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“The Courage To Change”

Guest Blog from Epsilon Healing Academy

Have you ever wanted to change something in your life and no matter how much you tell yourself and others that you want to change, you stay stuck?  Sometime it feels as though invisible forces work against us.  In a way, that is true.

The fact is –- change is hard.

To begin with, change involves taking action.  In other words, it means adding something else to your (very likely) already full plate.  One’s degree of discomfort with a situation or circumstance is weighed against the time and effort it takes to do something about it.  This often happens on a subconscious level.  For example, you might think you’d like to exercise more but you tell yourself you’re too busy and leave it that, thinking that you will get to it eventually.  But, you don’t stop to dig deeper into the reasons you don’t make your well-being a priority.

We are masters at holding onto old habits, old ways of thinking and doing things.  We convince ourselves that if we are not exactly happy, we’re at least okay.  After all, we’ve survived this long.  The longer we remain entrenched, the harder it is to let go. Read More

Los Angeles Therapist & Life Coach | David Vendig | 323-744-0751 | www.DavidVendig.com

How to feel better: 10 Simple Ways to Find Inner Peace

1.     Choose to stay positive – We’ve all herd the saying “fake it ‘til you make it,” well it turns out there’s actually something to that. How you think and what words you say can actually change how you feel. So even if you don’t feel like being positive telling yourself to do it anyway, through practice, does work.  By not allowing yourself to be negative or harsh, you will in turn make yourself feel good.  Force yourself to find the silver lining and eventually the glass-half-full attitude will come naturally to you. Research has proven that we do have the power to re-wire our brain and change how we feel. “feeling joy affects us on a cellular level” – Karolyn Gazella
2. You are what you eat – Ok maybe not, but you do feel what you eat. Researchers have been studying the food-mood connection for some time now. Certain foods can significantly affect your mood, some positively and some negatively. “In recent years, researchers have noted that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts) may help protect against depression” – Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

 

Preliminary research has found a link between trans-fatty acid intake and biological changes that lead to depression and refined carbs make your blood sugar spike and drop quickly, not leaving you balanced throughout the day.

 

3. Stretch in the mornings – Touch your toes, extend your arms, or do whatever feels comfortable for your body, but get that blood flowing first thing in the morning.  Stretching is a great way to get our bodies active, from your heart and blood, to your mind and your overall metabolism. It increases blood circulation and blood flow to the muscles. And this is important because it helps us to be more flexible, preventing injury, and helps us to perform everyday activities with more ease and keeps us more mobile as we age.  So take a few minutes every morning to get off on the right foot.

 
4. Know who you are – It seems somewhat silly that we would have to get to know ourselves, but it is true.  I’m not just talking about your favorite color, or who you like to hang out with, or your ideal pet. I mean taking a look inside yourself, respecting your values, your beliefs, your priorities, and your body.  Finding out your strengths and weaknesses, fears and passions and being ok with them. It’s ok to want to grow and get better, but having self-compassion along the way will allow you stay in a happy state of mind. Knowing yourself is an ongoing process, we are constantly changing. But take the time to know you and you will find inner confidence in doing so.  This confidence will transcend into your everyday life and allow you to be the best you instead of comparing yourself to others. Having a therapist with a positive outlook on life is extremely helpful; I see this in my work almost every day.

 
5. Meditate – take a deep breath and relax, let the tension fade from your muscles and forget about all your worries if only for a few minutes. Mediation has been shown to increase immunity, balance emotions, and lower blood pressure, along with many other benefits. Researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more ”disease-fighting genes” were active, compared to those who practiced no form of relaxation. We have so much noise going on in our worlds today, you owe it to yourself to take a few moments of quiet relaxation to refuel, refocus and relax.

 

6. Give – You can give your time, love, attention, help or a smile, just to name a few. Cultivating the spirit of giving will begin to open your heart to the world around you.  If you need proof, just look at little kids.  Generosity is not something that comes naturally to us. This is a lesson we need to come back to as adults. Human happiness comes from giving away rather that holding on. Selfishness isolates, kindness connects. It feels better to be connected. Being generous will also help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. It is something you do for yourself and not for somebody else. It’s about having a generous heart.
7. Smile – Happiness makes us smile, but can smiling make us happy?  According to many experts, smiling may not only be an outward manifestation of a happy feeling. It may actually be able to cause a happy feeling.  There is evidence that emotions in­volve more than just the brain. The face, in particular, appears to play a big role. Our faces help to reinforce the feelings which we are having, so by putting on a smile no matter how fake it seems, it can actually give a signal to our brain. So when a situation has you feeling stressed or flustered, even the most forced of smiles can genuinely decrease your stress and make you happier. According to a psychologist from 1989 named Dr. Zajonc, his research found that “facial changes involved in smiling have direct effects on certain brain activities associated with happiness” – Julia Layton

 

8. Learn new things – Your mind is like a muscle, we need to give it exercise and challenge it. Learning new things is a great way to do this. When you are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, your well-being and happiness can flourish. As we grow older it is easy to get into our routines and comfort zones, but in doing so we can be missing out on so many new experiences. This life has so much to offer and there is always something new to uncover, you don’t want to miss it. Education has been widely documented by researchers as the single variable tied most directly to improved health and longevity. Education doesn’t just mean school. Yes you can take a new language class or study a new subject, but you can also try our hiking, find a yoga, cooking, or dance class. Discover a new author or travel. The list is endless, but the point is that the world we live in is constantly changing and moving and we should be too.

 

9. Practice gratefulness –Gratefulness or to feel gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive.  It’s a shifting of your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that you already have. Start practicing gratefulness today. Maybe keep a gratitude journal or share the best parts of your day with a loved one or just make a little extra time to find the good in each moment. Psychologist, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of enthusiasm, optimism, and energy, among other feelings. In addition, those who practiced daily gratitude also experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

 

10. Make a plan – A common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much to do.  And it is easy just to stick to this notion and let it wear us down all day. Instead, create an organized written plan. List out all that you have to do and make some priorities. Pick an item or a few items that must be done today and take action. Once finished allow yourself to feel the sense of accomplishment for the completion. This will keep you on track and bring clarity to the decisions you make throughout your life.

 

This advice will help you.  You will feel better and enjoy life more.  Come back to this article once in a while to remember.  Smile more, and love life.

Referenced articles: The Healing Factor & How Food Affects Your Moods

5 Tips for Mindfulness

Mindful living is a happy way to live.  By practicing Mindfulness, you are able to savor the taste of your food, the laughs of your loved ones, and the peace of staying in the moment.  Here are 5 easy tips for you to live a Mindful life full of happiness, joy, & appreciation.

1.       Breath.  Take long breaths in, and long breaths out.  Listen to the sound of your breaths; focus on each and every breath. The present moment makes you feel whole and calm.  You begin to be grateful for the moment in time and the more you practice; the easier it gets to stay aware.

2.       Listen to your body. Wiggle your toes, feel them on the ground, plant your feet steadily on the floor, and pay attention to what you body is trying to tell you.  Stay silent and communicate with all the particles in your body by listening quietly.  Maybe your body is saying, let’s take a rest, or maybe we should go for a fun.  Sometimes, by listening to what your physical body needs, you can gain more energy to get other things done in your life.

3.       Say yes to uni-tasking.  Do one thing at a time.  See how the quality of your actions drastically improves by just focusing on each task at one time.  It’s a beautiful feeling to complete an action fully to the best of your abilities.  The best part is that people around you will notice your new-found talents of finishing projects with amazing quality and it’s all thanks to your uni-tasking focus.

4.       Allow yourself to day dream.  Sit there on your bed, couch, or chair, and allow yourself to enjoy the temperature of the room, the texture of your seat, your clothing, and the sound of your breathing.  Next thing you know, you’ll be daydreaming and wandering in your mind.  It’s a sweet feeling to experience, and somehow it ends up cheering your up and noticeably lightening your mood.

5.       Know how to meditate.  Meditating doesn’t mean chanting and asking and talking to yourself with your eyes closed.  It means that you stay calm, listen to your breath, close your eyes, and listen.  The best thing is to let your mind go blank and see what kind of wisdom comes to you.  You’ll see, it’s a powerful feeling once you get the hang of it.

Remember, Mindfulness helps you refocus and appreciate the moment, but it’s important not to want immediate results, the more your practice, the more Mindfulness will work for you.  Please post comments below and let others know how mindfulness has worked for you.

“The Best Kept Secret to Happiness”

How compassion is the best kept secret to being happy, healthy, wealthy and wise
Published on November 5, 2012 by Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D. in Feeling It
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Marketing executives want us to believe that happiness lies in a product that will taste delicious, magically fill our bank accounts, or transform us into a supermodel that looks not a day past 20. Our social norms promise that happiness will lie in status, accomplishments, relationships, and possessions. We are always on the lookout for the next thing: once we have the perfect mate, we look for the perfect home; once we’ve found the perfect home, we look for a bigger one, or a new car or a bigger bank account; once the perfect job is attained, we look for the next promotion or look forward to retirement or a new job.  We seem to be on a constant and futile chase after the promised land of lasting happiness. Dan Gilbert of Harvard University has shown that we are, in fact, terrible at predicting what will lead to happiness. Our norms, for example, would suggest that a winning lottery ticket would make our happiness scores skyrocket while paralysis would make them plummet. Research shows, however, that winning the lottery ticket, though it creates an initial rise in well-being, does not lead to lasting happiness over time nor does becoming paraplegic lead to lasting unhappiness.

A closer look at our own experiences as well as research data suggests that the secret to lasting happiness does not lie in any goods, relationships or achievements, but rather in what we can give: not just material gifts, but gifts of time, gifts of love, gifts of ourselves. Compassion and service don’t just make us happy but they also have a host of other associated benefits and may even contribute to a longer life. Here’s how:

Compassion Makes You Happy

brain-imaging study headed by neuroscientist Jordan Grafman from the National Institute of Health showed that the “pleasures centers” in the brain, i.e. the parts of our brains that are active when we experience pleasure (like dessert, money, sex) are equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves! Giving to others even increases well-being above and beyond spending money on ourselves. In a revealing experiment published in Science by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton, participants received a sum of money. Half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves and the other half were told to spend the money on others. At the end of the study, participants that had spent money on others felt significantly happier than those that had spent money on themselves. This is true even for infants! A recent study by Elizabeth Dunn and colleagues at the University of British Columbia shows that, even in children as young as 2, giving treats to others increases their happiness more than receiving treats themselves.

Compassion Makes You Wise

One reason compassion makes us happy is by broadening our perspective beyond ourselves. We know from research on anxiety and depression that these tense and unhappy states are highly self-focused. During stress or sadness, we are usually focused on the things that are going wrong in our lives. Research shows that depression and anxiety are linked to a state of self-focus, a preoccupation with “me, myself, and I.” When you do something for someone else, however, that state of self-focus immediately dissolves. Now think of a time you were feeling blue and suddenly a close friend or relative called you for urgent help with a problem. All of a sudden your attention was on helping them. Rather than feeling blue, you began to feel energized and before you knew it, you may even have felt better and had gained some perspective on your own situation as well.

Compassion Makes You Attractive  Read More

Los Angeles Therapist & Life Coach | David Vendig | 323-744-0751 | www.DavidVendig.com

“Breaking Free from Your Comfort Zone”

and embrace the pathway to change

Published on August 8, 2011 by Mel Schwartz, L.C.S.W. in A Shift of Mind

The most intimate relationship we will have in our lives is not with our parents, our spouses, our children or closest friends. It is with our thoughts. They are our constant companions. Our thoughts will impact our lives far more than any relationship. In fact, they will greatly impact those relations. The quality and nature of what our thoughts tell us will largely script the experience of our lives. Learning to break free from the confines of old thought is the key to personal growth.

Thoughts can either be our supportive allies or our critical antagonists.  They are the very filters through which we experience our lives. A particular thought – embedded as part of a larger belief – can either imprison or liberate us. Our thoughts very much tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies. read more

Los Angeles Therapist & Life Coach | David Vendig | 323-744-0751

“Mind-wandering and mindfulness”

If you haven’t tried mindfulness meditation yet, you must.

Published on January 31, 2012 by Susan L. Smalley, Ph.D. in Look Around and Look Within

If you haven’t tried mindfulness meditation yet, you must.  A new study by scientists at Yale and the University of Oregon just gave us another reason why.

This new study looked at the effects of mindfulness meditation practice on the brain state called the ‘default-mode network’ or DMN.  The DMN has been shown to be important in self-referencing (helping us shape our view of ‘who we are’) and in mind-wandering.  While mind-wandering may be helpful sometimes (it is linked to creativity when you are aware that you are mind-wandering) most of us mind-wander up to 50% of the time, and without any awareness that we are doing so.  This in effect means we are not present with what we are doing for half our lives, instead, our minds are wandering to other sorts of thoughts – worries, ruminations, thoughts of the past or future read more

Therapist & Life Coach | David Vendig 323.744.0751 | Los Angeles