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Showing posts from June, 2019

Tales of Resilient Teens

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What is “Resilience”? It can be difficult to define precisely but you know it when you see it. My personal definition is this: “A resilient person can deal with severe adversity without being deformed by it. A resilient person can make it through painful experiences and live an optimistic, meaningful life while enriching the lives of those around them.” Last week I wrote about how our ability to rise above challenges depends, in part, on the communities and resources that surround us. I stressed the importance of community and being part of a “tribe”. However “resilience” can also be reflected in the way people choose to respond to adversity. There was a fascinating study done on resilience which is described in the book “Out of the Woods: Tales of Resilient Teens” published in 2008. The book opens in a locked psychiatric ward full of troubled teens. These young patients did not have trivial issues: drug addiction, suicide attempts, major disruption at school and criminal behavior. A…

Resilience is not D.I.Y.

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Resilience is not only a DIY Endeavour. Professor Michael Ungar is a Canadian social worker who has been a family therapist for 20 years. He also leads a large team of researchers that study child, family, and community resilience. He is the author of the book: “Change your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success.” His research, involving large studies in many countries, has convinced him that resilience is not primarily intrinsic. That is, how well you cope with life is not just about what you do and think. My blogs this year have focused a lot on self-improvement so I thought this research would be an interesting counterpoint. Ungar and his merry band of researchers maintain that striving to better ourselves will not improve our lot in life if our family, workplace, community, health-care professionals and governments fail to provide sufficient care and support. In fact, according to him, all the internal resources we can muster, are not of much use without a …

Book Review: "Create Calm" by Kate James

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In 2019, more people than ever are struggling with anxiety and negative thoughts, and finding some peace of mind and composure is high on the list for most of us. Life coach Kate James’s book, Create Calm, written on managing stress and what she calls “difficult thoughts”, is a carefully compiled and highly accessible resource for anyone grappling with the stress of modern-day living – and that is really everyone. James describes her book as not intended as a replacement for professional help in dealing with mental health issues, but rather an extra tool to have and refer to. For this reason she attempts to explain and describe as many techniques for “creating calm” as can be listed, from exercise and sleep, mindfulness, creativity, talking, all the way through to professional support if it is needed. The book’s extensive contents page enables the reader to flick between sections that may be relevant or of interest to them, and each section is no longer than a few pages. James’ clea…

Meditation 10 "Awake"

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Here we are at the end of our meditations for a calmer life - learning to deal with anxiety. I hope you have found them helpful. Today is number 10. So what have we learned? We started with breath, body and sense awareness. These simple techniques draw us into the moment. The present may be difficult, but often it is not, and grounding ourselves in it gives us a bit more distance from repetitive anxious thoughts. This creates more space in our head. It is a bit like flipping the breaker switch when you’ve used up too much mental power. We learned how to set an intention (goal) for our practice by visualizing what our life and relationships could look like if we feel more calm. As I mentioned in my blog Jan 12, 2019 - “Your Best Year Ever” being able to visualize our future is useful. Several studies show that our brain doesn’t know the difference between a real memory and an imagined one. When we imagine our future vividly with emotion, our brain chemistry changes as though that imag…