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Henry Woeltjen

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Improving Your Life: Step 1 - Relax!

For the next few weeks I will be posting some steps I think are necessary to improve your life. Take the journey with me and give me your feedback. Let's build a strategy we can all use to improve our life and the lives of everyone around us!

Step 1 - Relax!

All of us have stories to tell. Some are exciting and full of progress. However, some of us struggle to understand what's going wrong. These posts will be an attempt to facilitate a conversation about progress. We need to move forward. I believe we can help each other do just that.

Step one of this process will be one of the hardest. We all have stress, and sometimes our stress is overwhelming. We need to take a step back and relax! Before our journey begins we must have an open mind. Take a second, sit back, and relax. Feelings of anxiety and stress will only prevent you from moving towards your goals.

What are some things that help you relax? What are your coping mechanisms?

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    Jun 16 2013: One thing, do not watch the news.

    Do you really want others to rent space in your head?
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      Jun 16 2013: Pat,

      I can definitely understand where you are coming from. I would rather people watch the news, and take information they get with a grain of salt. Looking at information objectively is a key component to any thorough analysis. News broadcasts may provide information we just cannot get on our own.

      I would say, pick the news you decide to incorporate into your thought processes carefully. Even a small bit of false data can materialize biased opinions that have no foundation in reality.

      I understand your view though Pat. Many people share that view. I just think a more balanced approach is necessary.
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        Jun 16 2013: Duly noted, however you are allowing others to then tell you what to evaluate.

        The news is emotion based, their only purpose is to sell advertising. Bad news sells good news does not. They would have me believe that most of the local environment was subject to fire, murder, car chases, gang war, financial ruin, environmental pollution, etc. etc. This is not true.

        What do you miss by not being informed about 99% of this?
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          Jun 16 2013: A salesman comes to you with a proposition. He tells you of a storm that is coming. The storm will wipe out crops, homes, and livestock.

          He then tells you he has a talisman that will protect you from all harm. You laugh and decline the offer. You believe this is a trick.

          However, you then go around town to ask about the storm. Many people verify that a storm is indeed coming.

          The information you got from the salesman was indeed useful. However, it may have been disregarded because of his delivery. You may have disregarded the entire message about a storm.

          Since you did not, and took the information for further analysis, you were able to protect yourself.

          The news is like that salesman. They may provide information that is of no use to you. However, if they offer even a bit of information that is true, information you could not have obtained on your own, you would have been missing potentially valuable information.

          You didn't just believe a storm was coming and act. You asked around. The information was verified, and you were able to take action.

          Being informed is difficult at times. It requires that you have factual information. The news may not provide a great amount of substantial information, but if it does provide even 1% of the information leading to an informed opinion, it is valuable as a resource.

          I do believe we need to regulate information being portrayed as "news". Not because these agencies have some obligation to be accurate, but because these agencies gain viewers by portraying themselves as such.

          I am with you Pat. I agree that we shouldn't believe everything we hear. However, shutting a door completely is not the answer, in my opinion. Although I could be wrong.

          It would be possible to gain all of the necessary information with objective research. This may be what you do. In that case you may be right. It's a decision each individual must make. If you decide not to watch any news you may be better off. It's hard to tell.
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        Jun 17 2013: Since I have not in decades, by empirical anecdotal evidence I'm not any worse off for my ignorance of the "news". I have noticed that since I have been looking into the ominous signs in the economy I have been more tense. But I do have to gather information about the possibilities.

        In fact I went to a therapist about this recent problem of not being able to relax. And I told her of a reoccurring dream I had where I would be a tepee in one moment and then a pup tent in the next moment, and this would go back and forth for some time. So I asked her what was wrong? She told me that I was two tents.
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      Jun 16 2013: Good point Pat.....what we focus on expands:>)

      True Henry....Looking at information objectively is a key component to any thorough analysis. The challenge with newscasts is that they WANT to engage people as much as possible.....which is not a bad idea. However, newscasts often "play" with information to get more viewers.

      I agree with a "balanced" approach:>)
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    Jun 20 2013: That has been my experience with personal growth. I have to get to a point where I am comfortable enough with my imperfections to acknowledge them without being so comfortable that I don't work on them.
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      Jun 20 2013: Kendall,

      I don't think I could have said that any better than you just did. Great input.
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    Jun 18 2013: Firstly Henry, I am very impressed by your managing of your idea post. You respond regularly to contributors and you are forthcoming in giving them praise for their efforts, well done on your highly commendable efforts thus far.

    I have only in the last few days finished reading a book called, "The Energy Bus". Essentially it espouses the benefits of positive as opposed to negative energy.

    To me this is the fundamental key to improving your life, simply by embracing a positive attitude!

    What is stress anyway? Physiologically it is how the human body responds to the messages it receives from it's source code, namely your brain! As such, a circumstance is just a circumstance but stress is an outcome you can receive dependent upon your reaction to the circumstance.

    If your outlook on life was such that circumstances made you look for what are the positive outcomes of this circumstance (also realise that if everything happens for a reason, the ultimate positive outcome might not be readily apparent but there nonetheless), you would have no reason to stress over it.

    Contemplate also that if you surround yourself with negativity and negative inputs, then not suprisingly, you will most likely be affected by them and attract it too. Also if you attract from the universe what you put out, then that is what you will find, as you also will if you only see the downside of things because that is what you are focusing on and as a result only seeing!

    Knowledge dispels fear ( motto from my military parachuting days), so if you are fearful/stressed by something, then understand it to overcome it. The danger/stress may still be there but you know how to handle it and as such know how to deal with it and so then overcome it.

    I remember seeing a book that was filled with happy people. Significantly however, they were all from third world nations with an abundance of reasons to be unhappy, yet they weren't ( at least not in the pics). Dare I say, it was their attitude to life:D
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      Jun 18 2013: Time Traveller,

      I appreciate the positive reinforcement. I enjoy talking to the people on here. They always have such great insights.

      I have been talking to people about negative energy for quite some time. Negative energy is definitely a force in our lives, and people need to take steps towards controlling its influence.

      I like what you said about knowledge dispelling fear. Knowledge may also help rid you of that negative energy some of us surround ourselves with.

      Great post. A positive attitude is important if we truly want to improve our lives.
  • Jun 18 2013: One of the things that help me out a lot is to do some sort of fitness activity, whether its practicing a martial art (unfortunately I have little time for this now) or going for a run. It seems to focus me and put things into perspective.
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      Jun 18 2013: Scott,

      I have to agree with you Scott. Fitness helped me through one of my toughest times. I lost 130 pounds after leaving the Army. Making time for exercise, as you stated, can be hard at times.

      What kind of exercise do you normally participate in Scott?
      • Jun 20 2013: not much anymore unfortunately, most of my exercise is work related. I did enjoy boxing when I was living in the city, and Wing Chun (when I did it but due to time constraints am not able too anymore).

        Yourself?
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    Jun 17 2013: Basically the way to happiness (and to de-stress) for me was to accept the things that stress you out and realize that life goes on. Simple as that, whether you muck it up, fret over it, do amazing or nothing.... life will still go on. Once I realized that I stopped fretting as much, internalizing stress and took things as they came.

    Without all that fretting, I can relax and enjoy the small things in life!
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      Jun 17 2013: Louise,

      Taking things as they come can be difficult. Sometimes all of our problems seem to hit us at the same time. Having the ability to slow down is paramount. Relaxing can help us do just that. Great points here Louise, and I am glad you found a way to reduce your stress.

      Life will go on. That's a key point I had to learn. We cannot fret over the past, only learn from it. Moving on is a key component of improving our lives. Relaxing can make this easier to achieve.

      Thanks for the post Louise.
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    Jun 17 2013: Keep smiling and be relaxed all the time.

    There is no specific time, situation or place for relaxation. Why can't it be a way of life?

    I learn and tend to relax all the time on job or at rest.

    I can relax while working , i do my patients Ear surgeries with music on. Operation theatre becomes a place of joy and relaxation for me.Its a kind of meditation where i am totally immersed in it.
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      Jun 17 2013: Adesh,

      I don't think it would be possible to relax 100% of the time. Anxiety and stress are normal things to experience. It's more about what we do with them and how often we feel that way.

      Some of us may be able to relax while working. Others may not be doing that kind of work. Many of us have very stressful jobs that prevent relaxation. However, it is up to the individual to come home and unwind.

      I understand what you are saying though. It would be nice for all of us to be in jobs that we enjoyed. I'm glad you found that. I am sure I will find that at some point as well.

      Thanks for the post. Your contributions are always great to read.
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        Jun 18 2013: Henry Hi I endorse ... Anxiety and stress are normal things to experience. It's more about what we do with them.If we deal with them with a positive attitude, life becomes easy.

        We can relax no matter what.

        Its an attitude , its a belief.

        We may fail but if we keep trying and donot give up, it makes a difference. We change for the better though situation may remain same .
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    Jun 17 2013: I agree whole heartedly. However, the art/science of relaxing is a bit tricky to learn. I think there is no formula applicable for everyone and each of us need to learn it our way.
    For me it became possible when I could forgive me and willingly got down from the bus that my family, my society and my culture designed for me to reach a destianation of a charecter. It became easier when I could start loving myself for exactly the way I am.
    I could relax when I knew it is enough if I have only a couple of people who really love and admire me. It helped when I realized life has meaning and joy in every small act of kindness rather than a philanthropy that is beyond me unless I fake it. I could relax when I stopped judging others and myself for the results produced but could appreciate the honest intent.
    Life presents with all the odds of a dice. We need to find out our own shibumi. I could relax when it dawned on me that being positive does not mean eliminating all negatives around me but live undeterred within them.
    I shall be happy if my experience helps any of you. I shall not be sad if it doesn't because I know you will figure this out eventually.
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      Jun 17 2013: I love this Pabitra,

      "I could relax when it dawned on me that being positive does not mean eliminating all negatives around me but live undeterred within them."

      Thank you for the contribution. Great post.
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    Jun 16 2013: First, we have to make it ok to relax. I think there are many more people trying to excite their fellow man than there are trying to calm and when people finally build the momentum to keep up with the majority, they are very reluctant to let go of it.
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      Jun 16 2013: Excellent point Anthony. How do we relax and not lose out on that momentum? I think you hit the nail on the head. We need to make ourselves comfortable with the though of taking a break from the grind. I think it's important to recharge and evaluate where we are.

      This is not to say that we need to take long vacations to the Bahamas. Relaxing can be done in the comfort of your home or even at a friend or family member's house.

      I think we need to realize that we aren't losing momentum by taking a relaxing break. In the long-run, we will actually produce more if we take time to recharge and reorganize ourselves.

      Good insights Anthony.
      • Jun 17 2013: Quote: "I think we need to realize that we aren't losing momentum by taking a relaxing break. In the long-run, we will actually produce more if we take time to recharge and reorganize ourselves."
        Well said, Henry. In my whole life, I always avoid stresses by relaxing, and telling myself that I still have time to reach the goal of life eventually. I did reach it, more or less. Even if I didn't, I still won't regret. I would give all my effort, relaxing occasionally is considered part of the process. This is the best approach to avoid (unnecessary ) stresses.
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      Jun 16 2013: EXCELLENT idea indeed Anthony! It seems that our society encourages busy...busy....busy, and if a person does not follow this agenda, s/he may feel less important? Guilty?

      I agree....we are NOT losing momentum by taking a relaxing break, and in the long run, may be more productive. When the body and mind are relaxed, it makes all of life more interesting.

      How do we relax and not lose the momentum.......find the balance:>)

      Nothing "wrong" with long vacations to the Bahamas! LOL:>)

      You are right Henry....relaxing can be done anywhere....it is a choice we make for ourselves:>)
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      Jun 19 2013: Kate,

      Thanks for the input. I like what you said about the news headlines. At the very least you get a sense of what is going on without reading the potentially biased information inside. However, headlines can be just as misleading, more so at times. Headlines are designed to catch your eye. They may exaggerate the information contained in the body of a news article or broadcast.

      Great insights though. I think we are all on the same page as far as the news goes. I choose to read through the news and, like Wikipedia, use that information as a starting point for my research on the subject.
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          Jun 20 2013: Kate,

          I try not to assume anything. I truly believe a balanced approach is the key to effective critical thinking. Biased thought, one way or the other, only serves to exclude potentially accurate information. If you approach a situation in a balanced way, you give all information the respect it deserves, until you can research further.

          I understand your view. Many of our media outlets produce biased information. However, assuming a piece of data is biased before you analyze it is biased in itself.

          Let's think of a certain subject as X. X contains all of the factual information available. This means all of the information we could possibly use to substantiate that subject.

          You receive a certain portion of data (aodiufjlkjaoisud898safu). In that portion of data, only a few items are correct (898). If you disregard the entire set, you will inevitably miss accurate information.

          If we look at news this way, we may be able to start analyzing it correctly. I am not saying all news broadcasts contain accurate information but they might. Having all of the available information is important.

          Another important thing to consider is leads. A lead, or starting point for research, can uncover data we may not have looked for in the first place. In this context, the media can be a great source of information.

          Don't eat everything they feed you. Take a look at what they serve, and hand-pick the items worth eating.
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    Jun 19 2013: ,
    ,
    Yes!
    "Relax!"

    Relax means to switch our brain (the most powerful computer today)
    from small tension-data part to a huge relax-data part,
    where we may find the solution easily.
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      Jun 19 2013: W. Ying,

      I like what you said about switching the brain. Relaxing requires us to "switch" from normal thought patterns to less complicated ones. This allows us to focus on our problems with a higher degree of focus. I wish I could post pictures here because I have something drawn up that showcases this better.

      Thank you for the contribution.
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    Jun 18 2013: Key points seem to be....

    All things in moderation, balance!

    Stay physically active! Regular exercise

    Have a positive outlook on life!

    I'll also add,

    Be child like and curious, so that you see the world in a fresh and invigorating way.

    Don't be afraid to ask why?

    In life take a different path to open new doors and opportunities and so re-invent yourself.

    Ask questions and challenge the status quo'

    Rise above lifes challenges and be strong, never, ever give up! Picture the frog being eaten by a stork but the frog has it's hands around the throat of the stork strangulating it!

    Leave the world in a better place than you found it! : D
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    Jun 18 2013: i believe it is similar to a GPS system that always says: turn to the right.

    if you have too few relaxation in your life, more relaxation helps. if you have too much relaxation in your life, less relaxation helps. if you have the exact right amount of relaxation in your life, neither more nor less helps.
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      Jun 18 2013: Totally agree with you here. Balance is definitely key. I think many of us have a problem identifying when we are out of balance. Some people feel like they have to constantly move at a runners pace. Others are more sloth like. Either way, imbalances in life can lead to undesirable consequences.
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    Jun 17 2013: If you don't stress the mind then it stagnates, it's the same with the body, if it is not used it loses muscle mass. If both are not stressed you will follow the natural order of entropy, dissipation, your genes will initiate the kill program. Movement is life, stop moving and you are dead.

    If you are moving without a point on the horizon then you are dead because the journey has no point and without working for a point then what is the point and what is the reward? Even a wanderer has a point and reward, discovery. What's over the horizon.
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      Jun 17 2013: Ken,

      Great points here. Stress is definitely a motivator at times. We also need goals in life. Without goals we are wandering around without a sense of direction. Without that sense of direction, we are driving on the highway of life with no road map.

      Great post Ken.
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    Jun 17 2013: View things as they are. "It is what it is"

    As Fritzie mentioned go for a walk

    A positive attitude.

    Do not try to control things that you cannot control

    Do what you can about the problem which starts with confronting it.
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      Jun 17 2013: It is definitely good to see things as they are. This is important because we need to base our reactions on the actual variables within a situation. If we are basing our reactions on "what isn't" we risk taking action that does nothing or even causes damage to our lives.

      Good points Pat.
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      Jun 16 2013: Great points Lamar. Some of us may relax entirely too much. However, in order to properly analyze what we are doing wrong we must have a clear head. In order to achieve that we need to slow down. Relaxing can provide this.

      Coping mechanisms can definitely be positive and negative. It is important to identify positive coping mechanisms. As you said, people make little problems into big problems. In order to objectively analyze your life you must focus on the real issues. There is no real way to analyze complicated concepts if your mind is in multiple places at once.

      There is definitely not a one size fits all solution. Some people may require professional help. All of that is accurate. However, some of us just need to take a second and calm our nerves. Some of us need to focus on the real problems.

      The complexity of our mind may complicate things, as you stated. Relaxing can allow you to conduct a thorough audit of your thought processes and environment you are in.

      Stress may motivate you into action, but that doesn't mean your actions will yield positive results. Every success is preceded by thinking. We must slow down, relax, and think critically about the steps necessary to move forward.
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          Jun 16 2013: I think we may misunderstand what the word relax means. Relax is to become less tense or anxious. Many of us believe the word relates to sitting around or taking a nap. It can be sitting on the couch watching television. It can also involve taking a walk, as you stated.

          The state of being relaxed is the result of an action. The action you choose to get there is up to you. Either way, being relaxed is an important factor when trying to analyze a problem critically.
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      Jun 16 2013: One of the TED Global speakers, whose name I cannot now remember, talked about this issue of how she had been telling her clients for years a myth about stress. Particularly, research now seems to show that it is ones expectations about the negative health effects of stress rather than stress itself that looms large in predicting negative health outcomes within normal ranges of stress.

      It is an interesting finding that has changed the way she counsels her clients about stress.

      It might have been Kelly McGonigal of Stanford University. Yes, here we go: http://blog.ted.com/2013/06/11/the-upside-of-stress-kelly-mcgonigal-at-tedglobal-2013/

      And here is Robert Sapolsky, one of the world's leading scholars whose specialty is stress in animals, including humans: http://killerstress.stanford.edu/more and http://killerstress.stanford.edu/more/qa-what-about-stress-mangement/
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          Jun 20 2013: LaMar,Good for you!
          I wish more treatment centers and prisons would implement stress management. They tend to leave it up to the individuals to do it themselves. Did you write anything about your experience?
  • Jun 16 2013: Henry, this is so great.

    What worked wonders for me was Mindfulness. I followed a course when I was pregnant and dealing with PTSD, and have since naturally incorporated it into my daily life.

    Allowing myself total relaxation (like Anthony said below, I had to feel it was OK), and focusing on my breathing not only helped me with my anxiety issues, it heightened my awareness and improved my breathing technique as a singer! Triple win! When I feel that stress creeing up on me, (because it often comes unannounced, when you're unprepared), I just breathe.

    Breathe.

    Breathe.
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      Jun 16 2013: Yes!!! Keep breathing....slowly......deeply.....with intent to relax:>)
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      Jun 16 2013: Dealing with PTSD is difficult. I can definitely see breathing techniques as a good way to lower anxiety and stress. Sometimes we just need to slow down a bit. I could definitely benefit from that.

      Our mind races sometimes, and that is not always productive. A more focused mind-set is a more productive one.
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        Jun 16 2013: Our mind races.......hmmmmmm.......who programs our mind?

        I agree.....a more focused mind-set is more productive, and we have the ability to be more focused.....it is a choice:>)
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          Jun 16 2013: Many things program our mind. Environmental factors and the conclusions we come to using information can do the programming.

          Environmental factors include family, natural elements, friends, and even people we work with. Internal perceptions can also program us. You take a natural element (x) and combine it with a friend's opinion (y) and you get a bit of programming.

          It is up to us to audit that programming. We must then either accept it or reprogram ourselves. The choice is sometimes difficult to make. People tend to embrace their opinions for no real reason. I do believe we all have the right to our unique perspectives. However, I do think we should be working towards a balanced state.

          Although everything seems subjective, a balanced state is not. Balanced is an absolute state we should all try to achieve. It is difficult. However, I get closer every day.
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        Jun 16 2013: Henry,
        External factors can program our mind IF/WHEN we accept the information and come to conclusions with our own thought process.

        Environmental factors such as family, natural elements, friends, people we work with and interactive with daily can certainly contribute to our programming. As thinking, feeling adults however, we can choose what we accept and focus on.

        I am focusing on this, because people often say something like you did....."our mind races"......as if we have no control of our mind. We do. It doesn't race on it's own.....we drive it.....yes?

        Like you insightfully say.....it is up to us to audit, sift through information, evaluate the potential for programming, accept, or reprogram. That's the only point I was trying to make.....we have choices, and balance is always good:>)
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          Jun 16 2013: We do have the ability to control our mind. That doesn't mean we are experts at it. Your mind may race at times, and it is the individual's responsibility to slow themselves down.

          I don't believe this means you can get to a point where you have total control. A good example is soldiers in combat. They go through extensive training to program their minds in cases where instincts take over.

          Without training, an impulse reaction may be the wrong reaction. I wasn't trying to imply we have no control. I was merely stating that these mind-sets do have an impact at times, and it is up to us to gain control when we have lost it.

          Assuming you will never lose full control is dangerous. It may put you into stages of denial, all the while losing total control. We need to identify moments in time where we are not in full control of our emotions.

          We do drive it, but it can drive us at times. The key is getting back in the driver's seat.
        • Jun 19 2013: This is SO recognizable!

          At this moment, I am finding myself in a very unrelaxed state of mind, all due to external factors. Making a decision that benefits me will mean disappointing others, and as a perpetual people-pleaser, this is ine of the hardest things I have to do.
          I do recognize the feeling of 'losing control' though, in a subconscious attempt, I think, to please those around me, but resulting in loss of what I need - the good ole 'can't see the forest for the trees' scenario. My parents are visiting us right now, and I see they ar the same way. Can this kind of thing be genetic?
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        Jun 16 2013: I agree Henry....we have ability to control, or train our mind, and there are some people who are really good at it. Some meditators are pretty good, and there are many different levels of training or mind control.

        I don't think I said anything about "assuming you will never lose full control". You say..."we need to identify moments when we are not in control......good point. That comes back to "know thyself".
        Yup.....that's the key all right....staying in the drivers seat!
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      • Jun 20 2013: Yes, it's a family trait, we all picked it up...!

        I have made the list, and in doing so, made the decision. It was so clear, in fact, that I found relaxation again! Slept like a baby last night, in fact! There's an interesting thing, the idea of putting down my thoughts about how I felt was more nerve-wrecking than the decision itself... What are your thoughts on that?
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      Jun 20 2013: Lizanne and Kate,
      I agree that it is probably a learned behavior, and we assimilate a LOT of information from our parents because they are our teachers at an imprssionable age.

      Lizanne, you say..."I do recognize the feeling of 'losing control' though, in a subconscious attempt, I think, to please those around me, but resulting in loss of what I need...."

      You are aware of this...you recognize it, so it is not only subconscious anymore correct? Ask yourself the question...."Why am I willing to give something to someone else to please them, in favor of taking care of myself"?

      I agree with Kate regarding the ripple effect. Sometimes, when we make decisions to please others, that is felt on a deep level by the recipient, and s/he then feels obligated to do the same for us. When people feel that we are genuinely giving because that is what we want to do with no attachments, it frees everyone to do the same thing.

      Do you want people to do things for you out of a feeling of obligation, in favor of taking care of themselves and really doing what they want to do? Do unto others.....? I believe all of this is felt on an energy level.

      We can do many of the same things, and be clear about our intent. Example:
      I LOVE the gardens, and in the past couple years the gardens have been neglected because 3 of my brothers have had physical challenges and needed care. My brothers know me, and they KNOW I spent time with them because that is what I genuinely wanted to do.

      Some folks say to me....don't you feel bad about the gardens....they are so neglected....it's too bad that you had to do caregiving....bla....bla....bla.

      I made a choice regarding my priority....I love the gardens.....I love my brothers (they helped me build the gardens)....I consciously chose where I wanted to spend my time. I did not help care for them out of obligation....it was totally out of love.

      One of the borthers died in Jan., two of them are doing ok for now, and it's time to reclaim the gardens:>)
      • Jun 20 2013: Colleen, you caught me being conscious!
        I am also heart-warmed by your decision to be with your brothers. The reactions you heard makes me question the integrity of people who find a garden more important than a human being...!

        YES, I did not spend years in therapy learning awareness to allow my subconscious to take over.
        It reminds me of the smoking convo - I have a tough time with self-worth.. But I'm learning! I'm getting there!

        As I told Kate just now, I have made the decision... Because I so fully stand behind it, I am not worried about 'breaking the news' either.

        Relaxation.
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          Jun 20 2013: LOL! I caught you being conscious Lizanne? Based on all your comments, you seem pretty conscious, alert and intelligent most, if not all of the time:>)

          I don't question the integrity of people because of their reactions. Many people are not comfortable with death and sickness, and I believe that is where the reactions came from.

          Regarding self-worth:
          I'm not going to give you a big lecture, because you've heard it all before, and I think/feel in your heart you KNOW it. I believe in you, I'm sure many other people believe in you. That's all you have to do darlin', is believe in yourself:>)

          Good job on the decision.....whatever it was......kudos to you if you feel good and relaxed about it:>)
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          Jun 21 2013: The choice was not difficult Kate.

          People often have difficulty facing even the thought of sickness, injury, death, abuse, incarceration, etc., so with my volunteer work in these areas, I was often asked why? Why are you doing that?

          "If I'm not part of the solution, I am part of the problem", is not just a saying for me. It is very much a part of my life experience in every moment, and it feels like you live your life in this way as well?

          In my perception, knowing myself, and how I want to "BE" in our world, is a step toward constantly improving my life experience:>)

          "The winds of Grace are blowing all the time. It is up to us to raise our sails"
          (Ramakrishna)
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    Jun 16 2013: Henry,
    One concept that helps me to relax more, is this mantra:

    They call it the "serenity prayer", but when I'm saying it, it is to myself:>)

    "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference"

    Do you realize how many times people feel stressed about something they cannot change? It is a waste of precious time and energy. We need to be clear with what we cannot change (the weather for example), and what we can, and wish to change. Once we are clear with ourselves, we can relax a little more:>)
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      Jun 16 2013: That was my mother's favorite prayer. She would recite it daily. It is definitely a great concept to remember. People do tend to clutter their minds with problems they cannot change. It is very important to sift through the problems impacting your life in order to find the ones you cannot control.

      This is not to say you cannot do anything about them. You can accept the things you cannot change. At the same time you can take steps to mitigate the impact these things have on your life. Trying to control a variable in your life that you have no control over is like beating your head against a wall. The wall wont give, and you will have a nice bump on your head for the effort.
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        Jun 16 2013: The idea is VERY helpful in my perception and experience:>)

        Like you say....we sometimes "clutter" the mind with mind chatter, and I believe sometimes people lose touch with what is mind chatter, and what is real. Mindchatter is usually repeating the stories of the past, and/or worrying about the future. People sometimes project stress and worry, so that becomes their reality.

        Agree....we can change our perception, and that changes the impact the perceived and/or real challenges have on our life.

        Worrying about that which is not controllable simply gives us a headach.....right on Henry!
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    Jun 16 2013: I hope you uncover useful strategies for dealing with major, sustained stress, as that is where the real challenge lies. Walking, fresh air, music, cuddling pets, hobbies such as art/gardening/woodworking, and meditation all can be highly effective in regulating normal stress.
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      Jun 16 2013: Fritzie,

      Dealing with high stress levels is difficult. Walking, fresh air, music, and hobbies may not help. This is because high stress levels are normally the result of real problems in your life. Walking may help for a moment, but the stress resurfaces the moment you return to your normal routine.

      This series will focus on changing that routine. It will concentrate on a conversation about what we can do to move from where we are to where we need to be.

      Relaxing is important for many reasons. In the context of this conversation it is paramount. If you cannot sit down and relax you probably wont take in information as well. It's important to clear your head and focus on new data.

      This is difficult for some people. Life can throw a never-ending stream of stress your way. It is important that we allow ourselves to interrupt this flow of constant stress. Breaking the flow allows us to analyze ourselves and the strategies we are using to move forward. A constant grind can lead us into robotic like behavior where we keep experiencing the consequences of repetitive actions.

      When we relax it should be a time of rest and reflection. People need time to recharge and objectively analyze progress being made. This is a span of time that action is not necessary. It should serve as a planning phase.

      The plans shouldn't be detailed and structured. Time to relax should involve generalizations of your life.

      "Well, how did my week go?"
      "Did I accomplish everything I planned?"
      "How do I feel?"

      It's time to focus on you. We spend so much time focusing on other things, it's good to have some you time.
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        Jun 16 2013: I raised the issue because people often share positive examples from their current lives, as if their current pleasant quality of life can be attributed entirely to their attitudes and strategies. In Snow White when the dwarves "whistle a happy tune" or in Mary Poppins when "a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down," the challenges at hand were minor in the scheme of things.

        People living, say, in refugee camps or in conditions of extreme deprivation cannot use the same strategies with the same success as those whose sources of stress are much less brutal and less chronic.
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          Jun 16 2013: Fritzie,

          I fully understand your point. Many people live in environments that do not allow for progression. It is then up to those of us who are to facilitate change.

          I would like to make this happen sooner than later. I would like to get all of us on the same page. In doing that, I can ensure we have similar goals. One of those goals should be equality across the globe.

          However, none of us can facilitate this change if we are burdened with stress, depression, and anxiety. We are consumed by ourselves. How then do we have the energy and resources to help those of us in dire need of assistance.

          If we could unlock the potential of every person living in free nations, we would never see refugee camps or oppression.

          If people free of oppression aren't helping those who are not, how can we expect change? If we cannot help others because we constantly deal with our own tidal wave of problems the cycle continues.

          We need a culture shift. A global change in the way we think. This starts with communication and ends with action. We are powerful beyond our understanding. It's about time we start using it in the right ways.

          Nobody should be forced into lives of pain and suffering. There is no excuse for it. I cannot believe we continue to let people die, every day, due to a lack of resources and tyrannical governments. It's inexcusable.

          Stress relief is key here. If those of us who aren't plagued by these social diseases cannot help others, because we continue to be constrained by our own stress, what hope do they have?
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        Jun 16 2013: I agree that we should all work on our resilience and effective modulation of controllable pain.
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    Jun 20 2013: I think stress or pressure is somewhat a necessity in life,as crucial as relaxation is,it constantly pushing us to press on,strive for our goals.Question then is how do we balance stress and relaxation,this is a subtle issue that can be finely tackled through life experiences.I think those who are successful and content with their lives,probably master this balance.
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      Jun 20 2013: Jaden,
      Part of the definition of stress is:
      "a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation"

      Why do you think that is a necessity?

      Personally, I choose not to have stress in my life, and I experience passion, curiosity and love of the life adventure as adequate motivators:>)
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        Jun 20 2013: Thank you for the definition,Miss Steen,

        Actually I didn't know this precise definition,I thought it means motive,responsibility and some driving force,that's why I chose it as a necessity.My need to study English harder.

        But the part 'content' is come from the other conversation we had before,I think this is an ideal word to express 'happiness'.I learn quite a lot from you. 'Happy' is quite abstract,but 'content' has a kind of criterion that we can measure by our own proposition.

        I think motive is a necessity.Thanks for reminding me.
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          Jun 20 2013: Thanks Jaden,
          I learn a lot from you as well:>)

          It certainly CAN provide motivation, and I simply feel that there are better motivators....as I said...passion, curiosity and love of life.

          It is a good connection you make with contentment/happiness/stress. Generally, when people feel stressed, it is more of a feeling of discontent, rather than contentment. When we pursue the life adventure with passion, curiosity and love, it feels more content and joyfull, in my humble perception and experience:>)
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      Jun 20 2013: Hi Jaden, your view of stress is documented here:

      http://www.stress.org/what-is-stress/

      When you get to the fifth paragraph, you will note that some stress might result in productivity.
      but, very rapidly things begin to go wrong if a human remains in that state of stress for too long.

      Here in the US, at least, the word stress has a very negative conotation.

      Alot of people have it, but nobody wants it.

      In Spanish we have a play on words with stress....

      (tres, is the number three in spanish) So when someone says to a friend, "gee, you sure look s-tres-sed?" the reply might be, I am estressed, escuatro, escinco, esseis. (I am threed, foured, fived, sixed) to show just how worn down they are with problems that are wearing away at their vital energy.

      I think many of us, like Colleen says, make a mindful effort to keep stress out of our lives, or at least in control.
      It is something that you may be able to learn how to eliminate from your life by changing how you think.

      Everyone has a different way of handling things, I suppose.
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        Jun 20 2013: Hi,Mary,I've just read the article you offered,thanks.

        This is such an insightful article,'Many times we create our own stress because of faulty perceptions you can learn to correct' is what I meant,and the diagram reflects my way of looking at stress,is that your perception also?In Chinese,I think the word 'pressure' can be better able to express my definition.

        Spanish way of replying is so funny,LOL,it reminds me the words 'A successful man is the one who meets frustration with sense of humor'.

        Too much mental tension can be devastating if we let it constantly haunting us.Like a goal you know,rise of the family,primarily,it is the driving force,but if we don't manage to unwind once in a while,the driving force can transform to overwhelming stress,it will probably wear away 'vital energy'.
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          Jun 20 2013: Hi Jaden, I'm so glad you enjoyed that article.

          When I read your comment above, your words resonated with me because I felt that way in college. I worked best when I was under stress (pressure)....The pressure of having to study for more than one final exam, and turn in several research papers all in one week would be exciting....but also would wear and tear at my very being....but being young I didn't mind.

          Now, I see life a bit differently, and realize that it is important to begin to work early on deadlines....not wait until the last minute.....

          The article I linked was a very good one, wasn't it?
          I personally did not know the background of the word stress, and the studies done with it.
          I also learned quite a bit. There are many books on stress...one lifetime is not enough to read them all...LOL...it would be a stressful endeavor. :)

          As for humor....yes....injecting humor into situations is very therapeutic......we cannot take things too seriously. Of course, it depends on the situation at hand. Sometimes the use of humor is not appropriate.

          I think that it is important to, relax, when in stressful situations.
          Many times we worry unecessarily because we let our imagination get the better of us.

          Here is a quote from my collection regarding this:

          "I am an old man, and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened." Mark Twain

          I think many humans worry unnecessarily at times.....me included!
          I am trying to work on this.....it is an undo-it-yourself project.
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    Jun 19 2013: Step 1 should be Panic!
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      Jun 19 2013: Nicholas,

      Why is that?
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        Jun 19 2013: As an American, you will come across a phrase "yolo" (you only live once) - which translates into not worrying about the 'moment' and just having fun.

        And although this is my youth's contribution to the English language, in America suicide is third cause of death for under 21. Clearly there is a disconnect between how people philosophize and how people practicalize. The disconnect exist between how we do NOT have a tradition of longevity thinking in the states; we do not have a culture where thinking about your life in 10 years - is cool. So, we (the youth) are already relaxed in the moment, but shouldn't be because the future still needs development (for ourselves and others), so when the future comes we will panic anyways but with far more stress, anxiety and depression.

        Every self-help book you pick up will try to hypnotize (at least mildly) the reader into feeling better, if your mind is focused on the literature (this is a positive psychology tactic). Although I do not feel this is innately wrong to want... Thinking positive can make you delusional.

        "Relaxing" is an act best done after you have panicked, therefore you will appreciate the relaxation more (be able to count your blessings).

        I understand current day desires to try to 'spiritual' with emotions and thoughts, but that is not going to resolve why people kill themselves and are products of depressing environments. These are social issues, not individuals.

        If individuals panicked more often, than society would have to panic less in crisis.

        I'm not worried about individuals as much as the whole of them. We are already in a culture where selfishness and individualization is championed (paradoxically). We need no more of it! We need those who will criticize society constructively, and everyone to accept the criticisms openly.

        We need to Panic because after enough of it, the relaxing step will allow the next panic to be easier to handle. But starting with 'relaxing' is already the paradigm.
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          Jun 19 2013: Nicholas,

          Great post. I don't necessarily agree with the word choice, but I think I get what you are saying. Panic, using your logic, would force the person to act. I don't necessarily agree with that logic, but you may be right.

          Maybe some of us need to panic a little bit. That is definitely an interesting view. Panic can also be the result of failures or undesirable situations. The panic may turn into positive action.

          Great post. I don't necessarily think people should panic. However, I can definitely see where you are going with that.
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          Jun 20 2013: Nicholas and Henry,
          "One of the great difficulties in the new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice". (Ernest Holmes - The Science of Mind).

          So, I agree Nicholas, with you and Ernest, that sometimes humans do a lot of theorizing and philosophizing, and fail to "practice'.

          I do not agree that panic ("a sudden overpowering fright") is the best motivator. Generally, panic overpowers (with fear) our ability to act.

          We can be well informed without panic. You suggest that a positive attitude may be delusional. Perhaps it depends on the level of understanding and acceptance of the idea? It can be delusional if we simply repeat the mantra...."I have a positive attitued", while on another level we feel panic. If we totally embrace the feeling with confidence, however, it becomes part of us and our honest life experience.
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        Jun 19 2013: My thoughts are simply that if you are not prepared to panic, when you do, you will make more errors.

        Moments of relaxation are rare for most, but they get enjoyed by the fact of their rarity, not by how they just should 'have' the ability to relax.

        A life long party person, often ends up depressed at the end of their life, because they have a lot of "I could of done that better" moments. During these moments, they should 'relax' because it is too late, but to prevent this from happening to my generation... This needs to be more recognized than ideals of meditation, reflection, and/or self improvement. Those ideals will come with the practice of 1. stressing details 2. controlling anxiety and 3. working through depression.

        What is a better life? Is as relative as subjective.. But, health of mind and body seem to be universal enough to start promoting ideas.

        For me, the best way to do that is to constantly reconstruct yourself, always reflecting and always expanding ... This isn't nor should be relaxing right away, the pay off of true self actualization and something of an enlightenment is an effort of panic or stress.

        AND we should definitely be panicking about the protest of the middle east, and S. America
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          Jun 19 2013: Nicholas,

          When a person panics they are not in control. You don't really want to panic about anything. You can have the motivation to progress without ever having to panic.

          In order to reconstruct yourself, you must be able to analyze your current state. This requires focus and a good amount of critical thinking. In a state of panic, neither of them can occur.

          Panicking can cause irrational behavior. This is not what you want. It is not a mind-set that causes us to analyze data critically and often leads to negative consequences. People, in my opinion, do not need to panic more. What we do need is an increase use of critical thinking skills. This can be produced by relaxation, followed by focus and motivation to progress.
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          Jun 20 2013: Nicholas and Henry,
          I agree that we don't need to panic to be motivated.

          If we are preparing ourselves to panic Nicholas, wouldn't we be programming our mind to panic?

          If we, as you insightfully say, are constantly reconstructing ourselves with reflection and expansion of our "self", I see no need for panic and stress. Evaluation of our "self" and information we have gained from the life experience generally provides a stronger foundation of confidence, which, in my opinion, is a better foundation than panic and stress.
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          Jun 20 2013: Panic in pure terms comes down to a fight or flight basic instinct that has much to do with survival and the amygdala part of the brain.

          As such, your responses will be done on the fly and in great haste without much contemplation and or not responded too at all in terms of a frozen in fear paralysis scenario.

          To me people panic mainly thru a lack of knowledge/experience! Everyone also, was young once and life was never meant to be easy, so the angst of youth is pretty well atypical. I remember reading something that was written along the lines of, "Oh the youth of today, the way they dress and their attitude to their elders...." it was written in like 500 AD!

          I was 17 years old when I joined the Army and if it were not for my preparatory training drills for fast roping from helicopters,would have died on my 4th jump from 100feet if I panicked when I came too after being knocked unconscious when I pendulemed back into the helicopter skid with my head. I was probably about 30 feet off the ground (approx 2-3 seconds off the ground) and immediately engaged my breaking drill which no doubt saved my life and any serious injury...save for bruising and maybe a fractured sternum.

          I am somewhat concerned Nicholas by some of your views. Relaxation is not something that should be rare by any stretch of the imagination and neither should one want to be panicking more in their lives as this a sure fire recipe for hypertension, high blood pressure, myo cardial infarction, blood clots on the brain and more!

          Just appreciating a magnificant view, should be relaxing. Having a swim on a hot day. Or even just breathing or having a drink of water and savouring it! : D