Understanding Personal and Global Stress.

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Symptoms of Stress


The symptoms of stress can show up mentally, physically, emotionally or behaviorally, and within each category they cover a wide range of symptoms. There is no one list of symptoms that describes stress because the symptoms themselves are highly subjective and as varied as we are.


Stress Symptoms show up differently for each one of us.


This is because each of us experiences stress differently. A steep roller coaster dive might be enormously distressful for some of us yet the same ride can be pleasant for others. Our stress responses are also widely different. Some people blush others pale, some eat more, some less.


As you look over this abbreviated pie chart of body, mind, emotions and behavior symptoms you may begin to realize that your stress symptoms fall more into one group more than another. This may give you helpful clues for choosing stress management techniques and knowing how to handle stress in your individual situation.



7 Powerful Reminders to Focus on What Matters

Written by

7 Powerful Reminders to Focus on What Matters


What you focus on grows.
Stop managing your time.
Start managing your focus.


“Am I making meaningful use of this scarce and precious day?”

That’s a simple question Angel and I challenge our course students to ask themselves anytime they feel busyness overwhelming them.


Because excessive busyness is rarely meaningful.


And make no mistake about it—excessive busyness is a widespread, modern-day illness!

We fill our calendars and our social media feeds with various kinds of busyness, oftentimes just to avoid being bored… to avoid being exactly who we are, exactly where we are. The instant we feel a bit idle, we run off in the direction of the nearest shiny object that catches our attention. And in the process, we not only miss out on the serenity and beauty that exists within ourselves, but we also miss out on experiencing that same serenity and beauty in the environment around us. Our busyness has blinded us with “hurry” and “worry,” and the endless need to be somewhere else, doing something else, as fast as feasibly possible.


Angel and I are not immune to this either. Just like every other human being, sometimes we let busyness get the best of us—we let distractions get in the way of what matters most. And that’s the real tragedy of it: we confuse being busy with being effective. We feel a day late and a buck short across the board, because our priorities are completely misaligned with our daily efforts.


 Widespread Misalignment of Priorities


Truth be told, most of us suffer from a severe misalignment of our priorities.

In a recent survey we conducted with 700 of our course students, we asked them questions to determine how much joy they derived from their most common daily activities. As you might expect, the joy rating for work-related obligations typically fell below voluntary personal activities. But what surprised us is this:


Most of the students surveyed said many of their voluntary personal activities did NOT give them joy. For example, several of them said they derived more pleasure from time dedicated to family, practicing spirituality, or working on a passion project, than from time spent watching TV and browsing social media. And yet these same exact students admitted to spending more time watching TV and browsing social media than engaging in the activities they say give them more joy.


If anything, our student survey shined light on a rather widespread misalignment between what we do and what we deem meaningful and enjoyable. And sadly, this misalignment ultimately leads us into bouts of busyness peppered with regret.


I’m reminded of a past student of ours who was obsessed with playing online video games. These games were draining lots of his time, and he felt so agonized with regret over the time he was wasting that he enrolled in our Getting Back to Happy Course and immediately jumped on a coaching call with us in a panic. Over the next several weeks, we eased his anxiety and held him accountable to a sensible schedule that limited his video game time. And gradually, he was able to let go of his regrets and create lots of new and meaningful experiences for himself.


While we may not all share an obsession with online video games, many of us share the feelings of regret associated with wasting our time away. Angel and I speak with students every single day who do. And I’ll bet many of the people who read this article have recently felt something similar, because, perhaps, they spent an hour (or four) browsing social media or watching TV with zero return on their investment.


Some might say our tendency to perpetually waste time reveals our true priorities – that we’d rather engage in mindless entertainment over just about anything else. But that’s not true. What’s really happening is an error in our decision-making process. Our modern-day, busy lives tend to be routines of constant distraction. We think about the past and future far more than the present… we think about other people’s social lives instead of our own… we are physically in one place and mentally in another. Without conscious presence, we mindlessly occupy the present moment with low-value activities that lack meaning and joy.


And that’s why we all need to remember these…


Reminders to Focus on What Matters Most


The solution to our time-wasting tendencies is a long-term practice. It is to ritualistically raise our awareness of how we presently manage – and waste – our time. And that’s exactly what the seven mantras below (which are excerpts from our books and blog archive) are designed to do – they will compel you to steal your time back from those recurring time-wasting tendencies you’ve grown accustomed to.


Anytime you catch yourself wasting time for the sake of wasting it, remember…

  1. The quality of your life in the long run directly depends upon how you set and respect your priorities today.
  2. At times, you have to say “no” to good things to be able to say “yes” to important things. You can’t do it all. Be mindful and choose wisely.
  3. “I don’t have time,” is really just another, perhaps politer, or perhaps naive, way of saying, “It is not that important to me.”
  4. Don’t waste your time and energy fighting against where you are. Invest your time and energy into getting to where you want to go. And even if you have a good reason to be upset and resentful, let it go. Channel your energy into thoughts and actions that actually benefit your life right now. (Angel and I show how in the “Happiness” chapter of the NEW volume of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  5. Be present with what matters most. There are few joys in life that equal a good conversation, a good story, a good laugh, a good hug, or a good friend.
  6. Overcommitting is the biggest mistake most people make against living a happier, simpler life. It’s tempting to fill in every waking minute of the day with to-do list tasks or distractions. Don’t do this to yourself. Leave space.
  7. You should sit quietly for fifteen minutes today to gather your thoughts and review your priorities, unless you’re too busy, in which case you should sit for an hour. Remember this. The world is as you are inside. (Angel and I build tiny, life-changing rituals like this with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of the Getting Back to Happy Course.)

As for me, I’m off to walk the talk, literally. I’m five minutes shy taking a long neighborhood stroll with Angel and our son Mac, because, despite my busyness, quality time with them is what maters most.


I hope you’ll join me in your own way.




Sunlight, Grass, Nature

3 Hidden Reasons You’re Stressed Out All the Time


Seems like we’re all stressed out these days. From the timeless frustrations of work and family life to the utter craziness that is modern politics and online dating, it can feel like we’re drowning in stress.

And while there are certainly many unavoidable reasons to be stressed, the bigger problem is this:


Much of our stress is actually self-inflicted. And we don’t even know we’re doing it.


Obviously that’s not true for everyone, but the simple fact of the matter is that many of us have gotten into habits that, no matter how helpful they look on the surface, come with shockingly high levels of stress as a side effect.


The good news is that with a little introspection and some perseverance, you can begin to undo much of the unnecessary stress in your life. And in addition to being a little happier and more relaxed, you’ll find you have a lot more energy to effectively deal with the the unavoidable stressors in your life.

Here are 3 hidden reasons you’re stressed out all the time and what you can do to eliminate them.


1. Staying busy is your antidepressant.


Many people are either afraid or unwilling to address the true causes of their suffering and unhappiness.

This is partly because it’s not always clear. Depression, for instance, has many partial and interactive causes, from genetic vulnerabilities and inflammatory autoimmune responses to ruminative thinking styles and social stressors. So it can be understandably hard to completely understand all the causes and contributors to your suffering.


But for many of us, despite this complexity, there are at least some reasonably clear causes of unhappiness that we could work to improve:



The point is, there are usually plenty of reasonable ways to address the underlying causes of our suffering. The problem is, they’re hard:

  • Exercising five days a week, month in and month out, can be a challenge, especially if you’ve got physical or environmental constraints working against you.
  • Changing habitual patterns of negative self-talk takes a ton of work, patience, and self-awareness.
  • Committing to better sleep habits often requires giving up the pleasures of sleeping in, staying up for just one more episode, or heavy drinking on the weekends.


So I get it it. There are real challenges.


But it’s how we respond to these challenges that matters. For many people, the challenges of addressing core causes feels like too much. And so they resort to coping mechanism and “treating the symptoms”:

  • The socially anxious person avoids going out so they don’t have to worry about what other people may or may not be thinking about them.
  • The grief-stricken widower opens another bottle of whiskey to numb out the pain.
  • The guy with anger issues spends an hour and a half venting to buddies about how terrible his boss is because that’s a lot easier than self-reflection.


All of these feel good in the moment, but ultimately, they’re distractions—the opportunity cost of which is less time and energy to devote to the admittedly hard work of addressing the real causes of our suffering.


And one of the most common distraction habits we all fall into is busyness. And a subtle side effect of constant busyness is chronic stress.


See, no matter what your struggle, you probably know on some level that you need to do the difficult work of addressing the core causes. Which means, in times of stillness and quiet, your mind will be telling you this—sometimes screaming it at you. But if you’re afraid to listen and address it, you’re simply going to feel even worse about yourself.


Consequently, many people who are unhappy are afraid to be alone with their own minds. And so, to avoid the anxiety that comes from being alone with their own thoughts, they create schedules and routines that keep them constantly occupied, stimulated, and busy.


Like most distraction techniques, constant busyness “works” on a superficial level. But it never addresses any of the true causes and it has some pretty nasty side effects, one of the worst of which is chronic stress.


When you’re constantly busy, you but a tremendous toll on both your body and mind.


When you don’t make time for genuine relaxation and downtime and stillness, you pay a price. And that price is stress.


Your brain interprets constant business as a low-level form of threat or challenge. If there’s always something you “have to do,” your brain is going to keep you in a state of perpetual low to moderate fight or flight. And among other things, this means a steady stream of stress hormones like cortisol as well as chronic inflammation. Both of which are fine in small doses now and then, but they wreak havoc on our bodies when they’re constant.


When you don’t make time for genuine relaxation and downtime and stillness, you pay a price. And that price is stress.


Bottom line: If you’re chronically stressed out, there’s a good chance you’re keeping yourself artificially busy as a coping mechanism for some other underlying problem. But it’s very possible that the side effects are outweighing the benefits.


If you’re unsure, here’s the litmus test: Try being less busy for a while and see what happens. If you find that it’s extremely hard and all sorts of painful emotions and thoughts start bubbling to the surface, that’s a sign that you’re using busyness as a Band-Aid.


2. You try to manage your stress instead of your stressors.


The biggest myth we all believe about chronic stress is that you need to get better at “stress management.”


But stress management is actually a terrible solution to the problem of chronics stress because you’re already stressed! It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.


Of course, some form of Band-Aid to stop the bleeding is important if you happen to get shot. But Band-Aids should not be the primary strategy we talk about for dealing with gunshot wounds—we should work like hell to avoid getting shot in the first place!


See, when we make stress management our first line strategy, we distract ourselves from really looking at the true cause of our stress, the stressor itself.


A stressor is the thing that causes a stress response.


If you’re always stressed, the real solution is to fix the original cause of the stress not the feeling of stress itself.


For example, if you’re constantly stressed at work, you could try and work on doing more deep breathing exercises throughout your day. And maybe your stress level will decrease a little. But no amount of deep breathing exercises will change the fact that you’re still terrible at saying “no” to taking on too much work.


Feeling stressed at work is the messenger trying to tell you that something about how you work is deeply wrong. Over-reliance on stress management techniques is effectively shooting the messenger.


Stress isn’t the problem. It’s the constant stream of stressors in your life and your unwillingness to manage them that’s the problem.


There’s nothing wrong per se with stress management techniques like deep breathing or mindfulness.


The problem arises when you get into the habit of thinking about chronic stress only in terms of how you feel—your stress response.


The far more important part of the equation is the stressors that are causing the stress in the first place.


Learn to manage your stressors and your stress will largely take care of itself.


3. You lack assertiveness.


Assertiveness may be the most underrated idea in all of mental health and wellbeing. Not the least of which because it’s one of the best weapons we have against chronic stress.


Assertiveness means clarifying and pursuing your values. We are assertive when we take the time to distinguish passing whims and desires from meaningful goals and aspirations and then make the decision to pursue what really matters even if it’s at the expense of what feels good or comfortable in the moment.


For example:

  • You’re assertive when you resist that second helping of ice-cream because you’re choosing a value (health) over a feeling (desire for more ice-cream).
  • You’re assertive when you tell your family that you won’t be hosting Thanksgiving any more because you’re choosing a value (lack of stress for you and your immediate family) over a feeling (fear that your extended family members will think badly of you).
  • You’re assertive when you ask for a promotion at work because you’re choosing a value (being compensated fairly for your abilities) over a feeling (nervousness over what might happen if your request is denied).


In short, assertiveness is the willingness to make decisions based on your values, rather than your feelings. And this matters a tremendous amount when it comes to chronic stress.


To illustrate why, consider two people: John and Grace. Both of them were recently diagnosed with high blood pressure and cholesterol. And both were told that, unless they make some major changes to their lifestyle and health, they are at serious risk for a life-threatening cardiovascular episode like a heart attack or stroke.


While John and Grace are similar in many dimensions from intelligence and education to social support and financial resources, they differ dramatically in their level of assertiveness:

  • John has a hard time saying no to people because he’s terrified of being judged. His particular lack of assertiveness in this area leads to always taking on more projects and favors and tasks than he’s capable of. As a result, he constantly feels inadequate and guilty, in addition to being chronically stressed out.
  • Grace, on the other hand, is quite assertive. And while she doesn’t like the feeling of saying no to people, and sometimes feels embarrassed asking for what she really wants, she does it anyway because she knows it’s the right thing to do.

Now, if you had to guess, who’s going to handle the major stressor of a serious health condition better, John or Grace? Obviously Grace!

  • It’s hard to make time to exercise and prepare healthier meals when you’re constantly overwhelmed and stressed because you can’t say no to anything or anyone.
  • It’s hard to feel confident that you’re up to the challenge of making major lifestyle changes when you’re constantly feeling badly about yourself for not finishing the endless stream of work you pile on yourself.

Clearly, John’s lack of assertiveness is a major liability when it comes to handling significant stress. But there’s even more to it than that…


In addition to not having to deal with all the extra stress that comes from lacking assertiveness, Grace will likely reap the benefits of being assertive:

  • Because she’s assertive, she’ll be more likely to ask her family and friends for support as she tries to make some serious changes to her life.
  • Because she’s assertive, she’ll have more confidence and self-efficacy as she undertakes major changes.
  • Because she’s assertive, she’ll be more willing to take the uncomfortable step to join gym even though she hasn’t been in ages and is self-conscious about her weight.

Assertiveness is a double antidote to chronic stress: Not only does it help shield and buffer your from stress you already have, but it also gives you strength and resilience to avoid unnecessary stress in the first place.


When you have the courage and strength to make decisions that move you closer to your values rather than running away from your fears, you’re in a far better position to avoid chronic stress.

Learn to be more assertive and you’ll be well prepared to handle any stressors that comes your way.

All you need to know

Much of our stress is self-inflicted, the result of habits and defense mechanisms who have long outlived their usefulness. Work to undo these habits, and you’ll be getting at the root of the problem, which means genuine and lasting stress relief.

Stop using busyness to distract from emotional pain.

Practice managing your stressors rather than your stress.

Learn to be assertive.




Building, Skyscraper, Facade

Learn to manage stress


We all feel stress at one time or another. It's a normal and healthy reaction to change or a challenge. But stress that goes on for more than a few weeks can affect your health. Keep stress from making you sick by learning healthy ways to manage it.




The first step in managing stress is recognizing it in your life. Everyone feels stress in a different way. You may get angry or irritable, lose sleep, or have headaches or stomach upset. What are your signs of stress? Once you know what signals to look for, you can start to manage it.


Also, identify the situations that cause you stress. These are called stressors. Your stressors could be family, school, work, relationships, money, or health problems. Once you understand where your stress is coming from, you can come up with ways to deal with your stressors.




When you feel stressed, you may fall back on unhealthy behaviors to help you relax. These may include:

  • Eating too much
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough

These behaviors may help you feel better at first, but they may hurt you more than they help. Instead, use the tips below to find healthy ways to reduce your stress.




There are many healthy ways to manage stress. Try a few and see which ones work best for you.

  • Recognize the things you can't change. Accepting that you can't change certain things allows you to let go and not get upset. For instance, you cannot change the fact that you have to drive during rush hour. But you can look for ways to relax during your commute, such as listening to a podcast or book.
  • Avoid stressful situations. When you can, remove yourself from the source of stress. For example, if your family squabbles during the holidays, give yourself a breather and go out for a walk or drive.
  • Get exercise. Getting physical activity every day is one of the easiest and best ways to cope with stress. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. It can also help you release built-up energy or frustration. Find something you enjoy, whether it is walking, cycling, softball, swimming, or dancing, and do it for at least 30 minutes on most days.
  • Change your outlook. Try to develop a more positive attitude toward challenges. You can do this by replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones. For example, rather than thinking, "Why does everything always go wrong?" change this thought to, "I can find a way to get through this." It may seem hard or silly at first, but with practice, you may find it helps turn your outlook around.
  • Do something you enjoy. When stress has you down, do something you enjoy to help pick you up. It could be as simple as reading a good book, listening to music, watching a favorite movie, or having dinner with a friend. Or, take up a new hobby or class. Whatever you choose, try to do at least one thing a day that's just for you.
  • Learn new ways to relax. Practicing relaxation techniques is a great way to handle daily stress. Relaxation techniques help slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. There are many types, from deep breathing and meditation to yoga and tai chi. Take a class, or try learning from books, videos, or online sources.
  • Connect with loved ones. Do not let stress get in the way of being social. Spending time with family and friends can help you feel better and forget about your stress. Confiding in a friend may also help you work out your problems.
  • Get enough sleep. Getting a good night's sleep can help you think more clearly and have more energy. This will make it easier to handle any problems that crop up. Aim for about 7 to 9 hours each night.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Eating healthy foods helps fuel your body and mind. Skip the high-sugar snack foods and load up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy, and lean proteins.
  • Learn to say no. If your stress comes from taking on too much at home or work, learn to set limits. Ask others for help when you need it.




How to Deal With Difficult People Without Losing Your Mind

Don’t wrestle with pigs and don’t die on every hill.Don JohnsonDon Johnson



Given the political, social, and economic climate right now, tension and conflict are apt to surface more than ever.


People under stress are more likely to display a “bad day” version of themselves.

Emotions close to the surface are easily triggered.

When someone is stressed, angry, or irritated, they are less rational and empathetic — making the ability to resolve differences even more important.


What really matters in a difficult situation is how conscious and skilled you are.

My former colleague and author of the bestselling book Conscious Business, Fred Kofman, says:


“There are no difficult conflicts. There are only conflicts we don’t know how to resolve.”


Everyone has a unique story

We each have a view of the world, and it’s just that — our view. Others have their own views, which are likely different than ours.

If I am self-absorbed, I believe my view of the world is correct and everyone else is either wrong or badly misinformed. This is where many problems begin.


For example: If I’m a Democrat, I may believe I’m one of the good guys.

Therefore, Republicans are the bad guys, and I will likely discount anything a Republican says.

I don’t fully accept them or their point of view. Labeling something as bad because I disagree with it is prejudice.

This narrow-minded attitude has been the cause of wars, racial bias, political stalemates, religious prosecution, and the destruction of entire cultures.


Resolving conflict begins with accepting your point of view as just one version of the truth. There’s always another story.


The resolution will be found through dialogue, not arguing about whose story is right, better, or more complete. Both stories are right.


Accept duality


Lisa Earle McLeod, in her superb book on conflict resolution, The Triangle of Truth, talks about seeing the world in binary terms.

She calls it “either-or thinking.”

We categorize and judge people and things as good or bad.

When someone says or does something we disagree with, we often conclude they are wrong or manipulative.

Filtered through that lens, it’s all too easy to ignore, deny, or minimize their positive qualities.


While most of us admit we are far less than perfect, we often find it quite difficult to accept others’ imperfection.

If we are to handle difficult situations successfully, we must accept that people can be both flawed and fabulous.


People think you gain control of a conversation by talking. You don’t.


One of the most significant breakthroughs I’ve ever had is when I applied this principle to myself.

Not only did I discover the healing power of full self-acceptance, but I also found I was more accepting of others as they are.

If I am flawed and fabulous, can’t others be? If I can be self-absorbed and loving, can’t others be?

If I am short-tempered and forgiving, can’t others be?


Understanding the principle of duality allows us to be more open-minded when co-creating solutions to conflicts.


We let go of harsh judgments, and we open our hearts and mind to improving the challenging situations we face.


Check your intent

No one wants to be steamrolled, beaten up, humiliated, or taken advantage of by someone in an argument.

Nor do we want to do that to anyone else.


While it may feel good at the moment to prove someone wrong, it doesn’t improve the health of any relationship — business or personal.


If you know you are heading into a potentially difficult situation or suddenly find yourself in one, ask yourself: What is my intention?

Do I want to look good and be right, or do I want the best possible solution for everyone involved?


The root of many conflicts is the desire to be right and to defend your position at all costs. Life is not about being right.


It’s about learning, growing, and making peace with ourselves and others.



If things heat up, get curious

In an argument where no one is listening, someone has to stop interrupting, tuning out, or discounting others.

Let it be you.

People think you gain control of a conversation by talking.

You don’t.

You get it through inquiry, asking genuine questions because you are curious.


To resolve a conflict, you need to understand the other person’s story and why they think the way they do.


“I’m struggling to understand what your real concern is.”

“Please tell me what makes you say that.”


“I must be missing something.

Why don’t you think the project will work?”


See my article on verbal aikido, an effective way to diffuse a heated conversation, for more on this technique.


Listen not only to what is being said but how it’s being said.

Notice body language and tone of voice.

According to the research done by psychology professor Albert Mehrabian, words only convey about 7% of the meaning in any conversation.

Thirty-eight percent comes from tone of voice and 55% from nonverbal communication.


Learn to recognize the early warning signs of your emotions taking over.


If you really listen, you can pick up the story and emotions underneath the issue being argued.

When you recognize and acknowledge someone’s emotional state, you’re letting them know you’re really paying attention.

An operational or specific issue is more easily solved when someone’s emotions are acknowledged first.


“I can see you are really, really frustrated and upset right now.

You’ve got every right to feel that way, given the situation.

There’s nothing more I want than for us to get through this peacefully.

Help me understand what we can do to resolve this.”


Remember to breathe

If you can’t listen to the person you’re in conflict with, then the conflict will continue.

Being aware of your breathing will help you get centered and increase your ability to listen.


Breathe from your belly — deep breathing will restore oxygen to your body and your brain.

Take as many deep breaths as you can.


Slow the pace of the conversation down.

You’ve got to regain balance so that you can think clearly. It isn’t easy to listen when you’re flooded with emotion.


I’ve done this recently, and it enabled me to stop arguing and become curious about what I heard instead of rejecting it.

When I did that, the argument was soon resolved.


Learn to recognize the early warning signs of your emotions taking over.

If you feel your face getting red, chest or throat tightening, or your body temperature rising, your reptilian “protect me from danger” brain has awoken.

You’ve been triggered and are likely to go into a flight, fight, or freeze response.

The stress and survival hormone, cortisol, is in your bloodstream.

Deep breathing will help you come back from the edge.


Speak honestly, respectfully, and accurately

Don’t exaggerate or use grandiose statements: “You always do that” or “You never do anything I ask.” They are useless and inflammatory.


Be specific and factual.

Say what is true for you and state it that way. “I don’t agree with that approach because…”

Or, “My concern about the project is…”

Be accurate in your words.


Another part of speaking honestly is asking for what you want.

Many people struggle with making requests — instead, we drop hints, expect others to magically figure out what we want, or make demands or ultimatums.

None of those work well.

If we want to improve our relationships, resolve conflicts, and stop blaming others, we have to learn to ask for what we want, politely.


“I suggest that before you decide to spend that kind of money, please speak to me first.

Are you okay with that?”

“I really need some quiet time now.”

“I propose that we split the cost on this one.”




Be the first to apologize

If you have screwed up, admit it, and say it with sincerity.

There’s nothing worse than a half-hearted, mock attempt at apologizing: “Yeah, sorry about that. I won’t do it again.”


If you apologize from your heart, you’re not only honest with yourself, but you are also letting the other person know you recognize your contribution to the situation.

I have seen real apologies turn the tables entirely around in heated discussions.


Know when to disengage

If an argument is getting out of hand and emotions are running high on both sides, you have to make the call: continue or not.

The reptilian brain is in charge, and it’s all about survival — defend and attack.

All head and no heart.


What’s the point?

The only thing to do is to reduce the temperature.


Someone has to stop pouring fuel on the fire.


Call a time out.

Take a break.

Reschedule when everyone is more clearheaded.

Find a way to shift the energy; it can help.


If you are sitting down, stand up.

If you are standing, sit down.

Avoid one person sitting and the other standing — be at the same physical level.


And remember, choose your battles carefully. Not every hill is worth dying on.


Life is a journey to be more conscious, loving, and compassionate.

Along the way, we face challenges, and we grow as a result — learning to make better choices.


When resolving any difficult situation, we can choose to do it thoughtfully with skill and kindness, or we can fight it out.


I choose to do it thoughtfully, with skill and kindness.

What do you choose?







Glad To Be Alive The Path To Adulthood – Healing The Pain Becoming The Adult Overcoming Loneliness – Part Two How To Overcome Loneliness How We End Up In Misery How To Deal With Loneliness Emotional Abuse Test Emotional Health – What Millions Still Don’t Know Emotional Insecurity Help You Have Emotion You Have Beliefs You Have Choice You Are Enough You Are Loved You Have A Heart





The degree to which you open up to and embrace the life energy that you use as raw material for your thoughts and feelings.


Removing the gunk that clogs up and inhibits the flow of life energy moving through you.


A fusion of thought and feeling that expands your consciousness.




Tapping (EFT) for Anxiety....find new techniques!!!



What is the Emotional Freedom Technique?



The Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, is the psychological acupressure technique I routinely use in my practice and most highly recommend to optimize your emotional health. Although it is still often overlooked, emotional health is absolutely essential to your physical health and healing - no matter how devoted you are to the proper diet and lifestyle, you will not achieve your body's ideal healing and preventative powers if emotional barriers stand in your way.


Watch the video............more information here....






There are numerous symptoms of stress from each of the four groups, as illustrated by the following list of dozens of common signs of stress as listed by the American Institute of Stress.

  • Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain

As demonstrated in the above list, symptoms of stress can show up in a mind bogglingly wide range, and have huge impact and effects on our sense of self, our emotions, moods and behaviors.



What Causes Your Stress?

Understanding Stress Management




You may see a number of symptoms that describe you, and yet have trouble grasping that stress is their cause. It may be hard to think of stress as their direct cause, when often the symptom is in itself a cause of stress, and perpetually locked into a vicious cause-effect cycle.

Another reason it is hard to tell if you are "really that stressed", is because mental disorders, even full blown mental, mood and emotional dysfunctions, that were rare have now become the norm and worrisomely we have come to accept them as normal.


How would we know what freedom from stress is like it we have never experienced any other kind of existence?


We may also have trouble grasping the seriousness of stress because, well, stress is a brain killer. It impairs our judgement, memory, and much more. Neuroscientists are warning us about disregarding the fragility of our brains with regard to stress.

Our brain is only one of the systems that we can be unaware of, or worse oblivious to, being heavily affected by stress overload.



Equally important but often less appreciated are the physical effects of stress on various body systems, organs and tissues all over the body.  But we do not stay unaware for long. Sooner, rather than later, we have a serious physical, mental or emotional breakdown. 

How Stress Hurts


Evolution was pretty savvy about danger. See a saber-tooth tiger, get moving! Today, flight—or fight, if necessary—still triggers major bodily changes, such as:  read on ......

Are You Too Stressed?  Take our STRESS TEST.

Your stress reaction can boost your performance and get you through a crisis. But too much stress can lead to serious problems.

If you're concerned about your well-being, take a look at the symptoms of stress overload: 

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • loss of concentration
  • difficulty making decisions
  • inability to control anger
  • increased use of alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes or drugs
  • increased or decreased eating
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • thinking often about what you need to do

If you want to measure your stress, take our stress test.


The Power of Being Negative?

by Rishan


It gets thrown around a lot in the self-improvement field that any negative feedback should be avoided at all times. Well, research shows that this simply isn’t true! Of course, we are all sensitive when it comes to our performances or efforts but there comes a time when a little wakeup call is a good thing.

Good Negative?

As strange as it sounds, there is a way to give good negative feedback. It is something that needs to be given out carefully and should always be constructive. Self-evaluation is a hard thing to do and something you need to be brutally honest with. For example, say I set my goal to be able to jog 5 miles comfortably in a month. Now, the only way I’m going to reach that point is to build up my fitness by increasing my output on each run.

However, if I can tell that I’m not putting in the correct effort and after two weeks I’m still walking for long periods then I need to be able to look at myself critically. Yes, it’s good that I’ve stuck to it for two weeks already and that’s a definite positive. But I need to be able to say to myself that what I’m doing isn’t quite enough and I need to try more. Looking at the whole two weeks and evaluating myself constructively, I can then see where I need to put more effort in.

Picking your moment

Now, constant negative feedback is always going to be a bad thing, that much is clear. The same thing applies to positive feedback – we are never going to grow as people if we are constantly told we are brilliant and doing the right thing.

What we need to understand is that when we are evaluated by our peers or during self-evaluation, timing is everything. Choosing the right moment plays a big part when it comes to feedback. For example, if you’re trying to quit smoking and are going through a really stressful time at the office,  your ability to remain focused on your goal will suffer. By then loading more pressure on yourself through negative criticism, you are only making the goal seem even more difficult than it already is.

Negative Feedback and Goal Setting Theory

A recent study was conducted with two groups of people who were involved in environmental awareness. One group consisted of experts in their field, very knowledgeable about the subject. The other was a group of people interested in the subject but practical novices. They subjected both groups to the same test – asking them to write down all the things you could do to lessen your environmental impact. Their work was then evaluated by a group of professors, who then offered both positive and negative feedback.

Interestingly, the experts all agreed that the negative feedback was far more constructive and helped them improve their understanding. The novices, on the other hand, preferred the positive, “cheerleader” -type feedback.

This study should help us understand that when starting out with something new, we should try to encourage ourselves as much as possible. For example, when starting a diet and exercise routine we should focus on the fact that we are getting up each morning to exercise, eating less junk food etc. This will help us build confidence and continue towards our goal.

However, a person who is looking to run a marathon and is an experienced runner should be able to sit down and reflect on their training. They should be able to critically analyse their diet and exercise regime and be able to see where they are falling down. These two approaches will help both the expert and the novice improve.

Goal Setting Theory was pioneered by Professor Gary Latham.  Gary is quite simply the godfather of organizational behaviour and goal setting theory.  He has written and co-written just about every book there is on the subject and has worked in the field for some 40 years.

Basically, Goal Setting Theory is what it says on the tin – setting goals for our lives that we then work towards accomplishing. A big part of goal setting is being able to evaluate what kind of goal we are trying to accomplish. Professor Latham outlines that there are two basic types:

  1. Performance goals – where we know what we are doing and can set a definitive goal such as running a half marathon in two months
  2. Learning goals – where we lack the skills or knowledge and require time to develop them. For example, learning a new skill such as golf it would be better to set a goal like “learning to drive off the tee successfully” than wanting to shoot low scores in the beginning.

Now, constructive negative feedback will be more effective when it comes to Performance goals, simply because you are improving on an already established set of skills. Much like the study showed, using negative feedback here will help you realise where you are slipping up and you can work towards fine tuning your performance.

Learning goals can still benefit from constructive negative feedback but it would need to be taken in relation to your development. There is little to be gained from pointing out a bunch of deficiencies if you’ve only just started learning the skill!

In summary

Like most things in life, moderation and common sense should prevail here. Constructive negative feedback can be a very powerful tool in self-improvement and not something we should be afraid of. However, there is a time and place for it. Picking the right moment is almost as important at the feedback itself. There should always be a positive to any negative feedback – the person receiving it should be able to grow in a positive fashion otherwise it is purely detrimental.


Unless you live under a rock, you are likely well aware of your body's stress response!

The pace and intensity of our current global society
gives us ample personal experience with time pressure,
muscle tension, anxiety, fear, and, in the extreme, the
feeling that your head just might "explode." 

Stress researchers have called this the "fight or flight"
response because it comes from your body's ability to
get geared up to face, or run from, perceived threats to
your survival, health, happiness, success, and well-being.

The fight or flight response is helpful and effective
for dealing with immediate dangers such as a natural
disaster, car accident, impending deadline, or
emergency situation.  However, when stressors are
persistent and the stress response becomes chronic, we
suffer from a host of stress-related effects, including
high blood pressure, heart attacks, indigestion,
insomnia,  irritability, and anger, to name just a few.

We also exhaust ourselves and suppress our immune
response so we become susceptible to any and all
discomforts and diseases.

Fortunately, our bodies have an amazing balancing
mechanism--"the relaxation response."  Dr. Herbert
Benson popularized this term in 1975 with the release
of his book by that name.  In his book, Dr. Benson
details how you can consciously activate your body's
parasympathetic nervous system, your body's natural
rest and recovery mode. 

Since that time, countless self-care techniques have
been tested for their ability to activate the
relaxation response.  Among these are exercise,
stretching, self-massage, and mind-body training such
as meditation, t'ai chi, and yoga.  All these are
phenomenal practices which I highly recommend.  They
also take some degree of time commitment and practice.

Let's talk about three simple things you can do, anytime,
anywhere, to shift out of stress mode and into relaxation. 

I suggest that you practice these in a quiet, private
environment first, so you can focus your attention and
learn to do them well.  Then, you can take them on the
road and into any situation or environment to help you
find your relaxed, calm, center in the midst of whatever
is going on around you.

3 Easy Ways to Relax

1.  Take slow, deep, conscious breaths

It's a good thing that your body takes care of
breathing for you, 24/7, whether you are consciously
aware of it or not.  However, taking a few moments to
become aware of your breathing, make it slower and
deeper, and feel it inside your body is a great way to
activate relaxation.

Imagine there are two vertical balloons that stretch
from your lower abdomen up to your collarbones.  As you
inhale, imagine and feel as if these balloons fill up
from bottom to top.  When you exhale, imagine and feel
as if these balloons empty out from top to bottom.

Slow your breathing down so that you inhale to a
four-second count, pause, exhale to a five-second
count, pause, and repeat.  Count 10 of these slow,
deep, conscious breaths and feel how your body relaxes.

2. Feel the space inside your body

Researchers have found that feeling almost any space
within your body can have a calming effect.  To
practice feeling your inner body, focus on any
body-part and feel the space inside your skin.  You
might start with your hands and/or your feet.

For many people, the hands are a good place to begin
because they are highly sensitive.  Relax your hands
and rest them, palms-down, on your thighs.  Begin by
feeling the space inside one finger on one hand, say
your index finger.  Then, expand your inner feeling to
include the rest of your fingers, one at a time.
Expand your sensation to include your whole hand.  You
can then do the same with the other hand.  You can try
this with your feet as well. 

If you enjoy the practice and it works well for you,
you can expand your inner feeling to include your whole
body.  As you get good at this, it feels great!  And no
one, except you, knows that you're doing it.

My Core Energy Meditation program gives you an
excellent, easy and comprehensive practice for
doing this.  Check it out here:

3. Shift your perspective

When you find yourself caught up in stress, insert a
mental pause, and step back from what you are doing.
Observe what you are thinking, feeling, or doing at the
moment.  Witness your behavior without reacting to it
or judging it as "good" or "bad."  Simply notice what is
happening.  Realize that whatever you are doing, you
can choose to do something different and more effective.

Take a moment to imagine what you might think, feel, or
do differently that would change the situation for the
better.  Could you see the situation from another
person's point of view?  Could you listen better?
Could you express your true feelings in a way that is
not blaming or accusing?  Could you take a deep breath,
feel inside your body, and come from a more relaxed

Practice these three simple techniques often and notice
how you begin to master the stressful situations in
your life.


For more information go to:

4 Ways to Banish Stress in Less than 60 Seconds!


Streeeeeetch! It feels GREAT!


Here’s a compilation of several quick 60-second stress relieving methods you can use anywhere, anytime. Or, use them all together for a quick “stress break”!



Restoring calm can be as simple as strrreeeeetttccchhhhiiinnnnggggggg the stress out… These 3 easy yoga moves take only 5 seconds (or a little more IF you have the time) and can be done anywhere.


Begin seated, arms relaxed at your sides, gently put your head between your legs and try to touch the floor with the crown of your head.


Next, with hands placed on your thighs, stretch your body upward feeling it from the bottom of your feet the top of your head.


Finish with feet planted firmly on the floor, hold the arm or side of chair, then turn your head towards the back wall. Hold your breath for a few seconds, release all the stress and tension with a big exhale. Repeat.


Let’s Get Physical!


A uber busy schedule often doesn’t allow for much personal time, let alone 2-3 hours for a gym routine. Whether you are a high powered business executive or a super Mom juggling a hectic day of parenting, exercise is vital. But what happens when we are so busy finding a clean pair of yoga pants is asking too much? Rather than feeling overwhelmed scrambling to schedule exercise into your week, break it down into multiple intervals throughout the day. In 60 seconds or less, you can feel the benefits of a lower blood pressure and  heart rate.


Take this great advice from stress expert Kathleen Hall, chief executive of The Stress Institute in Atlanta, Ga. an educational and training firm that studies the effects of stress on the body and ways to relieve it. “Exercise relaxes tense muscles that become tight and rigid when you experience stress.’’ says Hall. “Exercise delivers oxygen to the brain, vital organs and muscles immediately and produces endorphins that soothe your mind, body and soul.’’


She has several fantastic suggestions for quick de-stressors. Have a jump rope within reach by hanging one on your office door to knock off a few jumps in between meetings. Feeling pent up and frustrated after rush hour traffic? Keep one in the car, there is no gym necessary with this technique! Rough morning trying to send cranky kids off to school? Do 15 plyometric exercises or the maximum amount of sit ups your tummy can manage in 1 minute. Using your desk for balance, do squats or lunges during a business call.



Visualize the ideal situation. Mmmmm, feels good!


Don’t Forget to BREATHE!


Do you ever notice how rapid your breathing becomes when stressed? Or the complete opposite… Totally forgetting to breathe. Stress can overwhelm our mind and bodies so completely that we forget the most basic and vital of body functions. Breathing! This almost seems impossible but it happens all the time.


Stress expert Wendy Duncan recommends a breathing exercise she calls “Heart Coherence,” “This method was discovered in the late 1970’s during heart transplant research.” Duncan is the founder of Wendy Duncan International in Redmond Oregon, which offers stress relief programs, retreats and workshops. “The key is that your heart has its own brain and intelligence. Heart activity impacts you dramatically and others around you. Synchronizing your heart and mind has immediate benefits in relieving stress.’’


How does Wendy’s “Heart Coherence” work? Tranquility is as simple as 1…2….3… Begin with your left hand over your heart center, breathe deeply with intent into your heart. Imagine stress pouring out with each exhale, calmness gently flowing through every fiber of your being with each blissful inhale. Feel compassion, joy and unconditional love radiating out of you and into the universe. Repeat 4 times for each inhale and exhale.


While in your relaxed state from the breathing exercise, let’s move right into the next step.



Visualize it!!!


With eyes closed and still in the seated position – or try laying down if possible, imagine a soft lavender hued, healing light surrounding your entire being, releasing stress or pain from every cell in your body.


Ready for another visualization technique? Try this one from Cindy Kubica, a stress expert in Nashville TN. She suggests starting with  eyes closed, hand placed in front of your body, palm up, eyes softly closed. Now visualize a beautiful glowing crystal resting in the palm of your hand. Or if you have a favorite stone available, place it in your hand. The best crystals for this exercise are citrine (healing properties), amethyst (calming) and variscite (eases anxiety). Feel the stone’s warmth and healing properties gradually spreading from your palm, up your arm, into your heart center, spreading light throughout your essence. Let it flow from your chest, up to the crown of your head, down your legs into the toes.


All of this in less than ONE minute! In the time it took to read this article you could have had 10 – 20 sessions of stress reduction. Next time, be creative with these techniques, make it fun by trying to read an article while stretching or doing arm curls with those weights you now keep conveniently near by.



Life can be hard, and it’s heart-wrenching to watch a loved one cope with crushing stress (such as post-divorce or during a severe financial crisis) especially if they’ve spiraled into depression and chronic anxiety.

It’s hard to know what to do – saying things like “come on, snap out of it!” may be well-meaning but depression is an ILLNESS, not a temporary condition. Here are some thoughtful, caring ways to help a loved one bring their life back into balance and happiness:

1. Be available, but quietly. No matter how frustrated you are (both with your inability to fix the situation and the behaviors of your loved one), NEVER put them down by reminding them that “other people have it much worse than you.” Uh, unless you are walking in their shoes, you have no right whatsoever to say this. When a person is under immense stress, they really don’t care at all about other people’s struggles. They are consumed with their own, and putting pressure on them to get over it, will not help.

Solution: Be there, offering love and support, mostly in the form of hugs and as a sounding board rather than as an advisor. If someone asks for your advice, give it. Otherwise, asking gentle, open-ended questions and just allowing your loved one to talk, is more effective than a bunch of “you shoulds.” You will be amazed at how many solutions will come up spontaneously on their own, if someone is allowed to voice what’s on their mind and in their heart!


Be available. That's the best thing.

And don’t forget, saying “I love you” makes the person feel much, much better!


2. Help them move forward – GENTLY – by infusing their life with interest, curiosity, passion and joy. Maybe set a small goal that the two of you could look forward to sharing. Go away for a weekend together. Take them to the movies (happy, uplifting movies only). Visit a museum. Go to a comedy show. When they are ready – NEVER under pressure – engage in social activities together.

Help them to be accepting of the situation – an “it is what it is and what can we do to move on?” attitude that is gentle and encouraging, but never imposing.


3. Ask them what they need from you. Sometimes you’ll get an answer – “can you please pick up the kids from school today, I’m so wiped out…” or “I’d love it if you could talk to your financial advisor on how to handle this?”

Sometimes you won’t get an answer, because they truly don’t know – they already feel overwhelmed, helpless and hopeless, so pressuring them for ANY answer whatsoever will only add to their stress. Use your intuition. Make an offer. Maybe they need your silent presence, walking hand-in-hand through the park and not offering anything but your physical energy. Maybe they need the caring gesture of a home-cooked meal. Or an invitation to a concert. Or to vent over a bottle of wine.

It may be hard for your loved one to talk, even to you. Financial ruin, divorce and other major life crises often come with feelings of shame and guilt, and it really does take a strong person to want to open up, share their role in the situation and take ownership of it. Be compassionate, non-judgmental and offer your unconditional love.