- “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”– Lao Tsu
- The Paradoxical Nature of Understanding
“The whole secret of mysticism is that a person can understand everything with the help of what he does not understand. The logician seeks to make everything clear, and only succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows a few things to remain mysterious, and everything else becomes clear.”
- For whom enough is too little – nothing is ever enough.
Great relationships uplift and empower you. They’re a place of refuge and nourishment, deep connection and understanding. They make life easier, not harder.
However relationships are not for the faint-hearted. It requires super-human self-awareness, a willingness to have tough conversations, and a commitment to doing the work.
But the reward is a relationship that meets our most fundamental needs for security, love, and belonging, right up to our life-affirming needs for personal and spiritual development.
A conscious relationship is a relationship that is:
- created purposefully,
- with intention.
- clarity and choice around how you want your relationship to feel, how you like to love and be loved, and what your boundaries and non-negotiables are.
- It is intentionally structured to support those needs and desires.
Relationships are no longer about simply teaming up to meet our basic needs for food, shelter, and security. Modern relationships go beyond biological needs and into the realm of the emotional and spiritual:
As we ask more of our relationships, our rising expectations lead to increased pressure, and create greater levels of dissatisfaction.
But the relationships that get it right experience more happiness and fulfilment than ever before.
By their very nature, conscious relationships are not prescriptive. You’re not following someone else’s rulebook. You’re writing the rules for yourself.
This means that from the outside, one version of a conscious relationship will look entirely different to another.
Four Important Qualities of Conscious Relationships.
- Radical Responsibility
- Growth Mindset
- Presence & Appreciation
CONSCIOUS RELATIONSHIP QUALITY #1:
Also known as ‘owning your shit’.
Radical responsibility requires taking ownership of your limitations and admitting your short-comings:
- The places where you can do better
- The relationship skills you need to improve
- Your triggers, past hurts, unhelpful coping mechanisms, and your neurotic and compulsive behaviours.
Radical responsibility also means taking ownership of what you want.
Which is surprisingly difficult.
From the day we’re born we’re subject to the relentless conditioning of society.
This makes it hard to differentiate between what you really want, and what you’re supposed to want.
And even if you can identify what you want, we’re taught to prioritise other people’s needs above our own in order to be a ‘good person’ and a ‘good partner’.
Maintaining the status quo feels like the safer (but exhausting) option.
Yet this is how we ‘lose ourselves’ in relationships – by sacrificing our sense of self for the comfort and security of relationships that ultimately don’t serve us.
Instead, radical responsibility asks that you take a courageous stand for yourself – even in the face of rejection or misunderstanding. That you identify your non-negotiables and prioritise them over comfort, security and acceptance. That you admit to having needs, and take responsibility for what’s truly important to you.
This isn’t demanding your own way or refusing to meet your partner’s needs. It’s not making your partner responsible for meeting your needs either. (Being open to influence and learning how to collaborate are essential aspects of a conscious relationship too.)
But it does mean that you refuse to compromise your standards, long-term happiness, or fulfilment for fear of conflict or rejection.
Your needs, your happiness – your LIFE – are your responsibility. If you don’t prioritise them, no one else will.
- Know your personal boundaries and needs
- Validate your own feelings and emotions
- Maintain your friendships
- Prioritise YOU time, passion projects and hobbies
- Be willing to risk rejection for what’s important to you
- Learn to embrace healthy conflict
CONSCIOUS RELATIONSHIP QUALITY #2:
We rarely come into relationships with the best toolkit for success. As radical responsibility identifies – we each have our triggers, past wounds, and unhelpful ways of dealing with conflict.
But a growth mindset assumes we can learn to do better.
All relationships provide the perfect opportunity for those hidden hurts to arise. (That’s why no one will push your buttons quite like your partner does).
A conscious relationship doesn’t see this as a problem however, it sees this as the point.
In a conscious relationship your baggage is brought to the surface so that you can learn to heal and grow through it. It’s how your relationship helps you become a more loving, compassionate, and courageous version of yourself.
A growth-mindset acknowledges that there’ll be times of challenge and conflict in your relationship – but that’s not a bad thing. Anticipating and encouraging these natural relationship growth stages invites us into higher-order thinking and problem solving. It’s an invitation to collaborate, work as a team, and face these inevitable challenges together.
The problem with a growth mindset however, is that growth can easily become over-emphasised.
Most definitions of conscious relationships focus on ‘prioritising growth above all else’. Welcoming growth and change in relationships is healthy and necessary. Constantly seeking it out is not.
Over-prioritising growth will burn out a relationship just as quickly as avoiding it will. A relationship that is constantly ‘processing’ creates imbalance and unnecessary drama.
Despite the ideology pushed by popular personal development memes, you don’t always have to be pushing the envelope or stretching outside of your comfort zone. In secure, high-functioning relationships the comfort zone is prized and valued.
Connection, fun, intimacy, security, relaxation, healing, bonding – even growth – all occur in the comfort zone.
Yes, facing your fears and challenging yourself is important. And, having a safe, nurturing place to integrate those challenges is just as important.
Ultimately, a conscious relationship doesn’t need to force growth. Life already presents endless opportunities to grow. But by adopting a growth mindset you hold yourself to a higher standard in order to embrace that growth, and to move beyond limiting relationship patterns.
CONSCIOUS RELATIONSHIP QUALITY #3:
Presence & Appreciation
Also known as ‘owning your shit’.
Radical responsibility requires taking ownership of your limitations and admitting your short-comings:
- The places where you can do better
- The relationship skills you need to improve
- Your triggers, past hurts, unhelpful coping mechanisms, and your neurotic and compulsive behaviours.
Because there’s no toxic behaviour that can’t be unlearnt. No skill that can’t be improved. No challenge that can’t be worked out. So long as you’re willing to hold yourself to a higher standard and do the work.
The problem with this is that our unresolved relationship baggage tends to lurk in our blindspots. Which by its very name makes it hard to see.
Radical responsibility therefore requires some next level self-awareness:
You have to be willing to show up and grow up. To continually develop your emotional intelligence, your communication skills, and your ability to understand and empathise.
Radical responsibility means taking 100% ownership for your 50% of the relationship.
Quotes from James Balwin’s 1962 essay “The Creative Process,” part of the anthology The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction
“A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”
“Perhaps the primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone. That all men are, when the chips are down, alone, is a banality — a banality because it is very frequently stated, but very rarely, on the evidence, believed. Most of us are not compelled to linger with the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this world. There are, forever, swamps to be drained, cities to be created, mines to be exploited, children to be fed. None of these things can be done alone. But the conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”
‘we have an opportunity in moving beyond the Old World concepts of race and class and caste, to create, finally, what we must have had in mind when we first began speaking of the New World. But the price of this is a long look backward when we came and an unflinching assessment of the record. For an artist, the record of that journey is most clearly revealed in the personalities of the people the journey produced. Societies never
know it, but the war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real.’
Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it’s true for everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace.
The state of birth, suffering, love, and death are extreme states – extreme, universal, and inescapable. We all know this, but we would rather not know it. The artist is present to correct the delusions to which we fall prey in our attempts to avoid this knowledge…
The uses of Art, theories & the societal implications
by Thomas Moulson
Politics is the set of activities that are associated with the governance of a country, state or area. It involves making decisions that apply to groups of members and achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community. The academic study of politics is referred to as political science. Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as “the art or science of government” and “political principles”), but does often colloquially carry a negative connotation. The word has been used negatively for many years: the British national anthem as published in 1745 calls on God to “Confound their politics”, and the phrase “play politics”, for example, has been in use since at least 1853, when abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared: “We do not play politics; anti-slavery is no half-jest with us.”Prologue
Degenerate art (German: Entartete Kunst) was a term adopted in the 1920s by the Nazi Party in Germany to describe modern art. During the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler, German modernist art, including many works of internationally renowned artists, was removed from state-owned museums and banned in Nazi Germany on the grounds that such art was an “insult to German feeling”, un-German, Jewish, or Communist in nature. Those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions that included being dismissed from teaching positions, being forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, and in some cases being forbidden to produce art.
Degenerate Art also was the title of an exhibition, held by the Nazis in Munich in 1937, consisting of 650 modernist artworks chaotically hung and accompanied by text labels deriding the art. Designed to inflame public opinion against modernism, the exhibition subsequently traveled to several other cities in Germany and Austria.
While modern styles of art were prohibited, the Nazis promoted paintings and sculptures that were traditional in manner and that exalted the “blood and soil” values of racial purity, militarism, and obedience. Similar restrictions were placed upon music, which was expected to be tonal and free of any jazz influences; disapproved music was termed degenerate music. Films and plays were also censored.
Under the Weimar government of the 1920s, Germany emerged as a leading center of the avant-garde. It was the birthplace of Expressionism in painting and sculpture, of the atonal musical compositions of Arnold Schoenberg, and the jazz-influenced work of Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill. Films such as Robert Wiene‘s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and F. W. Murnau‘s Nosferatu (1922) brought Expressionism to cinema.
The Nazis viewed the culture of the Weimar period with disgust. Their response stemmed partly from a conservative aesthetic taste and partly from their determination to use culture as a propaganda tool.
On both counts, a painting such as Otto Dix‘s War Cripples (1920) was anathema to them. It unsparingly depicts four badly disfigured veterans of the First World War, then a familiar sight on Berlin‘s streets, rendered in
caricatured style. (In 1937, it would be displayed in the Degenerate Art exhibition next to a label accusing Dix—himself a volunteer in World War I—of “an insult to the German heroes of the Great War”.)
After the war, Dix returned to Dresden and resumed his art practice. Taking inspiration from his wartime activities, he created a print series called “Der Krieg” (“The War”) (1924). The disturbing black-and-white imagery includes such grotesqueries as a skeleton soldier reclining against a cliff with a long rifle aimed at his face; a man with a bloodied brain, eye, and hand, whose tongue lolls out of his mouth; and stormtroopers with eerie masks reminiscent of horror-film villains. Starkness, despair, and inhumanity radiate from the series, which was consciously modeled on Francisco de Goya’s “The Disasters of War” prints (1810–20), which satirize a 19th-century Spanish conflict.
Roth was an atheist who once said, “When the whole world doesn’t believe in God, it’ll be a great place.” He also said during an interview with The Guardian: “I’m exactly the opposite of religious, I’m anti-religious. I find religious people hideous. I hate the religious lies. It’s all a big lie,” and “It’s not a neurotic thing, but the miserable record of religion—I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s not interesting to talk about the sheep referred to as believers. When I write, I’m alone. It’s filled with fear and loneliness and anxiety—and I never needed religion to save me.”
About the Author
Society in Nazi Germany
The Nazis believed in war as the primary engine of human progress, and argued that the purpose of a country’s economy should be to enable that country to fight and win wars of expansion. During the 1930s, Nazi Germany increased its military spending faster than any other state in peacetime.
This was funded mainly through deficit financing before the war, and the Nazis expected to cover their debt by plundering the wealth of conquered nations during and after the war. Such plunder did occur, but its results fell far short of Nazi expectations. The Nazi government developed a partnership with leading German business interests, who supported the goals of the regime and its war effort in exchange for advantageous contracts, subsidies, and the suppression of the trade union movement. Cartels and monopolies were encouraged at the expense of small businesses, even though the Nazis had received considerable electoral support from small business owners. Nazi Germany maintained a supply of slave labor, composed of prisoners and concentration camp inmates, which was greatly expanded after the beginning of World War II. In Poland alone, some 5 million citizens were used as slave labor throughout the war. Among the slave laborers in the occupied territories, hundreds of thousands were used by leading German corporations including Thyssen, Krupp, IG Farben, Bosch, Blaupunkt, Daimler-Benz, Demag, Henschel, Junkers, Messerschmitt, Siemens, and Volkswagen, as well as Dutch corporation Philips. By 1944, slave labor made up one quarter of Germany’s entire work force, and the majority of German factories had a contingent of prisoners.
How do I achieve emotional detachment from someone?Kasey Lofty, lives in Huntsville, AL (1978-present)Answered December 6, 2014
Healthy detachment does not mean complete disengagement as other answers have suggested. It’s just less ENTANGLED and dependent. It starts with the realization no matter how connected the relationship may be, people are still going to make their own choices for their own reasons.
What is detachment?
Detachment is the:
* Ability to allow people, places or things the freedom to be themselves.
* Holding back from the need to rescue, save or fix another person from being sick, dysfunctional or irrational.
* Giving another person “the space” to be his/her self.
* Disengaging from an over-enmeshed or dependent relationship with people.
* Willingness to accept that you cannot change or control a person, place or thing.
* Developing and maintaining of a safe, emotional distance from someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional outlook on life.
* Establishing of emotional boundaries between you and those people you have become overly enmeshed or dependent with in order that all of you might be able to develop your own sense of autonomy and independence.
* Process by which you are free to feel your own feelings when you see another person falter and fail and not be led by guilt to feel responsible for their failure or faltering.
* Ability to maintain an emotional bond of love, concern and caring without the negative results of rescuing, enabling, fixing or controlling.
* Placing of all things in life into a healthy, rational perspective and recognizing that there is a need to back away from the uncontrollable and unchangeable realities of life.
* Ability to exercise emotional self-protection and prevention so as not to experience greater emotional devastation from having hung on beyond a reasonable and rational point.
* Ability to let people you love and care for accept personal responsibility for their own actions and to practice tough love and not give in when they come to you to bail them out when their actions lead to failure or trouble for them.
* Ability to allow people to be who they “really are” rather than who you “want them to be.”
* Ability to avoid being hurt, abused, taken advantage of by people who in the past have been overly dependent or enmeshed with you.
If you are unable to detach emotionally for physically from something or someone, then you are either profoundly under its control or it is under your control.
How to Develop Detachment
In order to become detached from a person, place or thing, you need to:
First: Establish emotional boundaries between you and the person, place or thing with whom you have become overly enmeshed or dependent on.
Second: Take back power over your feelings from persons, places or things which in the past you have given power to affect your emotional well-being.
Third: “Hand over” to your Higher Power the persons, places and things which you would like to see changed but which you cannot change on your own.
Fourth: Make a commitment to your personal recovery and self-health by admitting to yourself and your Higher Power that there is only one person you can change and that is yourself and that for your serenity you need to let go of the “need” to fix, change, rescue or heal other persons, places and things.
Fifth: Recognize that it is “sick” and “unhealthy” to believe that you have the power or control enough to fix, correct, change, heal or rescue another person, place or thing if they do not want to get better nor see a need to change.
Sixth: Recognize that you need to be healthy yourself and be “squeaky clean” and a “role model” of health in order for another to recognize that there is something “wrong” with them that needs changing.
Seventh: Continue to own your feelings as your responsibility and not blame others for the way you feel.
Eighth: Accept personal responsibility for your own unhealthy actions, feelings and thinking and cease looking for the persons, places or things you can blame for your unhealthiness.
Ninth: Accept that addicted fixing, rescuing, enabling are “sick” behaviors and strive to extinguish these behaviors in your relationship to persons, places and things.
Tenth: Accept that many people, places and things in your past and current life are “irrational,” “unhealthy” and “toxic” influences in your life, label them honestly for what they truly are, and stop minimizing their negative impact in your life.
Eleventh: Reduce the impact of guilt and other irrational beliefs which impede your ability to develop detachment in your life.
Twelfth: Practice “letting go” of the need to correct, fix or make better the persons, places and things in life over which you have no control or power to change.
Steps in Developing Detachment
Step 1: It is important to first identify those people, places and things in your life from which you would be best to develop emotional detachment in order to retain your personal, physical, emotional and spiritual health. To do this you need to review the following types of toxic relationships and identify in your journal if any of the people, places or things in your life fit any of the following 20 categories.
Types of Toxic Relationships
* You find it hard to let go of because it is addictive.
* The other is emotionally unavailable to you.
* Coercive, threatening, intimidating to you.
* Punitive or abusive to you.
* Non-productive and non-reinforcing for you.
* Smothering you.
* Other is overly dependent on you.
* You are overly dependent on the other.
* Other has the power to impact your feelings about yourself.
* Relationship in which you are a chronic fixer, rescuer or enabler.
* Relationship in which your obligation and loyalty won’t allow you to let go.
* Other appears helpless, lost and out of control.
* Other is self-destructive or suicidal.
* Other has an addictive disease.
* Relationship in which you are being manipulated and conned.
* When guilt is a major motivating factor preventing your letting go and detaching.
* Relationship in which you have a fantasy or dream that the other will come around and change to be what you want.
* Relationship in which you and the other are competitive for control.
* Relationship in which there is no forgiveness or forgetting and all past hurts are still brought up to hurt one another.
* Relationship in which your needs and wants are ignored.
Step 2: Once you have identified the persons, places and things you have a toxic relationship with, then you need to take each one individually and work through the following steps.
Step 3: Identify the irrational beliefs in the toxic relationship which prevent you from becoming detached. Address these beliefs and replace them with healthy, more rational ones.
Step 4: Identify all of the reasons why you are being hurt and your physical, emotional and spiritual health is being threatened by the relationship.
Step 5: Accept and admit to yourself that the other person, place or thing is “sick,” dysfunctional or irrational, and that no matter what you say, do or demand you will not be able to control or change this reality. Accept that there is only one thing you can change in life and that is you. All others are the unchangeables in your life. Change your expectations that things will be better than what they really are. Hand these people, places or things over to your Higher Power and let go of the need to change them.
Step 6: Work out reasons why there is no need to feel guilt over letting go and being emotionally detached from this relationship and free yourself from guilt as you let go of the emotional “hooks” in the relationship.
Step 7: Affirm yourself as being a person who “deserves” healthy, wholesome, health-engendering relationships in your life. You are a good person and deserve healthy relationships, at home, work and in the community.
Step 8: Gain support for yourself as you begin to let go of your emotional enmeshment with these relationships.
Step 9: Continue to call upon your Higher Power for the strength to continue to let go and detach.
Step 10: Continue to give no person, place or thing the power to affect or impact your feelings about yourself.
Step 11: Continue to detach and let go and work at self-recovery and self-healing as this poem implies.
* To “let go” does not mean to stop caring; it means I can’t do it for someone else.
* To “let go” is not to cut myself off; it’s the realization I can’t control another.
* To “let go” is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.
* To “let go” is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
* To “let go” is not to try to change or blame another; it’s to make the most of myself.
* To “let go” is not to care for, but to care about.
* To “let go” is not to fix, but to be supportive.
* To “let go” is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
* To “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own destinies.
* To “let go” is not to be protective; it’s to permit another to face reality.
* To “let go” is not to deny, but to accept.
* To “let go” is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
* To “let go” is not to criticize and regulate anybody, but to try to become what I dream I can be.
* To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
* To “let go” is to not regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
* To “let go” is to fear less and love myself more.
Step 12: If you still have problems detaching, then return to Step 1 and begin all over again
Johann Hari – Causes of Depression
9 factors causing depression (7 are psychosocial, and 2 are biological)
Psychological reasons and upsets give rise to the physical symptoms of depression.
Disconnection from work that gives meaning and purpose (little control or autonomy in your work).
Disconnection from people (feeling profoundly lonely). Not sharing any meaningful experience with any other people.
Disconnection from meaningful values. Focusing on materialism, and doing things purely for extrinsic rewards instead of intrinsic reward.
Disconnection caused by childhood trauma. For every traumatic experience, you go through as a child it significantly increases the likelihood of a later diagnosis of depression.
Disconnection from respect. Modern life cultivates the view that status, celebrity and wealth are what denote success and anxiety over the loss of financial security and status often are underlying constant stress in people.
Disconnection from the natural world. Faced with the vista of the natural world we feel ‘small’ not ‘big’, and we feel like we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Animals in captivity rock, lose interest in sex (why they are so hard to breed in captivity) and show other compulsive and depressive behaviors they don’t exhibit in the wild. We are animals. We need to be outdoors. Rates of depression when exercising in the natural world, and spending time outdoors all reduce in comparison to time spent outside. We often feel ‘more alive’ when outdoors in nature. Grounded.
Disconnection from loss of hope for a better future.
The role of genes and biology in depression. Neuroplasticity means the brain is continually growing and changing and does not stay the same. This means the concept of a ‘broken’ brain that cannot be fixed is not supported by current scientific evidence. However, distress from the external world and brain changes occur together which lead to depression. Johann Hari in his book “Lost Connections” on page 146, says that these changes in the brain can then “acquire a momentum of their own that deepens the effects from the outside world.”
Scientists have discovered that for depression there is a 37% genetic inheritance, BUT for those who carry the gene and are born with it — the inherited gene HAS to be activated by your environment.
It is WHAT happens to you in life that determines if that gene for depression is switched on or not.
Biological factors can influence depression as it has been proven that suffering either glandular fever or underactive thyroid can significantly increase the rates of depression in people who are vulnerable.
Some forms of bipolar are seen by some (not all) scientists as having a greater biological component, but psychosocial factors are still seen as influencing and affecting all forms of depression.
When I studied psychology at university, I learned about the bio-psycho-social model about mental health. However, when I went to the doctors with acute symptoms, not one doctor has ever asked me:
“What happened to you?”
What has happened in your life?
What happened in your childhood?
What happened to you in the last year that has been a major trigger?
What support systems do you have in your life?
Do you have friends?
Do you have a family? Do you have a supportive family?
How is your marriage?
How are your children? What is happening to them?
How is your job? Are you fulfilled at work?
A psychiatrist that I was referred to 20 years ago when I had attempted suicide asked me all these questions over the period I saw her. I do not think I would be alive today if it were not for her superb care and attention to help me create new meaning rebuilding my life.
But the doctor gave me a prescription for some pills, and I was out the door in 10 minutes. I was given a chemical solution.
None of them ever fully worked. I increased the dosages to the maximum each time.
I stayed on the medication for over five years the first time.
I lost my sex drive.
I put on weight.
I felt flat and numb.
But I felt I could not exist without the medication. At least I was alive. That is how I felt.
It felt like my emotional pain increased too much when I tried to come off the tablets.
I went back on medication nearly a year ago. This new antidepressant does not affect libido and is meant to have no side effects when you come off it (no withdrawal symptoms). I tried to go off it a few months ago and started to get panic attacks and so started it again.
I then started to see a therapist who does body somatic therapy based on the work of Dr. Peter Levine on healing people from complex PTSD.
I can feel huge changes within my body and my ways of thinking since I have been exploring this healing modality on a regular basis.
I was told by my doctor to stay on the antidepressant for a minimum of one year before I tried to come off it. So I am going to do that.
What do I make of all this research as put together and researched by Johann Hari?
It all makes complete sense to me.
Stress is usually characterized as an unpleasant and unwelcome feeling that expresses itself both physically and mentally. The effects of stress range from irritability and anxiety to raised blood pressure and heart disease. When you think of stress in these terms, it’s no wonder you spend so much time trying to manage or avoid it altogether.
But what if, instead of stressing over how to rid your life of stress, you focused on ways to use it to your advantage? What would happen if you perceived stress as a helpful companion with benefits to offer rather than as an irritating foe out to make your life harder?
As Dr. Kelly McGonigal describes in her book The Upside of Stress, it is this shift in mindset that allows you to have a healthier, even beneficial relationship with stress. Dr. McGonigal, a health psychologist, once shared the same stance a majority of health professionals have adopted: stress is bad and you need to eliminate it immediately before it affects your health. However, she discovered that perceiving stress through such a negative lens can actually be harmful to your health. On the other hand, when you view stress as a helpful tool and motivator, and learn how to harness it to your advantage, your health is less likely to be negatively affected. In fact, stress may actually be good for you if you learn to embrace it and use it properly.
Benefits of Stress
Often when you think of stress, the first thing to come to mind are its negative symptoms (i.e., panic, headache, tightening in the chest, etc.). But stress actually has an abundance of benefits to offer, such as:
Stress can serve as a great motivator for reaching goals or accomplishing simple tasks. Whether it’s landing a new job promotion, meeting a deadline, or tackling a to-do list, a little stress can push you to take action. If you didn’t feel any stress at all, you might not feel inclined to break out of your comfort zone, which is essential for personal growth.
When you experience small amounts of stress, you are actually building up your resistance to future stressors. According to the American Psychological Association, over time humans are wired to adapt to stressful situations by building personal coping systems.
Boosting Cognitive Function
A 2013 study from the University of California – Berkeley found that acute stress can generate new nerve cells in the brain, improving cognitive and mental performance. According to the authors of the study, a certain amount of stress can promote:
- Optimal levels of focus
- Improved memory
- Enhanced learning of new tasks
Using Stress to Your Advantage
If stress has its benefits, then how do you take advantage of them? How can you make stress work for you rather than against you?
Retrain Your Brain
As previously discussed, how you view stress can determine how it affects you. Retraining the brain to view stress as a helpful tool rather than a roadblock will take time as the latter has likely become deeply ingrained. While it will take some practice, it is possible to change your response when stress rears its head.
Replace the negative thoughts that typically arise at the first sign of stress with more positive ones, such as, I’m experiencing stress and welcome it fully. Then, think of how you could best use it to solve a problem or reach a goal. How can you make the stress work for you?
Tip: Don’t stress over trying to think of a way to best use stress! This strategy will get easier over time. If you’re unable to think of how to take advantage of whatever stressor you’re facing, simply accept that it’s there. Sit with it rather than flee from it.
Reframe Your Perspective
When you attach purpose to a difficult situation, it becomes easier to handle or, at the very least, motivates you to handle it. When you reframe stressors in order to add meaning to your life, you are giving your stress a positive purpose.
Perhaps its purpose is one of the above benefits discussed such as motivating behavior, building resilience, or boosting cognitive performance, or it could be something else entirely. Pairing stress with a purpose will allow you to broaden your perspective as to why it exists and the benefits it provides.
Sometimes you feel stressed and can easily identify the cause; other times you’re unsure where it stems from. Pinpointing the root cause of your stress puts you in a position to work with it rather than against it. When you feel the symptoms of stress, either physically or psychologically, but don’t know what’s brought it on, you may feel as though you aren’t in control of what’s happening. However, identifying its origins and approaching it within a more positive framework puts you back in the driver’s seat.
Stress is a part of everyday life, and as much as you might try to will it away, it will inevitably creep up again. By making stress your ally, you can learn to use it to your advantage and perhaps even learn something new in the process. So next time you’re feeling stressed, accept it as part of the journey and embrace it whole-heartedly. You might be surprised by the result.
‘This happens because the means or mechanisms by which public attention is attracted and sustained is almost irrelevant to the modern MassMedia.. This internal inconsistency arises simply because the specific content of media is subordinated to the guiding necessity to attract and sustain public attention in a competitive media environment.’
Nietzsche: ‘What does not kill us will make us stronger’.
What is mind? No matter!
What is matter? Never mind!
Professor Ashok Sharma feels that science fails to understand consciousness as an independent entity. He says, “Science cannot integrate a non-physical entity, like consciousness, into its conceptual framework, and views human personality as a non-conscious physical system.” Consciousness, according to Prof Sharma, is a non-physical entity, which is essentially different from the four basic entities of space, time, energy and matter of the conventional science. Consciousness does not have any physical attribute or property or action.
“There is an urgent need to reinterpret the Vedic texts in modern terms – a task which is now possible with the availability of computers and the recent developments in the fields of cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence and theories of knowledge representation”, says Prof Sharma
Prior to the age of reason, mysticism and revelation served as the primary source of knowledge and wisdom in the western world. With the advent of the Enlightenment, however, a schism would emerge between the comprehension of physical realities through religious thinking and the drive to understand the material universe through empirical reasoning. Though the tension between these contrasting approaches has taken on many different forms since then, it has essentially continued to this day.
One of the barriers to reconciling these dichotomous positions has been the relative lack of reliable scientific data to explain the nature of the “self” and the phenomenon of consciousness. Where, for instance, does the “self” originate? Does our consciousness have an objective reality, or is it purely an epiphenomenon of our neurobiological processes? And is it indeed plausible to speak of an atemporal, nonlocalized mind that exists independently of the physical body?
While Buddhism has a rich contemplative tradition for the first-person exploration of states of consciousness, it never developed the sciences of the brain and behavior that we have in the modern West. So the integration of the first-person methodologies of Buddhism with the third-person methodologies of the cognitive sciences may lead to a richer understanding of consciousness than either Buddhist or Western civilization has discovered on its own.
‘It is easy to view consciousness as a kind of magic, either in the name of religion and souls, or by how alien it at first appears to science. But many fields, such as the study of life many years ago, have their popular magical states eroded by careful scientific study. I will be robustly arguing here that consciousness is in the midst of a similar revolution.’
Consciousness is in many ways the most important question remaining for science, says Daniel Bor. he continues, ‘Whether I’m revelling in a glowing pleasure or even if I’m enduring a sharp sadness, I always sense that behind everything there is the privilege and passion of experience. Our consciousness is the essence of who we perceive ourselves to be. It is the citadel for our senses, the melting pot of thoughts, the welcoming home for every emotion that pricks or placates us. For us, consciousness simply is the currency of life. Although some philosophers and scientists suspect that consciousness is a pointless side effect of thought, I believe the opposite, that our consciousness might indeed be responsible for our greatest intellectual achievements, both in the arts and sciences. Whether our creativity and insight originates in our unconscious mind or not (I believe that the role of the unconscious has been over-estimated here), at the very least, our consciousness is the conduit to inspect these gems of inspiration, and the driving force for turning them into reality.
‘I happen to believe that it is only a matter of time before we generate real consciousness in computer form, and if we assume that a mouse, say, is conscious, then I think so will computers be within 10 or so years. Human consciousness may take far longer to artificially manufacture, but this is merely an engineering issue, rather than something that is in principle impossible in any being that isn’t a human with its biological brain. Most of us, I think, share this intuition at times.’
The only instrument humanity has ever had for directly observing the mind is the mind itself, so that must be the instrument to be refined.
‘Characters like Data in Star Trek, or the replicants in the film Bladerunner, are utterly believable as robots with human-like consciousness. And both these characters help us explore the difficult future ethical decisions we may face surrounding beings we manufacture, who may match us in awareness, intelligence and possibly also the capacity to suffer
Will science be able to come up with some consciousness meter that works not only on other animals, but even other robots as well?’
‘Strangely, although many of us have no problem believing that Data is conscious, we carry conflicting beliefs that our own awareness is quite different to the biological computer in our own heads, even though many neuroscientists (including me) cold-heartedly claim that consciousness is entirely supported by our brains, and will disappear when we die…’
‘Francis Crick, one of the giants of 20th century science, with an untamed curiosity, and a first-rate intellect to accompany this, dissented from this meek view. He decided after a long, sparkling career in genetics, which included the discovery of the structure of DNA, to spend the last period of his life to cracking the science of consciousness. Although he sadly didn’t live to see a clear solution to the problem, he made some critical progress. More important than this, though, he helped make consciousness an acceptable field for science to study.
So how does science get a foothold on such a difficult topic as consciousness? Actually, it’s not really as difficult as all that. Most of science breaks down to exploring some process by manipulating it as much as possible and observing the effects. Consciousness is no different.’
“Mind has fixed compartments. Fixedness is the nature of mind and fluidity is the nature of life. Mind is a choice. Life is not logic.” Osho.
‘If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinion for or against.
The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes
is the disease of the mind.’ Sosan
The eyes may be wide open during sleep. They do not see anything, because the mind is not there!