2020 Life Lessons: Be Strong Enough To Be Gentle

Lockdowns have us spending a lot of extra time with the ones we love.

Especially during the holidays.

And if you’re anything like our household, it requires a whole new level of relationship skills.

A deeper level of empathy and compassion for the pressures of the people we are living with.

Helpful Tips: Psychology Today

What worked before, doesn’t necessarily work now.

And if it does, it takes more patience, more compassion, more love.

For ourselves and others.

Emotionally Intelligent COVID Conversations

How does this show up in our home?

Emotional Intelligence: Resources

One approach that has helped tremendously is how I ask to have my needs met.

Not what I say but how I say it.

Same message.

Different Approach.

A new level of gentleness.

Power versus Force

Kindness versus Conviction

The beauty of this 2020 life lesson is that when I am strong enough to be gentle: I am heard.

What life lessons has 2020 taught you?

Video of Blog Post: Click Here

CPR: Catch Triggers Before They Escalate

Community Health

I recently did a virtual keynote at the Healthy Workplace Awards 2020 Ceremony.

News Release: CTV News

Given all we are collectively going through, I thought the notes and video from the presentation would be helpful to everyone.

Especially as we wrap up 2020. A year where we collectively experienced one of the most monumental global events in history.

A time of rapid change, adaptation, and transformation.

Virtual Keynote Talk

During the 14 minute virtual keynote, I shared a Framework for Sustainable Resilience and Mental Health called Catch Pause Repair (CPR):

CPR includes 3 steps:

1. Catch

Catch yourself in the midst (or before) before a stress response escalates by becoming more aware of what triggers you.

What Are Your Stress Triggers? 
Self Test Here

2. Pause

Pause and take a 60 second time out when you feel the physical sensations of stress begin to escalate.

One Minute Meditation
Relax Here

3. Repair

Repair the root source of the heightened stress response which is often physiological in nature. Possible unmet needs include: sleep, food, fresh air, exercise.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 
Overview Here

CPR in Your Life

  1. How do you catch triggers before they escalate?
  2. How often do you pause throughout the day?
  3. Which of Maslow’s five needs require repair?
Watch CPR Presentation: Click Here

Shine your light

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I used to think of life purpose as some great big grand scheme for life, something we spend our whole life chasing after. Daunting for sure. At times overwhelming.

Then one day I realized that life purpose was a series of small, fleeting events, rather than one great big span of life. Bite size in fact.

It’s the one thing we love doing, time and time again. Over and over. Day by day. It’s the one thing we love sharing. Moment to moment. Breath by breath.

RELATED POST:
Don't confuse purpose with occupation

What make’s your heart sing?

For me it’s making the person right in front of me (no matter who they are) feel like the most important person in the world.

Engaging fully, completely, in every conversation I have.

No matter how long. No matter how short.

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REFLECTION QUESTION:
What makes you come alive?

I love making someone’s day brighter.

  • Whether it be lifting the spirits of my psychology students.
  • Encouraging a barista at Starbucks.
  • Smiling at runners on the trail.
  • Leaving my sister an uplifting voicemail.
  • Opening the door for someone at the grocery store.
  • Listening intently to my husband at the end of a long day.

Mission for this Moment

My hope for today is to make you feel like the centre of my universe. One smile at a time. One conversation at time. If only for a moment. Sometimes for a lifetime.

Because you matter.

More than you’ll ever know.

Simple Soulful Practice

How I Light Up My Day

Sometimes we need a quick, fun, and easy way to elevate our mood. Suggestion: Angel Cards A simple, soulful practice that takes a (bite sized) moment. Now my friends ask me to bring angel cards to all our coffee talks. Even if we’re sitting 8 feet apart! These light-hearted cards guarantee a shift UP in conversation. From the mundane to the magical.

What lights your way today?

Enjoy Every Moment

Never let the things you want make you forget the things you already have.

Nothing Lasts Forever.

Good or Bad.

Enjoy Every Moment.

Embrace it.

Be it.

See it.

Everything you appreciate is you reflecting back.

Homework for Today

Look Around You.

Notice Things Like You Are Seeing Them for the Very First Time.
Watch Video Of Post: Click Here

Anger is a sign that something needs to change.

Anger Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com

Individuals are often looking for healthier ways to express their emotions.

For Example: Anger

That said, it’s not as simple as becoming “more calm” or “less explosive”.

The first step in transformation and lasting change is looking below the surface.

The Kübler-Ross Model provides insight:

5 Stages of Grief and Change

The goal is to discover if angry thoughts, actions, or emotions are serving a purpose.

Is anger helping or hurting?

How is anger serving you

Why Anger?

Perhaps anger allows someone to speak up, say no, set a boundary, or bond with friends.

And if this is the case, the goal of psychology coaching is to help clients replace confrontations (for example) with more effective communication patterns.

PSYCHOLOGY HOMEWORK

Anger → Awareness

First: Set aside time to journal thoughts and emotions about “hot topics”. This allows for a cooling off period and a chance for self reflection and integration.

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Second: Plan a mutually beneficial time to discuss anger triggers and solutions with friends and family.

This 2-step communication technique results in safe, open, and engaging conversations that move both relationships and actions forward. Win Win!

Reflection Questions

  1. What Purpose Does Anger Serve in Your Life? Gains versus Losses?
  2. Does It Strengthen or Deplete You?
  3. Does Anger Move You Further Away from Your Dreams or Closer to Your Dreams?
  4. What In Your Life Needs To Change?
  5. Do You Need More Effective Ways of Coping with Frustration and/or Loss?

Once you understand the underlying purpose anger serves in your life, you’re ready for the next stage in the change process:

Transition and Transformation

Change Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com.

Psychology Resources

  1. New Conceptualizations of Anger: https://www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/advances
  2. How Anger Affects the Body: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/the-mind-body-connection/202007/what-causes-anger-and-how-it-affects-the-body
  3. Healthy Anger Release Techniques: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-release-anger
  4. Assessing Motivation To Change: https://drandreadinardo.com/2018/08/18/why-change-now

Compassionate Listening

Even as a psychologist, I often don’t know what to say.

Especially now with so many people experiencing pain and trauma in escalating ways.

So rather than assume what someone needs, I have learned over the years to ask one simple question:

How Can I Support You?

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Empathic Listen

In doing so, I create a safe space for healing and acceptance.

Something we all need right now, more than ever before.

Unconditional love and support.

To be witnessed. To be heard.

All good conversation begins with listening.

Only then can we transformed by what we learn. 🌎💞

Video of Post ⇒ Click Here

Psychology Insights: Self Criticism to Self Compassion

Why are we so hard on ourselves DrAndreaDinardo.com

WHY ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES?

Great question!

One that I’m asked often. And one that I often ask myself.

PSYCHOLOGY INSIGHTS

What causes this behaviour?

The answer is multifaceted and includes several factors including how we were parented (when internalized superego and conscience first develops) and eventually how we parent ourselves.

For example:

When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

1. Self Criticism versus Self Compassion

2. Self Control versus Self Love and Understanding 

PSYCHOLOGY SOLUTIONS

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How do I make the shift from self criticism to self compassion?

1. Pay attention to where your self judgements originated.

Is this your personal measure of worthiness or society’s expectation of success?

2. Investigate how truly arbitrary the standards you set for yourself are.

For example, who said you had to weigh 125 lbs, have a million dollars in the bank, and be married by 30?

3. Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

  • Watch this short video for additional insights into the developmental origins of toxic self criticism, unrealistic standards, and the SUPERego.

“Be kinder to yourself. And let your kindness flood the world.”

Rethink Time Management

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Psychology of Time

Everyone experiences time differently.

Because time truly is relative.

Changing from situation to situation.

For example:

Time perception also varies from person to person.

For example:

Type A versus Type B

Time Defines Us

Taken one step further, time defines who we are, and ultimately who we become.

How we live our days is how we live our lives.

Moments → Hours → Days → Months → Lifetimes

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Mindful Time Management

Which is why the more conscious and aware we become about how we spend and prioritize our time, the more meaningful and satisfying our lives will become.

Time is Money Video

Concrete Examples of Time Usage

Rethink Time

Identify 5 ways you spend 100 units (dollars) of time each day. (As illustrated in the video)

  • For example: gardening (20 units), reading (20 units), writing (20 units), cooking (20 units), complaining (20 units)

Compare and contrast your “money time sheet” with family and friends.

When does time slow down for you? When does time speed up for you?

  • Do you lose “track” of time easily?
  • Is time something you consciously pay attention to?

Are you more influenced by external measures of time?

  • Or an internal “sense” of time?

internal clock.

Has your use of time changed since COVID?

Has your perception of time changed with age?

  • If so how?

The trouble is, you think you have time.

Jack Kornfield

Watch Video of Blog Post → Click Here

Acceptance: Your Peace Depends on It

Shift your focus.

Change your life.

Acceptance and peace go hand in hand.

peace

Consciously accept the good and the bad that exists in your life.

The rain and the sunlight.

The shadow and the light.

acceptance

Accepting what is does not lower the bar.

Quite the opposite.

Acceptance shines a spotlight on your inner strengths and endurance – independent of outer circumstances.

Strengths that were fostered in the eye of the storm. ☔️

Courage. Creativity. Wisdom. Perseverance. Faith.

This very moment in time.

And it’s that good feeling that motivates you to strive for more of what’s right for you. Instead of fighting against what’s wrong for you.

HOW DO I MAKE THE SHIFT?

Begin by accepting what is.

Moment by precious moment.

Your happiness depends on it.

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Applying this Post in Everyday Life

The 3 to 1 positivity to negativity ratio is one way of applying this post in your everyday life.

Specifically, each time you criticize an area of your life (or something about yourself personally), write down three positive aspects about the very thing you condemned. Hence, the 3 to 1 positivity ratio.

Journal Reflections DrAndreaDinardo.com

For example, each time you get down on yourself for not working during the COVID-19 pandemic, write down three benefits of sheltering in place. (E.g., more time for fitness, the space to try out new hobbies, meaningful conversations with family members). This daily practice helps to dampen the adverse impact of negativity bias, a type of cognitive distortion, common to all of us.

FOMO JOMO DrAndreaDinardo.com

Likewise, stop comparing your lowlights to other people’s highlights. You never know what’s happening behind the scenes in another person’s life. Good or bad. FOMO is “a story” fabricated in the mind based on snippets of observable behaviour (video below).

Reflection Questions

  1. How has COVID-19 eased (or increased) the pressure you put on yourself and the people around you?
  2. What does acceptance “feel” like physically in your body versus fighting “what is”?
  3. What have you surrendered lately? Let go?

You Can’t Add More to Your Life Without First Letting Go

Let Your North Star Guide You

My Wish For You Today

May you find peace in your home.

And calm in your heart.

No matter the storm.

PEACE is an inside job. DrAndreaDinardo.com

Psychology Thought for the Day

The goal isn’t to get rid of all our negative thoughts and emotions.

The goal is to change our response to them.

To accept them without judgement.

To transcend them when the time is right.

e·qua·nim·i·ty

Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. “She accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity”.

This video may help:

Let Your North Star Guide You 

How do you rise above? 💫

Watch Video of Post → Click Here

The Power of Breathing Space: You are Safe

Every time we take a long deep breath, we are telling our bodies that we are safe.

Each breath connecting
our mind, body, and heart.

Bringing us back to present time.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Breathing Space

Breathing Techniques To Try

Follow Your Breath Become aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Focus on the sensations you feel as air passes through your nose and throat. When you feel your thoughts drift, gently redirect your attention back to your breath.

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Stand Up Straight Posture is especially important for breathing. Being upright enhances the rhythmic movement between the diaphragm and ribs. Hold yourself straight. Shoulders back. Feel the power of your breath.

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Think Reassuring Thoughts While Breathing With each breath, think soothing thoughts (“I am inhaling calm”). With each exhalation, imagine that you are expelling your fears and worries (“I am exhaling worry”).

earth

Abdominal Breathing Breathe through your stomach. Start by inflating your belly by inhaling, as if to fill it with air, then swell your chest; as you exhale, first “empty” your stomach, then your chest.

Breathing Quotes - Dr. Andrea Dinardo

Balanced Breathing At the end of each inhalation, pause briefly while slowly counting “1, 2, 3”. Hold the air in. Then slowly exhale counting “1, 2, 3”.

Source: Scientific American

Reflection Questions

What brings you peace during uncertainty?

What gives you strength?

Breathing Video → Click Here

Celebrate how far you’ve come.

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Today let’s celebrate all the dreams that came true.

Merely an idea 5 years ago.

It’s so easy to get lost in our hopes and motivations for the future.

Without realizing how many of our aspirations we’ve already achieved.
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Together let’s honour how far we’ve come.

Only then will we have the fuel + the faith to keep reaching for our North Stars.

Again and again and again.. 🙏💛 🚀💫

Don’t Give Up!

You are closer than you know. ✨

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

Mindful Moments in California

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We’re on a trip to California for our December birthdays and wedding anniversary and I couldn’t imagine a more mindful place to be.

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Nature everywhere we look.

Luminous moonlight.

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Dancing campfire.

Fresh ocean air.

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Water as far as the eye can see.

Sunshine in every nook.

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100 year old fig trees.

Just outside our hotel room door.

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Mountains in the distance.

Waiting to be climbed.

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Above all, I am most grateful to wake up each day and share my life with John, my students, and everyone reading this post.

December birthday blessings of the highest kind.🎄💚

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

CPR: Sustainable Mental Health Habits

Dr. Andrea Dinardo MENTAL HEALTH HABITS

sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty
/səˌstānəˈbilədē/

The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

Catch Pause Repair (CPR) is a Framework for Sustainable Mental Health & Resilience Habits.

CPR includes three simple steps as outlined in the video below:

1. Catch

Catch yourself in the midst (or before) before a stress response escalates by becoming more aware of what triggers you.

2. Pause

Pause and take a 60 second time out when you feel the physical sensations of stress begin to escalate.

3. Repair

Repair the root source of the heightened stress response which is often physiological in nature. Possible unmet needs include: sleep, food, fresh air, exercise.

DrAndreaDinardo.com QUOTE

Supporting Student Health

Requested by

The CPR Presentation  was developed for the St. Clair College Student Sustainability Group as part of their initiative for supporting the health and wellbeing of college staff, faculty, and students.

New Opportunity

This was the first time I’ve been approached to make a video for a third party. And it was so much fun!



			
					

5 Simple Stress Relief Techniques

Life is complicated. Stress management shouldn’t be.

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5 Simple Techniques

1. Breathing Space

2. Gratitude

3. Mindfulness

4. Movement

5. Perspective

Repeat Daily. 💙

More Tips → Thriving Under Pressure

Peace lives here.

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Peace happens in moments.

Not days.

Not weeks.

Not years.

Hot coffee.

Cozy blankets.

Birds singing.

The sun rising.

Peace happens in moments.

Not days.

Not weeks.

Not years.

Savour the sunshine.

Taste every morsel.

Dance with abandon.

Stroll by the moonlight.

Peace happens in moments.

Not days.

Not weeks.

Not years.

Breathe deeply into this moment.

Peace lives here.

Happiness and Healing in Present Time.

You have the ability to make positive changes in your life.

Right here. Right now.

Don’t wait for “the perfect time” to transform your life.

NOW IS YOUR POWER.

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5 Ways to Focus Better | The Drive Magazine

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Why Can’t I Remember Anything?

One of the most frequent questions I was asked as a practicing psychologist and more recently as a psychology professor is why can’t I remember anything.

The problem is most likely a focusing issue — not a memory issue.

An important distinction between memory and attention that I share my Fall Focus Article in The Drive Magazine. And again, in more detail, in the focus video below.

In the video in particular, I describe how the Atkinson–Shiffrin memory model (see model below) differentiates between sensory, short-term, and long-term memory.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo - Focus Article.6

And the important implications this model has for one’s ability to focus and remember information long term.

You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things.


Link to Fall Focus Article

5 Ways to Focus Better

Issue 124. The Drive Magazine.
Click Here: thedrivemagazine.com/posts/5-ways-to-focus-better

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Click Here: YouTube Understanding Memory

Thanks for your attention!

Dr. D 📚

FOMO ANXIETY Simple Tips for Feeling Better

This post is for anyone experiencing FOMO. Particularly on a long weekend holiday!

Psychology Insight:

Holidays heighten social anxiety of every kind.

FOMO especially.

Consider these questions as you explore what’s going on below the surface.

1. Do you remember the first time you experienced FOMO?

2. How did you cope with the anxiety of missing out?

3. What if anything would you be willing to give up in your life in exchange for the fantasy of someone else’s life or experience?

4. What about your life do you cherish above all else?

Please share in the comments below, including your own strategies for handling FOMO. I’d love to know!

Savour this moment.

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Free Yourself 🦋

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EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE

1. What would you stop doing if you only had one year to live?

2. What would you start doing if you only had one year to live?

3. What do you need to let go of to feel a sense of happiness, well-being, and peace? 

4. What and who do you no longer want to be obligated to?

5. What joy do you wish you had more time for?

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CONTEMPLATION TIME

Take a long deep breath and meditate on your answers. You’ll be surprised at what your soul has to say.

YOU GET ONE LIFE.

Make it yours. 

Dear Readers:

This video is equally a note to you + me reminding us to live with discernment and wisdom. For not everyone in our life appreciates the limits of our time and energy. And that’s ok. For we are the magic wand. We have the power to make choices. We have the ability to overcome social conditioning. We have the authority to change what and who we want in our lives. What and who we give our energy to unnecessarily, repeatedly, unconsciously.

WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE.

This ^ is freedom.

Body Image: Don’t Believe Everything You Think 💭

Perception versus Reality

I was motivated to write this post and film the accompanying video after witnessing so many of my students overwrought by feelings of inadequacy regarding their body image and self worth.

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There was no doubt that in reality they were healthy and whole, but in their minds, they believed the opposite.

 The Antidote

The following is a set of questions that challenge irrational perceptions and cognitive distortions using reality itself.

The inquiry is not limited to body image and weight and thus can be applied in any areas where you find yourself caught in a repetitive thought loop.

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Reality Testing Homework:

  1. How do I know if this thought is accurate?
  2. What evidence do I have to support this thought or belief?
  3. How can I test my assumptions/beliefs to find out if they’re accurate?
  4. Do I have a trusted friend whom I can check out these thoughts with?
  5. Is this thought helpful?
  6. Are there other ways that I can think about this or myself?
  7. Is it really in my control?
  8. Am I overgeneralizing?
  9. Am I making assumptions?
  10. What would I say to a friend in this situation?
  11. Can I look for “shades of gray”?
  12. Am I assuming the worst?
  13. Am I holding myself to an unreasonable standard?
  14. Are there exceptions to these absolutes (always, never)?
  15. Am I making this personal when it isn’t?

Source: Challenging Cognitive Distortions

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Related Research & Articles

1. Past visual experiences weigh in on body size estimation. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-18418-3#Sec2

2. The image in the mirror and the number on the scale: Weight, Weight Perceptions, and Adolescent Depressive Symptoms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3610322/

3. Perception versus reality of body weight: Which matters most. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032713002905

4. How social media contributes to body dysmorphia. https://www.thelexingtonline.com/blog/2018/5/7/how-social-media-contributes-to-body-dysmorphic-behaviors

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REFLECTION QUESTIONS

What are your perceptual filters?

Rose coloured? Perfectionist? Overachiever?

How often do you TEST reality?

Do you believe everything you think?

Click Here to Watch Video

DrAndreaDinardo.com

Finding the light.

How do you start the day?

Do your morning routines lighten you up?

Or bring you down?

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Early morning rituals spark the divine in me.

No matter the day. No matter the moment.

Angel cards, hot coffee, and mindfulness take me there.

Fueling my creativity. Illuminating my path. Shifting me higher.

Today’s Angel Reading — Click Here

Early morning rituals call forth the peace in me.

No matter the day. No matter the moment.

Angel cards, hot coffee, and mindfulness take me there.

In this sacred space I breathe in deep, let go, and freely release…

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Early morning rituals affirm the courage in me.

For I have finally found the light in me.

Ready to share ☀️ with all that I meet.

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Reflection Questions

How do you rediscover the light inside? What morning rituals shift you to a higher place?

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Happiness: What deters it? What contributes to it?

The Happiness Class

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One of my favourite things to do as a professor is to stay after class and talk to students. They look at the world in a very unique way. Motivating me to think about psychology at a whole different level.

  • Especially when it comes to FOMO and happiness:

FOMO is an acronym for fear of missing out, which is a feeling of anxiety that manifests itself in various ways, from a brief pang of envy to more intense feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy. Source: Macmillan Dictionary

Student Insights

In the video below I share the insightful questions my psychology students asked about social comparison and happiness today. Each question underscoring the famous quote:  

Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Happiness, FOMO, and Social Comparison

FOMO and “measuring happiness” against each other’s’s lowlight reel (difficult times) and highlight reel (celebratory times) was also an active discussion on social media

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I would love your insights too!

How would you answer the questions posed by my students:

  1. What are 2 deterrents to happiness?
  2. What are 2 contributors to happiness?
  3. How is your happiness influenced by other people’s highlights and lowlights?
    • Social comparison and happiness was the crux of today’s class discussion and accompanying video.
  4. What simple changes can you make today to enhance your happiness?

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Optimism Bootcamp - Click Here

One Minute to Mindfulness: Look Up

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From Restless to Restful

I look up every chance I get. First thing in the morning. On my run. On my way to work. In between classes. Out for a bike ride. From the skylight in my office. On the front porch before I go to sleep.

Connected to Something Bigger

The sky connects us to something much bigger. Challenges seem small in comparison to the vastness of the sky. Solutions seem plausible. Answers come more easily.

One Minute to Mindfulness — Click Here

Peace in Every Glance

The stars heighten our awareness, expand our field of possibilities, and relax our mind. In their presence, we embrace the profound and surrender the pettiness.

When we look up, we become fully present. In the moment. Completely mindful. Nowhere else to be but one with the sky.

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Reflection Questions

What are your mindfulness tips?

How do you transcend your restless thoughts?

How often do you look up?

Are you a star gazer or a sun worshipper?

Do you see pictures in the clouds?

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Video of Blog Post — Click Here

Your emotions have a message for you.

Create space for feelings to flow.

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Emotions are neither good or bad.

Only labeling makes it so.

Don’t run from challenging emotions.

Instead, lean in and ask:

“What are you trying to tell me?”

Witness. Observe. Learn.

The best part is how small fear appears close up!

We must go in — to get through.

Helpful Article with Strategies

Click Here:  Lean into lonelinessDriveLoneliness