Brain and Behavior

Treatment’s Toughest Assignment

“Just this one Netflix episode. I mean, it is Game of Thrones.”

Or “I can spend another five minutes surfing ESPN.com.”

We stall before delving into an unpleasant task. We search for discounted shoes, binge watch reality TV, and devour Ben & Jerry on dreary Tuesday nights. On Thursday nights, we devote two hours to adorable puppy cams and addictive Friends reruns. And don’t ask about Wednesday nights -- after a draining day at work, we slam the apartment door and collapse on the couch.

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Bulimia

The Healing Power in Doing What Scares You

While volunteering at a Los Angeles animal shelter, I met a brindle, 10-month-old pit bull named Sunny. She was so skinny that even her shadow looked bony, and her tail looked like it had been chopped in half and then stomped on in three places. Yet despite her dire circumstances, a joyful energy moved through her. Every time I slipped inside her kennel, she came barreling into my arms and sprawled across my lap, her whole body wagging along with her stub tail.

The outdoor kennels gave the dogs little relief from scorching summer sun. Sunny often panted with saliva dripping from her mouth, and I knew she was excruciatingly thirsty. Sometimes she approached her water bowl, but then would back away with her ears flattened on top of her head. And soon enough I realized what she was afraid of: her reflection. Sunny's body told her to drink, but her mind told her a scary, dangerous dog was in her way.

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General

Squashing Self-Criticism

I strive to use mindfulness in all facets of my living and being. For me, the most beautiful and valuable gift that mindfulness offers is permission to receive, and to let go, repeatedly, particularly of my self-criticism. This helps me stay connected to the good, rather than the critical parts of myself. It helps me to experience my wholeness, and the wholeness of human nature, of which I am a part. This breeds contentment within, allowing me to be more authentic with self and others.

Many of us are conditioned to acquire, or be in constant pursuit of things, feelings or status. Often we feel less equipped to honor and navigate loss in our lives. Mindfulness creates a larger space for joy, making it easier to find in times of struggle.

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Creativity

6 Tips for Effectively Navigating Information Overload

You’re probably familiar with the term “information overload.” If you’re not, you’re probably all-too familiar with what it describes. Therapist Melody Wilding, LMSW, defined information overload as the unease you feel when you have multiple tabs open on your computer -- except the tabs are in your head. You feel frantic. Your attention is fractured. You have “one foot in and one foot out,” she said.

“Information overload describes the difficulty a person may have making decisions or thinking clearly because there is just too much information to be processed,” said Marsha Egan, CSP, PCC, CEO of The Egan Group Inc., and author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of Email Excellence.
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General

5 Classic Spring-Cleaning Mistakes

It’s spring! (In my part of the world, at least.) And with spring comes the urge to do some spring-cleaning. The warmer weather and the fresh breezes make me want my home to feel orderly, spacious, and clean. So far, I’ve tackled three kitchen cabinets, a closet, and my pile of white t-shirts. It feels great.

One of the things about happiness that continually surprises me is the degree to which, for most people,
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Anxiety and Panic

Walk, Don’t Rush, to Judgment

"Why isn’t my date texting me? I thought she had a good time. I mean, we had fun, didn’t we?”

You check your phone again. Once again, your smiling visage greets you. No text, Facebook message, or InstaPic of you and your date.

As your anxiety marinates, you instinctively check your phone. Nothing. Still. You call her again; the call buzzes to voicemail.

Now panicked, emotion overtakes logic. Four times. Six times. Your voice rising, anxiety coats your messages. “Hello, this is (insert name). I just wanted to check in. The date was fun -- call me when you get this.”
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Family

Handling New Responsibilities

At some point in time, we all face new and challenging responsibilities. It may be for work, for our family, or even for the sake of living on this planet with 7 billion other people.

These responsibilities can encompass small everyday things -- brushing our teeth, putting on clean clothes, taking showers, or eating dinner -- or special occasions -- buying gifts and sending thank you notes to loved ones on their birthdays. They can be boring and tedious like finishing up a report for work or attending that meeting that you really don’t want to go to.

The point is we all face responsibilities we’d rather not. The alarm goes off in the morning and we're filled with hesitation.
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Children and Teens

Are We Losing Touch with Our Sense of Touch?

In a society where digital connections are accepted as the norm, "Skinship," written and directed by London-based filmmaker Nichola Wong, implores us to ask a disconcerting question: are we losing touch with our sense of touch, with human skin-to-skin contact?

"'Skinship' was conceived on an idyllic beach in San Sebastian, where I found myself captivated by a group of 20-something Europeans, whose obsession with their devices rendered them oblivious to the beauty that surrounded them and also one another,” Wong told me via email. “I thought it was a shame, but I thought ‘who was I to judge?’ I'd done the very same on many occasions. It was something that got me thinking about my own relationship with technology, and I had observed at that time in my life that I was feeling very disconnected from myself with the increasing prevalence of technology in my day-to-day life.”

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Books

3 Ways You Might Be Making Yourself Miserable

There are many things that make us miserable that we can’t control. Our employer is forced to make cuts, and our job is part of the downsizing. Our colleagues are bullies. We’re born with a bad lung or poor eyesight. We’re too short for the sports team we’ve always wanted to join. There’s traffic, construction zones, storms, and a driver who was texting and smacked into your parked car.

But thankfully there are other...
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Brain and Behavior

The Key to Success? Not Comparing Yourself to Others

The grass is always greener. I’ve been there, scrolling through newsfeeds on social media, talking to friends, seeing successful people all over the place. That's when the feeling starts to creep in that I’m not good enough, that I’m not motivated enough, that I need to do better.

It seems like we focus on the people who appear to be doing better than we are, instead of focusing on ourselves or those who may be struggling the most.

I think, "If I could just do what that guy is doing I’d have enough money to buy a house, to live comfortably for the rest of my days, and my worries would be over."
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Habits

Are You Clutter-Blind? Or Do You Know Someone Who Is?

One thing that continues to surprise me about the nature of good habits and happiness is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More, really, than it should.

In the context of life of a happy life, something like a crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box seems trivial -- and it is trivial -- and yet I find that I get a disproportionate charge of energy and good cheer from clearing clutter. An orderly environment makes me feel more in control of my life, and if this is an illusion, it’s a helpful illusion.
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Addiction

Are You Sabotaging Your Brain?

It does not take much to rob your brain of its essential vitality. Dr. Daniel Amen, a renowned psychiatrist, has spent his entire career trying to understand the ways we can preserve or sabotage our brain health.

In his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, Dr. Amen explores the root of these essential brain robbers. The good news is that because the brain is highly plastic, any good habit that forms over time can replace short-term damage.

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