Tag Archives: psychology

Frey Freyday – leader series-Abraham Maslow

(Frey Freyday is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

This ‘leader-series’ is a sub-set of Frey Freydays – celebrities, influencers, icons and other people that are well-known that, although not perfect, have led an inspirational life in some way or have made some contribution to society, etc. and people from which we can learn. In no order and certainly the list is un-ending.

-ABRAHAM MASLOW

If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. Abraham Maslow  –

What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself. Abraham Maslow  –

The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness. Abraham Maslow  –

What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization. Abraham Maslow  –

Marriage is a school itself. Also, having children. Becoming a father changed my whole life. It taught me as if by revelation. Abraham Maslow

Classic economic theory, based as it is on an inadequate theory of human motivation, could be revolutionized by accepting the reality of higher human needs, including the impulse to self actualization and the love for the highest values. Abraham Maslow  –

The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short. Abraham Maslow  –

If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life. Abraham Maslow  –

The fact is that people are good, Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior. Abraham Maslow —

WORDS TO LIVE BY:

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (see below), a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs.

In short, he believed that every person has a strong desire to realize their full potential, to reach a level of “self-actualization”. The main point of that new movement was to emphasize the positive potential of human beings.

Maslow was concerned with questions such as, “Why don’t more people self-actualize if their basic needs are met? How can we humanistically understand the problem of evil?”

For me personally, when I was in college, I always had an interest in psychology. One of my favorite college professors introduced me to Maslow during class.

When I read and learned about Maslow, I just felt like I suddenly understood all of our thinking a little more. I could identify the theories in myself and others. I agreed with so many of the thoughts, quotes and theories put forth.

It also gave me hope, I am an optimist and I feel that I can make life better. Maslow suggests that we all can, if we find the needs, develop and self-actualize. It resonated with me; progress is good, living in the moment is good, we all have much more potential than we often realize, we should strive to be self-aware, people are mostly good, and so on…..

…Maslow’s philosophies are about goodness, responsibility, hope, being alive, potential…

  • I appreciate Maslow’s point of view that, “To be mentally healthy, individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions…”
  • I wish more people remembered his point; “Each person, simply by being, is inherently worthy.”
  • He also stressed, “to attain personal growth and understanding..”. While I don’t think that this may be everything in life, it is certainly important to me.So many of these concepts are still being discussed today, even though Maslow passed away suddenly of a heart attack in 1970.Human needs as identified by Maslow: (in order of the most basic to the higher levels)
  • I thought Maslow offers simple yet meaningful ideas that are applicable to anyone. They, like so many pieces of wisdom, his thoughts are relatively easy to understand, and worth being reminded about from time to time.

I also found a connection with Maslow’s concept known as Peak experiences, which as he stated, profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or clarity, etc. It is in these moments where we feel more alive, happy, at peace, connected, etc. I remember the morning of one of my college psychology classes; I walked outside in the woods on a beautiful spring morning. I looked suddenly to the left and a deer was a few feet away chewing on something, just staring at me. We both stayed in the moment for a long time. I felt at peace, happy, connected, calm and strong. Later, sitting in class, the professor explained what a peak experience was, and I knew that I had a peak experience that very morning.

So many of these concepts are still being discussed today, even though Maslow passed away suddenly of a heart attack in 1970.

I thought Maslow offers simple yet meaningful ideas that are applicable to anyone. They, like so many pieces of wisdom, his thoughts are relatively easy to understand, and worth being reminded about from time to time.

Human needs as identified by Maslow: (in order of the most basic to the higher levels)

  •  “Basic needs or Physiological needs” of a human being: food, water, sleep, sex, homeostasis, and excretion.
  • “Safety Needs: Security, Order, and Stability”. Items important to the physical survival of the person. After we humans have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, we can accomplish more.
  • Next level of need is “Love and Belonging”, when we take care of ourselves physically, we can share ourselves with others.
  • The fourth level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable with what they have accomplished. Often referred to as the “Esteem” level, it talks about the need to be competent and recognized, such as through status and level of success.
  • Next is the “Cognitive” level, where individuals intellectually stimulate themselves and explore.
  • After that is the “Aesthetic” level, which is the need for harmony, order and beauty.
  • At the highest level, Maslow stated, “Need for Self-actualization” occurs when we reach a state of peace, connection and understanding when we approach or reach a level where we’re engaged in achieving their full potential.
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Frey Freyday – Excuses

(Frey Freyday is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

Excuse – \ik-ˈskyüz – to try to remove blame from

I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse. Florence Nightingale

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Henry Ward Beecher

An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded. Pope John Paul II

Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant. Tony Robbins

An excuse becomes an obstacle in your journey to success when it is made in place of your best effort or when it is used as the object of the blame. Bo Bennett

Most people don’t have that willingness to break bad habits. They have a lot of excuses and they talk like victims. Carlos Santana

You’ll ultimately realize that there are no excuses worth defending, ever, even if they’ve always been part of your life—and the joy of releasing them will resonate throughout your very being. Wayne Dyer

One of life’s fundamental truths states, ‘Ask and you shall receive.’ As kids we get used to asking for things, but somehow we lose this ability in adulthood. We come up with all sorts of excuses and reasons to avoid any possibility of criticism or rejection. Jack Canfield

WORD TO LIVE BY: (not live by)

EXCUSES- a phony reason not to get out there and succeed.

Did you ever notice that when you’re at a family get together, or some other social event where you’re with friends or people that you know really well, you can sometimes notice others making excuses?

While we can always learn from watching others, if we are honest and brave, we can evaluate and look at ourselves – – my point is this:

We ALL use Fear as an Excuse!

I was at a nice picnic this weekend and a few of the ladies were there and just full of fear for so many things and they were talking about many things in their lives that they just didn’t want to do or “just couldn’t”.

At first I got a little judgmental and thought “Tsk!”, then I stopped myself. I tried to look at them and see what I didn’t like – and what it was in me.

I saw how I use Fear as an excuse. Recently I’ve had various opportunities in my career and with real estate. In the past I had a bad real estate experience, so I chose to pass on this opportunity. Looking back, it wasn’t a great decision to pass like I did – I at least needed to spend more time researching – but my fears about the past clouded my current-day decision.

  • How are you using Fear to hold you back, consciously or unconsciously?
  • What can you do to wipe out fear so you can make better decisions?
  • What can you do to wipe out fear so that you can live your life?
  • What kinds of questions can you ask yourself to change this habit?
  • What kinds of things can you do to interrupt the pattern of fear?

Look at all of the times, the opportunities, the ‘stuff of life’ that you may have missed.

Could you be better off if you were less fearful? If you had less excuses?

In one way or another most of us have an excuse about some part of our lives. Maybe the excuse comes in the form of a limiting belief. Either way, we have them. Some excuses are on the surface – those that might think about consciously or those we say and share with others.

Other excuses are deep down – we may know about them or not – either way, we keep them hidden deep down and may use them to convince ourselves, right?

We have excuses about work, love, life, money, relationships, health….

These excuses can be a crutch. Sometimes we get comfortable with our excuses and with our life that we settle for something. We need to raise our standards and just let go of the excuses.

What are your deep excuses and beliefs? Be honest. It isn’t necessarily fun to think about but we need to do so.

Facing them and addressing them is a great step to take – right now.

First – honestly identify at least one ‘excuse’ – a deep secret one.

Second – write a question that forces your mind to think otherwise – FOR EXAMPLE: if you think that you’re too old, you could ask yourself a question something like, “How does my age, wisdom, and experience give me an edge? Why does my age, wisdom and experience help me achieve my goals? In what ways do my age, experience and wisdom help me in my life?” – THEN try to answer these – write down ways that your age helps you, benefits you, and find positive references, achievements and such from the past. Do this often.

Third – repeat, and make sure you’re being honest with yourself!

Frey Freyday was actually born out of something I created called “Words To Live By” (WTLB). Going forward, I will now not only share the quotes, as you may be used to receiving, but also a related (WTLB). In 1999, when we had our first daughter, I was contemplating how I would raise my new beautiful child, and I was thinking about how I can best educate her and my other children about values, morals, and other key thoughts about life. School offers education. Religion offers some values and morals. Parents offer most of it, sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally.
So I created a (WTLB) book, like a dictionary, which lists things like honesty, love, persistence, etc. with a definition that I created, with my wife’s input. I then turned it into a workbook with one word per page and space below for notes. For years we would discuss with my two daughters and they would draw pictures and make notes in the blank space. I may share some of those images with you. As they got older, they were less inclined to draw and more open to quotes and references from adults, hence where Frey Freyday came from..

frey_freydays

To Conquer Fear, A Man Turns Rejection Into A Game

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Editor’s note: This story first ran on Jan. 16, 2015, as part of NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. It’s about a man who decided he no longer wanted to be ruled by fear. Without realizing it, he used a standard tool of psychotherapy to help him stop dreading rejection.

And if you’ve been dreading a future without Invisibilia, fear not — we’re hard at work on Season Two! We can’t reveal what we’re working on right now, but rest assured that this season won’t include any snakes. Just a lion.

The evolution of Jason Comely, a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario, began one sad night several years ago.

“That Friday evening that I was in my one-bedroom apartment trying to be busy,” Comely says. “But really, I knew that I was avoiding things.”

See, nine months earlier, Jason’s wife had left him.

“She … found someone that was taller than I was — had more money than I had. … So, yeah.”

And since then, Jason had really withdrawn from life. He didn’t go out, and he avoided talking to people, especially women.

But that Friday, he realized that this approach was taking a toll.

“I had nowhere to go, and no one to hang out with,” Comely says. “And so I just broke down and started crying.” He realized that he was afraid. “I asked myself, afraid of what?

“I thought, I’m afraid of rejection.”

Which got him thinking about the Spetsnaz, an elite Russian military unit with a really intense training regime.

“You know, I heard of one situation where they were, like, locked in a room, a windowless room, with a very angry dog, and they’d only be armed with a spade, and only one person is going to get out — the dog or the Spetsnaz.”

And that gave him an idea. Maybe he could somehow use the rigorous approach of the Spetsnaz against his fear.

So if you’re a freelance IT guy, living in a one-bedroom apartment in Cambridge, Ontario, what is the modern equivalent of being trapped in a windowless room with a rabid dog and nothing to protect you but a single handheld spade?

“I had to get rejected at least once every single day by someone.”

Cards from the Rejection Therapy game.

Cards from the Rejection Therapy game.

Courtesy of Jason Comely

He started in the parking lot of his local grocery store. Went up to a total stranger and asked for a ride across town.

“And he looked at me, like, and just said, ‘I’m not going that way, buddy.’ And I was like, ‘Thank you!’

“It was like, ‘Got it! I got my rejection.’ ”

Jason had totally inverted the rules of life. He took rejection and made it something he wanted — so he would feel good when he got it.

“And it was sort of like walking on my hands or living on my hands or living underwater or something. It was just a different reality. The rules of life had changed.”

Without knowing it, Jason had used a standard tool of psychotherapy called exposure therapy. You force yourself to be exposed to exactly the thing you fear, and eventually you recognize that the thing you fear isn’t hurting you. You become desensitized. It’s used in treating phobias like fear of flying.

Jason kept on seeking out rejection. And as he did, he found that people were actually more receptive to him, and he was more receptive to people, too. “I was able to approach people, because what are you gonna do, reject me? Great!”

That was when Jason got another idea.

He wrote down all of his real-life rejection attempts, things like, “Ask for a ride from stranger, even if you don’t need one.” “Before purchasing something, ask for a discount.” “Ask a stranger for a breath mint.”

Cards from the Rejection Therapy game.

Cards from the Rejection Therapy game.

Courtesy of Jason Comely

He had them printed on a deck of cards and started selling them online.

Slowly, the Rejection Therapy game became kind of a small cult phenomenon, with people playing all over the world.

Jason has heard from a teacher in Colorado, a massage therapist in Budapest, a computer programmer in Japan, even a widowed Russian grandmother. She’s using rejection therapy to pick up men.

“That’s really cool — so, there’s an 80-year-old babushka playing Rejection Therapy,” he says.

So what has Jason learned from all this?

That most fears aren’t real in the way you think they are. They’re just a story you tell yourself, and you can choose to stop repeating it. Choose to stop listening.

“Don’t even bother trying to be cool,” Jason says. “Just get out there and get rejected, and sometimes it’s going to get dirty. But that’s OK, ’cause you’re going to feel great after, you’re going to feel like, ‘Wow. I disobeyed fear.’ ”

Frey Freyday -Adaptation

creativity

(Frey Freyday is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. –Stephen Hawking


All of us need to begin to think in terms of our own inner strengths, our resilience and resourcefulness, our capacity to adapt and to rely upon ourselves and our families.-Steven Pressfield


Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent.-Nolan Ryan


A true champion can adapt to anything.-Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Fortunately for me, my parents were not poetic. They were pragmatic. They understood that ignorance and fear were but matters of the mind, and the mind is adaptable. They believed that I should grow up to enjoy the same freedoms and responsibilities as everyone else.Daniel Kish (a blind man that ‘sees’ by clicking with his tongue)


We are a party of innovation. We do not reject our traditions, but we are willing to adapt to changing circumstances, when change we must. We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future.-Barbara Jordan


Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.-H. G. Wells

WORD TO LIVE BY:

Adaptation – [ad-uh p-tey-shuh n] – usually an unconscious modification of individual and social activity in adjustment to cultural surroundings.

Organisms face a succession of environmental challenges as they grow and develop and are equipped with an adaptive plasticity.

 So we all face challenges, and we all face the dark unknown, which is endemic to most challenges, which is what most of us fear, okay? But we all have brains that activate to allow us to navigate the journey through these challenges. Okay? We have the power to adapt. Sometimes it is a little scary or outside of our comfort zone.

We face a challenge. Something happens. How we react and how we adapt is up to us. What you do next separates you from someone else.

Adaptation is necessary in relationships too. A lot of us have been conditioned to think that once we find the person who we believe is perfect for us, then the hard work is over. Everything should be smooth sailing from that point on. After all, if they are perfect for us, shouldn’t everything just fall into place? But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, once you find the partner you are ready to commit to, that’s when the real work begins. And any healthy relationship will require a certain amount of flexibility from each partner. Because change is inevitable. And in order for a relationship to grow and prosper, it is critical that you and your partner be able to adapt to the changes, finding your way through the good and the bad together.

Sometimes adaptation leads to creativity and better solutions. Example: Kevin Systerom invented an app called Burbn, however, it was not exactly a hit with the users. The app was just too complicated. But Systrom was undaunted. He brought on another programmer and together, the pair determined that while users were not utilizing Burbn’s check-in features, they were using the app’s photo-sharing features. And after months of tweaking and experimenting, Systrom and Krieger released a pared down version of Burbn that was essentially a simple photo-sharing app. They called it Instagram. So they simplified it, made it interesting/useful/successful by adapting.

Evolution is adaptation – it is a trait with a current functional role in the life of an organism that is maintained and evolved by means of natural selection. Therefore in some cases, adaptation can be do or die. If we don’t adapt and eat in a healthier manner, maybe we’ll die from heart disease or diabetes. If we don’t stop smoking, we may die earlier, right? If we don’t adapt to a compromise that works, our relationship may die. If we don’t adapt to our job or career, that opportunity may die.

In the world of psychology, those who more easily adapt are typically happier. The adaptation process is a critical part of cognitive development. Through the adaptive processes of assimilation and accommodation, people are able to take in new information, form new ideas or change existing ones, and adopt new behaviors that make them better prepared to deal with the world around them. This is something that can happen unconsciously but also something we can choose to do – we can be open to other ideas, approach new things in a reasonable manner and decide if the new information might help us.

Frey Freyday was actually born out of something I created called “Words To Live By” (WTLB). Going forward, I will now not only share the quotes, as you may be used to receiving, but also a related (WTLB). In 1999, when we had our first daughter, I was contemplating how I would raise my new beautiful child, and I was thinking about how I can best educate her and my other children about values, morals, and other key thoughts about life. School offers education. Religion offers some values and morals. Parents offer most of it, sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally.

So I created a (WTLB) book, like a dictionary, which lists things like honesty, love, persistence, etc. with a definition that I created, with my wife’s input. I then turned it into a workbook with one word per page and space below for notes. For years we would discuss with my two daughters and they would draw pictures and make notes in the blank space. I may share some of those images with you. As they got older, they were less inclined to draw and more open to quotes and references from adults, hence where Frey Freyday came from….

BONUS: Ted Talk Summaries @ Adaptation

http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/455904076/adaptation?showDate=2015-11-20 – Humans adapt to physical and creative challenges in remarkable ways. How do we do it, and what happens when we can’t? In this episode, TED speakers share inspiring stories about our capacity to adapt.

Bonus #2

The Power of Gratefulness In Your Daily Life by John Assaraf

http://blog.myneurogym.com/grateful-life/

‘Tis the Season for Giving Thanks…

The smell of turkey is in the air, and that can only mean that another year is coming to a close. Now is the time to take a moment and reflect. How did 2015 go for you? Did you achieve some personal and professional goals you set at the beginning of the year? Or, do you find yourself saying “if only I…”

It is easy to look back and focus on regrets, mistakes, and missed opportunities. However, a negative outlook on the events of the past year can set you up for failure in the next one. What if you concentrated on things from the last 12 months that you can be grateful for instead? You would be amazed at how it might change your whole perspective.

Being grateful may not come naturally to you. Some people have to make a conscious effort. It means pausing in the middle of a hectic life and giving thanks, verbally, internally, or even on paper, for the good things. It can be something big like your health, the love of a spouse or partner, or a fulfilling job.

But it can also be the little things. A sunset, a song on the radio, a green light… you would be amazed by the positive energy you create in your mind from being grateful about a small thing that you would normally ignore or overlook altogether.

Many studies have shown that making even a little effort on a daily basis can perpetuate positivity. A 2003 study that compared two groups, one that kept track weekly of things they were grateful for with one that only listed the things that bothered them, revealed that after 10 weeks, the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the other.

So how can you integrate gratefulness more into your daily life? First, start with the voice in your head. Make sure at least once a day you hear it say, “I’m grateful for…” no matter how big or small it is. Next, try on a weekly basis to write an email or letter to a friend, co-worker, or family member, thanking them for their help or generosity. Finally, you can simply say “thank you” to everyone! Whether it’s the barista, the bus driver, or the bagger at the supermarket, expressing your gratefulness with those simple two words is a great way to pay it forward – and put proven power into your own life.

Frey Freyday – Transformation

(Frey Freyday is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.-Rick Warren


First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.-Napoleon Hill


Transformation literally means going beyond your form.-Wayne Dyer

Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.-Marianne Williamson

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.-Joseph Campbell

I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.-Hermann Hesse


We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish. We can begin transforming into someone new in just one moment, once we decide and take action.-Tony Robbins

The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.-Ben Okri

Words To Live By:

trans·for·ma·tion – [ˌtransfərˈmāSHən] – change in form, appearance, nature, or character. Metamorphosis. To move beyond a form.

We can all transform our lives in a heartbeat, with one decision, with one action.

We can choose our own path and become someone else.

We can become a better person regardless of our past circumstances, biology, genetics, choices, parents, society or anything else. Others have come from far worse and done great things. Look for those people in the world that have transformed, there are many. Let their successes empower you. If they can do it, so can you.

Find a few models or mentors to emulate. Find someone who already did it and learn from them. Focus on what you want (not what you don’t want), focus on the good things and things that are working in your life (not on the things that aren’t working). Have a plan. Visualize the end result. Stay focused on that good image of the end result and take action each day.

So many of us get stuck in a rut. We believe that we can’t do better. We limit ourselves. We think that because something has happened in the past, we are limited moving ahead.

Instead, that event that we label as “bad” fortune can always give our lives meaning and we can use that event or experience to transform our lives into something of value.

The transformations may be small things in our everyday lives. They can also be huge life changing things that make a big difference. The process and possibilities are the same.

Ask yourself “Why can I now transform into the person I want to be?” and “Why do I have courage to transform?” and “Why do I have permission to transform?”

Sometimes we may believe that we lack the courage and permission to transform.

You have the courage to transform. You have the permission to choose your life.

You can transform anytime you decide, anytime you want to take action.

Frey Freyday was actually born out of something I created called Words To Live By”(WTLB).

Going forward, I will now not only share the quotes, as you may be used to receiving, but also a related (WTLB). In 1999, when we had our first daughter, I was contemplating how I would raise my new beautiful child, and I was thinking about how I can best educate her and my other children about values, morals, and other key thoughts about life. School offers education. Religion offers some values and morals. Parents offer most of it, sometimes intentionally,sometimes accidentally.

……So I created a (WTLB) book, like a dictionary, which lists things like honesty, love, persistence, etc. with a definition that I created, with my wife’s input. I then turned it into a workbook with one word per page and space below for notes. For years we would discuss with my two daughters and they would draw pictures and make notes in the blank space. I may share some of those images with you. As they got older, they were less inclined to draw and more open to quotes and references from adults, hence where Frey Freyday came from….

BONUS; TED Radio Hour – summary podcasts

http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/347104878/transformation?showDate=2015-07-24

Transformation

Are we simply the sum of our experiences? Or can we choose our own path? In this hour, TED speakers share stories of undergoing remarkable transformations despite extraordinary challenges.

This is dedicated in memory of a great teacher, Dr. Wayne Dyer.

HERE IS A GREAT ARTICLE THAT CAN STAND ALONE AND SPEAK BY ITSELF. NOTHING MORE THAT I CAN REALLY ADD OTHER THAN PLEASE READ AND USE IT !

From Psychology Today Magazine………

Fulfillment at Any Age

    How to remain productive and healthy into your later years
    by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.

Giving thanks: The benefits of gratitude

      Why gratitude is good for your mental health

We all like being thanked. It’s a great feeling to have someone, especially someone who doesn’t stand to gain, tell us that we made a difference in their lives. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the good fortune of receiving some heartfelt thank you notes from students, pausing as they got ready to leave campus for the summer, or perhaps for good, to take a moment and let me know that something I said or did proved helpful to them. I’ve also had the good fortune of having favors done for me by people who went out of their way to help me solve a problem, fix something, or in fortunately only one case- return a lost cellphone. Being thanked and having reason to thank others are two sides of the same gratefulness coin. Both exemplify the positive in human behavior and provide us with a positive charge that boosts our emotional balance.

On the surface it seems like gratitude has everything to recommend it. There are a few gratitude traps, though. Some people feel uncomfortable about being thanked. They get truly embarrassed, dismissing the thanker by insisting that “it was nothing” (though clearly the thanker felt otherwise). There are also some uncomfortable aspects about thank-yous when it comes to thank-you presents that are overly generous or could be interpreted as bribes.

If you’re at the receiving end of a thank-you, you may feel unsure about how to reciprocate. Does a thank-you present require a thank-you note? What about thanking someone who’s helped you? Do you reward a person who returns a lost item with cash or just allow your relieved face to serve as its own reward? Then there’s the guilt factor: What if you let a few weeks slip by without sending a thank-you note for a birthday gift? Does it look worse to send a belated thank-you note or just to forget the whole thing and hope the gift-giver won’t notice? Thank-you notes inspire their own particular forms of angst, as was pointed out in one particularly insightful Social Q’s column of the New York Times (for the record: this column is a treasure trove of psychological insight on quirky behaviors).

It might be reassuring, then, to learn that the expression of thanks can be its own reward. Being the recipient of a favor can also make the favor-giver (if there is such a word) feel good too. Everyone benefits when thanks are freely given and just as freely acknowledged. 

There are always exceptional circumstances involving acts of extreme altruism. Heroes are known as the people who put the needs of others above our own. These cases put in bold relief the fact that a hero doesn’t expect thank-you notes or little gift baskets as acknowledgement of his or her sacrifice.

Many real-life heroes also do not expect thank-yous. Yet, when we benefit from the labors that others put out for our sake, we feel internally driven to and want to express our gratitude. And that’s a good thing, in more ways than one.

Psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough point out that gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research. They point out the benefits of expressing gratitude as ranging from better physical health to improved mental alertness. People who express gratitude also are more likely to offer emotional support to others.

Expressing gratitude in your daily life might even have a protective effect on staving off certain forms of psychological disorders. In a review article published this past March (see below), researchers found that habitually focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life is related to a generally higher level of psychological well-being and a lower risk of certain forms of psychopathology.

Now how can you apply these ideas to your own life? Here are some suggestions to boost your own, shall we say, GQ’s (“gratitude quotient”):

1. If someone thanks you, accept the thanks graciously. Let the person know you appreciate being thanked. That’s all you need to do. Really.

2. If you find that difficult, think about why gratitude makes you uncomfortable. Do you not feel worthy of being thanked? In my study of personal fulfillment in midlife, I identified a subgroup of people whose own fulfillment was hampered by their lack of faith in their own worth. Chronic feelings of inadequacy can make it difficult for people to benefit from any thanks that come their way.

3. Look for small things to be grateful for. Not all acts of kindness have a capital “K.” A driver who lets you ease into a busy highway deserves a wave just as much as someone who holds open a door when you’re loaded down with packages. A smile will boost your GQ and make both of you feel better.

4. Don’t fret about gratitude infractions. If you forget to send a thank you note don’t worry about it and certainly don’t use elapsed time as an excuse to avoid the task altogether. Send a quick email and then get to the real thing. If you’re a chronic forgetter, though, you might try to figure out why. By the same token, if someone forgets to thank you, don’t ruminate over it, thereby raising your BP if not your GQ.

5. Keep your thank you’s short, sweet, and easy to write. One reason people procrastinate about writing thank you’s is that they want them to be original and not seem hasty, insincere, or ill conceived. This doesn’t mean the thank you should be one that is short enough to tweet but if you don’t build it up in your mind as having to be a magnum opus you’ll be less inclined to put it off. Whatever you do, don’t make excuses or lie about having sent a thank you that you never did (for more on lying and excuse-making, check out my previous post).

I’ll close by saying thanks in advance to anyone who chooses to add their comments to the discussion or wishes to forward the blog link. It’s the least I can do!

Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging. Feel free to join my Facebook group, “Fulfillment at Any Age,” to discuss today’s blog, or to ask further questions about this posting. 

Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2010

Is it Useful?

“Adjust your habitual vocabulary—the words you consistently use to describe your emotions and sensations—immediately change how you think, feel and live.”

Did you ever notice someone who has some believe from long ago that seems to hold them back?

I know of someone that was once not afraid to fly, then one small thing seemed to happen once on a flight 15 years ago, and now this person is very afraid to fly. She holds onto the belief that she is scared to fly and it is part of her story. Is it useful to have that belief?

Maybe even one event happened in there lives and from that point on, they just hold this belief?
Sometimes we have a judgement, fear, perception, or whatever.

Or, do you ever see someone getting upset, angry, or emotional and it is hurting their judgement or how they are handling a certain situation?

Worrying is another thing that some people do – some people even believe that they ‘need’ to or ‘should’ worry.

Many of our mothers worry about things. There are people that stay awake at night worrying. Is this useful?

(Of course I know that none of the above items ever apply to you or I)

Here is a question to ask in any of the above situations:

IS IT USEFUL?

  • Is that belief, that story from the past, that judgement, fear, perception…..
  • Is it useful to get angry in all occasions or upset at all times?
  • Is worrying useful?
  • Maybe there are times when the above make sense, but asking the question ‘is it useful?” may make us more aware of those times when we have a belief that limits us.

Sometimes we have to be aware of our thoughts, beliefs and actions and be willing to let go of things that are not useful so that we can grow and move on.

 

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