5 Ways to Be Happier This Week

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As a psychologist, I’m often asked for my professional opinion about how to be happier. There’s no easy answer, of course, but over the years I’ve developed what I believe to be the five keys to happiness. These are principles I strive to live myself, day in and day out; sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not. But what I’ve learned is that keeping these concepts front and center has gone a long way toward helping me feel happier and more fulfilled.

Won’t you give it a try this week?  Read more »

Are Women Being Overmedicated?

Psychiatrist Julie Holland wrote in the New York Times this weekend about adjudicating the female mood, which ever since the publication of the feminist classic The Yellow Wallpaper, a book chronicling the imprisonment of a “hysterical” woman, has been the subject of peculiar debate. When a woman is moody, does it mean she’s crazy?  Or is she simply experiencing hormonal or emotional differences that serve her evolutionary purpose?

Thankfully, as of 2015, we’ve come to a consensus closer to the latter point of view, at least scientifically. This is chronicled in Holland’s cheekily titled book, Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy.

But colloquially and in everyday life, the “psycho” bitch who won’t stop calling after a breakup, the crazy girlfriend who’s super jealous, the chick who’s a nightmare when she’s PMS-ing — these tropes are all too common. Read more »

Mindfulness: Hippie Nonsense or the Key to Happiness?

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Much has been written about the concept of mindfulness in the past decade. Corporations have adopted mindfulness-training programs for employees. Elementary schools now teach mindfulness to students. It’s become a word that rolls off the tongue, but few of us really understand its utility.

To oversimplify, the goal of mindfulness is to slow down and to be present in your life as it happens. Critics of the mindfulness movement decry mindfulness as bohemian psychobabble. These critics point out that the simple concept of slowing down and savoring the present moment shouldn’t need to be taught. After all, children don’t need to be instructed to be present, because children are nothing if not exclusively attuned to their present environment.

And the critics are right. We were all born with the capacity for mindfulness. But there has been one recent invention that has ultimately derailed our abilities to stay mindful: That invention is the smartphone. Read more »

This Is Best Thing I’ve Done for My Sanity This Year (And You Can Do It, Too!)

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About a month ago, I noticed that I couldn’t help but check my phone when it vibrated. I could have been giving my very own TED talk with the President, Beyoncé and Meryl Streep in the audience (That’s everyone’s version of living the dream, right?), and if my phone vibrated — knowing that it was probably an email from Twitter that I would delete instantly, anyway, telling me that Paris Hilton just ate ice cream — I still would have had the nagging urge to check it. Even on a TED stage, in front of the freakin’ President of the United States!

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Why My New Year’s Resolution Is to Laugh More

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It’s that time of year when we scramble to develop a New Year’s Resolution before the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Statistically speaking, most of us vow to lose weight, save money or become healthier. And research shows that most of us abandon these resolutions well before kickoff at the Super Bowl in February.

Why does this happen? It’s because most resolutions are punitive in nature, the product of self-criticism. It’s like saying to yourself, “You need to lose weight because you’re fat and hideous.” Or, “You need to save money because you’re wasteful.” When we’re mean to ourselves we become depressed, or, worse, we become rebellious and do the opposite behavior.

So after many years of setting unsuccessful New Year’s resolutions, I think I’ve developed a better approach for 2015.

Read more »

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