When ‘as if’ starts to become reality

I’m reading Richard Wiseman’s book¬†Rip It Up, and have been fascinated by the numerous studies linking facial expression to emotional moods in participants, from John Laird’s initial studies to studies around the world over decades, each with slightly different approaches yet gleaning similar results.

To summarise, smiling (or simulating isolated facial movements related to smiling, such as holding a pencil in one’s teeth) left people feeling happier (even if they weren’t sure why) and frowning or making angry faces (or again, mimicking aspects of these expressions) left people in more negative emotional states at the end of the studies.

This reminds me of something Gretchen Rubin often says, that the opposite of a profound truth is also often true. So pretending and acting happy isn’t the same as being happy…but can acting happy lead to real happiness? Continue reading “When ‘as if’ starts to become reality”

Wallowing, Swallowing, Allowing

I had an interesting conversation recently about the movie Inside Out (side note: one of the unintended side effects of parenthood is most of my film viewing is family films; thank god for Pixar…)

The person I was talking to hated the message the film gives to kids. “It doesn’t tell children they can choose how they feel,” she said. “And I just couldn’t stand the way Sadness was always moping.”

Inside Out.jpg

Conversely, I had liked the message the film may have been imparting to my kids; namely, that we all have a range of emotions and we can share these, rather than trying to pretend they aren’t there, can’t lighten the burden.

As an adult, this is something I continue to deal with – how to respond to negative emotions. Do you wallow in the negative emotion? Or swallow it, suppressing it until you no longer feel it? Or can you allow the emotion to exist without taking over?

Continue reading “Wallowing, Swallowing, Allowing”

When the world is getting you down

I have seen a lot of people suffering lately.

The rise in ultra-conservative politics. Deep division in our societies over what feel like key issues. Hurtful actions and language towards women. People rising to positions of power that fill some people with a sense of fear, injustice, or powerlessness.

We consume the news like an addict, looking for relief from the very thing that troubles us.

So I wanted to write a post in the hopes it provides some balm, some inspiration, for responsible self-care. Continue reading “When the world is getting you down”

Transformational pain

Today I’ve been feeling the full weight of endings.

The weather here in London has taken a sudden turn towards autumn, breaking crisp and cool this morning. As I walked my son to school, holding his hand in one hand and his bags in the other, with my baby in the carrier, it hit me: this is my last full week of a typical maternity leave. Next week, the baby (probably more a toddler now) starts settling in at nursery. Continue reading “Transformational pain”

Do as I say, not as I do

There have been several times when I’ve caught myself telling my five year old something and feeling like a hypocrite. Like when I tell him to calm down and yet I know how much I struggle to contain my emotions at times (a work-in-progress I write about here frequently).

It got me thinking about all of the lessons I (try to) teach my son regularly that I could do with following myself. A bit like the popular Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. And the more I thought about it, the more things sprang to mind. Here are a few of my favourites. Continue reading “Do as I say, not as I do”

The objective of anger

It’s been a rainy Sunday and lazy by my standards. Sure, I’ve baked some cupcakes and we had a family disco at my son’s request. But it’s been a lot of sitting around, the boys playing somewhat on their own while I worked on my website copy and wrote in my journal.

And despite being able to be kind and loving and patient towards my son, I’ve had a few instances of losing my patience with him, too. We’re cooped up in the lounge together, and he insists on jumping from one piece of furniture to another, or pushing his baby brother using his face and head, or jumping and kicking, or basically doing the very thing I’ve just asked him not to do.

When this happens, I feel angry, then guilty. Then he does it again and I’m angry again. It’s been a vicious cycle.¬† Continue reading “The objective of anger”