Archive for June, 2010

Shall We Flow?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Shall We Flow?Like a graceful vase, a cat, even when motionless, seems to flow.” — George F. Will

You have either had the experience or heard about it: Flow has been in the global consciousness since Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience was released 35 years ago. Back then it was revolutionary, now it is woven into our popular language and culture. We’ve heard about it, read about it, and want it in our lives.

But what is flow? It is a very enjoyable experience marked by a sense of timelessness and engagement. In his own words, Csikszentmihaly said it is “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Once we have experienced a flow moment in our lives we usually crave it happening again. We all want to be in the zone, in the groove, and over the years researchers have determined the conditions under which flow happens.

In Celebration of Fathers, 2010

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

In Celebration of Fathers, 2010Happy Father’s Day!

Dads sometimes get a bum rap as simple bread winners who occasionally are called upon to wield a hammer to hang a picture. They play ball (or, more likely, video games) with the kids, and leave the heavy lifting of child rearing and such to the moms.

But fathers are, of course, so much more.

They teach us about the wisdom of consideration, courage and honor. They know it is better to command respect than fear, to cultivate friendships rather than enemies, and to find something you love to do, and then build your career around it. Perhaps they aren’t always as “involved” in things as moms seem to be, but they so often seem to provide the rock of stability in a family that is often under-appreciated.

Christian and Depressed: What Churches Can Do to Help Persons with Mood Disorders

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Christian and Depressed: What Churches Can Do to Help Persons with Mood DisordersThe other day, I received this email from a Beyond Blue reader:

“I’m a Christian, and have been struggling with depression and my faith since my brother took his life 2-1/2 years ago. I joined your group for friends and tips on dealing with problems with Major Depression. I feel like I just make my church friends uncomfortable, and they can’t understand why I haven’t snapped out of it and declared amazing victory through my faith.”

I experienced that too, which was very disappointing. Because my faith is such a huge part of my recovery from depression and addiction, I didn’t understand why so few Christians, and even fewer pastors or religious leaders, knew what to say. One time in college I stood up in the middle of a homily and walked out. The priest was going on and on about how the faithful should flock to the confessional instead of a psychologist’s office because the real battle is fought in the soul, and a bunch of diagnoses and medication prescriptions only legitimize the behaviors and thought patterns that we should regard as sins.

Best of Our Blogs: June 18, 2010

Friday, June 18th, 2010

I was away earlier this week because my mom was in town. And in a few days, it will be Father’s Day. Spending all this time with my parents has made me aware of a lot of things.

For one it’s given me the opportunity to see them in a new light. Not one of admiration or awe, but something a bit more realistic. I saw them as two separate people who tried to do the best they could in the situation that they were in. I then saw myself as my own individual who tries the best that I can with whatever things come my way. Funny how learning to accept my parents as imperfect has helped me to accept myself for my own imperfections.

Seeing them and celebrating this coming Father’s Day are just a reminder to me that we can only do the best we can and that doing so is enough. I think that’s something worth celebrating.

I hope that you have a Happy Father’s Day and don’t forget to enjoy this mixed basket of best blog posts of the week!

How to Think About Women in Movies

(Pop Psychology) – There are tons of fun summer movies coming out. Before you head out to that next blockbuster hit, read this post to determine how women are being portrayed in films. Have times really changed and are female actors today as equally represented in movies as their male counterparts?

Put Down Your iPhone While Driving

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Put Down Your iPhone While DrivingNot only is it dangerous to drive while talking on your mobile phone or iPhone or Blackberry, it’s also not good for your relationship either.

So says a professor who thinks that if driving while distracted by your technological gadget is bad enough, imagine what trying to hold up your end of the conversation in your relationship might be. Relationships rely on good, clear communication. Driving relies on good, clear undivided attention and no distraction. The two don’t seem entirely compatible, so it seems to reason the good professor has a point.

“In general, cell phone usage while driving might lead to missed relationship stop lights, slow reactions to dangerous relationship circumstances, loss of control of one’s part of the interaction, and interaction mistakes that could lead to conflict, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and possibly even serious damage to the relationship,” Rosenblatt says in the article.

If You Build It, He Will Come: On Pursuing Our Dreams

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

On Pursuing Our Dreams“If you build it, he will come” is the famous line in the classic 1989 flick, “Field of Dreams.”

When Iowa corn farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) starts hearing voices to build a baseball diamond in his fields — sacrificing all the income from his crop — everyone thinks he’s gone mad. He has. Sort of. But then he sees Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) on the field, and the details begin to fall into place.

It’s funny how you pick up different things in a movie depending on where you are in life. The movie came out just as I was graduating from high school and figuring out how to live my life sober. My vision was very black and white then. It has to be in the early days of sobriety, or else you’ll end up drunk. So I remember the “if you build it, he will come” line, but I thought as soon as Ray’s baseball field was completed, and his daughter spots someone playing ball in it, it was sort of done and over. I don’t recall any of Ray’s confusion and angst when he hears the other commands, does his best to obey them, but gets stuck every time.

Psychologist Says Antidepressants Are Just Placebos

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I will dutifully report on yet another professional’s opinion about the research literature on antidepressants. This time the “antidepressant is just a placebo effect” argument comes from a psychologist.

Irving Kirsch, a professor of psychology at the University of Hull in the U.K., says that antidepressants are nothing more than fancy and expensive placebos. He, of course, does not say this in a vacuum. No, of course not. He’s saying this in promoting his new book, The Emperor’s New Drugs (which, you know, is a “funny” play on the phrase “the emperor’s new clothes”).

Read on for a quick deconstruction of his argument (his argument as presented in an interview online, anyways).

7 Depression Busters for Men

Monday, June 14th, 2010

depression busters for men.jpgIn Spring 2006 the depression of two very successful men made newspaper headlines in Maryland: Phil Merrill, a renowned publisher, entrepreneur and diplomat in the Washington area took his own life. Eleven days later Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan withdrew his candidacy for governor of Maryland because of his struggle with depression.

For weeks, newspapers covered male depression, including the stories of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Archbishop Raymond Roussin, Mike Wallace, William Styron, Art Buchwald, and Robin Williams.

That was unusual. Because, in the majority of media stories and infomercials, depression is regarded as a feminine thing … a result of all of the hormonal shifts and baby-making stuff. The reality? Six million men, or seven percent of American men, suffer from depression, and millions more suffer silently because they either don’t recognize the symptoms, which can vary from women’s, or they are too ashamed to get help for what they see as a woman’s disease. These 7 techniques were written for men to address the hidden desperation so many feel, and to expose the truth about mood disorders and gender.

Our Brains on Technology

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Our Brains on TechnologyIs technology taking over our lives? Or do some people just make choices with regard to choosing technology over interacting with their family and friends?

I don’t believe that “technology” can take over our lives — unless we choose to let it.

So it was with interest that I saw a lengthy article written over at the New York Times, “Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price.” I was going to comment earlier on the article, thinking it was going to be this thoughtful, in-depth look at how technology is impacting people’s lives for both the positive and negative.

Instead, it appeared to be some sort of story revolving around a guy called Kord Campbell and his family. Kord apparently has a hard time prioritizing things in his life — to the point of actively ignoring his family, getting distracted by minutiae of little importance, and missing important emails in his inbox (not just once, mind you, but over and over again). If this sounds more like someone who may have bigger issues than just learning how to integrate technology successfully into their lives, you’d probably be right (but of course, I’m just speculating).

Obesity or an Eating Disorder: Which Is Worse?

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Obesity or an Eating Disorder: Which Is Worse?I fear that I’m giving my daughter an eating disorder with intentions of teaching her how to eat right. Which begs the question: which is more harmful — obesity (and diabetes) or an eating disorder?

I’ve implemented a “one-treat rule” in our home, which simply means that if my kids get ice-cream after school, they have already had their treat and don’t get dessert after dinner. I try to explain as delicately as I can that too many sweets and too much junk food makes you sick. Fat too, yes. But, more importantly, sick.

“What happens when you eat more than one treat?” my daughter asked me awhile back. And, well, I’m not proud of this, but I think I said, while my mind was somewhere else: “You blow up.”

So yesterday she had a snow cone at the pool. That was supposed to be her treat for the day. But when we went to a lacrosse party later that day, a fellow mom trained at Le Cordon Bleu made these amazing cupcakes with the team’s logo designed with butter cream icing. Katherine instinctively grabbed one, but then ran to me, asking, “Will I blow up if I eat this?”

Best of Our Blogs: June 11, 2010

Friday, June 11th, 2010

There’s a side of us that we want to keep from the rest of the world. We put our best face forward while hiding the parts of ourselves we deem too unlovable to reveal to outsiders. Sometimes we do it out of fear of being rejected and other times we do it out of habit. For example, can you count the number of times today when someone asked how you were doing and you automatically answered “fine” even when you didn’t feel that way?

Maybe it’s our society that values doing so or maybe we don’t believe that others can hold our own truth. We all have hidden our true selves at one time or another, yet I can’t help but wonder at what expense?

Being honest about who you are and what situation you are in good or bad, may have a positive effect on others as well as yourself. Feeling safe to share your not-so-charming secrets to someone you trust could help raise your self-esteem, give you a more accurate sense of self, minimize your fears and improve your relationship with the other person. Think about that the next time someone asks you, “How are you feeling?”

Then, read our top 5 posts this week, which are all about compassion, lying and our sense of self.

Introducing The Creative Mind

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

We were sorry to see Susan K. Perry of our Writer’s Mind blog leave after only a few short months blogging with us. By all accounts, people enjoyed her blog and I know I learned something about writing from her insights. But producing new and interesting blog entries week after week can sometimes be more work than people realize. (Trust me, I understand!)

But as they say, when one door closes, another one opens. With that, I’m pleased to introduce our new blog on psychology and creativity, The Creative Mind, with Douglas Eby.

The Creative Mind will explore some of the main emotional and psychological topics that can affect how well or how freely creative people are able to express themselves. Douglas hopes to cater this blog to both professionals and to anyone who may want to further develop or enhance their existing creative abilities.

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