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Encouraging people to evolve and create new opportunities at any age.
Challenging Times


“It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.”

Often, when intelligent well-informed people discuss current events with me, they shake their heads in frustration, as they tell me how hopeless they feel.
In 1859, Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two CitiesThe tale begins with the years leading up to the French Revolution and culminates in the Jacobin Reign of Terror.  Dickens opens his novel with these often quoted lines:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

Despite tremendous advancements in science and technology, medicine, education, travel and availability of materials goods, Dickens’ words of despair describe our world today as well as they did over 150 years ago. Often when intelligent, well-informed people discuss current events with me, they most often shake their heads in frustration as they tell me how hopeless they feel. They don’t believe much of the information promulgated from heads of state– either our own or those of other countries; they don’t trust the “military industrial complex”; they even get conflicting messages from leadership of their faith communities.  
Like my friends, I experience this same hopelessness and frustration.  I cannot see any clear solutions. With just a little imagination, I see us running in circles, with our hands over our ears and/or eyes, like the chicken in the childhood tale, Henny Penny, who proclaimed, “The sky is falling.  The sky is falling.”

The following is from Wikipedia describing the Henny Penny Tale:  
“There are several Western versions of the story, of which the best-known concerns a chick that believes the sky is falling when an acorn falls on its head. The chick decides to tell the King and on its journey meets other animals (mostly other fowl) which join it in the quest. After this point, there are many endings. In the most familiar, a fox invites them to its lair and there eats them all. Alternatively, the last one, usually Cocky Lockey, survives long enough to warn the chick, who escapes. In others all are rescued and finally speak to the King.

The moral to be drawn changes, depending on the version. Where there is a "happy ending", the moral is not to be a "Chicken" but to have courage. In other versions where the birds are eaten by the fox, the fable is interpreted as a warning not to believe everything one is told.”
Like Henny Penny and her friends – we don’t know what to believe or who to trust.  I do believe this, however:  while I cannot affect major changes at the global level, I can make significant changes at a personal level.  For this Christmas and holiday season, the gift I desire the most is inner peace.  I’ve learned personally that while such peace is truly available it is not easily acquired.  And once experienced, it must be continuously reinforced and nurtured or it weakens and disappears.  
In pursuit of this elusive gift, I’ve started reading:  Just One Thing by Dr. Rick Hanson, and I recommend it to you.  Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist affiliated with Berkeley and a speaker at Oxford, Harvard and Stanford.  The underlying premesis is “how you use your mind changes your brain – for better or worse.”  Based on the latest research about the neuroplasticity of the brain, Dr. Hanson explains how sounds, sensations, and even our own thoughts are not simply the products of our brain’s structure – they are also the creators of the resulting structure.
What this means is that when we continually re-circulate worries, self criticism and negative feelings- like anger and resentment- our brains gradually take the shape- will develop neural structures and dynamics – of anxiety, low sense of worth and prickly reactivity to others.  On the other hand, when we regularly practice noticing pleasant sensations, thoughts and feelings, appreciating that least – for the present moment  we are “all right”- then our brains will gradually take the shape of calm strength, self-confidence, and inner peace.

This is not to say that one should sit quietly out in the open in a “Pollyannaish” pose while things are actually falling on your head.  There are times to take action. 
I value the wisdom from the 12-step programs contained in the Serenity Prayer, where courage, acceptance and wisdom are often depicted in the form of a triangle.
 
Courage: 
One side of the triangle reminds me there are things I can change.  I hope for the courage and tenacity to effectively make those changes.

Serenity: 
Another side reminds me there are things I cannot change.  I hope for acceptance to deal with those things.  This doesn’t mean I accept hostile or negative behaviors themselves.  I simply accept that they exist and that I am powerless to change someone else’s behaviors. 
 
 
Wisdom: 
The last side reminds me that, with wisdom, I can discern the differences between the choices and select the side I need for the present circumstance.
I hope you will gift yourself this Holiday Season with ample periods of quiet and peace. 
 
Other suggestions for creating personal peace in challenging times:
Diary/journaling
Music
Exercise
Focusing on the good
Gratitude
Positive Actions-Help/volunteer
Discourage “the sky is falling” attitudes of others

Looking for a good book?

Check out the NPR Book Concierge
Join the conversation….

Your thoughts and comments are welcomed- send your emails to: info@kendrabrownphd.com

Future Events


The Dr. is in…the Graden:
Hypertufa Workshops at various locations including McKee and Heathcote Botanical Gardens and Ground Floor Farm

 
Visit the website for details about future events:  www.kendrabrownphd.com.  

We’d love for you to attend. Events Page
 
Copyright © 2015 Kendra Brown, Ph.D, All rights reserved.


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