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Monthly Archives

July 2012

A Vote for Optimism

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Watching the London Olympics this weekend brought back many fond memories of my sport psychology work with many summer and winter Olympic athletes decades ago.  I am reminded that at that level of competition, what separates the medalists from those close behind is one’s mental attitude… in the face of adversity. It’s called “mental training.”  Not only does mental training include meditation (increased focus and concentration), mental rehearsal; mental imagery and visualization, Team dynamics and confidence building, but also a heavy dose of optimism. Perhaps it’s no secret that these same attributes are necessary for each and every one of us, whether we are headed for Olympic competition, or headed to work on Monday morning. Research reveals that an optimistic attitude is also good for the immune system. Optimism isn’t a denial of reality. It’s the fulfillment of your highest potential.
Stress Tip for the Day:
Optimism is more than silver linings and lemonade. It’s a knowing that in the end, it will all work out wonderfully. But our positive attitude is what gets us there. Make a habit of looking for the good in things today.  While you are at it, look for the good in each person as well. When you see/meet someone whom you meet resistance with, have compassion that the dark cloud over their head has momentarily eclipised their light within.
Links, Books and Movies Worth Noting:
Here is a great article on the topic of Optimism from TIME magazine 2011:
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2074067,00.html
 
Quotes for the Day:
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” —Winston Churchill
“Choose to be optimistic; it feels better.” —The 14 Dalai Lama
Photo for the Day:
Hot off his victory in the 400 meter IM, Ryan Lochte is the new poster boy for optimism; a reminder for all of us to strive for our highest potential. Go Ryan!
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 12 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 (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Perfections vs. Excellence

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I have a friend who’s a great musician, yet he he has yet to cut an album because he’s afraid it won’t be perfect. Likewise, I have a friend who hopes to publish several books (she’s been trying for years), yet something keeps holding her back from finishing the final draft much less submitting it to a publisher. That something deals with her hopes for the “perfect” book. After a few decades under my belt, I feel fairly confident to say that perfection doesn’t exist. There is no perfect wedding. Most every book has at least one typo or grammatical error, and if you look hard enough diamonds have flaws.  Even Yo-Yo Ma admits to making mistakes while playing in concert. While perfections may be elusive, excellence abounds everywhere. It is the ego that demands perfection, and while some ego is good, too much can become quite stifling, particularly when it comes to reaching our highest potential. As the expression goes, “You are perfect. The only time you are not perfect is when you compare yourself to others.”
Stress Tip for the Day:
Don’t abandon all hopes for quality today. Merely recalibrate your expectations by getting out of the way of your ego. Demanding perfection of yourself is futile (it’s just another ego-based control drama). Instead, sets your sights on excellence. Remember that excellence takes practice (and at times, some frustration).  As you go through your day today, cast off the filter of ego, and reach for your highest potential, even if there are a few mistakes along the way. After all, mistakes are stepping stones to excellence.
Links, Books and Movies Worth Noting:
Several years ago author Terry Orlick came out with a book called The Pursuit of Excellence. It’s now in it’s fourth edition and the message is timeless.
Quotes for the Day:
“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habits in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it’s a prevailing attitude.” — Colin Powell
“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” — Harriet Braiker
Photo for the Day:
There are no perfect photographs either (that’s why there is cropping.. and Photoshop). Here is one of my favorite shots of the Tetons at Sunrise I took several years ago. 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 12 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 (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress and Senseless Tragedy

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How does one make sense of a senseless act of violence?  Try as we might to understand these (fill in the blanks here __________) acts, ones that clearly promote stress, most likely, we never will. Like many of you, I woke up this morning to hear of the tragedy at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie. Unlike most of you, this act of senseless violence took place within an hour of where I live, making it all the more palpable. Grieving experts remind us that our first reaction to something like this is shock, followed by disbelief, for some anger, then resignation. Even if we can never make sense of such a stupid, egotistical, senseless act, once we are done mourning, we must move on with our lives. For failing to move, we become one more casualty in this senseless assault. If there is one thing this day teaches us, it reminds us all that life is precious, and we must never take anything for granted, including those whom we love and those who love us.
Stress Tip for the Day:
Days like today remind us to stop and offer prayers and healing energy to those who must literally pick up the pieces of a senseless tragedy. Days like today remind us to help those less fortunate than ourselves, for we are all connected together as one human family. Days like today remind us to take time to grieve (through the entire spectrum of emotions) and then release, detach, forgive (if necessary) and move on. We many never fully understand such a tragedy, but we can prevent ourselves from giving our power away to those who commit such acts of anger and violence.
Links, Books and Movies Worth Noting:
Years ago in graduate school I came across a great book about grieving called Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst. If you can ever get your hands on this book, I highly recommend it.
Quote for the Day:
“When your fear touches someone’s pain, it becomes pity. When your love touches someone’s pain, it becomes compassion.” — Steven Levine.
Photo for the Day:
Many photos have appeared on Facebook today in memory of those who died last night in Colorado. A days like this leaves me in a quandary as to what to post for a photo. At the time of writing this, this one seemed to catch my eye despite the fact that I am not really a Batman fan. I may change it, but for now here goes…..
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 12 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 (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress and Global Warming (Climate Change)

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Until recently the weather was always thought to be a safe topic of conversation. Not anymore. Today it’s up there with religion and politics. It’s rather hard not to notice the weather over the past several weeks. Heat, heat and more heat. (we had some serious fires in Colorado too!) The word “extreme” is used often in terms of describing the current weather situation. And as the heat and effects of drought affect agriculture across the country, speculation about spikes in food prices also works it’s way into the national conversation. So does the cost of energy with regard to air conditioning. Meanwhile over in Ireland last month, extreme weather was described often in terms of rain (a very wet spring & summer due to a shift in the Gulfstream… due to melting ice sheets from Greenland). It’s a well known fact that when ambient temperatures increase, so does stress (primarily anger). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that as changes in global warming increase and continue, stress, in all it’s many forms will most likely increase as well. In the words of Al Gore, “The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.”
Stress Tip for the Day:
To live in harmony with nature means many things, not the least of which means to live in a correct pace of nature. Summer heat tends to cause one to slow down (good idea!). It’s also a reminder to eat less, as we expend less calories. We should take the hint and begin to live a slower paced life. A slower paced life could include sitting on your front or back porch in the late afternoon/evening getting to know your neighbors, too. It might include preparing some vegetarian meals (cool fruits and veggies for diner). Take time to slow down today, and the rest of the summer. Drink some iced tea. And give thanks for the invention of AC. If you find your buttons getting pushed, remember anger and heat connection. Don’t give your power away.
Links, Books and Movies Worth Noting:
If you haven’t see Al Gore’s movie (lately) it might serve as a great refresher of what is going on now.
Here is an article from the Huffington Post worth reading:
Quote for the Day:
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature, the assurance that dawn comes after night and spring after winter.” — Rachel Carson.
Photo for the Day:
Today’s flower is a fuchsia bloom that I photographed at the base of Crough Patrick near Westport Ireland. By the way, I have noticed that some of my plants that don’t usually bloom until August started blooming the last day of June. Ugh!
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 12 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 (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Time for Some Random Acts of Kindness

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Science is proving what the sages and mystics have know for eons; when people open their hearts, in an act of compassion in action, everyone benefits, including the people giving of themselves. From a boost in positive neuropeptides to remarkable synchronicities, helping others has some remarkable consequences. The bottom line is that we make the world a better place, if only for one person, if only for one moment. And the world is only made up of moments. To give of ourselves selflessly is a noble act indeed. In doing so, the soul’s light shines bright. As the saying goes, in giving we receive. What makes random acts of kindness so special is that the anonymous act is one where nothing is expected in return. The gift is unconditional. An unconditional gift or gesture is the highest form of love.
Stress Tip for the Day:
Random acts of kindness are anonymous acts of generosity; true altruism. It might be handing a homeless person a dollar bill. It might be paying the toll for the person behind you on the highway. I could be simply smiling at someone behind the cash register who is having a bad day. There are many lonely people sitting in hospitals who by receiving a loving intention would be forever grateful. And if you need to think of someone specifically, I have a friend named Michael, who could use some prayers and healing energy with his prolonged hospital stay through the end of August. Thanks!
Links, Books and Movies Worth Noting:
My publisher, Conari Press, first published the book, Random Acts of Kindnessnearly 20 years ago. It’s a good a read now as it was when it first came out. Enjoy!
Quote for the Day:
 “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” — The Dalai Lama
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” —Philo
Photo for the Day:
This photo was taken last year while I was in the small village of Pienza, Italy, in the Tuscany region. This is the town where Franco Zephreilli filmed the now classic movie, Romeo & Juliet. 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 12 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 (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Above the Fray

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Every now and again, it is useful, if not essential to step outside our normal means of existence and daily routines to take in the full perspective of life. This after all, is the purpose of a vacation; to get away from it all. In doing so, we gain some clarity in our lives, clarity in relationships, clarity with our life direction, clarity with everything. Seeing our lives from a distance is also the purpose of meditation; to step back from our ego-based realities to gain a sense of spiritual clarity. This is also known as being “above the fray.” With distance comes perspective. With perspective comes understanding. With understanding comes wisdom. As the meditation expression goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.”
Stress Tip for the Day:
Somewhere in the course of today, close your eyes for a few moments and take a metaphorical step back from your life. Imagine how someone from Greenland might view your life. How might a dying person view your life? Imagine how a destitute person might perceive your life. How might your great-great-great grandmother or grandfather view your life? Once you play with these perspectives in your mind, remind yourself how good you really have it. And once you can learn to step back, realize the importance of being “above the fray,” in a fast-paced world where there is much negativity and ego-based fear mongering. Whether it’s a meditation practice or a tropical vacation, these times of stepping back are a reminder to “ be in this world, but not of it.” Please make a habit of it.
Links, Books and Movies Worth Noting:
A documentary movie called Winged Migration, follows several species of birds with some of THE most incredible footage ever filmed. Not only is it a great film, but a great reminder to stay above the fray.
Quote for the Day:
“You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars; You have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” —Max Ehrmann, Desiderata
Photo for the Day:
Today’s photo was taken a few weeks ago on the top of Crough Patrick, a sacred mountain near Westport, Ireland. I climbed the mountain with several people from our tour, including Matt, pictured here, wearing the famous red jacket. Thanks Matt. 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 12 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 (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.