New Virtual Experiences During COVID-19

Staying Hopeful

I wanted to share how I have been keeping hope alive in my heart and soul during COVID-19.

Specifically, by expanding my reach with new virtual experiences.

Beginning in the spring with my first “live” recorded internet event with Sam Piercell, a fitness entrepreneur, from Windsor, Ontario.

F45 "Live" Event: 
Community Resilience with Dr. Andrea Dinardo

Resilience Habits & Routines

Community members asked stress, wellness, and psychology questions in real time.

Throughout the resilience seminar, I also shared daily habits and thought patterns keeping me healthy during the pandemic.

Optimism, hope, and humour are key factors in health, happiness, and resilience.

Optimism Bootcamp The Drive Magazine

Sharing Our COVID Experiences

Since then, I have been interviewed virtually by:

  1. Dr. Katherin Garland on Mental Health Matters (watch: video interview).
  2. Candace Sampson on What She Said Radio (watch: video interview).

We discussed situational and pandemic anxiety, health and positive psychology, time and energy management, social media boundaries, resilience, and thriving under pressure.

2020 “Stretch” Goals

  • GOAL: Stay Connected to each other in new and novel ways.
  • HOW: Interactive LIVE “Q & A” conversations in real time.
  • MEDIUM: ZOOM, INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE.

Adapting to the New Normal

In the past, online interactions were “an extra” to everyday conversation.

Now “the virtual life” is a necessity for both our personal and professional lives.

An important and crucial way to stay connected to both our dreams and each other.

2020 is the World’s Classroom

PSYCHOLOGY TEACHING ONLINE - BEHIND THE SCENES:
1. What It's Like to Be a Professor During Global Pandemic
2. "Live" Online Psychology Class

Hope and Change

“Adapt or Die” may sound harsh.

But adaptation is truly what’s being asked of us in every area of our lives right now.

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So I figure I might as well jump right in!

Because I would rather ride the wave, than have the wave ride me. 🌊

What’s Next?

VIRTUAL KEYNOTE: Healthy Workplace Awards

Failure as Feedback

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

With time, I have come to realize that failure has always been my greatest teacher. Each failure pointed me in a better direction and helped me to develop strength and authenticity, ultimately unveiling who I was and what I was destined to become

F. A. I. L. = First Attempt In Learning

• The failing grade I received on my first exam in graduate school taught me how to ask for support when I needed it most, no matter how shameful I felt or embarrassed I was.

• The end of a long-term relationship taught me how to value my time alone and make tough decisions for myself, no matter how weak I felt or lonesome I was.

• The layoff from a job I loved taught me how to let go, look forward, and trust in something so much bigger than myself, no matter how scared I was or irrelevant I felt.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

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Is it possible to see failure in a positive light?

Under the right conditions, failure strengthens us, adds to our self-knowledge, and enhances the quality of our lives

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not have met my husband John.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not be a psychology professor.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not have written three textbooks.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not be the person I am today.

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again.”

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Read My Article in The Drive Magazine: https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback

 Your Turn:

What has failure taught you?

Watch Video of Post: Click Here

Windsor Updates Spotlight

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Community Spotlight 

Today I would like to shine a light on a local entrepreneur named Alex Binaei, the creative mind behind Windsor Updates and the video highlighted in this post.

Adversity → Creativity

Alex’s video for Windsor Updates is one of the best examples of how crisis and adversity create innovation and ingenuity. In both our community and in ourselves.

♥  Pass It On ♥

Windsor Updates

This video is a compilation of news, announcements, and local community members discussing the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic taking place in Windsor-Essex Ontario and around the world. Including offers of support, advice, and information.

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”

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Research on Social Support & Psychological Health

Being surrounded by people who are supportive helps individuals see themselves as capable of handling stress and adversity. Research has also shown that having strong social support in times of crisis can help reduce the consequences of trauma-induced disorders including PTSD.

Original Source: Click Here

Thank you Windsor Updates for including me in this vital project. Your ingenuity and generosity gives me strength and hope! ♥

What has COVID-19 awakened in you?

How is everyone doing?

How are you coping with our universal global event?

How has your perception of yourself and the world evolved?

How has COVID-19 transformed you?

What is the higher purpose in all of this?

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I Am Waking Up

After socially distancing and working full-time from home as a psychology professor (now online), I had never felt more appreciative and grateful for all the simple joys in my life.

In this video created for Windsor Updates I share how our family is thriving instead of merely surviving the COVID-19 crisis.

Including counting our blessings like never before.

Community Resilience

In the next video I share pandemic resilience techniques with our local Windsor Essex community.

An interactive virtual experience hosted by F45 fitness studio owner Samantha Piercell:

Your Turn

What has COVID-19 awakened in you?

Video of Post: Click Here

FOMO ANXIETY Simple Tips for Feeling Better

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

Psychology Insight:

Holidays heighten social anxiety of every kind.

FOMO especially.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Savour this moment.

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Free Yourself 🦋

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EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE

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

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

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

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

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

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CONTEMPLATION TIME

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

YOU GET ONE LIFE.

Make it yours. 

Dear Readers:

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

WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE.

This ^ is freedom.

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

Set a time limit on negativity.

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

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.

It helped us to 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.

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

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

In this interview I share why I set a time limit on negativity.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

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

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The timer principle can also be applied to how often we are negative vs. positive throughout the course of a day.

Negativity is the easy (automatic) route. So we need to be conscious of where our mind flows.

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

Joy needs room to breathe.

Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge has passed. Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.

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Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time. Even (especially) when life gets tough.

Balance is key.

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.

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Joy needs room to breathe. And so do you. ♥

Interview: Energy vs. Time Management

WHY change NOW?

The first question I ask clients wanting to make a change is “Why Now?”

For there is no doubt that they (and you and I) have been wanting to transform an aspect of our lives for a very long time.

But the intrinsic motivation just isn’t quite there. The kind of motivation that is essential for lasting change.

Unfortunately too many people wait for something bad to happen in their lives before making positive changes.

This is a universal truth.

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How do we “change” how we change?

We take two steps back before moving one step forward.

We pause. We slow down. We notice.

We open our eyes to all the possibilities.

We write our dreams down.

We take photos of what inspires us to bloom.

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We ask for honest feedback from people we trust.

We acknowledge what gets in the way of our potential. Big and small.

We compile all the reasons why our best lives shouldn’t wait another day.

And we have fun doing it! Positivity has power too. 🦋

Why change now?

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Watch My CBC-TV Interview:
5 Ways to Embrace Change

Reading People: Lesson #1 Self Awareness

“The simple act of paying attention can take you a long, long way.”

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Intrapersonal Intelligence ⇔ Interpersonal Intelligence

The first lesson in reading people, using the principles of emotional intelligence, is to understand yourself more deeply.

What motivates you. What excites you. What angers you. What lifts you up!

As self-awareness is essential for both personal and relationship success.

If you can’t comprehend your own emotions and motivations, how will you ever understand the behaviour of others?

Understanding Yourself  ⇔ Understanding Others

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Self-awareness as a daily practice.

Notice how your emotions ebb and flow throughout the day.

One way of doing this is to schedule time at the end or beginning of your day for quiet contemplation and self-reflection.

Find your favourite place to relax and unwind. Perhaps in the garden or in a cozy chair by the window. Or on a walk by the trees. 

Alternatively, enjoy a 2 minute “Self Check In” at the top of each hour.

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Pause. Reflect. Breathe Deeply.

Journal. Meditate. Create. 

What you will find is the more consistently you pay attention to your own drives and desires, the better you will understand the emotions and motivations of others.

Simple self-awareness exercise.

In the video below, I share the simple exercise I use to enhance self-awareness in myself and others. Can you guess the EQ questions I ask students?

Your Turn:

How would you describe yourself in one word?

To hear my “one word” — check out the 1 min video above.  📌🎥


Learn More

Reading People: Lesson #2 

Social Awareness

Psychology 101: Ask Dr. D.

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Getting to know my students is one of my favourite parts being a professor.

 Accordingly, I ask students a lot of questions.

So it’s only fair that students get to ask me questions too!

Why did you become a psychologist? 🎥

What’s most interesting about being a college professor? 🎥

I would love to hear your questions too! 💥

First impressions.

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I met a delightful group of people at a dinner party this past Saturday night. Which of course (like all social occasions) got my psychologist mind percolating.

Particularly when one of the guests leaned in halfway through dinner and stated “Andrea, you seem like the kind of person who never worries”. At which point my husband (laughed) chimed in and said “Oh she worries. Plenty”.

The surface of the iceberg is a glimpse of what lies below.

This conversation brings up three important points. One, how truly multifaceted we are. Two, how those closest to us know us best. And finally, how we (write) teach what we ultimately need to learn.

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I am a worrier. I’m also brave. I dream. I overwork. I ruminate. I relax. I overachieve. I doubt. I believe.

I am not one thing. And neither are you. We are all multifaceted. Equally.

Related Post: Who are you?

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

How will you move the world today?

What are you most excited about in your life right now?

What brings a smile to your face and makes your heart skip a beat?

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Each time you share your zest for life  — you move the world !

Related Post: Enthusiasm is contagious.

What’s your 2017 highlight?

“Time spent in reflection is never wasted.”

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My highlight of 2017 and every year since 2003 has been teaching psychology at St. Clair College.

I am so grateful for all the incredible students I’ve had the pleasure to meet and teach.

It has been a long and bumpy road to get here. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

Every twist. Every turn. Every high. Every low. This is what makes life so darn interesting.

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What was your 2017 highlight?

Expanding time.

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I was thinking about time tonight. It’s like a never ending circle that starts and stops at the same place. A perpetual loop heightened on a Sunday night.

And the only way to slow it down is to breathe in each moment. To notice each ephemeral hour. To rest gently in the arms of time.

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Related Post: The Sweet Spot

Would you rather be liked or respected?

Liked vs. Respected

This question came to mind last week when I took over a college class halfway through the semester.

I know how tough it is for students to have 2 professors over the course of a 12 week semester. 2 sets of rules. 2 sets of expectations.

So it’s more important than ever that I play my “first impression” card right.

Students are more likely to “test the limits with the “new teacher”. Accordingly, I use a more strict than usual demeanour at the start of summer semester.

It usually works well. As my tough love approach becomes more on the love side, and less on the tough side as the weeks roll by.

However, this time I knew my first class authoritarian approach was not going to work.

Suddenly I had my hands full right off the bat. One of my students was not impressed in any way.

After laying down the law, the student looked up at me and said: “I’m not going to like you very much.”

And I said: “Good, because I’m not here to be liked, I’m here to teach you something.”

The student loudly responded: “Good, because I just learned something!

To this day I am grateful for how much this student underscored my purpose in the classroom. 

I am not here to be liked. I am here to teach psychology.

A life lesson in self-worth that applies to us all.

“Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.”

Is Happiness a Choice?

The Happiness Question

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

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

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

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The Happiness Formula

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

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

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My Personal Experience

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

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

Watch: What Trauma Taught Me about Happiness

The Happiness Webcast

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

Happiness Talk
Click on Is Happiness a Choice  to learn more

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

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

The Happiness Choice

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

Who are you?

Self-awareness is the starting point for personal success. Until you know who you are, how will you know what truly motivates you?

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Reawaken your passion for life by reflecting on “Who you are“.

  • How would you describe yourself in one word?
  • What are 3 of your strengths?
  • What are 3 of your challenges?
  • When do you feel most alive?
  • What is your favourite movie? Book?
  • What is your dream job?
  • What is your dream place to live?
  • If you could have 5 minutes alone with anyone (dead or alive) who would that be? What would you ask them?
  • Do you prefer being indoors or outdoors?
  • What is (was) your favourite subject in school?
  • If you could own any car, what would it be?
  • What character trait is most important to you?
  • What makes your heart sing?
  • Do you prefer spending time alone or with people?
  • What is your favourite ice cream?
  • Are you a morning or a night person?
  • What is your favourite song? Band?
  • Finally… How do you define yourself at the very core of your existence?

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Nature soothes my soul.

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This photo was taken on one of my daily hikes up Blue Heron Hill.

One of my favourite places to go at the end of a long wintery day.

Each breath. Each step. Shifts me higher.

To a place of perfect peace. At one with the great big beautiful sky.

A divine connection. No words necessary. Heaven on earth indeed.

Related Post: Always looking up.

Where do you go to calm your mind and soothe your soul?

Blaming keeps us stuck.

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When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

Externalize the problem and blame someone else for it.

OR

Take responsibility for the problem and search for a solution.

It is only when we acknowledge our contribution to life circumstances that we have the power to change for the better.

Click here to learn more about Locus of Control.

Failure is the opportunity to begin again.

Ask someone how they feel about failure in the midst of it; life as they know it is over. 

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Ask someone how they feel about failure one year later; life as they know it has been transformed. 🦋 

5 Ways to Feel Strong in the Midst of Failure:

  1. Take a long deep breath. Be still. Don’t Rush.
  2. Find a safe place to challenge your fears & beliefs.
  3. Rest. Take a long walk. Eat a nourishing meal.
  4. Learn something new. Have Fun! Self-Discover.
  5. Imagine. Envision. Explore & Begin Again!

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Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

The healing power of imagination.

What images give you a sense of safety and protection in the midst of fearful thoughts?

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 I imagine angels in the sky and lions at my feet. You: What images shift you from fear to safety?

Related Research ⇒ The Effects of Guided Imagery on Anxiety