Is Depression Really on The Rise?

It’s an idea repeated so often that it’s now taken for a fact – depression is on the rise. If true, modern society has messed up. In 1985, 10% of people had no one to discuss important matters with. By 2004, that number had grown to 25% – one out of every four people! (1) … Read more

Are You an Overthinker? You’ve Been Poisoned

Feeling anxious, upset, or sad? Natural.

Feeling reflective? Non-productive?

You may be overthinking. Overthinking is:

  • Going over a failure or conflict, again and again, to see how it could have gone better.
  • Ranting and raving about the wrongs that have been done to you.
  • Trying to figure out why life isn’t living up to your expectations.
  • Constantly reflecting on your sadness.

Overthinking is so common that many consider it natural, sometimes even productive.

No. Sorry. Overthinking is not productive.

Overthinking is a modern phenomenon that's unnatural and counterproductive.

Overthinking? Don't you mean correct thinking? It's better to confront a problem than to ignore it.

Sidebar: One of the simplest ways to stop overthinking is to declutter your mind. This book can help you make that happen.

Spend more time thinking about it and you’ll discover an insight you missed.

That's why your attention keeps coming back to it. The underlying concerns and emotions haven't been addressed.

No.

Overthinking is poison.

Ruminating and venting isn't processing. It’s pouring fuel on the fire. (1, 2)

Most problems have causes which no amount of reflection will uncover. (3)

And what you'll learn in this post – overthinking was designed by evolution to trigger depression and abandonment, not effective problem-solving. (4)

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Do Pets Bring Happiness?

If you want more happiness, get a pet. In the 80s and 90s,  research came out suggesting many benefits from pet ownership. From reduced risk of asthma, allergies, and cardiovascular disease to increased mood and wellbeing. Some doctors started recommending pet ownership to their patients. I thought the decision was a no-brainer. It seems fun … Read more

Misattribution of Arousal: The Lies Your Inner Narrator Tells You (and How They Hurt You)

When I was 16, I had the craziest summer of my life.

I woke up in the middle of the night, my heart pounding and my palms sweating.

Why oh why? Why had she broken up with me? I want her back!

Walking, talking, working, studying – whatever I was doing, she would pop back into my head. I called, texted, and banged on her door. She told me she never wanted to see me again.

I felt rejected.  Woe was me.

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The 4 Things You Need to Know About Meditation

Meditation is HARD. Keeping still and staying focused is so unnatural that most who give meditation a try don’t keep it up. So it’s important to understand a few things about meditation: Does it work? Better than other techniques? How quickly? Is one type better than another? If we meditate for 50 hours but see … Read more

The 6 Simplifications of Positive Psychology – The Hot Mess of Measuring Happiness

An assumption underlying the science of positive psychology is that happiness can be measured.

There is the Bhutan Happiness Scale. There is the Subjective Happiness scale. And there are constant studies that measure happiness. But nothing really measures your personal happiness very well. So all measures of happiness are based on averages from what people report during interviews with psychologists after specific experiments.

We are guild of it here on DGH too. Just look at some of the articles we have where we talk about ways to increase happiness.

Gratitude journals increase well-being…
Money does little for happiness…
Positivity can prevent divorce…
Yelp is more trustworthy than your brain…
Buying many small items is better than buying a few large things…

Prove that assumption false, and hundreds of research findings fall apart into meaningless garble.

In this post, we will take a deep look at the science behind measuring happiness and see if it is these measurements have any value at all…

 

 

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Approach or Avoidance?

What is better when setting goals, approach or avoidance? Is it better to focus on avoiding things you hate and want to avoid or focus on the positive things you want from life? This post takes a deep look at approach vs avoidance to find out if it is more motivating to set goals that … Read more

The Myth of Inspiration – Why Feeling Excited Isn’t Enough

You're excited. You feel that this time will be different.

I want it bad enough. I can do this.

You start making plans. Maybe, you take the first step.

But then its gone. After a few hours or a few days, you're back to normal. Feeling mundane, doing the mundane.

Why?

Two reasons.

Problem 1. Inspiration escapes as quickly as it enters.

Hunger is natural. When we ignore it, it gets stronger and stronger until all we can think about is food.

Inspiration is unnatural. With the passage of time, it leaks out of our body, as if it doesn't belong.

No surprise – it doesn't.

Hunger comes, whether we want it to or not. Inspiration doesn't.

That's why we read inspirational books and videos, again and again and again and again. But watching inspirational videos and reading uplifting stories takes time and has an inconsistent effect, sometimes getting us excited, other times leaving us bored.

That's why personal coaches and motivational speakers are so fond of positive visualization. Of imagining your desires having already come true. That's inspiring.

Unfortunately, inspiration isn't enough.

Problem 2. Inspiration unconverted to motivation feels good but doesn't lead to action.

How often have you felt excited and then done nothing to show for it?

There isn't some sort of excitement threshold, past which you actually start getting your goals done. Excitement is like salt water – by itself, completely useless. It takes a purifier to change it into something useful.

Goal setting isn't primarily effective because it's inspiring, but because it converts transient desire into long-term focus and commitment. It's a purifier.

But often, it's not enough.

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Positive Psychology Resources

What is Positive Psychology? Wikipedia positive psychology page. [ted id=312] What (and Why) is Positive Psychology, an overview paper by psychologists Shelly Gable and Jonathan Haidt. Positive Psychology Books 1. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom – The book which introduced me to positive psychology. Book summary. 2. Stumbling on Happiness – … Read more