Tag Archives: positive

You can find joy by sharing joy

The other day a friend posted something on social media about some positive recognition she had received from a colleague. She titled the post “I am not one to boast” as if she was embarrassed to share this information. Of course, she was proud and she had every right to share this good news with others but something was holding her back. 

Research shows that nearly three times more positive experiences happen in a day than negative, yet it is so easy to let the negative take over and ruin the day. Good things are happening to us all the time, but we are reluctant to share them. 

Maybe it is out of guilt. You don’t want to make others around you feel bad because something great happened to you but they are having a rough time. Maybe you don’t feel deserving of whatever good has happened. Or, you don’t want to “brag.” If it is a reoccurring form of goodness then maybe you have just gotten used to it and now it has become commonplace. 

The Benefits of Sharing

But, the truth is a lot of benefits can come from sharing our joy. Research shows that sharing positive experiences gives them more weight in our brains. A study done at Brigham Young University shows that discussing positive experiences leads to increased overall life satisfaction and more energy. 

Think about it when we talk about the good things that are happening to us we are validating them, we are accepting that we are deserving of the good and are able to relish in those experiences more fully. 

With this friend, in particular, she had an outpouring of support. Comment after comment after comment of well-deserved praise. Sharing her joy opened her eyes to the wonderful support system she has around her. 

And, as far as feeling guilty for sharing the good, in many cases hearing of good things happening to those around us lifts us up. It is so easy to get caught in the negative. There is so much negative news, so much happening around us that can easily crush our spirits. When we hear of these true moments of good in the lives of those around us, it gives us hope. It highlights the beauty that can be found around us. Even if these good things may not be happening to us directly. 

I mean, really, who hasn’t at least teared-up during a human-interest story on the news. We can find joy in other peoples joy, and sharing your joy can help to increase your overall appreciation for life. 

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201307/the-science-behind-the-joy-sharing-joy

You can boost your willpower, here is how:

Just like the muscles in our legs and arms, our brains get tired too. When we spend all day making decision after decision — the willpower part of our brains gets spent. Without even potentially realizing it, you begin to make poor—or even completely avoid—decisions. It is called decision fatigue and scientists are just beginning to learn more about its potentially detrimental impact. 

Whether it be shopping, working, dieting, it is easier for us to make smart, educated, well-thought decisions in the morning before we have depleted so much of our energy. It is why it is easier to eat healthier breakfasts than dinners, and why we often reach for that piece of candy at the end of the day. Our brains are exhausted and our willpower is depleted. 

Think about building a home, or picking out clothes at the store, you are making decision after decision — what hardware to put where, what lighting fixture, where should the outlets go, do I want the purple shirt or the red shirt, is this dress too big, should I spend this much money, etc. Chances are at the end you feel like throwing in the towel. Or you say “ah screw it, I will just go with this one.” This is decision fatigue. The list can go on and on. But, by recognizing that decision fatigue exists and acknowledging its potentially damaging impact, you can make changes to your life to increase your willpower. 

Reduce decison fatigue

Here are some ways to get started reducing decision fatigue and boosting willpower:

1.) Plan reoccurring decisions ahead of time: Obviously you can’t plan every decision before it happens. That is just life. But many of the decisions that are draining our willpower are the ones we make over and over again. Things like what you are going to wear to work, what you are going to eat for lunch/breakfast/dinner, when you are going to hit up the gym, etc. This stuff you can plan before you go to bed at night so the next day you have willpower for the big stuff. 

2.) Whatever is most important in your day, do it first: Maybe it is exercising, getting a project done, getting the laundry folded, helping your child with a project, whatever it is wake up early and get it done. You are the freshest version of yourself when you wake up. Get up, get to it and start your day off on the right foot, it may even help the rest of the day to unfold smoother.

3.) Take care of you: It is hard to have willpower if you feel drained, unhealthy, unfit, bad about yourself, etc. Put time in your day to focus on yourself and make sure you are getting the proper fuel for your day.

4.) Make commitments, instead of decisions: Rather than getting down on yourself by constantly telling yourself you “want to lose weight,” “want to change jobs,” “want to start working out,” start doing it. You will have fewer decisions to make if you just rip the bandaid off and commit. 

5.) Fuel first: If a decision is coming at the end of the day, or maybe a big meeting at work, then take a break, refresh and eat something first. You will be more on top of your game if you can boost some of that brain fuel. 

6.) Keep it simple: Get rid of the things in your life that you don’t need. Don’t waste your energy on things that don’t contribute to your wellbeing, that don’t provide joy. You don’t need to keep doing unnecessary tasks that are draining your energy. 

Your willpower is not always going to be at a steady level. That is impossible. But the first step to making changes is recognizing where the problems are and working to rectify them. It’s ok to put off a decision for a day rather than being impulsive. You can decide to get some rest first, just don’t avoid it completely. 

Sources: 

New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html

https://jamesclear.com/willpower-decision-fatigue

How to live the fullest with the holiday blues

The holidays can be a time for joy, happiness, appreciation but they can also trigger sadness, depression, and remind us of things we are missing. These feelings are so common they have a name — the Holiday Blues. 

Around this time of the year, I frequently encounter clients who are struggling with loss in their family, financial issues, mental health, etc. They often ask me what they can do to get out of their funk. On top of therapy, medication, proper nutrition, and physical activity the main thing we need to do when we are struggling is to avoid isolation. When we are down and we isolate ourselves it escalates those negative feelings. 

Turn negative into positive

Doing something nice for others by giving part of yourself helps to get people out of isolation and feel good when they see the joy of others. Through volunteering, cooking a meal, cleaning a house, or baking cookies for others in need you can help yourself while also helping others. When we see the joy of others achieved through our efforts it helps to lift us up and feel good about the way we are spending our days. 

It is hard to get through the holiday season when you focus on all the things that have gone wrong throughout the year, or all the things that are missing. When you turn that negative energy into something positive it can help you get through this otherwise hard time more easily, and might also give you a reason to smile. 

If you are wondering where to start, here are some websites to help:

National Coalition for the Homeless: https://nationalhomeless.org

Volunteer Match: https://www.volunteermatch.org

Create The Good: http://createthegood.org

Quit calling them ‘negative’ emotions

Certain emotions frequently show up in science and the media as “negative” emotions. We all know them as sadness, anger, disgust, frustration, etc. Then there are the “positive” emotions—happy, excited, etc. Instead of classifying an emotion as “negative” or “positive” how about we just start calling it by what it actually is? 

We are sending the message that emotions are bad.

When we classify an emotion as negative, we are sending the message that it is bad. That we aren’t supposed to feel this way. It makes us feel guilty about having these so-called “negative” emotions. No one wants to feel “negatively” or do the “wrong” thing. But an emotion isn’t bad. It isn’t wrong to feel a certain way. We need to stop grouping them together as a set and refer them to as an individual feeling. Yes, I am sad that my grandfather is in the hospital. Yes, I am disappointed I didn’t get the job. Yes, I am frustrated that the dog had an accident in the living room this morning. This is life, folks. 

These emotions are ok, they are healthy, they are necessary. We don’t need to pretend that we don’t feel this way. We don’t need to feel guilty or that we are doing something bad by feeling upset or disappointed. Rather we need to let the emotions come. We need to feel them, accept them, allow ourselves to work through them. What we don’t need to do is ignore them. That only compounds the situation and makes things eventually erupt. So instead of thinking about emotions as “negative” or “positive,” think of them simply as an emotion. Leave it at that. There is no need for classification.

Overcoming negativity by practicing gratitude

Have you ever notice how your brain seems to always pick up and dwell on the negative? It is all part of science. Our brains are hardwired to respond and focus on the negative. 

Studies done by psychologist Dr. John Cacioppo, as previously mentioned on my blog prove the brain reacts stronger to negative stimuli than positive. This is all part of the brains built-in mechanism to protect ourselves from danger. But, always focusing on the negative can be tough on our mental health. It can worsen depression and anxiety, and lead to general unhappiness. 

Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude—while a learned practice—can help us pivot from our brain’s hardwiring for negativity, and help us to see the positive things we often overlook. Gratitude takes us out of our own nearsightedness and helps us recognize there is something/someone other than ourselves. It helps us to remember to be fair and to see both the negatives and positives in life and in others. It creates a more well-rounded existence. 

A powerful way—and relatively easy routine to adapt—to practice gratitude is The Power of Three. It is to give gratitude, whether it be at the end of each day or in the moment, to someone, something, and yourself. Each day, give recognition to (at least) one person for doing something nice for you, one positive thing that happened to you, and, last but not least, to yourself for doing something nice for others or yourself. Don’t forget to be nice to yourself! 

I encourage my clients to start gratitude journals, where each night before bed they write down at least one positive thing that came of the day. It can be as simple as not getting any red lights on the way home from work, listening to your favorite song when you woke up, getting a hug from your child, sharing dinner with your spouse, opening the door for a stranger, or a funny joke with a friend. There is something positive that happens each day. Practicing gratitude keeps us from being bogged down by all the negativity our brains seek. Using a journal to record those positive things can help us to keep stock of all the positive in our lives. It only takes a few minutes and can have a huge impact on your day-to-day happiness level. 

What are you grateful for today? 

My daughter thinks another girl is pretty: Part 2

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, my five-year-old daughter thinks another girl is pretty. She decided she wanted to give her a pretty plastic ring, so she made her a card and put the ring on it. 

During the process, my daughter said she was embarrassed and “scared.” She said a few of her female friends were making comments like “eww, that girl isn’t that pretty anyway” and “I am weird.” It doesn’t surprise me that female competition is beginning to start at her age. Child and adolescent psychologist Katie Hurley describes in her book No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident and Compassionate Girls the trend of toxic female competitiveness that is creeping down from high school, and starting as young as grade school. She offers many reasons for this, citing busy schedules, rise in stress and anxiety levels, and increased pressure for children to do well in sports and extracurriculars.

Girls uplifting other girls

I responded to my daughter’s concerns over giving this card to her friend, by telling her “we can show people we like them in many ways.” I told her, “girls can think another girl is pretty. And girls can uplift another girl.” Her twin sister also supported her, the best any five-year-old can. She also made the girl a card that said: “my sister thinks you are pretty and wants to give you a ring.” Afterwards, the twin quietly told me she doesn’t care if girls are not “suppose” to like girls, she loves her sister anyway. I told her, “we can like people in many ways. We are just going to send nice words to uplift another girl! Cool, right?!”

We, adults, have a lot to learn from young children about loving and not judging each other. We are conditioned to compete with our peers. We draw on our insecurities and instead of turning them into positives, we put other women down. We are not being uplifting because we are afraid of other women being more successful, prettier, “bigger” than us. We need to dig deep inside and find that inner strength to uplift each other. Us, women, we need each other. We need the support from others, the kindness, the acceptance. We should be helping each other to feel good about ourselves, instead of doing the exact opposite. 

How do you uplift the women around you?

More on Hurley: https://www.thestar.com/life/relationships/opinion/2018/02/08/why-girls-are-getting-meaner-younger.html

Today is a new day

It really is a wonderful gift to be able to let go. To see each new day as exactly that—a new day.  It is something I encourage you to try to do. If we can see each day as a reset and leave yesterday as yesterday, if we can stop all the dwelling, and the what ifs, we would all be so much happier. 

Today is a new day. You woke up fresh. You are alive. You have the ability to make the day what you want. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, then make today about getting away from the norm…whatever that entails. On days when I feel consumed by work and household chores, I break out of the mold. I take my kids to the park instead of going home to my mess, I go shopping or meet a friend for breakfast instead of going back to the computer. We all need those days to recharge, to reenergize, to get back into the groove.

“Everyday is a new beginning. Take a deep breath. Smile and start again.”

Maybe you have been feeling sluggish and unhealthy lately, and you find yourself waking up each morning full of regret for what you did yesterday—stop this! You have the power to change your thinking and your actions. So what if yesterday didn’t go as planned, oh well, today you can start fresh. Let go of yesterday. We can’t go back, so stop letting it ruin today. If you are finding it hard to see each day as a reset to your life, here are some tips to get you on the right track:’

1.) Focus on the positive: Sure yesterday might not have gone as planned but you are alive today, you have your family, your friends, your job, the sun is shining…whatever it is that is good in your life focus in on it. 

2.) Strive to do something nice for someone else: Maybe you aren’t feeling too good about something that happened yesterday. Why not turn that regret into something more positive. Take a moment to do something kind for someone else. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but a little kindness can go a long way in making someone else feel good and giving yourself a reason to feel good about yourself.

3.) Practice mindfulness: You just woke up and you are suddenly overcome with anxiety about the day. You have to get the kids ready and off to school, you have a big project due at work, what are you going to make for dinner? Take a second to stop, look around you and say to yourself, “I am here, I am sitting on my bed, my kids are asleep” and take a deep breath. Bring yourself back down to earth and take it one step at a time. 

4.) Do something healthy for yourself: Each day, strive to take a healthy step for you. Whatever that may be. It could be exercising, eating a salad instead of a cheeseburger, watching a movie with your kids instead of working late into the night. A few small steps to make you feel better can go a long way toward helping you feel happy.

5.) Let go: The theme of this post. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, it is out of your control. You can only control your future. 

If you have trouble letting go of yesterday, it can also be helpful to speak with a licensed counselor. He/she can help you put things into perspective and come up with a plan to start each day fresh, and let go of all that stuff we can’t change.