How To Make Stress Become a Friend

Worth Reading From Off the Web — Excerpts from https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend

A major study concluded that people who experienced a lot of stress but did not view stress as harmful were no more likely to be negatively affected, and, in fact, had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study, including people who had relatively little stress.

The researchers estimated that over the eight years they were tracking deaths, 182,000 Americans died prematurely, not from stress, but from the belief that stress is bad for you.

That is over 20,000 deaths a year. Now, if that estimate is correct, that would make believing stress is bad for you the 15th largest cause of death in the United States last year, killing more people than skin cancer, HIV/AIDS and homicide.

Okay. Some bad news first. People who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year had a 43 percent increased risk of dying. But that was only true for the people who also believed that stress is harmful for your health

So this study got me wondering: Can changing how you think about stress make you healthier? And here the science says yes. When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.

How to make stress your friend

Symptoms of stress — pounding heart, sweaty palms, hyperventilating, etc., — what if you viewed them instead as signs that your body was energized, was preparing you to meet this challenge? That is what one group of participants were told in a study conducted at Harvard University. Before they went through the social stress test, they were taught to rethink their stress response as helpful: That pounding heart is preparing you for action. If you’re breathing faster, it’s no problem. It’s getting more oxygen to your brain. And participants who learned to view the stress response as helpful for their performance, well, they were less stressed out, less anxious, more confident, but the most fascinating finding to me was how their physical stress response changed.

Now, in a typical stress response, your heart rate goes up, and your blood vessels constrict. And this is one of the reasons that chronic stress is sometimes associated with cardiovascular disease. It’s not really healthy to be in this state all the time. But in the study, when participants viewed their stress response as helpful, their blood vessels stayed relaxed. Their heart was still pounding, but this is a much healthier cardiovascular profile. It actually looks a lot like what happens in moments of joy and courage. Over a lifetime of stressful experiences, this one biological change could be the difference between a stress-induced heart attack at age 50 and living well into your 90s. And this is really what the new science of stress reveals, that how you think about stress matters.

So the next time your heart is pounding from stress, think to yourself, “this is my body helping me rise to this challenge.” When you view stress in that way, your body believes you, and your stress response becomes healthier.

Now I want to tell you about one of the most under-appreciated aspects of the stress response, and the idea is this: Stress makes you social.

To understand this side of stress, we need to talk about a hormone, oxytocin.

Oxytocin is a neuro-hormone. It fine-tunes your brain’s social instincts. It primes you to do things that strengthen close relationships. Oxytocin makes you crave physical contact with your friends and family. It enhances your empathy. It even makes you more willing to help and support the people you care about. But here’s what most people don’t understand about oxytocin. It’s a stress hormone. Your pituitary gland pumps this stuff out as part of the stress response. It’s as much a part of your stress response as the adrenaline that makes your heart pound. When oxytocin is released in the stress response, it motivates you to seek support. Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel instead of bottling it up. Your stress response wants to make sure you notice when someone else in your life is struggling so that you can support each other. When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you.

Because of this hormone’s social component, your stress response becomes healthier, and you actually recover faster from stress. I find this amazing, that your stress response has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience, and that mechanism is human connection.

For every major stressful life experience, like financial difficulties or family crisis, that increased the risk of dying by 30 percent. But that wasn’t true for everyone. People who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase in dying. Zero.

And the harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable. How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress. When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.

Read more at:

https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend

5 Ways To Transform ANGER into Something Good

“And God said, “Love your enemy,” and I obeyed him and loved myself.”

~ Khalil Gibran

We all get angry from time to time. Even the most enlightened of us would be lying if they said they didn’t. Anger is often a natural response to horrific situations. For example: the on

ly moral response to innocent people getting bombed, whether by military action or terrorist action, is anger.

The question is this: is your anger controlling you (lizard brain), or are you controlling it (evolved mind)? Are you merely a puppet to the emotion of your anger, or are you able to turn the tables and become the puppeteer? Are you a victim of your emotions or a hero with emotional intelligence?

Most of us act the way we feel. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. We do have a choice. With enough discipline we can feel the way we act. For example: we can “feel” afraid but “act” courageously. Similarly, we can “feel” road rage but “act” calmly. With enough practice we can eventually feel the way we act, even in response to something as extreme as terrorism.

 Through such emotional alchemy, transforming anger into a higher emotion really is a choice. The key (as with the following five ways) is practice, discipline, and making emotional intelligence a habit. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

1) Transform anger into strength

“In almost every bad situation, there is the possibility of a transformation by which the undesirable may be changed into the desirable.” ~ Nyanaponika Thera

Anger can give you profound strength: in mind, body, and soul. It’s your responsibility to focus your anger enough to harness this strength. Focused anger becomes sacred anger. But this first requires honoring the anger for what it is, and for where it stems.

We too often suppress our anger, or avoid it, or pretend we’re not mad. But such suppression festers and all too often leads to a blowup farther down the road. In order to avoid such a blowup it behooves you to put your anger into focus. Put it under the microscope of your emotional intelligence. Analyze it. There is passion in anger. And where there is passion, there is love. And where there is love, there is strength.

So when it comes to anger, choose furious dancing over uncomfortable depression, or even comfortable suppression. Negotiate with your anger in order to transform the passion at its center into strength. Embrace it. Accept it. Wrestle with it, gently. Dance with the fire. Then waltz it into something worthwhile. If it burns you up, rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

Life is too short to live it second-guessing your passion. Be fierce. Dance furiously despite the anger that seeks to burn you. There’s almost always strength hidden there. Like Deepak Chopra said, “The secrets of alchemy exist to transform mortals from a state of suffering and ignorance to a state of enlightenment and bliss.”

2) Transform anger into exercise

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” ~ Mark Twain

That passion at the center of anger can also be transformed into powerful energy: Qi, Prana, Pneuma, Mana. Use it in the park, in the arena, in the field of play. Twain said anger is an acid? So be it. Transform that acid into fuel. Use that fuel for the fire of becoming a better version of yourself. Use it in your kung fu. Use it in the gym. Use it playing sports. Burn it out of you so that it doesn’t burn you out. Whatever you do, don’t keep the acid of your anger bottled up. You are a sacred vessel and acid erodes even sacred vessels. Put it in your vessel’s fuel tank instead, and then burn baby burn! Spar with it. Shadow-box it out. Better yet – shadow-box with your inner shadow. Now that is some meta-catharsis, right there.

3) Transform anger into art

Again, the key to alchemizing anger, is harnessing the passion at its center. This most definitely applies to transforming anger into art. Anybody who has ever read poetry by Sylvia Plath or writings by Friedrich Nietzsche can attest to that.

If you gaze upon Picasso’s Guernica and tell me he didn’t paint that with a focused rage against the ignorance of war. Or take Banksy’s political art charged with righteous anger against tyrannical oppression. Transforming anger into art is a kind of rage enlightenment: a self-actualized creativity discovered through the channeling of anger into a heightened state of awareness, where rage becomes a fire that cooks things rather than burns them. With just the right amount of focus, at just the right temperature, the passion at the center of anger can, and often does, get turned into some amazing art. And there’s absolutely no reason why you cannot do the same. Forget talent. Forget genius or giftedness or skill. So what if others can do it better? Nobody even has to see it.

Create art with all of your passion. Channel your deepest anger into art, and watch in amazement as it alchemizes into soulful poetry.
Like Nietzsche powerfully said,

“Of all writings I love only that which is written with blood. Write with blood: and you will discover that blood is spirit.”

4) Transform anger into civil disobedience

“Love does not imply pacifism.” ~ Derrick Jensen

Use your focused anger like a surgeon’s scalpel slicing open the Achilles Heel of the violent and immoral system that has been propped up over you without your consideration. Use your focused anger like Jesus flogging bankers in the New Testament. Jesus saw an immoral system unfolding before him, so he dug deep, tapped into his righteous anger, and practiced civil disobedience despite the orthodoxy of the time. There’s no reason why you cannot do the same. As Howard Zinn said, “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.” Deep, focused anger can be a boon of sacred energy if we learn to use it wisely and courageously. This kind of sacred anger lifts us up and compels us to empower the powerless despite the powers that be, or to inspire the poor despite the overindulgences of the  rich. The type of focused anger that would rather live a life of uncomfortable freedom than a life of comfortable slavery. Such anger is sacred precisely because it instills in us an unstoppable courage. The kind of courage that declares to the overreaching powers that be, “I will not stand idly by while you decide who lives and who dies. I am unstoppable; another world is possible. And I will do everything in my power to build it, whether you approve of it or not.”

5) Transform anger into a good sense of humor

 The best way to achieve an emotional state flexible enough to be able to use anger as a transformative tool is to practice and to cultivate a good sense of humor. A good sense of humor flips all scripts. It transforms “the jokes on me” into “so what, it’s funny.” Powerful stuff.

In fact, a good sense of humor is so powerful that it is the only thing more powerful than power itself. I mean, a good sense of humor is immune to power constructs. It subsumes them. It transcends power precisely because it is able to laugh at power and not take things too seriously. A good sense of humor takes nothing too seriously, especially not power. And when the passion at the heart of anger is effectively transformed into a good sense of humor, the person cultivating it is truly a force to be reckoned with. No power in existence can stand in the way of a person with a good sense of humor. No authority. No king. No queen. No government. No army. No God. Not even death, because a good sense of humor laughs it all away.

It’s all water off a ducks back, and you’re the duck! Such sacred laughter puts all things into proper perspective. It’s all an illusion. It’s all a game. But, and here’s the rub, it’s a sacred illusion. It’s a sacred game. And you are the infinite player interdependently playing it all out. The cosmic joke becomes self-actualized. You’re no longer the butt-end, nor will you ever be again, for you have attained the almighty rank of The One Who Laughs.

Like Alan Watts said,

“Life is a matter of oscillation. Life is vibration. The question is:

How are you going to interpret that? Is it tremble, tremble, tremble;

Or is it laugh, laugh, laugh?”

Read more at: https://fractalenlightenment.com/36114/life/five-ways-to-use-your-anger-more-effectively | FractalEnlightenment.com

“The difference between outrage and understanding – is peace.”

When we feel a strong emotion, we are mistaken if we believe it confirms the truth. Feelings are always a response to a belief – ALWAYS! 

It can be incredibly powerful to ask yourself (which requires awareness of the mind/ thought) … IS IT TRUE?  Where’s my evidence? (..and, is that true)

I find that anything less than compassionate inquiry leads to misunderstanding (and paranoia, separation, anger, fear… all the icky stuff!).

Give yourself the gift of inquiry – for your own peace of mind.

Taking Hold of Your Mind(fulness)

Mindfulness Practice

Tools from off the web!BeingPresent

 

OBSERVE

· JUST NOTICE THE EXPERIENCE. Notice without getting caught in the experience. Experience without reacting to your experience.

· Have a “TEFLON MIND,” letting experiences, feelings, and thoughts come into your mind and slip right out.

· CONTROL your attention, but not what you see. Push away nothing. Cling to nothing.

· Be like a guard at the palace gate, ALERT to every thought, feeling, and action that comes through the gate of your mind.

· Step inside yourself and observe. WATCH your thoughts coming and going, like clouds in the sky. Notice each feeling, rising and falling, like waves in the ocean. Notice exactly what you are doing.

· Notice what comes through your SENSES – your eyes, ears, nose, skin, tongue. See others’ actions and expressions. “Smell the roses.”

 DESCRIBE

· PUT WORDS ON THE EXPERIENCE. When a feeling or thought arises, or you do something, acknowledge it. For example, say in your mind, “Sadness has just enveloped me.” . . . or

….”Stomach muscles tightening”, or . . . “A thought, ‘I can’t do this’ , has come into my mind.”

or,

… “walking, step, step, step . . .. “

· PUT EXPERIENCES INTO WORDS. Describe to yourself what is happening. Put a name on your feelings. Call a thought just a thought, a feeling just a feeling. Don’t get caught in content.

 PARTICIPATE

· Enter into your experiences. Let yourself get involved in the moment, letting go of ruminating.

BECOME ONE WITH YOUR EXPERIENCE, COMPLETELY FORGETTING YOURSELF

· ACT INTUITIVELY from wise-mind. Do just what is needed in each situation – a skillful dancer on the dance floor, one with the music and your partner, neither willful nor sitting on your hands.

· Actively PRACTICE your skills as you learn them until they become part of you, where you use them without self-consciousness.

PRACTICE:

I. Changing harmful situations.

2. Changing your harmful reactions to situations.

3. Accepting yourself and the situation as they are.

see original:

Taking Hold of Your Mind: “What” Skills.