Venting, as it is often referred to, can make you feel much better, almost like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. When that weight is gone, your head feels much clearer and changing your emotions then becomes easier. Friends or family members who know you well enough might be able to provide some form of insight too and even give you their feedback which could prove to be useful advice. Your emotions can do one of two things. If you are treating the piece of writing as a personal conversation with me, my efforts have been justified. I would like to think that it resonates with you, triggering thoughts and ideas and perhaps written comments of your own. Entering the wisdom years transforms the meanings of our relationships with our spouses, family, friends -- and piece of writings. The process also leads us to re-evaluate the importance of community to our personal development and well-being. Michel Follen, a Belgian demographer, has mapped the places in the world where people live substantially longer than elsewhere, marking these places in blue. Dan Buettner, journalist, researcher and author, has taken Follen's findings one step further. In 2004, he headed a National Geographic expedition tasked with investigating some of these `blue' areas more closely, visiting Okinawa in southern Japan, the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica and a Seventh Day Adventist community in the suburb of Loma Linda in Los Angeles. Buettner published his findings in his piece of writing The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People who've Lived the Longest. 6 Buettner corroborated the well-attested evidence that work, physical activity, sound nutrition, belief, optimism and a sense of meaning, as well as family and friends, all contribute to longevity. Here are some sample willingness questions that I use after experiencing a severe setback. Play around with them and adjust them to your own personal needs. These are just some sample willingness questions to engage with your fears that I use to help drive me back into an obstacle instead of running away from it. Experiment with these questions or come up with your own. The more you get in touch with your capacity to accept your upcoming experience, the better your chance of defeating the challenge. By accepting the future events of battling the adversity, every action I took brought me closer to becoming the man I wanted to be and living the life I dreamed about.
You can do the same. Only by working with your fears can you ever free yourself from the scared prison in which you have become locked. Now, let's go back to my most recent challenge: Taking care and getting my dog, Neville, healthy again. In the journey to heal Neville, Diane and I went through some major ups and downs and twist and turns from this story of resilience. As her name and dive were announced, the crowd hushed. But as she assumed her position, Michelle heard stomping feet and then random claps and then a thousand teacups tinkling against stairs and railings and seats. At first I thought a fight had broken out in the audience, she says, but then I realized they were trying to distract me. I thought, The nerve! So I said a few expletives, raised my arms, and said to myself, I'm gonna show them. Michelle nailed the dive--she knew it when she hit the water. The scoreboard would read all nines. But what she didn't expect, when she came out of the water, was total silence. She had hushed the entire audience. They had thought I'd crumble, Michelle says. He was surprised by my comment, but quiet about it, and seemed to understand that the joy for me, in this outfit, was looking the way he needed me to. It was a weird party. During the cocktail hour, while young beauties in their Truly Elegant frocks flitted about taking pictures of each other, I stayed wrapped up in a shawl against the polar ventilation system. I quizzed one of John's colleagues about Malaysian sociopolitics and spent a long time at the bar picking out an expensive scotch. At dinner, I swapped mothering war stories with the wives of two partners (warm, approachable, and living lives just like mine) and purposefully faded into the conversational background so I could listen to John talk shop. What I heard surprised me.
John was not in over his head at work--as he so often worried to me; he was, if anything, over other people's heads. He was not struggling to earn a smidgen of respect; he was in fine shape. They can either help you grow and become a better version of yourself, or it can hold you back and destroy your reputation. The former open doors to new and greater opportunities, while the latter will leave you with a reputation that you're someone others should stay away from when you're unstable and emotional. To achieve the former, you need to begin cultivating a positive environment for yourself, one that is going to make it easier to nurture these positive emotions and help you grow. Here's the twist - it's not all about you. That's right, growing your emotions is not going to be an exercise that is entirely focused on you. This time, you're going to be focused on making others around you feel good, which in turn helps you feel good. Humans are social creatures by nature, and doesn't it always feel much better when you know you've done something that makes a positive difference in someone else's life other than yourself? That's how you use your emotions to grow as a person. There is nothing that demotivates you and other people around you quicker than a lack of appreciation. Showing a little gratitude and appreciation every now and then can go a long way towards turning your emotions around. However, he also found that beyond these factors, community has a major impact on longevity. His studies showed that people who enjoy a long life are highly involved in in their communities. Human beings have an inherent need to be part of a community, which if realized contributes to their well-being. However, communities like those described in Buettner's piece of writing are very rare. Most of us do not live in `blue zones'. Nevertheless -- and, indeed, because of this -- we need to give some thought to the relationships we have with the various communities we are involved in, and to their importance for our well-being.
Among other things, the individuation process encourages us to move beyond our individual resources and look for purpose and meaning in the wider society. During the twentieth century, many of us turned our backs on traditional communities as places to live. We sought partial substitutes in communities based around professional and hobby interests and the internet. It seems that this trend is now slowly receding. The key for me was not to let the frustrations and setbacks discourage my goal of getting my dog well again. There were many moments of great heartache and tears. If I would have felt overwhelmed with despair during the experiences, I might have put my dog down. But I was always able to bounce back from every barrier and hurdle that came in our direction with the mindset of learning something valuable that I can apply to my life and heal his. For example, we decided to have Neville's leg amputated as cancer had completely destroyed his left femur. After having his leg removed, Neville struggled big time to stand up and move. Seeing him confused and falling repeatedly was beyond heartbreaking. But through it all, he adapted to his new life as a three-pawed dog. The lessons I gained during his new life without his left leg was improvising, adapting and overcoming. Watching him grow and adapt to his new world was awe-inspiring. They didn't know I loved that kind of pressure. The Chinese officials were highly apologetic. They were embarrassed by the behavior of the audience; their apology to Michelle and their warning to future audiences were carried in all the newspapers, so that 2 billion people knew what Michelle had been up against. But that only made her victory sweeter. It was the neatest thing, to be in Communist China and hear our national anthem played while I stood at the top of the award platform, notes Michelle.
That was the highlight of my career, really--not the Olympics. The satisfaction of standing up against my competitor and that audience--and succeeding--was huge. Michelle coaches diving now; she's now Michelle Mitchell-Rocha, the head diving coach at the University of Arizona. He was kicking ass. It took me by happy surprise between the salad and main course to feel so proud of my own husband. After all, I did love him. I wanted him to do well in things that were important to him. It felt odd and not entirely comfortable to be the supportive wallflower. But for the first time since arriving in Hong Kong, it felt like something I wanted to do. John did his socializing and nice-making, and then we drifted out to see the sparkling view of Kowloon from the convention center's lobby. I took out my camera. It's been a year, I said. Almost. When you're feeling terrible after a long day, just remembering that there's a lot in your life to be grateful for despite all that is enough to put a smile on your face. Simple phrases like thank you or nice job, maybe even a we couldn't have done it without you can make a real difference in your moral and that of others you spend your time with. No matter whom you interact with, be engaging and go the extra mile to make a connection with them. A genuine human connection is what we all long for deep down inside, and there's no one who is ever going to tell you that they enjoy being lonely. No matter who you're engaging with, build a connection that is meaningful. With family, friends, and colleagues, out to them on a regular basis, congratulate them on little victories accomplished, and remember special moments like their birthdays and anniversaries.