|Self-Discipline Season has Begun
||Almost everyone struggles with some aspect of self-discipline, but never more than during the holidays. After all, from Thanksgiving to mid-January, we see-saw back and forth between over-indulging in treats, and making resolutions to exercise in the New Year. Then, when we fail to carry it all out as pledged, we...
|The Skinny Behind Weight-Loss Supplements
||Wendy Foulds Mathes, PhD, is trying to create an eating disorder in rats by allowing them to binge on Oreo Cookies. Many people would believe that getting stuffed on cookies would come natural to a rodent, but it doesn’t. By controlling when the rats are given cookies and then looking...
|Overweight and Invisible – part 4
||What follows is part four of a fictional exchange between a client, Carrie and her therapist. Carrie is 16 years old, and she weighs 173 lbs. She has a younger sister, Tori, who is just 15, pretty, popular and athletic. It has been two weeks since her last session. Therapist:...
|5 Questions that Will Test Your Sense of Meaning in Life
||The need to find meaning in your life might not be something you ponder on a daily basis but it lies at the root of your sense of worth. By answering these 5 questions, you can measure your progress toward that ultimate source of happiness.
|Thanksgiving is Much More than Saying “Thank You”
||Someone once said “it is really hard to have a good day with a bad attitude.” It is just as difficult to have a bad day with a good attitude. The same is true of the satisfaction we feel in our romantic life. It is very difficult to maintain a heathy...
|Are the Chicago Cubs Cursed?
||When Pablo Sandoval caught the final out of the 2014 season, it marked the 106th consecutive season that ended without the Chicago Cubs as champions. The absurdly long drought, a full 40 years longer than the runner-up Cleveland Indians, makes some fans wonder if their team is simply cursed. Under new general...
|Medical Negligence : Sometimes Caused by Substance Abusing Physicians
|| “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will quit.” That is what Marc Myer, a Minnesota family practice doctor, kept telling himself every time he stole prescription opiates form his patients to maintain his addiction. But for Myer, and my doctors, “tomorrow” never came. Doctors addicted to prescription medications...
|Navigating the Holidays When You Have Depression
||For people with depression, the holidays can be a challenging time. People with the illness “tend to have a negative view of themselves and their lives,” said Selena C. Snow, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating depression in Rockville, Md. “If they have overly idealized beliefs about what...
|The Paradox of Genuine Love: Why Loving Your Self
||seyed mostafa zamani via Compfight The permission to fully love and embrace your self and life with wonder, compassion and acceptance is no small matter. Paradoxically, you need your own love and acceptance to fully and genuinely love another (and vice versa..). Why? Two reasons. First, there is no way to...
|How Yoga & Meditation Increase Creativity & Healthy Emotions
||Research continues to demonstrate the power of meditation and yoga practices to transform our entire beings. These two new studies illustrate how creativity in increased from meditation; and that yoga diminishes stress and anxiety. They add to the growing body of knowledge of the impact of these practices upon our minds, emotions and behavior.
|For holiday orphans, depression is real
||I have made it 55 years without cooking a turkey. I used to be ashamed of that fact. How could a one-time wife and mother get this far in life without ever having made a turkey? It’s a sad story with a happy ending. I don’t have much family and...
|Dementia: The Brain’s Weak Spot Found
A brain network which links dementia and schizophrenia has been discovered.
Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
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|Reflecting During the Holidays: Will You Feel Joy or Regret?
||During the holiday season many of us reflect on our past filled with regret. We forget that regret is a story we make up about how our lives could have been better if we had made another choice--but in reality, the twists and turns of that choice might have taken us to other, unexpected places and maybe not for the better at all.
|Asymptomatic atherosclerosis linked to cognitive impairment
||In a study of nearly 2,000 adults, researchers found that a buildup of plaque in the body's major arteries was associated with mild cognitive impairment. Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fat, cholesterol and other substances collect in the arteries, forming a substance called plaque that can build up, limiting blood flow. It can occur in any artery of the body, including the carotid, which supplies blood to the brain, coronary arteries and the aorta, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart through the abdomen to the rest of body.
|Gene discovered that reduces risk of stroke
||A gene that protects people against one of the major causes of stroke in young and middle-aged adults has been discovered, and researchers say that it could hold the key to new treatments.
|Best of Our Blogs: November 25, 2014
||In a few days, it will be Thanksgiving here in the US. The irony is that while many of us are gearing up for this day of gratitude, we’re probably not feeling it. Prepping turkeys, and getting ready for Black Friday and the litany of holidays that come with forced...
|How to Build a New Habit — And Make it Stick
||Are you a master of a skill? Perhaps you’re fluent in a language. A world-class pianist. A master craftsman in carpentry. If you are, it’s not necessarily a result of your income, personal circumstances, upbringing, or any other variable. It’s a result of something a lot more powerful, something you...
|When Being Nice Gets in the Way of Being Smart
||The relation between intelligence and the personality trait agreeableness presents a puzzle. Agreeableness is unrelated to IQ, yet lay people tend to associate agreeableness with lower intelligence, even though it is a desirable quality. A new study found that agreeable people choke under pressure, suggesting that being too nice can be a liability at times.
|The wrong sort of discussion
||The Times Higher Education has an article on post-publication peer review, and whether it will survive legal challenges The legal action launched by a US scientist who claims that anonymous comments questioning his science cost him a lucrative job offer has raised further questions about the potential for post-publication peer review to replace pre-publication review. […]
|Three Steps to a Low-Stress, High-Joy Holiday Season
||Last week, something surprising happened: The kids turned on the radio on the way to school hoping to hear Christmas carols on the station known for holiday music. You know, because now that we’re into November, it is, at least to the kids, the most wonderful time of the year.
Many adults love the idea of the holidays more than their actual experience of them—mostly because their list of holiday-related tasks and obligations outweighs the joy of it all. So that I can actually enjoy the holidays, I’ve devised the three-part plan below.
Step One: Prioritize connection. ‘Tis the season for reconnecting. We reconnect with our friends and neighbors through a handful of annual parties. We reconnect with our more distant friends through cards and photos. And we reconnect with our extended family consistently throughout the season—our holiday rituals are what help make our family truly our family.
For example, the weekend before Christmas my cousins always fly in from Massachusetts and Washington and Florida for a big extended family Christmas party, complete with a funny “white elephant” gift exchange. My mom always makes spritz cookies with the kids, a tradition started in Germany with her mother. We light the candles of the menorah and say prayers each night during Hanukkah, something my husband’s Jewish family has been teaching me and my kids.
All of this is about renewing our sense that we are a part of something larger than ourselves. Let me not mince words here: This sense that we are connected and part of a larger whole is the single strongest predictor of happiness that we have. It is true that the holidays have become depressingly commercial in our culture, with a massive focus what each individual will get and what kids want in terms of material gifts. Soon every news report will include something about how the economy is responding to this year’s wave of massive collective consumption.
But we can choose to focus on relationships instead of individual gift lists this holiday season. Not surprisingly, people who focus on family or religion during the holidays report higher happiness than those who don’t.
Step Two: Schedule the fun, the tasks—and the necessary downtime. There is so much going on at this time of the year, I know that I have to sit down with my calendar and block out time to get a Christmas tree, shop for our Hanukkah meals, take a holiday card photo, etc.
First, I make a simple list of all the things I need and want to do in the next two months. Second, I block off time on our family calendar to actually do those things—including the not-so-obvious things, like scheduling time to update my address book so that our holiday cards make it to where they’re supposed to. (Research suggests that telling your brain when you will do something reduces stress.) Third, I actually schedule downtime on my calendar, like weekend mornings when we commit to not going anywhere or doing anything.
Once I do that, I realize that I’m not going to have enough time to do everything on my list. But I can’t skip my downtime, or I won’t actually enjoy the holidays. And so I have to decide: What are the most important things for me to do and events for me to attend?
That leads me back to Step One: Where do we get the most bang for our relationship buck? Everything that doesn’t serve to connect us to each other or something larger than ourselves gets nixed.
It is never easy to stick to the plan. Inevitably, someone will call to see if we can go ice skating on a weekend morning when we’ve scheduled downtime, and we’ll all want to go. But if we can’t easily reschedule the downtime for the next day, we’ll say no.
I’ll get a lot of pushback on this decision from my family, but I’ll remind them that more is not necessarily better, and that I’m actually not that fun to be around when I’m exhausted.
Step Three: Trade in expectations for appreciation. Most of us suffer from what I think of as an abundance paradox: Because we have so much, it becomes easy to take our good fortune for granted; as a result, we are more likely to feel disappointed when we don’t get what we want than to feel grateful when we do.
This tendency can be especially pronounced during the holidays—but we can overcome it by consciously cultivating gratitude.
We can do so in three ways. First, we can create holiday gratitude traditions (see this post for ideas how). Second, we can intentionally expose ourselves to other people’s suffering, and make a real effort to help. An afternoon spent serving the homeless can make most anyone feel instantly, and deeply, grateful. Finally, we can make an effort to notice when our expectations are leading us to desire something different than what we have—a recipe for disappointment. One of the best happiness tips I know of: find something to love in the moment you are in right now.
As the holidays approach, we will likely feel stressed and exhausted, but we need not feel like victims to this time of year. Our exhaustion is not inevitable; how tired or stressed we get is often a result of the choices we make (or fail to make) ahead of time. So while I think it is definitely too early for holiday music, it is not too early to start making the choices that will lead us to a low-stress, high-joy holiday season.