What a state of affairs — the impending cold winter, covid, computer hell, loneliness, unemployment — so many negative possibilities for us to focus our attention on. As the saying goes, what you focus on grows. Especially in that massive galaxy of 100 billion nerve cells inside all of our skulls.
So, in anticipation of our day of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought it might be of some value to focus on a bit of monkey business. …
The Swiss Army Knife of psychological resilience
Two weeks ago our family drove up to northern Minnesota to attend a wedding of Kristina, a young woman who grew up in our neighborhood and who is to this day a very close friend of our family.
Kristina is a force of nature, and consistent with her overall demeanor of anything is possible, she and Eric decided to have an outdoor wedding at their family vacation home on Gull Lake in northern Minnesota. …
As I was making coffee last Monday morning I absolutely could not remember if it was Sunday or Monday. I stood there watching the coffee dribble into the pot totally stumped. I had to pull out my phone to get reoriented, just like tapping the recenter icon in the Maps app. We all seem to be in a Ground Hog day existence, with each day merging into the next and with little, if anything, to look forward to. Many of us are chained to our computers, day after day, in a sort of Zoom hell.
And then there is the even bigger problem of nothing to look forward to. I met with my dear friend and colleague Ann Masten outside at a park, and here she was, one of the world’s foremost experts on resilience, revealing her own struggles with “nothing to look forward to.” I know from week after week of personal experience just how true this is. …
I have skinny calves, sort of.
Sort of because for the last two months I have been working my calves at the gym almost every day. So they are sorta bigger.
I can finally see a glimmer of the large vein that runs down the inside front of my right calf (the saphenous vein, the one heart surgeons use for heart bypasses).
In all of my 65 years, I don’t recall having seen my saphenous vein before.
I have lifted weights religiously for 42 years. I worked my upper legs hard for a few years in my late 30’s, but constant back problems kept me out of the leg exercise ring. …
A guide to keeping small emotional problems from getting bigger.
Have you had any blow outs recently? With yourself, something, or someone?
Not the ones where you go into a hair salon and have them blow out your hair (which you can’t do now anyway).
The personal kinds of blow outs. The ones where you have a temporary meltdown in your relationship with yourself, something, or someone. They don’t have to be big blow outs to matter. Small ones can add up.
Now more than ever we are at risk for these kinds of blow outs. The COVID induced fog of uncertainty can have a slow and pernicious impact that becomes apparent when small emotional moments risk turning, unnecessarily, into bigger emotional moments that can drag on. …
Every morning (almost), after I finish my coffee and reading, I fire up the daily meditation on the Waking Up app by Sam Harris for either 10 or 20 minutes. Today’s was a Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM), one of my favorite meditation practices.
For LKM and me, it was not love at first sight. We first met several years ago at a week-long Mindful Self-Compassion retreat led by Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, the two leaders behind the development and worldwide growth of self-compassion studies and training.
I had dabbled in meditation before the retreat and tried it in secret, early in the morning, when no one would see me, trying (unsuccessfully) to stay focused on my breath, which at the time is what I thought meditation was all about. …
I have a Miele dishwasher.
Who gives a shit you might be thinking. Or you could be thinking what a fool I am for spending so much money on a dishwasher (I would be in alignment with you on this).
Well, in my opinion, you should give a shit because of the silverware tray.
Keep reading. This is important!
The silverware tray is a beautiful sight to behold. An entire tray, at the top of the dishwasher, dedicated to silverware.
Two weeks ago our internet service started shutting down at random times. One minute humming along, the next suddenly gone. In the past, in less complicated times, I have had to interrogate this problem over the phone with Comcast on a number of occasions. So, like a trained dog, I followed the algorithm burned into the neuronal wires of my brain. Go downstairs, check the modem, unplug it, plug it back in, wait for reboot, and if I am lucky, voila, back in business.
The internet going down in my house has always aroused a moderate level of tension in me for two reasons: 1) I hate calling Comcast and dealing with their voice activated system and having to go through the same old steps that I have already done, and 2) my daughter and wife are usually waiting, virtual arms crossed, for me the fixer to fix it, fully recognizing that the pressure I feel is self generated. …
Given that I have a 65 year old body topped off with a full head of white hair, the thought “This Could Be the Last Time” has started to bubble up from my brainstem into my cortical awareness more often over the last few years, especially if I was doing something that I really enjoyed. It hasn’t been a source of morose morbidity. Just a momentary reflection that I don’t dwell on and that doesn’t in anyway put me in a funk. It’s just plain true, and I am ok with that reality (what choice do I have anyway?). …
These days, with a bounty of coronavirus induced time on my hands, my wife and I linger more on our morning dog walks. With the arrival of spring in Minnesota nature is coming alive, oblivious and indifferent to the current plight of their human coinhabitants.
Over the last week as my hand grasps the doorknob at the start of my morning journey, I have had the increasing sense that I am in my own little version of the movie Ground Hog’s Day with Bill Murray. …