General

How to Love Your Partner When They’re the Least Lovable


Last week I walked in my front door after a long day of seeing clients, arms full of groceries, and was welcomed by a barking dog, a kitchen full of dirty dishes, and my husband cheerfully waving “hello” to me from his comfy spot on the couch. My heart sank and my blood began to boil.

As I proceed to trip over the dog, kick her water bowl and spill it all over, and drop a bag of groceries, praying the eggs didn’t break, all I could muster was a sharp, “Umm, could I get some help, here?” To which my husband responded with a bubbly, “Ya, hold on, let me finish watching this (YouTube) video -- this is hilarious!”
Continue Reading

Bipolar

Touched with Fire: A Film about Bipolar & Artistic Genius

My name is Paul Dalio. I’m a filmmaker, husband of my NYU film school classmate, father of two children, and bipolar. Of these labels, the one I'm certain stands out in your mind is bipolar -- and not in a good way. That’s no fault of your own, since you probably don’t know much about it, other than what you’ve heard.

So how do I deal with this label? What other label do I have to choose from that’s not a disorder, disease, illness, or defect in my humanity? I remember when I received the label at age 24. All every medical book had to offer was that if I stayed on these meds, which made me feel no emotion, I could live a "reasonably normal life.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I was pretty sure it sounded like "just get by."
Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Stop a Panic Attack with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)


It's really simple...and could change your life.

Are you one of the over 3 million people who suffer from panic attacks at some point in their lives? A panic attack is an occurrence of paralyzing fear and anxiety that comes out of the blue, for no apparent reason. Dealing with anxiety and panic attacks is like being hit with a tidal wave.

That's what happened to me one evening as I drove home on a busy freeway, one I had driven on for years. As I was about to go down a steep grade, I suddenly couldn't breathe and felt as if I were about to pass out. My body felt cold and clammy and I was terrified I might be having a heart attack. Somehow, I managed to find a way to pull over and calm myself until I was able to get home.
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Addiction

An Open Letter from a Wife in Recovery

Please note, this letter is my own and unrelated to any Al-Anon approved literature.
After reading An Open Letter From an Addict, I took the liberty of writing a letter back early on in my own recovery. Yes, my recovery.

After finding out my husband was actively using for years, I was devastated. How could I not know? What was I thinking this whole time?

Continue Reading

5 Tips for Coping with the Post-Holiday Blues

Do you hear that sound? What sound, you ask? The sound of calm after the holidays. The moment when we realize the guests have left and the errands are complete. The moment when we finally look around and notice all we have missed while immersed in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays.

Personally, the days immediately following New Year's Day are mixed emotion days for me. The first couple weeks of January, I relax in the glow of Christmas and the expectation of new beginnings. Yet, mingled amid my joyous feelings, there is a feeling of sadness as I realize that the holiday season has ended and normal life has returned.

Since I was a young child, I have loved the period from Halloween to New Year's because of the festivities, the traditions, the foods, smells, and sights. Yet it seems that as soon as Halloween is upon us, in a flash, we are past New Year's Day.

Continue Reading

Children and Teens

The Fear of Having Children When You Grew Up in an Abusive Home

I’ve often wondered what kind of mother I would be. I thought I’d be a terrible parent, unable to make any decisions on my own. I thought I needed someone watching my every move or I’d screw up royally. Then I’ve swung the other way and thought I’d be the greatest mother in the world. And among all that ambivalence, I wonder if I’ll ever be a mother at all.

I grew up in an abusive home where bad behavior and poor coping skills were modeled daily. I spent much of my adult life trying to unlearn those unhealthy ways of dealing with my emotions and with the world.
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

How to Put a Stop to Generations of Negative Thinking

The problem with putting a stop to negative thinking is that we often don’t know we’re doing it. We’re not actively throwing out every positive thought and immediately embracing every bad one. We’re on autopilot. And for many of us, it’s an age-old habit that we learned from our parents, just as it was passed down to them.

Recently, I mentioned to my husband that it would be nice to have a small, single-serving milk steamer, so I could have hot milk with my coffee. “I’d heat up a little in the microwave but it always scorches,” I explained. “Then it makes a mess and you need a whole new mug because the old one smells like burnt milk.”
Continue Reading