Subtle Bullying

Bullying is not reserved to big loud obvious people.  Even quiet voices can intimidate.

Being left out is a subtle form of bullying that says you are not like us and until you are you will not be included.  When people are voicing disappointment, they are gaining the right to vote on our behavior — if we listen.  It’s difficult to not be affected because the human condition is to do what it takes to get along. One solution is to reclaim the right to vote on how you feel about the way people talk to you.  Repeated negative comments about age, appearance, weight or personal preferences can be as painful as a punch in the gut.  When someone tries to have your way, vote no.

Managing Anxiety

Social media and traditional media have the effect of a direct pipeline to the brain.

In the 1940s, newspapers delivered the news once a day morning or evening.  Photojournalism was reserved for the movie theater well after the events happened.  In the TV age of the 1960s footage of the Vietnam war was flown back to the U.S. in time for the evening news.  Around 2000 you could use a computer to search for news.  Now news that is often anxiety producing is delivered constantly on digital devices.  To manage anxiety, it now means managing the flow of necessary news.  The technology is 24/7 but you schedule the delivery that is least stressful.

Acting Confident

Confidence grows when things are going well and wanes when adversity strikes.

There is no one thought that can deliver increased confidence but there is one sure way to rehearse it.  Actions speak louder than words.

There is research that shows those who confidently walk into a speech or presentation wind up acting more confidently. Believing you can handle a crisis helps assure that you will (“I have handled problems like this before and I will do it again.”)  All the motivational books, videos and speeches in the world are not as effective as acting confident because if you do, you will unlock the secret.  Or as Shakespeare says “assume a virtue if you have it not.”

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Seizing Control

Starting now, no one is allowed to say hurtful or critical things directly into your subconscious.  It will just repeat on a continuous loop of pain.

No one gets to allow their anxiety to rub off on you.  This is within your power to control and we all have plenty of anxiety of our own to deal with.

No one is allowed to hurt your feelings so keep in mind that veiled insults are often compliments turned around by insecure people.

Think of your mind as a recording device – what kind of things do you want repeating in your head?

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Really Good Ideas to Reduce Screen Time

Tristan Harris used to work for Google as a code writer where he soon discovered that apps and websites existed for the sole purpose of serving ads – not mental health or less anxiety.

Now Harris has become an advocate for taking control of our digital devices without giving up the more useful aspects.

  1. Turn off all notifications except from real live people
  2. Using grayscale instead of the more inviting color.
  3. Limit your first screen of apps to just tools–the apps you use for quick in-and-out tasks like Maps, Camera, Calendar, Notes, or Lyft. Move the rest of your apps, especially mindless choices off the first page and into folders.
  4. Charge your device outside of your bedroom.
  5. Remove social media from your phone – it is the attention black hole.

For more about these and other ways to take control of your digital life, click here.

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Courage to Decide

When we make a decision, we automatically own it but the fear of making a mistake is always lurking in our minds.

Letting someone else decide is safer, but not always better.  Guessing turns decision making into a bet, we either win or lose.  Not doing anything seems safe, but it is the most dangerous thing to do when something important needs to be considered.

Back to the Ted Williams Principle – baseball’s most prolific hitter in a single season who got on base over 40% of the time.  It got down to the last day of the season – a doubleheader – in which Williams’ manager offered to let him sit on the bench for one or both games to assure that he would enter the record books.  Williams chose to play – both games.  He finished the season batting .406.

Whether he maintained his .400 average or lost it, Ted Williams reminds us it is better to act like a winner than avoid making a decision.  It turned out to be the first of his six eventual batting titles.

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Think of Happiness as a Puzzle

A puzzle cannot be put together with any one piece.  It takes many.

Happiness does not occur from any one thing.

With a puzzle, time and perspective are required to know where the next piece fits in.

Time is the friend of happiness because it allows perspective to see what we value and  where things fit in to our lives.

In both puzzling and life, it is the sum of the pieces that produces the final result.

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Growing Stronger

There is only one way to get stronger and that is to endure adversity.

Hard times make for happy outcomes.  Not quitting when things are going against you means it’s only a matter of time before you develop mental muscle.  Fighting against all odds improves the odds that you will outlast adversity.  No one looks for adversity but it is a gift wrapped in a suspicious package.  Strength doesn’t come from things going your way.  It comes from being introduced to yourself and you say hello to determination.

Avoiding Negativity

When we meet a person, we often say “how are you doing” with responses being anything from true to false or sarcastic (“if I was any better, I’d be you).

You don’t start a conversation with “I almost died” or “I’ve been sick for a week” and if someone else does, a word of positivity is better than dragging out the full story.  To avoid negative situations, take the lead with positivity.  “I’m happy to see you”.  “Glad to be here”.  Something sincere and positive.  No one wants to be around people who drag them down even if they don’t know any other way.  Negativity is a disease.  Take precautions against it.  Treat it with a healthy dose of positivity.

Winning Cooperation

The more we practice the ability to find common ground, the more we gain the cooperation of other.

My NYU students want to use their phones during class.  I want them to give me their undivided attention for almost 2 hours.  What to do?  Set the ground rules together so we both win.  Phones off in class.  Students may get up and go into the hall with the professor’s complete understanding if they need to check or send a text message.  The disruptions are minor.  The more we get closer together, the stronger we become.