15 Hints for Effective Communication

The manner in which we communicate with others has a major impact on the quality of our relationships. Yet not many of us were given a class in effective communication during our formal education, leaving us to wing it and learn by trial and error.
Approaching someone to make a request can be scary. There’s no guarantee that we’ll get what we desire, and often we’re a bit concerned about how our relationship will be impacted by the conversation. Getting your point across in a kind and clear manner, when a multitude of emotions are churning inside of you, is no easy task.

In addition, we’d like to maintain our self-respect, which is easier said than done if we’re in a bit of a tizzy, haven’t thought the conversation through, and are intimidated by the other person. 


Tips For Developing New Habits

There's no way around it -- habits are often difficult to alter, especially at the outset. Some habits are more deeply engrained than others, but adopting a new routine is bound to require some extra energy at first, simply because you need to get off auto-pilot and pay more attention to what you’re doing. Our brains naturally prefer “the usual routine” (until we’re bored out of our minds), due to the same ol’ same ol’ requiring less energy, which we can then apply to other matters.

The bottom line is that you need personal and significant motivation in order to make a change and to stick with it for the long haul. So, take a moment to answer these questions, to clarify for yourself how the proposed change may alter your life. Write down some examples for each of your answers.


6 Exercises to Alleviate Depression

Is it possible to be “too” optimistic? Certainly.

Between the two poles of optimism and pessimism there exists a continuum. On one end are the optimists who border on delusion and refuse to face reality. The quote “Denial is not a river in Egypt” comes to mind.

On the other end of the spectrum lie the morbid pessimists, who gripe about anything and everything. It would be fairly safe to say that neither extreme is constructive. 


Key Differences Between Optimists and Pessimists

“If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change some past or future event, then you are residing on another planet with a different reality system.” (William James)

In his book Learned Optimism, Dr. Martin Seligman explains, "The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad luck, or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder."


How Fear Can Be Our Friend

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt
Stress has been getting a bad name.

Almost daily, we read about another research study demonstrating the destructive effects of stress on our bodies and minds. So, the common response is to try and eliminate any inkling of fear. 


Social Anxiety and On-line Communication: Pros and Cons

If you suffer from social anxiety, is chatting with people on-line or posting a status update on Facebook preferable to face-to-face interaction?
Two recent research studies indicate that it’s a mixed bag.

Social anxiety is characterized by fears of being judged by others in an unfavorable light. Such concerns can become debilitating and lead someone to shun most or all social interactions. A person can consequently become caught in a catch-22, in which they deny themselves the chance to receive positive feedback from others, often increasing their sense of inadequacy.


A Gut Feeling: Probiotics and Changes in Brain Activity

Give yogurt some more brownie points.
It’s been known for some time that one’s gastrointestinal tract functions in essence as one’s “second brain”, lined with hundreds of millions of neurons. In fact, the gut manufactures more dopamine and serotonin, important neurotransmitters that powerfully influence mood and motivation, than does the “head” brain.

The accepted view has been that due to the blood-brain barrier, hormones produced in one’s g-i tract can’t travel to the brain. Nevertheless, the gut can generate nerve signals that can communicate with the brain and thereby influence mood.


Lessons From The Happiest Man on Earth

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have dubbed the French-Tibetan monk and molecular geneticist Matthieu Ricard “the happiest man in the world”.

Over the past decade or so, at the prompting of the Dalai Lama and prominent neuroscientists in the field of neuroplasticity, Ricard has joined numerous other advanced meditation practitioners in research on the effect of mind-training and meditation on the brain. In addition, “novice” meditators have participated in studies requiring the relatively modest time commitment of 30 minutes meditation a day for three months.