Category Archives: Take in The Good

Choose To Love

~ Rick Hanson's Wise Brain Blog ~

choose loveWhen we choose to love, we have to set aside the busy-ness in our lives and choose people. I challenge you to create a shared ritual in your own life, if not daily, then at least weekly? Think how it would feel to provide the powerful comfort of your attention to another human being on a regular basis? How would it feel to receive that same attention in return? You and the people you love are worth it. – Terri

What does your heart say? By Dr. Rick Hanson

Many years ago, I was in a significant relationship in which the other person started doing things that surprised and hurt me. I’ll preserve the privacy here so I won’t be concrete, but it was pretty intense. After going through the first wave of reactions – What?! How could you? Are you kidding me?! – I settled down a bit. I had a choice.

This relationship was important to me, and I could see that a lot of what was going through the mind over there was really about the other person and not about me. I began to realize that the freest, strongest, and most self-respecting thing that I could do was both to tell the person that we were on very thin ice . . . and to choose to love meanwhile. To my surprise, instead of turning me into a doormat or punching bag, love actually protected and fueled me. It kept me out of contentiousness and conflict and gave me a feeling of worth. I was interested in what the other person was going to do, but in a weird way, I didn’t care that much. I felt fed and carried by love, and how the other person responded was out of my hands.

I got interested in “loving at will,” in how to go to the upper end of the range of what is authentically available to a person in terms of feeling or expressing compassion, good wishes, and warmth. You shouldn’t falsify what’s truly going on with you, nor let yourself be mistreated. But whatever this range is for you in any moment in any relationship, it’s your choice where you land within it. I became less caught up in how I wanted the other person to think and feel and act, and more focused on my own practice of finding and re-finding some sense of love. It felt kind of like I was strengthening the heart like a muscle. I joked with myself that I was doing love pushups (not the sexual kind!)

If it’s authentically within reach, you can deliberately, even willfully settle yourself in love as a central quality in your mind. This is not phony: the love that’s there in you is genuinely there. In fact, choosing to love is twice loving: it’s a loving act to call up the intention to love, plus there is the love that follows.

Looking back, my shift out of quarreling and into a healthy feeling of lovingness helped things get better with this person. And the relationship taught me a good lesson: Love is more about us being loving than about other people being lovable.

How?

Start with someone that’s easy to feel love around. Relax a bit. Take a breath or two and come home to yourself. Sense into the area of your chest and heart. Be aware of what compassion and kindness feel like; perhaps call up the sense of a time when you felt very loving. Ask yourself, Can I feel loving now? Open to a natural warm-heartedness. Choose to love. Take a dozen seconds to open to feeling as loving as you can in your body. Take in this experience, let it sink into you. This will strengthen the neural trace of the experience – a kind of emotional memory – and make it easier to call up the next time. Also register the sense of deliberateness, of choosing to love.

Then try these methods with someone you feel more neutral about, such as a stranger on the street. Eventually, try this approach with someone who is difficult for you. It could help to be more aware of the other person’s stresses, worries, and longings. Without staring, look closely at him or her for ten seconds or so. Can you let your heart be moved by this face? Get a sense of the different external and internal forces pushing and pulling the other person this way and that – perhaps leading him or her to do things that hurt you or others. Let your eyes relax, and get a sense of the bigger picture. Disentangle from the parts, and open into the whole.

Let love be there alongside whatever else is present in your relationship with the other person. There is love . . . and there is also seeing what is true about the other person, yourself, and circumstances affecting both of you. There is love . . . and there is also taking care of your own needs in the relationship.

Love first. The rest will follow.

The post Choose To Love appeared first on Dr. Rick Hanson.

How Dogs Help People Get Along Better

How Dogs Help People Get Along BetterI have had many dogs in my life, and I have often experienced the mood boost and support that can come from spending time with a furry creature. Their warmth and fluffiness have been life-supports in times of need. This article explains the research suggesting why dogs help people and can be a benefit in many types of situations.I also had a dog named Casey who was the most friendly and loving dog I ever knew! – Terri

How Dogs Help People Get Along Better

By Jill Suttie | March 6, 2017 A new study suggests that when dogs are around, groups are closer, more cooperative, and more trusting.  

My dog, Casey, is one of my favorite beings on the planet. Not only is he extremely cute, his presence calms me, makes me happy, and helps me to meet new people…especially when I take a walk with him.

My husband and I often joke that if everyone had a dog like Casey, there simply wouldn’t be any wars—the assumption being that everyone would just get along if he were around. Now, a new study suggests that we might be onto something.

Researchers at Central Michigan University gave small groups tasks to do with or without a companion dog in the room. In the first experiment, groups generated a 15-second ad and slogan for a fictional project—a task requiring cooperation. In the second experiment, groups played a modified version of the prisoner’s dilemma game, in which individual members decide whether to cooperate with one another or to look out only for themselves. All of these interactions were videotaped.

Afterward, participants reported on how satisfied they felt with the group and how much they trusted group members. In addition, independent raters analyzed the video recordings, looking for displays of cooperation, verbal and physical signs of bonding or closeness, and expressions of vulnerability that indicated trust.

Regardless of the task, groups with a dog showed more verbal and physical signs of closeness than groups without a dog. Also, raters observed more signs of cooperation during the first task, and group members reported that they trusted each other more during the second task, if a dog was in the room.

These results suggest that there is something about the presence of a dog that increases kind and helpful behavior in groups.

“When people work in teams, the presence of a dog seems to act as a social lubricant,” says lead author Steve Colarelli. “Dogs seem to be beneficial to the social interactions of teams.”

Why would that be? Could it be that dogs make us feel good, which then impacts our social behavior?

To test that idea, the researchers asked independent raters to watch 40-second videos of the groups edited from the first study—with the sound off and no evidence of the dog in the room—and to note how often they saw indicators of positive emotions (like enthusiasm, energy, and attentiveness). The raters noticed many more good feelings in groups with a companion dog in the room than in groups with no dog, lending some support for their theory.

Although the dogs didn’t seem to impact performance on the group tasks during this short experiment, Colarelli believes that the observed social and emotional benefits could have impacts on group performance over time.

“In a situation where people are working together for a long period of time, and how well the team gets along—do they speak together, have rapport, act cooperatively, help one another—could influence the outcome of the team, then I suspect a dog would have a positive impact,” he says.

Of course, not everyone likes dogs, and some people may even be allergic. Colarelli says that we shouldn’t just start bringing dogs into every workplace—there would be a lot of factors to consider.

But his work adds to a body of research that suggests that dogs impact social interactions and personal well-being. Past studies have shown that people accompanied by dogs tend to elicit more helpful responses from others and that dogs in the workplace can reduce stress. Though most of this kind of research has been done on individuals or pairs, Colarelli’s study shows the positive impacts of dogs may extend to groups.

While the study is relatively preliminary, Colarelli believes that his results tie into another area of research finding positive effects when people are exposed to natural elements—which he thinks could include dogs and other animals—on wellness in the workplace.

Perhaps it’s time I consider letting Casey come to our next staff meeting…for everyone’s sake.

Not enough

~ Prepare-Enrich.com ~

Today, I woke up and thought, I didn’t get enough sleep. I got ready for the day, made breakfast, and ran out the door thinking, I don’t have enough time to get to work by 8:00am. Once I got to the office, I glanced at my schedule for the day and thought; I don’t have enough time in the workday to complete all of these tasks.

My common thought throughout this morning was “not enough.”

It’s really unfortunate that my first four hours of this beautiful Tuesday were spent feeling largely inadequate.

I recently read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, a researcher who focuses on vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. This book resonated with me for a variety of reasons, but one idea in particular spiked my interest with its applicability into the context of relationships – the idea of “not enough.” Thinking back to my experience this morning, I’m sure you can relate, but I started wondering if others can relate to this feeling of inadequacy in their relationships?

I’m not successful enough.not enough

I’m not communicating enough.

I’m not attractive enough.

I’m not smart enough.

I don’t support my family enough.

I don’t encourage my husband enough.

These ideas infiltrate our minds through mainstream media and social media. We see couples romanticized in television episodes and idealized in #RelationshipGoals posts. Sometimes, we compare our relationship to past relationships or to a fantasied idea in our mind. We even compare our relationships to previous versions of themselves – which isn’t healthy either. If you are like me and sometimes feel like you are “not enough,” then you probably have spent some time comparing and contrasting your relationship and yourself.

Brené takes this idea of “not enough” and identifies three components: shame, comparison, and disengagement. She also provides hope – feeling “not enough” can be challenged with awareness, commitment, and work.

My husband and I are committed to our marriage and each other; we exemplify this by working on our relationship a lot – a perk of the job I suppose! In spite of that, I feel burdened by shame, comparisons, and disengagement. This burden translates to feeling “not enough.” From checking in regularly with my husband, I know, every so often, he feels this way too. What I’m realizing is that we need to focus more on being aware. We need to become more mindful of when we feel shame, over compare, and disengage.

If we become more aware, be vulnerable in the process, and knock out some of that “not enough” feeling, I know our relationship will be stronger.