- by Carolyn Bergen
Today, September 11, is a day that I remember well in 2001. I was driving to work when I heard about the World Trade Center tower being hit as the top story of the news. By the time I got to my office, the second tower had been hit. By the time we finished our morning conversation, another plane had gone down. I was working in personal care home at the time, and as I would go off to get 20-30 minutes work done, and then go to a unit lounge to check the news on the TV, another plane had gone down, or a building had collapsed or something equally catastrophic had happened. It became increasingly difficult to leave the TV and get anything done that day.
At noon, I left the personal care home, and came to the office. One of the guys from another business had gone out and purchased a television during the morning, and we had it on…and visions of the towers falling, and grainy, shaky footage of the planes going into the building replayed over and over and over and over (and over) again. That day, and the next and the next. And the televisions were on, every where, it seemed, replaying the events over and over…as commentators and experts mulled over the tragedy, looking at it from every possible angle. It was impossible to ignore--and I wouldn't have wanted to ignore it--I was riveted by the tragedy and the suffering and the loss. And it seemed important to honour lives lost by being very mindful of the tragedy in the days, weeks and months following--so I watched. We watched.
..and the towers kept falling.
In our collective consciousness, we could see the towers falling when we fell asleep, and when we woke. When we ate and talked and exercised. When we read the newspaper, went online, opened a magazine, or went to the coffee shop…we were saturated with the images and discussion of the tragedy.
These days, news is filled with violence in Syria, Iraq, and the Ukraine. Large planes with many people have gone down in recent months.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders specifically excludes media based exposure as a trigger for trauma response.
I'm not sure what they were thinking, but the evidence disputes that. Dr. Roxane Cohen Silver, in her research found that, "early and repeated exposure to violent images from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the Iraz War may have led to an increase in physical and psychological ailments up to three years" later.
Researchers surveyed a national sample of 4,675 adults two to four weeks after the 2013 Boston Marathon to assess acute stress responses to the bombings, the degree of direct exposure to the bombings, indirect exposure through media and prior exposure to other recent community-based traumas.
People exposed to six or more hours per day of bombing-related media coverage were nine times more likely to report high acute stress than those with minimal media exposure (less than one hour daily).
This acute stress is characterized by hypervigilance, feeling "on edge", intrusive thoughts, avoiding reminders of the event, and feeling oddly detached. Sleep and other activities can be affected.
The effect of being traumatized by continually seeing these events replayed on the media can have a greater effect on those who have struggle with mental illness, those with a history of trauma in their own lives, and those who have been previously exposure to "collective traumas" such as the Newtown school shootings, and other violent and grisly events that we have collectively viewed repeatedly.
Dr.E. Alison Hoffman states clearly that:
Look for the helpers…and there you will find hope.
I blogged about my experience visiting ground zero in New York City. I walked around the site, viewed the stories and artifacts…but was most struck by the memories and stories shared in St. Paul's church, which was only a block away from the World Trade Center. It was a place of helping and healing. It was a place of goodness and support and love. It opened its doors to emergency and rescue personnel right away, and stayed open for months. That didn't make the headlines, yet was just as much a part of the story as the buildings falling down…but I bet you didn't know about it.
Recently, I wrote about the time I spent about 4 hours at the scene of a horrific bus accident on the Coquihalla Highway near Merritt, British Columbia. I saw the blood and the broken glass, heard the screams and the sirens, and felt the weltering sun and wind of the helicopters, and witnessed the injuries of the dozens of folks who were in the bus when it rolled. You saw that part of the story on the news, too.
But what I also saw was incredible teamwork of emergency personnel and folks who stopped instead of driving by. I saw pillows and blankets appear out of no where…they could have only come from passersby. I saw hugs and gentle talk to victims. I saw competence and caring. I saw victims caring and weeping for their fellow victims. You didn't see all that in the news.
I saw the beauty and the horror. You only saw the horror…who do you think has the worst memory of the event?
- by Carolyn Bergen
I love a cappella music…voices blending together in beautiful harmony just melts me.
There's something about voices giving beauty to each other. When a voice finds its pitch in relationship to others, well...that seems exquisite to me. Voices supporting each other, adding to the others by their own unique contribution.
In a cappella music, each voice is distinct and vital and essential…and the sum of the whole is so much greater than its parts.
And music sung without any instruments, save the ones on the end of the arms--well, the rhythm of the hands only further adds to the whole.
(and the coordination, well, it. blows. me. away. …how do they do it?)
So, here, filmed in a single take, is a little tune that I just know will make your day--it made mine!
This song talks about the magic that happens when a person thinks of a loved one…it makes the journey more do-able. Thinking of a loved one lifts your spirits when down. Thinking of a loved one helps a person find their way.
If you're thinking of a loved one right now who helps you to "not walk alone"…because you keep them in your heart no matter where you are…send them a text right now…and let 'em know. Let'em know how s/he lifts your spirits!
Or tweet them. #IDontHaveToWalkAlone
Treasure those who walk with you…and show them some loooove. :)
- by Carolyn Bergen
Chatting about this with Dahlia on CJOB today…we have choices that we will have to live with for the rest of our lives. Why not invest some time in finding out how those who are dying wished they chose differently?
From our series:
...to challenge the possibility of the first regret: I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
…to challenge the possibility of the second regret: I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
….to challenge the possibility of the third regret: I wish I'd the courage to express my feelings
…to challenge the possibility of the fourth regret: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
…to challenge the possibility of the fifth regret: I wish I had let myself be happier.
- by Carolyn Bergen
After 4 days of travel, we were on the Coquihalla, almost to our destination on the West Coast…and then we came upon the scene. The tour bus had done a complete roll, landing on the side of the highway…missing all the windows on the side I could see.
My thoughts are as jumbled as the scene we came upon. I find myself remembering snippets of the four hours we spent at the site…in snapshots and slices; in a disjointed jumble of jarring images not unlike the scene itself.
So. much. blood.
Everyone in the accident had blood on them. Everyone.
Running down arms. Little rivulets drying half way down a cheek. Big splotches on shirts. Everyone was bleeding.
So many injured. So. many. injured.
My Junior Tribe Member (JTM) and I came upon the accident maybe several minutes after it happened. We arrived about the same time as the first police car and ambulance. A few uniforms and so many more injured…tho in the chao, who knew how many. We now know over 50. People in the bus, and outside of it. So many seriously injured on the bus…and how to get them help and get them off…gosh, it was a mess.
"All those that can walk…go over to that truck."
"No, all those that can walk…go over this way."
"Put the stretchers waiting for an ambulance over here."
"Hey, who put these stretchers here? The ambulances can't get through!"
"Has anybody thought to look under the bus to see if anybody is under there? NO??? ok…go look!"
Two emergency room physicians and an off duty firefighter/on duty trucker and a first aid teacher were at the scene within minutes. (Amazing that, isn't it?)
By the time I arrived the injured had plastic tags…red for needing critical attention, yellow for seriously injured but not critical, and green for minor injuries.
The red tagged folks were focused on first. My JTM was involved as they carefully compressed bleeding wounds, put folks on backboards, and prepared them to be flown away. IV's were started, vitals were taken, charts were started.
A Cantonese speaking by-stander began asking questions and interpreting answers…and emergency personnel began to call her this way and that to establish order.
Cases of bottled water showed up, as did pillows, and blankets. Rolled up Tshirts compressed to broad gashed tied with strips of random cloth, gradually were replaced with more sterile bandages and gauze.
The folks with yellow strips had bystanders with them…shielding them from the blinding sun on the gravel side of the Number 1 highway…I sat with two different families over the four hours…keeping her conscious, letting a little one play with my phone, checking vitals, soothing and helping them to know they weren't forgotten, even as it was taking time for them to get medical attention. Eventually, the physicians attended to them. A "green" fellow quickly changed to "yellow" as his symptoms worsened and was immediately attended to…the situation became well in hand.
Boxes of gloves, boxes of IV bags, tin foil blankets to stave off shock showed up in good supply. Styrofoam neck supports for all those who didn't have a collar…and eventually, everyone had the support…and then they became useful mini-stools for those of us who had been sitting on the dusty highway for hours.
I remember the quiet. Sometimes, there were period of no sirens and no helicopters. The highway was closed in both directions--no traffic sounds. So many of the victims knew no English, or very little…and many, when they spoke, did so very quietly, and had to be asked to repeat themselves louder.
- by Sabrina Friesen
It's that time of year again, where parents pull out school supply lists and dust off indoor shoes to see if they still fit for the upcoming year. Lazy summer routines make way for structure, and boxes of KD head back to the pantry in favor of bagged lunches and portable snacks.
For some people, it's the most wonderful time of the year. It means the end of keeping bored kids busy, of scrounging change for slurpees, and a blessed return to the structure of a school calendar.
For others, it's a time where they lament the lazy, hazy days of summer where children played and adults relaxed with a drink by the beach.
For many it's a mix of both.
What it can be for a lot of parents, too, is a time where post-summer shame kicks in. As colleagues return to the office from their weeks away and kids make their way back to school, the summer activities are reviewed and compared. It seems the days of letting kids run loose around the neighborhood with local kids are gone, with structured camps, day trips, and sometimes elaborate family holidays taking center stage.
What some people may not realize is how the end of summer can weigh heavy on the hearts of parents, as they step back and take stock of what they did (or didn't) do.
A few conversations with mom friends confirmed a truth I had already suspected. Lurking sneakily beneath the surface as we chat about the upcoming school year, I hear it.
In lingers in heavy sighs and tired eyes, and surfaces in every conversation about the upcoming end of summer.
As we compared the events of this summer to last, one friend wondered, "Did I do enough to make it feel like summer break? We went on a 3 week vacation last year, and this year we stayed home." For another friend, the demands of work were dramatically increased over the summer months - which meant more time in daycare and less 'fun' time with mom for her young ones. She too has looked back with regret - and perhaps a side of fear, wondering if her kids begrudge the summertime schedule. As I think of my own summer and of the interruptions of regular life that didn't pay heed to the short sunny season we have - I found myself tempted to 'make up' for the parts of the break that really didn't deliver for my own crew.
When did summer break turn into a two month long event?
I am curious what would happen if we were to look back on the summer with a side of "que sera sera", rather than with a dip in deep pools of regret. How would we feel about the transition to a new season of school if we were able to step back and realize summer is over and done, and there is not a thing we can do to change it.
Your summer could have been great. Or maybe it was total crap.
Could we stop kicking ourselves for all that we didn't do, and give pause to think of one thing this summer we enjoyed?
It doesn't have to be something worthy of an Instagram post, just something that filled your heart with some measure of joy. Even if it was dropping your kids off at overnight camp. And while you're at it, maybe hug your kids. Or ask them about their day, or their favorite summer memory.
Whether it's summer or spring, or the dark days of winter that are coming, what would happen if we compared less and showed up more for those we love?
Let's give ourselves permission to opt out of the event-based,
one-upping culture that we so often get tangled in and give space to celebrate
what we have to offer, no matter how big or small it seems.
And while you're at it, why don't you take a moment and share something about your own summer that stood out for you - parents or not. We'd love to celebrate the small things with you.
- by Carolyn Bergen
Robin Williams died last week.
A man who made us all laugh. I think this was where I first met Mr. Williams:
A man whose movies challenged us to not only laugh but to see how laughter fits in with challenge, and war, with growing up, and loving your kids so much it hurts. Robin Williams' movies were hysterical…but sometimes tears aren't so far away from laughter, eh?
Dahlia Kurtz sent me this article last week from Psychology Today, looking at how folks use humour in ways that allows a person to hide behind the joke, or conceal their pain underneath the humour. She suggested that we talk about it on air during our next weekly chat.
I asked folks who follow us on Facebook to comment on their perspective of the article. I'm grateful for those who did…some commented on the article on Facebook, others messaged me privately. I'm grateful to you all.
Ways in which humour works to hide pain:
Remember those old black and white movies, where we would see a coupla guys (usually wearing a suit and tie) want to rob a bank? And their plan was to light a small fire at the other end of town. We would watch, slapstick comedy style, as all the emergency vehicles drove towards this fire, leaving the crooks free to rob the bank at the other end of town.
It was a diversionary tactic--and it worked with varying success.
A reader wrote:
Humour is always what I used to direct away from the pain, If I was up enough to do it. My friends thought I was hysterical, my husband thinks I should do stand-up (seriously!). I am on antidepressants and I am in therapy. I am okay, for now.
Humor is an attempt to fool people…to have them look over here at this joke, and away from over there at that pain.
It covers the pain.
Another reader wrote:
A friend once asked of me, "Promise me that you'll always laugh at my jokes!" His humour did make me laugh all the time; he was quick witted, clean thoughts, great at puns and word play, could imitate voices, etc. However, others, even his own wife and family, didn't think he was funny and said so. They saw his humour as a bid for seeking attention and frowned on that. Seems that when they needed him to be serious, he couldn't be what they wanted. His request of me to always laugh at his jokes, may have been a humour mask - to hide insecurities or to be in control and do what he pleased, rather than do the bidding of his family members, or to carve out his own unique niche in his social circle.
Humor is a way to attract a sort of connection…laughter, is after all, a wonderful way for folks to connect. But when it is a way to avoid authentic connection, rather than create it, it becomes a problem.
Some folks will do anything to avoid getting serious. They refuse to talk about the tough stuff.
The very sad part?
For some folks who have used humour as a mask for so long, it's like the mask gets fused to their face. If you ask them to really talk at deeper levels, they aren't even quite sure what you mean. For some folks who use humour often and long enough, they lose connection with parts of themselves that are more complex, that has experienced pain and loss.
They aren't able to empathic with those who reach out to them…and others may stop reaching out…and then it gets lonely.
The "class clown" who joked to get others' approval now ends up distant and alone.
There is a difference between teasing and sarcasm. Sarcasm cuts--it uses humour to make a point, and often hides critical messages. Sarcasm can a way to be mean without owning the anger, or being direct about it.
You know that joke that somebody says about the deadline you missed, or the meeting you forgot…only you're not laughing? Yeah…that's sarcasm…and it can be an indirect way to express pain. It's tricky though, because you're expected to laugh at sarcasm even when it's not funny…and to name it and ask about what's behind the dig often elicits a shrug, and some hands up in a defensive way with a comment about "Don't take it so seriously--I was only joking!"
And the person using sarcasm--not getting their underlying hurt/anger/disappointment dealt with directly--and often, not at all.
Often self deprecating humour, where one makes jokes at one's own expense is often a way to beat others to the punch. After all, if you're harder on yourself than anybody else, then you can prevent hurt--theoretically, anyway. (What a person might not realize is how traumatizing it is to be beat up by oneself.)
People often use humour that is self critical as a way to ensure that others can't hurt them.
One reader wrote a contrasting idea:
My own sense of humour is self-deprecation, sarcasm, quick retorts. I have my own permission to poke fun at myself rather than joke at the expense of other people. I do find it annoying when on occasion someone felt that poking fun at myself meant that I was hiding deeper emotional issues and my own insecurities. I, on the other hand, felt that because I can poke fun at my own insecurities, I'm in a much better shape to deal with them - I don't deny them. Everyone has issues with something - and I'm coping well with mine.
From a reader:
My sweet husband, who passed away 1 1/2 yrs. ago now, asked me to tone down my sarcasm and I chose not to use it with him - just with my women friends. His sense of humour was a quiet, well-timed, dry-dead pan response - that usually took some time to catch! Miss those so much! No mask there - just delightful interactions with each other for 46 blessed years.
- by Carolyn Bergen
When I was a little girl, I couldn't decide between being a teacher or a nurse or a ballerina when I grew up. But I knew that no matter what, I wanted to be a mother.
Being a ballerina was out pretty quickly, as I never actually took ballet. (Apparently having beautiful ballerina pillow cases doesn't realize a dream). And while I have taught at the university, I'm not actually a teacher. And nursing was out because of the shift work…because it didn't fit for the kind of mother I wanted to be.
Becoming a mother was fraught with trickiness for me…I'm grateful that I am, and I soooo don't take it for granted. Multiple high risk procedures made it possible…and even then, it was only because of an extended hospital stay both before and after the youngest was born.
I am not one to take my Junior Tribe Members for granted. Achieving Motherhood was precarious for me…it then has had a preciousness to me that I've been mindful of these last years.
But that hasn't stopped me from wanting to pull my hair out at various points.
One of the JTM's was a highly sensitive child which meant that clothing tags, smells, the sight of food he didn't like, having to choose only one of two good things would send him into a full on meltdown. This, combined with a speech delay which meant I often had little clue about what was upsetting him until his fourth year. Tantrums weren't just daily…often they were hourly…those can wear a mama down.
Motherhood for me, as it does for all mothers, meant there were times when I was foggy with sleep deprivation and I muddled through the day with the only thought of making it until I might collapse into bed. There were times I was absolutely convinced I would never, ever, in my entire lifetime (and quite possibly the next) ever eat while the food was still hot.
One year, there were long dark nights staying at a friend's cottage where I sought to keep the little one quiet so as not to wake up our hosts, with "imaginary reading". I'd read "Molly moves to Sesame Street" and others so many times I could quote it word for word to the little one in the dark. The others were sleeping--and needed to sleep--and I was awake trying to keep JTM quiet…even though it felt I needed sleep more than anyone else.
I forgot sometimes how much I wanted motherhood, and how I had earlier anguished there would be days that it wouldn't happen. Sometimes I even wondered to myself, "Seriously? This is what I longed for? What was I thinking?"
As the JTM's got older, I did begin to eat a meal while it was still hot.
I slept through the night and woke up with a clear mind (and I wandered around marvelling: "Does everybody feel this good when they are awake after they've slept through? How come they don't appreciate it as a wondrous wonder?")
But now, they left a trail of crumbs as they got their own snacks, they left their socks lying on the floor wherever they had taken them off (which was anywhere...and everywhere), they had to be reminded to get ready on time for birthday parties and sports practices which they LOVED (but were still never ready on time for).
Loud and rambunctious, running full on through the house, grabbing hold of walls with dirty hands as they turned with breakneck speed. It was loud…and the smudges left traces of JTM's everywhere.
Sometimes it felt like I had only one nerve left, and they were busy trying to fray that one!
Oh, he'll still belong to us…but he's moving to a dorm across the country in just a coupla weeks. I didn't think it would end so soon. I didn't know it would feel so fast that the time would come.
Last evening, I sat down to watch a show last night, and had to move a couple dirty socks before I sat. I walked by the washer, and there was dirty socks and Tshirts littered over the floor…right beside the hamper. Seriously?
"Laundry thrown carelessly on the floor right next to the hamper is something I won't miss"
..was what I thought I would think…but it wasn't.
I will miss it.
In an odd space between the almost but not quite, I'm regretting all the times he won't be in the next room playing his music too loud, or leaving his dishes on the counter, or his flip-flops in the middle of the entry way so I can't even close the back door. I'm gonna miss how he looks suddenly guilty when I ask if he has done the chore I asked him to do yesterday.
Pretty soon he won't be leaving socks around the house anywhere for me to decide if I should clean up myself, or call him over to learn to take responsibility.
And in an odd twist that is surprising me, I'm already missing the messiness.
In a world where an unarmed black son gets killed while standing in the street, terrorists end lives and celebrate with arms raised in videos, and a famous comedian who made the world laugh and loves his family can't see a way out of the pain…I realize how blessed I have been to complain about socks and tantrums, and crumbs, and dishes on the counter.
And how very much I will long for the days when eye rolling and harumphs of frustration could be part of my daily existence…because those frustrations said my JTM was likely in the next room. It meant that he would burst through the door soon wanting to tell me something funny that he saw on YouTube. It meant that we would soon go to a smelly gym where two teams would give their body's best to become a team…it meant this good little boy was on his way to becoming a fine, young man--and I had a front row seat.
…grumbling because our loved ones are around messing up with crumbs and crusts and crying, being inconsiderate, tripping over their foibles as they make their way through life.
Let's celebrate that grumbling over our loved ones means they are around for us to grumble about.
I know that I'm gonna miss grumbling about him.
- by Carolyn Bergen
"My name's dad…and proud of it…all dads should be."
I love peanut butter.
But I'm not at all sure about mixing peanut butter and Cheerios.
I am completely sure that this is the sort of dad that is inspiring… I think it's something about the encouragement, empowerment, boundaries, playfulness, affirmation towards his children and confidence in his own ability to pull it off in a crazy, imperfect, messy sort of way that just warms me.
In a world that is too quick to tell us what we need by what we haven't got, I'm kinda inspired by a model that is respectful to dads, and celebrates the contribution of men in the lives of their children.
Go Cheerios! You're not just for amusement of little-tiny-preschoolers-whose-desperate-parents-put-cheerios-on-their-high-chairs-to-get-5-more-minutes-peace-to-finish-their-dinner anymore!
Dads are important. The research says it, and my walls have heard it over and over.
Listen to dads and boys talk about it:
- by Carolyn Bergen
Introducing Heather Pringle!
We, at Bergen and Associates Counselling are thrilled to let y'all know that Heather Pringle is joining our team, beginning to see clients at the beginning of September.
It has been tradition, ever since our first loved intern, Rod Minaker, phoned me up and told me how much sense it made for us to have an intern. I'd never really thought of it before, and had no idea what it would look like, but with his workhorse ethic, he assured me that it was do-able, and he could help me figure out how to make it happen. He literally created his own internship--he did an excellent job doing so, and actually helped create the template for interns that then followed. He is leaving us at the end of this month, and while we will certainly miss his input to our clients--way more than than, we're just gonna plain miss him. We have come to love his learning spirit, his passion for the profession, his playfulness and his giggle…and all that makes Rod…well, Rod.
A lovely line of interns followed…each one meets with myself (Carolyn Bergen) regularly to consult about the situations and the clients they are working with…we brainstorm together how they might help a client approach their issues in fresh and life giving ways; how they might authentically connect with clients as they explore matters that are deeply personal and troubling; and how they might help create space and momentum for moving forward in ways that create new energy and life.
Last Thursday, it so happened that I met Kevin Beauchamp, our intern from 2011-2013 for breakfast. He introduced me to his lovely fiancé, who was actually a student that I taught at the University of Manitoba last year. He was excited to tell me of his life post internship…and it was beautiful to hear him reflect on what life has taught him, and the joy he has.
I drove from the breakfast to my office where I met Yok Knight, our intern from 2009…and she introduced me to her baby, named after a civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Yok's sense of justice, and desire for reconciliation and authentic peace is powerful. She caught me up on her travels and adventures as she has furthered her education and lived in various parts of North America. It was cool to see her growth, and to meet her little one.
Now..Heather Pringle joins us. We value our interns…and she comes to us soooo highly regarded. We've been impressed with her right from the time we received her first interest in joining us. I spent a couple of hours with her last week, explaining some of how we do things…and you know how sometimes you can tell it's a good fit? Let's just say, we had a great orientation.
I got a good feeling about having her around.
She will be seeing clients for 60 minute sessions on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons with a rate of $45.00 per session (including GST). She is at the end of her studies, and is nearing completion of her degree…and she, like all the other interns, will be regularly consulting with Carolyn Bergen.
We recognize that the full clinical rate is out of reach for a lot of people who would still value therapy…and so we are delighted to give the public an option that is within reach for more people.
**Please note that Heather and I are "as is" on the above photo…no blemishes photoshopped out, no wrinkles smoothed, no teeth whitened. We present the shot unretouched--intentionally.
This high quality photo taken by Doug Little, our next door neighbour at the office…but only until the end of the month. We will miss you, Doug!
- by Carolyn Bergen
How does mental health and money intersect?
Well, so glad you asked!
As I've been doing some reading and listening lately, the topic of a person's relationship to money and how that impacts the relationship to themselves and others has come up lately.
What I've discovered is this:
It is stressful to be stretched and strained…to wonder how the rent will be paid, or wonder if the grocery money will last until the end of the month. When finances are so tight that there isn't enough for basic expenses, it affects mental health.
It's a lousy feeling to not know if you can provide for your kids. Absolutely.
Poverty is exhausting and stressful. And having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet is hard on relationships.
However, we often have the notion that happiness can only increase as income increases. The more money one has, the common thinking goes, the easier it is to provide for children, and give them what they need.
"The scholars who research happiness suggest that more money stops making people happier at a family income of around $75000/year" (David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, p. 50) And actually, "when the income of parents gets high enough, then parenting starts to be harder again"…as teaching a work ethic and modelling a successful struggle to achieve family success becomes difficult. It's harder to say, "No, we won't" than, "No, we can't".
We live in a scarcity culture…one where the fear of "not enough" is ever present. Media/advertising often tell us that we should be using better shampoo, have a nicer car, have a phone with more features, bump up our RRSP contributions…and we are often chasing "more" to ensure we have "enough".
This is despite the fact that our houses are much larger than 20 years ago, and there is double the square footage of home per person today than a generation ago. Things that didn't even exist a hundred years ago and were considered luxury a generation ago are not considered standard (think air conditioning, dishwashers, cell phones).
In our pursuit of "enough" in this scarcity culture, we become anxious and focused on what's not right/enough and become single minded in correcting this. Consumer debt load continues to rise. We are more in debt than ever before.
Debt creates its own stress.
Love this TED talk that makes the above claim:
Money does buy happiness…but only if you spend it the right way…on others. When we use our money to be kind…we experience a greater level of joy and life satisfaction
A guy named Michael Norton did some research at UBC in Vancouver had scientists give folks some money in the morning--…and if they were told to spend it on themselves, it had no effect on their mood. Others were also given money, only were told to spend it on others in whatever they chose…they bought someone a coffee,gave it to the homeless, or bought a small toy for a child…when they got a call at suppertime later that day, the folks who spent it on others…they had improved mood.
The research found that even small ways of spending money on others gave just as powerful an effect. you don't have to do amazing things with your money to make yourself happy. You can do small, trivial things and yet still get these benefits from doing this.
Turns out that when you give the members of a team…from a financial sales team or a dodge ball team…when you give each team member money to spend on themselves, it’s spent with no effect. It’s gone. When you give team members money and ask them to spend it on their team members, something quite incredible happens. Spending money on others has a much bigger return. Sale numbers of sales teams go up…substantially. Dodge ball teams start cleaning up in the league. When team members are provided with resources and encouraged to be kind to each other, team work gets better, and the team becomes more successful.
This group looked across the world—how broad is this effect that being
kind with your money improves life satisfaction. Michael Norton and his team
got data from the Gallup Organization. They ask people, "Did you donate
money to charity recently?" and they ask them, "How happy are you
with your life in general?" …In almost every country in the world where
data can be gathered, people who give money to charity are happier people that
people who don't give money to charity.
One of the most common things for couples to fight about is money.
One of the main reasons couples fight about money is that they use money to say things in the relationship.
Using your words to communicate the desire to be close, to feel good enough, to express disappointment or love will always be more effective than communicating with money.
People who enjoy shopping will often buy an item when feeling especially stressed after a hard day's work, or getting dumped, or after an argument with someone important to them.
The purchase gives a bit of a pleasant buzz…it feels good to have something new. It is an attempt to numb the uncomfortable/painful feeling with a shiny new object.
Truly, a cute dress doesn't really numb the pain…and if your closet is already full, and your credit card already has a balance…it actually will increase the pain in the long run, after the immediate buzz wears off.
Spending money to feel better doesn't work.
Our culture often equates income with happiness. We esteem those who have more disposable income. Our culture often measures success by the size of a person's home, the number of bells and whistles on their vehicle, or the manufacturers of their clothes. This occurs for both genders, but men tend to be more harshly evaluated on their "ability to provide".
I wrote a series about the regrets of the dying. When folks are in their last days, confronting their own mortality, they are not wishing they had made more money, or had a bigger house. They are wishing they hadn't worked so hard, that they had put more emphasis on relationships and quality of life.
Bronnie Ware writes: "By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle."
Watching horrific things on video is traumatizing…repeatedly watching is as or more traumatizing than being there at the actual occurrence. How can we honour tragedy in a way other than traumatizing ourselves?
Hump Day Nudge: Voices blending in an epic patty cake song…reminding us in word and rhythm that we walk together…not alone
On CJOB with Dahlia Kurtz…the top 5 regrets of the dying can become the top 5 opportunities of the living…at the beginning of September, let's learn the life lessons those at the end of life wish they had learnt!
Carolyn was one of the first responders at the bus accident last week on the Coquihalla Highway near Merrit last week in BC…her experience of being with those in trauma...