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

Embracing Change

Change is both personal and universal.

Everyone goes through changes and transformations.

We are born. We grow old.

What sets us apart is how we experience change.

1. Personality of Change

How we perceive the world has a significant impact on how we experience change.

Type A vs. Type B

Individuals with a Type A personality experience change differently from individuals with Type B personality.

Type A individuals often experience more difficulty with change because of time urgency and a heightened need to control the situation.

Type A’s don’t have time for change.”

While individuals with a Type B personality are more laid back and relaxed and thus find it easier to go with the flow.  

Optimists vs. Pessimists

Pessimists and optimists also view change through a different lens.

Pessimists perceive change as permanent and a traumatic end to everything.

While optimists are more likely to see change as temporary and an opportunity for new beginnings and growth.

Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Can Optimism Be Learned?

2. Circumstances of Change

Another determinant in how we experience change is whether the change was by chance or by choice.

For example, for some people divorce is liberating, while for others it is the end of their world.

The same can be said for the workplace.

The reaction to change will be different for someone who chooses to retire five years early to spend more time with family, in contrast to someone who is laid off abruptly without notice.

It’s not change, it’s the circumstances that surround it.

Anchor Yourself During Rapid Change

3. Fear of Change

We resist change because we fear the unknown.

We never know what’s around the corner and this is made worse when it is a painful change.

As a result, we erect roadblocks and create chaos to slow change down.

This is the illusion of control that is often associated with resistance to change.

Resistance to change comes in many forms including psychological defense mechanisms proposed by Sigmund Freud:

  1. Repression
  2. Denial
  3. Regression
  4. Projection
  5. Displacement

The problem with resistance to change is that we wear ourselves out and use up all the energy necessary to transform and evolve.

What You Resist Persists

CBC-TV Interview — Embracing Change

4. Psychology Takeaways

Embracing Change and Moving Forward

  1. Be on the alert for fight-or-flight tendencies during unexpected change. Take it as a sign to slow down.
  2. Create a safe space for open dialogue about change. Use it as an opportunity for ingenuity, creativity, and innovation at work and at home.
  3. 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.
  4. Instead of thinking of all the things that could go wrong on the other side of change, imagine all the things that could go right. Including the opportunity to level up and start again.
Original Source —
Spring Issue 142
The Drive Magazine 

What is within your control?

Locus of Control is a key ingredient in both stress hardiness and mental resilience.

Knowing the difference between what is within your control and sphere of influence and what to let go of and surrender is a daily process and wellness habit.

What is within your control?

This was a question I actively explored over 2 days with 600 high school students in Windsor, Ontario during my thriving under pressure presentation.

PSYCHOLOGY HOMEWORK

Make a list of things that are beyond your control. Areas of your life that drain your energy, motivation, and passion for life.

Next, make a list of moments and situations that lift you up. Areas where you create impact. Focus on those areas of your life today. Surrender the rest.

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

Video: What is within your control?

What’s Your Endurance Mantra?

Transforming our mindset from pain to power and stress to strength is key during uncertain times.

And particularly important for students across Ontario as they complete final college and university exams this semester!

What mantra or affirmation shifts your mindset from stress to strength? From pain to power? I would love to know.

Watch the video below to hear mine during a particularly difficult spinning class at a local gym.

An endurance mantra I use during workouts, in the classroom, and in life!

Simple Words on Repeat

In the video, I share two simple words that kept me going when I hit a wall weeks ago.

And also the words I use to encourage students when they feel like giving up.

These words change daily.

Today mine was “mustard seed”.

Because I often feel like giving up. Like everyone else does.

And then I remember my why.

My “mustard seed” gives me faith to not give up on what’s yet to come.

Do you have a mantra that has kept you going during the pandemic or any other uncertain times in your life?

What endurance phrase is on repeat for you?

Related Post: The Space Between No Longer and Not Yet

Put a Time Limit on Negativity

Original Source: The Drive Magazine

Time and Energy Management

When I was a kid, my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did.

Whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

1. Passing versus Permanent Difficulties

Setting a time limit helped us understand that nothing lasts forever, good or bad.

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

2. Energy and Emotional Awareness

The egg timer principle can also be applied to how often we feel negative versus positive throughout the day.

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

Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge.

Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.

Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time.

Interview with Candace Sampson on energy management 

3. Respecting Other People’s Boundaries

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

We learned the importance of asking permission before sharing our problems and difficulties.

Boundaries go both ways, and few people have the capacity to listen seven days of the week.

Interview with Arms Bumanlag on relationship boundaries

4. Timer Motivation Technique

To this day I set a timer on the microwave or my cellphone.

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

Final Thoughts

Negativity is to be expected. It’s part of the human experience. The question is: how long will you stay there?

Share your challenges. Share your obstacles. Share your difficulties. But also leave room for what’s good in your life.

Joy needs room to breathe. And so do you.

Psychology Articles in The Drive Magazine 

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

Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.

Back on Campus

In this psychology video I share one way I engage students at the start of a semester, including this past week when we were back on campus for the first time, in a very long time!

Transcript of Psychology Video 
Read Here

Show Them You Care

Connecting with students from a higher place is especially important during a pandemic, as it reminds them of their vision and mission post-graduation.

“Why” Vision Exercise, Leadership Conference 2016

What’s Your Dream?

Asking students about their dreams is a fun, high-energy exercise that engages the entire class.

Takeaway

The next time you feel stuck in a rut, either in conversation or in thought, ask — ”What Dream Pulls You Forward”?

Our mind is a powerful tool. It has the ability to block our potential or to allow us to soar to possibilities beyond our wildest dreams.

Bruce Lipton
Photo from Summer School 2018
Video of Blog Post
Watch Here

Teacher Enthusiasm Video 
Watch Here

Face Everything and Rise

Fight or Flight Threat Response

Every time we feel threatened (threat is the fundamental definition of stress) our first instinct is to “fight or flight“.

This perpetual “fight or flight” response loop eventually creates a host of secondary problems, above and beyond, the original stressor.

It does not matter how we attempt to “control” a stressful situation – physically, verbally, or by running away from it.

Eventually, a repetitive “fight or flight” response cycle takes a significant toll on our bodies.

Is There a Better Way?

Be Gentle With Yourself

Tune into Your Body. Your Breath. This Moment in Time.

Consciously

Choose Courage over Fear

  • FEAR -> Forget Everything And Run
  • FEAR -> Face Everything And Rise

Strengths First

The acronym Face Everything And Rise reminds us that the many strengths within us will always be greater than the perceived threats and stress outside us.

The key is to first discover and then embrace each and every one of our divine gifts. Within us. And all around us.

Stand Your Sacred Ground

The mantra Stand Your Sacred Ground inspires us to stand still, take a deep breath, and trust that being yourself is enough.

No Fight. No Flight. No Fear.

Simply holding your ground is enough.

Courage is grace under pressure.

Ernest Hemingway

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

Twelve Days of Self-Care — The Drive Magazine

Original Source
The Drive Magazine

Twelve Days of Self Care

You, as much as anyone else, are worthy of your love and attention.

I am a strong believer in keeping things simple.

The less complicated things are, the more likely we are to repeat the behaviour.

Especially when it comes to health and happiness habits.

Try for yourself, starting with Day 1 of self-care:

Day 1: Mindful Mornings

Add five to ten minutes of relaxation to each of your morning routines. Time expands when you savour your smoothie mindfully.

Day 2: Soothing Stretches

Wherever you are right now – stand up. Put your arms to the ceiling and take a long breath. Bring your arms to your toes and hold them there. Repeat five times throughout the day. Show your limbs some love today.

Day 3: Lingering Lunches

When was the last time you took a break during lunch? No phone. No computer. Just you and your turkey sandwich. Today is that day. Cherish your lunch. Enjoy every bite. Give yourself the gift of a lunch break.

Day 4: Movement is Medicine

My favourite way to improve the day is through movement. Whether it be a stroll around the block, hugging a tree in the park, or a one-hour cardio session at the club. Do what works for you, independent of everyone else. Commit to moving one extra step today.

Day 5: Fresh Air

Immerse yourself in fresh air today. Especially when you hit a roadblock in creativity. Go outside. Look up at the sky. Watch the clouds float by.

Day 6: Silence

When was the last time you sat in silence? Today is that day. Set an alarm on your phone for three hours from now. Start with seven minutes of absolute silence. Write down what you find out about yourself.

Day 7: Reading Time

Devote one hour to reading today. Including this magazine!

Day 8: Blissful Boundaries

When you are available to everybody all the time, you are unavailable to yourself. Start by setting a boundary between you and technology. Turn off your phone and computer for 12 hours straight.

Day 9: Soothing Scents

Out of all five senses, smell has the strongest link to emotion and memory. Which is why a scent like peppermint can transport you instantly to another time and dimension.

Day 10: Ground Yourself

Cover the floor with all your favourite blankets. Take a long deep breath and take in the view of your house from a different perspective.

Day 11: Matinee Movie

Take yourself to a matinee movie today! Spoil yourself with popcorn and ice-cold pop.

Day 12: Mirror Affirmations

Write a love letter to yourself and post it on your bathroom mirror. Read it out loud, every chance you get.

Merry Christmas Everyone! May peace be with you. All 2022 long.♥️

Peace Video Watch Here

Anchor Yourself With Light

Take a moment and anchor yourself with something that lights you up.

That reminds you that you are not alone in this storm.

You have been here before.

It may have been a personal pandemic, not a global one.

But somehow, deep inside, you made it through.

And you will again.

You have the courage, the mindset, the heart, the soul.

You Are Not Alone in This Storm

Together We Will Make It Through

Video of Blog Post Click Here

Broaden-and-Build: Click Here

Staying Motivated During Challenging Times — The Drive Magazine

Today’s story begins in the middle of a spin class. The point in time where you feel like giving up the most.

Because the middle is always the hardest. Whether it be the middle of a semester, the middle of a week, or the middle of a pandemic.

It was thirty minutes into class, and we had finished a tough uphill climb. I wanted to celebrate how far we had come, so I began clapping and cheering.

Despite my excitement, my instructor gave me a curious look and said: “Why are you clapping Andrea? We are far from being done.”

She was right. We still had a significant amount of time left in our workout. But I wasn’t clapping because we were finished. I was clapping because we had hit the wall and survived. I was clapping to energize.

Cheering in the Middle

A cheering strategy that I often use in my own classroom. Students are geared up at the start of the semester and pumped up at the end. It’s in the middle that their commitment starts to falter.

This is when I clap wholeheartedly simply because students show up to class. Both in person and online. A fun gesture underscoring how much I value their commitment to education. And they love it!

Small Gestures Energize

This year I am reminded how small gestures energize big time. Be it a high five. A wide smile. A kind word. Or calling a student by name.

Because beginnings have their own ticker parades. And endings take care of themselves.

It’s in the middle of a challenge where we need positive energy the most.

Applying these principles in your life

  1. Celebrate small wins throughout the day. Keep track with post it notes.
  2. Create a playlist of songs that remind you of pivotal wins and achievements.
  3. Take frequent dance breaks in unexpected places.
  4. Clap and cheer when family members arrive home from work.
  5. Don’t be afraid to stand out. You may be the pick me up a stranger needs to keep going and not give up.
Original Source 
The Drive Magazine

Your Turn

  • How do you stay motivated during challenging times?
  • What keeps you going when you hit “the wall”?

Endurance multiplies when shared

Helpful Resource
We Need Stress to Grow

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

Let Your North Star Guide You

The sky connects us to something bigger than ourselves.

Challenges appear small in comparison to the vastness of the sky.

Solutions seem plausible. Answers come more easily.

In the presence of stars, we embrace the profound and surrender it all.

Look, up at the sky. There is a light, a beauty up there, that no shadow can touch.

J. R. R. Tolkien

Related Post: Always Looking Up

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 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Live Zoom Conference

At a recent leadership conference, student leaders from St. Clair College’s Student Representative Council SRC had the opportunity to ask questions live during the final portion of the virtual training event.

Ask Dr. D

The student leaders raised the reflection bar high during this discussion period.

One Question Stood Out The Most

Specifically:

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

In the video below, I share my answer.

It All Works Out

Even during COVID-19.

For the pandemic has not changed my optimistic perspective on life and learning.

If anything, COVID-19 has underscored my belief in posttraumatic growth and resilience.

For everybody.

Growth is the only evidence of life.

John Henry Newman
Video of Post: 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

Shine your light

bethelight

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

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

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

RELATED POST:
Anchor Yourself With Light

What makes your heart sing?

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

Engaging fully, completely, in every conversation I have.

No matter how long. No matter how short.

image
REFLECTION QUESTION:
What makes you come alive?

I love making someone’s day brighter.

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

Mission for this Moment

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

Because you matter.

More than you’ll ever know.

Simple Soulful Practice

How I Light Up My Day

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

What lights your way today?

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

Anger is a sign that something needs to change

Anger Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com

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

For Example: Anger

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

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

The Kübler-Ross Model provides insight:

5 Stages of Grief and Change

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

Is anger helping or hurting?

How is anger serving you

Why Anger?

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

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

PSYCHOLOGY HOMEWORK

Anger → Awareness

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

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

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

Reflection Questions

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

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

Transition and Transformation

Change Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com.

Psychology Resources

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

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

Let Your North Star Guide You

My Wish For You Today

May you find peace in your home.

And calm in your heart.

No matter the storm.

PEACE is an inside job. DrAndreaDinardo.com

Psychology Thought for the Day

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

The goal is to change our response to them.

To accept them without judgement.

To transcend them when the time is right.

e·qua·nim·i·ty

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

This video may help:

Let Your North Star Guide You 

How do you rise above? 💫

Watch Video of Post → Click Here

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

3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure

A map for transforming stress into strength

Dr. Andrea Dinardo THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE

In my TEDx Talk and in the leadership videos below, I discuss how to THRIVE under pressure using 3 stress resilience tools:

1. Commitment

Envisioning a higher purpose above and beyond the immediate stressor.

2. Control

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

3. Challenge

Reframing stressful challenges as opportunities for growth.

Thriving Under Pressure

My TEDx Talk includes all 3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure: challenge, control, commitment.

Inspiration for TEDx Talk + Psychology Blog

I created my psychology blog and TEDx Talk (both called “Thriving Under Pressure”) in response to rising levels of student stress and anxiety.

The goal is to help students (and you) develop positive coping techniques in fun, interactive, and uplifting ways.

Dr. Andrea DINARDO
By first focusing on what is right, before examining what is wrong, people are motivated to move beyond, and in some cases, be transformed by their challenges and adversities.

Focus on what’s within your control in life & leadership.

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When things go wrong, what do you focus on first?

The world outside you

or

the world within you?

The following is a video and activity overview from Part 2 of the 2020 SRC Leadership Development Workshop. Click Here for Part 1.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVEjYGl9c0k

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.

Be The Change

I believe that (self) control is the foundation of effective leadership because in order to lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself.

  • This concept is based on the Internal versus External Locus of Control developed by psychologist Dr. Julian Rotter.
  • CONTROL is also the second “C” in the Thriving Under Pressure Model discussed in my TEDx Talk.

Leadership Skills Development 

CONTROL – Part 1

In the initial control exercise, participants met in groups to reflect and share their answers to the following questions:

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CONTROL – Part 2

Next, participants applied the C-P-R Model of Sustainable Mental Health Habits to their own experiences as both students and student leaders.

  • This activity helped them focus on the areas of their life, including mental health habits and stress management practices, that is within versus outside their sphere of control.
  • Click Here for the original CPR Blog Post and Video

C. P. R.

CATCH.   PAUSE.   REPAIR.

in action

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1. Student leaders first identified their triggers. Including emotional, cognitive, situational, and physical stressors. CATCH

2. Then they practiced taking a time-out (long deep breath) during high pressure moments. PAUSE

3. Finally, they shared both self-care (fitness, sleep, nutrition) and professional resources (counselling) that help them replenish unmet psychological and physical needs (as outlined on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). REPAIR

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 Control Video ⇒ Click Here
TEDx Talk ⇒ Click Here

How will you lead your life today?

Strength Based Leadership: ReThink Challenges

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On January 11, 2020, I had the opportunity to work with the student leadership team at St. Clair College in Windsor Ontario.

MISSION AND VISION

The goal was to strengthen the bonds between team members and harness the power of their mission for the 12,500 students on campus.

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Student Representative Council (SRC) Leadership Team

We talked about the many ways challenges can be transformed into opportunities.

And how pressure can be used in a positive way to motivate us to the next level of our lives.

CHALLENGE is the first “C” in the “Stress to Strength” model from my Thriving Under Pressure TEDx Talk. Photo below.

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Psychology of Leadership 

In the video from the leadership workshop I give an overview of the ABC Model of Cognitive Psychology and the Flow Model of Optimal Performance.

We also discussed why resilience is not so much about what happened, but our thoughts about what happened.

Listen in for more:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” 

More videos and learning moments from the leadership event to come. Stay Tuned! Dr. D 📚❤️

Special thanks to UWSA VP of Advocacy Arop Plaek Deng for being the photographer and videographer at the SRC Leadership Event 📸

Psychology on YouTube

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.

My Hope Is to Share Psychology With The World

Mindful Moments in California

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

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Nature everywhere we look.

Luminous moonlight.

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Dancing campfire.

Fresh ocean air.

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Water as far as the eye can see.

Sunshine in every nook.

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100 year old fig trees.

Just outside our hotel room door.

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Mountains in the distance.

Waiting to be climbed.

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

December birthday blessings of the highest kind.🎄💚

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

Coping With Loneliness During the Holidays

NEW Interview December 22, 2020
Loneliness during COVID-19 Holidays
AM800 CKLW Morning Show: Click Here

When we feel a painful emotion, our first instinct is to pull away. To numb the pain. To hide from the intensity.

This was the case for Sarah and Jack, two unique individuals with vastly different circumstances. But they each experienced the same emotion: loneliness. An emotion that is heightened during the holidays.

Original Source: The Drive Magazine

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/lean-into-loneliness

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SARAH

Sarah was a 42-year-old recently divorced woman who was about to face her first holiday season alone. Living in a new town, miles away from friends and family, she was waiting to begin a new job in January. Hours felt like days.

Days felt like months. Sarah had tried everything to fill the void inside. The mistake she made was running away from the one thing that would help get her to the other side: loneliness itself.

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Knowledge is power

1. Understand the emotion

We need to first understand an emotion before we jump to the conclusion that it’s either good or bad, because in reality, emotions are almost entirely physiological in nature.

There’s not a negative or positive to them. It’s in our mind that we make it one or the other. This concept is supported by Schachter-Singer’s theory of emotion:

schacter singer

This theory of emotion explains why two people can experience the exact same event and have completely different emotional reactions to it.

What matters most is the person’s interpretation of an event, not the event itself. After all, as they say, one person’s glass-half-full is another one’s glass-half-empty.

In Sarah’s situation, she interpreted her physiological response to idle time as loneliness, while another person might label it as much-needed relaxation. Ultimately, Sarah has a choice. One interpretation debilitates; the other empowers.

2. Witness the emotion

Now that Sarah understands the interpretative power she holds over her environmental triggers, the next step is to witness loneliness in a neutral, curious state rather than fighting it at every turn.

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In doing so, Sarah neutralizes the intensity of her emotions, allowing them to flow through her, rather than getting stuck in a repetitive loop of pain.

Here are four simple ways to create space between triggers and responses:

  1. Count to 10
  2. Take a long deep breath
  3. Make three wishes
  4. Look up at the sky
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Taken one step further, each time that Sarah experiences a challenging emotion during the holidays, rather than running from it she needs to lean in and ask that emotion, “What are you trying to teach me?”

3. Reframe the emotion

The final step for Sarah is to learn how to reframe the situations that trigger her loneliness, and understand why sometimes she overreacts, while other times she lets go without a second thought.

Solitude is perceived as isolation by one person and freedom by another.

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Reframing exercise:

  1. Identify a situation that triggers loneliness.
  2. Imagine the best-case scenario: “This situation is temporary.”
  3. Look for evidence of the best-case scenario: “The longest I’ve been single is two years.”
  4. Describe the worst-case scenario: “I will be alone forever.”
  5. Name the benefits of the worst-case scenario: “I am free to do what I want.”
  6. Finally, ask for help in reframing triggers, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

Once Sarah learns how to change the story “behind” the story, her instinctive loneliness lessens. And her ability to choose a higher thought improves.

Watch Video of Post: Click Here

JACK

At 55 years of age, Jack was also feeling the pangs of loneliness. His wife of 25 years died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago.

Unexpected was an understatement. They had run in three marathons together and had spent their weekends sampling new vegan restaurants in their local community. Ever since his wife had died, Jack struggled to face the holidays alone.

Jack’s story is as much about him as it is about the family around him. His family and friends’ automatic response was to feel sorry for him, a response that compounded his feelings of disconnectedness and misunderstanding.

Jack did not want people to feel sorry for him. He was a proud man who was ready to move on.

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Get out of your own head

1. Meet with “experienced” widowers

As much as Jack missed his wife, he also missed his ability to connect authentically with friends and family. Having been treated with kid gloves since his wife died, Jack longed to be seen as a victor rather than a victim

As such, I encourage Jack to connect with like-minded individuals who had been through a similar situation: widows and widowers. Specifically, ones who had been on their own for several years.

The benefits are twofold. One, Jack would learn new ways of relating to friends and family. And two, he’d be given the green light to grow and acclimate to his new circumstances.

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2. Connect with others in unexpected, low-pressure ways

The other component missing in Jack’s life was fun. Simple, cheerful, good-time fun. Everything had become so serious since his wife died, with almost every conversation beginning or ending with his wife’s death.

There was no doubt that he missed her with all his heart. But equally, he longed for moments where he could be free of the loneliness and pain.

I recommend that Jack reintroduce sports into his life. Something non-competitive that would get him out of the house on a Wednesday night. Better yet, if it involved people that he had never met, it would allow him to continue his journey of reinvention and rediscovery.

Equally therapeutic for Jack would be joining a cinema group or regular euchre meetup—both would offer him a chance to be in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

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3. Honour the old, create the new

Finally, I advise Jack to examine the memories and traditions that he wanted to keep alive during the holidays—and, equally, the ones of which he was ready to let go.

Jack took the practice one step further. Declaring December a month of renewal and reinvention, he revived a strength and peace inside that radiated out to his entire family.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Conclusion 

Jack and Sarah have a lot to teach us about loneliness and how important it is to honour the unique ways in which we process adversity.

One size does not fit all. Fellowship and fun were vital for Jack’s growth and recovery, while Sarah needed a more analytical approach to processing difficulty.

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  • Lean into loneliness
  • Approach it with openness and curiosity
  • Make space for the lessons beneath the suffering

Video of Post

Your Turn

  1. How do you cope with difficult emotions during the holidays?
  2. What strategies do you use to make peace with the heightened pressures of the Christmas season?
  3. What are your unique traditions and one-of-a-kind celebrations?

Disclaimer: This post and article are for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To protect the privacy of individuals, names and identifying details have been changed.

CPR: Sustainable Resilience & Mental Health Habits

Dr. Andrea Dinardo MENTAL HEALTH HABITS
sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty
/səˌstānəˈbilədē/

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

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

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

1. Catch

Catch yourself before a stress response escalates by becoming more aware of what triggers you.

2. Pause

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

3. Repair

Repair the root source of the heightened stress response which is often physiological in nature.

DrAndreaDinardo.com QUOTE

Supporting Student Health

Requested by

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

New Opportunity

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

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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H
old

O n

P ain

E nds

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

5 Ways to Focus Better

Why Can’t I Remember Anything?

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

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

An important distinction between memory and attention that I share in the focus video below.

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

Dr. Andrea Dinardo - Focus Article.6

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

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


Link to Fall Focus Article

5 Ways to Focus Better

Issue 124. The Drive Magazine.
Psychology Article: thedrivemagazine.com/posts/5-ways-to-focus-better
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Video of Post: Click Here

Thriving Teams. Thriving Leaders.

THRIVING TEAMS Dr. Andrea Dinardo

LESSONS LEARNED

In this post, I share the lessons learned at a thriving teams thriving leaders board retreat.

It was a true team effort!  

With the team-building and leadership exercises equally led by the student leaders and myself.

ThrivingTeamsLearnTogether

Please join in and explore the reflection questions, interactive activities, and workshop videos with the teams in your life.

Together Everyone Achieves More!

WHAT HELPS TEAMS FLOURISH & THRIVE?

1. Compassion and Empathy

“It takes both sides to build a bridge.”

Perspective taking exercise.

Discussion Questions:
1. Identify a problem you have faced as a student leader.
2. Determine what’s “below the surface” that could potentially be the source of the problem.
3. Explore the problem from the perspective of the student.
4. Describe the problem and potential solution using both the leader’s and the student’s perspectives.
5. Summarize the lessons and potential opportunities of the original problem. Eg. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the student?

“Together We Rise.”

UWSA Student Leaders BOD

2. Conscious Goal Setting

“Goals with Soul.”

Personal and Team goal setting exercise.

Discussion Questions:
1. What are your goals as student leader for the school year?
2. What are your goals as team member for the school year?
3. What are your greatest assets for the team?
4. What areas do you need assistance from the team?

“Teamwork makes the dream work.”

UWSA Student Leaders Executive

3. Shared Vision

“Your life is your message to the world.”

“What’s Your North Star?” team building exercise.

Discussion Questions:
1. What’s Your Purpose?
2. What Lights Your Way?
3. What Bonds and Unites Your Team?

“What’s Your Why?”

WHY Vision Board.2

Everyday Leadership

  • I encourage you to try our Thriving Teams Thriving Leaders Exercises in your own life.
  • Whether it be your family team, your friendship team, your neighbourhood team, your church team, or your sports team.
  •  Teams are everywhere!

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Assistance from UWSA Team

The videos in this post were filmed with the generous help of student leaders during my THRIVING TEAMS presentation at the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) Summer Board Retreat.

What an incredible group of leaders they are!

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Helpful Resources

  1. TEDx Talk: Thriving Under Pressure
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czXG8odb7pY
  2.  University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) website
    http://www.uwsa.ca

“Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.”

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

Happiness: What deters it? What contributes to it?

The Happiness Class

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

  • Especially when it comes to FOMO and happiness:

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

Student Insights

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

Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Happiness, FOMO, and Social Comparison

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

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I would love your insights too!

How would you answer the questions posed by my students:

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

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Optimism Bootcamp - Click Here

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.

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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

How to stay motivated as you prepare for your TEDX Talk.

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Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to the new roster of TEDX Windsor speakers at Beachgrove Golf and Country Club in Windsor Ontario.

“A goal should scare you a little bit and excite you a lot.”

In the 4 min video below I advise the 2019 @TEDxWindsor Speakers how to stay motivated during the extensive and lengthy TEDX preparation process.

These tips apply to life too!

Reminding speakers HOW THEY DREAMED of becoming a TEDX SPEAKER long before they had the INCREDIBLE FORTUNE to became one.

What’s your why?

YOUR TURN

Do you want to be a TEDX Speaker one day?

What would the name of your TEDX Talk be? 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

1. Purchase Tickets for the June 8 TEDX Windsor Event

https://tedxwindsor.com/events/tedxwindsor-2019

2. Watch TEDX Talk THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE

 ✨Today’s Psychology Opportunity✨

Choose to believe in something bigger than yourself. And let your North Star light your way.

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Dare to Dream!

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

You hold the key.

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Even though we often have little control over the “outside forces” in our lives, we can always make a positive difference – from the inside out.

Start here. Right here. Right now. Be still. Breathe in gratitude. Be thankful for this very moment. Start small. Notice your passing thoughts. Let go.

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Awareness empowers.

Notice the exact time it is right now. Say today’s date out loud. Look up at the sky. Wink at the clouds. Stomp your feet on the floor. Smile with gusto.

Slowly bring yourself back to this moment.

Grab onto the coffee mug you are holding. Inhale the rich scent of the sumatra you are drinking. Feel the warmth of each passing breath.

Feel the texture of the clothes you’re wearing. Wake up to the sound of your voice. Whisper. Sing. Shout it out!

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Dance a little dance. Stand up tall. Anything and everything that shifts you from outer space to inner spirit. From not enough to overflowing.

Positive change begins within.

Come back to yourself. Back to the grace of your magnificent spirit. Into the beauty of your incredible form. Feel the rhythm of your beating heart. Sense the pulse of life itself. 

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Everything you need to transform yourself and the world already exists within you. You matter. You truly matter. But you have to believe it to see it. Feel it to know it. One gentle, uplifting thought at a time.

You hold the key.

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Originally published on March 1 2017

Change the world. One compliment at a time.

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Celebrate their strengths.

Today I encourage you to notice the little things in everyone you meet. Their smile. What lifts them up. What makes their heart sing. How hard they work. How they get through a day.

Show them you care.

Acknowledge them. Notice them. Lean in. Listen completely. Praise their hard work. Compliment their positive attitude. Encourage their dreams. Thank them for their service.

It only takes a moment to change a life.

Never forget how good it feels to hear something positive about yourself. Pass the good vibes on.💛💫

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Taming Your Monkey Mind

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Nature is a beautiful way to stop the monkey mind in its’ tracks.

What is the monkey mind? 🐒 🧠

“Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. Fear is an especially loud monkey –  screaming out all the things that could go wrong.” Source: HuffPost 

When we’re caught in a loop of anxious thoughts, our amygdala goes into overdrive. Causing us to get stuck in the basement of our brains (the limbic system) where our stressful thoughts go around and around. With no end to the downward spiral in sight.

B R E A T H I N G    S P A C E

Time in nature gives us a chance to catch our breath, to see the light, to realize there’s a way out of this never-ending rumination loop.

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The Healing Power of Nature

The impact of nature on the human spirit is so profound that a hallmark study in 1984 showed that patients who had a room with a view healed faster than patients without a view. A mere glimpse of nature was enough to enhance their resilience.

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Nature shifts our thoughts. Expands our awareness. Gives us hope. Lifts us up from the basement of our brains (amygdala) to the penthouse (cerebral cortex) where all solutions are possible.

And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.” 

Related Video: Five Grounding Techniques

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.” 💞

The power of beliefs.

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Belief plays a pivotal role in success.

Believing that you have what it takes.

Believing that you can try again.

Believing in something greater than yourself.

Believing you are never alone.

Believing your power is greater than your pain.

Believing that things are going to get easier.

In this 5 minute training video, I demonstrate how “Locus of Control” contributes to a sense of self-efficacy and belief in oneself. Ultimately resulting in improved well-being and performance. In this video, I also share how easily we can cultivate confidence and positivity in each other. Starting with a smile and a few uplifting words.🥊💥

Link to full training video 

I believe.

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.

Keep Dreaming. Keep Believing.

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What percentage of the time do you spend talking about your stress versus talking about your dreams?

Arguing for your weaknesses versus championing for your strengths?

Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.

So please accept this challenge of beginning your conversations with your dreams instead of your stress.

In doing so you energize your day and everyone around you.

Trust me. I speak from experience.

When we focus on what’s right  — If only 1% of our day —

Everything changes for the better.

🔝 Video of this Blog Post 🔝

Keep Dreaming. Keep Believing.

The world needs dreamers  like you.

TEDx Talk: Thriving Under Pressure

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During my TEDx Talk I discuss how to thrive under pressure using three stress resilience tools: 1) challenge, 2) commitment, and 3) control.

The purpose of this talk and my psychology blog (both called thriving under pressure) is to help students develop coping techniques in fun, educational, and uplifting ways.

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