What Makes a Good Life

 

In his TED Talk, Waldinger pointed out three key lessons about happiness:

1. Close relationships.

2. Quality (not quanity) of relationships.

3. Stable, supportive marriages.

All of this suggests that strong relationships are critical to our health.

Society places a lot of emphasis on wealth and “leaning in” to our work, Waldinger said. “But over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships, with family, with friends, with community.”

Expressing Empathy

When my kids were young I just wanted them to be happy. When they were crying, agitated or sad, I immediately attempted to fix whatever was troubling them. I scrambled to change their focus and turn their attention to something positive. I would reassure them that everything will be better soon and it will all turn out okay. In fact even now as a parent of adult children, I still struggle with wanting to fix their problem.

There is nothing wrong with the desire to bring relief to someone who is suffering. It’s a natural response. However, insisting that a person come out of their immediate experience and into the one you believe they ‘should’ be having can be more damaging than helpful. Remember, “fixing” has a lot to do with what remains uncomfortable within YOU. You can’t keep your child or anyone else from being upset. Continue reading “Expressing Empathy”

Metaphors in Life

A young girl came into my office for a session. She complained about having anxiety. During our initial session, she explained that she read an article about a man who was sleepwalking and killed someone. This ignited so much fear and anxiety in her that it affected her ability to function and disrupted her days.

From my years of experience working with people, I knew the story of the violent sleepwalker was a metaphor for something from her past she needed to work on.

This metaphor gave me a starting point from which I could explore her mental landscape. I sensed that she may have previously experienced a “death of self”, so to speak. Through our conversations, I gathered her history bit by bit and was able to identify moments in her life when she felt violated. A part of her “self” was hurt, lost, abandoned, taken away. Continue reading “Metaphors in Life”

When To Say You’re Sorry

On occasion, you lead yourself astray by saying or doing something that is unacceptably hurtful. It is human nature to make mistakes. When is it appropriate to express your regret for upsetting someone’s feelings? Undoubtedly, while you can’t go back and undo or redo the  past, you can take action to repair the harm you caused.

The ideal approach in most situations is to respond in a good positive manner. There are times, though, that you may feel stressed, insecure, overwhelmed, or conflicted and because of this, without realizing you enter into a reactive mode. Unfortunately, in that moment, you speak sharply in a defensive or insulting manner. Your unstable reaction becomes exaggerated and it results in a frustrating aftermath not only for you, but also, for the recipient.

While your intention may not have been to hurt this person on purpose, you recognize that your action nevertheless did hurt or inconvenience them. Without too much delay, if you genuinely feel bad, this regret needs to be communicated. In order to regain your equilibrium you need to deal with your lapse of carelessness.

It has nothing to do with right or wrong but with how you made a person feel. Hurtful feelings need to be respected and validated, especially, if you care about the other person. An apology simply means that you made someone feel bad with your words or actions and you are sorry about that.
Continue reading “When To Say You’re Sorry”