4 Ideas for a Happy, Healthy Halloween

Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines the word “ mask” as both “something that serves to conceal or disguise” and something that is a “protective covering for the face.”

Human beings are the ultimate improvisers. The masks we wear allow us the flexibility to adapt to the myriad improvisations we find ourselves engaged in on a daily basis. From the drive to work, dinner with family, conversations with friends... we literally have no idea what’s going to happen next. Therefore, having this amazing ability for response-ability is relatively useful for successful living, at least in my perspective.
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3 Tips for Helping Your Kids Develop Empathy

Every child is already empathic. We all are (with a few exceptions). We are wired for empathy. We are wired to connect, communicate and collaborate with others.

Empathy develops in infancy. “A child first learns to tune in to his or her mother’s emotions and moods, and later on to other people’s,” write Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl in their new book The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids.

They further explain, “What the mother feels, the child will feel and mirror. This is why things such as eye contact, facial expressions, and tone of voice are so important in the beginning of life. It is the first way we feel trust and attachment and begin to learn empathy.”
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The Transpersonal Nature of Intimacy

“In Zen Buddhism, intimacy is a very important word. In the early Chinese literature of Zen ... it was used as a synonym for the ... breakthrough that’s more commonly called realization or enlightenment. When you are intimate, you are one with. When you are not intimate, you are in your head.”
- Aitken Rōshi, The Ground We Share
Most of us experience a deep longing for an intimate connection. But have you considered how this longing stems from the very same impulse that moves us toward a spiritual life?

A vital spiritual life is different than clinging to high-minded religious ideas. Spirituality is synonymous with being intimate with our world. It’s not about the ideas in our head; it’s about the love in our heart. It's about our capacity to open to something larger than ourselves. We come into direct contact with the quiet pulse of life that flows through us and between us.
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6 Questions that Can Strengthen Your Inner Will

When 39-year-old Uzeyer Novruzov fell off his 18-foot ladder during the semi-finals of America’s Got Talent, my heart stopped. The balancing stunt once landed him in a coma for three days, but that apparently has not stopped the circus performer from attempting it over and over again.

The first thing he said when he rose to his feet was, “If you give me another 90 seconds, I can do it.”

“What the...?!?” I yelled to my husband and son as we watched Uzeyer beg the judges for more time.

Inner will -- THAT is what it looks like.
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6 Signs You’re a Productivity Addict

Do a search on Google for “productivity” and you’re served up almost 18 million results.

Dive in and you’ll find blogs, websites, apps, op-eds, subreddits, consulting firms, podcasts, and scientific studies devoted to the art of efficiency.

Our obsession in modern society with doing more is rivaled only by our preoccupation with doing it harder, better, faster and stronger. We’re gunning the engines at max speed, cramming our work days full of tasks, then feeling guilty if we steal a quick second to call a friend or read a book for pure pleasure (gasp!).
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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

Two Ways to Put the Brakes on Your Anxiety

Our human instinct is to react and push back when we feel pain and discomfort. When we struggle with anxiety, those feelings are magnified. Our inherent response is to try and get rid of unpleasant feelings and sensations immediately. But does it really work?

This is an important question, and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) teaches that fighting the discomfort can actually make the situation worse. Mental health providers practicing ACT often use the quicksand metaphor, and the reaction we naturally would have if we were ever caught in it. Even though we know it makes matters worse when we panic and try to get out quickly, our survival mechanisms tell us differently.
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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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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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How to Stop Hurting When You Have a Narcissistic Parent

“If I accept that I can never have a real relationship with my father, it feels like I don’t have a father. If I accept that, am I still a son?”

Jack’s Story:

Jack is a 45-year-old architect, recently married for the first time. He came to therapy to deal with long-standing feelings of depression. His wife, ten years younger than Jack, wanted to start a family. Jack had spent years keeping a cool and cordial distance from his critical father. Now, as his wife pressed him to become a father himself, he felt flooded by sadness and insecurity. Could he be a good father? What if he messed it up?
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