Archive for November, 2011

Creative Cheating?

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

creative cheatingDrs. Francesca Gino and Dan Ariely (the latter is an author of several fascinating social psychology books) recently published a highly creative article on the potential dark side of creativity. Obviously, creativity is a highly valued ability, especially in today’s rapidly evolving, complex world. Creative products sell better and creative companies thrive in competitive environments. Who could argue about the value of creativity? Certainly not Apple and probably not most of its customers.

But Drs. Gino and Ariely questioned whether creativity always leads to good outcomes. Specifically, they proposed that creativity may actually lead to greater dishonesty and cheating because creativity helps people justify and rationalize their unethical choices and behaviors. In other words, a creative mind can more easily search for inventive ways to engage in dishonest behavior yet maintain a positive, moral view of one’s self.

Blogging on Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

blogging on ThanksgivingAlmost every Friday afternoon, our Blog Managing Editor on PsychCentral, Jessica DiGiacinto, sends fellow bloggers a bit of wisdom—sometimes compliments, sometimes tips, sometimes grammar advice, and sometimes a bit about her life in Colorado. Last Friday she told us that she’d be out of town on Thanksgiving visiting relatives and that she might not answer our questions as quickly as usual. She also suggested that we might want to post blogs either before or after Thanksgiving because not that many people would be surfing the Internet on that day.

I don’t know if she is right or wrong. Someone out there probably has the real statistics. Now that I think about it, isn’t that something that my son, Trevor does? I’m still not sure what he really does all day at that big office building across the country—but I think it has to do with tracking Internet use. So, Trev, how about answering your mother?!!

Anyway, that leads me to my point. I think our family is similar to other families across the country. This Thanksgiving, like many before, we’ll be celebrating here with just a part of our family. Two kids are far away and don’t have the time off work to travel. In our family we have nurses and a firefighter—whose schedules are often in conflict with holiday traditions. We have other family members scattered across the world and we’ve lost some of our regular Thanksgiving attendees to divorce, distance, or death.

Yes, I think our family is like many families. In some ways we struggle, but in many ways we are blessed. So, happy Thanksgiving to all the people who might (hey Jessica is it might or may?) be reading this on Thursday. You’re probably in good company.

Thanksgiving dinner photo available from Shutterstock.

Replacing Anxious Thoughts with Thanks

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

replace anxiety with thanksNext week is Thanksgiving—a time of reflection, gratitude, and for many people, stress. That’s how I was feeling this afternoon at the grocery store. I stopped there after a busy day of work to pick up a chicken breast and a bag of salad greens for dinner tonight. The parking lot was full and the lines were unusually long. I realized that some of the shoppers were stocking up for Thanksgiving. I started to worry that although we’re having a lot of people over, I haven’t even started to plan, clean, or even consider what I would need to do. Then I realized that I hadn’t written a blog today. And that how could I possibly stand in this long line, drive home, cook, and even be able to think, let alone write?

Here I am at the computer. The chicken breast is waiting for the oven to heat and I am trying to calm down. I know of three interventions that help with anxiety and stress; mindfulness, behavior changes, and cognitive changes.

I think I’ll try mindfulness. I will become in touch with the present moment. Well, my respiration is a little fast, I’m feeling a little stomach upset. My back is a bit sore from sitting and working on a report most of the day. My neck hurts too. I really need to write this blog and cook dinner. Well, I guess this mindfulness isn’t working out for me right now.

Cold and Dark

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

New Mexico sceneWe have 300 days of sunshine here in New Mexico. Yes, I admit it; I’m spoiled. Several years ago when we wrote Seasonal Affective Disorder for Dummies, we got a lot of teasing about that. People would ask, how can a couple of psychologists from one of the sunniest places in the world write about a disorder that involves lack of sunshine?

This is the time of year that many people begin to experience symptoms of SAD. For those in our hemisphere, days are shorter. Most communities turn the clocks back and darkness comes earlier. Commonly, people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder feel sleepy, have depressed moods, and crave carbohydrates. Their tendency is to become less active, an unfortunate symptom that may actually make their condition worse. That’s because SAD involves a biological response to a lack of sunlight and the best place to get sunshine is outside—even when it’s cold.

When Fear Looks Like Anger

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

kids' fearsWhen children are afraid of something, adults often reassure them. Many kids are afraid of the dark or of monsters under the bed. This fear usually starts sometime around preschool and is a great way to delay bedtime or to keep a loved one hovering around the bedside.

Many millions of parents, with good intentions, have said to their scared kids, “Don’t worry, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Most scared kids willingly accept their parents’ reassurance. They might get an extra hug or a night light or one more bed time story. Gradually, they outgrow their fears. But some kids don’t easily grow out of their fears. They may just be prone to anxiety or sometimes they get too much attention from their caring parents.

These kids’ fears may get them extended routines of reassurance such as long rigid rituals that must be performed each night before they sleep. And many exhausted parents give up and extend an invitation to their frightened children to sleep with them in their beds.

Anxiety: Three Messages to Avoid Giving Kids

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

anxiety and kidsKids don’t generally develop anxiety disorders all on their own. Oh sure, genes and biology have some influence, but these factors largely just predispose kids in the direction of acquiring problems with anxiety. The wrong messages can push both anxiously disposed kids as well as otherwise normal kids in the direction of struggling with anxiety for the rest of their lives.

If you’re a parent or someone who cares about kids, you just might want to know what type of messages instill insecurity. I’ll start by laying out three common mistakes that parents make; in other words, the kinds of messages you “don’t” want to give them:

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Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

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