I grew up in a blue collar family

openmic

“I grew up in a blue collar family. My dad was a printer—a union guy. So he didn’t have the financial resources to pay for my college or law school. I had to make my own way. I flipped burgers during the week for frat guys at the Student Union. I covered my tuition by spending my summers in the Marine reserves. I’m trying to make sure my kids don’t have to do all that stuff. I want them to be able to backpack through Europe, or volunteer in Central America. Meaningful stuff. If my son wants to be a poet or an Indian chief, that’s fine with me. I work 60 or 70 hours a week to make sure they can do whatever they want. I miss a lot of stuff, though. I have to hear about the soccer games second hand. That’s why the snowstorm this weekend was so great. No school commitments. No work commitments. We didn’t do much at all. Just sat around and read the newspaper or watched TV. There was just a lot of—talk.”

Courtesy of: Humans of New York

I’m Feeling 22!

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggs

Hello lovely people out there who have decided to give my column another read, thank you for coming back. It is my birthday this week, so I’m disappointed that I am yet to receive a gift from you, particularly as I give you the gift of my inner thoughts on a continuing basis (it’s the thought that counts right? Ha ha!)

Anyway, as I become another year older, though not that old really, it gives me a special moment to reflect on the year that was and what I am going to do differently, or exactly the same, in the year to come.

When I look back, a crazy amount of things happened in one year actually:

  • I graduated university and was admitted as a lawyer;
  • I had my 21st birthday party, which was the most kick-ass thing that has ever happened;
  • I went overseas for the first time since I started university in 2012;
  • My Grandma died;
  • I changed jobs from one I had for almost 2 years (a long time in what I refer to as ‘teenage years’ despite not being one anymore);
  • Lost some friends, gained some friends, all of that jazz;
  • Did a month’s work experience at my Dream Job.

But the real question, the one that might in some way (or not) influence some of your own thoughts and actions, is what I want to do differently, or exactly the same, this year.

Differently

  • I have always had an issue with lawyers and law students who conduct themselves as though they’re better and smarter than everyone else. It drives me absolutely crazy. However I’ve noticed this year, that there are times where I have formed an opinion on something, based on a negative view of someone, or a choice they have made. It’s something I think we all do, but I wish I hadn’t let it colour the situation, and influence the relationships I had with people. I think it is an issue, that as young lawyers we can’t help. Generalising (and almost proving my point via hypocrisy) most young lawyers are very hard working, career driven and may have their life planned out clearly. When someone makes a decision that doesn’t fit with your life plan, you think “well that’s a bad decision”. Stop. It’s their decision, and while you cannot help but think it, take the old school approach of “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” and leave them be. If it doesn’t affect you, IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Despite the fact that you might think your opinion worthy of noting PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO HEAR IT. I know, hurtful, but they don’t, no matter how much you think you’re right. I vow that I will take an “each to their own approach” in the year of 22, and I suggest you do the same. It makes life a whole lot easier too because you’re not worrying about other people’s crap, worry about yours young lawyer!
  • I will try to limit the silly highs and lows of professional (or in the current case, lack of professional) life. A lot of law students and young lawyers can be excited and proud that they work in the area of law. Law is your thing and people go “wow” because they’re impressed and you must be smart and rich and successful and powerful and amazing. Yeeeaahhhh… no. Definitely not always at least. Try not to let this all go to your head, because it makes the knock backs harder and the rejections that happen fairly often in post law school life harder to get back up from. You do have strengths, remember them, thrive off them, develop them, but you do have some god damn weaknesses too. You’re not all-knowing, and (because reality ruins all things) it is not that likely that straight after graduation the Dream Job will call you and say “you’re JUST SO BRILLIANT! We need you and have a huge pay cheque too”. On the flip side, you’re not hopeless, or useless, or forever destined to walk the earth without legal work, so don’t beat yourself up too much. I vow that I will believe in myself and what I have to offer without getting too big for my britches in the year of 22. Don’t expect, but don’t doubt.

Same

  • Last year, though most of the year I forgot to do it, I told myself to do a few new things I hadn’t done before. Now I know what you’re thinking, biggest cliché in the “self-help” and “making myself a better person” playbook. BUT I’m serious, and this is the one thing I am going to continue to do this year, that I want to keep the same. However, I’m not going to tell you to quit your job (seriously, I’m never going to tell you that unless you’ve already signed the contract for the next job), or move interstate, or date the leader of a cult to turn your world upside down, but do little things, things that it will be awesome if you have a fun time, and you’re really no worse off if you have a crap time. Here are some suggestions from random things that I did:
Go and watch a sport you’ve never seen, even if you’re not a sporty person. I watched ice hockey last year on a whim, now own three jerseys for my local team, and contemplating getting a tattoo! (Joking? Serious? You’ll never know).

 

You know that movie that you want to see but you can’t get your friends organised? Go and see it… dun dun dun…. ALONE! Firstly, it’s a movie so when you get in there no-one is going to really notice you’re alone anyway. You can always tell the cashier that your ‘friend’ is running late and you’re going to be sharing that large popcorn you just bought. Secondly, and more importantly, you want to see the damn movie, so why would you wait for your silly friends? Pointless really.

 

Drive (or bus or scooter or roller-coaster) a little out of your comfort zone (suburb, town, city, state) and see what’s out there. Some of the most randomly beautiful or cool places are actually right under your nose. I once drove 15 minutes north of my suburb, which is in the city, and I hit farms! Had a picnic in a beautiful paddock all while still being able to see the infrastructure in the distance.

 

Is there a music concert in your area that sounds vaguely interesting and is cheap as chips? Just go, why not? At least you can say you went, and with or without friends, you can still get a good selfie and a band t-shirt.

 

Attempt a random activity in your local community. You have no idea what is on offer unless you pull your head out of your socks and go try it. Last year I went glassblowing one afternoon, just because. It was so interesting, and awesome, and now I have a funky paperweight that I made all by myself!

 

Volunteering is the best thing ever. You’re going to see me ramble about it a lot because I absolutely adore it! But stop thinking “ah yes sir, I’d like to volunteer as a lawyer” (you were supposed to read that in a very proper voice), and start saying “I love kids, let’s volunteer at a school” “I’d like to help people, let’s volunteer at the hospital” and other awesome things like that. Do something that isn’t you at all, and if you love it – great; if you don’t, better luck next time. Volunteer groups are always so happy to have assistance, even short term, so go look up “University Volunteers Australia” on Facebook and contact them for info (don’t worry, you don’t have to be a university student, it’s just the name, and it caters for people who have heavy commitments).

 

Make something! Anything! Whether it is a half day’s work or a 6 month project, make something. Attempt it, even if you completely stuff it up, you’ll learn something at least. Build a small table (Bunnings has free classes!), sew a pair of pants, bake some cookies and decorate them, make juggling balls from small bags of birdseed inside a balloon! The potential is infinite, and a good way to spend some down time. You can always give them as gifts, sell them at a market or throw them out on garbage night under the cover of darkness. But most importantly you can be proud of making something all by yourself like the clever law person you are.

I hope I have somewhat assisted in your new plans for (micro) world domination! 22 is going to be the best year yet because I am going to get an awesome job, write things for you guys and I’m going to Jamberoo for my party and I’ve never been to a water park before. Wheeeeee!

Until next time!

 

Georgia is a recent graduate from the University of Canberra and at the age of 21 is at the stage of searching for that dream job to lead her from her double degree of Law and Events Management into being a ‘real adult’. Her column “I Object” is a monthly piece about the thoughts, processes, and sometimes (who are we kidding- pretty often) tedious hurdles that post law school life can be.

Listening to your body

By Bernadette Healy

Stress

Do you want to learn a strategy to help you take charge during moments of stress?

As you are no doubt aware, people differ in the extent to which they are in tune with their bodies.  Some are routinely able to take good physical care of themselves and are practised in attending to, and understanding the information that the body can provide about being in the world. This includes recognising the particular physical discomfort that they experience when facing a challenging situation at work or at home.

For others, however, the body is a forgotten vessel – known mostly in a secondary sort of way as that which carries around the parts of themselves of which they are more aware – such as their rational, thinking selves or their feeling selves. (NB. This does not necessarily equate to living unhealthily).  During a stressful time many in this group may still think about their stress and try and work it out rationally, or they may be aware of feeling stressed, such as feeling more easily angered, or emotional, or more intolerant than usual.  They are less likely to stop and focus on their physical sensations.

Even when very aware of being stressed, it is common to automatically engage in reactionary avoidance behaviours rather than stopping and paying attention to the body.  This is often due to a fear that focusing on the physical experience of stress will make things worse[1].  (Individuals may or may not be aware of this fear).

Learning how to pay attention to the information held in the body is a very important part of working through stressful times, including breaking patterns of avoidance behaviours.  Common avoidance behaviours include – but are not limited to: outbursts of anger, blaming others, withdrawal from people, drinking alcohol or using illicit substances, over-eating and fleeing.

So how can you begin to pay more attention to your body in a way that will assist you to cope with stressful situations while reducing the likelihood of engaging in the behaviours listed above?[2]

Start with a few minutes of focusing on your breath.[3]

Then still with eyes closed, focus on the sensations in your body, pay attention to whichever area of the body is calling out for your attention.  Try and take your awareness to that part of the body and observe the sensations. (Imagine that you are describing the sensations to someone without any knowledge of human anatomy and its terms – instead seeking to describe the sensations in a fresh, non-technical way).  It may help to ask yourself questions about the sensations such as:

  • Is the sensation hot or cold?[4]
  • Is the sensation in one distinct area or spread out?
  • Is the sensation heavy or light?
  • Is it coming and going or staying the same?

Once you have noticed and described the sensation, move on to the next sensation that you notice or if you feel that is enough, open your eyes.

Sit for a while and ask yourself how long that sensation has been around?

If it makes sense for you, try describing the sensation visually, for example: a ball in the chest, a large rubber band around the head, a metal weight on the back, a bobbing cork in the throat etc.  (You might even like to try making a primary-school level drawing of this and then just look at your picture and notice any thoughts that occur to you about the picture)

Make a point of trying to notice the coming and going of the sensations in the future, and see if you notice any patterns about when it is strongest and weakest.

Pay attention to how you are feeling now.  It is highly likely that the simple exercise of focusing on physical sensations of discomfort has resulted in a lessening of them.  Of course they may well return, but you will know from direct experience that they can also diminish, and that you now have a strategy to assist in this process.

 

 

 

[1] In cases of severe anxiety there is a need for professional help in sorting out when to focus on physical discomfort and when to actively choose other strategies at least until the anxiety has moved out of the severe zone

[2]If at any point you feel too uncomfortable (say an 8 or above on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is little discomfort and 10 is maximum discomfort), discontinue and engage in a healthy distracting behaviour such as a brisk walk, watching a loved movie, looking up information about a favourite topic, reading a novel etc and consider seeking professional help if you would like to understand about your discomfort and learn some appropriate techniques.

[3] Sit with back and neck straight.

  • Close eyes gently.
  • Become aware of your breath.
  • Don’t try and change your breath, just observe it as it comes and goes.
  • Try and let go of any thoughts as they arise
    • Remind yourself that they are just thoughts, choose to let them go as if the thoughts are on a train which you see whizzing past but do not get on.
    • As thoughts arise, don’t blame yourself for becoming distracted but instead bring your attention back to the breath as soon as you are able without judgement or criticism.
  • Observe the breath coming and going.
    • Don’t count the breaths or think about the process of breathing, but just experience the sensations of breathing and observe the breath in the moment of breathing.
  • Notice whatever there is to be noticed
    • g. the temperature of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils; the feeling of air on the skin just under the nose or at the tip of the nose; a feeling of movement within the chest etc.
  • Continue for 3-5 mins.

[4] For more information see Cayoun, B. A. (2011).  Mindfulness-integrated CGT: Principles and practice.  West Sussex, UK.: John Wiley and Sons.

 

APRIL FOOL! There are some things bosses just shouldn’t joke about.

Woman sleeping on desk

This time last year a big New York-based law firm told employees it was instituting a new policy eliminating work emails during night and weekend hours… and then revealed the whole thing was a joke.

Now there are some things bosses really shouldn’t joke about.

To see what happened next – the whole story is here: http://time.com/money/3768766/april-fools-joke-work-emails-law-firm/

Law as a Healing Practice

30796686_m

By Joel Orenstein

Buddhist imagery refers to compassion as being like one wing of a bird. She needs the other wing of wisdom in order to fly.

When I first decided to study an undergraduate law degree, I had made a very conscious decision, at the age of 26, to use law to strive to work for the benefit of others. At that time I had been working in refugee advocacy, and was in the fortunate position to be able to dedicate my energies to the study of a discipline that could be of assistance, on a very practical level, to those most in need.

After finishing my studies, whilst I saw others go down the traditional pathway in the law to the big firms, I never had any interest in such work. Instead I actively sort work in “poverty law” – entering the Community Legal Centre world by undertaking my articles year at Fitzroy legal Service before moving across to Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services and working in indigenous advocacy.

This was a time in my life defined by a very clear delineation in my mind between those worthy of fighting for, and the dominant power structures that needed fighting against. This dichotomy between good and evil was at the forefront of my world, and was also the backdrop of my values-based approach to lawyering that in some ways has stayed with me throughout.

During this time I sort to define myself by the type of work I did and the clients I worked for. I called myself an “activist lawyer” to distinguish myself from the self-serving and money-motivated lawyers that dominated popular culture. I identified myself with my peers working in the community sector and Legal Aid – underpaid, overworked, but righteous and proud, working for good.

You would think that working with the motivation to be of benefit to others would sustain a healthy and long career in the law. Unfortunately in my experience this is not the case, as I have witnessed many of my colleagues who have either dropped out, are miserable in their work or live with a high degree of conflict or dysfunction.

Why is it that so many of us, motivated to assist others, as not travelling so well? I know from my own case I nearly did not make it. Although perhaps outwardly my actions could have seemed compassionate and caring to others, inwardly I was terribly conflicted by righteous indignation, anger, burnout and an inflated sense of self. I would invest so much of myself in positive outcomes for clients and would suffer terribly with each tragedy or injustice that presented before me. The suffering seemed so cruel and unjustified, caused by fear and greed. I became angry with the world and those who did not share my view of it, and despairing of my inability to change it.

A decade on, and although I continue working for the same client groups dealing with much the same issues, coming up against the same power structures, somehow I have come to find peace in myself and in my work. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly have my off days, but generally I am able to find equanimity and joy in what I do. And I seem to be doing good work.

So what has changed? Over the years, with a developing wisdom, I have changed emphasis in the way that I work. Now I practice law consciously in a therapeutic way. Although I still have a certain legal outcome that I am working towards, there is an awareness of focus on the moment-to-moment process of working with clients and others within the judicial system. This involves an emphasis on mindful communication and presence, and at the same time recognising and acknowledging my own suffering and reactivity as they arise.

The result for me has been that I now work with greater balance. My prejudices have softened, relationships improved and I have much greater understanding of a positive way to facilitate change. I do not avoid conflict, and am much better able to judge when to stand strong or when to be conciliatory. Emotional awareness means that I recognise when I am heightened, angry, anxious or upset, and my emotional state does not have the same heaviness to direct my experience.

Generally therapeutic jurisprudence has looked at changing legal systems to facilitate therapeutic outcomes, as opposed to the looking at the way to work as a therapeutic lawyer within the system. My experience, however, has been that unless legal practitioners practice consciously in a therapeutic way, the prospect of therapeutic outcomes is greatly lessened.

Practicing law with motivation to work for others and instigate change without wisdom is like trying to fly with one wing. We must develop and practice insight and wisdom in the way we work, as otherwise we are bound to crash and burn.

This is moment to moment, and with practice, inevitably impacts in a positive way not only the outcomes of legal problems, but is also the source of great healing, both for others and oneself.

Sarah Rey

sarah

Is the reality of being a lawyer anything like how you imagined it?

I am generally aware of some of the shortcomings of the legal profession in terms of its lack of progress in changing the balance of women leaders in firms, at the bar and on the bench over the last thirty years; the slow response to the problem of burgeoning numbers of young law students not being able to be provided with experience and training within firms; and the poor cultural practices in some firms and legal institutions. However I have been fortunate to have worked with a range of eclectic and feisty lawyers in two firms (medium sized and the large), and followed this with 11 rewarding years establishing my own award-winning firm, Justitia, with my colleague, Mary-Jane Ierodiaconou (who has recently been appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court). With the blue sky opportunities and flexibility that running your firm enables, we have been able to create opportunities for law students to be an intrinsic part of our law firm model, and created a positive workplace culture that aspires to be innovative and different. So when I fell into the study law, little did I know that I was commencing a journey that would allow me to learn many new skills beyond just an understanding of legal principles. Through my legal training I have been able to explore entrepreneurialism and deepen my understanding of how business works and lead an organisation. So no, it has not been anything like what I might have imagined.

What are your passions outside the law?

I am interested in girls’ education, the difference it can make to them and their place in the world and how that can change the world. In the past 15 years I have been involved in the educational governance structures of seven Australian schools for girls established by an international order of sisters whose inspirational founder, Mary Ward, lived 400 years ago.
In my down time, I like traveling to foreign countries with my family so we can learn about life, culture and religions beyond our world in Melbourne. We have been fortunate to have experienced a wide array of countries and cultures and met many diverse people. I would like my children to feel part of a wider world, that extends beyond our Australian borders.
When I have more time, I would like to write up some family history involving a Jewish relative during the second world war, and do something with a treasure trove of taped interviews with student politicians which I conducted in the 1980s.

If you could give one bit of advice to new lawyers, what would it be?

If you have a passion to practice a particular type of law, or work in a particular part of the profession, do not be deterred if you do not get there on the first attempt. There are many ways to create opportunities and make oneself attractive to a prospective employer. Sometimes it pays to think outside the box. Industry knowledge and skills can be obtained through other related, and even non-legal, roles, and then you can knock on the door again of the organisation which previously declined your application, and say, this is what I now have to offer. Importantly it can help to show passion and that you will go to great lengths to obtain the desired job. If you aren’t feeling any passion for your job, perhaps you should ask if it is right for you.

What makes a lawyer a great lawyer?

I think a great lawyer is someone who sets their own emotions to one side, providing dispassionate, logical, reasoned advice to their client. The great lawyer has excellent people skills, and high emotional intelligence, and can communicate effectively, clearly and compassionately with their client, reading the landscape and taking into account all the elements that bear on their advice. The great lawyer is ready to do battle on behalf of their client where necessary. The great lawyer can find a cost effective and lasting solution.

What at the hazards of this profession?

One hazard is staying in a job because you are paid well, but you feel no passion for or connection with either the subject matter or the people with whom you work. We can sometimes be sucked in to thinking that life is all about money and status. But it may not be the right place to be, and the cost of sustained unhappiness and non-fulfilment, or remaining in a dysfunctional workplace, can be high. Instead it is important to ask is this the right place for me, and if not, seek advice from friends and colleagues to ascertain where might be the right fit for one’s skills and priorities. And I would repeat the shortcomings I identified above.

How do you balance life and work?

I cycle to work, which is 10 km from home and helps me keep my stress levels down; I actively pursue my friendships so that I have emotional support in daily life; I remain involved in my children’s lives, though sometimes it is worth checking in with them to find out if they think you are actually as present as you think you are; I am involved in organisations outside of law which shows me my legal skills have some value outside of my workplace and this is a confidence boost; and I work in my own business which means I have flexibility and control over my workload to lead a balanced life and pursue diverse interests.

What is your best tip for maintaining sanity in the law?

Don’t sweat the small things. Nothing lasts forever. As Heraklitus, the Greek philosopher said: we step into the same river, and yet it is not the same river, as you never step twice into the same river. Nothing rests, everything passes, nothing lasts, cold becomes warm, warm becomes cold, wet dries, and dryness becomes wet…. Everything has its day. Things change, and we need to be adaptive and be able to move along with that change.

Bio
Sarah is the managing partner of Justitia, an established workplace relations law firm in Melbourne and serving clients nationally. Justitia has won multiple awards from bodies such as the LIV’s “Law Firm of the Year” and AHRI’s “Sir Ken Robinson Award for Workforce Flexibility”, recognising its unique work culture and excellent client service. www.justitia.com.au @SarahMRrey

Trigger warnings and compassion at Law School

Compassion

Dear peers

You might have missed a discussion of trigger warnings in the introductory lecture to your law unit. This is understandable as the cautionary statement is usually delivered somewhere between your lecturer’s office hours and announcing the upcoming welcome BBQ. In all likeliness it was a blanket statement on the unit’s content, warning against graphic themes and acknowledging that any student is welcome to leave the lectures if they feel they must. While trigger warnings are incorporated into the general administration of law school, they do not guarantee that potentially triggering topics will be treated with caution or respect. Sadly, compassion cannot be mandated by the law faculty.

Arguably more important than the inclusion or improvement of trigger warnings is a change to attitudes among teaching staff and students. Contrary to the exhibited taste of many law students and even staff: violence, sexual offences and hate crimes are actually not funny. If you are privileged enough not to have been affected by these crimes, empathy should dictate that you appreciate the gravity of them. Nothing, and especially not a trigger warning, can validate treating a serious topic with callousness.

The general justification for a lack of compassion at law school is that your studies are a gateway into the ‘real world’ where a lawyer is supposedly exposed to the worst of humanity and expected to grin and bear it. Putting aside the fact that not every student takes a law degree to work in the legal industry, this line of thinking is problematic. Though you might have chosen law as a career to ‘make money’, chances are that wherever you end up working, a little compassion won’t go to waste. Whether it means you understand your client, colleagues or even yourself a little better, consideration and empathy will set you in good stead for a future in the law.

 

 

On the benefits of a wandering mind

Insightfeb2016

by Bernadette Healy

Where do you go to my lovely when you’re alone with your head?[1]

Have you had one of those lovely, just-post-return-from-holiday moments when you find your mind wandering from thought to thought: such as on the bike, just getting to the top of that climb, at a major gradient over a grueling number of kilometres; or that morning reading that crime novel without interruption for 2.25 hours; perhaps the walk along the coast; or watching the Making a Murderer series (and in record time!); maybe mastering the creation of your favourite Adam Liaw dish; or enjoying your traditional post-Christmas get-together with the people of your choice; watching one of the glorious early 2016 sunsets; dancing to the last song of a great evening; or just allowing yourself to aimlessly move from one thought to the next without intention or deliberate focus on anything in particular.

Allowing this process  of ‘mind wandering’  (whereas day dreaming, by contrast, may involve quite deliberate focused thought[2]) at the least may provide you with a sufficient level of distraction to provide a restorative break from your task. However research suggests that during such moments your brain is involved in complex and sophisticated cognitive processes. During mind wandering, the brain is highly active across many regions including those involved in executive function[3].  Those moments which you probably describe as not thinking, are actually moments when you are using large parts of your brain.  You are thinking when you don’t think you are thinking – an under-rated human skill[4].

Data from ECG, MRI and alpha brain wave measurement indicate that, even when you think you are not thinking, your brain is occupied in carrying out non-conscious cognition or structurally sophisticated, multi-dimensional integrative neural processes.  Non-conscious cognition involves neural processes that integrate knowledge into understanding by processing knowledge, making connections and identifying complex patterns, all of which are involved in creative problem solving – including assisting you in the long-term generation of solutions for issues being faced in your life[5].  Research suggests that purposefully allowing yourself the time and space for your mind to wander can be an effective method of facilitating the type of creative or insightful thinking which leads to the experienced of  ‘aha’ moments. Creative thinking has long been recognised as enhancing the production of both quality and quantity of new ideas, however new technologies have provided evidence to suggest that such creative thinking may also be actively facilitated by allowing specific incubation time for the non-conscious cognition to occur[6].  Some research even suggests that the brain prepares in distinctive ways for problem solving – even before the problem is presented – and that this preparation type modulates the problem solving strategy.[7]

Phenomenological and inferential processes are an essential part of these research areas as the actual processes cannot be observed directly and are interrupted as soon as thoughts are directed.  It is a new and exciting area and not surprisingly full of controversy and discussion including questioning the previously unquestioned centrality of conscious awareness as a precondition for thinking.

I think it would be accurate to say that mostly people try to keep a low profile about times when they allow themselves to mind-wander – particularly at work. In future however it may be that booths for glass-eyed staring are purposefully created along the window side of corporate offices as the benefits of utilizing the brains natural ability to maximize its own flexibility and responsiveness become better understood. In the mean time you might like to be a trail-blazer in this area by regularly and blatantly submitting to this wondrous natural facility.  At the very least, keep a ten-minute non-focused doodling sojourn in mind next time you find yourself at the impasse stage of a complex problem looking for new ways forward.

 

 

 

[1] If this phrase triggers a musical memory, you are either an oldie like myself and/or one of those Rock Wiz types… or offspring of either of the above subjected at an early age to recordings such as  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8XQZYIiNgo

[2] Claire M. Zedelius and Jonathon W. Schooler,  ‘Mind wandering ‘Ahas’ versus mindful reasoning: alternative routes to creating solutions’, Cognition, Frontiers in Psychology, June 2015.

[3] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511180702.htm

[4] Dr Caitlin Street Joining our own dots  Lecture in Diamond Series: Education conversations in the community, Malthouse Theatre 26th November 2015 (and see Dr Street’s PhD thesis available on line and including description of the unique technology developed and utilized as a way of presenting her thesis findings in visual and interactive form).

[5] Street ibid.

[6] Ut Na Sio and Thomas C Ormerod, Does incubation Enhance Problem Solving? A Meta Analytic Review Psychological Bulletin 2009, Vol. 135, No.1, 94-120

[7] Kounios ibid.

In Praise of Doing Nothing

inpraiseofdoingnothing

 

By Stephen Tang

With the late arrival of streaming video services to Australia (legally, at least), we never got to use the phrase “Netflix and chill” in its plain and ordinary meaning. The success of its transformation into a slightly creepy euphemism probably depended on its original innocence: the joy of passive entertainment and the joy of switching off by switching on.

For a time, “Netflix and chill” succinctly gave fresh expression to a certain kind of pleasure which I fear is on the verge of extinction: doing nothing. Well, not quite nothing, but a restorative retreat to a comfy state of rest.

We’re of course all different in what this looks like. It may be watching an entire season of a show (it’ll take 1 day and 22 hours if you want to catch up on all of Breaking Bad), re-reading a trashy novel, cooking up some comfort food, or planting tomatoes in the spring. It’s not necessarily about alone time either, although as an introvert that’s where I find myself most often.

Idle restoration could also be found in the familiar rhythm of a regular catch-up with old friends, or unrushed and agenda-less time with your partner. Those with higher baseline levels of activity might find their default rhythm in a familiar run or gym routine.

What’s in common is that returning to this state is something that comes so naturally, so effortlessly and so mindlessly. There’s nothing particularly novel, demanding or even memorable about the activity. Indeed, what can be an effortful act of choosing what to do vanishes altogether through habit and familiarity, or by having choices made for you. Time passes with languid ease, and we feel refreshed afterwards. Continue reading

All I want for Xmas Is…

36321549_m

by Bernadette Healy

Wish list for families at Christmas

Christmas is a time for connection and joy but it can also be a pretty tough time for some of us. Whether you are someone for whom Christmas is a bit of a non-event or someone for whom Christmas triggers strong emotion, it is a time for all of us to reflect about how we want to be in relation to others. Here are some tips that might be helpful:
• Allow each other to be just how they are – and let go of yearning for them to be how you (or others) would prefer them to be
• Let yourself define your own experience and throw out any feeling or sense of having a template which has been given to you by other family members
• Be aware that labels and expectations are handed out to most of us during our childhood but we can each decide as adults what we regard as important values to live by now and learn to resist the pressure to satisfy the outdated expectations others have of us
• Don’t punish others by excluding them for not interacting in the manner you prefer or regard as the way to be
• Try and foster the opportunity to discuss differences of opinion and make it a conversation in which feelings are shared and in which each individual takes responsibility for their own reactions and resists the temptation to blame others
• Reflect on any no-go family dynamic conversation zones and live to tell the tale
• Share a conversation without employing your inner critic to yourself
• Actively try and show tolerance by listening, by showing interest in others such as by asking questions about them, by not interrupting even when you are bored or have a great point to make and by reciprocation through volunteering something about yourself
• Treat in-laws and new partners and ex-partners and step-family members and anyone else equally
• Question and resist any pressure to choose a side
• Allow yourself to enjoy the company of whoever you choose to at your family functions without succumbing to the influence of others as to the status and merit of various individuals
• Avoid being a party to bullying
• Laugh together but not at the expense of another
• Be kind