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Monthly Archives

December 2010

2010 Holiday Stress Survival

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Long lines at the post office. Long lines at the checkout stands. Lines to get groped at airport security (it’s true, I was groped last week, AFTER the x-ray scan, no less!) Everybody is in a rush to get to a store or return home from shopping. As we inch closer into the holiday season people are getting a little more edgy, a little less patient, a little more cranky and a little less compassionate, or so it seems. How ironic that a season based on love and compassion often reveals its shadow side. I was walking my dog through the neighborhood to the park the other day and noticed one of my neighbors has a digital countdown clock, counting the days and hours till Christmas. With tongue in cheek, it reminded me of one of those red panel digital ticking bomb clocks flashing during the climax of a movie thriller. But, as we say in stress management circles, “You have a choice!” Remember, you don’t have to play the consumer game, and you certainly don’t have to single-handedly support the US economy. You don’t have to get stressed!

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Don’t worry if the Christmas cards don’t get mailed till New Year’s Day. Avoid using your credit card if at all possible (Cash only from here on out). Remember that refined sugar can suppress the immune system, so opt for fruits and veggies at the holiday parties. Fine tune expectations when things don’t go the way you wanted. Be pleasantly assertive with controlling family members! Exercise patience (waiting in line is a great time to practice your meditation skills). Practice healthy boundaries, and above all else, exercise compassion. It’s the message of the season.

One of my colleagues, Mary Elaine is hosting an online holiday stress survival presentation (see details below).
Strategies to Heal Your Holiday Spirit*Thursday, December 16, 2010**2:00 – 3:30 pm (Eastern)*Phone # and access code will be sent following registration**You’ll benefit most with live attendance during this interactive presentation. **However, I’ll also be sending ALL registrants a downloadable mp3 link of the teleclass recording later next week.
To register: http://www.snipurl.com/sw-holiday

• Links/Books/ Movies Worth Noting:
The week before Christmas, I stack up some of my favorite holiday movies to recalibrate the holiday spirit… here are some of my favorites:
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
2. Love, Actually
3. Miracle on 34th Street
4. Millions

5. White Christmas

• Quote for the Day:
“Santa is an anagram for Satan.” — Steve Martin

• Photo of the Day:
Perhaps this poor Nutcracker was groped at airport security too. Enjoy!
This blog will go on holiday until Jan 4th.. See you then.. Happy Holidays!

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

It’s All About Me: The Age of Narcissism

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Consider these facts: Today anyone can publish their own book, post countless updates on Facebook, record their own song, post their own blog, produce their own movie and gain worldwide attention, if not millions of fans, via Youtube. Reality shows are the rage on TV, from Jersey Shore (think, but not too long, of Snookie and The Situation) to Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Anyone can become a celebrity, specifically a “laptop celebrity”. Experts who keep their finger on the pulse of humanity grow increasingly concerned. The “Me” generation has now expanded over several decades to include several generations. The self-absorbed, all about me, narcissistic, in-your-face, 15-seconds of fame culture is nothing more than the ego run amuck. The problems with unbridled egos (multiplied by 7 billion people) cannot be understated! If everyone is only looking out for themselves, many people, perhaps cultures, if not the world, will suffer greatly. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than at the Global Environmental summit in Cancun, Mexico, where self-interests doomed any progress on global warming. NPR All Things Considered ran a story on the topic of Narcissism. Interestingly, the American Psychiatric Association has decided to delete the Narcissism Disorder from the DSM-5 Manual in 2013…suggesting that this behavior is too common now to be recognized as a disorder. Look out!

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Granted, you have to have some interest in yourself. After all, that’s what self-esteem is all about. Low self-esteem is no better than an over-barring ego! Balance, however, is the key. Self-expression is good…to a point. At what point is the line crossed? That is the million-dollar question! The opposite of narcissism is altruism; doing something for others without any expectation of reciprocation: random acts of kindness. Consider doing a random act of kindness today, and every day, to make the world a better place for us all.

• Links/Books Worth Noting:
Keith Campbell is the author of the book, The Narcissist Epidemic. He was also featured on NPR’s All Thing Considered.. Take a look at the link below:
http://www.npr.org/2010/12/11/131991083/it-s-all-about-me-but-is-narcissism-a-disorder

If you want to see something to life your spirits, consider watching this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE

• Quote for the Day:
“Enough about me. What do you think about me?” — Bette Midler

• Photo of the Day:
In honor of the recent Global Warming conference in Cancun Mexico, a photo of the popular Myan Chac-mool statue near the blue Caribbean waters was chosen for today.

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Soothing a Savage Breast

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Music has an incredible means to calm the nerves. We don’t take in sounds solely through our eardrums. We absorb sound through our entire body, every inch of it. Our body is, itself, a drum. The best type of music to calm the nerves is instrumental music—that which has no lyrics. It massages the brain. The right side of the brain is known as the relaxed side of the brain (right hemisphere thought processes are associated with the relaxation effect, whereas the left side of the brain steps into gear under stress). Instrumental music massages the right side of the brain. There has been much research on the topic of music therapy. Through it all, experts agree that personal choice is paramount in the ultimate relaxation effect. Several decades ago, the Mitchum deodorant company conducted a survey to see what made people sweat. While they were at it, they also asked people to note their favorite means of relaxation. Head and shoulders above all else was listening to music. Indeed, music has the most uncanny ability to influence our emotions. In a day and age where there is a lot of noise “out there” we can take back control of our lives, if only for a while, by being our own music programmer. Take time to soothe the savage breast!

Stress Tip for the Day:
Time to make a new play list! Pull out you Ipod or walk over to your CD collection and make a line up of 10-20 new favorite songs. It might even be time to find some new music to hit that spot on your threshold of musical sensations. Consider making a music mix for late night relaxation. Consider making a (different) mix for driving in traffic relaxation. Perhaps even one for getting out of bed in the morning (rather than being startled by the dreary news). You may not have control over everything in your life, but you can be the music programmer for much of your day. Why give that power over to somebody else?

Links, Books & Movies Worth Noting:
Many people has listened to music from the websit.e Pandora.com, but it comes with many limitations and advertisements. If you like to have a website to listen to (and find new) music, consider Grooveshark (see the link below). You can tailor your own line up and avoid annoying ads. Enjoy!

http://listen.grooveshark.com/

Quote for the Day:
“Without music, life is a journey through a desert”
— Pat Conroy

“We need music to restore the human spirit”
— Leonard Slatkin, 
Director of the National Symphony

Photo for the Day:
While in Ireland last summer our tour group heard several nights of live music. Simply sublime! The Irish, much like the Hawaiians (both of whom were occupied by the British) keep their culture alive in their music. This member of Cooper O’Neill was playing one night in a pub in Doolin. Enjoy!

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Walk Gracefully Through the Valley of Death

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A friend called me other day to tell me he has cancer; prostate cancer to be exact. The news came as quite a surprise to him. Young, strong and fit he is determined to beat this. As a father and husband, he is even more determined. Several friends of mine have called me this year to share similar personal news. The diganosis of cancer has that effect. Each friend sounded defiant, yet with a slight air of resignation. Facing one’s own mortality can do this. The fear of death is often called the “mother of all fears,” the epitome of stress! In it is wrapped so many other fears, including the fear of the unknown. The beauty of youth is the illusion of immortality. The luxury of wisdom over time is the irony that we know we each must die. If we live long enough to realize this, we must walk bravely through the valley of death, rather than run in the opposite direction (which many people try to do). To walk bravely in the face of death is the epitome of courage. Mythologist Joseph Campbell described this as being an essential part of the Hero’s Journey, for until we do this, we cannot return home the victor. No one knows the hour of his or her death. As the expression goes, “It comes like a thief in the night.” But we can prepare ourselves, by resolving issues, making amends and fighting the good fight. So walk through the valley of death with your head held high. Indeed, there really is no other way.

• Stress Tip For The Day:
Are there issues you need to resolve? Are there loose ends that need tying up? Are there people who need to hear the words, “I love you” from your lips? Are there amends (asking forgiveness) you need to make now? These are all aspects of walking through the valley of death with your head held high. These are all aspects of fighting the good fight. These are also aspects of living a balanced life. We shouldn’t wait to attend to this unfinished business until the last few breaths on our deathbed. To live a life with no regrets might seem a daunting task, but you can only live to the fullest when you are indeed living. It takes courage to face stress head-on. It takes courage to LIVE your life.

• Links/Books Worth Noting:
I couldn’t help think that when I was reading Andre Agassi’s best selling book, Open, that he was making amends…with himself. I never really followed his career as a tennis player, but I LOVED his autobiography. I highly recommend this book, not only is a good read, and an amazing study of human psychology, but a good lesson for all of us model…by being OPEN.

On a related theme, the Institute of Noetic Sciences has studied the frontiers of consciousness for over four decades. Here is a link to one of the current articles from their online journal. Enjoy!

http://www.noetic.org/noetic/issue-five-december/toward-a-common-spirituality-scaffolding-for-evolv/

• Quote for the Day:
“Have the courage to live. Anyone can die.” —Robert Cody

Photo of the Day:
A photo taken yesterday of a sunset on Ke’e Beach, Kauai. Enjoy!

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Healthy Fiscal Boundaries

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Consider this fact: One third of Americans say that it takes nearly all year to clear the credit card debt from the previous year’s Christmas shopping. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out something is wrong with this picture. There has long been an association between money (or the lack of it) and stress, much of it self-imposed. It’s human nature to require enough money for basic survival needs. It’s ego that crosses the line into financial stress with purchases that are unaffordable. As Gandhi once said, “There is enough for everyone’s need, not everyone’s greed.” This holiday season, consider the mantra, “Healthy fiscal boundaries!” Every time you pull out your wallet or enter your credit card # into a Paypal web page, ask yourself can I afford this purchase in cash right now? If the answer is NO, put the wallet back in your pocket or exit the web page. Before making a purchase, sleep on it (so many purchases are made impulsively with short term shopping thrills often resulting in long term fiscal stress). Healthy boundaries mean having conscious restraint with your purchasing power. Since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, American’s savings have increased from 1% to 6% by some estimates. This is certainly a step in the right direction. Healthy fiscal boundaries begin with creating a sound budget and sticking to it: Living within your means. Healthy fiscal boundaries means using cash, rather than credit cards, no matter how inconvenient this may be. Having healthy fiscal boundaries are only as good as the will to honor them.

Stress Tip for the Day:
Before you start (or perhaps finish) your Christmas shopping, make a budget… and stick to it. Consider making gifts, rather than buying them (remember you are not solely responsible for curing the country’s economy.) Time is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone, whether it’s taking someone for a walk, sitting down over a cup of tea, cooking a meal from scratch or watching a DVD and talking about it later. Much of the research being done on the topic of happiness shows that indeed, money doesn’t buy happiness. Solid friendships form the foundation for lifelong happiness.

Links, Books & Movies Worth Noting:
Every year I make a point to give thanks by giving to a charity to those people in the world who really need assistance simply to get by. Heiffer.org and Trees for Life are two such organizations that lives by the motto, “feed a man to fish, feed him for life.” Here are the links in case this might be of interest to you. Trees for life was started by my friend and colleague, Meher Balbir, for those who might remember him as a featured story in Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward.

http://www.heifer.org/

http://www.treesforlife.org/

Quote for the Day:
“Live simply, so that others may simply live.” — Anonymous

Photo for the Day:
For those of you interested in seeing what a Euro looks like, here is a shot taken while in Ireland last summer (before the country went bankrupt!) If you look closely, you will see the Celtic Harp is on the back on the 2 EU coin.

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.