What’s the secret for making a long distance relationship work?

The keys to making a long distance relationship work are the same as in any other committed relationship: honesty, good communication, trust, and making efforts to stay connected.  The only difference is that couples in long distance relationships might have to be more creative about how they stay connected.  Skype, email, text and phone calls are the norm, but little thoughtful things also become very important.  Examples would be sending a card, flowers, or thoughtful mementos that are symbolic of your physical presence.

“…couples in long distance relationships…have to be more creative about how they stay connected.”

Credit – Holland Miller

Mid-Life issues

During one’s life-span there are stages and transitions to be navigated. By mid-life one has typically lived through several developmental tasks, and experiences which may have included education, career, marriage, family life, and being part of a community.

“We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie” Carl Jung

Also with middle-age comes having gone through successes, failures, joys, and disappoitments. How one learns, gains wisdom, and continues to enrich one’s life with these experiences can prepare the later years with anticipation, excitement, enjoyment or the lack of. Mid-life counseling can help you to not idealize a past, but to assist in finding meaning, passion, and still contribute to your life and the lives of others. If coping skills, problem-solving skills, or resiliency has not been successful in your life, these can still be learned and new habits can add energy, fulfillment, and satisfaction to your life.

Self Esteem

Self esteem is the ability to have and enduring sense of worth, value, and self-acceptance. Often we reject parts of ourselves, and judge ourselves harshly. To avoid feeling worse we often develop defense mechanisms that compound the issue. We often blame, get angry, become perfectionists, brag, make excuses, or turn to alcohol and drugs, or other numbing, addictive behaviors.

“…we often develop defense mechanisms that compound the issue”

One can begin to change these patterns by changing the way you interpret your life by uncovering faulty thinking, negative self talk, and self-judgment. Skills can be learned to change negative thinking, beliefs, and ways of interpreting information. Self compassion and a commitment to non-judgment and self-acceptance, while doing the work to improve one’s self-concept is the focus of therapy.

Credit: Jan Doty

Just One Thing

This post and information are provided directly from Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing the free e-newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart.

———-

Over the past few weeks I’ve been learning something about the craving, broadly defined, that leads to suffering and harm. For a long time I have tried to see how chasing pleasant experiences and struggling with unpleasant ones is a normal but inherently doomed strategy for lasting happiness. I’ve found great though sometimes uncomfortable truth in this perspective, call it futility. But lately an additional truth has been landing – frankly, a more enjoyable one – that of fullness, the truth that you are already safe and strong, fed and fulfilled, and loved and worthy.

This second truth is hard to recognize, mainly because your brain is lying to you to help you survive (to put it bluntly). Thus this week’s JOT: feel already full. When you have the chance to feel at all peaceful, happy, loved, or loving – take it in. Let it sink into you, weaving its way into your brain. Then over the time there will be less and less cause inside your body and mind for that craving which leads to suffering and harm.

For me, the felt recognition of fullness has been deeply pleasurable and fulfilling. It’s a profound practice – which is why this JOT is a little longer than usual – and I hope you like it. And this week’s one minute video tracking the chapters in my book, Just One Thing, is very relevant: Feel Safer (the audio is a bit funky, sorry).

Also:
Mindful Hub invites you to visit their website this month for short daily meditations, inspirational essays, and mindful movement exercises that encourage letting go.

*  The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, is a world-class resource for mindfulness, compassion, empathy, parenting, and positive psychology. GGSC has a phenomenal website chock-full of useful information. It also puts on regular workshops, brings out vital books, supports first-rate research, and has a fantastic newsletter. I’m on its Advisory Council and can tell you from direct experience that it has a great and unique combination of academic prowess, heart, and service.

Warmly,

Rick

#104 | 12/7/12

Just One Thing

Just One Thing (JOT)is the free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind.A small thing repeated routinely adds up over time to produce big results.Just one thing that could change your life.

(© Rick Hanson, 2012)

 

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Rick Hanson, PhD 
This comes from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited lecturer at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard universities. See Rick’s workshops and lectures.
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Feel already full.

Why?

One slice of the pie of life feels relaxed and contented. And then there is that other slice, in which we feel driven and stressed. Trying to get pleasures, avoid pains, pile up accomplishments and recognitions, be loved by more people. Lose more weight, try to fill the hole in the heart. Slake the thirst, satisfy the hunger. Strive, strain, press.

This other slice is the conventional strategy for happiness. We pursue it for four reasons.

1. The brain evolved through its reptilian, mammalian, and primate/human stages to meet three needs: avoid harms, approach rewards, and attach to others. In terms of these three needs, animals that were nervous, driven, and clinging were more likely to survive and pass on their genes – which are woven into our DNA today. Try to feel not one bit uneasy, discontented, or disconnected for more than a few seconds, let alone a few minutes.

2. You’re bombarded by thousands of messages each day that tell you to want more stuff. Even if you turn off the TV, worth in our culture is based greatly on accomplishments, wealth, and appearance; you have to keep improving, and the bar keeps rising.

3. Past experiences, especially young ones, leave traces that are negatively biased due to the Velcro-for-pain but Teflon-for-pleasure default setting of the brain. So there’s a background sense of anxiety, resentment, loss, hurt, or inadequacy, guilt, or shame that makes us over-react today.

4. To have any particular perception, emotion, memory, or desire, the brain must impose order on chaos, signals on noise. In a mouthful of a term, this is “cognitive essentializing.” The brain must turn verbs – dynamic streams of neural activity – into nouns: momentarily stable sights, sounds, tastes, touches, smells, and thoughts. Naturally, we try to hold onto the ones we like. But since neural processing continually changes, all experiences are fleeting. They slip through your fingers as you reach for them, an unreliable basis for deep and lasting happiness. Yet so close, so tantalizing . . . and so we keep reaching.

For these reasons, deep down there is a sense of disturbance, not-enoughness, unease. Feeling threatened and unsafe, disappointed and thwarted, insufficiently valued and loved. Driven to get ahead, to fix oneself, to capture an experience before it evaporates. So we crave and cling, suffer and harm. As if life were a cup – with a hole in the bottom – that we keep trying to fill. A strategy that is both fruitless and stressful.

All the world’s wisdom traditions point out this truth: that the conventional strategy for happiness is both doomed and actually makes us unhappier. The theistic traditions (e.g., Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity) describe this truth as the inherently unsatisfying nature of a life that is separated from an underlying Divine reality. The agnostic traditions (e.g., Buddhism) describe it as the inherent suffering in grasping or aversion toward innately ephemeral experiences.

Call this the truth of futility. Recognizing it has been both uncomfortable and enormously helpful for me, since you gradually realize that it is pointless to “crave” – to stress and strain over fleeting experiences. But there is another truth, also taught in the wisdom traditions, though perhaps not as forthrightly. This is the truth that there is always already an underlying fullness.

When this truth sinks in emotionally, into your belly and bones, you feel already peaceful, happy, and loved. There is no need for craving, broadly defined, no need to engage an unhappy strategy for happiness. And you have more to offer others now that your cup is truly full.

How?

Recognize the lies built into the conventional strategy for happiness to wake up from their spells. Mother Nature whispers: You should feel threatened, frustrated, lonely. Culture and commerce say: You need more clothes, thinner thighs, better beer; consume more and be like the pretty people on TV. The residues of past experiences, especially young ones, mutter in the background: You’re not that smart, attractive, worthy; you need to do more and be more; if you just have X, you’ll get the life you want. The essentializing nature of cognition implies: Crave more, cling more, it will work the next time, really.

As you see through these lies, recognize the truth of fullness. In terms of your core needs to avoid harms, approach rewards, and attach to others, observe: that you are basically alright right now; that this moment of experience has an almost overwhelming abundance of stimulation, and you probably live better than the kings and queens of old; and that you are always intimately connected with all life, and almost certainly loved. Regarding our consumerist and status-seeking culture, consider what really matters to you – for example, if you were told you had one year to live – and notice that you already have most if not all of what matters most. In terms of the messages from previous experiences, look inside to see the facts of your own natural goodness, talents, and spirit. And about the impermanent nature of experience, notice what happens when you let go of this moment: another one emerges, the vanishing Now is endlessly renewed.

Abiding in fullness doesn’t mean you sit on your thumbs. It’s normal and fine to wish for more pleasure and less pain, to aspire and create, to lean into life with passion and purpose, to pursue justice and peace. But we don’t have to want for more, fight with more, drive for more, clutch at more. While the truth of futility is that it is hopeless to crave, the truth of fullness is that it’s unnecessary.

Finding this fullness, let it sink in. For survival purposes, the brain is good at learning from the bad, but bad at learning from the good. So help it by enriching an experience through making it last a 10-20 seconds or longer, fill your body and mind, and become more intense. Also absorb it by intending and sensing that it is sinking into you as you sink into it. Do this half a dozen times a day, maybe half a minute at a time. It’s less than five minutes a day. But you’ll be gradually weaving a profound sense of being already fundamentally peaceful, happy, loved, and loving into the fabric of your brain and your life.

Feel Safer - Just One Thing
Feel Safer – Just One Thing