Brain and Behavior

Why I Prescribe Pokemon Go for My Patients

This week, the parent of one of my patients asked me about Pokémon Go. She was concerned with her child’s obsession and felt like this could lead to social or emotional problems.

Electronics, as with most things, are good in moderation -- but Pokémon Go isn’t your average video game. Unlike games that keep people glued to the couch, Pokémon Go requires people to get up, move around, and interact with others. What that means to me as a child psychiatrist is that it comes with a variety of health benefits. Exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the rest of the body. I’ve seen people walking, riding their bikes, and finding more excuses to get outside because of Pokémon Go.

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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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General

To Be Average Is to Be Happy: A Lesson from the Danes

Ah, Denmark: the little Scandinavian country that is home to tall, beautiful blondes, tastefully designed homes, students who get paid to go to university -- and some of the world's happiest people.

For a country that seems to have it all, the Danes have an unusual way of remianing humble about their good fortune. Sure, it could be their extremely high taxes, dark and dreary winter weather, or that they’ve lost more wars in history than possibly any other country, that keeps them grounded, but many suspect it’s an unusual little law known as the Jante Law that keeps the Danes’ heads on straight. (Many Danes claim that Jante Law isn’t all that serious, and some are even embarrassed by it, but it continues to play a role in defining Danish culture and values.)

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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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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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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: September 24, 2016


Well, it's finally fall, y'all!

Though my neck of the woods is still squeezing out every last drop of 90-degree weather it can.

If you're chilling at home like I am (and hey, even if you're not you can check them out later!), take a minute to catch up on the latest about a possible connection between internet addiction and mental health issues, how to cure your fear of flying, a new plan for schools to support students' mental health problems, and more.

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Addiction

Vulnerability Equates to Success

As a society, we tend to hide from being vulnerable. We are taught from an early age to be strong, be confident, to be anything but vulnerable. This thinking, however, is flawed. Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. It is not weakness.

When we are vulnerable, we are showing courage. We are thinking with our brains while also using our intuition. We are creating change and learning to adapt. We are, in the best sense, living. So, if we are afraid of being vulnerable, are we afraid of truly living?

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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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