My number one intention for becoming a psychologist and psychology professor has always been to help people live a better life, no matter their life circumstances. And since there are only so many hours in a day, I’m always looking for new ways to reach and teach as many people as I can. All at once, if possible.
Which is why I created a Psychology Tips Playlist on my YouTube Channel that I contribute to often.
Psychology Thought for the Day
The purpose of my psychology YouTube Channel is to share key lessons from my three hour psychology lessons in as little as three to five minutes.
Giving people far and wide access to virtual classes, especially those who don’t have the money or means to an undergraduate education. I know how busy everyone is. And I love a good challenge! I also include videos of psychology interviews, workshops, and keynote speeches.
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
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.
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.
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
Optimism Can Be Learned
The good news is that optimism is a skill that can be learned.
Optimism / pessimism are not fixed personality traits that someone is lucky (or unlucky) enough to be born with.
Optimism / pessimism are states (not traits) that are malleable and open to change.
Optimism / pessimism are attributional styles that can be taught and reinforced over time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
TEDx Dream Team
Thank you for letting me share my dream of being on the TEDx stage! The official TEDx video will be posted soon. 🎥
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.
TEDx Diamonds from Pressure
TEDx Posters Everywhere!
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. 🎥
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.
TEDX Napkin Edition
TEDx Ideas in the Making
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 script. Focus 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!
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?
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.
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.
Competing with a machine is a downhill battle. Instead, teachers must focus on what they do best – connecting with students. Ratherthan lamenting about students being glued to their smartphone, teachers should consider whystudents do it in the first place. You can’t solve a problem if you’re not asking the right question.
Step #1 Discover the underlying cause.
There is no doubt that smartphones have changed the way we live and learn. Which is why educators (including myself) must take a step back and reframe the smartphone problem.Student distractibility existed long before smartphones. Lack of attention is the common denominator.
We doodled. They text.
We passed notes. They facebook.
Step #2 Reexamine how you teach.
We all have an idea in our mind about how we perform at work. Yet the only way we will ever have an accurate picture of our performance is to collect data on our concrete behaviours. Click on Teacher Behaviors Inventory (TBI) to obtain a PDF of this suggested assessment tool (used in my doctoral research).
Sample items from TBI inventory –
The TBI assessment tool will help determine how you engage students, capture their attention, and sustain curiosity with instant gratification just one click away. The TBI also includes a measure of how you spark student interest and arouse curiosity in the lessons you teach. Completing the inventory will give you a baseline of your current teaching techniques. It will help identify areas of strength and challenge (potential growth).
Step #3 Model what you expect.
The next step in student engagement is to “become” what you expect from your students. Motivate students by being motivated! For example, I write motivational quotes on the blackboard each day. The goal is to model each quote I post. And encourage students to do the same.
Grab attention by being attentive to the unique needs of each student, and responsive to the distinct personality of each class. Engage students by being engaged, passionate, and excited about the topics you teach. Enthusiasm is contagious! Stimulate curiosity by being curious about how students think.
Step #4 Show students you care.
In order to move from instant gratification to meaningful interactions in school (and in life), we must show students how much we care. We must be present and mindful in our own classrooms. And in tune with each student and teaching moment.
For students need to know how much their learning matters. How much they matter. Week after week. Class after class. Students are our reason.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.