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



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.


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


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.


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?


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

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


“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



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 🙂


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

Nerd Brain.jpg

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 😉

Brain Bulb.png

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


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?


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!


Life worth living.png

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

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


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


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!


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.


Wise Mind Post


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.


lotus flower

  • 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.


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


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 🙂


Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


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





Learning to Reframe Adversity: Yes Bad Things are Terrible, but so is Giving Away Your Power!


Reframing adversity is not about pretending that something did not happen, it is about accepting the reality of it, “yup, that happened” -> “this is horrible” -> “poor me” -> “I don’t love this feeling of being out of control” -> “Now what can I do next to make my life better?” Reframing begins at the last statement.

Accepting that it is indeed a fact and it did happen, there’s nothing that you can do to change that fact, but you can change how you react and how you carry on.

Someone said to me once that I could choose to make myself miserable or choose to make myself strong after some crappy crap that happened.  I chose strength, misery sucks and it takes so much more time and energy to be miserable.


“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become” – Dr. Carl Jung

This is #3 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. TODAY! Learning to Reframe Adversity: Yes Bad Things are Terrible, But so is Giving Away Your Power! (Theme: Learn to Reframe Adversity)
  4. 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

Adversity Gift

There is this pretty cool book called “The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfections” by Norman E. Rosenthal M.D, that I think you should check out. If you are serious about working on your ability to reframe the bad things in your life, so that you can move forward and flourish, then seriously read it, listen to it or find a friend who can give you the short notes version with learning points…like me! See below 🙂

…or better yet, listen to a little YouTube bookstore chitchat with Dr. Rosenthal, MD.

What is the most important lesson about coping with hardship that people should take away from reading The Gift of Adversity?

  • Acceptance: Accept that the adversity has occurred.
  • Response Size: Proportion your response according to the nature of the adversity. Small problem, small response, small amount of energy expended.
  • Analysis: Analyze the situation. Is this within your control or not? Is there anything you can do to make it better? What can I do?
  • Self-Care: Regulate your physical and emotional state, for example, by keeping regular hours of sleeping and waking, eating regular healthy meals, exercising and meditating, spending time with supportive people and establishing boundaries and self-expectations that are different from your “normal” state (do less or protect more). Take care of yourself.
  • Help-Seeking: Reach out for help to family, friends or even mental health professionals. We are on this planet with over 7 billion people, we are not meant to be islands, we are social creatures.
  • Tell Your Story: Turn your experience into a story to help you process it. “This happened, it sucked because, I don’t want to stay in this place, I will try this to make things better for myself…”
  • Reframe: Reframe the adversity, think about it in a different way. “This is what I learned, this is what I know now, I am pretty strong in crappy situations…”

Still Not Convinced?!!?

Don't Stop in the Middle

Well, this is your life and the beautiful thing is that you can choose how you want to live it. I got sick of being miserable so I accepted my situation and created my “work around” for the circumstances I had. Your choice. But, if you want to be a person who flourishes, has the ability to bounce back from unexpected adversity, change or loss, the follow the steps below.

A Recipe for Flourishing for Humans

  1. Unwanted adversity shows up
  2. If you can’t change it, accept it. It is what it is. (or stay stuck here, your choice)
  3. Reframe it so that you can move forward in your life.
  4. Implement a “bounce back strategy” (Resilience is fostered here)
  5. Let the thriving begin and enjoy the flourishing life that you are creating.
  6. Repeat
  7. Learn new new tricks and perspectives while waiting for more adversity to show up (it will happen, it is what life does well).


TEDTAlk: The Opportunity of Adversity

In Closing

  1. You have muscles not wounds. You have done the heavy lifting.
  2. The struggle you put in today is the strength that you will need tomorrow.
  3. Adversity does not build character it reveals it


It takes courage, adaptability and strength

to persevere when things don’t go your way.



I never share things here that I haven’t done or are not currently wrestling with. Life is an effort, but the effort is worth the struggle. Who ever thought that this life would be easy, or told you that, is absolutely wrong. The closest we get to easy is the opportunity to work on being happy. #HardwiringHappiness

Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

The Psychological Value of Being Open to New Information and Experiences #MindBlown

Open Mind

What Open-Mindedness Looks Like

An open-minded individual…

  • strives to develop a better understanding of the world, willing to listen to other people’s beliefs and opinions, to learn from their insights and experience and makes an effort to try new things (experiential learning) to foster personal growth.
  • understands their strengths and limitations. Meaning that you do not feel obliged to agree with others, but you can respect the rights and beliefs of others without trying to force your own views (strength) and can admit when you don’t know something (limitations).

plugged brainSeries: 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. TODAY! 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. 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 Startedarrow_sketch-home.png

Are You Feeling Stuck?

From my experience, sometimes people can mistake the feelings associated with being stuck in an old boring routine, or stuck in a old way of being or thinking, with being depressed. Not always, but sometimes.

Here is the secret, your brain is designed to learn, it loves to learn, when you are not learning…YOUR BRAIN IS BORED! Hense, the meh feelings.

Don’t believe me?

Well here is some information from the secret life of therapists…

When you get outside your comfort zone, and come see a counsellor like me, we help Freud.jpg
you to do the work necessary to change the neurobiology of your brain through developing coping strategies, new ways of being, new learning, through a science supported counselling interventions like Behavioural Activation. This is a pretty cool therapy for depression, that focuses on activity scheduling to encourage people to approach activities that they are avoiding, along with analyzing the function of their cognitive processes (thoughts), such as rumination (cycling thoughts), that serve as a form of avoidance. Getting out there and doing, rather than avoiding, helps you to become refocused on your goals and valued directions in life. You tend to feel happier and more empowered. Eventually experiencing the benefits of doing, creates energy and excitement to try new things.

So I think I have your attention.

More doing less avoiding!


A wee bit of advice..

Don’t Take the Dopamine Short Cut!

Chemical-Structures-of-Neurotransmitters-2015.pngSometimes people find “doing the work” takes too long or it is simply just too hard. Yes, rewiring your brain is hard work! But if you do the work, you get lasting results with so many mental and physical health benefits.

The dopamine short cut means using various substances, legal and not, to elicit a dopamine response artificially, thus fooling the brain. While so many other activities elicit dopamine naturally, like exercising, good sleep, healthy eating, sunlight and music. Yes music! Listening to music taps into the dopamine system, in part, because hearing something new is a signal that the brain is learning something, and we have evolved to enjoy acquiring new information.

So do the work instead of tricking your brain. Tricking is not learning, it just keeps you in the same place…feeling…


Ok, Now I’m About to Get a Little Nerdy on Ya! Big Time!

Brain Nerd

Let’s Get on a Eudaimonia Trip!

A What???

Eudaimonia, a funky Greek work that means “personal happiness”. More specifically it is the pursuit of happiness, manifestation (creation) of personal growth, self-actualization, flourishing and life meaning. It is very different from it’s cousin, hedonia which is the pursuit and/or experience of pleasure, enjoyment, comfort, and reduced pain. Eudaimonia is a journey, a process, sometimes hard, sometimes easy, but the benefits are immense. It is the satisfaction that comes from constantly developing and living one’s life to the fullest.

Science Says


  • Research suggests that the greater sense of purpose and personal growth Female Scientist.jpgassociated with eudaimonia correlates with lower cortisol levels (from bad stress levels), better immune function (you get sick less), and more efficient sleep (who doesn’t want that?). Dr. Gary Marcus, NYU
  • Dr. Rich Walker, research psychologist, looked at countless event memories that people were able to remember, and found that “people who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones than people who have fewer experiences.”
  • Psychological Well-Being Revisited: Advances in the Science and Practice of Eudaimonia (Full Article)

    • Growing evidence shows that qualities such as purposeful engagement, self-realization and growth, and enlightened self-regard are relevant influences on how long and how well people live.

    • Multiple studies have linked these indicators of well-being to reduced amygdala activation in response to negative stimuli (this means lower anxiety), sustained activity in the ventral striatum and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (emotion regulation) when viewing positive stimuli, and increased insular cortex volume (increased emotion experience such as compassion and empathy).

Ok, enough nerdy science, even though I love it!

It is not about me, it is about you getting out there, being open to new things, new information, new behaviours, new experiences, new activities.


Open Mindedness for Psychological Well-being #MindBlown

Creative Brain.jpg

Start with becoming a “Yes Person” when it comes to trying healthy new things!

Trying something new often requires courage, but it  opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new. Trying something new forces you to grow.

Try some of these cool new things!

  • How Books Can Open Your Mind (TEDTalk)
  • Why it’s Worth Listening to People You Disagree With (TEDTalk)
    • We get stronger, not weaker, by engaging with ideas and people we disagree with, says Zachary R. Wood. He calls this process, “Uncomfortable Learning”
    • Being open-minded doesn’t mean you accept all opinions as being true or equally valid. You just listen and try to understand another’s point of view.
  • Planned Happenstance: A cool career theory, (Mitchell, Levin, & Krumboltz, 1999), that helps people generate, recognize, and incorporate chance events into your career development. Go out volunteer for something that you would NEVER expect to interested in and see what happens. This is how I found my career path! You can use this for more than just a career path, it can be used to discover what you love to do in this life. Check out this guide!
  • Mindfulness & Meditation: Foster your cognitive flexibility! Check out these great resources to help guide you though this empirically validated brain intervention: Meditation Resources and Mindfulness Resources.
  • My Favourite Brain Growth Intervention: Participate in a cultural event that is not familiar to you. This can really help you to develop your beginner’s mind (look it up…super cool!).

Minds are Like ParachutesOur opinions and ideas make perfect sense when we look at them through our own lens, and with that, the perspectives of others can sometimes seem wrong. If we want to experience positive mental health, we need to develop a better understanding of the world and other ways of doing things. There is no use in clinging to our beliefs because they’re more familiar and comfortable to us, especially if they hurt or hinder us.

The secret of Change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old,

but on building the new” – Socrates

Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Cool Resource!

What processes are taking place in our brain when we are learning?


Mental Health Problems ARE Learning Problems #YouAreNot Broken #Learning

Japanese Pottery

For any of you who have been following along with my ramblings about our wonderful adaptable learning brains, you know that I love to follow the research findings and apply them to life. The evidence is with the Psycho-Social Model of mental health and wellbeing (research says so). Meaning that we all grow up under different circumstances, in different contexts, experience different adversities and learn different things along the way. Those factors need to be considered when exploring and explaining our psychological distress and working our way through it #adapting.

We are not not broken, we are beautiful humans with a history, developing resilience along the way, with wonderful adaptive capabilities!



“Mental disorders are brain diseases caused by neurotransmitter dysregulation, genetic anomalies, and defects in brain structure and function.


…scientists have not identified a biological cause of, or even a reliable biomarker for, any mental disorder.”

Dr. Brett Deacon, 2013


So what is the alternative way of thinking? …I hear you asking…

Well, research evidence is showing up all over the place because of new technical advances like the funky fMRI machine and the ability to measure our Cortisol (Stress Hormone) and Oxytocin (Social Bonding Hormone). So yes, we can now measure the effects of exercise, being in nature, social connections and psychotherapeutic interventions, showing that our brains actually change by just doing stuff! This is the Psycho-Social Model of Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Check it out.png

Psycho-Social Model of Mental Health and Wellbeing

The psychosocial approach looks at individuals in the context of the combined influence that psychological factors and the surrounding social environment have on their physical and mental wellness and their ability to function.


A term coined by psychiatrist R.D. Laing, in The Politics of the Family and Other Essays (1971), a medical model is a “set of procedures in which all doctors are trained.” … Simply stated, the medical model treats mental disorders as physical diseases whereby medication is often used in treatment.

We Need to be Better!

If we want the stigma to subside, if we want people to grow through what they go through, if we want to empower people, we need to shift our thinking and apply the research findings to approach mental health and wellbeing differently.

That means recognizing that our mental health and well-being depends on…

the things that happen to us,

    how we make sense of those events

    and how we respond to them.

  Dr. Peter Kinderman


A Prescription for Psychiatry: Why We Need a Whole New Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Ok, Enough PsychNerdy-ness

Have I convinced you to take on this 10 week Psycho-Social Journey in Changing Your Brain?!?!


Great! come on along!

Start with thinking that you are not broken. You have just been through things, have grown through adversity and, as a human, you continue to adapt by learning strategies to positively adapt to life challenges.

Over the next 10 weeks I will be posting psycho-social related growth ideas, suggestions and strategies in 10 of the most beneficial adaptive areas for human flourishing (I think). 


10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain

  1. TODAY! 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. 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


Week #1


Learn to Tolerate Ambiguity

This means staying in uncertainty, or staying with the question, despite the discomfort of not knowing the answer, or not knowing where you are going. I know this is scary!  That is the point. Anything worth developing does feel a bit uncomfortable because it is new and your brain has not learned how to process this yet. Your brain’s job is to keep you safe, good work brain! But sometimes we need to help it to calm down when we are doing things that are just new, not dangerous.

It will take time to relinquish control, learning to enjoy the puzzle without a solution, letting life unfold while knowing that have built some skills along the way that are helpful. You can survive this yucky emotional experience! This is such an important skill for life if you want to feel less anxious. This could open up so many opportunities for you! There might be numerous ways of answering the same question or solving a problem, each with different but potentially positive results.

Check out this wonderful TEDTalk to get you started on teaching your brain that ambiguity is good and that your Amygdala (part of the fear process in your brain) is not always needed:

Some Ambiguity Tolerance Building Tips from and Excellent Blogger

Source: Tolerating Ambiguity by Maggie Dugan

It makes sense that if you can stand to hover in the gray areas between black and white distinction, you might get to a more creative outcome. But how do you cultivate this tolerance for ambiguity?

  • Stay neutral and suspend judgment.
  • Stay curious.
  • Enjoy the mess.
  • Take time.
  • Try things on.

Check out her blog post for the details 🙂

A Little Extra!

Trust Issues?

Check out this recent research:

 People More Likely to Trust and Cooperate if They Can Tolerate Ambiguity




Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

Your Phone is a Tool Not an Appendage! and Other Healthy Mind Shifts


Again, not slagging tech because any tech is AWESOME, we humans are just not so awesome, YET, at using it as a tool that we pick up and put down and walk away from.

Tech Disruption Part #3

This post is Part #3 in a three part series about mental health and your smart phone. Check out Post #1 and Post #2 to learn why reevaluating how you infuse technology into your life is important to your mental wellbeing.

Two Kinds of Tech People


In my last post I had 6 tips for helping you get you started on spending less time with your phone. I figured that you may just be a little tired of listening to a ‘digital immigrant” so I went searching high and low, through many remote places, to find just the right expert to interview, a real life digital native…just kidding, I just had to look next to me on my sofa 😉

I interviewed a real millennial, a extraordinary digital native, a human who has never seen a world without WiFi and computers/tablets (I know…super weird). Jack Snell is a 17 year old high school student who really loves watching videos on a tiny screen in the same room there is a 72″ television.

Please take a moment to check out his advice on healthy engagement with two very popular social media platforms, Insta and Snap…See! This digital immigrant can still sound cool 😉

Now on to a much more interesting Digital Native…


Handling Social Media

By Jack Snell 

Click for Full Article: Handling Social Media by Jack Snell *More Info Here



  • It allows you to share information and pictures with friends, family and that dude that you don’t know but seems like a good guy and likes all your stuff.
  • Powerful tool to create your online and real life image.
  • Instagram is just a great place to indulge in whatever you find entertaining.


  • People’s self worth can be impacted or even dictated based on the amount of followers and likes that they have.
  • Insta is a place for people to show off and make their lives appear to be better than they actually are.

How to deal:



  • Gives you a quick, easy and fun way to talk to people, and with streaks and scores it can become a real life game.
  • Because you are sending pictures AND text, you have the opportunities to use facial cues to express emotions and context that are annoyingly missing on direct messaging platforms. Emojis just don’t cut it sometimes.
  • Like Instagram, it gives you an opportunity to express yourself and your interests through what you choose to send people and put on your story.


  • As I mentioned, it can become like a real life game… and that isn’t good. I’ve been there.
  • Keeping a streak for the sake of keeping it is just weird. Yea, I’ve sent a shot of the floor or my left foot just to keep a streak alive but like… it’s so unnecessary. I doubt people in the 30’s sent blank telegraphs just for the sake of appearing to talk to each other.

How to deal:


Social media is an amazing tool to connect and express yourself with people. That being said, it can also be extremely controlling. For positive mental health AND physical health, it is essential that we all make an effort to use social media in a more healthy way. Sometimes that might even mean not using it at all.

thanks Jack.jpg

Thanks Jack!

It was great to hear your perspective and that you actively use strategies to make your social media experience healthy, fun and overall beneficial.

Great insights and advice!

When Jack is not writing about social media, he is actively posting and scrolling through Instagram pics of cars or writing about them on his blog. Check out his social media: Instagram or WordPress.


Brain NerdYou know I couldn’t end without going a bit PsychNerdy on you 😉 So you now have heard from two people, one a digital native, and me, a digital immigrant, who both LOVE technology but are actively working on integrating it as a tool and not having it negatively affect our life. There is yet another area that social media can adversely affect your life and take some of the fun out of it. Now social media is interfering with your food intake and enjoyment!

Say What?!!?

There was a study done at Bringham Young University, “Satiation from sensory simulation: Evaluating foods decreases enjoyment of similar foods“, which found that looking at many too many pictures of food may actually make the act of eating less enjoyable. 

Yes, it is called Sensory Bordom! Now that Instagram is even messing with your food along with your mental wellbeing, your social savvy and your self-esteem, you have a choice. Less time spent on this little device, which is hard, or continue and have your overall wellbeing nose-dive.



In Closing


Please know…

  • One of the big reasons that we struggle with insecurity today is that we compare our ‘behind-the-scenes’ with everyone else’s ‘highlight reel’. So, keep this “top-of-mind” when you Insta-Creep. When you start feeling icky…drop that phone! Your life IS actually interesting.
  • Being accustomed to having everything at a click means that you tend to keep your life within a comfort or familiar zone. So go out and take some little risks and try something new! Meet a friend in person.
  • You need to stop looking for the “Like Button” in your life.  This is NOT a measure of you as a person, it is a measure of social media influence/addictiveness only. How many times have you just mindlessly clicked “like” with very little emotion or thought? Why don’t you actually tell your friends that you liked their picture or, even better, that you actually like them (say it offline and in person).
  • Your life can be more vivid than it appears on the internet, if you put your phone down once-in-a-while and actually live it.



#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success