Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Boost Your Brain-Power

Have you ever been sitting at the table with family, when something comes on the television that causes you to whip your head around so fast that you realign your neck?  This recently happened to me, while having dinner with my in-laws.  They love to watch the news during dinner.  Generally I ignore the news, as each time I watch it, I need to meditate on the goodness of man in order to counterbalance what the depressing reports of doom and gloom and violence.

So we were sitting there, when a report came on that spoke about increasing your brain functioning.  Actually, I think it may have been some sort of marketing piece, as it was produced by Sutter Health; but hey, if it's good information, who cares if they hope to make a sale out of it, right?  ;-)  Anyhow, what I found most interesting is that their top 5 things to increase brain functioning are all things that Mindful Measures focuses on with our product line.  Without tooting my horn any more than I have to (and you all know how much I like to toot my own horn) let's look at what they recommended:

  1. Use It or Lose It - Sutter Health recommends that we challenge our brains in order to keep them performing optimally.  They suggest puzzles, brain-teasers, learning a new language or taking a class.  As the strength comes from establishing new neuro-pathways and strengthening new ones, I would also add learning new habits to that list as well.
  2. Brain/Body Work-Out - They recommended exercising as a means of increasing blood-flow to the brain.  30 Minutes or more of aerobic exercise helps bring much needed oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
  3. Veg Out - Sutter Health points out that the brain needs a balanced diet in order to function optimally.  They recommend increasing your vegetable intake, while decreasing the amount of animal protein you eat.  I generally qualify this by stating that everyone's lifestyle and work requirements are different, so you should visit a qualified nutritionist to evaluate your particular dietary habits.  But certainly eating more vegetables never hurt anyone (except perhaps that guy who choked on a baby carrot).
  4. Keep it Friendly - They pointed out that socially connected individuals are less likely to experience dementia as they get older.  I would add to that, that it is our relationships with others that stimulate the emotional registrars in the mammalian part of the brain.  The strategies that we employ to keep those around us happy incorporate the outer layers of the neocortex.  But most importantly, by creating and nurturing healthy relationships with others, we experience more profound levels of joy and happiness which are required for optimized learning and brain functioning. 
  5. Good Chemistry - Sutter Health actually placed this as their 4th item on their list.  Whether that was an attempt to tame down the self-serving nature of their video, or whether it was considered as more important than good relationships, I do not know.  Their point was that feeling depressed or regularly down is often an indication of a chemical imbalance.  They recommend seeking help from a qualified professional.  I would as well, though I am generally reluctant to recommend prescriptive drugs to counteract the imbalance (except in rare cases for short-term results).  Our brains and bodies naturally produce the bio-chemicals that we need in order to feel good, assuming we are following the rest of this list.

So there you have it.  Sutter Health and Mindful Measures have been suggesting the same tips for optimal brain functioning.  That's two highly qualified sources, with no agenda to sell you anything ;-).  If you would like to see the Sutter Health video in full, please visit
If you would like to see what I have had to say on the subject, then please feel free to browse through my earlier postings and visit my Youtube Channel for Vlog posts.  We will continue to provide more content, so please feel free to follow our blog, subscribe to us on Youtube and become a fan on Facebook.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What did you just say to your child?

Have you ever taken a moment to listen to your child while they are playing?  I often catch myself hiding behind a doorway, while my daughter is playing pretend with her toys.  Although I have to fight the thought that I am acting like a stalker, I am always amazed by what comes out of her mouth.  It is through these few moments of stealth that I can hear the world through her mutterings. 

Of course not all of the things our children repeat are ours.  Some things they pick up are from teachers.  Some are from their friends at school.  My wife and I debate over who gets to claim some of the things out of our daughters mouth.  But in general it is pretty easy to differentiate who those phrases are coming from.  But here’s the catch, when listening to your child, don’t bust in and interrupt them.  Just listen. Then go back and reflect on what came out of her mouth.  Those words of “pretend time” eventually become your child’s Self-Talk, so if you find it negative, then now is the time to alter how we communicate.

Here are a few tips on what we can try:

  1. Instead of simply telling your child “NO” or what they can’t do, tell them what they CAN do.  If I tell you, “don’t think of an elephant” your mind is likely to fixate on elephants.  However, if you are thinking of an elephant, and I suggest that you “think of a zebra,” then the mind can quickly and easily alter its focus.
  2. Teach your children “Why”.  I know this can be impractical at times.  And certainly there are times when it is inappropriate or dangerous to have to get into the “Why’s” of what we want our children to do.  That being said, explaining “Why” helps our children see the larger picture.  It helps instill a bigger perspective that will help them later in their life.  This is particularly the case in learning situations…and as a child, every situation is a learning situation.  I know that there are some of you who will scoff at explaining yourself or a situation to your child, as if it is somehow beneath you as the authority.  I would merely as if you are trying to raise a drone, or a leader, and leave it at that.
  3. Instill a scientific mindset of exploration.  Demonstrate how to explore and problem solve with your child.  If your daughter or son comes to you with an issue, then help talk them through how to resolve it.  I know that this takes more time and energy than simply fixing it for them (or simply ignoring them-can’t we put down our video game for one minute?), but consider it a time investment.  Those moments we invest now, will be time saved down the road once they learn to solve their own issues.  And it is certainly better than having to clean up some crazy teenage mess.
  4. Tell your child how brilliant they are.  By constantly telling your child how kind, intelligent, strong, and beautiful they are, they will begin to believe it.  Point it out to them when they demonstrate those traits and the reinforcement strengthens the belief.  This is the kind of Self-Talk we can program into our children that will have a positive lasting impact.  By arming our children with an arsenal of positive self-beliefs, we can hope to protect them against the barrage of peer-pressure and image advertising they will face later in life.  Besides, nothing will make you more proud than when your child tells her Snow White doll, “Good!  You are soooo smart!”  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reduce Holiday Stress - 10 Things You Can Do to Ensure a Happy Holiday!

So the holidays are finally upon us, and already many of us are starting to feel the stress.  Even for those who are not directly feeling the pangs of a tough economic environment, this time of year presents many challenges.  On top of our normal load at work (and you mothers who work the “Second Shift” at home), we have our kids’ holiday parties, our office holiday parties (which should require a babysitter…lol), guests visits, holiday portraits, a home to decorate, and shopping (or gift making) for everyone under the sun.  Wow!  It’s exhausting just typing it all!  For those who travel to visit family (bless your brave hearts) your timeline gets condensed even further.  For many of us, Holiday Stress is more tangible than Santa Claus. 

Of course, deep down, the holidays represent a very special time of year.  Besides whatever religious meanings the holidays hold for you, it also represents a great time of coming together.  A time of hunkering down with family and friends.  A time of connecting deeply with those closest to us.  And yet, too often, the stress of it all gets in the way of those special, and deeply meaningful moments. 

So here are a few tips or tricks that we can try, in order to maintain our sanity this year.

  1.         Make your travel plans early - Remember, much of the stress we feel comes from the feeling of insufficient time to accomplish what we set out to do.  Making travel arrangements early can add a strong sense of structure to the coming season.  It also gives you a legitimate reason to say “No” to invitations that you might otherwise feel obligated to attend. 
  2.         Keep a “Calendar of Events” – Simply having everything jotted down (or typed in) to your calendar, clearly illustrates what you do and do not have time for.  The clarity of time will lead to a clarity-of-mind…and that is priceless.
  3.         Don’t look for the “Perfect Gift” – This is one that I struggle with every year.  But after many decades of searching, I can assure you that there is no such thing as the “Perfect Gift.”  The only thing that is Perfect is the love that is behind the gifts you give – and that part is free and abundant.  Granted, some gifts may reflect a deeper understanding of the recipient, but we can never express our gratitude towards others through material means, so let’s not look for it on some shelf at Nordstrom’s or Best Buy.
  4.        Make decorating the house a fun, family bonding event; not a chore – I remember as a child, one of my favorite days of the year was the day we would decorate the house and the Christmas tree.  Yes, it ranked up there with Christmas day itself – which is quite amazing considering that Christmas was the day we actually received our gifts.  But there is something to be said about the joy that the Anticipation of Christmas brings.  So make it fun, bust out the hot chocolate and the Christmas music, and let the kids go at it (even if it doesn’t look perfect – you can fix it after the kids go to sleep).  Decorating the outside of the house…that’s a different beast all together.
  5.         Don’t over-decorate the outside of your house – It is amazing that Home Depot now has an entire aisle dedicated to external home decorations for Christmas.  And I’m not talking about one of their small Pop-out aisles.  They are dedicating major square footage to it.  And it’s no surprise with the amount of money Americans are spending on lawn and roof decorations.  Never in a million years would I have thought that everyone on the block would have a fan-powered, big-enough-to-snag-Rudolph-out-of-the-air-in-mid-flight, Santa Claus on their lawn.  Who are they doing that for, anyways?  Is it to impress their neighbors who already bought one?  Or is it to scare off the Christmas goblin (perhaps the left-over Halloween candy is still affecting my brain functioning)?  Here’s the deal, sometimes less is more.  We don’t need houses confusing Southwest Airlines pilots; they already have enough to worry about.  And really, the overdone house decorations really tell me more about your Ego issues than your financial status anyways.  However, if you are going to go all-out on your lawn decorations, please let me know…my daughter thinks they’re pretty.
  6.         Just Say No! – I know that we all hate to “let people down,” but sometimes we have to decline an invitation.  Remember that nobody wants an stressed-out, exhausted scrooge attending their holiday party, so don’t go if you have too much to do.  Politely decline the invitation, and feel free to let them know that you would like too, if you had more time.  And don’t worry, there will be plenty of other people who will not be able to set appropriate boundaries at their party, so your absence will most likely go unnoticed. 
  7.         Don’t expect a perfect holiday picture – I know this is a tough one for many of us.  Year-after-year we get those perfect holiday cards with our friends and families perfectly lined-up, sitting nicely, with Hallmark smiles on their rosy little faces.  Blah!  Our favorite pictures of our friends are the ones where someone is looking off in the distance, hunched-over-trying-to-escape-dad’s-gasp, and somebody either is or has been crying.  Now that is real!  That is something I can relate too.  And let’s face it, just because someone had the stars align perfectly for that one moment that the shutter of the camera snapped the picture, that in no way means that they are any less stressed out than you, any happier than you, or any more in love with life than you. 
  8.        Plan your gift purchasing adventures – Know what you want, and where you are going to go to get it.  At the very least, know which store you are going to go to in order to find that “Perfect Gift” that I warned you against searching for.  I get that we don’t always know what to get someone, but we should at least know what store they like to shop at.  And if you don’t even know that, then frankly, you are not close enough to that person to burden yourself with the feeling of obligation-to-buy-a gift (unless that person is your boss, then you might want to get to know him a bit better- see you came for stress tips, and you get free career advice- Merry Christmas).  Make sure that you make a list before leaving the house, and yes…check it twice.
  9.         Shop during off-hours – No, I don’t mean at 3AM (that’s just insane).  I mean during weekdays from 10-3.  Take a vacation or sick day if you have to.  I discovered many years ago that the best time to shop, is when everyone else is working.  You know who I saw at the mall?  Guys.  And some stay-at-home mothers who looked far more relaxed than the general population – which is saying something considering that they are usually the ones working twice as hard.  But let me tell you, if ample parking, stocked shelves, available clerks, and short lines sound like a Christmas fantasy you would like to see-to-believe, then trust me on this.  Shop during the week, when everyone else is working.  And don’t forget to bring that list you made.
  10.      Limit your Gift-Exchanges – I know how great it feels to give.  It is one of my deepest joys.  But I have to ask myself if this is the time of year to give a gift to everyone I know.  A few years ago, my wife and I started having frank conversations with many of our circles-of-friends requesting to avoid exchanging gifts for the holidays.  We were amazed at how many of them were totally relieved to be free from the obligation.  The conversations went like this:

Us:  Hey (insert name here), we’d really love to go do (x, y, z) with you soon.  You know how hectic the holidays can be though, is it ok if we catch up once the holidays have passed.
Them:  Sure!  We’re totally swamped, too. 
Us:  Oh, and when we get together, please don’t bring any holiday gifts.  While we always appreciate everything you’ve done for us, we’d really rather you spend the money on your kids/family.  We promise we’re doing the same.  Is that cool?
Them:  Totally!

See how easy it is!  Ok, maybe that was a bit simplified, but you get the idea.  And we have never had any awkward moments with any of them during those conversations.  It has freed up time and money, and is single-handedly one of the biggest stress-relievers we have had.

Those are a few of the things that I can think of to restore sanity back to the holidays.  What do you do?  Please share your Stress-Relieving tips below.  It’s the quickest, cheapest gift you can give this Holiday Season.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Educational Christmas Gifts for Kids

Here we are at that time of year again, when I am banging my head against the wall trying to figure out what gifts to give my kids for Christmas.  As if that weren’t enough, I have to figure out what to give all of the other dear wee-ones in our life.  Of course, it should be easy right.  After all, millions of dollars will be spent over the course of the coming month in an effort to convince us that our kids are going to grow up emotionally scarred if we don’t give them the latest flashing-buzzing-electronic-thingie-that-will-eat-through-$50-worth-of-batteries-every-month (assuming that my child actually plays with it after New Years Day).  Perhaps I am just not that gullible.  Perhaps I am just not that mainstream.  I like to think that my standards for gifts is higher than the spoon-fed masses – or so I tell myself in an attempt to combat the insecurities that have arisen since the Post-Thanksgiving Day advertising barrage.

Maybe its just me, but I want my gifts to be both fun and have some educational value.  And I don’t mean the kind of educational value that I found as a 6 year old boy playing with a Barbie doll.  You know, how to take off and put on (ok, mainly take-off) a four-snap blouse.  I mean the kind of age-appropriate educational value that helps develop special skills, memory or reasoning.  Maybe even something that reinforces phonics or sight-words.  Perhaps arithmetic.  Anything other than “B-Button” or Myspace etiquette. 

So here is a quick list of some of what I believe to be top educational gifts for children.  Many of them we have used with our own kids. 

1.     Signing Time Video Set:  These videos are great for helping to teach American Sign Language to kids and their parents.  Research has shown that children develop the mental ability to communicate long before they develop the required dexterity in their tongues.  If you would like to eliminate many of the frustrations that lead to the two’s and three’s being “terrible,” then this is the gift for you.  And unlike some of the other products on the market, these videos are teaching true ASL so the skills will be applicable beyond the childs infant years.   Http://
2.     LeapFrog Fridge Phonics and Fridge Words:  These magnets are wonderful for teaching and reinforcing the letters of the alphabet, their sounds, and how they form basic words.  And let’s face it, who doesn’t need more magnets for their refrigerator?
3.     LeapFrog Learning DVD:  Let’s face it, active parents occasionally need to plop their little one in front of the digital baby sitter.  And if they have already mastered the Signing Time videos, then it’s time for Phonics or Math skills.  And what’s even better is how the videos work hand-in-hand with the LeapFrog Fridge Magnet sets.  Granted, this gift still requires them to be in front of a tv, but at least it’s better than “SpongeBob Squarepants.”
4.     Insect Lore Butterfly Garden:  This was given to us by a friend, and after our experience with it, we have given it to many of our friends children.  Children get to witness the four of the stages of butterflies’ growth cycle.  Once the butterflies emerge from the chrysalis, your child can set them free.  No worries though, the Painted Lady butterfly is found throughout the US, so no need to be concerned about introducing invasive species into your local environment.  The Garden comes with a poster that illustrates the various growth stages.  This project provided just the opportunity I was looking for to teach my four-year-old the word “metamorphosis.”
5.     Boost Your Brain-Power:  OK, I have to be upfront and cop-up to the fact that this is one of my products, but it truly is amazing!  This music CD is loaded with specific classical music that increases learning ability.  Due to the pacing of the songs, children (adults too) can learn up to 5x’s faster just by having the music playing while engaging in an educational activity.  While the songs may be ones you are familiar with, the particular renditions used are chosen for their specific tempos.  Artists include Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi and more.

As with all great educational toys, there simply is no substitute for parental participation.  As much as we love to surround our little-ones with brainy toys, we know that they are only effective because of the time we spend down on the floor playing with them – yes, even the videos.  I can’t tell you how many hours have been spent quizzing, inquiring, exploring and reiterating skills during play.  And that Time, is the best – and most affordable – gift we have given our children.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Miracle

Growing up, I had always heard about the fabled, “Thanksgiving Day Miracle.”  For me it was like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.  While I could hear or see evidence of its existence, I never got to witness it directly. 

What was wrong with me?  Why had I been cheated out of the “Thanksgiving Day Miracle?”  Wasn’t I good enough?  I had gotten decent grades in school.  I had listened to my parents – as good as any child could be expected to.  I had kept my room clean – well perhaps I could have done a better job on that one.  I had spent the past year standing up to bullies in my attempt to somehow assuage the afflictions of the weak and powerless.  Santa and the Easter Bunny thought I had done a sufficient job to warrant their holiday gifts.  Heck, even the Tooth Fairy seemed to appreciate the way I was popping teeth out of my skull.  But still, I never got to witness the glory of the “Thanksgiving Day Miracle.” 

In hindsight, it’s not so difficult to see the follies of my youth.  How often do we attach ourselves to some unrealistic expectation of what “ought-to-be?”  With my newfound maturity (ok, maturity may be a bit of a stretch), I can clearly see that I was living the “Thanksgiving Day Miracle.”  For me, the “Thanksgiving Day Miracle” was that I did not need one.  After all, even though my family bounced around the poverty level, we still had a home.  I had a room that was my responsibility to keep clean.  I had two loving parents.  And I had been blessed with the ability to stand up for those who were unable to do so themselves.  My “Thanksgiving Day Miracle” came to me every day of the year.  I am grateful to have been blessed with an “Every Day Miracle.”

How are we each blessed?  There are so many things in our lives that are worthy of our gratitude, that they often go unnoticed.  For many of us, our “Thanksgiving Day Miracle” is that we take time to acknowledge some small fraction of them.  Gratitude is perhaps the most critical ingredient for happiness.  Let us – at least for this one day – take time to share with ourselves, and those we love, what we are thankful for.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bejeweled: 12 Essential Life Lessons of an iPhone MMO Game:

After many nights of me lying in bed trying to go to sleep, while my wife endlessly swiped away on her iPhone, she has finally convinced me to try her favorite addiction: Bejeweled 2 Blitz.  For those of you who have already tried your hand (or fingers) at this narcotic, you know just how addicting the game can be.  For those of you who have not yet tried it, I am not sure if I recommend it or not.  I have only been playing it for one night see, and I am not sure what the long-term effects may be.  However, if you would like to try it, I will give you a free sample, but you must pay me $1 each time you play thereafter.  See, I did learn something from New Jack City

If you have never played the game, it really isn’t much different from many of the other casual games out there; save that in this version, each game is only one minute, and your score will be compared with the scores of all of your Facebook friends.  After one night of playing, here are some of the Life Lessons that I have picked up:
  1.  I am not nearly as brilliant as I seem to think I am.  Perhaps I should not put myself up on a pedestal.
  2. My friends are far smarter than I give them credit for.  Perhaps I should tell them sometime.  Unless of course, they already know, and have put themselves up on the pedestal I just vacated.
  3. Never look at flashy lights; they are only there to distract you.
  4. Sometimes things line up perfectly, but we just don’t see it; damn those flashy lights!
  5. When stuck, sometimes it helps to change our depth of focus from short to long, or long to short. 
  6.  Don’t fixate on color; we must be open to the full spectrum, else we miss rewarding opportunities.
  7. While we may not be able to get a lot done in a minute, we can waste a lot of time in 60 second intervals.  Be mindful of every moment.
  8. While some playing fields may be easier to navigate than others, we must do the best with what we've been given.
  9. Sometime it’s ok to ask for help.
  10. Sometimes help that is offered is not the best solution.
  11. Sometimes, we just need to put the game on hold so that we can sleep.  Recovery is essential to performance.
  12. In the end, it doesn’t matter what your score was; it’s just a game.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cast of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" "Exudes Confidence"

It has always been a dream of mine to have something I created referenced on a major network program.  I am here to tell you that Dreams Do Come True!  I know you have heard me say this before, and it may have always just seemed like “positive thinking.”  But last night, on my favorite tv program, The Big Bang Theory one of my goals came to fruition.

During the “Apology Insufficiency” episode of The Big Bang Theory, one of the main characters, Leonard,  mentions Exude Confidence.  And just as our most popular Mindful Measures program would suggest, he instantly is able to shift states and carry himself with a new Swag!  It was really a great moment for me.  Then later in the same episode Sheldon goes on to use Neuro Linguistic Programming to program into Howard forgiveness.  Well, the NLP technique was a bit lacking, but the allusion was blatant. 

It appears as though our work has caught the eye of Chuck Lorre.  Frankly, I would have expected them to give the nod to “Boost Your Brain-Power,” but what they did was very fitting as well.  

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do Your Perceptions affect Beliefs which affect Actions? Or is it the Other Way Around?

It is so easy for us to understand how our Perceptions influence our Beliefs, our Beliefs shape our Actions, and our Actions affect our environment and thereby what we Perceive.  This cycle is so culturally ingrained, that we find it embedded in our language.  Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase made famous by Napoleon Hill that “What a man can Believe, he can Achieve.”  And we are all familiar with the term, “seeing is believing.”  Many clinical psychologists are familiar with the downward Spiral that results from the various forms of Depression.  Perhaps you have even noticed something similar.  But it is important to note that many of the world’s most successful people use this cycle to create truly amazing lives for themselves.

What is less well-known is that the Perception-Belief-Action cycle flows the other direction as well.  That’s right.  Our Beliefs also affect our Perceptions; our Perceptions influence our actions; and our Actions reinforce our Beliefs.  Let’s look at this direction of the cycle in closer detail.

Let’s begin by investigating how our Beliefs affect our Perceptions.  Have you ever witnessed two people watching a political speech, or a news program and come away with two completely different takes.  I have seen this happen so dramatically, that the two people actually “heard” different things.  Surely, there was only one broadcast, so how is this possible?  Simply put, while we may experience a shared event, our Belief Structures serve as filters, causing us to emphasize some details while ignoring, or at least discounting others.  And since we all have a unique combination of beliefs, it is likely that we will have a unique Perception of any given event.  The critical point is that our Beliefs serve as filters, impacting our perceptions.

The next leg of the cycle is how our Perceptions affect our Actions.  While it’s true that our Perceptions affect our Actions only inasmuch as what our Belief Structures say about our observations, we must recognize that many of those Beliefs are held at a very subconscious level.  The more subconscious the Belief is held, the more unconscious the Action becomes.  Indeed, the deeper or more subconscious the Belief is, the shorter time occurs between Perception and Action.  And in most cases the Belief is held buried sufficiently to allow for instantaneous reaction to an observation.  Reflexes serve as a good example.  In these instances, we no longer need to take into account the Belief- we can simply address the Perception to Action link.  Let’s look at an example.  If you were standing on the side of a road, and a car flipped over and started tumbling towards you, you would instinctually run away.  You would not stand there analyzing your beliefs about the possible impact of being struck by a half –ton vehicle.  You would move directly from the Perception to Action.  In training new behavior, we can do the same thing, often times circumventing or ignoring altogether a client’s Belief Structure.

Now Let’s look at Actions shaping our Beliefs. I want to use an example that is familiar among addiction specialists.  We notice that as a drug user continues to abuse drugs, he begins to adopt a belief that his misuse of drugs is inevitable.  It is important to note that it is not the Perception of the drug use that generates this belief, because the Perception is being altered by the drug use.  Rather it is the Action of abusing the drug, or the recollection of the drug experience (and thinking is an Active process) that shapes the Belief of the inevitability of addictive behavior.  This phenomenon is not isolated to drug and alcohol use.  Most of our frequently repeated actions directly influence what we believe about ourselves and others.  “I help others, therefore I am generous.”  “I am smart because I read nightly.”  “I smile to others, therefore I am friendly and outgoing.”  These are all examples of Actions affecting our Beliefs irrespective of the Perception of the generating Action.

Most therapist and councilors focus on the PerceptionàBeliefàAction Cycle as occurring in that order only, and this has dramatic influence over what kinds of therapeutic approaches they take in helping their clients make breakthroughs.  However, once we recognize that the cycle flows the other direction as well (BeliefsàPerceptionsàActionsàBeliefs) we can be open to a whole new line of approaches for facilitating life-changing results.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Celebrate our Veterans by offering them your support!

During this Memorial Day Holiday, it is important that we, as a culture, show appreciation towards our military veterans and active duty service men and women.  But it is even more important that each of us take personal responsibility for the veterans in our lives.  One of the most common fears of returning veterans is that of losing their loved ones respect and affection as a result of their wartime experiences.  So if you have a veteran in your life, take this opportunity to tell them that you love them unconditionally. 

If you or anyone you know who served during wartime is experiencing any of the following symptoms, have them seek counseling immediately:

·      Talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
·      Trying to get pills, guns, or other ways to harm oneself
·      Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
·      Hopelessness
·      Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
·      Acting in a reckless or risky way
·      Feeling trapped, like there is no way out
·      Saying or feeling there's no reason for living.

For immediate suicide prevention help, call

1-800-273-TALK, Veterans Press 1

For those seeking more information regarding suicide help, counseling, or other services offered by the Veterans Affairs you may visit the following website:

After extensive research on the effects of wartime service on the mental health and well-being of our veterans, Mindful Measures is developing a program specifically to help veterans reaclimate to civilian living.  In the meantime, veterans will find the following programs useful:

Live in Joy

Cultivate Deeper Relationships

Reduce Stress

While these programs are great for creating quick shifts in clients perspectives and habits, they are not meant as a substitute for immediate suicide prevention.  If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal urges, please seek immediate professional suicide prevention counseling!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Are You Being Secretly Controlled?

When most people refer to subliminal messaging, they are usually referring to written statements flashed on a screen for fractions of second, during a commercial or propaganda piece.  This technique was used by the Nazis during World War II.  It was also popular in American advertising during the 50’s and 60’s. The effectiveness of this particular form of subliminal messaging is questionable. Research has shown varying results, and no firm conclusion can be made regarding the efficacy of this technique.

The term  "subliminal" refers to a stimulus that occurs below the conscious surface of the mind. Hence it is not restricted to written statements flashed on a screen. It also includes auditory statements delivered at decibel levels below conscious hearing.  Similar to flashes of visual stimulus, this form of subliminal messaging is also questionable in regards to its efficacy.

There is another form of subliminal messaging which is proving to be quite effective. It is currently being used by psychologists, Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioners, and salespeople all over the world. While other forms of auditory subliminal messaging are required to be delivered below the volume of conscious hearing, this version is performed at blatantly audible levels. There are various techniques involved in this form of subliminal messaging. For an in depth study, please refer to the book, Guide to Trance-formation by Richard Bandler. The technique that I have found most useful when reprogramming Self-Talk is the use of an embedded commands.

Embedded commands are individual instructions contained within a larger sentence or phrase. If constructed properly they would stand on their own as a sentence. When delivered properly they speak directly to the subconscious mind while the larger phrase addresses the conscious mind.  When used while programming new Self-Talk, embedded commands are highly effective at creating new perspectives, thought patterns, and habits. For more information on how to create, use, and improve your embedded commands, please check back for future posts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Simple Mind Trick for Lent

While it is traditionally a Catholic observance, the participation in the observance of Lent is beginning to expand beyond the Catholic sect. The transcendence of the Lent practices from Catholicism into the mainstream culture, suggests that there may be real benefits to sacrifice. In an effort to avoid stirring up any religious controversy, I will avoid addressing the theological reasons for Lent. Fortunately there are several mundane benefits to giving-up habits that we enjoy.

Some things that we enjoy are unhealthy and carry with them negative side-effects.  It is obvious why those habits should be avoided. Some habits may be neither healthy nor unhealthy. We may even receive benefits  from temporarily abstaining from those habits. Proactively changing your habits builds confidence. It gives one a sense of power and control. It also builds skills that can be used to change unhealthy habits. If nothing else it teaches us to be mindful.

Many of us become attached to the joy that we receive when we indulge in some behavior. It may be the pleasure of our favorite chocolate bar. It may be the relief we receive from smoking. It may be the attention we get when we dress a certain way. Each of these examples-in fact any example you could come up with-carries with it some psychologically gratifying experience. Once we recognize the experience that we're seeking, then the act of sacrifice becomes much simpler. The trick of Lent becomes one of substitution rather than abstinence.

It is much easier for the brain to engage in a new behavior than it is to simply avoid an unwanted behavior. If we look at the benefits we receive from the unwanted behavior, we can seek out new behaviors that will also deliver that same benefit. By engaging in the new behavior we can circumvent our need to engage in the unwanted behavior. This is a technique that is becoming increasingly utilized by psychologist and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioners. It is also the reason why Mindful Measures programs focus on developing new healthy habits for its clients. So, this year for Lent, choose a difficult habit to avoid, and substitute it with a healthy alternative. I would love to hear about your success.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine's Day Attitude of Gratitude

We all want to find that perfect Valentine's gift.  We hope to convey those inexpressible feelings that we have.  This time of year, we are lead to believe that if we fail to do so, we will be inadequate.  Somehow that means out relationship is doomed to failure.

 According to the Forest Institute of professional psychology, the divorce rate for first marriages is 50%. The divorce rate is even higher for second in third marriages; being 67% and 74% respectively. There are several possible conclusions we can draw from this. The first of which is that only half of marriages are bound by a firm commitment. Or perhaps the successful partnerships were clearer on what they needed from a spouse prior to getting married (see my previous blog, "First Find Love Within Yourself”). I prefer to believe however, that most unsuccessful marriages fail due to a lack of relational skills - the divorce rates for second and third marriages bear this out. So then, what skills are necessary to nourish a healthy relationship?

Perhaps the most important skill for people to have any successful partnership is empathy-the ability to see oneself in others. Empathy is at the heart of tolerance and forgiveness. It is also at the heart of appreciation; as it is the Valentine’s season it is this virtue that I wish to emphasize.

Over the past several decades Valentine's Day has become increasingly commercialized. It seems as though, as each year passes, we are led to believe that our appreciation for our loved ones can only be demonstrated by the purchase of seasonal consumables. We are bombarded by the message that, "your affection can only be expressed through giving your loved-one our extravagant box of chocolates, $100 bouquet, or diamond ring." But do these purchases really show our love, or do they merely demonstrate our propensity to spend? Some might argue that the poor man who picks up a second job in order to afford to take his wife out to dinner demonstrates a higher level of love than the rich man who blindly charges a diamond necklace to his debit card. To me this poor man demonstrates a deeper level of appreciation, because he is sacrificing more of himself in order to create and share an emotionally impactful experience. It is very likely that he is given more thought to what his partner would appreciate. By emphasizing the wants and needs of his wife, the poor man has related to her on a much deeper level.

Surely appreciation entails more than the giving of material objects. Indeed, the giving of gifts without the sense of appreciation behind them, seems hollow and manipulative. And if your appreciation is genuine, then no gift is necessary. When we cultivate gratitude towards others within our heart, it beams outwards. It reflects in our facial expressions and body language. It shines through our actions. It fills our words with genuine emotion.

How then can we cultivate an attitude of gratitude? By actively recognizing the positive traits of others, by praising others for their actions, and by openly demonstrating our love we cultivate a deeper appreciation within ourselves. Allow yourself to "gush" with emotion when you think about your loved ones. Feel love through your whole body and let it exude from you. Do this as many times as the day will allow. You will soon feel a deeper appreciation of your loved one-perhaps more importantly, so will your loved one.

And now that you have a deeper appreciation, you will be in a better place to anticipate your lover's needs and wants. Instead of merely giving your special-someone a meaningless gift, you can create a shared experience that will be as unique, and special, as the one you love.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

First find Love Within Yourself

We often romanticize this time of year with notions of "True Love."  We hold some fantasy in our mind that our soulmate is "out there" somewhere.  Some of us have been fortunate enough to find our soul mates.  To that lucky portion of society, nothing needs to be taught, save that we should aspire to let that person know how deeply you care for them.  But for those of you who will be out looking for that special someone to share this Valentine's Day with, I offer these humble words of advice.

First, we must be able to love ourselves, before we can love another.  Consider "Self-Love" as the training course to finding a soulmate.  Until we can love ourselves, it will be difficult for us to allow others to love us.  Have you ever been in a relationship with a wonderful person and found yourself sabotaging it.  Somewhere in your being, you had difficulty allowing yourself to be rewarded with the love of another.  We must find the means to accept ourselves for who we are, even with our imperfections.  And perhaps we should realize that our soulmate will not be perfect neither, so we needn't be either.  Which brings me to the next point.

Do not expect your soulmate to be perfect.  Very few of us are secure enough to connect intimately with an Ascended Master.  Besides, they rarely have a desire for romantic relations anyhow.  We know that being flawed is part of human existence.  The trick is to be honest with yourself regarding which kinds of flaws you are willing to live with, and which flaws are a deal breaker.  Also keep in mind that each flaw may have different degrees, some you may tolerate while others you may not.  For instance, we all enjoy a good looking partner who has confidence in his/her appearance.  But do we really want someone who is so obsessed with the way that they look, that they spend 3 hours every day preening?  Perhaps that would not bother you, as long as they refrain from insisting that you do the same.  I am not saying that either of those attributes are flaws, but others may think so.  Whatever you levels of tolerance are, be honest with yourself.  Otherwise you are only going to be setting yourself into relationships which will eventually fall apart.

We should also be aware that many of the "positive" traits that we look for in people quite often carry with them a corresponding "less-desirable" trait.  I can't tell you how many women I have counseled that claim to want a man with a strong build.  Then they complain because he spends so much time in the gym, or he is constantly staring at himself in the mirror while flexing.  Or how many men tell me they want a women who is beautiful, yet they are annoyed at the time she spends getting ready in the morning and then they get insanely jealous whenever other guys look at her.  Very often these traits that we are looking for in our mates are a reflection of some need that we cloak deep within ourselves.  If we can get to the root of that need, sometimes we can alter our desire to find that in a mate.  We are then free to avoid any of the "less-desirable" consequences.

The Law of Attraction tells us that we should focus on what we want.  Send that intention out, and it will return with our desire.  That is indeed a good start.  But many of us need to train our minds to only focus on what we DO want.  And we all need to develop the habit of taking action to bring it to pass.  So this Valentine's Day, determine what it is that is TRULY important.  Seek it out.  Then allow it to happen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quit thinking of elephants

Have you ever been told, "Don't think of an elephant?" What happens...well we fixate our thoughts on elephants. Of course we have all struggled with this child's game. My introduction to it was quite infuriating actually. I remember that my friend was trying to convince me that he could control my mind. With a few simple words, he crushed my world. He challenged me to avoid doing what he told me to do, and then he gave me the command....

"Think of an elephant."

Immediately a picture of a large elephant, the kind we would see in the circus, popped into my head. I remember my Self-Talk countering with, "No, don't think of an elephant." But no matter how many times I told myself, and no matter how much conviction I put behind my Self-Talk, whenever I thought the words, "Don't think of an elephant," that circus star always filled my mind.

I was furious at my weakness. How could I let someone else (another child nonetheless) control my mind so easily. So I went home, and like most children, I sought the aid of my father. After telling him about the disempowering events of the day, he gave me a warm, compassionate smile and told me:

"Think of a mouse instead."

Flash! Bang! Pop! All of a sudden the image of an elephant had been chased away by this tiny little field mouse. And from that moment on, the boy from down the street would have no control over my mind (at least not so directly).

How often do we fixate on the things we are trying to avoid? As I work with clients on achievement, it never ceases to amaze me how prevalent this is.

  • I want to quit smoking.
  • I don't want to eat sugary foods.
  • I want to avoid drinking alcohol.
Unfortunately, when we trying to think of the things we are trying to avoid, our mind has to first think of engaging in the item. Neurological studies have shown that the brain has to activate the behavior in order to try to negate it. Unfortunately, each activation is reinforcing the negative behavior! Instead we should try to find constructive, healthy alternatives to the behavior that we are trying to avoid, and focus on that as a means of achieving the emotional fulfillment that the negative behavior was trying to satiate. Using the previous statements as examples, they could be reworded as these goals:
  • I breathe only clean air deeply and calmingly into my lungs.
  • I eat only healthy foods which nourish my body.
  • I drink warm cups of tea in order to relax at the end of the day.
Of course if the emotional reasons for using the destructive substances was different, we could also write the affirmations differently to address those core needs. The point is we need to give our mind and activity it can engage in.

It is just like having a young child who wants to play with a forbidden object. When we take the object away from the child and tell him that he cannot play with it. What is the first thing that he does? He tries to get it and play with it again. No matter how many times we tell the child, "Do not play with that!" we are indeed commanding his mind to play with it. If we however give the child another object which he can play with, and give him permission to "Play with this." then his mind will switch over to the new object, and the struggle is over.

So, the next time you find yourself fixating on an unwanted behavior, just remember the solution is to:

Think of a mouse!