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2018-01-22T06:19:31.607Z
0
{"feed":"Barking-Up-The-Wrong-Tree","feedTitle":"Barking Up The Wrong Tree","feedLink":"/feed/Barking-Up-The-Wrong-Tree","catTitle":"Lifestyle","catLink":"/cat/lifestyle"}

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Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.

***

Ever feel like you’re not good enough? Something bad happens and your brain plays a YouTube highlight reel of every mistake you’ve ever made. Your confidence crashes and your self-esteem flatlines.

You’re not alone. People have been feeling like this as long as there have been people. It’s an old problem and there are old solutions — old solutions that work pretty darn well, as a matter of fact.

I’ve talked about how psychologists steam-cleaned and science-tized ancient Buddhism into modern mindfulness. Well, some very smart people have also dusted off Stoicism and weaponized it into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) — which is the most empirically supported treatment for the majority of psychological conditions.

Mindfulness is the gentle cousin that steps back, examines thoughts, and lets the problematic ones float away. But it’s not for everybody…

CBT, on the other hand, is the aggressive cousin that asks negative thoughts if they’d like to step outside and settle this in the alley behind the bar. Having honed Stoic principles into a martial art called “rationality”, CBT righteously whoops some tuchus on the ideas that bring you down.

So when you’re feeling not-so-large-and-in-charge and need a boost, how do you use the modern version of ancient Stoicism to...

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Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.

***

A lot of the time you know what the smart thing to do is. But you’re still worried about how it might turn out. Or regrets about a past decision are making you overthink things.

Your brain is telling you all kinds of negative stories about how stuff might go wrong and you end up more focused on alleviating those concerns than making choices based on your values.

So you play it too safe. Or you get reckless and swing for the fences. Or you’re paralyzed and procrastinate. But there’s a way out of this loop. Cue the trumpets:

Mindfulness. That thing everybody these days thinks is so darn cool but nobody can tell you what it means.

Alright, quick definition for our purposes: awareness of your thoughts and feelings without being consumed by them.

(Yeah, I know, that clarifies nothing for you… yet. Well, gimme a second here. We’re just getting started, okay? Jeez.)

A lot of smart psychologists took mindfulness and science-tized it and created ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.) Let’s see how ACT can help you deal with your negative thoughts so you can make smarter decisions based on what’s really important to you.

Mindfulness to the rescue. (And, no, I’m not gonna make you meditate.)

Let’s get to it…

 

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Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.

***

Sometimes we all feel anxious. Sometimes lonely or disconnected. Sometimes unhappy, and maybe even a little crazy. You know what might fix all of this?

Would you believe me if I said… a war?

From Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging:

The positive effects of war on mental health were first noticed by the great sociologist Emile Durkheim, who found that when European countries went to war, suicide rates dropped. Psychiatric wards in Paris were strangely empty during both world wars, and that remained true even as the German army rolled into the city in 1940. Researchers documented a similar phenomenon during civil wars in Spain, Algeria, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland. An Irish psychologist named H. A. Lyons found that suicide rates in Belfast dropped 50 percent during the riots of 1969 and 1970, and homicide and other violent crimes also went down. Depression rates for both men and women declined abruptly during that period, with men experiencing the most extreme drop in the most violent districts. County Derry, on the other hand—which suffered almost no violence at all—saw male depression rates rise rather than fall.

Hold on a second before you send me that angry email. I’m not really suggesting war as a solution...

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Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.

***

Do your friends sometimes disappoint you? Ever feel like there is something missing in your relationships?  You’re not alone.

Tom Rath and the Gallup organization discovered something interesting: the vast majority of the time, no one pal offers you everything you need from your relationships.

Some of your friends are great listeners… but they’re not always there when you need them. Others are intensely loyal… but just not that great at helping you out of a jam. And so on.

We get different things from different friends. And sometimes even with a sizable group you’re still not getting all the things you want in order to feel truly supported in life. Kinda like how to be healthy you need the four different food groups — you can’t just eat cookies for every meal.

“Friendship” is a pretty vague word. You generally don’t even know everything you want from your relationships to feel whole — you just know something’s missing. There’s a gap.

So Rath and Gallup got to work. They surveyed over a thousand people to find out what the types of “vital friends” were — someone who if they vanished, your life satisfaction would noticeably decrease.

What did these types of friends offer? How do they round...

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Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.

***

Your first kiss. Graduation. Your first job. Your wedding day. Birth of your first child.

These are the big memories that we all cherish. But there are other little memories that stick out because they had such a powerful emotional impact on you. Moments that enriched your life, bonded you with others and helped you define who you are.

Well, the latter are just “magic”, right? Serendipity. Can’t engineer that. They just “happen”…

*Writer rolls his eyes so hard he gets a migraine.*

Yeah, and sometimes they don’t. More often that not, one days rolls into the next, one month rolls into the next, you blink your eyes and you’re staring down the barrel of another New Year’s Day saying: where the heck did the time go?

Serendipity can be a bus that never arrives. So why do we leave special moments to chance? And why do we not do more to create those special memories for others — the way we’d like them to make some for us?

We get tired. We get lazy. And them boom — suddenly CVS is loaded with Christmas ornaments and it signals the end of another year. No good. If we want great memories we have to make them.

But how do you do that? What makes...

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Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.

***

Is that difficult someone driving you up the wall? What’s the best way to handle impossible people?

I’ve broken down the research on how to handle narcissists, borderlines, psychopaths and other “cluster B” troublemakers, and the primary answer is always the same:

Run. Get outta there. No contact.

Personality disorders are notoriously difficult to treat, cluster B’s are notoriously difficult to deal with, and you’re not a therapist. (Though at this point you probably feel like a very frazzled one.)

But I received a lot of responses from readers basically saying: What do I do if I can’t leave? Is there any way to make them change?

It’s their boss and they need this job. It’s their spouse and they have kids together. It’s their best friend and they can’t in good conscience abandon them.

So how do you deal with a narcissist when saying “MEEP-MEEP” and sprinting away Road-Runner-style isn’t an option?

Dr. Craig Malkin is a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and his new book Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special offers some hope.

A lot of what you know about narcissists is wrong and there are proven ways to not only deal...

***

Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.

***

You want to get to work but instead you surf the internet. You want to diet but instead you eat enough candy to give an entire 2nd grade classroom type 2 diabetes. Why?

You might think you lack self-control. Or that you make bad decisions. But none of these explanations ever seems to get to the bottom of why what-you-think and what-you-do all too frequently don’t line up.

What the heck is going in your brain that causes these inconsistencies? Sometimes it’s almost like you’re 2 different people. Or 3. Or 19.

There’s a very simple answer: you are 19 different people. Or 4. Or 107. But what you aren’t is one person. Yeah, sounds crazy, I know. Stay with me…

Over 1000 years ago Buddhism — where mindfulness techniques come from — said that there is no singular “you.” The “self” does not exist. Sound like crazy nonsense? I’m with you. (All 27 of you, actually.) But here’s the thing…

Both neuroscience and psychology are starting to agree. Sometimes you don’t act like you because there is no singular “you.”

And this positively perplexing proposition holds the answer to why you do dumb things, procrastinate, can’t follow through on your goals, and why some days it seems...

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Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.

***

Emotional Intelligence. It’s everywhere. They won’t shut up about it. And yet nobody seems to be able to explain what it really means or how you develop it.

Face it: you don’t even know what an emotion is. Most people would say an emotion is a feeling. And what’s a feeling? Umm… an emotion? Yeah, nice work there, Captain Circular.

And it turns out the latest research shows that the little we know about emotions is actually all wrong. And I mean really wrong.

Lisa Feldman Barrett is a Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Her new book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain turns everything you know about the feels upside down.

Buckle in. We’re gonna learn the real story behind how emotions work, why they’re so difficult to deal with, and why the secret to emotional intelligence might just be the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Time to fire up Occam’s chainsaw. Let’s get to work…

 

Why We’re Wrong About Emotions

Your fundamental emotions are hardwired and universal, right? We all have a crayon box with the same set of colors: anger, fear, happiness, sadness, etc.

And the latest research says that’s

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Before we commence with the festivities, I just wanted to let you know my first book is now a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.

***

I’d love to start with witty jokes, but we’re talking tragedy here, so brace yourself. This story isn’t comforting…

On May 1st, 2015, while vacationing in Mexico, Sheryl Sandberg found her husband Dave dead in the hotel gym.

He was only in his 40’s. He had not been ill. It was totally unexpected. They had 2 children together.

When the greatest of tragedies strikes, how do you keep going? Sheryl didn’t know.

She turned to her friend, Wharton professor Adam Grant, who told her about the research regarding resilience and overcoming life’s greatest struggles.

There was no quick answer to dealing with the pain — but there were things she could do to get past it faster and come out stronger.

Her journey, and the lessons from the research, are explained in the book the two have co-authored: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.

And these answers can help you. Whether you’re dealing with loss, failure, or any of the other great challenges of life, there are things you can do to improve your situation.

If you need this information now, you have my sympathy. And if you don’t need this now, it’s a good idea to learn these lessons anyway,...

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Before we commence with the festivities, I just wanted to let you know my first book is now a Wall Street Journal bestseller! To check it out, click here.

***

Is someone consistently taking advantage of you? Your romantic partner or your boss?

Do you rush around trying to do things for them but they never seem to have your back? Or is keeping up with their mood swings and meltdowns a 24/7 job? Do you find yourself doing more and more but getting less and less?

And when you try to talk to them about it in a reasonable way, do they fly off the handle or burst into tears — and nothing ever changes?

You might be a “caretaker” to someone with narcissistic or borderline traits. And that’s a really bad place to be. But there are things you can do to improve the situation.

Psychotherapist Margalis Fjelstad brings some solid answers in her book: Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How to End the Drama and Get On with Life.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are serious mental health issues — not stuff you want to casually diagnose without a P and H and D after your name. But people who exhibit enough of the characteristics of those problems can mess up your life, even at subclinical levels.

So let’s learn the basics about these difficult folks and then find out how to stop being a pushover...

***

Before we commence with the festivities, I just wanted to let you know my first book is now a Wall Street Journal bestseller! To check it out, click here.

***

Do you want to have better relationships? Well, you should definitely take some advice from… the Stoics.

I know, it sounds weird. Most people think of the Stoics as being emotionless — not exactly good examples for how to handle relationships.

But that’s a myth. The ancient Stoics were big on virtue, self-control and reducing negative emotions. And those are pretty good things if you’re trying to be more likable.

And their methods are backed by science. Stoicism was one of the inspirations for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is currently the dominant method for helping people overcome psychological issues.

To get some answers I spoke to Massimo Pigliucci, a professor of philosophy at the City University of New York, and author of the new book, How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

So what can we learn about being likable from the ancient Stoics? Let’s get to it…

 

Not Me

Plain and simple: stop talking about yourself so much. Focus on the other person.

Here’s Stoic grandmaster Epictetus:

In parties of conversation, avoid a frequent and excessive mention of your own actions and dangers. For, however agreeable it may be to yourself to mention the risks you have run, it is not equally agreeable to others to hear your adventures.

Yeah, talking about...