3 Basic Tools for Surviving Life's Changing Tides

A few weeks ago, I attended a Crew Conference for the Maritime industry, where they had all kinds of high-tech, life size simulations for training the seafarer. Everything was built and designed to help the seafarer navigate and read data precisely as it comes up. As you can imagine, these vessels are huge - about the length of a 20 - 30 story building. And if you watched Titanic, then you know how steering such a large vessel and making the right calls are  equally important, otherwise, accidents can happen. Aside from hitting icebergs, ships can collide with one another, and when crew men take safety on board for granted, engine rooms can spark and lead to combustion.

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Are We Really Listening?

In a world where everything seems to be so fast-paced, and online conversations tend to take up our time, it truly does beg the question - are we really truly listening to one another? Author Nick Morgan calls it "the epidemic of fake listening" - our tendency to nod, lean in, smile,etc. in order to appear like we are engaged, when in fact, we aren't. 

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FREE MEDITATION: Dealing with our emotions

This short meditation is meant to help you take a look at whatever emotions you might have and assess it for what it is. Give yourself a few minutes to sit with your emotions, take a step back, and look at it from another perspective. 

 

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Honoring and working with male vulnerability | David Hatfield | TEDxEdmonton

Honoring and working with male vulnerability | David Hatfield 

 

Many voices are calling for a new kind of 21st century masculinity. Yet in the face of persistent social expectations about male stoicism, accepting and integrating the vulnerabilities of boys and men remains a challenge for all genders. Learn three compassionate ways to encourage the boys and men you know to honor their full humanity, especially, their difficult emotions and uncertainties.

Emotions and Your Health

Excuse me while I geek out a little, but all this research is just too good not to share!

Emotions have long been assumedto play a role in the prevention and development of disease. Various studies (Richman, et al., 2005) have proven that “chronically high levels of negative emotions…are associated with adverse health behaviors”, as well as can narrow attention through constricting blood flow and increase in cardiovascular reactivity (Fredrickson, 2001). When prolonged, these negative emotions can produce serious problems. 

Imagine being angry all the time. How tiring would that be? In my previous entry (EMOTION: An embodied experience) I talk about the effects of emotions when we experience positive (or negative events) and how that makes us feel physically. Here, the research tells us that each time we feel our blood boil and our eyebrows come too close for our own comfort, our heart is actually pumping faster and our blood pressure rises by a significant amount. Therefore when you’re always in a slump, science is telling you that it’s time to find ways to cheer up!

A lady named Barbara Fredrickson preaches that positive emotions can “undo negatives” (2001). She also says that “certain discrete positive emotions – including joy, interest, contentment, pride, and love - …all share the ability to broaden people’s momentary thought-action repertoires and build their enduring personal resources”. 

I know, what does that even mean?

Well, unlike negative emotions, Csikszentmihalyi (1997) would add that positive emotions increase alertness because there is no need to “feel sorry for ourselves and psychic energy can flow freely into whatever thought or task we choose to invest in” thus helping “create order in consciousness” (p.22) better known as “psychic negentropy”.  He, together with Barb, tell us that when we feel good, our minds EXPAND. And in this state of expansion, we are better able to create order in our own lives, better managing our health (not to mention, the relationships around us). They also say that we develop certain strengths within us like compassion, courage, and organization, when we cultivate positive feelings.

Today, as I was doing more research, I also learned that self-compassion (vs. self-criticism) has a way of helping us manage. When we can be aware of our emotions during difficult periods, we can also be kinder and more forgiving towards ourselves, helping us stay focused on the ultimate goal we need to reach. Dr. Timothy Sharp’s study on The Primacy of Positivity (2011) believes that if we give premium to positive emotions as a means instead of simply an end to be achieved then goals, particularly in weight management, can be acquired. He assumes that with the primacy of positivity, this will be able to boost one’s self-esteem, resilience, and coping abilities. 

Emotions work like tiny engines that have the power to nourish or demolish our lives. Start paying attention to the way you feel and you might just save yourself from a lot of trouble. 

EMOTIONS: An embodied experience

Think about a recent positive experience and try to recall everything about it. Who were there, what did it feel like, and what were you thinking? How did your body feel? What did you look like? And what did it make you want to do?

Did this positive feeling make you want to tell somebody? Did it make you want to dream and consider endless possibility? How did you want to spend the rest of your day? And who did you want to share this feeling with?

Emotions, according to Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, are an embodied feeling state. How we feel about something has a direct effect on our facial expressions, our heart rate, posture, voice, and action urges. And whether we express it or not, all our emotions are broadcast in our subtle body language. Therefore, Fredrickson says, the way we feel is never completely personal; the way we feel projects itself and is shared with the community around us. 

Do you ever notice how powerful a smile can be? That when a stranger greets you on the street, you tend to smile with them? It becomes a shared and embodied experience wherein two people now share this positive feeling, also known as positivity resonance. 

Positive emotions have such a subtle impact that we hardly notice how these tiny engines change us. Did you notice that when you imagined your last positive experience it may have made you want to explore, share, and create? I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling good, I can feel the little arms in my heart stretch out ready to give out a few random hugs. It’s such a good feeling that you wish everyone else could feel it with you. 

It is these little emotional connections that are our nutrients for LIFE. 

Emotions are so powerful that we often neglect how it projects itself through us. Next time you have an experience - be it positive or negative - learn to pay attention to the way your body feels when you are filled with this emotion. How does your heart feel? How does your head feel? What is your facial expression? And what does it make you want to do?