Children and Teens

What ‘Stranger Things’ Can Teach Us about Parenting

If you are one of the few out there who have not seen it: Stranger Things is a science fiction series that is very reminiscent of "The Goonies." The story takes place in 1983 and the central plot line follows a group of four boys. In the first episode, one of the four boys goes missing. The three remaining best friends do their best to find and rescue their friend. They do so independent of adults. They work together as a team (mostly) and it all involves a lot of bike-riding. We all love the nostalgia in this throw-back drama. As an instructor of college courses in Infant and Child Development, I was immediately hooked on how the show depicted the preadolescent gang of boys.

Prior to the disappearance of their friend, the main characters spend their free-time riding bikes and playing Dungeons and Dragons, a table-top role-playing game. After the disappearance, they use the skills learned through years of friendship and freedom to participate in their own mystery man-hunt. If these kids survive what they are up against, every major CEO would want to hire them. They are smart, creative, team-players who are confident in their abilities to solve problems.
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Habits

When Perseverance Costs You Success

Most of us know that persevering -- staying the course and not giving up despite difficulties and setbacks -- is an important part of what it takes to be successful in many areas of life. Intelligence, or talent, alone isn’t enough if you cannot persevere and weather frustration and challenges.

But perseverance, like other intrinsically healthy behaviors, can be taken too far and actually work against moving forward. When this happens, what may look like constructive perseverance functions behind the scenes as an unconscious attempt to avoid loss or avoid the positive risks required to progress to the next chapter. Another issue masquerading as perseverance, particularly with bright, driven people who are used to getting it right, is the compulsive need to prove themselves or restore a feeling of omnipotence.
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Anger

4 Ways To Stop Overthinking Your Mistakes

You know how when you trip walking down the street, it feels like the entire cityscape of people is staring at you in amusement? Or when you’ve worn the same pair of pants three times in one week, you’re completely paranoid your colleagues are judging you for your lack of fashion sense (or cleanliness)? What about when you fumble over your words in a presentation, and then can’t stop thinking about how every person in the room now thinks you’re a terrible speaker?

As human beings with egos and an innate self-awareness of our own feelings, actions and thoughts, we tend to notice and greatly exaggerate our flaws while assuming everyone around us has a microscope focused on our faults, mistakes and slip-ups. In truth, other people don’t notice them nearly as much as we assume. Why? Because they’re too busy noticing and greatly exaggerating their own flaws!
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Brain and Behavior

Your Life: Are You Winning or Losing?

Many of us have given up on ourselves. We've given up on our ability to manage who we want to be and how we want to live. Modern life comes with a plethora of distractions. Abandoning the potential of our own lives has become the new normal.

I'd like to offer another way: viewing life as a poker game, with mindfulness as your poker face. One of the goals of mindfulness is to redirect us into the game of our own lives. Mindfulness can also help us be a little more playful when we've been dealt what we perceive to be a bad hand.

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Anxiety and Panic

A Perfectionist’s Creed: When Perfect Is Far from It

I am a perfectionist. Hunched over my laptop, my body tenses up. I am searching my mind’s deep labyrinths for the perfect word.

The problem: the perfect word doesn’t exist. And my frenzied search is more exhausting than empowering.

As perfectionists, we strive for the perfect word, perfect relationship, and perfect life. But our quest for perfection is inexorable. Crumpling under the weight of our internal expectations, perfectionism can degenerate into sputtering relationships and self-flagellation.
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Addiction

The Dangers of Rising Adderall Abuse among Teens

Call it a case of unintended consequences. Twenty years ago, the prescription medication Adderall debuted as a treatment for narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A stimulant, with amphetamine as its active ingredient, Adderall helped sufferers of narcolepsy stay awake, but it also increased mental focus and endurance for those diagnosed with ADHD.

Because of its effectiveness and relatively mild side effects, Adderall quickly became a common treatment for ADHD. But as its popularity increased, use of Adderall also began spreading beyond the people it was intended for. Today, students without ADHD regularly take Adderall as a study aid, in order to work longer and later than they would be able to otherwise. In 2009, 5 percent of American high school students were using Adderall for non-medical reasons, according to a University of Michigan Study—a rate that increased to 7 percent in 2013. A recent review of multiple studies published in the journal Postgraduate Medicine estimated that up to 10 percent of high school students and 5 to 35 percent of college students are misusing stimulants.
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Anxiety and Panic

Banished From the Bed: How to Overcome Sleep Cravings

“Just let me lie in bed for another five minutes,” I groan to my mother.

She mumbles before acquiescing. I turn over, spooning the pillow. We have had this conversation before.

For the anxious and depressed, sleep is our salve. It is a temporary reprieve from uncomfortable memories and feelings.

As I crawl into bed, I justify my sleeping patterns. “Well, lounging in bed may be counter-productive. But at least I am not abusing alcohol or drugs,” I rationalize.
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Books

The #1 Thing You Need to Do When You Are Stuck in a Rut

"Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave."

Have you ever heard this quote before? It came from the mouth of Vance Havner, and it sure packs a punch! Feeling unhappy is something we like to avoid, but it happens to all of us at some point. Feeling miserable and being stuck there is bound to happen as well. The very nature of life guarantees us times when we will feel this way, no matter what we do.

So how do we climb out of this dark place when our turn comes? What is the quickest way to go from miserable to happy? New York Times best selling authors Esther and Jerry Hicks believe we can climb out of any situation by taking one step. In their book The Astonishing Power of Emotions, they reveal how following the right thoughts can take us to unimaginable heights.
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Creativity

Be Smart About Time: 7 Tips to Use It Wisely

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn

While we know that time is precious and a scarce resource, reflect for a minute at how often we find ourselves wasting the time we have. Frittering away hours at the computer, playing video games, watching endless hours of TV, and any number of other voracious time-wasting activities can leave you feeling edgy, restless and incomplete.

Nothing good comes from deliberate squandering of time. Note that this isn’t the same as when you consciously choose to engage in a hobby or pastime or recreational or leisure activity. Everyone needs time to play, to rest and recharge, and to gain a new perspective on life. Play time helps you lower stress levels, eases tension, and provides the opportunity to see things clearer and without distraction. Solutions come easier after you take the time you need to play.
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Books

Getting to Know Your 3 Brains Part 5: The Challenges to Becoming Aware

Read more about getting to know your three brains: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

For most of us, at least initially, there exists an uphill battle to pay attention to our three brains -- even though it is ultimately very good for us. Since the foremost goal of humans (from an evolutionary standpoint) is to survive external danger, we are biased to attend to the external world. Looking inside takes willfulness.

Yet, we know that when our Self is aware of our three brains and “talks” to them, all of us think, feel and function better. Why then, do so many people continue to suffer when working with the three brains could help? Many good reasons!
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Anxiety and Panic

4 Hidden Ways Shame Operates

Shame is the painful sense of being flawed or defective. It is so painful to experience this toxic shame that we may find ways to avoid feeling it. Shame is more destructive when it operates secretly.

Here are some common ways that I’ve observed shame operating in many of my psychotherapy clients. Being mindful of the shame that lives inside us is the first step toward healing it and affirming ourselves more deeply.
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General

9 Ways to Increase Your Inner Happiness Reserve

According to a recent study published earlier this year in the journal of Happiness Studies, people who rate themselves as the happiest are more likely to share a certain gene. Despite the findings of this study, can it be as simple as that? One’s emotional state or temperament cannot just be boiled down strictly to one’s DNA. That being said, since one might not be able to control their genetic blueprint, there are a myriad of important factors in one’s own life, like their environment, and personal life choices/outlook that can increase or decrease one's satisfaction in life.

A few are mentioned below. Work to cultivate these traits on a daily basis. Doing so can trump any potential deficiencies in your happiness trait(s) that you might be born with.
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