Monday, January 31, 2011

Optimism In A Nutshell

The optimist . . .
  • Views life positively
  • Takes life as it is
  • Is open to possibilities
  • Has a sense of humor
    • particularly about one’s self
  • Is rational
    • Uses reason rather than being led by fears and desires
    • Objectively assesses situations
    • Takes action based on those assessments
Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

To learn more about how you can live a flourishing life, please visit my web site,

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Characteristics Of Resilient People - 6

Characteristic #6: Have deep-rooted faith in a system of meaning (religious or philosophical).

In 1902, William James wrote The Varieties of Religious Experience in which he detailed the universal belief systems of human beings. Now, a little more than a century later, scientists report they have located the part of the brain that controls religious faith — known euphemistically as the 'God spot.' The researchers’ findings support the idea that the brain's evolvement to belief systems was a means of improving our chances of survival, thus a belief in God became widespread in human evolutionary history.

Regardless as to whether God exists or not, we do know that people with religious or spiritual beliefs tend to be more content and are better able to cope with tragedies and crises. Faith acts as a stimulus, driving us to aspire to achieve the seemingly impossible. Faith drives away fear. Faith frees us from the need to be in control during uncontrollable circumstances.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

To learn more about how you can live a flourishing life, please visit my web site,

*Excerpt from Live A Flourishing Life

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Easy Ways to Introduce Silence In Your Life...

There are numerous ways to introduce silence and stillness into your life. You can make a commitment to one or two days a month, as Anne LeClaire* did, or you can try one or several of the suggestions below. Use the following pages to journal your process and progress. (*See 1/11/blog posting)
  • When you are home alone, get out of the habit of turning on the television, radio, or sound system.
  • If you have little ones at home, get them involved in the practice of silence. Make it a game. “Who can not speak for 5, 10, or 15 minutes?” You’ll get a little break from the constant chattering of the kids, and they’ll learn a valuable practice at an early age.
  • When in the car alone, turn off your cell phone and the radio.
  • Eat a meal in silence. Silent eating helps you pay closer attention to your food, enhancing the sensory experience of flavors and textures.
  • Designate a certain hour or half-hour of the day as silent time, perhaps in the early morning or before bedtime.
  • Go to sleep in silence.
  • Take a walk in the woods or at a nature sanctuary — someplace far from the madding crowd.
  • When in line at the grocery store, avoid reading the gossip rags, or joining in “complaint conversation” with others in the checkout line.

These suggestions really are effortless and can make a difference in your life. Give one or two a try. And please share with me ways you have found to introduce silence in your life.

Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

To learn more about how you can live a flourishing life, please visit my web site,

*Excerpt from Live A Flourishing Life

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Discover the Still, Small Voice Within

During a traditional Quaker meeting, the Friends sit in silent meditation. No one speaks unless they are moved to do so through the "still, small voice" of God within. As a result, spoken words are often sparse, clear, and wise.

When practicing silence, listen for that still, small voice within. How will you recognize it?
  • It moves us toward love – for ourselves and others
  • There is a sense of clarity, excitement, relief, an undeniable knowing
When we make life decisions by listening to the noise – and not the silence – our decisions often are colored by fear. In listening to the voice that speaks to us from within the silence, we may find all the guidance we need to take the right action.

Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

To learn more about how you can live a flourishing life, please visit my web site,

*Excerpt from Live A Flourishing Life

Monday, January 17, 2011

Talk With Kids About The Shooting in Tucson

The horrific shooting on January 8, 2011 once again rattled us deep within our bones. And sadly, once again, young children are seeing these all too real events; in public forums some children were asking, "Will he be coming to our school to shoot us?"

Talking with our children about this and similar events is a daunting task. The issues are multi-fold, as will be their questions and concerns. Allowing children a voice, reassuring them realistically about safety, and being honest with them about our feelings is just the beginning.

Issues you may want to discuss with your kids about the shooting in Tucson are:
  • Particularly if your child/children are 7 years of age or younger, keep the conversation simple.
  • Acknowledge the facts that they tell you, and reassure them that this won't happen to them.
  • Let kids know that they are safe and that you are safe. If your child/children know that the shooting occurred outside a grocery store, they may exhibit anxiety when you have to go grocery shopping. The more you can ascertain what they know, the better you will be able to address their fears
  • Tell kids that it is safe to go to school. Explain that the principal and others who work at their school are there to protect their safety.
  • Address the issue about the shooter's mental illness only if your child/children are old enough to comprehend the scope of this.
  • Be honest with your children about your feelings; however, be careful not to appear out of control. Be sure your responses are age appropriate.
Here are some questions you may want to ask your kids:
  • Ask your children what they know about the shooting, and how they heard this information.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings. Allow them to talk about the shooting and listen very carefully. This will help you to find out their degree of distress.
  • Answer their questions with simple, honest and accurate answers. Ask specific questions such as "How do you feel? Does it make you feel scared? What worries you the most?"
  • Is there anything else you want to talk about?

Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

Written for KidsTerrain, Inc. Reprinted here with permission.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Silence is the great teacher...

"Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it.
There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability
that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence." ~ Deepak Chopra

Noise is a prime environmental cause of stress. Noise pollution triggers the body’s stress response releasing stress hormones into your autonomic nervous system. Studies on the effects of environmental noise show an association between noise exposure and cardiovascular disease.

On March 31, 2009, Anne D. LeClaire was my guest on my show, Talk To Me… Conversations With Creative, Unconventional People on Blog Talk Radio. Anne has written eight novels, including the critically acclaimed Entering Normal, The Lavender Hour, Every Mother's Son, Sideshow, and Leaving Eden. Her latest book, Listening Below The Noise -- part memoir, part philosophical reflection -- is a look at the importance of silence as a means of achieving awareness and inner peace.

Since 1992, Anne has practiced silence on the first and third Monday of each month. For twenty-four hours, she does not speak. Her commitment to silence did not come without challenges. However, she stated, the benefits derived outweigh any bumps along the road to peace and serenity.

I asked Anne what possessed her to commit to the practice of silence? Her response, in a word, ...gratitude. Gratitude called her to silence.

On that day in 1992, Anne was walking the beach near her home on Cape Cod. "It was an absolutely beautiful day… but that day I was sad because my best friend’s mother was dying and I could do nothing to prevent the pain that was coming to my friend. I think that the element of a tender and sore heart was critical in what followed. I had paused to watch two eider ducks dive in the water. As they stayed underwater for an amazing length of time, I thought, 'Isn’t that like a little miracle of nature that these creatures could stay submerged for longer than I could hold my breath.'" As Anne focused on the eiders, her sadness waned.

"When we start to feel gratitude about something, it can be like a domino line." She began to think about the many things she was grateful for. "I thought, 'I am so blessed in this moment, I don’t know what to do.' And at that instance, I heard someone behind me say, 'Sit in silence.'" Anne turned around; no one was there. Nothing like that had ever happened to her before or since, but the experience was so profound it called her to attention. "What could that mean? And I thought maybe it just means: Be quiet," Anne explained.

She went home and told her husband, "I’m not going to talk tomorrow." She spent the next day in silence. The experience, she said, was so profound in so many ways. It was life changing. She heard things in herself that normally were drowned out by too much chatter.

"I felt so restored and rested at the end of the day…. It slowed things down. We live in such a hectic, noisy world. For this one day I had stepped back from this crazed, media-driven, fear-based crazy world, and had just been in this moment of silence. It was so incredible. I knew I wanted to do it again."

Anne began to see what happens when we make space for creative thoughts to rise up. She began to read about sounds and how artists and musicians talk about the need for silence in the creative process. Silence, she said, has been "one of my greatest teachers, giving me a center from which to live, strengthening me, testing me, and facilitating deep healing."

Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

To learn more about how you can live a flourishing life, please visit my web site,

*Excerpt from Live A Flourishing Life

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Characteristics of Resilient People - 5

The fifth characteristic of resilient people is having a healthy social support network.

Good friends help us get through the tough times. They help us to get tasks done (clean up after a flood, for example); they listen and validate our feelings. It is important to remember that no one person can be expected to be the 'be all and end all' of support. Often it takes several friends, each of whom provide different types of support. Resilient people are good at making friends and keeping them.

Often we find that 'life' gets in the way -- family obligations, kids ballgames or concerts, household tasks, to name a few -- and we let those friendships slide. We have good intentions to get together, share a meal, but we keep delaying and delaying. (As the old maxim goes: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.)

If keeping in touch with those special friends has diminished to a quick e-mail, text messaging, or 140 characters on Twitter or Facebook…. Stop! Instead of booting up the computer, pick up the telephone. Hear the sound of your friend’s voice. Meet for a 30-minute cup of coffee if a two-hour dinner date doesn’t fit into your hectic schedule. Make a face-to-face least once a month, every month.

Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

To learn more about how you can live a flourishing life, please visit my web site,

*Excerpt from Live A Flourishing Life

Friday, January 7, 2011

Developing An Attitude of Optimism

I was fortunate to grow up with women who were remarkable optimists. My mother and my maternal grandmother — women who lived through great difficulties, such as the Great Depression, single-parenting, loss of children and spouses — still managed to demonstrate the belief that things will always work out in the end.

I was well into my teenage years when I learned that not everyone grew up learning this positive outlook. A dear, childhood friend was taught differently. She received messages such as:
  • Feeling good about yourself? Be forewarned. There will always be someone who can’t wait to knock you down. 
  • Just because you did well today doesn’t mean you will tomorrow. 
  • If you expect the worst, you’ll never be disappointed.
    According to Dr. Martin Seligman’s theory of learned optimism, optimistic children grow up to be optimistic teenagers and adults. In his book, Learned Optimism, Seligman states that there are three factors that determine a learned optimistic paradigm:
    1. Optimism is acquired from our mothers. How our mothers reacted to problems set the stage for our own reaction to difficult situations. If mom dealt with everyday problems with a bright and hopeful outlook, then we, as children, learned to do the same.
    2. Optimism is influenced by the adults around us. The way adults (parents, teachers) chastise us can leave a lasting impression on how we perceive our own abilities. (Thank God for my mom and grandmother. I attended Catholic school in the 1960s…. Enough said.)
    3. Optimism is shaped by family turmoil. Family crises such as divorce or the untimely or tragic death of a family member, can contribute to a child’s general view of life later life. 
    I'll leave you today with a thought from Harry Truman: A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.

    Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

    To learn more about how you can live a flourishing life, please visit my web site,

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Characteristics of Resilient People - 4

    The fourth characteristic of resilient people is the ability to hang tough during difficult times. Sometimes things just don't go our way. We anticipate certain outcomes, and then life throws us a high-speed curve ball.

    It's okay to wallow in a little self-pity....temporarily. This allows the negative thoughts and emotions to flush out of our system. How quickly you extricate yourself from the muck and mire of negativity depends on the strength of your resilience skills. Adversity builds resilience.

    Resilient people are good at managing their emotions. They stay calm under pressure and persevere, and keep their focus on the goal for the long-haul. One way to do this is to sift through the external demands and keep potential distractions at bay. You have to be mindful, too, about the value of your actions and let go of old patterns and ways of doing things. Rigidity is detrimental to resilience.

    In the words of Don Schiltz who wrote The Gambler, and performed by Kenny Rogers: "You got to know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em; know when to walk away."

    Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

    To learn more about how you can live a flourishing life, please visit my web site,