ASMR Might Help With Your Depression or Anxiety, and It Can Probably Help You Sleep

ASMR Might Help With Your Depression or Anxiety, and It Can Probably Help You Sleep #what is ASMR #ASMR for depression #ASMR for sleep #best ASMR

I’ve written some in the past about my recovery from serious depression to excellent mental health. One thing that helped me a lot was discovering ASMR videos.

What is ASMR? The term is an acronym for a recently coined phrase, “autonomous sensory meridian response.” It describes a pleasant sensation of tingling in the scalp that often moves down the neck and the spine. (Personally, I sometimes experience it as the classic “brain tingles,” but most often as tingling warmth in my chest that sometimes travels all the way down to my toes.)

Auditory stimuli such as soft voices or whispers, tapping, or crinkling can trigger it, along with many other sounds. So can any situation that suggests close personal attention. Some visual cues and some tactile sensations, such as light touches or hair brushing, can also stimulate ASMR.

These triggers are very personal. I find videos in which an ASMR artist shines a beam of light at me super irritating, and to me, open-mouth gum chewing is revolting. Some people like those things, though.

 

 

It seems like some people experience ASMR, and some don’t. Frustratingly, there’s been almost no scientific study of the phenomenon. Is it increasing levels of a neurotransmitter, such as oxytocin or dopamine? Is it triggering a primal, latent response from infancy and early childhood that helps babies and children bond to their parents? (This is my own guess, and I have zero proof.)

I discovered ASMR videos on youtube a few years ago, and I soon figured out that it was a fast and powerful antidote to depression. I would experience depression as a physical feeling, and ASMR would flood it out. The two sensations weren’t compatible, and ASMR won. I’m not especially prone to anxiety, but I’ve heard people say it helps a lot with that, too. ASMR also helps me and millions of people get to sleep. The great thing about ASMR, of course, is that it doesn’t have side effects like many drugs do.

I’m not sure how ASMR videos seem to someone who doesn’t experience the physiological response. They might seem boring, weird, or even creepy. On the other hand, they might still work for relaxing and falling asleep.

If you’ve never given it a try before and you want to, here are a bunch of ASMR videos that I like! For all of these, you won’t really get the effect without headphones.

 

This first one is from Maria, probably the most popular ASMR artist on youtube, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the most watched ASMR video of all time.

 

This one was made way back in 2011! It’s one of the first ones I ever watched. Only nine minutes long, and very soothing.

 

I’ve never had an actual reiki session, but I love what Joanne’s done here. This one is great for putting me to sleep.

 

This is an maginative one with high production values and a high-tech feel. It’s a collaboration between Brainwave Hub and the very popular Olivia. This may sound weird, but Olivia has my favorite hand movements of any ASMR artists I’ve seen.

 

This one is part of a whole series based on taking a cruise.

 

Chelsea is one of my very favorites. She uses a lot of real whispering, and she does a lot of girly role plays (shoes, makeup, spa, jewelry), which I really like.

 

Dmitri has made about ten thousand videos. While I was getting the link for this one, he was in the middle of doing a Reddit AMA! I didn’t check it out because I was in the middle of blogging, but I hope it went well.

 

I usually use ASMR before bed, but this one is actually nice for the morning, since it’s about coffee.

 

Fred’s done several videos about AMSR immunity. Basically, some people who watch ASMR videos all the time lose the tingle sensation temporarily, and he’s trying to address that. This video has a bunch of triggers, so you might figure out what, if anything, works for you.

 

Ally is a real pro with imaginative role plays, like this memory erasure one inspired by the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

 

Emma just seems like the nicest person in the world.

 

 

Had you heard of ASMR before? Are you familiar with the “brain tingles” sensation? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments! And if you’re an ASMR aficionado, tell us about your favorite ASMR artists. Thanks for reading, and have a relaxing day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why So Many People Like the “Chosen One” Story

Why So Many People Like the "Chosen One" Story #fiction tropes #finding your life's purpose

The “Chosen One” trope refers to a plot in a novel, a movie, or a TV show in which some regular person finds out that s/he, and only s/he, can save the world or carry out some other grand task. Whether their role was foretold by ancient prophecy, determined by their bloodline, or what have you, s/he is destined to be the hero.

Several fantasy and science fiction editors in the past several years have specifically said that they do not want books with “Chosen One” narratives.

(An aside here: whenever editors walk away from beloved tropes, or even beloved genres such as “sword and sorcery fantasy,” I think it opens up a great opportunity for self-published authors.)

 

 

The “Chosen One” storyline goes way back. It’s all over in the Bible. “Hey Mary, guess what? You’re going to have the most important baby ever!” “Hey friend, guess who’s the new prophet? That’s right, it’s you.” King Arthur is the only one who pull the sword from the stone, because he’s destined to rule. Neo in The Matrix and Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer are other examples of the trope.

If you hate the storyline because it’s overdone, that’s totally understandable. Personally, I’m open to most plot lines, assuming they’re handled in a compelling way.

Whether you love the Chosen One trope or you can’t stand it, though, it’s been around and been popular for centuries. Stories don’t take hold of civilizations like that for no reason. So why have people liked it so much?

The easy and obvious answer is that it’s wish fulfillment. People feel ordinary and obscure, and they like to imagine a situation in which they have talents or intrinsic value that was overlooked before.

Wish fulfillment stories serve some good purposes. They can remind us of our desires and goals, and they can give us hope when we’re experiencing a shortage. But I think stories about Chosen Ones appeal to people for another reason as well.

They’re true.

Every person, no matter how ordinary, has a unique blend of talents and life experiences that nobody else has. There’s work they could do, art they could make, or ways they could help others that is perfectly suited for the individual they are. There’s no one, or okay, at least not very many people, that could do it as well as they could.

The fantasy of the Chosen One is really the fantasy of finding one’s individual purpose.

This is why I encourage people to focus on their strengths. If you only focus on improving your weaknesses, you’ll get better at things you’re bad at, though you’ll probably never be fantastic at them. But if you focus on your strengths, you’ll discover more and more what you were really meant to do.

As you go through this week, I hope you’ll think a lot about your talents and positive qualities — the ones you often take for granted. Whether it’s patience, a vivid imagination, a fascination with history, or the ability to perfectly accessorize, they may all be a part of your destiny.

 

Why So Many People Like the "Chosen One" Story #fiction tropes #finding your life's purpose

 

Do you have thoughts about the “chosen one” trope in stories, or about your real-life superpowers and your destiny? Please share them in the comments! Thanks so much for reading, and have a great week!

 

 

Turning It Up to 11: Breaking My Social Media Addiction in 2017

Turning It Up to 11: Breaking My Social Media Addiction #internet addiction #Facebook addiction

I started 2017 with 10 Resolutions. As of now — February 10 — 9 of them are on track, and I need to get going with the Spanish lessons.

I also started 2017 with a determination to make 2017 my Best Year Ever. And I really believe it can be… but one thing has got to change. I’ve got to break my social media addiction.

I am a gregarious person on social media. I participate in dozens of secret Facebook groups. I chat on Twitter. I encourage people, get into long philosophical discussions, and join in on long strings of jokes or idle chatter.

I can do it for hours a day. But those are hours a day that I need for other stuff. I also think it’s bad for my concentration when I’m working, reading, or writing.

I’ve known for years that it’s a problem. (Sheesh, breaking my internet addiction is on my list of 101 Life Goals. And by the way, no, I’m not going to break my addiction to list-making, ever.)

 

 

I’ve gone through periods where my social media addiction was less of a problem, and also periods of downright denial. From what I’ve heard, those experiences are common with lots of addictions.

Addictions always have their rewards, and that’s especially true of this one. I love feeling connected to people. I learn a lot from them. And honestly, I feel gratified when my comments are liked, responded to in a positive way, or retweeted. It’s probably a little dopamine rush for my brain, reinforcing the habit.

I really believe that breaking my social media addiction is the key to reaching my other goals and to making 2017 my Best Year Yet.

So how am I going to do it? This isn’t a case where I tell Facebook I’m taking a long break. (I’ve tried that before, and I keep peeking anyway.)

I’m going to keep track of my time on social media using the Eternity app. (Sometimes I use the Eternity app to track how much time I spend on everything, which I’m going to be doing for the rest of the month. It gives you pretty pie charts showing how your day was spent, and it’s enlightening, to say the least. This sample chart is from the app developer.)

 

Turning It Up to 11: Breaking My Social Media Addiction

 

I’m going to limit my social media time to 30 minutes a day. To some people, that might sound like a lot. To me, it’s nothing. But I think it will still be enough time to at least stay caught up with the hundreds of people I like and care about.

(Blogging doesn’t count toward that 30 minutes a day. I want to write 2 blog posts a week, and blogging is a concentrated effort, not a constant distraction taking over my life.)

So that’s my 11th resolution, the one that I think will make a profound difference in my life and possibly even in my brain chemistry.

Is it easy for you not to overdose on social media? Or does it wind up being a time suck for you, too? Have you had the experience of cutting back? Let me know in the comments! And thanks for spending some of your precious time reading my blog!

How to Be Chill and Positive in Facebook Groups and Other Online Communities

Also I can be introverted “in real life,” online, I’m a social butterfly. I’ve been involved in many online communities over the years, and I’m in bunches of secret and private Facebook groups now. It’s a great way to connect to people in different corners of the world and people whose lives are very different than mine, as well as people who share my weird interests and passions. For this reason, I’ve seen a lot of drama, I’ve made bunches of mistakes, and I’ve learned from at least some of them. Here’s some of my advice!

 

1. When you first join a group, take time to understand the rules — written and unwritten.

Every online community develops its own traditions, in-jokes, and taboos over time. Take a week or two to comment on other people’s posts and get a feel for the group. That will help you avoid making a faux pas.

 

2. If you don’t like a post, ignoring it is usually the best policy.

Of course, there are exceptions. For the most part, though, railing against someone’s negative or offensive message just gives their message more importance. You see this play out in politics and other social spheres all the time.

In the case of Facebook groups, when you comment to say “I disagree!” or “How dare you?”, you are literally ensuring that the post gets bumped up and read by everyone. Comment on positive posts instead, so the negative one sinks to the bottom of the page.

 

 

 

3. Don’t get involved in every fight.

Every community has fights. You’re not required to weigh in on everything, and it’s often not worth it. Only get involved if it’s of vital importance to you.

In the middle of writing this post, something terrible went down in one of my online groups. I did feel like I had to speak up. But fighting on the internet often wouldn’t make me happy or help the communities. Even if someone takes issue with a post of mine, I avoid back-and-forth fighting most of the time. It’s easy to say, “Well, we just disagree on this one, and that’s okay.”

 

4. Be clear about when you’re being sarcastic or ironic.

Here’s an example of what can happen. Let’s say it’s a wedding planning group, and Amanda says, “I want royal blue and gold for my colors, but my mother thinks it’s tacky. Help!” Kayla says jokingly, “Oh my God, Amanda, royal blue and gold? What are you thinking?! Those are colors for losers! Hahaha.”

Now Kayla thinks she’s showing support. She thinks it’s obvious that she’s kidding. After all, how could anyone object to royal blue and gold?

Amanda reads the comment and thinks Kayla is trashing her wedding theme. She expresses her hurt in a reply. And since Kayla is at her job and not checking in, Amanda goes a whole day feeling terrible, and when Kayla realizes what’s happened, she feels terrible, too.

We don’t like writing “/sarcasm” or “(KIDDING! I agree with you!)” after a comment, because it does kill the joke a little. It’s more important to look out for other people’s feelings than to be hilarious, though. In a group where everyone knows each other very well, sometimes it’s not necessary, but usually, it is.

 

5. Don’t try to dictate what people talk about in general.

I will never understand why this happens, and it happens all the time. Someone writes a post to say, “You guys need to stop posting about politics, this is a knitting group!” — even though it’s been decided that the knitting group can talk about every topic under the sun. Or someone says, “I wish everyone would stop talking about the intimate details of their sex lives, because I think it’s gross.”

It’s absurd to try to control what a group of people, especially those you don’t know well or at all, will discuss. It will never work. “You guys suck” isn’t a particularly fun conversational topic, either. The best way to control the content of the group is to post things that interest you.

If people often say things that offend you or hurt your feelings, you can bring that up if you think it’s just thoughtless. It’s like this: “Hey, I get that you all like to make fun of the romance genre in this writing group, but it’s my genre, so do you think we could ease up on talking about that?” (This is a fictional example, pun intended. This hasn’t happened to me in a writing group.) But even if people are aware that they’re making you uncomfortable, they might not care, and there’s nothing you can do about that.

If no one else is interested in things you’re interested in, that’s not their fault, and if people repeatedly say things that upset or offend you, you’re not going to change them. You’re just in the wrong group. It happens! Go find one that suits you better. There are millions of them out there. Which brings me to my last thing…

 

6. Don’t flounce.

Quietly leaving a group is fine. I’ve done it a few times. Under some circumstances, leaving a group with a non-heated post of explanation is fine, too.

A flounce is when someone posts a self-righteous screed about how the group has failed to meet their expectations, how they’re all terrible, and so on. Why do people do this? I think in part it’s just venting anger, which is unlikely to make them really feel better.

Secretly, I think a person who flounces hopes that the group will say, “You know… they’re right! We need to change!” and beg him or her to stay. This never happens.

 

Do you have advice about Facebook groups or online communities, or would you just like to share some of your experiences? Let us know in the comments section! Thanks so much for reading!

 

Every Day Is New Year’s Day

Every Day is New Year's Day #how to stick to New Year's resolutions #motivational quotes #inspirational quotes #encouragement

When I was in high school, high school kids could go to dance clubs. You just got a stamp on your hand that told the bartender not to give you alcohol. Many nights, after I finished my evening shift at the library, my friends and I went to a place called Confetti’s. Every night of the year, they did a countdown at midnight and confetti came down while everyone yelled, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

I’ve written before about how much I love New Year’s and making resolutions. At New Year’s I make plans to make it the Best Year Ever.

 

 

 

I’m like most people. It’s mid-January, and not all of my resolutions are working out perfectly… yet. Icy weather ruined this month’s travel plans and hindered us from going out this past weekend. I’m tempted to to tell myself, “Bryn, you’ve gained two pounds in the past two weeks, and you’re spending way too much time on Facebook — just like every other year. You’re not changing.”

But I don’t do that, because I know that transformation takes time. When I plant seeds in the spring, for instance, I don’t go out the very next day, notice the absence of zinnia and sunflower blooms, and say, “This garden sucks!”

We rarely make progress at a perfectly steady pace toward anything. Setbacks are normal — big ones, small ones. It’s when I change my attitude toward setbacks, regarding them as minor obstacles I will overcome rather than final pronouncements of my character or my fate, that real change happens.

Every day is a fresh start. One of the cards from my Hallmark collection is about this:

 

Every Day is New Year's Day #how to stick to New Year's resolutions #motivational quotes #inspirational quotes #encouragement

 

Every single day is our chance to act like that ideal self we want to be. Regardless of what’s happening in the news — or even in our own lives, barring great tragedy — we can be that person, whoever s/he is. Diligent. Creative. Healthy. Active. Kind. Loving. A badass. Filled with fun and laughter and joie de vivre. A true original.

Imagine today is the day they begin filming your reality show. It’s not based on fake drama, but about how fantastic you are. Everyone’s going to watch it and tell each other how much they just love you and want to be more like you. The cameras are rolling, so ahead and start being that person. Go ahead and start living that way.

The hell with winter blues, and the hell with falling short. In terms of being the person you want to be, yesterday is  irrelevant. You create your self and your life right now, from where you are.

Nobody Else Is Normal, Either.

No One Else Is Normal, Either #dealing with depression #dealing with anxiety

I often see people sharing quotes, memes, and articles along the lines of, “What people don’t understand about depression…” or “Here’s what people don’t understand about anxiety.” And these quotes, memes, and articles are usually saying true and valid things about depression or anxiety, and it’s great that those are being shared.

I’m sure that almost everyone has encountered ignorance and misunderstanding regarding their situation, whether it be struggling with a mental health issue, a divorce, or other troubles. Many people have gotten facile or insulting advice on how to cure depression or anxiety or how to solve their other problems. That kind of misunderstanding can especially hurt when it comes from friends or family.

At the same time, the idea that most people are happy and fine, and our own struggles make us a rare and misunderstood kind of person, is one worth questioning, both in terms of mental health and in terms of life in general.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, almost one in five people in the United States suffer from a mental health issue during a given year, with depression and anxiety being by far the most common. If someone isn’t depressed or anxious, chances are excellent that they have been in the past and/or that they are close to someone who is. There may be people who don’t understand, but there are also a whole lot of people who do.

With other kinds of struggles, we likewise feel the temptation to think we have it worse than everyone else. Financial difficulties, weight issues, relationship problems, learning disabilities — these are all common, yet we can sometimes believe that while life is very hard for us, most people are breezing through their days without a care in the world.

It’s probably easy to believe this because don’t always see other people’s problems. Even if you always read my blog, you don’t know about all of mine, and I’m not putting them on Facebook or sharing them in casual conversation, either.

The fact that a problem is common doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. So why is it so important to remember that other people have serious struggles as well?

 

 

A big reason is that it’s good for us to remember that we’re not alone. The people we interact with every day, including the people who smile a lot and have cute outfits on and show up to the meeting early with color-coded folders…  they’ve all got their big messes that they’re dealing with, too.

Sometimes we’re afraid to get help because we think we’re going to be judged. We don’t think people will understand, but chances are pretty good that they will.

Several years ago when I told coworkers that I was fighting suicidal urges, one of them told me they’d been through the same thing. Another told me her husband was currently dealing with it. I never would’ve guessed! I’d come close to dying because for a long while before that, I thought it was too embarrassing to go into full-time treatment. It wasn’t embarrassing, and even if it had been, let’s be clear: embarrassed is better than dead.

Here’s the other reason why it’s good to remember that other people have struggles, too. It reminds us that people may be speaking from their own personal experience… even if their opinions or advice don’t sound right to us. We all deal with problems in different ways, and solutions that work for one person don’t always work for another. Keeping this in mind can help us avoid discord and misunderstandings.

For instance, if a friend tells a depressed person that prayer might help, the depressed person might get angry at the suggestion, thinking the friend doesn’t understand how serious depression is. But there’s a possibility that the friend has been through serious depression, and that prayer did help them. That doesn’t  mean it would be right for everyone, of course. But if the depressed person remembers that the friend may be speaking from personal experience, there less likely to get angry… even if the friend isn’t exactly helping.

Realizing that most people deal with serious problems helps us to be more compassionate to those around us, including coworkers and classmates, neighbors and strangers. It gives us a context for all of our interactions.

 

 

Have you encountered misunderstandings from others? Have you had times where you realized you weren’t the only one dealing with your problems? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re having a good week!

Best Year Ever! Here Are My 10 Resolutions for 2017.

Best Year Ever! Here Are My 10 Resolutions for 2017. #fun resolutions #romantic resolutions

Hi, everybody! I hope you had a lovely holiday break. I love Christmas, and my absolute favorite holiday is coming right up… New Year’s! There’s just something about getting the gift of a whole new year, and I’m always determined to make it my Best Year Ever!

Now, let me tell you… sometimes, that just doesn’t pan out. 2016, for instance, broke my heart several times over, and I’m just proud of myself for avoiding depression in spite of it. Last year around this time, I did a list of the best things about the year, but although there were some good things about 2016, I’m going to skip that this time around and look ahead. (Are you feeling this way, too?)

In the past, I’ve often made a lot of resolutions regarding my work and my writing. Some of them were partly out of my control, which is maybe not the smartest way to make resolutions.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to a couple of big, exciting and difficult career challenges, and I have no idea how they are going to go! At the same time, I feel like it’s going to be very important to not get swallowed up in my work and forget to have fun. In fact, FUN is my keyword for 2017.

I always make 10 resolutions, mostly because of the influence of Jinny S. Ditzier’s book Your Best Year Yet. I’ve never been the kind of person who says, “I think I’ll just see what life has in store for me,” because in my experience, life can’t be trusted to come up with awesomeness for you. You have to go out and make it happen.

Here are my 10 resolutions for 2017, with a little explanation for each one.

 

 

 

1. Go on 52 awesome dates with Mr. Donovan.

Several of my resolutions are ones I’ve made in past years and didn’t quite achieve… but my life was better for it, anyway. This is one of them! There’s nothing that makes me happier than having fun with my darling.

2. Do something fun with a friend or friends in real life once a week.

I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert, but lately I want to see people more!

3. Truly celebrate all the holidays and special days.

This is my parent’s influence! They really get into the holidays. I hate it when days like St. Patrick’s Day, or heck, even Arbor Day, go by without my celebrating it somehow.

Now you can see that if I do these first three things, I’m probably going to have a good time.

4. Capture the fun: share at least 1 Instagram picture every day and write 1 thing down in the Happiness Book every day.

The Instagram goal seems narcissistic, and let me be clear: it absolutely is. It’s also more than that. Like a lot of creative people, I can live a lot in my head, and doing Instagram a lot reminds me to look around at the world and enjoy life more. At the end of the year, I want to put together a book of all of the best memories. (Follow me on Instagram if you want to!)

The Happiness Book is simply a place to record one happy memory every day. I used to do a Happiness Jar, but we are switching to a book because it turns out we really like to save these, and it’s easier to save a book than a bunch of slips of paper.

5. Be active in my local political groups.

I don’t discuss politics on my blog, but I’ll just say two things: 1. not many people get involved on the local or state level, even though it can have a big impact, and 2. no matter what your political beliefs are, taking action is more effective than complaining to your friends, and it also makes you feel better.

6. Do 52 random acts of kindness.

This is another resolution I’ve had before and haven’t quite nailed, but I did a lot of good things anyway.

 

 

 

7. Take a long walk 6 times a week.

The treadmill is fine if the weather is bad. It’s great to get out in nature. But then again, watching Netflix and walking is also great! I’ve even been known to write while doing the treadmill.

8. Complete levels 1 – 5 of Fluenz Spanish.

I’ll skip ahead through 1 and 2 if it’s too easy. Language study also makes your brain sharper for everything else.

9. Post at least 2 blog posts a week, send out 1 newsletter a month, and make 6 youtube videos.

I’m feeling inspired about the newsletter, and the youtube videos will be new for me. Hope you like them! We’ll see how they come out.

10. Achieve new levels of brilliance in my career.

This could be my day-job career, my author career, or both! No matter what happens with circumstances out of my control, I’ll do some good new things.

 

What about you? Have you made some resolutions? Do you hate resolutions? Are you excited about a New Year? Scared? Let me know in the comments!

And no matter what, THANK YOU for reading my blog! I appreciate you every day of the year.

 

How to Stop Obsessing

How to Stop Obsessing

This is a self-care post for people dealing with depression or anxiety. As I’ve mentioned before, I dealt with life-threatening depression several years ago. I learned a lot and have been lucky enough to have happiness as a default setting for a long time now.

With mental health matters, the same things don’t work for everybody! However, maybe something that’s worked for me will work for someone else, too.

One sure way to fall into or prolong depression is by obsessing about a fear or a negative situation. Often, we let our minds become completely fixated, and we believe this is both natural and inevitable — even though some of us are capable of avoiding it. Whether we’re dealing with an illness or the threat of one, an impending layoff at work, a breakup, or any other kind of heartbreak or dread, we tell ourselves that there’s no point in denying our feelings.

In my experience, I can acknowledge negative feelings without cuddling up to them, making them a cup of tea, and asking them to take up permanent residence. This may not be true for everyone, but I’ve learned that I can control what I think about, and the more practice I have at controlling it, the better at it I get.

 

 

Studies show that when you think about something painful again and again, it becomes one of your most easily accessible thoughts or memories. It’s like your mind is wearing a familiar path. (Fortunately, if you obsess about positive things, as I make a point of doing, this thinking begins more and more to rise to the top.)

On a practical level, obsessing about situations beyond our control, or fears that may or may not come to pass, serves no good purpose. It’s just extra, pointless suffering for us. Even if we need to devise a plan (such as what we will do if we lose our job or when the divorce is final), obsessive negative thoughts will block insightful and creative solutions to the problem. It would be better if we could come at it with a clear head.

A lot of writers read this blog, so I bet you know what I’m talking about. Have you ever been stuck staring at a Word doc or a blank page for a really long time? And then you get up and do the dishes or take a shower, and suddenly the solution appears? Sometimes the brain needs a break to do its best work.

Here are some things that have helped me stop obsessing. Maybe one or more of them will work for you!

1. Avoid the external triggers.

If there’s an impending layoff, politely walk away from freaked-out conversations between coworkers. If a tragedy in the news is upsetting you, make a donation to a cause that can help, if you’re able to do it and it’s an option. Then turn off the television, take a social media break, and disable the news alerts on your computer. If you’re worried about a health prognosis, don’t leave the medical literature the hospital gave you in plain sight. Painful breakup? Feel free to clear your social media accounts of photographs of the person, if that will help you, and unfollow or hide mutual friends who chat a lot with your ex (heck, unfriend them if you want to.)

2. Schedule some overrides.

If you just tell yourself, “Don’t think about it, don’t think about it,” well, you’re going to think about it. But your brain is, happily, pretty bad at thinking about two things at the same time. Here are some great things to schedule for overriding obsessive thoughts:

Take a long walk while listening to an entertaining audiobook. (Sometimes, fiction is survival. That’s why writing is so important. If you write escapist genre fiction? You’re probably saving lives.)

Watch a funny movie. Or episodes of a funny TV show. Feel-good, sentimental stuff with happy endings works, too. In all seriousness, this can be incredibly helpful.

Create. Tell yourself you’re not allowed to obsess until you produce a finished drawing, a row of pieced quilt squares, a poem, or five fresh pages of your story.

Alcohol does not work as an override. It’s the opposite of an override. Trust me on this. I’m pretty sure drugs don’t work, either.

3. Do something nice for somebody else.

Give your friend a card with a hand-written note telling her why you like and admire her. Bring your neighbors a bunch of donuts or bagels for no reason. Bake cookies and take them to the homeless shelter (and also, have a cookie.) Negative obsession and positive action are nearly incompatible.

~

If you have other ways to avoid obsessing about negative things, please share them! I bet we all can use them. Thanks for reading, and take good care of yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World Wants You to Focus On Your Weaknesses. Focus On Your Strengths.

The World Wants You to Focus on Your Weaknesses. Focus On Your Strengths. #writing #success #motivation

I’ve written about this before, but one of the most widespread misconceptions in writing is the idea that you become successful by focusing on your weaknesses. By identifying every single thing we do wrong and correcting it, we’ll be perfect at writing! Right? Most writing workshops and critique groups operate from this point of view.

Career development and performance reviews at companies sometimes make this same mistake of disregarding people’s talents. Managers identify their employees’ weaknesses and ask them to focus on improving them, sometimes assigning them to projects that will get the employees to do more of what they’re naturally bad at so that they can improve.

In our day-to-day lives, we get messages all the time about identifying and fixing our weaknesses. For one thing, it’s a common strategy companies use to sell things. They remind people that they’re overweight and that it’s a big problem in order to sell them weight loss products, or they point out that their living room doesn’t look like one in a home décor magazine in order to sell them furniture.

Many of us, unfortunately, often fall into the bad habit of focusing on the weaknesses of the people closest to us and trying to reform them. The people who love us may be reminding us of our shortcomings all the time.

 

 

Focusing on weaknesses leads to mediocrity.

The writer who only concentrates on eliminating their mistakes may end up with lifeless, technically correct stories.

The company that only focuses on developing its employees’ weak spots will be like a track and field team on which the hurdler does the pole vault and the shot put thrower runs the sprints. That’s not the way you win.

The person who only fixates on their shortcomings neglects all of their natural-born charms and talents.

There’s a popular quote, frequently and incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein, that expresses it really well:

Everybody is a genius. but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

 

Focusing on your strengths leads to distinctive success.

The most important way to improve your writing is to figure out what kinds of stories you love, and what you excel at in prose, and do more of that.

The best way companies can succeed is by identifying their employees’ strengths and encouraging them to do more of that. (There are managers at my workplace right now who do this, and it’s so smart.)

On a personal level, knowing what you’ve got going for you and working it will make you irresistible and unstoppable.

 

 

 

But here’s the most important thing:

Focusing on your strengths will give you a happier life.

Of course, it’s always good to improve at things, and learning new things throughout our lifetime keeps our brains sharp and clear.

But when we focus too much on our weaknesses, we fall into the trap of thinking we won’t be worthwhile until we are perfect in every way, which is pure insanity.

When we spend time doing the things we’re best at, and we highlight our best qualities, that’s when we feel good, and no one can resist our sparkle.

And while we’re at it, we can help other people recognize and focus on their unique talents and their best qualities, too.

 

The World Wants You to Focus on Your Weaknesses. Focus On Your Strengths. #writing #success #motivation

 

I may do a few posts in the future to encourage you to think about your strengths: as a writer, in your day job, and as a person. It’s important stuff to think about, and it has the extra advantage of being really fun.

Do you feel pressured to dwell on your weaknesses? Have you seen great results from focusing on what you’re best at? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Thanks for reading!

 

 

TGIM! Let’s Hear It for Clean Slate Monday!

TGIM! Let's Hear It for Clean Slate Monday! #monday motivation #best week ever

Last week I wrote about how much my online friends have meant to me over the years, and I gave a shoutout to the now-defunct site 43Things. One of the friends I made on 43T, a foodie and rescue dog enthusiast, introduced me to the concept of Clean Slate Monday. (Thanks, John!)

Clean Slate Monday is a way of embracing Monday as the best day of the week. Most people view Monday as a drag, because they’re going back to work or school. But let’s face it: if you only enjoy Saturday and Sunday, you’re not enjoying life.

To me, Clean Slate Monday means that no matter how messy, hectic, or disappointing last week was, guess what? It’s over now! You get a whole fresh new week!

 

 

Maybe this week is going to treat you better. More important, maybe you’re going to treat yourself better.

Maybe you’re going to worry a little less and enjoy yourself a little more. After all, this week is only coming around once, and it’s a time that you’ll get nostalgic for later. If you were 110 years old, you’d probably go back to this week in a hot minute. So go ahead and appreciate the good stuff.

If you messed up last week, well, forget about it, or re-write that history, if you choose. Either way, it’s gone. It’s Clean Slate Monday.

And if last week was amazing? (I’ll go ahead and admit here that last week was amazing for me.) Even better! You’ve got another week to prolong those good vibes.

Maybe this week you’re going to be more of the person you want to be. Maybe you’re going to kick ass.

Every Sunday night, I write down my week’s schedule and set goals in my planner. I love doing this. (I have all these pretty stickers, which helps.)

And honestly? I never accomplish everything I set out to accomplish in the course of a week.

But I get a lot of it done. And one of the reasons is that I have a great attitude toward Monday. I wake up and think, “Yes! Let’s do this!”

If it’s useful to you, then adopt the idea of Clean Slate Monday. And if you want to share any thoughts about how to get the week off to a good start, or what you’re looking forward to this week, please leave a comment! Happy Monday, and have a great week!