Concrete vs Abstract responsibility for teenagers

Many Teenagers are struggling to complete the tasks that they are responsible for… often times their achievement is interrupted due to the fact that they view the tasks as meaningless or irrelevant to their life.
The “meaningless and irrelevant” assertion is often […]

Euphoria and gratitude… a runners high at 9,000 feet

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Quick summary: If you can teach yourself to feel gratitude for a greater diversity of things… then you can add a positive association to any experience that you want.I have been thinking about health quite a bit lately and my mind stumbled back to thinking about some research that was explaining why exercise routines are difficult to establish… essentially using behavioral psychology ( = we are products of our environment – our behaviors are dictated by the responses that they receive from our environment) the author suggested that the amount of time between initiating exercise and receiving the ‘reward’ from exercise is too long… therefore our minds do not really associate exercise as being positive and often our minds create a negative association as exercise can elicit a degree of pain. Yesterday I ran for eight miles at around 9,000 feet and I had a very different experience. The combination of the breathtaking scenery, the high levels of positive feeling neurotransmitters (brain chemicals which affect your emotions … and most things) that were released to manage the pain of eight miles with limited oxygen, the limited oxygen itself, and my intentionally focusing on gratitude, created a state of euphoria during the exercise. I am going to suggest that by meditating on gratitude a person can counter the negative influence or association with pain in relation to exercising… to a degree. With this positive counter influence in place, perhaps you might be able to push you body to reaching a state of euphoria which arises when you push yourself as much as you can… without such a counter perhaps it is more “rewarding” to stop exercising a bit sooner than is advantageous.

Gratitude – I was engaged in a mindfulness program about gratitude and I was offered a lesson that was immensely helpful to me…

            Try and experience gratitude without being grateful for any one specific thing… contemplate the emotional experience of gratitude and free yourself to experience this wonderful feeling. Allow yourself to essentially live in a moment which is gratitude…

This can be a very difficult experience so let’s take it down a notch…

Start by contemplating gratitude for subjects which are easier for you to observe without judgment… for example allow yourself to feel gratitude that the universe exists, that colors exist, that plants are alluring, that the natural landscape is aesthetically pleasing, that you have the ability to notice existence etc ..

This too will be hard for many people at first as it is the brains job to categorize things as benign and to take things for granted (this is because the brain serves to ensure your survival… as gratitude for the universe has a limited effect on your survival, the brain will often categorize such things as inconsequential…as boring or as useless.)

I am suggesting that the brain is constantly passing judgments on the environment and because the brain seems to assume that novel subjects and experiences are more important to attend to… the brain hinders our ability to feel gratitude for most things in our lives.

As I have said time and time again… you can control your brain… you can free yourself to feel gratitude in new and extraordinarily euphoric ways.

It is easy to imagine feeling gratitude for someone giving you 10,000 dollars… it is perhaps harder to feel gratitude for the color of a plant.

This is the summary… if you can teach yourself to feel gratitude for a greater diversity of things… then you can add a positive association to any experience that you want… you can make exercise more positive if you allow yourself to experience gratitude to counter the negative associations driven by the pain of exercise.

Easier exercise to experience gratitude – Water.  – Imagine the lack of something to feel gratitude for what you have.

I have done a bit of international travel where it was quite a process to attain safe drinking water… in fact I have had many Colorado backpacking experiences where attaining water meant going out and walking ¼ mile in freezing rain.

 How often do you drink water? And how often are you grateful for that water. Imagine an existence in which water was difficult to attain … imagine that the water attained was full of sediment and tasted ‘funny’… now imagine the ease of turning on your faucet or opening your fridge and having fresh and clean water… Imagine a life where you were able to feel grateful… to feel gratitude every time you drank water… many people in the world have this experience… perhaps it would be helpful in this country if we did not take water for granted.

My Gratitude while I was running… I was grateful for: the love in my life, that love exists, that I am conscious of existence, that life was growing, that I could smell, that I could run in a high altitude environment, that my dog was happy, that the flowers were different shapes, that I allowed myself to go running, that I had plenty of water waiting for me in the car, that I have legs, that I could get back to my car without dying if it started to rain, that my parents always encouraged a healthy lifestyle, that my parents bought me a guitar as a child, that my family has supported the person that I am, that I am learning to not fear my own destiny……………………….

I can feel the effects of the behavioral intervention that I did unto myself… I feel myself associating my grueling run with euphoric positivity.

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Balanced Boundaries – a metaphor about giving and taking for the health of yourself and others

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Wooden Vase

 

I am a wooden vase filled with healing water gently replenished by the collective love. As I pour too little, I overflow and my wood becomes oversaturated and less aware of its own makeup and contents… bloated and blinded with excess.  As I pour too much my wood becomes dry and cracked… delicate and injured.

 

By understanding that I am in a truth a wooden vase I understand how to balance the healing and health that I offer to others with the healing and health I must keep for my self.

 

As I give and keep in balance I find my compassion and nurturance to be replenishing and infinite. To give and to keep are both acts of generosity and responsibility when influenced by balance.

 

I had let my vase become dry and cracked and I hold gratitude for those who nurtured me back to a balanced saturation. My giving now comes from a healthy foundation… the healing waters I now disperse to others are given without negative consequence to my own self.

 

I am learning the boundaries of balance… I am learning to give from a healthy place… an empty vase pours good intention… a balanced vase pours collective healing.

 

Nurturance to I is the nurturance to all. Nurturance to all is the nurturance to I.

 

 

Peace and respect to all those who are asked to give more than they have to give… balance is manifesting as balance is already infinitely manifested.

 

Please feel free to comment or to leave your own metaphors.

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Motivation v.s. Dedication … Can dedication be created?

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Quick summary: My coach at Easton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Boulder Colorado chose to talk about the difference between motivation and dedication to illustrate an important point that he arrived at while contemplating the journey in becoming a black belt. I believe he had two intentions – one was to inspire and the other was to assist the students by offering them a glimpse of reality (the reality being that in a process which takes years and is exceptionally difficult, many if not most people will fail to reach their initial goal). The basic concept is that nothing good comes without effort, and motivation does not ensure the same longevity of that effort as dedication can provide. Motivation is fleeting and is often related to the positive impulses of a finite time period… because of the inherent finite nature of motivation, motivation alone will not produce the effort needed to achieve a long-term goal. Dedication is an internal contract which attempts to guarantee that effort or work will continue with regularity even when motivation is lacking or when apathy or hopelessness are present (this is the definition in my own mind… the actual original definition of dedication suggests that it is an external process – almost every definition I could find had to do with faith or religion – I believe that both I and my couch are talking more of an unrelenting commitment to an internal goal or intention.) This point is very accessible when related to exercise – it is unreasonable to assume that you will have motivation to train or workout every day that is needed for you to meet your individual goals – sometimes you’ll be tired, lazy, apathetic… it could be too cold, too hot, too rainy etc. Those who succeed will need to be dedicated to follow through even when they have zero motivation. Is dedication a choice that all people have equal access to? If dedication was a learned behavior that could be grown in apparently un-dedicated people what effect would this have on our culture?

I was very surprised in my brief investigation about the lack of information concerning the process of dedication.

The dedication that was so commonly referred to seemed to be inherently flawed and therefore somewhat unhelpful in my search for answers as to how to increase dedication.

dedication I found was most commonly found in religious writings… the problem that I found was that often the writings were not talking about dedication at all … instead they were talking about being recurrently motivated by the fear of punishment (such as hell) or the by the acquisition of positive (heaven).

-I am not intending to pass judgment on such a process (the process being the use of punishment and rewards to encourage a behavior), instead I am investigating how dedication came into existence… is there dedication which is unaffected by rewards and punishments? I believe the answer is yes… I believe that there are people who are dedicated to their religions, relationships, goals etc that are not doing so out of promise of reward or fear of punishment…

But what is the source? How can one become dedicated? Is it simply a choice?

One way of creating dedication is through anxiety – both intentionally and unconsciously. If you attach the meaning of your life to a certain variable then you are perhaps more likely to stay dedicated to that variable. This can be done with an “I am” statement – such a statement suggests a permanence that actually does not exist. If you rigidly define yourself with an “I am” statement then you will likely experience significant existential anxiety (anxiety surrounding apparent meaninglessness) if you lose your dedication to a variable which defined “who you are”.

By this reason the quick path to apparent dedication is to strengthen your ego (an ego is the apparently stable identity that you created to explain your own existence – your ego attaches itself rather rigidly to beliefs and characteristics in an effort to define an objective existence and to promote the misguided notion of predictability – all this in an ironic effort to reduce existential anxiety – the irony being that there is no existential anxiety without the ego).

As a psychotherapist I believe that the topic of dedication needs quite a bit more attention from my field…

A therapist can do many things to help an individual or group of individuals to find awareness and hope surrounding changes that would harvest positive benefits… we can encourage and motivate people to engage in those changes, but the therapist cannot ensure that a client will stay dedicated to their desires and goals.

As it is we can increase awareness, we can increase skills, we can increase attachment, and we can increase motivation etc… not only can we do so but we also have a rather stable understanding or how we are doing so.

We do not seem to have a stable understanding of how to create dedication though sometimes dedication is the result of a psychotherapy intervention.

Dedication is the key to maintaining the benefits of a change over a long period of time. The most obvious is substance abuse… it is very common for people to make changes regarding substance abuse… but many of those people will not be able to maintain the effort needed over time… especially when key supports are removed.

I hold dedication… and yet I have no idea or philosophical explanation as to how that dedication came to be…

As I contemplate this issue my mind seems to hover around words and thoughts such as intention, consciousness, the absence of judgment, collective, authenticity, destiny, breath work, and the moment.

A part of me seems to believe that dedication is an authentic intention which arrives at our conscious awareness through finding the destiny or purpose of the non-judging self as is related to the collective intention of all…

By this reasoning dedication would be inherent… dedication would be an unyielding drive towards authenticity… and authenticity which is not created by the mind or encouraged by the environment… perhaps then you can not be dedicated to something which is not authentic or to something which does not reflect your most fundamental purpose.

The purpose of one is related to the intention of the collective… we are all part of the homeostasis… we are all part of the balance… we are all part of the whole while being the whole itself.

To find balance perhaps you must find yourself… you must find your purpose related to the collective… I believe this is more difficult than it sounds as most of us have spent a large amount of time ‘creating’ a self which is a different process then finding oneself…

For dedication to exist there must be a part of all of us which is a constant… from that point arises dedication… dedication is the belief that constant exists… dedication is the intention of the constant.

I find myself once again going to the breath… to find dedication you might follow your breath… follow that breath past judgment… past belief… past identification… to acceptance… acceptance becomes the constant that we find ourselves dedicated to without need of intention… authenticity is arrived at… the gestalt is found… dedication is to your placement in and as the gestalt… dedication then is one with our authentic intention.

I shall receive a black belt if that is my authentic purpose… if that is what is the purpose of the collective… this is true so long as I am able to find my authentic purpose.

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.