The positive power of negative thinking

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Martin Seligman was weeding the garden with his five-year old-daughter Nikki. It was 1999, and he had recently been elected as president of the American Psychological Association (the APA) — the largest and most prestigious organization of psychologists in the United States. Nikki was singing and dancing while throwing weeds up in the air. Seligman, on the other hand, was grumpy and becoming increasingly annoyed. He yelled. And his daughter walked off, upset.

Returning a few minutes later, she had this to say: “Daddy, do you remember before my fifth birthday? From the time I was three to the time…

We burn the same number of calories regardless of lifestyle

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We all know a healthy lifestyle is vital to our well-being. And yet, most of us, and much of the fitness industry, have got it wrong when it comes to losing weight by burning more calories.

Herman Pontzer, professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health at Duke University, North Carolina, has spent years studying and measuring how our modern, relatively sedentary lifestyle compares with that of our ancestors. And the results are somewhat startling.

Talking to the BBC, Pontzer said that the surprise is “we burn the same number of calories every day regardless of lifestyle.” …

How total immersion in a digital world can help anxiety

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Fear of public speaking is real and, for most of us, limiting. Whether it’s that sense of dread far in advance of the presentation or the rising feelings of panic as we wait for our turn to stand and talk, it can be gut-wrenching.

Standing in front of people can, at minimum, be uncomfortable but also causes panic attacks and depression. Most of us have experienced a racing heart, sweating, wanting to run away, or avoiding such requests to talk in the first place.

If left unchecked, public speaking anxiety can even affect educational performance and increase the chance of…

3 Steps to reframing stress

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While stress may never be your friend, it needn’t be your enemy.

If managed, stress is an opportunity for growth, development, and learning. Yet, for this to happen, we need to change our perception of what pressure is and what it means to us.

How does stress affect us?

Fear and anxiety are major causes of stress and result in a combination of responses, including:

Physical: clammy hands and heart palpitation.
Cognitive: decreased rational thinking and reduced memory performance.
Behavioural: avoidance of situations, nervous pacing, fidgeting.

Yet, stress can be enhancing when its creative power is harnessed and its adverse effects minimized.

“ A sense…

Why vulnerability is your greatest strength

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Soon after the pandemic hit, I was told my job was being cut.

Rather than being upset, angry even, I felt a wave of relief. After all, I was no longer a good fit for where I worked. Over the last eight years, my employer and I had both moved on, just not in the same direction.

But I felt vulnerable.

Fearing vulnerability

One of the things we fear most is vulnerability.

Yet, perhaps surprisingly, as vulnerability expert Brené Brown writes in Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, vulnerability is the…

Naikan and the Japanese art of self-reflection

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As I write these words, I am conscious of how I will answer three questions.

After all, I am taking your time as a reader. I just hope I am giving something tangible back and restoring balance.

Three questions

Translated, the Japanese word Naikan means looking inside. Born out of the austere practice of self-examination known as mishirabe, Ishin Yoshimoto wished to provide a more accessible path to compassion and awareness.

And that’s what I’m asking myself. How much am I contributing to the world as I write, and how much am I removing?

In Naikan: Gratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art…

Jeremy Sutton, PhD

Psychologist in Human Performance. Writing about positive psychology and the science of mind to better understand human potential. Owner

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