Living a Happy Emotional Life

We all live lives rich in relationships and punctuated with emotion. Lovers arrive, bringing gifts of passion and tenderness, and then exit, marking their passage with anger and sadness. Children flash into being, evoking previously unimaginable exhilaration and exhaustion. Friends and family members tread parallel paths, sharing our emotions, and then pass on, leaving grief and memories in their wake.

Across all our relationship experiences, what balances out our anger and grief is our joy. All human beings share the capacity to relish intense joy and the desire to maintain such happiness in an impermanent and ever-changing world. Also universal is the fact that our personal joy is determined by the quality of our interpersonal connections. When our relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and romantic partners are happy, we are happy, and when they’re not, we’re not.

Yet, joy doesn’t drop magically from the sky into our hearts and minds and stay there. We create joy – through every decision we make and every thought, word, and deed. When we manage our emotional experiences and communication poorly, the interpersonal sorrows we wreak on others reflect back on us in the form of personal unhappiness. When we steadfastly and skillfully manage our emotions, the positive relationship outcomes we create multiply, and with them, our happiness and the joy of those who surround us.

I encourage all of you to keep this thought in mind:

We create joy – through every decision we make and every thought, word, and deed.

Everyday Acts Of Courage

There is no small act of courage. You can’t compare the courage it takes to battle cancer with the courage it takes to become a doctor.
Both are very brave acts. You can’t compare the courage it takes to become an Olympian with the courage it takes to raise a physically or mentally challenged child.
Both are incredible feats. You can’t compare a firefighter who saves a life to an eight year old child who consistently stands up to a bully. Both acts are heroic.

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as brave people.  Yet that’s exactly who we are. If you reflect on your life, one decade at a time, and write down your bravery, I’m sure you’d be surprised.

I think every brave thing we do in life counts. It’s time we claim our bold and audacious selves.

It’s time to celebrate our fearlessness. As we do, we can begin to think of ourselves as bold people who are sometimes fearless instead of fear-filled people who try to be bold.

Everyday acts of courage to practice and celebrate:

  1. Apologize.

It takes courage to admit when you are wrong. It’s a bold act to admit when you make a mistake. Apologizing takes you out of your comfort zone and enhances your relationships. That’s big.

  1. Be yourself.

Don’t imitate anyone. Take off your mask. Allow yourself to become vulnerable. Share your flaws with others. See perfection in your imperfections. Who you are is a gift to the world.  Allow yourself to shine.

  1. Take responsibility.

You are where you are in life because of the choices you make. If you don’t like what you see, change it. One question I ask myself often is, “Is this the life I want to create?” If you don’t exercise, make a change. If you need to get out of debt, spend less. Responsibility brings freedom.

  1. Keep your commitments.

Write down everything you say you are going to do. Write down the promises you make to others. When you keep your promises, you build self-respect. Others respect you as well.

  1. Rock the boat.

Speak up. Make a difference. Share your feelings when you witness an injustice. Practice sharing your opinion. Don’t allow someone to take advantage of you. Learn to say, “no.” Refuse to hold back when your gut says to move forward.

  1. Let go of the past.

Stop wallowing over what could have been. Forgive yourself.  Forgive your parents. Forgive everyone. What happened is over unless you keep it alive by reliving it in your mind. When we know better, we do better. It takes courage to move on.

  1. Grow.

Learn something new. Step into the unknown. Change the way you do things. It doesn’t matter if you get it the first time. Try again. Give yourself permission to be a beginner. Seize the opportunity. Growth brings new opportunities.

  1. Listen.

Listen to people who disagree with you. Listen to family members who think you are wrong. Listen to the elderly person in the coffee shop. Listen when you only want to speak and give advice. Listen and thank the other person for sharing.

  1. Help others.

Help someone who doesn’t help you. Help others when you don’t have the time. Help someone who can’t pay you back. Help someone when you are the one needing help. Learn to be of service. That’s why we’re here.

  1. Love.

Turn the other cheek. Overlook annoyances. Be kind to each other. Be truthful. Accept differences. Love is a verb. Spend time together. Act like a loving person. You can love difficult people as well. Forgive them and wish them the best. Let them go with love.

  1. Practice gratitude. Count your blessings. Tell the people in your life “thank you.” Be grateful for the people you love and for the people who love you.
  2. Choose to be happy.

Make a decision that you will think happy thoughts, speak kind words, and spend time doing things that bring you joy. Have a good attitude. See the glass half full. Look at the bright side. Expect the best. Choose to focus on what’s good.

  1. Learn from your mistakes.

Reflect on what went wrong and what you could have done better. Look for your lesson. Choose to grow forward. Be gentle with yourself. Make a new plan. Try again. Refuse to give up.

  1. Relax.

In our intense and fast-paced world, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out or being left behind. You do too much, work too much and miss the joy of everyday living. It’s bold to step back, take a break and relax.

  1. Follow your dreams.

Take action daily toward your goals. Ask for help. Network. Research. Plan. Take more action. Adjust your plans as you go along. Be open to something even better. Never give up. Adjust. Push on.

  1. Enjoy the small things.

Take time to revel in a flower blooming, the taste of a glass of cold water, the different shades of green, a child’s smile or an elderly person’s worn hands. Enjoy the smell of clean clothes and the taste of a fresh slice of bread. Enjoy a brisk walk, a quiet morning, or a star filled night.

  1. Go the extra mile.

Allow someone to go in front of you in traffic or at the grocery store. Do more than what is required of you at work and at home. Hold a door open. Surprise someone. Don’t keep score. Leave a big tip and help someone believe the world is a generous place.

  1. Ask for help. When you are stuck, addicted or unhappy, seek professional help. Hire a coach, a therapist or join a support group. When you are overwhelmed at work, ask for assistance. When you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation.
  2. Put family and friends before stuff.If you value your loved ones, make them a priority in your life. Work less and play more. Laugh. Create traditions and rituals. Find hobbies and activities that everyone enjoys. Have fun. Experiences bring more meaning than needless shopping.
  3. Love Yourself. Accept your imperfections. Be your own best friend. Show yourself compassion, understanding and respect. This is the most courageous act of all.
From Theboldlife.com

Top 10 Happiest Songs (of all-time!)

After you look and/or listen to these songs, let us know what song(s) you would put on this list. Let me know if you agree/disagree, what song is missing that I didn’t put on the list. Have fun! And remember, don’t worry, be happy!!!

  1. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

  2. Ode to Joy – Ludwig Beethoven

  3. Happy – Pharrell Williams

  4. Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

  5. Happy Together – The Turtles

  6. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

  7. Shiny Happy People – R.E.M.

  8. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

  9. I’m a Believer – The Monkeys

  10. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves

Happiest Countries on Earth

What makes a country happy? The United Nations considers the answer with its annual World Happiness Report, ranking a total of 156 countries. Key ingredients for well-being include longer healthy years of life, more social support, trust in government, higher GDP per capita, and generosity.

This year’s list hosts the same top 10 countries as 2017, however some managed to jump the ranks while others fell. Most notably, Finland jumped from fourth place to first this year, snatching the title from Norway. Finland also has happiest immigrants, a new special focus of this year’s report.

While the experiences of tourists were not considered specifically, the report sets a standard for blissful places to visit. After all, aren’t smiles contagious?

After your done reading about these happy countries, please reply and let us know why your country is one of the happiest places to live. Also, for interactive fun you can click the link (Find out which country is for you). Scroll down my home page, and on the right-hand side you’ll see the link. Have fun!

Here are the happiest countries in the world and some of what makes them unique.

1)  Finland

Finland

How’s Life in Finland?

Finns take their soak time so seriously, there are an estimated two million saunas in the country with a population of 5.3 million. Finland also had the happiest immigrants, a special focus of this year’s report. Happiness or subjective well-being can be measured in terms of life satisfaction, the presence of positive experiences and feelings, and the absence of negative experiences and feelings. Such measures, while subjective, are a useful complement to objective data to compare the quality of life across countries.

Life satisfaction measures how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Finns on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5.

In general, Finland performs well across the different well-being dimensions relative to other OECD countries. Despite levels of household net adjusted disposable income and household net wealth that fall below the OECD average, Finland benefits from comparatively low levels of both job strain and labour market insecurity. Only around 4% of Finnish employees regularly work very long hours, approximately one-third of the OECD average level, but time off (i.e. time spent on leisure and personal care) is close to the average. Finland performs very well in terms of education and skills as well as social support: 95% of Finns report having friends or relatives whom they can count on in times of trouble, compared to the OECD average of 89%. Air and water quality are both areas of comparative strength, and in 2013, life satisfaction in Finland was among the highest in the OECD. However, housing affordability is below the OECD average, and despite having a comparatively high share of people who feel that they have a say in what the government does (47%, compared to 33% for the OECD on average), Finland has a mid-ranking level of voter turnout.

2)  Norway

Norway

How’s Life in Norway?

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Norwegians on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5. Norway is a premiere destination to view the dancing lights of the aurora borealis. In ancient times, people believed the glowing lights were sent from the gods.

Relative to other OECD countries, Norway performs very well across the OECD’s different well-being indicators and dimensions. Job strain and long-term unemployment are among the lowest in the OECD, while average earnings and the employment rate are in the top third of the OECD countries. Only around 3% of employees regularly worked long hours in 2016, well below the OECD average of 13%, and full-time employees report having more time off (i.e. time spent on leisure and personal care) than the OECD average. In 2015, the average household net adjusted disposable income was among the highest in the OECD, but household net wealth stood below the OECD average. Housing conditions and many dimensions of quality of life are good in Norway. For example, the homicide rate is very low, and almost 88% of Norwegians report that they feel safe walking alone at night, one of the highest shares in the OECD. Meanwhile, 49% of Norwegians feel that they have a say in what the government does, well above the OECD average of 33%.

3)  Denmark

Denmark

How’s Life in Denmark?

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Danes on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5. The city of Copenhagen was built for bicyclists. A third of Copenhageners commute to work daily on 217 miles (350 km) of paths and lanes that stretch across the city.

Relative to other OECD countries, Denmark generally performs very well across the different well-being dimensions. Although average household net adjusted disposable income is just below the OECD average, Denmark is among the top tier of OECD countries in terms of both earnings and the employment rate. Denmark also benefits from low levels of both labour market insecurity and job strain, and only 2% of employees regularly work very long hours, one of the lowest percentages in the OECD. Civic engagement and governance is also an area of comparative strength: Denmark has both a high voter turnout and a high share of people who feel they have a say in what the government does. Social support is also very high, with 95% of people reporting that they have friends or relatives whom they can count on in times of trouble, compared to the OECD average of 89%. However, housing affordability is an area of weakness: the average household in Denmark spends 24% of its disposable income on housing costs, well above the OECD average of 21%

4)  Iceland

Iceland

How’s Life in Iceland?

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Icelanders on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5. This country is known as “The Land of Fire and Ice” because of the glaciers and volcanoes that make up the landscape. Iceland’s Vatnajökull—Europe’s largest glacier—is a piece of ice the size of Puerto Rico.

In general, Iceland performs well across the different well-being dimensions relative to other OECD countries. 86% of the Icelandic population aged 15-64 was in employment in 2016, the largest share in the OECD, and average earnings are in the top tier of the OECD. Iceland is the OECD’s top performer in terms of environmental quality: air quality (measured as average exposure to PM2.5 air pollution) is the best in the OECD, and almost everybody in Iceland is satisfied with their local water quality. 98% of Icelanders report that they have friends or relatives whom they can count on in times of trouble, the highest share in the OECD. Personal security and life satisfaction are also areas of comparative strength. In terms of housing conditions, access to basic sanitation is high, but Icelanders spend a higher proportion of their disposable income on housing costs (24%) relative to the OECD average (21%), making housing affordability in Iceland a clear area of comparative weakness.

5)  Switzerland

Switzerland

How’s Life in Switzerland?

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Swiss people on average gave it a 7.5 grade, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5. According to the International Cocoa Organization, the Swiss eat an estimated 11 kg of chocolate a year.

On average, Switzerland performs well across the OECD’s headline well-being indicators relative to other OECD countries. Average household net adjusted disposable income, earnings and employment are among the highest in the OECD. Life expectancy at birth, at 83 years in 2015, was one of the highest in the OECD, while 80% of Swiss people perceived their health as “good” or “very good”, 11 percentage points above the OECD average. In terms of housing conditions and environmental quality, Switzerland’s performance is mixed. For example, while access to basic sanitation is good, housing affordability was low in 2015, and although 96% of Swiss people are satisfied with their local water quality, air quality (measured as the average concentration of PM2.5 in the air) is worse than the OECD average. Switzerland’s voter turnout for national parliamentary elections stood at only 49% in 2015, the lowest voter turnout in the OECD; this, however, does not take into account Switzerland’s highly participatory form of direct democracy.

6)  Netherlands

Netherlands

How’s Life in the Netherlands?

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Dutch people on average gave it a 7.4 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. Amsterdam actually has 1281 bridges, three times as many as Venice.

In general, the Netherlands performs well across the OECD’s headline well-being indicators relative to the other OECD countries. Household net wealth was about half of the OECD average level in 2015, but average earnings (around 53 000 USD in 2016) are nearly 20% higher than the OECD average. The Netherlands benefits from comparatively low levels of both labour market insecurity and job strain. In addition, less than 1% of employees regularly work very long hours, the lowest share in the OECD. However, the long-term unemployment rate in 2016 stood at 3%, above the OECD average of 2.3%. Housing conditions in the Netherlands are good, but air quality (assessed in terms of exposure to PM2.5 air pollution) is close to the OECD average. 77% of the adult working-age population have completed at least an upper secondary education, compared to the OECD average of 75%, and the literacy and numeracy skills of Dutch adults are among the highest in the OECD. Personal security is also good, and life satisfaction is just above the OECD average level.

7)  Canada

Canada

How’s Life in Canada?

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Canadians on average gave it a 7.3 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. Canada’s forest cover represents 30 percent of the world’s boreal forest and 10 percent of the world’s overall forest cover. Unsurprisingly, Canada’s air quality is among the best in the world.

Canada typically performs above the OECD average level across most of the different well-indicators shown below. It falls within the top tier of OECD countries on household net wealth, the employment rate is high (73% in 2016), the long-term unemployment rate is low (0.8% in 2016) and fewer than 4% of employees usually work 50 hours or more per week, less than a third of the OECD average rate. However, full-time employees on average reported having less time off (i.e. time spent on leisure and personal care) than those in most other OECD countries. Housing conditions are generally good, but housing affordability stood below the OECD average in 2016. The average Canadian enjoys relatively good air and water quality, and both feelings of security and life satisfaction are among the highest in the OECD area. A high share of Canadians also report good levels of perceived health, although these data are not directly comparable with those of the other OECD countries, due to a difference in the reporting scale.

8)  New Zealand

New Zealand

How’s Life in New Zealand?

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, New Zealanders on average gave it a 7.3 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. No part of this island nation is more than 128km from the sea. New Zealand is also home to unique penguin species, including the yellow-eyed penguin, the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin, and the little blue penguin—the world’s smallest.

On average, New Zealand performs well across the different well-being indicators and dimensions relative to other OECD countries. It has higher employment and lower long-term unemployment than the OECD average, and benefits from lower-than-average levels of labour market insecurity and job strain. Reported social support is also one of the highest in the OECD. While New Zealand’s environmental quality is high, its performance is mixed in terms of personal security and housing conditions. Although the homicide rate is low, only 65% of people in New Zealand say they feel safe walking alone at night, compared to an OECD average of 69%. While the average number of rooms per person in New Zealand’s homes is among the highest in the OECD, housing affordability is one of the worst. At 82 years, life expectancy at birth is 2 years above the OECD average. A high share of New Zealanders also report good levels of perceived health, although these data are not directly comparable with those of the other OECD countries, due to a difference in the reporting scale.

9)  Sweden

Sweden

How’s Life in Sweden?

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Swedes on average gave it a 7.3 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. In Sweden, the coffee break is sacred. Swedes carve out time each day to slow down and enjoy fika, a short beverage break that can be done solo or with company.

On average, Sweden performs very well across the different well-being dimensions relative to other OECD countries. In 2016, the employment rate was one of the highest in the OECD, and only 1% of employees in Sweden regularly worked very long hours, the second-lowest share in the OECD. However, the household net adjusted disposable income and earnings are just below the OECD average levels. In terms of education and skills, 83% of the adult working-age population have attained at least an upper secondary education, compared to the OECD average of 75%, while both adult skills and students’ cognitive skills also exceed the OECD average. Civic engagement and governance, assessed in terms of voter turnout and the percentage of adults who feel that they have a say in what the government does, are in the top third of the OECD. Sweden’s environmental quality and health status are also good, and life satisfaction was among the highest in the OECD in 2013

10)  Australia

Australia

How’s Life in Australia?

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Australians on average gave it a 7.3 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5. From the packed shores of Bondi Beach to the quiet hideaways along the Great Ocean Road, Australia has a whopping 10,685 beaches.

In general, Australia performs well across the different well-being dimensions relative to other OECD countries. Air quality is among the best in the OECD, and average household net adjusted disposable income and household net wealth were among the highest in the OECD in 2015 and 2014 respectively. Despite a good performance in jobs and earnings, Australia lies below the OECD average in terms of work-life balance: Australian full-time employees reported having 30 minutes less time off (i.e. time spent on leisure and personal care) than those in other OECD countries, and more than 13% of employees regularly worked 50 hours or more per week in 2016. In terms of personal security, despite the comparatively low homicide rate, only 64% of Australians felt safe walking alone at night, compared to the OECD average of 69% in the period 2014-16. A high share of Australians report good levels of perceived health, although these data are not directly comparable with those of the other OECD countries, due to a difference in the reporting scale.

Remember to tell us why your country is the happiest place on Earth!

Overcoming Depression by Zack Beauchamp

(courtesy of vox.com)

I don’t know what was going through Anthony Bourdain’s mind when he took his own life. But I remember what was going through mine when I wanted to end my life.

Depression, for me, wasn’t sadness. Sadness is a feeling, and my depression was the opposite of feeling — a numbness, a sense that all value in the world was snuffed out. In order to feel sad, you have to care about something: My depression annihilated the very idea of caring.

My friends and family didn’t really matter, said my depression. I would never find a partner, it whispered. Life was nothing but emptiness, and there was only one escape. I was 25 years old, a young man in the prime of his life, and utterly hopeless.

I’m 30 now. I survived — and, more than that, I’m happy. I’m getting married in October, I spend tons of time with my friends and family, and I’m thrilled with my career. The happiness my depression said was impossible is here, and it’s real.

My story isn’t everyone’s. I’m not a psychologist, and I can’t speak in universals about something as personal as depression. But what I can say is this: If you’re depressed, neither Bourdain’s fate nor Kate Spade’s has to be yours. You can get better.

Here’s how I did.

(video courtesy MSNBC) For me, the key was getting help.

I don’t know what was going through Anthony Bourdain’s mind when he took his own life. But I remember what was going through mine when I wanted to end my life.

Depression, for me, wasn’t sadness. Sadness is a feeling, and my depression was the opposite of feeling — a numbness, a sense that all value in the world was snuffed out. In order to feel sad, you have to care about something: My depression annihilated the very idea of caring.

My friends and family didn’t really matter, said my depression. I would never find a partner, it whispered. Life was nothing but emptiness, and there was only one escape. I was 25 years old, a young man in the prime of his life, and utterly hopeless.

I’m 30 now. I survived — and, more than that, I’m happy. I’m getting married in October, I spend tons of time with my friends and family, and I’m thrilled with my career. The happiness my depression said was impossible is here, and it’s real.

My story isn’t everyone’s. I’m not a psychologist, and I can’t speak in universals about something as personal as depression. But what I can say is this: If you’re depressed, neither Bourdain’s fate nor Kate Spade’s has to be yours. You can get better.

Here’s how I did it:

 

I got help

For a long time after my depression got truly threatening, I didn’t talk about it. I went about living my life, trying to distract myself from what was happening. For a time, this seemed like it was working: When I started at Vox, the validation of a career I loved kept the sense of pointlessness at bay.

But this was a Band-Aid. As my time at Vox progressed and the job became a normal part of my life, depression started creeping back in. The same old fatalism permeated my thoughts.

It’s easy to see depression as a product of bad things happening to you — you lose a loved one, for example, and it ruins you. That is how it works for many people. But for me, depression wasn’t situational and couldn’t be fixed by professional or personal successes.

It was a war, and I was losing. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015, more than a year after the dark time began, that things started to turn around. And I know exactly why: I stopped hiding the way I felt, and clued in people who loved me about what was going on.

One of the many lies depression tells you is that you should feel ashamed of being its victim. That if you tell the people around you that you’re suffering, they’ll judge you or they won’t care. The best thing you can do is keep them from worrying and put on a brave face. I was really good at this: People would always tell me how happy I seemed on the outside, how bubbly and friendly I was, even when on the inside, I knew I wasn’t.

There was only one person who figured out that something was wrong: my mother. When I would go over to my parents’ house for dinner, she would ask me what was wrong. I always made up an excuse. But one day, I finally stopped lying and told my family. They listened, and told me that they loved me, and that I could get help if I needed it.

There’s a Catch-22 with depression: The most generally effective treatments are medication and therapy, but it takes some work to get yourself an appointment with a doctor or therapist (assuming you even have access to affordable mental health care in the first place). If you have serious depression, though, you’re convinced that any work is hopeless — you won’t try to find a therapist because your depression is telling you it won’t help anyway. The best treatment is precluded by the disease.

My sister — and I’ll never be able to repay her for this — did the research for me. She found me a therapist and connected us via email. Having someone else do the simplest work, writing an email, broke the Catch-22. I went to my first appointment in July 2015.

You have to open up

Therapy isn’t a panacea. It doesn’t help everyone, and even many people who do benefit wouldn’t say their depression has been “cured.” But that wasn’t the point for me. What my therapist did was help me manage my depression, and not just with medication. She taught me mental techniques, routines and habits of thinking that could check depression’s influence over my mind.

I won’t go into details of my therapy sessions. Some of them, like the specifics of our conversations about suicidal thoughts, are still too raw.

What is important, though, is that they helped. These tools helped lift the cloud of depression. It’s not a coincidence that in the second half of 2015, I went on my first date with the woman who will soon become my wife. Before therapy, I don’t think I was open enough to the idea that anyone could love me and be able to make a real relationship work.

The more I used therapy tools, the better I became at opening up and convincing myself that life was worth living. Between this self-care and the successful relationship it enabled, I was in a good enough place that I stopped needing regular therapy appointments altogether.

I don’t want you to think that my life is perfect. I still have problems. But they’re more mundane problems, like handling family finances on a journalist’s salary, rather than life-threatening ones, like suicidal thoughts. That seemed impossible three years ago.

The one thing I wish everyone could understand about depression is that it is a social disease. The part that makes suicide look like a way out is that you feel profoundly alone. This is a lie, but it can only be shown to be a lie through honesty with yourself and the people around you.

If you think someone in your life is depressed, ask them how they’re feeling and tell them you’re there if they need you. Maybe they’ll say they’re fine, and maybe they’re telling the truth. But if they aren’t, just keep showing them you’re there. And if they tell you they’re in trouble, then help.

And if you are suffering, you can get through this. Tell someone — anyone. The stigma around mental illness — it shut me up too, and it cost me dearly. There are people who care about you, who will do the work necessary to help you survive. All you have to do is ask.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. It’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week; you should call if you’re having suicidal thoughts of any kind.

Leadership Manifesto

leader /’līdәr/ n: Anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes.
WE WANT TO SHOW UP, WE WANT TO LEARN AND
WE WANT TO INSPIRE.
WE ARE HARDWIRED FOR CONNECTION, CURIOSITY, AND ENGAGEMENT.
WE CRAVE PURPOSE, AND WE HAVE A DEEP DESIRE TO CREATE AND CONTRIBUTE.
WE WANT TO TAKE RISKS,
EMBRACE OUR VULNERABILITIES, AND BE COURAGEOUS.
WHEN LEARNING AND WORKING ARE DEHUMANIZED –
WHEN YOU NO LONGER SEE US AND NO LONGER ENCOURAGE OUR DARING, OR WHEN YOU ONLY SEE WHAT WE PRODUCE OR HOW WE PERFORM – WE DISENGAGE AND TURN AWAY FROM THE VERY THINGS THAT THE WORLD NEEDS FROM US: OUR TALENT, OUR IDEAS, AND OUR PASSION.
W H A T W E A S K I S T H A T Y O U
ENGAGE WITH US, SHOW UP BESIDE US, AND LEARN FROM US.
FEEDBACK IS A FUNCTION OF RESPECT;
WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE HONEST CONVERSATIONS WITH US
ABOUT OUR STRENGTHS AND OUR OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH, WE QUESTION OUR CONTRIBUTIONS AND YOUR COMMITMENT.
ABOVE ALL ELSE, WE ASK THAT YOU SHOW UP, LET YOURSELF BE SEEN, AND BE COURAGEOUS.
DARE GREATLY WITH US.

from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown Copyright © 2017 Brené Brown, LLC.

The Friend Effect

The friend effect: why the secret of health and happiness is surprisingly simple

A study has found that regularly eating meals alone is the biggest single factor for unhappiness, besides existing mental illness. Why is hanging out with friends so helpful?

Jenny Stevens

@jenny_stevens

Wed 23 May 2018 01.00 EDT Last modified on Wed 23 May 2018 10.54 EDT

People who eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves. Photograph: PeopleImages/Getty Images

For some, eating alone can be a joyous thing: forking mouthfuls of pasta straight from the pan, peanut butter licked off a spoon, the unbridled pleasure of walking home from the chippie alone on a cold night. But regularly eating meals in isolation is a different story. This one factor is more strongly associated with unhappiness than any other apart from (unsurprisingly) having a mental illness. This is according to a new study by Oxford Economics that found, in a survey of 8,250 British adults, that people who always eat alone score 7.9 points lower, in terms of happiness, than the national average.

This research is far from the first to suggest a link between eating with others and happiness. Researchers at the University of Oxford last year found that the more that people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives. The study also found that people who eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves and have wider social and emotional support networks.

Robin Dunbar, a professor of psychology, worked on the Oxford University study. He says that “we simply don’t know” why people who eat together are happier. But it is clear that this is a regular social ritual, a moment of union and communion in our often chaotic lives. It can be a place of conversation, storytelling and closeness.

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“At a psychological level, having friends just makes you happier,” says Dunbar. “The kinds of things that you do around the table with other people are very good at triggering the endorphin system, which is part of the brain’s pain-management system. Endorphins are opioids, they are chemically related to morphine – they are produced by the brain and give you an opiate high. That’s what you get when you do all this social stuff, including patting, cuddling and stroking. It is central to the way primates in general bond in their social groups and relationships.”

Our face-to-face relationships are, quite literally, a matter of life or death. “One of the biggest predictors of physical and mental health problems is loneliness,” says Dr Nick Lake, joint director for psychology and psychological therapy at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. “That makes sense to people when they think of mental health. But the evidence is also clear that if you are someone who is lonely and isolated, your chance of suffering a major long-term condition such as coronary heart disease or cancer is also significantly increased, to the extent that it is almost as big a risk factor as smoking.”

One of the most striking pieces of evidence for this, says Dunbar, is a meta-analysis of 148 epidemiological studies that looked for the best predictors that patients would survive for 12 months after a heart attack. “The best two predictors, by a long way, are the number and quality of friends you have and giving up smoking,” he says. “You can eat as much as you like, you can slob about, you can drink as much alcohol as you like – the effect is very modest compared with these other two factors.”

Human beings are biologically engineered for human interaction – and particularly face-to-face interaction. One study from the University of Michigan found that replacing face-to-face contact with friends and family with messages on social media, emails or text messages could double our risk of depression. The study also found that those who made social contact with family and friends at least three times a week had the lowest level of depressive symptoms.

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We are the most social of all the animals,” says Prof Paul Gilbert, a psychologist and the founder of compassion-focused therapy. “Our brains and our bodies are built to be regulated through interactions with others from the day that we are born.” This is not the case with many creatures, such as turtles and fish, that procreate in vast numbers. “They don’t need looking after,” says Gilbert. “Many of them will die before they reach reproductive age. The caring behaviour [associated] with mammals is a major evolutionary adaptation – it changes the brain and the physiology of the body so that a parent is interested in staying close to an infant. One of the most important things is the human capacity for soothing and engaging. So, when a mother smiles at a baby and makes eye contact, that positive emotion in the face and the voice of the mother is stimulating positivity in the child. You can see why it’s called mirroring, the baby smiles back.

“The ability to stimulate positive emotions, which is linked to happiness, begins in interactions with others who are having positive emotions about you. So, when we see our friends and they say, ‘Good to see you’ – it’s important.”

But there are many factors that might prevent us from seeing friends and family: mental ill health, immobility, a lack of money. Alison Harris is a consultant clinical psychologist and professional lead for psychological services in Salford. “Austerity has a huge influence on the loss of happiness and wellbeing,” she says. “Homelessness and unemployment in particular takes us out of contact with others. In addition to the obvious harms of homelessness, it does massively increase social isolation and anxiety. To take that even further, many people are in exile from their communities. In mental health services, we see an enormous amount of grief, depression and anxiety in people who are asylum seekers and refugees and much of that is not just due to trauma or torture or detention or fleeing from their country, but from the severe rupture of being cut off from their families and communities of origin.”

When we are around others, it has an effect on our body. Some forms of friendship – going to parties, getting married, having positive interactions with others – stimulate our sympathetic nervous system. Gilbert says that the parasympathetic nervous system (otherwise known as the “rest and digest” system) “is stimulated through the verbal and voice tone of relations with each other. As far as we know, it’s not that stimulated through texts. Generally speaking, you’re designed to respond to voice tone and expression, and stroking. We are physiologically designed for face-to-face interaction.”

Of course, for those struggling with depression, the idea of physical contact can be impossible to fathom. At those moments, the capacity to lift up a mobile phone and type out a text is an enormous mark of progress. It may not be the ideal form of interaction, but it’s a vast improvement on staring at a wall.

Dragging ourselves out of low energy states – be that by trying to cultivate compassionate voices internally or having compassionate relationships with others – is key to Gilbert’s work. “If you ask someone, ‘What is your internal critic most frightened of?’ [you will find] it’s frightened of rejection, of being seen as no good. Of being unlovable, of not being wanted. All the raging that goes on beneath us, the thing that we fear most is shame – not being good enough or wanted. We are frightened of being revealed to be not so nice.”

He says that what has happened in the past decade, with the rise of social media, “is that it has become a very plastic society. We are all living like theatrical actors, presenting ourselves as our best. That can’t be real, and so we have many people who feel like failures or useless. They say: ‘I’m not as attractive as that, I’m overweight, I’m not kind or compassionate to others.’”

As Gilbert says, the best relationships are the ones where people love us for our perceived dark sides and flaws. “People forget that love is about loving you for the difficult things, not the easy things,” he says. It is those who know us intimately who can provide that, and they do it through their physical presence, through touch, and through eating, drinking and sharing with us. Spending time together is social nourishment. So, instead of texting a friend or messaging them on social media, why not knock on their door, look them in the eye and make yourselves both feel better?

  • This article was amended on 23 May 2018. Dr Alison Harris works for the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS foundation trust, and not Salford Royal NHS foundation trust, as an earlier version said.

Hope, I have found you at last!

There once was a seed that lived for a long time just being a seed. It knew no other way of being, no other way doing, no other way of experiencing, just a seed never changing. It had many things done to it, many insults to its existence as a seed. The seed was unaware of living any other way. The seed was not alone, as it was amongst many other seeds. They were placed in confined spaces with just enough resources to survive as the seeds they were. The seeds were all bounced around from one confinement to another…packaged, boxed. Not going forward or backwards in life as there didn’t seem to be any other way of living; after all, being a seed is all they knew. Continue reading Hope, I have found you at last!

Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted

By Brene Brown

There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers

than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise.

With skinned knees and bruised hearts; we choose owning our stories of struggle,

over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.

When we deny our stories, they define us.

When we run from struggle, we are never free. So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.

We will not be characters in our stories.

Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.

We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings.

We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame,

grace from disappointment, courage from failure.

Showing up is our power.

Story is our way home. Truth is our song.

We are the brave and brokenhearted.

We are rising strong.

© 2017 Brené Brown, LLC.

 

 

The Man I am in My Heart

The man I am in my heart is the change I want to see in the world. I am a man of peace and kindness whose intention is to harm no one. A man that is genuine with no need to wear a mask…with no need to be anything other than myself. A man that believes in himself, his abilities, his skills, and his capacity to continue to learn. A man that possesses the innocent heart of a child before it has witnessed the evil ways of the world, felt the pain and suffering of loss, and had to endure the tragedies of life just to survive. A man that loves his family with the same empathy, compassion, loyalty, and forgiveness that they have so generously given to me. A man whose generous spirit loves unconditionally. A man whose handshake is as good as a signed contract. A man that can be trusted with the care of others, and counted on in both good times and tough times. A man whose words carry weight, purpose, meaning, and can be truly believed. A man of integrity in all his affairs and compassion for all those that suffer. A man that is honest, open-minded, and willing to do all that is necessary to leave this world better than I found it. A man whose behavior reflects his values and beliefs. But more than anything else, for without it I am nothing but a man waiting to die, the man in my heart embraces sobriety. I choose life so that I can feel deeper, share deeper, experience deeper, and love deeper.

Darryl Lambert~