Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

Leave a comment

How to Get What You Really Want

If you are like most people, you want to win the lottery, but you probably don’t buy tickets very often. You don’t need a psychologist to tell you the reason: You don’t expect to win. Given the odds of winning the lottery, that might seem like a reasonable conclusion. What is important to take away from this is that you take action based on what you expect, not what you want. What you want and what you expect are completely different.

An expectation is a belief about whether or not you are going to get what you want.

As a psychologist who studies how people create their futures, one of the things I’ve learned is that having an expectation that differs from what you want isn’t just the reason you don’t buy lottery tickets. It is the reason there are lots of things you want, but you can’t quite seem to attain them—losing that last five to 10 pounds, going for that dream job or relationship. It is the number one reason you stay stuck in life, because:

Expectation + Action = Creation of your life experiences.

I was working with a client recently—I’ll call her Amy. She was a gorgeous and successful woman, but she was also sort of shy, very self-deprecating—and she had a history of picking the wrong men.

Amy had recently gotten out of a bad marriage, worked on herself, and was ready to meet someone new, so she decided to try online dating. But she was having one bad date after the next. The men didn’t look like their pictures, they would forget their wallets, some of them didn’t show up at all…

One day, Amy came in and immediately burst into tears. “I had the most awful date of my life.”

How bad was he?

“He was amazing,” she said, “absolutely everything I’ve been looking for.”

But then she said, “I completely blew it, I was so certain that this was going to be another bad date and a waste of my time that I told him to meet me for coffee after my yoga class. I didn’t have time to shower so I showed up in my gym clothes, hot and sweaty, no make-up…and there he was…Mr. Immaculately Groomed, Tall, and Handsome, with a perfect smile.

“I was so mortified and self-conscious, I couldn’t even make eye contact. I just sat there staring at the floor and laughing nervously, until I told him I had to put more money in the parking meter—and then Ieft—without even saying good-bye.”

Amy acted on what she expected—another bad date—not what she wanted, which was to meet a great guy.

I wish I could say this kind of behavior was uncommon, but having been in practice for more than 12 years, one of the most common things I hear from people is: I want to change my life—but I don’t really believe that I can. I’ve seen people give up on marriages, health, and careers—give up on their entire lives—because they didn’t believe they could get what they wanted and so they weren’t willing to try.

There is probably something you want in your life right now but you are holding back because you don’t think you can attain it.

When you don’t act on what you expect, you take yourself out of the game. Buying the lottery ticket doesn’t guarantee winning, but not buying it guarantees losing.

You might wonder: Why do we do this?

Our brains work on the principle of anticipation.1 We constantly predict what we think is likely to happen before it ever occurs. If you are walking in a park and you hear a dog barking behind you and then turn around to see Bigfoot, you are going to be very surprised. As soon as you start to anticipate an event, you start to act and feel in ways that help you prepare for what you think is going to occur. If anyone has ever said to you, “We need to talk,” then you know exactly what I mean. When you prepare for something that hasn’t even happened yet, you participate in creating the outcome. In other words, you create the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Because Amy was feeling anxious and ambivalent before her date, she acted on what she expected, not what she wanted. So she got what she expected—another bad date.

One of the reasons our expectations keep us so stuck is that we have the automatic tendency to use the past to predict the future. If you failed once you are likely to think that you might fail again. When you think of the past,2 the same parts of the brain activate as when you think of the future.

However, just because you use the past to make predictions doesn’t mean that your past is what is holding you back.

What was holding Amy back wasn’t her past. It was that she didn’t believe her future was going to be better than the past; and without that belief, she wasn’t able to create something better, even though an opportunity presented itself right in front of her.


If you’re aware of your expectations about a situation, then you have the ability to use your conscious mind to override automatic thinking and plan for a different outcome.

If Amy had planned for her date to go well, things may have turned out differently.

Your expectations about your ability to get what you want have a profound impact on your emotional well-being. A large part of our brain is dedicated to anticipating rewards.3

Rewards, to put it simply, are all the things you want, that make life worth living.

As J.R.R. Tolkien said: “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

When you expect to get a reward, you feel positive emotions like happiness and joy. When you don’t think you are going to get what want, you feel disappointment, sadness, maybe even depression.

The larger the gap between what you expect and what you want,
the more distress you feel.

So, what do you do when what you want doesn’t match up with what you expect? There are only two ways to feel good in this situation:

You can give up wanting what you want—you can convince yourself that it isn’t worth the effort, that you didn’t really want it anyway.

Or, you can change your expectations to match up with what you want so that you can take consistent actions.

How do you do this? There are three steps that can help you begin to shift those expectations. Pause for a moment and imagine a future event that is coming up for you—it can be a goal you are trying to achieve, a work presentation, a holiday get together with your family…now:

  1.  Ask yourself: How is what I am expecting making me feel? If you are expecting something positive to happen, you will be feeling good about it and you can stop there. No need to fix positive emotions. But if you are expecting something you don’t want, then you are going to feel a negative emotion such as anxiety, fear, dread, or overwhelm. Those are signs you have some negative expectations about the situation.
  2.  Ask yourself: What would I like to have happen instead? This question identifies what you do want in the situation. What you want is often the very thing that you’re not expecting. Remember, you want to win the lottery, but you don’t expect to.
  3.  Ask yourself: What do I need to do to make what I want happen? When you are feeling a negative emotion about a situation in the future, it’s because you’re focused on what could go wrong and why it’s not going to turn out the way you want it to. You’re not generating thoughts or ideas about how to make it go right.

When you have a plan in front of you for how to get what you want, your assessment of the situation changes. You begin to see the possibility. This is where the shift happens: Every successful action you take towards that plan starts to change your expectations.

Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t expect this to work for me.”

Several years ago, I may not have believed that a simple process could make a difference in people’s lives either. But I was treating a very depressed patient, who I had been seeing for about six months. No matter what we tried, he made very little progress. One day, I asked him: “Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?” He looked at me with the blankest stare I had ever seen.

After that day I started to ask all of my patients this question and I was startled to find that most of them gave me the exact same look. They didn’t dare to dream about how their life could be different, because they didn’t think it was possible.

So I began focusing all of my work on helping my patients change their expectations so that they could find that light at the end of the tunnel.

Five years of research shows that changing your expectations can significantly improve your life,4,5 and I have witnessed some awe-inspiring transformations. The patient I mentioned earlier within a year had quit his dead-end job and started his own successful company. When you motivated yourself by what you want, change is possible.

In the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”

Your past isn’t what defines who you are or where you are going. It’s your expectations of the future that limit you most. But here’s the good news: You can choose. You can choose to take action based on what you want. And when you do that, you give yourself the opportunity to step out of the past and create the life that you truly want to live.

This article is transcribed from my 2015 TEDx Peachtree talk in Atlanta. 

Bar, Moshe. Predictions of the Brain. 2011.Oxford University Press, USA.
Schacter, D and Addis, D. 2007. The cognitive neuroscience of constructive memory: remembering the past and imagining the future. Philosophical transactions – Royal Society. Biological sciences, 362 (1481), p. 773-786.
Sescousse, G., Caldú, X., Segura, B., and Dreher, J. 2013. Processing of primary and secondary rewards: A quantitative meta-analysis and review of human functional neuroimaging studies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37 (4), p. 681–696.
Vilhauer, J., et al. 2012. Treating Major Depression by Creating Positive Expectations for the Future: A pilot study for the effectiveness of Future Directed Therapy (FDT) on Symptom Severity and Quality of Life. CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics. p. 1-8.
Vilhauer, J.S., et al. 2013. Improving quality of life for patients with major depressive disorder by increasing hope and positive expectations with future directed therapy (FDT). Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 10 (3): p. 12.
Dr. Jennice Vilhauer is the director of the Outpatient Psychotherapy Treatment Program at Emory Healthcare, the developer of Future Directed Therapy, and the author of Think Forward to Thrive: How to Use the Mind’s Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life.

by Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D.
Living Forward
How to Get What You Really Want
Changing your outlook and overcoming self-fulfilling prophecies.

Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., is the director of Emory Healthcare’s Outpatient Psychotherapy Program and an assistant professor in the School of Medicine at Emory University. She was formerly the director of psychology training at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. She completed her undergraduate training in psychology at UCLA and her graduate training at Fordham University, followed by postdoctoral training at Columbia University. She is the developer of Future Directed Therapy and the author of Think Forward to Thrive: How to Use the Mind’s Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life.

Dec 18, 2015

Leave a comment

We Get by With a Little Health Help From Our Friends

Friendship might be even more golden than we think. A study finds that having good relationships with friends and family boosts not just your mental health, but physical one as well.

Researchers combined data from four large studies that have been following, for decades, the physical and mental well-being of thousands of Americans between the ages of 12 and 91. They focused on social ties that participants reported, such as number of friends and amount of family support, and markers of physical health, including obesity, blood pressure and inflammation, over subsequent years.

The researchers found that the more socially connected a person was, the lower their blood pressure down the road. For adolescents, being popular also seemed to protect against becoming overweight and, specifically, from gaining weight in the mid-section.

“These findings add support for the theory that social integration buffers the daily stresses that we all experience [by] having people to talk to, share experiences and the hassles of everyday life with,” said Kathleen Mullan Harris, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina. Harris led the new research, which was published on January 4 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

When we are socially isolated and don’t have this buffer, we may have higher levels of stress hormones in the body such as adrenaline that “breaks down the body and biological systems,” Harris said.

“We hope our research will bring attention within the biomedical field to the importance of social factors and that doctors seeing their patients even in an annual visit will not just see what risks they have like diabetes but ask them about their social activities,” Harris said. Doctors could encourage patients to develop their social connections and engage in more activities, she said.

Why social connections boost health

Research has piled up over the years suggesting that loneliness can kill. Social isolation has been linked with 30% higher risk of early death. It has also been associated with higher risk of diseases “across the board,” such as heart disease, stroke and cancer, Harris said.

The current study is a big stride forward because it supports the idea that social connections could be directly influencing health rather than the other way around, said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University.

There have been questions over whether health outcomes such as obesity could actually be causing people to become more socially isolated, said Holt-Lunstad, who was not involved in the current study but has conducted research on the social relationships and risk of death. However, because the current study followed participants over time, it could tell that people were already socially isolated before they became overweight or developed high-blood pressure.

Friends, family and spouses could be having beneficial effects on stress levels and other physiological markers, Holt-Lunstad said. But there could also be a slew of additional ways that these relationships boost our health.

“It can be everything from the time we’re little we have our parents encouraging us to eat our vegetables … to a spouse or romantic partner encouraging us to get more sleep,” Holt-Lunstad said. Friends and family can make us more likely to adhere with medical treatments and make doctor’s appointments, she added.

However, friends can also have negative effects on your health. If you have close relationships with smokers, you are more likely to smoke, for example, Holt-Lunstad said.



It depends on how old you are

The kinds of health benefits that we stand to gain through better social relationships probably depends on what age we are, Harris said.

For adolescents, social connections have a similar effect on weight as exercise. The young people in this study could be especially at risk of becoming overweight because they belong to a cohort from the late 1990s when the obesity epidemic really took off, said Harris, who is director of the adolescent cohort Add Health.

Among the older adults in this study, social isolation was about as big a risk factor for developing high-blood pressure as having diabetes. These connections could be especially important later in life because that is when people are really at risk of high-blood pressure later, Harris said.

Unlike with the young and older age groups, social integration did not seem to influence measures such as weight and blood pressure for middle-aged adults. However, while the quantity of relationships did not seem to matter, the quality did. Participants in this age group who reported having the most relationship strain had higher levels of BMI and C-reactive protein than those reporting the least strain.

“It makes perfect sense from a life course perspective — in middle age you are naturally embedded in so many networks [with children, parents, your community], it’s almost involuntary that you’re in all these networks,” Harris said. Instead, “it was more what those connections give you.”

You have to have the right friends

One of the strengths of this study is that it found a dose effect of social relationships, meaning the more relationships you have, the greater the health benefits, Holt-Lunstad said.

“Many people assume there’s a threshold effect – if you’re lonely or isolated you’re at risk, but as long as you’ve got someone in your life you’re OK,” Holt-Lunstad said.

Having a mix of different relationships also could be beneficial.

“Different people in your life potentially influence you in different ways … by having these different relationships we may be tapping into additional (biological) pathways that combine to a stronger effect,” Holt-Lunstad said.
“We can all benefit from taking our relationships just as seriously for our health as we do other lifestyle factors,” she said.


By Carina Storrs, special to CNN     Fri January 15, 2016
source: cnn.com

Leave a comment

Fun Fact Friday

  • Lonely is not a feeling when you are alone. Lonely is a feeling when no one cares…
  • Singing helps to reduce depression and anxiety, increases the oxygen flow to your lungs and helps you have better posture.
  • Women speak about 7,000 words a day – Men average just over 2,000.  
  • White noise is the mixture of every frequency detectable by the human ear,
    just like white light is the sum of every color in the rainbow.
  • Only humans cry because of feelings
  • Strawberries can whiten teeth
  • Ironically, the word “verb” is a noun.
  • Having a large amount of hair on your body is linked to having higher intelligence 
  • Because the English language is so complex, every day the average person will create a sentence that has never been said before.
  • Drinking alcohol is 100 times more dangerous than using marijuana, according to a study.
  • Studies show that the walking through a doorway causes memory lapses,
    which is why we walk into another room, only to forget why we did.
  • The most powerful way to win an argument is by asking questions.
    It can make people see the flaws in their logic.
  • Women reach full emotional maturity around age 32,
    while men finish maturing around age 43.
  • Research shows that reminding yourself that a good moment will end
    and that you need to enjoy it while it lasts actually makes you happier.

Happy Friday  🙂

source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact

Leave a comment

Best Supplement To Improve IQ By 10%

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — an omega-3 fatty acid — can improve IQ by 10%, new research finds.

People in the study, who were aged over 65, were given 2g/day of DHA for a year.

A control group was given a placebo of corn oil.

The high quality study involved 240 Chinese individuals.

Their IQ and other measures of cognitive function were tested after 6 and 12 months.

The study’s authors explain the results:

“…oral DHA supplementation (2 g/d) for 12 months beneficially affected global cognitive function, specifically participants’ performance on the Information and Digit Span tasks.”

Brain scans also revealed changes in the hippocampus, an area of the brain critical for memory.

The study’s authors write:

“The hippocampus is a critical brain region for memory formation and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation.
Our results suggest that 12-month DHA supplementation significantly increased hippocampus volume.
Notably, we observed a 6.13% volume increase in the left hippocampus, a 1.89% increase in the right hippocampus, and a 0.29% increase in total hippocampus.”

Best supplement for older adults
with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Best supplement combination?

The use of omega-3 to prevent dementia has provided some mixed results.

B vitamins also seem to be important in warding off cognitive decline.

A recent study found that B vitamins combined with omega-3 can help slow mental decline in older people with memory problems.

The study’s first author, Dr Abderrahim Oulhaj explained the results:

‘We found that for people with low levels of Omega-3, the vitamin supplements had little to no effect.
But for those with high baseline Omega-3 levels, the B vitamins were very effective in preventing cognitive decline compared to the placebo.’

Other studies, though, have been less positive about the benefits of omega-3 for cognitive decline.

It is likely that the combination of nutrients — including both B vitamins and omega-3 will turn out to be the crucial factor.

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Zhang et al., 2016).
OCTOBER 14, 2016
source: PsyBlog


5 Things People With Integrity Do Differently

When you meet a person who has exceptional integrity, you know that there is just something different about them that might feel like an attracting force. There’s no real secret to being a person of integrity, and becoming that type of charismatic, honest person is something that everyone should try to accomplish for living a life of authenticity.

Personal integrity is being true to who you are, personally, in spite of who you are with at the time, since your relationship should only define a part of who you are. Integrity is a way of being honest in your actions and it is what makes you a trustworthy romantic partner, business partner, and member of society.

People with integrity are people whose words and actions match and often inspire us to want to be like them. These are the role models of our society. They show up and do what needs to be done. People with integrity are problem solvers and movers and shakers.

In this article, we will explore the 5 things that people with integrity do differently and how we can adopt their best habits for ourselves.


Have you ever failed to come through for someone who you made a promise to? People with integrity inspire us because they are consistent with the fact that their word is their bond. They act differently by committing to keep promises that they have given. If you can say the same thing about yourself, then that makes you a person with integrity that acts differently than those who do not.

Bullies are not going to like what a person with integrity has to say. The same goes for anyone who is using belittling language or name-calling. People with integrity sick up for the little guy when the little guy is getting picked on.

They have an innate sense of right and wrong and seek to balance the scales of justice. When someone with power is abusing their power, people with integrity are there to defend the powerless. Abuse of power is an injustice. People with integrity see others being treated as ‘less than’ and come to their defense.

Part of a healthy level of self-evaluation is looking at whether or not we hold ourselves accountable to the same standards that we hold others to. We cannot be justified in pointing fingers at others when we haven’t cleaned up our own houses first.

You may have heard the saying that when you point one finger, there are three pointing back at you. Judging others’ faults is an easy trap to fall into, but instead of putting others down, people with integrity lift others up by owning up to their own flaws.

None of us is perfect and embracing those parts of you that you want to change is something that people with integrity are doing differently. Not only do people with integrity acknowledge their flaws, they seek to improve themselves in the areas that need changing.


People with integrity are different in that they assume the role of leader when no one else will. Maybe it wasn’t your fault that someone left trash in the hallway, but people with integrity see that there is a problem and take ownership of it anyway. Another thing that people with integrity do differently is that they are also more likely to be volunteers or people who champion a cause for the little guy.

One model of management theory in the workplace is that of Servant Leadership, as described first by Robert Greenleaf.

Greenleaf says that these are the traits of a servant leader:

  1. listening;
  2. empathy;
  3. healing;
  4. awareness;
  5. persuasion;
  6. conceptualization;
  7. foresight;
  8. stewardship;
  9. commitment to the growth of people; and
  10.  building community.

People with integrity don’t wait to act in case someone else jumps in first to save a drowning person; they are the ones who jump first and come to the aid of their fellow man and woman as often as possible.

In a journal article on personal accountability in the workplace, former NASA mechanical engineer Roger M. Boisjoly says, ‘If good and knowledgeable people observe wrongdoing and simply turn away to protect their own self interests without attempting to correct the wrongdoing, they become part of the problem.’

Boisjoly spoke up a year prior to the disastrous Space Shuttle Challenger mission in 1986 and NASA’s fatal decision to launch in spite of known problems for the operating temperatures of the O-rings. This is one example of how failing to act quickly is one thing that people with integrity do differently; acting sooner rather than later can impact the lives of many people.

Power of Positivity    JULY 7, 2016

Leave a comment

8 Healing Benefits of the Herb Thyme

Not only is thyme a fragrant and versatile herb for cooking, it has a wide range of therapeutic uses thanks to the potent antiseptic compound, thymol, found in the plant’s leaves. Thyme is an effective and well-known remedy for coughs and sore throats, but more and more research is piling up about thyme’s anti-microbial, anti-cancer and other health benefits. Here are some of my favorite uses for thyme:

Eliminating Coughs, Respiratory Infections, Bronchitis and Whooping Cough: Thyme is officially recognized in Germany as a treatment for coughs, respiratory infections, bronchitis and whooping cough.Thyme contains flavonoids that relax muscles in the trachea linked to coughing and inflammation. To make a cough-eliminating tea: Add 2 teaspoons of crushed, fresh or dried thyme leaves to 1 cup of boiled water. Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink.

Beating Fungal Diseases: As an increasing number of fungal conditions have become drug resistant research about thyme’s anti-fungal activity couldn’t have come at a better time. Thyme has been found to be effective against Aspergillus spores—a common type of mold that can cause the lung condition Aspergillosis in susceptible individuals. In one study researchers found that not only was thyme effective at inhibiting growth of fungi, it also increased the potency of the drug fluconazole to kill the disease-causing fungi. Another study in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that thyme is effective against drug-resistant strains of Candida fungi—the culprit behind yeast infections.

Soothing Back Spasms: According to world-renowned botanist James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, thyme’s natural essential oils effectively reduced his back spasms.


Beating Headaches: Medical anthropologist John Heinerman, PhD, author of Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs, recommends drinking thyme tea to treat headaches. He uses one teaspoon of dried thyme per cup of hot water. He also recommends soaking cloths in thyme tea to make a compress to ease aching muscles of the neck, back and shoulders to combat tension headaches.

Helping to Prevent or Treat Cancer: Research in the journal BMC Research Notes found that thyme in combination with Middle Eastern oregano was effective at inhibiting human leukemia cells, suggesting that the herb may hold potential in the natural treatment of cancer.

10 Ways to Use Thyme

Because thyme is so versatile, it can be used in most savory dishes. Use fresh sprigs or dried leaves of thyme in/with:

  • Bean dishes (Cassoulets)
  • Fish
  • Mushroom dishes
  • Pasta
  • Pizza
  • Poultry
  • Salad Dressings
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Stuffing
 By: Michelle Schoffro Cook       October 14, 2016 
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author 
whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty & Cooking
source: www.care2.com

Leave a comment

7 Ways Mentally Strong People Bounce Back

For some people, failure becomes a permanent roadblock between them and success. For the mentally strong, however, setbacks are an opportunity to sharpen skills and become better at what they do. Whether they are passed up for a promotion or their side hustle costs more money than it earns, mentally strong people don’t let failure define them.

Here’s how mentally strong people turn setbacks into comebacks:

1. They keep failure in proper perspective.

Mentally strong people don’t get overly upset when things don’t go as planned. Instead, they keep setbacks in proper perspective. They intentionally regulate their thoughts and manage their emotions so they can continue to behave productively, despite any hardships they face.

2. They practice self-compassion.

Rather than beat themselves up for not getting it right the first time, mentally strong people maintain a productive inner dialogue. They talk to themselves the same way they’d speak to a trusted friend—with kind and supportive words of encouragement.

3. They choose to be grateful.

Instead of becoming upset that their first attempt didn’t work, mentally strong people choose to be grateful for opportunities to try new things. Their willingness to look for the silver lining keeps their mood positive as they commit to moving forward.


4. They respect their vulnerabilities.

Mentally strong people use failure as an opportunity to spot their weaknesses. Rather than dispute their shortcomings or hide their mistakes, they seek to be authentic. A humble, self-aware approach helps them develop strategies to become a better person.

5. They acknowledge their strengths.

Setbacks give mentally strong people chances to evaluate their strengths, but they acknowledge their positive attributes without arrogance; they don’t need to brag about their characteristics or achievements. Instead, they simply recognize what they do well so they can build upon these existing strengths.

6. They create a plan to become better.

Mentally strong people view failure as part of the long road to success. They turn each setback into an opportunity to gather more information. Armed with more knowledge, they create a plan to try again.

7. They maintain a healthy self-worth.

A mentally strong person’s self-worth is contingent upon who he is, not what he does. As long as they behave according to their values, mentally strong people feel good about themselves, regardless of their personal or professional failures. Their confidence helps them find the courage to get back up each time they fall.

Build Mental Strength

Building mental strength is similar to building physical strength. You can perform exercises and develop healthy habits—and give up your unproductive habits—to build mental muscle every day. The stronger you grow, the more likely you’ll be to turn your next setback into your biggest comeback.

Aug 29, 2016     Amy Morin LCSW    AUTHOR OF  What Mentally Strong People Don’t Do