gratitude 10 Jan 2019

BY: myThrive34

Depression / Gratitude / stress management

Comments: No Comments

Why Gratitude?

Over the past several years, we are hearing more and more about the positive impact of gratitude. Amy Morin, psychotherapist, wrote an article for Psychology Today and reports the 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude (see article):
• Improves physical health
• Opens the door to more relationships
• Improves psychological health
• Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
• Improves sleep
• Improves self esteem
• Increases mental strength

The evidence supports that people who practice gratitude in their lives are happier and less depressed, but new research is showing that gratitude is even beneficial for those with mental health concerns. Indiana University professors, Joel Wong, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology and Joshua Brown Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Brain Science, conducted a randomized control trial with 300 mostly college students who sought counseling services. The students were divided into three groups. The first group received counseling and were instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person for three weeks. The second group received counseling and were instructed to write about their deepest thoughts, feelings and negative experiences. The third group received counseling but did no writing.

The results? The group who wrote the gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health at 4 and 12 weeks after the exercise ended, suggesting that gratitude writing can be beneficial for both the healthy and for those struggling with mental health concerns even when the practice is brief. It seems that gratitude with psychological counseling carriers an even greater benefit than counseling alone (read the review article at Greater Good Magazine).

Choosing to cultivate a mindset of gratitude, especially when it’s supported with professional mental health counseling, has many positive personal benefits.  When gratitude is put into action, whether that is writing a gratitude list, smiling at someone, offering a helping hand or simply acknowledging a kindness with a “Thank You”, the impact of gratitude in your life is magnified.  It’s like the instructions on a shampoo bottle: Choose gratitude, act on it, repeat.
Let me support you on your journey into gratitude.  Contact me!

21 Aug 2018

BY: myThrive34

Depression / Treatment

Comments: No Comments

The Cost of Clinging

Several years ago, I was introduced to the concept of clinging attachment and specifically how it promotes individual suffering.  Since I was not raised in this tradition, the concept was very foreign to me.

My initial reaction was “what is clinging attachment?”  A concept taught in Buddhism, clinging attachment is loosely defined as an intense fixation on a particular object, person or experience…a focused “must-ness”.

The person or thing or circumstance is thought to be necessary or vital to your well-being.  It is the thing that one believes holds the key to personal happiness.  Clingy attachment can actually cause the opposite…unhappiness.

I found myself trying to make clinging attachment sound virtuous by thinking of it as being goal-oriented, having tenacity, or being strong-willed. I, as others I’ve noticed, set a goal and pursue it until it is brought to fruition. This laser-focus has served me well many times in life, energizing me to earn several degrees. But, I have to admit that the process of my pursuits has not always been peaceful or fulfilling.  Given how driven I felt, I believe it was a life of clinging attachment.

Clinging occurs when I say “I must have that thing or that relationship to be happy”.  Clinging attachment begins innocently as we first have a desire that is normal and natural.  After desire, we begin to identify with the object or person, which can give rise to clinging. “I must have…”.  At this point, we begin to suffer when we cannot have what we have been focused on…clinging to.  Phillip Moffit, in his presentation of The Paradox of Desire states, “the desire does not cause the suffering; it is our relationship to the desire that causes the suffering”. We suffer when we believe we must have an object, a person or a specific outcome to be happy.

What is the path to peace?  Non-clinging attachment happens when you allow yourself to have desires, but to hold them loosely.  To allow yourself to want and to live in a state of “I prefer to have this, but I am ok regardless of having it or not” creates the space required for non-clinging.

In his book, Dancing with Life, Chapter 11, p. 119, Phillip Moffit states, “As one who knows clinging and non-clinging, you have the capability right now, despite all your imperfections, to let loose of clinging in this moment, even if in the very next moment you contract all over again. It doesn’t matter how long you have been lost in clinging, once you become mindful of what you are doing, you simply start over with letting loose because you have the confidence that you can do so.”

Another perspective on letting go is offered by Byron Katie.  She has some life-changing videos on her site that can be very beneficial.  She has also authored books that do a beautiful job of explaining the process of letting go, accepting reality, and loving the life you’re currently living without clinging and grappling for more.

Living in the midst of life-constricting, clinging attachments takes more energy than you know.  Choosing to move from that life perspective to one of freedom and lightness often requires a new awareness and extra support.  We can travel this path together. I invite you to give me a call.