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Scientists Explain: Parents Who Raise ‘Successful’ Kids Do These 8 Things Differently…successful

“To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, who you are will speak more loudly to your kids than anything you say.” ~ Eric Grietens, former Navy SEAL and Governor of Missouri

Parenting is hard work.

Children, by their very nature, lack the emotional and cognitive resources to navigate life without help. They’ll whine, cry, shout, beg, and complain for no reason. We may feel anger, annoyance, frustration and even guilt for how our child behaves.

But kids will be kids, as they say.

Despite the inevitable challenges of parenting, it is our responsibility to teach and set the example. Not all parents embrace this responsibility – and the effects can be devastating.

Parenting is an obligation that we must take on with the utmost sincerity. Indeed, how we decide to raise our children will profoundly influence the type of person he or she becomes.

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they question their parenting abilities. This is natural, and it is nothing for which to be ashamed.

Perhaps the most humble and righteous thing that a good parent can do is admit they don’t know everything. Being a parent is not something that happens – it is a process. Birth ‘happens’; parenting evolves.

This article focuses on eight science-backed methods of raising happy and prosperous children. As you read through, you’ll notice a diverse set of opinions and topics.

The common thread behind all of this advice is a scientific consensus, from psychologists, professors, social workers, and, most importantly, parents. The science of child development, while not perfect, provides a useful framework from which to operate.

HERE ARE 8 THINGS PARENTS TEACH KIDS FOR SUCCESS:

1. DEVELOP EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Decades of research show that emotional intelligence is as critical to success– if not more so – than cognitive intelligence. Per a study conducted by TalentSmart, emotional intelligence (‘E.I.’) is the most reliable predictor of performance, blowing past I.Q. and personality.

E.I is the foundation of the following skills:

– assertiveness
– accountability
– anger management
– change tolerance
– customer service
– communication
– decision-making
– empathy
– flexibility
– trust
– teamwork
– social skills
– stress tolerance

The most important thing a parent can do to cultivate a child’s emotional intelligence is to model good behavior and E.I.-related traits.

2. FORGET ‘HELICOPTER PARENTING.’
Helicopter parenting, or overparenting, is one of the most significant problems parents have according to Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshman at Stanford University.

Parents who hover around their kids (hence the word ‘helicopter’) aren’t doing them any favors. The same can be said of overprotection.

Giving your child more freedom can be difficult for parents. We love our kids and don’t want to see them get hurt. But, we must be willing to let our kids try new things, fail, and experience consequences; it is essential to the maturity process.

3. LEARN HOW TO GIVE PRAISE EFFECTIVELY
Continually praising a child for their innate gifts, like intelligence, makes it less likely that they will apply said gifts to bettering themselves. (They know they’re smart!)

Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, examined the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. She discovered that praising children for developing novel approaches to solving problems, even when unsuccessful, teaches them the importance of seeing things through, giving effort, and realizing their intentions.

4. GIVE THEM OUTSIDE PLAY TIME
The booming tech age is both exciting and novel. But the increasing reliance (addiction?) resulting from overuse of technology is troubling. There is perhaps nothing more disturbing than the child who comes home from school and spends the rest of their evening on an iPad, cell phone, or computer.

Research shows that overusing technology hampers a child’s social skill development, encourages a sedentary lifestyle, and inhibits a child’s academic growth.

When they want to go to a friend’s house, let them. If there’s space in front of your home, your kid should be spending at least an hour or two outside per day.

5. GIVE THEM CHORES
Lythcott-Haims found that one common trait among successful adults is that they reported having additional responsibilities (chores) as kids.

She says “By making them do chores – taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry – they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life. It’s not just about me and what I need in this moment.”

6. BE A BIT PUSHY ABOUT SCHOOL
According to researchers in from the University of Essex in the U.K., parents who have high expectations for their children – and consistently remind them of these expectations – are more likely to raise academically-successful kids.

Researchers note in the study “The measure of expectations in this study reflects a combination of aspirations and beliefs about the likelihood of attending higher education reported by the main parent, who, in the majority of cases, is the mother.”

(Thanks, Mom!) raising kids

7. TEACH THEM RESILIENCE
Resilience, or the ability to rebound from setbacks, is a common trait shared among successful people. A high level of resilience enables one person to survive and thrive in circumstances that may defeat someone else.

How do you teach resilience to kids? Set a good example, demonstrate commitment and follow through, practice gratitude, and act as a mentor.

8. TEACH THEM ABOUT SERVING OTHERS
We live in a highly individualistic and cynical world. In fact, studies show that most people, given a choice, will commit an act out of selfishness rather than the common good.

We need more people who serve others and who act as servant-leaders.

Emma Seppala, Ph.D., science director at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, says “The best-kept secret to happiness is to be of service to others,” and that “Multiple studies have shown that happiness makes people 12 percent more productive.”

SOURCES:
HTTP://INC-ASEAN.COM/GROW/WANT-RAISE-SUCCESSFUL-KIDS-SCIENCE-SAYS-9-THINGS/?UTM_SOURCE=INC&UTM_MEDIUM=REDIR&UTM_CAMPAIGN=INCREDIR
HTTP://WWW.DAILYMAIL.CO.UK/NEWS/ARTICLE-3020114/TEENAGE-GIRLS-LIKELY-SUCCEED-PUSHY-MOTHERS-NAGGING-BETTER-SAYS-STUDY.HTML
HTTP://WWW.TALENTSMART.COM/ARTICLES/WHY-YOU-NEED-EMOTIONAL-INTELLIGENCE-TO-SUCCEED-389993854-P-1.HTML
HTTPS://WWW.THEEPOCHTIMES.COM/STANFORD-SCIENTIST-PROVES-COMPASSION-LEADS-TO-SUCCESS_1997797.HTML

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Here’s How to Make Yourself Love Exercise

It’s not just you: Many people are turned off by the thought of exercise because they think it has to be intense or time-consuming. But the findings of a new study published in the journal BMC Public Health suggests that people could learn to enjoy being active simply by tweaking those beliefs and expectations.

So says the study’s lead author Michelle Segar, director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center, who’s spent years researching what motivates people to get and stay physically fit. (She’s also author of  No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.) Too often, she says, people begin exercise programs to lose weight, and quit when they don’t shed pounds right away.

In her new study, she and her colleagues asked 40 women about what really makes them feel happy and successful. Then they analyzed how their views about working out either fostered or undermined those feelings. The diverse group of women were all between ages 22 and 49.

All of the women—whether they were regular exercisers or not—turned out to want the same things out of life: to have meaningful connections with others, to feel relaxed and free of pressure during their leisure time and to accomplish the goals they’d set for themselves, whether in their personal lives, their careers or simply their daily to-do lists.

The big difference, the researchers found, was that women who were inactive viewed exercise as counterproductive to those things. In order for exercise to be valid, they thought, it had to be seriously heart-pumping and sweat-inducing—the complete opposite of the “relaxing” feeling they wanted from their free time.

They also felt that following an exercise program took up too much time and put too much pressure on them, and that it was too difficult to commit to a schedule and meet expectations, leaving them feeling like failures.

But women in the study who were regularly active didn’t share these views. For them, exercise went hand-in-hand with their desires for social connectivity, relaxing leisure time and feeling accomplished.

That shift in mindset has to happen for women who aren’t currently active, says Segar. “These women feel alienated by exercise, or feel that they’ve failed when they tried it in the past,” she says. “They have a very narrow definition of what exercise should look like.”

Segar says that definition comes from decades of messaging from fitness companies and older scientific research that suggesting that high-intensity activity is the only way for exercise to be worthwhile. “That’s no longer true,” she says. “The new recommendations for physical activity really open the door for people to pretty much do anything that works for them.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that for “substantial health benefits,” adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. It’s true that additional benefits can be gained from more (or more intense) exercise, but Segar says this is a good starting point for many Americans who currently lead sedentary lives.

Instead of thinking about exercise as an alternative to enjoying free time or socializing with friends, she recommends framing it as a way to make those things happen. “Women need to give themselves permission to use physical activity as a way to relax—to get together with friends or loved ones and take a leisurely stroll, simply because being active and outdoors boosts their mood and makes them feel good.”

While walking is an easy way to squeeze in more movement throughout the day, she also encourages people to get creative. “If you liked biking as a kid, rent a bike and see if it still feels good,” she says. “Play tag with your kids, take a dance class or even just climb the stairs a few extra times while you’re doing chores around the house.”Most importantly, Segar says, people need to know that any physical activity is better than no physical activity. “You don’t have to do 30 minutes at a time, you don’t have to sweat and you don’t have to hate whatever it is you’re doing,” she says. “You just have to choose to move when you see opportunities.”

 

Amanda MacMillan       May 30, 2017
source: TIME Health


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Follow These 6 Steps to Stress Less and Stay Motivated

Stress. It’s that slap-in-the-face feeling you get when there are too many demands, too many people to please, and too little time to get it all done.

This is not a pleasant or productive state to be in.

Sure, a little stress can be motivating and even energizing, but even working best under pressure has its limits. Eventually, it becomes physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.

When you reach that point, you don’t want to do anything. You’re tense, on edge, and mentally blocked.

If you’ve hit your stress limit, here’s a quick checklist to keep yourself calm and moving on:

1. Remember that you are enough.

When you’re stuck in not-good-enough mode, it can feel like you’re always doing something wrong. This only makes a stressful situation worse.

It’s a vicious cycle, and soon all you seem to see are your flaws. You feel weak and defeated. You lose motivation, energy, and creativity, and you’re convinced that you can’t cut it.

What if this time you remembered that you are enough? What would you do differently when things get tough?

You have nothing but stress to lose by trying.

2. Put on your own mask first.

You can’t do anything unless you are taking care of yourself. It’s nearly impossible to think clearly and stay motivated when you aren’t fueling, resting, and recharging your body and mind.

When your gut reaction to stress is hunkering down and pushing harder to get through it, it usually means doing less of the things that improve your mood and outlook on the situation. This might work for a little while, but eventually you get burned out.

Break the cycle by handling stress strategically. Ask yourself what one thing you could change about your self-care to help you through this stressful time. Give it the time it deserves as you test out that change.

Your body, mind, and productivity will thank you for it.

peace-begins-expectation-ends

3. Let go of

No matter where you are in life, “should” and “supposed to” usually end in stress. This self-talk adds pain to an already upsetting situation.

This may surprise you, but “should” also helps you solve problems a lot less than you might think. Rather than facing a problem head-on as it is, it gets you frustrated about what it is not. This gets you nowhere fast.

Relieve your stress and keep up your motivation by making the move from should to solution. Ask what you can do about the situation as it is right now.

 4. Let go of comparison and competition.

Comparison and competition can be motivating when the conditions are right, but they sure can backfire. They can put you under constant pressure and make it feel like your entire worth as a person hinges on keeping up. When this goes too far, it’s defeating, not inspiring.

Having the drive to excel isn’t the problem here. The problems come when you focus more about the outcome than the process of getting there. When you can’t celebrate the small victories, be kind to yourself in the face of failure, or remember your unique strengths, you have the perfect conditions for losing motivation and feeling stressed.

If this sounds familiar, give yourself a time-out to think about what makes you who you are, what is meaningful to you, and what else you could be doing with your time and energy if you got off the hamster wheel of comparison/competition.

5. Reevaluate your expectations.

When you’re stressed, reevaluating expectations can feel a little too much like settling, so remember this: adapting your expectations to meet reality is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of intelligence! Sometimes the most effective way to stay on track is to pivot and try again with a fresh perspective.

You could tell yourself that you should have been able to meet your expectations exactly as they were, but life rarely plays by those rules. Rather than arguing with life about it, take a moment to adjust. Shift your perspective by taking the situation as it is and coming up with your best plan from there.

6. Slow down.

Stress can happen when you get ahead of yourself and take on too much at once.
It isn’t that you’re not capable of doing these things but that the combination of things, timing, and circumstances right now is just not working for you.

The result? Overwhelm. Indecision. Paralysis.

To slow down, focus on what’s right in front of you. Where are you today? What’s going to work right here?

Think of it as doing what works rather than trying to do everything all at once. Set small goals that fit into the bigger picture, and celebrate as you reach them. It’s so much more effective (and motivating) that way.

Leslie shows working moms how to bust those superwoman myths and bring back the balance and joy with her signature blend of real-life positive psychology tips and guilt-free meditations at A Year of Happy. To get you started, she’s whipped up a delectable 2-minute revitalizing meditation for you to enjoy on the house at http://www.ayearofhappy.com/revitalize.

 JUNE 5, 2016         BY LESLIE ROMERO RALPH 

 


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13 Incredibly Smart Tips To Be Happier From Mental Health Experts

Genius tips from people whose job it is to make you feel better.

It’s pretty safe to assume that you want to be happy, because…well, who doesn’t? But how to actually make that happen is a little more elusive. BuzzFeed Life talked to a bunch of experts to get their best tips.

Of course, everyone brings their own set of experiences to the table and some people might be living with mental illnesses like depression or anxiety that make things more complicated. But hopefully you might be able to find a few pieces of advice here that can help life feel a little easier.
Heads up: Responses were edited for length.

1. Realize that happiness doesn’t mean having everything you want and being problem-free all the time.

“We cannot control everything that happens to us in life, but we can choose how we respond. When we respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening to me?’ and adopt a victim mentality, we suffer. When we choose to respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening for me and what can I learn?’ then we feel a lot more empowered, which impacts our mental state positively.

The biggest misconception about happiness is that we can outsource it — that something external is going to make us happy. Happiness is NOT a constant state. As humans we experience and grow through a variety of emotions. The expectation that we should be happy all the time will leave anyone with an expectation hangover. What we can be is grateful.”

—Christine Hassler, empowerment coach and author of Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life

2. Cut “should” from your vocabulary, because it basically guarantees whatever you think “should” happen, won’t.

“When we use the word ‘should,’ it’s like this big, judgmental finger wagging at yourself. ‘I should work out more, I should be happier, I should be more grateful.’ It causes us to feel guilt and shame. It depletes our happiness. It causes us to engage in behaviors that are completely against what we want.
Instead, replace ‘should’ with ‘I would like.’ For example, ‘I’d like to lose weight, because I want to have more energy and be a role model.’ That is more motivational, it’s more based on passion rather than the fear and judgment of ourselves that prevents us from being the people that we want to be.”

—Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love

3. Remember that your negative thoughts are not true. They’re just thoughts.

“Sadly, many people make the mistake of believing the negative things that their ‘inner voice’ tells them, often without even being aware of their right to question whether these things are accurate! When it comes to mental health care, many people still think you will need to spend years exploring your childhood or past in order to get better. That’s simply not the case nowadays. Catch, challenge, and change negative thoughts.”

—Simon Rego, Psy.D., director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York

4. Start your day by reminding yourself one positive thing about your life.

“This can be a small observation like enjoying beautiful weather or something more profound like recognizing you have achieved one step towards a life goal (working in the industry you always dreamt of, have a best friend who you are grateful for, etc). We tend to hold onto negatives a lot stronger than positives so this can be a small way to give yourself a moment to check in with the ‘happier’ thoughts and realities.”

—Jess Allen, LMSW, ACT, NYC-based cognitive behavioral therapist

5. Anyone can benefit from therapy, so consider making an appointment for a checkup.

“There is a stereotype that many people have about the unique person who chooses to see a therapist. ‘They must be an emotional wreck,’ or ‘they can’t take care of their own problems,’ or ‘they must be crazy.’ That last one is probably the most popular and worst misconception of them all!
It takes a lot of insight and emotional awareness to realize that you want to enlist the services of a trained mental health therapist to get the right help you need. Yes, there are some clients who seek therapy when they are at the absolute lowest emotional point in their lives, but there are also just as many who simply want to become emotionally healthier people to enhance their work and intimate relationships. No problem is too small or large when you come to see one of us. It’s all welcomed because our job is to meet you where you are at in life, not where we or anyone else thinks you should be.”

—Gabriela Parra, LCSW, California-based counselor

work-life-balance

 

6. Don’t think about your work responsibilities at home, and vice versa.

“Be present when present, which requires dropping the guilt. Guilt has no benefits for anyone. When you are at work, stay focused, when you are home, give [it] your undivided attention. Doing your best in each place will keep you sane and feeling good about your output.”

—Samantha Ettus, work-life balance expert

7. Stop checking your smartphone randomly. Instead, give yourself specific times to catch up on social media and email.

“Most people would be happier (and less stressed) if they checked their phone less. A study of college students at Kent State University found that people who check their phones frequently tend to experience higher levels of distress during their leisure time (when they intend to relax!).
Instead of willing ourselves to just check less often, we can configure our devices and work time so that we are tempted less often. The goal is to check email, social media, and messages on your phone just a few times a day — intentionally, not impulsively. Our devices are thus returned to their status as tools we use strategically — not slot machines that randomly demand our energy and attention.”

—Christine Carter, Ph.D., happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work

8. Make keeping up with your friendships a priority.

“People think that when work or school or family responsibilities get busy, then hanging out with your friends becomes a luxury that has to be cut. It’s often the first thing to go, even if people are still going to the gym or binge-watching whatever’s new on Netflix. In reality, making sure to spend time with your friends has enormous mental health benefits, and keeps your stress level in check. It’s a great coping mechanism and a necessity for your health that should not be cut when things get tough — on the contrary, you need it more then than ever.”

—Andrea Bonior, Ph.D, clinical psychologist

9. Actually take the time to plan short-term pleasure AND long-term goals — aka actively make your life what you want it to be.

Actually take the time to plan short-term pleasure AND long-term goals — aka actively make your life what you want it to be.

“A lot of people rush around without devoting a few minutes each week to reflecting and strategizing. We may all recognize we’ve periodically contemplated signing up to volunteer at Big Brother Big Sister, then totally forget. Or we mean to switch jobs and then procrastinate, [then] we’re facing our second year in a position we planned to quickly exit.
As Greg McKeown notes in his book, Essentialism, ‘When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and times, other people — our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families — will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important.’
Spend time each week planning ahead — plan activities you may enjoy in the moment and also think bigger, considering what you want long term.”

—Jennifer Taitz, Psy.D., clinical psychologist

10. Treat yourself with compassion and lots of love.

“People believe that self-care is selfish, so they avoid doing things that are actually necessities. Self-love, self-care, and self-fulfillment. It’s a lot of self, because happiness starts from within. Self-love includes eliminating negative self-talk and accepting yourself, flaws and all. Self-care means setting boundaries and taking time to refill your energy. Self-fulfillment is all about living your values and having authentic relationships.”

—Rachel DeAlto, communications and relationship expert

11. Don’t forget that your physical health has an impact on your mental health, too.

“Some physical things you can do to create a habit of happiness:
—Honor your circadian rhythm by waking shortly after sunrise and going to sleep a few hours after sunset. Not only do we need seven to nine hours of sleep in order to be happy, but our brain functions better by sharing the rhythm of the sun.
—Incorporate play into your life: Some easy ways to this are when you exercise, do something that makes you laugh, like a dance class, jumping on a trampoline, or playing a group sport.
—Meditate. This can be as simple as an app [like] Headspace.”

—Jennifer Jones, Ph.D., clinical psychologist

12. Several times throughout your day, take a deep breath and tell yourself that everything is OK. Eventually, your brain will get the memo.

“The bills may be piling up with you having no idea of how they are going to get paid. Your mother may have Alzheimer’s, and dealing with that is wearing you out. You may be starting to wonder if there really is someone out there for you. BUT in this moment, your heart is beating, you’re breathing, and you have food in your tummy and a roof over your head. Underneath all the circumstances, desires, and wants, you’re OK. While fixing dinner, walking through the grocery store, driving to work, or reading emails, come into the present moment and remind your brain, ‘I’m all right, right now.’
Over time with repetition, learning to come into the present and calming your brain and body will actually change the neural pathways in your brain — a scientific truth called neuroplasticity — so that this becomes the norm for you.”

—Debbie Hampton, founder of The Best Brain Possible and author of Beat Depression and Anxiety By Changing Your Brain

13. Make a conscious effort to take care of your mental health the same way you would your physical health.

“Too many people neglect to make their mental health a priority! And so it gets forgotten about and put in the ‘too-hard’ or ‘too-busy.’ But just like physical health, mental health really should be considered non-negotiable because without it, we have nothing else.
If I had to limit the key ingredients to happiness and good mental health to just a few I’d say good quality relationships and connectedness, good physical health and well-being, living a life with meaning and purpose, loving oneself and others, and having a sense of hope and optimism for the future.”

—Timothy Sharp, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of 100 Ways To Happiness: A Guide for Busy People.

Jul. 9, 2015     Anna Borges     BuzzFeed Staff
 


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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.

expectations

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. 

References
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


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6 Steps to Stress Less and Stay Motivated

Stress. It’s that slap-in-the-face feeling you get when there are too many demands, too many people to please, and too little time to get it all done.

This is not a pleasant or productive state to be in.

Sure, a little stress can be motivating and even energizing, but even working best under pressure has its limits. Eventually, it becomes physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.

When you reach that point, you don’t want to do anything. You’re tense, on edge, and mentally blocked.

If you’ve hit your stress limit, here’s a quick checklist to keep yourself calm and moving on:

1. Remember that you are enough.

When you’re stuck in not-good-enough mode, it can feel like you’re always doing something wrong. This only makes a stressful situation worse.

It’s a vicious cycle, and soon all you seem to see are your flaws. You feel weak and defeated. You lose motivation, energy, and creativity, and you’re convinced that you can’t cut it.

What if this time you remembered that you are enough? What would you do differently when things get tough?

You have nothing but stress to lose by trying.

2. Put on your own mask first.

You can’t do anything unless you are taking care of yourself. It’s nearly impossible to think clearly and stay motivated when you aren’t fueling, resting, and recharging your body and mind.

When your gut reaction to stress is hunkering down and pushing harder to get through it, it usually means doing less of the things that improve your mood and outlook on the situation. This might work for a little while, but eventually you get burned out.

Break the cycle by handling stress strategically. Ask yourself what one thing you could change about your self-care to help you through this stressful time. Give it the time it deserves as you test out that change.

Your body, mind, and productivity will thank you for it.

take_care_of_yourself

3. Let go of

No matter where you are in life, “should” and “supposed to” usually end in stress. This self-talk adds pain to an already upsetting situation.

This may surprise you, but “should” also helps you solve problems a lot less than you might think. Rather than facing a problem head-on as it is, it gets you frustrated about what it is not. This gets you nowhere fast.

Relieve your stress and keep up your motivation by making the move from should to solution. Ask what you can do about the situation as it is right now.

 4. Let go of comparison and competition.

Comparison and competition can be motivating when the conditions are right, but they sure can backfire. They can put you under constant pressure and make it feel like your entire worth as a person hinges on keeping up. When this goes too far, it’s defeating, not inspiring.

Having the drive to excel isn’t the problem here. The problems come when you focus more about the outcome than the process of getting there. When you can’t celebrate the small victories, be kind to yourself in the face of failure, or remember your unique strengths, you have the perfect conditions for losing motivation and feeling stressed.

If this sounds familiar, give yourself a time-out to think about what makes you who you are, what is meaningful to you, and what else you could be doing with your time and energy if you got off the hamster wheel of comparison/competition.

5. Reevaluate your expectations.

When you’re stressed, reevaluating expectations can feel a little too much like settling, so remember this: adapting your expectations to meet reality is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of intelligence! Sometimes the most effective way to stay on track is to pivot and try again with a fresh perspective.

You could tell yourself that you should have been able to meet your expectations exactly as they were, but life rarely plays by those rules. Rather than arguing with life about it, take a moment to adjust. Shift your perspective by taking the situation as it is and coming up with your best plan from there.

6. Slow down.

Stress can happen when you get ahead of yourself and take on too much at once.
It isn’t that you’re not capable of doing these things but that the combination of things, timing, and circumstances right now is just not working for you.

The result? Overwhelm. Indecision. Paralysis.

To slow down, focus on what’s right in front of you. Where are you today? What’s going to work right here?

Think of it as doing what works rather than trying to do everything all at once. Set small goals that fit into the bigger picture, and celebrate as you reach them. It’s so much more effective (and motivating) that way.

JUNE 5, 2016      BY LESLIE ROMERO RALPH
Leslie shows working moms how to bust those superwoman myths 
and bring back the balance and joy with her signature blend of real-life positive psychology tips 
and guilt-free meditations at A Year of Happy. .


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9 Habits That Can Keep You From Achieving Your Dreams

As a psychotherapist, I get the honor of helping people tackle their goals. Some clients are really inspired to change their lives and just want a little direction getting there. Others feel a bit more hopeless and discouraged about creating positive change. Either way, my job is to help them take the steps they need to make their lives better.

Over the years, I’ve learned that no matter what kind of goal someone is trying to reach—health, financial, parenting, relationship, or career—there are some common traps that can keep them from living their dreams.

Here are nine of the most common traps that could prevent you from reaching your goals—and the strategies that will help you avoid them:

1. Putting your goals off until “someday.”

Since “someday” never appears on the calendar, you’ll probably never accomplish your goals if you keep pushing them off. The best of intentions won’t do you any good without a clear plan.

Solution: If a goal is important to you, create a timeline. Even if you can’t start working on it today, at least tell yourself when you can tackle it. Whether you want to apply for a promotion once your child starts school or you plan to return to college when you turn 40, stop using the word someday.

2. Waiting to take action until you feel “ready.”

If you wait until you feel ready to tackle something tough, you might be waiting a long time. It’s unlikely that you’re going to gain a sudden burst of inspiration out of the blue.

Solution: Change your behavior first. Sometimes, the emotions change later. Take action and you may gain the ambition you need to keep going.

3. Not anticipating the tough times.

Whether you want to get out of debt, or you’re hoping to lose weight, change isn’t easy. You’ll encounter some days that are harder than others and it’s important to accept that there will be a rough road ahead.

Solution: Think about potential pitfalls that you might face and develop a plan for dealing with those times when you might be tempted to give up. When you have a plan, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to keep going.

4. Viewing mistakes as failure.

Progress rarely comes in a straight line. But sometimes people think one step back means they’ve gone all the way back to square one, which causes them to give up.

Solution: Recognize that you’re going to mess up sometimes. But rather than declare yourself a failure, use your energy to create a plan to get back on track.

waiting
Don’t Wait to take action until you ‘feel’ ready.

5. Not making your goal a priority.

It’s easy to say you want to make change but actually doing the work is much different. You have to decide what kind of priority you’re going to give your goal. Otherwise, your intention will get lost among all your other daily activities.

Solution: Identify one step you’re going to take every day and put it in your calendar. You’re more likely to go to the gym, apply for a job, or spend an hour researching a new business idea if you establish a time to do it.

6. Underestimating how hard it will be.

Tackling a new goal is easy but sticking to it is hard. Assuming “This won’t be a problem at all” can leave you unprepared for the reality of the situation.

Solution: Don’t confuse overconfidence with mental strength. Rather than tell yourself it’s going to easy, remind yourself that you’re going to need to work hard to achieve your goals, despite whatever skills and talents you already possess.

7. Giving up before you see results.

Impatience is the enemy of change. And many people struggle to wait for the time it takes to reach a goal.

Solution: Just because you can’t see results doesn’t mean your efforts are wasted. You need to stick to goals longer than you might think before you experience lasting change.

8. Sabotaging yourself just before the finish line.

The fear of success can be a real problem. And if you’re not careful, you might sabotage yourself before you reach your goal. Perhaps you don’t believe you’re worthy of success or maybe you are afraid someone is going to take it away from you.

Solution: Think about past goals you’ve struggled to reach or those you’ve failed to attain. Be honest with yourself about your feelings and be on the lookout for warning signs that you might be throwing in the towel.

9. Setting your sights too high.

If you’re really excited about changing your life, you might be tempted to set the bar really high. If you take on too much too fast, however, you’ll set yourself up for failure.

Solution: Focusing too much on a big goal can be overwhelming. Establish short-term objectives and celebrate each milestone along the way.

Aug 08, 2016         Amy Morin        @AmyMorinLCSW       AmyMorinLCSW.com
Interested in learning how to give up the bad habits that rob you of mental strength?
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source:    AmyMorinLCSW.com     www.inc.com