Positive Psychology Speech: Cultivating Mental Health

Positive Psychology in Education

This month I had the opportunity to give a speech on positive mental health practices to 700 people at the Greater Essex County District School Board in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Audience Members

The audience was comprised of education support staff and front line workers, including Education Assistants, Child and Youth Care Workers, Developmental Services Workers, Teachers, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Principals.

Sample PPT Slides

Cultivating Mental Health

Community Collaboration

Dr. Marc Crundwell, the chief psychologist with the school board, and I began working on this event on March 23. Which is why I am excited to share a video of the presentation with you today.

It’s been a long time in the making!

Click Here to Watch

Surprised and Delighted

The best part is that I found out moments before the speech that several students that I taught years earlier at St. Clair College would be in the audience.

Ripple Effect

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.

Ryunosuke Satoro

Links to books, articles and research shared during speech

  1. PERMA Theory, Research, and Origin Story
  2. Strengths Finder Books and Assessments
  3. Steering by Starlight by Author Martha Beck
  4. Embracing Change – Interview, Blog Post, and Article
  5. If Questions for the Soul by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell
  6. Dr. Andrea Dinardo: Thriving Under Pressure | TED Talk
  7. Thriving Under Pressure: Speaking and Training Services
  8. Flow Theory of Happiness and Positive Psychology
  9. Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions
  10. Drive Magazine Article: Cultivating Mental Health Daily

BEHIND THE SCENES

Cultivating Mental Health: Speech

Laughter is the Best Medicine — It Relieves Stress

What consumes your mind consumes your life

We live in a world weighed down by tragedy and adversity.

And we have been conditioned to believe that tragedies require tragic mindsets and hardships demand hardened spirits.

We also live in a world overflowing with abundance and joy.

But we cannot see the good from the bad when we are blinded by what weighs us down. Often resulting in one-sided fixed perceptions of reality.

Solution

Shift your focus

Change your life

How?

A shift in focus can happen in a number of ways.

Laughter. Gratitude. Awe. A long deep breath.

Laughter Yoga: Watch Here

Why Laughter?

1. Laughter breaks the panic spell.

The not enough mindset. The woe is me attitude. The negativity downturn.

2. Laughter melts the stress away.

3. Laughter connects people in present time.

Friends and strangers! Think of the last time you laughed out loud with a cashier in the grocery line. For me, it was last night.

4. Laughter is good for our health.

It benefits our mind and our body.

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Today’s Homework

have fun

Be kind to your mind

Remember who you were before life weighed you down.

Dance a little dance. Be a goofball with friends.

Respond to hard times with a light heart and an open mind.

Nourish your soul.

Leave room for grace.

Laughter is an instant vacation to a better place!

Video of Post: Watch Here

Lighten Up in 2022 — Positive Emotions & Problem Solving

“Your heart is the light of this world. Don’t cover it with your mind.”

Lighten Up in 2022

The solution to a problem is rarely found in the source of the problem. 

This is why it’s important to lighten up before tackling difficulty.

Problem Solving from a Higher Place

Positive emotions heighten our awareness and open our minds to creative, innovative solutions.

An approach I share during optimism bootcamp, a community psychology event based on a magazine article of the same name.

Optimism Bootcamp Workshop

Broaden and Build Psychology

This broaden and build approach to problem-solving is based on the research of Dr. Barbara Fredrickson. Discussed in detail in her book Positivity.

According to Dr. Fredrickson, thriving happens with a ”positivity ratio” of 3 positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion.

List of Positive Emotions Click Here

A compelling concept in positive psychology applied to work performance and advancement in a recent article by Dr. Barry Robinson in Forbes magazine.

Applying the 3-to-1 Positivity Ratio

In the video below, I share simple ways to create positive emotions (joy, awe, serenity) during pandemic adversity and opportunity.

Lighten up in 2022 with

Long Term Benefits of Positivity

“The benefits of positive emotions do not stop when the initial good feelings subside. In fact, the biggest benefits are an enhanced ability to solve problems and develop resources for life.” Dr. Barbara Fredrickson

Empowering Conversations About Change

The Psychology of Change

During this week’s health psychology lecture, we talked about the psychology of change, including the parts of our lives that remain ‘unchanged’ during rapid and unexpected change.

What Remains During Change?

  1. The Sun Still Rises
  2. Coffee Tastes Delicious
  3. Trees Greet You on Your Walk
  4. Favourite Movie Still Delights
  5. Bed is Comfie at the End of the Day
  6. Street You Live on Hasn’t Changed
  7. Love for Family and Friends Endures
CHANGE > ANCHOR > ADAPT > TRANSFORM 

Your Turn

Consistency

Make a list of what remains consistent in times of rapid change and use it as a grounding technique at the start and end of each day.

Grounding

In doing so, you anchor and ground yourself in a sense of knowing and trust in your built-in strengths and happiness.

Motivation

Flying starts from the ground up. The more grounded you are, the higher you fly.”

Psychology Videos on Change

Resilience Articles & Speeches

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo. Far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.”

Psychology Articles on Resilience

After a two year hiatus, I am excited to share that I have returned to writing the PSYCH DRIVE column for The Drive Magazine.

Topics include mental health, motivation, wellness, stress, resilience, and positive psychology.

You can read my latest PSYCH DRIVE article below.

3 Ways to Bounce Forward

The Drive Magazine, Issue 137, Fall 2021

READ SEPT 2021 PSYCH DRIVE ARTICLE
Click Here

READ ALL PSYCH DRIVE ARTICLES TO DATE
Click Here

Psychology Talks on Resilience

In addition to writing for The Drive Magazine, I also offer virtual and in person keynotes and workshops on stress, resilience, and mental health.

A sampling of these psychology talks are shown below.

Resilience is the ability to use personal strengths and support systems to cope with pressure and difficulty.

Psychological life skills that can be learned and improved upon daily.

THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE TEDx Talk
Click Here

What helps you adapt to change?

What helps you adapt to rapid, unpredictable, unexpected change?

I asked this question of student leaders at a province wide conference pre 2020. See their answers on the chalkboard below —

My Answer

GO SMALLER

One day at a time.

One hour at a time.

One class at a time.

Microseconds sometimes..

Your Turn

How do you keep moving forward?

What helps you adapt to change?

Interview: 5 Ways to Embrace Change

Psychology Talks on Resilience and Growth

Dr. Andrea Dinardo is a psychology professor and TEDx Speaker, who specializes in positive psychology.

Her work focuses on energy and time management, thriving under pressure, and cultivating psychological resilience.

A framework for mental health and motivation used throughout her workshops, presentations, and keynote talks.

Additional Speeches:
Click Here

Resilience Articles: 
https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/optimism-bootcamp

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/three-ways-to-bounce-forward

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback

Additional Articles:
Click Here 

Catch Pause Repair (CPR): Sustainable Resilience Model

Healthy Workplace Awards

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

Watch Video: Click Here

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

News Release: CTV News

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.

SUSTAINABLE RESILIENCE

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 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

Does Your Self-Talk Energize You or Drain You?

How we talk to ourselves matters.

Especially at the start of a brand new day.

Our thoughts are the lyrics to our daily soundtrack after all.

A topic I talk about with love and laughter in this video workshop:

Psychology Homework:

The One Day at a Time Approach

Step One: Awareness

Begin by WAKING UP to your inner dialogue tomorrow morning.

Notice the first thing you think of when you look in the mirror.

Is it loving? Is it kind?

Step Two: Mirror Affirmations

Write an encouraging quote for yourself on your bathroom mirror.

At a loss for words?

Pick any one of the quotes you’ve shared with the world on social media this past year and post it for yourself on your bathroom mirror.

It only takes one thought, one word, one smile, one song, to change a life.

Begin with your own.

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.

Watch Video: Click Here

Energy Awareness and Management

What we give energy to impacts everything.

Thoughts. Emotions. Actions. People.

Some drain. Others invigorate.

Awareness is the first step to enhancing vitality.

The goal is to identify the source of energy leaks and peaks.

Where to start?

My recent interview on FM 105.9 The Region was designed to help people become more conscious of what depletes their energy and what lifts them up.

A health psychology practice that benefits mood, motivation, and productivity.

Because when we feel energized, we can do twice as much in half the time.

Rather than focusing on time, which is finite, I suggested to radio host Candace Sampson that we turn our attention to energy management, which in turn expands the amount of time we have.

Watch Interview:

What She Said Talk on FM 105.9 The Region

3 Energy Management Tips

Tip #1: Debits and Credits
(Energy Audit)
Daily Tracking System of Who and What Depletes You
Tip #2: Put a Time Limit on Negativity
(Stove Timer)
Conscious awareness of how much time with friends and family is spent on complaining (draining) versus solutions (energizing).
Tip #3: Energy is Everywhere
(Combat Boots Anchoring Exercise)
Energetic grounding rituals before interacting online.
*All 3 tips described in detail in both a) the August 20 energy video above and b) the extended September 1 podcast interview below.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How do you manage your energy throughout the day?
  2. Is energy something you consciously pay attention to?
  3. What is your energy level on a scale of 1-10 right now?
  4. What and who drains you?
  5. What and who energizes you?
Video of Blog Post: Click Here 

Situational Anxiety Interview

Mental Health Matters Interview

Situational Anxiety

Dr. Katherin Garland

Host of Mental Health Matters

This week, I speak with one of my dearest blogging friends, Dr. D!

We discuss all things anxiety. She explains the difference between anxiety disorder and situational anxiety.

Dr. Dinardo provides 3 strategies to help us cope with situational anxiety, especially because it may be heightened during the pandemic and times of racial unrest.

1. Video Format of Interview

Watch on YouTube.

2. Podcast Format of Interview

Available on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.

Reflection Questions

  1. What did you learn about situational versus clinical anxiety from our interview?
  2. Can you relate to the personal example of heightened situational anxiety shared by Dr. Garland? How so?
  3. Have you experienced increased situational anxiety since COVID-19? In what areas of your life?
  4. What techniques help you cope with unexpected stressors and challenges?
  5. Do you see failure as a positive or a negative? Why?
  6. How does fear, trepidation, and worry manifest physically in your body?
  7. What would you tell your younger self about stress and anxiety?
Watch Anxiety Video: Click Here 

What Trauma Taught Me About Happiness

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Trauma

Is it possible to feel joy in the face of adversity?

Strength during the lowest of lows?

Creativity in the midst of destruction?

Peace in difficulty?

Vibrancy during cancer?

Happiness during COVID-19?

In the video below, I share some personal examples from my own upbringing on how my parents found strength and contentment during even the darkest of times.

Your Thoughts:

Can trauma and happiness coexist?

I’d love to hear your ideas, theories, and personal stories.

Video of Post → Click Here

Ambitious Mama Podcast: Thriving Under Pressure & Posttraumatic Growth

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Ambitious Mama Podcast

Podcast Details & Show Notes

I was recently interviewed by wellness entrepreneur Christa Realba for her Ambitious Mama Podcast Series.

During the podcast, Christa and I discussed how posttraumatic growth and thriving under pressure are possible for all of us.

In different gradients, and at different times for sure. Depending on where you are on your journey.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo PTG Resources
Click Here for Helpful Workbook & Resources

We also discussed how we all have pain and adversity. It’s universal to all of us.

The key is to not get stuck in the challenge and let pain become your identity.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Resilience

Instead, with support, encouragement, and the right set of resilience skills (this is what I teach), we all have the capacity to grow from difficulty.

To learn from it. To rise up and begin again when the time is right.

In addition to the podcast, resilience is discussed in more detail in my TEDx Talk and on my Psychology Blog, both called “Thriving Under Pressure”: https://DrAndreaDinardo.com

Listen to Podcast

  1.  Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/thriving-under-pressure-with-dr-andrea-dinardo/id1482282864?i=1000464930886
  2. Anchor FM: https://anchor.fm/ambitiousmama/episodes/Thriving-Under-Pressure-with-Dr–Andrea-Dinardo-ealagi
  3. Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ambitious-mama/e/67169349

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Your Turn

Do you believe thriving under pressure + posttraumatic growth are possible for all of us? Why or why not? Tune into my latest podcast interview and let me know what you think!

Related Post: Teaching Resilience at School

Posttraumatic Growth: Can Adversity Be Good for You?

Psychology Keynote

In this video you will hear the remarkable stories of teachers, social workers, and principals who suffered greatly through illness, injuries, and difficult pregnancies.

Eventually rising up with time and support to greater heights in their current lives.

Personal Experience

In this video I share examples of how my parents coped with dark times when I was a child.

And how these early experiences became the blueprint for my work in adversity, positive psychology, and growth.

What is Posttraumatic Growth?

Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is defined as positive personal changes that result from a survivor’s ability to cope with trauma and its psychological consequences.

The process of post traumatic growth can lead to

1. improved relationships

2. more compassion

3. openness

4. appreciation for life

5. spiritual growth

6. personal strength

7. renewed sense of possibilities in the world

Source: http://www.ptsdassociation.com/post-traumatic-growth

Key Factors and Outcomes

Source: APA Monitor

Assessment and Resources

  1. PTG Assessment: Post-Traumatic-Growth-Inventory
  2. PTG Research Articles: https://ptgi.uncc.edu/
  3. American Psychological Association (APA): Growth After Trauma
  4. PTG Interview: https://anchor.fm/ambitiousmama/episodes/Thriving-Under-Pressure-with-Dr–Andrea-Dinardo-ealagi
  5. PTG Workbook: The Posttraumatic Growth Workbook: Coming Through Trauma Wiser, Stronger, and More Resilient
Source: PTG Workbook

Psychology Reflection Questions

1. Do you believe the benefits of adversity outweigh the negatives?

2.  Which factors hinder an individual’s ability to recover and bounce back?

3. Which factors enhance an individual’s capacity for resilience and posttraumatic growth (PTG)?

4. Is the recovery and resilience for physical health trauma the same or different as mental health adversity? Why or why not?

5. Is posttraumatic growth possible for everybody?

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Speech Video → Watch Here 
Personal Video → Watch Here

5 Ways to Cultivate Mental Health Daily

In this psychology article, published in The Drive Magazine, I share simple ways to cultivate mental health daily.

Instead of thinking of mental health as a burden you must shoulder, imagine it as an opportunity to experience peace and joy.

In the same way that we make time for our physical needs, we must devote equal attention to our psychological needs.

Prevention-Header

Where do we begin?

P E R M A Model of Well-Being

PERMA..

PERMA is a framework for happiness and well-being developed by UPenn professor Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology.

The model contains five key indicators of human flourishing: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement.

Positive Emotion

Feeling good is an essential part of well-being.

That said, it’s easy to get lost in a spiral of negativity — What’s wrong? Who’s to blame? Why did this happen to me? Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and fun.

Which is why it’s essential to schedule good vibe moments into each day.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Begin the day with inspiring quotes on your bathroom mirror.
  2. Create a spa atmosphere for morning coffee with music and candles.
  3. Listen to upbeat music and podcasts on your way to work.
  4. Start conversations with your dreams, not your stressors.
  5. Put a 20-minute daily time limit on blaming and complaining.
  6. Go to bed visualizing three new things you’re grateful for that day.

Joy needs room to breathe.

And so do you.

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Engagement

Remember when you were a kid playing with friends, and before you knew it the street lights came on? If it wasn’t for your mom yelling your name, you would be outside playing all night long. In that moment, you were in a state of flow.

flow

You were completely engaged in what you were doing, independent of everything around you.

Your mom could have called your name for hours, and you wouldn’t have heard a word.

One hundred percent of your attentional capacity was taken up by the activity right in front of you.

Most likely you still experience a state of flow and engagement, but not as often as you like.

Activities that create a flow state include:

  1. Writing
  2. Dancing
  3. Music
  4. Art
  5. Sports
kickbox

Engagement and flow are important for mental health. When you’re completely absorbed by a task, your mind has no capacity left over for distressing thoughts and emotions.

Relationships

Social support is an important buffer for life’s challenges.

That said, not all associations are created equal. Some relationships, unfortunately, lead to a deterioration in mental health.

Which is why CHOICE is an especially powerful tool when it comes to relationships, well-being, and happiness.

Consider the following when you spend time with people:

  1. Do you feel uplifted or drained?
  2. Do you feel listened to or ignored?
  3. Do you feel encouraged or criticized?
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Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.

Meaning

Meaning comes from serving something bigger than ourselves.

Whether it be family, charity, occupation, or community, meaning unites us in a common vision and gives us the will to get through adversity.

Students Are My North Star
why motivation.jpg

That said, meaning can appear elusive to some, so why not consider one purpose each day.

Begin with a typical workday. Choose one purpose, and do something to give meaning to that purpose.

I’ve listed a few options, as well as an example for each:

  1. Pick one person — thank a custodian for their hard work.
  2. Pick one place — post uplifting notes and quotes on a section of the wall.
  3. Pick one time — declare 3 pm gratitude hour.

 Achievement

Achievement is the final component of the PERMA model, and, in many ways, its foundation. Goals give us a sense of achievement and satisfaction, helping us to know if we are headed in the right direction.

The key is to balance our drive and determination with the right level of difficulty. If we set a goal that’s too easy, we get bored. If it’s too hard, we experience learned helplessness.

too hard

The solution?

Set daily goals that are achievable and tied into your highest dreams.

In Conclusion

Cultivating mental health daily prepares us for the big things in our life. Every little bit counts, everything adds up. Small things on repeat change the world.

Video 1 of Blog Post  Click Here
Video 2 of Blog Post  Click Here

Hope changes everything.

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P ain

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During difficult times, I often tell myself “What a difference a day makes.”

This one simple sentence helps me to remember that tomorrow is a brand new day.

Illuminating the possibility that what looks like the end in that dark moment, could in fact be preparing me for a whole new destiny.

This video and blog post were inspired by a very dear friend of mine experiencing unexpected health problems.

And how during treatment she often says that it’s my positivity and upbeat nature that brings her to a higher place.

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My friend knows what’s wrong.
I remind her of all that is right.

”Together we rise.” 🙏☀️

Share with me:

What gives you hope during difficult times?

Video of Blog Post: Click Here

Optimism Bootcamp: 3 Steps to Empowerment

Nathalie Begin author of the Gutsy Feeling Blog invited me to give a positive psychology workshop called Optimism Bootcamp at a Symposium for Crohn’s & Colitis Canada.

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The audience was filled a very special group of people. Individuals that have been battling the chronic condition of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) their whole lives.

Optimism and Health Empowerment

What’s IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of conditions, the two main forms of which are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD also includes indeterminate colitis.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that inflame the lining of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and disrupt your body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrition, and eliminate waste in a healthy manner.

Source: Chrohn’s and Colitis Canada

Health Warriors

Individuals with chronic health problems such as IBD often feel a sense of helplessness and disempowerment over their bodies.

Which is why teaching concrete strategies for focusing on what’s within one’s control (beliefs and attitudes; deep breathing; present moment awareness) and letting go of what’s not (waiting times; IBD diagnosis; doctor availability) is so important.

Believing you can is half the battle.

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Optimism Research

Research in health psychology shows that optimism and having hope in one’s future has a significant impact on whether patients follow through on medical advice.

Optimism has also been found to improve overall quality of life, well-being, and happiness of cancer patients.

Click Here for Research on Health, Hope, and Optimism

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Good News!

Optimism Can Be Learned

The good news is that optimism is a skill that can be learned.

  1. Optimism / pessimism are not fixed personality traits that someone is lucky (or unlucky) enough to be born with.
  2.  Optimism / pessimism are states (not traits) that are malleable and open to change.
  3. Optimism / pessimism are attributional styles that can be taught and reinforced over time.

Additional insight on how our minds work

Excerpt from Optimism Article:

Using Attribution Theory, I can tell a lot about someone by the way they interpret the events that happen in their lives, particularly the explanatory style they use in analyzing setbacks versus successes.

attribution theory table

The pessimist perceives failures as personal, permanent, and pervasive, and thus has difficulty moving beyond setbacks. They often get lost in a recurrent loop of negativity.

In contrast, optimists see setbacks as universal. to everyone, temporary in time, and limited to one or two areas of their lives.

Source:  Dr. Andrea Dinardo, The Drive Magazine

Optimism in Our Community

Hope changes everything. It transforms pessimism into optimism. It changes winter into summer, darkness into dawn, descent into ascent, barrenness into creativity, agony into joy.

Daisaku Ikeda
Read Optimism Bootcamp Article: Click Here

Positive psychology on campus

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.” Source: 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
Optimism Bootcamp with Student Leaders

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.

PositivePsychologyQuote.DrAndreaDinardo

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.

YellowUmbrellaProject.DrAndreaDinardo

 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: Positive Psychology Interview

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

Optimism Bootcamp with Student Leaders.2

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.

Repost from July 5 2017
DrAndreaDinardo.com

Mental Health Awareness & Education

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In Celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month in Canada

In this video, I share an overview of my latest psychology article in The Drive Magazine (May, Issue 121). An issue devoted entirely to mental health awareness, treatment, and prevention. With the ultimate goal of ending the stigma of mental illness.

Instead of thinking of mental health as a burden to be shouldered, imagine it as an opportunity to experience peace and joy. In the same way that we make time for our physical needs (eating and sleeping) we must devote attention to our psychological needs.

Excerpt from The Drive Magazine, Issue 121, pages 58-60.

happybucket

Building a mental health reserve

In the psychology article and in the video below, I discuss the importance of daily self-care as a preventative and restorative health strategy using the PERMA Model of Well-Being.

In the same way we save money to buy our dream home, it is critical that we contribute daily to our mental health bank account. Health is wealth after all!

Everything little bit counts. Everything adds up. Spa coffee dates especially. ☕️💗

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Read Magazine Article ⇒ Click Here
Well-Being Workshop ⇒ Click Here

Optimism Bootcamp Workshop and Article

OPTIMISM BOOTCAMP: Overcoming Learned Helplessness

is a dynamic, interactive psychology workshop

based on an article I wrote for The Drive Magazine

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1/ Optimism Article

 https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/optimism-bootcamp

2/ Optimism Bootcamp - April 2019

https://youtu.be/z_DNIWYh6vE

3/ Optimism Bootcamp - August 2019

 https://youtu.be/LgACYyFv2YQ

Lemon Soul Podcast: Thriving Under Pressure

The Psychology of Wellness

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed on the Lemon Soul Podcast by an engaging and bright young woman named Sierra Parr.

It was one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on and I hope you find the same value in listening to the podcast as I had co-creating it with Ms. Parr.

What is a Lemon Soul? 🍋

A lemon soul is someone who has been sweetened by the sour parts of life. Resulting in the most beautiful soul of all – “The Lemon Soul”.

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The Lemon Soul Experience 🍋

Sierra’s podcast questions are timely, thought-provoking, and well-organized.

With equal parts practicality, spirituality, and science. Wrapped up in a captivating and compassionate interview style.

So much so, that I revealed parts of my life that I have never shared publicly before.

Take a listen and let me know what resonates with you!

Lemon Soul Podcast: Episode 15

 Tap on Image Below and Press Play

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Thriving Under Pressure: Psychology of Mental Wellness

Listen on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/lemon-soul/id1386504193?mt=2&i=1000432857445

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SHOW NOTES FROM LEMON SOUL PODCAST 🍋 

Very honoured to sit down with Dr. Andrea Dinardo this week and divulge all my lemon soul questions with her. A true testament to her work as a psychologist and now psychology professor, this episode is FULL of good advice! With a deeper insight into many of our mental health struggles and the science behind how our brain is working. Furthermore diving into Dr. Dinardo’s personal life as she uncovers her fundamental inspiration for everything she does in life, her sister.

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Lemon Soul Podcast on iTunes

Topics covered on the podcast:       

From psychologist to psychology professor!
How to motivate students!
Why connection is important.
Compassion fatigue
The givers & the takers
Setting boundaries for others and ourselves.
Thriving Under Pressure!
Failure as Feedback!
Are we socialized to care?
How to train your brain
Challenge, Control, & Commitment
Honour your pain!
B r e a t h i n g s p a c e !
The universe box

Claiming your prize
GET MOVING!

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I hope this podcast interview inspires you to take the road less traveled this week.

The one you have been waiting to take for days, months, perhaps years.

If not now, when?

Listen Here: Lemon Soul Podcast

Women with Drive Summit

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Mental Health & Happiness Speech

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day I had the opportunity to speak at a Windsor Summit called Women with Drive.

A local conference organized by a young woman named Cierra Bray, who poured her heart and soul for months into planning, organizing, and promoting the exhilarating two-day event.

“Educate a girl, and you educate a community.” 

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All Photos by Charlie O’Brien

When asked to describe the conference to those who were unable to attend, I summed it up in three words: beautiful, heartwarming, and informative.

And even more than that — my favourite takeaway from the Women with Drive Summit was the empowering community Cierra Bray, the organizer, created.

Including weekly WWD newsletters and face-to-face reunions for all who participated.

For gatherings aren’t meant as a means to an end. Instead, they are just the beginning for all that is yet to come.

Heal. Learn. Grow. Succeed.

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“Expand your knowledge by expanding your community.”


LESSONS LEARNED

From an Audience Member 

 For all 7 lessons, visit GutsyFeeling.com

Ms. Nathalie Begin shares her lessons below:

PROTECT YOURSELF

Dr. Dinardo explained to us all about positive psychology while sharing with us some of the struggles she faced earlier in her career as a psychologist.

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The main focus of her discussion was about protecting yourself from everyone’s problems.

One of the main things that Dr. Dinardo struggled with years ago was protecting her own mental health when she had all of these patients who needed her help.

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She taught us that we should be focusing less on the PROBLEMS in our lives, and more on strengths and goodness in our lives.

When someone comes to her with a problem, she believes it is best to speak 15 minutes about the problem, and 45 about the solutions, strengths and goodness.

Dr. Dinardo explains that we must build on what is STRONG, not on what is WRONG.

If you spend too much time talking about the problems, you will never find a solution.

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She also explains that we must protect ourselves from other people’s  problems.

We should be respectful of other peoples time and energy, and ensure that it is okay to talk about our problems with other people. (We often word vomit our problems onto so many people in our lives and this is not okay to do all the time.)

Dr. Dinardo explains one of her favorite practices is the 10 minute timer. She allows friends to vent for 10 minutes, and after that time it is over.

Overall, it is important that we protect our energy and respect others energy in order to stay sane and happy.

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All photos by Charlie O’Brien

Together we rise.” 💞

International Women’s Day: Who Inspires You?

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#internationalwomensday #rolemodel

Growing up my Mom, my mentor, and the first psychologist in our family, didn’t talk a lot about women’s empowerment.

— She lived it.

Gracefully. Quietly. Courageously.

Today, and all days, I am grateful for a role model who began her journey from challenge to strength with incredible will and a heart of power.

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A first time mother at 18 years old, the jumping off point for all that would unfold.

“How did you do it?” I ask frequently to this day.

A single mom in her twenties.

One of few women working on our street.

Criticized openly for leaving her kids during the week and going back to graduate school in her 40s.

I lean in often for her wisdom, inquiring:

“How did you rise above all the naysayers and critics?”

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Her response:

When you really, really want something Andrea, you become singularly focused, no time, no energy, for anything else (4 kids keep you busy).

“Sure it hurt, she says.”

”But my mission was always greater than my misery. And this is when I knew what I was truly meant to do.”

Everything else became white noise.

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A teacher, a leader, and a mother who teaches me how to live with equal parts grace, fortitude, and tenderness.

Someone who shows me how to pay my good fortune forward.

Every chance WE get. 💃❤️💃

Who inspires you today?

Thriving Under Pressure — Leadership Training and Development

Fitness is more than physical.

Recently, I was invited to do a Leadership Training and Development Workshop at a local kickboxing club.

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The ultimate stress release.

This is where I go to cool my jets and find my joy. So, I was more than excited to take the leadership team’s mental fitness up to the next level!

From surviving to thriving.

During the mental fitness training session, I discussed how the 3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure from my TEDx Talk could enhance the performance and well-being of the Kersey Kickbox Team.

Commitment – Challenge – Control

Using personality assessment, team mapping, and real-life examples, I harnessed the team’s many strengths to benefit both the club’s membership and the trainers themselves.

Hope you enjoy the video too.

What’s your mantra?

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This is my mantra.

I write it on my bathroom mirror. I post it on my refrigerator door. I tape it to my office wall. I speak of it every time I teach.

These 4 words remind me to focus on what’s good, what’s working, what’s infinitely possible. Even (especially) when everything is going wrong.

Focus on the good.

Because if I can find one good thing in the course of a day, I have found my reason to live, to love, and to lead.

Sometimes the blessings are obvious. Sometimes they’re hidden. Sometimes it’s simply breathing. Other times “it’s the moments that take my breath away”.

Mantras wake us up.

Mantras work because they wake us up. Snap us out of it. They carry us from the perpetual loop of our worries to the equanimity of present time.

For we all need a gentle nudge in the right direction. A loving reminder to come back to reality.

Or we’ll all be too busy looking down that we miss the beauty of what’s right in front of us. Life itself. 💙

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What’s your mantra?

Related Post: Happiness in one word.

The Drive Magazine Interview.

Happy Monday Everyone!

I am excited to share my interview with The Drive Magazine on positive psychology and stress resilience. Inspired by my TEDx Talk: Thriving Under Pressure.

The 3 C’s of Positive Psychology

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My favourite part of this photo is the story behind it.

When the magazine was arranging the photo shoot, they asked where my favourite place to recharge was in Windsor (Ontario, Canada). I shared that it was a top of Blue Heron Hill overlooking Lake Heron and Lake St. Clair. So you can just imagine the photographer hiking his equipment up the hill, with me tagging along in my wedge high sandals!

But the reward was worth it..
All you can see is blue for days. My favourite colour and place. 💙🍃

I hope this interview encourages you to keep shooting for the stars and believing in your dreams.

Ultimately reminding you that the power within you will always be greater than the challenges around you.

Click on The Drive Magazine to read the full interview.

Health and Happiness.

Reflection Questions

When someone asks you “What makes you happy?” does your answer differ from “What makes you healthy?”

Do you consider your health requirements essential and your happiness needs selfish and superfluous?

Or perhaps you rate health and happiness as equal and interdependent.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Related: Is Happiness a Choice?

Shifting Positive on a Stressful Day

“Every day might not be good, but there is something good in every day.”

In psychology class this week, I teach one of my favourite subjects – Stress, Coping, and Health Psychology Chapter 11 in my psychology textbook.

I purposely teach this topic during the height of midterms. Raising awareness about the healthy (and not so healthy) ways students manage stress is critical for building resilience.

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Shifting Negative ⇒ Positive

One of my top 10 techniques for shifting students from stress to strength is to share what’s going right even (especially) when things are going wrong. Small uplifts in the course of the day change everything. Fleeting. Unexpected. Goodness.

Based on my experience as a school psychologist, I will never deny the stress students are under. Witnessing adversity is an essential part of moving through itHowever, I choose not to remain in the territory of “what’s wrong” for too long.

What We Focus on Expands

Once we acknowledge what’s wrong. We open our eyes to the grace that takes place throughout the day.

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“Good things are always happening. The key is to notice them.”

Students make the shift from powerless to empowered by sharing ordinary joys happening in their lives.

A radiant smile from a fellow commuter. Free coffee at McDonald’s. An unexpected A on a paper. A sweet parking spot. Spending time with an old friend. A surprise compliment from a stranger. Laughing out loud with fellow classmates. A really good night’s sleep.

And I’m the fortunate professor who gets to hear all these uplifts at the end of a long, rainy day. One more reason why I love working with students.

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How do you shift positive on a stressful day?

Related Post: Put a time limit on negativity.

How do you prepare for work each day?

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

I value positivity and a sense of security in the classroom, above all else.

For it is only when students feel safe, supported, and uplifted are they motivated to learn.

Creating a harmonious classroom atmosphere happens long before the school bell rings.

Which is why my preparation for teaching psychology includes both energetic and intellectual preparation.

Ultimately, the more relaxed and happy I am, the more calm and content my students will be.

I am grateful for every student I teach and I want to make sure that they get the best of me.

Energetic Preparation for Teaching = Exercise

Intellectual Preparation for Teaching = Textbooks 

How do you prepare for work each day?

1000 views on the official TEDx site!

I am so excited to share that my TEDx video hit 1000 views today! 🎥

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A BIG thank you for watching and sharing my TEDx talk with your friends and family. We are stronger than our stress. This I know for sure. Together we will thrive under pressure. 💥

Click on TEDx Video → Thriving Under Pressure

TEDx Video: Thriving Under Pressure

Good news to share!

I have been working on a TEDx project with the University of Windsor TEDx team since last year. And just an hour ago, I received the good news that the finished video was uploaded to the official TEDx site today! So pumped!

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In my TEDx Talk I discuss how to THRIVE under pressure using 3 stress resilience tools: challenge, control and commitment.

The purpose of this talk and my blog is to help students develop positive coping techniques in fun, interactive, and uplifting ways.

By first focusing on what is right, before examining what is wrong, students can be transformed by their challenges and adversities. 🌴💚

If you like, please share this TEDx video with friends and family on social media. The wider its reach, the more people I can help thrive under pressure!

May Your North Star Light Your Way. 💫

The key to happiness.

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Let go of what is outside your control.

The next time you are gearing up for another fight with reality. Winter; Traffic; Parking; Deadlines. Try rolling with it. Surrendering to what is. Letting go. No matter the circumstances.

Hold on to what brings you joy.

In surrendering, you save precious energy for the joyful in your life. The meaningful in your life. The soulful in your life. Including this very moment. This is where happiness lives.

Related Post: Letting Life Flow.

TEDx Photos: Diamonds from Pressure.

“Don’t tell people your dreams. Show them.”

I am excited to share an interview, photos, and a short video clip from yesterday’s TEDx Event at the University of Windsor. It was one of the most positive speaking experiences I’ve ever had. Truly magical.

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TEDx Dr. Andrea Dinardo

 

TEDx Videoclip

 

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TEDx Organizers

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My Psychology Students 🍏

TEDx Slideshow

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TEDx Dr. Andrea Dinardo

TEDx Dream Team

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Team TEDx

Thank you for letting me share my dream of being on the TEDx stage!  The official TEDx video will be posted soon. 🎥

Related Post: How I prepared my TEDx Speech.

TEDx Preparation: Diamonds from Pressure.

I have some exciting news to share! I was recently chosen to be a TEDx speaker for the University of Windsor TEDx Event on Sunday, January 28, 2018.

The theme of the event is “Diamonds from Pressure”.  Which fits in beautifully with my psychology blog — Thriving Under Pressure.

 

What are TEDx Talks?

“A TEDx event is an independently operated, community driven event. The talks are no more than 18 minutes in length, are idea-focused, and cover a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder – and provoke conversations that matter.” Source: Ted.com

TEDx Preparation in Six Steps  

The process of preparing a TEDx Talk has been quite different from any other keynote or seminar I have given.  I have maximum 18 minutes to convey an original idea. So I have no choice but to get right to the point. Which is a very good thing!

Step 1: Create an Outline  

In developing my speech, the first thing I did was create a storyboard for my TEDx script. (see below) I set it up like scenes in a movie. 5 scenes. 3-4 minutes per idea. 🎥

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The purpose of my TEDx Talk is to help people thrive on their journey from stress to strength.

Step 2: Let Your Ideas Flow

This is where you let your imagination run free. Luckily inspiration flowed in from everywhere! So much so that while at the movies last month, I was struck by an idea with only a movie napkin nearby. So I did what all writers do, I wrote on whatever material I could find. Hoping to capture one fleeting burst of insight.

 

Step 3: Edit TEDx Script

In case you’re wondering, there are approximately 2500 words in an 18 minute TEDx speech. Thus I have been equally busy downsizing, condensing, and editing my scriptFocus is the goal. Less is more! 

Step 4: Rehearse Rehearse Rehearse

Practice your TEDx speech as often as you can. In the mirror. On your run. In the car. At the mall. In front of anyone who is willing to listen. Stay open to feedback. As much as you can. Record yourself and listen back. This is especially important for hitting the 18 minute time limit. I used an audio to text dictation iPhone app called TEMI that helped tremendously.

 

Step 5: Take a TEDx Break

Now complete, it’s time to rest and enjoy some”Breathing Space“. As unrelenting work rarely fosters positive energy. Best to gear down before gearing up for the big TEDx day. Sign me up for a movie night, a kickboxing session, and a homemade dinner. Doctor’s orders. ♥

Step 6: Test out TEDx Red Carpet

TEDx Diamonds from Pressure is just 10 days away. The outline, the structure, and the body of TEDx complete. The stories worked out. The edits made. Just one last dress rehearsal on the TEDx stage!

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Hope to see you all January 28 2018!

TEDx Official Video: Thriving Under Pressure

See the light in others and treat them as if that’s all you see.

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Your strengths light my way. ✨

The field of positive psychology has been a blessing for me, both personally and professionally.

By focusing on strengths first, I buffer myself against the  vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue often associated with the practice of psychology. And in turn, my positive approach heightens the resilience and stress hardiness in others. (Boomerang effect!)

Everywhere I go, I’m on the lookout for genius. And I don’t mean genius in the general sense. I mean strengths, assets, gifts, capabilities, multiple intelligences that are unique to each person. (Einstein’s quote below captures it perfectly.)

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For not only is strengths finding essential for illuminating the abundance in others, it is essential for harnessing the bounty in ourselves.

As each time we witness the light shining brightly in another, we see their radiance reflected back in ourselves.

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Reflection Questions

Identify 2-5 strengths that you witnessed in others today. Describe how seeing the strengths in others brought out the strengths in you.

  1. Today I discovered my brother’s ___________.  This illuminated my:
  2. Today I noticed my colleague’s  ____________.  This bolstered my:
  3. Today I uncovered my neighbour’s  __________.  This reinforced my:

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Related Post: Positive Psychology on Campus.

If you need help with finding the good in others especially the challenging people in your life click on this this link to a great article in Psychology Today.

Better to bend than break

When life changes direction, are you able to change with it?

Are you flexible and open to new experiences?

Are you able to break free from old patterns and habits?

Or do you struggle to adapt to anything new and different?

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Flexibility and Change

In this interview on CBC-TV, Chris Hyndman and I examine the psychology of change. Including how individual differences (e.g., Type A vs. Type B, Optimist vs. Pessimist) impact how we respond to change. We also share 5 ways to embrace change. Including staying open and receptive to new beginnings and unexpected opportunities.

How to Embrace Change: Watch Here

Flexibility and Resilience

At the beginning of my TEDx: Dr. Andrea Dinardo: Thriving Under Pressure | TED Talk I describe how the flexibility of palm trees helps them adapt and ultimately be strengthened by hurricanes.

How to Thrive Under Pressure: Watch Here

10 Concrete Ways to Become More Open and Flexible in Everyday Life

  1. Wake up one hour earlier to enjoy some unexpected quiet time.
  2. Exercise at night instead of in the morning.
  3. Try gluten-free or vegan to support a dear friend.
  4. Swap your favourite hobby for something brand new.
  5. Sit in a different spot in the classroom than you’re used to.
  6. Drive a different, more scenic way home tonight.
  7. Meet three new people in your community this week.
  8. Trade television for library books for one month straight.
  9. Go to sleep on the opposite side of the bed.
  10. Spend the weekend silent and completely word free.

Do the opposite of what you normally do.

Stay Open to the Possibilities: Watch Here

Every time you smile, I smile.

 Did you know that today is World Smile Day?

It’s the first Friday in October every year. (October 6 in 2017.)

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Small gesture. Big impact.

I smile a lot. So much so, that one of my coworkers calls me “smiley” and almost everyone else I know (including my mom) calls me “sunshine”.☀️

What about you? Are you known as the smiler at work and in your family too?

Why do I smile so much? 1) I love brightening someone’s day, 2) As an extrovert, I’m wired to smile, 3) I have a lot to smile about, and 4) Smiling feels so darn good!

So it’s no wonder that I love this very cool day dedicated to smiling. If you’re also interested, you can check out the World Smile Day website. It’s filled with articles, history, and fun events happening around the world. Smiling rocks!

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Fascinating research on smiling.

Smiles are more than skin deep.

Have you ever wondered why you can’t help but smile back when someone smiles at you? And why it feels so good when someone (strangers included) smile. It turns out that smiling is linked to a specific type of neuron called mirror neurons.

“Neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, MD, who with his colleagues at the University of Parma first identified mirror neurons, says that these neurons could help explain how and why we “read” other people’s minds and feel empathy for them.” Source: APA Monitor

The ripple effect of positivity.

Mirror theory helps us understand why emotions are so contagious. Just like mirrors reflecting back visual images, mirror neurons cause us to instinctively mimic the facial expressions and emotions of others. Simply seeing someone smile generates a community chain reaction of positive emotions and behaviour.

One more reason to share your good vibes with the world.

Every smile helps!

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Smiling is good for your health.

Need more reasons to smile?

Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when you smile. An opiate like structure that is the chemical equivalent of morphine. Smiling has also been shown to reduce stress hormones and rewire the brain.

No wonder smiling feels so awesome!

Let’s Celebrate World Smile Day Together

For the next 24 hours, make note of all the things that make you smile. Big smiles. Small smiles. Sly smiles. Goofy smiles. Anything and everything in between.

Just writing about what makes you smile – will make you smile. I guarantee it.

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Teaching college students all about positive psychology makes me smile!

Don’t forget to share what makes you smile today.

Every time you smile, I smile.

What’s the best thing that happened to you today?

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Shifting students positive.

So many students come to class anxious and stressed out. The last thing on their minds is learning. Which is why I start each class by asking students what’s the best thing that’s happened to them today.

Reflection ◊ Connection ◊ Motivation

Their answers fascinate me. And give me insight into what motivates them. From simple to profound. From food to relationships. From money to purpose. From grades to destiny. And everything in between.

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Less stress. More learning.

Interacting with students in fun and uplifting ways brings laughter and lightness to the classroom. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Yet it creates a significant shift in student stress and comfort levels.

Students need to feel safe. Students need to feel heard. Showing them you care (while having fun) works every time. Only then can the real learning begin!

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 Shifting students from stress to empowerment.

One question. One conversation. One class. At a time.🍎

Back to school!

Today marks my 15th orientation with BScN nursing students at St. Clair College.

 

No matter how many years I attend Fall orientation, it feels like the first time.

No matter how many times I work with students, it never gets old.

Their first class is my first class.

Their struggle is my struggle.

Their victory is my victory.

Students are my reason why.

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And so today marks the beginning of something great.

Another fresh start.

Another set of dreams.

Another opportunity to change (student) lives for the better.

Related Post: Shifting Positive on a Stressful Day.

We were made to thrive.

Unless someone is going through a major life tragedy, I rarely, if ever, lean in and listen to someone’s day-to-day hassles.

Instead, I choose to give energy to their strengths not their struggles. To their light not their shadows. To their purpose not their pain.

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Because I know deep down in my heart that each challenge makes us stronger, each failure makes us wiser, and each daily stressor reminds us that we are alive!

Related Post: I believe in you.

Thriving Under Pressure

How can two people experience the same stressful event and react in incredibly different ways?  What explains the difference between stress thrivers and non-thrivers?

Research shows that some individuals possess a set of resilience skills and traits that allows them to flourish in response to stress.

“Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with stress. They understand that setbacks happen and sometimes life is hard and painful. They still experience the emotional pain, grief, and sense of loss that comes after a tragedy, but their mental outlook allows them to work through such feelings and recover.” Source: Living Well

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Building Stress Resilience

Stress hardiness is a pathway to resilience – the ability to remain healthy and strong during stressful and challenging times.

Hardy individuals transform stressful circumstances into growth opportunities by reframing adversity and taking direct action in response to stress.

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Bouncing Back from Adversity

In the video below, I describe the 3 key components of stress hardiness:

1. Control

– Focusing on the things you can change and letting go of the things you can’t.

E.g., “You hold the key.”

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2. Challenge

– Reframing stressful challenges as opportunities for growth.

E.g., “Strength Training.

3. Commitment

– Envisioning a higher purpose above and beyond the immediate stressor.

E.g., “Ask yourself why you started.

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Each component a critical factor in cultivating the ability to bounce back and thrive under pressure.

Can Stress Hardiness be Learned?

Yes! Research demonstrates that not only can stress hardiness be learned, it has wide-ranging applications in health and wellness, including:

1. Lowering test anxiety in high school students.

2. Reducing perceived stress in college students.

3. Protecting against war-related stress in Army Reserve forces.

4. Improving resilience and coping skills in stressed out professionals.

Watch this live event where I teach “teachers” how to help students become more resilient in stressful times.

Video of Post: https://youtu.be/NUh9qqA0x3Y

PODCAST Respecting the Process

Do you trust the process / evolution of your life?

Do you stir the pot before it boils? Do you open the oven before it bakes?

Or do you relax on the sofa trusting the recipe and the time it takes?

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Not long ago, I was interviewed by Adam Rochon on the topic of transformational change.

During the podcast interview, Adam and I explored a different way of thinking about change.

A more uplifting and empowering take on transformation.

Adam and I discussed how the key to lasting change isn’t to push yourself harder.

The key to lasting change is to understand yourself better.

To accept yourself more. And to judge yourself less.

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Trust the timing of your life.

Your good and bad habits did not develop overnight.

And neither does transformational change. 

Ultimately to grow, we must trust, let go, and learn to respect the process.

Excerpt from my interview with Adam Rochon: “For me respecting the process in my own life and in all the people I’m blessed enough to meet, is to realize the process is so much bigger than I am. It is our destiny. It is the 100 years – if we are ever that lucky to live on this earth. Whatever we experience, good or bad, is just a day in the life and that we need to pay attention to where we are. When we get stressed out, overwhelmed and are going through a lot of changes, take a step back and realize that there are so many forces at work that are greater than we are – which is the process. When we Respect the Process everything just falls into place. It sounds simple, but you need to just let go of what you don’t have control over and be inspired by the process.” Episode #15: Transformational Change.

Click here for access to full podcast interview. 🦋

Teaching Stress Resilience at School

How can educators help foster stress resilience in their students?

We all have stress. It’s a universal human experience. The key is to not let stress become our identity.

Instead, with and open mindset and the right set of resilience skills we have the opportunity to reach a whole new level of purpose and well-being.

Stress Resilience for Success

At the start of my stress presentation  at the guidance counsellors forum, I discuss how resilience begins with a strength mindset. And equally that openness to challenge is essential for success.

Too much time in our comfort zone stalls growth.

Feeling safe is important. But we shouldn’t consider it a resting place. More of a launching pad!

Reframe openness as a verb and challenge your students to try something new today.

Learn More:

TEDx Talk Thriving Under Pressure

Is Happiness a Choice?

The Happiness Question

Have you ever wondered why some people remain upbeat and positive despite the chaos that surrounds them while others are utterly miserable even in good times?  What explains the difference between these two groups of individuals?

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Are happy people just lucky people born happy? And unhappy people born miserable?  Or is happiness a choice we make day by day, moment to moment?

The answer to this question is twofold. On one hand, 50% of happiness is predetermined by biology (e.g., inborn temperament) while the remaining 50% is influenced by life circumstances and intentional activities.

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The Happiness Formula

As shown above, research indicates that approximately 40% of happiness is intentional activities (e.g., daily exercise, meditation, forgiveness), 10% is life circumstances (e.g., income), and 50% is genetic (e.g., temperament),

Though we may have little control over genetics and/or life circumstances — we do have personal agency when it comes to intentional activities. Be it a walk around the block, gardening in the backyard, or simply relaxing by the fire.

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My Personal Experience

Being an optimist (and a positive psychologist), I tend to focus on the parts of life where I have influence. For both myself, and the people around me.

Even though you might not be the happiest (or healthiest, or richest, or most zen) person in the room, you (like me) have room (potential) to grow and expand – no matter your life circumstances or genetic make up.

Watch: What Trauma Taught Me about Happiness

The Happiness Webcast

In the presentation below, I explore the happiness formula (genetics vs. environment) in more detail. Including: 1) the developmental origins of happiness, 2) how individual differences in personality affect happiness, and 3) the paradoxical relationship between traumatic life experiences and happiness (posttraumatic growth).

Happiness Talk
Click on Is Happiness a Choice  to learn more

Special note: I take medical conditions such as clinical depression and anxiety into account when discussing “Is Happiness a Choice?” in my webcast. I underscore that intentional activities such as meditation, exercise, and proper nutrition will not cure mental illness, though they will help tremendously.

For example, medical research has demonstrated that exercise (an intentional activity) improves mood in individuals with anxiety and depression. And in turn, enhances personal agency and locus of control ⇐ the number one (environmental) contributor to happiness.

The Happiness Choice

  1. Celebrate your one-of-a-kind happiness. Do not compare it to your brother or your sister, or to a neighbour or a (facebook) friend. FOMO is the “thief of joy”. For what determines your happiness is unique to you to you, and only you.
  2. Embrace your freedom to choose experiences within your control (e.g., gratitude, helping others, forgiveness ), and the power to let go of what is not (e.g., the past, the opinion of others, the weather).
  3. Need help getting started? Try any or all of these 13 simple intentional activities over the course of a month, a day, or a year. The choice is yours!
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Read: You hold the key

Live your dream NOW.

The stress of waiting.

The list is long when it comes to student stress. But by far, one of the greatest sources of stress is waiting!

Students are always forecasting into the future. Every single moment of student life is about waiting. Waiting for grades. Waiting for summer. Waiting for graduation.

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Forever in a day.

Students become frustrated waiting for what feels like a lifetime to practice the profession they’re in school for.

Textbook readings, class lectures, and endless exams seem miles away from actually doing their dream job.

Days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years. Time moves at a snail’s pace.

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Infinity in their minds.

For students, there are too many years before they can finally live their lifelong dream of becoming a nurse, a lawyer, a carpenter, a designer, a psychologist.

“Don’t worry, it will all be worth it in the end”. Easy for a professor to say. Challenging for a student to live. A day is infinity in a student’s mind.

(Little do they know that one day they will look back and fondly recall their college years as the best years of their lives.)

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 Bridging the (time) gap.

Listening to students lament year after year about the waiting game got me thinking (and dreaming) of a better way! Asking myself how I could bridge the (time) gap between education and profession.

My goal is to help students claim ownership of their present time. To help them live their dream job every single day. To remind them that life purpose does not require a job to be realized.

No more waiting.

Students do not have to wait a lifetime to experience their dream job. Instead, they could live the core elements of their chosen profession every single day – in so many wonderful ways. Simply by living on purpose, in present time.

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  1. Accounting students could help their friends get a better understanding of their finances. Show their neighbours how to do their taxes.
  2. Carpentry students could assist their family in the renovation of a kitchen.
  3. Child and Youth care workers could volunteer at an after school program.
  4. Nursing students could help out an elderly couple at the grocery store.
  5. Social work students could give a seminar at a college residence about mental health.
  6. Senior students could show freshman the best spots to study on campus.

Living your dreams. Every single day.

Using “bite size” mission statements,  I help students identify the key attributes of their dream profession.

During this exercise, students realize that “Life Purpose” is 99% about LIFE. Something they live every single day.

And that no one needs to wait one more year, one more day, or even one more moment to live life to the fullest.

Ultimately, students (and their professor) discover that Life Purpose is about following their heart, sharing their gifts, and shining their light.

One bite size dream at a time.

Related Post: Shine Your Light

You were born to thrive.

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Do not fear challenge or adversity.

Run towards it. Not away from it.

Use it consciously. As a stepping stone.

To ascend. To soar.

To propel yourself forward.

To begin again. 

For strength is ultimately built from challenge, from difficulty, from overcoming.

You were born to thrive!

Watch my video for helpful strategies on how to thrive.

Harnessing positive energy.

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The next time you’re tempted to complain about the same thing (over and over again), direct that same (frustrated) energy into your highest, loftiest goals. Consciously swap one complaint for one baby step towards your dreams. Same energy required. Magically different results. 🎈

Related Post: Set a time limit on negativity.