THIS is who you are.

Lightbulb.jpg

No, we are not meant to fit into a common life template. By that, I mean going through the motions of routine and responsibilities that have to be taken care of, while neglecting the part of you that reflects the very soul of who you are—your creativity.  In ancient times, creativity was viewed as a gift from God. It is what sets you apart from others and deserves its unique expression. If you like to draw, for example, you must draw. If you like to bake, then bake up a storm. If you like fashion, then dress to the nines.  Do you feel the music? Make time in your day to sing, or play your instrument! Write that book. Make those flower arrangements. Dance? Choreograph your own steps and just blast the music!

At the top of the renowned Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the human drive towards “self-actualization” –that point at which, once our basic needs are met we work on personal growth–we gravitate towards truth (including the truth of who we are), beauty, spontaneity, spirituality, and creativity. We are in the process of becoming all that our potential allows. We cannot do this if we are always living our life inside the box—confined by the rules and routines that we must abide by, without also taking the time for self -expression.

Don’t stifle your creativity because you don’t have time to express it. Make the time; just as you would for any other priority in your life. Your creative expression—or that unique “gift from God” is which is also imperative for your personal growth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Yourself Be In The Moment

IMG_2005.JPG
Nonna to Grandson: Wow, how did you make that hole-in-one? I wanna make one, too! Did you think about a straight path from the ball to the hole, or the distance or the speed of the ball?
Grandson to Nonna: No,nonna; You don’t think about it; you just hit it!
Moral of the Story: We don’t have to sacrifice spontaneity to overthinking and calculation. Just being in the moment is often the most joyful moment of all. Nice going, Brendan! xoxox #fromthemouthsofbabes

3 Steps to Mastering Your Life

Master

 

I am thinking about a passage I once read in a book by Italian psychiatrist Raffaele Morelli, called: “La Felicita’ e’ Qui” (happiness is here). He described the qualities of a real “maestro”, or teacher.   A master of agriculture, for example, is not necessarily one who has studied for a degree in the field, but rather someone who has been a lifelong farmer—one who knows the soil, the climate, the seed, the fertilizer, and the conditions that help and hinder the crops. Moreover, a real master has no expectations, after doing all of the groundwork. For example he/she can hope that the crops will grow and flourish, but unforeseen conditions could arise that foil even the best of preparations. Thus, a real master is prepared to accept the reality of the outcome, knowing that there are always elements we have no control over. A real master exudes serenity and inner strength. We can all be “masters” of our own life and here are three suggestions for doing that:

  1. Work hard for your desired outcome; then
  2. Accept whatever happens with grace and dignity, knowing you did all you can.
  3. If the outcome was desirable, give thanks. If undesirable, learn to distinguish if you could improve your efforts, or if it makes more sense to let go and move on.

 

Copyright 2019 Raeleen Mautner, Ph.D.

 

Walk Forward into Positivity

Sadness, regret, mistakes, failures–they are all part of being human. But so is the human capacity to use our past experiences to gain insight, learn to do better, and recognize our inner resilience. Let your heart be light as you move step by step into a new day of peace, tranquility, and self-confidence. #LetGoOfNegativity

How to Make Positive Affirmations Work for YOU

brain

There are plenty of books and recordings of “positive affirmations”; but the ones that have the best chance of working in your favor, are the affirmations that are specific to YOU. The brain has a filtering system that shuts out the unimportant “white noise” and helps you focus on what you need to pay attention to.  That is why when you are at a noisy party, someone on the other side of the room can say your name and it will grab your attention above any of the other words that are floating through the air.

In this world of busy-ness, multi-tasking and fulfilling our roles and responsibilities, it is easy to lose sight of our hopes, dreams and goals—because we don’t seem to have time to reflect and refine them.

Here is one way to turn that around; and a method that I have used myself for many years.  It’s called “self-talk”,  and I have written about it in my books. Self-talk directs our focus, and it can either destroy our confidence or become the fuel that feeds our success. One way to make your self-talk work for—and not against—you, is  by creating 3 of your own positiveaffirmations. Yes, affirmations really do work.  Write down the one-sentence descriptions of what you would like to be yourreality, and read/recite them to yourself at least twice a day.  Phrase affirmations as if they have already come to be, (e.g. I eat only foods that keep my body strong; I attract wonderful friends that love and care about me; I am doing work that I am passionate about;  etc—whatever is most important to you) and your brain will come to your aid by helping you to notice information and opportunities that will keep you on track towards achieving your desires.

COMING IN NOVEMBER: PROJECT HAPPINESS: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO EVERYDAY CONTENTMENT ( Linden Publishers)

 

The DARKER side of Social Media

Cruise

Last night I had the most FABULOUS date! He was a true gentleman. He opened doors, pulled out my chair at the 5-star restaurant he took me to, spoke intelligently, and had really good hygiene, to boot!  We talked about going on a luxury cruise together, and maybe doing some traveling around the world. Luckily I have been working out like crazy and using a new miracle wrinkle cream so the pounds–and wrinkles—have become a thing of the past!

Well I have to cut this post short because it is time for my laughing-yoga-with-a-goat session, and then on to my wild greens lunch—which I foraged myself alla Euell Gibbons.

OH WAIT—none of that is exactly true! Or rather a few major details might have been left out. Such as I get extremely seasick and would rather camp out in the wild (my LEAST favorite activity in the world) than ever get on a boat again. The last Mr. Clean-cut Gentleman, showed up in cargo shorts, flip flops, dirty fingernails and took me to a dimly lit bar where the beers were on sale. And I buy my greens at the local health food store.

Oh, and this photo? It’s not really of me (surprise!) and I haven’t found that perfect miracle diet or wrinkle cream yet—because THEY DON’T EXIST!

Friends, there is a phenomenon called “Facebook Depression”, although it can be generalized to all social network site usage. I recently came across a fascinating article published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, where researchers did a meta-analysis of all articles published on the connection between a negative mood and social media exposure. They looked at time spent on social media sites; frequency of checking social media sites, and social comparison, a theory put forth in 1954 by social psychologist Leon Festinger. Social Comparison Theory says that we humans have an innate drive to evaluate ourselves based on a comparison with others. Of course there is a lot more to this theory, but the interesting finding the present study, was that “upward” social comparison had the greatest effect on producing a negative mood—even more so than generally comparing our lives to social media posts, the amount of timewe spend on social media, or the frequencywith which we check our social media throughout the day.

In other words—when we read a post like the one I began with, and then compare the reality of our own NORMAL lives to posts that make it appear there really issuch a thing as the PERFECT life—we are more like to get depressed.

The solution is not to swear off of social media—in fact, social media sites do a lot of good when used consciously. We can learn things, get ideas, stay in touch with friends and family we normally wouldn’t see in person that often, and even share announcements that others might be interested in.  However, when it comes to posts that push the FANTASY of a perfect life—don’t buy it, and don’t allow yourself to compare your own life to those posts. Most people DON’T post the things that go wrong in a normal human life—and we ALL have various ups and downs; challenges and victories. The key is to cherish our OWN beautifully imperfect lives, each and every day. The very fact that we are here, alive, and in full human attire—is perhaps the finest gift of all.

Reference:

Yoon, S., Kleinman, M., Mertz, J. & Brannick, M. (2019). Is social network site usage related to depression? A Meta-analysis of Facebook-depression relations. Journal of Affective Disorders, v.248, pp.65-72.

MY UPCOMING BOOK “AGING HAPPY” IS AVAILABLE NOW FOR PRE-ORDER ON AMAZON.COM.

Don’t Spend Your Money on Ageism

Old bench
Ever notice how birthday greeting cards for young people offer encouragement and congratulations, while greeting cards–and even party favors– for older adults, in an attempt to be humorous, play into seemingly light-hearted–yet far from innocuous– AGEIST stereotypes?
Here is a reason to boycott products that poke fun of baby boomers as being “over-the-hill”, riddled with physical decline,sagging body parts, lack of bladder control , etc.
These ageist messages not only reinforce how society should think and relate to those who are over 50, but there is also research indicating they can have a harmful emotional–and physical– effect on older adults themselves, who eventually will begin to believe and act upon these false and negative assumptions about how “dreadful” it is to grow older.
DON’T SPEND YOUR MONEY IN SUPPORT OF AGEISM. When purchasing birthday cards or buying party favors–or even wishing someone a happy birthday –make sure you are sending a message that reflects how valued that person is, and how fabulous it is that they are on this earth, and still making a positive difference in the world.

Will Being RICH Make you Happy? YES (but it’s not what you think)

Happiness is often defined as “psychological health”. Sometimes we use the term well-being, or life satisfaction, but no matter how we define it, we always give a great deal of weight to our subjective perception of happiness (i.e. if you feel you are happy, then you probably are).

But what is the science behind happiness, and why are some people happy even in the worst of circumstances, while others find something to complain about even in the best of circumstances?

Researchers have long debated the nature vs nurture influences on happiness. The question of how much our genes determine our tendency to be happy will probably never be resolved, nor will the question of how much our surrounding environment plays a part. The important thing to remember, however, is that, no matter how powerful the heritability factor—which is beyond our control– there are things we can control to to stack the cards in our favor.

One way to do this is to become RICH. But I’m not talking about needing a millionaire’s portfolio.

When I was a graduate student, one of the most fascinating lectures I attended was given by Dr. Thomas Kehle of the University of Connecticut. His theory was that happy individuals shared four common characteristics that could be boiled down to the acronym R.I.C.H. . These characteristics are not totally exclusive from one another. To the contrary, they are interrelated; and if you work on improving any one of these characteristics, the other three will also improve!

The R.I.C.H. Model of Happiness

R = Resources; Having the right resources will give you a sense of freedom to do the things you need to do in daily life. Resources might include the allocation of time and money to maintaining friendships, establishing competence, and nurturing your physical health.

I= Intimacy. Friendship is specifically emphasized in this category, but intimacy may also include a romantic relationship, or even the kind of close bond that exists between you and your pet.

C=Competence. We all need develop and use our abilities—whatever they are—to achieve an adequate amount of resources, intimacy and physical health

H-Health. We have a greater chance of remaining healthy when we are aware of what to do to take care of our body and mind, and following through with those behaviors, which will help us feel independent, enjoy intimacy, and feel competent.

Remember, if you pick just one of these to start working on, you will improve the other three by default. So why wait?

Improving your resources might involve establishing a budget and paying off debt; or it might include keeping a time planner to organize your time to make more room for friends.

If you are lonely, you may be able to increase your intimacy factor by joining groups that are aligned with your interests; going to lecture discussion gathering, participating in a book club, or adopting a pet.

If you feel you are not living up to your full competence and abilities, perhaps taking an adult education class to improve on your skills or interests may get you to the next level.

Finally as my grandmother—and probably yours too– used to say,“Without your health you have nothing”. Don’t put off those regular medical checkups. Refine your diet to cut the junk foods, fast foods, and sugary foods that lead to disease. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity into each day. Your mind will make up a million excuses not to walk, dance, do that exercise video, or march in place during TV commercials. OVERRIDE that negative talk and get healthy.

Get happy.

Get R.I.C.H.

Please “like” and share this article (citing with original source) with anyone who could use a happiness template.

Let’s start a conversation! How do YOU work on your resources, intimacy, health and personal competence?

Reference

Kehle, Thomas J., & Bray, Melissa A. (2004). Rich Theory: The promotion of happiness. Psychology in the Schools vol. 41(1) 2004 pp43-49.

©Raeleen Mautner, LLC

Do You Use Make-Up to Enhance Or Hide?

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

Back in the late 60’s, my M.O. included large hoop earrings, ironed hair, and a splash of Oh de London, before leaving the house with my transistor radio to do the beach strut. I thought I looked pretty dam good. That is, until one particular girl –Yvonne–caused all the boys in our summer neighborhood fall all over themselves whenever she walked by. What the heck did she have that I didn’t? Well, frankly quite a bit, but what it really boiled down to was her— LIPSTICK. Yes, it was the lightest of pink, almost pearlescent. And rumor had it, that it was peppermint! , I never heard one comment about her knockout bikini figure, her large, hypnotic eyes, or her gorgeous dark curly hair. NO. It was all about that lipstick. Not that any of the boys had actually kissed her but that little tube of tint had the capacity to make every boy at least dream of what it would be like to steal a kiss from the alluring girl with peppermint- coated lips.

That was my first observation about the power of makeup to create a perception of beauty— dating back the time of Cleopatra, who was adored for her intriguing painted eyes, long blackened eyelashes, and rose colored lips and cheeks (made possible by red ochre, a type of iron-enriched clay).

The majority of research studies support the fact that women who use makeup are perceived to be more attractive than those who don’t. In one study, women were professionally made up with customized products and application thought to best enhance the specific individual’s features. Then the “judges”, male and female, would look at the same woman’s face in 5 conditions: a) no makeup; b) foundation only; c) eye make-up only, d) lipstick only; and e) full facial make-up (with all of the above). Female judges thought the eye makeup alone condition was most attractive, while the male judges rated eye makeup and foundation to be the most attractive. None of the judges chose the “no makeup” condition as being most attractive.

Personally, I enjoy the “artistry” involved in using makeup, although the older I get the less I use. I have no desire to morph into a “whatever happened to Baby Jane” version of myself; but I do think a little color here and there enhances my current-aged self. Self-adornment can be a reflection of self-respect, although many women bypass make up altogether—and there is no problem whatsoever with their self-esteem. Some older women, however, feel they MUST use makeup or cosmetic procedures to hide their age, because of the consequences of living in a youth-worshiping culture, where they may face age discrimination on the job, or become “invisible” when trying to relate to others.

In fact when women 50-70 years old were interviewed about their reasons for engaging in “beauty work”, to enhance their appearance (e.g., hair dye, makeup, cosmetic surgery, and non-surgical procedures); their explanations included the following:

  • To fight against the invisibility of aging
  • It was part of a lifelong investment in one’s appearance
  • Desire to attract a romantic partner.
  • Because of employment-related ageism.

If you are among those who use makeup to hide your age, because you are either ashamed of the physical changes of growing older, or fear the societal consequences of being perceived as “old”, let me reassure you, you are not alone. But you alone do have the power to turn others’ perceptions around.  You can start by improving your own body image, and acknowledging your ageless beauty. Have fun with makeup if that is your thing. Wear clothes that make you feel great. Stand up tall and proud. Respect yourself and believe in your unique contribution to this world. And only after all of the above– if you feel like buying a tube of peppermint pink lipstick–You go for it 🙂

Do you enjoy or avoid using makeup? I’d love to read your thoughts, so do leave a comment below! 

References:

Clarke L.H., & Griffin M. (2008). Visible and invisible ageing: beauty work as a response to ageism. Ageing & Society (28). 653-674.

Indianpublicmedia.org “Did Cleopatra Wear Makeup?”

Mulhurn et. al. (2003) Do cosmetics enhance female Caucasian facial attractiveness? International Journal of Cosmetic Science (25) 199-205

 

© Raeleen Mautner, LLC

“Everyone Gets to Be Young. Your Turn is Over.”

My mother (the avid card-sender) and grandmother

My mother would send a greeting card almost every day. We would even go to a special store where she would get her Italian language cards for someone’s onomastico (name day, which coincided with the Saint everyone (except for me apparently), was named for), birthday cards galore, Holy Day of Obligation cards, holidays and everything in between. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree but in my case it must have fallen into the yard in another part of the country. I don’t send greeting cards. Will I call someone, or send an email to wish him or her a Happy Whatever? Yes. I know, I know, it’s not the same, but the good thing about growing older, is that we have earned the right to be who we are; whether we are card senders or not.

The other day, however, I decided to “turn over a new card-sending leaf”. A friend of mine was about to turn 60. Yes, dammit, I will send a card. And so begins the search.

“Everyone Gets to Be Young. Your Turn is Over” sounds like it could be a line from the 70’s Sci Fi movie, Logan’s Run, where everyone lived under a pleasure-perfect dome—that is until they turned 30, at which time they were to be annihilated, to keep from growing old.   But No. The above “greeting”, and hence the title of this post comes straight from a greeting card! Ehm…Was that supposed to be an uplifting message?

And so I looked further:

After a certain age, your body is like a garage sale—Some stuff looks old, some stuff doesn’t’ work, and some stuff you can’t identify.

60 year olds like to nap, stay warm, and have things done for them—so basically you turn into a cat. 

(Picture of a donkey with sunglasses)—Your ass looks good—for 60

Psychologists say you go through 7 stages of adjustment when you turn 50—Denial, Denial, Denial, Denial, Denial, Denial, Denial.

Don’t sweat being 50—nobody likes a sweaty senior citizen

Now I have a sense of humor that rivals the best of them, but as I looked at these cards I wondered what vile undercurrent these messages were really sending to older adults in our society. If you substitute any other “ism” for the ageism in those sayings, you would be horrified, I’m sure. Can you image a card that says “Don’t sweat being _______ (a woman, black, Italian, blind, gay, etc.)—-nobody likes a sweaty ———-?

Having spent a good part of my career investigating the effects of stereotyping on both the people being stereotyped and the ways peoples attitudes toward the stereotyped are formed—I say we stop with the “senior moment” jokes, implying that older people can’t remember things (I don’t know about you but I have been losing my car keys from the time I graduated high school), and stop spending our bank accounts on “anti-aging” potions that make aging seem like a dreadful disease to be stomped out. It isn’t. It is a natural privilege that not everyone (certainly not my late husband) gets to enjoy. But you and I do! And that is why the ageist buck must stop with us.

So I bypassed those cards. In fact, I almost decided to go back to my old ways and not send a damn card at all.

Until…

Happy Birthday!

            Here’s to aging

            Here’s to wrinkles

            Here’s to laughing

Till we twinkles (all right, somewhat corny, but so what)

Here’s to the one’s who see us through

            Here’s to birthdays

            Here’s to YOU.

Well hallelujah.  And that is the one I sent.

To all of my Readers, for whatever the occasion– Here’s to YOU!

© Raeleen Mautner, LLC