Thursday, October 27, 2005

How to Create True Grit - Optimism, Perseverance and Self-discipline - in Yourself

How to Develop More Grit!

Grit is a combination of self-discipline, perseverance and optimism. It has been shown in studies to be highly related to success in marriage, work, home, and school.
Most experts believe that grit can be taught, learned and developed given the right conditions. This is based on the fact that similar traits such as motivation, self-discipline, and optimism are all traits that can be nurtured and strengthened.
So here are some steps you can take to reinforce and strengthen your inner supply of grit.

First, teach people to handle and learn from failure. From Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs to Da Vinci, every successful person has failed repeatedly in their lives. It is essential for all of us to understand that failure is just delayed success. We must learn early on in life to deal with the negative emotions that go hand in hand with setbacks, losses and failures. They are part and parcel of life. We have to learn appropriate coping strategies such as distancing yourself from the loss, understanding what you can and cannot control, deep breathing and journaling to get rid of negative emotions.

My eight year old son had to learn this lesson this year with his soccer team. With one weekend left in the season, his soccer team has only won one or two games. So there have been many chances to learn to deal with losing. And I believe that the lesson he was supposed to learn this season was how to lose gracefully. At the beginning of the season, he was so frustrated at himself and his teammates that he wanted to quit, he didn’t want to go to practice, and he was crushed with each loss. Every game threatened to ruin his mood for the day. My wife and I kept talking to him and teaching him different tools to deal with the frustration. You know, if you throw enough food against the wall, some of it’s bound to stick! A few weeks ago, he had learned how to emotionally distance himself from the outcome of the game. He still played his heart out. But he learned that the outcome of the game did not rest solely on his shoulders. He also learned that the outcome isn’t necessarily a reflection of his worth as a person. And after a recent loss, he came off the field, looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Oh well, it’s only a game.”
Next, learn to be realistically optimistic. Recent research by Martin Seligman has shown a link between optimism and grit. It makes sense. It’s hard to set long-term goals and persevere without having a positive outlook. If you’re a pessimist, what’s the point of long-term goals, in your mind, you will think that you’ll only fail to reach them. I’ve spoken at length about optimism on this show, so I’m not going to spend much time on it here.

Also, you want to find what make you passionate, what make you come alive, what gets your blood moving. Find out what you LOVE to do and pursue it with zeal. Help your kids identify their passions. Expose them to a number of different activities so they can discover what they love to do. Every successful athlete has to be self-motivated. They must be passionate about what they do. As a parent, you can’t force them.

Don’t worry so much about balance. We cannot excel in every area of life. There is simply not enough time. So if your child is passionate about baseball and is average in school, that’s okay. As long as they have something about which they feel passionately, they’ll be okay. People who are highly successful tend to overfocus in one area, oftentimes leaving other areas of their life out of balance. That’s okay.
Teach your kids how to receive criticism. By teaching them how to receive and give constructive suggestions, it allows them to learn quickly without popping the bubble of their enthusiasm. Use the sandwich theory. A compliment followed by a suggestion to improve, followed by another compliment. Bread, meat, bread. Compliment, suggestion, compliment. Sandwich theory.

Model your grittiness for your children. Children learn best from what you DO, not what you say. Show them how to persevere. Share your optimism with them. Let them know of your long-term goals. Most importantly, praise their EFFORTS, not their outcomes. As long as you focus on how hard they are trying, you’ll be fine. As soon as you focus on the outcomes, such as win versus loss, or grades, you send the message that your love for them is dependent upon their results. This is not the message you want to send. For instance, when you compliment a child’s intelligence (Oh, how smart you are!), and they fail, they think they are no longer smart, and then they lose interest in the task.

On the other hand, children complimented for their effort (time spent preparing, energy expended in the game) show no negative effects and are even energized in the face of a challenge. Praise effort over ability. Praise effort over results.

To recap, you can build more grit in your self and your loved ones by
Finding our own passion
Helping others find their passion,
Letting go of the need for balance,
Learning to be more realistically optimistic,
Modeling your grit for others,
Learning how to best handle failure and
Understanding how to offer and receive constructive criticism.
So remember, grit is a combination of perseverance, optimism and passion. Get your grit going now to ensure your success in life.

Guide To Self and KDIA need your help. We are looking for donations to help out Bernard. Bernard lost his dentures in the hurricane. And it’s much easier to get hired when you have your choppers. We are helping Bernard by paying the lab bill for his dentures which will be $600. My daughter’s Girl Scout troop raised nearly $100 for the cause. My father, Dr. Donald Schinnerer, is kindly doing the dental work for free. We just need to pay materials. We only need another $200. Please send your donation now in check or money order to KDIA, c/o Dr. John, 3260 Blume Dr., #520, Richmond 94806.

To help you reach your potential, Guide To Self is now sharing complimentary copies of the A+ Brain: Top Ways To Optimize your Brain at our website –

A chapter of my new book, “The Beginner’s Guide to Life: A Path to a Profoundly Happy and Meaningful Life” is available right now on our website, It still needs to be edited down some. However, I am extremely excited about this project. The book is my attempt to lay out the essential steps all of us must take to lead a happy and meaningful life. And you can be among the first to get a sneak preview for free. It’s my way to say “Thank you” for listening to Guide To Self.
Guide To Self is a listener supported radio show. Guide To Self currently needs advertiser and sponsors to keep the show on the air. If you or someone you know is interested in affordable advertising and reaching 8.5 million listeners in the San Francisco Bay Area during peak commute time, call us now at 925-944-3440.

Listeners can support Guide To Self by purchasing past Guide To Self shows on hot topics such as the creating more optimism, how to overcome anxiety and shyness, conquering depression, beating ADHD, and negating negative thinking. All these and more may be immediately downloaded at our website in Windows Media Player format for roughly $6 each. Brain tests are available for a mere $5.95 each.

All my best,

Dr. John
Guide To Self
KDIA 1640 AM
5 – 5:30 pm
Monday – Friday
(925) 944-3440

Guide To Self(C) 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Grit - What it is and Why You Need More of It In Your Life.

I am writing today about grit – a new trait that will make you eminently more successful in work, school and your marriage. Grit is a combination of perseverance, optimism, passion and focus. And the best news of all - grit can be learned!

Helen Keller wrote, “Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles.” Helen Keller overcame more obstacles than every one of us. She had grit.

And now, the most recent information on grit – the latest personality trait to make it to the big times.

While we are often led to believe that innate talent paves the main road to success, research is demonstrating that grit - a combination of passion, perseverance and optimism - may lead to the biggest successes of all.

While the advice to “try, try again” seems like trite lip service, grit has been shown to be as good a predictor of future success as those provided by genes – intelligence and ability.

Compelling new studies show that gritty people are more likely to succeed in school, excel in the workplace, and discover new achievements. This may be because their commitment, passion and optimistic outlook have enabled them to stay the course despite the unavoidable setbacks that accompany any long term goal. As I’ve said before, it’s not just talent and intelligence that matter, it’s also about character.

Experts talk about the 10-year rule which states that it takes a decade of focused hard work, minimum, to become highly successful in most areas – from managing people to sales to writing non-fiction. So the ability to keep at it despite setbacks is nearly always an essential component in major accomplishments. The exciting news is that grit can be learned, whereas intelligence and talent are much more difficult to learn.

So, you may be asking, what role does innate intelligence have versus other factors such as grit?

Intelligence has a larger or smaller role depending upon tasks involved in any given situation. However, there are large scale studies that suggest the following, more direct answer. Intelligence only accounts for a mere 25% of the differences between workers in job performance.

So if intelligence explains only 25% of the differences in performance, what explains the remaining 75%? The other 75% of job performance is explained by personality factors such as grit, optimism, and perseverance, creativity, luck and emotional intelligence.

Hard work and persistence is essential even for geniuses. That is, if they want to succeed. Some of the smartest people I’ve ever met are happy driving trucks and working as parking lot attendants, which makes me wonder if there’s something they know that I don’t!

In any case, the amazing thing about grit is that it explains a great deal about those individuals who are not geniuses yet still achieve tremendous accomplishments. We expect someone who is highly intelligent, persevering, and ambitious to succeed. Yet there are many stories of folks who are of average IQ and remarkably tenacious and gritty. They never give up. They never lose sight of the long-term goal.

Grit is the same mental arena as motivation, self-discipline and perseverance, but it’s a trait unto itself and has only recently seen renewed interest in research. Past studies have shown that grit was the most accurate predictor in distinguishing the most successful men from the least.

Many of you are familiar with gifted children and adults. You may even have one of your own. These are the folks who learned reading before being taught to read, understood calculus before the book was opened. They have an intuitive knack for learning and application. A often cited study by Joseph Renzulli from the National Center on the Gifted and Talented, believes that “task commitment” which is made up of perseverance, endurance and hard work, is on the three major hallmarks of giftedness (together with ability and creativity). And, he adds, that the evidence that these nonintellectual factors are necessary for giftedness in “nothing short of overwhelming.”

So here are some of the reasons you might want to improve your level of grit. A study at Penn State found that grit is helpful in academic settings, particularly spelling bees, where the winners were found to be the grittiest. They prepared the most. Grit is the best predictor of which new cadets will make it through West Point’s punishing first summer of training. Grit was a better predictor than SAT scores, athletic experience, grades, and teacher ratings.

Grit is likely to be one of the best kept secrets to long and successful marriages. Paul Glick found that high school dropouts were more likely than graduates to wind up divorced. This leads to the thought that people who give up on difficult long-term goals, like completing high school, may also be more likely to give up on other goals, such as marriage. On the other hand, highly persistent people are thought to be more likely to persist in other areas of their life such as their marriage despite inevitable tough times.

The idea is that passion and zeal fuel perseverance. So if grit and, thus high performance, are founded on passion, then it is critical for parents to expose their children to a wide variety of academic, athletic and artistic activities so the child can find his or her own passion.

Also included in grit is the concept of ambition. Gritty people set challenging long-term goals. What’s more they view difficulties as challenges, NOT as insurmountable problems.

Self-discipline is a part of grit, but not in the way you might think. Gritty people are self-disciplined. While perseverance implies the ability to keep going after a goal, self-discipline implies the ability to stay away from distractions and temptations. This means that gritty people are more likely to stay away from goofing off, alcoholism, drug use, and more.

And finally, gritty people are realistically optimistic. You must have optimism to keep you going, to help you hang in there, during the setbacks. You have to believe that, in the end, when all is said and done, you’re going to win. You’re going to succeed. And until you do, you just keep on keeping on.

So how do you develop more grit? I’ll share that with you …tomorrow!
All my best,

Dr. John Schinnerer
Guide To Self
KDIA 1640 AM
Monday – Friday
5 pm – 5:30 pm

Guide To Self(C) 2005.

Monday, October 24, 2005

How to Put a Stop to Your Child's Tantrums

How to Put a Stop to Tantrums
Dr. John Schinnerer
Guide To Self

The tantrum is the child’s best friend and your worst enemy. It’s a funny sort of behavior because on the face of it, during a tantrum, the child apparently loses all control, yet in throwing the tantrum, actually is gaining some control.

When a youngster throws a tantrum, he is taking control from the parent. When he is screaming, flailing around, and crying, he is assuming a position of power by making you feel helpless. The longer it goes, the louder it gets, the more control the child has. I mean, how many other situations does the child get this type of power?

To understand how to deal with this sort of behavior, you have to understand these underlying dynamics. Your goal is to take the control away from the child if you want to stop the tantrums. The hard part is figuring out HOW.

Here are some common mistakes parents make when dealing with tantrums or whining.

You don’t want to argue with your child. They don’t have the right disagree AND be defiant with you. They are the child. You are the parent. While they can express their opinions and beliefs, they may not defy you.  As parents, we have fundamentally different rights than our children. We make the decisions by which our kids must live. The role of the parent is to outfit children to be productive, ethical people who can succeed in the real world. The role of parent is NOT to be the child’s best friend. While you can act as a friend at times, the role of friend is secondary to the role of parent.

You don’t want to show any negative emotion such as anger. When you show anger or irritation, it tells the child that he has the power to influence your emotions and in turn you. To parent well, you must have excellent emotional self-control. Children innately respect strength – strength of body as well as strength of mind.

Naturally, you don’t want to hit the child while they are screaming. What good would that do you? Keep in mind that the main way kids learn is by watching how other people deal with life – especially their parents.

Simply let them know that they are not acting appropriately and the behavior is not acceptable in your family. Don’t raise your voice. Don’t get angry.

What you want to do is take the fun out of his fits. Explain to your son that if he wants to throw a tantrum he is free to do so. However, every time he does, you will record it (with a camera or tape recorder). The child has to do a bigger, louder and longer tantrum than the previous one. If it’s not bigger and louder, THEN he gets punished. Part of the punishment is to explain why the tantrum wasn’t better. Also, the tape of the tantrum must be viewed or listened to by the child within 24 hours of the fit. Tell your son that he needs to see how his behavior looks to others. Punishments for lesser tantrums might include loss of video game time,
Reducing TV time in ½ hour or hour increments,
Loss of play dates for a day,
or sliding bed time up in 15 minute increments.

This makes tantrums a burden rather than a boon. Now they HAVE to throw a longer, louder tantrum. You can cancel this intervention only after you are convinced that your son finds throwing fits to be a complete drag.

Additionally, you can make it so that the child HAS to throw a tantrum every day within these same guidelines. I’ve found that merely taping the tantrum is enough to discourage it after 4-5 fits.

If the behavior returns after this little intervention, just jump up and grab the video camera during the next fit. It should help snap him out of it.

Whining is used to get attention.
Keep clear and consistent boundaries and rules.
Ignore whining voice. Suggest that they talk in a big boy voice so you can hear them. There are no manipulative children. Merely parents who allow themselves to be manipulated. You have to show your son that whining is useless in your house. Once he learns that he is wasting his time, he should stop. Don’t show your distaste for whining in any facial expression. Stay calm. Keep in mind that his whining is likely to increase as you start to ignore it. Prepare yourself for it and stay true to your course. In short, the whining cannot be heard and therefore you do not respond to it in any way.

Signs and Symptoms of Teenage Drug Use - Substance Abuse

I spoke with Amy recently on Guide To Self (1640 AM, 5 pm, Monday through Friday) about ADHD and drug abuse and was unable due to time to get to the changes of behavior and the symptom of drug abuse. I have listed below the symptoms and signs to look for in your loved ones, in particular your children and teens. I’ll post these on my blog at so you can have a written copy of them.
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Sometimes our angels fall down. Yet our best bet is to help them to right themselves as quickly as possible. If your child is using substances, the less time you spend in denial, the more quickly your children can regain control over their lives.

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse in Teenagers

Changes in behavior:
  1. Missing school, declining grades, or discipline problems.

  2. Dropping old friends and getting new ones.

  3. Dropping outside activities such as sports, clubs and hobbies.

  4. Increasing secrecy.

  5. Unusual borrowing of cash.

  6. Sudden mood changes, irritability, rage and aggressiveness.

  7. Excessively talkative, rapid speech.

  8. Irresponsible behavior, poor judgment.

  9. Depression and sadness.

  10. Forgetfulness, slurred speech.

  11. Poor balance or coordination

  12. Involvement in activity to get the drug or money for drug – theft, break in, lying and extortion.

More direct evidence of use:
  1. Increased use of incense, room deodorant, or perfumes.

  2. Increased use of eye drops

  3. New use of mouthwash, gum or breath mints

  4. Drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, matches, lighters, razor blades, and so on. Don’t believe they are holding them for a friend.

  5. Increased accumulation of inhalable products – hairspray, nail polish, airplane glue, whip cream, correction fluid, and more

  6. Missing your prescription drugs – stimulants, mood stabilizers, narcotics, opiates.

It’s important to rule mental disorders in or out for yourself and your children. Many of us self-medicate as a way to reduce the symptoms of our depression, ADHD, anxiety and more. Here is a little more information on ADHD to help motivate you to get moving on a diagnosis. If you have a suspicion of a disorder, seek out help immediately. You can do anonymous, inexpensive testing to get a better idea with the proven tests at Guide To Self.
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Compared with adults who do not have ADHD, those individuals who have ADHD are significantly more likely to experience the following:
  1. being fired from their job

  2. having marital problems

  3. poor medical health

  4. serious motor accidents

  5. cigarette smoking

  6. drug abuse

  7. poor social skills.
All the best,

Dr. John
Guide To Self

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sample chapter - The Beginner’s Guide to Life: The Scientific and Spiritual Guide to a Profoundly Happy and Purposeful Life

Here is a little piece of my new book, "The Beginner’s Guide to Life: The Scientific and Spiritual Guide to a Profoundly Happy and Purposeful Life." If you've been reading this blog, or listening to the radio show (Guide To Self on KDIA 1640 AM Monday through Friday at 5 pm), I am certain you'll enjoy it. If you'd like to view the whole complimentary 70 page sample introduction and chapter, simply click here to download it.

Here it is...

Throughout the world, there is a movement underfoot. It is a movement of millions of people, each of whom seeks meaning in their life. People are searching for a profound happiness which blends science with spirituality. The very purpose, the primary goal, of our life is to move towards happiness.

Yet, in my doctoral program in psychology at U.C. Berkeley, I was taught that the best we could hope for was to help clients move from neurotic suffering to normal surviving. Most of us are consumed with merely addressing our weaknesses and the causes. When mental health workers talk about mental health, wellness or well-being, they are merely speaking of the absence of symptoms, disease or distress. For years, it seems as if the goal for which we've been told to strive is simply remaining free of negative symptoms.

Only recently have we started to focus on what is right with us, what our strengths are, and how we can systematically go about developing those strengths in order to build a happy and meaningful life. This book is intended to lay out the steps necessary to create a life of profound and purposeful happiness.

The latest research published in 2004 and 2005 shows that all of us can move from surviving to thriving. In fact, it is becoming clear that there are six areas of life that must be mastered for a life of true happiness and meaning. Research done in the past five years make a compelling case for the notion that these key areas include a powerful spiritual life, management of emotions, positive thinking, physical fitness, clear values, and supportive relationships.

This book lays out the six areas that serve as the foundation for a truly happy and meaningful life as proven by research and numerous counseling sessions. “The Beginner’s Guide” walks the reader through a straightforward approach to spirituality, physical health, mental well-being, values and healthy relationships. “The Beginner’s Guide” lays out a six stage approach to living life in a purposeful and peaceful way.

This approach has been proven to be highly successful with counseling clients as well as coaching clients on the Guide To Self radio show, including one gentleman who lost every item he owned in Hurricane Katrina. The approach replaces emptiness, exhaustion and depression with purpose, pride and contentment.

The six areas which the book explains in detail are:

1. Emotional– manage destructive feelings; cultivate positive feelings
2. Mental– positive thoughts lead to positive emotions; challenge your negative, Gremlin thinking
3. Relational – identify and handle life leeches; improve boundaries and communication
4. Physical – guidelines for physical health, the foundation of all energy
5. Ethical – identify top seven values so reader can behave in accordance with them
6. Spiritual – believe in and have a personal, daily relationship with a higher power.

As readers learn to hone and balance each of these six areas, they will enjoy an increasingly positive outlook and a purposeful life.

Similar to Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, which spells out the basics of the new positive psychology, “The Beginner’s Guide” will show readers step-by-step how to manage their thoughts and feelings to realize their potential. In addition, “The Beginner’s Guide” takes a holistic approach to life, incorporating the physical, spiritual, and relational into the framework as well as the mental and emotional.

The author, John Schinnerer, Ph.D., is a renowned psychologist out of U.C. Berkeley whose experience with thousands of counseling and coaching clients has taught him that there is much more to counseling than mere thoughts and emotions.

It is Dr. Schinnerer’s goal in this book to show readers how to become exceptional human beings, inspiring them to take charge of their own feelings, thoughts and actions, ultimately resulting in more happiness. The goal is to do all this while being entertaining and humorous.

While seeming to be revolutionary, Dr. Schinnerer’s message is clear: You are far more powerful than you ever dared to dream. You can have a profound impact on your happiness.

The following is an excerpt from the introduction...

At the age of 27, while working towards my Ph.D. I found myself as an intern in charge of the psychological needs of a school of 600. At that time, I was still attending classes. I was testing and diagnosing children as fast as I could work. As part of my job, I ran a number of counseling groups for troubled students.

At every school, I was given the boys with the worst behavior problems in the school. One middle school group was made up of eight boys each of whom was roughly 12 years old. I saw them once a week and chatted with them about things they liked to talk about. I created a connection with them. We had a rapport.

Middle school is interesting because the social hierarchy is so clearly delineated by the age of 11. There is a pecking order. There are the cool kids, the geeks, the outcasts, the skaters and so on. And even within this group of 8 boys, there was a pecking order.

Now the student at the bottom of the pecking order, let’s call him Todd, was the most impulsive of the lot. Todd couldn’t stay in his chair, couldn’t keep his whole body still for more than 5 seconds to save his life. He lacked social skills. He was always getting in fights with other kids because his mouth would go in motion before his mind caught up. He’d insult a bigger, older student and wind up getting the snot beat out of him every week. The other students teased him mercilessly causing a gradual build up of anger within him.

One day, I was running the group as usual and the boys were more stirred up than usual. When I run a group, I try to give the students a different view of adults than what they typically get – disgust, contempt, and punishment. So I try to be relaxed, calm, and caring with them. On this day, Todd was wound up more tightly than normal. Towards the end of the session, Todd sprung out of his chair, hopped a table and ran towards me. As he closed on me, he made a fist and took a swing at my face. I did not make any attempt to stop him. Todd’s fist stopped an inch from my nose.

Apparently, he had some self-control after all.

So I had a choice. Do I send him to the vice-principal’s office for discipline or do I take a risk and treat him differently than every other adult in his life? Rather than send him to the vice-principal for discipline, I told him to take his seat or return to his class. He chose to take his seat.
I turned to the group and asked them, “Okay, now what just happened?” The students were stunned. It took a few minutes to get them to talk about it. Eventually, they said they saw Todd take a swing at me and I did nothing to respond. They said they had never seen anything like it. In their world, anger was always met with anger. It was inconceivable to respond any other way, until that moment.

Over the next two years, I received calls from nearly every one of those boys’ mothers to inquire about private individual counseling. That day had an impact on how those boys viewed the world around them.

Despite my ability to stifle my own emotions in stressful situations, despite my psychological training, I struggled to stay on an even emotional keel day-to-day. It took me several years to find ways to train my thoughts, and release harmful emotions.

After studying the latest in research on the mind-body connection, positive psychology, spirituality, physical health, and relationships, I found tools and attitudes to help enable me to remain calm amidst the emotional hurricanes brought on by my clients and my children.

Within the past five years, my family became easy to love. This was in stark contrast to the frustration and irritability that my wife and three children used to cause me years ago. So what changed? I did. I changed my outlook from pessimistic to optimistic. I improved my physical health. I learned how to get rid of unwanted anger, sadness and fear. I discovered how to relax and enjoy life. I stopped my negative, self-defeating, punitive thoughts and replaced them with nurturing and supportive ones. I reduced my contact with life leeches, the people who constantly suck you dry of energy. I began speaking to God more frequently. I slowed my pace down. And I learned to smile more easily.

Despite having everything, I used to be irritable and somewhat moody. When I became sad, I would stay down for days or even weeks at a time. When something made me angry, I could not shake the anger. Fear gripped me much of the time. People scared me. My muscles were always tense. I never took a deep breath. It was like my emotional gas tank was filled to the brim with negative energy.

From the outside, everything looked fine. On the inside, I was drowning. I tried everything to escape from my perfect façade of a life – drinking, counseling, overachieving, medication, meditation, education – and none of it worked. These did not work because none of them addressed my life as a whole. They were a shotgun approach to a complex problem – the problem of human existence.

Now, things are different. My patience has grown. I find joy in life’s little nuances. I live in the present. I am more authentic in the sense that my outer appearance is an accurate reflection of my inner state. I am passionate yet peaceful in my own skin.

Most importantly, there are proven ways in which you too can build up your inner reservoir of energy to become more resilient, more balanced, and more content.

You can read the whole 70 page complimentary intro and chapter by clicking here.

Copyright Guide To Self 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Beginner's Guide To Life: A Scientific and Spiritual Guide to a Profoundly Happy and Purposeful Life

I am very pleased to announce the availability of the intro and chapter in my n ew book, "The Beginner’s Guide to Life: The Scientific and Spiritual Guide to a Profoundly Happy and Purposeful Life." You can click here if you'd like to read this new release. The book is intended to provide current best practices based on cutting-edge research for a meaningful, happy and fulfilling life.

The sample chapter goes over positive and negative thinking:

The top 14 types of Gremlin, or negative, thinking and the best ways to challenge them.

How to replace Gremlin thoughts with positive and supportive thoughts.

Why it's so important to cultivate more optimism in your life.

How to adopt a more optimistic attitude.

And several exercises to help you improve your thinking and your life.

The rest of the book will cover...

Emotional Arena

• Offer a new model of emotions which explains the purpose of negative and positive emotions.

• Share methods to manage each of the major types of negative emotions (i.e., fear, anger, and sadness).

• Provide concrete exercises to foster positive emotions (i.e., happiness, passion, and excitement) naturally and easily.

• Share a model of forgiveness which can be used to release old, pent-up anger and

• Share a key secret of world class athletes: the power of staying in the present moment.

Relational Arena

• Help readers to identify the 14 types of Life Leeches, those individuals that drain us of precious energy.

• Share the way to establish and enforce personal boundaries to keep negative feelings out and allow positive feelings in.

Ethical Arena

• Present the top 28 values throughout the world to help readers identify their core values.

• Stress the need for an awareness of one’s own values to guide decision-making.

• Demonstrate how values can boost self-esteem and assertiveness and reduce anxiety.

Spiritual Arena

• Put forth the need to believe in a Higher Power as a way of reducing anxiety and tapping into a power greater than one’s self.

• As determined by research, explain the best way to think of God for the greatest mental well-being (i.e., forgiving and loving as opposed to punitive and angry).

• Explain the power of prayer and the need for frequent prayer throughout the day backed up by scientific research.

Physical Arena

• Share recent findings that there are at least three different brains in your body: the one in your head, the enteric nervous system (the brain in your gut), and the brain in your heart(40,000 neurons or brain cells are in the human heart).

• Discuss the relationship between heart disease and negative emotions and pessimism.

• Stress the need for exercise to stay slim, flexible, and strong.

• Outline the latest in nutritional supplements to improve mood, boost memory, clarify thought and think creatively.

And provide the latest in nutritional and dietary supplements to improve thinking, memory, mood and attention.

I am currently in the process of shopping it to publishers.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and please enjoy the complimentary chapter.

All my love,

Dr. John
Guide To Self
Alamo CA 94507
(925) 944-3440
1640 AM
Monday - Friday 5 pm

Guide To Self(C) 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

"Positive Psychology Sounds Like a Load of Crap to Me"

This is your friendly neighborhood psychologist, Dr. John and I spoke with a listener a few days ago. His name is John also. And it was interesting speaking with him.

He wanted so much to believe in what I am saying on the radio. And I realize that at times what I’m saying here may sound to you like a load of crap. There are times it sounds pie-in-the-sky and polly-anna-ish. I understand that. Despite that, I continue to speak about it. Why?

BECAUSE… IT …WORKS. All this stuff I’m sharing with you on this radio show work to help make your life better. It’s been proven in research studies at the best universities in the world.

William Faulkner said, “I have found that the greatest help in meeting any problem with decency and self-respect and whatever courage is demanded, is to know where you yourself stand. That is, to have written down in words what you believe.”

The problem is that we’re hurting too badly to trust anyone long enough to give it a chance. We’re too pessimistic. We think that it is safer to stay in the hell you know that to risk stepping out into the unknown.

Charles Du Bos said, “The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”

And still, John has doubt. He has fear. He remains skeptical. He is scared. He is hurt. Someone hurt him …badly… in the past. And this makes it difficult for him to trust and to believe.
Difficult to believe in something good.
Difficult to believe in a life of happiness.

And I understand that feeling. I’ve been there.

Heck, I’ve felt it today. I’ve been in a funk all day today. My youngest son kicked my older son in the face this morning OVER a blanket. And the worst part is that there was an identical blanket an armful away from him. Only it was a different color and that blanket wasn’t his. He could have just as easily picked up the blanket on the floor and traded it to his brother. He could have asked for the blanket. He could have asked for help.

Instead, he resorted to violence on an impulse. I lost my temper and yelled at him. And I’m watching myself as I’m yelling, thinking “This makes absolutely no sense to me. I’m doing exactly what I’m saying NOT to do.” And I think that the anger that I felt following the incident was perhaps more disturbing to me than the fact my son kicked my other son’s face.

We’ve all felt that way at times in our life. And I know that the degree of pain and hurt and suffering is different for each of us. I know that some of you have been hurt very badly. Some of you have been hurt beyond what words can describe. No one gets through life without pain.

We’re all hurt. We’re all scared. We’ve all been screwed by someone. But when you let them turn you off, when you let them shut you down, when you let the fear win, when you let the anger rule, you let them win. You let the people who hurt you win. And I cannot stomach that thought. I will not give up. And you will not either. How much of your self is tucked away in a little corner? Most of us have hidden so much of our real self from the whole world that we barely exist anymore. It's time to reclaim your life - your vitality.

So I hope you will join me in trying to improve ourselves and the world around you. I hope you will trust me.

I am not a wealthy man. I don't do this for money. If I'm fortunate that may come along the way, but that’s not why I do this. I do this because it’s the right thing to do, because I believe I have knowledge and experience that can benefit you… to slow the violence and the insanity, and to help people relearn how to enjoy life.

Arthur Schopenhauer said, “What a man is contributes much more to his happiness than what he has, or how he is regarded by others.”

Wealthy, successful and wretched

Alright, I told you that I would talk a bit about wealthy, successful and wretched today.

The latest research is clearly showing that if you are in your 30s or 40s, you are earning more than ever, you are more successful than ever, yet you’re more wretched and depressed than ever. When you are in your 30s and 40s, you are at a peak in your career, you have children, you have no time, and you realize that life is not everything that you had hoped. Some of your dreams may have died.

You’re too busy to change how lousy you feel inside. And so, amazingly, we adapt.

We become used to this growing sense of dissatisfaction. We think that it’s just the way it is – that there is nothing better.

The evidence of this midlife misery has been shown by economists, psychologists, and sociologists. The evidence is overwhelming. What they’ve found is that happiness is U-shaped where people are increasingly unhappy as they approach their 40s and then most of us rebound from there. It’s been found in many studies and many countries. It’s clear that this dynamic exists.

The question is “How do we change it?”

I can tell you how you WON’T change it. Don’t expect that a new car, or a pay raise, or a promotion, or a new child to take away that sense of dissatisfaction and misery. Oh, it may do so for a few minutes or hours or days, but eventually, the gnawing sense of unhappiness will return. That’s our adaptation at work.

The experts call this the “hedonic treadmill” which is the idea that we quickly adapt to changes in our lives and thus end up feeling no better off due to external changes such as more money. And you can see this at work, even in extreme examples such as people who have won the lottery as well as people who have lost an arm of a leg. Within a year’s time, they return to the same level of happiness that once had prior to the good or the bad news. We have a happiness set point which is predetermined.

None of the things that we normally associate with greater happiness actually LEAD to more happiness – money, marriage, cars, working fewer hours, having no commute, buying a nice house, a pay raise, a promotion at work, and so on. These things will bump up your happiness for a short period of time and then it’s back to your set point.

So, how do you become less dissatisfied? How do you become happier?
Well, that’s what this program Guide To Self is all about. That’s what I’m talking about here every day – how to reclaim your happiness.

You reclaim your happiness by raising the bar in six areas – physical, ethical, emotional, mental, relational and spiritual.

So how do you go about doing that?

Odds are that you are already doing much of it if you’re listening to this program.

The burning question is “Are you doing ALL of it?

Are you stretching yourself in each of these six areas?
Do you know what your top values are?
Are you in great physical shape?
Can you manage your emotions?
Do you know how to stay positive amidst trouble?
How strong is your relationship to God?
Are you surrounded by positive people?

You need to realize that a weakness in any one of these areas can cause your whole life to collapse.

And I’ve seen it many times before, so let me give you an example. I’ll call him – Ted.

Ted is a strong Christian man who prays daily. He is physically fit, running five miles daily. He knows what his core values are. He is a positive thinker.

Yet, he is weak in one area – managing his own emotions. When his children misbehave, his anger erupts. He yells at them, making his children believe they are bad people, undermining their self-confidence and causing fear and anxiety to take root in them. His children may grow up to resent and reject God because of the behavior of their father.

Ted’s wife fears his unpredictable moods – irritation, withdrawal, sadness, anger, and impatience fill most of his days.

Due to his poor emotional control, Ted risks undermining his values which include treating others with respect and love. He risks an unbalanced spiritual life by setting a poor example for his loved ones, an example that is in direct opposition to the behaviors modeled by Jesus.

Ted’s negative emotions also eat away at his physical health as we now know that anger and irritation are directly related to greater risk of stroke, heart attacks, low self-esteem, migraines, ulcers, substance abuse problems. Finally, Ted’s difficulty with anger leads to troubled relationships at work and with friends and family. It also interferes with his financial situation because he erupts at his bosses and loses jobs.

As it goes with the management of your emotions, so it goes with each of the other critical areas – physical health, relationship with God, mental health, awareness of values and supportive relationships.

You cannot lead an exemplary life by excelling in only one or two of these.

Focusing on one or two of these areas is not sufficient for an extraordinary life.

Weakness in any one of these areas is enough to destroy a lifetime of hard work. Each of these areas interacts with and has an effect on every other area. They are interconnected. You can’t simply ignore one area and hope it goes away. The chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

You have to focus on strengthening and becoming more aware of each and every one of these areas to create your extraordinary life.

Remember, YOU are the good worth fighting for.

As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

You have to begin with yourself.

Only then can you truly help others. And this life is all about serving others because that will lead to happiness.

All my love,
Dr. John
Guide To Self
KDIA 1640 AM
Monday - Friday
5:30 pm
Guide To Self(C) 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Success is peace of mind...

John Wooden, perhaps the best basketball coach ever, said, "Success is peace of mind, a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming, and not just in a physical way: seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be yours as well."

There are a large number of definitions of success. John Wooden has given us one of the best: The peace of mind that comes from having a deep inner faith, from knowing you gave it your all, from having no regrets, given your situation.
How many of us can claim this peace of mind?

How joyous, how successful, would you be if you gave your ALL in your


your career...

your business...

your physical health...

and your emotional self-control?

What would happen if you put forth your best, more consistently and more frequently?
Today’s tip: Catch yourself every time you find yourself putting forth your best effort doing anything from washing the dishes to parenting to working.

Remember, all truth must proceed through three stages before it is acknowledged as true. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as self-evident. [Thanks to Schopenhauer.]

Give it your best today.

One day at a time.

One hour at a time.

One minute at a time.

Give it your all. No regrets.

Dr. John
Guide To Self
KDIA 1640 AM
Monday - Friday
5 pm

To sign up for the Guide To Self newsletter, click here.

Guide To Self(C) 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Better than a Punch in the Face!

Here's an excerpt from yesterday's show, perhaps the best of the seventy or eighty I've done so far. For a listen, click here. And click on Better than a punch in the face: Dr. John's Personal Stories.

This just in…I often talk about being married, having children and parenting to your children’s potential on this show. However, there are many of you out there who are not married and are happy being single and that’s okay. One of my listeners told me, "I never married because I never had the need. I have three pets at home which serve the same purpose as a husband. I have a dog which growls every morning, a parrot which swears all afternoon and a cat that comes home late at night." Apparently, our role as husbands have been replaced by domestic animals! Hey, what about the parenting we do?!

At the age of 27, while working towards my Ph.D. I found myself as an intern in charge of the psychological needs of a large school. At that time, I was still attending classes and writing theses and dissertations. I was busily testing and diagnosing children as fast as I could work. There were several groups counseling sessions that I ran as well as daily crises that arose – fighting, school anxiety, depressed students, and so on.

The funny thing about training for psych students is that the best schools in the world are preparing people to do counseling yet never talk about how to manage your own destructive emotions as a psychologist. So most interns and new shrinks get overwhelmed and succumb to depression.

And that’s exactly what happened to me.

At every school I worked, I was given the boys with the worst behavior problems in the school and told to put them into group counseling. This is due to the fact that you don’t have enough time to see them all one-on-one. And the funny thing is that these kids were the best part of my job because when you gave them attention and treated them with respect, they were cool kids and I loved talking to them.

One group I ran in a middle school was comprised of 8 boys aged 11-13, keep in mind that these are the most difficult boys in a school of 1000. So I saw them once a week and chatted with them about things they liked to talk about. I created a connection with them. We had a rapport.

Middle school is interesting because the social hierarchy is so clearly delineated by the age of 11. There are the cool kids, the geeks, the outcasts, the skaters and so on. And even within this group of 8 boys, there was a pecking order. All of these boys had broken homes, no dad, and ADHD. None of them could sit still and pay attention for any length of time. Their grades were in the toilet. Most were severely impulsive, that is they acted before they could even consider the consequences of their actions.

Now the kid at the bottom of the pecking order, let’s call him Todd, was the most impulsive of the bunch. This is saying a lot. He couldn’t stay in his chair, couldn’t keep his whole body still for more than 5 seconds to save his life. He lacked social skills. He was always getting in fights with other kids because his mouth would go in motion before his mind caught up. So he’d insult a bigger, older student and wind up getting beat up after school weekly. He was big for his age, but that didn’t help him because his ability to connect with other kids was so poor. The other students mercilessly teased him causing a gradual build up of anger.

One day, I was running the group as usual. The boys were more agitated than usual. They were stirred up and excited for some reason. As always, with groups, I tried to give the students a different view of adults than what they typically received – yelling, anger, contempt, and punishment. So I tried my best to be relaxed, calm, and caring with them.

However, this day, Todd was wound up more tightly than normal.

In the midst of the session, Todd sprung out of his chair and came over the table at me. He ran up to me and took a swing at my face. I sat in my chair and stared at him. His fist stopped about an inch from my nose. Apparently, he had some self-control after all.

Let me tell you, when anyone throws a punch at you, some fear creeps in. Yet, you have to overcome your fear when you are dealing with children and teenagers, otherwise they will sniff it out, expose it, exploit it and run you straight into the ground.

When he threw a punch at me, I had a choice. Do I send him to the vice-principal’s office for discipline or do I take a risk and treat him differently than every other adult in his life?

Rather than send him to the vice—principal for discipline, which is what any teacher in the school would have done, and rightly so, I invited him to take his seat or return to his class. He chose to take his seat. I turned to the group and asked them, “Okay, now what just happened?” The students were stunned. It took a few minutes to get them to talk about it. Eventually, they said they saw Todd take a swing at me and I did nothing to respond. They said they had never seen anything like it.

In their world, anger was ALWAYS met with anger.

It was inconceivable to respond any other way, until that moment.

Of course, after the group was done that day, I went into my office and collapsed into exhausted my chair. Yet, over the next 2 years, I received calls from every one of those boys’ mothers to inquire about individual counseling outside of school.

That day definitely made an impact on how those boys viewed the world around them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I solved all the problems in their lives. I’m saying that modeling the behavior you want to see in others is perhaps the most powerful way to teach.

That’s why corporate ethics are such a problem in this day and age. Most CEOs want their employees to act like they say, not like they do. Most parents want their children to behave as they tell them to, not as they do.

For many of these kids, the only interactions they have with adults are the yelling, screaming, exasperation, frustration, and disgust we give them. We are constantly modeling behavior for these young people -- and we are failing. Look at the homicides in Richmond. This senseless violence is completely out of control.

Violence in Richmond is a topic for another day, but I will get to that soon.

For now, let me return to some of my own stories.

My first year as a credentialed school psychologist, I found myself working in a large school district with 30,000 students. One of the schools I oversaw was a middle school in a poor community with a great deal of gang-related activity.

I had several suicidal students on my case load. There is nothing more stressful than having the responsibility for suicidal 13 year olds. What’s more, I could only find time to see each of them ten minutes per week. And I was the only mental health care provider, or any sort of health care provider for that matter, that looked after these kids. I am constantly grateful for the mental health care workers out there on the front lines because it is a demanding and draining job. A bad day at work is when a child dies due to suicide, car crash, overdose or gun shot.

So I’m working on supporting these young teens as best I can, when I can, and hoping they don’t do anything rash and the pressure begins to get to me. At that point, the head school psychologist for the district places another severely depressed student into a classroom at my school. This student had made several attempts on her own life by the age of thirteen. Remember, I was a rookie at this point. I had been trained but I was green. So I was still under the impression that things followed some sort of clear logic in school districts. Nope. I was wrooooong.

Let me ask you a question. I know you’re not trained to answer this sort of question but give it a try. You may surprise yourself.

Pretend you have a severely depressed student who has a history of suicide attempts. Would you place her (a) in a classroom for learning disabled students or (b) in a classroom for severely emotionally disabled students?

See! I knew you could do it! It was clear to me that she belonged in the severely emotionally disturbed classroom. However, the head of school psychologists for the district put her in my learning disabled classroom. I couldn’t make sense of it. I spent 4 months fighting the district to get her properly placed in the SED class which had a full-time psychologist on hand all day long. It was roughly this time in my life when I realized that very intelligent people could make stupid decisions even when it had to do with life and death. It was this lack of common sense that forced me out of the public school system to start my own company doing applicant testing for large companies.

Alright. I told you a somber story, so now let me do a lighter bit.

This just in, there is a new 800 number you can call to get an accurate mental health diagnosis.
When you call, the automated attendant says,

Hello! Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline.

If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please have someone press 2.
If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.
If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are depressed, it doesn't really matter which number you press. No one will answer.

Here’s a good psych joke...

A psychologist was conducting group therapy with four young mothers. "You are all obsessed!" he observed.

To the first mother he said, "You are obsessed with eating. You went so far as to name your daughter Candy."

He turned to the second mom. "Your obsession is money. Again, it shows up in your child's name, Penny."

He turned to the third mom. "Your obsession is alcohol and your child's name is Brandy."

At this point, the fourth mother got up, took her little boy by the hand and whispered, "Come with me, Richard, we’re going home!"

Now that you know about some of my formative experiences, perhaps you can understand why it becomes necessary to have a gallows sense of humor. A gallows sense of humor is a dark sense of humor which enables you to laugh at the disgusting, repulsive and the insane. Studies have shown that emergency room workers with a gallows sense of humor are more likely to be happy, have less job burnout, and are more satisfied with their work. It’s a defense mechanism that allows you to laugh at the insanity going on around you.

Remember to laugh. You've gotta' laugh!

Your friendly neighborhood shrink,

Dr. John
Guide To Self
KDIA 1640 AM
5 pm Monday - Friday
Guide To Self(C) 2005.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Latest Guide To Self Radio Show on Type D Personality

For the latest Guide To Self radio show on the new 'Type D' Personality, the effects it has on your heart, and how to reduce your risk of being a 'Type D', click here to listen!

Just click on the link, save the wma file to your hard drive and listen to it using Microsoft Windows Media Player.

The show is 30 minutes long and takes approximately 2-3 minutes to download with DSL or cable. Guide To Self radio can be heard on KDIA 1640 AM in the SF Bay Area Monday through Friday at 5 pm.

If you think you might be in a funk, startle easily, dwell on negative things, or just plain sad, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take a listen.

You'll be glad you did!

Your friendly neighborhood shrink,

Dr. John

Guide To Self(C) 2005. All rights reserved.

The foundation of values

In order to live up to excellence, every day, we must hold ourselves to the very highest standards and ideals. Our listeners share these same core values, so we ask you to take the following pledge:
Pledge to be AUTHENTIC and true to your passion and yourself.
Pledge to be UNCOMPROMISED in your demand for excellence
Pledge to always ASPIRE to be and do more than expected
Pledge to MASTER your thoughts and feeling by increased awareness.
Join this extraordinary state of mind. Live by your core beliefs and aspire to excellence.
The first step is to identify your top 7 values and then to prioritize them – put them in order from most important to least important. For instance, my top values are God, family, hard work for fair pay, serving others, lifelong learning, friendship, and creating an optimistic outlook.

Some of the widely held values that are present throughout the world include a love of learning, open-mindedness, creativity, emotional balance, inner peace, wisdom, ambitiousness, courage, integrity, perseverance, happiness, friendship, family, physical fitness, allowing yourself to be loved by others, kindness, justice, fairness, loyalty, humility, the exercise of self-control, passion, forgiveness, appreciation of beauty, spirituality, playfulness, a sense of humor, and gratitude.

Your friendly neighborhood shrink,

Dr. John
Guide To Self
KDIA 1640 AM
Mon-Fri 5 pm

Guide To Self(C) 2005.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Type D Personality and The Heart

There is a renewed emphasis on the profound relationship between your emotions and the health of your heart. If you’re serious about leading a fulfilling life, if you’re serious about living, you’d better get with the program.

There are some people that seem to be immune from stress, immune from destructive emotions, immune from high pressure jobs. So what’s the secret to keeping your risk of heart attack low?

This is your friendly neighborhood psychologist, Dr. John and today I’m writing about the powerful link between your heart and your mind and how it affects everything you are, everything you do – your health, your relationships, your happiness, everything.

Negative mood?
Let me ask you some questions. Do you often feel unhappy? Do you complain about unimportant things? Are you irritated much of the time? Are you often in a bad mood? If you answered “yes” to two of these questions, you are halfway there. You are at risk of having a negative mood.

Socially inhibited?
Here’s some more questions: Do you frequently talk to strangers? Do you make friends easily? Do you have a hard time starting a conversation? Do you have a hard time finding things to talk about? If you answered “yes” to two of these questions, you’re at risk for being socially inhibited, or shy and withdrawn.

When you put these two factors together, a negative mood, and being shy and withdrawn, you have the Type D personality – distressed. Distress and disease go hand in hand. 54% of people with a Type D personality aged 40 to 70 have high blood pressure. This is compared to only 19% of the general population (without Type D personality) who have high blood pressure.

Many of you are already aware that chronic destructive feelings such as anger, fear and sadness take a huge toll on your health, your happiness, and your relationships. Emotions are our primary driving force. Nearly everything we say, do or think begins with emotion. Even the word itself, emotion, means an impetus to act.

The risk from destructive emotions is nearly as great as obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. For instance, depression makes an otherwise healthy person twice as likely to die from a heart attack. For those of us younger than 60, constant anger ups your chances of dying by heart attack by more than 50%. And this includes anger that you turn inwards towards yourself as well as anger at others.

Check this out: Even traumatic events from your childhood, such as abuse, domestic violence or alcoholic parents, increases your heart attack risk by up to 70%! Heart disease is the leading cause of death in every developed country on the planet. And depression leads to heart disease.

Why does depression and distress affect the heart?
The increased risk of heart disease in those with the Type D personality, depressive or distressful tendencies, is related to poor functioning of the arteries, according to a 2005 study.

Your heart pushes blood to every part of your body – to your brain so you can think clearly, to your digestive system so you can break down food, to your muscles so you can exercise. Every adult in America, Asia and Europe has a 40% chance of dying from heart disease. And they’ve got a 1 in 2 chance that their quality of life will be screwed up by arterial aging disease. The important thing is to realize is that damaged arteries impair your memory, harm all your other organs, and mess up your sex life.

Having a Type D personality also is related to irregular heartbeats, known as arrhythmias. Depression has been related to more blood platelet groupings, which means that more clots form which can clog your arteries. It also leads to a smaller social network and lonely hearts. And we know that having a large circle of friends and family can provide a buffer against heart disease.

Let me share with you a little bit about the heart
Your heart is far more powerful than you ever dreamed. Your heart pumps blood sixty to seventy times per minute, every minute of your life, without ever taking a break. And the most significant factor in your heart’s health is the health of your arteries – they transport the blood throughout your body. The biggest barrier to getting that blood to the places it needs to be is coronary artery disease. When your arteries become partially blocked, your heart muscle weakens because it can’t get enough blood. And seeing the world in a pessimistic manner, being depressed damages your arteries.

So how do some people keep their risk of heart attack down? How do you keep your heart healthy?

The key to NOT having a heart attack is the sense of control you have over your life and the circumstances around you.

Those who feel they are in control of their life have a lower risk of heart troubles.

Those who feel that their lives are out of control have a really good chance of a heart attack.

If you believe that control of life is external, or outside yourself, then you believe that your behavior is guided by fate, luck, or other external circumstances.

If you believe that control of life is internal, or comes from within you, then you think that your behavior is guided by your own intentions, decisions and efforts.
Here’s the key: You are more resilient, healthy and happy to the extent that you believe that you have the power to change the situation. Again, here is a situation where your brain doesn’t know the difference between your inner reality of thoughts and feelings and the outer world, or reality. Merely believing that you have the power to control the situation is powerful. You must believe that you can influence events around you.

The beliefs that you have about what you control are also known as "attributions". Attribution refers to how you explain events that happen to you and others. Different kinds of attributional styles have been found to explain why different individuals react quite differently to situations and more importantly how they explain the causes of those events. Most people tend to have a self-serving bias. For example, in general, people tend to make:

Internal attributions about themselves when they succeed (i.e., I did it myself)

Internal attributions about others when they fail (i.e., it was their fault)

External attributions about themselves when they fail (i.e., Something else made me fail)

External attributions about others when they succeed (i.e., they got lucky)

In the simplest terms, it is more desirable and heart healthy to believe that you can influence things around you -- that is you have an internal locus of control.

Having an internal locus of control can also be referred to as "personal control" or "self-determination". Research has found that:

Men tend to feel more personal control than females

As people get older they tend to feel more personal control

People higher up in companies tend to feel more personal control.

On the whole, research has found that people who believe that they control their lives (internal locus of control) are better off -- they tend to be better paid, have a better quality of life and are happier. These beliefs about what you can and cannot control are learned.

So let me go over the symptoms of depression so that you can recognize it if you or someone you know is suffering from it. The symptoms of depression which are highly associated with a Type D personality are:

Feeling depressed, sad or empty
Lack of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
Loss of appetite or eating too much
Sleep trouble
Feeling restless or agitated
Low energy, fatigue or burnout
Feeling guilty or worthless
Inability to think or focus
Anxiety or nervousness
Constant negative thoughts
Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Now understand that even those folks with minor depression will suffer damage to the inside of their arteries and are more likely to participate in high risk behaviors, such as smoking and substance abuse. Take the necessary steps now to ensure a healthy mind and heart for life.

Your friendly neighborhood psychologist,
Dr. John
Guide To Self on KDIA 1640 AM
Monday through Friday, 5 pm

Guide To Self(C) 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Manage Sadness, Anger and Fear to Find Joy

Alexis Carrel said, “Life leaps like a geyser for those willing to drill through the rock of inertia.” Inertia is defined as an inability or unwillingness to move or act.

Inertia, apathy, or inactivity: all are caused by destructive emotions such as fear, anger or deep sadness.

The longer I live, the more people I work with, and the more I observe; the more convinced I become that emotion is the primary driving force behind our action as well as our inaction.

Most of us are ruled by destructive emotions. Our prevalent mood is one of fear, sadness or anger. If you have no emotional management, if you cannot harness your negative emotions, then you are a slave to them.

Fear paralyzes us.

Anger turned inward can lead to resigned apathy (e.g., “I just don’t care anymore”).

Sadness causes inertia, a lack of movement.

Yet those that learn to manage their negative emotions can leap like a stag through inertia to grasp joy, happiness and meaning.

Managing emotion is the first step. When you learn to accept your negative emotions as they are, they will pass through you more quickly. As your destructive emotions leave sooner, the damage they do to your physical body is reduced. Your relationships improve. Your mood is lightened. Your life is better.

Learn how to manage your emotions. It is the first step towards a happier existence.

Have a wonderful week!

Dr. John

Guide To Self(C) 2005. All rights reserved.