Habits

Swimming Lessons

I have always loved water. The sound of it -- from the lapping of waves at the beach, to the pitter-patter of rain making different noises landing on different surfaces. Staying at my grandparents' rustic house when I was little, I could spend hours lying in bed just listening to the tinkling chime of raindrops against the tin rooftop.

Until recently, I made a habit of swimming regularly. I had forgotten how much I particularly love to be in water.

Some people get to think out the thoughts they have been meaning to sort out while on land. Some problems get solved under the water.

Continue Reading

Disorders

Talk Therapy: It’s Not Just Talk

It’s not unusual for people to be hesitant to try talk therapy.

“If I want to talk to somebody, I’ll talk to my friends,” gripes Nicole. “I’m not going to talk to a complete stranger. What for? It’s stupid!”

“If you’ve got troubles in this world, you just have to deal with them,” roars Ben. “What would talking about it do? You have to suck it up and deal with it, not whine about it.”
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Do You Struggle to Feel Big and Proud?

"Don’t get too big for your britches!" "Don't think you’re better than anyone else!" "Don't get a swelled head!" "Don’t think you are so great!"

Beginning as little children, we hear cultural messages that are meant to socialize and civilize us. We learn to keep our self-confidence in check in order to stay in the good graces of the people around us. Healthy shame makes sure we follow social rules such as not stealing, being honest, or not going to the bathroom in public. Shame is the emotion that ensures we fit in with the groups we need.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Why It’s OK Not to Make New Year’s Resolutions

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you stick to them? Many of us spend the last days of December thinking about what our resolutions should be in the coming year. This can lead to discussions with family and friends about what we should change and resolve to do differently. Then we make our resolutions and commit to them, or maybe not.

This has become rote behavior for many of us -- a ritual we follow, year after year. We typically choose resolutions to change ourselves into who we want to or feel we should be, but are not. Sometimes we choose something really big to accomplish, which can become too overwhelming. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Continue Reading

Anger

An Unwanted Neighbor

Your alter ego, Negative Nelly, inches closer. "You are a fraud. Success? Ha. You are fortunate to remember your child's name. Ohh -- and good luck with that presentation. Maybe you can ask Rick Perry for speech advice." You wince, pleading with the merciless critic to play nice. He mischievously chuckles, gloating at his latest victory.

The critic's name is Isa. He belittles every move, condemning you to a tortured existence. Sensing that twisting knot in your stomach, Isa pounces. Like a bad comedian, his timing is always off -- before a date, a meeting with the boss, or a presentation.

Continue Reading

Creativity

How to Find Your Flow

Creativity should be an essential requirement for everyone’s life. We all need a few hours here and there where it’s possible to lose track of time because we are so engrossed in the activity we’re doing.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone has experienced flow at some point in their lives. Whether it’s baking, writing, painting, playing music or drawing there seems to be at least some form of flow for nearly everyone. Some people even lose themselves in busywork. Regardless, we all know what it’s like to (thankfully) lose our train of thought and become so engrossed in something that you could spend hours doing it simply for the joy of it.
Continue Reading

General

3 New Year’s Resolutions You’re Going to Break — and How to Plan for Success Instead


The first days of the new year are always the same. You start off strong, a long list of resolutions planned, ready to conquer your career goals. And you do -- for a week, maybe two, or even a few months if you’re on a roll.

Then, something throws you off track. The culprit may be a seemingly insignificant workplace annoyance, but it has the power to affect your motivation in a big way.

Continue Reading

Disorders

7 Self-Compassionate Practices and Habits for the New Year

Inevitably every holiday season, there are lots of articles about adopting punitive habits as resolutions -- everything from "work out every single day" (whether you like it or not) to "cut out all that dessert you consumed at Christmas."

This leads many of us to think that rigid rules, strict regimens and even self-criticism are the way to go.

But self-compassion is a lot more powerful. Self-criticism keeps us stagnant. Self-compassion helps us to learn and grow. It helps us to better understand ourselves. And it helps us to lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.

Continue Reading

Bullying

A Little Confrontation Is Good for You

In order to “graduate” from the outpatient psychiatric program of Laurel Hospital in Maryland, we had to demonstrate a certain level of competence at assertion skills or confrontation. It’s no wonder it took me three times longer to be discharged than the other patients.

One day an older woman sat in the middle of the circle. She looked very tired and drained. Her daughter had been dumping her kids off at her door in the morning and leaving them with her until late in the evening. Since the woman was battling different medical conditions, this was very hard on her 
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Mindfulness: Essential for Everyone

What do Oprah, LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ariana Huffington, Hugh Jackman and Phil Jackson have in common? They are all famous and rich? Sure, but a core component of their journey to success is their regular practice of mindfulness.

What makes a life successful? What are its component parts? There is birth, school, college, drugs, alcohol, money, vacations, sex, children, aging, grandchildren, death, and yet there is no recipe for combining all of these to assure a happy life. Deciding that you can know how you will live by defining the number of children you will have, exactly where and when you will vacation, how much money you will make, and what your profession will be is as futile as assuming that you will know how you will feel after eating a slice of orange cake simply by knowing the ingredients that went into the cake.

Continue Reading