What’s my purpose?

What’s your perspective on purpose?


Is it something you do or something you are?


Is it ignited at birth?


Or at work?


Does it expire at death?


Or when you retire?

The way I see it.


Purpose is for a lifetime.


It’s what lights you up, and sets your soul on fire!

Video of Post: Click Here

Love is a Language – What’s Yours?

How do you express your love?

Take Quiz

  1. The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Singles: Click Here
  2. The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Couples: Click Here
  3. Paper Version of Quiz — Tap on Photo Below

Love and Social Psychology

One of the reasons I love teaching psychology is that it gives me the opportunity to share why we do what we do. Including in romance!

The more we understand ourselves, the more compassionate we will be about ourselves and others.

Self Awareness and Social Awareness go hand in hand.

So given today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a good time to resurrect a 2019 social psychology lecture on the 5 love languages.

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In this particular psychology class, we talked about: 1) what we value in a relationship, 2) our preferred love language, and 3) possible reasons for romantic successes and failures.

Discussed more fully in the two videos below.

The Theories of Love (Part 1)

In the first video I discuss the psychological theories and related life experiences that lay the foundation for a social psychology class on love and attraction (Chapter 14 in my psychology textbook).

The Reality of Love (Part 2)

In the second video I reflect upon the lessons learned in psychology class and how to apply these love lessons in real life.

Topics covered on video and in class:

  1. While dating, be on the lookout for concrete factual evidence of what is important to you. Both in person and online.
  2. For example, how does “love for family” show up in your potential partner’s actions.
  3. Also, if your relationship values include loyalty, spending time outdoors, and making mental health a priority. Is this something the person you are dating also values and lives by?
  4. It is also important to look beyond the surface and pay attention to nonverbal cues, communication, and behaviour.
  5. Do their words match their behaviour? For example, your date claims to be a great listener while spending the entire night checking their phone.

When people show you who they are, believe them.

Maya Angelou
FiveLoveLanguages-Web

Self-Reflection Questions

1. What do you value most?

  • trustworthiness
  • kindness
  • compassion
  • intelligence
  • sense of humour
  • physical attractiveness
  • attentiveness

2. How do you communicate love?

  • Listening
  • Encouraging
  • Helping
  • Love Notes
  • Surprise Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Affection
Love QuizClick Here
Love Video 1Click Here
Love Video 2Click Here

Does Your Self-Talk Energize You or Drain You?

How we talk to ourselves matters.

Especially at the start of a brand new day.

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

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

Psychology Homework:

The One Day at a Time Approach

Step One: Awareness

Begin by WAKING UP to your inner dialogue tomorrow morning.

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

Is it loving? Is it kind?

Step Two: Mirror Affirmations

Write an encouraging quote for yourself on your bathroom mirror.

At a loss for words?

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

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

Begin with your own.

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

Watch Video: Click Here

Rethink Time in COVID-19

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I find the perception of time fascinating.

Everyone experiences time differently.

Because time truly is relative.

Changing from situation to situation.

For example:

Time perception also varies from person to person.

For example:

Type A versus Type B

Time Defines Us

Taken one step further, time defines who we are, and ultimately who we become.

How we live our days is how we live our lives.

Moments → Hours → Days → Months → Lifetimes

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Mindful Time Management

Which is why the more conscious and aware we become about how we spend and prioritize our time, the more meaningful and satisfying our lives will become.

Time is Money Video

Concrete Examples of Time Usage

Rethink Time

Identify 5 ways you spend 100 units (dollars) of time each day. (As illustrated in the video)

  • For example: gardening (20 units), reading (20 units), writing (20 units), cooking (20 units), complaining (20 units)

Compare and contrast your “money time sheet” with family and friends.

When does time slow down for you? When does time speed up for you?

  • Do you lose “track” of time easily?
  • Is time something you consciously pay attention to?

Are you more influenced by external measures of time?

  • Or an internal “sense” of time?

internal clock.

Has your use of time changed since COVID?

Has your perception of time changed with age?

  • If so how?

The trouble is, you think you have time.

Jack Kornfield

Watch Video of Blog Post → Click Here

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!

Delaying Gratification Doubles The Reward

Is it worth the wait?

Reflection Questions

1. Do you consider yourself a patient person, an impatient person, or an impulsive person? Give situational examples for each.

For example: You may be more patient at work, but not at home. You may be able to control your impulses when it comes to food, but not when it comes to yelling at your spouse or children.

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2. Identify a time in your life where delayed gratification led to a superior outcome over immediate gratification.

For example: Saving money for a house versus buying impulse purchases on Cyber Monday. Working 2 jobs to pay for college tuition versus going out with friends every weekend night. Working out to strengthen your mental and physical health versus watching tv all day.

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3. Which factors determine your ability to be patient in challenging situations?

For example: faith, trust, comfort, financial security, long-term vision, full stomach, good night’s sleep.

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Inspiration for this Post

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study on delayed gratification in 1972 led by psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University.[1]

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In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for period of time. During this time, the researcher left the room for about 15 minutes and then returned.

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The reward was either a marshmallow or pretzel stick, depending on the child’s preference. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores,[2] educational attainment,[3] body mass index (BMI),[4] and other life measures.

Original Source: Click Here

Don’t forget to share your insights & reflections in the comments below!

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Video of Blog Post → Click Here

SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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Do you have a difficult time saying no?

While others in your life say no without a second thought.

Is this confusing and at times upsetting for you?

Are you hard on yourself because of this discrepancy between yourself and others?

You may be interested to discover that Saying No is not a one size fits all.

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Join me in my
virtual psychology classroom as I share one factor that explains why some people have more difficulty saying no and holding boundaries than others — Your Personality.

Feelers vs. Thinkers

Feelers

In this video I describe how individuals who are overly sensitive to the feelings of others (HSPs, Empaths, ENFJs) often focus on the needs of others to the exclusion of themselves.

Video: SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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❤️ Feelers take things more personally than thinkers.

Often causing feelers to say YES on the outside when on the inside their intuition is telling them to SAY NO.

Result = Mixed Messages + Unnecessary Stress

Thinkers

By contrast, individuals who are left brain dominant (thinkers on the Myers Briggs scale) are more straightforward and logical in their response to requests from friends and coworkers.

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Consequently, thinkers do not focus to the same extent on the emotions of “the requesters” in the same way that feelers (eg., ENFJ’s) on the on the Myers Briggs do.

💡 Saying no comes naturally to thinkers.

Thinkers know what they want and use analytics + logic not the emotions of the person in front of them as their guiding force.

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Learning from each other

On the plus side:

Feelers and thinkers make incredible teammates.

At work and in life.

Balance is everything. 🧠 + ❤️

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Additional Information

1. Right Brain versus Left Brain
2. Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
3. Learn About Myers Briggs Personality Profile
4. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

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Let me know in comments below how your personality impacts different areas of your life, including saying No.

Please share techniques you’ve developed for setting boundaries too!

I’d love to know!

Dr. D 📚

One Final Note:

In Addition to Personality and Individual Differences

Situation Also Impacts Our Ability to Say NO + Stand Firm

Video: Saying No is Easier When You Feel Safe

Uplifting Mantras for Uncertain Times.

Life lived backwards makes perfect sense. 

You finally understand WHY the job, the partner, the degree, the house, the friendship, the ______ didn’t work out. 

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BUT what about in the “here and now”?

How do we make the leap of faith during the darkest of days?

MANTRAS mantras mantras. 

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Find a phrase that moves you …

t h r o u g h ..

UP AND OVER…

into a place of trust and belief.

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Respect

The

Process

Breathe and RECEIVE

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Your journey is unfolding in the most magical and mysterious of ways.

Spread Your Wings 🦋

What if I fall … oh my darling … what if you F L Y..”

Related: Optimism Bootcamp Workshop

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

Radio Interview: Why People Refuse to Change Their Minds

Interview Now Available 📻☀️

I begin 6 min 24 sec into radio segment:  http://www.iheartradio.ca/am800/audio/sunday-morning-live-dr-andrea-dinardo-1.9561424?mode=Article

JULY 28 RADIO SHOW TOPIC:

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

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I would love your questions and reflections on the topic of why people refuse to change their minds and/or adjust their stance on a political, personal, relationship, or health issue — despite overwhelming factual evidence contrary to their personal opinions.

Watch video preview — click here

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

1. Have you ever refused to listen to contradictory viewpoints? Why?

2. What type of persuasive techniques does it take to change your mind?

3. Why do you think people prefer comforting lies over unpleasant truths

cognitivedissonanceradioshow

Cognitive dissonance can be reduced in one of three ways:

1) Change one or more of the attitudes, behavior, beliefs, etc., to make the relationship between the two elements a consonant one.

2) Acquire new information that outweighs the dissonant beliefs.

3) Reduce the importance of the cognitions (i.e., beliefs, attitudes).

McLeod, S. A. (2018, Feb 05). Cognitive dissonance.

wisdom

Interview Now Available 📻☀️

I begin 6 min 24 sec into radio segment:  http://www.iheartradio.ca/am800/audio/sunday-morning-live-dr-andrea-dinardo-1.9561424?mode=Article

Please share your ideas too!

DrAndreaDinardo.com

Radio Interview: Is Social Media Bad for Mental Health?

“Live” from the studio📻

http://www.iheartradio.ca/am800/audio/april-anderson-talks-to-dr-andrea-dinardo-1.9455483?mode=Article

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Your Input Please

I would love your questions and reflections on the topic of social media and well-being for my upcoming July 7 SUNDAY MORNING LIVE interview with host April Anderson on AM800 CKLW iHeart Radio. We will also be discussing thriving under pressure and why failure is good for us.

To watch video — click here

RADIO INTERVIEW OBJECTIVES

The goal of the interview is to give listeners the tools to enjoy the benefits of social media without sacrificing mental health and wellness.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What comes to mind when you think about social media? What’s your experience? The pros. The cons. The unexpected.

MY HOPE IS TO INCLUDE YOUR IDEAS IN THE JULY 7 RADIO INTERVIEW

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For example:

1. How does your phone and/or social media affect your mental health?
2. Your relationships?
3. Your mood?
4. Your memory?
5. Your self-esteem?

Please share in comments below.


JULY 7 INTERVIEW IS NOW AVAILABLE!

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Listen Here: Social Media & Mental 📻☀️

https://omny.fm/shows/am-800-cklw/april-anderson-talks-to-dr-andrea-dinardo

Save Your Energy For What Matters Most

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Time & Energy Audit

1. What area of your life do you need to slow down in?

2. What area of your life do you need to REV IT UP in?

ABCD Priority List

Make a list of all the things that you have to do today.

Order them in terms of A to D with A being what matters most.

For example:

A Priorities =

Eating healthy.

Studying for final exams.

Getting a good night’s sleep.

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D Priorities =

Watching Netflix until 2am.

Repeatedly checking Facebook posts.

Complaining about past relationships.

In this video I walk students through the ABCD process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n69viXICuEo

Our life changes when our priorities change.

What’s on your A list today?

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.

universe inside.png

Originally published on March 1 2017

Remember to breathe.

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the greatest impact on our happiness.

Something so close, so within reach, we often forget it was there in the first place. The good night’s sleep we’re yearning for; waiting patiently at the end of each day. The connection to nature we’re searching for; available 24/7 just beyond our front door. That extra deep breath; we frequently forget to take.

You possess a power so magnificent, so liberating, right under your nose.

breathe

Breathing is one of the few physiological functions that can be controlled both consciously and unconsciously. 

When everything feels out of control, breathing is the one thing that will always be within our control. The times we’re under the most amount of stress is the exact time we need to expand our breathing – not restrict it.

We must become conscious of breath.

The next time you’re under any kind of pressure. Stuck in traffic. Rushing from class to class. Dealing with a difficult customer at work. Desperately trying to recall answers on a final exam. Wake up to the formidable power that exists within you. Right here. Right now. Right under your nose.

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The deeper the breath. The deeper the peace.

Video of Post: https://youtu.be/zRSQw-LjU8k

Psychology Tips for Managing 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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Set a time limit on negativity.

Joy needs room to breathe.

And so do you. ♥

Additional Tips — Click Here

What’s your mantra?

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This is my mantra.

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

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

Focus on the good.

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

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

Mantras wake us up.

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

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

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

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What’s your mantra?

Related Post: Happiness in one word.

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?

Shifting Positive on a Stressful Day

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

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

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

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Shifting Negative ⇒ Positive

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

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

What We Focus on Expands

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

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

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

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

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

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How do you shift positive on a stressful day?

Related Post: Put a time limit on negativity.

Work hard. Rest. Repeat.

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To All Nursing Students, including my own:

If I were to assign any homework this week it would be to take a break.

10 minutes at a time.

5 times a day.

Because you have all worked exceptionally hard the past five weeks.

And a good rest is half the work.

Although things may not have gone your way.

Not exactly as you had planned.

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You are still here.

This is something to celebrate.

Because showing up and being fully present is the essence of being a spectacular nurse.

And training to be a nurse is as much about the journey as the knowledge itself.

Take a breath.

Take a rest.

Give yourself credit.

For ALL that brought you here.

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Focus on the ENTIRE process.

Not just one paper. Or one test.

Because the only way to finish a marathon is to take the water from the sidelines, eat the food along the way, and most importantly celebrate every step in the journey.

No matter how small.

No matter how challenging.

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I am sending you all good vibes.

All day long.

Every step of the way.

YOU GOT THIS !!

Dr. D 😊

And if you need an extra boost in the first semester of the second year of your BScN collab nursing program:

https://drandreadinardo.com/2018/01/12/reigniting-motivation

Are you left brain or right brain dominant?

Left and Right Brain

Understanding

Individual Differences

Have you ever wondered how your best friend lives so freely “moment-to-moment” while your mind is imprisoned by thoughts of past events and/or planning of future events (so neatly) written in your (overly structured) daytimer?

Brain Hemispheric Specialization provides insight into why some of us are more present focused and able to “go with the flow” (Right Brain dominant); while others are busy planning their days with the step-by-step precision of a NASA engineer (Left Brain dominant).

Left and Right Brain

Your Brain and Behaviour

Despite being identical in structure, the two halves of the brain specialize in how they process information (e.g., Past vs. Present), and how they function (e.g., Verbal vs. Nonverbal).

Time ProcessingPast vs. Present

  • Left hemisphere – processes information sequentially, one bit at a time
  • Right hemisphere – processes information globally, considering it as a whole

Brain FunctionsLinguistic vs. Spatial

  • Left hemisphere – includes verbal tasks, such as speaking, reading, thinking, and reasoning.
  • Right hemisphere – includes nonverbal areas such as the understanding of spatial relationships, recognition of patterns and drawings, music, and emotional expression,

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Neuroscience in Your Life

  1.  Complete the Left/Right Brain Dominance Test to find out which brain hemisphere currently dominates your life.
    • Personally, I obtained a score of 10 on this test – indicating that I am equally Left and Right Brained.
      • Which didn’t surprise me as I often “lay the table” with outlines, organizers, etc. (Left Brain) and the moment I feel safe, grounded, and prepared, I sit back and watch the ideas fly! (Right Brain)
    • What about you? How did you score on the Left/Right Brain Dominance Test? Was it what you expected? Were the results consistent with how you live your life? Did you learn something new about yourself?

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2. Watch the following 20 minute video to: a) learn firsthand about L-R brain specialization and b) discover how Neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor turned her real-life tragedy into an awe inspiring “Stroke of Insight“.  I am still moved to tears by her story! I hope you are too. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is resilience personified.

The more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemisphere, the more peaceful our planet will be.

TEDx Speaker Jill Bolte Taylor

Psychology Class

This post is a summary of this week’s psychology lecture and Chapter 2 of my psychology textbook.

Free Psychology Chapter

If you want to learn more, you can download a free PDF of my neuroscience and behaviour chapter by clicking on this link.

My TEDx Resilience Talk

Thriving Under Pressure

Lay down your burdens.

No more futile tests.

No more unrelenting trials.

No more self inflicted tribulations.

Lay down your burdens.

Let. Them. Go.

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Take a breath. Take a rest.

You have strengthened from your burdens.

You have overcome great obstacles.

You have developed. You have grown.

You have earned your freedom ten times over.

Trust your wisdom. Trust your wings.

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 This is your time to fly.

It’s ok not to be ok.

As a positive psychologist, I often write about the bright side of life. Including harnessing strengths, enhancing motivation, and flourishing in the wake of adversity.

Not the whole picture

While strengths are vital to realizing one’s full potential – it’s not the whole picture when it comes to living a balanced life.

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Embrace the downside

We must also create a safe place to welcome the parts of ourselves (and our life) that weigh us down and cause us despair.

In doing so, we soften the grip of its pain. Whether it be suffering from years gone by or a hardship in current time.

Give pain room to breathe.

its ok to not be ok.

Give disappointments, conflicts, and lost dreams room to breathe.

You are not inadequate because you have depression. You are not unworthy because you’re divorced. You are not unloveable because you have anxiety. You are not undesirable because you’re unemployed. You are not undeserving because you’re broke.

You’re perfect just the way you are

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Life ebbs and flows, comes and goes. Like the waves on the ocean shore. You are forever. Your potential grows. It’s ok not to be ok. What comes – also goes.

Welcome it all.

Trust the music.

Stop expecting others to validate what you hear (see and feel).

The music is not “out there”.

The music is in you.

A beautiful melody that only you can hear.

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Listen. Be still. Take a long deep breath.

Fear not who you are. Fear not what you hear.

You are the symphony.

Trust the music that is in you.

And dance a little freedom dance. 

For all the world to see.

Related Post: I believe in you.

Are you a highly sensitive person (HSP)?

Do you experience more stress than the average person? Are you overly sensitive to external stimuli. Chances are, there is nothing wrong with you or your coping strategies.

Instead, your brain may be more sensitive to stress than the average person. You may in fact, be what Dr. Elaine Aron has coined “A Highly Sensitive Person” (HSP).

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Neurological differences found in HSP’s.

Brain scans show that HSP’s have “heightened activity in empathy-related brain regions” including the anterior insula (insular cortex), highlighted in the brain scan below.

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The intensified response of highly sensitive people (HSP) to stress is not a choice – it’s biological. HSP brains are wired differently than the average person. This fact has been clearly supported by scientific research.

Self Test: Are You Highly Sensitive?

  1. Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  2. Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  3. Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  4. Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  5. Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  6. Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  7. Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  8. When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?        

Source: HSP Self-Test                                                                                            

Harnessing HSP’s Strengths.

The main challenge for most HSP’s is to acknowledge their heightened emotional sensitivity, understand their unique emotional needs, and finally to employ distinctive strategies for coping with stress.

Helpful websites and resources below –

  1. A Guide to the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) by Dr. Judith Orloff
  2. Coping Strategies for the Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Ted Zeff
  3. How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Dr. Elaine Aron
  4. Highly Sensitive People in the Workplace by Janine Ramsey
  5. With Care, You and Your Sensitivity Will Flourish by Deborah Ward

Cherish your sensitivity. It is your superpower.

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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You were born to thrive.

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Do not fear challenge or adversity.

Run towards it. Not away from it.

Use it consciously. As a stepping stone.

To ascend. To soar.

To propel yourself forward.

To begin again. 

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

You were born to thrive!

Watch my video for helpful strategies on how to thrive.

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.

Stressful Times: Empowering Life Lessons

 Question your stress. It has a lesson for you.

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1/ Identify a stressor / challenge in your life. Be specific.

For example: Not enough money. Too busy. Lack of sleep. Pushy relative.

Your Answer: ______________________________

2/ What is this stressor / challenge trying to teach you?

For Example: Slow down. Change jobs. End a relationship. Get help. Breathe.

Your Answer: ______________________________

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3/ How did you overcome challenges in the past? Be specific.

For Example: Trusted myself. Reached out. Held on. Said no. Moved on.

Your Answer: ______________________________

4/ Which strength will help you overcome current challenge?

For Example: Faith. Patience. Positivity. Reflection. Connection. Laughter.

Your Answer: _______________________________

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5/ List positive results of mastering this stressor / challenge.

For Example: Enhanced self-esteem. Less negativity. More authenticity.

Your Answer: _______________________________

What empowering lessons have your stressors & challenges taught you?

Happiness is a conscious process.

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When you notice the blessings in your life (big or small), happiness happens. One conscious thought. One mindful emotion. One insightful gesture. One moment of wonder.. at a time.☀️

Inspiration: 21 positive thoughts for your morning. 

Hold the vision. Trust the process.

Create a vision for your life that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

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This “Why Vision Board” was created by my psychology students this past September.

Why Vision Boards in the classroom.

At the beginning of the semester, I ask my nursing students to share their reasons “why” they wanted to become a nurse. Why this program?

This simple question gives students insight into what motivates them. Something I consciously tap into throughout the school year.

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Students are enthusiastic about learning at the start of  the semester. New textbooks. Colourful notebooks. Dreams still fresh in their minds.

Illuminating lifelong dreams has the most impact midway through the school term.

This is when students truly need a boost in motivation (right about now). This is the time where I insert their original “Why” vision board into my PowerPoint lecture slides.

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 “Why Vision Board” created by a different group of students.

Halfway through the semester, students are surprised to see a photo of their own words, projected onto the big screen.

They are instantly drawn back into their reason “Why”.

An animated discussion ensues where students compare their initial motivations with their current state of mind and affairs.

Rekindling their dreams. Giving them a much needed reminder as to why they picked their program in the first place

What’s changed? What’s stayed the same. And why?

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Why Vision Board” in action!

Ultimately, their “why vision board” transports them to a higher place, well above the stresses of their exams, to a place where all their dreams began.

Boosting their motivation. Lifting them up. Multiplying their energy.

A simple why? question that works. Every single time.

Reminding them why their dreams matter.

Why school matters. Why they matter.

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Reignite instrinsic motivation in one simple step: Ask yourself “Why?” you do what you do. Every chance you get!

Related Post: What's your why?

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.

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

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

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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.

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.💫

Helpful Video: 3 Energy Techniques 

What’s your stress threshold?

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Recently, a fellow blogger asked an excellent question regarding tipping points and stress response.

They were curious to know if each of us has a tipping point when it comes to stress management.

And if so, how does it differ from person to person.

I love questions like this because they encourage me to dig deep, reflect, and imagine new ways of perceiving stress.

Stress Thresholds

Tipping points and thresholds are often used synonymously in the literature. Especially when discussing economic, historical, and ecological phenomenon.

That said, there is a clear distinction between thresholds and tipping points in psychological applications.

Thresholds are more individual (unique to each person), while tipping points are more universal (shared by the majority).

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Which is why I see each person’s stress response as more of a stress threshold than a tipping point.

  • Thresholds vary from person to person (e.g., Type A vs. Type B), situation to situation (e.g., Work vs. Personal), and are based on individual strengths, challenges, and personal history.

See diagram above to help understand how thresholds affect your individual stress response. This graphic also depicts why a certain level of stress (below threshold) can be good for you.

  • Assess when you cross the threshold from your optimal stress zone (eustress) into your overload stress zone (distress).

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Situational Stress, Anxiety, and Thresholds

We may be good at some things, but we are not great at everything.

For example, the more challenging academic work is for me (high stress threshold) the more I flourish. Mostly because this is my area of expertise.

While this is not the case with other areas of my life (low stress threshold) and thus I tend to react (too quickly) when under pressure in certain personal situations.

In addition to overall stress response patterns, thresholds differ from one situation to the next.

Situational fluctuations in thresholds reflect our strengths, challenges, and personal preferences.

I discuss the topic of situational stress and anxiety in more detail during my Mental Health Matters Interview with Dr. Garland.

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From Negative to Positive Stress

Finally, I believe that our ability to cope and thrive under pressure is a lifelong practice. Something that is never mastered – only strengthened.

And the more we learn about life and ourselves, the higher our thresholds will become. As the majority of our stress is beating ourselves up – long after the stressor is gone.

3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure

Reflection Questions About Stress

  1. How does your stress threshold differ from others?
    • Compare your personal stress threshold to family members, friends, coworkers.
      • Are you the most high strung of your siblings?
      • Are you the most carefree teacher in the school?
  2. In what situations is your stress threshold higher vs. lower?
    • Compare your situational stress threshold across multiple settings.
      • When do you stress out at work?
        • Is it only during public presentations?
      • In contrast, when are you more relaxed relaxed and easy going?
        • Are you more relaxed during independent work?
  3. What are the benefits of stress and pressure in your life?
    • When has stress been good for you?
      • e.g., motivating and energizing
    • How has pressure helped you achieve your goals?

From Fear to Love.

How do you talk to yourself?

Have you ever noticed that the more challenging life gets the more critical you are of yourself.

And the more critical you are of yourself the more challenging life becomes.

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It’s a fearful, exhausting, repetitive loop that feeds on itself.

When you’re under extreme pressure, the last thing you need is another self-talk rant of why you’re not good enough.

What you do need is a boatload of unconditional love.

 Resilience is built on love.

And so are you.

Today vow to give yourself the gift of more love, more kindness, more generosity.

A gift that will keep on giving.

Long after the stress is gone.

Find an affirmation or a positive quote that makes you stop, take a breath, and feel your heart beating deep inside.

Something that reminds you of how magical you truly are.

Post it on your fridge.

Write it on your mirror.

Save it on your phone.

Stress is surviving.

Love is thriving.

The next time you start beating yourself up over the smallest thing, take it as a sign that you need some extra love and tender care.

The more love you give yourself, the more generous, authentic, and compassionate all of your relationships will be.

Including the relationship you have with your innermost self.

Related: Mirror Affirmation Exercise

Follow your feelings.

Instead of focusing on what you want TO DO.

Focus on how you want TO FEEL.

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Desired Feeling ⇔ Supporting Behaviour

  1. Strong ⇔ Move your body.
  2. Valuable ⇔ Help someone.
  3. Lighthearted ⇔ See a funny movie.
  4. Joyful ⇔ Go dancing with friends.
  5. Free ⇔ Unshackle from daily regimes & routines.
  6. Inspired ⇔ Spend time with immigrants.
  7. Peaceful ⇔ Look up at the stars.
  8. Empowered ⇔ Do what makes your heart sing.

How do you want to feel today?

What could you do today to augment how you want to feel?

Which action or behaviour supports your chosen, most desired emotion?

Related Post: Shifting Positive

 

The miracle in this moment.

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Miracles are everywhere.

The only catch is that we have to “be here now” to notice them.

Gratitude speeds their discovery.💫

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What are you grateful for?

Right here. Right now.

In this moment – I am grateful for this hot cup of coffee. And for this delicious lunch. I am grateful for Tim Horton’s camp day. I am grateful for the generosity of Tim Horton’s customers.  I am grateful to be Canadian.

Miracles are everywhere.

Your attention unlocks the key.

The miracle (of this moment) was that I was so wrapped up in the busyness of my day that I did not wake up to the fact that today was #CampDay. (A big deal for Canadians.)

It wasn’t until I began searching for what I was grateful for (in this moment in time) that I woke up to the vibrant coloured balloons and bold inscription on my Timmies coffee cup.

It wasn’t until I went looking for (and expecting) miracles that I realized I was surrounded by one. 💙

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Miracles are everywhere.

What do you see?

At this moment in time.

What are you grateful for? Right in front of you.

 

Miracles are everywhere.

They will set you free.

What miracle did you discover?

Right here. Right now.

What miracle did you find – that had been there all along?

What’s your why?

Shifting from Extrinsic to Intrinsic Motivation

We live in a world that rewards frivolous behaviour with fame and fortune, so it is no wonder that some students expect their motivation to come from the outside, in the same way that reality show contestants expect to win a million dollars, simply by “showing up”.

How can we change this? What impact can we have on millennial, tech savvy students expecting instant gratification in our classrooms?

We start by reminding students (and ourselves) that motivation begins on the inside. We show students why external motivators will never sustain them. The overjustification effect is just one example of this fact.

Better yet, we tap into students’ own life experiences to ignite long-term commitment and motivation. Students often forget the feelings of joy and anticipation they felt when they first opened their acceptance letters to school.

In the midst of going to class, applying for OSAP, juggling family, work, and school demands, and paying bills, students often forget why they applied to their programs in the first place.

There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. William Barclay

Sometimes, igniting motivation is as simple as asking students “Why?” they are at college in the first place. Why?” exercises help students get to the heart of what motivates them, guides them, keeps them going. From early morning classes to late night study sessions to unexpected academic costs to making it through final exams.

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 How I incorporate “Why?” exercises into lectures:

  1. I ask students to relax, sit back, close their eyes, and take a deep breath.
  2. Next, I ask them to visualize the day they applied to college and ultimately received their acceptance letters.
  3. Finally, students are asked “Why?” they wanted to go to college in the first place – what’s their ultimate mission and motivation for getting a diploma in their chosen field.

Student answers to this simple, yet complex question of “Why?” is so varied, so unique to each student. Yet, each answer is united by the same ideal, the same belief: Hope

Students are searching for something better, to change for the better, to make the world better. They want to save lives as nurses, to design hybrid cars as engineering technologists, to help children who are abused as child & youth care workers, to inspire their own children by being college educated, to be independent and self-sufficient, to do what they love, and most of all, students yearn to make a difference in this world.

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Sustaining Motivation and Commitment

Once written down, I encourage students to carry their answers (in one word, if possible) in their wallets, post them on the bathroom mirror, on their phones, in their cars, and look to their “Why?” every time they need inspiration.

Their answers remind them “Why?” they choose to study for midterms, “Why?” they choose to write research papers, “Why?” they choose to attend class rather than do something that brings instant gratification.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. Nietzsche

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I believe so strongly in using “Why?” exercises that I incorporated them into my psychology textbook.

Intrinsic motivation can be taught in so many ways. During “Why?” Exercises, students teach me. They teach me that hope is enough to sustain us through the hard times. Hope is enough to push us through life’s challenges. And the most important lesson of all is that hope mixed with drive, self-determination, and hard work changes lives for the better.

Students are my reason why.

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“Why?” do you do what you do?

Just Breathe.

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the greatest impact on our happiness.

Something so close, so within reach, we often forget it was there in the first place. The good night’s sleep we’re yearning for.. waiting patiently at the end of each day. The connection to nature we’re searching for.. available 24/7 just beyond our front door. That extra deep breath.. we so often forget to take.

You possess a power so magnificent, so liberating, right under your nose.

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Breathing is one of the few physiological functions that can be controlled both consciously and unconsciously.

When everything feels out of control, breathing is the one thing that will always be within our control. The times we’re under the most amount of stress is the exact time we need to expand our breathing – not restrict it.

We must become conscious of breath.

The next time you’re under any kind of pressure. Stuck in traffic. Rushing from class to class. Dealing with a difficult customer at work. Desperately trying to recall answers on a final exam. Wake up to the formidable power that exists within you. Right here. Right now. Right under your nose. Breathe.

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Happiness in One Word

 

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At the beginning of my Is Happiness a Choice? presentation I ask the audience to write down the one word that best describes what has brought them the most happiness in the past 12 months.

How would you answer this question?

In one word, what best describes the people, places, or things, that have brought you the most happiness in the past 12 months? Big or small.

What makes life worth living?

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I’m pictured here with St. Clair College graduates Olivia Bauer and Sarah Ryrie.

My One Word = Students.

The one thing that brings me the most joy, meaning, and contentment is the opportunity to work with Canada’s future, our students. It’s the one place that I believe I’m making the most difference in this world.

Wake Up Call.

Every time I get a little down, frustrated, and/or disappointed (basically anytime I’m feeling powerless or stuck) by the circumstances of life (we all have ups and downs, positive psychologists included), I bring myself back to the “One Word” that best describes how blessed I am to be alive.

And some days my one word = Chocolate

May the one word you write down be a beautiful reminder of all the light that shines in your life, even on the darkest of days. And please don’t forget to share your one word for happiness. Your one word may be someone else’s wake up call to joy. ⏰✨

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