How you view intention + how it shapes your interactions

I believe we construct so many detrimental stories about others and how they treat us. We assume they are trying to leave us out, trying to make us feel bad, or trying to ignore us. But what if we change that and instead assume they are oblivious, self-focused, or are struggling with their own issues? While this does not change the actions of others, it can help us feel better about the intention, about the why we so often struggle with.

When we frame others as humans who only want belonging and happiness, the negative assumptions we make often melt away. I don’t want to seem naive; sure, there are always those malicious people who are actively trying to hurt us, but they are far less common than we think. I know I would rather feel naive than bitter.

This way of thinking is self-protective and inherently positive; leaving the space for us to give others the benefit of the doubt where we often fill in the blanks with malintent.

I think of all the times someone made an off-hand comment or forgot to thank me when I assumed it must have been a purposeful, spiteful choice. In my experience, spite is the exception, not the rule. While it is not easy to cultivate a positive outlook on others, it can be easy to begin questioning assumptions–and even asking the person directly in some instances.

What if that guy who cut you off in the parking lot just lost his job or is worried about his ailing mother? Would you feel differently about how he stole your spot? Maybe you wouldn’t cuss him out or send over a death glare. Maybe you would instead feel compassion for him and his situation. I know feeling compassion always leaves me feeling happier and healthier than an expression of rage or frustration in moments like these.

Ted Talk Friday: What makes technology so habit-forming?

Nir Eyal is an Emory alum and has been referenced numerous times in one of my favorite podcasts, Note to Self. He poses an interesting idea about technology and why it has a death grip on our minds and behaviors. I think he is really on to something; I find myself compulsively checking my Instagram, Facebook messages, and even this blog on occasion. I think it is all about setting healthy limits and using technology in ways that enhance wellbeing rather than detract from it.

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Do you agree with Eyal’s argument?

Thoughts on Grief

I have been so lucky to have very few experiences with death and loss. While the few that I have experienced have been incredibly difficult, the loss I experienced over the summer absolutely floored me.

The death was unexpected and quickly became highly publicized. He passed away from an overdose and his parents were so bravely open and honest regarding the circumstances. For the purpose of this post, I will call my friend M.

I remember meeting M. for the first time in high school; I thought he was one of the coolest kids I had ever met and was immediately intrigued. In getting closer with him, I became enamored and we started dating.

Looking back at our notes, letters, and text messages I transcribed in a journal, I recall what it feels like to be so deeply in love with someone. He was my rock. We texted night and day, often talking on the phone late into the night until one of us fell asleep. His songs permeated my iTunes library, his phrases pepper my vocabulary, and his comfort with himself has given me something to strive for.

I’ve learned that grief is not linear. Even now, months after his death, a favorite song of his coming up on shuffle moves me to tears. I think of his family’s holiday traditions and can’t imagine what they will be like without him. I don’t think it ever gets easier. Whenever I do feel sad, I just imagine how annoyed he would be with me; I would tell me to chill out, take life less seriously, and appreciate the now.

There’s a theory in psychology that everyone goes through five distinct stages of grief. I disagree with this idea entirely. I think it is simply a construct we set up to provide a sense of control, and create an endpoint, for our grief.

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Grief follows no step-wise process, and I don’t know there truly is any sort of “end.” I think the only way to move forward is to create meaning from the loss. For me, that meant taking action to combat addiction, even if in only a small way. I joined the board of local substance abuse counseling center and every time I attend a meeting, I feel the tiny inkling that I am fighting for M. in some small way.

M. introduced me to this song, and it fits my feelings perfectly (and provides a few laughs):

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How do you cope with grief? Do you believe in the seven steps of grief?

Ted Talk Friday: The revolutionary power of diverse thought

This talk taps into so many preconceived ideas we have about people from different cultures. I think we automatically assume we are all so different based on where we are from, but we forget about the common humanity and emotional experience we all share. Shafak does a beautiful job putting this idea into words, with a particular emphasis on political thought.

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Do you agree with Shafak?

Ted Talk Friday: Life’s Third Act

I have loved the show “Grace and Frankie,” which Jane Fonda just show happens to star in. The show features two strong older female leads living full, exciting lives. Jane Fonda does a wonderful job discussing how aging can include incredible personal benefits and new ways of existing in the world. The fact that two-thirds of how we age is a choice. We can alter, and improve, our own experience of getting older.

 

 

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Do you fear aging?

Yogohana: Yoga Community

My friend Tiffany, who I met through Sweatpink SF, invited me to an event called  “Yogohana.” I was not sure what to expect, but I left feeling connected, calm, and excited for the next Yogohana meet up.

If you’ve seen “Lilo & Stitch” you know “Ohana means family” (if you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing and please go watch it). After walking into the event, we were given glow bracelets and necklaces to wear. There was a nice crowd and great music going while everyone munched on snacks and drank while chatting. The lighting was low and the atmosphere was like a health-focused introverted extravert’s dream come to life. We were all connected through a love, or curiosity, for yoga or social connection.

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We were able to greet our neighbors before moving into the main sequences of the class. The low lights, music, and floating rings of light resting on limbs as we moved through Warrior II and adho mukha shvanasana (downward-facing dog) created an almost magical ambiance.

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My favorite part of the class was the amazing partner stretch sequence. I forget the power of touch–even with a stranger–and how wonderful it can be. I stretched with my fellow SweatPink SF blogger, Tiffany. With some moves we mutually supported each other, we laughed throughout some, and at points we acknowledged our own weaknesses and took a break to respect where we were physically. It was all about communication and tuning into your own body.

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Disregard my concerned expression—this is my “resting” face

After stretching we also had a wonderful mini dance series, which was followed by savasana. Afterwards, we all hung out and chatted, talked about the fitness scene in the bay area, and enjoyed the provided refreshments. I can’t wait until the next monthly event to meet new people, get deeper in my stretches, and let loose a little more bit more while I dance.

Be sure to check out the  Yogohana meet-up happening November 18 if you are in the Bay Area!

Ted Talk Friday: The Psychology of Your Future Self

Dr. Dan Gilbert is one of my favorite Positive Psychology researchers; this short talk is so engaging and fascinating. I think it is so fascinating how greatly we underestimate how much we will change during the next decade. This talk really provokes me to think about how this underestimation will impact my lived experience–from what I do to where I live. Even with this knowledge, I’m sure I will still underestimate the amount of change that will occur in the next years; while this might be a negative feature, I think it also serves to protect our sense of self.

 

 

 

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Do you agree with Dr. Gilbert? Do you expect to change within the next year? 10 years?

Gratitude in Action

We talk so much about gratitude; usually we talk about expressing gratitude, but it often revolves around reflection–or events in the past we now feel grateful for.

But what about the gratitude of the NOW? Of the present moment?

I had a surreal day where I made a particular effort to be mindful of my gratitude in the moment, and it truly enriched my experience. Living in California has been both the scariest change and this biggest blessing in my life. I had the chance to go horseback riding along a beach trail and every moment felt like a magical gift.

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I love horses. Sure, they smell and there are more flies, but these are wise animals. I feel a strange sense of security and calm when riding. It was a quiet, peaceful ride along near the beach, through a woodsy trail, culminating at a pristine beach.

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We had to leave our phones behind (a wonderful exercise for living in the present) so while we couldn’t take great selfies, we could fully embrace the beauty and experience. I felt so calm, centered, and fulfilled afterwards and will continue to seek out experiences that force me out of my routine, cut me off from technology, and let me immerse myself in deep gratitude.

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Do you practice gratitude in the now?