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From mindfulness to what a therapist wants you to know, our blog is filled with helpful information to get you through your day-to-day.



I regularly hear from people that they ‘want to be happier’. An understandable desire. However, if someone is feeling low, the next step is not to feel happy, but it is to feel. And rarely do I hear anyone say, “Can you help me feel more sadness, more anger, more fear?” along with their request to feel more happiness.

Some of the world’s most common ideas about happiness create what is referred to as a “happiness trap”. These ideas, created by Russ Harris, are misleading and when you believe them or let them rule your life, it often makes you feel shame, stress, or just plain miserable!


So what are these myths, and how do they impact you?


Myth 1: Happiness is the natural state for human beings.

This is the idea that perpetual happiness is the natural state for human beings. The myth goes that if you give a person enough food, shelter, and connection, they will feel happy all the time. The reality of being human, though, is that we experience an ever-changing flow of emotions – which is normal and natural. This is the natural state – to have a range of different experiences and emotions, from joy to despair and all the other emotions in between. No one is happy 24/7 – regardless of what we see in the world around us.

Myth 2: If you are not happy, you are defective.

For many reasons, our society assumes that any sort of mental suffering is abnormal. It’s viewed as a weakness or an illness. This means that when we do experience painful thoughts and feelings, we often criticize ourselves for this. The reality is that if you are not always happy – you are normal. Human life is difficult a lot of the time and our minds are tricky – often getting us caught up in something. Sometimes life is pleasant and we are happy, and sometimes life is hard. We are not defective or broken if we are not always happy. Our mind is just doing its job – the thing it evolved to do.

Myth 3: To create a better life, we must get rid of negative feelings.

We live in a feel-good society, a culture obsessed with finding happiness. Everywhere we look, people are happy. Social media is a “happiness reel”. So what does society tell us to do? To eliminate ‘negative’ feelings and accumulate ‘positive’ ones in their place. It’s a nice theory, because after all, who wants unpleasant feelings?

But here is the catch: the things we generally value in life bring with them a full range of feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant. Think about a relationship. Although you experience positive feelings such as love and joy, you will also inevitably experience disappointment and anger. This holds true for just about every meaningful thing we embark on.

Myth 4: You should be able to control what you think and feel.

We have much less control over our thoughts and feelings than we would like. But, it’s not that we have no control, we just have a larger amount of control over our actions. And it’s through action we create a meaningful life – which brings us happiness!


There are many approaches that teach us to identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones or the repetition of positive affirmations. The basic theme of these approaches is that if you challenge your negative thoughts or images with positive ones, you will find happiness. If only life were that simple. It’s not that these techniques have no effect; they can often make you feel better temporarily. But they will not get rid of negative thoughts. The same holds true for negative emotions.


Emotion, in and itself, is not the issue. It’s all of what we do to avoid, eliminate, or run from it. We don’t get to choose to only feel happy and skip over other feelings like anger or sadness. Thoughts and feelings pass – they are not permanent. It is what we do with these thoughts and feelings that break the vicious cycle. Welcome the thoughts and feelings in, be right here and now with them.


These myths set us up for a struggle we cannot win: the struggle against our own human nature. When we can see beyond these myths about happiness, we have the opportunity to connect deeply to all the aspects of our life, including the highs and lows, the ups and downs. We can live with more self-acceptance, presence, and embrace ourselves and our life – wholeheartedly.

Until next time,

Jackie



“Your value as a human does not come from what you look like on the outside”


I can remember the countless times I would be scrolling through social media and have thoughts of “I wish I looked like that”, or “I’m so fat compared to her”. Or looking in the mirror, just full of hate towards how I looked. And sadly, I know this is more common than it is not.


Body positivity. It’s a term that thrown around a lot on social media regularly. But what does it mean? For me, initially, it simply was changing your mindset and seeing your body in a positive view rather than always thinking about it in a negative one.


Take a minute to think about what it means to you.


There are many definitions and perspectives, and over the years, I’ve learned it is much more than that.

To me, it means your worth is not dependent on what your body looks like or the number on the scale. It is a journey of learning to accept your body for what it is, and what it does for you on a daily basis so that you don’t let your insecurities or unrealistic ideals about beauty and health hold you back from living life.

It is striving to be your best self.


I believe it’s a state of mind and place of the heart where you can make choices for yourself in a place of love, rather than hate.

It’s throwing out the fashion rules of the past that force or shame us to hide and shrink away.

It’s allowing us permission to put on that two-piece bathing suit, to slay that downward dog facing position, to look in the mirror at your body, smile, and say “I love it”.

It is focusing on what you do with your body, and what the next person does with theirs does not concern you.

It’s always easier said than done. I understand that and recognize that somedays there are going to be better days than others. You are not alone in how you are feeling. Welcome to a series of blogs on everything from self-esteem and body-image of ourselves and within our relationships, to weight-shaming and body comparison. It is not an easy journey to feel confident and happy in your body, but it’s a rewarding feeling to give your body the love it deserves. It’s my hope this content will help you along your journey.


Until next time,

Jackie


If somebody told me last year that we would be facing a major health challenge that is impacting the whole world, it would have been unimaginable. Yet here we are.

At the end of 2019, when I first heard about Coronavirus, I did not think too much about it. Fast forward a couple of months to mid-February, returning home from a trip down south, and I recognized it was becoming a larger health issue based on the precautions being taken at the airport, but again, I did not think it would be something that impacted me. At the beginning of March, when there were more positive cases coming into the area, just days before a global-wide pandemic was announced, I still was believing this was not something that would impact me, making plans for seeing friends and family, and believing that this was being “blown out of proportion”. Days later, the global pandemic is in full-force, and first hand seeing the drastic changes and guidelines being implemented for our safety, I was sitting with these constant thoughts of “what is this going to look like? How is this going to impact me?” That is when it hit me – we are facing unprecedented change.


Fast forward, we are going into week 12 of this pandemic. Ten weeks ago, I could not have imagined where we are now. There has been plenty of feelings, and I have been seeing how this is impacting people so differently. I know myself; I have been feeling anxiety for myself and my family in terms of our health. Myself, as well as my close family members, are still going into work every day, so there is always that risk. But it is not just the anxiety of contracting the virus, it is also the fear and uncertainty about what is happening to society, what is happening to the economy, what is happening to our friends and relatives. One of the biggest questions I wonder is when I will be able to hug my family and friends again.


In addition to the anxiety, there has been a lot of grief. We have all lost something through this. We have lost our normal day-to-day interactions and routine. We have lost our ability to connect with people, and these restrictions make it more challenging to socially connect with people. We have also lost that sense of certainty. The sense of uncertainty about the future generates a strong threat or alert in our limbic system. Our brain detects that there is something wrong, and we lose our ability to focus. It’s a type of pain or distress we want to avoid. Our need to feel in control and to know what is coming next makes us feel secure, it is essentially a survival mechanism. So obviously, with all the uncertainty with this pandemic, it makes sense that there is an increase in the unpleasant feelings.


For many people, myself included, the uncertainty surrounding this challenge is the hardest thing to handle. We might not have control over this virus or the impact it is having, but we can challenge ourselves to control the way we are responding to what is happening. There are many things we can do – even in the face of this unique crisis – to manage anxiety and fears.


Taking care of yourself is so important in order to be able to take care and help out your friends and family. Set time each day to engage in a self-care or self-soothing activity (i.e., music you enjoy, spending time in nature, journaling, baths, meditation, practicing gratitude, distraction activities, meditation, etc.)

  • Taking care of your physical health, including eating well-balanced meals, regular sleep, physical activity, maintaining personal hygiene, and physical distance.

  • Connecting with friends, family, and co-workers. Just because we physically isolate, does not mean we socially isolate! There are many options with modern technology to keep us connected

  • Keeping routines as consistent as you can and setting goals for yourself

  • Cutting back on social media. Not all the information on there is accurate, so use reputable sources for staying informed.

Being kind to yourself. Be mindful of the inner critic and remind yourself that you can only do the best you can.

I also think reframing goes a long way too. We are learning something about ourselves through this. Resilience is a powerful word. It doesn’t mean that we don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, or suffering, but rather our ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from the challenging times. We learn to get through difficult life events. History has shown us time and again that our strength is how we create, survive, and prosper during the worst of times.


These circumstances have provided us all an opportunity to become resilient, to learn more about ourselves and how we can grow, and prove our ability to come together and respond in an emergency in a way that is thoughtful, caring and contributes to improving the situation for all of us. Living through this experience is allowing us to learn about ourselves, and gaining perspective around what is really important in the world.


Resources:

Here 24/7 – Crisis Support – 1-844-437-3247 Homewood Health for Mental Health and Substance Use Support – 1-866-585-0445 ConnexOntario – Addiction, Mental Health, and Problem Gambling Services – 1-866-531-2600 Narcotics Anonymous – online meetings: https://virtual-na.org/ Alcoholics Anonymous – online meetings: https://aa-intergroup.org/


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