);
1-250-514-8459 tamara@posminds.com
Is There a Workout for Your Mental Wellness?

Is There a Workout for Your Mental Wellness?

For many years scientists believed that the brain stopped developing new neural pathways after the first few years of life. This meant that critical periods of development were from birth to 5 years of age and brains would only be plastic during youth. The new science of neuroplasticity has identified the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. This phenomenon explains to the brain’s ability to adjust and cope. F We’ve all heard the stories of the miraculous recovery of speech after a stroke where the speech center of the brain was entirely damaged- this is an example of neuroplasticity at work. Sometimes symptoms of disease and impairment can be entirely mitigated by the brains ability to reorganize using brain workouts or brain retraining. This is also true for anxiety. depression, and unhelpful stress. Where happiness is concerned the question of nature and nurture left us asking “how much of my happiness is up to me”? The latest positive psychology research is showing that as much as 40% of our experience of positive or negative is entirely up to our mental habits. What you focus on increases. If you are looking for negative, you will likely find it. So retraining your brain to see the positive makes sense!

Why does this matter?

Many people have limitations about themselves that they believe. Having a history of depression or mental illness in the family might previously have meant you were genetically predisposed for problems. The new research is showing that just isn’t true. If you’ve ever said or thought “I’m just not that smart” by adding the word YET and doing a little work you can maximize your brain’s capacity to learn and change and adapt. Do you need an app or screen to change your mindset or the amount of positive emotions you experience? Of course not! But at a time when technology is getting a tom of negative attention in the media, I love reminding people that technology is a tool. Like all things it can be used to help you feel worse or better. These apps all promote healthy mental growth by strengthening your mental muscle!   Check out these brain changing apps:

Luminosity

This memory app focuses on paying attention, problem solving, and flexibility of thinking. The constantly changing games are timed and competitive. Learn more about Luminosity

       

Jiyo

The Jiyo app connects to the Apple Health App to track your habits and suggest articles, videos and information designed to promote your greatest well-being. Ranging from meditation, finance, relationships and finding meaning and purpose the content helps identify and foster your unique strengths. Learn more about Jiyo

Happify

Happify translates the science of happiness into online activities that can be completed right from your phone or computer. With the advice of a variety of happiness experts, Happify has created a platform to engage in writing activities and games designed to increase happiness. Learn more about Happify

CogniFit Brain Fitness

Designed by neuroscientists this app begins by testing memory and concentration followed by games designed specifically to boost ultimate brain function. Learn more about CogniFit

Greater Good in Action

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley has developed a platform called Greater Good in Action to help people engage in science-based practices for a meaningful life. Based on the latest positive psychology research participants use simple activities to that enhance skills like that increase mental well-being like compassion and gratitude. Learn more about GGIA    

Super Better

Super Better has gamified brain training for happiness. Complete quests using activities designed to build happiness-boosting skills. Designed to hook you with quick wins to ignite your curiosity and keep you on the path to greater well-being.   Learn more about Super Better

Why Knowing Yourself Better Helps You to Thrive- The Science of Autology

Why Knowing Yourself Better Helps You to Thrive- The Science of Autology

What is the key to happiness? Although many believe a piece of cake brings happiness, it can also be true that happiness isn’t always a piece of cake! With over 40,000 books on the shelf written with the goal of helping you to be happier, it’s clear there is no magical one-size-fits-all happiness solution.

Each person has a unique happiness recipe. Imagine if I gave you the list of ingredients to make a chocolate cake without telling you the amount of each ingredient, the order to add them or how long to bake it.

This is where most how-to-be-happy books fall short. They give one single list of ingredients.

There’s a lot to being happy.

  • your thoughts
  • your sleep
  • your nutrition
  • your genetics
  • your circumstances
  • your mindset
  • your focus and determination
  • time & effort

Knowing about yourself (autology) will help tailor a recipe that you can bake. Some of us bake gourmet chocolate cakes while others prefer a simple box mix. Once you find a recipe that you like, it doesn’t matter where you learned it, just that you can bake it well.

Let’s learn about your personal happiness recipe:

The Ingredients

  1. Sleep– your body needs to be rested for the optimal mindset. The goal is to awaken on your own without an alarm feeling rested.
  2. Nutrition– the fuel you choose for your body and your mind matters. There is science that shows certain diets prime you for happiness. It’s also important to control the news you watch, the conversations you have and the time spent doing things that drain versus boost your energy.
  3. Habit Formation- the steps it takes to become happier require you to form new habits or get rid of habits. Knowing how you tend to create habits will help you to make a plan that you can actually implement. Insight without action doesn’t work. Try this habit formation quiz to learn your tendency. This will help you to stick your recipe.
  4. Practices- Positive Minds International uses seven different science-based domains. These are Positive Purpose, Positive Social Connection, Positive Presence, Positive Self-Knowledge, Positive Experience, Positive Mindfulness, Positive Gratitude. You can begin with this series of quizzes to see which areas you could use the most help with OR you may just have a gut feeling that one or two of these areas are most challenging. Check the chart below for a little clarity.

Positive Purpose– A strong sense of purpose or intention increases engagement and well-being.  If you are living a

purposeful life you have goals and actions to move toward them. If you aren’t clear on your purpose, check out this article and request the Purpose Finder worksheet.

Positive Social Connection– Friendship and connection through altruism matter. When we connect socially or give time, money or effort to help someone or something, we also receive benefit. Here are 2 quizzes from the Greater Good Science Center on social capital and altruism. Check out this blog too for questions to connect.

Positive Release– Release means letting go or forgiving. You probably know if you are challenged by letting go. Don’t worry if you are- it’s a common challenge! Check out this quiz from Psychologies.

Positive Self-Knowledge– I’m a total self-knowledge junkie so here’s a short list of my favorite online resources and quizzes to heighten your awareness of how you relate to others:

Habit Formation- 4 Tendencies

5 Love Languages

Enneagram

Meyers Briggs

Strengths Finder

VIA Character Strengths

Big 5

Positive Experience– This one can be the simplest place to begin. You have things that boost your mood. Anything from reading, walking on the beach, funny movies, travel, etc. Take time regularly to participate in a variety of experiences that feel joyful to you.

Positive Mindfulness– This includes both mindfulness and meditation. It can be anything you participate in that allows you to experience present moment awareness. Some love swimming or hiking, others choose prayer or meditation.

Positive Gratitude– Another simple one, gratitude practices can be taking time to acknowledge important people at home or at work. It can also include a gratitude journal. Don’t forget that gratitude includes both giving and receiving. If you think gratitude is a strength, try focusing on how you receive it. 

 

5. Time- be realistic and think about what you will actually be able to implement. Are you dedicating 5 minutes each day or the entire day Sunday? Are you able to commit to 15 minutes three times a day or a full week of 24/7 immersion? Planning practices that fit easily into your schedule is important. When you choose an area to target, maybe Gratitude or Mindfulness, choose a specific task like meditating 5 minutes twice a day or writing daily in a gratitude journal. Use your habit formation type to set yourself up for success. Get an accountability partner, build in rewards, and most importantly remember that a little is still better than none.

 

I’m curious to know more about people reading my blog. I know I’m an Upholder whose love language is TIME, I’m a 7 with 3 wing, I’m ENFJ, my top strengths are Woo and Ideation, my character strengths include creativity and love of learning. My big 5 put me at extreme ends of openness and extraversion and unusually low with neuroticism.

Comment and share yours. Let’s see what personalities are reading about positive psychology and happiness!

 

 

Why Self-Doubt Is Your Worst Enemy- Kick It to the Curb Today!

You think things are going well in your presentation, then you catch someone checking their phone, yawning, or not paying attention and you feel that panic well up in your gut. You lose focus and start to sweat. Your mind starts to go over all the things you are doing wrong. ” I should have worn the other shirt.  My other opening remarks really were stronger. I hate speaking in meetings. I knew I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, tall enough, young enough…” Lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities is self-doubt. It has killed more dreams than lack of skill ever has.

And unfortunately in today’s world where things are constantly changing, it’s easy to fall prey to that nasty little voice that says “You can’t”.

Here’s the only good thing about self-doubt. You made it, so you can fix it.

Six Consequences of Self-Doubt

1. Imposter phenomenon. This is when you attribute your success to something or someone else. Making statements like “I was just in the right place at the right time” or “My team really did all the work” downplays your role in a success.

The fix?

When you do something well, receive praise. It’s okay to say a simple thank you without downplaying your part.

2. Self-handicapping. This nasty consequence of your doubt results in your doing something that gives you an excuse if you fail. Also called self-sabotage it’s like going out drinking the night before a job interview. If you don’t get the job you can blame it on the hangover rather than risking failure when you performed your best.

The fix?

Stop seeing failure or mistakes as bad and start seeing them as part of the process. If you value lessons learned from mistakes as important steps to success you can start to see them as part of the process rather than roadblocks.

3. Procrastination. We all know what this one is. Putting off an important task because you fear the evaluation once it’s finished.

The fix?

The simplest way to overcome procrastination is to schedule. When you have an assignment immediatelly break it into manageable steps and add them to your calendar. Use rewards or an accountability partner if that helps keep you on task. What gets scheduled gets done.

4. Defense Pessimism. This is when you rehearse all of the worst possible outcomes in your head. Good news. Even though all the self-help gurus say “Your thoughts create your reality” this consequence is actually good for you.

Wait, what?

Positive Psychology research has shown that rehearsing the worst case scenario actually buffers you against a downward spiral when things go wrong.  The key is also rehearing what you will do if the worst case scenario comes true.You already thought that this might go wrong so you are prepared. You don’t panic because you had a plan B.

5. Subjective Overacheivment. This one doesn’t seem like a bad thing at first glance; it’s tremendously overdelivering consistantly. The problem here is burnout. Constantly overdelivering is exhausting. And once people at the office expect you to go above and beyond you have to raise the bar again to maintain overacheiver status.

The fix?

Be good. Deliver what was asked for on time. Make your goal be precision rather than perfection. Give them what they wanted not double or triple what they wanted. A tweet or a haiku are can be as profound as a news article or a Shakespearean sonnet.

6. Other enhancement. I think of this one as the blame game. Your failure is attributed not to your shortcomings or mistakes but to someone else’s good fortune. “I couldn’t compete with him, his Dad worked here for 30 years” or “He went to the same college as the hiring team so there was no way I can compete”

The fix?

Tell a different story. One that paints you as the winner, the successful one or the obvious choice. Instead of worrying about the advantages you don’t have, focus on the positive assets you do have.

A little self-doubt is normal. Chronic self-doubt is a career stopper. If you recognize any of the six traits above, you may need a little self-esteem boost.

Next week’s blog is all about enhancing self-esteem. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, I’d love to hear about how you kick self-doubt to the curb. Do you have a power position, an affirmation, or some special socks? Comment or share it on one of my social feeds.

 

 

 

 

KNOWING YOUR HABIT FORMATION TENDENCY HELPS TO INCREASE HAPPINESS

Prioritizing happiness is a worldwide phenomenon. Given reports like The World Happiness Index (Helliwell, 2012) and the emergence of the new field of Positive Psychology, the emphasis of personal well-being is broadening. When you ask any parent what they want for their child, happiness ranks near the top. Research has proven that practices focused on increased gratitude (Sheldon, 2004) and social connection (Cacioppo, 2008) positively impact self-reported life satisfaction. Effectively using these practices correlates to your ability to successfully form a habit. (Rubin, 2015) Pairing scientific happiness boosting practices with habit formation style will increase their efficacy and improve subjective well-being.

Gretchen Rubin has studied habit formation and discovered four distinct tendencies. To better understand her framework she explains that people have two types of expectations, inner and outer. Outer expectations include deadlines at work, assignments at school and showing up for your running group; they involve others. Inner expectations are keeping New Year’s resolutions, practicing meditation every morning or giving up carbs; these are personal choices. (Rubin, 2015) Research done by Sheldon & Lyubomirsky shows that having a gratitude practice decreases depression and anxiety and boosts an individual’s experiences of subjective well-being.(Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2004) Similarly research done by Cacioppo concluded that strong social connection was an indicator or self-reported well-being.(Cacioppo,2008)
Rubin found the majority of people were able to form habits well when they were outwardly accountable but were less effective at forming habits around inner expectations. She called this group Obligers.(Rubin, 2015) Since obligers need external accountability to form the habits of social connection and gratitude, the practice that would be most effective for their increased happiness would be a gratitude group. This would be a weekly meeting where a group of friends gather and share their daily moment or gratitude from a journal. Having the accountability to show up at a social meeting and to publicly reflect on their week of journaling would meet the requirements of habit formation to effectively boost happiness.
A smaller group are those who are equally good at forming habits around both inner and outer expectations. This group is called Upholders. (Rubin, 2015) Upholders don’t needs external accountability. Once they have a plan to increase social interaction and to practice gratitude, they will act. For this personality sector deciding to have lunch with a good friend every week or putting a daily gratitude thought in a jar in their office will be enough of a prompt to get the habits of gratitude and social connection formed.
A third group Rubin identified will only form habits or meet external expectation if they understand why. This group she calls Questioners. They like to research more than the average person and quite often their need for more and more information can lead to analysis paralysis; the inability move from research to action. (Rubin, 2015) For a questioner to start a gratitude or social connection practice they might prefer to read about successful ones on the website of a scientist who studies gratitude rather than taking the word of their yoga teacher. If they write out a few questions they want answered and make a plan to act once they have found the answers, it keeps them from getting stuck in the research phase.
Finally, there is a group that resists both inner and outer expectations Rubin refers to as Rebels. The rebels are the smallest category (Rubin, 2015). “Mastering habits is a particular challenge for Rebels, because of their general opposition to anything that feels like a chain or a pre-commitment.”(Rubin, 2017 How Does A Rebel Change pg 1) The most effective way for rebels to create change is by using the strategy of identity. This strategy works for rebels as they place ovalue greater than normal on being themselves. They need to define themselves by their new habit and then they are more likely to uphold it. To prioritize gratitude or social connection a rebel needs to define themselves as a grateful person or a very social person. This will encourage their continued action. Rebels also do best when they change their gratitude or social practice regularly so that it feels like choice.
To summarize, gratitude practices and social connection are paths to increased happiness. Knowing how individuals can best form these habits will help ensure success in implementing a strategy for increased gratitude or social connection, ultimately allowing individuals to flourish. Getting happier becomes easier when successful habits are paired with personalized action plans. By taking this simple online test to identify tendency then making an action plan that includes measureable metrics like frequency and duration happiness will increase.

References: Cacioppo, J. T., Hawkley, L. C., Kalil, A., Hughes, M. E., Waite, L., & Thisted, R. A. (2008). Happiness and the invisible threads of social connection. The science of subjective well-being, 195-219.
Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2012). World happiness report.
Rubin, G. (2015). Better than before: Mastering the habits of our everyday lives. Hachette UK.
Rubin, G (2017). How Does a Rebel Change. pg 1 https://gretchenrubin.com/2015/04/how-does-a-rebel-change-habits-one-rebels-clever-solutions
Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2004). Achieving sustainable new happiness: Prospects, practices, and prescriptions. Positive psychology in practice, 127-145.

KNOWING YOUR HABIT FORMATION TENDENCY HELPS TO INCREASE HAPPINESS

Prioritizing happiness is a worldwide phenomenon. Given reports like The World Happiness Index (Helliwell, 2012) and the emergence of the new field of Positive Psychology, the emphasis on personal well-being is broadening. When you ask any parent what they want for their child, happiness ranks near the top. Research has proven that practices focused on increased gratitude (Sheldon, 2004) and social connection (Cacioppo, 2008) positively impact self-reported life satisfaction. Effectively using these practices correlates to your ability to successfully form a habit. (Rubin, 2015) Pairing scientific happiness boosting practices with habit formation style will increase their efficacy and improve subjective well-being.
Gretchen Rubin has studied habit formation and discovered four distinct tendencies. To better understand her framework she explains that people have two types of expectations, inner and outer. Outer expectations include deadlines at work, assignments at school and showing up for your running group; they involve others. Inner expectations are keeping New Year’s resolutions, practicing meditation every morning or giving up carbs; these are personal choices. (Rubin, 2015) Research done by Sheldon & Lyubomirsky shows that having a gratitude practice decreases depression and anxiety and boosts an individual’s experiences of subjective well-being.(Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2004) Similarly, research done by Cacioppo concluded that strong social connection was an indicator or self-reported well-being.(Cacioppo,2008)
Rubin found the majority of people were able to form habits well when they were outwardly accountable but were less effective at forming habits around inner expectations. She called this group Obligers.(Rubin, 2015) Since obligers need external accountability to form the habits of social connection and gratitude, the practice that would be most effective for their increased happiness would be a gratitude group. This would be a weekly meeting where a group of friends gathers and share their daily moment or gratitude from a journal. Having the accountability to show up at a social meeting and to publicly reflect on their week of journaling would meet the requirements of habit formation to effectively boost happiness.
A smaller group are those who are equally good at forming habits around both inner and outer expectations. This group is called Upholders. (Rubin, 2015) Upholders don’t need external accountability. Once they have a plan to increase social interaction and to practice gratitude, they will act. For this personality sector deciding to have lunch with a good friend every week or putting a daily gratitude thought in a jar in their office will be enough of a prompt to get the habits of gratitude and social connection formed.
A third group Rubin identified will only form habits or meet the external expectation if they understand why. This group she calls Questioners. They like to research more than the average person and quite often their need for more and more information can lead to analysis paralysis; the inability move from research to action. (Rubin, 2015) For a questioner to start a gratitude or social connection practice they might prefer to read about successful ones on the website of a scientist who studies gratitude rather than taking the word of their yoga teacher. If they write out a few questions they want to be answered and make a plan to act once they have found the answers, it keeps them from getting stuck in the research phase.
Finally, there is a group that resists both inner and outer expectations Rubin refers to as Rebels. The rebels are the smallest category (Rubin, 2015). “Mastering habits is a particular challenge for Rebels, because of their general opposition to anything that feels like a chain or a pre-commitment.”(Rubin, 2017 How Does A Rebel Change pg 1) The most effective way for rebels to create change is by using the strategy of identity. This strategy works for rebels as they place value greater than normal on being themselves. They need to define themselves by their new habit and then they are more likely to uphold it. To prioritize gratitude or social connection a rebel needs to define themselves as a grateful person or a very social person. This will encourage their continued action. Rebels also do best when they change their gratitude or social practice regularly so that it feels like a choice.
To summarize, gratitude practices and social connection are paths to increased happiness. Knowing how individuals can best form these habits will help ensure success in implementing a strategy for increased gratitude or social connection, ultimately allowing individuals to flourish. Getting happier becomes easier when successful habits are paired with personalized action plans. By taking this simple online test to identify tendency then making an action plan that includes measurable metrics like frequency and duration happiness will increase.

References: Cacioppo, J. T., Hawkley, L. C., Kalil, A., Hughes, M. E., Waite, L., & Thisted, R. A. (2008). Happiness and the invisible threads of social connection. The science of subjective well-being, 195-219.
Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2012). World happiness report.
Rubin, G. (2015). Better than before: Mastering the habits of our everyday lives. Hachette UK.
Rubin, G (2017). How Does a Rebel Change. pg 1 https://gretchenrubin.com/2015/04/how-does-a-rebel-change-habits-one-rebels-clever-solutions
Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2004). Achieving sustainable new happiness: Prospects, practices, and prescriptions. Positive psychology in practice, 127-145.

HOW TO ESCAPE THE 5 MOST COMMON THINKING TRAPS

Often in our day to day lives, we use thought patterns that don’t serve us. Instead of empowering, they undermine.
Historically psychology dealt with fixing mental health problems like depression, anxiety or OCD.
If you think of the stereotypical glass half full, the goal was just to get your glass to the halfway mark, not to see the potential to fill the cup even more.
Positive psychology is exploring the previously uncharted territory of building emotional health. This means that after there is a stable mental health foundation, we can go beyond surviving to thriving with a few tweaks to the process of thinking. You can begin filling your own cup.
If you are like me, you probably do a pretty good job of this when things are going well, when you are energized, and when you feel in control. Here are three tips on how to keep resilient when you are feeling busy, out-of-control, or overwhelmed.

Know the Negative Thinking Traps
There are 5 negative thinking traps that you can easily fall into. Most of us have a predominant trap that resonates more with our own thought process.

1.Mind Reading
This is the belief that everyone thinks alike. You know how you think and therefore you think you know what people around you are thinking. The converse is also implied as true-others know your wants and needs without you having to tell them.

2. Me Thinking
A me thinker believes that when things o wrong it is their fault. They believe they are the root of the problem.

3. You Thinking
The you thinker believes that other people or circumstances are always at fault (these people have a large circle of others.

4. Catastrophic Thinkers
Catastrophic thinkers are always stuck in their heads. They have a tendency to anticipate the worst case scenario and they get stuck in anxiety as though their prophecies were a reality.

5. Helplessness
Helpless thinking would have you believe that there is nothing you can do to change a situation or to create a better outcome.

Use These 3 Techniques to Outwit Your PatternsWhen our patterns become problematic it is indicative that our thinking has become rigid. We see problems as insurmountable due to the lack of flexibility or resilience in our thinking.
The good news is that The mind can be stretched in the same ways as our bodies- with repeated action moving towards the desired outcome.

These real-time hacks from UPenn Resiliency Training will immediately increase your optimism leading to greater reliance as they become new thoughts patterns.

1. Use Evidence 

Disprove your negative thoughts by finishing this sentence:

“That’s not true because________________________.”

2. Reframe

Look from another angle using the sentence:

“A more helpful way to see this would be_____________________________.”

3. Plan

This one is especially useful for catastrophic thinkers:
“If _________________happens, I will ____________________.”

I’d love to hear from you- which type of thinking trap do you fall into most (for me it can be the MIND READING) and which techniques you think will help you. (I’m a fan of the reframe).

Thanks for reading and keep taking daily steps to keep yourself on the happiness trajectory!