Friday, June 26, 2015

Inside Out - Can Sadness be Good?

Like many other parents with young children I spent part of last weekend seeing the new Pixar movie, Inside Out.  For those that haven’t seen it, the story is about the emotions, memories and feelings of an 11 year old girl, Riley, who experiences a difficult time when she and her family move from Minnesota to San Francisco.  The emotions in the control center of her brain act as guardians to protect her, they are; joy, sadness, anger, disgust & fear. Joy is clearly in control of most memories and formations of personality in the early years.  Joy‘s well-meaning attempts to protect Riley often push Sadness away and try to contain her so she does not taint the joyful memories.  Spoiler alert: Sadness becomes an important part of Riley’s journey and eventually even Joy recognizes the value Sadness brings to Riley and all the emotions work together successfully.

Being happy does not mean there is no room for sadness.  In fact, as this wonderful movie points out, sadness is an integral part of our overall happiness and wellbeing. 

When we work hard to be happy we often think that means we should avoid anything bad or negative and that sadness is something to fear.  That is not the case at all. 

As a clinical therapist I focus A LOT on using Positive Psychology in my practice and in my life.  I work one on one helping people find more joy and teach a workshop called “Increasing Optimism, for a Happier, Healthier, More Productive YOU!”  A practice I also use both personally and professionally is mindfulness. When practicing mindfulness it is not about trying to get rid of negative thoughts, but of acceptance.  Recognizing and observing without judging is a key component of mindfulness.  
What I have learned is that many of us want to be happier so we consciously try to increase our happiness by avoiding all sadness and pain.  Avoidance and suppression of negative feelings often lead to greater pain the future.  The more you try to push away any thought or feeling, the more prominent it becomes.  Awareness and acceptance builds resilience.

Sadness helps us appreciate more of what we have lost.  It fosters a sense of empathy and compassion towards others.
It can help us connect to others and appreciate what we have and can strengthen our sense of gratitude and thankfulness.

Life is full of ups and downs and experiencing good and bad moods is entirely normal and healthy.  Recognizing and understanding that everything is about balance will increase overall well-being.  Life is not about extremes or perfection, but about experiencing and being. 

So, absolutely continue to practice ways to increase happiness, while being aware of the importance of balancing the good and the bad. For tips and ways to find your balance, connect with me! Like my Facebook page, check out website or contact me!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

STOP Negative Thinking!

Do you find yourself caught up in pessimistic negative thinking? 

Psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania identified three components which can affect the way we think as a pessimist or optimist and ultimately affect our overall well-being.

 If you think you are a pessimist and would like to make a change, ask yourself about these three P's:


Do you look at negative events as lasting forever?  When something bad happens, are you able to see it as temporary or do you say things to yourself like, "I will never be able to learn to do this".  Seeing events as permanent contributes to negative feelings and makes it much more difficult to deal with obstacles and stressors.   


When one thing happens that is negative does it cloud everything else around you?  Suppose you got a negative review on a performance evaluation at work and you start to think that you are a failure expect to be fired.  Pessimists tend to take one negative event and generalize it to themselves and to others.  


While taking responsibility for mistakes is important, often pessimists blame themselves for things that were truly not within their control.  This leads to negative self talk and self esteem as well as depression.  

To stop negative thinking ask yourself how you define negative events in your life?  Do you see them as permanent or temporary, pervasive or isolated and do you blame yourself for things not in your control?  If so, identify those thoughts and challenge yourself to look at the events from a big picture perspective with optimism and hope.  For more information or to see if counseling or coaching may be right for you go to my website www.maximize-wellness to learn more and click contact me.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


In the last few days everyone seems to be talking about Caitlyn Jenner.  Praise and support quickly turned to hate and anger after the announcement of Jenner being named recipient of ESPY courage award.  All of a sudden her bravery is being judged because it is not "brave enough"!

The definition of Brave is possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance. At no point does one person's act of bravery diminish another ones.  It took 65 years for Bruce to become Caitlyn.  I could not imaging the pain of that many years not being my true self?

Why is it we feel that one person's experience is diminished or lessened by comparison?

Bravery and courage can be seen in so many ways:

  • Running into a burning building to save a life.
  • Facing a terminal illness.
  • Losing a limb in war or accident.
  • Leaving an abusive relationship.
  • Saying what you believe to be true in public when most disagree with you.
  • Trying something new and scary.
  • Seeking treatment for addiction.
  • Risking safety to rescuing someone else in danger.
  • Climbing a mountain.
  • Running a marathon.
  • Admitting mistakes and taking responsibility for our own actions.
  • Living your life true to who you are, even if you were not born that way!

Every person has his or her own personal struggles and no one can say what is and is not courageous unless you truly live in that person's skin.  One brave act does not make another one less courageous, we are all on our OWN JOURNEY every day.

If we could stop comparing & judging to diminish and devalue others we could find more joy and peace in the world.

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