Archive for 2011

29 dec

Why Should I Forgive? The Origin of a New Year’s Resolution

WEJMDI’ve been asked why I’m passionate about teaching forgiveness. It’s because all religious, spiritual and metaphysical roads I’ve traveled have led me here, to this one Truth borrowed from A Course In Miracles: I forgive others for my own peace of mind.

In my late twenties I read the Bible, the Old and New Testament, for the first time. Although I was impressed with the transformation of God’s consciousness from the Old Testament God of anger, judgment, vengeance and war to the New Testament God of peace, love, acceptance, charity and forgiveness, I was more impressed with the implications of several thought-provoking Biblical comments:

(1) From the Book of Matthew: He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

If the above-passage is an accurate quote from Jesus of the Christ, that’s pretty awesome and powerful. “Nothing will be impossible for you.” That’s not a vague and ambiguous assertion. That’s a description of how Reality Manifestation works. That’s the Secret right there. That’s the Law of Attraction, the Law of Abundance. The power of the Mind to transcend time and transform space, and thereby create the reality of one’s choosing! “Nothing will be impossible for you.” Wow. I like the sound of that. And I find it hard to believe that Jesus of the Christ was exaggerating. His word was his bond.

(2) From the Book of Mark: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” I don’t take the word “rich” literally here. I believe what was meant instead of rich is the word greedy. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a greedy man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Greed is of the ego. Greed is about competition and separation rather than cooperation and unity. Greed is about judgment, aggression and unforgiveness, not acceptance, tolerance and harmony. Greed is not of God and if you really want to get to God and Heaven and the Garden of Eden, or whatever else you understand to be a place of eternal, unconditional peace, compassion and joy, then be of Service to Others. Help others. If you’ve got two coats, give one away to a needy brother.

3) From the Book of Matthew: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”

Meek doesn’t mean weak. Meek doesn’t mean wimpy. Meek doesn’t mean sucker or chump. Meek means those who are gentle, those who are non-violent, those who are compassionate, those who are accepting of others, those who are unconditionally forgiving. “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” The implication of this being that those who seek peace through violence and murder are not blessed and will inherit the wind.

4) From the book of Matthew: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” This is very clear. The message is basically that if you walk a righteous, honest and forgiving path, you will get the life that you want. You’ll get the goodies. First be a person of integrity. First be of service to others. First let go of anger, fear, judgment and attack. First forgive. And then “all these things will be added to you.” In other words: You win. You Forgive To Win!

5) From the Book of John: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” In other words, All these things that I have done, you can do and more if you have faith in me, if you follow my principles of forgiveness, acceptance, and love. That’s the ticket. There’s the message again: Want to do 22 impossible things before breakfast? First seek the kingdom of heaven. First be a person of honor. And then with your faith you’ll move mountains, and all things will come to you.

Why? Because when we get our mind focused on Forgiveness, Acceptance and Love, this removes the obstacles to the natural flow of abundance and prosperity which is available in infinite amounts to everyone.

So that’s my New Year’s resolution: To first seek the kingdom of heaven. To first be a person of honor. To forgive. To accept. To love. As best I can. As unconditionally as I can. Wherever I am. Without exceptions. Without expectations. Without the need for appreciation or acknowledgment.

To have forgiveness, teach forgiveness to learn it.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Forgive To Win!

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on December 29th, 2011 in First30Days Book, Global/Social Change, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

23 dec

Give Over to Good

RickHansonWhat is living you?
The Practice:
Give over to good.
Why?

In every moment, you and I and everyone and everything else – from quantum foam to fleeting thoughts, intimate relationships, rainforest ecosystems, and the stars themselves – are each a kind of standing wave, like the ever-changing though persistent pattern of water rising above a boulder in a river.

We are the result of multiple causes flowing through us. As Buckminster Fuller famously said, “I seem to be a verb.”

This fact is amazing, but it’s corroborated by both modern physics and deep ecology. We can get silly-cosmic about it (done this myself – not only as a college sophomore!), but the implications are very down to earth.

As unique standing waves, you and I are constructed each moment by the currents – the forces and factors, both internal and external – flowing through us. We have no choice about being lived by these currents, continually given over to them.

But we can choose to give ourselves over to the good ones. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on December 23rd, 2011 in General, Health, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 dec

How to Beat the Holiday Blues

WEJMDIt is terribly ironic that the holidays, which is meant to be a time for celebration, joy, family, loved ones, connection, harmony and contentment, brings sadness and depression to so many people. Why is this the case? Perhaps because those who suffer from the holiday blues are seeing their world through the eyes of the past, focusing on the disappointments, the losses, the rejections, the abandonments of the past and bringing them into the present, and feeling their devastating emotional impact as if they happened yesterday.

Perhaps because those who suffer from the holiday blues look at their current life situation and perceive it as empty and lonely, lacking in loving, nurturing relationships, lacking in meaningful, supportive family bonds, lacking in personal fulfillment, lacking in health and happiness. Perhaps because those who suffer from the holiday blues fear the future will deliver them more of the same. More loneliness. More alienation. More frustration. More regret. More pain and suffering. So what do we do about it?

REFUSE THE BLUES

Best we not focus on the disappointments of the past. When thoughts of the past pop into our mind, we give them no power to terrorize us. We gently tell them to go away and haunt someone else. We don’t want those thoughts anymore. We don’t need them for our safety or protection. We don’t wish to victimize ourselves anymore with painful memories.

Best we not focus on the potential disappointments of the future. When anxious, fearful thoughts about the future pop into our mind, we give them no power to terrorize us. We gently tell them to go away and haunt someone else. We don’t want those thoughts anymore. We don’t need to dwell on all the horrible “what ifs” that might someday happen. We don’t need to fill our mind with anticipatory thoughts of failure, loneliness, pain and suffering possibly yet to come. We don’t wish to victimize ourselves anymore with the belief that we will not be able to handle what our life’s future has to offer.

BE HERE NOW. BE LOVE NOW.

The above subhead are two titles from books by Ram Dass, whose spiritual journeys he has distilled into these two phrases of powerful wisdom. The best way to overcome the holiday blues or any blues for that matter is to BE HERE NOW: Be in the present. Appreciate that in this present moment is massive potential for happiness and contentment. In this present moment we can look at the beauty of nature all around us. In this present moment we can marvel at the miracle of life in all its myriad forms, animal, vegetable and mineral. In this present moment we can BE LOVE NOW: We can help a stranger, hug a friend, ease someone else’s pain, share a laugh or a smile, see the love in everyone despite how they’re behaving, forgive others for they know not what they do, accept the Oneness of life despite the differences and diversity that sometimes can seem quite disorienting or frightening, appreciate the connection we have to the earth, to the wind and water, to all creatures big and small, and above all else, to each other.

ABOVE ALL ELSE: LOVE YE ONE ANOTHER

There is great joy to be had in this world, in our present moments despite not having the relationships, position and possessions we desire, by simply connecting with others. Making eye contact with others. Extending acceptance, tolerance, love and forgiveness to others. Do these things on a daily basis. What you give to others you can’t keep from yourself. What you give to others will come back to you.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on December 14th, 2011 in First30Days Book | No comments Read related posts in , , , ,

11 dec

Remember the Big Things

RickHansonWhat matters most to you?
The Practice:
Remember the big things.
Why?

In every life, reminders arrive about what’s really important.

I’ve recently received one myself, in a form that’s already come to countless people and will come to countless more: news of a potentially serious health problem. My semi-annual dermatology mole check turned up a localized melanoma cancer in my ear that will need to come out immediately. The prognosis is very positive – this thing is “non-invasive” – but it’s certainly an intimation of mortality. Hopefully this particular bullet will whiz by, but it’s an uncomfortably concrete message that sooner or later something will catch up with each one of us.

Personally, I am doing alright with this. It’s like there are three layers to my mind as I write here, just a few days after I got the news. The top is focused on problem-solving. Beneath that there’s a furry little animal that’s upset and wants to curl up with loved ones. The bottom feels accepting, peaceful, and grateful.

Naturally enough, after the bullet passes – maybe taking a bit of your ear with it! – you reflect on your life, both past and to come. Of course, you don’t need a health scare – which in my case is small potatoes compared to what so many people around the world must deal with – to consider what you care about most. Then you appreciate the things you’ve honored so far, and you see where you could center yourself more in what’s truly important to you.

While it’s good advice not to sweat the small stuff, we also need to nurture the large stuff. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on December 11th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

11 dec

We’re All Doing the Best We Can

MikeRobbinsNewI’m sometimes amazed and embarrassed by how critical I can be – both of other people and of myself. Even though I both teach and practice the power of appreciation (as well as acceptance, compassion, and more) when I find myself feeling scared, threatened, or insecure (which happens more often than I’d like it to), I notice that I can be quite judgmental. Sadly, as I’ve learned throughout my life, being critical and judgmental never works, feels good, or leads me to what I truly want in my relationships and in my life. Can you relate to this?

I’ve recently been challenged by a few situations and relationships that have triggered an intense critical response – both towards myself and some of the people around me. As I’ve been noticing this, working through it, and looking for alternative ways to respond, I’m reminded of something I heard Louise Hay say on a number of years ago. She said, “It’s important to remember that people are always doing the best they can, including you.”

The power of this statement resonated with me deeply when I heard it and continues to have an impact on me to this day. And, although I sometimes forget this, when I do remember that we’re all doing the best we can given whatever tools and resources we have, and the circumstances and situations we’re experiencing, it usually calms me down and creates a sense of empathy and compassion for the people I’m dealing with and for myself.

Unfortunately, too often we take things personally that aren’t, look for what’s wrong, and critically judge the people around us and ourselves, instead of bringing a sense of love, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, and appreciation to the most important (and often most challenging) situations and relationships in our lives.

When we take a step back and remember that most of the time people aren’t “out to get us,” purposefully doing things to upset or annoy us, or consciously trying to make mistakes, disappoint us, or create difficulty (they’re simply doing the best they can and what they think makes the most sense) – we can save ourselves from unnecessary overreactions and stress. And, when we’re able to have this same awareness and compassion in how we relate to ourselves, we can dramatically alter our lives and relationships in a positive way.

Here are some things you can do and remember in this regard:

1) Give people the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time people have good intentions. Many of us, myself included, have been trained to be cautious and suspicious of others, even seeing this as an important and effective skill in life and business. However, we almost always get what we expect from people, so the more often we give people the benefit of the doubt, the more often they will prove us “right,” and the less often we will waste our precious time and energy on cynicism, suspicion, and judgmet.

2) Don’t take things personally. One of my favorite sayings is, “You wouldn’t worry about what other people think about you so much, if you realized how little they actually did.” The truth is that most people are focused on themselves much more than on us. Too often in life we take things personally that have nothing to do with us. This doesn’t mean we let people walk all over us or treat us in disrespectful or hurtful ways (it can be important for us to speak up and push back at times in life). However, when we stop taking things so personally, we liberate ourselves from needless upset, defensiveness, and conflict.

3) Look for the good. Another way to say what I mentioned above about getting what we expect from other people, is that we almost always find what we look for. If you want to find some things about me that you don’t like, consider obnoxious, or get on your nerves – just look for them, I’m sure you’ll come up with some. On the flip side, if you want to find some of my best qualities and things you appreciate about me, just look for those – they are there too. As Werner Erhard said, “In every human being there is both garbage and gold, it’s up to us to choose what we pay attention to.” Looking for the good in others (as well as in life and in ourselves), is one of the best ways to find things to appreciate and be grateful for.

4) Seek first to understand. Often when we’re frustrated, annoyed, or in conflict with another person (or group of people), we don’t feel seen, heard, or understood. As challenging and painful as this can be, one of the best things we can do is to shift our attention from trying to get other people to understand us (or being irritated that it seems like they don’t), is to seek to understand the other person (or people) involved in an authentic way. This can be difficult, especially when the situation or conflict is very personal and emotional to us. However, seeking to understand is one of the best ways for us to liberate ourselves from the grip of criticism and judgment, and often helps shift the dynamic of the entire thing. Being curious, understanding, and even empathetic of another person and their perspective or feelings doesn’t mean we agree with them, it simply allows us to get into their world and see where they’re coming from – which is essential to letting go of judgment, connecting with them, and ultimately resolving the conflict.

5) Be gentle with others (and especially with yourself).
Being gentle is the opposite of being critical. When we’re gentle, we’re compassionate, kind, and loving. We may not like, agree with, or totally understand what someone has done (or why), but we can be gentle in how we respond and engage with them. Being gentle isn’t about condoning or appeasing anyone or anything, it’s about having a true sense of empathy and perspective. And, the most important place for us to bring a sense of gentleness is to ourselves. Many of us have a tendency to be hyper self-critical. Sadly, some of the harshest criticism we dole out in life is aimed right at us. Another great saying I love is, “We don’t see people as they are, we see them as we are.” As we alter how we relate to ourselves, our relationship to everyone else and to the world around us is altered in a fundamental way.

As the Dalai Lama so brilliantly says, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Everyone around us – our friends, co-workers, significant other, family members, children, service people, clients, and even people we don’t know or care for – are doing the best they can, given the resources they have. When we remember this and come from a truly compassionate perspective (with others and with ourselves), we’re able to tap into a deeper level of peace, appreciation, and fulfillment.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 11th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

02 dec

Rest

RickHansonBusy, busy?
The Practice:
Rest.
Why?

This practice is definitely a case of teaching what you need to learn: I’ve been working through a big bucket of tasks lately with little chance to rest. (I console myself with knowing that the bucket is emptying a lot faster than it’s filling with new tasks.)

Sometimes you can really feel what you need to do by feeling what’s happening for you when you don’t. “Don’t,” that is: ease up, unwind, recharge, put your feet up, take a load off, just chill. Because when you don’t rest, you wear out, wear down, and start running on empty. Then you’re not much good for yourself or anyone else.

But when you get some rest, and get more rested, you have more energy, mental clarity, resilience for the hard things, patience, and wholehearted caring for others.

I promised my wife this would be my all-time fastest JOT to write. Because I really need some rest!

And you do, too.

How?

Tell the truth to yourself about how much time you actually – other than sleep – truly come to rest: not accomplishing anything, not planning anything, not going anywhere. The time when you don’t do anything at all, with a sense of relaxation and ease. No stress, no pressure, nothing weighing on you in the back of your mind. No sense of things undone. Utterly at rest.

Probably not much time at all, if you’re like me. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on December 2nd, 2011 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

27 nov

Relax, You’ve Arrived

RickHansonAre we there yet?
The Practice:
Relax, you’ve arrived.
Why?

We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.

Part of this comes from our biological nature. To survive, animals – including us – have to be goal-directed, leaning into the future.

It’s certainly healthy to pursue wholesome aims, like paying the rent on time, raising children well, healing old pain, or improving education.

But it’s also important to see how this focus on the future – on endless striving, on getting the next task done, on climbing the next mountain – can get confused and stressful.

It’s confused because the brain:
· Overestimates both the pleasure of future gains and the pain of future losses. (This evolved to motivate our ancient ancestors to chase carrots hard and really dodge sticks.)

· Makes the future seem like a real thing when in fact it doesn’t actually exist and never will. There is only now, forever and always.

· Overlooks or minimizes the alrightness of this moment – including the many things already resolved or accomplished – in order to keep you looking for the next threat or opportunity. (For more on how the brain makes us stressed and fearful, see Buddha’s Brain.)

Further, this pursuit of the next thing is confused because the mind tends to transfer unfulfilled needs from childhood into the present, such as to be safe, worthy, attractive, successful, or loved. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on November 27th, 2011 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , ,

27 nov

The Secret to Feeling in Control of Your Destiny Under Risky Conditions (at the Office and Beyond)

RenitaKalhornDo you think having a 50% chance of dying while at work everyday might affect your job satisfaction?

Well, according to the 1945 report, Men Under Stress, that was the mortality rate for fighter pilots in World War II, the highest among the military. And yet, they also had the highest job satisfaction in the military, 93 percent of them claiming to be happy with their assignments.

How could this be? As Taylor Clark relates in his fascinating book Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool: “They felt in control of their fate. They could maneuver however they liked through a huge airspace and they believed, to a man, that their piloting skill would determine their survival, not luck.”

There you have it. No activity, even flying in enemy territory, is inherently stressful. Rather, the more certainty and control we think we have – not how much we actually have — the less stress we feel.

You can see my cheat sheet for enjoying uncertainty here. Now let’s talk about what you need to gain a perception of control:

Confidence in your skill

My favorite example of this is rock-climbers. Surrounded by unpredictable physical threats — a sudden storm, avalanche or drop in temperature – they focus on what they can control: their skill, preparation and ability to find the next hand hold. Although the final outcome will always be uncertain and out of their actual control, they derive satisfaction from knowing they are equipped to handle whatever comes up and thus influence the outcome.

A dash of autonomy

A surefire recipe for intensifying stress is to combine a feeling of powerlessness with uncertainty. Take a traffic jam, for example. German medical researchers found in a 2009 study that being stuck in traffic – caught in an unmoving blockade of cars with no idea when it will let up — more than triples your chances of suffering heart attack.

Autonomy, however, can counteract this effect. In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink relates how Zappos, the progressive online retailer used it: Typically, jobs at call centers have turnover rates of 35% in the US and UK, double the rate for other jobs. Zappos, however, provides its customer service team with extensive training and then lets them handle calls however they see fit. Result: it has minimal turnover and consistently ranks as one of the best companies for customer service in the US.

Regardless of your role or company policies, you too can look for ways, small and large, to demonstrate free will over what, when and how you do things during your workday. Stuck on an interminable conference call? Tidy the top of your desk. Required to use a particular tracking software? Create your own system for collecting and inputting the data.

Brainstorm a plan of action

It’s easier to take action than it is to change your emotions. (Go ahead, try to make yourself cry; now lift your arm — which is easier? ;-). And there is always – always — something you can do. When I’m feeling stuck or out of control, I take out a piece of paper and make an “All The Things I Haven’t Tried Yet” list. Seeing all the options in front of me in black and white never fails to give me a sense of control.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Renita Kalhorn on November 27th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments

19 nov

Give No One Cause to Fear You

RickHansonWhat puts people at ease?
The Practice:
Give no one cause to fear you.
Why?

We evolved to be afraid.

The ancient ancestors that were casual and blithely hopeful, underestimating the risks around them – predators, loss of food, aggression from others of their kind – did not pass on their genes. But the ones that were nervous were very successful – and we are their great-grandchildren, sitting atop the food chain.

Consequently, multiple hair-trigger systems in your brain continually scan for threats. At the least whiff of danger – which these days comes mainly in the form of social hazards like indifference, criticism, rejection, or disrespect – alarm bells start ringing. See a frown across a dinner table, hear a cold tone from a supervisor, get interrupted repeatedly, receive an indifferent shrug from a partner, watch your teenager turn her back and walk away . . . and your heart starts beating faster, stress hormones course through your veins, emotions well up, thoughts race, and the machinery of fighting, fleeing, freezing, or appeasing kicks into high gear.

The same thing happens in the other direction: when you send out any signal that others find even subtly threatening, their inner iguana gets going. That makes them suffer. Plus it prompts negative reactions from them, such as defensiveness, withdrawal, counter-attacks, grudges, dislike, or enlisting their allies against you.

Thus the kindness and the practical wisdom in the traditional saying, “Give no one cause to fear you.”

You can – and should – be direct, firm, and assertive. Without needing to fear you, others should expect that if they break their agreements with you or otherwise mistreat you, there will be consequences: you reserve the right to speak up, call a spade a spade, step back in the relationship if need be, take away the privileges of a misbehaving child or the job of a dishonest employee, and so on. But this is simply clarity. Rocks are hard; you don’t need to fear rocks to take their hardness into account: I know this as an aging rock climber!

Much of the time the fear – the anxiety, apprehension, unease – we trigger in others is mild, diffuse, in the background, maybe not even consciously experienced. But studies show that people can feel threatened by stimuli they’re not actually aware of. Think of the little bits of irritation, caustic tone, edginess, superiority, pushiness, nagging, argumentativeness, eye rolls, sighs, rapid fire talk, snarkiness, demands, high-handedness, righteousness, sharp questions, or put downs that can leak out of a person – and how these can affect others. Consider how few of these are necessary, if any at all – and the mounting costs of the fears we needlessly engender in others.

Think of the benefits to you and others of them feeling safer, calmer, and more at peace around you.

How?

Assert yourself for the things that matter to you. If you are sticking up for yourself and getting your needs met, you won’t be as likely to get reactive with others.

Appreciate that the caveman/-woman brain inside the head of the person you’re talking with is automatically primed to fear you, no matter how respectful or loving you’ve been. So do little things to prevent needless fears, like starting an interaction by expressing whatever warmth, joining, and positive intentions are authentic for you. Be self-disclosing, straightforward, unguarded. Come with an open hand, weaponless.

As you can, stay calm in your body. Get revved up, and that signals others that something bad could be coming.

Slow down. Fast talk, rapid instructions or questions, and quick movements can rattle or overwhelm others. Sudden events in our ancient past were often the beginning of a potentially lethal attack.

Be careful with anger. Any whiff of anger makes others feel threatened. For example, a crowded and noisy restaurant will suddenly get quiet if an angry voice is heard, since anger within a band of primates or early humans was a major threat signal.

Consider your words and tone. For example, sometimes you’ll need to name possible consequences – but watch out, since it’s easy for others to hear a threat, veiled or explicit, and then quietly go to war with you in their mind.

Give the other person breathing room, space to talk freely, a chance to preserve his or her pride and dignity.

Be trustworthy yourself, so that others do not fear that you will let them down.

Be at peace. Know that you have done what you can to help prevent or reduce fears in others. Observe and take in the benefits to you – such as others who feel safer around you give you less cause to fear them.

* * *

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of the bestselling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 21 languages) – and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers worldwide. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, and U.S. News and World Report and he has several audio programs. His blog – Just One Thing – has nearly 30,000 subscribers and suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart. If you wish, you can subscribe to Just One Thing here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on November 19th, 2011 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

16 nov

Stay Right When You’re Wronged

RickHansonWhat happens after you’re mistreated?
The Practice:
Stay right when you’re wronged.
Why?

It’s easy to treat people well when they treat you well. The real test is when they treat you badly.

Think of times you’ve been truly wronged, in small ways or big ones. Maybe someone stole something , turned others against you, broke an agreement, cheated on you, or spoke unfairly or abusively.

When things like these happen, I feel mad, hurt, startled, wounded, sad. Naturally it arises to want to strike back and punish, get others to agree with me, and make a case against the other person in my own mind.

These feelings and impulses are normal. But what happens if you get caught up in reactions and go overboard? (Which is different from keeping your cool, seeing the big picture, and acting wisely – which we’ll explore below.) There’s usually a release and satisfaction, and thinking you’re justified. It feels good.

For a little while.

But bad things usually follow. The other person overreacts, too, in a vicious cycle. Other people – relatives, friends, co-workers – get involved and muddy the water. You don’t look very good when you act out of upset, and others remember. It gets harder to work through the situation in a reasonable way. After the dust settles, you feel bad inside.

As the Buddha said long ago, “Getting angry with another person is like throwing hot coals with bare hands: both people get burned.” You can see much the same thing internationally. Gandhi put it so well: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Sure, you need to clarify your position, stand up for yourself, set boundaries, speak truth to power. The art – and I’m still working on it, myself! – is to do these things without the fiery excesses that have bad consequences for you, others, and our fragile planet.

How?

Start by getting centered, which often takes just a dozen seconds or so:

  • Pause – You rarely get in trouble for what you don’t say or do. Give yourself the gift of time, even just a few seconds.
  • Have compassion for yourself – This a moment of feeling “ouch, that hurts, I wish this hadn’t happened.” A neurologically savvy trick for activating self-compassion is to first recall the feeling of being with someone who cares about you.
  • Get on your own side – This means being for yourself, not against others. It can help to remember a time when you felt strong, like doing something that was physically challenging, or sticking up for someone you loved.
  • Make a plan – Start figuring out what you’re going to do, or at least where you’ll start.

And now that you’re on firmer ground, here are some practical suggestions; use the ones you like:

  • Clarify the facts – What actually happened?
  • Rate the bad event accurately – On a 0 – 10 awfulness scale (a dirty look is a 1 and nuclear war is a 10), how bad was it, really? If the event is a 3 on the awfulness scale, why have emotional reactions that are a 5 (or 9!) on the 0 – 10 upset scale?
  • See the big picture – Recognize the OK aspects of the situation mixed up with the bad ones. Put the situation in the larger context of unrelated good things happening for you, and your lifetime altogether. See the biggest picture of all: how your experiences are continually changing and it’s not worth getting all caught up in them.
  • Reflect about the other person – Consider the “10,000 causes” upstream that led him or her to do whatever happened. Be careful about assuming it was intentional; much of the time you’re just a bit player in other people’s drama. Try to have compassion for them, which will make you feel better. If applicable, take responsibility for your own part in the matter (but don’t blame yourself unfairly). You can have compassion and forgiveness for others while still considering their actions to be morally wrong.
  • Do what you can, concretely – As possible, protect yourself from people who wrong you; shrink the relationship to the size that is safe. Get support; it’s important for others to “bear witness” when you’ve been mistreated. Build up your resources. Get good advice – from a friend, therapist, lawyer, or even the police. As appropriate, pursue justice.
  • Act with unilateral virtue – Live by your code even if others do not. This will make you feel good, lead others to respect you, and create the best chance that the person who wronged you will treat you better in the future.
  • Say what needs to be said – There is a good formula from the field of “nonviolent communication”: “When X happens (stated objectively; not “when you are a jerk”), I feel Y (emotions; not “I fell you are an idiot”), because I need Z (deep needs like: “to be safe, respected, emotionally close to others, autonomous and not bossed around”).

Then, if it would be useful, you can make a request for the future. Some examples: “If I bother you, could you talk with me directly?” “Could you not swear at me?” “Could you treat your agreements with me and your children as seriously as you do those at work?”

  • Move on – For your own sake, start releasing your angry or hurt thoughts and feelings. Stop your mind from obsessing about the past, and focus on the present and future. Turn toward what is going well, what you’re grateful for. Do things that feel pleasurable.

In the garden of your life, you have to pull some weeds, sure, but mainly focus on planting flowers.

  • Be at peace – All you can really do is what you can do. Others are going to do whatever they do, and realistically, sometimes it won’t be that great. Many people disappoint: they’ve got a million things swirling around in their head, life’s been tough, there were issues in their childhood, their ethics are fuzzy, their thinking is clouded, etc. It’s the real world, and cannot be perfected.

You have to find peace in your heart, not out there in the world. A peace that comes from seeing clearly, from building up and focusing on good things in your own garden, and from letting go.

* * *

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of the bestselling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 21 languages) – and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers worldwide. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, and U.S. News and World Report and he has several audio programs. His blog – Just One Thing – has nearly 30,000 subscribers and suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart. If you wish, you can subscribe to Just One Thing here.

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Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on November 16th, 2011 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,