Mental Health

Discovering silence and solitude

It is surprisingly difficult for us to handle silence. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) the brilliant French mathematician and philosopher famously wrote, “All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, they cannot stay quietly in their own room.” I find that amazingly profound. It is even more true today in our frenetic fast paced technology driven world than it was in the 17th century when he first made that observation. The reason why we so much struggle to sit quietly on our own, Pascal continues is the “natural poverty of
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How to make stress your friend

Kelly McGonigal is a Stanford University health psychologist. She seeks to translate academic research into practical strategies for health, happiness and personal success. The following 14 minutes talk by her illustrates the power of how our thinking about stress dramatically affects our overall health and well-being. [ted id=1815 lang=en] Her talk is based on 3 observations. The first starts with a 2012 study that tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for 8 years. The study was based on 2 simple questions:
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Learning from the real James Bond

James Bond Stockdale (1923-2005) was by any stretch of the imagination, a remarkable man.  In his own words, he described how at one moment, he was “on the top,” the admired commander of over 1000 men and over 100 pilots fighting in the Vietnam War, “confident” and “self-satisfied,” a man who thought he had “found every key to success.” All that changed on 9 September 1965 when he was shot down and in a matter of minutes became “an object of contempt” and a “criminal” in the eyes of the North Vietnamese. He recounted in
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What was the real James Bond thinking?

James Bond Stockdale was the highest ranking United States military officer in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the peak of the Vietnam War. His life reminds me of the James Bond of fiction, but has much more meaningful lessons to teach. (For more on that see Could This Be The Real James Bond?) What were the thought processes of someone who spent almost 8 years in prison, including 4 years in solitary confinement and was tortured over 20 times? He lived out the war without any prisoner’s rights, no set
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Could this be the real James Bond?

All through my life I have often been on the look out for heroes. I remember as a child first being drawn to Superman. Later on at the age of about 8 I went to the cinema with my Dad to watch the actor Sean Connery play James Bond. Subsequent Bond movies have continued to make him out to be a hero worth admiring. But growing up I found it harder and harder to identify with Bond. He was way too athletic, had the emotional sensitivity of a bull in
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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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    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.