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  2. I've actually expanded the number of sub-headings in my journaling system A couple of the new ones get me to reflect on behavioural/thinking patterns that are holding me back, small optimisations I could make in my life to make it run more smoothly, a moment to reflect on the bigger question of 'why' and some kind of future goal that is taking shape. setbacks holding me back wins status reflections learnings small optimisation WHY Future
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  6. i love teh structure and reference back to your readings. Thanks
  7. Katherine - thank you for these kind words. You've certainly hit on what I am hoping to achieve. I'll leave it up to others as to whether I have. There is a lot to explore in the field and when I write I am trying to combine a mix of what I've found and what I've explored in my own life. Our field is one where you can actually do this. You can learn something about mental health and then you can bring it into your own life laboratory and try it out. Some of those experiments will work out well, some not so much. But as with all exploration, there is little harm in creating an account of it. I hope I can continue to achieve the conversational approach you describe. Thank you for reading and reaching out to give encouragement. It is greatly appreciated. 🙏
  8. 'Erudite, compelling . . . a credible and original investigation' Yasmin Alibhai-Brown A ground-breaking exploration of the neuroscience of spirituality and a bold new paradigm for health, healing and resilience Whether it's an uplifting walk in nature, meditation or prayer, there are many ways to experience heightened awareness and escape the relentless demands of modern life. The range of opportunities of this kind suggest that it isn't dependent on faith or religion, but that it's about a different mode of living; an innate spirituality. Lisa Miller has spent decades researching the effects of spirituality on the brain. In this book she draws on her clinical experience and award-winning research to show how an active spiritual life can transform our physical and psychological wellbeing. Bringing scientific rigour to the most intangible aspect of our lives, Miller offers insights into the neurological basis for the increased resilience that comes with nurturing spirituality and highlights its measurable positive effects: decreasing the likelihood of depression and substance abuse, and shifting the course of recovery in many other clinical settings. Woven throughout is Miller's personal story of how, while confronting her own challenges, her professional pragmatism gave way to a greater appreciation of insights that are important to so many people and yet so often dismissed as unscientific. Brimming with inspiration and compassion, this landmark book will revolutionize your understanding of spirituality, mental health and how we find meaning and purpose in life.
  9. Hi Gareth I wanted to comment, not on this journaling method, which however sounds very helpful, because it manages to be incisive without being burdensome, but rather on the humility with which your blog is always written. It is such a common mistake among writers to assume that the use of the first person singular automatically renders one’s writing fascinating (because I am so fascinating, see for example Susan Mitchell or John Mortimer). It is not, of course, the small self, the thing called by my name, the individual identity, that is fascinating, but rather the experience of being human. The proper use of the first person singular in writing or blogging therefore is as a vehicle to explore that experience. The idea is that, since we are both in this strange terrain of human nature, whatever happened to me here could equally well happen to you, so it may be of use to you if I examine it. The aim is to help you understand your experience, not mine. The ego disappears. I’ve been struck by this approach in your blog posts: here’s something I ran across that could help you; here’s something I wrestle with that you might too, can I be of help? It’s how collegial conversation, including peer supervision, should be. It conveys respect for the reader, and it invites them to be open and non-defensive too. I’m sure that although most of your readers don’t comment, many of them appreciate this about your work.
  10. Find your voice, speak your truth, listen deeply--a guide to having more meaningful and mindful conversations through nonviolent communicationWe spend so much of our lives talking to each other, but how much are we simply running on automatic--relying on old habits and hoping for the best? Are we able to truly hear others and speak our mind in a clear and kind way, without needing to get defensive or go on the attack? In this groundbreaking synthesis of mindfulness, somatics, and Nonviolent Communication, Oren Jay Sofer offers simple yet powerful practices to develop healthy, effective, and satisfying ways of communicating.The techniques in Say What You Mean will help you to:- Feel confident during conversation- Stay focused on what really matters in an interaction- Listen for the authentic concerns behind what others say- Reduce anxiety before and during difficult conversations- Find nourishment in day-to-day interactions"Unconscious patterns of communication create separation not only in our personal lives, they also perpetuate patterns of misunderstanding and violence that pervade our world. With clarity and great insight, Oren Jay Sofer offers teachings and practices that train us to speak and listen with presence, courage, and an open heart." --Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge
  11. "A warm, profound and cleareyed memoir. . . this wise and sympathetic book's lingering effect is as a reminder that a deeper and more companionable way of life lurks behind our self-serious stories.--Oliver Burkeman, New York Times Book Review A remarkable exploration of the therapeutic relationship, Dr. Mark Epstein reflects on one year's worth of therapy sessions with his patients to observe how his training in Western psychotherapy and his equally long investigation into Buddhism, in tandem, led to greater awareness--for his patients, and for himself For years, Dr. Mark Epstein kept his beliefs as a Buddhist separate from his work as a psychiatrist. Content to use his training in mindfulness as a private resource, he trusted that the Buddhist influence could, and should, remain invisible. But as he became more forthcoming with his patients about his personal spiritual leanings, he was surprised to learn how many were eager to learn more. The divisions between the psychological, emotional, and the spiritual, he soon realized, were not as distinct as one might think. In The Zen of Therapy, Dr. Epstein reflects on a year's worth of selected sessions with his patients and observes how, in the incidental details of a given hour, his Buddhist background influences the way he works. Meditation and psychotherapy each encourage a willingness to face life's difficulties with courage that can be hard to otherwise muster, and in this cross-section of life in his office, he emphasizes how therapy, an element of Western medicine, can in fact be considered a two-person meditation. Mindfulness, too, much like a good therapist, can "hold" our awareness for us--and allow us to come to our senses and find inner peace. Throughout this deeply personal inquiry, one which weaves together the wisdom of two worlds, Dr. Epstein illuminates the therapy relationship as spiritual friendship, and reveals how a therapist can help patients cultivate the sense that there is something magical, something wonderful, and something to trust running through our lives, no matter how fraught they have been or might become. For when we realize how readily we have misinterpreted our selves, when we stop clinging to our falsely conceived constructs, when we touch the ground of being, we come home.
  12. Early this year as part of my preparations for what I knew would be a busy year, I developed a simple journaling ritual. I do this in the morning, before kicking off my work for the day. It is part of a bigger ritual in which I clarify the tasks I need to do for the upcoming day/week. I do it online in an app called Workflowy which I also use to manage my to-do lists. I’ve long since abandoned the art of writing by hand. My handwriting is terrible. My journaling method is very basic. It takes me only a couple of minutes. It consists of little more than about 5 sentences. Those five sentences address five reflection points that I’ve surmised from the research have potential value. What setbacks I am currently facing – I took this from Stoic practices described by William Irvine that focus one’s attention on solving problems, rather than lamenting them. The goal is to articulate the setback/challenge and then focus on developing solutions from a place of equanimity, rather than stress or anxiety. What wins I’ve had and things I am grateful for – I took this from gratitude practices that encourage us to take note of the good things in life. These can range from the very small (I enjoyed my breakfast), the social (someone was kind) to the big milestone events (a project is completed). How I am feeling at the time of writing – I took this from the mood monitoring literature that suggests insights can be gained from assessing one’s mood regularly. I also do this because I have noted that my emotion vocabulary is quite limited. Getting an emotions chart can help you locate better the word to describe how you are feeling. Things I’ve been reflecting on in terms of lessons about my self – I took this (tangentially) from the education literature which suggests self-reflection is a powerful avenue for learning. The goal is some kind of actionable insight about my strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, personality. What I’ve learned recently that was interesting – I do this to try and ensure that I am staying open to learning new things. This is particularly easy as I often use the walk before my journaling time to listen to podcasts. Usually 1 big idea or concept stands out from each podcast. So a journal entry might look something like: Don’t worry if that doesn’t really make sense to you. It makes sense to me and that is what is important. If you were to develop a basic journaling practice, what would it look like? I’ve written about self-reflection/writing exercises that promote health before. You might get some clues from that. But let’s face it, there are thousands of articles online about journaling that provide you with clues on ‘how-to’ do it. Everyone has their method that they feel promotes clear thinking and productivity. The bigger question you need to ask yourself is ‘why’ you would do it. For me, journaling is a way of grounding myself in the present moment before kicking off the day. I can take stock of my life, how I feel and what is consuming my thought bandwidth before setting my tasks for the day. It is equal parts wellbeing strategy and productivity tool. Steal it if you like it. Ignore it if you don’t.
  13. A groundbreaking, comprehensive program for designing effective and socially equitable groups of all sizes- from businesses and social justice groups to global organisations.Whether you work in business or schools, volunteer in neighbourhoods or church organisations, or are involved in social justice and activism, you understand the enormous power of groups to enact powerful and lasting change in the world. But how exactly do you design, build, and sustain effective groups?Based on the work of Nobel Prize winning economist Elinor Ostrom and grounded in contextual behavioural-science, evolutionary science, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), Prosocial presents a practical, step-by-step approach to help you energise and strengthen your business or organisation. Using the Prosocial model, you'll learn to design groups that are more harmonious, have better member or employee retention, have better relationships with other groups or business partners, and have more success and longevity.Most importantly, you'll learn to target the characteristics that foster cooperation and collaboration-key ingredients for any effective group.
  14. An eye-opening journey into the power of human movement and how we can harness it to optimize our brain health, boost our mood and improve every aspect of our lives For our earliest ancestors who hunted and gathered, movement meant survival. Our brains evolved to reward physical activity. Moving, thinking and feeling have always been inextricably linked. Yet what happens when we stop moving? Today, on average, we spend around 70 percent of our lives sitting or lying completely still. Our sedentary lifestyle--desk jobs, long commutes and lots of screen time--is not only bad for our bodies. It can also result in anxiety, depression and a lower overall IQ. But there's good news. Even the simplest movements can reactivate our bodies and open up a hotline to our minds, improving our overall well-being and longevity. And we don't have to spend countless hours in the gym. In fact, exercise as we understand it misses the point. Veteran science journalist Caroline Williams explores the cutting-edge research behind brain health and physical activity, interviewing scientists from around the world to completely reframe our relationship to movement. Along the way she reveals easy tricks that we could all use to improve our memory, maximize our creativity, strengthen our emotional literacy and more. A welcome counterpoint to the current mindfulness craze, Move offers a more stimulating and productive way of freeing our caged minds to live our best lives.
  15. Gareth Furber

    How to Change

    The groundbreaking blueprint to help you and those around you to achieve super-human personal and professional goals, from the master of behaviour changeHow to Change is a powerful, groundbreaking blueprint to help you - and anyone you manage, teach or coach - to achieve personal and professional goals, from the master of human nature and behaviour change and Choiceology podcast host Professor Katy Milkman.Award-winning Wharton Professor Katy Milkman has devoted her career to the study of behaviour change. An engineer by training, she approaches all challenges as problems to be solved and, with this mind-set, has drilled into the roadblocks that prevent us from achieving our goals and breaking unwanted behaviours. The key to lasting change, she argues, is not to set ever more audacious goals or to foster good habits but to get your strategy right.In How to Change Milkman identifies seven human impulses, or 'problems', that commonly sabotage our attempts to make positive personal and professional change. Then, crucially, instead of getting you to do battle with these impulses she shows you how to harness them and use these as driving forces to help instil new, positive behaviours - better, faster and more efficiently than you could imagine.Drawing her own original research, countless engaging case studies and practical tools throughout to help you put her ideas into action, Milkman reveals a proven, inspiring path that can take you - once and for all - from where you are today to where you want to be.About the AuthorKaty Milkman is a behavioural scientist and Professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the course of her career, she has worked with or advised dozens of organisations on how to encourage positive change, including Google, the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Red Cross and Morningstar. Her research is regularly featured by major media outlets, such as the New York Times , the Wall Street Journal and NPR.She currently co-directs the Behavior Change for Good Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania and hosts Choiceology, a popular Charles Schwab podcast about behavioural economics.
  16. Gareth Furber

    Rebel Talk

    'I’m absolutely delighted Jane’s now sharing some of her observations and secrets about the craft of conversation, listening and interviewing in this book, Rebel Talk.’ —Sir David Suchet CBE'If you ever have to conduct a formal interview, if you are ever likely to be interviewed (for a new job, perhaps), or even if you want to have more meaningful conversations with your kids, Jane Hutcheon’s Rebel Talk will be an invaluable guidebook. Engaging, amusing and illuminating, the book draws on Jane’s rich experience in the art of guided conversations and distils the wisdom acquired from her brilliant career in journalism.' —Hugh Mackay AO'Have you ever tried slicing the top off a soft-boiled egg? The eggshell splinters and separates. It never looks as neat as you intended and the yolk starts to drip over the edge. It’s a bit like that when a conversation goes wrong; it’s unpredictable and messy ...'What does it mean to communicate well, and how do we do it? With a bit of reflection and practice, we can all elevate our conversations to a new realm: solving complex problems, producing inspiring ideas, adding value … and even preventing space-flight disasters. This is what Jane Hutcheon calls, Rebel Talk.In Rebel Talk: the art of powerful conversations, one of Australia’s best-known communicators lifts the lid on what it takes to have powerful conversations. Full of memorable anecdotes and short, sharp, practical advice, this gem of a book will help you find your inner rebel and transform your conversations.About the AuthorJane Hutcheon is a journalist, author and former China correspondent who’s reported from some of the most volatile, exotic and fascinating places on Earth. From 2010-2019 she was creator and host of ABCTV’s One Plus One conducting in-depth conversations with more than 500 celebrities, authors, thinkers and everyday heroes. She’s written several books. Her latest book is Rebel Talk: the art of powerful conversations.
  17. A powerful CBT approach to help you find freedom from obsessive relationship anxiety, doubt, and fear of commitment Do you obsess over your partner's flaws? Does thinking about the future of your relationship leave you imagining the worst-case scenario? When it comes to navigating the world of romantic relationships, some feelings of anxiety, doubt, and fear are to be expected. But if your fears so extreme that they threaten to destroy an otherwise healthy relationship, you may have relationship OCD-a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that causes chronic obsessive doubt and anxiety in relationships. So, how can you free yourself to discover deeper intimacy and security? Relationship OCD offers an evidence-based, cognitive behavioral approach to finding relief from relationship anxiety, obsessive doubt, and fear of commitment. You'll learn to challenge the often-distorted thought patterns that trigger harmful emotions, increase your ability to think rationally, and ultimately accept the presence of intrusive thinking while maintaining the values of a healthy relationship. Relationships are the ultimate unknown. If you're ready to let go of needing to know for sure, this book will help you find satisfaction and thrive in your romantic relationships-in all their wonderful uncertainty.
  18. The future of psychology is process-based. This groundbreaking workbook offers concrete strategies for utilizing the core competencies of process-based therapy, and provides step-by-step guidance for formulating effective treatment plans. For decades, evidence-based mental health treatments have been defined in terms of scientifically validated protocols focused on syndromes. Many therapies-including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-have historically been identified with that approach, but this is rapidly changing. A process focus is now emerging for a number of methods within the family of CBT, as the era of "protocols for syndromes" passes away. Written by renowned psychologists Steven C. Hayes and Stefan G. Hofmann, The Process-Based Therapy Workbook will show you how to utilize the core competencies of process-based therapy (PBT) in a way that honors the behavioral, cognitive, and acceptance and mindfulness wings of CBT. In the workbook, you'll find a comprehensive road map to the theoretical foundations of PBT, as well as step-by-step guidance to help you formulate treatment plans that address the unique needs of each client-leading to better therapeutic outcomes. Whether you are a clinician or a student of the behavioral sciences, this workbook offers everything you need to understand and implement PBT in your work.
  19. An innovative approach to help you maintain your high standards while also accepting mistakes with compassion and kindness. If you're a perfectionist, you know there's a helpful upside to pushing yourself toward excellence: achievement, success-and, hey, it can be fun and rewarding to work hard! But unhelpful perfectionism can just as easily work against you. It can prevent you from taking risks or trying new things out for fear of failure, judgment, or rejection; cause you to procrastinate; and make you feel like no matter what you achieve, you'll never be good enough. Grounded in evidence-based acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), this workbook will help you discover what drives this 'dark side' of perfectionism, and develop the skills you need to overcome it-without lowering your standards. By leaning in to your values and treating yourself with kindness and compassion, you'll learn to put mistakes in perspective without wallowing in self-criticism. Most importantly, you'll find that you can allow for imperfection, without losing your drive to achieve. If you're ready to stop unhealthy perfectionism from paralyzing your personal growth-and start embracing yourself as perfectly imperfect-this book will introduce you to a whole new you! Congrats @Jennifer Kemp!!
  20. Trauma-Focused ACT (TFACT) provides a flexible, comprehensive model for treating the entire spectrum of trauma-related issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, moral injury, chronic pain, shame, suicidality, insomnia, complicated grief, attachment issues, sexual problems, and more. Written by internationally acclaimed ACT trainer, Russ Harris, this textbook is for practitioners at all levels of experience, and offers exclusive access to free downloadable resources-including scripts, videos, MP3s, handouts, and worksheets. Discover cutting-edge strategies for healing the past, living in the present, and building a new future. With this compassion-based, exposure-centered approach, you'll learn how to help your clients: * Find safety and security in their bodies * Overcome hyperarousal and hypoarousal * Break free from dissociation * Shift from self-hatred to self-compassion * Rapidly ground themselves and reengage in life * Unhook from difficult cognitions and emotions * Develop an integrated sense of self * Resolve traumatic memories through flexible exposure * Connect with and live by their values * Experience post-traumatic growth
  21. Get started on the path to a longer, healthier, happier life with this quick start to building your own Blue Zones lifestyle. Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones and author of the New York Times number one best-selling Blue Zones Kitchen, offers the challenge of a lifetime in The Blue Zones Challenge: Build a foundation for better nutrition, more exercise, and a stronger social life that will extend your lifetime by years.
  22. In times of intense stress and anxiety, you need instant relief. Breathe In Calm offers powerful neuroscience-based strategies grounded in mindfulness and yogic breathing to help you find the peace you deserve. Anxiety affects all aspects of life—including career, family, and relationships. And if you have anxiety, you may feel helpless against your symptoms, and a victim to their impact. But nothing could be further from the truth. You are stronger than your anxiety, and you have all the resources you need to manage it. You just need to learn how to use them. This practical guide will empower you to take charge of your anxiety, so you can take charge of your life. In Breathe in Calm, a neuroscientist and yoga expert offers powerful tips to help you identify when anxiety is rising, so you can stop feeling helpless and start being proactive. You’ll find calming tools—including yogic breathing, mindfulness, and acceptance—to actively soothe your nervous system and regulate your physical and emotional state. You’ll also learn ways to stay calm in the moment, develop confidence, and courageously move forward in pursuing the life you desire. This anti-anxiety tool kit includes: Yogic breathing practices and easy postures to soothe the body and mind Mindfulness and acceptance tools to help you stay grounded and focused on what matters Tools to help you gain awareness of the habits driving your anxiety Kindness and compassion tools for self-care Tons of downloadable guided meditations and songs Anxiety doesn’t have to run your life. If you’re ready to breathe in calm, and breathe out stress, worry, and anxiety—this book will show you how to get started right away.
  23. In today's socially and politically divided climate, anger is on the rise-even boiling over into violence. Anger is a natural human emotion, but chronic, uncontrollable anger can poison all aspects of personal and professional life. In The ACT Workbook for Anger, renowned acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) expert Robyn Walser helps readers who are trapped and struggling with anger to unlock their capacity for acceptance, mindfulness, kindness, and compassion.A much-needed, comprehensive program for managing anger in a world of triggers, trolls, and outrage.Everyone gets angry from time to time. Anger is a natural human emotion, but it can often boil over and wreak havoc in your personal and professional life. If you struggle with chronic, uncontrollable anger, you need help now-especially in these times of increasing volatility. This workbook can get you started.Written by renowned acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) experts, The ACT Workbook for Anger offers a comprehensive anger management program designed especially for navigating the current social and political climate. You'll discover the secret to unlocking your capacity for acceptance, mindfulness, kindness, and compassion. You'll also learn to apply these newfound skills to break anger's stranglehold so you can pause, take a deep breath, and create the space you need to react in a more thoughtful way.Managing anger has never been more challenging. Everywhere you look, people are on edge and volatile. This book will show you how to navigate these challenging times with kindness and compassion for yourself and others.
  24. From pioneering treatment developers, this is the authoritative presentation of recovery-oriented cognitive therapy (CT-R). This evidence-based approach empowers people given a serious mental health diagnosis such as schizophrenia to build a better life in their chosen community. CT-R provides innovative strategies to help individuals shift from a "patient" mode to an adaptive mode of living and take positive steps to pursue valued aspirations. Vivid case vignettes and sample dialogues illustrate ways to access the adaptive mode with people experiencing negative symptoms, delusions, hallucinations, communication difficulties, self-harming or aggressive behavior, and other challenges. In a convenient large-size format, the book includes reproducible handouts and forms. Purchasers get access to a companion website where they can download and print the reproducible materials, plus two online-only tip sheets relevant to COVID-19 and telehealth, and find a link to related videos.
  25. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of dementia, to delay its onset, and to ease the journey if the condition does occur. Over 400,000 Australians are currently living with dementia, yet misunderstanding about the condition is widespread. Few people realise they can take action to lessen their chances of it developing. There are also effective interventions and treatments now available to address dementia-related symptoms. Dr Kailas Roberts works as a specialist in memory loss and dementia. In Mind Your Brain he brings a wealth of knowledge from his medical practice and presents it in plain and accessible language. He explains how dementia affects the brain and body, what to expect in the event of a diagnosis, and how to manage each step along the way. Including an important list of support resources, Mind Your Brain is an invaluable guide for people with dementia, their carers and loved ones, and for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy brain.
  26. From the constant pull of technology to the 24-hour news cycle to the overwhelming demands of work, our ability to concentrate is being strained as never before. We're all suffering from a collective attention deficit disorder that is leaving us feeling scattered, overwhelmed, and anxious - yet unable to resist distractions like emails, Zoom calls, or new texts or notifications. We actually use 100 per cent of our attention at every waking moment, but Dr Jha has discovered that unless we create room in our minds through specific and targeted daily practice, we cannot control what captures our attention leaving us vulnerable to every distraction, an experience she calls attention degradation. Peak Mind introduces the one cognitive training technique proven to improve attention and performance: mindfulness training. Dr Jha explains exactly how to implement this twelve-minute-a-day training program into daily life. Honed and proven in her lab, this revolutionary program will help you learn to ignore distractions and take control of your attention. Smart and accessible, interweaving science and illustrative stories from high-level people who've successfully used her techniques, Peak Mind debunks common assumptions and offers stunning new tools to radically improve our lives.
  27. A compassionate guide to help you manage OCD symptoms, overcome feelings of shame and stigma, and revitalize your life!If you're one of millions who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you're all-too-familiar with feelings of anxiety, panic, shame, and uncertainty. In addition, the stigma associated with OCD can make you feel unworthy of receiving the compassion and kindness you need and deserve. You may even experience unwanted intrusive thoughts that result in harsh self-judgment-which can actually hinder your recovery and lead to additional mental health problems. So, how can you break this destructive cycle and start feeling better?The Self-Compassion Workbook for OCD outlines a step-by-step program to help you understand the emotional experience of OCD, and develop the tools you need to manage your disorder and build a better life. Drawing on a powerful combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure and response prevention (ERP), and compassion-focused therapy (CFT), this breakthrough guide will teach you how to balance intense emotions, lean into your fear, and focus on recovery. Over time, you'll learn to replace self-judgment with kindness and self-compassion, so you can stop suffering and start thriving.Living with OCD can be extremely challenging, but it doesn't have to rob you of your self-worth. You are so much morethan your disorder! Let this book be your guide to discovering, supporting, and loving the best you that you can be.
  28. From the bestselling author of THE RESILIENCE PROJECT comes this deeply personal book about the importance of letting go.If ever there was a time for us to be resilient, it was when a deadly virus emerged and engulfed the planet. As death rates soared and lockdowns radically altered our lives, The Resilience Project founder Hugh van Cuylenburg was one of the people Australia turned to for advice on how to cope. Under pressure to deliver good news during a historic crisis, it didn't take long for the Melbourne-based educator to realise he wasn't coping.Like millions of others around the world, Hugh was forced to reassess life during the pandemic as COVID-19 undermined our sense of safety, strangled our personal connections and saw levels of happiness plunge. After taking the time to address his own feelings, Hugh recognised he was being hamstrung by the same powerful issues that affect the lives of many- shame, expectation, ego, fear of failure, the quest for perfection and control, and our addiction to social media.In this follow-up to the bestselling The Resilience Project- Finding happiness through gratitude, empathy and mindfulness, Hugh combines powerful insight with research and his own disarming and candid storytelling to show how it is possible to create authentic connections, cope better during challenging times and rediscover joy.
  29. In programs like Be Well Plan, Mindfulness for Academic Success and Studyology that we deliver at Flinders university, we teach students how to use mindfulness to improve wellbeing, improve academic performance and tackle procrastination. We do this on the basis of a growing literature suggesting mindfulness as a helpful strategy across a range of psychological outcomes and with benefits specifically to students. Often when I am teaching mindfulness I tend to focus on the present moment component. This is typically done by bringing one’s attention to experiences in the ‘right now’ – the senses, the breath, the flow of thought, the feelings and sensations in the body. The idea is to give a person the experience of being able to remove themselves from being lost in experience, to being the observer of one’s experience. That shift can then be used as the foundation for a range of different meditative actions and benefits: increased compassion, increased self-understanding, increased relaxation, improved emotional regulation, focus on the task at hand and more. An aspect of mindfulness that I have generally neglected though is that when we bring our attention to the present moment, we can bring with it a specific attitude. The standard instruction is to bring a non-judgemental attitude. To not admonish oneself for the thoughts, feelings, memories, sensations that arise in the process. To judge or evaluate what arises is to be lost in it and that is something we are trying to counter. But it is possible to bring other attitudes to mindfulness activities. Common ones include compassion (caring and kindness), curiousity (I wonder what will show up next), calm (unreactive, grounded). I’ve got more interested in this notion of the ‘attitude we bring to the present moment’ as a result of delving a little bit into stoic philosophy. I apologise for not being able to recall where I heard this idea, but it has stuck. The idea is that in moments of stress or setback or difficulty, we can make a conscious decision to bring a certain attitude and approach to the moment. This is an antidote to the automatic, reflexive response we might bring. For example, left to my own automatic responses, I will typically bring attitudes of anger and righteousness to the experience of driving (it’s why people who know me, don’t like to drive with me). That leads me to notice infractions of others, to be critical of people’s driving choices, to get angry and resentful for bad driving behaviour. Basically to be an asshole. But I can make a decision, as I back out of the driveway to bring another attitude to the driving experience. I can bring curiosity (take note of my surroundings), kindness (recognise that everyone is just going on their way, doing their best) or calm (listen to nice music and enjoy the sunshine through the window). I can be deliberate about bringing another Gareth to the driving experience. We can do this with other stressful moments in our life. We can stop, notice the swelling stress or anxiety (as we interpret the situation as stressful) and invite ourselves to bring another version of us to the situation. A calmer version, a kinder version. A less self-critical version. A problem-solving/industrious version. Now that doesn’t mean those other feelings won’t arise or we still won’t find ourselves lost in the experience again, with all our automatic negative responses in tow. But it does remind us that we have the capacity to bring a different ‘self’ to those difficult moments and that maybe there is value in doing this regularly enough until it starts to unseat our automatic responses. As we head into the exam period and things heat up (academically and weather speaking), notice what version of you shows up automatically to stressful moments (e.g. exam revision) and then consider what other versions of you could show up. Practice the art of bringing a different you to situations where automatic you might be holding you back.
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