In addition to spending time in self reflection and reality testing, it is important to open up the conversation to the community at large.
In doing so we move into collective problem-solving, empowering solutions, and public health education.
Be Yourself: Happy. Healthy. Hopeful.
Turning Self-Criticism into Self-Compassion
“In this episode, Stephani and Dr. Dinardo speak about what positive psychology is, turning your perceived flaws into strengths by moving from self-criticism to self-compassion, posttraumatic growth and how adversity can be beneficial to us, boundaries around social media use, the magic of prevention work and maintaining hope”. Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (BANA)
In this short video I share the thoughts that go through my mind as I walk into a classroom and meet my psychology students for the first time. I also discuss the specifics of how I connect with and encourage students each new day.
What goes through your mind when you walk into a room?
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
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
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.
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!
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.
This blog post and classroom video above are dedicated to all the students around the world struggling to stay motivated midway through the winter semester. I am cheering you on! Encouraging you to not give up. This post is also meant for you – My Fellow Student of Life. 📕❤️
I am excited to share an interview, photos, and a short video clip from yesterday’s TEDx Event at the University of Windsor. It was one of the most positive speaking experiences I’ve ever had. Truly magical.
TEDx Dream Team
Thank you for letting me share my dream of being on the TEDx stage! The official TEDx video will be posted soon. 🎥
I have some exciting news to share! I was recently chosen to be a TEDx speaker for the University of Windsor TEDx Event on Sunday, January 28, 2018.
The theme of the event is “Diamonds from Pressure”. Which fits in beautifully with my psychology blog — Thriving Under Pressure.
TEDx Diamonds from Pressure
TEDx Posters Everywhere!
What are TEDx Talks?
“A TEDx event is an independently operated, community driven event. The talks are no more than 18 minutes in length, are idea-focused, and cover a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder – and provoke conversations that matter.” Source: Ted.com
TEDx Preparation in Six Steps
The process of preparing a TEDx Talk has been quite different from any other keynote or seminar I have given. I have maximum 18 minutes to convey an original idea. So I have no choice but to get right to the point. Which is a very good thing!
Step 1: Create an Outline
In developing my speech, the first thing I did was create a storyboard for my TEDx script. (see below) I set it up like scenes in a movie. 5 scenes. 3-4 minutes per idea. 🎥
The purpose of my TEDx Talk is to help people thrive on their journey from stress to strength.
Step 2: Let Your Ideas Flow
This is where you let your imagination run free. Luckily inspiration flowed in from everywhere! So much so that while at the movies last month, I was struck by an idea with only a movie napkin nearby. So I did what all writers do, I wrote on whatever material I could find. Hoping to capture one fleeting burst of insight.
TEDX Napkin Edition
TEDx Ideas in the Making
Step 3: Edit TEDx Script
In case you’re wondering, there are approximately 2500 words in an 18 minute TEDx speech. Thus I have been equally busy downsizing, condensing, and editing my script. Focus is the goal. Less is more!
Step 4: Rehearse Rehearse Rehearse
Practice your TEDx speech as often as you can. In the mirror. On your run. In the car. At the mall. In front of anyone who is willing to listen. Stay open to feedback. As much as you can. Record yourself and listen back. This is especially important for hitting the 18 minute time limit. I used an audio to text dictation iPhone app called TEMI that helped tremendously.
Step 5: Take a TEDx Break
Now complete, it’s time to rest and enjoy some”Breathing Space“. As unrelenting work rarely fosters positive energy. Best to gear down before gearing up for the big TEDx day. Sign me up for a movie night, a kickboxing session, and a homemade dinner. Doctor’s orders. ♥
Step 6: Test out TEDx Red Carpet
TEDx Diamonds from Pressure is just 10 days away. The outline, the structure, and the body of TEDx complete. The stories worked out. The edits made. Just one last dress rehearsal on the TEDx stage!
The one word I hear repeatedly from students this time of year is drowning.
Drowning in bills. Drowning in midterms. Drowning in research.
Not a pleasant thought. And definitely not energizing.
A sinking feeling that takes student motivation from 100 to 0 in an instant.
By thought alone.
How can we help students to feel more empowered in the midst of winter weather, too many midterms, and not enough time.
We meet students where they’re at. By embracing that stressful, drowning thought and transforming it into a peaceful, floating feeling. By helping students feel safe and supported. In and out of the classroom.
Trusting the Flow.
We remind students of their resilience. We show them how far they’ve come. We encourage them to flow with the moment instead of fighting against the current. Then and only then can the focused learning begin.
I work hard. Too hard sometimes. And I bet you do too. On one hand, that’s fantastic. You wouldn’t be where you are without steadfastness and sacrifice. On the other hand, having a singular focus on work ultimately shortchanges your potential.
Rest is part of the equation.
Rest is critical for success. At life and work. We must pace ourselves on the long road to abundance. Give our mind, bodies, and spirits a chance to restore themselves. A moment to mend. A chance to recover.
The sweetest rewards are earned.
We must reward ourselves in small ways (and in big ways too). After the work is done. In between exams. After a semester of late night study sessions. Once all the exams are marked and final grades handed in.
You decide when. You decide where. You decide how.
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.
How I incorporate “Why?” exercises into lectures:
I ask students to relax, sit back, close their eyes, and take a deep breath.
Next, I ask them to visualize the day they applied to college and ultimately received their acceptance letters.
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.
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
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.
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?
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. ⏰✨