If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk,
if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do,
you have to keep moving forward.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Holy moly! Isn’t that the whole goal of life – to be happy! How do we get there? What are the habits of the happiest people on Earth? Research has been doing some digging into happiness for the past few decades and here is what they have come up with.
The happiest people on Earth exercise these seven habits daily and it is proven to contribute to their well-being and success.
Pick one and practice it this month. Just one at a time. Once you feel well adjusted to the new habit, move onto the next habit and practice only that one until it becomes a new part of you and so on…
1. Choose kindness.
Research shows that when we watch others being kind, we feel a sense of “elation” that improves our mood and encourages us to mimic similar kind behavior. Kindness is contagious.
2. Practice forgiveness.
Forgiving others does little for the sinner, but frees us up from our burden of anger. Forgiveness allows our energy to flow and lightens our perspective of the world.
3. Be naturally curious.
Studies show that curious people have better relationships and enjoy socializing more than less curious people. So be open-minded and humble in your knowledge.
4. Express gratitude.
Gratitude has been linked with lowering anxiety and depression, as well as improving sleep and resilience during difficult situations and trauma.
5. Be generous.
The more we invest in other people, whether with time or money, we feel better connected and more fulfilled in our relationships. Thanks Christmas!
6. Exercise patience.
Isn’t that interesting? Studies show that people who are patient make better progress toward their goals and feel more life satisfaction and gratitude (with all its above mentioned benefits) than less patient people.
7. Keep a gratitude journal.
By practicing intentional gratitude daily, we train our minds to think positively. Science shows that this practice improves productivity, increases sales, and improves chances for promotions!
Best wishes on your happiness journey my friends!
If you are interested in reading more about the research and findings on each of these habits, read on! The article I referenced is at Inc.com 7 Habits of the Happiest People (That Most of Us Rarely Practice) by Marcel Schwantes.
This season of COVID-19 is expected to be one of the most trying times that this world will experience together in our lifetimes. Many of us, while in quarantine, have found a revitalized desire and need to grow our muscles of self-control and patience.
Dr. Jonathan Bricker is an internationally recognized scientific leader in a bold approach called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT for short). It is a wonderful way to grow one’s perspective and practice of patience and self-control. I am excited to share a TED talk given by him on this very topic! Enjoy practicing your new skills!
A simple step-by-step method to growing your patience muscles:
To learn more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, I recommend you check out this article from PsychologyToday.com. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/acceptance-and-commitment-therapy.
Also, if you are interested in professional guidance through this work, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to support you through this powerful ACT journey!
Research tells us that up to 300 million people are diagnosed with depression each year. That number only tallies the people who are diagnosed, not those who are also silently struggling! It is considered a worldwide epidemic, yet many do not comprehend the chaos is creates in the lives of so many.
What is depression? It is a characterized by five or more of the following experiences nearly every day for two weeks or more:
Some people experience these symptoms episodically, meaning repeatedly throughout their lives, while others only during one or two difficult times of their lives. Either way, there are so many ways that you can fight against the pain of depression. While medication is an option, it is not for everybody.
Below you will find a couple resources on other, more natural methods for battling the depression in your life. Also please feel free to call or email me for therapy support! I would love to provide the professional, safe, and empowering support you need to get you through this!
Coping with Depression
How to Fight Depression: 20 Things to Try
Depression.org Self Help
Yet another year is upon us folks!! I wish you all goodness, love and joy for you and your families in this year. It is always during this time of year that we step back and evaluate our progress – where did we come from, where are we going, and how far along our path have we gone? Is this still the right path for me or my family? How can I do better?
As you ponder, I want to offer you some tips on how make create goals that are encouraging and real for you. I call them SMART goals. These are goals that have small, measurable and attainable steps that will motivate you to keep going and keep working for the betterment of you and your family!!
S - Specific
Create goals that are specific. Away with the lofty days of old, with grand, but vague “I want to make an impact on my world” statements. HOW? In what ways are you specifically gifted? Think of your niche in the world and what cause is most important to you. Create a specific goal that is tailored to your personality and gifts, as well as impacts the parts of the world that are most important to you.
M - Measurable
Now you have a dream! Congrats! Now create a list all of the steps needed before you can attain your dream. Again be super specific here, so that you have clear tasks to complete. There is no feeling in the world like the accomplished pride you feel when you cross off the small, measurable tasks on your to-do list!
A - Achievable
While you are creating that list of steps, break down each step into small, achievable tasks. For example, if you want to start a new career, what steps are needed to get there? Maybe some education? Then the next step might look like graduate school. The new goal becomes graduate school by next fall. So then you need to create my list of tasks to do before you can begin graduate school, such as research local school programs, find application deadlines, and ask for letters of recommendation.
R - Realistic
The idea here is to work from my big dreams down to creating achievable, realistic small tasks for me to be able to reach that dream. When you create realistic small goals and tasks, you can see the pathway to your long-term dreams. This practice makes it a real and exciting journey, rather than a daunting or unattainable pipe dream.
T - Time-limited
Now go grab your calendar! Move those small measurable, attainable tasks onto your timeline so that these short term tasks will add up to your completed dreams!
Best wishes for your new year!
The holiday season is upon us once again! A time of family, memories, and love. It is important to think about how we can best share our love with others, especially during this busy season.
Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell are known for their work in understanding humans’ love languages. They say that humans express and receive love in five different ways. We all have our top three preferences; sometimes how we express love most naturally is different than how we prefer to receive love. The trick to nurturing deep relationships is to know your loved one’s preferential love language so that you can match your expression to their preferred experiences. Likewise, if you know your own preferred love language, you can inform those who love you so they can express their love to you in the best way.
So let’s break this down and study how we can express and receive love with others. Below I have included those five love languages as well as examples of what they look like. I encourage everyone to study them, decide what your preferred love languages are and ask your loved ones about theirs. Once you know their preferences, your actions and words can be best tailored to target their heart!
1. Sacrificial. For this person, actions speak louder than words. The ancient Egyptians had a saying, “Show me your deeds, and I will know your heart” (https://egypt.mrdonn.org/weighingheart.html).
2. Words of Affirmation. Some prefer actions, but this person prefers words. Kind words of encouragement and praise. Expressing declarations of love or sharing vulnerability are ways of sharing love through words.
3. Physical Touch. Expressing love through touch and affection, whether that be snuggling on the couch, random kisses, hugs, massage or even a light arm rub.
4. Gift Giving. Some love to give, while others prefer to receive.
5. Quality Time. You don’t always have to spend time creating elaborate plans for expensive days out - even quiet movie nights on the couch, doing nothing but spending time together is a sure fire way to speak to this heart.
If you are interested in learning more, check out the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.
Why do parents need to bond with their children? Why do partners need time to reconnect? Why all the extra effort? Why can’t love just be enough (I tip my hat to just about every long song out there)?!
Study after study confirm that bonding is an essential human instinct and basic biological function that gives humans a sense of security and self-esteem. Bonding helps parents feel connected to the newest family members and children to their parents and peers. Bonding promotes marriage security. It promotes a sense of belonging and purpose within one’s community. Without constant reassurance of one’s place in our changing world, humans quickly lose their internal sense of how they fit into it. We know how we fit based on who we fit with.
Here are five simple ways to promote bonding and emotional connection with your loved ones.
During my last post, I spoke about the raw power in the emotion of anger. Anger can be both hurtful and aggressive, but also incredibly protective and motivating.
Consider a woman who has been assaulted. She experiences deep feelings sadness, anxiety and anger. But this woman is able to sort through her feelings, labeling each emotion and understanding their source and meaning. Once she understands her anger, she is able to transform its raw energy to a refined, targeted power source. She harnesses the strength it gives her. This woman turns around and uses this energy to form a non-profit agency that educates women on self-defense techniques and assertive communication training, in the aim of protecting other women from assault. Another prime example are the women of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). These women processed their separate emotions and used the energy of their anger to work to campaign against the atrocities of driving while intoxicated.
Once we understand the source and triggers of our anger, it can be such a formidable force. If that force is properly harnessed, the energy of anger can create great positive change for ourselves, others, and society at large. Today I want to spend some time thinking through five ways that anger can be expressed in a healthy and constructive manner.
1. Anger should be properly directed outward toward the perpetrator rather than inward toward the self. The verbalized concerns must be actual, immediate and specific harms and transgressions, rather than consequences to a second or third degree.
2. When anger is differentiated from our other emotions, such as sadness, fear or guilt, it allows the person to fully and honestly access its motivational power.
3. Using assertive communication to express your experience, rather than using passive, aggressive or indirect language and behaviors. An example may be using “I statements,” as well as being careful not to insult, attack, or complain about the other. Using negative communication never sends an edifying message, but tends to express disrespect and usually further alienates the two parties.
4. Gauging and controlling the intensity of response to properly match the situation. Express the proper level of anger that will send a clear message of assertion. Examples of inappropriate anger intensity include rage that is overwhelming or disimpassioned anger that lacks conviction or energy.
5. Continue to search for the meaning of the anger. Consider the emotion as a signal that something deeper is going on – dig in, explore it, know it, and use it to change your world!
Below you will find a video that portrays how a person (or cartoon owl in this case) can harness the power of his anger (with the help of a loved one) to protect himself and his friend.
Anger is such a powerful and raw emotion. According to psychologist Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence, he describes anger causes blood to flow to our extremities, making it easier for humans to strike out and run. Our heart rate speeds up and we experience a rush of hormones that create a surge of energy strong enough to jump into fight and protect mode. Anger is the human’s natural protective impulse.
According to Paul Ekman’s research, anger is one of the six “basic emotions” identified in the Atlas of Emotions along with disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise. Anger is felt by everyone at one point or another and it’s completely valid as its own emotion.
However, there are times when other emotions are spurring the anger. Anger is both a primary, basic emotion, as well as a secondary emotions that we use to protect the hurtful, raw primary feelings beneath it. For example, Richard believed he had an anger problem. When his wife makes a request of him, he immediately criticizes her. He does not like his reaction, but he can’t seem to help it.
As he worked on investigating the source of his anger, he began to notice there was “a space between” his anger and his actions. He came to the profound realization that underneath his anger was pure exhaustion and a feeling that he wasn’t good enough for his wife. So his anger was formed to protect him from disappointment with himself, as well as protect him from the deeply painful shame and fear that he was not acting as the best husband and man he could be.
Richard didn’t have an anger problem, per say. Rather, he felt that his wife was placing impossibly high demands on him. By seeking to understand and accept his anger, rather than fix or suppress it, he began to improve his marriage by recognizing his anger as a signal for a need—a need to set healthy boundaries for what he could and could not do.
Learning to recognize anger as not only a basic, valid emotion, but also as a protector of our raw feelings, can be incredibly powerful. It can lead to healing conversations that allow couples, as well as children and parents, to understand each other better.
Below is what Gottman calls the Anger Iceberg. It shows other emotions and feelings that may lurk below the surface of anger. Sometimes it’s embarrassment, loneliness, depression, or fear. Other times, it’s a combination of several feelings.
The bottom line is that there is always motivating factor beneath anger. While this feeling is a valid emotion on its own, remember that anger can also indicate other emotions that need to be addressed or validated. Happy soul searching!
This article is a summarized re-post of The Anger Iceberg from the Gottman Institute blog - https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-anger-iceberg/.
Hi! I'm Dr. Linda Abdelsayed. These are just some articles I've created on various life topics. Hope you find them helpful! Check me out on the About and Contact tabs above!