Gamify Your Life

Computer games make it fun to confront obstacles. Wouldn't it be great if your real-life obstacles were as much fun to tackle? Now there are tools that "gamify" everyday life, to tap into the motivating power of computer games.

When Love Brings Pain - #3

Love is letting down your guard, and defensiveness is snapping it back up. You have good reason to be on guard sometimes, but defensiveness doesn’t get you what you want. Your partner quickly pulls up their guard too, and seconds later a good relationship is off the rails. Here are three alternative strategies.

When Love Brings Pain - #2

I struggled to understand my husband until I read "The Power of Two." Now I don't "cross over" into his brain. I speak for myself and respect his ability to speak for himself. What a relief!

When Love Brings Pain - #1

Your brain seeks the good feeling of letting down your guard. But the slightest threat puts your brain on alert. If you learn to manage these alerts, you can have lasting love.

You Have the Right to Feel Good Now, With or Without "Them"

It often seems like "they" are standing in the way of your happiness. But if you conquered “them,” you wouldn't be as happy as you imagine. Your happy brain chemicals are hard to make sense of, but when you understand them you have all the power you need in the world.

Can We Stop Comparing Ourselves to Others?

When you feel like the world is judging you, it helps to know how your brain creates that feeling. Animals compare themselves to others, and we have inherited a brain that compares and reacts. You can free your inner mammal from this cage when you know how it works.

Ten Ways to Stay Positive During the Holidays

It's easy to feel judged and annoyed during the holidays. When you know how your brain creates those feelings, you can replace them with feelings you'd rather have. It's hard at first, but you build new neural pathways that make it easy to go positive instead of going negative.

The War in Your Brain Between Healthy and Unhealthy Habits

Many children learn unhealthy habits despite our best intentions. It helps to know how the brain builds habits. Our brain learns when something feels good, because that releases happy chemicals that connect neurons. We can teach our children that self-care feels good.

Stop Traumatizing Yourself by Watching the News

You may not realize how much you are traumatized by watching the news. Turning it off may not seem like option. But when you know why your mind is so drawn to the news, you can decide whether to live in the bubble created by journalists.

How to Make Frustration Work for You

Frustration is a good thing because it tells you when Plan B is a better use of your energy. Our frustrations are often blamed on modern society, but monkeys had the same frustrations 50 million years ago. They evolved a brain that thrives on frustration, and your brain does too.

Marry for compassion. Repent for enabling.

Your compassion can make things worse if it rewards self-destructive behavior. Your urge to help can undermine someone's ability to help themselves. Your personal power substitutes for theirs, despite your best intentions. It's time to re-define compassion.

When “Help” Doesn’t Help, We Need to Notice

When your urge to do good drives you to reward bad behavior, you create more bad behavior. We can be more conscious of our impacts instead of just feeding our own urge to help.

Why People Confuse “Fairness” With Self-Interest

Children say "no fair!" when they don't get what they want. Maturity helps us restrain this impulse, but it doesn't go away. Your mammal brain rewards you with serotonin when you get the upper hand. When others seek the one-up position, it seems wrong, but when you do it, it just seems fair. Get to know your inner mammal and your frustration about fairness will ease.

I Met My Spouse Online and You Can Too

Taking responsibility for your own happiness makes you a fabulous romantic partner. Here are 3 ways to control your online dating experience, so you can enjoy it despite all you can't control.

Fundamentalism Comes Naturally to Atheists Too

Atheists engage in the same thought habits they disdain in religion: they judge, they seek redemption from sin, and they insist others think like them. Atheists want to exclude other belief systems from the public forum, but democracy requires all belief systems to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Why You Can't Stop

Finding flaws triggers the good feeling of dopamine. It's counter-intuitive, but your brain is designed to reward you with a good feeling when you find something relevant to your needs. You can't always find rewards, but you can always find threats and obstacles. The dopamine soon passes and you have to find another flaw.

Negativity on Campus

Is anger a virtue? It's easy to think so when those around you do. It's easy to see facts that fit and ignore facts that those around you ignore. I let other people's anger in for too many years, but I learned to diversify.

Three Ways to Medicate Yourself With Laughter

Laughing is free, it has no calories, and it stimulates endorphin. So why aren’t we laughing? Here are the common obstacles and some simple ways to get past them.

Why You Need to Take a Break From Criticism

The flaws of the world are easy to see so it's hard to imagine you've created them with your mind. But if you take a break from criticizing, new information will shine in. So why does it feel like you're going through withdrawals when you stop criticizing?

Do You Feel Like the Clock Is Always Ticking?

A big brain can terrorize itself with its own awareness of death. To stop that cortisol loop, imagine a stool resting on three legs: control, distraction, and building a legacy. The seat of the stool is your ability to sit with your cortisol for 20 minutes instead of fueling it.

The Primate Brain Likes to Win, But Can't Always Have It

Winning feels good because it triggers dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. These happy chemicals reward behaviors that promote survival in the state of nature. Watching others win triggers happy chemicals because of mirror neurons. Competition can be frustrating so it's important to understand why your inner mammal is drawn to it.

Why I Don’t Believe Reports of a Mental Health Crisis

Mental health services promise us a life without emotional pain. It's not surprising that so many people are lured by this promise. But emotional self-regulation is a learned skill. Services can help people build skills but they cannot deliver and ideal state that has never existed.

Don't Medicalize the Ups and Downs of Being Alive

Emotional distress is part of the human experience, but today's culture suggests that "the system" should relieve your distress for you. It's not surprising that so many people are expecting something they're not getting. That is not a crisis. People have been responsible for their emotional self-management since the beginning of time.

Don’t Go to Italy

It's hard to believe that an American girl could be convicted of "Satanic ritual murder" without evidence in our times. It's even harder to believe the public response to the Italian conviction is so limp. After reading the evidence, I am convinced this girl is innocent and needs our help.

Three Little Words You Long to Hear: “It’s their fault.”

When you blame your frustrations on others, you waste brainpower that you could have spent meeting your needs. Instead, think like a mountain goat when focusing on your next step. Your brain cannot climb a mountain and curse it at the same time.

Crisis Goggles Make Everything Look Bad

If your life seems like nothing but problems, your brain is doing its job. Your brain focuses on the one missing tile when it looks at a beautiful mosaic. But you can train yourself to see the good things you've overlooked by knowing how your happy chemicals work.

Aggression Works Because People Feed It

I recently fed pigs on a farm, and saw how they bite each other over crumbs. Biting works in the pig world. It teaches other pigs not to get in your way. We humans work hard to restrain our aggression, and we learn to release it in appropriate ways. But sometimes we reward aggression inadvertently.

Hook Ups, Oxytocin, and the Brain’s Quest for Trust

Sex triggers oxytocin, a brain chemical that makes you feel safe. The oxytocin is gone quickly, though, which leaves you feeling unsafe. You can trigger oxytocin in new ways if you know how your brain works.

Rewiring Yourself and Others

My guest blogger teaches conflict-resolution in a prison. She calls herself a "resolutionist" because she sees New Years resolutions as a fun way to rewire yourself. Everyone can wire in new responses by repeating a new behavior.

Break Any Habit in 3 Simple Steps

A bad habit is just a pathway in your brain. Build a new pathway so your electricity will have a new place to flow. 1. Design the new habit. 2. Commit. 3. Repeat. No time or money for a new habit?

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