self care

Time to Revisit the Greek Concepts of Well Being

health, mental health, self care, spirituality, stress, therapy, wellness

What we find fascinating is that the ancient Greeks were leaders in holistic thinking – viewing the world from an integrated point of view, not just looking at the parts or events of our lives as being separate. They believed that nothing and no one was separate, that everything was connected. They were ahead of their time with their insights into the integration of body, mind, and spirit. (Much later, the body and mind were viewed as separate entities, leading to what we believe are many of the issues we face in the pursuit of well-being today.)

CONNECT MEANINGFULLY WITH OTHERS
“Man is a social animal.” – Aristotle
Aristotle believed that we are gregarious beings who flourish in groups or communities. Importantly, it is our nature to belong. Today, we live in a global world but, despite our social media connectivity, our emailing and our texting, research has shown that many people feel increasingly alienated. Depression, anxiety, and addiction are all on the rise, leading to a general decline in well-being.
A related challenge we face today is that, instead of relying on those we know for the necessities of life, we’re dependent on strangers and institutions for our survival. We don’t barter with neighbors, or even know where our food comes from; instead, we shop at supermarkets. We don’t depend on others for information or advice; we turn to the Internet. At the same time, we’re also more independent; rather than borrow things from our neighbors, we simply buy our own. Instead of asking others to help us, we do the chore ourselves or hire professionals. What have we lost? Have we tried so hard to be self-sufficient that we have cut ourselves off from each other?
Ancient and modern Greeks have much to share about connecting meaningfully with others. They teach us that we’re all important participants in the different “villages” in our lives, whether that village is our family, our friends or coworkers, or a larger organization. Greeks teach us to extend hospitality to others and always include them – “there is always room for one more.”
SHARING AND CARING
“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.” – Epicurus
Throughout Greece, building relationships through conversation is an integral part of daily activity. Stopping to greet others acknowledges their presence – their human existence – and tells them they’re an important part of the “village.”
It’s about the conversation and the connection. The cashier in the local grocery store in the town of Chania, Crete, engaged in a long conversation with a young woman in front of us in line; she takes an interest in her customers as people, not just as business transactions.
Every interaction is an opportunity to strengthen or weaken connections with others. In no small way, the depth of our lives depends on the depth of our relationships with others. This is an important part of the Greek way of living.
EMBRACE LIFE WITH ZEST
“The sun is new each day.” – Heraclitus
The ancient Greeks taught us that life is short and ever-changing. Importantly, the need to embrace the fullness of life – all its ups and downs, joys and sorrows – with gusto and an appreciation for being alive is built into the Greek DNA. Indeed, to be “enthusiastic” about life means, literally, to manifest the spirit within!
Greece could lead the world in teaching a holistic approach to well-being. Taking good care of spirit, mind, and body is ingrained in the culture. Greeks know that life is about energy, and well-being is about keeping this important life energy flowing. We can all adopt the essence of the Hippocratic Oath, to “do no harm,” by replacing inactivity, excessive stress, overeating and eating poor quality foods, with healthier choices.
In times of crisis and undue stress, where we are struggling or lacking fulfillment, we need to go back to the basics in life and search for sources of true meaning and well-being. As Heraclitus taught us, the sun is new each day. Every day is a new chance to connect meaningfully with others, find a deeper purpose, and embrace life fully. It’s a new opportunity to follow the Greek path to well-being.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
“I am not alone in my fear, nor alone in my hope, nor alone in my shouting.” – Nikos Kazantzakis (author, Zorba the Greek)
The famous Greek saying “Know thyself” is inscribed on a plaque above the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, a sacred place where ancient Greeks came to seek guidance. Their questions were answered by Pythia, the priestess of the Greek god Apollo, but her answers were usually cryptic and open to interpretation. Once the visitor received an answer from Pythia, the challenge was what to do with the answer. Should they blindly follow her advice, believing they had received “the answer,” or was the inscription “Know thyself” a warning to decide the validity of the answer for oneself?
In his speech defending himself at his trial, Socrates described how he would, like Heraclitus, go within and listen to his inner voice to discover the “right” thing to do. His approach was clearly metaphysical; he combined logic and reason with intuition, consulting what we refer to as his “inner oracle.” Like Socrates, the challenge for many of us is whether to trust our inner oracle, our sense of inner knowing, or whether to allow ourselves to be swayed by others.
BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
“There is one life for each of us: our own.” – Euripides
The ancient Greeks taught us to always act in accordance with our true nature. In the final analysis, the greatest challenge in our life is to discover and embrace our core essence. Many people tend to focus on what job or career they think they should have, or how they might define their overall purpose in life. However, in actuality, a truly meaningful life starts from, remains engaged with, and, ultimately, returns to one’s core essence … awakening our true selves by connecting with whom we really are.
The Greeks taught us that if we drift away from our authentic selves, perhaps by focusing on achieving or acquiring “external things” instead of focusing on our true purpose, we will never realize our highest potential. They believed that the end goal of life is evdemonia, a concept involving deep fulfillment, inner and outer prosperity, and being of service to others. Alex Pattakos, Ph.D., and Elaine Dundon; 

In chasing “the good life,” many of us sacrifice our relationships, our health and our sanity, and still find ourselves with lives and work that bring us little fulfillment. But while our lives may seem complex, the solution to this challenge is actually quite simple. We just need to follow the path the ancient Greeks have laid out for us!

 

Nourish Yourself for a Lifetime of Weight Health.

health, nutrition, positive thinking, self care, weight, wellness

Eating is a natural part of digestive rhythms set in your genes, largely controlled by two hormones, leptin and ghrelin. When these hormones are in balance, the alternation between being hungry and being satisfied is also in balance. But these simple facts about the physiology are beside the point when weight becomes a problem.

A Wellness-System Approach to Weight Control

The real problem with weight issues is holistic, involving a person’s entire lifestyle. A better approach to weight control is a wellness-system approach, which looks at everything that goes into being overweight: eating habits, sleep, self-image, core beliefs, exercise, and more. These elements are rarely isolated. Instead, they organize themselves into feedback loops. Like a train running around a circular track, letting passengers off and on at each stop, a feedback loop has inputs and outputs.

If much of your daily input is positive, you are creating mostly positive experiences. If your daily input is negative, the reverse is true. For anyone who has struggled with weight gain, it’s almost certainly true that there is too much negative input on a daily basis. Even the simple pleasure of eating can become part of the negativity, because mentally and emotionally, food has become part of a larger problem.

These feedback loops exist so that you can cope with life and hopefully thrive. Take one element—good sleep. The most basic function of sleep is to revive you when you’re tired and supply mental alertness when you wake up in the morning. But sleep can be thrown out of balance by all kinds of things: anxiety, pain, excessive noise, mental restlessness, habitual insomnia, night shifts at work, and so on. Far from being a simple mechanism, sleep adapts itself to a person’s lifestyle, and even though there is negative input, such as being too anxious to fall asleep, the body-mind will find a way to cope. Even the worst insomnia is marked by periods of sleep during the night.

Positive Coping Mechanisms

If you look at the coping mechanisms that make life positive, they aren’t a mystery. Here are the main ones that need to be reinforced every day:

  • Good self-image
  • Sense of purpose and meaning
  • Contact with friends and family
  • Giving and receiving love
  • Good sleep
  • Physical activity
  • Alone time and quiet time
  • Play
  • Social support systems
  • Absence of pain and discomfort
  • Low stress levels
  • Absence of anxiety and depression.

 

Coping with Weight Is Not About Diet

Although the list could also include “a nourishing whole foods diet,” let’s leave food out for the moment, because instead of attending to all of these positive reinforcements, people who struggle with weight are asking food to do too much of the work. For example, it becomes a surrogate for a good self-image or a quick fix for anxiety.

To cope with weight doesn’t come down to anything about diet; if it did, dieting would work. But only about 2 percent of dieters manage to lose at least five lbs. and keep it off for two years. Naturally, weight is much harder to control if a person indulges in a fatty, sugary diet with lots of snacking and fast food. None of that counts as healthy eating. But asking someone to give up the foods they feel compelled to eat is the same as saying, “Stop being compulsive.” If we could obey such an instruction, we’d all be at our ideal weight.

Looking from a wellness-system perspective, coping with weight means coping with how your entire life is going. Weight will come off and stay off when the other input in your daily life is so satisfying that food no longer looms as the first and foremost coping mechanism you rely upon. Overeating is a habit, no doubt, and habits stick around when they serve a purpose, however misguided. If you fulfill the purpose in a better way, the need for the habit decreases and in time goes away.

I advise taking a wellness-system look at yourself, with the intention of fulfilling your real needs in life:

  • purpose
  • meaning
  • creativity
  • renewal
  • love
  • self-worth
  • other positive elements on the list above 

When you build a self that is life-enhancing rather than self-defeating, all kinds of problems decrease and vanish.

How to Add Positivity into Your Life

So, to go back to the image of a train circling the track, picking up and letting off passengers, you can start today by adding a little positive input and letting go of a little negative input. Your motivation must be positive on both sides. Whatever you choose to add or subtract, the choice must feel good. Willpower, self-discipline, being down on yourself, guilt-tripping, and denial don’t feel good, which is why the best laid plans of dieters always go astray. They are trying to force a change when the change doesn’t feel good. The inevitable result is a return to old, comforting habits, even when those habits have very little positivity left in them.

  • Copy the list of positive inputs and put it up in a prominent place.
  • Buy a weekly calendar with big spaces to write in.
  • When you begin your day, consult the list and write on the calendar three specific things you intend to do that will add fulfillment to your day.
  • At the end of the day, check off the ones you accomplished.

Positive input is easy to create. For example, under “Play” you can play a game with a child or a friend or by yourself, whatever brings you pleasure. Or under “contact with friends and family” there are endless choices, beginning with a friendly phone call.

The point is to choose something and follow through. Don’t give a thought to changing your dietary habits unless you feel good about the change, such as having frozen yogurt instead of ice cream or sharing one dessert instead of ordering two. Even fast-food chains now have healthier choices. When you become creative and at the same time maintain your positive input program, you are taking a wellness-system approach to coping with life, and that’s always beneficial.

 

Why losing weight is so hard and gaining weight is so easy.

health, nutrition, self care, therapy, Uncategorized, weight, wellness

You just enjoyed the holidays and come to find out that you gained 5 pounds. In your disbelief, you quickly curse the Weight Gods for being so cruel. Sound familiar? This was me the last couple of months. A little cookie baking, eating the holiday yummies, packed it on quick. This inspired me to discuss the seemingly unbalanced equation of weight gain vs. weight loss, the facts that surround the issue and how losing the 5 pounds feels so much harder than gaining them:

FACT 1 – It is Simple Math: To maintain your ideal weight, you need to eat as many calories as you burn in one day. The balanced equation looks like this:

Calories Eaten = Basal Metabolic Rate + Physical Activity

If what you eat equals more than what your body uses, you will gain weight. In the situation of a holiday, it is likely that you eat more unhealthy food than normal and possibly get less exercise, resulting in an imbalanced equation, with a higher number of calories on the eaten side than on the burned side. That imbalance over the course of a few days can easily represent a few pounds.

FACT 2 – A Pound is a Pound is a Pound: One pound of body mass represents 3,500 calories. Regardless, if you are trying to lose a pound or gain a pound, the pound will always represent 3,500 calories. So, if you eat 3,500 calories more than your body requires, you will gain 1 pound. Similarly, if you eat 3,500 calories less than your body requires, you will lose 1 pound.

FACT 3 – Exercise is Weight Discriminating: Whether you are 120 pounds or 175 pounds, you will gain one pound from eating 3,500 calories more than you need. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold true for burning calories. How much you weigh actually dictates how many calories you burn per hour. The more you weigh, the more you burn, and as a result, the easier it is to lose the pound…sound crazy? It is true.

FACT 4 – Aging Contributes to Weight Gain: As if aging doesn’t contribute enough to unfavorable things, it also contributes to weight gain. As we get older, our metabolism slows down, requiring us to need less food and calories. If you don’t modify your caloric intake as you get older to reflect this change in metabolism, you will start to see weight gain.

The Bad News: Unfortunately, eating an extra couple of unhealthy snacks or drinking a few extra glasses of wine can happen in a blink of an eye. However, the time and energy required to burn off those calories takes a lot more effort. We have provided a chart on what 1,000 calories looks like on both sides in the chart below (remember, it is 3,500 calories that make up a pound).

The Good News: Whether it is rapid or slow weight gain that you have experienced, losing the extra weight can be tackled through two avenues (and should be): calorie reduction and exercise. Choosing to lose weight through both calorie reduction and exercise will accelerate the process. If for seven days you burn 200 extra calories through exercise and reduce your food intake by 300 calories each day, you will lose that extra pound. Further, it is a lot easier than trying to either reduce your caloric intake by 3,500 calories (which is physically impossible) or burning an extra 3,500 calories during exercise (which takes a ridiculous amount of time and energy).

What you Can Do: Assess whether your weight gain was a rapid gain due to atypical behavior (E.g., vacationing) or a longer-term gain. If it was a rapid gain, there is a good chance you will lose the weight by returning to your normal habits. You might have to be a little strict for a day or two, but you shouldn’t feel like a major overhaul is in order. If, however, you have gained the weight over a period of time, assess your habits and think about what has changed in your life. Have you stopped exercising? Have you let your eating habits go? Have you hit a milestone birthday? Once you can assess the reality of your situation, remember the equation: to maintain balance, burn the calories you eat.

 

ELM Mental Wellness Nutrition Counseling is in depth and lifelong. It begins with multiple assessments including family history of eating patterns and health risk, habits-routines-rituals, emotional connection with food. Changing our dietary patterns is grueling. I help clients with meal planning and shopping, self monitoring, goal setting, stimulus control, problem solving, cognitive restructuring, and relapse prevention to move toward a state of lifetime optimal health.

 

Secrets for a Wellness Inspired Holiday Season

Exercise, health, holiday, mental health, positive thinking, self care, stress, Uncategorized, weight, wellness

‘Tis the season to spend time with friends, family, and loved ones – and to celebrate, indulge, and be merry.

But, the holiday cheer can also invite quite a setback in your mind-body health goals and wellness routine.  To avoid the stress and weight gain of the season – and remain light in your mind and body – follow my guide to indulge, without losing your healthy edge.

Let me show you how to:

  • EAT healthy and in moderation.
  • MOVE your body, stretch, and get your heart rate up.
  • DE-STRESS and balance your emotions during the busy chaos of the holidays.

How do you enjoy the holiday season without falling into the trap of weight gain, sugar crashes, and poor choices?  Sticking to a healthy plan is important.  However, depriving yourself of certain foods can have negative results.  Restrictive eating can lead to binge eating as well as disliking healthy foods by associating them with something you ‘have’ to do.  When it’s time to pile food on your plate, eat what you know you love, guilt free, but keep this advice in mind:

  • If smaller plates are an option, use them. You’ll fill larger plates just because room is available.  Second trips are better than overeating on the first round.
  • If you’re trying something new, only take a bite-size portion.
  • Eat a snack before you arrive so you aren’t at the onset of the feast.
  • You fall in love with your Aunt’s new dessert and even though you’re too full to enjoy it, you’re tempted to have a second portion. Instead of grabbing the last bite in fear of not eating it again until next year, ask her to email the recipe out to the whole family for those who can’t wait another year.

 

Maintain an Exercise Plan

Holiday gatherings often consist of sitting, eating, talking, drinking, and more eating.  We often find ourselves sitting for longer periods of time because we enjoy the conversation.  Your legs want to move, the food is on the counter, and off you go for food you’re not even hungry for.

This year, try some of these actions with the family to reduce the march to the kitchen:

  • Go for a 5-10 minute walk after each meal to aid digestion. Increase that walk to 15 minutes after every meal to help lower blood sugar levels, especially after eating holiday sweets.  You may be surprised at those who will join you for your walk!
  • Run/walk the stairs in your home.
  • Organize a family yoga session, check out YouTube sessions’.
  • Go for a family hike.
  • Bring a board game to the family feast. Although you’re still sitting, this can provide some excitement and victory movement.  Plus, it’ better than just eating.
  • Shovel snow
  • Ice skate
  • Make snow angels
  • Dance to Christmas music
  • Walk the neighborhood or mall to see the holiday decorations.

 

Stress and fatigue are often unwelcome guests during the holiday season.  Stress might join you while cooking a holiday meal, decorating your house in preparation for a party, or shopping at a crowded mall.  It can manifest as aches and pains, prevent you from sleeping through the night, and dampen your spirits during the holidays.  You can beat back stress, and the inevitable fatigue it causes on your body.

Focus on the Positive – bring your attention to the experiences you most enjoy about the holidays.  Try going into each holiday gathering or interaction with a positive and loving intention.  It’s easier to maintain a positive attitude when you arrive in that mental state.

Spend Time Outdoors in Nature – spending time outdoors in nature can help enhance mental clarity, energize your mind and body, and connect you to your loved ones as well as the environment.

Let Go of the Past – pretend you are a newcomer to your own family.  Approach them with curiosity and excitement.  Forget past transgressions, arguments, tears.  You are not condoning past wrongs by letting them go; you are just saying they cannot hurt you anymore.

Take Time for Yourself – the holidays can be a time when we put everyone else’s needs first.  It’s easy to lose yourself in the chaos of the season.  Take some time to reflect on what practices you do to keep you balanced and peaceful throughout the year and make sure to adhere to them when things get crazy.

Stay in the Present – what is the best gift you could give to yourself and others at your holiday gathering?  Being present.  Cultivate appreciation for your friends and family in your life at the moment.

Hold realistic Expectations – if you become frustrated that the holidays aren’t going according to plan, remember there is no such thing as a perfect family or perfect holiday.  What can you learn and how can you grow from your family?

Maintain Your Routine – as much as possible, maintain your typical sleeping, eating, and exercise schedules.  Your vitality can be weakened by changes in routine, which can lead to feelings of anxiety or irritation.

Make Clear Requests – your friends and family won’t know what’s important to you unless you voice it.  Clearly stating your needs can help to reduce holiday stress and develop closer family ties.

Practice Gratitude – gratitude is a powerful force that you can use to expand your happiness, improve your health, and – you guessed it – help you cope with stress.  Organize a time when your family sits down to share what they love about the holidays, or about individual members of the family.

Say Cheese – no one can deny the mind-body connection.  So, it you’re looking for a way out of stress, you’ll need to smile more.  Organize a family photo shoot or make sure to have your camera on-hand when everyone first arrives to the holiday meal, gathering, or party.  Capture those first hugs, ask for the best grins, and snap all those treasured moments.  You can revisit them mid-year to remember how great the holidays can actually be.

Make Restful Sleep a Priority – good quality rest is one of the pillars of healthy living.  In rhythm with the sun going down and birds flocking to their nests, we should also go to sleep early, ideally before 10pm.  If you are a late riser, try shifting your bedtime closer to 10pm by 15 minutes per night.  This will give you the time to enjoy nature’s early morning calm, ever-more important during the stressful holiday season.

The Secret to making your holiday inspiring is actually quite simple.  Be inspiring yourself.  As with any change, you must be the change you want to see in others.

All of us at ELM Mental Wellness wish you and your family a Safe, Happy, Inspiring Holiday Season!

 

 

 

How Opposite Day will improve your Health.

creativity, health, learning, mental health, problem solving, self care, stress, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness

Ever feel stuck in a rut–doing the same thing day in and day out? Then, take advice from Seinfeld’s George Costanza and do the opposite of what you normally do. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work or seeing a movie you normally wouldn’t be interested in. Often, we can be too judgmental or too set in our ways to give something new a try. If you tend to jam-pack your schedule with events and activities, try scheduling in some quiet time at home. If you are more of a homebody, try something more adventurous that you normally wouldn’t do. You never know what you might discover if you start making yourself get out of your comfort zone. Intellectual Wellness is achieved through self-directed behavior focused on learning. Any activity that inspires and stimulates your willingness, desire and intent to learn, explore and expand your mind intellectually in any way supports healthy Intellectual Wellness. It also means being free intellectually to learn something new.

Intellectual Wellness is also about your willingness and curiosity to acquire new information, while continuously seeking out new challenges to expand and improve your knowledge and skills. This often develops a sense of awareness and satisfaction. Some people find it gratifying to share their skills and knowledge with others.

Research studies show that maintaining a healthy level of Intellectual Wellness helps keep the brain-mind cognition healthy.

Few Questions to check your intellectual wellness:

  • I am interested in learning new things.
  • I enjoy attending lectures, plays, musical performances, museums, galleries, and/or libraries.
  • I enjoy creative and stimulating mental activities/games.
  • I make an effort to improve my verbal and written skills.
  • I am able to analyze, synthesize, and see more than one side of an issue.

 

Methods to grow your intellectual wellness:

  • Continuously exercise your mind while remaining clam and tranquil.
  • Create development by continuously acquiring, applying, and expressing positive and constructive critical thinking.
  • Keep an active mind through mental activity stimulation.
  • Open to new ideas.
  • Be motivated to master new skills and seeking out new challenges.
  • Develop and maintain a continuous sense of humor, creativity, and curiosity.
  • Reach your own correct decision, make up your own mind, in your own interest when there is a choice or a problem.
  • Reading is one of the great ways to learn.
  • Start a new hobby.

We don’t have to spend hours on our Intellectual Wellness each and every day to reap significant benefits. Just a few minutes a day, several days a week will get the job done. Intellectual Wellness is the wellness aspect that adds extra spark to our lives, and if we take on these projects with a sense of adventure, we’ll notice an amazing difference in no time!

It is better to stretch and challenge our minds with intellectual and creative pursuits than to become self-satisfied and unproductive.  It is better to identify potential problems and choose appropriate courses of action based on available information than to wait, worry, and contend with major concerns later. national wellness institute

Basically, if you’re learning something new, you’re focusing on your Intellectual Wellness!

Traveling the ELM Mental Wellness path, we’ll explore issues related to problem solving, creativity, and learning. As you develop your intellectual curiosity, you’ll actively strive to expand and challenge your mind by learning to value vision, wonder, and lifelong learning.

Spiritual Wellness is a personal matter.

health, mental health, positive thinking, relationships, self care, spirituality, stress, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness

The spiritual dimension recognizes our search for meaning and purpose in human existence. It includes the development of a deep appreciation for the depth and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe. Your search will be characterized by a peaceful harmony between internal personal feelings and emotions and the rough and rugged stretches of your path. While traveling the path, you may experience many feelings of doubt, despair, fear, disappointment and dislocation, as well as feelings of pleasure, joy, happiness and discovery. These are all important experiences and components to your search and will be displayed in the value system you will adapt to bring meaning to your existence. You’ll know you’re becoming spiritually well when your actions become more consistent with your beliefs and values, resulting in a “world view.”

 

Evaluate your own spiritual wellness with this brief quiz.

  • Do I make time for relaxation in my day?
  • Do I make time for meditation and/or prayer?
  • Do my values guide my decisions and actions?
  • Am I accepting of the views of others?

 

9 Ways To Improve Your Spiritual Wellness:

  • Explore you spirituality – When you are examining the core set of your beliefs and principles, you should put forward questions like: Do I know myself? What do I have to realize in my life? If you are persistent you will find the puzzles of your life and realize your innermost goal.
  • Pray – All you need to do is find a neat and comfortable place to send your prayers.
  • Clear out the mind garbage – Consider writing down, at the end of the day, your thoughts; the things you wanted to say but didn’t have the chance or simply write down how your day passed. Sharing will give you a sense of relievement and calmness will take you from there.
  • Yoga – It will relief the physical and emotional tension. All the things like bad emotions and feelings that interrupt your wellbeing will leave permanently.
  • Finding the purpose – There is saying: The most precious lessons in life aren’t learned in school. And it’s true. In every failure, there is a hidden lesson we must learn. This is how we evolve spiritually. We shouldn’t run away from obstacles and evade them as they will ruin us. They have come to pass.
  • Think positively – People complain all the time. What they do is stuffing their mind with limiting thoughts that ruin their life eventually. Being concentrated on the positive side of life, you will be a step closer to happiness. It will flourish your growth and make you forget the worries.
  • Go incognito – When you are incognito, it’s that special time when you can analyze the situation. You can practice it whenever you feel like it. When you are incognito, you can meditate, practice yoga or apply other useful activities.
  • Travel – Visiting other places is beneficial for your mind. Being all by yourself in a quiet and peaceful surrounding helps you increase the connection with your inner self. Try one of your local parks!

These activities will make sure you are on the right track in improving your spiritual wellness.

ELM Mental Wellness can help guide your spiritual wellness through exploration of readiness, identifying resources, your strengths and solutions. We will explore your willingness and ability to transcend yourself in order to question the meaning and purpose in your life and the lives of others.