No matter what the situation
we are responsible for our own mind states
A short presentation by the always entertaining Robert Sapolsky, showing how prolonged exposure to the stress response causes more problems than stress itself:
Not holding on is tough to do because we are not honest a lot of the time which is because of fear - the fear of losing our self-image. The social pressure to get ahead and win is so ingrained that we are anxious about failure.
This anxiety about doing becomes an anxiety about being, because in a driven life, doing is being: you’re supposed to be doing and you are assessed by it.
One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible…..The need to diet, which we know so well in relation to food, and which runs so contrary to our natural impulses, should be brought to bear on what we now have to relearn in relation to knowledge, people, and ideas. Our minds, no less than our bodies, require periods of fasting.
The snow returned briefly yesterday, and today there is a bitter north wind. When times are grey or cold, or if our mood is blue (as this week is purported to be) we need to consciously notice the moments of colour and warmth in our lives, explicitly savouring them a little longer. We have to let positive facts become positive experiences. Just as Mary Oliver does when she pays attention to the red bird in this poem. What were or are the moments of colour in your day today that you can be grateful for? Who or what brought warmth? Allow yourself to feel good if you achieve something however small, if someone smiles or if you notice a good quality in yourself. As studies have shown, the more you take in the good in little details, the more your brain tilts towards the positive in an overall sense.
Still, for whatever reason —
perhaps because the winter is so long
and the sky so black-blue,
or perhaps because the heart narrows
as often as it opens —
I am glad
that red bird comes all winter,
firing up the landscape
as nothing else can do.