Relax your mind. Soothe your soul.

 The most important thing in your life is your peace of mind.


 Nurture it daily. Everything else flows from there. 🍂

Related Post: Taming Your Monkey Mind.

Failure is the opportunity to begin again.


What does failure mean to you?

With time, I have come to realize that failure has always been my greatest teacher. Each failure pointed me in a better direction. Helped me to develop strength and authenticity. Ultimately unveiling who I was and what I was destined to become. 

  • The failing grade I received on my first exam in graduate school taught me how to ask for support when I needed it most. No matter how shameful I felt or embarrassed I was.
  • The end of a long-term relationship taught me how to value my time alone and make tough decisions for myself. No matter how weak I felt or lonesome I was.
  • The lay off from a job I loved taught me how to let go, look forward, and trust in something so much bigger than myself. No matter how scared I was or irrelevant I felt.


What determines your reaction to failure?

Learning from failure is the ultimate goal. That said, not everyone responds to failure in the same way, at the same time.

Our reaction to failure is determined by several factors, including:

  1. The timing of the failure.
  2. The magnitude of the failure.
  3. The attribution attached to the failure.
  4. The level of support during the failure.
  5. The self-efficacy and belief in starting over.

Ask someone how they feel about failure in the midst of it; life as they know it is over.

Ask someone how they feel about failure one year later; life as they know it has been transformed.

The key to supporting someone experiencing failure is not to rush them through the healing process. Yes, in the long run, the gifts of failure outweigh the costs.  But we must be sensitive to how dark it feels in the eye of the storm. Only then can move towards the light.


Is it possible to see failure in a positive light?

Under the right conditions, failure strengthens us, adds to our self-knowledge, and enhances the quality of our lives.

  • If it weren’t for failure, I would not have met my husband John.
  • If it weren’t for failure, I would not be a psychology professor.
  • If it weren’t for failure, I would not have written three textbooks.
  • If it weren’t for failure, I would not be the person I am today.

Your turn:

  • If it weren’t for failure _______________.
  • If it weren’t for failure _______________.
  • If it weren’t for failure _______________.
  • If it weren’t for failure _______________.


How can I feel stronger in midst of failure?

Take a long deep breath. Be still. Don’t Rush.

 Find a safe place to challenge your fears & beliefs.

Rest. Take a long walk. Eat a nourishing meal.

 Learn something new. Have fun! Self-Discover.

Imagine. Envision. Explore. And….


Healing Power of Imagination.

What images give you a sense of safety and protection in the midst of fearful thoughts?


 I imagine angels in the sky and lions at my feet. You: What images shift you from fear to safety?

Related Research ⇒ The Effects of Guided Imagery on Anxiety

Set a time limit on negativity.

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is also a psychologist.💖

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

The timer principle can also be applied to how often we are negative (and positive) throughout the course of a day.

Venting feels good in the moment, but when it goes on too long, the costs outweigh the benefits.


Joy needs room to breathe.

Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge has passed. Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.

Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time. Even (especially) when life gets tough.

Balance is key.

Negativity is to be expected. It’s part of the human experience.

The question is – how long will you stay there.

Share your challenges. Share your obstacles. Share your difficulties.

But also leave room for what’s good in your life.


Joy needs room to breathe. And so do you.💫

Writing in One Word.

In One Word: Describe how you feel when you write.


Writing makes me feel ALIVE!

For me, writing is all encompassing.

The words become the beat of my heart.

The words become the oxygen I breathe.

The words become all that I touch, feel, and see.

For me, writing is all encompassing.

I am the words. And the words are me.


How does writing make YOU feel?

Related Post: Happiness in One Word.

I believe in you.

As a psychology professor (and former school psychologist), I talk about mental health issues with students every single day.

My classroom is a safe place for students to be themselves.

Which is critical when working with youth (18-24) who represent the highest proportion of individuals with mental illness.

Education helps bridge the gap between fear and freedom.

And so does an open heart. And an open mind.

I believe in my students. In their potential. In their dreams.

I believe in their ability to overcome challenge, adversity, and self-stigma.


Students need my support and encouragement.

And an educational community that truly cares.

Because self-stigma is real. 

And often more silencing than social stigma.

Because sharing our story is one of the scariest and most liberating things we’ll ever do.

Be it about mental illness or another vulnerable part of our lives.

Which is why the best place to open up the conversation about mental illness is to meet students where they are.

These are their words.


“See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see.” Wayne Dyer

 Ontario student mental health resources and information ⇒ Visit the Yellow Umbrella Project website.

What makes you smile?

Did you know that today is World Smile Day?

It’s the first Friday in October every year. (October 7 in 2016.) Curious about this very cool day? Check out the World Smile Day website. It’s filled with articles, history, and fun events happening around the world. Smiling rocks!


Let’s Celebrate World Smile Day Together

For the next 24 hours (or 5 minutes), make a list of all the things that make you smile. Big smiles. Small smiles. Sly smiles. Goofy smiles. Anything and everything in between.

Smiling Builds Stress Resilience

The healing power of smiling works every which way. Smiling works in private. Smiling works in public. Smiling heals the sender. Smiling lifts the receiver. Smiling even changes your brain.

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine they see all day.”

Teaching St. Clair College students all about psychology makes me smile! 

Don’t forget to share your list of what makes you smile today. Every time you smile, I smile.🍃

What’s your stress threshold?


Learning from each other.

My favourite part of blogging is the discussion with fellow bloggers about the posts themselves.

Recently, a blogger asked an excellent question regarding tipping points and stress response. And if there is such a thing?

I love questions like this because they encourage me to dig deep, reflect, and imagine new ways of perceiving stress.

Stress Thresholds.

Tipping points and thresholds are often used synonymously in the literature. Especially when discussing economic, historical, and ecological phenomenon.

That said, there is a clear distinction between thresholds and tipping points in psychological applications.

Thresholds are more individual (unique to each person), while tipping points are more universal (shared by the majority).


Which is why I see each person’s stress response as more of a stress threshold than a tipping point.

  • Thresholds vary from person to person (e.g., Type A vs. Type B), situation to situation (e.g., Work vs. Personal), and are based on individual strengths, challenges, and personal history.

See diagram above to help understand how thresholds affect your individual stress response. This graphic also depicts why a certain level of stress (below threshold) can be good for you.

  • Assess when you cross the threshold from your optimal stress zone (eustress) into your overload stress zone (distress).


Situational Stress and Thresholds.

In addition to overall stress response patterns, thresholds differ from one situation to the next.

Situational fluctuations in thresholds reflect our strengths, challenges, and personal preferences.

We may be good at some things, but we are not great at everything.

  • For example, the more challenging academic work is for me (high stress threshold) the more I flourish. (Above Left Photo) ❤️📚
  • While this is not the case with other areas of my life (low stress threshold) and thus I tend to react (too quickly) when under pressure in certain personal situations. (Above Right Photo) 😂😩
Techniques for staying in your optimal stress zone.

From Negative to Positive Stress.

Finally, I believe that our ability to cope and thrive under pressure is a lifelong practice. Something that is never mastered – only strengthened.

And the more we learn about life and ourselves, the higher our thresholds will become. As the majority of our stress is beating ourselves up – long after the stressor is gone.

Related Post: Thriving Under Pressure


Questions for Your Reflection.

  1. How does your stress threshold differ from others?
  2. In what situations is your stress threshold lower vs. higher?
  3. When (if ever) is stress good for you?
  4. How can this post help you be more accepting of yourself when stressed?

“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.” Mary Dunbar

Positive psychology in the classroom.

What is Positive Psychology?

“While traditional psychology focused its attention on pathology and problems, in the relatively new field of positive psychology, researchers strive to explore and understand the strengths of individuals and communities that contribute to their flourishing.” Psychology Guide.

Strengths first.

I am passionate about what positive psychology can do for students and educators in and out of the classroom. By first focusing on what is right, before examining what is wrong, students are motivated to move beyond, and in some cases, be transformed by their current limitations, history, and circumstances.

Link to: VIA Character Strengths Inventory

Balance is key.

Positive psychology is not about being happy and successful all the time. Instead, happiness is aspirational like a delicious meal at a 5 star restaurant. Wonderful but not to be expected, at every meal, all the time. (Otherwise, we set ourselves up for disappointment on the Kraft Dinner days.)

Instead, the field of positive psychology helps bring out the best in us. In a balanced way. The ebb and flow of life. Negativity is to be expected. The question is – how long do you stay there.


Safe uplifting atmosphere.

As a professor, I believe it is paramount to create a safe and uplifting atmosphere in the classroom. A secure and consistent milieu where students know what to expect class to class, week to week, semester to semester. A place where students are encouraged to build upon their existing strengths, while feeling supported enough to share their current struggles.

Link to: Broaden & Build Theory of Positive Emotion

As I teach mostly nursing students, it is critical that I practice what I teach in and out of the classroom. Nursing students will also be responsible for creating an encouraging and safe space for their clients one day.

The yellow t-shirts are from the Yellow Umbrella Project, an Ontario wide college campaign for battling the stigma of mental illness on campus.


 Positive psychology and student empowerment.

My highest goal is to work with young Canadians in a way that empowers and encourages them to become the best version of themselves. Cultivating success in a way that is unique to them. I believe that interactive lectures combined with warmth and real-life stories is the best approach for achieving this goal.

Link to: The Optimism Project

The photo below is from a leadership conference for college students where I discussed the connection between optimism and student success.


Celebrating students every chance I get.

Ultimately, I hope to remind students of their gifts. While encouraging them to embrace their challenges. For we are the sum total of all that is powerful and vulnerable – within and around us. And it’s this extraordinary combination of strong and weak, good and bad, light and dark, that makes our world (and our classrooms) such a fascinating place to live (and thrive).


Lay down your burdens.

No more futile tests.

No more unrelenting trials.

No more self inflicted tribulations.

Lay down your burdens.

Let. Them. Go.


Take a breath. Take a rest.

You have strengthened from your burdens.

You have overcome great obstacles.

You have developed. You have grown.

You have earned your way ten times over.

Now is the time to trust in yourself.

Red anemone on a grey floral background

Now is your time to thrive.🌹

Related Post: I've never met a strong person with an easy past.