EVEN WHEN IT CAN BE FOUND AND DEFINED IN THE DICTIONARY
doesn’t mean that it can ever be fully
u n d e r s t o o d
may be one of those words
Who Cares - What Matters
EVEN WHEN IT CAN BE FOUND AND DEFINED IN THE DICTIONARY
doesn’t mean that it can ever be fully
u n d e r s t o o d
may be one of those words
Lots of people don’t watch TV|
Lots of people do. . .
Lots of people don’t watch
THIS IS US
Lots of people DO. . .
Some 4.97 Million watched this past Tuesday night
THE NEXT TO THE LAST SHOW
that had lots of
m o m e n t s
as we watched the matriarch, Rebecca Pearson
literally actively die in front of us
and what lots of hospice folks
as a patient dies
and what they may be actually
as they slip from this world
to the Great Whatever
lies beyond a last breath here
and a first breath
T H E R E
Nearly twenty-eight years of being a hospice chaplain has put me beside a lot of death beds of where I have companioned the dying and their loved ones. I applaud the writers and the actors for pulling back the curtain and giving us a fairly realistic look at what THAT moment looks like. . .a moment each one or us will experience, without all of the lights, cameras, action settings but in a more real, intimate, personal way because all of the evidence-based data shares the irrefutable:
ONE OUT OF ONE OF US DIES
And here’s where This Is Us Season 6, Episode 17 from this past Tuesday picks up. After a long battle with Alzheimer’s, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) passed, and the way her family told her goodbye was beautiful. Viewers were taken inside Rebecca’s psyche (literally) as she approached death. For her, this manifested in the form of a moving train. Rebecca was young on the train, and the passengers were people in her life, past and present. Meanwhile, in real life, as Rebecca’s family said their final goodbyes, they appeared on the train. And the person leading her through this experience (a.k.a the conductor on the train) was William (Ron Cephas Jones).
At the end of the episode, after the family members have said their last words to Rebecca, she reaches the train’s caboose. “This is quite sad, isn’t it?” she asks William. “The end?”
To this, William gives a beautiful, stunning speech to Rebecca. These are the last words she hears before going into the caboose (before she passes away). Read them in full, below:
“The way I see it, if something makes you sad when it ends, it must have been pretty wonderful when it was happening. Truth be told, I always felt it a bit lazy to just think of the world as sad, because so much of it is. Because everything ends. Everything dies. But if you step back, if you step back and look at the whole picture, if you’re brave enough to allow yourself the gift of a really wide perspective, if you do that, you’ll see that the end is not sad, Rebecca. It’s just the start of the next incredibly beautiful thing.”
With this, Rebecca hugs William and goes into the caboose, where a bed is waiting for. She lies down, and next to her is Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), reuniting the couple after decades of separation.
William’s speech epitomizes that moment—and it epitomizes This Is Us in general. If the show has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is forever. Any sadness or loss we saw the Pearsons experience in the present was always followed by a flash-forward, where we saw them happy, thriving, and doing just fine. Each storyline has shown us that no chapter is forever—the good ones end, and so do the bad ones. Life keeps moving, and we move with it. It’s a comforting message for anyone experiencing a hard time. Chapters always, always come to a close. The great poet Robert Frost once said, “ALL I KNOW ABOUT LIFE CAN BE SUMMED UP IN THREE WORDS: IT GOES ON!
It’s something Chris Sullivan (Toby) told NBC Insider when talking about the legacy of This Is Us. “From the first episode, they show you tragedy and pain, but they also shoot you into the future and show you, ‘Oh, this family’s OK,'” he said. “We jump back and forth and see, ‘Oh my gosh, this father died in a fire.’ Then, we jump forward and see, ‘Oh, this family’s OK.’ Tragedy and joy are held in both hands…Everything cycles around.”
Yes, it does. The series finale of This Is Us airs Tuesday, May 24 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
Hey. . .it’s just TV, right. . .
YUP. Yeah, it is. . .until it isn’t
THIS IS US
ALL OF US
“If something makes you sad when it ends, it must have been pretty wonderful when it was happening”… and with that, one last car. The caboose.
This Is Us
(Now about THAT towel)
to our Mental Health. . .
New research on “anti-mattering” and
I recently read this article from Psychology Today by Susan Krauss Whitborne, Ph.D and reviewed by Abigail Fagan that has me thinking about what Matters about Mattering. . .
There may be times that you’d like to feel invisible, but for the most part, people like to feel that other people notice and care about them. If you’ve ever walked into a social gathering and waited five minutes for someone to greet you, then you know how painful it is to feel like you’re blending into the background. Alternatively, consider the agony you can suffer when you’ve sent a text to a friend, only to have it sit there “delivered,” but unanswered.
When you stop and think about it, though, why should you care so much about whether people notice you or not? After all, the people who know you might be busy and preoccupied with other things. It shouldn’t make a difference, either, whether people who don’t know you acknowledge your presence. And, in reality, aren’t there those times when you’d be just as happy to get in and out of someplace without having to stop and talk to anyone?
In positive psychology, the quality of “mattering” is considered, in the words of York University’s Gordon Flett and colleagues (2022) to be “a key psychological resource.” Although you might occasionally enjoy the cloak of invisibility, Flett et al. propose that feeling chronically insignificant can become a “meta-pathology” that can interfere with the ability to obtain “optimal health and well-being.”
According to the Canadian researchers, rather than simply feeling invisible, when you suffer from what they call “anti-mattering,” you define yourself as someone whose “personal identity is dominated by the sense of not mattering to others.” You adopt this identity as a shield for the specific reason of protecting yourself from the stress of being ignored or regarded as irrelevant by others. The “anti” here, literally means “against” mattering, not simply being low in the feeling that you matter.
In the words of the authors, anti-mattering “should be regarded as a unique and specific vulnerability unlike any other risk factor… [it] can become a cognitive preoccupation that is internalized and results in self-harm tendencies and an inability or unwillingness to engage in self-care.”
The anti-mattering stance can come from many sources, such as facing constant rejection from potential romantic partners, employers, or even those rude people who never reply to your texts. However, the Canadian researchers propose that its most likely source can be traced to early childhood experiences of neglect by distracted and unresponsive parents. The hard shell around your need to matter eventually forms so that even the worst experiences of rejection will fail to penetrate.
Unfortunately, the more resistant the shell becomes to rejection or dismissive treatment, the harder it is for others to get through to you. Rewarding relationships become that much more difficult to attain as others learn that it’s easier just to stay away from you.
To tap into the unique qualities of anti-mattering, the Canadian researchers set about to develop a new 5-item Anti-Mattering Scale (AMS). Across a series of studies using young adult and adolescent samples, Flett et al. first built and then compared their AMS to an existing “General Mattering Scale” (GMS) in its relationship to measures of depression, loneliness, and anxiety. You can best get a sense of what’s at the heart of anti-mattering by testing yourself on these five items (rate yourself from 1, not at all, to 4, a lot):
Most of the participants in the undergraduate sample scored between 7 and 15 on this scale, with an average of just about 11.
Key to the idea of the AMS is that it’s not just feeling unimportant (or low in mattering). These five items from the GMS show this nuanced difference. Rate yourself with the same scale as the AMS:
Participants tended to receive higher scores on the GMS than the AMS, with the average at 16 and the majority scoring between 13 and 18.
From these averages alone, you can see that it is more common for people to feel that they have a valuable role in the life of others than to feel that they are not worth anyone’s attention.
Now that you’ve tested yourself on AMS and seen how it differs from GMS, it’s time to turn to the psychological consequences of turning away from others as a self-protective mechanism. As shown in the Flett et al. findings, the patterns of scores on key indicators of mental health, including depression, loneliness, and anxiety, showed that anti-mattering wasn’t simply the opposite of mattering.
Most importantly, the findings across the young adult and adolescent samples confirmed the predicted relationship between anti-mattering and loneliness as well as the incremental effect on depression of high AMS vs. low GMS scores. This pattern reflects, in the words of the authors, “ties between low mattering and a maladaptive early schema reflecting disconnection and alienation from others.” Combined, high AMS and high loneliness scores produce what Flett et al. refer to as the “double jeopardy of feeling alone and insignificant.”
To sum up, feeling that you matter is clearly a contributor to positive mental health. Anti-mattering can become part of a larger identity in which you feel that you lack value to others, even contributing to a sense of marginalization. Although the York University findings established the negative consequences of anti-mattering among young adults and teens, this basic need appears to be one that can form an important cornerstone of healthy development throughout life.
It’s hard to believe that the song
by Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead
is over 50 years old
and yet still causes
harder still to believe all of the
that still lie within you to
C A U S E
uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. . .
WAIT NO LONGER
The adjectives could go on and on
and still not be able to sum up
exactly what happened last Saturday at the Kentucky Derby
The post has been going around and around on all
Social Media outlets:
I believe that God sent ‘this’ horse to run ‘this’ race to encourage us all to never give up…even if you think you can’t do it, even if people say you can’t do it and don’t believe in you! Never freaking give up! 😊🦄🙏
Wow, what an incredible race!!
Wow, what an incredible ride!!!
🏆 Rich Strike wins $1.86Million.
🏆 Entered the race yesterday 30 seconds before the deadline.
🏆 Only got in the race because the 20th horse had to scratch yesterday.
🏆 Started from the worst post position on the outside of the track.
🏆 Had to make his way through the field of 19 other horses from the back.
🏆 His race career; 7 starts, one win.
🏆 His jockey, Sonny Leon, had never been to the Kentucky Derby.
🏆 His trainer, Eric Reed, has never raced a horse in the Kentucky Derby.
🏆 Eric Reed tragically lost nearly two dozen race horses in a barn fire a few years ago and struggled with quitting.
🏆 Eric Reed lost his two assistant trainers last year to cancer.
🏆 Rich Strike was purchased in a claiming race last fall for only $30,000.
🏆 80-1 odds.
This horse had no idea he was a long shot. He had no idea that he was entered last minute, because another horse scratched. He had no idea that his trainer and jockey had never won the Kentucky Derby. So he ran…and WON! He even had enough left after a mile and a quarter to give hell to the pony horse! Congratulations to Rich Strike and all of his connections 🔥🦄🔥
Rich Strike wins the 148th Kentucky Derby!!
What an incredible success story!!!
Never give up on your dreams!!!
THE NUMBER ONE REASON WE FAIL:
OURSELVES. . .
YOU ARE ALREADY IN THE RACE
R U N
W A L K
You just never know what might happen. . .
EVEN THE UN-HAPPENABLE
In our over-stressed world, many health care providers, social workers, and caregivers are suffering from slow yet painful burnout. Many of the rest of us, working long hours and raising families, seem to be approaching burnout, too. Sometimes we may feel that we’re too exhausted to keep giving to others, even though giving is a primary source of happiness in our lives.
So how can we keep giving without burning out? We’re told that self-care is the answer: Give yourself a treat; you deserve it. Take some time for yourself. Say no.
Indeed, a research review found that psychologists in training who practice more self-care report feeling less distressed and stressed and more satisfied with life. The question is: What does self-care look like, and how much of it do we need?
As it turns out, the trick is to be other-focused and kind, but to balance that with taking care of yourself as well. Here are some practices to help you do that.
One particularly potent form of self-care involves transforming our relationship with ourselves—in particular, practicing self-compassion.
Self-compassion is treating yourself as you would a friend—with kindness rather than self-judgment—especially at times when you fail. Self-compassion is remembering that we all make mistakes, instead of beating ourselves up. And it means being mindful of emotions and thoughts without getting overly immersed in them. Self-compassion doesn’t mean being indulgent or letting yourself off the hook, but it also doesn’t mean being overly self-critical and harsh.
Elaine Beaumont at the University of Salford has conducted numerous studies looking at the impact of self-compassion on burnout and compassion fatigue. In a study of 100 student midwives—who routinely see both the miracle of new life and the tragedies that can accompany childbirth—Beaumont and her team found that midwives who had higher levels of self-compassion also showed less burnout and compassion fatigue symptoms. The opposite was true of midwives who were highly self-critical. She repeated this study with different caretaker professions and found similar results in nurses and students training to be counselors and psychotherapists.
In addition to being protected against burnout, people who are more self-compassionate tend to report feeling less stress and negative emotions. They’re also more optimistic and feel more happiness and other positive emotions, among other benefits.
To practice self-compassion, try some of the exercises that pioneering self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff has studied and written about in her book on self-compassion, such as writing a Self-Compassionate Letter, taking a Self-Compassion Break, or asking yourself: How Would I Treat a Friend?
Caring for ourselves also means seeking social connections, who can provide practical and emotional support to us when we’re struggling. A study of nurses found that belonging to a more cohesive group at work helps prevent burnout and compassion fatigue, reducing the effects of stress and trauma.
This should come as no surprise: Social connection, from birth to old age, is one of our greatest human needs. Social connection leads to lower rates of anxiety and depression, strengthens our immune system, and can even lengthen our life.
Researchers agree that social connection has less to do with the number of friends you have than with how connected you feel on the inside, subjectively. In other words, you don’t have to be a social butterfly to reap the benefits; just aim to cultivate an internal sense of belonging with those around you.
How? The tricky part is that stress is linked to self-focus; our stressed minds turn towards me, myself, and I—making us even more miserable and disconnected from others. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and walks in nature, as well as curbing caffeine, can all help us calm down and feel ready to reach out to others. A study we conducted at Stanford showed that loving-kindness meditation can be a quick way to nurture a sense of connection. Better yet, try meditating with a partner!
It might seem counterintuitive that empathy—which includes attending to others’ struggles—would help us with our own, particularly for caregivers. But research in social workers shows that having more empathy can also prevent burnout. Brain-imaging research by Tania Singer suggests that compassion training can actually make you better at coping with other people’s suffering—helping you help others without paying the cost yourself.
One potential explanation for this finding is that, by developing feelings like compassion and empathy, we are protected from feeling distressed or overwhelmed in the face of suffering. When you truly connect with another person who is suffering, you can actually feel empowered and energized because you are inspired to uplift that person.
We’ve all had the experience of having a friend ask for help during a time of emergency. In these moments, we are usually capable of so much more than we imagined—we seem to find hidden reserves of energy. Afterward, we end up feeling much better than we did before.
Again, loving-kindness meditation is one way to start to cultivate empathy. When you speak with someone who is suffering, practicing active listening can help you provide comfort and support to them without having to solve their problems.
If we can figure out how to continue giving to others without suffering from burnout, we can expect to reap many benefits.
For example, volunteering can have a positive impact on health, with benefits for obesity, blood glucose, blood pressure, and longevity. Older volunteers can derive a great feeling of purpose and self-esteem from volunteering; research shows that it makes them feel happier, more connected to others, and more confident of their self-worth. The benefits of volunteering for well-being seem to be universal, holding across cultures as well as generations.
If you are shy or introverted or even have social anxiety, giving to others can actually still increase your happiness. Although giving tends to feel better when we connect with beneficiaries, for the truly shy or those who don’t have time, even kind acts conducted over the computer can increase well-being.
Self-compassion, social connection, and empathy are powerful forms of self-care—but that doesn’t mean that traditional self-care activities have no place in our lives. Keeping your spirits up with exercise, sleeping in, and making room for fun activities like movies or shopping are important. These pleasures give us short bursts of happiness that can help fuel us and keep us playful in life. To complement these more physical pleasures, giving and connecting with others in positive ways will bring us long-lasting feelings of joy that come from a life of purpose and meaning. The balance between the two is a ripe recipe for a happy, long, and fulfilling life.
YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO GO GET IT
(which is ultimate cure for BURN-OUT
W H Y
just see the
WE in US
when it’s way past time for us to start consistently
B E I N G
The WE in US
JILL SUTTIE a freelance journalist for Greater Good Science Center pulls back the curtain to help us take a look at the good WE can do by being more about an US than a YOU or a mere ME. . .
As human beings, we tend to favor people we think are like us or have something in common with us—and we’re often wary of people who are different.
Evolution made us this way so that we could find allies against outside threats. The problem comes when this old instinct to prefer our “in-group” leads us to discriminate, dehumanize, or act violently toward others we perceive as “the other” or members of the “out-group.”
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much for us to create or expand in-groups. Studies have shown that even minimal similarities—like wearing the same-colored shirt—can prime us to prefer members of our in-group in relation to out-group members.
What allows us to get past that tendency to be so easily biased for and against people? A new study suggests one step: focus on the need to cooperate.
In this study, researchers Antonia Misch of Ludwig Maximilian University and Yarrow Dunham of Yale University formed artificial in-groups and out-groups in American and German children by randomly assigning them to wear an orange- or green-colored scarf. Then, they asked the children to look at sets of photos featuring two children (each with a different scarf color) and to rate their likability and niceness. The difference in likability scores between members of the child’s in-group and out-group provided a measure of favoritism.
The children were then told they’d be playing a cooperative game with their group members via computer. But, while half of the children (in the control group) connected to their own group without problems, the other half experienced a bad connection—and were told they’d instead be playing with the group wearing the other color scarf.
Before any actual play took place, however, the researchers measured in-group favoritism again, using the same method. When they compared the results, they found that children who’d been told they’d be playing with the out-group showed reduced favoritism toward their own group and less bias against the other group than children in the control group.
“Just looking at the anticipation of cooperation triggers more positivity towards an out-group,” says Misch. “This could be a first, important step in helping people engage in more positive interactions.”
In another part of the study, Misch and Dunham repeated their experiment, but with a difference: They had the kids actually play the cooperative game together (or think they were playing together; in reality, they were playing alone). The researchers found that playing the game with others didn’t further reduce in-group favoritism, suggesting that anticipating cooperation may be as effective as actual cooperation in reducing bias.
This is important, says Misch, because while past research has found that cooperation between groups reduces prejudice and bias, her study is the first to show that simply anticipating cooperation can make a difference.
It’s striking to see this bias reduction happening in children rather than in adults, she adds. Perhaps if more teachers and parents kept this in mind, she says, they could help prevent prejudice from developing, by fostering more cooperation between diverse groups of children.
“Human group-mindedness is a characteristic that emerges early in life,” she says. “If we want to change intergroup relations and prejudice, we should start early.”
However, telling children that they should anticipate cooperating with others may not be enough to reduce deep-seated bias in all cases.
In one part of Misch’s study, children were separated into groups based on gender instead of using randomly colored scarves. Those who were told they’d be playing with kids in the opposite gender group didn’t show the same reductions in bias as children in prior experiments: They still preferred members of their own gender group.
To Misch, this is not too surprising, as gender bias is more firmly established than the kind of bias you see in groups like those created by scarf color. Stereotyped messages about boys and girls are passed down from parents, reinforced through culture, and perpetuated in media. Plus, gender is an important part of a child’s self-concept, which may cement it more firmly in their minds, she says.
Still, it’s possible that if differently-gendered children were encouraged to cooperate more from an early age, it could make a difference in reducing gender bias over time.
“Anticipating cooperation between some groups may help a little bit, even if it’s not going to be the only thing that’s needed,” she says.
Currently, Misch and her team are expanding their research to see if they can decrease bias based on race and ethnicity through anticipatory cooperation. She’s hopeful that having children—and adults—think about the necessity of working together across difference may lessen prejudice, not only helping us all get along better, but helping us to solve world problems that require a sense of commonality and shared purpose.
“If we can replicate the effect with this study, it would be great,” she says. “Maybe it will just take a change of attitude around cooperation to reduce prejudice some and help society.”
SO What, huh?
Maybe if these past couple of years has taught us nothing else
isn’t it that
THE WE IN US
brings us the
Best in us
does it. . .
No answer necessary
. . .the way you live
(we just don’t always act like it)
During this NATIONAL MONTH OF POETRY I have used poems that have inspired me to write poems. I began the month with a poem by Mary Oliver and could spend months using her poems that have countlessly inspired me not just to write but to pause, reflect, ponder what can’t always be seen, heard, tasted, smelled or touched but most deeply felt. . . here’s hoping it does the same for you in the NOWNESS of your TODAY:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
— Mary Oliver
They are no longer clouds
but brightly striped ribbons
blown free from packages
never quite opened
opened and neatly tucked away
in drawers that don’t easily open
from any robber
These ribbons don’t know of a wind
that’ll wave back
in the harshest or gentlest of breezes
no matter how much
you pay them
They dwell in sunlight
and more of an ahhhhhhhh
to any sunset
if but noticed
But for a Now
gone in a sudden burp of air
They are seen
as a Comma
in a Pause
that refuses to be left behind
before a never ending sentence
Music is a part of every culture around the world. In fact, the ability to appreciate music is built into our brains, suggesting music has an evolutionary function.
While listening to music just feels good, it also seems to increase social bonding. Some research suggests listening to music makes us more empathic toward other people, encouraging us to resonate with their feelings and care about their welfare. Music may also enhance our ability to consider what a person is thinking and feeling and to take their perspective—another aspect of empathy that can improve relationships.
Many music studies look at the long-term benefits of being a music listener or participating in a music program as a child. But can hearing music help us connect and empathize with someone right in the moment? A new study aimed to find out.
In this study, 60 university students were recruited to watch several 15-second videos in which a person recounts an autobiographical experience. In some cases, people in the video talked about a relatively mundane event, like moving into a new apartment, while other stories contained strong emotional content, like recalling a terrible accident or a loved one’s death.
While students watched these videos, the researchers randomly played either “emotionally neutral” music (such as Hans Zimmer’s “Redacted”) or very sad music (such as Dario Marianelli’s “Farewell”) in the background. After watching each video, the students expressed how they felt, how much compassion they had for the person in the video, and how much they wanted to help that person. They were also tested on their social reasoning skills—how well they understood the perspective of the person in the video. All of these could be signs of empathic connection.
Results showed that people watching the sad videos felt more sadness themselves (showing that they resonated with the other person’s feelings) and more compassion for the other person than those watching the neutral videos—not a big surprise. But these empathic feelings were strengthened by listening to sad music, leading to greater compassion for and willingness to help the person in the video.
“In a sense, there is a synergistic effect between having emotional background music and listening to an emotional narrative,” says lead researcher Brennan McDonald of Technical University Dresden in Germany. “Our social emotions are amenable to emotional enhancement through music.”
The music had no effect, however, on whether or not the students could reason about the other person’s experience and understand, cognitively, what they might be thinking or feeling. McDonald does not know why that would be, since past research seems to contradict that. But, he says, it makes sense that music might impact us more emotionally than intellectually.
“Music can produce powerful, genuine emotions across all of the emotions we can experience—fear, sadness, anger, and joy—and that may clue people into the emotions of the environment in which they find themselves and help them deal with social interactions,” he says. “But our ability to understand the thought process of another doesn’t seem to be as affected by music in the way that our emotions are.”
Why is this important to know? One major reason is that music surrounds us in our daily lives and may affect our feelings for others. Certainly, films capitalize on this, says McDonald, using music as a simple way to augment people’s empathy to care more about the welfare of their characters.
Using music to increase compassion more broadly is McDonald’s greater goal for this research. While music is not the only way to accomplish that—other art forms, like fiction and dancing, have also been shown to increase empathy, for example—music could be a powerful tool. After all, this study involved listening to just 15 seconds of emotional music, and it still made people care more about someone else and want to help them. Perhaps, if people listened to or played music together more, it could help build a more caring society.
“It would be very interesting to take our finding and extend it further, to see if music-making over a long period of time in a social context can enhance our real-world ability to empathize and feel compassion towards others, long-term,” says McDonald. “To test that is the next logical step.”
Kind of makes you think,
WHY Just Have your Toe’s Tapping
WHEN YOU CAN HAVE YOUR HEART
BEATING TO ANOTHER RHYTHM. . .
T H I S
T H I S
at first look
and first looks aren’t always reliable
or completely understood
Strips of love messages
that dangle into unjumbled knots
as we look at them
through unfocused eyes that see clearly
but not always plainly
that shout with voiceless whispers
and convey what no other missive
Any communication of love
will leave an eye dampened
with a saltless tear
that neither drips or wipes away
leaving a stainless mark on the soul
most secretly until we meet
in a place that’ll never be described
with a last breath here
and the first breath in the beloved
T H E R E N E S S
that brings us all together
in an ahhhhhhhhhh
Beautiugly Shaggy Wreath
w a y