Why We Can’t Wait Around for That Big Happy Moment

time to be happy written in beach sand wave behind

Why We Can’t Wait Around for That Big Happy Moment” originally appeared on Shine, a free daily text to help you thrive.

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness” – Pearl S. Buck

It was a chilly evening in my cramped Brooklyn apartment, so I lit a candle and rolled out a yoga mat. I got into Child’s Pose, and, out of nowhere, I started crying. It wasn’t just a few tears I could dab away with my shirtsleeve—it was a snot-induced, ugly cry. I asked myself, “Why do I feel so unhappy?”

I think about happiness a lot, and I often wonder if I think about the emotion more than I actually feel it. On my tear-stained yoga mat, I realized that I hold out for happiness. Maybe I’ll feel it momentarily, but it’s fleeting. I’m always thinking of the bigger picture and waiting to be happy. Continue reading Why We Can’t Wait Around for That Big Happy Moment

7 Signs You May Be Sexually Incompatible With Your Partner

couple in bed man sleeping woman unsatisfied

Sexual incompatibility can range from a minor annoyance for some couples to the death-knell of a relationship for others. No matter what value you place on chemistry in the bedroom, though, the general rule is that if a problem is ignored, it grows in significance and leads to increased anger and resentment on both sides. If the following issues describe your relationship with your partner, I encourage you to start an open discussion with them about the role of sex and sexual compatibility within your relationship.

1. Your Partner Finds Sex “Silly” or “Unimportant”

When couples have a disparity in sex drives, that is one dilemma. The troubles really start, however, when one partner dismisses or discredits the other’s need for sex. If you are thinking your partner would even take issue with the idea of sex being a “need,” that mindset likely points to a problem. Continue reading 7 Signs You May Be Sexually Incompatible With Your Partner

Are Body Language and Tone Necessary for Therapy to Be Effective?

woman walking outside holing smartphone texting

Now that purely text-based therapy has taken off and has a growing number of studies backing its efficacy, mental health professionals and researchers are debating whether psychotherapy needs body language and tone to produce results. To compare the effectiveness of texting therapy with other mediums, the psychological community needs to think about what treatment outcomes are most important. As the practice of therapy has evolved, so has its priorities.

For many decades psychotherapy had only one format: a therapist and client in a room. Despite the requirement for both parties to be in the same physical space — within viewing distance — the early days of mental health counseling did not utilize body language to its full potential. Many patients lay on a couch and faced in the opposite direction of their therapists. To act as a “blank screen,” practitioners of psychoanalysis participated minimally in sessions and encouraged their patients to speak as much as possible. Continue reading Are Body Language and Tone Necessary for Therapy to Be Effective?

Neuroscience and Psychology: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Mind

brain mind illustrations

Discovering the relationship between the brain and the mind is one of greatest challenges that scientists face in the 21st century. The implications of such a discovery will radically change our conception of what it means to be a conscious being, and will have radical effects on neuroscience, metaphysics, judicial law — and psychology. Even the concept that humans act with free will, an idea that is central to our conception of who we are, may turn out be false.

The relationship between mind and brain is currently the subject of great debate. The conventional view dates back to 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes and his major work, Discourse on the Method, and is known as Cartesian Dualism in his honor. Descartes separated the mind from the body with his famous statement “I think, therefore I am,” a phrase known as “the cogito” after the Latin translation “Cogito, ergo sum.” Descartes laid the foundation for the way that we usually think of ourselves, today — that our mind is separate from the matter of our bodies, and it’s the source of our feelings, decision making capabilities, and all of the aspects that make us who we are. Our mind, a kind of indefinable “ghost in the machine,” gives the orders, and the subservient brain simply makes our bodies carry them out. Continue reading Neuroscience and Psychology: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Mind

#GivingTuesday: 7 Ways To Give that Improve Your Mental Health

#GivingTuesday present red bow wood table

Since 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is when we celebrate #GivingTuesday. An initiative born out of the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York, the day has taken hold as a time to get in the holiday spirit by giving to charities and nonprofits around the country to support the critical work these organizations do to help those in need.

But more than that, the spirit of #GivingTuesday can be the perfect time to remind ourselves that there are so many ways to give each year, not just through monetary donations, but through our actions toward ourselves and others, particularly around mental health.

So this #GivingTuesday, celebrate the day by giving in a mentally healthy way with these seven ideas. Continue reading #GivingTuesday: 7 Ways To Give that Improve Your Mental Health

When Does Shopping Become an Addiction?

miniature shopping bags and cart on computer

All of us have wasted money on items and services we don’t need, purchases we eventually realized were not worth the time or investment. Think about all the expired food you have had to throw out, tickets to movies that looked terrible, clothes you don’t wear (but the sale made them too tempting to pass up).

Sometimes the experience of shopping provides more pleasure than what we end up buying. Children feel joy simply walking through a Toys R’ Us. Going to Macy’s during the holidays is a tradition for many families. Later they realize they most likely spent way too much, but it’s OK. The New Year arrives, and expenses return to normal until the next holiday.

But what about people who treat every day like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas? This kind of excessive shopping isn’t only financially irresponsible. The behavior can be a mental health issue. Continue reading When Does Shopping Become an Addiction?

The Psychology of Greed

wolf of wall street scene best picture nomination

In The Wolf of Wall Street, stockbroker Jordan Belfort gains a massive fortune by committing crimes in the financial sector. Eventually his greed backs him into a corner. The F.B.I.’s pursuit leaves him with a choice: relinquish control of his company and give up his career in finance or risk losing everything. Despite words of caution from his father and the fact that he already has money and opportunities to last a lifetime, Belfort continues his pursuit of even more wealth. This mistake ultimately leads to his demise.

What exactly was running through Belfort’s mind when he made that decision? What about his innate characteristics and experiences made him so insatiably greedy, willing to put the desire for more income and assets over family and his own freedom?

There are millions of people like Belfort who have inspired researchers to explore the psychology of greed. Here is what psychologists have learned so far: Continue reading The Psychology of Greed

4 Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude to Keep in Mind This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving gratitude card autumn leaves

Recently, studies of happiness and emotional well-being have gained popularity in the psychology world, as well as in mainstream media. There has been a massive uptick in research on the nature of gratitude — how we can better harness and cultivate it, its potential impacts on physical health, as well as on mental and emotional well-being.

As 2017 comes to a close, and life start to amp up for the holidays, many of us may use this time as an opportunity to reflect on the last year — what challenges we were met with, but also what brought us great joy. For so many of us this year, simple things like reading the news became troubling and overwhelming parts of daily life. At times, it felt like images of violence, or word of another political scandal, or devastating environmental issues were simply inescapable parts of living in our modern world. Continue reading 4 Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude to Keep in Mind This Thanksgiving

My Holiday Anxiety Around Eating and Body Issues

thanksgiving feast family passing plates

The spread is incredible — juicy dark meat turkey, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, those brussel sprouts my brother prepares that make them actually taste delicious, candied sweet potatoes — and we haven’t even gotten to dessert, my favorite part of every meal, especially when seasonal pies are involved.

My eyes feast on the meal, but inside my anxiety starts to edge its way into my mind. How much can I put on my plate this Thanksgiving and still feel like I won’t be judged for how much or what I am eating? Can I afford to eat two slices of pie, or do I need to stick with just one to keep up appearances? Am I making enough of a show of restraint in comparison to my BMI for the extended family members at the table so I won’t feel judged? Continue reading My Holiday Anxiety Around Eating and Body Issues

I Took Care of People My Entire Life and Then I Broke

stressed out mom illustration

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a caretaker. When I was five and our father left our family, I became my pregnant mother’s little helper, rubbing her feet and bringing her snacks and tea. I took care of my sister when my mother was busy working or tending house. And when my sister couldn’t sleep during those nights we’d stay at our dad’s house, I’d lie with her until she drifted off. Somehow, I was the one in our family that everyone relied upon — the responsible, wise, compassionate one.

I see now that this wasn’t the most appropriate role for me to take, since I was only a child, but it’s the role I seemed to naturally gravitate toward. And it’s a role I have found myself in throughout my adult life as well. I find myself drawn to needful people, and to professions that require care and compassion. I have always worked in caretaker industries: my jobs have included babysitter, preschool teacher, college instructor, soup kitchen volunteer, nursing home assistant, postpartum doula, breastfeeding counselor — and of course, mother to my two sons. Continue reading I Took Care of People My Entire Life and Then I Broke