Psych Central

The Power of Thinking and the Answer to Who You Really Are

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

thoughtsHave you ever thought about what your thoughts really are?

Consider for a moment even as you’re reading this the voices and images that are naturally appearing in your mind as your brain processes this sentence.

Close your eyes for 10 seconds. Imagine you’re in a dark movie theatre and just watch these mental events forming and unforming. Some are voices questioning what you’re doing, others are telling you what you should pay attention to, or yet others are just a string of different images shifting and changing (You can also be guided through this practice).

Even after looking at them are hearing them in your mind right now, are you any closer to understanding what thoughts are?

The truth is not a single scientist can tell you for certain what a thought is, but somehow we become highly identified with them.

We say, “I am a teacher,” or “I am a good person” or “I am a failure” or “I make the best chocolate chip cookies” or “I am an addict” or “I am a depressed person” or “I am unworthy, unlovable and defective.” The stories go on and on.

From the time we are born we collect these stories to define who we are and what we can achieve in this life. When the thoughts are judgments, can we say for certainty that they’re true? The answer is almost always, no. But the thoughts lead to feelings or the reinforcement of feelings that were already there. Inevitably they feel true.

What it comes down to is we are not our thoughts, not even the ones that say we are.

How do I know this?

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The Cost of Mindless Eating: A National Dilemma

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

donutThe cells in your brain and body require a constant supply of energy to keep them alive and working well. Food is the fuel for these cells. If we want optimum physical and mental health, then it is critical to take in the highest quality food (fuel). However, most of us walk around without much awareness of the food we eat. Most of the schools in this country serve food and snacks filled with high levels of sugar that quickly spike our systems and then cause us to crash. Kids have a hard time paying attention, behavioral problems emerge and then the teachers get blamed for low test scores.

It seems like it may be a critical national issue at this point for everyone to look at what food we’re eating and drinking on a daily basis.

So many foods nowadays are filled with high levels of sugar that kids and adults get hooked on them, spike and also crash. This makes doing our work, parenting and living more challenging.

I was recently part of a conference in San Diego for Mindfulness and Youth and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, author of A Mindful Nation took the

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3 Tips to Getting Focused

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

taskingIn a study out of the Journal of Communication, researchers showed how media multitasking not only makes for poorer cognitive performance and makes us less effective at home and work. It turns out that even the idea of multitasking is a myth. In an interview with the National Institute of the Clinical Applications of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM), Dan Goleman, PhD, author of the recent bestselling book Focus talks about how the concept of multitasking is a myth, why it makes us less effective and how we can get more focus.

You can watch this one hour interview free on Wednesday February 5th, 2014. This series also lines up Dan Siegel, Rick Hanson, Daniel Amen, Bruce Lipton, Helen Fisher, among others.

It turns out that according to cognitive science the brain cannot handle more than one task at a time. Multitasking is a process of incredibly fast switching of attention. Just like a computer that has many programs open, when the brain multitasks and rapidly shifts back and forth the performance ultimately goes down.

Why?

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Mindfulness: Is the Media Harming or Helping?

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Well as you may know by now mindfulness has made the cover of Time Magazine. This means that mindfulness has arrived, right? When I first heard this I said to myself something I said to myself over a decade ago which was “this practice is going to reach the mainstream world, it something we sorely need right now.” But watching a short clip on MSNBC made me curious about whether it’s being conveyed in a way where people are going to truly get the benefit that the science of mindfulness promises.

Let me explain.

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Turn Negative Emotions into Your Greatest Source of Strength

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

I always say if there’s anything we’re assured of in life besides death and taxes, it’s stress and pain. While that may seem like a doomsday statement, if you look at it again, it’s actually quite freeing. If you know stress and pain are inevitable, then you can learn how to be grateful for the good when it’s here and be graceful when the stress and pain arrives.

Here’s a short passage from Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind that gives voice to this.

“It is what it is, while it is. Nothing lasts forever. Difficulties will pass and so will the wonders; tune in to the preciousness of life.

Bring this awareness into the moments of your day, tuning in to what really matters.”

Life is so precious.

How can we get better and better at setting aside the trivial mind traps that keep us stuck and drag us down into states of anxiety and depression?



5 Year Blog Anniversary and My Top 10 Favorite Posts from 2013

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

sunBelieve it or not, five years ago starting a blog called Mindfulness and Psychotherapy seemed like a risky venture. At the time, some people I mentioned it to said, “Well, there are a whole lot of blogs that come and go within a year.” The integration of mindfulness, compassion and neuroscience as a therapy in our daily lives has now become key to millions of people. Through posts and interviews we’ve looked into practical applications for stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, trauma, grief, happiness, joy, self-compassion, forgiveness, relationships, business, medicine, technology, politics and so much more.

Since the inception of this blog we’ve seen the publications of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, The Now Effect and Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler.  It has been incredibly rewarding to share these years with you and I wanted to thank you all deeply for all your interactions, they have been a source of living wisdom for me and the other readers to benefit from.

Now, here are my Top 10 Favorite Posts from 2013:

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If You Can Name It, You Can Tame It

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Once in a while a moment occurs in your life that causes your jaw to drop open in awe. Recently, my wife, Stefanie Goldstein, PhD and I were at Denim N’ Dirt Ranch in Santa Clarita, California giving a workshop on mindfulness for equine-assisted psychotherapists. The premise of the workshop was to teach how mindfulness and self-compassion enhanced presence for the therapists and ultimately made them more effective at the work they did with their clients. But what happened was completely unexpected and I might even borrow a word from one of the participants, “magical.”

We were all sitting in a circle in the horse ring, here’s a picture of me talking and my impromptu horse assistant “Jazz” encouraging me.

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Helping Our Kids and Teens (and Us) Achieve Excellence in the New Year!

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

solesScience points to the statistic that our minds wander on average about 46.9% of the time from what we’re intending to pay attention to. This statistic is mainly from an adult population. Now, imagine if you grew up (and you might have) with all the digital distractions of the modern world and you can inflate that number. The alarming piece is that research shows that kids’ ability to resist distraction predicts how he or she will fare health-wise in adulthood. Dan Goleman, PhD author of the international best seller Emotional Intelligence and his new groundbreaking book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence shows us the science behind why the mental asset of attention may be the most important thing to focus on this year.

But while science and theory can peak our interest change never happens unless we put it into action. That’s what I’m glad Dan created an audio series that complements the book, giving us the practical techniques to increase focus of adults, teens and kids.

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The ESSENCE of Happiness for Parents and Teens (And Everyone Else Too)

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

woodsAt times I’m a sucker for acronyms and when I find one where the name fits what it is trying to spell out I grab onto it. A few months ago I heard an acronym that knocked my socks off and spoke to the underlying secrets of healthy living and happiness. Dan Siegel, MD is a renowned neuropsychiatrist and author of many books, the latest being Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain where this incredibly relevant acronym is spelled out. In this book he explores what we know about the adolescent brain and how to navigate these critical years for optimal health and happiness for teens and parents.

Dan will be in San Diego on Saturday, February 8th delivering a talk to the public at the Bridging the Hearts and Mind of Youth Conference.

The brilliant acronym is ESSENCE and we can all take a lesson from it.



What Makes Men (and Women) Happy? A 75 Year Study’s Revelation

By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

What makes men happy? In 1938 Harvard University began a research study that followed 268 male undergraduate students and began the longest-running longitudinal study of human development in history. Now, George Vaillant, MD, who headed the study for more than 30 years, published the study’s findings in his book Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study.

After 75 years and twenty million dollars, Vaillant sums up the findings of what makes men happy in five words:

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Books and CDs by Dr. Elisha Goldstein:
Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind
The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change The Rest of Your Life

A Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction Workbook Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety and Depression
 

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