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A Mindset Hack to Unlock Your Potential

Have you ever heard the saying, “Can’t never could”? It turns out there’s more wisdom to unlock your potential in that little nugget than you might realize.

How often do you find yourself thinking or saying, “I can’t”

Maybe it’s that you can’t do a skill or go to some place or have a certain experience for whatever reason.

I’m sure your mind has a reason or two, but have you ever stopped to question, though, just how accurate that statement might be?

I used to think:

 “I can’t run a clinic.” Now I have a successful private practice.

“There’s no way I could run five miles. I can’t do it.” I’ve done six (so far). 

“I can’t build a website.” I’ve built three.

I am living proof that “can’t” does not have to hinder all areas of your life. It took me a long time to learn that, though. I spent too much time believing the can’ts, without question, taking them as fact. Learn from my mistakes. These negative thoughts stop your forward momentum. Don’t let them. 

The Problem with Can’t

The thoughts about what we can’t do come from a number of places – the internalized voices of others, disbelief about our capabilities, lack of trust in our capacity to grow and learn, lack of example or lack of knowledge that it’s even theoretically possible, wherever they are coming from they have the same effect: our brains shut down and don’t even try.

Let me say that again. When we say “I can’t _____,” our brains hear:

“Oh, that’s not possible. Don’t bother trying to question, problem-solve, or figure out a way to make it happen. It’s not possible. It’s a waste of time.”

Because our brains are designed to be efficient, they don’t like to waste time (or, more accurately, energy), so they stop even trying. The result? You can’t, in fact, do it.

That result, though, is not necessarily inevitable. What if that can’t isn’t a fact? What if, like my examples, it could be changed into a can?

Changing Can’ts Into Cans

To help make that happen, try this little tweak. Instead of saying “I can’t” say “How can I.” 

“I can’t ask for what I want” becomes How can I ask for what I want?”

I can’t eat healthy” becomes “How can I eat healthy?”

I can’t write a blog post” becomes “How can I get this post written?” 

I can’t get through all these emails” becomes “How can I get through all these emails? I know! Maybe I can sort by email address.” 

All of sudden, you’ve thrown a problem at that beautiful brain of yours, and it loves to solve problems.

Instead of shutting down, game over, the wheels will start spinning, and you may just find a solution that opens up a whole new avenue for you.

Give it shot!

You can! Say it again… you can! 

If you want to learn more about your mind works and how to make it work for you rather than against you, explore our offerings at Peak Mind. Our ASCEND program has all of the information and tools to help transform you, your mind, and your life, wrapped up in one awesome package. All you have to do is click the link and dedicate a little time to your personal development.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

Henry Ford

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Don’t Slouch: Building New Thinking Habits

Thinking – both what we think and how we think – is shaped by experience and becomes habitual. Pay attention, because what you focus on becomes what you focus on more, be it the downside or the bright side, what could go wrong or what could go right, dwelling in the past or being present.

Story Time. 

From the time I was 3 until I was 17, I was a ballet dancer. My main teacher, Miss Judy, was a stickler. She demanded poise and precise body position and technique. As a result, I had perfect posture

I had practiced so much that my default was a straight spine and broad open shoulders, even outside of the studio. This habit was so ingrained, it stayed with me all the way through graduate school to my first full-time job, where someone even commented on my first week, “You walk like a model.”

No, I walked like a dancer. 

I sat in a chair for the bulk of the day at that job, which was pretty different from the more active mobile life I had been leading. Gradually, that experience of sitting all day began to take a toll. As I sat comfortably in my cushy chair, my spine began to slouch a bit – just barely. 

Over time, though, that barely slouch started to happen more and more often, hanging around even when I stood up, and it started to deepen. That slouch became my default. And the twisted part? I didn’t even realize it was happening.

Experience shaped my spinal habit in a way that became self-fueling. The same thing happens with our minds, too.

Thinking Is A Habit

Fortunately, our minds – like our bodies – are incredibly plastic, continually changing throughout our lives. Even more fortunate is that we can take charge of that process. Just like my efforts to catch and correct my bad posture are paying off – I may not look like a ballerina anymore, but I’m much more aware and much better able to correct it. Your efforts to intentionally shape the way your mind works are well worth it. 

That’s what psychological strength is all about! Building mental muscle.

Knowing your mental strengths and weaknesses is just as important as knowing whether you have naturally good posture or are slipping into a slouch. When your mind automatically into its natural system of negative thoughts or unhelpful patterns, you must catch it just like I do my slouching. This intentional effort to catch and counteract mental bad habits builds mental muscle memory and will positively reinforce your good habits.

Just like our bodies can be trained and toned and attuned to what we need from it, our brains can be, too. Just as you would spend time training your muscles in the gym, you have to dedicate time to training your brain throughout the day. 

Even simple habits like brushing your teeth as part of your morning routine make those habits easier to stick when we stay consistent and form a habit loop.

Train yourself to recognize your thought patterns. Train your brain to stop negative patterns. As important as it is to start exercising, we also need to exercise our mental muscles as well.

Build Your Mental Muscle

And that’s one of the reasons we created Ascend. We want to help people like you understand how and why your mind works the way it does and, more importantly, how to make it work for you.

If you’re at all interested in checking out Ascend, do it now! 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
– Aristotle
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Psychological Strength in the Face of a Pandemic

Our message this week is a long one, but it’s worthwhile.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the coronavirus. You’ve probably also been affected in some way:

Events have been canceled. Businesses and schools have closed or shifted to remote options. Supplies at grocery stores have sold out in places, and the stock market has plummeted.

With organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) issuing the need for safety precautions like social distancing and working from home, and various levels of government calling various states of emergency, it’s hard not to worry…or worry that you’re not worrying enough. As the death toll rises in the United States, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a major public health crisis. 

It is so important, perhaps now more than ever, to focus on building mental toughness and psychological strength. We’re used to thinking about and working on our physical health, but we don’t always think about taking action to improve our mental health and wellbeing. It’s time to change that. These action steps will help increase your mental toughness and resilience during this difficult time.

For more than a decade, my day job as a clinical psychologist has been helping people learn to manage anxiety effectively. So here are a few tips to help you keep your cool while staying safe:

Understanding Your Mind

First, it’s important to understand a couple things about how the mind works:

This is an oversimplification, but it’ll make the point. There is a part of our minds that is capable of mental representation. This means we are able to daydream, worry, plan, and predict. We are capable of imagining things, creating them in our minds. 

Unfortunately, the part of our mind that controls emotions can’t tell the difference between real and imagined. That means that imagined worst case scenarios provoke the same emotional response as actual bad things happening. Our fear systems can sometimes get activated by things that are happening in our minds, not in real life.

Another thing you need to know is that our minds are master storytellers. They are designed to take a few data points, connect the dots, and fill in the gaps. Our minds make assumptions, create predictions, assign meaning, offer interpretations, and add judgments to the bits of information we take in. In other words, they spin up stories, and, when anxiety is writing that narrative, it’s going to err on the side of danger, overestimation of threat, and catastrophe.

Knowing these things, it is important to question your mind and to separate the facts from the fictions. Facts are the things that you can know for sure, right now, through your direct sensory experience. Fictions are the things, elements, and details added by your mind.

ACTION STEP 1: Hone in the FACTS of the situation.

A challenge with the coronavirus situation is that most of us have very few (if any) direct experience facts, so we have to rely on other sources of information. In an era in which information is readily available anytime, anywhere, misinformation is everywhere. 

Remember, anyone can post ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING, regardless of credibility or evidence to back it, and we live in an era in which shock value is rewarded by clicks, views, and shares. It is important to look for credible sources of information. (If you want to see data collections and what studies show, then Google Scholar is a good tool, along with directives from the WHO and CDC.) 

Our minds are powerful, but they are not always accurate, and this is evident when it comes to the illusion of truth effect. Our minds will believe things they hear repeatedly, regardless of the merits of that information. They mistake repetition for indication of truth. 

Even when we rationally know that the source of the information is questionable or that claims are alarmist or unrealistic, a part of our mind is still soaking up that information and encoding it…and it will stick like  – and in the long term be treated as – fact even though it didn’t start that way.

ACTION STEP 2: Go on a media diet and limit your input.

Be incredibly mindful about the content and media you are consuming right now. Make sure it comes from reputable sources, and limit how often you check the news and social media.

In these uncertain times, credible sources are issuing cautions, and It’s hard to ignore all of the signs that suggest that something bad is, in fact, happening, which means that It’s not realistic to “just not worry about it” or “carry on with life as usual.” How do we determine when and how much to worry, and what to do about it?

I advise my patients to use this general framework to help tease apart realistic from excessive worry:

1.     Is this an actual problem (as opposed to an imagined or hypothetical one)?

2.     Is this an actual problem for today (as opposed to one that must be handled down the road at some point)?

3.     Is this an actual problem for today that I can control (as opposed to something that I have no control over and cannot influence, prevent, or change)?

If the answer to all three questions is yes, it’s time to problem-solve and come up with an action plan. However, if the answer to any one of them is “no”, it’s time to use your psychological strength to keep fear in check and to focus on what matters right here and now.

ACTION STEP 3: Use these filters to help size worry:

1.     Is this problem a real problem?

2.     Is this a problem for today?

3.     Is this a problem that I can control?

Coping skills like mindfulness (paying full attention to what you’re doing right here, right now), thought challenging (questioning the accuracy and helpfulness of what your mind is saying), and valued actions (acting in line with who and how you want to be as a person, regardless of external circumstances) can help keep excessive fear and worry in check.

ACTION STEP 4: Continue to build psychological strength!

Subscribe to our podcast to catch this week’s episode in which Dr. April and I talk about these strategies in more depth.

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The Brain Science Behind Fear

Understanding the science of fear and how the brain interacts with threats is relevant now more than ever.

As you know, cases of COVID-19 are beginning to rise in the U.S. and in many other parts of the world, and naturally, many people are experiencing some fear. Will I get sick? Will my family get sick? How bad will our case be if we do get sick? These are all scary questions to contemplate right now.

Outside of the pandemic, concerns of terror attacks, political turmoil, and the health of the planet, compound everyday irrational fears like a fear of flying or spiders.

The Brain Science of Fear

Fear is an interesting thing. It’s awful to experience fear, but it’s actually very adaptive. It’s our minds’ best tool to do its #1 job: keep us safe and alive.

Out of all the brain regions, one of the key areas of the brain involved in fear is the amygdala. This area of the brain is evolutionarily old, it runs nearly automatically, and it goes into overdrive in situations that are unfamiliar to us. Many of you know this area as being responsible for your fight or flight response. 

When this area of your brain lights up due to a perceived dangerous situation, it can cause your heart rate to increase, blood pressure to rise, and the release of stress hormones. Repeatedly having your amygdala triggered can cause quite a bit of discomfort or even lead to anxiety disorders. 

Sounds a lot like what’s happening right now, doesn’t it?

The amygdala LOVES familiarity. Routine. Predictability. These characteristics are a signal of safety. So, when things get unfamiliar, unpredictable, when we deviate from our routine, the amygdala flips the panic switch, makes our heart rate go up, and leads to the fear and anxiety response all of us are so familiar with.

Now here’s the thing. Normally, we would tell you to counter the amygdala’s automatic fear response by using a more deliberative or intentional part of your brain called the prefrontal cortex.

Normally we would ask you to intentionally and systematically appraise your fear to help balance out your thinking. In most cases, that leads us to realize that, even though the situation we’re in seems scary to the amygdala, there really isn’t an actual threat out there. We can sort of rationalize our way into being a bit calmer when we aren’t actually facing dangerous activity. 

Here’s the kicker: there is a real threat these days. The virus is real, and it’s spreading. So, not only is your amygdala on an overdrive roller coaster right now… You’re outside of your normal daily routine, you’re likely feeding it a diet of news and social media, the future seems uncertain…all the things your amygdala HATES. But, your prefrontal cortex can point at actual evidence that a threat exists. 

So now what?!

In times like these, we would still ask you to balance your thinking using deliberate, intentional thought processes. 

The news focuses on extreme, salient cases where people had very bad outcomes because that’s what sells. That’s not an accurate representation of the virus, as a whole. A common-sense approach to the actual threat level is the best we can hope for but it’s hard to drown out the noise.

Dr. Ashley’s post last week touched on the importance of appraising the problem that’s in front of you right now rather than trying to predict the future. People enjoy feeling in control, and when you take the time to appraise the problem, your sense of control will return. 

But beyond that, here’s one more technique you can use: become more of an observer of your own thoughts. Put some psychological distance between you, the core human being that you are, and the thoughts you’re aware of. 

By taking the position of the observer, you’re distancing yourself from the rumination and emotion that can come from our thoughts, particularly when we’re afraid. 

I know that sounds easier said than done, but with dedicated practice, it can be done!

Build Your Psych Strength

At Peak Mind, we are dedicated to helping you build your psych strength. We have free resources, like our podcast as well as digital programs, like ASCEND, our comprehensive psych strength building program. Inside of ASCEND, you’ll develop the skills to see your thoughts as thoughts, rather than getting wrapped up in them – and so much more! This is such an uncertain and difficult time for many people, but psychological research shows us that it is possible to THRIVE through adversity. We want to help you do just that.

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What Do Grammar and Math Have to Do with Acceptance of Pain?

What do grammar and math have to do with mindset and emotional pain? More than you might think!

There’s an old Buddhist saying: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Once you learn this, your quality of life will greatly improve. 

If you’ve ever heard me speak, or even had a conversation with me, you’ve probably heard me say, “Just because life gives you a cactus, doesn’t mean you have to sit on it.” Roughly speaking, don’t do things that cause yourself to suffer unnecessarily. Instead of touching the cactus, admire it. Let it bring you joy, not pain. 

I’m not ashamed to admit that I got that pearl of wisdom from a meme on Facebook. In fact, it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever gotten from social media.

Why is that?

Because that saying so beautifully illustrates a critical math problem for life:

Pain + non-acceptance = suffering

This is something they don’t teach you in school. This equation does a great job encompassing one of the hardest lessons to learn. We often have little choice or control when it comes to pain. And there are many types of pain: physical pain, emotional pain, psychological pain. It doesn’t matter. It’s all pain, and pain is an unavoidable part of life. It’s how we deal with the emotional distress and negative thoughts that have long-term positive or negative effects on our mental health.

Take this pandemic as a salient example. There are so many pain points for so many people, and pretending like that pain doesn’t exist or trying to “just be positive” the pain away really isn’t helpful.

What is the solution, then? Acceptance. 

Acceptance

In psychology, acceptance is really captured by the cliche, “It is what it is” sentiment. Acceptance doesn’t mean liking it or approving of it or wanting it. Acceptance means acknowledging things as they really are and not allowing pain to dictate your actions in unhelpful ways.

Now, this is where the grammar lesson comes in. Acceptance can be hard to wrap your head around and even more difficult, yet, to embody and implement. What you can do right now to start toward a place of acceptance, though, is to insert the mental period.

The Mental Period

I was talking with colleagues from the anxiety world last night, and one shared this cartoon that so perfectly exemplifies the mental period.

 

When you experience a pain point, notice it. Acknowledge it. Then insert the mental period. This helps solve the problem of dwelling which only causes more pain. 

“It’s raining.” PERIOD.

“My head hurts.” PERIOD.

“I’m scared.” PERIOD.

“I’m feeling burned out.” PERIOD.

“I’m feeling bored.” PERIOD.

“People are losing their jobs and their loved ones.” PERIOD.

“I feel heart broken.” PERIOD. 

“And I’m grateful.” PERIOD.

See how that works? Give it a try this week and see if this is a more helpful way of dealing with pain, whatever form it takes. Try it with a family member and keep each other accountable.

This does not mean be complacent. It means developing a powerful skill that is often a part of proven therapy approaches like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which refocuses your mind and does so much for your acceptance of pain to mitigate intense emotional suffering. 

And if you want more tips and tools for building acceptance skills and other aspects of psychological strength, our ASCEND program is for you. There’s a whole section on acceptance and other tools for taming your mind, in addition to modules on becoming the best version of you and creating a life you love. 

 

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

 – Dalai Lama

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Feeling Fuzzy or Forgetful? A Lesson About Cognitive Load

I’m going to cut right to the chase today – we’ve been hearing from many people that they’re feeling foggy, forgetful, or absent-minded; these are symptoms of significant cognitive load.

You know, when you walk into a room and totally forget to do the ONE THING you went into the room to do?!

If you’re a mom, you’ve likely experienced it and had people say, “Oh, you’ve got ‘mom brain.'” 

As it turns out, “mom brain” is something much more pervasive, it has a scientific name: cognitive load and many people are experiencing it right now.

Cognitive Load

Cognitive load refers to a state that we experience when our finite amount of working memory is used up by the current mental tasks we’re trying to accomplish. 

Quick background, “working memory” is our quick-access memory system that is used for things that we’re currently working on. Extraneous cognitive load greatly inhibits our abilities to recall even basic elements of our tasks.

The good thing about working memory is that we have quick access to it. The bad thing is that it’s not reliable. Information isn’t even really encoded there. You have to work hard to keep information in working memory, like reciting your shopping list over and over in your mind, and the second you stop reciting it over and over, it’s lost.

It’s that resource-intensive repetition that causes cognitive load.

The only other option is to commit the information to long-term memory, but that takes hundreds of repetitions over the course of days or weeks. Not realistic for day-to-day tasks.

In our normal lives, this looks more like:

  • Attempting to work
  • while being interrupted by kids or others
  • while trying to remember that long list of items you still need to accomplish (appointments, email replies, items to buy, phone calls to make, what food is in the fridge, etc.)

By simultaneously holding “mental space” for all of these ongoing things, we deplete our working memory down to zero. Just like a computer out of memory, our information processing system has shut down. This example is just one of many types of cognitive load issues we might face.

There’s nothing left to help us remember that we went into the other room to grab our cell phone charger, for example.

And, as a result, we call our kids by the wrong name, lose our car keys, make errors at work, forget important items on the shopping list, forget an important family member’s birthday, the list goes on.

Who cares?

If you’re a well-intentioned, empathetic person who’s honestly trying to do a good job, you likely beat yourself up for being stupid or lazy or forgetful when this happens.

But, like so many of the topics we cover at Peak Mind, intrinsic cognitive load is just something that happens to humans who have brains.

If you are a human with a brain, you will experience cognitive load at some point, and if you’re taking on more than others around you, you’re likely to experience it more often. You’ve got more on your mind.

While our cognitive architecture can be adjusted through neuroplasticity efforts, cognitive psychology research shows us that you can’t “get good at” handling too much information. It’s not a limitation of yours. It’s a limitation every single human being has. It’s important to reduce your load on working memory capacity, especially when dealing with complex tasks. But, there are a few tips and tricks from the field of Life Design that can help you minimize it.

Minimizing Cognitive Load

STEP 1: Brain dump

The problem that’s causing your cognitive load is that you’re trying to hold too much stuff in working memory at the same time.

To get it out of your working memory, sit down, and write down everything going on in your mind. There are likely quite a few categories of things, such as:

  • Important, upcoming dates, deadlines, and responsibilities
  • Daily, mundane tasks you need to do
  • Shopping lists
  • Other family members’ / people’s needs
  • Things you’re particularly worried about right now

Brain dump them all onto a piece of paper, and add to it over the course of the day. Anytime a thought pops up that you feel like you have to remember, write it down.

STEP 2: Organize

Start to clump those categories and the items underneath them into broader groups, like:

  • Running lists (e.g., shopping, to-do lists, etc)
  • Dates & deadlines
  • Feelings & emotions

STEP 3: Create a System

Chances are you can’t eliminate many of these items from your list. It’s not realistic.

However, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HOLD THESE ITEMS IN MEMORY! Tools exist specifically for things like this!

The goal of this step is to make a system that you can use to handle the items that normally are in your mind, opening you up to have less memory problems, better mental clarity, and a better ability to problem solve. 

Here are my favorite tips:

  • Every single date and deadline gets scheduled on a calendar. And, I mean ALL OF THEM. If it involves other people, it goes on a shared calendar that notifies them 1 week, 1 day, and 1 hour before the event.
  • Every to-do list item that requires time to accomplish either gets put on the same calendar or it gets put on a back-log list (my list is in my iPhone). 
  • Create a running shopping list on your phone or in a common place in the house where everyone who needs to access it can access it. 

There are probably other bullets that you need to employ to take care of your unique situation, but the general concept is to account for all of the “stuff” clouding up your mind by putting it in a reliable, safe place so that you don’t have to remember it.

Iterate, iterate, iterate

Chances are, you’ll falter at first. You’ll forget to add items, or you’ll revert back to your old habit of just mentally reciting everything.

Adjust, go back to your system, and review it regularly to remind yourself that you’ve got everything accounted for. 

Over time, the anxiety associated with being afraid you might drop a ball will lessen as your mind catches on that it doesn’t have to take on so much anymore.

This system is one of the core elements of my self-care routine. I have a daily, weekly, and monthly task on my calendar to review this system, add to it, make adjustments, reprioritize, etc. It keeps my mind clear and my anxiety level down. 

If you want to develop your own blockbuster self-care routine, you can follow the method I use in Self-Care [by Design].

But, for now, be kind to yourself. If you’re feeling forgetful or frazzled, know that it’s simply cognitive load theory because you’re human and taking on more than one human being’s worth of stuff right now. No need to lose hours of sleep worrying this is Alzheimer’s disease or simply a part of aging. Rather this is natural side effect of your busy life! 

“Be kind to your body, gentle with your mind, and patient with your heart. You are still becoming, my love, and there is no one more deserving of the nurturing grace of your love.”
 – Becca Lee
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Be Like Gerda: Finding Gratitude in Darkest Times

Profound Conversations

Among many Holocaust survivor stories, few compare to that of our friend, Gerda.

You know those conversations that just stick with you? The ones that don’t necessarily seem significant at the time but that worm their way into your memory, take root, and blossom into something that fundamentally shifts your worldview?

Have you ever had that experience second-hand? When you weren’t even a part of the original conversation, you just heard the recap?

I have, and I want to share that with you.

Gerda’s Story

A few years ago, back before Peak Mind was even a consideration and Dr. April had just gotten into podcasting, she and I were catching up on the phone talking about grateful people and stories of gratitude. She told me about a recent guest she had just interviewed, a woman who survived the Holocaust. April told me that in their conversation, the woman (who I now know is named Gerda Weissman Klein) remarked to her that no one ever talks about the good parts of the Holocaust. 

EXCUSE ME?! The good parts of the Holocaust? There were GOOD parts of the greatest human atrocity of modern times? Anne Frank must have left that chapter out of her diary.

Gerda told Dr. April about the compassion and support and friendship and sacrifice amongst the Jews in the concentration camps.

The atrocities of the second world war with forced labor of men, women, and children, being deported to Auschwitz, seeing friends and family members taken to the gas chambers are too much to bear. I can’t even begin to imagine the hardships and suffering that Holocaust survivors had to endure, and I was blown away that one would highlight the bright spots.

Honestly, I was blown away that there were any bright spots.

That fact speaks to some of the strengths of the human spirit.

Finding a bright spot, something to appreciate or be grateful for, doesn’t negate the pain, the suffering, the hardship, or the adversity you are facing. Those things are real, and they’re there. They’re hard to ignore, and they tend to demand and hold our attention.

Finding Gratitude 

In my clinical practice, I often teach both kids and adults about our brain’s natural negativity bias, the importance of finding a “but at least” in every crummy situation, and the power of gratitude (there are SO MANY psychological and physical benefits, trust me). I am often, however, met with a version of “But this sucks! There’s nothing good about it.”

That’s when I share my second-hand conversation with Gerda. If she can find something to be grateful for during the Holocaust, I’m pretty sure we can find something here in the United States.

The attitude of gratitude – or the act of finding and focusing on those bright spots –  helps us have a more balanced view of our experience. It helps us to be strong and resilient. It gives us a lifeline to cling to when it feels like we’re drowning.

Don’t short-change this practice, though, by quickly naming things you should appreciate. Seek out the unique bright spots for that day, and when you find one, savor it. Really focus on it, tap into that sense of gratitude, and hold on to it for just a little while (10-12 seconds to be exact. That’s about how long it takes positive stuff to get encoded in our memories, in contrast to the negative stuff that gets socked away pretty much instantaneously).  

And as you work to find your bright spots during difficult times, please don’t let gratitude become a sneaky way to shame yourself. “You’ve got a roof over your head and food to eat. You should be grateful. Why are you struggling?” or “There’s always a bright spot. Why can’t you find it? What’s wrong with you?” Commence the self-criticism spiral. 

In those moments, perhaps the bright spot is simply that you tried; amidst everything else going on, you tried, and that speaks to your strength.

Whether your circumstances in this pandemic make it easy or difficult, I implore you to find something to feel grateful for each and every day.

Be grateful.

Be strong.

Be like Gerda.

“I pray you never stand at any crossroads in your own lives, but if you do, if the darkness seems so total, if you think there is no way out, remember, never ever give up. The darker the night, the brighter the dawn, and when it gets really, really dark, this is when one sees the true brilliance of the stars.” 
 – Gerda Weissman Klein

 P.S. If you want to hear Gerda’s powerful story, here’s her interview with April.