Finding Peace in the Moment

Trying to empty my head of all that noise, the hamster wheel that keeps on spinning. Creating room for healthier thoughts, more joyful balanced sounds. Determined to escape the frenzy, the anxiety waiting to take over.

Feeling stretched in so many directions, that never-ending list.

Oh to be free again, from worry, stress, and responsibility. Guarding my heart and mind, from perfection and high expectations. Returning to the things that bring me joy, like writing and photography.

Finding tranquility in the present moment, not worrying about tomorrow.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you (Isaiah 26:3).

Mist

 

 

 

Why Do We Remember the Good More Than the Bad?

Why is it that people tend to focus more on their failures than successes?
What is it about the human psyche that causes us to remember the bad more than the good?
Why do we beat up on ourselves when we make mistakes, while fleeting past our victories?

It’s that 1 negative thing …

In any given day, I may accomplish much, but it’s the 1 negative thing or interaction that leaves a lasting imprint on my mind. It’s that 1 single mistake that keeps replaying in my head, ignoring all the other positive events of the day.

I recently had such a day. I’d done many things well, but didn’t hit the mark on another task. So I lamented over my presumed incompetence: “Why, why, why didn’t you think things through?” I chastised myself.

Reality check

As I continued to replay this broken record, it suddenly dawned on me how self-indulgent I was being. Because within the same day, I had shared a very intimate conversation with a young man who’d lost his father to prostate cancer, and found out 6 months later that his mother had lung cancer.

Talk about a reality check! Here I was feeling sorry for myself, when I could be grateful for the privilege of having shared such a personal and honest conversation. It was humbling how this young man spoke about his experience with such boldness and courage.

Is it human nature?

So I ask again, why do we remember the bad more than the good?

“It’s in human nature,” says social psychology Professor Roy Baumeister, whose research states that, “Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.”

Communication Professor Clifford Nass provides further insight on this, “The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events—and use stronger words to describe them—than happy ones.”

5 good for every 1 bad

So it’s not just me. I’m not crazy or unusual for focusing on negative experiences. I don’t need to beat myself up when things go wrong. Plus, it’s refreshing to note that positive thinking and living isn’t just a soft and fluffy feel-good term, it’s cerebral, and necessary for healthy balanced living.

According to Professor Baumeister, “Many good events can overcome the psychological effects of a bad one.” The ratio is apparently 5 goods for every 1 bad, which is a great reminder that we need to show more love and compassion for others and ourselves.

Related articles:

Don’t Push Me, I’m Comfortable

I recently had a fascinating conversation with a gentleman who told me they were afraid of heights. Naturally, I assumed this translated to a fear of all activities involving heights. But oh no, this person was a certified pilot and consummate sky diver. It goes without saying, I was impressed by his ability to confront the very thing he was afraid of!

So this got me thinking about comfort zones—those warm familiar places where we exist in an anxiety-neutral state. Yet what’s wrong with being comfortable? Must we always be growing and pushing the boundaries of what we know, now?

For me, stepping out of my comfort zone is about overcoming fear.
… and the Bible tells me over and over again: Do not fear
because fear challenges my faith in God … and without faith it is impossible to please God.

Here’s the truth: faith offends the stationary; it challenges the status quo. On the contrary, fear keeps us stuck in neutral, neither moving forwards or backwards.

Lord be a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path.

Lord be a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path.

It takes courage to venture into unknown territory. Heck, who wants to leave the convenience and familiarity of what they know to start something totally new, totally uncharacteristic, and possibly for less money and notoriety?

Here’s the other truth: faith and fear cannot coexist. Fear contradicts God’s promise to be with us no matter what:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God (Isaiah 41:10 )

So when challenged to go beyond my “don’t-push-me zone,” I can trust and believe that just like last time, grace will see me through. I have the assurance that Jehovah did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).

How do you assess your current comfort level? When did you last “step out of the boat?”

 

The Day I Almost Fled the Room

stage fright

Mind: Breathe. Relax. Get a grip.
Body: What if I choke?
Mind: Don’t worry, you’ve got this!
Body: What if my voice cracks?
Mind: Pause, take a deep breath, sip some water.

Lub dub, lub dub.

Heart in throat, I could literally feel my chest exploding. It was this epic battle between Mind and Body. Mind was fighting to gain control; Body was drenched in adrenaline as the fight-or-flight response kicked in: palms sweating, hands trembling, heart racing, breath shallow, and mouth dry like cotton.

I felt like Moses when he argued with God about leading the Israelites:

O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled (Exodus 4:10–13).

I was gripped with glossophobia—fear of public speaking—accompanied by a foreboding sense of doom. The stakes were high. Though it crossed my mind, I couldn’t very well flee and run. I was in it to win. Besides, how would I look myself in the mirror again?

See, I’m uncomfortable in the spotlight. I don’t enjoy that “all-eyes-on-me” feeling. Thankfully Mind won over Body, but what about next time?

How do you deal with public speaking? Any tips for turning nerves into friends versus foes? And no, picturing people naked doesn’t work for me.

Taking a deep breath …

So Sick of Injustice

This post is dedicated to the brave black woman who stood by my side, as a witness to injustice, while the sea of onlookers did nothing, said nothing, and turned a blind eye…

so sick of injustice
so sick of bystanders
who do nothing
say nothing
who turn a blind eye
to wrongs in society

so sick of the posers
masquerading as
peacemakers
conflict resolvers
who stick to their kind
hiding behind the letter of the law
ignoring the spirit of it

so grateful
for brave voices
for hearts that embody,
“love thy neighbor”
offering help
showing solidarity
when the crowd is silent

I’ve said it before
I’ll say it again
this brown skin
I’ll wear with pride
wide nose, thick lips, afro ‘n all
until my last breath

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Creative Block

Lately I’ve been struggling … for inspiration.

Ideas fleet in and out, many crash-land, few actually taken off.

It seems like I’ve caught a severe form of “creative block.” It’s pretty debilitating. My brain seems run-down, inspiration doesn’t flow, I just can’t seem to commit to an idea.

So I’m choosing quiet reflection. I’m getting plugged into the storehouse of wisdom and creativity – Yahweh. I’ll sit at His feet, soak in truth, and get clarity of vision.

How do you deal with creative block?

Bench

My Brain is Not an App

I don’t know about you, but my brain is not designed to function like an iPad or iPhone, with applications running in the background.

iPhone

I recently posted on how multitasking is a big old lie.

In both man and machine, multitasking depletes available resources, including memory and power, and limits the functioning of foreground applications. Try running multiple applications on an iPhone simultaneously and watch how long the battery lasts.

So what to do?

We need to make smarter choices. We need to conserve our energy and allocate our time and resources to the people and tasks that matter. Unlike iDevices, we really can’t do it all, at the same time.

For your reading pleasure:

Creativity: Nurture or Nature?

My 2-year-old expressing her creativity

My 2-year-old expressing her creativity

Creativity—are you born with it, can it be learned, or is it a combination of both?

For the longest time I opted out of calling myself creative.

I’ve always been fascinated with the human body and spent most of my 20s as a science geek, in the lab, conducting research, chasing after my PhD. As far as I was concerned, creative minds belonged to artists, writers, musicians … ie, “fun and spontaneous” people. Nerds like me were labelled analytical, procedural, practical, plus any other “–al” you care to attach.

At the time, I didn’t fully understand or appreciate that success in graduate school required immense creativity. Publishing original work is all about generating new ideas and discovering unique systems. It requires great storytelling and building a body of work that makes you an expert in your chosen field. Now tell me that isn’t creative!

Today, I find myself in the workplace where management is eager to impress their clients with creative ideas and solutions. With this challenge comes the need to categorize employees as “creative” versus “noncreative.” So once again I ask myself, “Am I creative … enough?”

I get it, creative minds are sought after. They are considered the bread and butter of most companies. However, the need to label people as “creative” or “noncreative” is scandalous.

You see, it’s all about perception. If I don’t look or sound like the “creative type,” I can’t possibly be creative. But, here’s a provocative truth:

  • Everyone is born creative.

God is a creative being. He created us in his image and likeness, depositing in us seeds of creativity, curiosity, imagination, perseverance, intelligence … just watch a kid play with a giant card box and you’ll see that. So the challenge is to keep these qualities alive and flourishing. This includes growing and exercising our creativity muscles—yes, we all have them!

Over the years, I’ve seen my creative ability grow and atrophy depending on the environment. So I plan to strengthen and condition my creativity muscles by being more playful at home, at work, and in my community. And to surround myself with folks who will nurture and sharpen my creative edge. Basically, I plan to follow my 2-year-old’s lead.

What does creativity mean to you?

True or False: We are all born creative.

How to Save Time

Bvlgari clock

“Where did the time go?”

“Time flies so fast!”

“I can’t believe my baby is all grow up!”

We often worry about not having enough time. And when it’s gone, it’s gone!

So how can we save time? How can we prevent ourselves from wasting precious minutes and hours?

By understanding the Why behind what we’re doing.

When we know the Why—the intent, objective, or purpose of a task—we’re better geared for success and less likely to waste time pursuing the wrong agenda.

Think on it …