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Mindful : December 2016
Our connections flourish when we take time to get to know ourselves, and oth- ers, better. 7 Communicate your needs and feelings Most of us have been guilty at one time or another of not being clear about what we really need or want in the moment. This indirect form of communication rarely yields the outcome we want. In our program Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness (CALM), we emphasize the importance of Non-Violent Communication, which assumes that we all share the same basic needs and that our actions (know- ingly or unknowingly) are attempts to get those satis- fied. When we learn how to identify and express our own needs clearly, we natu- rally move toward greater understanding, compassion, and connection with the people in our lives. time, it also stops us from clearly seeing the person in front of us—instead we just see our “idea” of that per- son. See if you can be open, curious, and interested in those close to you as if you are getting to know them for the first time. You might be surprised what you find. 6 Make plans and keep them Nothing breaks a bond like flaking on plans. And yet there are often rea- sons why we don’t follow through on commitments. Sometimes we’re over- extended, saying “yes” to plans or responsibilities when we mean “no.” Be honest with yourself, and only take on what you can handle. Identify the people in your life who bring you down, and those who nour- ish and energize you. And then figure out if, and how, you can work with your relationships to those peo- ple to foster mutual trust, respect, and appreciation. (on the hand, shoulder, knee, or arm) and see what you notice—perhaps it’s a greater sense of connection, increased compassion, or an open heart. 4 Hug like you mean it Very few things feel better than a good hug. Science shows that hugging can reduce blood pressure, alleviate fear, soothe anxi- ety, and release the “love” hormone oxytocin. Psy- chologist Stan Tatkin sug- gests that in order to align nervous systems, prevent arguments, and feel more connected people hug until both bodies feel relaxed. Who can you hug today? 5 Be interested The late rabbi and social activist Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “ Life is rou- tine, and routine is resis- tance to wonder.” One of the essential attitudes of mind- fulness is curiosity, and we can bring this into our rela- tionships to foster warmth and trust. Our minds often tell us that we “know” someone so well that we can predict their behaviors and responses. While this may be true some of the 8 Be kind Kindness is like a magnet. People like to be around others who are kind because they feel cared about and safe with them. The age-old Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would want them to do to you” still rings true today. It’s also reciprocal. When we practice kindness, not only do we feel better, but we help others feel good, too. And this just increases opportunities for positive connections throughout our day, which, in turn, contributes to our own health and well-being. 9 THINK before you speak We’ve all been guilty of saying or doing something we wished we hadn’t. It happens. But we can certainly make more of an effort to be thoughtful with our words and actions. Try this experiment for a week: Before speaking Stefanie and Elisha Goldstein are clinical psychologists at the Center for Mindful Living in Los Angeles, specializing in mindfulness, with a focus on families and children. Elisha is the author of Uncovering Happiness. 36 mindful December 2016 how to live a mindful life