Here’s this week’s SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #47.

In your native language which letter or character describes you best? Why?

M, for Mary.

It’s not that I’m just so vain. I was named after my maternal grandmother, whom I dearly loved. She was the most important early influence in my life because she loved me unconditionally and appreciated me as a child. My own mother expected me to think and act like an adult as soon as I was able to walk and talk. I often disappointed her, especially as a young child who was curious about the world and consequently asked a lot of questions and went off exploring on her own frequently. But Grandma enjoyed answering my childish questions. She taught me to make biscuits and to do other basic tasks like scrambling eggs, chores that my mother didn’t have the patience or the inclination to teach me.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Getting my nails done every 2–3 weeks. Purple fingernails are my personal trademark, and I always get the same shade.

I say that my manicures are my main extravagance because I consider books a necessity of life, not an extravagance. However, for the past couple of years I’ve been trying to use the library more in an effort to convince myself that I don’t have to purchase my own copy of EVERY book I want to read, either now or in the future.

Do you prefer exercising your mind or your body? How frequently do you do either?

Curled-up-with-a-BookNo real question here: My mind. I exercise my mind a lot, by reading and writing every day.

I do know that if I don’t also exercise my body, my declining years are not going to go as well as I’d like. The closer I get to 70, the more I realize that I need to exercise regularly to maintain strength, stability, and flexibility. Like just about everyone else in the world, I plan to get back into a regular physical exercise routing on January 2.

The beauty of audiobooks is that I can exercise my mind as I’m exercising my body. Knowing that physical exercise time does not have to lessen my reading time is what allows me to think I’ll be able to establish a regular workout routine.

List at least 5 things that make you laugh.

  1. A really clever pun
  2. A baby’s laugh
  3. Watching a young child discover something exciting about the world
  4. A fond memory of something said or done by one of my friends who’s no longer alive
  5. OK, I’m like everybody else: all those crazy cat, dog, and baby videos people post and repost on Facebook

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving week at Kalaloch Lodge on the coast of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. I love watching the waves roll in. That was a huge chunk of R & R for me, and I now look forward to getting back to work with renewed vigor in the upcoming week.

Have a great week, everybody!


Time again for SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #46.

What type of popular candy you do not like to get?

Cotton candy. It’s good for a bite or two, but after that the sweetness becomes too much. I always resent that you have to buy the whole big thing to get just those two bites, so I haven’t bought any for a very long time.

Now dark chocolate, on the other hand, I never pass up the opportunity for.

What do you feel is the most enjoyable way to spend $500?

I am very fortunate. Especially at this time of year, I’d like to donate my $500 to the local food bank to provide Thanksgiving baskets to those in need.

Where do you eat breakfast?

I usually don’t eat breakfast until lunch time. Most often I eat at the computer while checking email and Facebook, and reading news.

Would you rather ride one of the worlds longest zip lines or bungee jump one of the highest in the world? This will come with a 5-day all expense vacation.

Neither of the above. Instead, I’d like a ride in a hot-air balloon. I’ve been hinting about this for years, but so far no one has picked up on that hint. Either that, or they’ve ignored it. But I keep hoping.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Yesterday I had the three-week follow-up visit after cataract surgery on my second eye, and my eyes are all healed up. I now have a prescription for new reading glasses, which require a much less severe correction than my pre-surgery reading glasses. We are now having some sunny weather after a rainy week, and I’m grateful for being able to see colors more vibrantly now.

I hope everyone has a good week. Happy Thanksgiving to those here in the U.S.!

Psychology Round-Up

At 81, Feminist Gloria Steinem Finds Herself Free Of The ’Demands Of Gender’

In this recent interview with NPR, Gloria Steinem discusses her life and her new memoir, My Life on the Road.

See what she has to say on these topics:

  • becoming pregnant at age 22, before abortion was legal, and why she didn’t talk about her abortion until years later
  • the morality of abortion
  • the most pressing issues facing women today
  • creating a home for herself after living much of her life on the road

Rewriting Your Nightmares

According to this article, as many as 25% of adults have at least one nightmare a month. There’s a new medical treatment, imagery rehearsal therapy, that works for many people who have chronic nightmares.

Developed by Dr. Barry Krakow at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, imagery rehearsal therapy focuses on rewriting a nightmare script. During the day, patients imagine a better version of the dream. For example, one woman who often had nightmares about sharks rehearsed the dream by imagining dolphins instead of sharks. After she imagined the dream with dolphins several times during the day, during sleep the sharks also morphed into dolphins.

The article reports that image rehearsal therapy is generally brief, requiring only two or three sessions. People who have only occasional nightmares may be able to perform the therapy successfully on their own, but those “who are developing insomnia or a fear of sleeping” should seek professional help to prevent the problem from becoming more severe.

The article ends with links to some related resources.

How Stress Makes You Sick

This article by Olga Khazan for The Atlantic contains a video of a TED talk by Sharon Bergquist, professor of medicine at Emory University, explaining how worry affects the body.

In some circumstances stress is a good thing: It’s responsible for the fight-or-flight mechanism that can help us avoid danger. But constant stress, for example at work or when worrying about paying the bills, can cause serious health consequences:

To mitigate some of these health consequences, Bergquist recommends viewing your stressors “as challenges you can control and master.”

The Coloring Craze: Adult Coloring Books, 2015

Publishers Weekly reports on adult coloring books, which have been selling well in both the United States and Canada during 2015. These books are generally marketed to help adults relieve stress.

When Publishers Weekly put out a call for information about these items, they received more than 150 titles. Some of those books are named here, both in the body of the article and in a table at the end.

On Life Writing

Writing your story: the healing power of memoir-writing

I know I post on the topic of the healing potential of writing your life story a lot, but I can’t say it too often. In this well researched newspaper article Martha Ross examines the healing power of story with examples from people in a local life writing group supplemented by research results and comments from professionals.

Although some may aspire to become the next Frank McCourt, Cheryl Strayed or Mary Karr, many simply want to explore their lives and experiences, including those pivotal events that might have been difficult or even traumatic. Indeed, it is the confessional nature of memoirs that makes writing them a potentially powerful tool for emotional healing. A growing body of research demonstrates that taking pen to journal or fingers to keyboard can improve the physical and emotional health of people dealing with everything from ordinary turning points, such as leaving home for college, to serious misfortunes or major trauma, like childhood abuse, addiction, a death in the family or terminal illness.

Doctors recognizing therapeutic benefits of reading, writing

In another newspaper article, Elizabeth Hamilton explores the healing potential of both writing and reading. On writing, she mentions poet Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, who “teaches writing as a way of healing to cancer patients, at-risk youths, doctors, families and just about everyone else.” Coke’s own writing has helped her come through her own life experiences that included living with a schizophrenic mother, growing up in a series of foster homes, having cancer, and struggling with drug abuse.

Coke also points out that reading about others’ experiences, such as Frank McCourt’s in his memoir Angela’s Ashes, helps us empathize with them. Hamilton then turns to the work of Raymond Mar, associate professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, whose research has demonstrated that reading both fictional and nonfictional stories makes us better able to empathize with others.

The article also addresses narrative medicine, a movement that “has grown from the idea that both writing and reading literature can help doctors and patients communicate better and discover meaning in the illnesses they battle.” She cites Dr. John Harper, a cardiology consultant at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, who founded an annual Literature and Medicine Conference at the hospital. Harper teaches his residents that writing about their experiences is an effective way to release deep emotions:

“If you have an experience and you sit down and write about it, you can pour that emotion out,” Harper says. Purging these thoughts and emotions helps to find meaning in what happened — the death or the survival of a patient — and then allows you to move on with your life.

Teachers, Which Character Will You Play In Your Students’ Life Stories?

We are all the main character in our own life stories, but we are also minor characters in other peoples’ lives. The concept of life story is not limited to writing our own life story or reading other peoples’ memoirs.

Teacher Lori Gard demonstrates the wider application of life story to help teachers understand their students better:

We are not the only characters and players in our students’ stories. The chapters we are involved in are not the only plot in their unfolding life narrative. The setting we observe them in perhaps is not the setting they believe defines the true essence of their life. We as teachers are merely characters in our students’ stories.

Gard also implores teachers to be mindful of the part they are writing for themselves in their students’ life stories:

They all are composing their story, each and every day we encounter them, whether they be sitting in front of us, standing defiantly at the back of the room or laying under the easel. This is their story. Our verse will be significant, for one reason or another. Significant for the grief it has caused or for the joy it has brought. True, we as teachers are but one character. It might seem a small role. But we are crucial in that we are those who can make a difference if we so choose, making the verse or role we write for ourselves as inspiring and uplifting as we choose to dream it to be.


It’s time to sum up another week with SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #45.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “fun”?

Lots of things, but probably at the top of my list would be a visit to a zoo, especially if I can see some animals that I’ve never seen before. We recently took a two-week cruise to Alaska, and one of the best days was our visit to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. Another good day was our wildlife water tour in Sitka. That’s not a zoo, but it did involve seeing a lot of animals, a couple of which I’d never seen in person before.

Here are a few more activities that are always fun:

  • time spent with my husband and daughter
  • a visit with friends, particularly over good food and a glass of good wine
  • attending a baseball game, especially if my team wins
  • walking on a beach, seeing and hearing the waves roll in

What is your favorite time of day?

It is NOT early morning. I’m a night owl.

I think my favorite time of day is between late morning and late afternoon, as that’s the time when I seem to be the most alert and able to work well.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want have a evening with?

If this question means anyone who ever lived, I’d choose my father, about whom I know very little. I’d like to be able to ask him some questions and just create some personal sense of him to augment my sparse memories.

If the question refers only to people still alive, I think I’d like to be able to hang out with Barack Obama for a while. I’m willing to wait until after his Presidency is over, so he could feel free to be just a normal guy.

Complete this sentence: Something that anyone can do that will guarantee my smile is…

Say “hello” and stop to talk instead of just passing me by. It’s those fleeting moments of seemingly ordinary life that make living special.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week our neighbor and friend Dick died. We attended his memorial service yesterday. I’m grateful that I got to know him for the two and a half years I’ve lived in Tacoma. He was a special person, always eager to talk. He had a radiant smile that he bestowed on everybody. And even if his politics didn’t agree with yours (as his and mine definitely did not), he was still your friend.

I’m also grateful for the rain we’ve had this past week. That’s an unusual thing for someone to say, especially someone who lives in the Pacific Northwest, but we’ve had such a water shortage here that we needed the rain badly. In fact, we need rain so badly that I’m even looking forward to more in the upcoming week.


Since the title of this weekly challenge is “share your world,” I’m going to take this opportunity to say that we are all one world, especially when something as horrific as yesterday’s terrorist attacks in France occurs. My heart goes out to the people of France, especially those on whom the attacks had a personal impact.


November is Native American Heritage Month

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest I’ve become more aware of Native American history and culture.

November is Native American Heritage Month. Native Americans began working toward recognition of American Indian Day as a national holiday in the U.S. as early as 1915. Although a few individual states sporadically pass resolutions to establish American Indian Day, the movement did not receive national recognition until President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution naming November 1990 as National American Indian Heritage Month.

Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

The following institutions and organizations sponsor Native American Heritage Month and contribute to the web site:

The Native American Heritage Month’s main web site offers links to a large amount of related material presented by the several sponsoring institutions and organizations. There are links to exhibits and collections, images, and audio/video material.

There’s also a link from the main page to a page of resource links for teachers. But don’t let the designation “for teachers” keep you away. There’s a lot of information here appropriate for anyone looking to learn more about Native American contributions to the history and culture of the U. S.

Another important web site for information is the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), which describes Native American Heritage Month as follows:

November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.

The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

Other areas of this web site focus on policy issues, news, native youth, and partnerships and initiatives.

When the Empath Met the Narcissist

5 Signs Someone Is Manipulating You

About 10 years ago I had to break off a friendship when I finally realized how badly A. was manipulating me. I wish I had then known about these five signs to watch for:

(1) Knowing they’ve manipulated others.

This wouldn’t have helped me, at least not initially, with A. because I didn’t know about her past relationships with other people. But I did begin to wonder when I found out that she had been divorced three times.

(2) They’re the fast moving fast talking types.

A. did seem eager to pull me into a close relationship. I met her not long after my two closest friends had died, when I was looking to cultivate new friendships.

(3) They get impatient fast.

This is the one that should have set my alarm bells ringing. Whenever A. and I were together, we talked about her issues and did what she wanted to do. As long as I commiserated with her, everything was fine. But if I broached some other subject or started to talk about something that was happening my life, she’d quickly dismiss me with a cutting remark or her need to depart.

(4) They make you into the bad guy.

And if #3 didn’t alert me, this one certainly should have. Once I realized how self-centered A. was, I began trying to tell her how her actions hurt me. Her response: “Anything I do is neutral. It’s up to you to decide how you want to interpret it. So if you’re hurt, that’s your problem, not mine.”

(5) They play to your feelings.

This was the one that finally made me realize nothing was ever going to change with A. Once she learned the things that hurt, she routinely did them over and over again. And at times when one of her adult children had pushed her buttons, she’d turn on me viciously. She seemed to think that making me feel bad would make her feel better.

It took me a long time to figure out that my relationship with A. had to end because I first needed to come to two realizations:

  1. I am an empath.
  2. A. is a narcissist.

Although I usually try not to label people, in this case understanding and applying these two labels was exactly what I needed to do.

An empath is someone who feels other peoples’ emotions along with them. The empath doesn’t merely understand another person’s emotions but actually shares in experiencing them. We’re the ones who cry at sad movies and experience our friends’ grief, sadness, and joy.

A narcissist is in many ways the opposite of an empath. As psychiatry professor Thomas G. Plante explains:

You know you are around a narcissistic when someone brings all conversations back to them and their stories and interests. They really can’t listen for more than a mere moment to others (unless the topic is about them). Sure, they’ll ask about you or listen to your story or needs for just a minute but then they’ll get that glazed over or distracted look pretty fast or change the topic to something about them. They can’t put themselves in the shoes of others and can’t experience empathy in a sincere manner.

The following article explains why meetings between these two types can be so explosive.

The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath & a Narcissist.

Like me, Alex Myles realized she was an empath after she got involved in a “highly destructive relationship with a narcissist”:

The narcissist’s agenda is one of manipulation, it is imperative they are in a position whereby they can rise above others and be in control. The empath’s agenda is to love, heal and care. There is no balance and it is extremely unlikely there ever will be one. The more love and care an empath offers, the more powerful and in control a narcissist will become.

In my case, I kept trying to explain to A. how certain of her actions hurt me. The first few times she apologized, but the apology was always qualified: “I’m sorry if I hurt you” rather than “I’m sorry that I hurt you.” But before long she would treat me the same way and I’d be deeply hurt all over again.

I kept wondering why A. didn’t learn from what I explained to her. This is one of the characteristics of narcissists: They can’t learn from their mistakes because they don’t believe they make mistakes. Everything is always all the other person’s fault.

I finally realized that A.’s behavior would never change and that I had two choices: (1) to remain in the friendship and continue to be hurt frequently or (2) to exert my own right to be respected. In the end, I decided that I had to either change this relationship or break free of it. After one particularly hurtful episode, I told her that we had to talk about how she had treated me. Her reply was that she didn’t want to do that.

For a while she continued to email me, acting as if nothing had happened. I told her a couple of times that she should let me know when she was ready to talk about how she had treated me. She tried for a while longer to act as if nothing had happened, and eventually I stopped responding to those overtures. It has now been almost 10 years since our last communication.

Yes, A. treated me badly, but I continued to allow myself to be treated badly for much longer than I should have. I have since realized that empaths must learn to exert themselves by setting their own boundaries. A. was never going to stop abusing me as long as I let myself be abused. In the end, I had to require respect from her in order to maintain my own self-respect.

At first I thought I’d miss our friendship. However, I soon realized that I didn’t miss the emotional roller-coaster ride of interacting with someone whose approach to self-esteem was to demolish my self-esteem. In the end, this empath had to give herself permission to pursue self-protection.

Garth Stein on Writing

Yesterday I attended Tacoma Community College’s Write in the Harbor regional writers conference at its Gig Harbor campus. Seattle writer Garth Stein, whose books include A Sudden Light (2014) and The Art of Racing in the Rain (2008), opened the morning with a talk on how he writes. (Stein also presented a keynote address on Friday night, which I was unable to attend.)

The title of Stein’s Saturday morning talk was “It’s All About the Rock.” As this title suggests, he’s a writer who loves metaphors, and he used several of them to explain writing to us.

Here’s my paraphrased notes on the meaning of that title:

For me, writing a book is like pushing a giant boulder up a hill. At the beginning, it’s about me, the writer. I have to start pushing that rock up the hill. But once I get the rock to the top of the hill, the rock takes over and starts rolling down the other side. That point is when the rock (the story) takes over. After that, it’s all about the rock, not about the writer.

Another metaphor Stein used to describe the writing process was his advice to “write fat, edit lean.” “Nobody loves a thin baby,” he said. When writing a first draft, fatten that baby up. Put in everything when you begin. But no one likes a fat LeBron James. The writer’s job in subsequent drafts is to put that baby on a diet, to go through the manuscript with great rigor to remove excess fat, to make it as lean as possible.

He used yet another metaphor to explain plot: Plots are not guided missiles that seek out the proper plce to land; they are ballistic missiles that are launched from a certain point and then land wherever their fixed trajectory takes them. If there’s a plot problem in chapter 46, the writer can’t fix the problem in that chapter. Instead, the writer must go back to where that plot point was launched and correct the problem there. A reader builds up a set of expectations about the story on the basis of the clues that the writer launches throughout the work. The writer must make sure that the story somehow satisfies those expectations.

Writers always want to know the details of how other writers work, and the conference participants had some typical questions for Stein:

  1. Does he write in long hand or on a computer? He writes on a computer with the program Scrivener. He also has a sit-to-stand desk and does much of his writing barefoot, standing up.
  2. Does he have a fixed writing routine? He usually spends mornings attending to business matters, then writes in the afternoon.
  3. What writing books does he recommend? These:
    • Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster
    • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
    • The Writer’s Journey by Chris Vogler
    • Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

Stein concluded his talk with the reminder that writers must take the ego out of the writing process: it’s all about the book, not the writer. He also stressed that writers must be readers. After finishing a work of literary fiction, he told us, go back and reread the first chapter. If it’s a good book, the writer will have let you know by the end of that first chapter how the book will end.

Garth Stein is an interesting guy and an engaging speaker. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him in person, I encourage you to take advantage of it.


I also love Scrivener, as do many writers. You can read how I use Scrivener to manage three blogs here.

Right now the folks at Literature and Latte are offering specials in observance of National Novel Writing Month. And you can always get a free trial version of the software to experiment with.


Here’s the Halloween edition of SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #43.

If you were on a debate team, what general subject would you relish debating?

I actually was on the debating team for a short time in high school, but I think I only participated in one competition. The public speaking part just wasn’t for me.

I thought the debate team would be perfect for me because I loved doing research and was good at it. Preparing for debates was a giant research project. We had to make index cards that we’d carry in a box so we could pull out a relevant card and cite the argument and the source for whatever point we had to make. That was the part I loved.

But I nearly died of fright during my first and only competition. I then decided that I’d stick to writing research papers instead of speaking them. Research and writing I was good at. Public speaking, not so much.

What’s your strongest sense?

Vision. The way I always learned things was by making a mental picture of them. I still, to this day, know how to spell words by closing my eyes and looking at the word printed on a white page. When studying more complex subjects, I’d make lists that I would then commit to visual memory.

I’ve also always had a good eye for colors. I’m able to discern between close shades of the same general color and can call up colors in memory, which always made it easy to shop for clothes that coordinated with something I already owned.

Having just had cataract surgery on both eyes, I’m glad to have my good eyes back. I didn’t realize how much the cataracts had clouded my vision, especially for colors, until after I had surgery on one eye and could compare vision in that eye with vision in the other. Now that both eyes are repaired, the world is a once again a gloriously colorful place.

What would you name the autobiography of your life?

Wow. Answering this question is harder than it sounds. Here are some possibilities:

  • My Life as a Series of Research Projects
  • Lessons My Stepfather Taught Me
  • Finding My Voice, Finding My Self
  • No Regrets

But I think I’ll have to write my life story first to discover what the title should be.

List your favorite flavors or types of tea.

  • Earl Grey
  • Barry’s Irish Tea
  • Constant Comment

tea set

My husband and my daughter are really into learning about, sampling, and categorizing different types of tea. I’m much easier to please. I just want a cup of something warm that tastes good to me. Once I find a rut that I like, I’m content to remain stuck in it.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful that I finally had cataract surgery in my second eye and can now see colors vividly again. I also no longer need corrective lenses for distance vision and need only minor corrections for reading.

Psychology Round-Up

Why Are Old Women Often The Face Of Evil In Fairy Tales And Folklore?

In time for Halloween, Elizabeth Blair looks at why evil in folklore and fairy tales is so often represented by an old woman. Maria Tatar, who teaches a course on folklore and mythology at Harvard, says “old women villains are especially scary because, historically, the most powerful person in a child’s life was the mother.”

Here’s another possible explanation:

Veronique Tadjo, a writer who grew up in the Ivory Coast, thinks there’s a fear of female power in general. She says a common figure in African folk tales is the old witch who destroys people’s souls.

See what Baba Yaga, a monstrous female figure of Russian folklore, and Yama Uba, an old woman from Japanese folklore, have in common with the old lady in Hansel and Gretel and the queen who poisons Snow White: “Elderly women in folk tales often use their knowledge and experience of the world to guide the troubled protagonist.” Blair concludes:

old women in fairy tales and folklore practically keep civilization together. They judge, reward, harm and heal; and they’re often the most intriguing characters in the story.

Why We Favorite Tweets, According To Science

How often do you mark someone’s tweet as a favorite? And why?

Thanks to a study published by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, this year we now have what amounts to an official taxonomy of faving behaviors. Conducted by Florian Meier and David Elsweiler from the University of Regensburg, Germany and Max L. Wilson from the University of Nottingham after extensive surveys with 606 Twitter users (many long-term users), the study sought to classify the myriad of individual reasons for favoriting a tweet in order to “enhance our understanding of what people want to do with Twitter.”

Read the explanations of what the study found out about why people mark certain tweets as favorites to see if they agree with your own practice.

And what did the study conclude? “findings highlight that the favoriting feature is currently being over-utilized for a range of motivations, whilst under-supporting many of them.”

Can We End the Meditation Madness?

I used to reject the notion of meditating out of hand because it seemed too religious to me. But when I discovered Dr. Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Response, I was happy to adopt it to reduce my blood pressure. Since I performed it lying on my back in bed at night, I found that it also helped me fall asleep instead of lying awake with my mind whirring. (Placebo or not, whatever works…)

It’s always good to feel validated, so I was gratified to come across this article in the New York Times recently. Adam Grant notes “Meditation is exploding in popularity,” particularly in association with mindfulness. To discover why meditation is so popular he consulted meditation teachers, researchers, and practitioners. His conclusion: “Every benefit of the practice can be gained through other activities.” He cites a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that drew a similar conclusion:

“We found no evidence that meditation programs were better than any active treatment (i.e., drugs, exercise and other behavioral therapies).”

I’m gratified to find validation for what I discovered through my own research several years ago: with the relaxation response, I can achieve the benefits of meditating without having to meditate. As Grant says:

Evangelists, it’s time to stop judging. The next time you meet people who choose not to meditate, take a deep breath and let us relax in peace.

Are You Aware of Your Self-Defeating Habits?

Daniel Goleman, author of the seminal book Emotional Intelligence, offers advice and recognizing and overcoming one’s self-defeating habits, those “invisible emotional patterns” that are “habitual ways we react that get triggered over and over.” Such self-defeating habits “often stem from our learning early in life, and are so deeply ingrained that we repeat them over and over, despite the sometimes obvious ways in which they do not work.”

Read about Goleman’s five-step process for recognizing your own trigger sources:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the self-defeating habit.
  2. Be mindful.
  3. Remember the alternatives.
  4. Choose something better.
  5. Do this at every naturally occurring opportunity.

Recognizing your triggers is the necessary first part of cultivating more useful responses. If necessary, Goleman adds, a coach or therapist can help you develop new, more positive, habits of response.

How to Turn a Bad Day Around

Since this article is in the Harvard Business Review, it’s aimed at improving work productivity. However, the advice here can help anyone turn a bad day around for any purpose.

Amy Gallo begins the article with the assertion that happiness is a choice, according to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage. Gallo offers some ideas for recognizing the positive aspects of life even in the face of negative occurrences:

  • pinpoint the problem
  • take a moment to be grateful
  • take action
  • change your routine
  • reset realistic expectations
  • learn from your bad days to prevent future ones

In addition, she has some specific suggestions for how to achieve these goals. She concludes with two case studies that put these general ideas into specific contexts to illustrate how the principles work.

Remember: You can’t keep bad things from happening, but you can improve the way you respond to them.