Day 275 in Beijing: My battle with the Green Eyed Monster.

According to Shakespeare, and my good friend, John Annesley, jealousy is the green eyed monster.

Shakespeare wrote, in Othello, “Beware of jealousy, my lord! It’s a green-eyed monster that makes fun of the victims it devours.”

I tend to agree with The Bard on this one.

I have been working hard at controlling my thoughts, emotions and behaviors over the past few years.

It is a dedicated study that I have been doing and continue to do each moment I breathe.

My study of emotions and thoughts began long before graduate school where I studied to be a Marriage and Family Therapist.

I specialized in Somatic Psychology (body and mind) but later took a seminar in David Burns’ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and my life changed in an instant.

It is based on scientific research, including scores written by the clients themselves so it is not just the therapist deciding what is the truth for a client, and allows me to distance myself from negative emotions and feelings quite easily.

It also allows clients to do this.  I’ve seen it over the past 6 years and feel there is no better way to help people decide what is right for them, in this moment, and move on to a much more content, positive and fulfilling life.

One of the true benefits is it allows one to see that they are in control of their choices and are free to do what they want, at any moment, because the consequences will be theirs, whether they make a choice or not.

My choice has been to rid myself of jealousy and I’ve done a fairly good job at it.

I’ve had a few small pangs of it in the past 9 months living in Beijing but they went away quite quickly because I’m living, in my opinion, what is pretty much the perfect life for me.

However, I hit a major roadbump a few days ago.

A high school friend of mine was visiting China for work.

We were going to meet up and catch up after 20 some odd years.

However, she ran into a famous musician and her band and decided to hang out with them.

They actually gave her back stage passes and invited her up to their hotel rooms.

She was able to hang out with them and live a bit of a dream.

Well, at least it is a dream for me.

This is where my jealousy came in.

I would love to be invited back stage by a world famous musician and get to hang with her and her band.

So, instead of just being excited for her, I started to feel as if I wasn’t important and was being “left out.”

Strangely enough, it wasn’t that I was being left out of seeing my friend, because I knew she’d be back in a few months and we’d hang out then, it was that I was being left out of a party that I never would have been invited to or even thought about if not for her getting this amazing chance.

Jealousy, that green eyed monster, can strike at any second.

Now the choice was up to me: I could do some behavioral therapy work or sit and become more jealous.

I choose to do the work.

I’m also a firm believer in being vulnerable and admitting your fears.

I have found that when I admit my fears, then tend to be destroyed by the truth of speaking them.

I told Jill that, “I’m feeling really jealous of her wonderful luck and the great chances she is having.  I want to be there and having those experiences with her.”

Jill looked very surprised and noted, “I don’t think I’ve ever known you to be jealous.  Is there something I can do?”

I told her, “Nope, I just need to do a bit of a daily mood log and work on my cognitive distortions.”

Interestingly, I don’t think Jill really gets jealous.  She seems genuinely happy for what people receive and what she receives.

I have practiced these so much, with my clients and on myself, that it is almost automatic at this point.

I sat there, thought out the cognitive distortions and how my automatic negative thoughts could be reframed in a positive thought, and blew the lies that my jealousy told me with away easily.

I allowed myself to feel gratitude for my wonderful friend who was getting this incredible adventure and chance of a lifetime.

Instead of jealousy, I felt joy for her.

I also felt proud that I hit the speed bump, did the work, and drove right over it.

It is something I preach to my clients as relapse is almost 100% and the skills that you learn in therapy will help you stop the speed bump from becoming a mountain.

I’m proud that I live by the words that I speak.

And, that jealousy is still alive and can remind me that we have a choice to be grateful or not.

I choose to be grateful.

 

 

 

Day 273 in Beijing: Freedom Chosen.

Jill and me at the Sultanate's Water Wheel in Malaysia.

Jill and me at the Sultanate’s Water Wheel in Malaysia.

Something I’ve been pondering lately is the meaning of freedom.

For many it is having the freedom to buy what you want, go where you want, and do what you want.

For me it is more ambiguous.

It is more a way of life and a way of thinking that allows me to have freedom.

The way I ended up coming to China is a perfect example.

As is my relationship with Jill.

As is my desire to be a minimalist in almost everything I do.

As is my way of being a therapist.

I attempt to be as efficient as possible.

Life is too short, in my humble opinion, not to be efficient and not to enjoy it.

That is how I define freedom.

I left my job in California with only a plan to travel the world.

I wanted to start in Mexico, then go south.

I’d jump over to Cuba, since I love Cuban culture, dancing and music.

Then I’m go over to Europe to see my friend, Isabel Oller in Spain, and visit other places and people.

Lastly, I was going to head over to Asia.

Since my brother lives in China, he knew some people and he thought I should send over my resume.

Plans changed immediately.

Freedom Chosen.

I was hired to come to Beijing and be a therapist at the most amazing company I’ve ever worked for at this point.

I also was waiting for the San Francisco Carnaval Parade 8 days before I left to see friends, salsa dance, and say goodbye to “mi familia” there.

I ran into the woman that would become my girlfriend, Jill Loeffler, and we spent the next 8 days together and she saw me off at the airport.

1.5 months later she arrived and we haven’t been apart for a day yet.

Freedom Chosen.

She had the freedom to do this because she quit her high-paying, and incredibly stressful job, about 3 years ago and has traveled and started her own websites.

She lived in Airbnb apartments for the past 2.5 years because she didn’t want to be tied down to a rental agreement and stuck in one place.

Freedom Chosen.

She has traveled to Mexico, Spain, Morocco, France, Turkey, Macedonia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Some of these were with me and most were on her own.

Freedom Chosen.

She moved to China and we’ve since traveled to Malaysia and Singapore.

We plan to do a train ride across the Silk Road and into Turkey this summer.

Freedom Chosen.

A very important ideal in my way of doing Behavioral Therapy is that regrets really aren’t useful in most cases.

They can be if they allow you to be more productive and keep you moving forward but I’ve found that the same results can usually be achieved from a much more positive outlook where cognitive distortions and negative self talk are minimized and questioned.

We both think in the same manner, although Jill has never done therapy, while I needed Behavioral Therapy to figure out my self.  I have helped Jill with some negative thoughts using a daily mood log and she figured it out as quickly as anyone I’ve ever met.  She lives in the present and doesn’t rely on the past to make her decisions for her.

Freedom chosen.

Because of our choices in life we have both found jobs, or made them ourselves, that allow us to live this style of life.

We chose not to have kids.

We chose not to have property.

We chose not to be tied down.

We chose not to live in the past or with regrets.

We chose not to worry about events we can’t control.

We chose not to worry about what most other people do.

We chose to live our lives, while treading softly on the Earth, as best we can.

We chose to live as examples of how two people can live, love and bring happiness to others that want to come along for the ride.

We choose Freedom.

Freedom Chosen.

 

 

Day 272 in Beijing: Air Quality, Workouts, and Half Marathons.

Just after my 4.1 mile run.  A beautiful day!

Just after my 6.59 kilometer run today. A beautiful day!

Well, I’ve decided it is time to set a new goal.

I’ve achieved being vegetarian since New Year’s Day.

I’ve achieved in not making political statements since New Year’s Day.

I’ve achieved in not making comments about other people’s beliefs since New Year’s Day.

How has this changed my life?

For the better.

Actually, for the best.

I’ve let go of things tend to cause division and upset and have figured out how to connect more deeply with the people that matter to me.

This has also allowed me to let go of the idea that my ideas are more correct, or valid, than others.

I have to listen much more deeply to the person who is speaking without planning what I will say in response to them.

It is acceptance of the place, time and space I am in with them.

This may seem like a strange segue to working out but it does make sense.

The air quality in Beijing is well known around the world for being horrible.

Strangely enough, there are many cities, outside of China, that are much worse but don’t seem to the as much play in the Western Media.  You can decide why this is and who benefits from this style of information.

I’d have to say that it isn’t nearly as bad as the media makes it out to be and, other than about 2 weeks this year, I haven’t really noticed it that much.

I’ve decided, that since the air quality seems reasonably decent, that I want to tackle a half marathon for my goal this year.

After I received my license to be a Marriage and Family Therapist, I decided to do one anxiety provoking event per year to help me understand, and empathize, with my clients that will trust me to help them overcome their anxiety.

My first year I went skydiving.

One year I wore 5 inch high heeled women’s shoes in a store in San Francisco.  This may sound strange but part of the exposure therapy technique I was learning was to do something that many people would find anxiety provoking.  I also asked to try on a dress.  The staff was actually very excited and happy about it and thought it would be cool.  I did live in San Francisco at the time so that may be one of the reasons that the attendants were so open-minded and fun.  By the way, I rocked those 5 inch heels and looked good!  A couple walked in and saw me and said, “You should get taper jeans to work with those shoes.  It would make you look even better.”  I consider it a rather impressive debut of me and my 5 inch heels.

That being said, I am amazed by anyone that can wear heels for an extended time.  I wore them for 5 minutes and I have a very slight hint of what they would do to my back, knees, and feet.

But I digress.

Last year I went swimming with sharks in the ocean.

I also moved to China without any real planning or idea of what I was getting into.

As Robert Frost wrote, “The best way out is always through.”

I tend to agree since the anxiety that we feel is actually just a lie our mind tells us and when we face it, it tends to disappear and be easily defeated.

I know this because I test it on myself and on my clients.

They always defeat it and are able to prove the little lies in their minds to be false.

I’ve decided that I will do a half marathon this year in Beijing to test myself.

This may not be as anxiety provoking as the other events I’ve tried but it is up there in regards to feeling like it will be difficult, how will I do, and will I do it well enough for my own ego.

I tend to be a pretty hard judge of myself and my workouts and I like to see progress.

This has actually been a downfall of mine in the past and that is part of the change I plan to introduce to my workouts.

I will continue to lift 3 days a week and run 3 days a week.

I’ve looked at decent half marathon plans and will download an app to help me keep track of them on my phone.

Planning is very important in reaching goals and I will do just that.

So, I’ll keep posting updates of my workouts and maybe pictures of how my body has changed in the upcoming months.

Meanwhile, I just ran 6.59 kilometers in 38 minutes this morning and it felt great.

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Day 266 in Beijing: No Longer Watching The World Go By.

Since New Year’s Day, I’ve made a lot of changes in my life.

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions because I believe that if you want to change something about yourself, don’t wait until a certain day or time. 

It just happened to fall into place when I visited a Buddhist temple that day with Jill and our friend Dipesh and listened to the chanting and realized how peaceful one can be if they put their mind towards that goal.

It is also a large part of acceptance in behavioral therapy that I’m very fond of using for myself and my clients.

One of the results is that I decided to become vegetarian. 

I did this for 6 months, once before, and loved it.

A little back history:  I was involved in a car crash when I was four years old and lost my sense of smell.

Since, like almost everyone else, your question will be, “But what is your sense of taste like?” I’ll answer it right now: I think I can taste at 50-60% of what is an average person’s sense of taste.

So, going vegetarian for me is quite easy: I”m not tempted by smells of yummy foods as I walk into restaurants. 

Also, I know bacon tastes great.  I just care more about the environment, the pain that pig goes through, and the waste that is produced by eating meat. 

Jill, my amazing girlfriend, also decided to jump on board and seems to enjoy the simplicity and ease of being vegetarian.  She was also horrified by the treatment of the animals and the waste that accompanies the mass production of meat in the world.

This is not a holier than thou post, by the way.  You can eat or do whatever you want.  I’m just simply explaining my actions.

I also have stopped talking about political ideals or ones relating to spirital or religious beliefs. 

They only serve to keep people apart and don’t help to build a community.

I’d rather live the way I live, see if people are interested, and then talk to them personally.

I’m one small guy in one large world.

And I’m cool with that.

Lastly, I’ve stopped reading most of the news out there.

I haven’t watched the new for the last 5 or so years becuase I feel it is basically a way to control people and make them fearful of their neighbors and keep them locked in their houses and afraid.

I’ve actually prescribed clients to stop watching the news if they are depressed or anxious.  It tends to have an amazing effect on their mood because they don’t have to worry about events that are beyond their control as much.

I have no interest in the negative news as I think most people are doing the best they can, and if you interact with them, they will show their humanity and care for their fellow human beings.

I continue to read some of the comments on my Facebook wall as they are posted by others, but I’ve cut that down to almost nothing at this point.

Rage, anger, disappointment, fear, distrust and other destructive emotions, as well as many of my automatic negative thoughts have disappeared along with the horrors of the world.

Maybe I’m hiding my head in the sand and using escapism but I don’t think I am.

I believe I’m making a change for the better, trusting in my own ability to make friends, be a good person, and that it will be returned.

If you know me, you know that I tend not to focus on the past.

I don’t blame my parents, upbringing, or society for my choices. 

I can’t think of one person that has taken advantage or intentionally tried to hurt me.

The only times bad events have happened to me is when I let my ego get in the way and jealous, greed or other emotions like those aren’t kept in check by me.

And me alone.

I make the choices that define me.

I am grateful for the freedom to be me.

 

 

Day 254 in Beijing: Happy Valentine’s Day!

This is the first Valentine’s Day with my darling, Jill.

We will be spending it, somewhere, in Beijing.

It will a Friday night here, and a day before you experience it, so we will probably go out to dinner, hang out with some friends, and just see what the day brings us.

I work on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays so we will have the whole day to relax, lounge around, and just kick back.

I used to be a pretty reactive and emotional guy.

I dealt with my own depression and anxiety for many years.

I then learned about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and found that both depression and anxiety are primarily lies that I’m telling myself about me.

They are either cognitive distortions or just flat out mistaken beliefs that perpetuate the problems that I’m causing.

It really did come down to the fact that I’m making my own problems and causing them to occur each and every time I had a thought, had a feeling, or did an action.

The joy of this realization is that it also gives me the ability to change all of the beliefs, emotions and actions that I take and become a truly happy and content person.

I think back to the years of pain and anguish I felt and wonder what would have happened if I had learned about this therapy, and began practicing it with my clients, when I was 20 years old or younger.

I know it doesn’t really matter because one can’t change the past and yet I think that is one of the reasons that I practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy now: It can cure issues very quickly and is far better than any other therapy out there as shown by any evidence-based studies.

The pain you, or someone you know, is going through can be reduced immensely and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or “soul searching.”

Freedom to live your life is in your hands at this very moment.

The question is, “Will you take it?”

I did and I am glad I choose never to go back to those patterns again.

My parents, my society, and my peer group no longer defines what I do.  It is up to me to live the life I want and no make excuses for my thoughts, emotions or behaviors.

This is where Valentine’s Day fits in.

I met Jill 8 days before I left for China.

We met at the San Francisco Carnaval parade.

We spent the next 8 days together and I invited her to come with me to China.

She had been living in Airbnb apartments for the last 2.5 years, and, when her agreement ran out, she came over.

That was 6.5 months ago.

We both take responsibility for our actions, thoughts and behaviors and try to treat each other as well as possible.  There is almost no drama or disagreements because we are open, fair and try to anticipate what the other wants and we make sure each person has their needs met to the best of our abilities.

The way I see it is if we can make it, living in Beijing, and building a brand new life here, everything else will be a breeze.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my darling Jill!

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Day 242 in Beijing: Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, Part 2

My favorite of all the pictures.  Jill did an amazing job as the photographer to catch the moment!

My favorite of all the pictures. Jill did an amazing job as the photographer to catch the moment!

Jill and I enjoyed the bird park so much that we ended up taking a lot more pictures than we thought we would.

So, in hopes that my dear readers enjoy birds, and photography, as much as we do, I wrote a second blog post with more pictures.

These are mostly of the enclosed area where the lorries hang out and we were able to pay 2RM (about 70 US cents) to feed them and have them land us.

It was a bit scary at first to have all these birds flying straight at us but after a few seconds, it was just fun and exciting.  Jill was pretty nervous about the birds landing on her and I asked her to try it and just see how it would go (I did it first so she could see it wouldn’t be painful or dangerous) and she loved it.

Something I truly love about Jill is that she is willing to take on things that cause her fear and anxiety and do, as we call it in behavioral therapy, “Exposure therapy” where one exposes themselves to the fearful, or anxiety causing, event and then realizes, very quickly, that the anxiety was just a lie and they can master it.

Jill is incredibly courageous and has yet to turn down an exposure therapy when we travel.  Again, I make sure to do whatever she is afraid of first, and I make sure to do things that terrify me so that I can get over my fears and anxieties since they are not based in evidence or reality.  Swimming with sharks on this trip is a perfectly example of that.  So was skydiving a few years ago.  For almost all of us, we are amazing safe and protected.  We just interpret things incorrectly and get anxious instead of working through them and becoming stronger as we master the event.

As Robert Frost wrote, “The best way out is always through.”

 

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Day 239 in Beijing: Pondering the Past, Present and Future.

Jill and me at the Forbidden City.

Jill and me at the Forbidden City.

Chinese New Year is tonight.

I sit and ponder what culture, family, and happiness is today.

I look to the past and see how different we are compared to when extended families were the norm and most people lived with 3 or possibly 4 generations under the same roof.  In the West, this is pretty rare but, in China, this still occurs.

Then again, in China, there are kids living with their grandparents, and parents having to live hundreds, and possibly thousands, of miles away, to make ends meet.

As I sit in Beijing, with Jill, and we are getting ready to go out to a hotel and watch hours of fireworks and firecrackers (Beijing’s Chinese New Year’s fireworks are the world’s largest unorganized fireworks display every year) I realize how lucky I am.  In fact, at 8 am the day of Chinese New Year’s, as I’m writing this, firecrackers are already going off.

This will last for 10 days straight.  I has been recommended by friends that live in Beijing that we would be smart to buy earplugs so we can sleep.

My life, in almost every way, is exactly the life I want to live.  The only problematic issue is being apart from my family and friends back home.  This becomes quite obvious when someone passes away or a wonderful occurrence happens like a wedding that I will miss because of the distance.

Jill’s grandmother died this week, at the age of 97.  She wasn’t able to go home because of the long flights, then long drives, and the timing of everything.  So we celebrated Grandma Helen with a few of other dear friends and talked about her life.

I believe that this way of  of “family” that expatriates learn to accept and master if they want to stay stable and content living far from people they love.

Some people don’t like being this far from their “family” and yet others love it.

Living in Beijing, I’ve found a new definition to what is “My family.”

That is all there is, in a way, yet there is so much more.  My family includes my father, Michael, my mother, Judy, my sister Stacy, and my brothers, Robert and David.

If you extend it a little farther it also includes my step-father, Phillip and his son, Kody.

If you then extend it farther it includes my aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, brother in laws, sister in laws and other people that continue outward into the human race.

Do I include my friends?

Do I include my enemies?

Do I include people I have never met?

Do I include people that I will never meet?

I think of the Buddhist belief that we are all tied together and there is no self in regards to caring about, and connecting with, others.

There is a classic saying “. . .that if a butterfly chances to flap his wings in Beijing in March, then, by August, hurricane patterns in the Atlantic will be completely different.”

Strangely enough this is often mistaken for Buddhist lore but it was stated by an MIT meteorologist named Edward Lorenz in 1906.

I love how science and Buddhism are like cousins, far removed from each other, but actually closely intertwined.

Most of us, at least in the Western World, think of ourselves as more individual and fairly limited to a family connection.  I would suggest otherwise.  I believe that we are all connected.  If you trace my DNA and your DNA back to a certain point, we most likely all merge at some place.

According to the story of Adam and Eve, all humanity descends from two people.  Other religions have similar ideas.

As we progress scientifically, I am interested to see what science finds out about our genetics and our connections to each other.

I think that is why I’m so fascinated by Buddhist belief and the style of thinking that the Dalai Lama uses.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “If Buddhism has a belief that science is not able to prove incorrect, then we should believe it.  However, if Buddhism has a belief, and science does prove it incorrect, we must discard it and take on a new belief.”

As noted before, I work as a behavioral therapist.  This belief is one of the reasons that behavioral therapy is so useful to my clients.

I also use behavioral therapy on myself for the same reason.  One of the tenets I learned from David Burns, MD, and my supervisor Brac Selph, PhD, was that I had to go through all of the interventions that I would ask my clients to go through.

I would learn more empathy for them and understanding of what they are trying to achieve and how hard it is.  I have done, and continue to do this, and I find more evidence, each time, for the method I use and the responses my clients get to heal themselves with an amazing amount joy.

I look at my past and wonder how much easier life would be if I could just learn, adapt and discard illogical, useless and harmful information and feelings instead of holding onto them and causing damage to myself, others and the universe.

I am doing that more and more each day and can quantify exactly how much better my life is now.

I welcome you to do the same on this, the first day of the Chinese New Year and Year of the Horse.

Day 232 in Beijing: New Year’s Day.

I apologize for jumping around regarding dates, times and locations of my blog posts.

I tend to write my blogs about a week or two in advance because I don’t want to miss any days.

Being that I have a full time job and a full time life, if I wrote each blog, each day, I’d fall behind and forget what the heck I had written about, want to write about and will write about.

I’d also have stacks and stacks of photos sitting in my folders and unused because I don’t have the time to edit them in that moment.

This is especially true when I go on vacation or travel.

Lastly, the internet connections are not always reliable so it also interferes with my ability to do timely blog posts.

Therefore, this is a blog post about how I spent my New Year’s Day evening.

As you know, we celebrated New Year’s Eve in Singapore watching the fireworks down by the Marina Float with about 200,000 of our “closest” friends.  There was an 8 minute fireworks display and I’ve now seen NYE fireworks in the USA, Australia, Japan, and Malaysia.  I will see the Chinese New Year’s fireworks in just week from now in Beijing.  I’m looking forward to it although I’m a bit apprehensive of the 10 days of sleepless nights when fireworks are continually exploding all around the city.

Jill and I were wandering around Singapore on New Year’s Day and just relaxing.

We had spotted the Thekchen Choling Buddhist Temple about two blocks away from our hotel and since we were visiting temples, mosques and churches on this visit, we decided to stop by and see what was happening.

Luckily enough, they were having a special chanting session since it was the start of the lunar new year that day!

Jill, being the person she is, had people walk up to her and start talking to her as we waited.  A few people talked to me also but I was sitting on the men’s side of the aisle while she was closer to the door and sitting on the women’s side of the aisle.

As I was talking to someone, Lama Thubten Namdrol Dorje Tulku walked up beside Jill and talked to her for a few moments.  He then handed her a book that he had written.  He had just returned from learning with His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama and had a feeling of such calm and peace that it emanated from him.

The book, Direct Expressions, is wonderful.  I read it on our bus ride up to Melaka a few days later.  I highly recommend it as it is based in mindfulness and caring for your fellow human being and, in what seems to be part of the Buddhist tradition, very humorous and jovial terms of language and belief.  It also shows great respect for the beliefs and traditions of Buddhist life.

One man started playing a drum and ringing a bell to announce the start of the chanting. People that had been wearing shorts and tshirts just a few minutes before, appeared in gorgeous black or orange robes and sat down in the chairs around us.

Here is a quick video of the call to chant:

The chanting started and the Lama sat by the drum.  He looked around a few times and as he rose to move to a different position I saw him smile.  He seems to be a genuinely happy person.

One reason I’m interested in Buddhism is that behavioral therapy has recently been adapting Buddhist ideology into its practice.  This is where the idea of acceptance and choice is so apparent in the work that I do with my clients and the work I do on myself:  I can choose to make a change, which will cause suffering of one type, or stay the same, which will cause suffering of another type.

If I choose to stay the same, I accept that I am making this choice and try to do so without regret, guilt or other emotions that would cause negative reactions.  Or, if those emotions appear, notice them, welcome them and then let them go and continue on my way.

I mention that either changing or not changing will cause suffering because to live is to suffer.

This may sound like a terrible idea but it is actually quite freeing.  I know that I will suffer, and the suffering will end, so I can use that to continue, move through the suffering, and know that suffering will come again and be ready for the experience.

I love my mom.  However, when she dies, I will suffer.  I will suffer for the things unsaid, the things said and everything in between.  This is life.  I can do the most I can to make sure she knows I love her (and I know she’s reading this blog so I know she will see this) but there is only so much.  Life is impermanent and so the ability to cherish what we have now, in the present, and let go of the past and fears of the future, allow us to be truly alive.

The ability to live in the now is all we truly have because we can die at any moment.  Again, this can be a terrifying reality or it can be an enlivening one.  I choose to be excited by this belief because this means I can cherish, and relish, each and every moment I’m alive.  I live with the feeling of joy and excitement at what each day will bring and where I will go.

As the chanting continued, the kind man sitting next to me kept showing me the words, in Chinese and and in English, that they were chanting but since I don’t speak Chinese I didn’t understand them and just listened and tried to take in the feeling of calm and comfort.

We stayed for about half of the chanting and then quietly got up and left.  I felt some guilt at leaving because it seemed to be so relaxing and generous of them to welcome us.  However, I realized this was just an emotion and I had enjoyed my time, and hoped that the people with me had enjoyed theirs, and that was how life continues to be.

I’ve posted two videos of the chanting.  The first is in normal speed and the second goes into double time:

and later the chants are done in double time:

 

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Day 231 in Beijing: The Gift of Therapy.

Welcome and be happy.

Welcome. Smiles await you.

I received my undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of New Mexico in 1996 at the age of 26.  I then traveled and took the path less chosen for a number of years. I returned to school in 2003, graduating with my M.A. in Counseling Psychology, in 2006.

I have worked as a therapist/social worker for the last 8 years. I learned to help people heal as they figure out their best path in life.

How many of us even know what is the best for us in any given moment?

I’m not sure much of what is best for me most of the time.

I have taught myself to trust a combination of using gut instincts, behavioral therapy skills I’ve learned to process experiences, and advice from trusted family and friends.

What I’ve learned from my job is that I trust that people, with my guidance, have a better sense regarding what is the right choice for them.

I can support and give insight by helping show people what I’ve learned, mastered and continue to study through the years.

Perhaps the safety people feel when someone isn’t perfect, or admits that they too are growing each day, allows them to create plans unlike any I could have imagined for them.

It is a wonder to see how their minds work. I love watching people grow and learn about themselves.

As mentioned before, I do cause most of my own problems and pain.  However, I’ve also come to realize that, when I own my choices, people react in ways that surprise me. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  It depends on their view of the world and their place in it.

The old saying, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime” makes sense to me.  It is also how I work as a therapist.  I can guide and teach a client but they have to help himself to learn the skills so they can continue down their own path, confident in his own abilities.

This insight about owning my life and letting others own theirs allows me to see when it is someone else’s issue.

This gives me greater confidence and trust. I can look at the issue more objectively, without anger, and decide if I want to put any energy into it or the person.

I’m content with who I am and how I deal with others. The people I care about seem to feel the same way towards me.  This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop striving to learn, advance, and grow. I’m just going to do it with a stronger sense of self. This means, I can take ownership of my mistakes and let others do the same. I don’t need to carry what is theirs.

Thoughts to ponder:

1. How can I take responsibility for my actions while still being able to see when it is the other person’s issue?

2. How has my thinking changed since 5 years ago about self/other blame and judgment?

3. How would I like to be able to think about self/other blame and judgment in 5 years?

4. When someone criticizes me, what steps can I take to think logically about their points and decide whether or not they are accurate in my own world view?

5. When you were a kid, what belief system did you learn, through watching others?

6. Does it still work for you or have you changed it and how?

7. What would you like to change about your belief system today?

8. What do you imagine your belief system will be 10 years from now?

Day 228 in Beijing: Linear and Circular Spectrum.

Make your choice and see what you can become.  The options are endless.

Make your choice and see what you can become. The options are endless.

I am often asked by people about how to be happy in their job, their relationships and their life.

My belief system is grounded in behavioral therapy and has been further adapted to include other methodologies and mindfulness.

This does not mean it has a religious or spiritual belief behind it but that each moment is impermanent and we have a choice to live our lives, by choosing our thoughts and behaviors, which affect our emotions, each nanosecond that we live on this planet.

I used to search for jobs, friendships and relationships that would be “the one.”  The more I looked, the more I found that no matter how much I believe one job is better than another, one person is better than another or that “this new thing” will allow me to be happy, I was incorrect.  My hypothesis was that something else would make me happy when I wasn’t willing to do the hard work to re-frame my automatic negative thoughts and my biases to the outside world.  I wanted everyone else to change instead of realizing that it is my fault, in a very positive way, for each and every interaction that I have and what the outcome will be to that interaction.

We all have this ability to be exactly who we are and what we are right now.

We are that job we don’t like, which is a job someone else would love to have.

We are that person we hate, who is that person someone else would love to love.

We are all those things that we despise.

I was the thing I despised because of my ego and my insecurities.

In the end, we may just be specks of dust and atoms that scatter back into the universe.

This is exceptionally freeing to me because that means I can live my life with less regret and less pressure to have to “be something” or “prove something” that doesn’t really count in the long term.

This allows me to take on as many roles, and personalities, as I want and make changes whenever I choose to make them.

Many people I know see their life or their life choices as a linear spectrum.

They see it as a flat line that goes in one direction.

There is good on one end and bad on the other.

I prefer to take the ends of those lines and bend it into a circle.  I see it as those ends are not the opposite.  They are actually very close together and can oftentimes be interchanged.

I’m not saying that every US president is the same but, in many ways, they are probably not that different when you look at it:  both human, both “male”, both work in politics, both think they are doing the right thing, both believe they are chosen to lead, etc.

I recently went swimming with sharks in Malaysia.  Some were about 3 feet long and I was right beside them without any protection.  I also went skydiving after I received my Marriage and Family Therapist License as a way to prove to myself that fear and anxiety are lies and I have a choice to overcome what I choose to overcome.  I continue to do that every second of my life and love how my mind and body respond to the mastery of a new skill.

I feel it is my responsibility to take the positive in me and let it flow into what I do.  If I don’t, I then encourage negative energy from other people to build and take control of my life.

I encourage you, in your own way and style, to be willing to feel the fear in new adventures, to make mistakes, and to revel in the changes that result.