Hibiscus Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Kefir Whipped Cream

There are few things more quintessential of summer than strawberry rhubarb pie. It’s a summer signature for a reason—the combination of sweet strawberry with sour rhubarb make it irresistible to nearly everyone.

Make it even more impressive with the addition of hibiscus tea. Hibiscus possesses a gently tart, almost cranberry-esque flavor, making it an ideal pairing with this classic combination. We also love that it’s nestled inside a bed of buttery crust and topped with kefir-based cream. Say hello to your next seasonal staple. 


INGREDIENTS

Filling:
4 cups finely diced rhubarb (make sure to select rhubarb that is deeply red in color)
1 pound strawberries, trimmed and finely diced (about 4 cups)
2 tbsp dried hibiscus flower petals
1/4 cup honey
2 cups water
Generous pinch of kosher salt
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Pie Crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (8 ounces) Lifeway Cultured Kefir Butter, chilled and cubed
1/2 cup ice water

Topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream (32-36% butterfat)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup Lifeway Organic Whole-Milk Kefir

INSTRUCTIONS

For the filling:  In a deep heat-proof bowl, mix the rhubarb and strawberries. In a large saucepan, combine the hibiscus, honey, water, and kosher salt and bring the mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then pour it over the strawberries and rhubarb. Allow the fruit to steep until it cools.

Once cooled, drain the strawberries and rhubarb into a sieve to catch the liquid. Return the fruit to its original bowl. Transfer the steeping liquid to a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook to reduce to a syrup, or 8 to 10 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool. Once it has cooled, fold it back into the strawberries and rhubarb, then add the sherry vinegar, mint, and basil. Mix and let stand.

For the pie crust: Preheat the oven to 425. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it is just incorporated and sandy. Slowly add the ice water into the bowl and mix quickly until the dough is just barely incorporated, then let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Unwrap the dough and let it rest for 5 minutes at room temperature. Using a roller, hit the middle of the ball of dough once, then turn it 90 degrees and hit it again—you will see a cross in the middle of the dough. Begin to roll out the dough, turning it 90 degrees each time until it is about ¼ inch thick. Fold the dough in half, then in half again. Place the corner of the folded dough into the center of standard 9-inch pie pan and unfold, working the dough into the shape of the pan. Let is rest in the refrigerator, uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Place a piece of parchment paper into the pie shell and fill it with pie weights, uncooked rice, or dried beans. Place the pie shell in the center of the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and the weights and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Let it cool on a rack.

For the topping: In the chilled bowl of a mixer, combine the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the kefir.

To plate: Fill the pie shell with the fruit and syrup mixture, then top it with the whipped cream mixture.

Step saver: Use store-bought pie crust to save time. Or skip the pie crust all together and enjoy the filling and the topping all on their own.

rhubarb pie

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The post Hibiscus Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Kefir Whipped Cream appeared first on Wanderlust.

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The Invisible Effects of Social Media: When It’s Time to Stop Scrolling

What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” ~Unknown

Is there a more precious commodity than time? It’s the currency of life; the most basic finite resource, and we have a responsibility to spend it wisely. It’s up to us each individually to figure out what that means to us. For me, that means being mindful of the people, activities, and thoughts to which I give my time and energy.

I am an obsessive reader, and at any one time I have at least fifteen books checked out of the library. I tell myself that I won’t check out any more books until I’ve finished reading the ones I’ve already borrowed, but I never listen and I’m glad for it, because reading is one of the wisest and most enjoyable ways I can spend my time.

I try to be cognizant of what grows my spirit and what shrinks it, and I aim to use my time accordingly.

But this is hardly an easy task, especially with the constant lure of technology and smartphones. Unlike with books, the escape these devices offer can quickly lead me down a rabbit hole of anxiety where I feel my inspiration leaking away and self-doubt taking its place.

Whether this is because I’m feeling guilty for wasting so much time, tired from staring at an electronic screen so long, or because I’m negatively comparing myself to other people, I know that my time can be put to better use.

I often end these technology binges with a nagging sense of emptiness and, despite the vast array of connection offered by technology, a vague feeling of disconnection as well. I don’t want to scroll my day away, yet sometimes feel compelled to do it.

We all have a basic need to belong, and social media’s popularity can be boiled down to its ability to tap into that need. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the complexities and imperfections of real life are often glossed over or edited out entirely. To compare your real life to someone else’s crafted digital persona is unfair and unrealistic, and it sets you up for disappointment.

Social media can also taunt us by bombarding us with the adventures of people better left in our past.

I didn’t fully appreciate this hurtful effect until my social media usage worsened a recent experience of heartbreak. Like a bullet in the back, my screen suddenly and completely filled with him. And not just him, but his new girlfriend too.

It wasn’t long before the photo left the confines of the screen and filled my room and my mind; my entire world became consumed with memories of when he held me that way and the accompanying feelings of sorrow, loss, anger, and jealousy.

I thought strength meant I shouldn’t be affected by something as silly and trivial as Facebook or Instagram, but no matter how much I don’t want to be affected, the truth is that I am. And the effect social media can have on our feelings of self-worth is not trivial.

Only when I accepted this did I begin to move toward easing the pain of heartbreak. The first step was using my time not for social media obsession, but for reflective writing and poetry, which are activities that provide me with real, sustainable healing.

When I do use social media, I make sure my feed is filled with posts that I enjoy seeing and that help me grow rather than make me feel smaller. And I share posts that are an expression of my inner feelings or at least can make someone laugh.

I have also made a commitment to be present with myself and my emotions, without judgment, instead of using social media to distract myself from my feelings. This mindful practice, though difficult, is worth the effort because it allows me to strengthen my ability to treat emotions as valid but fleeting, rather than being in resistance or letting them consume me.

Heartbreak and pain are part of the human experience. It helps to remind myself that I am not alone and to reach out to loved ones—offline—and let myself be vulnerable enough to express what I’m going through. For me, too much social media actually dampens my sense of connection to others because I tend to retreat when I start believing my life is not as exciting or meaningful as other people’s.

I’ve learned to limit the time I spend fueling insecurity with social media and to fill that time either with mindful scrolling or something else entirely. I keep in mind that this technology is the new terrain on the landscape of communications, and it can be a fantastic and fun tool if I navigate and utilize it responsibly.

This article is most likely reaching you via a social media channel, and I’m thankful for the opportunity this provides for sharing work that elevates our awareness and consciousness. Because of social media, I’ve increased my exposure to websites and channels that facilitate personal growth, such as Tiny Buddha, but I’ve had to learn to become more mindful of when it’s okay to unwind online and when it’s harmful.

Sometimes I need a break, and watching a video of cats that are afraid of cucumbers or hopping from one newsfeed to the next can be a good stress reliever. I also find that pausing occasionally during creative activities gives ideas the necessary time to simmer below the surface until they are ready to come to light, and social media can be a good way to give my mind a break.

I know I need to stop scrolling when I feel a shift in my emotions; when the lighthearted fun of connecting virtually and the joy of sharing my creative work with people all over the world becomes a self-imposed prison of mindlessness. I don’t want to allow my precious time to tick away in a stream of posts and updates. When I feel this shift, I know it is best to turn off my device, take a few deep breaths, and turn my attention and time to something more enriching.

I also realize now that it’s more beneficial to be present with my surroundings rather than tuning out into a digital world during every available moment. On walks, commutes, and at the dinner table I enjoy being fully present with the people and things around me, as well as my own sensations and feelings.

These small moments of togetherness and solitude are fertile with opportunity for self-reflection, presence, and connection, but only if I resist the temptation to compulsively check my smartphone.

The key here is to become aware of how often we reach for our phones so we can examine how we spend our time and whether we can put some of that time to better use.

I’ve caught myself multiple times at the beginning of an unproductive scrolling session and made the intention to put my phone down after ten minutes so I don’t get too lost in a cycle of posts and updates. And on other days I could use a good cat vs. cucumber video, and that’s okay too; it’s all about balance and awareness.

Social media can be a good thing when we use it responsibly. Whether we are scrolling, sipping a cup of tea, or having a conversation, cultivating mindful presence can only enrich our experiences. This, I believe, is how we can wisely utilize the small amount of time we are afforded.

When I dip into moments of deep, full presence, the only response that springs forth is gratitude, and I can think of no better way to spend my time than in a state of appreciation.

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

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9 Lessons from my 9-Month-Old Nephew, Who’s Taught Me How to Live

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ~William Arthur Ward

Oliver.

Ahh, my heart skips a beat at just the sound of his name.

In 2018, a tiny human being arrived on the planet, one who would change my life. In the short nine months my nephew Oliver has been in my life, I’ve learned a lot. I’m not talking about changing nappies and bottle-feeding, although I’m getting to grips with these essentials too. No, Oliver has taught me valuable lessons about life itself. Here are nine of the biggest.

1. Love and be loved.

Those who meet Oli can’t help but love him. He has big, beautiful, blue eyes and a smile that you can’t help but reciprocate.

Although he’s beautiful on the outside, it’s his spirit I love most. He’s gentle, innocent, and curious. I see the good in him, and even though I know he’ll make mistakes as he grows up, I also know it won’t change my unconditional love for him.

Loving Oli in this way has taught me to be more loving and less judgmental of others because I recognize that in every adult there’s an innocent child who’s just trying to do their best.

This has also helped me better open up and receive love. I feel how deeply I want to help Oli, and how much it means to me when I can, which makes me more receptive when others want to help me.

2. Make time to play.

Oliver’s social schedule is impressive, better than most adults! He goes to birthday parties, visits family, has trips out, not to mention the numerous baby classes he attends. Regardless of where he is, whether it’s a class with friends or a rainy day spent at home, I can count on one thing—he’s playing!

One morning, while watching Oli play, I asked myself, “Do I make enough time to play?” Adulting can be a serious matter at times, but that’s not to say we can’t pass time in a way that lights us up. Maybe I’m a little old to play with toy cars (or maybe not). Still, it’s important I make time for fun.

So I now make time to play piano and watch movies instead of telling myself these things are unimportant, and I try to infuse a spirit of play into everything I do instead of taking it all so seriously.

3. Praise ourselves.

Recently, my sister taught Oli the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands.” He’s always a little out of time, but he’s mastered clapping itself. It melts my heart to see him clapping away with his mini hands.

I hope when he’s a little older, he’ll clap for himself after all his accomplishments and learn to praise himself for a job well done. Children are usually great at this. Sadly, when we become adults, we become more critical of ourselves, and words of praise become words of criticism. We become our own worst enemies, which makes it hard to ever feel happy, proud, or successful.

I formed a habit at the end of last year, to praise myself for three achievements at the each of day. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. I simply praise myself. I’m a lot less critical of myself since starting this ritual—and a lot happier as a result!

4. Give encouragement.

“C’mon, you can do it.” This seems to be my catchphrase when I’m spending quality time with my nephew. He’s forever on the move, grabbing on to the side of the sofa and pulling himself up slowly.

Rather than helping him directly, I sit back, smile, and encourage because I want to support his growth instead of just doing things for him. If my family are in the room, they’ll join in and it begins to feel like we’re a group of cheerleaders rooting for our favorite sports team.

Oli loves encouragement. Don’t we all? Life can be challenging sometimes, and hearing someone say, “I believe in you” can help us push through when we’re tempted to give up.

I now put more energy into encouraging my loved ones—and myself. Replacing my inner dialogue from negative, doubtful messages to pure encouragement has been life changing. Our thoughts determine our feelings, which influence our actions. For this reason, even a little self-encouragement can dramatically transform our lives.

5. Express how you feel.

Another important lesson Oliver has taught me, and taught me well, is to express how you feel. When Oli is hungry or tired you know about it! He doesn’t hold back. And he always gets his needs met as a result.

For a long time when I was living with anxiety, I wore a mask and hid my real feelings, putting on a “brave face.” I was afraid of being judged and I falsely believed that “real men” shouldn’t show weakness or ask for help.

I’ve gotten better at expressing how I feel, though there’s still room for improvement. As a result, I’m also better able to move past my challenges and get what I need.

6. Be determined.

One of Oliver’s cutest idiosyncrasies is his growl. He’s one determined little man, and his determined actions are always backed by a “GRRRR.” He’s advanced for his age, and I bet it’s because of his determination. If he fails the first time around, he tries again.

As adults, we’re sometimes too quick to form conclusions about what’s possible and what we’re capable of doing. Babies don’t have this kind of internal monologue—they just keep going when they have a goal in their sights!

Watching Oli has inspired me during recent challenges to really dig deep, get determined, and keep on going.

7. Know when to rest.

As playful and determined as he is, Oliver knows when it’s time for a nap.

In the past I’ve been guilty of pushing too hard, working too long, and not resting enough. I sometimes think I’ll get more done if I work harder and longer—probably because I often heard growing up “You can be successful if you work hard.” But I’m actually more effective if I allow myself to stop working and rest when I’m tired, since I can then come back stronger and recharged later or the next day.

I may not require as much sleep as a baby, but I do need to listen to when my mind and body is saying “enough.” It’s not about working harder, but smarter.

8. Try new things.

The last time I saw Oliver, my family and I took him to the English seaside for the first ever time. It was a cold and windy day, but we didn’t let the weather prevent us from having a great time. We walked for hours along the coastline, breathing in the salty sea air and listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.

Having a baby in the family is the perfect reason to go and experience all the world has to offer, to show them its wonders for the first time.

As adults, our lives can get routine. We drive to work the same way, eat the same foods, and see the same people day to day. According to Tony Robbins, one of our six core needs is the need for uncertainty—or variety. Without new experiences, life starts to get boring.

There’s so much joy to be had when we enter the realm of the new with a curious pair of eyes. Trying new things also helps us discover new things about ourselves—new interests or strengths, or traits we didn’t know we had.

After this outing with my family, I made a list of new things I’d like to experience, from foods to devour to countries to explore. I may be far beyond Oil’s age, but we’re never too old to try new things.

9. Live in the present.

Perhaps the biggest lesson my nephew has taught me is to live in the present moment. He has no concept of time. The past and the future don’t exist in Oli’s world; he lives completely in and for the present, which ultimately, is the only time we can ever live in.

Oliver hasn’t yet learned how to remember. He hasn’t learned how to worry. He is pure. Like we all were at one time. If he falls down, he forgets it quickly and goes right back to playing, completely connected to the joy of what he’s doing.

It’s never too late, I believe, to return to living life in the present. Although over the years, thoughts may have pulled our focus like a tug of war rope, back and forth, between the past and future, we can always return to the now, right now.

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The post 9 Lessons from my 9-Month-Old Nephew, Who’s Taught Me How to Live appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

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My Needs Matter Too: How I Started Speaking Up and Setting Boundaries

“Setting boundaries is a way of caring for myself. It doesn’t make me mean, selfish, or uncaring just because I don’t do things your way. I care about me, too.” ~Christine Morgan

In my early twenties, I could shout into a megaphone at a political rally of thousands, but I couldn’t decline drinks from strangers at the bar. I could perform original music for an attentive audience, but I couldn’t tell my friends when I felt hurt by something they’d said. I could start a business, advocate for new laws at City Hall, and share deeply personal poetry on Facebook, but I simply couldn’t speak up for myself in moments of conflict.

At the time, I had no idea that boundary setting and speaking up were systemic issues millions of people struggled with. I didn’t understand that my inability to set boundaries probably originated in my childhood as the cumulative result of my untended emotional needs.

I just thought I wasn’t trying hard enough.

I judged myself mercilessly for being unable set boundaries. I spent many mornings scribbling viciously in my journal, unpacking the previous day’s events. These are unedited excerpts:

“She asked to reschedule our meeting, and even though I promised myself I’d never schedule an early-morning phone call again, I did—for 7:00am. Ugh. Why didn’t I just ask her to reschedule?”

“I resent him so deeply for how he treated me, but when I saw him in the coffee shop yesterday, I acted like everything was peachy keen. What the hell? I’m so frustrated. How do I get better at standing up for myself??”

Woven tightly around my self-judgment was a thick mesh of confusion. I was the type of person who looked forward to therapy, hoarded self-improvement books, and spent evenings with girlfriends unraveling the scrappy tangles of our psyches. I liked understanding myself. You can imagine, then, that I was totally and completely flummoxed by my inability to understand—never mind remedy—my people-pleasing habit.

Most of the time, the thought of saying no—to friends, family, lovers, and colleagues—simply didn’t enter my mind space. No matter how uncomfortable or unsafe I felt, the only future that felt available to me was one in which I pleased the offending person and later felt victimized and resentful.

Other times, when I felt brave enough to simply entertain the notion of saying no, I felt a heaviness in my chest and a closing in my throat. The words literally couldn’t escape my mouth.

My friends who had no issues setting boundaries were wary of my explanations. To them, setting a boundary was like swatting an annoying gnat. But to me, it was like battling a saber-toothed tiger.

I wish I’d known then what I know now: that boundary setting isn’t a simple box to check off of your self-care to-do list. It represents a complicated matrix of issues related to one’s family of origin, socialization, limiting beliefs, and, most importantly, one’s relationship with oneself. Setting boundaries is the final step on an extensive journey of self-reflection and diligent practice. Had I understood this years ago, I would have been able to reassure myself:

You are not weak.

You are not stupid.

You are doing the best that you can.

We set boundaries to protect ourselves. In order to protect ourselves effectively, we need to know what we’re protecting. Developing a rich understanding of our own needs, desires, values, and vision gives us the firm sense of identity we need to keep from wavering in our commitment to speak our truth.

When I didn’t have a clear sense of who I was or what I wanted, it was easy to let others define me; wait for others to speak up for me; resent people who didn’t proactively predict or meet my needs; prioritize others’ needs over my own; and seek value from external sources, like whether others liked me or found me attractive. Combined, these tendencies were painfully disempowering. I often felt like a shadow of myself.

I first began to build a solid sense of identity after I went through a devastating breakup with a long-term partner. My codependency had been a contributing factor to our separation, and I was finally beginning to understand that I couldn’t expect others—lovers, parents, friends, or colleagues—to be my purpose for living.

I also couldn’t allow external measures of success—like climbing the career ladder, losing weight, or winning awards—to be the driving forces behind my behavior.

I had to go deeper. Here’s how I did it.

Step 1: Meet your fundamental needs.

At first, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I mean, how do you build an identity?

In that fragile state of post-breakup unknowing, questions like “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” or “What direction do you want to take your business in?” were enough to reduce me to tears. I didn’t know what direction I wanted my career to go in. I didn’t even know how I would get through the weekend.

What I did know was that I wanted Kava tea before bed, and that I couldn’t sleep without lavender oil in my diffuser, and that going on long walks around the park with my best friend made my heart feel lighter.

As I explain in my previous post about discovering what you want when you’re a people-pleaser, these mild, uncomplicated wants were sacred whispers from my innermost self. By pursuing these small desires, I learned to trust myself.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs gave me a helpful roadmap as I became more accustomed to taking care of myself.

Recovering people-pleasers like me rarely meet our own needs and/or prioritize others’ needs instead. Oftentimes, we neglect even our most elementary needs at the bottom of the hierarchy.

In the past, for example, I regularly cancelled dentist appointments and annual physicals, though I fiercely encouraged others in my life to take good care of themselves. I didn’t get enough sleep and postponed trips to the grocery store.

Only when I began to meet these primary needs did other, more complex desires arise. We must meet our own fundamental needs on a regular basis in order to construct the firm foundation upon which our sense of identity will be built.

Step 2: Uncover your core identity.

Over months, I slowly climbed Maslow’s hierarchy, continuing with basic self-care as more vibrant desires surfaced. I began to crave rich social connections, meaningful bonds with family members, travel, and dancing. My natural curiosity, which I hadn’t felt connected to in years, awakened.

Ultimately, I found myself considering how I could make the most of my life—how I could self-actualize and “become the most that one can be.” I considered the following questions during my morning journaling sessions:

  • Vision: What do I want my future to look like?
  • Identity: Who am I and what roles do I play?
  • Values: Which principles or morals most resonate with me?
  • Skills: What abilities do I possess?
  • Desires: What do I crave?

Exploring my identity across multiple planes gave me the chance to learn how expansive I actually was.

For starters, I possessed far more skills that I’d ever given myself credit for! I was uniquely empathic, a good listener, organized, and great at designing systems.

I learned that I valued personal freedom, self-expression, financial responsibility, and playfulness.

As someone who was recovering from a codependent romantic relationship, I was stunned to remember that I was sister, a daughter, a coach, a community leader, a best friend, and more.

Wide-eyed, I realized that I was so much more than the shadow-self I’d felt like months before.

I’d spent so much time defining myself by others that this simple exercise—putting my pen to paper and exploring myself for thirty minutes—was a milestone: not only because of what I discovered, but because I took the time for myself to do it at all.

Take some time to explore your own roles, values, morals, abilities, and desires. It’s easier to set boundaries to protect the things that matter to you most when you’re clear on what those things are.

Step 3: Bring your authentic self to your relationships.

In retrospect, that early period of self-discovery was the most profound period of my life to date. It was characterized by the uncompromising commitment to prioritize my innermost self. Most importantly, those months provided me the firm foundation I needed to bring my authentic self to my relationships with others.

Boundary setting is like working a muscle—difficult and exhausting at first, but eventually, second nature. With this new understanding in hand, I began to tentatively set firm and healthy boundaries in my relationships.

At first, simply saying no to a party invitation was a challenge. But I did it.

Not long after, I set non-negotiable work hours and withdrew from a few extracurricular commitments that no longer served me. It was hard, but also felt totally righteous.

As I pocketed these small successes, setting harder boundaries felt less impossible. Eventually, I told best friends when their actions upset me; terminated romantic partnerships that weren’t meeting my needs; and unpacked old childhood hurts with my parents. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dance around my kitchen once or twice—okay, definitely twice!—totally overjoyed that boundary setting was coming more easily to me.

After each difficult conversation, rocky though it may have been, a weight lifted from my chest. In the absence of that weight, I could navigate the world more freely. I noticed that I was more present for my clients, more playful with my friends, and more authentic with my family. Relationships that had once been a source of resentment finally felt nourishing because I was bringing my full self to the table.

Notice when you’re being inauthentic in your relationships so can you start creating this same freedom for yourself. Practice communicating what you think, want, and need and sharing how you honestly feel. Once you start working this muscle, it becomes much easier to set boundaries in all areas of your life.

It’s A Lifelong Journey

Putting my truth into action is a lifelong journey because my truth is always changing. My relationships grow, my needs shift, and my identity—the very bedrock of who I am and what I’m protecting—transforms.

Years later, I still occasionally find myself challenged by moments of confrontation. In those moments, I always harken back to the fiercely empowering truth that I set these boundaries to protect the vibrant inner self that I’ve come to know and respect.

I like to remember that this journey may not be linear.

I like to remember the progress I’ve made so far.

Most importantly, I like to remember to have patience and compassion for this inner self of mine. She has become so brave. She exposes herself to the elements, and risks being seen, known, and loved by herself and by others.

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Take Back Your Time

Right now, I can feel the tight squeeze of stress in my stomach. This morning, I got a call from a close friend needing support, which prevented me from starting this article. At any moment, I expect one of my coworkers to email me asking for help with a last-minute assignment. And I’m set to leave my desk early for a dentist appointment, after which I’ll rush home to cook a late dinner.

I’m under time pressure—and I know I’m not alone. If you’re a woman, or a single parent, or practically anyone living in today’s go-go-go American society, you probably are, too. When researchers surveyed Americans before 2011, about half said they almost never had time on their hands and two-thirds said they sometimes or always felt rushed (though a more recent study suggests things may be improving a bit).

As researcher Cassie Mogilner and her colleagues write in a 2012 paper, “With waking hours largely consumed by work, precious minutes remain for the daily list of to-dos, including exercise, cleaning, and socializing with friends and family.”

At first glance, the issue seems straightforward. Time pressure comes down to a lack of time, right? Well, partly. It’s the feeling that we don’t have enough time to do what we want to do—but it turns out that feelings and enough and wants are somewhat subjective.

From 1965 to 2003, the average American workweek actually declined by three hours, while leisure time increased. And in many places in the developed world, the workweek has gotten even shorter since then. In one study of more than 7,000 working Australians, researchers declared that time pressure is an “illusion.” They estimated how much time is necessary for basic living—hours of paid work, housework, and personal care—and compared it to how much free time people had in their actual schedules. It turns out there was a big discrepancy, which was most extreme for households without children and smallest for single parents.

“Those who feel most overworked—those who have least ‘free time’—largely do it to themselves,” the researchers wrote. In other words, we could theoretically spend fewer hours making money, vacuuming and washing dishes, or cooking and eating, and we’d get by without getting overwhelmed.

Although you may not want to subsist just above the poverty line or give your kids as little attention as possible, the broader point is important: Tight-squeezy time stress has to do with the things we value and the time we devote to them. And, other research suggests, it also relates to our attitudes and mindsets about time. Rather than always blaming the clock, we can find some roots of the time crunch deep in our own psychology. Here are some scientific insights to help you make a distinction between real stopwatch pressure and the unnecessary pressure you might be putting on yourself.

Four Ways to Take Back Your Time

1. Ask yourself: What makes my time fly?

In a 2004 study of nearly 800 working people in Ohio, researchers were confronted with a puzzle.

When women did more than 10 hours of housework a week, they felt more pressed for time and in turn more depressed. But when men did the same amount of housework, they didn’t. A similar pattern appeared for volunteering: Men who volunteered more were less depressed, but women got time stressed and didn’t seem to experience as much benefit.

The explanation that the researchers came up with, bolstered by people’s accounts of how they spent their time, was that men tend to do more enjoyable housework and volunteering. They cut the grass and coach soccer teams; they get into flow and feel a sense of accomplishment. Women, on the other hand, are often occupied with small, repetitive daily chores and service work: less cheering and high-fiving and more trying not to fall asleep at school meetings.

Unsurprisingly, a day packed with somewhat engaging activities feels less busy and stressful than a day of drudgery. If time flies (in a good way) when you’re having fun, it also seems to fly (in a bad way) when you’re not. This subjective element might have created more of a sense of time pressure in women who participated in the study, even if men’s activities equaled or exceeded theirs in hours.

One study found that people who are more passionate, who aspire to do things that matter to them at work, aren’t as rushed and harried as others.

A similar effect takes place at work. In one study, researchers surveyed more than 2,500 employees at a technology company and a financial services company. They found that people who are more passionate, who aspire to do things that matter to them at work, aren’t as rushed and harried as others.

If you feel short on time, you might simply not be enjoying the activities that fill up your schedule. Life can be like that sometimes, but if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it might help to add one more thing to your day—something that keeps you engaged.

2. Stop competing with yourself

Why does passion seem to free up our time? The researchers who observed this phenomenon wanted to discover what was really going on.

They found a clue when they asked employees about how conflicted or aligned their goals were. Employees lacking in passion said that their goals were competing with each other, fighting for time and attention; for example, the drive to do well at work might make it hard to get home for dinner with the family. But passionate employees were different: They saw their goals as supporting each other. After all, healthy home cooking and family bonding might give them more energy and motivation tomorrow.

So, time pressure isn’t just about how enjoyable our activities are, but also how well they fit together in our heads. One study found that people who simply think about conflicting goals—like saving money vs. buying nice things, or being healthy vs. eating tasty foods—feel more stressed and anxious, and in turn shorter on time.

Knox College professor Tim Kasser, an expert on materialism who coauthored a seminal paper on time scarcity, once joked, “If every research project that I’m currently working on right now was a cat living in my house, it would be very clear that I had a problem.” If your to-do list feels like a herd of hungry felines, all in competition for your one can of food, it’s no wonder you’re overwhelmed.

While we may freely choose some tasks on our plate, others are largely the product of our society or culture, says Australian National University professor Lyndall Strazdins, who has spent the last decade trying to show how time scarcity matters for individual and public health. For example, being a good suburban mom today seems to include chauffeuring your kids around the neighborhood to countless sports and hobbies.

“If you don’t do that, then you feel you’re not living up to one set of norms, but if you don’t do [something else], you’re also not living up to another set of norms,” says Strazdins. “You’ve got 24 hours…and you get to a point where you just can’t expand your day.” If you feel a lot of inner conflict about a task, then you might consider just letting it go.

3. Change your calendar view

Often when we’re caught in a time conflict, it’s because of some external obligation: Daycare pickup runs up against an important meeting; your work shift starts at 9, but the bus is late. Time pressure goes hand in hand with feeling you’re not in control of your own schedule.

In one 2007 study, researchers interviewed 35 low-income working mothers who were caring for at least one child. They asked the moms to talk about how they spent the previous day, and how they manage to feed their families when it’s hectic.

The researchers were able to pinpoint different ways of managing time—some of which were more successful than others.

The least successful was the “reactive” style, where mothers didn’t feel in control of their days. All those mothers felt time-scarce, beholden to the clock, unable to accomplish everything they wanted to. In contrast, mothers who had an “active” time-style had some success at scheduling, managing, and structuring their days. They felt slightly more in control of their own time and a bit less time-stressed than the reactive group.

“People often complain of being in a time bind not only because they are objectively busy, but also because they perceive a lack of control over their time,” researcher Ashley V. Whillans and her colleagues write. That perception may be based on our life circumstances—because we have non-negotiable work hours or babies who aren’t fond of sleeping through the night—but it can also be part of our psychology.

According to research, rather than experiencing life as masters of their own fate, some people tend to feel like they’re at the mercy of external forces (and thus less resilient to stress and more depressed). If this describes you, it may be harder for you to seize back a sense of control over your schedule.

In that case, try to keep your eyes on the prize and do what you can to gain a sense of control over your time. Take little steps, like optimizing your to-do list or practicing saying “no” to people who ask for favors.

4. Revalue your down time

One last piece of the time-pressure puzzle is money, and that one is complicated. If you work multiple jobs or can’t pay for a babysitter, you’re bound to feel short on time. But some research has found that people with high incomes feel particularly short on time—and people who get richer become even more harried than they were before. Even just feeling rich—when your savings is on the higher end of the scale on a form you’re filling out—can make you feel more rushed.

“In a society like ours, the go-to answer [for happiness] is make more money, buy more stuff,” says Kasser. “What we’re trying to say is, well, no; what people actually need is more time.”

Why would an abundance of money feel like a scarcity of time? One possibility is that rich people have so much they could do with their money but only a handful of hours outside work to do it, suggest researchers Daniel Hamermesh and Jungmin Lee. So many expensive hobbies to pursue, so little time!

But another possibility is that they simply put more value on their time. If each hour they’re not working is $100 they could have earned, they better use that hour well.

As economists would remind us, when something is scarce, its value goes up—but the opposite is also true. When something is valuable (like time), we perceive it to be scarcer.

As economists would remind us, when something is scarce, its value goes up—but the opposite is also true. When something is valuable (like time), we perceive it to be scarcer. In one experiment, researchers asked 67 students to engage in some mock consulting work, for which they would “charge” $1.50 or $0.15 per minute. The students who were charging $1.50 felt more pressed for time—even though they weren’t actually going to earn that money! In another experiment, when people were asked to calculate their hourly wage, high earners felt even more time-starved.

“Feelings of time pressure are not just a function of individual differences, the quantitative amount of time spent working, or even people’s working conditions, although these factors are obviously important,” write researchers Sanford E. DeVoe and Jeffrey Pfeffer. “Time pressure is at least partly a result of psychological processes and the perception of time’s value.”

This is all good news and bad news. It means that our efforts to optimize and schedule, plan and streamline, might not be getting to the heart of the problem. But it also means that we may have more leverage than we think, even if we can’t manufacture spare hours to call a friend or get to the dentist. Time pressure is the uncomfortable gap between how we wish we spent our time—and how we think that would make us feel—and how we’re spending it and feeling now. With that in mind, we just might be able to find some room to breathe.

This article originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, one of Mindful’s partners. View the original article.

The post Take Back Your Time appeared first on Mindful.

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Enjoy a Mindful, Meaningful, and Fun Holiday Season

Woman outside enjoying a mindful holiday

We only understand about a few of those decisions ve behaved on them.
But this isn a terrible thing, our market can always use folks spending more on it. We could view it as a opportunity to become more generous and really give to others.
However, the actual question is who’s choosing your state of mind? Can it be or is it the media?
Listed below are a few Actions to Ensure You are the one in control of your mind:
Corporations know this, and they set subtle clues in the advertising that say”If you do not have (fill in the blank), then you’re going to be miserable”
Take this as an opportunity and revel in a mindful holiday season.

  1. Set a goal – Take a moment to really consider how you are interested in being through the holidays. If you’re going to be together with family members and friends, how do you like to be together (e.g., present, listening, playful)? The holidays could be a difficult or laborious time for this year, if this is so, how do you be gentle with your self?
  2. Be current – In order to pay attention to this particular purpose, it’so important to integrate a practice that brings you to the present moment. This might be a mindfulness practice such as coming into the breath, or perhaps shutting your eyes and listening to noises, or perhaps taking some time to check at all of the areas around you.
  3. Make significance  – The holidays are intended to be a period of meaning. For Christmas, if it is meaningful, think about what Jesus’ birth means to you personally, or if this isn ’ t meaningful, you might think about the significance of being in the uncommon experience of spending time with people you don’t see frequently. Or if you celebrate Kwanzaa, you might reflect upon the significance of your culture and heritage. No matter your background that is spiritual, this can be a time to stop, reflect and make meaning from the life. The holidays are also . Pick up the camera more, reconnect with friends, browse a novel that is pleasurable, or choose a 2-hour date with others or yourself and do something. If you find yourself in a poor mood, use these 3 steps to help break it.

I’d have to concur with Emerson. A lot of us think that we have control over our reactions, but the reality is we are walking around responding much of the moment. Our brain is taking in information throughout the numerous resources (ears, eyes, mouth, legs/arms, nose), translating the data, and making snap decisions of what is good or bad, right or wrong, necessary or unnecessary, pressing or non-urgent, important or insignificant.
Right after Thanksgiving, I walked to Target, and lo and behold all of the Christmas decorations were up. I sensed a state of cheerfulness an opening in me along with a desire to shop.

Your discussion here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

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