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"What if I choke?"

Posted by scottcoleman64 on September 9, 2012 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

What if I choke?”
Test Anxiety and how to avoid it


A star hockey player misses the open net in a critical game. A world class salesman blows a key presentation. A straight “A” student bombs a test containing information that they whizzed through in class. Each of these people have suffered the same breakdown in mental processing and “choked under pressure.” Florida state psychologist Roy Baumister defined the word choking in 1984 as “performance decrements under pressure circumstances.” Choking is not just doing poorly on a test. Choking is performing to a degree that is significantly inferior to your skill level and past performances. Choking is more likely to occur when the person has high expectations to get everything right accompanied by an audience claims University of Chicago psychologist Sian Beilock. “Choking in such cases happens when the “polished programs executed by the brain go awry” says Beilock. Brain power that would otherwise be used for working memory functions- solving equations- is instead rerouted into combating stress. Blood is diverted to the brains stress centre which leaves less available for the brains reasoning centers says educator Eric Jensen.

So what do you do to prevent “choking?” Most researchers involved in education and high performance athletics and business agree that some type of stress inoculation is the answer to choking. Stress inoculation means setting up the pressure situation which simulates the actual event as closely as possible—preferably numerous times. By having time to rehearse under “game conditions” the brain’ stress system has time to adapt. This leads to the brain moderating the stress response when the actual event happens. Examples are making up a test of similar material to what is being delivered on the actual test and attempting to complete it in the allotted time it would take to do the actual test. Another example is a sprinter attempting to best his sprint record under circumstances similar to the event. Remember the brain learns by repetition.

Like the Nike slogan “just do it.” Beilock’s research has demonstrated that thinking too much about the outcome of a test, or worrying about not beating your personal best can lead to what she calls “paralysis by analysis.” If you are well rehearsed in the material and have practiced a little stress inoculation its far better to get on with it. Well meaning people often coach students to take their time on a test thinking that it will help them remain calm and think more clearly during a test. Beilock says that there is little evidence to support this claim.

Get your Zen on. Research has demonstrated that practicing meditation and deep breathing ten minutes before the big test or event can lead to increases in performance of up to 10 percent.

An Angel on my Shoulder-Why Self-Compasion is more important than self-confidence

Posted by scottcoleman64 on June 24, 2012 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (1)

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Siddhartha Gautama

It sounds like a simple question, do you treat yourself the way you treat your friends? When you’re all alone with yourself, when no one is around to encourage and you’re your thoughts in check does the angel come out to support, encourage, and understand or is the devil waiting there laughing maniacally, criticizing and condemning you, pulling you down further into the abyss. Ask yourself this question if you’re not sure whether the angel on your shoulder; would you be as critical with your friends if they were going through the same experience you were? Would you give your children the same type of harsh feedback you bestow upon yourself? If you said yes, then it sounds like your inner angel is taking refuge I helping you transcend difficult moments of your life. And yet for many, many people it’s apparent that the angel that comes out, compassion and empathy, with friends and family struggling with life’s challenges, we often do not allot to ourselves. When it comes to ourselves, we would much rather listen to our inner critical devil comes out. Would you say to your best friend struggling with sticking to a diet, feeling guilty over buying a donut last night, “you fat pig, what’s wrong with you, why can’t you stick to a diet? You’re such a weak person, get some willpower?” Of course not! And yet it would appear that the positive regard and support we would give to those closest to us is not the same kindness we always give ourselves. Why would this be?

There is a strong belief that being kind means making excuses, being complacent, not achieving goals, and, yes, quite simply being a wimp. Kristin Neff, researcher in the field of self-compassion, professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin, says that most people believe that self-criticism keeps them accountable and moving towards their goals. She notes that we have a culture that say’s “being hard on yourself is the way to be.” Yet, my experience as a counselor and Dr. Neff’s research concludes that nothing could be further from the truth, being self-critical actually has a tremendously negative impact towards finding solutions and achieving goals. For many people just be nice to yourself and you will achieve and become more, sounds somewhat contradictory, but the research is clear that doing so can produce measurable results towards your achieving what you want. Not the type of news story that many in the self-help industry like to hear. There is a billion dollar industry that feeds itself through you holding onto the belief that if you just have more will power, more persistence, more goal setting, more discipline then you will achieve more. This industry also sells plenty of products through you keeping up wit the self-critical voice in your head that believes you are never good enough. I mean really, this whole self-compassion thing sounds ridiculously too easy, just say be kind to yourself, be compassionate with yourself and you will more quickly achieve what you want.

That’s the confusion for people; the belief is that having self-compassion means being California woo-who, having no goals, or with having an anything goes attitude. Most people correlate self-compassion with “oh well, I had a piece of cake when I’m trying to watch my weight, why get mad at myself, instead I think I’ll just have another piece of cake, in fact why not just scarf down the whole thing!” The reality is that’s the furthest thing from the truth as to what it means. So, how would we define self-compassion and how does it help us with accessing our best self? Kristin Neff describes self-compassion according to three principles. The first principal I can be “gentle and understanding” with myself rather than being “harsh or critical.” We embrace this principal all the time with our closest friends; we try to understand the challenges they are facing, we empathize and listen to their struggle before offering advice, and we can also give this to ourselves. The second principal is “common humanity” that is we connect with our own suffering and joy and can appreciate our experience knowing that those we love and care for, in fact all individuals have gone through similar struggles. We recognize that all people suffer from time to time and appreciate that in challenging times we need support, encouragement and options more than criticism or harsh feedback. The third principal according to Neff is the ability to be mindful. She describes it as being able to “hold our experience in balanced awareness” rather than minimizing it or exaggerating it. Being able to provide our own self with the gift of reflective and honest feedback is an important element of supporting, understanding, and gently, and sometimes forcefully challenging ourselves. Self-compassion does not mean we don’t have to get tough with ourselves; sometimes we do, or expect more from ourselves, almost always, we should. What it means is in any interaction with ourselves we use the same amount of care, attention, and due diligence we would afford to those we love and admire. This ensures we are inspiring and motivating ourselves to live up to our best self, rather than the opposite.

So what’s wrong with being critical and harsh with ourselves if it gets the results we want? Well, the first thing is doing it for an extended period of time it places our brains in a whole lot of stress. Triggering the stress response might be admirable if we are being chased down the street by a man eating lion and certainly some stress actually helps us perform at optimal levels; too much stress, however, cuts us off from areas of the brain (problem solving, creativity, persistence, long term planning) we are wanting to access to reach our goal. Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky comments that life-threatening and day to day psychological stressors both “trigger the release of adrenalin and other stress hormones, which, over time, can have devastating consequences” for peoples physical and psychological well-being. Health aside, Sapolsky states that “learning, memory, and judgment don’t function well under stress. Usually our self-criticism has admirable intentions behind it, motivate our selves and focus in more so that we reach our goals. Certainly, for short periods this method can produce appreciable results, we get cranked up on adrenalin and will likely motivate ourselves to some type of appreciable action through self-criticism. The problem is that many people spend considerable amounts of time in their heads being harsh and self-critical, which clearly brain-science shows creates large amounts of stress, leading to inhibited cognitive capacity, something counter-productive to reaching goals. Psychologist and wonderful teacher Brene Brown nicely encapsulates the dangers of bullying and picking on ourselves “we are most dangerous when we are backed into the corner of never, fill in the blank, enough.” Like a stressed out, trapped animal, it never thinks in terms of the best choice when trapped, it only thinks in terms of one choice because that is the only choice it can see.

Being self-compassionate ultimately presents us with the best chance to reach our goals because its focus is on seeing experience from an objective perspective, something that is missing when we are critical and bully ourselves. When we are critical our focus completely overshadows the good we have done, or steps we have taken to move closer to our goals. We might well have lost 100 pounds this year, completely transformed our diet and exercise everyday, but when we are harsh with ourselves we completely overlook this, we only see we’ve scarfed down that piece of cake we weren’t supposed to and we are only another piece of cake away from being a fat pig again. The tiny piece of cake, which might be only about one percent of the actual equation, suddenly becomes 100 percent. That’s the problem with self-criticism it gets us away from focusing on what we want and how we would like to be. Our focus on our feeling positive, fit, and healthy gets turned upside down when we are critical. That is the devastating impact of beating oneself up.

Don’t deny it, self-compassion is not overlooking the very real fact we had the piece of cake and transgressed our own expectations and to a minor degree might have ever so slightly pushed back our progress or reinforced an old behavior. That would be a fact of the circumstances we can’t ignore. And yet that reality is only a small fragment of the overarching reality; self-compassion is about seeing the big picture, aligning with our values, honoring the hard work and sacrifice we have already done to move towards our goal, putting all these variables together to determine what the next decision will be. It is also having empathy for ourselves, recognizing that transforming long-standing habits is challenging; what we need more than criticism is extending forward an olive branch of positivity and a focus on re-aligning with our highest values, not slaughtering an already fragile sense of self. Self-compassion is unique in that we can have high standards and lofty goals for ourselves, but our ability to feel valued and special do not come from achieving those goals or evaluating ourselves against others. Instead our sense of self comes from, as Kristin Neff perfectly points out, “caring for ourselves-fragile and imperfect and magnificent as we are.” Because we care about ourselves we have high expectations knowing we have tremendous inner strength and potential and because we care about ourselves we also have high-self compassion and an unconditional love knowing we have moments when we are equally fragile. A few ways you can incorporate self-compassion into your daily life:

1. Self-compassion like any other skill is something you must practice daily to gain proficiency at. One thing I do myself and encourage people I counsel to do is see the helpful, beautiful quality surrounding every action, feeling, and thought they have, even ones that they believe are counter productive to what they want. Starting my own private counseling practice, for example, was an area of my life that brought up incredibly amounts of fear initially. Instead of beating myself up over being fearful, I decided to have compassion for myself becoming very curious about how this fear might actually be supporting me in my life. After some deep reflection, I recognized the fear was keeping me safe from being judged or failing. My fear was trying to keep me safe, what a beautiful and compassionate thing to do! When I recognized this instead of fighting with the fear, I would acknowledge and thank it, it was trying to help me. I found by doing this my fear eased up and I was able to move forward in my practice confident things would be fine.

2. Always ask yourself the following question when you start to find yourself slipping into self-critical mode, “what would my best friend, or the person that I respect and admire say to me right now. What would they focus on, would it be the problem, making me feel valued, reframing my self-criticism, or highlighting positive attributes and accomplishments? Then whatever answer you come up with to these questions, give it to yourself! I will guarantee that bashing yourself will be incredibly low, if even on your list of what the person you admire most would say to you. If being critical and harsh is the number one thing the person you admire most would give to you, then it might be time to consider more positive friends.

3. When evaluating your choices, have an objective perspective. Always include in your evaluation something positive, even if the outcome is not what you wanted. For example, my first professional workshop was presenting to a group of individuals that were employed by one of the large colleges in the city I live in. It was doomed from the start, I choose a topic I had little expertise and experience in to speak about, I really just wanted to speak and didn’t think about the consequences of talking about a subject I had no expertise on. I limped through the workshop knowing that I was over my head, the participants were highly unsatisfied with what the information I provided. I am not going to lie to you, I did focus on my poor performance, picked myself apart, was highly self-critical initially. How could I lack the insight to pick a topic that I had even a remote amount of experience in, and the looks of discouragement on the participants, that was enough to never speak again. This certainly was part of my experience. However, another equally important part of the experience was I had the courage to speak in front of 100 people; I was excited and animated, my intentions really were to be helpful, and a new passion for speaking sprung from this awkward experience. The self-compassionate part of me chalked this whole experience up as a wonderful learning opportunity; everyone starts off in a new endeavor being awkward and amateurish, polishing comes with experiencing and learning.

4. Finally, be able to have fun with yourself and your experiences. Life is short and full of difficulties; don’t make it shorter by focusing all your shortcomings. When you focus all your time on criticizing yourself, all you do is create a life full or pessimism and shame. Instead chose to focus on being empathic to yourself and others. Empathy breads self-love, openness and the courage to try state Brene Brown, and most of all being empathic allows us to see the comical side of our short-comings and how weird and whacky of our weird and whacky our thinking can actually be. I used to think of myself as a great athlete and got all worked up, and angry with myself when I was not able to perform at the level I expected. Now, looking at things objectively I was really more of a hack job athlete, meaning not much of one, but I was a great competitor and remain so. My focus is now on competing and doing the best I can rather than trying to reach some lofty, unattainable goal. I can laugh now at my lack of athletic ability, and I can honestly say I have never had more fun as an athlete since I stopped being critical of my performance and just started enjoying the moment, trying my best crappy performance and all.

References

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/try_selfcompassion

http://mariashriver.com/blog/2012/04/shame-empathy-and-wholehearted-journey

Neff, Kristin. (2011) Self Compassion: Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. William Morrow Publishers, New York, NY.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/go-easy-on-yourself-a-new-wave-of-research-urges/

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ordinary-courage/201010/the-cruelty-crisis-bullying-isnt-school-problem-its-national-pastime

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2007/march7/sapolskysr-030707.html

22 explosive ways to create a new you!

Posted by scottcoleman64 on May 23, 2012 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

 We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle

Make a plan. Focus on what you want, and reasons (motivations) for changing. Craft an ideal image of who and what you want to be, how you will think, feel, the emotional states you will embody, how your body (energy, calmness, etc.) will feel once you reach your goal. Write down as many empowering (positive) questions that lead you towards what you want.

Write it down. If you want to know if you are making progress then you have to measure yourself for progress. Just saying you’re going to change a habit is not enough of a commitment. You need to actually write it down, on paper. Write what habit(s) you’re going to change, how you are going to do it, what action steps you will take, how often you will engage in the steps that move you towards your goal, and what are signs of progress. The more detail surrounding how you will accomplish this goal, the better.

Take massive action. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t, and vigorously move towards that goal The more you can immerse yourself in your new ways of thinking, new powerful emotional states, and a positive physiology the more quickly you will reach your new state of being.

Your physiology affects your psychology. Your emotions, and the way you hold your body have a massive impact on your psychology. One of the greatest things you can do to create change is linking a positive physical movement and emotional state to a short mantra or saying that embodies the person you want to be. An example is to practice walking quickly with your head up, pumping your fist, remembering the times you felt alive with energy in the past rehearsing your mantra “I am filled with physical and positive energy.” Practice, embody this state and you will see that you will more quickly feel like a person who is permanently confident and energized!

Make small changes! One habit at a time. Extremely important! Keep it simple, allow yourself to focus on one thing at a time, and give yourself the best chance for success. You will be scared and have doubts when you first start the change process, you will continue to have moments when you feel that you are not the one driving your own car. Don’t quit! Trying to take on too much is a recipe for disaster. Want to exercise? Start with just 5-10 minutes. Want to wake up earlier? Try just 10 minutes earlier for now, and then build, build, build adding small steps until it becomes giant steps!

Do a 66-day Challenge. Recent research shows it takes about 66 days to create a new habit. Think about it 66 days is really nothing considering most people have been carrying their habits for years. And yet 66 days can seem like a daunting task, some might find it better to break it down into segments; an example is 11- 6-day segments or 3-22 day segments. Your challenge: stick with your new goal(s) every day for 66 days until it becomes a habit. Begin with the end in mind. It’s important to have an image of the individual you want to be when you first initiate the change process. If you know who and what you will be when you reach your goals, then you only need an effective plan to get you there.

Get specific, if you want to lose 20 pounds then visualize the person that you will be once you achieve the goal. Write down what your new self will eat, how much they will exercise, the sexy dress you will be able to fit into, the new sense of self esteem you will exhibit to yourself and the world.

Interrupt, interrupt, and interrupt your old pattern. This is a powerful strategy that self help guru Tony Robbins advocates in many of his programs. Interrupting your pattern simply means doing something your brain doesn’t expect. A spontaneous new action will immediately cause a massive state change. How do you interrupt patterns? Simply do something that you wouldn’t normally do when running a negative feedback loop. An example is when you are feeling depressed standing up dancing around like a chicken, and yelling, “Thank God! I wasn’t born a chicken today! This ridiculous action and phrase will quickly shift you out of a negative state, and create laughter for yourself and those around you. The key when breaking your pattern is to outsmart the pattern. What would you normally do in this state? When this happens simply think of something that your mind doesn’t expect, something that doesn’t fit into the pattern. Almost always, the more outrageous the action you are performing, the better.

Swish your way to success! The first step is to develop your own Replacement Feeling. An example is instead of feeling wound up and out of control when stress hits, ideally, how would I like to act in the face of stress? What images comes to my mind about handling stress in a great way? Use visualization to clearly see yourself experiencing this new feeling and image. Discover the trigger for the unwanted mood. Ask yourself this question. “What seems to always occur immediately prior to the stress I feel?” While viewing the unwanted image in your mind, insert the replacement feeling and image into the corner of that picture. Now Swish the two images together. Take some time to allow the replacement feeling to grow and gradually take up more space in your head. Continue until the new feeling is the primary one you feel when under stress.

Be an excuse terminator If you’ve tried to change a habit before (odds are you have), you’ve likely have had limited success. Reflect on those failures, and figure out what stopped you from succeeding. Write down every obstacle that’s happened to you, and others that are likely to happen. Reframe all obstacles as “excuses.” This powerful change in wording has a powerful psychological effect on how you start to frame your actions that have stopped you from achieving your goals in the past.

Become aware of self-talk. You talk to yourself, in your head, all the time — but often we’re not aware of these thoughts. Start listening. These thoughts can derail any habit change, any goal. Often they’re negative: “I can’t do this. This is too difficult. Why am I putting myself through this? I’m not strong enough. I don’t have enough discipline. I suck.” It’s important to know when you are engaging in negative self-talk.

Turn all your negatives into empowering statements “What can I do to overcome this setback? How can I gain the inner strength and resources to accomplish what I need to? What would it take to be more disciplined?

Be your own cheerleader/best friend. Be your own cheerleader, give yourself pep talks, and repeat your mantra. Repetition is the key when it comes to changing self-defeating habits, you must vigilantly focus on what you want. That is important, to focus on what you want, not what you don’t. When you are in a positive, empowered state record a pep talk to yourself on your smart phone that you can play to yourself when you are feeling discouraged. Play this pep talk often to yourself and you will find out how quickly this one small addition can change your state permanently.

Have a mantra. Have a saying that brings up a powerful state and repeat it frequently throughout the day. Self-help guru Keith Harrell used to stutter so badly in elementary school that he could not speak in front of the class without being laughed at and ridiculed by his fellow students. His solution? Coming up with the mantra “I can speak clearly now” and immersing himself in it until his subconscious began to believe it. Keith now gives motivational speeches all over the world to fortune 500 companies such as Fed Ex and Pepsi. His mantra now being “attitude is everything!”

Use visualization. This is powerful. Vividly picture, in your head, successfully changing your habit. Visualize doing your new habit after each trigger, overcoming urges, and what it will look like when you’re done. Try to make your picture brighter, louder, stand out more vividly, all these things will begin to move you closer to your goal of creating a new habit. Identify your triggers. What situations trigger your current habit? For the smoking habit, for example, triggers might include waking in the morning, having coffee, drinking alcohol, stressful meetings, going out with friends, driving, etc. Most habits have multiple triggers. Identify all of them and write them in your plan. For every single trigger, identify a positive habit you’re going to do instead. When you first wake in the morning, instead of smoking, what will you do? What about when you get stressed? When you go out with friends? Some positive habits could include: exercise, meditation, deep breathing, organizing, DE cluttering you life, and more.

Write an empowering statement to go with every positive habit. An example “What would my new calm self do in this situation? What would my non-smoking self do during coffee break? Then do it! Ask for help. Get your family and friends and co-workers to support you. Ask them for their help, and let them know how important this is. Find an AA group in your area. Join online forums where people are trying to quit. When you have really strong urges or a really difficult time, call on your support network for help. Don’t smoke a cigarette, for example, without posting to your online quit forum, or calling a friend. Don’t have a drop of alcohol before calling your AA buddy.

Set up public accountability. Blog about it, post on a forum, email your commitment and daily progress to friend and family, post a chart up at your office, tell everyone that can support and encourage you. When we make it public — not just the commitment but also the progress updates — we tend to be more successful at achieving our goals.

 Have rewards. Regular ones. You might see these as bribes, but actually they’re just positive feedback. Put these into your plan, along with the milestones at which you’ll receive them.

Get of your “buts” (in other words, no excuses). People make a lot of “buts” buts for why they are not where they want to be in life, the harsh reality is those “buts” are really, excuses. You need to have the mindset of committing 100 percent.

Get rest. Being tired leaves us vulnerable to relapse. Get a lot of rest so you can have the energy to overcome urges. Renew your commitment often. Remind yourself of your commitment hourly, and at the beginning and end of each day.

Read your plan. Bring your image up of yourself every hour, put forth some empowering questions as well. Change is about repeating the new habits and behaviors until they stick.

Celebrate your success.

Avoid some situations where you normally do your old habit, at least for awhile, to make it a bit easier on yourself. If you normally drink when you go out with friends, consider not going out for a little while. If you normally go outside your office with co-workers to smoke, avoid going out with them. This applies to any bad habit — whether it is eating junk food or doing drugs, there are some situations you can avoid that are especially difficult for someone trying to change a bad habit. Realize, though, that when you go back to those situations, you will still get the old urges, and when that happens you should be prepared.

Check out our Facebook page!

Posted by scottcoleman64 on May 2, 2012 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

We are constantly updating our Face Book page with new information, ideas, and tips to help you and those you care about experience real, lasting transformation. Check back often to our page. LUMINESCE Counselling.

Does Self Compassion Trump Self-Esteem?

Posted by scottcoleman64 on April 17, 2012 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Can being compassionate to ones self actually have a greater postive impact in feeling good about oneself and reaching ones potential than self-esteem. Early research by Kristin Neff clearly demonstates that having a great deal of self-compassion leads to greater feelings of confidence, social contentment, reduces fear, increases feelings of well-being, and see life in a more postive way. Neff points out that self-compassion provides all the benefits of self-esteem but without the potential pit falls such as the on-going need to feed ones ego and potential for feeling superior to others. Self-compassion work might prove especially beneficial for people who are having challenges with depression as they tend to have a negative appraisal of themselves and world. LUMIINESCE Counselling. 


Can we synthesize our own happiness?

Posted by scottcoleman64 on April 15, 2012 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (1)

Happiness, we all want it, we all have a definition for it, we all expend large amounts of time, energy, and often cash flow to achieve it, but do we truly know what it is and when we have found it? That is a question plaguing philosophers and theologians since the beginning of time. Great thinkers like Plato, Socrates, Augustan, and religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Catholicism, Buddhism and others all have their definition of what true happiness is and how it can be achieved. Until recently the concept of happiness was a delegated to meta-physics (branch of philosophy concerned with identifying the fundamental nature of being and consciousness) and theology, each having its share of various untestable and semi-testable theories.

Finding evidentiary support for what happiness is has not been high on the priority list of scientists who, until recently, were more concerned about impending global and health issues. Scientists might have had their ideas about what happiness is, but this was relegated to weekend conversations with friends rather than scientific discourse. With the development of cognitive neuroscience (the study of the mind using the scientific process) happiness an idea that psychologists can now provide quantifiable data about, and this data is providing us with a wealth of information regarding what about happiness is, and isn’t.

One of the leading happiness researchers is Princeton psychologist Dan Gilbert. Citing a question from Gilbert’s fascinating book “Stumbling on Happiness” which of these two individuals would you speculate was the happiest a year after receiving life-changing news; Individual one found out they won a large sum of money in the lottery and were financially set for life, the second received news they would be a paraplegic for life. Speculating who would be happier seems like a no brainer, many of us fantasize about winning 6/49, suddenly coming into great wealth, and yet if you picked the individual who won the lottery you would not be correct. Interestingly, Gilbert’s research shows us that the lottery winner and paraplegic are equally as happy a year after receiving their life altering news. How can this be? It sounds paradoxical to think someone inflicted with permanent paralysis could be as happy as someone who has the resources to purchase a mega mansion and fleet of Ferraris. Gilbert argues that individuals, in their life long pursuit of happiness, often use the wrong cognitive map for achieving happiness. His basic premise is humans often are poor predictors of what makes them happy and the result is they frequently pursue endeavors and relationships that ultimately create unhappiness, or limit happiness. Gilbert uses the term “impact bias” to describe our brains propensity to falsely assume that different outcomes have more significance (for lasting happiness or misery) than they actually do. Using our example above most of us erroneously conclude that an individual winning the lotto would a year later be happier than one who became a paraplegic.

And yet, Gilbert’s research demonstrates that the lasting affects of most outcomes have far less impact than people expect them to have. Gilbert cites recent studies of individuals suffering traumatic experiences that demonstrably demonstrate that those that these individuals are no less happy three months after the event than an individual who experienced no trauma in that same time frame. What does Gilbert’s research tell us about the secret of happiness? Simply put happiness clearly can be synthesized. Happiness is something that a person can create in their lives, regardless of life circumstances. Gilbert points out that evidence supports no difference between synthesized happiness and the naturally occurring stuff, despite speculators and naysayers who vehemently assert that manufactured happiness is of a lesser quality. Conversely, his research clearly shows that individuals who can synthesize happiness consistently rate higher on scores of resilience, health, emotional hardiness, and other measures of well-being. He passionately states that synthetic happiness is ever bit as “real and enduring as the type of happiness you stumble upon when you get what you want.” So how do we create synthetic happiness that is every bit as really and enduring as the natural stuff? Gilbert says that one of the most important ideas in creating happiness is to recognize that our experiences have far less impact than we might imagine, and so to not over rate the difference between one situation from another. Finally, Gilbert says that having a few choices with some sense of control exerted over those choices provide individuals with greater happiness than those who have unlimited choices. He triumphantly makes a proclamation that should give us all hope when it comes to living a happy life “we have the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experience.”

References Gilbert, D.T. (2007). Stumbling on Happiness. Random House Publishing, New York, NY.

Dan Siegel on building emotional resilience.

Posted by scottcoleman64 on April 10, 2012 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Here is a great interview with Dan Siegel outlining how the brain operates and what you can do for yourself and kids to build a more resilient and empowered lives. 

Transformation often starts with stillness

Posted by scottcoleman64 on March 30, 2012 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)


Yes, transformation requires figuring out what you want, focusing on it, visualizing yourself as already achieving the goal then taking massive and measurable action to move towards it, yet despite all the focus on action, goal, setting, and visualization often the route to achieving our mighty goals begin with learning the art of stillness. Let me exlpain, most of us can name a list of things in our lives that we should or could change and yet many of us never are able to take the steps needed to achieve the transformation we desire despite thinking about it frequently. This is because underlying our desire to change we often have more powerful sub-conscious beliefs incongruent with what we are currently wanting; additionally we also have hard wired an internal system that supports old beliefs making it extremely challenging to modfiy old behaviors, especially under any stress. Meditative practices, practicing stillness and focused attention, can move rappidly move us to our new self by helping to calm and self-regulate emotional states (the side effect is the ability to manage fear and anxiety, be open and reflective, and choose our new beliefs rather than being held prisoner by old subconscious beliefs), shows us that  our beliefs and emotional states are fluid and can do not control us, and that we are not them, they are seperate entities, entities we can manage. Having a meditative practice is an incredibly powerful way to transform yourself, done dilligently and mindfully you will experience greater abiity to get what you want. LUMINESCE Counseling. 

Using Mindsight to Create a Powerful Life

Posted by scottcoleman64 on March 18, 2012 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)


Brilliant psychiatrist, educator, and author Daniel Sielgel shares with us how we can build greater social and emotional capacity through the practice of what he calls "mindsight." Using the principles of mindsight we can teach our brains work for us, creating the life we desire and helping others carve out the life they want. Please enjoy and feel free to comment on this powerful technology that Dr. Siegel is sharing with us all.
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