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Ethics & Morality

Why Making Comparisons Hurts You More Than It Helps

At the start of a new year, many people make resolutions and are inspired to make changes in their lives. This year my resolution is to have no resolution.

The problem with resolutions is that it can place you on a dangerous course of comparison. We constantly compare images, status, children, wealth, skills or values.

Although dangerous, comparison also is quite essential for our growth and development. We all need a parent, teacher, friend, pastor or role model to guide us and teach us. Most times your mentor knows something more than you, hence the comparison: you know more; I know less. Therefore, I want to know what you know. There’s also the triple comparison: he is “better” than me, but I’m “better” than she.

One tricky comparison is that of suffering. For example, someone’s family member dies and another person’s marriage is over. Though different, both are experiencing the same feelings of pain, grief and loss. To compare the extent of one’s trials is not so important, in my opinion.

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HealthTap: Where Saving Lives is Just Another Marketing Message

After receiving a generic, form email suggesting that I could become a "Founding Influencer" for a company called HealthTap, I decided to pop on over to the company's website to remind myself what it was all about. It's like an for health and medical conditions. Except that doctors are doing the answering (for free!).

And except the answers are, in my opinion, so generic as to be far less helpful than a simple Google search could provide most users. After all, it's unethical for doctors to provide personalized medical advice to someone they haven't seen.

What I saw when I got to the HealthTap homepage, however, bowled me over. Smack there front-and-center was the claim, "12,044 lives saved." As though "lives saved" was just one more accolade to market their services by.

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: January 31, 2014

"Silence-whether called quietude, contemplation, meditation, or some other term-has been universally valued as an antidote to our noisy, chattering mind, so that deeper truths can be revealed." - The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things, Larry Dossey, M.D.
During the few moments I'm home alone, instead of feeling grateful for the silence, I first feel fear. The clock ticking, the wind outside, the sound of my breathing feels unfamiliar whereas a crying baby, the laundry going and the TV comforts me. And I'm not alone.

In Dossey's book, he says one of the natural steps towards health and happiness is something we often avoid doing in our busy lives. Nothing. I'm reminded of that every time I'm about to go to sleep. My thoughts churn ideas, regrets and past conversations like I'm turning channels on a remote, or surfing the net. Even when I'm supposed to do nothing, my mind is adverse to it.

The same can be said about illness. Physicians, therapists, even as patients, we lose our patience for letting time work themselves out. It's actually difficult to sit in stillness. It's much easier to fight, argue, research, do anything than wait around to let things resolve itself.

While it's not always best to do nothing when you're severely ill or in distress, it can be the cure for those who have a mild case of the common blues or what a lot of us are suffering from these days-dis-ease caused by busyness. As you'll read below, sometimes the best medicine isn't the one that comes from a pharmacy. Learn the low cost, no side effects way to heal your life.
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Brain and Behavior

What We Lose When We Bypass the Little Moments

During this past Christmas season, I ventured into Rockefeller Center to work on a project with my friend. I also wanted to immerse myself in the magic that Manhattan has to offer, especially during that time of year when everything around us seems to emit a bit of sparkle. The glorious Christmas tree was gorgeous (as usual), the lights shimmered brightly, illuminating the sidewalks, and festive caroling could be heard.

And yet, the atmosphere didn’t feel quite right. I was being pushed and shoved in a sea of aggressive onlookers who were also eager to acquire a touch of the holiday spirit. Everyone was desperate and determined to snap a photo on their phone or their tablet.

The pace was fast. Movement was rushed. My friend and I wondered: were they really here to absorb the sights, or did they just hope to get a snazzy picture for Instagram and bustle onward?

There’s something to be said for those little moments -- moments that can feel special if we give the immediate present a chance.

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6 Things to Say to Someone with Depression or Who’s Depressed

Lots of people experience depression, while others just have bad days or just are feeling down on themselves. No matter why they're depressed, sad, or unmotivated to do much of anything, one thing is certain -- it's a tough feeling to experience. Depression is isolating -- like you're all alone in it, and that it will never end.

As a friend or partner of someone who's experiencing that depression or feeling blue, what can you do to help? After all, there's a lot of advice telling you what not to say to a depressed person and things that most people don't want to hear when they're feeling down.

We crowd-sourced the following list by querying our Facebook friends about what they'd like to hear when they're feeling down, blue, or depressed. Here are a few of their very, very good suggestions.

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How to Answer the Question: ‘What Should I Do With My Life?’

What’s the first question exchanged when we meet someone new? You guessed it: “So... What do you do?”

In our culture, what you do for a living is inextricably tied to society’s perception of your worth. A stable job with a good salary is highly regarded, but we often look less lovingly upon the self-trained artist or entrepreneur who gives blood, sweat, and tears to make their vision possible.

Why is this? Is the number on your paycheck the true meaning of success?

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Anxiety and Panic

Red Brain, Green Brain

I’ve written before about the anxious brain and what a difficult way it can be to experience life, constantly scanning for danger and overinterpreting risk and threat.

Dr. Rick Hanson describes it as the red brain, the reactive mode that sucks up resources that could have been used for healing and self-expression. The red brain makes it difficult to self-soothe and for the body to repair and regenerate. He refers to the anxious brain as being in a state of “chronic inner homelessness.”

Ideally, we would spend a lot more time in our green brain, or responsive mode. This is the resting state the body is in when not disturbed by stress. Oxytocin and natural opioids help maintain this state where our heart beats more slowly, blood pressure is reduced and we easily digest the nutrients in the food we eat.

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5 Ways to Maintain Boundaries with Difficult People

Maintaining healthy boundaries with difficult people can be, well, difficult.

That’s because they don’t want you to have boundaries in the first place, said Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and executive director of Wasatch Family Therapy, a private practice in Utah.

It may not be a conscious decision. “It's often the only relationship strategy they know.” But regardless of whether it’s intentional, the result is the same: Your boundary has been violated.

How can you stand your ground? Here are five suggestions.

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Challenge: How Do You Add Mental Health into Retail Clinics?

One of the offshoots of our odd healthcare system in the United States is the development of quick healthcare clinics, usually located within pharmacies. These retail clinics can help you check your blood pressure, give you a flu shot, and help you figure out if you need to see a doctor for that skin condition. It's usually pretty quick (depending upon how busy they are), and inexpensive (since you're paying out-of-pocket).

Now the Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation -- a foundation that's been around since 1943 -- has announced its 2014 design challenge to help add mental health to the retail clinic equation.

It's a design challenge whose time, perhaps, has come.

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Adults & ADHD: 7 Tips for Finishing What You Start

Because of the nature of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), adults with the disorder quickly lose interest in what they're doing. The ADHD brain gets bored easily and needs novelty (this helps to boost dopamine levels, which are low in people with ADHD).

Of course, this doesn’t bode well for wrapping up tasks.

The need for newness also means that adults with ADHD often start many different projects and simply get too busy to finish them all, according to Sarah D. Wright, a life coach who specializes in working with people who have attention disorders.

Plus, they can get stuck on a task, because they’re unsure of how to move forward, she said.

In order to finish what you start, it helps to have support and get clear on the parameters of your project. Below, Wright revealed how to do just that, along with other specific tips for following through.

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: January 28, 2014

I often think about those challenging years of my youth. The teasing, the stress of being different, feeling stuck with my unattractive, awkward and dorky self. I've been thinking about it because out of that ugliness grew the beauty of my current life.

What would we be without the weeds in the garden of our lives? From difficulty sprouts hope, humility and honest self-reflection. It is also the meat of our creativity. It fuels everything from blog posts to award winning works of art.

It is for that reason, I'm grateful for my little, four-eyed, painfully shy self. It's taught me compassion and forced me to cultivate my own sense of self-worth. It wasn't always a pleasant place to be. But my unpopularity shut me away from outside superficialities and from that lonely place, I found meaning, purpose and a new way of viewing my life.

Everyone goes through difficulty. It doesn't matter if you're struggling in your relationship, feeling insecure or are stressed out. It's what you do with the hard stuff that matters. Those who share their story end up unintentionally or intentionally become an inspiration to others suffering. Our posts this week reminds us that you're really only a painting, poem or blog post away from making a difference.
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