When You Feel Like Giving Up: Combatting #LearnedHelplessness


(The following excerpt from When You Feel Like Giving Up: Combatting Learned Helplessness by Amy Przeworski, Ph.D., recently appeared on psychology today.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)

I’ve written about this feeling many times–the sense that nothing that you do really has any effect on the what is happening in your life.  I’ve experienced it many times as well–during the postpartum period, when my colicky daughter would not stop crying no matter what I did, at times in my career when it seemed like I worked hard and nothing came of it, and even in trying to find a mate.  There’s a sense of powerlessness as you realize that you can try to solve a problem but that all you are doing is banging your head against a wall that does not seem to move.  That sense of powerlessness is learned helplessness.

Learned helplessness is associated with depression. It describes that quality of depressed people where you retreat to your bed and just give up on trying to impact the world.  You give up your agency, sense of purpose, and feeling of hope and find yourself deep in a hole.  Once you are down that deep, it is hard to dig your way out of it–especially if you don’t even try to dig.  So learned helplessness can maintain depression.

So how do you dig your way out of this pit?

1) Do not to accept your helplessness.  You must continue to try to escape the shock because you never know–maybe something that you do will work.

2) Change your thoughts.  If you believe that you cannot affect change, you will not even try.

 3) Try and try again.  Once you try to make a change or to find a solution to problems in your life, don’t give up if the first solution doesn’t work.




#Elephant Meets Another Elephant For First Time In 30 Years


(The following excerpt from Elephant Meets Another Elephant For First Time In 30 Years recently appeared on aol.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.) 

Two African Elephants greeted each other for the first time at the San Diego Zoo. But before this precious moment, 41-year-old Mila led a life of solitude performing in the circus, before being moved to a zoo in New England.

Mila’s former keeper wanted her to reunite with other African elephants, but she died when Mila accidentally crushed her. The tragedy sparked $1.5 million in fundraising sent from people who wanted to bring Mila to the San Diego Zoo to live with her species.

Now, she will spend her days hanging out with other African elephants including her new pal Mary.

Zookeepers say Mila was surprised to see something as big as her after being solo for more than three decades, but she’s in good hands (or should we say trunks?).

Check out video in this link to see it’s clearly the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


9 Habits Of #MentallyStrong People


(The following excerpt from The 9 Essential Habits Of Mentally Strong People by Carolyn Gregoire recently appeared on huffingtonpost.comTo view it in its entirety click on the link below.)

In 1914, Thomas Edison’s lab burned down, and years’ worth of his work was destroyed. This could easily be described as the worst thing to happen to Edison, but the inventor instead chose to see it as an energizing opportunity that forced him to rebuild and re-examine much of his work. Edison reportedly said at the time: “Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start again fresh.”

“In a world that we don’t control, tolerance is obviously an asset,” Ryan Holiday, author of the forthcoming The Obstacle Is The Way, told The Huffington Post. “But the ability to find energy and power from what we don’t control is an immense competitive advantage.”

He’s talking about mental strength, a difficult-to-define psychological concept that encompasses emotional intelligence, grit, resilience, self-control, mental toughness and mindfulness. It’s something that Edison had in spades, and it’s the reason that some people are able to overcome any obstacle, while others crumble at life’s daily challenges and frustrations.

The ability to cope with difficult emotions and situations is a significant predictor of our success and happiness. The most capable individuals in this way are able to turn any obstacle into a source of growth and opportunity. And while much has been made of what mentally strong people avoid doing — things like dwelling on the past, resenting the success of others and feeling sorry for themselves — what do they actually do? What tactics do they use to overcome adversity time and time again?

“Things that we think are obstacles are actually opportunities to do something,” says Holiday. “[To] be rewarded in some way that we never would have expected, provided that we address and don’t shirk from that obstacle.”

Here are 9 essential habits and practices of mentally strong people that can help you get through any challenge or hardship.

They see things objectively.

They let go of entitlement.

They keep an even keel.

They don’t aspire to be happy all the time.

They’re realistic optimists.

They live in the present moment.

They’re persistent in the pursuit of their goals.

But they know when it’s time to let go.

They love their lives.


How To Build Good #Relationships

Listening helps. And pizza doesn’t hurt, either. (Thinkstock)
Like most people, I’ve been working on a few new things in 2014. I’m doing more public speaking. I’m experimenting with hot yoga. And I’m trying to build better relationships with the people who matter to me.

To that end, I picked up a copy of an underground indie best-seller called It’s Not All about Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with AnyoneThe author, Robin Dreeke, is in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s elite Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program. Robin combines hard science and years of work in the field to offer practical tips to build rapport and establish trust.

I asked him to give me a crash course in building a relationship with someone. He offered five practical tips, which I’ve expanded upon.

1. Ask them questions. It’s not about you, it’s about the other person. What are their priorities? What are their goals? What are they trying to accomplish? What do they want to talk about? How are they framing things? Probe their thinking with when, what, and how questions.

2. Don’t be a conversation dictator. Before I spoke with Robin, I had a bad habit. If someone wanted to steer a conversation a certain way, but I wasn’t done talking about what I wanted to talk about, I’d try to pull it back. By putting my needs first, I’d disrupt the tempo of the conversation. I wasn’t placing their needs ahead of mine. I’ve been working hard recently to get other people to direct not only the tempo of the conversation, but where it heads.

3. Allow them to talk. Don’t interrupt. One trick I recently pulled out of Daniel Pink’s best-selling book, To Sell is Human, is to pause for five seconds after the other person is done talking. That may seem like an implausibly long time, but it gives you a chance to collect your thoughts and allows the other person space to continue talking should they wish.

4. Genuinely try to understand their thoughts and opinions. You can start by asking. “How did that make you feel?” “Why did that happen?” These questions not only encourage the other person to talk, but they increase your understanding of the other person.

5. Leave your ego at the door. Dreeke writes: “Suspending your ego is nothing more complex than putting other individuals’ wants, needs, and perceptions of reality ahead of your own. Most times, when two individuals engage in a conversation, each patiently waits for the other person to be done with whatever story he or she is telling. Then, the other person tells his or her own story, usually on a related topic and often times in an attempt to have a better and more interesting story. Individuals practicing good ego suspension would continue to encourage the other individual to talk about his or her story, neglecting their own need to share what they think is a great story.”

When the focus is on the other person, and we’re not anxious to tell our own story, we also tend to remember the details. We’re mindful.

The number one goal of almost every conversation should be to leave the other person feeling better for having spoken with you. And for your part, extract as much knowledge from them as possible.

Whenever I talk to people about this, someone always asks what to do if they are talking to a complete fool. In this case, it’s best to heed the advice of Churchill, who said: “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”


Do We Care More About The Suffering Of Beasts Than Humans?


(The following excerpt from Do We Care More About The Suffering Of Beasts Than Humans? by Arnold Arluke and Jack Levin recently appeared on nypost.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)

Last week in Cophenhagen, the city’s zoo killed a 2-year-old giraffe named Marius with a bolt gun to prevent inbreeding. His body was dissected in front of schoolchildren, his remains then fed to hungry lions.

Despite 27,000 people signing a petition to stop the killing, and an offer of a new home, the zoo would not be swayed.

The story got international attention — and the public outcry was so extreme that the zoo’s scientific director received death threats.

At the same time, of course, violence raged across Syria, famine loomed in South Sudan and stories of children beaten or mistreated surfaced in America. Was there as large an outcry?

When reports of animal victimization reach the news, they seem to overshadow traumas and tragedies that befall human beings. Not a month passes, it seems, without at least one story of some act of animal cruelty followed by hundreds if not thousands of people denouncing it.

But do people really care more about harm to dogs than to humans?

To find out, we had 240 students at the school where we teach, Northeastern University, read one of four fictitious news stories that depicted either a puppy, an adult dog, a human infant or a 30-year-old human being severely beaten with a baseball bat. The students were then asked to rate how much sympathy and distress they felt for the assault victim.

Our results revealed a more complicated picture than assumed. Age, rather than species, seemed the primary influence on the reactions. The human infant elicited the most sympathy and distress from our students, but infants, puppies and adult dogs all got greater sympathy than the 30-year-old human.

The bottom line is that the subjects did not necessarily care more about dogs than people: They cared more about creatures who were perceived as innocent and helpless, regardless of whether they had two legs or four.

Full-grown adults are more likely to be seen as capable of taking care of themselves. Infants, puppies and adult dogs are not.

Given our results, why does it seem like many people care more about the plight of animals than humans? Perhaps the answer lies in the way these violent episodes are reported.

Human victims are, sadly, often relatively distant if not anonymous in the news, making it hard for people to identify so personally with them.

Of course, many people outraged by Marius’ killing didn’t live in Copenhagen and never visited her in person but still felt a long-distance connection to this baby giraffe because the media provided so many details of his young life — and death — along with photos of his cute face.

By contrast, media reports of horrific human violence tend to focus not on the victim but on the killers. Every aspect of their troubled childhood, failed relationships and lack of success is presented in great detail. In some cases, the violent perpetrator becomes a national celebrity. All too often, the killer is remembered for decades while the victims are quickly forgotten.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from how the media reports stories of animals being harmed. If people are becoming desensitized to the many reports of human suffering, then why not tell more about the human victim’s story?

Perhaps then more people will be just as troubled, if not more so, when they read about the victimization of fellow humans.