Just One Thing (JOT) is the free newsletter that
suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more
fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind.
A small thing
repeated each day adds up over time to produce big results.
thing that could change your life.
Rick Hanson, 2010)
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This newsletter comes from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, PsychologyToday.com contributor, and meditation teacher.
See Rick's workshops and lectures for therapists and the general public.
The PracticeDon't quarrel.
Why? It's one thing to
stick up for yourself and others. But it's a different matter to get caught up
in wrangles, contentiousness, squabbles . . . in a word: quarrels.
Similarly, it's one
thing to disagree with someone, even to the point of arguing - but it's a
different matter to get so caught up in your position that you lose sight of
the bigger picture, including your relationship with the other person. Then you're
You know you're
quarreling when you find yourself getting irritated, especially with that
sticky feeling that you're just not gonna quit until you've won.
Quarrels happen both
out in the open, between people, and inside the mind, like when you make a case
in your head about another person or keep revisiting an argument to make your
point more forcefully. We quarrel most with family and friends - imagine that! -
but also with people on TV, or politicians and groups we don't like. We can
even quarrel with conditions in life (such as an illness or tight money) or
with physical objects, like a sticky drawer slammed shut in anger.
However they happen,
quarrels are stressful, activating the ancient fight-or-flight machinery in
your brain and body: a bit of this won't harm you, but a regular diet of
quarreling is not good for your long-term physical and mental health.
Plus it eats away
like acid on a relationship. For example, I was in a serious relationship in my
mid-twenties that was headed for marriage, but our regular quarrels finally so scorched
the earth in our hearts that no love could grow there for each other.
This week, try not
quarrel with anyone or anything.
How? Be mindful of what quarreling feels
like, in your body, emotions, and thoughts. For example, be aware of that sense
of revving up, pushing against, being right, and driving your view home that
is so characteristic of quarreling. Ask yourself: Does this feel good? Is
this good for me?
Observe the impact of quarreling in
relationships, whether you're doing it or others are (including on the world
stage). Ask yourself: Are the results good? What would my relationships be
like if I did not quarrel in them?
If you sense yourself warming up to
a quarrel, step back, slow down, don't do it. Try a different approach: Say
only what truly needs saying; stay calm and contained, without trying to
persuade the other person; don't take any bait. If it comes to this, let the
other person, not you, look over-heated and argumentative.
Much of the time, you'll realize
that nothing needs to be said at all: you just don't have to resist the
other person. His or her words can pass on by like a gust of air swirling
some leaves along its way. You don't have to be contentious. Your silence does not
equal agreement. Nor does it mean that the other person has won the point - and
even if he or she has, would that actually matter so much in a week - or year -
If you do get caught up in a
quarrel, as soon as you realize that's happened, back out of it. A good first
step is to get quieter. Think about what really matters in the interaction -
like saying what you are going to do in the future, or finding out some key
fact - and then zero in on that thing, whatever it is. Maybe acknowledge to the
other person that you've realized you've gotten into a kind of argument here,
but that's not what you really want to do. If that person tries to keep up the
fight, you don't have to. It takes two to quarrel, and only one to stop it. Then
when the time is right, as you can, try to repair the damage of the quarrel.
Overall, explore the sense of being
at peace with the world, without a quarrel with anyone.
(The feeling of this reminds me of
a saying from my wife's childhood, which should be adapted to one's own
situation: Be a friend to all, and a sister to every Girl Scout!)
· Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom - Written with a neurologist, Richard Mendius, M.D., and with a Foreword by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and a Preface by Jack Kornfield, Ph.D., it's full of effective ways to use your mind to change your brain to benefit your whole being.
· Stress-Proof Your Brain -Meditations to rewire neural pathways for stress relief and unconditional happiness.
· Meditations to Change Your Brain - Three CDs of powerful guided practices, plus practical suggestions, for personal transformation.
· Meditations for Happiness - Downloadable program (3 CDs worth) on gratitude, inner protectors, and coming home to happiness.