Archive for February, 2012

The Power Of Intentions: Thriving Through Divorce

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The Power Of Intentions: Thriving Through DivorceThis guest article from YourTango was written by Melanie Gorman and Donna Karlin.

In all the years that we have been saying to clients, “Intentions equal results,” the beginning of this year was the first time the concept of “setting intentions” really seemed to resonate with people. Instead of setting resolutions, sites like Facebook were ablaze with people setting their intentions for the year.

The difference?

One is about goals and the other is about mindset.

Consider how nutritionists and dietitians look for lifestyle changes to help people with optimizing their health (and losing weight). They look less at quick fixes like giving up carbs or cabbage soup diets, and more at long-term changes that make slow, meaningful impact. Using the dieting analogy, you’re going to have far better success in the long run if you make a lifestyle change than if you go on a “lose 15 pounds” diet. In fact, eventually, for most dieters, the lack of change to their lifestyle is why the pounds creep back or they fail altogether.

The same difference applies to resolutions vs. intentions. Setting an intention about your life encourages a change at more of a core level. When done correctly, intentions have the ability to create lifelong changes as opposed to “once a year” changes that often fail after the first few weeks.

5 Ways to Build Momentum to Accomplish Your Goals

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

5 Ways to Build Momentum to Accomplish Your GoalsIn The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success, entrepreneur and publisher of SUCCESS magazine Darren Hardy discusses everything from achieving your goals to breaking bad habits to capturing momentum. He believes that success is possible by performing a series of small and smart steps. That’s what he means by the term “compound effect.”

He describes himself as the tortoise, who, he says, always wins the race, because even though he’s slower, he’s consistent. So rather than quick fixes or magic bullets, consistency is key. More specifically, it’s the consistency of applying positive habits that leads to success.

One of Hardy’s chapters focuses on building momentum so you can accomplish your goals. Basically, he believes in keeping a precise routine while at the same time regularly shaking up your everyday.

According to Hardy, “The key to becoming world-class in your endeavors is to build your performance around world-class routines.” Elsewhere he writes: “The rhythm of daily action aligned with your goals creates the momentum that separates dreamers from super-achievers.”

Here are some of his ideas for building momentum.

Label Me, Please

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Label Me, PleaseFor a long while I was afraid to write things such as “I am mentally ill” or “I am bipolar.” I was afraid of labels.

By calling myself a manic-depressive would I trap my psyche in “sick” mode? By accepting my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, would I prevent healing? By writing the words “I am mentally ill,” was I holding myself to a place that I was, but not where I am now, or where I could go?

I spent a fair amount of time pondering this (I’m a natural ruminator)…. I thought about attracting bad karma by writing about my illness, about feeding my anxiety by connecting with others who also struggle with depression, about stifling my spirit by posing all of my questions and frustrations online in an effort to figure out and assemble this humongous, Anchisaurus (a kind of dinosaur) 500-plus piece puzzle of mental illness.

And then I arrived at this guess (because there are no answers): No.

What Influences Our Food Likes and Dislikes? Part 2

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

What Influences Our Food Likes and Dislikes? Part 2In a recent post on the topic of food likes and dislikes, we explored the way food preferences can be affected by the proximity of something else that is liked or disliked. This phenomenon is called “evaluative conditioning.”

The relationship between flavor evaluative conditioning and contingency awareness was investigated in two experiments (Wardle et al., 2007).  In both experiments evaluative conditioning was seen only in those participants who were aware of the contingencies.  According to the researchers, the results of these experiments contradicted earlier findings, where evaluative conditioning occurred in participants who showed no awareness of the contingencies. 

How did they research these issues and what did they find?

History of Psychology Roundup: From Maslow’s Bio to James’s Letters

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

History of Psychology Roundup: From Maslows Bio to Jamess LettersEvery month I feature some of the most interesting pieces I’ve come across about the history of psychology. (For instance, check out this post and this post.)

This month there’s everything from a thorough biography of America’s most important psychologist to a slideshow about one neurologist’s use of photographs to substantiate lobotomy’s success. Hope you find them fascinating!

1. “Abraham Maslow and the All-American Self

In this detailed piece in The New Atlantis, writer and contributing editor Algis Valiunas discusses essentially anything and everything you’d want to know about Abraham Maslow. Maslow was one of the founders of humanistic psychology and is best known for creating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Valiunas describes Maslow as “the most important American psychologist since William James, and perhaps the most important psychologist altogether since Carl Jung.” In the article, he reveals bits of Maslow’s difficult childhood, roundabout education and influences and provides an in-depth discussion of his research and philosophies.

Problem With Procrastination? Try Doing Nothing

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Problem With Procrastination? Try Doing NothingJust about anyone who has ever put off a troublesome task is familiar with one of my Secrets of Adulthood: Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.

When there’s some chore you just don’t want to tackle, every other chore seems alluring. As a friend told me, “My apartment is never cleaner than when I have a writing assignment due.”

In Roy Baumeister and John Tierney’s fascinating book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, they suggest the “Nothing Alternative” to this problem.

That is, if you want to get yourself to do something, make the alternative to that task to do nothing.

Requiem for PowerPoint: Prezi Zooms In

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Requiem for PowerPoint: Prezi Zooms InLast October I saw a Prezi presentation by a colleague of mine.  The material in the presentation was stellar, but it nearly took a back seat to the dazzling, engaging and, yes, spellbinding mechanics of Prezi.  It is a new zoom-style presentation platform that makes PowerPoint look like a moped up against a Ferrari.

And it is free.

Like anything worthwhile, there is a learning curve that needs to be dealt with, but it is worth the time and trouble to learn it.  Since December, every presentation I have done has been Prezi-based, and literally every person I have shared it with was eager to learn how to do his or her own.

It was developed by Adam Somlai-Fischer, a Hungarian architect, as a tool to help with visualization.  But instead he has developed one of the more interesting storytelling devices yet created.  It follows the speaker with a visual narrative of the material.  True to the developer’s mission to “make sharing ideas more interesting,” this presentation tool does just that.  What it does is give the user complete freedom to exploit the visual experience by using a zoom feature. The techies among you will recognize this as a Zooming User Interface, cloud-based SaaS, (Software as a Service) presentation delivery model.

Best of Our Blogs: February 17, 2012

Friday, February 17th, 2012

People act as mirrors, revealing our shadows, the things we dislike most about ourselves. I find, for example, that those who are hardest on others are also self-critical. And those who don’t have compassion for their loved one’s negative emotions usually struggle with feeling comfortable with their own. It’s painful to see, but sometimes what drives us crazy about a person, an article, a news story, for example, are our own unresolved issues. They bubble to the surface in the presence of our own hidden truths.

It may be a difficult pill to swallow when a person we despise reflects our own inner weaknesses or unlovable side. But this knowledge brings a tremendous blessing. With the awareness that we’re all struggling (that we’re human just like the guy or girl we can’t stand), we grow compassion for others and ourselves.

I, for one find nuggets of truth about my own life when I read our posts every week. While it’s not always easy to see myself in them, I know that there is a gift in awareness. It’s one gift I wouldn’t return for anything. As you read our posts this week, be open to receiving this gift. By really paying attention and letting the words sink in, you may just find yourself.

How Fun Is Your Workplace? Your Home?

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

How Fun Is Your Workplace? Your Home?In The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up, Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher make an interesting argument that “levity” is an extremely effective tool for helping people to work better. An atmosphere of light-heartedness, it turns out, helps people pay attention, eases tensions, and enhances a feeling of connection.

When I read this, I thought, “Well, levity would be tough for me, I’m not particularly funny, and I’m not particularly outgoing.”

But what the authors mean by “levity” is really a sense of lightness. It’s less about being funny and more about being able to have fun and see the humorous side of everyday situations — especially difficult situations.

Why You’re Not Who You Think You Are

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Why Youre Not Who You Think You AreIn his fascinating book Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World, psychology professor and researcher Sam Sommers, Ph.D, reveals the big impact context has on public behavior — how we think about others and even how we think about ourselves.

According to Sommers, “Even the most private of perceptions — our very sense of self — is shaped by where we are and who we’re with, though we may resist this notion.”

Our Iffy Introspection

Complete this statement five times: “I am _____________.” This is a short version of the “Twenty Statements Test.” If you were given this same test tomorrow or a few years from now or in a different place, do you think your answers would be the same?

Sommers doesn’t think so. He says that how we view ourselves actually changes over time and location. Even small changes in context can affect our responses in a big way.

6 Ways to Be Resilient in Stress and Kick it to the Curb

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

6 Ways to Be Resilient in Stress and Kick it to the CurbWriter Jennifer Yane once said, “I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days will attack me at once.” Admittedly, I spend too many days myself running from “the attacks of the calendars.” I am thinking that if I didn’t have so much stress in my life, I might be able to grab a cup of coffee first thing in the morning instead of jot down in my mood journal: how many hours I slept, where I am on my menstrual cycle, my anxiety/depression level upon waking, and any other important notes I need to record for my therapy and doctor’s visits.

It’s an awful lot easier to stay resilient, even if you have a severe mood disorder, when you’re not encased in stress. When you have all that cortisol — the backstabber hormone — mucking around in all of your biological organs, staying sane is about as easy as getting off a chair lift for the first time, or so it feels.

Here are a few steps I’ve been practicing lately to stay resilient in my days and nights loaded with stress.

Expressing Your Truth Creatively

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Expressing Your Truth Creatively According to artist Kelly Rae Roberts in her book Taking Flight: Inspiration And Techniques To Give Your Creative Spirit Wings, embracing our vulnerability is key to creativity.

As she writes, “Regardless of our craft or art form of choice, some of our best work can come from a place of vulnerability, of being open to the burdens and even the joy in our lives, then releasing it all.”

Unlike many people think, vulnerability doesn’t mean being weak or sharing deep-seated secrets, Roberts writes. Instead, it means being honest about how you’re currently feeling and infusing those feelings into your work. It means speaking your heart.

Your vulnerability also may have many faces. It may look like gratitude, sadness, joy or overwhelm — among others.

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