- by Dr Hannetjie


“ Catch the small foxes – the little foxes that spoil the vines”  - Song of Solomon 2:15


Hi again my fellow travellers,


One of our constant challenges, especially in retirement, is to make our money last. To that end I am also always on the look-out for ways to deal with stress that are affordable and easy to do.


In previous postings I spoke about the large stressors and the pesky little foxes – those small daily irritating events that erode our patience, reserve and confidence. Uplifts are our remedies for them.


An Uplift is a small positive event that just brightens up one’s day – like a friendly greeting, a good joke, a pop-in visit from a friend, a hug, a short telephone conversation, or a beautiful flower or sunset, the sound of rain on the roof, the smell of the earth after the rain… all those little gifts from the Universe that we seldom have to work for. (Please feel free to add as many uplifts to my list as you can and look out for them in your life).


We know from modern research on the brain and from Positive Psychology that it is possible to intentionally create new ways of being – we can be more relaxed, more compassionate and happy, and that these states can be learnt as skills. We can train our brains for the better as we deliberately change our focus from what is wrong or out of place, to what is positive, what went well and what we can be grateful for. And the good news is that these are some of the most important factors to promote physical- and psychological wellbeing and longevity.


By savouring good moments and uplifts - those everyday positive experiences - on a regular basis, we can develop a greater sense of inner peace and wellness and at the same time considerably minimise the negative effects of stress on our bodies. We can build new and positive brain pathways and improve our resilience to deal with life’s continual challenges.

















(Original cartoon by Bill Stott, from (Original cartoon by Bill Stott, from Distilled Wisdom the Moon)



“While research into the effect of uplifts on health is not as extensive as what has been learned about daily hassles, uplifts have been linked to medical benefits such as improved mood, serum cortisol levels and lower levels of inflammation.” – Romeo Vitelli


We know that as an ancient survival strategy we evolved with a negativity bias – that is, looking for what is wrong or out of place. That might have been useful way back when in the jungle to detect predators and to plan escape routes, but we now know that to flourish and live happily, we have to shift our focus to what is good, beautiful and what went well. We do not just want to get away from what is wrong or dangerous, nor is neutral good enough anymore.  We want to have a great life, to flourish and continue to grow till the very last moment.


To that end I want to challenge you to deliberately shift your focus in your world. For every irritation, make a point of finding at least three things to be grateful for or that bring you joy.  We want to outnumber negative thoughts by far and deepen the good and positive neural pathways as much as possible. Then they can begin to compete with the old well-worn pathways in our minds that we want to let fall into disrepair.


Some researchers say that it takes six weeks to form a new habit. That sounds like a great investment in happiness and stress reduction to me. So, let us take up the challenge and as an example, vow to stop complaining. Let’s not promote negative messages and jokes about ageing or our country on social media and amongst ourselves. Let’s aim for random deeds of kindness, random compliments, deliberate positivity and as much compassion and caring as we can muster for ourselves and our community. Let us be the uplifts for those around us and let us all enjoy the fruits of our fabulous positive energy. Let’s kill the irritating stress foxes with kindness.




















Let’s clear space for love – Original cartoon by Bill Stott for Hannetjie


You will find some endearing uplifts on my Pinterest page Dr Hannetjie and on the Board Distilled Wisdom is…  https://za.pinterest.com/hannetjie777/over-the-moon-is/


In my next article, we continue with our free stress relievers and will look at mindfulness and meditation in that regard.

Till later,




References and further reading:

Daily Hassles and Uplifts – In Psychologist world



Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. - Hassles, Uplifts, and Growing Older, Posted Jun 09, 2014




Any suggestions or opinions voiced in these pages are those of the authors, and in no way to be constructed as final treatment advice. They are intended as a starting point to develop your own preparation and treatment plan. Please consult your medical and/or psychological experts or caregivers to fine-tune the advice and suggestions for your own unique needs.





Dr. Hannetjie Van-Zyl-Edeling

082 460 4575




MINDFUL RETIREMENT - Exploring the Psychology


MINDFUL RETIREMENT - Out to pasture or a vibrant encore?


RETIREMENT READINESS - Is your parachute in order?


MOTIVATION - The lion or the lighthouse, which do you prefer?


WHAT MAKES YOU TICK? - Understanding our basic human needs


RETIREMENT STRESS - Not a walk on the beach


RETIREMENT STRESS - Daily hassles , beware of the little foxes


COPING WITH STRESS - Uplifts and how to create them