lost,” says Tara L. Stewart, PhD, assistant professor ofpsychology at Idaho State University.

“These people with positive stereotypes about aging experienced health gains and better recovery, not just a reduction of health losses,” Stewart says.

Views on Aging Affect Recovery

In the study, researchers periodically surveyed 598 people aged 70 or older about their views on aging over a period of about 11 years.

None were disabled when the study started, but later on, all of them had at least one month when they needed help with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, or walking. In some cases, their disability was severe; other cases were mild.

They were asked for the first five words or phrases that come to mind when they think of old people. The researchers rated their responses on a five-point scale as most positive, like “spry,” or most negative, like “decrepit.”

The results appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings were strongest for older people with the most severe types of disability.

They were 44% more likely to fully recover from severe disability than those with negative age stereotypes.

Also, older people with positive views on aging were more likely to progress from severe disability to mild disability or mild disability to no disability.

Older people with positive age stereotypes also had a slower rate of decline in their ability to perform daily activities as they got older.

Of course, many factors affect whether or to what extent a person recovers from disability. This study does not prove that a positive attitude about aging made a difference. But it showed the strongest relationship between age stereotypes and recovery was among those people with positive age stereotypes and the most severe type of disability.

Attitude and Aging

Positive views on aging may help people bounce back from disability and promote independent living in a variety of ways, the researchers say.

One of the biggest ways may be psychological. Stewart says a person’s attitudes about aging say a lot about how much they believe their health is under their own control.

For example, people who view seniors as spry rather than decrepit may be more likely to live a healthy lifestyle, keep up on their doctor appointments, and take their medicines as prescribed.

“Holding a negative stereotype about aging, like believing illness is caused by aging, would cause them to feel less in control and responsible for their health and lead to different sorts of strategies,” Stewart says.

Levy also says there may be a physiological side to it.

“People who have more positive age stereotypes tend to have the advantage in experiencing stress,” says Levy. “They tend to suffer from less cardiovascular stress.”

Researchers say the next step is to look at how people can upgrade their attitudes about aging.

“We need to emphasize some of the positive as we get older instead of focusing on the developmental losses that may happen with aging,” Stewart says.

Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20121120/old-as-you-feel?ecd_tw_112112-am_new_nofeelold

extend your life!

In Happiness, Mindfulness, Well-being on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 12:34


find your grit…

In Fitness/Health, Happiness, Inspiration, Mindfulness, Well-being on Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 16:55


What to knit your life with?

In Happiness, Mindfulness, Well-being on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 07:22

What to knit your life with?.

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