We Rise By Lifting Others Up and the Science of Happiness
Did you know giving is good for you?
A 2006 study by J. Moll at the National Institute for Health found that when people give to charities it lights up the brain in regions associated with pleasure, creating a “warm glow” effect.
We have known for quite a while that exercising is good for you and creates positive chemical changes in the brain. It’s encouraging to have hard data that altruistic behavior also has a similar effect. The old adage of helping others and you help yourself is scientific truth!
People can find happiness and STAY happy if they create the right mental playing field. It has become a goal of mine in my practice of helping others to achieve this state. Helping others can be one way to get there. We all have our gifts. If you use your talents to help others you would be surprised at all the benefits you get back.
Conversely being in a state of negativity begets more negativity
Neural pathways are created and then strengthened by repetition; emotionally the result is an inclination of our resting mental state.
Author of Psych Pedia, Steven Parton explains how these closer synapses result in a generally more pessimistic outlook: “Through repetition of thought, you’ve brought the pair of synapses that represent your [negative] proclivities closer and closer together, and when the moment arises for you to form a thought…the thought that wins is the one that has less distance to travel, the one that will create a bridge between synapses fastest.” Gloom soon outraces positivity.
Anger, in a way can become a sickness, a brooding, a drug of the mind. I encourage my clients to work at reducing their anger and negativity. The more you work at it, the more happy thoughts you have, naturally.
“Life is Painful, Suffering is Optional”
We all have our devastating challenges, death, divorce, separations, diseases, and addictions; being human we are all subjected to such events. However the mind is a powerful tool that we can use for own good.
There is joy in lifting others up. I encourage you to think deeply on this. When you are open to helping others I have seen time and time again, providently provided, the right tool for the right job suddenly at your disposal.
Currently I am on trips to serve in Africa and Virginia. Traveling is naturally tiring in some respects, but it fuels me up as I am encouraged seeing others experience growth.
So for today, I encourage you think about what you could do to help others. And then go ahead and do it.
Steve Brand, LCSW, ACSW, MSW/MPH, PC
Steven D. Brand – Psychotherapy Atlanta / Roswell GA
981 Canton Street
Building 12, Suite 215
Roswell, GA 30075
Understanding Narcissistic Rage
“Narcissistic rage is a reaction to narcissistic injury, which is a perceived threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or self-worth. Narcissistic injury (or narcissistic scar) is a phrase used by Sigmund Freud in the 1920s; The term narcissistic rage was coined by Heinz Kohut in 1972.” -Wikipedia
What triggers Narcissistic Rage?
Lack of admiration or respect. If a Narcissist feels disrespected, then his/her entire sense of being feels called into question. For example not being included in a discussion can set him or her off, or even a disapproving look. For many though the answer is not obvious and to spend hours of time investigating the cause is not worth it, it ends up being another trap of letting the Narcissist be the center of attention.
How Does the Rage Appear?
It can be an angry glare, it can be a raising of the voice, it can be a physical throwing of objects. It can also be subtle and passive aggressive. The response of anger in general is not wrong, it can be warranted, but with a narcissist it is usually one sided and completely out of proportion to what the situation calls for.
Once the rage passes, is it over?
No, anger can be continual like a low or medium boil. Oddly, the release of anger doesn’t make the narcissist feel relieved, in many cases, it becomes a fuel which perpetuates more outbursts.
Can Narcissistic rage be defused?
If you are dealing with a narcissist, the best thing you can do is to walk gently away and no longer give an audience to it. Detachment with love can be a coping mechanism for those who have to deal with narcissists. Engaging with the rage in most circumstances does not work. Expressing sadness or pleading doesn’t work either. In fact for a narcissist that is more fuel for them because the response of begging means more power has been won. The best way to deal with the situation is to be aware when it is starting to happen, accept that it is happening and that you can’t control it and finally take action for yourself, even if that action is just giving some distance for a time.
Steven D. Brand has over 25,000 clinical hours working with individuals and couples. He travels around the United States for conferences on recovery, marriage therapy, and counseling. His home office is in Historic Downtown Roswell.
You have a few hours left of 2015 to reflect upon the year you’ve had. If you are like most people, it has some good, some bad, some ups and some downs. Before 2016 has time to take off like a bullet, I suggest you take a minute to relax and think about how to make this upcoming year better.
‘Mindfulness’ was my word for 2015. For 2016, it’s ‘Affirmations’.
“You will always feel what you dwell on.”
In the book The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry he discusses how your emotional life dictates your day to day.
“Whatever you dwell upon becomes increasingly prominent in your own mind.”
It’s called the Law of Attention, according to Newberry. For example, the more attention you give your health, it gets better. The more attention you focus on your spouse, the closer your relationship will become.
Executive Coaching practice, I have seen progress when using the tool of mentoring because the focus is placed squarely on the person. It’s the Law of Attention. Coaching is not a simple recipe; it’s a whole mind approach, yes there is homework. Having someone to walk beside you and lift you up is invaluable. Yes, you can do this. It’s affirmation.
“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2
The link between depression and ruminating on negative thoughts is documented. That is why using affirmations is a way to heal and excel.
Here are a few positive affirmations for every day, find your favorites and tape them to your bathroom mirror.
Today I will be happy.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I have a purpose.
I have the power within to affect today for my good and others.
I am divinely guided and will make right decisions for my life and business.
I am successful and will continue to attract success to me.
I am courageous, and I will make good choices.
Today I will visualize my future goals and imagine myself achieving them.
I hope this has helped you formulate your resolutions. If you are ready to grow your business and make 2016 the best year ever, let’s have a conversation.
Steven D. Brand
Roswell Therapist and Executive Coach
Are you a business professional? Visit Steven’s new site dedicated to executive coaching for Atlanta business professionals.
You’ve heard the adage you are what you eat.
I say you are what you think.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a communication pathologist, and audiologist who has worked in the area of cognitive neuroscience since 1985 suggests that a positive mindset creates happiness. Your thoughts of today can change your future.
- Laughter is a Necessity Not a Luxury
When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? Did you know laughing floods the body of chemicals, boosts the immune system and almost instantly, reduces levels of stress hormones?
“A magnificent belly laugh can make cortisol drop by 39%, adrenalin by 70% and the “feel-good hormone,” endorphin, increase by 29%.
2. Recall Positive Memories Daily
Recalling experiences that were positive is a good way to condition the brain. Did you know the body actually releases the same endorphins as when the experience actually occurred? That is how powerful our brain is and shows what a strong link there is to our nervous system. Creating a positive mindset is good for you and it’s biblical.
‘A cheerful heart is good medicine.’ Proverbs 17:22
On the flipside of this, you can deduce what recalling negative memories over and over can do. Dr. Leaf research shows that today’s illnesses directly correlate to the flow our “thought life”.
3. Create New Positive Memories
Go outside! Go for a walk with your spouse. Meet a friend during lunch. Simply get out there. Don’t let the “negative nellies” run your show. You have choices in every situation.
Your brain is like a bank or ATM. What you deposit into your brain bank is all that you will be able to withdraw. Makes you re-think what you are watching or listening to!
Dr. Leaf believes, and I agree with her, that by changing your thought process to a more positive internal dialogue can create huge changes in your day to day life and future. She believes with careful mind detoxing, you can get your healthy brain cells back.
“We can not control outside circumstances, but we can control our reaction to it. Toxic thoughts like doubt, unbelief, fear, anger- changes our brain and it causes us to become something that will require an act of God for healing. That is where detoxing comes in.”
For today, I encourage you to choose joy and if you want to make some significant strides in this area, choose a friend or counselor to get on the path. It’s about daily choices. It’s about recognizing the old worn negative tracks and finding new ones.
Thanks for reading.
Steven D Brand, LSW is a therapist serving Roswell. He works with couples, individuals and also executives in coaching environments.
Which One Are You?
There are two main mindsets that we can cultivate internally.
If you are unsure as to where you stand, ask yourself these questions.
Suppose you are in traffic and a guy in front of your very obviously cuts you off.
How do you react?
- Do you yell and honk?
- Do you think to yourself, “Why is he so much more important than me?”
- Do you speed up and try to show him your frustration?
- Or do you take a deep breath and let it go.
- Maybe you tell yourself, “perhaps there is a true emergency”, “maybe that’s an old man and he doesn’t realize what he did?” or “maybe they are having a bad day, they got some bad news today”.
We can feel pressure, in our jobs, in our marriages. The daily ‘get it done’ can feel overwhelming to the point that we feel like we are walking cans of gasoline, a spark, any spark can set us to flame.
Why are our wicks so short?
And can we lengthen them?
Absolutely. But it is a purposeful mindset. And actually it doesn’t have to be that time consuming to change it.
Start Your Day Right!
Positive affirmations are extremely effective, even in short supply. In the morning, before you even throw back the duvet, say the following to yourself:
“I can handle today, I have the power within me. I am adequate enough. I can do all things that come at me today.”
Put it on a post it note, stick it to your bathroom mirror if have trouble remembering.
It may not seem like much but did you know the way you talk yourself determines your current mood? In fact self-talk good or bad is influential beyond today. There are long-term effects to both mindsets. Seriously! Try it a few days, change your inner syntax to a more positive encouraging tone and you will be amazed at how effective small changes can be.
If you struggle finding any good at all in the world to be encouraged about start with a gratitude list. You maybe surprised that writing in a daily journal, three things you are thankful for can yield big results. If you can read this post, you can be grateful for your education, an internet connection, a computer to read from and a bed to sleep on. A fun game to play with your family if you are struggling with attitudes is to play the Gratitude Alphabet game, go down the alphabet and choose 26 things, i.e. A is for the Apple I had at lunch, B is for the blanket on my bed that keeps me warm, C is for coffee that is hot and delicious in morning, D is for my dog that is always cheerful no matter how mad I am. Do you get the picture?
And mornings aren’t the only time to try this. Before you go to sleep at night try clearing your head with these statements:
“Today is done. I will let it go. I have done my best.
Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is going to be great. I know I will succeed.”
Norman Vincent Peale wrote a great book about positive thinking, which is chock full of mind expanding quotes, I highly recommend it if you would like to learn more about mindfulness.
“When you expect the best, you release a magnetic force in your mind which by a law of attraction tends to bring the best to you.” ― Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking
Abundance vs scarcity consciousness are two vastly different mindsets.
Like it or not, we all have a daily decision to make.
Which radio station will you tune into mentally today?
Why Is Success So Difficult?
Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having, except as a result of hard work. Booker T Washington
Success can feel elusive when we try to pin it down.
There are times when your heart speaks to you and asks, “Why are we not there yet?”
You are intelligent and have these great ideas, but why does success stump you?
Success is first and foremost not an overnight story like our 15 minutes of fame (or is it shorter these days) culture would have you believe. It takes dedication and focus. Yet, why is it so hard for us to stay on track for our dreams?
I believe success is first a mindset. A singular focus, which in the day to day can easily be tossed for the in your face decision making that has to done. Think of how many times in one day that an email, a text, a deadline, throws your whole day off track.
Here is why it is hard.
Putting your dreams in the forefront of your mind when life’s daily pressures physically feel excessive and overwhelming can be nearly impossible.
Accountability is the solution
Who is the encouraging voice in your life, helping you map the destination?
Who calls you to the carpet to put your helmet back on and get back out there?
Who reminds you of the end game when the heat is on?
Executive success coaching is a way to achieve your dreams. I meet hundreds of people every year and I am astonished at how many fantastic visions are out there. But it is as if there is a piece missing to the puzzle of success.
What is this missing piece? You have the brains, you have chutzpah, and you have the dedication but why does the ship never make it into port?
Focus on the process. Focus on the steps. Focus on the affirmation that you are making progress. Falling into a puddle and giving up is too easy in our comfortable world. We pat each other on the back and give ourselves a pass, again and again. But that little dream is still in there. It’s like a constant negative low lying fog, that keeps swirling around your feet but you can never put your finger on.
I encourage you, if you are ready to take put on your cleats and get your “A Game” on, I am ready to stand by your side and bring light to your path.
You may not have as many obstacles to advancement as you imagine. I have helped many executives get a razor sharp focus so that they can not only successfully manage the present but make huge strides to their goals. And that is a feeling like no other, when you are fully transparent working in the moment and actually feeling hope because of tangible progress. You get an elevated consciousness because you finally have the internal confirmation of what you have always felt deep down; that you are special and you have amazing dreams to fulfill.
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell
Steven D Brand travels around the globe assisting executives using success coaching in a variety of settings including offices and mountaintops. Steven D Brand offices are located in Historic Roswell, Georgia.
Smoking 25 Cigarettes a Day is as Harmful as Loneliness?
On the eve of my Mancation with some of friends of mine, a 7-day Timeless Trekker backpacking journey in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. I wanted to delve into how same sex friendships enhance mental and physical health. I believe that these friendships take “pressure” off the marriage to be “everything” because friends are meeting some of the social, psychological and spiritual needs.
Humans have been naturally social for thousands of years. Yet modern life has reduced the level of interaction between male friends in quality and quantity.
In the UK, according to a recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation, “10% of people often feel lonely, a third have a close friend or relative who they think is very lonely, and half think that people are getting lonelier in general.”
Massachusetts professors Olds and Schwartz in their writing, The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century explains there is a current focus among adult men to build stronger marriages at the expense of other social connections. They point to a current tendency among adults to build stronger, more intimate marriages at the expense of almost all other social connections, (and) they observed a deep sense of loneliness. “Almost every father we spoke with explained that he had lost contact with most of his male friends,” they write. And lest you believe family is company enough, the 2005 Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging showed that family relationships have almost no impact on longevity. Friendships, by contrast, boosted life span as much as 22 percent.
Good friends are good for your health!
In 1988 a review of five studies showed that loneliness can be linked to an earlier death, “…people with fewer social relationships die earlier on average than those with more social relationships”
Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, in a study sponsored by Guinness, learned that to maintain a healthy level of interaction, men should hang out with other men, once or twice a week.
The report says that men, who maintain social groups are healthier, recover from illness more quickly and tend to be more generous. Despite the findings, two out of five men claim they manage to meet their friends only once a week and a further third struggle to catch up that frequently. Why is this?
Worldwide, the loneliest men are white American men. Is it because male friends are more acceptable in the other countries? Have we taken on the “that’s not manly to go hang out one on one with a guy friend”.
How many friends do you need?
About 4 or 5 male friends is a good start.
Dunbar explained, “Men, on average, spend just less than half of their social time with an inner circle of four to five close mates – and research suggests that this is linked directly to the banter that such a group inspires and its benefits.
Through empirical studies, it has been proven that laughter is much less likely to occur if a social circle becomes bigger than five – and, because of laughter’s ability to produce the endorphin surges that give a sense of well-being, men may be subconsciously drawn towards ‘hanging out’ in social circles of this size.”
And meeting often is a good way to ensure friendships. Once or twice a week is what Dunbar suggests, of course over drinks was probably Guinness’ hope. But think about it, how can you today take a step toward creating and maintaining guy friends.
Theme trips are one of them. Mancations or wilderness camping trips are great ways to connect with guy friends. Or goals, like a marathon that you can work out together and share some time.
Trust me it takes the pressure off the spouse to meet all your needs. Now go show this to your wife why its important for you to go camping!
In the last couple of months we have worked around a common theme of being successful on the workplace. In order to achieve this goal of being successful in the workplace, we often have to overcome various obstacles. We have discussed working with toxic employees and working in an unsuitable work environment, but know I want to discuss how to stay mindful in the workplace. Mindfulness has been a buzzword as of late, and for good reason. We live in a society where our attention is being divided on multiple fronts simultaneously. The brain has almost no time to relax, recharge, and focus. This overload of brain stimulation can often times be at its highest point in the workplace. This can be a problem if you are trying to be productive, efficient, and satisfied while you work. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment and not being distracted by thinking of the future, dwelling on the past, or letting all of your daily activities run your life and leave you just trying to catch up. I want to give you five easy tips for staying mindful at your workplace. These tips are not add-ons to your already packed day but rather, a way of taking purposeful pauses to experience your present moment throughout the day. This will help you relax, recharge, stay focus, and help you to be satisfied with your work, as you become the best version of yourself that you can be.
1) Start your own day rather than letting your day start you. Begin every day by noticing your sensations of breath for a few breaths before hopping out of bed in the morning. Just take a few deep breaths and focus on all the sensations throughout your body.
2) Make the most of your transition time. When you are driving to and from work choose a couple of days where you don’t listen to the radio or talk on the phone. When you get to work, give yourself a few moments to sit in the car and notice every breath.
3) Nourishment. Be mindful as you eat your lunch. Pay close attention to the colors, the texture, the taste, and the smells of your food.
4) Simply Walk. When you are walking between meetings or from one hall to the other don’t text or email. Feel your feet on the floor, the air on your skin, and the possibility of greeting a coworker rather than being absent minded or walking in to them as you text. Also, if it is possible try to take a couple 2-5 minute breaks to walk throughout your day.
5) Sit at your desk. While you wait for your computer to turn on or while you are waiting for the coffee to brew, just sit at your desk and notice all the sensations in your body as you simply sit and wait.
Try at least one of these each day and build from there. What do you notice? What other times during your day can you practice mindfulness? These are times of practicing mindfulness will help during “game time”, and will come naturally when life gets truly hectic!
In my previous post I discussed how to work well with toxic co-workers. What if you find your work place to be toxic? Not too long ago large companies like Google started a trend that has been transforming office culture around the country. Many offices have adopted an “open-office” concept. The benefit of having an open-office is that it is cheap, collaborative, and supposedly encourages more productivity. The only problem is open-offices are not for everyone. In fact, a lot of employees can’t stand it! For some people that are more introverted an open office can be an overwhelming work environment. Open-offices can make employees feel exposed, distracted, and under pressure. The question is “How can I make the most of a work environment that I don’t feel comfortable in?” I have some helpful tips for those of you who find yourself struggling to thrive in a less than ideal work place.
Make Your Space Feel A Little More Like Home
Customize your workspace and have fun with it. You can be as creative as you want, this is where you have to work everyday after all. Set up some family photos, a serene landscape, or paraphernalia of your favorite sports team. Customize the things you have to look at everyday such as the cover of your notebook, desktop, or mouse pad. This helps us feel like we have our own little territory and that helps us relax.
Turn Off The Music
In an attempt to concentrate and drown out all the noise around us many people pop in some ear buds and crank up the music. However, listening to music can be very distracting. Instead of music try playing something more neutral such as nature sounds or soothing ambient sounds. White noise in the background will help you concentrate better, help you get more work done, and put you in a better mood. It will also communicate a more positive energy to coworkers.
Even the smallest adjustments to your workspace can make a significant difference in how you feel. Adding plants and natural wooden accessories to your space can help you feel more relaxed. Unpainted wood and leafy green plants can help us feel at piece even in the midst of a chaotic work environment.
The open-office can make some people feel exposed and like they have less control. If it is possible, have a little control over your work experience by rearranging your space so that your back is not exposed to others. We have a primitive part of our brain that does not like the feeling of exposure and having activity going on behind us. Of course there is no real threat in your office but exposure can create a mood of hostility, insecurity, and pressure for some people.
The supposed “collaborative” work environment in an open-office can be great for some. For others it can be a real struggle and can produce an attitude of contempt towards coworkers. You should always maintain a conscious awareness of others before jumping to conclusions about them. What may be “crossing personal boundaries” for you might be “being friendly” to another. We all come from a variety of backgrounds, and different cultures have different distances for talking to each other. Considering others and getting to know them will go a long way.
If you supervise a difficult or toxic person, you know it holds a particular set of challenges. You are probably trying to walk the line between firmness and friendliness in your management and a challenging personality can easily knock your style off-kilter. Last month, we discussed suggestions for how to deal with a grumpy or negative coworker, this month, here are my suggestions for effective management styles for the dreaded office grouch.
- Pay Attention – Many times a person may act out because they feel helpless, bored or unheard. Listen to clues into how the person thinks, what problems he or she faces, and whether or not there is anything you can do about it. You may be able to adjust their responsibilities to keep them engaged and interested. Or they may just need someone to care enough to hear what they have to say.
- Be Firm – This means giving specific, constructive feedback when you see a performance or interpersonal problem that is affecting your company. Do not avoid conflict! Check out my blog from last year about how to effectively handle a confrontation.
- Set Consequences– Be clear about ramifications for destructive behavior and follow through. Avoid arbitrary punishments and inconsistent enforcement. Frame these conversations in a positive light, encouraging the employee to live up to the potential you see in them or they may miss out on certain privileges.
- Avoid Gossip – Talking to a fellow employee or subordinate about the difficult person will only create more strife in your office environment. Just. Don’t.
- Take Notes – Keep track of incidents and behaviors in your documentation. This will help you to be specific when you confront an employee. The notes will also be invaluable if you ever have the unfortunate task of letting a toxic employee go.