Optimize Everyday

Stay Connected While Keeping Your Distance – Positivity Article

As a psychiatrist, I recognize how valuable everyday interactions are for mental health. We are deeply social creatures who need others as much as we need air to breathe. Studies show that frequent positive interactions with others is at the heart of our wellbeing. People who experience “felt love”—brief moments of connection in everyday life—are happier and healthier compared to those with lower felt love scores. Of course, these moments are best experienced in person. Chocolate tastes better when shared.…

Read More

Not For The Purell-Obsessed – Positive Prescription – Positivity Article

Why do some people get the flu while others get through the entire winter without ever needing a Kleenex? General health, genetics, and environment influence immunity but what else is involved? According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon, mood and emotional style play a role too. In one experiment I am grateful not to have been a part of, the researchers infected participants with the rhinovirus, the virus that causes the common cold. They were then placed in quarantine and closely…

Read More

RoboDoc: Is it Time to Fire Your Therapist? – Positivity Article

There are many things computers already do better than we do. In fact, a 2013 Oxford study forecast that machines might be able to perform half of all U.S jobs in the next 20 years. I never imagined my job could ever be “computerizable.” How on earth could a machine do a better job than I do in evaluating patients, providing therapy and recommending treatment? Well, in some cases, it can. By using cameras to follow subtle cues such as…

Read More

Here’s How to Make a New Year’s Resolution That Will Stick – Positivity Article

After a busy and perhaps (overly) indulgent holiday season, radical change might feel like the answer. Before you embark on a period of punishing deprivation, consider a former patient of mine who lost more than 10 pounds after going on a green-juice diet for the first two weeks of January. She was thrilled about the weight loss but ravenously hungry and in a terrible mood the entire time. A few weeks later, she had regained all the weight … and then some.…

Read More

The Paradox of the Perfectly Wrapped Present  – Positivity Article

Great news for those who are terrible at wrapping presents. A study found that badly wrapped gifts are better received than those that look like they belong under Martha Stewart’s Christmas tree. This is especially true for gifts that aren’t expected to knock the recipient’s socks off. An exquisitely wrapped present with crisp edges, expertly hidden tape, and a beautiful velvet ribbon tied in a perfect bow heightens expectations. If what’s inside the box underwhelms, the recipient’s high hopes will be…

Read More

An Antidote for Pathological People-Pleasing – Positivity Article

John Templeton famously said, “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.” Science backs this up. Nice people live longer, they are happier and they are less stressed. That said, being “too nice” isn’t healthy either. Those who never say no and who always give at their own expense run the risk of becoming doormats. Being too much of a people pleaser often leads to festering resentment in the pleaser and the perception that you’re insecure…

Read More

Can People Really Change? – Positive Prescription – Positivity Article

Early on, society labels us, we label ourselves, and we label others. A child is told he is a good or a bad listener. A high school student thinks of herself as good or bad at math. These labels become even more entrenched in adulthood. A coworker might be thought of as a “lazy human being.” You might decide you will never be a good cook or that you are not a morning person. These beliefs are all based on…

Read More

What You and Leonardo da Vinci Have in Common – Positivity Article

I have always thought of creativity as something you are either born with or not. Without disclosing too much, I didn’t win any awards in art class. But research tells a different story. A study found that imagining you are an eccentric poet can significantly boost divergent thinking, a key indicator of creative potential.   The people in the experiment who channeled their inner Lord Byron managed to generate significantly more original ideas when asked to generate creative uses of everyday…

Read More

Parents, Save Your Breath – Positive Prescription – Positivity Article

What’s the best way to motivate a student who lacks motivation?  I frequently encounter parents who ask me this question. Full disclosure, it’s a question I would like an answer for myself. Getting my children to do homework is no easy feat.  Punishment for not doing it is one strategy but realistically, how many times can you take away their phone? Rewards are another option but studies show that this is not necessarily a good idea. It might work for…

Read More

Plants, Positivity & Performance – Positive Prescription – Positivity Article

Luther Burbank (1849-1926), the famous botanist and creator of more than 800 new varieties of plants, once said: Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul. Surely receiving flowers is enough to brighten anyone’s day but as Burbank appreciated, they do so much more. A slew of new studies demonstrate the positive impact plants have on mental and physical health: Mood Boosting Studies show that indoor plants enhance mood and…

Read More