What Is an Emotion?

In 1962, two scientists, Stanley Schachter and Jerry Singer, at Columbia University did an experiment that would be illegal today. It would be illegal because the researchers deceived the participants. In the study, volunteers were told that they were receiving vitamin shots to see if it would affect their eyesight, but the researchers had other plans. Instead of giving the participants vitamins, they really gave them shots of adrenaline.

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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a hot topic these days. Chances are you are reading this because you’ve heard something in the past about how the present is the place to be (as if you could ever be anywhere else). Many people seem to think that being in the moment requires attending the right retreat, doing the right meditation, finding the right teacher, wearing the right clothes, or reading the right book. In an attempt to monetize the moment, people have marketed mindfulness into something that it’s not, something much more complicated than it needs to be. 

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The Power of Observation

If I’ve learned anything from years of mindfully observing my inner experience and coaching others to do the same, it’s this: you can’t change a thought or feeling the same way you change a flat tire. You can’t replace an unwanted emotion with a more desired one. If this were true, no negative feeling would last longer than a few seconds, because you would undoubtedly swap pain for pleasure.

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The Computer Guy

I used to know a “computer guy”. I use quotations because it turned out this guy was not a real computer guy. He was more of a guy who messed with computers. Truth is he was pretty awful at his job, something I learned the hard way.

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The Loch Ness Monster Story

I vividly remember one of my first attempts at meditation. I was sitting on my bedroom floor, doing my best to empty my mind of all thought. Suddenly, an image of a Loch Ness Monster came to mind. I saw Nessie in a swimming pool, lounging comfortably on a brightly colored inflatable raft. Then, from the right side of my mind, another Loch Ness Monster jumped in the pool, making a big splash, knocking the first monster off of his float. 

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Mr. Fix-It

Word of warning: When your significant other is upset, DON’T TRY TO FIX ANYTHING! This cautionary tale is written from my own personal experience, as I wasted several years of my marriage attempting to soothe my wife with solutions. I’m here to say it does not work. Don’t do it!

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Unconditional Love

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 

Say what you want about Paul, but he brought his A game when he wrote this passage. 

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No Control, No Problem

“I feel out of control!”

As a counselor, I hear this phrase all the time. It’s a powerful expression. It’s clear, to the point, and often times the most heartfelt way of expressing how you feel when circumstances appear unstable. We’ve all felt this way and uttered these very words at one time or another. It’s undeniable that all of this seems to make perfect sense, but I’m here to challenge the typical notion of control. The phrase “I feel out of control” may appear accurate, but often times it’s actually not.

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The Gorilla Story

Imagine you and I are scientists studying a band of gorillas deep in the jungle. As good scientists, we vow not to intervene or interfere with the animals. We also understand the need to put aside personal beliefs and biases about how gorillas ought to behave, as such presumptions would easily spoil our research. Our task is simply to observe the gorillas—nothing more, nothing less.

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Hoard of Hoarders

So, I heard the TV show Hoarders was canceled. What a shame. I actually liked watching it. I felt it did an excellent job highlighting the lives of those suffering from the debilitating disorder know as hoarding—the excessive collecting of items, and the inability to discard them.  I know people like this. In fact, I know several people who display hoarding traits, but not in the way you might imagine. For the sake of this blog, I’d like to combine all the hoarders I know into one imaginary person. Let’s call him "Buddy". 

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