Often in our day to day lives we use thought patterns that don’t serve us. Instead of empowering, they undermine.
Historically psychology dealt with fixing mental health problems like depression, anxiety or OCD.
If you think of the stereotypical glass half full, the goal was just to get your glass to the half mark, not to see the potential to fill the cup even more.
Positive psychology is exploring the previously uncharted territory of building emotional health. This means that after there is a stable mental health foundation, we can go beyond surviving to thriving with a few tweaks to the process of thinking. You can begin filling your own cup.
If you are like me, you probably do a pretty good job of this when things are going well, when you are energized, and when you feel in control. Here are three tips on how to keep resilient when you are feeling busy, out-of-control, or overwhelmed.
Know the Negative Thinking Traps
There are 5 negative thinking traps that you can easily fall into. Most of us have a predominant trap that resonates more with our own thought process.
1 .Mind Reading
This is the belief that everyone thinks alike. You know how you think and therefor you think you know what people around you are thinking. The converse is also implied as true-others know your wants and needs without you having to tell them.
2. Me Thinking
A me thinker believes that when things o wrong it is their fault. The believe they are the root of the problem.
3. You Thinking
The you thinker believes that other people or circumstances are always at fault (these people have a large circle of others.
4. Catastrophic Thinkers
Catastrophic thinkers are always stuck in their heads. They have a tendency to anticipate the worst case scenario and they get stuck in anxiety as though their prophecies were reality.
Helpless thinking would have you believe that there is nothing you can do to change a situation or to create a better outcome.
Use These 3 Techniques to Outwit Your PatternsWhen our patterns become problematic it is indicative that our thinking has become rigid. We see problems as insurmountable due to the lack of flexibility or resilience in our thinking.
The good news is that The mind can be stretched in the same ways as our bodies- with repeated action moving towards the desired outcome.
These real-time hacks from UPenn Resiliency Training will immediately increase your optimism leading to greater reliance as they become new thoughts patterns.
1. Use Evidence
Disprove your negative thoughts by finishing this sentence:
“That’s not true because________________________.”
Look from another angle using the sentence:
“A more helpful way to see this would be_____________________________.”
This one is especially useful for catastrophic thinkers:
“If _________________happens, I will ____________________.”
I’d love to hear from you- which type of thinking trap do you fall into most (for me it can be the MIND READING) and which techniques you think will help you. (I’m a fan of the reframe).
Thanks for reading and keep taking daily steps to keep yourself on the happiness trajectory!
Parenting is Tough! Kids don't come with a manual and the demands of raising a child who is kind and generous and successful and bilingual with the correct number of vaccinations and the optimal balance of tech savvy and screen-free, WHo balances arts with sports and MAINTAINS college-track grades is completely overwhelming at the best of times.
I'm pretty sure my parents had the goal of keeping me alive. Period. in one generation we have gone from free-range parenting to HELICOPTERING these bubble wrapped genius children who are ready to burn out before middle school.
Child anxiety levels are off the charts.
in 2017 Resilience and grit are the buzzwords of the parenting gurus. but I think it's fair to say that the parent needs to be resilient in order to raise resilient children.
It's funny because so many parents will prioritize teaching skills to their children that they don't yet have themselves.
I have been asked , by an extremely anxious parent, to teach their child meditation to help with anxiety. When i offered to teach the parent, they didn't want to learn!
I can talk about this from first-hand knowledge. When I left my practice marriage, one of the core value differences between me and my ex was that he always put his needs first and I always put my needs last. I was a total martyr who thought that giving up my needs for my children's needs was the best way to show selflessness- wrong! What I have learned was that i was teaching my kids that my needs didn't matter.;That what I wanted wasn't important. That I didn't value myself.
so back to resilience. of course there are cases of INCREDIBLY resilient kids with parents who are fragile. it is possible for a rigid parent to raise a resilient child. I guess the real question is "Why not model resilience for your children?"
What Does it Take to Become More Resilient?
UPenn's positive psychology experts have been teaching resilience to soldiers, to students and to people like you. Learning resilience comes with the added bonuses of
Here are the skills needed to become resilient:
we aren't born resilient, we become resilient. If you want to know more about increasing your resilience, please email me- tamara @ahamoments4u.com.
I had a chance encounter with a grumpy woman a few days ago. As I exited the local bakery I could see her through the glass door. She was well dressed with pants, and a sweater, both beige and expensive looking and a long asymmetrical bob. She had deep penetrating blue eyes and I would imagine she was in her late 50s. I pushed the door outward and held it waiting for her to grab the handle. She didn’t but made eye contact. I thought perhaps my timing had been sloppy and I made a second attempt. Push the door to within her grasp and wait for her to grab hold and walk through. Again nothing. I assumed she was either waiting outside the shop for someone who was inside or that she just happened to be standing at the door but had no intention of coming through. I pushed again and this time walked through the door to exit the bakery. As I passed her I was met with a hissed “Young people are supposed to hold the door for older people”. “Oh…I said- I tried to hold the door to you and you didn’t take it. I thought you weren’t coming in” “You should have held it open as I walked through” she grumbled with a biting glare.
The Canadian in me wanted to say “I’m sorry” but I am glad to say I had enough composure not to apologize for something I didn’t do. The brief encounter kept coming back to my mind through the day causing me to examine behavior and learn from it.
The grumpy lady assumed there was a shared understanding between us that younger people hold the door for older people. My question- how much younger? I would have guessed this woman at 10 years my senior. Perhaps I was looking particularly young that day (doubtful). Perhaps I misjudged her age as she looked spry and not at all feeble. (How old is old?) Perhaps where she came from the cultural ritual is explicit- the one exiting holds the door for the one entering. (Possible but not probable)
Ask for what you want
The grumpy lady didn’t ask for what she wanted- the door to be held while she walked through, but then felt slighted when she didn’t get what she wanted. If something is important to you, verbalize it.
You cannot brace for the UNEXPECTED
I breeze through most of life fairly unflappable. I would describe myself as calm in the middle of chaos. What was different about this situation that allowed a simple interaction to feel charged emotionally? I didn’t expect it. Usually when an interaction with a friend or family member might be contentious, you can be prepared. If politics is going to be a topic, I can take a few breaths knowing that the subject is important and divisive. Or going into a meeting at work or your child’s school where you are going to face opposing viewpoints allows you to prepare yourself both with fact and with a sort of emotional force field. An unexpected hit while your shields are down packs a double wallop of surprise and aggressive anger.
Not everybody has to like you
GrumpY lady clearly didn’t like me much. I’m okay with that. Is important to be loved by everyone? No. What is important is kindness and I am pretty confident that all my parts of our exchange were kind.
You never walk in another person’s shoes so always assume good intention
Maybe my grumpy lady had just lost a spouse, sprained her wrist, or had been treated poorly by her children. Maybe she had a mental illness or a physical challenge that were not visible. Maybe this was the first time in her entire life that she had stood up for herself.
The point is, what someone says to you or about you says nothing about you and everything about them.
Have suggestions that might help others deal with their grumpy ladies (and men)? Please comment. Sharing is caring.
the goal is not to find something that is lacking, it's the realization of an already present reality. By using meditation to go inward- to connect and reflect you begin to notice patterns in your beliefs that you might want to change or disrupt. That's the first step NOtice your pattern.
A pattern is just your learned RESPONSE to stimulus. any stimulus. A food, a politician, music, a tv show, types of dogs, smells. no matter what the STIMULUS, your response will be either thumbs-up or thumbs down.
this stimulus -belief -response pattern gives you the ability to recognize the belief is always entirely under your control. you don't always control what stimulus you are exposed to, You do get to examine the belief that creates your RESPONSE.
according to Charles swindle "life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react". learning that the power of your reaction is entirely under your control means taking charge of those so-called negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and stress. When you recognize a pattern in your life and believe that it's not working you then you need to decide if you're going to keep it or discard it.
once you know for sure that you want to change a belief, you:
1) gather evidence to support the new belief you want
2) choose a new belief to replace the old one with
the secret to change according to Socrates is not to focus all your energy on fighting the old, but instead on building the new. we need to make sure that two biases that are hardwired in our brains don't keep us from succeeding.
the first bias is the status quo bias- our brains are wired to want what we already have.
the second one is the loss aversion bias- when we lose something the emotions are actually twice as powerful as when we gain something. an example of this would be if I gave you $20 you might be excited and there would be a blip in your joy radar but if I took $20 from you you would have double the anger than the joy you got from receiving the same $20. Knowing that we have this bias to avoid loss rather than to celebrate our gains, we need to really make sure we are focusing on what we are gaining and not what we are losing when we change a belief.
The third step is detachment desires can become very constricting when we want something so badly (like to change a pattern or habit) that it hurts. nourishing wants lead to happiness.
attachment is the natural quality that emerges as your higher self becomes your internal reference point and you let go of what you want and just allow. simply put by Oprah winfrey "I can own things but nothing owns me".
once you have examined your beliefs about things like:
your ability to learn
people's innate ability to be generous versus selfish
if the world is a place of abundance or scarcity
then you begin to live a life of reflection from a place of inner guidance. spending time in meditation helps to shake up this reflection process and makes beliefs that no longer serve you become obvious.
Have you changed a belief or thought pattern that changed your life? I'd love to hear what it was and how you changed it. Sharing is a great way to inspire one another and to reflect on the past. please comment below- I love to hear from others who are breaking free from limits.
Here's a look at what's on my nightstand.
The neuroscience behind human connection has broad implications for how we live our daily lives. Whether you're an introvert (fills their cup through time alone), an extrovert (needs high levels of social time with others), or even ambivert (a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features), science is proving that in order to feel happy and to flourish, humans must feel connected.
How Connected Are You? Take this quiz from the greater good science center.
What Can You Do to Cultivate Connection?Try these six tips:
(originally published by Lifehack.org)
The way we speak has powerful impact on our ability to be successful and happy yet few of us are intentional with our choice of words. Studies have shown that use of negative words like “no” can actually change the release of hormones and neurotransmitters to ones that damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings, and emotions. Changing the way we speak to ourselves and to others through making better word choices can impact our optimism and improve the willingness of others to hear what we are saying.
Here are a few tips on how to make your language work for you.
The most powerful word in your vocabulary…YET.
Often we make statements like “I can’t speak French” or “I don’t know how to lose weight” but by adding one little word, yet, to the end of each sentence you change the sentiment from something you cannot do to something you aspire to do. Your brain recognizes the subtle difference between a hopeless statement and one that suggests that at a future time it will happen. Whenever you start something new, remember this helper word to make sentences stronger and more hopeful. For example, “I don’t know anything about economics yet” or “I haven’t run a marathon yet.”
“The words you speak become the house you live in.” – Hafiz
Take BUSY out of your life
The word busy has certainly become a buzzword of this generation. We aspire to be busy as though it proves that we are doing important things and not wasting our lives. Busy implies doing a lot or even struggling to complete all that needs to be done. I suggest replacing busy with productive or full. This simple switch empowers you to have a results that you control without implied turbulence. Getting the hurry gone and slowing down mentally actually makes us more effective at multitasking. Don’t have busy days — have productive days!
No more SHOULDs.
The word should doesn’t imply a positive action. It gives external focus as to why you are doing what you are doing. If you want to act from a place of personal strength the impetus needs to come from within. Replacing your shoulds with get to, going to, or can creates a much stronger statement of intention. For example, don’t say you should be studying but that you are going to study. Thinking really carefully about the source of the should is a great exercise. It might be our peers, our parents, our culture or religion that has caused us to think we should do something. If that should doesn’t align with what we really want then is it actually something we want to do?
No more I’ll TRY
Yoda had it right when he said “Do or do not. There is no try.” Try implies that you probably won’t do it or be successful. Take try right out of your vocab to adopt a more positive and powerful mindset. If you intend to do something, do it. If you have no intention of doing something then own that. By speaking your truth you align with your inner-self and actually start to recognize more clearly what you want to do in your life.
Start talking positively (aka no more negative)
When you move towards what you want rather than away from what you want, you speak with a much more powerful voice. Instead of saying “I have to stop dating losers” say ” I will date people who bring out my best”. Instead of saying ” Stop arguing with your brother” say “I would love to hear you speak kindly to one anotheR.
It’s not just what you say but how you say it.
There has been a ton of research about how power postures and body language affect your ability to be heard successfully. Here are a few quick tips on how to speak once you have made your word choices:
1. Make eye contact when you speak.
2. Shoulders back.
3. Hands on hips or at your side.
4. Legs hip distance apart.
5. If seated sit forward with arms and legs uncrossed.
6. Use adequate volume to display authority without being loud.
Spending just a bit of time tweaking the way you speak can improve communication at work, at home, and in your personal relationships. Take charge of your word choices to transform your mind.
Have a helpful hint for communicating more effectively- please share it in the comments below.
My eighteen year old daughter recently texted from college telling me that she was so excited for Valentine's Day. Next text ---Everyone else here hates it---. This got me wondering, since my gal has no love interest or expectation of a secret admirer, what exactly it is that allows her to love a day that most chicks love to hate?
When I was her age I was dating a 32 year old. He was the "man of my dreams" and I spent most of Valentine's Day miserable. He was pretty wealthy and I was anticipating a good gift. (I know- don't judge me...I was 18!!!)
We had booked a dinner at our fanciest local restaurant but I was certain that Prince Charming would send me dozens of long-stemmed roses or at least a box of chocolates prior to our date. By 3:00pm I was despondent. I had spent all day at home waiting for a delivery that hadn't come. By 4:00 I was teary- maybe he didn't love me. At 5:00 he called me to say he was on his way to pick me up. He spoke in a clipped tone sounding distracted and distant. My worst nightmare was coming true- he was going to dump me on Valentine's Day!
Then the doorbell rang and a beautiful glass vase filled artistically with my favorite flower, tulips, was delivered with an apology for the lateness. My date arrived and I thanked him profusely. He continued to be cold and our dinner was a semi-silent disaster.
Here's what I later discovered...my guy had ordered these flowers to be delivered by noon. He had spent all afternoon waiting for a call from me thanking him for his thoughtful attention to detail. When none came he imagined I didn't like the flowers, I didn't care enough to thank him, and that I was a spoiled brat, proving what all his friends had been telling him "she's too young".
The stories we had both made up about what we thought a good partner would give as a gift, how a good partner would respond to getting a gift and what a "perfect" Valentine's Day looked like had allowed us to ruin what could have been a great night. My date gave me a thoughtful gift and took me out for a romantic meal. I was impressed, thankful and in love.
This brings me to my point. Most Valentine haters hate it because the reality of the day cannot meet their imaginary expectations. I suggest, on Valentine's Day (and every day);
1) Be present.
2) Don't ruin what is with what "should be".
3) The story you are telling yourself is imaginary. Make it a supportive one.
4) Understand love languages are different.
5) Love is always worth celebrating. When you don't feel you are receiving love, GIVE MORE LOVE!
If you have a Valentine-gone-wrong story, or even better, a Valentine-gone-right, I'd love to hear it! Love never decreases when shared so put your story in the comments.
I hope you have a beautiful Valentine's Day...here's what it has looked like at our house over the years.
Kellyanne Conway is a new pioneer in the psychological field of lying. She made the news a few days ago when she described the number discrepancy at the Trump inauguration as alternative facts. This post IS NOT about politics. No matter what your opinion, we need to understand what is fact and what is fiction.
When does the black and white between truth and lie become grey?
If you are like most people on the planet, at some point you have stretched the truth or perhaps even told a blatant untruth. Here are the straight facts about truth.
Lying is an automatic response designed to protect the self from harm.
Where the grey area comes into play is when the liar thinks they are being truthful. This can be when someone doesn't recognize their true feelings. It can be a story that someone has told again and again until they believe it. It's not so much a deception of others as it is a decption of self.
I'd love to hear if you think there is ever a right time for not telling the truth. I know my opinion and sharing yours can help others to form theirs. Please comment below or email me email@example.com.
I'm a happiness expert. This doesn't mean I am happy all the time. It also doesn't mean I run around spouting positive thoughts and hugging strangers.
Happiness gets a bum rap sometimes. Educated people believe that happiness is a sign of lower intellect and creatives feel that creativity is heightened by angst. Virtually everywhere you look you are being told that it's okay to be unhappy.
When I first began delving into happiness 20 years ago, I thought that learning to be happier meant that I was failing somehow when I experienced sadness or anger.
Over time I have come to see that happiness is always a choice and that it is equally okay to choose happiness as it is to choose any of the other emotions. What I am suggesting about happiness are two things:
1) Just because you look happy doesn't mean you are. You don't need to be obnoxiously perky to be happy. (I know, that statement has a whole lot of judgement wrapped up in it AND it's true). I am a really happy person. To the core or my being. I am calm in chaotic times and I take pleasure from the little moments every single day. I don't jump up and down much and I rarely squeal. I don't talk quickly or loudly and I don't use hand gestures that could be mistaken for interpretive dance. There are some people who do all of these thing from their heart, naturally. Then there are others who think they need to do all of these things to embody their happiness. Usually, someone who is trying this hard to look happy might not actually be happy.
2) Just because others tell you you shouldn't be happy doesn't mean your happiness is wrong. We are surrounded by rules, judgements, and societal norms. "Death is sad". "There is a time and a place for fun". "Becoming angry when I see violence shows I have morals".
All three of these statments sound true. But in some cultures death isn't sad, rather a time of celebration. Fun is internal and can be had at any time and place. Meeting violence with anger is similar to hitting a child to get them to stop hitting. No matter what the popular opinion, if you feel happy then it's okay to be happy.
Happiness labelling can be part of the problem. In troubled times, when suddenly there is hope, it can feel like happiness. In a work situation where we get "in the flow" it also feels like happiness. No matter what anyone tells you if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, it's probably a duck.
Science cannot even decide on a definition for happiness. If you ask ten positive psychology experts you will get ten definitions. Is it any wonder that happiness is so confusing?
It seems that an abundance of happiness is more of a problem to the people around the happy person than to the happy person themself. Or the person in constant pursuit of happiness who can actually become unahppier as they place an unbalanced focus on being happy.
So perhaps, to answer the question "Can you be too happy?" is simply NOT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE.
Do you have a story about being happy when it felt out of place or do you know someone who oozes happy in a manic kind of way? I'd love to hear your stories about being "too happy". Comment below or email me at tamara @ahamoments4u.com.