D A R E
we believe that there’s more that connects us
than we are aware. . .
D A R E
and D A R E
Live Like It. . .
Because in the end. . .
THERE IS ONLY US
Who Cares - What Matters
Only Time Will Tell By JJ Heller, David Heller and Andy Gullahorn
There’s not enough paper in this world There’s not enough ink to write it down No melody is sweet enough No metaphor is deep enough To describe the treasure I have found
I keep trying to tell you how I feel But I always come up short How beautiful you are to me But there aren’t enough words I keep trying to write a love song But it’s hard to say it well Love is a story that only time will tell
It’s one thing to say “for better or worse” And another when you find out what that means So much happens over time Some dreams come true and some will die How do you describe that kind of thing
I keep trying to tell you how I feel But I always come up short How beautiful you are to me But there aren’t enough words I keep trying to write a love song But it’s hard to say it well Love is a story that only time will tell
I’ve searched libraries And dictionaries Studied poets Still all I know is
I keep trying to tell you how I feel But I always come up short How beautiful you are to me But there aren’t enough words I keep trying to write a love song But it’s hard to say it well Love is a story that only time will tell Love is a story that only time will tell
PRETTY POWERFUL, STUFFS, huh, but not quite as powerful as the LOVE that’s shown here. J J Heller, is an artist I’ve loved for a long time because the music that she and her husband, Dave create often create something in us, or at least shines a light on what’s been created and now needs some special noticing.
J J goes on to share, even more personally:
This video gets me every single time.
When we’re young we make vows imagining an easy and wonderful future. We say “for better or worse” even though we don’t know what lies ahead. We promise to be faithful, supportive and true no matter what.
Making these promises is indeed an act of love, but living out this love in hospitals, worse-case diagnoses and late-night bouts with pain.. that’s a love on another level. A deeper, expanded love.
With that said, this beautiful video is dedicated to those fighting through intense physical challenges, and to those who love them fiercely and relentlessly.
A huge thank you to this brave couple who has allowed us to share part of their story with the world in hopes it will bring healing and encouragement.
And another giant thank you to Joy Prouty for capturing this sacred footage, both of their labor and delivery several years ago, and also of the recovery from a double mastectomy mere weeks ago.
And thanks to Dave Heller and Andy Gullahorn for writing this beautiful song with me.
Love is a story that only time will tell. 🧡
Just one Question:
L O V E. . . ?
I See You By JJ Heller, David Heller, and Andy Gullahorn
I see you The summer sun reflecting off the stream The cardinal is shaking off its wings Near the water Where I wander
I see you The leaves gently lifting in the breeze A little girl with grass stains on her knees Runs to her mother Just to hug her
Every sunset is a stained glass window Every park bench is a pew There’s a sanctuary everywhere that I go When my eyes are open I see you
Standing in a crowded subway train Somehow when I look in every face It feels like family I’m thinking maybe I see you In the people who are begging for their food And the ones who pass them by in business suits Everybody Has your heartbeat
Every sunset is a stained glass window Every park bench is a pew There’s a sanctuary everywhere that I go When my eyes are open
I see the glory of the works Your hands have made I see the beauty in the sinner and the saint
Every sunset is a stained glass window Every park bench is a pew There’s a sanctuary everywhere that I go When my eyes are open When my heart is open I see you, I see you
Songs are always more than just notes and lyrics
and no matter how hard they try
they usually make you feel
what goes way beyond what you
see or hear. . .
THEY CAN’T BE DIRECTED
on really experienced. . .
What I find utterly
A M A Z I N G
is not so much what I see
when I look at
but what Others see
when we’re looking at the
SAME THING. . .
LOOKING AT THE SAME THING
ISN’T THE MIRACLE. . .
THE MANY THINGS SEEN IN ONE THING
IS. . .
DO YOU REMEMBER THIS. . . ?
It came out in 2001 and I remember watching it with my kids and laughing with them and wondering are toys the only things that are
M I S F I T S. . .
Go ahead, watch it again
and catch some of the things you most likely didn’t notice
or maybe just glossed over
just didn’t want to see or recognize. . .
This version of
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSE REINDEER AND THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS
What about the bad guy named Mr. Cuddles, who kidnaps toys so kids will never outgrown them. Or, the blimp, a hippopotamus queen, all with Rudolph thinking about getting a nose job. Rudolph and his friends show up at this misfit island, where they meet a cast of quirky toys, sequestered away in their shame. There’s a CHARLIE-IN-THE-BOX, a bird that swims, and a cowboy who rides an ostrich. And yes, there is a chorus of music that kind of normalizes it like all music tries to do. They real each attribute that, in their own minds, gives them oddball status: There’s a spotted elephant, a choo-choo with square wheels, and a water pistol that shoots jelly. Together, wail about their quirks through song and proclaim, not so proudly,
“We’re all misfits!”
Now here’s the thing, I think this part was suppose to be sad, but I kind of missed the memo when I was watching this. A happy little island of honest misfits sounded like paradise to me. Can you imagine belonging to a community like that? Those who wouldn’t bother hiding THEIR WEIRD?
Wait. . .WHAT. . .
Oh, you’re a bird that swims in water? Well, Yippee! I ride an ostrich! You feel weird about your polka-dot skin? Well, check out my square wheels chugging down an off the track trail!
Seriously, in what universe would this be considered exile? These misfits have found their people! A truer tragedy would be faking perfect, hiding your spots, and trying to conform. The misfit toys have created a hopeful haven, and it’s what I kind of pray to discover; to have for myself and you, others. . .
That by just showing up each day, BOLDLY BROKEN,
your very own island might form or maybe, just maybe
we discover that we’ve never
NOT BEEN A PART OF IT ALL ALONG
All the same. . .
R E C O G N I Z E
W E I R D L Y
we are so much more alike
THAN NOT. . .
has already begun
with the same
Q U E S T I O N
HOW DO YOU SURVIVE THE HOLIDAYS
or dare to
T H R I V E
enjoy them. . .
The Holidays if You’re a Scrooge
Holiday lore has it that you better not pout, you better not cry. But that’s all some of us want to do during the holiday season, when the pressure to be festive is so intense, anyone who doesn’t comply risks being declared a grinch or a Scrooge.
There are plenty of reasons one might dislike the holidays, including strained family relationships, chaotic travel logistics, and the pressure to buy lots of gifts (in this economy). All are valid, mental-health experts say.
“Just like some people like chocolate and others don’t, some people don’t like the things that are associated with the holidays,” says Dr. Jessica Beachkofsky, a psychiatrist based in Fla. “There might be religious overtones they don’t appreciate. They might not like having to go out and about when it’s cold outside. Some people don’t like the noise—or music—of the holidays, and think it’s gaudy or obnoxious.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s important to focus on things that restore you. That includes the year-round stuff—getting enough sleep and exercise, and going easy on the alcohol—as well as activities that really lift you up. This is the time to get that massage, take yourself to the movies, and surround yourself with your favorite things.
If you’re dreading decking the halls, here are five ways to better cope this holiday season.
Maybe you don’t want to have a silent night—and then another and another. There’s so much focus on togetherness during the holidays that those who don’t have a packed calendar might feel isolated and sad. Be open about it. “Don’t be afraid to say to someone, ‘I’m alone. What are your plans? I don’t have any yet,’” says Dr. Sue Varma, a psychiatrist in New York. Many people will respond by extending an invitation; perhaps the only reason they hadn’t done so already was that they didn’t realize you’d be available or interested.
You can also seek out new friends and things to do via platforms like Meetupand Nextdoor, Varma recommends. Another way to surround yourself with people is to volunteer, even if it’s not something you plan on doing the rest of the year. Sign up to visit residents at a local nursing home, bake cookies for first-responders, adopt a kitten, or serve food at a homeless shelter. You’ll get to socialize, and whoever you’re helping will be grateful for the company—a win-win from any angle.
Lots of people struggle with the holidays because of strained family relationships. Setting boundaries is key, Varma says: Tell your mom that you’ll join her for Christmas or New Year’s, but only one-on-one and not with her new husband you don’t get along with. Or, if you don’t have the capacity to deal with your uncle’s political opinions, let your family know you’ll see him in a large group setting (not seated right next to you at dinner).
Have some lines ready to shut down any unwanted conversations. If someone brings up politics and you don’t want to engage, say, “I’m not here to talk about that, but I would like to talk about this delicious food, or the amazing athletes playing football today,” suggests Marhya Kelsch, a psychotherapist in Calif. or just the Classic: “Come on, it’s all about being together and the holidays not about the elections or rights. . . .”
If you’re nervous your guests will bring up a thorny personal issue, address it directly, immediately after arriving. You might say, “Todd and I broke up. It’s been really hard. I would appreciate if we could not talk about it, because I really want to enjoy being here with all of you,” Beachkofsky suggests. “It sounds scary, but if you say it one time, and if those people are even a little reasonable, they won’t bring up the thing you’re asking them not to talk about.”
Every year, Beachkofsky hears from people who are overcome with grief at the idea of spending the holidays without someone who’s no longer here. Her best advice? “You need to feel the feels,” she says. “If you’re sad and everyone else is happy, you are entitled to that feeling.” One way to cope, Beachkofsky says, is to let a supportive friend or family member know you’re struggling. Ask if you can call them any time you need an ear. Then, you’ll know you have someone to turn to who won’t simply tell you to be merry and have another cookie.
It can also be helpful to find ways of honoring the person—or people—you’re mourning. Did you share a special tradition, like always going to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra together or making popcorn garland for the tree? “Find a way to incorporate that into the season,” says Steffani Wooley, a licensed professional counselor based in Texas. Or make a special ornament or photo collage that reminds you of your loved one. “You could even set a place at the table to remember them,” she says.
Travel can be a logistical nightmare during the busiest time of the year. If you don’t want to fork over the cash for a prime-time plane ticket, or if you’re dreading the crowds and long delays, offer a compromise to your long-distance relatives. “Just say, ‘We’re not celebrating Christmas on December 25—we’re going to do it February 1,’” Varma suggests. Then, you can eliminate a major source of stress—and have something to look forward to throughout the holiday season.
Ongoing inflation is still causing prices for almost everything to spike. If exorbitant costs are stressing you out, take the pressure off. First, tell your family members you need to be more low-key about gifts this year, Varma advises. Those with a big family might draw names and only buy for one person or agree that only the kids will get gifts.
And rejigger your perspective on what makes a good gift. As Varma points out, people love to get homemade treats or other inexpensive but thoughtful offerings—“something as simple as homemade pesto,” she says. If you’re gifting someone who you know values time with you, book a yoga class or plan to cook a special meal together. “There are so many ways to be creative that don’t involve a lot of money,” she says.
In this era, where a lot of people are becoming more and more indifferent towards one another, kindness is coming at an expensive price. It is not often that you see people showing kindness towards others. BUT. . .I found this video recently where there was a prepared set of different videos to prove that wrong. Throughout the video, you can watch Santa providing warm clothes to homeless people or older woman praising stranger for doing cool tricks with skateboard and many others. As always I hope this afflicts the Caring Catalyst in you that by merely watching the video, you will realize that kindness in humanity hasn’t been lost completely and there are still people out there ready to show acts of kindness not only to their close ones, but also to any random strangers and make them emotional or even cry by their acts of kindness. THAT it’ll inspire you to bring a special warmth to Another’s CHILL. . .Enjoy watching the video. . .
If our Lives are like Books
We no doubt have many
we would rip out
So others would never see them
and we just might be able to forget them
b u t
if we could just learn from our mistakes
(especially the ones we make repeatedly)
we just might find
that we have no regrets
MONUMENTAL MEMORIES. . .
Sounds like a haunting kind of a headline, doesn’t it. . .
isn’t that what we’re all trying to find
with every turning page in the book of our lives. . .
Joshua A. Hicks, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Texas A&M University. His primary lines of research focus on the experience of meaning in life, authenticity, and true-self knowledge and Laura A. King, Ph.D., is the Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri have combined forces to give us a peek at what we all want a long gawk at, HOW TO FIND MEANING IN OUR LIVES. . .
Feeling that your life has meaning is fundamental to the experience of being human, and people who feel this way tend to be healthier and happier. Given the importance that most people place on meaning, how might we cultivate the feeling that life is meaningful?
For most of the 20th century, philosophers, psychologists, and psychiatrists argued that meaning in life is a rare, profound experience, attainable through an active search, deep self-reflection, or some other arduous way of creating meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. But we now know that most people, most of the time, report that their lives feel more meaningful than not. Although actively constructing meaning may be required in some cases—for example, when your world is turned upside down after a traumatic event—cultivating meaning in life may be as simple as detecting the meaning that is already there.
Researchers’ definitions of meaning in life typically incorporate three themes: the belief that your life and contributions matter to others and yourself, the feeling that your life makes sense, and the feeling that you are actively pursuing fulfilling goals. Other research further corroborates the idea that significance (mattering), coherence (making sense), and purpose(orienting toward goals) represent three interrelated facets of, or perhaps direct pathways to, the experience of meaning in life.
Based on those three pathways, here are some relatively simple things you can do to maintain or enhance your experience of meaning in life.
There is great comfort in believing that your life and actions matter in the grand scheme of things. This conviction is referred to as “existential mattering” and is a strong component of the experience of meaning in life. While the concept of existential mattering often evokes images of famous (and infamous) people who have done extraordinary things in their lives—like Mother Theresa, Cesar Chavez, or Bill Gates—many people gain a sense of mattering through avenues more easily traversed.
Research shows that feeling that you have made a positive influence on others is, unsurprisingly, almost always associated with the belief that your life is meaningful. Existential mattering then is often rooted in a sense that you matter to others—from helping strangers in need and providing social support to loved ones, to simply being a reliable friend.
The feeling that your life is significant is related to more than feeling that your actions are influential to others. Significance is augmented when your behaviors, or experiences more broadly, matter to yourself. This aspect of significance is related to psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s idea of finding beauty and meaning in life through lived experience. For example, the experience of meaningfulness can be found by enjoying riveting musical performances, being in awe of natural beauty, or simply appreciating an authentic interaction with another person.
One way to perceive more significance in your life is to actively seek out intrinsically rewarding experiences, like (re)connecting with nature or people who make it easy to express your true self. Moreover, many cognitive or emotional regulation strategies, such as practicing mindfulness, savoring the positive aspects of situations, cultivating a grateful disposition, or learning to evaluate your experiences more positively, naturally foster the detection of significance in your life experiences.
Although such experiences may lead the self to feel small in the context of vastness, they may also remind us that we belong to that vastness—that we are an indelible part of the wider universe in which we exist.
Coherence is the feeling that your life makes sense. For most people, most of the time, understanding life isn’t a problem requiring a solution. We are natural sense makers, automatically comprehending most situations effortlessly. In fact, a likely reason we don’t think about meaning in life too much is that our lives simply feel right (that is, things simply make sense). Our lives are embedded in a natural world characterized by regularities—sunrises and sunsets. We overlay these regularities with our own routines—morning coffee or an evening walk. The regularities of life provide the rhythms that undergird the feeling that life is meaningful.
Of course, life does not always make sense. For example, you may feel a sense of incomprehensibility after experiencing trauma or, counterintuitively, trying too hard to understand why your life has meaning.
Of all of the facets of meaning, coherence likely represents a basic psychological need. Similar to the anguish we feel when our need to belong is thwarted, our world seems to fall apart when things suddenly do not make sense. Restoring a sense of coherence during these times can be challenging and often requires feedback and reassurance from others (like a therapist or parent), as well as the mysterious healing power of time to help the mind restore a sense of equanimity. Reconnecting with the natural order of the world, reinstating routines that give structure to life, and finding respite in the arts may help you make sense of life again.
Although the inability to make sense of your life can detract from the experience of meaning, simply making sense of it doesn’t necessarily mean that life will feel meaningful. It is easy, for example, to think of an individual who possesses a cynical belief about how their life has unfolded. This worldview may help the individual make sense of their situation and life more broadly, but it seems unlikely to foster the belief that their life is full of meaning. This example illustrates how meaning is not simply about “connecting the dots” but also finding beauty in the picture that emerges.
“Clear eyes, full hearts (can’t lose)” was the mantra of the Dillon Panthers, the fictitious football team familiar to fans of the popular TV show “Friday Night Lights.” One reason clearing one’s eyes, and subsequently filling one’s heart, is a successful strategy for football players and, perhaps, everyone is that people in this psychological state can pursue their goals with a greater sense of purpose. Feeling a sense of purpose helps us sustain motivation though the thick and thin of everyday life, and purposeful people tend to be more satisfied with their lives and even live longer. Purpose, therefore, is tied to both the quality and quantity of our existence.
One factor that facilitates purposeful action is possessing a clear reason for engaging in whatever you are doing. Knowing the “why” of your actions can infuse even trivial behaviors with value. Nietzsche famously noted that the person “who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” By developing a clear reason for pursuing a goal, the “how” of your goal-directed actions becomes more tolerable (and often more enjoyable) because those actions are now connected with a more long-term objective. For example, although most students would rather socialize with friends than study before an exam, clearly understanding that this minor hedonic sacrifice will help them obtain a rewarding job down the line should make it easier to commit to exam prep.
Even as your nose is firmly “to the grindstone,” clear eyes can be trained on a broader life dream. The overarching reason for existence can be found in “God’s plan” or a life calling, but a sense of the why of behaviors is not limited to such grand experiences. Taking time to reflect on your life dreams—to write the next chapters of your life story—can help to connect everyday life and daily goals to broader aspirations. Instead of wandering aimlessly, having “clear eyes” gives you a sense of direction and the motivation (a full heart) to help you achieve your goals and allow those accomplishments to imbue your life with meaning.
Some reasons for goal pursuit may be better than others, though. A person who feels they should perform a task only because their supervisor asked them to do it is unlikely to enjoy a sense of purpose while performing that work. Instead, purposeful behaviors are by definition pursued for more intrinsic reasons, often related to core aspects of one’s identity. For example, people may volunteer at a homeless shelter for various reasons, but the person who does so because they feel their actions are consistent with an internalized value of helping others in need are more likely to derive a sense of purpose from the experience.
The capacity of meaning to allow us to wake up every morning and do what needs to be done requires that meaning be present even in suffering. And this is where a sense of purpose is powerful. Although all human lives matter, they all also end and, in the grand scheme, may not hold the promise of a place in history, threatening our sense of significance. Similarly, although life very often makes sense, random, senseless events do occur that can destabilize our sense of coherence—from natural disasters to random acts of horrific violence. But purpose may be the facet of meaning that is least dependent on happenstance. No matter the circumstance, purpose—the capacity to invest in goals—is available, promising to imbue life with meaning.
Although it may be common folklore that ardently searching for, and effortfully creating, meaning in life is the primary way to truly experience this sought-after feeling, research suggests that most of the time meaning is actually quite easy to detect. Trying to understand why our life is meaningful may serve a function when life becomes incomprehensible, but ultimately it may never yield a satisfying answer. Meaning is not just found in one place. It is all around us—in our relationships, work, and spiritual and religious beliefs, as well as through the appreciating of life itself.
Sometimes it’s not the
but the think stream of an ongoing
T E A R
running down your face
that’s the saltiest. . .
DOES IT MAKE IT ANY LESS
S A L T I E R
IF IT HAS A MEANING. . . ?
ASHWINI MURALI is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley studying molecular and cell biology and nutritional sciences, and she is a course assistant for the Bridging Differences and The Science of Happiness at Work MOOCs. In her free time, she enjoys reading about and applying positive psychology principles to her life and has shared with us some important insights. . .
Recent data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees shows that the number of refugees seeking asylum has more than doubled in the past 10 years, with an estimated 84 million people displaced from their homes. Many of these refugees have immigrated to new countries where they may struggle to assimilate and learn the language. In some places, refugees and immigrants become the target of hate crimes: In the United States, for example, crimes targeting people of Asian descent jumped 339% in 2021.
How can we improve empathy and increase kindness toward newcomers? That’s the question tackled by a new study published in the journal Emotion. Magdalena Bobowik and her colleagues investigated a particularly overlooked aspect of behavior toward underprivileged groups: the role that tears play in evoking empathic responses.
The study took place in Spain, where Romanians and Moroccans are dominant immigrant groups. Participants (all native-born Spanish undergraduates) were split into three groups, each of which was shown a Romanian man displaying either neutral, sad, or tearful expressions. The results revealed that participants seeing the tearful expression reported more warmth toward the man, but not more discomfort.
In a similar fashion, researchers then asked participants to rate the face of a Moroccan man—but this time with a fourth expression, where the man was displaying happiness by smiling. In this experiment, researchers found that people were more likely to want to approach the man when he was smiling, and when he was shedding tears. However, they rated the man as less competent when he was sad.
A final experiment involved Syrian refugees. They showed participants a man who was introduced as being from either the same Spanish province as the participant, or as an immigrant who had just moved to the country from Syria. This man displayed either a neutral, sad, or tearful expression, like before.
The results? Whether the man was Spanish or Syrian, participants reported increased feelings of warmth toward him when he was crying. Participants were also more willing to approach and donate money when the Syrian man was crying, compared to when he simply looked sad.
Thus, the study suggests that tears from a member of an underprivileged group are able to heavily influence the emotional response of those who may not normally be so sensitive to socially disadvantaged groups in their country. This may be explained by the way in which “emotional tears shift the perception of a person from being a member of another social group to being included in one’s group category (possibly at a higher level of abstraction, as ‘a human’),” as the authors speculate in the paper.
These findings are in line with other studies that show how exposure to a tearful face increases people’s willingness to share resources. This may be due to the fact that tearful faces are rated as more trustworthy than neutral faces with no tears.
It may also be significant that the researchers asked the participants to see one man, not many. “We have an easier time feeling empathy for one person than for large groups of people,” says Diana Concannon, a psychologist and crisis response expert, in a recent interview. This is likely a result of our brains being unable to comprehend numbers above a certain threshold—so, for instance, the difference between 1.1 million and 1.2 million becomes increasingly difficult for us to visualize. Increased exposure to negative events can also contribute to feelings of desensitization.
This is what makes the findings of the study on tears so valuable: because it recognizes that we still retain the power to empathize with those who may be different from us, and that perhaps this effect is strengthened when we focus on one individual at a time.
It seems like the World has given THE WORLD lots of reasons to cry lately, doesn’t it?
IT HAS GIVEN US LOTS OF REASONS TO NOT JUST NOTICE
BUT ACTUALLY FEEL EMPAHTY
AND TO ACT
or. . .
IS THE EVIDENCE BASED DATA
w r o n g
YOU MAY BE THE PROOF