Ruth Landstrom,Ph.D.                                                                                                                         

March 2008                                            Volume 2, Number 2

Time to pause again and put down that Blackberry.   Just breathe for a minute.  Feel your feet on the floor.  Notice what's inside you and what's around you, what you can see, what you can hear, what you can feel.   Notice how the world constantly comes in, shaping your body, rerouting your mind, and sparking your emotions. 


What About the Other 5,999,999,999?

There are about six billion people on the planet.  But each of us tends to think of our self as central, and all 5,999,999,999 others as just a little bit peripheral.   Our feelings - both pleasant and painful - feel more important simply because they are ours.

How much, really, do you care if somebody else is having a bad hair day?   But I bet you know what it is to be self conscious about your own appearance.  How much do you care if somebody else makes a big gaffe, or feels moody, or wins the lottery?   But chances are, you know what it is to be mortified because you made a mistake, or desperate because you can't seem to get out of a bad mood, or thrilled because you won the prize.

What if we could see the shocking truth that everybody else is just as important, cosmically speaking, as we are?  

 Dropping Our Self-centered Bias

The paradox is that when we correct our me-first bias and turn our attention outward to others, our own happiness grows.  This is not only the teaching of countless religions, but a finding supported by psychological research. 

What if we could be just as happy for others as we are for ourselves?   Wouldn't there be a lot more happiness in our lives? 

Or do you single yourself out for self-flagellation?   Are you one of those who wouldn't dream of being as hard on others as you are on yourself?  Many people shower themselves with negative attention, in the belief that they must pay attention to their flaws in order to fix them. 

But the path of self-criticism just leads to a habit of self-criticism, which is, yes, another form of self-centeredness.   

What if you could forgive yourself for your many flaws, just as easily as you forgive your friends?   What if you could relax your vigilant self-judgment?  Wouldn't you be able to pay more attention to others?  Maybe even relax and enjoy the rest of the world for a change? 

What if we could all surprise ourselves (and others!) by putting down our "stuff" for awhile and trying out someone else's point of view?  Wouldn't we make room for others to try something new too?  



Day to Day

The other day, I had a mix-up with a friend.  She thought I was going to pick up her daughter, and I assumed I wasn't.  I'd thought about double-checking, but didn't.  This is the kind of passing, inconsequential stuff that our egos can obsess about, right?  Somebody else picked up the girl, and nobody was angry with me, but I still spent a good hour talking to myself about it -- guilty, then self-justifying, then fearful about being perceived as irresponsible.  

What was done was done, and my thoughts had no real purpose other than to restore my self-image as somebody caring and reliable.   Such moments (or hours!) can show us clearly how useless and painful it can be to be so caught up in ourselves.                

"University of Missouri psychologist Laura King says that the link between altruism and happiness is so clear that one of the surest routes to emotional fulfillment is if we all start lending a hand.  'People who want to live a more fulfilling life,' she said at a recent conference on subjective well-being, 'should quit reading self-help books and start helping others.'"      
Robert Biswas-Diener and Ben Dean, Positive Psychology Coaching (John Wiley & Sons 2007), p.110                                       

 Events and Services

This Friday!

Habits and Happiness workshop

"Friendliness to Ourselves and Others" 
Friday, March 14, 2008, 7 - 8:30 p.m.
Yoga for Well-Being
The "Habits and Happiness" workshops take place on the second Friday of each month at Yoga for Well-Being, in Florida, NY, for those who want to bring the ideas of this newsletter to life.  Each workshop includes a talk, meditation, and discussion. 
Coaching and psychotherapy
Ruth is available for  both coaching and psychotherapy in Warwick, NY and New York City.   Coaching is also possible by phone.  Call 1-866-788-4526 or email to set up a free consultation.

I'd love to hear from you!  Please e-mail me your comments, questions and requests at