Happiness: To pursue it or not to pursue it—that is the question

In this article, I discuss whether it is reasonable to pursue happiness as a goal. The title of this article may raise some Spockian eyebrows, to borrow a phrase from one of my favourite sports commentators. That is, it may seem obvious that pursuing happiness as a goal is both a worthwhile and reasonable endeavour. After all, doesn’t almost everyone want to be happy or happier? And are there not many steps people can take to make it more likely they will be happy or happier? Despite evidence pointing to an affirmative answer to these questions, it is not a foregone conclusion that people should pursue happiness as a goal...[more]

2019-08-11T21:56:19-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Psychology|

How to manage your moods behaviourally while waiting for cognitive skills to take effect

In this article, I discuss how you can use behavioural skills to manage your moods while waiting for your efforts with cognitive skills to pay off. My work with clients typically entails helping them learn cognitive and behavioural strategies to address their issues. Many of these issues involve managing moods such as depression, anxiety, anger and frustration. One challenge in using this dual-pronged approach is that behavioural strategies generally show more immediate benefits compared with cognitive strategies. This occurs because behavioural strategies usually involve taking some action in a straightforward manner whereas cognitive strategies entail learning and applying skills to change your interpretation of situations in order to experience emotional relief...[more]

2019-07-28T21:40:18-07:00By |Categories: Anger, Anxiety, Depression|

Negative social comparisons: How they affect your mood negatively and how to stop making them

In this article, I discuss how comparing yourself negatively to others is an example of distorted thinking which you can address with skills from cognitive behavioural therapy. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often work with clients who engage in negative social comparisons. This involves having thoughts which focus on not doing well compared with another person, a group of people, or people in general. Negative social comparisons can focus on beliefs regarding coming up short relative to others in areas such as abilities, personal characteristics and performance at work or school, finances, sports and relationships...[more]

2018-12-30T21:54:31-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Self-Esteem|

How to be consistent at setting boundaries: Focus on the internal results

In this article, I discuss how focusing on the boundary-setting benefits to your self-esteem and mood can help you to be consistent at this activity. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have clients who have challenges in setting boundaries in social interactions and relationships. The most common difficulties involve managing the stress involved in letting others know when they have crossed a boundary and the fact that the stress involved does not appear to be worth enduring based on the limited benefits. That is, clients commonly report that on most occasions the party toward whom they have set boundaries does not respond positively to their boundary-setting attempts. The stress involved in setting boundaries and the lack of positive results which appear to occur when doing so leads many people to give up on setting boundaries...[more]

2018-12-16T22:16:24-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Self-Esteem|

The importance of engaging in mastery activities at work and in your leisure time

In this article, I discuss why it is important to schedule activities which are good for your self-esteem. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have clients with issues involving low self-esteem or low self-confidence. One of my go-to strategies to help these clients is to have them incorporate mastery activities into their lives. Mastery activities are those in which a person accomplishes something and uses their talents and skills...lmore]

2018-11-04T21:47:04-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Self-Esteem|

How to catch hot thoughts so that you can check and change them to feel better

In this article, I discuss several techniques to help you pinpoint the negative thoughts which are causing your emotional distress. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have clients who can benefit from skills from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One of the most beneficial CBT skills is a thought record. The use of thought records helps a person to feel better by catching, checking and changing ‘hot thoughts’. Hot thoughts are negatively skewed beliefs which people have when they are experiencing strong and unpleasant moods like sadness, anxiety, anger, frustration, guilt, shame and embarrassment, among others...[more]

2018-08-26T21:08:13-07:00By |Categories: Anger, Anxiety, Depression|

Inspiration from M*A*S*H: How to persevere to overcome adversity

In this article, I discuss how the key to success is often continuing to try ideas until you find the ones that work. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often get inspired by ideas from the media to help clients. One memorable example came from the long-running television show based on the Korean war called M*A*S*H which is set in a mobile army surgical hospital. Although the program originally aired many years ago, it still appears in reruns. One M*A*S*H episode was so moving in its focus on resilience and perseverance that it inspires me to keep going when I feel like giving up...[more]

2018-08-12T21:58:42-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Sport & Performance|

How to get through the day when you’re ‘not on’

In this article, I discuss how to cope with those days when you’re not feeling good emotionally. There are some days when you’re ‘on’ and other days when you’re ‘not on’. When you’re on, you feel relaxed, have positive thoughts and emotions and things just seem often seem to flow along effortlessly. When you’re not on, it’s just the opposite. You don’t feel good emotionally, you frequently have negative thoughts, you feel tense instead of relaxed, you lack energy and feel like getting even the smallest tasks accomplished is a grind. Sometimes you’re on or not on because of what happened to you that day or because of your ongoing life circumstances. At other times, being on or not on is an internal state unrelated to what’s going on in your life or what happened during your day. Whatever the reason, it can be challenging to get through the day when you’re not on...[more]

2018-06-04T15:17:36-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Psychology|

Change your thinking to manage your emotions and your behaviours

In this article, I discuss how you can target different levels of thought for change in order to feel better emotionally and to break problematic behaviour patterns. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often see clients who are seeking help with one or both of the following issues—experiencing unpleasant emotional states they would like to change (depression, anxiety, anger, frustration and guilt, to name a few) and engaging in problematic behaviour patterns (substance use, binge-eating, procrastination, being unassertive, and avoiding social situations, to name a few). Fortunately, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) offers strategies which help people address both these issues—alleviating the intensity of unpleasant emotions and breaking problematic behaviour patterns. CBT helps people address these issues by targeting negative thought patterns for change...[more]

2018-02-25T21:36:41-07:00By |Categories: Addictions, Depression|

How to pick yourself up when you’ve ‘fallen down’

In this article, I discuss how to keep moving forward in the face of repeated adversity at the hands of others. One of my favourite movies is Falling Down from 1993 which stars Michael Douglas. It features a man having an extremely frustrating day in which he encounters one thing after another going wrong. His frustration is compounded by it being created primarily by people who appear to care only for themselves and who enjoy inflicting suffering on others. The film begins with Douglas’s character, referred to as ‘D-Fens’ in reference to the letters on his license plate, being let go from his job because he was ‘not economically viable’. On his drive home on a blistering hot day, he is stuck in the middle of noisy traffic because of construction work which does not seem to be serving any purpose. D-Fens abandons his car and encounters a series of frustrations to which he responds each time with a violent retaliation toward the source of his frustration. This includes taking a baseball bat to the...[more]

2018-01-29T22:14:46-07:00By |Categories: Anger, Depression|
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