Tag Archives: happiness

‘Why can’t we be more like dogs?’- Lessons of compassion and mindfulness from dogs…

My kinda life blog- writing about how you can create more self-compassion in your life and some small actions you can take to increase your wellbeing.  My kinda life is a new project where I will share my daily or weekly, life insights with you.

The name and inspiration to start this came from my friend Nathanael Wolfe, all the way in Oakland, California, gratitude to you for directing me into purposeful action.

Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. Dr. Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as being composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.”  My kinda life will bring these academic concepts alive and show you ways to apply them in your life.

I have been spending a lot of time pondering, wondering what is my purpose, what is the meaning of life, what is my passion, tough questions, not easy to answer.  This time I have created with space to be and decide my direction in life brings me joy that I have choices to work or not to work.  The work and life I lead connects to what I value.  For the last seven years I have been very interested in compassion and how to increase my own compassion (Compassion means “to suffer together.”) and enable others to become more compassionate.  There is a lot of research being collected showing the benefits to your wellbeing when you take a compassionate approach to life.  I was never really a big fan of too much empathy, you need empathy to understand others, too much and I found it draining, I also found this is the case for other people, intuitively i knew this from my observations of people that are too empathetic.  The good news is that you cannot have enough compassion and the more you have the happier you can be right now.

Why not spend a little time ‘working out’ with a little self-compassion a day, I love Chris Germer and his quote “A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”

Let’s get started, the first blog-

‘Why can’t we be more like dogs?’- Lessons of compassion and mindfulness from dogs…

FullSizeRender-3Yesterday sitting in a park close to where I live taking in the last rays of summer, although we are in autumn now. Watching the world around me and inside me. Seeing the sky and colours, with white lines like a painting. Watching people walking and running along the paths. Seeing all types of people. In the main park where the grass is the dogs are having the most fun, running to smell each other, wagging their tails. Bouncing here there and everywhere. Do they know something we do not know? The excitement to be there in that moment and see and smell each other.  Dog’s are having more fun than human beings in some of the most beautiful parts of nature.  Why can we not be a little more dog and less human?

 

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Ok a crazy thought you might think and especially from me someone who is afraid of dogs because my mum was afraid.  I now understand more about dogs from the many people that love dogs, so I can watch them and understand what they are doing, when they are bouncing after a shit and wagging their tale when they are happy.  The dog’s I was watching were all different in their appearance, their shape, size and colour, yet they came together in union and togetherness.

Because they are authentic and do what they feel, they are easier to read than people who spend a lot of time pretending to be someone else and hence not very happy.

Lessons from dog’s you can test out today-

  • Smile to a stranger, say hello, greet them as you would your best friend,
  • Be present and pay attention for 1 minute to what somebody else is saying,
  • Silently wish someone else well, say may they be well, may they be happy,
  • What 1 activity can you do today with a little playfulness and joy just to be there in that moment?

Let me know how it goes…

With kindness to you today,

Harpal

 

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The Science of Awe and Happiness

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Dacher Keltner at the Facebook day on Compassion.  He is the founder of the wonderful resource that is the Greater Good Science Centre   affiliated with the University of California Berkeley.   Their mission is to share “the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teach skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.”  They bring the science to everyone in laymans terms, out of the journals, readable and accessible for the Greater Good. 11021501_1032548076775339_7654141530162080764_o

I was introduced to Dacher’s work on Awe at last years conference in the US.  It was not something that I had heard academics talk about in the UK, so I was listening deeply to his talk and insights.  I was lucky enough to see him again sharing his good work with the Facebook and Wisdom community in 2015.  He began by giving us his definition of Awe:” being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” (2009) Followed by a brief history from Protagoras’s origin story to Max Weber (1905) and political awe.  Awe was originally something we associated with divine beings.  In 1757 Edmund Burke, an Irish philosopher wrote about how we feel sublime (awe) in our everyday experiences of life and not just our relationship with God.  Currently at Berkley they are studying people’s narratives of awe, people share extraordinary experiences they have had, although frequently awe is described in response to everyday experiences we encounter. 11034369_1025591857470961_125969728909191542_o

They have found studies showing the awe-altruism link, spending time present in things that are larger than we are, encourages a more modest, less narcissistic self, which enables greater kindness towards others.  In the consumerist lives we live in, it is all ‘me,me,me’ and when we do not get what we want instantly we can all get impatient that our needs are not being met.  We are so important, that we always want to be heard and what we think and know, is more important than another person.  So our ego’s are constantly being bombarded and boosted with the messages we get from the media and society.  To balance this it could be good practice to realise how small we are in this big world around us, where we are all inter-connected.  Opening our eyes to this connection with nature and others in awe experiences alone or with others could be good for our health.  I am all for practising increasing our wellbeing when times are ok and good, to help us in the tougher more painful times we will experience.

In the Berkley lab they have been studying one branch of the immune system called cytokine system.  They are chemical messengers, produced by cells in damaged tissues. Cytokines evoke an inflammatory response, which is important for killing pathogens and healing wounds.  Research in Psychology is showing that a hyperactive cytokine response can result in chronic sickness and vulnerability to disease.  Jennifer Stellar did some work highlighting of all the positive emotions we experience, only awe predicted reduced levels of cytokines. 10845591_1025591800804300_1708689584248563800_o

If you want to explore more on the Science of Happiness you can take the MOOC (Massive, Open, Online, Course) Free course on the science of happiness from some of the experts in the field.  At times like these I love technology, bringing us closer to the knowledge and wisdom available, where money and our location is no longer an excuse.  Information is available so much of it, we are bombarded, this course could change your life for the better or you can also try out another course Science of Happiness – The 30 Days Happiness Program with Manuel Kraus.

If online courses are not your thing and you will be in London on the 9th May you can explore happiness live with real human-beings, in real time with co-founder Shamash Alidina and The Musuem of Happiness event.

If you want to find out more about Awe you can watch one of Dacher’s talks here-

To close, gratitude to the awesome 😉 Dacher for his work and practising what he preaches.  He talks about ‘seeking more daily awe’, what can you do to create more awe experiences in your day or your week?  Share them and comment on the blog below.

Happy bank holiday to those of you in the UK, a very good opportunity to practice getting out there in nature and consuming some awe experiences for the Greater Good!

Recording of Facebook presentation on the Science of Happiness and Awe: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/59295100 or Slides from presentation: http://bit.ly/1x1s3my

Reference-

Stellar, J. E., John-Henderson, N., Anderson, C. L., Gordon, A. M., McNeil, G. D., & Keltner, D. (2015, January 19). Positive Affect and Markers of Inflammation: Discrete Positive EmotionsPredict Lower Levels of Inflammatory Cytokines.
Emotion. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000033

The nature of awe: Elicitors, appraisals, and effects on self-concept (2007)-http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/dacherkeltner/docs/shiota.2007.pdf 

 

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