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Scripting Happiness http://scriptinghappiness.com ...because sometimes happiness doesn't just happen. Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:10:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 40570733 Getting to 80,000 Words – On becoming an author http://scriptinghappiness.com/becoming-an-author/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/becoming-an-author/#respond Tue, 06 Jan 2015 00:49:16 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1639


I read somewhere that the best part of writing a book is the day you sign the contract and the day the book is published. Becoming an author is not glamorous. It’s a lot of time spent locked up in solitary confinement. It’s a lot of battling your inner demons. It’s difficult. Each day, you show up and do work. , you’re happy with the fruits of your labor. Most days, you’re shaking your head at how awful your work is. It’s like psychotherapy on overdrive, except there is no therapist. Just you and the words inside of your mind. Here’s my journey – on becoming an author. 

Be curious, not judgmental. ~Walt Whitman

Through random connection on Twitter and synchronicity, I got a book deal with the American Bar Association to write a book on mindfulness for lawyers. I remember when the editor asked me “so, do you have a book proposal for me?” (I was totally not expecting this question), the words that flew out of my mouth was “yes, I’d like to write a book titled The Anxious Lawyer and show lawyers how to use mindfulness to cultivate a happier, saner law practice.” As the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to grab it and take it back. Part of me screamed “OMG! Don’t you dare say that!!! What are you talking about???” To my utter amazement, the response was overwhelmingly positive.  “Great!” he said. I’ll send you a template for our book proposal.

I was both overwhelmed with joy and frightened. Over the next couple of weeks, Little Miss Perfect AKA inner critic was dominating my every thought that had to do with the book proposal. I had a lot to say about mindfulness. I deeply believed in its power and the potential to help everyone. I desperately wanted to bring this work to the legal community. But I felt unsure about my ability to write an entire book on the subject. I was even less certain that anyone would actually read what I had to say. That familiar voice kept screeching who do YOU think you are?

Few weeks went by where I’d sit down to write the proposal, stare at the blinking cursor, write a few words, read it, decide it’s awful, delete it, write a few more words, delete it. Often, I’d just stare at the blank screen. I’d read the questions on the proposal like “why are you uniquely qualified to write this book?” Those words uniquely and qualified hung in my head like dark smoke. I kept thinking of all the things I have not done which disqualified me from writing the book. I haven’t been meditating for 30 years. I didn’t live in an Ashram in India. I wasn’t a law professor teaching contemplative lawyering. I didn’t have 10,000 hours of experience. I wasn’t a certified MBSR teacher. I wasn’t a certified CCARE instructor. I wasn’t certified in any of it. I didn’t hold a degree that said I can write about it. That I was allowed to teach it.

The word FRAUD occupied my mind – a lot. This thought pattern of not being good enough is such a familiar one to me. I’ve been dancing with it for as long as I can remember. This time though, it was different. I had a new tool in my toolbox. I had mindfulness. I purposefully sat each morning with the intention to look at the inner chatter. I wanted to be able to see the thoughts and simply observe. Not forcing it to change. Not making it go away. Not criticizing it. Just observe and watch it. I also observed how the thoughts felt inside my body. When a thought rises, what impact does that have on my body?

Eventually, I connected with my dear friend, Karen Gifford, a long time meditation practioner and also lawyer. We decided to co-author the book together. (Don’t you love life’s synchronicity?) We put the book proposal and sent it off to the editor. Then we waited for the approval. Few weeks later, we had an executed contract. We negotiated a few terms and on December 31, 2013, we had a final contract! My husband and I went out to dinner, ate oysters, drank beer and celebrated. That was a happy day.

January 2014 rolled around and I was eager to get the book done. I made a schedule for myself. I gave myself deadlines. I figured, I’ll write ~1,000 words per day and get the first rough draft done by May. I wanted to give myself plenty of time for revisions, for feedbacks, for rewrites. I had all the right intentions but Little Miss Perfect had her own ideas. For the first month, I wrote less than 1,000 words. Each day, I’d get up, do my morning meditation and sit at my desk, ready to write. I’d sit with the Word document open, staring at the cursor and no words came. It felt as though the blinking cursor was cursing at me.

I’ve always enjoyed writing. I kept a journal from the time I was in elementary school. I’ve always been told I was a good writer so the fact that I seem to have run completely dry of words was – unthinkable. In despair, I stopped writing for a couple of months. I practiced being very gentle with myself. I went through a Compassion Cultivation Training Class at Stanford University. I took a class called Love Yourself for Everyone Else’s Sake with my meditation teacher, also at Stanford. In 2014, I completed three week-long meditation retreats, six mindfulness training courses, taught three mindfulness for lawyers classes, and gave sixteen talks on mindfulness. I also wrote twenty articles, including a few interviews on podcasts.

I fully committed to integrating mindfulness into my life. I had to embrace this topic I was writing about. I had to know it intimately. I also recognized (after many many months of struggling) that my struggle was what was going to make the book valuable to the readers. I needed to live through my insecurities, my inner challenges, work with the inner chatter, of feeling not good enough, not knowing enough, etc.

Towards the end of 2014, I found a renewed sense of dedication for the book (and there was a lot of Oh S***! panic at the looming deadline). I stopped writing on my computer, bought a Composition notebook (like a first grader) and started handwriting the book each morning. I also went through the two volumes of Moleskine notebooks, with collection of notes from all of my training, teaching, and public speaking. Handwriting the book was helpful because I couldn’t easily delete chunks of what I had written. There was a lot less editing, a lot more writing.

Just a few weeks ago in December 2014, I submitted the first draft of The Anxious Lawyer to my editor at the ABA. I felt excited, happy, yet at the same time, hesitation. It felt as though the book had been in gestation for the past 12 months and I didn’t want to let it go. I felt very protective of it. I was afraid of the comments, the criticisms. Again, I turned to my practice to get me through this as well. I found an inner strength, an inner resilience that said you got this.

What I learned on being an author is this: embracing what’s hard – wholeheartedly committing to it – this is the way out. There’s no shortcuts. The only path is through.

I went to a writing workshop by Tara Mohr and she explained my struggle in this way in her new book, Playing Big. (It’s an awesome book. Go read it. Seriously.)

Jeena Cho, author of The Anxious Lawyer, grappled with “but I’m not an expert” thoughts when it came to her calling. A San Francisco bankruptcy attorney and practitioner of mindfulness meditation, Jeena explains, “Having a meditation practice allows me to build up my resilience so that I can listen to my clients’ issues with compassion, yet not lose myself in their suffering. I also feel more focused so that I can help develop strategies, from the legal perspective, that will solve their problems.” After experiencing these effects of meditation on her own law practice, Jeena felt a calling to bring mindfulness meditation to other lawyers. The idea of spreading meditation throughout the legal world just wouldn’t leave her alone.

And yet, when she was approached by Lawyerist magazine to be interviewed on the subject, her inner critic kept saying, “but you don’t know enough.” Jeena explained, “I was literally poring over a dozen books on mindfulness so I could properly educate myself, despite the fact that I have been meditating since the age of twenty-one and have gone through two eight-week courses on top of numerous retreats.”

Jeena was making two mistakes. She was underestimating the level of expertise she did have. Second, she was assuming she had to be an “expert” in the traditional sense, to make a valuable contribution. Jeena wasn’t a conventional expert on meditation, but she was a practicing lawyer and meditation practitioner. Really, who would be better to teach mindfulness to lawyers – Jeena or a conventional expert?

Jeena was what I call a “survivor” or “insider” when it came to her topic. “Survivors” or “insiders” have lived the experience the experts study. Survivors often have insights that the experts don’t. They frequently bring forward neglected perspective and a reality check on the experts’ take. They have the power to inspire, not just to inform, and they tend to bring a greater sense of passion and compassion to the work at hand. Many women aren’t “experts” in the area of calling, but they are survivors or insiders.

Jeena learned what many women learn as they step into sharing their unique survivor or insider perspective: What they have to share is more than enough. The contribution they make is all the more unique, all the more potent because they have a personal story to share rather than the official experts’ take.

Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message, Tara Mohr


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So broken. http://scriptinghappiness.com/broken/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/broken/#respond Mon, 05 Jan 2015 17:57:58 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1626


If you want to stir up your inner world, get to know your mind, dig up all the s*hit that you’ve been supressing/avoiding/neglecting, go on a week long silent meditation retreat. In 2014, I went on three week-long retreats. Each one was difficult, painful and completely joyful – all at the same time. In a single sitting, I experienced everything from delirious bliss to pain so great that I thought surely my heart will burst. As uncomfortable as it can be, I appreciate each experience. Every meditation session is an opportunity for deeper self exploration, understanding and healing. It’s like peeling away the many layers of who I am.

The most recent retreat at Esalen was no exception. There was one sit where my mind decided to replay every case I’ve ever lost like a movie reel. It felt as though my own mind was taunting me “you’re such an awful lawyer, look at ALL these cases you’ve lost! You’re such a loser.” I wanted to run out of the room screaming as loud as I can, “shut the f-up!!!” I wanted to cry. Needless to say, it felt… awful.

As much as I wanted to and as tempting as it was, I didn’t run out of the room. I didn’t go crazy or lose my mind. I noticed what was happening, gently reminded myself that I am not my thoughts. That this experience too shall pass. I brought the attention back to the breath and relaxed into the moment. The movie reel eventually stopped playing. Behind the reel was a feeling of intense anger. Anger is an emotion that I’ve become very familiar with. My first retreat of 2014 was entirely dedicated to feeling, understanding, seeing and working with anger. So, once again, I eased into the moment and dug deeper. What I realized was that behind the inner critic, behind the anger was the part of me deeply committed in pursuing justice, doing the right thing, and helping people.

Being a lawyer gives me the opportunity to fight for what I believe to be just. However, it also means risking losing. Risking falling flat on my face. Risking embarrassment. Risking failing. Risking feeling anger. Risking feeling sadness. Of course, it also means getting the result I was after, helping my client, doing good in the world. No risk, no gain.

A day or two later, I was in a sitting period where I came across yet another pain point. The thought I noticed was “You’re broken.” This idea of being broken is one I’m also very familiar with. For as long as I can remember, I struggled with an inner critic that always said “you’re broken. You’re like a broken toy. No one will ever want to play with you. You’re unlovable because you’re broken.” Broken. Broken. Broken.

One of my friend calls her inner critic Little Miss Perfect. I love that name. When I think about my inner critic, I imagine a little girl, dressed perfectly in her mother’s clothes, hair, nails, makeup, clothing, and pumps – all perfectly done. Pretending to be perfect. Looking for confirmation from others of her perfect-ness.

So, I’m sitting in a yurt at Esalen (one of the most beautiful places on earth), listening to the ocean, on a meditation cushion. Even though I’m at the most peaceful place imaginable, my mind is anything but. I’m standing face-to-face with my inner demon, Little Miss Perfect. I’m feeling frustrated and angry. Not only at Little Miss Perfect but because I can’t get my thoughts to do what I want – reach peace, joy, and giggly happiness. I’m judging everything – my poor meditation abilities, my inability to control my thoughts, the negative thoughts, and my mind fills with the dreaded shoulds. I should be happy. I should be having a “good” meditation. I should be savoring this amazing retreat more. I should be over this already.

Sometimes, when I’m faced with such strong, painful, and disturbing pattern of thoughts, the only thing I can do is simply surrender. Instead of fighting or arguing with the thoughts or with my mind, I just allow it to work its way through. It often feels like I’ve been hanging on to a tiny branch for dear life over a Rabbit Hole. Surrendering is where I let go of the struggle and let go. I commit to letting the thought/experience work its way through instead of fighting it. (Have you ever tried to get your brain to not think of a pink elephant? Impossible. Right?)

There I am, sitting with my brain full of awful thoughts about how broken, unlovable, unworthy I am. I let the feelings wash over me. Thought rises You’re like a broken toy! I see the thought. I let it go. Next thought rises You’re an awful human being. No wonder no one loves you. I repeat the mantra I am not my thoughts. My thoughts are not fact. That thought also passes. Next thought No one likes you because you’re broken! Broken! Broken! I breathe in. I breathe out. I notice the heat rising from somewhere deep in my stomach and rise all the way to the face. I notice the tension in my chest. I notice the tension in my eyebrows.

It feels like forever (in actuality, it was probably only 20 minutes) but eventually, the layers of thoughts fall away. Some wiser part of my brain kicks in and asks the question What if the only thing broken is your belief? What does it mean to be – broken? I’ve been trying to fix myself for as long as I can remember. Much of my efforts are spent on either denying that I’m broken (and therefore overcompensating) or trying to fix myself. This constant struggle to fix, to prove that I’m worthy, I’m good, I’m lovable, it only separates me further from authenticity.

I wonder, what if instead of going into fixing mode when Little Miss Perfect rears her ugly head, I just love her? What if instead of struggling and fighting, I bring compassion? I imagine sitting at the edge of a bluff, overlooking the ocean on a beautiful day and I have a pile of stones next to me. Each stone has a word on it. I grab the stone, one by one, read the word and I throw it into the ocean full of care and tenderness. Some words are positive, happy, cheerful like Love, Kindness, Gentleness, Acceptance. Other stones have painful or unpleasant words on it like Failure, Broken, Selfish.

During a sit, I reach a moment of complete bliss where I feel perfectly accepting and okay with myself and the world. I begin to see that I am not a broken toy. I have my strengths and weaknesses. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I act with grace and courage. Othertimes, I fail. Miserably. I’m introverted. Often, socially awkward. I hate speaking in public. I often feel embarrassed when people pay attention to me. I feel, deeply. I’m a daughter, sister, wife, friend, teacher, student. I’ve won. I’ve lost. I’ve had my heartbroken, many, many times. Sometimes, I get angry. I’m often impatient. But broken? No. I’m imperfect, like everyone else. I’m just an ordinary human being with my insecurities, talents, intense curiosity, and all the things that make me who I am is what defines me. But I’m not any one of those things. No singular characteristics define who I am. It felt like a monumental step towards healing. And healing is one of the reasons why I sit, everyday.

May we have the courage to live courageously.

photo credit: iNafih via photopin cc

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Death & Dying: Farewell http://scriptinghappiness.com/death-dying-farewell/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/death-dying-farewell/#respond Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:43:45 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1605 Post image for Death & Dying: Farewell


Few weeks ago, I woke up to find these words in an email “…he committed suicide.” Suicide: the action of killing oneself intentionally. I stood, staring at my iPhone as the word suicide repeated over and over in my head. There were so many emotions that washed over me all at once – anger, fear, regret, remorse, grief, and others that I have no words for. This is the first time I was touched by suicide. As though I was on autopilot, I showered, got dressed and went to work. It seemed strange that time continued to pass, all of my day’s obligation still existed despite this incredible tragedy.

Later that day, I searched for all the emails we’ve exchanged and read it. I looked at the words said and words unsaid. I wanted to find the unsaid words, the words I should have heard. I went to Google, typed in his name and read through all 14 pages of Google results. I looked at all the search results from Google images. I also read through his Facebook posts. I don’t know exactly what I was looking for or why I was doing this but I did. I couldn’t escape the feeling that I must have missed something. Maybe if I found some clue that he was reaching out for help, I can go from grieving to being angry at myself.

His obituary said he was 24 years old… When I read that, I felt rage, it welled up from some deep part of me. Then I felt sorrow. He didn’t have perspective of his older self to tell his younger self that this pain he’s experiencing, this will pass.

Few days after reading that email, I connected with the friend who shared the sad news. As soon as I got on the phone, we both started to cry. It was a deep release of pain, sorrow, grief and all the things that was said and unsaid. Despite the pain, at some point during the call, we both noticed a sense of kindness, gentleness and sweetness – both of us crying, sharing our humanness.

There was no looking away from the pain. No attempt to hide. No attempt to deny our sorrow. I practiced and felt what it meant to be truly in my grief. It reminded me of this poem:

Don’t turn your head.
Keep looking
at the bandaged place.
That’s where
the Light enters you.



The sense I’m left with is incompleteness. I’ll never know this beautiful human being as his older self. I’ll never get a chance to ask my many questions.

Sigh. I really miss you, my dear, beautiful, darling friend.


PS – After my friend’s suicide, I came across this podcast on On Being titled Suicide, and Hope for Our Future SelvesPerhaps you may find it helpful as well.


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Body Scan Meditation (30 Minutes) http://scriptinghappiness.com/body-scan-30-minutes/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/body-scan-30-minutes/#respond Mon, 28 Apr 2014 17:34:12 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1592 Post image for Body Scan Meditation (30 Minutes)

When I started meditating, I hated the body scan. The teacher would say, “now feel your left foot” and I’d want to scream, “what do you mean, FEEL my left foot?” When I told him about my very negative reaction, he suggested I approach those feelings with curiosity. That suggestion really annoyed me. Why would I turn towards the negative feelings? Despite the annoyance, frustration and anger, I persisted. Then I began to notice that these feelings were prevalent in other parts of my life. I’d feel mild lingering of annoyance, frustration and anger when I was standing in line at the grocery store, talking to clients, talking to opposing counsel, talking to my mom, and on and on.

That was my “ah ha!” moment. Meditation allows us to observe our mind and it’s a snapshot of our mindstate – how we interact in our world. So, if you find yourself feeling frustrated with the body scan, I feel your pain! My best suggestion is to keep at it and turn towards whatever feelings, sensations (or lack of sensations) that may arise.

If you have any questions or comments, please drop me an email – jcho@jclawgroup.com



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Death & Dying: Living Each Moment http://scriptinghappiness.com/death-dying-living-moment/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/death-dying-living-moment/#respond Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:49:04 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1582 Post image for Death & Dying: Living Each Moment


Last weekend, I went camping with my husband. While there, I saw our neighbor’s dog – a golden retriever walking towards us. He was limping and clearly in pain. His hair was frizzy and felt rough to the touch. His owner (along with a 6 month old baby) came by and explained the dog had cancer and the only treatment would be to amputate two of his legs. Despite this, the dog was happily walking behind his owner and the baby, refusing to let his illness keep him down. The dog seemed happy and rolled over on his back when I was petting him.

I felt overwhelmed with sadness but there was also such preciousness and sweetness in that moment. With the dog, his owner, and the baby, on a camp ground, enjoying the sun. As I sat there, petting the dog, I wished him happiness. I also wished that I’d have the same kind of courage – courage to go on a walk with my loved ones, despite the pain, despite death knocking at my door if I had a terminal illness. It also reminded me how precious life is, that all of us are marching towards death and none of us know how many moments are left.


photo credit: -Reji via photopin cc

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Day 112 – Reliving Childhood Injury http://scriptinghappiness.com/childhood-injury/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/childhood-injury/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2013 05:14:58 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1538

I’m taking a Journaling class at The Writing Salon. There’s about 12 students, all women. Frequently, we’ll be given a prompt and asked to write about it. We wrote one on childhood injury or illness. As we went around the room and shared our writing, I thought it would make for a really good This American Life story. I can almost hear Ira Glass’s narration. “In this week’s story, childhood injury or illness. In 12 acts.” Anyway, here’s my story.

I only know that I was severely burned as a young child from the scar on my leg. It goes from my left ankle to my knee. I also know the injury took place because of my mom’s story. I know the story in every detail but I’m almost certain it’s not part of my conscious memory.

I like to pretend the scar doesn’t exist. As though if I can no longer see the scar, others won’t either.

I can only remember three instances where I had to face this scar as an adult.

1. Telling my husband how I got the scar
2. Seeing it in our engagement photo
3. Kimmie asking me

When Kimmie asked “what happened to your leg,” it caught me off guard. You can see my scar… 

I didn’t truncate my story (as I normally do). I told the story as it was retold to me. The bursting radiator, the endless doctor visits, my mom asking the doctor “can you use my skin for the skin graft?”

What I don’t remember is the pain. The burn no longer hurts. It’s just a scar. And I remember Kimmie’s response – we all have scars. Wear it with pride. 


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Day 113 – Meditation 101 http://scriptinghappiness.com/day-113-meditation-101/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/day-113-meditation-101/#respond Sun, 17 Nov 2013 19:35:07 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1520 Post image for Day 113 – Meditation 101

Meditation is good for the brain. I think about meditation as exercise for the brain. It’s also a time where I can tune in and pay attention to what’s going on inside my body, my heart, and my soul. If you’ve wanted to try meditation, here are some tips and suggestions.

How to Meditate

  1. Sit on a chair or a cushion. If sitting is uncomfortable, you can take any position that feels good.
  2. Start breathing.
  3. As you’re breathing in and out, pay attention to the sensation of the breath. You may notice the sensation inside your nostrils, in your chest, or in your stomach.
  4. When you notice you’ve mind has wandered off, bring your attention back to the breath.

There’s no need to try to clear your brain of thoughts. When your mind wonders off, simply notice and bring your attention back to the breath. Most mornings, I use an audio recording for a guided meditation. I really like the Mindfulness app, which allows you to choose the length of the meditation from 3 to 30 minutes. There’s also the option of silent meditation with bells.

There’s No “Trying” in Meditation

Meditation is a tool for practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness means to “pay attention.” When you’re meditating, you’re observing the sensations that arise in your body, and your thoughts. In everyday life, we react to our thoughts. In meditation, we’re watching our thoughts like a movie. Simply observe your thoughts without reacting to it by coming back to the breath – over and over again.

Enjoy Taking Time For Yourself

I find meditation to be very relaxing. It’s like a mini spa vacation for the brain. When I’m feeling stressed out and feel like I can’t keep up with everything, I take a 3 minute breathing break. Initially, finding even a few minutes a day feels impossible. You start the day with good intentions, to meditate and life quickly gets in the way. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just notice the resistance to meditating. What’s the internal dialogue? What does the resistance feel like? There are so many benefits I get out of sitting everyday but the primary one is that I’m able to be kinder to myself. That feels pretty amazing. photo credit: michibanban via photopin cc

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Day 114 – Living with the Inner Critic http://scriptinghappiness.com/day-114-inner-critic/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/day-114-inner-critic/#respond Wed, 16 Oct 2013 19:31:10 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1439 http://scriptinghappiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/medium_5044866787.jpg

The Amazing Brain

The brain is an amazing problem solving organ. When you pose a question, the brain immediately goes into doing mode and comes up with the answers. The trouble is, we don’t always ask the right questions, especially when the inner critic is doing the talking.

Meet the Inner Critic

The inner critic is that nagging negative voice that’s never satisfied. That voice that’s ready to pass judgement and point out how much I’ve screwed up at a moment’s notice. I’ve lived with her for so long that I mistook her as my identity – I saw her as me. It’s like I’ve been tuned into the Jeena Negativity Talk Show all of my life but didn’t know it. On this show, there’s never room for anything less than perfection. There’s no margin for error. Every misstep can spell disaster of magnanimous proportions.

When I make a mistake, the inner critic asks “why are you such an idiot?” and the brain happily goes out and open the drawer labeled “idiot” to find the answer. Let me tell you, that is one very large file.

Living this way – in a constant fear of my inner critic and always wanting to be “perfect” is exhausting. There’s no room for any other parts of me to shine through, the creative, the funny, the goofy, or the silly.

Hello, Kindness

In moving towards having a gentler and kinder relationship with myself, I started by noticing the inner chatter.

When I’m giving my well rehearsed speech and I screw up my line and the inner critic starts freaking out, I can say “ah ha! There it is again.” Next, I acknowledge that this experience I’m having is a common human experience. After all, lots of people giving speeches screw up their lines or lose their train of thought. This normalizes the experience. Then I gently remind myself to be kind.

“You screwed up, you give terrible speeches, you suck” is definitely not very helpful when you’re trying to get through a speech. Listening to a play-by-play on how badly you screwed up isn’t useful either. Arguing with the inner critic or saying “STFU!” doesn’t work either.

Taking a deep breath, smiling at myself for being human and finishing the speech with some kindness – that feels more consistent with the person I want to be.

I recommend Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind for more on this topic.


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Day 115 – Perspective on Pain http://scriptinghappiness.com/day-115-perspective-pain/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/day-115-perspective-pain/#respond Tue, 15 Oct 2013 04:15:24 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1382 http://scriptinghappiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Perspective-on-Pain.jpg

Pain. It’s the black sheep of the emotional family. In meditation, we are encouraged to cultivate a friendly attitude towards all emotions that bubble up during our sitting practice. This includes exploring pain. For a long time, I resisted this idea. After all, it seems crazy – why on earth would I spend any time thinking or feeling or exploring pain??? This is in sharp contrast to my default reaction, which is to do an about-face and immediately run in the opposite direction.

When I think about physical pain, the experience I think of immediately is the dentist. The image I get in my head is being strapped down to the dentist chair and being tortured. You know, sort of 24, Jack Bauer style.

The way I experience any dentist trip is as painful. My brain says: dentist = pain. My anxiety amplifies the discomfort and pain. Instead of being able to look at the entire experience and recognize that some moments were painful, separated by moments of no pain, I simply label any trip to the dentist office as painful.

By being mindful, I am better able to label the experience I’m having. I can experience and notice all the sensations – the friendly receptionist, the dentist asking me about my day, the music that’s playing in the background, the sensations of having water splash on my gums, the sensation of holding the x-ray films in my mouth, all the strange non-painful experiences, the pinch of the shot, and yes, even that awful feeling of the drill. Instead of spending the entire time on the dentist chair, white knuckled,  fraught with severe anxiety, and having my brain scream “this is painful!!!,” I can focus on the more pleasant and non-painful parts.

What I’m starting to learn is that acknowledging pain for what it is allows me to label everything outside of pain – relief, neutrality, joy, silliness, happiness and peace.

photo credit: SnaPsi Сталкер via photopin cc

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Day 116 – Put down the damn iPhone! http://scriptinghappiness.com/day-116-put-iphone/ http://scriptinghappiness.com/day-116-put-iphone/#respond Fri, 04 Oct 2013 02:55:41 +0000 http://scriptinghappiness.com/?p=1354 http://scriptinghappiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/photo-2-1024x76811.jpg

really really really love my iPhone. It helps me stay connected to my Facebook and Twitter friends. I can stay connected to my clients and my work. I can text people. There are gazillion apps to solve every woes. It promises almost endless hours of distractions. Somewhere along the way, I became one of those people. You know who I’m talking about. Maybe you’re one of them. That person that’s constantly glued to the iPhone.

My iPhone is an object that I interact with not because I want to but because I sort of feel anxious when I don’t. I fall asleep with the iPhone (checking for those last-minute updates, likes, comments, emails, or Googling for that piece of information I just have to know) and wake up to the iPhone’s alarm. As soon as my eyes open, I check it. I walk down the busy streets of San Francisco, intensely focused on that little screen. I’m even guilty of bringing it into the bathroom.

Here’s the thing – I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be that person that can’t enjoy her dinner with her husband because she’s reading her emails – from her clients! I don’t want to be that person that misses the details of life because she’s glued to that screen. I want to be present. I want to be aware. I want to be mindful.

So, what’s the solution? I tried different tricks – I deleted Facebook and Twitter app from my phone. That sort of worked, for a while. But that didn’t feel right because the apps aren’t the problem. The problem is that I am interacting with my iPhone as a default way of being. Have a spare second? A moment of downtime? Check the iPhone. I tried leaving my iPhone behind (I KNOW!) but I just spent the day sort of missing the damn thing. These solutions felt punitive.

The next solution was to start paying attention to that very moment when I got the urge to reach for the iPhone. Why do I need to check my iPhone? What is the purpose? Is there some other activity I should be paying attention to? Instead of simply giving into the habit of checking it, I would add a brief pause. Turns out, that brief pause, adding a second of thought to consider why I’m reaching for that phone goes a long way to breaking the vicious habit. I can honestly acknowledge that I’m reaching for the phone out of habit and not because there’s a real need. I can also choose some different activity instead of mindlessly checking for the 100th time for Facebook updates.

Yesterday, instead of walking down the streets of San Francisco, mindlessly glued to that little screen, risking getting run over by a car, I enjoyed the walk. I looked up at the sky and noticed the clouds. I noticed the people as they walked by. I smiled at strangers and noticed those that smiled back. I even paused to listen to the volunteer worker from Amnesty International, instead of my usual MO which is to ignore them and continue to look for that latest “like.”

The past weekend, we went on a one night camping trip. No Wi-Fi. No reception. No updates. No “likes.” No virtual friends. Just me, my husband, sunshine, and fresh air. We watched the sunset, for the first time in a long time.

It felt really good.


If you haven’t seen it already, watch this video of Louis C.K. explaining why he hates smartphones.


And this: I Forgot My Phone.




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