Happiness Is... Spirituality

With the holidays coming up, there can be a lot of nudges towards the conversation of spirituality. Whether those promptings come from an internal place within or an external spouse/partner who wants you to accompany them to a Christmas service with them, the topic of divine connection seems to come up in one shape or another. Yet, spirituality can take many forms and doesn't just have to be limited to looking like a specific type of organized religion. Recent scientific studies published by Time Magazine have stated that connecting with your spirituality may even make you a happier person.

Find Community
There appears to be something to the idea that faith makes us happier and it seems that one of the main reasons is that there is strength in numbers. "When it comes to religion and spirituality, it may not be what you believe if how you believe it that protects you from unhappiness so much as the fact that you believe it at all - and that you practice those beliefs with other people. Scientists have long known that having strong social ties is one of the greatest guarantors of happiness." (Time Magazine, "Science of Happiness" page 84)

Find community whatever it looks like for you - whether that is a local church, a bowling league, or even a Facebook group of people who like the same band as you do.

Pay it Forward
Do something for another individual this holiday season. There are so many ways to pay it forward - you can pay for someone's coffee, volunteer at your local homeless shelter or sponsor a child in a third world country. Science has shown that doing something good for another person feels even better than doing something for ourselves.

Practice Mindfulness
Whether that looks like listening to a sermon, or sitting in quiet with music on, or even slower breathing and an open mind, mindfulness can help you connect to yourself. In one recent study, researchers found that "slow-breathing for 30 minutes a day reduced blue pressure in people with hypertension" and another study showed that "healthy women who did eight weeks of twice-weekly yoga with breathing exercises significantly reduced their anxiety. Those in the control group didn’t." (Times Magazine, page 87)

If you'd like to continue this conversation on spirituality and inner-connectedness, feel free to reach out to me for an appointment. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.

Happiness Is... Work

For centuries evolved humans have searched to find the answer to the age-old question of "what is the key to finding fulfillment in your work?"

Some believe it is choosing a career path that doesn't even feel like work at all:
"Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." - Confucius

Others have argued that it is finding enjoyment in difficult tasks:
"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." - Aristotle

While there are even the few who believe to separate work and pleasure all together:
"Work while you work, play while you play." - Theodore Adomo

Well, Times Magazine recently put out a magazine all about the "Science of Happiness" and it had some pretty intriguing insights on how interconnected these two concepts of work + happiness are together.

The Scientific Connection to Work:

- THE PROBLEM: Task Oriented Living is a Never Ending
In our Westernized society, we are compulsorily task oriented and believe in the faulty theory that if we want to succeed we need to continually be getting things done a moving on to the next goal as quickly as possible.
"The problem comes, however, when we keep delaying our happiness in favor of getting more things done so that we can be even happier later - or so we think. This delaying process can go on forever. We get so hooked on getting things done because we think the payoff will ultimately lead to happiness but it doesn't." (Times Magazine, page 12)

- THE SOLUTION: Being Present
It seems counterintuitive but being present is the key to finding fulfillment in your work.
"Paradoxically, slowing down and focusing on what is right in front of you right now - being present instead of always having your mind on the next thing - will make you much more successful." (page 13)

- OVERALL: Happiness = Connection to the Moment
In a study of 5,000 people by psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, "adults spend only about 50% of their time in the present moment." (page 13) Basically, we are checked out half the time. But they also  found that when we are in the present moment, we are also at our happiest - even if it is work that we do not enjoy!

As always, feel free to reach out to me for an appointment if this topic is something you'd like to excavate in more together with a professional counselor. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.

Happiness Is... Relationships

Recently Time Magazine released an entire special edition called "The Science of Happiness" which is an issue dedicated to containing new discoveries that relate to how we can live more joyful lives. The aspect that we are going to focus on today is… Relationships.

Think less "me" time, more "we" time
"Truly sunny people have one thing in common, and it's got nothing to do with their paychecks, IQs, or gender… they have plenty of good social relationships." (Time Magazine, pg 39) In a study co-authored by Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia, people kept a running tab with whom they had either a strong or weak tie. Regardless of the type of person they connected with, they consistently felt more chipper on the days when they mingled.

Make time to be playful today
Playfulness energizes you and activates your brain. Vagdevi Meunier, a relationship therapist certified by the Gottman Institute in Seattle and founder of the Center for Relationships in Austin, Texas likes to tell couples that she works with, "I can help you fight better, but that's not nearly as effective as if I can help you play better."

Show the love
Give immediate positive feedback to those around you. Expressing gratitude to others can help you physically according to some research with "lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, better sleep and fewer bouts of depression," (Times Magazine pg 90) Also, it's hard to resent someone when you are focused on praising them!

Take part in some "social snacking"
A social snack is a little way of connecting with other human beings, even strangers. There is some type of comfort when you realize we are all in this crazy world together. "When you talk with strangers, there's also the pleasant surprise of finding stuff in common and sometimes the exhilaration of their opening up your world when they tell you something interesting you didn't know." (Time Magazine pg 40)

Pay it forward
It's scientifically proven that committing to a few do-good gestures a day can increase your general level of contentment. Try this week to do three to five acts of kindness for others and you may find that it gives you as the giver significantly more happiness.

These are just a few tips on how to activate happiness in your relationships. If you want to discuss the roadblocks you may be facing in engaging with these steps, feel free to reach out to me for an appointment. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.

Limiting Beliefs - How to Maintain New Ones

We are concluding our three part series on Limiting Beliefs and now that you have learned how to identify them and change them, it's time for a strategy on how to maintain NEW beliefs.

Here are the 3 steps to maintain your new core beliefs:
1.     Take a look back at your life and see how your past limiting belief affected you
In order to change your future, you need to thread together the pieces of your past and learn patterns. What relationships did you enter in to or not enter in to due to your limiting belief? What experiences did you have that might have been altered differently had you not had those persistent and subconscious thoughts in your head?
"Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana

Example: A woman who had the limiting belief of "I am not worthy of love" due to an absentee father may have entered into abusive relationships because she didn't feel like she was worth a healthy relationship. Looking back, she could see this in her high school boyfriend all the way to her current boss.
2.     Look for those same patterns in the present
Most likely, you will be either currently in a similar situation or about to step into the same pattern. Now is a great time to pause, reflect on your new belief and see how you can make a different choice this time around.

"The past is where you learned the lesson. The future is where you apply it." - Unknown

Example: She may not be able to change who her current boss or authority figure is, but she can now be aware that she doesn’t have to subscribe to the belief of being unworthy and can demand a higher level of respect from those around her.
3.     Say your new mantra to yourself at least once a day
In our modern world there are so many helpful ways to remind you of your new belief - you can set it up as a re-occurring daily appointment on your calendar or if you are more of a tactile learner, write it on your bathroom mirror for you to see each morning.

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin

Example: Automatically at 12:00pm in her work inbox, this woman has a rebounding email that only has one line "You are worthy of love." It may seem like a small gesture, but over time, after reading it every single day, she starts to believe it.

If you are looking to have more dialogue around the concept of limiting beliefs, feel free to reach out to me for an appointment. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323 - my door is always open.