Life and Living

Why It’s Okay to Change Up Family Traditions

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This article was first published in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper

Holiday traditions have always made my heart beat a little faster—not with excitement, but with stress. Growing up as the seventh of eight children, I spent every December struggling to find gifts and make treats for everyone in the family. Things got easier when I started my own small, nuclear family. But our numbers are growing, and in recent years I’d begun to feel a touch of the old anxiety. Still, I was a bit shocked when someone suggested that we switch up our traditions by assigning each [...]

Why Winning Doesn’t Always Bring Happiness

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This year, as I mash up some fresh guacamole and settle in to watch Super Bowl LIII, I’ll remember (as I do every year) how my oldest daughter reacted to her very first sight of American football. Two-year-old Katie peered at the TV screen and proclaimed, “That not football. That head ball.” She’d been taught that balls are round, and the roundest things on that field were the players’ helmets. Once I’d explained about the pointy pigskin, Katie came back with a question. “But mommy,” she said, “why those guys do that?”

I paused, thinking about zillion-dollar contracts, sponsorship deals, [...]

Dysfunctional Family Bingo

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The holidays are high season for life coaches. Here in the States, the festivities start with Halloween and go on all the way through New Year’s Day, when we drag ourselves out of bed and recommit to normal life. At any time during those weeks, the pressure is on: we must be happy while spending time, money, and energy we don’t have on people who may or may not deserve it.

I’m not trying to “Bah, humbug!” the season. I love the holidays. Thanksgiving, in particular, is one of my favorite times of year. But I’ve had my share of [...]

Giving Thanks

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I want to begin by thanking you for reading this post. In a world blitzed with information, you’re giving your precious time and attention to my words, and I am deeply, genuinely grateful.

Lest you think I’m having a selfless moment, let me confess that I wrote the previous paragraph to see if it would make me feel good. I’ve just been reading studies that say expressing gratitude is one of the quickest, most powerful ways to increase feelings of well-being. 

It’s totally working, y’all.

By stopping to give thanks, I redirected my attention from my small, drudging self to you, wherever [...]

The Holiday Hurricane: Finding Shelter

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December is a month of intense psychological ambivalence. On one hand, there’s a lot to love about songs and sweets, parties and presents. On the other hand, the holidays present us with a host of stressors. I’m not just talking about vague malaise. This season forces our brains to face challenges that, at any time of year, can push them into confusion, anxiety, even panic.

Understanding what our brains undergo during this month can help us deal with the season more easily. So here’s some information that may help you weather the hurricane of mental pressures you’ll almost certainly encounter [...]

Everything is Changing, All the Time

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I once heard a Zen monk say that all our suffering comes from resisting one simple fact: everything is changing, all the time.

Think about your life situation in this moment: the good and the bad, and the ugly. Whoops! Now it’s different. While you were thinking, everything around you got a few seconds older.

What we think of as “my life,” stable and solid, is in fact a flowing river. The banks may look the same, but the water is always, always, always changing.

I was stunned when something told me, “Move to the woods in [...]

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