The Rise and Fall of Urges:
Surfing the Emotional Wake
"It is more difficult to murder a
phantom than a reality".
A recent study in Germany suggests that we spend a full quarter
of our waking hours resisting urges. Yes,
our desires are frequent, variable in intensity and largely
unproblematic. Our urges create
conflict within ourselves and can intensify to the point that we act on them,
even when our best selves do not want us to. If you are longing to make a
positive change in your life, such as getting in right relationship with
food or with others or even with living the life you want, there is
science around resisting urges.
A friend of mine had a sudden revelation that he
didn’t want to go into his office, he hated his job. After being promoted out
of his vocation, solving software problems, he was now an executive, managing
projects, people, and politics and earning more money than he ever imagined. This
truth, that he was in the wrong job, hit him when he found a place to be quiet,
walking his dog.
Soon after, without another position lined up and a
family to support, he told his boss he was leaving, but was encouraged to stay until
the next round of bonuses were delivered in a few months.
Habits are cobwebs at first; cables at last.--Chinese
There is new research on the habit loop, which
finds that when a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in
decision-making. Like being asleep, some habits can be effortless and occur
unthinkingly. Hundreds of habits influence our days, how we get dressed, talk
to our kids, fall asleep. The brain’s dependence on automatic routines can be a
double-edged sword. Over time, the
habit loop “cueèroutine
èreward” becomes more and more
The ANTI New Years
“If you want
to live a happy life, tie it to a goal,
not to people or things.” Albert Einstein
Most New Years resolutions
fail by February because we lack skill or motivation or both. Setting all-or-nothing goals, goals that are
too vague, unrealistic, too ambitious, too numerous, or goals that we really don’t
want to do, set us on a road to frustration
and failure. Changing behavior requires
sustained priority setting and focused effort on ourselves and our
“No crying on the yacht” is what I overhead a mother tell her teenage
daughter shopping in a clothing store. While a hilarious and abrupt
way to identify corrosive self-pity, it can keep the spirit of thanksgiving
with us all year-round. A healthy outside starts from the inside. Being
kind and compassionate are a natural part of health and lay the foundation for
wellbeing, for both our inner life and our relational world.
So when we
find ourselves descending into a swan-dive of self-pity, remind yourself, ‘
"I have no
special talent. I am only passionately curious".
care system is strongly oriented to “fixing” what is broken and categorizes over
36,000 ways the human body can go wrong.
ask what’s wrong in our lives we can pay more attention to what is working well….
to build on our strengths.
Is there a
strength you have, which is easily identified by those that know you, that you
can carry into the wellness realm? A client I work with is an enormously
successful salesperson; masterful at building strong rapport, creating fierce
loyalty, and getting people to purchase only from him.
Consult Your Teenage Self to Find Your
“The privilege of a
lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
is having integrity of the soul. This requires that you regularly express your
best self. If something is getting in
the way of that integrity, ask yourself, if
I met my 17 year-old self on the street today, would s/he be proud of who I've
are the only species on the planet that can refuse to be who we are. The snake slithers, the bird flies, but we
humans can close off important aspects of ourselves.
Divide and Conquer
A military metaphor: in order to rule [the self] don't allow alliances of your enemies
[unfulfilled or unspecified needs].
always beauty, but the hunger for it is”
Nadine Gordimer, South African Nobel Prize
The overweight epidemic continues to
skyrocket, with more than 2/3rds of us overweight. Most of us are unhappy with
unwanted pounds that have a profound deleterious effect on our health and
"Set up a life that does not need escaping from."
Earlier this month we celebrated Independence Day, the idea
of liberty and what it means to be really free. Since we live in the land of liberty, why are
so many feeling imprisoned and lack a sense of freedom in our lives? Feeling stressed-out, besieged, over-whelmed,
working too many hours, and neglecting our health absents us from real liberty.
Some of us may choose to work long hours because we have
great affection for our work and it does not extract a toll.
Escape the Willpower Trap
There is a dramatic
difference between knowing and doing. We all have places that we may be stuck.
There may be something in our lives that we know we want to change; yet we
don't. A major reason we often fail is that we succumb to the willpower trap.
Lasting change often fails because we rely on willpower, yet what we really
need is skill. We all have unseen, powerful behavioral bullies that influence
us and we are blind to these saboteurs. Behavioral bullies do not have one root
cause, they can come from many sources, such as pervasive marketing practices,
toxic communities, or life-limiting habits that include avoiding difficult
conversations, boredom, stress, and lack of purpose, all of which impact mood
and don't support the life we want.