More and more, I’m noticing that there are certain really important ideas discussed online so regularly that they are starting to simply be seen as “buzz words”. For instance, we often see the terms ‘self-care’, ‘self-compassion’, ‘mindfulness’, etc. used in ways that make it difficult for someone to understand what the terms mean and how to best incorporate them into their lives. These terms represent big ideas and the more instruction we can receive on these topics, the more likely we are to make subtle, but meaningful changes in ourselves. The following article breaks down the main components of self-compassion therapy, and then provides many concrete tools and exercises to begin practicing this new way of relating to yourself: 16 Compassion Focused Therapy Training Exercises and Worksheets.
Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve been recommending the same book to clients…over, and over. One might believe that it’s because it’s the first book that comes to mind, or because I’m in the habit of reading only a few books a year (which all might be true!), but the more accurate reason is that I’ve realized that this book seems to be relevant for so many individuals that I work with. The book I’m referring to is called “The Happiness Trap”, by Russ Harris. It is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and is an easy to digest, relatable, and research supported book that helps individuals better notice and distance from their unhelpful thought patterns, while moving towards actions that align with their values. Plus, it has countless examples and exercises that you can (and ideally will!) use to practice these very helpful tools. The first chapter is available for free online, so check it out and see if you think it could help direct you towards a more helpful and meaningful way of thinking and acting: The Happiness Trap - Introduction and Chapter One.
We have all fallen victim to the never-ending chase for happiness, the ongoing desire to attain a steady level of contentment and joy that so often feels just outside of our grip. Interestingly, the more one searches for happiness outside of themselves, the more steep the slope may seem. This is largely due to the fact that happiness is a feeling, which means it’s an internal state that comes from within! The more we are searching for happiness “out there” the less we’re giving ourselves a chance to acknowledge what we can do within ourselves to move closer towards those positive feelings. The following article, a brief summary of the book by the same name by John Izzo, highlights the five ways that our own mindset gets in the way of our happiness: Some tips for banishing the five thieves of happiness.
As many people have read or heard, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, lost her husband suddenly two years ago. She has spoken openly about the grief that comes with loss, and the different coping skills that she and her children have found helpful in moving through this grief. In the article below, Sheryl talks about how to build resilience in children, even when they have experienced such a tremendous loss. Her writing expands on research by Dr. Adam Grant, a professor who researches resilience during adversity, and describes many key elements that can help contribute to children’s overall resilience no matter what obstacles lie in their path - Sheryl Sandberg: How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss.
More attention is being paid to the importance of making space for our emotions, and learning how to express ourselves effectively. It appears, however, that there continues to be a stigma surrounding which emotions are considered appropriate for each gender.
Research and theory have suggested that various parental, cultural, and societal influences contribute to a divergence in emotional expression between genders (Fisher, 2000). Ultimately, gender stereotypes suggest that it is more appropriate for girls to express their difficulties with sadness, fear, and worry, whereas boys are meant to express their pain with anger. This expectation, however, leads boys and men to not have access to proper tools to express the range of human emotions. Read on to learn more about suggested tools to encourage boys to become comfortable with all of their emotions: 10 Tips on Helping Teen Boys Express Their Feelings.
So much of our culture is focused on one shared goal – the pursuit of happiness! Though happiness seems desirable, making happiness our ultimate goal may lead us to feel especially discouraged when confronted with life’s normal ups and downs, as well as the objective difficulties that all individuals confront at various times in their lives. Further, researcher finds that even once a person achieves a goal that they associate with being happy, they eventually grow accustomed to the change and its novelty and positive impact on mood diminishes (Macini, Bonanno, & Clark, 2011). The following blog explores the importance of pursing a life that includes all emotions, with a goal of being “whole” and not just happy: “Positive thinking” has turned happiness into a duty and a burden, says a Danish psychologist.
We often find ourselves stuck in a situation where we can’t seem to let go of an upsetting or frustrating event. We catch ourselves becoming distracted during the day when ruminating about these events, which removes us from the present moment and robs of us our ability to enjoy what is right in front of us. So why do we keep our minds stuck on these moments? Sometimes we think that if we let something go, we’re saying that we’re okay with what happened. The truth is that letting go simply allows you to live more freely regardless of what’s happened. Research supports this notion that accepting our situation as it is, and letting go of negative experiences in our mind, allows us to feel more connected and present in our daily life (Ciarrochi, Bilich, & Godsel, 2010). The following article explores this notion further and highlights why it’s so helpful to sometimes let go of that which is no longer serving us: The Cost of Holding On.
I often find myself caught up in thoughts about “I’ll be happy when…”. The following article highlights that the search for happiness prevents us from being in the present moment, and can leave us stuck in a cycle of always looking ahead for what will make us happy in the future. We also tend to believe that one thing will bring us happiness, but once we achieve it, we realize that the joy is fleeting and we’re already onto the next thing. This phenomenon is further explored in the following article, which is based on research that highlights the difficulty of our never-ending search for happiness: Why You Shouldn't Want to Always Be Happy.
How should parents talk about weight with their children? Understandably, parents want their kids to be physically healthy, but it’s important to consider the mental health impact of sending the wrong message. A recent study shows that even passing comments can have a long-term negative impact on a daughter’s self-esteem (Wansink, Latimer, Pope, 2016). This article discusses the negative impact of commenting on a child’s weight, and alternatives on how to best support a healthy lifestyle for the entire family.
We all have the thought that if only we could be more outgoing, more conscientious, more organized, etc., our lives would improve. We also have the tendency to think that those desires are enough to actually lead to change. For example, if I say I’ll be more on time, in the future I’ll hopefully be more on time. However, that’s not quite how change works. Research suggests that we need concrete, attainable goals in order to see changes (Hudson & Fraley, 2015). Read on to develop a better understanding of personality and our ability to see real changes in ourselves: Can Personality Be Changed?