Mental Health

3 more life lessons on turning 50

Thank you for your messages, texts, calls and kind words this last week as I turned 50. I was truly blown away by them. Armed with that encouragement I feel inspired to add a few more life lessons! So please bear with one further indulgence this week. I am continuing to reflect on the implications of turning 50 with the hope that it may help some as well as at least provide some guidance away from mistakes I have made. While there is a world of difference between 50 years
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Podcast #004 Combatting Depression

Joanna Swinney is a remarkable young lady. She is a writer, speaker and editor. She is married to Shawn, an associate vicar and is the mother of two young girls. She also has a life-long battle with depression.  Jo is author of the book “Through The Dark Woods: A Young Woman’s Journey Out of Depression.” On this podcast I interview Jo about her life and the lessons she has learnt and is learning about the dreaded D word. Jo is refreshingly frank and honest about her life. Quoting from James
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What is resilience and why do you and I really need it?

I’ve come to believe that resilience is one of the key life skills of the 21st century. Indeed over the last few decades I have been challenged in my own personal life to reflect on how resilience is central to finding true and meaningful success in life. (For more on that see How Would You Define Success? Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). But what exactly do we mean by resilience? it certainly does not  come naturally. Here is how the late 19th to early 20th century writer Oswald
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How increasing flow increases happiness

We have been exploring this 18 minute video by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced ‘chick-SENT-me-high) that introduces the concept of flow. Flow is understood to be an important ingredient to overall levels of happiness. It is the creative moment when you are completely involved in an activity for its own sake. [ted id=366 lang=en] Csikszentmihalyi and colleagues have interviewed over 8,000 people from around the world who enjoy their work. The range is incredibly broad from business executives to Dominican monks, to blind nuns, Himalayan climbers and Navajo shepherds. They found that regardless of
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Could there be a link between being in the flow and being happy?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced ‘chick-SENT-me-high) is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University in California. He has researched and written extensively on factors that contribute to what makes a life worth living. The 18 minute TED talk below summarises his over 40 years of research into where in everyday life, in our normal experiences, do we feel really happy. [ted id=366] He points out that in the United States while 30% of people surveyed described their life as very happy, over 40 years since 1956 this proportion has hardly
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How Actually Expressing Your Gratitude Can Be Beneficial To Your Mental Health

The following 7 minute video powerfully illustrates why when we take the time to actually show someone how much we appreciate them the effects can be truly transforming. I would encourage you to take 7 minutes out of your day to watch this video. I don’t think you will be disappointed and it may well make your day. What the video shows using real live human scenarios is that one of the greatest contributing factors to overall happiness in your life is how much gratitude you genuinely show and express
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The Power of Human Connection

Yes I know it is an advert, but the short 2 minute video below from Thailand beautifully illustrates the power of  human connection. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kiq_TrEdbl4 It is certainly a sweet, feel-good video, but strong interpersonal connection is not just important for babies! We were designed as relational beings and we thrive best in every area of life when we are strongly ‘in relationship’ with others. However, there is something about modern life that seems to conspire agains this. A study published in August 2014 by Relate, a relationship charity in Britain,
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The lies we tell ourselves about joy

Our hearts are hungry for joy. We think it is our circumstances that need changing, but joy goes well beyond our circumstances as this powerful and joy-filled video illustrates: As children we looked to all sorts of things for joy fulfilment. I gave some examples from my own life in the previous post. The other huge area where this expresses itself is with romantic love. For me as a teenager growing up in an all boys school in England that was a huge subject to deal with. And it still
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Why is joy more important than happiness?

I don’t think it is a matter of semantics. We have looked at the importance of a happy disposition in life, but we also need to make a distinction between happiness and joy. What is the distinction? The following 4 minute video of  Nick Vujicic who was born with no arms and legs is incredibly joyful: Nick is able to show an incredible amount of happiness in spite of his apparent limitations because he has joy. That joy empowers him, as he says on the video “to be thankful, to
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Why Gratitude can be so Powerful

We have been looking at the importance of gratitude as a key to overall happiness in life (see previous post). We have also pointed out how psychologists have estimated that life circumstances only account for about 10% of a person’s overall level of happiness (see the happiness formula at Why I Am Working at Becoming a Happier Person). According to psychologists, 90% of your overall level of happiness has to do with who you are and what you do. Intuitively we know life will always have its ups and downs and
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The importance of gratitude in becoming a genuinely happier person

For much of my life I have been a ‘glass half-empty’ negative kind of person. I am not proud of that. Given a choice I will tend to find my mind drifting towards the worst case scenario. When they were younger some of my children gave me the nickname “Pudleglum”.  Puddleglum is a fictional character from C.S. Lewis’ children’s novel, “The Silver Chair”. He is caricature of pessimissim and a bastion of gloomy fortitude.  (see post What Are The Forms of Major Depressive Disorder? and my own personal struggle with
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Why I am working on becoming a happier person

We are use to the idea of training our physical bodies to become physically fit. There are distinct things we can do to become a stronger and healthier person- eating the right foods, exercising regularly and consistently are the obvious things that come to mind. By applying the Law of Process I can make huge changes to my physical health. That is certainly well established and uncontroversial. But can I actually train myself to be an overall happier person? Shawn Achor, a teacher of positive psychology at Harvard would give
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What do you think makes you happy?

The 12 minute video below is a talk given by Sean Achor, who is an American educator, author and speaker. It is both entertaining and funny while at the same time challenges our assumptions as to what are the factors that can truly make us happy. One of Achor’s main points is the importance of mindset to increasing our potential for happiness, productivity, creativity and energy. This flies in the face of  much of formal education which seeks to focus on what is called “the cult of the average”. 
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What is the most complex object in the universe?

You can make a pretty strong case for saying that the human brain is the most complex object in the known universe.  It contains 100 billion nerve cells (called neurones). Each of these neurones contains a vast electrochemical complex and powerful micro-data-processing system. As complex as each cell is it would fit on the head of a pin! In the last 150 days of intra-uterine life, the brain is apparently developing neurones at the rate of 580,000 a minute! Each neurone connects to another neurone through anywhere between 1,000 to
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9 reasons why you could be feeling down. Particularly #4

We all have times when we feel down or deflated. For a clinical diagnosis of depression, doctors consider nine specific symptoms. Major depression is diagnosed from persistent low mood and loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities along with at least four of the other symptoms for at least two weeks. (See Is The Rate of Depression Actually Increasing or Not?) But whether depression is classified as major, moderate or minor, as far as the individual is concerned its all major. Rather like all minor surgery if it is
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    This information is for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to be personal medical advice. Please ask your physician about any health guidelines seen in this blog, as everyone is different in his or her medical needs.