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Video: On Positivity and the Positivity Ratio

What is positivity, positive psychology and the Positivity Ratio?

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson discovered that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads people to a tipping point beyond which they naturally become more resilient to adversity and effortlessly achieve what they once could only imagine.

In this video, Psych Central’s Ask the Therapists Daniel J. Tomasulo, Ph.D. & Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. discuss the benefits of positivity and understanding how the positivity ratio might help you in your own life.
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3 Common Mistakes When Looking For Love

This guest article from YourTango was written by Virginia Clark. 

Choosing your life partner is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. When you find the man who'll be beside you every day, it impacts every aspect of your life. So, when I see women who approach finding their "soulmate" with so little concern about it's true importance, I feel overwhelming frustration.

They meet and date perfectly good men, men who want to be in a committed relationship; but then they treat these men as if they were nothing special, as if there were plenty more where they came from. They make the same mistakes with men over and over again, get the same results, and are in complete denial about their own behavior. This tells me they don't take themselves or dating seriously enough.

I've also seen women transform into adolescent girls when they date; they have no regard for consequences. When they do this they diminish themselves and of course get less than spectacular results with men. How can you stop sabotaging your dates and give looking for love the importance it needs?

Here are the three most common mistakes you may be making...

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Best of Our Blogs: May 18, 2012

From the seeds planted yesterday, hope grows. It grows from the conflicts we dealt with not avoided, the courage to look at our problems not from a distance, but face-to-face, and the steps we took to better ourselves instead of trying to deny them and put on a happy face.

It's not easy to live life with even an ounce of happiness. It's not easy to grow instead of wither away in self-doubt, negativity and hopelessness. It is especially difficult to seek help when you feel embarrassed or ashamed to do so.

Perhaps you were on your way to recovery, when you had a relapse or you are a therapist who feels burnout or an adult who is being bullied. Sometimes it takes reading how others have survived what you're going through to know that there is nothing shameful about your experience.

This week's wrap-up will remind that you're far from being alone. From tips on how to better deal with adult bullies to facing emotional burnout when you're a professional therapists, we're giving you the resources you need to help you grow, minimize shame and discover ways to make positive changes in your life and feel better about yourself.

Change takes time. It can be a long, difficult process. But start reading these now and they'll be the seeds for that brighter, more hopeful tomorrow.
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5 Tips for Loving Someone with Asperger’s Syndrome

All romantic relationships have challenges and require some work. Being in a relationship with someone who has Asperger’s syndrome (AS) can create an additional challenge, according to psychologist Cindy Ariel, Ph.D, in her valuable book, Loving Someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.

That’s because you and your partner think and feel very differently, she says. And that leaves a lot of room for misunderstanding and miscommunication.

In her book, Ariel provides wise advice and practical exercises to help you improve your relationship and overcome common obstacles. (She suggests keeping a journal to record your responses.) Here are five ideas you might find helpful.

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Climbing the Ladder of Self-Esteem

Each summer I pick a project. A few years ago mine was to develop my self-esteem. According to David Burns, that should only take ten days. But nine months later, I'm still not there.

From June to August last year, this was the routine: load up the double stroller with any floatable object in our house (wings, inner-tubes, noodles, life vests), drag them (and two sinkable kids) to the pool, score some beach towels from the lost and found, and plant ourselves under one of the few coveted umbrellas.

As soon as we hit the snack bar and caught up on the daily gossip from Mr. Snow Cone, I pulled out Burns' book, Ten Days to Self-Esteem, which is about the size of a floating raft, the word "self-esteem" taller than a fruit freeze pop. But the woman under the next umbrella was reading ADD and ADHD for Dummies, so I didn't feel so bad.

My mind wandered back to my first session with my therapist, almost two years ago. "Why are you here?" my therapist asked me.

"Because I feel like a Krispy Kreme doughnut," I replied. "I have no center."

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Video: Tending the Family Heart e-Book

You may not be aware, but our own Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker has an e-book entitled Tending the Family Heart that highlights the importance of creating and nurturing the "heart part" of our families -- that almost magical bond that interconnects every family member with all the others.

According to Dr. Marie's philosophy, it is the heart that provides safety and warmth to all within its embrace. It is what transforms the very ordinary and repetitious tasks of daily life into expressions of mutual support and care. It is what celebrates the dailyness of love and belonging and helps everyone cope in times of challenges, separations, and even tragedies. When the "heart part" is strong, it provides both children and adults with what they need emotionally and psychologically to become their best versions of themselves in spite of whatever stresses come their way.

Psych Central’s Ask the Therapists Daniel J. Tomasulo, Ph.D. & Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. discuss Dr. Marie's bestselling parenting book in this video.
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What is Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder?

In the late 1990s and continuing on into the past decade, bipolar disorder started being diagnosed more and more in children. This became a problem only because the criteria for bipolar disorder in children have never been firmly established. Researchers developed their own set of criteria which contradicted the official diagnostic criteria for the disorder. The research criteria basically did away with the need for a manic or hypomanic episode, and instead replaced it with irritability and anger.

Coincidentally, a few pharmaceutical companies also released a set of medications -- called atypical antipsychotics -- which can be used to treat certain symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Doctors started diagnosing bipolar disorder in children with a looser set of criteria, and felt more at ease prescribing a treatment for it because these new medications had become available.

This set of circumstances led to a reported 40-fold increase in the past decade of bipolar disorder diagnoses in children. This suggests a pretty obvious problem in the diagnostic criteria, since nothing has changed so much in the past decade to offer a reasonable explanation for this sort of increase.

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4 Ways to be Braver

Courage is plentiful. In fact, it’s all around us, writes Robert Biswas-Diener, Ph.D, a positive psychology researcher and founder of Positive Acorn, in his latest book The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver.

And it doesn’t just happen on the battlefield: It also happens in the boardroom, on a bike ride and at the grocery store, he says. Courage lives in the everyday and helps us lead more fulfilling lives.

According to Biswas-Diener, courage “allows you to pursue the life you want, to overcome obstacles that hold you back from living a full life, and to put your core values into action, and it also helps and elevates others along the way.” It also helps you have better relationships and do better at work, he says.

In his book Biswas-Diener defines courage as “the willingness to act toward a moral or worthwhile goal despite the presence of risk, uncertainty and fear.”

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Is Comfort Food Causing Your Depression?

This guest article from YourTango was written by Nicole Burley. 

Well, it's official. There is now absolutely zero reason to be eating fast food whatsoever! For those of you who always knew that fast food wasn't healthy but ate it anyway because it made you feel happy, I have some unfortunate news.

A recently published study in the Journal Of Public Health Nutrition showed that people who ate hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza were 51% more likely to suffer from depression than those who rarely or never ate the stuff. Yikes!

Do you get what that means? It means that your Happy Meal might not be making you very happy. In fact, the food that you may have been turning to when you were feeling sad, lonely, or depressed is actually contributing to those feelings.

How can this be?

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Introducing Sorting Out Your Life

We all face problems and difficulties in our lives. What often differentiates a person from being able to cope with the challenge or not is understanding what’s really going on. Why did we overreact to that comment from our boss? Why can’t we let that painful end of a relationship go 5 years later?

Sometimes gaining perspective and psychological insight means looking beyond the surface, and digging a little deeper. And we hope that our new blog, Sorting Out Your Life, will help you do just that.

This blog will be focused on helping people sort out their lives. Blog topics may include tips on making the most of psychotherapy, understanding why we do what we do (for example, staying in abusive relationships or dead-end jobs), dealing with difficult people in our lives, healing from past hurts, etc.

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Best of Our Blogs: May 15, 2012

A lot of suffering comes from things we don't have control over. It's all that worrying about the state of our health, our normalcy, our lack. Spend a minute listening to your thoughts and you might even hear it. How many times have I caught myself worrying about the weather, or whether I offended a friend, or over the potential of negative outcomes (bad health/career/relationship)? Too many.

You can get sucked into the things you will never be able to control or you can stop that tape, focus on what you can control and get on with your life.

This week you'll read about the heroes who have not only accepted what feels unacceptable, but have inspired others by letting it positively change their lives. You will also learn the role diet and nutrition play on your mental health, navigate relationships when you have ADHD and have a more meaningful life by being true to yourself.

Yes, life can feel unmanageable. But focusing on what you can control instead of what you can't will successfully transform you from the victim to the victor. Not only that but it will almost always empower you, change your life for the better, and imbue it with possibility and hope.
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An Epidemic of Mental Disorders?

Every month, I run across a newspaper or online article about how such-and-such mental disorder is an "epidemic." I can rattle off the disorders that have been paired with this word so far this year -- bipolar disorder in children, ADHD, depression and anxiety, a lesser form of schizophrenia... and the list goes on.

In fact, it makes me wonder whether there's really any journalism done any more, or if it's just, "Let's pair one expert's opinion with the word 'epidemic,' and there's our story!"

The problem with a word like "epidemic" is that, sans a legitimate base comparison, you can always throw this claim around with little regard for actual scientific data. Because if you actually look at the scientific data, you'd be hard pressed to use the word "epidemic" for virtually any mental disorder.

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