Why Begin Counseling?

There use to be a stigma associated with psychotherapy and counseling which is still present to some degree- however, I've noticed a general change in people's attitudes towards it. In the past, people assumed that if you went to counseling, there was something wrong with you. 

If we go to couples counseling, it means our relationship is bad.
Counseling is only for people with big/ real problems.
My partner needs counseling, I don't.
tc Etc...


Currently, I have noticed a shift in people's perceptions. This of course may be biased due to a couple factors like who I spend the majority of my personal and professional time with, where I live, and the fact that I may just really want to believe people's opinions are changing. Nevertheless, I hear more and more people beginning to say: 

There are some things about myself I want to change.
I want to fix this about myself so I don't continue repeating this negative pattern.
I want to understand why I feel this way about _____ (relationships, family, myself)

I perceive someone's desire to grow, develop, heal, learn, understand and accept as one of the most ideal characteristics to have. To not accept mediocrity, pain, sadness, loneliness, poor self-esteem- and instead feel inclined to thrive and find wholeness. 

Coming to counseling doesn't mean you are weak or broken. It means you are tired of feeling or thinking in a given way and you're ready for a change. That is something to be proud of- not embarrassed. 

What do you want to change? How do you want to grow? What do you want to learn? What will it take you for you to feel whole?

Practicing Authenticity

Over the next several months, I will be posting some guideposts taken from Brene Brown's book, The Gifts or Imperfection. I definitely suggest buying and reading the book for yourself but in the meantime- her guides are very helpful at jumpstarting your journey to live wholeheartedly. 

The wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and thinking, No matter what gets done and ow much if left undone, I am enough. It's going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. 

Cultivating Authenticity: Letting go of what people think
According to Brown, authenticity is a conscious choice or practice to be present, real, honest and to let your true self be seen- imperfections included. 

In other words, letting go of who we think we're suppose to be and embracing who we are. 

Being authentic isn't always easy to do especially when there's fear of vulnerability. Maybe you've learned through past experience that when you open yourself up, you run the risk being hurt by way of rejection or criticism- resulting in you throwing up a wall of protection. 

Authenticity takes courage and some risk but at the end of the day, sacrificing your true self isn't worth it. 

How to start practicing authenticity
1. Define your values – what is important to you and why? Do you value something because you were told to when you were young? Take other people and their expectations out of your head and reevaluate what your truth is.
2. Stop thinking your goal is acceptance.
3. Start believing that it's okay to be vulnerable- Often times we think about the risk associated with vulnerability rather than the benefit.
. Stay and act in a way that's true to yourself. 

Remember that to live authentically means to practice daily. If you find yourself running intro trouble, counseling is a wonderful way to become more acquainted with your authentic self. In this world, sometimes we don't get enough opportunities to act in a vulnerable, open way for a variety of other reasons. Counseling however, can provide a safe space to practice wholehearted and authentic living. 

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming more authentic or open, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns in regards to this post or to begin counseling. 

Similar Posts (Here, & Here)

Stress Responses

The last post I mentioned The Model Health Show: Nutrition | Exercise | Fitness | Health | Life – Podcast. Specifically, the episode with Dr. Lissa Rankin, physician and writer of the Mind Over Medicine. 

This week's post is inspired by another topic Dr. Rankin and the podcast's host, spoke about – triggered stress responses. 

Our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is made of two other systems"

Parasympathetic (PNS): Rest, digest, feed or breed response
Sympathetic (SNS): fight, flight, freeze response

Your limbic brain can't tell the difference between a tiger chasing you and having a negative thought or feeling. When we feel that stress response- that initiates the activation of the SNS. 

In most people, the SNS is dominant and can be triggered 50+ times a day leading to many chronic health issues. If you refer to the infographic below, you can see some of the consequences of long term stress - like high blood pressure, inflammation, aging and cancer. 

Relaxing the nervous system is so important for your health and life satisfaction. You can refer to other posts (herehere, and here) about mindfullness and relaxing your body/mind through different exercises. 

I use several different methods in counseling sessions to help clients reduce stress, anxiety and worry. Here is one you can do anywhere, anytime. Its called the 4-7-8 breathing technique

reathe in for 4 seconds
Hold in for 7 seconds
Slowly exhale for 8 seconds

You can repeat this exercise as many times as needed: until you feel your body and mind relax.

If you suffer from stress, counseling and mindfulness are great ways to guide you into lowering the activation of your SNS. Sometimes all it takes are simple exercises like the one above to reduce the worry and negative thoughts. 

Mind Over Medicine

The other day I was listening to The Model Health Show: Nutrition | Exercise | Fitness | Health | Life – a podcast that discusses all the aforementioned topics. This specific episode had an interview with Dr. Lissa Rankin, physician and writer of the Mind Over Medicine, a book that discusses the mind's ability to heal the body. In other words, the book is all about mind over matter and just how you can harness that ability to heal yourself physically and emotionally. 

I absolutely encourage you to listen to the podcast but if you don't have the time- here is one topic they hit on

The Placebo Effect

Did you know that 80% of patients who receive a placebo pill rather than the actual pharmaceutical have the same symptom relief? 

Research shows that as long as patients have positive belief + nurture and care, their body will begin to heal itself even in cases involving incurable diseases. 

Now what does this have to do with counseling? 

First, it shows the power of the mind. When you open your mind to the belief that you can feel better, you can heal, you can become that person you have always wanted to- that in and of itself can be a catalyst for change. 

I have seen many times, people who begin counseling with a small sliver of hope that things can change for the better. That little bit of positive belief combined with what therapy provides, space and support for the client, can lead to extraordinary emotional growth. As counseling continues, the positive beliefs become magnified leading to even more progress. 

Our perception is reality; if you believe you can feel happier and more complete, chances are you will. 

Stay tuned for another post inspired by this podcast.

Wholehearted Living: Courage

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown writes about living wholeheartedly, which it to say; living with purpose, love and worthiness.

"Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much if left undone, I am enough. It's going to bed at night thinking, Yes I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging."

That may sound simple to some; to live in the most authentic way possible, not fearing consequences from being vulnerable or flawed. But for many this is challenging.


Courage to be vulnerable is hard to muster when you have a voice inside your head telling you it isn't safe. Maybe you've had past experiences that conditioned you to not ask for help or admit you have an issue. Maybe you've been shut down when you asked for help before.

A lot of individuals and couples before coming into counseling have this thought:

I am strong enough to fix my problems on my own.
OR
We are strong enough to fix our own problems.


But what is strength? To be fair, strength encompasses a lot of areas but one thing is for sure- being strong doesn't mean you don't have problems. Strength doesn't equal not asking others for help. In my opinion, its quite the opposite. Instead, I look at people who ask for help some of the strongest around. It takes courage to admit you aren't okay and that you have areas to grow in.

The counseling process isn't always easy to begin and there's a ton of reasons why people put it off (money, time, fear, ego etc etc). But if in this life you aren't looking for the path of least resistance and instead hoping for a fulfilled one, counseling is one great way to begin the journey in becoming your authentic, wholehearted self.

Relationships After Valentine's

Valentine's Day can be looked at many different ways. Some say it's a made up holiday, endorsed by the likes of flower, chocolate and card companies. Others see it as an opportunity to set aside a day of love, affection and attention.

Regardless of your Valentine's day beliefs; whether you engaged in all the stereotypical behaviors or ignored it completely, you can't help but think about love and intimacy during this time of year. 

With that in mind, I wanted to share some past posts about relationships to keep the passion and love alive even after the holiday. 

The Magic Ratio for Relationships

5 tips for Happy Relationship

Why Sex is Good for your Health

Quick Tips to Improve Your Sex Life

Externalizing Problems

“The bottom line is, you'll never be free of problems until you are free from the part within that has so many problems” - Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul

I often use the technique of Externalizing the Problem in counseling sessions and in doing so, I see many clients begin to take hold of their own reality. Changing the way you look at problems and how you speak about them can free you from their power over you.

Sometimes we get so caught up and lost in our problems that we actually become them. We internalize the issues by telling ourselves that we have a problem/ we are the problem. 

I am jealous
I am anxious
I am depressed

Instead of using this language, begin asking yourself, “What part of me is having a problem?” You can externalize the problem from your self by simply changing the semantics.

I am feeling jealousy
I am feeling anxious
I am feeling depressed

Once you start to separate yourself from the problem, you can look at the issue as temporary and non-attributional. Not being lost in your own problem can relieve you of so much energy spent worrying or feeling anxious. 

Whether you are in counseling or not, you can begin practicing this technique. When you feel yourself becoming trapped by problems, fear, or anxiety- remind yourself that you're in control of your reactions, perceptions and that you have the power to be the author of your own reality. 

Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

I'm guilty of saying this pretty often in my personal life, during counseling sessions and while instructing fitness classes. I express it so much because it is such a strong statement about change and growth. Take for instance what happens when you are exercising. In order to get the results you want, whether it's being faster, stronger or leaner, you have to push yourself to that point of becoming really uncomfortable within your body. You have to let those muscles shake. You have to almost want to quit but not- that's progress. Otherwise if you never push yourself past that limit, you won't necessarily find the change you are looking for.


The same rings true for counseling and personal development. When you're in counseling, chances are you are going to talk about difficult and challenging topics. It would be a waste of time and money to simply discuss what is easy to. Instead, you talk about what makes you sad, angry, frustrated, stressed, etc in order to gain awareness and insight into your self. You keep pushing your limits until you begin to grow mentally and emotionally stronger.

The point, the threshold in which you leave your comfort zone can lead to wonderful things. You can:  

Develop mental toughness
Reduce fear of failure
Keep things interesting
Learn about yourself
Strengthen motivation and will power
Eliminate ego
Increase self-esteem and confidence

In what ways can you challenge yourself?
Is there anything you want to learn or overcome?
What has been standing in your way?

The answer to the last question is usually yourself, Challenging yourself can be scary at first. The fear of failure is a very real thing that gets in the way many times. But honestly, what's the worst that can happen? So you don't succeed the first time- you always can try again. Every “failure”is an opportunity to learn and grow.

So next time you feel uncomfortable, instead of avoiding or shying away from it, embrace it. Take the opportunity to expand yourself and your limits.  

Happiness Advantage Part IV

What happens in the aftermath of a crisis?

There are 3 potientals:

No change: you are no worse after the negative event, instead you are stuck where you started
Negative change: you are propelled into more negativity after the crisis
Positive change: you become strengthened after the crisis

Post Traumatic Growth or Adversarial Growth: What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. 
This can be seen in many groups of people but take for instance breast cancer survivors. After defeating cancer, most survivors report an increased sense of strength, compassion, spirituality, and life satisfaction.

According to the researchers who study this phenomena, “it appears that it is not the type of event per se that influences postraumatic growth, but rather the subjective experience of the event. In other words, the people who can most successfully get themselves up off the mat are those who define themselves not by what has happened to them, but by what they can make out of what has happened. These are the people who actually use adversity to find the path forward. They speak not just of bouncing back but of bouncing forward.” 


If you have experienced a hurtful event, or if you have come head to head with failure, it is possible for you to use it a fuel. 

How we choose to explain the nature of past events has crucial impact on our happiness and future success. People with [this] interpret adversity as being local and temporary (It's not that bad, and it will get better) while those with pessimistic explanatory style see these events as more global and permanent (It's really bad, and it's never going to change). 

I think it's safe to say bad things have happened to all of us. Divorce, death, illness, tragedy occur, sometimes at a moment's notice, leaving us to feel sad, angry or hopeless. Can you think back to a particular negative moment or situation in your life? How did you handle it then? What were the long term effects of that event?

Did you learn a lesson from it? Or did it bury you?

 Crisis can be a catalyst for change and growth. Many people who first come in to counseling come because they are in crisis or feel like they've hit rock bottom. It's at this point that amazing things can happen. Please don't let setbacks keep you down, instead let adversity help you become happier, more motivated and more successful. 

Counseling can help  you turn your downs into upward momentum. For questions or help, please contact me. 

Making a Murderer: A Response

I think it's safe to say most everyone has heard or watched the Netflix 10 part documentary series following Steven Avery's case(s) in Manitowoc County. People who have watched all say the same thing; how angry and sad the story makes them. Personally, each episode gets harder and harder for me to watch especially knowing that both Steven and Brendan are still living out this nightmare.  
 

 

This entire series has me thinking about a couple things.  

                  Why do we feel so connected to this story?

                  How can we really help?


Feeling Connected

It's so easy to feel pulled in by this story because it appeal to us in every possible way; ethos, logos, pathos.  

Ethos: an appeal to ethics, character and credibility
Logos: an appeal to logic and reason
Pathos: an appeal to emotion


We know Steve & Brendan's cases have not been handled ethically, nor have Manitowoc's executive branch acted in {entirely} ethical or credible ways.  

Logically we can see what mistakes were made and who made them. We see the errors but haven't seen consequences placed on those who deserve it which leads to.....

EMOTIONAL REACTION. Our hearts hurt for this whole family. We can feel the unfairness and the injustices. We can feel or imagine what it might be like to actually live through this. Our mirror neurons have completely attached to what we see on screen; a misunderstood, undereducated family doing everything they can to right this wrong.  


How to Help

It's hard for me personally to know how to help. I think that is the worst feeling of all; feeling a little hopeless and powerless. I can sign petitions, refresh reddit a million times a day but it's not enough.  

That brings me to why I'm writing this post.  

I'm urging you to think about how you can help another individual(s) who needs it however big or small. I think it's time that we start supporting each other more. Not just supporting your friends or family, but those outside your bubble. I know this doesn't fix what is happening to the Avery's but it adds positivity to the planet.  

If you know someone who needs lower cost Counseling, I have opened up several sliding scale spots. Also, Capital Area Counseling is an amazing resource here in Austin offering counseling sessions from $10 to $55. Please contact me for details.

How Food Affects Your Brain

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Sometimes we forget that food is not just something to nourish our bodies and give us energy, but is also vital for brain function. When we are not eating nutritiously, our brain is missing out on sources of vitamins and proteins that improve our cognition, memory and many other neural functions. 

Below is a link to a video displaying psychiatrist Dr. Drew Ramsey talking about how poor nutrition can lead to certain ailments such as depression and anxiety. 

Video


For example, countries in which fish (Omega-3's) is a main source of protein (Japan, Korea) show far less cases of major depressive disorder as compared to countries with low fish consumption (West Germany, United States). 

Other foods to eat: 

 

  • Dark leafy green and cruciferous vegetables
  • Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, grass fed butter
  • Curry (Tumeric) 
  • Berries

Happiness Advantage Part III

The Tetris Effect: Training your Brain to Capitalize on Possibility

A study conducted at Harvard Medical School had 27 participants to play Tetris for multiple hours, three days in a row. When the study was concluded something interesting happened; the students could not stop dreaming nor invisioning shapes. Shawn Achor writes, “some participants literally couldn't stop dreaming about shapes falling from the sy. Others couldn't stop seeing these shapes everywhere, even in their waking hours. Quite simply, they couldn't stop seeing the worlds as being made up of sequences of Tetris blocks.”  

It is the idea that our mind thinks in patterns. When we are forced to focus on something for a somewhat significant amount of time, our brain becomes accustomed and rewired to do so. 

What does this have to do with the Happiness Advantage? Some people through one way or another, have become wired to focus on the negativity. They scan the world and see what is wrong with it rather than what is right. This is the person who goes on a vacation to a beautiful part of the world and complains that it rained for a couple days or that the food was not up to par. If students' brains can rewire in a couple days of playing tetris, what is to be said of people who have been training their brain to focus on the problems, the negative for most of their lives?  

Negative Tetris Effect: “A cognitive pattern that decreases our overall success rates”

The good news is that our brains are resilient and can be retrained. It does take practice but still, quite possible to break the habit of looking for the bad and missing out on the good.  

Inattentional Blindness: “Our frequent inability to see what is often right in front of us if we're not directly focusing on it."

  • Gorilla Study: 200 Particpants were asked to watch a video of two basketball teams passing around the ball. Twenty five seconds into the video, a person wearing a gorilla suite walks from the right of the screen (crossing the teams passing the ball) all the way to the left in about 5 seconds. If you were watching the video, do you think you would have noticed? 


46 percent of the 200 people did not see the gorilla. After the experiment, some of the participants refused to believe they could possibly miss such a thing. But in fact, they did. 

The lesson here is: when tend to not see what we are not looking for. The reverse is also true. When we are looking for something, we see it everywhere! This self-fulling prophecy is noticeable when we find a new car we want. Are you looking at getting a new Fiat? Its likely that if you are, you are going to notice a substantial increase of Fiats on the road. 


Positive Tetris effect: “Instead of creating a cognitive pattern that looks for negatives and blocks success, it trains our brains to scan the world for opportunities and ideas that allow our success to grow.” 

“Studies have shown that consistenly grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, and less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely. And it's not that people are only grateful because they are happier, either' gratitude has proven to be a significant cause of positive outcomes.” 

Being optimistic means you tend to find the positivity in situations. Since your brain habitually does this, you will continue to expect such good events to occur. Thus, you will become more and more optimistic. (I am not talking about irrational optimism in which you think everything is perfect all the time but to have a realistic sense). 

Predictive encoding: “Priming yourself to expect a favorable outcome actually encodes your brain to recognize the outcome when it does in fact arise.” 

So I have discussed why it would be helpful to become more positive. But how do you break the negative Tetris effect?
 

  • Three Good Things: Make a daily list of good things in your job, your career, and your life. (Studies show that this works! Participants who wrote down three positive things every day for a week were found to be more happy for up to 6 months later). 
     
  • Positive Experience Journaling: write an entry about a positive experience for 20 minutes, 3 times a week.
     
  • Ritualize these practices! Make a set time and day when you can complete the tasks. The more you do it, the easier and more ingrained it becomes. 
     
  • Have your spouse, significant other, or friend do it with you. The more social support you have, the easier it becomes.  

Transcript of Happiness Video

I realize a lot of you are busy and don't have time to sit and watch the hour long video I posted. So to make it easier, I wrote up a summarized transcript of what Tal Ben Shahar discusses. 

Tal Ben Shahar, author of Happiness

Positive psychology is the science of happiness. 

  1. Permission to be human: don't think happiness means not experiencing painful emotions. The only people who don't experience these are psychopaths and the deceased. Allow yourself to feel all emotions, positive and negative. The idea is, you can't block only painful emotions. If you do, you end up suppressing emotions such as joy, happiness and love. Also, when you try to suppress negative emotions, they end up magnifying. Think about how difficult it is to not think of a pink elephant when someone tells you not to. It is the same principle with emotions. By trying to not feel sadness or jealousy, the feeling will intensify.
     
    1. Unconditional acceptance (for yourself and others): when we accept painful emotions, they weaken. This is active acceptance. Feel the emotion, then chose to change it's course. It is okay to have fear, but don't let that control you. Accept that you feel fear and work to overcome it.  
       
  2. Dealing with stress: when we have too much to do, we feel stressed which overtime can lead to depression. (14 is now the average age of depression). Stress causes our immune system to weaken and reduces our ability to be create.  
     
    1. Simplify: does less rather than more. It is difficult to truly enjoy yourself in the present, when you are too busy. Quality over quantity. Think about your favorite song. Now you second favorite. Play them together. It becomes noise instead of two pieces of music you love.  
       
    2. Reduce multitasking: have time to savor and enjoy your family and friends (number one predictor of well-being). Your biggest source of happiness are the people whom you love being around.  
       
    3. Stress itself is not the problem. The issue is when there is a lack of recovery. People who are happy and successful don't live life without stress. They have rituals that help them recover from the stress:
       
      1. Microlevel Breaks- 15 minute breaks during one hour of work.  
         
      2. Mezzolevel Breaks- good night sleep, taking a day off during the week
         
      3. Macrolevel Breaks- vacations (without laptop, emails, work calls)  
         
      4. “I can do the work of a year in 9 months but not in 12” - J.P. Morgan
         
  3. Mind Body Connection: we need to start taking exercise seriously as a psychiatric intervention because it works both in the present, and in the long term. Humans were not made to be sedentary, we were made to move. Our ancestors use to walk 8 miles a day. Now how much do we walk? Exercise raises our level of well-being to how it ought to be.  
     
    1. Exercise changes the formation and structures in our brain. It reduces violence and increases cognitive performance.  
       
    2. Elderly people who decide to just start exercising for 45 minutes, 4 or 5 days a week slow cognitive decline by 10 to 15 years and can cut alzheimer's incidence by 50 %.
       
  4. Mindfulness  Meditation: Takes many forms including yoga, mantra, prayer, sitting meditation etc etc. All meditation includes components of: One-pointedness: focusing on one thing, Deep Breathing: belly/ diaphragm breathing, No good or bad mediation: permission to be human. If you lose concentration, bring it back to focus.  
     
    1. People who have been meditating for years: Have an extremely larger left (happier) to right (depressed) activation prefrontal cortex ratio. This results in a susceptibility to feel positive emotions and a resiliency to not feel negativity.  
       
    2. Meditating for 15 minutes a day decreases levels of anxiety, increased mood, improves your immune system and (after 8 weeks) will change your brain's prefrontal activation  
       
    3. RELAXATION RESPONSE: TAKE THREE DEEP BREATHES TO REVERSE YOUR FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSE.
       
  5. Focus on the Positive: many times we forget to appreciate the treasures we have. Be grateful and increase the value you place on the positive. When we do not appreciate the good in our life, it looses value.  
     
    1. Every night before you go to sleep: write down 5 things you are grateful for. Studies show if you do this, your benevolent nature, health, and happiness will increase. (Don't write the same things over and over)  
       
    2. You can also do this about your partner. It teaches you to focus on the good and in turn, increases your gratitude. 

7 Healthy Morning Habits

I found this article written by Krista Butler about starting your day off right. A lot of times our day can be thrown off when we wake up feeling completely rushed. We wake up in a hurry, down some caffeine, then head out the door to sit in rush hour traffic. Instead of having these types of mornings, wake up a little earlier than normal (even if that means going to sleep early) and try to implement these 7 habits.

1. Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up. If you want extra digestive benefit, drink it hot and with lemon. 

2. Go without email and social media for an hour. (Probably one of the most difficult points on the list but it will help you center yourself) 

3. Think about what you are grateful for. 

4. Go outside and relax while enjoying your morning coffee or tea.

5. Find some movement whether it is stretching, walking your dog or watering the garden. We get stiff when we sleep so getting the blood and oxygen pumping to the muscles will help wake up your body and mind. 

6. Eat (or drink) breakfast. If you like a big breakfast, go for it. Or if you rather have a smoothie, that's okay too. Find what works best for you and your body. 

7. Say your affirmations. What makes you happy to be you? Start your day off with positive thoughts about yourself. (I know this sounds corny but just try it) 

Girls & Body Image

There is no secret that body image is a big issue for men, women, girls and boys. Unfortunately, the age at which negative body image is present is getting younger and younger. Take a look at the below info graphic for more information. 

If you are suffering from poor body image, anorexia, bulimia, or even orthorexia- one important thing to realize is that your picture of ideal is usually not very realistic. By that I mean that from young ages, girls and boys begin to see models and celebrities believe that is what is perfect or beautiful. But what we do not take into account is how photo shopped these images can be. To put this in perspective, watch this video on how a seemingly average looking female can become the model-perfect image that so many people try to become. 

9 Signs You Have a Healthy Relationship

I saw this article today and thought I would share it. I am posting the article exactly how it was written by Mind Body Green writer, Jenn Scalia since she writes in perfectly to the point. 

Here are 9 signs that you're in a healthy relationship:

1. There's peace in your relationship and your home.

Your relationship should be your rock. It should be where you seek comfort, peace and the freedom to be completely you. If you find yourself repeatedly feeling anxiety or stress at home, or like you're walking on egg shells around your partner, it may be a red flag that something is not right.

2. You're encouraged to be independent and grow.

It's crucial that in a relationship, each person has their separate friends, dreams, hopes and desires. You partner should not feel as if they need total control over you and vice versa, or like you need to do everything together. In addition, there should be encouragement and support on all levels.

3. Unquestionable, undeniable respect is shared between both partners.

You not only have respect for your partner, but you have respect for the relationship and everything you do is in line with that. You respect the other person's values and dreams. During conflicts, you avoid name-calling; you seek to understand rather than "win" a fight.

4. Intimacy goes beyond the bedroom.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that chemistry in the bedroom is the end-all be-all of a relationship. Go beyond that and you are sure to create something that lasts. There are many other ways to connect with your partner on even deeper levels — spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. Having the right combination of all of these will lead to a successful partnership.

5. You're not constantly worried about what your partner is (or is not) doing.

When you're in a healthy relationship, you're not busy worrying about what your partner is doing, if they're cheating on your, if they love you, or where you stand with them. You're too busy creating a life and having adventures together to fret about whether or not your connection is valid.

6. You discuss issues with your partner, not your best friends.

I see so many relationships spiral downward because of miscommunication, or worse — no communication. If something is wrong in your relationship, it's your right to be able to approach your partner with your concerns and feelings. Instead of complaining to your friends, talk about it with your partner and attempt to fix what's bothering you.

7. You can see yourself with that person 30 years in the future.

Most people get into a relationship and see the future as just a few years down the road. Maybe getting married and having kids within a five-year span (sometimes less). Looking past the immediate future can really give you insight into whether this is the person you want to be in your life forever. Look ahead to when your children are grown, you've gotten gray or bald, and gained a few pounds. If you can't visualize a life with this person long-term, then it may be time to reevaluate.

8. You're not trying to change your partner and vice versa.

The biggest mistake people make when getting into relationships is to think that they can change their partner or worse, fix them. You must love that person unconditionally, as they are, how they are. Ask yourself if you can be with this person long term if they never, ever change. Puts things into quite a different perspective.

9. You get over things easily.

No relationship or person is perfect. No partnership is all rainbows and butterflies. There will be arguments, disagreements and disappointments. The key here is that you can work together to solve the problem. We all make mistakes, so have some compassion when your partner messes up and remember when you did. If you can resolve issues and move forward in your relationship, then you're on the right track!

Sitting the Day Away

I assume that most of us realize how bad it is to sit all day long. Leading a sedentary lifestyle in which you work at a sitting desk for 8+ hours a day, only to go home and sit some more while watching television can be bad for your health in many, many ways.

 Here is an infographic on just why sitting all day is very bad for you. 

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay

It seems like many people I talk to have been in a relationship that sounds something like this: You got together and really enjoyed each other's company. However, as time continues you start to feel less and less satisfied with the relationship. Either the two of you don't see eye to eye on the big issues (marriage, children, what it means to be in a relationship) or maybe you simply don't feel like they are the right one.  

That all being said, we as humans hate change. Change scares us. It scares us to the point that we rather be less than 100 percent satisfied with the person we're with than change the situation or become alone.  

These relationships are called ambibilivant relationships and if you find yourself in one, I suggest reading the book, Too good to leave, too bad to stay by Mira Kirshenbaum. The book is less about giving advice and more about asking you questions to consider, should I stay or leave?  


Below is a 35 question quiz presented in the book. Go through the questions and think deeply about your answers. By the end, you may find some answers.  


1. Thinking about that time when things between you and your partner were at their best. Looking back, would you now say that things were really very good between you then?

2. Has there been more that one incident of physical violence in your relationship?

3. Have you already made a concrete commitment to pursue a course of action or lifestyle that definitely excludes your partner?

4. If God or some omniscient being said it was okay to leave, would you feel tremendously relieved and have a strong sense that finally you could end your relationship?

5. In spite of your problems, do you and your partner have even one positively pleasurable activity or interest (besides children) that you currently share and look forward to sharing in the future, something you do together that you both like and that gives both of you a feeling of closeness for awhile?

6. Would you say that to you, your partner is basically nice, reasonable intelligent, not too neurotic, okay to look at, and most of the time smells alright?

7. Does you partner bombard you with difficulties when you try to get even the littlest thing you want; and is it your experience that almost any need you have gets obliterated; and if you ever do get what you want, is getting it such and ordeal that you don’t feel it was worth the effort?

8. Does it seem to you that your partner generally and consistently blocks your attempts to bring up topics or raise questions, particularly about things you care about?

9. Have you got to the point, when your partner says something, that you usually feel it’s more likely that he’s lying than that he’s telling the truth?

10. In spite of admirable qualities, and stepping back from any temporary anger or disappointment, do you genuinely like your partner, and does your partner seem to like you?

11. Do you feel willing to give your partner more than you’re giving already, and are you willing to do this the way things are between you now, without any expectation of being paid back?

12. Do both you and your partner want to touch each other and look forward to touching each other and make efforts to touch each other?

13. Do you feel a unique sexual attraction to your partner?

14. Does your partner neither see nor admit things you’ve tried to tell him/her to acknowledge that make your relationship too bad to stay in?

15. Is there something your partner does that makes your relationship too bad to stay in and that s/he acknowledges but that, for all intents and purposes, s/he’s unwilling to do anything about?

16. This problem your partner has that makes you want to leave; have you tried to let it go, ignore it, stop letting it bother you? And were you successful?

17. As you think about your partner’s problem that makes your relationship too bad to stay in, does s/he acknowledge it and is s/he willing to do something about it and is s/he able to change ?

18 &19. Has your partner violated what for you is a bottom line?

* If my partner did......................................................................................... ...then I’d feel I’d have to leave the relationship

* If my partner didn’t do.................................................................................then I’d feel I’d have to leave the relationship

 

 

  • If these things were true about my partner..........................................then I’d feel I’d have to leave the relationship
     
20. Is there a clearly formulated, passionately held difference between you that has to do with the shape and texture and quality of your life as you actually experience it?

21. In spite of all the ways you’re different, would you say that deep down or in some respect that’s important to you, your partner is someone just like you in a way you feel good about?

22. With your new, more complete, more realistic set of information about what it would be like for you if you left, have you discovered new, more probable realities that now make leaving seem impossible, difficult or unpleasant?




23. With your new, more complete, more realistic set of information about what it would be like for you if you left, have you discovered new, more probable realities that now make leaving seem easier, more attractive and make staying no longer desirable?

24. Does your partner do such a good job of conveying the idea that you’re a nut or a jerk or a loser or an idiot about parts of yourself that are important to you that you’ve started to really become demonstrably convinced of it yourself?

25. As you think about your partner’s disrespect, is it clear to you that you do everything possible to limit your contact with your partner, except for times where you absolutely must interact?

26. Do you feel that your partner, overall and more often than not, shows concrete support for and genuine interest in the things you’re trying to do that are important to you?

27. Whatever was done that caused hurt and betrayal, do you have a sense that the pain and damage has lessened with time?

28. Is there a demonstrated capacity and mechanism for genuine forgiveness in your relationship?

29. Is it likely that, if you have a reasonable need, you and your partner will be able to work out a way for you to get it met without too painful a struggle?

30. Is there some particular need that’s so important to you that if you don’t get it met, looking back you’ll say your life wasn’t satisfying, and are you starting to get discouraged about ever having it met?

31. Given the way your partner acts, does it feel as though in getting close to you what he’s most interested in is subjecting you to his anger and criticism?

32. When the subject of intimacy comes up between you and your partner, is there generally a battle over what intimacy is and how to get it?

33. Does your relationship support your having fun together?

34. Do you currently share goals and dreams for your life together?

35. If all the problems in your relationship were magically solved today, would you still feel ambivalent about whether to stay or leave?

Happiness Advantage Part II

Changing your performance by changing your mindset  

It had been long thought that reality was objective and fixed. That, there is an absolute truth. We now know however, that reality is subjective and dependent on the observer. In other words, reality is determined by an individual's perception and mindset.  

The mental construction of our daily activities, more than the activity itself, defines our reality.” 


Take for example one research study conducted in Japan. A blind folded group of students were told that one of their arms was being rubbed with poison ivy. Although the researches were actual rubbing them with a harmless plant, the group of students all started to exhibit symptoms of poison ivy. Itching, red, blotchy and boils were felt and seen on the arms.  

Contrastingly, another group of blind folded students were told that they were being rubbed by a harmless plant when in fact, they were being rubbed with the ivy. However, only 2 out of the 13 felt the symptoms. The other 11 did feel any itching nor did they have any redness or blotching.  


This suggests that what we believe, our perception (mindset) of an event, is what determines the reality. 

Our brain only has so much power to process the infinite amount of signals it receives in a given moment. In order to be as efficient as possible our brain starts to only pay attention to certain information, usually what it has been patterned to tend to.  

 

 

  • Expectation Theory: our expectations create brain patterns that can be just as real as those created by actual events. 
                             So we if expect to fail, often times we will fail. 
                     When we believe we will succeed, many times we do. 

What is the take home message? You must first believe in your ability to succeed. Doing so, research has found, has a bigger impact on how much effort you put towards the goal. How can you put all your effort into something that you think will fail in the end?  

All this being said: Make a choice to shift your perspective...

 

 

  • Stop thinking that you can't
     
  • That there isn't enough time
     
  • Challenge your excuse
I indirectly blog about this principle all the time. Just because you are married or in a long term relationship, does not mean you have to fight all the time or that you have to stop desiring one another. If you are in your late 60's, does not mean that you can't start getting healthy.  

Consider this study that had a group of 75 year old men stay for a week at a retreat that in it, only contained items dating back 20 years. In other words, everything in the men's environment supported the idea that they were now 55 years old.  

Before the week began, the men took tests on everything from cholesterol levels to cognitive ability to bone density. What happened after a week of pretending to be 20 years younger? Afterwards they were tested again on all the measures and found to have levels similar to other 55 year olds. Pretending to be 55 for one week had such an effect on all the men that their vision improved, they had better short term memory, more muscle mass and they looked younger!
 


This is a challenge to start assuming that you can do anything you set your mind to.  

Staying Inspired

Sometimes we get in ruts. Things may become stale or just plan boring. This can often happen when you feel much of your time is being taken up by appointments, work and obligations. You can be stuck in the same routines at work or your day may feel less than exciting. In any case, here is a fun info graphic that presents 12 ways to stay inspired.