Anxiety and Panic

The Darker Side of Flakiness

Everyone has a flaky friend. You may even be that friend. I’ve certainly been that friend from time to time.

Increasing “flakiness” -- meaning canceling plans a very short time before said plans are about to begin -- is a trend generally attributed to people’s overscheduled lives, conflicting commitments, constant access to each other through personal technology, or a combination of all three.

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Brain and Behavior

1-Minute Mindfulness Exercises

Interested in doing mindfulness meditation but don't think you have the time? Below are 9 mindfulness exercises you can do in a minute or under.

Yawn and stretch for 10 seconds every hour.
Do a fake yawn if you have to. That will trigger real ones. Say “ahh” as you exhale. Notice how a yawn interrupts your thoughts and feelings. This brings you into the present.

Then stretch really, really slowly for at least 10 seconds. Notice any tightness and say "ease" or just say hello to that place (being mindful -- noticing without judgment). Take another 20 seconds to notice and then get back to what you were doing.

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General

5 Tips for Being Truly Productive on Your Own Terms

Creative living coach Jamie Ridler, CPCC, lives in Toronto, where it seems that just about anyone answers the question “How are you?” with “I’m busy” and “I’m tired.”

Of course, the same is likely true in your neck of the woods as well. All of us have a lot going on, and we might be scrambling to get stuff done and keep up.

But as leadership coach Tanya Geisler, CPCC, ACC, said, “getting stuff done is not intrinsically the same as getting important, meaningful, soul-nourishing, compassionate stuff done.”
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Addiction

4 Disorders that May Thrive on Loneliness

Identifying and diagnosing a mental health issue is never an easy process. Most mental health struggles do not take place in isolation, and many of us have negative thought or mood tendencies that, while challenging, do not qualify as a disorder.

As a relationship coach, I’ve found that loneliness is one of the tendencies that often come along with a diagnosed mental health disorder. While correlation is not causation, it seems that loneliness could be more of a cause than a symptom in some of our commonly recognized mental health issues.

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Family

7 Steps to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

Congratulations! Despite the sarcastic negativity and nay-sayers, you have chosen a path of self-improvement. Here are seven simple things you can do to make sure you achieve all of your 2016 goals.

Treat yourself.
Your goals require a special type of strength from your mind and body. Acknowledge this, own this, and love yourself for deciding to improve despite the challenge it will be.

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Books

Want to Make 2016 a Happier Year? Here’s How I Did It Month by Month

If you’re looking for ways to make 2016 a happier, healthier, more productive year, may I self-promotingly suggest my book, The Happiness Project?

The first day of the new year always feels so fresh and full of promise to me -- but at the same time, it’s very discouraging to look back over the year that’s just ended, and realize that I’d never accomplished an important, happiness-boosting change that I’d hoped to make.

This feeling is one of the major reasons that I undertook my happiness project.
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Anxiety and Panic

Finding the Illusive Optimism Hidden Inside Us All

"Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them." -- Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD)
In the film “Adaptation,” stressed-out screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has a twin brother, Donald, who’s seemingly perfect. He’s everything Charlie’s not. No, Donald’s not the most handsome or successful guy in the world. What Donald has in spades is optimism.

He’s not afraid to try something new and he’s no stranger to failure. He’s not defined by how others perceive him, and he doesn’t let their opinions hold him back. He doesn’t anticipate the worst-case scenario, so he doesn’t live his life paralyzed by what-ifs.
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General

Be SMART and Avoid Failing at New Year’s Resolutions

Do you know people who have a hard time maintaining their big New Year's goals past February? Who are the people around you who joke, "Yeah, I made a resolution to lose weight, but then Valentine's Day came around." Or "I made a resolution to quit smoking, but then I needed a break at work."

If making and sticking to goals is hard for you, it does not mean that you are helpless, hopeless, or should give up trying. Far too many people make goals that are too big, too general, way too difficult, and without any tracking tools. People tend to create large, grandiose, long-term goals with no short-terms goals to guide the process. Follow the SMART method below to reach your resolutions for 2016.
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Brain and Behavior

Emotions Are Physical

In 2003, I learned that emotions were physical experiences. It was an “Aha!” moment for me. Of course they are!

When an emotion is triggered in your brain, it sends a series of impulses all over your brain and body. Physically, each emotion contains a program that causes very specific physiological changes that ready us for action. We can sense these changes physically by paying attention to our bodies.

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General

New Year’s and Values

In Hamlet, cranky Polonius gives his son Laertes, who is about to venture out into the world, this advice: "This above all, to thine own self be true." (As it happens, it is ironic advice, as Polonius himself is duplicitous and rarely shows the self-awareness he wants his son to embrace.) Deep down, what Shakespeare is getting at is that you need not to be afraid to know yourself and accept yourself, flaws and all.

I'm not a big one for New Year's resolutions, but this past New Year's I had what I call a New Year's revelation. Taking time out to disconnect and detox, I realized what happens when you fight feelings of anxiety and vulnerability and are not being your true self. When you shut those feelings off, you are disconnected from that which brings meaning to your life.

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Brain and Behavior

5 Ways to Get Your Partner to Change

Everyone says you can’t change another person, nor should you try. You have to accept him or her, flaws and all.

While it’s fundamentally true that you can’t make others change -- they have to want to change themselves -- there are ways to influence someone else’s behavior. Below are five steps that increase the likelihood of change and may bring couples closer together.

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Ethics & Morality

Buddhism, Spirituality & Dependency

Recently I attended a six-day Zen meditation retreat (sesshin in Japanese) which included the celebration of Rohatsu on December 8. Rohatsu is said to be the day that Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, came to his great enlightenment.

As a couples therapist and student of attachment theory, I cannot deny what seem to be inherent contradictions of this spiritual path and current research on healthy dependency. First, Siddhartha left his home, his wife, his newborn, his parents, and his duties as a prince to go alone on a spiritual quest. Accounts also say that he left at night and did not say goodbye to his wife or see his newborn son.

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