3 Reasons Any of Us Can Blow Up, at Anyone

We all have thoughts and impulses that are horrific if acted upon. Keeping our impulsive behaviors in check is one of the most important and hardest things we have to do in life. And if you add extreme frustration, anger, or alcohol it becomes that much harder to control this more ugly side of all of us.

College Students Gone Wild!

Rather than banishing misbehaving students from campus we should try to find a path of reconciliation, restorative justice, and thoughtful learning that ultimately makes for a better, and more compassionate, community.

How Far Can and Should Your Compassion Go?

It is very easy to talk a good line about compassion but it is very challenging to actually do compassion. While homelessness may be just one of numerous problems needing more compassion it well illustrates the startling contradictions of what we espouse and what we actually do.

Has Being Self-Centered Gotten a Bad Rap?

While living in a Facebook, celebrity driven, reality show, and selfie environment, how can we not become more narcissistic? Ultimately, we have to learn to balance and manage our narcissistic tendencies in a way that considers the needs and rights of others. Easier said than done but we must do so to live in a better world for all of us.

Your Exercise Environment Matters a Lot

Overall, the psychological and even physical benefits of exercise can be altered (both consciously and perhaps unconsciously) by the kind of exercise environment you choose to work out in. Being mindful of these benefits may help you get the most out of your exercise experience.

Has College Become Dangerous for Students?

A great deal of press attention has focused on the problematic and often unethical behavior of college students in recent years. Campus sexual assaults, excessive drinking, and academic cheating scandals have been headline news impacting even our nation’s most elite universities. What can we do to improve college student behavior and maximize good ethical decision making?

Three Steps for a Better New Year

If you want a better 2015 for yourself and for those around you please remember three key words: Gratitude, Kindness, and Acceptance. Try this simple three step process and see how it goes for you. I bet that if you make a sincere effort you’ll be glad that you did and will start the New Year off much better than you expected.

Why Holiday Traditions May Matter More than Ever

Being mindful of the importance of holiday traditions and how they provide organizing, centering, and consoling benefits may help us to respect the wishes of important others and find ways to make the holidays a wonderful rather than a highly stressful experience.

Three Ways to Avoid a Black Friday Hangover

You know the drill…as soon as you can finish your Thanksgiving Day festivities you rush to the department stores for big, bold, better-than-ever Black Friday holiday sales! This is exactly what retailers want you to do but if you’re smart you’ll have other plans. Being thoughtful about what you are willing and not willing to do may help you avoid the Black Friday hangover.

Three Critical Questions To Ask Your Therapist

There are lots of great, well-trained, and licensed mental health professionals out there who offer high quality, evidence-based, professional, and state-of-the-art service. But there are also a lot of folks out there who have no business representing themselves to the public as professional therapists. Do yourself a favor and know the difference before working with one.

4 Things You Need to Know About Pursuing Happiness

We all want to live a happy and satisfied life. While we can’t control all the variables we can use quality science and best practices to maximize the odds that we will have a happier and more satisfied life. Surprisingly, focusing on relationships and others rather than money and status is likely to help you achieve what you desire. Yet most people ignore these facts.

4 Ways To Cope With the People Who Drive You Mad

We often expect people to be reasonable, rational, logical, thoughtful, and perhaps think and behave just like we do. Guess what? They don’t! Get over it and use these four principles to make your life better.

Three Ways to Be a Better Listener

Listening is really hard to do, even for those of us who do it for a living. We all could be better at it. But if you follow a few simple principles you’ll likely make progress in being a better listener. I’ll guarantee that others will be grateful for your efforts if you try.

A Better Approach to the “Spiritual Not Religious” Viewpoint

Research tells us that more people are describing themselves as being “spiritual but not religious.” Plus, popular spiritual/religious practices (e.g., meditation, yoga) have become more secular over time. Perhaps more people would embrace being "spiritual and religious" if they had a fuller view of the whole picture looking behind the nasty headlines about religion.

6 Reasons Everyone's Taking the Ice Bucket Challenge

You have likely either participated in or have observed others complete the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has swept the nation in recent days. It is amazing how popular this trend has spread. But if you know a few things about psychology and psychological theories for behavior change this viral phenomenon makes very good sense and is not surprising at all.

4 Principles of Success for New College Students

Students heading off to college can avoid a lot of common problems if they follow just a few simple rules. After teaching college students for several decades I believe that they'll rarely implode or stress out too much if they attend to just 4 simple principles.

Is Mindfulness a Fad or The Real Deal?

Mindfulness is all the rage now and practiced by many. It is the #1 trend in psychology! Yet only time (and excellent research) will tell if mindfulness is a fad or is the real deal in helping people live better. High quality clinical trials and objective empirical research with a focus on scientific objectivity and an openness to go where the data leads is critical.

Giving People Advice Rarely Works. This Does.

If you really want to encourage behavior change in others, you need to move far away from advice-giving (especially when unsolicited) and move towards modeling. Be an example for others rather than tell them what to do. Research on observational learning and reactance theory suggests that this method might work out best for you.

Can Compassion, Altruism, and Selflessness Really Exist?

It is possible that true compassion, altruism, and selflessness really can’t exit in a pure form but are often part of a more complex and nuanced way of living and struggling with being both selfish and selfless at the same time. But selfless behaviors for selfish reasons can still make the world a better place. Maybe that's the win-win we really need today.

Seven Terms of Engagement When Discussing Religion/Atheism

In a recent college course I was inspired and encouraged while watching a very diverse group of students come together in a thoughtful, respectful, and even gracious way to learn about the psychology of religion from academic sources as well as each other in a spirit of evidence based learning and care for each other. Perhaps this is a model that we all can believe in.

Are Graduates Getting the Wrong Message at Commencement?

In recent years, the take-home message at so many commencement addresses is “follow your passions.” However, I’m afraid that in our increasingly narcissistic world, this common take-home message may make graduates feel good but it also may add more fuel to the fire of our narcissistic society. A very different message might make them healthier and happier in the long run.

Mental Health Care: Now Easier and Cheaper

Although almost 30% of the American population has received mental health treatment from a professional therapist such as a psychologist only 4% of the population know anything about the new Mental Health Parity law. The new law makes it much easier (and cheaper) to get quality mental health services on par with coverage for physical illnesses. Great news I'd say.

4 Ways to be Smarter than your Smartphone

Have we become slaves to our smartphones? A recent conversation with my university students here in Silicon Valley was surprising to me and might be to you too. In many ways, they feel stressed and enslaved by this new technology. They don't need to be. They (and you) can be smart with a smartphone so that you control it and it doesn’t control you! Try these four rules.

Mental Health Disorders Are Closer Than You Think

May is Mental Health Month and we really do need to pay close attention since mental health issues impact all of us....and I really do mean all of us! No exceptions!

Walking May Be Better For You Than You Think

You may have read about a newly published study that found that walking increases your creative thinking. Implications of this research suggest that taking a walk to assist with cognition and problem solving might be a great idea and comes with many other physical and mental benefits to boot! So, do yourself a favor and take a walk and perhaps invite others to join you.

5 Rules to Avoid Being a Smartphone Jerk

Just being mindful of a few simple Smartphone rules and you won’t become a Smartphone jerk! And if you try to be kind, gracious, and respectful to others, the details of Smartphone use and abuse will become very clear very fast.

The Tyranny of Youth Sports

In America we seem to do everything in a big way and on steroids. And when it comes to youth sports we go big or go home. My concern is that kids get overwhelmed, burned out, and just plain fried by the time they are 18 and entering college. And their youth gets robbed along the way too. Maybe we need to call for a time out.

Is School Making Kids Sick?

Sadly, our efforts to excel and succeed may backfire. We need to find a way to balance our desire for achievement, success, and preparation for life in a way that doesn’t destroy the most precious resource we have, our youth.

Spring Break Reconsidered

While the traditional fun in the sun spring break might be attractive on the surface, engaging in alternative spring breaks where students have the opportunity to connect in solidarity with the community not only helps to make the world a better place, but also helps them in terms of their own development, stress management, and nurturing compassion. Sounds like a win-win.

Forgiveness: 4 Helpful Strategies To Do It Better

It is so easy to say that we should be more forgiving of others (and perhaps ourselves) but it is hard to do—very had to do! In my blog post from last week I outlined 7 principles to keep in mind when it comes to forgiveness. I’d like to now offer 4 helpful strategies to actually do it—or at least do it better.

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