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Today, I woke up thinking about the word, Precipice.   According to the World English Dictionary, Precipice means the steep sheer face of a cliff or crag or a precarious situation.  The definition has me envisioning myself standing right on the edge of said cliff, looking down into an abyss of precariousness.  That sounds scary, right?  I mean…what is down there?

In my musings, I’ve determined that what lies in that deep dark place is a decision that a person is fearful of making and the dark abyss is our own doubts making us wonder if we would survive the decision (the leap) and its resulting consequences.  A precipice is something that we encounter in our lives when we are making huge, life changing decisions such as deciding to change a job or become self-employed, or even when we are deciding whether or not we want to stay in our current relationships.  Those types of decisions have us in a complete tizzy because they have the power to change our whole lives, our whole routine, and it can be for the better or for the worse, if we will it so.

I think all people have these points in their lives where they feel they are at the precipice of something.  Something has them wanting to adjust an integral part of their lifestyles and they are standing at that cliff’s edge wondering if they would be strong enough to navigate the darkness and still land on their feet at the bottom if they took that leap.  To them, it can seem impossible and that hypothetical death seems certain.  They know something needs to change if they are unhappy and that’s how they got to that cliff’s edge in the first place but the fear traps them in their situation and often, that is just where their lives stagnate with minimal growth because they cowered from that edge.

But what if we had options? Instead of thinking of the leap causing pain with a broken and devastating collapse at the bottom of the dark abyss, what if we believed we could make it over and to the other side (even if we are a bit bloody and bruised when we landed?)  We, at Positivity Works!, feel that a person’s confidence and belief in themselves and their reselience is what gives our minds the super powers to fly over the doubt and fear.  Remember, this precipice is not literal.  It was created, developed, and made darker and scarier by our own minds, doubts, fears, and experiences.  We will make it through the decision we make no matter what (i.e. how hard it is, how stressful it is, how much it makes us cry), because we have trained our minds to be that strong.  It is the truth if we will it so. And if our truth is that nothing in that abyss can hurt us because we created it, then we will always win.  Just as whatever happens in life is just an occurence and if you believe you can get through it, you will.

Today, the word Precipice was on my mind because I  have a big decision to make.  But no matter what I decide, I know that I will survive because I know my mind is strong enough for the leap.  I will make it to the other side and so will you, just train your mind to believe it and will your body to get it done.

If you, positive thinker, are also at a precipice,  here  is some musical inspiration to help you with your own leap to the other side.  You’ve got this.

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This world, in its most recent history, has seen multiple wars, multiple natural disasters and more than a few everyday stressors.  All incidents that can create so much stress and strife.  We don’t often speak, here at Positivity Works!, about the reasons why we need to be positive.  We most often just provide resources and information about how to attain and maintain your positivity.   However, the why can be important because the why is often the story that is hiding behind the fake smile on your face when you answer “Fine” after the 5th person  that day asks you “How are you?”  when you really feel the complete opposite.  In fact, you would probably love to confide in them and feel that they really hear you and care (and won’t spread your business).

And just imagine, if they did, if they were open to you and tolerant enough to give you the time and hear you.  How would you feel?  I’d imagine that there would be some feelings of positivity associated because the why was no longer lurking in your head but now out there for you to process, freeing you to think/feel other things. And, if you train your mind correctly, those thoughts would be positive in nature.

We here at Positivity Works! are of the opinion that we need to be positive because it builds our tolerance to pain and hurt.  It builds our tolerance to the reality of the multiple wars, disasters,  and grievances and helps us to go on living.   It even builds our tolerance to physical pains.  For example, convincing yourself that “you got this” in a middle of a torturous run can really be the thing to push you past the pain of the cramp in your side.  Positivity can also build your tolerance for others when you would like nothing better than to *&^BKJD!!! (insert *be really mean to them*).  Being able to turn away from them with a smile is much better than being arrested, don’t you think?

Words to think on…Be Tolerant.

“Though all society is founded on intolerance, all improvement is founded on tolerance.”  –George Bernard Shaw

                  “Intolerance is evidence of impotence.” –Aleister Crowley

    “Anger and intolerance are the twin enemies of correct understanding.”              Mahatma Gandhi

 

A while back I was noticing this great trend of advertising that promoted positive lifestyle choices or keeping a positive outlook.  Most of that trend began when the world started to recognize economic strife and needed a little encouragement to get out and stimulate the sickly economy (i.e. convince consumers, with a big smile and a hug, to spend their hard-earned money on their products).

Regardless of the fact that the intent was to stimulate spending and not necessarily improve mental health, the sentiment and message was and still is, nice.  Because of that, we will continue to point out that type of advertising because they seem responsible and are meeting the needs of their public.  They are right.  Sometimes we do need a hug and a smile when we are going through  hardships, even when that hug and a smile is cloaking a hard sell.  And sometimes we just wanna buy stuff!  Hey, if it makes us happy… (but be responsible my fellow shop-a-holic sisters and brothers)

So, since I find the idea of what I call “happiness marketing” to be such a grand thing, I always notice it and think to share with all of you positive thinkers. I mean, what if you missed it? 😉

The most recent find has been these new Kaiser Permanente radio commercials.   They are just wonderful (as we gush, please note we here at Positivity Works! have no affiliation with any advertisers we mention. We just heart things sometimes).  The campaign focuses on well-being and are entitled “Thrive”.  Kaiser touts them as supporting the mind, body and spirit.  Each one spreads a positive message about mental and physical health in an engaging and educational way.

There is one about the healing and mood boosting powers of music and assigns you a “sonic prescription” for using music as self-care when you’re feeling down.  And the play therapist in me absolutely loves the one that tells you to “put the play back in your day” and how play (i.e. doing the things you love) can keep you young and healthy.

There is another about how happy people “tend to be happier” and they give us some statistics about it and great ideas too!  My favorite line…”Is it just me, or do happy people seem to get all the breaks?”  The ad seems to be making a point about self-fulfilling prophecies (mental health jargon) and the idea that if you believe that you can be happy and that things will go well for you, they will.  Love it.  (Did that blow your mind? Yes, we know.  Big thinking goes on here *insert smug smile*).

To check out the ads mentioned and get exposed to some great resources that benefit your overall health, click on the links below and check out the Kaiser Permanente Thrive website here.

Kaiser Ad – Thrive: Music Therapy

Kaiser Ad – Thrive: The Power of Play

Kaiser Ad – Thrive: Come on get Happy

Isn’t it strange how when one thing goes wrong, it feels like ten others follow? You get a flat tire, which causes you to be late for work, then you forget an appointment you had, then… Well, you get my point.  I could go on forever because that’s how these things work.  They go on forever if you let them.  I think these things, let’s call them disappointments, sneak up on you like a bad cold and they are always a shock and very unwelcome.  When they happen, you think, as a responsible person, that you should be prepared and then you reprimand yourself for not being psychic and preventing the problem in the first place.  Because, of course, you should have known. Right?

Well…not really.  Let’s think about it rationally in an effort to cut ourselves some slack.  When an incident, one of these disappointments, occurs, we immediately use all of our mental resources (and any other resources we have at the time, including financial) to cope with the shock to our routine. We do this because we instinctively do everything we can to get our lives back to the status quo, which is really the everyday routine that we are used to.   We like that routine because we are the experts at it.  We know what time we are supposed to get to work everyday, we know who we are going to see and we know how much of our mental and monetary resources we will need to use on a regular basis.

When that comfortable routine is sent off-course, we get stressed out.  Stress leads to mental and physical discomfort and then, guess what? You are not feeling as efficient and confident as you were prior to the commencement of the first disappointment.  Therefore, you are more likely to be susceptible to making small mistakes and doubting yourself.  In addition, those small mistakes feel really big when you’re feeling down.

If we let it, feeling down can become the new routine and that is how depressive symptoms can arrive and take a toll on you and your family.  It is hard to feel confident, successful, and positive when you expect everything to go wrong and if you expect things to go wrong, most likely they will.

A person’s thoughts are their greatest weapon in combating the disappointments in life.  You are what you think (and occasionally what you eat, ha ha).  I have always tried to instill a belief within myself and my clients that whatever we go through, we will get through it somehow and be stronger for it.  And you know what usually happens? We get through it and we are stronger for it because we lived it and we learned our lesson for the next time.

Living life has its ups and downs.  Sometimes it feels like it has more downs but if you really start to believe that there is no way up, then it will only get harder for you because it is likely that you will get what you expect. Positivity really does work in these instances because a positive mindset motivates you to believe that when life does give you lemons, you can make a really yummy glass of lemonade and share it with your loved ones once the lemons stop pelting you in the head.

Next time the first disappointment hits, please try the following: Believe it gets better. Enjoy your life. Smile big and give someone a hug. Do something that makes you laugh. Make plans to do something you used to enjoy and call it self-care, because you need it. Forgive yourself. We all make mistakes, but we don’t all rebound from them.  Rebound. And make some lemonade. Oh…and send me some, I do love me some lemonade. =)

 

It is a new year and already it feels like it is running past me at hyper speed.  I made a resolution to be more organized in the year 2011.  What I should have done was make a resolution to invent a time machine so that I can pause time and do all the work I have to do.  Unrealistic? Of course (especially because I can’t even imagine how to start that darn time machine), but it would probably be the easiest way to ensure that my organizational goals are met.

Another way is to start to change my way of thinking and doing. Clearly, if it is a resolution that had to be made, there is indication that I must have been having difficulties managing myself, my time, my paperwork, and my personal life.  Therefore, the way I made decisions and the actions I took in the year 2010 somehow failed my expectations and this resulted in a decision that something needs to change.

Now, my first thought was…write a to-do list. I already have lots of to-do lists! That used to work for me.  I am now aware that while my trusty to-do list and the highly satisfing check marks next to the completed tasks make me feel good, something more needs to be done.  With that in mind, I thought of my biggest hindrance to becoming a oganizational genius and it really is time.  I am just one person and sometimes one person needs assistance to releive the burden.   So, my plan is now to get more organized by attaining help with completing important tasks, utilizing my to-do list along with weekly deadlines, and use electronic resources to maintain records. With a plan in place, I now feel that while a time machine would be amaaaazing,  my plan should suffice and if it does not, then I will know to try to tweak the plan until eventually I come up with one that works for me.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you will know that we here at Positivity Works! are big on self-awareness, planning, goal-setting and reframing negative thoughts.  A resolution can happen at the new year or any other time in life.  Resolutions are really ways in which a person recognizes a need for change and vows to improve themselves.  If you can be self-aware enough, all times of the year, to acknowledge when change is needed in your life, then you will be a better thinking you and that’s really the most valuable thing to someone seeking positivity and good mental health.  Whatever your resolution is, was, or will be, remember why you are making changes and if it is not going to make you a  happier person, then it may be the wrong resolution for the wrong reasons.

Happy New Year!

So, I have this thing where I give myself at least 15 minutes of “me time” per day.  I made this commitment quite a while ago and I must say, I think this practice has become a veritable source of boundless energy. Oh, if only those swanky coffee houses knew what they had missed out on as the next best thing…giving adults a time out.  I mean, think about it.  It was a technique we learned as children to de-stress and it worked.  And after a nice break, we were energized and ready to get some quality play time in!  Somewhere in the complexities of our brains, memories and experiences,  maybe we internalized a deep-seated need to be assigned quiet time like a recalcitrant preschooler? Or maybe not.

Either way, it is the opinion of the wonderfully cheerful and optimistic people here at Positivity Works! that “Me time” is an absolute must.  We all need time for ourselves to breathe, to grow, and to be motivated.   It is also important to use that time to remind yourself that you are number one on the priority list because the more a person values himself and his own self-care, the more others will value him.

For me, as the to-do lists got longer and the planners got messier and bigger, it would have been easy to get into a work, work, work mode and never escape!  Ahhh!!!  However, I think having this practice of “me time” is like preventative  health care and it often prevents me from going to that unhealthy place of not acknowledging my own need for self-care.

Many people exercise to lower their cholesterol and so on, but they forget about their mental health, which can be just as fragile, if not more fragile,  than their physical health.  In fact, many times, the things that are going on in your body can have a lot to do with how you’re feeling. For example, a person may be so mentally unhealthy that they are unable to take care of their physical health which can lead to severe medical problems.

So take care of YOU, positive thinkers.  To help you start your daily ritual of taking 15 minutes out of your day to enjoy something/someplace/some smell/some taste that makes you feel good in the moment, we have a positivity exercise and it is super simple and just one of the many things you can do in a day to do something for yourself.   In this instance…you would be giving yourself time to relax, breathe and think positively.  And you can do it just by visiting this post.

And it goes a little something like this…

1)    Click on the link below.  It will take you to a YouTube video that we think is pretty darn relaxing and fabulous (they wont let us embed it, so we have to travel on over to another site, but it’s worth it).   Press play and watch the video in full screen mode (aka takes over your whole screen).

2)  Close your eyes, inhale deep and clench your entire body taut with tension for approximately five seconds.  Exhale, releasing the tension from your head to your toes.  Do this at least twice during the video. Make sure your entire body is relaxed and as comfortable as it can be after the tension release.

3)  Play the video for a minimum of 15 minutes.  You can watch the images or choose to listen to the relaxing sounds, whichever is more relaxing for you.  Give yourself enough time to really enjoy a moment of peace.

4) Avoid negative thoughts and think about the good things that have happened that day.  Even the most minute.

5) Ignore the ads if your eyes are open.  They came with the video and we don’t know that youtuber, but we like the sound of his waves. =)

Enjoy!

Click Here to get your 15 minutes of relaxation on…

I’m always amazed at how differently I seem to think from others.  There was a time when I didn’t really realize that my world was colored differently.  In fact, I assumed that there was a general consensus with everyone around me that we were all enraged or delighted by the exact same things.  There were even times, in early womanhood, that I thought, “well, if they think this, then I must as well”, and I went right along with it.  But as I grew with experiences, personally and professionally, I started I realize that I was doing myself no favors trying to reach this “consensus” of thought.  No matter what I tried to do, I wasn’t going to agree with EVERYONE.  Humans, I think, have personalities and thought processes that are made up of differing experiences in their lives and therefore, their reactions are colored by them.

For example, one person might have grown up in a home that valued education because their parents were educated and expected it whereas another person might have grown up in an environment where education wasn’t even thought of as an option because their parents might not have had the opportunity or inclination to further their education and pass that value along to their children.  Those two people would then view their futures differently.  The one who grew up in the family that valued education MIGHT, and I say might because everyone is their own person and this is a hypothetical, feel a college education was a given and attend and complete their education as expected.  This might be done without any particular passion because “it is just what is expected” or it might be done with the utmost passion because “it is making my family proud”.  The way that this is viewed by that person, I think, would depend on that person’s relationship with his family and whether or not he/she gained that interest in a healthy or a traumatic way.  Another way this person might respond is to rebel and reject any idea of furthering their education because they simply do not want to involve themselves in something they know their family values because they have some type of negative feeling toward that particular value within their family system.

The same could be said for our other hypothetical person, the one whose family did not particularly extend value to the idea of furthering one’s education.   Because this person’s family could seem ambivalent about the concept, that would color this person’s experience.  Should they value education?  Would they even know to value it if they never learned about their options?  And if the family did not teach it, where were they to learn about their options? For this person, it would most likely be from friends and the school system.  It is those experiences in the school environment and with their peers that would start to create new thoughts and inform choices about that topic.

So, now we have come full circle.  Thoughts are shaped by experiences.  Our thoughts determine the way we view things and it forms our perspective.  That perspective is used by us to form opinions about things like education, popular culture, relationships, work, etc…  That perspective is shaped by who we were as children and what we experienced in the journey to becoming adults, and even our continued experiences as adults.  Becoming aware of that is key. Not every person you meet will have had the same experiences as you, so you and another person will most likely never have the exact same perspective on all things.  And that’s great! Where would the world be if we all thought the same and there was no intelligent discourse? My opinion…it would be a very boring world and one with limited growth.

It would behoove us, positive thinkers, to respect those with differing perspectives and understand that we cannot force an agreement, although we may wholeheartedly believe that the perspective they have is detrimental to that person and just plain wrong.  It may harm a relationship with someone if you cannot accept that their perspective on a topic is different from yours.  Remember, our experiences shape us.  If you would like to help build a different perspective in someone, give them a new positive experience to help change their thoughts on the topic…or not.  It’s a “win win” when we can all agree to disagree and are able to come out of it with a smile and the ability to acknowledge that that is just how they see it.

Yeah, it is a Saab commercial, but I love the idea and great visuals. With a change in perspective, all sorts of good things can happen. Think big! =)

My phone is indispensible to me. It is practically surgically attached to my hand. At least once daily, I drop it accidentally because I forgot that I was actually holding it for no apparent reason (and it still works! Well, sometimes.) It helps me to keep appointments, gets me from points A to B with very detailed directions, sends me email or messages from SOMEONE (junk, business, personal, the person sitting next to me) and then there is my possibly unhealthy interest in Facebook and discussions about popular culture. I have love for my phone. She even has a name: Becky. She is my personal assistant.

So, I was greatly perplexed this morning after hearing a radio report about new mobile phone applications geared toward mental health. They called it, “A Therapist in your pocket”. Initially, all sorts of alarm bells started ringing. I listened carefully while visions of mobile phone-zombies running around letting their phones dictate their emotions for them ran through my head. I imagined Becky telling me that I had a Facebook addiction and that I must step away from the phone. Then the daydream took a twisted turn and Becky grew arms and legs and started running after me! Ahhh!!! But I digress. =)

Although there is something a bit foreboding about an inanimate object assisting with something as complex as a person’s mental health, the more I listened, the more I thought that maybe I should give the Mental Health app a chance before I completely dismiss it as a mind control effort by cell phone companies and the IT industry. My change of mind resulted because it seems these apps have been created by mental health professionals as a supplemental tool to regular talk therapy and has a real theoretical basis: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  Thus, it seems these apps might be a great way to keep the client self-aware and accountable for their own behaviors by providing them a tool to help monitor themselves.

Often, when using CBT, we therapists suggest things like a journal to help monitor moods and distorted thoughts so that the client increases self-awareness and has an outlet until their next therapy session. I have even suggested an online web database to assist in documenting dreams on this blog (see Dream Big. And write about it). Now, with the many leaps and bounds that technology is making, it appears that a person’s phone can now be used as a tracking system that the client can even share with their psychiatrists (the MD who handles psychotropic meds) and their therapists (LCSWs, LMFTs, Pyschologists, etc.), if they would like. Having access to honest and consistent documentation of moods would be beneficial to the therapist because it would provide insight into what the client’s stressors and triggers are beyond what is verbally reported and could possibly lead to more openness (or acknowledgement of habitual behaviors) in sessions.

One application, called “Mobile Therapy,” randomly alerts the cell phone user that it is time to indicate their current mood on the “mood map”.  It can become an automatic thing with little effort on the part of the user (thus making it more likely they will engage in documenting their moods).  Also because the times when the phone asks for the user’s mood to be tracked is random, this can be a great assessment tool to more appropriately identify the areas in the client’s life that most negatively or positively affects their mood as opposed to only having the client’s report about what they think caused their mood change. 

THEN…that is where the real therapist comes in, I believe. For example, the therapist can acknowledge when the client consistently has had a “bad” mood during a certain part of the day.  Once that is established, it can lead to the therapist and client working together to identify what it is that is happening during that time of the day that is adding to the mood decline.  Then come the interventions.

Sure, anyone can chart their moods, energy levels, sleep patterns, activities, foods eaten, or even how many times they dropped their cell phones, but it takes a mental health professional and a safe environment to really work on maintaining someone’s mental health. Particularly if the person who is using the application has a disorder and needs treatment or medication.  I don’t think a phone will know when it is necessary to refer to a psychiatrist or provide crisis intervention.   Although it does sounds like quite a wonderful tool, it is my opinion is that it should be used as just that, a tool and not a crutch. And because we are a generation that is already very reliant on technology, there may be a fine line here. And—whoops! I just dropped Becky.  =)

To learn more about NPR’s report on the new mental health mobile applications, click here.

“A runner’s high is like having your very best mood you’ve ever had times 2.” —www.healthhideaway.com

I heart running. Every once in a while a person will find something that they really enjoy and this is one of those times.  I started with walking about a year ago. Loved that and started to do it almost every day. Somehow, someone somewhere convinced me that trying to run might be fun. Since I happen to think that one of the things that helps me to stay positive is allowing myself  the chance to try any little thing that catches my interest, I went for it (very grudgingly and with lots of walking added).

Initially, it wasn’t so fun.  My body wasn’t yet trained and the first minute of running felt like someone was hovering above me with three heaters and beating my chest with invisible fly swatters. BUT, after all that torture, I started to feel really really good. I slept great, I started to have more energy and I started to want to go back.   I think I’m presently at a place where the run feels like it is becoming a habit instead off seeming like a  monstrous task that I had avoided because it sounded too hard. Now I’m starting to enjoy the actual run as well as the “runner’s high” that occurs afterward.

The so-called “runner’s high” is said to be the result of a person’s body trying to release them from the pain by providing natural pain relievers called endorphins.  These endorphins are reported to improve well-being and mood and even cause exhilaration.  Want to read more about the runner’s high and the science of it? Click here.

I love endorphins. Endorphins, if loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right! ha ha.  Of course, I must also say that like any hedonistic activity, running (or its resulting endorphin release), can potentially become  an addiction.  So take care to utilize the power of the run to experience something that feels like “having your very best mood you’ve ever had times 2”, but monitor yourself.  Rather run than work and spend time with your loved ones? That may be a warning sign.  I don’t think I’m there yet.  But I do know that nothing beats back a bad mood like a good walk or run, especially in great weather.  I’m sure you have heard this before, but nothing like a good reminder.  You might love it! *hint hint* =)

Anyway, here’s a video to continue the feeling good vibes!! Enjoy.

I love chocolate milk! It tastes so good, especially when shaken in a martini shaker with crushed ice.  Yummy.  Until now it has  been a sugar filled treat that I saved for special occasions like “that day I briefly messed up my healthy eating plan” wherein it was the star accompaniment to a late night Krispy Kreme drive-by (p.s. my sweet tooth is actually drooling right now) .  But now…it seems that there are more and more studies showing that chocolate milk may actually have some health benefits and shouldn’t be relegated to the dark and dreary place that I call my guilty pleasures (Chocolate milk is not the only thing that resides there.  There are also saturday morning cartoons, romance novels and many other decadent treats.   This “place” needed to be created to manage impulse control.  I once had eleven cavaties at the same time as a child. Eleven!).

According to Chocolate Milk’s official web site (Kudos to having an offical web site Mr. Milk), studies have shown that milk and chocolate, when combined, have double the nutritional benefits for your body.   Further, it seems that chocolate milk has been proven to aide in all sorts of health benefits from prevention of cancer to helping your body build stronger muscle and bone.  It is also said to work better than sports drinks to provide the replenishment your body needs after exercise because (and this is the biggie for me and my cavity prone ways) the sugar content helps restore the body’s level of glycogen after exercise, as well whey and casein. Whey allows the body to produce muscle protein very quickly as it is absorbed almost instantly. Casein on the other hands is absorbed slowly which slows the body’s break down of muscle and aids in recovery as well.

This is like a dream come true, right?  In fact, it sounds so far fetched that I was telling a friend about it and her response was:  “yeah, right…and cupcakes and ice cream have been proven to help you lose weight”.  I know, I know, that’s why I have provided a link so that you can check out the information yourself.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of drinking chocolate milk.

In conclusion, I would like to tell chocolate milk that I love it and have saved prime real estate for it in my refrigerator so that it may replenish my body after workouts.  If you love chocolate milk as well, I hope that this has made your day a bit brighter!

Enjoy!

Good Vibes

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