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Positive Psychology: The Benefits of Living Positively

Positive psychology often is passed off as pop psychology or New Age-y by those who haven’t actually looked into it.

The actual theory behind positive psychology was defined in 1998 by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi [1] and looks at all aspects of a person’s psychology. It does not discount traditional psychology, nor supersede it. Rather than viewing psychology purely as a treatment for the malign, however, it looks at the positive. Positive psychology is a recognized form of therapy and is offered by some counselors and psychologists.

Psychology has always been interested in where people’s lives have gone wrong, and what has resulted because of it [2]. Illnesses such as depression are well-documented and patterns of depressive behavior well-known. However, until recently, what makes people happy and how they achieve inner happiness and well-being has been a mystery.

Practitioners of positive psychology study people whose lives are positive and try to learn from them, in order to help others achieve this state of happiness [3]. It is a scientific study and not remotely hippie-ish, despite its connotations.

Positive thinking is one aspect of positive psychology. Surrounding yourself with a great lifestyle and material goods may seem to lead to happiness, but how you really feel is governed by what goes on inside your head. When you go out of your way to think positively, you actually purge yourself of negative self-talk. [1]

Negative self-talk is one of the biggest barriers to positive thinking. People become so accustomed to negative thinking that their conscious mind will pull them down, even when they have done nothing wrong. These people become insecure, overly apologetic and indecisive. Worse still, they open the door to numerous stress-related problems.


Negative thinkers have four common mindsets:

=> Filtering.
Many negative thinkers will pull the negatives out of a situation and focus on them. Sometimes these people will see only the negative in a situation, to the point where they deny any positive.
=> Personalizing.
Some people make every tragedy about themselves. They will personalize every negative thing and assume that bad things happen because they are unlucky, or as a result of something they did or didn’t do. They will often construct negative situations with perfect logic, providing plausible reasons why negative things are either their fault or set out to hurt them.
=> Catastrophizing.
This involves anticipating the worst. Some people even precipitate it. They can turn a slightly awkward interaction into an overreaction, making the situation worse. If something negative does happen, they will use it to validate their negative assumptions.
=> Polarizing.
This type of negative thinker sees things as black or white. Either a situation is perfect or it is a catastrophe. This type of negative thinking can affect every area of a person’s life. Its effects can be both psychological and physical. By practicing positive thinking, you can actually stave off medical conditions and reap the benefits of having a positive outlook on life.

Depression is complicated illness with physical and mental health elements. It would be flippant to suggest that someone with a positive outlook will not encounter depressive feelings.

However, positive psychology can be beneficial in treating depression. It can equip sufferers with the tools to stop downward spirals when they begin and help them to see the positive aspects to their lives. It can also help to stop the negative thinking habits that are common in depression. [4]

Scientific studies also show that there is a direct link between stress and the immune system. When a person is experiencing a period of stress and negativity, his or her body is less able to mount an inflammatory response to attacks from bacteria and viruses. This results in an increase in infections such as the common cold and cold sores. [5] Having a positive outlook on life also equips people better for dealing with serious illness. Tackling diseases such as cancer with optimism and self-belief has shown to have a beneficial effect on recovery and ability to tolerate treatment.

Among the other health benefits listed above, positive thinkers have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. They tend to have lower blood pressure than those who do not engage in positive thinking. The health benefits extend to the emotional side, too. optimists will have better physical and psychological well-being, and better skills for coping with stress and hardship.

It is important to remember that simply having a positive mindset won’t actually stop bad things from happening. But it does give you the tools to better deal with bad situations. Sometimes your coping skills come down to nothing more than refusing to give in to your negative side and your fears. For some people, positive thinking comes quite naturally. For others, seeking professional help is necessary to get them on the right track.


References

[1] http://www.ippanetwork.org/divisions/
[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2003/nov/19/1
[3] http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.asp
[4] http://www.positivepsychologytraining.co.uk/depression/
[5] Miller, G. E. & Cohen, S. (2005). Infectious disease and psychoneuroimmununology. In K. Vedhara & M. Irwin (Eds.). Human psychoneuroimmunology. New York: Oxford University Press.
[6] http://uhs.berkeley.edu/students/healthpromotion/pdf/Positive%20Thinking.pdf

By Joanna Fishman              8 Jul 2018
happiness

 

20 Things to Avoid if You Want to Be Happier

Life requires that we prioritize what is important. The simple reason is that we don’t have enough time to do all – or even most – of the things that make us happier.

Part of prioritizing means saying “no” to certain people and things.

In this article, we’re going to focus our attention on 20 things that we would do well to say “no.” You’ll see many familiar things on here (T.V., anyone?) However, you may be a bit more surprised at some of the other things that can make you happier.

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND SAY ‘NO’ TO THESE 20 THINGS TO BECOME HAPPIER:

1 – ALCOHOL/DRUGS
For those made to suffer through the atrocious circa 90s “Just Say No” commercials, we apologize.

Drugs are atrociously bad for mental and physical health. Drugs ruin lives, families, and institutions. Per statistics published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug abuse and addiction cost American society alone over $700 billion per year.

It’s common for substance abuse to abuse both alcohol and drugs. There also exist correlations between substance abuse and mental health problems.

The message here is simple: stay away from drugs and limit alcohol intake.

2 – MORE WORK
Some people love what they do, and that’s a beautiful place to be. For the rest of us, however, work should be viewed as a necessity to live. You’d think that we live forever considering just how much time some people spend at the office.

Per a report by the American Institute of Stress (AIS), “job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults,” adding, “[job stress] has escalated progressively over the past few decades.” (Emphasis added)

3 – FAST FOOD
Unless you’re super careful, and the place that you eat offers healthy options, fast food can show up on your waistline quick. Statistics show that a fast food meal contributes a disproportionately high percentage of daily caloric intake.

Over 50 million North Americans eat fast food every day or about 15 percent of the population.

4 – PROCRASTINATION
It may bring some comfort to know that the cause of procrastination is solely psychological – i.e., it has little to do with your willpower. Highly anxious individuals seem to have more difficulty with the procrastination bug than others.

So what to do? Just get started. Don’t think about how much work needs to be done. Emotional pain and discomfort associated with procrastination drop precipitously after an action is taken.

5 – DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS
The era we’re now living in is the most distracted in human history. One massive reason for this is the sheer ubiquity of mobile devices.

The problem is that these distractions are both alluring and addicting. Things like “distracted driving” have become a real thing. Some research shows that our attention span is shrinking as the digital age evolves.

6 – MAKING EXCUSES
Excuses do nothing but disempower you and those around you. While the adage “You’re stronger than you think” may seem overly cliché, it’s nonetheless true.

The cool thing is that once you stop making excuses, you realize how much happier you feel. It feels as if you’re retaking control of your life, which you are.

7  – WATCHING T.V.
The amount of television that people watch is insane.

Per a Nielsen report, the average American spends about 35.5 hours watching the tube. The problem with this isn’t so much the activity in itself – but the opportunity cost.

That is, those hours you could use say exercising, building a business plan, spending time with the family, and other more meaningful things.

8 – PERFECTIONISM
Speaking of procrastination, one of the more common reasons that people put things off is fear – and this includes fear born of perfectionism. For the uninitiated, perfectionism is the unhealthy striving for, well, perfection.

Not only is perfectionism unrealistic, but it’s also unhealthy. Perfectionistic tendencies are connected to multiple clinical issues, including anxiety and depression, eating disorders, chronic fatigue, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

9 – SUGAR
Okay, so it may be very difficult – perhaps even impossible – to completely abstain from sugar. However, one would be well-advised to curb any intake. Per an article published by Harvard University’s health publication, “The effects of added sugar intake – higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease – are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.”

10 – OVERSPENDING
Psychologists and other behavioral experts have thoroughly debunked the idea that money can buy happiness. So why do we keep spending too much? It’s all psychological. To overcome the habit requires diligence, patience, and discipline.

The cool thing is that once the seed habit of saving is planted, people find that they enjoy it.

11 – MIND-WANDERING OR RUMINATION
Rehashing what “could’ve/would’ve/should’ve been” is a complete waste of time. Unfortunately, the human brain is uniquely wired for pointless thinking. According to a widely-cited study by Harvard researchers Gilbert and Killingsworth, our minds drift about in aimless thinking about half of our waking hours.

Unsurprisingly, this constant turning over of the mind is not conducive to becoming happier. The conclusions reached by Gilbert and Killingsworth: “(I) people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is…(ii) doing so typically makes them unhappy.”

12 – COMPARING YOURSELF
We have an unhealthy obsession with comparing ourselves with others. Such is particularly true in consumer-driven societies like the United States, where possessions and status are so coveted.

But comparing yourself to people does nothing but make us feel worse. It’s not easy to stop such an ingrained response, but we can take a step in the right direction by intentionally redirecting our focus when such thoughts arise.

13 – NOT FINISHING THINGS
We do enough things. So, this one’s not that bad, except that leaving things undone creates unnecessary mental tension and, studies show, drains our cognitive reserves.

The answer lies in a two-step process: (1) determining which endeavors are indeed worth committing to, and (2) avoiding everything else.

14 – NO OR TOO MUCH ALONE TIME
Neither too much nor too little seclusion is healthy. While we introverts may treasure our solo status, it doesn’t change the biological evolution of our brains.

On the flip side, while extroverts may despise being by themselves, such time is crucial for reflection and rejuvenation.

15 – THE MAINSTREAM NEWS
Okay, so perhaps doing away all news is unpractical – perhaps even unadvisable. But you should know that the unfortunate adage that “Bad news sells” is (a) true, and (b) media companies leverage this fact. This helps to explain why most of the news we read elicits feelings of fear and sadness.

So, don’t entirely ignore the news (though you could do worse), but watch how much attention you’re paying to it.

16 – NEGATIVITY
First off, we’re not telling you to ignore every instance of negativity, though limiting it is most certainly beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Everyone feels a bit negative from time to time.

We’re talking about limiting your exposure to consistently negative people. Sure, there are those rays of sunshine who can handle the negativity, though they’re few and far between. The rest of us need to watch how much time we’re spending amidst these folks to become happier.

17 – SHALLOW WORK
The term “shallow work” was coined by MIT-trained computer scientist and professor, Cal Newport. Instead of defining shallow work, let us note its opposite – what Newport calls (naturally) “Deep Work.”

Per Newport, Deep Work describes “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit.”

Why engage in deep work? Because it “[creates] new value, [improves] your skill,” and, perhaps most importantly, “are hard to replicate.” Read: you’ll make more money and live happier.

18 – INCONSISTENCY
Being inconsistent in your efforts is detrimental to the achievement of the life you desire. It does little good to be filled with motivation and drive one day and then drift back into the same ole’ bad habits the next.

Inconsistency is often the byproduct of poor planning. As such, it is crucial to have a plan going into the day.

19 – SOCIAL MEDIA
Let’s bring Cal Newport back into the story. Besides being a big fan of sustained attention, Newport is a digital minimalist. In other words, he’s Facebook’s and Twitter’s worst nightmare. In one talk, he rails against the former, calling the social media platform an “entertainment product” – and, essentially, a colossal waste of time.

The fact that the average person spends 2.5 hours per day on social media does little to counter Newport’s argument.

20 – TAKING THINGS TOO SERIOUSLY

Here’s an exciting experiment: go anywhere you want, sit down with a beverage of your choice, and observe people for one hour. Watch closely. (Not too closely, lest an officer of the law intervenes.)

All joking aside: what do you see? Are people rushing around? Scrunched-up faces and tight shoulders? A seeming lack of purpose or direction?

This is how most people live their lives. Some people never stop living this way from the time they’re told to “grow up.”

Cliché time! Life is too short to take things so darn seriously. Let’s loosen up and be happier!

 


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Positive People: The 3 Emotionally Intelligent Behaviors They Practice Daily

Engage negativity with the weapons of positivity.

There is simply no magic pill when it comes to becoming a more positive person. Everything behind what they do can be boiled down to one word: mindset.

To become more positive, especially in negative work environments that strip you of your joy and dignity, you have to engage the negative forces that surround you with three weapons of positivity.

1. Develop your self-awareness.

Self-awareness is a weapon used to protect you from yourself and your shortcomings. Remember to first inspect whether you’re the source of negative behavior. For example, are you a gossiper? If so, ask yourself three questions:

  •     How does it make me feel when I spread rumors?
  •     Why do I need to have this feeling?
  •     What does the behavior of talking bad behind someone’s back reveal to others about my own attitude?

This is where a boost of self-awareness does wonders. If you’re like most people bent on becoming more positive, you’ll probably gain some insight into how you are perceived when spreading gossip.

While getting to the core of your attitude and why it influences your behavior isn’t a cure-all solution, it’s a great first step to positivity. It also helps to expose the things that you’ve been hiding from yourself.

positivity

 

2. Break down your negative support systems.

Now that you’ve gained self-awareness, your next weapon is used to scan the landscape to determine what support systems are in place that reinforce negative attitudes and behaviors.

In the workplace, you’ll often find pockets of people and outdated management practices (like micromanagement or controlling behaviors) that often support and feed a toxic work culture.

Sticking with the theme of gossip, a willingness to actively participate in it and listen to circles of gossip is an example of how you may be feeding into the negative support system that fuels toxicity.

One weapon of positivity to counter this type of stronghold is to outright reject any association with negative forces that don’t promote the values of respect, trust, and accountability.

Plan to attack negative behaviors at the spot where they’re weakest. For example, if you really want to stop being around gossip, put limits on those who do it. Turn down lunch invitations from gossiping peers and co-workers, and walk away from sidebar and parking lot conversations that are beckoning to suck you into the negativity.

3. Have positive substitutes for negative behaviors.

Finally, replace those negative support systems with positive options that will deliver better results. We’re talking here about intentionally seeking out work relationships with positive people who share the very values that lead to healthy collaboration, safe work engagement, and energizing productivity.

You’ll know these positive people after a while; they’re the ones who have strict boundaries themselves and never get sucked into negativity. They think ahead about how to improve a bad situation, take accountability for their actions, and move toward contributing to solutions to organizational problems with positive intent.

By Marcel Schwantes    Principal and founder, Leadership From the Core     @MarcelSchwantes
source: www.inc.com


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Rewire Your Brain to Think Positively

When you walk into your kitchen, what do you notice first, the beautiful flowers on the counter or dirty dishes in the sink?

If it’s the dirty dishes, that would be quite common – noticing the negative before the positive.

Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and best-selling author, reported that we’re evolutionarily wired to notice bad over good. This clearly made sense 200,000 years ago for our ancestors who were trying to avoid threats and survive.

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself and change its hardwiring structures over our lifetime. This can be both positive and negative for our mental health. If we’re not aware that our brain has a natural bias to notice negativity first, and we don’t know that we can train it to see more positively, we risk becoming more prone to focusing on negativity. This can impact our thinking, emotions and general mental health. As negativity becomes more intense, it can result in increased risk for mental illness such as depression.

It’s beneficial to understand some basic brain research in order to take positive action to offset thinking patterns that promote negative plasticity. With proper treatment and support, we can learn to stop negativity and repair the brain so it can become more positively wired. This is the micro skill of thinking of the positives first.

Awareness

This micro skill leverages lessons learned from meditation. They promote the benefits of being patient when learning this skill and not judging yourself, just noticing and then gently refocusing your attention. When you walk into a situation, approach it with the intention of looking for the positive. By being aware that your brain is naturally biased, and reminding and refocusing, you can train it to find the positive first.

Accountability

If you’ve been overly prone to see the negative first and have a difficult time seeing the positive, this can be changed if you really want to. For this micro skill to work it’s necessary to understand and accept that only you can directly impact your brain to increase its positive plasticity. If you can’t seem to do it alone, professionals can help you learn how. Positive change begins with awareness, and requires self-motivation. If you’re committed to find more of the positives in your life, this can benefit your mental health over time.

You can teach your brain to focus on the positives instead of the negatives
 to help improve your wellbeing and mental health.

Action

Your brain’s wiring is impacted by your habitual thinking habits. The more you create positive plasticity, the more likely you’ll wire more happiness into your brain.

1. Search for the positives.

Before you walk into your home after work, make a commitment that you’ll notice three positives before allowing your brain to focus on a negative. You can take this practice to work, team sports and relationships. This trains your brain to look for the positive over the negative. If your brain goes to a negative, don’t judge it; release it and move on to find the positive.

2. Give the positive more air time and importance.

It’s common for people when they get together to talk about what’s not working and focus on negatives. Make a commitment to give the positives more air time when you interact with others. By focusing on the positive and talking about it you create conditions and expectations for your brain to notice more positives, so you have more to share. This activity can influence others to think positively, which will help them as well.

3. Refocus to the positive.

Life isn’t perfect, so there will be times when you have a challenge that’s not positive and you want it over with. The key is to move away from the negative, because it inhibits you from finding a solution. By acknowledging the challenge and changing your focus to finding a solution – a positive – you move your attention away from the fear centre of the brain to turn on other parts that drive decision making and planning. This helps to increase your resiliency and move through life’s challenges and setbacks.

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto.

This article supports The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell’s Employee Recommended Workplace Award. This award recognizes employers who have the healthiest, most engaged and most productive employees. It promotes a two-way accountability model where an employer can support employees to have a positive workplace experience.

Bill Howatt    SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL    NOVEMBER 1, 2017


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10 Simple Ways To Bring Positive Energy Back Into Your Life

“The worst times can be the best if you think with positive energy.” 
– Domenico Dolce

Have you wondered what exactly is positive energy? According to Annie’s Hallmark, “Positive energy is the natural energy that supports life.  Ancients commonly referred to this energy as “chi” or “prana,” but today science refers to this as “vital force.”

Feeling low or negative is a normal thing that happens with all of the ups and downs that life has to offer. It can be easy to just wallow in those feelings, but we all hold the responsibility of bringing ourselves back from those negative feelings. Oftentimes, we tend to wait for positivity to happen to us, rather than learning how to bring positivity into our lives ourselves.

Dr. Judith Orloff, author of Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength, and Love says, “We can’t stop the negative circumstances of our time–our cell phones will keep ringing, e-mails will keep coming, people will be rude, our children will be demanding, and bad things will happen in the world. But we can learn ways to protect our energy so that we can stay centered in dealing with the stresses that arise.”

Therefore, it’s important to know how to bring positive energy into your life so you can move forward as a better and brighter person.

HERE ARE 10 SIMPLE WAYS TO BRING BACK POSITIVE ENERGY INTO YOUR LIFE

1. KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED

This can be difficult, but it’s important to know what you need to bring yourself out of those negative feelings. It can be as simple as needing a support system, and then reaching out to friends and family. Or, maybe you need time away from a stressful situation. While it can be hard to know what it is we need out of life, learning to assess and figure it out is one of the first steps to bringing positive energy back into your life. As Buddha rightly pointed out, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”

2. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE AND DON’T THINK ABOUT NEGATIVITY

We all know how difficult it is to not focus on negative energy. Switching your focus from the negativity in your life can be just what you need to start to overcome it. As Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University pointed out, “Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.”

Therefore, when something negative happens, you’ll want to focus all your energy on the badness of the situation. Instead, it’s time to start taking those negative things and learning to see the silver lining. Focus on all of the positive things about a bad situation that you can, and figure out how to fix the negative.

3. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

Learning how to be honest with yourself is one of the things that many people struggle with, and it can take time to learn. But once you learn to be honest with yourself, you’re going to be a much happier and positive person, because you’ll be able to acknowledge the hard truths about both yourself and your negative situations. Once you learn to be honest with yourself, you can start making the changes that you want to make in yourself.

4. REMEMBER TO BREATHE!

It’s important to take a moment to breathe when you’re in the middle of a negative situation. We’re oftentimes so caught up with running around trying to fix everything that we get caught up and forget to take a moment to ourselves to relax. So, remember to pause and take a deep breath. Both mentally, and physically. Breathing exercises will help keep your mind and body aligned and focused on positive energy.

5. REMEMBER TO LAUGH!

Even if something seems hopeless, it’s important to remember it’s okay to laugh at yourself, or the irony of a negative situation. The very act of laughter will release some good, positive chemicals and help you stay emotionally balanced. If you can learn to laugh at life, you’ll be good to go with replacing negative energy with positive.

6. PAY IT FORWARD BECAUSE LITTLE THINGS MATTER

When you get positive energy, remember to give positive energy. This will have the side-effect of giving you even MORE positive energy! This means reaching out to people, from friends to family to even strangers.

Here’s what author and founder of Success Consciousness, Remez Sasson said about being nice to people, “Acting kindly and being considerate will make people treat you in the same way, and this will lead to feeling good, happy, and therefore, becoming more positive.” This means that thinking positively about those around you, will extend your positive energy to your community. You’ll feel good about paying forward that positivity while also receiving positivity from others.

7. LEARN TO LET GO NO MATTER HOW HARD IT CAN SEEM

This is one of the most difficult steps that we all have to learn one way or another. Letting go of our negativity and sadness and anger can be so hard, but it’s always worth it in the end. You can only control yourself and the energy that you give out. If you find yourself hung up on a grudge or an old argument, you may be feeding negativity energy right into your life without knowing it.

Here’s what Catherine Pulsifer mentioned about trying to bring back positive energy into your life. She states, “It takes effort and belief to persevere and stay dedicated to accomplish your goal. When you find yourself doubting whether the effort is worth it, visualize how you will feel and what you will have once your goal is completed.” Learning to let go means you can begin the healing process and start feeling more positive energy.

8. CONNECT WITH NATURE

Nothing gives more positive vibes and relaxing energy than just reconnecting with Mother Earth. Going to the gym or the spa are good ways to relax your body and mind, but it’s also a good practice to just go for a walk through the woods or sit by the river and experience all of the majesty and wonder that the Earth has to offer. It can help remind you that you’re just one small part in the grand scheme of things.

9. LEARN TO FEEL YOUR EMOTIONS

Sometimes, we bottle our emotions up deep inside, especially if they’re negative or inconvenient to us. However, you have to learn to feel your emotions authentically and as they happen. When you feel sad, you have to let yourself feel that sadness. Because once you feel it and experience it, you can move on from it and return to your positive feelings. Bottling up your emotions only means that you’re going to be constantly feeding on negativity.

10. CLEAN YOUR SPACE AND BECOME CLUTTER-FREE

If you’re living in a cluttered environment, it can be harder to truly let yourself feel the positivity that flows around you. According to author and certified eco-designer Debra Duneier “This changes the energy and prepares the space to celebrate the wonderful things that are about to come into your life.” When you start to clean up your living space, you’ll feel so much lighter and calmer. It’s also a good way to relax and to rearrange your life so you feel less stress.

You never know when there will be something that causes a low point in your life, and being able to focus on yourself and bring positive energy into your life again will help you cope with whatever negative feelings are happening to you. Hopefully, these things will give you a better handle on how to bring positive energy back into your life.

REFERENCES:
HTTP://WWW.YOURTANGO.COM/EXPERTS/GALTIME-COM/8-STEPS-ATTRACT-POSITIVE-ENERGY-YOUR-LIFE
HTTP://WWW.DRJUDITHORLOFF.COM/POSITIVE-ENERGY/DESCRIPTION.HTM
HTTP://WWW.NYTIMES.COM/2012/03/24/YOUR-MONEY/WHY-PEOPLE-REMEMBER-NEGATIVE-EVENTS-MORE-THAN-POSITIVE-ONES.HTML?MCUBZ=1
HTTPS://WWW.SUCCESSCONSCIOUSNESS.COM/BLOG/POSITIVE-ATTITUDE/FOCUS-ON-THE-POSITIVE-AVOID-THE-NEGATIVE/
HTTPS://WWW.SUCCESSCONSCIOUSNESS.COM/STOP-NEGATIVE-THINKING.HTML


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22 Life-Changing Lessons From “The Motivation Manifesto”

by Laura Probert   March 3, 2016 

Have you ever read a book and wished you’d written it yourself? For me, that book is Brendon Burchard’s The Motivation Manifesto — a compelling primer on how to overcome self-doubt and establish personal freedom.

I’ve dedicated many years to studying the art of training my mind, feeling my body, and untethering my soul, and this book’s powerful words had me constantly nodding my head.

Brendon Burchard — an acclaimed author and motivational trainer — really gets what it means to be a warrior (he survived a life-threatening car accident at the age of 19), and he’ll guide you on your journey to becoming one as well.

Now take a deep breath, sink down deep into the center of your body, and read these 22 quotes and take-aways from an utterly inspiring text.

Magic is about living in the moment. 

1. “We are not slave to our history. We can be freed by our conscious thoughts and disciplined habits.”

In other words, a new level of awareness materializes when you start actively training your mind and developing habits.

2. “If we are not vigilant, being around constant worry can quickly limit who we are and what we might be capable of.”

Whenever possible, choose to surround yourself with people who are positive and purposeful.

3. “If yesterday’s hardships are stealing our aliveness today then we must seek another level of consciousness.”

If you’re still living in the past and letting outdated thoughts, beliefs, and memories drive your present, wake up and recognize that you’re sabotaging yourself.

4. “What can I focus on in my life this exact moment to sense some peace, gratitude, or enthusiasm?”

You have the power to choose your next thought. Choose a good one.

5. “Am I feeling this life?”

Brendon poses some great, big questions through the course of his book, and this one is fantastic because it asks you to get in touch with your underlying feelings. I’m a big fan of using these conceptual questions as journaling prompts.

6. “Avoidance is the best long-term strategy to ensure suffering.”

Oh my, are you feeling this one? Stop procrastinating — even on the stuff that scares the shit out of you. Face it. Get it done. I promise you, the solution to your fear lies in the middle of your action.

7. “Be a guardian of your own mind, body, and soul.”

This quote speaks to a deeper level of self-care. In life, we have to be our own guardians and fiercely protect ourselves and our territory.

The solution to your fear lies in the middle of your action. 

8. “Be aware of the information entering your mind. Seek empowering information that moves your life forward.”

This quote speaks to all those moments that we ruin with negativity. (I’m thinking mostly about television and media.) Turn the distractions off and go do something more positive and inspiring with your time.

9. Take positive, meaningful action.

This is my interpretation of Brendon’s take on action. Remember, you can create your own definition of “meaningful.” And when you combine it with positivity and purpose, you have a magic wand in your hands.

How many actions do you take every day that aren’t meaningful, positive, or purposeful? When you realize all the opportunities to shift your purpose, you’ll get excited.

10. What are you asking for?

Throughout the book, Brendon challenges readers to analyze what they’re asking for with their actions. What do your actions point to? When you take a look at how you spend your time and who you spend it with, you’ll figure out what you’re actually asking of the Universe.

11. Love is the divine essence or thread that connects us all.

Brendon does a lovely job talking about the energy of love. When you realize that love is a never-ending source of clarity, you’ll wake up to the fact that you’re getting in the way of its flow. Open yourself up to giving and receiving love.

love

 

If you are awake, you have a choice. 

12. Don’t make me guess about what ignites your soul.

Brendon’s words demonstrate the importance of speaking up for yourself. How will people ever know what you’re all about unless you say it? Be brave!

13. “Don’t limit your vision based on the number of people who nod.”

Wow, you gotta be feeling this one with me. Don’t make your dream smaller because you’re waiting for someone else’s approval.

14. Revive the magic.

Magic is about living in the moment and remaining aware of everything around you. Brendon encourages readers to revive that feeling inside and look for magic everywhere.

15. “To master life is to transform the energy we feel at any moment into cheerful engagement and deep appreciation.”

If you are awake, you have a choice. When things don’t feel right, you can transform the energy of fear into joy.

16. “Freely chosen attitude is a treasure available to us all.”

This is another way of saying that we have the choice to think, believe, and act in any way we deem good, better, best for us.

It takes a warrior to stand up for what matters. 

17. “Don’t become a catastrophe of energetic conformity.”

I love when Brendon talks about how it’s possible to get carried away in other people’s energy. Just because everyone else is being negative, hateful, or ungrateful, doesn’t mean we have to be. Don’t let the energy of other people waste yours. Be vigilant about this. It takes a warrior to stand up for what matters.

18. Make enthusiasm a practice.

Whatever way you want to feel, make it a practice. It’s in that disciplined behavior that your life will start to change.

19. “Let us master the art of curiosity, release, play, and cheerful engagement of the moment.”

In this case, Brendon is referring to the energy of a child. He asks that adults resort back to this art and use its energy to infuse moments and change focus.

20. “Meet struggle with intense and spirited joy.”

I love this one. It’s so easy to meet struggle with anxiety, sadness, resignation, doubt, or fear. We’ve practiced that too much — let’s try something different.

21. “Struggle does not always have to equal suffering.”

We are all conditioned to believe that the struggles and problems we face are against us, but what if they are here to teach us how to grow and evolve?

22. Awareness + Discipline = Freedom.

And lastly, this is a formula I put together after reflecting on the book’s teachings. The Motivation Manifesto is all about finding the personal freedom to be a warrior in your own life and achieve your dreams to make the world a better place. What better way to live?


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7 Ways To Become The Healthy, Upbeat Person You Want To Be

by Dr. Frank Lipman    May 6, 2015

Optimism — it does both your mind and body good. In fact, numerous studies indicate that optimists generally enjoy healthier hearts, brains, immunity and tend to live longer than their less upbeat counterparts. But for some, optimism is easier said than done.

Let’s say you weren’t born with an innate abundance of optimism, or perhaps life’s challenges have tamped down some of your enthusiasm … then what?

The answer is to teach yourself some skills that can help you develop a greater sense of optimism and resilience. This health-supportive turn of mind is learnable. Just like eating well or staying fit, it becomes easier with a little practice and, of course, a roadmap.

Here are a few ways to help guide yourself in a more optimistic direction. Try adding one or two and keep adding new skills to your repertoire over time. As your experience with and capacity for optimism grows, you’ll be on your way to becoming that healthier, upbeat person you wish to be. In the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” To which I say, “Amen.”

So, let’s get started:

1. Make a point of being grateful every day.

Live like an optimist and celebrate all your blessings — not what’s missing. At the beginning or end of each day, in a journal or on your calendar, jot down three simple things you’re grateful for, no matter how inconsequential they might seem. Periodically revisit the ever-growing list to keep you connected with that sense of gratitude and appreciation for all the things that go right in life every day.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Have a little empathy! In other words: stop judging and start living! Don’t flip the bird at your fellow drivers. Don’t berate the coffee guy when he mangles your order. Don’t go bananas when your plane is 10th on the runway. To behave more like an optimist, learn to embrace patience and let minor irritations go. Consider it an informal exercise in Zen. Learn to go with the flow and limit slash-and-burn freak-outs to actual emergencies (and even then, do so sparingly).

positivity

 

3. Look for the silver lining. (It’s in there.)

When things get tough, the optimist looks for the silver lining in the midst of adversity. So should you. By making the effort to find the good and extract the lessons from a difficult situation, you lessen the sting and can bounce back more quickly.

Rather than dwelling in fear and regret, learning to be more resilient — to bend without breaking — will enable you to greet future challenges in a can-do frame of mind, with patience and wisdom versus fear and regret.

4. Have faith you’ll get beyond the bumps.

When faced with a challenge, remind yourself that you’ve made it through life’s storms thus far, and there’s an excellent chance you’ll make it through whatever comes next.

And what comes next may not be a storm at all, but a spectacular sunset or a wonderful, life-changing moment. Know in your heart that you will prevail and make the thought of a beautiful outcome your mental default setting, not the dark clouds.

5. Choose your media wisely.

We all have “noise” in our lives, but optimists gravitate to the upbeat kind. Beautiful photos, inspiring films, soul-stirring music, funny videos and television shows support a more positive perspective, so as you’re learning to become more optimistic, consider restricting the flow of negative images into your daily consciousness. There’s a big difference between staying informed and immersing yourself in gruesome or upsetting tabloid news, so know when it’s time to retreat.

6. Limit your exposure to negative people.

When it comes to pessimism, a little goes a long way. Instead, spend more time with optimists and less with the “Debbie Downers.” That’s not to say you need to cut them off completely, but if you’re trying to change your perspective, limit exposure. If there are a number of pessimists in your inner circle, share your interest in optimism or lead by example and gently direct conversations in a positive direction.

7. Be mindful of the language you use when talking to yourself.

It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: the optimists’ positive self-talk and confidence in their abilities helps stack the deck for positive outcomes. Even if plans go awry, their optimistic outlook helps them to better cope with occasional setbacks, versus labeling something a disaster and giving up in despair. Next time a potentially scary new project comes your way, instead of fretting, think — Adventure! Opportunity! Solutions! New experiences! — and you’ll be speaking the language of optimism.


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The Scientifically Proven Mental Shift That Makes You Physically Healthier

In this day and age, you would have to be living under a rock not to have heard about the powerful mind-body connection. For example, we know that exercise helps alleviate depression, yoga is great for stress management, eating vegetables and other superfoods can make you happier and the way you walk can boost your mood. So, for your overall mental health, you should definitely be exercising, eating right and engaging in other forms of self-care.

But did you know that the reverse is also true? Your moods and overall mindset have a measurable effect on your body and its functioning. Here are four of the most fascinating scientific findings about how your outlook on life affects your health.

1. Your perception of stress affects its actual impact on your body.

We have all heard about the negative effects of stress on our bodies. However, researchers out of the University of Wisconsin at Madison discovered that our views about stress may actually play a bigger role in its negative effects than the stress itself. In the study, they tracked 30,000 American adults for eight years, and found that people with a lot of stress had a 43% increased risk of dying — but only if they believed stress was harmful. On the other hand, those who had a lot of stress, but didn’t see it as harmful, did not have this increased risk.

2. Your level of life-satisfaction may affect bone density.

A study out of Finland followed women over the age of 60 for 10 years, and asked them to report on their level of life satisfaction. The researchers found that while all women experienced an average 4% decrease in bone density during the duration of the study, there was a 52% difference in bone density loss between those who reported the highest levels of satisfaction versus the lowest levels. In addition, for those whose life satisfaction decreased during the 10 years, their bone density decreased 85% more than those whose satisfaction increased.

stay positive

3. Positive thinking can increase your immunity to the common cold.

In another study, researchers interviewed participants over three weeks to assess the degree to which they had a positive emotional style. Then, subjects were given a nasal spray of rhinovirus (the cold germ) to see how their bodies would respond. Researchers found that those who had a positive emotional outlook were three times less likely to get a cold than those who had low levels of positive emotions. Interestingly, in a later study, these same researchers found that high levels of stress make it more difficult for the body to regulate the inflammatory response.

4. Optimism is literally good for your heart.

There is a wealth of research about the positive link between optimism and heart health. For example, cultivating optimism and hopefulness is linked to decreased risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition, patients who had heart attacks and were optimistic about their treatment were more likely to be alive 15 years later as compared to those who were less optimistic and hopeful (even with the same severity of illness).

Also, in a recent study of more than 5,000 adults, researchers found that the most optimistic individuals are twice as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health markers (as measured by a variety of factors, including blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels and others) compared to those who are pessimistic.

These findings are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of this growing field of research, but they point to the importance of making sure not to just focus on nutrition and exercise as part of your self-care regimen. To enjoy optimal health, it’s essential to develop an optimistic outlook and engage in happiness-boosting activities each and every day. Your mind and your body will thank you.

by Dr. Patricia Thompson    February 4, 2015 


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4 Strategies for Attracting Positive People

Judith Orloff       Jan 7, 2016

Are you tired of the type of people you are attracting in your life? Do you want a more commanding role in who you attract?

Positive energy is that mysterious, seemingly elusive magnetism between us that enhances love, friendship, work, and all endeavors seeking success.

As a psychiatrist, I work with my patients to help them grasp the energetic exchange between people —those who give energy, and those who drain it.  Understanding how to generate the positive energy of attraction isn’t always easy, but once we transform our approach, we can realize our deepest dreams.

Though attraction is often linked to appearance, IQ, bank account, or charm, these aren’t enough to create a positive loving relationship. Once we truly realize that we don’t just want any old attention—we actually want the right kind of attention that will excite and nurture us—then we will attract that positive energy into our lives.

The level of attraction I’m referring to has to do with connecting with both our hearts and heads. This enhances the quality of energy we give off, which maximizes our chances of attracting the best people.

How can we harness positive energy to bring the best people and situations toward us? Be the change you want to see.

In other words, generate the kind of positive energy you want to attract.

To start, take at look at where you’re at now. Evaluate what being positive does and doesn’t mean in terms of attitude and behavior. Once you’re clear about this, you can strengthen these traits in yourself, and attract the same.

What sets positive people apart is a determination to do their best and not succumb to what’s negative in themselves or externals.

Here is how I see it:

Positive people are:

  • Committed to developing compassion towards themselves and others, and having an open heart
  • Courageous about following their dreams
  • Those who seek to be authentic and believe in themselves, even when externals are crumbling
  • Aware of their dark side and are trying to heal it
  • Willing to learn from mistakes

Positive people aren’t:

  • Perfect, phony, or positive all the time
  • Beating themselves to a pulp over shortcomings or a black hole of pessimism
  • Constantly mired in fear or tolerant of letting their hearts harden
  • Squeaky clean do-gooders who neglect their own well-being.
  • Saccharine pleasers who ignore their dark side and unconsciously act it out at the expense of others.
attract

 

4 Strategies to Attract Positive People and Situations in Your Life

Energy doesn’t simply have an on-off switch. Just as a radio emits has a volume control, you can adjust your vibes. You can amp them up with some people, tone them down with others.

Here’s how to boost your positive signals:

1. Identify your best parts and speak from there.

Pinpoint your finest qualities. Perhaps irreverence, sensitivity, compassion, humor—then project them to the world. By speaking up and stepping out of your comfort zone you’re enlarging your energy field. Before meeting new people or going to important events, prime yourself by taking a break for an inner pep talk. Think, “I’m not going to focus on my insecurity but on a strength; I’m going to feel and trust the positive energy inside me. I’m going to claim my full power.”

Such a selective attention device puts your best parts front and center. Then, perspective shifted, it’s easier to confidently move forward. You can’t overdo this approach. Use it routinely.

Making a choice about where you’re coming from focuses your energy.

2. Extend love outward.

Love creates an irresistible charisma, a warm glow that makes us and others happy. You can send it in any situation, a nurturing that won’t drain us. How? Focus on your heart, and envision something you love. A flock of seagulls. Your son’s smile. A blooming rose.

Then, during a conversation, inwardly ask, “Let love flow through me.” Feel it rise from your chest; notice a sense of heat, serenity, a radiance. These energies move outward. People soften around it, feel safe, and want more. So, when standing by your boss start pumping away. Loving energy smoothes the rough edges of any circumstance, facilitates rapport.

Try it even if you don’t like someone, but seek to get along better.

3. Regularly Meditate

Happiness can be increased by meditating. Cutting edge brain research confirms that we all have a certain mood set point, a range of feelings we usually inhabit. But with regular meditation, it’s been shown that we can alter our habitual moods towards the positive.

In chapter 2 of Positive Energy I describe a simple but powerful 3 minute mini-meditation to open your heart center. Use this method. When feelings surface during meditation, monitor them. Focus on what’s uplifting, not the swirl of negative emotions. Use your breath to center yourself. This inner turnabout transmutes pessimism to something higher.

Your vibes will change and others will respond.

4. Commit to Emotional Housecleaning

Consistently chipping away at the negative makes room for more positivity in yourself. Self-awareness is our greatest ally against fear. Psychotherapy, introspection, meditation, journaling, and/or talking with friends all further healing. As negativity remits, you become more alluring.

Remember when doing this work not to hold idealized expectations, everyone has irritating/challenging/disappointing aspects—including yourself! We all have foibles.

Even so, you can legitimately hope to personify and attract others fighting their way out of the muck with an open heart and sense of humor.

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s ”Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love”

Author: Judith Orloff
Editor: Renée Picard


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5 Daily Disciplines that Reprogram Your Mind to Stay Positive

Did you know there are simple ways you can override default negative thoughts, essentially hypnotizing your mind to think positive?

There is no getting around the fact that negativity is all around us, and this has a significant impact on your mind. In fact, the brain is innately programmed with a “negativity bias” – the tendency for your brain to be more sensitive to unpleasant stimuli.

Scientists believe the tendency to react more strongly to negative input had a good reason – our distant ancestors had to constantly deal with danger; thus their survival relied on being able to detect and avoid dangerous situations. In short, the bias has evolutionary roots.

Then, there is the incomprehensible complexity of the human mind, with approximately 100 trillion neural connections. This unfathomable number of synapses explains our complex way of thinking. It also explains why we have negative thoughts that replay themselves over and over without us understanding why.

The good news is that you can control what your mind produces. While you may never be able to completely rid your brain of negative thoughts, you can drastically reduce them. With some patience and the willingness to discipline yourself, you can indeed reprogram your mind to stay positive.

Here are 5 daily disciplines that will help you reprogram your mind to positive…

1. Keep a gratitude journal
Research has shown that practicing gratitude regularly makes your brain healthier and happier. Some of the benefits of being grateful include more motivation, better sleep, and a better mood throughout the day.

One gratitude study involved assigning a group of young adults to keep a daily journal of things that they were grateful for. The other group was instructed to keep a daily journal of things that annoyed them or reasons why they were better off than other people. The group that kept the gratitude journal demonstrated greater increases in attention, determination, energy and enthusiasm.

This study demonstrated three important takeaways: (1) gratitude has great psychological benefits, (2) thinking that you are “better off” than another person is not gratitude, and (3) true appreciation is an important aspect of being grateful.

Gratitude is not a comparative practice. It is honing in on the positive aspects of your life that makes you more appreciative.

2. Repeat positive affirmations

In numerous studies, positive affirmations have been shown to effectively change the way that the brain is wired. This rewiring changes the way in which the brain filters incoming stimuli, effectively resulting in a more positive mood.

Dr. Mona Lisa Schultz, neuroscientist and author of various books on the subject of affirmations and the brain, explains:

“We can rewire the patterns in our brain with cognitive behavior therapy or affirmations. Affirmations change the way our brains are wired and the brain lights up differently. So it’s not just this flow, woo-woo stuff…(affirmations) have a bio-chemical, neuro-chemical, and neuropharmalogical affects just as effective, if not more effective, than Prozac, Zoloft, or whatever else you have.”

Gratitude

Here’s a quick 4-step method to create positive affirmations:

  •  Take some alone time to think about areas of your life you’d like to improve or how you’d like your life to be.
  •  Write down a list of the most important improvements that you’d like to make.
  •  Write down a few positive statements for each item on your list. Write them in the present tense, and make sure you focus on what you do want, not what you don’t.
  •  Post these affirmations around your home and read them frequently.

3. Associate and surround yourself with supportive people
Positive people have a positive effect on your thinking. Embrace the company of individuals who display a positive mindset. Doing so will inspire, empower, and motivate you to be your best.
As mentioned earlier, the brain has a default setting that remembers and holds onto negative events. People that are negative are no different. They will alter your way of thinking and you will, consciously or unconsciously, begin to mirror their behaviors, words and thoughts. This makes it all the more important to mind the company that you keep.

Refuse the company of negative people by keeping in mind your end goal – developing habits that allow your brain to stay positive. Your mindset is more important than accommodating people that negatively affect your brain and slow your progress.

4. Ignore negative thoughts
Remember this: you are not your negative thoughts, period. Our negativity bias makes it probable that negative thoughts will surface at times throughout the day.

Negative thinking is simply tabloid material for the mind. There is no substance to tabloid material…its literally designed to attract the curious shopper into paying for useless and intellectually dishonest information. Publishers of tabloids rely on the impulses and misguided curiosity of people who see them.

The brain is the same way. It may be clever in how it presents the information, but in the end it’s void of anything that represents the facts. The facts are these: you are a person dedicated to improvement, you are positive in your outlook, and you innately know that you are a positive person.

When negative thoughts present themselves, don’t acknowledge them. Don’t wage a thought war by attempting to rationalize with them. You observe them, sure, that’s natural. Observation doesn’t indicate acknowledgement.

When you don’t engage negative thoughts, they fade away in the same way the desire to buy that tabloid magazine diminishes when you leave the store…and you’re better off as a result.

5. Stay active


Idleness gives provides ample time for the brain to overanalyze and overthink. The easiest solution is to simply recognize when your brain is taking you down this road and divert the course.
There are many ways to become active, but the best (by far) is exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, the hormones that are responsible for feelings of euphoria. It’s a natural antidepressant that far exceeds the capabilities of any prescription drug. Its positive effects are also long-lasting, remaining with you throughout the day.

Other benefits of exercise on the brain include:

– Oxygenizes the brain, improving its function
– Releases a plethora of hormones, aiding and providing nourishment for brain cells
– Stimulates brain plasticity by stimulating the growth in critical areas of the brain
– Improves learning and memory
– Reduces risk of brain-related illness such as Alzheimer’s and dementia


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Do You Fall for the ‘Nocebo Effect?’ 5 Ways to Stay Positive for Better Health

Scientific studies confirm that a placebo (a dummy medication or procedure) can genuinely benefit a person’s health. But its sinister cousin, the “nocebo effect,” creates expectations of harm, which can lead to seriously negative health consequences.

From Health Secrets: The Best Remedies From Around the World (Reader’s Digest Association Books)

A patient’s expectations of a treatment clearly influence the way it works. The authors of a 2012 German study note that vulnerable, ill, or injured patients are highly receptive to negative suggestion. A participant in one drug trial developed dangerously low blood pressure by “overdosing” on what he thought was an antidepressant—only when he learned that it was an inert substance did his blood pressure return to normal. (Conversely, the power of positive suggestion may explain some of the success of complementary therapies—from herbal remedies to homeopathy). The more strongly a patient believes in the treatment, the more likely it is to be effective. Here are some ways you can put this knowledge to practice:

1. Get authoritative information Before having treatment or taking medication, get advice from a reputable source. The Internet is a vast repository of information but obviously not all of it is reliable. If you have a tendency toward hypochondria, it can be more harmful than helpful, as the nocebo effect is known to influence those who have a pessimistic outlook more powerfully than those with a more balanced attitude.

doctor

2. Control your response to health experts who are treating you. Focus on encouraging phrases, such as “most people tolerate this well” or “this shouldn’t hurt.” Try to tune out the negative comments, such as “this may be painful,” “expect a long recovery time” or “you may find that this treatment makes you feel sick.”

3. Engage your mind Use creative imagery to stay positive while you recover from illness. If you are in pain, for example, it may help to imagine tight muscles being massaged, visualize the muscle fibers separating and relaxing, and to concentrate on feelings of warmth. As you visualize, try to focus on your breathing and imagine that you are relaxing in the sunshine or floating in a pool.

4. Use the power of touch Studies have shown that the touch of a partner, friend, or health practitioner can benefit conditions as diverse as asthma, arthritis, hypertension, and migraine. Touch therapy has also been proven to reduce pain and accelerate wound healing. Even if, as some maintain, this is a placebo effect, it is the end result that is significant.

5. Keep positive There is overwhelming evidence that those who heal fastest maintain a positive attitude, take responsibility for their own health, and focus on getting well. Self-awareness also helps, especially of attitudes that may hamper your health.

source: www.rd.com