Who Do You Want to Be in This World? Staying True to Your Values for Positive Mental Health. #WorthTheEffort

Personal-Values-Quote

Values?!!? What?

“Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to”. MindTools

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I know, yet another tough task I am throwing at you all for the sake of positive mental health. Staying true to your values can be a gruelling task especially when life throws all kinds of challenges and curve balls to test your ability to navigate and grow. But first, we really should figure out what those values are so that we have something to grab onto when the life boat feels like it’s sinking. Your values really guide your behaviour in life. Staying true to my values has been a positive influence in my life as well as making me, sometimes, seem like the “difficult” one in the group. Oh well, at the end of the storm, I am the one who is stuck with the thoughts in my head that haunt me and I want those to be “at least you didn’t cave and become someone you are not proud of”.

Also, an awareness of core personal values can help you to stay motivated, to stand up for your personal rights and help you to decide where you want to spend your time and energy.

So many benefits!

There is increasing recognition of the need to shift mental health policy and practice from the traditional emphasis on mental health problems to include the promotion of Positive Mental Health. A task force of psychologists and researchers in Scotland compiled some pretty great psychological science, distilled it down and conceptualized it into “8 Elements of Positive Mental Health.

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I am including the list of the eight elements because I think that the one value that most people should have is a commitment to consistently work on their mental health and wellbeing. Taking charge of their own life. The 8 elements can really be a guide for us to ask ourselves, “am I making time in my life to work on these?” and “are these 8 elements a priority in my life?”.

8 Elements of Positive Mental Health

  1. Emotional well-being
  2. Life satisfaction
  3. Optimism and Hope
  4. Self-esteem
  5. Resilience and Coping
  6. Spirituality
  7. Social functioning
  8. Emotional intelligence

More-Happy-Life-logo-for-websiteThese 8 elements are all areas where your values can reside. So set aside some time to squeeze in a little happy brain oriented “workouts” in your life, flex those mental muscles, and build some healthy and helpful neural pathways (Hardwiring Happiness).


Just a reminder that this post is part of a 10-part series designed to help you get out and do things that improve your mental health and wellbeing. #PsychoSocialMentalHealth


plugged brain

Series: 10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain

  1. Learn to Tolerate Ambiguity
  2. Be Open to New Information
  3. Learn to Reframe Adversity
  4. You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel
  5. Zone in on Your Purpose in Life
  6. Mastering Motivation a.k.a Setting a Fire Under Your Butt!
  7. Seek Out Peak Experiences and Give Your Brain a Little Party!
  8. Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life! Yes, Trix are for Kids, but a Growth Mindset is Not Just for Kids!
  9. Stop Tripping Up Your Life and Learn the Art of Balance.
  10. TODAY! Who do YOU want to be in this world? Staying True to Your Values for Positive Mental Health. #WorthTheEffort

Nerd BrainBig PsychNERD! Big!

Research in the area of personal core values and mental health is still getting started, but wow! is this ever an important area to keep on researching in. Here is a 2017 study, Realization of Personal Values Predicts Mental Health and Satisfaction with Life, that found some inspiring positive mental health connections and really great evidence showing that us humans really should spend some time thinking about our core personal values.

Living according to one’s personal values promotes mental health and satisfaction with life. This is what they found:

  • We humans tend to place more emphasis on conservative values (non-risk taking) than values representing self-transcendence, self-enhancement, and openness to change.
  • The researcher found that the realization of values (living your values) significantly predicts mental health and satisfaction with life. The realization of values indicating openness to change is especially associated with better mental health and higher satisfaction with life.

mind

Get out there and start opening your mind to new experiences!

If you want things to be different in your life, you need to do things differently.  The researchers suggested that the health-promoting effects of living value driven life are a thing, so,  by putting your values first and stepping up into a self-actualization frame-of-mind, rather than remaining stuck and conservative, can have mind altering life changing effects in your life.


Food for Thought

words

The Evolution of You.

Values are important to focus on.


So How Do I Do This?!?!

I hear you saying…

Try this approach….

Check it out7 Steps for Finding Your Core Personal Values

by Scott Jeffrey

During one of my internet adventures, where I became lost in the woods of “so much cool information!”, I came across this resource created by Scott Jeffrey, a business coach. I thought that this was a well developed and psychologically sound process, that was laid out in a straight forward manner, for people to embark on their own value exploring journey.

I have added a little outline to entice you to go an click on the full resource 🙂

  • STEP 1: Start with a Beginner’s Mind
  • STEP 2: Create Your List of Personal Values
    1. Peak Experiences
    2. Suppressed Values
    3. Code of Conduct
  • STEP 3: Chunk Your Personal Values into Related Groups
  • STEP 4: Highlight the Central Theme of Each Value Group
  • STEP 5: Determine Your Top Personal Core Values
  • STEP 6: Give Your Personal Values Richer Context
  • STEP 7: Test the Ecology of Each Value

Interested in living a mindfully value driven life that leads to a state of positive mental health and a life that maintains it?

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I thought you would say yes 😉 Check Out the “7-Steps” in Detail!


ted-talks-on-health

Who Are You? Unleashing Your Core Values.

with Jennifer Jones

pssst! Guess What? She’s Canadian!!!

Do you know who you really are, what you stand for and what is fundamental to your personal DNA? These are all questions that Jennifer will cover as part of a discussion about core values. Core Values are the guiding principles that dictate our behaviors and actions.


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Hygge

One of My Core Personal Values Descried Beautifully!

Hygge is the Danish and Norwegian word for a “mood of coziness and comfort, with feelings of wellness and contentment”. This is a cultural practice in Denmark, a country that regularly shows up as one of the happiness nations in the world. I think there just may be something to the way they intentionally live their lives!

So this is why “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things” is so important to me. One of my values is that I have to take an active part in my life. Essentially, show up as an active participant, the main character of my story and do my part at maintaining my mental health and happiness.

Here is an example of how the principles, and essence, of Hygge manifest in one area of my life, amongst many:

  • Radical Acceptance:

I live in a cold climate. We have winter. There is absolutely nothing I can do about that right now, so I must accept that I have to endure the cold, the lack of sunlight and the inability to be barefoot for months (yes, I need to be barefoot!). With this comes a bit of low energy, a “bummed out” mood and weight gain (great!). So I accept the things are a bit more difficult with low energy but make a strong effort to exercise outside by snowboarding, winter walks, going out of my way to see friends, making my inside living environment cozy, just to name a few intentional acts. I do things to make myself happy during a rough season.

  • Peak Experience Mindset:

Hygge is so much about being intentional. Taking charge of your own happiness. Creating a life you want to live in. Not waiting for things to change or someone else to change things for you. You create your experience. For you PsychNERDS out there, this is called developing an Internal Locus of Control.

Interested?

Want to live more intentionally?

Want to be a person who takes charge of their life, when life gets hard?

Check out these articles:

Curl up, Take Charge, Read this Book and infuse some of the practices of one of the happiness nations in the world!


SWM-Logo6 Word Memoir

Ok, I have some homework for you.

Stop groaning, this is good home work! It is all about you 😉

The 6 Word Memoir is such a cool concept and such a great activity that can help you really distill down your values and how you would like to be described and remembered in this life. Check out the “Six Word Memoir” page for more fun, interesting, hilarious, thought-provoking memoirs from other great humans. This is how the founder describes how this concept got legs:

“Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” In November 2006, Larry Smith, founder of SMITH Magazine, gave the six-word novel a personal twist by asking his community to describe their lives in exactly six words”

Try it!

 


there-is-nothing-more-personal-than-your-values-what-you-will-and


Tell me about your journey!
#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

References:

 

 

 

Stop Tripping Up Your Life and Learn the Art of Balance.

Balance You Create

I know, I know, it seems trite to say that YOU create your life balance and somehow you are to blame for all the stress and negative experiences that come from the multiple demands on your time.

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Well you are responsible, at least in part.

I hear the voices in the crowd start to rumble…

 

Ok, ok! Before you start thinking that I am completely insensitive, please hear me out. I have grown tired of hearing the phrase “victim blaming” whenever there is a suggestion that a human just may have some power to negatively or positively influence their current situation. My whole professional world is about helping people navigate that very path, the one that leads to personal empowerment, a sense of agency and autonomy. We are never 100% responsible for our situation, but we absolutely have power over our perceptions (State-of-Mind), our ability to accept what is (Radical Acceptance), our ability to navigate the situation, to make a new plan and try something different or unexpected (Psychological Flexibility)….even if you don’t want to (inner child tantrum).

I think that the most detrimental mindset for for our mental health and wellbeing, is the state of feeling that you are completely helpless in a situation. This is a terrible state! I am sure we have all wired our brains into that proverbial corner before. I know I have, and I now work very hard at unwiring that yucky state with skills I have learned and continue to practice them often.

This perspective may help you to get your mind around

Radical Acceptance and our ability to choose

Way, back in 2002, I was introduced to the Serenity Prayer, which I have found to be a useful reminder for me to stop the mental chatter around not being “good enough” because I am trying to tackle everything like a life badge of honour or “wishing things were different” (common chatter for me). You can ignore the “God” part of this prayer if that is not your jam, just take the meaning and guidance around courage and wisdom….and choice.

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And now to interrupt our regularly scheduled human brain programming (chatter -[negative stuff about me] – chatter –  “I suck” – chatter– “I feel hopeless” – chatter – “why is this happening to me?” – chatter –  “I wish I had a better life” – chatter –  “I am a useless procrastinator” – chatter –  blah blah blah…

For the next 800 or so words, how about we all suspend this programming and open up the possibility that our brain programming can be different and we can learn to become open to new ways of approaching life so that we can actually enjoy it.

Whatcha say?!?!


open mindMind Opening Gems

Here are  a few little gems that I have come across in my life and collected in a folder (yes I am old school! Stop laughing about the folder). They may help you get into a curious and open state of mind which is needed to start your brain on a path to a life balance re-wiring …

  • “No matter how busy you are, or how busy you think you are, the work will always be there tomorrow, but your friends might not be”. This, my friend is the essence of life. Our social group. It must be maintained for our wellbeing. Science actually does support this evolutionary function. So go see your friends!
  • “The more often you decline invitations to spend time with friends or family because you are too busy with either work or other activities, the more you should realize that your life is not in balance”. This is a great indicator. Just notice how much you use this explanation and then not do what is actually in your best interest, and make a commitment to do just that. Your brain will ❤ you back. You are never too busy for what gives you joy and makes you psychologically healthy.
  • You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make itAll we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to usFor a healthy balance in your life there are choices to be made, choices that have consequences good/meh/bad. Just start with accepting that anything worthwhile will likely come with a bit of sacrifice. #HealthySacrifice

Just a reminder that this post is part of a 10-part series designed to help you get out and do things that improve your mental health and wellbeing. #PsychoSocialMentalHealth


plugged brain

Series: 10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain

  1. Learn to Tolerate Ambiguity
  2. Be Open to New Information
  3. Learn to Reframe Adversity
  4. You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel
  5. Zone in on Your Purpose in Life
  6. Mastering Motivation a.k.a Setting a Fire Under Your Butt!
  7. Seek Out Peak Experiences and Give Your Brain a Little Party!
  8. Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life! Yes, Trix are for Kids, but a Growth Mindset is Not Just for Kids!
  9. TODAY! Stop Tripping Up Your Life and Learn the Art of Balance.
  10. Stay True to Your Values – Who do YOU want to be in this world?

Nerd Brain

PsychNERDY Time!

*Science says Resource Allocation may help.

Rethinking the Work–Life Interface:

It’s Not about Balance, It’s about Resource Allocation

Researchers Grawitch, Barber & Justice (2010), wrote a pretty great journal article proposing a different ways of looking a how we use the time that we have. They introduce introduce a “personal resource allocation (PRA) framework that treats all life demands—whether preferred or required—as forcing individuals to make choices about where, when, and how they expend their personal resources across the life domain”.

They drew on current research findings and grounded their approach in three great self-regulatory psychological theory areas: Perceptual Control Theory, Self‐determination Theory and Conservation of Resources Theory. I gave some links in case you were feeling a little nerdy and wanted more information 🙂

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The Take-away Strategies from This Research: 

  1. Expand Resources: Expanding your pool of available resources, means asking yourself things like, “Who can help me with some of my life tasks?”, “Can I work longer hours at work or start a side hussle for more money?”, “What am I willing to put on hold for now until I have the resources?”….
  2. Energy Increase: Work on increasing your personal energy. I know, I hear you screaming, how can I even do one more thing!?!? Well, here is some nerdy science to help you prioritize your life:
    • “health literature has provided considerable evidence to suggest that exercise (Puetz, 2006), nutrition (Allen & Armstrong, 2006), and sleep (Kong, Shepel, Holden, Mackiewicz, Pack, & Geiger, 2002) can all assist in producing more energy, which can be marshaled toward the successful completion of life demands” *These also contribute to positive mental health and wellbeing
  3. Enlightened Approach: You take an active part in your life and how it unfolds by making more enlightened decisions. Which means making choices about where you spend your time, be clear why it is important , how it adds to your life and start allocating your personal resources to things that best fit the life you are wanting to live. Yes! this does take a lot of work, but this work is way easier than complaining that you have no power or control in your life.

If you don’t like the way your life is working out, start changing your focus to what you have power over. Try a new approach. Take a risk and do something completely different and blow your mind!PsychologicalFlexibility2


ted-talks-on-health

How to Gain Control of Your Free Time

with Laura Vanderkam


Learn to build the life you want with the time that you’ve got.


Happy Life

Regaining Your Life Balance Recipe 

*all ingredients are within you, they may need a little practice and development.

  1. Add a little Radical Acceptance to start the process of accepting that “it is what it is”, let go of the stuck-ness in your life, open your mind and move toward a different “next step” experience..
  2. Sprinkle in a smidge of Emotional Intelligence to help you navigate your world with all available emotional information.
  3. Depending on the flavour of the desired outcome, add a little Emotion Regulation to get you through a difficult task, or to help you with uncomfortable boundary setting and begin deploying different strategies for that different outcome.
  4. Stir in a healthy handful of Psychological Flexibility.
  5. Divide up your resources with a “Personal Resource Allocation Measuring Cup” (specially created by you, for you, for your life balance).

 


Stress

If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative. Know when to close the account. Ask yourself the following questions to start your journey of balance awareness:

What does life balance mean to you?

Why do you need life balance?

How do you practice life balance?

What do you want to incorporate into your life?

What are the characteristics of someone practicing the art of life balance?

What are your essential components for life balance?


Life balance is a process, not a destination.


lotus flower

Tell me about your journey!
#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca


 

Research References

  • Puetz, T.W. (2006). Physical activity and feelings of energy and fatigue: Epidemio-
    logical evidence. Sports Medicine, 36, 767–780.
  • Allen, T.D., & Armstrong, J. (2006). Further examination of the link between work–
    family conflict and physical health: The role of health-related behaviors.
    American Behavioral Scientist, 49, 1204–1221.
  • Kong, J., Shepel, P.N., Holden, C.P., Mackiewicz, M., Pack, A.I., & Geiger, J.D.
    (2002). Brain glycogen decreases with increased periods of wakefulness: Implications for homeostatic drive to sleep. Journal of Neuroscience, 22, 5581–5587

Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life! Yes, Trix are for Kids, but a Growth Mindset is Not Only for The Kids!

Power of Yet.jpg

The “Power of Yet” is NOT Just for Kids!

It is not too late to work on your brain and improve your mental health. Mindset studies have shown that fostering a growth mindset helps to increase self-confidence, train your emotion regulation capacity and helps to build resiliency. To me this is so inspirational and true in my own life. The concept of a “Growth Mindset” is making human growth and learning attainable. The brain LOVES to learn and when my brain is learning new things it is a happy brain. Seeking out learning opportunities is what I do as a common practice in maintaining my positive mental health. I can’t think of many times that I was actually fully successful when I was learning new things. It has always been a process of learn, try, suck at it, try again, suck less at it, try agin…getting better! Voila! Mind blowing mind-shifting in progress! Love this process now 🙂

I know you are SUPER curios about what this fantastical and magical Growth Mindset I speak of is, well, keep on reading and watching the video below.


Just a reminder that this post is part of a 10-part series designed to help you get out and do things that improve your mental health and wellbeing. #PsychoSocialMentalHealth


plugged brain

Series: 10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain

  1. Learn to Tolerate Ambiguity
  2. Be Open to New Information
  3. Learn to Reframe Adversity
  4. You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel
  5. Zone in on Your Purpose in Life
  6. Mastering Motivation a.k.a Setting a Fire Under Your Butt!
  7. Seek Out Peak Experiences and Give Your Brain a Little Party!
  8. TODAY! Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life! Yes, Trix are for Kids, but a Growth Mindset is Not Just for Kids!
  9. Learn the Art of Balance
  10. Stay True to Your Values – Who do YOU want to be in this world?

A2-Understanding-the-Growth-Mindset

What is the Growth Mindset?

Well, Dr. Carol Dweck is the leading researcher on this subject. She describes each as the following:

  • Fixed Mindset: in a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. According to Dweck, when a student has a fixed mindset, they believe that their basic abilities, intelligence and talents are fixed traits. They think that you are born with a certain amount and that’s all you have.
  • Growth Mindset: in a growth mindset, people have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can get smarter, they realize that their effort has an effect on their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement.

So, to summarize her research findings, check out the following cool benefits of learning more about shifting your mind style to more of a growth mindset:

  • Importance of Focusing on the Learning Process: The brains and talent, that we are born with, do not necessarily equal success, but rather research shows that these attributes can actual get in the way and stop your success. Why would you keep trying if your genes are stopping you from improving?
  • Fixed Mindset Negatively Affects Your Self-esteem and Risk Taking Ability: Did you know that if all you focus on is what you were born with, “how smart you are”, you actually interfere with your self-esteem? True story! Yeah, well if all that you notice about yourself is what you were born with and not what you have learned to do, you leave all your success and failure up to your genes. Terrible idea! People are learning beings and brains are happiest when they are learning new things. Brains grow when they learn. Problem is they learn negative things and positive things, so try and have your brain spend time on the things you want to grow.
  • Growth Mindset and Motivation: a growth mindset actually helps you to remain motivated in the face of adversity. You exclaim, “darn it! It didn’t work” and then you say “You are not going to beat me!” and then you roll up your sleeves and create a plan to try again. All because you are not your genes, you are  a learning HUMAN!!!

 “People with a growth mindset believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work with brains and talent being just the starting point” – Dr. Carol Dweck


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The Power of Believing You Can Improve 

Dr. Carole Dweck

Carol Dweck researches “growth mindset” — the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems. In this talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet?


Yes!

Believe me, I was not ever described as an outstanding student. I only stood out because I was chatty…a.k.a “annoying” to teachers. Yup, even at an early age, I loved to hear people’s stories and understand why they do what they do. What I did learn is that I could, when I put my mind to it, try something, fail dismally, feel sad and avoidant and then put my big girl pants on and try again. Here is a little secret, it is way easier to actually face your fears than avoid them. Facing ends the battle and a decision is made, avoiding means that “it” actually follows you around like a creepy little shadow reminding you that “you are a failure”. Oh, man, I hate that. So here is my advice for starting to work on your own growth mindset by actually growing your brain:

  • Instead of avoiding, lean in, reframe your thinking to “I haven’t figured this out yet, but I want to take on this challenge” and go take it on! Yes, super scary, but way better than the creepy shadow bully in your head.
  • Please know that your mindset shifts from Growth to Fixed easily throughout your day due to many factors, like the context you are in or being…
    • H: Hungry
    • A: Angry
    • L: Lonely
    • T: Tired

HALT-1030x843.pngThis is your chance to be kind and compassionate to yourself and understand that you just need to HALT the high expectations and just let it “be” for the time being. All kinds of things affect your mindset. Work on shifting it when you can and being understanding and kind to yourself when it is harder to do.


Nerd BrainGrowth Mindset and Psychotherapy

*a.k.a PsychNERDY time!

I wanted to take a moment to say that the counselling and psychotherapy process is premised on the belief that people have the ability to grow and that psychotherapy actually changes the brain. What makes psychotherapy work well for people is having a sense of hope and a belief that they can change. I have seen it for over 23 years! People can change if they put in the time, the effort and the work, with a therapist that they have a strong relationship with. Mindset is everything in counselling. All worth the effort!

A 2017 research study, found that one form of psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) changes the brain structure, positively. Here is some of the cool stuff they found:

  • People with social anxiety, who took an online CBT course for nine weeks, reported fewer symptoms of social anxiety, and this reduction was correlated to less volume in the amygdala, the part of the brain that that is associated with fear.
  • In this study, there was a comparison between people who continued to take medication and participated in CBT and another group who only took medication. The people who had medication + CBT experienced positive mental health improvements and structural changes in the brain, whereas people in the medication-only group didn’t experience the same changes.

Brain Bulb“And it’s not just CBT (although that is a very effective and well-studied method): studies have shown other forms of psychotherapy may also be at least as effective as medication in treating mental health problems and preventing relapse in the future”


 

mindset-matters

#PositiveMentalHealth


If you are tempted to say “I can’t”, have the courage to add “Yet” to the end of that sentence.


Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

 

 

 

The future is YET in your power the past cannot be changed.

The difference between not knowing and not knowing yet.

 

Seek Out Peek Experiences and Give Your Brain a Little Party!

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Seek Out Peak Experiences?!?!

“Why would I want to do that?”

We want to provide our brains with peek experiences because our brains absolutely love learning. It is what the brain is designed to do; learn and keep up safe. This is called seeking out “novel stimuli” by us PsycNerds.

“Novelty seeking refers to the tendency of humans and animals to explore novel and unfamiliar stimuli and environments. The idea that dopamine modulates novelty seeking is supported by evidence that novel stimuli excite dopamine neurons and activate brain regions receiving dopaminergic input”. Translation, find something new for your brain and your brain rewards you with a little brain dopamine bath. A flood of feel good.

There are so many benefits to getting outside your comfort zone, taking off those sweat pants and adding a little risk-taking discomfort to your life. I am going to take a moment and pull back the psychotherapy curtains and let you in on the secret magic that is happening in the counselling process. Psychotherapy modalities and strategies, like the following, all involve people learning new ways of being and getting outside their comfort comfortzone: Behavioral Activation, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Systematic Desensitization, Emotion Focussed Therapy, and really most psychotherapy modalities. This is why therapy works, your plastic brain loves new things and what our brain spends time on is what is built in your brain (new neutrons).

Your brain builds what it spends time on.

Brain connections

“Doing one thing every day that scares you” does not mean base jumping or holding a tarantula in your hand, unless you want to, it means leaning into your life and taking steps toward the things that you want. Often those things can have some fear instilling obstacles plunked right on your path to happiness. So lean in, roll up your sleeves, at your own pace, in a direction that enhances your life and face those little fears.

Risks with benefits 🙂


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*HUG*


Just a reminder that this post is part of a 10-part series designed to help you get out and do things that improve your mental health and wellbeing. #PsychoSocialMentalHealth


plugged brain

Series: 10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain

  1. Learn to Tolerate Ambiguity
  2. Be Open to New Information
  3. Learn to Reframe Adversity
  4. You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel
  5. Zone in on Your Purpose in Life
  6. Mastering Motivation a.k.a Setting a Fire Under Your Butt!
  7. TODAY! Seek Out Peak Experiences and Give Your Brain a Little Party!
  8. Stay True to Your Values – Who do YOU want to be in this world?
  9. Learn the Art of Balance
  10. Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life

So What Are These Peak Experiences You Talk About?

I hear you saying…

Well, let’s back up a bit. Peak experiences were originally described by psychologist Abraham Maslow as “moments of highest happiness and fulfillment“, in his 1964 book “Religions, Values and Peak Experiences“. He described a peak experience as “a moment accompanied by a euphoric mental state often achieved by self-actualizing individuals”. Dr. Maslow ranked human needs in a pyramid to show that there are so many important needs that must be met on the road to even being able to spend time self-actualizing. We really need to have a place to live and enough food to fuel this journey, as well as, we need to feel safe and connected to our social groups long before we can even start thinking about building our self-confidence and taking personal risks as we seek opportunities to stretch and grow as people.

But…

Self-actualization is not only massive and wonderful challenges, but also the little ones along the way that spark joy or a state of awe. So, no excuses!

Maslow


What Does a Peak Experience Look Like?

Well, I am glad you asked. To get a little nerdy on ya…

Back in 1983, Gayle Privette developed an Experience Questionnaire (still relevant) that was designed to look at both the shared and unique characteristics of peak experiences. After looking at a wide variety of people, peak experiences have been identified as sharing three key characteristics:

  1. Significance: Peak experiences lead to an increase in personal awareness and understanding and can serve as a turning point in a person’s life.
  2. Fulfillment: Peak experiences generate positive emotions and are intrinsically rewarding.
  3. Spiritual: During a peak experience, people feel at one with the world and often experience a sense of losing track of time, or a state of Flow.

So How Do Peak Experiences Help My Psychological Wellbeing?!?

I hear you wondering…

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Check This Out!

Peak Experiences and the Life Changing Power of Awe

“Perhaps the most significant result of a peak experience can be a permanent, positive change of the individual – a sense that one will never again be the same person.”


Why Your Brain Likes Peak Experiences

Dr. Lisa Feldman-Barrett, Clinical Neuroscientist

Last summer I ready a really nerdy book that I loved and it explained so much to me about the new frontier in emotion research. Dr. Feldman-Barett describes emotions in the following way. It blew my mind and explained so much about my experience and the experience of my clients.

How Emotions

  • First of all, Emotions are CONSTRUCTED
    • I know right?!?! it is so cool that we are active constructors of our own emotions!
    • Emotion circuits are not hardwired in our brains.

It all starts with…

  • Feelings that Start with Body Signals: this process is called Interoception
    • There are 4 main body signals included in interception (emotion creating body signal process) which are how “pleasant-unpleasant” you feel and how “calm-agitated” you feel (mild-intense).

and then your brain does this…

  • Feelings Come from Your Brain Predicting
    • Happiness, sadness, anger and the rest are not represented by specific circuits within the brain but are rather constructed in the moment.
    • Emotions are your brain’s best guess of how you should feel in the moment.

Emotions


Cultivating Peak Experiences in Your Life

is Important to Your Mental Health.

…I hear your cries of anguish!

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“How Do I Do This?!?”


First of all, I want to reiterate that peak experiences come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t put pressure on yourself that you have to go out and have the most amazing, high risk, expensive and transformational experience (those are great, but rare). Go out and be in nature, do something for the first time by learning/experiencing something new, go see a film with subtitles and set some life goals that you can plan and prepare for!

Start with listening to this song for inspiration 🙂

“For the First Time” by Darius Ruker

 

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Here are some ideas to get you started:

Step #1: Read this: How to Adopt a Beginners Mind

Step #2: Watch this: Mindfulness Attitudes – Beginner’s Minds (Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn)

Step #3: Go out and do some stuff!

47 Cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend

103 Things to Do on a Money Free Weekend

 Get started cultivating awe and creating new emotion concepts in your brain!


Still Don’t Have You Convinced?!?!

Nerd BrainHere is the PsychNERDY Science

According to research at UC Berkeley, awe even has anti-inflammatory effects on your body. Researchers found that feeling the beauty of nature, art, and spirituality lower the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (things in your body that can cause chronic painful diseases).

Arrow“Awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions — a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art — has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,” — Dacher Keltner – Psychologist UC Berkeley

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If you never grow, you will never know just how much the mind, body and spirit, working together, are connected to your happiness and psychological wellbeing.


Say Yest

Hey Peak Experience!

Can You Stick Around for a While!?!?!

HHbook

Two years ago, I wrote about a book that I read and LOVED called, Hardwiring Happiness, by Dr. Rick Hanson, Neuropsychologist. What I loved about this book is that it is very easy to read and apply to your life. I am mentioning it again because it is the final step in your peak experience adventures, making the memories last. Dr. Hansen is a pretty amazing and inspirational speaker to be in the presence of. Yes, I have academically stalked him too 😉

He shares very doable strategies for making positive thoughts stick with you. He says, “the human brain has a tendency to act like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones, a trait that can, over time, lead to anxiety, irritability and self-esteem issues” and “by taking a few extra seconds to stay with a positive experience, you will help turn a passing mental state into a lasting neural trait

Check out his very simple strategy he calls HEAL. Go out and HAVE a good experience (seek out the peak), ENRICH this experience (rattle it around your brain), ABSORB this experience (don’t let it get away) and then introduce it to a negative experience you still have that is hanging around your brain and LINK them. HEAL

“Taking in the good, can literally rewire our brains”. Check out my previous post for more strategies to help you take in the positive and have it stick around.


We-make-it-happen-b4dd4012adb1a5fe46e3b62733d77abaSo go out give your brain a little party,  try new things, create emotion concepts with life experience so that your brain has a range to choose from and hardwire those positive moments of awe into your brain for recall later.


thebestWell, you can have the opportunity to infuse peak experiences from simple activities to intense events, into your life that change your brain and foster your mental health and wellbeing. Please remember, it is not necessarily about what the activity is, but the ecstatic, blissful feeling that is being experienced during it.


Want to Read More?


Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

Mastering Motivation! a.k.a Setting a Fire Under Your Butt!

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Motivation….ah….motivation….

This is a VERY common human struggle. Yes, even for those who appear perfect and completely in control….not mentioning any names 😉 I will give you some advice from  my professional experience. I have had the opportunity to see people in their real states, people who appear perfect in public or who make a living from writing books and delivering workshops on human motivation and optimal functioning and I have found that they are actually human too. Yeah I know! Right?!?! So, please stop thinking that just because someone spouts a quote, or is a self-help writer, that they are perfect and living the perfect life. I guarantee they are not, or they are, for a very short time in their life…and then they are not again. That is the reality for all humans. Motivation ebbs and flows.

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Motivation comes and goes. Life giveth and taketh away. Sometimes I am so on top of everything and then it all changes and I wonder why anyone pays me to do anything. Fortunately, the latter happens less often now that I am older with life experience. Phew! I now understand the ebb and flow of my motivation and I use strategies that help be kick my butt when needed. What a gift of knowledge I now have!

Remember, like the quote above, sometimes we lose focus, things get blurry and we start asking ourselves “why am I doing this again?” All normal! Mastering motivation means using strategies that can help you regain your focus and get moving again, not the expectation of naturally being super motivated all the time. No human is.


Blog Series

Todays post is part of a 10-part series on how to treat your brain in a way that fosters wellbeing. Check out blogs that I have posted in the past to help you find the best motivation strategies that work for you! Please know that I always write from my professional experience and from my own personal experience of what works, and I am far from perfect. I am just a human being human who loves human behaviour and finding ways to be my best human version.

Past Motivation Posts:


plugged brain

Series: 10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain

  1. Learn to Tolerate Ambiguity
  2. Be Open to New Information
  3. Learn to Reframe Adversity
  4. You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel
  5. Zone in on Your Purpose in Life
  6. TODAY! Mastering Motivation a.k.a Setting a Fire Under Your Butt!
  7. Seek Out Peak Experiences
  8. Stay True to Your Values – Who do YOU want to be in this world?
  9. Learn the Art of Balance
  10. Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life

I thought that it would be helpful to start with a definition of motivation that I think encompasses all the main factors. Check this out…

emotions-intelligence-behavior-drivers-700x467Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors such as the (1) intensity of desire or need, (2) incentive or reward value of the goal, and (3) expectations of the individual and of his or her peers. These factors are the reasons one has for behaving a certain way. An example is a student that spends extra time studying for a test because he or she wants a better grade in the class. Source: Business Dictionary


My Butt Kicking Steps & Strategies

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1. Figure Out Your Reasons and Goals

Make sure this is your why, your goal, not someone else’s goal. It is so hard, actually almost impossible, to motivate yourself to achieve the goals others have set for you, especially if it completely doesn’t interest or matter to you. Examine your “shoulds“! Explore further if they are realistic, or too harsh, or not in line with your goals or not the expectations you have for yourself. If they are not yours, change them to something that is helpful to your wellness and your goals. Make goals your own, makes it easier to make it through the difficult times.

2. Create “Your” Plan 

Once you know what you want and it is your plans/goals/desires, create a “how to” plan that also includes how to get through the rough times. How will I meet my goals when I feel fantastic and how will I still move toward my goals when life gets complicated or difficult? You need both, and you need to have patience and self compassion in this process. Ask yourself “am I heading in the right direction??, this is all you need to focus on, not how fast or how much. We all need breaks and down times in our pursuit of our goals.

  • Be Curious About Your Procrastination: I have so often found that my procrastination is telling me something. For example, I often procrastinate when I am not taking care of myself and pushing too hard, or I have shoulds that are definitely not my own or I have not reflected on why I even have this should. My procrastination has been my friend, in so many situations, because it has stopped me from relentlessly pushing toward goals and forced me to reflect, re-evaluate, and create a new plan that is healthier for me.
  • Use Prospective Hindsight: I love this process! It is all about looking back at your typical behaviour, what works, what doesn’t and make a plan using this information. So helpful! Check out this TEDTalk on Prospective Hindsight for ideas.

3. Take Small Manageable Steps

Take small steps toward your goal(s). Focus on the direction of the goal not the intensity; making sure are you heading in the right direction despite set backs or procrastination days. Direction matters more than progress. I often use the Irish teaching of getting “stuck in” on days that I feel “meh”, but still need to get something done. How I do this is I set a timer for 15 minutes, I get started small parts of my task and see if I get sucked into the task and motivated to continue. This works 95% of the time for me, especially when it is my goal and should.


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Programming Your Mind for Success

 

Check out this TEDTalk for one perspective that could help you get moving by preparing your mind for what it takes for you to be successful.

Main take aways:

  • What gets in the way? Fear, Obstacles, Lack of Motivation
  • Be Clear About Your Primary purpose in life? What do you want to be remembered for in this life? What kind of person do you want to be in this world? What are you passionate about?

Motivation

Anything that I have done, that surprised me and that I am most proud of, came out of intense struggle with my mind, struggle with my confidence and struggle with my ability to stay focused.

It is worth the struggle! But do it in a way that is healthy for you at your own pace, with your own goals and with your own strategies.


Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

Zone Into Your Purpose in Life! or Just Start Heading in Unplanned Directions and See What Happens!

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“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


I know, I know! I can almost feel the fear coming through cyberspace as I write this; imagining people reading this post and saying “OMG, I have no idea what my purpose is?!?!”, “I have nothing to offer the greater good in this world!” or simply “I am not doing this hippy dippy crap again in my life!”

Well, give me a chance to explain. You definitely don’t have to have a perfectly clear idea, it doesn’t need to meet your definition of extraordinary, nor does this need to be a pressure filled stressful experience. Life meaning and purpose is, simply, just a little incentive in this life to get you out of bed and engage with this incredible world as the incredible human that you are. Also, science supports this butt kicking approach to life 🙂


brain-2062057_960_720Because Science Says So!

The Psychological Benefits of a Meaningful Life

  • People with a stronger sense of life purpose are happier, better at managing stress and tend to be healthierPsychNERD Link
  • People with a sense of purpose in their life showed better cognitive function (brain power!) measured by higher scores for memory, executive functioning, and overall cognition. PsychNerd Link
  • As a sense of life purpose increases, symptoms of depression decrease. PsychNERD Link
  • Having identified a purpose in life was associated with greater life satisfaction and overall well-being at three stages of life (adolescence, emerging adult and adult). PsychNERD Link
  • Having a purpose in life in early youth predicted positive well-being, self-image, and low delinquency during emerging adulthood. PsychNERD Link

Just a reminder that this is #5 in my 10 part series this academic year on

“Being Nice to Your Brain”


plugged brain

Series: 10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain

  1. Learn to Tolerate Ambiguity
  2. Be Open to New Information
  3. Learn to Reframe Adversity
  4. You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel
  5. TODAY! Zone in on Your Purpose in Life
  6. Master Motivation aka “fire under your butt strategies”
  7. Seek Out Peak Experiences
  8. Stay True to Your Values – Who do YOU want to be in this world?
  9. Learn the Art of Balance
  10. Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life

 


TEDTalk

Let’s start this journey with a positive and inspiring TEDTalk from an award winning, and pretty cool author, Emily Esfahani Smith. This is a good read 🙂

Unknown

Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there’s a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life, serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you, gives you something to hold onto. Learn more about the difference between being happy and having meaning as Smith offers four pillars of a meaningful life.


The PSYCHNerdy Next Steps

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Planned Happenstance

Many years ago, I stumbled on a career counselling theory called, Planned Happenstance that was introduced in 1999 by Mitchell, Levin and Krumboltz. I had the chance to meet Dr. John Krumboltz back then and listen to him speak, wow! Incredible speaker and career theory psychologist. (Sorry a little nerdiness slipped out!). They defined this career search approach as “constructing unexpected career opportunities” and that people can actually “plan,” be prepared for, and even “construct” or generate “chance” career events in their lives. You don’t have to know what your life purpose is, or what career you want to have, you just need to develop 5 skills and then go out and take some risks, get out of your comfort zone, try things that you can’t imagine even liking…nothing illegal 😉

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Top 5 Happenstance Skills to Develop

These life skills help you to recognize, create, and use chance opportunities as career and life opportunities:

  1. Curiosity: your ability to get out there an explore new opportunities
  2. Persistence: your ability to continue to exert effort despite setbacks
  3. Flexibility: your ability to change your attitude and the circumstances if needed
  4. Optimism: your ability to view new opportunities as possible and attainable
  5. Risk Taking: your ability to take action in the face of uncertain outcome

This is so much more than a career theory, it is a life perspective that can help you zone in on your overall life purpose. Go out and participate in something you don’t even seem interested in, volunteer to help organize an event, take part in something at work or on your campus that scares you a little bit…just go out and try some legal things that freak you out a bit or things that don’t seem to interest you… YET. 

Adapted from: Planned Happenstance: Constructing Unexpected Career Opportunities

生き甲斐

Many years ago, I was really fortunate to be “forced” to take karate by a paranoid father of 2 girls. I hated it for the first year and then slowly began to love it, mostly. For the next 15 years, being a part of the Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karate world, widened my narrow world view, allowed me to learn so much about myself, including the ability to push beyond my perceived limits, all while being immersed in the completely mysterious and wonderful world of Japanese culture.

Sloww-Ikigai-BookThe one Japanese concept, amongst so many, that has stuck with me all through my life is is ikigai. The beauty of this concept is that it does not have a direct English translation, but it is thought to combine the Japanese words ikiru, meaning “to live,” and kai, meaning “the realization of what one hopes for.” According to the World Economic Forum, ikigai is becoming popular outside of Japan as a way to live longer and better.

Japanese Art of Finding Meaning


Try This Out!

To get started, ask yourself the following 4 questions:

  1. What do you love?
  2. What are you good at?
  3. What does the world need from you?
  4. What can you get paid for?

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Still Freaked Out?!?!

If you are really stuck and your motivation seems to have alluded you, or fear of the unknown is completely freaking you out, take some time to watch a hilarious film called “Yes Man” with Canada’s own Jim Carrey. It is a really extreme version of what you can do to get out there, plan your happenstance, try something that you fear, and stand on the outside of what is familiar and comfortable. You never know what will be unveiled for you. Check it out!

 


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I so often tell my students that “we are just here to entertain ourselves until we die”, so, don’t take yourself so seriously that you become frozen in place with fear.  Start cultivating meaning in your life by asking yourself “what do I want to do to make this life worth living?


Just for Fun Resources:

 


Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel. Seriously cut it out ;)

how-to-fake-it-til-you-make-it-dress-up

“Fake it until you make it” has been the BEST advice I have ever followed in my life.

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I often experience all kinds of annoying and life limiting emotions like feeling like an imposter, experiencing low-self esteem days (less as I get older and actually use my strategies), anxious (agitated, fearful, worried, freaked-out…), low mood (bummed out, down, blue, depressed…) and lack of motivation (most of my life), to name a few of those pesky emotions that often take over my life. This blog has taken me way too long to write, I actually have no idea why, other than I wanted to make it real and usable, and something people could relate to.

I confess, I am a serious recovering “I don’t FEEL like it” kinda person. I so often tell my students that if I lived by feeling alone (no rational thoughts) I would not do anything except watch Netflix, in my PJs, sipping wine. I have no problem feeling like doing that 😉 It is easier. No anxious feelings, no feeling like an imposter, but it usually leads to lowering my self-esteem and feeling crappy.

So I do this instead…

I pair the “fake it” part with with “feelings are not facts“as a strategy to motivate the inner feeling-based person that I am. My poor students so often claim to claim to hear my voice in their head at times where they need to kick their own butt, walk through adversity and end the current pity party. I am not saying that you can’t have a pity party sometimes, this can actually be a moment of reflection and healing; I am saying don’t stay too long at that party. Like everything in life, moderation, moderation, moderation…except moderation 😉

fake it


Just a reminder that this is #4 in my 10 part series this academic year on

“Being Nice to Your Brain”


plugged brain

Series: 10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain

  1. Mental Health Problems are Learning Problems.  #YOUARENOT BROKEN #LEARNING (Theme: Learning to Tolerate Ambiguity)
  2. The Psychological Value of Being Open to New Information and Experiences #MindBlown (Theme: Be Open to New Information)
  3. Learning to Reframe Adversity: Yes Bad Things are Terrible, But so is Giving Away Your Power! (Theme: Learn to Reframe Adversity)
  4. TODAY! You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel…Seriously Cut it Out 😉
  5. Zone in on Your Purpose in Life
  6. Master Motivation aka “fire under your butt strategies”
  7. Seek Out Peak Experiences
  8. Stay True to Your Values – Who do YOU want to be in this world?
  9. Learn the Art of Balance
  10. Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life

Let’s Get Started!

plan-roadmap-quote

Emotions have a wonderful purpose in your life providing colour and richness, guidance, warning signals, human connection and so many more useful functions. However, they were never designed to be left alone to fend for themselves. They need a partner in crime to help keep the emotional message in balance. This is where another part of your brain needs to be hauled in to add a “voice of reason” balance to the message. Here is a little taste of what is to come in this post, a cool little strategy that helps your emotional areas and your thought areas of your brain work in partnership, the Wise Mind. I use this all the time.

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Wise Mind Post


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From Strategies to Destination

Let’s start with attitude. I find it helpful to look at my life like an adventure rather than something to survive. If you distill it down, we really are here, on this planet, to entertain ourselves until we die. So, why don’t we make it fun and learn all kinds of adaptive skills along the way that positively contribute to our lives and to our communities?!?!


Attitude Adjusters

Here are some of my favourite “attitude adjusters“: (yes I use them personally)

  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Take on a “choose your own adventure” way of seeing your life. This was one of my favourite book series when was young. Yeah, stop calculating my age 😉 Netflix has taken this concept digital, check it out! Start taking control of your life, your decisions, take responsibility and stop waiting for someone else to tell you what to do.  You are just waiting for someone else to take the responsibility or the blame.

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  • Own Your Narrative:  Be the main character in your life and show up! Yes, maybe bad things have happened in your life, yes maybe things are unfair, but it is what it is and no amount of complaining is going to make the facts change. So, the first step is accepting that it is true, not right or fair, but true. This is your story, writing the narrative is the best form of control over how it ends. Start with some of these strategies for getting you started.

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Watch This Video! Please

114869-magic-marker-icon-arrows-dotted-arrow-right*really, it helps to understand that your brain can change, you can do things to actually change it and you can put your self on the path to your best self.  

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the word “dialectic” refers to balancing and comparing two things that seem to be quite different – even contradictoryMarsha Linehan, creator of the highly-regarded Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)


you create

Destination

Here is a simplified explanation of the neurobiology of your brain. Like physical exercise builds muscles in the areas that you focus on, the brain is very similar. Whatever you spend time focusing on in your mind is what is created, fostered and built. I am not saying that you should always think positively, but you do need to spend time shaping your brain, like you would do for your physical health, and create a balanced perspective on your world. The good and the bad.

Then decide…

Who do you want to be in this world? What do you want to achieve while you are here on this planet? What would you like to be remembered for? What character attributes would you like to develop?

Start asking these questions so that your roadmap is clear. With everything you do, you can then ask yourself, does this help or hurt the life that I am striving for? Yes this is a messy process, but it should be. Life is beautifully messy and that is where the most beneficial learning creeps in 🙂

messy


Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

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If you liked the suggestions above, check out these extra resources and get started treating your mind as you would like to be treated.

 

 

 

 

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