3 moving stories about finding purpose during grief and change

It can take a crisis to lead some people to self-reflection. For Vic Strecher, it was the death of his daughter. For Neeta Bhushan, it was the realization her life could be in danger in an abusive marriage.

A shot across the bow isn’t mandatory. Wayne Curtis simply came to appreciate the benefits of quiet thinking time on long walks, but for many, aversion to change and fear of the unknown keep us from being self-reflective. We might choose to keep busy and distracted until we’re shaken awake by life.

Reflection can help us find and live our purpose

Strecher, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, has had a long, successful career as a behavioral scientist but when his daughter, Julia, died in 2010, he realized he’d lost his purpose.

Julia received a heart transplant when she was a baby, then a second transplant when she was 9,
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The ultimate guide to successful self-reflection

Whatever the form – a daily journal, a gratitude list, or something more involved like a retreat – experts agree self-reflection is the foundation for success and happiness. It’s how we identify what we want from our lives and evaluate our progress toward those goals.

It’s not easy though. Self-reflection can tip into self-criticism for our bad choices or we can get paralyzed considering daunting changes, leaving the lure of 24/7 distractions to tempt us away.

If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there

Self-reflection is like life’s GPS. Without it, you can find yourself speeding down the wrong road. “In the short term, you can achieve a goal by determination, being strategic and assertive, having a strong work ethic, and being willing to make sacrifices,” said Melanie Greenberg, a licensed clinical psychologist and the author of The Stress-Proof Brain. “But in the long term, a
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Instant Insight: Self-Reflection

Welcome to Self-Reflection Week at Unstuck. Over the next few days, we will be offering an exclusive series of insights and stories written by Unstuck contributor Colleen Newvine that we hope will guide and inspire you. This series is a perfect opportunity to experiment with self-reflection by learning about its unexpected benefits and discovering new techniques from experts or perhaps just by empowering yourself to find the time and space in your life to contemplate, express gratitude, or consider new possibilities in your life.

We invite you to check back in with us each day (and, of course, whenever you might need a little refresher in the future) and to write to us (advice@unstuck.com) with your thoughts, reactions, and experiences. With that in mind, here is our weekly Instant Insight for this coming week of contemplation and personal
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The dirty little secret about time off

What are your vacation plans?

How you spend your precious time off is a natural summertime topic. When the Unstuck team recently chatted about this (staycation, mountain retreat, West Coast music blockbuster), it got us thinking about how important, critical even, it is to vacation in a way that speaks to you.

For instance, one of our team members recalled her vacation to Hawaii, where all she did was lounge. No helicopter trips or volcano scaling for her. But she knew people expected her to do those things…so she made it up. Everyone was happy, if not completely honest.

But why did she feel her vacation had to meet other people’s ideals? Better yet, how can we all feel good about taking the vacation that appeals to us instead of what we think we’re suppose to enjoy?

Here are four tips to help you vacation in your own best interest:

Instant Insight

Is it possible to navigate our everyday experience without obsessing over the endless tasks, obligations, and deadlines ahead of us? Is it possible to avoid worrying about the conversations we need to have or the conversations we wish had happened differently?

It is possible, but it’s a lot to ask of yourself.

So, instead of trying to keep life’s natural stresses and pressures from occupying our thoughts, what if we supplemented them with other things? With that inspiration in mind, we offer this week’s Instant
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What a Netflix show taught me about my break-up

In the aftermath of a recent break-up, I managed to binge watch the entire second season of the Netflix show Master of None over the course of a weekend. The show stars Aziz Ansari as Dev Shah – a struggling, 30-something actor who lives in Brooklyn and whose life has some eerie similarities to my own.

Dev is obsessed with food, dating apps, and, at the end of the first season, goes through a devastating break-up. One huge difference is that, as season two begins, Dev has responded to his heartache and professional struggles by moving to a small town in Italy to work as an apprentice pasta-maker while I had only moved from my living room to my kitchen and back to get another three bowls of Fruit Loops.

At the end of my terrible, anti-social weekend of television and self-imposed sadness, I didn’t feel any better about my life. More
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How procrastination can make you more productive

As anyone with a Twitter handle or eBay bookmark can attest, we live in a golden age of procrastination. Technology gives us unfettered access to information and communication, which in turn makes the siren song of putting things off only more impossible to drown out.

Now, researchers suggest that wasting a little bit of time here and there can actually be good. When employed correctly, procrastination helps us think creatively and make informed decisions.

And hey, it worked for ancient Romans and Greeks. Back then, power players who did nothing but think all day were revered for their wisdom, according to Frank Portnoy, author of the book Wait: The Art and Science of Delay. It wasn’t until the Puritans came along, hatching such catchy ditties as “a stitch in time saves nine,” that procrastination was vilified.

Curious about how to transform your tendency to procrastinate into productivity? Consider these four strategies.

Be an active procrastinator.
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Why ‘sorry’ may actually be one of the hardest words

 Elton John, Chicago, Adele, and Justin Bieber all agree that it can be hard to say you’re sorry. What everybody else agrees on is that it can be absolutely infuriating when someone doesn’t apologize when you think they clearly should. Or, instead, when someone delivers one of those patently half-hearted non-apologies.

But if you’ve been on the receiving end of a lackluster apology (or never received an apology at all) for an offense, there might have been more than just stubbornness or selfishness at play.

One reason that some of us resist admitting fault has to do with the fact that apologizing can be a scary thing to do. It forces us to be vulnerable and it gives another person the power to reject our efforts to make something right. “Fear-based thinking leads us to believe that apologies are a sign of weakness,” we
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The one word getting in your way

As you probably remember from when you first heard should as a kid, that little word packs a hefty wallop. You should brush your teeth. You should go to bed at 10pm. You should finish all your homework and your broccoli.

We use it on ourselves and others, because it works. There is a guilt attached to it. Whatever you should do usually is good for you. As if someone knows better, as if you wouldn’t make a good decision on your own behalf without the insidious coaxing.

It’s so pervasive, you might not realize it’s the reason you might feel stuck.

When you’re making a decision or trying to figure out your next step, your brain can jump to the should first. Well, you know you should do this. The underlying message: There is a universal right answer, everyone knows what it is, and we’ll all also know if you don’t choose
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