What we believe matters. As it’s our mindset that shapes our physiological and emotional response to stressful circumstances. Ultimately, determining our ability to bounce back after adversity.
For example, when a relationship ends, if we view it as a personal failure, from a place of blame and shame, we are less likely to try again. Afraid to risk the pain, reluctant to venture beyond our comfort zone.
“Obstacles do not block the path. They are the path.”
On the other hand, if we perceive the same breakup as an opportunity to learn. To begin again. To start over. Fresh. Renewed. We are more open to meeting someone new.
Today I am grateful for all of my relationship failures. For if it weren’t for the loss, the heartache, and the lessons, I never would met the wonderful man that I am married to today.
Trust the Process.
It was not easy at the time. Challenge rarely is. But if we just keep our eyes to the sky, and trust that no matter what we are going through, it will all be worth it in the end.
I hope you find comfort in your discomfort. And beauty in the stars.
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.)
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.
Identify 2-5 strengths that you witnessed in others today. Describe how seeing the strengths in others brought out the strengths in you.
Today I discovered my brother’s ___________. This illuminated my:
Today I noticed my colleague’s ____________. This bolstered my:
Today I uncovered my neighbour’s __________. This reinforced my:
Most people wince every time they hear the word “stress”.
It’s as if the whole world has been conditioned to respond to stress the same way, by word alone. A habitual thought response that is often more dangerous than the stressor itself.
What you believe matters.
The latest research in psychology examines stress in an entirely new way.
Rather than viewing stress as unequivocally bad for one’s health, health psychologists pinpoint belief systems as the moderating variable between stress and biology.
Stress perception ↔ Health benefits
“Embracing meaning is more important than reducing discomfort according to Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal. Stress can make us stronger, smarter and happier — if we learn how to open our minds to it.” Source: Stanford News
Which is one of many reasons why I love Dr. McGonigal’s TED Talk. She encourages us to think about stress in a whole newempowering way. With an emphasis on growth, purpose, and meaning over needless suffering.
Mindset is everything.
Using health psychology research, Dr. McGonigal reveals how perceiving stress as either positive or negative can have a “live or die” impact on individual stress response.
Change your thoughts. Change your stress response.
Believe that stress is good for you (eg., stress heightens awareness) and you live longer.
Alternatively, believe that stress is bad for you (eg., stress causes heart attacks) and you die sooner.
But don’t take my word for it.
You need to experience your own “Aha Moment” firsthand.
How to make stress your friend.
In the video below, Dr. McGonigal illustrates the many upsides of stress, including help seeking behaviour, increased energy, and robust health. She also backs up her stress positive claims with census records and comprehensive health research.
Hope you enjoy these fresh, new ideas about stress as much as I do!
“Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive.” Source: TED Talks
Helpful resources for adopting a resilience mindset:
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the greatest impact on our happiness.
Something so close, so within reach, we often forget it was there in the first place. The good night’s sleep we’re yearning for; waiting patiently at the end of each day. The connection to nature we’re searching for; available 24/7 just beyond our front door. That extra deep breath; we frequently forget to take.
You possess a power so magnificent, so liberating, right under your nose.
Breathing is one of the few physiological functions that can be controlled both consciously and unconsciously.
When everything feels out of control, breathing is the one thing that will always be within our control. The times we’re under the most amount of stress is the exact time we need to expand our breathing – not restrict it.
We must become conscious of breath.
The next time you’re under any kind of pressure. Stuck in traffic. Rushing from class to class. Dealing with a difficult customer at work. Desperately trying to recall answers on a final exam. Wake up to the formidable power that exists within you. Right here. Right now. Right under your nose.
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!
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.
Have you ever wondered how your best friend lives so freely “moment-to-moment” while your mind is imprisoned by thoughts of past events and/or planning of future events (so neatly) written in your (overly structured) daytimer?
Brain Hemispheric Specialization provides insight into why some of us are more present focused and able to “go with the flow” (Right Brain dominant); while others are busy planning their days with the step-by-step precision of a NASA engineer (Left Brain dominant).
Your Brain and Behaviour
Despite being identical in structure, the two halves of the brain specialize in how they process information (e.g., Past vs. Present), and how they function (e.g., Verbal vs. Nonverbal).
Time Processing: Past vs. Present
Left hemisphere – processes information sequentially, one bit at a time
Right hemisphere – processes information globally, considering it as a whole
Brain Functions: Linguistic vs. Spatial
Left hemisphere – includes verbal tasks, such as speaking, reading, thinking, and reasoning.
Right hemisphere – includes nonverbal areas such as the understanding of spatial relationships, recognition of patterns and drawings, music, and emotional expression.
Personally, I obtained a score of 10 on this test – indicating that I am equally Left and Right Brained.
Which didn’t surprise me as I often “lay the table” with outlines, organizers, etc. (Left Brain) and the moment I feel safe, grounded, and prepared, I sit back and watch the ideas fly! (Right Brain)
What about you? How did you score on the Left/Right Brain Dominance Test? Was it what you expected? Were the results consistent with how you live your life? Did you learn something new about yourself?
2. Watch the following 20 minute video to: a) learn firsthand about L-R brain specialization and b) discover how Neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor turned her real-life tragedy into an awe inspiring “Stroke of Insight“. I am still moved to tears by her story! I hope you are too. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is resilience personified.
The more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemisphere, the more peaceful our planet will be. Jill Bolte Taylor
Psychology Class ↔ Psychology Blog
This post is a summary of this week’s psychology lecture and Chapter 2 of my psychology textbook. If you want to learn more, you can download a free PDF of my neuroscience and behaviour chapter by clicking on this link.