Pursue What Matters
Episode 47: Book Review: In This Moment
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Who needs some presence? Boy, I think we all do. The ground has shifted underneath our feet. So today I’m reviewing a really great book. And it’s all about helping you settle into this one moment. It’s the only moment you have. So let’s make it a good one. Let’s jump in.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:22
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the pursue what matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Boy, it’s been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks, can you believe how the world has changed. So a few weeks ago, life was going about normal. You know, we’re getting ready for spring, getting ready for spring break, maybe some of you were on spring break, and then the world came to a screeching halt. At least that’s what it felt like. So most of us are on lockdown. Most of us are homeschooling, I say homeschooling in quotes. Some are doing better than others. But we have never needed presence more than ever. The anxiety is so high right now, there’s a lot of worry, a lot of worry about our health, a lot of worry about our jobs, worry about the economy. And it’s so easy to let anxiety get the best of us. But you know, the The reality is, it’s possible to thrive in the face of uncertainty. And we definitely are dealing with a lot of uncertainty right now, these are unprecedented times, we’ve never had an experience like this in our lifetime. But it is possible to thrive, it is possible to to remain grounded in the midst of the chaos swirling around us. And today, I want to talk about a really great book that can help us to stay grounded.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:23
So this is a book that is all about the power of mindfulness. Now, you know, if you’ve listened to the podcast for more than, say, a minute, then you already know that I’m a big fan of mindfulness. And that’s mostly because I totally need it. I am not naturally a calm or relaxed person. But over the years, I have found mindfulness to be incredibly helpful to me personally. And I would just say, you know, definitely in the last two weeks with, you know, everything unraveling around us, mindfulness and meditation practice has been incredibly value valuable to me personally. And then also professionally, as I’ve been talking with leaders and clients in my clinical practice, it’s been incredibly helpful. And this book that I’m reviewing, In This Moment: Five Steps to Transcending Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience is really, really great. It’s been around for a while. It’s simple, its straightforward, which is exactly what we need right now. And it does such a great job of helping us understand neuroscience, so that we can become a friend to ourselves, so that stress doesn’t do us. And, you know, we we’ve all felt maybe a little unraveled recently. And it’s time to pull ourselves together and get some grounding. And, you know, this book can help us with that. And I think one of the great values of this book is it really helps us to make the connection with neuroscience. And it’s not too complicated. It’s very simple. It’s very straightforward. So let’s go ahead and jump in and do a review of this great book In This Moment.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:08
So the book is all about building skills to help you become more resilient to stress. So this is a practical book, the author’s totally acknowledge that while stress is a normal part of life, for many of us, it’s become very chronic, and we become hyper reactive to it. So much so that it becomes begins to take a toll on our mental and physical health. And it is very true that stress is an actually a normal part of our life. Right? I mean, that that is absolutely true. Like, there’s no way to eliminate stress and that would not be functional. Stress is a natural and normal part of our life. But when it becomes chronic, that’s when we run into trouble with both our mental and our physical health. So of course Many of us can feel the effects of stress every day. Some of the side effects of stress include headaches, lack of energy, nervousness, anger, faster resting heart rate, palpitations, nausea, awaking, increased or decreased appetite, increased risk of diabetes need to go on, right? So there’s a big impact 85% of adults are experiencing stress regularly, right. So that’s just based on a really simple survey, that women typically report feeling more stressed than men. Maybe that’s because women are more connected emotionally than men, I don’t know, or they just experience more stress than men, 77% of people regularly experienced physical symptoms caused by stress. And 48% of individuals report that stress has a negative impact on their personal and professional life. So a good way to think about this book is that it’s focused on resilience training for your mind, so that you can remain balanced. Despite the challenges life throws at you because of course, stress is part of life, but we want you to remain steady and resilient despite that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:20
So let’s see what’s been said about the book. So from Steven Hayes, PhD, so he is leading researcher and the co founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. He said, “chronic stress is a marker of living life on autopilot. This book gently wakes you up, it asks you instead to live life inside non judgmental awareness and intentionality and to do it right here right now in this moment.” And from Publishers Weekly what they said about this book, “The proposal that seemingly insignificant everyday stressors, rather than life changing events pose the greatest danger to an average person’s mental and physical health. Accordingly, the author’s emphasize the importance of developing healthy coping mechanisms, advising the reader on how to evaluate one’s current state of mind. So to that end they present a number of exercises with the promise that with practice over time, these will teach the brain how to handle stress by getting into a less emotional, more cerebral state, where one can process different courses of action, what they call the quiet mind.”
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:34
So now let’s learn a little bit more about the author’s. So Kirk D. Strosahl PhD, he’s the co founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. So with Steven Hayes, that cognitive behavioral approach that has gained widespread adoption in the mental health and substance abuse communities. So Strosahl works as a practicing psychologist at Central Washington family medicine, a community health center, providing health care to medically underserved patients. He also teaches family medicine physicians and how to use the principles of mindfulness and acceptance in general practice. And then Patricia Robinson, PhD, is Director of Training and program evaluation at Mountain View Consulting Group, a firm that assists health care systems with integrating behavioral health services into primary care settings. So she’s the author of Real Behavior Change in Primary Care, and co author of the Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression. So after exploring primary care psychology as a researcher, she devoted her attention to dissemination in rural America, urban public health departments, and military medical treatment facilities. So that’s a little bit about the authors. And so they are, they’re really focused on acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and that is the approach that they use in this book. And I have spoken before on the podcast about Acceptance, and Commitment Therapy, also known as ACT, and this is considered cognitive behavioral approach, which is it’s a mindfulness based approach. And it is great I mean, I use ACT at my clinical treatment all the time. So for depression, anxiety, all sorts of things, eating issues, everything and so I, I love ACT, and people really seem to resonate with it. And so if is this idea of learning rather than really trying to combat your thoughts or thoughts, stopping that sort of thing, which we see with CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy is really learning to become a curious observer to your thoughts, and live to your values learning to accept your reality, and it’s really well versed in the mindfulness, practice of accepting your reality being present in moment. And so obviously, it is very appropriate as we think about this mindfulness approach. That is what it is all about.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:09
What I really like about this book in particular is it’s a quick read, it’s practical, it gives you just enough of a tie in to the neuroscience, which can be really helpful, but they don’t overly complicate it. And so I think it helps mindfulness to make more sense to many of us who kind of are scratching our heads when people start talking about mindfulness. So I like that I think it’s a nice primer on that topic.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:39
So the focus of the book is really to explain the relationship between three things. So stress, mindfulness, and neuroscience. And they, their goal is to do that as simply as possible, and I think they do a pretty good job. So one thing that you need to do, the author’s asked you to do, and I think that this is very true with any mindfulness practice, is they ask you to be persistent. And again, that’s a requirement with any mindfulness endeavor. So their message throughout the book is that practice doesn’t make perfect practice makes permanent. And this concept is so true when it comes to neuroscience. So consistency makes a huge difference. But we often need to be quite persistent in our efforts in order to begin experiencing changes, and you can begin experiencing changes, you know, very quickly. But in order for those changes, to gain traction, you need to be persistent, you need to be consistent over time. And so they definitely make the case that you need to be persistent with the skills that they teach in the book. And I would absolutely echo that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:50
Okay, so now let’s, let’s look at the main points of the book. Okay, so the book is broken into three main parts. So I’ll identify those three parts briefly. And then we’ll do a deeper dive into each of them. So the Part one is an overview of stress. And then let’s see, part two is the author’s focus on five core aspects of mindfulness. And these chapters are really packed with specific exercises to help you train your brain and rewire your neural pathways, because that’s the name of the game. That’s what it’s all about. And then Part Three is really focused on developing mindful lifestyle and really includes a comprehensive assessment to help you assess stress and see what drains your battery and what charges your battery. So you know, the second part is really looking at, like, let’s do some skill building. And then Part Three is, let’s have a mindful lifestyle and get rid of those things, that you know, those triggers that are amping your stress up. Because, you know, if you have all the skills in the world, but you’re keeping your stress amped up, like that’s kind of silly, like, what can you do to actually, you know, decrease your stress level. And then, you know, obviously, you’ll still have, you’ll still want to use your skills, because of course, you’re still going to have some stress. But we don’t want to have a raging fire of stress that you’re always going to have to be, you know, using those skills on. So it’s really thinking about having that mindful lifestyle and a comprehensive plan.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:35
Okay, so let’s do a little bit of a deeper dive into part one, which is the overview of stress. So this section helps you assess your own level of stress, it introduces the concept of mindfulness, and then how these are related to neuroscience. So, of course, part one really sets the foundation for the rest of the book. But it’s all about your specific experience with stress and mindfulness. And so the the argument that the authors make throughout the book is that it’s the small stressors that add up that usually do us in, and they have good research to support that rather than the big stressors like the big life events. So large stressors are definitely very stressful. So when we think about divorce, we think about the loss of a job or the loss of a loved one. Of course, those are stressful, but you know, we often have more support in those times. And at least those stressors are more visible, and so it is somewhat easier to get needs met.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:38
But what happens with the small everyday stressors is that we make the mistake and assume that they’re no big deal, or that we should be able to cope with them. And so what happens is that we are not proactive in addressing them and that’s a really big mistake. And of course, those daily stressors servers accumulate over time, and they take a really big toll. And so when we face daily stressors, one of the most common responses is to avoid or numb in the face of these stressors. So it’s a very natural response. We don’t like unpleasant experiences, right? Most of us don’t. And so our tendency is to avoid or to not. But of course, this really sets us up for a very unhelpful pattern over time. So of course, instead of avoiding or numbing the solution, instead is mindfulness. So that is the whole point of this book, instead of not mean, we need to move to mindfulness, which is to pay attention in a particular way, on purpose in the present moment, and non judgmentally.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:51
Okay, so that definition of mindfulness comes from Jon Kabat Zinn. And he’s he’s kind of considered the father of mindfulness in America. So he, he’s out of Harvard, and he was one of the very first researchers on mindfulness. So I’m going to repeat that definition. Pay attention in a particular way, on purpose in the present moment, and non judgmentally. So let me kind of unpack that a little bit for you. So when you notice stress, pay attention to it. Rather than trying to avoid, minimize or ignore, we want to pay attention to stress in a particular way. So remaining non judgmental about it, and simply accepting the reactions it produces in you. So this is really great, because it allows you to think clearly about the actions you might want to take to offset the effects of stress. So let’s think about an example for this. So let’s, let’s say you get home after work. And it’s been a really long, hard day. And, you know, you get home, you’re tired, you notice you have a bad headache, right. And that’s not a typical thing for you, maybe, and you’re grumpy, you’re not happy with anyone. And, you know, you’re just you have a short temper. And you’re like, was What’s going on? Right? And you know, what happened at work earlier that day. And at work earlier that day, maybe you got some feedback, that was really hard for you to take. So maybe, you know, maybe you had, you had a team meeting, and you got some feedback that, you know, your contribution to the project was just not up to par. And you know, that you got to step it up. And so this feedback was was hard to hear. And maybe you know that that feedback was accurate. Or maybe it was, you know, you felt blindsided. But regardless, it hurt, it was painful feedback to receive. And so right, as you come home from work that day, you you’re feeling you’re feeling that pain, and you’re also feeling some stress, because it kicks up worry, right? Like, am I going to be able, am I going to be able to perform, right? Like Am I going to be able to, to get this project where it needs to be? So there’s a little bit of worry, there’s a little bit of anxiety and stress related to this. And so, what often happens is in these moments, right, when you notice some of the symptoms relate related to stress, or you notice like okay, yeah, like I’m upset about this. Rather than being able to get curious and acknowledge what happened.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:04
This is where most people get derailed. And instead of like, having some empathy for yourself, and like, that was hard, that was really painful, that did not feel good. And having some compassion for yourself. This is where a lot of people move to not mean. Right? And so it’s like, okay, they’ll go to their favorite numbing behaviors, whether that is drinking, whether that’s gaming, whether that’s TV, whether that’s eating, whether that’s, you know, over exercise, whatever it might be. But when we think about numbing behaviors, that aim of numbing behaviors is to push the emotion away. Right? And what’s the emotion that we’re trying to push away? The hurt, the worry, that you know, that was painful to get that feedback today? the worry of like, Can I do this? Like, can I get this project where it needs to be, because those are painful emotions. And a lot of times, we don’t know what to do with that. And so what we want to do instead is we want to notice that stress, we want to pay attention to it. And then of course, rather than trying to avoid, minimize or ignore, we want to remain non judgmental about it, and simply accept the reactions it produces in you. So when you notice that stress, when you notice that pain, when you notice that worry, to be able to say, yeah, it’s understandable, that was tough feedback to hear today, that hurt, like it really stung a lot to get that feedback. And to acknowledge, like, yeah, it’s understandable that I’m worried about this project, especially considering the feedback I got, like, it’s understandable that I’m concerned about it. So you accept the reactions it produces in you. And this is really good, because it allows you to think clearly about the actions you might want to take to offset the effects of stress.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:16
So for example, you can, you can acknowledge, yeah, this is upsetting. And I can notice, like, Oh, you know, like, I’m feeling I’m feeling worn out because of that, and I’ve got a headache. And I noticed, like, I’ve been grumpy with people, and like, maybe I just need to take some time. And just like, settle down, maybe I just need to have more of a quiet night, maybe I need to do a little journaling. Or maybe I just, maybe I just need to like, read a good book and take a break from this. When you acknowledge the emotion, right? When you acknowledge that pain, it allows you to think clearly about the actions, right, but you’ve got it, you’ve got to allow yourself to think clearly without the judgment. But when you move to the numbing, or the avoidance, it prevents you from thinking clearly about how you’re going to take action.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:18
So this is where most people get derailed. Because they either panic about their stress, or they judge themselves for their stress. And then they can’t think clearly. And so they make poor decisions, rather than being able to take effective action. So for example, they deny their experience. So they’re like, I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m upset about, like it was fine. Like, there’s no big deal. So they just kind of reject the fact that they were hurt. They reject the fact that that feedback session was really painful. And so they deny their emotional experience, which prevents them from thinking clearly about the situation, it prevents them from being able to move into problem solving mode. And it prevents them from even being able to acknowledge their stress, because basically they’re saying, there’s nothing wrong here. Like there’s nothing to see here. Everyone keep moving along. And so in a very real way, it makes it hard for them to actually meet their needs, because they kind of have to pretend Everything is fine here. And so it’s very, it makes it very difficult for them to meet their needs. Right. The other thing that can happen is that they can move to a place of judgment. Like I’m so lousy, I’m such a failure, I’m never going to get it right. And so they go into shame, and judgment and self recrimination. And then of course, that just piles on the stress. Because now it’s not just Hey, like I need to I need to step up my efforts on this project. And, you know, they can’t think clearly about this one project and what needs to happen, because now, like they is a person or a failure. And so what has become one specific issue is now a global indictment on them as a person. And so in that way, it completely prevents them from thinking clearly about the situation. And what’s happened. Their stress level has absolutely exploded, right? cortisol levels go through the roof. And so to be able to get any sort of containment on that stress is really, really challenging at this point, right and so in a very real way, right when they panic about their stress, or they judge themselves for their stress, they can’t think clearly And so it leads to really poor decision making, rather than being able to think clearly and take effective action.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:08
So this might seem like a small thing, but hopefully you can see with this example, that it’s really a very big thing, because it leads to a domino effect, it has a very lasting impact for daily functioning. And like I said earlier, these daily stresses have a cumulative effect over time. And they have a larger impact than do big stressors, because everyone kind of acknowledges big stressors are going to be stressful, right? Like, and it’s, you know, if you’ve been in a car accident, everyone can see you have been in a car accident, everyone can see, hey, you need to take it easy, you need to get rest. But these daily stresses, that’s where we get good at numbing. That’s when we get good at pretending. Right, and sometimes the shame is only happening in our head. And so others might not know what’s happening. But the accumulation of stress is still happening. It might just be invisible to other people. So in that way, it can be devastating.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:24
Okay, another aspect of a mindful approach to stress is to act with intention in the midst of stress. So with the clear mind that comes from non judgement, you can connect to what really matters to you in life. So for example, your values, and then choose actions that reflect what you care about. So for example, alright, so that example that I just shared with you. So even though you’re stressed out by a situation, right, and you’re kind of you notice, you’re like being grumpy, or you’re really worried about this project at work, rather than lashing out at someone because you’re angry, or because you’re worried or because you’re upset. The non judgmental stance allows you to slow yourself down, think clearly and connect to your values, and then act in a way that reflects those values. And this is so so important. So you know, presumably, you would not lash out at your spouse, or your co worker, or whomever is nearby, assuming that this is not in keeping with your values. And so in a very real way, mindfulness allows you to be driving your bus, right, rather than stress driving your bus. Because you, you are able to think clearly, and retain your ability to choose how you’re going to respond, rather than being hijacked by your stress. And so even though, you know, it’s still an upsetting situation, even though the problem hasn’t been solved, you still are able to choose actions that are consistent with your values in this moment, to say, you know, like, my spouse doesn’t deserve my wrath in this moment, you know, and so you can still choose actions that are consistent with your values in that moment. And so this scenario really acknowledges that, of course, stress is inherent to life. And life is always going to hold challenges, always, always always, but that you don’t have to be reactive. And that’s what’s really true about mindfulness is that we don’t have to be reactive, even though Life is full of challenges. So you don’t have to lose your cool, you can remain calm. And you can choose to remain grounded to your values, and act in accordance to your values. And so in this way, you are practicing mindfulness in moments of stress and challenge. So the moments may be stressful, but you are not undone by stress. So you remain calm in this moment. And so in that way, you are able to transcend the stress of the moment. So it’s pretty cool stuff. Pretty cool stuff. And that is the heart of mindfulness right there. That’s the heart of mindfulness right there.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:41
So the way that authors put this is if you aren’t willing to have stress, stress will have you and I really like that. I mean, I think the way they put that is brilliant. So what they mean by that is that it doesn’t do you any good to numb or avoid or pretend stress doesn’t exist. Because of course it does. So be deliberate and purposeful about understanding stress in your life. So we want you to be a curious observer about it, but don’t be undone by it. So see what it has to teach you in a non judgmental way. And then you are still able to retain your freedom to choose how you will respond to stress. And so in this way, you are willing to have stress, but you are owned by stress. And so as a result, stress doesn’t have you. And I think that, you know, in that way, you retain the last of the human freedoms. And that is the freedom to choose your response. Right. And that is, it’s, it’s, it’s the freedom to choose your way, the freedom to choose how you will respond your attitude, and that is the from the work of Viktor Frankl, “when everything is taken from you, the last of the human freedoms, freedom to choose your will.” And, and that’s, that’s mindfulness right there.
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:12
So another point that the authors make that I really, really appreciate is that stress is not the enemy. And it’s not something to be banished entirely from our lives. So of course, we want to understand it, we don’t want to be in done by it. But the but the mere fact that we have stress in our lives, means that there are things that we really care a lot about. And isn’t that a great thing. And I really, really love that perspective. Because I think for so many of us, like when we experience stress, we assume something has gone terribly wrong. And that is just not the case. And it doesn’t need to be the case. Now, I think sometimes we make a mountain out of a molehill. And so I think it can be really helpful to kind of be curious about that, and see, if maybe there are times that we’re blowing things out of proportion. But the fact that you have stress in your life, probably means there are things that are deeply meaningful to you. And so I think this is a really helpful reframe. And, you know, the key, of course, is that we want to keep it in balance, so that we’re not done by it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 32:27
So the author’s give just a few guidelines for some brain training. And these are good to keep in mind. So you know, when you’re in these moments, and, and honestly, every moment, give it your full attention. So don’t try to multitask. And I’ve said this so many times, multitask is not a think we think it is, but it’s not, we can’t do it very what you practice. So the author’s give you a lot of exercises, so mix it up. So when we think about mindfulness, there are lots and lots of different ways to practice mindfulness. So you know, there can be a formal meditation practice where you just use, you know, it’s it can be as simple as sitting quietly. In a room. It can be deep breathing, it can be using a guided meditation with an app or YouTube or just an audio recording. It can be paying attention to the way you’re sitting in a chair, it can be paying attention to the way it feels to sit in your seat at a stoplight. It can be pain, this is actually one that I like to do, paying attention to the grip of your hands on the steering wheel at a stoplight. That’s mindfulness. I mean, everything. Like there’s so many opportunities for mindfulness, the way you drink a glass of water is mindfulness. And so, you know, mix it up, mix it up, one of the mindfulness practices that I have started recently because they’re just, it’s just so beautiful. On my way to work, I have a really, really short commute, which I am eternally grateful for. But the the mountains in the morning in winter are just gorgeous. And so as I’m driving to work, I just like to behold the mountains. And when you know when I’m like waiting at the, at the stoplight, and I just, that’s a moment of mindfulness is just like to behold the mountains and just to kind of take them in. And so we just think of these moments of presence, where we can, can have a moment in time and so they recommend that you vary what you practice. And again, like I said, they give you lots of exercises. Practice produces immediate benefits. So that’s really very cool. And I’ve already mentioned this, but practice makes permanent. So this underscores the concept of neuroplasticity. So it’s the idea that we can literally rewire our brain through practice. So practice is really what does that rewiring. And so, you know, consistency makes a really big difference. And then of course, use it or lose it. So this is obviously related to the above point. But if you aren’t consistently rewiring those brain pathways, then you’ll lose the trial, right? Like you’ll, you’ll lose that rewiring. And so consistency really, really matters.
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:48
Okay, so then Part Two focuses on five core aspects of mindfulness. And like I mentioned before, these chapters are really packed with a lot of specific exercises to help you train your brain and rewire those neural pathways toward less stress, and more balance. So I’ll just go over these briefly. The first one is observed. So notice things that are happening both inside you. So physical sensations, thoughts, feelings, memories, and outside you. So sound sights, colors, faces, others activities. So when you’re an observing road, you hold still mentally and focus attention. So for example, it’s like zooming in with a camera lens. So an example of observing would be how I behold the mountains, on my drive, right. And it’s when I’m at a stoplight, so I’m not like actively driving. But it’s so it’s me observing something outside of me. So observing the mountains.
Dr. Melissa Smith 36:51
And the second one is describe. Your ability to use words to organize and convey what you’re aware of, either inside or outside you at any moment in time. So being a witness, so this is where you would objectively describe your emotions, without judgment. So if we think back to that example of the person who’s, you know, coming home from work, and they’re upset about the feedback they received, so, you know, taking a few minutes, and either talking with another person, maybe doing a voice memo, or, you know, talking to themselves, or jotting down in a journal and describing, what are the words, that helped me understand how I’m feeling right now. So, you know, like, I felt blindsided or I feel really hurt, or I feel, you know, I feel really hurt because I thought I, I thought I was doing a good job on that project. And I, you know, my boss didn’t give me any other feedback, or, you know, the feedback my boss gave me a couple of weeks ago, helped me to think I was on track, you know, so taking some time, and really describing those emotions and trying to connect with that emotion as a witness. So without the judgment, and that’s a really important piece without judgment. And so we’re moving away from the, the avoidance of the numbing and moving toward the emotion, but without the judgment.
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:32
Okay, and then third is detachment. So I want you to think of a Teflon pan, right? Those are the nonstick pans. And imagine your mind is Teflon. So any evaluations, predictions, comparisons, and judgments, they just slide off of your mind. And we want to allow thoughts, feelings, memories, and sensations to simply be present without becoming hooked by mental evaluations, or what you’re aware of, such as judgments and evaluation. So we just want to detach from, you know, some of those judgments. And we’re just, we’re just aware of the thoughts and feelings, but we’re not going to get hooked by judgments or evaluations. And then the fourth is love yourself, right? That might seem very woowoo. And who cares? We do, we all need to love ourselves. ability to show love and kindness to yourself is a powerful tool for creating a state of quiet mind. So of course, self compassion, makes it easier to extend love and compassion to others. And of course, this is not about self pity. It’s actually about respect. And it doesn’t depend on your performance or accomplishments and it doesn’t rely on approval from others and actually, our ability to be self compassionate actually propels us to a greater purpose. performance and achievement. So, so there’s that. And then fifth is act mindfully. So being aware of what you’re doing as you’re doing it, and acting with intention. So behaving in a way that reflects your beliefs and principles. So it’s the opposite of operating on autopilot. And one of the things that’s really helped me with acting mindfully is, and so think about activities that can help you with this. So you know, I’m a power lifter. And I have to be fully mindful, when I am exercising, of course, it really helps to be mindful, but also, like powerlifting is so technique driven, that it’s just it’s super ineffective, if I’m not a fully dialed in. And being very mindful, is also pretty dangerous, if I’m not completely mindful during those lifts. So that’s actually been an activity that has taught me so much about mindfulness, and that full body awareness. And so we think about, what are some activities that can help you to become more mindful. And so, you know, acting with intention is that last one.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:30
Okay, and then, let’s see, Part Three is developing the mindful lifestyle. And so you know, the authors talk about knowing your helpers and hassles. So helpers are the daily activities that stimulate a quiet mind, and reduce emotional and physiological arousal and create greater peace of mind. I really like this knowing your helpers, and your hassles. So these can include physical, mental, and social activities. And they have lots of exercises in part two, that could count as helpers. So these are things that can slow down your autonomic responses that promote more relaxed and flexible behavior. And then, you know, of course, when we think about the accumulation of daily hassles, this has a larger impact on physical and mental health than do the major life events. But when we think about the daily hassles, we seem to think of those as being out of our control, because they’re just so daily, but they’re really not out of our control.
Dr. Melissa Smith 42:31
So the four main categories of daily hassles include personal concerns, so purpose in life, health, finances, that sort of thing. And then relationship and family concerns, work and school concerns, and then social or environmental concerns. So then determine how much control you have over your daily hassles like high, medium or low, except what you cannot control, and then change what you can. So you could envision the future and start with the present, think small, accumulate positives, and you could create a daily hassles coping plan. So want to think about starting where you are, and what’s even one thing that you could take charge of, because that can be really empowering, and it can kind of start that snowball, and then managing your energy and not your time. So thinking about, you know, asking yourself the question, does this activity drain my battery? Or does it charge my battery and making a list of activities that either drain your battery or charge your battery and really staying away from the activities that drain your energy battery, and paying attention to people who drain your battery and paying attention to people who add stress to your life? So in a word drama and avoid, avoid them, and thinking about boundaries and having less time with them? What do you notice when you’re with those individuals? What do you notice before you spend time with them? What do you notice after you spend time with them and pay attention to the signs of stress, especially around relationships. And then of course streamline and simplify your life to reduce stress.
Dr. Melissa Smith 44:26
So I think something that can be really helpful, especially if you’re kind of a people pleaser, or, you know, type A is challenge that I have to that I should and I must so you know Will anyone die if you don’t do this, you know if you if if you don’t, you know, have the perfect spread at dinner this weekend or whatever. So really challenge some of your expectations and then also Use extreme criteria. And, and, and really be willing to streamline and simplify your life. And then be on the lookout for things that unnecessarily add stress to your life.
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:15
So, there you go. So this book is a really useful, practical book about mindfulness. And I think like I said, it’s really good in terms of like a nice little nice little primer on the neuroscience but then very practical guide book on mindfulness. So make sure you head on over to my website, to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-47 one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-47. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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