Shaping Love a Seminal-Study by Dr Sue Johnson

Source: drsuejohnson.com Any researcher knows that, if you aspire to be an ‘objective’ scientist, you are not allowed to be passionately impressed by your own research. I am now going to break that rule. It seems appropriate at the beginning of a New Year that my lab has just put out a new and rip roaring, cutting edge study (you can see it in early view in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy). This study is 25 years in the making and shows that we can now do something seemingly impossible – something that will speak to everyone who ever said to themselves, “Well what is all this love and romance stuff anyway and how does it work?” Which is pretty much everyone!   …Continue Reading  ...
Living Mindfully in the Moment

Living Mindfully in the Moment

We live in a society where more than 1 in every 4 Americans say they have a great deal of stress in their life. Stress is normal and is a necessary part of one’s daily life. Stress is a feeling that’s created when we react to particular events. It’s the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness. How do you handle stress? When stress feels overwhelming does it paralyze you with anxiety, worry, fear or helplessness? Or does it manifest in depression, keeping you from letting go of the past? Can you instead bring your focus to the present, to ground you in the moment? The practice of mindfulness, founded by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune in to what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. Here are a few key components of practicing mindfulness that Kabat-Zinn and others identify: Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling intense emotions. Notice—really notice—what you’re sensing in a given moment, the sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness. Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you, an insight that can free you from...
Generating Gratitude This Holiday Season

Generating Gratitude This Holiday Season

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick When a person is asked what they’d do different if given a second chance and their response is I wouldn’t change a thing, this totally baffles me! Maybe it’s just me but there were several things I wish I handled differently. The most helpful shift has been to put judgment aside and look for the good intention behind seemingly negative behavior (especially of my husband and children). Looking for good (instead of focusing on negative) has made life so much more fulfilling. Robert Emmons,  Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at UC Davis is renowned for his research on gratitude. He says “gratitude is a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.” He offers the following tips to cultivate gratitude: Keep a gratitude journal. Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. Setting aside time on a daily basis to recall moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable life theme of gratefulness. Remember the Bad. To be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember the hard times that you once experienced. When you remember how difficult life used to be and how far you have come, you set up an explicit contrast in your mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness. Reflect on Three Questions. “What have I received from __?”, “What...
Gratitude Generates Greater Happiness

Gratitude Generates Greater Happiness

The holiday season creates expectations for a festive and loving gathering with family and friends. Yet it’s often met with undue stress, disappointment, anxiety or depression. Maybe it’s fortuitous that Thanksgiving kicks off the season. We’re expected to be grateful. If this attitude of gratitude were adapted into our daily lives, might it bring greater happiness? As a psychotherapist, I often work with people suffering from anxiety or depression. One of my first tasks is to create a safe enough environment for the person to trust me enough to decrease the negative rumination. As they move away from their inner doubts and fears they’re able to view life more realistically. They eventually discover that there is much to be thankful for. Gratitude is defined as the feeling or quality of being grateful. It is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. They recognize that many times the source of that goodness lies outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power. UC Riverside professor, Sonja Lyubomirsky, says in her book, The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, that “Gratitude is many things to many people. It is wonder, appreciation, looking on the bright side of a setback. It is fathoming abundance, thanking someone in your life, thanking God and ‘counting blessings.’ It is coping, present-oriented and not taking things for granted.” Her research demonstrates that “expressing gratitude has several benefits. People...