Mindfulness – the method of conscious happiness

Desire and definition of happiness, joy, and quality of life have accompanied mankind for centuries. In the 21st century, we often ask ourselves the questions: Am I happy? What is happiness for me? We are wondering how to improve the quality of our lives, live better, more joyful, more satisfying.

Talking about improving well-being is popular. We understand more clearly that welfare does not depend on material goods that we can easily surround. Zygmunt Bauman, a philosopher, creator of the concept of post-modernity, makes it clear to us: “Almost half of the goods necessary for man to achieve happiness do not have a market price and can not be bought in the store. Regardless of the wealth of our portfolio and the number of credit cards owned in shopping malls, we will not find love or friendship, the joy of having a home, the satisfaction of caring for loved ones or helping neighbors who are in need.”

Life is full of joyful moments. These can be simple things: a sunny morning, golden leaves on the trees; a soft cat fur; a neighbor’s smile; a sip of strong, fragrant coffee. These can also be unusual moments such as plane flight and watching the Earth from above, talking to someone close to you thousands of kilometers away, or exploring the beautiful corners of distant countries and even distant galaxies without leaving your home. Good times happen every day. But do we notice them? Do we appreciate them? Are we able to enjoy them?

Important questions are bothering, worrying, waiting for satisfaction. Mindfulness as a method of conscious life can bring many answers, satisfying even for very demanding people, and perhaps especially for them. In order to appreciate and properly understand what it means to include mindfulness in our lives, let’s think about what causes us to feel no joy and we consider our own life unsatisfactory or even unhappy. In systematisation of this understanding we can look at four truths which illustrate the seriousness of the situation:
1. First truth: when we ask questions about the quality of life, we realize how much we feel the lack of satisfaction, lack of joy, lack of happiness;
2. Second truth: there are important reasons for all misfortunes, great suffering and lack of joy;
3. Third truth: there are people who consider themselves happy, joyful, content. So it’s possible!;
4. Fourth truth: there is a way that leads to joy and happiness.

The benefits of mindfulness include:
– Less rumination – limiting the automatic thoughts. Less depressive symptoms;
– Reducing stress – relieving anxiety, tension, somatic pain;
– Better regulation of emotions – more effective coping with difficult emotions, e.g. sadness, anger, depression;
– Lowering emotional reactivity – not succumbing to sudden changes in mood;
– Increase in the quality of relationships – better coping in conflict situations, greater ability to express emotions, better understanding of the emotions of others;
– Improved work of the mind – a more lasting memory, stronger concentration, more effective focusing, non-dispersal;
– Greater cognitive abilities, deeper self-awareness – awareness of habitual, automatic styles of thinking and behaviors, learning a new way of reacting.

Start from now, as really, your now is the only moment which matters.

How to take care of your boundaries

 

How to care for your boundaries? 10 steps to help you build healthy boundaries in relationships

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “boundaries”? Perhaps you are thinking about the state border or plot. The boundaries indicate where the area belonging to one reality ends and the other begins. Boundaries in relationships have a similar purpose: they help in understanding where one person ends and the other begins. In short, defining the limits is about telling yourself to what level of closeness to another you feel at ease. This allows you to set the rules that you require from other people. This applies to all your relationships: with your loved ones, friends, family members, and with everyone else who appears in your life. Establishing and maintaining boundaries is a skill that allows you to enjoy healthy, equivalent relationships. How to care for your boundaries? Lets see:

1. Set your boundaries

Identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual boundaries. Think about what you can tolerate and accept, what stresses you in relationships with others. Remember the repetitive, unpleasant situations.

2. Feel what you do not allow

The internal compass of feelings is helpful in determining the boundaries. Signals that you allow to cross boundaries are discomfort and resentment. They appear when you are used or someone does not appreciate you, and you agree for that. Feeling guilty is a sign that you are blaming yourself.

3. Be directive

Maintaining healthy boundaries requires direct and unambiguous dialogue. In a gentle but firm manner, say that you do not agree to …

4. Let the maintenance of the boundaries be a priority for you

When we start to protect us, changing our usual behavior, old patterns have their 5 minutes. Sometimes we may experience high level of fear, anxiety and guilt, doubts, whether we are doing well. Look at this phenomenon as a runny nose that will pass and do your part.

5. Practice self-awareness

Be mindful of your feelings in the process of learning to set boundaries. Ask yourself the questions: What has changed? What do I feel in response to my new behavior? How do I react to others now?

6. Consider the balance between giving and taking

Consider your past relationships (including those in the family when you were a child) in terms of balance in giving and taking. Can you give and receive? Is this happening in an equivalent way? Maybe you ignore your needs at the expense of others? Think about how it looks at work, at home, in a love relationship, in friendship. Or maybe others accuse you of not noticing them?

7. Recognize that your feelings are in the first place

When you accept such an assumption, it will be easier for you to function in relationships. Limits on their own will keep up and you will know how to maintain them. What you feel will be the best guideline. Contact with feelings results in a calmer mind, because this one has no doubt about what to think about a subject. Thanks to this you will be more present in relationships that will deepen.

8. Search for support

If you have trouble maintaining your own boundaries, seek help from a loved one or therapist.

9. Keep relationships

Learning to set boundaries usually ends with the fact that part of the relationship ends. They remain the most valuable. If you will be assertive towards someone and this will not destroy the relationship, the relationship will be maintained, you will have a gift. You will be able to grow in social interactions.

10. Recognize your small successes

Healthy boundaries like any new skill require courage, time and practice. Start gradually. The most difficult to set boundaries in close relationships, especially when they have been disturbed for years. Therefore, start with, for example, someone unknown like salesman. Enjoy every success and follow step by step.

 

The four stages of alcoholism development

The are 4 phases of alcoholism development: pre-alcoholic, cautionary, critical and chronic. In each subsequent phase of the symptoms of alcoholism it increases and becomes more and more intense. Nevertheless, treatment can be started at any stage of addiction development and it is always possible to return to total sobriety. How to recognize individual phases of alcoholism?

The phases of alcoholism mean that the alcohol-related disease does not appear suddenly, but in different periods they have different degrees of severity. This application was first proposed by an American physician of Czech origin, Elvin Morton Jellinek. The researcher based his conception on his own observations, which showed that every case of alcohol addiction is preceded by the occurrence of warning symptoms. If they are noticed in time, the development of alcoholism can be stopped even before the appearance of advanced symptoms of the disease. For this to happen, however, a quick and decisive reaction of the environment is necessary. Without it an addict is extremely difficult to stop drinking – left alone becomes more and more, and her/his alcoholism takes on a chronic character – treatment of alcoholism in this case is very difficult. Now, a little bit more about each phase:

1. Alcoholism phases: pre-alcoholic phase (preliminary)
The first phase, called pre-alcoholic or initial one, can last up to several years and does not arouse any suspicion in bystanders as well as a potential alcoholic. Symptoms characteristic for this phase do not differ significantly from the behavior of people reaching for alcohol on an occasional basis. The person’s approach to alcohol is decisive. Potent alcoholic, unlike people less exposed to this disease, discovers that drinking is especially pleasurable and relaxing for him. Therefore, he begins to treat alcohol as a specific means to improve his mood – he reaches for it whenever he has a bad mood, is depressed or something upset him. At this stage, he does not drink in solitude, but subconsciously seeks for the occasion – often goes to parties and social gatherings, where he has a chance to drink. With time, the reflex of reaching for alcohol in difficult moments is so strong with him that without an “auxiliary” he can not cope with the internal tension. As a result, he develops tolerance to alcohol and has to drink more and more to reach a state of intoxication.

2. Alcoholism phases: the warning phase
The warning phase begins with the appearance of the first “palimpsest”, or, in other words, the memory gap. This moment is commonly referred to as “breaking the film” – the man remains conscious (does not lose consciousness), and yet he does not remember what happened to him after getting drunk. For this phase, the repetition of palimpsests is characteristic even after drinking a relatively small amount of alcohol. In addition, you can observe several characteristic behaviors in a person at risk of alcoholism:
– accelerating the pace of drinking and initiating “queues”;
– a big change in behavior after alcohol – a person so quiet suddenly becomes the life of the party, he talks a lot, he is bolder, he gets rid of inhibitions;
– clandestine drinking – drinking glasses in secret, to quickly get into a state of intoxication, also lonely drinking before the party, to be “seasoned”;
– drinking without opportunity, alone.
The appearance of remorse is also typical of this phase. The potential alcoholic is starting to realize that he drinks too much, but at this stage he still does not allow himself to be aware that he has an alcohol problem. Instead, people try to justify themselves and rationalize their behavior (“everyone has the right to drink from time to time, I do not do anything wrong”). He responds with irritation to the attention of the surroundings and clearly denies accusations of alcoholism.

3. Alcoholism phases: critical phase
The critical phase begins when the alcoholic loses control of drinking. No plans or promises made to each other or to relatives stop him from reaching for a glass. There are still short abstinence states, but sooner or later they end up drinking again. The whole life of the addicted person begins to revolve around alcohol – her main occupation becomes planning when he/she drinks, alcohol or raising funds for this purpose. Alcoholic neglects the family, work, loses interest, stops taking care of its appearance and surroundings. His sex drive is falling. At the same time, he still can not admit to himself that he has an alcohol problem – he is constantly inventing new excuses, and reacts aggressively to criticism. The first physical symptoms of addiction appear, the so-called alcohol craving. Drinking takes on a continuous character with short periods of abstinence – in this way the alcoholic tries to prove to himself that he still has control over drinking. The rapid decline in self-esteem, a sense of emptiness and helplessness is also characteristic for this phase.

4. Alcoholism phases: chronic phase
The most advanced phase of alcoholism, in which the alcoholic gets rid of all remorse and inhibitions. He drinks almost constantly, and takes the first dose of alcohol in the morning. He is constantly intoxicated, alcohol tolerance is rapidly dropping – just a few glasses are enough to get completely drunk. Constantly high levels of ethanol in blood have a very negative impact on his health: there is a decrease in intellectual functions, psycho-motor slowing, sexual libido disorders, changes in character (disappearance of higher feelings), liver and nervous system. Each attempt to exit the alcoholic line ends with a severe withdrawal symptoms – hand tremors, headaches, general weakness, vomiting, sleep disorders, and anxiety. Chronic alcohol psychosis may occur. At this stage, the alcoholic goes back not only to typical alcoholic beverages, but also poisonous alcohol substitutes (e.g. denatured alcohol) can drink for lack of money. Due to poisoning, it is increasingly frequented in sobering-up centers and hospitals. Drinking constantly, in a continuous sequence eventually leads to total exhaustion of the body and can cause death.

Does any of the above phases describe your past behavior? It is never too late to change – remember this please.

You are free too choose

How would your life be different if… You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day – You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others.

Let go like Yoda

Letting go is the willingness to change your beliefs in order to bring more peace and joy into your life instead of holding onto beliefs that bring pain and suffering. Be kind to yourself and learn to let go.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

I would like to share with you a short meditation which I created to help manage stress and anxiety. I hope you will find it beneficial and enjoyable. Feedback always welcom!

The starfish story

If anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness, seen or unseen, the purposes are accomplished and nothing will be the same again.

Comparison is the thief

How do we compare ourselves with others?

Social psychology distinguishes between two variants of comparison. The first of them: comparing ourselves upwards concerns a situation in which we relate our own situation to people who are in a better position than we are. Mostly, such a comparison causes frustration, jealousy, and even a sense of hurt and regret. The second option is to compare yourself down. In this case, we see ourselves as a person who is in quite a good position compared to others, which is why we assume: “Others have worse than me.” Usually it is accompanied by positive emotions, relief and peace. In both dimensions it doesn’t have to be so gray and gloomy. You can compare yourself to people, even to motivate yourself or to be inspired.

Comparisons occur almost everywhere in every field. The elements triggering such a comparison mechanism can be: earnings, visual appearance, social media, social position, interpersonal relations, personal development, etc. Of course, it is worth adding here that not everyone must have some inconvenience or a noticeable impact on the present.

Possible (negative) consequences of comparing yourself to others:

– The end result: It is often the case that when we look at the achievements of others, we see only the result of success, not the effort that someone has made to reach the desired goal. This may mislead us because the real picture of the situation is blurred. Unwanted thoughts may appear: “I will never succeed,” “It came so easily to him/her.”
– Pressure: continuous comparison consumes a multitude of time. Overloading with content presented by people to whom we refer to our own situation may cause the pressure to do something that we do not necessarily need at a given moment of life. It is worth thinking about how much we spend each day looking at others, and then what feelings it causes in us. Is there motivation to act or just the opposite?
– Jealousy: Let’s imagine a situation where a loved one has what we really want. Let us use the so-called “Perfect life”. A beautiful home, a wonderful family, great work, a luxury car, traveling around the world (…) Let’s assume that we work very hard, and even half of these elements do not have. It is likely that jealousy will sprout in our head (but does not have to), which in turn may affect our interpersonal relationships with that person.
– Decreased confidence: self-confidence is a quality that everyone has. Apparently, it is the most frequently mentioned reason for various failures, life difficulties, but also for achieving successes. Some have a little more, others a little less. Either way, by notorious comparison with others, its level may decrease slightly. The combination of skills with the abilities of the other person causes a turmoil in self-perception.

Comparing yourself with others always results from low self-esteem. When we assess others as better, we lower our self-esteem. In turn, when we see others as inferior, we need to cover up our low self-esteem and often repressed shame. Extreme cases are perfectionists and narcissists – their self-esteem is so low that their whole lives are focused on repelling feelings of shame by striving for perfection in every field.

How do you stop comparing yourself with others?

– Watering your lawn: in one of the foreign magazines I read that we do not grow green grass in front of our house focusing on the neighbor’s garden, we do it primarily for our own needs. Our lawn will not look better when we passively look at gardens from behind the fence. If we focus our attention only on observing the actions of other people, then we lose time that we could invest in ourselves.
– If comparing – then with yourself: there is no better person to compare with. Through such action, we can do a lot of good for our own development and self-realization. Helpful questions can be: What can I do to become a better version of myself? How can I make my life better?
– Gratitude for everything you have: gratitude has probably already appeared on all pages devoted to development and psychology. No wonder, because it is an amazing tool that works wonders – really. Every time you focus on what other people have, remember what you are grateful for. Such a shift of attention from what you do not have to what you have can be very helpful.
– Uniqueness : a few years ago, with very close friends, we had our saying, which we often repeated : How many people, so much DNA! If I think about it now, I find it perfectly reflects my current approach in the field of comparisons. Each of us is unique, has its own pros and cons. Despite similar goals, we all have an idea to achieve them. Perhaps the roads to their implementation will be winding, and maybe quite simple. The most important thing is to often remind yourself of your uniqueness and use it in everyday life.

Start to invest your precious energy into you – you deserve it.

The bliss of flow activities

Who among us would not like to have the ability to stop time? This theme appears in many movies and books – the hero claps his hands or presses a button on the magic remote control, and the entire environment stops moving. Time has stopped. You can use it in any way you can control it, instead of watching it leaking through your fingers.

For everyone who dreams of such supernatural abilities, Professor Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has good news. It is true that time cannot be stopped, but you can feel as if it stopped or even ceased to exist. We know from our own experience that clock hands, while objectively moving still at the same speed, in our subjective feeling can run like crazy or on the contrary – drag at a snail’s pace. There are, however, such moments when we get absorbed in a particular action so that the clock and the passage of time that indicates completely disappear from our consciousness. It is only after some time that we suddenly realize that it is so late, and it would seem that only a moment has passed. Csíkszentmihályi describes this state as “flow” and suggests that only flow gives us a real sense of happiness.

Find your flow
The theory of flow, formulated by the psychology professor Csíkszentmihályi, says that a state of full commitment, when we are completely absorbed in a task or activity, is a kind of pass to psychological well-being. In other words – happiness. This state he describes as flow, which we can translate literally, as “flow”, or more loftyly: “winging” or “sensation of elation”.

This is a state known to artists and athletes. Painter or poet, absorbed in creation to such an extent that he forgets to eat and sleep, a paraglider or mountaineer who experiences euphoria while realizing new challenges. Fortunately, flow can also be found in everyday, ordinary or even seemingly boring everyday activities.

Where to look?
The trick is to discover activities that give us wings and activities that engage us completely. When we experience a flow, we get carried away by the activity we perform, we devote all our thoughts to it at a given moment, and other matters go to a distant, very distant plan. We do not do the task with the reward in mind, but action is a source of happiness because it allows us to break away from the earth.

What can make us completely forget about the world around us? This is a very individual matter. There are people who need strong sensations and therefore passionately engage in various types of extreme sports, because only this allows them to “break away from the ground” – literally and figuratively. For others, playing an instrument, running or planting flowers is enough to “float away”. Psychologists have found that monoamine oxidase, or MAO for short, is responsible for this. Its level in our body is genetically determined. The less we have it, the more we want strong impressions and are willing to take risks. It is this enzyme that contributes to the breakdown of dopamine, giving energy to seek pleasure and enjoy them.

What do you think can be your flow activity? One of mine is simply going to the beach and listen to sounds of waves. Discover your flow today!

Relationship with yourself


“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing” A. Wilson